Ahhh-Spring!! Yes, it’s Spring Time in Real Estate and the market is starting to bloom. You are going to see more activity, more homes on the market and of course more open houses.
As a potential buyer and Open House visitor, how do you best prepare for your Open House Tour visits?
When you enter a home, especially when the weather is wet, and shoes and boots can be muddy, snowy or salty, be sure to be prepared to remove footwear or to use shoe covers.
The agent host will most likely ask you to sign in. Please do be accommodating. We are in homes alone greeting people we don’t know and we want to feel safe when you stop by. If you are already working with an agent, you can sign your name and your agents name.
We love when neighbors come to visit! After all, if you love where you live, you will share the information about the home with friends and family.
When you come as a group, please stay together-again, safety is our #1 concern.
We also love to see kiddos come along. It’s especially fun when they start picking out their rooms! And it’s enticing to them when they see other little ones toys there. But we do discourage allowing them to play with the toys-after all, you would feel terrible if something we to get broken.
We sometimes serve refreshments at an open house, with our sellers permission. We just ask they stay in the kitchen area.
Please feel free to open closets and cupboards in the bedrooms and kitchen; you do want to see the space. If the home is occupied, we do discourage, however, handling the sellers personal items or opening the medicine cabinets in the bathrooms.
And even though there truly are emergencies, especially with little ones in tow, please try to be respectful about using the facilities. If a mess is made, please be sure to clean up.
Even though these have been designated as Open House Etiquette Tips, many of these can also be applied when you are looking at homes with your agent as well.
The winter season is a great time to look at homes and to make a purchase. Right now, many homes are cozy, warm and all decked out in their holiday finery. In addition, the rates are still great, even though they have been starting to inch up a bit.
You’ll find there is less competition from other buyers. Many take some time away from house hunting because of the busyness of the season. When you find the home you like in the spring market, there is a higher probability that you will face multiple offers, especially with the rates on the rise. Everyone will be scrambling to make an offer.
As you contemplate whether or not to continue your home buying search, consider taking some time to keep looking. Plan your searching for daylight hours; some homes are not occupied and may not be plowed, shoveled or well lit.
In late April of 1991, I was in the second real estate class. What an eye opening experience this was. Like most of us, I had no idea what was involved in this business, or what kind of an impact the real estate industry has. These classes, I was to find out later, were only the tip of the iceberg. The classes really don’t prepare you at all for the business…they mostly just get you licensed.
I was excited to begin my second class…I still went every Tuesday and Thursday, took tons of notes, read and re-read everything and recorded it all so I could listen to them in the car when I was driving. It was tedious, but I was determined. I had made up my mind not to have to take the test more than once; I had heard it was long and tricky. There was no computer testing then, we went to a classroom at Penn State Behrend armed with #2 pencils and a 4 ½ hour time slot.
Before I got to that, I had to get through the class and pass that test…and I did! There was a week-long break and then on the following Saturday, there was the Exam Prep class. The instructor went over what would most likely be the highlights of the test. It was very helpful and at the same time overwhelming. It was starting to really settle in that they allotted 4½ hours for a reason-they cover a lot of material!
My test time and date was scheduled for the following Saturday morning. We were told it was ok to continue to study through the week, but on Friday night-stop, put everything away and give our minds a break. We would have absorbed everything we could by then, and cramming the night before would do more harm than good. Even though I was nervous, I felt that I had done all I could to prepare. I studied through the week, stopped on Friday and took a break.
It was a nice sunny Saturday in late May and I was off to take this test…I was ready. I took the entire 4 ½ hours and was one of the last students to leave the classroom. Others just seemed to breeze right through it and got done quickly. Finally, I turned the test in and left. On the ride home I popped a tape back in the cassette player to see if anything sounded familiar and maybe get a clue as to how well I did. I would have to wait 2 full weeks for the test results to come in the mail. By the time I got home, I had quite the headache. All the stress seemed to just pile up and all I wanted to do was take the rest of the day off, but the kids and I had made plans for that afternoon, so off we went. And thank goodness we did-I really needed that time to decompress and take my mind off of that morning and the next 2 weeks of waiting.
