Ask the Expert: How Can Staging Pave the Way for a Better Sell?

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Patty McNease, director of Marketing for

Q: How can staging pave the way for a better sell?

A: Staging allows your clients to show off the unique features of their home that buyers can come to love. During the holiday season, staging can make a home stand out even more. The following staging tips will help buyers fall in love with their future home just in time for the holidays.

Is staging really necessary?
Many homeowners are concerned about the overall cost to sell their homes. One place they may look to cut expenses is staging. While some think it’s unnecessary, proper staging is crucial to selling a home since it allows buyers to imagine what living there could look like. In fact, according to a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey, 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as their future home, which decreased the amount of time it was on the market.

Which rooms are the most important to stage?
According to the same NAR survey, the living room, master bedroom and kitchen are most critical. This is likely because these are the spaces where future owners will be spending most of their time. When planning these rooms, space and functionality are important. Rooms that are cluttered or difficult to navigate will not appeal to potential buyers.

How should I stage a home around the holidays?
Keep in mind that buying a home is an emotional experience for both the buyer and the seller. Often, the buyer’s emotional connection to the home is what really solidifies the sale. The holidays are a sentimental time for many, as they bring back warm memories and allow younger buyers to imagine future celebrations. Enhance these emotional connections to draw buyers to make an emotional investment in the home.

That being said, it’s important not to go overboard. Since different types of potential buyers will be coming to visit, avoid including overly religious décor. Instead, opt for simple and classic. Also, consider burning a pine- or cranberry-scented candle for those buyers who come over for a tour.

My client is hesitant. How can I convince them to stage their home?
If your client is against staging, remind them that 86 percent of buyers believe viewing a property online is the most useful part of their home search. With so many different options, it’s important to capture their attention in this initial stage of viewing so that they want to see the home in person. If you’re still struggling, show your client a before and after photo from another property you’ve staged, and ask them which home they would rather see.

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In today’s market, it’s all about staying competitive. To that end, PNC Bank is focused on improving the home-buying experience by helping customers take control of their home mortgage borrowing experience. Whether it’s buying a home, saving for retirement, investing for the future or finding the right credit card, PNC helps customers gain the confidence they need to make important financial decisions.

“Culturally, there’s something about this company that separates us from the competition,” says Charlie Crowe, market manager, Washington, D.C., PNC Bank, National Association. “We really do pride ourselves on doing business the right way by ensuring a positive experience and putting customers first.”

Offering a suite of mortgage products, all the way from affordable to portfolio jumbo loans, PNC has its own 3-percent down affordability product, in addition to down-payment assistance, for those buying in a low- or moderate-income area. PNC also offers the whole suite of FHA, VA, Rural Housing Service loans and conventional products—both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—which are attractive to a lot of borrowers, as well as a suite of luxury portfolio products.

“The fact that we retain servicing on each and every one of our loans is another key advantage we have over the competition,” says Staci Titsworth, vice president/regional manager, Northern Ohio/Pittsburgh Region, PNC Bank. “This means a lot to clients as it shows we’re committed to building relationships with our customers.”

Building relationships with customers and offering a high level of service are two of the founding principles that guide every decision made at PNC.

“The level of service and transparency we provide is instrumental in helping real estate professionals stay ahead of the curve when working with today’s buyers and sellers,” says Jordy Castillo, market manager, PNC Bank, New York, N.Y.

“We pride ourselves on doing the best we can upfront, which includes communicating with both the client and other parties involved in the transaction so that they always know what’s going on,” adds Castillo, an even more important piece of the puzzle today thanks to the new TRID requirements that are now in play.

“It’s now on us to disclose to customers in a slightly different way, which has not only added time to the process, but it’s made us more cognizant of taking the time to prepare the borrower for the process in order to hit closing dates on time,” says Crowe.

But it doesn’t end there. In fact, PNC is upping the ante even further as they launched PNC Home Insight® Planner, an online home-buying experience geared toward millennials that helps homebuyers understand true home affordability.

Planner provides customers with the ability to prepare a budget, calculate payments and ultimately shop for homes within their budget, while at the same time providing real-time mortgage rates and product information. The experience ensures homebuyers understand the true cost of homeownership, beyond just the monthly principal and interest payment. Planner even prompts buyers to consider retirement and savings when thinking about affordability.

“The more education a buyer has about home affordability, the easier it will be for the agent and lender to guide them through the experience,” says Crowe.

