Chicago's North Shore - North and Northwest Suburbs Real Estate Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Top Insider Secrets to Preparing Your House For Showing

by Allyson Hoffman

Presentation is everything. Home buyers are attracted to clean, spacious and attractive houses. Your goal is to dazzle buyers. Brighten up the house and remove all clutter from counter tops, tables and rooms. Clean the house from top to bottom and make it sparkle. Simple aesthetic improvements such as trimming trees, planting flowers, fixing broken tiles, cleaning rugs and carpets and even repainting a faded room will greatly enhance the appeal of your house. Also make sure your house smells good. Clean out the cat box and light some mildly scented candles. Invite a trusted friend or neighbour to walk through your house as a buyer would, and get their opinion.

In preparing your private property for sale, consider:

• how much should I spend?

• exterior and curb appeal

• preparing the interior

How much should I spend?

In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren't likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive "polishes" and "touch-ups" to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.

The simplest way to think about how much to spend is to divide your spending into two categories:

• What things, if left unchanged, are going to bring the price down by more than it costs to fix or change them?

• What new changes can I make that will definitely increase the price by more than I pay for them?

The first category tends to be all your 'touch-ups' - fresh coats of paint etc. The second category requires careful thought before you spend - new bathrooms or kitchens or carports. You need to be convinced that (a) you will definitely get a significantly higher price for this effort, and (b) that you don't decrease the pool of people who are potential buyers. (In other words, not everyone wants a pizza oven in the back yard, so your potential buyers pool is decreased.)

Focus on curb appeal

The age-old observation that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" certainly applies when it comes to attracting buyers to a for-sale home. Estate agents understand the power of 'curb appeal;' that initial impression a buyer gets driving up outside your property.

Ever noticed how, after living in a house for a while, you become 'blind' to those niggling details that other people see? To maximize curb appeal, you need to see the exterior of your property with 'fresh eyes;' perhaps ask a good friend for their opinion.

Tips to enhance your home's exterior and curb appeal:

• Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly. (Buy 'Bounce Back' from your local nursery to apply it to make your lawn greener.)

• Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrowth on pathways.

• Consider planting a few lavender bushes around the outside of your garden gate.

• During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance. (Two large pots either side of an entrance always looks good.)

• Basic intercom systems are pretty cheap nowadays; consider installing one at your gate if appropriate.

• Store toys, bicycles, roller-skates, gardening equipment and the like out of sight.

• Have at least the garden gate, the front of your house and the trim painted, if necessary.

• Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.

• Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.

• Sweep the porch and the front walkway.

• Repair and replace loose or damaged roof tiles.

• Re-seal an asphalt driveway.

• Keep your garage door closed.

• Store old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.

All in all, your attention to curb and exterior appeal should translate into excited buyers by the time they enter your home. With no 'cringe factors' outside the house, they are in a great frame of mind entering the house and fully expect a positive experience.

Maximizing interior appeal

There is a lot that you can do to improve the impression the interior of your home gives potential buyers, without getting into major renovations. In general, don't underestimate the power of paint! While we all have different tastes, please be aware that if you have outlandish taste in interior colour, you will be decreasing the pool of potential buyers. In other words, this is not an exercise in expressing yourself creatively; rather it is an exercise in creating an interior that appeals to as many buyers as possible. If necessary, repaint dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.

Here are some of the other 'insider tips' that estate agents use:

Clear out the clutter

Real estate agents say buyers won't purchase a home they can't see. If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won't be able to see your home. Get rid of anything you don't need or use. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms have actually rented storage garages and moved half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, and more spacious look.

Removing less frequently used items from kitchen counters, closets, and attics make these areas much more inviting. Since you're anticipating a move anyhow, holding a garage sale at this point is a great idea.

Use your nose

Many people are oblivious to scents, but others are extremely sensitive to offensive odours. To eliminate bad smells, bathe your pets, freshen the cat litter box frequently, shampoo your carpets, dry clean your drapes, and empty trash cans, recycling bins and ash trays. Place open boxes of baking soda in smell-prone areas, and refrain from cooking fish or strong-smelling foods. Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in your home and using air fresheners. Baking a fresh or frozen pie or some other fragrant treat is another common tactic when expecting buyers.

