Getting Ready to List Your Home – Steps You Can Take to Add Value for Buyers

Getting your home prepared for a listing with a real estate agency is an exciting time. Of course, your agent will want to be excited about your listing and bring as many qualified prospects as possible. Is your real estate professional providing you with guidance about how to add value to your home? These home maintenance and repair tips will help you increase your chances of a sale more quickly.

De-clutter and organize. No one wants to step through clutter, look in rooms or closets that are overflowing with unnecessary items, or have to imagine what the space could look like without a homeowners personal effects clouding the “scenery.” Before you list your home for sale, start going through all the rooms, from attic to basement, and clean out and organize. You can create piles for discard, donate and store; once you’ve done the first two, it’s time to organize your storage needs. Closet storage systems will help you keep clothes organized and make a great presentation. Garage and basement storage solutions are also available to keep items off the floor and in a safe place.

Refresh rooms with paint. That first impression will be largely influenced by the look and feel of your rooms. After you’ve cleaned and cleared, a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors will help rooms look larger and make prospective buyers feel better about your space. Bright colors might be your style but not theirs so avoid making too much of a “statement” in your color choice.

Update bathroom fixtures. Swap out those tired old bathroom faucets and the old sink; install a new vanity or a shower head; or put on new toilet seats if necessary. You need not spend lots of money to do these simple updates and a little goes a long way. Remember, clean and new is better than tired and worn.

Update kitchen appliances and fixtures. If this is in your budget, it is well worth the expenditure on this end of the sales process. There’s no need for a full remodel but a face lift is well worth it for making a quicker sale. New cabinet doors and hardware or a new sink or new faucet with sprayer (a popular feature) are good investments. If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.

Boost your curb appeal. Landscaping and driveway appearance are what prospective home buyers will see first—and will encourage or discourage them about coming inside for a closer look. Get your lawn in shape, plant your garden beds, prune your trees and shrubs. Outdoor lighting is also a benefit, from the front porch to the walkway or gardens. If the driveway is in poor shape, have it repaired.

Make necessary exterior repairs. In addition to the driveway, your front steps should be in good condition; your gutters should be in place and doing their jobs to prevent water damage to the home; missing roof shingles should be replaced; problems with paver or concrete walkways, your sidewalk, patio and deck (where applicable) should be remediated. Remember, you don’t want to give anyone a reason to walk away (and you wouldn’t want anyone to trip and get hurt).

Insulate for energy efficiency. One way to show prospective home buyers that your home is prepared for 21st century living is to add insulation in order to improve your energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. This is a also good time to look at your windows to see where you can seal any seams or cracks where air penetrates.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we guide our clients to make sure their homes are in “ready for sale” condition, in order to make the sales process as stress-free as possible for everyone involved. As part of our client service, our real estate agents will go over what we feel your home needs to prepare it for a listing, and help you hash out the pros and cons of certain upgrades and repairs. Want to find out more about the best way to sell your home in Essex County or other northern New Jersey areas? Call Century 21 Cedarcrest at (973) 228-1050 or visit our website to get started.

Selling an Elderly Family Member’s Home: Things to Consider

Selling an Elderly Family Member’s Home: Things to Consider

Whether it’s because of a downsize, a move to a care facility, or after a death, the sad reality is that at some point in your life you may find yourself faced with the task of selling an elderly family member’s home. Here are a few key points to consider.

You’re Going to Need Time – and Help

Not only will you be faced with the emotions attached with selling a loved one’s home, but you will very likely be tasked with cleaning it out from top to bottom. This means not only furniture and clothing but a lifetime’s worth of paperwork, bank statements, photographs, and documents you aren’t sure are relevant or not.

You’re going to need help. Grab a sibling, child, or cousin and put everyone to work. Hire someone for a few hours a week, if you have to. Someone can pack up the dishes while someone else sorts through financial statements and paperwork. Make sure everything has a place – the yardsale pile, the donation pile, the garbage pile. You’re going to be frustrated and tired, but make sure you are thorough so that you don’t miss a drawer or pillow or secret compartment in a floor vent (true story behind that last one).

Wall Paper

Sorry, but if you’re going to sell that house you’re going to have to get rid of the wall paper. Most real estate agents will be brave enough to tell you that, whether you want to hear it or not. Wall paper is outdated (especially the kind your elderly family members have) and a fresh coat of paint can really brighten up a house. Hire someone or spend a day with the family getting it off the walls – but do it.

