April 16, 2016

Open Houses - Visit Inside & Outside

The warmer seasons are here and OPEN HOUSE signs are popping up all over the place on the weekends.  Reports for the weekend's open houses are being pulled by buyers all across the country using their favorite app or site.  They're mapping out the locations, driving out to them, but.... maybe not actually going in.  Hmmm....

Now, this may seem humorous, but my first tip is to actually go into the home.  Yes, I  know... it sounds crazy and funny, but you would be amazed at how many people take their time to map out all the open houses, drive to them, but don't go in.  Sometimes, they'll even stop, open the car door, grab a flyer from the box, but still not go in.  You would be AMAZED at how often the home that a buyer eventually decides on is one they judged by the inside.... not the outside.  For that reason, I always encourage home buyers to definitely go inside even if you're not sure about the outside.

One reason that home buyers may be reluctant to go inside is that they feel they'll be pressured, over-sold to, and the agent will come on too strongly.  My suggestion would be to simply express to the hosting agent your preference on how you like to view homes.  Some people like to self-tour while others like to be given a tour.  The host wants you to be comfortable, so feel free to communicate to them your preference.  The host will always be on hand to provide additional information about the home that you will not get by simply viewing it, so take advantage of that by asking questions throughout your visit.

If you already have a signed buyer's agent agreement with a Realtor, go ahead and share that info with the hosting agent during the introduction.  It's most helpful for everyone to know that in the beginning to make communications more efficient should you want to move forward on the home.  Some agents supply their clients with cards to hand out should the buyer go exploring homes on their own. This is great because it instantly supplies the host agent all the contact info of the buyer's agent.

So, as you embark on your home searching adventure, be sure to include open houses into the plan, and as funny as it may sound... yes... actually go in even if you may not be initially confident with the exterior.  If you have any questions about visiting open houses, and if you would like me to join you (assuming you're not working with another agent), I would be thrilled to show you some homes.  Contact me and we'll get you rolling.

Posted in Buyers
April 13, 2016

Discover The Ultimate Storage Space

As part of the home searching and buying process, people tend to focus on the main living areas of the home - often, the kitchen, family room, and master suite.  Buyers also try to envision their furniture within each living space of the homes being considered, so the concentration of home consideration process occurs within the finished living space.  It's easy to forget that each of us usually has a collection of stuff that doesn't go in the living space, but rather needs to be stored.  Things like holiday decorations, childhood toys, or other decor items that are rotated in and out of the living space throughout the year.  Well, these things will also need space in your new home and that is usually some unfinished space or attic... preferably with easy access (aka walk-through door).  

What I have found is that fabulous storage is frequently on the wish list, but can easily be overshadowed by a super-nice finished living space.  So much so that it's easy for a buyer to forget about checking for storage space while shopping homes and being dazzled by all the nice interiors.  Reminder:  check the homes for storage and see if it matches your needs for space and accessibility.

What's ironic is that when we discover that awesome dreamed-about storage space, the thought that many of us immediately think is:  "We could finish this out!"  Well... yes, you probably can, BUT... if that can be done it may be more in-depth than you think.  Most likely that home's HVAC system has not been sized to include that additional space, so you're probably looking at an upgrade or additional unit for that space.  Also, if you DO finish it... guess what?  You just got rid of the storage space you fell in love with and searched for, so now you may be short on space for the items intended for that area.  

Another thought that almost immediately comes to mind with many buyers is: "Why didn't they go ahead and finish this space when the home was built?"  Well... the short answer is "They've got to stop somewhere", and where they stopped finishing was their optimum combination for living space, storage space, and price.  Why price?  Well, if a builder was to keep finishing all the unfinished spaces those square feet would increase the home's price by the per sq.ft. price times the number of additional sq.ft. being finished thereby adding many thousands of dollars to the home which may put it out of range for the community's target price range.  For example, if a home had 150 sq.ft. unfinished space and someone wonders why it wasn't finished out, that space at $150/sq.ft. would have added $22,500 to the price of the home.  At $200/sq.ft., $30,000.  Even if it wasn't at full per sq.ft. price, it would still be a substantial increase in price on the home, so there's a target balance of living space, storage space, and price of the home.

