Real Estate Marketing Specialists

Category Archives: Seller Information

Information pertinent to Frederick home sellers.

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

Why Zestimates Are Zillow’s Weak Spot

Why Zestimates Are Zillow’s Weak Spot

Why Realtors® Dispise Have Strong Feelings About Zestimates

Zillow is a great site for consumers to see homes for sale, no question. It has a lot of great information for buyers or sellers, like demographics and statistics on an area, maps and neighborhood information. It’s a great place to connect with professionals, and to ask questions. But, as the meme points out below, Realtors have strong feelings about Zillow. 

inaccuracy of zillowThere are two aspects of the Zillow website that I don’t find value in: their ‘Zestimates’, and their lack of accuracy in listing information.  The listings many times can be out of date as to their status, and the Zestimates are very often off by a significant percentage.

About Zestimates

Zestimates have been wrong more than they’ve been right. The reason they are is because they use an algorithm to formulate values all across the country. The same computations in every location. It’s not even remotely feasible that a “one-size-fits-all” mathematical equation could get it right, when determining a home’s value is dependent on so many local and subjective variables.

A complicated formula can come up with a uniform value, but the problem with that is that all real estate is not uniform, it is local. ‘Bricks and sticks’ in algorithmone neighborhood can have a different value than the ‘bricks and sticks’ in another location, due to all kinds of subjective factors. Proximity to highways, power lines, and unsightly commercial areas are an example of things that affect a home’s values in a subjective way.

All real estate is local, even micro-local. Values for similar homes in one neighborhood can be completely different in a neighborhood only blocks away. Zillow can’t get inside a home and see the differences in amenities…like an updated kitchen with pristine hardwoods, granite countertops, custom maple cabinets and top-of-the-line appliances; compared to a similar home with basic builder grade finishes and 15-year-old carpet.

Local Realtors Know Values

Only a local Realtor who knows the area can provide a realistic estimate.  He or she knows the local neighborhoods and values based on everything that is objective as well as subjective.  A local Realtor knows what the trends are in the neighborhood. Some areas hold their value better than others, due to a lot of factors: Type of construction, age of home, added amenities, and what’s going on in the neighborhood or area.Realtor

Our recent experience is that some neighborhoods are more effected by the downward drag of foreclosures and short sales on the market than other neighborhoods are. Two particular neighborhoods here in Frederick were primarily built during the years from 2003 – 2006, and the majority of the homes were financed with ARM’s…Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Unfortunately, when the rates adjusted after the values had fallen…these neighborhoods were filled with short sales. Comparable home sales were really difficult to calculate with a generic mathematical equation. It takes a local Realtor who understands the trends.

About Accuracy

To many consumers, the aspect of listing accuracy doesn’t cross their mind when they are looking online for homes for sale. Zillow is by far, the most trafficked website in the real estate sphere, with 70 million views a month! There is obviously a wealth of good information that consumers find valuable.

However…consumers regularly find inaccuracies. We get contacted regularly about homes that are listed on Zillow as active, but have either been under contract for days or even weeks, and many times have sold weeks or months ago. The inaccuracies include a lot more than status; consumers often find many details wrong, including the number of bedrooms and baths, the square footage, and even the information from the tax records. Among the different categories of “potential listings”, the pre-foreclosure category is very misleading.

As Bill Gassett points out in his article, Some Zillow Listings Are Not For Sale, the data Zillow collects on these homes comes from Realty Trac, a site that collects data on distressed housing, these homes are most often, not even on the market.

Data can be faulty. It happens. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault, it’s an imperfect system that data engineers are still perfecting. But sometimes it’s by design. The longer homes are listed as available, the more traffic the website gets. The more homes listed, like preforeclosures, the more “eye candy” on the website to attract visitors. Add to that more push notifications that people get on the Zillow app as they search neighborhoods.

Zillow is, afterall, a marketing site that makes money from advertising. It is not a site designed or monitored by licensed real estate professionals. They aren’t bound by the Realtor Code of Ethics, which requires that any information the we publish be accurate, to the best of our ability.

Why Does It Matter?

“If I just want to see houses, who cares?” Fair question. Let’s consider the Zestimate…

When a seller contacts an agent to list their home for sale, the agent conducts a Comparable Market Analysis, or CMA, to get a close estimate of what the home will likely sell for, based on comparable home sales, local trends and market analysis. Experienced Realtors who have local knowledge have been helping buyers and sellers in the local market and have been active in your neighborhoods. They’ve probably even seen firsthand many of the comparable homes in their market as they’ve worked with buyers and sellers.

Damage to the Seller

Zestimates are Often WrongSo imagine when the agent presents their hard-earned knowledge about the home’s value in the CMA (comparable market analysis), only to hear from the seller: “But Zillow says my house is worth $50,000 more?!” That seller is already set up for failure because of the inaccuracy of that Zestimate, sometimes a gross inaccuracy. First of all, it puts doubt in their mind about the Realtor, Secondly, if they disregard the agent’s advice and they overprice their home, they will do damage to their prospects of actually selling the home for the highest amount in the shortest time.

[In a recent  Washington Post article, a Washington D.C. brokerage was quoted for documenting that Zestimates are getting worse. Of 500 estimates, the values ranged from 62% under, to 150% over the actual sold figures.]

Damage to the Buyer

It’s easy to see that the expectations of the buyer will also be skewed when they see an inaccurate Zestimate. Right below the list price you can see the Zestimate, so at the very outset of seeing the home, a buyer will have it in their mind that the seller is asking too much, or too little.

If the list price is lower than the Zestimate, imagine the buyer’s disappointment when they get to the home and realize it’s not the bargain they thought it was. The expectations that Zestimates give buyers can be damaging, and can result in a lot of wasted time.

