Everyone dreams of living in a model home – a beautiful modern room with the perfect vase of flowers sitting decoratively on a glass side table. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work this way. Our homes tend to look more “lived in” with a pile of shoes by the front door, school books on the kitchen table, and cat hair on the sofa.
If you have your home listed for sale, then you also know the stress of looking around your home after a phone call requesting a showing with a few minutes’ notice. You want your home to show well so the buyers can see the beauty of the home you love, but with such short notice, how can you convert the lived-in look to a show-ready property?
Fortunately, there are a few tricks for helping you keep your home show-ready at any time.
- Plan in Advance – Before you even list your house, consider the adjustment you’ll need to make in your lifestyle. Move non-essential items to a storage unit, to not only create visual appeal but make it easier to clean quickly.
- Containers – A simple way to quickly eliminate toys, clothes, shoes, sports equipment, and other items is storage bins. Keep some handy to throw excess items into before a buyer shows up, and move them to the garage or basement, or even the back of a vehicle.
- Establish a Routine – Get everyone in the family involved in establishing a daily routine. The less clutter that accumulates, the easier it is to move out of sight quickly. All family members should have morning and evening duties to keep the home tidy. If things are kept up on a daily basis, it will make the clutter and mess less overwhelming.Unfortunately, your life doesn’t stop just because you’ve listed your home for sale. Keep it show-ready by preparing in advance, so those last-minute buyers can see your home’s charm and not the day’s clutter.
For this, or any other real estate questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am ready to help you list your house – so we can focus on finding your dream home. Contact me today!
Technology is helpful in so many areas of life, even real estate. Twenty years ago, if someone were moving across the country, they’d have to wait to buy a house until they arrived to start their new life, or they’d have to buy a home without seeing it in person beforehand. Both options would cause extra unwanted stress on top of moving to an unfamiliar place. Luckily, with the rise of technology, virtual tours are here to save the day!
When it comes to creating a virtual tour, don’t panic. Your real estate agent will be there to guide you through the entire process. An agent may help to schedule a videographer to come to your house, or utilize software like Tour Wizard or My360 to create a virtual tour of their own that can be added to the listing. Real Estate Agents can also use FaceTime or other apps to give their customers a tour of a house that doesn’t include a virtual tour of the listing.
There are a few ways to prepare your home before filming a virtual tour. Start by turning on all the lights in your home and opening the blinds or window coverings. You’ll need optimal lighting to get the best footage, so your realtor will most likely schedule filming in the morning or late afternoon. Take time to clean your house before the virtual tour and remove all clutter and any furniture you don’t want to be seen. Your realtor will help you with a simple staging of your home beforehand so it looks presentable in the video. The great thing about staging for a virtual tour is you’ll only have to keep it that way for a couple of hours before you can put everything back where it belongs.
Once the virtual tour of your house has been edited, it’ll be ready to show potential buyers. Your real estate agent will show you the final footage and add it to your listing. Anyone interested in taking a virtual tour can easily watch it online to get a good idea of what to expect in person.
When you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, a virtual tour can be a great way to get more people to see it and secure a buyer in less time than a traditional open house. Not only does it give potential buyers a first glimpse, but it also ensures that only people who are seriously considering purchasing your home request a tour or show up to the open house.
For this, or any other real estate questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am ready to help you list your house – so we can focus on finding your dream home. Contact me today!
Companies use color trends to boost brand awareness and product sales, but the research behind colors and how they impact consumers is anything but arbitrary. Color trends aim to appeal to emotions cause by world events, history and cultures, the economy, and the human need for change.
Ever since Pantone Color Institute’s first introduction of the Color of the YEAR (COTY) in 2000, a subtle blue called Cerulean, many paint manufacturers are announcing their own COTYs as well as curated “collections” of the year.
Behr’s choice for COTY 2020 is a fresh split-pea green called Back To Nature. The Behr 2020 Color Trends palette “was inspired by” natural elements such as sky, earth, water and plant life. Sherwin-Williams 2020 COTY is Naval, a classic ocean blue. The company’s 2020 palette is called Simply Blissful Color Collection. A pale peachy pink called First Light is Benjamin Moore’s selection for 2020. Their Color Trends 2020 palette combines “optimism and understatement.”
These color trends all have characteristics in common: they help promote familiarity, serenity, coziness and comfort.
Pain is among the easiest ways to update a home, so trying one of these soothing colors may help you create the serene room(s) you’ve always wanted.
