(BPT) – Real estate experts agree: dirt and clutter are the anti-staging elements that can send buyers running for the door before they ever think of making an offer. Prior to staging your home, invest some time in deep cleaning it, paying attention to everything from the front walk to the garbage disposal to the air inside your home.
Once you’ve created a clean foundation, follow through with these quick cleaning tasks before showings:
1. Sweep in front of the house.
A pot of flowers on the front step is great, but they won’t look that welcoming if dirt and debris are visible too. Thoroughly sweep front walks, stairs and entryways, and don’t forget to clear cobwebs above the door. Put away any children’s toys or gardening tools that may be in the front yard. Hide trash and recycling containers out of sight.
2. Freshen the aromas inside.
Pet and cooking smells are major turnoffs for home buyers, but even if your house has neither, freshening the indoor scent can have a positive effect on a buyer’s mood. However, you don’t want to saturate your home in overpowering, chemical-based scents, either. To deodorize more naturally, try cleaning with essential oils. Mix 2 teaspoons of Aura Cacia Main Squeeze Essential Oil Blend, 1 3/4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of Borax and 1/4 teaspoon of unscented liquid soap in a 16-ounce bottle. Before a showing, use the mixture to wipe down kitchen counters, leaving behind clean countertops and a fresh, energizing citrus scent.
3. Speed clean the kitchen.
Now that your counters are clutter-free, sparkling and smelling good, just a few more tasks will get your kitchen ready to show. Wipe away any fingerprints on appliances, and put away all pots, pans, dishes and glassware in their proper place. Store pet bowls out of sight, give the floor a quick sweep and dry the interior of the sink with a paper towel.
4. Put your best foot forward in the bath.
It’s tough but critical to keep the most-used room in the house looking its best. You probably used your bathroom to get ready this morning, so wipe down surfaces to ensure no hair or debris lingers. Check the mirror for spots and wipe and dry the sink. If the bathtub or shower door show signs of recent use, dry them off. Store used soap, shampoo, scrubbies, loofahs, wash cloths and towels out of sight.
5. Clean carpets.
Nothing says “show home” like fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet! Just before you leave the house for a showing, give carpets a quick pass with the vacuum. Before you do your other last-minute cleaning tasks, mix 1 teaspoon of Aura Cacia Petal Power Essential Oil Blend with a cup of baking soda and sprinkle on carpets. After 10 minutes, vacuum away the powder and leave a light, refreshing floral scent behind.
6. Take out the trash.
Go through every room with a trash can and make sure it’s empty. It may not seem rational, but many buyers will equate trash in a waste basket with an untidy home. It’s especially important to empty trash that may stink, such as in the kitchen. Remove trash, store it in a sealed receptacle outside the house, and give potentially stinky trash cans a refreshing shot of sweet basil and lavender aroma with a DIY garbage pail pod.
For more home care ideas and essential oil recipes, visit www.auracacia.com.
(BPT) – Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 – when you’re selling your home, you’ll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.
“Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient – all of which are bonuses when you’re trying to sell a house,” says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. “Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers.”
According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.
Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:
* Keyless/remote entry door locks – Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock – available from multiple manufacturers – you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.
* Smart lighting – From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.
* DIY security systems – Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.
* Smart appliances – The Internet of Things (IoT) – everyday objects that have network connectivity – includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you – and each other – wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone – so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.
While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.
* Smart plugs – One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.
* Temperature controls – Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.
“Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install,” Lewis says. “Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017.”
It’s difficult to know when is the best time to sell, or how to get the most money for your house, but you don’t need to go through the process alone.
You may be wondering if prices are projected to rise or fall…or if you should rent your house instead of selling it. The free eGuide below will answer many of your questions and likely bring up a few things you haven’t even thought about yet.
Check it out, and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
Spring kicks off the peak home hunting months of the year, but it isn’t until summer that things really get cooking. While there are pros and cons to buying and selling homes at various times throughout the year, summer can be, on average 25 to 30 percent more active than the annual average.
In summer you have a real mix of buyers and sellers… some serious and some not-so-serious. In the winter months, many buyers searching for homes would only do so if they absolutely had to. In the summer, there are often a larger number of buyers just toying with the idea. (Many of the serious buyers are eager to get settled before school starts in the fall.)
Selling homes in the summer requires its own brand of seasonal marketing and showing. Here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you invite buyers to consider your home:
- Keep it cool, but don’t keep it dark. Your instinct may be to close the blinds and draw the drapes, but making your rooms feel dark and shut-in is counterproductive. Run the A/C and keep the air circulating. While your wallet may not appreciate the bump in your power bill, imagine how expensive it can be to keep the house on the market.
