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Archive for the 'Good Real Estate Information' Category
Sqiggles and Squares – What on Earth is a QR Code??
March 16th, 2011
The future of home shopping has arrived! Imagine driving up to a home for sale, pulling in the driveway and being able to determine the price and check out photos of the inside without leaving the comfort of your car!
The funny looking symbol to the right and those attached to our listing signs are QR Codes or Quick Response Codes. And they do just that – provide a quick response to your inquiry about the home in one quick QR scan. Try scanning the QR Code with your smart phone and check out our listing. Coincidently, it’s for sale and is a great horse farm!
Just as bar codes replaced key punching in the grocery store check out, QR Codes will speed the process of looking at real estate. All you have to do is download a QR Code scanner to your smart phone and you are ready to do some serious house hunting!
Naturally, REALTORS play a big part in this. We provide the photos, prices and home details the QR Code interprets. And our phone numbers and email addresses are listed so we will be able to provide professional advice on your home hunting decision.
Three “Hotspots” that sell Homes
February 21st, 2011
I have been getting a lot of questions recently from sellers or possible home sellers about how to get their home ready to sell. My advice is to concentrate on the Three “Hotspots” that most buyers concentrate on:
#1 Entry and the walk in
You’ve all heard that you have 30 seconds to make a first impression – well, so does your home. The walk to the front door – the first steps into the home set the tone for the rest of the tour. That means even though you don’t use your front door – get out the broom (or shovel if it’s winter) clean and de-clutter your walk up and entry way, paint or clean your front door and make sure your entryway is light and airy and puts a good foot forward for what the buyer is going to see next.
This is the room the buyers will be spending the most time in – and even if they are not gourmet cooks – they will want an updated kitchen. For some this means replacing countertops and cupboards – but for most it can be as simple as painting the cupboards, putting on new hardware and giving it a good cleaning.
#3 Master Bathroom (or Main Bath if only one)
Clean! Clean! Clean! – This room needs to have all clutter put away and be spic and span – Paint if needed and update with some inexpensive hardware and lighting. Pop for some new towels and new shower curtain to make everything look “put together.”
Many of my clients ask me to stop by their homes as much as a year before they put them on the market to walk through and give them advise on what they should do to get it ready for sale. This is a great idea – then you can be ready to sell when the market is ready! Also, if you are thinking ahead and know you need to do some upgrading before you sell – do it sooner rather than later – then you can enjoy the upgrades before you sell.
Let me know some of the things you did to get your home ready to sell – I’ll share them in my blog.
SURPRISE!…there really is a “Spring Market”
February 19th, 2011
I’ve blogged before about how homes sell pretty much all year round – and that there is not necessarily a Spring Market anymore (see the previous blog).
For today I’ve changed my mind. We are in the midst of the first thaw of the season. The birdies are singing away – the snow is melting and we can even see a little grass peeking out in a few places. This is the first day since January that I’ve gone outside without my boots on and I didn’t zip up my coat when I went out for lunch (don’t tell my Mom).
So far this week we are working with offers on 4 properties. We already have 2 of them accepted, a counter offer out on one and are waiting for the others to come back to us. We have not seen this much activity in one week since the snows began our winter weather.
I think the very smell of a “spring like” day, the feel of the sun coming through the windows and actually seeing it melt the snow – all affect us in ways we don’t even realize. It makes us feel like getting out and breaking away from what we’ve been doing to take on a new adventure. For many that new adventure is buying or selling their house – or “Making a Move”.
We like this! If you’ve had Cabin Fever this winter -make sure you contact us for great information on financing (here’s a mortgage calculator), home selection and some great values in the marketplace!
What is a “Spring Market?” …Do you need to hear the birdies singing?
February 7th, 2011
Here is the question I receive from a lot of sellers before they put their home on the market – “Should I wait until the SPRING MARKET to put my home up for sale…and if so, “when is the SPRING MARKET”?
In the “good ole days” a Spring Market was just what you would expect. People put their homes up for sale in April, May and June – expecting them to sell during that time so everyone could move during the summertime – mainly so the kids would be ready to go to their new schools by September.
Those “good ole days” are gone. As Realtors – we see houses selling every month of the year – depending more on the job market, the economy and the interest rates than if Johnny or Julie is going to be going to a new school in the fall. Here are a few reasons why that is so….
#1 Relocation has a new philosophy
Years ago the companies relocating their employees paid close attention to the” kids moving in the summer” rule. What many of these companies found out (along with a number of studies) is that kids did much better in a school move if they moved during the year when they were the new kid in school. Schools changed many of their policies and assigned a new student to a “mentor” or “buddy” to help them through the transition. If they moved during the summer they were just another student when they started in the fall.
#2 Price, Interest Rates & Market Conditions Rule - Not always the time of the year
In the past few years the market has been more sensitive to prices, where interest rates are and how people are feeling about the economy than if it’s a Spring Market or not. Interestingly, Oct. of 2009 had the same number of sales as April of 2010 (1050+) in the Grand Rapids market.
