Home Selling Tip: How To Sell Your House In Three Days

How To Sell a House - This Couple Found Out!A dear friend of mine in Las Vegas just reported that the couple living next door to them just sold their house in three days.

I’ll repeat that: They sold their home in Las Vegas… in three days.

My response, knowing the slow housing market, not to mention the slowness of the season, was, “WHAT?!! GIVE ME THEIR NUMBER, I WANT TO TALK TO THESE PEOPLE!”

A few hours later I had Rose, the home seller, on the phone. She graciously gave me an hour interview, in the midst of packing up her boxes. During this conversation, she told me all the home selling tips that led to her success:

First off, she was motivated. Rose and her husband wanted to move to Arizona to be close to their kids and grandkids. They didn’t want to spend months, or years of quality time waiting for an offer.

One of the most important steps was to get an appraisal. Even though they were once told, during the height of the housing price boom, that their house was worth around a million dollars, the appraisal value in today’s market was in the mid $300′s. They blinked, swallowed hard, faced the cold bite of realty, and set their asking price just a wee smidge above that figure — taking into account they had one of the only models of a particularly sought-after home style on the market.

Then they got to work. They brought in a Realtor and home stager to go through the property with a fine-tooth comb and tell them exactly what to do to make buyers fall in love with their house. Rose took copious notes and then set out to execute every last detail of what the stager told her to do.

During the next four months, they held off listing the house until it was perfect. Rose knew that the first few weeks a home is on the market, are the most critical weeks for landing a sale. What this meant though, was their home wouldn’t be listed until mid November… right before Thanksgiving. Even though this wasn’t exactly the high season for home sales, she prayed the right buyer would find her house.

Then they started upping the home’s curb appeal. She brought in a truckload of new landscaping gravel and varnished it until it gleamed in the Las Vegas sun. Then they refinished the driveway and added a coat of varnish so it also gleamed.

Rose’s friend suggested she bury a Saint Joseph statue next to her “For Sale” sign at the property line
, which she felt contributed to her own quick home sale. So Rose bought one online and followed the instructions carefully — burying it upside down and outward, facing the street. She was also told that she had to truly believe it would work, so Rose’s next task was to change her own belief system.

In terms of the interior, Rose’s stager told her she had to make the house “Turnkey-Ready,” so buyers would feel all they needed to do was carry in their toothbrushes.

Here is a list of the changes Rose made:

- When the stager first visited Rose’s house, it was crowded with decorations, furniture and Asian art from the couple’s travels. They immediately moved two-thirds of the furniture out, took almost everything off the walls and emptied the place of every last stone lion head.

– Next, they painted all the rooms a soothing celadon green, which is a newly-defined neutral that goes with practically any furniture.

– Rose took down all the draperies, leaving only the honeycomb shades, which she kept open to show off the gleaming landscape outside her window.

- She was also instructed to take the majority of knick-knacks out of her China cabinet,
so visitors wouldn’t get distracted and ask, “Oooh, look at those cute little temple figurines! I wonder if these people traveled around China?” By taking out the personal items, buyers focus on the details of the house — instead of the details of the seller’s lives.

– Next, Rose updated her lighting fixtures. Even though she loved her expensive Tuscan fixtures, she was told today’s buyers prefer contemporary, classic designs. So Rose went to Lowe’s and bought some beautiful, yet economical fixtures that instantly updated the interior.

In terms of marketing, Rose piggy-backed their open house to coincide with others in the area
, to maximize their exposure. She also had gorgeous photos taken of the home, put them on an attractive flyer, and set the flyers next to their “For Sale” sign.

Two days after setting out the sign, two buyers driving by the area with their Realtor saw the flyer and made an appointment to tour the house. Within 30 minutes, they made up their mind to buy it and presented a cash offer for $30,000 less than the asking price.

Because the house was immaculate, Rose negotiated to split the difference and they settled on a price of $15,000 under the asking price. The buyer wanted the house badly, and both parties wanted a no-muss, no fuss deal.

This week Rose and her husband are going to Phoenix to start shopping for their new home
next to the grandkids and to get an early jump on celebrating the holidays. They earned it.

