The Importance of Your Agent’s Pre-Market Plan for Your Property
When considering selling, research tells us you will most likely begin your search for an agent on the internet. In doing so, you will most likely come across similar advice in many subjects from different agents. One of the most common things you will hear is an urging to pay attention to the showing condition of your home. The DIYers may take this advice and start sprucing up the front yard; adding flowers, trimming back overgrown trees, etc. Some will turn their attention inside; deep cleaning the home, jamming closets and the garage full of clutter to deal with later, cleaning the carpets and windows and more.
A practice that has become almost code for many top producing agents is to hire a professional stager. The stager can act in many capacities; some will come and provide a lengthy list of “to-do” items and leave the homeowners with the list and a deadline. This is often the least costly way of incorporating a stager. Many agents offer to pay for this consultation service as part of their marketing plan for your home. (Always ask your agent, if they are suggesting staging, who is paying for what.) Other stagers can come in, roll up sleeves, and get down to helping you move furniture around, remove family photos, de-clutter and add color; some will even shop for accessories for you. Most commonly, stagers have crews at the ready to move heavy items, paint, pack and more. All of this comes at a cost, of course, but the return is well worth it. Statistics show that staged homes sell faster and for more money than homes that were not prepared in advance for marketing. Staging is one thing that works for certain and is highly recommended. But what do you do with a home that was tenant occupied for years by occupants that did not care for it as if it were their own?
The time has come to consider selling because the market is proving some great equity returns and you want to maximize your profits; you are left staring at an overwhelming project and aren’t sure where to start. You start interviewing agents and asking for market comparables to establish your value. Everything that is presented to you is coming in under what you had hoped for. You have to decide to rent again or sell, but either way there is work to be done in order to get the most money out of the investment. What is your strategy?? Let’s look at a recent case study here in Manhattan Beach: a Manhattan Beach top agent helped a seller maximize equity in a tough case study which resulted in a Cinderella story.
The subject property was vacated by long-term tenants and left in terrible condition. There was writing on the walls, badly stained carpets, staining on the walls & ceilings, old, sticky kitchen cabinets, holes in the walls, dead/brown landscape, wood damage and more to deal with. To sell this house, as-is, was a definite possibility. Most likely a builder would offer to pay lot value and scrape the lot for a new build, or an investor would offer to pick it up at a value and then do the work and flip it. To re-rent this house for top dollar and attract a higher end renter, there was still much work to be done. The owner wanted to maximize their equity in the home but was faced with a daunting task.
By hiring a seasoned, experienced market specialist, the agent went right to work for him. Armed with a vast network of qualified and cost-effective vendors, the agent’s team went to work establishing a game plan that would attract the most buyers while also spending as little as possible on the rehabilitation of the home. The agent helped the seller determine where to spend and where to save. Quickly gathering estimates, working with a rehabilitation designer/project manager, and establishing a working timeline, the agent and his team set about transforming the property into an attractive starter home for re-sale.
One of the major decisions was whether or not to go through the home and “iron-out” the kinks or leave it as is and just to corrective cosmetic work. The older tract homes, typically built in the 1940’s or 50’s, started with a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath floorplan with about 1100 sf in the original footprint. Smaller galley kitchens were common, and larger yards were found than what is available in newer homes today. As families grew and changed over the years, many of these homes were remodeled, added on to, and altered (some not permitted) and this began to create what was functional living space 30 years ago, into what is now “odd” configurations for the wants and needs of today’s family.
This home in particular had the benefit of an add-on that was done in the 1970’s which created a large, spacious family room. It was added on to the back of the home, so it took away the back wall of one of the original bedrooms; it also absorbed the window wall of the family bathroom, which had been glass bricks. The addition also created another bedroom that was accessed by way of the new family room. There was a large closet in the new family room that actually passed through to the new bedroom closet by way of adjoining space. Needless to say, this was odd. Also, a great deal of the yard area was absorbed by the new family room, reducing the outdoor space. Other quirks were an electrical switch to the exhaust fan in a bathroom being located in the hallway; a tiny closet door in the master bedroom that banged into the door to the master bathroom; a large hole in a master bedroom wall where the tenants had cut into the drywall to create a shelf for their large TV; an orphaned closet door what was the 3rd bedroom, but what became the “den” that passed through to the new family room, and a quirky laundry space in the kitchen.
