Sellers: How to give your home Curb Appeal


Selling a home in the cold, dreary winter months may not be ideal but there’s still plenty you can do to get a home to standout.

“Buyers out looking at homes in December or January are, as a group, quite serious about buying,” Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois, told RISMedia. “Therefore, sellers tend to benefit because each showing is more productive, and fewer showings are needed to sell the property.”

RE/MAX agents offer some of the following tips when selling a home in winter in a recent article at RISMedia.

Turn on the lights: Counter winter’s cloudy and short days by turning on all of the lights in a home for each showing. “Also, it’s a great idea to keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled,” says Marlene Granacki of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago. “People are always driving past the house, and keeping it lighted makes it look happy and welcoming.”

Have a place for shoes: Prospective buyers may arrive at the front door with shoes coated in snow or salt. “Make it easy for buyers to deal with their shoes when they arrive,” says Barbara Hibnick of RE/MAX Showcase, Long Grove, Ill. “Put a festive area rug at the front door for a great first impression and so visitors can wipe their feet. Have slippers or disposable booties available, along with a bench or chair, if there is room for one, where a visitor can sit and easily remove or put on their boots.”

Watch for odors: Homes can get stuffy in the winter. “Pet odors can be especially worrisome in winter,” says Mike Mondello of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong, and I recommend that in winter sellers clean more often.”

Don’t make it too toasty: “Don’t blast buyers with hot air,” the RISMedia article notes. Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees during your showings (although keep in mind that a comfortable temperature for your thermostat can vary form house to house.) Potential buyers will most likely be wearing their winter coats when they tour the house so no reason to make them sweat.

Read more winter-selling tips.

Source: “10 Ways to Get the Best of Winter When Selling Your Home,” RISMedia (Dec. 1, 2011)

Read More:
Add Some Holiday Charm to Your Listings

7 Tips for Showing Property in the Dead of Winter

Many Home Owners in Denial About Price

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, July 20, 2011

 

 

More home owners — particularly those who bought their homes in 2007 or later — are overpricing their properties when trying to sell them, according to a new analysis from Zillow.Home owners who purchased their home in 2007 or later are overpricing their homes by an average of 14 percent, according to Zillow.

While sellers who purchased their home prior to the housing bubble also overprice their homes, they don’t overprice by as much, the study finds. For example, home sellers who bought their home prior to 2002 are pricing their homes on average about 11.6 percent above market value; those who bought between 2002 and 2006 are pricing their homes 9.3 percent over market value.

“Post-bubble buyers seem to believe they escaped the worst of the housing recession, as evidenced by how they price their homes today,” says Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “But 2006 was just the beginning of the housing recession, and it is continuing in earnest to this day. That means that even people who bought after the bubble burst need to break out the pencil and paper and do serious research into what has happened in their market since they first bought their home, whether it was four years ago or six months ago.”

In its analysis, Zillow compared the asking price of 1 million homes for sale to the home’s previous purchase price and factored in the home’s estimated current value.

Source: “Sellers Who Bought Post-Bubble Guilty of Overpricing Homes; More Likely to Base Asking Price on Original Price, Rather Than Current Market Conditions,” Zillow (July 14, 2011)

March 4, 2011  

 
Red Flags That Send Buyers Running
 

How you present a listing online and the words you choose to describe it may be turning off some buyers. Bankrate.com recently asked real estate professionals to weigh in on what listing red flags are turning off their buyers.

1. No photos. “One red flag in many buyers’ eyes is the lack of photos for a listing,” says Don Tepper with Long & Foster in Burke, Va. “There can be some legitimate reasons for few (or no) photos in a listing: The sellers want privacy, or they have valuables they don’t want in the photos. But many would-be buyers–rightly or wrongly–assume that there’s something wrong.” Tepper recommends about a dozen photos for listings and photos that match the home’s description and showcases its best features.

2. Outlandish claims. Referring to the listing as the best property on the market might not be a good idea, says Ziad Najm, a broker at Cedar Real Estate in Mission Viejo, Calif. “Some buyers may be turned off to begin with and some will inevitably be disappointed if the claim doesn’t live up to their expectations,” Najm says. Instead, Najm recommends focusing on adjectives that are flattering to the property but leave some room for interpretation.

3. Priced too low. You want to price the property competitively but pricing too low may make some buyers suspicious or attract unqualified buyers. “Typically, multiple buyers will be attracted to the low asking price and eventually the sales price will climb close to market value as competing offers bid up the price,” Najm says. “However, the strategy is not without risk in that some buyers will be alienated by a potential bidding war.”

