Find Your Summer Lake Home

Blustery cold winter days with wind chills in the negatives makes it seem like the long, warm, lazy days of summer are a long way off. We miss afternoons spent out in the sunshine, sans coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.

But, I promise, those beautiful summer days will be here quicker than you expect. Now is the time to plan on how you want to spend those warm sunny days. Would you love to live by the lake and enjoy the water? Or how about purchasing a weekend home with lake views?

Now is the time to start your lake home house hunt!

As everyone else hunkers inside next to their fireplace to stay warm, there will be less competition for you as you look for your lake home. Less competition means its less likely you will encounter a bidding war on your dream home and will be able to get it for a lower price.

Additionally, you need to consider the length of time it takes to purchase a home. If you want to watch the spring season bloom from the deck of your new home, you need to get moving! It typically takes approximately 75 days (that 2 ½ months!) to get possession of a house once an offer has been accepted. That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time you need to find your dream home and the negotiation process! To put it into perspective, if you have an accepted offer on a home at the end of January, it could be mid-April before you unpack your bags!

There are currently several homes near the lake or located on channels that are for sale. Here are a few listings, you won’t want to miss:

  • 3 Oakwood Lane, St. Marys – $99,900 – Channel front lot, 2 bed, 1 bath, 896 sq. ft.


  • 5392 Behm Rd., Celina – $145,000 – Overlooking the channel, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,070 sq. ft.
  • 155 Notheana, St. Marys – $155,000 – Located on the channel, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 1,624 sq. ft.
  • 138 Lago Vue, St. Marys – $196,000 – Located on the channel, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 1,764 sq. ft.
  • 42 Causeway, St. Marys – $199,000 – located on the channel, 3 bed, 2 bath, 1,585 sq. ft.
  • 148 Waterbury, St. Marys – $240,000 – located on channel, 3 bed, 2 bath, 2,061 sq. ft.
  • 72 Southmoor Shores, St. Marys – $245,000 – located on channel, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 1,798 sq. ft.
  • 110 Marbellow, St. Marys – $249,000 – located on channel, 4 bed, 2.5 bath, 2,435 sq. ft.
  • 80 Southoor Shores, St. Marys – $275,000 – located on channel, 3 bed, 2 bath, 2,184 sq. ft.

If you’re dreaming of a lake home, give me a call; I can help those dreams come true!

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


Finding Your Dream Home

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment: What does your dream home look like?

Perhaps it’s a charming country cottage surrounded by acres of wide-open space. Maybe its just a quick walk from downtown with shopping and eating options, a lake house, or a quaint suburb in good school district.

Many people fantasize about one day turning a key and walking through the doorway of their very own perfect home. That vision may change during the different stages of our lives; but with a little perseverance and some help from a good real estate agent, you can find your dream home.

A dream home can mean different things to different people. A dream home is something within price point but inspired by a wish list. No matter your current life state, there are still some aspects of a dream that you can reasonably obtain during your house hunt. However, you may need to make a few compromises; just don’t compromise on things that are most important to you and your family.

Once you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage and know what you can afford the first thing you need to do is make a list of your want and needs. And yes, there is a difference. You may want a pool, but is it really a need? Once you’ve written your list decide which items are most important and which you might be able to compromise on.

Also, your list and priorities may change as you go through the house hunting process. For example, you may want lake-front, but once you find out the cost of those homes, you may decide to settle for channel front or few blocks away from the lake to get a larger home for a smaller price tag.

Decide on your “most lived in” spaces: where do you spend most of your time in your current home? Are you an aspiring amateur chef? Then you’ll probably care about the kitchen set up a lot more than your friend who orders in most nights. Do you like to cuddle up in front of the TV or take long soaking baths? Then focus on those areas when looking for your dream home. There is a lot more to a home than the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You need to look at your lifestyle and find a home that compliments it.

