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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!

Fall Home Maintenance

FireplaceWhile your summer fun may be coming to an end, fall is the time of cooler temps and the smell of wood burning fires and warm apple cider. Now that the temperatures are lower, it’s time to take a look around your home and see what needs to be done.

One of the most important actions you should take is cleaning your gutters. Gutters, because they are up high, are easy to ignore. They get filled with dirt and debris from trees, plants and animals, and when they’re clogged, they can cause all kinds of problems. If your gutters get clogged, they can freeze, which can damage them and make them pull away from the house. They can cause damage to the roof and even the foundation, when water doesn’t run through them correctly.

If you want to clean your gutters yourself, it’s not that difficult to do. But you’ll have to climb a ladder and spend a good bit of time up there. Climbing ladders can be dangerous, too. Always make sure you have someone around to hold the ladder and call 911 if you fall. If you don’t want the hassle, you can always hire a pro. According to HomeAdvisor, the average price to clean gutters and downspouts in San Antonio is $126 to $244, and takes one to two days.

While you’re up there checking out your gutters, inspect your roof. Do you have any loose or missing shingles? These can lead to roof leaks in the future, which is bad news for your home. If you have roof damage, call a roofing company to come check it out. They may be able to repair it without adding a whole new roof.

Don’t forget about the inside of your home, too. You need to change the filter on your heating and air conditioning system, if you haven’t lately. It will work more efficiently, and your air will be cleaner. It will also help extend the life of your system.

Call a heating and air conditioning professional to inspect your system and clean it if necessary. This will ensure that your furnace will run smoothly and efficiently over the winter, and your air conditioner will be ready to keep you cool next summer. An inspection doesn’t cost much and can save you a lot more money in the long run.

For safety’s sake, don’t forget to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These may not prevent a fire, but they will alert you and your family so you can leave the home. The widespread use of these little tools has made fire deaths much lower in the United States. Smoke detectors save lives.

Check for peeling paint around the home. On the outside, paint protects your siding from the weather, and if it peels, it leaves the wood open to damaging moisture. Left unpainted, it can cause major destruction to your siding. On the interior, it’s unsightly, and fall is the best time to paint. The weather is cooler and drier, making optimal conditions for adding a fresh coat.

If you enjoy cuddling up by the fire, don’t neglect your fireplace. Get a pro to come by and clean out your chimney and check for holes. Keeping your chimney clean will prevent fires in your home, which can cause significant damage. Putting a cap on your chimney will prevent animals and debris from getting into your fireplace, too.

With just a little bit of observation and maintenance, your home can be a safe, clean and healthy place to spend the winter, and you’ll prevent more costly repairs down the road.

This article was written for me by Paul Denikin….thanks Paul!  Great advice!

 

Here are the words and the links that correspond to the advice from Paul:
Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/en/blaze-bonfire-burn-burnt-camp-2178749/
cleaning your gutters – http://www.planitdiy.com/how-to/lawn-garden/how-to-clean-your-gutters/
According to Home Advisor – https://homeadvisor.com/tloc/San-Antonio-TX/Gutters-Downspouts-Clean/
inspect your roof – https://www.doityourself.com/stry/inspecting-your-roof
inspect – https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/8-early-fall-home-maintenance-tips-that-are-so-easy_us_57a4e438e4b0ccb02372396b
peeling paint – https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/10-fall-home-maintenance-musts-1676#.Wd-4nWhSxRY
prevent fires – http://montanahomesteader.com/5-tips-prevent-chimney-fire/

 

Why NOW Is The BEST Time To Sell

Why now could be better for you to sell your home  than in spring?

  1. Competition is greater in the spring….more houses are on the market in the spring.  In the fall and winter months…less houses are for sale.   Making your house more likely to sell.

