You’re Already Fashionably Late…Hurry Up and Get Here!

Over the last two months or so I’ve listed a bunch of properties…several of them have already gone under contract and will be closing soon.

But I also have several clients that are not quite ready. They’re painting a wall, loading a POD, waiting for school to let out, waiting to open the pool, they’re making piles for the consignment store, Goodwill and the garbage can. They’re almost ready and their homes will make their entrance to the market soon.

It reminds me of a party and the guests that always arrive fashionably late…you know how it is…most of the guests have arrived and many are already enjoying themselves…they’re visiting and laughing, dipping into the hors d’oeuvres. And then there are the guests that are just sort of milling around and asking…”When are Jill and Bob coming?”, “Did they say what time they’d get here?” Or “Did you talk to Kim and George?” “Are they on their way here?” For those milling around guests the party hasn’t started until everyone has arrived.

As I listen to the birds happily chirping and see the crabapple tree on the verge of blooming it’s clear that spring is here. And because properties, (when priced and presented well), are “flying off the shelves” and going under contract quickly, I’m convinced the spring market is well underway!

And just like the party with the guests who are already having a good time, many spring buyers have already found their new home, and they’re just munching on hors d’oeuvers until the closing date. But like the guests that can’t enjoy the party until everyone arrives, there are buyers still waiting to see all the new properties the spring market will bring.

So…to my soon to be seller clients and anyone else that’s still prepping their house or thinking about selling this spring…

Pack up the POD, finish the wall, open the pool and get that stuff dropped off to Goodwill.

You’re already fashionably late! Just hurry up and get here…for some…the “party” can’t start without you.

Had an “I love my job” week

 
I had an “I love my job” week in real estate this week.

 
I got a new listing, sold one of my listings and had a buyer sale. That’s a good week. Selling houses means the promise of future paychecks and that’s a good thing. But a new listing, selling a listing and a buyer sale in and of itself isn’t what made it an I love my job week.

 
What made it an I love my job week was…Anna, Linda, and Joe and Britany…

 
This week I met Anna. I was interviewed and hired by Anna’s son Bob a couple of weeks ago. This week I was meeting Bob at the townhouse to have the photographs taken and to sign the listing paperwork. The townhouse belongs to Anna so she was there. Anna is 90 years old, born in 1923. Anna has moved to an assisted living community, she can’t really live on her own anymore, so she is sadly selling her beautiful townhome. Her age, her pretty white hair, the unsteadiness in her hands, as she signed the paperwork in that perfect handwriting you just don’t see anymore, the vulnerability of her demeanor…Anna moved me and I liked being near her. The townhouse is lovely and it will sell, but Anna was beautiful and getting to spend just that little bit of time with her…that was an I love my job thing.

 
The listing I sold is a house that’s been on the market for what seems like forever. The house belongs to Linda, it’s the family home; it’s her inheritance. Linda lives in Kentucky,  her husband is in Wisconsin where he was transferred over a year ago. The house selling means that she and her family can buy a house in Wisconsin and be together again. It’s been a long and difficult time for her and I am so happy that her wait is almost over. Listing sold…great. Seeing Linda get to finally be on her way…that’s an I love my job thing.

 
And then, just moments ago, I heard from the listing agent that the offer my buyers made on a house this week has been accepted. My buyers are Joe and Britany. They are a super sweet couple; been married for six years and are so ready to start a family. And they want the family they start to be close to Britany’s family…not 45 minutes away let’s make a plan for Sunday close, no, they want to be coffee close, stop by close. Showing them houses has been a family affair. Sometimes Britany’s mom and dad have come along; sometimes brother Ryan and his wife Kate have popped in to check out the house too. And whenever they all see one another, there’s handshakes and hugs all around.  Their affection for one another fills a room. They are all really good people so working with Joe and Britany has been a pleasure. And now they have a house! The house needs all kinds of updating: There’s wallpaper and paneling everywhere, bathrooms need to be updated, and the kitchen has awful fluorescent lighting that’s gotta go…and yet it’s perfect. Sold a house…great. Joe and Britany being over the moon happy and 60 days away from coffee-close…that’s an I love my job thing.

Definitely an I love my job week.

Happy Friday!

 

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Job

With the spring market underway, my days have been long…working from sun up to past sundown, each morning passing a quickly accumulating pile of laundry as I walk out the door, and coming home at the end of long days with my personal to do’s left undone. I’ve not been out with friends, or gone to the show in quite a long time. There’s an ebb and flow to working in real estate…this is a “flow” time of year. So for now at least, it seems that “work” is all I do.

And yet, I’m happy. I won’t go as far as to say, as the expression goes, find a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life.  It’s work, but I do love my job.

