Home Selling Advice: Look for International Buyers

Home Selling Advice: International Home Buyers Did you realize that during this past year alone, a staggering $82 billion of residential property in the U.S. was bought by foreign or foreign-born buyers?

The National Association of Realtors reported this fact, along with the news that this was a $16 billion increase from the year before. What makes this more interesting yet is that 45% of these international purchases went to buy properties under $200,000 — and 61% of this total represented single family homes.

This can be viewed as potentially good news for home sellers with lower-cost homes in areas where international investors are buying.

When deciding where to purchase, foreign investors often consider the proximity to their home country, convenience of air travel and airline routes, climate and nearness to attractions and resources such as colleges, job markets and international corporations. Generally speaking, the East Coast tends to attracts Europeans and the West Coast attracts more Asian buyers. Mexican investors often look to the adjacent southwest region and Florida is popular among South American, European and Canadian buyers.

There are many reasons international investors are coming to the United States: First, I think they like the idea that our wiring, plumbing and building codes are somewhat up-to-date, give or take a century — thanks to the United States being a pretty new country.

But of course, there’s more to it than that, such as our newly affordable home prices, bountiful inventory, advantageous currency exchange rates, a strong U.S. rental market for investors and the availability of experienced property managers. United States home ownership is also seen as a secure investment. In addition, many U.S. Realtors have a global perspective and experience working with clients from different cultures. This allows for a comfortable client-agent relationship and smoother transactions.

Many U.S. colleges also have a significant number of international students, which is motivating some foreign families to purchase properties for their children to live in while attending school. A growing number of foreign executives working in the U.S. are purchasing residences as well. Additionally, immigrants often see home ownership as an important step in their path to establishing themselves in the United States.

For all of these reasons investors have come from 70 different countries during the past year to buy into the U.S. housing market. (The top countries represented include Canada, China, Mexico, the UK, India, Argentina and Brazil.)

As a home seller or Realtor, international buyers are an important market to consider in your home selling efforts. For further insight into this growing group of buyers, read the National Association of Realtor’s 2011 Profile of International Home Buying Activity.

Home Selling Props You Get To Take With You

Home Selling Tools that Move When You DoMost home selling improvements that you make have to stay with your property when you sell it. Light fixtures, faucets, decorative curtain rods, new towel racks, and expensive rose bushes are all part of the deal — the new buyer gets to keep everything attached to your house, unless otherwise stated.

And you know, it’s sometimes a little frustrating to have to buy a bunch of goodies for a group of perfect strangers.

So here are a few home selling props that not only make a house stand out and look more sellable — you get to take them with you when you move:

Outdoor Speakers – If your want to make a good impression and give your home a luxurious touch, purchase speakers for your deck, patio or garden, then turn on some beautiful “home showing” music before each potential buyer arrives. This is a great way to create an outdoor paradise that house hunters won’t forget. And, this is the perfect time to install them, when people are sure to cruise around your summer garden and grounds.

There are many types of easy-to-install outdoor speakers available that are built into decorative stones, garden pots or even frog statues. These speakers usually range from $50 to $200, and you can enjoy them now, while you’re selling your house — and then wrap them up and take them with you. You can find these speakers in catalogs or online by doing a search on “garden speakers.”

Artful Graffiti - Even though we were taught as kids to never write on walls, it appears that this art form is now highly desirable, as long as it’s done tastefully.

Nowadays you can purchase stick-on vinyl wall quotes, words or artistic images that can be applied to any wall and then moved to another location just as easily. For example, you can place the word “Welcome!” in elegant scroll in your entryway, “Bon Appetit” in your kitchen, or “Relax,” in beautiful calligraphy over your bathtub.

Companies such as www.enchantingquotes.com and www.wallwords.com provide hundreds of choices in multiple colors and fonts to fit every room style, or you can customize your own words or images. The beauty of this stick-on graffiti is that it is very affordable, lends a room instant glamour and makes it stand out from the crowd, plus it doesn’t hurt the wall when you pack it up and take it with you.

Mobiles - No, I’m not talking about mobile devices, I’m talking about the type of mobiles that hang from your ceiling and impart a touch of art, energy and sophistication to any room.  Mobiles also break up a large expanse of blank ceiling space and call attention to anywhere you want to lure a buyers’ eyes.

