Steven Palatt's Blog
Two of the most important ingredients in a successful house-marketing campaign are competitive pricing and making a great first impression on prospective buyers. Although your real estate agent can assist in achieving both of those goals, keeping your home in "show ready" condition will be up to you and your family.
When your home is actively being shown, the process is not unlike a job interview. The main similarity is that you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. Potential buyers have a mindset that's similar to that of a hiring manager: They are intensely focused on making the right decision. Since the last thing they want to do is make the wrong choice (or a less-than-optimal choice) it's up to you -- the home seller-- to present your home in its best possible light.
Other than keeping your home squeaky clean and your lawn looking as manicured as possible, it's also to your benefit to reduce clutter. A house that's filled with clutter will definitely send the wrong message to prospective buyers searching for their next home. Clutter takes many forms, so it often requires a concerted effort to identify and remedy it. Here are a few key areas to focus on:
Furniture clutter: Having too much furniture in a room or entryway can give visitors the impression that your home is cramped, too small, or disorganized. If you've had a tendency to add furniture to your home, over time -- without putting some pieces in storage -- then you may have inadvertently created a cluttered "look and feel" to your living space
Surface clutter: Have you ever noticed how things that belong in drawers, cabinets, and recycling bins often end up on tables, counter tops, and bookshelves? If that's taking place in your home, rest assured you're not alone! However, if you're preparing to put your home on the market, you'll make a much better impression on potential buyers if you remove as much surface clutter as possible.
Storage-area clutter: Although there's a lot of truth to the saying "Out of sight, out of mind," that usually doesn't apply to preparing your home for the real estate market! Serious house hunters are pretty thorough, and are generally going to glance in closets, basements, attics, and garages. So if you simply move your clutter to another part of the house, it will still be noticed! Granted, your clutter will be less prominent in storage areas, but it will still have a detracting effect on the overall impression your home makes. The solution involves a combination of strategies, including selling or donating unwanted belongings. In some cases, you might even consider renting a dumpster or calling a reasonably priced junk-hauling service to get rid of things you don't want and can't donate, sell, or give away.
It's not always easy to be objective when staging your home or evaluating its marketability, so an experienced real estate agent can provide you with invaluable guidance, advice, negotiating help, and marketing assistance
Whether you're looking for the house of your dreams or the spouse of your dreams, it helps to write up a detailed description of the qualities that matter most to you!
While your goals should be realistic and attainable, you do not want to compromise your standards or aim too low.
In the case of house hunting, there are many conditions which will directly affect the success of your search.
Here are some of the main ones.
- Your budget: All things being equal -- the higher your budget, the greater your chances for getting everything on your wish list. The most desirable locations, lot size, amenities, and square footage often come with a price. The same can be said of homes that are in optimal condition with lots of recent updates, improvements, and energy efficient or high-tech features.
- The real estate market: Three factors which will invariably affect the outcome of your real estate search will be the local real estate inventory (the number of properties available -- especially those in your price range), the law of supply and demand, and property values in your chosen geographic area.
- Your real estate agent: Choosing a real estate agent who's experienced, resourceful, and dedicated can prove to be a significant advantage in finding a home that matches your budget, your goals, and your desired lifestyle. Once you've decided what you want in your next home, an agent or Realtor can show you houses on the market that will meet many, if not all, of your requirements.
- Your wish list: Creating a list of property features and characteristics that you absolutely must have in your next home will help ensure that you get them. A carefully thought-out "wish list" is also a vital aspect of your search for the perfect or "near perfect" home. By creating a clear mental picture of your ideal living space, location, and environment, you'll be increasing your chances of finding a home that meets all your expectations. There are literally dozens of features to keep in mind, including architectural style, square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the lot, distance from the street, privacy, the spaciousness of the kitchen, and the layout of adjacent living areas. If you plan on doing a lot of entertaining, for example, you might prefer an open floor plan. Features like a screened-in porch, a patio, and a large backyard are often major wish-list items for homeowners who enjoy outdoor living. Other items to consider may include things like a fireplace, a finished basement, a convenient laundry room, and a two-car garage. Proximity to stores, quality schools, medical/dental services, and recreation areas will also be key factors in the selection of your future home.
