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“You never get a second chance at a first impression.”  We’ve all heard this expression before.  And now, while you are preparing your house to sell, it should not be far from your mind. 

 

While logical factors such as price and location narrow the pool of houses a potential buyer will look at, the ultimate decision to buy a particular house is fuelled by a mixture of logic and emotion.  And emotion often wins out.  The same might be said for the process of selling a home.  For this reason, Real Estate Agents, when they talk to you about buying real estate, will refer to your purchase as a “home.”  When discussing the sale of your current home, however, an agent will refer to it as the “house.”  This is a conscious choice.  The agent knows that buying a house is often an emotional decision, while, when selling a house, emotion should be separated from the process. 

 

Buyers are searching for a “home”—a place in which they will feel comfortable, secure, and happy, a place in which they can imagine settling down and raising their family.  As a seller, your goal is to cultivate these feelings through the property you’re selling.  Look at your house as a marketable commodity.  A buyer’s emotional response is triggered early, so you want to ensure you have done everything you can to encourage a positive response to your house from the outset.  Within minutes—even seconds—of pulling into your driveway, buyers have formed an impression that they will carry with them through the rest of the showing, and beyond.  Keep in mind, this impression will not only influence whether or not they make an offer, but also what they consider to be the value of the property.    

 

If you’ve ever visited model homes, you’re familiar with effective presentation styles.  Have you ever walked into one of these homes and immediately begun taking stock, planning how to get your home to look that good?  Well, now is the time to take some of these steps.  Of course, there are ways to achieve the same effect in your own home without incurring model home costs.   

 

When homes create this immediate type of emotional appeal, they tend to sell quickly—and for more money.  Use the following step-by-step guide to get your house into selling shape before you put the property on the market, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful sale!

 

1.      Depersonalize.

 

This should be one of your first steps when you begin preparing your house to sell.  Over the years, a home inevitably becomes tattooed with the owners’ lives, covered with touches that have made it that special place for you.  At this point, however, you want buyers to recognize it as a property they could make into their unique place.  When a homebuyer walks into a room and sees these personalizing touches—such as photos on the walls or trophy collections—their ability to picture their own lives in this room is jarred, impairing a positive emotional response.  So, your first step will be to remove all the family photos, the trophies, collectible items, and souvenirs.  Pack them all together, so you’ll have everything you need at your disposal when it comes time to personalize your new home. For the time being, rent a storage space and keep these items there.  Do not simply transfer these items to another place in your house.  Do not hoard them away in a closet, basement, attic, or garage, as the next step in preparing your home is to minimize clutter—and these areas of your house will all be targeted.

 

2.      Remove all clutter.

 

The next step on the list is to purge your house of the excess items that have accumulated over the years.  This is the hardest part for many people, as they have an emotional investment in many of these things.  When you have lived in a house for several years, a build-up of personal effects occurs that is often so gradual that you don’t notice the space is becoming cluttered.  If you need to, bring in an objective friend to help point out areas that could stand to be cleared.  Try to stand back yourself and see your house as a buyer might.  Survey shelves, countertops, drawers, closets, the basement—all places where clutter often accumulates—to determine what needs to go.  Use a system to help you decide:  get rid of all items, for example, you haven’t used in the past five years, and pack up everything that you haven’t used in the past year.  Although getting rid of some things might be hard, try to do it without conscience or remorse.  You’ll be forced to go through this process anyway when you move, and with each box you eliminate, your storage space—and the room in general—begins to look larger.  We’ve broken down the process into specific areas of your house to help you concentrate your efforts:

 

Kitchen:

The kitchen is an ideal place to begin, as it’s easy to spot and eliminate the type of clutter that tends to accumulate here.  Homebuyers will open your drawers and cabinets as they’ll want to check if there will be enough room for their own belongings.  If the drawers appear cluttered and crowded, this will give them the impression there is not enough space.  

 

·                     First of all, remove everything from the counters, even the toaster (the toaster can be stored in a cabinet, and brought out when needed).

·                     Clean out all the cabinets and drawers.  Put aside all of the dishes, pots and pans that you rarely use, then box them and put them in the storage unit you have rented (again, not in the basement or a closet).

·                     If you, like many people, have a “junk drawer,” clear this out.

·                     Get rid of the food items in the pantry that you don’t use.  Begin to use up existing food—let what you have on your shelves dictate your menus from now on.

·                     Remove all extra cleaning supplies from the shelves beneath the sink.  Make sure this area is as empty as possible.  You should thoroughly clean this spot as well, and check for any water stains that might indicate leaking pipes.  Buyers will look in most cabinets, and will notice any telltale signs of damage.

 

Closets:

·               Go through all clothes and shoes.  If you don’t wear something anymore, get rid of it.  We all have those clothes, too, that we wear only once in awhile, but can’t bear to give away.  Box these items and keep them in the storage unit for a few months. 

