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Category Archives: Seller Information

Information pertinent to Frederick home sellers.

How to Blow Up Your Home Sale

How to Blow Up Your Home Sale

What NOT To Do In A Home Sale

Congratulations! Your home is under contract. It may seem like you’ve run a half marathon to get to this juncture, but the end is in sight! You’ve managed to find the buyer for your home. So now you want to see it to the end, right? You don’t really want to blow it up… I admit, I’ve sensationalized the title of this post… but not by a wide stretch. We’ve seen a few transactions blow up over the years. It’s best to be aware of some of the things that can possibly sabotage your home sale:

Mistake #1: Don’t make the effort to fix things that break.

If a fixture or system in the home breaks when the home is about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it happens. If a major system of the house fails, get a professional to fix it, and let the buyers know. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers will probably lose confidence in the condition of the home and back out of the sale.

Mistake #2: Don’t use licensed contractors

home improvementIf your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly.

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes sellers try to cut corners, when repairs have been agreed to. Sometimes we see that they’ve called in “handy uncle Joe” to fix items. If the home inspection negotiation has been signed by both parties, and the buyer requests a licensed contractor to make the repair, it is an obligation.  Using a licensed contractor is in the best interest of the buyer and the seller. They are bonded and insured, and there is usually some kind of warranty to their work. It will be in everyone’s best interest to not only keep the home sale on track, but to mitigate against future problems that may arise.

Mistake #3: Ignore contingencies

Contingencies have deadlines. The first statement in the Maryland contract reads “time is of the essence.” That means when time runs out, you are out of contract. The buyer has no obligation to go through with the purchase.  If you don’t meet contracted deadlines, the contract becomes voidable. Treat deadlines as the law. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within two days. Always leave a buffer for problems that may arise.

It’s not a good idea to assume you can just extend the contract. Sometimes buyers will think that you are not serious and might just walk away. Often buyers have hard deadlines that must be met: loan locks that expire, move out dates from their current residence, or a deadline for a new job, just to name a few.

Mistake #4: Become Rigid about further negotiations

Once you’ve negotiated a price, it might be easy to start your calculations about how much first rule of negotiationsmoney you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during the home inspection may have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below the contracted price and the buyer and seller will have to negotiate what steps to take and what to do about the difference. Remain flexible throughout the transaction and remember that the negotiations aren’t over until the documents are signed and the key is delivered.

Mistake #5: Hide liens from buyers

Did you forget to mention that you owe six months of homeowners association fees or that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien. It’s great if you can do that with the sales proceeds, but if not, the sale probably isn’t going to close, and you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy and emotion.

Disclosing everything fully from the beginning will be your best opportunity to find out if there are solutions that will make your home sale possible. That’s much better than crossing your fingers and hoping.

real estate success

Hopefully, no one will run into any of these issues. But it helps to go into the home selling process with information about the many possibilities, and an open mind. When the unexpected happens, you want to have a game plan and a game face to get you through to the finish line.

What To Do Right to Keep Your Home Sale on Track

And now that you know what NOT to do, here is a collection of great articles to help you keep your home sale on track:

  • In this article, The Typical Issues in a Home Inspection, Jeff Knox shares the 10 items that most often show up as problems. This would be a big help to look out for these things and get them fixed right away.
  • How To Prevent Home Closing Failure. Paul Sian, Realtor in Greater Cincinnati, OH and Northern KY, has some good advice for both buyers and sellers about preventing a blow up before settlement. It’s worth mentioning that sellers would do well to have an experienced local agent who knows how to vet the buyer’s financing. This can help mitigate against the possibility of their financing not going through.
  • Selling Your Home and the Buyer Cancels. Yikes! It can happen, although it’s not often. Debbie Drummund, Las Vegas Luxury Home Sales, has some great advice on what to do when a home buyer backs out of the purchase.
  • In this article, Top 8 Reasons A Real Estate Deal Falls Apart, Kyle Hiscock, Rochester NY Realtor, points out the typical problems that cause a deal to fall through. Notably, not using an experienced listing agent.  Having an experienced and competent real estate agent working on your behalf will give you the best odds that your deal will NOT fall through!

Home Shopping: The Square Footage Dilemma

Home Shopping:  The Square Footage Dilemma

I like to watch several series on HGTV. “House Hunters” is one of them. I like to see the different home values in different locations across the country. One of the things that always makes me scratch my head, though, is when they use the price-per-square-foot calculation.


In the real world of real estate, no one really does that, at least not when it comes to market value and what buyers will and have been paying for a home. Builders use price-per-square-foot calculations for their own purposes, and commercial real estate uses that statistic to price out properties for rent.


