Category Archives: In The News

Selling Your Home? Don’t Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else

If you’re a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you’ve put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you’re thinking: Not my problem anymore.

Sorry, folks, we’ve got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that’s especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.

Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail that sale.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you’re still living at the home or not, you’ll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.

If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so that grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance, suggests Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor® with Re/Max Reality Group in Rochester, NY.

“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull’s-eye for vandals to break into your property.”

Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don’t let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one’s easy to forget about, even when you don’t plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.

Just ask Alise Roberts, owner/broker at Alise Roberts & Company in Bellevue, WA. In the rainy Pacific Northwest climate, she frequently has to remind her clients to keep sidewalks clear of moss and clean gutters of pine needles and leaves.

“Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing,” she says. “That’s a terrible first impression.”

And then there’s the roof. Of course, it’ll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.

“If water starts to penetrate a property, it can be a very difficult sale,” Hiscock notes. “Water in basements or in homes is one of the top three things buyers are scared of.”

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.

First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won’t smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you’re at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.

(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)

Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.

“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add “family of raccoons included” to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.

“In a colder climate, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property,” Hiscock says.

Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, Roberts says. But if your house is on the market, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.

“If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that’ll really mar the showing process,” she says.

Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they’re especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, “We don’t live here or care anymore,” Roberts says.

That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.

“Too often, I see a seller’s patio furniture still outside during the winter time. To me, that’s not a good reflection on the property,” Hiscock says. “It shows deferred maintenance and lack of caring, and can really turn off a potential buyer.

“If a seller can’t put away their patio furniture and lawn mower, what makes you believe that they’ve actually maintained the property all the years they’ve been there?” he adds.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it’ll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

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Original Date: Feb 1, 2018

Which Generation Is Struggling the Most to Buy a Home? (It’s Not Millennials)

Scrimping and saving to come up with a down payment is no easy feat, especially when aspiring buyers have student loan debt, high rents, and soaring property prices to contend with. But millennials who are most likely to face those hurdles aren’t the generation having the hardest time saving up for a new home, a recent report finds. Instead, it’s Generation X.

The National Association of Realtors® report is based on about 4,000 responses received from non-homeowners in surveys performed each month in 2017.

Xers “are at an age where they may have children, car loans, credit card debt,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research. “They’re also less likely to be able to move back home [with their parents] to pay down debt.”


About 47% of Generation X respondents said they were having difficulty saving up for a down payment. That’s compared with 23% of millennials.

Although the lingering pain of the financial crisis cut across age groups, it hit Generation Xers particularly hard.

“They were very likely to have purchased a home in the housing boom and then be hit by the housing bust,” says Lautz. “Generation Xers were most likely to have a home that was underwater.”

Not having sufficient home equity makes it harder to trade up to larger abodes to accommodate growing families.

But it isn’t just members of Generation X struggling to become homeowners. Millennials, many of whom are just beginning their careers and starting their families, make up the largest overall share of non-owners. Those making $50,000 or less were also more likely not to own their own abodes.

And despite 82% of non-owners aspiring to own a home in the future, the main reason that many are unable to do so is because they can’t afford it. Nationally, annual home list prices were up a median 7.8% as of Jan. 1, according to® data.

“They believe that homeownership is part of their American dream,” says Lautz. But “[they’re] feeling priced out of the home-buying market.”

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Original Author: Clare Trapasso

Original Date: Feb 7 2018

6 Surprising Ways Home Staging Can Sabotage Your Sale

If there’s one thing that’s hammered home during the selling process, it’s that prospective buyers hate walking into an empty house. They need to imagine themselves in your space, and that means seeing furniture, accessories, and other decor trappings that make a house feel like a home—and wake prospective buyers to the potential of the place.

To the rescue: home staging. Consider it the professional makeover your home gets before the big dance. If done correctly, it can be a seller’s best friend, slashing the time your home sits on the market and boosting your profits.

But it’s also possible for home staging to go desperately wrong, even when you think you’re doing it right. Take heed of these oh-so-easy-to-make mistakes when staging your home.

1. Overdesigning your space

The goal of home staging is to help buyers visualize what the house could look like once they move in. The trick is to give off that feeling subtly, not smacking buyers in the face with design, design, design right when they walk in the door.

“Home staging is like being a backup singer to the house, which is the star,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. “As a backup singer, you have to be good, but, girl—do not overshadow Miss Tina Turner.”

Staging should boost your home, not the other way around. Keep it simple with furnishings, some decor, and textiles to add softness. Don’t cover every nook and cranny, even if you think it’ll look amazing.

2. Displaying fake everything

Making a home feel lived in without actually being lived in is tricky. But if your home stager suggests a nice bowl of fake fruit or anything inflatable, run quickly in the other direction.

