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Category Archives: Seller Information

Information pertinent to Frederick home sellers.

Home Buyers Top 10 Wish List

Home Buyers Top 10 Wish List

After being Frederick Md Real Estate agents for over 26 years, we’ve worked with hundreds of home buyers and home sellers. Even though home decorating trends come and go and new home products hit the market all the time, there are some things that are true for any time and market. In our experience it’s true, kitchens sell homes, however there are several items today’s buyers think are important to have in a home. Here’s my home buyers top 10 wish list for 2018:

Home Buyers Top Ten Wish List:  

Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes

1. Modern, Updated Kitchen. The kitchen in today’s home is the communal place where family gathers for socializing as well as eating. The best investment a seller can make is to update the kitchen. The cost of updating a kitchen for a buyer is often an expense they’d rather not deal with, as most want a home that is move-in ready. If they see a kitchen with too much work involved to update it, unless there is some other compelling reason why they are in love with the home, they’ll usually move on.

The best recommendation for homeowners is to make updates and maintain and repair their home throughout the time they own it. Waiting until you decide to sell the home can mean a shock to your wallet when you have a lot of updating in front of you at once. Similarly, deferred maintenance often leads to chronic problems that are more expensive to fix in the end.

2. Bathrooms. Buyers will look next at the number and age of the bathrooms. The cost of updating a bathroom is usually the 2nd most costly update, after the kitchen.  A master bath that evokes a modern spa retreat is a coveted feature. Although you can’t hide major imperfections in a bathroom, staging can do wonders in this area. Painting the bathroom in a serene color, adding plush towels and a stylish decorator soap dispenser set can change the entire feel of a bathroom. There are also some clever inexpensive ways you can update a bathroom, like painting the trim on a dated shower, or updating the lighting or fixtures.

Today’s Home Expectations Have Changed

3. Number of bedrooms. I recently viewed a large (5000+ square foot home) on 2 acres in an estate neighborhood. The home had only 3 bedrooms in a neighborhood where the comparable homes have 4 or 5 bedrooms. Can you say “Fatal Flaw”? The original homeowners designed and built the home according to their needs and wants, not thinking of the resale. The home had been on the market for over 2 years. The only remedy is price in that instance.

Today’s homeowners have higher expectations than their parents or grandparents did. Today’s families require that every child have their own bedroom, and sometimes their own bathroom. If you have rooms that you have repurposed for other uses, make sure you convert them back to bedrooms before you put your home on the market. Most of the time people are looking for standard bedrooms, not special purpose rooms, or bonus rooms like hobby or craft rooms. Those are fine if they don’t come at the cost of a bedroom.

4. Accessible and dedicated laundry space.

Laundry rooms used to be relegated to the basement. In most modern homes the laundry space has been brought upstairs to the bedroom levels or to the first floor where people live. Cabinets and counter space is a value-add for managing clothes and cleaning products. An organized laundry area that allows the homeowner to control clutter will be a plus.

A Home Buyer’s Must Have: Room for Stuff

5. Storage. People have stuff. Stuff needs space. Home Buyers Top 10 Wish ListMost buyers tour a home looking at the overall storage possibilities.

If you don’t have a huge amount of storage in your home, don’t fret. Make sure you make the most of what you have. Pay attention to your storage spaces and rooms in your staging. Cull the closets to show as much room available as possible.

If your bedrooms are smallish, make sure you maximize the space. De-clutter and minimize furniture. This is just one reason why staging is important. It shows your home in the best possible way. Look at it this way, you’re going to be moving soon anyway…why not pack up a good amount of your stuff now?

6. An Organized Garage. One item that is a moving up the home buyers top 10 wish list is a functional garage. Today’s families appreciate a space large enough to fit 2 vehicles and offer storage space for their many activities. Having an organized storage system in the garage is a big plus for a home seller.

Here are some great ideas for organizing and primping up the garage from Realtor.com.

Living Large

7. Outdoor Living Spaces.top 10 wish list for home buyers

The trend for the last decade has been moving away from “McMansions” and toward more manageable homes with better plans. Homeowners want to have all the functionality in a smaller home, including the outside of the home.

Outdoor living space can be found in a deck or patio, or even in a side-yard. Creativity and some good old-fashioned labor can produce attractive outdoor spaces that add to the livability of any home. Add some inviting staging touches and you can add a lot of charm and appeal.

8. A Home Office has been growing in demand over the last decade as more people work from home either part-time or full-time. If a home doesn’t have a dedicated office space, it really adds to the appeal just to carve out office space in a kitchen or family room.

9. Energy efficiency is high on today’s buyers’ wish list. Buyers are more aware of and interested in green innovations, both for the environment and for their wallets. The top of the list of green features are energy-efficient appliances and high-efficiency insulation and windows. There are many ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home, from simple additions like a programmable thermostat, or replacing your lighting with energy saving LED lighting fixtures.

10. Upgraded Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans. Sometimes the most obvious things can get overlooked. Lighting and ceiling fans are so easy to replace with modern, design-friendly fixtures, for a very reasonable cost. Even if you don’t need to replace them, make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible. Lighting makes a huge difference and is one of those details that gives you the most bang for your buck.

Related Reading:

7 Tops Tips for Getting Your Home Sold Quickly, by Lori Cain, Mid-Town Tulsa real estate agent. Lori gives several good tips to help you get your home in move-in ready condition, something most of today’s buyers put at the top of their list.

In my article 15 Staging Rules, learn the principals behind the steps you can take to stage your home.

Easy Ways to Increase Your Home’s Appeal, don’t forget the aesthetics of your home, the “feels” that speak to potential buyers.

Decorating Trends for Homeowners 2018 because it’s always a good idea to have a fresh look. Outdated looks can suggest that the home itself is outdated.

 

Homeowners – Are You Unhappy with Your Zestimate? How to Increase the Accuracy

Homeowners – Are You Unhappy with Your Zestimate? How to Increase the Accuracy

Are You Unhappy with the Zestimate on Your Frederick Maryland Home?

