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How-To Tuesday: Make the Right First Impression with Buyers

First impressions matter. We’re taught never to judge a book by its cover, but we’re only human. The truth is most of us have made up our minds about people, places, and objects within mere seconds of seeing them. Of course there’s always much more to the story than what’s on the surface, but to get people to see what’s on the inside, you need to get them interested by making a good first impression. This couldn’t be truer in the real estate business. Buyers make snap judgments based on curb appeal and the condition of the exterior of a home before they even exit their cars. You don’t want them to turn around and leave before they have a chance to see everything your home has to offer. So before you put your home on the market, first cut your emotional ties; step outside and try to look at the house through unbiased eyes; and then follow these tips to make the right first impression with prospective buyers.

Ramp Up the Curb Appeal

Start with the exterior of your house. Give it a fresh coat of paint if needed, or just touch up the trim work and paint the front door. Wash your windows, even if you don’t think they really need it. Chances are it’s been awhile since they had a bath. Clean out the gutters, remove leaves and limbs from the roof and lawn, and freshen up the shrubs and flowerbeds. Put away anything personal, like lawn ornaments, outdoor toys, and lawn maintenance tools. Pressure wash the driveway, sidewalks, and front porch or stoop. You’d be surprised at the big difference this little detail can make! Plant some colorful seasonal flowers and put out a neutral yet welcome doormat. If your mailbox is rusty or loose, repair or replace it.

Fix What’s Broken

Take a trip around the house, inside and out, and make a list of all the little repairs you’ve been meaning to do but just haven’t gotten around to. Check for leaks throughout the house. Tighten door handles and hinges that have come loose. Replace old caulking around sinks, tubs, and windows. Replace any light bulbs that have burned out—it keeps buyers from wondering whether the light doesn’t work due to electrical problems or just a burned-out bulb.

Declutter and Depersonalize

The less “stuff” there is in the house, the less distracted the buyer will be. When a house has too many personal items—photos, collectibles, clothes, and toys, for example—it’s harder for the buyer to picture themselves living there. It’s harder for them to really get a feel for the house when someone else’s furniture and other belongings are everywhere they look. Don’t completely empty out the place, though. You don’t want it to be a sterile environment. Empty rooms can actually look smaller than those with a few key pieces arranged with good flow in mind. And those rooms with highly personalized paint colors? We highly recommend repainting them with more neutral shades.

Give the House a Little Facelift

There’s usually no need to do a major renovation before you sell unless something’s in really bad shape. But a little facelift and refreshment can be a great selling point. Focus on areas that buyers pay the most attention to: bathrooms, kitchens, and flooring. If anything is particularly worn out, think about replacing or revamping it. For example, a new coat of paint for kitchen cabinets makes for a nice little makeover that looks more expensive than it is. Little things like replacing faucets, cabinet handles, drawer pulls, and light fixtures are also small upgrades that make a big difference visually. Give flooring a boost by having rugs and carpets professionally cleaned, or if you have hardwoods that have seen better days, think about re-staining them.

Appeal to the Senses

Home buyers don’t just shop with their eyes. Together with your Realtor, come up with a strategy that appeals to all the senses. During showings, you might want to play soft music, brew coffee or bake cookies, light a candle or diffuse essentials that aren’t too overpowering, and decorate with fluffy, furry throw blankets and pillows.

Keep Things Ship Shape

You might have to endure weeks to months of showings and open houses before your home goes off the market. During that time, there will be lots of people in and out for showings, and if you’re still living in the house while it’s on the market, signs of day to day living will eventually make themselves known. Just make a concentrated effort to keep everything tidy and inviting for prospective buyers.

What You Should Know Before You Flip Your First House

Thanks to the magic of television, flipping houses might seem like a quick and easy way to make a lot of money. But just like anything else in life, if you want to do it right and make a profit, there’s a lot to learn about flipping houses before you actually start. Here are just a few of the key things to think long and hard about before you decide to flip your first house.

You need startup capital.

Of course the very first thing you need in order to buy a flip house is capital. Getting a loan for an investment home isn’t quite as simple as getting a home loan for a primary residence, and there’s definitely no 100% financing available for this type of investment. It’s usually a good idea to use cash to buy a house you’re going to turn around and sell soon. Even if you do decide that a home loan is the way to go, you’re going to need to come up with the cash for a down payment in additional to whatever cash you’ll need for renovation. And don’t forget that your flip might sit on the market for a while after it’s finished. During that time, you’ll need to have cash available to pay the mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc.

Finding the perfect house isn’t as easy as it looks on tv.

Television shows like Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop, and even House Hunters make finding the perfect fixer way easier than it really is. In actuality, finding a house to flip takes a lot of time, research, and trips back to square one if your offer doesn’t get accepted. There’s so much more to be taken into consideration than whether or not you think the house will make a good project. You have to think about the area it’s in and the type of buyer it attracts (single professionals, small families, etc.); the cost of renovation versus the actual post-renovation value; whether you’re over-improving for the area and won’t get back the money you spent, and much, much more. Make sure you’re working with a trusted, seasoned real estate agent to help you flesh out all these details.