“Fake plants, fake flowers, fake food, fake TV screens and computers, and, most of all, blow-up mattresses,” Riordan says. “Every time [buyers] see a fake item they are reminded that this is not real, this is not achievable, and this is not their new home.”

Keep it real, and forget the artificial bananas and silk leaf palm trees.

3. Not staging to scale

What home seller doesn’t want to create the illusion of more space? And to do that, you might assume you should use smaller, lightweight items.

Au contraire! That tactic can actually dwarf a home, experts say. Instead, make sure your furniture and accessories match the room in scale and proportion. In other words: If you have a huge family room with a vaulted ceiling, don’t opt for a small, low-backed sofa and tiny ottoman coffee table.

Plus, buyers should walk in and feel like there’s room for the family to grow and for entertaining. If the furniture used for staging is too small, the whole space will scream, “not enough room for life in this house.”

“Putting a small four-top table in a giant dining room does not show good use of the room,” Riordan says. “It shows poor use of scale.”

The same goes for decor accessories—your Italian ceramics, votive candles, artwork, and other odds and ends. If they’re disproportional to the space, the whole room can feel visually cluttered—even if you’re not displaying many items.

“No piece should be smaller than a softball,” says Tori Toth, home stager, founder of Stylish Stagers, and author of “Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell.”

4. Staging your entire home in one aesthetic

Even if you’re selling a restored Victorian, buyers might not want to see oil lamps and fainting couches in every room. Buyers are trying to envision themselves—and everything they already own—in the space.

To help them get there, feel free to showcase eclectic furniture that proves to buyers their mismatched furniture will also go great in the house, Riordan says.

When in doubt, however, opt for traditional pieces: light-colored sofas, tables with clean lines, and timeless decor pieces. Your goal is to create the feeling of home for the buyer, not a museum.

5. Keeping doors closed

This one seems like an obvious no-no, but sometimes we’re all guilty of habitually closing doors.

“Having a person be able to move through the house without thinking is hugely important,” Riordan says. “We have seen entire floors missed by potential buyers because a door was closed and the buyer had assumed that the door was a closet rather than a staircase to the basement or upper floor.”

Before your real estate agent shows your house, do a final walk-through and make sure everything is open and ready to go.

6. Going too neutral

There’s nothing wrong with a classic color scheme, but if you keep everything ivory and beige, it won’t make your house stand out from the pack.

We’re not saying you should go crazy with the color. But your home should have a bit of unique appeal—some pops of color here and there, and one or two rooms that don’t look like every other room in the house (and on the planet).

“We create one color story for each room,” Riordan says of his design firm. “There might be a red office, a green living room, and an orange bedroom in a single house.”

The end result? After a potential buyer has seen 10 houses—each with eight rooms—in one day, she’ll have an easier time calling yours to mind.

“The red office is much easier to recall hours later than the office that had a desk in it,” Riordan explains.

And, after all, your goal here is to have the house that buyers remember.

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Original Date: Jan 24 2018

The 3 Best Reasons to Buy a Home in 2018 (but You’d Better Hurry)

Figuring out when to plunge into the real estate market can be quite intimidating—especially when prices are high, choices are limited, and history urges restraint.

“We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation, as well as an inventory shortage that resulted in a record-low number of homes for sale across the country,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for®. “When you factor those together, you have a market that has to either explode or see some relief.”

Comforting, right? Well, take heart: Experts agree that relief is indeed on the horizon.

New predictions for 2018 forecast more moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances.

A lot depends on where you live (and how much you plan to finance), but these factors combined could mean 2018 will be your year to take the buying plunge.

1. Rates are going up

After years of record-low interest rates (hello, 3%!), the Fed is finally making some noticeable increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4% mark last year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, Vivas predicts we’ll see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are anticipated to hit 5% by the end of the year.

“The big story there is that those increases will further constrict affordability,” Vivas says. “The more buyers wait, the more expensive it will get to buy—not just because of home prices, but because of inflationary pressure.”

In other words, if you want in on the American dream, now might be the time.

2. Prices are climbing, but not crazily fast

Home prices have soared over the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas and leading some experts to cry “bubble”. But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate.

Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2% year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5% year over year.

Of course, it all depends on where you live. While red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues chugging along and new construction is happening in the right price points.

So what does that mean? Basically, home prices will still increase, but not at the same pace as they have over the past few years.

3. Inventory levels will begin to increase

An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle (a tiny house with linoleum floors for $1 million, anyone?) and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn, with markets such as Boston; Detroit; and Nashville, TN, recovering first.

The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle- to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000, Vivas predicts.

New home construction is also expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and land that’s available, tight bank financing for building loans, and a run-up in building material prices, says National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz.

“It’s been a slow climb back from the recession, and now we’re confronting all of these limiting factors and supply-side constraints,” Dietz says.