When referring to residential real estate, comparing home values from one home to another is rarely ever an apples-to-apples comparison. Determining the market value of a home is a multi-faceted process. There are several reasons…

  • First of all, a home with lots of high-end upgrades is going to command a higher selling price than a similar sized home with basic features. Buyers just aren’t going to pay the same amount for a house that doesn’t have the custom features or upgrades compared to a similar sized home with all the bells and whistles.
  • Another reason is that square footage doesn’t always mean that you have that amount of actual floor space. Take for instance, a two-story Colonial =>
    traditional Colonial square footage
    Traditional 2-story Colonial

    To calculate square footage, you take the dimensions of the first floor, and double that amount for the square footage. This traditional Colonial home has about 2000 square feet, 1000 on each level.

    Now consider a contemporary 2-story house of 2000 square feet…If it has a 2-story foyer or a 2-story great room, like the picture below, it still may have the same 1000 square-foot footprint, the same square footage as the Colonial without the 2 story rooms. The two don’t completely compare.

    square footageYou might pay more for the dramatic 2-story rooms than you would for the basic home, depending on the market, even though the basic home had more actual floor space.

    This is like comparing apples to oranges.

  • A third reason why we shouldn’t rely on the square footage statistic is that it doesn’t take take location into account. Remember that overused cliche: location, location, location. The values in one neighborhood can be driven by completely different metrics than a neighborhood across town, even if the homes are similar. The age of the home, the amenities that the particular builder added and the difference in construction make a difference. The neighborhood amenities and demand also greatly affect the values.
  • The last flaw you find when relying on the square foot measurement in direct comparisons is that we often find the tax record is wrong. The tax record doesn’t always reflect any renovations done on the home after the initial sale. And sometimes, its just wrong for no reason at all…garbage in/garbage out.

Additional Reading:

Buyer Beware

Because mistakes are made, and human error is always a possibility, buyers should always make it their responsibility to check the square footage of a home they are interested in purchasing, and not rely on the owner, the agent, or even the State tax record.check the square footage

There are several apps available to serve the purpose, why not do your own quick measurements yourself?

  • Stanley Floor Plan App – It creates a floor plan from your picture. How easy is that? Android and ios
  • Add to that Stanley Smart Measure Pro App – Take a picture, then measure on the photo. Android and ios
  • There are several apps for professionals that use a laser measure in conjunction with a calculator to measure for flooring, paint, and to create floor plans for designers.

Count on Your Agent’s CMA – Comparative Market Analysis

Your listing agent or buyer’s agent will be able to do a custom CMA, by carefully studying comparable homes that have recently sold and that are currently on the market. This is the best way to determine fair market value. After that, if the home is being financed, the bank will require an appraisal, which will be the deciding factor in the value of the home.


An experienced agent will do a custom CMA, taking into account all of the various market factors, unique features and neighborhood nuances. No other valuation can compare for an accurate measure of what a home is worth in the present market.

Additional Reading:


If you’re considering selling your Frederick Md Home, contact the Highland Group regarding our High-Tech, High-Touch Listing Plan. 301-401-5119

Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Selling Your Home During the Holidays

The Frederick real estate market generally slowes down during the holidays, as most markets do. People are busy shopping and cooking, making preparations for gatherings with family and friends. There are admittedly fewer buyers out looking for homes, and many sellers question whether it is worth the life disruption. Selling your home during the holidays certainly has some positives and negatives.

There are pros and cons to selling your home during the holidays:

  • There are fewer buyers out looking at homes during the winter months, which include the holidays…but, those buyers who are looking are serious buyers, we like to say “motivated buyers”.
  • It can be difficult to keep the house in show-ready condition during the holidays, especially for a busy family, or if you are hosting parties or celebrations. But if you are keeping a home clean and ready for guests, you have an advantage for possible showings.
  • If your home is decorated for the holidays, the decorations are an added bonus to the staging of your home, as long as your decorations aren’t over the top. This is the perfect time to experiment with minimalist Christmas decor if you are used to something more elaborate.
  • More than likely, you are already starting to pack for the inevitable move…so why not pare down and pack away some of your holiday decorations while you’re at it? Especially the highly personal items.

Additional Resource: Staging Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays, via HGTV

  • There will be fewer showings during the holidays…but…there will be fewer showings during the holidays!
  • There are fewer homes on the market…that means less competition for you. This can be a good thing when you find a buyer who needs to buy a home, and is unable to wait until the spring market. Some buyers need to make a purchase before the end of the year for tax reasons, for example. Some buyers need to be ready for a new job. You just never know.
  • Most showing systems allow you to make your home unavailable for showings during a selected time…for instance if you have holiday guests, or if you just want to have a few days to relax.
  • If you sell your home now, you may be able to be a non-contingent buyer in the spring, something to consider.

