A Spring sale begins with Winter home repairs

home repairWhile you may be thinking ahead to listing your home for sale as the peak season approaches, these long winter months can be an ideal time to ready your home with any needed repairs, maintenance, or improvements. Making these home repairs now can heighten interest in your online listing detail and likely shorten the listing-to-offer period as the home sales market picks up.

Consider a pre-inspection.

Some experts contend that a pre-inspection can be a powerful aid to reveal issues before a buyer’s inspection ever occurs. A pre-inspection will allow you the time to remedy concerns before your home is listed. Pre-inspections can range from a whole house inspection to those targeted areas you may be concerned about such as a roof or foundation, and buyers are often not interested in deferred maintenance.

A pre-inspection can also alleviate a seller’s unexpected surprise after an offer has been accepted or may be used as a marketing strategy if no problems arise in the report. Be sure to consult your Realtor on your state’s disclosure laws before securing the inspection.

Get organized.

Use the current season to also assess clutter and organization of storage areas such as the basement, closets, or garage. Determine a plan to de-clutter and organize these spaces so they are ready to show well when the house is listed. This can alleviate stress by giving yourself the time needed to sort, distribute, or donate items well before listing crunch time sets in.

Experts recommend that up to two-thirds of items should be removed for a clean showing and for potential buyers to envision your home as their own.

Make repairs.

While in the basement, you might also consider any heating system, water heater, or central air issues that need attention to schedule necessary repairs or maintenance.
Home buyers typically want to see a home that is move-in ready. And as you utilize these strategies, you will begin to see your house with an objective eye before your Realtor does. Quick fixes, organization, and de-cluttering prove to be effective as home selling strategies again and again, so the time spent on these pre-listing activities are well worth the effort and often returned in a higher offer price.

The Open House: 4 tips to make buyers want to take a second look

open-houseRemember back in Career Ed when you put yourself through mock job interviews as practice? Your open house is a practice look for buyers. They spend an afternoon perusing houses and neighborhoods to gather information on what might be a good fit for them, then head back to their Realtor with what they’ve found. If you want your house to be in that list of homes they absolutely must see again, consider these tips:

Target Market

Knowing what kind of buyer might be interested in your home is the first step towards a “sold” sign. HGTV notes, “Think about what kind of neighborhood you live in. Is it young and hip and filled with first-time buyers, or is it mature and established with lots of families? It’s important to know what type of buyer you’re targeting so you can stage accordingly.” Ask your Realtor to answer these questions for you; they will advise you how to stage your house for your particular target market.

Cleanliness

Of course you’re going to clean your home, but you can add an extra wow factor by going just a little further. Replace your house numbers if they are old and faded, clean out gutters that are full of leaves, dust the tops of those ceiling fans you’ve been avoiding for months. Make everything shine! And when you think you’re done, invite a neighbor or friend over to point out anything you may have overlooked. But don’t just shove the mess into a closet or spare bedroom hoping no one will look in there. Anything that is “off limits” will invite buyers to continue their home search elsewhere.

Let it Go

Let it go…Let it go…let your personal belongings go. You want a buyer to easily visualize their family living in your house. Of course you’re proud of the refrigerator full of report cards and art projects, but your family’s personal imprint on the house will only create distance between it and a buyer.

The Nose Knows

Making your home aesthetically pleasing is catering to just one of the five senses. Consider how your home smells, but be careful of going overboard. You want a fresh, nearly odorless aroma to invite in potential buyers. An open window or the subtle scent of a fresh batch of cookies is plenty. An overpowering scent will push buyers out the door for some fresh air, ultimately leading them to the next house.

On average, Woods Bros Realty offers more than 50 open houses a week, making open houses an excellent starting point for buyers. Before your first open house, consult your agent about your particular market area, as well as the habits and preferences of your potential buyers. As always, they will be your best source of information and guidance.

Getting ready for listing photos

listing-photosBoxes, boxes, everywhere. You never realize just how much “stuff” you have until you get that exciting phone call from your agent: “We’re ready to take your listing photos!”

