6 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Selling Your Home

You know that expression about loose lips sinking ships? It holds true for selling your home as well. Sure, there are some things you have to disclose to buyers—such as if your home has lead paint or is located in a flood zone. But there’s plenty more you might volunteer when you would be truly better off keeping your mouth strategically shut.

We’ve already revealed the things buyers should never say to sellers. Now, let us share some things that sellers should never let slip to buyers, or the agents representing them.

To help hone your “less is more” attitude when it comes to talking with prospective buyers, here are a few doozies that agents recommend never, ever saying.

‘Our house is in perfect condition’

Your home is your castle, and in your eyes it may seem perfect—but don’t make claims that aren’t true, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker.

“The home inspection may reveal otherwise, and, as a seller, you don’t want to wind up putting your foot in your mouth,” she explains. Bottom line: “There simply is no such thing as ‘perfect condition.’ Every house, whether it is brand new or a resale, has something that needs to be fixed, adjusted, replaced, or improved upon.”

If you’re not sure what to disclose, talk to your agent about the history of the house. Together, you can figure out what is important for buyers to know. Don’t have an agent yet? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

‘It’s been on the market for X…’

Never, ever discuss how long the home has been on the market with prospective buyers, says Pam Santoro, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. This info is often listed and available on the home’s information sheet, but bringing it up—especially if the home has been available for eons—can send sellers the wrong message. No one wants to buy a white elephant—and, if they do, it’s probably because they think they’ll be getting it dirt-cheap.

‘We’ve never had a problem with…’

If you’re hoping to move quickly, you may be tempted to tell a few little white lies. So you never had a problem with weird neighbors, eh? Or flooded basements? Or vengeance-seeking poltergeists? Realtors agree that your mistruths—however insignificant they might seem—could come back to you with teeth.

“You’re setting yourself up for potential liability,” explains Ameer. “You may not even be aware of the problem at first, but it could  translate into an embarrassing moment upon inspection.” So come clean with what you know and admit what you don’t.

‘We always wanted to fix/renovate that, but…’

Tempted to mention, “We always thought about knocking this wall down and opening the space for more light?” How about “We planned on renovating this bathroom but ran out of cash”? Mum’s the word when it comes to fixes you intended to address. Nobody cares about good intentions.

“When sellers point out things they might change, this only alerts the buyer of more upcoming costs for them,” says Maryjo Shockley, a Realtor with Keller Williams. Who knows? Your buyers may not even want to knock down that wall or redo the bathroom. So why plant those ideas, along with those dollar signs?

‘We spent a ton of money on X, Y, and Z’

Just because you love the Brazilian koa wood flooring you installed throughout the first floor, that doesn’t mean prospective buyers will be willing to shell out for it.

“The buyer doesn’t care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on your kitchen,” says Ameer. “They are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth in relation to area comparable sales.” So, save your breath, or else you’ll risk sounding like you’re trying too hard to justify your price. Desperation isn’t cool.

‘I’m not taking less than X amount for my home’

When it comes time to sell, it makes sense that you want top dollar. We get it! But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range.

“If you send a message that you are inflexible or not open to negotiating, it may not invite buyers to even try to work out acceptable price and terms as they will feel defeated from the start,” says Ameer. “Word may spread that you have this sentiment as a seller, and people may start to avoid the house.”

Source: realtor.com

What the Flip? Portland Home Gets a Major Face-Lift and Gains $600K in Value

Flipping a house is a lot of work that can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make the house desirable to buyers.

Known for friendly faces, eclectic locals, and beautiful scenery, Portland, OR, has been seen as a desirable place to put down roots for a while now. It was even rated the ninth best U.S. city to live in by U.S. News & World Report. All of those benefits, plus historically low real estate inventory, mean housing prices in Portland are high. But for flippers who can nab a fixer-upper with good bones, there’s plenty of potential for profit—as this example shows.

The flippers who took on this five-bedroom, five-bathroom house made a smart move by pouncing on the well-worn property for $875,000 when it was listed in June 2019. After a full-on renovation, they put the home up for sale, and in December 2020 it was sold for $1,475,000.

So how did they raise the home’s value by $600,000 in just a year and a half—and during a pandemic, no less? The booming market wasn’t the only thing that made this home sale such a success. The fresh renovations also had something to do with making this a must-have property.

Taking into account the home’s now-stylish interior design, we asked our team of experts to look at before and after photos and weigh in on the changes that made the biggest difference in this home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

Talk about major changes! Once full of dark, drab wallpaper and a dated, textured ceiling, the living room now has a brighter, cleaner look.

“The application of white paint on everything really works well in this room,” says designer, real estate agent, and house-flipping investor Laura Schlicht. “Two of this house’s biggest assets have been artfully played up: the architectural moldings and the fantastic view.”

“It was a great move to get rid of the extra door on the side of the fireplace,” adds real estate investor and agent Molly Gallagher, of Falk Ruvin Gallagher. “There are plenty of other ways in and out of the room, and it allowed them to widen the hearth and keep the green-tiled theme going.”

Kitchen

The old kitchen was spacious, but that’s about all it had going for it. Once the flippers worked their magic, they had a kitchen that would impress any prospective buyer.

“Removing a section of the wall between the dining room and kitchen brings much more light into the kitchen, bouncing off the bright white cabinets, rather than keeping the view for the dining room itself,” says Kate Ziegler, real estate investor and real estate agent.

She adds that her top question from buyers touring homes is whether or not they can remove a wall.

“Having done this update for the buyers broadens the audience for this home, and boosts sale price as a result,” says Ziegler.