The decision whether to market your home during the holidays really does depend on selling your home during the holidaysyour tolerance for more “to-do’s” during an already hectic time. You have to weigh the inconveniences with your family’s holiday agenda, and with your desire to move on with your life.

Either way, the basic principles of selling still mean just as much as in any other time of year:  The homes that sell are priced right for their condition, and for the market.  Make sure your Realtor provides you with a periodic updated comparative market analysis (CMA) so that your home stays competitive with the market. Selling your home during the holidays doesn’t have to be a monumental task, with the right REALTOR® by your side.

Contact Chris Highland and the Highland Group for excellent real estate marketing, no matter the season. Find out what your home is worth.

Sellers: Give Your Home the Sniff Test

Sellers: Give Your Home the Sniff Test

When a Frederick home seller is getting their home ready for the market, the look of the home is not the only thing to be considered; all five of the senses need to be given thought. The most overlooked… the odors in the house. Overwhelming odors can be offputting to buyers at best, and leave a negative impression at worst.

Here are 6 places in your home to pay attention to:

1.   Closets – odors tend to build up in closets because they stay closed.
2.   Bathrooms – besides the obvious odors, mildew on surfaces and towels can be either subtle or overt.
3.   Bedrooms – dirty clothes, bed linens, and musty drapes can cause odors.
4.   Kitchens – Onions, garlic and ethnic spices can linger in the air from last night’s dinner…sometimes from last week’s dinner.
5.   Basements – Basement rooms often don’t benefit from the airflow that the main floor rooms have, and musty odors can build up.
6.   Pet smells – homeowners can get used to pet smells and forget that buyers will immediately notice the lingering smell of pets.


  • Natural solutions like baking soda are the best for possible sensitivities that others may have to cleaning solutions. Baking soda absorbs the odors from the air, not does your house pass the sniff test?just masking them like commercial air fresheners.
  • Before leaving for a showing, put towels and dirty clothes in the washing machine. You’ll want to set out the “good towels” anyway.
  • Use absorbant air fresheners in the closets. They will absorb the stale odors in the air. Put air fresheners inside gym shoes or any others that build up odors. Take special care when choosing the scent of air fresheners…a little goes a long way. Stay away from anything too flowery. Subtle is much better in this case.
  • Use a dehumidifier in the basement to keep the musty smell away. Place fans to circulate the air periodically.
  • Open up the windows to circulate fresh air periodically. Even if its winter, you want to be less concerned about your heating bill than you are about the welcoming smells and fresh air in your home.
  • If you’re going to clean with strong odors like bleach, clean the night before so the odors are not so strong that they “hit someone in the face” when they enter a bathroom or kitchen.
  • Place pet beds and items outside or in a garage before a showing. They should be out of sight anyway, for buyers who may have allergies or sensitivities. Have a neutralizing spray on hand to spray on furniture or carpets, or any fabric where your pet has been.
  • Above all, keep the house clean. Don’t let it build up and you won’t have a huge amount of work to do right before a showing. It can seem tedious when you have your home on the market, but it will pay off with a speedy offer.

Sometimes we get used to the odors in our living spaces and it helps to have a friend come over and give our home the sniff test…a good friend, of course, who will also give us the truth. 

Additional Resources to Cure A Smelly House:

For more seller tips, visit the seller page on our website, Selling Real Estate in Frederick Md.            Find out what your home is worth

Home Selling Mistakes You Must Avoid

Home Selling Mistakes You Must Avoid


Home Selling Mistakes You Must Avoid

When Listing Your Home for Sale

There are so many quotes out there around making mistakes and learning from them. Below is one of my personal favorites, another one goes something like this ‘Smart people learn from their mistakes, the wise learn from the mistakes of others.’



In this article, we are going to dive into some of the most common mistakes sellers make when listing their house for sale, and if you’re wise, you’ll be sure to learn from them!


Not Having a Plan to Sell

One of the first mistakes sellers make is not having a proper plan before they decide they want to sell their house. Here is what having a plan, and an education will help you avoid:

Hiring your friend or family member that is a Realtor

They may hire the first Realtor they meet, or worse, hire someone they know. (it’s hard to fire a friend – don’t believe me? I’ve seen families and friends refuse to talk to one another because things didn’t go the right way, or there were problems). Learn from the mistakes of others.

Understand that there are times when everything goes smoothly and everything works out for the best. Everyone’s happy in this scenario. One of my friends is actually in a lawsuit right now because they hired their friend to do a job and they didn’t do what they said they were going to do. Awkward!

