How To Market A Luxury Home

How To Market A Luxury Home

When you’re selling a luxury property, the usual rules about how to market a home tend to go out the window.

For starters, not all sellers want the universe to know that their home is going on the market, so you might not have the option of advertising the home on a real estate portal or even listing it on the multiple listing service (MLS). And depending on whether or not the seller (or the home) is noteworthy locally or nationally, there could also be quite a few “interested buyers” who don’t have the means to purchase a home but who still want to come inside and look around.

But that doesn’t mean that marketing a luxury home is impossible — far from it! There are specific tactics and strategies that wouldn’t make sense for another type of property but that are perfect for luxury homes, and you can use some or all of them to secure a qualified buyer without compromising privacy.

Keep it in your pocket

When a home is for sale but it’s not listed on the multiple listing service (MLS), it’s known as a “pocket listing.” There are many reasons why a seller might want to leverage a pocket listing instead of using the reach and network of the MLS, and privacy is usually at the top of the list.

  • If the address or the person who lives there is relatively well-known, then it probably won’t be too long before the media or a fan picks up on the home for sale and turns it into a story.That can be a tactic that works to your advantage, of course, but you might want to save the step of listing on the MLS until after you’ve used the local luxury network to shop the home (and you have not received any viable offers).
  • The local community can be your best asset in the home sales process. If you tell your friends, colleagues, and members of any clubs or organizations where you’re a regular attendee that you’re putting your home up for sale, the likelihood of you finding a qualified buyer is heightened — and your acquaintances can tell anyone they know about the fact that your home is for sale. You might not be telling every buyer in the market that you’re putting a house on the market, but you’ll certainly be reaching a large portion of people who are financially qualified to take on that investment … and possibly interested in buying it.

If you think you could stand to expand that network, host a party. There’s no better way to show off your home than when it’s packed with admirers.

Build your (visual) asset bank

If your home doesn’t sell as a pocket listing and you do decide to put it on the MLS, then you’ll need some high-quality images to help entice a qualified buyer to your doorstep.

The people who can afford to buy your home won’t want to waste time visiting a property that doesn’t meet whatever standards they’ve set themselves, and in this era of digital opportunity, it’s a huge mistake to ignore images when you’re trying to sell a luxury property.

It’s not enough to “just” have pictures, either. You want the lighting, staging, and finish that comes with a professional photographer and all of the accompanying cameras, lights, and other tools. And if you really want to make a splash, you’ll need to go a step further and think about creating a video that really showcases what makes your property shine.

Tell a story about the special features

A luxury home wouldn’t be a luxury home without sweeping people away somehow. Whether that’s an architect who’s a household name, finishes fit for royalty, or a view that leaves you breathless, you need to know what makes your home fit for the “luxury” label and how you can convey its attraction to people who have never seen it.

Pick the thing or couple of things that always elicit a comment from the people who visit your house.

You probably know them if you begin to think about them — the beautifully landscaped pool area, perhaps, or the industrially equipped kitchen, or the horse stables, or the view from the master bedroom. Then make sure you make those features a central focus of your property marketing. Help potential buyers feel what it’s like to wake up and look out those windows, or take a dip in that pool after dark. Luxury is a feeling, and if you can spark that feeling in the people who are searching for a place to live, you’ll be working toward a sale in no time.

Pricing and incentives

It can be difficult to price a luxury home to sell because they are usually much rarer than entry-level or mid-level homes, and therefore they don’t exchange hands quite as frequently. That makes it tough to pull comparable sales when you’re wondering how much your home might fetch on this market.

Talking to a real estate professional who specializes in luxury sales is essential when you’re trying to nail down the right price for your home.

If you overprice it, it will linger on the market for much longer than it should while you consider reducing the price or pulling it off the market — agonizing for any seller. And it’s equally bad to price it so low that you’re leaving money on the closing table when the time comes to walk away.

Don’t use the l-word

Most buyers in the market for a luxury home aren’t going to Google “luxury homes for sale in my area.” They look for clues that indicate a property is high-end without saying it outright: “gated community,” “estate,” “extravagant,” “opulent,” or “grand,” for example. They might also look for clues in a listing, like whether it’s a waterfront property or the price per square foot.

A real estate professional can walk you through the different cues and clues that qualified buyers in your area are going to be using and help make sure that your marketing materials and listing is peppered with them.

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Open House Prep Guide: Get Ready In 5 Steps

Open House Prep Guide: Get Ready In 5 Steps

An open house can be an ideal way to introduce a bulk of buyers to the property you’re hoping to sell them, and done right, an open house can sometimes generate multiple offers. The key, though, is “done right” — not every open house is going to be a buyer’s bonanza, and not every open house showcases a home at its highest potential. You want buyers walking in to feel welcome and for the house to be presented as at least a little bit of a party venue, so buyers can imagine themselves hosting their own event for friends and family in the home. What does it take to prepare for and host the perfect open house? The following 5 steps will help you create a memorable (and, ideally, lucrative) event that will have buyers dreaming about living in your home.
1. Consider a broker's open house

A broker’s open house is an open house specifically for real estate agents or brokers who have buyer clients. It’s another option that you might discard as too much work, but hosting a broker’s open house before your home actually hits the market can create some buzz around the property and help with word-of-mouth advertising — if an agent or broker thinks it might be perfect for their client (or clients) and have a chance to walk through and check everything out in advance, then they’ll be more likely to add it to their list of “must-visits” when you host an open house for the general public.

