How to Know When to Buy a House

April 30th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Trulia Guides\Buy

Getting to know your local housing market just takes a bit of research.

Is now a good time to buy? Is this neighborhood a good place to buy? Is that listing you’re drooling over priced fairly? You can find answers to all of those questions by understanding your local housing market. Here’s how to do the research you need to figure out when to buy a house and where.

1. Browse listings in your area

Start by getting a general idea of your local housing market with current housing prices. If you search your target city or neighborhood in Trulia, you’ll find a few indications of current local prices that can help you decide when to buy a house:

  • On each home listing, you’ll find the price of that house, as well as home estimates for neighboring houses.
  • In many neighborhoods, you can find the typical price ranges of homes, as well as other helpful info.
  • Check out the Price Trends info on every Trulia listing to see the average price of new and resale home based on current data.

2. Ask for a comparative market analysis

Once you’re able to find a few neighborhoods that have houses you can afford, you can dig deeper to learn all about those areas. Real estate agents have access to databases that can help to compare properties in greater detail than you can find on your own—and since they’ll eventually want to help you buy a home, they want to give you access to it and help you understand it.

The report an agent can make for you is a comparative market analysis, or a CMA. Here’s what it includes:

  • Square footage, location, number of rooms, size lot, age, and any unique selling points or unusual features of a specific property
  • Active listings on the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS
  • Data on sold listings on what buyers actually paid for properties recently (as opposed to what sellers are hoping to get)
  • Expired or removed listings, which can indicate the ceiling for prices in a particular area

This helps you understand the difference between all of those asking prices you’ve seen on active listings, and what properties are really going for in your area.

3. Check sales over time

Past sales trends will help you understand if now is the best time to buy in a particular area. If houses are way more expensive now than they were three years ago, your market might be in a bubble. Or you might find that prices have dipped and it’s a great time to buy.

You can find markets trends on Trulia for a particular city going back five years.

4. Figure out local housing supply

Understanding supply will let you know if you should put on your game face and prepare for a possible bidding war, or if you can take your time making an offer. The number of months of supply a market has lets you know how soon all the houses for sale would be gone if no new ones came on the market.

Here’s how to find it:

  • Find the number of active listings in a specific area.
  • Divide it by the number of pending transactions in the same area.
  • Multiply the result by 60 (days).
  • The number you come up with is the days of inventory for that specific area.

In a balanced market—one in which you won’t have to battle over every listing—there’s usually about a six-month housing supply. When you find a real estate agent, they can help you find the number of active and pending listings for an area, your real estate agent can help you.

Tips for Selling a House With Pets at Home

April 29th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow – Home Sellers Guide

To-do list

  • Remove all signs of pets
  • Ensure marketing materials are pet-free
  • Avoid marketing the home as pet-friendly
  • Repair pet damage to home
  • Deep clean the home before listing
  • Deodorize
  • Clean pet hair
  • Remove stains
  • Mask noisy neighbor pets

Home buyers and sellers are pet owners

The majority of home buyers and sellers are pet owners, but surprisingly, a sign of a pet living in the home is not a selling point.

Sixty percent of sellers are people with pets, with 49 percent owning dogs, 33 percent owning cats, and 12 percent owning other pets. But buyers want to visualize themselves (and perhaps their own pets) living in the home, not you and yours.

So what’s a pet-owning home seller to do? Here are some tips on how to show your house in its very best light, without help from your furry friends.

What to do with a pet during an open house

What is best for the pet?

Every pet is different, and some pets have a harder time with changes in routine than others. And nothing changes a pet’s routine more than listing your home. After all, their daily schedule will be turned upside down, there will be new people in and out, plenty of new smells, and furniture and belongings moved around — not to mention having to spend more time than usual away from home. If your animal is easily stressed, or starts showing signs of anxiety when you’re preparing to list your house, talk to your veterinarian about how to help your pet cope with the changes.

Open house etiquette

Part of preparing your home for an open house includes removing your personal items, like family photos and keepsakes. This easy staging step helps potential buyers picture themselves living in the house and calling it their home. It’s the same reason that the sellers themselves shouldn’t be present for the open house, and this goes for your pets and their belongings, too.

Before your open house, depersonalize wherever you can by removing things like dog toys and food bowls. When it’s time for the open house, it’s time for you and your pets to hit the road. Not only will the absence of your pet make it easier for potential buyers to feel at home, but it also makes it easier for the agent who’s hosting your open house to provide access to the whole house, give tours, and focus on answering questions.

Hosting an open house with a pet is risky

There are many reasons why it’s a bad idea to host an open house with your pets at home. Even if your pet is normally well-behaved and good with people, the steady stream of unfamiliar faces and smells in your home (especially if you’re not there to calm them down) can cause unexpected aggression. Home buyers often shop with their kids, and kids can sometimes trigger strong reactions in pets. Note that some homeowners insurance policies don’t cover dog bites, so if this is an issue for your pet, you’ll want to take extra care.