The common objection to this is, “well business is business and we can still be friends after.” Go for it then, hire your family member or your friend!

Selling your home at a price that’s too low or high

Know your local real estate market trends and statistics before you place your home on the MLS. You want to make the most money for your home right? Here is why overpricing your home actually ruins your value. Let your Realtor help you determine the price for your listing because if you try to price it too high you may end up as an expired listing.

If you have a great understanding of your local housing trends, and what homes are selling for than you will be a step ahead of your competition. You’ll also be able to accurately price your home allowing it to sell for the most money and in the fastest time period. The best thing you can do for your house is generate multiple offers in the first day or two. This will allow you to sell your home for the maximum amount.

Here is what having a plan will do for you:

There is a lot more that having a great home selling strategy will do for you, and these are a few of the obvious reasons it makes sense to have a plan. You’re working with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to keep as much as possible.

Another mistake sellers make is pricing their home incorrectly.

Pricing your home incorrectly is one of the most common mistakes sellers make. This is the number one reason homes do or don’t sell. If you want to sell your home for the most money possible you’ll want to have a list price that is spot-on where it should be.

If buyer demand is strong enough, like they are for homes in the Bella Casa subdivision in Apex, NC, you can attract multiple offers and sell your home for over list price. What sellers don’t realize is that you will damage your home’s value if you overprice it. Especially, if you overprice it and put it on the MLS.absorption rate If a home sits for more than 28 days in Raleigh it needs a price drop. Homes are selling way too fast and far too close to list price.

Are you familiar with absorption rates? If not, contact us and we will be happy to help.

The other night I was at dinner talking to the guy at the table next to me and he was talking about selling his home. Of course when I heard that my ears perked up.

I said, ‘excuse me, did you say you’re selling your home?’ He responded in the affirmative. My next question was scripted, though he couldn’t tell ‘Interesting, how do you plan to price it?’ His response was ‘I don’t know, just going to sell it for over list price.’ Nodding my head up and down I said, ‘I’m a Realtor in the area and I’m more than happy to come by Wednesday at 3 or Thursday at 4 to help price it, which works better for you?’‘Are you going to sell it for over list price?’ He asked.‘I’m not sure yet because I haven’t seen the house, what I can tell you is that the homes I’ve sold are at 99.5% of list on average.’‘Well I’m only interested in selling for over list price but thanks anyway,’ he said turning back to his friends.

Long story short, I didn’t get the listing (stop answering questions, start asking them moral of the story here). I did run into him a few months later and he waved hello to me. I didn’t even recognize him at first, though I walked over smiling and he introduced me to his friends as ‘the guy who gave him a business card one time.’ If you guessed that 110 days later his home is still on the market and listed at a price that is too high you’d be spot on. Which is interesting because homes in Cary, NC are selling fast and for top dollar.

Hopefully, he kept my business card, I know I can help him sell his house.

Trying to sell a home that is in bad condition

You cannot change the location of your house. Two things you can change are the price, as we talked about already, and the condition.

There are a lot of changes you can make to your home that will improve it’s condition, whether it’s something as small as cleaning or as large as remodeling. If your home is in average condition you need to improve it or you won’t be able to sell for as much or as quickly as others.

There are many tips Realtors have for sellers who are attempting to accommodate buyers by presenting the best home possible, here are some pretty great resources that I have read online to help you do that:

While these resources are great for improving the condition of your home, they may not be able to save it from being overpriced, or from a less than desirable location. There are a lot of homes that are in great condition and in a nice location that sit on the market because they are overpriced.

Hiring the Wrong Real Estate Agent

Not all Realtors® are created equal, similar to any profession.

You need to put things aside when you’re determining what Realtor you want to work with. Do you want a results-oriented Real Estate professional, or do you want the Agent that will sell your home for the lowest price?

If your Realtor doesn’t know what price to list your home at find a new one. If you suggest a list price and the Real Estate Agent feels it is high that is because the neighborhood determines the price, the Agent doesn’t. In order to price your home efficiently there are a number of factors that go into it, and if you’re not using the data to your advantage than you’re not serving your customers the right way.

There are certain offerings we have at Raleigh Realty, that come with different sets of packages and you can choose which you’d like. This gives owners the option to purchase different packages at different prices.

We understand not everyone wants to pay for a full service package, we care too much about helping people to list a home that is overpriced though. That would be doing far more damage than good for the seller.

Poor Negotiations During the Sale

One of the fastest ways to crush a sale is by trying to take advantage of a buyer.

