Getting Ready For Market

Getting Ready For Market

How do you approach homes that may not be ready for market when you first see them?  Is it better if the home is completely ready before you see it?

Generally, its best if I see your home before you make any changes to get it ready for market. After 25 years selling real estate in this town, I am able to help you figure out where your money is best invested to reap the highest return from the market and advise you on current trends.  You may be focusing on things that are not important to buyers, and may overlook things that are.

Realizing top market value is a common goal for sellers, and in today’s HGTV-inspired market, it’s achievable with the right preparations. I’m here to guide you through those decisions, using my market expertise to ensure that your investments are both wise and likely to return their value. Together, we can navigate the nuances of the market’s current expectations. My role is to provide you with candid, constructive feedback to help you understand the market’s perspective. It’s a collaborative journey, where I share insights—not to criticize, but to empower you. I appreciate the love and care you’ve invested in your home, and my aim is to honor that by positioning your property as a compelling opportunity for buyers, avoiding the pitfalls of a stagnant listing or the need for multiple price adjustments.  Therefore, while your home’s story is uniquely yours, I’m here to help translate it into the universal language of the current market for a seamless sale. Let’s work together to turn your home’s potential into a polished presentation that stands out, ensuring you don’t just list your house, but truly showcase it for what it can offer to the next owner!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Making a Strong First Impression

Making a Strong First Impression

As we consider listing our home, what are the best, quick, and affordable changes we can make to enhance its sales appeal?

First impressions are pivotal when selling your home, and a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-efficient ways to make a dramatic impact. Choose neutral shades that not only provide a blank canvas for buyers but also complement any decor style they might imagine. Light hues can make small spaces feel larger and more open, while soft tones can soothe and welcome. If a full house repaint isn’t feasible, focus on high-traffic areas and any walls with noticeable wear. Pair this with strategic touch-ups such as baseboard polishing, door frame repairs, and elimination of scuff marks to convey meticulous maintenance.

Enhancing curb appeal is another transformative and budget-friendly strategy. Start with basic landscaping; prune overgrown bushes, weed garden beds, and add vibrant plants for color. Ensure your lawn is green and manicured, as a healthy lawn is synonymous with diligent upkeep. The entryway is also crucial—consider a new doormat, potted plants, and perhaps a fresh coat of paint on the front door to make a welcoming statement.

Internally, decluttering and depersonalizing spaces are essential. This process involves more than just tidying; it requires removing excess furniture and personal items to showcase the spaciousness and potential of each room. Follow this by deep cleaning every corner of your home, from steam-cleaning carpets to scrubbing grout lines, to present a spotless environment. Updating fixtures and fittings, such as doorknobs, cabinet pulls, and light fixtures, with modern alternatives can refresh the entire feel of your home. These changes, while seemingly small, can significantly modernize the space and increase its appeal to buyers who are often looking for move-in-ready homes.

In summary, a few well-considered changes can have a substantial effect on the appeal of your home. Fresh paint, curb appeal, and thoughtful interior updates are practical and financially savvy ways to enhance your home’s attractiveness to potential buyers. As always, if you’re looking for tailored advice or have specific questions about preparing your home for sale, don’t hesitate to reach out. With the right preparations, we can ensure your home stands out in the market and catches the eye of discerning buyers.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

The Impact of the New Court Decision on Pricing

The Impact of the New Court Decision on Pricing

Given the current focus on real estate commissions and buyer’s agents, how should I consider these changes when pricing my home for sale?

Understanding the true value of your property has always been a cornerstone of successful selling. However, in the light of the new real estate judgment, pricing your home correctly has become even more nuanced. Historically, listing prices took into account the commissions paid to both the listing and buyer’s agents as part of the overall transaction costs. With potential changes in how some commissions may be structured, sellers might consider these adjustments when determining their listing price.

First, it’s essential to recognize that the commission’s structure can influence the buyer’s ability to purchase. For instance, if buyers are now expected to shoulder their agent’s commission, this could effectively limit their purchasing power, which, in turn, might necessitate a pricing strategy that takes these new buyer constraints into account. Moreover, while it may be tempting to consider a higher listing price presuming that you, as a seller, might not have to pay the buyer’s agent commission, this approach can be shortsighted. A pricing strategy should not solely reflect changes in commission structures but also be grounded in a comprehensive market analysis. This includes an assessment of comparable sales, market demand, and the intrinsic value of the home’s features and location.

In theory, saving on the buyer’s agent commission might seem an effective way to boost your bottom line, but this overlooks a crucial aspect of the sales process—the appraisal.  Appraisers are keen observers of market trends, and they evaluate home values based on recent comparable sales, which include an analysis of the total transaction cost. If comparable sales in the area have typically included a buyer’s agent commission, appraisers may adjust the value they assign to homes where such commissions are not factored into the sale price. This means that by choosing not to absorb the buyer’s agent commission, sellers could face the risk of their property appraising for a lower value, which in turn could affect the actual sale price, potentially negating any anticipated increase in net proceeds.

It is essential to weigh the immediate financial benefits against the potential long-term implications of changing how commissions are handled. A property that’s listed without accounting for a buyer’s agent commission might initially seem more profitable for the seller but could ultimately lead to a lower appraisal value and, consequently, a reduced sale price.

Moreover, there’s the practical consideration of marketability. A home priced without a buyer’s agent commission might be less attractive to prospective buyers who expect this customary cost to be included. This could potentially limit the buyer pool and affect the number of offers received.

In these changing times, a nuanced approach to pricing your home is more critical than ever. A comprehensive pricing strategy, one that goes beyond just the numbers and understands the subtle dynamics of the current market, can make the difference between a home that sells promptly at the right price and one that languishes on the market.

To summarize, the shifting landscape of real estate commissions requires a thoughtful approach to pricing your home. An informed pricing strategy considers not only the seller’s potential net gains but also the home’s market value as determined by appraisers and the expectations of buyers. As you navigate these new waters, I am here to offer the expertise and guidance needed to price your home competitively and effectively. Reach out if you seek a partner in this journey—one who comprehends the intricacies of today’s market and is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your sale.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Why You Need a Buyers Agent

Why You Need a Buyers Agent

With all of the conversation about buyers agents, commissions, and possibly having to pay for our own buyers agent, why should we even engage one?

It is important to note that Pennsylvania does not recognize oral buyer agency, so if you want representation when you are buying a home, you will have to enter into a written buyer agency agreement with a Realtor. If you choose to do otherwise then keep in mind – no matter what you say to the Realtor, they will always be representing the seller and working in only the seller’s best interests. 