- Stage it inside and out. Have a pool deck? What about a garden patio? Make them as inviting as you would the living room or kitchen. Stage them appropriately and tell the story of what it might be like to live with such nice amenities. Think magazine photo shoot!
- Make the lawn sing. Curb appeal can be king in the summer months, especially when the neighbors’ lawns may be looking a little brown by comparison. Find bright flowers that can withstand the heat and provide a high-contrast to your green grass.
- Ride the sunset. With the longer daylight hours, you may have buyers who want to check out your home closer to dinner time, once the hottest hours of the afternoon have passed. Try and roll with the disruption… buyers prefer to see a home when the owners aren’t around.
Take advantage of the summer sales activity! I’d be happy to guide you on the buy or sell side of this white hot market: Teresa@TeresaButler.com or 614-565-8161
The spring is traditionally real estate’s busiest time of year. But one real estate economist believes that this summer may trump the spring as the most robust time of buying or selling a home for 2016.
“From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, a real estate broker as well as a professor of finance and associate dean at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”
The groundwork for a booming summer market has already been laid out. New-home sales in April posted their strongest month in more than eight years. Existing-home sales were up for the second consecutive month. What’s more, historically low mortgage rates may increase the demand for housing this summer.
“In some cities, especially in the Midwest, prices have plenty of room to go up,” says Johnson. “Real estate is still a really good buy in places like Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland.”
In some markets – like Dallas, Denver, and Houston – home prices are rising rapidly and some people are concerned prices may be overheating. However, Johnson doesn’t predict a downturn in prices any time soon, and he believes most markets will continue to perform strongly due to strong demand. That said, he does believe that those looking to buy into real estate as an investment may have a more difficult time finding a good deal.
“In markets like South Florida, Seattle and Portland, you may find you’re going to start to see lower probabilities that you’ll be able to successfully market your property,” Johnson says. “But while you may see extended marketing time and prices going flat, there’s no reason to believe there’s going to be a big dent in prices in these cities.”
Source: “Economist Says Summer May Be the Hottest Season to Buy and Sell,” RISMedia (June 5, 2016)
(BPT) – If you’ll be selling your home this spring or summer, your Realtor will probably talk to you about staging the house to maximize its appeal to buyers. Staging is a simple process that can have a big impact on how quickly your home sells and, Realtors say, how much buyers are willing to pay for it.
If you’ve decided to stage your home for a speedier, more profitable sale this season, keep in mind these three often-overlooked tricks to make your home look, feel and smell great:
“Aromas significantly impact emotions, so making your house smell good is a great way to appeal to potential buyers on a very elemental level,” says Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, an essential oil brand “But be careful to not overwhelm with scents that are too ‘perfumey’ or synthetic, as those could cause adverse reactions in people who suffer from allergies. Instead, opt for natural freshening scents like lemon or purifying scents like eucalyptus.”
Avery suggests warming water on the stove with a few drops of your favorite essential oil such as cinnamon, clove, vanilla or orange. It’s a quick, low-cost way to create a welcoming aroma in your home. Deodorize carpets with a mixture of 18 drops of essential oil and 1 cup of baking soda. Or, you can easily create your own air freshener by mixing your favorite essential oils and distilled water in a spray bottle. For longer-lasting, comforting aroma, try this recipe for aroma crystals:
Vanilla amber aroma crystals
1 cup coarse-grained, chunky sea salt
1 teaspoon jojoba or grapeseed oil (just enough to make the salts glisten)
25 drops Aura Cacia Vanilla Precious Essentials Oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops sweet orange essential oil
Mix salt and oils, pour into a decorative dish or bowl and set out on a table. Placing the crystals in a warm sunny window or near a heat register will help diffuse the delicious aroma throughout the room. Stir in additional essential oils to boost the scent as needed.
Declutter even where you don’t think it counts
Your real estate agent will likely tell you to declutter — removing extra items from kitchen countertops and from tables throughout the home, packing away family photos and excess knick-knacks. All those things are important, but what happens when a potential buyer opens the hallway closet, or goes into the walk-in closet in your master bedroom?
It’s important to declutter everywhere, not just the spots you immediately see when you walk into a house. Serious buyers will open drawers, cabinets and closets and if those spots are stuffed full, they’ll look smaller, less impressive and unappealing.
Likewise, clean out your garage; it’s hard for a buyer to appreciate the expansiveness of your two-car garage if that’s where you’ve stored all the boxes of stuff you removed from the house. If you have a lot of stuff to pack away, consider renting a storage unit for a few months.