Mobiles are not costly, they’re quickly installed and they are permanently yours (unless a buyer falls in love with your mobile and asks to include it in the deal for an extra lump sum.) You can find thousands of mobiles online by searching under “Mobile art” or “Hanging mobiles.” It’s fun to look at all the varieties, but just be sure to pick one with thin metal wires or invisible plastic connections — not the do-it-yourself mobiles that make you cut out the planets in the solar system and hang them on pieces of string.

For hundreds of other home selling ideas read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them.

Home Selling Scenario – When Buyers Fall For Your House

Home Selling PerilsRecently I accompanied my friend Deb on a house hunt. As we were making our way up a slick wooden walkway to the front door of a house she really wanted to see, I heard a loud whoomp behind me.

I turned around to see Deb flat out on her back, checking out the house from a new angle. She picked herself up with a painful groan and we proceeded to tour the home — but she had already decided that she would never buy it. She couldn’t imagine living in a place where her first memory would always be of falling down.

Luckily Deb wasn’t badly injured and she wasn’t the lawsuit-filing type. If it was another house hunter, things may have turned out differently; the home owner could have been smacked with a nasty lawsuit.

As a home seller you are in a unique position of having to open your door to a lot of strangers, but what makes it even worse is you’re usually not even around to tell them,”Watch your step!” And that’s just one concern — another is the possibility of theft. Although most house hunters have good intent, you still have to be careful that someone doesn’t fall for your things… such as an expensive necklace. And, you have to make sure that someone doesn’t unlock a window or door so they can come back later to claim your laptop.

That’s why it’s important to take preventative action: Make your home as stumble-free as possible. Hide your expensive belongings. And check that all entryways are locked after every showing. But it’s still hard to control everything.

So an additional way to protect yourself is through your homeowner insurance. I talked to a home insurance specialist at cheapinsurance123.com who told me that depending upon your policy, your insurance will cover damage to your home from various perils, theft of property inside or within the vicinity of your home, and different levels of liability coverage. You can also elect to pay an additional fee to have your expensive jewelry or other items covered in case of theft.

As a home owner, it’s a good idea to check your policy to find out exactly what’s covered, and to what level. If it looks like you need more protection as a home seller, you can always add to your policy.

Of course, it would be better to have home buyers fall for your house, instead of in it, but by taking the right preventative measures and checking that you’ve got an adequate amount of insurance, you can at least know you’re covered from all angles.

For hundreds of other ideas on how to make home selling safer, saner and easier, read Home Selling Blues and How To Beat Them in paperback or as an ebook.

Home Selling Apps We Only Wish We Had

Apps for those who need help selling a house I wrote a post recently about five mobile apps that make home selling easier. These apps help home sellers price their homes competitively, provide smart decorating tips, and even turn the air conditioning on before a home showing appointment.

But, really now, frustrated home sellers need a little more hands-on support.

So, I came up with a list of dream apps to make the home selling process even easier, faster — and guarantee your home will be sold:

1. Extreme Beacon of Light App – Broadcasts your home selling message straight out into the universe from your “For Sale” sign,  instantly attracting interested, qualified home buyers who are not waiting for their own house to sell first. Potential buyers receiving the broadcasted message will immediately call and make an appointment to see your house and no other.

2. Instant Closet, Garage and Pile Sorting App – Takes the boredom, tedium and indecision out of what to do with all your things. This app automatically calculates the percentage of clutter you have within any given area and then identifies, sorts and sends your excess clutter to the most appropriate place — whether that’s a storage closet, a charity organization or your garbage can.

3. Spontaneously Spotless Home Showing App - The minute a house hunter wants to see your home, this app kicks in and picks up all the little and big messes throughout your house, including kitchen crumbs and piles of laundry, and it gives your sink and tub a good scrubbing. And, because this is a mobile device, you don’t even have to be home to activate it, so you never have to worry about surprise showings again. You’ll always have confidence that your house will be clean.

