TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL ESTATE OR YARD SALE

 by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

It is that time of year again – ideal time for spring cleaning and yard sales.  As many of you know, my area of expertise is estate sales – not hosting the sale of personal possessions, but selling estate homes when a family member has passed.  In that role, I have helped many a client clear out the home of a lifetime of possessions.  So I would like to share my tips with you here.  If you are selling an estate home, my team helps you arrange all this, so contact me if you would like to chat about that.

CONSIDER HIRING PROFESSIONALS

I can’t stress enough that if  you are clearing out an estate that has a lot of valuable items, consider hiring a professional company who is licensed, bonded, insured, collects and pays required sales tax, are experts in market values, appraising, pricing that generates maximum value, knows how to prep, staff, advertise, run a professional sale, and assist with after sale clean out.

 Also, it is difficult for a family to watch cherished items being sold off. Usually a professional will be able to sell quite a bit more than a family doing their own sale.

Professional estate sales companies do charge a commission, but it is a small price to pay to have a safe, legal and successful sale.   If you need names of reputable estate sale companies, we can provide that info.

However, if you feel you do not have enough valuable items to warrant a professional or just feel brave enough to go it on your own, below are tips to help you have a successful event.

PLANNING

  1. Line up a lot of Help – It takes a lot of people to pull off an estate or yard sale. The day will involve answering questions, taking money, making change, bagging up items, etc.  It is easy to get frazzled if someone is talking to you while another person is trying to buy something, and you are trying to bag up purchased items.  Imagine that multiplied by lots of questions / transactions going on at the same time.  You will also need to have people in all the rooms where there is stuff for sale.
  2. Give yourself enough time to get ready. For an estate sale, this could be weeks in advance.  You will need to inventory what you have, create a database for that inventory, write up price tags, get bagging supplies and plenty of change ready and more.
  3. Have plenty of Bags, newspaper, bubble wrap, tape, whatever you need to bag up purchased items. Start stockpiling or asking neighbors for their extras in advance.
  4. Call a Charity in advance to see if you can drop off whatever is leftover or have them pick up when the sale is over.
  5. Make special and unique SOLD or PAID tags so they cannot be duplicated. See the section on minimizing theft for more details on this.
  6. Put price tags on everything, with descriptions of the items if possible.
  7. If you have a lot to sell, create a database of the item and its price.

TO MAXIMIZE YOUR INCOME

  1. Check items that could be valuable online or pay a professional to come through and tell you what is valuable and what is a fair price. You don’t want to see your items on Antique Roadshow as the find of a lifetime for someone else. If you find valuable items in the mix, it may be better to sell on eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, at an auction or sell to an antique dealer to get top dollar.  People who come to estate and yard sales are looking for bargains.   
  2. Advertise on Estate Sale sites, Facebook, and other sites that make sense – well in advance.
  3. Last day is 50% off. Don’t give discounts before then.  If there is still a lot left halfway through the last day, consider lowering prices even more.  If you have a lot of small, low value items, consider $5 or $10 bags in the last hours.
  4. For Yard Sales, make signs that say prices are as marked until a certain time at the end of the sale so you don’t get into haggling – unless you like haggling.  But remember that takes your attention off watching your inventory.
  5. Price to sell. Don’t put the top price you see online.  Those are retail prices for people who don’t need to sell right away.
  6. Have items marked with some details such as what the jewelry is made of, dimensions and brands of furniture, provenance of art so that people know what they are buying and why it is priced where it is.
  7. Clean the higher priced items and show them in their best light.
  8. Just because it is old does not mean it is valuable. Let go emotionally of what your family paid for an item or the notion that because it belonged to grandma it is valuable.  Otherwise, you will overprice items and they will not sell.  Many things you think are valuable are not of interest to young buyers – things like China, Crystal, figurines are not of interest to the younger generation. 
  9. People will show up early and start lining up – sometimes an hour or two in advance if it is a big estate sale.  Get some enterprising person to sell coffee and snacks outside during this time!