I have definitely seen my share of paint colors over the years. So I am happy to give you my opinion! Contact me with any questions that you have about any of your current home or your future real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
- Sort your belongings. Moving can be more expensive when you cart along items you don’t really want or need. A great way to do it is to sort and pack at the same time. Think in terms of three piles – keep, donate, trash. Trash the trash and drop the donations off at the first opportunity. Put your “keep” pile into moving boxes labeled by room.
- Plan your storage options. Closets, attics and cabinets can fill up quickly, especially if you’re downsizing. Where will the out-of-season sports gear go? What about holiday decorations? How are you setting up your kitchen? What goes in the garage besides tools? Where will you put valuables?
- Plan your car trip. Whether you’re moving across the country or near the same neighborhood, pack your car or rental with necessities, including first aid, drinks, and snacks. Each family member should choose their favorite items to bring, like blankets, pillows, games, books, and a change of clothes – just in case you don’t have time to unpack those items the first day in your new home.
- Meet your neighbors. If possible, introduce yourselves to your neighbors beforehand to let them know you’re moving in. You’ll have a greater sense of familiarity and belonging on moving day.
Some mortgage terms can be confusing, none more so than the similarities and differences between prequalification and preapproval. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean very different things to lenders, real estate professionals and home sellers.
Prequalifying is a rough-idea process that tells you how much money you’ll likely be able to borrow to buy a home. You can prequalify yourself on any banking or real estate-related website simply by putting your salary, type of loan you want, down payment amount and a ballpark home price into a mortgage calculator. You can talk with a lender, who will also give you a ballpark amount without a credit check.
When you apply for a mortgage loan, you’ll share your income records, the source and amount of your down payment, and your social security number so the lender can pull your credit. This is the key difference between prequalification and preapproval – when the lender is able to review your application and verify your credit standing to make a lending decision.
The lender will get back to you within three days or less with a preapproval letter stating the maximum amount of money you’re approved to borrow.
Preapproval gives you the real numbers so you know exactly how much you can spend on a home. It lends you credibility with real estate professionals and with sellers who will take you seriously as a buyer.
Prequalification becomes preapproval once you have a purchase contract on a home. Then, the preapproval is real.
For this, or any other real estate questions, you can contact me any time! I am here to help you find your dream home!
Today, Americans can shop for anything and everything online. Need groceries delivered? Order them online. Want dog food, a new wardrobe, new car, or even a mattress for your bed? If you have a computer, you can have anything you want with just a few clicks. If you’re looking for a new home, resources like Zillow, Trulia, and others offer resources for anyone wanting to move or list their homes, searching zip codes, neighborhoods, and price ranges. Since there are so many resources online you may ask yourself, “are real estate agents still important”?
Because of today’s technology, home-seekers are able to be better informed during their new home search because of the internet, but that doesn’t mean a qualified Realtor® isn’t important. Agents do more than simply unlock the door to potential, future homes and serve donuts at an open house. It’s true that the role of the traditional Realtor® of yesteryear has been transformed, but the initial home search is really only a small portion of the overall home buying process.
Before internet home-searching became available, consumers needed information on the homes exclusively from the Realtors®. Today, that information still needs to be analyzed by the real estate agents and the process of negotiation is more multifaceted than it has ever been. In today’s market, there’s usually low inventory and a high-demand, making the agent a home-seeker’s “best friend”. When a property is under contract, there’s a lot happening at the same time and a Realtor® can help keep it all straight. Realtors® help with heated negotiations, the inspection process, and dual-offer maneuvers when they happen.
As a local Realtor®, I am a fan of today’s technology because I find that my clients are better informed, knowing what they want in their new home and what they can afford. My job description is plentiful, but one of my main objectives is to keep my clients organized during the entire process, getting the best deal for their dream home. Technology is a wonderful asset to all of us, but it’s my ultimate goal to share my knowledge as a Realtor® so clients can rely on me during complex negotiations and more. Mobile apps, for example, can help keep clients organized and see homes more quickly. However; onerecent Forbes articles does state, “While the internet is replete with information, it’s the agent’s knowledge that makes the difference between mediocrity and extraordinary.”
