Home selling tips for the holidays

Home Selling Tips for the HolidaysFor many, the holiday season isn’t always the ideal time to list a house. But don’t let the hustle and bustle deter you from calling an agent and getting that “for sale” sign in the front yard. The housing market keeps going even if there’s snow on the ground—and yes—even during the Christmas season. If now is your time to move, then simply use some of these tips to maintain your sanity and sell your house during this busy season.

  1. Keep decorations to a minimum. We know, it sounds like something The Grinch would say. But limiting all of the holiday extras in your house will help stage your home for potential buyers. The extra decorations make it harder for a buyer to visualize the home as their own, and they create extra packing work for you when your closing rolls around.
  2. Keep the sidewalks and driveway clear. It’s a task you do anyway during the winter months, but putting in a little extra work and planning ahead for weather will save you from scrambling on the snowy morning of a showing. Buyers and agents will appreciate a clear walkway, and there’s nothing like a great first impression.
  3. You can also strike up a bargain to limit the amount of new toys entering the home. Try asking the kids if they’d like a mini-vacation instead of the usual pile of toys. You’ll create new memories and keep the house clutter-free at the same time. It might even become a welcomed tradition for years to come. But that doesn’t mean nothing under your Christmas tree: just try sticking to the magical rule of three. Buy the little ones one thing they need, one thing they want, and one thing to wear or read.
  4. Say no to hosting. This is the one time you have a really valid excuse. Ask a family member to trade with you if it’s “your year” to host, and in exchange you can bring a couple extra side dishes to help out. The last thing you need when you’re worried about keeping the house “showing ready” is extra guests and messes.
  5. Make your home extra appealing with a little extra heat. Remember that buyers will be coming in from the cold, so keep their comfort in mind by cranking up the heat a few extra notches. A cold house won’t feel inviting, and they won’t be encouraged to stay and look around. A nice, toasty home will be a haven from the snow that they just might not want to leave.
  6. Don’t forget to use your resources. Your Realtor will be the best source of information about finding the right buyers, pricing to sell, as well as keeping an occupied or vacant home show ready. Write down a list of questions (and your agent’s answers!) and relax this holiday season.

4 tips to make your home sparkle this Spring

spring-cleaningSpring is well on its way, and it’s time to clean up the last remaining messes of winter. If Spring Cleaning is a ritual you keep annually, then you are definitely not alone. Up to 72 percent of homes get a down and dirty scrubbing each spring.

But don’t get overwhelmed, take little steps at a time to get everything sparkling this season.

Let the breeze in

If your motivation is still in slow motion, take a whiff of that beautiful spring air coming through some open windows, and let it amp up your inspiration for cleaning. Before your house starts looking clean, let it start smelling clean. But beware of the seasonal allergies that open windows bring—let it get you geared up for step number two:

Dusting

Get rid of the dust, and clear up those allergies. Your ceiling fan blades might be looking a little intimidating after a long winter, but make them shine with a quick sweep from your vacuum attachment. Or go the extra mile with an old pillow case: put it around each fan blade, one at a time, and swipe away dust by trapping it inside the case. Clear cobwebs from high ceilings, and suck dust out of vents while you have the vacuum going. Don’t forget the bathroom vent; you may not notice how clogged it’s become, but you’ll be sure to notice how amazing it looks once it’s clean.

Starting High

The trick to spring cleaning is working smarter, not harder. So it’s important to start at the top and work your way down. Don’t sweep and polish floors until you’ve removed dust and debris from high places. Falling dust will only make you backtrack, re-cleaning areas you’ve already covered. When you’re ready for those low spots, use a dryer sheet on baseboards for a fresh scent and to make dust disappear. They also help to keep new dust from resettling on woodwork.