For many more details on how to sell a house quickly in a bad market — and how to stay happy while you wait — check out my book, Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback and as an eBook from Amazon.com.

Trying To Sell a House? Protect Your Home’s Value Through Targeted Upkeep

Your Home's Value Is In Your HandsWhen you’re trying to sell a house, you’re probably not in the mood to spend time and money on expensive maintenance and repairs.

However, it’s a lot like going to the dentist. If you put off checkups and maintenance, because you want to save time, money and pain, you’re taking the chance of lettings small problems grow out of hand.

Is it better to find that small cavity and pay for getting it filled right now? Or, wait until an achy tooth requires you to get a root canal and a crown?

It works the same way with home maintenance — even though you would rather have your home sell before it needs expensive repair, in this slow housing market, you can’t tell which is going to happen first.

That’s why it pays to keep an eye on those things that will cause you the most trouble and expense to fix.
The number one item on this list is anything that involves water intrusion into your home.

Make sure your roof is inspected regularly to check for leaks that can cause major expense and lower your home’s value. Catch the problem early and you can save yourself the equivalent of having to give your home a root canal and a crown.

Don’t wait until you see a large stain on your ceiling — just as you shouldn’t wait until your teeth hurt — before getting a regular checkup.

You should also look for any drainage problems around your house, which can result in major foundation issues later on. Keep vegetation a few feet away from your walls so you aren’t accidentally watering your home. Make sure your roof gutters and downspouts are clear, especially now — when the rain is starting to pour down and fall leaves can clog up the works.

Perform maintenance measures that are the equivalent of dental flossing: Repaint your home’s siding and trim to keep moisture, mildew and dry rot out. Seal cracks in exterior stucco. Recaulk showers, bathtubs, sinks and windows.

And remember to service your heating and air conditioning units regularly. Poor maintenance can cost you much more down the line — from needing to replace your current units, to potentially creating a major fire hazard.

Also, change your air filters regularly. Dirty air filters can cause larger issues — the least serious is watching your walls slowly darken over time to the point where you ask yourself, “Why are my walls grey? I thought I painted them white.”

For many more home selling tips and advice to cheer you on if you’re having trouble selling your house, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback and as an ebook through Amazon.com and at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

Home Selling Tip: Should I Change Realtors or Not?

A question many frustrated home sellers ask is whether they should switch real estate agents or not. Out of desperation, many sellers want to switch agents, hoping that will help them sell their homes faster.

If an agent isn’t putting forth the effort and is not responsive to your communications, that’s understandable. However, that might not be the problem:

Before taking this course of action, ask your agent to review the average days on the market for similar properties in your area. This will show you whether your home has been sitting on the market longer than others, or if you’re suffering from the same fate as other home sellers with different agents.

Also ask your agent to run a comparative market analysis (CMA) for similar homes in your area to see if your asking price is too high. Both of these factors may be a factor in why your home isn’t selling, independent of your agent’s efforts.

If you’ve felt that your agent has been putting forth a good effort to market your home, has been responsive to your questions and provides ongoing status reports and visitor feedback, the problem may just be the slow economy. Changing agents won’t make any difference. It’s a lot like trying out different cars to see if you can go faster during daily rush hour traffic.

You can switch from a reliable Honda to a fast Porsche, to a luxurious Cadillac and still be stuck in the same slow-moving conditions. And that is the exact same situation happening with many agents.

In fact, changing agents might even work against a seller if you gain a reputation for doing this repeatedly. Since agents put up their own advertising money and don’t get paid until a home is sold, they may grow concerned about investing fully in a property if they think the seller is going to drop them in a few months–if the seller has already demonstrated this behavior with a slew of other agents.

So before changing agents out of frustration, do your homework and find out if the problem is out of your agent’s control.

For hundreds of home selling tips — including how to stay sane when your home is on the market, read Home Selling Blues and How to Beat Them. Available in paperback or as an Ebook from Amazon.com.

Home Selling Tip: Use Your Rooms Right

Home Selling Tip: Make a Bedroom a BedroomHow you use your home normally might be very different from how you need to display it when it’s on the market.

