Real Estate Tips and Trends

We will update this area regularly be adding new information. If you have suggestions or ideas that you would like to see added, we encourage you to contact us and we will evaluate the information for inclusion. Thank you and we look forward from hearing from you.

Dec. 22, 2017

Staged For Success

Home staging offers a distinct advantage for sellers: a speedy sale.

 

Sixty-two percent of sellers’ agents believe staging a home cuts down the time it spends on-market, with the majority believing it “greatly” reduces the window, according to the new 2017 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents believe staging a home helps buyers envision themselves living in it, and 40 percent believe it prompts buyers who first saw the home online to visit it in person.

Staging can also have a positive effect on home value. Thirty-one percent of buyers’ agents and 29 percent of sellers’ agents believe it adds anywhere from 1 to 5 percent, while 13 percent of buyers’ agents believe 6 to 10 percent and 21 percent of sellers’ agents believe 8 to 10 percent. The cost of staging is often fronted by the seller or sellers’ agent.

Buyers’ agents caution, however, that staging is only beneficial if the home is staged to appeal to general, not specific, preferences. Most buyers’ and sellers’ agents believe the living room is a key space to stage, as well as the kitchen, the master bedroom and the yard. They also believe decluttering, depersonalizing and a deep clean—beyond staging—are essential for a show-ready home.

Thirty-eight percent of sellers’ agents stage all of their listings before placing them on the market, while 14 percent only stage listings that require it. A near-even 37 percent do not stage their listings at all.

“REALTORS® know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR’s most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are willing to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.” 

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Getting your property in "Show-Ready" shape is one of the many pre-marketing services we provide to our clients and is included in our fees, which are paid at closing. For more information, Call/Text Jennie (925) 997-1493 or email michelle@savyagent.com.

 

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Posted in Staging
Dec. 18, 2017

Selling Advice for Parents

Selling your house is a big undertaking whether you’re single or have 3 kids under 3, but the time and effort you make to prepare it will pay back in cold hard cash. Today I’ve got home selling advice for all the parents out there:

Identifying Your Ideal Buyer

One of the most important discussions you need to have with your REALTOR before you list your house for sale is about your ideal Buyer. If your ideal Buyer has children (for example, you’re in a good school district, have a finished basement, have 3 or more bedrooms and a kid-friendly backyard), then by all means, showcasing the playroom and your daughter’s doll collection is A-OK. But if your target Buyer is single or a couple, then recognize that kid rooms will be a turn-off. Remember the cardinal rule of selling: you want prospective Buyers to see themselves living in your space. I can’t tell you how many condos I’ve shown to single clients who got freaked out by the crib and changing table in the den.

Toys and Kids Stuff

While you’re taking the time to de-clutter your space, don’t forget that no Buyer wants to see disorganized piles of toys and books, random Legos and your kids artwork on the refrigerator. Take the time to select a few toys for your child to play with during the listing period, and put the rest in storage. Reduce the amount of baby and kid stuff to the bare essentials and empty that diaper genie!

Showings

We always suggest our Seller clients leave their house or condo during a showing because it’s uncomfortable for a Buyer to go through a house while the Seller is home (and the last thing you want a Buyer to feel while in your house is uncomfortable)! That’s even more important if you have kids. I’ll never forget the time a naked 2-year old ran around us during the entire showing, or the time a 6 year-old gave us repeated “gifts” of fruit in tissue paper (that the parents made us open!). Take the kids for a walk or send them to a sitter’s.

Showing Times

One of the easiest ways to sell your home quickly and for the most amount of money is to make it easy for people to see it – and that means making it available to see when people are not at work. Too often, I see Sellers restricting showings to before 6:30 or 7 PM because the kids go to bed. When you do that, you eliminate 75% of the Buyers. If your kids are early to bed, consider taking them to Grandma’s during the first week of the listing.

There’s no question that having kids complicates the sale of a house. All the more reason to make sure you’re priced right and working with an agent who’ll be able to guide you through the process to sell your home quickly. As always, we’d be happy to chat about your home and a selling plan that takes into account the realities of your life.

Posted in Moving, Seller Tips
Dec. 18, 2017

What To Do With All That Stuff?

If you’re in the process of buying or selling a condo or house in the Bay Area, you’re likely taking the opportunity to purge: that lamp that doesn’t match your new couch, the lidless Tupperware, the random textiles you brought back from your trip to Asia ten years ago and those clothes that you were sure you’d eventually fit back into. You don’t have to be a diagnosed hoarder to collect “stuff” – and moving is the perfect time to get rid of it once and for all. Here are our favorite places to help you part ways with the stuff you don’t want to pack:

 

Where to Donate Unwanted Items in the Bay Area

Goodwill

Goodwill takes clothing, household items, collectibles, textiles, books and more. Goodwill uses the money raised from re-selling your donations to help create jobs for people in our community including the young, the old, new Canadians and people with disabilities. You can find Goodwill locations throughout the city.

