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Pricing Your Home to Sell


Home Seller Mistake No. 1: Pricing Too High


"I can always lower the price later if I don't get any offers."


That statement costs sellers millions of dollars every year. Yes, you can always lower your asking price, but that's not a good strategy. Time and time again, experience shows that sellers who list competitively from the start get a better price than sellers who list high and then go lower and lower.

Why? Psychology.

When you price too high, here's what buyers think:


"Wow, three price cuts in the last four months ...  

there must be something wrong with that house."


"With all the price cuts on this house, the sellers must be desperate.  

Let's offer them far below what they're asking and see if they bite."

Sound Pricing Strategies

A far smarter approach is to find a knowledgeable agent who understands the local market and then work together on setting the right price. A good agent can help you avoid the overpricing trap.


An experienced agent will help set the right price for your home by considering the following:

  • Similar homes, via a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): Your agent will provide a professional analysis that goes deep into stats about recent sales and current listings similar to your home in size, age, condition and features. Sales within the past six months are especially relevant.
  • General market conditions: Is it a seller's market or a buyer's market? It's important to note that what's happening nationally may not reflect local conditions.

Your RE/MAX Realty Affiliates agent can explain the difference and answer any questions you may have.



Helping Your Pet Adjust After A Move


Moving can be stressful for every family member - including the four-legged ones. The tough part is you can't explain to your dogs and cats what's happening. Every animal reacts differently to new living quarters, and temperament has a lot to do with it. Some pets take a move in stride, while others exhibit anxiety or insecurity for days or weeks.

Here are some things to consider as the big move approaches and after you're in your new home:

  • A little help from the vet: Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on easing the transition. If your pet is generally anxious or high-strung, perhaps it's worth asking whether a mild calming medication might be right for your pet for the first few days after the move. It's not uncommon for vets to prescribe gentle stress relief for travel. Your veterinarian may also suggest additional vaccinations depending on the area and climate you're moving to.
  • A pre-move home tour: If possible, take your pet to the new home for a visit before the official moving day. That way, it will be familiar with the house, yard and even new smells when you actually move in.
  • Time to explore: After you move in, give your pet time to explore the house gradually, rather than letting it loose immediately to roam at will. 
 Limit it to one area - perhaps the kitchen - for a few hours until it calms down. You might want to keep a dog on a leash when first allowing it to tour the greater part of the house. 

If you have a fenced yard, avoid letting pets out unsupervised for several days until you're sure they can't climb or dig out from under the fence.
  • The benefit of pet walks: Take your dog for walks and good sniffing around the entire neighborhood. 

Leave and enter the new home by different doors during the early walks, so your dog develops a good sense of direction and knows exactly where home is.
  • Additional supervision: While you have a million things to do after moving into a new house, try to have at least one family member home at all times during the first week or so. Feed pets and take the dog for walks at the same time as you did at your old home.
  • Update pet IDs: Because accidents happen, update your pet's identification information before you move. If your pets are microchipped, contact the registration company and give them the new information. This way, if Fluffy or Fido slip out the door, anyone who finds them can easily return them to their new home.

If you're ready to start your home search for a place that's perfect for you and your pets, contact me so we can work together to get you a great home for your entire family!

Is There A Luxury Home In Your Future?


Buying and selling high-end homes in today's market is complicated and demands high-end expertise. And we have the experience, capability and area knowledge to sell your luxury home, or help you buy a new one.

  • I've been helping clients with their real estate needs in the Carson Valley area since 1992.
  • I've owned RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville since 1995, and Carson City since 2004. I partnered with Amy and Brian Lessinger to open the Reno office in 2005.
  • I've been living in the Carson Valley since 1987 with my wife Jocelyn. We love it here and could not have picked a better place to raise our three boys.
  • RE/MAX Realty Affiliates has been the top-producing real estate company in the Carson Valley for more than 10 years, which means we get results for our clients. And the referrals they send us.
  • As a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame, I'm in the company of the top 2% of RE/MAX agents in the country.  
  • And, as part of the RE/MAX family, we have exclusive agreements with duPont Registry, the Wall Street Journal and Unique Homes, which means our clients have access to affluent home-buyers from all over the world.

If you're interested in brainstorming your options, please give me a call. I'd love to meet with you.

Finding Success As A New Home Buyer


As one of the largest financial decisions in most people's lives, buying a home requires discretion, sensibility and budgeting. The following tips will  keep you on the right path as you look to purchase your first place.

