If you own real estate in the Ann Arbor Michigan area but live out of the area or in another state, you may be wondering if now is the best time to sell, and if so, how can I get this done as profitably and hassle-free as possible.
We have prepared this guide based on our many years of experience selling homes for people who no longer live in the area.
Who Sells Houses From Out Of State?
These are the top 5 reasons we see where a person wants to sell real estate in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area when they live out of state:
- The property was purchased prior to the great recession and the owner moved away while the market prices were unacceptably low, so the owner has kept the property as a rental. Keeping the property as a rental was only ever meant as a stop-gap and now it is 10 years later! Now, with greater equity and record-high property valuations, it is time to sell.
- The owner needs equity from the property for other investments. The property may not be performing financially as well as other investment opportunities available. After maintenance costs and tenant wear and tear, it is just not as profitable it was hoped for.
- The owner is tired of being a landlord. The current lease is coming to an end and now is the time to decide to keep the property and re-lease, or to sell the property in the current market when the tenants are done.
- The property was purchased as housing for a University of Michigan student(s) and it has completed its mission of providing safe and convenient housing while hopefully being a profitable investment – time to sell.
- The property belongs to parents or siblings and you are now responsible for disposing of it as part of an estate, or relocation. Parents may be moving closer to children or transitioning into extended care.
Today’s technology combined with a real estate agent who will manage every step of the process enables out of state homeowners to sell with peace of mind, and without having to come in from out of town at any point.
If you find yourself falling into one of these categories or are considering selling an out-of-state property for any reason here is our comprehensive guide on how to get the deal done remotely from start to finish!
How do I find a Realtor that is experienced working with out of state sellers?
Interview local real estate agents and vet them on their experience working with out of state clients.
- Ask for references and find out about their experiences working with out of state sellers. Review testimonials and find out about their experiences working with your team.
- Ask the Realtor what percentage of their business comes from working with absentee homeowners?
- Ask for an explanation for how the process should go when working with an out of state seller and what are the potential pitfalls. Assess if they follow a sales process and how they resolve problems? What should you expect regarding communication?
- Find out how knowledgeable they are in selling in the neighborhood where your property resides. Do they have recent experience in this market? The average agent sells 7 homes per year, whereas an active team such as Piperpartners sells 50 or more homes a year.
- How connected are they in their marketplace. Do they maintain a list of trusted contractors that can take care of any repair, cleaning, maintenance, staging, or other property management and selling services needed?
- How will they communicate with you and with potential buyers? Do they use state of the art virtual walkthrough technology such as Matterport 3D walkthroughs,
- How will the signing of documents and weekly communications be handled?
- How will the property be marketed? Do they have a mailing list, relationships with local investors, social media presence, and an updated website? Will they stage the home, hold open houses, and contact top agents in the market directly?
- Can the agent coordinate with renters in place and assist with a move-out.
Have a property value assessment done by a knowledgeable Realtor or a real estate appraiser
A strong agent will be able to assess the value of your property based on its features and the current market for similar properties while also accurately factoring in any physical depreciation the property may have accrued in your absence. A good assessment will determine the value as is, with repairs and updates and the rough cost of the repairs and updates. Realtors will generally do this free of charge to build rapport with a seller in hopes of securing future business.
A licensed real estate appraiser will perform a formal value analysis using the state-mandated methodology. This is especially useful when you need an outside unbiased opinion on the price to satisfy multiple investors, family members, or a court in the case of an estate or divorce. While the Realtor’s analysis may be accurate, if one of the parties to the sale secured the Realtor, there may be a perception of bias, whereas, a licensed appraiser adhering to state appraisal guidelines will be seen as unbiased. Costs for a formal appraisal generally range from around $450 to $1,000 depending on the property.
Make sure you fully understand the financials
Ask for a seller’s net sheet upfront.
