6 Common Mistakes Made When Selling a Home, and How to Avoid Them

Selling a home can be a complex process. To keep it hassle-free from for-sale to sold, consider these common mistakes people make when selling their homes – and avoid making them yourself.

1. Skimping on necessary repairs

Some sellers ignore major repairs in hopes of closing the sale before anyone notices. However, if the home inspector catches detrimental damage, it will likely halt the sale until repair – or an agreement – can be made.

To save yourself the hassle and to streamline the selling process, assess any serious repairs before listing your home. It may feel unnecessary to repair a home you’re soon to leave, but it could help you pass inspection – and possibly get top dollar – on your property.

2. Not prepping the house for showings

Your home is bound to be filled with mementos, photographs, kitchen magnets and all of the wonderful details that make it unique to you. But an important part of preparing your home for showings is to minimize knick-knacks.

To do so, store away any clutter that would distract an interested homebuyer when they enter a room or open a closet or cabinet. Tidy up all surfaces, including bookshelves, end tables and kitchen countertops. By cleaning up messes, you’ll help rooms appear larger, so buyers will be able to envision their own belongings in the space.

Don’t forget about curb appeal. Buyers will likely form an opinion of your home before they enter the front door. When you clean and stage the interior of the home, head outside and give a bit of TLC to the exterior too. Depending on the season, this could include anything from weeding mulch beds, putting out planters or touching up chipped paint on the house’s exterior.

3. Using inadequate listing photos

Listing photos can make all the difference when attracting homebuyers who begin the homebuying process online. Digital listings for even the most magnificent of homes will receive far fewer clicks if they aren’t presented with high-quality photos.

For example, photos with ample lighting can help a room appear spacious. As mentioned above, prepping the home before listing it for sale by cleaning and decorating helps ensure that photos capture each room looking polished and sophisticated.

4. Listing it FSBO

Sellers who list their homes for sale by owner, otherwise known as FSBO, could face major setbacks along the way and may even end up receiving significantly less money in return. In order to ensure the sale is legally sound, and that you’re receiving competitive offers, it’s important to hire a real estate agent.

As your representative in the sale, a real estate agent will offer guidance and make sure the process goes smoothly. Qualified agents dedicate their lives to helping people navigate the buying or selling process – so why attempt it alone?

5. Setting an inflated price

Be realistic and timely when setting an initial listing price. Read up on your local housing market to learn the current trends of buyers and sellers. For example, selling in a seller’s market may mean that you list your home for sale at a higher price to account for the increased demand.

Hiring a real estate agent, who can help guide you to a fair listing price, can be critical. Sometimes, setting a price that is disproportionate to the value of the property means that the home will sit on the market for days on end. Accordingly, buyers who see a home sitting on the market endlessly without any movement may question the integrity of the home.

6. Underestimating costs associated with the process

Before your home hits the market, make sure you’re aware of the costs associated with the process. While your initial investment may be some routine repair, staging and professional listing photos, bear in mind that, as the sale progresses, you’ll typically be paying for closing costs, moving expenses and fees associated with hiring a real estate agent.

Consider these costs to be investments. The return is when you receive higher value back on your home due to how it was presented to interested buyers or how it was represented by an experienced real estate professional. That said, make sure to budget for these costs in advance to avoid any surprises.

4 Features Fall Buyers Want in Prospective Homes

Over the past six months, the course of daily life has greatly changed and, with COVID-19 still present as autumn approaches, homebuyers’ desires have shifted accordingly.

Looking to sell your home? Here are a few features homebuyers are on the lookout for when they tour houses this fall. Consider giving these spaces extra love and attention when preparing to list a house for sale.

  1. Flexible spaces

Homes now function as office spaces and classrooms while still being the place to rest at the end of the day. Homebuyers are seeking interior layouts that can adapt to the changing times. Having multiple spaces to conduct business, take calls or complete classes – while a family member cooks in the kitchen – feels essential when multiple people are home during the day.

Desirable multipurpose spaces may include extra bedrooms – like having a guest room that can operate as a workspace – and finished basements.

  1. Energy-efficient features

With winter right around the corner, interested homebuyers are seeking energy-efficient features for a sustainable household. With so much more time being spent at home these days, people are likely to use resources like water and electricity more than ever.

Some in-demand features that help cut back utility bills include insulated windows, updated appliances and smart thermostats.