2.  The buyers looking in the fall and winter months are serious buyers.  They need a              house…..they are out with their prequalification letters already in hand and are                  serious about moving.  In spring lots of buyers go out to look at their neighbors                  house or get decorating ideas.  They really aren’t buying….they are gathering                        information for when they are ready to buy….next year….the year after.  When a                Realtor shows your home in the fall or winter months they are showing a serious                buyer your home…making it worth your time to keep the house clean and leave for            the showing.

3.  Interest rates are predicted to go up.  It is possible to have less buyers that are                     qualified to buy your house next year because the interest rate priced them out of             the  market.   For every 1% increase in interest rates their buying power decreases             by approximately 10 percent.

If you need help deciding if now is the right time to sell, just call me at 210-273-6161.  I can help you stage your home and price it to get it SOLD.

A Realtor’s Job

What’s this Realtor really doing all day?

30 years ago most real estate agents were woman, over 50, with husbands that had great jobs…. as long as they made enough money to pay for their lunches and real estate expenses…and were home with dinner prepared most evenings….things went fine.  The office kept half their commission…but in exchange for half their commission the office did all of the marketing for homes for sale, paid for all the business cards, paid for any folders and flyers that went with the agent when the agent was being interviewed for a possible new house listing….the Realtors expense was:  gas, a nice car, lunch money in case they had to pay for lunch while showing homes and their real estate dues to the local board of Realtors.

Today it’s a lot different.  But a few agents still think the above is still happening and it’s hurting the industry…..as the old saying goes….”One bad apple spoils them all”.

I meet a lot of people who tell me when they retire they are going to become an agent and housewives who tell me they love to look at pretty homes so once the littlest is in school they are going to become a Realtor….and sometimes I have time to tell them what I really do…and sometimes I just move on….let them learn the hard way.

A Realtor that makes enough money to pay for the expenses of their job works somewhere between 50 and 60 hours a week.  I’ve had many years of working 70 to 80 hours a week.  2017 finds me somewhere between 50 and 60 hours a week.  I sometimes feel guilty……I am not used to having any free time….which is why I have several blogs and am constantly researching new ways to advertise the homes I have for sale.D&L4

If you’re used to working 50 plus hours….this is the job for you.

A Realtor can’t commit to picking the kids up from school or watching every baseball game your son is in…..some say they can….but let’s discuss this.  If you have buyers in from out of town to look for a house….count on being with them from 9 in the morning to sometimes 9 at night.  Your commitment to your family can’t be while a buyer flew in town for their home search…..they will find another agent if it is.

Dinner every night ready for your family?  Don’t count on it.  The phone call you get a 4:30 asking to see the house you just listed means you go open that house.  Sometimes you don’t even have time to put up what you got out to cook.

Weekends off?  Ha, ha, ha.  That’s when sellers are off work and can meet with you to discuss what they need to do to get their home on the market.  Weekends are also when buyers are off work and can go see that home.

So… based on that….you think you can be a Realtor working just nights and weekends?   Ha, ha, ha.  Monday through Friday I am at my computer placing my ads, researching the next place to drop an ad, analyzing the different programs I pay for to make sure everything is working properly, negotiating offers, calling sellers to tell them what I am doing for them, calling buyers to tell them what I have found for them, picking up signs, getting keys, putting out signs, designing ads, talking to title companies, checking to see that the settlement statement is correct, going to closings, calling lenders for updates, calling agents for updates, cleaning my yard signs, making sure I have enough yard signs, designing new marketing material….and more.

If you want to be a great agent (meaning; make enough money to justify working 50 and 60 hours a week) you need the following;

