Tag Archives: Advice

Selling a House in Sapphire Can Take a little ‘Plastic Surgery’

Suppose you finally came to an important decision—that this fall is going to be the right time for selling your Sapphire house. If you had been biding your time, watching other Sapphire houses being listed and closed throughout the summer, you may also have been getting a head start on some major maintenance or remodeling projects that you knew would be needed once you put your own place up for sale.

You may even have cleared away some extraneous furniture or décor items that had accumulated through the years, and made sure the landscaping was in good trim. If you had done those things—de-cluttered, spruced up, cleared the decks, etc.—you would have been just about ready to contact an agent to get the show on the road…

But what if even all the prep work nonetheless left you with the feeling that the old place still wasn’t quite ready. What if something still seemed to be missing: something you couldn’t quite put your finger on, but something that you just knew was needed to pep up the showings that would soon be taking place.

Selling a house to yield its maximum value can be more art than science. One of the skills that’s quite important is being able to envision what prospective buyers see. Especially with older properties, selling a house that to you seems filled with comforting familiarity might seem worn out (or just plain used) to others. Although many prospects do prefer older neighborhoods over newer ones, most folks also have a contradictory impulse: they appreciate the allure of the new. They may hanker for the mature landscaping and established community structures of older neighborhoods, yet simultaneously would prefer a place that seems freshly renewed.

Fortunately, taking a few steps to make an older property ‘new again’ needn’t be hugely expensive:

  • Cabinets – It’s relatively easy to put a fresh face on worn cabinet doors and drawers to rejuvenate a tired-looking kitchen. You can find a wide range of reasonably priced panels that fit many cabinets. Sometimes the same effect can be achieved by re-staining—or simply changing the cabinetry hardware (go for stainless or brushed nickel to achieve the look the majority of today’s Sapphire buyers prefer).
  • Appliances – Full kitchen remodels can be more expensive than is really practical, but sometimes much of the same effect can be achieved by simply replacing an old range, oven, dishwasher or refrigerator. Re-facing appliances that are perfectly serviceable (especially stainless surfaces that can’t be rescued) is another budget-wise option.
  • Tired-looking sinks and fixtures can all but ‘sink’ the prospects of selling your Sapphire house. Sometimes the addition of stylish faucets and some fresh caulking can transform a kitchen or laundry room.

As you close in on the time for selling your Sapphire house, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can help you see what still needs to be done—or, importantly, what doesn’t! It’s a very good reason to give me a call!

Sapphire Homeowners Easily Conquer Bad Home Habits

8-27-home maintenanceSapphire homeowners take note:

Neglecting your filters!

That was only one of many “bad home habits” blogger Annie Stevens admitted to in last week’s confessional outpouring on the Aussie web site Domain. “Bad home habits” may not be a phrase Sapphire homeowners are accustomed to thinking about, but it’s an idea worth mulling—especially if selling your Sapphire home is something that could be in your immediate (or even middling) future.

In its mildest form, a Stevens bad home habit would be one that needs to be straightened out before John and Jane Q. Public come to look your house over after it’s listed. In the extreme, a bad home habit can lead to escalating maintenance issues. Neglecting your filters is one of those.

Filters you neglect can be the thin, washable, plastic-and-foam panels you slide in and out of your window air conditioner. If you have one, you are among the many Sapphire homeowners who was grateful to have it last week. Filters you neglect can also be one of the larger, paper-foil-and-mesh replaceable thingies that you are supposed to replace in the workings of your central air unit. They can also be the cottony stuff you wad into your tropical fish aquarium, but that’s not the kind that’s a big homeowner concern. That one is strictly between you and the fish.

In all but that last example, neglecting your filters can lead to an air circulation problem, or even to a burnt-out blower motor. This bad home habit can be blamed on the location of the filters. Being out of sight, it’s hard to remember they are even in there, much less that they require your tender ministration.

