6 Tips to Make Your Home For Sale Stand Out

The following is a guest post from Franz Diessner & Joe Overland with Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, WA.

Bringing your home to the market presents a variety of questions, challenges and doubts for every seller.  When it’s time to select your real estate broker, pay careful attention to the suggestions they provide on how to best showcase your home.  An experienced listing broker will provide valuable insight on buyer expectations and guide you on how to position your home against competing properties.

Although many real estate markets across the country are experiencing strong, even robust buyer demand, sellers can’t take that for granted.  Here are some expert tips to make your home stand out against competitors:

Curb Appeal – Take a drive through the neighborhood.  Does your home blend in? If so, how can you make it stand out?  It could be simple fixes like new porch lights, power washing the sidewalks and driveway, fertilizing your lawn, and planting seasonal flowers.  A yard in bloom always sells best.  A yard in gloom means doom.  Take care of those pesky weeds, blackberry bushes, or overgrown shrubs.  Sometimes bigger projects are needed.  When was the last time you painted the house?  You might be overdue.

Interior Condition – What’s that smell?  I’m not sure, but it needs to go away!  Sometimes it’s in the carpet.  Sometimes it’s in the paint.  Wherever it is, find it and fix it.  Before you put your home on the market, make sure it gets a thorough cleaning.  Does your home feel dated?  I keep hearing brass is back!  That doesn’t mean the dining room light fixture you installed in 1982 is relevant now.  It’s time for a refresh!  There’s no need to spend gobs of cash, but a home that feels current will always fetch a higher price.  Simple fixes can help you overcome buyer’s negative feedback before they ever walk through the door.  Sometimes a homeowner’s idea of “style” doesn’t resonate with buyers.  Positioning your home for mass market appeal using neutral paint, fixtures and furnishings will help the offers start rolling in.

Staging – Less is more.  Take down the family photos. Thin out the bookcases, knick-knacks, lace doilies, etc.  You know who you are!  It’s time to admit it, then let your real estate broker help you.  This is the hardest step in the process for mort sellers and typically where brokers get the most push-back.  Coming to the realization that you’re actually moving can be difficult, especially when you’re leaving behind so many wonderful memories.  Just remember, you’re not selling the memories, just the house.  The best approach is to pack like you’re ready to move.  You’re going to have to do it eventually.  If you’re going to live in the home while it’s on the market, it may be a good idea to accessorize with some staging items to help complete your furnishings.  If the home is vacant, talk with your broker about having the home professionally staged.  Buyers have a hard time visualizing furniture in an empty space.  Will it fit?  Give them something to help them envision the space.

Professional Photography – If your real estate broker doesn’t do it… find a different broker! Over 90% of buyers start their search online.  The photos they see are your home’s first impression and photos of vacant rooms are downright boring.  Buyer’s click past them without a second look.  Give them something to focus on and they’ll linger to imagine living in that space.  This is a no-brainer.

Deferred Maintenance – Remember that honey-do list?  Did you ever get any of those things done?  It’s time to start.  Buyers don’t need a home to be perfectly remodeled, but they do want to know a home has been well maintained.  Before you list, make sure to take care of the projects you’ve been procrastinating on. From the roof to the basement, they’re hidden all over.  Walk through your home with your real estate broker and decide which ones should be done before the For Sale sign goes up.  Things like cleaning the roof & gutters, furnace maintenance, paint touch-ups, checking the crawl space & attic, and fixing dripping faucets will help make inspections go more smoothly.

Identify Your Target Buyer – Your real estate broker can develop a buyer profile to determine who the likely buyers are in your area.  Use the buyer profile to assist in deciding which projects to focus on before listing your home for sale.

Regardless of location or home value, these universal tips will help your home stand out against the competition.  It takes a lot of work to get your home ready for the market.  Sometimes sellers find it so daunting that the tasks become overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance.  Just remember that all the time and energy you put into the market preparation will often result in a far better selling experience at the negotiation table.

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Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Getting ready to sell your house? We asked our global Coldwell Banker network for their best advice for those prepping their homes. Check out what they had to say.

Get Inspected

sell1 Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Get the home inspected and address any necessary repairs now before it becomes an issue during negotiations.” says Susan Heckman, Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. At the same time you should also check with your town to ensure there are no open permits on your home.

Believe me, I know how scary the word inspection is but this is one of those things that will hang over your head until it gets done. Make the appointment and get it off your mind now.

Curb Appeal Matters

The first impression of your home is incredibly important. Buyers who have the ability to do a “drive by” will and if what they see on the outside doesn’t look good then chances are they are going to skip on checking out the inside.