·               Go through all other personal items in the closet.  Be ruthless.  Weed out everything you don’t absolutely need.

·               Remove any unsightly boxes from the back of the closet.  Put them in storage if need be.  Get everything off the floor.  Closets should look as though they have enough room to hold additional items.

 

Furniture:

·               You may want to tour a few model homes in order to gauge the type of

furniture chosen by design teams to create a spacious, yet comfortable atmosphere.  Note how that furniture is arranged to cultivate a certain feeling.

·               After having armed yourself with some ideas, stand back and look at each

of your rooms.  What will you need to remove?  Remember, most homes contain too much furniture for showings.  These are items that you’ve grown comfortable with and that have become incorporated into your everyday routine.  However, each room should offer a sense of spaciousness, so some furniture will likely need to be placed in storage.

 

Storage Areas:

·               Basements, garages, attics, and sheds:  these are the “junkyard” areas of

any given home.  It is possible to arrange simple clutter into a certain order, but junk is sent packing to these often-hidden rooms.  First, determine which of these boxes and items you actually need.  Can some of it be sent to the dump once and for all?

·               Hold a Garage Sale.  You’ve heard the saying, “One person’s trash is

another’s treasure.”  Let these items go to a better home.

·               Transfer some items to the rental storage unit.  You’ll want to clear the

storage areas in your house as much as possible, in order for them to appear spacious to potential home-buyers.  Buyers want the reassurance that their own excess belongings will find places for storage in their new home.

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The process of buying or selling a house seems to involve a million details.  It is important that you educate yourself on as many parts of this process as you can—this knowledge could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in the long-run.  The legal issues involved in the process are often particularly intricate, ranging from matters of common knowledge to subtle details that might escape the untrained eye.  Any of these issues, if not handled properly, could develop into larger problems 

 

With so many  legal issues to consider, your first step should be to seek out experienced professionals to help educate you and represent your best legal interests.  Begin with an experienced real estate agent, who can help guide you through the initial hoops.  S/he should also be able to point you in the direction of a reputable local real estate lawyer to assist you in all legal matters involved in the purchase or sale of your house.

 

While there are countless legal details involved in a real estate transaction, some seem to pose larger problems than others.  We’ve outlined two legal clauses that are commonly misunderstood and may cost you money if not worded correctly.  Handle these carefully and you will be on track to a successful sale or purchase!

 

  1. Home Inspection Clause

 

Some real estate transactions have been sabotaged due to the wording of the home inspection clause.  This clause originally allowed that the buyer has the right to withdraw their offer if the home inspection yielded any undesirable results.  However, this allowance was known to backfire, as Buyers took advantage of it, using some non-issue stated in the inspection as an excuse for having changed their minds.  Of course, this was unfair to the Sellers, as they’d poured time and money into what they believed was a sure deal.  Not only might they have missed out on other offers in the interim, but their house might also now be unfairly considered a “problem home.”  Additionally, they’d now have to shoulder the costs of continuing to market the property.  All of this adds up. 

 

In order to remedy this potential problem, the clause should indicate that the seller has the option of repairing any problems the home inspection might point to.  With this slight change in the clause, both buyer and seller are protected.

 

To ensure this clause is fair from one side of the bargain to the other, work closely with a lawyer experienced in these transactions and all the nuances that may affect the outcome for you.

 

  1. Survey Clause

 

It is the right of a home buyer to add a survey clause to the real estate contract on the home they’d like to purchase.  If you are on the selling end of the contract, be aware.  If you have added an addition or a pool to your property since the last survey was produced, your survey will no longer be considered up-to-date and the Buyer may request that a new one be drawn up—the cost of which you will incur.  The price of this process will run anywhere from $700 to $1000. 

 

Your real estate agent has the responsibility to provide you with the most recent survey of your home.  It is then the Buyer’s right to decide if it is acceptable.  An experienced agent should offer you reliable counsel if you encounter an issue with this clause, but it is advisable to talk to your lawyer if you’re unsure at all of the potential ramifications involved.  Remember, the wording of this clause could cost or save you thousands of dollars.   

 

 

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Once you’ve minimized the clutter in your home, clearing out excess items and furniture, you’ll be ready to concentrate on repairs, cleaning, and decoration.  Your goal is to get each room looking its sharpest and most fresh—the better your house looks, the greater your chances that it will sell quickly and for top dollar.  Concentrate on the following areas to get your home into selling shape.

           

Walls and Ceiling:

 

Examine all the ceilings and walls for water stains or dirt.  We don’t often look closely at the walls that surround us, so be careful—there could be residual stains from leaks that have long been fixed, or an accumulation of dirt in an area you hadn’t noticed.

 

Painting the walls may be the best investment you can make when preparing your home to sell.  You can do it yourself, and relatively inexpensively.  Remember, the colours you choose should appeal to the widest range of buyers, not just to your own personal taste.  A shade of off-white is the best bet for most rooms, as it makes the space appear larger and bright.

