Believe it or not, the holiday season can be a great time to sell your home. You may think that spring is the ultimate season to sell your home due to more houses being listed and more people seem eager to buy. It’s true that the housing market typically heats up during the spring, however, the holiday season is often overlooked as a prime time to sell.
Why? First of all, there is less inventory on the market typically, allowing your home to easily stand out among the available inventory. And though there are technically fewer buyers overall, the buyers that are looking are far more serious about finding a home within a specific timeframe. So, make your home warm and inviting and open it up to those looking to buy, because selling your home during the holidays might be your best present this year.
1) Stage for the Holidays. Think Clean, Cozy, Simple.Yes, you should absolutely decorate your home during the holidays even if you are trying to sell it. The real question you should be asking is, how much?
One thing that happens to all homeowners is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. This is especially true of holiday decorations. When you pull out holiday decor this year, think like a stager or a designer. You don’t want to use every decoration or ornament you’ve ever owned. This year, for the sake of appealing to the buyers touring your home, use your best decorations as holiday accents in each room without drawing attention away from your home’s best selling features.
Your home may have large windows with a great view or maybe your home has a dream kitchen. Whatever sold you on your home when you first bought it is most likely the same feature(s) that will sell your house this holiday season. So, don’t cover up your view with an excessively large Christmas tree, even though you may have the high ceilings for it, or bury your living room in snow globes, nutcrackers, and an abnormally large nativity scene. You want to accentuate your home’s best features with holiday decor, not bury them.
Just remember that you should still enjoy the holidays in your home even if you’re trying to sell it. Holiday decor can go a long way in making your house feel like a future home for those touring it. If you have a fireplace, decorate it with garland and hang stockings from its mantle. Use candles and wallflowers that are iconic smells of the season, such as pumpkin spice or balsam and cedar. You especially want to keep your home clutter-free and need to clean it regularly. The holidays can easily bring in the clutter, so make sure you stay on top of it. You want homebuyers to feel comfortable and warm the moment they walk through your front door. You want them to feel at home.
2) Price Your Home to Sell You and your listing agent will most likely come up with a pricing strategy together based on comparable homes in the area, what the current housing market is doing, and what the demand for housing looks like or is projected to do. Ultimately, several variables go into pricing ones home to sell, however, there are a couple of easy tricks that can help attract homebuyers.
Price Your Home CompetitivelyIf your home was a lemonade stand that was competing against a rival lemonade stand on the other side of the street, how would you make your lemonade more enticing to people passing by? Maybe your lemonade comes in a larger cup, maybe it comes with ice, or maybe it’s just priced lower than your competition.
If your home looks like all the other homes on the block with similar features, then a lower price point will definitely draw in more traffic than your rivals. However, if your home is the largest one on the block, has more acreage, or a double car garage and pool, you can price your home based on the increased value it provides. Start off by seeing how much your home is worth by checking out online estimates and then compare them to other houses in your area.
Use Strategic Price Points When Listing Your HomeHave you ever noticed while you’re grocery shopping that almost all prices end in .99, such as $1.99 or $4.99? This simple manipulation of pricing is called setting strategic price points and essentially makes the price of something appear smaller (or cheaper) than it really is. The same exact concept works when pricing your house to sell. For example, if you decide your home could sell for $500,000, pricing it at $499,000 will (theoretically) draw in more traffic and possibly more offers.
3) Make Your Curb Appeal a Top PriorityYour neighborhood may actually look more appealing to homebuyers during the holiday season. Maybe you live on one of those streets where everyone from miles around drives down your lane to see houses lit up in all colors of holiday splendor. You don’t want to go overboard with your exterior holiday decorations, but you want to make your house shine along with the other homes on your block.
Furthermore, your lawn may not be that lush green it usually is during the summertime, and your trees may currently be barren. That’s why making your curb appeal a top priority is necessary when selling your home in winter. Make sure all the sticks, dead leaves, and any other debris are picked up and your lawn is neatly trimmed. Even though we have entered the colder months, a few weeds that poke up from the ground can make your lawn seem neglected. If you have pictures of your home at alternative times of the year when your curb appeal is burgeoning with flora, these may also be a good idea to have available for homebuyers. This way instead of homebuyers trying to picture your house in other seasons, they can just see it for themselves.
4) Keeping your Property Safe for HomebuyersUnlike home sellers that live in coastal regions, there are many more home sellers living in mainland USA where outside temperatures are well below freezing during the holiday season. Driveways and walking paths are blanketed in snow and ice, and icicles hang from gutters like glass curtains. A legitimate concern for home sellers in one of these frigid areas is how to keep your property safe for homebuyers. The only thing you can really do is be proactive and break out that snow shovel and start clearing a path.
If you’re expecting snow on an almost weekly basis, then it might be best to hire out professionals to come by once a day and make sure your driveway, front steps, and any walking path are cleared for people touring your home.
5) Turn On the (Holiday) LightsTo complement the coziness of your home, you’ll also want to make it bright. Turn on all the lights in your house during open houses and home tours. It may be the darkest time of year outside but you can make sure it doesn’t feel that way inside your home.
This is also a great time to replace burnt out light bulbs and fix light switches that are not working. You may also want to consider making all your interior lighting the same color temperature, such as a soft white which brightens rooms without giving you that institutional feel. This will help with consistent lighting throughout your home, creating a balanced feel as potential buyers walk through each room.
6) Slay the Holiday Season with Professional Real Estate PhotosThe absolute biggest thing you can do for your house in terms of marketing it to potential homebuyers is getting professional real estate photos taken. However, this is the one time you don’t want to have your holiday decor on display. In fact, getting your professional photos taken of your house before you decorate is a must because holiday decorations essentially create a time-stamp of your home.
