If you have seen any of my posts on social media I have posted a link for you to “ask me anything“. I encourage you to do so if you have questions, but I thought I would answer some of the top questions I have been asked along the way with a few suggestions from Google.
What is my home worth in this seller’s market?
You may hear a lot of terms like assessed value, AVM (automated valuation model) value, and CMA (comparable market analysis) value so let me explain what these mean.
Assessed is a dollar amount placed on your property for tax purposes by a municipal or county that takes into account things like similar properties, location, and home improvements. They then take this dollar amount and multiply it by a fixed percentage assigned by that tax jurisdiction. The assessed value is updated usually every 1-3 years. Currently in Harrisonburg, this is done yearly due to increasing home values.
AVM is a service that provides real estate property valuations using a mathematical database. This value is a point in time based on comparable properties in the area by using historical data, public sales data, and trends. The AVM is only as accurate as the data in the algorithm. If the data is outdated, incorrect, or has no historical information, then the AVM will not always be accurate. This is why new builds, un-permitted updates, older homes with less data, and rural property with less sales will not always be as accurate as established neighborhoods in a city.
A CMA is a report provided by a licensed real estate agent that will tell you what the buyers are willing to pay for your home based on recently sold, similar properties in the immediate area. The CMA will evaluate sold properties in the neighborhood or within a few mile radius of the property being evaluated. Characteristics such as size, number of rooms, layout, age, upgrades, and condition will be collected and compared to the comparables or “comps”. Adjustments will be made by the real estate agent so apples to apples are being compared. After the adjustments, an average price per square foot is calculated, and this will become the current market value for the property.
A CMA will be the most accurate when determining your home’s valuation. If you are filling out a form online or speaking to a real estate agent over the phone, they are more than likely giving you the quick AVM range. If you want a true valuation, it is important to ask for an in-home appointment so the real estate agent can see your property and offer a true valuation.
Looking for your AVM range? Visit my website under Sell to find out! Then, book an appointment with me to further understand your home value.
What do I need to update in order to sell my home?
We are currently in an extreme seller’s market so most homeowners think there is very little they need to do in order to sell their home. In some cases this is true, but if you are truly looking for a quick, smooth sale at or above list price there are a few things buyers desire. After all, buyers are paying top dollar in this market and they are looking for move in ready homes. I can write an entire post on how to prep your home for sale, but let me give you the ones that add the most impact.
Declutter and clean – Take spring cleaning to a whole new level and touch every room, drawer, and storage space. Organize it, clean it, host a yard sale, but de-personalize your home and get down to only essential items. Don’t forget the sniff test.
Lighting/Fixtures – This is relatively a cheaper fix to update your home both on the outside and inside. No one wants vanity lighting or acrylic knobs in the bathroom, brass chandeliers in the living room, or faded porch lights anymore. Light and bright spaces are more appealing to buyers. Don’t forget the natural lighting as well and open those curtains!
Painting – Painting is a great way to tie rooms together and help with the flow and feng shui of the house. You want to choose a color that is soothing and neutral to attract most buyers so avoid stark white and bright colors. Also take this time to remove personal photos or art that can be construed as weird or offensive and prep the walls for painting. Don’t forget to include the front door!
Flooring – Wall to wall carpet has been out of fashion with buyers for awhile, but often mismatched and worn flooring is as well. Luxury vinyl and laminate have come a long way over the years, and are in high demand for busy lifestyles. If you can’t afford to redo the entire house at least consider updating the main living areas. However, if there are areas of your home with worn, outdated carpeting consider the update. And please no carpet in bathrooms.
Curb Appeal – First impressions matter in life and in home buying and you only get one shot to get it right. Power-wash your home and walkways, re-stain or paint the decks, refresh landscape beds, and update the garage doors. Make the entry way inviting, open, and easy to access. If you know your roof or AC unit is at the end of its life, don’t offer a credit. Consider the update before listing so buyers don’t start off thinking there are updates to be done. Don’t forget to update the house numbers since most buyers will use them to verify they are in the right place.
Kitchens – This room is arguably the most important and the most expensive to update, however, minor updates offer a great return on investment. Updating appliances, changing out countertops and cabinet pulls, and painting outdated cabinetry will not only keep the cost of a full remodel down, but show buyers your home is move-in ready.
You want potential buyers walking through your home visualizing themselves living there. The more refreshing and updating you do before listing increases the opportunity for higher offers since buyers won’t be adding up repair costs as they tour your home.
What are the first steps I need to do to buy a home?
The first step you most likely will hear is get pre-approved, however, I don’t feel it starts with the lender. In order to qualify for a home, you have to have the credit score. There are many free apps you can download to see and monitor your credit score. Most lenders will not finance a home if your score is below 620. These apps will not only allow you to see your score, but offer advice on how to increase your score if it is not where you need it to be.
The next step is finances and speaking to a lender. Currently, the median home price in the Harrisonburg market is right around $300,000, meaning you would need to have at least $16 – $20,000 saved for the purchase. If you have a lower credit score or a higher debt to income ratio, you could need more in available funds. If you don’t have the extra cash don’t despair! There are programs that offer closing cost assistance to make home ownership achievable. Speaking to an experienced lender is the key!
Once you have the credit score and the financing in place then it is time to meet with your real estate agent and start the home search! A great Realtor will guide you through the process from start to finish but also be a resource for you after you move in.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has put out a great chart called “Home Buying in 6 Steps”. You can access this chart on my website under resources by clicking here. You can also download a great buyers guide there as well.
Is there a place I can go to find school district maps or school performance for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County?
This is a common question for home buyers moving to the area as well as relevant information needed by Realtors to offer accurate listing information. Realtors have access to several resources to help guide home buyers, but here is a link to the local information for our area. You can also use online resources such as Neighborhood Scout or HomeFair to gain accurate information on school statistics and ratings.
There are a lot of what ifs in buying and selling a home and not always a one size fits all answer. The key to success is not being afraid to reach out and ask the right questions.