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Archive: May 2017


  • 5 Critical Steps


    Whether your prospective residents have decided to sell their homes now or they are just starting to think about testing the waters, there are a handful of important steps they’ll need to take to get their homes ready for showings and maximize the return on the sale.

    1) Enlist a Qualified Real Estate Agent

    Most sellers opt to list their homes with a real estate agent versus For Sale By Owner, and therefore choosing the right one is a serious business. A good agent has exceptional experience, training, local market knowledge, connections, negotiating ability, and legal expertise — while also being enjoyable to work with. Researching and screening agents is time consuming, but doing the homework prior to listing the home saves time, money, and effort down the road.

    Moving Station has a full-time staff dedicated to finding experienced real estate agents in your prospective resident’s local market area, managing their work, and continuously tracking their performance. Our counselors are professionally trained and stay informed on the market trends in selling residential real estate. They complete hundreds of transactions a year and are dedicated to their customers; they know how to measure quality and consistently deliver exceptional home sale results.

    2) Evaluate the Home’s Curb Appeal

    The maxim “you don’t get a second chance at a first impression” is never truer than with a home for sale. A freshly painted door, sharp landscaping, swept driveways, and clean roof and gutters are crucial to prospective buyers’ impressions. If they drive up to a home that appears run-down, they’ll drive on to the next property on their list without entering to see what the interior has to offer. Potted plants and other decorations lend a charming character to the exterior and can make it stand out from others in the neighborhood. Keeping the backyard tidy is just as important, so gardening tools, lawn furniture, and other items should be neatly organized and in their proper places. At night, exterior lighting makes the home look welcoming and illuminates the house numbers so they’re visible from the street. Leaving a few lights on inside the house adds to the overall glow.

    3) Put on Some Makeup, but Don’t Get a Facelift

    Homeowners always ask whether renovating a kitchen or adding a bath pays for itself at the time of sale. The return on investment is limited by the extent of the renovation. Simply updating or even upgrading a few elements of the home will not significantly increase its value. The seller’s efforts should instead focus on minimizing dated decor. If the budget allows, removing wallpaper and repainting the house in modern colors is one way to avoid presenting a house that feels like a “project”. Effective and inexpensive improvents include cleaning and stretching the carpeting and completing the minor fixes on the “honey-do” list, such as replacing burnt-out bulbs, cleaning the windows, dusting the light fixtures, repairing torn screens, fixing squeaky hinges, etc. The goal is to allow prospective buyers to appreciate the features of the home without being distracted by the little things that need attention.

    4) Minimize Personal Effects

    Putting and keeping a home in “market-ready condition” is one key to getting and maintaining the interest of prospective buyers. Clutter is the enemy of effective marketing photos and successful in-person showings. Counters, vanities, tables, and other furniture should be clear of personal effects. Bookcases, cabinets, and closets should not be overstuffed. Sellers are often advised to pack away their collections and family photos — not out of security concerns but rather because the prospective buyers need the opportunity to imagine their own lifestyle and belongings within the home. For much the same reason, furniture should be arranged to encourage entry into each room. Sellers want buyers to remember the size and usefulness of the home, not the big couch blocking the way or the hunting trophies mounted on the wall.

    5) Don’t Procrastinate

    It is rare that a neighborhood market is in such high demand that just putting up the sign is enough to gain attention from buyers. Taking the time to see the home through a buyer’s eyes before the home enters the market is one of the most effective ways to entice an offer. The first few weeks the home is on the markets makes the most lasting impression of its appeal. Allowing showings before the home is ready might leave a poor impression that’s hard to overcome.

    Helping your future residents prepare for the task of selling the home is a challenge. They’ve built a life and raised a family there, and every corner of the home has special memories. Without skilled guidance, your prospective residents may find the process overwhelming. Through our Home Sale and Home Purchase Programs, Moving Station’s Real Estate Counselors assist you and your future residents in navigating the course toward selling the home at the right price and within the desired time frame.

  • Managing Expectations of Home Value


    Many homeowners have a great deal of pride of ownership for their homes that have been lovingly tended to for many years. Unfortunately, many of these homes are also in original condition, or updates may have been made some 15-20 years ago. The true market value of these homes, as a result, can fall short of lofty expectations, making it a challenge to convert a prospect to a resident. It’s therefore crucial to carefully and sensitively manage those expectations from the outset. Conveying a sense of what buyers in the owner’s neighborhood are looking for – and what they are willing to pay for it – is a first step that can’t be overlooked. To accomplish this, three important factors should be understood:

    1) The Market is Local and Current

    Appraisers, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders can predict the likely market value of a home by examining the performance of similar properties within the neighborhood sold within the last 6 to 12 months. Real estate activity is ruled not just by supply and demand, but also by all of the dynamic economic factors that color a buyer’s readiness and ability to purchase. These factors are ever-changing, so reviewing only the most recent activity is relevant to the task at hand.