Aggression issues aside, there are many people who are either allergic to pets or afraid of them, and you want your home to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Don’t limit your potential buyer pool by turning off people who don’t like or can’t be around pets.

If you can’t remove the pet before the open house

If your agent springs an impromptu home tour on you and you aren’t able to schedule alternate accommodations for your pet in time, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Keep your pet in a cage or kennel, with a note left in a visible location instructing visitors to leave the pet alone.
  • If you can’t get home to retrieve your pet before the tour, leave a cage or kennel for your agent, along with some treats so they have an easier time getting your pet to cooperate.
  • Don’t ever attempt to hide a pet. Shoppers want to see your whole home, including closets, storage areas, and laundry rooms.

Tips for selling a house with pets

1. Remove all signs of pets

If you do your staging right, a potential buyer who tours your home shouldn’t even be able to tell a pet lives there. And remember, buyers will look everywhere, so just tucking your pet’s belongings in a closet won’t cut it. Pack up and remove everything pet-related, including:

  • Kennels or crates
  • Toys
  • Water and food bowls
  • Pet food
  • Pet beds
  • Dog houses or cat condos
  • Cat climbers or scratching posts
  • Leashes
  • Pictures of family pets

You might even consider replacing a dog or cat door before listing.

2. Ensure marketing materials are pet-free

Just as you should remove all evidence of your pets before an open house or showing, you’ll want to do the same thing before you have real estate photographs taken. Also make sure to avoid shooting photos of any pet damage, like ripped window screens, chew marks, or torn up lawns. After all, these photos will be used everywhere, including your MLS listing, Zillow, and flyers around the neighborhood.

3. Don’t market your home as pet-friendly

Unless there are permanent structures on your property that can’t easily be removed, like a dog run or a chicken coop, don’t advertise your home as pet-friendly. If pet-owning buyers come for a tour, they can determine the pet friendliness of your home and neighborhood on their own.

Remember, while pet owners might be excited to see a fully-fenced yard or a neighborhood dog park nearby, you don’t want to risk pet-free buyers avoiding your property because they’re not interested in the pet-related amenities.

4. Repair damage done by pets

It’s easy to overlook the damage that your pet has done to your home over time, since you walk past it every day. But potential buyers view homes with a critical eye, and even small blemishes can make a buyer think you haven’t taken good care of the property. Make these repairs before listing:

INTERIOR REPAIRS

  • Stained or torn carpets
  • Scratched, worn, or torn furniture
  • Scratched hardwood or other flooring
  • Claw or chew marks on doors, walls, baseboards, or window sills
  • Ripped curtains

EXTERIOR REPAIRS

  • Pet waste
  • Signs of digging in the lawn
  • Trampled bushes or grass
  • Damaged fencing
  • Torn window screens

5. Deep clean before listing

Whether you have a pet or not, doing a deep clean on your home before listing is a must. And when you have a pet, cleaning is even more important, as bad smells like dog odor or cat odor in the house are one of the first things that will send potential buyers running. Consider calling in a professional cleaning service and carpet cleaners to tackle pet smells, stains, hair, and the like.

HOW TO GET RID OF PET STAINS

  • Spot treatments done by a professional carpet service
  • Try DIY natural cleaning solutions, like one made with a mixture of equal parts salt, white vinegar, and Borax.
  • If your carpets are heavily soiled, you may have to remove the floor covering completely and replace it. But you won’t be alone — 26 percent of recent sellers report replacing carpet or flooring before listing.

HOW TO GET RID OF PET HAIR

  • Vacuum thoroughly and have a professional cleaning done to remove pet hair from carpet
  • Remove cushion coverings and launder them, and vacuum out furniture
  • Hire a furniture cleaning service to remove pet hair from furniture, then keep pets off
  • Bathe your pet frequently
  • Brush or comb your pet outside, daily
  • Vacuum at least once a day, and again before showings (robotic vacuums can be a big help here)

HOW TO GET RID OF PET ODORS IN YOUR HOUSE

  • Wash everything you can: furniture slipcovers, quilts, comforters, curtains, towels, and throw pillows
  • Clean your pet’s habitat, like fish tanks, cages, and bedding
  • Remove litter boxes or potty pads
  • Replace the filter in your HVAC system
  • Add a HEPA filter to absorb particles and dander
  • Steam clean furniture and curtains
  • Avoid air fresheners and scented candles that attempt to mask odor
  • Invite a friend over to do an honest sniff test

HOW TO REMOVE PET ODOR FROM CARPET

  • Sprinkle dry baking soda onto the carpet, let sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum to remove dog urine smell
  • Hire a professional carpet cleaning service, or rent a carpet machine and do it yourself
  • Try pet urine removers and natural, pet-friendly cleaning solutions
  • If the smell persists after cleaning, check to see if the carpet pad or subfloor may need to be replaced

Tips for selling a home with loud neighbor dogs

Sometimes your own pets aren’t the ones causing problems. A neighbor’s yappy or aggressive dog can make for a not-so-enjoyable open house, showing, or inspection. Consider these actions:

  • Kindly ask your neighbor to keep their pets indoors whenever possible
  • Offer to pay for a doggy daycare or a dog walker during your open house — services like Rover and Wagmake it easy to find someone nearby
  • Use plants like bamboo or leafy trees to muffle outdoor noise
  • Keep windows closed during showings
  • Install a water feature to create white noise

Read more:

9 Tips for Preparing a Fabulous Flower Bed

April 26th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow Porchlight by Steve Asbell

Dust off your vases, pitchers and mugs — your home will be overflowing with fresh-cut blooms in no time.

