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Monday
Sep102018

I’m not in the mood.

It’s 10:00 on a Sunday morning and I’m in the office. I am just coming back from a (rainy) vacation and honestly am not in the mood to start the hustle.  There’s a part of me still on vacation. I compromised; I’m wearing shorts and haven’t shaved.  Call me a rebel.

You see these articles are written by me and are not produced by some nameless faceless service. My feelings this Sunday morning may mirror some homeowners as they think about putting their home on the market: it’s just easier to grab another coffee and get sucked into a distraction rather than think about selling a home…or finding the next home.

What I’m doing this morning is what homeowners need to do.  After I watered the office plants (caring for nature is important), I put together my list of items to accomplish today. Homeowners need an action plan together helping them to stay focused. As experienced real estate consultants, we’ve helped dozens with the purchase and sale of property. We can put together the action plan and help with creative approaches for making things happen. For example, in a pinch put excess furniture/stuff in the garage as a storage spot. Buyers understand you are readying the home for sale.  Pack last season’s clothes to start packing AND thin out closets. Frankly a dumpster is often a big help if you’ve accumulated decades of “stuff.” I’m personally not a big fan of “Facebook Marketplace” and the like for selling the ordinary as it can be a distraction to the main mission, yet many enjoy selling items in those forums. Removing dated or ornate window treatments is a fast way to update a look.

Getting a home ready for sale can take a day (yes, we put a home on the market in a day) or months if painting/updating is desired to maximize curb appeal.  Buyers often want move-in ready condition meaning neutral paints and finishes. We believe in planning our work and then working the plan.

Give us a call and we can help show you a path for getting in the mood and even psyched about a move! If we meet on Sunday morning, we can bring a box of Joe and make it a very informal conversation.  It’s an exchange of ideas. Hope to see you soon.

Monday
Sep102018

Inspection Topics

Home sellers often despise the home inspection because it can open further negotiation. Home buyers are advised to have a home inspection so an impartial party can examine the major structural, mechanical and life safety systems of the home.

We advise our buyers to listen to the home inspector and take what is discovered under advisement.  If an issue is discovered, have a licensed professional in the discipline review the findings (for example, have the furnace company evaluate the furnace if in question.)  Home inspectors make visual observations of the home, and often refer findings to specialists.  This is useful in determining whether the finding has merit and the cost to remediate the issue.

Buyers are also advised to be reasonable and to focus on major structural, mechanical and life safety issues.  We’ve had buyers ask sellers to replace all the light bulbs in a house so they are “new.”  This is arguably a frivolous request and does little to move a transaction forward. If anything, it sets a tone buyers can regret later in a transaction.

If buyers are still unsure, a home warranty might solve the concern.  Home warranties can help address concern with serviceable and aging appliances and some home systems.

In the end, if the buyer is still uncomfortable they can rescind their offer. Buyers should do this as quickly as possible so the home can be placed “back on market” and another buyer located.

Note:  the local fire department will check smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors for items including location, purpose, age, and battery life.  They issue a certificate before the closing.  On Smokes/CO it’s a PASS/FAIL grade, with PASS needed to sell.

Monday
Sep102018

What will the owner take?

As a real estate professional, we are legally obligated to represent the seller of a property UNLESS we are representing the buyer.  Sounds convoluted, and thinking about it more there is elegant logic.  We must represent the buyer when we have signed paperwork saying we are representing the buyer.

When asked, “what will the owner take” we generally answer, “the way to find out is the make an offer.”  A seller may not accept the first offer, and generally a process of negotiating begins.

We’ve had some buyers say, “Let’s find out if they’ll accept our offer before writing it up.”  Why would a seller accept an incompletely documented offer?  It’s almost saying to the seller, “We know our offer is low, and it is not worth our time writing it up.”

We’ve seen sellers accept lower offers when accompanied by an appropriate offer package.  A professional real estate consultant will take the time to present an offer in a compelling manner. And we often never know what is motivating the seller to sell…are they just “done” with the process or the house, or do they have other financial or personal commitments rendering a house sale beneficial.  Maybe they want a quick close and timing is more important than sales price.

Buying a home is often an emotional process.  We believe you don’t want to lose your dream house over a thousand dollars.  We also believe all houses have a reasonable top end price where the home simply doesn’t represent a good investment.

We recommend knowing your numbers and working with a real estate professional helping you make the right move.

Monday
Sep102018

I Don’t Know Where to Start

A friend reached out recently to ask for help selling his house. We had talked about selling his home years previously, and he simply never made a move.

My friend was simply overwhelmed.  “I see so much to do and don’t know what to do or where to start.”

In this case, we did a pre-sale home inspection.  The inspector covered the home from the foundation to the chimney and came up with a list of items needing attention. We worked with contractors and specialists to address any major structural, mechanical and life safely issues prior to putting the home on the market.  Of course, we also freshly paint in updated colors as needed.

We also arrange for dumpsters or removal people to come in.  Inevitably some materials are not needed any more (like tax records going back to the year 2000)…and we can coordinate appropriate removal (including shredding!)

Getting a jump on the process helps showcase the property in the best way possible and reduces subsequent surprises at inspection time.

Monday
Sep102018

What’s a Senior to Do?

