Will your open house be a hit or a miss?
We’ve all seen open houses on our favorite lifestyle television channels. You know the ones- people lined up to get in, multiple buyers, bidding wars, a sale over asking price! Everything seems practically perfect. So, when it comes time for your open house, it should be a breeze! Right?
Ah, the power of TV!
It’s time for a dose of reality vs. reality TV!
For many, the idea of an open house congers a floodgate of apprehension. This is going to be work and your best weapon is a carefully crafted plan of attack. Make a list of the following questions and make sure you and your agent are on the same page.
- How will the open house be promoted?
- Will the neighbors be invited?
- What are the hours and how were they chosen?
- Is my home priced to sell or will this open house turn into a place for the agent to sit and pick up buyers for other properties? There is an important distinction…and this does happen.
- What end-result does the agent expect?
- What is expected of you?
With a plan in place, it is almost certain your agent will require your home to be “show ready.” This means a well-manicured yard. The kitchen and bathroom should be spotless, the living areas barely lived in with toys and pet goodies out of sight. Speaking of pets, you’ll want to remove then, not only for their safety but to allow your home to smell as fresh as possible. You’ll want to remove yourself as well. Sellers always want to know what potential buyers think, but please leave. Buyers will not be candid in front of owners or take the time to truly appreciate your home.
Try to plan your open house around neighborhood activities and keep your agent abreast of community open houses, garage sales and other events that draw traffic to your neighborhood. Ask your agent to try different days of the week or other times.
In the end, your house will be presented in the best light possible. Don’t despair if the attendance is low or if contracts didn’t exchange hands. Yes, even with stellar promotion, this is sometimes the reality. The upside is your house is amazingly clean, your yard looks great and you are all ready for the first showing of the week!
If you were to describe what a real estate agent’s typical day would entail, you might imagine us placing ads in the local paper, adding listings to MLS, taking photos and arranging for virtual tours. You might even guess that we work with surveyors, inspectors, attorneys and title companies on your behalf in addition to negotiating sales contacts.
But what about cat herding?
Initiations of newbie agents are always fun. The agents are full of questions, eager to learn and ready to hit the ground running. It’s always great to have fresh energy in the office! We also love seeing the look of surprise on their faces when they learn that cat herding, bed-making and refereeing are all part of the job description they signed up for. No, my friends, they don’t teach that part in school!
Clients are often curious what makes up the cost (commission) of working with agent and many are surprised to learn a sign in the yard is just one step in the total process of selling. The truth is, there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a real estate agent. The line between the professional job description and the “gotta do it” job description is sometimes blurred.
Beyond the sign…Weeknights spent with aging parents, helping their children find the perfect home and the best deal. Sunday mornings calling in favors from electricians so the seller can save some money. It’s hours on the phone helping to rent trucks and move furniture, meeting trappers when raccoons have made their home in an attic, cleaning kitchens so the photographs will shine on the internet, sweeping floors, hanging up towels, making beds, mulching flower beds and pulling weeds. It’s Febrezing a teenager’s room full of sports cleats, babysitting kids, going to the airport, refereeing feuding spouses, offering a shoulder to cry on and yes corralling those stubborn cats who will pull out any stop to escape during a showing.
By the end of the sale, we’ve become a family. During the short time we work together, we talk almost daily, we get to know all about your lives. We share selling tips, cleaning suggestions, organizational tips and more. Closing the sale is sometimes bittersweet because at the end of the day, it’s so much more than a sign in the yard. It’s a piece of our lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We love you all…even the cats.
A New Home for the New Year
Ahh, January, the time we resolve to work on our priorities for the upcoming year! Is it the gym, the diet, spending less or saving more? Is it making time more time for the people and things that matter the most? Yes, every January is the time for new beginnings.
If you are thinking that 2019 might be the year for you to move to a new home, upgrade to a larger home or downsize to a smaller home, there are some things that will require your immediate attention.
Getting your “financial house” in order needs to be number one on your list. Speak to a local lender about their requirements that would enable you to make preparations. Having your credit history run will help tell your financial story. There may be credit issues that need to be cleaned up before you can purchase or possibly, you simply don’t have enough of a credit history. Both are issues that could take time to correct before you can purchase.
