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Long-term Upkeep for the Buyer and Seller

by Karen Picarello

For the Buyer

When a buyer is looking at a home, there are multiple things they should consider that involve the long-term upkeep of the home. These are things in the home that are inevitably going to cost money…it is just a matter of when.

Windows

Single-paned windows are not going to be efficient, and any home buyer will see them as a thing that will need to be changed in the future. If the windows are updated, consider the quality of the multi-pane. Updates on flipped homes are rarely done in quality fashion, so make sure they didn’t cut corners on the windows, or you’ll be in for a hefty bill in your future.

Roof

Most home buyers look at the roof when considering the purchase of a home, and the inspector will definitely comment on the quality of the roof. However, some roof materials last longer than others. Standard asphalt shingles last about 15 to 20 years, but tile roofs may last a lifetime. A tile roof should be considered a long-term savings when it comes to purchasing a home.

Flooring

Don’t be fooled by new flooring when you purchase a new home. If it isn’t quality, it won’t last. Even “hardwood” may be manufactured, which means it can be refinished but only a few times before it has to be replaced. If new laminate flooring has been installed, make sure it is water resistant. You don’t want to include new flooring in your long-term upkeep of the home.

For the Seller

As a home seller, you should be aware of what prospective home buyers are considering and do your best to eliminate fears of long-term upkeep. That doesn’t mean install a tile roof, expensive windows, and solid hardwood floors. What it does mean is make sure your home looks well-maintained. A roof with lifted shingles is going to be a turn-off that will be pointed out by the inspector. Clean flooring with no lifted edges will look well-taken-care-of no matter what the quality. Clean windows will let potential buyers know that the sills aren’t filled with dirt and junk that will decrease their opening and closing capabilities.

For the seller, long-term upkeep is making the home look as if it has been handled correctly, so long-term problems don’t start to creep in. This is hard to do when simultaneously planning a move, so make sure you continue to keep up your home during the hubbub of the moving process.  

Do Home Renovations Pay?

by Karen Picarello

People who are selling their homes often perform costly renovations in the hopes of increasing the values of their homes. It is true that renovations can increase the value of the home, but they generally cost more than the increase in value.

Home renovations only pay in that they increase the interest in your home. You aren’t going to make money renovating your attic or even installing new windows. However, you may increase the number of offers that are close to your asking price, so they may be worth it.

1. Windows:

Ultimately the energy savings aren’t even worth replacing the windows from a monetary standpoint. It would take too long to recoup the costs from an energy savings standpoint. However, making sure your windows are in good repair and that the caulking is good will make potential buyers impressed. Small fixes will create the look needed to sell the home.

2. Front Door:

Your front door can be a huge selling point because it makes a first impression. Home buyers want strong doors for security reasons, and they want updated doors for energy efficiency. You will recoup the majority of the cost of your door, especially if your old door is in poor shape. One thing that could be a selling point is if you get a warranty on the door that is transferable to the new owner.

3. Fixtures:

One of the simplest ways to increase the salability of your home without a total renovation is to upgrade the fixtures. Faucets, outlets, lamps…anything that is dated will detract from the overall look of the home. Moreover, there is minimal cost. Hundreds of dollars versus thousands. In many cases, it can give a similar effect to a total room makeover for people who have never seen the room.

Tidy and Clean Instead of Renovating

Unless you have a contractor cousin or some type of money-saving magic to get your renovations done, they aren’t going to pay. However, if your home is a real fixer upper, some renovations may be necessary. Renovation is not ill-advised, but you won’t recoup all of your expenses in most cases.

Instead of focusing on renovations that may not meet the dreams of the future occupants, focus on staging your house for success. Remove all clutter, and make sure everything is clean. If you have accumulated a lot of stuff, put it in storage to make sure your home looks as put together as possible. The new homeowners can do their own renovations, so what you need to focus on is making their dreams become plausible. A dirty house is difficult to look beyond, but a home that is tidy and clean is like a clean slate looking for a new identity.