TO PREVENT THEFT

It is a shame to have to say this, but there are professional Yard and Estate sale thieves.  They employ many tactics from swapping price tags, having one person distract staff by asking lots of questions or asking to see something while their partner(s) pocket small items, walking out the door with the items without paying, etc.  If you are not prepared for this, you will lose valuable items and you will be frazzled.  An once of prevention, as they say……

  1. Do not allow large bags or purses or even bulky coats. Advertise this in advance.  Should people show up with bags, ask them to lock in their car or have someone who can check bags.
  2. Do not leave any entrance or exit unattended – staff every door. If it is a Yard sale, have the ‘register’ at the end of the driveway or exit so no one passes without paying.
  3. Have one person in every room. Also have a person at every exit. 
  4. Keep Jewelry under lock and key or have staff wear the pieces!
  5. Don’t let people walk around with items in their hand. If they will be doing a lot of shopping, they should pay for each piece as they decide on it and one of the helpers can then bag up and hold for them.  You can have a table dedicated to this process.
  6. Make sure people do not roll things up in rugs – yes that has happened.
  7. Price switching is big at Yard and Estate sales. So, if possible, write both the item description and price on the tags to make them harder to switch.
  8. Special colored paper or tags to mark SOLD items… you’ll be amazed at how many try to say they paid for an item by putting their own “sold and paid” sign on it. People using their own post its to say SOLD on items they can’t physically move, iscommon. You’ll need specific PAID receipts that are not easy to fake.
  9. Don’t let people corner you or point to items to get you to turn your head or distract you. If everything is marked, you should be able to say the information / price is on it.  Professional thieves are experts at distracting you by pointing at items and asking questions while they or their partner pocket items.  Don’t let people look at more than one piece of jewelry at a time. And don’t think you know who will or will not do this.  Where I live, there is a band of sweet looking old ladies who have been doing this at yard sales for years.  Probably still at it now.

TO BE COURTEOUS TO BUYERS

  1. No early birds. Don’t let people in early or sell to them early.  For one, it will throw you off your game if you are busy trying to get ready.   It also angers the people who show up at the right time only to find that a lot of the good stuff is already sold.
  2. Have a lot of change available – you don’t want to be running around through the mayhem looking for small bills and change.
  3. Do not allow people to make piles of things they want to buy. They see something they want they should bring it to the check out table, pay for it and have it held for them.
  4. Make sure staff are easy to identify and find.

LOGISTICS

  1. Name tags for people working the sale. Identical T-shirts would be even better.  People working the sale should be easy to spot.
  2. Post notes on doors or cabinets that are not to be opened. Lock them if you can.
  3. Whenever possible, line items up around the perimeter of the rooms so you do not create bottlenecks.
  4. If someone buys something large and says they will come back with help to pick it up, get their contact info.
  5. Have checkout lines. That way you can equip those people with change and bags and it will keep things orderly.  Have ‘This Way to Checkout’ signs posted everywhere.  Have those lines at the exit, which ideally, is not the same as the entrance.
  6. Price tags!! People hate having to find someone to ask the price.  Worse is when they ask and the seller looks at it like they have never considered what they would sell it for and take up time trying to figure that out.
  7. If you are overwhelmed, give people numbers, like a deli counter, and only let in a limited number of people at a time. When one leaves and turns in their number, give it to the next in line.
  8. Consider using payment methods other than cash – Square Reader for credit cards, Venmo for phone to phone payments, etc. Less time counting change!
  9. Consider partnering with professional movers. Have them outside with a truck.  That way, anyone who buys big furniture pieces can immediately pay them to move them to their house rather than needing to come back with help and a truck.
  10. Have a plan for leftovers – call area donation centers ahead of time to find out what their policies are on large donations. If you have a lot of unsold items, you may be able to arrange a truck to come pick them up at the end of the sale, or you can assign someone to take them to a drop-off location.  You may also have to hire a dumpster or a junk removal company for the last of the stuff that a charity won’t take.

Again, if you need help or recommendations on any professionals, just contact me. Information is below.

 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

What are the Requirements to Call a Room a Bedroom?

