Staging Tips to Help A Home Sell Fast

The numbers don’t lie; often well-staged homes can see faster sales and higher offers than their cluttered counterparts. The key is getting an early start on the process. By beginning the monumental task of clearing the clutter and doing a pre-pack now, you can reduce the stress of preparing for showings and make it easier to move when your home sells.

Try these five staging and organizing tips to help you reach a faster sale.

Purge From Top to Bottom Do a proper sort and purge, getting rid of outdated clothing, duplicate items and rarely used gadgets. To keep this task from turning into a source of serious frustration, tackle one room (or even one drawer) at a time.

Pack Up Everything but the Essentials Start pre-packing your home, storing non-essentials or out-of-season gear in the garage or off-site. The idea is to give potential buyers a sense of space, which can’t be done if your home is overloaded with clutter.

Fix Glaring Problems Remove out-of-style wallpaper, replace broken light fixtures, update cabinet and drawer pulls, and refresh dated window treatments. Simple fixes like these can make your home stand out from the competition.

Depersonalize Remove family pictures and personal collections, and replace them with neutral artwork and simple accessories. The idea is to give potential buyers a neutral canvas so they can imagine their belongings in your home.

Go for Polished Research the latest design trends and stage your house to match. Professional stagers recommend tailoring the design style to your target demographic. For example, if you’re in a family neighborhood, style the bedrooms for children, even if none live in your home.

sandymueller2I look forward to helping you buy and sell your next home!!

How to Prepare For a Home Inspection When Selling Real Estate

Home-inspection-2-e1354403477379How to prepare for a home inspection is a thought that more seller’s should consider. Unfortunately many do not. One of the things that is quite common in the majority of all Real Estate transactions is a home inspection that is paid for by the buyer and performed by a licensed professional home inspector. When selling Real Estate a home inspection is typically done within the first couple weeks after an offer has been submitted by the buyer and accepted by the seller. The Real Estate lingo used is called a “home inspection contingency.”

This contingency is spelled out in the agreed upon Real Estate contract. The typical language in most purchase and sale agreements gives the buyer an out to terminate the contract if serious structural or mechanical defects are found during the home inspection. In some contracts there will be a specified dollar amount that gives the buyer the option of revoking the contract if issues are discovered in excess of this agreed upon figure.

In a Real Estate transaction, the home inspection is one of the biggest hurdles a home seller faces in order to have successful sale. It stands to reason that you will want to make an effort to have your home in the best possible condition before the home inspection actually takes place.  I can tell you from experience of being a Realtor for the past twenty six years, the home inspection is where most home sales fall apart.

So how do you prepare for a home inspection? It may seem pretty obvious, but making sure your home is in tip top showing condition is often overlooked before an inspection.  A home inspector is not necessarily looking at your mess but an unkempt home will give the impression of uncaring owners who possible may miss regular maintenance of items that shouldn’t be neglected.

Every home seller should keep in mind that the home inspection almost always becomes a second round of negotiations, especially when it is a buyer’s Real Estate market. The buyer may ask you to fix a long list of defects that are discovered, provide them with a credit to deal with the issues, or in a worse case just back out of the agreement all together.

So what you should do to prepare for a home inspection is to eliminate any of the known defects that are clearly visible prior to the home going on the market? Home sale preparation is one of the keys to selling Real Estate today anyways so you will to make sure your home shows it’s best.

One suggestion to make the home inspection go more smoothly is to make it easier for the home inspector to do his job.  Some simple things that may not enter your mind is to make sure the inspector can access the attic and the entire basement.

Often times I have been at inspections where the attic hatch is located in a closet and is blocked by clothes or other items. In a basement you will want to make sure the inspector can see all and move around near all the exterior walls. A clear path around all the mechanical items, including the furnace, water heater and electrical panel will be necessities as well. These are easy and simple tips you can do to prepare for a home inspection. Below you will find some of the best home inspection remedies before listing your home for sale. I will discuss a few more home inspection preparation items a bit later.

Common Defects Found at Home Inspections

One of the best ways to prepare for a real estate home inspection is to understand what some of the most probable home defects the home inspector is likely to find. There are some common defects that are found in many homes, that as a home owner you may not have even paid much attention to. After living in a home for many years sometimes we get used to things being a certain way.

Sometimes it would not even cross our minds that a small defect may be a bigger issues to someone else. I am going to review some of the more obvious and commonplace defects that I have seen at home inspections over the years. With this knowledge in hand at least you will have the opportunity to make some corrections before your home goes on the market. These important home inspection preparation tips can go a long way in keeping your real estate transaction moving along smoothly.