Moving Out But House Hasn’t Sold? A Few Tips

by Karen Picarello

The world would be a more wonderful place if timing was perfect, but it isn’t, and you are leaving your unsold house for a new home. It will be vacant for an unknown period of time. Your real estate agent has the keys and will continue to show the home, but that isn’t enough to keep your home safe from harm when you have moved on.

5 Tips for your Vacant Home

1. Check your Insurance.

If your home is vacant for a certain amount of time, your homeowners insurance will not cover losses. Just like car insurance, they typically offer some coverage during the transition period, but it may only allow for one month. Read your policy or check with your agent to make sure you have proper coverage. There is nothing worse than having a claim and finding out that you aren’t covered…and you didn’t know.

2. Increase security.

If your house is going to be vacant, make sure it is secure. All doors and windows should have good locks, and security lights should be strategically placed to deter criminals from a well-lit house. If you have the means, invest in a security system. Other things that help are making the house look occupied. This can be done by setting lights on timers or parking a car in the driveway. Vacant houses will be targeted if they are found out.

3. Notify others.

One of the best security systems is alert neighbors, and you should let them know your home is vacant. They’ll report suspicious activity. Also, let your family and friends know. Maybe some of them can drive bay once in a while to make sure everything looks okay.

4. Continue maintenance.

Remember you are trying to sell your home, so it should not appear neglected. If you are moving out of town, hire someone to mow the lawn. Make sure the home is winterized or weeds are pulled. Have someone come in a dust. The longer your home sits vacant, the more it will be neglected if you let it.

5. Set for success.

Maintaining a home can be a big job but not if you leave the home set up for success. Set your thermostat to an appropriate level to maintain efficiency. Make sure things are turned off where they should be. Put your sprinkler system on autopilot. Don’t leave things halfway finished. Any corner that is cut will come back to haunt you once you get an offer.

Do you have what it takes to sell your home without an agent?

by Karen Picarello

When it comes to selling your home without a real estate agent, you may only think about the money you’ll save. According to realtor.com, the average commission received by an agent is 6 percent. For an average home, that’s tens of thousands of dollars.

Pocketing that money is certainly an option, and this is often what motivates people to put their home on the market for-sale-by-owner (FSBO). However, another benefit of selling your own home is that it gives you more negotiating room. If you are selling your house for ten thousand dollars less than it is worth, it will stand out in a buyer’s market where there are many homes available.

Is it all about the money?

There are many good reasons people aren’t saving money by selling their homes FSBO. It is a job that requires, skill, knowledge, and a strong personality. Having an intermediary in between a buyer and a seller eases the business process between two parties with highly personal wants and needs. It is difficult to sell your own home, and making the mistake of selling FSBO only delays a sale if it turns out you can’t hack it.

Setting and negotiating a price is the first reason you may not have what it takes to sell your home on your own. A real estate has knowledge of the market and can price your home to be attractive while still getting you top dollar. Without this knowledge, you are faced with a bit of a guessing game. Then, you have to deal with offers, some of which will probably be lowball offers that could be turned into a fair offer with proper negotiating skills. Unless you are business savvy, leave it to the professional real estate agent.

Showing your home can also be difficult. If you’ve ever looked at homes, you know how critical viewers can be of things they would never point out if they were guests in your home. It’s easy to get offended. If you cannot remove yourself from the emotions of the deal, you shouldn’t be putting yourself in that position. It is normal to be emotional! However, you have to be professional if you are acting as your own agent.

There are many other reasons to hire an agent, but the biggest message I can send to you is that selling your own home is not a cakewalk. Real estate agents earn their commission. You are welcome to try it on your own, but be prepared.

Prep the Lawn to Sell

by Karen Picarello

A well-manicured lawn is a perfect way to make a first impression, so prepping your lawn to sell will definitely attract buyers. When people look at your home for sale, they are seeking a place where the “grass is greener.” If you want to seal the deal, make that saying a reality by properly maintaining your grass.