You have to schedule things out to a tee.

TV shows also make it look like things simply fall into place as needed, but there’s a ridiculous amount of planning and scheduling that goes on behind the scenes. Once you find a house and actually buy it, you’ll need to get quotes and bids for various jobs, apply for permits, shop around for materials, and on and on. If you don’t have a super organized schedule, the odds are high that you’ll face a few challenges along the way. After all, you don’t want the drywall contractor and flooring installer to show up ready to work at the same time.

You won’t be able to do it all yourself.

Even the best contractors specialize in certain areas. For instance, someone who can build almost anything from scratch might not do sheetrocking, and they might hate painting. Good contractors know their specialty inside and out, and they know what they’re not good at, or what they simply prefer not to do. Just like a good contractor, you should be aware that you won’t be able to do every little job in your flip house on your own. This is especially important when it comes to specialties like electricity and plumbing. If you want to make a good name for yourself in the flipping business, you need to ensure a quality job each and every time.

Friday Five // February 1st, 2019

It’s Friday once again, and you know what that means! Time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening throughout the Charleston area this weekend. The Big Game might be the talk of the town this week, but there’s lots more going on around the Lowcountry. Take in some student art, get your weekly oyster fix, support our pet-loving community, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents here at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend!

Bring the whole family out to the Charleston Area Convention Center this Saturday for the 2019 Lowcountry Family Expo, hosted by Lowcountry Parent. Come be entertained, inspired, informed, and engaged through fun, interactive activities. There will be activity centers, exciting exhibitions, and fun contests. Some of the vendors include the Charleston RiverDogs, Trident United Way, the Lowcountry Children’s Museum, Coastal Kids Dental & Braces, the Carolina Ice Palace, and many more! This event takes place from 10am until 3pm. General admission tickets are $5 for adults and ages 13+. Children age 12 and under get in free.

Get your oyster fix this Saturday evening at the annual Paws & Pearls Oyster Roast at Summerville Country Club. Beginning at 6pm, you can enjoy endless oysters, flowing beer and wine, live music from Saluda Shoals, dancing, and live and silent auctions, all to benefit Dorchester Paws (formerly the Francis R. Willis SPCA). Tickets are $60 and include all the oysters you can eat, food, beer, and wine. All proceeds benefit the animals in care at Dorchester Paws and programs to support the pet-loving community.

For a unique, family-friendly experience, check out the Art to Go Student Exhibition at the Gibbes Museum this weekend. Art to Go is an in-school outreach program that pairs teaching artists with classroom teachers to allow students to create unique works of art inspired by exhibitions at the Gibbes. It is sponsored in part by the Women’s Council, the South Carolina Arts Commission, and the Town of Kiawah. Students from Mitchell Elementary School, Hunley Park Elementary School, Angel Oak Elementary School, and Northwoods Middle School participated this year and will display their work at the Gibbes. The students were inspired by works in the permanent collection as well as the artists featured in A Dark Place of Dreams: Louise Nevelson with Chakaia Booker, Lauren Fenterstock, and Kate Gilmore as well as Anna Heyward Taylor: Intrepid Explorer.

Join the effort to support and preserve the Morris Island Lighthouse at the Save the Light Half Marathon & 5K this Saturday, February 2nd. Both the half marathon and the 5K race are USATF-certified and will start and end near the Folly Beach Pier. Those who register for the 5K may run or walk, but the half marathon is a run-only event. No earbuds or pets are allowed on the course. Strollers will be permitted in the 5K only, but those with strollers must start behind the other runners and walkers. Awards and food will be provided after the race.

Join the Charleston Animal Society and Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre on Saturday from noon until 3pm for the second annual Pup Bowl to benefit the animals at the Charleston Animal Society. Attendees can register to adopt a new pet or just have a fun family day, complete with photo booth, bounce house, face-painting, balloon animals, caricatures, and of course two teams of adorable and adoptable puppies battling it out in an adorable game of puppy football!

6 Daily Household Chores You Really Shouldn’t Skip

There’s a reason the word “chore” holds a negative connotation for most of the population. Everyone is so busy all the time, and we all have better things to do instead of performing these pesky routine tasks. The majority of household chores can be pushed aside for later, but there are some that should be performed daily when possible.

Make the Bed

This task takes almost no time out of your day. Making your bed is an easy way to help your bedroom look and feel tidier in a matter of seconds. Starting the day by performing this one easy task sets the tone for a productive, happy day. And call us crazy, but seeing a neatly made bed each night always makes us feel more restful than one that’s in disarray.

Tackle the Dishes

You know that really satisfying feeling you get when all the dishes are done and the sink is empty, clean, and gleaming with pride? We love that feeling. But then one dirty fork gets placed in the sink, and suddenly there’s an overflowing pile of dirty dishes. At least that’s what it seems like! Instead of letting dirty dishes amass in the sink (or overflow onto counters—yikes!), wash them or place them in the dishwasher as you go. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to get them done if you don’t let them pile up.

