Friday, December 31, 2010

Planning to Sell Your House?

If you plan to sell your house, don’t be discouraged by market conditions! Take charge of the selling process and apply these Smart Selling ideas to improve your prospects for a successful outcome:

Preparing To Sell

  • Enlist the support of the entire family and make a full commitment to selling.
  • Prepare to compete by looking at houses on the market in your anticipated price range. How does your house compare?
  • Have a pre-listing home inspection and make any recommended repairs.
  • Consult with a professional stager about ways to make your house appeal to most buyers. Implement basic recommendations yourself and get help as needed.
  • Have the stager return for final staging, including placement of furniture and accessories. (Don’t be tempted to skip this step!)
  • Contact REALTOR®s after your house is completely prepared for sale and ready to be photographed.
  • Your REALTOR® will research houses comparable with yours, including current listings, recent sales and withdrawn listings. Use this knowledge for a reality check to determine your pricing strategy.
  • Price your house realistically from day one. Listen to your REALTOR®’s pricing advice.
  • Participate in picture-taking and carefully compose every shot to show key features at their best.
  • Make the most of the first 30-45 days on the market. This is your best chance to sell at or near your initial listing price.
  • Discuss the feedback your REALTOR® is getting and be willing to make changes.
  • Use the power of the internet and social media. In addition to your REALTOR®’s web site and her company’s web site, be sure your house is listed on other real estate sites, including REALTOR.com®, Trulia, craigslist.com, etc. Create a facebook page for your house.
  • Continue to monitor the competition and be prepared to adapt your strategy.

  • Update the list of comparable properties and consider a price reduction if there is little activity after 45 days.

  • Have your accessories reflect the season and keep your house looking fresh.
  • Make the house available for showings when requested – even if inconvenient.
  • Create a showing checklist to be certain the house is ready for visitors and give everyone a job.
  • Maintain the inside and outside of the house in showing condition.
  • Have a flexible attitude and a sense of humor.

Smart Selling Tip: Take charge of the selling process and apply Smart Selling ideas to improve your prospects for a successful outcome in any market.

©2012 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fireplace Fundamentals for Sellers

A fireplace ranks high on the list of amenities that most buyers want, so if you have one, make the most of it.
Condition
Be sure the fireplace is in sound condition before you list, especially if you have an older home. If your fireplace has a chimney, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that it be cleaned and inspected annually, and requires an inspection before real property is transferred. In North Carolina, regulations are less strict than the NFPA guidelines, but the inspection is still a good idea. Indications that your fireplace needs attention include dirty glass doors, sooty fireplace logs, difficulty starting a fire, and/or flames that drop out.
Typically, home inspectors aren’t trained as chimney inspectors, so have your chimney cleaned and then inspected by a certified chimney specialist to be certain it’s operating correctly and is properly ventilated. Cleaning fees vary, depending on the condition of the fireplace. The cost of an inspection with a video camera is about $150, depending on what is needed. Flues from a gas or oil furnace or a gas water heater also vent potentially lethal gases, so have those flues inspected too. Being pro-active can help keep repair costs down. The inspector will be able to provide the details about the fireplace that you need for the MLS listing.
If you have a hearth product fueled by gas, call PSNC and have a licensed technician verify that the gas line and connections have been properly installed and are operating correctly. Because of the potential exposure to lethal gases, place a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the house and outside every sleeping area. Although this is a crucial precaution in houses with an unvented fireplace, most houses need at least one carbon monoxide detector.
Marketing
A fireplace is a natural focal point and plays a key role in marketing pictures. Simple, properly scaled decorative accessories photograph best. They should suit the architecture and décor and be appropriate all year. The MLS sheet should specify if the fireplace is vented or unvented, and whether it burns wood, natural gas or propane. Include the inspection report and the invoices for cleaning and repairs in the marketing binder, as well as the operating manual(s) for all fireplace equipment.
Smart Selling Tip: Have your fireplace cleaned, inspected and repaired, if needed, before you list. Prepare the fireplace to star in pictures.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Window Treatments: Friend or Foe?

