Stage Your Hampton Roads Home On a Budget

Teenage boy's messy room. Tilt shift lens, with focus on pillow & comforter

Here are 10 economical ways to stage your home for sale:

Remove all clutter, personal photos, knickknacks and other junk. “Cleaning out the clutter just creates so much space, and that’s what people are looking for — space,” Matzke says. “It just really makes your home look bigger and younger.”

Edit your furniture. If your rooms are crowded, consider putting bigger and less attractive pieces of furniture in storage. This will open up space and make your home look larger. Make sure there is nothing obscuring buyers’ eyes from focal points, such as fireplaces and views.

Clean, clean, clean – then clean some more. Wash the windows, clean the cobwebs out of the corner and scrub the grout in the tile floors. Even though you’re not selling the furniture, clean that as well because it adds to the overall impression you’re trying to give.

Spruce up the outside. Add a new doormat, new house numbers and maybe a new mailbox. Paint the front door. The little stuff matters here.

Refresh your landscape. Clean up flower beds, add fresh mulch and plant flowers. Make sure bushes are trimmed and neat.

Paint. In some cases, you’d be wise to paint the entire house inside and out. In other cases, touching up and painting the trim might be enough. Paint over your kids’ purple walls with a neutral color. If your kitchen cabinets look old and dated, paint those. You can never go wrong with white, cream or brown, but you should pick a color that matches the rest of the kitchen decor.

Clean or replace light fixtures and cabinet hardware. “It’s not a really expensive undertaking, but it really makes a difference in how the home is presented,” Matzke says.

Don’t forget the small stuff. Pay attention to details, says Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “New, matching towel sets in the bathroom, accent pillows on the couch and fresh flowers can be welcoming elements to a homebuyer,” she says.

If you can afford it, replace old carpeting. If your home has hardwood floors underneath, that’s even better. Ideally, you should refinish wood floors but even just exposing them is good, Matzke says.

Make sure each room has a defined purpose. If you’ve turned your dining room into an office, return it to dining room status, Matzke says. But Chris suggests putting up tent cards that say “Dining Room or Office” to point out alternative uses for the space. That would also work in a bedroom you’re using as an office.


5 Reasons Your Virginia Beach Home May Not Be Selling

Having trouble selling your home? It may be because of one of these reasons.

1. You have unrealistic expectations

 Steady, moderate price appreciation in real estate used to be all but guaranteed. It wasn’t unrealistic to buy a house for $250,000 and then earn a tidy profit of $100,000 or more by selling it seven or eight years later.

You can no longer count on that. The housing market has recovered in many cities, but that doesn’t mean the value of your home has inflated by 40% or more since you bought it.

The top reason a home doesn’t sell: It’s simply overpriced.

“Price point is crucial, and if you don’t price it properly, you’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot,” says Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist for the National Association of Realtors.

Your first step: Examine comparable homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold and price accordingly. That could still mean you’ll take a loss if you bought your home before the housing bubble popped.

If you’re unwilling to price it right in the first place, then consider incremental drops in price over a period of time.

2. You made a bad first impression

Presentation is critical, and anything that looks old or shabby will need some polishing.

Make the small repairs to put your house in its best condition. Potential buyers will notice a loose, creaking door, running toilet or broken window blind.

Pay close attention to curb appeal by beautifying the front of your home. Refinishing a front door and sprucing up your garden can help make a great first impression.

You’ll also want to thoroughly clean your house for each and every showing.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t make their beds, fully clean their bathrooms or have dishes in the sink,” says Kathy Braddock, co-founder of Rutenberg Realty in New York City. “(Little things) can leave an impression with people. They want to feel they can live there.”

You also should have professional photos taken of your staged house along with a solid online presentation. The first time many buyers will see your home will be on their smartphone or laptop.

3. Your house is outdated

Homes with outdated kitchens, bathrooms and amenities might take longer to sell or sell at a lower price. You might need to make some upgrades, but be realistic with your budget and time.

Sinking $30,000 into a new kitchen in an old home to boost its appeal is a terribly risky investment because the average homeowner will not recoup the cost.

Remodeling Magazine found homeowners typically recoup 61% of their remodeling costs when they sell.