#3 – So when IS a Spring Market, if there is one?
I will say our phones do start ringing here in Grand Rapids, Michigan when the sun comes out after a long few weeks or months of clouds, cold and snow. The first really good thaw that happens probably heightens everyone’s awareness that winter might be over and for folks that have cabin fever – the thought of moving crosses their mind.
I’ve always said a Spring Market was in the mind of the public and was determined by the weather – not the calendar!. What do you think?
Selling your home in the Winter – Three Easy Tips
January 21st, 2011
Ah, the crisp gorgeous snow is falling and you need or want to sell your home. Don’t be discouraged because of the cold, the snow covering your beautiful garden, or a driveway full of snow. Here are three easy tips to help you get ready:
1. Summer Photos.
Find some summer photos of your yard to leave on the dining room table or countertops. Hopefully you have photos of your gardens, trees with leaves, green grass and pool open with water in it (if this applies to you). These photos can even include your family members enjoying the summer weather showing off that great yard.
2. Keep your snow maintenance up.
Make sure you have a plow service hired to keep your driveway, sidewalks and front entry completely clear of snow and ice. If you can’t find a plow service that will take care of your front porch and steps – buy a shovel and some salt to keep it clear yourself. You want any buyer to drive up and not have any concerns about getting into the driveway and a pleasant walk up the sidewalk and into your home. This first look must be positive to encourage an offer.
3. Keep it warm inside.
Have a fire burning in the fireplace (if you have one) – keep the heat turned up (there’s nothing more chilling to a sale than an home that “feels” cold to the buyer.) This is a great time of the year to make a house a “home” – something cozy and warm that makes the buyer feel like buying it. Light some candles, microwave some cinnamon sticks and water for the smell of Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls baking – so that even if the snow if flying your home calls out to the buyers in a warm way.
Many homes today are vacant and winterized – it’s tough to warm these up to a buyer. If you do own a home that is vacant – you need to make a conscious decision to keep the heat on and keep it warm for a buyer or to winterize it to minimize any possible pipes freezing. This is a whole other discussion! Let me know what you think makes the most sense for a seller to do.
January 16th, 2011
As a Realtor who has been in “the real estate business” going on 40 years – I really do think I’ve seen it all.
- 18 – 20% interest rates (hint: we did a lot of “seller financing”)
- 3 “recessions” (we still kept the real estate market rolling with new families needing homes, retirees downsizing and families needing a larger home for their new additions – plus lots of relocating jobs both in and out)
- Various Environmental Scares: Asbestos, Toxic Insulation, Radon, Lead Based Paint, nitrates (each has their specific solutions which we have had to work through in the marketplace – clear heads always prevail).
Now our marketplace is faced with moving forward and beyond the era of foreclosures and short sales – even though we must work with those at a reduced number over the next few years to ever get back to a “normal” marketplace. Each hurdle I’ve overcome in the marketplace (see above) gave me new insights into overcoming barriers to sales – be it in the marketplace, the home itself, the financing – really learning what it takes to help buyers get their dream home and the sellers to sell their homes.
I’m looking forward to a very positive 2011 – a new normal that keeps the needs of the buyers and sellers in the forefront of any transaction! Let us know what you see as challenges in this real estate marketplace for 2011 and keep us in mind for any moves you might be making.
Three Reasons for Staying on the Market over the Holidays
November 29th, 2010
1. Less Competition
Many people will be taking their homes OFF the market over the holidays (for various reasons, but mostly because they don’t want to be inconvenienced) – so if you are selling – you will have fewer competitors. That’s a good thing! The fewer competitors the more likely people will choose your home.
2. Your Home Shows Better
The goal in the marketplace is to have a buyer fall in love with your home and buy it. The holidays are when homes look the best – the tree is lit, the decorations and stocking hung, and generally speaking homes sparkle with holiday cheer.
3. Interest Rates Are Still Historically Low
Even though they have ticked up about a ½% lately (4.5% last week) – our marketplace has not seen such low interest rates in decades. This means buyers can buy more house today than they could years ago and affordability is at an all time high. Most economists predict interest rates rising through the year next year – so buyers are very active today and through the end of the year in the marketplace.
I’d love to hear some of your stories about selling over the holidays or some suggestions for sellers as they hit this Holiday Season with their homes for sale.
Merry Christmas – Happy New Year – Happy home selling!
Viewing Homes – The New Normal – On-Line or In Person???
October 27th, 2010
The Internet has revolutionized a lot of things: think – talking to your friends – communicating with your relatives – setting up appointments with your doctor – shopping…. it goes on and on!
Real Estate sales are not exempt from the Internet revolution – and the way folks select homes to see and buy is changing along with everything else. I will tell you I am a bit biased because I still believe a buyer of a home needs to walk up to the door – walk in – and feel a WOW!!! The actual buying process is more than an Internet look. It’s the sight, the smell and the feel that makes a house a home.