However, engaging a buyer’s agent when considering the purchase of a home offers you several significant benefits. First, a buyer’s agent brings expert knowledge of the real estate market, which is crucial for making an informed decision. They possess a deep understanding of current market trends, property values, and the nuances of different neighborhoods, which can be invaluable to you. Their expertise extends to understanding the legal and procedural aspects of buying a home, ensuring that you navigate these complexities with ease. Furthermore, they have access to a wide range of properties, some of which may not be publicly listed, thus providing you with more options to find their ideal home.

Another critical advantage of hiring a buyer’s agent is their role in negotiation and transaction management. A buyer’s agent represents your interests, which means they are working to ensure you get the best possible deal. They are skilled in negotiation tactics and can effectively communicate with sellers and their agents to secure a favorable purchase price and terms. This can result in significant savings and a more favorable contract for you. Additionally, they manage the intricacies of the buying process, including paperwork, inspections, and deadlines, which can be overwhelming if you are not well-versed in real estate transactions. Their oversight helps in avoiding common pitfalls and errors that can occur in real estate deals.

Lastly, the emotional support and guidance a buyer’s agent provides should not be underestimated. Purchasing a home is often an emotional and stressful journey, filled with uncertainties and significant financial implications. A buyer’s agent acts as a trusted advisor, offering objective advice and support throughout the process. They can provide reassurance during challenging moments and help you stay focused on their long-term goals and needs. This emotional support, coupled with their professional expertise, makes the home-buying experience more manageable and less daunting, ultimately leading to better outcomes for you. In summary, engaging a buyer’s agent is a wise decision if you are serious about purchasing a home, as it ensures expert guidance, effective negotiation, and valuable emotional support throughout the process.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Buying is Still a Smart Choice

Buying is Still a Smart Choice

The high interest rates are discouraging to us and we are not sure we want to purchase – any thoughts?

The decision to buy a house, whether a first home or a new home, is one of the most significant financial choices many individuals will make in their lives. While rising interest rates may seem like a deterrent, there are compelling reasons why the current real estate landscape still offers tremendous opportunities for potential homebuyers.

Real estate has proven to be a strong long-term investment. Even with higher interest rates, purchasing a home today can lead to substantial equity growth over the years. Real estate has a history of appreciating in value, and buying a home now positions buyers to benefit from potential future appreciation.  High rates are also holding some buyers back for the time being, which allows you an opportunity to buy with less competition.

While high interest rates can be a concern for those seeking mortgages, they also present an opportunity for buyers to secure a fixed-rate mortgage while rates are still relatively low by historic standards. A fixed-rate mortgage ensures stable monthly payments throughout the life of the loan, providing a sense of financial security and predictability that renting cannot.  While rates may feel comparatively high, economists and financial experts predict that interest rates may continue to rise in the coming years. By entering the market now, buyers have the opportunity to secure a home and a mortgage at what are still relatively lower rates before they increase further.  If they drop, you can refinance.  But how long do you want to sit on the fence and miss out on opportunities while you hope for a miracle (2.65% will probably end up as a once-in-a-lifetime that we all need to move past, unless you simply never want to move)?

Homeownership also offers a range of tax benefits, such as deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. These advantages can help offset the impact of higher interest rates, making homeownership more affordable in the long run. While interest rates may be higher, lenders are still offering a variety of financing options to suit different budgets and preferences. Buyers can explore loan programs, down payment assistance, and other resources that can help mitigate the impact of higher interest rates.

In the face of rising interest rates, the decision to buy remains an attractive option for those seeking stability, investment opportunities, and a place to call home. While it’s essential to consider the financial implications of higher rates, the potential benefits of homeownership, including equity growth, tax advantages, and personal satisfaction, can outweigh the short-term impact of slightly increased mortgage rates. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent and mortgage professional can help buyers navigate the current market and make informed decisions that align with their long-term goals.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Time For A Change?

Time For A Change?

We are frustrated that our house has not sold and everyone gives us different advice.  We are thinking of changing Realtors.  Who should we believe? 

Prolonged higher interest rates have caused a decrease in buyer confidence and a very uneven market – some segments are still selling “high” while other segments are very slow. And of course when a home does not sell, everyone has a different reason to offer you.  Assuming you did your research up front on your agent’s expertise and you feel that they are a seasoned agent offering your home good exposure to the market, then changing agents is probably not going to do much for your home sale.  The best course of action is to put your trust in the agent whose credentials you verified upfront and follow their lead. 

That said, consider whether you are doing your part (selling a home is, after all, a partnership – its not all about what your Realtor is doing for you – the question you need to consider is are you doing your part and presenting a home that is market ready for sale?)  Realtors do not have magic wands – we cannot make a buyer buy a home that is not prepared well for market.  On my website, askkathe.com, there are many articles about getting your home ready for sale.  A brief summary of some major considerations include:

  • Is your home squeaky clean? Did you deep clean?  Are the windows shiny inside and out? Are the carpets free of stains, wear and tear?
  • Is the color palate of your home primarily neutrals in a single color or two, and is the paint fresh?
  • Are the floorcoverings, clean, free of wear and tear, and in a current color palate?
  • Have you decluttered your closets, cabinets and storage areas? Have you rehomed what you won’t be taking with you? If you have moved out, have you really moved out, with nothing left behind?
  • Have you had you home professionally staged? Yes, its an expense, but more often than not a home stager has the “midas touch” you are probably looking for!

Every home is unique and so one size does not fit all.  Your Realtor (or me, if you don’t have one) can provide you with the best advice on how to best present your home for a successful sale.  And of course, if you are a seller who just wants to sell “as is” there will be a buyer for your home – you just need to adjust the price to a lower price point that will attract a buyer willing to put in the effort.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Planning for Retirement

Planning for Retirement

We are moving toward retiring and downsizing.  Is there anything we should be thinking about as we move toward this goal?

One very important thing for you to consider is how you plan to pay for your retirement home. If you are thinking you want to finance your home with a mortgage, you are going to need an income stream that the lender can use to qualify you for the loan.  Simply having a large bank account is not enough to get a mortgage – the lender will need to see that your assets are generating enough income to pay for the mortgage and associated home ownership costs.  You may not have your assets invested in income producing investments and may instead be invested in appreciating assets.  Lenders will not consider capital gains when qualifying you for a mortgage, although they will generally look at your social security income if you are receiving that.  Many buyers are surprised by this issue, and find themselves retired with no regular income stream and unable (probably for the first time ever) to get a mortgage.

You do have options of course!  You could plan your downsize move BEFORE you retire so that you still have your employment income stream that can be used to qualify for a mortgage.  It is very important that you have not announced your retirement before purchasing the retirement home, however.  The lender will verify your continued employment right up to your closing date, and if they here from your employer that you are retiring, you may lose your loan.

