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Showing Your Home to Potential Buyers: Tips for Success

by Desi Sowers

When potential buyers come to look at your home, it’s vital that they feel like it could be theirs.  Here are some tips for showing your house that will help engage buyers emotionally and leave them feeling like they have found their future home.

  1. MAKE THEM FEEL WELCOME

The buyer may be a guest in your home, but don’t make them feel like an intruder.The idea is for them to be able to imagine it as their own.Leave the house while they are looking so that they can speak freely and comfortably about what they are seeing.Let them take their time. If they feel rushed they won’t have a positive experience.Leave a bowl of candy or small treats near the front door with a short note thanking them for coming to see your home.

  1. CHECK THE TEMPERATURE

If it is hot outside, turn on the AC. Set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler than usual so that it runs consistently and isn’t kicking on and off while people are looking. The same applies with heat when it is cold outside (set temp a couple of degrees warmer than usual).You want them to be comfortable in your house so that they will linger as long as possible.

  1. CREATE A MOOD

You want potential buyers to get good vibes from your house the minute they walk through the door.When weather appropriate, light a fire in the fireplace.Set your dining table in a way that is appealing.Have soft music playing.Create and ambiance that is irresistible!

  1. BE CAREFUL WITH SCENTS

Some people are very sensitive to certain smells, so don’t spray the air or use plug in deodorizers.Avoid burning strongly scented candles for the same reason.If weather permits, open the windows (unless it is too noisy outdoors).Most people enjoy the smell of freshly baked cookies, but if you are going to bake, make sure you leave some treats out for the visitors so they aren’t disappointed! The 50 Best Cookie Recipes in the World

  1. MAKE IT VISUALLY PLEASING

Open window coverings to let in natural light.Display appealing seasonal photos in prominent places. If your yard isn’t looking so fabulous, keep window blinds partially closed so that buyers aren’t distracted by what’s outside while looking at the interior of the home.Keep pets and pet paraphernalia out of sight.

 LIGHT IT UP

Turn on every light in the house…even the closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with extra lighting.  A spot light on the floor behind a piece of furniture is a great idea for brightening up a room with few windows. 

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 or Email Desi today for assistance in selling your home!

Photo Credit: outreachmagazine.com

Worth it or Not? Open House Anxiety

by Desi Sowers

Home owners and Realtors often debate whether having an open house is beneficial or not.  Some sellers will insist that having an open house is the best way to sell their home, while others will want nothing to do with having potential buyers traipse through their home.  Real estate professionals have different views on this topic as well.  Some swear by open houses and feel they are critical to sales, while others never hold them and some just have them occasionally.

So, the question remains…if you are selling your home, should you hold an open house?  Here is a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision:

Pros to holding an open house:

  • Attract buyers who may not know how to start the home buying process. Purchasing a home is a process that many people are not familiar with, especially first-time home buyers.  People new to home buying will need a significant amount of guidance and advice.  A positive that may result from having an open house is the possibility of a buyer who doesn’t know where to start coming to see your home.  You may also get the attention of potential buyers who just happen to drive by and see the sign for the open house. 
  • Additional exposure.  One of the most important jobs of a Realtor representing sellers, is making sure their clients’ home is getting ample exposure.  Open houses can give extra exposure through promotional advertising such as street signs, newspaper ads and internet ads.
  • Allows buyers to look at house without feeling pressured.   With the laid-back atmosphere of an open house, prospective buyers will feel more comfortable looking around with little to no pressure from the Realtor or seller.  An interested buyer might want time to analyze the home in detail without someone looking over their shoulder.  It also provides the buyer time to look at specific details of the home that will help them decide if it is the right house for them.

Cons to holding an open house:

  • Slim chance of a sale.  The truth is that a very small percentage of homes sell as a result of open houses.  Honestly, the person that benefits most is the realtor.  Open houses provide the realtor with potential clients.  Private showings of your home are much more likely to result in a buyer than open houses.
  • Unqualified buyers.  One of the first steps in the home buying process is obtaining a Mortgage Pre-Approval. Getting a mortgage pre-approval is essential for knowing what you can afford when buying a home.  At an open house, you may find many people walking through your home who can’t afford it.  It is a waste of time for you and your realtor to have people looking at your home when they cannot afford to possibly purchase it.
  • Nosy neighbors and Looky Loos. Open houses often attract inquisitive neighbors who simply want to see your house and compare it to their own.  They also might just want to see how you have your home decorated.  Looky loos are people who go to open houses with no intention of buying a home.  They just like to look!

