A Brief Suggestion for Those Looking at Houses to Buy

When I show homes to potential buyers, I notice that I am always looking up toward the ceiling in the rooms. I often notice evidence of leaks. It dawned on me that when buyers are viewing homes, if they are couples, one should be looking up, as I do, but the other should be looking down. That way, any potential problems with the property should be detected.

Some Little Tips for Selling Your Home

 

1. Pricing it right: Find out what your house is worth and work with your agent (hopefully me!) to establish a price that will bring buyers with offers.

2. Half-empty closets: Storage is something a buyer is looking for and never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets, then neatly organize what is left. Be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

3. Light it up: Maximize the light in your home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, and increase the wattage of your light bulbs.

4. Conceal your pets: Not everyone is a dog or cat lover. The bowl of dog food, the smell of the litter box, tufts of pet hair may give buyers the impression that your house is not clean.

5. Do not over upgrade: Quick fixes before selling should pay off, but major makeovers may not. Do updates that that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls (I have a great painter, if you need one), replace door handles and cabinet knobs, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout (a toothbrush with cleanser works),

6. Depersonalize: The more personal items in your house, the less potential buyers can visualize themselves living there. Also, I have had buyers who looked at personal items so much that they really did not see the features of the home.

Homebuyer Do’s and Don’ts When Getting a Loan

  • DO continue to make payments on time for current mortgages, cars, credit cards, etc..
  • DO paper trail, document, and explain any large or unusual deposits or withdrawals into accounts such as checking, savings, stock, etc.
  • DO keep pay stubs, bank statements, tax forms, etc., in case the lender needs to update the documentation prior to closing.
  • DO ask questions if something is unclear about the loan program, fees, and/or loan conditions.
  • DO let the loan officer or mortgage broker know if anything changes, for example, your employment, income, assets, credit history, etc.
  • DO document that the earnest money deposit has cleared your account; obtain a copy of the cancelled check and/or statement that reflects the funds have cleared.
  • DO lock-in the interest rate.  These are ordinarily thirty to sixty days and definitely worth it if rates are trending upward.
  • DO have homeowner’s insurance agent information available and provide updated documentation (pay stubs, bank statements, etc.) in a timely manner so as not to delay the closing.
  • DO NOT increase credit card balances and/or loan balances.
  • DO NOT apply for additional or new credit or put balances on a paid credit card.
  • DO NOT ignore late payment and/or collection notices that are received during the loan process.
  • DO NOT purchase anything that is “same as cash”, as it will show on the credit report as a new debt.
  • DO NOT buy furniture, a new car or appliances on credit until after closing.  This is the most common “don’t” action that has occurred during my sales.
  • DO NOT lend money to family members or friends if the money is needed for closing.
  • DO NOT store money at home; place it in a bank account so it can be documented as savings throughout the loan process and can qualify as assets on hand.
  • DO NOT have overdrafts on a checking account.
  • DO NOT quit or change jobs during the loan process.

 

 

Taking Care of an Empty House

Often we have listings of homes for sale or lease that are vacant for a few months.  Sitting vacant is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a house.  I make sure I or the owner visit empty listings at least once a week.  Here are some things to be sure to check.

Run the water: Every time I show the home or am checking the home, I run the water in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc. and flush all the toilets.  If this is not done sewer gases will accumulate in the drains and when someone occupies the house and starts using the shower or toilet, a very foul odor will permeate throughout the house.

Run the garbage disposal: Some garbage disposals tend to freeze up when not used; run the disposal when you turn on the kitchen faucet.

Toilet lids: Another thing to be aware of is that if the lids on the toilets are closed, mildew accumulates in the toilet bowls and is unsightly for a prospective buyer or lessee.  Put the seats down but leave the lids up is my advice.

Air out the house: Open windows and doors periodically to get rid of that vacant house smell.

Check the smoke detectors: If you hear a chirping noise it is probably one of the smoke detectors needing new batteries; this is an aggravation for people viewing the house as well as being a possible breach of safety.

Be sure to lock all doors: One of my worst fears is that someone will move into a vacant home; it can take years to get them out.  Plus, think of how scary it would be to enter a house and find someone there.

Check the yard: Sometimes, the sprinklers get out of whack and some parts of the yard are not getting any water.  This leaves dead grass areas that are unsightly.

Check the gutters: Take a look at the rain gutters to make sure they are not full of leaves and other debris.  If the gutters are full and there is a rain storm, water will flow over to the edge of the roof and can cause a lot of damage.

Check around the front door: Remove any free newspapers, magazines or door hangers that have been delivered since your last visit.

Check the lights: Most showings are during the day, but some are after dark, and it can be pretty creepy for the agents and their clients if there are some lights that do not operate.  Usually, a light bulb just needs replacing.

