Making a Good First Impression

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If you want buyers to be interested in your home, you need to show it in its best light. A good first impression can influence a buyer both emotionally and visually, thus prompting them to make an offer. In addition, what the buyer first sees is what they think of when they consider the asking price.

A bad first impression can dissuade a potential buyer. Don’t show your property until it’s all fixed up. You do not want to give buyers the chance to use the negative first impression they have as means of negotiation.

Ask around for the opinions others have of your home. Real estate agents who see houses everyday can give solid advice on what needs to be done. Consider what architects or landscape designers have to say. What you need are objective opinions, and it’s sometimes hard to separate the personal and emotional ties you have for the home from the property itself.

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Typically, there are some general fix ups that need to be done both outside and on the inside. As a seller, you should consider the following:

  • Landscaping – Has the front yard been maintained? Are areas of the house visible to the street in good condition?
  • Cleaning or Redoing the driveway – Is your driveway cluttered with toys, tools, trash etc.?
  • Painting – Does both the exterior and the interior look like they have been well taken care of?
  • Carpeting – Does the carpet have stains? Or does the carpet look old and dirty?

5 Home-Selling Tips Everyone Hears and May Want To Ignore

a15b18aec3b1e388baf2fe361bc9d778w-c0xd-w685_h860_q80.jpgOne of the hardest parts of selling your home is all the unknowns: Who will buy your place, and for how much? How long will it take? That uncertainty might make you particularly eager to soak up advice from just about anyone who’s willing to share. Problem is, just because your sister or co-worker swear by certain rules that worked for them, it doesn’t mean they’ll be a magic solution for you, too.

Fact is, a lot of the real estate advice circulating out there is outdated, region-specific, or just plain wrong. As proof, check out this list of tips that many home sellers hear … then learn how these words of wisdom don’t always hold water. Let this serve as a reminder that when selling a home, you should take everything you hear with a huge grain of salt.

‘You should always list your home in the spring’

Common knowledge says home-buying season starts in the spring and goes through the fall. Not true, says Melisa Aponte, a real estate agent with the Keyes Group in Miami, FL.

“January is a great listing month,” she points out. “People are back from the holidays and ready to start looking.”

Well, at least in places that don’t have a nasty winter, like Miami. Which makes a larger point about real estate advice in general, Aponte says: Every market is different, and what’s great advice in one area can be terrible advice in another.

Besides, when it comes to deciding when to list a home, there are two sides to the coin. Busier times mean more buyers, but also more sellers and more competition. Listing your home when inventory is low could snag the right buyer quickly. Life is unpredictable, and there will always be buyers looking in the “off season,” too.

‘You’ll find your buyer at an open house’

Open houses are exciting, akin to a debutante ball where your home makes its fresh-faced appearance to scads of suitors all at once. And that’s fine, but don’t expect this to be the venue where you find “the one” who makes an offer. While that can occur, open houses are more like parties, filled with swains who aren’t ready to settle down, says Anita Clark, a real estate agent in Warner Robins, GA. Serious home buyers will more often request a private one-on-one showing instead.

Of course, you don’t want to skip the open house entirely. It’s a great way for people to browse, and hey, you never know. Maybe your looky-loo neighbor has a family member who would love to buy your place after all. But it’s time to let go of the idea that an open house is a key step on the road to your ultimate buyer.

‘You can save money by paying less in commission’

Reluctant to fork over the 6% commission that real estate agents typically request to sell your home? Sure, that may seem like a lot of money, but what you might not realize is just how much work an agent does behind the scenes.

“A lot of people don’t understand that an agent’s job is more than just listing the home on the MLS,” says Aponte. Agents’ commissions pay for their time and for marketing materials. Posters, flyers, broker open houses, and yard signs all come from the money you pay your agent.

But beyond that, “it gives your agent the power to offer money to other agents who have qualified buyers,” she explains. That’s because the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent split the commission.

Though in an ideal world, buyers’ agents would show them every property in their price range, regardless of commission, unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way, says Aponte.

“So if there are a lot of properties on the market and you’re only offering 2% commission, there are agents who won’t show that property,” she says.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for, and a higher commission can often justify itself in the sense that you can reel in tons of buyers, and (hopefully) spark a bidding war that’ll fetch top dollar.

‘Price your home high—and hold out for a buyer who’ll pay it’

Of course you want to get the most you can for your property. Still, pricing it sky-high and hoping a gullible buyer will fall for this aspirational sum? Not a great plan.

“I want to sell your property for a million dollars too, but I would be doing you a disservice to price it that way if the comps are saying $500,000,” says Aponte. Home buyers are highly sensitive to overpaying, and will quickly steer clear. And the longer your house sits on the market, the more buyers will begin to think something’s wrong with it … and lob you a lowball offer.