Have you ever ended up with a bed of dead flowers, mountains of mulch and a whopping garden center receipt? Let’s do something about that, shall we?

Get your gardening groove back with these nine tips.

1. Start with a clean slate
There are two kinds of flower beds: those that have been well-prepared and those that are covered in weeds.

Give your unplanted bed the once-over. Does it get enough sunlight? Does water tend to collect there? Have you removed all weeds, roots and rocks so your plants will thrive? It’s a lot easier to fix these problems now than it is once you’ve planted the flowers and laid the mulch.

2. Start seeds
Start a flower bed from seed to save money, raise unusual varieties and enjoy the satisfaction of having grown a whole garden from a handful of tiny seeds.

Since some seeds transplant poorly, check the packet and make sure you don’t have to sow directly in the ground. Start seeds in trays, pots or coir pots, using a seedling mixture, place them in a sunny spot, and transplant as soon as they have developed sturdy stems.

3. Prepare nursery plants
Nursery-grown bedding plants give you instant gratification, but the short time between purchase and planting is crucial to their survival.

Pack them closely in your car to avoid damage, and take them home immediately so that they don’t fry in your car during other errands.

Water nursery plants as soon as you get home, as often as necessary after that, and a few hours before planting to help their fragile roots survive the trauma of transplanting.

4. Get the winning edge
Even the most carefully planned border can look sloppy without a clearly defined edge. Avoid those inexpensive and quickly deteriorating edges made of plastic, and choose a more natural and long-lasting alternative.

The cheapest solution is to make a shallow trench around the bed with your spade and maintain it throughout the season. For something more refined and permanent, set an edge of brick, concrete or stone in leveling sand. The initial cost may be higher, but they will save you a lot of work and make mowing easier.

5. Plan for the seasons
Choose annuals if you plan on replacing them in a season or two, and plant perennials if you’d like them to last longer. Plant evergreen shrubs or ornamental grasses to provide structure and year-round interest.

Also consider the plant’s eventual height. Plant low-growing flowers (usually annuals) at the front of the bed where you can easily view them and replace them at the end of their season.

6. Give them space
Follow the guidelines on the seed packet or plant tag as closely as possible. An often overlooked factor is the amount of space to leave around each plant so they have room to grow. To cover a lot of ground quickly, choose spreading varieties like Superbells and climbing nasturtiums.

7. Dig the perfect hole
Dig each plant’s hole to be twice as wide as the original pot so the roots will have plenty of room to grow. To give them an even better head start, make a little trench around the inside of the hole so the roots will spread down and out.

This step isn’t necessary for annuals, since they won’t be around long enough to enjoy their strong root systems, but it is helpful if you have clay soil.

8. Plant it right
When planting transplants and nursery plants, always place them so that their crowns (where the plant meets the soil) are level with the soil in the bed. If the crown is above the soil level, the plant may dry out when soil washes away from the roots. If planted too low, soil will settle around the crown and rot the plant.

Push the soil around the transplant and firmly tamp it in place with a trowel so no gaps are left between the roots.

9. Mulch mindfully
Mulch is essential for conserving moisture and preventing weeds, but one inch is all you need. Established garden beds don’t even need mulch because the plants themselves are capable of protecting the soil.

Avoid landscaping fabric, since it actually keeps moisture from percolating into the soil. Instead, lay down sheets of newspaper before mulching.

Mulches vary by region, but whichever kind you use, follow this one rule: Don’t ever pile it up against the plants. They’ll rot in no time, and you’ll soon have nothing more than an ugly bed of mulch in their place.

Steve Asbell is the founder of The Rainforest Garden, a blog dedicated to bringing botanical style into your home through DIY projects, gardening, decorating and cooking. He is the author of Plant by Numbers: 50 Houseplant Combinations to Decorate Your Space and spends the rest of his time illustrating and spending time with his family.