Make all necessary repairs

Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyers definitely will notice - and likely magnify - minor maintenance problems you've ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you've taken good care of your home.

Here are a few examples:

• Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement.

• Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.

• Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings, and other woodwork. Inspecting and repairing the plumbing, cooling, and alarm systems.

• Repair dripping taps and showerheads.

Keep it spotless

This is often a tricky point for estate agents to make - different people are comfortable living with different levels of cleanliness. To appeal to as many buyers as possible, it is imperative that every inch of your house is clean and grime-free. Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning. Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market. This may be a good investment for owners who are busy elsewhere.

Focus on the 'hotspots'

While all rooms in the home are important, estate agents know that kitchens, bathrooms and master bedrooms are the 'hotspots.' These rooms require special attention. Assuming that you don't do major renovations, here are some ideas:

• Kitchen cabinet and general cupboard doors can be spruced up with a paint technique and new handles.

• Repaint the kitchen and bathroom walls in neutral colour, if necessary.

• Clean all tiling grout using a grout cleaning product. (You can buy grout cleaner from your hardware store.) You'll be amazed how much better your tiles look!

• If your lights are dated, consider replacing them.

• Consider retiling your kitchen and bathroom, if appropriate.

• New curtains in these areas may be a worthwhile investment.Buy new towels for the bathroom, to be brought out only when prospective buyers are on the way.

Image courtesy of *Ann Gordon/Flickr.com

Selling Your Home: 10 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

by Allyson Hoffman

Before you sell, it's a good idea to interview at least two or three different real estate agents. Meet with them individually, and handle each meeting as if you were conducting a job interview (selling your home is an important job, after all!). This checklist will help you evaluate and compare the agents you meet:

1 --Professional

Once you've established the basics (licensing status, etc.), look for other indications that the agent will handle your home sale professionally. Does he or she belong to any local real estate organizations? In Manhattan, for example, The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) tracks credentials and continuing education of its members, and provides many valuable resources for members, sellers, and home purchasers.

What sort of training did the sales agent receive? You'll find that this may range from the minimum required for licensing, to a full-time company training program of six weeks or more. Also ask if the agent has done any advanced training. Perhaps he or she has taken extra courses and exams to become a licensed broker, an accredited home-staging specialist, an appraiser, etc.

Do a bit of research, too, in order to learn as much as you can about the company the agent works for. Is it a company with a strong reputation in your area? Does it specialize in your neighborhood, or your type of property? Does the company provide its sales agents with the most up-to-date technology?

2 -- Knows the Market

In order to price and market your home effectively, your real estate agent will need to have a thorough understanding of your neighborhood in particular, and state of the real estate market in general. Expect to see "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market. And find out what other techniques the agent will use to determine the best price -- and best marketing strategies -- for your home.

Has the agent sold in your neighborhood? Has he or she sold similar types of homes, perhaps in another neighborhood? Has the agent ever lived in your area? Is he or she familiar with the neighborhood schools? Restaurants? Museums? Ask lots of questions to find out how well the agent will be able to represent you, and your home, to prospective purchasers.

3 -- Accessible

Buyers will want to see your property at all times of day -- daytimes, evenings, and weekends. So be sure you hire an agent who is available full time, and accessible to you virtually around the clock to handle any questions you may have, or issues that may arise.

And remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by making your home as accessible as possible for showings -- even when it feels a bit inconvenient to you.

4 -- Good Listener

When you interview real estate agents, give extra points to those who ask as many questions as you do. Did the agent arrive with a 'standard' presentation, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversation?

How interested is the agent in learning your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask about your personal goals and needs? After all, pricing and sales strategies could vary substantially based on what you're looking to accomplish (for example, you may need to sell quickly to meet a job relocation deadline, need to work around an existing tenant, or simply want to make the most profit no matter what the timeline).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!)

Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a final decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 --Team Player

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your sale -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to cleaning services and real estate attorneys.