Another of blogger Stevens’ bad home habits is “buying exercise equipment you will never use.” It’s easy to see why this is a bad budgeting habit, but not really a bad home habit. After all, if you turn the garage into a home gym, it could be a selling point when you’re ready to sell. And if you don’t ever use the exercise equipment, it will be appealingly shiny and new (even if you are more out of shape than you want to be). Potential home buyers won’t care about that.

Stevens actually described eight bad home habits, but some of them don’t really apply to Sapphire homeowners (she writes from Australia). For instance, leaving half-drunk cups of tea around the place is not a common Sapphire homeowner failing. And sleeping with your phone is more of a bad lifestyle habit, since constantly checking an iPhone in the middle of the night disrupts a normal sleep cycle.

Much more applicable is Bad Home Habit #6: letting dirt build up on the things you forget to clean. It’s easy to forget to clean areas and things that are in dim, out-of-the-way corners, but when it comes to getting your home into shape for open houses and showings, it’s amazing how prospective buyers somehow seem to make a beeline for them. Fortunately, a few serious deep cleaning sessions will cure any vestige of bad home habit #6.

It’s a Murphy’s Law kind of rule that any neglected maintenance feature will tend to go completely kaput just when you least want it to. As you get your home ready to put on the Sapphire market, that’s why catching it in advance is definitely to your advantage. Also to your advantage: giving me a timely call!

Gloomy Weather Needn’t Dampen Highlands Home for Sale Prep

4-15-weatherYou’ve decided that right now is the perfect time to put up your Highlands home for sale; you’re charged with energy and determination; you’re ready to get going—and then…suddenly, the spring weather turns foul. It’s an all-too-common frustration, from mud season sieges in Northeastern Maine to kite-busting windstorms in the far Southwest, the kind of perfection “spring days” brings to mind isn’t always there when you want it to be.

Some days (even some weeks) are like that—often, when you’re trying to ready your Highlands home for sale. Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate. You’re stuck indoors.

Rather than sitting and stewing over all the time lost from perfecting the garden or touching up those few exterior blemishes that need a spot of paint or two, this is one situation that’s easily reversed. In fact, there is such a lot that can be accomplished indoors, with a little mental jujitsu, you should even be able to talk yourself into considering a bad weather break as an opportunity.

There are dozens of indoor activities you can attend to. Here are 3 C’s for examples:

Clutter! Let’s face it, for a home for sale, there’s too much stuff, everywhere. No, all that dust-catching memorabilia doesn’t really serve to create a more charming, homey atmosphere. It actually creates the sense that this home for sale belongs to someone else. The goal is to display a dwelling primed and waiting for the buyer’s décor ideas to take hold—and clutter in the form of personal possessions just obscures the issue. Box it, store it—or even prepare it for later eBay sale. Just do get it out of sight!

Clean! There’s the degree of ‘clean’ that we live in every day, and that’s perfectly fine for busy households and regular family life. Then there’s the kind of ‘clean’ that can help to turn a home for sale into a home that’s under contract. Deep cleaning is an art—and it may even take a professional to accomplish. In most cases, it just takes a little more time and determination than day-to-day housework can achieve. A stormy day is perfect for a serious rented-rug-cleaner session, or some toothbrush-aided baseboard scrubbing. Granted, foul weather is not conducive to any heroic window washing…for that, wait ‘till the skies clear.

Clear! The furniture arrangement that’s evolved over time may be a layout that makes daily Highlands living comfortable and convenient is frequently not the layout most conducive to moving a home for sale as quickly as possible. Less is often more because it opens sight lines and gives the feeling of roominess. Clearing rooms of redundant tables, chairs—even sofas—is an indoor activity with results that become instantly gratifying.

Spates of unpredictable Highlands weather don’t really prove much of an impediment to preparing a Highlands home for sale. If you’re close to making that decision, I hope you’ll consider giving me a call to discuss marketing directions. The weather’s perfect!

If History Plays Hob with a Sapphire House for Sale

3-18-historyWould you buy a house where someone died? Would it make a difference if the death was peaceful or…otherwise?

