Jan. 19, 2015

How to Live in a Staged Home



Check out this awesome blog we found on Prepthishouse.com

So you've joined the bandwagon. You finally made the decision to sell. You've gone through deep cleaning, decluttering and home staging to make your home attractive and move-in ready. And just like what we always tell you, it’s like living in a hotel suite.

But there’s always a ‘but’. Suddenly, you realized that don’t have hotel maid service or a personal chef, instead you have 2 pets and 3 kids who always run around, jump on the sofa and love to play follow-the-trail-of-random-stuff-to-find-me game.

Welcome back to reality.

You are now faced with a  frightening realization that you need to be able to keep your house just the way it looks right now… because people will be visiting anytime, and sometimes with short notice.

Don’t panic. All your preparation is going to pay off if you maintain your home just the way it is and the inconvenience you are experiencing will be over soon.. when there is a SOLD sign on your front lawn.

So, the question is how will you be able to live comfortably in a staged home if you have a small home, pets and kids?

Here’s how to live in a staged home:

First off, make sure that these 3 post-staging tasks are covered:

Take pictures of your home right after it was staged for a visual reference. How all the items are displayed creates a visual impact so make sure to take close photos of groupings as well as full house shots.

Get the family involved. Assign rooms to each and write instructions on how to keep their respective areas tidy and clean.

Create a daily checklist of chores and again, assign members of the family to help you out. This will help you keep up with people coming in and out of the house.

Basically, there are only two major rules to follow:

#1 Live Clean

Use a splatter guard when cooking and try not to cook food that has strong, lingering odor until the house passed inspections and has been approved.

Don’t let dirty dishes stay exposed in the sink. Wash dishes immediately or put them in the dishwasher. Chances are, there might be people who want to pay a visit who are less than 5 minutes away.

Keep your sponges, scrubs, brushes, dish soap, etc. hidden in one place where you can easily grab them if you need them. Preferably under the sink.

Dirty clothes are not supposed to be on the floor. They belong to the hamper.

Make dusting and vacuuming a regular thing.

Always keep the bathroom and kitchen clean and dry after every use.

Always use coasters to prevent water stains!

Use Zep or Febreeze if you have pets. Keep these odor eliminators (whichever brand you prefer) handy to instantly refresh drapes, rugs, etc.

#2 Live Tidy

As soon as you get up in the morning, make the beds first. If you have small kids and they are not fond of doing this, create a fun game out of it. For example, reward your children with something they like if they manage to make their beds 7/week

Keep your towels dry and smelling clean by tossing them in the dryer and put them back on the bar folded nicely.

Make it a habit to put back newspapers, books, and magazines where they were placed by the home stager.

Keep large trash bags where you can throw stuff that collects around the house. Stow it in your trunk before you drive off when there is a showing.

Delegate special bins where your kids can put their toys, books, and clothes.

Pack prescription drugs in a grab-and-go-case if you need them before leaving the house.


Posted in Home Tips
Dec. 30, 2014

10 Interior Design Trends That Turn Off Home Buyers

Have you ever wondered, "What were they thinking?!" while watching a design show? CityBlast recently posted a list of the Top 10 Design Trends That Turn Off Buyers.


You want your home to look its best, and maybe you’ve been inspired by the interior design trends you’ve seen in magazines, on TV or on design websites.

But following some of the hottest home remodeling and interior design trends can backfire when it comes time to sell your home.

Buyers want to picture themselves in a home, and highly individualistic touches can get in the way of that.

When you’re ready to sell your home, it’s best to put things in pristine, move-in condition and remove all of the individual touches that made your house a home.

After all, your goal is to get potential buyers to picture themselves in the home—and they won’t be able to do that if your decorating style still dominates.

Check out the caveats that go along with these home interior design trends.


1. Boldly Painted Walls

Decorators often tout black or another bold paint color as the perfect backdrop to metallic accessories or appliances in modern home design.

The reality is that people prefer the exterior and interior walls of a home to be neutral. Even though repainting is cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s still a pain and buyers might not want to bother.

When decorating, your best bet is to stick to an appeasing hue for the walls and use accessories to provide pops of color.


2. Wallpaper

Bold, graphic patterns increasingly are being incorporated into interior design, often in the form of wallpaper.

But wallpaper—even if it’s only on one wall—is an extremely personal choice and time-consuming to remove if it doesn’t appeal to the buyer

Consider replacing wallpaper with a neutral paint for broader appeal.


3. Lavish Light Fixtures

While potential buyers want rooms that seem airy and bright, beware of installing a showpiece light fixture that is too modern or ornate.

Fixtures should enhance your home—not steal the spotlight.


