Flipping…

Well, these days you hardly get the ‘flip’ in before the house is grabbed in mid-air. ‘Toss’ is probably a better word. How about “Toss This House”. My goodness, there’s a mad rush for ‘existing’ homes all over the US, with each available home having many, many interested buyers. Multiple offers is the norm. I hate it.

Yep, I’m a real estate agent, but I also appreciate a fair, balanced market. This market supremely favors the wealthier buyers, and my first time buyers are literally shoved aside or intimidated out of even trying. My heart goes out to the excited buyers who have saved and worked on credit score, diligently trying to get out of the rental lifestyle into homeownership. I see, time after time, their optimism turning into disappointment, as their ability to offer above lists price and bring the difference to closing, kicks them out of the running. OR, they are reduced to shopping through the inventory of homes where you can see the ground through the floor, or where outdoor carpet has been flung onto the floor inside. It is ridiculous.

Here’s why this bothers me…in PART…why this bothers me. One day, and you know I am right, people who pay 10, 15, 20 thousand over list price are going to get stuck with that house when the market falls. Think about this: If you offer more than the appraised value right out of the gate and THEN the market falls (or crashes), then you need to sell? Oh boy. You will have to bring that extra you paid out BACK to the table again as the seller, and possibly more, just to be able to sell a home you now have to list BELOW market value. I’ve seen this happen; I lived through a market crash with people who HAD to sell for jobs or family reasons, cashing in tens of thousands of 401K dollars, just to get rid of their home. I understand this is a free market and all of that, and I am a capitalist. But I have also “lived in the future” to a great extent. I tend to view my life as today + ten years out. I’ve been pretty doggone accurate too. And I’ve found that things tend to work out somehow. But the number of home being sold above appraised value deeply concerns me. I’m going to be the one going to listing appointments and giving bad news time after time. I’ve done it; I don’t like it.

Anyway, I started out talking about my young buyers or firsts time buyers and how hard it is to see them getting cut from the running. I hate it and I don’t think it’s fair. So. House tossers. How about this? How about you try buying some smaller homes, putting fewer bells and whistles in them, and giving the entry level buyers a doggone chance?? Spend less on the downstroke…buy TWO! Make them cute and comfortable, safe and warm, and sell them at a price the entry level buyers can afford. And sell them to a owner, not an investor, and give them a chance. YOU had one; why not pay back the opportunity? I say you can spend less up front and still make a profit. In other words, my little first time buyers can live without granite and top of the line appliances. They know they can upgrade that stuff later.

Anybody? Anybody? It is not all about the money, is what I am saying. Man can’t live by bread alone. That’s not me; that came from somewhere else.

HELLO? IS ANYBODY THERE??

You know what I’m getting a lot of lately from listing agents? Nothing!

I’m a real estate agent, and some questions actually require a conversation. Let me give you an example. If you list an older doublewide, it has to have the right kind of foundation in order to qualify for an FHA loan. AND there are other requirements. Lots of them. How long has the current owner owned it? Was it a flip property? If it is, what will the profit be at the current list price? Do you have the HUD paperwork that came with the home? You know, stuff like that. Stuff that can keep MY buyer client from getting loan approval AND losing their due diligence because of your negligence. Yeah, lots of agents don’t know about this stuff. I’ve been through the wringer with agents who list a home as qualifying for FHA when it would NEVER qualify. BTW that instigates a PHONE CALL.

Nine times out of ten…NINE…nobody answers the phone. Everybody wants a text. Look, most of the time I get text messages first too, and I like that as well, but SOMETIMES, a buyer agent needs to have a CONVERSATION with you. Know how you can tell when those times come? THE PHONE RINGS. SOMETIMES it will take me longer to type the text message than a conversation takes, and you’ll have to call me anyway because you won’t understand what I’m asking for. And that’s if you even return my call. That’s ANOTHER story.

ANSWER YOUR FREAKING PHONE.

Oh that’s not cool, you say? Well listen up. There are a lot of wealthy older folks out there who not only don’t WANT to text, they don’t want to work with YOU if you don’t answer the PHONE. You’re not being cool and contemporary; you are losing business! And younger people get really upset if they don’t get instant answers. Here’s how it works: Ring ring! You say, “Hello?” It’s EASY. Give it a try.