You might never have considered such questions, but the answers can become a serious issue for a Sapphire house for sale—especially if it has a history that could be right out of a CSI episode. And what if you are the owner of a Sapphire house for sale with this kind of issue? It may be labeled as stigmatized—the unpleasant term that can attach to a house for sale which buyers or tenants may shun for reasons unrelated to its physical condition.
It’s a good thing that the list of potentially disturbing events isn’t a long one: death; murder; suicide; scary illness; being haunted (rather, the belief that it’s haunted—let’s not get into that discussion!). An owner might have known of a sketchy history when he or she purchased the property, or perhaps found out later on. The information may not have made a difference before, but it could impact the number of prospects who will make offers on a house for sale—in Sapphire (or anywhere, for that matter). What to do?

Selling for the Right Price

What of happenings that are simply gruesome? Another property in California’s Bay Area had a grisly past involving drugs, murder and other heinous activities. This was a stylish home in an affluent neighborhood which sat empty while other comparable homes for sale came and went. Then one day a young businesswoman made an offer well below the asking price. The bank that owned the property had a list price of $335,000, already below values in the area. After negotiation, the buyer bought the home for $261,000. She saw past the horrific story to the potential that it offered to someone not affected by the drama of days gone by. And probably counted on the fact that her remodeling efforts—plus the many years she planned on living there—would make future buyers much less likely to worry about what would gradually turn into a distant past.

Telling the Right Story

One otherwise quaint home in a western small town was widely reputed to host paranormal activity. The stories of what previous owners had faced from ghosts of the past were widespread enough that even non-believers might think twice about taking it on. For some properties, it is just a matter of putting the right spin on the story. Events that took place decades ago often bring allure to a property—while more recent activities may cause buyers to hesitate. The Realtor® took the ‘problem’ head-on by making the most of it, figuring that a good ghost story could add to the appeal if it was marketed correctly. It sold at a premium.

The takeaway: if you have a Sapphire house for sale that’s connected to a sad, tragic or paranormal history, don’t assume the worst. Some ‘stigmas’ may mean a sale takes more careful handling (but that’s just one more reason why a call to my office is a good first step).

With the right story and the right price, you’re pretty certain to find the right buyer—one who either overlooks the past, or is fascinated by it!

3 Key Ways You Can Help Your Lake Toxaway Real Estate Agent

2-13-agentIn the weeks before you decide which of our local real estate agents will represent you and your home once it goes on the market, you’re probably looking for a Lake Toxaway Realtor® with the qualities that make a great sales person: knowledgeability, directness, personality, trustworthiness. Likeability is always helpful, but it’s only one among many qualifications. This is a business decision, and an important one for you and your family.

Then, the instant you make your selection, the landscape changes completely! You are no longer on your own: you and your Lake Toxaway real estate agent are members of a team that’s ready to get to work on the project. You both want your home on and off the market as quickly as possible, so the smoother the workflow with your real estate agent goes, the better.

Your real estate agent will already be hard at work assembling the marketing program that will attract prospects from near and far, but you can be helpful even with that effort. It’s the first of three key ideas that are often pointed to as key contributions owners can make:

Help your agent with unique selling points

What makes your home different from all the others that will be listed for sale? Every property has unique selling points that don’t fit into the standard check boxes, so let your agent know. Qualified agents are already thoroughly familiar with Lake Toxaway’s broad attractions, but you’ve experienced specific advantages to living in this home, in this neighborhood. Each selling point is another facet that could fire a buyer’s imagination. Having a rich store of real life anecdotes to draw upon will strengthen your agent’s ability to put your home in the limelight.

Keep it cozy without clutter

Most times, an owner is still living at home, so your Lake Toxaway real estate agent will be working with what you have available when it comes to furniture and home décor. It’s a strongpoint when prospective buyers are able to project themselves into being the comfortable homeowners. If they’re prevented from envisioning your home as their own, they’ll be out the door and onto the next! Clearing away personal items helps with that—and keeping the clutter level low increases the sense of spaciousness. If buyers see an overstuffed closet, they’ll sense a house that lacks storage space. If kitchen counters are cluttered, they’ll think the space is too small.

