Category Archives: Buying and Selling Tips

Open House Hacks: 9 Tips from Realtor.com

Realtor.com narrows down 9 helpful tips for a successful Open House, including something as simple as “white-ing out” your bathroom by using clean simple white towels. Celeste Perron outlines these 9 tried and true tips. 


Open House Hacks: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

Spaces Images/Getty Images

Whipping your place into its most marketable shape might land you a buyer with a dream offer. And it might all spring from a terrific  open house—the kind where every attendee is entranced, the hors d’oeuvres are delicious, and nothing remotely goes wrong.

You don’t have to hire a pro home stager and rent all new furniture to get the look buyers love. We asked agents and home staging experts for their secret staging hacks. Here are nine little moves that have a great impact for minimal effort or money.

1. Strip the windows

“Light and bright is what sells,” says Randy Wine, a real estate agent in Rutherford, NJ. So pack away your curtains. “They might be beautiful, but they’ll darken and date the room. You can leave the sheers, but take down the drapes.”

Pull the blinds all the way up. “If blinds are left in the down but open position, that can reduce light by 50% over the course of the day,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency in Portland, OR. And make sure your windows are sparkling clean; they let in more light and just look nicer, too.

2. White-out the bathroom

Just as hotels use white items to reinforce the idea that they’re clean, white in the bathroom makes things look fresh and new.

“Even if you can’t replace cabinets or countertops, at least purchase fresh white towels,” says Sheila Schostok of Your Home Matters Staging & Redesign in Lake County, IL. And add a white shower curtain, white soap dish, and new white bathmat (though, if your bathroom floor is a selling point, skip the bathmat).

3. Update kitchen fixtures

You don’t need to replace the countertops or even paint to give your kitchen an update. The solution is simpler and cheaper.

“Replacing an old light fixture with a nice modern one from Home Depot can do a lot to improve the look of your kitchen,” says Wine.

If your drawer pulls and cabinet knobs look dated, swap them out for the style and finish that’s most sought-after in your area, whether that’s brushed nickel or polished brass—ask your broker what’s hot.

4. Flip every switch

Lighting up the house by turning on every lamp and overhead light will make prospective buyers confident that you have nothing to hide. Remember, you’re not trying to create “atmosphere” like you would at a dinner party—you’re showcasing a product for sale. Place floor lamps in dark corners. “An inexpensive, high-intensity floor lamp directed at the ceiling can do a lot to make a room look bigger and brighter,” says Wine.

5. Replace wall art with mirrors

Whether your walls feature fine art or family photos, swap those personal pieces out for a large mirror on one or two key walls. Since people’s taste in art varies a lot, you should hide prominent paintings or art photographs unless you are confident they have broad appeal.

“Mirrors have the advantage of maximizing light to make rooms look bigger and brighter,” says Wine. If you have a nice backyard, try placing a mirror on the wall across from the window that looks out on the yard, so the greenery will be reflected and visible from multiple angles in the room.

6. Roll up rugs

Hardwood floors are a major selling point for most buyers, and a rug that’s even slightly stained or tattered is a turn-off. So don’t hide wood floors, unless they’re a mess or your rugs are classic and pristine. Always remove area rugs from your kitchen, because the room will feel cleaner and more spacious without them.

7. Swap out lampshades

To make a room look more light, clean, and modern, replace any old lampshades for new white drum shades, which are cheap and readily available at Ikea and Target.

8. Set the table

Elaborate table settings can have an overly staged look, but if your dining room table has seen better days or the room could use some livening up, set the table with simple modern place settings from CB2 or Bed Bath & Beyond. Go for modern white plates, sleek stainless-steel cutlery, and stemless wine glasses atop neutral-hued place mats or a tablecloth. If the room could use a touch of color, add vibrant napkins.

9. Add a metallic accent

Making a room look more luxurious and contemporary is as easy as adding a metallic accessory or two—like a silver leather throw pillow, a bronze side table or garden stool, or a copper tray.

“Metallics add visual appeal, but they’re less controversial than color,” says Wine. “They’re like glamorous neutrals.”