5 Ways to Prep Your Lawn to Sell

1. Herbicide

A lawn full of crabgrass is not only an eyesore, but it is also a lot of work! Make your potential buyers want to take off their shoes and walk barefoot in your luscious carpet of thick grass by controlling the weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides will minimize this work. Contact your local extension office to find out what works in your area.

2. Aerate

Some grasses grow a thick layer of thatch underneath their blades, and this can be suffocating. Grass that cannot get enough air will yellow, and you’ll end up with patches of unhealthy, dying grass. You can fix this by aerating. There are a number of ways to aerate from handheld aerators to motorized versions. Choose your tool based on the size of the yard.

3. Test the Soil

If you want it to be green, you have to find out what to feed it. A soil test will tell you the pH along with nutrient levels, so you can amend the soil to make it the perfect environment for your grass.

4. Edge

Crisp edges and borders show attention to detail and create instant curb appeal for the home seeker. Make sure your lines are straight, and you’ll lead your potential buyer straight to the bank. Edging also helps prevent weeds and grass from encroaching.

5. Repair

Don’t leave anything unattended. You don’t need to install a sprinkler system to sell your home, but if you have a sprinkler system, make sure it works! Perspective home buyers will see broken items as a sign that the home has not had proper improvements. Don’t let procrastinated home repairs ruin your sale.

The last thing you want potential home buyers saying is, “That home was nice, but…” Remove the “but” and change it to an “and.” Make sure your lawn is green and properly-maintained. Your buyers will then be saying, “That home was nice, and did you notice the yard!” A beautiful lawn can be the tipping point for a home buyer who is unsure about which home to purchase. It allows them to picture themselves living at that location as the new homeowner with pride.

Home Staging Basics

by Karen Picarello

If you are selling your home and want to attract the highest number of buyers, you need to work on your staging. Staging is how you present your home. It involves making the home look presentable in a way that appeals to most people. This is not the time for eccentricities. You are appealing to the masses. Here are a few tips:

5 Home Staging Basics:

1. No Clutter

If your house is cluttered, it will look uncomfortable and cramped. Even a pair of shoes left beside the couch will give the subliminal message that there isn’t enough storage space in the home. More importantly, clutter looks like things haven’t been maintained. A house that hasn’t been maintained may be hiding many repairs under all the clutter.

2. Neutral Walls

Accent walls are a popular fad, but in the case of the home that is for sale, they should be neutral. That doesn’t mean you cannot have an accent wall, but it must be in a neutral shade that will match any décor.

3. Plants

Typically, people viewing a home do so when the owner is not present. This can make it seem empty and dull. Houseplants add life to the setting. They also add color. Especially in a home painted in neutral colors, plants add a nice contrast, and they symbolize cleanliness.

4. Open the Blinds

Let there be light! Open the blinds and turn on lights to make sure there aren’t any dark corners in the home. Buyers want to see themselves living in the home, not sulking in darkness. Light brings positive notions, and positive notions sell.

5. Repair

Repair anything that is visually in disrepair. That means cracks in the walls or chips in the paint. To the potential buyer, this will just look like more work. Homes that are move-in ready are a stress-free option for home buyers who are already dealing with the stresses of mortgage companies and the big move.

Even if your home is a fixer-upper, staging is important. If it is vacant, it may not be necessary to insert plant life or other things that seem unnatural to the setting. The light and clutter rules still apply. If there is construction, make sure it is tidy. If there are blinds, make sure they are open.

Staging is important no matter what type of home you are selling, and no matter what condition. If you want to get top dollar, or even a few offers, staging will ensure success and a successful sale.

Sell your home quicker with a home warranty

by Karen Picarello


Many homeowner’s purchase their homes counting on things basically holding together for a certain period of time. Home inspectors are called to make sure everything is copacetic, but an inspection does not satisfy all worries.

While an inspector’s evaluation determines that the home was kept up properly and is not in need of immediate repairs, new homeowners often suffer from Murphy’s Law. This law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong given the chance, and even though it might be totally superstitious, it often seems to be true.