  1. You have to be internet savvy and like to learn new programs on your computer…not games…software.  The internet has changed this game and I am constantly changing with it.
  2. You have to be available Monday through Friday 8 to 5 and after 5 and on the weekends…..and be happy about it.
  3. You should have good grammar and great writing skills so you can write ads for yourself and homes you are selling.
  4. You have to know how to take great photos and have a great camera.   Sellers want to see their homes on the market and may not want to wait for your photographer to show up a few days later and then send over photos a few days after that.  And you can’t put a house in the computer for sale without great photos…shame on you if you use your cell phone.
  5. You have to be willing to spend hours researching neighborhoods, viewing homes to see what the competition is for your sellers and learning everything you can about the area you sell in…on a weekly basis.  Things change quickly….and you need to know what the latest change is.
  6. You have to be a great negotiator….or you will never get the SOLD sign in the ground or through inspections and appraisals so you get a paycheck.
  7. You have to be able to pay for all the expenses the broker used to pay for….you still need a nice car with a big enough trunk for several signs, money for lunch or dinner if you are caught away from your desk or have buyers in from out of town, money for your board dues, your Realtor.com dues, your website expenses, your FACEBOOK ads, your camera, your printer, ink for your printer, folders for buyers and sellers, business cards, name badges, signs, sign riders, ………..Count on spending $50,000 a year before you make a dime.  And that doesn’t include self employment taxes or the additional expense I pay to have private health insurance.

If you’re willing to do all the above…..I welcome you to our field.

 

Walk AWAY from that house….oh, wait…RUN!

Sometimes it’s best to walk away from a house purchase…..even after spending money on an option fee and inspections.

In fact, that’s why we have an option period in Texas….so you can have professionals go out and inspect the house to see if it’s worth owning.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to have our buyers sign a “Termination of Contract”…..even though it wasn’t our buyers asking to sign it.

Our first warning should have been when the seller’s son-in-law called to let us know that all communication for the purchase would be directly to him….bypassing the agent on the Multiple Listing Service .  We knew a “For Sale By Owner” sign was on the property….but had also seen the property on the local MLS.  We checked our MLS….still showing as “active” but in remarks…it asked us to send all correspondence to the seller.  Turns out…not really the seller, the sellers son in law.

Our buyers hired a home inspector and also had a septic company go out to the property to make sure the septic system was in working condition.  A number of items were brought up by the home inspector that were items of concern…so our buyers asked for a few repairs.  The seller’s son (not a Realtor, nor the owner) immediately responded that no repairs would be made.  Our buyers decided to move forward…they really wanted the house.

Closing was to occur on October 5th and the offer was contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home.  The sellers son in law called on September 11th asking for our buyers to remove the contingency.  He also stated that if they didn’t release the seller from selling the house to them he would do his best to make sure the buyer’s didn’t ever get the  earnest money back.  His words (in WRITING) followed with an ugly email:  There is no “good faith” on this side because we feel we have been misled (?),  and mistreated (?), the appraisal has not even been completed, we want to be released from this contract immediately.  If your clients hold us up any longer and will not release us until 10/5 and do not close as promised and signed they can kiss the $1K earnest money goodbye, I will tie it up indefinitely.  Sign the release….get your $1K refunded.

The buyers, after reading the email, decided to forget about the purchase.  They don’t qualify without the proceeds from their home…..which is why it was contingent on their sale.  They had put new windows in their house, new siding outside, had it painted inside and out, replaced the fence….all done and ready to put on the market for a very quick sale at $200,000 on Sept 12th.  The house they were buying…..$310,000 and needed lots of updating. We have since learned the sellers daughter called the lender and told her they had another offer…but it wasn’t as good as this offer.  She also told the lender that the Mom, the seller, had borrowed money to fix up the new house she had bought in a new city and needed the funds from the sale to pay the borrowed money back.

I can’t help but believe if we had been able to work with another agent on this sale…..instead of the seller’s son in law, a hot head, we might have been able to close on this home.  We wouldn’t have seen an email that was so “heated” from the son-in-law…..we would have either got a call from the Realtor or an email asking how the process was going for putting the home on the market and getting it sold.   In San Antonio…homes that are fixed up and ready for quick move in for $200,000 or under FLY off the market….especially in North Central San Antonio with great schools and in a great neighborhood.  We probably would close sooner than  the next buyer…..and it appears, from the disclosed call to the lender, that the seller would have netted more from our sale than the next sale.  So…did the seller borrow the money from the son-in-law and he couldn’t afford to risk it not being back in his account by October 5th?  We’ll never know…..but I still believe you hire Realtors to get your home SOLD and keep the emotions out of the transaction….and everyone wins because they understand what is happening, when it is happening and why it is happening.  Without the Realtors you have this situation….a seller who has no clue what really is happening and why….and a seller that will end up with less money in her pocket because her spokesperson was a hot headed relative that didn’t know real estate.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Craziness