I can hold a grudge. You don’t take my calls, wait until you call me and let’s see how that goes. I’M KIDDING. I answer my phone, I read my texts, I check voice mail, you know, I use the entire phone.

I’m not really angry; in fact I’m laughing. For now.

Modernizing the Look of Your Home

If you have read anything I’ve written, you know I have a hint of sarcasm in my vernacular. I can’t help it. If you take this life seriously, it will kill you. I have proof. One hundred percent of the dead people I know, died.

And I’m in real estate now, though my other life work was in science. When I had the corporate ‘personality profile’ done, the result that was that the ONLY thing keeping my job from being Nirvana, was the ‘people piece’. Science suited me to a tee, because of the analytical, data pieces, but I needed PEOPLE. Never would have believe it. Prior to that assessment, I thought my job was heaven. Troublemaker.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked in my wide eyed corporate brainwashed manner. I hate myself when I look back on how I took the brainwashing…though some of it shaped my life in a positive way. Like the ‘valuing diversity’ piece. That was true and right on point. Too bad they don’t teach THAT anymore.

BUT, the evaluator’s answer was about customer service, the face to face kind. I needed more PEOPLE in my life. I thought about that, and realized that in the course of a day, my ‘people’ were the ones who brought samples to the lab for me to analyze. Traffic was not what you’d call heavy. So yeah, I took that to heart, particularly in my second life, thrust upon me by a cheating ….you know.

I ended up…because I was over 50 and NOBODY wants to hire an over-fifty woman…in 1) retail, 2) house cleaning (my business); AND 3) real estate, as a way to survive. Three jobs, all involving PEOPLE. God, did I have PEOPLE.

People are mean in retail. Customers throw things on the counter, rather than placing them, they watch you like you’re trying to steal a penny as you scan the items, they accuse you of all KINDS of things, they throw things on dressing room floors and urinate on them….they steal in the MOST amazing ways. OMG. I with I had not taken THAT part time job. Retail changed my opinion of humanity as a whole. But I had people. People, people, people.

Then, house cleaning. Wow. Not going there AT ALL. And job three was real estate as the ‘foundation’ income. Three jobs, all people. See how karma works?

REAL ESTATE. All about ‘relationships. The good things is that I get a steady dose of the ‘people piece’ AND I get to use the data/analytical piece too. I actually do love that, most of the time. Like every other venue in life, there are good ones and not so good ones, but I try to remember that I AM PROBABLY one of the ‘not so good ones’ in somebody’s list too. Wouldn’t it be nice if that statement mattered to me. HAHAHA. Like I said: I’m over 50. Things don’t ‘stick’ like they used to. Listen, I TRY to be good. I really do. And most of the time I am. But like everyone else, somebody thinks I’m horrible. And I’m okay with that. Remember “I’m Okay; You’re Okay”? You don’t? Hahahah. Never mind then.

But what is the absolute best about the ‘people piece’ is that I get to meet all kinds of people, all the time, and I only do real estate now. So it’s like my lab once was, only with human specimens, and I get to see first hand how they handle stress, how they handle making choices, whether or not they can make a decision without someone holding their hand, how brave or willing to take risks they are, whether or not they listen when I speak about important things they need to know, whether or not they are kind, whether or not they have manners, whether or not they are grateful for their blessings…or not. I get to see whether they have to have every nut and bolt in the box before taking a step, or whether they build as they run. It’s amazing and fascinating. Every single person has something amazing to offer this world, even if you have to step back and search for it. Everyone has a reason for being, and everyone deserves to be ‘seen’ in that way.

Steve Jobs used to say, “Think different.” It sums up two reasons why I loved him. One: The idea…thinking like there IS no box; and Two: Grammar. Because you know that “Think different” means something entirely different than ‘Think differently’. And OMG yes, someone is whining that Steve Jobs didn’t actually COME UP with that slogan but WHO CARES? See how people are??