You will also need to start putting together your tax returns (or extensions), pay stubs from your employer (s) and documentation regarding alimony or child support. Lenders will need these items to start your file.
Credit card debt and student loans also play a part of your financial future. Refrain from opening new accounts while you are considering a buying a home (It’s tempting at the check out to save 20% if you open an account today, but don’t do it!) and especially wait on major purchases such as appliances or vehicles.
Having these done ahead of time will save a great deal of time and a letter of loan prequalification could move your offer to the number one position!
Lists, lists and more lists, make a list of the most important features your new home should have. If you are buying with a partner, carefully think about the space that you currently have and what kind of space will be best for your future. Make a list of areas that are the most appealing to you; are they close to your jobs, schools or child care? Does a new location simplify your life; drive to and from locations to your job at different times of day to see if that is the best location for you.
Other considerations are new construction vs. pre-owned homes, are you handy, will you have money for updates and repairs in the future? Deed restrictions vs. non-deed restricted neighborhoods, important to know before your begin your quest. You will also need to consider how Home Owner Association fees, Community Development fees, Flood insurance and homeowners insurance will impact your monthly payments.
Finally, find yourself a Great Realtor! Find someone that is responsive to YOU and will be there for you every step of the way. Find an agent that KNOWS the market, market trends and neighborhood pricing. A great Realtor can make your 2019 the best year of your life and your New Year resolution come true!
Happy New Year!
Just a few short weeks ago, residents of Mexico Beach and Panama City were going about their everyday lives in Paradise; getting up and going to work, tending to family and enjoying this beautiful state like so many of us do. Then there was Michael.
It seemed the storm came out of nowhere. Sure, we saw it on the radar for a few days, but I doubt anyone predicted it would create the devastation and destruction we see in photographs today. There were no weeks of tracking the wobble, nor speculation of spaghetti lines changing course prediction. The fate was certain, only the intensity unknown.
Governor Rick Scott and his team were diligent in their urgent messages to residents, “Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades, you can not hide from storm surge…Evacuate.” Many listened, sadly others decided to ride it out. National media converged on the small-town residents questioning those who hesitated. Lifelong residents reported they had “ridden out worse (or so they thought).” Others felt that the media had hyped Hurricane Florence just a few weeks prior and this might be more of the same. It wasn’t.
The satellite photos are hard to look at, homes and business demolished; families displaced, years of memories gone and of course, lost lives. The death toll is still undetermined. Preparedness efforts and updated building codes likely saved more lives that we will ever know. Our Governor, along with multitudes of volunteers and other agencies were quick to move in once the storm had passed. Survivor rescues have been plentiful. Power continues to be restored. For that, we are so thankful!
As we gather around the table this year to count our many blessings, those who lost so much as well as those of us who were spared the hurricane’s wrath will surely be in our prayers. We’ll hold our loved ones just a bit tighter and we’ll reflect on the many wonderful memories we’ve shared.
The Mayor’s Annual Feed the Hungry Food Drive is once again in focus. I am proud that our office has been a drop off point for many years and will be collecting again in 2018! This program, which began in 1987, has collected more than 600 tons of food and over $3,500,000 in gift card donations that stay in our community. I invite you to join with us to make this holiday just a little more special for those in need. Whether it’s this campaign, a Red Cross donation or another charity close to your heart, small donations can make a big difference when we all join together.
Ready to get rich quick? We’ve all seen the shows on HGTV. A couple buys a flip home, (sometimes without even looking inside), knocks out a wall, remodels the kitchen and it sells quickly. By the end of the show, they’ve pocketed a nice chunk of change and are off to the next flip.
Sounds awesome right? According to RealtyTrac, home flippers averaged approximately $66,000 profit per home in 2017 and $62,000 in 2016. Who wouldn’t want to make that kind of “easy” money.
Well, hang on, it may not be so easy.
It may just be a sign of the times but everyone seems to be dabbling in real estate. Think you have what it takes to be a “flipper” in today’s market?
In Florida, in cities such as Miami and Tampa, investors can readily find foreclosures with potential for big profits. Locally however, our market doesn’t have as many properties with the same potential. Flip properties tend to be born from foreclosures and short sales, and our availability is extremely low. While great news for the local economy, it’s not advantageous for a quick flip scenario.