If you have a black thumb, avoid high maintenance gardens unless you have the funds to hire a gardener. If you work from home at least a few days a week, a separate office space may be a priority. Do you enjoy taking walks? Then you may want to look for a neighborhood with sidewalks or walking trails.

When looking for your dream home, stick to your budget and don’t torture yourself by looking at homes outside your price range.  You will also need to decide if you want a reno or a move-in ready home. Buying a home that needs a lot of work is very different from a buying home you can just move into. Only you can decide which type of home best suits you. Just be honest with yourself and your capabilities, if you’ve never laid tiles don’t convince yourself that your can do it yourself without help just because you watched a show on HGTV or a YouTube video!

Make sure to focus on the layout and flow of the house along with square footage and location. These are important aspects of a house that are hard to change. Whereas paint color and flooring can easily be changed. Moving a kitchen to the other end of the house is much harder and more expensive to do!

New furniture and a fresh coat of paint can really transform a space. But pretty finishes and a trendy design don’t make up for a poor layout. Also, make sure to look under the surface. Just because something looks pretty, doesn’t mean it was maintained correctly. Look deeply when viewing a property. Open doors and windows. Look in closets and cupboards. Check under sinks, in crawl spaces and attics. Feel the walls for dampness. And make sure to get a home inspection!

The most important tip to remember is, don’t give up! It may take awhile to find your dream home, but be patient. Your dream home is out there. Even if it takes months, it’s worth it when you finally find something you love.

And if you don’t get the house that you put an offer in on? That’s ok. It just means it wasn’t the right house for you.

Once you find your dream home, make sure to celebrate! Buying your dream home can be a long and sometimes stressful process, but it will be worth it in the end.  A good real estate agent can help make the process easier. Picture yourself in your dream home and call today to start the search.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


Wanting a New Home in 2018? Start the Process Now!

In a few weeks, it will be 2018; and if you have dreams of a new home for the new year, you should start preparing now. Buying a house – whether it’s your first home, or an upgrade – requires preparation. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be and the more prepared you will be to move forward when you find the home of your dreams.

First, check your credit score. This step is important if you are planning to apply for a mortgage or home loan. To qualify for a mortgage and get the best possible terms, you need to have a good credit score. It will also give you a chance to make sure there aren’t any errors on your report. If you do find an error, you will have time to correct it before applying for your mortgage.

There are a lot of websites that can help you understand where your credit score is at. The scores aren’t always 100% accurate so take them with a grain of salt. While checking your credit history, resist the urge to close your older credit accounts; because these give you a good average length of credit history.

A credit score is a representation of your credit worthiness. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. A higher credit score is always better when taking out a mortgage. You are bound to get the best interest rate and best loan terms if your credit score is 740 or more. The interest you pay for your loan is important because it dictates the entire cost of your loan.

It’s possible for people with a credit score in the high 500s to turn it into a high 600s in just a few months. So if you need help improving your credit score, check out some online resources or talk to good mortgage lender for advice.

Second, no new credit cards. When preparing to buy a house, you should also stay away from new credit cards even if they come with irresistible benefits. I know it can be tempting this time of year as you complete your holiday shopping and the cashier informs you that you can save 20% on your purchase by opening a department store card. Tempting as saving at checkout can be, opening a new credit card may hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, or at least of getting the best rate. Just remember, even if you have already been pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan, that is no guarantee! Opening a new line of credit can possibly make you lose your pre-approval. Nothing is set in stone, until the closing papers have been signed and the house is yours!

Third, start saving. Even if you qualify for a 0% down payment loan, chances are you will need money to close. Closing fees and other up-front costs include inspections, lender fees, home owners insurance and more. Plus, there are the moving expenses, which can include deposits for utilities.

Fourth, find a mortgage lender and get pre-approved. Before you start looking for a home to buy, you need to get a mortgage lender first. This step is critical because it lets you know the kind of home you can afford to buy. It saves you time, money and headaches during the home buying process. Need recommendations for a mortgage lender? Call me, we work with lenders every day and can point you in the right direction.

