Essential Real Estate Terms You Should Know

Essential Real Estate Terms You Should Know

puzzle being put together

Every industry has its own acronym and real estate is no different. Real estate is full of jargon that can add confusion to an already elusive process. Whether you're selling or buying here are the essential real estate terms you should know.

Asking questions should not be intimidating. Would it help you to know that you’re not alone? Real estate is intimidating and overwhelming for most people. My goal is to make it as simple for you to navigate as possible. Let's dive in:

1) Pending

Once a residential buyer and seller have reached a mutual agreement on the terms of a sale, the property will then be moved from “Active” to “Pending” or “Pending Inspection”. The contract timelines are very important. 

2) Earnest Money (EM)

Once a buyer and seller have reached a mutual agreement on a contract, the buyer will then deposit a set amount into an escrow account. This earnest money (EM) shows the seller that the potential buyer is EARNEST about buying the property. When the property closes, the EM is then put towards the buyer’s down payment or returned.

3) Escrow

Escrow is a term that refers to a third party that is hired to handle the transaction, the exchange of money and any related documents. Placing Earnest Money, for example, into escrow means to place it in the hands of a third party until certain conditions are met; once the transaction has closed the escrow company will disburse the funds appropriately. 

4) Appraisal

An appraisal is an assessment done by a certified appraiser to determine the value of the property. The appraisal is usually based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby. 

5) Dual Agency

Dual Agency is when one agent represents both the buyer and the seller, instead of just one or the other. Depending on state laws, real estate agents are able to represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. There are some states that do not allow dual agency.

6) Bank Owned & Short Sale

When a property owner defaults on their mortgage, the lender will sometimes allow the seller to sell as a short sale. That means that the bank has agreed to let the home be sold for less than the balance on the current owner’s loan. A bank-owned property is when a  lender won’t agree to sell the property for less than what is currently owed on it, so the property has been foreclosed on and is now “Bank Owned.”

7) Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

A CMA is an analytic report to help real estate agents strategize what the hyper-local market is doing in order to determine your property value. The analysis is conducted based on the active, pending, and sold values of similar properties in the same area within a specific time frame. The CMA report should help you in understanding what a realistic listing price is, and whether or not you’re buying a property for the right price.

8) Commission

Real Estate agents are paid on commission. This is an agreed-upon % of the sale price which is then divided between the selling and listing agent, it is typically 6%. Once a transaction closes, the seller will pay the originally agreed-upon percentage of the purchase price from the net proceeds of the sale. In Washington State, the seller pays 100% of the real estate commissions.

9) Equity

A property owner’s Equity is the difference between the fair market value of the property and the amount still owed on its mortgage or other liens. It is common for people to borrow against their equity to do property improvements. 

10) Encumbrance

An encumbrance is a claim against, limitation on, or liability against real property. Encumbrances can restrict the owner’s ability to transfer title to the property or lessen its value. Having an awkward conversation is worth it, guys.

Helping you understand real estate lingo is one of my favorite topics because it is SO important. If you have any Real Estate questions or pain points in your Real Estate journey, I would love to break it down into bite-sized pieces and serve you up a hot plate of awesome.

Leave a comment with any other terms or resources that you would find helpful!

All the best,

Carmen Neal Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind

How to buy or sell real estate without losing your mind

How to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind

Child with cape holding umbrella to shield themself from rain

Selling or buying real estate can come with a lot of headaches. Those headaches can quickly turn into a real migraine once you start thinking about the laundry list of “To-Do’s”. I’m dedicated to guiding you through how to sell or buy real estate without losing your mind.

It IS a lot of work to get top dollar when selling. Knowing where to start can be super overwhelming if you don't do this every day... But we do. The truth is that overwhelm does not need to be apart of the process. I want to completely eliminate the overwhelm and frustration of selling your property and/or buying your new home. Let’s create a plan that will help you save thousands of dollars and eliminate the headache of reaching your goal.

Three steps to eliminating overwhelm: 

1- Analyze your goals

2- Create a custom strategy

3- Execute and see results

Analyze your goals

No one knows your circumstances better than you. What is it that you want? Ideally, where will you be once this transaction is done? Why are you wanting to make this move? How will you know which property is THE property? The general market affects the value of your real estate investment and your specific goals should be taken into consideration too. 