4. Gleaming Gold

Designers may be mixing silver and gold to give homes star quality, but it might be wise to change out fixtures if they have the wrong metallic sheen.

Gold can give a home an outdated, ’80s feel. Switching out the faucet and door handles with a more appealing finish—such as brushed nickel—is relatively inexpensive and can help make your home appear sleek rather than out of style.


5. Converted Garages

People want a covered parking space so that they have a safe place for their car—especially in areas where street parking is at a premium. Additionally, people often use their garage as storage space.

If you convert your garage into a space tailored your specific needs, such as a music practice room, it may not suit your potential buyers.


6. Converted Bedrooms

Like with the garage, people want rooms built for their original purpose.

If you’ve converted an unused bedroom to an office, walk-in closet, or a game room, make sure you can easily convert it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell.


7. Carpets

While designers love to play with the texture of shag carpeting as it feels soft underfoot, the majority of home buyers prefer hardwood floors.

People assume carpets trap dirt, germs and odors, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of steam cleaning their home before they can move in. Potential buyers also don’t want to spend time removing carpet to expose hardwood floors.

If someone really loves carpet, it’s much easier for them to add it themselves—after the purchase.


8. Too-Lush Landscaping

The “outdoor living room” is all the rage, and you may be tempted to build out your backyard into a lavish wilderness of flowers.

But potential buyers may be hesitant to buy a home with an overly landscaped property requiring a lot of maintenance.

Focus on creating or maintaining a nice and neat outdoor space that people can enjoy without too much fuss.


9. Pools and Hot Tubs

A pool may seem like a luxurious feature, but it can be a big turnoff for buyers.

Pools are perceived to be expensive to maintain and potential safety hazards, especially for families with children. Above-ground pools are eyesores and can leave a dead spot in the backyard.

These sentiments extend to hot tubs, too. Many people see hot tubs as breeding grounds for bacteria, and they are not a feature easily removed from the deck or back yard.


10. Fancy (or Not) Pet Products

Sales of pet products are expected to increase nearly $3 billion from last year, and there’s an increasing market for luxury pet items.

But even animal lovers don’t want to see another family’s pet paraphernalia in a potential home. Even if your home is immaculate, the presence of pet-related items will give the impression that it’s dirty.

Be sure to remove all traces of your pet—including toys, food dishes and photos—before listing your home for sale.

Posted in Home Tips
Dec. 23, 2014

Building your dream home? 6 Tips to Consider before Buying Land

Tips for Buying a Lot to Build Your Home

With prices at an all-time low over the last few years, now may be the perfect time to buy land for your future dream home. Before you do so, make sure to do your homework before submitting an offer. You don’t want to end up with property that is a hassle, doesn't meet your building requirements, or that causes you unforeseen expenses. Here are a few tips that can help you save a lot of stress (and money) when purchasing land. 


  1. Check Zoning. Check with your real estate agent to ensure the land is zoned residential. You’ll also want to check zoning for neighboring properties because don’t want a big industrial building being built next to your home. Zoning will also tell you the distance required between your future home and the lot lines (called setback requirements) and any height restrictions for the home. Once you have the zoning setback requirements, you can start to get an idea of what size home you can build.
  2. Review Homeowner’s Association (HOA) Requirements: If you are purchasing land in a subdivision, you’ll need to check with the homeowner’s association (if there is one) to find out if there are any restrictions on the height of homes or if they limit the distance to a body of water. Some municipalities have established setback requirements from lakes to preserve the natural beauty. The homeowner’s association will also be able to give you any architectural restrictions including maximum and minimum square footage of the home, material requirements (siding, roof, etc.), and architectural style requirements. Also ask your real estate agent if there are any easements on the property. Easements give the right to enter the property for a given reason…maybe to run utilities or repair utilities in the future or maybe to provide access for the neighboring property. Unfortunately, you cannot build in these areas so it’s good to know where they are located.
  3. Review Utilities: You will also want to know what utilities are run to the site. This includes electric, phone, cable, gas, sewer and water. If some of these are not available, you will most likely have additional building costs to allow for this utility set up. Sometimes the utility companies will bring service to your site in order to get your business but it really depends on how much effort/expense is involved. If you don’t have city sewer or water available, you will need a septic system and well. Check with the current owner to see if a perk test has been done. This test determines the capacity of the soil for the septic system and will give you an idea of the type of system required. If you need help determining the local utility providers, check with your Realtor. 
  4. Determine Fees to Build: Before purchasing your dream lot, you will want to make a trip down to your county’s building and public works department to get a list of fees for building your new home. Be sure to ask if they know of any other fees that you will incur, including permit fees, driveway connection fees, impact fees, tree clearing fees, and water and sewer connection fees (if available). 
  5. Legal Review: As with any real estate transaction, consult with your attorney to review the contract. An attorney will recommend you have a title search done to make sure there are no liens or encumbrances on the property. You may also want to have a clause added to the contract to protect you from any abnormal subsurface items. Since you cannot see under the ground, you may want to protect yourself in case the soil is unsuitable to support the home.
  6. Visit Property at Different Times: When evaluating properties, visit them at different times of day and different days of the week. You will want to look for any nuisances or annoyances that may not be there all the time. For example, is the property within an airport’s flight path or is there a nearby train that rolls through only at night.


