Choosing your Broker – 10 things to know

Choosing your Broker – 10 things to know

Find a Realtor®:   Questions when choosing an agent

Buying a home can be a great time. Selling your home can be equally fun, however sometimes it turns into a very stressful event. Many people do not know where to begin when buying or selling a home. This is why it is essential for buyers and sellers to have good representation. Here are 10 tips to help you find a great Realtor:

  1. Find an agent you trust. Just because someone is a big producer does not mean that they represent their clients well. Perhaps they just run a good real estate business.
  2. Find a knowledgeable Realtor that knows the market and the process. Some agents are more charisma than substance. Try to find an agent that give honest advice, even it it is not what you want to hear.
  3. A Realtor should know his or her way around the area. As a buyer you want to know that your agent can get you to each house on your list without getting lost. An agent that pulls over to look at a map does not instill confidence in a buyer.
  4. The biggest producers are not always the best. If you want extra attention pick an agent that can does not have a boat load of listings.
  5. Choose a Realtor that works full time. There are some agents who work part time and buying or selling real estate requires the work of someone who can be there for you anytime.
  6. Avoid pushy agents that push you to buy a house that you’re not sure of or that pushes you to list your home with him or her. Big decisions require time, avoid pushy agents.
  7. Find an agent that is up to date on technology. Most MLS systems are on the internet now. If you have an agent that is not great with the computer then maybe they are missing some opportunities.
  8. Ask if your Realtor has a strong network of professionals to call on. This could range from assistants, other agents, inspectors, attorneys or lenders. Good help might get you out of a possible jam.
  9. Find a Realtor who enjoys what he or she does and is happy and excited to work with you.
  10. Have someone refer you a good agent. You most likely know someone who can refer a good Realtor.

An experienced, competent and happy real estate agent can make your transaction much smoother. Use these 10 tips to find yourself good representation.

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Colorado Sellers need CO Detectors

Colorado Sellers need CO Detectors

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Required in ALL Colorado Residential Homes for Sale (HB-1091)

If you are looking to sell your Denver home, you now need to make sure that you have Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors in your homes.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can have harmful – fatal effects on humans and pets.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.” (EPA.gov)

What IS the new Carbon Monoxide Detector Law?

Colorado House Bill 1091 (HB-1091):

“Requires any existing single-family dwelling or dwelling unit of an existing multi-family dwelling offered for sale or transfer on or after July 1, 2009, that has a fuel-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage to have an operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within a specified distance of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.”

What does this mean for Denver home sellers?

If you are looking to sell your Denver home, you will need to install (or have installed) a Carbon Monoxide detector. Here are the basics of this new law.

A Carbon Monoxide detector …

  • must be installed 15 feet of every room lawfully used for sleeping, and
  • must be hard-wired or plugged into a non-switch outlet and have a battery back-up, and
  • must produce a distinct, audible alarm.

Right now, Denver Realtors® can help you locate qualified Carbon Monoxide detectors for your home.

What if you don’t put them in?

Well, I’m not an attorney and this is not legal advice.  So consult your own attorney, or just read the law below and use your head.  There are no penalties built into the law . .  . yet.  But you probably don’t want to be a test case.  What’s clear is that if you put them in like you’re supposed to, you will be “immune from liability” in case something happens to the next owner or tenant of the house due to carbon monoxide.

38-45-106. Immunity from liability.

ANY PERSON WHO INSTALLS OR MAINTAINS, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE MANUFACTURERPUBLISHED INSTRUCTIONS IN EXISTENCE AT THE TIME OF INSTALLATIONA CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, TO ANY PERSON WITH RESPECT TO THE OPERATIONMAINTENANCE, OR EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM.

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Set the Stage for Showings!

Set the Stage for Showings!

Sellers may already have made repairs, repainted, and cleaned the carpets. But they don’t always realize the power of small details.

by Lin Hill, REALTOR.COM online magazine After I’ve listed a home, I stand at the front door and try to imagine that I’m a prospective buyer. And almost always, the rooms are too cluttered.

I start by removing the first thing in my way and going on from there. Gradually, a path opens up, and the features of the house start to emerge.