For Castillo, it’s the level of transparency intrinsic in everything the company does that will provide the biggest benefit in integrating Home Insight into his business model. “It gives us a better handle on the process and keeps buyers better informed, while providing the clarity and transparency we love.”

Continued growth—and a focus on doing more of the same—is a common theme as we head toward the future. “Looking forward, we’re going to continue expanding our presence in the markets we serve while delivering for our customers every step of the way,” concludes Crowe.

For more information, please visit


PNC and PNC Home Insight are registered service marks of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”). PNC has a pending patent application directed at various features and functions of Home Insight® Planner. All loans are provided by PNC Bank, National Association, a subsidiary of PNC, and are subject to credit approval and property appraisal. This information is provided for business and professional uses only and is not to be provided to a consumer or the public. This information is provided to assist real estate professionals and is not an advertisement to extend consumer credit as defined by Section 226.2 of Regulation Z. Programs, interest rates, and fees are subject to change without notice.

©2017 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved. PNC Bank, National Association. Member FDIC.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

A few weeks ago, we provided you some general launch information about the new podcast that Center for REALTOR® Development launched in May. Now, we want to share with you some more specifics about its three initial episodes so you can get a taste of the kinds of topics the podcast will cover and the types of interviewees our host, Monica Neubauer, will be interviewing.

We’re hoping you’ll give at least one of these episodes a listen now, and possibly subscribe so that you get notified when all the future episodes release, too. For all the details about the podcast and how to subscribe, check out its website at

The first episode, Pricing Strategies in the Market, focuses on pricing strategies, and its guests provide some different perspectives on pricing strategies in today’s real estate market for buyers and sellers. Melanie McLane (second-generation REALTOR® and renowned instructor and consultant) and Rob Mehta (principal of Rob Mehta+Partners and 19-year industry veteran) both share their expertise about basic and advanced areas to consider when pricing homes. In addition, they talk about how to best work with appraisers and AVMs, and how to use RPR tools.

In episode two, Military Real Estate Tips, the first guest, Bryan Bergjans, joins us to talk about VA loans. He began his career in mortgage banking in 2002, and currently serves as the national director of Military and VA Lending with Caliber Home Loans. In addition to his work with Caliber, he serves in the Navy, and is also an instructor with NAR for the Military Relocation Professional certification. In the second part of the show, Juanita Charles joins the show to talk about how she serves active duty and military veterans. She served in the military, and now currently works as a REALTOR® in Clarksville, Tenn.

In the third episode, Real Estate Investing, Ron Phipps, former NAR president and owner of Phipps Realty, joins Monica to talk about how to get involved in real estate investing, and to discuss the benefits and the best ways to get started. Real estate investing is a great way to build wealth and to prepare for long-term cash flow for the future. This is a great opportunity for real estate agents, investors, and the general public. In addition to the benefits, Monica and Ron talk about some of the downsides to real estate investing, and the risk involved with different kinds of units.

In addition to this new podcast, feel free to also check out our featured product this month at the Center for REALTOR® Development, the NEW e-PRO® Day 1 and 2 online bundle, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s e-PRO® certification and is on sale this entire month of June at 25% off. This certification aims to help real estate professionals broaden their technology skills to connect effectively with today’s digitally-savvy consumer.

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If you’re interested in mastering the art of working with buyers, you need to always be able to answer the question, “What’s next?”

Even though logic tells us a homebuyer will work diligently toward buying a home and only take steps toward that end, there are typically more missteps than correct steps throughout the process. Why? Because the buyer isn’t the process expert—you are. Why do we sometimes let our buyer clients get themselves so far off track in the process? The answer is simple: It’s because we don’t keep them focused on what’s next.

As an example, how often have you invested time showing homes to a prospective buyer only to learn later that qualifying for a loan is a problem? It’s only because you weren’t focused specifically on what’s next.

Below are some specific tools that will help you stay totally focused on what’s next during the process of attracting new buyer prospects.

The Magic Script. I know everyone hates scripts—and early in my sales career, I felt exactly the same—but scripts are the key to being able to focus fully on your prospect. Once you’ve mastered what to say next, you can stop worrying about that and focus instead on your buyer and their needs. At Workman Success Systems, we use a script called LPMAMA when a buyer inquires about a specific home. The letters stand for Location, Price, Motivation, Agency, Mortgage and Appointment. We believe these are the key elements to understanding enough about the buyer and their needs to move the process forward. This script works with our buyer information sheet, which is used to collect important buyer information.

