Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Invested are YOU in Selling Your Home?

When a home owners contact a REALTOR® for a market analysis, they often have a myriad of questions to ask me as their potential agent about what I can do to get their home sold. They want a person with a good, solid track record of getting a home sold quickly and for the best price possible. This is what I want too and it does take a good strong marketing plan. One key to the process is when I work with a motivated home seller who is on the same page with me and who asks, “What can I do to make my home appealing to a buyer?” And even if the home seller doesn't ask, I will work the topic into the conversation. There is nothing worse than trying to represent an apathetic or reluctant home seller.

If a homeowner doesn’t want to do the work and partner with me to get there home sold, it will be an uphill battle to the closing table. It is imperative for a home seller to be totally invested in the home selling process. And this starts even before the home is listed on the market.

Steps to being an INVESTED Home Seller!

  • Preparation—Having the home freshly painted, cleaned and staged are essential before the home is listed. Special touches really do add a welcoming touch like a seasonal wreath on the front door. Dust free vents, spotless floors, cobweb-free ceilings and light fixtures do make a difference.
  • Pricing—Listen to the advice of experts when it comes to setting the price. Don’t go by an old appraised value or what your dad said he would ask for your home. Unless Pops is a real estate professional, it is best to stick to the market statistics to come up with your list price.
  • Presentation—Interior and exterior appeal should be optimized for each and every showing.  Beyond clean and staged, light a fire in the fireplace, place a plate of warm cookies on the counter and make a potential homebuyer feel welcome!
  • Availability—Allow buyers in! Don’t say no to a showing unless it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes relocation homebuyers are just in town for a limited time and make their decision based on the homes they see that day. If you refuse a showing, you might miss out.
A potential home seller really wants and needs for their listing agent to be invested in getting their home sold quickly. But all the marketing in the world cannot get a home sold if the homeowner isn’t invested in getting the home sold too!

Copyright 2012 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Not Your Grandma's Kitchen Linoleum!

Faux Ceramic Tile Vinyl Flooring

Our kitchen, laundry and main hallway flooring was a beautiful white geometric design. It was a very popular pattern when we purchase our home in the late 1990’s but a decade later, it was just ugly.  

Being a REALTOR® and knowing we would be moving within a few years, we didn’t want to over remodel our home but knew we had to make changes during our kitchen remodel in 2010. We decided on an upgrade of hardwood for the kitchen and adjoining family room we were converting into a dining room but what to do with the hallways and laundry? In my mind’s eye, I saw ceramic tile but it didn’t calculate as a wise investment. Our second thought was a laminate floor that looked like tile. However the flooring store professionals talked us out of that one—best not to use Pergo-type products anywhere that is damp due to potential peeling of the image. So, we finally opted for an upgraded vinyl that looked like tile. Some of the faux-ceramic tile products have a visible texture so one has to reach down and touch it to see if it is tile or not. It was the perfect choice! The first day after the vinyl floor installation, our milkman was making his weekly delivery and asked when we had the ceramic tile installed. Bingo! Now, two years later and it still looks new! And best of all, it was just a fraction of the cost of ceramic or laminate flooring.

It is essential to make smart choices when upgrading features in your home. This is especially true if you plan to move someday. Not every home has the value or location to support high quality upgrades. Sometimes a good, budget-conscious alternative is the way to go. Over upgrading is one of the saddest news I have to deliver when people ask a market analysis. There is often a misguided expectation of receiving a dollar for dollar return on the remodeling investment. The reality is more of 25-30% return on investment on average for most remodeling projects. However, not doing anything when your home is out of date or deteriorating can affect the bottom-line when it comes time to sell. This is where a REALTOR® for life comes in. If you are unsure of whether you need to install the most expensive or just a good quality alternative product in your next remodel, give all me. I can help you decide whether your upgrades will make sense for the neighborhood. 

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm 

The Right Treat is no Trick in the Halloween Capital of the World!

Halloween is on the minds of many this time of year and at a real estate closing there's no exception. In the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" we are known to be "Minnesota Nice" so when a home is sold by a traditional seller to a new home buyer, all parties sit down in the same room for the closing transaction. After all the signing is done, the title company representatives  leave the room to make copies of the documents and to prepare the checks from the final settlement. During this time,  home sellers take a few minutes to explain some idiosyncrasies of the home and pass over the keys, Often these are expected concerns like how to change the code for the electronic garage door opener, which is the best cable company in the area or where the water shut off is located. Buyers will question what day the trash is picked up and what the schools are like.

As a REALTOR in Anoka County, Home to the Halloween Capital of the World, I have seen the  the questions and necessary information traded between the seller and the new homeowner become a little more festive in the days before the big holiday. New homeowners from neighborhoods big and small often want to know how many kids are in the neighborhood  which quickly translates to how many bags of candy will be needed.

