Things That Will Make Your House More Attractive To Buyers

1. Curb appeal – This is the first impression. A well manicured yard with no overgrown bushes or trees makes it look like the seller really cares for their property. Make sure the gutters are not clogged and overflowing with leaves. Don’t leave garbage cans in front of the house. Make sure all kids bikes and toys are in the garage or are in the back of the house. How old is the roof? Does it have streaks and stains? I believe the roof is the most important thing about a house. If the roof leaks then you are going to have major problems. I have shown houses where the buyers were turned off by the curb appeal and did not want to see the inside of the house.

2. Front door – Make sure the front door looks good. In my opinion the front door is extremely important. This is the first part of the house that the buyer will see. It should not need repairs or painting. If there is a storm door, make sure that it works well. If there is a hydraulic system to close the storm door, make sure it is set so that the door will close fully. The locking system on the door should not have any problems and be easy to use. I have spent 5 minutes trying to open a front door with a key that was not cut right. That is a big turnoff for buyers. Lock alignment is also important. You should not have to push or pull the front door in order for it to lock. The biggest turnoff for a buyer is to see that someone kicked the front door open. Cracked or broken door frames should immediately be fixed so there are no signs of someone breaking in.

3. Carpet and Paint – Two things that will increase value. Make sure that you use neutral colors when you paint. Child’s rooms that have been painted in the past with cartoon scenes rarely sell well. Buyers have a hard time envisioning the room with their furniture when they are staring at a Garfield Cartoon scene on the wall. If you can’t get your carpets to look new by cleaning and shampooing them then it is time to replace. You don’t have to go top of the line. Here is a trick. Once you put in new carpet, put a sign at the front door to “remove shoes”. Psychologically buyers think you really care about your house. I am impressed with Frieze carpeting and my buyers are also.

4. No personal pictures, certificates, degrees or trophies should be hanging or out to be seen – The less buyers know about you the better. When I am representing a buyer, while they are looking at the house I am trying to find out about the owner. A doctor’s degree on the wall would suggest that the owner has money and might let the house go for less or I could negotiate more out of the owner. An accountant’s degree on the wall might suggest that negotiations might be tuff. On the other side of this, the buyers might end up staring at the personal pictures on the wall and not be looking at the house. Keep these distractions to a bare minimum.

5. Kitchens and Bathrooms – If you are going to update anything in the house, this is where to start. Make sure your bathrooms have adequate lighting, newer vanities and NOT carpet flooring. The plumbing hardware should be modern and not from the 1950’s. Make sure your bathtubs and toilets are clean and the shower curtain is new. The vanity counter top should not be cluttered. Having nothing on it is better. Also make sure the mirror is clean.

Kitchens where the appliances are going with the house sell faster especially if the appliances were bought in the past few years. Make sure there is no clutter in the kitchen. Organize the pantry and all kitchen drawers. Give the buyer the impression that you are well organized. If they open your “junk” drawer and have a hard time closing it, chances are that they will be distracted by it. Kitchen counters should be as clean as possible. Kitchen sink hardware should be newer. Kitchen floors should stand out. Ceramic tile floors are nice but if you or the kids tend to drop things, the tile can crack. Otherwise a good linoleum floor will do if it is neutral.

6. No clutter – Think in these terms; the less clutter you have the bigger the house looks. If you put clutter in closets or the garage ORGANIZE IT! Use boxes or plastic bins. Buyers don’t like to open closet doors and see a mess. They would rather see an empty closet. That way it looks bigger. If you just can’t seem to get rid of the clutter, rent a Pod. They will bring it to your house, you can fill it up and then they will come and get it and store it for you. I have shown many starter houses that were bursting at the seams with clutter. Many of them ended up using the garage for storage and would leave the car in the driveway. I can remember showing a house to some buyers once where there was so much in the garage that you could not get within 10 feet of the furnace, hot water heater or the circuit panel. They immediately lost interest in the house.

7. Furnace, AC Condenser and Hot Water Heater – If these items are at the end of their life expectancy they should be replaced. I have seen many deals fall though because during a home inspection these items were rated at the end of their life expectancy and the sellers would not replace them. If they are in the beginning or middle of their life expectancy, make sure they are serviced regularly. I like seeing service/date stickers on a furnace. Tells me the seller cares.