Are you happy with the Zestimate on your home? If the answer is no, like these homeowners who contacted the Consumer Affairs website, or the many people who joined class-action lawsuits (unsuccessfully) I can help you change that number (we can hope it changes it for the better, but no promises!)

Here’s What You Can Do About Your Zestimate if You’re Not Happy

Zillow knows its computer calculations are imperfect, and they have coverage legally on that issue by disclosing that truth, and by disclosing the accuracy rates for each location. It’s just not very easy to find.

If you click on the Zestimate link at the bottom of the Zillow home page, you will find a chart called Data Coverage and Zestimate Accuracy Table.  The table lists the percentage accuracy of the Zestimate in each major metropolitan area. You can then click on states and see the data for counties.

For example, here in Frederick (Frederick County Maryland), Zillow claims its Zestimate is 64.3 percent accurate within 5 percent of the actual sales price. I don’t consider this very good. The Zestimate gets more accurate at 20 percent of the actual sales price: 91.9 percent. To me, that’s a pretty large margin of error.

It’s humorous to me that they give themselves 4 stars for 64.3 percent accuracy within 5% of sales price. If a Realtor® was only accurate that amount of time they probably wouldn’t be in business very long.

 

How do you make YOUR Zestimate more accurate?

The first thing you have to do is claim your house. Here is the link to do this: http://www.zillow.com/sellerlanding/claimyourhome/. After your have “claimed” your home, make sure everything is accurate. You do this by clicking the link that says “Edit your home facts.

Tip No. 1Add great photos.  In my experience this almost always ups your Zestimate.

Tip No. 2: Write great copy. Zillow has two questions: It wants you describe the features of your house and then describe why you like living in this home. The copy is really important. Guess what? Spelling and Grammar Count!

“Today, when a homeowner updates the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, lot size, year built or structural remodel year, the algorithm will immediately recognize those changes and update the Zestimate accordingly,” Zillow said in a release. “The change in estimated value will depend on several factors, including the home’s location and the breadth of changes to a home’s facts.”

I did this our house before we put it on the market 2 1/2 years ago and the Zestimate went up $10,000 in a few minutes! Note I had professional photos from Houselens and wrote in my finest King’s English.

When should you do this? NOW! Or at least before you put your house on the market. Because you know your potential buyers will check Zillow before making an offer.

Even if you are happy with your Zestimate, you should do this. You don’t know until you have a professional comparative market estimate (CMA) from a local Realtor® if that Zestimate is anywhere near accurate.

If you need help with this, contact me (Karen). I’ll be happy to help you.

Understanding the Zestimate

Zillow also disclaims: “A Zestimate home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value. It is not an appraisal. Use it as a starting point to determine a home’s value.”  I don’t even know what that’s supposed to meanif it’s not a Comparative Market Analysis, it’s useless.

Zillow is a computer system, an algorithm, not actual humans calculating information. The system relies on public data, such as tax records to calculate, so if there are errors in public information, that will be reflected in the Zestimate. Or, if upgrades and improvements haven’t been added to a public database, they won’t be reflected either.

Are you unhappy with the Zestimate on your home? By going to Zillow and updating the information about your house, you can help get a more accurate Zestimate. We can’t say how much it will help, but hopefully enough to minimize the possible damage of a grossly inaccurate number.

If you’d like a detailed explanation about Zillow Zestimates, this video by Home Buyer Channel explains it well:

Related Articles:

Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

Easy Updates for A Tired Bath

Quick & Easy Bathroom Updates

If you’re thinking about updating your home, whether you want to sell in the future or not, the bathroom is a good place to start…it’s small. Whatever you are considering in the way of projects will cost less, and if the look isn’t quite right, you most likely can change it without great cost. Starting with easy updates for a tired bath will most likely get you motivated to tackle larger projects that might also be a little tired.

If you are preparing your home for sale the most important rooms to give some love are your kitchen and bathrooms. Most buyers will scrutinize these rooms, looking for updated features. The majority of today’s home buyers tend to want move-in ready. They aren’t looking for too many projects to face to make the home there own. Here are some easy steps to get started in the bathroom.

Painting the Bathroom Walls

Painting the walls is inexpensive and will provide an immediate change in the look and style of a room. Faux techniques are great to try in a small room like the bath, and if they don’t work, can be repainted the next day.

If you’re trying a new color and are unsure, the bathroom is a good place to start. A bathroom is a good place to try trendy paint colors this year, that go with your overall decor. A small dose of some colors goes a long way.

The “new neutrals” include subdued tones of many colors…neutrals go way beyond beige for today’s trends. Grey can serve as a neutral, allowing for bright-colored accents.

Important Note: Bathroom-formula paint should always be used to help prevent mold and mildew.

Bathroom Ceilings

If you’re not ready to replace the bathroom floor, there is the next best option to consider… divert attention upwards. To get the look of old fashioned tin ceilings, there are several ceiling tile wallpapers available which are paintable. This textured wallpaper gives the impression of embossed plaster and will keep visitors looking up.

Ceiling TilesAnother option is a ceiling-sized stencil, some paint and crown molding, to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling space. Ceiling tiles and panels are also an affordable way to add style and interest.

Staying at ceiling level, a space-saving addition to consider is a narrow shelf over the doorway, just wide enough to hold extra rolls of toilet paper. A six-inch deep shelf can be supported directly on the door frame, held in place by a small bracket. You can use wall shelves to house decorative items that take up too much space on the vanity.

Bathroom Flooring

Even with a new ceiling, the bathroom floor can’t hide forever. Wood floors are a popular option in most homes today, but homeowners shy away from wood floors in a wet environment such as a bath. Fortunately, it’s possible to have both the warm look of wood and the durability of vinyl today. Vinyl planks are available from most home supply stores and come with textured finishes that bathroom updates

Vinyl Planks – BobVila.comsimulate real wood. Finishes include oak, maple, bamboo and other exotic woods. Cost can range from $1 to $4 per sq. ft., and the small size of the room makes it possible to lay a new floor in a day or two.

