Selling Your Home for Maximum Value

HomeChecklistSelling a home is almost as exciting and nerve-wracking as buying your first property. Fortunately, if you work with an experienced real estate agent and take the time to prepare your home, it will sell faster (and most likely net you an excellent price.)

Don’t underestimate the power of home improvement projects and home staging—these things can amp up your home’s appeal inside and out, and have buyers fighting to make an offer. Preparing your home for the market is a chance to make money and gain experience—take advantage of this opportunity by working hard.

Home Improvement Projects and Repairs

Small repairs and upgrades often have the biggest impact. Buyers want a home that is move-in ready. Minor things like burned-out lights, broken windows and cracked pavement detract from a home’s perceived value. Make sure everything is in good working order, and then tackle the upgrades. With a return on investment of 130 percent, replacing your front door is the top improvement.

If you’ve lived in your house for years, you probably have a few projects that have been on your to-do list forever. Some of these may be good choices, but others may be prohibitively expensive—projects that have excellent returns share these traits, as they are affordable and reduce maintenance requirements. They improve efficiency, and they address problems.

Improvements for Kitchens and Baths

The kitchen and the bathroom are prime candidates for remodeling, but you might be able to get away with less—replacing drawer handles and knobs is an excellent step. You may also want to repaint or refinish drab cabinets if they are structurally sound. Purchasing a new fridge or oven is also a nice step, as a premium appliance can give a room a measure of quality.

Installing modern light fixtures is another winning effort. In the bathroom, neutral colors create a classic look. Install a new shower head, and make sure the floor and shower itself are in good condition. Replace the caulk. Review thishome improvement guide to see which projects are worth the work.

What about Paint?

Fresh paint is one of the most welcome and recommended improvements if you’re selling your home. This project is simple and inexpensive. With good preparation, paint can cover minor blemishes and nicks—it can also conceal the bold paint in a child’s bedroom (buyers generally prefer neutral colors). You can maximize your return and achieve professional results by completing appropriate prep work, masking the trim, spackling holes and sanding the base coat. Low-VOC paint is an excellent choice and can be a selling point when you’re marketing your home.

Outdoor Upgrades

Exterior improvements are extremely beneficial for improving your home’s market value. Purchase new house numbers, replace broken or drafty windows, or install a new garage door. Invest in new siding, or make sure that your existing siding is free from mildew and stains. If you want to make a more major improvement, build a deck or patio. These functional areas will help buyers visualize a new life in a new home.

Landscaping for Curb Appeal

Landscaping can increase your home’s curb appeal and value considerably—the challenge is knowing where to start. First, how does your landscaping compare to other homes in the neighborhood? Is it lagging behind, or is it leading the way? Second, if your home has overgrown landscaping, it should be trimmed back, or even removed completely. Dying, neglected or overgrown plants will decrease your curb appeal. However, if you add a variety of landscape plants, your home’s value can increase by as much as 10 percent. You can easily double the money spent on plants, mulch and other supplies.

If you spend just 2 percent of your home’s estimated value on landscaping, you’ll see major returns. A study by Virginia Tech found that adding landscaping increased the value of a $150,000 home by more than $8,000. The sophistication of the design, the diversity of the plants and the size of the specimens are generally the most important aspects.

If you’re getting ready to sell, you should have about two months to make changes to your landscaping—a bag of lawn fertilizer and a load of mulch are ideal for sprucing up a home quickly. Outdoor furniture, potted plants and seasonal flowers are excellent choices for improving the appearance of your yard, and adding value to your home.

The Best Times of the Year to Sell

You’ve worked hard to spruce up your landscaping, and you want buyers to see the result. However, this might be impossible if your yard is covered by a foot of snow. Timing a sale is tricky, and it can’t always be helped, but you can maximize your returns by understanding what drives the market. Traditionally, spring has been the best time to sell, though this may not be the same in every case.

Buyers are active, and families want to get their kids settled before school starts. Approximately 60 percent of families who move do so in the summer, which shows how many homes sell in the spring. However, this trend is slowly changing. If you aren’t ready to list in the spring, you still have a good chance to profit—new data shows that November is one of the hottest months for home sales. But why?