The difference between personally uncluttering a home and merely advising sellers to do so is that both you and the sellers can see the results immediately. When I’m finished, the house looks bigger, brighter, and more open. Sometimes sellers say to me, “It looks bare. It’s not like home anymore.” And then I know I’ve done my job.

Setting the scene in each room sells the house—no question. And sellers appreciate your personal involvement. It shows you care.

An expired listing I uncluttered recently was beautiful but crammed to the rafters with collectibles, floral arrangements, antiques, tapestries, and other treasures. After we removed about 25 percent of thoseitems—a typical amount–it was still beautiful, but now you could see the space, features, and detailing. It sold in three days.

In each room, I have three goals:

1. Depersonalizing the space by removing family photos, taking everything off the refrigerator, and stripping the kids’ rooms of posters and baseball trophies.

2. Clearing high-traffic areas of excess furnishings to maximize feelings of space and comfort.

3. Highlighting the key features in every room–such as fireplaces or French doors–by making sure they’re not obscured by plants or furnishings.

Sometimes, when you’re selling a vacant house, you need to switch gears and add a little clutter. We listed a home recently that was 3,000 square feet and felt like a big, old barn inside. I asked the seller to bring some items from her home so that we could create a warm and friendly atmosphere.

She brought over two table settings for the breakfast bar, wine glasses, decorative pillows, candles, floral arrangements, towels for the baths, and pretty items for the shelves and counters. The result was that the house sold almost immediately at close to full price.

Here are some tips to help you set the stage for sellers: Start with the living room. This is often the buyer’s first impression and can make or break the sale. If extensive clutter exists throughout the home, do the living room first and the rest later.

Partially clear off built-in shelves, cabinets, and countertops. These are important features that need to be prominently displayed.

Be encouraging. Remind sellers that removing clutter is a giant stress reducer as well as a good way to get a head start on packing.

Hill, who has been selling real estate for more than 20 years, is the listing specialist for The Caudle Group, a division of RE/MAX-House of Brokers in Springfield, Mass., that had total sales of $22 million in 1998.

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Staging Cheat Sheet

Staging Cheat Sheet

Home-Staging Cheat Sheet 6 easy ways to make your property more appealing to buyers

By Luke Mullins U.S. News & World Report, July 3, 2008

Faced with a massive glut of unsold homes, many would-be sellers are struggling to make their properties stand out in today’s downtrodden real estate market. But while the economic head winds are beyond property owners’ control, author Barb Schwarz says they can dramatically improve their chances of making a sale by devoting attention to an often-overlooked corner of real estate marketing: home staging.

Schwarz, the CEO of StagedHomes.com, was a pioneer in home staging back in the early 1970s and has used the techniques to sell properties ever since. “The goal [of home staging] is for the buyer to mentally move in,” Schwarz says. “If they cannot mentally feel and see themselves living here, you’ve lost them.” Schwarz offers six simple tips to help home sellers better position themselves in a sluggish market.

Get them inside.The first thing a prospective buyer notices about a home is not the living room but the front yard. “A lot of people think staging is the inside only,” Schwarz says. “[But] we’ve got to stage the outside to get them inside.” So cut the grass, trim the hedges, rake those leaves, sweep the sidewalks, and power-wash the driveway. And make sure you don’t have too many potted plants scattered around the property. “Nothing dead,” Schwarz says. “You’d be amazed how many people have dead plants in their yards.”

Pretend you’re camping. Schwarz says a cluttered room will appear too small to buyers. “Clutter eats equity,” she says. Schwarz tells homeowners to go through each room of the house and divide their belongings into two piles: “keep” and “give up.” Items in the “keep” pile will be used to stage the room, while those in the “give up” pile should be stored elsewhere. “Pretend you are camping,” she says. “When you go camping, you are not taking all those books, right?”

The decluttered rooms may appear bare to the seller, but the buyer won’t think so. “We are not selling your things…. We are selling the space,” Schwarz says. “And buyers cannot visualize when there is too much [stuff] in the room.” Decluttering a home’s outdoor spaces is important, too, she says.

Balance hard and soft surfaces. When staging a particular room, it’s essential to have a good balance of hard surfaces, such as a coffee-table top, and soft surfaces, like a carpet, Schwarz says. For example, a room with a cushy, 7-foot-long sofa, a love seat, and four La-Z-Boy recliners has too many soft surfaces and not enough hard surfaces. “The room is sinking,” she says. “It’s all too heavy.” Instead, consider getting rid of the La-Z-Boys and the love seat, replacing them with two wingback chairs. “If you have hardwood floors but no rugs, it’s too hard,” Schwarz says. “So you want to add a rug.”