Habitat for Humanity Restores

You can donate construction supplies, furnishings, home decor, cabinetry and appliances at one of the various Restores in the Bay Area. Money raised through re-selling goes directly to fund new home projects. Click here to find a Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Freecycle

Freecycle is an online community that allows people to re-home stuff they don’t want.

Garbage, Shmarbage

1-800 Got Junk

If you have a lot of stuff, get in touch with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They take all the stuff each city doesn’t want to take, from mattresses and furniture, to old appliances, construction debris and more. They provide same-day service and a 2-hour pick-up window (Rogers could learn a thing or two from them). Costs vary depending on what you have, but they’re an honest bunch (at least in our experience).

The Good ‘ol Curb

OK, I’m sure we’re not really supposed to do this, but try putting some random item on your front lawn with a free sign and watch how fast it disappears. It’s like people are just randomly driving up and down your streets looking for free stuff. If it doesn’t work, you’ll have to drag it back in and all your neighbors will know the random things you own, but hey, it can be quick and almost painless (and you’ll be surprised at what people will take).

Selling Your Unwanted Items

Garage Sales

If you don’t want to host and advertise your own garage sale, consider joining friends or convince your neighbors to do a street sale. You won’t likely make a ton of money, but it can be a fun way to meet your neighbors and get of all that stuff.

Craigslist and Kijiji

I love selling stuff I don’t want on Craigslist and Kijiji. You’ll be inundated with people wanting whatever crap you’re trying to get rid of, so don’t post your phone number on the ad (trust me, you’ll regret it). Expect that people will want to haggle and many won’t show up to actually pick up their item.

Really want to get rid of something FAST? Post the item in the “Free” section. If you’ve already left it on your front lawn, start the post with “CURB ALERT”…then start your stopwatch. Again, don’t ever post your phone number as we’ve sometimes received such a flood of people desperate for that thing you wanted to throw away it filled our inboxes instantly.

Facebook

One of the fastest ways to part with a couch or dining table you don’t want is to simply post it on Facebook. You’ll be amazed at how fast your friends want your crap.

 

This list of where to donate/sell and get rid of your unwanted items is by no means all-inclusive. If you have a place that you love to donate to, please share it in the comments below.

So go ahead and seize the opportunity to make a fresh start in your new home.

Posted in Moving, Seller Tips
Dec. 18, 2017

The 30-Day Guide to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Thinking of Selling Your Home? 
Here’s our 30-day plan to get your house ready for sale:

Day 1: Change light bulbs and update light fixtures. It’s easy to forget about all the bulbs that have burned out over the years, but you want your home to be as bright as possible. Lighting makes an incredible difference to how a home looks to potential Buyers. If you have dated light fixtures (it’s OK, a lot of us do), take a quick trip to IKEA or Home Depot and pick up some modern ones.

Day 2: Prep the paperwork: Buyers and agents are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now: utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.

Day 3: Get some boxes and duct tape. A big part of the adventure you’re about to embark on involves reducing clutter, and while Costco and the LCBO might be cheap options for boxes, it sure isn’t convenient. An investment under $100 will get you proper packing supplies and reduce your stress. If you’re going to be moving a lot of stuff out of your house for the sale, consider renting a POD storage locker – you fill up at your house, it gets carted away, stored and delivered to your new home when you move in!

Day 4: Make an extra set of keys. Prospective Buyers and their agents will need to access your home, so you’ll need an extra set of keys. It’s worth the $3 not to have to open the lockbox every time you want to come home.

Day 5: Tackle the bathrooms. Remove all the toiletries you have on display (nobody wants to know you use Head & Shoulders).  Invest in some new white towels (and no, you don’t get to use them). Visit Winners or Homesense for affordable accessories: soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc. If your toilet seat, shower curtain or bath matt are gross (be honest with yourself), replace them. Consider replacing the toilet paper holder and towel rack/hooks too.

Day 6: Spruce up the kitchen. The kitchen is one of the rooms Buyers are most attracted to so if you’re looking to skip a room, this shouldn’t be it. Remove your blender/George Foreman Grill/Kitchen Aid mixer/toaster/bread machine from the counters – you want the counters to be as clear as possible. Clean inside all the cupboards (and yes, I mean remove everything and wipe them out). Don’t cram all your dishes and food back in – again, you want to convey to Buyers that your kitchen has enough storage for the Buyer’s stuff. Clean inside the fridge (and remove the magnets, photos, and reminders). Turn on your self-cleaning oven (probably for the first time). Consider investing in some fresh flowers and a beautiful bowl with some fresh fruit in it.

