Selling Your Home? Don't Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else

selling Lake George_ Owen & Associates Real Estate

If you're a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you've put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you're thinking: Not my problem anymore. 

Sorry, folks, we've got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn't mean you're off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that's especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.

Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail that sale.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you're still living at the home or not, you'll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.

If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so that grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance, suggests Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor® with Re/Max Reality Group in Rochester, NY.

“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull's-eye for vandals to break into your property.”

Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don't let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one's easy to forget about, even when you don't plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.

Just ask Alise Roberts, owner/broker at Alise Roberts & Company in Bellevue, WA. In the rainy Pacific Northwest climate, she frequently has to remind her clients to keep sidewalks clear of moss and clean gutters of pine needles and leaves.

"Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing," she says. "That’s a terrible first impression.”

And then there's the roof. Of course, it'll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.

“If water starts to penetrate a property, it can be a very difficult sale," Hiscock notes. "Water in basements or in homes is one of the top three things buyers are scared of.”

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.

First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won't smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you're at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.

(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)

Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.

“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add "family of raccoons included" to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.

“In a colder climate, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property,” Hiscock says.

Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, Roberts says. But if your house is on the market, it doesn't matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.

“If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that’ll really mar the showing process," she says.

Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they're especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, "We don’t live here or care anymore," Roberts says.

That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.

“Too often, I see a seller’s patio furniture still outside during the winter time. To me, that's not a good reflection on the property,” Hiscock says. “It shows deferred maintenance and lack of caring, and can really turn off a potential buyer.

"If a seller can’t put away their patio furniture and lawn mower, what makes you believe that they've actually maintained the property all the years they've been there?” he adds.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it'll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

5 Ways You're Sabotaging the Sale of Your Home

fb00dca81bce1c0aabe6934a19d2a01cw-c0xd-w685_h860_q80.jpg

So you've finally decided to put your home on the market. You've planned your first open house, begun searching for new digs, and even made a mental packing list. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the offers to roll in, right?

Well, sellers, we don't mean to freak you out, but we've got bad news: You just might be sabotaging your home sale. Obviously, that's the last thing you'd want to do, but one wrong turn—or wrong decision—could hurt your chances of landing a buyer. And the most unsettling part? You probably have no idea you're doing anything wrong.

Below are some of the ways you may be turning off buyers without even knowing it.

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE.

13 Home Staging Secrets

13 Home Staging Secrets

Highlight your home's strengths, downplay its weaknesses and appeal to prospective buyers with these secrets.

Luxurious open floor cabin interior bedroom design with roaring fireplace and winter scenic background. Photo realistic 3d model scene.

 

1. Use Color Creatively
Color can be incorporated in many ways, so don't be afraid to use it creatively. From unique pieces of art to decorative pillows, a pop of color can really catch a buyer's eye. 

2. Conquer Clutter
Throw out old belongings that simply add to a clutter-filled home.

3. Less Is More
Too much furniture is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. Consider arranging a few core pieces in your space and see the difference.

4. Float Furniture
Pull furniture away from the walls to create groups within a room and to help with the traffice flow in and through the space.

5. Mix It Up
Shake up the room's style and attitude by periodically moving furniture around and incorporating old accessories into your design in a new way. 

6. Repurpose Unused Rooms
Make that junk room into a dreamy crafts room.

7. Let Light In
Letting outside light in can brighten the space and make the room feel larger.

8. Light It Up
Most homes are improperly lit. Aim for 100 watts every 50 square feet in layers of ambient, task and accent lighting.

9. Rearrange Your Art
Displaying art in traditional ways -- in a circle at the same height around the room -- can make it invisible. Leave the stereotype behind and display art in surprising ways. 

10. Paint It Black
Looking for a chic, dramatic style? Try freshening your furniture with a coat of black paint. 

11. Accessorize With Threes
Odd-numbered groups of accessories, especially threes, tend to be more eye appealing.

12. Bring the Outdoors In
Head outside and grab some greenery from your yard to bring a fresh look indoors.

13. Make an Entrance
Creating a warm entrance to your home is welcoming to your guests.

 

Complements of HGTV

The 5 Golden Rules for Home Staging on a Budget

Staging your home properly can not only get it sold more quickly, but it can also help you net money when it sells. The best part? You don’t have to break the bank in the process. Follow this infographic by Moshells to help showcase your home’s best features.

The five golden rules are:

De-personalize

While your family photos are beautiful and your kids’ drawings on the fridge are adorable, buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the house. That means putting away your photos, clearing your closets from unnecessary clutter, and using matching hangers to give your closet more visual impact.

