Real Estate Information Archive


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Why Homes Don't Sell

by The Schuman Team

Why Home Don't Sell


Selling a home is a daunting task. It takes many steps to find that right buyer, and even more to get them to closing.

Today, we are going to discuss the main reasons sellers fail to sell their homes.


People think selling a home merely entails sticking a sign in your yard and entering it into the local multiple listing service ( MLS ), but it is much more than that.

Selling a home is a complex process, one that consists of dozens of steps and a lot of preparation. It is a lot of work.

Typically, about 55-60% of homes listed by an agent end up selling during their initial six month listing period.

Those statistics may differ depending on the demand of the area in which you live, but the point here is there are no guarantees. So, it is critical to have a solid game plan before that sign goes up.

The first step is hiring an experienced agent who has a proven track record and comprehensive marketing plan.


Depending on the home, sometimes more work goes into staging ( preparing ) the home for the market than any other step of the process.

If you are not familiar with the term Staging, here is a good link.

Staging entails getting the home ready to be shown to buyers. This means getting rid of clutter, personal items, and neutralizing any strongly decorated rooms.

How you live in your home is different than how you need to present it to the public. Also, with the popularity of the internet, how your home will appear in photos must be taken into consideration as well. Your first showing will be on line, so it needs to look as appealing as possible in the pictures.


As we just mentioned, your first showing will be on line as that is the most popular way potential buyers look for homes.

Therefore, having professional pictures is one of the most important things you can do, and something many agent don't offer their clients.

A lot of sellers don't know any better and are ok with an agent using their iPhone to take pictures. Don't accept this.

We encourage potential sellers to go on line to popular sites like or and check out the variety of pictures being used by agents. You should also check out the photos used by agents you plan to interview to make sure they are up to your standards.

You will notice the homes with great pictures come across as more desirable.  Nothing is less appealing to buyers than seeing pictures of homes that are dark and blurry.

It actually amazes us that many well respected agents use mediocre photos to market their listings. This is a huge disservice to a home seller, so our advice is to make sure professional pictures of your home are being used.


Pricing isn't just important, it's everything. If your home isn't priced correctly, buyers will buy something else.

We understand that no seller wants to give their home away. Everyone wants the most they can get, and we don't blame them for feeling that way. I would want the same thing if I was selling my own home.

In order to come up with a good asking price, go over statistics with your agent, compare your home to similar homes that have recently sold, and visit competing homes to see how they compare to yours.

Overpricing a home will cause you to lose out on buyers and end up helping your competition.

Whenever we see a home linger on the market for a long time, it is usually because it is not priced right.

Selling a home can be a difficult and stressful process. If you avoid the mistakes that many sellers make, you will give yourself an excellent change for success.

Buying Or Selling? Keep It To Yourself

by The Schuman Team

Keep Things To Yourself

If you are buying or selling a home, you will likely tell a lot of people you know.

While this is all well and good, our advice is to keep certain things to private or you may end up doing more harm than good.


To begin, let's think of things from a buyer's perspective. If you are in the initial stages of looking for a new home, telling your friends and family is certainly ok. However, if you have a specific home in your sights, I'd be careful who you tell until it is under contract as telling just one person may cause undue competition putting your dream home at risk.

What if you tell someone who happens to have a friend who is looking in a similar price point.

While it may seem farfetched, we have seen this happen many times, especially during a seller's market. We actually know friends who got into a bidding war on the same home and it became quite uncomfortable for them.

Also, let's say the deal falls through due to financing issues. Do you want to have to go back to all your friends and tell them?

From a seller's point of view, we advise our clients not to reveal any details of the transaction----especially the price!

Let's say you have agreed on a contract with a buyer for a price of $500,000 and you tell everyone you know. Then, the deal falls through and you have to put it back on the market. Since word is out that you already accepted $500,000 once, how can you expect anyone to pay more? You are basically setting your own ceiling for price when you could possibly get a better offer from another buyer.


At the end of the day, you should do whatever is in your comfort zone. Some people are private by nature and would naturally keep things to themselves. Others will gladly tell everyone their personal business.

We are big proponents in discretion because it is in your best interests. It is better safe than sorry and besides, at some point the sale will be in public records and everyone will know soon enough.


Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 7 Closing And Possession

by The Schuman Team


By this point you should have a firm loan commitment and be just weeks or even days away from getting the keys to your new home. A few things still need to be done to ensure a smooth closing.


1. Communicate With The Title Company

2. Talk To Your Lender

3. Coordinate Getting Keys

Let's go over these briefly.