8. Water Spots, Nail Pops and Ceiling Cracks – Water spots on ceilings is a sign that there was water intrusion from the roof, attic area or second floor. If a one story it came from the roof or attic. If two story, depending on what floor, it could have come from the roof/attic or second floor bathroom or second floor laundry. Even though the water intrusion was repaired, it could leave tell tale water stains behind. My experience is that when buyers see these stains, they see issues even though the water intrusion has been repaired. If you paint over these stains, you first need a primer. Otherwise the stain will show though the new paint. You can find a good primer at any hardware store specifically for this issue.

Nail pops are caused by an imperfection between the drywall and the attachment. The average nail pop is the size of a quarter and either bulges out of falls in. The drywall has either moved and the nail stayed, or vice versa. Roofing causes a lot of vibrations, and if your sheetrock was not installed properly or the nail was not covered properly, your nail may indeed pop. I see a lot of nail pops in houses that are between 2 and 5 years old. It is not a big issue and easy to fix. It is a large distraction for buyers looking at a home.

Ceiling cracks are common in older homes (over 30 years) although I have seen them in homes that were 10 years old and younger. They are usually caused by stress or foundation settling. Although there is no need for alarm if the crack is not pulled apart, it is a big distraction for buyers. A home inspector can usually tell if it will be an issue.

9. Doors and Windows – Today’s window’s and doors with windows come with double or triple pane glass. If the seal on the window breaks and moisture gets in, it causes the window to fog up. This is common on older vinyl windows. You can either replace the window or have it repaired. There are several companies today that can repair the window for a fraction of the cost of a new window.

10. Seller Home Inspection – This is one of the best ways to eliminate surprises. Usually the buyer in their purchase agreement requests that they are allowed to do a home inspection. The buyer pays for a home inspector to look at the house and tell them if there are any defects or issues with the house. Defects have to do with health and safety or would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property. A lot of times defects show up where the seller had no idea there were issues. In many cases the buyer will ask that the defect be fixed or they don’t want the house. This may cause the seller to have to spend money to repair the defect in order to sell the house. An unexpected expense.

If the seller, before listing the house pays for and has an inspection done, it eliminates all the surprises. A seller then can decide if they want to pay for the repairs or sell the home as is or list some of the defects on the Sellers Disclosure. A pre-listing inspection can determine what the real market value of the house is and if repairs would make the house worth more than the cost of repairs. After the seller has the inspection done and makes repairs, they can have the inspection report and paid repair invoices out where the buyers can see them when they are viewing the house. This should impress buyers knowing that the house has already had an inspection and defect repairs have been made. In some cases buyers if making an offer on the house will not want an inspection because one has just been done and defect repairs were made.

Bottom line – Make sure there are no distractions in the house that will make buyers find reason to lower what they perceive market value is. Many times I have seen buyers look at a home that was properly priced at $100,000 for the condition it was in and want to make an offer of $75,000 because they found issues with the house. They will go out of there way to find issues with the house so that they can low ball the price. If you eliminate the distractions and issues most likely you will get fair offers on your house.

What happens when a home does not appraise…

Recently I closed on a home that did not appraise. It was a 2 story, 4 bedroom, 2.5 baths with an unfinished basement. It was listed for $214,900. The buyers, my clients, made an offer of $206,500. The sellers countered at $209,900. My buyers accepted the counter offer.

The next step for my buyer’s mortgage company was to get the appraisal done. The appraisal came back at $205,000. Usually this can be a deal breaker. Buyers and sellers have four choices at this point.

1. The seller can agree to reduce the price to the appraisal price. If this is the case, the buyer and seller sign an amendment showing the reduced price and the sale goes on. Sometimes a seller can not afford to reduce the price. It might mean having the sellers bring money to the closing table to do the deal. The sellers need enough money from the sell to pay off their existing mortgage on the home. Otherwise the sellers cannot sell the house. Maybe the sellers don’t have the money to bring.
2. Re-negotiate the deal. In my deal we were $4,900 above the appraisal. If the sellers were not willing to reduce the price, maybe they would split the difference. In other words the seller will be willing to sell the house for $2,495 less and the buyer would be willing to pay $2,495 more for the house. The house ends up selling for $207,495 and the buyer has to bring $2,495 more than the appraisal to closing. It does not have to be split 50/50. Anything that the buyer and seller agree to will work out as long as the price of the house is the appraisal price or higher. Sometimes this does not work. Maybe the buyer refuses to buy the house for more than the appraisal price. If the buyer only plans to live in the house for one or two years, they may not want to pay more than the appraisal. If the buyer is planning to live in the house for 10 or more years and really wants the house, they are more likely to pay more than the appraisal.
3. Contest the appraisal. This is the most difficult choice in my experience. It also has to be contested by the buyer. Their Realtor can help them out with comparables in the community, how to read the data what will make a house more valuable BUT the buyer has to put the pieces together on their own.
4. Walk away from the deal. The buyer may not budge from the appraisal price. The seller may not budge from the agreed upon price. They both walk away from the deal. The purchase agreement states that it is contingent on financing. The appraisal is a part of the financing. If neither one wants to negotiate it, then they can sign a mutual release and it is like it never happened. The seller might then take their house off the market thinking that they will never get an appraisal for what they want for the house. They may leave the house on the market thinking the next buyer may get an appraisal higher than the last one (possible but not probable). The seller also could hope for a cash deal which does not require an appraisal. Although there are now significantly more cash deals today than three years ago, the likely hood of a cash deal above $200,000 are slim. Most cash deals today are far below $100,000.