Real estate investor and agent Tracie Setliff, also with Falk Ruvin Gallagher, was impressed with the island addition.

“The island placement is perfect—it seems like it was always there and makes up for some of the storage lost by opening up the wall,” she adds.

“We love that they nod to the original lights and time period of the home with the updated light fixtures they chose,” adds Gallagher. “And they smartly chose to appeal to a wide buyer pool by not adding in some specific tile that will be dated in five years.”

Home office

Before 2020, a home office was just a bonus, but now it’s essential—whether it’s for work or school, or both. Even though this renovation was started before the coronavirus pandemic, the flippers chose to upgrade this home office in a major way, which really paid off by the time they listed the home.

“I love that they removed the old attached bookshelf,” says Setliff. “The room has an airier feel to it without the hulk of the built-in shelving. There are so many cute bookshelves that are much sleeker.”

Schlicht agreed, explaining that the built-in bookcase, while often a bonus, was actually the wrong size for the space and made the room feel crowded.

“Let’s take a moment to notice the windows,” says Ziegler. “New windows are a significant cost that most new buyers don’t want to take on in the near term—but the payback in efficiency can be remarkable. Replacing windows as part of a flip makes the whole space look more contemporary and polished, but also adds real value to the home that buyers can quantify.”

Dining room

At first glance, it may seem like the only real change in the dining room was a new coat of white paint, but Ziegler says that’s not the case. In fact, she was rather impressed with the flippers’ efforts in this room.

“The dining room demonstrates places where the investors behind this work took the time to restore and retain older details: keeping the built-in sideboard, and even the mirror detail below the smaller window shows a thoughtful approach and is indicative of more time-intensive work,” Ziegler says.

“Restoring details rather than replacing with cheaper, contemporary alternatives requires patience and care, and that attention to detail is something buyers notice even if they don’t have the vocabulary to describe it,” she adds. “The updated chandelier is trendy but also a nod to midcentury modern styling that is appropriate for a house of this age.”

Setliff is happy to see the “boring” light fixture go, in favor of the new “sophisticated, sculpturelike light.”

“Buyers do not want to have to change fixtures, as simple as it seems, and keeping it fun yet unfussy was the way to go,” she says. “It is interesting how you notice the views from the windows now that your eye isn’t drawn to the dark brown of the built-in cabinets and window trim.”

Den

This old den went from afterthought to amazing after this flip, and our experts are impressed with the results.

“Goodbye, ’60s; hello, now!” says Gallagher. “Knotty pine is best reserved for Wisconsin supper clubs these days, and today’s buyers are not interested in having a supper club theme for their den.”

“Removing drop ceilings and wood paneling is an easy, instant update, but the nicer detail here is the addition of recessed lighting,” says Ziegler. “Recessed lighting in a basement space creates the illusion of more headroom, making for a much more comfortable den. Updating the basement den adds valuable square footage that buyers might have otherwise written off as just basement space.”

And we can’t forget about the star of this room: the fireplace.

“Replacing the dated brick with a pop of green tile and the white surround and mantel transform this new den,” says Setliff.

Source: realtor.com

Common Repairs Needed After a Home Inspection: What Must Sellers Fix?

If you’re selling your home, you might wonder if there are common repairs needed after a home inspection. Most buyers, after all, won’t commit to purchasing a place until there’s been a thorough inspection by a home inspector—and rest assured, if there are problems, this professional will find them!

So if your home inspection turns up flaws that your home buyer wants fixed, what then? To be sure, repair requests after an inspection are a hassle, and liable to cut into your profits. So for starters, make sure to read your inspection contract carefully to make sure you don’t get locked into mending something you don’t want to fix.

“As a seller, you should never sign an inspection contract until you fully understand its obligations, particularly where it concerns your responsibility for fixing things,” says Michele Lerner, author of “Homebuying: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time: Smart Ways to Make a Sound Investment.”

And rest assured, there’s no need for you to fix everything a home inspector thinks could stand for improvement; a home inspection report is not a to-do list. Basically inspection repairs fall into three categories: ones that are pretty much required, according to the inspector; ones that typically aren’t required; and ones that are up for debate. Here’s how to know which is which.

Common repairs required after a home inspection

There are some fixes that will be required by lenders before they will release funds to finance a buyer’s home purchase. Typically these address costly structural defects, building code violations, or safety issues, sometimes in the attic, crawl spaces, and basement, and those related to the chimney or furnace.

An inspector will also check whether your septic system and heater are in good condition and verify whether there’s a possible radon leak or the presence of termites (homeowners tend to have many questions on these topics). Other conditions of the home that an inspector may report on include those related to the roof, electrical systems, and plumbing lines and the condition of your HVAC system.

If a home inspection reveals such problems, odds are you’re responsible for fixing them. Start by getting some bids from contractors to see how much the work will cost. From there, you can fix these problems or—the more expedient route—offer the buyers a credit so they can pay for the fixes themselves. This might be preferable since you won’t have to oversee the process; you can move out and move on with your life.

Home inspection repairs that aren’t required

Cosmetic issues and normal wear and tear that’s found by the inspector usually don’t have to be fixed.

“Some inspection contracts will expressly state that the buyers cannot request any cosmetic fixes to be made and can only ask that structural defects, building code violations, or safety issues be addressed,” says Lerner. Furthermore, “state laws may also impact your liability as a seller for any issues uncovered during an inspection.”

Be sure to check your local ordinances to know which fix-its that are found during an inspection legally fall in your realm of responsibility.

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Watch: Surprising Things Your Home Inspector Will Not Check

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Home inspection repairs that are negotiable

Between fixes that are typically required and those that aren’t is a gray area that’s up for grabs. How you handle those depends in part on the market you’re in. If you’re in a hot seller’s market, you have more power to call the shots.