  1. Room to workout

Boutique fitness classes and destination gyms dominated the workout space. Since the onset of COVID-19, however, there is a resurgence in the demand for home gyms. And, even as some fitness studios have taken their classes to online platforms, people are rolling out yoga mats on their living room floors with no other place to find Zen.

When searching for homes this fall, interested buyers want a space to workout inside the house, especially with colder weather soon impeding on outdoor recreation.

  1. Extra storage

Pick up a new hobby in recent months? Most people are maxed out on storage space and are seeking even more room to store their new equipment. Increased closet space, attics and garages continue to be desired elements for those searching for a new home this fall.

4 Ways to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Square footage determines how big a home is, but painting, furnishings and decorating can affect how big a home feels. Looking to make a small space feel bigger? A few simple cosmetic changes can help.

Consider these four ways to make any small space in your home appear more spacious.

  1. Incorporate mirrors

Create the illusion of expansive walls with the addition of a mirror. This elegant touch can save a room from art-overload, which happens when too much pattern and color collide in a small space. A mirror also creates depth, which is always a plus.

Best of all, mirrors reflect natural light, potentially doubling the amount of sunlight streaming into the room. That alone will make the space feel bigger.

  1. Try lighter colors

Especially in small spaces, lightness means brightness. A fresh coat of light-colored paint in a cramped room creates an inviting atmosphere by mimicking natural light. For those who enjoy brighter colors, white walls are a fresh blank canvas for other elements.

If repainting needs to stay on the to-do list for the time being, try adding pops of light color on décor around the room. In a small living room, for example, give the sofa a makeover with white linen throw pillows and a neutral throw blanket – or opt for other quick fixes like bright new lampshades.

  1. Streamline furniture

If you’re looking to make a bigger change to a small space, reconsider the size of the current furniture. When every piece is chunky, a room tends to look crowded. A few sleek pieces of furniture will open up floor space and let you showcase larger items like an heirloom hutch or statement coffee table. Aim to make your furniture proportionate to the size of the room.

Also, don’t underestimate the impact of window accessories. Long drapes are popular for making ceilings look higher – hang them well above the window frame to show-off the full length of the wall. Sometimes, simply replacing old, heavy curtains with unobtrusive shades can make a major difference.

  1. Get rid of clutter

While purging clutter around the house benefits your well-being in multiple ways, it also makes your rooms appear bigger and less stuffy. Go minimalist and simplify surfaces like walls, bookshelves and end tables, reserving those areas for a select few favorite pieces.

In the end, making a small space feel bigger is mostly about the balance between personal flair and a clean, uncluttered ambiance.

Home Furnishings Trend: Brass is Back

After years of chrome, stainless steel, and nickel being the shining stars of interior metals, brass is back and starting to steal the show.

As with many home furnishings trends, the comeback was inspired by what’s occurring in fashion. In this case, gold and rose gold watches became influencers a few years ago, says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design, who thinks that home furnishings styles tend to be cyclical. Now he’s adding small brass details to rooms in the same way a gold watch might peek out of a shirt cuff.

Using brass now is an easy, affordable way for homeowners to customize and stay on trend.  “Many people want a warmer look, which is also visible in fabrics as warmer colors return,” Segal says.

Erin Imhof, showroom supervisor at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lansdale, Pa., has noted an increase in brass finishes. She attributes it to how they complement a wide range of colors and other finishes. “Many of today’s top color trends for kitchens and bathrooms, including all-white, blue, and black, pair beautifully with brass fixtures,” she says.

Others concur that brass is a universal mixer. “Our designers like to integrate brass into their designs, whether it’s an accent like a decorative bowl, object of art, light fixture, or metal base on an end table,” says Julie Sprouse, design sales manager at Ethan Allen, the home furnishings chain based in Danbury, Conn.

Caitie Smithe, a design coordinator and stylist at the Walter E. Smithe Furniture + Design retailer based in Itasca, Ill., also considers brass a material that can be used throughout a home, including light fixtures, hardware, and even light switches and vent controls. Other good places to use brass include bathroom hardware, plumbing fixtures such as sinks, and accessory details like candleholders or picture frames.

Here are five tips for using brass that you can pass on to your clients.

1. Use sparingly. Brass works best when used in small doses. Too much can create a “too matchy-matchy” look, according to Smithe. Overuse can make it start to look cheap, says Segal. “Moderation is key,” he says.