4. Listing a property “as is” in the description. That’s not a deal breaker but when you see “as is” in a listing, buyers might be cautious, says Diane Conaway, a San Diego broker with RE/MAX United. Some buyers take the “as is” phrase as the “previous owners stole everything including the kitchen and bathrooms,” Conaway says. “Our contract states ‘as is’ anyway, but some agents restate that in the listing, which is a disservice to their sellers.”

Source: “Red flags: How to spoil a home description,” Bankrate.com (February 2011)

Read more:
No Cost: A Photogenic Listing

How you present a listing online and the words you choose to describe it may be turning off some buyers. Bankrate.com recently asked real estate professionals to weigh in on what listing red flags are turning off their buyers.

1. No photos. “One red flag in many buyers’ eyes is the lack of photos for a listing,” says Don Tepper with Long & Foster in Burke, Va. “There can be some legitimate reasons for few (or no) photos in a listing: The sellers want privacy, or they have valuables they don’t want in the photos. But many would-be buyers–rightly or wrongly–assume that there’s something wrong.” Tepper recommends about a dozen photos for listings and photos that match the home’s description and showcases its best features.

2. Outlandish claims. Referring to the listing as the best property on the market might not be a good idea, says Ziad Najm, a broker at Cedar Real Estate in Mission Viejo, Calif. “Some buyers may be turned off to begin with and some will inevitably be disappointed if the claim doesn’t live up to their expectations,” Najm says. Instead, Najm recommends focusing on adjectives that are flattering to the property but leave some room for interpretation.

3. Priced too low. You want to price the property competitively but pricing too low may make some buyers suspicious or attract unqualified buyers. “Typically, multiple buyers will be attracted to the low asking price and eventually the sales price will climb close to market value as competing offers bid up the price,” Najm says. “However, the strategy is not without risk in that some buyers will be alienated by a potential bidding war.”

4. Listing a property “as is” in the description. That’s not a deal breaker but when you see “as is” in a listing, buyers might be cautious, says Diane Conaway, a San Diego broker with RE/MAX United. Some buyers take the “as is” phrase as the “previous owners stole everything including the kitchen and bathrooms,” Conaway says. “Our contract states ‘as is’ anyway, but some agents restate that in the listing, which is a disservice to their sellers.”

Source: “Red flags: How to spoil a home description,” Bankrate.com (February 2011)

Read more:
No Cost: A Photogenic Listing

Watch Your Words in Listing Ads

The wording you choose in the ad for your listings is important if you want it to grab the right buyer attention.

A study by the University of Guelph in Ontario analyzed the wording of more than 20,000 Canadian home listings and found that a listing’s phrasing can influence a home’s sale price as well as the length of time it took for the home to sell.

For example, when the listing’s ad incorporated words like “beautiful” — rather than “move-in condition” — the sale price was influenced by 5 percent or more, as much as $15,000 on a $300,000 house.

Other words that reflected “curb appeal” or the attractiveness of the home, such as good neighborhood or excellent upkeep, also were found to help the property sell faster than homes that were described as “value” and “price,” the study found.

“There’s usually something that can be said in a positive way which will force a buyer reading an ad to see opportunities,” says Catherine Lindstadt, a licensed associate broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “It’s important to help a seller elaborate on their home’s assets with details and to give the buyer a visual.”

Instead of saying “spacious,” she prefers key words such as “open floor plan,” “vaulted,” or “high ceilings.”

A University of Texas at San Antonio study found in analyzing agents’ comments left on the Multiple Listing Service that comments that state facts about a home also are associated with increased selling prices.

“Buyers are attracted to amenities that can be verified–new roof, new carpeting, updated kitchen, beautiful landscaping, golf course community, lakefront, waterfront, gated community,” says Marie Montchal, a licensed associate broker and senior vice president of relocation and ancillary services at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty Relocation Center.

But beware of the word “new,” she says. “I know that ‘new kitchen,’ ‘new bath,’ ‘new roof’ and ‘new windows’ is inviting, but I have a guideline of two to three years, or ‘newer’ if it’s older than that,” she says.

Source: “Making ‘House for Sale’ SING: When Writing Your Ad, the Right Words Can Pay Off,” Newsday (Feb. 25, 2011)

Read More

8 Steps to Writing Effective Advertising Copy

Tips for Your Clients Who Garden

Garden improvements don’t have to dig your clients into a deep financial hole. Help them plant a lush yet dirt-cheap garden by passing along 10 tips for saving money in the garden now available in the June “ABCs of Landscaping” article package at the REALTOR® Content Resource. Here are just two of the tips now available on gardening on a budget:

1. Understand your land. Before shelling out money for new plants, look at what has thrived and what has died in your garden over time. If you’re new to the area, ask neighbors with similar growing conditions what has worked for them.

