No Second Chances: Our 7-Step Plan to Making a Dazzling First Impression on Buyers

hikesterson/iStock; realtor.com

Studies show that we make up our minds about people within seconds of meeting them. So it stands to reason that prospective buyers are doing the very same thing with your house, especially in a red-hot real estate market. More buyers these days are sizing up your space and making lightning-quick decisions about whether it’s worth investigating further—or whether they should hop back in the car and move on to the next house.

So if you want to be sure buyers don’t scurry out the door moments after they arrive, you have to create a fantastic first impression.

Not sure where to begin? It all starts with looking at your home with fresh eyes. Luckily, we’ve broken down seven simple steps you can follow to put your home’s best face forward.

1. ‘Break up’ with your house

If you want to sell your property, you’ll need to distance yourself from it first, says Ronique Gibson, an associate architect and lifestyle expert at Stagetecture.com in Jacksonville, FL. Cut the cord!

“Once you put your home on the market, it’s time to let a professional come in and market it,” Gibson says. “If you stay emotionally attached, the process will be harder and longer.”

2. Focus on curb appeal

You wouldn’t wear soiled sweatpants on a first date—you’d go out of your way to look presentable. So why would you approach the process of selling your home any differently?

Your home’s first impression starts with the exterior, so take a good look at what you’re presenting to the world: What’s the first thing you notice? If it’s peeling paint, dirty windows, and dead plants, you have work to do, says Michael Rosenblum, a broker with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago.

“Ask yourself: ‘If I was buying this home now, what would my expectations be?'” he says.

Remove debris such as fallen tree limbs and leaves. Keep grass and shrubs trimmed, freshen up the mulch in your flowerbeds, and clear away lawn clutter such as yard ornaments, garden tools, and that circa 2007 Big Wheel.

“Putting out some flowers in front of the house or by the front door always makes people smile; it creates the warmth before they even get inside,” says Rosenblum.

Invest in a new doormat, and consider replacing old address numbers and your mailbox if it’s worn or rusty. Patch cracks in the driveway and, while you’re at, give the front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Ditch as much of your stuff as possible

So now that you’ve addressed the outside, you have to work on your home’s inner beauty. Decluttering is your first priority. So start clearing out the junk and depersonalizing the space—toss or hide mementos, kids’ drawings, and most knickknacks.

“If the seller has all their personal photos out, then the buyer usually gets distracted,” Rosenblum says.

The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your crap is everywhere they look. “All signs of you should be gone,” Gibson says.

That said, take care to find a balance; you don’t want the home to feel sterile—and you’ll want to make sure that none of your rooms are completely empty, a tactic that tends to make a space actually look smaller.

4. Fix the broken stuff—all of it

This should be obvious, but perhaps even you’ve forgotten about that faulty light switch in the upstairs hallway. The thing is, buyers will notice it almost immediately.

So here’s a mini to-do list to tackle those minor issues fast:

  • Check for leaks throughout the house. A drip may not seem important, but it suggests lousy maintenance elsewhere.
  • Check and repair loose door handles and cabinet hinges.
  • Caulk around tubs and sinks.
  • Replace lightbulbs that don’t work. Yes, every single one.

Bottom line: Meet and exceed a buyer’s expectations by paying extra attention to the fine details.

5. Plan a small makeover that packs a punch

You might not want (or be able) to do major renovations before putting your property on the market. But if you focus your attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, you can boost a tired home’s overall appearance without completely busting your budget.

“Homeowners can easily change out countertops and appliances, or paint cabinetry,” Rosenblum says. You may want to restain the floors or repaint the walls.

Keeping your carpets? Make sure to splurge on getting them professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas—it’ll immediately brighten a room.

6. Appeal to all the senses

Once your home is clean and decluttered, think about how you can engage potential buyers through other senses, Gibson suggests.

Play soft music during showings, or have a nice water feature outside if you live in a noisy neighborhood,” she says. “Soft throws and textured fabrics will warm up a space. Brewing fresh coffee and baking cookies makes your house smell great.”

Remember not to clean your house the day of a showing; harsh chemicals can be overpowering, and may turn off potential buyers.