If your home doesn’t sell during the holidays you don’t want your house to still be rocking holiday lights in its listing photos come February or March, or you risk turning off potential homebuyers. So plan on getting your listing photos taken as soon as you can so you can decorate for the holidays and enjoy the season.
7) Get Santa’s Perspective with Aerial PhotographyIt doesn’t matter if you live sunny Tampa, FL or buried in snow in Minneapolis, MN, consider aerial photography to help make your home stand out this holiday season. If your home has acreage or a view or any other amenity that cannot be fully captured unless it’s done by air, then aerial photography may be what you need.
Drone photography, in particular, has become an increasingly affordable option when compared to traditional aerial photography and can offer buyers a unique perspective of your home and can help make your listing stand out among the other homes for sale online. Furthermore, aerial photography can give potential buyers an overview of your neighborhood along with other amenities that may be within walking distance of your home.
Jeff enjoys writing about the many aspects of home-ownership. From how-to projects he does on his own home to mortgage payoff and investment strategies, he likes to create useful content his readers will enjoy. His dream home would be a small house on a lake or the Puget Sound, with lots of natural light and a dedicated space for his woodworking.
Getting Ready to Sell Your House?
Here are 11 Things Most People Forget to Do
You’ve started on your lists of small repairs, you’ve contacted a real estate agent, and now you’re in the final steps of getting ready to sell your house. But before you put your home up for sale, and certainly before having your first open house, here are 11 things to consider that most home sellers forget to think about and could cost you a sale.
1. Declutter and Organize Your Closets and Cabinets
Sure, you went through your entire house and reduced the clutter in each room, organized your desk and other surfaces, and arranged your collection of antique ceramic kitty figurines to be facing perpendicular to the window. However, did you tackle your closets and cabinets?
One thing you should definitely expect during an open house or individual home tours is that potential home buyers will be looking in your closets, kitchen drawers and cabinets. Will your walk-in closet fit all of his shoes and her summer dresses? Is there enough storage space in your kitchen for their cookware, bakeware, and all the kitchen gadgets that they seem to collect each year? These are all questions home buyers will be asking themselves as they walk through your home.
Of course, you as a home seller will have no idea what the needs are of a potential home buyer, but you can definitely showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage. Start by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, and then keeping only enough belongings in each to really show off the potential that space has to offer. Think of it as an extension of staging your home, but for your storage areas.
2. Clean Stains and Eliminate Odors
We should all consider small stains, marks, and other imperfections as badges of honor for a house that has been lived in for years. Nonetheless, these slight bumps and bruises your home has encountered over time will stick out to potential home buyers, so tackle them head-on.
Begin by trying to put yourself in the shoes of a potential home buyer and look at your house objectively. Start by going outside and then re-entering your house as if you didn’t actually own it but were an interested home buyer looking at it for the first time. What do you see? Walk through every room and take note of all the imperfections you notice. You might surprise yourself with how quickly your list grows. You can then add them to your list of repairs so you can make your house truly be at its best before your first open house.
Also, if you have pets there is a strong possibility that your home has an odor which you can no longer smell. Deep cleaning your house is a sure fire way to help eliminate these odors, but also think about using an odor eliminating spray every day for about a week before your first open house. You can also place plugin room fresheners that offer a great crisp smell, like cucumber, to help infuse a sense of cleanliness throughout your house.
3. Replace Light Bulbs
Walk through each room in your house and look at every light bulb to see if it’s working. As homeowners, we sometimes forget to immediately replace a light bulb when it goes out. You want your house to be at its brightest when new home buyers are touring your home and replacing old burnt out light bulbs is one of the easiest ways to do it.
Also, don’t forget to walk around the outside of your house to make sure all the lights of your home's exterior are working as well. Depending on the time of year, your open house or home tours could happen when the sun is going down or when it’s already dark. So be sure to make your house shine inside and out!
Pro tip: Make sure all your light bulbs are the same color temperature inside your house as well as outside. A soft-white light LED bulb can create a bright but welcoming environment for new home buyers.
4. Think About the Small Details: Plants, Mirrors, Rugs
Consider each room's individual characteristics, so you can really showcase the potential every room in your house can offer. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind while you start prepping every space for an exceptional open house experience.
Add a little green to your spaces
Nothing breathes life into a room more than a little greenery. A potted tree can work wonders in a living room, but for smaller areas think smaller plants such as a small potted herb garden in the kitchen or a miniature cactus on the mantel.
Open up even the smallest rooms
Mirrors can make small spaces seem large because they create the illusion of depth. Mirrors also work wonders in darker rooms as they reflect light deep into areas of a room that may not receive an abundance of natural light.
Add character to an otherwise unimpressive space
While staging your home, think about adding character to various spaces with rugs. However, keep in mind that you want to use rugs to enhance a space, not be the focal point of it. Also, if you have a strange space that you never really figured out a good use for, a rug could at least offer a little personality while leaving the space and its potential to the imaginations of home buyers.
5. Enhance Your Outdoor Space
You’re probably already aware that enhancing your curb appeal is one of the most impactful things you can do to create a great first impression. However, you don’t want to forget about your other outdoor areas, such as your front porch or entrance, your back entrance, side yard, and backyard. You want to enhance your outdoor spaces around the house so potential buyers can see themselves living as much outside your house as inside.