It’s particularly tough, he says, for builders to break ground at the entry level for first-time buyers, particularity in high-cost coastal markets such as California. That means it will take longer for those inventory levels to recover.

But there’s a bright spot: Builder confidence is at its highest level since 1999, according to the NAHB. And that means hope is on the horizon.

“As we head into 2019 and beyond, we expect to see the inventory increases take hold and provide relief for first-timers and drive sales growth,” Vivas says.

The wildcard: Taxes and politics

When the Republican tax plan was introduced, the proposed elimination of the mortgage interest deduction was all anyone could talk about: While the new limitations on the deduction will affect only 2.5% of all existing mortgages in the U.S., it will have a disproportionate effect on Western markets, where 20% to 30% of mortgages are above the new threshold, according to Vivas.

Across the board, experts agree that the new tax plan decreases incentives for homeownership and reduces the tax benefits of owning a home—particularly in highly taxed, expensive markets such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. But on the flip side, that means that if fewer folks are motivated to buy, then there’s less competition for those who want in the game. Plus, some taxpayers—including renters—will see a tax cut. That increase in buyers’ disposable income could spur demand from folks who are looking to build equity as a homeowner, rather than flushing away their savings in rent.

“Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term—that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option,” Vivas says. “As people get more savings in their pocket, buying becomes the better option.”

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The 10 Biggest Real Estate Stories of 2017

Courtesy of Legacy West


As we enter the eighth year of an up-cycle, Dallas-Fort Worth looks a lot different than it did during the Great Recession.

The commercial real estate industry in North Texas is not without its challenges: construction costs, labor shortages, lending hurdles, increasingly scarce land, and stiff competition. But forward-thinking pros spanning every asset class and industry continue to push the sector forward. To determine the top real estate stories of 2017, we analyzed traffic from our D CEO Real Estate website and asked industry professionals, including D CEO Power Brokers and contributing editors, to share their insights. We went beyond specific deals to analyze market hardships, impactful projects, and game-changing trends. As we’ve heard dozens of real estate insiders remark in one form or another: “Come what may nationally and globally, we’re lucky to be in North Texas.”

A Lasting Legacy

The Karahan Cos. opened Legacy West’s 38-acre urban village in June. (Courtesy of Legacy West)

When Fehmi Karahan and his so-called Team Legacy, consisting of KDC and Columbus Realty, competed to develop some land near the J.C. Penney campus in 2014, much of Plano was still farm land and greenfield sites. Today, Karahan Cos.’ master plan for Legacy West has been realized with the opening of Toyota, Liberty Mutual, and JPMorgan Chase’s offices, the 38-acre urban village-style retail center (which was fully leased by October), a 304-key Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West hotel, the 55,000-square-foot Legacy Food Hall, and 800 apartment units. Additional developments—namely, a 29-story apartment tower called LVL 29—are still in the works. Gaedeke Group also opened its 308,000-square-foot One Legacy West. Shortly after, Gaedeke’s anchor tenant NTT Data made another big statement by leasing an additional 233,000 square feet at neighboring project, the Campus at Legacy West. Legacy has come a long way since the days of Electronic Data Systems.

Boeing Finally Lands

(Courtesy of Legacy West)

Adding to the lineup at Legacy West, Karahan Cos. scored Boeing’s new Global Services business unit. Though the aerospace giant’s lease is 18,000 square feet—a drop in the bucket compared to Toyota’s 2 million square feet—on the third floor at the 5905 Legacy Drive building, the significance of the deal requires a long memory. Back in 2001, the Dallas-Fort Worth real estate world was on edge, waiting to see where Boeing would locate its new headquarters. When Dallas and Denver ultimately lost out to Chicago, Big D took the loss hard. Though the Global Services division landed in Plano, not downtown Dallas, a collective feeling of vindication swept through North Texas when this news broke earlier this year.

Stroke of Co-Work

North Texas has more than 60 co-working concepts, including WeWork and Common Desk. (WeWork: Zach McNair; Common Desk: Brent Baxter)Thanks to local pioneers such as Fort Work and The Dallas Entrepreneur Center, big co-working names like WeWork and Spaces scouted locations in North Texas. New York-based Serendipity Labs Coworking excited Craig Hall so much that he not only leased it 29,000 square feet in KPMG Plaza, but also invested in the concept. Neighboring Arts District office Billingsley’s One Arts Plaza, welcomed Industrious. Chicago-based Level Office joined local concepts in the West End. And it’s not just the urban core that has seen co-working growth. Shortly after WeWork opened its southern headquarters in Thanksgiving Tower, it made plans to expand to Legacy West and Fort Worth’s Clearfork. After opening a McKinney Avenue location in late 2016, Regus’ Spaces leased more than 20,000 square feet at Granite Place in Southlake. Illinois-based 25N Co-Working opted to open its first location outside its home market at Stoneleigh Cos.’s Waterford Market in Frisco. Hometown concept Common Desk has expanded aggressively, opening Fort Worth and Plano locations to join its Oak Cliff office and its Deep Ellum flagship. At press time, 61 co-working spaces were calling DFW home.