Here in Ohio, a title company, not attorney's office, will be coordinating your closing. They will communicate with your lender to get closing documents and schedule the day and time for you to sign them. They will also be the ones telling you how much money ( certified funds---NO personal check ) you need to bring to closing.

Please keep in mind that title companies are very busy, especially during the summer months. They also don't typically work on files too far in advance, maybe a day or two out at best.

For this reason we advise our buyers to be proactive with the title company. Make sure you have all pertinent contact information and that they have yours as well.

Don't be surprised if a lot of things regarding your closing happen at the last minute as title companies typically don't get documents from lenders until the day before closing, if they're lucky.

In regards to your loan, make sure your lender has everything they need from you. As standard protocol, they may re-pull credit and contact your employer to verify employment so you may want to give your personal department a heads up to ensure there are no delays. Also, make sure you don't make any major purchases prior to closing on your loan.

Talk to your loan officer to make sure they have contact information for your title company and that they have been in communication with the specific person handling your account.

The last thing you need to do is verify with your agent when you can get your keys. A transaction doesn't become official until the deed in recorded at the courthouse, which typically occurs after 4:30PM.  Keys are given out once title has officially transferred.


In Ohio, buyers and sellers don't typically meet. Each party signs their documents separately, so you may in fact never come face to face with the sellers of the home.

As mentioned above, the transaction isn't official until the deed is recorded. Some buyers, especially those coming from out of state, are expecting to get the keys immediately after signing loan documents. It doesn't work that way here. Signing of documents may occur a day or two before the actual filing of the deed.

It is wise to keep a copy of all documents relating to the buying process, such as the purchase agreement, disclosures, and inspection reports. You never know if or when you may need them, so please keep a copy in a safe place.

The home buying process can be stressful and complicated, but when the boxes are unpacked and you are settled in, your home will bring you more joy and happiness than you can ever imagine.

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 6 Post Inspection

by The Schuman Team


You are now at the point where inspections have been completed and any items of concern have been agreed upon by both parties.

This is the part of the process where you can take a deep breath and relax a little. While it's not over yet, it should be smooth sailing as only a few things have to be completed.

1. Financing

2. Moving Preparations

3. Walk Through

Let's discuss each item.



Since a loan takes between 30-60 days to complete, it will be in process by the time you are at this stage. Hopefully the appraisal has been done and approved by this point, otherwise, that would be the next step. A loan cannot be approved if the appraisal does not come it at least equal to the purchase price.

Make sure your lender has everything they need from you. It is a good idea to stay in constant communication with your loan officer at all times.


We recommend making a checklist of any other things that need to be done prior to closing so you are prepared.  If you plan on having improvements done to the home prior to moving in, you may want to contact contractors and plan dates for them to begin the work.

You may also want to schedule a locksmith to come to the home once you close so you can have the locks changed.

Most important, you need to handle the transfer of utilities so that you have service upon moving in. Your agent will provide you a list of the utility companies that service the area in which you plan to live.


We discussed the walk through briefly during the "negotiation phase" but will cover the process in more detail here.

In most contracts, you as the buyer will have a chance to walk through the home one last time prior to closing. The main purpose is to verify that the property is in the same or similar condition that it was at the time you entered into an agreement.

It is during the walk through that you will verify that any items sellers agreed to fix are indeed operable to your satisfaction.

Also, you will make sure that any items that were to remain in the property after closing, such as a refrigerator or washer and dryer, are indeed still there.

A walk through is not to be used as a means to enter into price negotiations with the seller, yet again. That time has passed.

If legitimate items present themselves during the walk through, your agent will address them with the sellers.


We advise buyers to be proactive and organized during this stage of the process.

Make sure you solidify plans with movers, contractors, and anyone else who needs to get into your home once you get the keys.

Write down a list of things you need to do prior to closing and stay on top of it.

Communicate with your agent and lender. Staying on top of things will lead to a smooth closing.

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 5 Negotiating

by The Schuman Team

Negotiations is one of the most important steps of the home buying process and also the most emotional. Today we will go over the basics.


There are 3 main instances when you negotiate during the buying process:

1.  The Initial Offer

2.  After Inspections

3.  At Walk Through

Let's go over these in detail.


Most people are aware of this main negotiating phase and it was explained briefly in step 4 - "Writing An Offer".  We discussed the need to look at market statistics and figure out a fair price for a home. That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part ----getting the seller to accept.