Most people have long days, and work really really, hard and yet not everyone has a job they love, not everyone is lucky enough to be happy in their careers. I was just thinking about this the other day, when lo and behold, Forbes publishes an article that says real estate agents are among the happiest in their careers. Who would have guessed? You can check it out here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/03/22/the-happiest-and-unhappiest-jobs-in-america/work

The article sites a study that was done that “scored” a variety of factors that affect workplace happiness: one’s relationship with their boss and co-workers, work environment, compensation, growth opportunities, control over the work one does on a daily basis and others.

There’s truth in the “happiness” factors though they aren’t things I’ve “scored” or even conciously thought about. But because of the article, I have thought about it. Forbes and its study had their happiness factors, and I have mine. With maybe some overlap…here are the top 10 reasons I love my job.

1. People and their stories.

Everyone has a story, and each one fascinates me. It’s the people I meet, that I would otherwise not have known, and the life stories they share with me that I love, love, love the most about my job.

2. Each day it’s something new.

Sure there are regular tasks but every day brings a different combination of things. New people, new properties, new obstacles to get past…no two days are ever the same.

3. You never stop learning.

While it can be intimidating to not have an answer for everything, as someone that loves learning, my job provides a smorgashboard of things to learn.   Market trends, new technologies, social media and the things that just pop up in every deal, means there’s always something to learn.

4. Real Estate Agents are a hoot…and I get to hang out with them everyday.

I think real estate agents get a bad rap. We’re mostly  genuinely good people.  While we may be in competition with one another we’re generally a pretty try to be helpful to one another bunch, we’re fun and funny…a real estate office is a great place to work. At least mine is.

5. A chance to do good.

Moving is high on the list of stressful things to do, so when I’m able to ease  stress and burden for my clients and to help them get where they want to go, it feels good.

6. You can let your freedom flag fly.

There are laws to obey and rules to follow as a real estate agent but there’s also plenty or room to run your business as you like. I’m my own brand, so I’m free to be me.

7. You get to solve mysteries.

He likes newer construction, she’s drawn to vintage homes…what house will we find that they will agree on? It starts as a mystery, but you get to help solve it…and always do! Solving mysteries is one of the more fun things I do.

8.Outlet for Creativity

I’m not artistic, but I like that my job provides an outlet for creativity…brochures, choosing the right photos, listing verbage, writing a blog…they all sort of scratch the creative itch.

9. You won’t get fired or layed off. 

Starting up, building business, surviving downturns…none of that comes easy…on the contrary…it’s really, really hard (at least it was/is for me). But if you can do it, you can make a decent living…and no one can take your job away. I like that.

10. I do love houses.

Any agent will admit, liking people and houses is not reason enough to do this job. Liking people and houses is only the tip of the iceberg! But with that said, I do love houses. Old houses and new houses, dated houses and rehabbed houses, big houses and small houses. I do love houses.

So…those are the top ten reasons this” happiest in their careers” agent loves her job.  Would welcome hearing why you love yours….

Purple Staging Will Do by Amy Curtis

My last post was my “confession” of faith in the benefits of home staging. I am a believer. But I have my limits…

Have you seen the clever Ace Hardware purple paint commercial??  The one where the woman is searching for the perfect shade of purple? Here it is…

Got it? There’s purple…and then there’s purrrrple.

This may lose something in the translation, but I think you’ll follow…

There are degrees of purple…from the basic purple to the more dramatic purrrrple. And guess what? When it comes to staging a home for the market, there’s staging…and then there’s staaaaging. I’m a believer in the basic purple sort of staging.

Let me explain.

It was just this time of year three years ago and I was listing a home.  When I met with my clients they told me they had already contacted a home stager and were working on their “staging” list.  I thought it might be a good idea….until they told me what the stager had instructed them to do: Repaint the house (inside and out), replace all light fixtures, repave the driveway, relandscape the exterior, replace the garage door, buy “art” and rent furniture. We were in the midst of a rapidly depreciating market and the stager had made recommendations that would have cost thousands of dollars and would have taken precious weeks of market time to complete. And this for an already cute as button house with a gorgeous remodeled kitchen on a large beautifully landscaped lot. The house was already highly saleable, in a desirable location and the sellers were reasonable on price.

Kinda like purrrrple…this was staaaaging.

I suppose if money were no object and there was nothing but time and a seller could rest assured that they’d get back every dime spent, sellers would staaaage. They would just go ahead and remodel kitchens and baths, they’d tear up carpet and lay hardwood floors in their place, they’d paint the whole house in the latest shades of cream and beige, they’d remove all their knick knacks and art and drop a small fortune at Pier 1 to replace it all, they’d call contractors and landscapers. But let’s get real.

Why go with purrrrple when purple will do?

Purple staging is demphasizing seller decor and highlighting the home’s space and features. Purple staging is rearranging furniture for better flow,  it’s pulling pieces from some rooms to areas or rooms that need to be given a purpose, it’s tidying up closets and packing away personal items. Sometimes it includes jazzing up the bedding in the master bedroom, maybe replacing a light fixture or two or purchasing a statement piece of art or accessory that can be used or enjoyed in the sellers next home. But most of all, purple staging is realistic. Purple staging shouldn’t take more than a couple of hundred dollars or a week to complete. And though it’s not staaaaging, purple staging can still make a world of difference in the presentation of a home.