De-Clutter

Not even a gleaming stove and spotless floors can take away the distraction of cluttered counters and shelves piled with old newspapers. Take this time to slowly chip away at the clutter that has been piling up all winter. But do it slowly, one day at a time, and you’ll get fabulous results without getting overwhelmed. Give yourself 30 days to declutter one area each day. A bedroom closet, the junk drawer, the living room shelves, anything with excess “stuff.” Toss unusable items in the trash, but keep totes handy for dropping off at a donation center or for organizing items for a future garage sale.

Once the house is clean, keep those windows open and relax in a sparkling house with that magical spring scent wafting through the air. But don’t stop there. Keep up a regular cleaning schedule—just little bits at a time—to keep next year’s spring cleaning much more manageable and satisfying.

7 ways to give your home a winter makeover

So you can’t throw open the windows with Cinderella enthusiasm and invite the fresh air to motivate your spring cleaning … yet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few fun, easy, and—dare we say cheap—makeover ideas you can do this winter to spruce up your living space. During these dreary months, a few subtle changes can do wonders to speed up your countdown to spring.

Consider Your Fireplace:

Think of salvaging (read: cheap). Anything old and rustic will tell a story on your mantle that is nothing short of soothing. Old barn wood, window panes, even mix them with modern and colorful pieces for an eclectic look (like this one from Country Living).

Rustic FireplaceLook closely at this fireplace, notice the subtle owls nesting inside? Country Living boasts these as flee market finds, but visit your own Goodwill or antique shop for accessories that represent your own style. Remember, it’s the tiny accents that can make the most dramatic impact.

Fireplace OwlsFurniture

The cheapest way to make over your home this winter only requires a little elbow grease. Try rearranging a few pieces of furniture. You don’t have to arrange an entire room to have a renewed look. Change the direction or focal point of the room or add a new area rug. Want a room to look just a little larger? Try hanging a mirror on the wall. The added depth can do wonders in tricking the eye into seeing a larger room.

Pillows

Who can get enough of throw pillows? Colorful, round, chevron; mix and match them and the possibilities are endless. Toss them on a boring bedspread, add them to a bench, or make your sofa extra inviting with the fluff of a great pillow.

Chairs

If you want to update some existing furniture, but lack the time and follow-through, there’s an easy solution! Take an old chair laying around, or an inexpensive used set that you can get a great bargain on and only paint the legs. The pop of color is just what your winter décor needs, and the time commitment is minimal. Read more about it here.

painted chair legsLight

  1. Perhaps the more important element to a winter season makeover is light. It’s dark when you wake up, it’s dark when you go to sleep, but during the day—let there be light! There might not be a trendier way to light those dark corners of your house than with Edison lightbulbs. A little pricier than normal bulbs, but so aesthetically worth it. Just check out these gorgeous examples at Pottery Barn.

Edison Bulbs

Frost

And if you’re going to give your house a winter face lift, it’s almost essential that you include the kiddos in on the fun. This is a small project that is quick, fun, and totally reversible. Add some artificial frost to your windows. Create a pattern, use stencils, or simply make it as realistic as possible.

frosted windowsIf you want to take your creativity beyond the windows, Sheknows.com offers several ideas to get your frost on.

The most important thing to remember is little changes go a long way. Winter can seem endless, but it’s those subtle changes that can spruce up your home just enough to get you through the long days until the sun shines brightly again in spring. So keep shining, DIY decorators, those tiny bits of newness and cheer will light your way.

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.

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.

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.

Everything Counts!

household cleaner with rubber gloves bucket and sponge..When it’s time to put your house on the market, you’ll want to prepare.  After all, the way you live every day in your house is much different than marketing a home for sale.  (There’s nothing wrong with that, either!  Day to day, we don’t need to be focused on maintaining a spotless house – there’s just not enough time for that!)

But how far do you go?  You can’t do everything, right?  While you may need to pick and choose your projects, I can tell you that everything counts!  Clean the top of the refrigerator?  Yes.  The paint spills on the trim boards?  Buyers will notice.  Sweep the front steps and clean the leaves out of the window wells?  Definitely.

