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Virtual Staging

I’d never tried virtual staging….but when I had a seller that had no interest in having furniture moved in and out of their home I realized quickly…no buyer was interested in even visiting the home because they couldn’t figure out how to place their furniture.

I ran across a very talented artist that offered virtual staging as a solution….so I sent him over 8 photos of my listing…and these are what were returned.

I know this is going to help sell this home…..it now looks warm and inviting…and it’s easy to see how pretty it can be with the right furniture.

Knowing where to put your furniture can be a challenge…and having a huge living room can be difficult for everyone.

Note how cozy the dining room looks with the added bar cart!

The master bedroom seemed very “cold” with the white tile floors….but once staged, you can appreciate the advantage of having a rug instead of wall to wall carpet.

Even secondary bedrooms can use the virtual staging help…look how much nicer these rooms look with furniture!

What stays with the house?

Not sure what is supposed to stay when you’ve sold your house?

When you sell a lot of houses you tend to have some pretty amazing stories about items that weren’t clear to the sellers…..how about these?

  1.  The sellers moved the water bed and forgot they carpeted around it….so a big hole without carpet was in the master bedroom for our walk through before signing to buy.
  2. The buyers drove up to discover all the rose bushes were missing….the sellers said they thought they were theirs because they planted them in honor of their Mom years ago (this happened twice….both my sellers blamed it on Mom)
  3. The front door was not the leaded glass door that was there when they bought it…it was a much cheaper door.  The seller wanted the old door for the new house but forgot to tell anyone.
  4. The curtains in a guest room were the same color…but not the eyelet fabric….the seller told me this a few weeks after closing bragging that the buyer hadn’t even noticed that she took the curtains…..when the buyer called me years later to sell the house for her she pointed out that she would leave the same curtains that were up in that room and would not be replacing them with eyelet fabric.
  5. All the curtains were gone and holes in the wall from where the curtain rods had been.
  6. All the curtains and rods were gone and the holes patched.
  7. The gas logs in the fireplace had been removed (by the seller…..caution….this could be  a gas leak).
  8. The lamppost light in the front flower bed was bent from the seller trying to dig it up as the buyers drove up to their new house.
  9. No floor molding or tile was behind the desk the seller removed from the kitchen (it was personal property but once again….they had installed the tile floors around the desk that they decided was a personal item later).
  10. An older black stove was in the kitchen instead of the new black double oven stove that had originally been in the house when the buyer wrote the offer.

If it’s attached, it probably stays…unless you have something in the contract specifically stating it doesn’t stay.

So…what stays?

In Texas, all appliances….except the refrigerator.  That means dishwasher, stove, microwave.  Your washer and dryer are yours unless you agreed in a Non-Realty Items addendum to leave them or sell them to the buyers.

DishwasherStove

 

 

 

 

Your faucets, the disposal under the sink, the water softener, chandelier, light fixtures and fans are the new buyers.  The mirrors above the bathroom sinks stay.  If you have cabinets in the bathrooms, kitchen, utility room and garage….they stay.  Even shelves can become an issue if you remove them.  This does not mean replace them with cheaper versions before closing….the items that were in the house when the buyer saw the house must be in the house at closing.

 

The curtains and rods stay…unless you have agreed in the contract that you are allowed to take them.  The lampshades on the chandelier remain with the house.

The fireplace screen remains—unless you have agreed in the contract that it does not stay.

Per the Texas Earnest Money Contract:  “The house, garage and all other fixtures and improvements including appliances, valances, screens, shutters, awnings, wall to wall carpeting, mirrors, ceiling fans, attic fans mail boxes, television antennas, mounts and brackets for televisions and speakers, heating and air conditioning units, security and fire detection equipment, wiring, plumbing and lighting fixtures, chandeliers, water softener system, kitchen equipment, garage door openers, cleaning equipment, shrubbery, landscaping, outdoor cooking equipment, and all other property owned by the seller and attached to the above described real property.”

“Accessories:  window air conditioning units, stove, fireplace screens, curtains and rods, blinds, window shades, draperies and rods, door keys, mailbox keys, above ground pool equipment and maintenance accessories, artificial fireplace logs, and controls for garage doors, entry gates, and other improvements and accessories”.

Mirrors are considered realty items if they are attached above sinks.  Always check before you buy if a beautiful mirror is staying….just because it is attached to the wall doesn’t mean the seller is leaving it.  Lots of homes have room for large mirrors in closets and bathrooms that could be considered “personal property”……always ask if there is a question…and add a “Non-Realty Items Addendum” to avoid problems later if you believe it could be questionable later.