There are a number of financial variables that often surprise people when selling a home out of state. Property and transfer taxes vary state to state, as do real estate commissions, contractor fees, title insurance, and closing costs. A seller’s net sheet will itemize all of the expenses associated with a property sale including prorated property taxes, association fees, transfer fees, title insurance fees, recording fees, real estate commissions, and estimated mortgage payoffs.
It is important to note that your mortgage payoff is generally higher than your current outstanding balance as mortgage interest is generally paid in arrears.
Seek advice from a financial advisor.
It is important to understand the tax implications of a real estate sale by consulting your financial advisor or accountant upfront. If you are a serious investor looking to sell and reinvest in more real estate they may recommend you do a 1031 exchange which allows you to avoid costly capital gains taxes when reinvesting proceeds from your sale, within certain time limits, into another property of equal or greater value. If are not reinvesting, a financial advisor can help you understand the tax implications of a sale. Seek their counsel upfront to avoid surprises at the last moment.
Evaluating and Documenting the Property’s Condition
Virtual 3D tours and Facetime Walkthroughs.
We often arrange for a virtual walkthrough via facetime or create a 3D virtual tour that allows the owner to accurately assess the initial condition of the home. Our 3D walkthrough technology will allow contractors to measure within 1 percent accuracy right from the walkthrough. We can then advise you and help you decide which repairs and updates to make before putting a home on the market.
Deferred Maintenance and Home Repairs.
Many absentee owners may find out that renters are often hard on homes. Carpet and countertop damage is common as are pet stains, broken fixtures, and cabinets. Other often unanticipated depreciated items include worn out roofs, aged furnaces and water heaters, rotted exterior wood trim, failed window seals, and more.
Homebuyers will be comparing your property with a very critical eye to other similar homes on the market and will take deferred maintenance into consideration in their decision to write purchase offer and the amount of that offer, or when negotiating after their completed home inspection.
In general, we find that interior and exterior paint and flooring are best replaced and updated before you market a home for sale. Also, general maintenance is best completed as well. Buyers will grossly overestimate the cost of repairs. Your highest qualified buyers generally have more money than time and want a move-in ready property. Doing repairs upfront will generally pay off with a quicker sale, less hassle, fewer sale fall throughs, and greater profits! It is also important to note there are many repairs that we advise sellers not to spend money on. Some repairs will not add significant value or decrease the sale time, so why spend the time and money?
If your out of townhome sale involves a probate situation initial photo documentation of the home is important for the probate attorney’s report for the court.
Once you’ve decided which repairs to prioritize, a knowledgable and connected real estate agent will become very important because they can give you recommendations for contractors and will schedule and coordinate repairs. We personally maintain a list that emphasizes quality, efficiency, and fair prices. Once you’ve chosen contractors, we ensure that everything is and completed in an orderly and timely manner before authorizing approval for you to pay the invoice.
Make Sure The Property Is Secure
The security of a vacant home is key in keeping your peace of mind and ensuring that unforeseen disasters don’t end in vandalism, squatting, or maintenance issues that can rack up thousands of dollars of damage before they are detected.
Make sure your agent is willing and able to check in on the property and that they will use secure lockbox entry for all showings and contractors.
Familiarize Yourself With The Necessary Technology
Some of the biggest issues that arise in remote real estate transactions come when people don’t know how to use the technology necessary to make deals happen online. Make sure you choose an agent familiar with online document signing tools, virtual tour technology, and virtual meeting technology that will be necessary to make your deal run smoothly end-to-end.
At the beginning of your relationship with your real estate agent, ask them which online transactional resources you will need to familiarize yourself with. They can walk you through online document signing via a Skype or Zoom Call and can go over what a virtual closing will look like.
Depending on where you live and your personal preference even documents that require notarization can be done online. If not, Title Companies can email documents for you to sign, which you can have notarized on your end and conveniently sent back electronically or in the mail via overnight express.
Close The Deal
Now that you have hired a team to sell your out of state property, let them go to work and do the heavy lifting. Listen to their advice. They’re on the front lines every day with your property.