Understanding and writing down your needs and wants is the best way to assure you stay on track. There are a lot of questions to ask when selling and buying a new home so knowing how to filter through the questions to find which will actually move the needle is important.

Honestly assess your answers to these questions and use your answers to create a clear path forward in Step 2. If it’s difficult for you to answer those questions then I would suggest speaking to a licensed agent that you trust. 

Create a custom strategy

Once you know what your overall goals are, how will you get there? What is your next action item? First and foremost, find a real estate professional you can trust to guide. A custom timeline that is created around your specific goals will give you the leverage to get what you want, where you want, and for the price you want. Here are some key prompts to creating your strategy:

Execute and see results

After you have your strategy, this is where it gets real. Your agent will use the road map you designed in Step 2 to start curating properties to present to you. Once you have chosen a property on which to make an offer, your agent should go to bat for you to get you the home. Once an offer is accepted, they will walk with you through the paperwork.

Your real estate agent should be your advocate so working with someone you trust who can help guide you is so important. 

All the best,

Carmen Neal Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

How Time Works In Real Estate

Real Estate time

How Time Works In Real Estate

real estate time

Misunderstanding how time works in real estate can cost BIG! 

One hour late and you could lose your earnest money AND the property. How time works during a real estate transaction is different than how time works in our day to day lives so I’m breaking it down in bite-sized pieces and a fun pop-quiz. 

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned seller, you’ll want to know how time works in a real estate transaction, including facts such as: 

  • Any period of time starts on the day following the event commencing the period.
  • Time periods of 5 days or less do not include weekends or legal holidays.
  • Time periods of more than 5 days include weekends and legal holidays.
  • Time periods end at 9:00 pm on the last day of the specified period.
  • If the last day of the time period is on a weekend or a legal holiday, it moves to the next day that is not a weekend or legal holiday.
  • Time periods are not delayed by a missing legal description; time periods begin from the date of mutual acceptance.

Since we all love a good story, let’s look at how these rules apply to our friends John & Jane’s homebuying experience. 

On Friday, January 3rd, John, and Jane submitted an offer on their dream home. It was accepted the same day! Their timeline was tight since they only had 5 days to conduct their inspection, so they were eager to get started. The inspection was done on Thursday the 11th and we gave our response back to the seller on Friday the 12th.

Using the rules listed above see if you can answer these three questions: 

  1. When was day one of the time period? 
  2. Did John and Jane give their inspection response to the seller within the allotted time period?
  3. When was the latest time and day they could have given their response back to the seller?

How did you do?

 

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

House Staging 101

House Staging Advice from a Pro

House Staging 101

A clean, uncluttered home is the foundation of house staging.

What do you think of when you hear the term "house staging"? A lot of us immediately imagine HGTV episodes and Instagram feeds filled with perfect spaces. Living rooms with just the right amount of lighting and uncluttered but cozy couches. Picture perfect kitchens with the latest designer trends on point. And then we look up from our screens to the spaces we're looking to sell or rent out, and...well, most of us don't have a house fresh out of Joanna Gaines' portfolio, do we?

But guess what—we don't have to! Right now, here in the local Fife/Milton/Edgewood market, you do not have to take on huge, expensive projects to stage your house to attract a buyer or tenant. Nor do you need to hire someone to bring in all new furniture (although you may need to move some out....). Read on for my tried-and-true 5 steps to house staging to help you sell your property or find the perfect tenant.

Staging Step #1: Draw attention to your property's best feature.

Every property has a diamond in the rough. Find it and make it stand out. Maybe it's gorgeous original hardwood flooring. Make it shine and arrange furniture and rugs to draw the eye to it. Perhaps it's a spacious kitchen with counter and cabinet space for days! Clear the clutter, and use pops of color to pull lookers into the space and make them remember it. Whatever your home's best feature, work it. 

Staging Step #2: Start packing immediately.

At the end of the day your goal is to invite people in. You want them to visualize themselves in the space.  If the space is jam-packed with your stuff, they won't be able to do that. 

Focus on creating white space. Remove personal items such as family photos, as well as collections of trinkets and doodads. Consider how much furniture is appropriate for a room, and remove something if there is too much for the space. Clear kitchen and bathroom counters, and create empty space in cabinets and closets. Less is better, I promise. And you’re going to need to pack anyway, so why not start before the pictures?