And then the suspense continued….
Yes, Spring has finally arrived! Soon enough, it will be time for spring clean-up and freshening up your homes curb appeal. Whether or not you are planning a move this year, these simple, affordable tips will help improve your home’s perceived value.
The first thing to do is rid your yard of its winter debris; sweep up the sidewalks and the steps. Twigs, leaves, and trash that have been blown around during the winter months can be raked away. The first cut of the lawn will give it an even, manicured look. You will also want to pull the weeds before they get ahead of you, trim back shrubs and hedges and fill them in with fresh mulch.
Next, cleaning the windows will add sparkle. Pick a nice warm day and wipe away that winter grime! Touch up any exterior painting that needs done, update the weather worn mailbox, replace worn out house numbers, and when the weather is right, add the new flowers to window boxes and garden beds.
Finally, evaluate the condition of the roof, gutters, walkways, and driveway to make sure they are in good condition.
A clean and neat exterior will give the impression of how well its kept inside.
After sitting through the first 30 hours of real estate classes, the next step was to take the test so I could move on to the next 30 hours. I started with the Fundamentals portion of the classes which included general real estate information to give an overview of the business. There was a math portion with formulas and calculations, different types of financing we may see, what to expect when you are part of an office and some of the policies and procedures they may have in place, becoming acclimated to the different terms and language we would hear-basically the foundations of where we would start in building a business. There was discussion on how to generate business, taking “phone time”, taking an office tour to see the new listings that week and office meetings. What I wasn’t taught in the classes was how to actually “do” real estate. That would come later.
When I passed this portion, there was a deep sigh of relief, “I’m halfway there”…or so I thought. The next 30 hours, the state portion, was then scheduled to begin. I was ready! I had passed the first part and was getting really excited to begin this new path I had started on. Almost everyone was excited for me as well, except for a bit of tension at home.
I was ready for this new chapter of my life. I knew where I was going to work and every time I saw one of their real estate signs I got even more excited. I started to really pay attention to the properties that were for sale, the ads in the Sunday paper (the Saturday House to Home hadn’t started yet), I popped into the occasional Open House and just kept listening to my tapes and reading my notes. I figured even though I had passed the first test I could still absorb more.
The state portion of the test proved to have much more detail than the general portion. Ethics, Fair Housing, and some of the legal terminology that we might encounter was presented to us in this class. A few of the topics that were discussed here were different types of deeds and how buyers might take title to their property. There was no Buyer’s Agency yet, so how to work with buyers and sellers with sub agency was also taught. I was still taking tons of notes and recording them so I could listen to the cassettes when I was in my car. I was determined!
Next step- pass this portion and become a Realtor!
So you've decided to make a move and sell your house. I’m sure you have a to-do list of minor repairs and updates to get your home ready, and be the “Shiny Penny” on the market. In addition to your to-do list, it's also important to know what not to do. I’ve listed a couple of tips to help you.
1. Don't over-improve.
As you are preparing to put your home on the market, look at it with what I call “Buyer’s Eyes”. What will the buyer see when they drive up, enter the home, and take a look around? Updating the appliances, adding a fresh coat of paint or replacing the worn or dated carpet is always a good idea. However, it's important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are to your taste, but not necessarily to the taste’s of others. A good example would be totally re-finishing a basement when a moderate update would do. Your specific taste may not meet their needs, and may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don't go overboard. Keep it simple.
2. Don’t over-decorate.
The key word here would be “neutral”. I, personally, love a lot of color and my home is very bright and cheery, however it is certainly not to everyone’s taste. When getting your home ready to sell, the best thing to do is tone down the color scheme and remove some of the decor. Not only will this make it more neutral and photogenic, but it will also help to overcome the objection of buyers having to spend time and money to repaint. Don’t worry that the buyers won’t get to see all of your favorite treasured pieces-they are there to see the home and imagine how their things will fit in the space.