You could also plan to pay cash for your retirement home.  If you plan to go this route, you will want to make sure you have saved sufficient funds.  If you are planning to use your equity in your current home to buy your retirement home, you will need to consider how to bridge the gap between selling your existing home and buying the next one – there are many options available to you.  If you are planning a retirement and a move, please reach out to me in advance – I can help you strategize for a successful transition on all fronts.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Be Careful of What You Click!

Be Careful of What You Click!

When I see one of your listings on Zillow and click on contact agent, why don’t you respond?  Why is it always some random agent?

As with many things, there is a short answer and a long answer!  First, the short answer!  Zillow sells the “buyer leads” on all the homes posted on their website to Realtors who pay for the leads!  When you click “request a tour” or “contact agent” you will not get the listing agent.  This is also true for realtor.com and other aggregating websites.  If you scroll down you can see the listing agent’s name and office number, but there is no way to make direct contact with the listing agent.  Its easy enough to find my contact info – just google my name and it is readily available!

Now for the longer answer.  Zillow is a publicly traded company and as such must operate in a way to maximize returns for its shareholders.  Years ago I was able to purchase all of the leads on my listings, but Zillow has discontinued that model, determining that was not the most lucrative option for their shareholders.  However, the vast majority of people who click on “schedule a showing” or “contact agent” do not turn out to be serious buyers, so more often than not the agents that purchase these leads are agents who need business and are willing to gamble on the random nature of Zillow assigning them buyer prospects.  I am not one of those agents, nor are the majority of my successful colleagues.

My best advice to every real estate consumer out there is do NOT rely on Zillow as a means of scheduling your showings.  Why trust your largest investment to a randomly assigned agent? Do your research. Review agent websites.  Find a Realtor with the credentials that match what you are looking for in an agent.  And then contact that agent directly whenever you are interested in seeing a home!  If all else fails, find the listing agents name (far down on the right side column on Zillow) and then google the listing agent to find their cell number and contact the agent directly.  To reach me, just add me to your phone: 412-779-6060 – I’m always happy to take your real estate calls!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Buyers Need Flexibility

Buyers Need Flexibility

We are still looking for our new home and not having any luck – any advice?

In the current real estate market, inventory shortages have become a significant challenge for homebuyers. With fewer options available, it’s crucial for prospective buyers to adjust their expectations and be less selective when searching for homes. While it’s natural to have specific preferences and desires when looking for a new home, being flexible can greatly increase the chances of finding a suitable property in this competitive market.

Limited inventory means that the number of available homes in desirable locations is significantly reduced. Buyers should consider expanding their search criteria to include neighborhoods that they may not have considered before. Exploring different areas can unveil hidden gems and present opportunities that may have been overlooked initially. Additionally, being open to alternative property types, such as townhouses, condominiums or co-ops, can provide more options and increase the likelihood of finding a suitable home.

When searching for a new home, focus on the essentials rather than simply rejecting a home due to minor imperfections. While it’s important to prioritize certain non-negotiables, such as the number of bedrooms, being overly selective about cosmetic features or small flaws can significantly limit the available choices. By adopting a more flexible mindset, you can find properties with great potential that might just require a little bit of creativity and renovation to meet your desired aesthetic.

Finally, when inventory is low as it is currently, multiple buyers often compete for the same properties, leading to bidding wars and higher prices. By broadening your search criteria and being open to a wider range of options, you may find yourself in a less competitive position. This can give you more room to negotiate, increase the likelihood of a successful offer, and potentially secure a home at a more reasonable price.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

The Power of Staging

The Power of Staging

Do you think it’s a good investment to stage our home before putting it on the market?

Home staging is one of the most important things a seller can do to improve their chances for a successful sale!  Staging is just as important as is getting the price right when it comes to attracting the most buyers and driving in the best possible offer.  The National Association of Realtors shares “Buyers want to easily envision themselves within a new home, and home staging is a way to showcase the property in its best light.”

Why is staging so important?  The overwhelming majority of buyers start their home search online and surveys show that buyers who see photos of a staged property online are more willing to do a physical walkthrough of the property.  81% of buyer’s agents surveyed indicated that staging helps their clients visualize life in a home.  A third say that staging boosts home value, particularly if the aesthetic fits the client’s tastes.  And nearly one quarter of survey respondents say that staging may help buyers look past property faults.

Home staging is typically done by trained professionals specializing in readying homes for the best possible outcome when they hit the market.  While Realtors can provide advice, a home stager’s expert eye can make a huge difference in the success of your sale.  Sometimes stagers can work with your furnishings, and sometimes they bring in rented furnishings. Yes, it is an expense, but in my professional opinion, sometimes it takes money to make money, and home staging is an excellent investment to generate the best possible returns!

Don’t just list your home, get it the attention it deserves by making sure it looks its very best from the outset!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Tub or Shower? That is the Question.

Tub or Shower? That is the Question.

Both our bathrooms have claw-foot tubs which I am thinking of replacing with walk-in showers.  What is the value of having a tub in the bathroom in place of a shower or in addition to a shower?

Every home must have at least one bathtub.  A prospective buyer might have kids or just like a good soak and many will reject a home if there isn’t a tub available.  More often than not, if there is only one tub in a home it is in a kid’s bathroom, and this is most commonly configured as a tub/shower combination.  There could be a tub in the master bathroom as well, but only if there is abundant space. If you have to choose between a large, luxurious (spacious) shower in the master or a tub/shower, ditch the tub and go for a pure shower.  If there are multiple kids bathrooms, then only one needs to have a tub.  Typically, that tub is not a claw foot tub unless it has a shower ring (which is not tremendously appealing).  When claw foot tubs remain, they are typically in a bathroom that has plenty of room for both a shower and a tub. Re-glazed, these antique tubs can be the focal point of a remodeled luxury bath.

As far as value goes, value is really only recouped if you remodel the entire bathroom.  In other words, if you put in a new shower but leave the old floor tile and old vanity, you really have added no value.  If you redo the whole bathroom, you will likely recoup more than what you pay to remodel the bathroom, as long as you shop smartly when doing your remodel and sell your home while the bathroom still feels current (under 15 years). It is also very important to make choices that are classic and stand the test of time if you don’t want your home to feel dated sooner rather than later. I suggest, given the age of your home, that you make classic choices — Carrera marble, white subway tile, and silver-tone fixtures would all be timeless choices appropriate for an historic home.

Of course, I am available to provide on-site advice if that would be helpful to you as you have many options – give me a call – I’m happy to provide my free advice!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Pricing is Key

Pricing is Key

We have been hearing about the lack of inventory and the hot market – we feel this could be a great time to get a premium price for our home. Are we right? 

Inventory is low, that is a fact.  We are back to bidding wars. Data indicates that Pittsburgh prices increased 12.7% in 2021 and another 5.5% in 2022.  High interest rates have not caused a downturn in this spring market.  The millennials are buying in droves and there is no end in sight.  So yes, now is a great time to sell.