2. Set a date

Deadlines make things happen, so give yourself one when it comes to your open house. The timing is up to you, of course: 

  • Weekends are perennially popular for open houses because lots of buyers tend to be available, but for buyers who work alternate schedules, a weekend might not work so well. 
  • A weekday evening might be a better option, depending on the price range for your home and whether a bulk of qualified buyers work in jobs that keep them mostly occupied on weekends. 

Consult with your real estate agent about which days of the week and times of day have historically worked best for them, and see what you can find out about the schedules and availability of most buyers in your area, then figure out a time and date based on what you’ve learned and start getting ready for launch.

3. Tell everybody

No one will show up to your open house if you don’t tell them when it’s happening and where it is, so marketing the event is a critical component for success. There are a number of ways to do this, you can:

  • put a notice up at the post office or possibly even the local coffee shop,
  • ask your agent to add it to your listing information, 
  • see if any local publications will let you place an open-house advertisement in the appropriate place, 
  • post information at your agent’s office and even other brokerages (if allowed), 
  • and of course, set up signs the day of the open house with the address and time clearly visible.

Social media is another fantastic way to advertise your open house. Put it up on Facebook and add it to any neighborhood-specific groups so that people who are interested in the area can see it and tell their friends. Make sure you post it on Nextdoor, too. 

4. Remove clutter

Once you’ve set a date and advertised the home, it’s time to get your property ready for its close-up — and, fair warning, that’s probably going to take a lot of work. You’ll need to transform your home from loved and lived-in to looking more like a vacation rental: The ideal look is comfortable and inviting, but not personal.

Start with a serious clutter-removal operation, including furniture. You might want to get rid of a few chairs or even an entire sofa in the living room, end tables or even an entire dresser in the bedroom, and a file cabinet or other ancillary furniture in your home office. 

Remove any personal items, including family photographs from the walls or fireplace mantle, and if you have substantial music or book collections, it might be a good idea to scale back the number of items.

Remember the ideal and focus on culling any potentially alienating or divisive items, especially; it’s fine to have a fixation on religious or political collectibles or artwork, for example, but if you wouldn’t find it appropriate in a vacation rental, then you should probably get it out of the way for your open house event.

5. Move the furniture

Once you’ve eliminated the clutter and even some of the furniture, it’s time to rearrange what’s there so that you don’t have obvious gaping holes in your decor. 

Your agent might be a good resource here, especially if you’re not sure how to replace the giant boudoir-focused images you had hanging on your bedroom walls (hey, we’re not judging!). Renting some artwork or items from a stager could work nicely for you, but you may also be able to get away with buying some inexpensive but nice-looking landscapes from a local thrift store and putting those on your walls instead. 

Think about the flow of your rooms as you move furniture around and try to leave plenty of space for visitors to walk around and through each room.


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4 Tips For Assessing Your Home’s Value

4 Tips For Assessing Your Home’s Value

As a homeowner, it’s perfectly natural to wonder how much your house is currently worth (and, not so incidentally, how much money you might make today if you were to sell it). Even though the internet has brought information about home values directly to our fingertips, not all of it is reliable — that’s one big reason why appraisers are still in business, charging hundreds of dollars for an accurate valuation.

The truth is that sometimes even appraisers get it wrong. Your house is worth whatever a buyer in your market is willing to pay for it, and that’s usually not evident until you put it on the market and start considering offers.

All that said, there are still ways you can assess your home’s value without actually putting it on the market. Here are nine things to consider when you’re trying to figure out how much your house is worth.

1. Look at your property tax bill

Your property tax bill isn’t an exact estimate of your home’s value, but it’s a good jumping-off point. Homes are assessed for property taxes at different times, depending on which state, county, or city you live in. In most states, homes are assessed for taxes every five to seven years; depending on how recently your own home was assessed, you may be able to use the assessment as a starting point for figuring out how much your house is worth.

That said, beware of considering an assessment of the final word on your property’s value. Typically, an assessment is done by taking the assessment rate of your locale, looking at the appraised value of your house, and multiplying the assessment rate by your home’s appraised value. If the last time your house was appraised was when you bought it — and that was decades ago — then the assessment of your home could be significantly higher or lower than its actual fair-market value. (But you won’t know that unless you call in a professional appraiser and ask their opinion.)

2. Examine homes that have sold recently in your neighborhood

To pinpoint a home’s value, most professionals use “comps” — this is just a term for homes that are comparable to yours that have sold recently, preferably within the past three months, but possibly as long as six months ago, depending on how many homes are for sale in your area and how easy it is to find comparable homes. At least three comps should be identified and used to find your home’s value, but you can use as many comps as you like; five or six might generate a number that more accurately reflects your home’s fair-market value.