The Carpeting Has to Go

Think about this carefully. The memories you have of your grandmom’s house probably include a familiar smell. Maybe not the smell of a certain food but just the everyday aroma of going to grandma’s house.  A lot of times homes owned by elderly people have a distinct odor. It’s not that it’s particularly offensive, but it happens when carpet is decades old and has absorbed years and years of family living. Removing the carpeting and replacing it with new (or in some cases exposing the gorgeous hard wood flooring you didn’t know was beneath it), can make a huge difference in your ability to sell the home.

The task of selling a home an elderly loved one lived in for a long period of time is never easy. Ask your real estate agent to walk through the house with you and give you an idea of what changes have to be made for the staging process. It may take time, but your efforts will help your loved one get a fair price for her home – whether for her continued living expenses or for her estate.

 

Simple Tips for Reducing Stress during the Home Selling Process

Simple Tips for Reducing Stress during the Home Selling Process

There is no doubt about it. Selling a home is stressful. You have to clean, make repairs, and stage the home – then find the perfect real estate agent to partner with. Once you’ve done all of that, you have to juggle packing for your own move with keeping the home clean and organized for showings. It’s a lot to deal with. So what can you do to keep things relatively calm?

Have Clear Expectations

You need to start by having clear expectations that are communicated to your selling agent. You know what type of sale price you are looking for and have obviously (hopefully) discussed it. You should also know what your worst-case-scenario (or lowest) selling price will be in advance. Make sure you have any pertinent paperwork ready and available. Some of the issues (like a low price) may never come into play, but making all of the possible decisions ahead of time will take off some of the pressure associated with having to make quick choices.

Plan in Advance

Do you have a pet who needs to be removed from the home during a showing? Children? Make advance plans as to where they’ll go, and make sure you have a back-up. Having a list of people you know you can call to dog-sit or babysit for a couple of hours on short notice will be far less stressful than loading the family into the car for an unexpected “evacuation.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Purge

In other words, throw things away while you’re packing. You’ve probably accumulated a lot of “stuff” you haven’t touched in ages. Don’t make excuses about possibly using it or selling it later. If you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably won’t in the next year. Make a pile of items to donate to charity and throw the junky stuff right in the garbage. You’ll be able to get a clean, fresh, de-cluttered start in your new home.

Make a List of Tasks

Make a list of all of the little things that will need to be done – turning off and switching utilities, contacting doctor offices and credit card companies, insurance companies, etc. Prioritize service changes over simple addresses changes. For example, you’ll need to have electricity turned off at your old home and on at your new; have your cable transferred; have a new insurance policy written for the new house. Those things take more time and need more attention, so put them at the top of your list and start early to avoid stress.

Remember to breathe throughout the entire moving process. Talk to your real estate agent if you feel like you’re overwhelmed or aren’t sure what to do next in the buying or selling process.

 

Can the Paint Colors in My Home Help or Hinder a Sale?

Can the Paint Colors in My Home Help or Hinder a Sale?

Yes, you read that title right. The color of the paint throughout your home can make a huge difference when it comes to actually making a sale. They say your first impression is the most important, and the first thing you’re potential buy is going to see is color.

Exterior Paint Colors

The exterior paint colors are going to be influenced by the neighborhood in which you live. You’re going to want to have a nice, fresh look to your home without necessarily sticking out like a sore thumb. Case in point – many years ago there was a home in historic Haddonfield, NJ. The homes in that area are all governed by rules based on Victorian-era history. A homeowner painted his house purple – light/medium purples with dark purple trim. The paint job, despite making people angry enough to go to court (the homeowner won, as the color was Victorian), didn’t blend in with anything else in the neighborhood. The home stayed that way for many years, but it was definitely painted before it was able to sell again.

At the end of the day, colors on the neutral pallet tend to do best.

Interior Paint Colors

This is where things get tricky, and where you are most likely to have trouble, as the interior of your home is where you’ve done the most personalization in each room. We once met a couple who spent a great deal of time paining the inside of their home. Most of the rooms were neutral in nature but the kitchen was painted a lovely shade of yellow and their family room was painted a rust-color. People love bright kitchens that are full of light, so there was no problem with the yellow.

The rust-color was the problem because the den had a sports theme, complete with trophies and pennants. A key consideration in selling a home is giving a buyer the opportunity to image it as his own. No one who stepped into that den could visualize anything other than a sports room. Even removing the sports memorabilia didn’t really help. It wasn’t until (months later) they painted the room a neutral color that people started to take the home seriously.