For example, Zillow and Zestimate is more of a range for what the home may be worth. Working in the many Metro-east communities, I understand that a home’s online list price may seem a bit high, but I’ll be able to tell you why. Website’s like Zillow offer home-seekers a starting point, but they don’t know if the homeowner recently updated a master-bedroom closet or kitchen and that’s why the online listings aren’t always an accurate representation. With my network of builders, appraisers, inspectors and lenders, I know more about the homes on sale than any website search engine does.
Because of my real estate knowledge, I can help sellers price their homes right and help buyers know the best home investment for their particular needs. I do research on behalf of my clients, communicate, and listen to them…and relationship-building is something I take seriously. Want to make the most of your home search? Contact me and I’d be happy to answer questions or assist you in any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
I’ve been in the real estate business for quite some time, and often clients hesitate to ask me questions about getting their home ready to sell because they may think the questions seem frivolous or silly. Well, there truly are no silly questions in real estate! Every home is unique, and every situation has its own set of intricacies. If you’ve never had a house for sale before, or if a problem arises that you may have never anticipated, that’s all part of the process. I’ve compiled some questions over the years that homeowners have asked me and thought I would pass the information on to you.
Curbside appeal. What do I need to do?
I’ve written about first impressions before, but did you know that people looking for new homes notice things about your entryway that you may assume they won’t notice? You’ve spent a lot of time getting the interior of your home ready, but what about the entryway? The threshold of your entryway, from the steps to the welcome mat, will be critiqued by new home seekers. Is it dusty and needs to be swept? Is your welcome mat old and tattered? Make sure your mailbox is standing tall and without chipped paint. Pay attention to everything from your front door windows being clean to the walkway being inviting. “Curb appeal” may begin at the curb, but buyers will notice so much more as they approach your front door.
Not sure? Yes, you DO need to do the windows!
Another recommendation I give homeowners that are trying to sell their home is to not neglect the patio doors and windows. This may seem like an obvious tip, but when people are walking through your home and open the blinds or curtains to get a view of the backyard, you really want the frames to be dust free and the window’s glass crystal clear. Patio doors and the door tracks should also be cleaned and any obstructions cleared away, especially times during the year that may be considered “unseasonal” for using outdoor spaces. Wondering if hiring a window cleaner is worth the additional expense? Most definitely, especially if you don’t have time to do it yourself. Having your windows professionally cleaned at a price range anywhere from $6 to $8 a window, which includes the inside, outside and the screens, is well worth the return on that investment. And also make sure your outdoor spaces are tidied up, too.
Should I think about a heating and cooling system check-up?
When trying to sell a home, don’t forget about one of the biggest expenses associated with home ownership…and that’s your home’s energy costs. Heating and cooling your home can be quite expensive, and well-informed people looking to buy may inquire about the last time your HVAC system has been serviced. If your home is newer, it’s easier to present them with any installation and warranty information. For older homes, it’s a good idea to have a certified HVAC company come to your home and give a check-up of your system. Whether you simply need to change your filters or have a bigger maintenance issue to resolve, it helps to know what you are dealing with before you put your home on the market.
What do I do about our pets, pet toys and kid toys?
Homes can get messy, and pets and kids can often be the culprits! Think about walking into a home that you know has pets. Are you preoccupied with the smell you’re noticing or the toys you’re seeing, scattered around the home? When getting your home ready to sell, it’s best to keep the smells as neutral as possible, and always pick up remnants of toys, whether from Fido or your 5 – year old. Think about investing in a toy box for your kid’s room, if you don’t already have one, because it’s an easy way to collect toys and keep them organized. If an interested buyer wants to see your house within the hour, think about ways to keep the stress level contained. Ideally, load up the car with kids and pets before a house showing with snacks, games, and videos ready to keep your family occupied while out of the house!
This is only a sampling of questions sellers and buyers ask me. Throughout the year, I’ll share those questions and some tips as they arise. Attention-to-detail can make the difference between a sale or a snub. Let me help you get your house ready for an open house that is sure to impress! Contact me with any questions that you have about any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
If you know the near future involves putting your house on the market, it’s never too early to begin the planning process. Even if you’d rather wait until the spring months to sell, there is more involved in the sale of your home than simply putting a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Here are some practical tips to consider during this exciting time to get your home ready.
First and foremost, finding a reputable real estate agent should be top of the list! Selling your home solely on your own can be a daunting task and a real estate agent can help navigate the sale of your home, no matter how hot or cool the market may be in your neighborhood. There is a reason knowledgeable homeowners often rely on the talents of a real estate agent, saving you time and money in the long run.