Being preapproved shows that you are a qualified potential buyer. Neither Realtors nor sellers want to waste time showing a home to someone who ultimately is unable to buy the home due to inability to qualify for a loan. Being preapproved also makes any purchase offers stronger in the event of multiple offers.

To apply for preapproval, your mortgage lender is likely to ask for four pieces of critical information.

  1. W-2s for the past 2 years or complete tax returns if self-employed
  2. Paystubs for the last 30 days
  3. Last 2 months of bank statements for all checking, savings, and asset accounts
  4. Names, addresses, and account numbers of all creditors.

Fifth, find a great Realtor. Before you find the house of your dreams, you will need to find a great Realtor to help you navigate the home buying process. A great Realtor will not only help you find a great house, but will also help you negotiate the best terms and price.

Talk to your Realtor about your must-haves and wants for your new home. Your Realtor will be able to keep an eye on the market and let you know when new homes that meet your criteria hit the market.

By starting the preparation process now, you will be well on your way to a new home in the new year.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


Tips For a Successful Holiday Move

The holidays are usually a pretty hectic time for most people. Between shopping for presents, attending school functions and work parties, and getting the decorations all untangled, it can feel like you are just constantly rushing from one event to the other. It’s a tough time to be uprooted and to feel like your life is in flux. But what if you happen to be moving during the holidays? How can you fit in such a huge endeavor and still enjoy your normal festivities? It’s not like you have loads of free time.

Don’t worry; moving during the holiday season doesn’t mean you have to turn into a Grinch this year – not if you’re well-prepared. To ensure that your upcoming relocation is as merry and bright as possible, I have a few tips for moving during “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Don’t forget to figure holiday traffic into your moving plans. The roads will be full of holiday shoppers and travelers. The busiest brick-and-mortar retail shopping day of the season is actually “Super Saturday,” aka the Saturday before Christmas Day. In fact, the entire week leading up to Christmas is jam-packed with last minute shoppers. The Holidays are also some of the busiest travel times of the year. It’s probably best to avoid moving on these days, if possible. At the very least plan your route to avoid malls, highly trafficked retail areas, and major thorough fairs. Stick to more local routes. Even if you have to drive a few miles further, it will be worth missing the traffic while driving a moving van!

The key to being successful at anything is to organize what must be done, and when it needs to be done. I suggest writing down ALL your holiday must dos (the office Christmas party, the kids’ school play) as well as holiday wants (like taking an evening to drive around and view light displays).

From there, pick designated days that will be devoted to packing your current home. On those days, turn on a Christmas show for the children, and start to tackle the packing.

First, start as early as possible preparing for the move. A few weeks before your closing date, go room by room finding all the things that won’t be moving with you – clutter or rocks the kids collected, or your broken vase you keep think you’re going to fix someday. Donate these items to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, post them on Facebook or garage sale websites. Moving is a perfect time to de-clutter!

Then choose a location to stage all your boxes. A garage, if you have one can be a perfect location. Once again, go room by room packing up all the non-essentials. Get all your books packed. Pack all your off-season clothing, pull down everything from the attic, extra bedding, etc.

But don’t pack all the Holiday decorations! The holidays are a time to celebrate and even though you are moving, that doesn’t mean you can’t decorate at all! There are lots of festive Holiday decorations you can do that don’t require tons of time or elaborate set-up. Depending on how close your moving day is to Christmas, you may want to wait to put up a tree until you are in your new home, or you can put it up but not put up all your ornaments. This is a great year for just lights on your tree, a wreath on your front door, and few of your favorite holiday items.

Make sure to pack your Holiday decorations that you will want to display immediately in your in new home in clearly marked boxes, so you can unpack those boxes first and make your new home festive.