Within the first few months of new home ownership, homeowners often experience great losses. Water heaters break, and dryers fail. Heat pumps stop working, or plumbing starts leaking. In most cases, it is not the previous homeowner’s fault. Life simply happens, and stuff breaks. However, new homeowners like protection.

Sellers, on the other hand, want to show potential buyers that they can have faith in the condition of the home. One good way to do that is to offer a home warranty.

Home Warranties: The Good and Bad

While offering a home warranty sounds very transparent, home warranties aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. There are many loopholes that prevent warranties from paying out should something go wrong. However, they are a good attempt at making sure that any unexpected financial casualties could be made right.

Home warranties are not insurance policies, and they only cover the specific items listed in the warranty, so they should be chosen carefully. Typically, they cover home systems such as air conditioning or major appliances. Home insurance is still a necessity both for lending and for peace of mind.

First-timer Ease

One of the best times to for a seller to purchase a home warranty as a selling feature is for first-time home buyers because they often lack the financial security to cover the failure of large home systems and appliances.

If you are selling a home that fits the first-time home buyer general footprint, then home warranties can help a home sell quickly. Seasoned home buyers don’t always need that surety because they are financially equipped to handle what eventually seems like minimal losses.

In other words, if you are selling a multi-million dollar home, you can expect that potential buyers won’t need the minimal protection of a home warranty. However, if you are selling a home in the price range of people who may just be starting their financial histories, home warranties can bring the relief of coverage for basic defects in home systems and appliances that can financially stress those who are already stressed at the prospect of a mortgage payment.

5 Tips for Selling Home through a Real Estate Agent

by Karen Picarello

Real estate agents can be stellar advocates for home sellers and buyers in a market that has been rebounding from the 2008 housing crisis. In most cases, they are full of contacts and resources to get your home sold as quickly and for the best price possible. However, there are a few things a homeowner can know to get the most out of their sale.

5 Tips for Selling home through a Real Estate Agent

1. Ask About the Details: Your transactions with your real estate agent should be very transparent, and who will be interacting with potential home buyers is very important. Inquire about phone services, who will show the home, and how interactions will take place should the agent be unavailable. This will help to choose the best agent to meet your needs.

2. Don’t Sell for the Highest Price Possible: In other words, don’t pick your agent based on the valuation of your home. They could be pricing it high in order to get your business, which means the house will sit around for a while. You will likely have to reduce your price to get any bites, and you will have lost potential buyers by then.

3. Don’t Delay Walkthroughs: Staging your home is great, but if a person wants to see your home immediately, and you haven’t cleaned, let them see it! A perfectly stage home will not turn off buyers, but real life will not dissuade a normal person looking to buy real estate. Let them see it, so you don’t lose out on an opportunity.

4. Don’t Strip the Place When Leaving: Make sure you discuss what you will be taking with the future homeowner. Things like appliances, window coverings, and light fixtures should be discussed prior to their removal. With that said, home buyers should always do a final walkthrough to make sure homeowners weren’t hiding anything.

5. Make it Smell Good: There is nothing more attractive in a home than good scents, but that does not mean that cheap air fresheners will do the trick. Bake cookies if you can prior to a person visiting the home, and make sure candles or any other scents are light. Too much air freshener can make the potential buyer think you are trying to hide something.

Selling a home does not have to take a lot of time from the home seller. Especially when using an agent, it can be really easy. However, homeowners should choose their agent wisely and pay attention to a few tips to make the most of their sale.

A picture is worth the value of a first impression.

by Karen Picarello

If you are selling your home, pictures are not debatable. With internet applications like Zillow and Trulia, the average home buyer is making first impressions before ever setting foot on your property. Some will not even consider a home without seeing it pre-contact.