Before you panic and dump every possession you own into a dumpster just to rid your home of the evidence, remember this: you’ve hired a professional. Your Realtor will be well experienced in taking listing photos that make your home desirable and beautiful. They will likely even use a professional photographer who specializes in listing photos. But that doesn’t mean your job is done.

One long standing Woods Bros agent offers the following advice to all of his clients, “Pretend I’m coming over with a serious buyer. Have your home looking like you would if I really had a buyer with me.”

So what do your buyers want to see? The more important question is what do your buyers not want to see. It’s no secret that you currently live in your home, your belongings are there, your life is present in every room, but show your buyers a home that they can envision their own family living in.

For starters:

  1. Get rid of clutter. Those stacks of bills? The laundry piles (I know, I know, they are clean piles), utilize all those closets and storage to stash away distracting items.
  1. The kitchen is a huge point of interest. Just think about how much time your own family spends together there. Don’t leave remnants of last night’s delicious dinner in the sink. Do the dishes, scrub away the remaining crumbs. As much as your buyers might be delighted to try your cooking, they don’t want to see the leftovers hiding in the bottom of your sink.
  1. Think about your personal memories. Your kids are adorable, beyond adorable, but your buyers want to dream about walls that will someday hold their own family photos. So swap out those lovely framed photos for a neutral piece of art instead. Give your buyers a chance to dream about their own future in the home.
  1. If you have kids, you have stuff. Lots, and lots of stuff. A recent Lincoln seller of three young children chose a storage unit to eliminate the unnecessary excess. The result? Fresh, streamlined listing photos AND a signed contract. If a storage unit isn’t in your budget, consider a trip to the dollar store, grab some totes and stuff away.

Lastly, when the house is clean and uncluttered; leave the details to your professional agent. Shades open? Shades closed? Leave the lamp on or switch it off? Your agent will know the best lighting and angles to make your already fabulous house look even better. Once you do your part, their job will be easy and successful.

For Sale By Owner: It’s Not That Simple

sold-on-woods-brosAccording to Time Magazine, nearly 90% of home sellers choose to use the help of a licensed professional to list their home. In the age of do-it-yourself, with You Tube channels dedicated to every kind of how-to imaginable, it’s remarkable that so many of us are still relying on a Realtor to sell our house.

There are a host of reasons to be tempted to not use a Realtor, the biggest being a matter of frugality. Why pay someone to sell your home when you’re perfectly capable of putting a sign in your yard and posting a few pictures online?

The answer is because it’s just not that simple.

Selling your home is a much more intricate process than selling your grandpa’s old recliner on Craigslist.

For starters, your Realtor is a licensed professional, and that title comes with endless responsibilities that your Realtor takes seriously. They are your marketing guru, a negotiating master, and an endless database of connections to loan officers, inspectors, and other industry professionals.

While everyone dreams of a quick and smooth transaction, the reality is that a number of factors can become stumbling blocks along the way. Those stumbling blocks are the moment your Realtor turns into a superhero, swooping in and putting the pieces back together to do what you hired them to do: sell your home. If you feel confident in navigating any stumbling blocks yourself, consider the following:

  • The sale is not a sale until everyone agrees on the inspection and subsequent repairs. The inspection period can be a deal breaker.
  • The loan process is a complicated, but necessary beast. Someone will need to make sure the process is on track to avoid any delay.
  • Even deciding on a listing price is complex. Your Realtor has the most up to date info on recent sales of comparable houses, known as “comps.”
  • What about getting an appraisal? What if the appraisal is low? Your agent is trained in dealing with these challenges.

Even for those perfect transactions, a Realtor is still your liaison; doing the work and making the calls that you simply don’t have the time for. They will handle all of the details it takes just to get your home under contract. Realtors aren’t just for complicated transactions, they’re for every transaction. Think of it this way; you wouldn’t cut your own hair or cast your own broken arm; instead you rely on licensed professionals. Time Magazine suggests the following advice: “Before skipping a full-service agent, think hard about the time and effort you want to spend, particularly if the process drags on.”

Find a professional to get your home listed, shown, and SOLD at WoodsBros.com.

