Top #10 Steps to Sell Your Home!

January 23, 2011

 

Thinking about selling your home?

Would you like a little sage advice that could save you time, money, anguish and probably a bit of all three?

1. Understand your real estate market – The old adage “Location, Location, Location” not only applies to your home but to your market as well. What you hear on the national news may not have any bearing on your individual area so learning local conditions is a must to determine the best strategy to find a ready, willing and able buyer.  You can learn a lot by following updates from the local association of Realtors in your area as well as contacting active Realtors who make it their business to understand and decipher the current market conditions.

2. Hire a Terrific Realtor – Okay, I had to say it. If you plan to try to sell yourself, then certainly skip to the next step. However, I am a proud Texas Realtor and always think that we are your best shot at getting sold. That said, all Realtors are not the same so making sure you hire the best is crucial. Ask your friends, do research online,  and pay attention to see who seems to list and more importantly “sell” homes in your community. (Just because an agent lists a lot of homes does not mean they actually sell them.)  The Houston Association of Realtors, HAR, has a fabulous rating system online for those agents who participate. This is a great indicator of performance and appears to be helpful to the consumer. For an example, you can see my ratings here. I know Zillow is attempting this as are other sites so you may have access to agent ratings or rankings in your area, too.

3. Check your calendar – Time of year is very important when determining how to position your property in the market place. Seasonal markets will ebb and flow like the seas and your Realtor will be able to help you determine the best time to list. Homes sell throughout the year but there are times when demand will be at its peak and therefore, sales prices will be highest. If possible, take advantage of these peak selling periods. If not, adjust your price and days on market expectations accordingly.

4. Hire a Stager – Staging has become a huge business and has been proven to assist sellers in presenting their homes in the best light possible to potential buyers. This equates to more money in your pocket when the home is sold. Some of us have taken staging courses and either handle it ourselves or hire independent stagers to work with our clients. If you are in the Houston Area, I love and recommend Linda Burnett with Envisions Designs. Regardless of who is doing the work, take the time and effort to follow the instructions of a good stager and it will pay off in the end.

5. Do what the Stager tells you to do – This is the part where some folks get hung up. The stager is a professional who looks at your home dispassionately and is really working for you to try to help you sell your home. The more you can complete of the stager’s honey-do list, the better. I realize there may be unexpected expense here but if it is major, then trust me… it may very well cost you more in the end to ignore rather than fix. Flooring, paint, landscaping… these are all items that can be a major turn-off to buyers if not in great shape.

6. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – Make sure you have as much exposure as possible. Today’s buyer is really beginning online for their home search so you need to be there, too. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. A little sign in the yard without an online presence will only net you the few people who happen to drive by. It is a brave new world out there and your home listing needs to be in it. Another must is you need multiple high quality photos and a virtual tour, if possible, to accompany your online advertising, as well as a good description of your home.

7. Offer a Buyer Agent Commission – If you are listing with a Realtor who will place you on the MLS, then there will be a published offer of compensation. However, if you try to go it alone, you really need to consider offering to pay an agent that might bring your buyer. Trust me, agents know more potential buyers than all your friends, co-workers, neighbors combined so it is important to utilize this great resource. In the US, usually the buyer’s representative is compensated out of the listing agent’s commission. But if not, please be mindful that there are wonderful Realtors out there who may have a client that would be perfect for your home but they need to be paid. If compensation is not offered by the seller, then the buyer would have to pay it and they will simply take it off the offer price. This may also cause a bit of confusion for the buyer who does not understand why their agent is not getting paid by the seller. Ask several Realtors in your area what would be a fair amount and then advertise it on your sign saying,” Realtors Welcome”. Besides, you do not work for free, why should they?

8. Consider Public and Agent-Only Open Houses – Public Open Houses are a good way for the public to view your home. Of course, attendance can be affected by time, date, weather, location, accessibility, signage, etc. If you see several Realtors holding open houses in your area, call them and ask if you could hold yours open at the same time. This brings in more traffic and a home that does not work for one buyer may work for another. Also, high attendance elevates buyer excitement.