If they believe the list price is high, it will be hard for them to take the Realtor’s advice about what price to offer. We’ve seen our share of lowball offers from buyers who just didn’t take their buyer’s agent’s advice. We’ve seen just as many offended sellers rejecting those lowball offers!

Lousy Expectations Caused by Inaccuracy

mortgage shoppingBecause of inaccuracies, we regularly see missed opportunities, discouraged buyers who show up at a home that’s already sold, and lots of wasted time looking at homes that are nothing like the buyers thought they would be. We’ve seen wasted time on the market for sellers, and we’ve seen these sellers fire very good agents for things that are not their fault.

In my opinion, that is the real damage of inaccuracies…Lousy Expectations. Zillow discloses the percentages of their inaccuracies…way over on the page that you can barely see for the small print. It’s there. But most buyers and sellers never see it. They are unfortunately, subject to the disappointments of lousy expectations.

So contact a local realtor to find local values.  And use Zillow for other useful information. Take Zestimates with a grain of salt…if you even look at them at all.

More Great Explanations of Zestimates

But don’t take my word for it…here are several articles from some excellent real estate bloggers that have much to say about the topic of Zestimates and Zillow:


To see Frederick Home Values, we’ll be happy to do a complimentary CMA for you. Contact the Highland Group today: 301-401-5119

 Related Reading: 15 B.S. Facts About Real Estate That AREN’T True


The Highland Group
Chris & Karen Highland  – Cell: 301-401-5119
eXp Realty – 410-777-5714

Marketing Your Luxury Home

Marketing Your Luxury Home

Selling Your Luxury Frederick Home

If you are considering selling your luxury home in 2015, there are a few things to know about the local real estate market and about the best ways to market your home in today’s home selling environment. Successfully marketing a Luxury home for sale takes experience and attention to details. Here are 5 main points you need to know:

1. Connecting with an Experienced Real Estate Agent

Real estate marketing has changed in the recent decade with the proliferation of real estate specific marketing sites on the internet. Today’s buyers often start looking on the internet as their first step in the home search. More than 90% of home buyers look online at some point in their search.

An experienced Realtor who also specializes in 21st Century marketing is an important choice for selling your luxury home. Getting your home in front of the most likely buyers, in the highest level of technical and visual sophistication, is the key to the best outcome. At the Highland Group we put our 22 years of experience in the Frederick County real estate market, combined with our understanding of internet marketing to work for you. Read on to learn about our marketing plan:

2. Correct Pricing of Your Luxury Home

The most important step in marketing any home for sale is to get the price right…from the first day it hits the market. The key to the quickest sale is to list the home as close to market value as possible.

A common misconception is that “we need negotiating room“, but overpricing has negative consequences. It’s well known that overpriced homes sit on the market longer than well-priced homes.

Additional Reading: How do we determine the correct list price?  tips for real estate investing

Some Local Real Estate Statistics:

  • Homes that went under contract in the previous week (from 3/23 to 3/30) did so after 60 days on the market. The average price was $309,124.
  • Listings that haven’t sold as of March 31 have been on the market an average of 140 days.
  • The 23 Homes listed in the price ranges $700,000 – $800,000 have been on the market for an average of 186 days, The 37 homes listed above $800,000, an average of 191 days, both are the highest of all price ranges.

Conclusions: The demand for luxury homes is still soft in Frederick County; it takes longer to sell a higher end home. Even so, the homes that are in great condition and priced at market value are the first to sell. With less demand for luxury homes, pricing correctly from the start will position you in the most positive place in your market. If your home hasn’t sold in the average time it takes to sell a home in your price range and area, its time to consider a price adjustment or a condition adjustment.

More Pricing Statistics:

We currently have a bifurcated market in Frederick County.

  • Seller’s are getting 97% of list price on average, at time of contract.
  • Homes under $300,000 sell very quickly and have had 4% appreciation since March 2014.
  • Homes priced $300,000 to $600,000 have had 0% to 4% appreciation, depending on location.
  • Homes priced above $600,000 have not shown appreciation, but have leveled off for the most part. “The patient is out of intensive care.” ~ to quote Wayne Six, local Frederick appraiser. “But he’s still in the hospital.”

Conclusions: Selling a home in the higher price ranges is still a challenge in 2015 in Frederick County, although that market is seeing signs of health. Sellers need the right price, great condition, and patience. And great marketing will surely help. Let’s talk about condition:

3. Staging Your Luxury Home

Even high-end homes need to be staged to show their best features. Staging a home is not just decorating. A home stager knows how to promote a home in the real estate marketplace.

Professional home stagers are practiced in the home staging for luxury homesart of preparing a home for resale. They work with the “flow” of a home, eliminate clutter, edit and arrange furniture, and even assist in enhancing curb-appeal.  With the aid of a professional home stager, your house can make a notable first impression on potential home buyers.

At the Highland Group, we recommend professional Frederick home stagers to show your home off at its finest. The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers.

No amount of staging can cover up poor condition. Condition is of utmost importance in homes in the higher price ranges. The home must be perfect to stand out in the competition. Most buyers in the higher price ranges are not looking for a project. If by slight chance they are, they don’t want to pay the market price for something that they have to then put work into.

Most importantly, bathrooms and kitchens must be updated. These are the most expensive rooms to update and the first to appeal to today’s luxury buyers. Dated fixtures, lighting and appliances are the easiest to address and update. More expensive updating should be considered. Your agent and stager should be helpful in suggesting the best updates and fixes for a dated kitchen or bath. And for inspiration:

Additional Reading:

4. Visual Marketing for Today’s Buyers

High Definition Photography is a must for marketing your luxury home. In a recent survey from, 91% of buyers reported they are “less likely to see a home in person if the listing has bad photos or no photos.” Professional photos will be the first impression for buyers looking online. If your home stands out from the start, buyers will be sure to put it at the top of their “must-see” list.