I know you think I’m wandering all over the place, but wait. I’m taking you to the point. I find that thinking different is antithetical to MOST people. For example: There’s a magnetic spice rack from Ikea that has round metal spice holders that stick to a magnetic square plate. Most people mount that on the WALL. I saw one mounted to the CEILING in a tiny house. THAT’S thinking different, people. That’s life without a box. Of course I loved the idea because that person was a GENIUS of creative thinking. At some point, one of the two people living there said, “Wait! Why don’t we put it HERE?” GENIUS! Most people…I’m saying 95% don’t have that. I’m developing it.

Think about this: How many closets have you seen where things are piled on the floor to the extent that they tumble out the door when you open it? And yet, the vertical space above the shelf the builder installed, goes unused. PUT UP SOME SHELVES, PEOPLE. PUT UP SOME SHELVES. USE THAT SPACE. See how that works? Think different. Look up! Look around!

Which brings me to the point. Told ya.

We are in the midst of so many ‘modernizing’ ideas. This or that will make your house so modern and desirable when you decide to sell. Well…here it comes, people…Mason Jar light fixture covers will NOT get your house sold. I can hear the wailing of the 5% now. And if you try to serve me tea in a jar when I visit, I’m going to assume you can’t afford actual glasses and MAYBE the tea bags were used once before. Somewhere, there’s a warehouse FULL of jars that need to be sold. At a profit. And there you go.

Remember that 95% of people don’t think outside that box? Well, there’s a 95% chance that they will be the ones looking to buy your house. Barn doors….not an efficient way to close off a bathroom, folks. Yeah, they’re different, but they are not private. And I mean private related to ALL senses, if you get my drift (and I used THAT word deliberately too). Sponge painting. Oh my gosh, please just don’t. Open shelving? For you, yeah, all day. For the majority of buyers, NOPE. Track lighting: kill me now. Remember that when you put your house on the market, you are going to HAVE to appeal to the 95%, the MAINSTREAM. So you’ll need to ‘de-individualize’.

Do things like new countertops, new, fresh, neutral paint, new appliances, new flooring, and by the way, Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring is hot and it will last into the future and actually BE a good selling point for your home. When you talk about how dark the pantry is, go to Home Depot and buy battery operated, motion sensor lighting. I use it in my pantry and I LOVE it. And by the way, PAINT THE PANTRY interior. It makes it cheerful and shows you can think different. And you will love it, by the way. Use the pantry door for storage. You can actually screw storage onto the pantry door, and that extra space is like a new dimension. You can fit EVERYTHING there.

Under the sinks: Please go search ‘creative under cabinet storage’ and BUY SOMETHING to make that space organized and neat. You will love using it and when you get ready to sell, so will your 95% buyers. I just finished putting up shelves and pegboard in my storage closet. I just stare at it. Who would think that organized storage could be SO BEAUTIFUL? And my 95% will love it too, when it’s time to sell.

Trends, people, TRENDS. “A current style or preference” is the definition. CURRENT. Means it will PASS. So, if your tendency is to go awry of the mainstream (admirable in most cases in my opinion), just remember that that special little sponge paint job can keep you from selling your house when you are ready to move.

And here’s the counterintuitive part. Hang on because this will twist your brain. Remember that the Mason Jar lights was the 5% out of the box thinkers? Well, it becomes TRENDY, and then the 95%-ers, who can’t think creatively, follow. So the jar thing becomes ‘trendy’. I know. But remember we’re taking about herd mentality here. Just remember that the ‘trend’ followed by the masses trying to be ‘modern’, will ABSOLUTELY pass and will have to be changed. Be ready for that. Remember Harvest Gold and Avacado? Didn’t think so. It passed. And so, thank GOD, will Mason Jar decoration.

It’s complicated. The best you can do is make your home YOUR home while you live there. But when you get ready to sell, PLEASE I BEG YOU, cut those emotional ties and just know that the special paint you have loved for thirty years is OLD and will not appeal to current buyers. Know that those precious JARS will need to go. You have to become ‘mainstream’ in order to sell. Unless a handyman comes along, or unless you want to drop the price by a LOT. Or unless you have an 800 square foot loft downtown.

Be proactive when you plan to sell and please, consult a real estate agent. Let the licensed real estate agent be the licensed real estate agent, and you be the client…and stop trying to know more than the trained, licensed expert knows. Because if you insist on driving that bus, your agent will let you, and then you get to deal with the result. I can’t tell you how many tens of thousands of dollars have been left on the table because sellers would NOT let to of their avocodo paint or grandma’s furniture. I’m shaking my head right now. Consult your real estate agent about this stuff, folks. And keep that 10K (or 100K as the case may be) in your pocket where it belongs.