Gateway Status

Foreign investors have been flocking to gateway cities such as New York and Los Angeles for decades. But over the last couple of years, Texas—and Dallas, in particular—has become a safe haven for foreign money. Texas now outshines California and the national average for foreign investment as a percentage of total sales, according to CoStar. In 2016, foreign buyer sales in Texas topped $5 billion, and at press time 2017 looked to be similar. Though DFW fell slightly from past years in PwC and ULI’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, the region still ranks as the sixth-best U.S. market for overall investment (foreign as well as domestic), and the fifth-best market overall. Push factors and pull factors play a role in large amounts of capital crossing the Texas border. But as long as DFW retains its low-risk profile, we’ll be sitting pretty for all that overseas money.

Out of House and Home

Though recent reports show single-family home gains are cooling slightly from this time last year, home-buying Dallasites probably still feel the burn. North Texas home costs are up more than 50 percent since 2012. In 2017, the median home price in Dallas surpassed $236,000, topping the national average for the first time.

1980’s Update

Trammell Crow Center will get a new front entrance as part of its update. (Courtesy of Neoscape Inc. 2016)
Fountain Place owners are spending $70 million for upgrades. (Courtesy of Goddard Investments)

The ’80s real estate cycle brought some of the most iconic structures to the downtown Dallas skyline. And this decade’s real estate cycle will update many of those same skyscrapers. Fountain Place owners Goddard Investment Group pledged $70 million to update much of the interior, to construct a 10-story garage anchored by restaurants, and to renovate the building’s namesake fountains. A few blocks away, Trammell Crow Center is getting an upgrade to its existing 1985-era tower, plus a second phase on the full city block across from the skyscraper on Ross Avenue. Owner JP Morgan Asset Management will spend $135 million adding amenities to the existing tower and bringing in retail space, a 200-room hotel, multifamily units, and a parking garage to the new development. Fortis Property Group, the new owners of the 55-story Chase Tower, will make the skyscraper interact better with the surrounding street with an updated plaza and entry, reminiscent of Thanksgiving Tower’s $40 million renovation from owner Woods Capital. Neighboring buildings Ross Tower and Saint Paul Place both completed renovations in 2017.

Remaking History

The Statler reopened in October. (Allison Page Photography)
The former Dallas High School has become a mixed-use office project. (Courtesy of Merriman Anderson/Architects Inc.)

Downtown Dallas has several planned or proposed developments on the horizon, but 2017 solidified footing for a different type of project: historic redevelopments. Between major renovations at Dallas High School, Factory Six03, Butler Bros. Building, Tower Petroleum Building and Corrigan Tower, The Statler, and others, Dallas developers have clearly realized the value of good bones and a prime location. “When people wander around downtown and see dead buildings—which is what you used to see—they don’t want to be there. It repels investment,” Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston said at The Statler’s grand opening in October.

Multifamily Mania

(The Epic: courtesy of Perkins + Will)More than 50,000 apartment units sit in the DFW pipeline. Many jaws dropped after 2016 brought 17,000 new units online, but 2017 was slated to exceed that by 10,000 units. “More apartments are coming online here in DFW than anywhere else in country,” Jay Denton, Axiometrics vice president of analytics, says. And 2018 will be much the same, with around 25,000 units scheduled to come online. North Dallas suburbs account for the largest chunk of new apartments, with more than 9,000 units planned by the end of 2018. Other hot submarkets include downtown, Uptown, Richardson, East Dallas, and downtown Fort Worth.

Labor Shortage

In an issue that touches every asset class in the business, finding—and keeping—skilled laborers continues to pose problems for developers. Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor increased their H-2B visa capacity in 2017, allowing an additional 15,000 temporary workers into the U.S., but many construction laborers consider DFW a less-than-ideal market in which to work. There are approximately 245,000 construction workers in Dallas and, according to Abodo, many of them become transient, chasing higher wages or safer working conditions elsewhere. Meantime, construction costs jumped 12 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to CBRE.

AT&T Renews

After kicking the tires of several alternative office headquarters in late 2016, AT&T decided to renew its commitment to downtown Dallas—and then some. The telecom giant is in the midst of a $100 million revamp that will turn its more than 2-million-square-foot headquarters on Akard and Commerce streets into a so-called Discovery District with street-level retail and restaurants. AT&T, which has six buildings for its headquarters, aims to appeal to its employees, tourists, and downtown citizens alike with its retail-lined plaza. True to its promise to pull out all the stops, the Dallas City Council agreed to finagle the surrounding streets to make the district more pedestrian-friendly, including closing and narrowing some streets while making other one-way streets two-way. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.