Don’t skip family traditions when moving. Don’t let the stress of what you have to do ruin the fun you usually have – get out and enjoy the holidays! Stick to the list you made earlier of all your Holiday must do’s and wants. Carefully fitting in the fun family traditions doesn’t mean you can’t make a few changes. Instead of a big home-cooked meal; go out to eat with family and friends. After all it’s all about the people you’re with, not the food. Or move the dinner to another family member’s house this year. Bring a dessert from a nice bakery or a bottle of wine. Help with the dishes. You can cook the family meal next year in your new home.

Make sure to plan for intrepid weather. Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather on moving day. In this part of the country, holiday season can mean cold – sometimes frigid – temperatures. From icy roads to white-out blizzards, there could be dangerous winter weather conditions, posing serious challenges for moving. To ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you have proper supplies and winter-ready garments to deal with treacherous conditions. Boots, hats, gloves, shovels and salt may be necessary. Pack your belongings in as many waterproof plastic bins as possible. Watch out for slippery sidewalks and stairs. And don’t forget to have your heat and electricity turned on in your new home before you arrive.

When you reach your new house, don’t stress to unpack everything – take time to enjoy the holidays! Kick back and sip some eggnog. You’ll have plenty of time to unpack in January.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


Winter is Coming! Tips to Prepare Your Home

Whether you like it or not, cold snowy days are coming! The days are getting shorter and the air is getting colder. Some people in the area have already had a small sprinkling of the white stuff! But are you prepared?

For the next few months, we will be wearing our heavy clothes, seeing our breath and generally freezing! Beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, winter weather can damage your home if you’re not prepared. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement. An ice damn in your gutter can cause water to seep into and saturate an interior wall.

There are few things you can do to make sure that your house is prepared for winter. If you’re a new home owner, you may want to spend extra time looking things over and making sure you’re set for the colder months. Those that have been in their home for a while, might already have a winter prep drill they go through every year, but it never hurts to take a step back and double check that you’re not missing out on something that could help you get through the winter season.

Here are a few tips to prepare for winter:

  1. Clean out gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
  2. Remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house.
  3. Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl space with insulation sleeves to help prevent them from freezing and to slow heat transfer.
  4. Depending on where your hot water heater is located, you may want to consider a hot water blanket.
  5. If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you’re not using it. You may also want to consider having the chimney professionally swept to prevent a chimney fire.
  6. When the temperature dips really low, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets.

Just remember, cold and hot water flow through different pipes. I left the cold water running on a particularly cold day a few years ago and came home to no hot water! The hot water pipe froze, but the cold water pipe was fine due to the running water. Luckily, I was able to thaw out the pipe with my hairdryer before it burst and caused damage!

  1. Replace furnace filters.

If you’re selling your home this winter, here are a few more tips to help you with the selling process.

  1. Clear a path. Keep your walks shoveled and clear of ice for the safety of potential buyers. You may also want to place extra mats inside doors to collect any water or snow before they accidentally track it through your home.
  2. Let in the light. With shorter days and less light; your house might seem dark and dreary. To show it in its best light, pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Consider bringing in additional lamps.
  3. Turn on the heat. You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger and look around.
  4. Ease up on the scents. Many people like to burn candles, or use plug in air fresheners especially during the holiday season; however, some people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers. It can also aggravate people with breathing conditions. Instead, simmer spices such as cinnamon in water or bake cookies just before the showing!

Once you finish with you autumn home checklist, you will be ready to relax in your warm comfortable home and enjoy the season!

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


Re-inventing Spaces into Unique Homes

Across the nation, there are a number of unique homes being built from existing structures. There’s something about the charm of an old school house, barn, fire house, or even a silo. These structures have history, unique features and spark the imagination. They may be fun to visit and tour, but they are even more fun to live in.

Many people have renovated old structures into new lives as homes. Many projects retain part of the history keeping the charm and appeal of the structure. And often this leads to interesting living spaces such as church homes with choir lofts or barn homes with wide open spaces and original rafters.

