Friday, November 26, 2010

Selling An Older House - Part One

Many buyers prefer the charm and character of older houses, but they have understandable concerns about the condition of the property. These include the possibility of large, unexpected expenses if a major component or system should fail, or the need to invest a significant amount of money to bring the house up to date. Fortunately, there are many steps sellers can take when preparing an older house for sale, to create buyer confidence and make the house more appealing.
Creating Confidence
Sellers must prove that the house is in good condition, so the first step is to have a home inspection. If the inspector finds any problems, have the repairs made before the house is listed. Never plan to sell “as is”. Include the inspection report and repair receipts in your marketing materials. Provide a one year home warranty to reduce concerns about unexpected expenses. Other issues that can affect buyer confidence include the presence of radon, lead-based paint, or materials that contain asbestos. If you’re aware of these hazards, you must disclose them, but remember that these hazards can be mitigated.
It’s essential to have no signs of deferred maintenance, inside or outside. Landscaping and hardscaping should be well-designed and in good condition. Trees and shrubs should not be so overgrown they’re no longer in scale with the house, or block light from entering the interior. If you don’t know how to create better curb appeal, have a consultation with a landscape professional. If you have a septic system or a well, you need to prove that they’ve been maintained and are in good condition.
Creating Appeal
Even when your budget doesn’t allow major updates, there are many things you can do to make your house more appealing and photogenic. A good first step is to edit your belongings down to the essentials so that you can see if the paint looks tired, or if cosmetic repairs are needed. With fewer belongings, buyers can see the features that make older houses so appealing. If you don’t know where to begin, consulting a professional stager is inexpensive and will generate creative ideas to set priorities and make the best use of your budget.
Smart Selling Tip:
Prepare an older home for sale by taking steps to create buyer confidence that the house is in sound condition. Consult with a professional stager for guidance on creating cosmetic appeal within your budget.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Price Ranges Affect Potential Buyers

Setting the listing price for your house is a strategic decision with many nuances. One of them is positioning the house in the correct price range. The price range for each house is based on factors such as size, age and location, condition and cosmetic appeal, recent sales of comparable properties, and the competition. Price ranges move with the market. Sellers should monitor activity in their chosen price range to remain positioned correctly to compete. Today, this realistic approach is vital, especially for motivated sellers, and includes being willing to make price adjustments, as needed.
Although some sellers hope to test the market and begin with a listing price outside the REALTOR®’s recommended range, this could be counter-productive for several reasons, including:
  • Sellers could unknowingly force the house into competition with superior properties.
  • Buyers who shop on line, and today that’s over 90%, quickly learn how to determine if a house is priced correctly. They won’t consider those that don’t measure up.
  • REALTOR®s are reluctant to show an improperly priced house.
  • Sellers lose the benefit of prime selling time in the first thirty to forty-five days when interest is greatest.
  • The number of buyers who can qualify for a loan decreases as the price increases, so the pool of buyers is smaller.
  • Even if an offer is received, the house might not appraise at or near the purchase price, and the deal will collapse.
Buyers use price ranges when they look for a house, whether they shop on line, or ask a REALTOR® to select properties to visit. They usually test ranges in increments of $25,000 because, until they look at properties, buyers don’t know what their money will buy. Their preferred price point usually falls near the middle of their range, but since buyers want the largest possible pool of houses from which to choose, they view houses priced a bit lower or higher. If a listing is priced above the high end of their range, it falls into another “search category”. Those buyers won’t see it unless they change their range of acceptable prices, and in most cases they won’t because of the large inventory of properties in their range.

Smart Selling Tip:
When setting your initial listing price, consider the effect that price ranges have on buyers. Be certain the price reflects its current value so it can compete with other properties in that range.

©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Monday, November 15, 2010

Move Management

Most of us dread the prospect of moving. There’s a lot of work to do, and you need to make hundreds of decisions, some more difficult than others. You also must begin dealing with your belongings while the house is being prepared for sale, making that project even more complex. Imagine that you’re a busy executive with a family and a demanding job, or you’re an older couple making a move with no family nearby to help. Daily life is already challenging and now you’re faced with selling your house and moving. Where can you get the help you need? The answer for many families is to rely on the services of a move manager.

What is Move Management?
Move managers are specialists who assist with the practical and emotional aspects of relocation. Generally move managers work on an hourly rate and offer an array of services designed to reduce the stress of moving, produce quality results and ensure a smooth transition to your new home. Move managers will offer the following services – and more:

* Develop an overall strategy, based on your goals and timetable.
* Help you determine what things will go with you.
* Arrange to dispose of the rest, according to your wishes, by donation, consignment, gift, estate sale, on-line sale, etc.
* Have your house prepared for sale using the services of a home inspector, professional stager and tradespeople, as needed.
* Assist in hiring a REALTOR®.
* Hire and supervise packers, cleaners and movers.
* Customize the furniture plan for your new home.
* Unpack and arrange your belongings.
* Disconnect and transfer utilities.
* Disconnect and set up electronic equipment, including televisions and computers.
* Provide “age in place” services for those who wish to remain at home.

Skilled move managers are much more than project management specialists. They’re caring and empathic, atuned to the emotional challenges their clients are facing, and dedicated to helping them through a difficult period. Check qualifications and references before hiring a move manager. You’ll have a very close working relationship, so be certain that you’re comfortable with her style and have a clear understanding of how she charges for her services.

Smart Selling Tip:
Move management services are the answer for those who aren’t able to handle a move by themselves, or for members of the family who want to help, but can’t be there.

©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Monday, November 8, 2010

Staging Diary: Highland Lake #2

Too Much Accenting
Sometimes small color changes can make a big difference, and in this house it's been very true. The first time I walked inside, I was greeted by a pair of bright white closet doors directly opposite the front door. Because of the high contrast with the wall color, they distracted my eye from seeing how large and attractive the living room is. The solution: repaint them in the wall color so that the visitor's eye will flow into the room and not stop at the closet. The solution worked so well we're going to use it on some other closet doors and create a simplified, more attractive and less "chopped up" impression.

Another example is the railing and brackets on the stairs to the second floor. Initially the railing was painted white with the rest of the trim, and the brackets were a standard "gold tone". Now the brackets are flat black and look like wrought iron, the railing is painted in black semi-gloss enamel and the baseboards and vents are painted in the wall color. A ho-hum necessity has become an attractive feature, a utilitarian detail has "disappeared" and the distracting baseboards that drew the eye and lowered the ceilings now look unified. Best of all, the cost was minimal.

Correcting with color also produces dramatic results on the exterior. Roger is painting the vertical banding boards that originally were painted white, in the wall color. The result will be more beautiful, harmonious and photogenic, a strategic necessity when you're selling.