The pluses were that the home had both formal and family spaces, a newer roof, limited termite damage, and the structure was sound. The addition expanded the house to a 1700+ sf footprint and it was located in a desirable neighborhood near outstanding schools. Working with the project manager and the agent, the owner was able to determine some important changes to the home that would help make sense of the floorplan by “smoothing it out”. The changes, the agent explained, would help a buyer mentally add value rather than detract from it as they walked through the home. Instead of looking at what needed to be done to make the home work for a young family and mentally calculating the costs of what would need to be done to the home after purchase, buyers would be able to walk through the home and agree that this home could work for them for many years before any additional funds would need to be put into it, thus maximizing the potential profit on the property for the seller.
In about six weeks time, the home received brand new interior and exterior paint and brand new landscaping; all the hardwood floors were re-surfaced and re-stained and came out beautifully, new tile was laid over the floors in the kitchen; the low ceiling in the kitchen was opened up, creating height and space; the doors to the laundry area were removed, a butcher’s block folding shelf installed and the area opened up to create more depth to the kitchen; new hardware, fixtures and appliances were installed. The strange glass blocks in the family room (from the back wall of the bathroom) were removed and the area patched in. A medicine cabinet was installed where the glass blocks once were.
Old Kitchen/Laundry area
New kitchen/laundry area
In the living room, the dated solid oak around the brick fireplace was painted a crisp white, while a ceiling fan was removed from the small dining area and was replaced with a new, modern chandelier. Old speakers in the ceiling were patched over, and new trim was installed in the dated recessed lighting. An electrician came through and tested out all the outlets and switches, then removed obsolete switches to clean up the circuits and make sense of the switches throughout the house. The weird switch in the hallway was moved into the bathroom where it belonged.
The 3rd bedroom that once was, became a proper den, by walling up the closet in that room and giving the space to the master bedroom on the other side of that shared wall. By absorbing that little closet, it was possible to create a new large closet in the master; the tiny door near the bathroom became a set of sliding doors to the new closet and a second set of sliding doors was added at the other end for easy access. The area between was pre-wired for a future wall mount TV. This then gave 2 closets—a “his” and “hers” closet in the proper master bedroom. A utility closet on the outside of the home was absorbed and allowed the newer 3rd bedroom off the family room to be expanded. The two closets on that end of the house were separated and proper space was created. In addition, all bedrooms received brand new ceiling fans, as this is a great draw in the summer months in older homes. The agent also assisted in communications with neighbors to each side and helped negotiate for a new addition to an existing fence to detract from neighboring views.
Finally, the end product resulted in a clean, fresh home loaded with original charm, that would function very well for an entry level buyer for many years. The home sold with multiple offers and established a new record for similar homes in the area, closing at over $1 million. It wasn’t staged and it wasn’t flipped. It was considered for the seller’s end game and a broad cross section of buyer’s needs. You’ll note that once complete, the seller did not stage the home, that’s because the issues that staging normally helps a buyer gets past were answered in the rehab project results. So, one might say the rehab was the staging perhaps . . . If this home had been truly “flipped” about another $30k to $50k would have gone into it, with deep updates to the kitchen, baths, windows, heating and more. So it wasn’t really either one, and that was a collective decision between the seller and the agent.
Had the owners sold it “as-is”, the market price would have been between $920,000 and $940,000. By spending appx. $25,000 to make the corrections to the property, the home sold at $1,010,000, netting the sellers an additional $45,000 (at least). Had the agent recommended a sale in “as-is” condition, the sellers might have only broken even on their original investment. With the correct guidance, teamwork and plan in place, this home was instead a true Cinderella story. This is an extreme case, but an important one, because not everyone wants to sell to a builder, and there are plenty of entry level buyers in the Beach Cities looking for homes like this one and don’t want to/can’t pay a premium for a flip.
A great agent will know what the hot points are for buyers and what the work-arounds are in order to bring a property around to its best performance level . They will have a trusted team of vendors at hand to employ and coordinate in order to achieve a timely result in a cost-conscious manner. They will know when it’s appropriate to employ a stager and when the job might be bigger than that. They will have your best interests at heart, will be committed to your real estate goals, and will help prepare your property for market, regardless of the size of the job.