9. Open Title – Whether your state requires you use attorneys or title companies, it is always best to make sure you have a good, clean title to be able to close. So many issues can run interference with a smooth transaction: probate issues, divorce, tax liens. It is best to get a clean bill of health with regard to your title up front so you are not stalled at the closing table. Another thing to do is find out your payoff amount on your mortgage, if any, to make sure you do not have to bring money to the table to close. If you discover you have to sell but do not have the funds necessary to close, in other words, you are “upside down” , you may want to contact an agent who specializes in what is known as a short sale.

10. Know Rules on Pre-Inspection and Disclosure Requirements – In some cases, it is a good idea or is even required to get your home inspected prior to going on the market. This will help you discover issues that may require repair as well as help narrow down the repair list for the future buyer. More real estate transactions fall apart due to failure to properly disclose items or fear of items that show up on inspection reports. Nip them in the bud and you will have a happier buyer and better transaction. And if you remember nothing from this post, always Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. If it is something that you as a buyer would want to know about a property, then you must disclose it.

As an experienced Realtor with Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors, a top listing firm in the great City of Houston, we do know a thing or two about the marketing of residential real estate. In fact, we have been honored twice now by J. D. Powers and Associates for “Highest Seller Satisfaction”. I welcome your comments or additions to this list. If you would like a market analysis for your Houston Area Home (and absolutely no pressure to list), just let me know. I am happy to help and only hope you will consider me should you decide  you wish to hire a Realtor. I can be reached at www.christiborden.com or via cell 832-372-7478.

Happy Selling and Good Luck!

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Home Design and Future Trends

January 14, 2011

Home design is fluid and ever changing. Many features we clamor for today may be passé tomorrow. Remember white kitchen cabinets? At one time, this was THE top wished for item and now… It is dated and unwanted. Corian countertops… All the rage in the 1990’s but now, nowhere near the top of choices.

What changes can we expect in the near future?

Based on responses to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), here are some ways in which builders can expect homes to change by as early as 2015:

Single-family homes will get smaller (74 percent of respondents said).

Homes will have more “green” features (68 percent).

Homes will have more technology features (29 percent).

Homes will have more universal access features (20 percent).

Homes will have more outdoor living features, such as kitchens and fireplaces (10 percent).

The average home size will be roughly 2,150 sf.

Living rooms will merge with other spaces in the home (52 percent), vanish to save on square footage (30 percent), or become a parlor/retreat/library or music room (13 percent).

If the living room doesn’t vanish, it will likely decrease in size (76 percent).

Also downsizing are the entry foyer (66 percent) and dining room (63 percent).

Features “very likely” to be included in a new home in 2015 include a kitchen-living room combo (“great room”), walk-in closet in master bedroom, laundry room and two-car garage.

“Unlikely” features include three or more bathrooms, mudroom, unheated porch, dining room, skylights, three-car garage, four or more bedrooms, media room and two master bedroom suites.

Homebuyers are “somewhat likely” to want universal design features such as stepless entries, three-foot-wide doorways and four-foot-wide hallways, stepless showers that have seating, non-slip floor surfaces and grab bars in bathrooms.

People seem likely to lavish more attention on the kitchen, ensuring that room will retain its status as the home’s social center. Survey respondents said they are “very likely” to want double sinks, recessed lighting, table space for eating and breakfast bars. They’re “somewhat likely” to want a central island, walk-in pantry, recycling center and desk/computer area.


Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors is ranked as Houston’s Market Leader

May 20, 2010

by REAL Trends 500

HOUSTON, TX – May 13, 2010 – Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors ranks as the market leader in residential real estate in Houston, Texas, as reported in 2010 REAL Trends 500. The annual report was released this month by Denver-based REAL Trends, Inc., a leading source of analysis and information on the residential brokerage industry.

Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors achieved Houston Market Leader status with more closed transactions and more closed volume than any other residential real estate company in Houston in 2009.

The company also ranked as one of the largest regional brands in the country. Gibraltar Mortgage Services and Greater Houston Financial Services, in Prudential Gary Greene’s Home Services division, were also recognized as national leaders in their fields.