Take a peak at a few interesting repurposed homes.

Here are two different churches that have been converted into homes:

Here is a school that has been converted to an inn:

And how about a water tower!?:

So now that you’ve seen the possibilities are you wondering if there are any converted properties near you? You’re in luck! There is a converted one-room school house for sale in Monticello, west of Spencerville and north of St. Marys. The 3 bed, 1.5 bath home is currently on the market. Best of all, it still has the bell tower and the bathroom is built on the stage where the piano sat when the structure was utilized as a community hall!

Built in approximately 1890, the school house has also been used as a church and community hall. Here are some pictures of the building through the years:

Here is what is it looks like today:

If you’re interested in checking out this unique home, give me a call to schedule a showing.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

That is especially true when advertising your home for sale. What do you want the pictures to say to potential buyers?

First impressions matter. With busy lives and today’s technology, the first impression buyers most often get of a home is from the photos in the MLS listing. Buyers will quickly move on if photos don’t reflect well on a property.

Are you ready to see this blurry house this weekend?

blurry house

How about this fuzzy kitchen?


This kitchen at 38 Beaver in Montezuma

38 beaver Kitchen view 2 pic 2

or at 520 Locust in St. Marys might be more enticing.

520 locust kitchen 3

At least you can get a good idea of what each of these looks like before visiting either of these listings.

Millennials are not the only ones who use the internet to search for houses; today, almost everyone – in fact, 95% of all home buyers – takes advantage of technology to find their next home. Ultimately, they look at the photos before proceeding to the next phase of the sales process. This means, they decide whether or not they will even visit a home based on the images they find online.

Where did this house go?

where is the house

Compare the last image to the front picture of this listing at 520 Locust in St. Marys.

520 locust front 3

Which image is more appealing and is more likely to entice  you to go look at the house in person?

Properly lit, high- resolution photos are the only type of pictures that should be used in a home marketing campaign. Like any other sales effort, it’s important to put your best foot forward.

I guess it was too hard to rotate this picture which was actually found in a listing?


What happened to the lights in this picture?

turn on the lights

Compare the above photos to this photo of 38 Beaver in Montezuma.

38 beaver front room view 3

Notice how you can easily see what is in the picture without tilting your head or squinting.

Realtors also need to pay attention to mirrors and other reflective surfaces that can effect how a picture may turn out. The Realtor nor the flash should be visible in the picture!

man in the mirror

And no pictures are the kiss of death. With so much information available these days, you only have a few seconds to grab potential buyer’s attention. If there are no pictures to look at, a buyer will likely move on.

There also needs to be enough pictures of a property to adequately represent the home. There are way too many listings out there with only one picture of the front of the home. How can a potential buyer picture themselves in the space or make a decision on whether or not it’s worth their time to go see the home based on that?

Good pictures aren’t just the responsibility of the real estate agent. The seller also needs to do their part to ensure good listing photos. Clear out the toys and declutter the home. A good photographer can’t magically leave out yesterday’s dirty dishes setting on the counter or cut out the toys scattered from wall to wall.

whats cookingcomfortable living for the casual person

Would you rather visit the home above or this clean home at 520 Locust in St. Marys?

520 locust family room3

520 locust master

When selling your property, make sure to work with an agent who is going to take good quality photographs of your entire property to market your home. Don’t work with someone who takes a drive by and calls it a day!

drive by

By Bonnie Marlow, Realty, Cisco Realty


5 Reasons to Buy a Home this Fall

The summertime real estate season is as hot as the weather, but fall doesn’t necessarily mean the real estate market cools off too.

For the first time in recent history, October surpassed June as the most popular month to get married. And these autumn-loving brides may be on to something: Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home. Fall doesn’t have to be thrown to the leaf pile by potential buyers. Autumn is about more than just haunted houses and turkey dinners.