The most valuable home improvements include entry door replacement, siding replacement and adding a deck.

Some of the worst upgrades: Remodeling a home office (recoups 43%), adding a sunroom (46%) and adding a bathroom (54%).

4. You tried selling the home yourself

Some people can successfully sell their home on their own. But others make big mistakes in pricing and presentation that leave their property to languish on the market for months or years.

If you’re trying to sell your house by yourself and aren’t having any luck, a good real estate agent can help expedite the sale.

You’ll give up some money on the commission. The percentage is negotiable, but expect to pay 5% or more of your selling price to the real estate agent.

Agents sell homes for a living, so they’re going to know a lot more than you.

They’ll not only be able to present and price your home properly, they’ll be able to market it to a larger audience than you would yourself.

And when it comes time to show a home, they can work with the potential buyers and take emotion out of the equation.

5. You’re making it personal

Some homes don’t sell because the buyers are reluctant to depersonalize the property.

Prepping your home to make it sell isn’t about what you want, it’s about what the buyer wants.

You’ll want to take some of the personal taste out of your house and try to create a neutral environment that can appeal to a wide range of people. It could mean removing some furniture, odd wall art or personal items around the house.

You’ll also want to paint over any odd paint colors. In general, you want your home to appear big, uncluttered and neutral.

A potential seller wants to be able to visualize the home as their own, not necessarily the way you want it.

Pets and evidence of smoking can also be big detractors.


Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tip

Spring Cleaning Your Social Media

  • Facebook

o   Set aside a few minutes to scroll through your news feed.  Some posts may seem irrelevant or annoying…you can hide these stories!

o   Hover to the top right of that person or fan page’s post and you have several options to choose from.

o   Selecting “Unfollow” will remove the posts from your news feed now and ongoing, but you will still “like” the fan page or be “friends” with the person.

  • Linkedin

o   Same first bullet as above.

o   Also hover to the top right and simply see “hide”

o   You can hide a post from a connection, a company page you follow, or sponsored ad!


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4 Easy-to-Follow Tips For Buying A Home This Spring

Spring time is known to be the busiest time of year in the real estate industry. As the temperature rises not only do we see blossoming flowers and the signs of life returning to nature, we also see a dramatic increase in the number of homes hitting the market, as well as a larger number of potential home buyers looking to find their perfect match. Tips for selling a home is often covered, but if you’re a buyer, there are a few things you may want to do for success this spring.

It has never been more important to hire a real estate agent than in today’s market. It is crucial that you hire someone who is experienced in many types of transactions. You deserve to have a professional representing your best interests throughout the entire buying process. A buyer’s agent will help you with your home search, required contractual paperwork, negotiations, inspections, and any other concerns that may come up. A good tour guide understands market trends and how those trends will affect your personal real estate needs. Remember, it will cost you nothing to hire a buyer’s agent; the seller of your new home will pay their commission, so you have nothing to lose.

2. Understand Your Financial Profile and Get Pre-Approved For a Home Mortgage
If you’re looking to buy a house you’ve probably prepared a budget in order to determine how much you are comfortable spending on a new place. And while that is a good place to start, the reality is that the world of home financing has changed dramatically in recent years. Obtaining a home mortgage is harder today than it has been a very long time, which means you may not be qualified to borrow as much money as you think. Before you go out and tour any homes, you should meet with a mortgage specialist to determine an accurate budget and then follow the steps necessary to gain pre-approval for a loan. If you are pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer, you will not be considered a “wannabe” buyer. The result is that the home seller is much more likely to entertain your bid.

3. Prioritize Your Needs and Wants
Home buyers’ needs vary for many reasons. Families with children want to live near good school systems and they tend to want bigger yards and outdoor play areas. People who are devoted to their careers will pay more attention to the ease of their commute. Single people tend to seek out places that offer a certain level of entertainment and proximity to other unmarried residents. Likewise, retirees are concerned about the vicinity of local hospitals and perhaps, recreational activities like golf. As a home buyer you should have a solid understanding of your own needs. Make a checklist and prioritize the items on that list; what do you need vs. what do you want? Understand that your list will shift and change based on your budget constraints and market trends. And remember that when you buy a house, you are also buying the neighborhood.