Brackets for television and speakers can be tricky…..if the seller has a huge TV in the living room and you aren’t planning on putting a TV there….discuss this during your option period.  Know before you close if wires are going to be left dangling from the ceiling from the surround sound speakers the seller removed or if you will have a huge bracket for  a TV that you didn’t want to hang on that particular wall.  The seller may prefer to take the TV bracket and patch the hole for you…..these items can (and should) be negotiated before closing day.

I got a phone call last year from an agent that was walking the property with her buyer before the buyer went to sign the final papers to purchase.  Her question?  “Where are the surround sound speakers?”  This was the first discussion about speakers…..clearly, from the contract, they were not sold with the house.  I assume that was a long ride to the title company for that agent and buyer.

Once your house is under contract…if something breaks before closing it needs to be repaired.  I recommend you tell your Realtor and buyer the item  broke and you are repairing it.   If it didn’t work when you put the house on the market….put this information in your sellers disclosure.

The number one reason why Sellers  gets sued after closing is for not disclosing items properly on their sellers disclosure….so carefully fill the seller’s disclosure out correctly.  If something is in the house that you want (Mom’s Roses, a chandelier, a mirror above a sink, curtains and rods)….if possible, remove them before you put them on the market.  If that isn’t possible….make sure in your MLS write up that that item is discussed and THEN make sure it is written in the contract as not remaining.

When it’s all said and done….the happiest Sellers and Buyers are those who are informed.

 

 

Buyers Option Period

Today is day 8 of a buyer’s ten day option period and we don’t have an amendment back from the buyer’s agent…..but we did receive a call yesterday from the agent telling us that she was in the process of writing an amendment up.

What buyers (and sometimes their buyer’s agents) don’t understand….when we don’t get an amendment within a few days of the home inspection (done 5 days ago) the seller begins to believe they have no repairs to worry about.  When an amendment requesting repairs shows up at the last minute  (to sellers two days before the option up seems like “last minute”) it is difficult for me, as the seller’s agent, and the seller’s to decide if we should agree to making any repairs….because the seller doesn’t have time to get contractors over to their house to get bids.  Signing a blank check doesn’t typically work for most seller’s….they have a bottom line.

When a list of repairs gets sent over with an amendment to the contract…..I like to go over the request with the seller’s and also get bids on the repairs requested….before the seller’s sign an amendment agreeing to repairs.  Thankfully, I work with my husband, David, Broker Associate, who is familiar with repair costs and can estimate what repairs might be…..but those are estimates….not actual bids so we are “guessing” when it comes to repairs that might be required on expensive items like air conditioner repairs.  A repair to an air conditioner or heater can be under $100….or it could be a total replacement….sometimes costly over $10,000 or more.

So buyers….when you are “active option” in Texas (have a signed contract and have an option period to do inspections) PLEASE get the inspection done as quickly as possible AND submit an amendment if you want to negotiate repairs.  Keep in mind…some seller’s wont agree to making any repairs.  Some will…..but most want to know how much the repair is going to cost.

One thing I am certain of………if you wait until the last few days of your option period…you may find the seller unwilling to make any repairs.  Many folks don’t like agreeing to a “blank” check…and that is what you are requesting them to do when you wait until the final days of your option period to submit an amendment requesting repairs.

Top 3 Reasons to Stage Your Home

we-can-do-it

  1.  It will sell for MORE!
  2. It will sell FASTER!
  3. Your online photos will stand out!

89% of all buyers start their search online!  Don’t you want more money?

Ideas to make 2016 fabulous!

Everyone is talking about getting organized this year and how it will help you…..so at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 I did an experiment based on all the advise I was getting.

Pantry:  take everything out.  Look at dates on food….if it’s old, throw it away.  If it’s been hidden and you know you bought it months ago….ask yourself if you really will eat it.  Maybe those canned green beans will never have an appeal to your appetite….if so, toss.  All the diet foods you bought last January- toss.   Look at your spices….replace if they are also old.  Spices are meant to make food taste better and old spices won’t do the trick.    Decide what needs to be replaced…..don’t replace the canned green beans if you never ate the last can.  Promise yourself not to buy the next diet fad that you will never eat.