High Resolution Walk-through Video 

video marketing for real estateIn today’s highly visual internet age, video is an important part of selling a home. And yet, only 8% of real estate agents use video to market their listings. Even then, many videos are compilations of still photos, not at all effective in showing the real flow of the home and the feel of the rooms in relationship to the floor plan. High Def, Walk-through video is available and very accessible in our market.

When buyers search on the internet, a home video shows up high in the search results, (video is 50 times more search friendly than written words!) YouTube is the top video research destination for home shoppers. (NAR)  With high resolution video and photos, your home will NEVER go unnoticed.

Additional Reading: The Best in Video Marketing and Video Marketing for Real Estate

A 3-D Interactive Tour of the home is a valuable tool to show your home at the highest level of elegance to today’s internet-savvy buyers. A home buyer can touch the screen and move from room to room, navigating all angles of the space. The technology works great on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. See an example at

Mobile applications are used by 68% of today’s home buyers at the onset and throughout their home search. (NAR)

Make sure your listing agent has mastered internet and mobile marketing to spread the broadest net to market your home. All of the places that your listing shows up on line must be mobile ready. In today’s marketplace, internet marketing must be part of a listing agents plan.

Additional Reading: Real Estate and Internet Marketing

5. Geo-Targeted & Demographic Marketing

Social Media Marketing has become a buzzword that many agents are happy to use, yet I find that many people don’t really know what it means. In a study of how agents use social media, NAR found that 91% of Realtors use social media to some extent. The average agent has 175 social media contacts…many of whom are Realtors. Posting your listing to their contacts will not get your home sold.

One of the best things about social media marketing is the ability to use demographics to get your listing, images, 3-D tour and video in front of the most likely buyers. Targeted demographic and geographic marketing is one of the best tools that is only growing in it’s accuracy and efficiency. Make sure your agent is well-versed in social media and internet marketing, your home will never go unnoticed.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It:

High-End home sales take a special marketing touch. Several of our real estate friends from other luxury markets have some great advice:

Frederick MD Luxury Market

As the real estate market continues to show signs of recovery, luxury home owners in Frederick Md can expect better news than they have had in several years. We have been experiencing a bifurcated market here in Central Maryland, with homes above $500,000 seeing a slower market than homes in the lower price ranges. Homes under $400,000 are seeing 3% to 5% appreciation, while luxury homes have been continuing to see declining values.

As the market and the economy improves, we are seeing more move-up buyers in the higher price ranges. As first time buyers enter the market in 2015 and 2016, many homeowners who have not been able to sell will see appreciation and will enter the market, moving up. As the demand increases, the normal market forces of supply and demand will trickle up to luxury homes.

Luxury Neighborhoods in Frederick Md

Are you searching for a luxury home in Frederick, Or just want to find out what trending prices are? There are several neighborhoods in Frederick County with luxury and upscale homes. Luxury means different things to different people. In Frederick County, we tend to think of homes above $600,000 the entrance to the luxury market.

As you can see by the above statistics, there are fewer than 75 homes on the market that are considered luxury homes. At this time there are 18 homes on the market listed above $1,000,000.

Use our Advanced Property Search to find Luxury Homes in Frederick County

Holly Hills and Fairways at Holly Hills, Hoot N Hollow Woods, Winpenny Tel, High Meadows, White Flint, Whiskey Creek, Baker Park, Baker Park Estates, Villages of Urbana, River Meadow, Potomac Hills, San-di-Gan, Windsor Knolls, Holbrook Heights, Edinburg Forrest in Braddock Heights, Aspen in Lake Linganore, Westwinds, Arrowood, Vistas At Springdale, Haythorn Ridge, The Legends, Old Frederick Estates, Glenbrook, Weller Estates, Ridgeway Farms, Willow Pond Estates, The Paddocks, and Estate homes throughout Frederick County (not in neighborhoods).

10 Ways Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal

10 Ways Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal

If you’re considering selling your home this Spring, you will want to start getting your home ready.  Don’t forget the outside when you consider sprucing up the home. With the Spring officially upon us, it’s time to give some attention to outside. In most cases, all you need is a little elbow grease to make a big difference. Here are 10 steps to great curb appeal:

Great Curb Appeal Welcomes Buyers

We’ve seen the effect that the outdoor approach to the home has on home buyers. Great curb appeal is a first impression that can set the tone for how the buyer views the rest of the home. If they feel a strong “Welcome Home!” message from the time they approach the home, they are much more favorable to the rest of the home. I’ve put together some basic tips for achieving great curb appeal for your home.

1. The front door has to give the ‘Welcome Home’ message loud and clear. A fresh coat of paint is a must, new door knobs and hardware, if the old ones are worn, and a new kick plate if appropriate. Studies show that red is a favorite color, if it fits in with the style and colors of the home and the neighborhood. Be sure to check with the covenants or homeowner association guidelines if applicable.

Create a focal point at the front door by adding a wreath of flowers, or Red Doorplanters or potted flowers. Adding a cozy chair or bench is a nice touch if there is room. Hanging planters of flowers are a nice touch if you don’t have room on the ground. Just remember not to go overboard with a cluttered entrance. The entrance should have enough room for at least a couple of people to stand side-by-side. A crowded entrance doesn’t say “welcome home”.

2. Wooden trim must be repaired of wood rot and freshly painted. Buyers will spot wood rot or old peeling paint right away, and suspect that the home might have other deferred maintenance issues. Maintaining and repairing the outside as well as the inside of your home during the time you own it will keep you from the last minute repairs that can be inconvenient as well as more expensive.