All though the Loan Officer wanted to contest the appraisal, after I did a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that it was a fair appraisal. What was unusual with the appraisal was that it looked at comparables as far back as one year. Typically appraisers only go back six months. The other thing that was unusual was that the appraiser used four comparables. I am use to only three.

When I looked at two story, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with basement that sold in the past year in Royal Run, I came up with 16 listings. The top 2 sold for $233,000 and $234,000 and were much bigger. The bottom 10 were all under $200,000. That left the middle four. Those 4 happened to be the ones the appraiser used in his appraisal. Three were priced between $200,000 and $201,000. One was priced at $208,000. The appraiser’s bottom line was $205,000 which I thought was fair.

As I said before, the buyers and sellers ended up splitting the difference. The house sold for $207,495 and we closed the deal. Everyone was happy.

Stratford Glen

Went to a Brokers Open today in Stratford Glen and saw 3 nice houses. All 3 priced below $125,000. All 3 houses were well maintained and in my opinion were bargains. It is so nice to see pride of ownership.

House of the Day

Nice ranch in Deer Creek with an excellent floor plan. 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. This 22 year old house has 1658 square feet. Fenced back yard with large deck and a screened in porch. New windows, new paint and flooring, new kitchen appliances and new lighting fixtures. Double sided wood burning fireplace. I had seen this house last year when it needed rehabbing. The owner did an excellent job an I almost did not recoginize it. Priced under $110,000. Call for more info or a showing 317-319-9012.

2011 Pike Township Real Estate Recap

Condos

140 Condos sold
142 Average days on market
$78,617 Average sale price
1446 Average square footage
$53 Average $ per square foot

Homes

707 Homes sold
102 Average days on market
$133,265 Average sale price
1908 Average square footage
$69 Average $ per square foot

847 Total Condos and Homes sold

Distressed Sales*(Included in above numbers)

254 Homes and Condos sold
79 Average days on market
$74,732 Average sale price
1734 Average square footage
$41 Average $ per square foot
$20,000 to $800,000 High/Low price range
34.59% of sales in Pike were distressed

*My definition of "Distressed" is 
Bank Owned, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure,
HUD, Short Sales, Pre-Foreclosure and
VA-owned.

Numbers taken from MIBOR's Broker Listing Coopertive 
Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed

Help for Community Associations and Homeowners

With more than 60 million Americans living in 315,000 U.S. homeowners associations and condominium communities, tension, frustration and conflict are inevitable.

Associations can face a range of problems—from financial strife related to the current economic climate and housing crisis to conflict between homeowners and association leaders. Issues can involve mandatory homeowner fees, budgetary shortfalls, home foreclosures, architectural guidelines and rules enforcement related to yard signs, holiday decorations, flag poles, pets and parking.

Fortunately, there is free help and information—for homeowners, association leaders and community managers.

The nonprofit Community Associations Institute (CAI) offers free, downloadable information that can help homeowners better understand how associations should function and how to improve communities that are failing to meet resident expectations. Included are:

• An Introduction to Community Association Living—an online presentation that explains the nature, obligations and benefits of living in a common-interest community.
• Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities—42 principles and practices to help associations promote harmony and reduce the potential for conflict.
• Community Association Governance Guidelines—12 principles that can help association boards identify and meet basic benchmarks of responsible governance.
• Model Code of Ethics for Community Association Board Members

By knowing your rights and the rules and regulations of normal homeowners associations, you can know what to expect and better your living situation.

For more information, visit www.caionline.org.

House of the Day

A beauty in Branch Creek. Built in 1997 this 2 story, 4 bedroom and 2.5 baths sits next to a very tranquil pond with an awesome view. Totally updated and remodeled. New counter tops, new roof and new carpet throughout. With 2202 square feet there is plenty of space. Price is under $150,000. Call for more info 317-319-9012.