The first thing you do is hire Mike to represent you. I’ve been helping homeowners sell their single family homes, townhomes and condominiums in Chicago for over 25 years. I’ve seen every situation imaginable and know how to handle them all.
I began my residential real estate career in 1987 when the market was at a bottom, worked through the price surge from 1995-2001 and I’m still achieving great success for my clients in our current turbulent market. I take pride in being one of the few brokers in Chicago who has worked through an entire market cycle and knows how to get results in both up and down economic environments. I will get you better results than any of my competitors because I KNOW HOW TO MARKET AND GET YOUR HOME BETTER EXPOSURE TO POTENTIAL BUYERS.
I would be honored to be your guide and assist you with one of the biggest decisions of your life. I will represent you and not the buyer. So let’s look at Mike’s “Must Do” Checklist when you decide to sell your home.
- IDENTIFY WHAT KIND OF MARKET WE ARE IN. Typically, a normal market has a 6 month inventory of properties for sale. Identifying factors in a “Seller’s Market” include property inventory levels of less than 6 months, easy credit, lots of serious buyers and high consumer confidence. When you have several of these factors present at the same time you will usually see increasing property values. Identifying factors in a “Buyer’s Market” include high property inventory levels, tight credit, few buyers who are seriously looking and consumer confidence that is low. When you have several of these factors present at the same time you will usually see declining property values.
- DETERMINE WHAT MY HOME IS WORTH. For me, this is part statistical analysis and part real estate instincts that I’ve developed over a 25 year career.
a) For the statistical part, I will provide you with complete and current data of recent sales and newly active listings of comparable properties in close proximity to your home. The real estate term for this is CMA, or Comparable Market Analysis.
b) For the instinctual part, we have to look at the obvious factors such as the location and condition of the property, as well as the not so obvious factors such as the time of year are we putting the home on the market and the property history, if any, for this home.
All of these variables will help us find your listing’s “magic number.” In other words, an asking price that reflects the reality of this moment in time and will be attractive enough to induce a buyer to see your home AND bid on it.
- DO NOT OVERPRICE YOUR HOME WHEN YOU LIST IT. Read this heading again in case you did not understand items #1 and #2 on Mike’s Checklist. Statistically, approximately 50% of all closed sales received an accepted contract within the first 8 weeks of that new listing coming on the market. There are a group of buyers who are looking for a home and when your listing hits the market they will come and see it if it meets their preset criteria. These buyers have already seen everything that is available on the market in their price range. If your home is in good show condition, has most of the amenities the buyers are looking for and is priced competitively, you should have showing activity. If you have the best property with the most amenities at the most competitive price you will probably get an offer. If you overprice your home and your time on the market keeps getting longer and longer, potential buyers will begin to think that there might be something wrong with your home even though it is a nice home in a good location. If you should start to lower your price but you are still not at the “magic number”, then you are “chasing the market” and not doing what is necessary to get your traffic count higher and generate enough activity to receive an offer. If you follow steps #1, #2 and #3 you will be off to a great start.
- GET YOUR HOME IN SHOW CONDITION. When someone is about to make the largest purchase of their life it is up to the Seller to create the best “curb appeal” for the exterior and cosmetic improvements for the interior of the home. For the exterior, keep the lawn manicured, sidewalks swept, exterior painted if necessary, clean the windows and perform general repairs as needed. For interior enhancements, clean the carpets, polish the floors, paint as needed, fix non- working appliances and mechanicals, maintain spotless kitchen and baths, turn up the heat in the winter and the air conditioning in the summer and most importantly, DECLUTTER. Your closet should like a showroom at one of the large department stores: color coordinated, neatly folded and your closets look like they can hold a lot of clothes. Give clothes that you have not worn in years to a charity or get a storage locker. If you have too much furniture, now would be a good time to scale down. Don’t forget about your garage or basement and the pile that has been building up in there. Even add some lighting in areas that won’t show well at night. The bottom line is that if you do not take the advice in “getting your home in show condition” the result will be not generating enough second showing activity for you to receive a sales contract or if you do receive one it will be reflected in a disappointing price (and then some) because someone else will have to put in a lot of time, trouble and money into your home. I can recommend excellent handymen, electricians and plumbers so that all of those small items that you have been putting off getting fixed can be taken care of before your first showing. Remember the words “neutral, clean, bright, declutter” and everything will be fine.
a) Studies show that if have old appliances in your kitchen, replace them with new appliances (especially stainless steel) and you will get your money out plus something extra. It may shorten your time on the market as well.
b) If your home is vacant, I would strongly suggest that you stage your home. I recommend using one of the professional staging companies that I’ve used in the past because they got results! It’s been my experience that a staged home will sell 50% faster than a vacant home. The U.S Department of Housing and Development reports that on average, a staged home sells for more money and faster than a non-staged home.
You only get one chance to make a first impression so digest everything you just read in step #4 and implement the plan. It works.
- FILL OUT THE PROPER PAPERWORK. Now that your home is in tip top condition and we have determined your home’s listing price, we are almost ready to put your home on the market. You just have to fill out a few things to be in legal compliance and I will be happy to explain them to you.
a) Listing Agreement. The listing agreement is a legal contract that sets out the basic terms of the relationship between the seller and the listing agent. The three important terms are how long the agreement will be for, what the commission is to be paid to the listing agent at closing (a percentage of the sales price) and the seller authorizes the listing agent to post the home in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
b) Residential Real Property Report. The purpose of this disclosure is to provide prospective buyers with information about material defects in the residential real estate property. “Material defect” is not a word a buyer wants to hear so go back to Mike’s Checklist step #4, read it again and then get any material defects in your home fixed BEFORE you list your property.
c) Lead-Based Paint Disclosure. Every purchaser who has interest in residential property on which a residential dwelling was built prior to 1978 is notified that such property MAY present exposure to lead from lead-based paint. If it was built in 1978 or later, this disclosure does not have to be filled out.
d) Radon Disclosure. Every buyer with interest in residential real estate is notified that the property may present exposure to dangerous levels of radon gas. In my 25 years of real estate experience, I have encountered only one case of radon and that was in Lincolnshire, a far northern suburb of Illinois. It was easily fixed 24 hours later. I’ve never seen a case of radon in Chicago.
