Saturday, March 28, 2009

Price Wars and Beauty Contests--8 Simple Tips to Win!

Buying a home is an emotional decision. Buyers are making multiple offers on homes that may need new plumbing or furnaces; but the floors are swept, the bathrooms shine, the fragrance of muffins linger in the kitchen, the beds are wrinkle free made with simple but stylish bed spreads, light flows through clean windows, and the counters are clutter free with a few designer touches.

While lower prices and good photos on the internet are getting people into the home, the Sellers who stage their home with a few simple moves will appeal to all the Buyer's senses and will get multiple offers. Buyers driven by their desire to have that particular home are getting into bidding wars. The sellers are ending up with thousands of dollars above where they started.

8 Simple Tips:

1. Clean up the yard. Weed and cut the grass. At the last minute, add a few plants that are in bloom for color.
2. Remove Clutter. Removing clutter makes the rooms feel bigger.
3. Deep cleaning is a must. Floorings must be cleaned. Kitchens and bathrooms must sparkle. Kitchen counters tops must be cleared. Trashcans must be emptied. Remove litter boxes to the garage or clean everyday to reduce any odors.
4. Simple Stylish Decorating. Open up the room by reducing excessive furniture. Freshen up the home with neutral colored paint. Remove all personal items and photos. Set a beautiful inviting table. Play soft music for atmosphere. More decorating ideas can be found on Better Homes and Gardens (
5. Let the Sun Shine in. Open window blinds and drapes or turn on lights for a bright cheery home.
6. Simple Repairs Can Make a Huge Difference. Loose knobs, dripping faucets, burned out light bulbs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor flaws detract from the home value. Have them fixed.
7. Safety. Keep stairways clear. Remove throw rugs on slippery surfaces. Tack down any loose carpets or protruding boards. Dogs must be kenneled or restrained.
8. Clear Out Closets. Neat, well-organized closets make them look bigger and show that space is ample.

With the advice of an experienced Realtor®, who can give you more staging tips, will make all the difference in how easily and quickly you sell your home--to win the beauty contest!

--Virginia Hall

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Go Green, Save Green

You don’t have to build from scratch to have a greener home. These quick and easy home fixes will shrink your consumption and your monthly bills.

  • Rate it. Look for Energy Star-rated products. This government program helps people make energy-efficient choices, which can lead to savings of up to a third of energy costs.

  • Switch the lights. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. Replace them in highly used fixtures such as porch lights, bathroom vanities and office lamps.

  • Go with the flow. Use low-flow showerheads and consider installing low-flow toilets to reduce water usage and save on water-heating costs.

  • Plug in, turn off. Use a power strip for your home office or home entertainment center. Even in standby mode, consumer electronics — which account for 15 percent of household electricity — use a little juice, so turn the power strip off when you can.

  • Cool it. Turn the water temperature for your washing machine or dishwasher down to 120ยบ F to cut water-heating energy consumption.

  • Seal it. Search for hidden air leaks in your attic, basement or crawl space, and seal them with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping. Home sealing can be an inexpensive way to cut energy consumption by up to 10 percent.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

If Houses Could Scream!

"What happened here?" my buyer gasped.

I was in shock. What had happened since making an offer on the home?

It had been 6 weeks since he had made the offer on this home, that was being sold as a short sale. The sellers had to sell the home as the result of a divorce, and owed more on the home than it would be sold for. The home was older and needed some cleaning, a kitchen and bathroom update, but over all the 3 bedroom house had potential.

As we walked into the house, the seller passed us leaving for work muttering something about trouble with his child who had done some damage.

However, after examining the home, it was evident that the seller had done the dastardly deed. He had removed the dishwasher, the oven, the front bathroom newer bathtub doors. In addition, two bedroom doors, some kitchen cabinet doors were missing. As we walked down the hall I noticed the matching painted wood paneling on the walls was missing and now there was exposed damaged drywall with a layer of black tar down the middle. The original hardwood floors had a long scrapes and gouges where the oven had been drug through the living room to the backyard.

While we had a contract that the seller had violated, what is the point of suing someone who is in the process of losing everything. I could have renegotiated the price down for my Buyer, but where would the angry seller stop before the end of escrow. With the damage he did in 24 hours since the offer had been accepted, would the house still be standing in the next 45 days? Unfortunately, the Seller's actions, spoke loud and clear, "That if I couldn't have it, no one would.

Since we were expecting the home inspector, any minute, my buyer had to make a decision. While I hated to see him lose the house that he had hunted months for and waited patiently for the bank to approve the offer, but there was nothing else he could do. I knew he couldn't afford to rebuild the nice little home he had bought. Not to mention, would he be able to get lending on it. While we had a contract, you can't sue someone who has nothing to lose. Much to his despair, the Buyer was forced to cancel his contract.

While I have seen foreclosed homes damaged, toilets and sinks missing, entire kitchens barren, this was the first short sale where someone had sabotaged his chances of selling a home. While I knew this seller was in the middle of a divorce and angry, I tried to make sense of the destruction.

While some may see the destruction as an expression of anger towards the banks, a silent revolution, I feel we are seeing an epidemic of angry home owners, grieving over the loss of their homes--the center of their family's universe.

While buyers have an opportunity to pick up homes at a reduced price right now, there are a lot of homes out there that have been damaged by Angry Sellers or have deferred maintenance. A big problem with these homes for buyers, is lenders often won't lend on them. So right now, patience is the name of the Buyer Game and being the first to find the diamond.