Staging Step #3: Maximize the use of lighting.

Let me shed some light on the facts (see what I did there?): Lighting sets the tone for how we perceive a space, so make it the right tone.

Natural light is king. For daytime showings, open up the shades and curtains in every room. Also make sure windows are clean as a whistle inside and out. The goal is to have no filtering of available daylight, to make the space feel as open as possible. And also to keep house hunters focused on the inside of the room, not the grime on the windows.

In terms of artificial light, in almost all cases white toned bulbs are preferred. Even in a small, windowless space, the right tone of light can change the feel of the area. If a room does not have an overhead light, or even if it does, add a tall lamp in a corner. Also make sure side and sofa tables throughout the house have appropriately-sized lamps, as well. Again, stick with white tones for the bulbs, but use lampshades smartly to reduce harshness and up the coziness factor in living rooms and bedrooms.

For evening showings, turn off your inner penny-pincher, and turn on all of the lights—interior and exterior—before you leave. Even if it's dark outside, you want the property to shine!

Staging Step #4: Manage smells.

I once walked into an inspection for a rental property in Edgewood, and an offensive smell hit me square in the face like a fly baseball. My eyes were watering, it was so bad. The unit was vacant, and it had been freshly painted, but it smelled like warm garbage had been fermenting for days. Since the smell was not there when we had originally viewed the unit I was determined to figure it out. Once the inspector opened up the crawl space we knew right away—there were some dead rodents. Yuck. So gross.

Clean. 

Just think clean, clean, clean. You simply want the place to smell clean. That means that your focus should be on removing sources of smells first and foremost, not just masking it.

Get rid of smelly furniture. Deodorize sink drains with baking soda and vinegar, and run some lemon peels through your disposal if you have one. Clean the fridge and take out the garbage every day, and especially when a showing is scheduled. Have the carpets and rugs professionally cleaned. And for sure make sure there aren't any animal carcasses in the crawl space!

In terms of adding pleasant scents, don't overdo it. This is not the time to run a diffuser or plug-in in every room. Less is more. I’m all for some lavender or citrus hibiscus but go as neutral as possible. You’re not trying to accommodate yourself. You're trying to reach the broadest audience possible.

That means that white linen, summer cotton, or straight-up bleach is the winner every time. Clean and fresh is the goal.

Oh, and that old trick of baking bread or cookies right before a showing? If you have the time to do it and clean up properly afterward, I have never met someone who disliked the smell of freshly baked goodies!

Staging Step #5: Play up accessories.

When house staging, it's bad business to spend money that won’t necessarily get you a strong return. If you’re planning on selling or renting your property out then maybe pass on the HGTV-style remodeling. Instead, find some cost-effective accessories to get the most bang for your buck. The idea here is to frame the room. Imagine you are telling a story in each room. Make your viewer want to join the house on its story.

Some effective and inexpensive ways to stage a house using accessories:

  • Place fresh hand towels in the bathrooms.
  • Add pops of color to the living room or bedroom with a few throw pillows or books with spines that color-coordinate with the space.
  • Create a cozy reading nook with an accent chair and side table. Don't forget the lamp, and perhaps some flowers or a little plant. 
  • Place potted plants and herbs at the entrance and around the patio.
  • Highlight your beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoor space with stringed lights around the patio, and add solar spotlights along exterior paths.

Every property is different just like every person is different. This list was created for very low level staging. 

If you are working with a more complex situation, like helping a senior citizen in your life downsize their stuff, then know that you are in good company. In that situation, I would encourage you to find an intermediary to help sort through the details of their situation. 

Regardless of your particular situation, you likely want a stress free real estate transaction. Sorting out the stuff BEFORE you're forced to is a tip I can hang my hat on. 

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Confessions of a Real Estate Agent

Confessions of a Real Estate Agent

Confessions of a Real Estate Agent

Confessions of a Real Estate Agent

Confessions of a real estate agent: this industry is complicated, energy sucking, and emotional. But when boiled down and distilled to its core, my job is to serve. Thankfully, I learned from my parents at a very young age that my job as a real estate broker is to listen, guide, and support my clients.

Here are three truths about any trustworthy real estate agent:

Confession #1: We’re straightforward because we care.