By: Celeste Perron


 

For original article: Open House Hacks: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home

5 Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

The Zillow.com blog outlines 5 tips fo First-Time Home Sellers. Brendon DeSimone shares of the key things to consider as you decide to sell your home.


 

5 Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

Zillow.com

Selling a home is nothing like buying one. Whether you’ve been in the home for four years or 40, first-time sellers need to consider some important points before getting started.

You need the right agent

Unless you’re offering the home For Sale by Owner, you will need to sign an agreement with a real estate agent and their brokerage. You’ll also have to pay a commission. Because the agreement contractually ties you to your agent for three to six months, choosing the right one is more important this time around. Unlike when you were a buyer, you can’t simply come in and out of the market.

You’ve got to be ready to sell

In the Internet age, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Information flows more quickly than ever. If you list your home at an unrealistic price or not in the best condition, the number of days on market (or DOM) will add up — and could come back to bite you later.

Sellers who resist their agents’ pricing suggestions may not be emotionally ready to separate from their home. By overpricing it, they will self-sabotage the sale. It’s better not to list your home than to “try” at a high price or in bad condition.

DOM factors into buyers’ offers

A typical buyer looking at a listing will first notice the price and size. They will then scroll through the photos and look at the listing history. If a home has been on the market more than three months, they may think there is something wrong with it.

Or, what’s worse, when you do get serious and adjust your price or condition to what it’s really worth, buyers will penalize you for it by offering even less.

You’ll never interface with the brokerage — only your agent

The agent you choose matters more than the brokerage, although you should consider both. If you list your home with Suzy at XYZ Brokerage, Suzy will be your only contact with the company.

Agents are independent contractors who choose to hang their license with a company whose brand and culture match their business. While a well-known or large brokerage is an important consideration for listing, if your agent is successful and someone you trust, they will do a good job no matter the brokerage.

If you get an offer, you have to move soon

Once you get an acceptable offer from a buyer and you sign the contract, the clock starts ticking toward your closing. Many sellers underestimate the amount of time it can take to list, sell and close on a home. Know your market before you list, and put a plan in place for where you’ll move when your home sells. If your market moves quickly and your agent expects the home to sell within a few weeks, it might be better to wait.

The best advice for first-time sellers is not to sell until you are ready. Have a plan, know where you are going, and work with a great local agent early on. You should do what it takes to present your home in its best light and price it right.

Selling a home can be very stressful and emotional. Add on top of that packing and moving, and it’s a lot to deal with for anyone. Be sure you’re prepared before you start the process.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Brendon DeSimone


 

10-Step Guide to Buying a House

The Realtor.com Team sums up 10 great to know steps for buying your first home. Having bought my first home in Summit County, I’m familiar with the ins and outs of property ownership here and would be more than happy to help you fall in love with your own mountain home.

Anne Skinner


 

Realtor.com

The 10-Step Guide to Buying a House

By: The Realtor.com Team

Buying a house may be the most complicated financial process of your entire life. Luckily, we’ve broken it down into 10 straightforward steps:

1. Are you ready to become a homeowner?
Whether you’re becoming a homeowner for the first time or you’re a repeat buyer, buying a house is a financial and emotional decision that requires the experience and support of a team of reliable professionals.

2. Get a Realtor®
In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing, and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local Realtors who serve your area.

3. Get a mortgage pre-approval
Most first-time buyers need to finance their home purchase, and a consultation with a mortgage lender is a crucial step in the process. Find out how much you can afford before you begin your home search.

4. Look at homes
A quick search on our site will bring up thousands of homes for sale.  Educating yourself on your local market and working with an experienced Realtor can help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about which home to choose.

5. Choose a home
While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you choose to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities, you’ll be happy living in it for years to come.

6. Get funding
The cost of financing your home purchase is usually greater than the price of the home itself (after interest, closing costs, and taxes are added). Get as much information as possible regarding your mortgage options and other costs.

7. Make an offer
While much attention is paid to the asking price of a home, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value—or additional costs—for buyers.

8. Get insurance
No sensible car owner would drive without insurance, so it figures that no homeowner should be without insurance, either. Real estate insurance protects owners in the event of catastrophe. If something goes wrong, insurance can be the bargain of a lifetime.

