“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

First impressions mean everything!

That statement that rings true in real estate! Buyers are quick to jump to conclusions about a home as soon as they glance at it. That’s why more sellers are turning toward professional home stagers to prepare for a sale.
A lot of what staging accomplishes occurs on a subconscious level—creating a positive link between your house and the prospective buyer. It’s easy enough to repaint after moving in, but first impressions are difficult to undo.

With the vast majority of buyers searching first on the Internet for homes, photos and virtual tours are extremely important in the selection process. Home staging will give sellers key advantages.

A professional stager will:

Help eliminate clutter: That means taking down personal items that add to the unnecessary clutter such as diplomas, pictures, trophies, and other knick-knacks. Removing a bulky piece of furniture may be necessary to widen a walk area or make a room feel spacious.

Unstaged overly crowded room gives the impression that the house is too small!

 

Consider buyer demographics and buying psychology:   Home stagers use design elements in planning out the rooms, space and lighting. They understand traffic patterns to highlight positive attributes of a home while downplaying its negative features. They know not to overwhelm potential buyers with wild colors and furniture, even if you think it makes your home “special.”

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Professional staged kitchen – no clutter, only essential pieces.

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Staged bedroom with no clutter on dresser.  Extra chair removed from room.

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Professionally staged backyard – opens up the space to focus more on the view.

Remember, making your home look like a model rather than lived-in can make all the difference in selling a home. That’s why I offer seller’s a free home staging consultation to sellers who list their home with me.  I have an experienced stager / designer on my team that shapes up your home before it’s photographed. We will both roll up our sleeves that day and move furniture, carry boxes, clean up, and whatever else needs to be done. The value of having a professional with an eye for design is golden!  Every little detail makes a huge difference!

ASK SHANNON TO LIST AND STAGE YOUR HOME

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Get Your Home Documents Organized

As a homeowner, you accumulate all sorts of documentation the moment you make the offer on your home. Loan documents, inspections, insurance policies, receipts and warranties are just a few of the documents you may be collecting. Knowing where these items are can save you a lot of time and money.

Keep closing papers such as the deed, settlement statement, appraisal, disclosures, mortgage note, inspections and title insurance policy together in one place—preferably in a safe deposit box.

For other records, a practical record-keeping system doesn’t have to be expensive. Purchase an accordion file and label each flap with a different category. Those might include: folders

  • Insurance Policies.
  • Purchase and House Data.
  • Property Taxes.
  • Home Maintenance and Improvements.
  • Warranties, Manuals and Receipts.
  • Home Inventory.

Organizing your home files may take a considerable amount of time initially, but it will definitely be time well spent in the event you need the documents in the future.

If you are looking for a contemporary home with a Hill Country view, take a tour of the Canopy at Hudson Bend.  This boutique neighborhood features homes by CastleRock Communities.

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Floor plans start at $479,990 and go up to $529,990, which means you can have a nicely upgraded home in the mid 500’s to low 600’s.  Currently, there are 3 floor plans to choose from:  2434 sq. ft., 2800 sq. ft, and 3200 sq. ft.  Once completed, the community will have a total of 38 homes.

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All homes are guaranteed an amazing view from multiple balconies and porches.  Each floor plan is 3 stories high with the option of an outdoor porch and kitchen on the top floor.

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The exterior of each home can be customized with metal, brick, stone, and stucco so that you will have a one-of-a-kind design.  The HOA also maintains the front yard, so your home will always have curb appeal!

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The interiors are also beautifully upgraded with contemporary designs in the bathrooms and kitchen.  The sales agent and builder will work with you to customize any floor plan to meet your needs.  If you would like a tour of this beautiful community, just ask!

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If you are looking for a luxury home with a Hill Country view, be sure to visit the model home of Vintage Estate Homes. This custom builder is currently designing homes on one-acre lots in West Cypress Hills in Spicewood, and Vistancia in Dripping Springs.  The model is located between those communities in Spicewood at 5200 Evidence Cove. There are only a handful of lots available in each community, so don’t miss this opportunity to work with one of the finest custom builders in town!