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

When listing properties, the question often comes up – can they call this room a bedroom?  The questions typically comes up for rooms without a closet or room in basements.  The legal requirements for a bedroom are listed below.   The surprising answer is that a closet is not required.  However, particularly with basement and attic rooms, the ceiling height and second form of egress become the issues.   Most basement and attic bedrooms do not meet the ceiling height requirement.  Basements also typically do not meet the requirements for window size.  As your agent, I need to follow these requirements when listing your home.   Beyond that, Buyers get annoyed when Sellers stretch the description, measurements or room count of their house.  

If you are a buyer, you can use this outline to determine if a listing is property advertising the number of bedrooms.  

  

Seven features that define a bedroom

  1. Minimum square footage:  In Massachusetts, 70 square feet is the acceptable minimum.
  2. Minimum horizontal footage:  A bedroom must also measure at least 7 feet in any horizontal direction.  So a 7×10 or 8×9 would work as a minimum size.
  3. Two means of egress: There must be two ways out of a bedroom. Traditionally, these would be a door and a window.
  4. Minimum ceiling height: At least half of the bedroom ceiling must be at least 7.5 feet tall.
  5. Minimum window size: The window opening must be a minimum size, usually 5.7 square feet. The bottom of the egress window opening cannot be any higher than 44” from the finished floor.  The minimum egress window opening height is 24” high. The minimum egress window opening is 20” wide.
  6. A heating and cooling element: We’re talking a heater (a space heater won’t qualify) as well as a way to cool it down, whether that’s by opening a window or good old AC.
  7. Electricity – Two separate wall-type convenience outlets, or one outlet and one electric light fixture. The outlets shall be placed in practical locations and shall insofar as practicable, be on different walls and at least ten feet apart.

Does a bedroom need a closet?

Legally, a bedroom does NOT need a closet to be considered official.  Closets are expected in newer homes.  But back in the day, people did not have nearly as much clothing as they do today so clothes were stored in chests or dressers, with maybe a couple of things being hung on a hook.  The hanger was not invented until 1869.  That’s why, if an older house does have closets, they are shallow and many still have the original hooks in them.  

If you have a room that does not meet these requirements, you could get away with calling it an office, nursery, playroom or bonus room.  Buyers will appreciate your honesty in not calling it a bedroom. 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Does Remodeling for a Home Sale make sense?

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

I often get asked by clients what they shoud do to prepare their home for the market.  The answer, unless the property makes sense for a builder, for the most part, is clean up, do necessary repairs and sell the property you have.

While nice kitchens and baths do sell a home, spending the money to renovate these right before a sale will net you less in the end.   The Remodeling ROI report for 2018 outlines the average cost of remodeling projects and the return on those costs.  You can see from the chart below that the only renovation that gives you a 100% return is replacing the garage door.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t do renovations on your home, just that you should do them several years before you sell your house so that you can get some enjoyment out of them first.  After all, that is part of the ROI.

So where to expend your effort if you are getting ready for a sale?  

  • Clear out all the extra junk in attics, basements, closets, etc.  If it is not going with you to the next place, sell, donate, trash.
  • Fix things that are broken.  Seeing visibly broken things affects the buyer’s perception of value.  Look around your house for broken panes of glass, rotted wood, holes in the walls, light switches that don’t work, have your furnace cleaned, touch up paint, etc.  Those things are worth addressing.
  • Curb appeal  – have the yard cleaned up, edged, plant some nice flowers.
  • Have the house professionally cleaned.

I deal a lot in estate sales.  I would say that for most of those, it is also worthwhile to take up the wall-to-wall carpeting that is covering hardwood floors and, if necessary, refinish the floors.  The impact of how much it transforms the house is worth the expense.  This is fairly easy to do with estate homes as they can be cleared out.  Understandably tough to do this for a house you still occupy.

If selling your home is a few years away, it is worthwhile to have your Realtor come in and walk through the house with you to give you a checklist of those things you can do to prepare your home for sale.  That way you can take your time getting the work done and can enjoy the rewards of getting it done before you go to market.