A, B & C Buyer Lead Management. You should always know exactly where a buyer is in the process and have them categorized correctly. We use the following categories:

  • “A” buyers need to purchase a home in the next 30 days. These are buyers who you have an appointment scheduled with. Once you’ve finished an appointment with a buyer client in this category, you should schedule the next appointment before parting ways. It’s the only way to keep them an A.
  • “B” buyers need to purchase within 90 days. Follow up with these prospects during the weeks of the 1st and 15th each month.
  • “C” buyers need to buy in more than 90 days. Follow up with this group every single month during the week of the 8th.

These are just a couple simple yet effective tools you can use to make sure you’re always focused on what’s next. Sometimes it’s that little nudge toward the next step that can make the difference in actually closing a sale or not.

Cleve Gaddis of Gaddis Partners, RE/MAX Center learned sales the hard way, selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, and now his real estate team closes $60 million in sales annually in Atlanta, Ga. He loves to share his sales strategies and to see others succeed. He’s the host of the Call Cleve Atlanta Real Estate Show which can be heard on NewsTalk 1160 WCFO every week. Contact him at

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One of the biggest obstacles for both first-time and experienced homebuyers is the down payment. If you work in real estate, you’re sure to understand the frustration. Now, Quicken Loans may have a solution that works for your clients.

Under this loan option, your clients can put as little as 1 percent down on their new home. At the same time, they get 3 percent equity in the property immediately.* This means they could get a $200,000 home while putting down as little as $2,000.

Property values have been on a general upward trend. While good for homeowners, it does raise the barrier to entry for prospective buyers, particularly in many of the nation’s hottest housing markets in the West and South. A lower down payment option helps with that.

There are requirements for every loan option and this is no different. We’ll go over some of the basic requirements and then answer some of the most common questions we get.

Loan Qualifications
There are a few basic guidelines; first, we’ll go over some things we’ll need to see from the homebuyer, and then we’ll look at a couple of basic property requirements.

Guidelines for Clients
In order to qualify for this option, clients have three major financial considerations. Their FICO® Score must be 680 or higher. In order to qualify for this program, a homebuyer can’t make any more than the median income in their area in most cases. This limit may not apply if they’re in an underserved area.

Finally, they’ll most likely qualify with a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio under 45. Anything over that is less likely. Let’s look at a quick example.

Let’s say a client has $3,500 in monthly income. They have $400 in monthly credit card debt and their car payment is $300. Let’s say their house payment is going to be $800 per month. Their DTI would be about 43 percent ($1,500/$3,500).

Allowed Property Types
To use this loan, buyers have to be purchasing a single-unit primary residence, condo, PUD or townhouse. Co-ops or multi-unit residences don’t qualify.

In addition to these guidelines, the loan option can’t be used for a second home or investment property.

Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to jump right in to some of the most common questions our clients have.

Where Does the Additional 2 Percent Come From If a Client Puts 1 Percent Down?
As mentioned above, clients can put 1 percent down, yet start with 3 percent equity in their home. So where does the other 2 percent come from? That’s a fair question.

The additional 2 percent equity comes in the form of a grant from Quicken Loans that the client doesn’t have to pay back.

How Does This Loan Option Compare to an FHA Mortgage?
For clients with a FICO® Score of 680 or higher, this option could make a lot of sense when compared to an FHA mortgage for a couple of reasons. The most obvious one is a 1 percent down payment versus 3.5 percent down on an FHA loan.

In addition, if they make the minimum down payment on an FHA loan, their monthly mortgage insurance premium will never go away for as long as they have the loan. That dovetails nicely into our next question.

Does This Option Have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? Will the PMI Come Off?
The trade-off for having a down payment of less than 20 percent is that the client will have to pay PMI; however, unlike an FHA, this loan follows standard conventional guidelines and mortgage insurance payments eventually end.

If your client wishes to avoid a monthly mortgage insurance payment, they can take a look at our PMI Advantage lender-paid mortgage insurance option.

Where Can I Find the Income Limits in My Area?
This program does require the client to not make more than 100 percent of the area median income (AMI) in most areas of the country. If you happen to be in an area that’s considered underserved, this doesn’t apply. So where can you find the limits in your area?

Freddie Mac has a search engine that allows you to find the income limits by putting in the address of the property.

Do you have a client for whom this loan might be a good option? Have them give one of our licensed Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 854-3023. We’ll be happy to get them started.