What makes a house comparable to yours? It really depends on what comps are available in your area. They should definitely be as close to your house physically as possible, and preferably should “look” a lot like your house in terms of the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and total lot size. Preferably, the comps will also align in details like the number of parking spaces and even the material used to build the house.

To find some comps yourself, look up homes that have recently sold in your area or neighborhood. Try to be as honest as possible with yourself; you’re not going to get a reliable valuation if you’re only looking at luxury homes and your house is not also a luxury home, or if you’re only considering mid-level houses and yours is a starter home. The recently sold homes should be as, well, comparable to your house as possible for this to be a valuable exercise.

3. Consider inventory

In some markets where there just aren’t very many homes for sale, it might not even matter that much if your house is comparable to others that have recently sold. 

“The San Francisco Bay Area is a good example of a market where there isn't a lot of available inventory (a fancy term for "homes for sale") and therefore even tear-down homes can capture seven-figure sales prices - buyers are just that desperate to get their foot on the housing ladder, and they're willing to pay whatever it takes.

Those markets are few and far between, but it’s still a smart idea to look at how many homes are for sale in terms of total inventory and then use that information to determine how much your own house might be worth. In areas where there are a lot of homes for sale, you might not be able to capture a price at the very top of your price range — but in areas where there are very few homes for sale, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get a lot closer to top dollar for your own house.

4. Use an online tool

Although online tools for calculating your home’s value are everywhere, they aren’t always accurate. 

  • Many of them use the same process as a human would to assess value — namely, comps — and a robot or algorithm isn’t always as good at picking the best comparable homes as a human would be. (This is why valuation tools like Zillow’s Zestimate usually don’t capture the actual sales price of a house.)
  • A robot or algorithm hasn’t actually seen your house; they haven’t walked through it to determine whether the flooring, finishes, appliances, and other details are above the market average or below market average, so it’s really not possible for them to give you a totally accurate value for your house. 
  • It’s a lot easier to get an accurate online valuation for a cookie-cutter house in a recent development with lots of current sales than it is for a one-of-a-kind property.

Nonetheless, if you want a quick answer, sometimes an online tool is the fastest way to get at least a ballpark range. There’s a very simple one at the Federal Housing Finance Administration, which looks at when you bought your house, how much you paid for it then, and then tells you what it’s likely to be worth today just based on the housing market: Zillow, Trulia, and all have home valuation tools, too, and your local real estate brokerage might even have one available for you to play with.

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Home Seller’s Step-By-Step Guide To Preparing For Showings

Home Seller's Step-By-Step Guide To Preparing For Showings

When you’re selling your house, it can be tempting to hope that buyers will see past the surface to the beautiful bone structure of your abode and realize what a lovely life they could make in it.

But the truth is that most homes could use a little bit of a facelift before you invite people to walk through and hope they’ll make an offer on it.

So what do you need to do, exactly, to get your house into perfect shape, and keep it that way throughout all the showings and events? Here’s a rundown of the steps you can take to make and keep your house not only picture-perfect — but open-house perfect.

Getting started

There are a few steps you’ll want to take throughout your house in order to get it ready for deep cleaning and make it presentable for showing.

  • Start by walking through each room and asking yourself what items you haven’t used lately or that you can do without for a while. Minimizing the stuff in your house will make it much easier to keep everything clean throughout the selling process.
  • Don’t forget about the furniture! Removing furniture from a room can make it look more spacious. If you don’t want to get rid of anything, rent a storage unit where you can stash your larger items until you’re finished showing your house.
  • When you’ve removed one-third to half the furniture in your house, rearrange what’s left to create inviting pathways through each room. Visitors should be able to walk around everything without bumping into anything else.
  • You’ll want to pack up and stash any books, clothes, appliances, equipment, or other things that you don’t need or want immediately (or, realistically, for the next couple of months). It’s fine to keep a few back — nobody lives in a completely empty house — but remember that less is more and do your best to streamline to less.
Details, details, details

Now that the house is more or less arranged the way you want it, it’s time to start paying attention to some of those details.

  • Look at your walls and ask yourself if you need to add or remove anything. One strong piece of artwork in each room is a good goal — two if the room is really big. 
  • Where you aren’t replacing art, repair any holes in the walls and paint over them. In fact, if you’re going to give any rooms in your house a coat of paint, now is a great time to do that — before the real deep cleaning starts.
  • Add a houseplant or two. Assess your houseplant situation: How many do you have, and do you need to remove or add any? Like artwork, one or two plants per room is probably a good balance.
  • Assess the lighting in your house. Are there dark areas in certain rooms? A well-placed floor or table lamp or two can take any room from gloomy to soft and relaxing, so think about where you could use a little light help and add it.
  • Think about how your house (and each room) smells as you walk through it. If you have pets and your nose might be sensitized to odors, then ask a friend to give you an honest opinion about how odiferous the place is.

Once you’ve tackled these general tasks, it’s time to get down and dirty in each room and outside your house. Get ready!