Blunt, curt, and straightforward are some of the labels I’ve been given over the years, and I’ve learned to take all of these as compliments! Here are some of the hard truths I’ve had to speak with clients about: 

  • The smell is a problem. 
  • Restricting showings to only 6 p.m. and later will probably double the days on market. 
  • The price is too high.
  • It's not the lighting in the picture. Navy blue carpets do clash with purple walls.

A good agent will tell you the truth about your property. Always. We will do it as gently and professionally as possible, but we will not lie to you to get a listing. It's not in your best interest or in ours. We care about you. So we'll speak truth.

Confession #2: It's your journey, we’re just invited to ride along.

As much as we do care, we cannot care more about your situation than you do. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. My job is to help you see what matters to you, and come along side you to make it happen. But you steer the ship.

Every person and every transaction has its special circumstances, so I strive to pull those out, name them, and put them on a timeline. Some common needs are a fast sale, a certain amount of money, or to be nurtured towards a real estate goal for years. No matter the circumstance, my job is to partner with you and ride along through the process to make it as smooth of a journey as possible.

Confession #3: Every day is a constant reviewing of priorities.

Missed family dinners, missed birthday parties, and long weekends. Tethered to a cell phone, working late evenings, and up for early morning emails, calls, and paperwork. All of these are a normal part of my life. I’ve stood outside countless events on the phone with a client while my husband manages our life so that my service and your outcome comes to fruition. And I don't regret it for an instant. I love my family. I love my work. The two are not mutually exclusive. It does mean that I am constantly assessing my priorities on a daily--sometimes--hourly basis. So if you see me kissing my kids as I shuffle them onto the ball field while negotiating on the phone with another agent to come to agreement on a sale, know that I am living my best life. 

I choose this Every. Single. Day.

I choose to embrace my straight forward personality.

I choose to join people on their roller coasters to make it as smooth of a ride as possible.

I choose to show my kids that their mom loves her job and serves people.

Every day.

How can I serve you in your real estate journey?

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Social Distancing and Real Estate

guidelines for social distancing and real estate

Social Distancing & Real Estate

Note: this information about social distancing and real estate in Washington State is based upon current guidelines as of May 8, 2020 as provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Washington State Department of Health, Washington State's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order" and related memos/orders, and the Northwest Multiple Listing Services. As the situation surrounding the pandemic changes quickly, please listen to state and local authorities for the most up-to-date information that may expand or reduce limitations for conducting real estate transactions. This post does not constitute legal or medical advice. If you need either, please contact an appropriate licensed professional. 

I think it's safe to assume that you have heard the phrase "social distancing" by now. But something you might need to know more about is how buyers, sellers, and agents are navigating their way through social distancing and real estate transactions. Well, you're in the right place. Let's get to it!

But first...

What is Social Distancing?

In case you've been living off the grid, and you're not sure what social distancing is, here's a basic primer:

According to the CDC, when outside of our homes we need to keep space between ourselves and others. When we have to be out, some of the most common practices are to stay at least six feet from other people, and avoid gathering in groups. 

In addition to minimizing in-person interactions, we are also encouraged to wash our hands frequently, not touch our faces, use face masks when out of the house, and disinfect hard surfaces frequently to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

So, how do we do all of that and still get properties bought and sold? Here are some best practices.

Social Distancing & Sellers

The good news is that licensed real estate agents like us are still allowed to show your property in-person. But we can do so only by appointment, and no more than two people can be onsite at a time, including the broker.

Obviously, that makes things a little cumbersome for couples and families to see a place together. This means that it is more important than ever to capture flattering photos of your property, and to post walk-through videos and 3D virtual tours online. Make those first (and maybe only) online impressions count!

For properties that are owner-occupied, we can utilize the multiple listing services scheduling program, ShowingTime. The goal of using ShowingTime is to avoid scheduling multiple showings at the same property at the same time. 

Other best practices for sellers to follow:

  • Disinfect all surfaces when you leave the property before each showing, and again when you return.
  • Make it easy for you to clean as you go by placing cleaning supplies around the property.
  • Finally, place hand sanitizer at the entry for house-hunters and showing agents to use on their way in and out.
  • If you or someone in your household is ill, please let us know so showings can be rescheduled.