If the vinyl floor is looking tired and worn out, a coat of paint and five to six applications of polyurethane can give a floor a whole new look. To do the job, first prime the floor with a specialty primer. You can use a stencil to mimic a tile pattern or to create a border.

One decorator has experimented with using brown paper bags to create the look of leather or stone on a bathroom floor. She suggests tearing off irregular pieces of bag, gluing them to the floor and topping with four to six coats of polyurethane.

If you have funds for something more, there are a number of manufactured wood products that are designed specifically for the bathroom. Ceramic, stone, porcelain and manufactured stone products are more affordable when you consider the square footage is small…it could be just the place to splurge!


See 2018 Bathroom Trends


Small Changes in the Bathroom

Even a change as small as replacing hardware can give a bathroom a much needed lift. Toilet handles, cabinet handles, and door hardware Frederick Md Real Estateand towel racks can all shine brightly and give the bathroom some sparkle. Incidentally, If your bathroom is still sporting the 80’s brass look, you’ll certainly want to give it back to that decade!

You can even change the hardware and trim on a shower stall from gold to a trendier color, and without removing doors or other shower hardware. You can use 220-grit sandpaper, steel wool and elbow grease, for starters. Once the hardware has been thoroughly scraped, apply spray-on automobile primer. Metallic spray paint in black or another color goes on last. You can even use this technique for shower fixtures.

Simple things like a new toilet seat and faucets are relatively easy and inexpensive fixes. Along the same line, a new or refinished bathroom mirror will add focal interest, reflect light and won’t flush the budget down the drain.

Bathroom Lighting

Lighting is a quick and easy update to accomplish. Any big box store will have a lot of contemporary light fixtures to choose from, at an affordable price. Keep in mind the various task lighting that is necessary in the bathroom and don’t be afraid to “light it up”.

Today’s decorating trends emphasize creating a spa-like atmosphere in the bathroom. With that in mind, you can certainly add a touch of glamour with a lamp or even a chandelier, if it fits with your decor and style. A small touch of luxury goes a long way in a room like a bathroom.

Painting Your Vanity

If your vanity is in good shape, but just a little dated, you can try your hand at painting it to give the bathroom an update. There are many ways to paint a vanity, depending on the material.

Chalk Paint is all the rage, and many find that it’s ease of use and the lack of prep required make it a great alternative. It’s relatively easy to get exactly the look you want, whether its an antiqued look, a shabby chic style, or a modern finish. You just have to make sure you use the proper top coat to keep the moisture at bay.

Check out my Pinterest Board for Chalk Paint Tips and Tricks:

Follow The Highland Group’s board Chalk Paint Tricks and Tips on Pinterest.

 


 

Updated Decor and Accessories

Fresh new towels and bathroom decor can make a big difference for such a small investment. You can quickly and easily breath new life into a tired bathroom with some shiny and bright candles, small artworks for the walls, and a stylish new soap dispenser set. Even a beautiful new trash can will add to the aesthetic!

 


Thanks to our favorite home inspector, David Goldberg, for an excellent guest article. It’s great advice for some easy updates for a tired bath.

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector

Reliable Home Services
phone:
301-913-9213
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

Chris and Karen Highland with eXp Realty
301-401-5119

A Road Map for Home Sellers

A Road Map for Home Sellers

Selling a Home is A Process

Selling a home in the Frederick Real Estate Market is never an event…it’s a process. It has been taking an average of 3 or 4  months in Frederick. Of course, that time-frame varies depending on the condition of the home and the demand.  The process can be complicated, as in a short sale, or in keeping with traditional expectations with a property in an area and price range that is in high demand. Add into that mix the unpredictability of human behavior, and that’s where we realize averages don’t always matter. Whatever the case, the steps in selling a home are fairly similar. Here is a road map for home sellers to help them understand a “typical” home selling process:

A Road Map for Frederick Home Sellers

Starting Point: Meet With A Real Estate Professional

A Road Map for Home Sellers

 

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The first step in the process of selling your home is to meet with a Realtor®. The real estate agent is you point of contact throughout the process. A reputable, experienced agent will gather a team of professionals to help with the sale of your home every step of the way. Choose an experienced local agent to guide you through their road map for home sellers.

There’s no commitment required on your part for the initial meeting with a Realtor®. It will be educational for you to learn about the steps involved in the process of selling your home. Your agent will give you advice for your personal goals, based on their experience in your local market. Even though home sellers are listing their homes every day, each home is different and each homeowner is unique, with goals, timelines and resources that will require a strategic plan for success. Every market and geographic area also has nuances that must be considered when the strategy evolves.

Strategic Pricing for Your Home

Your agent will provide a market analysis, which will help you set an asking price. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to review the market analysis and consider your home price objectively. Pricing a home correctly is a very important first step, and getting that wrong can potentially cost a home seller, both financially and in wasted time on the market.

Overpricing for the sake of “negotiating room” is one of those mistakes that we see far too often. Many sellers don’t realize that the dangers of overpricing and the chilling effect it has on showing your home. If you can’t get people to come and tour your home in the first place because it is overpriced for the market, you won’t be able to sell. Getting traffic is the prerequisite to getting offers.

Prepare Your Home for the Market

Getting your real estate agent’s advice on home preparation is an important step before you get started in the process. An experienced local agent is knowledgeable about your market and the competition. They will know what people expect to find in a house in your price range and in your neighborhood. Their advice can not only help you prepare your home to maximize its appeal, but they can save you wasted time and money on improvements that don’t really matter.

Preparing your home takes objectivity. View your home through the eyes of the buyer and ask yourself what you would expect. Remember that buyers are viewing on average one dozen homes that are in their price range. Yours must stack up to the competition.