Things To Do This Weekend

April 25th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

Free Tree Giveaway – Friday
We will be giving away FREE Florida native and Florida friendly trees at the Northwood Village ArtNight Out on April 26th from 6pm-8pm to celebrate Arbor Day! Trees are free for City of West Palm Beach residents and businesses. First come, first served. Species will include: Dahoon Holly, Live Oak, Clusia, Firebush, Slash Pine and Yellow Tabebuia *we cannot guarantee that a certain species will be available when you arrive. Your best bet is to get there early!
516 Northwood Road – West Palm Beach, FL 33407    Free Tree Giveaway

Friday Night Live Outdoor Concerts – Now to May 31st
This free weekly concert series features a diverse lineup of local and regional bands from country, jazz to classic rock and everything in between. Join us in Centre Court at Downtown at the Gardens and start your weekend on the right note! Seating is provided.
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Outdoor Concerts

Kids World Family Fun Fest – Saturday & Sunday
Kids World Family Fun Fest is an event designed for children 12 and under. This unique 2-day event offers something for all children! You can enjoy participating in many hands-on educational activities, be entertained by one of two entertainment stages, meet your favorite sports mascots and television characters, or have fun bouncing around in the Fun Zone filled with inflatables!
9067 Southern Blvd – West Palm Beach, FL 33411      Kids World Family Fun Fest

The Purple Madness: Tribute to Prince at Abacoa Amphitheater – Saturday
1200 University Blvd – Jupiter, FL 33458   The Purple Madness

Sweet Corn Fiesta – Sunday
The annual Sweet Corn Fiesta, is a celebration of the sweet corn growing season buttered with a family festival of children’s games, music, a national eating competition and, oh yes, mouth-watering and locally grown sweet corn. A celebration of Palm Beach County sweet corn spring growing season with those who make it happen! The annual Sweet Corn Fiesta is an event of the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau, co-produced by the South Florida Fair and presented by the Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers of Florida.
9067 Southern Blvd – West Palm Beach, FL 33411   Sweet Corn Festival

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
10500 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Manatee Lagoon Tour – Now to May 31st
Join us on a walking tour of our visitor center and learn about manatee anatomy, physiology and the importance of GPS tracking devices, as well as the Lake Worth Lagoon. Meet at the manatee skeleton display at the entrance of the building. Recurring weekly on Tuesday through Saturdays. Check website for more details.
6000 N. Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach, FL 33407   Manatee Lagoon Tour

Palm Beach County Local Market Update March 2019

April 24th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Florida Realtors® – Realtors® of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale

How to Improve Your Home Value

April 23rd, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Trulia Guides\Own

Smart moves can help boost your home’s value.

When increasing your home’s value is the goal, you need to think about what will appeal to potential buyers and boost the property’s listing price. This means you need to put aside personal preferences and think about what will have the widest appeal to the largest number of buyers. In other words, you may think that having an octagon-shaped storage shed to house your collection of bobbleheads is awesome, but that probably won’t be a huge hit with people looking to buy a home. You can still make décor and other minor (or reversible) changes that make the home comfortable for you for however long you live there, of course.

Most likely, you only have a certain amount of money to devote to improvements or remodeling projects. Maximize your budget with a strategic plan that focuses on areas that will give you the biggest return on investment.

Don’t try to do too much at once.
Many of us know the feeling of trying to tackle a bunch of home improvement projects all at once—only to finish few, if any, of them. You don’t want to have a bunch of rooms ripped apart or in various states of remodeling when it’s time to sell your home. Concentrate on one project or room at a time, and finish one project before trying to tackle something else.

Boost the curb appeal.
A buyer forms their first impression of your home before they ever walk through the door. The home should look appealing and inviting as soon as someone gets their first glance of it from the street. Think about the landscaping, lighting, and paint. You want the home’s exterior to project warmth, safety, and a general homey feeling.

Address any issues.
Start with the basics by ensuring all main systems such as heating and electrical are in top working order. Unless you are advertising the property as a fixer-upper, buyers don’t want to tackle repairs or worry about maintenance issues in a new home, and any major issues could derail a potential sale at the home inspection phase.

Maximize living space.
Each family is unique, so they want to be able to adapt a home to their individual needs and preferences. Spaces that are flexible enough to be used in multiple ways allow your home to fit a wide range of household combinations. Finished basements, guest rooms that can also serve as offices, and spaces that can be used as a rental unit or in-law suite are all options to help buyers envisions ways they can customize the property while getting the most out of that square footage.

Make the kitchen count.
Real estate professionals constantly cite kitchens and bathrooms as the rooms that buyers notice most. The kitchen in particular tends to play a critical role in homebuying decisions. For many families, the kitchen serves as the heart of the home, so it makes sense that buyers want to feel a connection. Avoid anything too trendy, but a few pops of color or whimsical touches can give the room a personality. Stainless steel appliances tend to have the most mass appeal.

Study the local market to see what sells—and what buyers will pay for. You need to strike a careful balance: trying to make your home stand out without pricing yourself out of the market. Invest in high-end end finishes if those are expected in your local market. Otherwise, pick a few splurges that buyers will notice. The perfect paint color and an eye-catching backsplash can give the kitchen a whole new feel without breaking the bank.

Make the bathroom a relaxing retreat.
Beautiful bathrooms are also high on a buyer’s wish list. In today’s hectic, high-stress world, people want to come home and escape into their little personal oasis. A bathroom should be like an at-home spa, with as much luxury as you can manage within your budget constraints (again, consider the local market).

People want to relax and de-stress in the bathroom, so consider upgrades like a steam shower with a bench and stone or tile. Heated floors and speaker systems for relaxing music are also great extras that buyers will appreciate. For maximum return on a limited budget, the right countertops and fixtures can make a big difference.