The pros and cons of having an open house should be carefully considered before deciding whether to have one. With today’s technology and social media, there are a lot of other ways for people to see your home, but with the right Realtor holding the open house, it can still be the best way to impress potential buyers. If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, contact Desi Sowers and let her explain how an open house can be beneficial for you.  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Preparing Your Home to Sell this Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is the optimum time to sell a house.  In fact, according to a 2016 Zillow Study, homes listed between May 1 through May 15 sold, on average, around 18.5 days faster than homes not listed during this period.  Add this to the fact that the largest number of buyers are actively searching for homes in the months of April, May and June and you will see that getting a property on the market this time of year is a must! What Sellers Can Expect in 2018 is for the market to still be in their favor if the price is right. With inventory low and buyers competing for homes, sellers have the opportunity to get the best price possible for their homes.  Here are some tips that will help improve the odds of your house standing out among the plethora of homes that get put on the market in spring:

- Wash windows inside and out and polish all mirrors.  A little bit of sparkle goes a long way in impressing potential buyers

- Rake the yard and trim back bushes. Curb appeal is the first thing people will notice. Dead leaves and debris do not paint a pretty picture.  In addition, you want a much natural light as possible flooding through your windows, so make sure bushes aren’t blocking the rays.

- Mow the yard diagonally and edge along the driveway and sidewalks.  Mowing diagonally makes yards look larger. And edging shows that you give attention to small details. 

- Plant yellow flowers.  Yellow tulips and daffodils promote feelings of happiness and contentment.

Clean window treatments and open windows.  It will be worth your while to take down your drapes, curtains and blinds to clean them and give them a crisp, fresh look.  Weather permitting, opening windows lets the fresh air in and gives the whole house the feeling of spring.

- Have fresh, fragrant flowers in the house.  Artful home-staging brings color and pleasant aromas indoors.

Polish floors to a high gloss.  Make those floors shine!  Refinish them if necessary.

- Use light colors. Even if you must spend a little to replace items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents that will pay off.  In soft, spring colors such as yellows, pinks, pale blues and lavenders, they will light up a room.

- Spruce up your entryway.  This is the part of your home where buyers will get their first impression.  Make it a good one!

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you get your house listed and ready to sell this spring!

Photo Credit: realtor.com​

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Storage Unit

by Desi Sowers

Whether you are downsizing and need a storage unit to hold belongings you don’t have room for in your home, or you are putting your house on the market and need to store extraneous items so you can stage your rooms to sell, you want to choose one that will best suit your needs while keeping your valued possessions safe and secure.  Here are some questions to ask before choosing a storage unit:

- What are you looking for in a storage unit?  Do you need a large or small one?  A storage until manager can help determine what size unit you need if you provide a list of items you intend to store there.  Will you want climate control?  Units with climate control are more expensive, but if you are storing delicate items, it will be worth the extra cost to keep them safe should temperatures greatly fluctuate.

- What is the condition of the facility?  Observe the facility to see if it is kept clean and tidy.  Ask about pest control and look for any evidence of infestations. Make sure there are loading docks and equipment available to you and that there is sufficient parking near the units.  Check it out at night to see if it is well-lit.  Ask how many units are currently rented. If the number is low, that is a red flag indicating that something might be wrong.

- Where is the storage facility located?  Will it be convenient for you to get there? Storage facilities located in highly populated areas tend to be more expensive than those in more remote areas.  If you are storing things long term and won’t be visiting the unit frequently, choosing one located in a remote area may be less expensive for you. But if you are going to need access to your things on a regular basis, you will want one that is located close to where you live or work.

 - What are the business hours of the facility?  Not all storage facilities are open 24/7.  You will want to make sure that you can get into your storage unit during hours that suit your needs.  Find out if their business hours work with your schedule or if they offer on-demand access.

 - What kind of security do they have?  The fact that you are willing to pay to store your belongings means that they have value to you.  You want them protected.  A well-run storage unit facility should have at least some of the following security features:

  • surveillance system that includes cameras and alarms
  • a strong fence surrounding entire facility
  • a gate that only provides access to people authorized to be there
  • security guards
  • smoke detectors, fire alarms and sprinkler systems
  • well-constructed units built with safety and security in mind (good ventilation to prevent mildew, raised floors in case of flooding, solid doors with strong locks) 

- What is the condition of the facility?  Observe the facility to see if it is kept clean and tidy.  Ask about pest control and look for any evidence of infestations. Make sure there are loading docks and equipment available to you and that there is sufficient parking near the units.  Check it out at night to see if it is well-lit.  Ask how many units are currently rented. If the number is low, that is a red flag indicating that something might be wrong.

