6 Ways To Improve the Resale Value of Your Home

By doing simple upgrades to your home, you can look to re-sell it at a much higher rate. Here are some simple ways to improve the quality of your home so that its resale value can be through the roof.

  1. Nice Kitchens Add Value

Buyers of all kinds have long focused on the kitchen, but it holds particularly true to the newest wave of first-time homeowners – the millennials. A modern or updated kitchen topped the list of ideal home features in many surveys on millennials, who registered this part of the house as the most important. With more and more people going back to the basics of preparing their own meals, the kitchen deserves to be one of the prime features of any home.

With this in mind, if you plan to sell, don’t rip your kitchen down to the studs. A smaller investment can have serious impact. For as little as $5,000, you should be able to add a new suite of appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, giving you a much fresher, more coordinated look. Applying a new coat of paint to the walls or cabinets and updating the hardware can also breathe new life into the space.

For example, you can improve both the quality and aesthetics of your kitchen if you upgrade your appliances and try out stainless steel finishes. Though it has been around for decades, this appliance finish conveys a clean, contemporary design which tells your buyer subconsciously that all your appliances are modernized. For the latest spin on stainless products, look for new versions of black stainless steel from KitchenAid, LG and Samsung, each with a softer, less reflective finish, but the same cachet as the original.

  1. Pay Attention to the Landscape

Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views, darken interiors, promote mold and block a good look at the house. This, in turn, can be a major turn off for many potential homebuyers.

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People forget about their trees more than almost anything, yet landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return. According to a 2007 survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping can bring a return of four times that amount. It could really make a significant difference in the price. It might cost you more in upgrading your home, but landscaping might just be that one thing you need to close that deal on the house.

  1. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

There’s a lot of consideration for potential buyers if the house that they look to buy is already energy-efficient. Lowering your home’s energy costs can save you money for as long as you live there, and it is expected to be a major selling point down the line. People, according to most surveys conducted by home brokers, look for energy-efficiency more than they look for safety.

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Older homeowners who have felt the sting of escalating energy costs tend to be driving the interest. However, there are some early adopters among younger buyers, too, especially in regions of the country with more extreme weather. If they can see that your appliances are tilted on energy saving, it’s a good sign for them. Also, oftentimes, smart buyers ask for previous electricity bills and judge how much they can potentially spend when buying the home. That being said, it’s best if you can start being an energy saver as soon as possible.

Of course, never forget about water heating, which accounts for 16 percent of energy costs in the typical home. Spending $1,800 to $2,400 on a new unit is another way to impress efficiency-minded buyers.

  1. Functionality Over Aesthetic

Stain-prone stone countertops, grime-collecting ornate cabinets, and dust-catching wall-to-wall carpet used to be symbols of luxury, but today’s homebuyers are more likely to equate them with extra work. The younger generation in particular would much rather spend their time entertaining at home than fussing over it.

This means that beyond a home’s cosmetic finishes, it’s important to keep the major mechanical systems in working order. Many first-time buyers may have used up much of their savings on the down payment, so they want to know that the heating system, plumbing and electricity have been recently updated. Central air conditioning is also in demand because it eliminates the need to switch window units in and out.

In addition to including the age of the system, it helps if you can also point to its reliability. For example, Consumer Reports surveys have found American Standard and Trane to be among the least repair-prone manufacturers of gas furnaces.

A new roof can also help prevent fears of water damage, ice dams, pest infestation and other home disasters that can result from an old, shoddy roof. For a typical 2,300-square-foot house, you might be able to put on a new shingle roof for as little as $6,000. You’d also need to make sure that your floor is built well (including the backyard or the parking space) so looking for good asphalt paving services should be on top of your list.

Furthermore, more carpets are being replaced with long-wearing hardwood flooring with a durable factory finish. Engineered wood flooring, which uses a thin veneer of real wood or bamboo over structural plywood, tends not to wear as well as the more solid alternative. It does have the same look but costs less, making it a good choice if you plan to sell soon.

  1. Investing in Smart Technology

High-tech features offer notoriously bad returns on investment because technologies tend to evolve quickly. For example, one of the biggest flops in recent years is the fully wired audiovisual system. That being said, you should be investing on smart technology – those kinds that don’t fall off easily – rather than simply the trending ones.