List Your Home

When everything is in place and your house is ready to show off her best features, and within your time frame, your agent will list your home on the open market. Choosing an agent who is a savvy internet marketer can make all the difference in your success. Some agents just do the bare minimum and list a home on the MLS. Savvy agents know that HOW that home is listed matters. Professional photos and high definition video will go a long way to gather interest in your home. Great internet marketing will throw a broader wider net and capture more buyers’ interest, and get more foot traffic through your home.

Showing Your Home

It is critical you make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to view your home. Potential buyers may ask to see your home on short notice. It’s best if you can accommodate these requests if at all possible. You never know which one will be the buyer that will fall in love. Yes, showing your home can be a life interruption, but the more accommodating you are, the sooner your house will sell.

Offers and Negotiations

If everything goes well, a buyer (and most often the agent who represents them) will present your agent with an offer. Traditional real estate marketing statistics tell us that if your home is priced well and in good condition, and if the marketing is effective, you should get an offer for every 11 showings. True story!

If you aren’t getting offers, you should revisit your price and the condition of your home. Your agent will have solicited showing feedback which will be constructive and helpful in determining what adjustments you’ll need to make.

Congratulations! Your Home is Under Contract

Your agent will present all offers and the benefits and risks of each one. You will have the opportunity to either accept or counter any offer based on is merits. Sometimes negotiations can take several rounds until you have a “meeting of the minds” with the buyer. The best advice during negotiations: Don’t let emotions rule.

At this point, you and the buyer have agreed to all of the terms of the offer and both parties have signed the agreements. Now you have a “ratified” contract.

Final Details

During the time period from contract to closing, which these days can take from 45 to 60 days, your agent will stress that “time is of the essence”. Any contingencies that you have agreed to have time frames that must be kept. The buyer will usually perform a physical home inspection. They may ask for certain repairs. Your agent will help you understand your options and negotiate regarding the home inspection.

While under contract, the buyer (90% of the time will be financing the home purchase) will work with their mortgage provider to finalize the loan and perform other due diligence. There will be an appraisal and a pest inspection, among other items.

Closing Day

After all contingencies have been met, the buyer’s file goes to underwriting. Within a short time the transaction will go to closing. This is the transfer of funds and ownership. The buyer will do a final walk-through shortly before settlement and you will need to be all packed up and moved out, unless there was some other arrangement.

Finish Line: MovingA road map for home sellers

Your Realtor® will be helpful in referring a good moving company if you need one. Real estate agents are experienced at moving people in and out of homes and want to make sure the entire process goes well from start to finish. Moving the family and the stuff, and even the pets is all part of the process. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of a road map for home sellers!

Make or Break Success: Choosing the Right Real Estate Professionals

When you are considering selling your home, contact an experienced Maryland agent, like Chris Highland, as early as possible in the process. Getting the proper advice all along the way will assure you the greatest chance of success. Selling your home for the most money in the shortest amount of time is always the best goal. Use an agent who has your priorities as their priorities and you will do well. A road map for home sellers is your best place to start understanding the process.
Contact Us for our High-Touch High-Tech Listing Plan
Chris Highland
Cell: 301-401-5119
eXp Realty – 888-860-7369
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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 popular site for consumers to see homes for sale, no question. If you are looking at homes for sale in your local market, however, I recommend using a local real estate website search, like ChrisHighland.com. Zillow has some good information, like demographics and statistics on an area and maps. But, as the meme points out below, Realtors have strong feelings about Zillow. 

inaccuracy of zillow

 

Two Aspects of the Zillow Website that Have Low Value

There are two aspects of the Zillow website that I don’t find value in:

  1. ‘Zestimates’, and their lack of accuracy in listing information.  The listings many times can be out of date as to their status, and the
  2. Zestimates are very often off by a significant percentage.

[In a  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.]

The Flaw is in How Zestimates Are Calculated

Zestimates have been wrong more than they’ve been right. 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.

zestimates are zillows weak spot
Even children are aware there is a difference in housing!

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 one 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.

 

Any online valuation is just a rough estimate of value. The best thing to do is contact your local REALTOR® to determine true values.

 

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.

Case Study on Home Values of Frederick Neighborhoods
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 Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM’s). Unfortunately, when the rates adjusted after the values had fallen…these neighborhoods were filled with short sales.

Comparable home sales were difficult to calculate with a generic mathematical equation. As a local Realtor we monitor the trends in the marketplace and know how to determine market values.

Pricing Accuracy is the Key When in Listing Your Home

Consumers using Zillow think the estimates are real. The aspect of listing accuracy doesn’t cross their mind when they are looking online for homes for sale. Zillow is the most trafficked website in the real estate sphere, but the least accurate in almost every respect. (Popular doesn’t always mean it’s valuable)

However, consumers regularly find inaccuracies. We get contacted osten about homes that are listed on Zillow as active, but have either been under contract for 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 pre-foreclosures, 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, after all, 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 agents publish be accurate, to the best of our ability.

Why Does Accuracy Matter When It Comes to Real Estate Data?

“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.

“But Zillow Says…”

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.

How False Estimates Affect 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 a false sense of home values, many times grossly false, 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 of Zestimates on Zillow

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.

 

Sellers: Did you know you can help improve your zestimate accuracy?

 

Zillow Lawsuits Are on the Rise

There have been several lawsuits against Zillow in recent years…this time they are being sued for their Zestimates violating federal Antitrust laws. A New Jersey management company just filed yesterday (Jan. 15, 2017) claiming Zillow is giving preferential treatment to preferred brokerages, by selectively allowing certain brokerages to “conceal” the display of Zestimates on their listings. Wow. If that is true, that does seem like it may be an antitrust issue. I’m not an expert, but antitrust means restraining free trade.

In last year’s lawsuit, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is still pushing Zillow to settle RESPA claims, regarding their co-marketing program under which a lender pays Zillow to appear in advertising alongside a real estate agent. The CFPB is under scrutiny under this administration, but it still has a lot of scary power.

