August 2017 - Comey & Shepherd Realtors

6 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without an Agent

It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.

Boost Your Home Value with Improvements For Every Budget

  1. If You Have $100

    Beverly Hills home designer Brian DeVille recommends starting with your outdoor lighting. He explains, “I find that curb appeal is key. If you’ve done work inside, they’re not going to see what’s inside. If you drive around an expensive neighborhood, you’ll see the homes have exterior lighting. Lighting can make a home appear taller and add symmetry to the structure and the yard.” More ideas to consider:

    Small landscaping projects. From a bed of flowers to mulching around trees and other plantings—nothing beautifies a home more than an eye-appealing landscape. “I always recommend yellow, because yellow is the first color the brain processes,” says Courtney Cachet. “It attracts the eye and looks cheerful. A mix with some pinks, greens, and potted plants, and you’re done!”

    Add fresh accessories. “Just as in fashion, accessories are important. That includes new house numbers, a new front door, mailbox, and planters,” says Cachet. “The entryway is key—have a nice solid door,” explains Deville. “If it has wobbly hardware people are going to assume the whole home isn’t well-maintained.”

    Refinish floors or cabinets. “If you have hardwood floors, even if you can’t afford to refinish, pull up any wall-to-wall carpet,” says Nyack, New York-based home stager, Darrow Samberg. If your kitchen cabinets are looking outdated, Darrow recommends not spending money on new ones but instead sanding and painting the ones you have.

  2. If You Have $500

    Pay to get your home inspection before listing it. “It’s much wiser to start out knowing which projects are crucial to repairing before potential buyers walk through the door—you may decide to do an essential roof repair rather than a cosmetic bathroom remodel,” says DeVille. You’re also less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Other $500 projects to consider:

    Paint your home’s exterior, shutters, and trim.

    Erect a simple fence around your backyard for privacy and safety for kids and pets.

    Do a basic “man-cave” or garage spiff-up: Coat the floors in glossy, durable paint, and install inexpensive-but-sturdy shelving and peg board.

    Hire a pro to power wash your outside patios, decks, and walkways.

  3. If You Have $1000

    Build a surround for your TV. “Let’s face it, there’s nothing inspiring about a flat-screen TV just floating on a bare wall,” says Stamford, Connecticut based interior designer Kay Story. “But there are some simple ways to make it look like part of your design scheme without breaking the bank. One option is to build a framed wall out around your set, creating a window for the TV to sit within. The walls will also appear more interesting because there are multiple dimensions on an otherwise flat wall. Be sure to bury all cords in the wall. Add some floating wood or stainless steel shelves below for decor and you have a super chic TV room.” Other $1,000 projects to consider:

    Give your home’s interior a paint job, just keep in mind that bold colors aren’t to most buyers’ taste. Go for neutral shades for the widest appeal. Howard Wiggins shares this tip: “Paint stores have color specialists that will help you find the perfect shade—they also know what’s in style right now.” Pros say that neutral paint tones can help make a home’s interior look larger.

    Toss outdated or broken furniture, rugs, and artwork. Invest in key items that add pops of color and modernity throughout your home.

    Purchase and install a “smart” thermostat. This can save you about $200 in energy costs. Even cooler? Systems like those made by Nest can be controlled remotely with your smartphone or tablet.

    Invest in a new front porch. This adds visual interest and a welcoming entryway, especially if your home’s architecture is flat, like a ranch home. If your porch has started to look dated or has structural issues, rebuild it. As DeVille says, “If all your improvements are made on your home’s interior, you’ll never have a chance to show potential buyers the inside.”

  4. If You Have $2000

    Amp up your home’s interior lighting. “I’m working on a house from the 1920s now. People lived in a very different way back then—more low-lit wall sconces. I added four recessed lighting elements per room—one room for $400 or so. It really gives you a bright, happy room. Pay attention to lighting color—choose a daylight bulb,” says Howard Wiggins, interior designer and author based in Nashville. “Lighting is the best way to not only illuminate a room in a property, but also an excellent method of creating individual ambiances in any room,” adds Wiggins. Other value-enhancing projects in this price range:

    Change up your countertops. With a modicum of construction skills, this can be a DIY project that improves the whole look of your kitchen. Keep this improvement under budget by using materials such as stainless steel, polished concrete, stone, wood, laminate, or ceramic tile.

    Open up space by taking down a wall. Potential buyers love big, open spaces. (You can even remove a load-bearing wall, though most people don’t know it; our home will remain structurally sound if you leave a beam at the ceiling.)

    Update your crown molding. Do away with cracked or chipped trim that can add years to the appearance of a home. Pay particular attention to making your living room or entryway look cohesive and finished.

