10 Tips to Prepare Your Home for an Open House

Few buyers want to buy a house sight unseen. Holding an open house is a great way to get many potential buyers through the door, but first you must make sure your home is ready to be seen. Buyers need to envision how they’ll use the available space, and that means staging your home so that it looks inviting but not too lived-in.
10 Tips to Prepare for an Open House
Here are 10 tips to make your next open house the one that gets offers:

1. Clear clutter. Buyers get turned off when you have too many appliances on the kitchen counters, piles of magazines on every flat surface of the living room or too much furniture. The clutter makes it hard for visitors to picture their stuff in your space. How to remedy this situation? Start packing! You want to move anyway, so now’s a good time to pack up anything that you don’t need in the short-term and put those surplus items in storage. That includes furniture – you might want to store a few of the larger items, like a sectional couch, while your home’s on the market.

2. Hire a cleaning service. Buyers won’t notice if your home is spotlessly clean, but they will notice if it isn’t. A cleaning service tackles all those dusty places you might forget: baseboards, tops of picture frames, ceiling fans.

3. Remove family photos. Yes, your children are stunning, and your animals are so cute! But buyers need to see a neutral field where they can put down their roots instead of viewing your family tree.

4. Neutralize odors. You get used to the smells of your home. Ask your real estate professional or a friend for a nose check. Shampoo your carpets before the open house, and if you have pets, give them baths and make sure litter boxes are clean.

5. Make repairs. Buyers are looking for imperfections, so now’s the time to fix that leaky faucet or slow-running drain, and replace broken windowpanes and burned-out light bulbs. These are noticeable maintenance problems that keen-eyed buyers will spot.

6. Buy new towels. Spruce up your kitchen and bathroom for your guests with plush linens.

7. Set the table. Stage your dining room table for a nice meal to encourage buyers to imagine what it would be like to entertain in the house. Your best china and a new neutral tablecloth with matching napkins will help with the visualization.

8. Enhance curb appeal. Trim your lawn, weed your beds and prune your shrubs. These small landscaping tasks make a world of difference to your home’s first impression.

9. Organize cabinets and drawers. Storage space is a vital selling point of any property. More is more when it comes to nooks and crannies, cabinets and closets. Cluttered linen closets, kitchen cabinets and bedroom closets make it appear that your home doesn’t have enough storage. We guarantee a buyer is going to look.

10. Leave. Buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions of your agent if you’re not hovering in the background. Your Realtor can highlight the positive features of your home without bias. So, take a hike for a few hours, and take your pets with you. Some buyers might not feel comfortable around your four-legged friends or might have allergies.

This article was originally published by Stephanie Mills on realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.


Up for Auction: Eminem’s Childhood Home

When rapper Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, was a teenager, he lived in a small home with his mother in Detroit’s Greenbrier neighborhood. Today, the house is boarded up and abandoned, and it’s up for auction on the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority website, the Detroit Free Press first reported.

from Zillow

from Zillow

According to property records, Deborah Mathers bought the home in 1989 and lived there until 2003, well after Eminem’s rise to stardom. His 2000 album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” features an image of the home on its cover, and this past weekend the rapper tweeted a cover image from the upcoming “Marshall Mathers LP 2,” which also shows a photo of the home.

Located at 19946 Dresden St, Detroit MI, 48205, the 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath house is just a few blocks from 8 Mile Road; Eminem starred in the drama “8 Mile” in 2002, winning the Academy Award for best original song.

Like many properties in Detroit, Eminem’s childhood home has been affected by the city’s declining economy and has been foreclosed on several times, including in 2004 for $32,500, and in 2007 for $24,650. The most recent foreclosure was in late 2011, when the Michigan Land Bank took over the property. Zillow currently values the home at $32,948.

As part of the effort to temper the problem of foreclosures and abandoned properties in Detroit, the state of Michigan began the Land Bank program to “promote economic growth in this state through the acquisition, assembly and disposal of public property.”

Although Eminem is still active in his hometown, currently producing a Web show, “Detroit Rubber,” about a local shoe company, the rapper won’t likely be buying his old house. He currently lives in a sprawling 20,055-square-foot home in Rochester Hills, MI.

This article was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See it here.

