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 If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.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.

How to Stage Your Home for a Summer Sale

How to Stage Your Home for a Summer Sale

You’ve already read a lot about staging your home, we’re sure. The good news is we’re going to bypass the basics about cleaning, decluttering, and making basic repairs. Instead we’re going to focus a bit on some of the things you can do to showcase your home’s summer features.

Curb Appeal is Key

Curb appeal is key during the summer months. Show off your home’s potential by highlighting all of the lovely outdoor accents you can. Buy a fresh, new welcome mat to put outside your front door and keep the lawn mowed. Look at the little things around your home. Do the windows need to be washed (inside and out)? Can you add a few potted plants on the steps or in window boxes? Add a layer of fresh mulch to your garden beds. Mulch makes garden areas look finished and helps keep the weeds away.

Accentuate Outdoor Living Space

Do you have a porch, deck, or patio? A clean, decluttered outdoor living area will actually make your property appear larger; as opposed to clutter, which will shrink the visual perception of space. Make sure your outdoor furniture is clean and replace or recover the cushions if you need to. Hose off the deck or patio regularly to keep it free of outdoor debris. Check your porch lights to make sure they’re in good working order and consider accentuating your gardens or outdoor living spaces with rechargeable LED lights for an added glow.

Prepare the Pool

Does your home have a pool? You may have hesitated to open it this season while planning for a move, but you really should open it up, clean it, and make it a centerpiece. Have your chemicals maintained, clear debris daily, and make sure all of the motors and safety mechanisms are in good working order. Don’t let the pool get over-crowded with floats and toys. Create an area in which your prospective buyers can imagine themselves relaxing with family and friends.

Interior Decisions

While the warm home color themes you had during the winter months may have been inviting, they’ll make the home feel closed off in the summer months. You may want to consider repainting walls to lighter, more neutral colors and then accenting each room with summery pillows and art pieces. Painting is work, but combined with open, airy windows and natural light, this change can make a huge difference when it comes to selling your home.

There’s nothing particularly pleasant about the summer heat, but many people embrace the summer months over the winter blues. It’s important to show your prospective buyers how functional your home and outdoor living areas can be. Ask your real estate agent if you need help!

Home Sales 101: Creating the Right Photos for Your Online Listings

Home Sales 101: Creating the Right Photos for Your Online Listings

Today’s real estate market relies heavily on the use of technology, especially online listing sites. Your real estate agent may have your home listed on several different sites, each of which will feature a description of the home and the asking price. But we all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words and potential buyers will decide whether or not they even want to look at your home in person based on what they see in the images in your listing.

That means they need to be good. Really good.

Who is Taking the Pictures?

First, determine who is going to take the pictures. You might do it yourself, but unless you have some photography experience (at least a little), you may want to let the pros handle the job. Your real estate agent may have a higher-end camera and some training on how to take pictures for real estate listings; knowledge that will help her to highlight your home’s assets. If all else fails, invest the money in hiring a professional photographer. You’ll end up with dozens of photos and can choose that look best.

The Camera

If you are taking your own photos, please – pretty please – put away the cell phone camera and use a real digital camera. The minimum number of megapixels should be five – the more the better. See if you can buy or borrow a tripod, too. This will make it easier for you to get crisp, clear, focused images – especially when you start to photograph some of the more intricate details throughout your home.

Staging Your Home

Staging is almost more important for the photos than it is for showings. People who have the time to sit and look at listings online will tear apart homes that look cluttered or messy. Get rid of anything that would distract a potential buyer from the home itself. Remember, showcase the space – not the stuff you’ve put in it.

Outside Photos

Make sure you go all the way back to the curb and take a shot back into the property. The outside of your home is what will make the first impression, and it matters – both online and in person. Make sure you keep the angle of the photo even so that it does not look like your home is on an angle or hill. Use the roof line of the home against the top of the frame to ensure you’ve got a straight, even image.  Make sure you take a focused image of your home’s entry way – the welcoming point in any home and the first place your buyers will really analyze when they arrive.

Indoor Photos

Use as much natural lighting as possible, taking pictures on a sunny day. Natural lighting will create an accurate depiction of the colors in your home and decreases your need for the use of flash. Take multiple pictures of every room, even the ones you don’t think are important – like the bathroom.

