Real Estate, Community News & More from My Desk to Yours

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Blog's Global Audience

From time to time, we like to peak at our blog's account stats and see who our audience is. The top searchers by country on our site are from:

1) USA
2) Canada
3) Russia
4) Germany
5) Latvia (interesting!)


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Caution: Before You Sell Your Home

Interview at least two or three real estate agents to get an idea of fair market value. Also ask them how many homes they have sold in the immediate area in the last year. The trouble is that if you go with the first agent you find, you might end up leaving money on the table if the market value estimate given is not a fair market value or the agent is somewhat inexperienced and has not had much training in marketing and selling.

Just the other day, I was chatting with a friend and she told me her elderly neighbor, “Sally”,  was approached by a real estate agent that was going door to door asking homeowners if they were interested in selling their homes. Some agents are doing that because Coral Gables' inventory is so low and they have nothing to sell or advertise. This “roving” agent  gave “Sally” a quick and easy estimate of a listing price. The lady does not read the papers often and had no idea how quickly the market has turned around in our town (up at least 25% from two years ago). She agreed to let the agent bring a customer by and took the first offer that came in selling her house immediately. It turns out that “Sally” probably left more than $200,000 on the table...Money that she could have made very good use of in her retirement. The property was not marketed and not placed on the MLX. It is a shame that this older woman was really unaware and should have at least asked another agent or some of her friends for advice.

In any market, it is important for your Realtor to price well so that you get top dollar and sell quickly but you need to seek an honest, professional opinion by reviewing research and comps. Ask your own neighbors, and friends and family, to recommend a good agent. You will be happy you did.

Top 25 Staging Tips to Get a Home Ready to List for Sale

There are many, many staging tips on the web but in this list below, we try to give you the most effective and inexpensive ways to get a home ready to put on the market. 

Realtors and their buyers are more likely to be interested in a home from the get-go if it is staged - this will allow the listing to sell quicker and for a higher price, maybe even getting several bids. Stage the home first so that it looks appealing to a wide variety of potential buyers, then take professional pictures to post online and print marketing materials. (You can keep a before-and-after for your own records.) 

Here are the top 25 staging tips to get a home ready to sell. This list can be useful to sellers as well as agents.
  1. Start at the curb in front of the house and walk through to the back of the house as you would during a showing. Write down anything that needs attention. Also, have a friend perform a walk-through and add her/his ideas to your list.
  2. Prune bushes and trees. Remove any dead or low lying tree limbs. Also, invest in a few flats of flowers that will last the entire growing season and add color to the front garden.
  3. Replace darker curtains with sheers that let in more sun so potential buyers can see the home in the best light.
  4. Shampoo and deodorize the carpets or refinish wood floors. Do not use incense.
  5. Wipe down and paint walls if they look worn or are an unusual color. Choose a neutral color if you repaint - something like eggshell white, linen white, or muslin.
  6. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter! Remove all knick knacks, souvenirs, personal photos, mail piles, etc. Place all money, jewelry and other valuables in a secure, out of sight location.
  7. Rearrange and remove furniture throughout the house to make rooms appear larger.
  8. "Rule of 3"  - no more than three items on top of table, dressers, kitchen counters, and the like. 
  9. Consider removing the bulk of your clothes from closets and pack them away in storage. You will need to do this soon anyway.   Anything that you can take out of the house that is not totally necessary, remove.....
  10. Clean all rooms from top to bottom, and ensure everything is dust free.
  11. Keep pets and pet food dishes and litter box outside or in the garage. 
  12. Bleach any mold or mildew you find outside and inside the house. 
  13. The bathrooms and kitchen can be brightened up by adding a few new hand towels and a soap dispenser. Keep toilet lids down and bathrooms should be unusually clean and fresh.
  14. Remove any fixtures that you do not want to include with the sale. 
  15. Clean all kitchen appliances especially the oven. Leaky faucets, jammed drawers, and broken light switches are a few repairs you can make.
  16. Keep beds made.
  17. Wash all windows and make them sparkle and keep the blinds open when showing. 
  18. Take off any screens if they are not alarmed and give maximum exposure to the view outside.
  19. Use warm, incandescent bulbs inside for a natural feel instead of the high efficiency ones that are bluish.
  20. Ensure each room has a set function. If you have a bedroom that you are using for storage (like I am) just box everything up and keep it in the garage or storage facility.
  21. Put in a bed, nightstand, lamp, and some paintings on the walls along with lovely linens to make it appear as a guest room. Four bedroom homes sell better than three, three better than two.
  22. Rent some furniture if necessary. We keep a supply in storage for our sellers to use if they need anything during the time we have the property on the market.
  23. Keep the lawn cut short and buy mulch to put around the plants and trees.
  24. Clean the siding, bricks, gutters, doorways, decks, by renting or borrowing a power washer. Clean the swimming pool, spa or hot tub.
  25. Make your home look like a hotel suite or guest cottage where someone can move right in.  This is exactly what you want to have happen.