This means that your pictures have to pre-sell your home. You won’t get the chance to say, “The pictures don’t do it justice.” You won’t be able to explain why your lighting is dim, and even a repair in progress with a written explanation can be a deterrent. Many home buyers are looking for red flags and reasons not to buy your home, and unfortunately, a lot of those reasons fall under the category of bad pictures. Buyers and sellers benefit from quality pictures of a home for sale, and here are some tips for quality pics.


5 pic tips for the home seller:

1. High resolution photography: Don’t use an old camera with 5 mega pixels and expect to wow the market. High-quality photos show that the home has value and was worth the investment in the photography. Anymore, you may be able to get away with using your smartphone to get the photos, but make sure your settings and lighting conditions are perfect!

2. Make it bright: Poor lighting conditions make a home look uninviting. Turn on the lights and avoid pictures of poorly lit areas. If it needs to be included to interest the buyer, light it up! This may be as simple as moving a floor lamp.

3. Dress it up: You may not be the type of person that keeps fresh cut flowers in the vases of your home, but your pictures should portray your home that way. This is not false advertising. Dressing up your home allows another person to picture themselves living there, so messy areas should be cleaned, and vases should be filled.

4. Show what is advertised: You don’t have to photograph the closets…unless this is a selling point. If you are selling a 4-bedroom home, there should be 4 bedrooms photographed. Anything that is a positive component of the house should be shown. Remember, you are trying to get them to the front door. This is not the time for full disclosure, as the good parts of your home will hopefully outweigh any negative aspects.

5. Make simple repairs: A big, unfinished project may show potential. However, a broken handle on a sink shows lack of maintenance. Make small repairs before trying to sell your home, so buyers don’t feel they are looking at a money pit.

Tips for Selling a Home in the Fall

by Karen Picarello

Well, it isn't the best time to sell a home, but it is the second best! Selling a home in the fall does bring up some different tasks for the homeowner however, and there are some things to take care of that are unique to the season.

1. Weatherproofing walkways:

It may not seem like a big deal, but fall brings rain, and rain brings mud. Make sure all walkways are graveled or paved in a way that keeps the mud out and puddles to a minimum. This is not about saving the shoes of potential buyers. It is about maintaining an impression. If a buyer likes your home and has that feel-good moment where he or she can really picture living there, you don’t want to tarnish that image with a big step into a mud puddle. Keep the good feelings rolling by providing well-maintained walkways.

2. Removing yard debris:

Fall colors are beautiful, and changing leaves can sell a home…when they’re on the trees. Once they fall, they need to be cleaned up as quickly as possible. Trim and prune dying flowers so they appear kept. The potential buyer needs to be reminded of the beauty of the yard, not how much work it requires. Don’t shove chores into their minds by reminding them of cleanup. Keep it clean, and that thought won’t enter their mind.

3. Use fall décor to your advantage:

Speaking of fall leaves, there’s no harm in throwing in a little fall charm to a home’s front porch. A quick look on Pinterest will leave you filled with ideas that will insert warmth into your property. This works inside the house too, and fall fruit displays and centerpieces are a good way to bring the outdoors into the home.

4. Turn on the lights:

Most people don’t like the shorter days, but it can be an advantage. Keep the lights on in the home, so people driving by can see the warm glow of your home. It may use a little power, but it makes the home inviting. This is a good time to invest in walkway lights if you don’t already have them. It gives the home curbside appeal.


5. Warmth matters:

When we talk about fall, there’s often mention of warm colors and décor to make the home inviting, but don’t forget that a home also has to actually be warm. Temperature matters, and as cooler days approach, it is important that furnaces and fireplaces are in working order. Nothing screams money pit like a broken boiler or heat pump, and future homeowners don’t want to be burdened with this in their new home.

Fall may not be the best time to sell a home, but it certainly is a good time to sell a home. Use these tips, and you’ll be selling like it’s spring.

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Contact Information

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TeamPicarello
RE/MAX Fine Properties North Scottsdale
21000 N. Pima Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale AZ 85255
Office: (480)860-8733
888-548-8713
Fax: (480)860-8755