The best way to avoid this debacle is to price a house right from the start—not too high, not too low—and then seriously consider any offers that roll in, even if they aren’t as great as you’d hoped. To start things off, you can enter your address in a home value estimator to get a ballpark figure of how much your home is worth, then fine-tune that number with an agent’s help.

‘Here’s what the market is going to look like next year…’

Sure, it makes sense that real estate professionals will make educated guesses to help guide buyers’ and sellers’ decision-making. The operative word here is “educated.” Fact is, nobody really knows what the market is going to do; if they did, the housing crash of 2008 would have looked a lot different!

“Beware of ‘future’ predictions that don’t come from a reputable source,” says Dillar Schwartz, a real estate agent in Austin, TX. Sure, your brother-in-law or best friend might be trying to help, but keep in mind that their armchair philosophizing about the future of real estate is just an opinion—nothing more.

What Dog Owners Should Know When Buying or Selling a Home

(Guest Blog By Medina James at DogEtiquette)

 

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Image via Pixabay

 

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, if you’re a dog owner, there are some special preparations and precautions you must take. It may be one of the last things on your mind during this busy and stressful time, but real estate dog etiquette is extremely important. Here are some tips for both buyers and sellers who have to deal with canine friends throughout the process.

For sellers – your house smells more like dog than you think

When we live with certain smells for years, we get used to them. We all know that everyone’s house has a particular scent – and if you’re trying to sell your house you don’t want that scent to be eau de pooch. The natural way to get dog odor out of carpets and furniture involves baking soda and vinegar, but there are also plenty of sprays, shampoos, and other products you can purchase to help. Plug-in air fresheners work for the final touch. Also remember to pick up any dog poop in your yard. Here is a good article about removing pet odors from a house.

For sellers – make arrangements to have your dogs out of the house

This goes for scheduled showings and for open houses. You’ll want to make arrangements to have your dogs out of the house – and not just out of the house and in the backyard. You’ll want your dogs to be completely gone. Either board them for a day or ask a friend or neighbor to watch them for a few hours.

For buyers – ask ahead for dog visits

Some pet owners want to take their dog to a potential new home to see how they interact with it. Older dogs with mobility issues may have trouble with certain design elements of a home, and you may want to see if they can handle stairs, decks, porches, etc. before committing to purchase. If you want to do this, you need to ask. It’s rude to bring a dog into someone’s home without first clearing it. People have allergies, fears, and even other pets you must consider.

For both – think about moving day

Moving day is stressful for your pets, so it may be best to board them (here are some tips on that) or have them stay with a friend. If you can’t arrange this, it’s smart to put them in a “safe room” in your house and instruct the movers to move that room last. This is simply safer for the movers and for your dog.

For both – it’s best to leave your dog out of the process (no matter how cute)

You love your dog. Strangers may also love your dog. Most everyone you meet may love your dog. But somewhere there is someone who just doesn’t like dogs. Maybe they’re afraid or maybe they’re allergic. Whatever the case may be, some people just aren’t dog people. So why take the risk that a potential buyer/seller is in this small minority? Even if your dog is incredibly well-behaved and cute, it’s best to leave them out of the process altogether. Ask a friend to watch your dog, or hire a dog walker if the dog just needs to be out of the home briefly for a single showing.

Even dog lovers don’t really want to deal with other people’s animals during the home buying process. It’s not only considerate of others to leave dogs out of the process, but it’s better for your dogs too. Many dogs are stressed out by tons of strangers and new environments, so it’s best to protect them from the chaos that is buying or selling a home.

Tips For Selling A Home With Kids

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No matter how many times you have done it before, the home selling process can have its challenges. As hard as it may already be, selling a home with kids is even harder. That is why we’ve compiled this guide: to inform homeowners with children of special considerations they will need to make in order to keep the process as smooth as possible.

Make sure your kids know that you’re selling your home: One of the major mistakes that people selling their house with kids make is either hiding or being indirect about the fact to their kids. The kids will figure it out at some point, and this can be very upsetting for them. They may have grown up in your home, and they will sure have a lot of memories from your home. They may also have a lot of friends in the area. This being said, you don’t want them to find out about it the hard way as that may cause an adverse reaction. If you bring it up to them well before of it actually happening, it will give them more time to adjust, and will give you more time to try and get them excited about the new move by doing things such as showing them the new neighborhood/area and what is so great about it.

Prepare your home for the market: Preparing your home for market is a very important part of the selling process, and if you have kids, it can be even trickier. You want your home to appeal to everyone, not just people with kids.  You will want to depersonalize your home so that buyers can envision themselves living in the home when they come to see it. Painting the walls a neutral color, taking down the artwork from the fridge, and putting away all stuffed animals and toys are some examples of depersonalizing your home.