If you want help with that, just ask!

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

State of the Real Estate Market – Jan 2018

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

Housing Value

There are so many topics we can cover in talking about the state of the Real Estate market.  To be succinct, I will briefly cover these three topics.

  1. Tax Reform Bill
  2. Inventory
  3. Interest Rates

Tax Reform

There are many articles out there on the new tax reform bill and how it impacts homeowners.  I wrote one you can find here.  As you probably know, the key changes are that the Mortgage Interest Deduction has been capped to a $750,000 mortgage, down from $1m and that the maximum amount of real estate tax you can deduct is $10,000.  These changes will affect homeowners here in the Greater Boston area.  Today the median home price in Newton is $2,295,000, which would clearly require a mortgage over $750,000 for most people.  Moody’s is estimating that this will cause a 4% loss in home values from where they would have been if the Tax Reform Bill were not in place. 

Inventory

It is early in the year to be able to say where inventories will be for spring, but looking at a snapshot of today compared to the same day over the past 4 years, inventories are remaining low:

Newton Housing Inventory

Interest Rates

Given the Tax Reform Bill reduction in the Mortgage Interest Deduction only affects new mortgages (after Dec 15, 2017), it is possible that sellers will want to hang on to their existing mortgage and stay in their homes, which will further exacerbate inventory shortages.

Are now over 4%.  I expect they will stay there and possibly go up from there.  I say possibly only because rates have defied rate hikes by the Federal Reserve over the last couple of years.  The Fed does expect to make at least two more hikes in 2018. 

In Summary….

Because inventory is still low and people have not yet felt the impact of the Tax Reform Bill, I expect the spring market to still be brisk.  I suspect that the less desirable homes will feel the sting of the changes  by staying on the market longer.  By less desirable, I mean those that need a good deal of updating.  Buyers (who are not builders) are reluctant to buy these.  Once they make their downpayment, they don’t have money left over for updates.  If they have any money left over, they don’t have time to manage the projects, don’t want their children breathing in construction dust, and cannot find contractors to do the work.  

At the entry level prices (in Newton that is around $600K) you will find Buyers who are willing to take on projects in order to get into the city.  However, once you get to prices where they can buy a house  that does not need work, say $800K or more, they would rather get into a bidding war on an updated house than buy a project house.   If you want to know the value of your home, contact us here.

 

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell – Disposing of Things that Cannot go in Regular Trash Collection

This information is for those of you who live in the City of Newton.  If you don’t live in Newton and want the information for your town, just ask!

There are so many things to do to prepare a home for sale.  Then, once it is under agreement, a whole new set of To-Dos to get ready for closing.  Many home sellers don’t think about disposing of all the stuff they are not taking with them until they are packing to move which causes undue stress and can even hold up a sale.  So, to help those of you who will be selling this spring, the follow is useful information on the disposal of large bulky items and hazardous waste.

Some products which have been considered hazardous in the past can now be disposed of with the regular trash. These include:

  • Alkaline batteries made since 1994 (AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt)
  • Smoke detectors
  • Latex paint (dried out or with sand or kitty litter to solidify) OR bring usable (less than 3 years old) paint to the Latex Paint Exchange at the Recycling Center
  • Soiled bandages in plastic bags, securely fastened
  • Driveway sealer (latex or oil based, with lid off)

As you may know, the City of Newton will take up to 5 large bulky items (rugs, mattresses, etc.) per week on your normal collection day.  You just need to call by 3:30 on the business day before your collection.  You can schedule online by clicking 311 on the home page.  Or you can call the main number at (617) 796-1000.  You should start doing this weeks before your closing so that you can get everything removed before the day of closing.  Buyers don’t appreciate when there are large pieces of furniture and junk out front on the day of the closing and can even ask you to remove them before closing.

The city does not take construction materials such as cinder blocks, bricks, pieces of wood, old toilets, etc. To dispose of building materials, you would need to rent a dumpster or hire a junk removal company to take the materials away.