Fall is a great time to buy a home (and not just because you can browse the listings while cupping a pumpkin latte!).

First, there is less competition from other buyers, and you’ll be less likely to get into a multiple offer situation or a bidding war! Since many people consider the fall an off time to buy real estate, buyers will postpone their home search if they haven’t found their dream home by the time leaves start falling. But there are still homes for sale. Fall means new inventory and repositioned old inventory that did not sell in the spring and summer months.

This puts you, the buyer, in a great position to negotiate. Many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays.

Second, sellers that put their homes on the market during the spring and summer are worn out and might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months on the market, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. Sellers who were unrealistic about price earlier in the year are now ready to reduce their price to more realistic levels.

Third, sellers of new listings are serious.  Not all homes on the market in the fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right for them. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move for their job. The sellers who put their homes on the market in the fall tend to be serious and that means they could be open to negotiating.

Fourth, you are the center of attention. Because spring and summer are traditional times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. That is also true for other professionals you’re working with to buy a house. Service providers, such as mortgage lenders, title companies, inspection companies, are moving out of the summertime busy season and can often respond quicker and have openings in their appointment schedules.

Fifth, you can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your new home. There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. And you’ll want to decorate it. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? The fall is traditionally a great time for sales. September is usually a good time for finding sales on carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

Always keep in mind that the best time to buy is ultimately the time that is best for you and your family, no matter the season. Hold out for the home you want. If you’re thinking about buying a home this fall, contact Bonnie at Cisco Realty.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty


FSBO vs Listing Agent: Which is the Best Option For YOU

You’ve decided to sell your home! Congratulations! So with all the technology and information available to help you sell your own home, should you do a FSBO (for sale by owner)?

It depends. If you have a good personality and can embark on a well-planned sales and marketing campaign; if you can drop everything to show your house and talk to potential buyers; if you can have thick skin when a potential buyer disses your decorating; if you can negotiate the legal requirements and paperwork; then maybe you’re ok to try and sell your home yourself.

But selling your home yourself is more than just getting a “Home for Sale” sign in the yard. You need to have a sales plan. And be ready to invest a lot of time and effort into the process.

Real estate agents work to smooth the process of selling your home. They are your advocate. Listing agents work to get the most money for your home, in the least amount of time, with the fewest headaches along the way.

Selling your home is typically an emotional process. Having an agent keeps you one step removed and makes you less likely to make stupid mistakes such as overpricing your home, refusing to counter a low offer because you’re offended or giving in too easily when you have a deadline for selling your home.

If you forgo an agent, you’ll also have to deal directly with rejection every time a potential buyer is not interested. An agent can take the sting out of the rejection and put a positive spin on any negative feedback.

One of the first and most important jobs of your agent will be to make sure your home is priced correctly. Pricing a home too high can cause major issues in the sale. Buyers may avoid it, and if they avoid the home long enough, it will develop a bad reputation. Eventually, you will be forced to drop the price to be competitive in the marketplace, but by that point, the bad rep will have stuck.

Agents should also be marketing the heck out of your property. Your agent should take great pictures of your home. In today’s world, buyers are looking at pictures online to decide if they want to take the time to see a house in person. Bad pictures or no pictures will not entice buyers to your home.

In addition to using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), your agent should send your listing to multiple public real estate websites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com, and Zillow.com to name just a few. Your real estate agent should also have a website that showcases their properties for sale, and should be using social media to market your home.

Agents will also make sure that the buyers who are looking at your property are actually able to buy your home. Anybody can say they are interested, but not everyone can afford to buy your home and get a mortgage. A good agent will make sure buyers are pre-approved and aren’t just window shopping.

An agent will coordinate all of the showings and handle all calls and inquiries on your property. When selling your own home, you will need to be available to show your property at various times. You will also need to field numerous calls at all different hours of the day. Can you rush home from work every time someone wants to see your home? Can you excuse yourself from a meeting every time your phone rings with a potential buyer? At the end of a long work day, do you have the energy to take advantage of every possible opportunity to market your home? An agent will handle this for you.