Maximize

Declutter and maximize the area in your home. Stuffed closets make your closet space look insufficient, so consider storing excess belongings offsite. You can also quickly improve your bedroom’s appearance by using gender neutral colors when accessorizing so that the color scheme appeals to more people. A headboard, a cohesive color scheme, and a few decorative items also improve the look of a bedroom, while removing extra clutter (office furniture, power strips, televisions, etc) will make the room feel more relaxing.

Sanitize

No one wants to move into a dirty home, so clean your home to make it much more appealing to prospective buyers. Clear your countertops to make the space look larger, and enhance the open feel with white bath and hand towels on display. Clean dirty shower doors with a solution of one part muriatic acid and ten parts water. Bathrooms and kitchens are the two essential areas of the home, and they can make or break a deal.

Modernize

A dated-looking home means a lower offer, so modernize your home wherever possible. Small changes, like replacing gold fixtures or brass and wooden cabinet hardware with nickel, chrome, brushed silver, or stainless steel, will go a long way towards updating your home. You can quickly update the look of flat appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators by using stainless steel stick-on coverings or specialty appliance paints. While you’re in the kitchen, go ahead and declutter your cabinets, drawers, and oven- buyers will look inside every nook and cranny. Also, you can make your kitchen space look larger by removing rugs.

Neutralize

Keeping a neutral color scheme can help your buyers envision themselves in your home, especially in a statement-making area like the dining room. Set the table simply to create visual interest, and add a vase with fresh flowers for a beautiful focal point. Add lighting and emphasize any natural light your home gets using a mirror and subtle lamps. Don’t forget to adjust your window treatments to maximize your staging. Keep your curtains neutral or choose ones with subtle designs; sheer curtains also let in more light so that your home looks more appealing. Set the rods as high as possible and use thin rods to maximize the space.

A few simple tweaks can increase your home’s selling price by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Use these guidelines to stage your home effectively so that you get the best possible price on your house.

Get Moving! 4 Urgent Reasons You Should Sell Your Home in 2017

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about selling your home, it might just be time to hop off. Now. To put it in other terms: 2017 is poised to be the year of the home seller, real estate experts say. So what are you waiting for?

“Sellers have been in the driver’s seat for the last two years, but this year is shaping up to be even better for several reasons,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®. “Nothing is bad for sellers today.”

A combination of factors is coming together to make 2017 a prime seller’s market for most of the nation. Here’s what’s driving it:

Reason No. 1: Mortgage rates are still low

It’s all about rates, baby. Low mortgage rates translate to lower monthly costs. Lower costs entice buyers, which is good for sellers.

Although mortgage rates have been ticking up since mid-October to slightly over 4%, the rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage—the most popular home loan—are still hovering near 30-year lows. For now.

“We expect them to hold at this (4%) level for a while and continue to adjust up,” says Danielle Hale, managing director of housing research for the National Association of Realtors®. “Mortgage rates rarely move in a straight line. They could be in the 4.6% to 4.8% range by the end of the year.”

What does that have to do with home sellers? Well, potential buyers who are armed with that knowledge might hustle to close on a home before a rate hike.

What if you’re nowhere near ready to put your house on the market? That’s OK. Even if rates nudge up by the end of 2017, they’re still expected to be low enough to seduce buyers. The tipping point is when rates reach 5%, experts say. That’s when they could put the brakes on the robust real estate market.

“If they go above 5%, we’re going to see home prices come down,” says Trevor Levin, a real estate agent with Nourmand & Associates in Los Angeles.

Reason No. 2: Inventory is shrinking

Remember in Econ 101, when you learned that low supply and high demand lead to rising prices? The same is true—in spades—for residential real estate. When inventory shrinks, available homes become more valuable. As Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing for sellers.

Let’s put it in perspective: In 2007, just before the housing crash, existing home inventory peaked at 4.04 million homes for sale, according to NAR data. Fast-forward to November 2016: There were only 1.85 million homes for sale, 9.3% lower than the year before—and a whopping 54% lower than the 2007 peak.

“Quite simply, sellers this year have the least competition,” Smoke says.

And get this: Not only are there fewer homes for sale, but the time those homes have spent on the market has decreased year over year as well. If priced correctly, the typical home should move quickly, Smoke says. And that’s another boon for sellers.

“Many potential sellers don’t want to think about having to prep a home for showings and deal with an indefinite period of having to keep things in perfect shape,” he says. “Fast-moving inventory limits that pain.”

Reason No. 3: Home prices are rising

Lower inventory and greater demand have pushed up home prices. The median existing-home price in November 2016 was $234,900, up 6.8% from November 2015, when it was $220,000, according to the NAR. And that’s no fluke. That was the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Higher prices particularly benefit the seller whose property value plunged during the recession, sometimes to less than he owed. Thanks to rising prices, many homeowners whose property was underwater can now sell without suffering a big loss.

