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Top 5 Home Staging Props

4/2/2018

 succulent

1. ORCHIDS & HIGH QUALITY FLORALS

Orchids are an incredibly versatile prop. They are beautiful, elegant and add class into any interior, regardless of the style of home. They will pair well with just about any room. You can add it into a bathroom for a spa-like feel, group it into containers for a grand entryway centerpiece, or make it the highlight of the dining room. Adding high quality florals can be the perfect way to decorate any space, and the variety of flower types and arrangements can blend into any decorating theme.

2. BOOKS

Books are wonderful space fillers and can introduce you to subtle pops of color into your living space. They can also be used as risers to add dimension to your room by propping other decorative pieces. 

3. BOWLS, TRAYS, & VASES

Ceramic containers can really add a calming and organic effect into a decorative scene. They have a beautifully subtle, and can be the right touch to bring a room together. Using vases, trays, and bowls allow a lot of versatility. Vases can be used as a creative way to hold utensils in a kitchen and bowls can be used for small plants. The right container, paired with the right filler, can set the scene and create a warm and inviting space.

4. FILLERS

Fillers are the perfect couple to the types of containers noted above. Fillers can be wicker balls, moss balls, faux lemons or other fruits, limes, bread, lemons, flowers, and just about anything else you can think of. Fillers can bring in a lived-in look to any space, warming up what could otherwise feel like a bare room. 

5. LIFESTYLE ELEMENTS

Having lifestyle elements in your home can really set the pace for the theme you want to incorporate. Lifestyle elements are things that breathe life into any room, and prevent it from feeling too staged. These can be things such as a teapot on a night stand, a bowl of fruit on a dining room table, little figurines on nightstands, books on a coffee table, etc. You can even add a breakfast tray on a set bed. Use lifestyle scenery sparingly so it doesn't come off too cheesy and over-done.

4 Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Home Purchase or Sale

3/9/2018

 Blog family

If you are considering purchasing or selling your first home, approaching the process well-informed and equipped with a knowledgable real estate agent is key. They will help you through the process, so that it is as smooth and stress-free as possible, proactively addressing issues before they arise. Here are 4 common mistake areas that your agent will help you to avoid.

 

1. DISREGARDING TRUE MARKET VALUE

Pricing a property is a complicated science... Some might argue it's an art form. There are many variables involved that require in-depth consideration and analysis. Although there are more and more sites providing their own automated estimates of value, i.e. Zillow, the technology used on these sites is not always accurate. Without a background as a real estate professional or appraiser, it's nearly impossible to accurately assess the long list of factors that play into property value. Don't take on the critical step of pricing your home, or making an offer on a home you wish to buy, yourself. Let your experienced real estate agent put their expertise to work for you. A good agent will likely spend several hours, or days, properly analyzing market research, building a strong case or rationale for the market value. The recommended listing price, or offer price, should be based on sound data and statistics. Whether buying or selling, determining the true market value of the home will set you up for success and avoid wasted time, energy and emotion.

 

2. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE 

Most people like to negotiate, as they want to feel as if they are getting a "deal" - or at least want to give it a try. Going into a sale or purchase refusing to negotiate, hard-set on wants without exception, is more than likely going to cause a lot of grief and stress for yourself during the sales process. Whether you find yourself as the buyer or seller, try to have an open mind about what the other party may request. Negotiating is common real estate practice, as buyers want to spend less and sellers want to net more. If neither party is willing to negotiate, you'll find yourself in a contract time and time again, only to fall apart before closing. One of the roles of your agent is to guide you through negotiations that are reasonable and that lead both parties to the closing table, without compromising your best interests. 

 

3. SETTING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Although we all have an idea about what our dream home should be, sometimes the market, and your budget, don't match up with the dream wish list. Find an agent that helps you prioritize your wish list, focusing on those items that are most important to you and your family. Sort your wish list into non-negotiable items or "must-haves", like bedroom/bathroom count, but then have a bucket for "wants" or "nice-to-haves" as well. Focus on the way you live day-to-day to ensure your home is functional for your lifestyle. If a home has the major components you are seeking, get creative to determine if the other things can be added in the future. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect house - there will always be little things you want to change or tweak.

 

4. TRYING TO GO IT ALONE

Don't make the mistake of trying to handle the home sales process all on your own. There is a reason that the real estate profession, and the laws around it, are as strong as ever. Real estate agents are a necessity during the sales process to ensure the right steps are taken to get a home sold or purchased without major hiccups. Buying and selling is a complex process that requires knowledge and expertise that comes from a professional within the industry. A simple goof on a contract or required disclosure form can quickly lead to miscommunication, frustration, missed opportunities, or worse - detrimental legal consequences. Avoid the stress of "learning the hard way" and lean on a trusted professional who has the resources and information you need to make confident real estate decisions that get you the outcome you desire.

 

If you have questions about real estate, or buying or selling a home, please contact me directly at 904-874-4480. I'm ready to help!

Sold in 3 Days: My tips for selling your home quickly!