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Certain smart devices add to home value and interest, including programmable thermostats. It has practically the same benefit with a range of products, such as lights, door locks, and security systems. Those smart features have broad appeal with millennials who grew up on smartphones, so they’re used to being able to control things at their fingertips. Surely, their age group would pay three to five percent more if they can control everything with their mobile phone.

A whole house generator might also be a good investment. Power failures are a reality for a lot of homeowners. As such, stationary generators can usually power the entire property. A professionally installed unit can range from $7,000 to $15,000, according to Porch, a website connecting consumers with home service pros. The Generac 6241, priced at $3,500, excluding installation, is a top pick.

  1. Invest in Good Advertising and Photos

Lastly, to increase the value of your house, your overall advertisement should be crisp. The first step is to look for a real estate agent who can really sell houses. Then, make sure your real estate agent offers great photos that show your home in its best light when it comes time to list. With this, home buyers seeking for a new place can appreciate your home from the pictures online before even making a decision to visit.

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Look for a frugal way to get a good advertisement by hiring a photographer, or researching online on how to take good photos of your house. Time and time again, customers would always be attracted by the first impression, especially when your advertisement photos are really good.

The Art of Negotiation: How To Make It Big In Real Estate

More often than not, real estate transactions boil down to negotiation.

Sellers won’t give the lowest price any more than the highest paying buyers are willing to pay. If you’re a buyer and you want to get your dream house in Hollywood, you’ll need to negotiate. If you’re a seller and you want to sell your property in Texas, you’ll need to negotiate. Negotiation is part of a creative process, and here’s why:

Professionals negotiating.

Negotiation is an Art.

It is generally wrong to pose an aggressive posture in any of your interactions with real estate agents, be it as a buyer or a seller. Contrary to popular belief of “you should be in a commanding position”, you actually should be easy to get along with and easy to talk to.

Then again, you should never forget that you are in that meeting or in that open house for one reason: to find the best way to address your real estate needs. This means that while you are negotiating the deal, every piece of information that you provide to the other side (to the buyer if you’re the seller, and vice versa) should be carefully released at just the right time, spoken in just the right way and designed to improve your position in the transaction.

Arguing over the asking price.

The “art of negotiation” is not just a simple isolated exchange between two parties, but rather a continuing effort. You must remember every action that you take during the entire transaction, beginning with submittal of offer to close escrow. Many real estate transactions where the buyer or seller got past the “offer and acceptance” phase and then acted like the deal was done, only to find themselves not having a deal because of cold feet.

As the saying goes, it ‘ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Thus, don’t give up your position too early: don’t make unnecessary concessions, and don’t compromise without gain.

Don’t be clumsy. You might insult the other party.

This is perhaps the main reason why many negotiations fail. There is an art to creating an offer to buy a home at the best price, and it’s not just about being the cheapest or tuning out to be the most affordable. It’s about the manner in which the transaction is handled.

Most people understand that if you walk up to a person selling their home and you bring a rather condescending tone on how they do business, the chances are that the seller will actually look at your offer as pretty low.

This is because you have put the seller into a “compromised position.” You have forced the seller’s sense of pride to overrule their desire to sell the home to you. Once you have put the seller in this position, it is difficult to correct it. Very few buyers are able to correct the mistake of insulting the seller. Pride is a really big deal.

On the other hand, insulting the buyer is just a mortal sin. There’s no way you can make up for a hurting buyer. You may well have botched your chance of selling a house, and may just end your career if the word spreads about your professional misdemeanor.

A mental arm wrestle.

As such, most people understand the obvious concept, but people often don’t realize how many different ways they can put either a seller or buyer into this defensive position. For example, buyers take the approach of including a defect-list in their offer which highlights every undesirable feature in the property, doing so to support a low offer.

At the end of the day, this is the same thing as saying “your house is undesirable and here is why”. The seller is insulted and either discards the offer, or counters at a higher price than they might have if they were not insulted.

Low-Ball offers don’t work.