3. Overgrown plantings can also hint at lack of maintenance to many buyers. Trim bushes and trees and put a layer of new mulch on beds. If you can’t plant some colorful flowers, put some potted flowers near the doorway. Colorful flowers are friendly and welcoming. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this group Pinterest board:

Curb Appeal

Follow The Highland Group’s board Curb Appeal on Pinterest.

4. Renting a power washer for a day can take care of a lot of problems. Power washing mold and algae off of outdoor surfaces is important, as mold shouts deferred maintenance to most buyers. Power wash dirt build-up on driveways, walkways, stoops, porches, siding and decks, making a clean, sparkling impression.

Make sure the windows are clean, inside and out. When showing your home, you want as much natural light as possible to enter. You also don’t want buyers being distracted by dirt-filtered light…anyone who has dogs…you know what I mean!

5. Paint faded shutters to make a clean fresh look. Re-think windows that are without shutters, keeping symmetry in mind. Staining or painting siding may be necessary if the house is faded and dingy.

Address repairs in siding and roof shingles. If you have repairs that will need to be done, attending to them before you list the house will eliminate negatives in the buyer’s mind and may even net you more in an offer. Most buyers have a number in mind, and then they start subtracting with each item they see that needs repair. It’s always a good strategy to give them as few negative items as possible from the start.

6. Putting new black top on the driveway can sharpen up the approach to the house. Taking care of cracks in the cement and walkways is also a good investment of time and energy.

Mailbox7. It may sound like a small thing, but a ratty-looking mailbox will really stand out once you’ve done all the other sprucing up. Home supply stores carry lots of types so that you should be able to find one that fits your home’s style for a reasonable cost.

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8. Make grass as lush as possible, as soon as possible. Start using a product like Scott’s Weed and Feed right away, so your lawn will be in great shape. And it may go without saying, but keep the lawn mowed when you have your home on the market.

9. Make sure your house is easy to show. Put the lockbox in a prominent place and make sure walkways are clear. When you have a scheduled showing, make sure there is room in the driveway or front of house.

10. Keep the entrance well-lit for night-time showings. After you’ve spent all this effort on your curb appeal, you don’t want buyers to miss it in the dark. You also don’t want any accidents.  Inspect your entrance lighting and replace if necessary.

More Recommended Reading on Preparing Your Home for Sale:

Elbow Grease Pays Off

Outside presentation is important…first impressions can often make a big difference in how the buyer views the inside of your home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on any of these projects, in fact you probably shouldn’t. Just consider a little elbow grease as a good investment. Most of the outdoor sprucing can take place over a weekend. All of this effort will pay off when you grab a buyer’s interest before they even walk through the front door.

Make sure you don’t overdo anything, including paint colors, flowers, and outdoor furniture. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors, you just want to make them feel welcome. Welcome enough to want to stay!


Contact Chris Highland for our Seller’s Marketing Plan

The Highland Group with eXp Realty
410-777-5714 – Broker
301-401-5119 – Cell
8923 Fingerboard Rd
Frederick Maryland 21704

10 Steps to Great Curb Appeal
Great Curb Appeal Welcomes Buyers


15 BS Facts About Homebuying Everyone Thinks Are True

15 BS Facts About Homebuying Everyone Thinks Are True

Facts About Buying and Selling A Home That (really) Aren’t True

How can something be a fact, but not be true? In the internet age, it’s very possible to find many so-called facts that don’t really hold true in real life…especially regarding real estate. So many people have so much to say, but don’t really know what they’re talking about. Yep. I said it. BS Facts abound on the world-wide-web.

15 BS Facts about real estateTwo reasons why non-facts linger: Old news lasts a long time on the internet. The problem is that any local real estate market can change on a dime. As well as market changes, its also true that markets are very local. All Real Estate is Local. What is fact in one market may not be in another.

Here are some of those so-called facts that I’ve run into lately…and along with them, some truth. I’ve brought in some of my favorite real estate bloggers to help me expose and dispel the BS:

BS Fact #1:  “Homes are way overvalued today, there is nothing I can afford.”

In 2013, most recovering markets saw large gains in home prices, many as much as 11-12%. That market correction hasn’t continued in 2014, and isn’t expected in 2015, either. With the combination of low interest rates, home affordability is still a reality for middle-income Americans. Although affordability is bound to decrease, compared to historic values and interest rates, home affordability is still very good. Consider:

“At today’s house prices and income levels, mortgage rates would have to be nearly 7 percent before the U.S. median priced home would be unaffordable to a family making the median income in most parts of the country.”  ~ Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac VP and chief economist

BS Fact #2:  “New homes are not being constructed. I’m just going to wait until builders start building again.”

Builders are building. Builders are targeting different demographics, including first-time home buyers. Many are prepared to make up for lost ground of the last decade by building homes that people actually want. D.R. Horton is one such builder, with a focus on the entry-level market, launching “Express Homes”, which are priced between $120,000 and $150,000, much lower than the national median new-home price of $290,000.New Home Construction in Frederick Md

NAHB, National Home Builders Association, has been predicting positive outlook for new homes throughout last year, reporting month-over-month increases in housing starts and completions during 2014. Consider: Single Family Production is Poised to Take off in 2015.

In Frederick Md, we’re seeing new home construction like we haven’t seen since pre-2006.

BS Fact #3:  “My house is worth much more than the neighbor’s house because…[insert any of 2 dozen reasons].”