Helping our Seniors

I have heard some recent accounts of tough times in real estate when dealing with senior clients. Anybody who knows me, knows I have a soft spot for seniors because they are often the forgotten members of society; so it bothers me when I hear about these things happening. Like this: One very elderly lady gets to within days of closing and decides she doesn’t want to sell. She doesn’t want to sell because she never really wanted to in the first place, and besides, all attorneys are in cahoots with each other: She wants to keep her house. And, she doesn’t begin to understand the consequences of such a decision, nor even how she got to this point, really. Heartbreaking.

The key is patience. Patience and covering the same ground over and over…and OVER if that’s what it takes…until everyone truly understands not only the process, but HOW the process works. Remember many of these people, our seniors, don’t understand how real estate works ‘these days’. In their minds, they may envision Mayberry, where everyone knows everyone; or they may think the barber and the attorney are best buds. By the time many of the true seniors get to the point of selling the ‘family home’, they may very well have lost touch with the modern fast-paced reality. If you are going to represent them, you are going to have to assess the level of understanding of your client first; and if you can’t walk them through it, beware.

Remember that seniors need to net a certain amount, usually, and that’s a great discussion to have; but you may have to have it several times to make it understood; in other words, whether or not you can make that happen. And remember that these folks may not know how the attorney works, or even why one is involved. Think about how much real estate has changed in your lifetime, and then imagine being 85 and trying to grasp it. And remember that a seller may think the BUYER’S closing attorney is also her/his attorney. Explain it! Take the time, because I have found that there’s a lot of fear in the hearts of many seniors, and I have found that they truly appreciate it when you take the time to let them know they are being CARED for. That’s what I do, and I mean it. It’s just what we owe them.

Don’t Kill the Deal

Getting Advice from Friends and Relatives about your First New Home

It turns out that I work with a lot of first time home buyers, and I am a HUGE fan of it. I love, and feel honored by, helping people with this first big step in life. Most of my first time buyers are smart, young, professional contributors to society and I appreciate them; and I make it my job to protect their financial input to their purchase. I just love helping them. Nearly all of my first time buyers make it to closing and actually into their first ‘move-up’ home. But not all of them. Some of them never get to the closing table.

I do a good job of helping my clients be ready and able to purchase when they find the home they love. That starts with finding a good lender, getting pre-approved, and looking at homes they can actually afford. In other words, they don’t find out at the 11th hour that they can’t afford the home they chose.

Most often, though, the ones that never get to close are the ones taking advice from ‘friends and family’ behind the scenes. These would be people who do not have a stake in the purchase, or do not have a realistic expectation of the process. In other words, they are not professional real estate agents! For example: Some parents forget that THEIR first home was 1000 square feet and needed work. They walk through the homes with their children with completely unrealistic expectations of the price point, and their child goes forward feeling disappointed. Parents walk through pointing out all of the flaws and elevating their child’s expectations beyond what the child can afford. Sometimes you have to start out without granite countertops and hardwoods throughout. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this: “You’re going to have to go up in price to get that.” So parents with the best intentions in this case, end up crashing their child’s dream.

Another example is the handyman dad who says, “I can build you a house’. Or…”Find a foreclosure that needs work and I’ll fix it up for you.” Well….first of all, those houses have to be bought as a cash purchase, because no lender will do a mortgage on them. Want to build from the dirt up, handyman dad? You have to pay cash for the land and here, that’s going to start at twenty grand for a lot in a less desirable area, more in the more desirable ones. Think about this: How many people do you know who have a regular job, that can go out and build a house in their ‘spare time’, and afford the cost. Think: Refrigerator, stove, dish washer, water heater, HVAC system, wiring, plumbing, roof, flooring. I don’t have any handymen like that in my contact list. Why? They do not exist.

So yes, family and friends can foul the whole process, and they do. Because they are not real estate agents, they don’t understand the process or market, and they don’t know the ‘rules’ for lending on certain types of property. Do they have the best of intentions? Most of the time, but not always. Some just ‘don’t like realtors’ and some always feel like someone’s out to get them. Those people are never happy, for anyone.