“Buyers sense “Pride in Ownership” from the moment they drive up and want to be the people who love their home. Make it feel like a place to “come home from work to”, “raise a family in”, “retire into.” It’s important to demonstrate the benefit of the features, not the features themselves. That’s what HOME is all about. Convey the dream.” -Alec Schwartz, Coldwell Banker Preferred

Stand in front of your house and determine what areas of your front yard and home look tired. For some it might just require quick fixes. For example, “a quick coat of paint will make your entrance sweet and inviting” says Teresa Congioloso with Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty, Inc.

door Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Whatever it is that your home needs start thinking about it now. “Start clearing away the outside from any winter debris. Getting the home ready for a beautiful spring yard takes time, and shouldn’t wait until its already spring to start” says Lauren Lehr from Coldwell Banker Conroy Marable Holleman. Once you do the work have your real estate agent come over and take the listing photos, that way your hard work is captured on camera and your home is presented to potential buyers at it’s very best.

Pay attention to every detail from small things like the mail box all the way up to your landscaping. Here are some ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for less.

Transition into Spring

Andrea Geller, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, suggests removing all signs of winter. “Once you have removed dead foliage from the outside, bring your attention to the inside. Get rid of auxiliary heaters. If you live in a condo make sure the hallways have been cleaned of trails of salt from boots. The remnants of winter in the common areas give the impression to potential buyers that the association does not properly maintain the building.”

Take this time to swap out your seasonal decor. For example, put away the heavy blankets and bedspreads, swap out boot trays for throw rugs and consider adding some bright floral arrangements.

De Clutter AKA Minimize

declutter Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Remove the clutter, potential buyers for your house need to be able to visualize it as their home. By removing a few items of furniture you don’t necessarily need, some extra kitchen appliances from on top of the counters, and pictures. As strange as that last one sounds, your buyers don’t need to feel as though the eyes in the pictures are watching them!” says Scott Vinson II with Coldwell Banker Royal Realty.

As you declutter, you can pack away items you won’t need until after your move and donate or trash things you no longer want.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the best things you can do to prepare your home for sale. According to HomeGain’s Prepare to Sell 2009 national survey, the average price to paint interior walls is $500 to $750, but that increases a home price by an average of $1,500 to $2,000 — which can be a 250 percent return on investment.

“Don’t be afraid to use color” say Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite  While neutrals are the safe route to go, nice flat colors and accent walls give a home character. Gray has becoming an increasingly popular trend as well.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone to Do It!)

Imagine walking into a home smelling last night’s dinner, seeing mold on the bathroom tile and pet hair dust balls the size of desert tumbleweeds? Yuck!

A clean home will help your home sell much faster. If getting down and dirty just isn’t your thing then you can always hire someone. If you plan on doing it yourself, “remember the small details like based boards, door trim and light switches” says Lisa Heglar from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. We also suggest getting your carpets professionally cleaned.

Set a Budget

Items that you put off fixing or upgrading may be back on your radar now that you will need to present your home in it’s best light. Before you go breaking that piggy bank and completely remodeling your kitchen check out this post on How to Limit Spending When Getting a Home Ready to Sell

Get Inspiration from Other Sellers

Unless you are a professional interior decorator, staging your home will not come naturally. Check out what hundred of other homeowners just like yourself have done to make their homes “market ready” by browsing through these thousands of photos.

Let Us Help

Last but certainly not least, our favorite tip came from Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite …

“Blue, lots of blue, starting with the sign in the front yard.”

sold Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

We know it is up to you to choose a real estate agent but at Coldwell Banker our mission statement says it all “We strive to be the trusted source of innovating real estate solutions, creating exceptional experiences for all we serve.” If there is anything we can do to help you, from additional advice on prepping your home to providing you with a Comparative Market Analysis, just reach out and ask.

The post Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Housing Numbers Galore! But What Do They Mean?

Guest post from Dianne Falaguerra with our partner agency CooperKatz

Monthly housing reports always trigger headlines.  And today’s National Association of Realtors Existing-Home Sales Report for November is no exception.  Here are three nuggets of information that might get lost in the media coverage:

  1. Median existing home prices are going up: The November national median existing-home price for all housing types is $196,300.  This is $15,700 more than this time last year, and $32,100 more than November, 2011.
  2. Homes are selling fast: The median time on the market for all homes was 56 days in November, which is approximately 8 weeks. Last year at this time, the average time on the market was 70 days, approximately 10 weeks.
  3. And faster!: Maybe the most important stat was buried in the seventh paragraph.  Get this, 35% of all homes sold within 30 days.  Wow!