Marilyn Eiland and Mark Woodroof serve as partners of Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors, which was founded in Houston in 1963 as Gary Greene, Realtors and became part of the Prudential Real Estate Network in 2000. The real estate services company provides a single point of access to all move-related service needs.

“We strive to be a trusted source for the consumer during what is often a difficult time of transition,” said Eiland. “We are proud of our leadership and our expert sales professionals who continue to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Woodroof.

Recently, Eiland and Woodroof were honored by Prudential Real Estate Services as Broker of the Year, an award given for outstanding professionalism, honesty, integrity, business savvy and community service. In presenting the honor, James Mallozzi, chairman and CEO of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc., commended them on their perfect blend of leadership and ownership. “Even in challenging times, this company has grown in size, stature and influence and represents a strong force in Texas real estate.”

Prudential Gary Greene offices cover the Houston area, with locations in Houston’s Inner Loop area, Bay Area, Champions/Louetta, Friendswood, Galveston, Katy, Memorial, Northeast Houston and Wallisville, the Northwest/ 290 corridor, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and its newest office in the booming community of Cypress.

On the philanthropic front, the company has made a difference through their fundraising efforts for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which they have supported for the past 17 years. In 2009, they donated over $330,000 to the nonprofit that offers support to children with cancer and their families. Their work for the Sunshine Kids includes the annual Craig Biggio Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic and other events throughout the year sponsored by their branch offices.

G. W. Bailey, executive director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation, said: “Marilyn Eiland, Mark Woodroof, and their whole organization, have made it possible for us to create more activities for more kids with cancer – not only in Houston but all across the U.S. and Canada. They have had an enormous, incalculable impact on our operations.”


Katy, TX – Cinco Ranch Does it Again! in Katy, TX – # 1 in sales in US

March 24, 2010

by christi borden

 According to a report by the PR Newswire – March 23, 2010 –  Newland Communities’ Cinco Ranch in Katy (sprawling suburb 20+ miles west of downtown Houston) was the nation’s top-selling master-planned community for new-home sales in 2009, according to a survey by RCLCO, an independent real estate advisory firm.

“With 887 net new-home sales in 2009, Cinco Ranch topped the RCLCO study, moving up from second place in 2008. Sales in the 7,600-acre community were up 14%, making it one of only four communities on the top 10 list to report a positive new-home sales gain from 2008 to 2009. Telfair, another Houston community by Newland Communities, was ranked fourth, up from sixth the year prior, with 450 new-home sales, a 9% sales increase over 2008 levels.”

 Interestingly, Newland held 5 spots in the top-selling 15 for last year: Cinco Ranch, Telfair, Eagle SpringsTeravista and FishHawk Ranch, No other developer has held such a record and continues to be the leader in not only sales but resident satisfaction.

The Cinco marketing folks have recently changed their campaign to, “Cinco Ranch, Your Comfort Zone”. At a time when the economy across the nation has people skittish about real estate, this is a brilliant approach. Buyers need to feel comfortable or safe when making a home purchase. This has never been truer than for the relocation buyer – who may only be here for a year or two before moving again and needs to place his/her family in the safest area in terms of resale value. Although there are many choices out there, one must really look to the strength of the community and the developer along with the actual builder when considering a purchase. Buyers understand this as do the Realtors that serve them. No amount of incentives or give-aways can change the fact that community is so very important in our area – not just in terms of resale values but also quality of life. If you research the sales data for area builders, you will note that many of them are being kept afloat because of the strength of the very communities in which they build.

 “Newland’s sales success at Cinco Ranch can be attributed to the product diversity our homebuilders offer, the proven established track records of these communities, and a highly focused marketing approach that speaks to our customer needs,” McLeod continued.
Houston’s strong showing in the RCLCO study underscores the fact that the city is a bright spot in the national economy.

 RCLCO has been releasing its top-selling MPC rankings since 1994.

About Newland Communities
Newland Communities is the largest private developer of planned communities in the United States. With a legacy that began in 1968, Newland specializes in comprehensive residential and urban mixed-use master planning with expertise in leading large-scale single and multifamily new-home communities. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Newland and its affiliated companies are currently developing and managing nearly 40 projects in 14 states. www.newlandcommunities.com

 About RCLCO

RCLCO is an independent real estate advisory firm, providing market and financial analysis and strategic planning services to a broad spectrum of clients including developers, corporations, financial institutions, institutional and private investors, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations around the globe.


