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Lake View Terrace Real Estate Blog

Chris Griffiths


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16

Why Behind-the-Scenes Work Is Key to Selling a Property

by Chris Griffiths

Anyone can put a “For Sale” sign on a property, but an experienced real estate agent makes all the difference when it comes to marketing and promoting a property. Following are some examples of what goes on behind the scenes in promoting a property:

1. Communication: Writing a description that sells isn’t as simple as it might sound. Presenting a property in the best light while maintaining professional objectivity is as much an art as a skill. Experienced agents understand what buyers are looking for and how to communicate with a specific target market.

2. Contacts: If the most important aspect of property valuation is location, contacts must surely be the most important aspect of selling a property. Real estate agents are expert networkers with extensive contacts within the community. In addition to listing the home on the Multiple Listing Service, personal websites and other Internet venues, real estate agents often send out mailers to prospects on their personal client lists. Using an agent often allows sellers to close on properties months faster than trying to go it alone. 

3. Confidence: It’s no secret that people are more inclined to do business with someone who puts them at ease and instills a sense of confidence. Buyers and sellers alike often feel more relaxed, free to ask questions and open to negotiation when working through a third party. Agents work closely to show the home, provide valuable feedback and create a win-win situation that benefits everyone involved.

Selling a Property Quickly? What You Should Do

by Chris Griffiths

If you’ve just purchased your dream home and have to sell it because you’ve been transferred to another city or you’re over mortgaged and sinking fast, there are a few things you should not do.

First, don’t go it alone. Second, be careful not to overprice your home.

Sellers are often tempted to sell their homes themselves, particularly if money is tight. 

It’s best to resist the temptation, though, especially if you are in a hurry to sell a home. 

It’s a fact that homes that are sold by their owners often take longer to sell than those sold through a real estate agent. 

As well, selling yourself takes up a lot of your valuable time. 

And time, as they say, is money.

Overpricing is the main reason many homes are slow to sell. 

Sellers often have an exaggerated idea of their home’s value. 

They may be blind to its faults and overestimate its good points. 

For a reality check, visit neighborhood open houses.

It’s also wise to review local listings for prices of similar homes in your area.  

Your best bet to move that house quickly is to find a local real estate agent who can bring special expertise about your neighborhood. 

Such an agent will have networks of contacts who may be looking for properties in your area.

Sellers should listen to their real estate agent. 

The agent will know the comparable sales and be able to advise you on changes that could make the property more salable.

The real estate agent will also study comparable properties to establish the true value of your home.
That way you can price it correctly and develop a marketing strategy that will work for you.


No Granite? Don’t Let That Be a Deal Breaker!

by Chris Griffiths

If you’re looking for the perfect house, that huge wish list you’re carrying around may be holding you back - and ultimately could cost you your dream home.

Even the casual HGTV watcher will be familiar with “granite obsession.” Picture this: A real estate agent is showing a couple a house that has great curb appeal in their chosen neighborhood, at a price they can afford. It’s perfect. Or is it?

“Hate that fixture,” the husband says, as the couple checks out the dining room.

They pause in the kitchen. 

“This has to be completely redone,” he says. “No granite countertops.”

She agrees. The husband and wife nod knowingly at each other, and the real estate agent, who has heard it all before, says to himself, “Granite obsession.”

Despite the home’s obvious advantages, the couple can’t see the forest for the trees … or rather the house for its décor. 

Instead of obsessing over paint colors, fixtures and granite countertops, the couple should be asking their real estate agent about the neighborhood; discussing recent energy-saving upgrades and the home’s electrical system; checking for leaks or cracks that may signal a roof repair or foundation problem; and deciding if the floor plan and room sizes will meet their lifestyle needs.  

The couple should ask if window coverings are included and if the appliances are in working order. And even if these are not to their tastes, the couple will save a lot of money if they can live with the status quo and not have to buy new appliances, fixtures or drapes immediately.

Got questions? 

Ask your real estate agent. He or she can recommend home inspectors, contractors, designers and others you might want to ask for a second opinion. 

But don’t hold out for granite, hardwood or high-end appliances. You may never get a second chance at your dream home.

Today’s ‘Smart’ Home Makes Decisions for us

by Chris Griffiths

We all know what it means to look after a home. Whether it’s vacuuming regularly or applying a much-needed coat of paint, such care is an essential part of home ownership. 

But what if your home could actually help care for you? 

That’s the driving concept behind the current research into the creation of a truly “smart” home. The idea is not simply a home that responds to preset commands to turn on or off lights or appliances, but one that can calculate such needs on its own and respond to them appropriately. 

For example, by monitoring your sleep patterns, your home will turn down the thermostat after you’re in bed to save energy. Or perhaps it will recognize that the oven has been left on and shut it off automatically. 