That being said – the way most people arrive at the buying decision today is vastly different than even five years ago. Today, most folks start their searches on the Internet – not the newspaper or driving around looking for signs or working with a Realtor like they did in the past.
With the advent of high resolution photography – inexpensive digital and video cameras – a buyer can cruise the Internet and see floor plans, room decoration from many angles, photos of the neighborhood and just about anything else about a property. This is good news and bad news all rolled into one. Good news everything is so transparent – bad news that buyers often rely on just photographs or videos to make the decision whether or not to go see the home in person.
I often find out of town buyers who are only in town for a weekend have already made up their minds on what homes they want to see and those they don’t want to see. Most of these decisions are being made on the basis of what they saw on the Internet. Time and again, I see folks reject some perfectly good homes because the photos were either unavailable (shame on you agents who don’t take photos or hire a photographer – what an injustice to your sellers!) or were bad photos.
In the past, a buyer had to go into a home to rule it out – today they don’t need to go that far. Buyers are taking their first tour of a house on-line. By the time an actual showing is set up on a house – it could be considered a second showing since it has already been viewed on-line.
Sellers: Make sure your agent has great photos of your home.
Buyers: Don’t rule out a house just because the photos are unavailable – or you don’t like the decor – work with your agent to make sure you’re seeing the cream of the crop – not dumping something because it isn’t photogenic.
Do you leave yourself “Open” to theft when you have an Open House??
August 20th, 2010
Sellers Be Attentive! There are loads of really good things about Open Houses – like they might get your house sold – or the neighbor down the street, who has a brother moving to town, might stop by to see it and refer it to her brother.
It is a perfect time to finally get your home organized and it’s a forced way of washing those windows you have been putting off for months. Some buyers feel much less obligated if they can find a nice neutral time to view a home – so an Open House is a perfect time for them to slip through.
But before you have an Open House, make sure you have an open discussion with your agent about the things that will keep you and your home out of trouble. Over the past years, we have had really very little theft from Open Houses – which is a good thing. However, there is no sense in tempting fate – so put away your valuables, jewelry and any small items that could be stuck in someone’s pocket – better safe than sorry.
The other thing most folks don’t think about – and something that is becoming more and more prevalent – is the theft of prescription drugs. The most innocent looking people are doing it. I heard of a little gray-haired lady who asked to use the bathroom and was stealing drugs from the medicine cabinet! Again, don’t tempt fate. Put away all your prescription drugs before an open house.
It actually is pretty rare anything goes missing from an open house – so the odds are pretty good to continue to have Open Houses – just be smart about getting ready for it.
3 Reasons why your home is not selling
August 13th, 2010
In today’s BUYER’S MARKET homes are sitting on the market for record numbers of days. Even those everyone says will sell immediately are languishing. After 40 years of selling real estate in Grand Rapids, I believe there are only 3 reasons why a home does not sell. These reasons were valid in 1971 when I started in the business and are just as true today.
Top on the list is your price. The more properties on the market – the more competition you have for the buyers in the marketplace – and price is the only part of the equation many folks even look at. Buyers always want a “Deal.” This was true in 1971 and remains true today.
Everybody wants a bargain. In today’s marketplace, the media has hyped the foreclosures and short sales as to make everyone feel they are sure to get a bargain – so don’t be surprised if any offer you get is a “low ball” offer.
All areas and marketplaces are different so make sure you listen closely to a professional REALTOR who knows your marketplace – and price your home accordingly. If you are interviewing more than one agent – don’t necessarily go with the one who comes in with the highest price for you – go with the person who has the most experience in your neighborhood and knows the marketplace backwards and forward. Study the comparable homes and know the market – then price yourself below your competitors.
2. PROPERTY CONDITION
Houses, which are updated with the latest paint colors, countertops, and hardware and show great – will be the first homes to sell. Having dated wallpaper, woodwork, hardware and counter tops stop a buyers from either making an offer or offering a good price. Have your agent walk through your home to assist you in determining what you need to do to get it ready for the market. If you don’t have the money to update – think about offering a price below market or offering a decorating allowance so they can do the work themselves. Consider hiring a stager to have the place look like a “million bucks”
Our old school real estate mantra used to be “Location Location Location” – even though other things come into play in today’s marketplace – Location could be a key reason why your home is not selling. The good news for those of you who are in a good location is that it will be a real plus when selling.
For those of you who are next to a power line, a railroad track or under the flight path of your local airport – you will need to discount the comparable cost of your home to below others that are not affected by these challenges. You can always turn the tables and aggressively look for someone who shares a love for trains or planes and market directly to them – but keep in mind that re-sale is on the mind of every buyer out there today.
Check with us today if you need any real estate counseling on Price, Property Condition or Location…we’re happy to help.