Day 7: Next up: the bedrooms. The bedrooms should be inviting, and that means more cleaning and decluttering and investing in a few props. If you don’t already have one, invest in a neutral-colored duvet cover and some new fancy pillows. Straighten the bookshelves. Remove personal photos, knick-knacks, and personal grooming products. Clean out the closets. Consider getting an area rug if the floors are cold. If you’ve jammed in a dresser or armoire that doesn’t really fit into the space (condo owners, I’m looking at you), consider storing it offsite. If you’ve converted two of your three bedrooms into offices, convert at least one of them back to a bedroom.

Day 8: Tackle the living room. Clean the sofa and chairs and invest in some new throw pillows. Consider getting an area rug to bring the room together. Hide the magazine rack and all the clutter that has accumulated. Hide the wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.

Day 9: Make your dining room look like a place someone might actually want to eat in. Remove the kids’ homework and the piles of stuff that have accumulated on the dining room table. Clean up the hutch. If your dining chairs have seen better days, consider getting them reupholstered. Invest in a new tablecloth to hide an old table.

Day 10: De-clutter, organize and clean your home. If your home is anything like ours, this is going to take more than one day. You’ll need to invest the time to make it look as spacious and clean as possible. 

Day 11: Tackle what you can’t see: closets and storage areas. Much as I’d love to say that you can cram all the stuff you don’t want on display in your closets, the truth of the matter is that Buyers will open your closets. They’ll look in your cupboards. And they’ll judge you. The last thing you want is for Buyers to think there isn’t enough storage in your home, so take the time to pack away what you don’t need in the immediate future.

Day 12: Store vs. donate vs. throw away. It’s a pain (and expensive) to store all the stuff you don’t really need. Check out this blog we wrote with the advice of where to throw out/donate/sell all the stuff you’ve collected.

Day 13: The entrance. Remember that most Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it, so what they experience at the entrance is CRITICAL. You want your entrance to be clean, de-cluttered and inviting. And no, you won’t really wear all your shoes and coats while your house or condo is for sale, so be disciplined and store things away.  If you don’t have a hall closet, don’t pile 15 coats on a coat rack – that’s just drawing attention to your lack of a closet.

Day 14: Get rid of all the things that make your home yours. Ouch, I know it hurts to read that. You want your house or condo to appeal to as many Buyers as possible, and that will only happen if they can picture their own stuff in your house. Get rid of all the family photos, the collections and the souvenirs from your trip to Asia. Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a Buyer. If what you see helps people get to know you as you, remove it.

Day 15: Hire a REALTOR If you haven’t already hired someone, today is the day. A REALTOR will likely need two weeks to schedule and prepare the marketing. An experienced listing agent will also guide you through the home preparation and staging process, so you don’t have to do it alone.

Day 16: Paint touch-ups and re-painting A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home. Bold colors are bound to be a turn-off to some Buyers, so to appeal to the most people possible take the time to re-paint that red bedroom and blue bathroom. (Tip: light colors will help small rooms look bigger). Don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings – they might need some paint too.

Day 17: Make a list of all the little stuff that you’ve been avoiding repairing including the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc. and get it done once and for all. If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a handyman to take care of it (we know some good ones, we can help).

Day 18: Get the windows cleaned. I know, you probably don’t even think about cleaning your windows, but rain and construction can really make your windows dirty. We know a few great Professional Window Cleaners for affordable window cleaning.

Day 19: The front yard Curb appeal matters and will significantly impact people’s first impression of your house. Stand on your street and take in your front yard: what do you see? At minimum, clean the scuff marks off the front door and touch-up the chipped paint or give it a fresh coat. And if your front door has seen better days, consider investing in a new one. If you have a front porch, make it look inviting (and not just a receptacle for more of your stuff). Invest in some seasonal plants. Clean up the garden. A lot of Buyers will see your home at night, so make sure that your outdoor lighting is showing off your home.

Day 20: The backyard What you can accomplish in the backyard will, of course, depend on what time of year you sell. If you’re selling in the spring/summer: clean up the gardens, trim the trees, cut the grass, stain the deck and clean the patio furniture and BBQ. If it’s winter: do your best to make it look presentable. If you have a garage: tidy it up and fix any peeling paint and the sagging roof.

Day 21: Get the carpets cleaned. Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them steam cleaned (or do it yourself). You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Day 22: Don’t forget about the floors. You’ll need more than a Swiffer to get into all the corners and cracks. If your floors are scratched, there are some great products out there to make them look almost-brand-new.