Refrigerator:  Take everything out.  Look at dates.  Throw out old food and only put back food that is edible and you like to eat.  Wipe down everything with a clean sponge….if necessary, soak it in hot water with dish soap to get all the grime off the inside drawers and walls.  Doesn’t it look fabulous now?  Don’t forget to attack the freezer.  I found food I had forgotten we had.  Amazing….a meal can be made for “free” since I bought it less than 90 days ago and forgot about it.  I even found deer sausage that was given as a gift over the holidays and hubby forgot to tell me….what a great Italian Soup I made with it!  In the future be sure to date any leftovers you freeze and write what it is…so it doesn’t become the “mystery” food I threw away.

Under the kitchen sink:  if you have cleaning products you never use: toss.  Throw out all the old sponges but one.  Make a list if you are missing items.  If you have 3 cans of Pledge, great.  Quit buying them until you are down to one or none.

Under the bathroom sinks:  take it all out.  If you haven’t used that makeup in the last 2 months, toss.  If you have 14 combs, keep 2.  If you have 3 bottles of mouth wash, great….start using them and don’t buy anymore until you are down to half of one.  Shampoo you bought but didn’t like….toss.  Hairspray you didn’t like…toss.  Just because you spent a lot of money on it doesn’t mean if it doesn’t work, keep it.  Same goes for all those miracle creams….use them within the next 2 months or toss….if you did use them and found they didn’t work…it’s okay to throw them away.  Don’t keep them unless they worked!  Mascara is only good for 90 days…last January’s mascara won’t look good this January!

Master closet:  Try on everything.  If it doesn’t look good, donate.  If it is torn, fix it this week or throw away.  6 pairs of brown shoes….3 are worn out.  Toss the beat up ones….keep the good ones.  If the shoes hurt your feet, donate.  Put the shoes you don’t wear on a regular basis aside and commit to wearing each one in January….if they hurt, donate.  Purge, purge, purge.  It is great to know that everything in your closet fits, looks great, is in good condition, is clean and ready to put on.  What  a great way to begin the day!  Talk about eliminating time in the morning…this is a “no-brainer”!

Hall closet or coat closet:  If the coat doesn’t fit, donate.  If it doesn’t look good, donate.  If it is beat up, throw away.  Now is the time to get rid of cold weather items…in a few months, not many folks will need them (in Texas, anyway)!

Utility room:  take everything out….if  you haven’t used it in the last 6 months….throw it away.  Only keep what you use.  Throw away the socks that are missing their mates!

If you can just attack the above I can promise you this:  You will feel FANTASTIC.  I wake up and can walk in my closet and know anything I pick out will look great!  I can make a meal without wondering what we have to eat.  I can go to the grocery store and know what I need to buy.  I open the pantry and, frankly, am so proud of myself it makes me feel good!  Just attacking the few items above make a huge difference in how your day begins and ends!  Yes…it was time consuming…..but worth it?  Yes….yes, yes!

 

 

 

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

Baking cookies will make any house smell like home over the holidays….and instead of just cutting up premade cookies why not bake something that tastes good also?  I have used this recipe with great success….enjoy!

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

2 cups butter

4 cups flour

2 tsp soda

2 cups sugar

5 cups blended oatmeal

24 oz. chocolate chips

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 8 oz. dark chocolate bar

grated 4 eggs

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)-Optional

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Measure oatmeal and then blend in a blender or food processor to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Add chocolate chips, shaved chocolate, nuts and stir until combined. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Staging to Sell

Sometimes….we aren’t the first agents to list a house.  If the house didn’t sell….they need us to do a little more.  We like to combine decorating skills with psychology in order to make a home more appealing to buyers.

Staging is not decorating. Staging is about preparing a house so a buyer can walk in and imagine themselves living there.

When working with clients we depersonalize and declutter, removing personal knickknacks and sometimes photos so potential buyers won’t feel as if they are intruding in someone else’s space. We also sometimes add artwork, colorful pillows, furnishings and plants.

The results are worth the effort, according to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. The group’s website, stagedhomes.com, says 95 percent of staged houses sell in 11 days and bring 17 percent more than unstaged homes.

Even in a hot real estate market, where everyone has heard stories about houses selling so fast that they are only on the market a day or two, staging helps a home compete for attention.

Sometimes we have to recommend painting a room or two if the colors are too personal.

At least nine out of 10 shoppers begin their home search online. Photos of a staged home are more likely to catch a buyer’s interest.

Making a good impression on the web is crucial.

Barking Dogs

Hate your neighbors barking dog? This birdhouse just needs a battery….it has sold many homes for us that couldn’t be sold in the past because of loud barking dogs. Set it out in an area that faces the barking dogs….they will quit completely and you’ll get your home sold! It doesn’t hurt the dog….just trains them to quit barking. Best product!

Bird House for Barking Dogs

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