However, not every home is selling fast and at a high price.  There are plenty of homes sitting on the market, with gradual price reductions.  Why?  Longer time on the market is often the result of an improper alignment of price and condition. In other words, I like to tell my sellers I can sell any home, but not at any price.  The price of the home must be carefully calibrated to features and condition.  This is where an expert agent comes in.  Agents who tour all of the inventory can help you to understand the subtle differences between homes and what it takes to generate premium prices.  Not every client is willing or able to invest the resources to generate a premium price and that’s ok – price just needs to be adjusted accordingly.

So what does it take to achieve a premium price?  In my opinion it starts with a pre-inspection and repair of some of the most concerning items.  A spruce-up might be necessary – repainting wear and tear or strong colors, replacing dated lighting fixures… A deep clean is generally a must, and this goes way beyond what your weekly housekeeper can do. Staging is also a must if your house is vacant, and even if its not, a home stager or home organizer can help you get everything in good order.

Pricing, however is the ultimate key to success.  It seems many sellers want to push the market right now and if you aren’t careful, you may end up with less than you would have had you priced properly out of the gate.  It’s important to get the advice of an expert in your market area and then follow that advice, regardless of what you think or need.  If you have to reduce later, you will have lost market momentum and that cannot be regained.  Review a well-reasoned market report and then price according to the data, not according to your emotions, and you will likely have a positive result you can take to the bank!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

The “In” Color

The “In” Color

We are planning to update the color palette in our home.  What are the “in” colors these days?

Gray (and its many shades including greige) have been in-style for so long now that its hard to imagine it still holds its alure, and many homeowners are venturing into different color palettes.  However, gray is still extremely popular with buyers – homes painted in a gray/greige and white color palette almost universally fly off the market.  And if you have to choose between gray/greige and any other color (except white), always choose gray! If you need a break from gray, however, the incoming trend is strongly leaning towards the whites.  White comes in so many shades – and even straight out of the can white is quite a nice and refreshing color.  In some cases white is being combined with an accent wall in a gray tone or other neutral, and this can work quite well.

Of course, like any other color, it is critical that you choose the correct shade of white to compliment your trim. It is easy to end up with the walls clashing with the trim if you are not careful! An easy solution is to paint the walls the same color white as your trim!  Don’t let the whites fool you – there are so many shades of white, and before you paint be sure to look at the undertones in the white to determine which undertone you prefer – a tiny hint of gray? Pink? Green? Unless you use the white straight out of the can, there will always be an undertone.

Where to start your painting?  Strong colors and yellow tones are not currently where the buying market is, so its best to start be repainting rooms that are currently wallpapered (also not popular with buyers unless the wallpaper is pretty new and very trendy) and rooms that are painted the strongest colors.  In an ideal world, you will ultimately create an interior aesthetic that, while ever room does not need to be the same, the colors blend nicely together.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Spring Inventory Requires Reevaluation

Spring Inventory Requires Reevaluation

We have been sitting on the sidelines for a while now waiting for a home that meets our wish list to come on the market – what’s coming this spring?

You might be surprised to find out you are one of dozens of prospective buyers sitting on the sidelines waiting for their ideal home to come on the market. Nationally we are at a 20 year low in available housing inventory. What is going on you might ask?

Many blame it on the Baby Boomers! Seventy-eight percent of Boomers own their own homes, and 85% of them have no intentions to move within the next year. This is tying up a significant portion of potentially available housing inventory. Why aren’t Boomers moving?  Stated reasons range from being happy where they live and not wanting to uproot their lives, to having inadequate choices in empty nester inventory to escalating prices that make scale down homes more and more expensive. Boomers are choosing to stay in the homes and communities where their family and friends are.

In Sewickley, we have very few opportunities for scale down housing, and so Boomers are remaining in their homes. As a result, our inventory continues to dwindle and there are very few new introductions. There will likely be a few relocations, but with the low inventory and large backlog of buyers, I expect pricing will be high and bidding wars will continue. 

To be successful in this housing market, if you define success as actually getting a home and moving, you are going to have to accept a few key premises. First, you need to reevaluate your wish list and see what compromises you are willing to make. We still have many nice homes on the market – they may not be a perfect match for you, but could you make one work? Second, if you decide to wait and a home comes on the market that is a good fit for you, be prepared to act fast and bid high. Complete the preapproval process now so that your offer is as strong as possible.

Our market is a steady one and I do expect we will see some new introductions as we move into our spring market, but your best recipe for success is one that includes reevaluation of the current inventory, compromise, fast action and generous, well-crafted offers.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Relocation Expertise

Relocation Expertise

We are relocating to another city – what is the best way to find an agent there?

The best way to find a Realtor in another city, whether you are moving there yourself or have a family member or friend who needs to find a Realtor, is to call me first! Yes, even if you are not in need of an agent locally, I am still your best resource to find an exceptional Realtor! As an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty, we have offices across the globe and I have a network of agents I can access on your behalf. In fact, just this week I have been at the Sotheby’s GNE (Global Networking Event) and have deepened my personal global connections so that wherever you are and wherever you want to be I can connect you to the very best Realtor for your personal needs!
If you are like most people, you are likely seeking the most qualified Realtor with the most relevant experience to you. While many consumers simply push the “Request a Tour” or “Contact Agent” button on Zillow, what you may not be aware of its that agents pay to be the agent who gets your “lead” from pushing that button – it is highly unlikely that it is the listing agent and there is a very good chance the agent is not someone who has a lot of experience in the neighborhood you are interested in. Why take that chance?
 
Don’t push the buttons on websites (unless you are on an agent’s dedicated site and trying to reach that agent)! And if you take the approach of choosing agents by walking into real estate offices or open houses you may also not be finding the agent with the most or best experience for your needs – typically agents manning the desk at the office or hosting the open houses for listing agents are not the agents with the experience you may be seeking.
I can easily (and at absolutely no cost to you) cut through all the messiness and confusion for you and help you find the perfect agent wherever in the world you (or your friend/family member) want to be! Take advantage of my service – I am here to help! And remember, Sotheby’s International Realty provides luxury service at ALL price points!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Spring Selling

Spring Selling

With the weather warming up outside, any tips for selling our home?

Spring is in fact in full swing! With the bright sunshine and warming temperatures, it’s a great time to be focused on making sure the outside of your home is looking it’s best. Whether you are thinking of selling your home or not this year, a yearly exterior audit of your home is always a good idea to keep it in its best possible condition. But if you are selling, curb appeal is critical to attract buyers. Start with the front of your home and work your way back to your non-public spaces. Make sure you have cleaned out your planting beds from the fall. Rake out any leaves, trim back shrubs. Order fresh mulch. Plant colorful annuals in your planters. Review your lawn and make sure it is in good shape. If there are bare spots, reseed them. If you have large trees on your property, make sure they are all healthy and any dead limbs are removed.