One of the recent buyers I represented moved on from a home because the seller, a For Sale By Owner had verbally accepted our offer. My buyer and I put together and signed off on the offer. Then I received a phone call that the offer wasn’t good enough (she wanted an additional $300).

Buyers buy a home based on emotion. When selling a home it’s important to make sure the buyers feel like they win. If the buyers don’t feel like they’re getting a good deal they won’t buy your home so make sure they know they feel great about it.

Bad negotiations is one of the fastest ways to kill a deal. It’s one of the most important roles for an Agent because the emotions involved between buyers and sellers. Delivering messages and taking the emotions out of it is a big part of what a Real Estate Broker does.

Final Thoughts on Mistakes Sellers Make

These are five of the typical mistakes sellers make and they are one’s that can easily be avoided with a little time, effort, and knowledge. Be sure you understand how to avoid the mistakes that other sellers have made before you, and you will have a much easier time selling your home.

Selling a home is not as easy as a lot of people think. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars involved and you’ll be competing against other homes for sale. It’s important to make sure you have a great Real Estate Agent to help make sure you receive top dollar for your house. Determining the best list price for your home is one of the best ways to ensure your home sells for the greatest price possible.

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This excellent guest post was from Ryan Fitzgerald, Raleigh NC Real Estate Agent. He graciously shared 5 mistakes sellers make when listing their home. Thanks Ryan!

Whether to Update Your Home or Sell As-Is

Whether to Update Your Home or Sell As-Is

Listing your home for sale: Should you update, or should you sell as-is?

When listing your home for sale, should you spend the money to make some home improvements, or should you sell it as-is?  Of course, as in most questions of this sort, it depends on the particular improvements that your home needs, and it depends on the local market trends. It depends on your goals as a seller. It also depends on the condition of the homes that are your closest competition.


The Mind of A Seller VS. the Mind of A Buyer

In our experience, there is a different calculation that goes on in the mind of the seller, compared to that which is in the mind of a buyer.  For instance, if the carpet in your bedrooms is original carpet in your 18-year-old home, there is likely no life left in it, we can all agree.  If the seller were to replace it with something mid-grade, they could foreseeably spend about $1,000 – $1500, roughly.  When the buyers see the need for new carpet, they calculate about $3,000 for said carpet, and they will menatlly subtract that from the price they are willing to pay for the the mind of the buyer

I can’t specify exactly what the reasoning is, whether buyers want the option of upgraded carpet, or whether they pad the estimate with compensation for their effort, but I’m almost willing to create a mathmatical formula, I’ve seen it so often.

Now add to that old appliances, older roof, HVAC, flooring and siding.  These things may not all be worth the sellers attention, but all together, they add up in the mind of the buyer.

If a seller is not able to repair and renovate, or isn’t willing, then they need to be prepared for lowball offers, or perhaps no offers, depending on their list price. They cannot expect to get market value if their home doesn’t show well. Buyers will be overwhelmed with the number of updates needed, and if they are interested in doing the work at all, they certainly will want the home for a bargain.

Most Buyers Want A Move-In Ready Home

If at all possible, making the improvements before putting the house on the market will be to the sellers advantage. The majority of buyers want a home that is move-in ready. By addressing the condition of your home, you appeal to the majority of buyers, rather than that small subset of buyers looking for a fixer-upper.

homeowner tipsThe bottom line is: if you want top dollar, your house should be in the best condition possible. A buyer should be able to move right in without having to do a single repair. That means the major systems should be in working order, the home should be clean with a coat of fresh paint. The carpet should be fresh and the floors in good repair. Lighting and fixtures should be updated and colors should be neutral. Anything that is dated needs to go!

What If It Can’t Be Done?

I understand, some sellers are in a situation where they are unable to make many updates and renovations. In that case, they should do as much as they can to make the home as updated as possible, and then they should price the home accordingly. If similar homes have better amenities, your home will have to be priced below the average price that those homes have sold for.

It’s About Expectations

This goes to a seller’s expectations…if you understand that you won’t get top dollar and price your home accordingly, then you should have success. If you try to get a higher price…to “test the market”, then count on being on the market longer and count on lowball offers. Even as you drop your price, the length of time on the market will add up and you’ll face having a “stigmatized house”. Buyers will naturally wonder, “What’s wrong with that house that it has been on the market so long?”

Some MAR Contract History

Until recently, the Maryland contract of sale specified that the systems of the home must be in working order, so if a buyer had a home inspection, these items would come up and the seller would be required to repair them.  Plumbing, HVAC, electrical systems and appliances are included in the general category of “systems” by Maryland law. But that all changed when the contract language changed. Today, there are no requirements; everything is negotiable.

