Unfortunately, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in showing activity across all price ranges in the last few weeks. All the latest statistics are pointing to an across-the-board decrease in all price ranges and locations due to an oversupply of homes on the market compared to the number of currently active buyers. Believe me, I am equally as frustrated! I’ve given the issue a lot of thought, and have come up with some ideas to help grab a buyer’s attention.
Price reductions – Yes, I’m suggesting the dreaded price reduction. After looking at the homes that are selling, I’ve noticed 2 trends–a fantastic price and beautiful updates. Even if your home is priced well, you’ve got to set yourself apart from the competition to get noticed.
Making updates – If you get consistent feedback that the home needs too many updates, it’s time to get to work. If buyers can tell from the photos that the home needs a lot of updates, then you’ll never get them through the door. Buyers these days want something move-in ready. Most don’t have a ton of extra cash to gut a bathroom or update a kitchen with. You may not recoup a lot of that money when you sell, but it should help grab the attention of a buyer and hopefully get them to see your home. Courtney is great at suggesting ways to get a big impact out of a few small changes…feel free to give her a call!
Professional photos – Your photos are your first “showing” to a buyer. Grab their attention with professional photos. If you took your photos yourself or want a fresher look to your listing, this is an inexpensive way to really make your home shine. I can recommend a professional home photographer who will also include a virtual tour for a very reasonable fee.
Incentives – In certain price ranges, offering to pay some or all of a buyer’s closing costs can help get more traffic to your listing. Offering an agent bonus is another way to get some attention, and works really well in conjunction with sending out an email blast (an additional marketing option outlined on our website here). We’ve had a very good response to email blasts that offer a drawing for a $100 gas gift card…the showing agent gets one entry into the drawing for every showing within a certain time period, usually 2 to 4 weeks.
Although I can’t guarantee these things will help get more traffic through the door, I think they will help your home stand out from the rest, which isn’t a bad thing. As always, please feel free to give me or Courtney a call with any questions!
Spring is here, and to us it’s time to get cleaning. I won’t bore you with all the gory details on how to clean, but I do want to share some tips and a few tricks. If you’ve read our newsletter, you’ve seen a couple of these already. My 4 favorite tips to get the seemingly-monumental task done are:
1. Put on your favorite music. Listening to something upbeat will help you stay on task and keep your energy up. It also keeps the TV off, which is always a distraction around our house.
2. Assemble all your cleaning supplies in advance. It doesn’t help to dig through the cabinet under the sink to find the one thing you need, when you end up off task and re-organizing everything under there. It also reduces cleaning time, because everything is at your fingertips.
3. Make a list of everything you want to get done. It’s much easier to track your progress and make sure it all gets done when you can check things off a list. It also helps to compartmentalize that list and break it into smaller tasks so the whole job doesn’t seem so colossal.
4. Recruit helpers, if you can. Get the whole family involved in the clean-up, and the task won’t seem so massive. I can’t say I’ve ever recruited a toddler to help clean, but I’m sure there are a thousand moms out there with great ideas. I’d love to hear your input on this in the comments!
It really helps to keep in mind that the whole point of spring cleaning is to declutter, clean, and re-organize. Here are some of my tricks and forgotten corners of the house that we might overlook:
- In the kitchen, don’t forget the appliances! While the oven cleaner is taking care of the stove, start pulling out old food in the fridge and especially the freezer. Take all the shelves out and wash in warm soapy water. Vacuum the crumbs and things out of the bottom of the fridge and wipe down the inside of the freezer. After the fridge is done and the oven cleaner has done it’s job, don’t forget the bottom of your toaster. Ick…ours gets particularly gross.
- Run an empty load in your dishwasher with white vinegar. Do the same with your washing machine with bleach.
- Take some time to vacuum and wipe out the bottom of drawers and cabinets. This applies to the kitchen, but also the bathroom. I really like the pre-moistened wipes for this job.
- Try white vinegar and a grout brush in your shower. Its fumes are non-toxic and you are putting less chemicals down the drain. Also in the bathroom, don’t forget to wipe down the outside of your toilet. Those wipes are great for this job as well.