2/13/2018

 

house blog

Rewind to Fall of 2013, my husband and I were packing the last few boxes and were anxiously counting down the days until moving day, when we would pack up the enormous moving truck and drive our growing family across the country from Frankfort, IL to St. Augustine, FL. About 6 weeks earlier, we had spent a week in St. Augustine, vacationing with family, and upon our return to Illinois, decided that we were ready to make the move and live in St. Augustine for the longterm. After prayerful consideration, we made the decision to list our house “just to see what would happen.” We knew other houses in our neighborhood had been sitting on the market for many months, but felt hopeful that with preparation, we could position our house well. Little did we know that we would have multiple showings in the first two days on the market and that we would receive and accept an offer on the 4th day! While I can’t take all (or even most) of the credit for the lightening-speed sale, I can share about my personal experience preparing to list our house and the things that contributed to getting it sold quickly.

Commit to the vision and be optimistic - True for any life or business goal, you should approach it with a sense of commitment and confidence. Create an action plan or to-do list consisting of achievable objectives or steps that will keep you organized and productive. A good starting place is to…

Depersonalize your home - You want potential buyers to walk into your house and to envision themselves living there. So, put away all those eccentric items that you’ve collected over the years and make your space as generic (yet inviting and attractive) as possible. Replace all your family photos with landscapes, mainstream artwork or other impersonal imagery or decor. You can find relatively inexpensive mass-produced art at places like Michael’s or Target. Or, grab a magazine and clip nature or lifestyle imagery that can temporarily cover your personal photos.

Declutter - Now is the time to become a minimalist! Walk through your house and try to remove from sight as much “stuff” as you can. Everything from decorative items (leave one or two statement pieces, get rid of the rest), to countertop appliances, to toiletries, to jewelry, to the kids’ toys, etc. Find a place for it that isn’t visible, so that potential buyers aren’t distracted by your things, and instead focus on the space itself.

Get packin’ - Don’t wait until you have a contract on your house to start packing… Start packing as you work to depersonalize and to declutter. Your house will be more presentable and you’ll have a head start on the dreaded step of packing up your entire household.

Clean, clean, clean (then clean some more) - I’m a true believer of the old adage “A messy house is a sign of a happy home.” However, when you are trying to get hyper-critical potential buyers to fall in love with your house, you want it to be the cleanest it has ever been. Suck it up and get in the routine of keeping all your surfaces cleared off and wiped down, vacuum and dust more frequently, etc. You never know when you might get a showing request, so strive to keep the house clean enough that a few minutes of tidying up here and there will do the trick if you need to leave on short notice.

Curb appeal - Do what you can to spruce up your curb appeal. Keep the lawn freshly cut, trim hedges and shrubs, plant flowers, pull weeds, consider a fresh coat of paint on your house or front door. The walk from the car to the front door sets the tone for potential buyers, so if they immediately notice peeling paint, a wobbly railing or broken doorbell, they may get a negative first impression and think that you don’t maintain your home to their standards.

Make small fixes - Walk through your home and examine each room through the lens of a potential buyer. An outsider, or potential buyer, might notice the tub that needs to be re-caulked or the banister that never got that second coat of stain. If there are little projects that have fallen off your radar, but could easily and inexpensively improve the appeal of your home, make those fixes.

Interview multiple real estate agents - Selling your home is a huge deal. It’s critical that you work with a real estate professional that knows their stuff. The intricacies of real estate law have huge implications on you as a seller, so it’s critical that you work with someone that you can trust to do the job well, while keeping you well-informed and prepared for each step of the process. Be sure to ask a lot of questions, communicate your priorities and expectations, and trust your gut. I recommend interviewing at least 2-3 agents to see which one is the best fit, considering things such as experience, skill set, marketing tools and resources, communication and personality. (Note: The agent that sold my house in 3 days wasn’t the agent with the most awards, but was the one that made me and my husband feel at ease and confident in her presentation and communication style.)

Know your rights - Be mindful that you have rights and responsibilities as a seller. By law, there are certain disclosures that real estate agents are required to share with you, and certain information that you are required to share with them. For example, in the state of Florida, agents must explain what type of brokerage relationship they represent or else a Transaction Brokerage relationship is assumed. And as a seller, for example, you are required to disclose any known material defects with the home, such as a leak in the roof.

Set realistic expectations - To help set your expectations, before you meet with an agent, take the time to do a little homework on property values and the state of the market in your area. Yes, it’s the agent’s job to provide you with all the information you could ever want, but doing some research of your own will give you a frame of reference and confidence in your discussions during the listing interviews or appointments. Consider other homes that are for sale, or that have recently sold, in your area and pay attention to things like average sales prices, days on the market and marketing strategies used.

If you want more tips on listing your home, or have any questions about the selling process or real estate market in your neighborhood, or I would love to hear from you!

Contact me directly at 904-874-4480 or Jennifer.Cook@REMAX.net

Why You Need An Agent For New Construction

1/4/2018

 

Are you ready to buy a home and considering going in the route of new builds? It may seem like an easy enough process, but there is a lot of risk when it comes to new construction. It's unfortunately not as trouble free as we'd like to hope. Below, we'll dive into the many reasons you need a professional buyer's agent representing you in the sale.