Keep in mind that even plants appropriate for your growing zone might not work in your personal patch, depending on the soil composition, sunlight patterns, microclimate, pests, and available water. Your local cooperative extension service can analyze your soil and recommend amendments and suitable plantings.

2. Avoid invasives. No matter how big your hurry to see your garden fill in, be wary of a plant billed as a “fast grower” or “aggressive.” Often that’s code for an invasive species—a non-native plant that makes its way into the landscape and crowds out the locals by stealing their nutrients, light, and water.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a list of invasives, which include various ivies, grasses, weeds, vines, self-seeding varieties of bushes and shrubs, even seemingly innocuous herbs like mint. Your county extension service can steer you toward the species best suited to your plot. Tip: If you love growing mint in the garden, contain it in a pot.

Also available in the June “ABCs of Landscaping” article package now available at the REALTOR® Content Resource are tips on saving money with an edible garden, using a calendar for lawn maintenance, landscaping for curb appeal, and seven gardening mistakes to avoid.

 

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Need Help Climbing Out of That Clutter?

 

Every day I learn something new from the folks I follow on Twitter. Today I learned that Nov. 15 is National Declutter Day. Who knew?

clutter_iStock_000000560146XSmall

The occasion, which was started last year by Kijiji.com (@KijijiUS), eBay’s free online classifieds site, is a great way to get sellers motivated to prepare their home for showings.

Plus, we could all use a little decluttering in our lives, couldn’t we?

In honor of the occasion, I’ve scoured the Internet for some resources you can pass on to your clients. What I’ve come up with are three handy Web sites and one clutter-busting San Carlos, Calif.-based business that can clear out a room in minutes. Intrigued? Read on.

Unclutterer.com

This Web site is all about organization, plain and simple. Organizing your life; organizing your home; organizing your office. The Washington, D.C.–based author Erin Doland is a recovering pack-rat who once “held on to objects like her third grade math assignments and every note she passed in high school.” Her book Unclutter Your Life in One Week, which went on sale this week, is a testament to her reformed, uncluttered lifestyle, and a helpful tool for anyone looking to declutter their home.

Jdorganizer.blogspot.com

Jeri Dansky of Half Moon Bay, Calif., has been a professional organizer for seven years and her blog is filled with fun, whimsical, and aesthetically pleasing ideas that are also all about decluttering. If you are looking for great storage ideas, book recommendations, and organizing trends you’ve never thought of, check out her site.

Zenhabits.net

Zen Habits is a site that takes decluttering to the next level. Author Leo Babauta describes it as “finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.” Some of the best nuggets of advice I found on this site are the 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life and 18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess. But all the posts were inspiring with the mantra that less is not only more, less is also healthy.

Junk King

Childhood friends, Mike Andreacchi and Brian Reardon met on the soccer field at the age of 9. Little did they know that roughly 20 years later they’d be starting a business together. In 2005, Andreacchi and Reardon founded Junk King in the San Francisco Bay area. The basic premise is this: You have stuff you don’t want, and they can take care of it for you.

TruckJunk King will collect and either recycle or dispose of basically all non-hazardous “junk” from homes and businesses. We’re talking stuff like furniture, wood, appliances, concrete, construction and building materials, yard refuse, and plain old garbage. No paints or solvents allowed, though.

“We help prepare the home to put back on the market,” Reardon says, tackling jobs like attics, kitchen cabinets, garages, and yards. “And if the owners or the REALTOR® can’t afford to pay for our service up front, we’ll wait to collect after the property has gone through escrow. It’s a win-win.”

Junk King prices by volume, and takes jobs that range from one item up to multiple truckloads. Special rates are offered to real estate practitioners.

What started out as one truck out of their garage has grown into a fleet of six trucks with 15 employees, which saves many items from ending up in a landfill, says Andreacchi.

Junk King Recycling Facts:

  • Junk King recycles up to 60 percent of the materials it picks up, and estimates that more than 908 tons have been saved from landfills.
  • Since January 2009, Junk King has recycled approximately 450,000 pounds, or 225 tons, of scrap metal.
  • In total, Junk King has collected 2,450,000 pounds of copper, aluminum, wiring, and other metals; 840,000 pounds of plastic, paper, and recyclables; 590,000 pounds of computer equipment; and 685,000 pounds of miscellaneous junk.

Andreacchi and Reardon are beginning to franchise their business, which now consists of three corporate-owned locations and nine franchisee-owned covering the San Francisco Bay area and, starting in January, Atlanta. Looking to the future, Andreacchi and Reardon hope to see Junk King grow into a nationwide service.