7. Keep up appearances—indefinitely

Unless you’re in a red-hot market, your home might not sell immediately after it’s listed. Remember that every week, you might have potential buyers traipsing through—sometimes without much notice from your agent.

That means keeping up all these changes you’ve implemented—and not dragging out the massive toy bins, dog beds, and other daily life items you actually use.

While it might not be easy keeping your house in tiptop shape for days on end, try to remember that the effort you put in now will pay off later—when that one buyer is so wowed by her first impression that she makes an offer you won’t want to refuse.

 

Posted by Wendy Helfenbaum on realtor.com

Ready to sell? Visit our website to get started with an agent today!

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5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 44 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Ready to sell? Click HERE to see how much your home is worth!

5 Holiday Splurges to Avoid If You Hope to Sell Your Home Next Year

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The holidays are officially here—and while  merrymaking and gift shopping are likely top of mind, you may have to keep some of those celebratory urges in check if you’re planning to sell your home next year. Why? Because many holiday season activities can come back to haunt you when your house is on the market, even if it’s months later.

Don’t believe us? Here are five holiday splurges to avoid if you hope to have a smooth home-selling process next year. It’s our gift to you! (You’ll thank us later.)

1. Don’t do decorations that could damage your home

Yes, we know you want to display your holiday spirit. But avoid any decor that could leave behind damage you’ll have to repair later—holes in the walls, marks on the floor, screws that mar the side of the house. If you have a live Christmas tree, be careful not to let spilled water sit on hardwood or laminate flooring, which can warp and stain. And it should go without saying that you don’t want to paint walls dramatic colors; save the winter wonderland mural for another year.

Think about curb appeal, too. “Avoid blow-up animals and reindeer in the yard,” advises Flor Blanchett, a Realtor® at the Keyes Company in Florida. “When you take those things out, especially in the South, they leave spots on the grass that are totally dead for months afterward.”

2. Don’t clutter your home with huge holiday gifts

The mantra of anyone trying to sell a home? “Declutter, declutter, declutter,” says Blanchett.

Don’t buy a bunch of gifts that are going to have to be hidden away after the new year.

“If you have young children with toys all over the place, I advise packing it all away in a container under the stairs or somewhere people won’t see it,” she says.

The basic organizational rule is that you don’t want your closets to appear bursting at the seams, which will give the impression there’s not enough storage.

Obviously, nobody is saying that Santa has to skip your house this year, but consider forgoing the bulky play kitchen or drivable toy car in lieu of smaller action figures or electronics.

Remember: You’re going to have to move all that stuff after you sell the house. You’ll thank yourself at packing time if you spring for a gift certificate or jewelry instead of sports equipment or kitchen gadgets.

3. Don’t buy appliances or furniture that may not fit your future home

It’s another prime gift-giving no-no. Avoid shelling out for appliances, furniture, or anything that’s specific to your current home’s layout. Unless you already know where you’re moving, that gorgeous (and large) new couch might not fit correctly in your new digs. And that sparkling new washer-dryer set is probably going to be a gift for the buyers, since appliances usually stay with the home. Grills, sheds, anything bulky—you’re going to either gift it to your buyers in a few months or pay someone to move it. Save the heavy stuff for next year.

4. Don’t take on too much holiday-related debt

This is not the year to live out your “new car with a giant bow on it” fantasies. Taking on debt, whether it’s credit card debt or a car or boat loan, can hurt your chances of getting approved for a mortgage when you’re ready to buy your next home. So, don’t go out and buy expensive things; a lender will take note and it could work against you. When in doubt, ask first.

“Speak with your lender if making a real estate purchase after the sale on how much you can spend on big-ticket items,” says Dillar Schwartz, a Realtor in Austin, TX.

5. Don’t surprise the family with a new pet

The holidays are a common time for families to get a new furry friend—there are even adoption drives based around getting a holiday pet. However, right before you’re ready to sell your house is not a terrific time to be housetraining a puppy or teaching a cat not to scratch the couch.