Today, more than half of home buyers are retirees, single millennials, and couples without children. The school calendar doesn’t affect these individuals—in fact, listing in the autumn and winter is advantageous, because the housing supply is lower. It becomes a seller’s market!

As a general rule, homes listed in the fall and winter are 10 percent more likely to sell for the listing price, and to sell within six months. Don’t fear the holiday season either! If you can handle showings during this hectic time of year, feel free to list your home. Wintertime buyers are often in a hurry to relocate for a job, and thus need a home quickly. If your home is available, they may be willing to pay a premium price.

Staging a Home

Homes that are staged sell faster, and for more money. You could hire a professional, but many of these things can be done on your own (and for a fraction of the cost). Home staging starts with a thorough cleaning—strip waxed floors, shampoo carpets, and make every surface spotless. How much light a home has is also a major selling point.

Wash the drapes, or buy new curtains. Clean the windows and screens to let in more sunlight. Put in high-wattage bulbs that show off your home.

After you’ve cleaned, it’s time to declutter. Remove family photos and keepsakes. Clear out the garage. Donate items that you don’t use. Then, store the rest!

Ideally, your home should be 90 percent packed when it’s time for a showing. Closets and storage spaces are especially important to buyers. Make sure closets are tidy and no more than half full.

Finally, arrange furniture to give each room a distinct purpose. Multi-purpose rooms give buyers a mixed message—it’s better if the buyer imagines a home office in a spare bedroom, rather than seeing a computer desk crammed next to a daybed.

Test your improvements by walking around your home and looking at everything like a buyer would. Staging gives you the power to decide what potential buyers see (and what they don’t see), including your children and your pets.This process starts before you list your home, and continues through the showing. It can be a good idea to brainstorm a variety of home staging ideas in advance.

Aromatherapy for Home Sellers

Staging makes your home look great in listing photos, however, pleasant smells can make your home appealing in person. Before you get out the air freshener, it’s important to remove unwanted odors. Pet odors and cigarette smoke are two of the biggest turnoffs for home buyers. If you have a problem with either, take steps to address these issues early in the process.

Some homes suffer from musty odors. Open the windows regularly to draw in fresh air. Clean the walls, carpets, upholstery and any surfaces that harbor unwanted odors.

Scientists know that olfactory experiences have a great effect on behavior. Neutral and natural scents, such as lavender, orange, lemon and pine, appeal to potential buyers. Avoid overbearing blended fragrances or artificial air fresheners. Studies show that strong scents create a mental disturbance and inhibit the decision-making process that is critical when someone is making the biggest purchase of their life.

Vanilla extract and essential oils are excellent choices for perfuming various areas of your home. You can also boil cinnamon sticks or orange peels about an hour before a showing.

Think seasonally, and consider what fits your home and the buyer. Avoid derisive scents like patchouli, and keep in mind that many people are sensitive to powerful fragrances.

Hiring the Right Realtor

All of your hard work up to this point won’t pay off without an effective real estate agent. The right realtor can make the process of selling your home easy and profitable. It’s tempting to hire the realtor who originally sold you the home or who found the perfect property for a friend, but these choices can prove to be less than ideal.

A selling agent needs to be on top of the market and understand all the nuances of your neighborhood, including the sale prices of comparable homes—pricing a home is an art!

If you start with the right number, you’ll get more offers and still have room to negotiate. If you start too high, your home might sit on the market, face price reductions and eventually sell for less than it would have.

Look for an agent who is experienced and works in your area regularly. You need an accurate market analysis, not an inflated valuation. Here are a few questions to ask to help you find the right realtor.

1. How quickly are your homes selling? How does this compare to the average selling time?

2. Did the homes sell for more or less than the listing price?

3. What will you do to market my home locally and online?

4. How often will you update me on any progress?

5. May I speak to your most recent clients? Ask about the agent’s communication skills, sales strategy and interaction from the listing through the closing.

How well you prepare your home for the market can alter a buyer’s perception and help you get top dollar. Everything you do should send the message that your home is well-maintained and ready for new owners. If you’re preparing to move, you’re probably ready to buy, which means that you should be able to see your home from a buyer’s perspective. These strategies will help you sell your home quickly, and capitalize on its full value.

