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Getting High Payoffs from Time Spent at an Open House

Monday, February 10th, 2014

As many agents learn after getting their real estate license, an open house can play a vital part in the process of selling a home. In a large number of cases, the eventual buyer was in attendance at the open house, and developed their initial impression of the property at that event. Therefore, it is critical that any open home you host is well prepared and thought out, and executed flawlessly to ensure those looking to buy a home are captivated and remember this home as one they want to live in. When it comes to planning the perfect open home, there are several things to keep in mind.

When you are the agent in charge hosting the open house, it is essential that you can find balance between being friendly and helpful without being overly pushy. You need to realize that potential home buyers want their own space to look around the home, and may feel uncomfortable if they are led or followed around. A viewer is more likely to develop a positive feeling from a home if they feel comfortable and relaxed from the minute they enter. It is important for potential buyers to feel that they can open cupboards, drawers, closets and really explore the house, and they may be reluctant to do so if they feel they are being watched.

However, it’s also important to note that some viewers will require more assistance than others. While some people may be happy to wander around the property at their own pace, others will be interested to hear about the history of the home, what the neighborhood is like, why the current owners are selling and more. When a potential client enters the home, you will need to determine whether they want to explore the property on their own or whether they require more guidance by simply asking and gauging their response.

Regardless of whether potential buyers want to hear from you or not, it is essential that you have plenty of printed information about the features of the home. As people often visit several open homes in one day, it can be difficult to remember which house was which. By having a fact sheet handy that prospective buyers can take with them (including your contact details of course), they will have a permanent reminder of this house and its best qualities. There’s no such thing as too much information, so be sure to include community brochures, maps of the neighborhood, school guides and anything else you can think of. People will take as much or as little as they need.

Finally, open houses can become very busy. It is important that you are able to find the time to greet and speak to each person who visits the home, so that you can welcome them, offer assistance, ask any questions and provide your contact information. It may sound strange, but locking the door to the home is actually an effective way of achieving this – you will have to physically greet each person who shows up, and this gives you a great chance to provide them with the necessary information and ensure that they feel at home.

Guest Contributor: Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding waves he writes about Maine Houses for Rent for RentFinder.com.

Digging Deeper Pays Off

Friday, January 17th, 2014

As a Real Estate Professional, helping clients find what they’re looking for always begins with questions. Some clients have a very specific vision, while others are open to a range of options. However prepared the client is, RE professionals need to spend time interviewing the client.

It begins with the standard questionnaire. Some RE professionals work in firms with prepared forms that guide them through a set of questions designed to get an outline of client needs. Others may design their own line of inquiry. These questions should form the basic level of understanding, and often include items like:
• Price range
• Building and lot size
• Room and bathroom number and type
• “Specials” – garage, pool, etc
• Area or neighborhood preference

These are a great starting point, but to best serve our clients, we should never be satisfied with the standard questionnaire. The next level of questioning should get more personal. Some examples may be:
• What items or features do you need? And what do you want?
• What missing item or present flaw would be a deal breaker?
• What style (modern, classic, rustic, etc) best suits you?

Encouraging clients to expand on their lifestyle and aesthetic can help you narrow down some options and help you isolate apparent complications, contradictions, or limitations for even further investigation.

If the client wants a modern house in a downtown where most of the inventory is turn-of-the-century townhomes, there could be a problem. Are they open to renovation? Could they shift to a newly built or rebuilt neighborhood? Would a modern condo in an up-and-coming section be a possibility? Would a classic design with modern upgrades bridge the gap?

How they envision using a ‘must-have’ feature can really open the door to the details.

Take a client that insists on a large yard: If it’s for kids, what about a smaller yard near a park, one with a pre-existing playset, or by a well-kept neighborhood green space? If it’s for dogs, what about a neighborhood with dog-friendly trails of a smaller yard that’s fully fenced? For privacy, would a well-established hedge or high fence, a dead-end road lot, or wooded property line work? For gardening, would a community garden, a glassed-in porch or greenhouse, raised beds, or a Grow Food Not Lawns set-up do the trick?

The key is to dig deeper. Ask specific and leading questions. Explore options based on the local market and inventory. Sometimes clients need help homing in from a broad perspective. Sometimes they need help breaking out of a too-narrow mindset. Sometimes they just need to figure out how their needs and wants fit into the existing possibilities so they can re-evaluate their plans and adjust accordingly. Going past the basic questionnaire and opening up the conversation gives Real Estate Professionals and clients alike the information they need to reach their common goal: a closed contract and a set of keys.

Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

About Tom DavidsonTom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.

‘Tis the Season for Continuing Education!