Sellers don’t determine how much their house is worth. a) Buyers do, and b) Appraisals do. Lenders must have appraisals to establish a value that the bank uses to decide if they want to loan the money or not. Buyers make an offer based on what they are willing to pay for the home in the present market. These two factors determine a home’s value. [Not to say that improvements aren’t taken into account, but the process of determining value is far more entailed than many sellers realize.]

For Additional Reading on the appraisal process:

BS Fact #4:  “We’re headed for another housing bubble!”

Housing Bubbles ... Danger!It seems like any time there is positive movement on home values, even if it’s a measly one percent, we have cries for the next housing bubble. Our collective psyche will never be the same after the previous decade of housing woes. Although we have sites like The Housing Bubble Blog, and Trulia’s “Bubble Watch”, the preponderance of economic reports are saying “No to another housing bubble”, Trulia, Forbes, Inman, and Kiplinger are just a few.

Here’s another thought…with so many eyes on the potential of a real estate bubble, and so much intervention by the Fed, do we really need to worry about bubbles so much? Can we enjoy a little real estate recovery without so much angst? Tweet That!

Now, this is a housing bubble I can dig! From 1972:

Bubble House


BS Fact #5:  “I’m waiting for mortgage rates to fall.”

All indications are that mortgage rates are on the rise. Since the Fed stopped buying up government securities (Quantitative Easing) they are predicting rising rates. By waiting around for 3% rates, a potential buyer is taking a great risk that the cost of a home is only going up, and they may well be priced out of the market in the near future.

Additional Reading:  Three Mortgage Rate Predictions from 3 Industry Experts, Tim Lucas at My Mortgage Insider, Brad Yzermans at Home Loan Artist, and Luke Skar, Madison Mortgage Guys.

BS Fact #6:  “I was told it’s a bad time to buy (or sell) real estate.”

We’ve been hearing similar statements for years. It fascinates me how a single negative factor, among thousands, can overshadow the entire subject of real estate for some people. They draw large conclusions from one anecdote.

An example: Your neighbor refinanced several times during the boom and is now underwater on his mortgage because the house isn’t worth that amount anymore…and probably won’t be for a few years. So he concludes for you that “it’s a bad time to sell.”  Well, yes, for him it is, but that’s not the case for everyone.

BS Fact #7:  “I can’t buy a house yet, I don’t have 20% to put down.”

Some of the well-known advice columns lead people to believe that they must have enough cash saved to put 20% down on a home purchase. While that might be the ideal situation, and certainly the best case scenario, that is not the only option. Very few have that amount, especially first-time buyers. There are many loan programs available that require less than 20% for a down-payment.

  • FHA loans require 3.5%. Fannie and Freddie Mac are now backing loans with 3% down.
  • VA requires 0 down, zero, nada. A wonderful benefit for those who have served us and kept our freedom.
  • There are Conventional loans for 20%, 10% and as little as 5% down. Add to them gifts from parents or other down payment assistance and they can be as little as 3% down.
  • Speaking of down payment assistance programs, there are many. Consult a local lender to find them.

Related Article: Where Mortgage Down Payment Assistance is Still Available, Lender 411

BS Fact #8:  “But the online Valuation of my house was more than you’re telling me?!”

Batman Has Strong Feelings About Zestimates

Zestimates are more than 10% off about 1/3 of the time. Tweet That!  On the Eastern Shore in Maryland, they are a whopping 42% off! If any Realtor was that far off, they would not be in business for very long! All I have to say is this emphatic statement:

Online valuations can never take the place of a local professional CMA, comparative market analysis. 

Related Articles:

BS Fact #9:  “All mortgage lenders are the same. I’ll just choose the one with better rates, lower fees, brightest smile… etc.” At the risk of bringing down the positive vibe…all lenders are NOT the same. If you’ve ever had to make the phone call to your seller a week before settlement, and tell them that the buyer’s financing fell through because of a lender’s incompetence, you know that the facts say otherwise. Although rates are very competitive, all lenders have varying experience. From our perspective, the most important thing is that there are no surprises. There may be challenges, but we can overcome challenges. As Realtors, we’re interested in the entire team you’re working with, and the more we can count on the other real estate professionals involved, we find that the bumps in the road are hardly noticeable.

Related Articles:

BS Fact #9.5:  “All Realtors are the same.” See BS Fact #9, only replace Realtor for Lender.


BS Fact #10:  “There are too many foreclosures dragging prices down, I’ll never get what I want for my house.” According to Daren Blomquist, VP of RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings have been falling every month in 2014, and there’s no reason why they won’t continue to fall throughout 2015. “Foreclosures will likely fall to pre-crisis levels in 2015.” The drag on home values from foreclosures is virtually non-existent.

BS Fact #11:
 “Staging my home should bring me a higher sale price.” Although staging a home is advisable, and will serve to present the home in it’s most positive light, there is no evidence that the favorable presentation will net a higher price. There is evidence that the home may sell more quickly, and may win out over other homes in a competitive market, so staging is often well worth the effort. Remember, whatever the offer on a home, unless the buyer is paying cash, the home must appraise for the buyer’s loan to get funded. (See BS Fact #3)

Related Articles:



BS Fact #12:  “A real estate agent will try to make me pay more so they can make more money.” This is a statement that I see often in online forums…from people who have no idea how a real estate agent works. Many people make the mistake of comparing real estate agents to other, more…er…pushy more pushy or aggressive salespeople. Here is (one of) the differences:  We want to be your Realtor for life! We want you to be so ecstatic with our service that you tell everyone you know about us. We don’t get that result by doing anything but serving your best interests.

Greedy Realtors Let’s just say that we could push you to a higher price point, given that you qualify. If you spend $10,000 more on a home than you thought you wanted to…your Realtor might make $300 more.