This is also a great time to make sure your gutters are clean – gutters full of leaves suggest a homeowner isn’t up on their maintenance. Be sure to have your windows cleaned inside and out. With the sun streaming in through the windows, all of the winter dirt is very apparent so its important to make sure they are crystal clear (this will also improve your photos!) Take the time to put out your outdoor furniture. Be sure patios and porches are well swept. Step back from your home and see whether your paint is in good shape- – if there are areas that are peeling, have the scraped and repainted. Be sure the front door is clean and nicely painted. Remove all seasonal décor (Christmas wreaths and lights). Ask a friend to stop by and do a quick walk-around for any areas that need attention – a fresh eye is always likely to catch those things you have gotten used to and overlook. Need help finding service providers? Reach out and I’m happy to share my lists.

Spring has in fact sprung! Make sure your home is well-prepared for the strongest market of the year!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Sounds Too Good To Be True

Sounds Too Good To Be True

WE WOULD LIKE TO BUY A NEW HOME SOON BUT INTEREST RATES SEEM VERY HIGH – WE SEE ADVERTISEMENTS FOR INTERNET LENDERS OFFERING WHAT SEEM TO BE BELOW MARKET RATES.  IS THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? 

If you were simply refinancing an existing mortgage debt, you MAY be ok choosing an internet lender.  You would just need to be very careful that, before you apply to refinance your loan, you receive from the lender a full disclosure of all the costs and not just the rates.  Often times I see lenders have exorbitantly high fees connected with low rates.  In a sense, you would be buying down your rate by paying high fees upfront.  You would want to be sure to compare them on the same day to a couple of local lenders and understand what you are paying to get the quoted rates.  The reason you must compare rates on a singular date is because rates go up and down continuously and a rate may seem lower simply because you called a particular lender on a date rates dropped.

Since you are buying a new home rather than refinancing, I do NOT recommend that you use an internet lender.  They do not tend to be familiar with area norms and that can cause you more headaches than you can imagine.  There is a long list of particularities to PA Agreements of Sale and the last thing you want to do is have your closing delayed (while your movers are standing at the curb) while you wait for your lender (who does not have a local presence that you can visit personally to address any issues) to sort things out.  As they are not familiar with our Agreements and processes, internet lenders may also impose requirements on you that are not requirements generally imposed by local lenders that may disadvantage you later.  Finally, internet lenders often do not understand that PA Agreements of Sale declare “time is of the essence” inside the contract – what that means to you is that if you miss your closing date because the lender isn’t ready to close, the seller does have the legal right to declare you in default, keep your hand money and sell the home to someone else.

When buying, why take a risk?  Rely on your trusted Realtor to help you find a local lender who offers the most competitively priced loan products and delivers exceptional customer service.  Realtors cannot accept referral fees from lenders, so you can be sure we are motivated only by knowing you will have an outstanding transaction.  Feel free to reach out to me for help finding you the best local lender to meet your financing needs!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

A Season of Gratitude

A Season of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all that we have to be grateful for!  We are so fortunate to be living in a time where the pandemic is essentially behind us – with all of the holiday get togethers scheduled, its clear we have moved on, just like they did one century ago!

2022 has been another great year in real estate despite the higher interest rates and the ups and downs that the year has otherwise delivered, and I personally have so much to be thankful for.  I appreciate all of you, my clients, friends and supporters, who have played a part in my rewarding 24-year career in Sewickley real estate – your continued confidence in me means so much to me! My appreciation also goes out to all of the people I work with every day that make real estate transactions so seamless for my clients – from the best mortgage brokers and closers to incredible home inspectors .and handymen, contractors, electricians, roofers… that I can count on to give their best to my clients.  With them by my side (or on speed dial) I have been able to provide the highest level of service to those I work with, and for that I am grateful.

Are you taking advantage of all that is available to you?  It’s still a great time to invest in real estate – while you might initially be concerned about the higher interest rates, no-cost refinances are always an option down the road, and right now you can buy with very little competition from other buyers! You will likely save significantly more in what you don’t need to pay to “win” a home with multiple offers than you will pay out due to higher interest rates between now and the time you can refinance. If you’re ready to downsize and cash in your nest egg, it’s an absolutely ideal time – inventory is low and we still have buyers waiting in line for Sewickley homes.

The spring market starts in late January – the time to prepare to sell is now! Before we say goodbye to 2022, lets take a minute to appreciate all that we have to be thankful for this holiday season!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Holiday Decor When Trying To Sell

Holiday Decor When Trying To Sell

Our home is on the market – is it ok to show it decorated for the holidays?

Decorating for the holidays while your home is on the market is not a bad idea – homes often look their best decorated for the holidays – as long as a few basic guidelines are followed. Briefly stated, when decorating this holiday season, keep your decorations more neutral and reasonably simple.

Start by taking a more minimalist approach. You may have bins and bins of holiday decorations like I do, but when your home is on the market, its best to leave some of those decorations packed away. Choose decorations that have less of a religious theme. Snowmen, evergreen wreaths, poinsettias and nutcrackers, for example, have broad appeal. Be careful that the decorations that you do choose compliment your décor.   You may have changed the color scheme in your home since buying your holiday decorations and it’s important that they don’t clash! Don’t over-decorate the exterior of your home either. A few well placed, tasteful strands of lights or an attractive evergreen wreath can add sense of warmth to your home, but keep your inflatables packed up!

If you bring in a tree, make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the room. This year a tall, skinny tree might be the best choice so that the room doesn’t feel small. And of course, consider using decorations to highlight some of your home’s special architectural features, such as using candles to draw attention to an attractive fireplace.

When showings are scheduled, a brewing pot of mulled cider or a plate of freshly baked cookies is not only seasonably appropriate but will go along way toward creating an inviting feel for your buyers. And don’t forget – even if you normally keep your thermostat down, be sure to turn it up for showings so that buyers are comfortably warm!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Don’t Let the Interest Rates Stop You

Don’t Let the Interest Rates Stop You

Interest rates jumped up again. Is it time for us to just wait until spring and hope they start to come back down? 

If you are a buyer, the real estate market offers you a great opportunity right now! Don’t be fooled by the higher interest rates – this is an awesome market for you to buy in! Why? Because all of the people who you would have been competing with are afraid of the interest rates and sitting by the sidelines.  This allows you to have a competition – free opportunity to buy a home!  Just six months ago, buyers would have been overjoyed to have an opportunity to buy a home without competition, to have had an opportunity to have had an offer accepted on the first home they offered on instead of their seventh, to have been able to purchase a home at asking price rather than asking price plus 10 percent!  Do not miss this golden opportunity – there are some very nice homes available right now. You can refinance later with a convenient no cost refinance loan – get the house now! Once rates start to come back down, the buyers (who have all been sitting by the sidelines with you) will come racing back into the market, and bidding wars will be back. Make the smart move – buy now.