They also do not take TVs, Metal or Plastic as part of bulk pickup.  TVs and metal items can be picked up curbside or dropped off at the Recycling Center for a fee which you must pay online in advance.  Appliances can be dropped off for free or picked up curbside for $25 per item. MassSave will pick up working old refrigerators and freezers and give you a $50 rebate!

Large pieces of cardboard, plastic and metal for recycling can be dropped off for free at the Recycling Depot.

Hours and Address of Recycling Center
Monday-Saturday from 7:15am-2:30pm*
Closed on Sundays and Holidays

Located at 115 Rumford Ave, Auburndale, MA 02466 

There are many options for donating household items, clothing, and other useful items.  Too many to name here, so I will provide those in the next blog post.  Feel free to reach out to me if you need that info now.

2018 HAZARDOUS WASTE DAYS

First Saturday of the month and Third Thursday of the month – which are the following dates:

  • February 3rd
  • February 15th
  • March 3rd
  • March 15th
  • April 7th
  • April 19th
  • May 5th
  • May 17th
  • June 2nd
  • June 21st

 

MATERIALS ACCEPTED AT THE RECYCLING CENTER

The full list can be found here –Materials Accepted at the Recycling Center and includes things like paint, items containing mercury, batteries, auto products like oil and outdoor items like pesticides.  Please be a good custodian of mother earth and recycle these items instead of throwing them in the regular trash!

Stay tuned for more blog posts on getting your house ready.  If you are thinking of selling your house and want to go over all the step to get ready, reach out to me and I will be glad to help.

Michelle J. Lane

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Seller Testimonial – Wellesley

Michelle was very supportive and understanding in dealing with a sale of our Mom’s house. Mom is 85 and leaving her home of 58 years so it was a big deal. Michelle also dealt smoothly with two siblings on opposite side of the country. Her communication was responsive, clear and we always felt that she was doing her best for us. There were some ups and downs in finding the right buyer and Michelle kept working her networks to keep us the process which was ultimately successful and we were very pleased with the final price and the overall process. 

Joel Kushner, CA

7 Landscaping Mistakes That Wreck Curb Appeal

Outdoors Landscaping & Gardening Curb Appeal
Don’t let badly designed or maintained landscaping wreck your home’s curb appeal.
Here are pitfalls to avoid.

Clumsy, neglected, and hodgepodge landscaping not only hurts your home’s curb appeal, it can cut the value of your property and make it harder to sell.
Real estate appraisers say bad landscaping is a buyer turnoff that can increase the number of days a property languishes on the market, which also hurts prices.
Even more important, bad landscaping is a downer that hurts the way you see and enjoy your home.
Don’t let bad landscaping happen to you. Here are the seven landscaping mistakes that bust, rather than boost, your home’s curb appeal.

1. Planting Without A Plan
Some landscaping choices, such as a line of begonias, will last a season; others, like trees,
can last a lifetime. So, take time to plan and plot a yard that gives you maximum enjoyment
and curb appeal.
For the design challenged, landscape architects are worth the investment ($300-$2,500
depending on yard size). They will render elevations of your future yard, and provide plant
lists so you can install landscaping yourself.

2. Too Much Togetherness
Yes, planting in clusters looks way better than installing single plants, soldier-like, throughout
your yard. But make sure your groups of perennials, shrubs, and trees have plenty of room to
spread, or they’ll look choked and overgrown. Also, over-crowded landscaping competes
with itself for food and water, putting the clusters at risk, especially during drought.
Google how high and wide the mature plant will be, and then combine that info with the suggestions on planting labels. At first, garden beds of young plants will look too airy and prairie-like. But within three years, your beds will fill in with room to grow.

Remember: First year it sleeps, second it creeps, third it leaps.

3. Zoning Out
Don’t be seduced by catalog plants that look gorgeous on paper but aren’t suited to your
hardiness zone. You’ll wind up with plants that die prematurely, or demand winter covers,
daily watering, and other intensive efforts to keep them alive and well.
Check plant labels to see which hardiness zones are best for your plants.