*The payment on a $200,000 30-year fixed-rate loan at 4.75% (5.289% APR) with an LTV of 97% is $1043.30, which includes a mortgage insurance payment of $95.00. Taxes and homeowners insurance are not included. Rates shown valid on publication date of 4/24/2017. Restrictions may apply.

A version of this article originally appeared on Zing! by Quicken Loans.

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It finally happened. Your clients have been viewing property after property for months, and now they’ve fallen in love. They found the house that’s perfect for them and they’re ready to make an offer. Since 25 percent of buyers turn to an agent for the primary purpose of getting help negotiating the price and terms of their purchase (2016 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers), this is your time to shine.

When your clients are ready to make an offer on a home, a number of things could go wrong and potentially stop the sale indefinitely. Here are three tips to help you assure your clients that they can move forward on their dream home.

Consider Your Loan and Lender
Before anything else, it’s critical that your buyers are pre-approved for a loan. Before they even begin looking at homes, be sure that they’ve gone through this process so both you and they have an idea of what kinds of homes they can afford. While you’re focusing on this step, also remind buyers that they should go through a well-known lender. Getting pre-approved by an obscure company doesn’t inspire trust, nor does it look good when it comes time for the seller to select an offer.

When your buyers are ready to make an offer, suggest that they don’t lead with the highest amount in their pre-approval. Not only does this leave them with nowhere to go if there’s a bidding war, but it also shows your buyers have no wiggle room. If something changes—interest rates rise, other offers bid more, etc. —your buyers will be stuck, since they’ve already maxed out their budget.

Write the Right Offer
Before giving your clients a figure, it’s best that you know the value of the home and the area. A comparative market analysis can help you review how much similar homes in the area have sold for, so you can calculate the best offer. This can ensure your buyers won’t be aiming too high or too low, meaning their offer will stand out from others.

Another way to use the CMA to your buyer’s advantage is presenting it as leverage. If your clients are making an offer that is lower than what the sellers requested, it may be a good idea to present a letter with the CMA when submitting the offer. This way, your clients can explain why they gave the offer they did in a non-threatening way. Sellers can be assured that it wasn’t anything personal; the data just showed that it was a better price than what was requested.

Create a Connection
In the end, buying and selling a home is an emotional process. Sellers are attached to their home because of the memories they made in it. Often, they want to make sure their home is going to buyers who will make the same kinds of memories. Because of this, it’s important for your buyers to sell themselves as the best option. Pointing out every flaw, nitpicking about the little details, and (worst of all) making negative comments about the decor are surefire ways to be ruled out. If a bidding war does break out, the buyers who hold the highest favor will likely win, even if their offer isn’t the highest.

While this process can be challenging, these tips can help you work through even the stickiest pricing situations. As the midpoint of the year approaches, it’s time to check in on your 2017 goals. Are you connecting with enough quality leads near you to meet your sales goals this year? Position yourself in front of buyers and sellers who are actively searching for properties in your local area.

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Investing in real estate with your self-directed IRA isn’t too different from a regular real estate purchase; however, there are important rules and processes that you must follow to do it right. This is why when it comes to Real Estate IRAs, people have lots of questions. We’ve collected some of those questions asked by real and prospective investors. The following questions will focus on investing in real estate with a self-directed IRA:

Q: How can I invest in real estate with my IRA?
There are several ways you can approach investing in real estate with your retirement funds. Here are a few examples:

  • Direct Purchase – Your IRA pays cash for the investment property and holds the title of the property.
  • Partnering – You partner your IRA with personal funds or other IRA funds. You can also partner with other people’s IRAs or their personal funds. You divide the investment according to each investor’s percentage of ownership.
  • Leveraging – Your IRA borrows money to purchase a property with a non-recourse loan and the leveraged property is held in your retirement account.
  • LLC – Your IRA holds interest in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or land trust. The title of the property is held in the name of the LLC.

Q: Can I personally use the property that was purchased with my IRA funds?
No, you cannot. The property is strictly for investment purposes only. You and other disqualified persons may not receive direct or indirect benefits from an asset that is owned by your IRA, even if the IRA only owns a portion of the investment.

Q: Can the rental income from the property in my IRA flow back to me personally?
No, you may not receive direct income from the property; however, you can request the funds in your IRA to be sent to you as a distribution.

