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1.   The Lane Realty Advantage         
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Selling Your Home with Smarts
  4.1  Improving Existing Properties for Sale
  4.2
  4.3 Seller's To Do List
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top4.1 Improving Existing Properties for Sale

Improving Existing Properties For Resale

You are either going to sell your home at retail or wholesale. It's up to you, the seller.

Sellers need to know that although they highly value their own properties, buyers will do just the opposite. Buyers are notorious for disproportionately discounting a property to its actual condition and true market value. Sellers have to understand that market value, however, is directly related to perception, and that the desirability of a property is its true value.

What can I do to improve my home before I sell?

Congratulations! Maybe you're moving to a new city, new country, or just a new neighbourhood because you got a new job or a promotion or have a new addition to the family. Now it's time to pack up and move out. Before you start thinking about all of that, however, you need to think like a buyer -- the kind of buyer who will look at your home with a discerning eye. Without spending a lot of money, you can help improve the marketability and value of your home.

Cleaner than clean

Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than an unclean and cluttered appearance. Take a pad and pen on a thorough tour of your home. We're not only going to look for smudges on walls, stains on the floors, and dust behind the refrigerator, but for cluttered areas, as well. Is there a natural path that allows free movement from place to place in a room, and from room to room in general? Your home office or craft area/workshop may have boxes of things which can be relocated to give an appearance of more space. That doesn't mean hiding it all in the closet! Ask anyone willing to listen, and they'll tell you that apart from kitchens and bathrooms, the most important item is closet and storage space. Clean out the closets a little to show off their roomy interiors. The same holds true for the garage, basement/crawl space, and storage shed.

Now you can get out that mop and pail. As we mentioned above, it is essential to have the kitchen and bathrooms sparkling clean. Make those windows laugh, as they used to say on TV. Pay attention to the areas around switchplates on the walls for fingerprints. Doorways are good places for smudges to accumulate. You never know when your agent will call to let you know that a potential buyer wants to look at your house, so you'll have to keep it clean.

Repair it now if you can

Don't forget to add to your cleaning list anything that needs replacing or repairing. It doesn't take much time, effort, or money to re-caulk a sink or replace a light bulb. Replacing the old washers in leaky taps, mending window screens, and lubricating squeaky doors and windows are short jobs, too. More complicated repairs to plumbing , heating, or electrical systems should be noted and dealt with. Unless you know what you are doing with these systems, call a pro or two for quotes. Any potential hazard to you or a buyer should be dealt with immediately.

Knowing where to draw the line on repairs is a judgement call. A small crack in the walkway or driveway probably won't sink a potential buyer's interest. Maybe they won't like the paint scheme or carpeting. No matter what you do in these areas, a potential purchaser is bound to want to personalise the decor, anyway.

And speaking of personalised ...

Part of the "clutter" referred to earlier would take into account your fishing trophies or those "beautiful" wedding gifts that you have to keep on display in case of visits by relatives. Off to storage -- NOT THE CLOSET -- they go. Remember, the purpose of the exercise is to sell the home -- not show off your memorabilia. Buyers will tour your home all the while thinking of how their own furniture and possessions will look in the home. In general, put yourself in their shoes, and also keep these thoughts in mind while you are visiting potential new homes for you and your family.

Everybody out!

Ever heard of "kerb appeal"? With your notepad in hand, take a walk outside, and look for weeds and dead shrubs or branches. Cut and rake the lawn to dispose of leaves and clippings. Take care of the flower beds. Don't forget to check out the condition of shutters and eaves, paying attention to painting needs. How does that old shed look?

As honest as the day is long

OK. You've dealt with the visible and cosmetic areas. Let's turn our attention to major faults that you've decided not to deal with for whatever reason. It is advisable to give full disclosure of any problems of which you are aware. In many places, if a real estate agent or vendor can be shown to have knowledge of an undisclosed problem, he or she may become involved in expensive lawsuits. Purchasers may be willing and able to fix these problems on their own. The need for small repairs or even a "handyman's special" won't necessarily hurt the chances of a successful sale.

Cost vs. value

Apply this test to any repair or improvement you are contemplating in the sale of your home: I am aiming to make my home more saleable, mindful that the cost of any improvement must raise the value enough to warrant the outlay of money. Will my project accomplish these goals? Here is another area where using a real estate agent can pay off. They deal with buyers and sellers every day. They probably have a good idea of what buyers are looking for. Don't be afraid to consult your agent. Here's a quick list of what the market has to say about potential for return on money spent on home improvements :

Kitchen: 73%
Bathroom: 71%
Interior or exterior painting: 62%
Family room: 56%
Finished basement: 52%
Landscaping: 49%
New furnace: 48%
Central air: 43%
Separate living unit: 40%
Adding a home office: 35%
Inground pool: 16%

top4.2 Blanche’s Best Make-Ready List Ever

Note: Some of the advice herein is specific to American selling styles - most of it is very relevant no matter where you live!

Are you ready to sell your home? Great! Let's get started with the basics. Your agent can market your home more effectively when it is ready for presentation. Here is a list of things you can do to help bring a quick offer at the price your want.