Stage your home: Staging your home is one of the most important aspects of the home selling process and can make a big difference in the speed of your home sale and the price you get. Potential buyers want to see your home as theirs. Work with an experience stager who can edit what you already have or bring in totally new furniture and furnishings to create an emotional response in a potential buyer.

Secure a storage unit, facility, or space: If you have kids, you know how fast things can accumulate. If your home is way too cluttered with toys and other belongings, you will want to consider removing some of the excess until your home is sold and you are moving into your new home. You can either designate a space for storage or rent out a storage unit or something similar. If you don’t want to rent a storage unit or POD, think carefully about where you will store your extra stuff. You shouldn’t store belongings in areas that are commonly used such as the bedrooms or the living room, but somewhere that buyers probably won’t see. A few good areas might be:

  • Shed
  • Attic
  • Garage

Lastly, make sure to organize the items you’re storing neatly and use labels. The last thing you would want to happen is to realize you need something that you packed away and then not be able to easily find it. Make sure to set aside at least a couple of your child’s favorite toys as well as anything they will truly need while your home is on the market, like school supplies and seasonally appropriate clothes.

Prepare your home for showings: Make sure you choose a real estate agent who has plenty of experience in selling homes with kids. This will make your life a lot easier during the process.

One of the reasons why we suggest to have all the clutter removed from the beginning is because this will make it much easier to clean and get your home ready for a showing. The longer you need to get ready for a showing, the less of a chance you will have to sell your home. In this day and age, everyone has a busy schedule. Someone might want to see your house, but only be available during a certain window. If it takes you three or four hours to get ready for a showing, you could miss a potential buyer. If your children are old enough to assist, have them help prepare your home before the family leaves each day. These are a few things you want to make sure you have always taken care of:

  • Beds Made
  • Toys Cleaned Up and Put Away
  • Clothes Picked Up and Put Away
  • Floors Cleaned
  • Counters Cleaned
  • Sink Free of Dishes
  • Home Free of Unpleasant Odors, Including Pet Smells

It is also very important to check the outdoor areas of your home. You never know what might be left laying around and it is very important to have it look as clean and well-kept as possible.

Plan things to do during showings: With your home is on the market, you may need to find that you need to leave the house during a time you would normally be home. If that should happen, here is a list of a few good activities to do while you’re out:

  • Go to the store / mall
  • Go to the library
  • Go to a friend’s house
  • Go to a park / playground
  • Go to the movies
  • Go to the beach
  • Go miniature golfing / bowling

If your kids are on the younger side, make sure you have everything they might need in a bag or sack. This prevents you from scrambling last minute and forgetting something that your child may need.

Decide if you want to do open houses: An open house can be a great way to find a buyer for your home. Ask your agent about the pros and cons of doing an open house to determine whether or not you think it would be worth it.

Sometimes it comes down to how convenient it is for you to have the open house. You’ll need to be out of your house for anywhere from two to five hours. If both your kids have soccer games or you already plan to be gone for the weekend, an open house can be a great opportunity. But if your baby naps during the afternoon and you find it too hard to leave the house for several hours at a time, it may be better to have your home shown by appointment only.

Conclusion: Selling your home can be a stressful experience, without adding kids to the mix. But with preparation and your Realtor’s expertise, it can be as stress-free and easy of a process as possible!

Preparing Your Home For Showings

You’ve listed your home for sale. Now you need to get it ready to be shown. Overwhelmed by where to start? Our 9 tips will help you get your home ready for buyers!

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First impressions are lasting. The front door greets the prospect. Make sure it is fresh, clean, and scrubbed looking. Keep lawn trimmed.

Use your agent. Show your home to prospective customers only by appointment through your agent. Your cooperation will be appreciated and will help close the sale more quickly.

Can you see the light? Illumination is like a welcome sign. The potential buyer will feel a glowing warmth when you turn on all your lights for an evening inspection.

Repairs can make a big difference. Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor flaws detract from home value.

Stage for a quick sale. Faded walls and worn woodwork reduce appeal. Why try to tell the prospect how your home could look when you can show them by staging your home to look like a model.

Makes closets look bigger. Neat, well-ordered closets show space is ample. Arrange bedrooms neatly. Remove excess furniture. Use attractive bedspreads and freshly laundered curtains.

Bathrooms help sell homes. Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers. Make this room sparkle.

Turn off the music. Let the agent and buyer talk, free of disturbances. Pets underfoot? Keep them out of the way – preferably out of the house.

Let the sun shine in. Open draperies and curtains and let the prospect see how cheerful your home can be since dark rooms do not appeal.