Showing a house with a pet can be challenging enough even when it’s not a new pet, and then they’re going to have to go through the wildly pet-unfriendly process of moving. However much you’re longing for a cat, pup, or capybara, it just makes sense to wait until after the move. Especially the capybara.

 

Posted by Audrey Ference on realtor.com

5 DIY Ways to Stage Your Home’s Exterior for Winter Home Selling

Winter can be a tough time of year to sell your home, particularly in areas that see colder or inclement weather. The biggest issue that homeowners face in attempting to sell at this time of year, is the curb appeal; with piles of snow and no leaves on the trees, it can be hard to show your home in its best light.

There are ways that you can help to improve your home’s appearance, however, no matter what time of year you put it on the market. These 5 DIY tips for staging your home’s exterior for winter selling will help you make that crucial first impression that buyers are looking for.

Get the Snow Off

Buyers want to see the condition of your home, including areas like the porch, outdoor deck, and roof, which may all be areas where the snow collects during the winter months. Keeping these areas free of snow and ice means that buyers can get a better sense of what your home really looks like. It also means that they can get a better idea of things like your roofing shingles and their condition.

Removing snow from these areas also has the added benefit of making your home appear well maintained. You want to remove snow any way to help protect your roof from leaks and ice dams; by taking the snow off before a showing, you let buyers know the home is being cared for.

Add Some Greenery

During the summer months, your yard and landscaping are in full bloom and can help improve your curb appeal. During the winter months, however, when everything is brown or leafless, this can have the opposite effect of what you want from buyer’s first impressions.

Purchase some greenery in urns to place around your front door and walkway. Evergreen plants in large tubs that can be brought out for a showing can help recreate the effect of well-maintained landscaping. Anywhere your home or yard looks a little barren at this time of year is a great place to add some greens to help brighten things up.

Add Exterior Lights

The days are shorter during the winter months, which means that buyers arriving in the late afternoon or evening to view your home may not see it in the best light. Add some solar lights to the walkway leading up to your house, and consider swapping out the bulbs in any sconces you have next to the door for full spectrum lights.

Full spectrum lights will help ensure your house siding color looks more the way that it does when the sun is hitting it, which can help buyers get a better idea of what your home will look like in other times of year. If you don’t have lights currently installed, consider adding temporary solar lights that will turn on when people walk by to illuminate the front of your home more effectively.

Brighten Up Your Front Door

While the winter months aren’t the best time to give a new coat of paint to your house siding, it’s not a bad idea to freshen up your front door color. A bright, cheerful front door can go a long way toward making your home look more inviting, no matter how cold or dismal the weather is.

Look for a house color that’s a little bolder than you would ordinarily choose, as you want it to show up even in the poor light of winter. Reds, turquoise blue, and even orange are good colors to paint your front door in the winter months.

Take Down the Holiday Decorations

Many people assume that leaving up decorations from late fall or the winter holidays will help make the home more lived in and therefore more appealing. Surprisingly though, many buyers don’t want to see these things; they want to envision what the house will look like when they move in. While it’s fine to have a wreath hanging on the door in December, make sure that come January the house is free of lights and garlands to ensure that buyers aren’t put off.

Get Your Home Ready for Sale

It doesn’t take much to get your home looking its best even in the winter months. Follow these tips to help improve your home’s exterior and get the quick sale you’re after, even in the colder months of the year.

 

Posted by HomeZada

Ready to sell? Visit our website today, and let one of our agents help you get started!

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

  1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come. Buyers who were unable to find their dream home during the busy spring and summer months are still searching!
  2. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2018, which will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Ready to sell? Visit our website to find your home’s value, meet our agents and more!

The #1 Reason to List Your House, NOW!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Reportwhich revealed that sales rose 0.7% month-over-month, but remain 1.5% lower than they were a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is not a good time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! The inventory of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year for the last 28 months and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country.

Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” (emphasis added)

The houses that are on the market are selling fast, too! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, the median number of days it took for a house to go from listed to under contract over the past three months was 34.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!

Posted by The KCM Crew

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale! Buyers are often competing with one another for the listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Ready to sell? Click HERE to see how much your home is worth!