Window treatments can make a powerful decorating statement that adds to your family’s enjoyment of your house, but they also can be a drawback when you sell. If the design, color and materials aren’t popular today, or if they’re suitable only to a specific décor, or if they’re not positioned correctly, your house won’t photograph or show well. However, attractive (not necessarily expensive) window treatments with broad appeal, can add value and style to your house.
Before you list, evaluate the window treatments in each room.
· Are there expensive, custom window treatments that you plan to leave? Be certain the design, color and pattern are sufficiently neutral to appeal to nearly everyone. If so, describe them in detail for your marketing binder. If they’re too specific or dated, make changes.
· Selling is different from living in your house. If you chose opulent drapes, they might overwhelm the room and distract buyers. Focus attention on the house, not your décor. Change or edit window treatments, as needed.
· Is there more than one layer of window treatment, such as blinds, a shade or sheers, plus heavier fabric drapes? Remove any layer that is more decorative than functional for a simpler look.
· Are some window treatments coordinated with paint colors in rooms that are now being repainted? If so, remove or change them.
· If you remove any hardware, be sure to fill the holes and repaint.
· Some window treatments serve an important function such as privacy, security, screening an unattractive view, or energy efficiency. If that’s the case, but they aren’t attractive, replace existing window treatments with functional, simple, color-coordinated ones.
· Are the window treatments clean and in good condition?
· Are the window treatments hung correctly to:
§ make ceilings look higher and rooms look more spacious?
§ allow maximum light to reach the interior?
§ showcase the window?
§ correct the proportions of the window in relation to the wall?
If you’re not sure how well your window treatments are working, call a professional stager.
Sometimes the answer is simple and cost-free, like repositioning a drapery rod. Your stager can help you evaluate the window treatments in your house and suggest ways to make the most of your budget.
Smart Selling Tip:
Evaluate the window treatments in your house before you list. If you need help, get advice from a professional stager.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Friday, December 10, 2010

Selling Property With A Well

When you’re selling property with a well, be aware that many buyers have no experience with wells and may be prejudiced against having one. To create buyer confidence about living with a well, be certain that the water from your well meets quality standards and provide detailed information about the well and its equipment.
Well water should be tested every one to three years for the presence of bacteria and nitrates. Annual testing is best because even if a well is properly sited, constructed and maintained, groundwater travels and may pick up pollutants elsewhere that can reach the water supply. You can have your water tested by your County Environmental Health Department, a private laboratory or by a home inspector. Obtain a list of certified labs from the Cooperative Extension Service. If you have a water filter, remove it before you test the water. After the test, install a new filter.
Before putting your house on the market, have a home inspection that includes the basic operation of your well and its equipment, such as the pressure tank, filter and water softener. The inspector will turn on the water taps and note any concerns about water pressure and flow. If there are problems, consult a well drilling company or a plumber and resolve any issues. If it’s above ground, detail the well head and change the insulation so it looks clean and presentable. If your well needs repair or you want to close an abandoned well, a County permit may be required.
Marketing Materials
To make buyers more comfortable with the well, provide information about water quality, how the system operates and how to maintain it. Mark the location of the well on your property so that buyers can find it easily and become familiar with it.
Create a section in your marketing binder for detailed information about your well and equipment, including the original permit and other records, if available. Include the following:
  • Home inspection.
  • Water quality test results.
  • Maintenance receipts.
  • Property survey noting the location of the well and the well equipment.
  • Well equipment manuals.
Resources
North Carolina Cooperation Extension Service
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/osww_new/new1/privwells.htm
Smart Selling Tip:
When selling property with a well, test the water quality before you list. Provide details about the well and its equipment, and include maintenance information in your marketing materials.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens

Friday, December 3, 2010

Selling An Older House - Part Two

Marketing
Whether you’re selling an historic house, or one that’s simply “older”, a key part of your marketing strategy is to create buyer confidence that the house is in sound condition and reduce concern about surprises. Have a seller’s home inspection and implement the recommendations. Prepare a marketing binder that includes the inspection report and copies of any repair bills. Provide a survey and research the deed to be certain it’s free of encumberances. Describe updates you’ve made and details of energy-efficient features. Include utility bills for the past year. Furnish a list of tradespeople who’ve worked on the house. Provide a home warranty for the buyer’s peace of mind. Your house will compete more effectively against newer ones and encourage buyers to consider preserving our architectural heritage.
If you’re selling a truly historic house, there’s a special story to tell. Prepare a separate binder with pictures and stories, if available. Provide the name of the architect and describe the style of the house, including any unique elements, so visitors will appreciate their significance. Describe features that have made the house enjoyable for your family. Effective pictures are crucial to on-line marketing. Edit your belongings and carefully compose each picture to highlight the best features of the house, including close-ups of significant details. Before you take pictures, replace any items that won’t convey, like a chandelier, with something attractive, properly scaled and suitable to the house.
Pricing
Pricing an older house, especially an historic one, presents special challenges because of the lack of truly comparable properties, either recent sales or current listings, whether priced realistically, or not. Pricing older or historic homes is a blend of art and science, but a current appraisal is an essential starting point. To establish a range of recommended listing prices, your REALTOR® will look at a number of factors, including the appraisal, the current tax value, the location of your house, sales of similar houses in your neighborhood and in a wider radius during the past year (if any), the condition and cosmetic appeal of your house and the competition. The knowledge and experience of your REALTOR® in evaluating each of these factors is invaluable.
Smart Selling Tip:
The marketing plan for an older house should create buyer confidence in its condition and showcase its unique charm. Rely on the expertise of your REALTOR® to evaluate the factors that determine a suitable listing price.
©2010 Sandy LeRoy and Mary Stephens