 - Do they offer theft and damage insurance coverage for your possessions?  For peace of mind, it is important that they do.

The most important thing to remember is that you should never choose as storage facility without seeing it in person first.  Visit a few and take notes on the positives and negatives of each. Making an informed decision will be the best way to be sure that your treasured personal property is in good hands.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Staging-Your-Home-with-Young-Children

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Decluttering-101

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Packing-it-Up-and-Moving-it-Out

Photo credit: sellallyourstuff.com

With the internet making information about selling and buying homes so readily available, some may wonder if they need to hire a Realtor. The answer to that is YES!  And here are the top ten reasons why:

      1. Education & Experience

There is ample information on the internet about diseases and medications too, but I would bet that if you were sick you would seek out a trained medical doctor to help you.  If you hire a real estate professional, you don’t need to know everything about the housing market or the ins and outs of selling or buying a home.  It is simply the smart thing to do to hire someone who knows more than you do!

      2. Your Agent is Your Intermediary

Agents take the spam out of your property showings.  If you’re looking to purchase a newly built home, your Realtor will keep builders’ agents from overwhelming you. If you’re selling, your Realtor will help you avoid wasting your time with “lookie loos” who aren’t really interested in purchasing and keep the focus on serious buyers.

     3. Neighborhood Knowledge

Realtors make it their duty to either have intimate knowledge about the neighborhoods in their area or to know where to find that information.  They can provide comparable sales information and tell you where to find a plethora of demographic material about the neighborhood, such as data about schools and crime.  They also have access to information regarding other homes for sale in the area and can use that knowledge to help you be competitive whether pricing your house to sell or bidding on a house to buy.

     4. Price Guidance

Realtors don’t select prices for buyers and sellers, but they can help guide them to make intelligent choices for themselves.  They will supply data regarding current market supply and demand conditions that will assist both buyers and seller with pricing negotiations.

      5. Market Conditions

A lot of time and energy can be saved by allowing Realtors to impact their knowledge regarding current market conditions.  Yes, you can probably research it yourself, but do you truly want to spend your time doing that? This type of information will have a large impact on what you ultimately decide to do. 

     6. Professional Networking

With a competent Realtor, clients will have an “in” with other professionals they may need to buy or sell.  Legal liability will keep agents from recommending certain individuals or companies over others, but they know which vendors have reputations for efficiency, competency and competitive pricing.  So, they can provide a list of references with whom they have worked and assist you in making a wise selection.

    7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

Top producing Realtors are great negotiators because unlike buyers and sellers, they are not emotionally driven. In addition, they have negotiation skills that make them excel at their job. They are professionally trained to represent their clients’ best interests and to keep information confidential from competing interests.

    8. Paperwork!

Today’s real estate purchase agreements can run ten pages or more. That’s a lot of paperwork. One tiny mistake can land you in court or cost you thousands of dollars. Avoid the risk and allow a professional to guide you through the process!

    9. Questions After Closing

A smooth closing transaction doesn’t always mean that there won’t be complications later.  There might questions that were overlooked in the excitement of closing on a home. A reputable agent will be there by your side even after the sale is complete to answer any questions that come up.

   10. Relationship Development

Successful real estate professionals depend upon referrals for continued business. This gives them strong incentive to make their clients happy and satisfied. And it also means that your Realtor will be there for you if and when you are ready to sell or buy again. Don’t be surprised to receive periodic updates from your Realtor in the mail.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in The New River Valley, contact Desi Sowers to help you with all your real estate needs!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Inspections-are-Important-Heres-Why

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Debunking-the-20-Down-Payment-Myth

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

How to Prevent Electrical Hazards in Your Home

by Desi Sowers

Electricity is a beautiful thing.  It provides warmth in the winter and cools you off during hot summer months. It gives you light in the dark and makes chores like washing/drying clothes and doing dishes so much easier.  You take it for granted because you’ve always had it and you certainly can’t even imagine what life would be like without it.  Because it is such a normal part of your life, you probably don’t stop to think about how dangerous it can be.  It is important to be educated about possible electrical problems in your home so that you will know how to deal with them before they happen.