- LET THE MARKETING BEGIN. It is now time to list your home. Here is my plan to market and sell your home:
a) A Picture Says a Thousand Words. I will hire a professional photographer to take high quality interior and exterior pictures of your home so that a potential buyer can view them online. I will identify the most marketable property and community focal points for use in advertising materials and the listing description.
b) Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois (MLSNI). I will submit your home listing to the MLSNI database that reaches all of the thousands of Chicago area Realtors and maximizes your home’s exposure.
c) Brochures and Signs. I will produce customized, full-color property brochures with photos, floor plans and amenities. This will provide potential buyers with a professional looking and comprehensive profile of your home. A “For Sale” sign will be delivered to your listing address and placed where it will receive the maximum visibility.
d) Real Estate Radio. As a recognized professional in Chicago real estate, I am a regular contributor on real estate radio AM 1160 with host Bruce Beddard. On the show, I talk about current issues of the day in Chicago real estate and always receive a couple of minutes to promote my listings on the show to the listening public.
e) Internet Marketing. Over 80% of all home buyers start their search on the internet which makes the internet the #1 search tool for residential real estate.
I utilize top rated real estate websites such as Realtor.com to draw as many eyeballs to your home as possible. Realtor.com is the official web site of the National Association of Realtors and it has more than 35 million visitors each month, more than any other real estate website in the country.
Social media marketing. I utilize the latest social media to sell your property, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Gravity. I leverage these new and popular tools to connect with potential home buyers, companies, clients and other industry professionals. When you are selling your home, I will use my own social media contacts to broadcast your listing. You can connect with me on social media channels to learn about listings, market trends, home buying tips, neighborhood information, preferred vendors, Chicago entertainment and sports, humor, new stories and much more. I am the friendly voice of Chicago and want to connect with you on social media.
Video marketing of your listing. I go one important media step further than the other realtors. At no charge, I will make either a virtual tour of your home with my voice as the narrator or I will make a short video where I act as host and walk the viewer through your home. The video will then be posted on YouTube (the go-to web site for video sharing) as well as my real estate website www.mikechicagorealtor.com.
- YOU HAVE RECEIVED A CONTRACT FROM A BUYER, NOW WHAT? A valid real estate contract will be written with a purchase price and a closing date. There are two scenarios here:
a) You, the seller, accept the offer exactly as it is written and we have a deal. Great!
b) 95% of the time, however, the seller rejects the offer and then COUNTER-OFFERS. This counter-offer constitutes a NEW OFFER. It is usually for less money than the seller was asking for and more money than the buyer was offering. The buyer may now accept or reject the seller’s offer and this process of offers and counter-offers continues until there is an acceptance or the deal dies.
- THERE IS A MEETING OF THE MINDS. Now that the buyer has shown proof that they are pre-approved for a loan, the buyer and seller have agreed on all terms, contingencies and most importantly the sales price, both parties will sign the contract and it will be considered binding upon the buyer and seller.
- LET THE PROFESSIONALS DO THEIR JOBS.
- FINAL TO DO LIST.
a) Attorney. Give a copy of this contract to an attorney who specializes in residential real estate. There are nuances to every deal and although we have a binding contract, it does not cover everything. We typically have six to seven business days to complete this step so please get a copy of the contract to your attorney as soon as possible. If you do not have an attorney, I can suggest several good ones.
b) Home inspector. The buyer is going to hire an inspector who specializes in residential real estate. The buyer usually has five to six business days to conduct their inspection so as soon as it is over they will inform your attorney through their attorney if they uncovered anything that requires any remediation. If you had a handyman fix all the odds and ends that needed attention prior to the inspection and you have your mechanicals checked annually, this inspection should go well and there will be little, if anything, to rectify after the inspection.
c) I will be monitoring the progress of all the parties to this transaction. I will be in touch with your attorney, the buyer’s lender, the buyer’s broker and the appraiser to make sure that there is not a breakdown in the process and that everything will lead to a successful closing.
a) Hire a mover. Unless you travel lightly there will probably be some items that you own that will require the services of a professional moving company. Some of them even pack and unpack for you. This can often be the most stressful post purchase activity and if you do not have a relationship with a mover that can also provide you with storage services, please ask and I will be happy to refer you to professional moving companies that I’ve worked with in the past.
b) Utility companies. There is a link on my website’s home page for the City of Chicago so that you can contact the electric, gas and cable companies.
c) Schools. If you have children, you’ll want to register them for the school in your new neighborhood or if there is time you can apply to one of the Magnet programs or private schools. There is a link provided on my home page for the Chicago Public School website as well as information on Chicago private schools under “Chicago Resources.”
d) Post office. Be sure to fill out a “change of address form” so that all of your mail, bills and subscriptions get forwarded to your new home address.
e) Important items to leave behind. Make sure that you leave the following items for the new purchaser of your home:
- Keys to front door, back door and garage and label them
- Garage door openers
- Appliance manuals and warranties
- Alarm code for the security system – The best place to leave these items is on the kitchen counter. The new homeowner will greatly appreciate your courteous gesture.