Let’s say you don’t need your dining room, so you’ve turned it into a home office. That might work well for you, but if you keep it looking like an office when you are trying to sell your house, you’re going to turn off a lot of buyers.

They won’t be able to visualize your house having a dining room, even though it’s right next to the kitchen and has a crystal chandelier hanging right over your copy machine.

You are much better off reverting your rooms back to their original purpose before trying to sell your house — or you just might confuse some potentially unimaginative buyers.

This goes for any room you’re using for an unexpected purpose. For example, if you’re using a bedroom as an office, consider adding a futon or daybed to the room, just to give buyers the signal that yes, this room really, truly is a bedroom.

This also goes for your garage. As tempting as it is to park all your boxes and extraneous items in this precious space, you’re better off moving them to a storage closet when your house is for sale, and using your garage for the luxurious purpose of parking your cars.

For hundreds of other home selling tips and inspiration, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback or as an Ebook from Amazon.com.

Home Selling Advice: Upgrading Your Kitchen For Way Less Money

Home Selling Tip on Kitchen UpgradesAs the days get shorter and the nights get colder, people tend to gravitate to the warmth and safety of the kitchen. But what if warped cabinets, ugly flooring, or cracked, crowded countertops distract from your kitchen’s ambiance?

Well, you might think about doing a remodel… but the average price these days for a good kitchen remodel can be over $100,000. Yow! So what if you’re not exactly in the mood to spend that kind of money?

There is an alternative. Portland, Oregon Real Estate Broker, Alexis Halmy, just sent me some great information on kitchen remodeling that lists many ways to drastically reduce the cost of upgrading your kitchen.

Let’s look at the key components of your kitchen and what you can do to upgrade each one:

Cabinets - New cabinets can cost you $20,000, but instead of replacing them, you can paint or resurface them for much less. You can repaint your cabinets for under $200 or resurface them for $2,000 to $4,000. Add eye-catching new drawer pulls and you’ve just made a major change to the look of your kitchen.

Flooring – There are a wide range of inexpensive flooring options that will look great with your revamped cabinets. For example, you can pick from thousands of colors and types of ceramic or porcelain tiles that can run as low as $1 a square foot for ceramic tile and $2 for porcelain. (Or choose from laminate flooring or easy-to-install vinyl tiles and sheets.)

Countertops – You don’t have to spend thousands on granite countertops to give your kitchen that high-end look. Now, you can find beautiful ceramic tiles from $20 per square foot, or you can replace your countertop with an elegant, easy-to-care-for laminate from around $10 a square foot. These laminates come in a large variety of colors and patterns, and can possibly be installed directly on top of old laminate, eliminating removal time and expense.

Appliances - You can save yourself up to $7,000 by revamping your current appliances instead of replacing them. In my blog post from 7/12/11, I mentioned that you may be able to repaint your current appliances to give your kitchen a quick update. Now there’s an additional option: you can apply a “peel and stick” stainless steel film to your appliances to give them a whole new look. Imagine that… stick on stainless steel!

Painting - Finally, there’s nothing like applying a fresh coat of $12 to $30 a gallon paint to brighten up your whole kitchen. If your home is on the market, or about to be, select a zero or low VOC paint to drastically reduce the smell of paint fumes in your kitchen area.

If you are trying to sell a house now, or thinking about it in the near future, upgrading your kitchen will not only make a big difference in your ability to attract serious buyers, it will also enable you to seriously enjoy your kitchen right now, this winter, while you are spending quality time at home.

For hundreds of other home selling tips and fresh marketing ideas, read Home Seller’s Blues and How to Beat Them. Available in paperback or as an Ebook from Amazon.com or at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

A Home Selling And Moving Tip to Save You Money

Home Selling Tips for MovingLet me tell you a quick story — actually a confession — about one of my own home selling experiences:

Many moves ago when my husband and I listed our house for sale, I knew the importance of decluttering — so we promptly threw two tons of belongings into boxes and hauled them off to a storage closet.

These boxes sat there for three years — until we finally found the perfect house where we could unpack them and enjoy their contents.

Meanwhile, the cost of renting that storage closet grew into the thousands. Then those boxes had to be trucked to our new home–far away–costing us several thousand more.