Be sure, also, that your real estate agent enlists the help of other agents in your area in order to bring you the best buyer. In Manhattan, for example, more than 95 percent of sales are co-broked (one sales agent representing the seller, another the buyer), so it's especially important to work with someone who actively markets to other agents, and other real estate companies.

7 -- Helps Prepare Your Home for the Sale

There are entire books written on how to get your home ready for a sale, so we won't go into great detail here. Be sure to ask your real estate agent whether renovations -- particularly to the kitchen or bathrooms -- make sense. Decide if any re-painting -- or paint touch-ups -- may be necessary to make your home more attractive to buyers.

However you decide to proceed, be sure to follow these four basic steps before inviting buyers in to see your home: 1) de-clutter, to make your rooms seem larger; 2) de-personalize, to keep prospective buyers' attention on your home, rather than on your 'stuff;' 3) repair everything that's not in good working order, from re-caulking to replacing light bulbs; and 4) clean, clean, clean -- until your home literally shines!

8 -- Buyer to Closing

Remember that finding an interested buyer is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to qualify the buyer, negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist the buyer in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with banks and mortgage brokers, any other agents involved in the deal, and with the real estate attorneys, until the sale is complete.

And if you're selling a home in Manhattan, be sure you have a real estate agent who is adept at preparing the materials necessary for the board application package, following through with the management company, and if it's a co-op sale, preparing the buyer for the board interview.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates

Throughout the sales process, ask that your real estate agent stay in touch with you regularly, in the way that's most comfortable to you (in person, or by phone, email, or text messages). He or she should give you regular progress updates, and timely notice of any issues that may arise -- along with potential solutions, of course.

It's also likely that a good real estate agent will suggest changes to sales and marketing strategies along the way. These minor course corrections will help eliminate any less effective efforts, and capitalize on what's working best. The result? Finding the buyer you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship

Don't underestimate the importance of your real estate agent's personality when you choose your selling partner. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with.

Chances are, your home represents the largest purchase you have ever made. What's more, your home is not just a financial investment, but an emotional investment as well. When you decide to sell, be sure to enlist the services of a real estate agent who has the knowledge, experience, and understanding that will be necessary to navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the selling process.

Image courtesy of KERBSTONE/Pixabay.com

Buying a New Home: 10 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

by Allyson Hoffman

Why, then, should a buyer enlist the services of a real estate agent? Here are ten reasons that I think make a lot of sense. After reading them, see if you agree:

1 -- Experience

Purchasing a new home may well be the largest expenditure that you ever make. So it simply makes good business sense to enlist all the help you can get.

A seasoned real estate agent has completed more real estate transactions already this year than you'll likely make in your lifetime. That adds up to a whole lot of knowledge and experience. Experience that can help navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the buying process.

2 -- Knows the Market

A real estate agent will know what's happening in a particular area, or neighborhood, and help you decide if a home you find is a good value. Once you find a property that interests you, your agent will show you "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market.

And if your real estate agent works with an established firm, he or she will have instant access to a host of proprietary tools -- and property information -- that may be difficult, or even impossible, to find on your own. All this information will help you make a well-informed decision.

3 -- Saves Time

A good real estate agent is an organizational genius. He or she will manage to get you in to see new properties as soon as they become available -- and arrange the most appointments possible within your available time slots, no matter how limited.

But remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by being as flexible as possible -- especially when your time is very limited.

4 -- Good Listener

If you decide to use a real estate agent, look for someone who asks as many questions as you do. When you mention a price range, does the agent give you a 'standard' list of available properties, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversations?

How interested is the agent in listening to your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask? After all, your real estate agent's recommendations should vary substantially based on your personal needs and goals (for example, you may be starting a family, need to configure your new home to accommodate an office, need space for your son's new car, or be downsizing).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!)

Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 -- Respects Your Budget

One of the most important things that your real estate agent will do is help you determine how much you can afford to spend. He or she may well ask you to consult with your accountant, financial planner, and/or mortgage broker before you make this important decision.

