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10 Easy Tips to Get Your House Ready to Sell

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exterior-window-washing-2Most people know the basics about getting their home ready to sell: remove any clutter and excess furniture, fix what’s broken and set your rooms to look like a model home would. But buyers have more and more inventory to choose from in this market and the details matter. Here are 10 enhanced Staging Tips

1. Wash your windows

Have your windows professionally washed. Clean windows will let in more light and make your rooms sparkle. Certainly, buyers will definitely notice if your windows are dirty.

 2. Take care of the details

Small details can make your home look dumpy without you even realizing it. Freshen up rooms with new switch plates and outlet covers if yours are grubby from fingerprints or yellowed from aging. Polish handles and hardware and use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove minor spots and scuffs on walls.
3. Focus on curb appeal
Freshen up your landscaping, add bark to flower beds, trim bushes and trees. Invest in a new doormat and take the time to scrub down your front door since it’s probably covered with dust, dirt, and oils. Better yet, repaint it and add some new house numbers and a new porch light.4. Don’t forget your side yard

Turn that dead space into a selling point by creating a potting station or kitchen garden, or even set up breakfast nook with a café table and chairs.5. Stage every room

Empty rooms show poorly. “Stage” a spare bedroom with an air mattress and bed frame. Create a living room arrangement by throwing matching slipcovers over clashing chairs and sofas.6. Paint inside and out, brighten up the trim and doors

Walls aren’t the only things that need a fresh coat of paint. Dingy door and window frames will drag down the prettiest of rooms. Repainting wood-toned trim white will also make your space brighter.7. Employ scents

Employ soothing, spa-like scents like vanilla and lavender in bathrooms and bedrooms.8. Make your space look bigger

Lay down a striped rug to make your floor seem more expansive. Use a clear shower curtain to open up a small bathroom.

9. Organize your closets

Make your storage look custom with do-it-yourself shelves, hangers, and bins. Organize clothes by type and color for added impact. Remove the clutter.10. Tidy up the garage

Install overhead or wall shelves to store bikes and sporting equipment. Create a workshop area in one corner — show buyers it’s more than just a place to park cars.

2014 Is Over, Sell the House?

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At the end of the year in Orange County, hundreds of homeowners have a tough decision to make. The ‘listing for sale agreement’ on their house is about to expire and they now must decide to either take their house off the market (OTM), For Sale by Owner (FSBO) or list it again with the same agent or a different agent. Let’s assume you or someone you know is in this situation and take a closer look at each possibility:

Taking Your Home off the Market

In all probability, after putting your house on the market and seeing it not sell, you’re going to be upset. You may be thinking that no one in the marketplace thought the house was worthy of the sales price. Because you are upset, you may start to rationalize that selling wasn’t that important after all and say,

“Well, we didn’t really want to sell the house anyway. This idea of making a move right now probably doesn’t make sense.”

Instead of discounting your original goals, consider the reasons you decided to sell in the first place. Ask your family this simple question:

“What made us originally put our home up for sale?”

If that reason made sense a few months ago when you originally listed the house, chances are it still makes sense now. Don’t give up on what your family hoped to accomplish or on goals your family hoped to attain. Just because the house didn’t sell during the last listing contract doesn’t mean the house will never sell or that it shouldn’t be sold.

Re-Listing with your Existing Agent

For whatever reason, your house did not sell. Perhaps you now realize how difficult selling a house is or that the listing price was too high, or perhaps you’re now acknowledging that you didn’t exactly listen to your agent’s advice. If that is the case, you may want to give your existing agent a second chance. That’s a perfectly okay thing to do. However, if your agent didn’t perform to the standard they promised when they listed your home you may want to either FSBO or try a different agent.

List with a New Agent

After failing to sell your home, you may no longer trust your agent or what they say. However, don’t paint all real estate professionals with that same brush. Have you ever gotten a bad haircut before? Of course! Did you stop getting your hair cut or did you simply change hair stylists? There is good and bad in every profession—good and bad hair stylists, agents, teachers, lawyers, doctors, police officers, etc. And just because there are good and bad in every line of work doesn’t mean you don’t call on others for the products and services you need. You still get your hair cut, see a doctor, talk to a lawyer, send your kids to school, etc. You initially believed that using an agent made sense. It probably still does. Check references and choose wisely.

