Archive for the ‘Home Sellers’ Category

8 Mistakes to Avoid if You’re Thinking of Building/Remodeling a Home

Have you ever walked into a home (either a brand new one or one that’s been around for 25 years or more) and said to yourself, “I wonder what the builder was thinking when they built this house? Maybe you are thinking of finally building your dream home. Or considering downsizing the one you currently own. Or need to remodel the one you currently live in.

Here are 8 things to keep in mind:

1. Have a vision of what you want your home to look like. The floor plan is just the first step in the process. There a hundreds of thousands of decisions you will need to make. Take just the bathroom – what color tile? What pattern? Will the cabinets match? Faucets? Counter tops? The floor? And that’s just one bathroom!

2. Find the right people – By people, I mean an architect, a builder, sub-contractors, suppliers. Are they licensed and bonded? More importantly, can you get along with them? Do they offer suggestions? Are they difficult to deal with?

3. Visit the construction site often – Be sure that the home/remodeling is being built to your expectations. Ask questions. Make suggestions. Visiting your home every other day is recommended.

4. Building too big of a home – Don’t think about what size you need right now—but what you will need 7 to 10 years from now. A well-designed 3,000 sq. ft. home may work just as well as an ill-designed 5,000 sq. ft. home.

5. Work that you can do to reduce costs – Ask the builder what sweat equity he/she will allow you to do to help reduce costs. Painting the walls or staining the trim. Maybe you have a friend who is a licensed electrician who would charge you less.

6. Think about the upgrades – When a builder provides you with a price to build your home/remodeling, it’s usually based on “medium grade” materials. Take kitchen cabinets for example. What type, color and grade are included? Or should you pay $8,000 extra for solid maple cabinets instead? It depends on your budget and if you can find something that you like in the medium grade so you can use the money for something else. Other than you loving maple wood, there is very little resale value in upgraded cabinets when it comes time to sell. Consider only adding your MUST HAVE upgrades.

7. Think about selling your home in the future – Even if you never plan to sell your home, your descendants may have to do so. Build your home so it’s not a nightmare to sell.

8. Think about monthly mortgage payments – When you have been pre-approved for your mortgage amount there are a few things to consider.
a. What will the interest rate be when the home is completed?
b. How much will extra upgrades add to the monthly payment?
c. How much money will you need after the closing (window coverings, furniture, landscaping)?

8 Things Real Estate Agents can do to help with the Appraisal Process

I recently read an article written by an appraiser who said, “Realtors have more control working with an appraiser—more than they think they do. Spending time providing information UP FRONT will reduce the time spent on the back end trying to deal with an appraisal that comes under the sales contract price.”

I’m sharing some of the appraiser’s tips with you.

1. Provide Photos – In addition to the photos of the home that may be on your website, email the photos to the appraiser to review ahead of time. Include additional photos that may not have been posted online. Include a description of EACH photo.

2. Provide a list of recent improvements – And if you can attach the receipts for the work completed or the cost of the improvement, it’s an extra bonus.

3. Provide an Information Packet – If the home is vacant, the appraiser may not even call you to set up an appointment. Leave a folder marked APPRAISER INFORMATION. And if they do call, tell them about the packet and where it’s located.

4. Provide Insider Information – If you have information about the neighborhood that they may not know about, provide that info to the appraiser. For example, maybe a new school has been approved by the city and will be built nearby within the next few years. If you know the reason the buyers have chosen that home, include that info too. Let them know if there were multiple offers on the property, too.

5. Call the appraiser back—immediately—Appraisers typically schedule their trips within certain areas to reduce travel time. When they call, it usually means they have already done some preliminary work and are ready to do the physical inspection.

6. Provide Comps – While appraisers do their own research, it helps to BRACKET comps and supply them with what you used to establish the price. Provide sales that have sold BOTH below and above the sales price. List why each is superior or inferior. Do not rely on “per square foot price.” If known, also include seller-paid concessions.

7. Double Check the Square Footage – Appraisers must also measure the living areas, and if it’s substantially different, it creates a “red flag” and the appraiser may be looking for other things that may be inaccurate.

8. Don’t ever say these sentences –
“You should have no problems appraising this home…”
• “We need a good appraisal on this one…”
• “Let me know if you think the appraisal will come in low so I can get you additional info.”

Preparing Your Home for a Property Appraisal

You’ve sold your home. Or, you are thinking of refinancing your current mortgage.

One of the things that the lender will require is a property appraisal. While the actual appraisal inspection may take only an hour or two, the appraiser must go back to the office, do the research and write a 10- to 12-page report.

Here are some tips to help the appraiser with additional information—and in most instances a faster turn-around time to complete the report.

• Compile a list of recent improvements. If possible include “before and after” pictures, copies of paid receipts for work completed. If major updates were made, provide a detailed copy of the bid from the contractor.

• Make sure all areas are accessible, including the attic, basement and crawl spaces. This includes the garage.