Selling a haunted house?

haunted-house-sellingIt’s that time of year, ghost and goblins are everywhere. But are they in your house? More importantly, are they in your house that you’re trying to sell?

If you’re a paranormal enthusiast you’ve probably already read A Guide to the Ghosts of Lincoln from cover to cover—maybe multiple times, we’re not judging. You may have even taken up Scott Colborn on his annual offer for guided bus tours around Lincoln complete with historical local ghost stories. But if you’re selling a house that has considerable bumps in the night, you probably have a few questions.

First of all, while some other states differ, Nebraska does not require a seller to disclose of paranormal activity in a home listed for sale. Nebraska doesn’t even require you to disclose that someone has died in the home. That is, unless a buyer specifically asks.

Local psychic/medium Kelli Miller has ample experience in dealing with unexplained activities in homes. She sites that houses built before 1930 tend to have the most activity. Kelli says, “I usually suggest saging/smudging the home. It’s a Native American tradition on how to bless or cleanse a home.” But what exactly is going on in these homes with paranormal activity?

Home owners like to remain anonymous when recounting stories of their hauntings, but one local describes this eerie activity:

“Lights have been turned on; the gas stove has turned itself on. Faucets randomly turn on in different areas of the house; once I walked through the dining room, everything was in place.  The kitties came running to me and looked spooked and I figured an animal was at the back door.  I walked into the dining room to see all the placemats on the table turned – perfectly turned with the folded napkins on them. We had friends over to play with a Ouija board… while one friend was explaining the rules of the game a clock flew off the wall and landed at my friend’s feet.  We decided not to play the game.”

So what should you do if your spooky home is ready for a new owner? First, check the obvious sources:

  1. Older homes with electrical malfunctions can be interpreted as “haunted.”
  2. If bumps in the night are a real problem, check windows and doors for drafts.
  3. Talk with your Realtor about your home’s unique nuances, they might have a simple solution, or  it might just make a great story.

But the great news is that according to Realtor.com survey “62% of home buyers polled wouldn’t be deterred by things going bump in the night—and many even prefer it.”

The 30-second secret before you list:

Enhance a home’s sensory appeal for a good first impression

engage senses when staging a home for saleWe all know our decisions are often made based on first impressions—home buying is no different. Some REALTORS® will even tell you that it is that first impression that can make or break a homebuyer’s decision within the first 30 seconds of viewing a home.

Of course, such instinctual decisions are often based on a variety of sensory inputs that a buyer experiences in the first minutes of a viewing, so it is essential to consider this impact well before your home is listed for sale.

Sight, scent, sound and touch enter the brain as information, so it is important enhance your home’s sensory appeal to influence a buyer’s perception and value of your listing, and offer an impressionable and effective home viewing experience before you sign the listing.

Three critical sensory inputs can fortify a buyer’s 30-second first impression:

Visual impact

While many experts remind home sellers to declutter, paint in neutral tones, and ensure strategic floor coverings, no single consideration has a greater impact on the visual impression of a home than lighting. Effective lighting can create emotion, define space, and highlight a home’s best features. Lighting can facilitate the mind’s eye to envision the buyer’s own belongings in a well-lighted room, so take the time needed to display each room in its best light.

Sensual impact

While we all love our pets and the convenience of that mudroom bin for the after-school sports gear, we know the smell of warm, fresh sugar cookies are more likely a better influence when a potential buyer walks through the door. Even though you think the wood chime off the kitchen window is soothing, a homebuyer may find it distracting. Be objective as you explore the scents and sounds of your home, and consider a fresh perspective to ensure your home is ready for a quiet and appealing early showing.

Tactile impact

Hopefully a buyer won’t taste your home while looking around, but they will very likely touch it—even if only with their eyes. The tactical impact of that first impression is based not only on touch but on texture and structure. Each of these can influence a buyer’s confidence that the home is attractive, structurally sound, and move-in ready. Tighten up those loose cupboard handles, ensure the closet bi-fold slides smoothly or remove any grit from the ceramic tile. Be certain that the physical and structural quality of the home is ready for any tactical inspection by a hands-on homebuyer.

