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How NOT to Do an Open House

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Open House

If you’ve been following Printerbees for a while, you know that we love live video and video tours as an alternative to open houses. The technology is amazing, and you’re much safer than when strangers are in the home with you.

However, there are still markets where open houses are the preferred method. Perhaps your buyers are not of the age where they are familiar or comfortable with technology. Or perhaps the market is so strong in your area that an open house is a great way to get multiple bids.

Regardless, there are still plenty of reasons to do a regular open house. However, you want to ensure you do them the right way. So AVOID making these crazy mistakes – some of which I’ve seen this week!

Don’t Have Pets in the Home

Somehow sellers realize they have to leave the home during the open house, but think they can leave their pets behind.

Nope.

There are folks with allergies, there are folks who hate snakes (or lizards or rabbits or…), and it’s just an all-around bad look.

No pets.

Don’t Schedule Professional Work During the Open House

I actually saw this happen. An open house was going on in my area, and then the lawn service showed up, parked RIGHT IN FRONT of the Open House sign, and proceeded to mow during the event.

I cannot figure out who thought that was a good idea. Make sure that your sellers know what professional services are supposed to happen during the open house, and cancel them in advance.

You do NOT want that level of unprofessionalism when you are trying to sell a home!

Don’t Overdo the Scents

It’s important to have a home smelling fresh and pleasant during an open house. Unfortunately, some sellers and agents go overboard.

Some buyers may be allergic to fragrances, and overusing an air freshener can make buyers wonder what you’re trying to cover up.

And don’t get me started on the dozens of candles thing… not only does it look a bit odd sometimes, there’s a definite fire hazard involved.

Don’t Stage Halfway

Staging is a vital part of helping buyers see themselves in the home. If the seller agrees to staging, make sure they agree to doing the whole home.

It’s really jarring to see a beautiful front room but the rest of the house is vacant. An empty home is hard to imagine yourself in.

And while I know you want to help your sellers, don’t bring secondhand furniture in and try to stage unless you truly know what you’re doing. Let a professional stager handle that part.

Don’t Skip Cleaning – Everywhere!

As a real estate agent, you must impress upon your sellers how important it is to clean everywhere if they want to sell the home.

People will look in the sinks, in closets, and in the garage. They won’t care that part of your basement is storage. They’ll even open the junk drawer.

If things are dirty, disorganized, and unattractive, buyers will assume that the home is not cared for. If you don’t clean your closets, can you really be trusted to keep the furnace in good condition and take care of water before it causes damage?

The buyer will think not. And they’ll look elsewhere.

What Have You Seen?

So what have you seen that’s a huge open-house no-no? We’d love to hear. And if you’re getting ready for an open house this fall, be sure you have your flyers and brochures in order. We can help – just give us a call at 877-939-2337 today!

New Ways to Approach Real Estate Marketing in 2017

New Ways to Approach Real Estate Marketing in 2017

The new year is rapidly approaching, and new marketing techniques can help you stay competitive. Of course, the old standbys of farming, using just sold and just listed postcards, and following up with expired listings will always be important.

But technology has given Realtors® unique approaches as well, and it’s important to know about them so that you can experiment and stay ahead of the curve.

Virtual Staging

You can save thousands of dollars by using virtual staging instead of having a stager set a home for you. Virtual staging is a growing trend as more and more buyers rely on online pictures and online videos to review homes.

With virtual staging, you can show what a home would look like with furniture, artwork, rugs, plants and more. Because buyers often narrow down their home choices online before deciding to view a home in person, your virtual staging can be a vital part of showing your listing in the best light.

If you’re concerned about buyers being disappointed to find that the home isn’t actually staged, you can put a high-quality printed image of the virtual staging in each room. This can help buyers remember what it looked like furnished, while also being able to imagine where they might put their own belongings in the empty home.

Use Drones to Create Videos and Photos

Drones are the newest disruptor in real estate marketing. With a drone to take high-quality photographs and create video of a property, you can have eye-catching listing photos that will help you stand out from the pack.

A flying camera can allow you to get aerial photos of a property, showcasing a swimming pool, incredible deck, and beautiful porch – all at once! You can also use it to show off the dramatic views available around the home.

A drone can also allow you to create videos in a seamless fly-around style, giving the ability to showcase the interior and exterior of a home in a way that has never been available before. The FAA has exemptions available for commercial drone operation, including use for real estate marketing.

Not only will this help you sell homes for top dollar, having drone marketing as part of your strategy will help you win listings because it will show that you are a tech-savvy Realtor® who takes advantage of every marketing opportunity.