Who in the world would risk their reputation, further business and recommendations, and their integrity, for $300? Not me. If a buyer will refer me to someone else, I stand to make thousands, not just $300. As real estate professionals, we are local business people. We have to live in our communities, see past clients at the grocery store, the hardware store and the little league games. We care about so much more than a few more dollars on our commission.

BS Fact #13:  “A real estate agent will underprice my home just to make a quick sale.”
See BS Fact #12. Reverse it to $300 less.

BS Fact #14:  “I’ll need to spend a fortune to update my house, I can’t possibly sell it and break even.” I call this problem: Too much HGTV! While home sellers need to make sure their home has the right updates to compete in their market, it doesn’t have to be costly. There are updates that are necessary, but if they cost so much that you can’t get the home sold and break even, then you don’t need to do them. Much has been written on this subject by experienced real estate agents:

Related Articles:

And the mother-of-all BS Facts…#15:  “Who needs a Realtor anyway? I’ll do it myself!”  Well, that is true, anyone could sell their own home. Anyone could also cut their own hair, make their own shoes and put a new roof on their own house…I’m just not sure I would advise it. We each have our skills, training and talents.

Realtors negotiate and buy and sell 24-7, 365 days a year.  Realtors are professionals with experience in marketing, contracts, negotiation, contingencies, time-frames, loan programs, and a number of other elements. Not to mention, they bring a team of professionals to the process…lenders, title attorneys, home improvement, stagers, painters, and many more.

The average homeowner buys, sells, negotiates and maneuvers through the process once every 7 to 9 years. Find a Realtor you can trust and let them do the heavy lifting. How to find that real estate professional?

Check out these articles: Related Articles:

Interviewing A Real Estate Professional

View more lists from Karen Highland
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Tweet: Combating The BS About #realestate, One Tweet At A Time!

Three Mistakes Home Sellers Should Avoid

Three Mistakes Home Sellers Should Avoid

3 Mistakes Sellers Make That Can Be Avoided

As the economy improves in Central Maryland, increasing numbers of homeowners are seeing improvements in their home values. As more homeowners are able to consider a move, either up or out, or even to downscale, we expect to see more homes going up for sale in Frederick Md. If you’re considering a home sale, there are some likely mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

Anita Clark, top selling real estate agent in Warner Robbins, Georgia, has graciously written a superb guest post for our Frederick readers on an important topic: Avoiding mistakes when selling your home.

A big thanks to Anita for sharing her wisdom and insight that has been a huge help to buyers and sellers in Middle Georgia. Anita specializes in: Residential Real Estate: Military Relocations, New Construction, Resales, First-Time Buyers. She serves these areas in Middle Georgia: Bonaire, Byron, Centerville, Kathleen, Perry, Warner Robins.

Without further ado:

Three Mistakes Home Sellers Should Avoid

You are moving to another locale, need a larger home because of your growing family, empty nesting and looking to downsize, wanting to live in another school district, or perhaps your reason for selling your home is something entirely different. Once you make the decision to uproot and relocate, it is understandable you are excited and a bit apprehensive about starting over in a new home.three mistakes home sellers should avoid

Let’s face it, for most consumers the purchase of another property is contingent on selling the one you are currently in so that puts pressure on you to sell quickly for the most money possible. Unfortunately, this is the point where many potential sellers make critically wrong choices. Here are 3 mistakes sellers make that can be avoided.

Hiring the Wrong Agent

Statistics show that For-Sale-By-Owner homes stay on the market longer and sell for less than those where the seller was represented by a quality Realtor®. That means the smart move is to find a real estate agent to assist with the sale of your home you so you can fully concentrate on other tasks. Hiring the right Realtor® is key to getting your home seen, contracted and sold!

According to the National Association of Realtors, 70% of sellers choose their agent without interviewing others. Sure, you might have had a good experience with the agent who helped you find your home but their specialty may be as a buyers agent, not assisting home owners with a sale. Perhaps a family member, friend, or co-worker has suggested someone and you blindly go with that choice to try and sell your most expensive investment.

Maybe you like to wing-it and pick the first name you see in an advertisement or choose the first agent to answer when you call the big box brokerage. The point is, not all agents are the same, nor will all be a good fit for you and your needs, so shop around.

You need to interview 3 real estate agents, asking detailed questions to gauge their experience, market knowledge, enthusiasm for selling your home, and to find out their marketing approach. Finding an agent that talks your talk, has a plan to market price your property, and is committed to negotiate the best price possible on your behalf is what you are after. Every agent can stick a sign in a yard…you want yours to have a full range of online and print marketing methods to ensure your home gets seen by as many consumers as possible.

Ignoring Your Agents Advice

No one knows more about the local real estate market than a local Realtor® No one! If they are good at their chosen profession they know a mind boggling number of details about your community, neighborhood, the homes that sold, those that did not sell, what is trending, local projects, and most definitely the highest price range your home can reasonably expect to appraise and sell at. Listen to their fact based reasoning, put aside your home bias, and let your agent assist you with setting the best price to get your home seen by buyers and potentially sold in the quickest amount of time.

As harsh as it may sound, you do not know best when it comes to selling your home. Let your real estate agent do what they do best and your experience will typically be a good one. If they tell you your home needs to de-cluttered, take the necessary steps to store, sell, or get rid of stuff. If a fresh coat of paint is needed, cleanup or a general sprucing up is mentioned, or de-personalizing the home is requested, jump in and get the issues resolved as quickly as you can. Mistakes Sellers MakeWhile it may not always make sense to you, a good Realtor® will clearly explain why the steps are necessary to help put your home in its best light.

They want to help you sell your home for the highest price possible so listen intently if they tell you the price you want to list at is too high. Despite your own research or thoughts on the subject, your Realtor® does know best on pricing, and can guide you to a reasonable list price you are comfortable with. If the price does not meet your needs, perhaps renting out your home or waiting to list at a later time are smarter options for you.