“We want to be the Coca-Cola of the junk business,” Reardon says.

Solve Design Issues On-the-Go with 4 iPhone Apps

By Erica Christoffer, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

Help clients see the design potential in a living space instantly. Change the dining room color from lemon yellow to plum purple — before painting. Rearrange new furniture — before moving day. Get staging tips, watch design videos, and add curb appeal with these four iPhone apps.

Home Interior Layout Designer Home Interior Layout Designer – Mark On Call

M.O.C. Interior Designer, LLC

$2.99

Customize the layout of a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and more with the Home Interior Layout Designer app. Created by interior designer Mark Lewison, “Mark On Call,” and based on his book, “What Would You Do With This Room,” this app even lets you take pictures of actual décor and architectural finishes, such as carpet, flooring, rugs, etc., and add them as a “skin” to a surface in your virtual design plan. Use the pallet of colors, patters, fabrics, furnishings, wood, and stone options to explore the design potential of a room. The app also offers a measuring tool, design advice, sharing of designs between app users, and the ability to make a shopping list for all your customized home purchases.

hgtv appHGTV’s Staging and Property

Scripps Networks, LLC

Free

This app offers the “best of” from HGTV, including real estate videos, pictures, tips, and advice. Watch clips of HGTV shows “Curb Appeal,” “Designed to Sell,” and more. Getting ready for an open house? Look up tips and tutorials on staging and design for better buyer appeal. And see before and after photo slideshows of room transformations. Read more

Looking to Step Up a Condo’s Curb Appeal? Start With the Front Door!

front door curb appeal

In “5 Ways to Add Condo Curb Appeal,” Debbie Rumsey with Century 21 Sea Coast in Encinitas, Calif. suggests sprucing up the front door to attract would-be buyers. Here are a few more tips for getting that condo door looking great for showings:

Pay attention to the details, such as removing cobwebs from the front door light fixture, says Maureen Bray from Portland-based Room Solutions Staging. If the door has a window, don’t forget to wash it inside and out. Curb appeal does not stop at the front door, she says. If the condo/townhome has a garage, make sure that door is clean and in good, working condition.

Consider the plethora of front door looks you can create by upgrading exterior door hardware, paint/stain color, exterior light fixtures, and unit numbers (if allowed by the HOA), says Kimo Stowell a real estate merchandiser with JDS Consulting: Hawaii Home Staging and Decor Design in Oahu, Hawaii. “Stoop accessories can create a virtual endless combination of eye catching details to your condo front door,” Stowell says.

Don’t forget to address scuff marks from furniture moving and usual wear, says Elizabeth Bolton with Coldwell Banker in Cambridge, Mass.

Susan Uram, brand manager of Olympic Exterior Stains says that exterior stains are designed to absorb into the wood and allow the natural beauty of the wood to show. Condos and townhomes with outdoor facing entrances need to be protected from the elements, Uram says, and need added protection from scratching and every day wear and tear.

If a “furniture-like” finish that shows off the grain (e.g. an oak door) is desired, Uram suggests applying an interior stain followed by an exterior durable varnish. But if you’re looking to repaint the front door white or another solid color, an exterior solid color stain would work as well as an exterior paint, say Uram, who suggests the Olympic Wood Protector Solid Color Stain (available at Lowe’s in more than 140 colors). For a rustic finish, Uram recommends one thin coat of a semi-transparent exterior stain, which also good for decks, fences and siding.

‘Speed Decorating’ Quickly Improves Property

Anyone planning to sell a home might be advised to read Jill Vegas’ Speed Decorating.” Vegas explains how to redecorate at minimum cost and maximum speed.

“Speed decorating,” she says, “is not about calling in contractors; it’s about looking at a room and thinking about what you can do in a couple of hours, a week, to make it better.”

Vegas offers these tips for anyone who needs to do a little high impact, low cost upgrading:

  • Clear out the clutter
  • Clean and repaint
  • Define the function of each room and then place furniture to accentuate that purpose
  • Improve the lighting, adding bright light to work areas and soft light to bed and dining rooms
  • Use art and accessories to add drama and personality

Remodelers Report Signs of Market Improvement

 

remodelSome home owners are starting to take on improvement projects they previously pushed off due to financial constraints.

For the third straight quarter, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) reported slight increases in its Remodeling Market Index (RMI). Although still far from ideal, NAHB chief economist David Croew said that markets are no longer deteriorating to the levels they were earlier this year.

The RMI is calculated through the use of member surveys that ask remodelers to describe the current market conditions and future expectations. Last month, NAHB released the most recent RMI, which rose from 34.2 to 38.7 from the previous quarter.

