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Be True to You!

I was excited to receive my newest issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and see what great ideas and visions I could glean from their pages. Haven’t we all done this? Whether it’s BH&G, HGTV, Home Decorating or another of the numerous magazine and ezine options that share decorating ideas, we open them and assume they know and offer so much better ideas than anything we can come up with ourselves.

BUT, I am not exaggerating when I say I went through the entire current magazine and did not find one design, color scheme or decorating idea that held any appeal for me at all. That caused me to realize that sometimes I simply should follow my own instincts or try out my own ideas instead of allowing myself to be overly influenced by others as to what works best for me. I decided I should trust my own gut and not talk myself out of an idea simply because it doesn’t match what the current magazines/ezines are showing. Kind of like watching a fashion show and thinking “Do people really wear this stuff?”. Should your home “wear” those ideas? Do they fit your personality, family life or desired ambiance? Think about that before you give up on your own idea in lieu of some celebrity’s.

Now, that said, I will continue to review online and magazine ideas and probably like and try many of them in my own home. I’m not saying they don’t have and offer you value. What I am saying is, don’t assume they reveal what’s best for you or dictate how you should decorate your home. You want to create a space that, as soon as you open the door to enter says, “Welcome HOME”!

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Clean Your Closet for Better Showings & A Calmer Life

Did you know eliminating clutter from your home is one of the most cost-efficient, effective ways to improve its perceived value to buyers? In exchange for your effort, your home will seem larger, filled with potential, and much more desirable to viewers.  Another benefit is how much less stressed you will feel every time you walk in or open your closet and see order instead of chaos! Think de-cluttering your home is too daunting a task? Try choosing just one thing and focusing on it.

Small steps are better than no steps at all.

OVERLOAD OF CLOTHES: There is probably a huge chunk of apparel in your closet that isn’t being used. Get rid of it. Only keep the items that you wear. Simplify your closet, and you’ll simplify a part of your home.

WHERE TO BEGIN: You have two options, depending on your schedule:

Test in an afternoon or weekend: Take everything out of your closet, try each item on and determine what items you still like/wear. Anything that needs to be mended, mend; anything that you don’t want, give away. Only keep what fits you and looks good on you.

Test over time: If you lack a big chunk of time to de-clutter, try this instead. Move your entire wardrobe to another closet and pull just what you need out of it every morning. After you’ve worn something, move it into your regular closet. Continue this for a few weeks/months, and you’ll know what items are being worn consistently.

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER:

Think Seasonally: If there are clothes you wear, but not in the current season, put them into storage. You won’t be wearing them out-of-season, so putting them away frees up closet space and makes your closet appear much more inviting to your buyer.

Think Objectively: If you’re hanging on to an item for purely sentimental reasons with no intention of ever wearing it again, take a picture and move on. If you really, really can’t part with it, add it to a keepsake/memories box. Don’t keep it in the closet.

Think Practically: It’s a good idea to get rid of wire hangers, if at all possible. They get tangled and broken and contribute to a messy look. Donate them to your local Salvation Army or shelter and invest in matching plastic, wooden or popular thin felt covered hangers you can find at Walmart or Target. Low cost. High end look.

Think Purposefully: Try to make a commitment to yourself to only use your closet for wardrobe items. It’s not the place for your computer, old books or photo boxes. By relegating your closet’s use to its intended one, you not only de-clutter, you de-stress!

THE RESULTSee the source image
Cleaning out your closet may feel like a lot of work, but consider all the benefits:

  • You’ll find it easier to pick out clothes in the morning.
  • The room will look more presentable to potential buyers.
  • Your closet will seem more spacious.
  • You won’t have to go through the process when you sell/move.
  • You’ll be giving to charity.
  • Donations are tax-deductible.
  • You will feel fantastic!

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CREATIVE STORAGE SAVES SPACE, TIME & MONEY!

Ever wish you had more room to put your cleaning supplies, extra bags, etc? Look no further than the back of your linen closet or                           laundry closet door. Purchase an inexpensive over the door plastic shoe bag and start filling it up. Not only does everything stay                   neater, they are more easily accessible when you need  them and can be completely hidden away by simply closing the door.                        Storage doesn’t have to be expensive, free standing or shelving units. Be creative and re-purpose items to fit your needs.

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GET YOUR SPRING CHECKLIST READY NOW!

The ground hog said it will be an early spring. If you live in the midwest or northeast, you probably, by now, know he was lying. BUT pretty soon it will be spring so let’s review a quick checklist to consider so you can be ready to go as the first buds appear!