2. Mix finishes. Brass appears more timeless rather than trendy when it’s matte, brushed, or aged, which helps soften its sheen, Segal says. But be careful, Smithe says, when mixing brasses in a single space from different manufacturers. “There is a huge range in color and brightness. Some take on a bright yellow color while others can be more of an aged gold,” she says.

3. Combine warm metal colors. Brass, gold, and bronze can work well together since they share similar warm values versus shiny nickel, which leans toward the colder side, says Sprouse.

4. Mix metals. Some designers also think brass, satin, brushed nickel, stainless steel, and oil-rubbed bronze can be used together. But Imhoff still offers some caution. “Go with similar warm, muted undertones for some consistency,” she says. Chicago designer Summer Thornton likes mixing metals, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms where she might use brass, nickel, and steel combinations.

5. Consider longevity. How long brass will stay fashionable is unknown. When it becomes too ubiquitous in retail stores, shelter magazines, and on design websites, it may be time to move on. The good news is that brass touches are easy to add in and switch out.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

Home Offices Expected to Become Essential for Buyers

As more people shift to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate professionals predict that a home office will become a hot amenity for the long term. Fifty-five percent of homeowners and practitioners recently surveyed by remodeling website Houzz say they have a home office. A quarter of respondents say they work from their dining room or kitchen table, and 11% work from their sofa.

Respondents report that the top challenges of a sudden shift to working from home include finding a private or quiet location away from high-traffic living areas (30%), securing a computer with a strong Wi-Fi connection (25%), and creating a comfortable work space (25%).

Houzz U.S. editor Anne Colby offers tips for setting up an efficient work space at home, including:

  • Pick the right location. If you don’t have a dedicated space for a home office, consider transforming a spare bedroom, dining room, den, or even a backyard shed. Consider whether you want to be near family while working or need a quieter corner, Colby suggests.
  • Pay attention to the lighting. Diffuse the lights and position fixtures just right to avoid eyestrain from glares on the computer screen, Colby says. Layer lights from multiple sources—like an overhead light, desktop light, and natural light—to create the right ambiance.
  • Make it ergonomic. Keep your home office efficient and safe with the arrangement of your chair, desk, computer, keyboard, mouse, and phone. Make sure you’re comfortable. It will keep you working more productive and also prevent repetitive injuries, Colby says.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

Great News for the Real Estate Industry in WA

On Saturday, March 28th, in cooperation with Washington Realtors, Governor Inslee agreed to certain modifications to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order for the real estate industry.  Due to the fact that the vast majority of real estate brokers are abiding by the Order, several of the original restrictions on in-person activities have been revised – provided that strict protocols for social distancing are implemented.

The protocols that must be followed for the permitted in-person activities include:

  • In-person activities must be by appointment only
  • No more than two people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time
  • Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

The revisions to the Order are limited to allow the following in-person activities, provided the above protocols are followed:

  • Previews and showings of listings by appointment only
  • Listing presentations, photography, and creating virtual tours for new listings [Note: professional photographers are not considered “essential,” thus all photos must be taken by the broker or seller]
  • Inspections for pending transactions
  • Appraisals for pending transactions
  • Buyer “walk-throughs” for pending transactions prior to closing
  • Providing keys to buyers at closing

The Order strictly prohibits all other real estate brokerage services that are not conducted remotely from the broker’s home. Also, please note that staging and moving services are not considered essential and also remain prohibited by the Order.

Source: NWMLS 3/28/20

WA State Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order

Effective midnight on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, real estate brokers in the state of Washington are limited to providing services to their clients remotely from their homes using technology for a minimum of 2 weeks. You may read the document NWMLS created that provides details of how we’re effected. If you’re planning to buy or sell real estate soon, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to explain what we may do to help you prepare to be ready when the order is lifted.

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Entryway Staging Essentials

Tips for staging a stellar entryway that will leave home buyers wanting to see more:

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression – and neither does your house. When potential buyers open the front door, they form an opinion within seconds. And it’s all based on what’s in plain sight. Whether the space is grand or petite, entryway staging can influence a client’s perspective on the entire house.

To avoid a negative first impression that sends potential buyers running out the door, consider these tips for staging a stellar entryway that hints at what’s to come during the showing.

1. De-Clutter

Touring a messy home won’t give potential buyers the opportunity to visualize their fresh start. After all, they’ll want to imagine their own shoes by the door without tripping over yours. Start by removing clutter from primary surface areas, including the floor, shoe rack, and table or hutch. Ensure that items like receipts, dog leashes and mail are out of sight. If you have an entryway closet, try to eliminate and relocate 50% of its contents (like coats) for showings. A half-empty closet will appear larger and more spacious.

