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‘The Best Home-Selling Advice I’ve Heard, Ever’

April 24, 2019


Selling a house can be a big job, and stressful too! There’s so much to think about regarding the market, home staging, repairs, and more—it’s no surprise sellers find it so overwhelming.

So in the interests of winnowing it all down to the true essentials—the tasks that can make a real difference—we asked home sellers to reveal only the very best home-selling advice they have heard. From when to put your house on the market to how to price and present your place just right, here are some top home-selling tips for the bandwidth-challenged that are truly worth the trouble.

Pony up money on repairs

“When it came to selling my house, the best advice I ever got was to get repairs done before buyers start poking around. Every house is going to have at least a few things wrong with it, and since you’ll probably have to do them anyway before you close, you might as well do those little fixes upfront so that buyers can see your house at its best.

“My last house was a pretty new build and I hadn’t had many problems with it, so I didn’t think there would be much to fix up when it came time to sell. Still, I knew that if buyers saw a bunch of small problems, they wouldn’t be wowed by the house, or pay my full asking price. So, I ended up walking around my place and sticking Post-it notes to things I thought I might need to fix. I looked for loose door handles, leaky sinks, hard-to-open windows, and things like that.

“I ended up making a bunch of little improvements, and while it took a bit of time and cost a few hundred bucks to fix everything up, my work paid off and I sold the house at asking.” – Dustin McCaffree, Salt Lake City, UT

Spend your reno dollars wisely

“In my last house, we wanted to change the color of the fence in the backyard, but we knew we were moving soon and backyard fences don’t sell houses. We knew that money would be better spent on something buyers really care about, like the kitchen.

“So, before putting my house on the market, I took the money I would have used on the back fence and painted my kitchen cabinets. Installed in the 1960s, my old, shiny oak cabinets dated the house, so I painted them gray because it was trendy to have gray cabinets at the time. It cost me under a thousand bucks to do it, but the people who ended up buying the house told us they chose it in part because they loved the color of the cabinets and how modern they made the kitchen look. They didn’t even mention the backyard or the fence. I’m glad I put my money where it would count!” – Liz Mullens, Brea, CA

Don’t price your house too high

“While certain listing agents might claim they can list and sell your house for a higher-than-market value price, they’re usually just trying to get your business, so don’t be fooled. In fact, you might be better off listing your house just under what you might expect.

“Our real estate agent in Las Vegas wanted to list our house at a modest price that was obtainable and not off-putting. We had interest in a few hours, and multiple bids within days. From there, we were able to choose the best offer from many within a week. Taking this agent’s advice to price modestly ultimately ended up fetching us a much higher price than we’d even dreamed we could get.” – Matt Romero, Las Vegas, NV

Spring is not always the best time to sell

“People will tell you to sell in the spring because the weather is usually pleasant and the flowers are probably blooming, making the yard look warm and pretty. However, not everyone’s house will show best in spring.

“The last house we lived in, in fact, wasn’t great during the warmer months. It was small and stuffy, so when it was hot outside, it was extra-hot inside. Plus, we didn’t have much of a front yard and very few plants. We were afraid buyers would think our house was dark compared to the lush, green gardens they saw on other home tours.

“So, we decided to sell in winter. Our living room was small, but when we decorated for the season (like putting blankets on the couch and lighting a fire), the house warmed up and seemed more like a romantic cabin than a small two-bedroom. Plus, during Christmas our whole neighborhood really got into decorating their homes with lights. It was beautiful to see all the houses lit up, and we knew some buyers might really value that, too. In the end, it worked out and we ended up selling our house at a great price.” – Bill Ford, Irvine, CA

Photos sell houses

“The best advice I heard was to hire the right real estate photographer so you have great pictures for online listings. Unfortunately, I ignored this advice at first. I’m sort of a DIY kind of guy, and I was thinking that hiring someone would be a waste of money. Why couldn’t we just take them ourselves?

“So, I took it upon myself to snap some pictures on my phone … and immediately realized that I was not at all qualified to do this. Our house was bright and open, but looked so dark and small in my pictures. I knew we had to hire someone.

“So my wife and I got a list of recommended photographers from our real estate agent and started narrowing down our choices. We ended up picking one photographer and were completely happy with her work—her stuff was a hundred times better than anything I could have taken on my phone. We knew that those pictures really helped drum up interest from buyers.” – Jesse Edmunds, La Habra, CA

Curb appeal and bathrooms are 80%

“Before I sold my house, I remember my parents telling me to focus my energy on making the front yard and the bathrooms look their best.

“They told me to hire a gardener before I started showing the house because they said lots of people make home-buying decisions based, at least in part, on the front yard or garden. I found that this is completely true: When I was going on tours myself, looking for my current home, I started to notice that I would often make my decision about a house before even stepping through the front door. So I ended up hiring a gardener, putting more plants in, and was pleasantly surprised with how good the front of the house looked.