Work in ones or threes. Schwarz recommends arranging items on top of hard surfaces in ones or threes.

You would place three items—say, a lamp, a plant, and a book—on top of a larger hard surface, like an end table. “You take away the plant and the book, it’s too bare,” she says. “[But if] you put 10 things on it, it’s overdone.” The three items should be closely grouped together in a triangle shape. “I draw a triangle for my clients,” Schwarz says. “I say, ‘Here is the end table—let’s superimpose a triangle on top of it.’ ” For hard surfaces with less area, however, a single item will do.

Decide from the doorway. Since would-be buyers will get their first impression of each room from the doorway, homeowners should use that perspective to judge their staging work. “Do your work, go back to the doorway. Do some more, go back to the doorway,” Schwarz says. That way, you’ll be better able to ensure that each room appeals to buyers.

Make your place “Q-Tip clean.” A properly staged home should be immaculate—”Q-Tip clean,” as Schwarz puts it. “I mean Q-Tips getting dead flies out of your windowsill [and] going around the bottom of your toilet on the floor,” she says. The purpose of ensuring the house is spotless is more than simply making it presentable. If a home is unkempt, a buyer will wonder what other, less visible problems may come with the property, Schwarz says. “They’ll say, ‘Gosh, if they live like this, what don’t they take care of that I can’t see?'”

 

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“Honey, Stop the Car!” . . .

“Honey, Stop the Car!” . . .

. . . The Importance of Curb Appeal

by Lori Polk, Sacramento, CA Home Staging

This is one of the most important aspects in Staging and Selling a home. You must draw that person out of the car, onto the sidewalk and up to the front door. Color, landscaping, walkway, driveway, neighbors… all give a feel to the home. In order to show the home to a global buyer, it must look pristine from the street to the doorknob.

If a home is taking longer to sell than the average there may be a good reason. What is the first thing you notice when you drive up to the home? How does the home make you feel? Do you want to get out and see it? How does it look compared to the other homes in the neighborhood? These are questions you need to ask yourself when preparing your home for sale.

You can’t change the neighborhood, and you probably didn’t budget for a complete front yard makeover. So what can you do? Here is a start:

Walk across the street or as far way as you can. View your home by at least 3 angles such as the right side, front and center and left side. Now take a really good look at it.

#1. Can you see it? This sounds funny but if you can’t see your home, you can’t sell it. Trees and shrubs are great and should be trimmed so that you can still see the house. I usually suggest trimming trees up to the rain gutter line or the top of the highest window. Shrubs should follow a same line as the bottom of a window trim. If a lot of trimming needs to be done, do it several weeks before so that the plants have a chance to recover.

#2. How is the paint? Is it a neutral color? Does it flow with the rest of the homes on the street? Painting your house bright Blue will attract attention for sure, but not when you are selling. Remember, with global buyers… neutral is key here. Start with the trim if you can’t paint the whole house, especially around the front door and front porch. It can be as simple as painting the front door a different color. That can be a quick and easy fix.

#3. How is the driveway? Are there cracks, oil stains, garbage cans? The driveway is the largest hard area near the home, the material and look of the driveway and garage have a huge impact on curb appeal. Clean it up and clear everything off.

#4. Is your walkway to the front door defined? Does it lead buyers to the front door or front entry? Make sure people know where your front door is, and then work on drawing people toward the front door. If the front entry area has a patio, create an outdoor sitting area.

#5. How is the landscaping? Make sure that the grass is well watered, edged, and mowed. Flowers, flowers and more flowers. These little pops of color make us happy and cheerful. Add some pots near the garage and plant away.

Curb appeal is really part of the whole package, which means the small details are as important as the big picture. A manicured front yard means a manicured home in a buyer’s eyes. Finally, don’t forget to tidy up. Remove the garbage cans, hide the hose, pick up the paper, etc. Curb appeal means a place that looks neat and clean, the kind of place you’d like to live.

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5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

Getting ready to sell?  Here are 5 quick tips:

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.

4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

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