In 2016 Zillow settled a $130 million lawsuit with competitor Move Inc. over stealing trade secrets and poaching executives. (Zillow and the executives admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement). These lawsuits and payouts seem to not be affecting Zillow’s business at all. But it does indicate a lot of dissatisfied people.

Also in 2017, Zillow had a lawsuit dismissed. A group of homeowners sued over the alleged damage to their home selling prospects by inaccurate Zestimates. Judges have dismissed a total of four lawsuits to date, according to Forbes.

Three Things I Wonder About Zillow

How do these continual lawsuits and settlements affect Zillow’s business? We see that in many recent quarters they operated at a loss.

A second thought, I wonder if these multiple lawsuits from people claiming damage, even though dismissed, brought on the attention of the CFPB? Just a wondering real estate agent…

For buyers and sellers who may not be aware, Zillow charges agents and lenders advertising fees for placement on their website. When you see a house listed, you see several professionals listed with the house. They are there because they paid to be there.

Over the last few years, the amount they charge has skyrocketed in a lot of areas of the country. I keep wondering if this is because of the enormous settlements they keep paying on these lawsuits, and if at some point, agents and lenders are going to say, “enough”, the return on investment is not enough to warrant it. What will happen to the quality of Zillow’s website, which in many real estate agent’s opinions is already gone down the tubes.

Bottom Line

Lawsuits aside, Zillow is the public’s favorite, with over 160 million monthly visitors! As I first said, the website has a lot of great information for consumers. Real estate professionals advise their clients to take Zestimates with a grain of salt.

All online algorithms like Zestimates and valuations from other platforms are inaccurate. They are machine computations. Estimates are just that, estimates. Similarly, a lot of the appraisals that are conducted by licensed appraisers are also inaccurate and often come in lower or higher than what they should. Nothing beats local market knowledge. “Boots on the ground” Realtors® are the ones behind all of the stats and demographics, not an online algorithm. Count on a local, experienced professional, like Chris Highland with eXp Realty, to give you the most accurate data.

Additional References on Zillow and 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 Zestimates and Zillow:

 


This article was updated January 16, 2017, from it’s original publish date of May 4, 2015.

To see your central Maryland home Value (an accurate one!), 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

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Cell: 301-401-5119
Broker – 888-860-7369

Sellers Myth: I Need to Price My Home Higher For Negotiating Room

Sellers Myth: I Need to Price My Home Higher For Negotiating Room

Home Sellers Myth: “Negotiating Room”

Often we hear this sellers myth about negotiating room when they determine a list price. They ask “How much negotiating room should I leave when pricing my home?.” On first thought, this logic may make sense, but for real estate sales, it doesn’t really work that way. In many ways real estate sales is not like other types of sales. In real estate, the very first step in negotiating, is getting people to come see your home in the first place. The second step is getting your home on the top of their list. An overpriced home does just the opposite on both steps.

When I bought 3 silk scarves in a Turkish bazaar, the negotiating principals followed this logic: Both parties know that the item is priced at the high end, and both parties know and expect the back-and-forth negotiation to take place. When negotiating over scarves with a shop owner in Turkey, (a fierce negotiation I might add!) it is really a two dimensional proposition – I want the scarves, but I only want to pay X. The shop owner wants to sell me the scarves and he wants as much as he can get. After we haggle, we come to an agreement on just what that amount is. Real Estate is different; the negotiation is multi-dimensional.

There are so many more moving parts to a real estate negotiation. Buyer and seller must come to a “meeting of the minds” about many things:

  • Time Frames – Buyers need to settle and move in within a time frame, sellers need to make sure the settlement coincides with their next move.
  • Loan Approval Contingencies – Buyers need time to get their loan approval; time varies with the type of loan.
  • Appraisal Contingency – Appraisals can come in high or low, adding a new layer of negotiations.
  • Inspection Contingencies – Inspections often reveal repairs or replacements that require further negotiation.
  • Closing Costs – Buyers may ask for closing cost help.
  • There are more moving parts and many that are equally important in either the buyer or seller’s goals.

Real Estate Negotiation Basics

There are several misunderstandings surrounding the topic of real estate negotiation. Maybe television is to blame. #toomuchHGTV. Pricing a home higher to have negotiating room usually backfires. In over 25 years of real estate, we’ve rarely known this tactic to work. Here are the reasons:

1. In our present market, well-priced homes in great condition are selling in days. (our listing at in New Market Md sold in 3 days). When a home is listed at market value, as determined by a Comparative Market Analysis, (CMA) buyers will come to see it. Their buyer’s agent, also doing a buyer’s version of a market analysis, will tell them something like, “If you want this home, this is a price that is right with the current market…” In the case of competing offers, which happens when the inventory is low, (something we’ve been experiencing for about a year) it’s even more important to understand current values.

sellers myth negotiating room
Real Estate Ad – 1911

If a home is overpriced, the buyer’s agent will advise their buyer that it is overpriced, in their opinion.

After more than 100 years of the licensing of real estate agents, the industry has become proficient at keeping meaningful statistics about home sales.

Real estate agents who study their industry and have local knowledge of neighborhood trends will give the best advice to their buyers.

Here is a meaningful statistic:

If a home is priced at market value and in great condition concerning other comparative homes, every 10 to 11 showings will net one offer.

If this is not the case, the home is overpriced, or in need of improvement in it’s condition.

Overpricing Eliminates Eligible Buyers

2. By listing your home at a higher price, you eliminate buyers before they ever get a chance to see it. If a buyer doesn’t qualify for the higher price, or if it is out of their desired budget, you won’t get them through the door.

You will, however, succeed in getting buyers into the home who are looking in that price range. The problem is that they will be looking for more because they are in that higher price range. Don’t forget, the are comparing your home to other homes in that price range. Your  home will be disappointment in the comparison. The net result is that you’ll make the competition look better and help them get their home sold.