For Sale by Owner

You may now believe that listing your house with an agent is useless because your original agent didn’t accomplish the goal of selling the house. Trying to sell on your own this time may be alluring. You may think you will be in control and save on the commission. But, is that true? Will you be able to effectively negotiate each of the elements that make up a real estate transaction? Some professionals are indeed capable. Are you willing to put in the time to put together and execute a comprehensive marketing plan with professional photography, videography, aerial photography, websites, internet marketing, etc.? Overall, do people who sell their homes themselves ‘net’ more money? If you are thinking about FSBOing, here are 4 things to consider:

1. There Are a Lot of Many People to Negotiate With
Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to FSBO.

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer who wants substantial repairs or a huge credit for repairs found in their home inspection
  • The buyer who wants a price reduction if there is a question of value after the appraisal
  • Your lender(s) in the case of a short sale

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an extensive internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Be sure you have one, too.

3. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. The average printed file in the real estate transaction is 2 inches tall. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

4. Statistically, You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. However, sellers should realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the same commission. Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000.   This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Home Value Increase P.1

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Professionals Answer: "How Do I Increase My Home's Value?"

When preparing to sell their home, a common question pops up. Homeowners want to know what they can do to get the maximum selling price on their home. Of course, the answer to “What can I do to increase my home’s value or get a better selling price?” is difficult to answer because each home has it’s own set of improvements, renovations or upgrades that might make the difference for it’s specific market. In general, however, potential improvements can be broken out by the amount the homeowner has available to spend and the return on investment, or R.O.I.


Low cost improvements make a big difference when your home is structurally sound, but appears a little lived-in. Number one and two on this list are:

  1. Clean, clean and then clean some more. A home that is not clean gives buyers the impression that your home also is not cared for. Dirt and grime on the surface makes them wonder about hidden mold, termites or other less visible problems. Wash walls, scrub bathrooms, make those windows sparkle, deep clean or at least spot clean the carpet. Be sure to dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, clear out cobwebs from corners and polish wood railings and floors.
  2. De-clutter, remove and store. Buyers typically look for space, extra room and plenty of storage. Many potential purchasers do not have the ability to “feel” the size of a room when it is overfilled with furniture, toys, stacks of books or magazines and other collections of items common to an occupied home. They need you to remove as much clutter as possible so that they can visualize their own furniture fitting in that area.
  3. De-personalize. Along with de-cluttering, removing family photos, children’s art, trophies, taxidermy, golf ball collections and other personal or less ordinary items gives your home the opportunity to appeal to a wider group of buyers. When your home appears to be a bachelor pad, a family or couple may be less inclined to see themselves in it, and when a house appears only family oriented, it may have less appeal to a work-from-home entrepreneur looking for extra office space.
  4. Clear the yard. Remove any junk, broken patio furniture, play equipment and other debris from the exterior. You don’t know if a buyer is looking for a house or is looking for a yard for their children to play in, or a place for outdoor entertaining. A cluttered yard gives a first impression that is difficult to overcome, no matter how much you do to the interior.
  5. Fix broken things. Broken outlet covers, screens and other items give buyers the notion that your home may need too much work. Simply fixing that leaky faucet or running toilet, replacing a broken tile or piece of wood trim or otherwise repairing simple items boosts your home’s appeal.

Call us …

Give us a call and we’ll walk through your home with you to give you ideas on the simple things you can do to improve your home’s value.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Home Value Increase P.2

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Professionals Answer: "How Do I Increase My Home's Value?"

A common question sellers ask is “What can I do to get the maximum selling price on my home?” Since each home and every market is different, we, as your real estate professionals, can give you specific advice on your home. In general, however, if you’re willing to spend a little bit on some minor upgrades, a higher return on your investment can be significant. We covered the “no-to-low cost” items in part 1 of this series and in this post we suggest some low to medium cost options for improving that selling price.