TRID Guidelines: Facts for Home Sellers

TRID Facts for Home Sellers

Whether you’re in the middle of a real estate transaction, or your agent just placed a “for sale” sign in your yard, you’ve probably at least heard of the new TRID guidelines. They officially became effective on October 3rd, but what exactly does that mean for you, the seller?

The short answer is simple: time.

The TRID regulations, or TILA / RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule, were designed as a tool for consumer protection. They call for all lenders to comply with new disclosure forms that they provide to home buyers. The forms must include a complete breakdown of fees and must also list who (the buyer, seller, or third party,) is responsible for the fee.

The disclosure forms must be presented first following a buyer’s approval, but more specifically, again at least three days before closing. In other words, a closing can’t occur until the second disclosure is presented and after a 72 hour waiting/review period.

That’s where the time factor comes into play. Concerns have risen that three-day waiting period could hold up multiple real estate transactions, particularly if you are selling your home as well as purchasing one. But there is good news: remember, these new regulations are for consumer protection.

For starters, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a statement clearing up some of the time concerns. There had been some misconception that any change made to loan or disclosure restarted the three-day waiting period. But in fact, only three changes require a new three-day review:

  1. The annual percentage rate (APR) increases
  2. A prepayment penalty will be added
  3. The basic loan product changes

So when answering the question, “Will the new mortgage disclosures delay my closing?” the CFPB states: “The answer is NO for just about everybody.”

And there’s more good news, there’s a great chance that your Realtor, as well as your buyer’s agent, is ready for these regulations. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors “More than 80% of respondents had taken some form of training on TRID,” even better, over 70% of Realtors rating their preparedness for these new guidelines at least average or better. The NAR also concluded that “[Realtors] are working with their industry partners and making changes to contracts to help smooth the transition.”

“It’s never been more important for a seller to work with a knowledgeable Realtor who can help ensure that the buyer writing an offer on their home is fully aware of the new loan requirements and is prepared to work with their lender in a timely manner,” noted Woods Bros agent Marcia Murray.

As complicated as they seem, the TRID guidelines are in place to actually make the home buying process easier, safer, and more straightforward for both buyers and sellers. With the help of an informed Realtor, you can rest easy and enjoy a smooth transaction.

5 steps to selling your home this fall

fall-home-wreathWhen the bustling green of summer settles into the calmer yellows and oranges of fall, it can be a great season to sell your home. The fall season also turns many to thoughts of the holidays and the space they may need to entertain. As buyers think ahead to cranberries and pine, you can use this transition period to highlight the best features of your home.

Here are 5 expert tips to sell your home quickly this fall:

Create a fall-inspired first impression

From the curb appeal to the walkthrough, utilize the color and scents of the fall harvest season to create a warm and cozy impression that buyers will linger on. Accent your front door with an autumn wreath and carry those hues inside with flowers and candles for a more emotional connection. Open blinds just enough to bring in light and outside colors.

Empty your closets

Pare down those closets, cupboards, and drawers. Home buyers often have storage in mind, so be sure your closets and shelves are staged to showcase the space they offer. Experts recommend removal of one-third of your stuff to highlight storage space.

Sell your house not your home

Improve the web appeal of your listing through depersonalization, one of the expert secrets to a best showing. Use other staging strategies to remove clutter and select furniture arrangements room by room. Remove family photos and other sentimental items as you stage each room. Deep clean and reposition ambient lighting as you go to ensure a move-in-ready lasting impression.

Make those needed repairs

Most likely you are well aware of that nagging dripping faucet in the upper level bath, or that deep scratch in the kitchen trim near the stove. Take the time to make those necessary and top-of-mind repairs that you can do yourself.

Trust your agent

As you work with your agent on the listing detail, be open to advice on selling price and marketing. Remember your agent has an objective view of your home and can recommend features to highlight in the listing. Allow for that give-and-take with your agent on best ideas for where to position your listing to get noticed and, ultimately, to your closing.

Visit our website for more tips on selling your home.