Q: What type of properties can I hold in my self-directed IRA? Are there any restrictions on the type of property I can purchase?
A self-directed IRA gives you the opportunity to make investment decisions in areas based on your knowledge and expertise. From real estate to private lending, your IRA can hold various investment property types including commercial buildings, vacant land, condos, mobile homes, apartment buildings, and more. You are not limited to residential real estate.

Q: Can I buy the property from my IRA to reside in once I retire?
No, you cannot buy a property that is already owned by your IRA, as the IRS has ruled it a prohibited transaction; however, you can take a distribution of the property in-kind by retitling the property to your name when you are ready to take a distribution for the property. Depending on the type of IRA the property is under, if taxable, the fair market value of the property would be reported on IRS Form 1099-R and be includible as taxable income in the year of distribution.

Q: Do expenses like utilities, repairs, taxes, and mortgage payments need to be paid from the IRA account?
Yes, any expenses from an asset within your IRA must be received and paid via the IRA. You cannot use personal funds to pay for expenses incurred by the asset within your retirement account because it is prohibited by IRS Code 4975.

Q: Can you talk about the logistics of handling revenue produced by a property? Does a bank account need to be opened in the name of the IRA?
If purchasing a property directly using an IRA, the income must come back to the IRA. As an example, property managers who collect rental income from an IRA-owned property are required to send the rent (revenue) to the custodian, made payable to the IRA. Some have the tenants make their rental check payable to the custodian directly as they make monthly rent payments. If it’s an LLC structure, the rent is paid to the LLC. The LLC will need to have a checking account established.

Q: Can I buy a house with IRA funds but use non-IRA funds to help pay for repairs?
No, as it is considered a prohibited transaction and will violate the IRS Code 4975; however, if eligible, you can make a cash contribution to the IRA and use the contribution to pay for expenses.

Q: Can I be the property manager on my investment property?
No, but Entrust does permit the IRA owner to receive the rental income for record-keeping, but the actual funds must be sent to the custodian for depositing. The IRA owner cannot deposit the rent in any non-IRA account because this constitutes a distribution. You cannot pay yourself income from profits generated from your IRA’s rental property.

Q: How long does it take to make a typical Real Estate IRA purchase?
Entrust typically sees escrow close on a simple real estate purchase between 15 to 30 days. Depending on the complexity of the transaction, it could take longer. There are a number of factors that must be considered when timing a real estate purchase in an IRA. Investors must have a funded account before the investment can be made. It is important to note that funding your account is heavily dependent on the custodian that you may be moving funds from. It is wise to have an established and funded account, even before you start searching for a property.

As administrators, we cannot give advice about specific investments and strategies; however, we aspire to provide answers and educational resources, or direction to legal issues, for all inquiries. Do you have any questions of your own about investing in real estate with a self-directed IRA? Or maybe you want further clarification? We want to hear from you.

Find out how you can generate more referrals, leads, and repeat business with your free download of How to Help Your Clients Invest in Real Estate Tax-Free.

For more information, please visit and our online Real Estate IRA Center.

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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

Financing is often the biggest hurdle for second-home buyers and the transaction element of which they are least sure. Here is a quick breakdown of some basics, so that you can help educate your clients.

If a second home’s rental income is needed in order to qualify the buyer for a loan, the property and the loan will fall into the investment category. As such, lenders will factor in anticipated vacancies, rental income, expenses, and the mortgage payment when determining how large a loan can be approved. Investment loans generally carry higher interest rates and less attractive terms than vacation home loans because they are considered higher risk.

According to the 2016 edition of NAR’s Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, second-home purchases in 2015 were financed according to the breakdown in the graph below. This annual survey offers a wealth of information for those who serve the second-home market, including information about purchase prices, property and financing characteristics, buyer motivations and expectations, and short-term rentals. It is free to members of NAR.


Local Lender Financing
When the property is located in another area or state, it may be best to seek mortgage financing through local lenders in that area because their loan officers will know the local market. Buyers might look to a local branch of their home bank for financing. Local lenders may be more attuned to approving mortgage loans because they are familiar with the area, developments, and properties. You can help buyers by sharing knowledge of local lenders you are familiar with, and examples of financing arrangements you have seen in the past.

Private Mortgages and Seller Financing
If a buyer cannot meet down payment requirements, but can afford payments, seller financing may offer a solution. One strategy to consider is a combination of a 75 percent first mortgage, a 10 percent down payment, and seller carry-back financing of 15 percent. This strategy is allowed by the secondary mortgage market, which purchases second-home loans, and may enable a buyer to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) because the first mortgage is less than 80 percent. A private mortgage made by a relative or friend and secured by the property is another possible strategy; an attorney or accountant should handle formalization of this type of agreement.