“While buyers are always advised to have a home inspection so they know what they are buying, when there are a limited number of homes for sale and buyers need to compete for homes, they are more likely to waive their inspection right to ask a seller to make repairs,” says Lerner.

In fact, “the best contract for a seller would be for the buyer to agree to purchase your home as is or to request an ‘information only’ home inspection, thus absolving you of any need to pay for any fixes found by the inspector,” she adds.

However, in a normal market, you won’t be able to draw such a hard and fast line related to an inspection.

Work with your real estate agent to understand what items you should inspect and then tackle—and where you might want to push back. Don’t have an agent yet? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

Just remember: you’ll want to be reasonable when it comes to repairs because you may have already put a lot of time into the selling process, and it’s likely in your best interest to accommodate some fixes rather than allowing the buyer to walk away. Also, depending on the magnitude of the requested fix, it’s not likely to go away. Now that it’s been uncovered by the home inspector, you’ll need to disclose the issue to the next buyer.

How to negotiate home fixes

Here are two sneaky but totally effective ways to handle this home hurdle that’s been uncovered by your inspector:

  • Offer a home warranty. “I sometimes keep a $500 one-year home warranty in my back pocket as a token to ease concerns found during a home inspection,” says Kyle Springer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in Bowling Green, KY. That can come in handy if there is an element that doesn’t truly need fixing but is still worrying the buyers, such as an aging HVAC unit.
  • Barter for something of value to the buyer. Often sellers will suggest their real estate agent ask the buyer’s agent if the buyers want appliances or furniture if they have no plans to move them. Springer advises sellers to wait to make that offer until after they get the list from the inspector, because they may be able to beg off certain fixes in exchange for items such as the washer and dryer.

A home inspection can turn up all kinds of issues, but nearly all can be addressed quickly, pleasing buyers and sellers alike.

Source: realtor.com

Lessons From Listing Photos: Why This Modest Home Sold in 5 Days and Grew In Value

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

All over the country, housing markets go through boom and bust, even in normal times. But during a pandemic, you might expect that real estate would slow down, and that many buyers would hold their ground—and their cash, waiting for a moment with more economic stability.

However, last summer, when COVID-19 cases were surging and social restrictions made house hunting especially challenging in certain areas, home prices hit record highs.

In July 2020, the median home price hit a new all-time high of $349,000, according to realtor.com® data. Why? We chalk it up to a low inventory of homes, historically low mortgage interest rates, and people’s desire to own property in less crowded, less expensive locations.

In the suburban areas of Dallas, as in other suburbs around the country, home prices continued to grow as mortgage rates dropped, and city dwellers began to dream of the beauty of a little space.

That may help explain why this three-bedroom, two-bathroom home just outside the city was such a success when it hit the market in July 2020.

It took a mere five days for a buyer to come calling, and the sellers made a profit of nearly $200,000. They purchased the house in 2016 for $596,000, and just four years later, sold it for $779,000.

Of course, a popular housing market isn’t the only reason that this home sold so fast. We’re pretty sure the stylish home improvements, staging, and compelling listing photos had a lot to do with it, too.

Profits like that pique our interest, so we had to take a closer look at the interior changes that were made.

We asked our panel of design and real estate experts to pinpoint what you can glean for your own home projects from the updates the sellers made, as shown in these before and after photos.

Living room

“This room transformation is all about the magic of staging,” says Danny Davis, the owner/broker of San Diego Brokerage in Encinitas, CA.

“New shutters have been added to the windows, and the room has been painted, but beyond those smart upgrades, no major changes have been made to this lovely living room.”

Jonathan Spears, founder of Spears Group with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty, says the new furniture makes a world of difference.

“The low-profile furniture upgrades are thoughtfully arranged to create a welcoming space,” he says, “allowing for a more comfortable atmosphere.”

As you can see, the color palette—seen in the wall paint, furniture, and accessories—has also been updated.

“They’ve used color in a really smart way,” says Nicole Michael, founder of the Los Angeles and Orange County-based interior design firm Nicole Michael Designs.

“These neutral colors, like the gray sofa, are far more in style than the colors used in the before photos, as are the pops of ginger-colored accents. Adding in pops of color to the bookcases makes them stand out as the great feature they are.”

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Watch: Point, Shoot, Sell? To Show Off Your Home, Avoid These Listing Photo Mistakes

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Kitchen

This kitchen update demonstrates that you don’t need to undergo a major renovation to make a strong impact.

“The cabinets, countertops, appliances, and even the under-cabinet lighting have all remained the same,” says Davis.

“Keeping the existing cabinets and appliances saved thousands of dollars,” says Michael.

“The use of aged brass finishes for the lighting, cabinet hardware, and faucet are right on trend. When you have the same color/material traveling through a room, it unifies a space and instantly elevates it.”

She adds that the new, lighter flooring makes the room feel much larger than it did before.

Davis also approves of the new banquette seating in the breakfast nook, which he says provides extra seating and storage.

“The result is a spacious, modern, light, bright kitchen that any home buyer could easily imagine themselves in,” he says.

Bathroom

Most of the home received merely cosmetic updates, and it’s likely that every penny saved was poured into the more substantial expansion of this bathroom.

“The bathroom has literally gone from eyesore to selling point,” says John Atamian, a Glendale-based real estate agent.

“And while this extensive renovation is somewhat costly, these upgrades will more than pay for themselves in value added.”

“So many elements in the before photo—the plastic laminate countertop, single-lever faucet, and molded sink—look like a rental apartment, not a single-family home. The after photo, on the other hand, has the spa feeling that home buyers absolutely love,” says Michael.