Encourage Sellers to Install Home Automation

Having a “smart home”, or certain elements of the home’s operation automated and accessible via mobile devices can add to a home’s value. It can also help a home sell more quickly and draw a lot of additional interest in the listing.

Adding a good-quality home automation system can add 3% – 7% to a home’s value. The best systems focus on lighting control, security, and temperature control. Buyers can save money on utilities and gain peace of mind about their home while they are traveling or out of the house.

Installing home automation doesn’t have to be expensive, but keep in mind that the lowest-level automation systems won’t have the same effect on the home’s perceived value as better systems. Encourage homeowners to choose a reputable, full-featured service. They’ll gain back far more than the purchase price.

Technology has changed real estate marketing dramatically in the last five years. It will continue to impact how real estate agents market homes and assist buyers. While print marketing and other traditional techniques will always be relevant, you can improve the results by integrating other marketing methods like the three I mentioned here.

Are you ready to set up your 2017 print marketing? If you order in 2016, you’ll be able to write off the investment on your taxes next year. We have some great deals going on – contact us to find out more!

Advise Your Clients: 8 Ways to Increase Home Value on a Budget

8 Ways to Improve Home Value

Part of the value you provide as a Realtor® is helping your clients find a few cheap fixes that boost their home’s asking price. With staging, these minor fixes can dramatically increase the perceived value of the home. The bottom line is you want people to see themselves in this home, without seeing any flaws.

The following steps are likely things you already know. But feel free to use them in a blog or newsletter of your own to attract new leads or nurture your existing network.

Increase Home Value With: Paint

Of course, paint is the ultimate cheap(ish) concealer and revitalizer. So feel free to paint any rooms that need a fresh coat. However, you may not have to paint every room. Those Magic Eraser sponges are a miracle product.

Also, don’t discount the effect of a fresh coat of paint on the front door or garage.

“If the first thing a visitor sees is your big wide garage, try to guide their eyes into a beautiful front yard, or paint your front door red to guide the eye there. These things add value,” suggests HGTV.

Increase Home Value With: Caulking

People look at the bathtub and want to envision a clean place of serenity. Brown or leaky looking caulk is a real buzzkill and is instantly off-putting. If you don’t know how to do this, odds are good you know someone who does. Or try a Youtube how-to video.

Increase Home Value With: New Faucets

While you’re in the bathroom, you can give the impression of a total renovation and upgrade, at a fraction of the price. Just upgrade the faucets to something high-end. Ditto the showerhead. A small bathroom suddenly becomes cozy when it’s full of nice things.

Increase Home Value With: New Handles

Now apply this mentality to the kitchen. You can make your kitchen look like it was recently renovated by simply updating to new handles and fixtures on your cupboards and drawers.

Your shoestring budget kitchen reno isn’t done there…

Increase Home Value With: New Panels for Your Appliances

Simply swap out the front panels on your appliances for newer looking ones. And, obviously make sure they match and go with the overall decor.

Increase Home Value With: Deep Clean or Replace Your Carpet

Bad, dirty or dated carpeting sucks the life out of a room. No matter how amazing the rest of your furniture or wall decorations look, the carpet will hold the room together or rip it apart.

Again, you may not need to replace it. A far less expensive deep cleaner may be just what you need to make it look new again.

Increase Home Value With: A Home Warranty

Here’s one most buyers don’t know about, and it won’t cost them a weekend.

Service Contract Industry Council found that, “homes covered by protection plans spend almost 11 fewer days on the market on average, and sell for more than $2,300 higher on average than homes sold without a home warranty.

“The ability to transfer a home warranty to new owners helps create added incentives for buyers.”

Increase Home Value With: A Bit of Yard Work

Spend a weekend giving your yard some TLC. It will go a long way in boosting your curb appeal, and the potential people see in your backyard.

Consumer Reports advises that, “You wouldn’t go to a job interview without brushing your hair and putting on a crisp, clean outfit. Nor should you try to sell your home without sprucing up its exterior.”

“Start with basic maintenance: mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, applying a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds.”

Remind your customers that all of these can be done for fraction of the cost of a major reno. Paint is cheap, and so are new panels fixtures and handles. Use your newsletter, or your blog to show your clients and your leads how much potential is hidden in their home.

If you’re looking for new print materials to show off your clients’ properties, that too can be upgraded without a huge expense. You can easily create your own design online, and make sure your brand resonates.

How to Make Your Real Estate Listings Stand Out

Real Estate Listings Stand Out

There’s nothing more important that making you real estate listings stand out, especially in a market flooded with competition.

But…how can you do this?

