When selling your home, there are no guarantees that a buyer will simply walk through the front door. There are steps that you need to take so that your property receives maximum exposure to attract a ready, willing and able buyer.

The appearance of your home, a buyer’s first impression, and other considerations can also affect the sale of your home. Have you considered that home prices in your neighborhood and the value of your property are also factors used for pricing your home? In many cases you may have to bring your home to the buyer. Effective marketing will help ensure that your home is sold in a timely manner at the best price.

Below are some articles I have written that you might find useful in the home selling process. Please feel free to click on one of the links to read more.

Five tips for selling your home in today’s market

In today’s real estate market, sellers have to do everything they can to make their homes stand out. Here are my top five tips for making sure your home sells when there are more sellers than buyers.Tips for Selling Your Home

Number 5 – Curb Appeal…First impressions count, and the first thing buyers will see is the front yard. Make sure that the hedges are neatly trimmed and don’t block the windows. Add some color by putting flowers and bedding plants around the front entrance. Paint the mailbox if needed, clean the bugs out of the porch light, put out a pretty welcome mat, and power wash the porch and the brick or siding. You don’t have to spend much money on general yard clean up!

Number 4 – Your house should be spotlessly clean and fresh…Before you list it, deep clean it! Shampoo the carpets, clean the windows, dust the ceiling fans, wipe down the baseboards and clean everything you can think of to clean. Your house should be fresh and clean for every showing!

Number 3 – Paint…Paint is not expensive and it makes a world of difference in how your home shows. Fresh, clean paint is appealing to the buyer. Pick colors that are neutral, but don’t pick white. White walls are cold – you need to warm up the room with some color – just don’t go overboard with lime green or purple!

Number 2 – Stage it Right…De-clutter everything. Go ahead and rent a storage facility, because you will probably need it. Put your off-season clothes in storage, pack-up nick-nacs and doo-dads that you have collected, clean out and organize the pantry, and put family pictures away. Ask your Realtor to recommend a good home stager to help you arrange the furniture and accessories to showcase the home. If you have too much large furniture, your stager will recommend that you put some of it in storage.

And…The Number 1 Tip – Price it Right…This is the most important tip for selling your home! Your Realtor will recommend a price range based on comparable sales in your neighborhood. If your home is priced too high, you will end up convincing potential buyers to buy someone else’s home. Your home will sit on the market too long and the listing will become stale. Even if you lower the price later, potential buyers will wonder why it took so long to sell and are likely to make lowball offers. Listen to your Realtor and price it right to start with!

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Information you need to provide to your Realtor

If you are thinking about putting your house up for sale, but don’t know where to start, there are some documents and information you need to gather up ahead of time. If you have this information available before meeting with a Realtor to discuss listing your home, the listing appointment will be more productive. Here is what you need to gather up:

  • Current mortgage payoff, loan number, contact information for the mortgage company
  • Current payoff information for any home improvement loans or home equity loans
  • Information about your purchase of the home – did you buy it new? Name of builder, what you paid for it, type of loan and the terms, etc.
  • Utility bills for the last year
  • Contact numbers for utility providers (electric, gas, water, sewer, trash pick-up)
  • Survey of the property
  • Original floor plan and warranty information from the builder if available
  • List of improvements, upgrades and repairs done since you purchased the home, including any warranty information or instruction manuals
  • Name and contact number for the homeowner’s association
  • Warranty booklets and guidebooks for appliances, including dishwasher, oven, range, microwave, hot water heater, air conditioning and heating systems, etc.
  • Information about security alarm
  • Information about septic system and/or water well if applicable
  • List of things you love about your home and your neighborhood

Any information you can round up before you meet with your Realtor will make the listing process easier and faster.

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copyright © Rose King 2012

A pre-listing inspection is a good idea

I showed a foreclosure home to some clients a few weeks ago, and they loved it. The home had been flipped by an investor who eventually lost it to his hard money lender. My clients made an offer, and after a little bit of negotiation, we were under contract. Time to order the inspection!