Overpricing Lengthens Time On Market

3. You run the serious risk of staying on the market longer. The longer your home stays on the market, compared to the average selling time for your neighborhood and comparative homes, the worse it gets for you. Remember, buyers have agents who have access to the same statistics. You risk having a stigmatized home. In these cases, buyers start to believe that something is either wrong with the home, or the home seller.

If the average selling time is 60 days, and your home has been sitting on the market for 180 days, the buyer thinks two things:

a) What’s wrong with the house?

b) The seller must be desperate. Get ready for lowball offers in this case.

The Appraisal Trumps All

4. Unlike so many other types of sales, the real estate purchase has what we like to call “the second sale” – the Appraisal. In about 90% of real estate sales the home is being financed and must be appraised. There is a strong likelihood that the buyer who wants your home will be buying it with lender financing. The bank will never knowingly lend more money to the buyer than the home is worth. Therefore, the agreed-upon purchase price MUST be proven through a bank appraisal before the loan is approved.

So you see, it doesn’t matter what a seller thinks their home is worth. The home’s worth is determined by

a) what a ready and able buyer is willing to pay, according to the present market, AND, most importantly,

b) what the lender is willing to lend, according to the present market.

How do I Correctly Price My Home?

So, how do you come up with the correct list price? You want a price that will get showings and offers without underpricing a home. I’ve got some great reads for you on figuring out a proper list price from several of my blogging friends. Check out these helpful articles:

  • In How To Price My Home for Sale, written by Paul Sian, real estate agent in Cincinnati, Paul explains the method agents use to come up with a price range for a listing. As Paul warns, unfortunately, some agents will use pricing tricks to convince a seller to list with them.
  • Kyle Hiscock, real estate agent in Rochester, NY, explains in depth what a Comparative Market Analysis is, in his thorough article, What is a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) in Real Estate?
  • In her article, 7 Top Myths About Home Pricing, Eileen Anderson in Connecticut, explains several mistakes that sellers can make in pricing their home that could jeopardize their home sale.
  • Xavier De Buck, a top Johannesburg real estate agent, shares real examples of what could happen if a seller listens to the promises of an untrustworthy real estate agent, in Real Estate’s Dirty Little Secret And Why It’s Costing You Money!
  • Bill Gassett, Metrowest MA area Realtor, explains What is Value Range Pricing, a method of pricing a home that some agents might use. I agree with Bill on this one. As Bill points out, it’s more of a gimmick than it is a valuable method of pricing a home. Take a look and see if you agree.
  • In his informative article, Understanding Real Estate Market Conditions, Jeff Nelson in Baldwin County Alabama, explains how market conditions really work to determine what the proper price of a home should be.

Sellers Myth: I Need to Price My Home Higher For Negotiating Room

There are always myths that circulate regarding real estate sales. Home buyers and sellers can make sure they don’t fall for these myths by finding an experienced, ethical and local real estate professional. If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2018, give us a call, we’ll help you find that reputable professional among our associates across the country. 301-401-5119

Negotiation Myths

 

Real estate negotiation is an art all to itself. My friend from the Turkish bazaar knows his scarves, but he doesn’t know real estate! Home Sellers Myth: Negotiating Room was written by Chris and Karen Highland.

Related Articles for Sellers regarding Home Selling:


Get Your Online Home Valuation


Contact Chris Highland for our High Tech/Real Touch Sellers Marketing Plan: 301-401-5119, Broker:  888-860-7369. We’re happy to give you a complimentary CMA – Comparative Market Analysis.

 

Photo Credit: Istanbul - Grand Bazaar by Didier Baertschiger, on Flickr

Five Reasons to Sell Your Home in the Winter

Five Reasons to Sell Your Home in the Winter

Five Great Reasons to Sell Your Home in Winter

Spring has historically been the “real estate selling season” in most people’s minds. Many home owners believe it is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand increases at that time of year. There are, however, advantages to selling during the cold seasons; here are five reasons to sell your home in winter.

1. Only Serious Buyers Are Out five reasons to sell your home in winter

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered by the casual ‘lookers’. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

There are also buyers who begin their home search in the winter and early spring, hoping to “get a jump” on the market. Although every year is different, the inventory is typically tight during those winter and early spring months, meaning…

2. There Is Less Competition

Housing supply always decreases at this time of year. This year the number of distressed properties being liquidated by the banks (in the form of foreclosures & short sales) have slowed to a trickle in Frederick Md. However, for those buyers looking for a non-distressed property, the choices will be limited. If your home is on the market when the inventory is tight, you’re at an advantage.

A caveat: You’ll still want to make sure your home is in it’s best condition. Today’s buyers are savvy and the majority are looking for move-in ready. When they see too many flaws, the offer price starts to decline.

3. The Process Can Be Quicker

With fewer home sales taking place during the winter, the length of time it takes from getting a contract to closing can be shorter. The winter is traditionally slower for real estate sales, which is in itself an advantage for a seller.

4. This is a Great Time to Move-Up

If you want to move up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 10 to 12% from now to 2020. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with historically low interest rates right now. There is no guarantee rates will remain at these levels in years to come.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is waiting for an expectation more important than being with family? Is holding to an earlier plan more important than your health? Is waiting for any preconceived reason more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You probably already know the answers to the questions we’ve just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home properly for your market, to guarantee it sells. Only you can decide if the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the next phase of your life.

If your reasons for selling are compelling, don’t let the common myths and misunderstandings that always circle around keep you from getting to your goals. Whatever the time of year, people successfully buy and sell homes. Your long-term goals can be achieved, no matter the season.

Contact Chris Highland  for our High-Tech/High Touch Sellers Plan

Selling your home in Winter

Five reasons to sell your home in winter was written by Chris and Karen Highland, Frederick Maryland real estate agents, serving buyers and sellers in Frederick County and surrounding counties of Montgomery, Howard, Carroll and Washington.