Second Mortgage on a Primary Residence
Another strategy is a second mortgage on an existing primary residence, although this may be a risky move if the first mortgage is not paid off. On the other hand, if the buyer is able to qualify for the loan and property is appreciating in value, the lender may feel comfortable making the loan. If the borrower cannot sustain the loan payments, one of the properties can be sold and the proceeds can be used to pay off the balance on the second mortgage.

Home Equity Loans
A home equity loan on a primary residence to finance some or all of the second-home purchase is another option. Since home equity loans tend to be a point or two higher in interest rates, the buyers could end up paying more than if they had obtained a mortgage for the entire amount. For high-income or high-net worth buyers, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be the easiest and quickest type of financing to obtain. A line of credit usually has a lower interest rate than a second mortgage and a quicker approval process.

Condo Loans
Reacting to losses sustained during the wave of foreclosures resulting from the subprime mortgage market meltdown, FHA—along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (also known as government-sponsored entities, or GSEs)—tightened lending standards for condo loans across the board. In short, these lenders will want to see a financially sound condo development with a high percentage of owner occupancy and low percentage of delinquency on fees. Furthermore, FHA and VA loans are not available for vacation and second homes and investors. Apart from very narrow exceptions, outlined here, the situation is the same for VA loans. Local lenders will be up to date on which condo developments in the market area hold GSE approval for investment and second-home purchases.

For more education about financing for the second-home and resort market, check out this month’s featured online course at the Center for REALTOR® Development, Home Sweet (Second) Home: Vacation, Investment, Luxury Properties, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) certification.

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Real estate auctions can be an effective sales tool for all types of properties, including luxury residential and single-family homes, as well as multifamily, retail and development sites.

While the conventional stereotype of an auction is that of a vehicle to move distressed properties, the troubled scenario no longer strictly holds true. For example, we’re seeing an overall increase in auctions of luxury residences. This uptick is especially apparent in second-home and resort markets, where baby boomers and empty-nesters are looking to sell their second residences.

In general, real estate auctions offer an efficient approach to a sale that can provide several advantages.

Auctions don’t replace brokers. Many real estate auction firms work in collaboration with brokers. Typically, the auction firm offers a cooperating broker a fee to the agent who represents the buyer. For the selling broker, the compensation structure in the conventional sales agreement often remains in place.

Auctions establish the market. An auction is a market-finding tool. By bringing together a large group of buyers to bid, that establishes what the market can be for the property.

They command attention. Real estate auctions work in much the same way as those for fine art and antiques. Auctions are exciting and draw the attention of buyers from other sales occurring in the area. They also attract interest from a wide set of potential buyers beyond the property’s immediate location. For example, the auction of a premier condominium residence at the Ritz Carlton in New York generated more than 5,000 inquiries from all 50 states, and close to 1,800 international inquiries.

The sale is completed within a definite timeframe. Real estate auctions complete the transaction within a defined period of time. Knowing the precise date when the sale will be done can provide a real convenience for the seller.

The auction process is open and transparent. One of the most positive aspects of a real estate auction is its transparency. Buyers gather and see the act of bidding. Plus, many potential buyers are unsure of the property value—an auction sets a fair market value, with a pricing floor that has a wider appeal to a much larger pool of potential buyers.

Once upon a time, real estate auctions were solely for troubled properties. Today, sellers, buyers and brokers of many different types of properties can reap the benefits of a convenient sales tool.

Jonathan Cuticelli is director of Project Management and principal auctioneer at New York-based real estate auction firm Sheldon Good & Company. Founded in 1965, Sheldon Good is one of the oldest firms in the business.

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Three bathrooms? Check.

Garage? Check.

Doggy door? Check.

Pets are family—and homes have to accommodate family. According to a recently released report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 81 percent of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation—so much so that 89 percent say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction. What’s more: Nineteen percent of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet, while 12 percent have moved for their pet.

Moving is not the only option for pet owners, however. More than half (52 percent) of Americans in the report completed a renovation for their pet, such as adding a dog door, building a fence around the yard or installing laminate flooring.

Pets also have pull when it comes to buying or renting a home, according to the report. One-third of pet owners will not make an offer on a home that does not meet the needs of their pet, while 61 percent have a hard time finding a pet-friendly homeowners association or rental.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

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