A crazy low-ball offer is another common way to insult the seller. For most real estate buyers who are serious about finding a home that truly meets their needs, low-balling is a mistake. Buyers spend a lot of time searching for the right home, even before they look for a realtor. Once they find a great home and start writing an offer, their priority now shifts from “finding the dream house” to “winning this negotiation and get the house below fair value”.

More often than not, you won’t find “below market value” and “perfect home” in the same transaction. This is simply because its whole concept defies logic: how many times have you shopped for a product and have been willing to pay a premium for a particular product because it has all the features you highly desire?

The point is that just attempting this tactic often kills the deal, and the buyer usually ends up at square-one when the day ends. You’ll just waste a lot of time, or probably throw away a chance at your dream home. Stay focused on your true goals and negotiate realistically.

With this is mind, you can finally sell your Houston house for cash like you’ve always wanted.

Real estate tug of war.

Negotiate with Information, not Opinion.

Subjective price negotiation is a common scenario in almost every real estate transaction. Though it comes as a normal case, the challenge is to put your foot down on the best price that is justified by market comparables, yet giving an offer that is presented in such a way that it does not insult the seller.

Use the local market data to prepare and then support your offer: this is by far the most effective tool in price negotiations. Showing a seller market data is way more persuasive than simply saying, “I just feel like you are over-priced”. You can make your negotiation argument stronger by not basing on feelings alone, but rather using the real data that you can get your hands on.

Coming to a financial agreement.

Another reason market data helps is because many real estate agents barely know how to perform a market analysis. Simply put, they don’t really know what the property is worth, nor have property properly appraised. If the buyer-agent produces data that supports their client’s offer, many times the seller’s agent is swayed by the data and recommend that their client accepts the offer.

Meanwhile, this also holds true for the seller. If you can show the facts and the mathematics behind the numbers you are presenting as the best deal for the house (be it cheaper, or simply the right price for the right home), you can easily persuade the buyer to tender to your realtor service.

Structure the offer in a way that it will be accepted.

A good buyer’s agent coaches their clients about the best ways to position themselves and their offer to increase the likelihood of the seller’s acceptance. The saying “first impressions last” fits perfectly in this case.

This is also true for a strong buyer’s market; because if you want to pay the lowest price for a piece of property, you then have to be sure that all the other components to your offer, other than price, are as attractive as possible.

This includes a conditional loan-approval from a reputable lender, timeframe for close of escrow, use of qualified inspectors, amount and type of earnest deposit, contingencies and how they are structured, comparative analysis of the property, and the professionalism and attention to detail in the offer.

A financial compromise.

Remember that while price is very important to the seller, there are other aspects to consider in a deal. For instance, the seller only wants to go through the escrow process one single time to not waste any, so if all the components of your offer must say “I can close”, your lower-price offer may be preferable to a higher offer that says “I am not so sure this is the right house and I may be a pain and NOT close escrow”.

All things considered, real estate is all about proper communication. To master real estate, you should also master the art of negotiation to have the most success.

7 Marketing Strategies for Real Estate Agents

Selling real estate has always been a very competitive business. Agents have created numerous strategies to sell houses, hotels, condos, and apartments. However, most of the time, they aren’t very effective. It could be that the buyers are conservative, or it could be that there are real estate agents who are too aggressive for their own good.

Then again, you don’t need to make a huge step – such as spending a lot of money in a TV advertisement – just to sell property. Perhaps you’re just not doing the small things that really matter to your clients. Clients are humans, just as you are, and they have quite the understandable psyche when it comes to choosing their future homes.

A cutout home.

Nowadays, clients prefer going to social media and browsing listing websites first to look for their needs before they go to open houses. They go to these measures to be more knowledgeable on the market because buying a house is an enormous financial step – for anyone. Clients don’t outright post things like “we buy Houston houses”; they want you to be the cowboy that brings them safely to their Texan dreamland.

To make the sale, it is imperative to understand your clientele, and to understand the marketing strategies that will ultimately help you sell that property.

1. Make Yourself Social Media-Accessible 

If you’re not on social media right now, the general consensus is that you’re a nobody. A few real estate agents are starting to build up their social media profiles, and you should too. Make sure you have social media accounts on all the main channels; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and especially Instagram – to showcase all the beautiful homes you’re trying to flip.

Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties.

The agent's guide to social media.

Social media greatly helps in building a good reputation when it comes to accessibility: clients and potential buyers will definitely choose a real estate agent who can easily be contacted through social. It’s a testament to how “in-touch” you are, which can boost your reputation tremendously.

Also, if you can provide a good way to entice the customers (perhaps by making good snaps of your houses through Instagram, interior shots in Pinterest, or maybe a 360-degree video of the house through Facebook), you can easily attract more clients.

2. Paint Pictures

Here’s the thing: you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling a residence; a home; a safe, loving place. With the concept of residence, you should understand that the house is situated in a greater area or a flourishing town. It would be very helpful in attracting buyers if you can paint the picture of the general area on where your houses are.

Maybe it is deep into the concrete jungle of New York. If so, paint the picture of your house sitting comfortably amidst the busy streets, showing accessibility to most workplaces. Take pictures of lush sceneries around the place you’re trying to flip.

Snap pictures and post on social media and you can entice customers who look at the bigger picture before buying their own home.

3. Hire A Photographer

Much like any other commercial product, real estate can be sold with good first impressions. Successful real estate relies heavily on great photography, and that’s the truth. Bad photos will diminish interest in even the greatest of properties.

It’s absolutely vital that you have attractive photos of your properties. Hire a professional photographer (preferably with experience photographing homes and architecture), or, if you have sophisticated equipment and are confident in your abilities, have your own hand at it. Just remember that this is one of those times when it pays to bring in a professional.

Photographers, or artists in general, understand the psychology of pictures: the right angle to choose, the correct color scheme, or the best lighting time to take pictures. Because of their expertise, they can attract buyers to tender your real estate service. This tip also goes well with having social media set-up and can help in painting the picture that you want to show to potential clients.

4. Create A Killer Website

Aside from social media, people are looking at websites first before they go to open houses. As a rule of thumb, if you have a disorganized website (or no website at all), there is a big chance that they won’t trust you. So if you need to hire a web developer, do so because it could mean the difference between a huge sale or another missed opportunity.

Get a website!

Today’s consumers prefer to start their legwork online when making major purchases and that does not exclude purchasing real estate. This is where they look up vital information about the possible houses they would buy – like where it is located, how near it is to key places, how much it is, and much more.

Make it easy for users to access all this information – get all your property pages up with great photos, virtual tours and descriptions, and easy access to Google Maps and Google Earth for added convenience.

5. Start a Nurture Campaign

Nurture campaigns are like the breadcrumb paths that Hansel and Gretel followed, except that instead of an evil house at the end, your clients find their dream home.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses on marketing and communication efforts by listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.

Your real estate agent has the keys to your next home.

Basically, what you want to do is to leave your clients a trail of quality breadcrumbs (that they should see subconsciously) by tinkering your interactions with them based on previous actions that they’ve taken.

It works like this: if they first attended an open house with you, send them an email about other nearby houses on the market. While you’re with them, try to know what their likes and dislikes are. In this way, you can lead them into some of your other houses available for selling.

Another example is if they attended your first time homebuyer’s seminar, send them your “10 Things Every New Homebuyer Should Know” eBook if you have one. This could lead them to a conclusion that your services are better (but do not make false advertising!). Deliver content that will help your clients take the appropriate next step, depending on where they are in their journey to finding their dream home.

6. Create A Newsletter

Email marketing is one of the best strategies for building client relationships. It costs less for you, and it is an easy-access guide for your clients.

Collect emails from your website, local outreach, or any other methods you can think of. Add them into the mix your nature campaign strategies, and your email marketing is ready to take on more clients. Also, make sure that you send your subscribers informative emails that they might be looking for, such as notices about upcoming open houses, new houses on the market, news about seminars you’re offering in the area, etc.

7. Establish Sponsorships

Consider helping sponsor local festivals, sports teams, or school events. You can also create mini events that can help you promote your brand and service. In this way, you can build a trusting relationship to your potential clients.

According to Naomi Marks of Marketing Donut, small firms can get good publicity and create valuable goodwill by sponsoring a local team, event or good cause – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. This marketing strategy is cheaper than most marketing strategies, and is still very effective.