  • Check your exterior walls or trim and note what needs to be powerwashed, painted, or both.
  • Does your chimney or brick walls need any tuckpointing or repairs? This is very common in areas that have suffered through extreme winter weather.
  • Does your lawn or landscaping need repairs? ie: Addition of soil or replacement of plantings that were damaged or minimized due to winter storms?
  • Check your windows for seal issues and screens for damage.
  • How did your roof fare the extreme weather? Have your shingles checked before you experience leaks that then require interior repairs.
  • If you have a wood deck or railings determine if they need to be powerwashed, restained or have boards replaced.
  • Clean all exterior lighting.

It may be too early to do all these items, but make a list, add other items that you see necessary for your particular home and as soon as weather allows, get to work, get it done and then enjoy the fruits of your labor by getting the best price possible for your home!

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Use Flyers Effectively!

We’ve all seen them. Flyers in a box attached to a seller’s sign. So, of course, you decide you’ll do that too. The box is empty so now you’re waiting for all those calls to come in. But, as much as you’d like to believe it, the box being empty does not mean there are a lot of interested buyers fighting over your home. It more often means that a few potential buyers have grabbed a flyer while the rest most likely went to nosy neighbors who just want to see how much you’re asking and realtors who want you to list your home with them. That does not mean flyers are not effective. The key is to use them most effectively! Here are some proven methods of operation.

  • Make sure your flyers are in color, bright, clear and include the most important details about your home including your address!
  • Make sure your flyers have ALL your contact information: first name, phone number and email address.
  • Print at least a hundred flyers so you can put some on your sign AND carry many with you to distribute both deliberately as well as when you’re just out and about.
  • If there are hospitals or universities in your area, go to the Human Resources departments and ask if you can leave some flyers with them for newly hired doctors, professors or staff.
  • Leave flyers at local police and fire stations as many municipalities require them to reside within the city limits.
  • Stopping for coffee with a friend? So are prospective buyers. Leave flyers on community boards or window ledges in coffee shops.
  • Heading to the grocery store? Bring flyers with you in case they have community boards as you enter the store. If so post some flyers there.
  • If you’re willing to pay a commission to buyers agents who bring you a buyer, stop by real estate offices with flyers that include a posting with the amount of commission you’re willing to pay them for their effort.

These are some proven methods to get results from flyers. Use your own imagination to think up some more. If you’re going to take advantage of flyers, make a point of doing so in the most effective ways possible. Good Selling!

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SUPER BOWL SUNDAY Open House/Showings Pros & Cons

Image result for free images for super bowl sunday 2019

It’s a strange phenomenon, but history shows in many markets that having an Open House on Super Bowl Sunday can be very productive.

  1. Wives may make a deal with their husbands to leave them alone with the football game if they will go to open houses with them earlier in the day.
  2. Advertise and Hold your Open House prior to the game to take advantage of #1.
  3. If your home has a Media Room, Game Room or dynamic Family/Great Room, you can stage the room with Super Bowl decor (highlighting both teams so you don’t alienate anyone), chips, salsa and beverages to allow the football fan (man or woman) feel how great having this space for future games and parties will be.
  4. Take #3 a step further by having the pre-game activities on the TV in that room (especially if you have a big screen tv that you might be leaving with the home or is negotiable!) as a way to generate friendly conversation and quality ‘white noise’.
  5. Women may come on their own or with a friend to get away from all the Super Bowl craziness happening in her home and begin the home shopping process without her spouse. Though typically you want all decision makers at a showing, it’s not unusual for the woman to be the ultimate decision maker in the long run! Asking your guests to sign in to your Open House will allow you to follow up with them the following week.
  6. Put flags in your front yard (and balloons on your many signs) that showcase both teams participating in the Super Bowl to draw people to your home and your Open House.
  7. Review previous Blog Articles about holding a successful Open House and follow all those steps in addition to what’s noted here.

KEY:  Be friendly, relaxed and allow people to take their time viewing your home,  asking questions, enjoying your snacks and ‘feeling’ the positive party energy your home offers!

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YIKES!! It’s Moving Day….Take A Breath and Proceed with Confidence!

You’ve prepared and planned. You’ve organized and simplified. Now it’s time for the big day: you’re moving. Keep these tips in mind to make your day run as smoothly as possible. Key: Don’t have unrealistic expectations and think that you’ll have a totally stress free day. You might in which case you can celebrate your excellent planning, preparation and execution. If not, then you won’t explode, implode or scream at those you love (or the ones you don’t, ie: movers) causing the day to deteriorate for everyone involved. Be smart. Be prepared. Be efficient. Be flexible!!!! Things rarely happen exactly as we plan.