Be flexible with your schedule

Your real estate agent lists your house, makes sure to market it in all the many venues available, arranges open houses and showings, and spreads the word throughout the industry. During this part of the process, you help greatly by being as flexible as possible when it comes to showings. Sometimes potential buyers may seem to be placing insensitive scheduling burdens on the team—but as any serious-minded house hunter can tell you, they have their own scheduling issues, too!
Selling a home is a team effort, for sure; one you can decide to launch with a simple phone call to me at my office!

Kitchen Tweaks Broaden Sapphire Homes’ Market Appeal

SONY DSCJust as the kitchen is a magnet for family activity, when a Sapphire home goes up for sale, it’s the one room guaranteed to get rapt attention at every showing. Older Sapphire homes can be at something of a disadvantage here, especially when structural design elements prohibit their being transformed into one of today’s popular airy open plan kitchens.

Perhaps you’ve already taken a paintbrush to your cabinets to give them a new look, or discovered the transformative power of inexpensive subway tile on a dingy backsplash. If your kitchen is still looking a bit uninspired, enhance it before the home showings start with a final inexpensive tweak or two.

Where empty wall space is present, you may be able to create additional storage space. Open shelving is a trendy look that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional. A blank wall can be transformed by installing rustic wooden or sleek metal shelving units…but with one proviso: open shelving does double duty as display space—and that’s no place for mismatched or over-the-hill china and glassware!

A little of the right kind of handiwork can go a long way toward adding some 21st Century features to an aging Sapphire home. Where an outlet is handy, transform a cabinet shelf into a docking station for smartphones and tablets. A small wall-mounted flat screen monitor can bring TV (or web video) to liven up the area. Hooks mounted near a back door can be made available for hanging backpacks, grocery bags, keys, or leashes. A bottom kitchen drawer can be transformed into a rollout pet feeding station.

No matter what else, it’s a plus whenever a kitchen space can clearly function as a gathering place as well as the meal preparation hub. It may be as simple as placing stools on one side of an island, adding a pub table and chairs, or transforming a neglected corner into a coffee station (those Keurigs make it a snap!)—giving your Sapphire home yet another spot for a family to congregate.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry reported that kitchens were the top remodeling project in last year. In fact, 82% of NARI members stated that kitchen remodels represent their primary work—and I think we can guess what the results for 2015 will be. It makes a good argument for putting in a little elbow grease and creativity to spruce up the kitchen before you put your Sapphire home up for sale.

You can also give me a call: I’m pleased to do a no-obligation walk-through for my feedback on how your listing should fare in today’s market!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: When to Publish Sapphire Listings

2-4-whentolistIt is a good bet that the first place the public will spot your house for sale will be the Sapphire listings. If 90% of those who actually do buy a home go to the web during their search (researchers at the National Association of Realtors® say so), they will either go directly to the Sapphire listings or find them through a Realtor’s site.

If you think like an advertising director, you might wonder when, exactly, the best time would be for your new listing’s premier? Is it in the dead of winter? Springtime? Summer? And is there a perfect day of the month, or (come to think of it) day of the week?

The NAR® has weighed in with some concrete answers. Well, actually, not really answers per se—more like information to help satisfy our curiosity. It turns out there really is no single best time for Sapphire listings to debut, for a couple of reasons; nonetheless, in case you’re curious (I was) about the findings, here they are:

The most popular home listing debut last year was Thursday, May 1, 2014. Second, April Fools’ Day. April and May were sprinkled liberally through the Top 25; but June, and March were all up there, too. But although the 20th was one of the top days of the month for listings launches (as well as the 24th through 30th), the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ranked often enough to tilt the overall results toward early in the month.

As for the most favored day of the week, there really wasn’t a clear winne­­r—though there were definitely a couple of losers. Saturday and Sunday were all but ignored as days anyone first listed their homes, possibly because most real estate professionals are out in the field most weekends. Launching listings is a job best performed at an office desk.