And as a side note, I do not feel we will see a “crash” in prices.  Inventory remains at record lows and those homes that are selling continue to increase in their sales prices to new record highs, despite the increasing rates.  This is not 2008 – I am not anticipating any “deals” to be had this spring – if anything the natural increase in the buyer pool we see every spring will boost prices because of the extreme lack of inventory.  Feel free to reach out to me and we can strategize on how you can take the most advantage of the current real estate market while you still can!

A home’s value is set by the market.  Value is always determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for your home.  Many factors come into play in setting that value.  Market value reflects quantitative factors such as:  # bedrooms, # bathrooms, # garages, placement of garages (attached or integral), lot configuration (large and functional back yard?  Cliff lot?), location of the home generally, age of roof, age of mechanicals.  Market value also reflects more qualitative items:  how updated is your home, and is it all new, or just refreshed?  What is the floorplan (open concept?) What are your wall colors?  There is always a range that value will land in, which we call the range of reasonable.  There is no ONE price at which a home will sell.  If there are many buyers seeking a home like yours, it will sell at the top of the range of reasonable.  If there are not, it will take longer to sell and may sell a bit lower in the range.  What the market does not consider in setting a value of a home is what you need from the home.  In 2008, many homeowners had used their homes as ATMs and withdrawn large sums of money for educations, vacations and cars.  When the market softened, there was not enough equity for them to be able to sell their homes and not be in a short sale situation. This fact, that a homeowner over-extended themselves on mortgages, is not the least bit relevant to market value.  The market is also not going to consider what you plan to do next.  If you plan to move to Los Angeles to be closer to family and are finding that the Pittsburgh market is not going to yield you enough to be able to buy in L.A., you will need to turn to other investments to make up any difference.

We are in a very robust market – your home is far more likely to garner more now – whatever that may be – than it could have in the past.   Forecasters are also suggesting that values will soften by year end.  My crystal ball is out for service, but what I can tell you is that every hot market eventually softens.  Waiting out the market so that you can get a price that the market is unprepared to deliver at this time may have you waiting many, many years, and during that time you may need to invest even more in your home in order to deliver to the market what it needs in order to deliver an acceptable sale to you.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

The Value of a Deep Clean

The Value of a Deep Clean

Do we really have to have our home professionally deep cleaned before putting it on the market?

The short answer is yes, but here is why! When we live in our homes, we don’t see the dirt and the grime build up.  Even if you have your home cleaned every week, it is impossible for a weekly cleaning to keep up with the little things.  And when you want to sell your home, to achieve top dollar, it is important that your home sparkles at the highest possible level.  We are no longer in a market where buyers are happy to get any house.  We have moved back to a more traditional market and that means that sellers must take the time and incur the expense of a deep cleaning to make sure your home is squeaky clean and showing its very best.

Deep cleans are expensive and when done properly take many days of work.  It is unlikely that your weekly housekeeper (if you have one) is going to have the time to clean at this level.  Should you choose to take on the task yourself, you will soon see why deep cleans are costly and time consuming. So what is involved?  In every room of your home, every surface must be thoroughly cleaned.  Light switches and plugs should have all grime completely removed and restored to new, all vent covers (heating, ceiling fans, appliances) must be removed and washed (some may need to be repainted), all lighting fixtures must be carefully cleaned (including removing any glass bowls to clean inside) and should sparkle, all cabinets and drawers should be cleaned inside and out, windows should be washed inside and out including screens and tracks, carpets should be steam cleaned, shower grout needs to be cleaned, mineral build-up should be removed from shower/bath glass and all plumbing fixtures (try CLR and a scrub brush, or Stanley Steamer if the deposits wont budge), fireplaces need to be swept out and scrubbed down (if you burn wood in them, call a chimney sweep for a professional cleaning).  All wood work needs to be washed down or repainted as needed to look fresh.  Any smudging on walls needs to be cleaned or painted away.

Outside your home be sure that all doors are clean and fresh, that your porch/deck is clean (power wash if needed), that all lighting fixtures sparkle and that all patios and walkways are freshly power washed.

You may of course find it helpful to employ additional service providers, such as a power washer, carpet cleaner and window washer to get the job done right! It’s a big task cleaning up after years of enjoying a home, but it will absolutely pay dividends when you go to sell.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

A Market Shift

A Market Shift

We see recent projections forecast a housing downturn.  What do you think? 

You are correct – Goldman Sachs recently released a paper forecasting that the US housing market will see a downturn. Their reports predicts that new home sales will drop 22%, existing home sales will drop 17% and the housing GDP will drop 8.9% this year and that the decline will continue in 2023. This downturn is attributed to rising interest rates that were implemented to combat inflation.  They have also noted that pandemic trends for second homes are fading.  That said, the report does not anticipate a downturn in prices – just demand – and suggests given other economic factors at play that the market will remain flat for most regions.

What does this mean for home sellers?  It means a return to traditional marketing. In other words, home sellers need to anticipate that they will need to take the time to condition their homes for market, stage their homes, and present their homes in an appealing way for buyers. Gone are the days, at least for now, when buyers are so desperate that they are going to buy homes in any condition just to get a home. Sellers also need to anticipate that it may take longer to find a buyer for their home — typically in Pittsburgh most homes would take between 120 and 150 days to sell in traditional market. Home sellers need to adjust their expectations and not anticipate that their home will likely be sold in one week.  It will also be very important to price your home correctly and not take giant stabs at the market just to see if it might stick. It probably won’t stick. Appraisers are starting to doubt valuations on homes and we are starting to see some appraisal failures. For you sellers out there, it will be very important for you to pay greater attention to whom you choose as your listing agent. Marketing techniques and agent experience will become all the more important in generating a successful sale of your home. Take the time to do your research and choose an agent with great experience in all kinds of markets.

Buyers – I seriously doubt that this is going to become a buying a free-for-all like we saw back in 2009. There is no anticipation that there is going to be a downturn in pricing in Pittsburgh. But the good news is you may be able to buy a home with less competition and you may even be able to get a small discount. You still need to plan on being well qualified when you go in with your offer.  And again, choosing a buyers agent with significant experience who can help you to understand market trends and where you should be offering will be critical to a successful home purchase.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Understanding the Home Inspection

Understanding the Home Inspection

We find the inspection process confusing – do we have to fix everything in the inspection report before we close on our home or just the repairs the buyer requested?