Every seller thinks their home is the greatest thing in the world. They likely have a flood of memories in the home and spent a lot of money on maintenance or upgrades. They want as much as possible for it. A buyer on the other hand always wants to pay as little as possible,  so the process begins on uncommon ground.

Sometimes agreeing on terms is easy but most of the time there is a lot of back and forth with emotions getting magnified. This is why having an agent is so important, having a steady partner to guide you through the process.

Let's assume you and the seller have come to terms and the contract is signed by all parties. Now comes phase 2 of negotiations.


Once the home inspection process is completed, there will likely be items that appear on the inspection report that you will want addressed.  Thus begins round 2 of negotiations.

A buyer should concentrate on health, safety and structural issues that are discovered by the inspector. These are items that will typically be fixed by a seller without much fuss. It is the extraneous items that many buyers often ask for that causes this phase to become contentious.

What is extraneous is up for debate, which is where the problems begin. Buyers often feel like this process gives them a reason to re-negotiate on price, which is not the purpose of the inspection. Then, they ask for all sorts of items or a reduction in price and the fireworks go off.

Focusing on items specifically highlighted by your inspector is a good way to come across as genuine to a seller, and will likely get you what you want.

Now, if you're the type of person who likes to push the envelope and see what you can get away with, feel free to ask the seller for the sun, moon and stars. Just don't be surprised if this strategy ends up hurting you.



Within 3 days of closing, a buyer will have a chance to walk through a home to make sure it is in the same or similar condition that it was at the time of the execution of the purchase agreement.

Typically, this takes 10-15 minutes and goes smoothly. In rare cases, a problem may arise where buyers and sellers need to negotiate prior to closing.

For example, as terms of the agreement, a seller could have promised to fix an oven that was not secured ( a possible safety hazard ). Then, during the walk through, it is noticed that the sellers didn't do it.

To alleviate problems during the walk through it is recommended to get paid receipts of any work that was done prior to the walk through.

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 4 Making An Offer

by The Schuman Team

When you find that special home, it is time to make an official offer.

This is a very serious step of the home buying process and should be done with the help of an experienced real estate agent.




Any offer must be put in writing as verbal offers are not accepted in the State of Ohio. We also recommend submitting your offer as soon as possible so that another buyer doesn't get the home.

While your agent will sit down and go over all the paperwork, our clients find it helpful to receive a copy of the purchase agreement in advance so they have a chance to review it. It contains a ton of important information and is a legally binding contract, so should be taken very seriously.

The formal offer will consist of the purchase agreement, property disclosures, and State disclosures.

Your agent will need the following information in order to complete the purchase agreement:

1. Names as you want them to appear

2. Price

3. Down Payment

4. Earnest Money

5. Closing Date

6. Inspections

By this point, your agent will have given you market statistics, so figuring out a starting price should be fairly easy. We will talk more about this in detail during the "Negotiations" Step of the process.

We recommend that all buyers ask for a general home inspection up front. Then, based on the results, you will have a right to bring in additional specialists if deemed necessary by the general home inspector.

We also recommend pest and radon inspections. The general home inspectors typically offer these services.

Homes that are on well and/or septic will require additional inspections. Your agent will be able to advise you on this.



We recommend sitting down in person with your agent if possible to go over your offer and the corresponding paperwork. If you are unable to meet in person, doing everything by phone and email is certainly acceptable.

The process could take 1-2 hours for first time buyers or as little as 15 minutes for seasoned buyers.

Since this is a major financial transaction, you are also welcome to have an attorney review the paperwork, although not necessary in the State of Ohio.

Once the paperwork is completed, things can get really complicated as the next step takes place, "negotiations".

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 3 Finding A Home

by The Schuman Team


At this point, you will have gone over your parameters with your agent and secured your financing. Now comes the fun part, Step 3 ---finding your dream home.

Here are the best places to find homes for sale in Cleveland:


2. The Internet

A real estate agent has access to real time data from the multiple listing service ( MLS ) and will be able to set you up on a home search based on your criteria. It is a proactive process as homes will get automatically emailed to you as they come on the market.

Some buyers also like to search popular national sites such as and Zillow. These sites are good as well, but just keep in mind that information found here is not as accurate as the MLS.


Bank owned homes are always listed in the MLS and would be included in your search.

You may not know a certain listing is bank owned unless specifically stated in the property description. However, banks list their inventories with agents so you will not miss out on these types of homes.

Pre-foreclosures are a popular search item on some companies' sites. The reality though is that a pre-foreclosure simply means the owners are behind on their mortgage. In most cases the owners will take the necessary steps and the homes never get to the market.