Building your own home is a great way to get exactly what you want and save money. Call one of our Expert Real Estate Team professionals to help you with each of these steps and to avoid being surprised by extra expenses and hassles when you’re ready to build your dream home. 

Posted in Buying
Dec. 10, 2014

Ready to Sell Your Home? 6 Interview Questions to Select the Right Realtor

Ready to Sell? 6 Interview Questions for Realtors

Not all real estate agents are the same and every agent claims to be the best. It’s your job as the seller to find the right person to take on the responsibility of selling your home. To find the right real estate agent for you, you’ll need to interview potential candidates to ask the right kind of questions. Here are a few to help get you started.

  1. How long have you been selling real estate? You want to find out how long a Realtor has been in business but keep in mind. A seasoned real estate agent will be able to prepare you when issues come up and be able to solve those problems. However, more experience does not always mean the agent is better. Younger agents can be hungrier for the sale. If a young agent is supported by a team of seasoned real estate professionals, he or she may be the best candidate to sell your home. It is important to consider which answer to this question would be most appropriate for you.
  2. How many homes did you sell in the last year? Of course you want to hear that the agent has sold hundreds of homes in the last year. You want to see a track record of success. Consider asking the agent the same question for the last three years. You want to see that the agent performs regularly year after year despite dips in the economy.
  3. Can you tell me the average number of days the homes were on the market? You’ll want to hire a Realtor that will hit the ground running on day one after you've listed your home. By asking this question, you’ll determine how hard the agent works at pricing the home just right and the marketing tactics they use to help sell your home. Remember that pricing a home right is the biggest factor in selling a home quickly. One of the top home seller mistakes when choosing a Realtor is picking someone based on the price they give you (thinking that is the price you want to hear). A good real estate agent factors in market conditions and recent sales in the area to accurately price your home. A home that is accurately priced will sell quicker than an overpriced home. If you’re goal is to sell your home quickly, choose an agent that truthfully prices your home and works hard from day one to get the job done. 
  4. Do you have a team or an assistant? Who will be the primary person to communicate with me? An agent that is busy selling homes cannot handle day to day tasks such as paperwork and showing feedback. A good agent will have a team of resources that will assist in the sale of your home. Ask questions about the agent’s team. For example, who will communicate with me? What is their role within your team? As a seller you’ll want to know that the real estate agent you choose is making your home their priority. While you want an agent that has the forethought and resources to hire assistance, you also want someone who makes communications with you and with buyers a priority. Your agent should stay in regular contact with you about what is going on with your sale. Find out more about your agent’s communication plan to ensure you are choosing the right agent to represent you in the sale of your home.
  5. How will you use the Internet to market my home? Most buyers start their home search on the Internet. The right agent knows that online presence is important including having an easy to use website that can track who is viewing your property. Also, choose an agent that has the ability to promote listings using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+). The agent you choose should be using modern methods to be in front of more people promoting your home and their business. There are lots of ways of promoting real estate through social media. Real Estate agents that understand this become very visible online and it shows!
  6. How will you photograph my home? Can you help make my home more marketable? A good real estate agent is skilled on how to take good photos of your home. If they can’t, a good real estate agent will hire a professional photographer. As we said earlier, buyers begin their home search on the internet and if you don’t have high quality photos of your home online, your home may be overlooked. Also, a good agent will give you tips on how to properly stage your home to make it more desirable for buyers. A good real estate agent will not be afraid to point of your homes’ flaws. There are agents who don’t for fear of losing out on the opportunity to list your home. The best real estate agents never worry about losing business. They always keep the clients best interests at heart.

Finally, take time to make a proper decision. Selling your home can be stressful and you want this to be a smooth process. Use the questions above to help you choose the right agent to sell your home. Contact one of our Expert Real Estate Team members today and we’d love to answer these questions for you. 

Posted in Selling
Dec. 1, 2014

Use a Realtor to Help You Work with a Builder

Use a Realtor to Work with Builder

Building a new home can be both exciting and challenging:  challenging because of the many decisions required and exciting to create your dream home.  Below are tips to help understand what is involved in building a new home and ways working with the Expert Real Estate Team can help you work more effectively with a builder.