But. There are often parents and family who ARE interested in the happiness and success of their children. How can I tell? They come and meet me, and we sit down together and talk. I answer questions for them, and ultimately let them know that I am honest, excited for their child, and very good at what I do. It doesn’t take long before we are all on the same page and excited for the child buying her or his first home. And that’s the magic formula.

So, if you are a family member or ‘interested party’ who will advising behind the scenes, if I don’t meet you face to face, I expect you to cause problems. Not because you’re a bad person, but because you are not a real estate agent and some of your advice will be wrong, or just plain bad. Talk to me. Bring me your concerns and let’s talk through them. I love a team working toward a common goal. It’s the best way to succeed. Most of all, I want my client to be happy.

DECLUTTER: the Seller Dirty Word

Nobody wants to hear that their home is too full of stuff. But let’s face it: If you live in a home long enough, you accumulate a lot of it, and only you become blind to it. Everybody else walks in and says (hopefully to themselves), “Wow, there’s a lot of ….” you get the idea. I’ve lived where I live for almost 7 years, and I KNOW if I list I’m gonna have a LOT of work to do.

I’m a realtor who actually likes to see personal items in the home, because to me, it makes the place warm and…well, home-like. The other half of the realtor word will tell you to take out all personal items and paint everything and put in new carpet. In other words, try to make your used home a new home. I don’t necessarily advise that, unless the particular case needs it. For me, it’s only pix of your children that should go, and alters. Yes, people do have them, and yes, they can effect your selling ability. But CLUTTER (sorry about the dirty word) has GOTTA GO.

You will say, “If they don’t like my stuff they can take a hike.” Yes, I have heard that. But that statement comes from a person who has not gotten their brain around the true idea of selling. If you are not willing to take the advice of your professional listing agent, then you don’t really want to sell you house. It’s that simple.

I had clients who held on to their clutter so tightly that it cost them tens of thousands of dollars to sell the home. Kid you NOT. Clutter makes a difference in how much cold, hard cash you put in your pocket at the end of the transaction folks, and here’s why:

  1. Buyers will think you don’t take care of the house, i.e. MAINTAIN it, and therefore will not want it. OR they will make a lowball offer. Yes, it’s a leap to go from ‘too much stuff’ to ‘they probably don’t maintain the house’, but trust me! They do! Every time. Even though they, themselves, probably don’t run a tight ship, they will expect you to, and will judge you harshly if you don’t. And they will walk away with their money, which you are trying to get.
  2. Buyers need to envision THEIR stuff in the house. You want them to stand there and place their furniture and other ‘stuff’; and if yours overwhelms them, then they can’t see theirs. You WANT them to see THEIR STUFF there; that’s how you sell the house. If they think they can’t fit their stuff in the house, they will leave with their money, which you are trying to get them to give to you.
  3. Buyers are buying SPACE. The more ‘stuff’ you have in the space, the smaller the space looks. If the space looks small, the buyers will think, “Hmmm, this house is small.” And they will leave, taking their money with them. That would be money you would like to have. Following me?

So, here’s the deal: Ya gotta clean out the ‘stuff’. Get rid of the clutter. Now that doesn’t mean THROW AWAY the clutter. NO! It means go ahead and move it out. You’re leaving anyway. Just let it go first. Put it in storage or your friend’s garage. That would be a GOOD friend, but I digress. Then, dust in all the spots you couldn’t get to because of all of the stuff you used to have there, and your offer price JUST WENT UP. I am NOT kidding about this. Oh, and guess what? When you have to decide what size storage unit you need for your stuff? Suddenly you don’t mind actually getting rid of some of it.

Listen, I feel your pain. I think about the day I have to list my home and I literally shudder. I’ll even have to paint because I have so much wall art. So I get it. But you gotta do it.

And finally, let me say that when I say ‘stuff’, I’m also thinking of another ‘s’ word, that most buyers ACTUALLY USE, as in: “There’s too much s*** in here.”

Should I List My Home in October?

Short answer: Yes.