The experts agreed that the black and white color choices make the room feel crisp and clean, exactly the kind of vibe every bathroom needs.

Davis focused on the change he thinks made the biggest impact.

“Here is one absolute truth I have learned from my many years in real estate: Couples do not want to share a bathroom sink, and dual vanities are high on most home buyers’ lists for that reason,” he says.

Bedroom

While both iterations of this bedroom look cozy and comfortable, the after photo cultivates a more modern vibe, with boho-Scandinavian furnishings. The area rug, bench, and nightstands are all pieces we’d expect to see in current design magazines.

Michael got into more details, explaining the the new gray walls appeal to more buyers. She also says the headboard—which is now the same color as the walls—blends into the room to make the space feel larger.

The sellers pulled a similar trick by changing the fan from wood-toned to white.

“Home buyers want the functionality of ceiling fans, but they don’t necessarily like the look of them,” she says.

So why do all these changes—both big and small—draw in so many more potential buyers? Davis summed it up best.

“A home buyer needs to imagine themselves living in a home when they view it, and ultimately, they want to believe their life will be better if they buy this home,” he says. “Adding glamour, light, and modern flair to a room will have a potential home buyer swooning.”

Source: realtor.com

8 Red Flags Home Buyers Will Undoubtedly Notice—and How To Address Them Correctly

When my husband and I were house hunting, properties that had plastic taped over the windows or draft catchers below the exterior doors gave us pause: Did that mean the house wasn’t energy-efficient or warm enough in colder months? Newly retouched areas on the ceiling made us wonder if the sellers were covering up water damage from a leaky roof that had been patched but not replaced.

We weren’t wrong to be spooked.

“When buyers walk into a home, they want to know it’s been well-maintained,” says Lynn Pineda, a Realtor® with eXp Realty in Southeast Florida. “Corroded air-conditioning vents, loose hinges on cabinets, and leaky faucets lead buyers to think, ‘If the seller can’t keep these things up, what big things are lurking behind the walls that haven’t been taken care of?’”

As a seller, you should already know that legally, you can’t hide any major problems with the house. So if your home needs some attention, don’t slap on a quick fix—you’re not fooling anybody, and you may just send potential buyers straight back out the door, says Chicago-based Frank Lesh, ambassador for the American Society of Home Inspectors.

“Sellers have to be careful not to put lipstick on a pig,” he cautions. “Just do the right thing, fix the problem, and make the deal go through a lot smoother for everybody.”

Here’s how to tackle eight common repairs properly to swing the odds in your favor.

1. A fresh coat of paint on one room’s ceiling

The issue: A stained ceiling, possibly from a leak

“When we inspectors see cans of new stain-killing primers in the garage, we know that something happened,” says Lesh.

Do this instead: If you paint over a stain without making sure you don’t have an active leak, that stain can reappear in a month, adds Lesh, so bring in a professional who can rule out a leaky roof or some other problem.

2. Bathroom water is shut off

The issue: Your toilet runs constantly

Do this instead: “The most common failure is the flapper in the toilet tank. There may be debris caught under it, preventing it from closing, and flappers wear out and need to be replaced from time to time,” says Lesh. “This is an inexpensive repair that any handy person can do.”

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Watch: These Little Flaws in Your Home Are a Big Deal to Buyers

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3. Newly painted trim

The issue: Wooden window frames past their prime

“A lot of times people paint over rotten wood, and think nobody’s going to see that, but we can tell that it’s rotting. We just put our fingernail on the trim to see if it goes through the wood,” says Lesh.

Do this instead: Pull out the rotten trim and replace it.

4. Lights are off in just one room

Issue: Flickering lights in that room

Do this instead: “Electrical issues can be dangerous, so if you’ve tried the lightbulb in another fixture and it works, then there may not be power going to the light,” says Lesh.

Pick up an inexpensive voltage tester, which lights up when electricity is present at the switch and fixture, he suggests. A handy homeowner may be able to trace the problem, but to be safe, call an electrician to make sure the wiring is correct.

“Old wiring can be a concern to some buyers, so sellers are better off just fixing it ahead of time,” adds Pineda.

5. Small space heaters or air conditioners set up

Issue: Some rooms are too cold or too warm

“If a home has central air conditioning, but in one room you see an additional AC unit sitting there, buyers are going to wonder why it’s not working,” says Pineda.

Do this instead: If you have a forced-air furnace, check to make sure the furnace filter, blower fan, ductwork, and grills are clean, advises Lesh.

“Sometimes debris clogs the system, and the further the cold room is away from the furnace, the harder it is to get heat,” he explains. “If you have radiators or baseboard units, make sure they’re clean and not obstructed.

“If the colder rooms are over an unconditioned space like a garage, then there may be poor insulation in that room, which will make the room harder to heat and cool,” Lesh adds. “A home inspector who uses an infrared camera should be able to find the problem.”

6. Dehumidifier and air freshener in place

Issue: A bad smell in a damp room

“It raises my radar when I see or smell that,” says Lesh. “That’s a real tipoff, because either there’s mold or mildew, or something else.”

Do this instead: “There’s typically a root cause for a room being damp, so you want to correct the cause, not put a Band-Aid on it,” Lesh says. “If there’s moisture getting in the house, that moisture is generally coming from outside. Figure out how to prevent water from getting in, not how to handle it after it gets in.”

7. Plastic wrap taped across every window

Issue: Old, drafty windows

Do this instead: “Sealing the areas around the windows would be a good alternative to plastic wrap,” says Lesh, who suggests buying caulk in rope form, which can be molded to fit around large openings and cracks. “That’ll form an airtight seal, which will help keep drafts out.”