“2017 will be a rare ‘balanced market’ for buyers, because even though mortgage rates are edging up, many sellers have recovered enough equity to be able to afford to sell,” says Colby Sambrotto, president and CEO of USRealty.com.

Reason No. 4: Job markets are strengthening

As unemployment decreases and wages (finally) increase, consumer confidence will climb. Increased confidence will spur buyers to jump into the market—which is, you guessed it—more good news for sellers.

These pieces of the puzzle create a “virtuous cycle,” Smoke says. It’s not a term he coined, but it’s one he hasn’t had a chance to use in many years.

“These things are all connected,” Smoke says. “If people are confident, they’re more likely to buy big-ticket items like houses and cars. And then they spend more money on other things. It reinforces the economy, creating a virtuous cycle.”

The only ‘bad’ news for sellers

If you sell your home today, you mostly likely will buy another. Then, all the economic factors that worked in your favor as a seller will work against you as a buyer.

Sellers have a few options. You can rent for a while, and hope that prices come down in the future. But whatever you save on the price of a house you could surrender when mortgage rates climb to 6%—as predicted for 2019 and 2020, Smoke says.

The take-home lesson: Don’t wait, because mortgage rates won’t.

“There are opportunities for a seller-turned-buyer who wants to downsize in this market,” Smoke says. “You can lock in financing rates that you’ll never see again, and very likely make the trade-off work.”

 

Preparing to Sell Your Home?

Buyers will simply flock to your home if you tackle these value adds.

Planning on selling your home in the spring? Good news — that leaves plenty of time to tackle all sorts of projects this fall that will help you snag top dollar when the tulips start blooming. Take an objective look around your home from a buyer’s perspective. What would stop you from making an offer? What do you need to do to put your home’s best face forward?

Here are some fall projects to jump on now in order for your home to be in tip-top shape for a spring sale:

 

1. Update Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is important,” says Steve Modica, sales associate and property manager at HomeXpress Realty Inc. in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla. “Make sure the bushes are all trimmed. Re-mulch or replace stone walkways and paths. Remove any dead plants and trees, and aerate your lawn so it will be lush come spring. Pressure wash the driveway, the front walk, and the exterior of your home. If need be, have the exterior of the house painted and, at the very least, apply a fresh coat of paint on the front door.

2. Get a Home Inspection

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® says 77% of homebuyers have an inspection done before completing a home purchase. To avoid nasty surprises once you’re in the process of selling your home, have your own inspection done and make any repairs over the winter months before you list the home. Homebuyers often use flaws and needed repairs to negotiate a lower price.

3. Replace Flooring and Paint Walls

Determine if your carpets need replacing or just a deep, professional cleaning. If they need to go, consider if hardwood or another flooring material might be more appealing to buyers.

You’ll also want to inspect interior rooms for dirty or scuffed walls that need a fresh coat of paint. “Paint the whole wall, don’t just do touch-up repair work, because it never looks as good,” says Modica. Also, if you have eccentric or loud wall colors, now is the perfect time to update to a more neutral palette. Stagers recommend beiges, light grays, and off-whites.

4. Tackle the Basement, Attic, and Garage

Often overlooked, these storage meccas can become a catch-all for junk. Use cool, fall weather as an excuse to get down and dirty in these hot spots and organize them from top to bottom. Install shelving, pegboards for tools, and hanging brackets for bicycles and other large sporting equipment. Your goal is to pitch the junk, sell what you no longer need, and categorize the rest. 

“Donate or recycle clothes and bedding you don’t use anymore in order to free up storage space in your closets, basement, and garage,” says Amy Bly, a home stager at Great Impressions Home Staging in Montville, N.J. These areas should look roomy, well-organized, and clean. 

5. Consult a Stager

Buyers need to picture themselves living in the house, and they may have trouble doing that if all your personal effects are on display. In order to accomplish that, a professional stager can create a plan for you that you can spend the winter months implementing. Bly spends about two hours walking through a property assessing curb appeal, interior flow, closets, bookcases, media cabinets, flooring, and more.

“I give homeowners a multi-page, room-by-room form they can use to take notes on my recommendations,” says Bly. She typically recommends things like neutralizing out-of-date decor, removing old furnishings and carpeting, and updating light fixtures. She also suggests the type of shower curtains, towels, bedding, and pillows to display for an upscale look.

Getting a jump on these fall projects will give you a leg up on selling in the spring. Today’s buyers are savvier than ever before, especially millennial first-time homebuyers who may have searched homes online for months prior to getting in the field. More than just listing your home in the spring, you want to make it’s as perfect as possible. That means everything works and looks immaculate, and there are no glaring issues that will turn off buyers. When you’re ready, have a friend or relative drop by for a tour and point out anything you may have overlooked.

