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.

De-clutter Your Home

Consider this list of creative ways to de-clutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes: Put at least twenty-five items away in five minutes.  If the item does not have a home, or is no longer needed, place it in a donation box.  2. Give away one item each day. This is manageable de-cluttering, simply done one item at a time.  3.  Fill one trash bag: This is an easy way to process excess papers and packaging that is no longer necessary.  When the bag is full, you are done with that task.   4.  Try the Closet Hanger Experiment: To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction.  After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction.  After six months, you will have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard.   5.  Take the 12-12-12 Challenge: A simple task of locating twelve items to throw away, twelve items to donate, and twelve items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize thirty-six things in your house. You can select a smaller number for children to process.  6. The Four-Box Method: As you set out to de-clutter an area, set up four boxes:  trash, give away, keep, and relocate.  Each item in every room is placed into one of the four categories.  No item is passed over; each is considered individually.  Some projects may take an hour and others may take days or weeks but the technique and principles remain the same.  No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these six or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it.  There is a beautiful world of freedom hiding behind that clutter.

Household Problems You Can Solve

There are problems around the house that you should certainly call a professional to fix, such as a leaking roof, but here are some solutions to common problems that you can fix on your own:

Problem:  Countertop scuff

You will need a crayon, a spatula knife, and a microwave-safe bowl.  Pick the crayon whose color comes closest to matching your countertop.  Peel off the paper, place it in the bowl and place in the microwave.  Pour the hot, melted crayon onto the scuff mark and work it into the indentation with the spatula knife.  Scrape off the excess with the spatula knife.  The crayon mixture will harden and dry quickly, erasing the countertop flaw.

Problem:  Loose cabinet hinge

You will need wooden matches, wood glue and a hammer.  Remove the cabinet hinge screw.  Dab wood glue on a match and stick it into the screw holes.  Tap it in with the hammer.  Break off the match part that is sticking out.  Let the glue dry for about four hours.  Twist the screw back into place.  The match piece will create a new solid base for the screw.

Problem:  Squeaky floor

You will need talcum powder.  Sprinkle the powder over the squeaky section and sweep it into the cracks.

Problem:  Stained bathtub

You will need cream of tartar, baking soda, lemon juice and a soft cloth.  Combine equal amounts of cream of tartar and baking soda with enough lemon juice to make a paste.  Rub the mixture into the stain with your fingers or a soft cloth.  Let it sit for a half hour, then rinse well with water.

Problem:  Drywall hole

You will need wire screen, a pencil, a joint knife, masking tape, sandpaper and drywall compound.  Cut the wire screen two inches larger than the hole.  Tie one end of the string to the pencil and thread the other end through the middle of the screen; bend the screen, and insert it and the pencil into the hole.  Pull the string until the screen is flat against the hole ( the pencil will help push the screen flat against the drywall) and hold it taut while you apply the drywall compound.  Tape the string to the wall to hold the screen in place as the compound dries.  Cut the string when dry.   Sand and smooth the compound with the joint knife.

Problem:  Torn window screen

You will need clear nail polish.  Slather the nail polish over the hole in the screen, both inside and outside.  Let it dry and no more bugs will sneak in.  (This is my favorite!)

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.

Countdown to Home Buying

The market is improving; inventory is low.  Check this countdown list to make sure you are ready to purchase:

1.  Get Pre-approved.  You are pre-approved when your credit has been checked and confirmed and your income, assets and employment history have been verified.  Be careful; some so-called pre-approvals are not worth the paper they are written on.  I have received “pre-approval” letters from lenders and submitted them with offers to purchase only to find out later that the buyer was not able to obtain a loan.  Sometimes it is advantageous to work with loan officers at the bank with which you do business, as they have a vested interest in your continuing to do business with them.

2.  Temper your expectations.  Listing inventory in the Palos Verdes area and the entire South Bay is only 50% of what it was last year.  This means that if you want to stick to any sort of budget, you are not likely going to get everything you want or you will have to be patient.  Have a clear understanding of your needs, wants and wishes, so you will take action when the right home becomes available.

3.  Be ready to compete.  Unless you are willing to purchase a home an outlying area or in need of a lot of repairs, prepare yourself to make multiple offers and compete with other buyers in the market.

4.  Be prepared to act quickly.  When you find the home of your dreams, you need to be ready to rush to get it.  If you do not act quickly and start making preparations right away, you may find yourself left out in the cold when it comes time for your offer to be accepted.

5.  Watch your behavior at open houses.  Everything you do and say when in front of the listing agent (seller’s agent) or his representative will inevitably be shared with the seller and may come back to haunt you when your make an offer the purchase the home.  Both being too excited about the home or nit-picking the condition of the home can put you at a disadvantage at the negotiating table.

6.  Call your real estate agent.  Actually, this step should be first.  Contact me at 310-995-3754 or Katie@katiemuck.com as soon as you would like to begin the process!