If you have a little money to spend, the next items on your list should be these easy improvements:

  1. Paint. In terms of “bang for your buck,” paint is your best friend. Gone are the days when you should paint everything white, but covering smudged or dirty walls with a pretty neutral color (off-whites, grays, creams and earthy tones) brightens your walls, covers over a host of slight imperfections and freshens their look without breaking the bank. A contrasting color on trim and woodwork brings out architectural details. Add a new coat of paint on the ceilings — paint these white or a light off-white— to brighten and light up a room. Paint the front door, too! A bright, cheery front door adds a welcoming touch.
  2. Update light fixtures. Ceiling lights, vanity lights and exterior carriage and porch lights are inexpensive items to update. Often, larger home-improvement stores offer “contractor packs” of multiple light fixtures for a lower price, so you can update all the rooms.
  1. Change out electrical outlets and switch-plates. Simply updating outlets and outlet covers, light switches and switch-plates can give a home an updated appearance. As with light fixtures, electrical components often come in contractor packs. If you are not comfortablechanging out the switches and outlets yourself and don’t want to hire an electrician, just change out the covers.
  2. Replace bath fixtures. New faucets, along with towel bars, hooks and other matching pieces bring a brand new look to most bathrooms. Make sure your shower curtains are clean, fresh and neutral. If you have the extra money, changing out the toilet for a new water-saving low-flow toilet is an effective upgrade. Along the same vein, if your lavatory sink is cracked, stained or chipped, you may want to switch it out for a new one.
  3. Kitchen hardware and faucet. Just as simply adding new fixtures improves the bath, a new faucet and fresh, updated hardware on your cabinetry can freshen and upgrade the feel of your kitchen. Make certain that cabinet latches are not broken and drawer glides all work properly. Re-paint painted cabinetry and clean and re-stain finished wood cabinetry.
  4. Fix or replace your front door. Sometimes paint is not enough. If your pets have scratched your front door, or it has dry rot, is swollen, or the layers are separating, consider replacing your door with a new one. In moisture prone areas, or for safety concerns, consider using a steel door, perhaps one with a decorative window. You can even give your steel door a wood look with a faux wood-graining kit.
  5. Upgrade your garage door. Especially if your garage door is visible from the front of your home, consider painting or upgrading your garage door.

Let us help …

We can assess the potential R.O.I. for these and similar upgrades to your home. Call us for an evaluation of your home’s fair market value.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Home Value Increase P.3

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How Do I Increase My Home's Value?

A common question for prospective home sellers is “How can I increase my home’s value or get a higher selling price?” In our earlier articles on this subject, we discuss low budget and economical fixes and upgrades that can increase the perceived value of your home. In this article, we discuss those higher cost items that only give you a high return on your investment if you have high equity in your home or will lose more money if it doesn’t sell quickly.

Many buyers look for a home they can move into immediately. While the specifics depend on the age and condition of your home, here are the priority renovations that increase your home’s appeal and return on investment potential.



No matter what the other advantages of your home, if the buyers do not like the kitchen, they are less likely to make an offer. So, if you’re planning major upgrades, head to the kitchen first.

  • Paint, refinish or replace the cabinets. If your cabinets are dated, damaged or dark, consider replacing them or painting them with a lighter, newer version that still fits into the home’s style. If you’ve never painted cabinets, consider hiring a professional since they are more difficult than painting walls, and poorly painted cabinets actually decrease the appeal of your kitchen.
  • Replace countertops. If granite is all the rage in your neighborhood and comparable homes have granite countertops, consider this upgrade. Granite requires professional installation to measure, cut and polish the rock correctly. A less expensive version, granite tile, is easier to install, but has less overall value.
  • Add new appliances. New, matching appliances including ovens and stovetops or ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves and refrigerators instantly update a kitchen.
  • Upgrade lighting, fans and fixtures to match the style of your new cabinets and countertops.
  • Kitchen floors with carpeting, vinyl or worn and broken tile should be replaced with new ceramic or other tile, wood, or another new product. Make sure you only replace kitchen floors with flooring that can handle the traffic, spills and constant cleaning that a kitchen requires.