When Selecting Your New Home 

  1. Bring your Realtor when Visiting with the Builder. The first time you visit with a builder or a new home community, bring your real estate broker who will help you work with the builder.  You are spending your money and investing your time in building your new home so take advantage of your realtor’s new construction experience, insight into working with builders, and negotiating skills.  Having someone on your side to help you work with the builder is an advantage to you. Builders have the real estate broker fee built into their pricing yet won’t deduct it if you decide not to use them.
  2. Know what is included in a base model and know what upgrades will cost. A home builder should give you a list of what is included in the base model of a home. Keep in mind when you visit a model home, most feature upgrades and these can be expensive. For example, if the woodwork is painted, is the color in the model the standard or an upgrade?  Are all recessed lights shown included?  Is the garage interior finished?  Is the wall texture standard?  A real estate agent will know the questions to ask and be able to help you review the upgrade list to help you understand what is standard and what may be a good investment to make upgrades in the home. 
  3. Consider the location of the lot. In a new home community, certain lots are considered better than others and those particular lots can be more expensive. For example, lots that are considered to be more private, or have waterfront or golf course views. A real estate agent can help make you aware of these costs and help you choose what is right for your budget. 
  4. Additional Costs to Consider. When building a home, consider other costs that are not included in the builder’s price – the cost of new appliances, window treatments, landscaping, and others. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will help you realize these extra costs and prepare for them properly. 
  5. Writing a Contract. When writing a contract, you will be required to use the builder’s contract written by their lawyers.  Your real estate agent can help you to understand the terms set out in the contract and how they will affect you.  Get a list of deadlines for selections you need to make and know what comes standard and prices for the upgrades you select.  Also, ask if the builder is offering any incentives, which could include upgrades or price reductions. 

The Build Process 

  1. Stay organized. Keep all important paperwork including product selections, contracts, and change orders in a safe place. Make selections for paint colors and fixtures early so you don’t delay the building process and sign off on selections only when you are certain.  If you change your mind, most builders will charge a fee to make revisions.
  2. Ask for samples of the products you choose. When visiting with vendors, request samples of the selections you've made for paint, cabinets and flooring. Make sure to bring those samples with you to ensure all the items you select throughout this process work well together. 
  3. Visit your home during the build. Visit the site regularly to ensure your home is built to your specifications. Make sure you know who to contact should you have a problem during the building process. 

Building a home can be a rewarding process but it can also be a stressful process. Work with a real estate agent to have someone represent you during this time. It’ll be worth it in the end. Contact the Expert Real Estate Team today to find the home you’d like to build today!

Posted in Buying
Nov. 17, 2014

7 Flaws to Ignore When House Hunting

In the market for a house? You probably have a list of your must-haves — a big backyard, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors — but sticking to that list may actually cause you to overlook your dream home! Put that checklist away and consider these 7 things that may be worth ignoring when looking for your next home. 

1. An “Older” Home. Newer does not always mean better. Some homes that were built years ago were built with solid, quality materials that may be sturdier than homes being built today. In addition, these homes have a classic style with more charm and character in comparison to homes that are built today. 

2. Weird Paint Colors. Yes, bright and bold colors may not be your taste, but try to look past bad color choices. Focus on the space and layout of the room. Paint is a cheap and easy fix for any home. 

3. No Curb Appeal. If you don’t get a “wow” impression when you first visit a home, consider what the home would look like if you change the color of the front door or plant new landscaping. For little cost and effort, the home could be just what you’re looking for. 

4. That Old Refrigerator. Sure everyone wants new or updated appliances in their kitchen, but the home shouldn’t be discounted completely if the appliances don’t live up to your expectations. Even if you cannot afford all new appliances right now, these are items that can be replaced over time. 

5. Nasty Flooring. Most new homeowners want to change something in their new home and flooring is usually the first to go. There are many low-cost flooring solutions out there. Homeowners can choose from a variety of durable carpet solutions or hardwood/laminate flooring. 

6. Popcorn Ceilings. Although a hit in the 80s, popcorn ceilings are not very attractive. If you’ve found a great home but the only problem is the textured ceiling, call a ceiling specialist to come scrape off the texture. They can have it done in just a matter of days – just make sure you have it done before you move in. It is a messy job that you should leave to the experts. 

7. Lack of Privacy. Don’t discount a home because you see into your neighbor’s yard or dining room window. Put up a hedge and you’ve instantly solved the problem. If your budget allows, install a privacy fence. 

Buyers, pay attention to the overall layout of the home, the size of the rooms, the construction of the home, and the neighborhood. The right home may not be instantly perfect, but with a little imagination it can be! 


Posted in Buying