There is clearly demand for homes, but that demand is not being met by supply, since we also learned that inventory, the amount of homes available for sale, is at a 5.1 month supply.  While that might sound like a lot, it is a full month below a traditional balanced market of 6 months.  Therefore, in most locations around the U.S., supply is not meeting demand and therefore sellers are in the driver’s seat equating to higher prices.

One other interesting thing I find fascinating in each NAR report is the use of the term “median.”  Quick!  Are you smarter than a 5th grader?  What’s the difference between median and average home price?

Median is the exact middle point of all homes sold while the average is the cumulative sales number, divided by the number of sales recorded.

But what does a median home look like?  I thought it would be fun to see and found five Coldwell Banker listings from around the nation that matched the nation’s current median price of $196,000:

What part of today’s report interested you the most?

 

Image courtesy of Flickr user morebyless

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Five Reasons Why You Should “Real Estate” During the Holidays

Guest Blog Post by Cara Ameer 

On the holiday to do list – decorating, shopping, cooking, baking, parties, and oh yeah, buying or selling a home?  Really?  Conventional real estate wisdom has often advised buyers and sellers that once Thanksgiving arrives, they might as well hunker down and wait until next year before dealing with anything related to real estate.

If you are truly serious about moving, contrary to popular belief, the holidays may actually be an ideal time for buying and selling.  The end of year can be a time of change and typically when many people make moves for job related reasons or elective relocations for change in lifestyle, pursuing different career interests, retirement, etc.

1. Less Competition

The amount of properties for sale and actual buyers tends to dwindle this time of year.  However, of those that are out there, they tend to be truly serious and motivated, so quality vs. quantity.  As a seller, this means it’s a great time to have your home stand out and capture attention, particularly in the low inventory climate that many real estate markets are experiencing.  A new listing will most likely gain immediate interest from the most serious of buyers that have been looking and exhausted all available options.  In addition, those buyers that have been renting with leases ending towards the end of January or February can be motivated to spring into action.  Less properties on the market may mean the ability to command top dollar now.  If the buyer waits until next year before making a decision, the house could be gone as there could be more people vying for it.

 

2.  More Motivation

Around this time of year, the holiday mood can elevate everyone’s spirits and may make negotiating a bit easier.  Sellers can become a bit more flexible with their pricing as getting the home under contract before the end of the year can often be a goal, particularly if the home has been on the market for awhile.  This time of year is often when you start to see some price reductions happening and incentives offered, such as paying closing costs.  As a buyer, you may just get a nice surprise thrown in, like that furniture you wanted to ask for, or you can get creative and propose a concession that you would like the seller to consider – keep in mind terms and conditions with your loan may apply.

 

3. Buyers Never Stop Looking Online

The holidays themselves and cold weather days typically mean very heavy traffic on real estate websites.  After everyone has done their celebrating and is just hanging out, they are often on their new laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc., looking up what else – real estate!

 

4. Networking Opportunities

This time of year is one of networking, renewing friendships and establishing relationships with existing and new people. What better time with all the holiday gatherings and events that you are attending than to spread the word about your home for sale or if you are in the market to find something else to buy? Between all of the events that both you and your agent are going to, that’s a lot of people to tell about your move.  A very easy topic to discuss at parties, no matter the season as people are always interested in real estate.  Since many people may be making plans in the new year to move or transfer, you just never know who may know someone who may know someone who is in the market to buy what you have.

 

5. Home already on the market or not selling?

Consider changing your price and shifting your strategy.  Notice that I did not say reduce the price, but change it – as prices have increased in many areas of the country – want to make sure you pricing is in line with the competition and is at a number that gives it optimal positioning.  Consult your agent on changes that will have the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time – now is the time to hone in on that buyer feedback and address it.  Doing so will likely help capture attention of new buyers in the pipeline or perhaps re-engage those buyers that saw your home before but haven’t found anything yet.

Check out more great posts from Cara here.

Cara Ameer is with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Pontre Vedra Beach, Florida

Image via mytechopinion.com

The post Five Reasons Why You Should “Real Estate” During the Holidays appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Staging an Empty Home

Many homeowners find themselves in a predicament when they are forced to relocate quickly for a new job or other extenuating circumstances without having time to sell their existing homes. In these cases, most owners end up purchasing a home in their new location and selling a home that is empty in their previous location.

Selling an empty house can present challenges to individuals, because a large part of a property’s appeal is viewing it when it’s properly staged. However, there are ways to overcome this obstacle and have a successful home showing.