Closings—the days that home sales are signed and sealed—­­­had the same unpopular pair of days: weekend closings were predictably rare, as were Federal holidays. Two strange exceptions did pop up last year: Sunday, November 30, and Sunday, August 31. That has to be because of the natural inclination for people to pick the end of a month when they need to come up with a deadline. Often enough, we have to scramble to meet any deadline…if it happens to fall on a Sunday, too bad!

But although we have all this information about what the most common days to inaugurate a listing or finalize a home’s sale, that ­­really doesn’t answer what’s the best time to do either. After all, just because more people pick similar dates, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily advantageous. You might even argue that the best day to begin Sapphire listings would be the least popular one, since your listing would be more likely to stand out when it’s the newest. Lonely, but brave!

There is one good answer to when is the best time to list your home: it’s whenever you’re ready. There are plenty of prospective buyers at all times—and as has been well-documented, a lot of them start looking in the dead of winter, when outdoors activities are at a minimum. As for when is the best time to give me a call? Anytime!

Minding Basics: Super Bowl Clichés that Help Home Buyers

2-4-superbowlHighlands home buyers may not have been watching the Patriots’ squeaker victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl for the purpose of learning something about real estate, but at least one useful piece of wisdom did become evident: the enduring value of minding the fundamentals. Despite the harrowing last 20 seconds, when the power of Seattle seemed sure to win the day, New England had confidence that their team was steeped in the fundamentals. Elaborate plays or complicated strategies didn’t seem important.

In the world of real estate, too, Highlands home buyers also benefit once some basic elements are in place. They aren’t secret or trick plays, either—they’re quite straightforward and well known. But overlooking them makes for a flawed game plan:

  1. Establish the playing field. We learned from the subprime mortgage mess that it can be a mistake for home buyers to rely on anyone else—even lenders—to determine their ultimate bottom line. The amount home buyers can safely afford is a matter of sitting down and adding up all the monthly expenditures, being sure to include once- or twice-a-year expenses like auto insurance. Once home buyers have determined an affordable monthly mortgage payment, they know their target home’s price range.
  2. After determining how much house they can safely afford, the next fundamental is to secure pre-financing. Highlands home buyers who have taken the trouble to have a pre-approval in place demonstrate to lenders, sellers, and everyone involved that their game plan is one to be taken seriously. It’s an early step that sets home buyers up for success.
  3. With those basics in place, it’s just about time to start the all-important search for that next home. All home buyers need now is to put one more fundamental in place by teaming with an experienced Highlands real estate agent. Unearthing the most suitable home is a process that should involve identifying all eligible Highlands properties—and not wasting time on those that don’t measure up. Recruiting a knowledgeable local Realtor® is the most fundamentally sound way to efficiently comb Highlands’s relevant properties (and sometimes even a few that might not yet be listed!).

Most people haven’t had the benefit of real estate training, and yet the quality of the search for their next home will in many ways determine much of their family’s future well-being. I do my best to ensure that my clients benefit from a well-grounded game plan. I hope you’ll give me a call if you are preparing to search for your next home!

Seeing Highlands Showings the Way Prospective Buyers Do

1-28-prosbuyerGetting properties ready for open houses or other showings in Highlands takes a bit of determination—especially when it comes to paring down all the ‘stuff’ that has accumulated through the years. It’s a push-pull between I still use that every day! and this room still looks too crowded! You may update the paint, add some fresh landscaping, but it’s the emptying-out part that sometimes takes the most resolve.

So, after that’s all done, are you ready for showings?

Not quite.

Showings and open houses are a bit like concerts and plays. They’re presentations which (hopefully) result in an experience that is pleasurable. In order to make that happen, there have to be workers who prepare behind the scenes. When successful, their efforts are invisible—a “hit” show seems to progress by itself, effortlessly. Highlands showings and open houses have that in common with theatrical productions, and to be successful, one other thing has to be present: the focus should be on the audience, not the cast members or crew. For home showings, that means thinking about what the prospective buyer (the audience) will encounter as he or she walks from room to room.