Capturing curb appeal – real estate photography tips


Photos sell homes, and no photo is more important than the exterior shot that will be associated with your home’s MLS listing. Ideally, you or your real estate agent should hire a professional real estate photographer to do the job. But, if you’re listing your home independently or have a tight budget, here are some DIY photography tips.


1. If possible, shoot in the spring. Even if you’re planning to stay in your home until fall, don’t let spring pass you by without taking some good exterior photos of your property. New leaves on your trees and shrubs, flowers blooming in their beds and fresh, green grass offer much more curb appeal than snow drifts, sun-stressed turf or bare branches.

Exception: Planned improvements, like a new roof, concrete repairs or landscaping updates are probably worth waiting for.

2. Stage your property for the best photo. Home staging is just as important on your front lawn as it is in your living room—in fact, it can be more important! A little prep time on your home’s exterior may be the difference between a photo that sells and a photo that turns buyers away.

  • Put away toys, tools and other clutter. Don’t forget to stash the trash cans!
  • Park cars away from the house if they won’t fit in the garage.
  • Close the garage door and all other exterior windows and doors.
  • Sweep walkways and the driveway. Clean up oil spills on concrete.
  • Make sure your lawn and landscaping look their best.

3. Choose the right time of day to take outdoor photography. The direction your home faces, the amount of shade it gets from trees or eaves, and even its paint color can make it hard to guess what time of day will give you the best shot. Thankfully, you don’t have to guess! Try taking a few test photos shortly after dawn, then at mid-morning, mid-afternoon and at twilight to see which is right for your home. Using a digital camera, all it will cost you is time.

Also, if you have the chance, experiment with cloudy and clear days. A slight overcast could cut down on glare, letting the details of your home pop—particularly if you have covered porches or lots of shade trees.

In general, remember:

  • Keep the sun at your back. If your home is backlit, everything will be lost in shadow.
  • Watch out for glare in windows and other shiny surfaces. If you see them, try changing the angle of your shot.
  • If you’re taking early morning or twilight photos, be sure to turn on all interior and exterior lighting. If you’re shooting in bright daylight, keep lights off so windows will be dark in contrast.

4. Frame the best shot. Odds are, a head-on view of your home will not be its most flattering angle. Porches lose their depth, driveways appear too wide and the viewer can’t get a feeling for how spacious the home is inside. Try shooting your house from each of the front corners of the property, and from various points between. You’ll probably find that an angle opposite the driveway gives you a better overall photo because it shows more grass, landscaping and house than garage and pavement.

Tips to consider:

  • Find an angle with as few obstructions as possible. Homebuyers aren’t as interested in your shrubbery as they are in the front porch behind it.
  • Use a tripod and make sure it’s holding the camera level. You’ll end up with fewer blurry and crooked shots, plus it’s easier to make small adjustments in camera height and angle.
  • Try shooting from a ladder or from low on the ground and see if that helps your composition. However, avoid tilting the camera, as that may cause distortions.
  • If there’s something unsightly on or near your property, try to avoid letting it into your frame.
  • Remember that you can crop your photos later using photo editing software, but you can’t widen a shot after it’s taken. Back up or use a wide-angle lens if you can’t capture the whole house at once.
  • Include especially desirable features in your photos, if possible. For example, a paver-stone driveway or sidewalk, a wraparound porch or an obviously new roof may be good selling points to showcase.

Bonus: While you’re taking photos of your home’s exterior, go ahead and get close-ups of your outdoor living spaces. A covered patio, deck, gazebo, outdoor kitchen, pool or other special feature could help your property stand out against the competition.
Hemingway home in Utah
Example A: Above are two shots of the Hemingway plan. In the first photo, the driveway dominates the foreground, a small tree blocks the end of the porch and some of the home’s more attractive features are lost in shadow. Simply by changing the angle in the second photo, the photographer was able to avoid the sapling, give the lawn and landscaping a greater share of the spotlight, and add depth to the porch and other architectural details.

Gabrielle home in Colorado
Example B: Sometimes, you’ll end up with two different but desirable angles. In the first photo of the Gabrielle plan (above), you can see that the home has a bay window, a corner homesite and plenty of space between it and its nearest neighbor. In the second photo, it’s clear that the covered porch actually wraps around the home, providing more space to enjoy the outdoors. However, the angle makes it look like the neighboring house is nearer than it actually is. It’s up to you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each shot. You may choose to include both angles in your listing, but only one can be your primary photo.