3. Don't hang around.
When you get the call that your home is going to be shown, be sure to make arrangements for you and your pets to leave. I love my two kittens, but not everyone feels the same. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be followed around by you or the pets. If they have questions, their agent will ask your agent. It's very uncomfortable for the prospective buyers to look around while someone else is there. Leave the house and take your pets with you. If for whatever reason it is impossible for you to leave, stay out of the way and let the buyers and their agent look at their leisure.
4. Don't take things personal.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is an emotional experience. When selling your home, don’t take it personally or be offended if a buyer makes an offer you don’t like. Buyers often like to make low offers or ask for some improvements to be made. Remember, if they’ve taken the time to sit down and put an offer on paper, they are interested. No matter what the offer, it is best to make a counter offer and not flat out reject it.
5. Don’t presume a buyer can look past the clutter.
You may still be occupying the home, but you need to take some time to prepare your home and put it “in showing” condition. One of the easiest things I have had clients do is keep a tote handy and when they have an appointment they can put all of their everyday items in the tote and take it with them. A couple of other points to remember: empty the trash cans, clean up after the dog and clean out the litter box. If the home is vacant, don’t try to save a few dollars by keeping the heat down, the AC off, leaving the sidewalks and driveway covered in snow or not tending to the lawn.
27 years ago this month, I started my real estate classes. My decision was made…my new career would be in real estate. The big deciding factor was at 37 years old, I really didn’t want to incur that much college debt. I had always loved the idea of teaching, but that amount of debt at that age just plain scared me!! So, I sent in the check to get started in real estate and found out where I needed to report for my first 30 hours. There were no online classes then, so they were all classroom hours. My site was in Village West on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I look back at this time and realize how unprepared I was! I thought I had asked all of the right questions: I wanted to know how a new agent generated business, what kind of hours I was going to put in, and what was expected of me at the office as part of the team. It never occurred to me to ask about how an agent was paid. Even though I was currently self-employed, it was on a much smaller scale. I didn’t ask about tax ramifications, dues, expenses, self-promotion-all of the things that are an important part of the business. I jumped right in and I suppose that was probably a good thing. If I had known too much I may have just changed my mind!!!
I will never forget my first day of class. The instructor had each of us introduce ourselves and say why we wanted to be in real estate. So many different answers! Some were already investors that wanted to be able to find really good investment properties, some had retired and thought it would be a nice little part time job. Me? I wanted a career and a paycheck! I also wanted to make sure I could continue to work my schedule around my family, something I had gotten used to being in direct sales. I was going to continue with my direct sales business while I was in class and for several months after.
Because I was in the car so much driving to my Home Interior shows, I decided to tape record-on my cassette recorder-my notes after each class and listen to them while I was driving as a study aide. That was extremely helpful in remembering the content of the classes each day. I knew there would be a big test at the end, and I am terrible test taker…I freeze!! I wanted to make sure I passed it the first time…Next month, the classes continue!
When sellers are thinking of making a move, I’m often asked when would be the best time to put their home on the market. I also often hear that they would like to wait until spring because that seems to be when more buyers are looking to buy.
In the world of Real Estate, the spring market starts now. Buyers start looking in
❄️January and February because they want to move in the spring. A well appointed and well priced home 🏡will sell in any season. But if you are waiting until spring for the abundance of buyers that are going to be starting their searches, you may miss them if you wait until April or May. Those buyers are looking now.👀
There are a few key points when getting your home ready to sell this time of year. Make sure exterior maintenance is in place-plowing and shoveling will make your home more attractive and much safer to show. You will want to have the entry well lit so buyers and their agents can see clearly and also so agents can see to open the lockbox.
Once inside, your home should be bright and warm. You want the buyers to feel comfortable so they want to stay and look, not leave quickly because the heat is turned down.
When it’s cold outside you can make your home feel cozy by just adding some décor items such as comforters or throws, and using warm colors for tablecloths, placemats and candles.🕯️
So, when is the best time to put your home on the market? Whenever you want to move, and right now is the best time to attract all of those buyers looking to move soon-and you may even be one of those buyers. Contact me if you would like to know more about preparing your home for the spring market, or how to start your new home search. Happy Spring!!🌳