Raise the Bar! Expect More from Your Realtor.

Have you ever wondered if your realtor didn’t do everything the could have done for you?  What sets apart a decent agent from a really great agent?  Sumer and Beth discuss some of the factors that you should look for and expect from a great real estate agent.

 

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The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

It’s cold.  It’s windy.  It’s wet.  We all know that winter weather can slow the real estate market down a little bit and that can feel very scary if you need to sell your house.  But never fear!  There are some great benefits to selling your home during the winter months.  In this video, Sumer and Beth discuss five reasons why you need not fear putting your house on the market during the winter.

If you are a reader, here’s a recap of the five reasons why you can list your home with confidence in the winter months.

  1. Home ownership comes with tax deductions.
    Buyers who close by December 31, can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, points on their loan and interest costs. These deductions are significant, and you can count on there being some motivated buyers out there looking to take advantage of the tax benefits before year’s end.
  2. Only serious buyers house hunt in winter
    During the spring and summer months you might waste a lot of time showing your house to people who are really only out to window shop.  Cold weather tends to keep all those “looky loo’s” home, so that you only spend your time and effort on serious buyers.
  3. Relocation is Year-Round
    Because we live in an area with several large corporations like Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson, as well as all the international vendors that service these companies, NW Arkansas has a constant flow of corporate relocations.  They don’t stop for cold weather, so neither should you!  Again, we are talking about motivated buyers who may only have one or two days to shop for a house, and most will make an offer on one of the houses they saw while on their relocation trip.
  4. More control over timing of your move
    Winter tends to give you a bit more flexibility and time to make your move when you are ready.  The high pressure of the summer and fall influx is off and buyers are usually more than happy to make room for the holidays.
  5. More focused attention from your real estate team
    Because sales do slow down a bit in the winter, you can expect a more relaxed and focused real estate team.  Real estate agents, lenders, title companies, inspectors will be on point, responsive, and ready and anxious to help sell your home.

So never fear!  We’ve got your back!  Give us a call and we will get that house sold for you, no matter the weather!

Top Two Mistakes Homebuyers Make

Sumer and Beth are back discussing this time the top two mistakes that homebuyers frequently make when shopping for a home.  You can watch the video or read the post below to find out what you can do to make your homebuying experience the best experience possible.

Mistake #1 – Shopping Prematurely

The first mistake many (if not most) buyers make has to do with timing.  When you make the decision to buy a new home, whether for the first time or whether you are going to sell your current home to upgrade to a new home, it’s easy to get over-eager and start doing serious shopping before you have a contract on your current home or before you have even applied for a new loan.  Doing this can waste your time, your agent’s time, and the time of your sellers and often ends in frustration or disappointment.  Giving yourself the time to sell your home first or to secure financing will give you the confidence and security to know that when you do find your dream home, you will be ready to make an offer that will be accepted without contingencies and without drama or frustration.

Mistake #2 – Settling for the First Agent you Meet

The second mistake homebuyers frequently make is settling for the first agent who shows them a house.  Do your homework!  Shop around.  As your friends for referrals and find an agent who has a track record and experience to help you have the smoothest transaction possible.  This is a big decision, and you should put every bit as much care into shopping for a realtor as you would shopping for a lawyer or a doctor or a car.  Ask questions and don’t be afraid to move on if you aren’t feeling comfortable and confident with your realtor.

As always, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.  Put yourself  in the best position possible before shopping for homes.  Your reward will be a smooth and pleasant experience.

The Top Two Mistakes Sellers Make When Listing Their Home

When Sumer and I get together to talk real estate, you can always count on some seriously good advice and some not-so-serious antics.  What we hope you will walk away with is a better understanding of what we as realtors see and work with on a daily basis.

Our first episode of Get Real NWA is meant just for you sellers.  Gone are the days of old “Three P’s of Real Estate. ”  Put it on the MLS, Put a sign in the ground, and Pray that it sells.  Today’s three P’s will make a real difference in whether your home sells quickly or languishes on the market.  In a world where 92% of buyers find their home online, sellers have to find a real estate agent who understands how to help them Prepare, Price, and Promote their home.

The two biggest mistakes sellers make when listing their home have to do with Preparing and Pricing their home to sell.  Watch this short video to find out how these crucial steps can make or break your listing.

Home Sales Trending Up in Benton County, But Be Ready for the Winter Slowdown

The numbers for September are in!  According to the Northwest Arkansas Board of Realtors, September real estate sales were booming in Benton County.  476 homes were sold, with an average sales price of $202,540, spending an average of 115 days on the market.  That’s an increase over the same month last year.  In September 2014 there were 375 homes sold in Benton County, spending an average of 124 days on the market, with an average sales price of $203,645.  While sales are declining this year in many parts of the country, the housing market is growing in NW Arkansas.

So what can we expect over the next few months?  As always, home sales may take a slight upturn in October now that school is well underway and the weather is at it’s most beautiful in NW Arkansas.  But as November and December bear down with colder weather, we will see a downturn in home sales as well as a slight dip in the average price of homes.  January and February are usually the slowest months in home sales.  If your home closes in those frigid winter months, you are likely to find that your home spent up to a month longer on the market and sold for a bit less than if you sold in the summer months.  Check out the following charts to see how home sales have trended over the last year in Benton County.