4. More of the Same
Resist the design temptation to carpet-bomb your yard with your favorite plant or shrub,
which will create a boring, monochromatic landscape. Worse, your yard will look great when
your fave flowers bloom, then will look drab the rest of the year.
Mix things up and strive for four-season color. For example, combine spring-blooming
azaleas with summer-blooming roses and autumn-blazing shrubs — such as burning
bushes (Euonymus alatus). For winter color, try the red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera),
a hardy shrub that sports bright-red branches in winter.
Related:

5. Refusing to Bury Your Dead
Nothing wrecks curb appeal faster than rows of dead or dying shrubs and perennials. So
quickly remove your dearly departed landscaping from your front and side yards.
Spent plants that lived their natural lives are good candidates for a compost pile — if you
grind them first, they’ll decompose faster. But if your landscaping succumbed to disease or
infestation, it’s best to inter them in black plastic bags, then add to the trash.

6. Weeds Gone Wild
Weeds not only wreck the look of your landscaping, they compete with pricey vegetation for
water and food. Weeds also can shorten the life of brick, stone, and pavers by growing in
mortar cracks.
The best way to stop weeds is to spread a pre-emergent about three weeks before weed
seeds typically germinate. If you can’t stop weeds from growing, at least get rid of them
before they flower and send a zillion weed seeds throughout your yard.
7. Contain Those Critters
Deer, rabbits, and other backyard pests think your landscaping is an all-you-can eat buffet,
leaving you with denuded branches and topless perennials.
If you’ve got a critter problem:
Plant deer- or rabbit-resistant varieties. Your local extension agent can provide a list of
green things critters won’t eat in your area.
Install an electric fence around landscaping you want to protect.
Spray plants with critter repellent. After a hard rain, spray again.

© Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Eight Seconds…

That’s all it takes for most buyers to form a first opinion of yur house.  It is an emotional decision that is made pretty quickly.  Not much different from the process of deciding whether or not you are attracted to someone when you are in dating mode.

So when I hear sellers tell me, “They should be able to look past the deferred maintenance, peeling wallpaper, chipping paint, dirty rugs (insert any other offense to the sensibilities here), it tells me  they have forgotten what that emotional component of buying a house fells like.

Imagine carrying that frame of mind over to the dating world and saying “They should be able to see past the fact that I haven’t washed my hair, ironed my clothes, or picked the spinach out of my teeth and see me for the solid person I am.”  Doesn’t work in the dating world and doesn’t work in selling houses.   Do you want to attract maybe one strange character who goes for that stuff or do you want to make yourself attractive to as great a pool of suitors as possible?

Imagine you are going to a speed dating session.  What results would you expect if you showed up dirty, messy, unkempt, smelly, unshaven….you get the idea.  You would not want to have to find out the answer the hard way, so you wouldn’t take the chance.  You would shower, shave, comb your hair, brush your teeth, dab on something nice-smelling.

Think of the Open House as speed dating for your home.  That is your first chance to make a good impression and to attract as many suitors as possible.  Once you have made a bad first impression, it is pretty near impossible to fix it.

SO, the basics of getting ready for your speed dating session with buyers.

Good Photography and Good Grooming

Buyers are going to judge your house from the pictures online and then by what they see in a drive-by.   Curb appeal is vital.  Keep the lawn mowed, paint if needed, mulch, put out flower pots or plant flowers.  A new doormat and new mailbox makes the whole house seem newer.

Clean Up!

Clean every room from top to bottom, clean out closets and cabinets. Throw out junk that is not moving to the next house with you.  Look at your home with a critical eye.  If paint is chipping, fix it.  If there are cracks in walls, rusty baseboard, etc. take care of it.

Put away the pictures of the ex – Pretty hard to imagine yourself in the life of a new dating partner if their place is a basically a shrine to their ex, right?   Well, buyers want to imagine themselves living in your space.  They don’t want to see how many toys you can cram into one room, family photos hanging everywhere, stuff falling out of closets.   That’s the dating equivalent of having pictures of your ex everywhere.

Brighten Up – Open Windows, pull up shades, put in bright bulbs.  Make sure no bulbs are out.