Is there a special formula or strategy to follow that will guarantee results?

Yes and no – while it’s difficult to choose one strategy that’s guaranteed to work for everyone, there are a LOT of little things you can do to really make your real estate listings “pop” and stand out from the crowd.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our favorites – give some of these ideas a try today!

Showcase the Home with a Virtual Tour

What better way to show off your client’s new listing than by bringing prospective buyers to the actual home? And while it may not be realistic to assume that everyone who views a listing will actually step foot on the property, you can bring them there virtually! Try creating a video of your new listing in order to give potential buyers a virtual tour of the outside and inside of the home.

Load You Real Estate Listings with Awesome Photos

We’ve talked about the importance of photography and tips on how to get the perfect shots before, but it’s important enough to bring up again. Never underestimate the power of a well taken, beautifully edited photograph – for both the outside and inside of your new listing. And as a bonus, you can use those photos for printed materials like fliers and just listed postcards as well!

Stage the Property Well and Don’t Forget to Declutter

Another important element that may seem rather obvious but, if done incorrectly, can wreck a new listing is staging the property well. When staging, think about painting a picture of what life could be like for potential buyers – you want them to be able to imagine themselves in the home and know for sure if it will be a good fit for their needs. One tip – get rid of all the clutter or personal items leftover from the previous owners. Attempt to create as blank of a slate (without doing away with the essentials like furniture) as possible.

Use Strong Persuasive Copy for Your MLS Listing Descriptions

We just mentioned the importance of quality images, but it’s equally important to never underestimate the power of the words used to describe your real estate listings. These might just be the words that ultimately cause a potential buyer to take the plunge and make an offer on your listing, so it’s definitely worth taking some time to create a solid description of the property. Some things to consider and include:

  • Details on the neighborhood, location, surrounding areas and the school district the property belongs to.
  • Any special details associated with the kitchen or bathroom, especially recent upgrades – for example, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen or a soaker tub in the bathroom.
  • If there have been any recent upgrades to the home – including things like roofing, electrical, HVAC, etc. – be sure to include those items as well.
  • Any neat outdoor features, such as a pool, patio, hot tub or even a large amount of acreage, should be included as well.

Take Advantage of Different Print Marketing Materials

There are so many different ways to advertise and spread the word about your new listing, but distributing print marketing materials should always be near the top of your list. Signs for the front of the property will help draw in passing traffic while new listing flyers and postcards can help to spread the word about the listing even further. Try sending out flyers to homes in the surrounding areas or even posting them on local community bulletin boards. (Printerbees offers a variety of customizable real estate marketing materials if you’d like some inspiration!)

Do Something Digital and Blast New Listings Out Via Email

Digital marketing should never be ignored, and one easy way to make sure your new listing is seen by as many potential buyers as possible is to blast it out to everyone on your email list. While many of these people might be past clients, you never know when someone might be looking to buy a new property, and the one you have listed might just be the perfect fit for them.

There are a lot of different ways to go about marketing your new real estate listing, and there’s no single best way to do it. But, if you give some of these ideas a try, you’ll be well on your way to a successful closing!

4 Can’t-Miss Elements of Prepping a House for Sale

House for SaleAs a Realtor®, you know that selling a house can be quite a large endeavor – especially if the house isn’t ready to sell. Because winter is slow, but spring is just around the corner, your prospects, friends and family might already be asking you that promising question – “What are the best things that I can do to get my house ready to sell in the spring?”

Next time you’re faced with that question, don’t forget to mention these 4 can’t-miss elements of prepping a house for sale. Then ask for the listing – your clients will thank you once their house sells quickly!

  1. Staging

Recently, a study was conducted featuring two identical homes – one staged, the other not. The home that was staged sold in 45 days, while it took 102 days for the non-staged home to sell. Case in point, staging is incredibly important. It makes sense – homes that have been staged well tend to sell more quickly because potential buyers can really visualize what the house would look like once they’ve moved in.

If your client is serious about selling their home, they might want to consider having it professionally staged. It’s well worth the investment if the home really does sell quickly.

  1. Paint the Interior Walls

Painting is such a simple (and inexpensive) detail that can really add a lot of character to any room. Plus, it’s a great way for your client to increase the value of their home. According to a study done by HomeGain.com, painting interior walls will result in a 250% return on investment, ranking just behind cleaning and de-cluttering, lightening and brightening, and landscaping the front and back yard for the top home updates with the highest return on investment.

However, make sure your client is thinking long term with their painting choices. While bright colored walls might suit their style, it probably won’t be the case for future homebuyers. Recommend that they stick with more neutral colors like tan, beige, and gray for a more even, clean and fresh look.

