Here is a summary of the Seller's Checklist (scroll down for details):
The Art of Selling
The Listing Agreement
Let the light shine on your Property!
Selling As-Is, with Tenants, or Estates
How to Sell in the Changing Markets
Negotiating the Sale -- You Are In Charge
My Home Still isn't Selling
Now, let's deliver the keys to the new Buyers!
We are your Local Hawaii Professionals.
It seems like everyone is plugging into the YouTube, DIY movement. Weekend warriors are the stuff of legends, from painting to decorating; we salute all you do. Yet some things like changing an electrical panel or tackling a plumbing drain are best left to the professionals. At Aloha Realty Group, we believe that selling your biggest financial asset should be one of those times when you hire a professional.
Will your agent be a bold negotiator, a genuine powerhouse who gets results and also does the little things that matter to close the sale? It’s essential to have a good, open and frank relationship with your agent, no matter whether you are a seasoned seller or a first time seller. This is the secret sauce to a successful outcome.
Our professional values of transparency and frankness should match yours. It’s our job to work exclusively with you, tailoring a custom marketing plan, while paying close attention to your specific situation and keeping track of the “little things” that matter while working daily to achieve your goals.
Your agent will take you along the journey of selling your home using a specifically tailored marketing plan. We are not a cookie cutter franchise, we are an indie boutique agency that caters to clients who are smart, keen and eager to achieve their stated goals with like minded professionals. One size doesn’t fit all for Sellers.
We will help you laser focus in on value. The larger websites claim to be able to give you a quick “look see” for value, using a wide catch algorithm, but an actual, real time comparable market analysis (CMA) takes time. We might caravan you around to see the quality of the competition or scour the public records to find homes that have sold privately to get you the best and more realistic asking price. Robots can’t help you stage, or set a tone for your property’s true value.
It’s our goal to help you net the highest amount, tempered by the local niche market and your selling costs You’ll need to know upfront, if you are in a seller’s market in your area, if interest rates are a factor in a buyer’s decision for your property, or if tax considerations, (HARPTA withholding, FIRPTA withholding, conveyance, 1031 Tax deferred exchange) will be an issue. Contact us for a list of closing costs for your home.
In many cases Hawaii's limited inventory can give you the confidence that you will grab the high end of the sweet spot of value, but it’s important to educate, inform and update you as markets are always changing.
Does your home tell a story? We take the time to find the stories behind the property that help to elevate it above the competition. Our islands have a rich history, and by doing a little digging we can help uncover an irresistible backstory to the marketing plan. Storytelling, “taking story”, and sharing archival information can also help you to recall and disclose important facts that are related to the home, considered to be material facts.
See our Curb Appeal checklist to start improving the drive by experience of Buyers. Some of these things you can start today.
When you sell a property and to be listed in the various databases, it is common to sign an Exclusive Listing Agreement with your agent’s brokerage. The agreement will spell out some of the following conditions:
Most exclusive agreements run up to six months. A typical sale takes 60 days from agreement to close so if a home hasn’t sold within this time period, either a new strategy is needed or it’s time to revise pricing. You can also part ways or renew the agreement.
The commission is a percentage of the sale. The agent gets paid at the closing. We are working together with you and have a very strong interest in seeing you reach your goals. We get paid at escrow, after the sale is completed. We traditionally receive 50% of the stated commission and agents also share their commission with their respective brokerages. What does a Realtor do anyway?
An exclusive agency states that as your agent we have the sole right to sell the property, and will share the commission with a buyer’s agent. You are still in control of the purchase price and terms you will accept but you must pay a commission to the selling agent even if you find a buyer yourself. If you wish to exclude a favorite nephew you can, just give us the list of who is to be protected.
This protects the seller’s interests and agent’s list of potential buyers for an agreed upon amount of time after the contract is canceled or expired.
Personal Marketing Plan
Upon the signing of the Listing agreement, it is important to discuss and establish the terms of the marketing plan. Many things need to happen before a property is ready for the market, be sure that all involved are on the same page. We will provide you will a timeline and comprehensive checklist for the pre-marketing all the way through the sale and create mutual expectations for a successful closing.