Simple enhancements like placing potted plants to your front entrance or adding fresh beauty bark around the base of your hedges and trees can go a long way. If you don’t already have a designated outdoor space for entertaining, think about building a DIY fire pit and adding four Adirondack chairs to create the idea of outdoor fun. Ultimately, your outdoor space can be just as important of a space as what your home has to offer on the inside.
6. Get Professional (Aerial) Photography
By now your research has probably shown you that homes with professional photos sell for more and spend less time on the market on average. What you may not have considered is adding aerial photography to your listing photos.
Aerial photography can show off your entire property, a scenic view, and the surrounding area. If you have a lot of property, an aerial shot can easily put into perspective the full scope all your land has to offer to potential home buyers.
Furthermore, aerial photography has come a long way thanks to the rapid development of drone technology, resulting in reasonable pricing that is accessible for many homeowners today. For higher-end listings, drones can even capture video of your property, helping it stand out among the hundreds of other homes for sale.
7. Don’t Forget About Your Gutters
Imagine that you’re having your first open house and despite the rain, foot traffic has been steadily increasing all morning. Your house looks immaculate, like one of those home's off of an HGTV show, and your real estate agent has been messaging you updates every hour about how great it's going. But then the unexpected happens. A small stream of water starts coming down right in front of your large bay window in the living room. The stream is outside the house, but your would-be buyers watch on as it grows into a miniature waterfall.
Red flags go up for the home buyers touring your house as the foot traffic thins then disappears altogether. What they didn't see was that the spillage was the result of a clogged gutter, nothing more, causing water to spill over in a very inopportune place and at the worst time.
Depending on where you live, you may not see as much rain in locations like Phoenix, AZ, but in many locations where rainfall is a common occurrence, such as Seattle, WA, this situation is more likely to happen. If you don’t have time to clean your gutters yourself—because you have a house to sell and a million other little things to do—there are professional services that can clean your gutters for you so this little oversight doesn’t drown out your hopes of selling your home quickly.
8. Paint Your Baseboards and Crown Molding
It’s pretty common knowledge that you should paint the interior of your home a neutral color to appeal to more buyers. Home buyers want to imagine themselves and their stuff in your space, so your red accent wall will need to be painted over with a more neutral hue. But what a lot of home sellers forget to do is pay attention to their baseboards and crown molding.
Where crown molding may just need some cleaning and touch-ups, your baseboards most likely have seen a lot more traffic, especially if you have kids. It may be a toy truck that has repeatedly crashed into your white baseboards, crayons that went rogue, or the black rubber wheels from bikes racing down the hallway, most likely your baseboards have been marked with years of life experiences.
To correct these homely blemishes, you can try cleaning your baseboards with simple dish soap and water. But if it has been years of wear and abuse, you most likely will need to paint. Use a paint with a semi-gloss finish that will offer a light sheen but not glossy enough to distract attention away from your floors. You can also match your crown molding using the same paint, making every room pop to potential home buyers. Of course, if you end up hiring painters to repaint that accent wall of yours, you might as well have them paint your baseboards while they're there.
9. Focus on Your Floors
Your hardwood floors were once beautiful and one of the initial reasons you bought your home, but after years of traffic your hardwoods have since dulled to a shadow of their former glory. Likewise, your once plush carpet has also now matted down into obvious paths that lead from room to room.
One of the first things potential home buyers look at when entering a new home is the floors, so make yours a statement.
If your carpet is approaching that 10-year mark, it is most likely looking pretty worn. Think about re-carpeting your house to make it look fresh and ready for new homeowners. Such as you did with your walls, you’ll want to go more neutral in color to appeal to the majority of home buyers. If your carpet is only a few years old, however, getting it professionally cleaned can go a long way in bringing your carpet back to life.
If you have hardwood floors bring them back to their former glory by refinishing them. Refinishing hardwood floors typically includes sanding down the floors to eliminate the original finish and stain, then restaining with the desired color followed by a coat or two of sealer. Your floors will look brand new and really stand out during the open house.
10. Gather Your Documents
You might not be aware of this but you’ll want to gather all the documents you have in regards to warranties, manuals, service records, and repairs done to your house. These documents are hugely important for several reasons and certain ones are needed by different parties before you sell your house.
Your agent is your best friend during the home selling process. They are also your homes’ first line of marketing and the more information they have about your house, the better they can promote it. They will write out the specific details of your home as well as an enticing description that will highlight key features that home buyers want. So, if you’ve made recent updates like a new deck, new roof, updated HVAC, or if your home has hot water on demand make sure your agent knows it and you have the paperwork to back it up.
During the home inspection process, home inspectors are going to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb. If your furnace or water heater hasn’t been serviced in years, they’ll let you know. Take a proactive approach by gathering all your service records so you'll know ahead of time if something needs to be serviced before listing your home.
However, beyond the paperwork your agent and the home inspector would like to see, title companies require very specific documentation in order for you to even sell your home, including:
11. Pre-Sale Home Inspection
The last thing most people don’t think about before they sell their home is getting a pre-sale home inspection. Though it is not mandatory, a pre-sale home inspection is a proactive approach to understanding your home's condition at that point in time, and if there are any repairs that need attention, you can address them now versus trying to do it during the home selling process.
Home buyers will most likely get a home inspection of their own, right? So, why would you get one as a seller?
A home inspection report will most likely turn up a list of repairs that will need to be fixed. Would you prefer to fix these issues now before you list your home, or after you're in negotiations with a potential buyer? If you wait, you may push back the sale date of your house as repairs are being made. Or, home buyers may ask for concessions on your asking price in order to cover the repairs and the time it takes to make them. Ultimately, getting a pre-sale home inspection will leave you in a better position when it comes time to negotiate with potential buyers.