The kitchen

If you haven’t already decluttered the kitchen, start with the cabinets and work your way down. Box up and store any dishes and kitchen appliances that you don’t need accessible — you may be in for a few weeks of boring dinners or take-out, but it’s all in the name of making your house stageworthy. 

Organize your pantry, your cabinets and other kitchen storage spaces, which should be quite a bit easier to do with fewer items to organize.

Remove everything from your countertops and deep clean them, making sure you scrub the backsplash and pay attention to any tile grout (you may want to steam clean or bleach grout if you have tile countertops or floors).

Spend some time cleaning all of your appliances -- oven, stove, fridge, microwave.

Replace any worn burner pans on your stove, and remove any personal items you’ve secured to your fridge door with tape or a magnet, like kids’ drawings or phone number lists.

The living room

Clearing off surfaces is going to be the first order of business in the living room. If there are ashtrays on coffee tables, remove them while your house is on the market and find somewhere else to smoke.

After you’ve cleared coffee tables and bookshelves of any mementoes or unnecessary items, clean and dust the tables and bookshelves, then do your best to keep those surfaces clean and dust-free. 

Kids' toys can be one of the biggest contributors to a messy living room, so confine them to bedrooms or invest in a toy chest or bin where you can quickly toss them and keep them out of the way.

Make sure any fireplaces or wood stoves are in good working order and clean off and dust any mantles. Only replace items that aren’t too personalized, and make sure that mantles aren’t crowded with knick-knacks.

The bedrooms

Do you have a “special occasion” bedding set that doesn’t get used very often? If not, you might consider investing in one — talk to your real estate agent or stager before you do to get an idea of what’s appropriate. 

If so, now's the time to haul it out and put it on the bed, so make sure that your nicest bedding set is on display in the bedroom.

Clear off all the surfaces in your room — bedside tables, dressers, and any other surfaces — and clean them thoroughly. Make sure you’ve purged any personal items and keep any additions minimal and dust-free.

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What Factors Can Keep Your House From Selling?

What Factors Can Keep Your House From Selling

Selling your house can be an intensely emotional experience in any market, but it’s particularly nerve-wracking when it seems like other homes are going under contract in a matter of days while your listing lingers. In that situation, sellers can’t help but wonder if there might be something wrong with their place.

Well, the unfortunate truth is that maybe there is something wrong. Usually, it’s the listing price, but there are a ton of other things that are keeping your house on the market — maybe it’s the marketing strategy, or even the house itself. If your house just won’t seem to move in a market that’s otherwise red-hot, consider whether one of these factors could be stalling a sale.

The pictures are amateur

It’s hard to under-emphasize the importance of listing photos. Most buyers start their home search online, and your listing photos are therefore the first impression that buyers will get of the property.

  • When all the other homes for sale in your neighborhood have crisp, clean images that show the home to its best advantage, and your listing photos are off-center, unfocused and scream “I took all of these pictures in 10 minutes with my cell phone,” then don’t be surprised when buyers aren’t all that interested in your place.
  • Make sure that you’re selecting only the photos that make your house shine, and if there aren’t any, then you might need to reshoot.
  • Talk to your agent and the listing photographer about shooting at a time of day when there’s a lot of natural light and when the home is in pristine condition.
You have too much stuff

Minimalism might not be a big thing where you live, and that’s perfectly fine — while you’re living there. But clutter is going to draw buyers’ eyes away from the space of the room and their ability to fill it with their stuff, distracting them when you want them to be fully focused on their dream of homeownership.

Garage sales, donation stations, and storage units can all be a viable solution for too much stuff, but you need to get it out of the spaces where buyers can see it. That means the closets, too -- buyers most definitely will open closets and drawers, and if all the clutter is hiding there, it doesn't leave a great impression.
The price was based on an online calculator

It’s hard to find a homeowner who hasn’t looked up their own house on a real estate portal like Zillow — we’re all curious, right? Well, even though that Zestimate price may have given you a warm fuzzy feeling, the truth is that it might not be all that accurate. 

Online calculators use public records data and sometimes MLS data to create their estimates, but if the data is patchy or there aren't a lot of comparable homes that have sold nearby, then the algorithm might end up pulling some numbers that just don't make any sense.

Of course, this can mean an absolute steal for buyers if your automated valuation is below the home’s actual value, and you could lose money on the sale. But on the flip side, if you trust that your home really is worth what the automated valuation says — and you haven’t asked an appraiser or a real estate agent what they think — then that could be why no buyers are interested.

The wrong agent is listing the home

Like all of us, real estate agents have strengths and weaknesses. Some agents are great at selling condos but haven’t sold any single-family homes, and that’s just one of the many facets that makes up an agent’s experience.

It’s completely understandable to go with the agent who helped you in your last sale, or a friend of a friend, but do ask any agents you interview about their experience in working with clients like you to sell houses like yours. If they don’t have any, then you might be in for a long wait and several price cuts before your house moves.