Letting Maintenance Build Up

Unless they are specifically looking for a home to fix up, no buyer wants to walk through your home and find the property needs maintenance performed. They will be looking with a critical eye, and what seems minor to you, may be a major issue for them. While a few imperfections can be overlooked, a home that needs a lot of work done may scare buyers off. You want consumers to have a positive experience in your home, visualizing where their furniture will be going, not thinking broken tiles means there may have been water damage at some point.

If you are unable to resolve the issues yourself, ask your Realtor® if they can refer someone to perform the maintenance for you. Often they will have a list of local resources who can help with painting, general home repairs, shrub/tree trimming, and a variety of other maintenance activities to get your home looking its very best.deferred maintenance

Another smart choice for many sellers is to have a home inspection performed prior to putting your home on the market. You can then decide which items you will need to resolve and how best to handle buyer requests for items you do not plan on fixing/updating. While it is usually a good idea to tackle as much of the list upfront as you can, at the very least you will have a good idea what an inspector will find (and buyers will ask for) when you eventually go under contract.

Additional Seller Resources

How to Interview a Realtor by Kyle Hiscock

The Risks of Pricing Your Home Too High via Bill Gassett

200+ Reasons Why Sellers Need a Realtor by Anita Clark

Selling a Home is Stressful by Karen Highland

If you live anywhere in Frederick County MD and are in need of an outstanding Realtor® to help you get your home sold, The Highland Group would love the opportunity to show you what we can do to get your home under contract and through closing.

What The Highland Group Can Do For You

Selling homes in Frederick County and nearby areas since 1993, Chris and Karen Highland are Frederick Maryland Realtors® who fully understand their clients’ needs. They provide 5-star service, superior communication skills, while putting the needs of those they assist first. Clearly they know what they are doing and make their clients happy as 80% of their business comes from referrals!

With 92% of buyers starting their home search online, it is extremely important for sellers to have a progressive agent with an outstanding online presence in their corner. Karen is a nationally recognized blogger who understands what it takes to get a home marketed online so buyers will find it and want to schedule a viewing. Add in her incredible social media marketing, and their knack for taking outstanding photos and high-definition videos of the properties they list, and it is no wonder sellers are ecstatic about listing their home with The Highland Group.

Once contracted, regardless if you are local or have already moved away, Chris and Karen employ the latest technology to keep you informed every step of the way through your transaction. Their use of E-signatures and Cloud Document Sharing ensure you meet suspense’s and have the latest information at your fingertips when you need it.

When you are considering listing your Frederick County MD home, call The Highland Group to schedule a comparative market analysis and see what our top notch marketing plan can do for you. We are convinced with our vast experience and knowledge of this market we are the right Realtors® for all your residential real estate needs. Put us to the test and watch your home go for listed to sold!

Contact Us

Selling Your Home = Life Interrupted

Selling Your Home = Life Interrupted

Selling A Home Is Stressful

So you’ve decided to sell your home. You’re probably involved in other life changes as well, like a new job, an addition to the family, a geographic move, or maybe you’re downsizing. All of these can be exhilarating, also stressful.

It’s true, when you sell your home, your life undergoes a major interruption. Daily disruptions, emotional stretching, and a unique kind of stress enters your life. Most of the time, Real Estate professionals don’t really like to talk about these issues, because they’re negative. When we’re talking face to face, we like to keep things heading in a positive trajectory…you know, good vibes…they’ll be necessary down the road.

Selling Your Home Requires Emotional Stamina

That’s one of the beautiful things about a blog. I can talk about things in a general sense that I don’t want to say in person… things that need to be said. And I can candidly say: Help your Realtor® out, bring out your best emotional stamina. And you can read these things and reflect on them before you find yourself in the thick of it.

According to the Employee Relocation Council moving is the third most stressful life event, following death of a loved one and divorce. Here are some other interesting facts:

  • 43 million people move each year. That’s about 1/6 of Americans.
  • The average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime.
  • Half of the moves take place between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

That’s a lot of stress. Let’s face it, the process of selling your home brings challenges with it. Having your home on the market is a disruption to daily life. Negotiating a contract, re-negotiating, dealing with inspections and repairs, and dealing with appraisals (the second sale) …these are all issues that people don’t encounter in their every day life. But the stresses don’t have selling a home to be debilitating!

Tweet: Selling Your Home Doesn’t Have to Be So Stressful

All of these things have to be approached with what is called emotional intelligence, or EQ. I have three basic tips to ensure that you operate at the highest level of emotional intelligence when selling your home. Keep these things in mind as you traverse the rapids of the home sale process:

1. Detach Emotionally

It may be your home, the place where you got married, or raised your babies, or lived your dream…but when you’re selling it, it’s a house. Everyone that comes to look at it is evaluating it and measuring it according to their dreams, not yours. Detach. Don’t be offended…

  • If someone doesn’t put the same value on your upgrades and renovations. That’s ok. Those are personal choices that you made for your living pleasure, not theirs. Detach from the TLC you put into your house.
  • Be ready to be ok when a buyer doesn’t place the same premium on something you consider high value. What’s important to you isn’t necessarily important to a potential buyer.
  • If someone doesn’t like your decorating choices, that’s ok too. Don’t take it personally. In fact, that’s a good reason to go neutral before you list the house. Buyer’s need to be able to envision themselves and their stuff in your house.
  • Buyers are going to inspect your home rationally and analytically at first…then the right buyer is going to fall in love. That’s right, buyers can’t avoid emotion, it’s part of the process. By detaching from your home, you can make the necessary changes to let someone else fall in love. The truth is, you have to move anyway, so start packing up all the personal stuff and make way for someone else to imagine themselves at home.
  • Understanding that buyers are also emotional during the process should motivate a seller to keep their own emotions in check.