In some markets, there's a lot more to purchasing an apartment than having cash for the down payment, and securing financing. For example, most Manhattan cooperative buildings ('co-ops'), which account for about 75 percent of the properties in the city, will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and your post-closing liquidity (yes, it can be a bit complicated!).

A good real estate broker will understand the particulars of your market, and help you find a terrific housing solution that you'll be able to qualify for financially -- and that will be possible within your budget.

 7 -- Team Player

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your purchase -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to contractors and designers and real estate attorneys.

8 -- Getting to Closing

Remember that finding the right property is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist you in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with your bank or mortgage broker, any other agents involved in the deal, and with your real estate attorney, until the purchase is complete.

And if you're purchasing a home in Manhattan, be sure you have a real estate agent who is adept at helping you put together the materials necessary for the board application package, following through with the management company, and if it's a co-op purchase, preparing you for the board interview.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates

Throughout the buying process, stay in touch with your real estate agent regularly. He or she should give you regular updates on new properties, any changes in the local real estate market, mortgage rate changes, and so on. And you should update your real estate agent right away should any of your priorities change, or if your research turns up a property you may be interested in seeing. The result of working together closely? Finding just the home you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship

Don't underestimate the importance of personality when you choose your real estate agent. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with.  

Many home buyers try to find the perfect property on their own. No surprise, actually. With internet access to more real estate information than ever before, it's fairly easy for anyone who's computer literate to access a list of available properties in every part of the country.

Image courtesy of ClkerFreeVectorImages/Pixabay.com

Happy Father's Day

by Allyson Hoffman

Happy Father's Day


A Dad is a person
who is loving and kind,
And often he knows
what you have on your mind.
He's someone who listens,
suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one
of your very best friends!
He's proud of your triumphs,
but when things go wrong,
A dad can be patient
and helpful and strong
In all that you do,
a dad's love plays a part.
There's always a place for him
deep in your heart.
And each year that passes,
you're even more glad,
More grateful and proud
just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad...
for listening and caring,
for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!
Happy Father's Day


Poem found at http://www.indianchild.com/fathers_day_poems.htm

Image courtesy of Dagon/Pixabay.com

Going Green At Home - A Home Recycling Plan

by Allyson Hoffman

Everyday we hear of new reports and statistics regarding climate change and global warming. These reports indicate how imperative it is that we all do our part to help preserve this fragile planet we live on. Not everyone knows what they can do, or how to start.

The easiest place to start would be at home. Listed below are few simple things that all homeowners can do to kick start a home recycling plan. Don't feel like you have to do everything at once, unless you want to, which would be great. Implementing a home recycling program  will change some of the current processes in your home, but it shouldn't take long to get use to these new ways of doing things and change your habits.

Curbside or Drop-off Recycling
According to Earth 911, curbside recycling is offered to half the U.S. population which provides homeowners a convenient way to recycle a variety of different materials such as, plastic, paper, aluminum cans, glass bottles and steel/tin cans . For those areas where curbside recycling is not offered, recycling drop-off locations are a fabulous alternative.

Stop Using Plastic Shopping Bags
Plastic bags are not biodegradable and are threatening our marine life and clogging our landfills. A simple step in your home recycling plan would be to stop using plastic shopping bags. There are so many alternative shopping bag sources out there now with many large, and small, stores offering canvas reusable bags for less than a dollar each.

Composting
Composting is a fabulous way to limit the amount of garbage in your garbage cans and ultimately the amount of garbage you add to our landfills. An added benefit of composting is the nutrient-rich fertilizer you will create for your gardens using organic  materials from your home.

For additional information visit Earth 911 or contact your local home waste collection service provider.

Image courtesy of JohnHain/Pixabay.com

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Contact Information

Photo of Allyson Hoffman Real Estate
Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

Listing Alerts

Be the first to know what's coming up for sale in the Chicago Illinois real estate market with our New Property Listing Alerts!

Just tell us what you're looking for and we'll email a daily update of all homes listed for sale since your last update. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get Notifications

Quick Search

Contact Us

There are several ways to reach me. Call me at the number below for the quickest response or click the Contact us Online button. Thank you.

Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
Allyson@Allyson.com

Contact Us Online