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” Loft For Sale

A penthouse apartment occupied by Steven Spielberg during the filming of “Lincoln” has come to market in Richmond, VA. The luxury unit, which enjoys views of the downtown metro area and the Virginia state Capitol, is currently listed for $1.295 million.

From Realtor.com

After scouting areas in Massachusetts, Spielberg ultimately settled on Virginia to film his 2012 historical epic, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Filming of “Lincoln” began in October 2011 in Richmond, where the state Capitol building served as Confederacy headquarters during the Civil War. Parts of the state Capitol and Capitol Square, including the Executive Mansion, were used to film Capitol and White House interior scenes in the movie. Scenes were also filmed in FredericksburgPetersburg and Powhatan, VA.

Known as the Scudder Residence, the high-rise loft combines a pair of units, resulting in an open, 2,600-square-foot floor plan. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit was clearly designed with views in mind — floor-to-ceiling glass can be found in almost every room of the apartment and offers a prime vantage point overlooking the downtown area and Richmond’s historic structures.

From Realtor.com

From Realtor.com

The interior of the penthouse features a contemporary design accented by hardwood flooring, recessed lighting and  a soft color scheme. A chef’s kitchen sports custom cabinetry and a large breakfast bar, a small office alcove and a den area with an additional wet bar and pool table. Two indoor parking spaces and a pair of storage units are also included in the sale. Residents of the luxury high-rise are treated to a gym overlooking the Kanawha Canal, and they have a private club room and 24-hour security and concierge service.

From Realtor.com

“Lincoln” was a huge success at the box office, grossing more than $182 million in North America and $275 million worldwide. In addition to its commercial success, the film received widespread acclaim and was nominated for seven Golden Globes and 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Day-Lewis won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Lincoln, and the film also won an award for Best Production Design.

Andrea Levine of One South Realty Group has the listing.

This article was originally published by Neil J. Leitereg on realtor.com. For the original source and more photos, click here.

10 Most Expensive Homes on the Market

Perhaps one of the greatest signs that the real estate market is experiencing a strong recovery? Not one but four listings have entered the market with price tags higher than $100 million — one nearing the $150 million mark.

From a massive Connecticut estate to a prime spread in The Hamptons, here are the 10 priciest homes currently on the market in the United States.

1. $140 million

Undisclosed address, Greenwich, CT

from Zillow

from Zillow

When Copper Beech Farm first hit the market earlier this year at $190 million, it was far and away the most expensive listing, ever. Even with a recent price cut of $50 million, the estate is still the priciest home available in the U.S. The 50-acre estate holds a 13,519-square-foot home with 12 bedrooms and 9 baths on 4,000 feet of coveted waterfront facing Long Island Sound.

The home was built by the Lauder Greenway family (George Lauder was a partner in Carnegie Steel). It was sold 31 years ago to its current owner, John Rudey, who leads several timber companies.

2. $125 million

795 Fifth Avenue Phe & Phw, New York, NY

from Zillow

from Zillow

While Connecticut holds the most expensive home for sale, New York has the greatest number of pricey homes, including this penthouse, which occupies the entire 41st, 42nd and 43rd floors of the Pierre Hotel to create a 16-bedroom residence. Whoever buys this home won’t need to scrape together a down payment: The entire amount will be due in full, as the Pierre Hotel reportedly doesn’t accept financing.

3. $115 million

Undisclosed address, New York, NY

from Zillow

from Zillow

When this condo was constructed, architect Charles Gwathmey wanted it to be “the most sophisticated, stunning and elegant apartment in New York City.” Whether he succeeded or not will be up to the future buyer, but the duplex is sleek and modern with 4 bedrooms and 5.5 baths in 9,000 square feet of living space.

4. $115 million

Beverly House, Los Angeles, CA

from Zillow

from Zillow

Pick your price point for this listing: Drop $115 million to buy the home outright, or pony up $600,000 each month to rent the place. Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the Beverly House sits on 3.7 acres just a few blocks from Sunset Boulevard and like many high-end homes in L.A. has hosted a number of famous owners and guests. William Randolph Hearst spent the final years of his life here, and “The Godfather” was partially filmed on the premises, as was “The Bodyguard,” starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Reportedly, even John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon at the residence.