    1. Have everything packed and ready to go.
    2. Make sure you have your overnight/necessities bag: clothes, toiletries, important paperwork, cleaning supplies, towels, toilet paper, etc.
    3. Prepare an emergency pack that includes a first aid kit, paper towels, a flashlight, tools (you may need them) and other essentials.
    4. Take the garbage out. (Leave a note for your buyer re: garbage days and any requirements they need to know about times, rules, etc.)
    5. Clear an easy path for transporting boxes.
    6. Put away your pets. You may even consider boarding them or having them stay with a friend, in order to make moving day less stressful.
    7. Double-check the interior: go through all your rooms, giving everything one more once-over.
    8. Double-check the exterior: re-examine the yard, the pool, the play area, etc. Make sure you have everything.
    9. Make copies of the map of your new home’s floor plan.
    10. Once everyone’s done and your things are loaded, turn off the water heater.
    11. Before you leave, set the thermostat to 64 degrees.

USING MOVERS…..

    1. Communicate with the moving company.
    2. Go over the day’s schedule.
    3. Make sure anything not to be taken is put in a separate place and clearly identified.
    4. Provide drinks and snacks for everyone involved.
    5. Point out the bathroom to use, and make sure it has necessities inside.
    6. Exchange phone numbers with the driver of the moving van.
    7. Provide or get a copy of the inventory list.
    8. Check to make sure everything’s loaded before the van leaves.
    9. Confirm directions with the driver.
    10. Get to your new home before the movers do; there could be a fee if they have to wait for you.
    11. Be there to guide and/or answer questions for the movers.
    12. Prepare the moving company payment, and have a tip ready for the drivers/movers.
    13. Check the condition of every item as it is unloaded. Keep a list of anything damaged.

MOVING ON YOUR OWN

  1. Enlist friends to help.
  2. Pre-plan your directions and have them confirmed before starting out.  Use Navigation to ensure the best and most traffic free route.A great app for helping you avoid traffic issues is WAZE. Set the address, get going and it will help you maneuver around troublesome areas making your drive with a big truck or multiple cars less stressful.
  3. Plan to leave early, if at all possible but not at a time where you end up driving with rush hour traffic.
  4. Make sure your moving vehicle has a full tank of gas and thought it sounds silly, if you’re using a rental take the time to learn which side of the vehicle the tank is on so when you pull into a gas station, you don’t have to re-maneuver the vehicle because you’re on the wrong side.
  5. Load in reverse order: things you’ll need last in back and things you’ll need right away in front. Make sure again all boxes and bins are clearly labeled on the sides and top for ease of movement in both loading and placing once you’re at your new home.
  6. Leave a forwarding address somewhere in the home along with a nice welcome home note for your buyers just in case you did leave something.

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CREATE PERSONAL ACTIVITY TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY!

It’s great that online marketing gives you so much exposure. However; if you really want the best results in the shortest amount of time there are things you can add to your marketing plan that will produce more activity quicker. The reality is that if you really want productivity, you may increase the impact of your ByOwner.com advertising by putting a little legwork into your sale to get the word out!

Remember, Goal #1 in selling your home: get your phone to ring or your email to load up!

DISTRIBUTE FLYERS: Print out flyers and distribute them everywhere you can**:

    1. Area supermarkets and stores.
    2. Cafes.
    3. Local schools.
    4. Non-profit organizations.
    5. Libraries.
    6. Laundromats.
    7. Independent booksellers.
    8. Nearby University, Colleges or Hospitals. Put on Community Boards but also give to HR departments who might be hiring new Professors/Doctors/Nurses/Staff, etc.
    9. Any additional place where you can obtain permission to post!
    10. Keep flyers with you at all times, ready to hand out!!

USE YOUR CONNECTIONS

    1. Post on the bulletin board at work, if possible.
    2. If your subdivision/neighborhood offers a bulletin board or some kind of announcement section, post your flyer there! By posting in the neighborhood, you’re targeting people who are already attracted to your location.
    3. Your town/city may have a similar bulletin board option at the town center.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS

    1. Talk about your home sale with your friends and family.
    2. Mention it at work, at stores, with new acquaintances.
    3. Be bold! If you’re standing in line at the coffee shop, bank, etc., and you hear someone talking about wanting to move into the area, excuse yourself for ‘eavesdropping’ but let them know you might have the home for them and hand them your flyer! Don’t walk away too quickly as they may have questions and engage immediately, especially if they are relocating or their home is already sold and time is of the essence!
    4. Bring it up at book club, community events, parties, showers, holiday gatherings.

LINK TO YOUR BYOWNER.COM AD

    1. Create free online ads at places like Craigslist and Google that link to your BuyOwner.com page. You’ll be drawing even more people to look at your home’s photos, tours and text!
    2. Post on your Facebook page and ask that people viewing it share it on their pages as well.
    3. Instagram or twitter including a link to your BuyOwner.com webpage.
    4. E-mail everyone in your e-mail address book a link to your online ad and ask them to pass it on to anyone who’s in the market.
    5. Blog about your home sale. If you, or someone you know, blogs regularly, that can be a great way to spread the word about your property. Try to get a post written that links to your advertisement and mentions some of your home’s key features.

