New Year, New Forms!

Each year, Tennessee REALTORS® (formerly the Tennessee Association of REALTORS®) releases changes and updates to the association’s contract and disclosure forms. The new forms are crafted by the association’s forms committee and their attorneys and introduced each January to REALTOR® members throughout the state. “Many of the revisions for 2018 clarify, reduce or expand existing “boiler-plate” language found in the forms or the addition of new terms and conditions to reflect changes to state and federal laws”, according to John Giffen, Benchmark’s Director, Broker Services who oversees broker compliance for the company. The 2018 Tennessee REALTORS® form changes are not widespread throughout the form inventory; however, there are some significant modifications to disclosures and addendums associated with the residential Purchase and Sale Agreement (RF401). The following is a brief summary of some of the more significant changes to documents used on a regular basis by members of Tennessee REALTORS®: Purchase and Sale Agreements Changes to RF401 – Purchase and Sale Agreement – are very minor. Some terminology was either added or deleted in order to remove any ambiguity to a few sections of the Agreement. One revision that stands out is moving the paragraph informing the buyer they will take [...]

By |2018-01-11T17:40:46-06:00January 11th, 2018|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on New Year, New Forms!

How to Buy a Lot and Build a Home

Though many consumers may think they don’t need a REALTOR for new construction, a good agent can be an invaluable resource, especially if you’re planning a custom build. An agent is there to represent your interests, from thinking through the home you want to build to negotiating land purchase. Choosing Your Home Style Before you begin the hunt for the perfect lot, start by thinking through the style of home you want to have built. This can have an impact on lot size, neighborhood, and more. It can also help when it comes time to select a builder. As you’re making a list of ideas, be sure to note any local builders you come across. Don’t be afraid to involve your agent at this step in the process. At Benchmark, our agents understand current market trends so they can help you better evaluate potential home features and design, which can have a big impact on resale down the road. Learn Your Local Building Ordinances Once you have an idea of the size and style you’re looking for in a home, it’s time to start researching. An agent with experience negotiating land deals can be a big help in putting the [...]

By |2018-01-04T15:55:54-06:00January 4th, 2018|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on How to Buy a Lot and Build a Home

Finding Balance and Safety While Selling Your Home Over the Holidays

You’re planning to list your home this holiday season, but wondering how to balance your own celebrations, yet making sure your valuables stay safe with strangers in your home? While you don’t have to be a master scheduler to successfully sell a home over the holidays, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you not lose sight of the joy of the season. Protecting What’s Under the Tree No one wants to have an empty tree over the holidays, but during an open house, that’s exactly what you need to do. Put most of your gifts—especially the expensive ones—up and out of view during your open houses. The same goes for any prescription medications. Take protecting your home a step further by working with an agent rather than trying the For Sale by Owner route. Your agent can keep an eye on things and even bring another agent with them during open houses to help keep watch. Bringing the Holiday Cheer Selling your home over the holidays doesn’t have to mean giving up your own celebrations. Feel free to decorate! This can actually help potential buyers envision their own future holidays there. Just be sure not [...]

By |2017-12-21T19:12:35-06:00December 21st, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on Finding Balance and Safety While Selling Your Home Over the Holidays

How to Use the Holidays to Sell Your Home

The holidays are here, and while the idea of selling your home this time of year can be daunting, the seasonal spirit can work in your favor. Follow these nine tips to use holiday cheer to sell your home this winter. 1. May Your Days Be Merry and Bright With home buyers feeling the joy of the season, it’s the perfect time to make your home cheery—both inside and out. Use subtle décor to help buyers envision making their own holiday memories in your home, and up your curb appeal to welcome potential buyers with true season’s greetings. 2. Price to Sell If you want to sell your home this time of year, you need to price it accordingly. With holiday spending, potential buyers are juggling a number of budgets. You should keep this in mind as you set your sales price. 3. Holiday Open Houses There’s no place like home for the holidays, and open houses can give potential buyers that sense much more than a traditional walkthrough. Consider having instrumental holiday music in the background and burning subtle, seasonally-scented candles to really drive home the feel of the season. 4. Buyers Are Serious Don’t worry if you don’t [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:43:52-06:00December 6th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on How to Use the Holidays to Sell Your Home

Thank You From the Benchmark Team

We are very grateful for the amazing individuals who make up Benchmark Realty! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought we would share some of our agents and Broker’s comments about why they are thankful for being a part of Benchmark Realty: Drew Hendry - Broker “We are a family of real estate agents with a common goal of growing our businesses and establishing a trust in the community, as well as with each client we serve.” Michelle Moore - Agent "We've got a lot of top producers at Benchmark that have come from good companies that have said, "You know what? This just makes good sound business sense for me to move my business to this company." And they have stayed. They haven't gone back or looked back. I think that says volumes about Benchmark.” Brianna Morant - Agent "Benchmark is very efficient. Of course, they’re paperless, but there’s so much teamwork. There are different levels of checks on everything, so I can literally go in at any time and see where my file is, what’s missing, and what I need to do. The backend system is very sophisticated, and the quality of the people that Phillip hires is [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:22:44-06:00November 22nd, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on Thank You From the Benchmark Team

