Catch up with deferred maintenance

After the Great Recession, the country’s housing stock deteriorated.  Many financially strapped home owners could not afford the cost of maintaining their home.  Many of those home owners deferred maintenance thinking they would do it when their financial picture got better.  Others abandoned their homes, willing to face foreclosure to have a fresh start.

deferred maintenance
Home quality

As a result, the housing stock deteriorated as time passed. Foreclosed homes deteriorated during the foreclosure process.  And many others decided to sell their deferred maintenance home.  It wasn’t until five to seven years after the recession that “the cost of doing nothing” was realized.

However, the antithesis was the many home owners who opted to update and remodeled their homes in lieu of moving.  The decision to stay and “make do” was primarily because of the depressed home sale market. Many home owners who wanted to move couldn’t because the potential sale price would have been much lower than what the home owner needed to move.  Additionally, there were many who were “under-water,” meaning that their mortgage payoff was higher than what the home was worth at that time.

As the market improved, home sellers realized that their well maintained, renovated/updated homes, sell faster and for more. Real estate agents quickly embraced the idea of renovating prior to putting the home on the market.  The pay off for this strategy was evident in the recent sellers’ market (2020-2022), where well maintained and updated homes garnered a lot of attention, received multiple offers, and launched home sale prices to double digit increases.

Just as remodeling can increase the value of your home, deferring maintenance will decrease your home’s value. Unfortunately, many home owners, and their agents, believe that years of deferred maintenance can be overcome with simple and inexpensive renovations.  The truth is that years of deferred maintenance deteriorates the condition of your home, making it vulnerable to the elements, pests, and time.  Deferring maintenance also makes repairs and updates more costly down the road. 

If your home has deferred maintenance, it’s not too late to catch up.  If there are many projects with which to catch up, prioritize the most important.  You will find that as you catch up with deferred maintenance, your comfort and enjoyment of your home increases.  And if you’re planning a move in near future, keeping up with home maintenance will make your home sale preparation straightforward and easy.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Clean your home

clean your home
Top renovations when selling your home (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

“Clean your home” is one of the most underrated activities when preparing to sell your home.  Although it’s seemingly the easiest thing to do to get a higher price and faster sale, it’s often misunderstood or shrugged off. because there’s so much going on when selling a home.  Besides getting the home ready to list, you’re likely planning a move.  With so much on your mind, it’s easy to put it off. 

A New York Times piece by Tim McKeough (Market Ready; nytimes.com; July 25, 2012) gave advice from a real estate broker and a cleaning professional on properly cleaning before listing a home.  The real estate broker commented on cleaning windows and floors; as well as polishing furniture.  Paramount is the condition of home entry, kitchen and bathrooms.  The entryway is important because it’s the area where the home buyer gets their first impression of the home.  The kitchen and bathrooms get much of the home buyers’ attention, and should also be a focus of a deep cleaning.  It’s advised that the entryway be decluttered, and the kitchen and bathrooms should be “spotless.” 

Attention to detail is important, such as cleaning the oven/range, clean tile grout and a new shower curtain.  Because dirty grout can leave a bad impression with home buyers, consider regrouting.  “Horizontal surfaces” (such as windowsills, picture frames, baseboards, and shelves) should also be a focus of cleaning.  Also, a deep cleaning should focus on areas where cleaning finger prints are found, such as light switches and door knobs.  When showing the home, the sink should be clean and dishes put away, as well as putting away toiletries and making the beds.

When your agent recommends to clean your home, they mean to get a deep cleaning. However, home sellers often misconstrue “deep cleaning” as a routine cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong, cleaning your home anytime is positive.  However, a deep cleaning goes after dirt and grime that has accumulated while you lived in the home.  A deep cleaning includes and goes beyond the basic cleaning.  A deep cleaning typically includes (but isn’t limited to) shampooing rugs and carpets, cleaning grime from oven and range burners, cleaning bathroom grout, cleaning windows, cleaning baseboards and corners, and ceiling fans.  If you have a pet, your deep cleaning should also focus on removing pet hair, dander and lingering odors. 