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Winter is unavoidably the real estate doldrums. Everything, from the school calendar, holidays, family visits, freezing temperatures, and icy conditions, just makes the prospect of buying or selling a home and moving
increasingly unappealing.

Naturally, there is always some business: there are people who don’t have the luxury of waiting, who want to take advantage of a current opportunity, and others who brave the cold, but for the most part, winter is the slow season, and RE professionals are likely to have a lot more free time on their hands.

Time for a nice long vacation… or NOT.

Winter is the BEST time for Real Estate Education. Whether you are considering obtaining additional licenses, like becoming a Broker or Appraiser, have your bi-annual or post-licensure continuing education requirement to complete, or are just breaking into the business and want to be ready to start this spring, there is no better time to get in school than now.

An online Real Estate School is the most convenient, efficient, and cost effective way to achieve your personal real estate education goals.

The classes are flexibly designed to work with any time constraints and work around any scheduling issues. So whatever else you have going on, your classes are always ready and waiting: day or night, a few hours here and there or full-time hours, or even a massive marathon session.

Online schools save time, travel, gas, paper, and more. There is no wait, no excess materials cost, no commute, and no one telling you when where and how to do school. You can log on relaxing in bed, or while making miles on the treadmill, waiting at the doctor’s office, or playing study materials and lectures on audio instead of music in the home, car, or anywhere. Your class is on the go and on your devices, wherever you have internet access.

The winter downtime can be your GO TIME! Start today and make the slow season your time to build, grow, learn, and achieve, with online real estate education.

Want to find out if you have what it takes to be a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

About Tom DavidsonTom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.

Having trouble selling a home? 6 tips to speed up the home selling process!

Friday, January 10th, 2014

We all go through the home selling process with high hopes. We imagine holding open houses and having a lot of interested buyers. Optimistically, we expect to sell our property within the month. However, this is not always the case. At times, a home will sit on the market longer than anticipated. You may have listed your property during a bone dry market or you have unappealing features, such as price or location.

Whatever the reason may be, there are ways to improve your home’s ability to sell. Below we discuss common reasons why your home may not be selling and suggested a few improvements to help you.

1. Know Your Market

One of the most common reasons a home may not sell is because it is priced too high. Emotional attachment tends to make sellers over-price homes and most sellers want to make back the original purchase price, plus renovation expenses. Unfortunately, you have to go with what the market in which your area dictates. Get a list of comparable homes and price your house competitively.

2. Fixer-Uppers are Hard to Sell

More and more buyers these days are looking for move-in ready homes that need few repairs and updates. This doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands remodeling before you sell, but it does mean that you should avoid letting your home look like a “fixer.” Try painting or refinishing cabinets to make them look updated. Landscaping, fixing damaged areas, and painting are some things you can do to make your home fresh and inviting.

3. It’s All About Location

The location of a home can be a big problem for many buyers. Unfortunately, it is a problem that is impossible to fix. Obviously, you cannot move your house away from the freeway or evict the noisy neighbors. Instead, advertise the good things about your location – broadband access, nearby amenities, and other positive points. Consider a privacy fence, landscaping difficult hills, or taking other measures to enhance unsightly surroundings.

4. Make Buyers Comfortable

Potential buyers are not likely to have the same tastes as you and probably won’t appreciate all of your precious family memories. When you are decorating a  house that is for sale, try to imagine a place that anyone could live. Keep things neutral, simple and uncluttered. Even though it is still your home, you want the buyer to feel like  it is their home as well.

5. Think Style When Decorating

In correspondence with making buyers comfortable, you want to make sure the overall theme of your home is neutral. Loud wallpapers, gaudy carpet, or wild paint schemes might put off buyers. Peruse some booklets at your local home center to get sense of trendy, yet muted color schemes and décor ideas. You don’t need to spend a lot redecorating, but some new paint and a nice slip cover over the tacky sofa might give you the edge you need.

6. Be Available

Buyers have schedules to work around just like you. Being picky about viewing times might be enough to lose a sale. Consider working with an agent that can show your home even if you are not available, keep your house ready to view and learn to expect the unexpected.

To successfully sell your home think of potential buyers the same way you would about a job interview or a first date. Your home needs to put its best foot forward in order to be competitive with comparable homes in the area. Follow these 6 guidelines and you will be one step closer to selling your home!


About Guest Author Wendy Papasan:  Wendy Papasan is the owner and Realtor at Papasan Real Estate Team with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas. Connect with her team on Facebook.

Interested in contributing real estate material to RealEstateExpress.com’s blog? Please contact Sara Smith at Sara@ExpressSchools.com.

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