If a home gets foreclosed on, it could take well over a year for the process to play out. In simplistic terms, these are not viable homes to consider.

I do know of people who knock on doors of people whose homes are in pre-foreclosure but wouldn't recommend it.

How would you like it if you were in financial distress and someone knocked on your door?  Let's just say you won't get greeted with a friendly smile.



There is an art to efficiently screening the numerous homes that you will see.

1. Look at the Pictures

2. Skim Property Descriptions

3. Note Homes That Contain Your "Must Haves"

It shouldn't take too long to go through a list of homes and determine which ones are possibilities. A few words of advice:

If a home has few or no pictures, there may be a reason. Also, some homes look way better on line than they do in person. A listing agent's job is to make a home look as appealing as possible so be careful.

On the flip side, some homes look better in person. A good buyer's agent should be previewing homes on your behalf and would be able to bring these homes to your attention.


Make an appointment with your agent to see homes. We recommend not seeing more than 6-8 homes at one time as they tend to all look alike after that.

Sometimes it takes 24-48 hours to schedule, so give your agent advance notice if possible.

When viewing the homes, your agent will point out special features of each home. We recommend that you take notes or pictures/video of the homes you like so you can remember them after your tour.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and get specific information that is important such as age of mechanicals, a list of updates, and a copy of the property disclosures.

You may also want to bring a tape measure with you to make sure specific pieces of furniture will fit in certain rooms.

The process of going out and looking at homes will continue until you find the right home.  A motivated buyer should be able to find a home in 60-90 days.

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 2 Financing

by The Schuman Team

Step 2 - Getting Pre-Approved For a Loan


While Step 1 was to find a qualified buyer's agent, getting pre-approved would be step 1a, it is that important.

Many buyers who have a good job history and excellent credit assume financing won't be an issue and often don't take this step as serious as they should.

These folks opt to start looking for homes and only get an approval after finding a home they love---the wrong way to go about the process!

In terms of qualifications, you may indeed walk on water, but it is still critical to go through the pre-approval process for many reasons.



1. Find Out How Much You Qualify For

2. Sellers Won't Accept An Offer Without A Pre-approval

3. There May Be Mistakes On Your Credit Report - Will Take Time To Fix

4. Learn About Different Loan Options

5. Establish A Relationship With A Mortgage Profession - A Valuable Member Of Your Team

The pre-approval process is easy and can be initiated by a brief phone conversation with a loan officer. Save yourself a lot of aggravation and get it done early in the process.





There are basically 3 main places to get a loan:

1. Lender

2. Bank

3. Mortgage Broker

Is one better than another? It depends who you ask. Some people prefer a lender or broker who can shop the market and find you the best rate and terms. Others are more comfortable with a traditional bank.

I am personally a fan of using a company with a vested interest in the local community as I feel they are more likely to have incentive to make their customers happy.

If and when problems arise, an internet based company or one without a local office, in my experience, is less responsive.

At the end of the day, the loan is an important part of the process so find someone that you feel will do a great job.

Your agent or friends should be able to refer to you to a qualified loan officer.

Buying A Home In Cleveland - Step 1 - Hire An Agent

by The Schuman Team

Buying a home in cleveland

Buying a home is an exciting yet complex transaction. The following is part 1 of a 7 part series on buying a home in the Cleveland area.

The first step to buying a home is finding an agent.



While I may appear to be a little biased here, this is advice I would give to my own family members. The following are just a few of the things that a buyer's agent will do for you:

1. Represent Your Best Interests - A listing Agent Cannot Represent You

2. Educate You On Market Conditions

3. Identify Cities / Specific Neighborhoods That Meet Your Needs

4. Give School Information

5. Schedule and Show Homes

6. Point Out Potential Issues With Various Homes That You See

7. Provide "Off Market" Opportunities

8. Provide Resources to Lenders, Inspectors, Contractors

9. Prepare/Explain Purchase Agreement and Corresponding Documentation

10. Handle All Aspects Of Negotiating

11. Provide Oversight Of Inspection Process

12. Manage Deadlines

13. Coordinate Closing

14. Ensure Smooth Title Transfer

15. Represent You In Case Issues Arise After Closing

Keep in mind that this is not an exclusive list, just a starting point of many things a buyer's agent does for you.




First, you need to define what type of qualities you want in a real estate professional. Do you want someone who is older and experienced? Young and aggressive? A specialist in the area in which you plan to buy?

