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Pricing Your Home To Sell


Why is it that some homes sit on the market for a year while others sell like hot cakes? Frustrated sellers will blame a bad market, while a good real estate professional will tell you that many times, a slow sale is often attributed to the listing price.

If a home is overpriced, buyers will stay away. But, if the price is competitive with similar homes in the area and “shows” better than the competition, it will have a better chance of being sold quickly.

The secret is perfecting a technique that’s as American as apple pie: comparative shopping.

Although comparing houses with different styles, square-footages and locations is challenging, real estate professionals still feel it’s one of the best methods to use when determining a home’s market value.

A responsible real estate agent will effectively evaluate a home’s worth through a process known as Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Taking a look at assets, such as a swimming pool, bigger than normal living spaces, a fantastic view, adjacent city parks and other attractions, the agent will begin to compare your home with similar properties, called “comparables,” that have sold in the area within the last six months. Typically, it is a realistic price range that will ensure you top dollar and a reasonably quick sale.

However, factors such as the amount of time needed to sell your home can affect the agent's price recommendation dramatically.

I can determine the typical duration that listings are on the market and can explain that the marketing “norms” vary with prices and properties. Based on this criteria, we will be able to sell your house for a price that both you and the buyer will be happy with. However, if you’re under time constraints because of unexpected job changes or moving agreements you’ve made on another property, this will narrow your chances of selling the home for top dollar in the market.

Assuming you have sufficient time to market the home, here are a few small steps you and your agent can take to finding the right price for your property.

The best comparisons can be made with similar homes that have been sold within the last 45 days as opposed to the standard six months. Any longer, and other factors, such as the economy, could cloud your view of how much your home is really worth.

Another good benchmark is to review the selling prices of homes that have just been sold and are pending closes. Most MLS services provide information on deals pending that most real estate agents should be able to share with you.

A good rule of thumb before setting a price is to make 20 comparisons of comparable properties within a one-mile radius of your house. Once completed you can feel comfortable that the price you’ve picked is a good gauge of the home’s worth and won’t discourage qualified buyers.

Being open and honest about what you see as the home’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses will also help your agent get a better feel for how to best evaluate (or assess) and market your home. Think of your home as if you were the buyer. If your home is listed at the right price, you’re well on your way to a speedy and fruitful sale.


If you are ready to buy a home, but the down payment is holding you back there is a program you may be interested in.  It is called The Nehemiah Program.

The Nehemiah Charitable Model uses funds from charitable sources for downpayment assistance for persons who qualify.  You can get more information on this  program at  There is a tutorial on how the program works.

Nehemiah is an FHA product in that all loans must comply with FHA/HUD rules, but there are many great points such as.....

  • Gift funds up to 6% of the final contract sales towards your downpayment and/or closing costs
  • Gift funds for both first time and repeat homebuyers
    (Nehemiah charges a nominal processing fee that may be paid by the seller, homebuyer, or lender.)
  • Gift funds for both new construction and resale homes
  • No repayment of gift money
  • No income or asset limits
  • No geographical restrictions

If you think you can use this program to purchase a house in our current market, which is a great time to buy, then give me a call.

Be realistic. Ask for help. Have patience.

If you're selling a house, don't skimp on a pro's services — which can earn you more than it costs — and be prepared to live in a showroom during what could be a bit of a wait for a buyer. Price your home realistically and be patient and know that things will stabilize.

Us the following tips as a guide throughout the sales process, with links to additional resources.

Before you list

Selling a house is likely to be one of the largest financial transactions of your life. Find a real-estate agent whose experience and commitment you trust. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals then interview several. Some things to ask include:

• What's your marketing strategy? This is where your agent really makes the difference. Make suer you discuss how your real estate agent is going to market your property.
• Will you represent me exclusively in the transaction, or the buyer, as well?
• What are your commissions and fees?
• What's your impression of my home?
• Can you provide the names and contact information for previous clients?
Gather your paperwork: Once you select an agent, he is going to ask you for a lot of information. Gather these documents:
• Prior year's tax bill, utility bills, water and sewer bills;
• Declarations, covenants or deed restrictions on the property;
• Assessments, surveys and plats;
• Sales and repairs of major appliances and building components;
• Inspections for pests or environmental hazards;
• Lists of items to be included in or excluded from the sale.