8. Strategically placed planters or shrubs

Issue: Puddles of water near your foundation

Do this instead: Water should always drain away from your foundation, notes Lesh, so if it’s collecting against your house, this needs to be corrected.

“Ask a professional why this is happening,” suggests Lesh. “Ask: Is the land sloping toward the house, which means water might eventually run into the lower level? Are the gutters clogged so water is pouring over the top and landing alongside the foundation?”

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Taking the time now to fix things properly instead of rushing through a shoddy half-repair will pay off in the long run, advises Pineda.

“When you’re selling a home, everything has to look pristine if you want to interest buyers and get the most money for your home,” she says. “Get it in tiptop shape. If don’t you want to do all the repairs and the cleaning, then hire someone to come in and take care of it for you.”

Source: realtor.com

Lessons From Listings Photos: See the Power of Staging in This Pennsylvania Carriage House

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

These days, staging a home—redecorating it with furnishings and decor selected to appeal to buyers—is an important step that nearly every homeowner should think about when it’s time to sell their house.

When potential buyers view a home—whether online or in person—you want them to be able to picture themselves in your space. But it’s hard to do that when your personal stuff is everywhere. That’s where staging comes in. It’s a tool to highlight the strengths of each room and eliminate anything that could give potential buyers pause—be that clutter, personal belongings, or design decisions that just aren’t for everyone.

If you’ve ever doubted the power of staging a home before listing it, this Pennsylvania home will make you see the light.

Built in 1925, it has many great features and tons of character, but it still didn’t sell when it was listed for $810,000 in August 2019. In June 2020, it was relisted with brand-new photos of fully staged interiors. We’re talking streamlined furniture and rugs in clean, neutral colors. No more mismatched wooden furniture! And just two months later it was sold for $820,000, a little more than the initial asking price.

Since home staging costs around $2,000 to $2,400 a month (the furnishings are rented), that seems like money well-spent, especially when you consider the money lost on extra mortgage payments while the home sits on the market.

We went right to our experts to find out why the staging of this house attracted a buyer—and how you can have the same success in your home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

The living room in this house had a lot of great features, but the original setup didn’t allow them to stand out.

“When you have a feature wall, such as the stone wall shown here, it’s best to showcase that instead of covering it up with bulky furniture,” says Dawn Gerali, a real estate agent with West USA. “The modern, lighter-colored furniture and minimalist artwork works well to make this a comfortable, inviting space.”

“By simplifying the color of all the furnishings, it is less distracting to the eye,” explains Lisa Vail, designer with Vesta. “A potential buyer can easily find themselves stepping into the space and making it their own.

Vail adds that swapping out the furniture is a quick and easy move that gives the perception that the entire house has been updated.

Kitchen

There was nothing really wrong with the original kitchen in this house, but it had a mismatched vibe that made it hard to present a functional, uncluttered space. Yet the magic of staging changed all of that with just a few simple swaps.

“The kitchen island has been staged with bigger stools and place settings, and the shelves have been cleared as well,” says Will Rodgers, a real estate consultant with KW Realty McLean. “This gives the buyer the idea that the kitchen can be a good area for meals, and makes it appear less cluttered.”

Jill Valeri, a home stager and owner of Welcome Home: Interior Design Solutions, says the staged version of the room just feels better to potential buyers.

“The matching stools, place settings, and small vases by the stove create a visually appealing rhythm in the space, while emptying the built-in shelves makes them less distracting,” she says. “The overall effect is that the buyer can now focus on the beautiful marble and vast counter spaces.”

Dining room

Obviously the selling point in this dining room is the gorgeous ceiling beams, but unless the room is staged right, they may look more like a hindrance than anything.

“The ornate furniture in the before photo competes with the wood-beamed ceilings and windows. It detracts from the room’s architectural features,” explains Gerali. “The sleek, modern furniture in the after photo draws attention to the beautiful ceiling and the natural light coming in through the windows.”

Marla Perez, account executive with Vesta, agrees.

“Staging this dining room made it feel larger and more grand,” she says. “Changing the orientation of the dining room table elongated the dining room, and adding a neutral rug brightened the space. The updated furniture and upholstered dining chairs created a more formal dining [area] for entertaining.”

Bedroom

Very little has changed in the bedroom of this home, save for the new furniture and decor, but it feels like a totally different space.

“They have elevated this room simply by adding the appropriate-scale bed and neutralizing the color palette,” says Vail. “The original bed was way too high for the room and drew attention to the odd nook it was set in. But now it looks like the nook was built intentionally for the bed.”

Rodgers emphasizes the impact of the cosmetic changes.

“This bedroom feels more airy and natural after the old chests and dressers were replaced with plants, neutral-colored linens, and a serene piece of art over the bed,” he says. “This gives buyers a relaxing feel upon entering the room, which is perfect for a bedroom.”

Source: realtor.com

‘Million Dollar Beach House’ Reveals Why Hamptons Real Estate Isn’t as Easy To Sell as You Might Think

Want to bask in the last days of summer by touring beautiful beach houses worth millions of dollars? You can get your fill of sandy eye candy on a new Netflix reality show that just debuted, “Million Dollar Beach House.”

This new series follows real estate agents in some of the most affluent and glamorous beach towns around: an area known as the Hamptons, just a drive (or, for the truly rich, helicopter ride) from New York City. On the show, real estate agents at local brokerage Nest Seekers International spend their days primping posh properties with the hopes that some ultrawealthy buyer will bite.