Remodeling to sell

remodeling

There are several reasons for remodeling your home. One is because things are broken or worn out and just don’t function as they should. Outdated finishes and features are another reason. A third is to update with the thought of selling your home. It is the last reason I’d like to address here.

Having remodeled hundreds of homes in Lincoln during the past 30 years, I was often asked the same question over and over …”Will we get our money out of this project when we are ready to sell?” My answer was usually, “No, but you will get the benefit of enjoying the new space for as long as you live here.” That intangible benefit is worth a lot more than dollars and cents in my opinion.

Now, in my second career as REALTOR®, I often hear, “We just spent $30,000 on our kitchen, so shouldn’t our home be worth at least that much more now?” My answer now is, “No, but you have enjoyed your new kitchen while you lived here ,and now, your home will be market ready and should sell quicker than if you had done nothing.”

Kitchens and bathrooms are the two areas that buyers pay close attention to. It makes sense to keep them updated to current trends and functionality if you want to sell your home quickly and for the highest price. Just don’t expect to reap 100 percent of what you invested. One reason for that is the new owners may not value the super expensive custom-made tile you chose or instead of the unique whirlpool tub you installed, the new buyers would have rather had a large walk-in shower. If you are remodeling for the sole purpose of getting your home ready for sale, my advice is to keep things neutral and don’t go overboard on big ticket items that are not absolutely necessary.

Remodeling your home to sell will reap some additional dollars in your pocket, and it will also certainly make your home more attractive to potential buyers. We are finding that the majority of buyers are looking for more of a move-in ready home these days rather than for homes that require a lot of updating.

Some of the best things to do to increase the market value of your home are also the least expensive. The caveat is they require a little sweat and effort. De-cluttering is always a good idea. Box things up and rent a temporary storage unit if you have to. It will pay off in the long run. Buyers don’t want to walk into a cluttered, crowded home. It make it harder for them to visualize how they would use the space. A good thorough deep cleaning is a no brainer. Dirty counters and floors, dust and clumps of dog hair are not things buyers want to see. If your home smells bad from smoking or pets, there are companies that can help neutralize those odors which are an instant turn-off to many would-be buyers.

The first impression buyers get is from the street as they drive by. Homes that have what is known as “curb appeal” are inviting because they don’t have peeling paint, overgrown landscaping, missing downspouts, etc. Spend a few hours or a few days, if necessary and do some pruning, painting and deferred maintenance on your exterior, and you will increase your odds of that would-be buyer wanting to see the inside of your home.

Once you get the prospective buyers inside, that is your opportunity to sell them on the features and benefits of how you have maintained and updated your home. If buyers are looking at your home, that means they have already decided that it is in the area of town they want to live in, and your home is in their price range. If you have made significant improvements, make sure you or your REALTOR® points those things out.

Buyer’s Market vs Seller’s Market

sellers market

Lincoln’s been in a seller’s market for the last several years. But what does that really mean?

Clearly, a seller’s market benefits the seller. Right now Lincoln’s inventory of available houses for sale is extremely low. Sellers don’t have a lot of competition from other sellers, so buyers only have a limited number of options. The law of supply and demand tells us that when supply is low, prices will go up. It also means we’re likely to see multiple offers frequently – a larger number of buyers chasing a limited number of homes.

The conventional wisdom in real estate is that a balanced market – favoring neither the buyer nor seller – is a 6-month inventory of homes. That means if no other homes came on the market during that time, it would take 6 months to sell all the homes for sale.

In most price ranges, Lincoln currently has between a 1.5- and 4-month supply of houses. Advantage – seller.

At some point in the future, the market will shift, and buyers will have the edge. What will that look like? We’ll have an abundance of homes to sell – buyers will be able to wait longer for the right house, and won’t face as much pressure to pay top dollar. Sellers will have to make sure their home has that ‘wow factor’ and is priced correctly in order to sell quickly.

The market is cyclical by nature, and right now the sellers have the clear advantage. For buyers, though, interest rates are still very low, so if it makes sense to buy instead of rent, or move up from an existing home, they shouldn’t be completely discouraged. There’s opportunity for everyone – if you’re considering a move, let’s talk and figure out how we can make the market work in your favor!

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