Convenience and efficiency are key factors.
We’re all busy these days, so we want tools and gadgets in our home that makes our lives easier and help us get things done. Features that let buyers stay organized and connected will likely be a hit. Think about ways to incorporate hidden storage that hides clutter. , also want the home to accommodate the latest technology. Energy-efficient upgrades will help your home score points with earth-conscious buyers.

5 Tips for Spring Lawn Prep

April 22nd, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow Porchlight – by Steve Asbell

The lush lawn of your spring-loving dreams is just a few steps away.

Even if your lawn is made up of weeds more than actual grass, you can turn it around with some basic spring maintenance. Try these five tips to get your lawn ready before the weather warms up and the grass (and weeds) leave you in the dust.

Prevent weeds

Proper mowing, irrigation and feeding practices are the best possible weed prevention, but established weed populations require drastic measures.

Use a preemergent herbicide to stop warm-season weeds before they sprout. And even a weed-free lawn can easily be undone by nearby weeds and their traveling seeds, so remove any weeds in the garden now so they don’t find their way into your lawn.

If your lawn has bare spots, fill them in now with sod or seed so weeds don’t sprout and get a foothold.

Start your engines

Much like cars, lawnmowers will stop working without routine maintenance. If you haven’t already done so in the fall, replace the mower’s oil and gas with the types recommended in your mower’s instruction manual.

This would also be a good time to replace that corroded spark plug and dirty air filter. Add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from going stale and harming the mower’s engine.

A dull mower blade makes your grass more susceptible to disease with each ragged cut it makes, so sharpen the blade with a metal file when it starts to get dull. Clean your mower often to improve performance and prevent corrosion. If you own a riding mower, air up the tires for an even cut and comfortable ride.

Clear out thatch

You know that spongy layer of dead grass that builds up in your lawn? That’s thatch. A thin layer of thatch is normal and even healthy, because it protects the soil, roots and beneficial organisms. But when that thatch gets about an inch tall, drought, weeds and other problems develop.

Thatch is most likely to build up in lawns that have acidic or compacted soil — or lawns that have been excessively treated with herbicides and pesticides. If thatch is common on your block, prevent it with core aeration. This allows air to reach the soil, promoting organisms that naturally break down thatch. Use a vertical mower or power rake if the thatch is an inch thick or more.

Reseed and resod

None of these tips will do much good without a proper lawn. If your lawn feels beyond hope, consider starting from scratch.

If your existing lawn is an annual one, remove it with a sod cutter. Perennial grasses, like Bermuda or St. Augustine grass, are much tougher to remove, so you’ll likely have to either solarize with clear plastic sheets for several weeks or resort to an herbicide.

Once you’ve dug up the grass or otherwise eradicated it, replace it with soil and a grass variety appropriate to your region. Plan on setting aside a day or two for installation.

Amend the bare soil with topsoil or composted manure, and lay down the sod or planting seeds by following the label instructions. After planting, water it often until the new grass becomes established.

Start good habits

If you’re not already following a fertilizing schedule, start one now by following the directions on your product of choice. You will likely forget this schedule after the first feeding, so pencil in the dates on your calendar so you don’t get off track.

Start the season off right by mowing more often, on a higher setting and in alternating directions. Inspect your sprinklers and pipes for possible breakage — a patch of damp soil or an excessive water bill would be your first clue. If your lawn seems to let into the surrounding landscaping, start edging now to define your boundaries.

A string trimmer is fine for maintenance, but cutting through the dirt with it could get messy. Either rent an edger or purchase a handheld half-moon tool to make deep, clean cuts that persist through the year for easier mowing and trimming.

Steve Asbell is the founder of The Rainforest Garden, a blog dedicated to bringing botanical style into your home through DIY projects, gardening, decorating and cooking. He is the author of Plant by Numbers: 50 Houseplant Combinations to Decorate Your Space and spends the rest of his time illustrating and spending time with his family.

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

April 19th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow – Home Sellers Guide

Selling your home is no easy process, in terms of both the actual logistics and the emotional connection you often have to your home. After all, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, the majority of sellers (62 percent) own their homes for 10 years or more before selling, and 25 percent live in their homes for more than 20 years before making a move! While most sales don’t go 100 percent smoothly, there are some common home-selling mistakes you can avoid to help make the process less stressful and less emotional.

Whether you’re a first-time seller or you’ve been through the process before, being aware of what to watch for makes all the difference. Here are the biggest mistakes when selling your home:

1. Overpricing your home

One of the most important steps to selling a house is determining the right price — the price that will let you sell in a reasonable amount of time, for a profit that you’re comfortable with.

The risk of pricing your home too high

When listing your home for sale, one common pitfall is giving in to the temptation of a too-high listing price. Here’s why:

  • It deters qualified buyers in your price range.
  • It can make your home sit on the market longer. And the longer your home’s on the market, the less buyers feel like they need to put in an offer quickly.
  • If you end up having to do a price reduction, buyers will feel like they have extra negotiating power.
  • If your listing goes stale, you might end up selling for less than you would have if you had priced it appropriately from the start.