Ceiling Stains – one of the things in homes that troubles home buyer’s more than anything else is the fear of water. Nobody wants to have a water issue in their home. Over the years I have sold thousands of homes and the vast majority of them have had some form of a ceiling stain. In many instances the stain occurred from something innocuous like a toilet overflowing or one of the kids leaving the shower curtain open.

Buyer’s however may not assume it is something so simple. In other cases a ceiling stain could have been caused by an ice dam. The trick of course from the buyer’s perspective is to find out if the ice damming is going to occur over and over again from a roofing or gutter defect. In some instances it may be a rare occurrence where there was a twenty five year storm. In any event you will want to make sure the ceiling stains are removed.

Electrical violations – Electrical issues are most common in homes where Mr. home owner has decided to do improvements on his own and has not hired an electrician. Often times work is not done to code which creates issues. Some of the other more prevalent problems include lack of GFI outlets (Ground Fault Interrupter) if the kitchen and baths. These are outlets designed to eliminate the possibility of electrocution if water comes in contact with electricity. Double tapped electrical breakers are another example. A double tap is when a breaker in the electrical panel has more than one wire creating a hazard from too much current going through one breaker. Ungrounded outlets are another defect you commonly see along with a whole host of others.

Improper bathroom venting – years ago almost every home that had some kind of a bath fan just dumped the exhaust into the attic. Over the years it was discovered that doing this provided the perfect breeding ground for mold in attics. This makes perfect sense as you a dumping a ton of moisture into a less ventilated space. The thought of mold can easily cause a buyer not to want to proceed with purchasing a home.  Building codes have since changed and in most homes built today it is required that a bath fan vent to the exterior of a home most often through the roof. A word of advice….check your attic for mold if you have not been up there for a while. I have found that when an inspector discovers mold most of the time the owner never knew it was there.

Rotted exterior wood – Most of the time rotted wood is due to lack of maintenance i.e waiting too long to paint your home. When uncovered wood is wet for too long it tends to rot. The most common areas include exterior trim, window trim and areas around decks. While rotted wood can occur in any home, many of the homes built in the 1980’s used “finger jointed” wood work which was an inferior product.

Minor plumbing defects – It is very rare not to find some kind of minor plumbing defect. The good news on this one is that they are usually very easy to fix. Some of the more common defects include dripping faucets, loose toilets, and slow or leaky drains. Some of the other nuisance issues that are brought to light by home inspectors are leaky valves on boilers and water heaters. Most of the time these are not big issues but routine maintenance that needs to be done by either a plumber or heating contractor.

Failed window seals – A failed window seal is something you see quite often in homes. The way you know a window seal has failed is when you see a window fogging. This means the thermal seal between two panes of glass has leakage. Most homes today are built with thermal pane windows (two panes). You see more homes that were built in the 80’s that have this condition.

Chimney defects – the most common defects in chimney’s are cracks and re-pointing or mortar. More often than not these are found at the very top of the chimney and have occurred over time due to the elements. Bigger issues occur when larger cracks around found from the base of the chimney moving upward. This could indicate more of an unsafe structural issue.

Mold & Radon Remediation – Mold and radon are two of the biggest deal killers in real estate. Prior to a home inspection you should check to make sure you have neither of these issues. Preferably you should check before your home even goes on the market. Mold is something that you can not be sure of unless it is tested by someone in the mold industry. You can however, fairly easily identify what could possibly be mold. Most of the time in homes it will be a black substance that is on the walls or ceilings. The most common places to find mold are attics, basements and baths.

Radon is a gas found under the ground that enters the home through cracks in your concrete or dirt floor. It is a known carcinogen and something that most buyer’s are very cognoscente of. While there are no federal laws in place regarding radon removal, most buyer’s will request you to re-mediate it if it is found to be higher than the suggest passing limit which is 4.0 pCl (picocures per liter). Removing radon in the air is fairly easy to do. When it becomes a much bigger expense is having to remove radon from water.

Disclosure or Fixing Items Prior to Sale

Obviously if you have the money to repair the common home inspection defects mentioned above, it would make sense take it upon yourself to make sure you do! If money is tight, however, I am going to make a suggestion that I do for all of my Real Estate clients.

You should fill out a Real Estate disclosure form and have it available for a buyer to see prior to them making an offer. In this disclosure you are going to want to list in detail all the defects you know about your home. In many states filling out a seller’s disclosure form is mandatory anyways. In Massachusetts it is not but very common none the less.

It is far more difficult for a buyer to try to renegotiate after a home inspection if the defect has already been pointed out to them in black and white prior to them making an offer.

