Preparing Your Home For Sale During Covid

The real estate market continues to trend in the right direction here in Charlottesville and the Central Virginia area even with the shelter in place restrictions that has been placed due to Covid19.  Many of you may be trying to decide that this is the time to sell your home.  If you are, this may be the perfect time.  Virginia Realtor Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant shared data on her 5/21 weekly update that May could well be the trough with market activity picking back up in June.  This article will attempt to give you a step-by-step checklist to make sure that you home sells fast, for top dollar, and keeping your and your family safe and healthy. It will outline what you need to know and which questions to ask. Our hope is what follows will help you be best prepared to succeed in what has been and will continue to be a challenging market.

The Decision to Sell Your Home

You and your family have come to the decision that it’s time to move. That’s the first step. The next step is choosing the right realtor to sell your home.  You want to make sure you find the right person so talk with several and ask friends who they would recommend.  Think about the Realtors as applying for a job with the job being getting your home sold.  They should come prepared with their resume, marketing plan, and references. (The marketing plan should show you the agent and their company is adapting to this new social distancing environment.) If you are moving within the same area, the Realtor associate you choose to help you with the sale of your current home can also show you properties that meet your needs. You’ll appreciate working with someone who already knows you and your family.

Are you thinking for selling your home on your own?   I would still recommend you meet with Realtors to get their ideas.  Let them know you plan to sell on your own but want to see their advice.  Many agents are happy to provide this service with the hope you will contact them if your home doesn’t sell and you decide to list your home. As a side note, because of the Coronavirus, for sale by owners are finding it very difficult to get buyers into to see the home.  

Time to Get Prepared

Now it’s time to get prepared. Your agent will need a lot of information about your home to get started. They will likely want to see things like the deed, appliance warranties, mortgage payment book, tax bills, assessments, Homeowners’ Association fees, restrictive covenants, or any guarantee or legal documents about the property. 

This saves time and makes you aware of the various obligations that may be on your home. Warranties and guarantees for recent work done on the house may also increase the home’s value in the eyes of the buyer. You should think about getting your home energy efficient certified by Pearl Certification.

When your Realtor arrives, take them on a tour.  This can be done virtually via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. Show them the special features that you have enjoyed since prospective buyers will likely find those elements interesting too.  Give them the opportunity to speak truthfully about the things you should do to get your home in the proper condition, not only inside but outside as well.  Creating “curb appeal” is so important. These days getting your home staged for the best pictures and video is critically important.  90% of folks start the search online to that is where the 1st impression happens then. The pictures posted of your home can make the difference on whether they choose to contact someone to arrange a showing.  

You know your home and neighborhood better than anyone else: this is “inside” information that gets homes sold fast – and at the right price. Remember, the relationship you have with your agent is a partnership—you are working together to establish the marketing plan that best suits your property. You are choosing them because they are the professional so listen and be open minded to what they have to say. The more information you provide the quicker that partnership will result in the successful sale of your house!

Once you have gotten together all the information and made the improvements needed, you come to the most critical step; Effectively pricing your home.  It is particularly important if you know your home is in direct competition with new construction. Here’s something to remember: Most sellers find it difficult to place a price on their own home. Even though you have spent spent hours on improvements like painting, decorating or landscaping don’t allow this to cause you to place an inflated assumption about the true current market value.

Price determines the final net proceeds you’ll receive for your home – but it’s not the only factor. Other elements include: seller financing, having your loan assumed, or allowing for quick possession. These can all be factors that impact your net proceeds.

So where do you start? First, ask questions. Second, have the agent you’ve chosen to provide a Comparative Market Analysis. This critical report shows other homes like yours that are now on the market or have recently sold.

Do not underestimate the importance of this report. Determining your “asking price” is the most important step in preparing your house for sale. While some of the information can be gleaned from public sources, the best source of information is your Realtor’s  experience in selling homes similar to yours. They can identify key distinctions within your neighborhood that can be worth thousands of dollars to you.

Talk to your agent. Take time to adequately review the Comparative Market Analysis and discuss your concerns. Armed with this information, you and your agent can arrive at the right asking price for your home under current market conditions.

 When you decide to sell your home, you of course want the highest return from its sale but pricing a property too high holds its own risks. Homes that are priced too high miss their target market. Qualified buyers who might find the home just right for their needs won’t see your home, or make an offer on it, because it is out of their price range. If they are shown a home that is overpriced when it first comes on the market and do not buy because they feel it’s not a good value, they’re not likely to revisit the home once the price is lowered (they’ve already eliminated your home as a possibility).  Some home sellers will take the “let’s try it and see what happens” approach. They may feel that they can always decrease the asking price if they are not receiving offers. But testing the market in this manner can be dangerous. A property receives its best exposure during the first three to five weeks after it is listed. After this point, many agents lose their enthusiasm as other new (and possibly better valued) listings come onto the market. Some home sellers forget that there is still quite a bit of competition and that buyers are generally very well informed consumers.

 If your home is priced right from the beginning, you have the best opportunity of reaching the most qualified buyers. Buyers who have seen most available homes in their price range are just waiting for the right house to come on the market. That’s why a well-priced home often sells quickly once it is actually put on the market. You want your home to be viewed in this manner for the highest return on your investment. Also, Multiple Listing Association statistics throughout the country, show that the longer a property is on the market, the lower the selling price. The home becomes “stale” and a price reduction results.

