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Sellers: Don't overdo it on Home Improvements

by Allison Simson

Know which projects are worth the cost, effort

Question:  Allison, we are getting ready to put our Silverthorne, CO home on the market and would like to ask what suggestions you have for fix it up?

Answer: Ahhhh, the million dollar question!  I always say that “it’s a price war AND a beauty contest, and you have to win both!”  Homeowners who are thinking about selling this year should be aware of what today's buyers are looking for in a home. It will affect what you should do to get your home ready for sale, and how you should price it.

According to Dianne Hymer of Inman News, a survey by the National Association of Realtors in 2011 found that buyers favor walkable neighborhoods that are close to shops, restaurants and local businesses over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.

According to the survey, 77 percent of the respondents said they would look for pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Improvement in public transportation was favored over building new roads.

Most buyers (80 percent) still prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it doesn't require a longer commute. Although space is important to most buyers, 59 percent said they would accept a smaller home if it cut 20 minutes off the commute time.

Does this mean your chances of selling are slim if you don't have a high Walk Score?
No, but proximity to a popular commercial area usually brings a higher price.

Proper pricing is the key factor affecting the salability of your home in today's market. Make sure you're comparing apples to apples when you evaluate the probable selling price of your home.

The home-sale business is all about location. If you live in a neighborhood where you have to drive to get to work, school or recreation, you can't expect to sell for the same price as a comparable home that's in a desirable, walkable location.

You can't change the location of your home, but you can appeal to today's buyers who are typically looking for a home that is in good condition that they can move right into without doing any major work.

A common refrain heard from sellers is that there's no point in painting or changing worn carpet -- buyers will surely want to do something different. In some cases, this may be so, but many buyers don't have extra cash to pay for extensive home improvements. They may ultimately change the color scheme, but don't make them worry about making the house livable when they buy.

It's a good idea to consult with your real estate agent before you make fix-up improvements. Review your list of preparation-for-sale projects and get your agent's feedback before starting any work.

Sometimes, sellers think projects need to be done that are really not essential in successfully marketing the home. For instance, your yard may be in poor condition, but this doesn't mean that you should have it re-landscaped. This is the kind of improvement you'd do for yourself if you were planning to stay in the house for years. A cosmetic redo will usually suffice.

Get your agent's or stager's input on colors, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., so that you can ensure a positive response to your efforts. Also, watch your costs. You don't need to do a top-of-the-line paint job or use the most expensive granite for your countertops in order to sell. In fact, it will eat into your proceeds from the sale.

Stick to cost-effective, tasteful improvements for maximum appeal at a reasonable cost.

 

 

For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at 970-468-6800. Email - [email protected]. Her philosophy is simple, whether buying or selling, she understands that the most important real estate transaction is yours.  Want to know the value of your Summit County property? Visit www.SummitHomeValue.com  

Question:  Allison, we are looking for a foreclosure property to buy in Frisco, CO.  Anything in particular we should watch out for?

Answer:  I’m getting this one a lot lately.  While there are some great deals out there now, as it turns out, sometimes the obstacles you have to overcome for the bargain negate the value of the deal -- and then some.

According to Tara Nicole Nelson, today's low prices and interest rates, combined, seem like the perfect storm for finding a great deal.

But some buyers run into -- or even unwittingly create -- circumstances in an effort to cash in on the bargain that deactivate or diminish the full value they otherwise stand to gain from buying at the bottom of the market, for both home prices and interest rates.

Here are three ways homebuyers are defeating their own deals in today's market:

1. House hunting too long. As many as 60 percent of the homes for sale in some markets are short sales. Many other listings are bank-owned (also known as real estate owned or REO) properties, and those homes tend toward two extremes: terrible condition, or so nice at such a low price they receive multiple offers.

Even the nicer, non-distressed homes on the market can end up in and out of contract over and over again due to appraisal or other lending-related issues.

As a result, it is not at all bizarre to hear homebuyers today say they've been house hunting for a year, 18 months, even two or three years. When you house hunt that long, you become susceptible to house hunt fatigue, which causes irrationally extreme overbidding out of sheer exhaustion.

Alternatively, it can cause you to settle for whatever house you can get, even if it doesn't actually meet your needs -- then spend the next 10 years obsessively spending to upgrade, improve, repair and furnish the place to try to make it more like the home you actually wanted.

Both of these outcomes negate and deactivate the bargain you stood to score.

To avoid house hunting too long, it's uber-important to get and stay clear on the differences between what you want and what you need, and to work with a local real estate professional you trust.

Look to your agent to get and keep your expectations centered in reality, so you can make more strategic decisions throughout your entire house hunt, like house hunting in a price range where you're likely to both find homes that will work for your life and be successful in your efforts to obtain one.

2. Making lowball offers way too low. Overbidding seems like an obvious way to cancel out the bargain potential of your deal. But making excessively low offers -- offers sellers couldn't afford to take if they wanted to -- can have the very same result.

Buyers who think they can operate strictly on the basis of buyer's market dynamics -- without realizing that most sellers will need to make enough to pay off their mortgage or at least receive the fair market value for their home -- are cutting off their own noses to spite their faces, all in the name of trying to score an amazing deal.

Note to "low-ballers": If you don't actually secure the home, the super-low price you offered is no deal at all.

3. Freak-outs, stress, drama and mayhem. Once was, it was mostly the buyers uneducated about the home-buying process who tended to freak out and stress the most, especially at the top of the market. These were the folks who found themselves defeated at every turn by buyers who knew what they were up against and were prepared to make their best offer on their first offer.

Fast forward, and now the norm is for buyers to spend much more time reading up on what to expect, but the inundation of information can create brand new mindset management challenges.

Almost every buyer is stressed about whether they can qualify for a loan, and about buying into a down market. Some buyers try to apply national headlines about home prices being depressed to the super-local dynamics of their neighborhood market.

This is unwise if you happen to be, for example, trying to buy a home in the boomtown real estate markets of Silicon Valley. Others go the opposite direction and deny that the basic truths about, say, buying a short-sale listing will actually apply to them (attention homebuyers: buying a short sale usually takes a long, long time).

The emotional freak-outs that result from having your expectations shattered, sometimes brutally, in the course of buying a home often lead to panic-based and fear-based decisions, which can be costly in the short and long term. Additionally, the stress itself can take a toll on your ability to be productive at work, and can even impair your relationship with your mate, neither of which are worth any deal you think you stand to strike.

Again, managing your expectations by working with a trusted broker or agent you feel comfortable relying on to understand the market in your neck of the woods and the type of transaction you want to pull off is essential to downgrading the role emotion plays in your real estate decision-making.

 

For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at 970-468-6800. Email - [email protected]. Her philosophy is simple, whether buying or selling, she understands that the most important real estate transaction is yours.  Want to know the value of your Summit County property? Visit www.SummitHomeValue.com  

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Photo of Summit Real Estate Real Estate
Summit Real Estate
The Bright Choice
330 Dillon Ridge Way, Suite 10
Dillon CO 80435
970-468-6800
800-262-8442
Fax: 970-468-2195

Allison Simson, Owner/Broker, is a licensed Colorado Real Estate Broker