Gather Dirty Laundry

It’s fine to leave the laundry until the weekend or a designated laundry day. But you should at least make sure to put all the dirty laundry in a hamper or basket instead of leaving it wherever you take it off. Just a couple of outfits and towels lying around somehow have a way of making an entire room look dirty.

Wipe Down Kitchen Surfaces

A quick swipe of the kitchen counters and/or cabinets with a Clorox wipe, your homemade natural cleaner, or just a wet kitchen towel will do wonders. When you’re finished with an area, a quick cleanup job will keep you from having to do a major one later on. It also helps prevent the spreading of bacteria and other germs that might make their way onto kitchen surfaces while you’re preparing food. Sparkly surfaces also help give the kitchen a much cleaner and tidier feel.

Vacuum or Sweep Heavy Traffic Areas

This might sound like a bigger chore than we promised for this list, but hear us out. Just doing a quick once-over with the vacuum cleaner or broom in common areas will keep tracked-in dirt, dust, and pet dander from collecting and being ground into the flooring. This is especially a good idea if you or anyone in your family suffer from allergies.

Put Away Papers and Personal Items

Make a habit of taking care of the mail as soon as you bring it inside. Pay whatever bills need to be paid; file what needs to be filed; shred what should be shredded; and toss or recycle the rest of the junk mail immediately. As for personal belongings, do a quick 10-minute sweep of the house before bedtime and put away (or ask the belongings’ owners to put away) anything that’s out of place. These two tasks go a long way toward keeping clutter from forming.

Common Stumbling Blocks that Delay Closings

Most of us are familiar with the old expression about too many cooks in the kitchen. That old adage could definitely apply in the real estate business. There are a lot of parties involved in a real estate transaction. On one hand, that means all the tasks that have to be completed before closing day are divvied up and conquered more easily. On the other hand, the more people that are involved, the more likely it is that an issue might arise in some shape or form. The good thing is that most of the snags that delay closings can be easily resolved or avoided altogether. Let’s take a look at just a few of the most common stumbling blocks that might stall your journey to the closing table.

Your Financial Status Changed

The very last thing you want to do while waiting to close on a home is have any change in finances. Try to keep your debt-to-income ratio as steady as possible. This means no changes in income or job status, no large purchases, and no new credit cards. Any change in financial status will have to be taken into consideration before your final mortgage approval comes through and you’re clear to close.

Bad News on the Inspection

If a home inspection ends in undesirable results, the buyer will have to decide whether or not they want to move forward. The one good thing about a bad inspection report is that it can be used as a bargaining chip. If the buyers do want to move forward, then they can ask the sellers to either make repairs or take the cost of the repairs off the sale price.

You Don’t Act Quickly Enough

All requests for information, paperwork, and other needs must be fulfilled as quickly as possible. Time is always of the essence in a real estate transaction. If one party doesn’t move quickly enough, it could put the entire deal in jeopardy.

Paperwork Is Disorganized

Make sure to get any and all needed paperwork submitted in a timely manner. Whether your real estate agent needs a contract addendum signed, or your lender needs last year’s tax return, it’s important to act quickly. Everything should be organized and accounted for. If you submit an offer without a key piece paperwork, for instance, it could throw a major wrench in the works.

Interest Rates Go Up

It’s normal for interest rates to go up and down, but the last thing you want is for them to rise when you’re right in the middle of a deal. Get your mortgage paperwork in order and get that approval as soon as possible. That way you’ll be locked in to the correct interest rate, and you’ll be protected if interest rates do rise unexpectedly.

Misunderstandings

Everyone needs to be on the same page for a real estate deal to close without any snags. Double and triple-check to make sure that every stipulation set forth in the contract is clear; all dates are realistic and agreed upon; and the seller and buyer know exactly what does and does not convey with the sale of the house. Don’t let a deal fall through because one person misunderstood a certain detail.

Appraisal Issues

Sometimes a house doesn’t appraise for the agreed-upon sale price. If this happens, there are several things that can be done. The lender and buyer can order another appraisal as a second opinion. If it still comes in under the contract price, it’s time for renegotiations. The seller can concede and lower the price to the appraised value. Or the buyer and seller can split the difference, with the seller lowering the cost some and the buyer bringing some cash to the table to make up the rest of the difference.

Unrealistic Contract Dates

Sometimes there’s just not enough time to get everything done. When you and your agent sit down to write an offer on a house,the dates you put forth in the contract should leave enough time for all parties to accomplish their tasks. Make sure there’s plenty of time to have all inspections and repairs completed and get all paperwork in order.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of every little thing that could delay your closing. There are lots of other possible stumbling blocks that can cause things to grind to a halt. These are just some of the most common issues that arise from time to time. But don’t worry; as long as all parties are willing to work together to resolve them, you’ll get to the closing table sooner than you think.

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