When beginning your search for your agent, make sure to have a lengthy discussion about their pre-market practices, the experience of their vendor network, how much they can assist in the process up-front, and be sure to get referrals from past clients if you can. There are many, many things to consider when selecting the agent to work for you, but pre-market preparation planning is one of the most important, especially in a fast-paced,competitive real estate market like the one here in Manhattan Beach. [Disclaimer: The Caskey & Caskey Team listed & sold this property in Manhattan Beach, CA in Fall of 2014] To discuss our pre-market strategy, please call Dave direct at 310-374-1800 or drop him a line by emailing email@example.com.
When you’re showing your home for sale, you don’t just want to present it as-is. Here are some tips for staging your real estate for a quick sale once it’s on the market.
The outside of your home is the first and last thing a potential buyer is going to see when viewing your property. If the outside looks great, someone is already starting off with a good impression even before setting foot through the door. And they’re going to leave with a positive image when they drive away after the visit.
A few tips for increasing your curb appeal are to power-wash your driveway and any walkways, plant some fresh flowers, and trim any overgrown plants. You may also want to look into getting new house numbers, washing your windows (inside and out), and repainting if necessary.
While your home is showing, it’s best to take down family pictures, kids’ artwork, and anything that won’t hold value to a potential buyer. Home buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in your home, and they won’t be able to do that as easily if it looks like someone else is living there (even if you are).
If you have a lot of excess belongings in your home, you may want to rent out a storage space while your home is showing. Not only will this help make your home look cleaner and more organized, but it will give you less to worry about cleaning up in between open houses.
One of the main goals of an open house is to show buyers all the possibilities of a potential new home. By opening up the closets, you’ll make the rooms feel bigger and more spacious. Before you do this, try to remove as much as possible from the closets and organize them so they look nice to visitors. Again, someone should be able to picture living in your home, and with all of your clothes overflowing in their potential new closet, they’ll have a much harder time.
You want to try and eliminate as much clutter as possible in your home, but that doesn’t mean your home should be giving off a hotel-like vibe. Set out a vase of freshly cut flowers on the kitchen table, arrange a few books on the living room table, or drape a cozy blanket over the couch for a homey touch.
Sure, that spare bedroom may just be storage space for you at this point, but a potential buyer may be looking for a craft room or a home office. And with all your stuff in there, they’re going to have a hard time imagining what to do with the space. Be sure that potential buyers feel right at home no matter where they are in the house.
When it comes to selling real estate, one of the most important rules to keep in mind is that first impressions are everything. Potential home buyers can often decide within a few seconds of seeing a home whether they’d want to walk through the door for a closer look. Here are 6 effective ways to add curb appeal to your home so that buyers just have to come in to see what the rest of the home looks like.
While some buyers may find your property for sale just by driving by, many others are going to get their first peek through an online ad, flyer, or other medium. Instead of seeing your physical curb appeal, they’re going to be interested in getting a closer look through photographs. Take flattering pictures (or hire a professional to take photos) of your clean, organized, and staged home and yard in good lighting to make a great first impression on buyers.
When someone is approaching your house, they should be able to tell from the curb whether they’re at the right piece of real estate or not. A set of easy-to-see numbers in good condition will help people spot your home from the curb. Plus, the numbers can help complement your style by adding personality to the exterior of your home.
A clean, bright exterior can add aesthetic appeal and even financial value to your home. If someone comes up to your house and sees an oil-stained driveway and dirty panels on the front of your home, they’re likely going to assume that the rest of the home and property is dirty and unkempt as well—and be unlikely to want to visit an open house. To give your property a bright, positive feel, start by power washing the driveway, walkways, and the exterior of your home.
Clean the windows (inside and out) so that people are looking at clear, streak-free glass. On the front of your house, open up the blinds, curtains, and/or shutters so that your home seems open and welcoming. People want to be able to sneak a peak of the inside of a home as they’re walking up and getting their first impression.
If your roof isn’t in the best condition, it may be time to replace some shingles or retile the roof before you put your house on the market. What may seem like a tedious fix could be a deciding factor for a potential home buyer. They want to feel like the house they’re moving into is sturdy, secure, and attractive from both the inside and the outside.
A fresh coat of paint on the door, trim, or siding of a house can make all the difference in its appearance. Make your home look just as good as the day you bought it by freshening up the color before it’s on the market. You’re best off sticking with neutral colors to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.