Home Sales in Benton County 2014-2015

Average Days on Market in Benton County

Average Home Sales Price in Benton County 2014-2015

If you are thinking of selling your home, think about moving fast before the cold sets in.  But if you can wait until spring, you might be able to pull a bit more cash out of your investment.  If you are buying a home, look forward to lower prices and more time to make your move.  As activity slows, you will have less competition and might be able to avoid some of those nail-biter bidding wars.

Selling your Home? Watch this short video to find out how I can help!

If you are thinking about selling a home in NW Arkansas, you need to find a realtor who has a comprehensive marketing plan for your home. My services go the extra mile to provide you with support and the highest quality. This short video outlines my services, including my free Comparative Market Analysis and free Home Staging consultation.

Relocating to NW Arkansas? Read this before you buy!

If you are moving to NW Arkansas, chances are you fall into one of three areas (forgive me if you don’t, but I’m going to make some broad generalizations here).

A. You have been hired by Walmart, JB Hunt, Tyson, or one of the bazillion suppliers who support those businesses,

B. You are an entrepreneur coming to take advantage of the booming economy in NW Arkansas, or

C. You are a retiree moving to be closer to your grandkids or to the beautiful lakes, golf courses, art museums, and more that make the quality of life here so wonderful.

Am I right?  Well, regardless of your category, finding a house from a distance can be a stressful task, especially in a fast-moving market like NW Arkansas.  In areas like Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, or the surrounding communities, it is common for homes to sell in less than a week, especially if the home has been well-cared for and is priced right.  Your Zillow or Trulia searches can be extremely frustrating when one after another, you find out that your dream home is already under contract.

So what can you do to get ahead in the game?

Find a good agent.

(Insert shameless plug: Hire me!)  A good real estate agent will know the area and will be able to help you identify neighborhoods that fit your unique needs.  Talk with your agent about your lifestyle and priorities.  Do you want to be able to walk or bike to work, entertainment, and shopping?  Do you want a little elbow room without looking out your back window into your neighbor’s yard?  Do you want a short commute or are you willing to drive a little to get more house for your money?  Your agent will talk you through all the considerations that will impact your pocketbook, your comfort, and your quality of life.

Get pre-approved.

 

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.  Don’t start searching for houses until you know how much you can ACTUALLY get a loan for.  There is nothing more disappointing than finding the house of your dreams only to find out your calculations were a little off and you really can’t get a loan for that much.  And by the way, ask your lender to send you the pre-approval letter in digital format so that when you do find that dream house, you can make an offer before someone else steals it out from under your nose!

NOW you can have your realtor set up an autosearch.

This is the easiest and most efficient way to search for houses.  In addition to setting up an autosearch with all of my client’s criteria (including neighborhood, price, amenities, etc.), I also like to set up an individual website for each of my clients.  Your website is a hub for you to review listings that meet your search criteria the minute they hit the market and where you can keep track of houses you like or dislike.  I can immediately see your preferences so I can help you move fast when you are ready to move forward with an offer.

Be ready to move quickly and be willing to use technology.

If you are flying into NW Arkansas for a house hunting trip, you may have a date 30 days out.  But imagine a house hits the market today that you absolutely love and that is priced just right.  Are you going to simply wait and hope that it will still be on the market when you fly out next month?  I can tell you right now, that strategy is likely to lead to disappointment.  But what can you do?

My advice: be willing to rely on technology.  Today’s tech-savvy agent can tour the house for you and video tape it from every angle.  She can tell you what she saw, what she smelled, and what the neighborhood was like.  She can also tell you what to expect in the way of traffic patterns, neighborhood amenities, schools, and more.  You also definitely want a real estate agent who makes use of e-signing technologies like DocuSign so you can sign offer and acceptance letters without spending a fortune on over-nighting documents.

Relocating to NW Arkansas doesn’t have to be stressful.  The right agent can make your home-buying and relocation experience smooth and pleasant.  NW Arkansas is a beautiful place to live, work, and play.  I always boast about how lucky I am to live here.  From the nature trails to the night life, there is something for everyone.  I think you’ll be glad you came!

10 Tips to Self-Staging Your Home for a Quick Sell

I have a friend who lives in a neighborhood that really can’t be beat.  The location is superb.  The yards in the neighborhood all are nicely kept, the neighbors are friendly, and the homes are spacious.  But there is one house that has been sitting on the market for months!  Despite great curb appeal, this home seems a market anomaly.  What could be the problem?

One word: Staging.  This home, while beautiful on the outside has been decorated in a style that could only be described as gaudy with a heavy touch of gold.  Not to mention the fact that, like many homes that sit on the market too long (and lose market value as a result), buyers come in and are so overwhelmed with the style and smell of the current owners that they really can’t see themselves in the home.

The real estate market in NW Arkansas is hot right now. But even in a hot market your home can sit for weeks and even months if you don’t put some upfront effort into making your home visually and emotionally appealing to potential buyers.  Here are 10 ways you can grab buyers from the get-go.