Begin your day with 3 things in mind:

  1. Humility….be courteous and respectful to others
  2. Service…..do something positive
  3. Mission……give or serve

Once again….craziness on Facebook, TV, news streams…..OMG I hate it.  I am going to follow the advice I got yesterday at church….yes, at church.  The Pastor obviously had a “heads up from Jesus” that I’d need this advice this week.

 

How to be a GREAT Dad

One of the best compliments I have ever gotten was when my friend, Martha, told me how lucky I was to have a Dad like mine.

My Dad taught Martha how to swim in our pool.  Martha was 19….and grew up without a father or a father figure.  My Dad was in the backyard one afternoon during my senior year in high school and overheard Martha saying she wished she could swim.  His response:  “You can…..let me help you”.  A few hours later….Martha swam across the pool on her own.  He was the kind of guy who liked helping people.  And he began by helping his own kids.  My advise to all Dads who want to be a “GREAT” Dad?

  1. Tell your children they can be anything they want to grow up to be…..Astronaut, Fireman, owner of a company, teacher, artist…whatever.  All they have to do is want to be that and work hard to become that person.  I remember my Dad telling me and my brothers that any one of us could someday be the President of the United States (hey, it used to be a great job) if that’s what we wanted to be.  I remember my brothers laughing….and saying….”Lisa’s a girl…she can’t be President”……and my Dad’s response:  “She can be President  if that’s what she decides she wants to be”.
  2. Make sure you tell your kids you love them….even when they screw up.  I admit…I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life.  My Dad was always there to tell me he was sorry I had made the mistake….and always there to try to help me figure out how I could fix my mistake.  Sometimes the mistakes I made weren’t fixable….and during those times he held my hand and just listened….cause that’s what I needed at that time…and that’s what your kids will need to you do.  They WILL make mistakes….just be there for them and sometimes….all you can do is listen.
  3. My Dad taught us to always tell the truth….no matter how hard it was.  And he always told us the truth…no matter how hard it was to hear.
  4. My Dad taught me that sometimes it is easier to lose than to win….because sometimes winning doesn’t mean you really won.  You will know when these situations come up.
  5. My Dad NEVER screamed at my Mom or hit her….your children follow your example.
  6. My Dad went to church and made us go with them.  Knowing there is a God comes in handy when your kids make mistakes.

Today I will go to visit my Dad and put flowers on his columbarium with my Mom, brother and brother’s family.  I miss him….He died two years ago today.  But because he was a GREAT Dad….I am a better person.

Easy Decorating Tips for Your New Home

Hate to put a hole in that wall and then stand back and realize the painting should have been a little higher or lower?  Ever buy a dining room table and get it home to find it is too large/small or just doesn’t look right?  Ask A Designer tips from House and Home suggest:

Art should hang 60 to 66 inches from the floor to the center of the art work.

Position the bottom of a fixture 32 inches to 36 inches from the top of the table.

Chair rails should be mounted 30 inches from the floor.

And choosing a dining room table that fits?

Allow 24 inches of space for each person seated at the table, leave at least 2 to 3 feet between the backs of the chairs and a wall so the chair can be comfortably moved in and out.

A round table is good for square rooms.  36 inches wide to seat 4, 54 inches wide to seat 6.

A rectangle table is good for most rooms.  A 40 x 72 inch table will seat 6.  A 44 x 80 inch table will seat 8.

An oval table is good for wide rooms.  47 x 78 will seat six guests.

 

 

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.

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