It’s important to find a real estate agent that has experience in the area where you are selling, one that you connect with and feel comfortable sharing your expectations with, too. Do some research when looking for a real estate agent and also seek recommendations from others that have recently sold their home. It’s also important to interview the agent to make sure he/she is a good fit for your needs and your personality.
Curb appeal is one important aspect of selling your home. Buyers do often judge a book by its cover! If interested buyers are driving around looking at neighborhoods and come across your home with unkept landscaping and broken shingles, it’s likely they will mark your “Open House” off of their list. Make sure your front yard is tidy and cracked paint is repaired, adding finishing touches like flowers and a new welcome mat can also make a difference. Old, ugly mailbox? Fix that too.
Declutter and depersonalize. Always on the list of things to do when you’re getting your home ready to sell, cutting down on the clutter, the trinkets and the family heirloom items makes a big difference in your home’s appeal. Staging your home with the motto in mind that “less is more” is something that can begin during the months leading up to the sale of your home. Donate unused items and keep in mind during the process that nothing is off-limits when trying to sell your home. Buyers will peek into your closets and look under your sinks to find out what space is available. If they notice too much stuff, it takes away from the beauty of your home.
Some personal photos are fine to keep up on the walls, but too many family photos and oversized artwork may be distracting and overwhelming to the general public. When you are trying to sell your home and start to think of it as a blank canvas for the new homeowner to enjoy and add their personal touches to, it will help you determine what should go and what could stay as part of your overall décor.
Want to sell your home? Invest in some paint. The cold, winter months are a good time to paint the home’s interior. Accent walls are nice, but you may want to consider painting your walls and halls in a more neutral color since most buyers will appreciate a color scheme that they can spend less time updating. A fresh coat of paint, fixing any scuffs and scratches on the walls, will be very beneficial when trying to sell. How many times have you watched HGTV “House Hunters” and heard potential buyers complain about a room’s color? Although painting walls is one of the easier things to fix for home-buyers when they otherwise love a house when browsing, a paint job is just another way to freshen up a home and give it a neutral “look and feel” that will hopefully entice more shoppers.
Other ways to prepare your home for sale include thoroughly cleaning the house and garage, fixing anything that may have been broken for a while (like a cabinet pull or toilet paper holder), and taking care of any funky smells that you’ve noticed coming from the basement. We tend to overlook certain things in our homes that need fixing because we get busy and tell ourselves, “we’ll fix that next weekend”. Before putting your house on the market, make sure you create a thorough check list of items that need to be fixed and tackle that list. Give yourself enough time to fix what’s broken and freshen up what’s stale.
Now is the perfect time to begin the process of organizing the home for prospective buyers. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the market, whether you want to sell it next month or six months from now! Unsure about what your next steps should be to get your home ready to sell? Contact me and I’d be happy to answer questions or assist you in any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com. Happy New Year!
There are still home seekers that will look for that perfect new home over the holidays, with the intent of moving into their new space in the New Year. Even though it’s not the most popular time to buy or sell real estate because of everyone’s hectic schedules and cold temperatures, house hunting will still be happening. An HGTV article cites that staging your home for the holidays should be stylish and neutral, giving a vibe of the season without going overboard.
So, what do you do so your home is styled in a festive manner without making it look like a scene from “Christmas Vacation”? The following real estate tips will help, offering ideas for decorating your home and keeping your buyers in the right spirit!
Start with a clean slate. Staging your home, no matter the season, should not be overdone. And before you even unpack that first holiday decoration, make sure to clear out and clean the clutter! Take a look at your house “pre-décor”, and make sure it’s already staged, which means the extra tchotchkes and collections have been put away. If you add your ceramic Christmas tree collection to the mix without cleaning, it will surely look cluttered.
People tend to use all additional spaces in the home when they decorate for holidays, and when staging your home, this isn’t a great idea. You still want the rooms in your home to look as spacious as possible, which means limiting the holiday décor. If you think you may miss your 20 Santa figurines, keep in mind that with a little staging strategy, you’ll be celebrating your nextholiday in a new home…and you can decorate in any way you like!
Holiday flair should be cozy and coordinating. Items like a crystal bowl with pinecones or an evergreen wreath can really spruce up your house. It’s best to also match your existing décor with your holiday style. If you have a dining room painted in a soothing sky blue, stay in harmony with it by opting for white snowflakes or silver-toned ornaments and table coverings. Adding red and green to the mix would clash and not complement. The traditional red and green color scheme works well as accent tones if your room has more earthy colors like forest greens, oranges and golds.