Yet surprisingly, these multimillion-dollar mansions run up against many of the same problems getting sold as any regular-priced property. As proof, check out this recap of the show’s premiere episode, “Selling Season,” where you can also learn plenty of tips on how to fetch top dollar for your own house, whether it’s on the beach or any old block.

Clutter can obstruct a great view

Before: This beach house felt cluttered.
Before: This beach house felt cluttered.

Netflix

Michael Fulfree, an agent at Nest Seekers, has a shot at his first big sale: a $6 million listing with stunning beach views. But there’s just one problem: The homeowner, Patti, keeps the house so cluttered that he knows it’ll distract buyers from what’s outside those windows.

“As soon as people walk into that house, I want their eyes to go straight to the water and that’s all they see,” Fulfree says. “But Patti has Buddhas and tchotchkes everywhere. There’s too much going on in that property.”

After: With some small changes, this living room looks much cleaner.
After: With some small changes, this living room looks much cleaner.

Netflix

So he brings in two interior designers to declutter and transform the space. When the designers are done, the place looks much more streamlined—which makes it all the easier to admire the view.

You have to spend money to make money

Think of the home staging fee as an investment.
Think of the home staging fee as an investment.

Netflix

While home sellers often dream of the money they’ll make when they sell, they often lose sight of the money they should spend to get there.

“People don’t understand how much money gets put into actually selling the property,” Fulfree explains. “I’m willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars. It’s worth it.”

Whether a house needs staging, a new coat of paint, or a repair, Fulfree’s listing serves as a good reminder that sellers should get a listing looking its best before putting it on the market—even if that comes with a hefty price tag.

Sellers should never attend their own open house

Home sellers should never attend their own open house.
Home sellers should never attend their own open house.

Netflix

Fulfree puts in a lot of effort to make his listing’s open house a success: getting the house to look its best, inviting guests, and creating a fun atmosphere to show off the perks of beachside living.

However, when the homeowner walks in, Fulfree is concerned.

“You don’t want the seller there in the presence of buyers,” Fulfree explains. “It’s almost impossible to make deals.”

And to make things worse, Patti complains that she doesn’t like the staging. As Fulfree explains, “Her negativity could really affect potential buyers.”

Take-home lesson for sellers: It’s best to stay away from your house when potential buyers are touring, either individually or during an open house. Seeing the owner can make it hard for potential buyers to picture themselves living there.

Don’t overprice your property

This beach house is beautiful, but it's not worth $35 million.
This beach house is beautiful, but it’s not worth $35 million.

Netflix

Meanwhile, real estate agent Noel Roberts is hoping to land his biggest listing yet: a modern mansion he says could be worth $35 million.

However, fellow agent Peggy Zabakolas says this is a bad estimate.

“Part of your job as a real estate broker is to come up with a number that is realistic,” Zabakolas says.

She is right to be wary of overpricing a property. Overpricing could put the property at risk for sitting on the market for a long time with no buyers in sight.

Plus, a high price will give homeowners unrealistic expectations for the sale, and they’ll end up being disappointed when, eventually, the price has to be dropped.

It’s best to choose a fair price that will help the house sell quickly.

The faster you sell, the better

Michael Fulfree knows that a view like this should help a home sell quickly.
Michael Fulfree knows that a view like this should help a home sell quickly.

Netflix

When Fulfree is asked about his timeline for selling his beach house, he says he wants to get the sale done as quickly as possible.

“In real estate, there is no length of time that’s short enough,” he says.

Fulfree talking to buyers about his listing
Fulfree talking to buyers about his listing

Netflix

Generally, home sellers will want to find a buyer quickly, too. The longer a home sits on the market, the more the owner will be paying for a mortgage, taxes, HOA fees, and upkeep. The seller may have already moved out by the time a house is on the market, which could mean paying for two homes at once.

So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to sell quickly.

Source: realtor.com

How This 1920s California Bohemian Sold Over Asking—and Helped Set a Record

It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pictures highlight the home’s best assets.

In 2020, nothing is for certain—and in many places, that includes the real estate market. That’s not true for Berkeley, though. This Northern California city, located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, is experiencing an upswing in an already booming real estate market. In fact, October 2020 racked up the most single-family home sales for the city in nearly two decades.

High demand is likely to have been part of the reason the former owners of this two-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow in Berkeley were able to sell their home for $161,000 over the listing price of $1,189,000. They purchased their home in April 2014 for $1,020,000 and sold it in November, for $1.35 million. But, looking at the before and after photos, we also chalk this successful sale up to smart home staging.

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, there are plenty of lessons to learn from this particular sale. From clever design decisions to the little details that made all the difference, here are the moves that made this cozy home appealing to buyers.

Living room

This living room may feel completely different in the before and after photos, but if you look closely, you’ll notice there weren’t any major changes. Instead, the owners made a few smart cosmetic updates and did a great job of staging the room.

“The ‘before’ of this room felt small, dark, and choppy, due to the use of multiple paint colors breaking up the visual flow of the space,” explains designer Gabrielle Aker, of Aker Interiors. “The fresh coat of white paint instantly brightens the room.”

Danny Davis, owner and broker of San Diego Brokerage in Encinitas, CA, agrees that color was a key factor in the living room.

“In my decades of experience in real estate, no one has ever told me that they were looking for a dark and gloomy home. Everyone wants light and bright,” he says. “Incorporating stylish, minimalist furniture and light paint and stain colors often make a smaller space feel larger and more livable.”

Real estate agent Natasha Wood of Balaj Realty Group says making the floors more visible also made a big impact.

“Hardwood flooring can increase a home’s value by up to 5%, so showing that off is key,” she explains.