You may feel like spending a lot of time and money on your house is pointless because you’re just going to sell it anyway, right? Just consider that the more you appeal to the majority of home buyers the more bids you’ll likely see and ultimately help you sell your house quicker and for more money.
Originally published on Redfin
FEBRUARY 1, 2018Meet Kristine Vowles of The Luxury Look in Scottsdale
VOYAGE PHOENIX STAFF
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine Vowles.
Kristine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
At a very young age, I expressed an appreciation for beautiful things, I would be occupied for hours as I discovered every little detail of whatever caught my eye. Some of my first words were “That’s Pretty” and “Don’t Touch”. I have begun decorating and arranging furniture as early as seven years old and my sweet grandmother and mom never seemed to mind. Anytime my mom took me with her to visit with friends, I would take any opportunity to play house with their things and move them all around. And at 16, I began developing my love of Interior design, decorating, painting, making crafts, redesigning and fashion design.
During high school I would spend my summers working in my Uncles Architectural firm. Upon graduation I went to UNLV for business management and Law. Shortly, after that I entered Interior Design School.
Because I had accomplish all this at such a young age, it was proving to be difficult in securing clients because of my age. So I made the decision to obtain my Real Estate License, as it would give me many opportunities to be in front of potential clients and incorporate my design knowledge all while working to sell their homes. I immediately started Staging my properties for sale and seeing great results, early in the 1980’s before “Home Staging” was even a term.
My mother and I joined together to form our own real estate team in the mid 80’s and after a couple years I was offered a position with Prudential Real Estate. That one job began my 35+ year career in managing Real Estate offices. After 2 years with Prudential, I then I moved over to Westar Development, from there Relocation Director for Coldwell Banker where I became their top Relocation Director in the Western Region. After I moved to Arizona, I wanted to figure out the lay of the land in regards to the Real Estate industry, so I made the decision to start my own Real Estate Temping agency, It might sound extreme and it was, but it gave me the front row seat in learning all the front and back office operations for multiple real estate firms, information about the market, and so much more. After a few years assisting real estate companies and teams in every capacity you could think of I landed a 6-year contract to run a mega real estate team that specialized in Luxury Homes, Investment Properties and Commercial Development, so it was an easy decision to close the temping agency. Later in 2004, I made a major change and joined Keller Williams Realty’s Leadership team and served as a CFO, Assistant Team Leader. Operations Manager and a percentage owner in various Keller Williams Realty offices where I spent the next 8 years.
In 2012, I created a company where the Keller Williams Southwest Region was my main client. I assisted in the training of their leadership and staff. And enjoyed and thrived in restructuring, organized and setting up systems in most their 28 offices, which was my last role prior to opening the Luxury Look at the end of 2013.
Since opening our doors in September of 2013, we are extremely proud of our accomplishments, thus far, Kristine is currently serving as the Arizona State and Chapter President of the Real Estate Staging Association “RESA”, Voted as one of the “Top 10 Stagers” in the US, Voted as one of the “Top 10 Home Staging Teams of the Year” Voted “Best of Houzz” in Customer Service, Voted “Best of Scottsdale” in Design and Staging” for 2016 and 2017, and inducted into the Business Hall of Fame for the City of Scottsdale, and serves on the Sherwin Williams Pro Advisory Board. We were also contacted too be a contributor to the book “Startup Entrepreneur” written by Gia Heller and a Key note speaker for the “Femargent Launch Party” in Beverly Hills.
Vowles maintains membership in Southeast Valley Regional Board of Realtors, Scottsdale Association of Realtors, the National and State Associations of Realtors, and a proud member of the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing,
Has it been a smooth road?
Starting any company has its own set of challenges. But having the opportunity to create a business around your passion, you tend to have the motivation to just keep pushing through and grinding it out.
The biggest struggle is in educating the public on the significant difference between hiring a hobbyist designer/home stager versus skilled professionals. The results are certainly measurable and in the long run the cost will be much less when hiring a professional that is knowledgeable in the various styles and how to mix them appropriately, space flow, size and scale, current trends, understanding the importance of Buyer Demographics, color consulting, architecture and design verses a hobbyist that loves what they do, but has no real life experience in why or how we do what we do or qualified to explain it to their clients or formal training in the industry.
“I liken Home staging to your Social Media status, what message are you trying to convey”
And no we don’t always use rugs, especially patterned ones or pillows of many colors, like you see in all the photos in the MLS. There is science behind good design, and knowing when it applies is key!
Kristine’s diverse background and unique combination of Design and Real Estate sets The Luxury Look apart from the norm.
We have successfully staged or Redesign over 150,000,000 Million in Real Estate.
According to NAR and other Industry Icons – Home Staging is becoming the real estate industries number one marketing tool and we should be treating it as such. When making your decisions about which staging company to use based solely on pricing, you may be throwing good money away when you consider how much longer the properties will be sitting on the market versus enjoying the results that are achieved when you hire a skilled designer/home stager that focuses their attention on the details that fit your property and that your particular buyers can relate to.
Incorporating a Top Home Stager as part of your real estate team or brokerage is one of the best business strategies you can invest in, in 2018. It can be the one marketing tool that you can quickly experience and measure the results…
Home Staging and Redesigning is a growing trend and working with a company that stays on top of current trends and designing spaces that are impossible to ignore while creating client experiences is a winning combination.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
After 25+ years working as a manager with various Real Estate companies, I discovered the most common compliant that Home Sellers were having with their Realtors was that their main solution to solving the problem of their home not selling was reducing the asking price. But in all actuality, the price wasn’t necessarily the issue in many cases. However, the appearance and condition of the home was, the interiors, room arrangements, photos, etc. we’re not appealing nor capturing the attention of home buyers.