Angles, color, lighting, and even distractions in your image all make a difference. Talk to your real estate agent about the things you can do to get the best pictures possible, and use as many as allowable to give your potential buyers something to really consider.

Staging 101: Taking Advantage of Spring

Staging 101: Taking Advantage of Spring

Spring has finally arrived and with it better months for home sales. Realistically speaking, those looking for homes in the winter are usually desperate to make a change for a specific reason – a move for a new job or a lease ending. But those who have been too busy with the holidays or unwilling to come out in the cold will soon resume their serious house hunts and you’ll definitely want to be ready.

Clean the House

Seriously. We shouldn’t have to say it but it’s a given. Scrub the house down, wash the windows, wipe down the walls, have the rugs cleaned, and consider having someone come out to power-wash the outside as well. Melting snow and salt can leave an unsightly layer of grime on your home and you’ll want it to look nice.

Cleaning does not mean shoving stuff under your bed or into a closet, either. People will want to look there – at least in the closets! Declutter and get rid of anything you don’t need. Pro tip: pack away and store your winter clothes so that those who do open your closets don’t see all of the bulky items taking up space.

Evaluate Your Interior Decorations

Warm, dark colors make a home feel cozy in the winter, but they make it feel drab during the warmer months. Swap out some of your darker decorations for lighter, brighter colors. You can do this with a simple throw rug or blanket, some brighter pillows, and some bright flowers. Make sure you’re keeping your windows open so the natural light can shine in, too.

Gardening and Landscaping

Make sure your lawn is kept nice by scheduling regular maintenance – whether that means doing it yourself or hiring professional help. Have your bushes trimmed and proceed with your regular spring planting schedule. Bright flowers, a manicured landscape, and even a decorative flag or welcome sign will give your home an added bit of curb-appeal. Potted plants work great on steps and in garden areas and will detract from the fact that your trees and other plants may not be in full bloom yet. Pro tip: avoid wreaths during the spring months as the design tends to remind people of the holidays.

Not sure where to start? Your real estate agent can and will walk through your home and help you determine what areas need attention. It’s not always easy to have someone else tell you what changes to make or what personal items to put away, but great staging is key to a successful year – no matter the season.

Staging a Home During the Holiday Season

Staging a Home During the Holiday Season

The housing market hasn’t exactly been easy to deal with recently and the holiday season is typically a lot slower when it comes to finalizing sales. While that doesn’t mean you can’t sell your home during this busy time of year, it does mean you’ll need to work a little harder to appeal to those who are viewing the house. You’ll need to go above and beyond when it comes to staging.

What is Staging?

Home staging is simply defined as the art of preparing a home for the market. There are people who specialize in staging homes, making them more appealing to the masses. Theoretically, the better staged your home is, the faster it will sell. While this is usually your responsibility as the seller, your real estate agent will give you some extra advice. You can also hire a professional to do the work if you so choose.

Holiday Home Staging

Before you can focus on the holiday season, you’ll want to make sure your basic staging tasks are complete. Your home should be completely cleaned and de-cluttered. Anything that needs repair should be taken care of and any walls that need paint should be painted. The people who visit your home, holiday season or not, should be able to picture themselves living there. This means you need to remove as many pictures and personal items as possible. Your den may have served as the perfect sports-bar for your buddies for years, but you should remove all pennants and memorabilia so that those who aren’t sports fans can visualize a use for the room.

Keep your outdoor décor relatively simple. You will want to avoid lawn ornaments, inflatable decorations, and too many lights. Stick to simple, classic white lights and consider a festive holiday wreath for your door. A little bit of lighting can go a long way in showing off your home’s architectural qualities. A lot of gaudy colored lights may deter visitors.

Inside the home, keep things simplistic. A Christmas tree is fine if you can find one that does not take up too much space in a room, as that would make the room feel smaller. You will want to avoid overtly religious decorations, so this is not the year to put out your Nativity scene or Menorah. The idea is to keep your home festive yet neutral so that it appeals to everyone without offending. Snowmen and classic winter decorations that don’t target specific holidays are the way to go.

The general idea is to accentuate your home’s best features without detracting from them. In the case of holiday decorating, less really is more. Ask your real estate agent for advice if you aren’t sure about making adjustment to your décor.