The Benefits of Home Staging

Property staging is “intelligent merchandising.”  This is the process of analyzing the property, maximizing the “equity” and minimizing the excuses a buyer may use to discount or eliminate the property from their A-list.  It’s not decorating, but rather presenting the home in such a way that emphasizes and reveals the benefits (equities) of the property without distractions.

Over 96% of Brokers say that buyers are affected by home staging

staging, Winston Downs

Bedroom before and after staging

Staged properties are twice as likely to receive full price or more

kitchen, staging, winston downs

Kitchen before and after staging

Staged properties sell 76% faster 

living room, staging, winston downs

Living room before and after staging

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Choosing Paint Colors in Winston Downs

Choosing Paint Colors in Winston Downs

Why paint your house?

Seller’s will often ask a broker what should be done to prepare their home to sell.  A good place to start is with “street appeal”: the first impression of your home as the buyer drives up.  Yes, I’ve had buyers who wouldn’t get out of the car . . . don’t be that house, even if you’re leaving some things “as is” in other parts of the house.

Exterior painting isn’t cheap to do right – the best painters spend a lot of time preparing (scraping, caulking, etc.) before applying paint. But of all the things you can do to “stage” your home, it may have the best dollar-for-dollar payback on the sale.  Plus, there’s that incalculable element of making a good impression and getting the buyer inside — at which point they may be more forgiving of other shortcomings (condition-wise) on the inside.

What should you think about when choosing exterior paint colors?

Look at the rest of the neighborhood.  Yes, you can and should make an individual statement with your colors, but also try and conform to the look of the subdivision.

Exterior paint, Winston DownsYou want to look like your home “fits in” with the others; drive around and look for some that have done a good job with exterior paint.  Choose a scheme that blends with the neighborhood or stands out in a subtle, unobtrusive manner.

Look at your neighbor’s house on both sides of you.  Choose colors that don’t clash with your neighbor.

exterior paint, winston downsThink about your existing landscaping: do you have trees that change color?  You can also consider flowering shrubs and flower gardens when selecting colors for compatibility. Big trees?  We have them in our neighborhood, so remember that shade from the trees will tend to make colors appear darker.

A 2-Color scheme is usually best

Winston Downs, house paintIn Winston Downs, most of the homes are ranches built in the 1950’s to 1960’s.  This particular mid-century architecture features simple and clean lines without much ornamentation.  When painting, the main architectural “details” to consider are gutters & downspouts, window and shutters (if any), doors and siding.

For the majority of homes, a 2-color scheme works just fine:  one color for the siding and another for the trim.  Notice on the house to the left, the soffits (the part underneath the roof overhang) are painted the same as the gutters.  A safe and effective approach to color placement is to select two tints or shades from the same color strip a few shades apart. Either the lighter or the darker shade could be used for the body and the opposite for the trim. A contrasting accent color could punctuate the door. Lighter colors on a porch will make a home feel more “approachable” and welcoming.

winston downs, ranchesIf there are details that you want to emphasize, lighter colors will make them stand out.  You can define the entryway by using color as a “Welcome” sign, but do this carefully (notice the house at “508”  has a green door).

Windows are an opportunity: they give character to a house. Outlining them can give crispness to the color scheme – if that’s what you think it needs.  Try not to “accent” unattractive elements such as gutters, downspouts, a protruding garage door, air conditioning units, unevenly placed windows, etc.

winston downs, house paintConsider the colors that can’t change (exterior brick for example, roofing shingles, and stone accents) and use these elements as color resources because there are numerous shades and hues in building materials. A charcoal gray shingle for example could have flecks of gray-green or gray blue that could be found on a paint color strip or incorporated into the color scheme.

Look at your color samples outdoors, at various angles and different times of the day. Better yet, buy small quantities of your colors and put some paint on the back of the house where body, trim and accent colors can be viewed together.  You want to see what they look like at different times of day.

Light or Dark colors?

winston downs, ranchLight colors appear larger;  Dark colors look smaller.  A large home on a small lot painted white or a light color – for instance, a tinted neutral – can make the house seem larger and the lot seem smaller. Dark colors might make a home look smaller but more substantial.

Light or white is a good choice for windowsills for reflection of the sun’s heat and light. Light colors advance in space; dark colors recede. If a house is placed far away from the curb, painting it a light color will visually bring it forward.

winston downs, exterior paintIn the past, light colors were perceived to be safe choices. However, as consumers have gained more confidence with color, and as a broader spectrum of colors have been made available for exterior use, those “traditional” approaches are changing.  Today you see lots of tinted neutrals that work well with landscaping and building materials, as well as midtone values of neutrals.  The homes pictured on this page are all in Winston Downs, and good examples of these principles of color selection and application.

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How accurate is the Zillow “Zestimate”?

How accurate is the Zillow “Zestimate”?

Have you ever wondered how accurate the Zillow “Zestimate” really is? Many times when I’m working with buyers or sellers I find that they are using Zillow to compare the “Zestimate” with either my opinion of value or with the asking price of a particular home. Perfectly normal: most of my clients are smart people, and this information is free and easily available.

So, just how accurate is the Zillow “Zestimate” anyway? I actually just found out recently how you can determine the accuracy of Zillow in your area. Take a look at this video, prepared by an SRA Appraiser in Birmingham, AL, to learn how:


Zillow has gone back in time to compare their historic Zestimate with what the property actually sold for. They say that their “estimated market value” is not an appraisal, but in reality an estimate of market value is an appraisal, but it’s one that cannot be used by a bank —  and one that you may want to think twice about before using to determine a sales price for your home.