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No Second Chances: Our 7-Step Plan to Making a Dazzling First Impression on Buyers

Studies show that we make up our minds about people within seconds of meeting them. So it stands to reason that prospective buyers are doing the very same thing with your house, especially in a red-hot real estate market. More buyers these days are sizing up your space and making lightning-quick decisions about whether it’s worth investigating further—or whether they should hop back in the car and move on to the next house.

So if you want to be sure buyers don’t scurry out the door moments after they arrive, you have to create a fantastic first impression.

Not sure where to begin? It all starts with looking at your home with fresh eyes. Luckily, we’ve broken down seven simple steps you can follow to put your home’s best face forward.

1. ‘Break up’ with your house

If you want to sell your property, you’ll need to distance yourself from it first, says Ronique Gibson, an associate architect and lifestyle expert at in Jacksonville, FL. Cut the cord!

“Once you put your home on the market, it’s time to let a professional come in and market it,” Gibson says. “If you stay emotionally attached, the process will be harder and longer.”

2. Focus on curb appeal

You wouldn’t wear soiled sweatpants on a first date—you’d go out of your way to look presentable. So why would you approach the process of selling your home any differently?

Your home’s first impression starts with the exterior, so take a good look at what you’re presenting to the world: What’s the first thing you notice? If it’s peeling paint, dirty windows, and dead plants, you have work to do, says Michael Rosenblum, a broker with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago.

“Ask yourself: ‘If I was buying this home now, what would my expectations be?'” he says.

Remove debris such as fallen tree limbs and leaves. Keep grass and shrubs trimmed, freshen up the mulch in your flowerbeds, and clear away lawn clutter such as yard ornaments, garden tools, and that circa 2007 Big Wheel.

“Putting out some flowers in front of the house or by the front door always makes people smile; it creates the warmth before they even get inside,” says Rosenblum.

Invest in a new doormat, and consider replacing old address numbers and your mailbox if it’s worn or rusty. Patch cracks in the driveway and, while you’re at, give the front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Ditch as much of your stuff as possible

So now that you’ve addressed the outside, you have to work on your home’s inner beauty. Decluttering is your first priority. So start clearing out the junk and depersonalizing the space—toss or hide mementos, kids’ drawings, and most knickknacks.

“If the seller has all their personal photos out, then the buyer usually gets distracted,” Rosenblum says.

The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your crap is everywhere they look. “All signs of you should be gone,” Gibson says.

That said, take care to find a balance; you don’t want the home to feel sterile—and you’ll want to make sure that none of your rooms are completely empty, a tactic that tends to make a space actually look smaller.

4. Fix the broken stuff—all of it

This should be obvious, but perhaps even you’ve forgotten about that faulty light switch in the upstairs hallway. The thing is, buyers will notice it almost immediately.

So here’s a mini to-do list to tackle those minor issues fast:

  • Check for leaks throughout the house. A drip may not seem important, but it suggests lousy maintenance elsewhere.
  • Check and repair loose door handles and cabinet hinges.
  • Caulk around tubs and sinks.
  • Replace lightbulbs that don’t work. Yes, every single one.

Bottom line: Meet and exceed a buyer’s expectations by paying extra attention to the fine details.

5. Plan a small makeover that packs a punch

You might not want (or be able) to do major renovations before putting your property on the market. But if you focus your attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, you can boost a tired home’s overall appearance without completely busting your budget.

“Homeowners can easily change out countertops and appliances, or paint cabinetry,” Rosenblum says. You may want to restain the floors or repaint the walls.

Keeping your carpets? Make sure to splurge on getting them professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas—it’ll immediately brighten a room.

6. Appeal to all the senses

Once your home is clean and decluttered, think about how you can engage potential buyers through other senses, Gibson suggests.

“Play soft music during showings, or have a nice water feature outside if you live in a noisy neighborhood,” she says. “Soft throws and textured fabrics will warm up a space. Brewing fresh coffee and baking cookies makes your house smell great.”

Remember not to clean your house the day of a showing; harsh chemicals can be overpowering, and may turn off potential buyers.

7. Keep up appearances—indefinitely

Unless you’re in a red-hot market, your home might not sell immediately after it’s listed. Remember that every week, you might have potential buyers traipsing through—sometimes without much notice from your agent.

That means keeping up all these changes you’ve implemented—and not dragging out the massive toy bins, dog beds, and other daily life items you actually use.

While it might not be easy keeping your house in tiptop shape for days on end, try to remember that the effort you put in now will pay off later—when that one buyer is so wowed by her first impression that she makes an offer you won’t want to refuse.