Another aspect of storage space in a home is how usable it is.  Is it one big room, or allocated into many different areas?  Storage space in a home is often a byproduct of a home's roof design and may not actually be something that was "purposefully designed".  If you have a home design with a lot of different roof angles, the home's storage space may be divided among many different areas (you usually see a lot of small access doors).  Another thing to consider is how easily are the storage areas accessed, and what size objects do you need to store.  Is access a full size door, a small door, or attic drop-down stair set?  All of those will come into play while comparing a home's storage spaces with your belongings intended for storage.

All of this may help provide some helpful awareness for when you go home shopping.  If you have additional questions about homes, selling, or purchasing, please contact me any time and I'll be happy to help.

Posted in Buyers, Real Estate
April 11, 2016

Take It Before You List It

Fixtures

Let me set the stage for this with the following.  You walk into a store and see... let's say... a couple shirts for sale.  You look at one, kind of like it, but move on to looking at the next one.  While you're doing that, someone else starts looking at the first shirt.  They pick it up, and it's the last one of that type.  All of a sudden... you find yourself wanting that shirt to the point you're secretly hoping they'll put it back down on the rack.  They don't.  They take it.  Now, all the other shirts you look at pale in comparison to the first one, but they ALL would have been just fine had you not been comparing them to the first one you saw and lost out on.  Okay... keep all that in mind as we move forward.

As offers are written on homes for sale, there can often be special requests for things to remain with the home.  In our area, our purchase agreement includes a substantial paragraph specifying a group of items that are to remain with the home.  Most of the items could already be assumed to be considered part of the home, but as disputes arise, the document increases in size to clarify.  Listed are items such as lighting, window treatments, pool equipment, built-in appliances, etc.  If left unedited, all those items are to be left with the home by the seller.  Exclusions and changes can be part of the negotiation.

Frequently though, there may be some items that a seller wants to take with them and those items may be included in the pre-printed list of items that are to remain with the home.  It may be for sentimental reasons, or perhaps the item cannot be replaced and it is the sellers favorite item.  All of those reasons are perfectly fine... but the removal of those items needs to be handled correctly which can include these approaches:

  1. Remove it now before you list or show the home. This prevents any potential confusion because the items a seller wishes to take with them have been uninstalled prior to listing or showing the home.   In some cases, if it's a light fixture the seller has installed another one in its place, but other times it could be a fountain, drapes, etc. that are simply being removed.  The reason I suggest this route of action strongly is because it prevents the scenario of the shirts described above.  Remember that?  If a buyer sees the home with the items in it, then not including those items can possibly interfere with what normally could be a smooth sale and they can end up being negotiated in as part of the purchase while the seller may feel stressed to agree in order not to lose the sale.  If you want it... take it now... before you list and show.
  2. Okay, if for some reason #1 wasn't your preference, then you can of course write it into the purchase agreement that certain items do not remain with the home.  This is a common practice but can result in a tougher negotiation to include those items.  Remember the shirt analogy above?  Once something is seen and then cannot be had, it can make for an interesting process.  If you absolutely have to... then use this option and write it into your agreement.  Don't forget though, or you may by a default in the agreement be leaving these items behind.

There are also of course the cases where sellers wish to take items and it really doesn't matter to the buyer, so they easily come to an agreement.  As a seller, you won't know your scenario until you're in it, so make this part of your pre-listing planning.  If there are any items that are not going to be sold with the home, remove them.  If they are logical components that one would expect to be included such as lighting, replace your favorite one with an alternate model so the home is complete when sold.

 

Posted in Buyers, Sellers
April 10, 2016

10 Tips to Selling Faster and for More Money

10 Home Selling Tips

As a home seller, you're not putting your home on the market to sit.  You want it to sell in an efficient manner which means in a reasonable amount of time AND while bringing you a great sales price.  Creating demand for your home is what will help make that happen, so it's time to put yourself in the driver's seat of being a buyer and thinking objectively how you would see your home.  Okay... it's almost impossible for a seller to objectively look at their own home, but you'll have to try and probably take some hard advice from a professional who is trying to help you conquer your goal of prepping and selling.  To help get you in the mindset, here are a few (but there are many more) tips to get your home ready to make a great impression.