Finally, we unpacked the boxes only to realize that we didn’t need most of the items in them. They contained out-dated reference books, out-of-style outfits and dust-collecting doodads that didn’t fit with our new surroundings. And to think of all the money we paid storing and trucking these things. (We could have taken an all-expense trip to Fiji for the price we paid to keep that stuff!)

So, the moral of the story is to get your moving act together early. Don’t wait until you’ve moved to your next place to sort out your old belongings. Do it now. If you need to put things in storage, only pack up the things you need, love and truly want. Get rid of the rest. There are dozens of charity organizations, recyclers and probably even friends who would appreciate  your spare parts.

For more  inspiration, here’s a moving house checklist from Homebase with useful information to make packing and moving easier. You’ll also find a “moving timetable” to help plot out the entire process ahead of time. This site also provides many moving home and selling tips — for example, including your home’s floor plan and high-quality wide-angle shots of your rooms in your online home promotions. This will give potential buyers a better feel for your home’s layout.

The important thing is to plan ahead — before the house is sold, before the moving trucks come, before you’ve even figured out where you’re going to move next. A clean, organized house and a well-packed storage closet (if you need one)  will save you time, money and your sanity in the long run.

Home Selling Tip For Comforting Worried Home Buyers

Home Selling Tip For Worried Home BuyersOne of the problems of selling a home in today’s slow economy is that many home buyers have this odd look in their eyes when walking through your rooms.

Don’t worry, it probably has nothing to do with your decorating skills or color scheme. It has more to do with their own fear and uncertainty.

They’re busy calculating: “If I buy this house, will the prices drop further the minute I squeeze my couch through the front door? Is this the best house for my money? Can I afford it if anything goes wrong?”

This is a home selling problem many people are facing across the country. But now you can turn a home buyer’s worry into a home selling advantage by throwing in a few anti-anxiety incentives with the purchase of your home.

Here are two incentives that can put your home on the top of a buyer’s list:

Home Equity Protection – Did you know there are insurance policies available now that can protect against the loss of a home’s value due to a declining local housing market? These policies come with certain conditions, such as the need to pay a deductible if the home is sold within the first year or two, there is a limit on the amount of a claim, ranging from 10% to 25%, and the home’s current value is locked in for a specified period of time, such as ten years. (In other words, the new owner must sell within that period to be reimbursed for their loss.)

Home sellers can purchase such a policy for a one-time fee, which averages around 1.7% of a home’s value, and is funded when the house is sold. For a nervous buyer, knowing that their investment may be protected from any further slide might make the difference between choosing your home instead of a competing house that doesn’t carry this protection.

Home Warranty Insurance - Ah, to know that the furnace can go out in the middle of winter or the washing machine can breakdown mid cycle, and you’ve got a number to call for help. These policies cover appliances and household systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC units. Again, this insurance comes with deductibles and other conditions, for example, you can’t repeatedly hit your washing machine with a baseball bat and expect the insurance to cover the damage.

These incentives might bring a home buyer enough security to help cinch the deal. I know it gave us a warm, fuzzy feeling when our Realtor threw in a home warranty policy with the purchase of our last house. And finding ways to provide home buyers with that warm, fuzzy, secure feeling is the way to go in today’s uncertain housing market.

For more home selling tips and ideas for selling your home faster and easier in this slow market, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback and as an ebook through Amazon.com and at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

Home Selling Advice: Upgrade Your Entryway The Easy Way

Home Selling Advice on Enhancing Your EntrywayAs a home seller, you’ve got about two or three seconds to wow a buyer when they first walk in your door.

How do you feel upon entering your own home? Are you impressed? Is your entryway spacious, peaceful and well lit? Or, are you greeted by a dark wall, a pile of shoes or miscellaneous objects d’clutter?

Whether you have a dedicated spacious entryway, a grand foyer or your front door opens right into your living room, you should make sure your home’s entrance feels welcoming.

The first thing to do is remove anything unattractive and make sure your door swings open all the way. There’s something subtly stressful about a door that won’t open completely because there’s a stack of coats on a peg behind the door or something has been stashed there, in hopes of nobody noticing.