Life Is Short And Cardio Is Boring: 5 Reasons Why You Should Walk More

To some, walking is a luxury. To others it’s a chore. We lean on the convenience of rapid transportation so often that we forget the pleasure that can be derived from its absence.  But in a society where we are increasingly sped up, tightly wound, and bombarded with stimulation, sometimes it’s ideal to just be slow.  This is why today I urge you to walk more. It will make you healthier. It will make you happier. 

take a walk1) Walking gives you time to think:

We are always thinking, you might say – we don’t need to walk in order to think. It’s not so much that walking provides you with extra time to think, but that it offers an environment conducive to fresh, useful thoughts. Our days are largely filled with applied actions that require a very direct, cause-and-effect type of thinking. We are typically required to be concentrating intensely enough on what we are doing that our thoughts will not wander too far. Moreso, we view maneuvering between places as a burden and seek ways to distract ourselves – ie. the millions of people worldwide, this very second, sitting on public transit browsing their smartphones.

Unless you are hopelessly lost, walking is such an automatic action that it doesn’t require intense concentration. Objectively, walking can be considered boring – a view that many people share. However, I think it is far more valuable to view walking as simple and treat this simplicity as a virtue. When combined with stimuli from your surroundings, this simplicity will help your thoughts achieve a characteristic of randomness. This randomness provides a break in the day’s routine and allows you to think productively instead of automatically. Allow your thoughts to wander and you just might stumble onto something profound.  Allow your thoughts to wander and you just might stumble onto something profound.

2) Walking makes you fit:

Have you ever noticed a postal delivery person’s calves… ridiculous right!? It’s no surprise that people who walk frequently are usually in amazing shape. Walking is a great fat burning and cardiovascular workout, especially if you are walking quickly in order to get somewhere on time. There’s a certain meditative quality that accompanies a fast-paced, purposeful walk. While many will scorn the stereotypical urban fast walker, I believe that this is a great person to be. Filled with purpose and ambition, this person zones out to their own thoughts of “right foot, left foot” until they arrive at their destination feeling energized, refreshed and ready to tackle their next task with enthusiasm (albeit probably a little sweaty).

3) Walking allows you to get in touch with your surroundings:

Looking for new places to eat, relax, go on dates, hang out with friends? You’d be surprised how much escapes your vision on a daily basis. Walking just a few blocks in an urban area will expose you to a variety of restaurants and businesses that you might not have been aware of before. Walking in a rural area will expose you to new beautiful landscapes and aspects of nature. It is important to humans to become familiar with our surroundings so that we may feel comfortable and at home. Walking through the area in which you live will make you feel more connected to your neighbourhood and more familiar with the attractions it has to offer.

4) Walking can help you find inspiration:

A combination of #1 and #3. Walking helps you to see new things and think new thoughts. What better way to become inspired? The human memory is a complex entity that eludes and excites us daily. Thinking and observing while you walk can help trigger past memories and motivations, helping you to create or regain inspirations that will dictate your future actions. Even better, walking will allow you to reflect on your inspirations so that these moments are not fleeting. Once an idea pops into your head you can consciously reflect on it and either form a plan of action or achieve a sense of closure, depending on the nature of the thought.

5) Walking will calm you down:

Life is fast, walking is slow. Like immersing yourself in a good book, walking is a gradual, linear activity that regulates your heartbeat and breathing, focusing your thoughts. Humans are highly capable multitaskers and we have become accustomed to doing many things at once, but multitasking too often has the effect of fragmenting our thoughts and turning our intentions into loose ends. We build stress as we fail to pursue our thought processes and actions to completion. We progressively feel incompetent at coping with our responsibilities. Like playing an instrument, reading, baking, or whatever hobby you enjoy, walking is an opportunity to engage completely in a task from start to finish.

A good walk will make you feel collected and complete, capable and alive.  


While out walking, why not make a stop at the Westvale Little Free Library.

Take a book…Leave a book.