  • Keep score: The better your credit score, the better your mortgage terms will be. A good credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over  the life of your loan.
  • Consider all costs: The cost of a home is just the start, and smart buyers tighten their  belts before buying to meet the monthly and yearly financial demands of homeownership. When you buy a home, you're responsible for paying  principal and interest, taxes and insurance.
    • Additionally, you'll need  to cover expenses such as utilities and possibly homeowner association  dues. You'll also need cash on hand for the upkeep and repair costs that  come with any home. The average homeowner spends 1 percent to 4 percent of a home's value on property maintenance each year, according to U.S.  News & World Report. Expect to pay for repairs or maintenance even  within the first year of  owning your home.
  • Be flexible in your search: Homebuyers who distinguish between wants and needs make the most  sensible decisions. A list of must-haves should include items that affect your quality of life, such as a home's location, its price,  number of bedrooms and square footage.
    • You should be prepared to concede  nonessential items, such as views and extra rooms, if you find a house that  meets your must-haves and is within your budget. Being flexible also  involves adjusting your criteria as the home search progresses. For  example, your budget may require looking at a town house rather than a  detached home, or buying a fixer-upper in order to live in a better  neighborhood.
  • Keep your cool: Don't get overly excited in your search, especially in markets like ours, where  homes are selling quickly. A bit of self-restraint prevents you from  overspending or choosing a home that doesn't fully fit your needs. Be  prepared to walk away if a home inspection reveals more defects in a home than you're able to deal with.
    • Also, keep calm if you find yourself in a bidding war. Your agent can help you  make the most competitive offer, and if it doesn't get accepted then we can help you find the next great option.

Finding the right  home that fits your lifestyle and budget can take weeks or months. By  starting early and being patient, you'll avoid the sense of urgency that  often drives homebuyers to make hasty decisions.

Are you thinking of buying a new home? Contact me so we can work together to find what you're looking for!

Prepping Your Home For Sale


Potential buyers get an impression of your home - either positive or negative - within 30 seconds of walking through the door. Having them see your home in tip-top selling shape is an absolute must.
There are countless ways to put the freshest face on your home, many of them costing little more than a bit of your time. Here are a few pointers for the most significant impact:

Outside: The Power of Curb Appeal

  • Clear any clutter and keep lawn decorations to a minimum.
  • Mow your lawn and trim shrubs.
  • Add bushes and/or colorful flowers.
  • Sweep sidewalks, porch and driveway.
  • Remove or update any dated or personalized fixtures.
  • Put all toys away.
  • Fix damaged gutters, shutters, siding or roof shingles.
  • Add a tasteful welcome mat to the front door.
  • Clean all windows inside and out.

Inside: Leave No Trace

  • Clean everything! Check for cobwebs on ceilings, dust on baseboards - everything.
  • De-clutter. Then de-clutter again. Rent a storage locker if you need to. This is very important for increasing your home's appeal.
  • Add a fresh coat of paint to the walls.
  • Remove family photos and excessive wall decorations.
  • Remove personal items, such as DVD collections and trophies.
  • Replace worn carpets, and shampoo carpets that are dirty but still in good shape.
  • Polish wood floors.
  • Add fresh flowers or plants, but don't overdo it.
  • Maximize your home's natural light by opening blinds and shades.
  • Do a smell check and address any odors.
  • Pet owners: Take Fido or Fluffy with you while your home is being shown.

Are you thinking of selling your home? Contact me so we can work together to get you the best deal!

Five Decisions to Make Before Beginning Your Search


In the market for a new home but have no idea where to start? There are several decisions you should begin to make before you even start your home search. By asking yourself the right questions, you can quickly pinpoint what you want - and can afford - in your next home.

What's your budget? See how your finances stand up to the 28/36 rule, which lenders use to see what you can afford to pay each month. A financial advisor or your real estate agent also can help you crunch the numbers. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process lets you know how much lenders will allow you to borrow - plus it helps you show sellers that you have the funds to backup your offer.

What do you need in your new home? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? What about a large kitchen, a home office or a playroom for the kids? How many cars need covered parking? It's critically important to ensure the home you select meets your family and lifestyle needs.

How do you feel about living under covenants? Depending on where you buy, you may have to pay homeowner association (HOA) fees in addition to your mortgage. There are benefits to HOAs, such as maintenance, community centers, and maybe even a pool or gym. But you also could be faced with more restrictive rules about the look of the outside of your home, down to the color of your front door, types of window coverings, and whether you can plant flowers in your yard.

What school district do you want to be near? Even if you don't have children in the house, local schools will affect your property value. Prospective homebuyers tend to search with education in mind. Do your research on the schools in the areas you'd like to live in.

Should the home be move-in ready? Ask yourself how much elbow grease you're willing to put into a home - or how much you'll pay someone else to do the work. Fixer-upper homes can be great after the work is done, but you'll want to figure out your renovation budget before you start your home search. A 203k home-renovation loan might be the right resource for you. If you're not ready for the extra financial commitment of rehabbing a home, or you can't or don't want to wait for remodeling projects to finish up, then a home that's move-in ready might be right for you.

After considering all these factors, you'll be ready to start the home search with a clearer picture of where you're headed. Then contact me so we can work together to find your dream home!

How Much House Can You Afford?


Knowing how much you can afford to pay is a crucial step in your search. Nailing down your budget early will make the overall process more focused and less stressful.