Also, tone down gaudy light displays while your home is on the market. It’s best to use simple string lighting to play up your home’s structure or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.
Highlight the positive. As stated earlier, too many holiday items scattered throughout the home will distract, but if you add the right accessories in the right spots, it will accent your home’s best features. Think about placement of mistletoe in the arched doorway or displaying your menorah on the ledge of your living room’s bay window. When decorating, just make sure to not block a beautiful view or place cheap-looking window decals that may distract the home buyer from your lovely backyard’s vista. Own a custom fireplace? It may be best to not place 6 personalized stockings over it, taking away from its architectural details.
Neutrality is key. When trying to sell your house, it’s best to leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year as well as multiple blow-ups in the front yard like snow globes with a Santa. Because you want to attract any type of home buyer, it’s best to keep low key décor that isn’t overly religious. You also want to make sure the front yard is safe and not scattered with extension cords to activate the Christmas inflatables. An example of neutral décor may include nutcrackers, reindeer and snowmen.
Trim the tree. If a Christmas tree is in your holiday décor plans, make sure the tree fits your space nicely and not overwhelm it. Have a small living room? Use a skinny tree to save space. When your house is on the market, it also may be best to use cohesive ornaments instead of the mismatched, homemade ones your children made in school. Although those ornaments are sentimental, homebuyers will not understand their significance. Instead, set the stage for a perfect holiday in your home with a tree that looks tailored and tasteful.
Have questions about purchasing a new home in the Metro-east or selling your existing one during the holiday season? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
There are a number of different things you can do as a homeowner to winterize your home. Where we live, we can experience the mildest of winters one year and a bitterly cold mix of winter storms and below zero temperatures the next. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so here are some simple ways you can winterize your home in the next month to make sure your home is safe and sound.
Have a winter storm kit prepared. A home safety kit is a good idea, no matter the weather. The experts recommend having a container filled with food, bottled water, and other supplies that will last up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Some companies even offer pre-made kits! If a big ice storm hits and the roads become too treacherous to travel on, you’ll be glad you took some time to make a storm kit. It’s also beneficial to have one on hand just in case you lose power because of storms taking out power lines.
Trim trees in your landscaping. If you live in a wooded area and there are tree branches next to your home’s roof, windows, or electrical lines, it’s a good idea to trim them now. Keep in mind that ice and snow will weigh branches down even more, so there is definitely potential for damage to your home or landscaping.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detector check. Unfortunately, the winter months have an increase in home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces more often. Keep your loved ones safe and make sure your detectors have new batteries and if one isn’t working properly, change it out.
Fireplace chimney inspections. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or inspected? Visit www.csia.org for information on chimney safety and to find a certified chimney sweep. Cleaning your chimney each season is just one more safeguard against house-fires.
Install proper doors and windows. The better your windows and doors, the better your energy efficiency will be. Storm doors and windows also can be beneficial, and some tax credits are even available. If you can’t afford new windows, doublecheck your insulation around doors and windows and use blinds and shades to help keep the cool weather out.
Check your heating and cooling system. There are many qualified HVAC businesses in our area, and it’s important to have your furnace inspected annually by a dependable technician. It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ducts cleaned and inspected for any leaks and to regularly change your furnace’s filter throughout the winter months. A professional HVAC technician will be able to assess your existing system and help you determine what may need to be done before the cold weather hits.
Reverse ceiling fans for better circulation. Using your ceiling fans in the winter helps to keep your house warm. On typical ceiling fans, there are switches to reverse the flow. This pushes warm air downward and helps it to recirculate throughout the rooms in your home. When warmer weather is upon us, don’t forget to switch the direction again.
Keep your house colder. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler and you’ll be pleased at the lower energy bill. Wearing a sweater or layers while at home is one of the easiest ways to save money during the winter months on your utility bill.
Other things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for the cooler weather is to bring outdoor patio furniture and accessories inside for storing, also bringing any plants and flowering trees inside before the first frost. Another good idea is to clean and winterize any outdoor equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers, inspecting any of the winter tools you have during the process.
Even though there are still plenty of nice days ahead, winter will be here before we know it. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the colder weather and you’ll be more comfortable, too. Have questions about living in the Metro-east or need some tips about home ownership? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.