Rent Furniture

The most immediate solution to an empty home is renting furniture sets to spruce up a home. Traditional staging rules should still be adhered to, and individuals should seek out furniture color palettes and accent pieces that are warm and neutral. Consumers do not have to break the bank to purchase extensive sets. Instead, a basic dining room set, a living room suite and bedroom set should suffice. In addition, consumers can borrow accent pieces from friends and family members to add more color and character to the home. Lastly, bringing small appliances, pictures and warm touches from their new home allows sellers to make the house feel more welcoming and family-oriented.

Clean and Update Thoroughly

A clean home is crucial for any sale, but it can be even more imperative for empty houses. Dust on the floors, dirty windows and grime on countertops will be even more visible to potential buyers because there are fewer objects around to distract them or cover up imperfections. Pressure wash carpets, clean windows, wash walls and make sure corners, vents and ceiling fans are dust-free before a showing.

In addition, sellers may want to take advantage of the empty space and repaint walls or put in new floors to make the area appear more modern and fresh.

Don’t Ignore the Outdoors

Sellers should avoid getting too caught up with the interior of the home and pay equal attention to the exterior. Curb appeal is important in selling a home, and the landscaping and condition of the house is the first thing buyers will see when they pull up to a property. Keep grass trimmed, plant a few flower beds and make sure the home itself has been touched up to keep the outside profile looking neat.

For more ideas on staging check out our Pinterest page.

Cover image via greencavedesigns.com

The post Staging an Empty Home appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Simple Ways to Add Value to Your Home

Spring is officially here and with that, thousands of homeowners across the country will be putting their homes up for sale in the coming weeks. With the economy improving, buyers are motivated and more active than they have been in quite a long time. So if you’re thinking about putting your home up for sale this season or thinking about doing so in the future, you can do one of two things:

  1. Roll the dice and list your home as is and hope for the best
  2. Take matters into your own hands and make a few relatively inexpensive quick fixes to make your home shine above the rest

We happen to like option 2 best.

Recently, George to the Rescue’s George Oliphant met with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Ronnie Aiosa to talk about some small projects you can take on to add some real value to your home.

Here are a few of their quick tips:

KITCHEN – Undoubtedly the heart of the home and something that potential buyers pay special attention to.

  • Countertops: Upgrading your formica or other outdated coutnertops with granite is a relatively quick way to completely change the feel and aesthetic in your kitchen.
  • Paint: For just a few hundred bucks at most, you can pay a professional to apply a fresh coat of paint to your room. It’ll change the complexion immediately, making it appear brighter and much cleaner.
  • Cabinets: Buying all new cabinets can drain one’s resources, but for a few bucks you can add some pop and a more modern look by investing in new cabinet knobs.

LIVING ROOM – Where the family comes together to enjoy movies and television and quality time.

  • Declutter: You may have pieces of furnture here that are comfortable or serve a practical purpose, but you need to take a look at every piece in this room and ask yourself whether it might be worth putting it in storage. The last thing buyers want to feel as soon as they walk in is overwhelmed by clutter. Freeing up space will make the living room look bigger, homier and cleaner
  • Dress to Impress: Think of each showing as a performance. What can you do to make your home show well and make potential buyers feel at home? If you’ve got a fireplace, clean that ash out and throw some fresh logs on and light that fire. The crackling wood and warmth will sure warm any visitors heart.
  • Walls: You should also remember to be selective with what you display on your walls; pictures are nice but you don’t want to take up a whole wall with pictures of your family. Dress to impress!

BATHROOM - Buyers are looking for clean and functional spaces

  • Flooring: If you’ve got bad tiles, it’s certainly worth exploring replacing them. If your flooring is in pretty good shape, for a few bucks you can regrout the entire bathroom. You’d be amazed at the difference you’d see.
  • Paint (again): This goes for basically any room in your home. A fresh coat of paint will make your bathroom look bright, clean and inviting.
  • The Little Things: Remember, it’s the little things that count. Dust off those Venetian blinds, throw a scented candle on and give that shower/tub a great scrub; make it shine!

There’s a stat floating around that says buyers know within 30 seconds of walking into a home whether they could see themselves living there. If you want to place your home in the best possible position to capture buyers’ hearts and minds, you can undertake a few simple projects to get the job done. Even if you’re not ready to sell yet, getting a jump start now will save you headaches down the road, add value today and make your home look and feel better now.

There are a slew of other inexpensive projects you can hire someone to do or even take on yourself! Share some of your ideas in the comments section here!