There is a huge gap in how properties are listed for sale, from placing a sign in the front yard to analyzing the interior to the exterior and making sure that the home is show ready long before the photos are taken.
The Luxury Look was created, to fill that gap. I knew that if we wanted to succeed, we needed to raise the bar.
Our company offers Interior Design, Color Consultations, Home Staging for homeowners, realtors, investors, and new construction, as well as Redesigning – home staging for occupied homes, stylizing, furniture and accessory shopping.
We not only specialize in being a Transformational Space Planner, but we also offer unique private and corporate events for our clients. And The Luxury Look as taken the standard Broker Opens from drab to fab by created (VIP) Events by creating memorable experiences that your guest will never forget.
In 2018 we will be expanding more into Training, Coaching, Product sales and development for Home Stagers and the Real Estate Industry.
As the Arizona State President for RESA and it is my goal to work with real estate related organizations to add an additional layer of education, awareness and benefits of Home Staging locally and nationally.
Vowles is also a Partner and Exclusive Designer for HDomes Group, where she will be designing, building, and staging unique Luxury Boutique Dome Hotels, large subdivisions and private homes throughout the world. Projects are currently slated for Nicaragua, Hawaii, Bahamas, and African as well as Palm Springs and Florida.
Vowles will be a guest speaker at the upcoming International Home Staging Conference RESACON2018, as well as The Play Big event in North Hollywood and for the upcoming Home Staging Summit.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
With over 35+ years in the Real Estate and Design Industry, Kristine is combining her knowledge in both arenas and bringing game changing products, courses, training’s and event’s for Realtors and Home Stagers a like. With her keen sense of design, and ability to transform any space along with her knowledge of how to create the perfect environment to ensure offers faster, she is the perfect person to create such unique array of courses and offerings.
This month The Luxury Look is releasing a new Magazine that will be focused on the 6 most Powerful Design tools and Concepts that the Realtors and Home Stager’s need to incorporate into any property that they are marketing, staging and/or selling.
We are very excited for this launch, it has been a year in the making. We know from experience that by incorporating these key elements in every home, that it will increase your earnings, sell homes faster, and raise the bar in the industry.
We need to up our game and offer more as an industry and 2018 will prove be that year. And we certainly want to be a huge part of that.
As Kristine strives daily to broaden The Luxury Look’s brand she continues to create new offerings for her clients and the industry in which she serves. In addition to The Luxury Look Magazine releasing for Realtors and Homes Stagers, Kristine’s been extremely focused on designing a new Certifications for Realtors and Home Stagers, which will be launching in February. And keep your eye out for information on this and other announcements coming soon.
If you wish to subscription or advertise in The Luxury Look Magazine or receive updates on course and product launches, or discuss how The Luxury Look can assist you with Home or business needs – send an email to Kristine@theLuxuryLook.com to be placed on the list.
Shane Baker Studios and The Luxury Look
4 Profit Killing Mistakes Made By New House FlippersBenefit from the mistakes of other first time home flippers.No one is perfect. When it comes to real estate investing, even the savviest investors make mistakes their first time around. While we do our best to guide new investors through the process, there are still several mistakes we find new investors making that can cause a deal to go from profitable to break-even or worse.
New House Flipper Mistake #1: Not Assembling Your Team
You might be a superstar, but flipping a property is a team sport. At the very least you’ll need a real estate agent to help you sell the finished product, a real estate attorney to protect you and ensure the transactions go smoothly, and of course a source of funding to allow you to leverage your capital. As we mentioned before, if your flip includes any rehabilitation to the property your team will also need a trusted general contractor who can do the work on time and on budget. Many real estate investors also benefit from having a trusted CPA on their team to advise them on the complex accounting sometimes involved in these deals, as well as an insurance agent that can guide them through the world of liability protection.
New House Flipper Mistake #2: Not Vetting the General Contractor
Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong during the course of a property flip. After over 700 deals, what we’ve found is that the majority of issues new investors have during their first flip are the result of contractor issues. Delays, underestimation of costs, and generally unprofessional behavior are the most common source of headaches for new flippers. In order to counter this, we ask our borrowers to thoroughly vet their contractor and follow some best practices for selecting the right one to do the job.
Local real estate investor associations are a great place to find referrals for companies that others in your situation have already vetted.
Always see their work for yourself by physically visiting at least two of their projects in your area.
Get bids from a few contractors. This will not only give you a better opportunity to find the right fit, but give you a better idea of what your proposed scope of work should actually cost. Make sure to ask for an itemized scope of work.
New House Flipper Mistake #3: Not Staging the Home
Yes, hiring a professional service to stage your home increases your out of pocket expenses by around $1500 to $1800. However, like everything else about your deal – staging the home is an investment. On the surface, potential home buyers can more easily relate to a professionally staged home because it is not only clean, but decorated in a way that allows the buyer to imagine themselves living there.
The National Association Of Realtors polled their members and found that an incredible 96% of Realtors believe that staging has a positive impact on a potential buyer’s perception of the home. Additionally, studies prove that staged homes sell up to 2.5 times quicker than non-stages homes and for about 17% more. When you consider the costs saved from flipping the property quicker plus the higher sale price thanks to the improved perception of the property, home staging is an easy decision.