This means that no longer is there a “must-do” element to the condition of your home…everything falls into the category of what is the most prudent and what is the most advantageous, given your goals and circumstances.Interest Rates and Affordability

This is when you really must know what features and amenities your competition has. You must understand what condition similar homes have been in and what prices similar homes have sold for. Having an experienced listing agent who is familiar with your market is of upmost importance.

Where to Start

Do you need to update something major? Like the roof, the HVAC, or refinished hardwoods? Some items are worth going the extra mile, some are not. With some updates, you may want to spring for the best available, depending on the comparative homes in your market. For example, architectural shingles are not that much more than the basic type of shingles, but look so much better.

On some items, like carpet, you may as well go with a mid-grade because top-of-the line flooring won’t give you a better return on investment. To learn more about ROI, visit Remodeling Website. There you’ll find a list of renovation projects and how much they get as a return on investment, broken down by region of the U.S. This is a good resource to see where to spend your renovating dollars.

Small Changes Make a Difference

Don’t forget the small items. Changing out light fixtures can make a big difference for little cost. Faucets and knobs are also a low-cost fix that can bring a home out of the 80’s into the 21st Century.

Painting is always a good investment and one of the least expensive updates a homeowner can do. Along with cleaning and de-cluttering, doing small repairs and updates will be worth it. There are many small home improvements that make a big difference.

Additional Resources:

Contact us to discuss our high-tech, high-touch listing program.

3 Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

3 Home Improvements Sellers Should Avoid

Savvy home sellers are aware that they need to present their home in it’s absolutely best condition to get the top dollar, in any real estate market, no just a buyer’s market. The question of which improvements to tackle first is asked very often.

Kitchens and Baths. That’s what we answer because they are what often sells a home. A typical buyer will go for the home with an updated kitchen and updated bathrooms, because those rooms are more expensive to renovate.

But, when making improvements, a home owner can go overboard. There are improvements that cost a lot of money but won’t necessarily increase your home’s value. Here are 3 things to avoid:

1. Avoid Expensive Landscaping

  • Those gorgeous stone hardscapes look fantastic and certainly give a
    home superb curb appeal. Landscaping always increases the sales appeal of a home, but the return on investment is another calculation. Hardscaping can be significantly more expensive than landscaping, so choose wisely. You’ll want to keep it at a minimum if you are going to put your home up for sale in the near future.
  • Inexpensive plantings will do the trick just as well as expensive ones. If a dead or overgrown shrub or tree needs to come out, replace it with something that is low maintenance and native to your area. Sometimes a pop of color is all that’s needed, and whatever you have planted just needs to be kept trim and neat.

    Don't overdo your landscaping
    No need to overdo landscaping
  • Best rules of landscaping: Cut, Color and Fill. Many landscape designers will advise a home seller to simply do some judicious pruning to get the best ROI. Too much unruly green can look like disrepair, and shrubs that are overgrown to the point that windows are obscured or branches are hanging in walkways can visually ‘eat the house’.
  • A fresh coat of paint on the front door and a few planters of colorful flowers will do wonders and won’t break the bank.

2.  Avoid expensive floor coverings.

  • If after cleaning, you determine that carpet needs to be replaced, get a mid-grade neutral shade. It will look great, and will meet wear expectations. Buying the top grade will be a waste of money, especially if the buyer decides to replace it anyway!
  • If the wood floors are dull or worn, try a good cleaning and new finish. If they still look worn they might require a refinishing.
  • Minor rooms like laundry rooms or powder rooms don’t need expensive flooring. Some laminates look just as good as hardwoods, but for less.

3.  Avoid Over-Converting Rooms

  • If you make over a room for a very specific purpose – like a home office or a library – make your improvements as non-permanent as possible. That way a buyer will be able to easily convert the room back to the original purpose. If they are faced with too much work, they might just give your home a pass.
  • This also goes for rooms with too much… Too much color, too much wall paper, too much clutter, too much personality…
    Traditional Dining Room by Miami Beach Interior Designers & Decorators BROWN DAVIS INTERIORS, INC.

    It’s always best to neutralize before you put your home on the market. It’s best if buyers can “see their stuff” in your space.

  • If you have a passion, the temptation can be strong to showcase your love for the team, so to speak. Just because you are a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan doesn’t mean that your collection of memorabilia will be appreciated by buyers touring your home. You’ll probably want to pack that stuff away…especially if you’re in Redskin territory!
  • Avoid over-doing your spaces to accomodate your hobby. Most buyers will only see a lot of work ahead of them when they see that your laundry room has been converted to an awesome beer brewing station…even if they love beer themselves!

Which Improvements Give the Greatest ROI?