  5. If You Have $5000

    “Update your half-bath to make it wow,” suggests Houston-based interior designer Rainey Richardson. “Sand the walls and add wallpaper with bold print and pops of color to add some pizzazz. Update the lighting and faucet to compliment the great paper. Don’t be afraid to choose metals that are less common like chrome and brushed gold to add interest. Choose a quiet countertop, like a solid quartz, to finish the space.” Other $5,000 projects to consider:

    Make your half-bath spectacular. Unique spaces will make your home memorable and could increase your value by $7,500 or more.

    Transform unused space. The addition of attic bedrooms and basement family rooms can return anywhere from 70 to more than 80% of the money spent.

    Add a deck. When selling, a well-maintained backyard deck can hold 65 to 90% of your investment.

    Spring for a new heat pump. A basic model can lower your heating and cooling expenses significantly.

  6. If You Have $10,000

    Remodeling the kitchen, considered by all real-estate pros as the most important room in the house, tops the list. “Replace cabinet door and door fronts with a style that makes sense with your architecture,” says Rainey Richardson, a Houston-based interior designer. Paint or stain the kitchen cabinetry to compliment the space and adjacent areas. Select a new countertop that has some veining and movement to add interest. Finally, choose a backsplash with a decorative tile to finish the look. Keep the backsplash simple and remember that white is the most popular kitchen color with buyers. This update could increase the value of your home by $20,000 or more. Other $10,000 projects to consider—all courtesy of Rainey Richardson:

    Replace the flooring in your home’s common areas. Bamboo is a beautiful and not-too-expensive choice.

    Add interior shutters to the windows. This gives a more finished and custom look to your home.

    Replace windows with new, energy-efficient ones. Collect at least a couple of bids to ensure you get the best rate.

    Update kitchen appliances. This improvement is one you can enjoy well before you ever list your home.

The Four Keys to Selling Your Home Faster

You love your home. You’ve made lots of happy memories there and put time and energy into decorating and furnishing. But when you need to sell your home and it sits on the market for weeks, with no one seemingly interested? Baffling.

Rather than dwell on what’s wrong with your home, take a hard look at the good, the bad, and the unpleasant — so that you can incorporate changes to sell your home faster.

  1. Keep Your Home Tidy. Toys scattered about the floor, heaps of unfolded laundry hanging around, neglected piles of mail and receipts on top of the dresser — all of these things give an impression that your home hasn’t been kept in the best order. Clutter also suggests a lack of sufficient storage space. Purge your home of unnecessary belongings before buyers start looking through it. Cull your handbag collection; sell exercise equipment on eBay or Craigslist; donate a few bags of old clothes to the Salvation Army.
  2. Update Outdated décor. Floral wallpaper in the bedroom … popcorn ceilings … wood paneling on the walls … brass doorknobs. These are a few of a buyer’s least favorite things. Certain décor elements are red flags and scream “outdated”. Buyers aren’t interesting in spending even more time and money to bring their new home into the modern era. Spending thousands on a remodel is unnecessary when there’s easy and affordable kitchen updates for your budget. Simply swapping brass knobs and hinges for a chrome or satin-nickel finish, or painting the wood paneling white can be a quick fix. These improvements can cost less than $100 and make a massive difference in the way your home shows to buyers.
  3. Clean Up After Your Pets. If a prospective buyer walks out immediately after a sniff test, you may have found your problem. You may love your three cats and five dogs, but the smell left behind from your furry friends could be keeping buyers at bay — or worse, triggering allergic reactions. Even if you have only one pet, it can be surprising how you’ve become accustomed to their unique odor. Get your carpets (and furniture, if need be) professionally steam cleaned to remove the animal smells. (Remember: just because you can’t smell your pets doesn’t mean the house is scent-free.) Dust and clean places where fur tends to hide, such as baseboards, small cracks, and room corners. Keep all pets and pet accessories out of sight during showings. You may even want to hire a home cleaning company to vacuum the air vents and HVAC returns; pet fur can get trapped in these places, triggering allergic reactions.
  4. Create a Blank Canvas for Buyers. You want buyers to envision themselves living in your home. But that’s hard to do when they can’t get past your kids’ artwork on the fridge or the purple leopard-print sofa in the living room. Start depersonalizing your home to create more of a blank canvas for the buyers’ imagination. That doesn’t mean your home should be empty but it does require removing any abstract artwork or questionable décor. When ready for viewing, your home should reflect a neutral, universal taste. Try to create a clean, professional look. Yes, you might personally think beige walls are boring, but your goal isn’t to satisfy yourself — it’s to appeal to a wide audience. Stripping away the things that made your home yours can be difficult, but remember that it’s no longer your home now. It’s time to hand it over to new owners who will love it in their own way.