Typically, when people think about competition in the real estate industry, they envision a group of home owners competing to sell their houses. But sellers are not the only ones who experience competition. As a buyer you need to be prepared to compete for your dream house. Bidding wars are on the rise so you need to always lead with your best foot forward. The days of under bidding on a house are over. If you decide to make an offer, make it a good one! Work with your agent to think of unique ways to propel yourself above other buyers. Perhaps you could offer the sellers an extra day to move out, or if needed, you could rent the house back to the sellers until they are ready to leave. There are many ways create additional incentives with your offer.


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What To Expect When Buying A Short Sale Property

For a home buyer, a short sale can be an excellent opportunity to purchase a new home at a steal of a price. However, if the low price tag is the only thing that the home buyer considers when browsing for short sales, they will soon find themselves surrounded by a collection of issues that can make closing on a short sale seem like an esoteric possibility. Anyone shopping for a short sale property needs to ask the question, “What should I expect when buying a home that’s the result of a short sale?”

Here are several factors for home buyers in the market for a short sale to consider:

The seller cannot conduct a short sale if they have filed for bankruptcy

A short sale is considered to be a collection activity; a successfully filed bankruptcy requires that all collection activities must cease. This means that the short sale deal will be a non-starter from the very beginning. Most homeowners don’t know this, and lenders do not always find out about the bankruptcy before approving the short sale, so buyers should ask if the homeowner has filed for bankruptcy up front.

Buyers should make sure that the seller has actually defaulted first
Sometimes a seller will market their home as a short sale without understanding the process involved. Distressed homeowners will often attempt a short sale before having defaulted on their loans. When this happens, the deal is automatically rejected.

Is there a second mortgage on the property?
Find out before getting too far into the transaction, because the second-lien holder may not play ball. If the purchase price isn’t enough to pay off both loans, the second mortgage holder isn’t obligated to relinquish its second lien position. In such cases a short sale can be a non-starter.

A large percentage of short sales are fixer-uppers
If a homeowner does not have the funds to pay the mortgage and keep their home, chances are that they have not been able to afford to maintain it. This means that home buyers are rolling the dice with short sales. Both thorough home inspections and total repair estimates should be done before closing on a short sale.

Understand that you could face long waits and a lot of red tape
Even after the lender has agreed to it, a short sale must go through a lengthy approval process that can cause it to take months before the buyer is brought to the table to close the deal. Due to this factor, anyone who is looking to close on a new home as soon as possible should think twice before pursuing a short sale.

Buying a short sale is a great possibility for those with the knowledge — and the patience to get the deal done. But knowing all the risks beforehand can help new home buyers avoid a lot of pain and frustration.


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3 Tips for Selling Your Virginia Beach Home This Spring

Spring is in the air and that means home buying season is ramping up. We asked agents and interior designers from around the country for tips to help sellers make their homes stand out on the market. Here are the top three things they shared that you can pass along to your clients.

First impression is key

  • Make sure the home has curb appeal. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to get buyers excited — even before they step inside the home.
  • To get the biggest return on investment, focus on smaller projects. Top recommended projects include landscaping, entrance, patio/porch and sidewalk. “A fresh and clean entrance goes a long way to establishing a positive first impression,” says Valencia, Calif. agent Cyndi Lesinski.


  • Sounds simple, but it’s one of the most important things to do before selling. Chris Speicher recommends minimizing the amount of furniture and removing personal belongings to make the home feel more spacious.

Design and stage for the masses

  • Use neutral wall colors to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. New carpet and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for refreshing a home, suggests Kevin Lisota. At a minimum, swap out knob-style cabinet hardware for lever-style handles.
  • Staging is a great way to attract buyers. Agents recommend staging the home when it’s vacant and before professional photos are taken. Lisota adds that staging a home can make it easier for buyers who would otherwise have trouble envisioning the space.


Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tips

Designate a Marketing Day

  • Pick one day each week to spend at least a few hours applying new marketing strategies.
  • Look for new opportunities that are easily missed due to your hectic schedule.
  • Schedule posts or statuses for social media so the rest of the week you can do other work.


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