4. Invisible Pet Cloaking App - Keeps your pets from being in the way, or having to remove them before home showings. With Invisible Pet Cloaking, (IPC) all a prospective home buyer sees is the carpet, flooring or couch where your pet is located — even though your dog may be three feet away and barking up a storm, or your cat is winding around the buyer’s legs.

5. Complete and Total Irrestistibility App - Eliminates home buyer’s doubts, objections and pickiness. With this app, buyers instantly see beyond a home’s too-small bedrooms, damaged roof, or creaky flooring, and instead focus on all of your home’s amenities — which ultimately leads to an offer on your house.

6. Counter-Offer-Stopper App – Are you unhappy when potential buyers counter your price with a lower price than what you want? This app inspires potential buyers to knock that off and pay you what you want. Simply enter the name of the counter-offerer into your mobile device and you’ll see them drop any counter-offer behavior and beg you to seal the deal immediately on your terms.

7. Automated Moving App - The moment a sales contract is signed this app begins packing up your things in the order of their usefulness, boxing up the least-used items first, such as your monogrammed steak branding kit, and leaving out your most-used items, such as your computer, until moving day. It also has a handy back-up system, so just in case the deal falls through, it immediately finds a new buyer, so the move can go on uninterrupted.

Oh, how we wish we could get these apps now. Sadly, they are all still on the drawing board.

But in the meantime, if you’re a home seller who needs some cheering up and unique tips on making your home stand out amongst your competition, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback and ebook from http://www.homesellersblues.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iBookstore.

I’ll let you know when the seven apps above are ready for shipping.

Home Selling Therapy

Home Selling Tip: Color can help sell your houseOne of the fastest ways to make a big difference in your home is to add strategic color to your walls and decor. It’s the perfect weekend home selling therapy because you are in control, and within hours you can make an attractive change to your environment that can subtly influence home buyers.

Everyone has heard the dream of “settling down in a house with a white picket fence.” Notice, no one ever says they want a house with a purple picket fence. Then there’s the dream of living in a little yellow farmhouse. Again, no one dreams of living in a little beige farmhouse. Yes, color is that important and that psychologically powerful.

I once painted one wall in my family room nine times, trying to find the perfect color that would complement a grey granite fireplace, a giant Navajo rug, and three bright southwest yellow walls. By the time I finished the nine coats, including multiple layers of primer in between, I think the room was a foot smaller — but it looked glorious. The “copper penny orange” I finally found tied the room together and brought it to vivid life.

The big thing is to not be afraid of paint. Even though repainting is kind of a pain, (okay, it’s a big pain) finding the right color is worth it. However, I do offer one other critically important painting tip: Paint barefoot. You can detect even the smallest drop of paint on your foot, but if you paint while wearing shoes or socks, you’re in danger of tracking that perfect color all over your house.

Now, let’s talk about the psychology of color and how you can use it when staging a house for sale:

YELLOW – Yellow is known to have a very strong psychological impact. It lifts the spirits and is recognized as the color of optimism. Yellow can brighten any room, from a family room, kitchen or study, to dreary basement rooms that get little light. If you don’t want to go whole hog and paint an entire room yellow, you can add sunny gold accents in the form of mirrors, picture frames, lamps, artwork or a tall vase full of sunflowers.

GREEN – Quiet, neutral shades of green are reassuring, comforting colors that makes people feel balanced. This makes sense to me – it’s our nature. We evolved in a green world. In studies done on treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder, people exposed to soft shades of green showed improved moods. Green is also recommended for those enduring frequent cold weather. If you want to impart a “green mood” whithout painting, add some soft, leafy plants to your house.

RED – Obviously red grabs attention, and it has been scientifically proven to raise a person’s pulse, energy level and to improve cognitive performance. In the book, A Thousand Days in Venice, the author, Marlena De Blasi painted her dining room a bright shade of red. Although she was warned, “It’s gonna make the space feel smaller” she countered, “Yes, the space will be warm and inviting.” And as often as we’re told to keep wall colors neutral, sometimes a shock of color will make a buyer positively remember your home above all others.

But, you don’t have to paint a room red to get that bold affect. You can use accents in the form of furniture, curtains, pillows, or place a vase of screaming red or orange flowers right where you want to attract a home buyer’s eyes.