If your entryway is small, there are a variety of tricks to make it look larger: Paint the area a light color, put up a decorative mirror to capture incoming light, or place a painting or photo on the wall that provides a sense of depth, such as a landscape with a far off view. If you have room, keep a fresh vase of flowers near your door, which always sends a welcoming signal.

If you live in a condo or home that doesn’t have a designated entryway, you can create one by using a few props. For example, place two tall, slender potted plants on either side of the entryway to give the feeling of walking through a threshold.

You can also use an attractive screen divider or a strategically placed table with a striking plant on top of it to direct the flow of traffic into a certain part of the room first, instead of walking right into the middle of the action. A non-skid area rug also creates a sense of an entryway experience, while preventing visitors from tracking winter mud and moisture into your home.

If you’ve got the time, resources and inclination, you can take an average entryway and make it memorable by adding colorful tile or mosaic flooring. Take a look at this “how to” page for instructions on creating your own mosaic masterpiece.

You can also look online at the Feng shui websites for tips and tricks on how to energize your entryway and make it as visually appealing as possible.

For hundreds of other ideas on how to make your home stand out from the crowd, get sold faster and how to keep your sanity while you wait for a sale, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them, available in paperback and as an ebok through Amazon.com and http://www.homesellersblues.com.

Home Selling Advice: Sell Your Area Using Video

Home Selling ImagesMost everybody knows the importance of taking beautiful photos of the house you’re selling, but way fewer people realize the potential sales power of taking photos and videos of your neighborhood and its amenities.

Often, house hunters don’t have the least idea what your neighborhood looks like–especially if they’re relocating from another state, another city, or even across town in the same city! A lot of online real estate searches begin with a drop down menu on a website, where the house hunter has to pick between neighborhood names they know nothing about.

I remember when I was moving from Los Angeles to the San Francisco bay area; I focused my initial housing search on Redwood City, because I thought it would be filled with redwoods. Ha! Imagine my surprise when I found it filled with heavy traffic and buildings instead. I made the same mistake years later when searching for a home in Cottonwood, Arizona. Once I got there I discovered… oh, you can guess the rest.

Leave it to say, an area’s name doesn’t always match what it looks like. (And that’s a good thing if you want to buy in Bloody Basin, Arizona.)

So, if you’d like to make your home stand out from the crowd and add to its desirability, provide more visual information about the area. Get shots of the beautiful park down your street, shoot your charming local library, the green grocer on the corner, the lively shopping district and cafes in your neighborhood, and the quiet tree-lined street where your home is located.

Nowadays, many house hunters are planning to own a home for many years due to the slow housing market — so the neighborhood they choose is becoming increasingly important. And, it’s never been easier to add photos and videos to your home’s online advertisements.

So why just show your kitchen and bathroom, like everybody else? Let the world know about the awesome neighborhood in which you live. You’ll be doing yourself, and your potential home buyers a big favor.

For hundred of home selling tips and inspiration, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them, available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon and at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

Home Selling Fence Sitting

Home Selling QuestionShould I put my house on the market this year or wait until next year? That’s the question that a lot of potential home sellers are asking right now. Many are hoping that if they wait just another year, they’ll see prices start heading up again.

The trouble is if prices go the other way — let’s say they fall another 5% or 10% — then they’ll start rising back up again from that lowest point, not from where they are right now. So instead of selling your house at this year’s prices, you may actually have to hold off for several more years just to see prices go back up to the same point where they are now. Ouch! What a wake up call!

As real estate expert Joe Manusa states, “Realistically, anybody who chooses to wait until next year is either really waiting until 2015 to get this year’s price (or later) or is choosing to get less money for their home.”

This makes complete sense. Until the huge inventory of unsold homes declines and the number of qualified buyers rises, prices aren’t heading upwards again. In fact, they can continue to fall while home sellers sit on the fence trying to decide whether to wait until next year or not.

That’s why if you know that you have to sell your home this year or next, it may be a good idea to put that  “For Sale” sign up sooner rather than later. Then, if you sell your house and the market continues to sink, you could be in a good position to purchase your next house (if you plan to buy again) at an even lower level. You might even find yourself feeling a little sorry for the seller, who decided to wait until next year — instead of selling sooner — like you did.