  1. Make It Bright - Homes with a lot of light are naturally welcoming and feel larger.  Buyers feel great in bright homes and ALWAYS comment on a home flooded with light.  If your home design doesn't include lots of windows, then consider additional lamps to help bring up the light level (and ensure they're on for showings).  Also confirm all bulbs are functioning because burned out bulbs make a poor impression.
  2. Clean Those Windows - It's not a task everyone loves, but giving buyers a clear view through your windows will help make a great impression that your home is cared for.  Take a look at your windows at various times of day too because a setting sun can quickly make dirty windows worse and even spotlight streaking from cleaning attempts.
  3. Say Goodbye to Home Smells - Most homes have some sort of smell.  The popular response to this is "mine doesn't"  You might be right... or you may have simply acclimated to it so you no longer notice it.  Either way, this needs to be confirmed.  Smells can be a top turn-off to buyers.  These may include pet odors, musty odors, tobacco smells, and more.  Now, before you go breaking out those industrial deodorizers... beware that those to can send up red flags.  Buyers will wonder what you're covering up.  The answer is to properly neutralize the cause and take proper measures for clean up even in areas it may have penetrated (wood, carpet, etc.).
  4. Paint It! - How much?  Well, that depends on how dated or how worn your home is.  If you're home is severely out of date with paint trends, then perhaps a thorough painting is order.  If you're still in the trend zone, then let's get things touched up.  Those scuffs on the walls and baseboards you've been overlooking... buyers will be considering those as lack of care for the home.
  5. Start Disconnecting - You're trying to convince another family that the home will be great for them, right?  Well, let's start by not reminding them the home is YOURS.  It's easier for their imaginations to see their family in the home without reminders that your family is there.  No, it doesn't require a complete move-out, but start packing up those family photos, big wall-size award-displays, personalized wall clings, as well as anything else that stakes YOUR claim on the home.
  6. Make It Big! - How does a space appear bigger?  Yes, lighter paint too, but I was thinking more about having less stuff in that space.  In other words, some of your stuff needs to be packed up and either sold or stored off-site.  If buyers see your home packed to the gills with stuff, guess what... they will think their stuff won't fit.  Your home needs to display all the space it genuinely has... only without your stuff filling it.  That doesn't mean shove it all in closets and the attic because buyers look there too.  Get rid of it, or store if off-site.
  7. Curb Appeal - If there's one thing about home shopping that a seller should remember, it's that a buyer will often not even consider a home if they don't like the outside.  Even with a showing scheduled, some buyers (with an agent) will pull up to the curb and say "nevermind" if they don't like the exterior or feel the home has been neglected.  The exterior (front elevation) is usually what is displayed in online listings as well, so you better make it good.  It may be your only shot with buyers who are skimming the thumbnail images online.  This should include everything on the exterior including the home & landscaping.  Pay special attention to your entrance (make that front door area spectacular) for those who do make it for a showing.  This will provide an outstanding first impression.
  8. Make the Quirks Vanish - You know all those little things like squeaks and adjustments you've been living with for years?  Well... those are new to a buyer and will not be overlooked, but instead will be perceived as lack of care.  Spend some time and get those things oiled and adjusted.  Doors - including walk-through doors and cabinet doors - should work properly and quietly.  Same for everything else.  Floor squeaks?  Sometimes those have an easy fix, so consult with your handyman, and make visits by buyers a great one.
  9. Showcase It! - Often times homeowners tend to accumulate things of all sorts which can lead to a hodge-podge arrangement within the home that may not result in one coherent theme for the home.  To some, this could look messy, and while they are not purchasing your personal things, the display of them can impact their impression of the home.  After your decluttering (#6 above), consider using a stager to help get your home in display shape.  This doesn't have to include the import of furniture.  Many times, a stager can simply advise on the best way to arrange your own belongings to make the best impression with a buyer.
  10. Use Logic With Pricing - If you genuinely want to sell your home, then price it correctly and competitively.  There's not a seller out there who doesn't want to get the most they can, but the reality is that if a seller prices a home in hopes of getting a price equivalent to winning the lottery, they are doing everyone a disservice.  Priced too highly, the home will sit on the market, accumulate days on the market, deter buyers from even coming to see it, and most of all it will frustrate you (if you really want to sell). Another catch to that is that even if a buyer does offer the lottery-level price, if they are using financing for the purchase your home will need to appraise well enough for the lender to agree, and if not then the entire deal may fall apart and will have wasted everyone's time.   Now, there is also the camp of sellers who thinks "well, if nobody wants to pay my price, then I will stay".  Yes, you can take that approach (which usually includes an ambitious price), but this should be discussed with your agent so everyone has realistic expectations.  If you really want to sell, get recent market data and price a home correctly.  You'll have buyers lining up to see your home.
Posted in Sellers
April 9, 2016