1. Adjust Your Attitude. You have just put your biggest investment into the hands of a real estate professional, who will successfully market your home for you. Your agent will be dealing with other real estate professionals who will also be marketing your home. Believe it or not, some sellers actually hamstring their agents by refusing to listen to their advice, especially when it comes to preparing the house for market. Don't you be one of those folks! Your agent has no agenda other than to sell your home, so suggestions she/he makes to put the home in better condition or make the home more visually attractive are simply to broaden the home's appeal to the most buyers.

2. Remember the Rules. You want to sell your home for the most. The buyer wants to buy it for the least. You are at opposite poles and must find a way to meet in the middle for a sale to take place.

Homes are purchased in two price ranges - wholesale or retail, with no exceptions. The less you have done to prepare the home for market, the bigger hit you will take in the sales price. Buyers discount repairs and deficiencies way beyond their actual costs, because of several reasons - they discount according to a psychological "disgust" factor, and they don't necessarily know the true costs of repairs so they will tend to overestimate, and third they see it as the seller's job to make the home ready, so if the buyer has to do repairs, they want to be paid for their time and trouble. Another reason you want to do repairs is that obvious repairs heighten awareness, and buyers will look more critically and suspiciously at the house as a whole.

By the same token, homes that are in good repair give buyers a sense of security, plus they can see themselves "living with" things they don't like more easily. They also think the home is worth what you asking. Buyers will pay top dollar for well-maintained properties.

3. Move Past the Memories. It may be hard because you have spent years and a lot of money personalising your home, but that is exactly why your home won't appeal to a majority of buyers. It has your stamp, not theirs.

Regardless of the quality of your tastes, every person is different and has their own unique style. That means your buyer wants a personalised home, too. So it stands to reason that making the home as neutral and clutter-free will make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in the home with their own things. You may love orange walls and sunny corners, but your buyer may be an Aubusson rug collector and shun the sun.

Many sellers can't believe that buyers will not view their home with the same appreciation that they do. You have good taste, why shouldn't everyone appreciate what you have done? The reality is that buyers will come in and if they like the home, they will immediately start discussing how they will change it! Keep in mind, if the buyer didn't appreciate the home at its core, they wouldn't make an offer.

It may help you to think of the home as yours no longer. It now belongs to the buyer. The buyer just hasn't paid for it yet. Focus on selling the home as a means to meet your goals and concentrate on moving forward and don't look behind. For whatever reason, you are leaving this home to go on to something new.

4. Model Your Home by Moving Out. Renting a temporary storage unit to take care of a lot of the clutter in your home is much cheaper than losing the interest of potential buyers. Remember the buyer needs to be able to see the home, and that means looking around and past your belongings so they can imagine their own things in the house. As soon as you decide to put your home on the market, start cleaning out closets and getting rid of junk. Give yourself a goal - that you will have all the closets and clutter cleaned out three days before the MLS tour.

If you can afford it, more than one home has been sold from being "staged." That is when a professional staging service comes in, rearranges your things or brings in furnishings to best accent your home.

You can also begin to store things in boxes in preparation for moving. A buyer will forgive moving boxes more readily than clutter. They can see you are serious about selling and ready to deal. You'll also be glad that much of the work toward moving is already done when you actually do go to contract.

5. Dig In on Details. Get everyone in the house mobilised for a barracks tour. Pretend you are at boot camp, the CO is coming and if everything isn't spic and span, you'll have to clean the latrines with a toothbrush!

Are the windows washed? How will you sell the view of the garden through dirty, fingerprinted glass? Look at your plants. Your Bromeliad is dormant. What are the odds that your buyer is going to understand why you have these dirt-filled containers with sleepy, brown-leafed plants around? You love dogs, but is a buyer going to enjoy stepping through your dog's backyard powder room to see the back of the house? Clean it up. Your children's science experiments on the kitchen window sill must go, especially if they are growing mould or house bugs. Do you like to work on cars or motorcycles? Great, but get those steel carcasses out of the garage and the driveway for the duration. If you can afford a cleaning service, now is the time. They can come in and shine places you wouldn't think of, and they can save you so much effort that you can put your time and energy toward your other goals - finding a new home or making preparations for the home you have already found. This is a treat you deserve, and will go a long way toward keeping your stamina up as you move to your next home.

6. Clean Out the Closets. Closets and storage are the third most important feature buyers seek in homes after number of bedrooms and baths. In your flurry to clean, don't throw everything into the closets - that is the first place your buyers will look! Instead get the family mobilised again to clean out at least one closet a day. Where to put the stuff? Throw it out, have a garage sale, give it to a charitable organisation or put it in your just-rented storage facility.