How to Research Neighborhoods Before Buying a Home

For many homeowners, the neighborhood a home is in can be as important as the home itself. But how can you make sure a community is a good fit for your family? With the right amount of research, you can get an inside look at a neighborhood to make an informed home-buying choice. Evaluating Safety For many people, neighborhood safety is the top concern when purchasing a home. Luckily, there are a number of online resources that make it easy to see just how safe a certain area is. My Local Crime can provide a list of nearby incidents for a particular address, while websites like Zillow, Trulia and Neighborhood Scout offer crime maps to show the density of different types of crime in different areas. Additionally, the National Sex Offender Public Website can be a useful resource especially for parents. Finding Good Schools Another concern for many parents is the quality of schools in an area. Again, websites like Zillow, Trulia and Neighborhood Scout can be a big help, as they include nearby schools to give you a better lay of the land. From there, you can research the schools themselves at to drill down into the specifics. [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:23:46-06:00November 16th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts, Uncategorized|Comments Off on How to Research Neighborhoods Before Buying a Home

How to Buy an Eco-Friendly Home

From a reduced environmental footprint to lower utility bills, purchasing an eco-friendly home offers benefits to both the buyer and the world around them. For these reasons, finding an eco-friendly home is a top priority for a number of home buyers. But where do you start when it comes time begin house hunting, and what features have the biggest impact? Getting to Know Area Builders With the exception of full-home renovations, the most eco-friendly houses tend to be newer construction. A good first step in locating these types of homes is to search for builders or developments in your area with a focus on the environment. While “green” has been a buzz word in years past, set your sights on something more specific when identifying local builders. Look for companies that use sustainable building materials, energy efficient in-home technologies (appliances, lighting, etc.) and construction-site recycling practices. Meet the Passive Home The latest standard in environmentally friendly building is the passive home—a house rated by how energy efficient it is while people are actively living in it. This doesn’t just mean efficient appliances, but rather focuses on an air-tight seal to keep temperature-controlled air from escaping. Windows are one of the [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:23:53-06:00November 9th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on How to Buy an Eco-Friendly Home

Should You Buy a Home with a Homeowners’ Association?

For many homebuyers, a planned community can offer a number of benefits, but buying a house in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association (HOA) can mean more than access to the community pool. Before committing to an HOA, there are a number of factors to consider to make sure it’s right for you. Understanding the Fees If you’ve found a community you like, work with your REALTOR to understand the fees. Some lenders report that the cost can impact your buying power, with a $100 monthly fee reducing your overall loan approval amount by as much as $10 to $20 thousand depending on your rate. Others argue that the fee covers items you’d otherwise pay for out of pocket after purchasing a home in a neighborhood not governed by an HOA. The Benefits of an HOA Depending on the specific community, an HOA can take some of the work out of owning a home. From lawn care and landscaping to certain repairs and even (sometimes) basic cable, associations offer a range of services for their members. Check with the HOA in the communities you’re considering to understand what exactly is included in the monthly fee. Looking into the Restrictions While [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:24:05-06:00October 25th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on Should You Buy a Home with a Homeowners’ Association?

Why Agents Should Consider a Fee-Based Model

If you’ve been working as real estate agent for any amount of time, then you’re familiar with the percentage cut many agencies take from their agents. While this is a fairly common business practice, it’s not the only option for agents, and it’s not always the best option either. Understanding A Percentage-Based Structure With the fourth quarter of 2017 upon us, it’s only a few more months before many agents will have to start giving a larger portion of their commission to their agency. This is because many agencies that use a percentage model roll back their agents’ percentages at the first of the year. It’s not uncommon for an agent to start a new year off at a 70 percent / 30 percent split—with the agency taking 30 percent to cover costs, fees, training and other tools they may offer. Then, as agents reach sales milestones throughout the year, that percentage shifts, with the agent retaining more of each sale. Why Fee-Based is the Better Option Many percentage-based agencies point to a seemingly robust suite of marketing tools and support to justify their take of each sale. While this might benefit more inexperienced agents, a fee-based model allows the [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:24:12-06:00October 20th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on Why Agents Should Consider a Fee-Based Model

Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters

Though many consumers expect each new house they buy to be bigger than the last, there comes a point in many people’s lives when the next home purchase doesn’t need quite as many bedrooms or half baths—especially with the kids buying homes of their own. As a REALTOR, you can do more than help empty nester clients find the right home for the next chapter in their lives. You can make the downsizing process easier. Here are a few tips to get your clients started. Decluttering to Accommodate Smaller Spaces Successful downsizing starts by intentionally decluttering with an end goal of fitting into smaller spaces. It’s easiest to approach decluttering room-by-room with a detailed inventory that can then be sorted into categories: Things they must have, things they can replace, and things they can live without. Have your clients ask themselves if they lost everything, what would they actually replace. This will help them determine what things in their home really add value to their lives. To better accommodate smaller spaces, have them start with the biggest pieces of furniture in each room. Do they really need that huge sectional sofa? Would an extendable dining table better accommodate family holidays [...]

By |2017-12-06T20:24:20-06:00October 11th, 2017|Agent Blog, Blog, Consumer Blog, Featured Blog Posts|Comments Off on Downsizing Tips for Empty Nesters
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