No new homeowners want to feel as if they are using someone else’s bathroom. Replace the vanity, sink and toilet. Use low-flow toilets, water-saving faucets and other green products. Replace the floor and shower surround with a neutral tile. If your bathroom has a built-in tub/shower replace it or have it professionally refinished to look fresh and new.

Living areas

Carpets harbor dirt, dust mites and stains. Replacing the carpet in major living areas with hardwood increases the visual appeal of your home. As an instant upgrade, hardwood gives your home that updated look. It also attracts buyers that cannot live in carpeted homes for health reasons.

Heating, air conditioning and water heater

These major home appliances often are out-of-sight and out-of-mind, but a new buyer wants to know they’ll work when they need them.


To increase the value of your home, improve the “R” rating and make your home more economical, consider replacing the roof, insulation, siding and windows. If your home has hail or other storm damage, check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if they will cover the replacement. Using better quality, energy-saving products gives your home more curb appeal and buyers know they won’t have to worry about leaks and drafts when weather hits.

Let us help …

We can assess the potential R.O.I. for these and similar upgrades to your home. Call us for an evaluation of your home’s fair market value.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Featured Gay Friendly Realtor: Tim Cardy, Santa Barbara, California

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Tim Cardy, Gay Santa Barbara RealtorPeriodically we’ll feature one of our real estate professionals here to let our readers know about some great Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, and Other Real Estate Professionals.

Allow me to help you find your dream home! We have a wide range of community groups and a strong presence in Santa Barbara.

See Tim’s Expanded Listing on Gay Realty Network Here

Gay Friendly Realtors and Real Estate Professionals in Santa Barbara

Is the US Real Estate Market Stalling?

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$1million buys this

After picking up momentum over the last couple of years, there are some signs that the US housing market may be slowing.

The Washington Post reports:

The third installment of Freddie’s “Multi-Indicator Market Index” (or MiMi), which sizes up homebuying activity and other factors, found that only 10 states and the District of Columbia fall in the “stable” range, as do four of the 50 metro areas included in the index – San Antonio, New Orleans, Austin and Houston. The outlook for the rest of the housing market looks bleak. “Less than half of the housing markets MiMi covers are showing an improving trend, whereas at this time last year more than 90 percent of these same markets were headed in the right direction,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie’s chief economist, said in a statement.

Even in Manhattan, there are signs that housing prices may have run up too far, too fast.

MoneyNews reports:

Sale prices for previously owned units dropped 1.4 percent from March, the biggest decline since September 2010, after four consecutive monthly increases, according to a report today by real estate website Condo prices are likely to be little changed through the spring, rising 0.1 in May, StreetEasy projected… “After a record-breaking finish to 2013 and beginning to 2014, we may have approached the upper price limit to where buyers are willing or able to meet sellers,” Alan Lightfeldt, a data analyst at New York-based StreetEasy, said in the report.

So how have home prices managed to run up so fast in many cities during the sluggish recovery, often past the point where locals can afford to buy?

The Dish points at the globalization of real estate:

The globalization of real estate upends some of our basic assumptions about housing prices. We expect them to reflect local fundamentals – above all, how much people earn. In a truly global market, that may not be the case. If there are enough rich people in China who want property in Vancouver, prices can float out of reach of the people who actually live and work there. So just because prices look out of whack doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a bubble. Instead, wealthy foreigners are rationally overpaying, in order to protect themselves against risk at home. And the possibility of losing a little money if prices subside won’t deter them, [urban planner Andy] Yan says, “If the choice is between losing 10 to 20 per cent in Vancouver versus potentially losing 100 percent in Beijing or Tehran, then people are still going to be buying in Vancouver.”

What happens next is anyone’s guess.

At Gay Realty Watch, we look for news to share with you about the gay real estate market – both lgbt real estate news and news specific to gay and lesbian real estate meccas.

Click here for gay realtors, mortgage lenders, and other real estate professionals.

If you have a gay real estate story that you’d like to share with us, contact us at

Prevent Basement Floods

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Prevent Basement Floods

Making your basement into a comfortable living area can significantly raise the value of your home but it is extremely important for you to take the necessary action before you start your remodel. The basement could turn into a massive loss if not protected. The largest concern a basement has is its weak defenses against flooding. The below grade location creates a situation it is surrounded by soil. As we all know soil retains water and that water can be detrimental to your basement. Here are four preventative actions you can take to protect your investment.