The answer to that question really depends on comparative homes in your market…what amenities are buyers for your home going to expect? What are the common features of similar homes in your area? You don’t want to overdo your renovations compared to your competition, at least if you want the best return on your investment. Neither do you want to underdo your improvements, not if you want to sell your home for top dollar.

Generally speaking, kitchens and baths should be considered. Other than that, there are typical upgrades that will garner a better return. Check out the list at the following website:

Additional Resources:

For more tips on Home Improvement ROI, see the Remodeling Website. This site compares average cost for 36 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 102 U.S. markets. Check out this year’s trends and how they compare to prior years.


The Highland  Group
Chris & Karen Highland      301-831-9947
eXp Realty “ 410-777-5714

How to Handle Multiple Offers in the Frederick Real Estate Market

How to Handle Multiple Offers in the Frederick Real Estate Market

Multiple Offers in the Frederick Real Estate Market

The real estate market has transitioned to a seller’s market over the last two years. The lack of inventory and the healthy demand has created an environment where we’re seeing a good number of multiple offers in the Frederick real estate market. Homes that are in great condition and that are well-priced for the market are in demand. In certain price ranges, those high demand homes are getting multiple offers.

Local Frederick Market Conditions

While first time home buyers are entering the market, and the first tier of move-up buyers are seeking homes, homes in these categories are in high demand. Buyers should expect the possibility of facing a multiple offer scenario. There is a portion of the market that is seeing a longer time on market for the lack of demand: the price ranges above $500,000. In certain neighborhoods in the smaller, outlying cities in Frederick County, the market is also slow. Read more about a buyer’s or seller’s market.

Tips for Buyers in a Multiple Offer Scenario

A few years ago, if a buyer missed out on a home, they could just wait for another comparable home to come on the market soon afterward. In today’s market, they can’t count on that happening. With the lack of inventory, if a buyer misses out, they can’t be so sure a similar home will appear any time soon.

Although interest rates are still low, home prices are starting to rise. Buyers will want to take advantage of these low rates instead of waiting. To win out in a multiple-offer scenario:

  • Taking the time up front to get qualified by your lender is great advice in a hot seller’s market. When you submit an offer, the fact that you have been qualified, rather than just “checked-out” by a lender will add weight to your offer. It certainly increse the seller’s confidence in your ability to follow through on a contract.
  • When you see a home that you like, don’t hesitate too long to see it. You have to be flexible and make time to see a house as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we’ve had situations where our buyers scheduled showings a week out, only to find the home under contract before they got a chance to even tour it. Even though some people prefer to take their time and not be pushed, they find that they often miss out in a bustling seller’s market.
  • When you find the home that you want to buy, make an offer. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. You want to be the first offer, in doing so, you just might get the home.
  • Buyers should strongly consider offering more in a competitive situation, rather than insisting that they get a steal. The days of those kinds of deals are behind us, especially in a high-demand market. Your insistence on getting a bargain will most likely leave you out in the cold.
  • If you find that you are in a competitive situation, you may get the chance to change your offer if a seller asks for the “highest and best”. You may want to increase your offer, or you may want to edit your contingencies, or increase your deposit, or a combination of all of these. It really depends on the situation. This is not the time to equivocate if you really want the to handle multiple offers in real estate
  • Your buyer’s agent should be a good source of advice in a multiple-offer situation. Be sure to choose an agent who knows the neighborhoods, the values and the current market trends. Negotiation should be one of your agent’s strongest points. Understand that your buyer’s agent’s advice is based on past experience and is not a guarantee of any particular outcome.
  • If you are selling your home and buying…it may be scary but in a competitive offer situation, you will most likely need to have your home already sold. You will be in competition with other buyers, most of whom won’t have a home to sell. Plan to put your best foot forward. Anticipate the competition and make your best plan.

Tips for Sellers in a Multiple Offer Scenario

Although it is a seller’s market here in Frederick Md, as in more and more areas of the country, sellers can’t assume that they can get an unreasonable amount for their home. Even if there are multiple offers, there is a limiting factor to those escalating offers. The house must appraise for the amount it sells for. The appraisal is sometimes referred to as “The Second Sale.

The appraisal is based on the most recent sales, usually 3 to 6 months, so those sales are likely going to be less than yours in an appreciating market. Although appraisals can ‘stretch’ to higher values, so-to-speak, to expect a price that is a large leap from the previous sold homes is unrealistic.