Allowing yourself to imagine how someone not familiar with your house will experience it is an exercise that yields another useful side effect. It reminds you that showings and open houses are staged to invite strangers onto the property—and that should prompt a few additional precautions.

First, think about children. You can’t keep Lookie-loos from showing up occasionally, but Highlands prospects who bring their children usually mean business. You should ensure that your home is free of potential child hazards before showings. Just as you would child-proof for family member visits, eliminate unnecessarily long extension cords, tempting (and sharp) fireplace pokers, knickknacks small enough to be choking hazards (should have packed them up, anyway!) and any other dangerous thing that might attract little fingers.

Not only because of children, clear as much of the half-used debris from cabinets and shelves as possible. Make them look like the spacious ones you see on HGTV—your “audience” will be impressed with the abundance of storage. Don’t forget the medicine cabinet. Secure all medications, so you don’t have to worry when you are gone or out of the room. Clean out the “junk drawer” or the place where you keep mail or bills. Everything will look organized and your private information will be secure from over-curious eyes. For these and for jewelry, you may want to get a lock box for added security.

When you do walk-throughs like a first-time visitor, you will find that you’re much more able to relax while your trusted real estate agent is conducting showings. Showings are just part of what will make up an effective marketing effort for your Highlands home. Give me a call to discuss how we can make all the parts fit together!

Sapphire Home Sales Needn’t be Stalled until Springtime

12-31-warmPast history tells us that home sales in Sapphire perk up come springtime, just as the advent of colder weather brings a slowdown in Sapphire home sales. But what if your own family and professional situations dictate that now is the time to list your own Sapphire home? What if the weather curve balls Mother Nature has been serving up have to take a back seat to your own scheduling imperatives?

Fortunately, the seasonal home sales ups and downs needn’t deter those plans. The fact is, several advantages can be had when a motivated seller and determined Realtor® put their minds to it. It’s largely a matter of attitude:

1. Make Your Home Feel like an Escape from Winter

Instead of allowing the cold weather to burden your whole endeavor, try to bring a little home sales jujitsu into play. The classic Japanese defense tactic relies on using the strength and weight of an adversary to disable him. In the same way, you can turn inclement conditions to your advantage by recognizing that they can help your home stand out as a beckoning refuge. Think: the nastier the weather, the better! As soon as potential buyers walk in, do everything you can to help them feel the sense of comfort a substantial shelter like this provides. The object is for them to recognize that here is the kind of home they want to wake up to on cold mornings!

Warmth is the starting point, so keep the temperature cozy (this is no time to fuss about the heating bill). If you have a fireplace, be sure it’s lit when visitors arrive. Fluffy comforters in the bedrooms and throw rugs that break up large areas of bare flooring will add, too. Further the effect with cups of warm cocoa, apple cider, tea or coffee that will warm buyers from the inside.

2. Clear All Walkways

It’s relatively easy to control the interior of your house by turning up the heat. Outside, though, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. Clear pathways, and pay special attention to any surfaces that might become slippery when the weather conspires against you. It’s especially important to clear the driveway, stone paths, sidewalks, and anywhere else buyers may want to inspect or visit. A clear path can be the difference between getting an offer…and getting sued!

3. Use the Slump to Your Advantage

Scads of homeowners buy the myth that Sapphire home sales are next to impossible to accomplish during wintertime. That’s why many—even some whose homes have been listed since autumn—fail to energetically market their homes until the weather clears (sometimes even failing to respond to home tour requests). That gives you a competitive advantage—and another jujitsu opening. Since prospects doing a Sapphire house tour will be less hurried than usual, your Realtor should be ready to spend more time with them to share persuasive points that make your property the standout value they’ve been after!

Sure, home sales during the shiver-producing months presents particular challenges, but the hidden advantages can be decisive. If you have been ready to sell, but hesitating until kinder weather surfaces, do give me a call!