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Selling Your Home? Winter Tips to Set the Stage

selling your homeSelling your home in the winter months can be tricky. With back- to-back holidays and usually a lot of entertaining, finding time to do it all can seem overwhelming. It’s also not the most ideal time to put a home on the market because the home, no matter how stunning, may not show as well when it’s cold, rainy, snowy and miserable outside. Plus, if there’s sleet or a snowstorm, it’s hard to get buyers to that Open House on Sunday! Guess what? There are still many things you can do to make your home look welcoming and ready for that perfect “new home shopper” this winter. People still are looking for homes and generally, there’s less competition because of a lower inventory.

Easy access. During the cold, winter months, it’s important to have a safe path to your home that is snow and ice-free. Don’t forget any side walkways or access from your driveway. This is important no matter what time of year it is, but especially important when the path to your home can be difficult to navigate due to snow and ice. When visitors pull up to the home and see you’ve made a hospitable path to the front door, they will notice.

Let there be light! I’ve said it before, but lighting is so important when trying to sell your home. Strategically open up those blinds to give off a pleasing amount of light in the home. If you want to set more of a cozy mood, utilize holiday lights on the mantel and candles at an open house. Today, there are so many variations of wickless candles and battery-powered candles it’s hard to tell which ones are real! Display the lighting properly and it will transform your room. Also, because it can be a bit more dreary outside in the winter, make sure to brighten darker rooms with open blinds and lamps in corners. Use a pop of color with pillows and throws. After all, it’s the holiday season! Take advantage of using tasteful lighting and décor.

Holiday decorations. When trying to sell your home over the holidays, it may not make sense to cover every corner of the home, every open space on the wall, with decorations. It’s best to limit the holiday décor so the potential buyer can still see the “bones” of the home. Too many holiday decorations may detract from the home itself. If you aren’t sure what may be considered “too much”, I’m happy to offer suggestions. There are also many online resources you can use for decorating ideas.

Making sense of scents. When showing our homes off, we tend to want to deodorize it with sprays, candles and oils…especially if we have pets. At some point our noses become immune to all of the smells! For guests, the smells can become overwhelming. Make sure that you keep the scents to a minimum when opening up your home for buyers, especially during this time of year because there are more good smelling, seasonal options available. Another tip is if you burn a sugar cookie candle in the entryway, it’s also a smart plan to offer cookies in the kitchen so as not to disappoint! A clean, well-kept home will always impress the eyes AND the nose. It’s fine to add a holiday scent to the mix, just don’t overdo it.

It’s all in the mood you create. With the winter weather, you have the perfect environment for bringing buyers into your cozy, warm home. Especially during the holidays, most of us relish the time we spend enjoying family, friends, and entertaining. The stage is set! Now is your chance to showcase your home to its best potential. Hang those fluffy robes in the master bath, use fresh pine in the entryway, hang wreaths and place dried, winter flowers around the home. When you sell your home, you are also selling a vision of things to come and memories made within it.

It’s a bustling time of year; so don’t add undue stress to it. There are small things you can do to show off your home’s beauty and potential, without having to start a big remodeling project this holiday season. Adding less stress to this already busy time will let you focus on your family and the year ahead. Want more expert advice? Contact me at 618-978-2384 or by email. I’m sure I can find you the perfect home, making 2017 the best year yet. Happy Holidays!

Tips on Keeping Your Home Safe

keeping your home safeOur homes are often our sanctuaries, offering personalized comfort that we can’t find anywhere else. We keep our favorite snacks in the refrigerator, the temperature just the way we like it, with the right fluffy pillows and soft blankets positioned perfectly in our bedrooms when it’s time to finally rest for the evening. The saying “home is where the heart is” is popular for a good reason: it’s true. But what if our “home haven” becomes compromised due to a property crime? Even though the Metro-east communities that I serve are the safest places to live, work and play, it’s good to know there are many things that homeowners can do to reduce the chance of their homes being burglarized. Of course, it’s always smart to install a home alarm system and there are many companies and security options available today. Other than the technical security approach, here are some tips that will help with keeping your home safe.

Away on vacation? Keep it off of social media. If you have 700 friends on Facebook, it’s probably not likely you would invite all of those people to your next BBQ. Most importantly, your social media posts and pictures can also easily be shared, so even if you feel secure that only loved ones know you have an empty house, you can never be sure. Once that post is on social media, it can fall into the wrong hands. Even discussing your plans openly in a public place can pose a threat to your property when you are out of town. Make sure you also let your children know that sharing out of town plans on social media (or talking about it elsewhere) is not a good idea.

Dog ownership. There are many reasons to own a pet. It can teach a child responsibility and pets can be wonderful companions, too. Dog ownership has long been cited as a deterrent to home intruders. It’s been proven that burglars have been known to target homes without dogs. Of course, with dogs also comes responsibility so it’s not a good idea to purchase a dog solely to protect the home. This security measure just happens to come with a “perk”…a four-legged friend that can also help keep your home safe when you are away!