New House Flipper Mistake #4: Holding on Too Long
You probably do great work, and the value you’ve added to the property is incredible. However, this sense of pride and accomplishment new investors have regarding their first finished flip can sometimes cause unrealistic expectations for how much money they’ll sell it for. The truth is, the quicker you flip the property the better off you’ll be. Holding on to the property in hopes of a higher offer leads to an increase in soft costs; everything from interest expenses to taxes and utilities that will ultimately eat into the deal’s profit. Additionally, the quicker you flip the property the quicker you’re able to re-invest your money into the next deal.
Whether you’re new to real estate investing or simply looking to build your team and maximize your return on investment, Asset Based Lending would love to be your hard money lending partner. If you have a deal in mind, fill out our quick pre-qualification form and our loan officer in your area will reach out to discuss it with you.
A Top Design “Trick” Professional Home Stagers Use to Sell Homes
Whether you are a realtor or homeowner looking to sell a home, you know there are steps you must take to prepare it for market. Your best bet for getting the home sold quickly and for top dollar is to transform it into a home that others see themselves living at. You can hire a professional stager to do this for you, or you can use some of their techniques and transform the home yourself. So, what do professional home stagers know and what do they do to help sell homes? Let’s find out.
Why is Staging Important?Professional home stagers know that a well-staged home makes an impact on how soon and how much the home sells for. Check out these statistics from the National Association of Realtors:
A Favorite Design Trick of Home StagersYes, home stagers use all sorts of candles and décor. They group accessories by threes. They bring in rugs to soften hard floor surfaces. They may change out the bedding and drapes or rearrange the furniture so rooms feel bigger. And of course, they remove family photos and other personal items from the walls. However, once the walls are bare, they can’t leave them like that. Unlike coffee tables and shelves, walls are always in sight. And if they are bare, the house feels bare. So, one thing that is crucial is artwork. And a favorite type of artwork to use is canvas prints to stage a home.
Why Use Canvas Prints to Stage a Home?Canvas prints are a favorite choice amongst professional home stagers for several reasons. First and foremost, they fill the empty walls. Once you remove all the personal photos and mementos, the home can feel bare and sterile. You need something to add interest and color, especially if the colors in the home are neutral, which they often are for staged homes.
Yes, this interest could be achieved with other forms of art as well, and sometimes it is. But, canvas prints offer some benefits that other types of artwork do not. For example, they are lightweight. Because they are lightweight, it is easy to transport them and it is easy to hang them without causing too much damage to the walls.
Another reason that canvas prints are a popular choice is that they can easily blend into various styles of décor. When you choose artwork with frames, you must commit to a style – modern, traditional, contemporary, etc. Home stagers like canvas prints because they can use them in a variety of homes with different styles and they still look good.
Canvas prints are also relatively inexpensive compared to framed artwork. So, whether you own the home and want to stage it, or you want to use the artwork for multiple homes, it is a small investment that can potentially yield a substantial return.
Use What WorksSo, when you are ready to sell a home and need to stage it, why reinvent the wheel? Go with what works to create a well-staged home. Clear personal belongings, keep it neutral and create your “pop” of color and interest with accessories and beautiful canvas prints on the walls. Canvas prints are a great design element that many home stagers use, and they can be yours too.
Article written by Stacey Baliff of #CanvasPress for #TheLuxuryLook
What does a real estate agent do all day anyway?It's not as easy as it looks on TV
From a consumer’s first thought about making a real estate move to actually taking the leap (whether that means right now, next month or three years from now), the agent is incubator, initiator, action-taker, coordinator, scheduler, personal concierge, resource person, problem-solver, mediator, miracle worker, red-tape cutter, transaction manager and chief make-it-happen officer of everything else that doesn’t fall into the prior categories.
They may delegate some of these roles, but nothing gets completed without their oversight and input into what needs to be done and how.
An agent has a workday like anyone else, but there are typically little to no boundaries to that agent’s day and week. Here’s how an agent’s workday often goes:
Responding There are no official days off in real estate. You might have spans without any scheduled appointments, but there are always inquiries, emails and texts to respond to.
Agents are “on” no matter where they are. In our instant-response society, there really is no waiting until tomorrow.
If a consumer contacts them about a property, they respond. If other agents contact them to ask questions about their listing or want to show one of their properties, they get back to them.
If they receive an offer, they work on it regardless of the day, place and time. There is no stop-and-start in this business.
Despite what people might say, it is nearly impossible to shut off the communication, ever. The workplace is anywhere an agent is and that doesn’t mean agents have to go to an office for the day to start — work happens at home, in the car, during vacations and on the go.
The job often begins early in the morning or the night before managing emails and follow-up communications — phone calls and texts about any number of things from showing feedback on listings, following-up on in-progress transactions and creating to-do lists for assistants and staff.
Reviewing MLS activityAgents review MLS activity for any pertinent listings and updates on properties of interest to their buyers and sellers (competitive listings, price changes, under contracts, back on the markets, off the markets or solds, etc.) and notify their clients of relevant information.
Keeping up a databaseAgents must continually update their contact databases with new customer information, updates to existing customer contact information, birthdays and new-home anniversaries, and more.
Agents put together property itineraries for clients who are planning a house hunting trip, which could involve numerous showings in a short period of time.
Scheduling these tours requires a delicate dance that takes into consideration geography and logistics against the backdrop of unknown time constraints that sellers may impose. (“Can you come at 2 p.m. instead of 10 a.m.?” or “Today’s not good, but how about Friday?”)
These impromptu changes in plans wouldn’t be a problem if agents didn’t have anything else to do, buyers had the luxury of time and they were local — but rarely are agents working with that kind of flexibility.