Day 23: The walls and doors. If your walls and doors are scuffed, buy some Magic Erasers and go to town. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. If your art needs an update, now’s the time to do it too.

Day 24: The final clean. By now you’re probably exhausted..sorry about that. While you can do this final step yourself, we always like to bring in professional cleaners who will make sure to clean all the spots you don’t: the baseboards, inside the lights, the fridge, etc. We think this step is so important that we actually pay for it for our Sellers.

Day 25: Make plans for the dog/cat/ferret/hedgehog. I love my dogs too, but prospective Buyers won’t appreciate the barking/jumping/submissive peeing. Make a plan to get your pets out of the house: Doggie daycare? Grandma and Grandpa? Multiple walks?

Day 26: Make plans for the kids and the kids stuff. No Buyer wants to look at all your kids’ toys, finger painting works of art or dirty diapers, so put it all away and make a plan to keep it concealed. Make sure to check out our blog on Selling Advice for Parents for more tips.

Day 27: Make your house smell good. If you’re a dog owner, wash any couches, beds, and surfaces where the dogs sleep. You may not smell him anymore, but Buyers will. Tuck the litter box away (and clean it twice a day while your home is on the market). Use Febreeze on EVERYTHING. Consider lighting some candles (but avoid strong air fresheners).

Day 28: Get a pre-listing home inspection (for houses) or order the status certificate (for condos). It’s not fun to find out what’s wrong with your house or condo at the negotiating table, so arm yourself with the information before you list your home. You can either fix the problems before you list your home, or factor it into your asking price and expectations. (we pay for home inspections and status certificates for our Sellers, ’cause we’re awesome like that).

Day 29: Photography. When your house or condo is de-cluttered, cleaned and ready for prime time, it’s time for the photographer to work his magic. This will happen a few days before you list your home for sale, and may include a virtual tour or video. Make sure to tell your REALTOR the times when the light is best – that’ll make a big difference in the photos.

Day 30: The final once-over. You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time to step back and admire your work. How does it look? Do you see anything that might distract or turn off a Buyer? Take one final walk through all the rooms and adjust as necessary.

Intimidated? Don’t be. We’ve helped clients accomplish everything on this list in as little as four days. If you’re in the market to sell, the sooner you hire a REALTOR to help, the better.

Posted in HomeOwner, Seller Tips
July 27, 2017

Five Money-Saving Green Upgrades

Money Saving Tips - Going GreenGoing green is great for the environment, but that's not the only benefit. When you make green upgrades in your home, it can also lead to some major savings.

    1. Solar panels: The upfront cost is big, but the long-term savings are huge. Solar panels will cost several thousand dollars to install, but ongoing maintenance costs are very low, and a typical system could save you hundreds of dollars per year. You can even sell your surplus electricity.
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Posted in HomeOwner, Remodeling
July 27, 2017

Move-In Priority Tasks

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you're probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

Change the locks

Even if you're promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It's worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

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Posted in Moving
July 27, 2017

From Decorating to Staging

StagingOnce you've decided to put your home on the market, you're looking to sell quickly for the best possible price. One tactic that can help sell your home faster is staging. At first, staging may seem like a real estate term that doesn't actually mean anything. Isn't staging just decorating? Well, not exactly…

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Posted in Staging
July 27, 2017

Avoid These two big Mortgage Mistakes

Mortage Mistakes

We all know that searching for and viewing potential homes is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

But if you don't pay attention to the details, your mortgage can end up dragging down the enjoyment of your new home and cause some major regrets. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure that you love your mortgage terms as much as your new home.

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Posted in Mortgage Tips
July 27, 2017

What Affects Property Values

Property ValuesSome the features that increase property values are obvious-like a remodeled bathroom, a modern kitchen, or a sought-after neighborhood. But here are a few features and circumstances you have not have realized can affect property values.

  1. The neighbors: Not every neighborhood or community has an HOA that can keep the neighbors from going overboard with decorations or neglecting to care for their home. Homes adjacent to crazy neighbors can potentially be undervalued.

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Posted in Buyer Tips, Seller Tips
July 27, 2017

Hidden Homeowner Costs

Hidden Homeowner CostsBudgeting for buying a home can be difficult enough when you're just weighing mortgage options and a purchase price. But there are many other factors that go into the cost of home ownership. Some of them are one-time expenses that you'll pay during the home buying process, while others will be recurring costs for as long as you own the home.

Closing costs

There are several smaller fees that add up to a rather large sum when you're going through the closing process-loan fees, attorney fees, underwriting fees, and more. They typically add up to 2-5% of the purchase price. For a $300,000 home-roughly the national median-that's in the neighborhood of $10,000, so be sure to budget for it.

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Posted in Buyer Tips, HomeOwner