Clean as if your life depended on it
Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, but even a hint of dirt in either room can wipe out a buyer’s good impression of your home. A deep clean is essential in these rooms, and will create a positive effect on multiple levels; your home will look and smell clean, fresh and newer.
In the bathroom, be sure bathtubs and showers are meticulously clean. Descale showerheads and glass shower doors, clean and polish metal drain grates as well as fixtures. Clean grout, mirrors and every crevice. Add a few drops of lemon or sweet orange essential oils to sink and shower drains to keep them smelling fresh.
In the kitchen, in addition to clean countertops, floors and appliance exteriors, make sure the inside of ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers are also clean. Since kitchen appliances usually come with the house, buyers may look inside them. Change the filter in your kitchen hood and make sure the light over the stove is working. Finally, while clean windows are important throughout the house, they’re essential in a kitchen where buyers want to envision themselves in a bright, welcoming environment.
For more staging tips, contact me at 614-565-8161 or Teresa@TeresaButler.com. I will send you my free staging e-book.
The devil is really in the details when buyers look at a home. Lots of everyday wear and tear that you don’t even notice can ding your home in the eyes of potential buyers. Here’s my list of ten simple improvements you can do to help your home sell faster:
- Spruce up your baseboards: Pets, kids, and stumbling husbands in the dark can make a mess of your baseboards. Repainting baseboards after repairing scratches with putty can make the border of any room look new.
- Fill in nail holes: Part of interior repainting should be careful attention to those errant nail holes from pictures, shelves, and other wall-mounted baubles. Putty, smooth, sand and paint!
- Sniff for smokers: Filter replacement is a must if someone’s been puffing in your home. Also wash down those walls, prime them to seal in any cooked-in nicotine, and repaint. Be sure to check entryways and lawns for cigarette butts, too!
- Review the roof: Do you have missing singles? Broken tiles? Is mold and moss sprouting up there? Do some cleaning and spot replacing.
- Reinforce your gutters: Clean them out, dry them out, then caulk them to prevent leaks. This will keep water off the siding, reducing staining and damage.
- Replace bad vinyl floors: Not only are they tacky when they’re cracked or cut, but they can suggest water damage to buyers.
- Repair dripping faucets: Buyers will turn faucets on and off. What will they find? If your sinks and baths dribble, fix them before buyers imagine their future headache.
- Tune up screens: Did you have a dog that liked to lean against the front door? Look for the sagging, hanging, bent, and bubbling screens, especially around doors. New screens look clean. Old screens suggest neglect.
- Patch cabinet scratches: Tibet Almond Stick, Old English Scratch Cover, or even some artful re-staining can make cabinets seem new. Remember to polish them up when you’re done!
- Reseal wobbly toilets: If the bowl moves when you sit on it, the bolts are rusted, or the bathroom floor is damp and discolored around the commode, replace the toilet or at the very least reseal it.
Download the Staging Report for more tips on preparing your home for sale.
Rising home prices, demand from home buyers, and less competition is making 2015 a stellar year to sell for many U.S. home owners across the country, says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president.
Blomquist points to these three factors behind why this year is shaping up more favorably for sellers:
1. Stronger demand coming from buyers: Sellers in many markets are seeing stronger demand from a larger pool of buyers, including first-time buyers, boomerang buyers (previous owners who lost their home to foreclosure), as well as traditional owner-occupant buyers. Particularly of note lately, the number of buyers using Federal Housing Administration – typically low down payment loans often used by first-time home buyers – is on the rise, accounting for 23 percent of all single-family home and condo sales with financing in the second half of 2015. That marks the highest share since the first quarter of 2013, according to RealtyTrac’s Midyear 2015 U.S. Home Sales report.
2. Home prices are skyrocketing: Single-family home and condo sellers in the first half of this year sold for an average of 13 percent above their original purchase price. “So far in 2015, [sellers] are realizing the biggest gains in home price appreciation since 2007,” Blomquist says. “In June, sellers sold for above estimated market value on average for the first time in nearly two years.” Median sales prices of existing-homes pushed above the previous 2006 peak to a record high in June, the National Association of REALTORS® reported this week. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $236,400 in June – surpassing the peak median sales price set in July 2006 at $230,400.
3. Sellers have less competition: Inventories of for-sale homes remains tight, which has forced buyers to have to compete for the limited supply. Distressed sales –properties in the foreclosure process or bank-owned – accounted for 8 percent of all single-family and condo sales in June, the lowest monthly share since January 2011. In 2011, the share of distressed sales had reached a monthly peak of nearly 46 percent of all single-family and condo sales.
Source: “2015 Great Year to Sell,” RealtyTrac