Blog - Frank Yu - Homes & Condos for Sale | Vancouver & Richmond Homes › November 2014

10 Things to Do Before You Sell


Before you put your house on the market, ask me for guidance on improving your home's presentation. I can tell you what buyers expect in your particular market and at your home's price point. The following 10 steps are a way to get a good head start on preparing to sell your home.

1. Welcome buyers. Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers. Paint the door, clear debris and clutter from the walkway and yard, mow the lawn and prune hedges. Pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to attract attention from the street. Fix broken screens, doorbells, roof tiles, shingles and outdoor lighting, and replace your doormat. Exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers.

2. Make it sparkle. Cleanliness implies a home has been well taken care of, so deep cleaning can win points with buyers. Buyers scrutinize homes, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Recaulk and repaint to give these grime-prone rooms a fresh and clean look. Clean rugs and carpets to eliminate unsightly stains or dinginess and eliminate odors. Tidy each room, including cabinets, closets and the garage, before showing. And if it seems daunting to do all that cleaning yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take care of all of it for you.

3. Start packing. Cramped and cluttered rooms turn buyers off and make your house look smaller. A home packed with your personal belongings also makes it difficult for others to envision living there. Start by storing away excess furniture, toys and personal decorations, such as family photos. Pack up things you don't use on a daily basis, and put them in storage or ask a friend to hold onto them. Decluttering your house also gives you a head start on your move.

4. Paint wisely. A well-done, no-frills paint job is all you need. Put a fresh coat of paint on white or beige walls, and repaint walls that have eccentric or unconventional colors. Nature- and spa-inspired neutral colors, such as taupe and subtle gray, are the best choices. Definitely don't forget the trim and molding either. And a fresh paint job on outdated or worn cabinetry goes a long way, too.

5. Fix the small stuff. Repair or replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. You can install new door handles, faucets, towel bars and curtain rods – fixtures that are readily visible to homebuyers – rather inexpensively. New hardware in the bathroom, kitchen and on windows and doors also improves the functionality and safety of these components.

6. Update lighting. Replace decorative light fixtures that no longer fit your home's cleaner, fresher look. Install new bulbs with the appropriate lighting for specific areas of your home. For example, ambient, low-key lighting fills a room, whereas directional or task lighting works better in areas like a reading nook. Use accent lighting to highlight focal points in a room, such as the artwork above a mantle, to draw buyers' attention to certain selling points.

7. Frame windows. Ensure you have the right window treatments, which enhance natural brightness and boost the appearance of a home. Window treatments also can impact a room's temperature because they reduce or increase the amount of light entering the space. Adjust window treatments appropriately when showing your home in the mornings, afternoon and evenings.

8. Set the table. Fresh, decorative flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. Also, keep place settings handy for your tables so you can quickly set them out right before showings or an open house. Pull out all the formal stops for a dining room, and keep the table casual in the kitchen.

9. Hide unsightly everyday items. Don't leave children's toys and pet belongings out in the open during showings and open houses. Move litter boxes, pet dishes, toys, animal crates and kids' entertainment to less conspicuous areas of the home, such as an outdoor storage unit or garage before each showing or open house. Also think about where you can store things like dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.

10. Don't forget the back. Keep your backyard looking spacious and functional. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after your pets so buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.



Anatomy of a Home Purchase


For most people, finding the right home begins with a house-hunting strategy combining personal preferences, guidance from others (including me) and a mix of neighborhood exploring and online search.

For some, the search takes a while; others find what they want right away. In either case, I can be a huge resource of insight and guidance, working through issues or complications that arise along the way.

Here’s a general outline of what to expect during a home purchase, from the buyer's perspective.

Buyers make a purchase offer. This is it! You've found the home of your dreams, looked over disclosure documents, reviewed comparable sales data, talked it over with your agent and submitted an offer. The sellers may accept your first offer, but more often will return a counteroffer. In fact, additional negotiations are common, and your agent will help you through this generally stressful stage.

The sellers accept. Once everyone is happy with the terms, the parties have reached what is known as mutual acceptance and enter into a purchase and sale agreement.

Buyers put up earnest money. To solidify your intent to buy, you'll place a deposit, or earnest money, on the property. The amount varies, but is generally at least 1 percent of the purchase price. You'll write the check to the escrow company, not the seller. Note: This money counts toward your down payment later.

Escrow opens. The earnest money deposit goes into an escrow account, where all funds will be held until closing, when they are then distributed to the right people (lender, mortgage broker, title insurer, real estate agents, etc.).

Buyers apply for a mortgage. This step is streamlined if you've already been preapproved for a loan (which is a smart thing to do). If not, you'll begin the loan application process now.

The lender inspects title history and orders a property appraisal. The lender needs key information about the property before granting a loan. This is when potential problems can come to light. For example, the appraisal could show a lower value than the purchase price, or the lender could have trouble finding comparable homes. Also, the title search could turn up liens or other problems.

A home inspection takes place. You'll hire an inspector – generally, your agent will suggest one, or provide several options – to check the home and point out minor and major problems that should be fixed before closing. At this point, you still have the option of backing out of the deal. Through your agent, you'll submit a list of requested work, and the sellers have the option to complete the tasks, do some of them but not others, or reject the request. The sides will negotiate until reaching an agreement.

Removing contingencies. If the house passes inspection, appraisal and title search, and everything is good to go, then all contingencies can be removed, paving the way to a closing.

Closing time arrives. Once contingencies are removed and financing is set, all parties sign a seemingly endless stack of documents, and the transaction closes.

