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Ready To Sell? Don't Forget To Stage The Yard, Too!

by The Jansen Team

Just as the first few moments when you first meet someone can set the tone for your opinion of them, the first glimpse you have of a house can make or break your impression of it. The first thing you see will be the yard and outside of the house which can either make you eager to enter the house or make you dread what you might find inside and a million varying degrees between those two reactions. It is important when you're selling your house to consider its curb appeal in advance of putting it on the market so that a buyer's first impression is a positive one.

There are two main things to consider when staging the outside of your home, one is the outside of the house itself and the second is the yard. Both of these elements need to collectively present an attractive welcome to any prospective buyers. Ideally, you should give yourself time to do any repairs or upkeep before your house goes on the market so that it looks its best before it is shown.

First, take a good hard objective look at the outside of your house. Notice any areas that need repair or cleaning and make a note of them. There are some common areas that will likely require some attention. Make sure that any clutter is cleaned up from the front of your house. Wash your siding with a method appropriate for the type of siding your house has and repaint the trim if necessary. Clean the driveway and apply a sealer if warranted. Wash your deck or patio and re-stain or weather-proof it if it needs some attention. Make sure that the roof is free from moss and your gutters are clean and well-maintained.

Next look at the areas where your yard needs improvements or could use some colour. There may be obvious areas that need some improvements, grass that needs replanting, plants that need removing or trimming back, or just stark areas of lawn. Weed and feed your lawn if it's the right season for it and take a bit of time to properly edge the lawn to give it a sharp, well-maintained look. Give your flowerbeds a thorough weeding, trim back plants or trees that are overgrown. Make sure that your fence is in good repair and appears clean and in good shape. Re-stain or paint it if it needs freshening up.

With the increasing trends to inviting outdoor living spaces, don't overlook the possible appeal of your backyard too. Avoid having too stark of a backyard, there's nothing inviting about a big square of grass with nothing to look at. An arrangement of outdoor furniture on your deck or patio combined with some artfully placed planters of flowers will go a long way towards making prospective buyers feel at home. Give some thought to some inexpensive but suitable plants that could be incorporated to add visual interest into your yard. Other items that can add interest to your outdoor living space are interesting rock placements, concrete ornaments, and interesting bird baths or feeders. To add evening appeal to your backyard living space add solar powered or electric lighting and an outdoor firepit or chimenea to deal with the evening chill.

The more inviting that your home can be to prospective buyers right from the first impression, the easier it will be for you to sell it. Even a small investment into your yard and the outside of your house can make a huge difference to how your house is received by buyers so take the time to make a lasting impression!

Buyers Now Avoiding "Fixer Uppers"

by Kathleen Lynn

Home Buyers Shun ‘Fixer-Uppers’

By Kathleen Lynn Print Article Print Article

RISMEDIA, May 2, 2011—(MCT)—In the overheated housing market of five years ago, buyers often felt they had to accept homes in woeful condition. But these days, most look at “as-is” properties and say, “No thanks.” “I try to stay away from things that need a lot of work,” says Michael Lisa of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., who is searching for a home in northern Bergen County, N.J.

“Buyers will tolerate nothing,” says Maria Rini, a Re/Max agent in Oradell, N.J. A recent Coldwell banker survey found that 87 percent of first-time buyers said a move-in-ready home is important to them.

“This is absolutely the story of this market. It seems buyers will pay a premium, engage in a bidding war and even overpay just to avoid buying a ‘project’ house,” said Beth Freed of Terrie O’Connor Realtors in Ridgewood, N.J.

As a result, real estate agents strongly advise sellers to fix up their homes for quicker and more profitable sales.

For example, when Kate Conover recently listed a Franklin Lakes, N.J., colonial, she encouraged the seller to replace the roof and driveway, repair ceilings, rip up carpets and paint interiors.

Paying contractors to do the work cost almost $40,000, but Conover estimated it added well over $100,000 to the asking price.

“There is no question homes that have been spruced up for the market sell quicker,” says Conover, a Re/Max agent in Saddle River, N.J.

