Sure, REALTORS® help you buy, sell, and lease property, but they also advocate for public policy that helps consumers.
For example, the Texas Association of REALTORS® recently announced its support for the property tax reforms provided in Senate Bill 2, now making its way through the Texas Legislature. The bill is a positive step forward in ending the common practice of local elected officials misleading taxpayers when budgets are adopted at the local level.
“When local elected officials hide behind increasing property values to justify larger budgets, taxpayers suffer. Senate Bill 2 goes a long way to fix this problem and provide more transparency and honesty in the local tax-rate setting process,” said TAR Chairman Vicki Fullerton.
The bill reduces the rollback rate for local taxing entities and requires an automatic rollback election if the local taxing entity exceeds the rollback rate. Despite some comments to the contrary, the bill does not limit the amount of revenue a local taxing entity may generate.
The association believes the bill will help give property owners transparency during the tax-rate setting process and encourage voter participation. To better understand the property tax process, visit hiddenpropertytax.com.
First-time sellers beware: there are lots of myths out there about the right way to sell your home. While your Texas REALTOR® is your first line of defense against making these mistakes, here are three common selling myths busted:
Myth: I bought a house, so I know what it’s like to go through a real estate transaction. I’ll sell my home on my own and save money by not using a real estate agent.
Truth: Texas REALTORS® don’t work for free, but that’s because they provide valuable assistance through the home-selling process. Selling isn’t the same as buying, and a Texas REALTOR® can help you reduce your risk of making a costly selling mistake. Plus, they help clients with the ins and outs of property transactions every day and are plugged into your local housing market. If you DIY, that means you’ll have to spend time marketing your home adequately, be available to show the home yourself, and navigate your way through a tricky transaction alone.
Myth: If I price my home higher than market value, I’m leaving room for negotiations.
Truth: Buyers have no idea you’re employing this strategy and won’t understand why your price is too high. Many won’t even view your home, much less put in an offer. When your home is priced improperly, it’s more likely to sit on the market, making potential buyers think there’s something wrong it. When that happens, you’ll probably wind up with lower offers than if you had priced the home fairly at the start.
Myth: All I need to do is mow the lawn and hide my stuff in a closet and my home will be ready to show.
Truth: Is a mowed lawn and hidden clutter all it takes to attract you to a home? It won’t work for potential buyers of your property, either. Your Texas REALTOR® might go through your home with you and identify areas that could use some sprucing up to make your home more appealing. Or, he or she might recommend working with a home stager to make the best impression. Be open to those suggestions … your Texas REALTOR® knows what makes a property sell quickly for top dollar.
Smart home technologies have obvious benefits, such as more efficient heating and cooling or being able to unlock doors remotely. But do you know a smart home can also be a safer home?
Smart smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors are clear examples of devices that keep your family safe. If these devices connect to a central hub or mobile device, they can alert you to issues in the home and let you take action whether or not you’re present. Smart garage doors can let you know if they’re left open. Internet-connected cameras and motion sensors can detect intruders in the home. Smart locks can quickly and easily be programmed to block a person who is now unwelcome in your home.
Keep in mind that smart home features, like any online service, can be vulnerable to security weaknesses. Create strong passwords, secure any wireless networks or hard-wire devices, read reviews before purchasing devices, and stick with devices or systems from established brands that you can trust to update security features and provide support.
Smart home features may not be at the top of your list when shopping for a home, but they can add value and safety.
I’ve never heard a homeowner say he wants to sell his home as slowly as possible. Yet some people make poor decisions that lead to their homes staying on the market much longer than average. In fact, there are a few homes in my neighborhood that have been for sale way longer than others nearby.
With each of those homes, my reaction was the same when I first saw the asking prices. Wow, can they really get that much?
So far, the answer has been no. In the meantime, those sellers have been paying carrying costs for their homes … month after month after month.
How do you determine an asking price that’s high enough to maximize your profit but not so unrealistically high that it will make your home harder to sell? A Texas REALTOR® can go over the numbers with you and explain how your home’s value fits in to the current sales market.
Zillow readily acknowledges that Zestimates can be inaccurate, but some consumers can still take them at face value, causing headaches for agents.
Screen shot shows $1.75 million Zestimate of property formerly owned by Spencer Rascoff the day after the home sold for $1.05 million
Citing the chasm between the sales price of Rascoff’s former home and the property’s Zestimate may be one way for real estate professionals to show clients that Zestimates are, as Zillow says, only a conversation starter for pricing a home, not the final word on its value.
Philip Gray, a San Leandro, California-based appraiser, is taking this approach. Bringing up the Zestimate of the property Rascoff recently offloaded will help him deal with the frequent pushback he receives from homeowners “who think Zillow is the magic 8-ball,” he said.
Zestimates on Rascoff’s former home have certainly been overstating the property’s value, said Zillow Chief Analytics Officer Stan Humphries.
“The fact that we missed and there are empirical reasons we missed — that’s a great conversation that real estate agents should have” with consumers, he said, citing the property’s irregular lot and location on a busy road as partly responsible for its Zestimate’s inaccuracy.
But he expressed hope that, in the same discussion, agents also won’t instill “data nihilism” in consumers, and that they acknowledge that humans also can miss the mark.
Since Zillow only shows revised historical Zestimate data on property pages, the home’s property page currently indicates that the property’s Zestimate was around $1.6 million in July 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 more than the Zestimate that actually appeared on its property page on July 17, 2015.
Have you ever entered your address into a website that claims it will tell you how much your property is worth right now? And have you ever been shocked at the number it calculates? As it turns out, many of those websites don’t have access to important information about your property and instead use data that might not be so accurate. In fact, these popular websites explain the limitations with their own data in their disclaimers—which you can read for yourself in this free flier.
A Texas REALTOR® is the best source for real estate information online or in person, especially when it comes to helping you determine how much your home is worth. They also have a lot of other useful advice about buying, selling, or leasing property in Texas, and they’ve shared some of it for this free guide, Now that’s a smart move. Check it out and then contact a Texas REALTOR® for more useful—and accurate—information.