Listen, I think I’ve worn you guys out telling you that real estate is “local”, even sometimes down to sections within a subdivision. This is SO incredibly true, and is a fact, however cliche, which should not be ignored. These days, people look on Zillow and Realtor.com (both of which I visit myself, often), and they do their own market analysis without knowing the personality of their subdivision, let alone the town or region. There may be some great areas within the subdivision and some not-so-great ones, for a variety of reasons. And some towns are destination locations for students, doctors, patients, retirees…you name it. Each of those groups has a specific need, and you need an agent who knows the markets to satisfy them.

What you need to know about the Triangle and surrounding areas, is that we have a housing shortage here, and over 60 thousand people moving in EVERY DAY.

So yes. List. Your. House. In. October. Call me.

Buying a Cheap House

If you are a contractor or investor with lots of cash, just find it and buy it. You can find them for under 100K around here. Godspeed and all that.

If you are a first time buyer, or an ordinary, first time move-up buyer with one home you live in and a little bit of savings, forget it. It does NOT go the way you think it goes. Just doesn’t. Trust me. You won’t, but I am right.

If you are going to try to buy through an internet provider, just know that there are going to be costs. Like…1.95% ‘up front fee’, for example. That’s cash, up front, and you still have to get loan approval. Most cheap houses? NOBODY will lend on them. NO-BOD-Y.

If you want to go it on your own, you had better know how to find out what the REAL cost will be. Or get out the crying towel. These days in real estate, there are usually up front ‘money on the table’ outlays of cash, some of which are not refundable. Just call a realtor. And don’t call one to USE one, call one to compensate them for the help they will give you. I’m tired of hearing horror stories of people losing thousands because they didn’t know or wouldn’t listen. Really! It really bothers me when I hear this stuff, but on the other hand, if they have been advised well and they continue to blunder, well…that’s on them.

Want to just buy a piece of land and build…because land is 20K an acre? Just know that you can’t finance that land. You’re going to have to pay cash for it, even if you family member is “standing by” to build a house on it for you. And dare I say this? Your family member is not going to make you the priority if he’s doing the build on a discounted basis (or has a job he has to go to every day). And if you didn’t have that kind of cash to get you into a home the traditional way, how are you going to get it to pay cash for land?

Oh, I know. Buy a foreclosure house! NOT! If you find a cheap foreclosure house, trust me, the repairs will be astronomical. And you don’t have discretionary funds, remember? Oh, and this is important. You can’t finance it. Ya gotta pay cash. And, you know those seller disclosures you get with homes listed in multiple services? The ones that tell you what’s wrong with the house? Not gonna get one with a foreclosure, and if you DO, all of the boxes will be checked with ‘no representation’. That means: I don’t know and/or I don’t care. So you won’t know whether the foundation has major issues, the structure is termite ridden, half of the structure was not permitted, the septic system is collapsing, the well is contaminated…you know, those little details.

So you get to spend a LOT more money on inspections than you might otherwise spend, only to decide you don’t want the house. I call that a colossal waste of money! UNLESS you are a contractor or investor, flush with cash.

Want a fixer-upper? Great! You’d better like DIY home improvement projects, because you’ll be living in one for years! Now, I have clients who do love DIY and are good at it, and have the patience and love of restoration to enjoy the long term, patience-sapping experience. Not many people do. So. If you go this route, plan ahead. Know that if you run out of patience and money, you’ll have a heck of a time selling a partially restored fixer-upper. And depending on the nature of the ‘fixing’, you may have to wait for a cash buyer to show up. By the way, I can spend five minutes with you and know whether or not you can handle it. Yes, I’m that good.

See, this stuff is important! Real estate agents…the good ones…can walk you through the processes so that you don’t trip over your own feet, even if you ARE looking for a cheap house. And please please please remember, you are hiring an agent for her/his expertise. That’s what you’re paying for. So don’t let non-Realtor people yap into your head and ruin your deal. This happens so often that when I hear about a family member being involved, if that person is not willing to meet with me and talk it out with me? I don’t want the transaction. Why? Because they NEVER make it through to closing when the family member wants to be a behind-the-scenes puppet master. Usually they do not understand the process and don’t want that to become obvious to the professional.