 

 

Taking care of your empty house will likely bring a higher price in a shorter time.

 

Interesting 90275 ZIP Code Facts

The 90275 zip code is the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  There are 15,633 households of which 76% are owner occupied; 66% are married; 39% have children.   The median home sales price is $845,000.  The median age of the inhabitants of this zip code is 32.37 years; 33% have bachelor degrees and 23% have graduate degrees.  82% are white collar workers, mostly in service industries and most commute by car thirty-one minutes to their places of work.

This information was obtained from the Realist tax portion of our Multiple Listing Service and though believed to be accurate, is not guaranteed.

 

Is Your Home Ready to Sell?

You waited all winter to sell your home just in time to move during the summer.  You put in the extra work to make your house stand out from all the rest on the market, right?  No matter where you are in the process, review the list below to help you determine what buyers really want and do not want in their future home.

The top three must-haves:

1.  Curb Appeal:  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Your home should sell to the buyer from the curb.   Buyers should be so impressed that they want to leap out of the car and run inside.

How do you create curb appeal? Show attention to detail.  Your home has to be prettier, cleaner and in better condition than its neighbors.  Start with sweeping the drive, walkways and porch or entry of dirt and debris.  Get rid of leggy bushes, wilted flowers and broken tree limbs and plant fresh flowers in the front garden.  Power-wash the exterior and hand wash the windows and touch up paint around the windows, if needed.  I have trusted tradesmen who can do these things for you, if you prefer.  Replace the door hardware and porch sconces.

2.  Space: The number one reason why people buy homes is to have more room.  Whether they are moving from an apartment or moving up from the home they have, they want to have plenty of space.

If you have a large home, you are golden, but that does not mean you have it made.  You can ruin a buyer’s first impression with too much clutter, so make sure to keep your home picked up so your buyer can see your home’s features clearly and easily.

What if you do not have a lot of space?  Plan to do some storing and staging.  Rent a storage unit and put away all out-of-season clothes, toys, home decorations and accessories.  Clean off all tables and counter tops so you have only the minimum of things you need to operate your home.  Empty closets of anything that is stored and move it to the storage unit.  The small expense you will pay in storage fees you will more than make back from a good offer to purchase your home.

3.  Updates: First-time buyers and single people tend to buy older homes because they are more affordable than buying new.  So unless the buyer is a building contractor, chances are he will want a home that is as updated as possible.

Concentrate on the kitchen and bathrooms.  Replace the most dated features such as counter tops, cabinet pulls and appliances.  Bathrooms are so personal that they can easily turn buyers off.  Invest in new towels and bathmats  (use your old ones and replace them with the new ones when you have an appointment to view your home or for an open house).  Throw out slimy soaps and limp ragged bath sponges.  Replace with liquid shower and bath products.  You can take all the newly purchased items to your next home.

Painting is expected by buyers, but do not repaint the same colors that you chose ten years ago.  Pick an updated neutral like a warm gray instead of beige.  Be sure to choose a color that will complement the architecture and flooring in your home.

The typical home purchased in 2013 had 1860 square feet of living space and was built in 1996, so home buyers are not expecting your home to be a mansion, nor do they expect it to be new, but they do expect to see pride of ownership.  The more updates and repairs that you perform, the more confident the buyers will be that they are choosing the right home.

The top five have-nots:

Make sure your home is free and clear of the following items (instant turn-offs).

1.  Overpricing your home: If you have listed your home at a higher price than recommended you will get negative feedback from buyers.  The worst feedback is silence that could include no showings and no offers.  The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home will not see it because they are shopping in a lower price range.  The buyers who do see your home will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.

2.  Smells: Smells can come from a number of sources-pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage and much more.  You may not even notice it, but your agent may tell you something has to be done.  There is not a buyer in the world who will buy a home that smells unless they are investors looking for a bargain.

3. Clutter:  If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail and drinking glasses, buyers’ attention is going to be more focused on breezing through your living room without breaking any glass figurines than in considering your home for purchase.  Too much furniture confuses the eye and makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of the rooms.  If they can not see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

4.  Deferred maintenance:  Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart.  Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home.  Things wear out, break and weather and it is your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.  Buyers really want a home that has been well-maintained.  They do not want to wonder what needs to be fixed next or how much it will cost.

5.  Dated Decor:  People want your neighborhood, but that does not mean they want a dated-looking home.  Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it is from a different era.

Though I am in the business of selling houses, I know it is no easy task to move.  You will receive daily calls from agents to show your home, you will be asked to leave your home during open houses; you will really have to “put your life on hold” until it is sold.  The objective should be to limit the marketing time by making sure your home is the best it can be.