Many people think there’s nothing to selling their home. In some cases this might be true, but for the average homeowner it usually isn’t the case. Most homeowners are not tuned into the trends and fluctuations of the real estate market or aware of the steps necessary to maximize profits on the sale of out home.
What can I do to improve the “curb appeal” of the house I am trying to sell?
Curb appeal – how your house looks to people driving by or as they walk up to the front door – can be critical to getting your house sold. A good first impression can encourage a potential buyer to take a closer look and be more willing to overlook other negatives the property may have. Just as easily, a bad first impression may be impossible to overcome no matter how attractive the inside of the house may be.
Start by imagining how buyers will see your house when they first pull up. Park where you think they will park when they come to visit and walk to the house along the same path they will take. How does the house look to you? How does the yard and landscaping look? Is the property in tip-top shape? Does it look like the paint is up-to- date and that the owners take pride in how their house looks to others? If you, as the seller, are concerned about how your home looks you can expect that potential buyers will be, as well.
Try the same experiment at dusk so that you can see if there are any negative curb appeal issues at that time of day when the lighting is different. Your first job is to repair any obvious problems so that buyers see your house in its best condition.
There are some simple things you can do at almost no or very low cost to make sure that your house makes a great first impression.
Landscaping can make a significant difference in the appearance of a home – and you don’t have to spend a fortune to make yours look beautiful. Plant some flowers to add color to your landscaping and use strategically planted bushes and shrubs to hide unsightly objects like air conditioning units, pipes or damage to the exterior of the home. And be sure to water the lawn and flowers regularly to keep the property looking inviting and well maintained.
Exterior areas often overlooked are the front door and surrounding area. Staining or painting the front door an inviting color makes a good first impression. Make sure the
locks on the door all work properly and easily and that nothing appears to be loose or in need of repair.
Curb appeal also extends to the sides and back of your home. Clean up the backyard, add some landscaping if it is needed and make sure the pool, or water features (if you have them) look clean and well maintained and the storage shed in the corner isn’t on its last leg and rusting. Serious buyers will walk around your house several times so be attentive to the same issues out back and on the sides, just like you would do for the front.
For nighttime appeal you may want to add some lighting along the driveway, at the front door or on the sidewalk leading to the front entrance. Low voltage lighting can be an effective enhancement at relatively low cost.
Finally, if the house has not been recently painted or is painted your favorite color of Jello you may want to consider repainting to a more neutral color.
I am a pet owner. Are there tips for helping someone like me sell my house quickly?
Many Americans enjoy sharing their lives and their homes with pets – of all kinds. If you are selling your home, there is a good chance that some potential buyers will also have pets. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should not make an effort to minimize the impact your pets have on the appearance and attractiveness of the home you are selling.
The evidence of pets living in a home include odors, stains, pet toys, litter boxes, chewed or scratched furniture, pet doors, kennels, water bowls and the pets, themselves.
Odors and stains are the most significant issues to address. Even if your potential buyer owns a pet, he’s not likely to be interested in inheriting the odors left behind by your dog, cat or rabbit.
The American Humane Society suggests that you use a black light to find evidence of accidents on floors, walls, furniture and carpets. No matter how old, they will likely show up under the black light. You can use a wet vacuum (not steam) and standard carpet cleaners to try and remove the stains and their associated odors from carpets and fabrics. In some instances (cats, for example) you may need an enzyme-based product.
Carpet pads that have been stained with pet urine may need to be replaced (entirely or just in the stained sections) and stained paint or varnish will need to be removed and replaced. Sanding and resealing hardwood floors can both remove and conceal certain odors, and would improve the overall attractiveness of the home at the same time.
There is general agreement among REALTORS® that pets should not be in a house (or yard) when the property is being shown. Some people are not comfortable around pets and some pets react strongly when strangers come into their spaces.
Some experts advise that, if possible, pets should temporarily live elsewhere while you are trying to sell your house. That way, much of the visible evidence (toys, litter boxes, pet food) can be removed from the house. For many people this won’t be practical or acceptable, so making the extra effort to minimize the pet’s presence is the next best option.
If your pets are part of either the insect or the reptile families, removing them from the home is pretty much mandatory. More than half of all Americans fear snakes and quite a few feel similarly about large spiders and tarantulas.
When pets are part of the environment, cleaning also means vacuuming the carpets, floors and furniture regularly. People with allergies will often sense right away if there is pet hair in the home.
Keeping your home as clean as possible is important to attracting buyers. Anyone who has sold a home has probably had those moments of annoyance in picking up after their children, making the beds, wiping the counters and doing all the other things to make your home attractive – pretty much every day it is on the market.
As people tour your home, they will be visualizing themselves living there. Just as neutral paint colors, a nicely manicured lawn and good lighting makes for an inviting vision, so will the absence of pets and any evidence they have lived there help to seal the deal.
For more information and advice contact your local REALTOR®
How Does Staging my Home Help Sell?
It is crucial to have some tools to set your home apart from every other house on the market. Home staging is one of those tools.