It works through discrete, wireless sensors located in every room that gather information on our habits and patterns and then forward it to a sophisticated computer program. The computer soon is able to anticipate our movements, detect potential aberrations and respond accordingly. The longer we live with these sensors, the more they are able to make decisions on our behalf.

Far-fetched? Apparently not. Researchers from Washington State University wrote in a recent issue of the journal, Science, that home innovations like these are already under development. According to the article, we’re heading for a brave new world where we will be able to rely on our “smart” home to care for us. 

It gives new meaning to “home sweet home”, doesn’t it?

How to Help Your Agent Sell Your Home Quickly

by Chris Griffiths

While your real estate agent may be working flat out to sell your home, you - as the seller - also have an important role to play.

It’s up to you to prepare your home for sale. 

While your real estate agent may suggest, recommend and even cajole, selling your home is your job, and no one else can do it for you. 

You have only one chance to make a first impression. 

It’s so true.

A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of buyers knew the property was for them the minute they walked in the door. 

So make sure you put a lot of your effort into that first impression. 

  • Cut the grass to make it easy and inviting to get to your front door. 
  • Repair stairs and railings and remove all the usual clutter. 
  • For a great first impression, paint the front door a color that coordinates with your trim and add new hardware.
  • De-clutter the entry and make it a 'Grand' entrance. A mirror over a hall table reflects light and gives your entrance a finished look. 
  • In the living areas, remove some of your furniture and paint the walls a neutral color to give them a spacious feel.
  • Use lighting, even in the daytime to brighten dark corners.
  • In the bedrooms, organize your closets to make them seem roomier.  
  • Kitchens and bathrooms can sell - or not sell - your home. If you can afford it, replace outdated appliances and fixtures. If you can’t, go for a good first impression with uncluttered, sparkling-clean counters. 
  • In the bathroom, new fluffy towels and accessories may help visitors overlook the dated vanity. 

While it’s listed, your home should always be kept clean, tidy and smelling fresh. Help your real estate agent and you’ll find that between the two of you, 60% of buyers may just, find your house is “the one.”


Why It Pays to Use a Buyer’s Agent

by Chris Griffiths

These days, a click of the mouse can open a world of dream homes to you.

But when you’re facing down a determined seller or trying to figure out what to offer, it literally pays to have a buyer’s agent on your side.

Real estate is all about negotiation.

On one side there’s the seller and his or her listing agent, who is bound by a legal agreement to represent the seller’s interest.

On the other side is the buyer - you - who wants to walk out a winner, having paid a price you’re comfortable with for a home you love. 

To get there, you’ll need comparable sales to establish a fair price; an educated perspective on the local real estate market; connections to home inspectors, escrow officers and mortgage brokers; and someone who is bound by a legal agreement - a buyer’s agreement - to represent your interests and yours alone. 

That would be the buyer’s agent. He or she puts you on level ground with the seller. 

In tough negotiations with multiple offers, you need someone who will advise on strategy and is required by law to treat everything you share in confidence. 

In “as is” situations or home inspections that turn up expensive surprises, you need a professional to advise you. 

Even when things are going smoothly, another perspective is often important.

An agent can also negotiate unemotionally and professionally on behalf of the buyer.

Effectively, your buyer’s agent is your new best friend. Don’t leave home without one.


Age in Place Later; Make Good Design Choices Now

by Chris Griffiths

Whether you’ve found the home you want to grow old in or you’re planning for an elderly relative to move in with your family, the design choices you make now should be made with a weather eye to the future.

You’ll want to consider adding those independent-living accessories now that will make life easier and safer for you or a relative down the road. Here are some suggestions.

Keep the kitchen safe and accessible by skipping trendy remodels that could transform it into an obstacle course.

Round the edges of countertops and shelves to reduce the risk of bumps and bruises. Place the microwave at or below counter height to eliminate the need to reach for hot dishes; frailer individuals have difficulty lifting and carrying cookware, which may cause spills and slipping hazards.

Also, make allowances for walkers or wheelchairs with lower countertops and extra space.
Consider installing a pull-out pantry with drawers that display all contents at a glance and permit easy access.

Note that U-shaped kitchen guidelines call for at least 60 inches (152 cm) of clearance between opposite cabinets, walls, or appliances; galley kitchens, a minimum of 40 inches (102 cm).
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for elderly people. Experts recommend you elevate the toilet, and install grab bars for getting in and out of the shower or tub safely.

Many designers are now including these features as a matter of course, so they needn’t negatively impact the resale value of your home.

Make sure the floors of your home are slip-resistant. Vinyl flooring offers good slip resistance and softness underfoot.