    2) Generalizations About Real Estate are Misleading

    News items about a “hot market” seldom deliver useful information. Some markets are active, some types of property are in strong demand, and some price points are appealing to certain segments of the industry. It’s very rare that these stories relate specifically to the customer’s home.

    Similarly, the performances of other types of financial holdings are not a reliable indicator of residential real estate prices. Rising and falling prices of gold or stocks and bonds exert no effect on the buying decisions of 99% of the home shoppers active in the market. Accordingly, applying a standard rule or general formula related to historic appreciation rates or the average price-per-square-foot seen in the marketplace fails to predict a buyer’s reaction to the home being offered for sale.

    3) Value is Driven by Buyers

    The popularity of television programming focused on home buying, selling, and renovations is a reflection of the trends emerging over the past decade toward consumer preferences for the latest in upgrades and updates. Even modestly priced homes often feature high-quality finishes such as granite or marble, stainless steel appliances, luxurious master suite amenities, large closets, and custom decorating.

    These “value drivers” aren’t limited to just the quality and cosmetics of the interior. Open floor plans, large family living areas, sufficient garage space, attractive outdoor living amenities, and low-maintenance landscaping are popular in many markets. Not to be forgotten is the importance of location, as well as the overall size, condition, and functionality of the home.

    Understanding a neighborhood’s “value drivers” includes an objective assessment of the home’s conformity to the other homes that recently sold nearby. Trends can be identified where most of the sales featured a number of common elements, such as finished basements, pools, or gleaming hardwood floors. These conforming trends establish what prospective buyers find appealing and at what price.

    Managing the Homeowner Expectations

    The customer usually has a general notion of the value of the home, though typically this is not based on an objective review of the features and condition of the neighborhood market. The best approach is to:

    1) Ask the question “for how much do you think the home would sell today?”

    2) “Tell me about your house.” How many beds, baths, garage bays?

    How much above-grade living space (sq.ft.)? How long have you owned,

    what’s been remodeled, and when? Remember that most owners love to talk about their home; they’ve been living there for years. It’s not an interrogation, it’s a conversation.

    3) Using the information at hand, invite the homeowner to review some internet market data with you. If the customer said the home was worth $200,000, use a website like or to search for homes in their neighborhood that are currently for sale between 90% and 110% of the target value. Ask them to review the pictures you find and elicit their comments on how their home compares to what else is being offered on the market. Are they bigger or smaller, more updated/upgraded or the same? Do they share a specific style or “curb appeal” with the customer’s home, or not? The same exercise could be done with homes recently sold in that same price range.

    4) Ask the question “if 123 Main Street is available for $200,000, do you think a buyer would likely pay more or less for your house, and why?”

    5) Practice this with your own home or one you know well so you learn how to navigate the search engines and efficiently filter the results. Time and practice will help build an understanding of how to recognize the “value drivers” among various price points and neighborhoods.

    The goal of this exercise is not to establish the property’s value, but to get the customer thinking objectively about their home and see it as a prospective buyer would. It’s worth noting that 95% of all home buyers begin their search for a new home utilizing these very websites – looking at pictures, reading the descriptions, and checking out the locator maps – before they ever call a real estate agent to set up a showing.

    The goal of this exercise is not to establish the property’s value, but to get the customer thinking objectively about their home and see it as a prospective buyer would. It’s worth noting that 95% of all home buyers begin their search for a new home utilizing these very websites – looking at pictures, reading the descriptions, and checking out the locator maps – before they ever call a real estate agent to set up a showing.

    The short version:

    •Value is a buyer’s domain.

    •Look at the home and the choices available in the neighborhood market through a

    buyer’s eyes.

    •If selling the home is crucial to the customer’s decision to move, a realistic

    expectation speeds that prospect toward becoming a resident.

    Your Moving Station Real Estate Counselor is in place to help you navigate these conversations with your prospective residents. Every day, we have similar discussions with home owners to help them become successful home sellers. Having an honest conversation about home value is not always fun, but it is important toward helping your prospect become your resident, and that is why we are here to serve you.