Everything is negotiable in a real estate contract. A good agent can submit counter offers to get a better price. If a client wants adjustments to contingency clauses or closing times, a real estate agent can handle the negotiation process.

During the home selling process, issues may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud on the title is discovered. Your agent can objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.

There are many fees involved in selling a home such as title preparation, pro-rated real estate taxes, conveyance fees, negotiated buyer’s closing costs, etc. Your real estate agent will give you a detailed estimate of all of the fees so that you won’t be blindsided at closing and have a good idea of what you will net from the sale.

The required paperwork for a home sale can be overwhelming. A real estate agent will handle all of the paperwork and communication with the buyer’s agent, title company, and lender to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. By completing the sale yourself, you can put yourself at risk for being sued. If forms are filled out incorrectly (especially the property disclosure), the seller can be held liable for fraud, negligence or breach of contract. Your agent is familiar with the paperwork and the laws. Agents can and do make mistakes too, but they have professional insurance to protect themselves.

Selling a home will likely be one of the biggest transactions of your life and can be very stressful, but when you have an agent in your corner who is taking care of the little details, the burden can be eased just a bit.

Hopefully, you now understand the things to expect from a real estate agent and what you will have to shoulder if you decide to do it on your own.

Good luck in selling your home! I hope you have a profitable and speedy sale whether you hire an agent or go the FSBO route.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor


Selling Your House? Avoid These Costly Mistakes

Selling a home may seem like a simple process. You clean it up, show it to a few people and one of them buys it. The trouble is that the process is actually much more complicated, with legal and practical considerations you may not know much about. Sometimes, sellers make simple mistakes that could cost them big, even after the sale is complete.

Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home’s owner. By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in.

Here are common selling mistakes that could cost you money:

Pricing Your Home Too High

Some homeowners think that the most objective way to price their house is the price they paid for the property, plus the cost of improvements, in addition to the real estate agent’s fees. That list pricing rationale is not objective from a buyer’s perspective – and has little to do with market value.

Some sellers want to “test the market” by pricing high, but this is potentially the most costly seller mistake. Avoid playing games with pricing. Set it right from day one!

The listing price for a home must be based on a consideration of the present market value, which is typically estimated by a comparison of recent home sales and current listings for similar homes. While this may not mesh well with your expectations for the home, if you overprice your home based on sentimentality or a wish to “test the market,” you run the real risk of having the home sit on the market for months.

Pricing a home to sell quickly is not just efficient, but common sense. The fact is, the longer a home sits as an active listing, the more buyers start to wonder what is wrong with it. Overpriced homes don’t do sellers any favors.

The best way to avoid an overpriced listing is to listen to your real estate agent. Agents know the market and what comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for in the past few months.

If you don’t listen to a real estate agent and base your listing price on an inflated view of your home’s value, you’re likely to end up selling after multiple price drops for less than you would have if you priced it right the first time.

Ordering Expensive Upgrades Shortly Before Selling

There is a big difference between getting a home ready for sale and undergoing extensive remodeling. The former is practical and can generate a better sale price, while the latter rarely results in an equal return on investment.

No matter how much money you could throw into your home, target improvements that are most likely to increase your return on investment. For example, updating your outdated carpet could help sell your house more quickly. While gutting the kitchen and rebuilding it from scratch will most likely cost you several thousands more than you will receive in increased home value.

Answer Incorrectly on the Seller Disclosure

During the selling process, you will complete and sign a lot of paperwork. Consider all of it legal documentation, and treat it with the utmost respect.

On the seller disclosure, homeowners are asked to indicate their knowledge about certain aspects of the home. Typically, they are directed to check “yes,” “no” or “do not know”.