Tile floors should have enough grout and texture to grip. If your home’s interior has a few steps up to a landing or doorway, consider installing a threshold ramp; several kinds of affordable and easy-to-install rubber ramps are now available.

Well-considered changes now will make a big difference later.

Gardening Can Be a Bed of Roses: Try These Tips

by Chris Griffiths

Dreaming of a bed of roses or rows of tasty tomato plants is easy; the reality may feel like a nightmare, particularly to first-timers.

If you’re planning on seeing whether your thumb is green this summer, note that gardeners are just as varied as gardens, and even those who grew up surrounded by high-rise buildings can nurture something from a plot of earth.

You don’t even need your own backyard; thanks to locavores, the local food movement is spawning community gardens galore.

Before you take that first step, read gardening blogs and books. Talk to gardeners. Learn from them. Then check out these DIY tips:

  • Know your space. Gardens can occupy most of a backyard or a square-foot box. Consider where you’ll plant. Walk around your yard at different times of day so you can see what areas get the most shade, and when.
  • Make sure you have the necessary materials. Have water buckets and/or a hose that’s long enough. Invest in good tools and the space to store them.​
  • A word about water. Many areas in North America are suffering from serious drought conditions, while others have the opposite problem: too much water. Both issues shape the way individuals on this continent garden today.
  • Know your soil. Different plants grow better in different soil types. It’s important to know the pH level of your soil. You can purchase a home test, or you can submit soil samples to a lab and have experts look at it.
  • Know your strengths. Gardening takes time. For some, weeding, watering, pruning, and keeping your plants safe from insects and animals is part of the joy of gardening. If all that seems like drudge work, you may have to accept that gardening isn’t for you.
  • Know your plan. Successful gardeners plan ahead. During June, for example, you need to plant fast-growing summer annuals and heat-tolerant vegetables that can endure hot summers.

Online Estimates: Informative or Misleading?

by Chris Griffiths

Online real estate information sites are routinely used by homeowners, home buyers, real estate agents, and developers as gauges of a home’s market value.

Some of these sites use automated valuation models (AVMs) to provide information on estimated market value, usually for homes currently on the market. The information is available on many home search websites across North America.

AVMs are often proprietary, but generally these use algorithmic calculations that take into account characteristics such as square footage of both home and property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, footprint of the structure, and property tax information and prior sales prices for nearby homes. The factors are weighted differently according to the specific geographical location.

Consumers often rely heavily on AVMs – sometimes too heavily. According to industry executives, some have median error rates of 8 percent. Of course, the accuracy of the information varies according to the individual website.

In fact, AVM error rates vary widely, and in some places they far exceed the national median. In large urban areas, as well as in desirable suburban and waterfront locales, AVM estimates may be off by tens of thousands of dollars in either direction. Sometimes online valuations are higher than actual on-the-ground selling prices, and sometimes they are significantly lower.

There are several reasons why AVMs can be off. For one thing, an algorithm can’t determine the actual physical condition of a residence. Sometimes homes have specific characteristics that add to or detract from value, such as a poorly located bathroom, a tiny bedroom, an unusual layout, or an obstructed view. Moreover, AVMs don’t take into account title issues, such as concern over surveys or boundaries.

Many agree that AVMs can be a good place to start when you’re in the research stage of house hunting. However, once you’re in search mode, forewarned is forearmed: ask your real estate agent for more detailed comparatives.

Decorating For Today: If it Works for You…it Works

by Chris Griffiths

From the shag carpets of the 70s to the neons of the 80s, each era brings its own styles and designs. But today’s trend is actually a non-trend: It’s a celebration of the beauty (and functionality) inherent in personal taste: if it works for you; it works.

Decorating today is about expressing your personality in your home. If you like those shag carpets from the 70s, get one. If Pantone’s pastel colors of the year leave you cold, warm up with lemon yellow or tangerine orange.

While coming to terms with your own decorating personality is liberating, it can also be scary.

Here are some ideas; make them yours:

  • Remember “flower power?”  If you love flowers, you’ll find floral prints on pillows, rugs, drapes and furniture. You can be subtle – add a floral cushion or two – or create an all-out garden in your space.
  • Oversized art – Fill a focus wall with a big painting or print that you love to look at. Large, bold pieces look great and don’t have to cost the earth. Some people are opting for stick-on photo art murals instead of wallpaper to give your room that very personal feel.
  • Make it shine – Today’s metal accents are subtle (think brushed brass, copper or soft rose-gold) – but if it’s glitzy you want, there are still lots of shiny things around.
  • Go bohemian…in a modern way – The modern boho trend encourages you to break all the rules. Combine vintage finds, antiques, personal accessories and modern furniture to create a style that shouts – ME!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16