You will be entering into a fairly intense relationship for several months. There will be hundreds of emails, phone calls and face to face conversations,  so be sure to choose an agent that you feel will have your back at all times and that you will enjoy working with.



There are many ways to find a quality real estate agent. Here are a few quick ways to get you started:

1. Get A Referral From Friends or Family

2. Ask A Co-Worker

3. Search The Internet

Do your homework and use your instincts. Just because your friend had a good experience doesn't ensure you will. His west side agent may not be ideal if you are buying on the east side.

If your co-worker was a first time buyer, their agent may not be the perfect fit if you are buying a luxury home. While not foolproof, the above ways to find an agent are certainly a good starting point.

Once you have an agent (s), contact them in the manner in which you prefer to communicate. If you do business primarily via text or email, contact the agent in the same way and gauge their response time. If they don't respond in a timely manner, what does that say about the level of service you can expect from them?

We also suggest having a face to face consultation with any agent you are considering. There is no substitute for meeting face to face with someone who will be guiding you through a very important transaction.



1. Hiring A Big Listing Agent - An agent who primarily lists a lot of homes doesn't necessarily work with buyers. They are different skill sets and often times, a busy listing agent will pawn you off on their less experienced assistant. This is not always the case, but something to keep in mind.

2. Hiring A Part-Time Agent

3. Hiring An Agent Who Covers A Large Area



In order to have a successful real estate transaction, you need to surround yourself with a good real estate professional. Do your research, ask a lot of questions, and let your instincts guide you.

How To Determine A Home's Value

by The Schuman Team
Price For A Home
How Much To Pay For That Home?

Determining the value of a home is a big challenge to both buyers and sellers.

Since the seller, by virtue of their list price, has already determined the price they feel their home is worth, we will focus on helping a buyer determine value.



In simplest terms, a home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In a perfect world, a buyer would find a home, tell the seller how much they want to pay for it, the seller would easily agree, and everyone would then hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

We all now this isn't how things work. Every buyer wants to pay as little as possible, and every seller wants as much as they can get. There is typically disagreement before an offer is even made.

For this reason, negotiating the price on a home is one of the more difficult transactions you will encounter. If you follow our tips below, this part of the process will be easier.



There are 3 statistics that can be used to help determine value:

1. Price of Recent Sales ( Comps )

2. Average Price Per Square Foot

3. Percentage of List Price

Let's go over each one of these starting with comparable sales.  The best way to get value is to find recent similar sales ( same neighborhood, price point, sold within 6 months ) and compare them to the home you are buying. While it certainly helps if you have personally seen these homes when they were for sale, it isn't a must.

Start with the best recent sale and compare it to the home you want to buy. You should consider what the recent sale has/doesn't have and make appropriate adjustments.

For example, if you are looking at a home listed for $400,000 that has a 3 car garage, and the best recent sale was $375,000 but had only a 2 car garage, an adjustment would be appropriate of $10,000-$15,000. You can do the same thing with number of bedrooms, baths, and amenities such as finished basement.

While price per square foot is not the preferred method of determining value for an appraiser, it is sometimes helpful as a secondary method just to make sure you are in the ballpark.

For example, if homes are selling for an average of $150 / sq. ft. , with the range being $125-175, paying $185 may be excessive, unless there are compensating factors. Remember, we are talking about AVERAGE price/sq. foot, so if the home you are buying is above average in your opinion ( updates, superior finishes, etc...) than paying higher in the range would be acceptable.

Finally, seeing what homes sell for in terms of sale price/final list price ( it is typically 94-96% in most areas here in Cleveland ) will give you an idea of a range in which you could expect to pay for a home that you feel is priced fairly.

If homes are selling for 95% of the value, than in the example above, paying $380,000 for a $400,000 home would be realistic. That doesn't mean you couldn't buy it for less, or you wouldn't have to pay more, these figures are just used to help guide you.



It is very easy for a buyer to get distracted and lose sight of the big picture.

There are many different personalities at play; buyers, sellers, agents, and often parents and friends who always want to put their two cents into the equation. Therefore, we recommend focusing on the numbers and following your instincts.

Having a knowledgeable agent to guide you is a major plus. However, at the end of the day, you are the one who ultimately makes the decisions, so you need to be comfortable with the process of determining value.

By following our advice, you will be on your way to figuring out a fair price for any home.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

Contact Information

The Schuman Team
3550 Lander Road
Pepper Pike OH 44122
Dan: 216-346-3235
Amy: 216-403-9189
Fax: 216-456-2333