Most home sellers hire a cleaning service for the “deep clean.”  The Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) offers these tips when hiring a cleaning service: 1) Research the company. Ask friends, family members, and neighbors for recommendations.  Interview at least three companies.  Check if the company has complaints.  2) When interviewing the service, ask to also meet with someone who will be doing the cleaning to understand their process.  Also ask what cleaning products are used, especially if anyone in the home has sensitivities and allergies.  3) Most important – check credentials. Check if their operating license is in good standing.  Ask for proof of their bond and insurance.  Request or conduct your own background check.  4) Ask for and contact past client references.  5) When talking about the cost, consider the time that will needed for the cleaning.  Make sure that the service includes everything that you need to be cleaned.  A home walkthrough is recommended to provide a service estimate.  Although it’s typical to be attracted to the least expensive service, it may not be the best value.  6) When you decide on the service, get it in writing and make sure it’s specific as to what the service will do and the time they will be in your home. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2021

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

How to Market a Home Sale

Some homes seem to sell themselves while others need help.  If your home needs help, understand that effective use of marketing tools can increase your home’s appeal, as well as communicate your home’s value to sell it faster and for more money.  Home sale marketing tools have been used ever since real estate brokerage began.  Although marketing tools come and go, some have stood the test of time.  So you might be wondering how to market a home sale…

How to market a home sale according to a Realtor

how to market a home sale
Housing market supply and demand (infographic from keepingcurrentmatters,com)

If you ask your Realtor how to market a home sale, they may tell you about open houses, print ads, and the internet.

Probably one of the most effective marketing tools an agent has is the open house.  Unfortunately, the open house is under-used, as well as often misused for the agent’s personal gain.  Although the open house routine has changed, brokers have been holding open houses for over one-hundred years.  The open house is the ideal time to communicate directly with home buyers and their agents about your home’s appeal and value.  Try to avoid the use of open house gimmicks (such as cook-outs and carnivals) because they detract from the home sale message.  Furthermore, make sure your agent is focused on selling your home during the open house, instead of focusing on signing-up new clients.

Although not as prevalent today, print advertising was a home marketing staple for over a century.  Today, the majority of home buyers search for homes online, so it’s not likely that a print ad will have a wide audience.  However, agents will uses post cards and door hangers to announce their new listing. Nonetheless, print advertising is still used to market niche homes and agent self-promotion. 

You might be wondering how to market a home sale online? Internet and digital marketing is the most widely used form of advertising today.  Internet marketing is easy because the MLS syndicates your home listing across numerous websites automatically!  Although the syndication is automatic, your agent still needs to check how the listing appears.  If the listing has incorrect information, it needs to be fixed or can hamper results. 

There are a variety of other internet advertising opportunities, including a dedicated webpage, pay-per-click, and video.  However, results, if any, may be limited if not used effectively. 

One of the most important marketing tools to relay your home’s appeal and value is the camera.  Technological advances in MLS feeds and digital photography now allow home buyers to see many pictures of your home and its surroundings in crystal clear clarity.  However, don’t solely rely on new photo technologies for virtual tours, as the viewing ability may be limited.

Virtual reality (VR) is a cutting-edge tech being touted for virtual tours.  Let alone that most home buyers don’t own a VR device, many buyers are likely to search homes when wearing a VR device is not appropriate, such as at work or on the metro.  Even though VR marketing sounds cool, it’s reach is still very limited.

Although VR is yet to be an effective tool, augmented reality such as 3D virtual tours are coming of age.  Although there are still limitations, updated internet browsers, broadband, and new 5G allow home buyers to view your home as a 3D model.

The basics.

Regardless of what real estate agents will tell you, the best marketing tools for your home are the list price, your home’s condition, and its location.  However, a high list price, poor condition and/or location can be helped by your agent’s marketing tools.  Effective marketing tools can also help increase your home’s appeal and communicate the home’s value.  But ultimately, the nitty-gritty of selling your home depends on your agent’s savvy, ability to facilitate an offer, and negotiate a price.

Original article is published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/10/15/how-to-market-a-home-sale/

By Dan Krell
Copyright© 2019

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Take it or leave it

take it or leave it
Home staging (infographic from nar.realtor)

If you’re listing your home for sale with a Realtor, you will likely encounter a one-page disclosure that’s important yet often neglected.  The purpose of the “Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure and Addendum” is to communicate with the home buyer what conveys with house and what you intend to take.  This helps you decide to “take it or leave it.” If completed as intended, the disclosure can help you avoid a dispute with the buyer after closing. 

It’s understandable that, after completing a stack of listing documents and disclosures, home sellers want to quickly check the boxes of the obvious items that convey with the sale.  However, in their haste, many sellers overlook or forget about the fixtures they intend to take it or leave it when they move.  Common items that home sellers take include the chandelier (and other lighting fixtures), bathroom mirrors, brand new washer/dryer, or the extra freezer. 

The up-to-date GCAAR Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure and Addendum helps you decide what fixtures and personal property convey.  The first paragraph states: “The Property includes the following personal property and fixtures, if existing: built-in heating and central air conditioning equipment, plumbing and lighting fixtures, sump pump, attic and exhaust fans, storm windows, storm doors, screens, installed wall-to-wall carpeting, window shades, blinds, window treatment hardware, mounting brackets for electronics components, smoke and heat detectors, TV antennas, exterior trees and shrubs. Unless otherwise agreed to herein, all surface or wall mounted electronic components/devices do not convey…

You’ll notice that the disclosure specifically mentions wall mounted electronics and mounting brackets.  This wording was added because new norms emerged with new technologies that created disputes about what was considered “permanently” attached.  As wall mounted TV’s became commonplace, home buyers expected plasma TV’s to convey and unsightly wall mounts to be removed. 