  1. Do you know how old your home is?  Often older homes don’t have the capacity for electricity that current technology uses.  If you have never had an electrical safety inspection by a professional, now is the time to do so.  If your home’s electrical wiring has not been updated to safely handle all the current that your family uses, it is crucial to have it done .
  2. Is your electrical panel hot to the touch?  It shouldn’t be.  Check the brand of your panel. Several brands are outdated or faulty and should be replaced.  A faulty electrical panel can lead to a fire.  That is not something anyone should risk.
  3. Outlets should not be hot either.  If you feel an electrical outlet and it is warm or hot, it means there could be a problem.  There are dangerous issues indicated by a warm/hot outlet. Whether it’s too much demand on the outlet, faulty or melting wiring, or other precarious situations, you don’t want to ignore it.
  4. Keep plugged in appliances away from water.  This seems obvious, right?  But sometimes limited space forces us to use electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs.  Whether you are blow-drying your hair at your bathroom vanity or your kitchen only has one plug for your toaster and it’s right by the sink, be extra careful.  If a plugged-in appliance gets wet, don’t unplug it. Go to your electrical panel and unplug the power source for the outlet you’re using.  Then you can unplug it.
  5. Make sure you are using the correct wattage light bulbs.  Using a higher wattage than can safely be accommodated by a lamp or light fixture may overload its wiring, which is a fire hazard.  It’s ok to use a light bulb with wattage equal to or less than that called for on the lamp’s socket.  If you want brighter light, look for a lamp that uses a higher wattage bulb.
  6. Use an experienced, licensed electrician to handle your home’s electrical repairs and/or replacements.  Professional electricians are well-trained and have years of on-the-job experience before being granted a license.  They will know current codes and regulations and can safely navigate any problems they might come across.

It’s easy to prevent electrical hazards if you are informed and educated about what to be aware of.  So, don’t take electricity or your family’s safety for granted!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Aging-of-Your-House-How-Long-Will-It-Last

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-for-Winter

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Four-steps-to-protect-your-home-from-winter-water-damage

Putting Your House on the Market During the Holidays

by Desi Sowers

The idea of putting your home on the market during the holiday season may seem overwhelming at first, but it turns out there are several good reasons to do so. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to get your house sold before the end of the year!

  1. If people are looking for a home during the holiday season, chances are they are serious buyers.
  2. Serious buyers have fewer properties to look at during this time of year, which means less competition and more money for you!
  3. Since the number of listings will increase dramatically in January, that means more competition and less money for you.
  4. Who doesn’t love a home delightfully decorated for the holidays?  Homes show better when festively dressed up!
  5. Buyers may have more time to look at houses during their holiday breaks.
  6. Some people want to buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.
  7. If you sell now, it may provide an opportunity for you to be a non-contingent buyer during the Spring, when many more houses are on the market for less money. This will allow you to sell high and buy low.

Tips for Selling a Home During the Holidays

If you would like to talk more about selling your home, give me a call at 540-320-1328 or visit my website to discover your new home!

Open Floor Plans: Love Them or Leave Them?

by Desi Sowers

Watch any of the home renovation or buying/selling shows on HGTV and you will hear people asking for open floor plans. Even in small houses, people want the feel of spaciousness that an open floor plan provides.  A “great room” with no wall between the kitchen and living space seems to be the most popular choice when it comes to floor plan considerations.  But is it the best choice for everyone?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of the open floor plan and see if it’s the right decision for you and your family.

Pros:

  • You won’t feel isolated.  If you are cooking or doing dishes in a kitchen that flows into the family room,  you will be able to chat with family and friends or continue watching television instead of being stuck in a closed off room by yourself.
  • You will be able to keep an eye on the kids.  A great room with no walls allows you to watch your kids at play while you are cooking or cleaning.
  • More natural light.  Without interior walls, sunlight will flow through the house from the exterior wall windows.  You will also have an unobstructed view of the great outdoors.
  • Ideal for entertaining.  When you have guests over, they can congregate throughout the great room, so you won’t miss anything if you are in the kitchen cooking and serving food.