Home staging helps you appeal to your target market by removing clutter and arranging furniture to show the home’s best features and creating curb appeal. It does not have to be expensive to stage your home for a quicker sale. In fact, most home staging costs less than the average first price reduction.
Start by staging the outside of your home to create curb appeal. Inside staging will have no effect if the buyers don’t leave their car–a decision that is made within seconds. By placing potted flowers and having a well-maintained front yard, buyers will be motivated to see if the inside of the house is as appealing as the outside – even if that means leaving an air-conditioned car in 100 degree heat! Additionally, a seasonal wreath on a freshly painted door will help make a positive first impression.
Once inside, it only takes a buyer about 15 seconds to decide if they like a home. You can dramatically improve your chances of getting past that 15 seconds by removing any and all clutter. The buyers’ definition of clutter is anything they see that doesn’t relate to them.
Every home has its target market. Stage the home to portray that lifestyle- for a family, set up a game in the living room; empty-nesters, a cocktail tray. An empty room is immediately friendlier with baby shoes and a crib purchased from a thrift store.
The kitchen is extremely important. Replace all countertop appliances, which suggest work, with a bowl of fresh fruit or flowers.
In the master bedroom the bed is the focal point. Try putting a plush duvet and soft decorative pillows with an appealing breakfast tray on the bed. A luxurious fabric placed over a corner table with candles will convey a sense of romance by invoking the feel of a resort. This continues into the master bathroom by removing all items that speak of daily humdrum routines: toothpaste, hairspray, used soap, etc. Feature thick towels that coordinate with the bed coverings, expensive-looking soap and a vase with fresh flowers.
Most important, create a memory for house hunters. After seeing several homes at the end of the day, you want them to say, “Remember the home that had the china and silver set up in the dining room?”
The idea is for buyers to feel this home has been loved and well maintained.
I keep hearing it is easy and cost effective to sell my own home
Many people think there’s nothing to selling their home. In some cases this might be true, but for the average homeowner it usually isn’t the case. Most homeowners are not tuned into the trends and fluctuations of the real estate market or aware of the steps necessary to maximize profits on the sale of their home. Before you list with a real estate agent or REALTOR® you should be informed as much as possible so you can make the absolute best business decisions.
Why Use A REALTOR®?
REALTORS® are professional real estate experts that subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. Your real estate agent or REALTOR® should be able to give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
Your Price vs. Market Price
The selling process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. One of the most common problem homeowners have when selling their home by themselves is overpricing. Many people who sell their home make a price without any facts other than what they paid for the home, how much they put in to the home and how much equity they are looking to receive from selling their home.
An astronomical price over the area price could deter potential home buyers.
So how can you tell what my home is actually worth? As mentioned before, your REALTOR® should be able to help you determine the selling price for your home. However an appraisal, usually paid for by the buyer, will tell you what your home is worth. Some of the things an appraiser use to determine your home’s worth are the location of the home, the proximity to desirable schools and other public facilities, the size of the lot, the size and condition and recent sales prices of comparable properties, among other factors.
Marketing Your Home
The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the sale-ability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your agent acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
Advertising is part of marketing. The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. For example, in some areas, newspaper advertising generates phone calls to the real estate office but statistically has minimum effectiveness in selling a specific property. Overexposure of a property in any media may give a buyer the impression the property is distressed or the seller is desperate. Your real estate agent will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The National Association of REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.
Another way to market and promote your home is to hold open houses. But many real estate professionals believe unless open houses are particularly well- attended in your neighborhood they aren’t that successful.
Getting the House Ready
A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well-maintained. Well-polished houses appeal to more buyers and in most cases sell faster and at higher prices. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is maintained, what they can’t see has probably also been maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider how much should you spend, exterior and curb appeal and preparing the interior.
How much should you spend?
In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive “polishes” and “touch-ups” to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.
Maximizing exterior and curb appeal
Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal. Remember, making a good first impression can mean the difference between receiving serious offers for your home or being subjected to months of lookie- loos dropping by but never buying. The following are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal:
Your Home is Ready to Show
After your home is prepared to show, your agent will probably find a tactful way to suggest that you not be present while the house is being shown to prospective buyers. This is done because your presence will inhibit their actions and conversations. They won’t feel free to open closets and cabinets, test out the plumbing, and discuss their observations objectively as they walk through. It goes without saying that your children and pets should not be on the premises either.
Accepting an Offer
This might sound funny, but the highest offer is not always the best offer. If you prefer a lower-priced offer, perhaps with a better qualified buyer or more attractive terms, you can accept that offer instead. Or you can give counteroffers to one or more of the buyers. Caution: If you reject a full-priced offer, you may owe your agent a full commission even if you don’t sell your home.
Your home is in escrow, and the buyer has scheduled a home inspection. Should you be worried about what the inspector might find? The answer depends, of course, on the condition of your home and how well you’ve maintained its major components over the years. Regardless of what the inspector may uncover, however, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about the actual home inspection.