Paint, Purge and Prepare
Purging, painting and preparing will help you get your home as ready as is physically and financially possible. If you aren’t willing to take some of these on you may have to reconsider your price expectations. Buyers today are more strategic and can see desperation and despair in the quality of a property’s appearance; today Buyers expect to see an incentive it the home isn’t up to par. Sure, in tight markets you can just list and sell but don’t expect to pull that lottery ticket as we are starting to see longer time on the market in many areas.
It’s time to pack away the rock collection, par down the beloved books and pack away the personal photos. You will want to depersonalize the property as much as possible to protect your privacy and to begin to set the stage for a Buyer to imagine living in your home. Why not start now? (See our blog post for decluttering tips!)
We know you love your 5 person, group recliner sofa and the favorite mug that sits next to your lava lamp, but sometimes the best approach is pack up as much as you can to create space and set up a new tableau of staged items that scream neutral, hip, minimalist so the Buyer can imagine their own La-Z-Boy or Arthur Miller epic piece in the space.
Cleaning is not the most fun item on the "to do" list, but we all know how much better we feel when we are in a clean, sparkling space. Making the home shine means tackling the corners, the window sills, the walls, grout and even the scents if you are a smoker. A bright and organized “looking” closet speaks to the small details that matter to new home seekers.
This will be a budget item to consider, as the property needs to be shiny and bright for the photos and prying eyes that will follow after you open the doors to the public. Deep cleaning is worth every penny.
Fresh paint, in a clean crisp white color or “silver bullet” grey speaks volumes to would be buyers. Like the new car scent, a freshly painted space screams #crisp #clean. This is also a good time to consider some improvements that can add significant value to a buyer. Flooring can make a buyer cringe if the carpet is old and worn. You can credit them for a new carpet but why not take the time to upgrade some things and reap more than 100% return on the investment.
Take a look at our Vendor list for assistance and professional advice. We will also help you decide what makes the most sense with your particular home, and we can help you coordinate these.
Some sellers smartly decide to hire a home inspector to give them an objective arm’s length report of what is needed to bring the house up to par and to look at the systems that often affect value such as roofing, air conditioning or swimming pool fixtures. These are areas that Buyers traditionally will try to beat a seller up over. If you were the type that deferred maintenance this might be the time to address those pesky things as they will affect value and may and might hit your bottom line resulting in financial concessions. Fixing those little things like faucets, appliances and replacing light bulbs with flattering lighting can make a buyer fall in love all over again. Home warranties can also be an option to help a Seller cope with repairs while offering a buyer continued care and confidence.
We offer light staging but sometimes the project calls for a full staging that can be of significant expense to the seller. But done correctly the decorators can transform spaces into magical tableaus that really help Seller’s achieve a top price tag. Pinnacle properties with premium asking prices are a small, yet powerful market – we will work with you and your budget to showcase the home in it’s best light.
Let the Light Shine on Your Property!
Showings, Open Houses, and Photo Shoots
We will be taking specific photos known as “the money shots”, or the angles that show your home’s charm, general curb appeal or special qualities that will lure the public to want to offer to buy your property. Natural light, great towels, clean counters, and fresh flowers all add interest and intrigue. Our team of professional photographers will work to set up high quality shots. We all work diligently together to help you set the stage for success.
The plan also needs to include your availability for showings within a reasonable time frame. Once the listing is submitted the horse race really starts and the potential buyers will want to visit the property. If the home is priced to sell, expect the line to see the home to be long. So we want to open the door with our best foot forward period. Pulling all of the pieces together will be our job and we will need your cooperation and patience as we “go public”.
Selling As-Is, with Tenants or Estates
Not every transaction is a beloved home but every transaction has it’s own past, and future possibilities. Here are some selling options:
Selling “as-is” is just that, what you see is what you get. You may be in a hurry to liquidate, or you lack the money to renovate or shine the property up. Presale prep can still happen with an “as-is” sale and we recommend that you try to do some things that can and may save you from taking a bath on the sale. Items can be removed, taken to be stored off site, sold, or donated. Cleaning, painting can still make a difference and trying to address some things as best you can help boost your net. “As-Is” sales still requires a seller to disclose any material facts, and you may find that a Buyer will ask you to fix the health and safety issues or they may demand a credit. See the “As-Is” addenda sample.
