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Make Your Home Stand Out to Buyers: 10 Tips to Prep Your Home for Sale

By Doug Evans

Even though selling a home can be a stressful undertaking, why not give it every chance to “wow” potential buyers?  Securing the right offer is not always easy, but here are 10 tips to impress potential buyers and maximize the possibility of obtaining the best price:

  1.      Focus on Curb Appeal: When you meet someone for the first time, you always want to make a good first impression and the “curb appeal” of your home is no different when it comes to impressing buyers.  When the curb appeal is strong, people will want to see what is inside – and that is your goal – to get buyers inside.  Mow and water the lawn, prune the bushes so no windows are hidden, trim the trees, weed the garden beds, and plant some colorful flowers in pots or window boxes.
  2.      Clean the outside:  Make sure to clean the gutters, pressure wash the exterior, properly store bicycles, gardening equipment, and children’s toys.  In addition, be sure the front door has a welcome feeling. A fresh coat of paint on the front door works wonders for a good first impression.  Add a new welcome mat for the finishing touch!
  3.      Make Necessary Repairs: Homebuyers will automatically expect all features in a home to operate safely and efficiently. If a buyer notices any problems, they may question whether the home has been cared for.  Take care of major issues like faulty or outdated electrical outlets and wiring, broken windows, furnaces and water heaters, along with leaking roofs and other plumbing concerns prior to putting a house on the market.
  4.      Remove Clutter: Virtually all homebuyers are on the lookout for one thing – a spacious home. Homebuyers tend to show less interest in an untidy, cluttered home.  In addition, an untidy home tends to fetch a lower selling price.  Consider renting a storage unit for extra furniture to create more open space in rooms.
  5.      Organize Closets and Drawers:  Avoid overflowing closets and drawers which indicate there is not enough storage space in the home.
  6.      Depersonalize:  Displaying too many family collectibles and photos can be distracting to buyers.  If you have young children or pets, consider buying bins that you can quickly toss toys into (and other items that are laying about).  Place them in the garage or attic before open houses or when a real estate sales professional calls to bring by a potential buyer!
  7.      Make Your Home Sparkle:  This may seem obvious, but clean your home until it shines – every surface should be clean, from the floors to ceiling fans and hard-to-reach light fixtures.  The two most important rooms in a buyer’s mind are the kitchen and bathrooms. Make certain these rooms are sparkling clean and in good condition.
  8.      Eliminate Odors: Make sure to take out the trash, remove litter boxes, and empty ashtrays. Also, be certain to bathe pets and clean drapes. It is important to ensure that the home smells nicely.   Fresh flowers, room fresheners and freshly baked cookies also work wonders in creating a pleasant-smelling environment.
  9.      Repaint Brightly Colored Rooms:  Repaint walls with neutral paint colors that will appeal to a wider range of buyers.  And, lighter colored walls will make a room seem larger!
  10.     Work with your Sales Associate:  Being objective is hard.  So, utilize your real estate sales professional to gain an even-handed appraisal of what improvements can and should be made. Sales associates have the experience and knowledge to help identify potential problem areas or to suggest necessary improvements that will help maximize your home’s selling potential!

For more information, please contact Doug Evans (Cal BRE #01253232), manager of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Los Gatos office, at 408-355-1500 or doug.evans@cbnorcal.com

Open House Theft Alert + Safety Tips for REALTORS®

There have been several recently reported thefts that have occurred during open houses in Santa Clara County. Individuals have been attending open houses and signing in with a fake name, phone number, and address. They are commonly targeting two story houses so they have a better chance of creating separation between themselves and the REALTOR®. Common items that have been reported stolen include cash, wallets (out of purses), jewelry, and other small items. Sometimes the thief will do a quick walk through the house and then ask a question about the number of bedroom or bathrooms upstairs. They will then say that they missed a room and go back upstairs for a quick look. Many of the thefts are happening at this time. In many instances, the thief says that they are very interested in the property and plan on coming back later in the day with their spouse, but they never return.