• If the home is part of a homeowner’s association, include a copy of the fees paid, and the name and phone number of the association president or executive director.

• Straighten up each room. Appraisers are required to photograph each room, and while it may not make a difference to them if the room is messy, there may be an underwriter who is less objective.

• If there are any unfinished projects, make sure they are completed before the inspection.

• If there are any easements, encroachments or unusual deed restrictions, you may want to provide a copy of the list.

A little help from you goes a long way to make sure that the appraisal report is complete and accurate.

What Certain Paint Colors Reveal about Your Home

Are you looking to freshen up your home with a new coat of paint? Maybe you’ve just moved and don’t like the color of the walls. Before you choose your paint colors, here’s how colors may affect you and the value of your home.

Blue – Light blue is a color preferred by many people because it’s considered a tranquil color. If you are considering dark blue, save it for a bathroom, bedroom or home office.

Yellow – Light yellow is a universal paint color for almost every room in your home. It’s cheery, high energy and helps you boost your mood.

Green – It’s the color of nature. Light greens make the room feel more spacious. Darker greens complement dark stained woods or white trim.

Pastels – Pinks, lavenders, Easter basket colors are soothing. These are great for children’s rooms.

Red/Orange – These are considered “warm” colors and are used to make a room more intimate or seem smaller. Red is a popular dining room color that creates an intimate atmosphere to stimulate conversation.

Neutral/Brown – These colors represent a conservative feeling if you are unsure what colors will work for you. When using neutral colors, use brightly colored chairs or accent pieces like green plants or colorful window coverings.

Tip: If you are hesitant about painting an entire room just one color, try painting an accent wall a different color. When you enter the room, notice how you feel about the color and what emotions it evokes in you.

How to Boost Your Home’s Curb-Appeal on a Tiny Budget

Not only does the exterior of your home add value to your home, but it’s also the first picture potential home buyers see when you list your home for sale. So, I wanted to share with you few ways to enhance the curb appeal of your home with some elbow grease, and without spending a lot of money.

Clean Up: Sometimes it’s obvious that you need to dedicate a weekend to cleaning up the exterior of your home.
– Trim bushes
– Plant Flowers
– Weed
– Mow the Lawn
– Rake leaves
– Sweep sidewalks
But, to do the “deep cleaning,” you may want to rent a power washer that can clean the sidewalks and the siding of the home to remove the dirt and dust.

Windows: Next, focus on the windows. Clean them inside and out. You don’t have to buy expensive glass cleaner liquid, just use a mix of diluted detergent and vinegar in warm water. (Google to find several low-cost window cleaning solutions that you can make at home.) Instead of paper towels, use newspapers to dry the windows.

Paint: Instead of painting the entire exterior of your home, focus on the trim, shutters and doors. Focus on accent colors that will make your windows and doors “pop.”

Front Door: No need to replace it (unless you really hate it). You may want to repaint it. If it’s a wooden door, you may want to consider stripping off the old finish, staining it with a wood stain color and sealing it with a clear finish.
– Consider adding molding around the door frame to make the front door seem bigger.
– Replace your house numbers to make them more noticeable—which may cost you about $5 per number.
– Add a wreath or hang seasonal decorations on or near your door to give it that homey feeling.

Update Outside Light Fixtures: You could clean the glass and remove the bugs that accumulate there. But another option is to replace the light fixtures—especially if the metal is pitted and dull. You can usually find sconces for around $20 each at home centers or online. However, make sure that the new fixtures have the same mounting system or you’ll spend $$ hiring an electrician. If you don’t want to replace them, buy some spray paint and paint them black, aluminum, gold or an accent color. A can of spray paint is about $10.

Patio Furniture: If you have a front porch and want to use some patio furniture, it’s best to minimize the amount you place there. Too much furniture makes it look crowded. You may want to replace faded cushions or pillows with colorful ones that accent your house.

Some additional updates….

While these suggestions may cost you a little more money, here are some other updates to consider:
• Install a new mailbox or paint your existing one
• Plant a tree or ornamental bush
• Strategically place flower boxes or potted flowers on your porch or around your home
• Hide your trash bins behind a small fence or build a garbage can shed
• Hide your hose in a pot or storage bench
• Remove “yard art” that does not complement your home (think pink flamingos or wind socks).

20 Magic Questions to Ask Buyers & Sellers

It’s inherent that some salespeople do all the talking – but seldom ask enough questions. The right questions can really work magic.

Here are 20 magic questions to ask when starting to work with clients.

1. What is your main objective when buying a home?
2. What game plan do you have in mind?
3. What is the biggest problem you currently face?
4. What are you doing now to help solve the problem?
5. What other ideas do you have about the home you want to buy?
6. Who else is involved in the decision?
7. What do you like most about the idea of owning a home?
8. What is your biggest fear when it comes to owning a home?
9. If you could have any house that you wanted, what would it look like?
10. Why are you motivated to buy a home now?
11. What has been your previous experience?
12. How would you feel if you did not buy a home?
13. What is your budget?
14. What financing alternatives have you considered?
15. How would buying a home benefit you personally?
16. How can I help you with the home buying process?
17. Is there anything that is keeping you from buying a home?
18. What do you see as the next step?
19. Are you working with a deadline?
20. In a perfect world, what would you like me to take care of for you?