Local Custom Builder Partner Retires…Two Buyers Benefit!!!

March 16, 2010

 

by christiborden

Masterpiece Custom Builders: Launching a new generation in home building and celebrating a much earned retirement.

Have we got a deal for you!

 Masterpiece Custom Builders is offering two Inventory Homes for immediate and BELOW MARKET VALUESale in Lakes of Bella Terra as part of their company’s special celebration!

 Gordon Boyle, original founder of Masterpiece Custom Builders has announced his impending retirement, entrusting the future success of his company to his long time friend and partner, Greg Stephens, a master builder in his own right. Greg will carry on the Masterpiece name and tradition of building award winning Custom Homes in Lakes of Bella Terra and other communities in the West Houston area, maintaining the integrity of workmanship while adding to their design capabilities and product line.

This retirement announcement has prompted Masterpiece to offer for special Sale selected Inventory Homes in selected communities at Below Market Value prices during their restructuring process!

 Included in this offer are two Custom Homes in the Lago Verde section in Lakes of Bella Terra:

These homes are 100% completed, ready to move-in, fully warranted and Masterpiece is ready to “make a deal” to liquidate inventory!

If you have not committed to a Custom Home in another community, I invite you to stop by and visit Lakes of Bella Terra.  With interest rates still very low, the economy on an upswing, and construction costs for future new homes on the rise,  there has never been a better time to take advantage this “once in a lifetime” opportunity!

 HOW DO I GET THE BEST POSSIBLE DEAL DURING THIS BUILDER’S CELEBRATION?

Contact me right away for more details regarding this special event at 832-368-5953 or email me, Christi Borden at christi@christiborden.com. We have Sales Experts on site and the builder, Greg Stephens is available for private showings.

 Custom Home Sales Leader – Christi Borden, Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors     www.ChristiBorden.com


Top 10 list of “Must-Haves” in Today’s New Home!

January 29, 2010

Ris-Media recently published an article about their opinion of the top 10 items or features that top the list for today’s buyer. Click here to read this informative article.

However, one must always remember that real estate is local and the items may vary from area to area. In our market of Katy, TX and surrounding suburbs west of Houston, many of the features listed are the same but there are subtle changes and reasons for those changes.

The Ris-Media list is as follows:

1. Large kitchens, with an island.

2. Granite countertops.

3. Energy-efficient appliances

4. Home office/study.

5. Main-floor master suite.

6. Outdoor living room.

7. Master suite soaker tubs.

8. Stone and brick exteriors.

10. 2-car garages.

We live in an area where the average buyer moves about every 4 to 5 years as opposed to the national average of moving every 7 or more years. This is due to the transient nature of many of our residents who are employed with local oil, gas and chemical companies that tend to move their folks around more often than say, a local employer.

When building or buying a home, many of my clients ask me how their selections can affect resale later. I have a two-fold answer to that question. First, how long with they be in the home? If only for a short time (say less than 7 years), then it is best to purchase a home with the most popular features of the time because home trends should not have changed too drastically and those items should still be hot-ticket features that their future buyers will want. Of course, if we are talking about a long-term goal of ownership, it really does not matter what you install because when you move, trends will dictate a completely different set of priorities for buyers and and chances are the home will be ready for an update to accommodate those changes.

In dealing with today’s buyer in our area, I would suggest the following list of must-haves (in no certain order of importance):

1. Master-planned Community: In our area, the developer of a community is many times more important than the actual floor plan or builder of the home. It is easier to change the home to fit your needs than to try to change your community. Choose wisely as this can affect your future sales price and time on the market. Buyer’s who plan to stay only a few years will chose the community with the best schools and best track record for resale. In short, where you buy may be more important than what you buy!

2. Large Kitchens: I agree with this one as it is still a hot item and builders continue to provide incredible choices. Large islands and warm, stained cabinetry with custom touches are all the rage.