Social Distancing & Buyers

Although in-person showings of no more than two people (including the broker) are permitted, we are strongly encouraged to share virtual tours of properties first. Additionally, the use of video calls during the showing is a great way to share the experience in real-time with others who cannot attend due to the two-person limit.

All in-person activities must be by appointment only, and the two people meeting must strictly follow social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

When viewing a home we need to touch as few surfaces as possible, use hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings, and always stay at least six feet apart. Finally, if you are not feeling well, please reschedule the showing or rely upon the virtual resources to make choices regarding your real estate purchase. 

Social Distancing & Closing

Title and escrow companies provide settlement services that support financial services and banking, so they are deemed essential under the Governor's orders. Although some title and escrow branch facilities may have modified their hours or closed, for the time being they are still able to offer remote online services.

One silver lining to all of this is that we have so many tools and resources to handle almost every single transaction detail remotely now. If this were happening 30-40 years ago it would have been completely different. I think we'd be hoarding fax machine toner instead of toilet paper! (Kidding...please don't hoard toilet paper...or anything else...).

 

For further information, here are some links to the referenced agencies and decision makers:

If you have specific questions about health concerns related to COVID-19, you should consult with a health professional.

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Curb Appeal that Sells

Curb appeal that sells is the best first impression you can make when listing your home.

Curb Appeal that Sells

Nailing curb appeal that sells is ciritical in attracting buyers to your home.

Not all curb appeal is created equal. Curb appeal is the impression someone gets when they are on the curb and looking at your property, and curb appeal that sells is very important.

Although HGTV has opened the eyes of future homeowners to the possibility of a diamond in the ruff, as a seller you will want to appeal directly toward your target demographic in order to get the highest return on investment. The number of tips and tricks to getting your house ready to sell can be overwhelming, so we’ve created this simple guide to help you focus your efforts on the items that will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Catch Their Eye

First things first: put on your buyer's hat. For the next few moments, you are no longer the homeowner. If you want to sell, you need to think like a buyer!

Now, mosey across the street and look back at your property. What is the first thing your eye is drawn to? 

Is the mailbox falling off its post? 

Do you have a beautiful front door? 

Or how about the furniture and plants, how are those looking? 

The goal here is to highlight the good and touch up the bad. If nothing stands out to you in a good way, then make something stand out! Even just a simple flower pot with a pop of color will draw the eye and make people want to see more. 

Create Symmetry

Symmetry is an age-old design trick that is the simplest way to create something appealing. If you have something on one side of your door I’d encourage you to consider duplicating it on the other side.

In the sample photograph notice the hedges lining both sides of the stairs. This creates balance and draws buyers toward your door. At my own house, I have two big black pots on either side of my teal front door. I change our the flowers every year. One year, I even put beautiful chocolate tomatoes. It was beautiful AND delicious!

Windows, Fixtures, and Doorways 

It can be easy to pass through our days unaware that one of three light bulbs is out, or that the leaves have gathered in that corner again. My big oversight is spider webs. Josh, my husband, has walked through two spider webs in doorways over the past week. So guess what we’re doing this weekend...that’s right, we’re taking a broom to all of the outdoor areas. Getting the windows, fixtures, and doorways dusted off and wiped down won’t cost us a penny but it makes a big impact on curb appeal. A clean home, inside and out, is the fastest way to get curb appeal that sells.

Declutter

Depending on how much room you have, a good rule of thumb is to think “Less is more” at your entry way. Planters and seasonal décor are cute, but no one enjoys an abundance laying around the front porch.

My assistant is constantly battling with her family not to use their lovely, covered front porch as a storage for bikes and such. If this is your family’s habit, too, clear it out. Then set the boundary that while the house is on the market everyone is expected to have a place for everything, and everything in its place.

 

Increasing your curb appeal is not only for you to draw buyers in for a look. It also allows you to enjoy your property more when you are there. It increases the entire feel of the home and property. Simple and clean is typically the most appealing and attractive to any eye.

Do these simple tasks to give your home curb appeal that sells, and get your beautiful home noticed for the gem it truly is. Want some more inspiration? Check out this fun post with lots of DIY ideas to give your home's exterior that extra pop.

Sometimes a first impression is all you’ll get, so make it count!

All the best,

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram if you don't already. Don't miss out on the tips, tricks, and sometimes just plain funny items I share on social media!