- Pull out the attachments to your vacuum and get into the cracks and crevices of your upholstered furniture (check for loose change and toys first!). You’ll be amazed at what collects there.
- Don’t forget your ceiling fans…they need a good dusting or a wipe down with diluted Murphy’s oil soap. Make sure to change the direction they turn to maximize the air flow for the hot summer to come.
- Take some time to clean your bedding, including your mattress pad. Launder your duvet cover or take your comforter to the cleaners. They usually run specials this time of year.
- When you start to tackle your closet, do it either first or last. I find that I like to procrastinate and wait until the very end, when I can give it more attention. Make 4 piles…trash, keep, garage sale, charity.
- Now is a great time to have your carpets and area rugs professionally cleaned. They take a lot of abuse! Same thing with your drapes.
- Don’t forget the exterior of your home…clean any cobwebs and dirt from your front porch, power wash or wipe down your patio furniture, power wash your porch/deck, patio, and sidewalks. Clean your welcome mat.
Whew…all this talk about cleaning is making me want to procrastinate. I think there are some really important shows on the DVR that need watching…
Does anyone else have any great tips or tricks for spring cleaning?
Home sales in the Triangle slumped badly in the third quarter as the market continued to suffer from a lack of consumer confidence and the lingering effects of the federal homebuyer tax credits.
For the three months that ended Sept. 30, home sales in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties were down 27 percent from the same period a year ago, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show.
With showings also off 27 percent and pending sales down 32 percent, most real estate agents expect the market to remain soft until at least the spring.
As alarming as those numbers are, homes are still selling as long as they are priced well, staged well, and in excellent condition. Take this August AP article, also from the News and Observer website:
The good news for sellers: Your house will sell. The bad? Only if the price is just right.
That could mean biting down hard and slashing tens of thousands from your ideal listing price if you’re serious about selling. And you should be prepared to get even less than that.
Of course, none of this is helping our sellers sleep at night, but it does help that our sellers won’t spend what little equity they have left on a listing agent’s commission. If you’re in a tough spot, have little or no equity and need to sell, give me or Courtney a call…we’d love to help you out.
In my opinion, there are some pretty important things that need to be done to every home to make it ready to sell. Not every home is going to be in perfect condition when it goes on the market, but the idea is to make the home look well-maintained and give a great first impression.
Make sure that a buyer’s first impression is a good one…power wash your siding, sidewalks, driveway, patio, and windows. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint, if needed.
Put out fresh mulch, plant colorful flowers in the yard or in containers, and prune shrubs and trees.
Repair any rotten wood or siding, re-point any crumbling mortar, clean out the gutters, and make any other obvious repairs. Buyers want to buy homes that look well-maintained, and lots of little repairs will send them packing (and moving into a different home).
Clean out the garage and attic. The garage should be mostly clear of any “non-garage stuff” and you should be able to park car(s) inside. Boxes should be removed and put in storage. Again, a garage full from top-to-bottom makes the home feel like it has no storage. Home and termite inspectors will need to see the garage walls and access your water heater and electrical panel. The attic should be easy to access and poke around in.
Remove all wallpaper and paint rooms a neutral color. I hear the same feedback over and over regarding wallpaper…it’s a pain to remove, but I promise it will make all the difference!
Take down/remove any fixtures in the home that will not convey (chandeliers, flat-screen TV’s, drapes, etc). As soon as you tell a buyer that they can’t have Great Aunt Betsy’s dining room chandelier, it will become a dealbreaker for them and blow the whole transaction.
Take down most or all family photos. You want the buyer to feel like the home could belong to them, not that they are trespassing.
Clear any off-season clothing out of closets and put in storage. Pare down shoes and accessories in closets and put in storage. You want your closets to be about half empty. Any more, and buyers will think the home lacks storage. Overstuffed closets also look a lot smaller. This goes for linen closets too.
Remove as much as possible from all the counter space in the house. Kitchen counters should be relatively free of accessories and clutter to make the work space seem larger. Bathroom counters should be clean as well.