If budgeting isn’t your thing, you’ll be glad to discover that it’s quite simple. There’s a way to categorize your spending and save money easily. If you learn the rule, it will become so automatic that you won’t even think about it. If you’re saving money for a home, this practice will be essential. Break your budget down into three categories:
- Living expenses
- Financial goals
- Personal spending
Half of your budget should go towards living expenses. This number includes all of the essentials like rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, commute costs, and insurances.
20 percent of your income should go towards other financial goals like savings, investments, or paying down debt. Credit card bills, student loans, and other bills would fall under this category. This category is also where you’d save for your down payment, closing costs, and other expenses. This percentage can be adjustable depending on how much debt you have or how much you need to save for retirement.
The remaining 30 percent of your income can go towards personal spending. This category includes everything that you use your money for but isn’t a necessity. This percentage is also flexible. If your lifestyle doesn’t require you to use all 30 percent each month, you can indeed save more money.
A Clear Plan
These categories simplify your budget. Even if you make some adjustments to the numbers, the outline truly makes budgeting easy even for the most scatterbrained among us. It allows you to see where your money goes clearly. It also works no matter what kind of living situation you have.
The great thing about this budgeting plan is that you have some future needs built into it. Many times, when we budget, we think of our immediate needs and our shorter term goals. Saving for any occasion can never happen too early. You are able to not only focus on your current goals and the future.
First, determine your monthly income. This number is how much money you take home after taxes. From here, you’ll be able to split your money into categories by percentages. If your income fluctuates frequently, you’ll need to take an average of your monthly income to determine your numbers.
Next, you should take a look at your spending habits. These include everything from your morning latte to your monthly rent payment. From here you can make adjustments. Perhaps you need to look for a less expensive apartment. Maybe you need to cut down your weekly pizza to a bi-monthly purchase. Whatever you see in your finances, a simple percentage rule gives you the tools you need to become a saver and be well on your way to the purchase of your first home.
44 Woodlot Road, Amherst, MA 01002
Selling a vacation home is a lot like selling any other property, but for a few key differences. One, most vacation homes are far from the people who want to purchase them. Two, most vacation homes are far away from their owners, as well. This distance between owners, sellers, and the property can lead to some marketing challenges.
Working with a team of dedicated professionals can help. If you're a vacation home owner who would like to sell your property sometime in the next few months, working with a capable real estate professional can help the selling process go smoothly and quickly. Here's what you need to know.
1. Maintain the Property
Before listing your property for sale, address your deferred maintenance. Is the air conditioner old or in disrepair? Get a tune up or replace the unit. Does the chimney need a new liner? Replace it. Disclose these new repairs to your real estate professional, so they can mention recent repairs in your home's description.
If you choose not to make these repairs before listing your home for sale, assume you'll have to disclose maintenance problems and (probably) reduce your price. Work with a real estate professional who can help you negotiate a good deal, while keeping in mind that you won't be able to fetch the best price for your property.
Buyers love new features, especially new kitchens, bathrooms and decks. If you're trying to collect the maximum amount for your vacation home, talk to your real estate agent about upgrading parts of the property that are out of date.
Not all home buyers expect the latest and greatest from their vacation home. If your property is a cabin in the woods, buyers may expect the facilities to be rustic and basic. If you're selling a beach house, buyers may have greater expectations. Your real estate professional will be able to tell you if a home upgrade will do you good, and if so, what kind of home upgrade.
3. Improve Curb Appeal
Views, scenery and natural surroundings tend to be very important for vacation properties. Work with a landscaping professional or a contractor to improve your vacation home's curb appeal. This may mean planting flowers, installing a pathway, replacing overgrown or unhealthy shrubs and even clearing away trees that block the view. Do this before listing your home for sale, so the house will be ready when the photographer takes pictures.
4. Get Professional Photographs & a Virtual Tour
Hire a photographer or media specialist to take professional photographs of your property and make a virtual tour. Photographs are very important because buyers may not be local and must rely on pictures to decide which homes are of interest. Virtual tours also make it easier for home buyers to decide which properties are most enticing. The easier it is for your home to be seen from a distance, the more attention it will attract from potential buyers.
5. Find the Right Real Estate Professional
Work with a real estate professional who is experienced working with remote buyers and sellers. Interview several real estate professionals and ask them which strategies they recommend for selling a home remotely. Choose the real estate professional who has the most experience working with vacation home buyers and sellers, as this will be very important for the successful sale of your property.