“With the yard looking great, I tried to fix up the bathrooms as much as I could, too. I didn’t have a big budget for this, but I ended up going on Pinterest and watching some HGTV to get some inspiration. I ended up getting the master bathroom shower retiled, repainting the guest bath, and adding some stylish wall hangings and towels to both of them.

“I was really happy with how both my yard and the bathrooms turned out—and apparently so was my buyer!” – Jennifer Davis, St. Louis, MO

The post ‘The Best Home-Selling Advice I’ve Heard, Ever’ appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

Take Note! This Is the One Thing You Must Master When House Hunting

September 28, 2018

Average home buyers look at 10 houses before they find The One. And unless you’ve lucked out with a photographic memory, remembering the details of all those homes can prove challenging. Wait, which one had that weird bathroom? What was the address of that awesome house near the lakeshore?

If only you’d written it down.

It might not be the most exciting skill to learn, but good note-taking can keep you organized and dramatically simplify your home search. Yes, you already know how to write things down. But are you writing down the right things?

Here, we’ve got the pros’ best practices for what to keep track of during the house-hunting process—and how to keep everything straight so you don’t lose your mind.

Know what your agent is tracking

Before you start scribbling in your notebook (or typing away in your phone’s notes app), ask what your agent is looking for so you can keep track of the same things, too.

Why duplicate? Well, first, this can help you assess how well your agent is finding houses that really suit your needs. If you tell your agent you want a lush green yard but you’re seeing only a bunch of spaces with desert landscaping, then maybe it’s time for clearer communications with your agent—or a new agent entirely.

Plus, taking note of the nitty-gritty things your agent is tracking can make you a more savvy buyer.

For instance, at open houses, agent Ashlie Roberson will keep an eye on the sign-in sheet to see how many people came through. This is info that will help you get “a solid idea as to what our negotiation strategy should be,” she says.

Jot down your impressions of size

You might be wowed by the size of the place when you walk inside, but you’re omitting crucial information if you’re not comparing that impression with the actual dimensions. Most homes come with a spec sheet, and if you’re surprised to discover the cavernous living room is just 9 feet by 9 feet—smaller than your bedroom at home—then make a note. Clever staging might be tricking your eyes, and getting the space to feel that enormous with your own furniture might be a challenge.

“Looks can be deceiving, and many agents have the means to perfectly stage a property,” says Vincent Averaimo, who works in real estate law. “Sometimes that means it looks bigger than it really is.”

Record your gut feeling

When you step into the home, what do you feel? After a long day spent driving to a dozen different homes, you’re likely to forget that feeling.

So make sure to write it down. Did you feel relaxed and comfortable? Slightly ill at ease? Did an intangible thrill race along your spine?

“When you have found the home for you, there’s a special feeling that you get,” Roberson says.

While you’re at it, dig into the specifics of why you got that special “yes!” feeling. Was it the bay window in the master bedroom? The 500-bottle wine cellar you’re already dreaming of filling up?

“Note something you really love about the home or something that really bugs you,” says Maria Daou, a real estate broker in New York City. “If you don’t make these notes in the moment, when you are in the space, you forget what it is and all the houses start blending together.”

Give the home a numerical rating

Real estate agent Dale Schaechterle recommends establishing three “have to haves,” which must be included in your final home. Then, each time you visit a house, rate each of these must-haves from 1 to 10, with 10 being “exceptional” or even “better than desired.”

For instance, if you’re insistent on a three-bedroom home, then a home with more than three beds might get a 10, and a three-bedroom home gets an 8.

At the end, tally it all up to see which home has the highest score on the things that matter most to you.

“A perfect score is not the goal,” Schaechterle says. You’re looking for something with the best balance of everything you want that gives you “permission” to stop looking and write an offer.

Take pictures—of everything

Any good seller’s agent will stuff the listing chock-full of pictures—but that doesn’t mean you should put your camera away during the showing.

In fact, you should take photos of anything that jumps out at you—good or bad, recommends real estate broker Brenda Di Bari.

Did you absolutely adore the dual-faucet sink in the kitchen? Or were you uncertain about the strange laundry room setup? Flipping through your camera roll can help you recall the details that might not be pictured in the listing photos.

And there’s another darn good reason to take lots of pictures: Sometimes listing photos lie. A deck might look pristine on camera, but up close the boards are splitting and—oh, heavens—are those carpenter ants? Or perhaps a room that looked enormous feels more like a coffin in real life.

“Maybe there are areas of damage or concern that you want to consider before making an offer,” Di Bari says. A photo will help you remember.

Write down the renovations you’ll want (and look up their cost later)

Few houses are perfect. Jot down any obvious changes you’ll want to make—and anything that might impede a home improvement project. (Is that wall clearly structural?)

“Noting if [renovation] is even an option is really important,” Daou says.

Once you’ve figured out which renovations your potential home might need, suss out how much they’ll cost. Add that to any other must-change items, like a coat of paint, replacement gutters, or even furniture needed to outfit a bigger home.

“It almost always costs more than you think,” Di Bari says.

And what good is a dream home if you can’t afford to make it shine?

The post Take Note! This Is the One Thing You Must Master When House Hunting appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.