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy.  If your household includes people of various ages on a multitude of different schedules, an open floor plan can make things challenging.  For example, if your teenager wants to have friends over for a study group at the kitchen table, but you want to watch a movie.  Or perhaps you want to read quietly on the couch, but your daughter’s having a sleepover and they want to have pizza and bake cookies.  A separate, enclosed kitchen may be better for some families.
  • Limited wall space. Placing furniture in an open space is tricky sometimes, especially if you have a lot of windows.  And if you are an art lover, you are going to want blank walls for displaying your treasures.
  • Overwhelming mess.  Smaller, enclosed rooms are easier to keep neat and tidy.  With open floor plans, stuff tends to spread out.  And you may not want kids’ toys in your main living space, so a smaller, enclosed room might be your preference for a play area.
  • Too noisy.  With an open plan, there are more acoustics, therefore noise travels further. A quiet conversation in the kitchen may not be possible with the television on across the way.

Remember, just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.  Think about what is going to suit your family’s needs before starting your home search.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-to-Millennial-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Welcome-to-the-New-River-Valley

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

Home Inspections are Important: Here’s Why

by Desi Sowers

With all the fees and expenses involved in purchasing a home, it may be tempting to skip the home inspection to avoid spending the money.  But in the long run, it may cost you more to skip it.  Home inspections sometimes reveal things that ultimately could have cost you way more than the fee involved.

While you might believe the sellers are being honest about the condition of the home, it’s important not to take their word for it.  Truthfully, they probably are being honest.  But they don’t necessarily see what could be “wrong” with the house any more than you do.  That’s why you need an expert to come in and do the inspection. They can find things that never would be noticed by the naked eye because they know what to look for. Home inspectors can also give you advice and things to look out for in the future. With that information, you have an idea of how to prepare for potential costs down the road.

A home inspection can be a deal breaker as well.  For example, if sellers offer a discounted price or cash back for skipping the inspection, that is a huge red flag!  Walk away from the deal.   A home inspection only takes a few hours and is paid for by buyers, so there is no reason sellers should protest unless there are critical issues in the home they know about and are trying to hide.

When hiring a home inspector, you want someone with many years of experience and proper certifications and licenses. You also want someone who will be thorough…willing to go through the basement, attic and up on the roof to check out every nook and cranny of the home.  It’s important to gather as much information about the house as possible so that you know what you are getting in to.

It is not mandatory for you to be present for the inspection, but it’s a good idea to be there.  Some inspectors are happy to have you walk along with them and ask questions as you go.  Others will want to do the inspection on their own and then have you do a walk through with them after they are done.  Either way, be sure to look carefully through the report they give you and ask as many questions as you want.  Remember that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to have them go over the report with you so that you have a clear understanding of it.

Even if your inspection comes up clean, the fee you pay is worth the price to have peace of mind. Include it in your home-buying budget and don’t think of it as an “extra” expense.  It is a crucial element of your decision in purchasing the home and paying a $450 fee and finding nothing wrong is better than skipping it and ending up having to replace your roof for $3000! 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Investing-in-Real-Estate-Tips-for-Success

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

Staging Your Home with Young Children

by Desi Sowers

You have placed your house on the market and now it’s time for potential buyers to come and look at it. Keeping it clean, tidy and ready to show can be challenging in the best of circumstances, but even more so when you have young children.  Here are a few staging tips for keeping your house ready for last minute showings while making it attractive to buyers at the same time:

  1. Begin by removing any excess toys and clutter.  Cumbersome toys like play kitchens and picnic tables take up a lot of space and can made a room look crowded and smaller than it is - so it’s a good idea to put these in storage while you are trying to sell.
     
  2. Allow your children to pick out a few favorite toys that can be easily stored in attractive containers when showing the house.  Choose an option that makes tidying up quick and easy.  Store all other toys out of sight.
     
  3. Potential buyers like to be able to see the house as they would have it. So, remove kids’ art work from the refrigerator and convert the playroom into a multi-purpose room. For example, you can stage the playroom as an office by adding a desk and chair, or as a den by adding a small sofa.  That will make the room more appealing to buyers without children.
     
  4. Consider a fresh coat of paint, especially if you have colorful rooms that were painted to appeal to your little ones.  Not only will the new paint cover finger-prints and marks on the walls, but choosing neutral colors for all the rooms will help sell your home more quickly and easily.
     
  5. Don’t forget that the outside of your house is the first thing potential buyers see.  Keep outdoor toys to a minimum and make sure they are stored neatly.  You never know when buyers might be driving by and you don’t want a bunch of toys to create and eye-sore that makes them hesitate to look at your home.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Decluttering-101

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Lunch-Logistics-Organizing-Your-Kitchen-for-Back-to-School-Lunches

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Packing-it-Up-and-Moving-it-Out

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