1.  Grading

The most important step you can take to prevent flooding is to make sure the grading around your basement is sloping away from the foundation. This helps ensure that when it rains the water will not pool any areas. If pooling water does occur it will eventually make its way into your basement. If you are not sure if you have proper grading, take a look for any pooling water. If you do spot any water consider adding more soil to that region or hire a landscaper to re-grade your yard.

2. Gutters

Check the location of your downspouts, too often they drain too close to your foundation leaving opportunities for water to seep into your basement. If this is the case, buy downspout extensions that will carry the water away from your foundation or connect your downspouts to a French drain system in your yard.

Secondly, check for clogs. Any sort of blockage can cause an overflow which can create soil erosion, improper grading and basement flooding.

3. Window Wells

Like gutters, window wells collect leaves, dirt and debri that can prevent proper drainage. Once water starts collecting at the surface of your window seepage is inevitable. Consider hooking a window well drainage system or install window well covers to protect the well from debris.

Written by Todd Moeller, 714-404-9540 – Unique, open and caring specializing in helping people find good values and good homes in Orange County. Visit Todd’s website here.

Featured Gay Friendly Realtor: Edward Brooks, Las Vegas

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Edward Brooks, Gay Las Vegas Real Estate AgentPeriodically we’ll feature one of our real estate professionals here to let our readers know about some great Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, and Other Real Estate Professionals.

I’m a new agent, but very eager to help you find your home or help you sell your property. Vegas has everybody. And that includes the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

See Edward’s Expanded Listing on Gay Realty Network Here

Gay Friendly Realtors and Real Estate Professionals in Las Vegas

Waiting to Buy?

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Tuesday Blog Picture

Waiting to Buy a House?

Do you know someone on the fence, waiting to buy?


Are interest rates are going up? The experts agree that it’s not a matter of “if” interest rates will go up, but rather “when”. They have been held at artificially low levels thanks to the Federal Reserve pouring money into the financial system and keeping the discount rate at an extremely low level for quite some time. Economically, it is inevitable that interest rates will rise.


With minimal expected appreciation in 2014 compared to prior years, the sense of urgency to buy is not as prevalent. Instead, many potential buyers are taking their time or putting off purchasing to a later date. This is not necessarily a sound strategy with interest rates forecasted to increase about one-percent in the next year.


Considering that rates will climb, the impact on monthly payments cannot be ignored. For a buyer that is looking to purchase a $600,000 home with 20% down, the monthly payment would rise by an additional $291 per month with a 1% increase in interest rates. To drive home the point further, if a buyer qualifies for the $2,397 payment, that’s a purchase price of $600,000 today. When interest rates climb by just one-percent, that same payment allows a buyer to purchase a $535,000 home, $65,000 less than today. Rising rates erode purchasing power and affordability drops.


In June of last year, Bernanke and the Federal Reserve announced that they were going to start to reduce the amount of money they dumped into the monetary system every month, also known as tapering. Immediately, interest rates shot up by one-percent. Buyers that did not lock were looking at an instant increase in their monthly payment. These increases are just the beginning. Interest rates prior to the downturn were at 6.4%. They dropped after the Federal Reserve intervened. The Fed is now strategically moving the other direction and interest rates will rise.


For the homeowner who is looking to move up in value, waiting to make the move really does not make any sense at all. Many would like to wait for their homes to appreciate in value before they pull the trigger on selling. Not only are they looking at eroding purchase power with a rise in rates, they are looking to pay more as well. 10% appreciation in a $750,000 home is an additional $75,000. For a $1 million home, it is an additional $100,000. The appreciation rate may be the same, but the net result is additional equity for higher priced homes.

If you have any more questions or would like a free home valuation, contact us directly or visit us on Facebook.

Written by Todd Moeller, 714-404-9540 – Unique, open and caring specializing in helping people find good values and good homes in Orange County. Visit Todd’s website here.