BLUE - The wrong shade of blue can come off as cold and institutional. But a soft blue can make a bedroom into a calming retreat from a chaotic world, and a blue with grey undertones can look sophisticated in a bathroom. Blue is also known as a good thinking color, which makes it work well in a room where you plan on performing rocket science calculations or doing your taxes.

WHITE – Although white looks neat and clean, it can also look stark and untouchable. It’s also hard to unify a room with white walls. All the objects seem to be floating in their own spaces… a couch here, a lamp and picture frame there. Small spaces, however, often look better with lighter colors, so a smart trade-off is to use one of the many shades of white with a tint of a second color, such as yellow, pink or even violet. White is also a great trim color for any room, and it will always be the perfect color for a picket fence.

For hundreds of other home selling tips and advice for overcoming home selling frustration, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in print or as an ebook from Amazon.com, or at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

Home Selling Made Easier With 5 Mobile Apps

Home selling ideasI’m always on the lookout for bright ideas that will make home selling easier, faster and less painful while also maximizing the potential asking price for your home.

Thankfully, there is an ever-expanding array of applications for the iPhone, Ipad and other mobile devices that will help you accurately price your home, improve its appearance and control your home’s environment and energy usage from a distance.

Here are five applications that benefit home sellers:

Home Value Pro – Want to know what your house is worth? Well, maybe not, but this free application, for the iPhone and iPod Touch gives home sellers and buyers accurate and reliable market data on over 140 million residential properties in the U.S. It includes up-to-date property values, foreclosure information, 12-month median home price trends and analysis of housing statistics at the county and zip code level.

Lutron RadioRA2 – This real-life science-fiction application lets you remotely control your home using an iPad, including control over lights, temperature, appliances, window shade positioning and energy usage. It’s perfect for turning on the air conditioning before summer home showings and it helps make a house looked “lived in” when you’re away from home. For $14.99, it can provide peace of mind and save much more on energy costs.

Control4 My Home - This app turns your iPad into the ultimate touch screen home control and automation system, including control over  audio, video, web cameras, your security system, lights, thermostat, and other functions. In addition, this free application can manage your commands in Czech, Hebrew, Portuguese, Turkish, Croatian and Klingon. (Well maybe not Klingon, but you can put in a request.)

Dream Home HD - Lets you integrate the latest interior design trends into your home by providing thousands of decor solutions from professional designers. You’ll also receive inspirational ideas, tips, real-life photos and an extensive menu of colors and styles for a variety of room types. Using this $4.99 application, you’ll be able to make your home look like a million dollars… or at least feel like it is.

Gardening ToolKit – Moving right along to the outside of your home, this application can turn a gray thumb into a green one.  It will tell you the perfect flowers, shrubs, fruits and veggies that will thrive in your area using the built-in “automatic zip-code hardiness zone finder.” It also includes a watering guide, month-by-month gardening advice, colorful plant photos and information on what to sow and when, depending upon where you live. I don’t know if this application speaks Croatian, but for $1.99, it seems like a good deal to me.

For hundreds of tips to cheer on and cheer up home sellers read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them.

Summer House Selling Mistakes – A Guest Post

I just received this helpful guest blog post — which is relevant to all summer home sellers. Enjoy these seven tips:

Summer home selling tips Summer is hot! And it can be a sizzling time to sell a home, but you can make it even hotter by avoiding common mistakes. When your house goes on the market during the summer, be on the lookout for these oversights that can cool off buyers and turn them away.

Common Summertime Seller Mistakes:

Overgrown Yard: When you’re checking off the packing list for a summer vacation, don’t  forget to hire someone to tend to the yard. Curb appeal is of vital importance in any season, but in the summer when the grass is growing rapidly, it can quickly become an overgrown eyesore that turns off buyers before they get to the door. While you’re at it, make sure there is someone to water plants and grass to keep them nice and perky – dead plants are not attractive.

Overly Hot House: Conserving energy is very important, and a good way to do that is by setting your thermostat higher when you are not at home during the summer months. This can be a negative, though, when buyers come by to look at the house. When buyers walk in from the heat, they want a cool, refreshing, indoor experience. Don’t make a bad impression by having the indoors as hot as the outdoors. Lower the thermostat to 72 degrees and turn on the fans to circulate the air.