A more recent technology incorporated into a home that has become commonplace is the solar panel.  Do they convey or not?  Many home owners who install solar panels don’t actually own them, they are leased.  Of course, confusion and disputes regarding solar panels have occurred, and are now listed in the Lease Items and Service Contracts section. To help clarify what leased items convey and transfer, the Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure states: “Leased items/systems or service contracts, including but not limited to: solar panels & systems, appliances, fuel tanks, water treatment systems, lawn contracts, security system and/or monitoring, and satellite contracts do not convey unless disclosed here…”

It’s not uncommon for a dispute to arise at the walkthrough because the home seller decides to take a fixture or appliance that is not listed as an exclusion.  Regardless whether the seller misunderstood or had a last-minute change of heart, the home buyer may be demanding the return of the item(s).  And since the Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure and Addendum is part of the contract, the buyer may have recourse.

Take it or leave it?

If you’re selling your home, deciding to “take it or leave it” may be the last on your mind. But take the time to read and complete the disclosures carefully.  When completing the Inclusions/Exclusions Disclosure don’t be afraid to over communicate your intentions about taking or leaving fixtures and appliances.  Make sure you list items you will take as “Exclusions.”  It also helps to tag these items indicating “Does Not Convey,” so home buyers are on notice when they visit.   Also, don’t forget to identify older appliances or fixtures that are staying, so the buyer doesn’t assume you are removing them.  And of course, ask your agent for assistance if you’re unsure if specific items are fixtures and should be listed in the disclosure.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2019

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/07/29/take-it-or-leave-it/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Creating home staging vision

home staging vision
Creating home staging vision (infographic from nar.realtor)

Although home staging has become entrenched in the home sale process, it doesn’t have to be a pricey way to prepare your home sale. Not only has it become part of the home seller experience, the home staging vision is now expected by buyers and their agents when they visit homes. 

The spring home sale season is the perfect time for the National Association of Realtors to roll out the results of their 2019 Profile of Home Staging survey (nar.realtor).  In a March 14th press release, NAR President John Smaby summed up this year’s profile by stating, “Realtors understand the importance of making a residential property as welcoming and appealing as possible to potential buyers. While every Realtor doesn’t use staging in every situation, the potential value it brings is clear to both homebuyers and sellers.” 

Staging may affect a home’s time on market, and it’s likely due to visual cues.  Meaning that home staging vision helps the home buyer picture themselves living in the home. More than half of the agents who responded to the survey indicated that home staging reduces time on market.  Forty percent of buyer agents said that home staging effects most buyers’ perceptions of a home.  Eighty-three percent of buyer agents believe that home staging vision makes it easier to visualize living in the home.

It’s not surprising that agents agree that the most staging attention goes to the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and the dining room.  It’s not that these rooms have special significance, but rather it’s because it’s where people spend most of their time in the home.

The NAR survey also found that real estate TV shows has impacted home buyers’ views and expectations.  Thirty-nine percent of buyers indicated that they experienced a more difficult home buying process than what they expected.  Twenty percent of buyers reported being disappointed that homes they visited didn’t look like the ones portrayed on TV.  While ten percent believe that homes should look staged as they are depicted in TV shows. 

Not all agents stage the homes they list for sale.  Only twenty-eight percent of listing agents said they staged all sellers’ homes prior to listing them for sale.  Compared to the thirteen percent of agents who confessed that they only stage homes that they deem difficult to sell.

Does home staging affect sale price?  It was noted that all agents surveyed indicated that home staging affected their home sale positively.  Twenty-two percent of the agents reported an increase of up to five percent in buyers’ offers, while seventeen percent reported offer increases up to ten percent. Only two percent of the agents responded that it increased offers up to twenty percent.

But the idea of staging your home to get top dollar may just be traditional wisdom, as evidenced by NAR’s survey.  One of the few studies on staging revealed that indeed, staging does not have a significant impact on sale price.  Lane, Seiler & Seiler’s 2015 study (The Impact of Staging Conditions on Residential Real Estate Demand. Journal of Housing Research, 24,1. 21-35) concluded that although staging affects the home buying process and the buyer’s opinion and perception of livability, it’s not enough to result in a higher sales price.  The authors stated, “These results stand in stark contrast to the conscious (stated) opinion of both buyers and real estate agents that staging conditions significantly impact willingness to pay for a home. As such, the findings are new and useful to a large group of stakeholders (sellers and agents).”

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2019/03/21/creating-home-staging-vision/

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2019.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.