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.

90274 Zip Code Facts

The 90274 zip code includes the cities of Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills and the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County (Palos Verdes Peninsula).

There are 9437 households of which 87% are owner occupied;  71% are married; 35% have children.   The median home sales price is $1,225,000.  The median age of the inhabitants of this zip code is 31.88 years; 38% have a bachelor degree and 25% have graduate degrees.  83% are white collar workers, mostly in service industries and most commute by car thirty 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.

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Secrets for Selling Your Home

Selling a house is a complicated process, no matter how good the real estate market is.  Whether you are a first-time seller or not, you will probably have a bunch of questions.  What is closing?  How much paperwork am I going to fill out?  How can I get the best price for my house?  How can I sell my house and buy a new one at the same time?

Secret #1: The kitchen comes first.  You are not actually selling your house; you are selling your kitchen-that is how important it is.  The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless and the best part of it is that you will probably get 85% of your money back.  It may be a few thousand dollars to replace counter-tops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated.  The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware.  Use neutral-colored paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style.  If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance.  Why one?  Because when people see one high-end appliance, they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Secret#2: Take the home out of your house.  One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it.  The more personal belongings in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there.  Get rid of at least a third of your things; put it in storage.  This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes.  Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home.  Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Secret #3: Audit your real estate professional’s online marketing.  92% of home buyers start their house hunt online, and they will never even get in the car to come see your home if the online listings are not compelling; compelling means pictures.  Listings with more than six pictures are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers as listing that had fewer than six photos.  Be sure to ask your agent to only include attractive pictures and this means no ugly pictures of the toilet with its seat up.

Secret#4: Renovate wisely.  The average remodeling payback in the past ten years has dropped from 82% in 2003 to 60.6% this year, according to Remodeling Magazine. Bringing up the rear are a dedicated home office and adding a sun room.  Topping the list are steel entry-door replacements followed by fiber-cement exterior siding.  Sellers routinely underestimate the positive impact of simple home improvements such as repainting and minor fix-ups.

Secret#5: Sweeten the deal.  Another way to make the home and deal more attractive to buyers is to offer things or terms that might sweeten the pot.  For example, sellers that offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs, or a credit for the purchase of new flooring receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes.  In a down market buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feeling they are getting one.

Secret#6: Make all necessary repairs.  Even minor things, such as a leaky faucet or chipped paint on a baseboard, can suggest to buyers that you might not be maintaining the house well in other ways, too.

Secret#7: Focus on curb appeal.  First impressions matter.  A house with chipping paint, overgrown bushes and patchy grass will not make a good impression.  You may have to spend money to make the exterior of your house more appealing, but it is money well spent if it gets potential buyers in the door.  If your house is in good shape on the outside, buyers will see it as one less thing they have to spend money on once they move in.

 

Don’t List Your Home Until You Are Ready to Show It

I have noticed that many times in today’s market that a home is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but the property cannot be shown until after the first brokers open house or cannot be shown until a week from the date the listing was submitted.  The reason for this delay is often due to fact that the owner needs time to prepare the house for sale.   I urge all home sellers to be ready to show their homes on the date they are listed.  The way our MLS works is that agents with buyers for a house like yours enter their search parameters into the MLS and the buyer may be put on an automatic e-mailing system; when a house that matches a buyer’s criteria is listed on the MLS, he will be automatically notified, many times immediately after the listing was entered.  In today’s market there is a shortage of homes on the market in the Palos Verdes area and in the other South Bay cities.  Buyers who are looking for a home like yours are anxious to see it when it comes on the market.  Being told they must wait “takes the wind out of their sails”.

I recommend being totally prepared to show your home the minute it is put on the market.  There are possibly a number of prospects waiting and I believe your chances of getting top dollar for your home may be better shown to those motivated buyers than waiting to show until after brokers, who may not have buyers for your home, are allowed to stream through it.  If you list your home a week or so before you are ready to show it, the wording, “Will not be listed in the Multiple Listing Service until…” can be added into the listing contract and a waiver filed with our local association of Realtors.

Lack of Homes for Sale Boosts Sales Prices

Tight housing inventory hurts September home sales

A continued shortage of available homes for sale lowered California home sales in September, while the median price reached the highest level in more than four years, C.A.R. reported this week.  Sales in September were down 5.2 percent compared with August and down 1.2 percent compared with September 2011.  The statewide median price of an existing single-family detached home inched up 0.3 percent from August’s $343,820 median price to $345,000 in September.  The September figure was up 19.5 from a revised $288,700 recorded in September 2011, marking the seventh consecutive month of both month-to-month and year-to-year price
increases.  September’s median price was the highest since August 2008, when the median price was $352,730.  The year-to-year increase was the largest since May 2010.
“For the state, at 3.7 months of supply, unsold inventory is still less than half what it would be in a normal market,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  “As a result of the constrained supply at the moderate and lower end of the market, sales of homes priced under $200,000 dropped nearly 28 percent, and homes priced $200,000-$300,000 fell more than 15 percent in September.  By contrast, in the upper price range, where inventory isn’t as much of an issue, sales of homes priced $400,000-$500,000 rose more than 14 percent, and those priced above $500,000 increased more than 15 percent.”

Go Ahead; Make the Offer

The inventory of homes on the market in the Palos Verdes  is only 40% of the inventory last year; therefore, some homes are getting multiple offers at present. If you find a home you like, make an offer.  My listing partner and I recently put a very desirable home on the market and held it open to the public the Sunday after we took the listing.  We did not advertise in the newspapers, but we put out ten lead-in signs.  We opened at 1PM and planned to close at 5PM.  We had so many people viewing the home that we did not close until 6:30 PM; definitely one of the best open houses ever.  One couple came through and said they wanted to submit an offer through their agent.  They said the house was over priced and asked me what they should offer.  I told them to talk to their agent, as I represent the seller.  Their agent called me and said they might make a low offer or simply wait until the price came down.  I told the agent, “That won’t happen with this property.  It will be sold by the end of the week.”  Another couple came through who really liked the home.  The wife is an agent and I told her not to wait and to make the best offer they could because there were other people interested in the house.  They wrote a good offer and the house sold for near the asking price.  The couple who were waiting for the price to come down were very disappointed and their agent called me urging me to let him know if anything went awry with the accepted offer.  Again, if you find a home you love, make the offer.

I had another listing recently where a prospective buyer asked me to find out what the sellers’ bottom line was because he did not want to go back and forth with offers and counter offers.  I got the sellers’ bottom line and relayed it to the buyer, but he continued to dally.  Another offer came in and I called the dallier.  The bottom line is that he ended up paying a hefty sum more for the home than he would have had he made the offer before another offer came in.

I know that there is still a lot of fear about paying too much for a home in today’s market, but remember that a home is more than just an investment.   Your home is where you will live and not just any home will do. When you find the home that you love, make an offer.