Not all questions may apply, but consider creating a “form” listing all the questions to prompt you to ask them. How about sending out an email version to prospects that call you? Or sending out the form with your promo packet?

Word of caution: Don’t take the answers at “face value”. Sometimes the answer prompts another question. For example, the answer might be that I want to be near a school because my children are in sports! How near? 2 blocks? A mile? Within a 5 minute driving distance? The questions open the door for more dialogue and building trust.

If you are working with many different clients, you can’t remember everything. The added benefit is that it gives you a record of exactly what they say they wanted. If they have changed their mind, you can go back to the form and record the changes.

Tips For Downsizing!

A dear girlfriend and mentor once told me, you spend your 30’s and 40’s accumulating “stuff”, and you spend your 60’s getting rid of it all. I must be an overachiever because I am in my 50’s and want all this old stuff gone!

During my 19 year marriage and the raising two step sons and my daughter, we accumulated a lot of stuff. We had a vacation home as well as our city home, so everything we owned was in duplicate. Fast forward to the divorce, where both homes were sold and I “down sized” into a 3,000 square foot ranch in the suburbs of Kansas City. Yes, I sold a few things on Craig’s List, but frankly, I wasn’t certain of what I wanted to keep and what I was willing to part with. There were so many memories! How do I even begin to “down size”?

Eight months ago, I down sized again and moved into a 1,700 square foot townhome. Now I have a serious problem. Any day now my neighbors will start to complain about me to the HOA – my place is an unruly mess of stuff. Some people might call it a “bunch of shit.” That seems appropriate too! It’s definitely time to get serious about this “downsizing” thing.

I ended up with 5 sets of patio furniture (how does that even happen?), a conglomerate of couches and chairs, an endless number of boxes filled with my beloved book collection (including the Jane Fonda book of exercise), a slew of artwork and not enough walls on which to display them, and a handful of very heavy boxes that have been packed for four years. Here’s a good motto – anything that’s been in a box for four years should be given directly to charity. I obviously haven’t missed or needed whatever is in those boxes.

With that being said, I felt compelled to create the following Tips for Downsizing. Go ahead, it’s OK! You can do it!

  1. Purge before you move. In my case, it would have been prudent to have a big garage sale in the old neighborhood, because the new neighborhood had a very strict rule of “no garage sales.” It took two – not one, but two – very large moving vans to tote all of the stuff from the old house to the new one, and that was a ridiculous waste of my hard earned money.
  2. Measure your new place and visualize your new lifestyle. If you spend some time looking at the floor plan and room dimensions of your new, smaller home, it will help you to visually place your furniture and determine what can be eliminated prior to your move. I use an old decorating book that has the little pictures of furniture and they are scaled to match a grid which you use to draw the room dimensions. This is very helpful to assist in placing your furniture before you move into your new home.
  3. It’s OKAY! It’s okay to get rid of something, even if it has an awesome memory. Take a picture of the special item and keep it in your phone or scrapbook. Of course, don’t get rid of valuable antiques or a cedar chest that has been in your family for decades. For me, I have hung onto a great set of patio furniture solely because my daughter and I bought it, put it together, and surprised my husband with a patio full of new, comfy furniture. Today I look at it and see the stained cushions. Even though I have such pride in putting it together myself, that does not mean I have to keep it forever.
  4. This is tactical – not emotional. For women, this is hard. It is for me any way. But downsizing is tactical and emotions should not be a factor into getting rid of old crap.
  5. Do not discard something meaningful to someone in your family without their permission. Enough said.
  6. Rearrange your stuff. In my townhome, one day it donned on me that my bedroom comforter set and pillows had been around through two failed relationships. It was time for a makeover. To switch things around. I took the comforter set from my previous guest room and put it in my master suite. I always thought that was a beautiful set, so why shouldn’t I use it every day? Now my room looks amazing and the old, bad karma and male mojo are gone. And it didn’t cost me a penny.
  7. Edit your electronics. I have a Game Cube, a Play Station 2 and a WII. The kids used to love and play these constantly. Now they are on a shelf in my storage room, which is a complete waste of space.
  8. If all of this sounds completely overwhelming, consider getting help. There are many reputable professional organizers. Ask around for a referral to someone who can assist you and give you an objective opinion.

After this is all said and done, take time to revel in the cleansing feeling of “no clutter.” Purging is good for the soul. Letting go is something we all have to do in life. But remember – even if you let something go, you will always have the memory of the fun and value it brought to your life at the time. Happy purging and downsizing!

 – Jill