A New Outfit – To most sellers, staging is a dirty word that basically equates to throwing away their money.  Staged homes typically sell for about 15% more than unstaged homes.   Sounds like money well spent to me.  If you don’t have much money to rent furniture, etc. you can still do a lot by putting new towels and soaps in the bathrooms, and decorating the house with a more critical eye.  Taking stuff away is as important as bringing it in.

Basically, walk through the whole house and look at it as if you were a buyer looking at it for the first time.  Be honest with yourself.   Is it clean, bright, pretty?  Does it smell nice?  Are there no obvious signs of disrepair or deferred maintenance?    As a Realtor, this is what I do.  I look up at the ceiling, down at the baseboards, I scan over everything and what I notice or give you advice on – trust me, the buyers will notice too.    Think of feedback as a gift – a chance to make improvements that are going to get your house sold.  And better to hear it from me before your house goes on the market than to hear it from buyers!

Eight Seconds……

That’s all it takes for most buyers to form a first opinion of yur house.  It is an emotional decision that is made pretty quickly.  Not much different from the process of deciding whether or not you are attracted to someone when you are in dating mode.

So when I hear sellers tell me, “They should be able to look past the deferred maintenance, fushia colorer wallpaper, holes in the floor, (insert any other offense to the sensibilities here), it tells me  they have forgotten what that emotional component of buying a house fells like. And that also tells me it’s going to be a challenging sale!

Imagine carrying that frame of mind over to the dating world and saying “They should be able to see past the fact that I haven’t washed my hair, ironed my clothes, picked the spinach out of my teeth, etc.  and see me for the solid person I am.”  Doesn’t work in the dating world and doesn’t work in selling houses.   Do you want to attract maybe one strange character who goes for that stuff or do you want to make yourself attractive to as great a pool of suitors as possible?

SO, the basics of getting ready for your speed dating session with buyers otherwise known as the Open House:

First Impressons

Buyers are going to judge your house from the pictures online and then what they see in a drive-by.   Curb appeal is vital.  Keep the lawn mowed and the shrubs trimmed, paint if needed, mulch, put out flower pots or plant flowers.  A new doormat and new mailbox makes the whole house seem newer.

Clean Up!

Clean every room from top to bottom, clean out closets and cabinets. Throw out junk that is not moving to the next house with you.  Look at your home with a critical eye.  If paint is chipping, fix it.  If there are cracks in walls, rusty baseboard, etc. take care of it.

De-clutter and De-personalize – Buyers want to imagine themselves living in your space.

Brighten Up – Open Windows, pull up shades, put in bright bulbs.  Make sure no bulbs are out.

Basically, walk through the whole house and look at it as if you were a buyer looking at it for the first time.  Be honest with yourself.   Is it clean, bright, pretty?  Does it smell nice?  Are there no obvious signs of disrepair or deferred maintenance?    As a Realtor, this is what I do.  I look up at the ceiling, down at the baseboards, I scan over everything and what I notice or give you advice on – trust me, the buyers will notice too.    Remember – Feedback is a gift – a chance to make improvements that are going to get your house sold.  And better to hear it from me before your house goes on the market than to hear it from buyers!

 

If you are Contemplating a Short Sale – do it this year!

Back in 2007 Congress approved a debt forgiveness law for homeowners when they do a short sale and the lender forgiveness portion is not repaid.

Normally, the portion forgiven is treated as taxable income to the borrower.  The Debt Forgiveness Act provides relief to troubled borrowers when some portion is forgiven.  That relief expires on Dec 31st, 2012.  The transaction must close by Dec 31st to qualify.  The Act could possibly be extended, but there is no guarantee.   Given how long short sales take to process, if you are considering a short sale, contact your Realtor (me) now to find out your options and how to proceed.

Borrowers whose debt is reduced or eliminated will receive a year-end statement from their lender, IRS Form 1099-C. Eligible homeowners must complete several lines on IRS Form 982 which must be included when filing their federal income tax return to claim the mortgage relief. For more information, review IRS Publication 4681 and IRS Form 982, or consult a qualified accountant or attorney.