Brentwood TN Parks Guide

Brentwood Park Guide

Although the spring and summer seasons usually drive more traffic to our local parks, there are days in all the seasons where a dash out to the park can brighten your day with a run, walk, play, or simply witnessing the wonderful nature we have in Middle Tennessee.  To help you venture out, here is a guide to the local Brentwood parks.

  • Concord Park: 8109 Concord Rd - 40-acre park surrounding the Brentwood Library includes open areas for flying kites, family picnics, practice fields, and multi-use trail
  • Crockett Park: 1500 Volunteer Parkway - more than 164 acres and home to Eddy Arnold Amphitheater where summer concerts and July 4th fireworks are normally held.  Includes 7 lighted tennis courts, restrooms, concessions, 8 lighted ball fields, 11 multi-purpose fields, multi-use trails, 2 historic homes, community playground, picnic shelters.
  • Deerwood Arboreturn & Nature Center: 320 Deerwood Lane - 27 acres bordering the Little Harpeth River on the west side of the city.  Features include a collection of native trees, plant life, wildlife, 2 ponds, a one-mile bike path, outdoor classroom, educational amphitheater, multi-use trail with 2 bridges linking the Wildwood/Laurelwood community to the Arboreturn.
  • Flagpole Park:  end of Murray Ln - over 8 acres that include 2 unlighted multi-use fields, walking/jogging path.
  • Granny White Park: 610 Granny White Pike - 30 acres featuring 3 lighted ball fields, 4 lighted tennis courts, 2 sand volleyball courts, a multipurpose field, large pavilion, playground area, lighted walk/jog trail.
  • Marcella Vivrette Smith Park:  1825 Wilson Pike - 398 acres located at the intersection of Wilson Pike and Split Log Rd.  Includes hiking trails, renovated Ravenswood mansion available for events.  Future expansion and features coming.
  • Margaret Hayes Powell Park:  Virginia Way & Granny White Pike - 22 acres that includes a 1-mile paved multi-use trail and a .4 mile trail in the wooded portion of the park.
  • Maryland Way Park:  5055 Maryland Way - 7 acres within the Maryland Farms office park that includes a walk/jog trail and fitness trail stations.
  • Owl Creek Park:  9751 Concord Road - 21 acres that include a large picnic shelter, spacious playground, basketball courts, walking paths, and restroom facilities.
  • Primm Park:  Moores Lane East just before Wilson Pike - 31 acres that include the historic Boiling Spring Academy structure and prehistoric Native American Mound Site.
  • River Park:  Fox Valley Drive & Concord Rd - over 70 acres along the Little Harpeth River featuring children's playground, basketball courts, picnic shelter, and the trailhead for the multi-use trail.
  • Tower Park:  Heritage Way near WSM Tower - 50 acres of multi-use trails, fields, natural open spaces, and Nutro Dog Park.