Determining the right listing price

There are few different ways for sellers to determine an accurate listing price.

GET A CMA FROM AN AGENT

A comparative market analysis (called a CMA for short) is an estimate of your home’s value, prepared by a local real estate agent. They base their analysis off of similar recently sold homes, and they’ll often provide this service free of charge to earn your business.

COLLECT COMPS ON YOUR OWN

If you’re not working with an agent, you can do your own comp research. Using Zillow’s Recently Sold filter, identify homes that are similar to yours that have sold in the last three to six months, using the following criteria:

  • Same neighborhood
  • Similar size (within about 300 square feet)
  • Same home type — condo, house or townhouse
  • Similar condition or upgrades (if a comp has hardwoods and your home has vinyl flooring, you’ll want to adjust a bit)

HIRE AN APPRAISER

If you’re selling in a particularly competitive market or you need to sell quickly, it may be worth the $500-$700 a professional appraiser charges to get an expert opinion on the value of your home. An appraisal report can give you peace of mind about the price you’ve chosen, and it can be a handy negotiating tool with buyers.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT UNDERPRICING

Sellers are often worried about underpricing, but overpricing is a bigger concern. Underpricing is actually a strategy agents use in hot markets, since a lower asking price can attract multiple buyers and cause a bidding war. You could end up selling for more than the market value, just because of the demand.

2. Selling at the wrong time

The timing of your sale can make all the difference in the price you’re able to get. In most places, the best time of year to sell is the first half of May. Homes listed during this window sold almost two weeks faster than average — and for $2,500 more, compared to average points in the year. Weather can be a factor in your city’s selling window, so keep that in mind when researching the best times to sell in your area.

Another timing-related issue that you’ll want to keep in mind has less to do with the month of the year and more to do with how long you’ve owned the house. To avoid capital gains taxes on the sale of your primary residence, you’ll need to have lived in the home for at least two of the last five years.

3. Skimping on repairs

Even small defects can turn buyers off. If they walk through your home and find loose doorknobs, leaky faucets or wall dings, they’ll wonder if you’ve been neglecting bigger issues in the home as well.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, on average, sellers make 2.2 renovations to their home before selling, with 79 percent making at least one improvement. The most common projects include painting the interior (36 percent of sellers), landscaping the yard (29 percent of sellers), replacing or repairing carpet or flooring (26 percent), and making improvements to the bathroom (also 26 percent).

Option 1: Pre-inspect and correct

Sellers sometimes opt to pay for a pre-inspection. By hiring an inspector to take a look before listing, you can set a more appropriate sale price and head off potential issues before buyers find them. If you’re able to complete repairs before a buyer even sets foot in your house, your home will appeal to people looking for a turnkey, move-in ready home.

Sometimes completing a repair before listing can be more cost-effective than waiting for a buyer to discover the issue and trying to negotiate a closing credit. For example, your HVAC system might just need a couple new parts, but a buyer may want you to replace the whole system. You’ll also have control over the contractor chosen, the cost and the materials used.

AVERAGE CHARGES FOR THE MOST COSTLY HOME REPAIRS

While many home repairs are cosmetic in nature and fairly inexpensive, sellers are sometimes unprepared for the big-ticket issues that need to be handled before listing. Here are some of the most expensive big repairs:

  • Plumbing: $7,000
  • New roof: $6,200
  • New driveway: $4,000
  • Exterior paint: $3,500
  • Windows and doors: $3,000
  • New furnace: $2,300
  • Electrical: $2,000
  • Carpet and flooring: $2,000
  • Deck: $2,000

Option 2: Offer a repair credit

One way to help a deal move forward when there are known issues in the home (either because of a previous pre-inspection or because the buyers found something during their own inspection) is to offer a repair credit, which allows the buyers to complete the repairs on their own, after closing.

Option 3: Lower the listing price

If you’ve discovered issues in your home before you list, you can lower the listing price from the get-go. Note that some buyers may still try to negotiate a lower sale price, so make it clear in your listing description that the listing price reflects a known issue.

4. Letting emotions interfere with your home sale

To successfully sell your home, it’s important to separate your emotional connection to the home from the details of the transaction. It can be hard to negotiate with buyers when you love your home, but acting like a professional is important.

Emotional mistake: Taking negotiations personally

Do your best to keep a cool head during the entire selling process, especially during important negotiations. Be realistic and assume there will be at least a few issues uncovered during the home inspection. No home is perfect, especially older homes. Don’t let the buyer’s request for minor repairs derail the whole deal.

You know all the TLC you’ve put into your home, but that doesn’t mean it’s something a specific buyer will want, and it’s not necessarily something that adds actual value to the home. For example, if you did a DIY interior paint job, but the buyer wants it redone by a professional, don’t take it as a personal affront to your painting skills.

Emotional mistake: Failing to accommodate showings

Multiple showings and the occasional open house are just part of the home-selling process, even if they’re inconvenient. After all, few buyers are willing to purchase sight unseen! If you have a listing agent, they should be coordinating showings or providing a lockbox for buyer’s agents to do tours (at times you’ve agreed to, of course).

Make sure to vacate the home, bringing kids and pets with you, when buyers are touring the home. Having the seller present can be uncomfortable for buyers. You want buyers to be able to visualize themselves living in the home, and that’s hard to do with you looking over their shoulder.

5. Failing to prep and stage

Making the effort to help your home look its best before listing is time and money well-spent. A clean, uncluttered and bright home is what buyers are looking for. And, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 48 percent of recent buyers said that having a house staged was somewhat, very or extremely important to their home-buying decision. Use the following home-selling tips to clean, prep and stage your home.

Clean thoroughly

  • Vacuum, sweep and mop.
  • Polish or wipe down appliances and countertops.
  • Clean bathrooms.
  • Eliminate odors.
  • Fold and put away laundry.
  • Keep closets organized (buyers love storage space).
  • Repeat this process before every showing.

Depersonalize, declutter and stage

As mentioned above, it’s important that buyers can picture themselves living in the home. And when your belongings are everywhere, that can be a tall order. Here are some decluttering and staging tips:

  • Rent a storage unit or store personal belongings at a friend’s house.
  • Go room by room and remove things. The fewer items in a room, the bigger and more spacious it feels.
  • Donate! Decluttering for a home sale is the perfect time to get rid of things you don’t need, reducing storage and moving costs.
  • Remember that buyers won’t necessarily have your style. Keep decor to a minimum and rearrange furniture in a way that’s neutral and functional. If your home furnishings have a very particular style, consider hiring a professional stager to help you make it appeal to a wider range of buyers.
  • Stage rooms for broad appeal. For example, your guest room is better staged as a guest room than a home gym.
  • Consider painting the interior. A fresh coat of paint helps every room look its best. This is even more important if you have rooms with bold, unique wall colors, which won’t appeal to most buyers.

6. Not hiring a professional photographer

Many real estate agents will cover the cost of professional listing photographs, but even if you’re not using an agent, professional photos are a must. After all, 79 percent of buyers search for homes online, and listing photos are your home’s first impression.

Most professional photographers only charge a couple hundred dollars, and the result will be photos that are crisp and clean with lots of natural light, highlighting your home’s best features.

7. Skipping curb appeal

When a potential buyer arrives at your home for a showing, the outside is the first thing they see. Don’t spend so much time prepping the inside of your home that you forget about the exterior. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 29 percent of sellers spruce up their landscaping in some way before listing. Common landscaping tasks can include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Painting the exterior (if necessary)
  • Clearing pathways
  • Seasonal maintenance, like raking leaves and trimming bushes and branches
  • Planting flowers

8. Forgetting closing costs

One of the biggest home-selling mistakes you can make is forgetting to factor your closing costs into the profits you’ll make on the sale of your home. Closing costs for sellers can be as high as 8 to 10 percent of the sale price. Your overall closing costs are made up of a few different items:

  • Commissions: It’s typical for sellers to pay a total of 6 percent of the sale price — 3 percent goes to the seller’s agent, and 3 percent goes to the buyer’s agent.
  • Transfer tax: Also called a title fee, this is the tax levied by your state. The rate can vary dramatically state by state, and also depending on the sale price of the home.
  • Title insurance: It’s also customary for sellers to pay for a title insurance policy for the buyer, which protects them from any liens or disputes over your home’s ownership. The cost can be between $1,000 and $4,000.
  • Escrow fees: An escrow service holds the funds throughout the transaction and pays them out appropriately at closing. These fees are usually split between buyer and seller, and can cost between $500 and $2,000.
  • Prorated property taxes: You’ll be responsible for your home’s property taxes up to the closing date, which often results in a prorated charge at closing.
  • HOA fees: Similarly, you’ll have to pay your HOA dues, prorated.
  • Advertising costs: If you’re selling your home on your own, you’ll have to pay for any advertising costs, like online ads, flyers and signage.
  • Attorney’s fees: If you hire an attorney, you’ll have to pay their fee. In 21 states across the U.S. (and Washington, D.C.), you’re required to use an attorney for a real estate transaction. These states include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

9. Not hiring an agent (if you’re not willing to do the work)

Unless you have the time, dedication and know-how to list your house for sale by owner (FSBO), you may be better off using an agent. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, only 10 percent of sellers complete their sale without the help of an agent. Another 10 percent start the process on their own but end up using an agent. Here are a few key benefits:

  • Your agent will deal with the many pages of paperwork required.
  • Your agent will minimize stress and help you focus on facts, not emotions.
  • An agent has expertise in your local market and what buyers are looking for.
  • They’ll do the pricing for you, using a comparative market analysis.

Make sure you choose the right agent. The person you choose should be knowledgeable on the local market and have experience selling homes in your neighborhood. To find a great agent, read reviews, get referrals from friends and family members, interview multiple agents and set expectations. Also, negotiate! A little more than two-thirds of sellers don’t negotiate their agent’s terms, but of those who do, 57 percent are successful in some way.