Darkness: When the summer sun is shining bright, don’t leave the shades drawn. Pull them back and let that natural light flow in. Dark rooms appear smaller, but light makes them look larger and cheerier. Take down any shades that are not necessary, tie back the ones that are, and open shades.

Stale Smells: When garbage is getting roasted by the sun in the big trash cans outside, it can be even stinkier than usual.  Do your best to eliminate odors. Ask a neighbor if you can put the cans at their house when buyers are on the way. Also avoid stale smells inside.  Empty all of the trash cans indoors, avoid leaving sweaty clothes in rooms, and use a natural (preferably light) scent to keep the interior smelling fresh.

Backyard Bloopers: Most people clean up the front yard and scrub down the house, but it can be a big mistake to skip the cleaning process in the back. Patios, pools, and outdoor furniture will be on buyers’ minds when house hunting in summer months.  Make sure furniture is clean and placed to make the most of your backyard space no matter what size it is. If you have a pool, make sure it is clean and sparkling. Maintain the grass and keep it green. Make your backyard an oasis that buyers will not want to leave.

Humid House: Buyers will look in every room and every closet of the house. Do not let the basement or closed off areas go unattended. Place a dehumidifier in rooms that feel muggy and humid.

Thirsting for Refreshment: When buyers are searching for homes, getting in and out of the scorching car, and walking long periods in the heat, don’t leave them dying of thirst. Help them remember your house by making water bottles or lemonade readily available.

There are lots of things to consider and remember when selling your house, but correcting these summertime selling mistakes can make your house a hot buy. For more information on speeding up the home selling process, contact http://www.webuyuglyhousesdallas.com, investors that buy Dallas houses.

End guest post/

For more information on overcoming home seller frustration, read Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them.

Five More Tips on How NOT to Sell Your Home: Part II

Home Selling TipsYesterday I provided you with five tips for preventing home selling success.

Now, here are five more tips that cause home selling difficulty:

1. Fill your home up with giant, comfortable pieces of furniture so buyers can see how many things can fit into a room. No! Don’t!  Huge stuffed couches, chunky tables and plus-sized lamps make your rooms look smaller — unless you live in a castle. Lesser and lighter furniture make your rooms look bigger and helps call attention to your home, not your belongings.

2. Make your home memorable with bold statements such as vivid wall colors and lively patterns on rugs, carpets, curtains and wallpaper. Ugh! You want your home to be quiet and neutral so the maximum number of home buyers can envision their own belongings fitting into your rooms. Many buyers won’t be able to imagine your home without your paisley wallpaper and purple living room ceiling… it makes it difficult for them to envision putting their lime green couch in there!

3. Relocate clutter out of your main rooms and hide it in closets, cabinets, the garage, attic and basement. No, don’t do it! Serious buyers will want to inspect the size and condition of every area, and they’ll be turned off if they can’t see past your clutter. Instead, relocate your things to a place outside your home, such as a storage closet or a Goodwill store.

4. Carpet your bathroom so it’s colorful and cozy. Yuck! Bathrooms are the moistest place in your home and a breeding ground for germs and mildew. Instead, if you need a little color and comfort, select machine-washable area rugs and bathmats.

5. If your home is small, unattractive or nondescript, don’t worry about supplying lots of photos. The lack of photos will make house hunters want to come over and see what it looks like. Nope! Even if your home is small and the rooms are hard to shoot, you can still take numerous close ups of attractive features. The more attractive photos you have, the more you’ll capture the interest of home buyers.

For hundreds of great tips that will help you sell your home faster and stay happier while you wait, read Home Seller’s Blues and How to Beat Them. Now available in paperback and Ebook from http://www.homesellersblues.com and Amazon.com.

Five Tips to Prevent Home Selling Success… or How NOT to Sell Your Home

Home Selling TipsI hear this phrase often — I’m having a hard time selling my house!

Well, it could be caused by the current market conditions or that you live next door to the freeway. Or, you might be inadvertently doing something that’s standing in the way of selling your home.