An agent will also run through the disclosures you need to make on the property, basically any problems that could potentially make the home less valuable.

The above documents will be needed, so start now in gathering the above items and you might even make a few copies to have on hand.

You can also find out which disclosure forms are required from your state's real-estate division. It's important, because even the most upstanding seller can forget a repair or minor blemish from long ago.

In some state if you don't disclose something, and it's found that you did have knowledge, you can be subject to triple damages.  Be aware of everything.

Get an appraisal: You can hire an independent certified appraiser or get a few real-estate agents to prepare comparative market analyses. CMAs will detail similar houses that have sold in your area over the past three months and will drive the agent's suggested price per square foot for your home.

You real estate agent can provide automated home valuations, so make sure to ask the agent to prepare a CMA on your property.   For now, deep local experience still trumps the computer models, so expect to revise your list price based on your agent's feedback.

There's not a lot of subjectivity. As the seller you need to be realistic and realize that the agent has all the tools needed to get an accurate picture of what the price needs to be to sell.

Price it right:

Buyers today are savvy. Eighty-four percent look online before contacting an agent, and two-thirds hire an agent to represent them.

The biggest mistake sellers make is overpricing their homes. Overpricing leads to price reductions and increased time on the market, both of which look bad.

When your home sits on the market and sits on the market, then your home becomes stale and it looks to buyers like they can negotiate further and the price drops more.  Set the right price at the beginning, chances are you'll get pretty close to it

Consider a home inspection: As a seller, it is not your responsibility to conduct a home inspection. But for about $300, you can uncover potential problems and fix them before listing your home.


Surviving The Chaos Of Moving Day





Anyone who has had to move to a new home, whether down the street or across the country will know that it can be a highly stressful time, especially when things don't go as smooth as you had planned. When things don't seem to go quite the way you intended you may wonder how can you keep it organized and keep yourself sane.  Here are a few tips to calm the chaos and have a more pleasant move.

Things to Remember:

  • When you are packing remember to MARK THE BOXES.  Some movers do some of the packing for you but if they do, they won't pack certain things. Marking the boxes will make it easier when you arrive at the the home and when you unpack.
  • When you are marking the boxes,be sure to mark the boxes of things that you will need first so these items can be loaded last. Things like kitchen and bathroom supplies need to be more readily available.
  • Be sure to pack a bag or box of the necessary items that you will need on the drive to the new home or when you first arrive.  Remember essential items like medication and personal items.  This way, you don't find yourself struggling to find something you need immediately.
  • Make yourself a folder for everything that concerns the move so that it doesn't get packed or shipped with the things from the house.

Before the truck arrives:

  • Remove all rugs, door and floor mats. Area rugs and the likes will not help the movers protect your floor, they will only get in the way.  Most professional movers have pads that will protect you floor.
  • Be sure all pets are locked in a crate or secure room so they don't escape accidentally.
  •  Disconnect the spring on the screen doors so that they stay open while you are loading process.
  • If the moving company did the packing for you, help by keeping the walkways clear for the driver and crew.

Remember that the “Arrival time” of you household goods is only an estimate.  Things happen that the driver may have no control over and even the best laid plans can have some hiccups. The key is to prepare an plan the best you can and try to enjoy your new home! 

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Contact Information

Photo of Masha Halpern - Boutique Real Estate Real Estate
Masha Halpern - Boutique Real Estate
Keller Williams Realty
101 Cosgrove Avenue, Suite 200
Chapel Hill NC 27514
Direct 919-951-1780
Toll Free 877-478-4669
Fax: 919-928-9030

Masha Halpern of Keller Williams Realty provides real estate services in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area including real estate services for buyer, sellers and those relocating to the surrounding areas of Apex, Bahama,Cary, Efland, Hillsborough, Holly Springs, Mebane, Raleigh, and Wake Forest. Search for homes in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham or the surrounding communities.  Request a market analysis for your North Carolina property.  I list and sell residential real estate, investment property, vacant land, lots for sale in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina real estate and homes for sale in North Carolina - Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team