Original Author: Wendy Helfenbaum
Original Date: Dec 6 2017

Hardball Fouls: 6 Home-Selling Negotiation Strategies That Can Backfire

When you’re selling your home, you might imagine you hold all the cards. And you do—sort of. But it’s easy to become overconfident in a seller’s market. If  you don’t do a reality check, pronto, you could end up sabotaging your sale. So much for that straight flush!

Here are six common home seller negotiation tactics that can totally backfire if you don’t approach them carefully.

1. Starting a bidding war

Bidding wars are the stuff of home sellers’ dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with fueling a little competition among buyers in order to get the best deal for you. But this tactic can easily backfire if you bungle it.

“If mishandled, people may assume the worst, and the best offer may walk away,” says Sep Niakan, owner/broker at Miami-based HB Roswell Realty.

Common bidding war bungles include the following:

  • Not clearly explaining upfront how you intend to handle multiple offers.
  • Giving an offer deadline that is too many days away. Some buyers might not want to wait for you to make a decision, especially if other homes are in contention.
  • Already having a strong offer on the table, but then insisting that all potential buyers come back with their highest and best bid. There’s no guarantee buyers will play ball and, if that strong offer walks, you’re stuck with lower offers to choose from.

Bottom line: Proceed with caution before turning up the heat on the competition, lest you risk losing out on a dream deal.

2. Haggling over repairs

What if the buyer completes an inspection and comes back with a long list of requested repairs? If sellers get too tough here, they might send a buyer walking.

The sellers should consider how good the overall package is for them before refusing to do repairs, says Lucas Machado, president of House Heroes in Miami. “When the buyer’s offer is high, and the seller tries to negotiate away from legitimate repairs, the buyer may feel the seller is taking advantage of them.”

3. Threatening to put your home back on the market

If negotiations aren’t quite going your way, you might be tempted to call the buyer’s bluff. Hey, if they don’t want to ante up, you can always put your home back on the market and find another eager buyer to squeeze. Right?

Yes, you might find another taker quickly. But beware of this move—it might not go according to plan.

That’s because there’s often a stigma associated with putting a home back on the market, and it might be harder to get buyers to take a second look, says Realtor® Michael Hottman, associate broker at Keller Williams Richmond West in Richmond, VA.

“Exercise caution with this tactic, because real estate markets can change quickly from hot to cold, leaving you without all those buyers you were expecting,” Hottman says. “And the ones who you had initially thought were legitimate prospects may have moved on to other homes in the time between your property originally going under contract and now coming back on the market.”

4. Being stubborn on the closing date

You’ve decided you’re not going to allow the new people to move in until (insert future date) because that’s when the closing date is on your new home. Or, they can’t possibly take possession this spring because your kids are still finishing school.

Guess what? Your buyers have scheduling issues of their own, says John Powell, chief development officer at Help-U-Sell Real Estate in Tucson, AZ.

“Sellers need to understand that they may have to move twice, since buyer and seller schedules seldom work out perfectly.”

5. Getting greedy over what comes with the house

Planning to take your beautiful custom light fixtures with you? Not so fast, Hottman warns. Often, he finds that sellers have expensive fixtures in place to show the home, but plan on taking them when they move. And that can cause trouble at the negotiating table.

The buyer “might have decided to buy the ceiling fan, and the house happens to come with it, or they get so upset that a fixture they fell in love with is now missing that they won’t buy the home,” Hottman says.

Avoid this confusion by replacing anything that won’t be staying with the house before you show it. If that’s not possible, be prepared to leave the prized fixture behind, or negotiate a comparable replacement.

6. Refusing to pay closing costs

So, you’re coming down the home stretch and this deal is almost done. Congratulations! But the buyer asked you to cover their closing costs.

Before you say “no way,” consider it this way: Buyers sometimes roll the amount of those closing costs into their offer. For instance, let’s say your home is listed for $200,000. A buyer might then submit an offer for $204,000, but ask you to cover the $4,000 in closing costs.

“Some sellers will hold firm at the $204,000 offer and refuse to pay the closing costs because they want this higher price the buyer offered,” Hottman says. “Some sellers can’t see the net is nearly identical between a $200,000 offer with no closing costs and $204,000 with $4,000 in seller-paid closing costs, and they miss out.”

A good deal comes down to doing the math, keeping your ego in check, and putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes. After all, when you sell your house, you’ll probably be buying one, too.

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Original Date: Nov 1 2017

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7 Tips on How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, understanding how to find a good real estate agent is essential. Your agent will help you through all steps of the process and answer the myriad technical, tactical, and financial questions that arise, so you don’t have to waste hours Googling into the abyss. A good real estate agent will also have a clear handle on the ins and outs of the housing market in your area. Below are some of the best places to turn to find someone you know you can trust.