  1. Remove Clutter and Organize

If 100 people come to look at your client’s home when it’s up for sale, only 10 of those people will be able to visualize the true potential of the home, meaning that the other 90 will not be able to see past the disorganization and clutter. If your client has a lot of stuff lying around their house, de-cluttering and/or reorganizing might just do wonders for the resale value of their home.

Recommend that your client keeps only what is necessary and functional in the home. Tell them to remove all knickknacks and personal effects such as photos and collectibles. These things might be comforting and homey to them, but to a potential buyer, these sort of things just make it harder for them to visualize what the house might look like with their own things inside.

  1. Take Professional Photos

Finally, make sure your client invests in some high-quality professional photos of their home. Nowadays everyone thinks that they can be a professional photographer with their iPhones and special photo editing apps – and while these things are great, they in no way make up for having quality, professional photos taken of your client’s home. They’re well worth the investment, especially if they help the home sell quickly.

Plus, professional photos can be quite versatile. Not only will these photos come in handy when you go to list your client’s home online, but they’ll also help you create amazing just-listed flyers and postcards to help spread the word about the new listing.

So, if your clients are asking you what they can do to help get their homes ready for a spring sale, recommend investing in staging, painting interior walls, de-cluttering and reorganizing, and taking professional photos. With those 4 elements in place, your clients’ homes should sell in no time!

Six Ways to SCARE Away Home Buyers!

Scare off Buyers

As we approach Halloween, I thought I’d put together a list of how listings can scare away potential home buyers. While many Realtors® already know this information, this list can be very helpful to homeowners. Feel free to take these elements and remind your buyers not to scare away their prospects!!

Poor Pricing

As a Realtor®, you know that poor pricing is the first thing that will spook a buyer. If the listing is too expensive, they’ll obviously choose a better-priced option down the road. An overpriced listing means no sale until the price is brought back into reality.

However, underpricing is also scary – it sends the giant red flag that “something is wrong with this house!” Remind even very motivated sellers that not only does underpricing leave money on the table, it will scare away serious-minded buyers.

Clutter and Dirt

Everyone knows to wash a car before they sell it, but somehow forget that this translates into homes as well. If there is a lot of clutter or dirt in a listing, buyers will get freaked out – it basically sends a message that a home has been poorly maintained. No one wants those kinds of unexpected surprises!

A deep cleaning can seem overwhelming to some homeowners, so make sure you have a cleaning service on your vendor list. You may even be able to work out a deal with them where your listings get a percentage off of the full service.

Bad Photography or Video

Showcasing a home at its best is essential to getting top dollar.  If you have dim photos or murky video, you’re obviously not showing the best parts of a home – you’re just scaring people off!

Hiring a professional photographer can be expensive, and some homeowners are sure they can do it themselves. I recommend having a “scare file” of poor home photos, side by side with much better photos, and ask them which they would buy.

Poor Staging

Overly personal décor and poor staging are setting buyers up for a frightful experience. Many times sellers will say, “But I love this color!” I’m sure you do, but you’re selling – and your buyers don’t! Remind them that they can decorate their new home however they like.

In addition, old ratty furniture and oversized pieces can really dampen a buyer’s mood. Some home buyers don’t want to pay for staging and storage, but this is another opportunity to remind them that they will get top dollar if they spend a little up front.

Odors

I’m always amused by those Febreeze “nose-blind” commercials, because so many sellers are exactly like this! I’m glad they’re used to living with two dogs and three cats, but the smell is significant. Odors scare away buyers because they’re an indication of poor upkeep.\

Depending on the odor, it can be expensive to get rid of it, but it’s worth every dollar to a motivated seller. If a seller is completely unwilling to handle odor issues in the home, they may not be that motivated to sell. Certainly, the home will sit on the market a long time, if it sells at all.

Poor Landscaping

In another case of “If they let this go, what else is falling apart?” let me present landscaping. Homeowners are very focused on the inside of the home when it comes to selling, but outdoors is just as important. A ratty yard, dirty pool, or poor landscaping shows that the owners don’t care as much as they should.

No buyer wants to be surprised by something hiding behind the walls or under the roof of a home they just purchased, and poor landscaping is a major red flag that there could be something scary lurking inside.

It’s easy for buyers to get spooked – sometimes they all seem to be looking for a reason not to buy, instead of enjoying the home. When your sellers have addressed these six issues, though, your listing will be well on the way to selling quickly and at top dollar.

What issues have you seen scare a buyer away? Share in the comments!