Yes and yes, tenants are complicated. Tenants have rights and in Hawaii a seller must give at least 48 hr notice to show rentals. Tenant occupied properties don’t usually show as well and if the tenant is not cooperative they can drive a wedge into the smooth process of showing the property. Many owners will offer a discounted rent in exchange for shorter notice to show or they time the lease to coincide with the marketing timeline and lease renewal. Tenants who plan to stay in a longer lease will hinder the sale and you will need to find an investor buyer who isn’t planning to move in right away. It is best to be open with your communication with the tenants and we will always work respectfully to meet their needs and yours
Often these properties are in an older condition, though vintage they may require extensive renovations, clean outs and may not appeal to a wide range of buyers. It is recommended that like “As-Is” properties you try to find a good balance of curb appeal and crisp prepping to entice more buyers and gain a better purchase price. There are many companies who assist families with valuation of family treasures and many needy agencies will gladly send their truck to pick up donations. See our ARG Vendor list for our recommendations.
Why is Full Disclosure Important?
Hawaii is a Seller’s disclosure state (Here is the law for reference). This means that a Seller is obligated by law to disclose repair history, defects or major issues that are known to the Seller known as material facts. The seller is required to fill out the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure Form (SRPDS) to the best of their ability and deliver it to a Buyer once in contract. If a material fact is discovered later, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract until the day of closing. If something was clearly hidden by the Seller, the Buyer can elevate the issue legally. This is a serious aspect of selling a property in Hawaii. Non-owner occupants and estates are mostly exempt from disclosing past information if they genuinely are not aware of any material facts but they still must fill out the SRPDS. Things like pending lawsuits or publically available information should be researched by sellers to be sure to cover all bases. (DPP, Meghan’s law, DLU and other public info sites).
Buyers are usually given a period of time to inspect the property, and they are given time to review the SRPDS. It is in the Seller’s best interest to be as forthright as possible.
Sellers are also are required to provide the Buyer with any and all documents that apply to the property such as Condo or Association documents, preliminary title search, a current termite report within 2 weeks of closing, and a current survey. These are costs to the seller.
Information that might affect the property negatively do come up and it’s best to find a path forward with transparency. Today, many condominiums are experiencing system wide failures that require the owner’s association to “assess” one time fees to owners to fix, replace or retrofit things like sprinkler systems, plumbing lines or elevators. Sellers must provide all of the information related to these unforeseen expenses. In order to sell properties with assessments, owners will sometimes elect to pay for the “special assessments” outright with the proceeds of their sale to entice a buyer and move out from underneath the property. In other cases, the condo may have elected a long term additional mortgage that can’t really be paid off, but these circumstances usually yield a lower price for sellers. See Clauses and Contingencies for Sellers.
We will navigate you through the Purchase Contract, and various contingencies such as Financing, Property Inspections, Title Report Review, Termite, and Survey Inspections.
How to Sell in the Changing Markets
We will keep you informed of any changes in the market. You will be invited to a market portal link, which will send an email that shows any changes on current listings. It also reports any recent closed sales that may affect your decision-making. Being flexible, informed, and supported are the fundamentals of a good working relationship with your agent. Daily communication and quick response times while tendering offers are essential to closing on time. We pledge to be transparent by presenting all offers in writing. We do our best to be available and responsive. This is a 24/7 job but sometimes the lines do get crossed, please be patient and know we are working for your best interests - we will return calls as soon as we can, and aim for same day responses. In rare cases this may be difficult. But we will do our best, always to do the right thing for the right reasons in the most reasonable amount of time.
Negotiating the Sale - You Are In Charge
Initial Vetting of the Offer
Not all offers are alike. Just like not all homes are alike. When you receive an offer, it’s up to you to draw lines in the sand. We will organize the paperwork, and run the small details from the beginning to end, but the sale depends upon what works for you. We can give you information to help you decide, and we will honor your decisions. See a copy of the Purchase Contract.