The Counter Offer
There’s a lot to consider before you sign a real estate purchase agreement. If the terms and conditions of the deal aren’t acceptable, you might want to pause and think twice, even if the purchase price is more than satisfactory. After all, the price will be moot if the transaction never closes.
The typical residential real estate purchase contract is complicated, densely written and packed with legal jargon, but don’t use that fact as an excuse for not reading the entire contract. Take your time and read slowly. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Be flexible and willing to negotiate.
Will remodeling my home translate into higher resale value?
All of the DIY (Do It Yourself) shows transform boring and outdated homes to modern, contemporary and appealing homes right before your eyes. The one thing you must keep in mind is that just because you think your remodeling looks good and should add value doesn’t mean it will.
The good news is, for the second year in a row the Cost vs Value survey data by Hanley Woods shows the cost-value ratio is up to 66.1%. This means that if you spent $1,000 on home upgrades on average you would recoup about $661 in resale value. The top five gainers along the front-range and mountain communities in Colorado for 2014 are:
While three of the five biggest gainers can be very costly, starting with a few affordable DIY-friendly home improvement projects can pay off and make buyers take notice:
Improve landscaping. When it comes to curb appeal, your landscaping can pack a powerful punch, for better or worse. While many people focus their improvement dollars indoors, don’t overlook that first impression that strikes a buyer before they even get out of the car. And you don’t need a green thumb to reap rewards. Simply maintaining a freshly mowed lawn, removing dead plants and branches and adding colorful annual flowers or shrubbery can add 7 to 15% to your home’s value, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Upgrade lighting. While you may have tolerated your dated dining room chandelier, buyers may not be so forgiving. Switching out light fixtures for more updated styles is a low-cost, low-commitment home upgrade. Under-cabinet lighting is another quick-fix. Many home improvement stores now offer easy to install plug-in lights that deliver the look of a high-end custom kitchen, and don’t require electrical work. If you do update lighting that requires wiring, make sure you work with a licensed professional to ensure they’re safely installed.
Give your kitchen cabinets and countertops a facelift. Buyers will always pay special attention to the kitchen and tend to be critical of outdated cabinets and countertops. While installing new cabinets can be expensive, you can easily rehab existing cabinets and countertops that are in otherwise good condition. Refinish the doors, drawers and cabinet fronts with a fresh coat of paint, stain or a veneer, and install new pulls that match the finish of other kitchen fixtures. To create the feel of a modern, functional kitchen, consider retrofitting your current cabinets with pull-out drawers, organizers, and retractable trash cans.
Give your bathroom a facelift. The bathroom is another area of your house that most people spend a lot of time. Know what buyers are looking for in today’s market. Do they prefer a walk-in shower versus a tub? Replace the linoleum tile the house came with, replace outdated fixtures etc…
Replace flooring. Flooring is often a cosmetic feature that can make or break a sale. Flooring, like worn-out carpet or stained tiles, can be a turn-off to buyers that see the update as a major project and barrier to a “move-in-ready” home. The promise of a future project is enough to chase away many of today’s “move-in ready” buyers. But what’s underfoot is also relatively easy to remedy. Hardwood flooring is a safe, classic and durable choice. For DIYers looking to save on costs, try easy-to-install engineered wood flooring.
The resale value of your remodeling projects lies in the eye of potential buyers. Upgrading finishes may make a house easier to sell, but it may not affect the sale price as much. Do your research first and ask your REALTOR® based on their experience what remodeling projects they have seen make a difference in pricing a home and what has been most appealing to prospective homebuyers. Then determine if remodeling your home or specific areas in your home is worth the cost in potential value.
How can I make moving as easy as possible?
Moving can be one of the most stressful events in your life, which is where a strong and trusting partnership can make a big difference. Here are a few helpful moving tips to share with your clients:
Contact a reputable moving company six to eight weeks before moving day to have an agent visually survey the home and prepare an estimate. This is a great time to make a home inventory list and work with your preferred REALTOR® on de-cluttering and turning your house into a show home.
Six weeks before the move is the best time to get your records in order by completing change of address forms; obtaining copies of medical records to forward to new providers; and obtaining school records, pet records, legal and any other financial documents needed for the move. Focus on sanity and family by visiting some of the places that hold happy memories, arranging going away parties and making family travel plans for the move.
At the four week mark it’s time to get packing! If you’re packing yourself, stock up on moving boxes and packing materials. If you need special transport for your pet, it’s wise to check referrals and make arrangements with plenty of advance notice.
One to two weeks before the move is the time to contact all utility, membership and service companies to cancel or transfer service. At this time a reputable moving company will contact you to review your move arrangements. Now is the time to decide what to do with houseplants, refill prescriptions and make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
When you’re days away the excitement should be setting in and there are only a few last minute things to take care of. Pack an overnight kit with essential supplies including snacks, clothing, toiletries, scissors, tape, first aid kit, and medications.
When moving day arrives be available to answer any questions your mover may have and do not leave until they are finished and you’ve had a change to take a final look around.