Packing begins! When the final signatures are in place, it’s time to put down the pens, shake hands, exchange smiles and start packing for the move!



Six Pricing Mistakes Every Seller Can Avoid


If you’re getting ready to sell your home, you want to get the most money for your investment, right? One of the key factors that will sell your home is price, and having a sound pricing strategy is a must if you want to find the right buyer.

Here are six common pricing mistakes all sellers should avoid.

1. Overpricing from the start – You might think your home is the best on the block and should command a price relative to the value you see. Wrong. You have to appeal to the value homebuyers see. Overpricing your home at the onset could leave out strong potential buyers, especially if recent sales and other factors in your neighborhood don’t justify your listing price. You also run the risk of needing multiple price reductions, which keep your home on the market that much longer.

2. Leaving out potential buyers in online searches – Entering a price range is the first search parameter most homebuyers use to narrow down their options. If a buyer’s price range is, say, $250,000 to $300,000, they won’t see your home if it’s listed at $305,000. It might make sense to list it right at $300,000 so that you capture potential buyers in the ranges above and below. Ultimately, this is up to you and your agent, but the range your home's price falls into is certainly worth thinking about – especially if you're teetering between price ranges anyway.

3. Not considering recently sold properties – To arrive at a listing price that will generate buyer interest, you can’t base your price solely on the prices of other homes in your area that are listed for sale. You also need to consider recent sales in your neighborhood and the final sale prices. An experienced agent can provide you with information on recent sales to help you see the bigger picture.

4. Getting too creative with your asking price – Make it easy for buyers and pick round numbers. Listing a home for $512,477, for example, will give potential buyers pause about your intentions and divert attention from your property to you, as the seller. Maybe it's best to save the creative juices for the property description.

5. Not being open to negotiation – The quickest way to kill a sale is to dig in your heels on asking price before the for-sale sign even goes in the yard. Negotiation is a two-way street, and if you refuse to budge on pricing or other conditions, you might be in for very bumpy (and long) ride. Ask yourself: Is it more important to get full asking price, or can you make a few concessions to find common ground that will ensure a closed sale?

6. Ignoring your agent’s insights – The best route to the right price starts with picking a great agent and then listening to his or her advice. Your agent will look at your situation from all angles – your home's features, the local market, recent sales and more – to help you make an informed decision about pricing.  

Ready to list your home? I can help you price it right and get it sold.​​



Home Improvements


You want to invest in your home – wisely. So how do you decide where to put your money?

Improvement projects don’t automatically increase the value of a home – factors like the state of the neighborhood can be more important to your bottom line. But knowing which improvements give a higher return can help boost your home’s value and save you time and money. 

Here’s a quick look at how you could prioritize projects around your home.

Address the small stuff
A home plagued with many minor issues is usually considered less desirable and harder to sell. Those dripping faucets, running toilets, torn vinyl flooring and damaged carpet instantly make a bad impression on buyers. Put your money into those first and use what’s left to make larger improvements.

Boost curb appeal
It comes as no surprise that exterior home improvement projects rank as the most cost effective, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. It ranks projects based on their cost and how much money they recoup after selling.

96 percent – Replace a wooden front door with a steel security door
87 percent – Add a new deck
78 percent – Replace siding
78 percent – Install a new garage door
78 percent – Install new windows

Consider interior investments
84 percent – Convert an attic to a bed and bath
82 percent – Minor kitchen remodel
77 percent – Basement renovation

If you’re thinking about selling your home, talk to me to evaluate what to change or replace.  I know your neighborhood, and can guide you toward projects that will make the home buyer-ready and also give you the biggest bang for your home-improvement buck.



Why You Need A Home Inspector


In your excitement to buy a home, it's easy to miss a small crack in the foundation, some leaky pipes under the house, or a roof that needs to be replaced.

The sellers worked hard to make the home look as desirable as possible, but looks don't tell the whole story. That's where your home inspection comes in.

What about inspections for sellers?

For sellers, a home inspection is also a good idea prior to listing the home for sale. An inspection can help you turn up issues ahead of time so there will be no surprises when serious buyers start inquiring. Knowing in advance means you'll be able to consider all your options – either making repairs before listing or pricing your home to account for anything you're not going to fix.

What does a home inspection include?

A general home inspection will evaluate the house and adjoining structures from top to bottom, inside and out, including but not limited to:

Outside Roof, porches, driveways, garage, drainage, retaining walls, grading, and plants or vegetation that may impact the home's condition

Inside Electrical and plumbing systems; foundation; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; water heater, septic system, electrical system, windows, doors, floors, ceilings and walls

What a home inspection doesn't cover The home inspector can't make any alterations in the course of inspecting a home – so there’s no digging up the ground, lifting carpets, knocking out walls, etc.

Also consider that a home comprises tens of thousands of parts, pieces, nooks and crannies. An inspector will look at a representative sampling, but there's simply no way to check every single element.

Tip: Many home inspectors know about major appliance recalls, but do your own research by noting model numbers and then checking for trouble online.

Tip: If an area of the house is not accessible because of barricades, such as boxes piled in front of a door, request that the seller remove these to allow for a thorough inspection.

Specialized Inspections – When Do You Need One?

Some cities require additional inspections on top of a general inspection. Beyond that, you may just want a specialized inspection due to a special circumstance or particular concern you or your general inspector may have.

Examples of specialized inspections:
• Sewer inspection
• Chimney inspection
• Mold inspection
• Lead inspection
• Asbestos inspection
• Pest inspection
• Inspection of a special feature such as swimming pool or hot tub
 

Tip: If a home inspector tells you not to attend the inspection, find someone else. This is a classic red flag.