Here are five tips that can prevent home selling success:

1. You list your house at your preferred, higher asking price for the first month or two, and then slowly lower it when you see little action. No! If you really want to sell your house quickly, it’s best to list it from the start at a price that will get maximum attention from buyers and Realtors. This will often help you avoid making further, deeper price reductions later, which can make your house look less desirable.

If your house is already listed and you need to lower the price, don’t lower it by $999. Lower it so it stands out against the competition at a price that’s just slightly below similar houses.

2. When you find a buyer, be sure to make multiple counter offers until the buyer buckles and gives you the amount you want. No! This is a good way to annoy a buyer. If you receive a reasonable offer within close range of your asking price — take it! Many a seller has kicked himself for trying to hold out for a price… and then the buyer walks away. These sellers often end up selling to another buyer for less than the first offer they received.

3. When you reach a mutually accepted selling price, ask to rent back your home for three to six months while you look to purchase another home for yourself. No! When you find a buyer, strive to be as agreeable to their terms as possible. Don’t expect a buyer to wait patiently — there are many other home sellers who’ll agree to the terms that a buyer requests.

4. When showing your home, make it as personable as possible so buyers can feel the warmth and happiness of the family who has lived there. Nooo! Buyers want a blank canvas where they can project their own lives, so hide your family photos, religious preferences and achievement awards. Unless, by chance you have an Oscar — in which case owning your home would give the buyer some bragging rights.

5. Don’t worry about fixing the small things… cracked tiles, loose cabinets, wobbly doorknobs. Buyers shouldn’t expect perfection at today’s lower home prices. Nope! Fix the small things. Buyers often assume if there are a lot of small flaws on the surface, there may be large flaws hidden from view.  Also, the more flaws a house has, the lower the offer price you’ll likely receive.

Stay tuned for five more tips for preventing home selling success! Coming soon…

Home Selling Tip: Five Upgrades You Can Do In a Weekend

Home Selling Time Help!  You say your house isn’t selling? Your house has been on the market for months and months and still no bites?

If your home selling price is right and you’re doing a good job of promoting your property far and wide, then maybe your home needs a little sprucing up.

I can hear you saying, “Hey, it’s summertime! I want to be outdoors enjoying my life, not indoors slaving away on home improvement projects!”

I hear you! This time of the year is precious.

So here’s a list of five quick home selling tips and improvements you can do in a single weekend to give your home a boost, while not sacrificing your outdoor time.

1. Replace kitchen and bath towels, area rugs, throw pillows and (or) curtains with new ones that give your home a summer splash of color. You can do this in just a few minutes and it can make a big difference in the first impression your home gives potential buyers.

2. Swap boring towel racks, toilet paper holders and curtain rods for more eye-catching varieties. You can make the swap in 30 minutes or less, depending upon how handy you are. Remember, house hunters pay attention to little details that make your home stand out in their minds.

3. Update the color of old home appliances with a coat of paint. Although this can take longer than 30 minutes, you can do this activity while enjoying a beautiful summer’s day. While you should go ahead and replace any parts that need replacing, a new coat of paint can work wonders for the look of your kitchen, if you don’t have time to do any repairs. Refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves and other small appliances can be given a new coat of “appliance specific” spray paint or brush-on color. Just be sure to follow the guidelines on both the appliances and paint cans, especially when painting heat-sensitive appliances such as ovens and range tops. (For more information on this, do an online search on “painting appliances.”) What a big difference new color will make in your kitchen and laundry room… especially if you’re repainting those harvest gold, avocado green, or Coppertone red appliances from the 1970′s!

4. Hang a mirror in a small room or in an area where it will amplify light streaming through a window. Here’s a 60-second project with an immediate payoff in terms of making a room look larger and brighter.

5. Wash off the exterior of your home. While you’re spraying down the kids or your camping gear, take a few minutes to spray off your exterior walls, doors, fences and windows. Sparkling clean surfaces will make your house look well-cared for… as well as more valuable.

Now, for the last step…. take some quality photos of the improvements you’ve made and add them to your home promotion material and websites. And while you’ve got your camera out, this is a great time to capture images of your summer garden, which you can use to show off how your property looks in all four seasons.