1. HIRING THE RIGHT BUILDER

The most important part of finding an agent is having a professional's perspective to finding a builder with a great reputation. You get to benefit from your agent's network of vendors, lenders, and home builders. They have the industry expertise to connect you with a builder that matches your needs, and more than likely, have already had experience with the builder with a past client. Or, if they haven't worked with a builder you want to use directly, they can gather person-to-person recommendations from other agents to know the expected experience with said builder. They will help you find one, that not only delivers exactly what their clients want, but in a timely fashion.

2. THE RIGHT LOT IN THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD

The lot you choose to go with in a new build can either be a positive to your new home, or detrimental. In the excitement of the process, we tend to overlook important features of a property. It's important to have a professional to ensure you make a purchase that will best serve you. They'll be able to find a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle and a lot that has a location that works for you. Whether you're single with pets, or a family with children, the lot location can really make a huge impact. Especially when it comes time to selling it in the future. These are important things your agent will be able to help walk you through, so your decisions work in your favor in the long term, as well as now.

3. UPGRADES AND PLAN MODIFICATIONS

Not only will your agent be able to ensure you get the upgrades and modifications that will best suit your lifestyle, but will also help you make decisions that will increase the value of your home in the long term. They are working for your best interest long term, and with an agent's guidance, you can be sure to make changes that end up benefiting you.

4. HANDLING CONTRACTS AND PAPERWORK

Your agent will handle the contract and all of the paperwork, and they will be sure to review it to ensure that it is in your best interest. They will be able to help you break down the best loan types, purchasing processes, and steps to take that benefit YOU, not the builder. They'll make sure there are no overlooked terms in a builder's contract that could end up hurting you after you move in. Or even during the building process. You want to make sure you have a professional who is experienced with the paperwork and contracts and knows how to make revisions that work in a way that make you happy.

5. NEGOTIATIONS

It is imperative in the purchasing process to have an agent that is able to represent you and negotiate for you. The building process is so much more than having the builder put in your favorite counters and floors. They will be able to get you a price that benefits you - not the builder. They will be able to run a comparative market analysis to ensure you are paying a fair price for the property. You don't want to end up overpaying for the home - it could put you in a tough spot when it comes time to sell. They'll also be able to negotiate terms around building time frame, closings costs, and so many other aspects of a contract that you may otherwise overlook.

6. BUILDER'S AGENT REPRESENTS THEM, NOT YOU

It may seem easy just to pop into an office of a new build, or a builder's office, and use the onsite agent. But keep in mind that this agent works FOR the builder, NOT for you. So they will be working to make sure the builder gets the best deal at the end of the day. By having a buyer's agent of your own, you can ensure there is a professional on your side that can walk you through the process and avoid being taken advantage of during the transaction. They will also have a better handle on things when you hit bumps along the way. If you end up working with a builder who isn't holding their end of the deal, they will have the power to make connections that ensure the builder holds their end of the contract terms.

Fall Leaves Bring Buyers

10/20/2017

fall leaves

Summer has come to an end and you may be thinking you've lost the opportunity to sell your home and need to wait until the Spring. But, that's far from the truth! Although the market is not as hectic with the swarm of summer buyers and tourists, the fall season brings out the most serious prospects. They are the pool of buyers that waited out the summer frenzy to find their perfect home in the fall, before year end. In our market, we also see an influx of "snowbirds" and northerns traveling to Northeast Florida for the holiday and winter season - and many of them decide to stay and invest in a home here! With the right agent, and expert pricing and marketing, you can do exceptionally well selling your home now. Here are the top 3 benefits to listing during the fall season.

 

1. Serious Buyers - Although the summer brings in a large crowd, that crowd contains a lot of people that are excited by the season, and fall into the "trend" of house hunting. These people end up not really being serious about the process, and tend to hold off for another time. If people are investing time to look during the fall season, they are more likely to be interested in actually buying your home, instead of touring it. Fall buyers are also motivated to make a purchase before the end of the year for tax purposes. By purchasing before the new year, Florida homeowners can file for Homestead Exemption, significantly reducing the taxable value of their home.

 

2. Less Competition - Selling in the fall isn't something many families can accomplish due to personal schedules. That's why a significant amount of homes get listed during the summer season. Which means that summer time brings in a lot of competition. Selling in the fall means the potential house next door that has slightly more perks that may have been listed during the summer, doesn't make your home sit stagnant, since everyone wanted your neighbor's house. It also doesn't devalue your home because of the house that could go up next door that could be under-priced in your neighborhood, and draw all of the attention.

 

3. Easier to Find Your Dream Home - Not only do you get to benefit from a slower season during the selling process, but you can also benefit on the buying side. With less competition on your dream house, you can get a better deal. The summer brings a lot of missed opportunities for buyers on their dream homes, because they go off the market instantly. This will give you the opportunity to get your home on the market and take your time to find the right one to resize into. A much calmer pace to the transaction will make it less stressful, and everyone all around happier. Don't feel rushed into buying a home overnight.

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