Posted in All Posts & Comments Life Stuff by Being BOB. No Comments

Knowing more than the typical market in real estate is beneficial to teams


Building solid teams encourages learning and loyalty

Working with a team in real estate presents some challenges. Part of the issues you will face is motivating the individual agents to learn the market, gaining loyalty and building internal relationships.

Most agents mistake “the market” for just the homes for sale in your farm area or homes for sale in general. Let me inform you that “the market” is not limited to just homes for sale.

“The market” is also your town, your surrounding areas, your entertainment, your home value, as well as individual subdivisions your market offers. You can also view “the market” as your team unity.

So, in order to learn “the market” it is important to work with your team in learning and participating in activities that promote education that will allow you to build relationships as well.

Here is our weekly, monthly, six-month and yearly plans of action:

Weekly plan

On Monday: Announce the area of town you are going to study. It can be a subdivision, radius miles or a specific area of interest. Make sure that the homes in the area that you pick are within the niche price range you want the public to associate your team with. Send the team off to study the listings on their own.

On Thursday: Pick three or four homes in the area you picked to view and schedule a team tour for Friday morning.

On Friday: The team tours the three or four homes you chose. When you arrive back to the office, discuss what it is that you liked about the home. What are the selling features? What’s the attraction to the home? How is the listing agent marketing the home? If this was your listing, what would you do different?
(This really should only be a three hour activity for the week.)

Monthly plan

Pick a date, like every third Thursday or something that is consistent and easy to plan around.

This is the date that you do a team activity, and here are some ideas:

  • Hike a local national park.
  • Do a restaurant hop for lunch.
  • Explore city parks.
  • Go to a local play.
  • Attend a city council meeting.
  • Tour a local business.
  • Brainstorm upcoming team activities, and allow team participation with choosing the activities.

Six-month plan

Attend Inman conferences on the Pacific and Atlantic Coast.

12-month/yearly plan

Do a weeklong team and partner vacation. It can be local or a camping trip, ski trip or a tropical getaway. Doing activities such as these with your team will build confidence in each other as well as relationships that are going to last a lifetime. Offering something other than “work, work, work” will build loyalty and give your team something to work toward.

P.S. It is important to blog and post on all social media about you and your team, everything you are learning and how you are the experts in “the market.”

Posted in All Posts & Comments by Being BOB. No Comments

18 Ways to Make Selling Your Home Easier

Curb appeal is that undefinable something that draws you to a home at a glance. It is a combination of visual charm, visibly good upkeep, attention paid to landscaping and, especially, an inviting entry.  If your home lacks curb appeal, many prospective buyers will reject it without looking further. You also may be unable to price it as high as an equivalent home with great exterior appeal. A small budget goes a long way, especially if you do some jobs yourself. Here are 18 ways to bump up your home’s curb appeal:

1. Bust Clutter

“Clutter,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so think of it this way: Buyers need to imagine your home as their own, with their possessions and their style. Go for a clean, streamlined look:

  • Remove bikes, skateboards, trash cans, garden tools and other evidence of bustling family life.
  • Circle the house with a big garbage can, tossing scraps of paper and plastic, branches, leaves, dog waste and anything else that doesn’t belong in the yard.
  • Edit your home’s exterior. Eliminate all but a few carefully chosen pots and pieces of outdoor furniture.

2. Tour the Neighborhood

Walk, bike or drive around your neighborhood for inspiration. It’s useful to see what works in the homes surrounding yours; you’ll want it to fit nicely into the neighborhood style.

Look for simple ideas you can replicate easily for landscaping, paint and plant colors, walkways and entries.

3. Freshen the Entry

  • Clean the front door and give it a couple of coats of paint. Repair, replace or remove damaged screen or storm doors.
  • Remove everything, including furniture and pots, from the porch, deck or entry and give the entire area a thorough cleaning. Include: decking or floor, around and above the door, rafters, railings, moldings and steps. Repaint or touch up where needed.
  • Consider a new or custom front door to give the home a well-tended look. Polish metal knobs and fixtures. Place a big planted pot on each side of the front door.

4. Add Front Door Color

A bright note of contrasting color can bring a home’s front door to life. The trick is to choose colors that complement your home’s exterior landscaping and colors.

House Beautiful’s slide show offers ideas for contemporary paint color choices. Better Homes & Gardens explains how to choose a front door color that works with your home.