Zestimates provide a range in value which can vary widely. The information is based on public and user-submitted data, both of which can vary in accuracy. County records often do not reflect newly finished areas or additions where a building permit was not used. Zillow explains that the further apart the spread from high to low the less accurate their estimate is. Check out the range of accuracy for the Denver area below. Are you comfortable using data that’s only within 10% accuracy a little more than half the time?

Denver zestimate, Winston Downs zestimate

How Accurate is Your Zestimate?

So is it wrong to use Zillow?  No – just recognize Zillow for what it is and don’t expect much more. Without actually looking inside a property, and using research-based methods of adjusting for sales information, you are only going to attain a certain level of accuracy. Another thing is that computers do not recognize similar market areas or differences in location characteristics.  Examples of this include adjustments for schools, traffic, differences in subdivisions and even streets within sub-areas. The other obvious area where inaccuracies can occur is with property condition. Appraisers and brokers are trained to research this information so that adjustments can be made. If a comparable is in inferior (or superior) condition, an adjustment will be made to reflect this.

The bottom line is that an appraisal (or “Broker Price Opinion) made by a person is going to be much more accurate than the value estimate provided by Zillow or other similar website.

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What’s a Good Comp?

What’s a Good Comp?

“Comps” are Comparable

When pricing your home, or before making an offer on one, you’ll want to make sure the price is right.  To do that, you and your agent will compare it with similar homes that have sold.  Since no two homes are exactly the same, you’ll make adjustments to arrive at the current value. Here’s what matters most . . .

The Ideal Comps:

  • Similar size, model, style, quality of construction and condition.
  • Similar community: proximity to amenities, quality of schools, walk/bike trails, etc.
  • Within a mile of subject property.
  • Sold within the past six monthls.
  • Within 5 years of same age.
  • No more than 20% difference in square footage.

After the Challenging, now the Difficult:

  • Have a reliable formula for adjustments:  know the value of a full bath vs. half, full basement vs. partial basement vs. no basement, bedrooms, one-car garage vs. two, frame construction vs. brick, overall condition including remodelling.
  • Have a formula for market appreciation or depreciation – especially for comps outside the preferred six-month window.
  • Adjust as needed for terms of sale (cash vs. new loan), type of Seller (individual, bank, estate, etc.)



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Free Tips: “Getting it Sold!”

Want a copy of my new brochure, “Getting it Sold: Your Resource for Staging, Curb-Appeal, and Selling Success”?

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Selling Your Home: Step-by-Step guide

Selling Your Home:  Step-by-Step guide

In Colorado, the Real Estate Commission is charged with protecting buyers and sellers. They also regulate the behaviour of licensees (real estate brokers). Here is their step-by-step guide to “The Selling Process”:

Determine goals or outcome: Once the decision to sell has been made, a number of other questions come to mind. What is a fair price under the current market conditions? What are the current market conditions? How can the property be marketed most effectively? How long will the process take and how should I proceed with future plans? Who will be able to help with contract and closing requirements? Some sellers have the experience and expertise to answer these questions, many others would prefer professional assistance from a real estate broker and/or an attorney.

Interview and select a broker: The process for selecting a broker is described above in the How to Select a Real Estate Broker section. As a seller, pricing and marketing issues are very important. Everyone wants to make sure they get the best possible price and terms. Proper preparation goes a long way towards that end.

Competitive Market Analysis: The brokers that you interview will want to take a careful look at your property in order to gather information to help them estimate its value. This estimate is not an appraisal, but a competitive market analysis. This is a tool that will allow you to compare your property with similar properties recently sold and currently on the market.

Marketing Strategy: Newspapers, yard signs, open houses, internet, multiple listings service? How should your property be marketed? What kinds of advertising really pay off? What works for sellers in my price range? A broker who knows your area will be able to help you devise a marketing plan based on previous successes.

The Listing Agreement: The listing agreement is the written contract where by a property owner hires a real estate broker to market real property and provide services. A listing contract describes the property ( address and legal description), the listing price and the terms that are acceptable to the seller. The listing also outlines the compensation that the broker is to receive. A listing may specify a percentage of the selling price, a flat fee or any other negotiated agreement mutually acceptable to the parties (the seller and the broker are the parties to the listing contract) as compensation to the real estate broker. Colorado brokers are required to use listing contracts approved by the Colorado Real Estate Commission.

Preparing for a Showing:
Your broker can give you good advise about how to prepare your property for showing. Common sense applies, but a trained third party observer can help you to make the best possible first impression on prospective purchasers. A thorough clean-up, a little fresh paint or minor repairs can help show your property in a favorable light.

Counteroffers: An offer to purchase made by a prospective buyer has no limits on what price or terms it may contain. An offer that mirrors the listing’s asking price and terms may be common under certain market conditions, however, from a purchaser’s point of view, it may represent a minor issue in a search for an exceptional value. A licensed real estate broker is required to submit all offers regardless of it’s terms. The seller always has the option of accepting or rejecting an offer that does not meet his requirements. If the terms do not meet with the sellers approval, a counteroffer may be utilized as an attempt at compromise rather than dismissing what might be a qualified prospective purchaser.

A Commission approved “Counterproposal” form is used to modify the terms of an offer to purchase. Once a counteroffer is made, the terms of the original offer have been rejected and the seller proposes new terms. The original purchaser then has the option of rejecting or accepting the new terms.

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