The inspector arrived and right off the bat started finding things we hadn’t noticed previously. Some of the things he discovered were pretty alarming. He found rafters in the attic that were completely broken, a wooden support beam passing straight through the chimney in the attic, exposed wiring in several places, a slight foundation issue, leaky roof, some electrical issues, and more.

My clients decided to pass on the house, so we terminated the contract within the 10-day option period that Texas allows for unrestricted right of termination.

The listing agent was not happy. She called me to argue about the condition of the home, which had been updated with new carpet, fresh paint, granite countertops, and new light fixtures. When I gave her a partial list of the alarming safety issues with the home, she asked if I would send her a copy of the inspection report.

I checked with my clients, who had paid for the inspection, and they asked me not to send the report to her. Their opinion was that the owner should have had his own inspection done prior to putting the house on the market so that those issues would not be a surprise.

I told the listing agent that I could not share the report with her, which didn’t go over well.

Since then, she has called me four times to ask if I would send her the report. Each time, I tell her I can’t, because the report belongs to my clients and they do not want to give it to her.

I can certainly understand how having the inspection report would help the owner determine what repairs need to be made. But there is quite a bit of value attached to that report. The home inspection cost my clients $350, and the termite inspection was an additional $85. Plus, my clients had to pay the seller $100 for the 10-day option period and the right to terminate the contract during that period for any reason. My clients spent over $500 on the report and the option period.

This brings up an issue that sellers should discuss with their Realtor. A seller should consider having a pre-listing inspection done on their house before putting it on the market. A pre-listing inspection will bring to light any repairs that need to be addressed, and will give the seller an opportunity to make sure the house is in tip-top shape. If all of the repairs have already been done on the house, it gives potential buyers confidence and assurance that the home has been well-maintained. A pre-listing inspection is a good selling point!

If the seller of the foreclosure home had done a pre-listing inspection before listing the home, they would have been able to address the serious issues beforehand, and perhaps could have held on to my buyers. They are going to have to make most of those repairs anyway before a buyer can get a loan on the home, so they might as well have had a pre-listing inspection done to help identify what needed to be repaired in advance.

My advice to sellers…have a pre-listing inspection done before you put your home on the market! In the long run, it might help your house sell faster, and it might help you hang on to interested buyers!

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Your Realtor should bring in a home stager to help sell your home

The agent you select to help you sell your home will have a toolbox full of marketing strategies and advertising ideas designed to bring qualified buyers in to see your home. Making sure your home gets maximum internet exposure, putting top-quality photos on the MLS, mailing out just­-listed cards, purchasing print media advertising, doing broker open houses, and sending email blasts are just a few of the tools you’ll find in most Realtor arsenals. But sometimes, the preliminary work your Realtor does to help you get ready to market your home is just as important as what happens once it is listed.

One of the things that I always do for my sellers prior to the listing going active is to provide a complimentary two-hour consultation with a home stager to help them determine what needs to be done to their house to get it “model home ready” for showings.

The stager I use goes through the home, room by room, making suggestions for moving furniture, rearranging accessories, removing clutter, painting, or purchasing a few things that will help make the home picture perfect. She always makes sure to offer suggestions that won’t cost anything, in addition to making some suggestions that will fall within a pre-set budget.

I pay for the staging consultation as part of my listing service, and it is always money well spent. The stager will spend a few minutes explaining her additional services to the homeowner, such as shopping for accessories, and doing the furniture and accessory placement in the home. Homes that have been prepped by a stager get better photos for the MLS and internet marketing, get more showing appointments, and sell faster than the ones that are not previewed first by a stager.

When you are ready to sell your home, be sure to find a Realtor who will assist you with the use of a professional stager. It’s well worth it!

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Do open houses really help sell a home?

An acquaintance whose home is for sale recently commented to me that he wondered if open houses really worked. He asked me about my experience with open houses and if I thought they were beneficial. My answer….Absolutely!