For a seller that may not be sure how to identify potential home inspection issues one suggestion would be to get an independent home sale inspection before going on the market and fixing what is identified by the home inspector. This will at least give you some piece of mind that most everything that could potentially could be raised as an issue will already have been discovered and possibly remedied. Preparing for a home inspection is a common sense activity that every seller should consider!

Prepare For The Home Inspector

One of things that you should be aware of as a home seller is that most home inspectors will arrive at your home in advance of the scheduled home inspection time. Typically the inspector will arrive anywhere from a half hour to forty five minutes ahead of time. A home inspector will do this so they have the opportunity to walk around your home making observations about the property in advance of the buyer arriving. This will give the home inspector a leg up on looking professional once the buyer gets there and starts asking questions.

It is a common practice in  real estate  for the seller not to be around while the home inspection is taking place. There are however things you can do to make the home inspectors job a lot easier before you leave your home.  Here are a few quick tips to prepare for a home inspection.

Make sure all light bulbs are working by changing them prior to the inspection. The inspector will want to be able to view all areas of your home. In addition he or she won’t need additional time to see if the receptacle is not working or if it is just a blown light bulb.
Thin out your closets of clothes so the inspector can see inside them.

Remove items away from basement walls so they can be inspected for cracks and water penetration areas.

If there is a scuttle for access to the attic in a closet make sure it is accessible.
Change the filters to your furnace and leave any service tags so the  inspector can see them.

If your home is vacant make sure the power is on and there is fuel so that the systems can be inspected.

Above all else do not try to conceal any defects you know are present  in the home. The home inspector is going to find the issue anyway but your trying to conceal things will throw up a major red flag. The  last thing you want is to have a buyer think you are dishonest. Al this will do is leave a bad taste in the buyer’s mouth and put you behind the eight ball when the home inspection negotiation process begins.

Hopefully by now you have  realized that how prepare for a home inspection is a vital part of a real estate transaction and one of the keys to keeping your sale on track!

Use these tips on preparing for a home inspection to increase the chances of getting past this important milestone in a real estate transaction.

Article by Bill Gassett.

sandymueller2I look forward to helping you buy and sell your next home!!

Sandy Mueller
Baird & Warner Real Estate

5 Staging Tips for a Faster Home Sale

STAGING TIPS THAT HELP HOMES SELL QUICKLY

stagingtips

The numbers don’t lie; often well-staged homes can see faster sales and higher offers than their cluttered counterparts. The key is getting an early start on the process. By beginning the monumental task of clearing the clutter and doing a pre-pack now, you can reduce the stress of preparing for showings and make it easier to move when your home sells.

Try these five staging and organizing tips to help you reach a faster sale.

Purge From Top to Bottom — Do a proper sort and purge, getting rid of outdated clothing, duplicate items and rarely used gadgets. To keep this task from turning into a source of serious frustration, tackle one room (or even one drawer) at a time.

Pack Up Everything but the Essentials — Start pre-packing your home, storing non-essentials or out-of-season gear in the garage or off-site. The idea is to give potential buyers a sense of space, which can’t be done if your home is overloaded with clutter.

Fix Glaring Problems — Remove out-of-style wallpaper, replace broken light fixtures, update cabinet and drawer pulls, and refresh dated window treatments. Simple fixes like these can make your home stand out from the competition.

Depersonalize — Remove family pictures and personal collections, and replace them with neutral artwork and simple accessories. The idea is to give potential buyers a neutral canvas so they can imagine their belongings in your home.

Go for Polished — Research the latest design trends and stage your house to match. Professional stagers recommend tailoring the design style to your target demographic. For example, if you’re in a family neighborhood, style the bedrooms for children, even if none live in your home.

sandymueller2I look forward to helping you buy and sell your next home!!

Sandy Mueller
Baird & Warner Real Estate

 

House Hasn’t Sold Yet? Take Another Look at the Price

Price-KCMIf your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house.

The residential housing market has been hot. Home sales have bounced back solidly and are now at their second highest pace since February 2007. Demand remains strong going into the winter. Many real estate professionals are reporting that multiple offers are occurring regularly and listings are actually selling above listing price. What about your house?

If your house hasn’t sold, it is probably the price.

If your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house. (See Chart)

Proper-Pricing-KCM

Bottom Line

The housing market is hot. If you are not seeing results you want, sit down with your agent and revisit the pricing conversation.

Sandy MuellerDon’t undersell or overprice your home.  

Choosing the right realtor makes all the difference. Price your home just right to sell fast for top dollar. Call me first!