A few years ago I attended a closing for a home in Anoka County. The seller lived on a dead end street with only a handful of neighbors as is quite normal in this area filled with acreage homes. The seller made certain to pass on the request of the  the 6 year old (and recently front-toothless) girl next store who had already come over and let it be known that  "Reethe's Pee-thes"  were her preferred Halloween Candy. The seller made sure to add the necessary lisp for effect. It is good to share a light-hearted moment after all the stress of buying/selling is complete!

Have a festive, fun and safe HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2012 www.terieckholm.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Don’t Wait Until Next Spring to Sell Your Minnesota Home!

As a REALTOR® in the north and east Minneapolis/St Paul area, I hear it all the time...Potential home sellers lamenting about how it is too late in the year to sell their Minnesota home. It’s late October now, so soon the snow will fly and no one will be buying. “We missed the market this year so we will have to wait until spring to sell our house now!”

My response is quite simple. “If you can list your home now, you REALLY should.”  

And the reasons are equally simple:
  1. Low Inventory
  2. Continued Demand

The Minneapolis/St Paul metro area has become a year round market. Sure, more people do move in spring and summer but traditional sellers have an opportunity to shine if they list their homes when there are mostly distressed homes on the market. These very low interest rates and increasing news reports about how home prices are edging up, have gotten buyers off the proverbial fence and into the market. Home buyers are waiting for well maintained and well priced homes to hit the market. This is an opportunity few home sellers will take advantage of because they think people do not want to move in the winter. And some people don’t want the inconvenience of showings during the holidays.

But in my experience, the buyers looking in the fall and winter months are very serious about buying a home. Home buyers are tired of viewing bank-owned properties that need work and have no disclosures. They are frustrated with short sale homes that they will have to wait months for possession. Most buyers prefer to buy from a traditional seller….and buyers do worry that prices and interest rates could edge up in the spring. So home buyers are looking in October and will be looking in November, December and January too. But a well prepared home seller might not have to wait that long. In the past few weeks, homes that I have listed received offers within days of hitting the market. Pricing and preparation were key to getting the quick offers. These are not flukes either. I have seen many well priced listings fly off the MLS in October.

Quick Staging Tips for Selling Your Home this Fall:

  1. Rake leaves and clean gutters—Unfortunately, this may need to be done daily if you are getting lots of showings. But buyers cannot assess the condition of the lawn, sidewalk and roof if it is covered with leaves.
  2. Heat up cinnamon sticks—Put a few cinnamon sticks in a pan on the stove or in a microwave dish with water just before a showing so it smells like an autumn festival!
  3. Turn on the gas fireplace—If you've got it, flaunt it! A crackling fire adds ambiance and makes a house feel like home!
  4. Pumpkins and mums—Accent the entry with a pumpkin, colorful mum or other fall décor to give seasonal curb appeal. 

Copyright 2012 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Evergreen? Well, Maybe

It's fall in Minnesota. We are fortunate to live in a state with four seasons and autumn is definitely full of color. In a month or so, we could be almost all white as our winter season blows in. But  when the golds and crimsons and rust colored leaves are but a memory, the greens of the pines and firs will still be a part of our landscapes. 

This summer has been brutally dry. It's been a very long time since our lawns and trees in Anoka County have received a good, soaking rain. In fact, September was the second driest on record in Minnesota. Our trees are suffering along with our lawns. As a REALTOR® I know that a wooded landscape can add significant value to a home. It provides curb appeal and beautifies the exterior. If you have evergreens, they may not show the signs of stress right now. But the drought conditions could mean your pines won't be green come spring. In fact, they could be dead. 

Keeping your evergreens green will mean more than adding a quick watering to the fall "Honey Do" List. In Anoka County, much of the soil is sandy and doesn't hold in the water like clay or black dirt. It is recommended to give pines a good soaking before the ground freezes. To do this it's a good idea to run a sprinkler for few hours or put the hose down at the base of the tree for a good 15-30 minutes so the water has time to soak down into the roots.

Take a little time while enjoying the fall colors to protect your evergreens so they will continue to provide beauty to your landscape for year to come.

Copyright 2012 www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Almost) Divine or De-Vine?

I have always loved the look of ivy growing over a trellis and marveled at the beauty of home covered in vines. But when is a creeping ivy just too much of a good thing? 

This photo of a store front in Stillwater, Minnesota shows this ivy almost completely covers the brick. One has to wonder whether the vine growth could be damaging the bricks underneath. So, what do you think? Is it divine or time to de-vine this building? 

Copyright 2012 www.terieckholm.com