It is important to have your agent communicate that your home has been prepared to provide a safe environment for those who want to come view the house. Ask the agent to provide you the suggested guidelines for preparing your home for sale and also what you can expect from folks who visit your home.

So it is easy as this—Choose the right Realtor, Make sure your property is in the best condition possible, Find the right price, and then “patiently” wait for the right buyer to come along.  See below for links to a step by step plan on how to prepare your home resulting in a successful sale.  You can also listen to this podcast where the process is explained in detail.  You can also learn about how energy efficient homes with green features can increase the value of your home by 3-5%.   

For more information check out our blog at  To search for listings in the area, go to

Click on these links for Steps to follow when putting your home on the market

COVID 19 Effect on Mortgage Lending

Jay Domenic


It should come as no surprise that the current pandemic has had an impact on mortgage lending.  This is uncharted waters for lenders and there are frequent changes in guidelines as lenders react. Here are a few things you need to know when purchasing or refinancing. 

Credit Guidelines have changed! (and keep changing) Most importantly are the minimum credit score requirements.  In the past couple months minimum credit scores have fluctuated, but in general are higher than pre-COVID 19.  I can’t speak for all lenders but for instance, at Movement Mortgage the minimum eligible score for an FHA loan (pre pandemic) was 580.  Then it increased to 640 for a time and now is down to 620.   I’ve heard of some lenders that went to a minimum 700 FICO across the board.  

Some loan programs have been suspended.  Certain loan products have been paused primarily because of employment concerns.   It is not atypical for lenders to be verifying employment right up to closing and not just that you’re still employed, but that you’re still earning the same pay and working the same hours.  If you’ve been furloughed or hours/pay reduced, it will affect your qualifying and your ability to close on your mortgage.  If you’ve been prequalified/preapproved with a lender, it would be prudent to check in again and make sure you’re still on good footing before you make an offer on that new home.

But hey, there is some really good news as well!  Contrary to some reports, it is not “next to impossible” to get a mortgage…just a little more restrictive.  Lenders are funding record amounts of loans. The interest rates are FANTASTIC making this an excellent time to purchase or refinance.   The rate market is still volatile, and it is impossible to predict where they will go, but the Fed is supporting the low interest rates to help the economy.

So, if you are interested in purchasing a home, remember to keep your preapproval up to date. Be aware that changes to your financial situation or lender’s guidelines can affect your qualifying.  Most importantly, know that the loan programs are still available, even low or no downpayment loans!  Don’t miss out on a great time to buy a new home because of false reports that financing is unattainable. 

Real Estate Matters

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Michael Guthrie, CEO/Broker
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5 good reasons : Have a pro on your side throughout the process

Buying new construction seems simple, right? Just pick out the floor plan you want, choose the perfect lot, and watch it go up. No sellers to deal with, no unexpected repairs that come up during inspection, no drawn-out negotiations. Right? Not so fast. In any real estate transaction, it’s important to have a professional on your side, even if the process seems straightforward. “Having your own agent provides a sense of security,” says Kristy Weaver, who has bought two new construction homes from two different builders. “It gives you some peace of mind, knowing that someone is looking out for your best interest.”

Peace of mind is just one benefit of having an experienced agent along for the ride. Read on for five more reasons you’ll want a local real estate agent by your side when buying a new construction home.

1. Help you find a reputable builder
“Your agent can rely on their own experience and that of their colleagues to help you find a builder you can trust.” “What’s the quality of the workmanship? What kind of warranty do they offer? What’s their track record of resolving issues? Getting a clear understanding in the beginning can alleviate serious headaches down the road.”

2. Go to bat for you
The timeline for purchasing new construction is typically quite a bit longer than buying an existing home. From the first time you visit the sales center, to choosing your layout, construction, inspections, and finally closing, there are ample opportunities for things to go sideways — think construction delays, permit issues, and financing concerns. An experienced buyer’s agent can help you navigate all of these sticky situations.

3. Help you review your contract
Even if you’ve purchased a home before, the contract for new construction is a whole different animal, and an experienced agent can help you make sure you understand everything, from floor plans to earnest money requirements, deadlines for requesting changes, and timelines for completion. “It’s crucial to have a third party who represents your interests in the transaction,” says an agent who has represented new construction buyers. “A good agent can add the proper addendums to protect you if something falls through.”

4. Assist with negotiations
Buyers’ agents know the areas where you’ll find the most wiggle room when it comes to negotiations. “Builders are trying to keep their sales price up so that the next buyers through the door see the higher closing price.” “They’d much rather throw in closing costs or additional upgrade credits.”

5. Point you toward smart upgrade choices
Builders will offer you endless options for finishes and upgrades, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A seasoned real estate agent can recommend the upgrades that will get you the most bang for your buck in resale value, suggest finishes that might be cheaper to do on your own, and help you avoid over-improving, which can jeopardize your appraisal before closing.

Even though a friendly sales representative will greet you with a smile the moment you walk through the door of the sales center, don’t forget that they work for the builder. Bring your own agent with you starting with your first visit — in fact, many builders require your agent to register with them from the very beginning in order for them to be involved in the process and receive their commission.

With a professional you trust by your side, you’ll rest easy knowing someone is there to protect your money, your time, and your new home.

Call 434-951-5155 or email to get in touch with a local, professional agent today!