 

Carpet and Flooring:

 

Does your carpet appear old, or worn in areas?  Is it an outdated colour or pattern?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you should consider replacing it.  You can find replacement carpeting that is relatively inexpensive.  And always opt for neutral colours.

 

Any visibly broken floor tiles should be replaced.  But make sure you don’t spend too much on these replacements.  The goal isn’t to re-vamp the entire home, but, rather, to avoid causing any negative impressions due to noticeable damage or wear around the house.

 

Doors and Windows:

 

Check the entire house for any cracked or chipped window panes.  If they are damaged in any way, replace them.  Test all windows, as well, to ensure they open and close easily.  Try spraying WD40 on any with which you’re having trouble.  This should loosen them up.   

 

The same can be done with sticking or creaking doors.  A shot of WD40 on the hinges should make the creak disappear.  Check to make sure each door knob turns smoothly and polish it to gleaming.

 

Odour Check:

 

Begin by airing out the house.  Chances are, you’d be the last person to notice any strange or unpleasant smell that may be immediately apparent to visitors.

 

If you smoke indoors, you’ll want to minimize the smell before you show your home.  Take your cigarettes outside for a period of time before you begin showing.  Ozone sprays also help eliminate those lingering odours without leaving a masking, perfumed smell.

 

Be careful if you have a pet.  You may have become used to the particular smell of your cat or dog.  Make sure litter boxes are kept clean.  Keep your dog outdoors as much as possible.  You may want to intermittently sprinkle your carpets with carpet freshener as well. 

 

Plumbing and Fixtures:

 

All sink fixtures should look shiny and fresh.  Buy new ones if scrubbing fails to get them into shape.  Replacing them can be done fairly easily and inexpensively.  Check to make sure all hot and cold faucets are easy to turn and that none of the faucets leaks.  If you do find a leaking faucet, change the washer.  Again, this is an easy and inexpensive procedure. 

 

Finally, check the water pressure of each faucet, and look for any stains on the porcelain of the sinks or tubs.

 

Once you’ve covered all these bases, your house will be in prime shape for its time on the market.  Congratulations—you’re ready to begin showing!

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The asking prices of most homes on the market indicate the current state of the market, and usually mirror the prices for which other similar homes in the area have recently sold.  In deciding upon a selling price, a home-seller must establish a balance between the desire to draw the highest offer and finding a price that will be reasonable enough to attract an appropriate pool of prospects, and competitive offers.  While most selling agents counsel their clients to consider this equation when pricing their home, keep in mind that some homes are not properly priced. 

 

It’s important to educate yourself about the current market before approaching the purchase of a home.  The market will always influence a property’s value, regardless of the state of a home, or its desirability.  Here are the types of market conditions and how they may affect you:

 

  1. Seller’s Market:

 

A seller’s market is considered a “hot” market.  This type of market is created when demand is greater than supply—that is, when the number of buyers exceeds the number of homes on the market.  As a result, these homes usually sell very quickly, and there are often multiple offers.  As a buyer, you need to consider that many homes will sell above the asking price; in other words, you may have less room to negotiate, and may encounter competing offers.  Though most buyers want to get a home for the lowest price possible, reducing your offer could mean opening the door for another buyer instead.

 

  1. Buyer’s Market:

 

A buyer’s market is a slower market.  This type of market occurs when supply is greater than demand, the number of homes exceeding the number of buyers.  Properties are more likely to stay on the market for a longer period of time.  Fewer offers will come in, and with less frequency.  Prices may even decline during this period.  As a buyer, you will have more selection and flexibility in terms of negotiating toward a lower price.  Even if your initial offered price is too low, the seller will be more likely to come back with a counter-offer, so you can begin the process of negotiation. 

 

  1. Balanced Market:

 

In a balanced market, supply equals demand, the number of homes on the market roughly equal to the number of buyers.  When a market is balanced there aren’t any concrete rules guiding whether you should make an offer at the higher end of your range, or the lower end.  Prices will be stable, and homes will sell within a reasonable period of time.  You will have a decent number of homes to choose from, and may encounter some competition for offers on the home of your choice, or none at all.

 

Before you make an offer to purchase a home, establish whether the current market is a Buyer’s, Seller’s, or Balanced market.  Also, evaluate the price similar properties have sold for in the area, and the length of time these properties spent on the market.  Determine how the home you’re considering compares to these other sales.  Is this one over-priced, under-priced, or a fair price?  By establishing this information prior to making an offer, you will be in a position to negotiate the best price for the home and be prepared for any additional opportunities that may come your way. 

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Jeff Cairncross

CONTACT ME NOW!

Cell 619-884-9115

Office 858-272-9696

Email Jeff@cairnx.com

DRE# 665053

RE/MAX Coastal Properties

4444 Mission Blvd.

San Diego,CA

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