Showings aren't convenient for buyers

One of the worst parts of selling a home is dealing with the showing process. It’s a pain to keep your house spotless in case a showing gets booked, and then vacate the premises while strangers traipse through with an agent.

  • Although sellers definitely deserve sympathy for how demanding showings can be, they’re not exactly a picnic for buyers, either, who are usually trying to visit several houses in the few-hour timespan they’ve managed to clear out, typically on evenings and weekends when they don’t have to work.
  • If you aren’t letting buyers come in and walk through on those evenings and weekends, and instead are dictating showing times that only fit your schedule, don’t expect buyers to fit your home into theirs. If it’s inconvenient, many qualified buyers who’d love your house will prefer to skip it.
The listing description is flat or unrealistic

Most buyers are going to look at the photos first and foremost, but many will also pay attention to the listing description. This is a chance to tell interested buyers what you love about the house, and they’re going to be looking for information or nuance that they couldn’t glean from the photos.

For example, maybe the view from the master bathtub is your favorite in the house, or perhaps there's a greenhouse in the yard.

Include details in the listing description that help the buyer round out what they know about the house from photos — and steer away from generic descriptions if possible. Buyers see a lot of them, and they won’t help your home stand out.

You're too attached

Sometimes it’s the right time to sell a house — and sometimes it doesn’t matter how hot the market is: You’re just not ready to let go yet. That’s a very normal feeling to have, but it can also sabotage your home sale for obvious reasons.

Consider whether your attachment to the home could be undermining you in other ways, like insisting that it's worth a certain price or demanding specific concessions from your buyers.

If you think it might be, then you have to decide whether your need to sell the house outweighs your desire to stay there, and act accordingly.

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Is It The Right Time To Sell Your Home?

Is It The Right Time To Sell Your Home?

Is now the best time to sell your home? That’s an intensely personal question that depends on a number of factors — many of them beyond your control.

In 2006, some sellers might have been wondering if they should have waited another year and netted even more profit … but today we know that those sellers would have kicked themselves for making that decision.

Major economic shifts aside, there are ways you can manipulate your home’s sale to best benefit you and your family as you move into a bigger place or downsize to better fit your lifestyle. When you’re trying to target the most opportune time to put your home on the market, it helps to consider all of the factors involved and control what you can to maximize your price and profit.

The annual real estate doldrums …

Most advice you’ll hear about selling will be different, but there’s one time of year that most experts believe you should avoid when it comes to listing a home: wintertime.

Between the holiday season and, in some parts of the country, the weather, there aren’t too many buyers incentivized to disrupt their lives and move into a new home, which means they aren’t really thinking about shopping for one, either -- at least in some markets.

And fewer buyers means less of a chance that your home will be one of the homes that sells.

Winter also isn’t a very fun time of year to be a seller, logistically speaking. You might think you’ll get out of yard work (and you’ll be right), but you’ll probably be cleaning up after visitors tracking rain and snow through your just-cleaned house while they tour it in exchange.

… And the peak selling season

Just like many experts will warn you against winter, springtime is commonly considered one of the best times of the year to sell a home. 

Buyers are interested in making a fresh start, yards look lush and green, days are starting to get longer, and tax season gives some buyers a leap ahead on any down payment savings.

So does that mean you should sell in the springtime? Maybe … but be aware that other sellers are going to have the same idea. There will be competition in the form of more homes available on the market. Those buyers also might have the options available to be more picky in the home they end up buying, and that could mean they demand changes to yours before paying for it — or pass altogether.

Your home’s favorite time of year

Here’s the thing about all conventional wisdom: It’s geared toward the median, the “normal,” the middle-of-the-road. But the reality is all over the map, and the conventional wisdom for your home could be very different from the norm.

  • If you live in a ski resort town, then wintertime could be the very best time of year to list your home — when the area is full of visitors who are enjoying themselves and wondering whether they might be able to make a permanent move work.
  • If you own a family-sized house with a little room to grow that’s just a two-block walk from one of the most desirable elementary schools in your metro area – it might make less sense to list your home in the early spring, when many families with young children will be preoccupied with the end of the school year, and instead list in early summer, when they’re able to seriously consider a move.
  • Or perhaps the fall foliage in your part of the world is something tourists travel hundreds of miles to absorb, and you’ve got a grove of beautiful deciduous trees in your yard.

Maybe you have a swimming pool or deck area that really shines in the summertime. Or maybe it’s your flower garden that makes passersby stop and stare at your house, and the spring really is the best time for you.

Does the day of the week matter?

Actually, it might. According to a couple of different studies, homes that were listed on Thursday or Friday have been found to sell in the shortest length of time for slightly higher prices than any other homes.

It’s possible that the timing of the weekend is what’s honing Thursday’s and Friday’s edge over the other days of the week.

Buyers are more likely to have time to schedule home tours or attend open houses over the weekend, and there are likely to be more of those buyers looking at each house (and therefore more chances of getting an offer, or maybe even multiple offers). 

And if the home was just listed and buyers see that competition for themselves, they’re more likely to put in a full-price offer for the home.