If you think you have what it takes to become a flipper, there are a few things you should consider first.
- How will you pay for the initial purchase? This is an important consideration because the condition of the property may make them ineligible for financing, so having some cash is important.
- How will you pay for the repairs? Sure, you can put the supplies on a credit card, but there will most likely be labor costs to be paid. Will you be doing the repairs yourself or hiring a contractor? Keep in mind updating will most likely require permitting and repairs that must be completed by licensed professionals.
- Finally, do the math first! Calculating the cost of the home and repairs to determine if the future payoff is even worth your time and money. Know the market, know trends that are important to buyers in your price point. Get advice from the pros, learn what work requires county or city permitting and if a homeowner can do the work if it is going to be resold within a certain time frame.
Would it surprise you to know many real estate agents also flip properties? We have the advantage of checking the latest listings minute by minute and have the knowledge necessary to know what the potential could be based on recent sales and neighborhood trends. However, even with all our expertise and tools, flipping can be a gamble.
Rolling the dice in real estate isn’t for the weak at heart, but a jackpot just might be in the cards! Good luck!
So Where Do You Live?
North of the River, North Manatee, North of the Manatee, Northern Manatee, North County, or North? Sometimes it’s difficult to know just how to answer this question. All can apply.
With Parrish now becoming “the center of the universe in real estate” some are even referring to the Bradenton side of the Ft. Hamer Bridge as “North Side.” As you might you might imagine, area Realtors face an interesting challenge explaining this oddity to newcomers. Are we an area best defined by the side of the river you choose to reside? Hmm.
Recently, while attending an event, I was touting the many wonderful things happening “North of the River,” to a friend who lives “South of the River” in an area I commonly refer to as “South County.” She had a bewildered look on her face, stating she referred to everything on our side of the river as simply “Palmetto.” That statement made me take pause. While Palmetto is indeed the largest municipality in our area, it does not encompass, Terra Ceia, Parrish, Ellenton and Rubonia.
By many, North County is defined as starting at the North side of the Palmetto Bridges, extending to Emerson Point, to the middle of the Skyway Bridge, to Port Manatee, along SR62 to State Road 39 and to the areas on this side of Rye Bridge.
As many of you well know, my curiosity gets the best of me sometimes. Lately I find myself asking everyone I meet how they define our area. My not-so-scientific research has yielded the following results: Longtime residents use all the terms above to describe this area. The river as a divider resonates with kids because of sports and school. Business owners who use specific terms within their business name say it helps potential customers know they specialize in this part of town. Doing so, helps locals pinpoint backyard businesses!
The county also differentiates our area with references. Think North River Fire District. The Sheriff’s office refers to the location as North Side, churches have North Campuses and even our new high school will be named North River High School.
Geographically, I guess we’re all correct. And from a real estate perspective, we’re hot on the map! So, from all of us on the North side of the Manatee River, we wish everyone a safe Fourth of July; celebrate your freedom and proudly fly our flag!
Tall tales, superstitions and myths- Yes, real estate has them too!
Each week, our team gathers for training, community updates, real estate trends and general touch-base sessions. And, as you might expect, these meetings can become a bit mundane from time to time. Luckily for us, we have no shortage of interesting field stories to help liven up the mood. Recently, we broke the ice by exploring some of the “myths vs. truths” in the business. These are the statements clients will make to us “as fact” when “in fact” they are simply tales that have been circulated for many years.
The combination of newly acquainted clients, properties, lenders and closing agents often provides a wide variety of challenges. The differences keep us on our toes and often create positive opportunities for the buyers and sellers we represent. On the flipside, the differences can also help generate multiple misnomers regarding just what makes a sale successful.
Here are just a few gems we shared with one another:
“If you want your home to sell quickly, paint it yellow.” While I do understand yellow is a happy color, we haven’t found any real stats to back up this claim. Paint if you wish, but don’t put all your eggs in that colorful basket.
“Don’t use lenders or subcontractors your agent recommends because they get kickbacks.” Well, while we all like extra money, kickbacks are flat against the law! If one of our agents makes a recommendation, it’s likely because we know the person we recommend has a reputation of being a good fit for the job at hand. It’s always great to have a baseline recommendation.