If a seller confirms the good condition of a particular structure or system in the home and they are knowingly answering incorrectly, not only could it kill the deal, but even in a successful sale, the buyer may have grounds to seek remedies against the seller after closing. Hoping that a buyer or their inspector won’t find out about the leak under your bathroom sink or the fact that your basement gets flooded every winter is never a good idea. You run the risk of a nasty negotiating period – or worse, a lawsuit after the closing. To avoid such a scenario, home sellers should strive to be forthcoming about the information requested on the seller’s disclosure.

Selling Without a Real Estate Agent

There are homeowners who sell their homes without the services a real estate agent. However, these sellers take on a lot more responsibility for the sale of the home.

Selling For Sale By Owner is time consuming and difficult. It takes more than finding a yard sign on Pinterest and posting an ad on Craigslist. You have to spend time showing the property, make sure you have the correct paperwork required by your state, and spend hours reading and understanding the legalese of the contracts you’ll need your buyers to sign.

It is true that real estate agents charge a commission on the sale price as their fee. However, with this fee comes a significant amount of expertise and support for you as the seller. Also consider, the agent earns nothing if the home doesn’t sell – so they are assuming “risk” as well.

An agent can take out some of the high emotion by interacting directly with potential buyers, so you don’t have to; and eliminating tire kickers who only want to look at your property but have no intention to buy.

An agent will also have more experience negotiating home sales than you do, potentially helping you get more money than you could on your own. Further, if any problems crop up during the process – and they commonly do – an experienced agent will be there to handle them for you.

In general, selling your home without an agent makes other real estate agents and buyers hesitant to engage with you on a sale, because they know that they are probably not working with a professional or an expert.

Ignoring Expert Real Estate Advice

Sellers pay a real estate agent to be an expert to help them sell their homes with the least amount of stress. It is a service that is designed to make your life easier, and to net you more money at closing. You should be an active participant in the discussion about how best to sell your home, but all advice should be taken seriously.

Selling a home calls for amazing attention to detail. Homeowners who set reasonable prices, minimize major upgrades, follow their agents’ advice and maintain honesty in the selling process are more likely to sell their homes without hassle.

Failing to Prep Your Home for the Sale

Decluttering, cleaning and polishing shows off the condition of the house and lets prospective buyers imagine themselves in the space. Prepping the house is one of the biggest, most time consuming jobs, so if you’re considering skipping this step, it’s understandable – but don’t. If you want a better return on your investment and buyers to feel comfortable in your space, preparing your house is essential.

Not only should everything be scrubbed and shiny, you should also consider giving your walls a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color such as beige. Neon green walls are fine when you’re living there, but they could turn off potential buyers.

If you fail to declutter your home, your emotional attachment to your stuff could cost you thousands of dollars on the price of your home. Maybe that’s worth putting your keepsakes in storage until you can find the perfect place for them in your new home.

Prepping your home for the sale includes the outside. If you polish and primp the inside of your home but neglect to pull weeds or paint your front door, you run the risk of potential buyers leaving without ever entering your home.

Letting Your Pets and Kids Spoil a Sale

During the selling process, you need to recognize that while you love Fluffy and your darling twins, buyers want to visualize themselves and their own family in your home. Bribe your kids if you have to, but make sure the house is neat and as neutral-looking and smelling as possible. Take the kids and your pets out (or lock up pets) when prospective buyers are visiting. You never know if someone who is allergic or terrified of dogs or cats will be turned off from making an offer because of your adorable pet.


The road to a successful closing date is paved with mistakes, but now you know to take out the trash, paint your walls beige, list at your real estate agent’s recommended price, and to take your pets with you during a showing.

If your goal is to sell your home, the best thing your can do is hire a qualified Realtor to help with the sale – and then listen to their advice. Most Realtors are aware of the various moves that turn off buyers and can help you avoid them.

Or, you can buck the system and do things your way, but if your pink walls and leopard print carpet turn buyers off, don’t say you weren’t warned.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor