Monday, July 19, 2010

6 Quick Tips to Sell Your Home - Guest Blogger: Jennifer Sammons

Hi! My name is Jennifer Sammons and I am the Buyer's Agent working for Brooke Cashion & Associates. Based off of my past years of experience in home design and staging, Brooke has asked me to provide you with some quick tips to help sell your home. Here we go...

In today's market, competition is thick and you must take extra steps in making your home stand out from the crowd. How can you do this? Well, it's really easy, it just takes a few minor attitude adjustments and you moving out...just kidding, you do not have to move out! You do have to take the "Home" out of your "House". What I mean to say is, depersonalize your home and turn it into a model house. This house is now on the market and your goal is to sell it...right? Everything must have a place and less is more. Here are a few quick tips to help you stage your home and sell faster for more money.

  • Less furniture in a room can make a room feel bigger. Even if you think that showing your massive bedroom suite/living room suite with all 5 or 6 pieces clearly shows what the room can hold, think again. You have just eaten up useful floor space for your potential buyer's wants and needs and your room is viewed as small and cramped.

  • Clean your windows, inside & out. Let the buyers see clearly all of the potential in your home and outdoor living space. Also, change your mini blinds out for 2" faux wood blinds or if you don't want the investment...just take them down completely.

  • Remove all the knick-knacks and items that you do not use on a daily basis from all countertops (kitchen & baths), bookshelves and furniture. Your collectibles are distracting to the space and your buyers. They can't see past your stuff to visualize their belongings in the house.

  • Update the fixtures. Thanks to the big box stores, lighting and plumbing fixtures have become more and more affordable. You can replace most fixtures for less than $100 each. Try not to get caught up in the trend colors...remember that is personalizing. Stick with polished chrome or brushed nickel. Currently polished chrome fixtures for lighting and baths are making a major come back. They are classic colors that never go out of style and they are the least expensive. By the way, do not forget to change out switch covers and outlet covers to match or go neutral. NO BRASS! Also, always check your light fixtures for burnt out bulbs...light is good!

  • Spruce up the entry. Make someone want to enter your home. You remember "don't judge a book by it's cover" well, that's what people are doing when they drive by your house. They are assuming that a rundown porch or entry could only indicate a neglected interior. A new rug, fresh paint on the door, new (black) shutters, new (black) light fixtures and live plants in good condition will add major value to your curb appeal.

  • Re-evaluate. Have you, your spouse, a friend and/or family member walk through the house and point out things that stand out, take the good with the bad. Remember try not to take this personally...this is no longer your "home", it's a "house" that's on the market. Highlight the good areas and fix the bad. You are moving on and the ultimate goal is to sell!

Finally, just as a bonus...list your house with Brooke Cashion & Associates to sell faster and for more money!!!!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

10 Years....

Almost a month and how time flies! My daughter just turned 10 yesterday, so it seems fitting to reflect on the past 10 years. Months after Maddie was born, I took the real estate course and state test and began selling real estate. My how times have changed and haven't!!

When I first started my real estate career, the market was not exactly what you would call "stellar". Meaning, rates were around 9%, there was a pretty large inventory and I felt, as I sat on phone duty rearranging Post-It notes, that buyers were few and far between. So few and far, that on my very first transaction, the buyers could not secure financing and we negotiated an owner finance agreement, that eventually worked out in every one's best interest.

Banks and lenders at the time were still requiring sizable chunks of cash down and the first-time buyer had to save (gasp!) money or have it gifted in order to make a go of purchasing their first home. I remember one office meeting I sat in at the first firm I worked at, when someone came and spoke to our office about 100% financing and USDA rural housing loans. They showed a slide-show, (yes, not PowerPoint but slide show) of the various income levels and how they correlate to the number of people in the family. I remember the buzz around our office as to how could this be sustained and do these folks really need this kind of governmental assistance if they can't qualify under the current standards of lending....Well, you can now sit back and Monday morning quarterback, but you also know where that got us. Now the government backs over 90% of all loans and establishes outlandish criteria and hoops to jump for legitimate buyers while still offering, up until a very short while ago, these SAME exact loan programs!! Guess we still haven't learned...

As I became more experienced, changed companies, owned and sold my own company, my perspective changed. I grew into a position that allowed me to consult and advise buyers and sellers on the purchase and sell real estate. No longer, cold calling (done away with by Do Not Call registry), no longer giving recipe cards and tossing candy in the parade, time and experience blessed me with a trusted and loyal client base that is always sending new leads and referrals my way. Folks now understand my job for them doesn't stop at closing, it continues as an advisor for home remodeling, refinancing, additions, real estate tax questions, advocacy on their behalf to banks and attorneys and so much more. This career is fulfilling and challenging, ever-changing, rewarding, sometimes emotionally-draining and sometimes down-right sad.

Our family has gone from sitting in our first 800 square foot home, with a computer hooked up to a phone line and an AOL disk received in the wireless and handheld SmartPhones, able to download documents anywhere and databases that includes thousands of names and contacts with a key-stroke.

Easier? No. We sit here today and have no idea where the market truly is because of a false-floor placed on real estate. At least 10 years ago, the buyers and sellers drove the market and the supply and demand, not bureaucrats in DC. Until fewer regulations and requirements are placed on real estate and lending, rather than more and the market settles because of a good dose of old fashioned common sense, then we will continue to speculate on what the next 10 years will look like. Locally, we are in good shape and for that I am grateful, but our market is affected by those trying to sell in other areas and true recovery can't happen until the job market stabilizes and the private sector adds and innovates. And until then, our industry will have to be innovative to not only survive but find a way to thrive in this period of ambiguity.