“Some remodelers are receiving more calls for bids, but it is still extremely difficult to close a sale,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Greg Miedema in a statement. The index remains below the break-even point of 50, and has been since the last quarter of 2005.

Many home owners are unable to secure a home equity loan or other lines of credit, which is holding up remodeling projects, Miedeman said.

But signs of continued improvement are on the horizon with the report showing a rise in calls for bids from 38.8 to 46.5, appointments for proposals growing from 40.3 to 43.5, and the amount of work committed for the next three months up from 23.3 to 27.5. The backlog of remodeling jobs also climbed from 34.4 to 37.2.

For more information, visit: www.nahb.org/remodel

Picture It: Create a Character to Guide Your Design

 

testNow more than ever, model homes are key sales tools for developers. In the current housing market crisis, people are weighing every factor in their decision on buying a home.

Beyond the typical questions on the quality of the finishes, school districts, and mortgage rates, those who are looking to spend their life savings on a place are looking for deeper psychological reasons to sign on the dotted line.

Does this home speak to me? Can I imagine my lifestyle being a fit here?

That’s why my firm spends so much time getting to know the prospective audience for which we design model homes. We design for specific people, often taking the time to create fictitious characters such as “John the Wall Streeter,” who lets his girlfriend decorate his place. Read more

Biggest Losers: 20 Home Design Features That Send Buyers Running

 

By Barbara Ballinger, Architecture Coach columnist and guest blogger

ugly-wallpaperDesign glitches draw attention away from a home’s best features. Don’t let out-of-date fixtures and unappealing decor cost you a sale. While some buyers may actually appreciate “vintage” features, home and design experts say these 20 features almost always serve as a turnoff.

1. Dated and excessively bold or dark paint and tile colors, such as “Pepto Bismol” pink, avocado green, deep plum, or jet black. “Dark can be cool, but it has to be a color that’s popular today,” says sales associate Jennifer Ames, crs®, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago.

2. Lacquered or high-gloss painted walls that are expensive to repaint and show all defects. Likewise, faux- and sponge-painted walls can be so passe.

3. Painted trim that’s very dark-and costly to remove.

4. Wallpaper, which is a lot of work (and potentially expensive) to remove. Most disliked: Dated flowered or striped patterns. Read more

 

The Visual Nature of the Internet Has Home Owners More Attuned to Aesthetics

Two professions greatly benefiting from the Internet’s ability to help connect people visually are interior designers and home stagers.

First, let’s clarify: Interior design and home staging are two very distinct industries. As Jennie Norris, president of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, points out: “Staging is all about depersonalizing a house and decorating and interior design are about personalizing a house.”

When home stagers work with a seller, they are considering elements that appeal to a broad audience. “It’s not about the seller at all. It is about presenting a product to the market (the house) and ensuring it is appealing to the buyer,” says Norris.

Home owners, staging, and the InternetBoth trades use design theories to accomplish different goals. But they do share the common bond of visualizing what a home could be – something home owners have grown attuned to with online accessibility and the rise of reality television shows.

“The world, in some ways because of the Internet, has gotten smaller and smaller,” says staging expert Barb Schwarz. “People are very educated and will do their research. The public is pretty darn smart when it comes to selling their home.”

Read more

Should Real Estate Pros and Stagers Join Forces?

In an effort to form a more perfect union between real estate practitioners, home stagers, and sellers, Matt Stigliano with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio is proposing a new business model. In his ActiveRain blog post, he suggests that practitioners and stagers pair up and charge a joint commission rate to offer their combined services to a seller.

This partnership, Stigliano says, would alleviate seller apprehension about paying for staging costs upfront. The commission would be higher, but it could be approached as a “no money down” option to have a team of professionals working to sell the home.

“The commission is a risk-based pay structure,” Stigliano says. “Maybe with a commission, the stagers would be willing to take that risk.”

Staged Room ExampleThe stager would be present at the listing presentation to share their ideas for the home. Instead of staging being a one-time service, having a commission may motivate a staging pro to come back and check on the home – even modify their initial decor ideas until the house is sold.

“It would create a team between the agent, stager, and seller,” Stigliano said. “Sellers like the idea [of staging], and they know it helps – maybe this is the trick to getting them over the cost hump.”

Stigliano has yet to try this business model himself, but says he would if he found a stager who is willing.

“It’s frustrating to me because I have homes I would love to have staged, but the sellers don’t have the cash,” says Stigliano.

In less than 24 hours, Stigliano had nearly 100 comments on his blog post, with opinions varying greatly on the topic. Even if his idea doesn’t come to fruition, Stigliano says it’s worth getting people talking and thinking of ideas outside the box.

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