It’s usually not a good idea to list a home on a weekend, and you’re less likely to see buyer appointments to tour homes earlier in the week, so if you can’t swing a Thursday or Friday, try a Wednesday.

Timing isn’t everything

Even if you think you’ve nailed the absolute best time to sell your home and you’ve done all you can repair-wise to maximize your chances, there’s one big mistake that could shoot all your efforts right in the foot: Pricing your home incorrectly when you first list it.

Some sellers don’t think this is the huge deal that it really (really!) is.

Serious buyers sign up to property watch lists and get an alert as soon as a home is listed on the MLS. Most of the buyers who could buy your home are going to see its listing within the first 48 hours of that listing being “live.”

Unless you overpriced it, of course. Then those buyers won’t see it until you reduce the price down to a more realistic level — and you might think that the price is a starting point of negotiation, but a qualified buyer is searching for “homes I am qualified to buy right now,” not “homes I am not qualified to buy right now but that might drop into my price range later.

So you get one big chance to make your home’s big debut in front of its buyers. And if you set the price too high (or too low, for that matter), you’ve blown it.
That’s why the best way to maximize your home’s price is to talk to a qualified agent, who can help you figure it out — and why the best time to sell is when you’re ready.
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How To Maximize A Small Living Space?

How To Maximize A Small Living Space?

Between micro-apartments, tiny homes, and even #vanlife, the real estate industry is taking the saying “less is more” to previously unknown levels. And while we can all get behind the idea of streamlining your life and shedding possessions that no longer meet your needs.

The good news is that as we’ve become increasingly obsessed with small living spaces, we’ve also discovered (or recovered) strategies to maximize what you’ve got. Whether you already live in a small space, you’re downsizing, or you just want to be more efficient with the space you have, these tips will help you achieve your miniature-lifestyle dreams.

Look high and low

As humans, we’re socialized to see what’s in front of us — and little else. Ask any hide-and-seek champion and you’ll learn that there’s a whole world of possibilities both above our line of sight and below it, where we rarely glance.

  • Take a walk through your living space and pay special attention to space above your head toward the ceiling and space below your knees toward the floor. If you’ve got high ceilings, you might find a ton of new opportunities for shelving or other storage options.
  • Make sure you’re focusing on “unusual” spots, too — like under the stairs, for example. We’re not suggesting you turn that space beneath the stairs into a bedroom, but it’s certainly possible that when you bypassed the stairs, you also neglected the perfect space to store out-of-season clothing items.
  • Consider your furniture while you’re examining your place from floor to ceiling. If space is at a premium, then you’ll want to find dining room seating (for example) that tucks completely under the table when you’re finished.

One great way to make your space look larger-than-real-life is to arrange all of your seating lower to the ground. Instead of a couch in the living room, you might consider a futon that folds into a bed — or maybe even just some big, comfortable cushions that can be stacked in a corner when you’re not lounging or entertaining guests.

Transparency is key

One of the essential problems with living in a small space is that a “traditional” home is very much divided up by function.

You sleep in the bedroom, cook in the kitchen, work in the office, and relax in the living area -- all of which are divided up by walls.
Smaller living quarters often try to replicate a traditional home, but if you’re living in a tiny space, then you might not want walls dividing everything up … and even if you do, maybe a permanent wall of brick and mortar is the wrong move.
Glass doors and walls can functionally separate your space for living without sacrificing any of your line-of-sight vision, giving the illusion of plenty of room even in a smaller home.
If you’d like to actually block off space physically and visually, then hanging a curtain that you can fling open or draw closed can be a nice way to create a “room” within a room — without the walls.
Mirror, mirror

Hotel designers know this trick (and you won’t be able to unsee it now that we’ve told you about it): Hang a large mirror across one wall to give the illusion of twice the space. 

When you arrange lights around or in front of the mirror, you’re also brightening the room up significantly.
You can hang the mirror above a couch or a bed, or on the back of a door, very easily. And you can even find mirrored tile these days, so if you love the look of subway tile and also would like to take advantage of some mirroring in your bathroom or kitchen, then you can even consider a mirrored backsplash in one (or both) of those spots to capture light and brighten the room.
Work those walls (and ceilings)

Now that you’ve walked through your home with an eye toward the sky, you probably know where you are missing an opportunity to maximize your space.

  • Could you replace your kitchen light with a version that includes a rack for pots and pans, for example, freeing up some cabinet space below?
  • Are you parking your bicycle in the hallway when you could install a couple of hooks and hang it up? 
  • Is there space to add a bookshelf or three for storing rarely used items? (Or books?!)

You might find there’s space above your kitchen cabinets where you can park small appliances that you don’t use very often, or maybe there are corners throughout your living space where you could install a shelf and use it. Remember: Your floor is just one surface; you can create many more if you need to.

Stackable (or stashable) appliances

Yes, you can have a washer-dryer in your small abode — but it’s probably best if you choose a set that stacks to help save some floor space.

Appliance manufacturers have been paying attention to the micro-trend, and they’ve been building products for smaller spaces that work just as well as their full-size counterparts.

Before decking out your diminutive dwelling, do some research on what appliances are available and consider whether they would work for you and your lifestyle.

Elevate your furniture

Lifting up your furniture just a few inches can expose treasure troves of storage space. If you’ve got a traditional bed or sofa and need to maximize your storage surface area, then consider getting some risers for either piece of furniture and investing in some low boxes or other storage containers that you can slide underneath.

Make your outdoors great
Maybe that space between your walls is officially “tiny” — but if you’ve got the ability to spread yourself around outside, then consider turning your deck or yard into a bonafide living space.
Patio furniture and hammocks can help you create a dining or lounge space outside, complete with furniture, and if you have room for a grill outside (and the weather is nice enough year-round), then you might even be able to turn your out-of-doors into a kitchen of sorts.

And storage shed outside can solve a lot of your storage problems, too, from out-of-season clothing to recreational equipment.

Keeping the lawn mowed and your flowerbeds blooming can also go a long way toward making your home feel serene instead of cluttered and overstuffed with “stuff.” If you maintain the outside of your home, it will invite you to relax just as effectively as a king-sized feather bed with fluffy white pillows or leather sectional in front of a television.

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Deep-Cleaning Tips For Homeowners

Deep-Cleaning Tips For Homeowners

If you’ve never owned a house before, then it’s entirely possible that you’ve never deep-cleaned a house. (Hey, no shame in that game.) But when the house is yours, the desire to see it as clean and sparkling as it can possibly be is strong — and you might have no idea where to start or how to go about getting your clean on.

Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and remind yourself that nobody knows how to do everything. Then follow these tips for homeowners that will outline exactly how to go about deep-cleaning any home … and how to maintain it so that next time you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

Make a list, then divide and conquer

The most overwhelming part of deep-cleaning is undeniably the moment when you start to realize just how much there is to do. Before you even let yourself go there, stop and make a list of everything you need to do.

  • Begin by listing all the rooms in your house. Include a space for your garage, the basement or the attic (if you have one) and for outdoor living spaces like porches, balconies or decks.
  • Start listing what needs to be done in each of those spaces. Before you know it, you’ll have a comprehensive list of absolutely everything that you need to do to get your house as clean as it’s ever been.
  • After you’ve got your master list, start dividing it up. You can assign different rooms to other household members who are helping with the massive clean or divide it by day of the week so that you’re spacing out your deep cleaning in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you.

Start at the top

Gravity can be your friend or your enemy when you’re cleaning a house. You can avoid a lot of heartache by understanding this truth and beginning your work at the top of each room, moving your way down. 


That way any dust you're knocking loose from high shelves or light fixtures will land on a floor that you haven't yet cleaned instead of a floor you just finished mopping.

It might help to organize your list from literal top to bottom before you even walk into the room. That way you can easily run down the list in order without messing up an area you just cleaned.

Declutter, declutter, declutter

When you have a lot of stuff — books, clothes, sports equipment, pots and pans, whatever — then cleaning around all of it becomes a challenge. The first step in any room should be a sweep to assess what you use and what you haven’t touched in a year or more. Anything that falls into the latter category should be considered for disposal — give it to a friend or donate it if you like.

It may feel painful to part from your things, but keeping your house looking neat and clean will be so much easier if you can power through the hard part and let go. Get serious about decluttering now so that your home will look cleaner and more presentable forever.

Clean your screens and windows

Let’s be honest: Cleaning screens and windows can be a real pain, which is probably why it doesn’t get done very often. 

But it makes a huge difference in the quality of light that pours through those windows, and it's well worth addressing at least once a year.
While you’re washing the windows, make sure you’re paying some attention to the windowsills both inside and outside the house.
Don't forget the light fixtures

Windows aren’t the only factors influencing the quality of light in your house. Your light fixtures might be dusty or dirty and you wouldn’t even notice because they’re so far above your head. Make sure that you’re removing and cleaning light fixtures in each room, drying them thoroughly before you replace them.

Organize, organize, organize

If you just moved in, then the odds are good that you’ve still got a box or two packed up and stashed away in a closet. Deep cleaning means deep organization, so if the stray-box theory sounds a lot like you, then it’s time to finally finish the job.

Even if you've already unpacked absolutely everything, this is still a good time for you to figure out how you're going to establish a place for everything and everything in its place.
Once you have an organizational system that works, be it for your bookshelves or your toolshed, then all you have to do to keep everything spiffy is to follow that system.
Tackle the kitchen appliances

If your microwave is crusty, then odds are good that your other kitchen appliances could also use some attention. The oven, the stove and the refrigerator are usually the dirtiest appliances in the house, so make sure you’re putting them on your rotating “to clean” list — and stick to it.

Some newer refrigerators include easy-to-remove shelves and door inserts that you can clean in the dishwasher. If you’re due for a fridge upgrade soon, then look for a model that has some of those cleaning-friendly features.

Power wash

While you’re sprucing up the outside, rent or borrow (or buy) a power washer and tackle the house itself. You will be amazed how much dust and dirt accrues on the outside of your house, the deck, the porch, and other areas — washing it off can make your house look like it’s got a brand-new paint job, plus you’ll be eliminating any cobwebs in the bargain.

Make it a habit

If you only do all of these things to your house once a year, then it’s not going to stay clean for very long. 

Keep your list of rooms and think about your daily and weekly schedule, then try to squeeze in some deep-cleaning work every now and again.
You’ll find that your entire house stays cleaner for longer, and any special-event deep cleaning that you might have to do will be much easier when you have a plan for upkeep.
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What Your Agent Should Do For You?

What Your Agent Should Do For You?

Just like in any other profession, there are good real estate agents … and there are, unfortunately, subpar real estate agents, too. But how do you know if you’ve got a dreamboat or a dud handling your real estate transaction? One way to know whether you’ve got a good agent (or not) is to consider some of the tasks and activities that a really good agent will manage for a client, then apply what you’ve learned to your own agent. If you don’t have time to track down all of the things that a good agent should be doing for a buyer or a seller, then you’re in luck: We’ve compiled a list so you don’t have to.
Ask you about your homeownership needs (and hopes)

It’s dangerous to make assumptions at the best of times, but when it comes to shopping for a home, assumptions are downright dangerous. So if you have an agent who assumes … everything … be wary.

A good agent should ask you questions -- lots of them -- about where you've lived, what you liked and disliked about both the home and the neighborhood, where you work, how long you plan to stay there, your future family plans, and more.

This is all to the greater good of helping you find the right place and possibly revealing a neighborhood or property type that wasn’t on your radar: Start here

Recommend a mortgage broker

If you don’t already have a mortgage broker to help you with your loan, then your real estate agent should be providing referrals for someone trustworthy. (And any agent worth his or her salt should definitely ask if you’re pre-approved!)

Real estate agents work on real estate transactions every day, and they have contacts who can help with mortgage, title, appraisals, inspections, and beyond. Use them!

Give you feedback on the neighborhoods

Unless you’ve lived in a neighborhood your entire life — and even then! — there will still be things to learn about the place where you’re buying your home. 

A good real estate agent should be able to answer your questions and explain how each neighborhood compares against the others.

You’ll probably have questions about everything from where to buy groceries to where to walk to dog to what people do for fun on weekends, and your real estate agent should help answer those questions.

Help you find a home

You might think that finding a home is as easy as looking it up on the internet, and for some lucky people, maybe it is. But most buyers have to check out endless potentially unsuitable homes before they find “the one” that’s their long-term best fit, and pictures (especially on the internet) can be deceiving.

An agent should hook you up with an MLS feed that will alert you when a home that meets your criteria hits the market — and agents should also help you come up with alternate strategies if the going is just too tough in your price range.

Price the home correctly
  • For sellers, this is one of the most critical jobs that your agent will complete — and if they don’t do a good job, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars. Pricing the home correctly right out the gate is absolutely vital to selling the home quickly and for fair-market value.
  • Some agents will inflate the possible sales price and tell sellers that they can always reduce the price if they don’t get an offer. Although this is certainly true, those agents are misrepresenting a bigger truth: your listing is going to get the most attention from qualified buyers within the first 48 hours of hitting the market. 
  • It’s not typically wise to go with the agent who offers the highest sales price; instead, ask prospective agents how they calculated that sales price, whether it lines up with the typical price-per-square-foot in your area, and how long homes priced in that range tend to stay on the market.
Market the home well

One reason why sellers hire a real estate agent in the first place is that the agent has a marketing platform to use to advertise the home for sale. Some homes require more marketing than others, but agents should have a plan to market every home they list. 

And marketing goes far, far beyond "put it on the MLS, Zillow, and -- then pray you get a qualified buyer."

If you don’t know the listing agent’s plan to market your home — or worse, if you don’t think the agent has a plan at all — then that’s a huge sign that your agent might not be the best fit for you.

Help you pick an inspector

When a buyer is financed for a home loan, the lender is going to want to know that the investment is solid — that the house doesn’t have any major issues, for example. That’s where the inspector comes in, and the inspector will have to enter the picture before closing.

Your real estate agent should help you find an inspector and answer any questions you have about whether the inspector’s price tag is reasonable.

Attend the appraisal

A lot of agents do not consider attending the appraisal to be particularly pressing — and that’s fine. 

But if the appraisal comes in under the sales price and there were no agents present to answer questions or help the appraiser figure out the home's value, then you've got a problem that might not be very easy to solve.

Many buyer’s agents will make a point to attend the appraisal and make sure that the appraiser has access to everything he or she needs and can get any information necessary to complete the appraisal thoroughly. Is yours one of them?

Communicate, communicate, communicate

A lot can change between putting an offer on a home and actually moving in. 

The real estate agent should be the person who knows all of the different parts and pieces of the transaction -- and is willing to serve as the point of communication between them.

If the appraisal is delayed, or there’s an issue with the loan, then the agent is one who is communicating that information to the people on each side who need to know. An agent’s job is to make the transaction easier for you, and that typically means managing the messages for everybody.

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