Some considerations as you make your decisions:
Just as preparing for the sale, with proper information and pertinent documentation, you will want to see the actual written offer. In some rare occasions, you may be asked what your bottom line is, and that it's up to you to disclose but it is important to see the offer in writing and understand the clauses and contingencies.
Is the Buyer motivated and Ready? Cash funds verified, loan pre-approval letters, and down payments are the stuff of closed deals. We will verify these as well as proof of cash funds if you have a cash buyer.
Cash is King, But Not Always
Only you can decide your threshold of risk. Cash buyers will often remove many clauses in the contract and removing the financing clause can give many sellers piece of mind that the property won’t close because of financing. But what if the Buyer is offering more money with a loan, versus a cash buyer who might be looking for a quick closing discount? We might advise that you consider a wide angle, as it is our job to help you net the most you can. Your agent will work diligently to see early on if the loan is strong and likely to close without any snags.
The Sticking Points
It is best to know and anticipate the aspects of the sale that are really and truly non-negotiable. Buyers are always looking to reduce the retail sticker price, and their agents are fighting for the best deal for them. It is best to consider this prior to a sale and consider where there might be “room” for a compromise. We will help you keep your poker face intact, but we'll also be direct and open about the impacts and implications of the negotiation’s sticky spots. Sometimes the small offer of compromise, a new dishwasher or requested repairs, can be pennies on the overall purchase. There are also times when the price point is spot on and compromise is not advised. It is our job to help you close, within a reasonable amount of time for the best price.
Hawaii is an Escrow state, and will assist in the transfer in ownership.
My Home Still Isn't Selling
So the baseboards are shining, the appliances are humming, and still after several open houses you have no nibbles. It’s time to reconsider the approach. Baking cookies is nice but it doesn’t sell homes, usually it’s a bigger factor and a new attitude that can breathe new life into your listing. Don’t panic, share your concerns and we will keep you informed.
Usually it’s the price, mostly always it’s the price.
It’s time to take another look at the comparable sales and see why they have sparked an offer, and what the prices are. Sometimes you can’t compromise, or offer any new incentives. Price go up and down.
Every condo, neighborhood and home is unique, and each has a story within a story to tell. Some market aspects are out of a Seller’s and Seller’s agent’s control. Special assessments, increased inventory, road widening, construction noise, newly blocked views, recent events such as fire, volcanic activity or negative statistics can impact price. Some Seller’s might be advised to wait until the market is stronger and healthier versus dropping the price to an untenable level.
Reassess the marketing plan. Is the agent highlighting the best parts or can you create a new bold aspect of the home? Adding an interesting outdoor space or plants might kick up the appeal, or do you need to restage to refresh the photos?
Could a dated kitchen be the turn off? Would fresh paint and new hardware be an option versus adding a new set of cabinets? Maybe your home is too dated, and needs a few key updates like a tile backsplash or an incentive to buyers, like paying 6 months of maintenance fees or a bonus commission to the buyers agent.
Buyers are not always able to see beyond what they see, and their gut responses may not even be able to be reconciled. Special issues like sprinklers, quality of amenities or the costs related to maintenance fees are non negotiable, so a Seller must reconsider the overall strategy and reassess their price expectations.
Part of the reason why you hire an agent is so that you have an objective, honest agent who can share their straightforward advice, or opinions freely. Sometimes a new approach is needed. We will be open, direct and honest in our dealings, it is our aspiration and goal to see you to the closing table with the sense of value that our marketing plan and partnership has achieved your stated goal. Your goals are our goals.
Now Let's Deliver the Keys to the New Buyers!
As the closing approaches, you will need to gather the keys (ideally 2 sets) for the home. Plan your move to coincide with the contract’s timeline for carpet cleaning, overall wipe down cleaning, and yard services. It is expected, per the contract, that a Seller maintains the home in the same condition that they saw it during the last inspection. Unless otherwise agreed upon between you and the Buyer, cleaning includes the interior of appliances, windows and blinds. We will assist you with the timing. Remember to reserve the moving elevators or schedule movers well ahead of the closing table signing. Until then, thank you for sharing your journey of selling with Aloha Realty Group. It’s our privilege and honor to serve our clients.