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

What Home Buyers Want

What Home Buyers Want is Clean and Move-In Ready Property

What Home Buyers Want

What homebuyers want is a clean and move-in ready house

It was a sunny Saturday morning in August 2007, and I was house hunting with some friends when I really realized what home buyers want in their new homes. If you're thinking of selling your existing home, read on, because I think this story might surprise you.

The Viewing

We had spent most of the morning looking at properties when we pulled up to our last property before lunch. It was a fully renovated 1990’s home in Fife, and I just knew they would love it. 

The outside was a deep green, there was rockery all around the landscape, and the door was a warm rust red. There was freshly laid bark, and the lawn must have just been cut because we could smell the grass clippings right when we got out of the car. It was the picture of inviting curb appeal.

The inside was just as great. We walked in and everything was brand new. New oak floors with matching trim, cabinets, and the list just went on from there. 

I could see my friend was excited, and I was pretty sure that I'd just found them their new house.

The Choosing

After that showing, we went to lunch to discuss next actions. We first reviewed their top 5 needs and wants. But I didn't think we'd really need that list, because I was pretty sure that they wanted that freshly remodeled home that oozed curb appeal. To be sure, though, we flipped through the houses that we had seen.

There were some great contenders, but I would have bet money on that remodeled home. And I would have lost.

To my surprise they quickly passed on the remodel! Instead, they went with another house that was less polished but was a great value. At the time I was really taken off guard because come on, who doesn't want a remodeled house!? I was shocked! Wasn't I supposed to know what home buyers want?

The Reasoning

It turned out that although they loved the shiny remodeled home, they were very nervous about the big price tag that went along with the beautiful upgrades. I asked more questions, and it turned out that they didn’t really like the brand new oak cabinets. Plus, it had only 2 of their top 5 needs and wants. The brand new floor, as beautiful as it was, was also a problem for them because they wanted carpet. 

I asked my friend why her reaction had been so positive when we had toured the house, despite it not really meeting their needs. She said that she was taken in not just by all of the new finishes, but really by how clean and move-in ready the house was. She knew that those two factors meant that they could move in right away.

At the end of the day, they choose to go with another clean and move-in ready property. It wasn't completely remodeled, but it did have 4 of their 5 needs and wants. They lived happily in that home for about 7 years. 

The Lesson

I have seen this situation happen over and over in the years since that day. I have concluded that willing and able buyers who are approved to pay fair market value for your property want two things: 

  1. CLEAN
  2. MOVE-IN READY

Notice that I didn't say freshly remodeled with a brand new kitchen and all new flooring. Nope. Most buyers will take "used" as long as it is clean and move-in ready. Of course, you can remodel your property and list it for a higher price…but what will your net return be? Will the headache of renovating be worth the return on investment? 

Generally, the answers to those two questions will be 1. not enough, and 2. no.

If a buyer wants brand new, they'll buy new construction. If they're looking at existing places, though, chances are they are willing and ready to take on some of the hassle to give the place a face lift after they purchase. Honestly, a lot of buyers prefer that. They can pick out the finishes and personalize the home for themselves. That's often part of the fun of buying an existing house!

So my advice to sellers is this: give your property a thorough cleaning and make sure that it is move-in ready. Do this and you'll be posed for a quick sale because you will be offering exactly what home buyers want.

Remember: move-in ready doesn't mean remodeled. It means completely functional and free of major defects. So yes, fix that broken drawer in the kitchen or replace that broken window pane in the bedroom. But don't buy into the myth that you have to gut the place.

As far as cleaning, I love a good checklist! Don't you?! Here is a simple cleaning checklist that should help you whether you're planning on selling next month, or next year. 

Oh, and don't forget to give me a call, too. I can give you an idea of how to prep your property to be listed. Work smarter, not harder! Before you do the heavy lifting, let me help you lighten your load! After years and years of doing this, I do know what home buyers want, and I can help you offer it to them.

All the best,

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Ultimate Mover’s Checklist

Mom plus baby equals growing family, and maybe a need for The Ultimate Mover’s Checklist

The Ultimate Mover’s Checklist

Mom plus baby equals growing family, and maybe a need for The Ultimate Mover’s Checklist

We've all been there before. Overwhelmed by all the Things. Maybe it's a tackling a big project at work, prepping for your partner's 40th surprise birthday party, or planning to help your parent's downsize from their long-term home. Maybe it's all of those at once! So what do we turn to when we need to make sure we don't miss a step when everything seems to matter? Checklists.