Virtual Remodeling and Decorating

Virtual Remodeling and Decorating

Want a better way to decorate, renovate, or prepare your Frederick home for sale? Rather than running to every store to check out every possible combination of paint, flooring materials, countertops, fixtures, appliances and furniture, it’s now possible to do all of the leg-work virtually. Virtual remodeling and redecorating is no longer a future promise. You can view a large number of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites, as well as other cloud-based tools and apps for homeowners.

Virtual Remodeling and Redecorating

Home Improvement? Thanks to today’s technologies, you can do so from your desktop, laptop or your tablet or your smartphone. Most likely… There’s an app for that! 

virtual remodeling and redecorating

Big Brand Stores

It is now possible to view an amazing selection of decorating options by working with the free design software offered on many home-store web sites. Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA and other major retailers offer on-line visitors the opportunity to experiment with virtual remodeling and redecorating tools without ever leaving the comfort of their home or office chair.

1. On the Home Depot website, DIY designers can virtually remodel every room of a home, from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen.  While in the kitchen, homeowners can use the “Kitchen Visualizer”, with the ability to choose by brand, kitchen layout, or style. With this tool one can combine paint colors with cabinet and flooring options.  Appliances can be added in white, black or stainless, with a choice of several kinds of cabinets.  You can finish it off with multiple types and shades of countertops…you might have a beautiful end product, or you might find that your imagination is a nightmare! In that case, you simply direct your mouse to start over again.

The Home Depot Mobile App is a great tool to use “augmented reality” to see how a new door, or faucet, or appliance… or practically anything, will look like on or in your home. And of course, you can snap a picture and share it with friends and family. The same principle applies when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.  The software provides opportunities to create color palettes, save design schemes and even order paint, floor coverings and other products on-line.

2. On the IKEA website, several helpful tools are available for planning your rooms as well as your storage solutions. With most of the design groups and with major rooms, there is a “plan your storage” solution.

IKEA’s Kitchen Planner Tool allows a kitchen to be created from dimensions the user supplies.  This kitchen remodeling software also allows users to add and remove cabinets, change drawer fronts and handles, replace the work tops and appliances.  Once the design is complete, the final plans can be emailed to IKEA’s Home Shopping Kitchen Consultants who will review the plan and provide information on appliances, sink, faucets, countertop and interior fittings.

3. Using Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer, reinventing a home on-line is made simple.  Users have the choice of redesigning a room from scratch or using one of the room templates that is available through the software.  The redesigned rooms can be viewed from a variety of angles and perspectives.  The final designs can be saved and printed.


HGTV:

Our 8 Favorite Decorating Apps


Home Improvement Websites

4. On the General Electric website, do-it-yourselfers can choose a kitchen that most closely resembles their own from a variety of kitchen design photos.  The kitchen can be reassembled from the floor up, and colors and product options are many.  Clicking on a appliance or other kitchen feature brings up information about each model.

5. House Beautiful website has a Custom 3-D Design tool for designing your dream kitchen (with Tyler Florence, no less!) You can try out new cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and accessories with a drag-and-drop feature to create a custom, 3D design.

virtual remodeling and redecorating Virtual Tools

6. Google offers a free design tool that allows users to create 3D virtual models of any room in a home, including the bathroom, kitchen and living area. The level of technical savvy is a bit more complicated with Google SketchUp, but the rewards are many.

The tool projects rooms from different angles and the angles can be changed at any point.  A home can even be viewed from the outside looking in. The elements library provides templates for couches, beds and kitchen tables to see how they look within the layout.  Other features of Google SketchUp include creating blueprints of the designs, and printing out layouts to take to a contractor or hardware store.

7. I just read about a new app, called TapMeasure, that you can use to easily measure spaces and objects. You can create 2D floor plans and simple measurements, as well as use it for “smart leveling,” to make sure your pictures are perfectly straight. The service also features something called 3D Room Builder which basically lets you create a 3D model of your space quickly, where it can then be uploaded to 3D modeling software, SketchUp. ⇑ You can add doors, windows, whatever you might have in the space, and generate accurate models of your room because TapMeasure is constantly measuring everything for accurate representations.

Sadly, it doesn’t work on my iPhone 6…it’s too old. 🙁

Here’s a video demonstration on TapMeasure:

 

8. Magic Plan takes photos of your space and converts them into floor plans with accurate measurements. This tool is perfect for virtual remodeling and redecorating. For an added fee, these plans can be exported in PDF, JPG, and DXF formats to share with contractors, designers, or realtors.  Available for iOS; free

9.  Home Design 3D Gold A new interior or exterior design plan is as easy to devise as dragging and dropping. This architectural app lets you import floorplans and change the space itself. You can visualize new openings, raise ceilings, or take out entire walls. Then add in the furniture and other amenities of your choice. Work in either 2-D or 3-D, and share projects with collaborators who can make modifications with you in real time. $9.99 for Android and iOS

Virtual Landscaping

10. On the Better Homes and Garden website, free software is available not just for room planning, but to help sculpt the landscape of front and back yards.  The software, Plan-a-Garden, allows the homeowner to design anything from a patio-side container garden to the entire yard.  Utilizing the “drag-and-drop” method, users can select and view more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers for their landscape.  Dozens of structures like buildings, sheds, fences, decks — even a pond can also be added to the picture. The software then allows the designs to be printed to take to home centers and garden stores.

All of these sites are full of how-to’s and tutorials, videos, and blog articles, as well as photos galore for inspiration.

As you can see, the choices are many for virtual design tools. Any DIY homeowner can get a good start on updating or personalizing their home. Even if you plan on hiring a professional, these tools can be very useful for initial planning and visualizing what you want to accomplish. And they can be fun to use!