9. Closing
The closing process, which in different parts of the country is also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” is increasingly computerized and automated. In practice, closings bring together a variety of parties who are part of the real estate transaction.

10. What’s next?
You’ve done it. You’ve looked at properties, made an offer, obtained financing, and gone to closing. The home is yours. Is there any more to the home-buying process? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a repeat buyer, you’ll want to take several more steps.


 

If Summit County or Vail is where you would like to be, let me help you find your dream mountain home. 

Anne Skinner

7 Home Buying and Selling Tips From the Property Brothers

The Property Brothers is one of my favorite HGTV shows. My husband and I were able to collect a ton of inspiration for our first home from their episodes. Shannon Petrie with HGTV outlines The Property Brothers 7 Home Buying and Selling Tips that might help you with your home purchase. 


 

Photo: Caitlin Croneberg; HGTV’s The Property Brothers

By: Shannon Petrie

Jonathan says: “In order to pump these homes out as fast as the builders want to, some of them cut corners like not waiting long enough for concrete to cure properly or hiring untrained labor forces. I’m not saying new construction is bad; you just want to find a builder who has a quality product – it’s going to last a lot longer.”

Do your homework when buying a brand-new home.

Jonathan says: “In order to pump these homes out as fast as the builders want to, some of them cut corners like not waiting long enough for concrete to cure properly or hiring untrained labor forces. I’m not saying new construction is bad; you just want to find a builder who has a quality product – it’s going to last a lot longer.”

Know the hidden costs of buying a home.

Drew says: “Over and above the actual purchase price of the home, you may have to dish out some money for land transfer fees, mortgage costs, home insurance, legal costs and title insurance. Ask your real estate agent for a complete list of all the estimated closing costs so the only surprises you get will be the good ones.

Never skip the home inspection.

Jonathan says: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a home inspection, whether you’re getting a fixer-upper or or something brand new. The seller most likely will cover any costs of a problem that pops up. If you’re putting an offer in, make it subject to a home inspection, so that way nobody else is going to swoop in and take the property out from under you, and it gives you enough time to make sure the house is actually a good investment.”

Get to know the neighborhood before buying.

Drew says: “Nothing compares to actually walking the neighborhood prior to buying in the community. Pounding the pavement will give you a clear image as to how noisy it is, the density of traffic and what your neighbors are like. Getting to know the locals will give you that insider scoop as to whether or not this is the kind of neighborhood you want to raise your family in.”

Don’t fall for love at first sight.

Drew says: “I always recommend touring at least 10 houses before you put an offer in on one. The first few houses may seduce you aesthetically, but may not really have what you need. When you walk through a home, have a checklist in hand; write down the pros, write down the cons and rate that house from 1 to 10. At the end of a long house hunting day, all the houses are going to blend together, and it’s that checklist that’s going to be the saving grace and will get you your dream home.”

Put safety first when remodeling a home.

Jonathan says: “We make it look like a lot of fun on TV, but things can go seriously wrong if you just blast through a wall with wild ambition. Plan first: For safety, you want to have glasses, masks and gloves. Go down to the circuit breaker and make sure you shut off any electrical in the wall. Finally, just stop frequently and investigate inside the wall where you’ve opened it up to make sure there are no other surprises.”

Simple staging tactics go a long way toward making a quick sale.

Drew says: “Depersonalize: Pack up the family photos and artifacts. Declutter: Clean off the countertops and pack away the knickknacks. As a final touch, make your house sparkle: Wash the windows and clean away the old cobwebs. Simple steps make a huge difference and can lead to a sold sign on your house.”

For the full article and videos from the show that support their 7 tips check out HGTV’s 7 Home Buying and Selling Tips From the Property Brothres.

Even in the Winter You Can Make Your Yard Pop

With the snow falling tonight, it’s official to say winter has arrived in Summit County. An article by Jamie Wiebe on Realtor.com outlines some great tips to keep your yard and landscape looking good even in the winter especially if you are selling.


Realtor.com…Erika Craddock/Getty Images

Selling Your Home This Winter? You Can Still Make Your Yard Pop

By
Jamie Wiebe


 

Selling your home in the winter is hard enough without snow.