Kitchen

“Choosing the right professional photographer and staging company is very important when selling your home,” says Davis.

He explains that each listing must attract a buyer in the first few photos, or they’ll just keep scrolling. In the case of this kitchen, he says the listing photos showed exactly what buyers want to see.

“This kitchen, where families tend to spend most of their time, is so much more inviting in the ‘after’ photo,” he says.

“That warm wood island makes such a difference in this space,” adds Susan Covell Sands, owner of Susan Covell Designs. “The floor-to-ceiling white tile, new textured stone floor—all of it looks much cozier and workable than the ‘before’ photo, with its gray walls and old, orange-toned wood floors.

Nook

Before the overhaul, this nook just off of the kitchen was a strange bit of wasted space, a real shame in a small home.

“What a difference it makes to give a space a specific function,” says Covell Sands. “Showing the shelves with a laptop, lamp, and stool gives the potential buyer the understanding that this space could be more than just extra storage shelves.”

Davis explained that thanks to COVID-19, most of us are now doing many things at home that we used to do elsewhere, from working, to exercising, to school.

“It’s more important than ever to showcase an area where people can have a private space to work and take Zoom calls away from the rest of the family, pets, and mess that a home must accommodate in today’s lifestyle,” he says.

“Creating a useful space that has a dedicated function, especially in a small home, will invite buyers to imagine themselves in that space, instead of wondering what to do with it.”

Dining room

Even in the before image, this unique dining room was a showstopper, but after a few tweaks, it’s a home buyer’s heaven.

According to Davis, staging was a huge factor in this room.

“As for staging, it’s imperative that you stay away from bulky furniture in small areas and finish off a room with accents like window shades,” he explains, which is exactly what happened in this space.

Kendall Severson, co-owner of Interior Design Partnership, LLC, agreed.

“I love this transformation!” she says. “The ‘before’ picture makes the space feel heavy and small. They toned down the color and focused on white and natural elements. … They really hit the nail on the head when it came to scale and proportion in this space.”

Wood noticed that the stairs are also visible from this room.

“The updated stairway follows the natural movement throughout the home and creates a cohesive feel,” she says.

Bedroom

Having an extra bedroom that doubles as both a guest room and an office may sound like a great way to utilize a space, but our experts say that often sends buyers running.

“Defining a space with a specific purpose definitely helps a buyer envision themselves and their belongings in a home. That’s why staging is so valuable to home sellers,” says Davis.

He explains that the previous owners, once again, pulled off a major win in this room.

“Oftentimes, multipurpose rooms—such as a guest room/office—only point out to the buyer that the home doesn’t have room for both purposes, and that can have a negative effect on buyer perception,” he says.

Staging this room as a cozy bedroom makes the whole house feel more inviting and livable, he argues.

Source: realtor.com

What the Flip? This Refurbished Asheville, NC, Home Made a 6-Figure Profit

Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series, “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped to make a house desirable to buyers.

For years, the city of Asheville, NC, has been a popular place to live. It’s earned a reputation both as a cultural hub and as an outdoor lover’s dream, with easy access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail.

Those facts—coupled with the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted people to re-evaluate where they really want to live—made Asheville and the surrounding area especially hot in 2020.

“The market in Asheville has significantly increased over the last year. We are experiencing record demand from buyers who are coming from major metro areas,” says the real estate agent Mike Figura, broker and owner of Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty in Asheville.

“At the same time, fewer people are listing their homes, causing low supply, tight inventory, rising prices, and frequent bidding wars.”

Any seasoned house flipper can see the opportunity in a city like Asheville, especially if it’s a seller’s market. That’s why we were excited to find this fixer-upper turned polished property in the heart of the West Asheville neighborhood.

The six-bedroom, four-bathroom home was purchased for $276,000 in January 2020. After a top-to-bottom renovation, it was listed just six months later for $500,000. It sold in a little less than a month, for $525,000.

Of course, it wasn’t just the hot market that brought such an amazing profit, although the flip was pretty impressive, so we’re guessing that did help a lot, too.

We went straight to our experts to find out which changes are likely to have lured in buyers, and to discover how you can make that happen with your home, too.

Front porch

The old front porch lacked curb appeal. All the windows and doors made it difficult to determine where you were supposed to enter the house. That’s not the kind of impression you want to make on potential buyers.

“By removing the existing doors and creating a new front door, the entry feels like it has a sense of arrival now,” explains Adrienne Valenza, an interior designer at Adrienne Valenza Design. “Replacing the windows with new, Craftsman-style windows also added to the charm.”

The dirty and dingy feel of the old porch was also a big negative. Thankfully, the flippers didn’t stop at changing out doors and windows; they also went to work with scrub brushes and buckets of paint.

“By cleaning up, and painting light, beachy colors on this porch renovation, it helps create a welcoming feeling, while adding tremendous curb appeal,” says Mike Syms, of Full Scale Renovations.

Living room

Talk about fresh and clean! This living room got a major glow-up, and our experts are feeling it.

“By removing the carpet and refinishing the wood floors, it gives the room much more of a sophisticated look, which is further echoed in the color palette,” says Valenza.

It also doesn’t hurt that the furniture, fixtures, and fireplace are no longer reminiscent of something you’d find at grandma’s house. Modern buyers want a modern home, and the outdated look of this living room gave buyers the impression that they were looking at a major project.

In the end, the most subtle new feature of this living room is the ceiling.

“The addition of the ceiling bulkheads on this living room remodel adds a lot of interest and provides a feeling reminiscent of a modern hotel,” says Syms. “This detail will make potential buyers remember this house as something unique and different from all the others on the market.”