With spring market underway, time is precious…purple staging will do!

So yeah…I’m a believer. A purple staging believer.

 

I welcome your thoughts.

Home Staging…I’m a Believer by Amy Curtis

I’ve had a conversion of sorts. Nothing road to Damascus like, nothing quite that dramatic or life changing, but a conversion nonetheless. A conversion that does have an impact on the work that I do in helping clients sell their homes.

It’s home staging. I’m a recent home staging convert. A new believer.

Home staging has been around for years. Statistics show that staged homes sell quicker and for more money than homes that are not staged. A quick google search provides an avalanche of statistics, information and evidence of the benefits of home staging, and yet, I remained unconvinced. I remained uncompelled to embrace home staging and incorporate it into my services to sellers.

Why? How could this be?

I’d always thought there was something a little disingenuous about “staging” a home. The connotation of the word…stage…as in “stage” a play, or “stage” a crime. Stage is a performance, it’s not real life, it’s not the real thing. Something about the sound of it always made me think of it as an attempt to pull the wool over a buyer’s eyes, and the idea of that just never sat well with me.

And too, “staging” sounds like a big production, a big expensive production and who wants to get involved in that? When someone has decided to sell their home, they’re kind of done with their house. If there’s time and money to be spent, most sellers would rather spend it on the next house, the new house, not the house they’re trying to get rid of. So, staging as a production just never made sense to me either.

But I’ve changed my mind, I’m a believer.

It’s happened gradually and over time. It’s happened because of the homes I’ve seen and sold. It’s happened because of the homes I’ve seen that never seem to sell. It’s happened because I’ve found a really good home stager. It’s happened because I’ve seen up close and in person the difference staging can make.

In practice, staging needn’t be a big production. In practice, there is no pulling the wool over the buyers eyes. Home staging is simply the last important step in preparing a home for the market, because staging is the process through which a house is separated from its seller and introduced to its new owner. The “staged” home is a home in the midst of its “conversion.”  A staged home allows the buyer to become a “believer” that they’ve found their just right for them home.

Home staging…I’m a believer…Are you?  I welcome your thoughts.

The Spring Market Has A Soundtrack by Amy Curtis

Remember Ally McBeal? She was the main character in the tv show of the same name popular in the late 90’s.  She was the quirky Boston attorney who always had music (mostly Barry White) “playing” in her head.

Well…I’m feeling like Ally McBeal these days…I too have music “playing” in my head.

This spring market is barely underway and  business in my neck of the woods is surprisingly busy already…buyers buying, sellers listing. Every day it seems I’m having the same conversation with buyers and sellers. Buyers asking for suggestions on what kind of offer to make on a property they’ve seen, sellers wanting to know the right pricing strategy for their home. This spring market has brought about a “new” conversation, about the “new” market we’re finding ourselves in this spring 2013.

If you’re a buyer looking for a “steal”, it’s looking like that window of opportunity is quickly closing. Inventory is shrinking, prices are stabilizing, the pool of buyers who want to purchase has grown.   So, when you find the home of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer, low ball probably won’t do. You have to be realistic.

You…Got To Be Real.

If you’re looking to sell your home this spring, you can take comfort in the market’s improvement. It’s true, the market is improving. Inventory is shrinking, in some areas and price ranges there’s even an upward push on prices. But you can’t let all this rosy real estate news go to your head and fool you into thinking it’s 2006 again. Recent comparable sales matter. Your competition and the current supply of inventory matters and the anticipated appraised value of your home matters big time. So, you have to be realistic.

You too…Got To Be Real.

Which brings me back to Ally McBeal. Ally had Barry White songs playing in her head.  Well for me, it’s not Barry…. I have Cheryl Lynn in my head.  In this already underway spring market, during my days of conversations with buyers and sellers I hear her belting out one of my all time favorites…and it’s the soundtrack for the Spring 2013 market…

 

The 2013 Spring Market has a soundtrack and it’s my advice to you…

Got To Be Real!

Getting Ready for the Market

So, you want to move.

Recent news seems to say that this is the time. There are real buyers out there, and this year can be the year to make it happen. Nothing stands in your way.  Nothing that is, except the daunting task of getting your house ready to put on the market.

Getting your home ready can seem like “eating an elephant.”  Every room needs work, every closet needs purging, stuff for a garage sale, stuff for Goodwill, things to pack, things to give away, painting and caulking, cleaning and decluttering…yep…it’s like eating an elephant!

But as the saying goes, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” (Creighton Abrams)

It’s a big job, but let me suggest…take that first bite…start with your refrigerator…

 

 

 

Keep biting…you’ll get there!

The spring market awaits!!