Pay special attention to:

Beds - make the beds daily; an unmade bed is like seeing you in your underwear to a buyer
Pets - sweep pet hair daily, keep dogs bathed, arrange pet care during open houses or showings
Plants - green or flowering only, trim bad leaves
Closets and Storage - If you can't see the back of the closet, it's too full; ditto for the pantry
Built-in drawers - must open freely and easily: again, watch for clutter
Countertops - keep free of clutter
Floors - have carpets cleaned; put down protectors; get wood floors refinished; sweep often

Look for easy, inexpensive, and quick ways to improve your home. Make it a family project. Paint does wonders, and gives that clean-slate feeling to the buyer. Paint is the minimum cosmetic improvement that buyers expect, so if you don't have fresh paint, they will assume nothing else has been maintained either. Put some seasonal flowers to add kerb appeal to the front of the house. Change door knobs and cabinet handles if discoloured, old or rattling. Put on new deadbolt locks.

In today's competitive environment, the difference between whether a home sells quickly or not is often in how it is first introduced to the market. Your home must be at its best or it will immediately be discounted to "wholesale."

If the agents who have viewed your home deem it wholesale, overpriced or unshowable, they will stop showing it to their buyers, or you will find that your offers are increasingly lower or stop altogether. Then you have no choice but to lower your asking price, or remove your home from the market.

One way to keep abreast of buyer's likes and dislikes is to ask for feedback. Agents are busy, but that is no excuse for an agent to enter your home with a buyer and not give you honest feedback. Don't take no for an answer. If the problem is correctable, do it. Then have your agent call that buyer back and tell her/him the problem has been corrected and invite them for another look.

By doing your "homework," you can help your agent market your home more successfully.

- By Blanche Evans http://realtytimes.com/ © Real Times.

top4.3 Seller's To Do List

SETTING THE STAGE TO SELL

Your home will sell. There’s no question about that - in today’s market or tomorrow’s, good or bad. However, if you put your home on the market without preparing it for sale, you may long wait for an offer. You also may not realise your home‘s greatest return on investment.

You don’t have to turn your pockets inside out to get it ready to sell. Some outlay may be necessary for painting, for replacing worn woodwork, carpeting, cabinet doors, or for repairing broken fixtures or appliances.

There are, however, many fix-ups that cost absolutely nothing - except a little time and elbow grease. These fix-ups will make all the difference in whether or not your home makes the most of itself.

Here are a few tips for getting your home ready to show itself off to your pocketbook’s best advantage:

OUTDOORS

  1. Spruce up all around the house. Keep lawn and shrubbery trimmed and free of bicycles and other clutter. Keep the garden beds weeded and mulched.
  2. Put a flower pot on the front step and keep it watered and trimmed.
  3. Fill potholes in your driveway and tidy up walkways
  4. Clean off your outdoor furniture; remove any rust (or toss out the rusted item). .
  5. Clear out the garage of everything but cars. If yours has become a two car attic, throw out the excess.
  6. Straighten gutters, the TV antenna, the fence - and other things that sag
  7. Fix doorbells, tighten loose doorknobs, and oil squeaking hinges.
  8. Repair broken windows and shutters.
INDOORS
  1. Clean everything in and out of sight. Shampoo rugs and wax floors. Wash or brush walls. Wash windows and clean blinds and curtains.
  2. Weed clutter out of closets and cupboards.
  3. Create space by storing some of the furniture you’ve found useful (bureaus, bookcases, storage chests, oversized chairs) but which makes a crowded impression.
  4. Place the remaining furniture so that traffic can flow easily from room to room.
  5. Unless you’re a skilled artist, scale down your personal art work (portraits, landscapes), posters, signs, and family photos, especially in teenagers’ rooms. Create a feeling of spaciousness.
  6. Keep blinds and curtains open, to admit as much light as possible, but screen out unappealing views.
  7. Let your kitchen look warm and welcoming, not a hectic workplace. Keep your sink shining and free of dirty dishes at all times.
  8. Organise cupboards.
  9. Clean the refrigerator
  10. Keep kitchen bench tops clear, but not empty (as if unused); adorn them with your most attractive canisters.
  11. Completely degrease your oven. Let the kitchen smell fresh and fragrant (with cinnamon warming in the clean oven if you have time).
  12. Remove debris (dust, flies, moths, etc.) from all light fixtures.
  13. Keep bathrooms scrubbed, tidy and equipped with fresh soap and neatly hung towels (matching, if possible)
  14. Get rid of all stains and install new washers on dripping taps.
  15. Feature (with lighting or furniture arrangement) your home’s best characteristics (a fireplace, a picture window, a balcony, ceiling beams, a kitchen eating area, etc.)
  16. If you’ve repainted (preferably in safe neutral tones), add bold splashes of colour (with your brightest throw, pillows, crockery, pictures, etc.)
  17. Place plants in strategic spots in any room - the bigger the more glamorous, if space permits.
  18. Light the whole house, especially dark corners and hallways.
  19. Hang mirrors where they will reflect outdoor light - as well as make a room look larger.

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Lane Realty
For Service With a Smile
Shop 10, Tamborine Plaza, Beacon Road,
North Tamborine, Queensland, Australia 4272
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Phone61-7-55451800 Fax 61-7-55452747 emailinfo@lanerealty.com.au

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Last updated 3 January, 2009