First-Time Sellers

St. JosephThere is no way to spin it – the Lansing area is experiencing a Buyer’s Market.  There are a lot of homes competing for every buyer’s attention.  If you need to sell your home it isn’t going to be as easy as slapping a for sale sign in the front yard and sitting back to watch the offers role in.  But don’t panic.  A fair sale isn’t impossible and you won’t even need the help of St. Joseph.

You just need to embrace the fact that selling a home takes some elbow grease and a willingness to be realistic.

The first thing you’re going to have to be realistic about is the exterior appearance of your home.  Don’t pretend that a buyer isn’t going to see the flaking paint, dead grass and cracked driveway.  Be realistic about the problems and fix everything you can. (more…)


Here is a problem two of my sellers have experienced recently.  Hopefully someone can benefit from their stories…

When they moved to Lansing a few years ago they didn’t know much about the local real estate market and they wrongly assumed that what was normal back home was also normal in Lansing.

The first case was a couple from Toronto who moved to Lansing and wanted to start flipping homes.  They bought a cute little bungalow on a nice street and renovated the home from top to bottom.  They did beautiful work.  The craftsmanship was perfect and all of the colors, materials and finishes they used were widely appealing.  By the time I met the couple they were already finished with all the work on the home and they had had the house listed with another agent for over 6 months.  They had no offers and obviously no sale.  What was the problem? (more…)

About six months ago my broker purchased Visual Tour software that allows all tripod.jpgof the agents with my company to photograph their own virtual tours.  Getting my tours just right has taken some time to master, but I think I finally have the hang of it. 

Being able to film my own tours is a huge benefit to my sellers.  Who better to do the tour – Obviously I know more about the features of the house I want to highlight than anyone else. 

So check out this tour that I photographed today and please grade me.

It seems like home staging is all the rage, but professional staging hasn’t really hit the Lansing area yet.  Even without a pro there is a lot of basic staging you can do on your own.  These 9 tips I just saw from Lowe’s are a good place to start.

9 Tips for Staging Your Home on Your Own:

  1. First impressions count. Roll out the red carpet for potential homebuyers by sprucing up your entryways, especially the one on a lockbox. Welcome mats, planters filled with seasonal flowers, and clutter-free foyers and hallways set the stage.
  2. Sell the space, not your stuff. Remember that the goal of a successful showing is to make a prospect feel at home – like it’s theirs, not yours. Put away your extensive personal collections. Less is more: open up your space so prospects can actually see what they’re buying.
  3. Paint and elbow grease work wonders. Fresh paint and a thorough cleaning will give you the greatest “bang for your buck.” Remember that neutral walls are your best bet when staging a home for sale.  Lowe’s has all the right shades to make your home more inviting. Check out fun tools like the Lowe’s Paint Visualizer.
  4. Go with the flow. Arrange furniture for easy traffic flow. Consider placing a major piece of furniture at an angle, such as a couch or desk. Angles add interest and can create a more open feel.
  5. See the light. Move lamps to dark corners and arrange window treatments so that natural light floods your rooms. Brighter is better, and your rooms will look larger.
  6. Go green. Live plants can add decorative flair, without spending a bundle. Plants and cut flowers have a way of warming up a room.
  7. Don’t forget the outdoors, especially this time of year. If you have a porch, deck or patio, clean the furniture and replace worn cushions. Breath new life into your deck with a fresh finish.
  8. Make the kitchen sparkle. De-clutter the countertops by removing toasters, food processors and other non-decorative items. If you have a breakfast table or counter, put out a couple of table settings complete with place mats, napkins and dinnerware.
  9. Warm up an empty home. If your home is vacant, consider renting furniture for key rooms, but don’t go overboard.

I know this is an extensive list, but doing these things is actually important.  If you’re a seller and you can’t commit to everything on the list I’d suggest prioritizing by doing 3, 1, 2 and then 5.  After completeing those four steps you can move on to the rest.

When you’re a seller in a buyer’s market it can be hard to find a silver-lining.  Maybe the only good news is that Realtors are competing hard for any scrap of business they can find.  We’re competing harder and that means buyers and sellers are both getting better service.  With so many agents soliciting your business how do your chose one to sell your house, your biggest asset?

I think you should interview at least 3 agents (gasp, I’m advising you to check out the competition) and I think you should know what questions to ask during those interviews.  The 3 following questions aren’t the only ones you should ask, but they are questions you shouldn’t miss.

• What is your marketing plan?
Any agent worth hiring will have a marketing plan and they’ll have it in writing.  A few important things the plan should include are print advertising, an open house schedule and most importantly a plan to maximize your listing’s online presence.  More than 75% of buyers start their home searches online.  If your agent doesn’t have an online marketing plan that encompasses more than dropping your listing in the local MLS system you need to hire somebody else. 

• How much experience do you have?
Getting a real estate license in Michigan is easier than getting a driver’s license.  Make sure your agent knows how to get from taking a listing to closing a deal.  I’m not saying that you need to pick an agent who has been in the business for 25 years.  Newer agents often have fresher ideas, more time to spend on you and more drive to get a deal done so don’t discount them.  Just make sure your agent isn’t using you for practice.   

• Are you a full-time Realtor?
In a challenging market like we’re in now, if your agent isn’t working full time at their profession – don’t bother.

If you want to know more about what to look for in a quality listing agent just ask.

Anyone else out there an HGTV addict? 

If you’ve watched the show Designed to Sell you’ve met Donna & Shannon Freeman.  These tell-it-like-it-is real estate experts have a new book that anyone preparing to sell their house could benefit from. 

7 Steps to Sold shows you how to:

  • Give your house the competitive edge, even in a tough market.
  • Separate your emotional investment from your financial investment.
  • Select the right agent and protect your bottom line.
  • Employ the same marketing savvy and tools the pros use.
  • Think and feel like a “customer” so you can attract more buyers.
  • Enhance your return by allocating resources in the savviest way possible.
  • Turn home-selling anxiety into a fun and rewarding experience.

If you’re planning to sell anytime soon pick up a copy. 

If you’re planning to sell your home this summer you need to ask yourself, “Is my house ready to be scruitinized by potenial buyers?”

Whether you’re a first-time seller or a real estate vetran, you need to put some thought into preparing your home for the market.  High inventories in the Greater Lansing real estate market mean buyer’s have tons of homes to choose from.  If your property is going to be the one that stands out you probably need to make an effort to stage your home.  

Check out how to prep a house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home to get you started.