3. Granite counters: Yes, granite still rules. I know there are many alternative choices out there but none that compete with cool, hard granite. Buyers love that it is natural and hardy. Perhaps in the Loop Cement, Stainless Steel and other modern materials are desired, but in the ‘burbs, Granite rules.

4. Stainless appliances: still the top choice for today’s buyer but of course, this can be limited by the buyer’s budget. Black is very complimentary to many kitchen designs and we still see White but not often. As for energy efficient models, most builders include this at all price ranges. At the top tier custom level, you see professional grade appliances including warming trays, double convention ovens, convection microwaves and more.

5. Downstairs Master Suite: I realize that those from the North prefer to sleep upstairs so they can open the windows at night and enjoy a cool, gentle breeze. However, down in Houston we live in a much different climate where most days windows are sealed shut and the A/C is blasting cool air to keep us cool and control humidity in our homes. We like a downstairs bedroom because it keeps the kids and their noise and clutter out of sight and away from our tranquil retreat.

6. Study/Home office: this room has taken over the formal living space in almost all but the upper price ranges. People live a more casual lifestyle in our area and this floor plan choice reflects the need for home office space that is functional and not just pretty.

7. 3-car Garage: There are several reasons people request more than the standard 2 car garage: we do not have basements and limited attic space, many homeowners use their garage for storage and we live in a very family-oriented area with lots of teens of driving age and need the space for that extra car(s). Some builders offer tandem or stacked garages as an alternative to three full bays. This is fine but can affect resale if buyer does not want to do the old car shuffle when parking 3 vehicles.

8. Media Rooms: this feature started appearing in custom homes and worked it’s way down to the production homes about 5 years ago and is still a very popular feature. Many builders are adding upstairs mini-kitchens with microwaves, sinks and refrigerators. I do not see this item going away any time soon.

9. Hard Flooring: choices today are leaning away from carpet and toward wood and tile. 3″ wood planks are being replaced with larger planks and are more often hand-scraped and dark. Tile is best if larger than 12″ and many times laid in diagonal designs with natural stone or very elegant stone-like porcelain.

10. Pool-friendly Yards/Outdoor living spaces: Our climate lends itself to long, warm summers with nice breezes… perfect for cooking in our outdoor kitchen and diving into your crystal blue pool. Even if you do not plan to install a pool, it is wise to buy a home with sufficient backyard space to handle a private pool so it is easier to sell later. If you do install a pool, be sure your design matches your home in detail and price range. Popular pool items include: spa, water features, rock features, fire features, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces.

If you are thinking about building a new home, you may want to keep these popular features in mind. No, you do not have to select any of them but if you need to sell in the immediate future, your buyer may want them and that can hit your bottom line.


Katy makes the Gadberry Group’s top 5 position!

January 8, 2010

 

Group, renowned supplier of Household Level Geo-Demographics names their nine most notable high-growth areas in the nation from 2009 and guess what, our wonderful Katy is number 5. Click here to view the entire report.

Katy, Texas

Katy was one of the Top 25 candidates in 2008 and occupies the number five position in this year’s list. The area is second for absolute household change, adding 15,699 households since 2000, and was third for percent household change, increasing from 6,585 households in 2000 to 22,284 households in 2008, or 238%.

Katy tied with Mansfield for highest percentage of children compared to total population at 42%. It is also the most ethnically diverse of this year’s places, with no ethnic group having less than 6% of total households and all major ethnic groups growing more than 150% since 2000.

Those of us who live, work and play in Katy, TX are not surprised. Our growth has remained strong and constant. We are consistently recognized as one of the hottest real estate markets in the Greater Houston Area (which is also one of the hottest in the US).

Why Katy, you ask? What has led to this amazing growth? We have wonderful master-planned communities, terrific access to thoroughfares for your commute to work, close proximity to the huge energy corridor (a major employer in our area), one of the strongest school systems in the State, constantly growing retail, entertainment, dining, shopping opportunities and now, we are currently developing into a major medical area know as the Med-Center West.

So many reasons to love living here… and it is great to be given this national recognition. If you would like to know more about our area, please visit my web site www.ChristiBorden.com  or give me a call 832-368-5953.