Kitchen

The previous kitchen in this house was outdated, with a layout that just didn’t work. Its foldable table just screamed that the room didn’t have enough workable space. But the renovated kitchen is now a place for cooking, entertaining, and feeling at home.

“Changing the layout of this kitchen and opening it up to the living room was a fantastic use of the space. It’s so much more functional and open now,” says Valenza. “Continuing the color palette from the new living room was also a smart decision; it makes everything feel more spacious.”

And at a time when people are taking up home cooking instead of dining out, spacious kitchens are definitely a selling point.

“This kitchen remodel will add a ton of resale value to this home,” says Syms, “by getting rid of the textured ceiling and outdated yellow paint and adding the large island with quartz countertops. The new finishes provide a clean and contemporary look that homeowners love.”

Other touches to the kitchen, like the “dramatic, scalloped backsplash tile and the free-floating range hood,” add a touch of class, Syms says. All that goes a long way toward helping the home to stand out in the minds of potential buyers.

Bathroom

The bathroom in this home is small, which is a tough sell, now that buyers are looking for bathrooms that look more like spas.

While the flippers didn’t have the space to make the bathroom larger, they did know how to make the most of what they were working with.

“They did a great job with the new layout. It’s a functional bathroom that feels much larger than it did before,” says Valenza.

The new vanity gives the bathroom “much-needed additional storage space,” Syms points out. No one wants a bathroom that can’t hold their essentials.

“The details are simple without being boring,” says Valenza. “Using the monochromatic patterned floor tile as a border in the shower is a great way to add visual interest without overwhelming the space.”

“It adds a high-end custom look that potential buyers would love,” says Syms of the patterned tile in the shower. And that’s the goal when flipping a house, right?

Source: realtor.com

How Much Does Home Staging Cost—and How Much Will You Gain?

Home staging—where you decorate your house in an effort to entice buyers to bite—may seem counterintuitive at first blush: Why spend money on real estate if you’re moving out? Simple answer: because home staging can get you more money for your home sale.

If your real estate agent (here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area) has suggested staging, it’s because evidence shows staging real estate is usually well worth the effort. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged homes, which is nothing to sneeze at. But just how much does home staging really cost? Here’s the scoop, so you can decide if paying a professional stager is worth the investment for you.

How much will staging a home cost?

File this one under “obvious”—but the pricier the staged home, the higher the potential home staging costs. As a general rule of thumb, the average cost for most stagers is $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.

“Therefore, staging a 2,000-square-foot home would cost around $2,000 to $2,400 a month,” explains real estate professional Crystal Leigh Hemphill. Most professional home stagers also require a three-month minimum staging contract, “even if you sell the home in 24 hours.” That could bring your final staging bill to $7,200.

Home staging might sound expensive, but if you own a vacant home, for example, you’re already paying lots of bills every month that your unstaged house sits empty. If a home stager can help buyers envision how fabulous your living room looks with a little classy furniture and tasteful decor, the costs of home staging may be some of the best money you have ever spent.

What can make staging cost more?

Most home stagers work with the knickknacks and art that the homeowner already owns. But sometimes home stagers “need to purchase new accessories, fresh towels, flowers, and/or fruit, as these small touches make a big difference,” says Sheila Schostok with Your Home Matters Staging and Redesign, which serves Chicago and southeastern Wisconsin. This is especially true with a vacant house. The stagers’ new purchases will add to the overall cost of the project.

The layout of your home could also add a cha-ching to the home staging costs. Home stagers often use lightweight versions of basic furniture pieces. However, a home staging job that requires heavy lifting in a multistory house still usually means hiring additional help to move furniture, says Schostok.

And if you’re listing a vacant home because you’ve already moved out, you’re looking at home staging costs that include rental fees for every stick of furniture and all furnishing and decor items from a stager.

Conversely, if you inherited a ton of antiques (or have a One King’s Lane addiction), the stager may recommend you declutter by putting excess knickknacks into storage, tacking that monthly rental onto your overall staging costs. Staging services may also suggest that sellers declutter and depersonalize the home by removing unusual, religious or political, and personal items, so home buyers can more easily envision themselves living in the home.

A final expense, an important one that can help ensure staging success, is the price of painting a room. A fresh coat in a 12-by-12-foot room will cost a DIYer around $200, or $400 to $700 if left to the pros.

How to save on the cost of home staging

You don’t have to pay a home stager to transform the decor of your entire house from basement laundry room to attic storage.

“A great way to save money when staging is by only focusing on the main areas of a home,” says Schostok.

These are the rooms potential buyers would spend the most time in—the kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom. You’ll also want to pay attention to what the buyers see when they first step in the front door. That first impression, whether it be a bare, unstaged home or an inviting, perfectly staged one, can make the difference in whether they decide to buy and how much they are willing to pay for your house.

Another cost-saving home staging option is to limit yourself to an initial consultation with a home stager, instead of full-service staging. When Schostok does a home staging walk-through with the homeowner, offering home staging tips to maximize the potential for each room, “the price is far less, $125 for 90 minutes.”

You may want to ask your real estate agent if she thinks your home would benefit from home staging. Your agent may also recommend a home staging service or even offer other cost-saving tips besides staging, based on her experience showing real estate to buyers. For example, your agent may recommend that you start by decluttering your home yourself, or spend the money on a specific home improvement task, instead of hiring a professional stager, depending on her own first-time impression of your home.

The biggest cost savings for home sellers who use home staging? Selling their home faster, at a better price, and without months of carrying costs—because their house was properly staged and buyer-ready.

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Watch: How to Stage Your Home Like a Pro

Source: realtor.com