5. $100 million

Owlwood, Los Angeles, CA

A lot of current information about this residence is on lockdown, with photos and the price hidden behind a password wall on The Agency‘s site. Owlwood, like the Beverly House, has a rich history of celebrity owners and residents, beginning with 20th Century Fox co-founder Joe Schenck, (reportedly Marilyn Monroe stayed in the guesthouse during her rumored affair with Schenck), as well as Tony Curtis and Sonny and Cher.

The home today is one of the largest properties available in L.A., containing three parcels, including the lot that once held Jayne Mansfield’s Pink Palace and another lot previously owned by Esther Williams that still holds the swimming pool and pool house.

6. $95 million

781 5th Ave FL 18, New York, NY

from Zillow

from Zillow

Back to Manhattan for the next priciest listing. This 15-room residence is located in the pre-war Sherry-Netherland building. The Sherry-Netherland began as a boutique hotel and was converted to luxury condos in the 1950s, although a few limited hotel suites are available starting as much as $1,200 a night. 

The full-floor offering, with Central Park views and hotel amenities, is part of the reason for the sky-high apartment price.

7. $90 million

Carolwood Estate, Los Angeles

from Zillow

from Zillow

Like Owlwood, Carolwood is located in Holmby Hills on coveted North Carolwood Drive. The property once held Walt Disney’s home, but when the Walt Disney Foundation sold the home after Walt and Lily Disney passed away, it was determined that the house was a tear-down, due to asbestos concerns. The new owner began constructing a brand-new, custom-designed home that was finished in 2001. It measures 35,000 square feet and has 8 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms. The house sits on 4 acres and includes a wealth of features, including a full wine cellar, pool and pool house, tennis court, putting green, custom movie room, 3 bars, library, gym and 2 safe rooms.

8. $85 million

635 W 42nd St FL 45, New York, NY

from Zillow

from Zillow

When the Atelier building first opened in 2007, rumors swirled that Lindsay Lohan was offered an apartment there for free as a part of a grand marketing scheme. It may have worked: The building has quite a number of celeb tenants, including actor Brendan Fraser, “Entourage” star Dania Ramirez and comedian Dane Cook. While the building’s $85 million full-floor penthouse was never home to a star, it does include 10,000 square feet of space. Curbed NY, however, noted at one point, a buyer could purchase the 40 remaining apartment units, and the full amount still wouldn’t add up to the cost of the single $85 million unit.

9. $75 million

Undisclosed address, New York, NY

from Zillow

from Zillow

Like many of the other expensive apartments on the list, this Manhattan apartment features views of Central Park. Designed by Tony Ingrao, the penthouse occupies an entire floor of the renovated Time Warner Center. At $75 million, the price tag means that the future buyer would be paying more than $9,000 per square foot for the high-end, 8,300-square-foot pad.

10. $75 million

Undisclosed address, East Hampton, NY 

from Zillow

from Zillow

Homes in The Hamptons have long been on the pricey side, so it’s no surprise that one in East Hampton made the most expensive list. Situated on East Hampton’s ”most prestigious private lane” bordering the pond and ocean, the 5.4-acre lot has a 7,500-square-foot main house, barn, 3-bedroom guesthouse and heated pool.

 This article was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. To see the original article, click here

Seven Warning Signs of a Bad Loan

Know the red flags of a loan going bad

Know the red flags of a loan going bad

Chances are you know the seven warning signs of cancer; many people do. But do you know the seven red flags that a lender is taking advantage of you? Or that the loan you are considering is not in your best interests?