 An Open House is just one aspect of a complete marketing plan for selling your home. The more buyers who see your home, the higher the chances it will sell. While every visitor who tours your home may not find that it meets their needs, they might have friends or family members who would love the home. A good Realtor will follow up with every visitor by phone or e-mail. If the home doesn’t work for them, your Realtor will ask if they have friends or family members looking for a home who might be interested.

Your Realtor will invite your neighbors to come to the open house and ask them to bring friends who are looking to buy.  A “Pick Your New Neighbor” post card mailed to your neighbors prior to the open house will bring in lots of potential buyers.

A complete marking plan for selling your house will have many components, all of which work together to find a buyer for your home. An open house is a great way to increase traffic and bring in more interested buyers.

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Did you pay too much for your home?

Lately I have had several homeowners contact me about selling their homes. Some were in a situation where they paid too much for their homes just a few years ago, and will likely lose money when they sell. There are several situations when a homebuyer may have paid too much, but here is what I run into most often:

You bought it without the assistance of a Realtor. If you bought your house from a friend or relative who had the house priced at what he thought was a good price, you may have paid too much. A Realtor can help you determine the fair market value of a home to insure that you are paying the right price. Just because your friend’s uncle says a house is worth a certain amount, doesn’t mean that the price is right. Trust your Realtor to help you.

You bought your house brand new from the builder’s sales representative in the model home, without the help of a Realtor. You probably paid list price. The salesperson in the model home works for the builder and his/her job is to sell the house for the highest possible price. A Realtor will help you negotiate a better price, more upgrades and even bigger contributions to your closing costs. Again, trust your Realtor to help you.

You called the agent listed on the “For Sale” sign and bought the house without your own buyer’s agent to represent you. Once again, the listing agent represents the seller and must try to sell the house for the highest amount possible. Having your own buyer’s agent will insure that you have all of the information you need to negotiate a good price. Trust your Realtor to help you!

If you find yourself in a situation where you paid too much for your home, and need to sell it, contact a good Realtor to discuss your options.

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Sellers, don’t let anyone look at your home without a Realtor and an appointment!

Bill Bein’s recent post about Nine Security Tips for Sellers reminded me of an unfortunate incident that happened at one of my listings a while back.

Last summer, one of my sellers took a day off from work to get some additional staging and clean-up done around her house. Hubby was at work and the kids were at school. A very nice looking, well-dressed lady pulled up in front of her house and rang the doorbell. The lady said that she was just driving by, picked up a flyer from the flyer box, and just couldn’t wait to see inside the house. She wanted to know if she could take a quick peek right then. She said she was friends with one of the neighbors.


My seller told her that she was in the process of cleaning up a bit, and the house was a mess, and that it would be best if she came back later with her Realtor.

Now, I had told the sellers repeatedly to NEVER let someone in to look at the house unless they were with their Realtor and had an appointment. So my seller was thinking about what I told her, but the lady seemed really nice, so she finally relented and let the nice lady in for a quick tour. The lady loved the house and said she would get with her Realtor right away to come back for a better look.

The next day, my seller was back at work and their house was robbed! The thief took their big flat-screen TV, some jewelry, and a few other things. When they got home from work and discovered the robbery, they had only about an hour before their first officially scheduled showing. So they hurriedly brought a spare TV from the kids’ game room into the den where the missing TV had been, called the police, filed a report, and then went next door while their house was being properly shown by a Realtor who had an appointment.

Now the robbers may or may not have had anything to do with the lady who took a quick tour of the house the day before, but it seemed possible that she could have quickly scoped out the place, made some polite conversation with the owner about why she was home that day, and returned for the loot when the owners were at work.

The funny thing about this is that my sellers NEVER TOLD ME WHAT HAPPENED…until several months later. The wife said they were embarrassed that they hadn’t followed my warning about letting strangers in to look at the house, so they didn’t tell me.