Here’s the truth – buyers will notice everything.  In fact, they’re looking for stuff like that.  Perception is reality to them, and they’re looking for clues.  If they see enough ‘little things’ that aren’t done, they assume there are bigger things that also haven’t been done.  Fair or unfair, that’s how they think – and if they see enough little things, you won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Here are some easy and basic things you can do when you’re preparing your home:

  1. Let the light in.  If you’ve got heavy curtains or shades, you might consider taking them down, or putting up something lighter.
  2. Turn the lights on.  Even with plenty of sunlight streaming in, let the buyers see the house.  Consider using timers for evening showings when it might be darker.
  3. Clean off the fridge.  Yes, dust the top, but also take down grocery lists, wedding invitations, homework, pictures, and everything else.  Wipe down the inside, too.
  4. Sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets.
  5. Clean the kitchen.  The kitchen is usually going to make or break the sale, so make sure it’s clean!  The counters should be wiped off, and the sink and faucet should really shine.  No dishes in the sink, and only necessary items on the counters (2 or 3 at most!)
  6. Close the toilet seats.
  7. Clean the bathrooms.  Don’t forget to wipe the mirrors.  Toothbrushes/toothpaste and shaving items should all be stowed out of sight, too.
  8. Clean the windows.  This is especially true if you’ve got older windows – you may not replace them, but they must be clean.
  9. Make the beds.  Put laundry away.  Toys should be organized and put away.
  10. Pets should be gone, but if that absolutely can’t happen, they need to be kenneled.

Pretty basic, I know, but you’d be surprised how often some of these items are neglected.  And they do matter – remember, buyers are looking at this stuff, and all of it forms their overall impression of the house.  Too many marks on their mental checklist, and they’re on to the next house.

The good news is that you can take care of that entire list for no cost!  Sometimes, though, the house may require you to spend some money to get it ready.  That’s another article for another day!

Home Staging Tips

MP900384832I don’t want to spoil your day, but if you are thinking of selling your home, you need to prepare yourself for what could be a very emotional, physical, frustrating experience. However, there are certain things you can do to lessen the pain. It’s summed up in the word: staging.

Staging is best described as the things you can do to make your home shine. Here are some tips:

• Start from the outside. Make the house warm and inviting from the minute someone pulls up. Tidy up the yard, make sure the outside lights are on, add a clean doormat, paint the door if needed, and display a seasonal wreath or other door hanging.

• Once someone opens the door, make sure your house smells fresh. Don’t overwhelm them with a strong fragrance, but be sure any smoke, cooking or pet odors are gone. A good trick is to bake cookies or simmer some vanilla extract in water on the stove.

• Look around the house and be sure all the floors are clean, carpets don’t have stains, walls are wiped free of smudges, and counter tops, bookshelves, fireplace mantles are free of excess clutter. Displaying a few items is okay but it’s probably best to box up your collections and keep them stored for your next house.

• Especially remember to remove all personal photos. You want the people looking at your home to think of their family living there.

• Re-arrange furniture so there is space to walk through each room. This might require removing a few extra pieces of furniture. You don’t need to move everything up against the walls. Try to create cozy areas, especially in the living room and family room.

• Open your closets. Yes, the buyers will be looking in all your closets. It may be time for to box up and store out-of-season clothes or to thin out your wardrobe. You want the buyer to see that there is a lot of space.

• Do the same in the basement or attic. Invest in some storage totes and get everything organized. If you must, store some items at a friend’s house or rent a storage space. Don’t overlook the garage either.

• For most buyers, the kitchen and bathrooms are especially important. Be sure everything (even inside the stove) is scrubbed clean. You might even plan to have a fresh set of towels that go out just for showings. And keep a bathroom tote handy so you can keep all your personal items (toothbrush, shampoo, etc.) in there. You can plan to put it in the trunk of your car whenever there is a showing.

Remember, none of these suggestions cost a lot of money, just time. Anything you buy can be moved to your next house. These steps could result in a quicker sale and perhaps a better price for your home. And the sooner you sell, the sooner you can be moving on to your next “home sweet home”.

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