When a seller considers all offers, they’ll want to consider more than just price. Although of course the ideal scenario would be to get the highest price, there are other issues to think about. Your negotiating strategy will need to be reviewed with each potential buyer. Other important considerations are:

  • The buyer’s down payment. Sometimes a higher down-payment signals a more serious buyer.
  • The buyer’s contingencies. If you have multiple buyers, you should compare the details of the contingencies. Time frames, inspections, and other negotiating items should be considered.
  • The buyer’s financing situation. Your agent should be able to fairly vet their financing, including the lender and the loan program. We have advised sellers to choose one offer over another based on the veracity of the buyer’s financing, as well as the reputation of their lender.
  • The buyer’s ability to deal with the situation of an appraisal that comes in low. It can and does happen in an appreciating market. If you want to try to get the highest price possible, make sure you know the risks of not getting an appraisal to corroborate that high price, and make a plan with your agent to deal with that scenario.
  • As with a buyer’s agent, your listing agent has advice for you based on their past experience and can’t guarantee a particular outcome.

Experience Matters

Whether a buyer or a seller, you should expect fair and honest treatment throughout the offer and negotiation process, coupled with prompt, ongoing and open communication. Always remember to keep your eye on the goal: buying or selling your home. No real estate transaction will ever be perfect.

Make sure your Realtor has experience in transitioning real estate markets, or if they are new to the industry, that they work on a team with other seasoned agents. A skilled, local real estate agent can help you tremendously as you navigate the transitional market today.

Contact the Highland’s for real estate representation in a seller’s market. 301-401-5119.

Easy Ways to Improve Your Home’s Appeal

Easy Ways to Improve Your Home’s Appeal

Once you have gotten your home ready for the market, with all the necessary repairs and cleaning, once it’s staged and photos and video has been taken, some final tweeks might help put your home above the competition. Staging a home for sale has proven to be effective in making that home more appealing to buyers. Here are a few tips I’ve jotted down as we spend time with buyers looking at homes.

Making your home more appealing to buyers by paying attention to the “feels” of your home will pay off. What do I mean by the “feels”? Think about things that will appeal to the emotions and senses of prospective buyers:

1.  Make people feel at home. Choose a few areas of your home to pay special attention to in your staging:

  • Put a centerpiece on a brightly lit dining room table with attractive table wear, placemats  and napkins.
  • Fresh flowers are so welcoming. Plants are a warm addition to most rooms and also serve to clean the air. Even a simple bowl with blossoms is easy to do, and brings the beauty of the outdoors inside. flower arrangements
  • If you have a soaking tub or jetted tub, highlight it with pretty candles and attractive bottles of bubble bath. Play up the benefits of a spa-like experience.
  • If you have a cozy nook, turn on a reading light next to an armchair with an open book on the seat.
  • Thin out your closet of off-season clothes. Buyers want to know that storage is not a problem.
  • Dress your bed attractively with lots of comfy pillows. Make your linens non-fussy and not overly feminine.
  • Clear the kitchen counter except for some pretty canisters and an open cookbook. Again, buyers want to see space.staging tips
  • Keep the curtains open and the lights on to make the home bright. You may consider removing screens to let in even more light. Turn on all the lights at night, including the front walkway and entryway.
  • Don’t forget to decorate the outdoor rooms and create a welcoming area. Outdoor rooms add living space.

2.  Keep all of the 5 senses in mind:

  • Make the home smell good by baking cookies or bread just before your showing. Use candles, but make sure they aren’t overbearing.
  • During the time your home is on the market, refrain from cooking with pungent ingredients, like curry and garlic. Odors can linger long afterwards, and can be off-putting to some buyers.make your home more appealing
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature for visitors. When your home is on the market, it’s not the time to worry about the electric bill. While you don’t want buyers to sweat while they tour your home, you also don’t want the rushing out to get a winter coat, either.
  • Keep the air dust-free by changing filters often. As the light is beaming through the windows, make sure that there aren’t wafts of dust floating and making people sneeze.
  • Accent the season with flowers and wreaths in Spring, a basket of pine cones in Winter, Fall foliage in vases, etc. Find ways to bring the outdoors in no matter what the season. Natural elements are appealing and comforting.
  • Keep quiet, relaxing music playing in the background during a showing.

3.  Help buyers imagine themselves living in your home.

  • De-clutter. This will go a long way in helping buyers to envision their belongings in your home.
  • De-personalize. Remove most of your family photos and personal items. The buyers will feel less invasive as they tour your home.
  • Keep pets out of the way and put away food and pet supplies. Some buyers are allergic or not animal lovers.
  • Put away personal bathroom items. De-personalizing private spaces can be challenging, but results in helping a buyer feel more comfortable.

Related Articles: Getting Your Home Read for the Market, Getting Your Home Ready Part 2, 15 Staging Rules, What are the most Important Things to Do to Ready My home for the Market?

The Highland Group
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21704

The Highland Group