Needless to say, they never did that again!

So the moral of this story is….Sellers, NEVER let someone in to look at your house unless they are with their Realtor and they have a scheduled appointment!

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Top secret FBI houses are too much trouble to show!

My good friend Pam Miller had a house listed one time that she nick-named “The FBI House”. There was no sign in the yard because the owner didn’t want the neighbors to know she was selling her house. I tried to show it several times, but the owner kept declining the showing requests for one reason or another. There was a 24-hour advance notice requirement, and the owner insisted on being present for the showings…but she was never available to be present when I wanted to show it, even with 24-hours notice! That’s why Pam called it “The FBI House” – it was top secret – no sign in the yard and no showings allowed!

Top SecretPam finally sold that house, but I don’t know how she did it…must have been some sort of miracle!

It’s a mystery to me why people will put their houses on the market, but NOT let anyone look at them, or even let anyone know the house is for sale!

I ran into some of those Top Secret FBI houses last week when I was making showing appointments. One declined the showing request because there was a children’s birthday party going on at the house.  A couple of others didn’t give a reason – just “declined”. And another one said “no lockbox, but the back door is unlocked.” Of course, the back door was locked when we showed up, so we couldn’t get in to see the house.

When I take a listing, putting a sign in the yard and a lockbox on the door is a requirement. And, I always tell my sellers that while under certain circumstances they certainly CAN decline a showing request, it’s NOT a good idea.

If you decline a showing request, chances are pretty SLIM that the showing agent will try to reschedule. There are just too many houses out there for sale, so the agent will probably just skip yours and move on to another one.

If the house is a mess, just do the best you can to pick things up before the showing and let them come anyway. You could try telling the showing agent that you’ve had 15 kids in the house all morning, and ask them if they could come to your house last. Most will try to accommodate you. Or if you have company, ask the showing agent if it’s okay if you and your guests just step outside during the showing instead of leaving. Or if there is a children’s birthday party going on, let the lookers come anyway and offer them some cake!

About the only time it is understandable to decline a showing is if a family member is home sick. In that case, declining a showing would be the right thing to do.

When I try to make appointments to show houses for my buyers, and someone declines the showing request, I usually toss that listing in the trash…unless it is a house my buyers specifically asked to see. Most of the time there are plenty of other houses to look at that are available for showings. If I run out of houses to show, I’ll come back and reschedule, but that rarely happens.

So…the moral of this story is, if you want me, or any other agent, to show your house to buyers, your house had better NOT be a top-secret FBI house! Put a sign in the yard, put a lockbox on the door, and accept the showing request!

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copyright © Rose King 2012

Granite counter tops – everybody wants them!

There are many different opinions on the most important things a seller can do to help their home sell quickly. Of course, price is of huge importance, and so is de-cluttering and staging. But if a seller is willing to spend a little money on updates to help get their home sold, my suggestion would be to update the kitchen with granite countertops.

Almost every buyer I have worked with wants granite in the kitchen. They can live without granite in the bathrooms, but it’s one of the first things they look for in the kitchen. I don’t think I have ever had a buyer choose a home with formica or tile countertops over a similar house with granite, unless the price was significantly different.

Granite countertops can be installed at a reasonable price, depending on the size of the kitchen and the amount of counter space. There are many Level One granites that are quite beautiful and very reasonably priced.

Of course, if you put in granite countertops, you will need a nice backsplash to go with it. There are some inexpensive ceramic tiles that look really nice. And, one of the prettiest kitchens I have ever seen used inexpensive bead-board for the backsplash.

One thing you would want to change out would be your kitchen sink and faucet. It’s best to go with an under-mount sink. Check the big-box home improvement stores for the best price.

If you can spend a little money on updates for your home, the kitchen is the place to splurge. Those granite countertops can make your home more competitive, and the cost will be well worth it when you get that offer from a qualified buyer.

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copyright © Rose King 2012