I have done many transactions where I DID meet with family and talk things through. What’s the first job? Make sure everyone is on the same page. Listen, if you and your family member are at odds, stay out of the market until you reach consensus. Real estate agents do not get paid until the property closes. That means if you argue and tug back and forth with family throughout the transaction, not only does the real estate agent have to sit down and wait for you to get bad advice from a non-agent, but we also lose the deal and get NOTHING for our time. I know you like to be paid when you work, so please, remember that our time ALSO has value. So, bring your family to me first. Then I get to decide if the deal has a snowball’s chance….you get the idea. I love nothing more than a tight, loving family, working together. But one behind the scenes giving bad advice? No.

I have helped buyers purchase low priced homes many times. Some are investments; some are homes to be brought back to life to be loved and lived in. I love these transactions, because I hate to see homes fall into disrepair and be destroyed. But you have to know that there is a way to approach and close these purchases and a way to completely blow the deal.

Which would you rather do?

Choosing Colors when you Plan to Sell Your Home

One of the best updates for your home when you are planning to sell, is paint. Nothing creates quite the immediate impact as fresh paint throughout the home inside OR out. But it can go terribly wrong. I have shown properties where the colors throughout the house might as well have been clanging cymbals. The colors made no sense, and in fact created an extremely negative experience for my buyers. And the homes didn’t sell until they were painted, by the way. The goal for sellers is to make the home inviting and interesting, not dreadful.

Did you know there are ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colors? If you don’t, take some time to investigate the concept. The fastest way to set up a subconscious frown in the mind of a buyer is to mix the two. If you have a brown roof, don’t paint the exterior of the home light blue, for example. Imagine a blue room with a gold/orange accent wall. Terrible! In the picture below you see a vibrant color combination, using a warm, Tuscan theme. The color scheme isn’t for everyone, but it works in a kitchen where pretty much everything else is white.

Another good idea is to start with a neutral and use decor to create contrast.


Martha Stewart once said that you should imagine your colors as if you are looking through the space, seeing all rooms in series. The colors should be complimentary, should not clash. They don’t have to match, but they do have to harmonize.

If you’re starting with a new home, you will most likely have the builder grade monotone throughout the home, and that’s fine if it is what you like; however most people choose to customize their homes with respect to wall color. Your home is the heart of your life and it should make you feel joyful, warm, safe. Color can do that, but choose a theme…mine is Tuscan. Yours might be The Beach. You get the idea.

However you choose to decorate, remember that when you sell, you want to appeal to the buyer. So be sure…whether you choose a cool or warm palate…that you keep to the same family. That way everything in the ‘background’ of the buyer’s subconscious experience flows and feels continuous. Remember that much of marketing is psychological. So don’t shock your potential buyers with disharmonious paint colors. One negative seed can grow into a complete rejection of an otherwise great property.

Contingency Offers: Get with the Program!

The need for sellers to accept contingency offers is quickly becoming a frustrating issue in the Triangle. Because sellers usually need to find a home to buy, and because of the growing shortage of houses for them TO buy, we’re facing a new, huge challenge. Buyers know how hard it is to find a home to buy in general, but SELLERS cannot compete with buyers who do not have a contingency, once their home is under contract. But think about this: If sellers know they have a double challenge (selling their home and finding one to move to) AND they know agents will not advocate for them in presenting (and getting accepted) contingency offers, then we can expect a big drop in listings. There you have it: My prediction. With the existing shortage of housing, if people stop listing, we’re in for a terrible situation. Agents need to become familiar with contingency offers and stop viewing them as bad. If a seller needs to make a contingency offer in order to have a shot at a place to move TO when they sell, then this puts the owner of the DESIRED home in an even stronger selling position. They can ask for full list price, high due diligence, and pretty much anything else they want, just for accepting a contingency offer. They might have to make one more house payment than planned, but they can also get that payment in due diligence if they play their cards right. Contingency offers are not the devil and they are growing…GROWING…in popularity and need. But both agents need to be able to have a frank discussion about the likelihood of two successful transactions and work towards facilitating a win-win situation. I remember writing blog entries, appealing to buyers to be sensible about their position of power during the market crash. So many buyers lost perspective and put sellers in heart wrenching positions because they had the upper hand. I hope our sellers now, when it’s their turn to hold all the cards, will keep their perspective as well. And agents, think about these contingency offers. They may work to your sellers’ advantage, if you negotiate well.