Since holding open houses exposes you to people that you’ve never met before, it is critical that REALTORS® follow all possible safety precautions. Even a buyer that seems legitimate could quickly decide to steal a small item on a whim.  NAR has provided the following 10 tips for holding a safe open house:

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

The following video also provides a great refresher on safety tips when holding open houses and meeting clients for the first time:

 

Heather Wills joins SCCAOR as Events Coordinator

Heather Wills has joined SCCAOR as our new Events Coordinator. She will handle the planning, promotion, and execution of SCCAOR’s many well-known events.

“I am very excited to be joining SCCAOR,” she said. “I look forward to using my previous experience to excel in this role and add value to all the Association’s events.”

Some of the events that Heather will manage include SCCAOR’s Installation event each January, the Member Appreciation Baseball game, the Golf Tournament, the Member Appreciation BBQ, the Convention & Trade Show, the Holiday Member Appreciation Party, and all the General Membership Meetings throughout the year.

She will work directly with Hilda Ramirez, SCCAOR’s Director of PR, Education, and Events. “Heather is a great addition to the team,” said Ramirez. “Her vast knowledge of the real estate industry coupled with her drive and determination make her the ideal person for this role.”

Wills is joining SCCAOR after working for Coldwell Banker as a Marketing Coordinator for the last ten years. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and spending time with her family.

2017 Involvement Opportunities

No single person can lead SCCAOR.  It takes a group of very talented individuals provide their time and perspectives to guide this organization.  If you want to contribute to the continued success of SCCAOR please consider signing up for one or more of the opportunities listed in this form: 2017 Involvement Opportunities.

2017 Legislative Day

Join us on May 3rd for Legislative Day! This is your chance to travel to our State Capital with your fellow SCCAOR Members. We will be briefed on top issues currently facing the real estate industry and meet with our state legislators. The $20 registration includes a special luncheon with a guest speaker on state politics — and 100% of your registration fee will go towards the REALTOR® Action Fund.

 

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Advising Buyers: How to Hold Legal Title when Purchasing a Home

By Nick and Barbara Lymberis

Once you are in contract with your buyers, just prior to preparing the deed in your buyers’ names in preparation for Close of Escrow (COE), the escrow officer will want to know how they wish to hold title.

It is important that, before letting the escrow officer know, your buyers contact a lawyer or other legal source to determine how best to hold title given their particular circumstances. The decision could have major ramifications, so it is usually a tax advisor that can best help, together with a legal opinion.

These are the following ways to hold title (Note: the legal ramifications of each way will not be addressed):

  1. Tenancy in Common
  2. Joint Tenancy
  3. Community Property
  4. Community Property with Right of Survivorship

As soon as your buyers are in contract, and substantially before COE occurs, we recommend your buyers contact a knowledgeable person to review financial status and personal wishes regarding holding title.

A common question is: “But Mr./Ms. REALTOR®, can’t we pick one and decide later how best to do it?”

Answer: Yes, of course. But we know from experience that making an appointment with the proper person is usually postponed and many times forgotten. With Nick’s background as an attorney and Barbara being a paralegal, we know that when decisions are postponed, life intervenes and it can trigger unintended results. At some later date, what the intentions were are irrelevant, or at least substantially altered by life, in almost all cases. (It’s complicated.)

So, we reiterate that it is best to handle it “on the spot” while everything is fresh in the buyers’ minds and their motivation is current with the purchase of their new home.

If circumstances change after COE,  when the choice has been made and the deed recorded, then a review can take place with an advisor and, if necessary, changes can be made. In fact, Trusts and Wills attorneys suggest reviewing your trust and will at least every 5 years. And with the laws changing from time to time and courts making interpretations of what the law is supposed to say, what was intended 5 years ago may not apply in today’s world.

 


Barabara and Nick are REALTORS® for Coldwell Banker. Visit their website at www.nickandbarbara.com

Copyright © 2017 by Nick and Barbara Lymberis

Note: This article is not intended or offered as legal advice. It has been prepared for educational and informational purposes only.

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