And Murphy’s Law says the property that’s causing the scheduling difficulties will be the one at the top of buyers’ wish list. Agents have to find a way to make it happen.
Making contactAgents reach out to establish initial contact, discuss real estate needs and provide advice on the market to customers who have just been referred to them.
They conduct in-depth research on possible options for buyers and dive into market comparables to get an idea of what sellers’ homes can realistically sell for.
Setting and attending appointmentsThen there are the appointments — meeting buyers and sellers for initial discussions, previewing and touring properties, meeting inspectors, appraisers and a plethora of specialists, contractors, stagers, photographers and repair professionals.
While out on these meetings, business carries on and the emails, calls and texts flood in.
Oftentimes agents will be juggling these meetings with the sellers from six months ago who call and want to meet immediately — or the inactive buyer couple who suddenly found the perfect home that they need to see right this minute.
Negotiating offers and managing the saleNegotiating offers may go on for days or weeks. Once an offer gets worked out and a property goes under contract, that is just the beginning. There’s no jumping up and down, high-fiving and laughing all the way to the bank. Quite the contrary, this is where it can all go wrong.
At this point, agents have to make sure that everyone involved in this process does their job. From whatever side of the transaction they represent — buyer or seller — agents need to make sure everyone is fulfilling their obligations of the transaction in a timely manner.
If a lender is involved, active and frequent communication is a must to ensure the loan process is on track.
Agents check in with the title company or attorney’s office to make sure the file is being handled and all details and nuances are being attended to. They also address anything unexpected that may arise — a closing that needs to be a mail-away to the seller, or a situation in which a power of attorney needs to be present because one of the buyers will not be.
There are an endless number of tasks that agents must ensure get done from contract to close, from reminding clients about utility transfers to ensuring the seller has everything moved out on the day the buyer legally takes possession.
Problem-solvingProblem-solving and crisis management happens at every turn. This entails educating clients about the realities of what they are trying to accomplish; running down information about a community, association or property; or troubleshooting umpteen potential issues that could derail a property search, transaction or closing.
Unlike many jobs, no two days are the same. One week could be plagued by multiple snags (a buyer’s financing falls apart, home inspection issues, etc.), and on another day, it may all come together in an eerily smooth manner. But never fear; in this business, the other shoe is always about to drop.
Speaking of the other shoe dropping, there is no guarantee that the time spent and the hours put in will result in a paycheck.
Agents can’t bill for the time and effort they’ve expended giving advice and information, showing properties, attending showings, creating and hosting broker and consumer open house events and more.
The buyer may never buy; the seller may never sell, and the agent’s paycheck is affected by other people’s circumstances and decisions.
The enthused buyer could have job transfer fall through. An unexpected medical situation could put a house hunt on hold for someone else. Or a couple of sellers could suddenly decide they love their house more than they did before.
The agent — if he or she is lucky in these cases — will get a “thank you.”
MarketingThen there is the marketing and business development agents pour into their brand, knowledge and expertise. That website, newsletter, postcard, video or other marketing pieces (social media posts, custom property ads) didn’t appear out of thin air.
Agents devote thought and resources to each marketing piece with an eye toward implementation, execution and tracking results at every turn.
In short, real estate is a profession full of follow-up, follow-up, follow-up; multi-tasking; prioritizing, re-prioritizing; juggling; figuring out how to be in three places at once; evaluating, advising and coaching; hand-holding; researching and problem-solving; and responding.
Despite what reality television portrays, agents don’t simply ride around in expensive cars or have their private driver take them to unlock a door. They don’t show up in designer clothes at some swanky place to negotiate a deal over trendy cocktails.
It might appear glamorous and easy, but showing a customer properties or putting a home on the market happens sometime in the middle of a very involved process.
Marketing, branding and creating top-of-mind presence usually comes first, and those are the things that motivate customers to choose an agent.
Agents are the catalyst for the entire process of buying, selling or renting a property; and, from that perspective, they help keep the economy moving in every sense of the word.
Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you Cara for sharing.
Home staging is the act of preparing and showcasing a house for sale to attract a large pool of prospective buyers. Professional staging is a powerful marketing tool, not only giving a seller a marketable advantage over the competition, but potentially fetching a higher sales price and reducing the number of Days on Market (DOM) for a listing. As competition in the housing market increases, a growing number of real estate agents and home sellers are enlisting the services of professional home stagers to meet the high expectations of buyers and help sell a home fast for the highest price possible.
The longer a home stays on the market, the further its price drops, inviting bargain hunters and low offers. Hence, for the best return on investment, sellers should stage their homes prior to listing. Staging accentuates a home’s best features and downplays its flaws, ensuring it shows well and makes a good first impression on prospective buyers.
Staging is often done by a staging professional hired by the listing agent or the seller. Trade associations, such as the International Association of Home Staging Professionals®, Real Estate Staging Association®, and the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners are good starting points for finding stagers in an area, as are sites like Home Staging Resource.
Several studies, including the recent National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging report, back the merits of home staging. In the infographic below, we have highlighted why staging has become a key selling strategy for agents and sellers, along with the associated costs and tips on how to hire a professional stager. Considering the potential payback, staging is indeed a smart investment for home sellers!
- See more at: http://www.upnest.com/1/post/the-power-of-home-staging-infographic/#sthash.w8NGQvAF.dpuf
I read a featured post today called ‘So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent? Some Unsolicited Advice written by Liz and Bill Spear and it really resonated with me. Reason being is that every week we get anywhere from half a dozen emails or resumes or phone calls from people who want to become a stager and work for our company or they want to start their own staging business and would like to be mentored. I like to help people and appreciate the inquiries but it is a little overwhelming.