Put any excess furniture in storage. Create open spaces within the house to give the illusion of more space.
Make any obvious repairs, like fixing broken tiles or a leaky faucet. Clean any spots in the carpet, or have all the carpet cleaned if needed.
I’m certainly not advocating that you MUST do all the items on this list or the home will never sell, but what I am saying is that, after almost 8 years of getting feedback, these items can help your home sell faster and for a better price. If the home looks “unloved,” then the buyer won’t see much value in it and make a lower offer. In this market, even the smallest objections become issues with all the other homes to choose from that are on the market. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about getting ready to put your home on the market!
I could think of a thousand words for the crawlspace to our house–icky, dark, smelly, full of not-so-pleasant surprises, to name a few–but I can honestly say that I know what it looks like. When was the last time you stuck your head in and poked around? The day you had your home inspected?
The last time someone poked around our crawlspace, he found something shocking…a 3/4″ hot water supply line had burst and poured water into our crawlspace around the clock for 2 weeks. Let’s just say the next 30 days were filled with fun memories of industrial dehumidifiers and dryers (forget about hearing the TV!), ripped up hardwoods, 7 days in a hotel room with 2 dogs, and spending many hours working in a fog of polyurethane. Thankfully, State Farm and Cary Reconstruction treated us well, but we prefer to never have a problem in the first place (although a water leak sensor would have done us a lot of good, and cost basically the same as our deductible).
I strongly encourage you to put on your nastiest work clothes, grab a flashlight (and maybe a hat to keep the spiders off your head), and go explore! You may not know all the intricacies of the working parts under your house, but you’ll be able to spot things like shedded snake skin (ick!), mouse droppings (double ick!), fallen insulation, excess moisture, termite tubes, and mold. Be careful while you’re down there, but don’t be blind to what could turn into costly repairs later. If you spot anything unusual, don’t be afraid to contact a professional…peace of mind is worth a small trip charge.
After what we went through, I promised myself that I will never neglect our crawlspace again!
Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I’d like to take the time to remember and honor those who have sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy the rights and privileges of being American. Thank you to all who have served our country!
I come across at least several homes a month that have unpermitted space. What does that mean? It means that a homeowner or other person or professional finished a previously unfinished area of a house, completed an addition to a house, or otherwise modified the structure of a building without applying for and receiving the proper permits from the municipality where the property is located. The permit process includes a series of inspections at different stages of building by municipal building inspectors to ensure that the work being done follows all applicable building and safety codes. Usually, the work being done must be done by a licensed professional who will sign off on the permit application. Once the building is complete and meets the municipal inspector’s satisfaction, the city or county will issue a “CO” or Certificate of Occupancy.
Permits are very important and can help homeowners avoid some serious headaches. First of all, they ensure that the individual doing the work is a licensed professional. This means they are insured and bonded, which can protect you in case they damage your home and in case an employee injures themselves on your property (note: always ask for a copy of their insurance certificate before signing any contract). The permit process also protects you against safety issues (electrical, structural, etc) and ensures that there is proper “egress” (the ability of a person to escape a building in case of fire or the ability to allow a firefighter with full equipment to enter a building). To a homeowner, it all boils down to having it done right the first time.
We had a seller recently who purchased a home 5 years ago that had a finished attic, but without permits. The attic space was finished (drywall, carpet, light fixtures), heated and cooled, and also included a bathroom. Now that they are ready to move, they began the retroactive permit process, and quickly found out the “professional” that did the work was not so professional. $7,000 later (all new plumbing, new bathroom floor, new drywall, new electrical) they got their CO. Both the electrical and plumbing were referred to as “ticking time bombs” by the general contract who had to replace everything. Why did the sellers go through the headache of retroactively permitting their attic? Because a buyer was going to demand it anyways. Think about it from a buyer’s perspective. Would you purchase a property if there was no guarantee that all or part of it was built properly? What if you had bought a property that had unpermitted space and that “ticking time bomb” exploded?