5. Add Living Space Outdoors

If your porch, deck or garden allows, install furnishings that expand the home’s living space into the outdoors. Outdoor rooms are a trendy attraction for homebuyers. Suggestions: Add an inexpensive indoor-outdoor rug, a porch swing, deck furniture, mood lighting, dining or barbecuing areas or an outdoor bar. This Old House has 39 ideas for creating outdoor living areas on a budget.

6. Repaint the Exterior

Repainting the outside of your home isn’t a low-budget option. But if the home is ready for a paint job and you can swing it, boy, does a new coat of paint ever pump up the curb appeal. Use your neighborhood tour to research colors and shades that appeal to you and fit in with neighbors’ homes. If you see a paint color you like, ask the homeowner for the color name and brand.

7. Paint Trim

If you can’t paint the entire home, paint the trim – or just the window trim – in an accent color for plenty of pop.

8. Replace Entry Fixtures

It’s amazing how new exterior light fixtures can update a home. The old fixtures may seem dated and unappealing to a buyer.

While you’re at it, replace the house numbers, the entry door lock set and front-door mailbox with new ones in the same style. Brushed nickel gives a contemporary look, while an oiled bronze finish works well in traditional homes.

9. Power Wash

Rent a power washer if you don’t own one and clean decks, carport and pavement. If you can’t repaint, use a power washer carefully to clean and brighten the home’s siding. Power washers can damage wood if used incorrectly, so get instructions from your rental company.

10. Clean & Repair Paving

Patch and repair concrete and asphalt paving. Apply a new coat of sealer to asphalt. Spread a fresh layer of gravel on gravel drive and paths.

11. Clean the Windows

Have windows cleaned or do it yourself, but don’t put your home on the market without sparkling windows, inside and out.

12. Clean & Repair the Roof

If your roof has moss, weeds or mold, clean it until it looks great from the street. Replace missing or broken shakes or tiles. Clean the gutters.

13. Mow, Weed & Trim

Keep the lawn carefully mowed. Spend a weekend shaping, pruning and cutting back overgrown shrubs. Mow neglected and overgrown areas. Prune trees and remove limbs hanging over the house. Weed gardens thoroughly and cover beds in mulch or compost.

14. Add High-Impact Landscaping

Tasteful landscaping can define a home’s exterior. Better Homes & Gardens says, in a slide show on boosting curb appeal, “Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers; passers-by will notice plant groupings more than individual flowers, making greater streetside impact.”

Also, get instant results by installing a few trees in pots to fill holes or bare spots in the landscaping. Frame the front door or entrance with symmetrical pots holding small trees or medium-sized perennial plants. If your budget is limited, concentrate your purchases on buying plants to create a beautiful entrance.

15. Improve the Lawn

It’s hard to make a home look great when the lawn is weedy or sickly. Boost your lawn’s health:

  • Fertilize with compost or a spare application of commercial fertilizer.
  • Set mower blades high.
  • Keep the mower well maintained and the blades sharp.
  • Water once or twice a week, a total of an inch a week, in the early morning.
  • Let clippings fall onto the lawn for nourishment.
  • Replace the lawn with new sod if the damage is intensive.

16. Shrink the Lawn

Homebuyers today are all about low maintenance. Reduce the maintenance and the water bill by removing a section of lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Create new garden beds filled with low-water plantings, stone pavers and gravel paths. Another low-maintenance amenity sure to prove attractive to buyers: Install an irrigation system.

17. Install Outdoor Lighting

Path lighting is an inexpensive, high-impact upgrade. You can install it yourself. Use a low-voltage outdoor system or skip the wiring altogether and use individual solar path lights. The solar lights are less bright but path lighting doesn’t require blazing light, only visual cues for safety and attractiveness.

Another lighting upgrade: Replace or add lighting fixtures on the home or garage exterior. Again, skip glaring floodlights. They can be blinding, creating a hazard.

18. Edge the Garden

Adding a border or edging to paths and garden beds gives landscaping a clean, professional appearance and adds to curb appeal. You have a choice of many materials, including stone, concrete, manufactured stone, wood, brick and metal edging. Be wary of plastic edging. It can look cheap and flimsy, turning off buyers.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

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