Design Inspiration

11. My favorite site for inspiration, planning, organizing, saving and even buying, is Houzz.com. You can set up your own “ideabooks” and save images, designs and products you like. You can follow your friends and find professionals in your area. If you sign up for Houzz, be sure to find me there and follow me! I’m always interested in anything concerning decorating and home improvement.

And be sure to join me on Pinterest! I’m looking forward to receiving and sharing all the good ideas!

Follow The Highland Group’s board Decorating Trends 2015 on Pinterest.


Choosing a Paint Color

12. Color Capture: Benjamin Moore’s cool app allows you to snap a picture of any color inspiration you see. It will match you to the most exact paint available to purchase from its collection of 3,300 color options.

13. Color911 Create and save color palettes for your next decorating project with the Color911 app. Color specialist Amy Wax has generated more than 80 downloadable color themes. Additionally, you can create a palette based on a photograph taken on your device and organize favorite colors into folders, then share by email.  Available for iOS; $4

14. ColorSnap  Sherman-Williams has solved your desire to splash the palette of your favorite landscape—or textile, or work of art, or any other source of inspiration—onto your interior. The app can analyze the colors of any photo on your smartphone and let you know which shade of Sherman-Williams paint it matches.  A 1,500-shade inventory makes it very handy. Free for Android and iOS

Shopping Appsvirtual remodeling and redecorating

15. LikeThat Decor: When you see a piece of furniture you like, take a picture on your phone, and the app will instantly match you with similar pieces available to purchase. It makes shopping super easy.

16. Rooomy Visualizing how new furniture will look in a space can be a challenge. This app has the ability to convert 2-D photos into 3-D renderings. Rooomy allows homeowners and designers to envision different configurations of art and furnishings in a specific space, with direct links to retailers when they settle on the perfect pieces. Available for iOS; free

Bonus App!

17. iHandy Level – a must when it comes to hanging shelves or art, iHandy level is a super-sensitive digital device to ensure that everything in your home hangs straight. Free, available for iOS and Android

Here’s to more doing! If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.


Thanks to David Goldberg for contributing to portion of this article on virtual remodeling and redecorating.  David Goldberg is our home inspector of choice, we’ve been referring our buyer clients to David for over 25 years.  He’s the best:)

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector
phone: 301-913-9213
fax:  301-774-4554
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

Chris Highland with eXp Realty
Frederick, Md  21701
301-401-5119 Direct
888-860-7369 Broker

“What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

“What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

Sellers Ask: “What Are The Most Important Things To Do To Get My Home Ready to Sell?”

When we get the question, the answer differs of course, depending on the individual and their house. But there are a few general guidelines that are universal.  There are several things that are not necessarily major items, but are very important.  They have a huge return on investment (ROI) because for the most part, they cost your time and energy. Let’s see how to best “Get my home ready to sell!”

1.  First Impressions

What the buyer sees when they first drive up to your house makes an impression through which the rest of your house is judged.  Really.  The easiest thing to do is to tidy up the front of the house.  Clean up the old, dead plant growth, and if the season is right, plants and flowers are welcoming. If you don’t have the space, some planters will be a great touch.

Get My Home Ready to SellClean the walkways and front steps, rent a power washer if necessary.  Repair wood rot on the trim, and above all else, paint the front door.  Replace old dingy door handles and the kick-plate.  A fresh coat of paint and welcoming entryway says, “this home is well-cared for.” This is one first impression that really matters.

2.  Buyers want to see your house, not your stuff

Declutter!  Rent a storage unit, have it hauled away, give it to charity, have a yard sale…whatever you need to do to get rid of it.  After you’ve done that, go through your house again, and see if there is anything you missed.  Pare down your closet, it looks like you have more space.  Put away small appliances and crocks in the kitchen, make as much counter space as you can without making it look barren. Pack away knick-knacks, collectibles, and photos as much as you can. De-personalizing is an important part of de-cluttering. It’s a woman’s preference, but if you can, put fresh flowers out before a showing.

3. Clean, then clean, and then clean some more

I’ve seen it with buyers over and over again, they can’t get past the dirt to see the house. Sometimes it helps to have a pair of fresh eyes to see the dirt we’ve just gotten used to.  This includes shampooing the carpet, and cleaning the floors well. Don’t forget the corners and out-of-the-way places. You’d be surprised where buyers look!

Get My Home Ready to Sell Cleaning also includes eliminating odors: pet odors, cooking spices and smelly athletic shoes. As with the other senses, it can help to have a friend come to your home and let you know what their first impression is. Sometimes we grow insensitive to the smells of our environment when we are there every day.

Remember: eliminate the smell when you get ready to sell.

 

4. A fresh coat of paint covers a multitude of sins…

and it doesn’t cost that much. Make sure its in neutral colors, and by neutral, I don’t necessarily mean white and beige. Avoid highly unusual designs, strong colors, or anything that is extreme. After all, you want your space to look good to the widest possible audience. In all your choices aim for universal appeal.

When choosing a color, consider the light in each room and how the color works with your things. It’s smart to get several small cans in varying hues and paint a sample in several rooms. Consult a stager if you are in need of good advice…we know a few.

5. Make the small repairs.

Even though they are small, they speak loudly. They shout out to buyers, “If they let the small things go, how have they handled the large things?” Then they continue to nag the buyers with hints of “deferred maintenance” well after they leave your home. A tube of caulk, a screwdriver and wrench, some spackle and paint are tools every homeowner should have.

Take a good look at the grout if you have ceramic tile. Give it a good cleaning and re-grout any areas that are chipped. If you don’t want to do an entire re-grouting job, and if you just can’t get it clean, there are some good grout stains on the market. They’re super easy to roll into the grout line.

And get some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers! The. Best. Tool. Ever!

These are some of the most important things every seller can do, no matter what the budget says. So make sure you do these before you start putting money into improvements and costly repairs. It doesn’t have to be expensive to “get my home ready to sell!”

Chris Highland 

eXp Realty – Text: 301-401-5119
Broker – 888-860-7369
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