1. Curb appeal counts

Admit it.  You’ve passed up houses in your own home searches because the lawn was full of weeds and the shrubs were dead.  Your initial impression was that if the home wasn’t cared for on the outside, the inside is likely to be just as bad–or worse.  So take a look at your home exterior with a fresh, critical eye.  Get rid of the dead shrubs.  Mow the lawn.  Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door and get a few nice potted flowers to brighten up your front porch.

2. Declutter

Think sparse.  Really sparse.  Pack up or get rid of everything that isn’t essential to your daily life.  This may require that you rent a storage unit, or make some tough decisions about your collection of antique bottles.  Get rid of the pile of magazines and the bazillion pairs of shoes that the kids leave in the entryway.  And don’t just hide it.  Buyers look in every closet.  Get it in boxes and get it out of the house. The end result is that the space becomes the showpiece–not your stuff.  Not to mention the added benefit that when your house sells, moving will be a heck of a lot easier.

3. Don’t just clean. Make it sparkle.

This is one of those times where a quick once-over with the vacuum cleaner just won’t do.  I’m talking “hotel clean” in every corner of your house.  No detail is too small.  Wipe down every cabinet, every baseboard.  Mop and shine the floor.  Clean the windows and sills.  Scrub every tub and sink until it shines!  And pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom.  These are two areas where people are especially sensitive to dirt and odors.  This may take a few days of concentrated cleaning, but your efforts will be worth it!

4. Think neutral and light

Pink may have been the perfect color for your little girl’s bedroom, but again, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.  Maybe this bedroom will be a guest room or an office.  Repainting with neutral colors will broaden your home’s appeal and even makes rooms appear larger!  Also, open up blinds and draperies to make sure there’s sufficient natural light throughout the home. Remember, mood is affected by lighting and you want your potential buyers to feel light and happy when they walk through your home.

5. Take the “you” out of your home.

Ok, I know this is a hard one.  You decorated your home with family pictures, trophies, religious symbols, collectibles, and vinyl lettering quotes because they were meaningful and important to you.  It’s a difficult thing to disconnect yourself from the house you have made your home.  But trust me on this one.  You want to enable potential buyers to imagine themselves in this home, so don’t muck up their vision with your own.

5. Consider replacing or rearranging furnishings.

First of all, most of us end up with more furniture in a room than the space really needs.  Get the extra pieces out.  Next, think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings or invest in a few slipcovers and accent pillows to freshen up your look. And don’t worry about matching sets.  Nowadays, mismatched and eclectic pairings can actually look fresh and modern.  If you don’t think you have a good eye for style, consider consulting with a professional staging company for help with design and advice on rental furnishings.

6. Invest in new artwork.

You’d be surprised at some of the great, inexpensive artwork you can pick up at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or Tuesday Morning.  A few larger wall pieces, can be used to update a room and add a splash of color as well.

7. Make ALL the repairs.

It’s time to finish the honey-do list.  Repair every dent or ding in the walls.  Apply a little WD-40 to squeaky or tough-to-open door hinges.  And those cabinet doors in the kitchen that are sagging because the screws are coming out of the woodwork?  Get longer screws and tighten them up.  Get it done now, before the buyer writes it into the contract and negotiates the price down because they will have to do it themselves.

9. Don’t forget the floors and fixtures.

Look down.  Now look up.  Flooring and fixtures can make or break a home.  Replace worn carpets, and consider refinishing damaged hardwood floors. And don’t forget, an inexpensive new area rug is a quick fix and can disguise the look of old floors.

You can also renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches and outlets. If it’s older than you, get it out of there.  You can find inexpesive, modern fixtures at any home improvement store and they are easy to swap out yourself.

10. The Final Touch

The final touch of staging is adding the little details that send emotional messages to your buyers.  A bright tablecloth or place setting says, “This is the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of coffee or a family dinner!”  A vase of fresh-cut flowers can perk up a room.  And of course, the smell of fresh-baked cookies… Who can resist that?

You could spend a lot of money or a little, but the dividends in spending the extra time to spruce up and modernize your home could literally result in thousands of dollars added to the price of the home.  And it could make the difference between days or weeks, or literally months on the market.

Hello NWA!

Hey everybody! I’m very excited to introduce to you the Get Real NWA blog. Here you can find the real scoop on real estate in NW Arkansas.   I confess that for a long time I was one of those people who just signed on the dotted line and didn’t ask a lot of questions when buying or selling a home. Really. But when I became a real estate agent, I realized that the things I was learning in school were things that everybody should know!

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So I think it’s time to demystify things a little bit.  I’ll break it down and make it easy, because the worst thing you could do is buy or sell a home without understanding the “fine print.”   I want you to feel empowered and “in the know”  so that you can buy, sell, and  take care of all the details in between with confidence.

I also want to introduce you to some pretty awesome people in our community who are the best in their fields and who can help you as you prepare to buy or sell your home.  Everyone from inspectors to appraisers, from lenders to plumbers. You will need these guys on your side when you are ready to make the leap.

So stay tuned!