Leaving a few garments behind looks polished while still being realistic. For example, try hanging a simple brown tote bag on a hook by the door. Consider which of your practical pieces look best on display and keep things very minimal.

2. Maximize Storage

There are plenty of multi-functional pieces available that serve as stylish furniture while providing sneaky storage. If you have a little square footage to spare, consider a bench with built-in storage – it provides a place to sit without wasting the space below and allows more room to accessorize. Additionally, look for pieces like this hutch designed specifically for shoes that still has ample surface area to serve as your main entryway table.

For truly tiny spaces, opt for creative storage alternatives like floating shelves and wall hooks. These highly popular, functional options still provide room for on-the-go essentials without usurping the limited floor space.

3. Refine Décor

A beautiful entryway will operate as a stand-alone space rather than an afterthought. Adding a cozy rug or runner – separate from the functional doormat – can be the framework to define an entryway’s space.

Make the transition from outside to inside more gradual with the addition of houseplants. Plants promote tranquility and fill space during showings after you have minimized personal décor, like family photos. While streamlining clutter is crucial, the space can’t end up looking neglected – a potted leafy plant, like a snake plant, atop your entryway table adds a pop of natural color, while preventing the surface from looking scarce. If you’re known to be an unsuccessful plant-parent, consider a realistic-looking artificial plant. Keep the space refined by having a small basket, jar or ceramic dish on the entryway table as the go-to spot for keys and other pocket-dwelling items.

4. Keep It Clean

Even the most masterful staging won’t distract from dusty surfaces and muddy floors. Regular cleaning of the floor, front door and tabletop will keep your entryway or mudroom from looking like a genuine “mud” room. If your house is on the market during rainy or snowy seasons, consider getting a doormat that will help prevent dirty shoes from stepping foot through the door.

The Global Demand for Affordable Housing

The subject of affordable housing in cities around the world is becoming a focus of discussion as we move into the next decade. Whether it be in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Sydney, or Cape Town, academics, politicians, and developers are trying to solve the growing problem.

It cannot be a solution to the demand for housing in thriving cities, to move people further away from the city in search of cheaper places to live. The cultural issue is how to bring about significant increases in supply to city precincts without resorting to building on green belts and other open areas. Various cities will require the incumbent powers and political leaders to align with housing providers, new financial models, and the market to support low-cost housing essential to creating economically successful and enduring living places.

LA’S CRISIS

Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis is well documented. According to the annual report from the California Housing Partnership, LA county would need over half a million units of affordable housing to meet the demand from low-income renters. In most major cities around the world, the price of most market-rate units is out of reach for low-income earners.

Most definitions of affordable housing are homes affordable to those entering or in the housing market but unable to access current planned or available supply either because of income circumstances or the stage of their lives.

According to the California Housing Partnership, the crisis is more significant than single communities. No matter how hard local governments and citizens work, help is needed from state, provincial, and federal authorities. A report by Savills in Britain estimated that as many as 500,000 families a year are unable to access available housing supply.

In Sydney and Cape Town, demand for affordable housing far exceeds supply. A comparison between the 20 most affordable Sydney suburbs for low-income earners in 2006, and again in 2010, found dramatic reductions in the number of affordable properties. The suburb of Westmead, for instance, recorded a 90 percent reduction in affordable properties over the period. A study done in Cape Town by a prominent architect suggests that mixed-income high-rise residential developments have the potential to break the mold. Integrating private sector investment and provision of tax breaks to developers would allow a larger budget for better aesthetics in design, giving people from a spectrum of income groups the ability to be accommodated in previously exclusive city areas. Blended buildings would provide people with inhabiting social housing units more integrity and all the inhabitants a sense of value and strong dignity.

We have a way to go before viable solutions are found to this problem, but comfort can be found in the fact that some of the most qualified people are applying their minds to solving the global affordable housing crisis.

Source: Washington REALTORS®

Top 10 Outperforming Markets

Metro Areas NAR Expects Home Price Appreciation to Outpace in the Next 3 to 5 Years

The National Association of REALTORS® identified the top metro areas taking into account a myriad of variables, including domestic migration into the area, housing affordability for new residents, consistent job growth outperforming the national average, age structure of the population, attractiveness for retirees, and the area’s home price appreciation.

In alphabetical order, the markets are:

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

Read more on the National Association of REALTORS® website…