 

April 5, 2016

Water Heater Tanks vs Tankless Systems

In a previous post, we covered a few basics about water heating tanks.  Let's talk a minute about the options for heating your water.  Currently in our area, there are two main devices:  the traditional tank and a tankless system.  Both can serve you well, but here are some details that may help you decide which one you want in your home:

  • A traditional water heating tank constantly maintains a tank full of hot water (unless it's on a timer).  If use should out-run the capacity of the tank and the rate at which it can heat more, cold water will eventually be received at the faucet.
  • A tankless system flash-heats water as the water flies through the pipe which makes this system "endless" (short of a unit failure).  As long as water flows through, the unit will heat it.
  • A circulating pump on either system can put hot water only seconds from your faucet by continuously running hot water through a loop that has been installed in your home's pipes (like a hotel).
  • Without a circulating pump, neither system produces instant hot water at the faucet, however, one can install several small tankless systems (one at each faucet) and have nearly instant hot water at the faucet.
  • If the power goes out, you may still have a tank full of hot/warm water.  Tankless units should be checked for their ability to run without power (in cases of gas or propane).
  • Tankless units are generally smaller and require less installation space, however, they can be more costly to repair.
  • When considering a tankless system, ensure the unit's ability to heat water can keep up with your family's demands and use while maintaining a high flow rate of water.

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting your home's water heating system   If I may be of any assistance along the way, please let me know and I'll be happy to help. 

Posted in Buyers, Real Estate
April 3, 2016

Garages Sizes & Characteristics

All of us have a different focus when home shopping.  Some buyers nearly ignore the garage area while others focus on it.  No matter which group you're in, there are a few things to check so that once you've purchased a home you don't discover that the garage does not meet your needs.  Important aspects include:

  • Even though several garages are listed to hold "x" number of cars, that does not mean the overall dimensions of those garages are the same. 
  • A garage that has steps to it may provide some additional square footage that could be used for storage (if the steps result in that width being carried across the entire garage)
  • Both 1 and 2 car garage doors come in different sizes of up to 1-2 feet difference in width which also can be an indicator of space between cars.
  • For garages with posts separating doors, check the sizing on those to determine if you are gaining some extra garage width in those areas.
  • Look for mechanicals in the garage such as water heaters that may interrupt your use of the garage compared to another.

Check out the video for additional information about garages that will help you as you shop for a home or plan to build one.  For any questions, please contact me and I'll be happy to help!

Posted in Buyers, Real Estate
April 2, 2016

Water Heater Tank Basics

Most of us have grown up with a traditional water heating tank in our home.  It may have been installed in the garage, storage room, and maybe even in the attic in some regions.  Although we all have them, many people are unaware of how they work, so I want to share some basics about how you can heat the water that supplies your home.

  • A traditional water heater is a tank usually sized in the 50-75 gallon range and heats the water by allowing the water to contact a heating element inside the tank.
  • Heating tanks can be run on electricity, gas, and propane.
  • Tanks include a pressure-release valve that opens if the pressure in the tank exceeds the designated pressure level.  This is a safety device and when opened, water will exit the tank.
  • When installed anywhere other than a garage, a tank should sit within a catch-pan that is connected to the homes plumbing so that any leaks will be routed out of the home without damage.
  • Circulating pumps can continuously route hot water through a "loop" in your home's plumbing that provides nearly instant hot water to each faucet.  Usually the wait is only a few seconds.

Be sure to watch the video to hear about water heaters and the various parts and functions of them.  If you have any questions about them and how those relate to a home you're considering, please contact me.

March 28, 2016

How Custom Curved Wood Stair Rails Are Made

Have you ever visited a home, seen one on TV, or viewed one in a magazine and wondered "How in the world do they get those curved stair rails bent like that?".  Well, you're not alone!  Those rails usually lead to railings on the next level that are straight, and those are easily produced from straight stock that is cut to fit and mounted to the posts.  The curved rails are an entirely different production process.  When asked how they're produced, most people will guess that heat is involved and maybe steam like used in traditional ship building.  While that may be possible, there's a more efficient method that produces custom curved stair rails that are spectacular in design and make the entry way of any luxury home stunning in appearance.  Check out the video to see how these curved rails are made.

March 26, 2016

Name Those Basic Home Components

With so many home components and trends, it can be tricky to keep up with them all.  Working with home buyers, I get to talk with a lot of people searching for homes and/or visiting open houses and I'm always happy to answer any question no matter how complicated or how basic it may be.  I thought I would point out a few that are commonly discussed as people shop for homes.  They may not be complicated, but it may simply be what to call the feature, so here's a short collection of them.