It’s really easy to become a home stager – easier than wanting to start in real estate – because unlike becoming a realtor, you don’t even have to take any courses. You can just wake up one morning and decide“hey, today is the day I start staging houses!” Presto! Now you’re a home stager! Do you know what you’re signing up for? Many don’t; they think it’s this glam job where TV cameras follow us around all the time and we get to tell people their stuff is ugly and they should throw it out and buy all new. Ummm! It’s not quite the same thing and it takes a lot of time, perseverance and talent to make a staging business a success.
So here are the top things to consider if you want to become a home stager:
1) Realtors aren’t immediately your friends and most of them won’t want to work with you right away. Often home stagers when they first start out think that if they go to the different real estate offices and introduce themselves, bring some business cards, their portfolio and some treats that the realtors will flock to talk to them. This is a common misconception. Because there are SO many home stagers, especially in larger cities, realtors often feel overwhelmed by all the home stagers who drop by their offices. Many are still figuring home staging out and will say ‘no’ without even considering what is being offered to them. It takes time, perseverance and creating a good reputation to change that. Even then, rejection is a normal occurrence even for seasoned professionals.
2) It costs money to start a home staging business – sometimes a lot of money especially if a stager is investing in building an inventory right from the start. From business registration, liability insurance, staging training & education, branding, marketing materials, gas, storage fees, website, cellphone, laptop, camera … and the list goes on. These are all essential business building items however if you didn’t budget for them they can have you wondering what you got yourself into.
3) Its hard prospecting for clients and if realtors aren’t interested in your services then its even more difficult to get actual staging jobs. If you live in an area where staging just isn’t taking off then it can be very hard to make a living staging homes. I know of many stagers who want to work but are frustrated because the people in their area ‘just don’t get it’.
4) Many aspiring stagers contact experienced home staging professionals looking for guidance, advice and mentoring. As our industry has evolved over the past five years, there are now larger home staging companies that can and do provide all of these things. Our advice is to do your research and seek out the ones which you want to be trained by. When you ask for help and they respond – even if they can’t mentor you or hire you – thank them! We reply to each and every inquiry we get however it is staggering the number of new stagers that do not respond after we have sent them information, advice and/or guidance. For those that do thank us, we remember and are far more likely to hire or mentor them in the future.
5) Home owners and realtors will get upset with you; you WILL offend some of them no matter what you do. Staging by its very nature is intrusive for most home owners and you touch on some very sensitive topics so its only natural that at some point you will offend some of them. Additionally because we tend to work on very tight timelines so that homes can get listed for sale, there is a high level of stress that is felt in both the sellers and realtors and can make for some tearful and angry blowups.
6) Other stagers in your area may not be your friends right away. As much as we want to all get along, the reality is that stagers are fiercely competitive and some may just not play nice at all. The Real Estate Staging Association and local Chapters has come a long way to helping stagers get over their fears so that they can work collaboratively together. If you aren’t a member of RESA, the official trade organization for home stagers and re-designers, we recommend checking them out! RESA is a phenomenal industry resource and provides everything new stagers need to get their business started.
7) The road to becoming a successful home stager is time-consuming. From consults to staging jobs to social media to presentations … and more .. its easy for the job to take over your life. This is one of the areas we constantly struggle with which is creating boundaries between work and my family life. It’s very easy, especially when we are incredibly busy, to be working 10 – 12 hour days, 7 days a week. Investing in business coaching and prioritizing tasks will help new stagers balance both a work and social life so that they don’t burn out too quickly. Additionally, creating a solid business plan and charging appropriately for your services – not giving away services for free – will ensure you work effectively and earn a steady income.
Staging is real estate marketing and the best way to attract full priced offers, quickly.
8) Bad things can and will happen on the job. From scratching a seller’s brand new cherry floors to dropping their antique birdcage that their husband’s mother bought for them for their wedding, these things will happen. Ensuring you are insured, have contracts with your clients to cover you for when of surprises goes a long way in this business. You can’t protect against everything however and there will be jobs where because something unexpected happened, you make no money or you lose money. C’est la vie.
9) That you need to have a solid business plan – and stick to it – to make your staging dreams a reality. Some stagers never do this but the really successful stagers that I know of have business plans not only for the short-term, but also for over the next 5 – 10 years. They are extremely detail oriented, organized and focused. As we said above, charge appropriately, value yourself and the services you offer so that others do too. We have seen too many stagers over the years offer their services for next to nothing only to end up folding their business in under a year because they made no money. If you offer it for free once, people remember and expect you to do that again. Know what your services are worth and don’t be afraid to charge appropriately.
10) You’ll need to become a social media expert to some degree to ensure that you are hitting all your target markets. From interactive websites to Facebook Fan Pages to Tweeting to Blogging .. all of these play vital roles in creating a viable staging business. Building brand and name recognition happens slowly however if you aren’t online then the odds are high your target clients will never find you.
Staging as a career can be incredibly rewarding – especially if it is your passion! Taking the time to create a solid business plan and invest in your staging training will ensure that your passion is also profitable. And if you don’t want to run a staging business, invest in training and then look for a position with a larger staging company. There are lots of ways to be a part of this dynamic industry – you just need to find your niche.
Kristine Vowles the Founder of The Luxury Look still enjoys after 30+ years being involved in the Real Estate Industry as a Leadership Trainer, Investor, Mentor as well as the world of Design and Renovating. Now it is about building relationships, good design, assisting others in achieving their goals and having fun with family, friends and colleagues.