Owen & Associates Marketing Strategy

Owen & Associates extends far beyond what a conventional brokerage firm offers. It envisions itself as both a lifestyle company committed to informing and connecting with communities, and as a creative agency offering design, marketing and sales solutions for buyers and sellers.  We collaborate with clients to design and implement a tailored, full-service marketing strategy for each new listing at Owen & Associates, utilizing our relationships with traditional and new media outlets – and leveraging the most emergent technologies and social media strategies – to ensure maximum exposure for every property we represent.


1 week of exposure: 10,000+ views.

8 Signs a Home Buyer Isn’t Serious

If all those excited home buyer declarations like “This place is just perfect for us” and “I have to have it!” were binding, selling houses would be a breeze. But, as with everything in life, it’s not what people say, it’s what they do that really matters.

Still, it’s hard for home sellers to not get their hopes up when a buyer’s gushing over their home—only to be disappointed when the buyer disappears without a peep.

So what are some signs a buyer isn’t serious about your home?

It’s a good thing experienced Realtors® can tell the difference between the buyer who means business and the one who has no intention of actually sealing the deal—and that these pros graciously agreed to clue us in.

Do any of the following red flags sound familiar? Keep each in mind, and you can save yourself the drama of dashed hopes.

Sign No. 1: The buyer is flying solo

If a buyer doesn’t have a real estate agent yet, he probably isn’t serious about shopping for a home.

“Buyer’s agents come at no cost to the buyer, since the seller pays the buyer’s agent’s commission,” explains Daniel Bortz, a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Do you think a shopper who can’t be bothered to enlist free expert help is motivated enough to start putting papers in motion? We don’t think so either.

To put things in perspective, consider this: 87% of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, according to a survey conducted last year by the National Association of Realtors® of recent home buyers and sellers. You do the math!

Sign No. 2: The buyer just began shopping

The old adage that timing is everything applies to selling homes as well. Typical home buyers take three months to buy, so if a seller is entertaining interest from someone on Day 1 or Week 1 of her house hunt, chances aren’t good that she’s the one.

“Many buyers look at a number of houses before they decide what they want,” says Bortz. “And if they’re at the early stages in their search, you’re less likely to receive an offer.”

Sign No. 3: You meet the buyer at an open house

It’s also less likely that a seller will score an offer from a buyer at an open house. According to a report from the NAR, only half of home buyers visit open houses—and those who do may be trying to avoid too much attention by hiding in the herd.

Serious buyers, on the other hand, will conduct their home search online, then once they spot a home they like, request a private showing.

It’s like dating: Asking to see a home one on one carries more weight than asking someone, “Hey, wanna hang out in a group?”

Sign No. 4: No pre-approval from a lender

There’s no need to read between the lines of this sign.

“You need to include a pre-approval letter from your lender when you submit an offer on a property,” says Bortz. “Without one, there’s no indication to the seller that you can actually afford to purchase the home.”

Sign No. 5: A speedy visit

Buyers who zip along while they’re checking out the property aren’t likely to cross the finish line with you.

“Rushing through an open house is a definite sign of lack of interest,” says Abigail Harris, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker residential brokerage in the Boston area. Breezing through without asking questions, however, isn’t necessarily a bad sign, she adds. “Many buyers feel that they have all the answers and don’t need to ask questions.”

Sign No. 6: All promises, no action

Call it a bait and … stall.

“You can tell that a buyer is dragging her feet if she says she’s very interested in making an offer but it is taking days for her to actually submit one,” says Bortz, who has encountered this phenomenon a number of times. “Typically such buyers are seriously interested, but they’re also strongly considering making an offer on another property, so they might be weighing their options before they make an offer on one of them.”

Sign No. 7: A (really) lowball offer

Everyone wants to score a deal, but if a buyer offers an “unreasonably low” sum, says Harris, that’s a “sure sign that they don’t really want the property.”

“Serious buyers in today’s market make their best offer right out of the gate,” explains Bortz. “So I’m honestly not sure why someone would throw out a ridiculously lowball offer. Maybe [it’s] just to test the waters?”

Sign No. 8: Lots of nitpicking

Even after the buyer has made an offer and you have accepted it, she still might not be 100% onboard with buying the property. Is she obsessed with finding faults and problems in the home?

“That’s a definite showing of disinterest,” says Harris. Bortz agrees, adding, “If she has a home inspection contingency and wants you to fix every single little thing that the inspector spots, such as a loose door knob, she might be looking for you to just give in and say, ‘No, I’m not fixing anything,’ so that she can back out of the deal.”

7 Tips For Staging Your Home

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process. Warm, neutral-colored paint is key when staging your home.

The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable