An Open Letter from an Agent to Anyone Considering Selling Their Home

So you’re thinking about selling your home? I realize you didn’t arrive at this decision lightly, and that you might be nervous or scared. There are so many things that are probably going through your head right now. I’d like to help you by offering some advice, and hopefully putting your mind at ease.

First, do some research.
It’s important for you to understand how much money you can expect to get for your home. We need to be realistic. Unfortunately, checking online sites like Zillow or Trulia isn’t going to give you the most accurate picture of your home’s value. This is why it’s important to sit down with a real estate agent that understands the market and will give you a realistic home value estimate by comparing similar properties that have recently sold in your area.

This meme is pretty funny (and rather sarcastic)… but at the same time, it illustrates a painful reality.

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Discuss your situation.
Discussing your situation with a real estate agent will also help you identify any other aspects of the transaction that you might be forgetting. For instance, there might be something glaringly obvious that could get in the way of a smooth home inspection that you might not be considering… or, on the other hand, a unique feature that your home might have which could help maximize its value. Also, discussing the process with an agent will help you understand how much money you can expect to walk away with after the closing.

Considering braving it alone?
If you’re considering selling your home without an agent, remember that you’re doing so at your own risk. There are quite a few things that can go wrong (many of them legal) which an agent is trained and perfectly set up to handle. Also, do you really want to deal with random strangers showing up at random times throughout the day, wondering whether they’re even qualified to buy a house or if they’re just bored and looking for something to do?

Or said a different way…

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Let an agent worry about these things; you’ll thank yourself later.

Pick the right agent.
Working with the right person can mean the difference between a smooth transaction and a less-than-memorable experience. How do you pick the right one?

First, make sure you feel comfortable with the person. You might spend a lot of time with them, so it’s important that you have a rapport.

Secondly, if the agent is giving you some inconvenient feedback or information, don’t dismiss them. The best agents will tell you the truth because they understand that setting the right expectations is more important than promising you the world.

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Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Lastly, ask as many questions as you need to until you feel comfortable with your level of understanding. The right agent will be patient with you and will understand just how big of a deal this is.

Don’t stress!
This might be easier said than done, but try to keep things in perspective. Your home is probably your most valuable asset and the most consequential transaction that you’ll ever work on. But people buy and sell their homes every day, and there’s a very comprehensive system in place that helps facilitate those transactions. Your agent will help guide you through the process and will help you feel at ease. Remember, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last person to feel the stress.

Expect the unexpected.
It would be lovely if I could promise you that everything will go perfectly smooth, but it rarely does. Obstacles almost always come up during a real estate transaction, but that doesn’t mean you should pull your hair out worrying. Agents know there will be bumps in the road, and they’ll also know how to get over them and get your home sold with as little stress for you as possible.

So don’t stress, be realistic, find the right agent to help, and remember that small hiccups are just part of the transaction.

And by the way, feel free to give me a call. 🙂

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare their house for sale. If you’re thinking about selling your starter home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy!  How To Prepare Your House For Sale

The post An Open Letter from an Agent to Anyone Considering Selling Their Home appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Eliminate Pet Odors In Your Home

Eliminating bad odors from your home is incredibly important, you want to make sure you’ve removed them before putting it on the market. Often times, the first thing buyers notice upon entering your home, is how it smells. If there is an odd odor, it will instantly put them off. No matter how beautifully staged and presented it is, strong odors or stale air can make your home unappealing to prospective buyers. Opening windows and exhaust fans will only go so far in removing foul odors, but won’t generally eliminate it completely. To ensure you don’t lose potential buyers, follow these odor eliminating tips to ensure your home smells and feels fresh and new.

Don’t Use Artificial Freshening Sprays
Don’t make the mistake of spraying artificial room freshener sprays in hopes that it will remove the bad odor. Deodorizers will quickly fade, and only mask the smell, sometimes in an overwhelming way. If a buyer walks into your home, your air freshener can cause a reaction, like a runny nose or a headache, and will make them suspicious of an underlying foul odor. Instead of trying to mask it, locate the actual source of the bad odor and get rid of it.

Best Pet Carpet Cleaners for Accidents
We all love our furry friends, but unfortunately, they can get your home pretty smelly. Whether the smell is on the carpet, furniture, or even on the walls – it’s essential to have it removed. Most odors stem from accidents. You always want to attend to the accident right away. Blot them with a paper towel and use mild dishwashing liquid to help remove the odor. Once completely cleaned, blot again with fresh paper towels to dry the spot. If the accident is not recent, use an enzyme cleaner to eat the bad bacteria. Another great idea is to use activated charcoal. It is a form of carbon that has been activated to make it extremely porous. You can get activated charcoal meant for pet odors at most pet stores.

Green Cleaning Products
Using natural odor eliminators is a great green alternative to most of the chemicals sold at stores. One of the most recommended products is to use baking soda. You can place an open box of it in a room to help absorb unwanted smells. It also helps to remove musty aroma in dark spaces, like a basement. On top of being used to remove pet odors, it also works great for cigarette smells. If you don’t wish to use baking soda, most pet supply stores will have green cleaning products that help remove odors, while still being safe for your household.

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What To Do With That Small Bathroom?!

small bathroom

Is your bathroom small? It’s the worst, isn’t it? I bought my DREAM HOME back in July and the master bathroom I found out used to be the walk in closet… explains SO MUCH!!!!!

Unfortunately, small bathrooms are very common, and are usually the smallest rooms in the house (besides linen closets…which I will TOTALLY write about soon). I can almost bet that it almost always feels cramped and tight in there. Although the square footage doesn’t change, a change of organization and storage space can make a drastic change to how your bathroom feels.  Here are a few tips and tricks to make your bathroom space feel more functional and spacious.

  •  Medicine Cabinet
    If you have a regular mirror, replacing it with one that includes a medicine cabinet and provide further storage space. You can really get creative here… I have seen some Pinterest worthy ideas where they actually build a medicine cabinet into the wall between the studs and put a hinged mirror on the exterior as the door.  Cool huh?! Sign me up!!! I’m all about hiding the things that dont need to be seen in a bathroom… you know what I mean? 🙂

  • Shelving

    I get excited when I talk about shelving.  I literally could not talk enough about how much I LOVE floating shelves on wall.

    If you have free space above your toilet, vanity, or other another empty part of the wall, install shelving units. Purchase a few decorative baskets to maximize shelf space.  This is another area where you can Pinterest to your hearts content and get some really creative ideas.  A shelf with a bar below it and you can hang a few baskets to hold things or stagger the shelves so you can maximize the space and add wall decor to complete the look.  So many viable options with shelving, its basically a no-brainer!

    Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash
    Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash 
  • Hooks
    With a few decorative hooks, in a style of your preference, you can declutter by placing a couple on the back of the door to hang towels or robes. Perhaps one or two right next to each end of the shelving unit you just installed.

    I have been to several of the “home” stores recently and one of the big things I am seeing are the Knob-style hooks.  They look like doorknobs or big buttons that you hang things on.  This is cool especially for an eclectic or shabby chic decorative style that serves as dual purpose.  It is functional because you can hang things on them and its decorative because it is on the wall so when not being used for hanging, you have something cool to look at!

  • Towel Racks 
    A rack installed inside of you shower can save you space and convenience, also adding an additional shower bar above the original will work nicely. Another idea is installing a few racks a couple of feet above each other or right next on another. If you have an excessive amount of towels, store some of them away in the bedroom closet or get one of the layered towel racks that hang behind the door.  You can get 4 or 5 towels nicely put away but still reachable when needed by using the space behind the door!

  • Vanity with Cabinet
    I have come across plenty of pedestal sinks in small bathrooms, but if you want save some space, add some storage, and upgrade the look of your bathroom at the same time, a vanity cabinet will definitely do the trick. This provides space to put things like toilet paper or cleaning supplies away and out of sight.

The post What To Do With That Small Bathroom?! appeared first on Rhiannon Weitzman, Realtor®.

So about this Christopher Columbus guy…

Here’s a question for you…

Did Christopher Columbus really discover America?

The answer depends on who you ask, or what you read.

But at this point, enough people believe he didn’t even step foot in America, let alone discover it.

So, why does he get celebrated?

Well, even if he didn’t “discover” America, he certainly did other great things worth being recognized for.

Years ago, real estate agents were given credit for “finding” people the perfect house. Then, the Internet made “discovering” almost any house on the market a pretty simple task. Even a novice, with no real estate experience, could find the house of their dreams on their own.

This kinda made people start to question the value of real estate agents…

Made it seem easy.

Well, if it were simply a matter of finding a house, that might be a valid conclusion.

But there’s so much more to it.

Stumbling across America, or a house to buy, is not the same as successfully staking your claim, and making it your new home.

Rather than give a laundry list of what a real estate agent does beyond just helping someone find a house, let’s just paint a quick picture…

You’re on a boat, back in 1492. You’ve sailed the ocean blue. You reached land. Now what? How do you actually make it your new home? Can you possibly anticipate everything you’ll encounter? What do you do first?

Finding a house, or a buyer for your house, is only one small part of the process. For most people, navigating the entire process of buying and selling a house is a whole new world. And that’s where great real estate agents earn their respect.

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Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There are always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…

Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

The post Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home

You don’t need thousands of dollars to fully refurbish your home to make it feel like new again. Instead, you can DIY a lot of features in your house to help spruce it up for the upcoming season. Whether you plan to sell your home, have guests over, or are just tired of how drab it’s been feeling lately, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to refresh your space:

Clean and Declutter
Throw out all of the junk taking up space! You’d be surprised by how much more you’ll fall back in love with your home when you take out the collection of accumulated stuff that has piled up over the years and finally get to see your home’s features for what they are. Store what you don’t need/use in either the attic, basement, or in a storage unit. After you’ve decluttered, be sure to finish it off by cleaning your home. Clean windows, walls, and the floors for the best results.

Bring in Natural Light
Do you have heavy curtains covering your windows? Bring them down! Not only will this make your space feel bigger by removing stuff off the walls, it’ll also feel alive again with all of the natural light that pours in.

Add Fresh Paint
Nothing refreshes a home like a new coat of paint. If you have dark dull colors, opt for lighter tones. Covering up stains on the walls, or drab old paint, can help your house feel brand new all over again.

Add Tile
Consider adding a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get beautiful results. Be sure you get tiles that compliment the colors in the space, so it doesn’t clash and look unappealing.

Add Color
Although neutral colors are always recommended as the base of any home decor, don’t be afraid to compliment your neutrals with a pop of color. You can add it throughout the home by using flowers, pillows, decor, or even light curtains that are staged on the sides of your windows.

Change Out Fixtures and Hardware
You’d be surprised by how much more a kitchen can look different just by replacing the hardware on the cabinets. A bathroom or living room can come alive again by installing a brand new light fixture. If you moved into a place that still has the same stock hardware or fixtures, replace them and add a little creativity with the new pieces you have installed.

Rearrange Furniture
Head to Pinterest and get inspired for new living room, bedroom, or dining room arrangements. Most homeowners decorate “incorrectly” when it comes to standard staging rules. View a variety of furniture set-ups on social media and let it motivate you to rearrange your space. You don’t have to buy a bunch of new furniture to make a drastic change.

The post Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Home Buying in Fall

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There’s always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…
Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home?

Yes!  In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers.  You can also use a buyer’s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home.  An agent can be particularly valuable for directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyer’s concerns.

Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site.  This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy within that community.  Otherwise, if you find a development on your own, make the first visit without the agent, and later make a purchase, the builder may refuse to pay the commission – even if, at some point, the agent became involved in the process.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

The post Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home? appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features

Like the old saying goes, when it comes to homeownership, the most important thing? Location, location, location.

According to a recent report from Realtor.com, getting their kids into the right school was the top priority for a huge portion of buyers. And those buyers were more than willing to give up other features in order to buy a home in their desired school district.

According to the report, a whopping 91% of buyers with children (and 73% of buyers total) said that school boundaries were “important” or “very important” to their search. And of the buyers that purchased a home in their desired school district, 78% willingly gave up desired home features—like a garage, large backyard, or updated kitchen—in order to make sure they got their children into their school of choice.

The Takeaway:
When you invest in a home, make sure it’s in a good school district, whether you have children or not—for many buyers, it’s one point they’re just not willing to negotiate on.

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I Live For Home.

I wish I had something profound to say about how I got into real estate… a sign… some divine intervention leading me to a path I had no Idea would become the best life choice I ever made, but I don’t!  I literally fell into real estate by chance.  The company I had been employed by shut down and I found myself out of work with bills to pay and my former boss felt bad for me so he called in a favor.  My friend’s mother needed a bookkeeper for a part time gig and hired me.  She was a successful real estate agent and I quickly earned my place as her full time assistant.  I learned the business from the ground up and was running the office of a 100+ transaction a year team on the back end.  Life was good; bills were paid; I had stability.

…But…  something was missing.  My drive, my dedication, my focus was on making someone else the hero in so many families stories… I wanted that.  I wanted my own business and to be the boss; but I also wanted that feeling of pure joy when I handed over the keys to my clients at the settlement table and capture the smile on their faces.  I knew NOTHING about sales…or business for that matter.  I had been a nanny, and a student, and a receptionist my entire life… so little knowledge and experience in sales that it was almost laughable when I said I wanted to get my license and become a full time commissioned salesperson!  But I knew I had to try.

Now, I can sit here and tell you that I have all the skills needed to make an amazing agent and that I put in time, energy and effort into being very knowledgeable about the local market and about the industry as a whole, and I do, but more importantly I have a strong desire and passion to help people into home ownership.

Ill tell you a little story, Ill try to make it quick.  My mom never went to college, heck, she tells me she barely passed high school.  We lived in NJ and we were POOR.  We moved to Virginia when I was 6 due to my parents splitting up and we lived in the basement of my aunt’s home while my mom worked three jobs to get us on our feet.  She worked so hard to provide us a life.  It took several years to get her to a point where she had earned enough business cred to get a “big girl” job and I will never forget the day that all of her hard work paid off and we walked through the doors of our very first home.  No basements, no sharing bathrooms or bedrooms with my little brother; we walked through the door of a 3000 square foot home with a backyard and a fence and a garage and my mom just stood there… and cried.  HOME.  Its more that just a building with a mortgage payment attached to it.  HOME.  Its more than 4 walls and paint and appliances.  HOME.  Its everything.  Its family, future, security, independence, lifestyle, design, live, love, grow.  Its HOME and I wanted to relive that feeling over and over and over again.  Ill never forget it.   I got into this business to help others have that feeling.  Its the best!

As a real estate professional, I pride myself on bringing more to the table than just my knowledge of the local market, and the number of homes I have helped people buy and sell over the last several years.  I put you first.  I make you my number one priority.  I take the time to get to know you, your goals, motivations, likes, dislikes and everything else that makes you…well you!  Buying a house is a BIG DEAL!  You need a professional who understands that and all the other factors that go into this exciting experience.  Phone apps and websites with homes for sale cannot provide you the same level of service that a real live person can.  We need to get back to the face to face interaction with real people and that is how I do business.  I would love the opportunity to sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know you… earn your trust and earn your business… and hopefully earn your friendship when it is all over and I get the amazing privilege of handing you the keys to your NextHome.

 

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