Keep it lit. It’s easier to commit a crime in dark, inadequately lit areas. A well-lit area is counterintuitive and generally avoided by burglars. By ensuring that your outdoor lighting is functioning properly and the lighting is in the appropriate spots of your yard, it will definitely deter criminals. It’s also recommended that motion censors be installed in the driveway so you have a bright, welcoming spot upon arriving home, keeping you and your family members safer.

Put timers on electronics and lights. Believe it or not, this older method still works today for deterring criminal activity. This technology has also advanced in recent years, making it easier than ever before to turn on lights, TVs and radios from a remote device. Not only does this mean you can come home to a house that’s not eerily quiet, it also allows for a safer environment if you happen to live alone or have a spouse that travels often.

Securing sliding doors and windows, utilizing a security system and installing deadbolts on your doors will also help keep your home sweet home safe and secure. As mentioned in last month’s blog, having a home safe is also another way to keep your most important items protected against a home invasion (or natural disaster). When most home invasions happen, burglars want to move as quickly as possible so it’s often unlikely they will want to spend time trying to access a home safe.

Home safety is important to all of us and the tips listed here are some simple recommendations that work well in conjunction with a home security system installation. Being aware of your surroundings, while also being proactive about home security, can help deter any break-ins from happening. A safe, comfortable and secure home is also a happy one! Want to learn more? Please contact me for all of your real estate needs at 618-978-2384. I’d be happy to share more home safety tips with you.

Oh No! Things That Can Go Wrong When Selling Your Home

things that can go wrong when selling your houseDid I get your attention? Good! I’ve been a Realtor for some time now, and one of the most common questions clients ask me is “what should I be doing to get my home ready for sale?” We all know that people searching for that new, perfect home have different decorating tastes, style preferences, likes and dislikes. If someone absolutely needs a dining room for entertaining and your house has a small eat-in kitchen, your home probably is not going to make that “final cut.” Structural and design elements aside, there are things sellers can do when preparing their homes for sale. And, it has nothing to do with wall colors!

Overpricing.
Working in real estate, I have a solid understanding of local neighborhoods and market pricing. If you aren’t exactly sure of your home’s asking price, I am happy to help. If your aunt in St. Louis tells you she read an article that the market “is very active” and “inventory is low”, suggesting you should sell your home for more than its market value, don’t get too excited. Just because inventory may be low doesn’t make it a “seller’s market”. There are several things to consider when pricing your home, and it’s important to rely on a skilled realtor that has experience selling homes in your neighborhood. An accurate listing price is an important step in the right direction when selling your home.

Curb appeal.
Just because you don’t have a large yard or front porch reminiscent of a Southern Living magazine cover, doesn’t mean you can’t impress buyers with snazzy curb appeal. Take advantage of the spring/summer sunshine and blooming plants and flowers to add color to your entryway. A little work on the outside of your home truly attracts buyers, making them want to stop the car and take a peek inside. I also recommend a new coat of paint to the front door, fresh mulch to the landscaping and trimmed bushes. A little power washing of the driveway and sidewalks also go a long way when wanting to attract new homebuyers.

De-cluttering the home.
This tip probably surprises no one, but you’d be surprised how many homes go on the market with too much clutter. Too much clutter really distracts buyers from the home itself. Last month I wrote about home staging to entice buyers, and removing clutter from the home is an important way sellers make buyers feel comfortable as their home’s prospective new occupants. Too many knick-knacks have the opposite effect of what proper home staging can do. You want buyers to focus on the house itself and not notice the furniture crammed into one room, or disorganized personalized items scattered around, including too many family photos. When de-cluttering, focus on your home and the space it provides, decorating with minimal items.

The garage is living space, too.
The garage, much like an unfinished basement, sometimes gets neglected when it’s time to clean and de-clutter before an open house or walk-through. Prospective buyers do look at the overall condition of a home, and that includes a garage. Many families need bike storage to go along with scooters, camping equipment and a place to store their children’s sports equipment. Quite often, these items end up in a garage and potential homeowners will want to see if your garage has the storage they need. Before preparing for your house to go on the market, make sure you sweep, dust the cobwebs, and organize the toys into their proper spots. No one wants to see oil drips on the floor, either.

Smell…one of the 5 tips (and senses) that get overlooked.
We live in our homes every day, and sometimes we stop smelling the odors that others may notice right away. Own several animals? It’s likely there’s a smell to that cat litter box you may not realize is there. Have a baby still in diapers? Even the “new and improved” Diaper Genie can’t mask the diaper smell! When getting your house ready to sell, clean the rugs, empty the trash cans, use freshly fragranced cleaning supplies to dust and mop, and clean fingerprints off of those stainless steel appliances. Believe it or not, buyers often open the refrigerator and oven doors so make sure they are clean and ready to be seen (and sniffed)!

 As a licensed Realtor, I know the local market and what homes are selling for in your area. If you are planning on selling your home, I have the experience and knowledge you want. Contact me at 618-978-2384 for your real estate needs and realistic tips for selling your home, making the process a pleasurable one. I look forward to working with you; selling your home and helping you find the new home of your dreams.