1. Find the agent with the most listings

One simple, somewhat passive way to find the best real estate agent is to identify which agents have the most listings in your area. Experience with many clients indicates a certain amount of ambition and hustle. Be warned, however.

“If they have the bulk of the listing in your community, what priority do you think they will assign your home and yet another listing?” asks Jason Opland, a Realtor® with Better Homes and Gardens Realty in Columbus, OH.

2. Get referrals from family and friends

Another common strategy for finding an agent is through word of mouth. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors whom they recommend.

“If people close to you have used an agent they liked, then you’ll probably like them as well,” says agent Amy McDonald of Triplemint in New York City.

Be sure to explicitly ask “Would you use the person again?” says Denise Shur, a Realtor with 1:1 Realty in San Jose, CA. Shur also thinks hiring a friend or family member as an agent could work “if you reasonably believe they will look out for your interest like nobody else will.”

3. Get a referral from your previous agent

If you’re moving to a new area, you could reach out to your previous agent for a referral.

My brokerage “has a network of agents we use across the country, and we can refer you to someone who would likely be a good fit,” says McDonald.

4. Ask a relocation specialist

A cross-state or cross-country move can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with any real estate agents in the area.

“Your best option is to contact an agent who specializes in relocation and works with agents from across the country and has access to agent performance and production reports,” says Opland. He says a relocation specialist can collect information on the type of property you’re looking for and use that to match you with a top professional in your area.

5. Look for community leadership

Here’s an outside-the-box approach: Look beyond the performance numbers and find agents who have actually invested in the area.

“Work with someone who believes in your community and does more than sell homes—someone who participates in local schools, developing businesses, or charities,” says Realtor Rodney Camren of Keller Williams Realty Intown in Atlanta. “Someone who is really invested will sell more than your home—they’ll sell your entire community when the potential buyer presents themselves.”

6. Evaluate what ‘good’ means to you

Your idea of a good real estate agent is probably different from someone else’s, so it’s important to make a list of qualities you most desire in the person you hire to sell or find you a home.

“’Best’ is a very subjective term,” says Alex Cortez, a Realtor with Island Sotheby’s International Realty, in Makawao, HI.

Does “good” mean they’re the most ethical, have the highest sale volume, or have the greatest experience? Do you want an agent who takes charge, or one who focuses more on making you feel heard? Is customer service the highest priority?

“Keep in mind, you will be communicating with your agent for (potentially) several months as you search for a home, submit an offer, and go through the escrow process,” says Cortez. “It would be in your best interest to find an agent with whom you have a natural rapport.”

7. Make sure the agent’s license is up to date

Before you sign with an agent, there’s one more thing you should check: the agent’s license. To check that the license is current, go to your state’s real estate department website and look up the agent’s name. You will also be able to see if the agent has faced any disciplinary action.

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What to Expect From a Listing Agent

Before you start making lofty demands of your listing agent, it’s important to understand what the agent is actually responsible for. We’re not saying you’re high-maintenance; you just need to know what you can and can’t ask the agent to do.

By setting realistic expectations, you’re likely to leave the home-selling process feeling like your agent really did all she could to get you the best deal—even if you didn’t see or hear about every little thing she did to market your home. In the interest of transparency, let’s dive into the things a listing agent is responsible for once you sign a contract.

What role does a listing agent play?

A listing agent’s job is “to help direct the seller in preparing the house for sale, market the property to buyer’s agents, and handle the offer and transaction process to get the sale to completion,” says Teri Andrews Murch, a Realtor® with Lyon Real Estate in Auburn, CA.

So when you think about your expectations for your agent, make sure they fit within that scope.

However, the specific responsibilities can vary from agent to agent. A good listing agent will help you price your home, attend pitch sessions, recommend a photographer and stager to make your home look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.

Some agents might be unwilling to fulfill every one of your requests if they don’t think they will help your home sell. For example, you might want to advertise your house in the local paper, but “depending on the area you are in, print advertising may not be used much at all,” says Murch.

Set expectations from the start

To make sure you’re both on the same page, you should discuss your expectations from the get-go with any real estate agent you plan on hiring. Find out how often you’ll communicate, and by what means.

“Usually I try to touch base with my sellers when I have feedback from showings or agent tours, and at least once every seven to 10 days by phone,” Murch says.

“Don’t be afraid to be upfront and to the point with your real estate agent,” she adds. “We want to know when our clients aren’t happy.”

Once you’re in agreement, put it in writing in the form of a listing agreement.

“A listing agreement should be a partnership,” says real estate consultant Cathy Baumbusch of Alexandria, VA. “Both parties should outline their expectations in the beginning, in detail, and in writing. That is the only way you can do business.”

You won’t see all the agent’s work

Just because things seem quiet doesn’t mean the agent isn’t working on your behalf.