If not, the Federal Trade Commission warns in an updated alert, you could end up losing your house and all the equity you’ve built up in it over the years.
“Not all loans or lenders are created equal,” the consumer watchdog agency cautions in the revised bulletin. “Some unscrupulous lenders may offer loans to elderly or low-income homeowners and those with credit problems, promising that the loan will be based on the equity of the home, rather than the homeowner’s ability to repay it.”
Basically, if a loan sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. But beyond that, there are certain tell-tale signs that something is amiss and you should slow down and proceed with extreme caution.
Avoid any lender who:
  • Tells or requires you to falsify information on your application. There is no such thing as a “little white lie” when borrowing money. If you don’t tell the truth, you could go to jail or be fined. But even if you are not prosecuted, you could be forced to pay the loan in full right away. Or you could be getting in way over your head and find yourself on the street.
  • Pressures you into borrowing more money than you need. The only reason a lender wants you borrow more than necessary is to increase his commission. But you’ll probably pay more in interest on the extra dough than you’d earn in interest by stashing it away in a savings account. So stick to what you need and ask for no more.
  • Pushes you into accepting monthly payments you can’t afford. Figure out whether you have enough coming in to cover all your monthly bills, including a new or larger mortgage. And don’t forget to have a little cushion for emergencies. If your outflow is more than your inflow, you will find yourself in trouble rather quickly. Only Uncle Sam can get away with deficits.
  • Fails to provide you with the required loan disclosures, or tells you don’t need to read them. By law, lenders have to tell you the APR, or annual percentage rate, plus provide an itemized list of closing costs within three days after you apply. The APR is a comparison shopping tool that includes not just the interest rate but also points, broker fees and certain other credit charges. The list of closing fees, known as a good faith estimate, will cover these charges as well as everything else you’ll be asked to pay at settlement. If yours is considered a “high-rate, high-fee” loan, the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, gives you additional rights and protections. For example, if total fees and points exceed a certain amount for 2003, the figure is $488 or 8 percent of the total loan amount you must get some disclosure three business days before closing. All of this is valuable information, so take as long as necessary to read it. And if you don’t understand it, consult with someone you trust for an explanation. That could be an attorney, financial advisor or your local credit counseling agency.
  • Promises one thing and delivers another. If you are presented one set of terms when you apply for the loan and a completely different set at closing, your antenna should wiggle and you should demand an explanation. Actually, even if your lender explains what’s going on, it’s probably a good idea to step back and take another, harder look at what he’s asking you to agree to. And be prepared to walk away and take your business elsewhere.
  • Tells you it is okay to sign blank forms. It is never okay to sign a blank form. Period. End of story. So don’t allow the lender to fill in the blanks later. If there is a blank, cross it out and initial your mark.
  • Says you can’t have copies of the papers you are signing. Or won’t give you copies of the documents you’ll be asked to sign.
  • Lenders may not give you the actual filled-in papers in advance, but they should be willing to give you blank documents that have not yet been filled in so you can take them home and review them or show them to a trusted advisor. If they won’t, wonder if they have something to hide.
  • And if the lender won’t give you copies of what you’ve signed at closing, cancel the deal right then and there. These papers contain important information about your rights and obligations. If your lender doesn’t want you to have a set, something’s terribly wrong.

This article was originally published by Lew Sichelman on Realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Pirate Bay and Boathouse For Sale

Sink me! If ye’ve got a longin’ fer open waves, plunder an’ a more swashbucklin’ lifestyle, ye will want t’ turn yer attention t’ Camden, ME, where th’ ultimate pirate alcove lists fer $2.49 million.

From Realtor.com

Built in 1904, th’ American Boathouse be geared fer th’ galleon-lover in yer family. Situated at th’ bow o’ Camden Inner Harbor, th’ property features 6,800 square feet o’ residential an’ commercial wit’ a wee buccaneer abode, a prime southern waterfront exposure an’ its own pier an’ float system.

From Realtor.com

Think about th’ possibilities. Not only could ye own yer own swashbuckler bay, ye can own th’ entire enchilada when it comes t’ adventurer out-riggin’. So be quick about it; this opportunity be shippin’ out soon!

From Realtor.com

This article was originally published by Neil J. Leitereg on Realtor.com. To see the original article and more photos of this listing, click here.

Our 7th Annual Chili Cook-Off & Dessert Auction Approaches!

This year all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society!


Every year we look forward to this event! We’ve had a fantastic time in the past years raising money for Breast Cancer.

We usually have about 25 participants who enter their chili-and it’s all you can eat! This event is by special invitation only (not open to the public for health code reasons); however, each year our outcome is larger than the previous year.  Funds raised last year were just a little over $2,600.

What’s better than supporting a good cause, simply by eating yummies? This is a beautiful 3-layer vanilla velvet cake from last year in the dessert auction.

In the basement of Broadway Christian Church, our Realtor Paul Smith auctions away desserts.

Who can forget about this chili entry from last year? Jeff Radel’s “Kick-Butt Man Chili” was a force to be reckoned with.

And last but not least, our winner of the Chili contest from last year was Tamala Anderson, from the closing department. Despite even campaign efforts of other competitors for votes, she won on taste alone. Will she win again? The suspense thickens…