Skip the hassle

There’s no way to guarantee a perfectly seamless sale — there’s always some stress, prep work and expense involved. If your biggest priority is selling your home quickly and easily, consider selling your home to Zillow Offers. We’ll buy your house for cash, and you’ll never have to go through the hassle of listing it. And, you can pick a convenient close date.

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Things To Do This Weekend

April 18th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

Flashlight Egg Hunt – Friday
Grab your flashlight for this awesome nighttime hunt for prizes and candy while under the stars. Gates open at 7:30 pm, hunt starts at 8:00 pm. MUST Pre-register in advance. Limited spaces. We will NOT be able to accommodate walk-up registration the night of the event. Two Age groups: 7-10 & 11-14. Jupiter Community Park Softball Fields.
3377 Church Street – Jupiter, FL 33458   Flashlight Egg Hunt

Friday Night Live Outdoor Concerts – Now to May 31st
This free weekly concert series features a diverse lineup of local and regional bands from country, jazz to classic rock and everything in between. Join us in Centre Court at Downtown at the Gardens and start your weekend on the right note! Seating is provided.
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Outdoor Concerts

Flagler Museum Easter Egg Hunt – Saturday
Children are invited to hunt for more than 8,000 eggs on the Museum’s Lawn and in the Cocoanut Grove. The Museum grounds will be sectioned off into age-appropriate areas so everyone, including toddlers, will have an opportunity to participate. Museum gates open at 9:00 a.m. when children may have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny, engage in Easter-themed craft projects, have their face painted, receive a balloon sculpture, and play the Bean Bag Toss game.  The egg hunt begins promptly at 10:00 a.m. Children are encouraged to bring their own Easter baskets. For more information, or to purchase tickets by phone, please contact the Flagler Museum at (561) 655-2833.
1 Whitehall Way – Palm Beach, FL 33480     Flagler Museum Easter Egg Hunt

History Walking Tour – Saturday
Explore downtown WPB’s history during a History Walking Tour on the third Saturday of the month, November through April! The 90-minute guided tour starts at 10 a.m. led by architect and historian Rick Gonzalez. The tour highlights the evolution of downtown West Palm Beach buildings and landmarks. Tours begin “by the Banyan tree” on the east end of Clematis Street, 101 N. Clematis St., and end at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum at 300 N. Dixie Hwy. For Reservations call 561-832-4164 x2.  Walking Tour

Easter Celebration and Helicopter Candy Drop – Saturday
Don’t miss our Easter Celebration, Saturday, April 20th at 5:30 p.m. Pre-game helicopter candy drop. Special visit from the Easter Bunny. Palm Beach Cardinals host the St. Lucie Mets. Game Starts: 5:30 PM | Gates Open: 4:30 PM | Helicopter Candy Drop: 4:45 PM. *Please note, times are subject to change.
4751 Main Street – Jupiter, FL 33458   Easter Celebration and Helicopter Candy Drop

West Palm Beach Green Market – Saturday
The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is the area’s first and premier green market located on the scenic West Palm Beach Waterfront. You can shop more than 80 vendors featuring the freshest and most unique offerings including local produce, plants, exotic flowers, herbs, baked goods, gourmet foods, teas, coffee and much more.  Free parking in the Evernia Garage during Market hours.
Downtown West Palm Beach, Waterfront Commons  Green Market

Cajun Crawfish & Music Festival – Saturday
Join Little Smiles of Florida for a night of true Louisiana-style food, music, and fun! The Cajun Crawfish & Music Festival on Saturday, from 12pm – 9pm at Downtown at the Gardens. This FREE event will feature live Cajun zydeco music straight from the heart of Louisiana appearing on the @Monroe’s of Palm Beach main stage! Experience Bourbon Street’s classic cocktails featuring Hurricanes, Grenades, beer from Abita Brewing Company and introducing Vicious V’s Crawfish Shooter!
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Avenue – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410     Cajun Crawfish Festival

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
10500 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Palm Beach International Polo Season – Now to April 21st
The International Polo Club Palm Beach is the premier polo destination in the world, hosting the largest field of high-goal teams and the most prestigious polo tournaments in the United States. Polo enthusiasts descend upon Wellington, Fla., each winter season to enjoy their love of the sport in the most prominent and well‐equipped polo facility. Polo matches are open to the public, with a wide range of hospitality and guest seating that includes elegant grandstand viewing, field tailgating, stadium seating, field-side champagne brunch at The Pavilion, and exclusive sponsor boxes. Check calendar for events.
3667 120th Avenue South – Wellington, FL 33414   Palm Beach International Polo

Manatee Lagoon Tour – Now to May 31st
Join us on a walking tour of our visitor center and learn about manatee anatomy, physiology and the importance of GPS tracking devices, as well as the Lake Worth Lagoon. Meet at the manatee skeleton display at the entrance of the building. Recurring weekly on Tuesday through Saturdays. Check website for more details.
6000 N. Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach, FL 33407   Manatee Lagoon Tour

9 Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

April 16th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Florida Realtors®