Checklists are my favorite memory trick.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't consider checklists to be a part of my memory...but I have found that using checklists keeps me on track so much better than relying on myself alone. A well flushed-out checklist for any task is priceless. I can ditch the checklists once the items have become habits, but with growing humans in my house I’m learning that all of us can benefit from a good ol’ fashioned list. 

With Americans moving an average of 11 times throughout their lifetime, I figure a mover's checklist is nice to have around when the time comes.   

You'll notice that my Mover's Checklist includes instructions on how to use my Listing Care Package. If you are selling your current place while prepping for your next move, this care package is an absolute must for you. Contact me today to get one in your hands and start you on the path to a stress free sale!

Download your Mover's Checklist here to ensure you have an easy move

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Tablet sitting on table displaying the ultimate sellers checklist

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

All the best,

Renovate or Move

A boy and his grandfather renovate a home

Renovate or Move

"Should we renovate or move?" It's a common question. This time of year can get us all thinking about if our current space fits our current needs. I’m going to guide you through some myths and best practices of the elusive “renovate or move” question, and help you nail down your next steps. 

Have you ever considered adding a room? Dreamed about changing your floor plan? Maybe think you have too much house for your season of life? No matter your current circumstances the real question you should be asking is: 

“Does this property fit my current needs?”

A renovation might fix the problem, but finding a property that already suits your needs could be more financially responsible. Truth be told, renovations can sometimes cost more (in money and sanity) than finding a new place that already has your Top 5 Needs and Wants.

On the other hand, you may want to stay exactly where you are with some updates for a variety of reasons. Your decision will affect more than just your pocketbook. It will affect your commute, relationships with neighbors, and school district selection, just to name a few, so take the time to think it through before you make a choice!

Common Myths

Renovation Myth: Sticking to the budget will keep the project cost effective.

Fact: The problems happen when you allocate $10 per square foot for tile, but fall in love with tile that's $25 per square. Oh, don’t think it can’t happen to you! Or you budget $10,000 for new kitchen appliances, but then Costco has the higher end appliances on sale, and you think, “Well, I can’t walk away from that deal, so I’ll stretch the budget just a little…”. Or your contractor opens up a wall to make a more open living space only to find the support beam is rotten, and the scope and expense of the project gets a whole lot bigger.

The fact is that a renovation that doesn’t have some unforeseen expenses and stays 100% under-budget is pretty much a unicorn. Set a budget, but plan to go over it by at least 10-15%. 

Selling Myth: I can list my house and just see what happens

Fact: Signing a listing agreement means that you have decided to sell your property. Properly marketing a listing costs anywhere from $200-$800, so being wishy-washy about your plan could cost money, plus hours of frustration and discouragement.

In the current real estate environment it is pretty much a given that a properly marketed property will get at least one reasonable, competitive offer. Once you accept an offer, it is a huge ordeal to back out if you change your mind. So unless you are certain you are ready to sign an acceptance and hand over the keys at escrow, don’t "just see what happens" to your property.

Best Practices

The choice to renovate or move is very personal. No one knows your needs better than you do, so ask yourself the hard questions.  Put pen to paper to clarify what really matters to you.

  • Write down your top 5 needs and wants of a property, in order of priority.
  • Create a detailed list of what would need to be done to make your existing place fit those top 5.
  • Speak with a professional real estate agent about your plans so you have an idea what the return on investment would be for each project. 
  • Get at least 3 bids per renovation project from licensed contractors.
  • Compare monetary and emotional expenses for selling versus renovating.

Now What?

Go back to the basics and ask yourself: “Does this house and property fit my current needs?” If the answer is no (you probably wouldn't have read this far if the answer was clear to you), then what are you doing about it? Will you renovate or move? I challenge you to honestly answer these questions, and fill out the Top 5 worksheet—because after all, you have to live here every day! And it should be servicing your needs.

Check this page out to learn more about what it takes to get your house sold.

All the best,

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

Sellers-Checklist-Mockup-final

7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

Learn which improvements will get you the highest return on your investment.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
253-632-2920