Add some frozen tundra or gray-brown slush, and you might be tempted to put that “For Sale” sign away until spring, when budding flowers and lush lawns entice buyers on their own. But waiting isn’t an option for everyone. If a job transfer or family circumstances have you on a tight timeline, you might be stuck trudging through the wintertime sell.

Don’t lose hope—winter can be a fabulous time to sell if you know how to capitalize on the market. High on the priority list: Know how to make your home stand out from all those other sad, cold houses on the block.

Winter landscaping is far from an oxymoron—it’s a necessity. Here are some easy solutions to improve the appearance of your snow-covered yard this winter.

Put in the work

Before you throw up your hands and call it a lost cause, remember this: To achieve a winter wonderland of a yard, the most important ingredient is some good old-fashioned sweat equity.

“Simple yard maintenance can go a long way,” says Steve Firlit, president of Firlit Landscape Design in Rochester, NY.

If the leaves are still falling, get out your rake; if it’s winter, make sure to neatly shovel your sidewalks, porch, and driveway. And don’t neglect your bushes and shrubs during the cold months—pruning them occasionally gives the landscape a “tidier, neater look,” Firlit says.

“If you’re making the effort to sell the house, put in a little bit of elbow grease,” he says. “You want to show off your landscaping on the front of the house.”

Dress up your garden beds

Your beds may not be filled with flowers, but that doesn’t mean they should look dreary. While adding mulch won’t help plants grow when the ground is frozen, it will give your garden a visual makeover and help you catch a buyer’s eye.

Firlit recommends re-edging your garden beds and giving them a light coating of mulch, covering up dead material and making the landscaping pop.

“It gives the appearance that the planting beds are kept up and neat-looking,” he says. “That goes a long way.”

Mix in color and greenery

Just because your flowers are dead for the season doesn’t mean your home’s exterior should be, too.

There are a number of hardy plants that can survive the winter. Some require forethought—shrubs such as the vibrant, red flowering quince need to be planted no later than fall, and the imposing boxwood requires time for growing and shaping. But others, such as Christmas greens, can be found at your local nursery and do well potted on porches.

Firlit suggests trying a seasonal wintertime arrangement. Winter greens such as holly and pine hold their color throughout the winter, which means you won’t be rushing out to refresh your plants every time your agent hosts an open house. Intertwine these with colorful fabric from a crafts store and dried flowers to create attention-grabbing arrangements.

“Color makes people feel warm and fuzzy,” says Firlit.

(Pro tip: Stop by your garden center shortly after Christmas to get some great deals on seasonal greenery.)

Add lighting

As the days get shorter, lighting up your home’s exterior becomes more important. Start with path lighting—which helps with navigation—and build up your lighting scheme to highlight your home’s best features.

“If you want the house to pop out from the roadside, temporary lighting can go a long way,” Firlit says.

Spotlight obvious focal points, and add small lighting at the bottom of your water features or showstopper trees such as the Japanese maple.

Don’t leave your home in the dark, either. If you’re lucky enough to have beautiful brick or stone veneer, Firlit recommends soft spotlights to highlight the architectural details.

“When you drive by along the road, it’ll grab you,” Firlit says.

When it comes to winter home sales, any method to attract the attention of prospective buyers is a worthy investment. Lights aren’t only a great idea—they’re a necessity.

Don’t ignore the backyard

After a big snowfall, we’re sure you at least try to keep your front yard in order, but when was the last time you took your shovel out back?

If you’re trying to sell your home during the snowy winter, this is a vital step. You should even consider hauling out your patio furniture during open houses to help visitors determine how they would use the space.

Sweep off other features, too, such as fountains, decorative paving, or the pool area. Mentioning them in the listing isn’t enough—if you want every advantage possible in a difficult winter market, you need to make buyers understand the glory of the home in the spring and summer.

“If there’s snow on the ground, it’s hard to visualize what’s underneath it,” Firlit says. “It’s one thing to show off the inside of the house, but families with kids or who want to entertain will want to see the landscaping.”

For original article visit Realtor.com