Story-Time: Betsy was a first time buyer we helped in the summer of 2014. She’s a space physicist. Her personality, her job, her entire world has always been driven by thinking analytically. When we told her that emotions would take a role and to be prepared, she was horrified at the thought. But when she found herself in the middle of inspection negotiations with an intractable seller, her emotions flooded to the surface. Fortunately, she kept them in check. The point is, even the most analytical buyer will get emotional. But it is always much easier if the seller can participate in the goodwill.

2. Be Flexible

During the showing process, you might as well understand upfront: Your life is on display. Your schedule is at the mercy of buyers…that is if you want to sell your home. You need to stay flexible. You want to get as many likely buyers through your doors as possible, don’t you? And you want to get the right buyers. When it comes to showings, don’t be intractable:

Story Time: We had a tour of 4 or 5 houses set up with our buyers, from one end of the county to the other. They got confused about the order and ended up at the wrong house. We adjusted, but that meant that we showed up at the last house at the very end of our scheduled time. As we were showing the last house, the seller showed up. We apologized. We’re human. She was flustered and complained that she had dinner guests coming in 20 minutes. We ran through the house in 5 minutes and got out just in time. Our buyers, needless to say, left on a sour note…they were not interested in the house…even if they might have liked it.

When you’re selling your house, you want to make the atmosphere as positive and welcoming as possible. You want to be as accommodating as possible. You want to vacate. No one likes looking at a house with the homeowner shadowing their every move, much less emoting negatively. Some tips for showings:

  • Give buyers a two hour window. Most buyers are seeing multiple homes. You want to give them time for the inevitable schedule mishap.
  • Even if you have a schedule of 2 hours, it’s a good idea to stay out a little longer. If you show up and they’re still there, go away. Give buyers space.emotions have their place
  • If a buyer is seeing multiple houses, don’t you want your house to be the one they linger in? You want to make them feel comfortable, you want a positive emotional experience…remembering that they will buy emotionally.
  • Try really hard to allow a showing, even if it’s the last minute. Sometimes we see a house on a mobile app that we didn’t see before, sometimes the buyers drive by and see it, you just never know.
  • If at all possible, don’t turn down a showing. If you have dinner guests, they know your house is on the market, they will understand. And think of it this way, you can have an excuse to go out to eat!
  • It’s going to be inconvenient. But you have to put up with some inconvenience if you want to sell your home. Turning buyers away won’t sell your home.

3. Be Dispassionate

If you’re not a stoic, this may take some practice. Once you get a contract on your home, the work is far from over. We like to say the real work begins. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong. How you steel your emotions can make a big difference for all involved, most of all you. Don’t underestimate how emotions can be exhausting.

The story of Jekyl and Hyde: Yes, he exists. He appears sometimes when things go wrong. Our sellers got an offer on their home and had successfully contracted on their next home. Several weeks into the accepted contracts, we found out that the buyers of their home didn’t qualify. We had vetted the offer, the lender and the buyer, but somehow, the lender dropped the ball and proved himself inept.

Every real estate agent dreads that call. In our case, our sellers were educated, professional, and level-headed, very pleasant people. Except when they got that phone call! The wife was screaming through her husband’s cell phone at us! It made for a few difficult weeks, but we sold the home again in only 2 weeks because that was the market, and they were able to carry out the purchase of the next home.

What happened to our reasonable sellers? Fear of Loss happened. And how did it all end? With a thank you dinner and a referral to a friend. That and a promise from our new friends not to waste their own emotional energy like that ever again!

Selling Tips - Get the right Agent

Negotiations Continue After the Contract

From contract to close there are several negotiations that still have to take place. As you work your way through the contingencies, things come up.

  • What happens when the home inspection reveals items you didn’t expect?
  • What happens when the appraisal comes back too low?
  • What happens when termite damage is found?

This is where I like to talk about “emotional capital”. After you get a contract on your house, the negotiating doesn’t end. If you have negotiated so hard that you leave the buyer deflated and alienated, you have used up all of your emotional capital. What happens when something goes wrong for you, and you’ve exhausted their emotions and their good will? When something goes wrong, you have no good faith left.

Another story: Our sellers are negotiating an offer on their home, which is nearly perfect and priced at the very top of the market. After an exhausting week and a half of going back and forth, Joe Seller asks us “if the appraisal comes back higher than the contracted price, can we raise the sales price?” Well, in the unlikely event that it happens, given that you are at the very top of the market already, you could push the buyer so far that they have no goodwill left. What happens when something goes wrong for you? The buyer could easily stick it to you. They could easily walk away, leaving you back on the market, with several weeks of wasted time and energy.

Keep in mind when you select a real estate agent, you don’t want a bulldozer. It may seem like a good idea, but someone who aggressively alienates all parties and advocates to a fault is not a good pick. Most often those are the agents who end up blowing up a deal and no one ends up getting what they want.

After you find the house, it’s all about personality. You want an agent who can navigate the various egos and personalities, the many emotional ups and downs, and yes, even tirades that are likely to take place.

To quote a lifelong client: “The best deals in the world are when everyone is a little uncomfortable.”

But by all means…help a Realtor out. Manage your emotions. You will have a better chance of a successful outcome…and you won’t wear yourself and everyone else out in the process. home selling = life disrupted

Disclosure: We are not licensed psychiatrists…we just play one at work.

We are, however, licensed Real Estate Agents with 22 years experience. Contact us for our High-Tech High-Touch Sellers Plan. 301-401-5119