The home inspection report is the document from which your buyer works to make their repair requests of you.  Some buyers will ask for everything and others will ask for only those items that they think are important. They may let some things go, for example, if they are planning on renovating an area and anticipate fixing those items as a part of the renovation.

Once you and your buyer agree on a list of repairs, these are memorialized on an addendum.  It is that addendum, called a Change in Terms Addendum (“CTA”), from which you work when completing your repairs. You need not refer to the inspection again unless the CTA references it. You do, however, need to make sure that you do everything on the CTA exactly as specified, so be sure to read it carefully and provide a copy to your contractor(s).  For example, if the CTA says that you will have GFCI outlets installed by a licensed electrician then you need to make sure you hire a licensed electrician, and not your favorite handyman, to make the repair! If the CTA says you must paint to match existing then you need to take a sample of the existing paint to the paint store and color match it – don’t rely on old paint in cans – paint fades with age and it won’t match.  Be very careful to be sure you are complying with the terms of the CTA – if you do not, or if your contractor does not, your closing may be delayed or postponed until the work is done as specified. Along those lines, be sure to review your contactor’s work when complete and make sure that he actually did what you agreed to do on the CTA.  If not, request that he return before it becomes a walk-through issue.

And of course, be sure to get paid receipts from all contractors, or if they have not been paid, notify the closing company so that they can be paid at closing.  All repairs must be paid for before ownership changes hands so be sure to stay on top of your bills, and provide receipts to the buyers agent.

Giving Buyers Their Space

Giving Buyers Their Space

My home has so many special features.  I think it would be best if I were at showings so I could explain them to prospective buyers.  Is that ok?  

When you are selling your home, its normal to think that only you can fully convey your home’s fine qualities to a buyer.  This leads some sellers to consider the possibility of being home for showings, so that they can make sure that the buyer prospects appreciate all of the home’s amenities.  While this may seem sensible to a seller, nothing could be further from the truth!

When buyers visit your home, it is important that they be allowed the space to imagine the home as their own.  This starts, of course, with home staging, so that the home is not overly personal when the buyers arrive.  But it extends to allowing them to tour the home alone with their buyer agent.  For buyers to buy a home, they must bond to a home.  For buyers to bond to a home, they need to be free to relax in your home and chat with their agent about what they would do to make the home their own.  This will not happen if you are present.  So what can you do to make sure they appreciate your home’s qualities?  Hire a listing agent who will design a custom brochure for your home that is available when buyers visit your home.  Such a brochure is your best ammunition – they can take it home and recall all of your home’s wonderful features and get their questions answered as well.

Giving the buyers their space extends to the home inspections as well.  The period during the home inspection is one of normal buyer remorse.  Did we buy the right home?  Will a better home become available?  Allowing buyers the freedom to return to your home alone will allow them to bond again to your home and stay committed to it during the sometimes difficult inspection process.

In fact, the only time you should interact with your buyer is at the closing.  From initial showing to return visits, inspections and walk throughs, you should always vacate your home and give the buyers their space!

Timeless Updates

Timeless Updates

We aren’t ready to move but want to update our home – what are the best choices for paint colors and flooring changes, assuming we may want to move in the next few years?

New paint colors must harmonize with the rest of your home, unless you plan to repaint the entire interior of your home, so any suggestions need to be taken in the context of what else is going on inside your home. My best suggestion for a currently fairly timeless paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray. This color blends with virtually every shade of white that might be on your trim and nearly every color flooring that might be in your home.  It is really more of a greige than a gray and, like a chameleon, changes color a bit depending on what is in the space and what kind of light is filtering in through the windows.  However, if your home is a palette if golds, for example, this color might not be the right choice!  Trending now is white on white (with trim and walls painted the same or nearly the same shade of white), but this is a design style that is best incorporated throughout the entire home, and not just a singular room.  If you have wallpaper in your space, then it’s a very good investment to have it removed (do not paint over it, no matter what the painter tells you) and painted in a color that coordinates with your design aesthetic. Wallpaper overall remains a difficult sell.

As to flooring, real wood floors remain the best investment you can make. They are timeless and easy to refinish if they become worn or if the buyer prefers a different color. I highly recommend choosing a medium tone brown, not too yellow, red or dark and preferably in ¾” thickness.  If engineered wood floors are what your budget requires, choose one that the manufacturer indicates can be refinished at least once, and keep a few extra pieces on hand in case you damage any through normal wear and tear. Bamboo is another great option and there are on-line suppliers that offer a variety of shades in ¾” planks – it is very resilient, environmentally friendly and installed can look like hardwood. I do not recommend that you choose the latest trend, “LVL” (luxury vinyl flooring), for anything beyond the basement level of your home. These are plastic floors, and if your home will likely sell for over $500,000, these floors will not be appreciated on the main or upper levels. Finally, carpet in a neutral tone plush (no berber, no mixed colors) is acceptable as long as they are clean and stain free.  If you stain them during the remaining time in your home, you would need to replace them again before you sell your home.

A Kitchen Re-Do with ROI

A Kitchen Re-Do with ROI

We are thinking of remodeling our kitchen. Any advice for us if we want to be making good choices for resale?

As much as we would all like to be creative, when it comes to the “hardscapes” of your home – the things that are difficult to change – if resale is even a remote possibility for you, or if you want to be sure to get a high return on your investment (most people expect 100% which is not always realistic), its important to make “mainstream” choices that the buying public as a whole loves!  How do you figure that out?  Pay attention to what sells quickly in our market.  Watch some HGTV.  Check out Pinterest! Here are some easy rules to follow!

The most popular cabinet color by far is white! Yes, I know, everyone has been saying for the past two decades that white is on its way out, and that is just not true!  Can you choose natural woods?  Sure. Will it generate the same excitement on resale?  It will not.  Yes, it will resell, but probably not as fast or for as much as white.  Colored cabinets?  If you pick the right (think trendy) color and are selling soon, that can work well.  But if you stay in your home for 10 more years, the color you chose may no longer be in vogue and may be a challenge to resell.

The most popular flooring in a kitchen is hardwood.  Can you choose tile?  Yes, but it will feel dated more quickly, so choose carefully.  Bamboo, cork and upscale vinyls are far less popular but can be good choices, depending on the price point.

Countertops?  Either granite or quartz are the most popular choices – either will sell well, but choose the color carefully.  Right now lighter color palates are in style for countertops.  Avoid Formica unless the property is lower end.

Appliances?  Choose stainless.  Brand is less important.  It is the look that is key.

Lighting? Here is where you can show some of your personal style.  Buy economically but not cheap.  Lights are very easy to change, so if styles change, it’s a very simple way to give your kitchen a facelift before you sell.  The same is true for paint, although wallpaper should be avoided.  Yes, the design industry claims wallpaper is back in style, but as far as buyers are concerned, nothing has changed!

