YOU Magazine - February 2008 - Preparing Your Home for the Spring Selling Season Subscribe to YOU Magazine and other timely market alerts from Linda Winters.

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Linda Winters     Linda Winters
Sr. Mortgage Loan Originator #AK205946
Alaska USA Mortgage Company #AK157293
Phone: (907) 646-6359
Fax: (907) 375-4880
L.Winters@alaskausamortgage.com
www.lindawinters.net
Alaska USA Mortgage Company #AK157293
February 2008



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Preparing Your Home for the Spring Selling Season

Preparing Your Home for the Spring Selling Season

The days when you could throw a "For Sale" sign in the front yard and have your home sell quickly are over, at least for now. Around the country, home inventories are up, and the result has been a drastic increase in average selling times. Add to that the fact that your home may not be worth what it was a year ago, and you've got the makings of a rather lengthy, and potentially miserable, sales process.

But, it doesn't have to be that way. All you need to do is make sure that your home is one of the better looking ones in its price range. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you consider the number of owners who are willing to go to extreme measures to prepare their homes for sale. Let's put it this way; remodeling a kitchen or re-flooring the entire house would not be considered that uncommon.

If this scares you, here's some news that may lift your spirits. Although selling a home has become harder, buying your new home will be much easier and cheaper! This is because the seller of your future home will be taking the same steps you are to secure the sale. Now that we're looking at the glass as half-full, let's concentrate on getting your home sold.

To help in this matter, YOU Magazine sat down with Jeff Lichtenstein of Waterfront Properties and Club Communities in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Jeff is not only one of the top real estate agents in the country, he is also an expert at selling homes in country club communities. Because of their higher prices, as well as a buyer's ability to compare like houses within close proximity of each other, country club homes can be a tough sale.

Jeff claims that, above all else, a seller must adopt what he refers to as a "seller's state of mind". While you have lived in your home for 15 years and become accustomed to its look and feel, a prospective buyer has not. Your home is now a product, and it's your job to prepare it for sale. All of the decisions you make now are business decisions, and emotions should be avoided. Try to obtain an expert opinion, either from a real estate agent or a professional home stager, regarding what needs to be done and then act on their advice.

Jeff also says, "You must be proactive," referring to the practice of obtaining a home inspection before putting your home on the market. In addition, he advises that you "go ahead and do any necessary repairs." Be prepared to offer a copy of the report to prospective buyers. They will appreciate knowing that you've already taken care of these issues in advance. Lichtenstein went on to say that being proactive in this area often results in higher offers on a home than originally projected.

When asked about what a seller should look for in a real estate agent, Jeff offered the following 6 tips:

  1. You need to know how the agent plans to market your home. Ask them for a game plan regarding the amount of advertising they intend to do.

  2. You want someone who is active in your market. Just as you would go see a specialist for a medical or legal situation, the real estate agent you choose should know the ins and outs of your neighborhood.

  3. Ask for references, complete with phone numbers and testimonials, from satisfied customers.

  4. Take a look at the agent's support staff. This includes everything from their personal team to the mortgage professional(s) they like to work with.

  5. Look for a strong negotiator!

  6. You must be able to get along with the real estate agent you choose. It doesn't matter how good they are. This can be a stressful situation so make sure you work with someone who will help you to enjoy the process.

Speaking of talented and likeable real estate agents, YOU Magazine visited with Kathi Lundstrom of Illustrated Properties in Sewall's Point, Florida. Kathi is an expert agent who came highly recommended to us by multiple professionals. Our aim in contacting Kathi was to get her advice regarding the best ways to sell a home quickly.

Lundstrom says that in terms of improvements, the very first place to start is with the outside of your home. She says, "If your home doesn't look inviting from the outside, a buyer may never venture inside." Here are four great steps you can take to achieve proper curb appeal.

  1. Have your sidewalks, front porch, and driveway pressure-cleaned.

  2. Add color to the front yard by planting flowers and getting rid of anything that detracts from the look of the home.

  3. Give your landscape a makeover! Make sure that shrubs are trimmed, branches are pruned, and the lawn is manicured.

  4. If your home needs a fresh coat of paint, then make it happen. Even the best of paint jobs can start to fade within a year. Most homes need painting every five years, but some homeowners will try to stretch it out as long as possible.

Both Lichtenstein and Lundstrom agree that the internet has become crucial when it comes to the sale of a home. Some studies have shown that the home-buying process begins with a computer in as many as 80% of all sales. What does this mean to you? For starters, make sure that your real estate agent has an active presence on the internet. The agent must have a system in place to handle internet inquiries and be as responsive to inquiries from their email account as they are to their phone ringing. While print media is still used for initiating a home search, studies indicate that less than 18% of buyers consider this important. When it comes to open houses, while many sellers demand them, it turns out that they account for only 2% of home searches and are not as relevant as they once were.

Virtual tours and attractive, professional pictures can now provide buyers with an initial viewing of your home. If a real estate agent isn't prepared to market your home in this fashion, you should probably look elsewhere. Think about it for a minute. When you're viewing homes for sale online, which ones do you look at first? Most likely it will be the homes with good-looking pictures and the ones that offer additional pictures or a virtual tour of some sort. Many real estate agents are even including video and slide shows now in order to offer a more appealing experience for prospective buyers.

Jeff and Kathi also agree that how you price your home has an impact on how many people will look at it. They suggest keeping the price just below the high-end range of the category. Don't price your home at $305,000 if you are willing to accept in the high $200s. Instead, price it at $300,000 or below. If someone thinks the most they can pay is $300,000, you want them to see your home when they look at that price range on a real estate website.

Spring is on its way and that means that potential homebuyers will soon be looking for a house. If you're thinking about selling your home, then now is the time to focus on "catching their eye". If you start transforming your home now, you'll gain a leg up on all the other sellers.


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