Get Your House Ready to Show to Buyers

stagingA house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.

From experience, REALTORS® also know that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has probably also been well maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:

  • how much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
  • exterior and curb appeal
  • interior appeal

Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal.

How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?

In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive polishes and touch-ups to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.

Your REALTOR® is familiar with buyers’ expectations in your neighborhood and can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

Maximizing Exterior and Curb Appeal

When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home’s exterior. If the outside, or “curb appeal” looks good, people will more than likely want to see what’s on the inside.

Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal to buyers:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered.
  • Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns and flowerbeds.
  • Be sure your front door area has a “Welcome” feeling.
  • Paint the front door.
  • In spring and summer, add a couple of pots of showy annuals near your front entrance.
  • In snowy areas, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • Check foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and deterioration, and fix any problem areas.
  • Remove and repaint any peeling paint on doors and windows.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • Reseal old asphalt.
  • Keep the garage door closed.
  • Store RVs and old cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.

Maximizing Interior Appeal

You want your home to look as spacious, bright and clean as possible. Also the home should look neutral – without a lot of your personal and sentimental objects – so buyers can begin to imagine living there.

Here are some tips to enhance your home’s interior appeal to buyers:

  • Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning and remove all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms actually rent storage garages and move half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
  • Use a professional cleaning service every few weeks while the house is on the market.
  • Remove the less frequently used, and even daily-used items from kitchen counters, closets, basement and attic to make these areas more inviting.
  • Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter.
  • Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms: they should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free.
  • Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.
  • Buy showy new towels for the bathroom, and put them out only for showings.
  • Spruce up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by installing new curtains and cabinet knobs, or applying a fresh coat of neutral paint.
  • Clean walls and doors of smudges and scuff marks.
  • If necessary, repaint dingy, soiled or strongly-colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
  • Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement, and fix any problem areas.
  • Seal basement walls if there are any signs of dampness or leakage.
  • Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles.
  • Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
  • Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.

Should you remodel to sell?

How does your home match up with what buyers are looking for?  Most buyers like sparkling new kitchens and baths.  So you’re thinking, “A-HA!  I should put in a new kitchen — granite, travertine, stainless steel!”  If that’s what you want to live in — go ahead.  The sky’s the limit.  But if you’re planning to recoup your investment  with an improved sale price right away, you might want to think again.  Based on this information, repair or replace the roof and polish up those hardwood floors.2015_remodeling_report_crj_values

This doesn’t mean that you should put your house on the market without having done any maintenance for the last 30 years and expect an average or better price.  Leaks, dripping faucets, peeling paint and cracked windows will turn off the average buyer in a big hurry. You will get low-ball offers from vendors looking to flip the house.  They’ll offer you about 60-70% of the going rate for you home.  If that’s what you want to to accept, call me.  I’ve got several of those investors just waiting for your home to come along.

Foreclosures, REOs and ShortSales — Oh My!

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a yellow brick road to follow through this maze of investment opportunities? With foreclosures, bank-owned properties and short sales at a record high, it can be very confusing! Let me give you my perspective as your local economist and real estate expert.  
You need a guide to navigate your way to the best possible investment opportunities to achieve your financial goals. Call me today to show you how I have helped other investors like you get started.

When should you buy a home?

When should  you buy a home?  When you want one and can afford one. Interest rates are at historic lows.  While prices seem to go up and down a bit, the historic truth is that all Real Estate goes up over the long term.  The sooner you buy – the better. So called “timing the market,”  to find the absolute best time to buy really doesn’t work.  Look at some very prominent “Deal Makers” who have declared bankruptcy more than once.

couple buying home

Moving Day!

The home buying process might seem a little confusing if you haven’t gone through it before. However, it can actually be a lot easier than you think, particularly if you’re working with someone who’s got a lot of experience helping people with their real estate needs. I’ve been helping first-time home buyers realize their dreams for years. I can speed up your home search, help arrange financing, help you negotiate a good deal, and make sure everything’s signed, sealed and delivered on the closing date.

So if you’re interested in finding out more, please call or email me any time.

How long is Escrow?

First off, what is escrow?  The escrow company is the neutral third party in a Real Estate Purchase.  They hold money and executed documents in trust until they are ready to transfer or record.

In California the escrow process usually takes about 30 days.  I’ve seen some as quick as 10 days and right now I’m involved in a sale that is taking 60 days.  Typically the buyer asks for the time period in the Residential Purchase agreement (RPA) that the lender and buyer’s agent have advised that this transaction will take.  The seller can counter a different time period.  After any negotiation both parties agree on a time period and the clock starts ticking.

On day one the contract is agreed on and signed by all parties. The listing agent, usually, will contact the escrow company, receive a number and “open escrow.”  Once escrow is open the buyer has until the end of day three to get the deposit into escrow. Deposit amount is usually one to three percent of the purchase price. The most convenient way is to use a wire transfer from the buyer’s bank directly in the the escrow trust account.  The buyer will be provided with instruction on how to do this.  Or if preferred the buyer or agent may deliver a check to escrow.

Then the buyer begins inspections, appraisal and any other due diligence as well as making a formal loan application. At day 17 (or another mutually agreed on day) the buyer is expected to release all contingencies but the loan.  At day 21 (or another mutually agreed on day) the buyer releases the loan contingency.  This is the buyer’s commitment to go forward and complete the purchase.  If the buyer does not complete the purchase after giving up contingencies, there may be penalties including the forfeiture of the earnest money or deposit.

The lender will order loan documents to be delivered to escrow and make an appointment with the buyer to come in and sign with a notary present.  If necessary the buyer may sign with a mobile notary at home or their work location.  The seller will have already signed the Grant Deed over to the buyer sometime during the escrow period and escrow will deliver for recording at the appropriate time to record the new title in the buyer’s name.

The buyer is entitled to a final walkthrough a  few days before closing to see if the property is in substantially the same condition as originally and to inspect repairs, if any.

One to two business days after signing and the deposit of any additional funds (downpayment, closing costs) from the buyer the loan will fund and then in LA county the title is recorded the following day.  Other counties may have different timelines.  Recording is usually day 30 of escrow.

The date the buyer takes possession of their new home is negotiated in the RPA.  Generally it’s the end of the day on the day of recording, but depending on the needs of both parties it may be a few days after the recording.  Your realtor may use terms something like COE plus 3.  That means Close of Escrow plus an additional three days.

After recording the escrow officer will balance the file and deliver the proceeds to the seller.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed escrow.


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