Waiting until after the Holidays Isn’t a Smart Decision

Holidays-KCMEvery year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their home on the market for the first time. Others who already have their home on the market decide to take it off the market until after the holidays. Here are six great reasons not to wait:

1. Relocation buyers are out there. Companies are not concerned with holiday time and if the buyers have kids, they want them to get into school after the holidays.

2. Purchasers that are looking for a home during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy.

3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.

4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.

5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

Inventory-KCM

6. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will make a comeback in 2016. This will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.

Home Selling: Which Fixes Are Worth It to Lure Buyers?

Home Selling: Which Fixes Are Worth It to Lure Buyers?

(NewsUSA) – Okay, don’t panic.

If you’re one of those homeowners who’s been moaning about how hard it’s been trying to sell your house, your bargaining power — you remember that concept, right? — hasn’t been completely devastated just because a flood of new foreclosures is expected to hit the market as a result of the recent $25 billion “robo-signing” mortgage settlement.

In fact, while studies have shown your own property value could take up to another 4 percent hit if you’re within a quarter mile of a foreclosure ultimately snapped up at auction or taken back by the lender, the thing to remember is this: Most buyers today are only interested in homes that are “move-in-ready,” so if yours isn’t … well, there’s your problem.

“Buyers generally look at ‘as-is’ properties that need work, and say ‘I’ll pass,'” says Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, N.J. “That’s why I tell clients it’s worth making certain strategic fixes if they’re looking for quicker and more profitable sales.”

So, which “fixes” are worth it, and which aren’t? Read on:

Worth It: Addressing major maintenance and safety issues. Would you buy a house with faulty electrical wiring? Enough said.

Not Worth It: Major bath renovations. “Whatever you do might not suit the buyer,” says O’Neill, “and meanwhile, you’d have spent as much as tens of thousands of dollars.” Meaning, stick to things like repairing cracked shower doors, and save your visions of a modern-day spa for your own new abode.

Worth It: Ripping up old carpeting. Whether you replace it with new carpets or refinish the underlying wood floor is less important than getting rid of an eyesore.

Not Worth It: Major kitchen renovations. Same “taste” issue as above.

Worth It: Anything that enhances “curb appeal.” If the first thing prospective buyers notice even before exiting their cars is that your roof looks like it’s been whipped by a tornado, say, chances are you’ve already lost the sale. “It’s a huge turn-off,” says O’Neill, “and makes buyers predisposed to find even more things they don’t like.” So, if your roof needs replacing, check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (the largest roofing manufacturer in North America), which have the look of luxury shingles but at very affordable prices (www.gaf.com).

Not Worth It: Anything that screams clutter. The less of “you” there is, the more likely prospective buyers are to imagine themselves happily living there.

Sandy Mueller

Sandy Mueller

Thinking of Buying?

What are you waiting for? If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015 I can help!  Call me at 847-494-8868.

Getting the Best Price for Your House to Help Finance Your Retirement

(NewsUSA) – Have you forgotten something in figuring where you’re going to retire to?

Let’s see, you’ve researched which states tax Social Security income (only 14, including Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, North Dakota and Vermont).

And you’ve even consulted the numbers-crunchers at Bankrate.com to learn which states scored highest overall in everything from cost of living to access to health care (South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming).

But here’s a question for all you homeowners: Given the results of a new report from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate — 57 percent of boomers say they plan to move to a new home in retirement — what are you doing right now to make sure your current house fetches a good price to help finance your retirement dreams?

“As people grapple with whether to pull up stakes, there’s small margin for error,” the New York Times’ coverage of the report noted.

Here’s some tips for preparing what’s likely your biggest asset for prospective buyers:

* Get rid of the clutter. No doubt you have years worth of memories on display. But they’re your memories. And painful as it may be, it’s time to accept that not everyone appreciates having turned your den, for example, into a shrine to the ’69 Mets.

“Buyers shouldn’t be distracted from imagining themselves living in your space,” says Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey.

* Think twice before doing any trendy remodeling. Especially if your home is older, you may be tempted to go as far in trying to spruce things up as, say, tearing down a wall between the kitchen and an adjoining room just because Angie’s List says creating the feel of more space is “one of the hottest trends in home remodeling.”

Well who’s to say it’ll still be hot in six months or a year?

* Think “curb appeal.” There’s a reason roof replacement consistently makes Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, and is up 11.2 percent this year over even last year: A roof is the first thing potential buyers notice — even from down the street — and you’ve already lost the sale if yours looks like hell.

“It’s a huge turn-off,” says O’Neill, “and makes people predisposed to find even more things they don’t like.” For the look of luxury at very affordable prices, check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer.

* Fix major maintenance and safety issues. Would you buy a house with a sputtering boiler? Enough said.