The morning crew at Chet’s Diner often asks me real estate questions.  Sumner, Steve, Billy, Carl, Bill, Jess….we converse over morning breakfast.  Steve recently complimented these articles, and Sumner asked what should seniors do?

One thing we observe is seniors with the “big house” often freeze when viewing the difference in selling price for their big house and the purchase price for an over 55 or assisted living center. They are surprised it is so small, and conclude they should stay in the “big house.”

We’d offer the maintenance and upkeep of the “big house” isn’t going to get smaller….and deferring maintenance often decreases the value of the home. Add in increased utility costs and the senior is further disadvantaged.

Some seniors have decided to take advantage of the lengthy run of home value increases since 2008 and want to sell before any “pullback.”  Rather than purchase an over 55 complex at the perceived height of the market they are opting to rent…and will purchase again when the market adjusts.

By renting the senior realizes the benefits of a smaller property managed by someone else (providing predictable costs), and the proceeds of their home sale can be used to opportunistically purchase when the right property comes along. Some seniors are using this strategy to rent in the city…so they can experience city living!

Monday
Sep102018

Tech in Real Estate

Like many industries technology is helping real estate. Video and camera technology is allowing an immersive experience so buyers and sellers can evaluate properties from their couch or office. Will this technology replace real estate agents and showings?

I believe in the value of video and 3D viewing experiences, and a review of MoveWithGary.com shows my commitment to various technologies. It’s my view these provide an augmented experience to professional pictures helping consumers extend a preview or walkthrough to hours if so desired.

That said, nothing so far replaces a home visit. Buying a home is an emotional experience for non-investors. A buyer needs to “sense” a home…feeling whether the home is “warm & welcoming,” smelling the home (is it a fresh smell?), listening for noises (road noise, or floors creaking (some worry about a squeaky floor, others consider it charm) and in general taking in the home.

Buyers know if a home is right for them once they walk-in. It’s a visceral experience…not one derived from spreadsheets or analysis. Technology has a role in the research of a home, and like a car you still need to take a “test drive” to make the final decision.

Monday
Sep102018

Capturing your home

The number one way buyers are introduced to a home is through the photography – pictures appearing on the Multiple Listing Service.  People study the pictures seemingly far more than the written word, and they pick up on flaws in the home.

While we all have a pretty good camera in our pocket these days (with an attached phone) great photos require a creative eye and approach. Some houses a basically dark and need supplemental lighting.  Capturing the right angle requires skill and experience.

Professional photography requires the right equipment and training.  The photographer works with the agent as a team making sure counters are clear, beds are made, and all toilet seats are down.

As a bonus, my photography team also creates a floor plan we use in our marketing materials.

This professional team approach helps get your home in from of the buyers’ eyes!

Monday
Sep102018

Getting a Home on the Market

We recently had a client with an offer in on a home where the seller would not accept a home sale contingency. A home sale contingency allows a buyer to get out of a purchase if their home doesn’t sell.

Our client fell in love with a home before their home was ready to be on the market. This required their home get on the market in one day to make their home sale contingency credible. We mobilized!

We met our professional photographer at the home at 3PM on a Saturday and did lite staging for the photos. We put the property on the market on MLS at 5PM with one iPhone photo, adding the pro photos at 7PM. The open house was the next day Noon – 2.

The results?  30 sets of people through the house with multiple offers by 6PM!

Many items came together for this to happen. We knew the right things to do for prepping the house for photos, and the resources to bring to the challenge.  Our client was very flexible and aided tremendously getting the property on the market. The home was priced correctly. Inventory levels being low increased demand. Technology got the word out via multiple social media vehicles and hundreds of real estate portals.

It was a total team effort. Everyone knew their goals, roles and responsibilities delivering outstanding results.

We can do the same for you.

Monday
Sep102018

Moving with Children

It’s time to move.

Children are scared by this phrase largely because of the unknowns. Parents need to remember:

  1. Kids are resilient – They will make friends in the new school.

  2. Let your children help –children help “stage” and participate the experience of selling their home. Having kids involved helps them through the home selling process. Packing up or donating rarely used toys can help.

  3. Make home showings a game – Home showings are often tricky with children when a prospective buyer is on the way. Laundry baskets can help. Toss toys into the laundry baskets and whisk “off stage.”

  4. Moving day is not a game – “On moving day keep the children away.” Moving day is not an environment for children. They can get hurt if something falls on them. It’s best to have them stay at a friend’s or relatives.”

The good news is if you follow these steps, you’ll have a staged home ready for showings and children understanding and even looking forward to their move. Take your laundry baskets of toys with your children on moving day.

Good luck with your home sale and have a great move!

Monday
Sep102018

Prepping a Home for Sale

“Do we update or just sell the home as is,” is a question many homeowners face. We believe any major structural, mechanical or life safety issues should be addressed so the property is fundamentally safe and sound.

Paint is inexpensive and a great way to freshen a property.  We recently sold a property where the interior had not been painted in decades…. the outline of a decorative rooster in the kitchen was essentially etched into the wall.  A quick coat of neutral paint later and good as new.

Upgrading a kitchen counter to a natural (stone) surface immediately adds appeal and is unlikely to provide a direct return on the investment.  It will help sell the house more quickly and must be in a common color. 

More elaborate upgrades (like an entire addition) generally won’t provide a payback, and should be accomplished if the owners will enjoy.

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