It is, in general, better to stick with warm and neutral colors in your main living areas. Bedrooms should be soft and relaxing. Bathrooms need to be painted with colors that make them look larger instead of smaller, so whites are generally best.

You may have spent a ton of time making your home match your personality, but if it’s really time to move on, you may have to seriously consider undoing some of that work. Selling a home means making it appealing to as many people as possible. Talk to your real estate agent if you need help deciding which areas are a priority for change.

7 Steps to a Smooth Closing

Closing on your home is the last obstacle, which can seem tedious after a long process of negotiations and home loan approvals. You’re very close to walking through the doors of your new home, so it’s worth it to be patient just a little longer. Here are seven steps to a smooth and stress-free closing. You’re almost there!

  1. Set a Closing Date: Request that your title company sets a closing date that coincides with your current lease or the sale of your current home. Also keep in consideration when you’ll have the funds available (end of the month, perhaps) and your work schedule. Closings can be worked around any schedule, so you may request an evening or weekend closing.

  1. Have Your Funds Ready. Typically, buyers have to come to closing with some type of money, but you can’t just write out a personal check. Ask the title company what forms of payment they accept. This gives you time to move money around and go to your bank to have a cashier’s check created.

  1. Purchase Title Insurance. Title insurance isn’t to protect you from problems with the title of your mortgage. Instead, it protects the lender if the home had a claim on it or the sellers didn’t own the home. The easiest route is to purchase title insurance from the same company where you purchased the lender’s title policy.

  1. Arrange for Homeowners Insurance. Homeowners insurance is another form of coverage that you need to protect your home and the contents in it. If you already have a homeowners policy, all you have to do is transfer it to your new address. If you rented, you’ll need a new policy. Work with the same company that provides coverage for your car – it’s most convenient and you get added discounts.

  1. Review Your Good Faith Estimate. Closing shouldn’t be a huge surprise. You were provided a Good Faith Estimate that outlines the costs you’re responsible for. However, some prices can increase by as much as 10%! Be prepared for cost increases, and don’t hesitate to ask about them.

  1. Do a Walk-Through of the Home. Right before your closing, do a walk-through of the home. This is your last chance to make sure that repairs were taken care of, sellers left what they promised to and that water/electric is functioning properly.

Take Care of Problems. If you do notice something – the shrubs were removed from the property or the appliances were taken, for instance – you may delay the closing or negotiate a discount. It’s in everyone’s best interest to have the home closed on, so it never hurts to ask.

7 Secrets to Selling a Home

Selling your home? Make the experience smooth sailing by following these seven tips.

1. Price it Right

Find out what your home is worth from a realtor. Although online tools can give you a rough estimate, a realtor will have access to all of the recently sold homes in your area. Then, shave 15 percent off the price and watch the buyers trickle in. This leads to multiple bids and more competition, putting the power in the seller’s hands.

2. Hire a Professional

You need a real estate agent who is dedicated to selling your home. They will be responsible for monitoring the MLS and ensuring that your home is competitive, not just a stale home on the market. If you’re not happy with who you have, don’t be afraid to try someone new.

3. Show Off Storage Space

Storage is important for today’s buyers, so don’t cram your closets and cabinets with random stuff. It’s best to pay the small price to rent out a storage room until your house is sold. Prospective buyers snoop, and they want to make sure there is plenty of storage capacity.

4. Let in the Light

A dark home looks small and drab, so lighten up your home by taking down drapes, cleaning windows and switching out lampshades. A bright and airy home sells much faster, plus looks bigger and more adaptable.

5. Keep Pets Out of Sight

Surely, your pets are cute. But, when selling a home, less is more. Not only should you keep your pets locked away – or even better, at a pal’s home – but also you should keep pet-friendly items like dog bowls and litter boxes in hiding. You want your home to look and smell clean.

6. Keep a Neutral Setting

You want prospective buyers to picture themselves living in your home, which is hard to do when there are mementos from your family all over the place. Keep your home neutral by taking out the personal side. Remove photos of family, collectibles, keepsakes and so on. Also, keep your home simple and plain. Experts recommend removing ⅓ of your stuff.

7. Be Ready to Show Your Home

A missed showing could be a missed sale. Keep your home show-ready: picked up, bathrooms clean, no dishes in the sink and no dust in the corners. You’ll need to be on your toes more, but a quick sell is worth the short inconvenience.