“Agents must tell you about area crime, schools, and neighborhood makeup” Nope. In fact, the Fair Housing Act prohibits agents from any form of discrimination and therefore we are prohibited from discussing certain topics. You, as the buyer, have an obligation to perform your own investigation, if you so choose.
“Cash is King.” Yes, yes, yes. We all love a cash deal, but a low cash offer or cash offer with terms that don’t meet the seller’s requirements and terms, may not be your best deal.
“Wait until ‘season’ to sell your home.” This may be true in some locations, but not necessarily in our area. How many “seasonal buyers” are looking for a 2 story 4-bedroom home? Consider the type of property you are selling and its location. Additionally, today most buyers add an appraisal contingency to their offer, so if it didn’t appraise in December, it most likely won’t make it in January.
“Always price your home above it’s value so you have room to negotiate.” Yes, you can do that, but be prepared to wait. Statistics prove that homes priced correctly sell quicker. Homes get the most “looks” in the first weeks on the market, so while you’re waiting for someone to negotiate on your home, chances are you will be doing a series of price reductions and may have missed the market.
Perhaps I should leave you with this last nugget of folklore…just for fun:
When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house because you will sweep in all your previous negativity. A fresh house needs a fresh broom to sweep your troubles away. The loaf of bread ensures you will never go hungry.
Happy Father’s Day!
Clean Up that Messy Garage!
Remember that “ooh-ahh” feeling you got when seeing your new garage for the first time? You imagined all the projects you would complete and the toys you would store. You marveled at the space designed to keep your car safe from the Florida heat and keep you dry from the Florida rain. Maybe you imagined late night ping-pong tournaments or that oh so coveted man-cave.
Now it sits, cluttered and dirty. Cobwebs in the corners; projects half complete. There are paint cans, crushed boxes, recycle bins and oil stains. The paint is peeling, the ping-pong table has a broken leg and all those yard sale chalk-paint projects are now taking over the garage!
It’s time to stage. Yes, that is indeed a thing when it comes to the space now last on your priority list. Just as you did years ago, buyers want to re-imagine their new space. They want to be amazed by the storage options, the potential for game nights and a place to park their new car. Seeing your college kid’s left-behind memories, your half empty paint cans and dirty yard tools do nothing to help the buyers imagine the potential. Clean the garage! Just as you would for the inside living space, give those outside areas some attention. Whether a car port or a 3-car garage, the floors and walls need a good scrubbing. Properly dispose of the chemicals and paints. Hold your own yard sale and re-gift those roadside treasures. Let the kids know it’s now or never to claim their stuff! A bit of kitty litter can help soak up some of those oil stains. Here’s your chance to show a future buyer just how much stuff this garage can hold!
TV real estate shows make it seem so easy and effortless. You paint a room, move a chair and VOILA! Buyers are beating your door down to make an over asking price-cash offer to close. In TV land, sellers make a small fortune and closings happen in 1-day. Fast forward to the real world. I am currently helping a close family member prepare to sell their home. We are buying boxes to help in the sort process. One for donations, one for the garage sale items, one to save and one for the curb. We are going through and thinning out wall art, patching holes and becoming more vanilla by the day with an emphasis on neutral, basics, clean, good smells and inviting decor. But that’s only phase 1.
Beyond the garage, freshly mowed yards, mulched flower beds, power washed exteriors and touch up paint is a must. Plants need to be trimmed. Consider adding a bright welcome mat with some pretty flowers at the front door. Backyards matter too; this isn’t the place to store old stuff. The backyard should make you feel as though you can’t wait to light the grill and spend memory making weekends with family and friends. Hose down the fence, remove mildew, paint if necessary. Cover the grill, throw away the broken patio set and add colorful cushions to replace the tired and faded ones. Throw away the pots with dead plants, too.
The bottom line is to paint a picture for a future buyer that your home has been well maintained and loved. It will look so much better in the photos and who knows, you just may create a bidding war for a cash buyer to close in a day and you become the seller that makes a small fortune! Ready, set , sell!
Happy Mother’s Day from everyone at Leslie Wells Realty and Thank you to all of our Military Families for all of their sacrifices for our Freedom.