Here's a good way to figure out how much you can afford:

The 28/36 Rule:
The 28/36 rule is an established benchmark used by many lenders to determine how much credit to offer you. Here's how it works:

  • Get preapproved for a mortgage. Your lender can approve you for a certain loan amount prior to your home search. This gives you a solid number against which you can assess the affordability of the houses you visit.
  • The "28" refers to the notion that no more than 28% of your gross monthly household income should go toward housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
  • To calculate, simply multiply your gross monthly income (amount before taxes) by .28. Use this amount as a guide for how much house you can afford.
  • Example: You earn an annual salary of $70,000. Divide 70,000 by 12, giving you a monthly gross income of $5,833. Multiply that by .28, and you'll find you should spend no more than $1,633 each month on total housing costs.
  • The "36" part of the 28/36 rule refers to your overall debt, which shouldn't exceed 36% of your income. This is important to consider because other high monthly debt loads - such as car and credit card payments - impact the amount you can afford to spend on housing.

For first-time home buyers, the tricky part is knowing how much to budget for taxes and insurance. An experienced real estate professional can assist you with this.

Are you thinking of buying a new home? Contact me so we can work together to figure out your home's sales price. And then we can help you find your next home!

Six Ways To Bring Spring Indoors


It's been a harsh winter and most of us are more than ready for spring and all the great things that get us outdoors. But wouldn't it be nice to bring the spring season inside, too?

Here's a checklist of small jobs that will make an instant difference in how your home looks and feels this spring.

  • Wash your windows - or have them professionally done. You'll want a clear view of all the beautiful things happening outside.
  • Dust lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs, and wash the winter dust off your blinds. Your home will feel much fresher and brighter.
  • Deep clean your carpets, upholstery and curtains. Also change out your bedding with lighter fabrics that are more suitable for the warmer temperatures.
  • Reset your fans to move counter-clockwise to create a light, cooling breeze. (In the winter, your fans should run clockwise to distribute the rising warm air throughout the room.)
  • Start storing away your winter clothes and putting away your winter tools and toys. You probably won't need those skis, snow shovels or ice scrapers for a while.
  • Sweep or power wash outside the front and back doors. Replace weathered doormats for a nice welcome into your home.

After you have these basics out of the way, relax and enjoy the blossoms, warmer breezes and all the best of spring.

If you're thinking about selling your home, these jobs are a good start in preparing your home for sale. The next step is to give me a call. I'd be happy to consult with you on how to get the best price for your home!                                            


Stay Competitive in a Bidding War


If you're buying a home in a hot housing market with frenzied bidding wars, you're going to want to stay competitive.

I can help you create the best strategy for submitting winning offers in your market.In the meantime, here are some general guidelines you can consider:

  1. Get pre-approved. When you make an offer with a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender in hand, you're ready to compete.
  2. Establish the top of your budget. When you determine the maximum amount you can pay, you'll want to search for homes that are priced lower than this number. This gives you flexibility to increase your offer. When you start at the top of your budget, there's no room to bid higher. When you can - consider an escalation clause, which automatically increases your offer by a certain amount if other offers come in.
  3. Be ready to act fast. If you can see yourself living somewhere and your instincts tell you to submit an offer, do it as soon as possible. Sometimes your agent can write the offer right there during a showing. Of course, buying a home is a big decision, so if there's any hesitation, you're probably better off continuing to shop.
  4. Stay as flexible as possible. This is especially helpful when it comes to escrow periods and closing times. If the seller asks to extend or shorten the process, rest assured if you don't follow their timeline, another buyer might.
  5. Don't give up. If your offer isn't chosen, you can present yourself as a standby in case the accepted offer falls through. But, of course, keep looking. You don't want to miss another great opportunity waiting around for other buyers to change their minds.

    When you're ready to make your move, contact me so we can work together to find your next house.

Staging Your Home For Sale


For the past three months the average selling price of a staged home was 19% above the listing price while the unstaged home was only 15%. The 4% difference more than paid the staging cost.

Here are the ten secrets fo selling from Marelen Wharmby, a successful home stager:

  • Freshen up the home by painting walls a light, neutral color, such as antique white. Lighter colors appeal to a wider range of buyers and make each room look larger.
  • Take a close look at the floor coverings in each room. If you have hardwood floors under the carpet, you will always make money by removing it, even if the floor is not in perfect condition.
  • Allow as much light as possible to enter the room. Open up or remove all draperies, blinds, shades or other window coverings.
  • Removing the clutter of everyday life - all utilitarian items, stacks of paperworks, toiletries, kitchen utensils, electronic equipment and television sets.
  • Remove furniture from each room that does not go with the decor, such as items that stand out too much and items that are worn or of an unappealing color.
  • Place the remaining room furnishings in a way that makes best use of the character of the space. A room should be balanced so that people do not focus on one particular piece of furniture.
  • Now that you've removed the clutter from your home, adding some nice but inexpensive accessories will greatly elevate the perceived value of the home.
  • Clean, clean, clean. Every crevasse within the home should be spotless and gleaming. Even your normal weekly cleaning can not come close to the quality of clean you need.
  • You can't over spend on fresh plants and orchids, elaborate floral arrangements and landscape plants. All these provide a strong addition to the ambience you want to create.
  • Go on vacation! The houses that sell for much higher prices are homes that do not have the slightly disheveled look which comes with showering in the morning and cooking dinner in the evening. Being gone also will lower your level of stress and make the house easier to sell. Think of it this way: Your vacation will actually make you money.



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