But she recommended against major renovations—such as replacing the kitchen and baths—in the Franklin Lakes home. Most agents agree with that philosophy, saying sellers shouldn’t risk spending more than they’ll get back in the sale price. That’s especially true with major kitchen and bath renovations because they’re so much a matter of taste.

“No matter what you do, it may not be the buyer’s choice anyway,” says Antoinette Gangi, a Re/Max agent in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

On the other hand, agents say that major maintenance and safety issues—such as underground oil tanks and leaky roofs—must be dealt with before the home goes on the market, because buyers are unwilling to take them on.

Beyond those kinds of headaches, sellers can make a big difference with simple and relatively inexpensive fixes: painting the walls, getting rid of clutter and pulling up carpets to show the hardwood floors that buyers crave.

And spruce up the front yard and entryway to make a good first impression, recommends Pat Sudal, a Weichert agent in Ramsey. “Freshen the flowerpots, trim the bushes and mulch,” she suggests. In the same vein, Gangi recommends painting the front door if it’s looking tired.

“Curb appeal is very important, and the front door is the first thing you see,” Gangi says.

Getting rid of clutter (as part of an overall deep cleaning) is probably the most cost-effective step, agents say. When sellers resist this advice, Rini reminds them they’ll have to pack up their stuff when they move anyway.

“You’ve got to clean it out sometime; if you do it now, it’s going to benefit you financially,” she says.

Marie Ferraro, an Oakland, N.J. decorator who works with sellers, calls this “pre-packing.”

“You want to depersonalize the home so that prospective buyers can see their lifestyle happening there,” says Ferraro. Buyers may not even consciously notice that a room is cluttered or crowded with awkwardly arranged furniture, she said, “but they experience it nonetheless.”

“Get everything off the floor,” advises Cynthia Harkins, an agent with Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Franklin Lakes.

Harkins, who self-published a book called “The Savvy Seller,” says sellers can make rooms (and closets) seem more spacious by clearing the floor of boots, magazines, gym bags and backpacks.

Anne Landesman, who is moving to Austin, Texas, packed up books and artwork before putting her family’s Park Ridge, N.J., home on the market recently. She and her husband, Roy, also put a lot of furniture —including three sofas —into storage.

“I think it made a huge difference,” Landesman says. “People could get a good idea of the size of the rooms.”

Dawn Cox, a Weichert agent in Wayne, N.J., often counsels sellers to go beyond decluttering, by replacing outdated kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures and installing granite countertops.

Alan and Mary Chris Bassman did a bathroom upgrade rather than a complete renovation by replacing the vanity and toilet and repairing a cracked shower door.

In all, the family spent about $5,000 to spruce up the home, following the advice of Ferraro, the decorator, who works with the Bassmans’ agent, Kathleen Falco of Re/Max of Franklin Lakes.

“We sold the house in a couple of days, which I was shocked at,” Alan Bassman says.

Not all sellers have the energy to spruce up. In those cases, agents sometimes pitch in themselves to help declutter and stage the home and hire painters, cleaning crews and handymen. Homeowner Jennifer Glusman was pleasantly surprised when agents Lois Fein and John Schwartz of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty helped her prepare her family’s Edgewater condo for sale.

“John came in and helped stage items on our bookshelf and in the kids’ room and our room,” Glusman says. “He also lent us one of his own paintings.”

If sellers can’t or won’t prepare their homes for market, agents say, they have to lower their expectations on price.

This, in turn, can offer an opportunity for buyers who are willing to give up the search for HGTV-ready homes and look at properties that need “some love,” in the words of Tom Mikalouskas, a Re/Max agent in Montvale, N.J.

“I tell my buyers to look for the best bones or the best bang for your buck,” he says. “Basically, if you are able to get the worst home in a great neighborhood, you can only improve on your investment. You simply have to focus on potential in a down market like this.”

“Buyers who can look beyond the cosmetic issues usually can find treasures in this market,” Falco agrees.

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The Jansen Team
NP Dodge Real Estate
601 N. 108th Circle
Omaha NE 68154 USA
402 330 5954
Fax: 402-330-5365