IN HOME CONSTRUCTION….”GREEN” IS THE WAY TO GO!
Did you know that the South Bay’s own City of Hermosa Beach is at the forefront of this important trend? Hermosa Beach has employed a Green Task Force to “promote a healthy environment, including green building, energy efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable transportation, water conservation, a reduced carbon footprint, and related matters” Additionally, homeowners and builders have become more environmentally aware and there has been a shift to build more eco-friendly homes, not only to take advantage of the building incentives offered by the City, but also to to their part in building a model city for the next generations. It is more and more common to see “green” features, such as low e-windows, or solar power systems now found in the average home. Many builders are also using engineered wood for beams and trusses and installing water efficient toilets and showers as standard building practice. Another new green building trend is the application of mold resistant, anti-fungal drywall in every room. CertainTeed gypsum board achieves the best possible score of 10 for mold resistance and is GREENGUARD certified. It absorbs less than 5% water by weight after 2-hour immersion (as per ASTM C 473 testing methods). The 2014 Sunset Magazine Idea House that was featured right here in Manhattan Beach (built by Mike Davis Custom Homes) was a showcase home displaying the latest trends in eco-conscious building all within an ultra-luxury design. Click here to read more.
GOING HIGH TECH
Homeowners are also becoming quite tech savvy, and as a result, they are wanting their homes to have all the latest gadgets. Of course every room must have wi-fi and an iPod/iPad station. Builders are also adding charging stations in kitchens and entryways for telephones and iPods/iPads, as well as laptops. Most music and televisions are controlled by apps on personal mobile devices now. In addition, keyless entry seems to be the latest rage. Builders are adding fingerprint door locks or locks with pass-codes. Again, we look to the 2014 Idea House in Manhattan Beach which not only showcased the latest in “green” trends, but also the latest in gadgetry. The home featured ‘Stealth speakers’, automated window treatments controlled by an app, a top-of-the-line Vantage home automation system, touch-less faucets, and even Kohler’s space-aged Numi toilet which features a fold-out design and an external full-color touch-screen device that controls seat temperature, water pressure, radio stations, and more. CLICK HERE to read more about the hi-tech features in the 2014 Idea House. SAY GOODBYE TO THE LIVING ROOM Do you have a formal living room that is used ONLY for holidays? A place to put that Christmas tree? Well you are not the only one, so now builders are leaving living rooms off of plans in lieu of the “Great” room. Open floor plans are still hot and much desired. Homeowners are looking for that big open space that includes the living area, the dining area, and the kitchen, and many want that space to open up to a big outside living area. Builders are going for that indoor/outdoor space, where large glass sliders open up to the exterior with a built in fireplace and outdoor sofas–a space we like to call the “outdoor living room”. Click here for more hot trends in home building and design in 2015! 21 great design concepts, ideas and more.
If selling your home in 2017, there are some new state requirements to be aware of:
WATER-CONSERVING PLUMBING FIXTURES
Senate Bill SB-407 was approved by the California State Governor in 2009 establishing requirements for residential AND commercial properties built and available for use on or before January 1994 to replace plumbing fixtures that are not water conserving. The bill requires that on or before January 1, 2017, all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in any single family residential real property to be replaced by the property owner with water conserving plumbing fixtures.
The bill requires sellers of single family residential properties, multi-family residential properties or commercial properties to disclose the status of existing water conserving fixtures in the home and bring to code any fixtures that are not compliant.
A “Noncompliant plumbing fixture” means any of the following:
(1) Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
(2) Any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush.
(3) Any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
(4) Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.
This requirement does not apply to:
(a) Registered historical sites.
(b) Real property for which a licensed plumber certifies that, due to the age or configuration of the property or its plumbing, installation of water-conserving plumbing fixtures is not technically feasible.
(c) A building for which water service is permanently disconnected.
If a property is scheduled for demolition, the requirements will be postponed for one year from the date of issuance of a demolition permit. Click for more details.
If you are considering selling in 2017 and are unsure if your home meets the requirements or needs updates to your fixtures, please contact our office and we will assist in coordinating a plumbing inspection, estimates and updates so that when it is time to go to market, the home is compliant prior to a home inspection. Or if you would like to manage the updates on your own, many hardware stores, such as The Home Depot, make it easy to determine the appropriate fixtures to purchase for updates.