“A lot of the work we do—such as networking with other agents, maintaining the listing, answering calls or inquiries, and sending out information—tends to be invisible to the sellers unless we communicate that,” says Murch.

However, if more regular updates will make you happy, speak up.

When things go wrong

Sometimes, even after you’ve agreed on everything with your agent in writing, your expectations aren’t met. What then?

Before you send that angry email, be honest with yourself and see if you’re holding anything up.

“I would look at the home’s condition—how does it show?” says Murch. “Are there too many restrictions on how or when the property can be shown?”

If you truly believe that your home looks show-ready and that you’ve made it available, Murch says you might need to revisit the pricing. That could be why you haven’t attracted interest yet.

Other ways to troubleshoot your stalled sale?

“Ask your agent to provide you with the list of all marketing avenues, and then see how it looks in comparison with other properties that are active or sold in your area,” says Janice Caputo, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Pittsburgh.

Definitely have a conversation with your agent if you’re unsatisfied, and try to be receptive to the agent’s feedback. If you believe that your agent isn’t taking your concerns seriously, your next course of action is speaking with the agent’s agency.

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Original Date: Oct 4 2017

‘It’s Been Months and My Home Won’t Sell’—How to Revive a Stale Listing

A house that’s seen minimal movement on the market for months is frustrating. In fact, frustrating might be an understatement. For some, a home that won’t sell can be a desperate situation—especially if selling it was a last-ditch effort to avoid foreclosure. That’s why, if you have yet to find a buyer, it’s important to take a step back and assess exactly why your house isn’t selling. So let’s dive in and discuss some of the main factors that hinder house sales and how you can maneuver your way around them so you can offload your home—hopefully sooner than later.

Ask your real estate agent these questions

If your house has been on the market for months with no offers, the first factor you want to consider is the market. Does the current market favor buyers or sellers? Talk to your real estate agent about the median days on the market in your area for comparable homes. Perhaps things just aren’t moving quickly in the current market. Sometimes, real estate is hot, and other times it’s not.

You can also discuss any showings by your agent or other agents and the feedback given by other agents and potential buyers. Their feedback could help you rethink how you and your agent are marketing the house.

Some other questions to ask your agent include:

  • Is your home listed on your local multiple listing service?
  • Has every inquiry turned into a showing appointment? If not, why?
  • How does your listing look compared with the homes priced similarly?
  • Since the day you listed, what properties have accepted offers, how many days did it take, and what price were they asking?

Reassess your expectations

While you might think your house is a steal of a deal, make sure you’re able to objectively look at the situation, says Beverley Hourlier, a Realtor® with Hilltop Chateau in San Diego.

“The buyer has to perceive the value to be there. If not, no offers. How do you stand up to the comparables in the neighborhood? Be honest in your assessment, because vanity or pride could be costing you money,” she says

Is the price right?

Beyond the temperature of the market and your marketing efforts, the most likely factor when it comes to a lack of offers on a home is price.

“Properties sell when they are priced correctly,” says Tracey Martin, a Realtor with Realty World Premier Associates in Salinas, CA. “The value of your home is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for it. If it is too high, you won’t get any offers.”

Marketing makes a big difference, too, says Robin Lemmons, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker King in Gahanna, OH.

“If you have had a lot of showings with no offers, it is a pricing issue. If you are having very little activity, it can be a pricing or marketing issue. Is your house being marketed on all the major websites? How is the quality and quantity of the photos?” she says.

How low can you go?

If you determine your home was overpriced out of the gate, then lowering it might help. However, you need to be strategic in terms of just how much you drop the price. You can slash your price by $50,000, but if it’s still above your competition or there are major repairs or updates that need to be done, your chances of selling remain low.

Of course, you never want to lower the price below the amount owed on your loan. Instead of doing that, you should either stay in the property until the value goes up, consider a short sale, or pay the difference between what you owe and what you can get for your home.

Consider new representation

If your agent isn’t responsive or doesn’t have a good explanation for why your property isn’t selling, then you might want to consider a new agent, says Teresa Stephenson, vice president of residential brokerage for Platinum Properties in New York. Just don’t expect a new agent to have the magic solution.

“If you speak with another agent, keep in mind that they are motivated to tell you what you want to hear,” Stephenson says. “If they are telling you that they can get you the price you want, ask them for data to justify their claims. With the transparency and accessibility provided by the internet today, it is a rare circumstance when a real estate agent has exclusive access to any buyers. Buyers know what is out there,” she says.

While it might not always happen as quickly as you like, your home will eventually sell. You just need a strong strategy, a healthy dose of patience, and, let’s face it, a bit of good luck.

Original Source:

Original Date: Sept 14 2017

Original Author: Julie Ryan Evans