Selling It Empty

Selling It Empty

We plan to move out of our home before we put it on the market.  Any thoughts on selling an empty home?

Some homes definitely sell more readily vacant – my last home was one of them – and so I definitely do not dissuade sellers from emptying their homes before selling them, but there are some important tips to keep in mind!

If you are emptying your home, then empty it.  Do not leave behind the items you don’t want.  Do not leave behind soaps, shampoos, chemicals, lawn fertilizers… Empty is empty.  So please plan on a complete clean out.  If you need help finding people to help dispose of items, give me a call!

It is critical to be sure that once your home is empty, you bring in a handyman to make sure that everything is in good order.  Holes should be patched and touch-up painted, scuffs eliminated, carpets and windows cleaned, all lightbulbs working … When there is no furniture to look at, the condition of the home is all the more important.

Make sure you have a plan for upkeep of your empty home.  The yard must be regularly maintained, including weeding, leaf and snow removal.  The interior tends to be easier to keep up, but do be sure you arrange for a periodic quick clean.  It is also a good idea to hire a neighbor or friend to check your home regularly to make sure that there has been no crisis at your home (such as a broken water pipe).

Be sure to keep your home properly conditioned (warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer). I have actually seen mold grow inside a home when sellers do not keep the air conditioning running in warm weather in their vacant homes – this will cost far more to clean up than the air conditioning bill!  Finally, consider putting lights on timers so when buyers drive by in the evening, your home does not appear dark and unloved!

Selling a vacant home is not a bad thing, but it is important that you follow these tips to be sure your home is presenting well to prospective buyers!

Waiving a Home Inspection

Waiving a Home Inspection

The market is so hot right now and we aren’t having any luck getting a home – should we waive home inspections? 

You are correct –the market under $1million is very fast paced right now, and in many instances, the winning bidder has waived home inspections.  That does seem to be what it may take to “win” right now but I cannot recommend that you make that choice.  Now several months into the “waive inspections” craze we are starting to hear stories about the expected fallout from this hasty decision.

From the seller’s perspective, I highly recommend that you have your home pre-inspected and repair or disclose the relevant items.  While an inspection might cost you upwards of $500, it is money well spent toward a smooth closing.  If you have pre-inspected your home and provide the report to prospective buyers, you are doing your part to make sure your buyer is well-informed.  In the absence of a pre-inspection, I do not recommend that you accept an offer from a buyer who has not inspected your home.  I have started hearing from home inspectors that disgruntled buyers are seeking post closing inspections to find problematic items and sue the sellers for failure to disclose. You don’t want that to be you. If you have not pre-inspected, we can discuss strategies to allow a buyer’s inspection and still protect you.

From a buyer’s perspective, as we all imagined would happen, the post-closing stories are starting to mount about buyers who purchased without an inspection and are now having all sorts of forseeable issues – roofs leaking, furnaces failing… If you are going to make this risky choice, you need to do so knowing that you will be assuming the risk of potentially tens of thousands of dollars of issues The contract specifically states that your inspection is your opportunity to find issues – if you waive that, you will be fighting an uphill battle to recover against anyone. Before you make an offer without an inspection contingency, you really do need to ask yourself if you are prepared to absorb those costs!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Don’t Make a Stink About Sewer Inspections

Don’t Make a Stink About Sewer Inspections

Our neighbor just had to replace their sewer line – is that a common home inspection repair? 

Sewer lines have become as radon was 20 years ago – today’s hot button for home buyers. In some boroughs (Mt Lebanon, for example) the borough now requires that before a home seller can transfer ownership, the sewer line must be scoped and must be without issues. Here in the Sewickley area, we do not have any boroughs imposing any such requirement on home sellers yet, but many buyers today do have a scope performed of the sewer line as part of their home inspection. And yes, if issues are discovered, they do expect the seller to remedy them. If a sewer line needs to be replaced, the cost will likely be between $5,000 and $10,000.

Sewer lines are not something we think about on a daily basis. As long as we don’t have back-ups, we assume that all is well with the line. But this is not necessarily the case. With older homes, sewer lines were made of terracotta pipe and this can break easily and can also be easily infiltrated by tree roots. If you live in an older home and haven’t replaced your sewer line, there is a good chance you have some issues.

Paying for a sewer camera test is not anyone’s idea of a good time, but if you are contemplating a sale of your home, it is probably a smart, pro-active thing to do. If you discover a problem in advance, there may be some cost-effective options for you to solve the problem without a full replacement of the line. Sewer lines can often by lined with a plastic liner. Tree roots can often by removed by hydrojetting. If you wait for a buyer to perform the test, you may get stuck with a full new line — the buyer might not accept one of the compromise options. So its best to explore the sewer line now, before it becomes an issue, and make any needed corrections.

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home! 

Security Camera Do’s & Don’ts

Security Camera Do’s & Don’ts

We have security cameras in our home – is it ok to leave them on when we show our home?

Video recording is permitted, except in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a bathroom. In those areas, you may not record.  Audio recording is much trickier, and most security cameras these days record video and audio.  In the state of Pennsylvania, audio recording requires the consent of all parties being recorded.  Therefore, the best practice, to protect yourself from any legal consequences, is to disable audio recordings of your showings.  This does not mean that you cannot listen in – you can!  It means you cannot make an audio recording of the showing.

Some sellers are just curious and want to know what people are saying about their homes.  Some won’t be able to figure out how to disable the audio recording component of their system.  In those cases, it is important that you prominently disclose that the property has video and audio surveillance. This needs to be done in a conspicuous way – you should post a notice at your entry door as well as someplace immediately visible on entry – I create a fun little sign with a smiley face that says “smile – you’re being recorded. Property is protected by audio/video surveillance.”  When people enter your property having viewed the signage, it is deemed implied consent to the recording. It is also important that you make sure that your Realtor clearly indicate that there is audio and video surveillance in the MLS Realtor comments as well as in the lockbox instructions, if applicable.  Do not forget to fully disclose your cameras to your agent (this should be done the first time your Realtor comes over, as recording anyone without their consent is illegal – not just the prospective buyers!) Over-disclosure is a good thing when it comes to recordings!

If you are a buyer, you should of course assume that every property you view is protected by audio and video recording and be sure to keep your comments to yourself until you are back in your car (many homes have extensive exterior surveillance as well as interior surveillance, so talking near the home is generally not a good idea!)  Keep interior conversations positive, but don’t say more than you would want to say directly to the seller in advance of submitting an offer!

Experience Makes

The Difference

If you’re moving across town, from elsewhere in the state, or even relocating
across the country, I can help you find the perfect home!