Painting for a Home Sale

Making the proper impression is a major factor in attracting prospective home buyers and keeping their interest. One of the best ways to do that when selling a home is to repaint key areas of the home. The entire thing does not necessarily need a new paint job, unless the current one is significantly flawed.

Important areas

According to Paint Quality Institute expert Debbie Zimmer, determining where to apply fresh paint is as much a psychological question as anything else. As a result, the front door can be a key spot. Before prospective buyers come inside, this will form part of their first impression of the property. If it looks shabby, that perception may color their opinions of the rest of the home, even if it is in better condition. Aside from being pleasant in its own right, an attractive front door conveys the impression that the sellers have taken care of the home, a good first impression to make.

The area just inside the door is also important. This is the first part of the home’s interior that prospective buyers will get a clear view of, and can profoundly affect their opinion of the home and their ability to picture themselves living there. Zimmer notes it may be particularly important to look over any rooms where children and pets have spent significant amounts of time. The Washington Post notes that new paint can appeal more strongly to buyers who wish to avoid working on a home themselves, whereas colors they do not care for may cause them to begin thinking about the time or money they would need to spend repainting.

Coloring

To make it easier for potential future residents to imagine themselves living in the home, Zimmer recommends selecting white, off-white or another quiet color, since these appeal to most people. Home sellers should carefully consider whether to do any repainting themselves, keeping in mind that rushed or visibly unprofessional work may need to be fixed.

One real estate agent told The Washington Post repainting has an added advantage.  It can make a home look much better in photographs, an important consideration in an era where buyers commonly examine a number of houses online before determining which to visit.
photo credit: Chiot’s Run via photopin cc

How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

savingssign How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

There are several ways to keep costs low during the selling process

It is common for homeowners to think that selling a home is an expensive endeavor, which may in turn cause them to hold off on putting their home on the market. From repairs to staging the process can seem overwhelming. However, with the advice of a real estate agent, sellers often find there are several ways to keep costs low and come out on top during the selling process.

Work with a seasoned professional

Those who are unfamiliar with the selling process may try to take on everything themselves, which can lead to errors regarding documents, home staging, repairs and inspections. While many individuals initially opt for the “go-it-alone” approach to save money, working with seasoned professionals can help avoid costly errors. Real estate agents can provide sound advice on staging a home, accepting offers and enhancing listings to attract more buyers.

A home inspector is another asset consumers should take advantage of to save money. Buyers will likely hire their own inspector to examine a home, and if they find significant problems, they may ask sellers to lower their asking price or walk away altogether. However, sellers who discover issues beforehand and have them repaired may be in a better position to price their homes and mitigate potential problems.

Keep improvements to a minimum

Minor updates to a home can be helpful in attracting buyers. However, going overboard on updates to sell a home may not give sellers the kind of return they are expecting. For example, adding on an office addition or turning the basement into a den may make a home more appealing, but buyers may be unlikely to pay a great deal extra for it, according to the National Association of Realtors. Instead, sellers may benefit more from small touch-ups, such as repainting the home, adding new fixtures and hiring a landscaper to improve a property’s curb appeal.

Not sure where to start with your exterior? Realtor.com posted great suggestions that included:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.
  • Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly.
  • Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • In Northern winters, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Store RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.

In some cases, individuals who have outdated kitchens and appliances may want to undertake a larger project, such as replacing floors or countertops. Sellers who decide to take on these renovations should stick to materials used in similar homes in the neighborhood. For example, buyers may be more inclined to purchase a home if the newly-remodeled kitchen countertops are made of granite, like the neighboring homes, rather than tile.

Lawn & Garden Month: Clean Up That Yard! [Gift Card Giveaway]

Delmar, NY home

This Delmar, NY home, listed on coldwellbanker.com, has beautiful curb appeal.

With all of the lawn and garden tips we’ve highlighted this month, we’re sure you could give Martha Stewart a run for her money! We couldn’t think of a  better way to celebrate the end of Lawn and Garden month than  hosting a gift card giveaway for all our new and experienced green thumbs.

Simply leave us your  tip in the comments section below, on how you would use lawn and gardening to give a home beautiful curb appeal. Leaving your tip will automatically enter you for a chance to win a $100 gift card! The winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, May 4th, 2012. Be sure to leave your tip by May 2nd, 2012 in order to be considered.

 

Official Rules

 

Need to get those creative juices flowing? Jessica Edwards, a Sales Associate with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, talks about the importance of keeping a tidy yard and provides fantastic tips to help ensure your home has eye-catching curb appeal.

Remember…To sell your house you have got to clean up that yard!