HOLD AN OPEN HOUSE

    1. Schedule an open house on a weekend afternoon when not a lot of community events are happening. Hint: don’t plan the open house on the day of a big football game or the weekend of a holiday.
    2. Promote your open house everywhere (see above for suggestions about flyers).
    3. On the day of the open house, have a niece or nephew run a lemonade stand out front. This will help draw in other passers-by, inviting them inside.
    4. Mark your open house online, through your BuyOwner seller dashboard. Contact Customer Care to add it to your MLS & realtor.com listings.
    5. Make the most of other open houses in the area. Check local ads, and when an open house is scheduled in nearby, put out several signs and draw those visitors to your home.

**Be careful to abide by all local ordinances regarding private property and only post the flyer after obtaining permission.**

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Does Empty Nest = Downsize?

Do you find yourself questioning your own thought process as you move into empty nesting? Now that the kids are gone and you are “free”, you may decide to build a new and maybe even bigger home than you currently have. The “experts” say this is the time to downsize. Your family and friends think they’re being helpful by looking at you like you’re nuts for wanting to upsize or go through the process of building. Of course, they all say, now is the time to get that condo on the water, or downsize to a townhome or move into an Active Adult Community. And after you hear that enough, you may start to question your own decision making and planning. DON’T! This is time for you to do what you want to do and live how you want to live. If that means building a home with a huge Great Room and plenty of beds and baths so you can always have enough space for your existing or future grandkids to visit or to entertain like you’ve always wanted to or maybe you just want to have your own spaces plus great combined living areas, then DO IT!

Unless you’re in a job that requires you to retire at a specific age, if you decide you want to work into your 80s because you love what you do, then DO IT! If you’ve worked your entire life and saved to live the retirement of YOUR dreams then, DO IT!  Don’t let anyone (including your children) make you feel guilty for not saving to give your kids a bigger inheritance or to save every penny “just in case” something happens. Of course, be responsible but you can choose to be carefree too! You’ve earned it. You raised your children. You’ve helped them move into their next life step. Empty nesting means you are free to move into the life journey that you may have been wanting, planning for and hoping to enjoy as you step into this new phase of your life. Be brave. Be strong. Be your own decision maker. And then, whatever you decide, DO IT!

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Winter Selling Can Be An Opportunity for Success!!

Depending on where you’re located, winter might seem like the worst time to put your home up for sale. The air is cold, the ground is covered with snow and daylight hours are shorter. But selling your home during the winter doesn’t have to be an impossible task and in actuality can be the best time to find Your Best Buyer. People who shop for homes in cold, snowy weather are deadly serious buyers who have a strong reason to buy NOW. Perhaps a job change, end of a lease and not wanting to sign on for another year, family necessities,etc. You can use this season as an opportunity to set your home apart from all the others. As an added plus, lots of people take their homes off the market through the winter and holidays so there is also less competition if you do choose to offer your home through this season. Here are a few ideas to help you achieve success!

Create a Safe Environment Free from the Weather

Make sure that walkways and driveways are salted and snow is shoveled. Nothing makes for a worse first impression for potential buyers than if they slip on the ice and injure themselves. They’ll be sure to remember your home, but probably not in the way you want them to. Also keep these areas well lit!

Minimize Your Holiday Decor

For most people, winter is a time for holiday decorations. But while your home should look festive, you will want to keep your decor attractive without becoming christmaslightswithout becoming overwhelming. A few well-placed lights will accentuate your home’s natural curb appeal, but maybe you should save the giant blowup doll for next year.

Cleanliness is Crucial

Winter is a difficult time to really show off the exterior of your home, so you should instead concentrate on accentuating the interior. Winter visitors are more likely to notice dirt and clutter because they are not distracted by the exterior of the home, so make sure it is absolutely spotless inside. Kids and adults coming in and out during this time can create messy floors and closets so try to keep a strong focus on those items.

 

Illuminate

To counter the dreary winter weather,  make your home as bright and airy as possible. Open curtains and blinds to let in natural light, and keep the lights on throughout your entire home (including closets and basement) when showing it to potential buyers. This creates an inviting atmosphere while also highlighting the great features of your home.

Cozy & Comfy

Raising the thermostavisual-interestt a couple notches will set a warm, welcoming atmosphere and provide a great first impression. Serve hot chocolate, hot cider or tea and coffee with holiday cookies if it’s close to Christmas.  A fire burning in the fireplace says, “Ahhh”. You can even play some soft background music to set the mood.

Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words

Displaying either individually or in an album, spring, summer and autumn photos will allow prospective buyers to see the home’s full potential and to visualize themselves living in the home beyond this season. Create a takeaway brochure of photos from all 4 seasons so the buyer will remember your home and all it offers once they have left and are considering all the homes they’ve seen.