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Vintage Estates Homes offers buyers a variety of floor plans ranging from 2694 sq.ft to 4241 sq.ft.  Each floor plan is completely customizable to meet your needs and vision.  Current base prices range from about $450,000 to $585,000.  That means you can have a beautifully upgraded home as low as the mid-500’s!
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One of the great features of this builder is the customer service!  The company has a very small, close-knit team in Austin who develop a personal relationship with each individual client.   One sales counselor will support buyers through the entire building process, holding their hand (so to speak) so that the process isn’t overwhelming, but enjoyable. The goal of Vintage Estates Homes is to involve clients as much as possible in the design process so that the home is what the clients envision.  They also hold high standards for themselves to build it right the first time!IMG_7894

Designing a custom home can be an exciting project, and Vintage Estates Homes desires to make it as stress-free and fulfilling as possible.  If you would like to view the model home or explore West Cypress Hills & Vistancia, just ask me for a tour!

If you are searching for an amazing deal on a home in Sweetwater, then don’t miss the Perry Homes model located in the Stonecreek neighborhood.  Perry Homes is a Houston-based company who has been in business for 49 years and who won Builder of the Year award recently in 2015.  In Sweetwater, Perry Homes offers smaller sized houses ranging from 1653 sq. ft. to 3190 sq. ft. Current prices start at $336,900 and go to up $436,900.

Although the floor plans are smaller than other homes in Sweetwater, they are smartly designed to make the best use of space.  Single story homes come standard with high ceilings and oversized windows to allow more natural light into the rooms.  It is surprising how spacious the rooms feel!

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The baseline floor plans also include many high-end features that other builders typically consider “upgrades.”  For example, French doors are standard on an office, mud set tile is standard in the shower, and beautiful wood tile floors are one of many standard flooring options.

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The entire model home only has about $25,000 in upgrades!  This means that as a buyer, you can expect to spend less than 10% at the design center to have a beautifully upgraded home!

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If you haven’t stopped by Perry Homes in Sweetwater, ask me for a tour! Click here to search for available homes within Sweetwater.

If you are selling your home in the Lake Travis area, it is important to follow these 5 steps in order to sell your home quickly!  Unlike areas near downtown Austin, you will have to compete with a much larger inventory of resale and new construction homes.  How attractive your home is to buyers is up to you. Here are five ways to help your agent attract buyers to your home.

  1. Verify market prices with your agent. Price your home for today’s market reality.
  2. Stage your home to best advantage. Declutter, depersonalize, clean it, paint it, and enhance curb appeal with fresh landscaping.
  3. Fix everything that’s a problem. No leaks, stains, or smells. Buyers want move-in ready condition. Don’t give buyers room to argue price due to condition.
  4. Do something extra for your home. Some updating, fresh paint, new appliances, or new countertops can work wonders.
  5. Be a serious seller. Just as a serious buyer is ready to buy, show you’re ready to sell by offering your home at an attractive price, being flexible about moving dates and other terms, and making your home available for viewing with their agents.

When making a deal to sell your home, be sure you are perfectly clear about what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind.

“Real” property: The general rule is that if something is attached to the structure or the ground, it stays with the house. If removing the item would ruin or disfigure the walls or you need tools to remove it, it generally stays. Legally, these are called fixtures, which include everything permanently attached to the property such as a fence, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, flowerbeds and shrubs.

“Personal” property: If you can disconnect, unhook or detach it with bare hands, it’s free to leave when you do and shouldn’t be assumed as part of the sale. This could be furniture, potted plants, free-standing appliances, an outdoor grill, etc.

It’s a good idea to not show your home with fixtures you are planning to take. It’s better to replace them. If a buyer falls in love with the chandelier in your dining room but then learns that you are planning to take it with you, the deal may fall through. Walk in each room with your agent and make a list of things that you’ll be taking with you.

However, if you decide to leave curtains, chandeliers or are open to giving up outdoor furniture, it may just help with a sale. Buyers appreciate getting something for free. A savvy agent will hint that fixtures and furnishings are negotiable. Unless they are really important, let them go with the home. Use them to get the price you want and then replace the items in your new home.

By itemizing and discussing items, there will be no miscommunication on closing day

Most home buyers are aware that they need to make a down payment on a home.  However, first time home buyers might be confused about paying earnest money towards a home. Earnest money is paid to the title company when a purchase contract is signed by all parties. This demonstrates that the buyers are serious about the transaction and are backing it up with cash.

Without this, buyers could simply make offers on many homes, essentially taking them off the market until they choose a favorite. Sellers rarely accept offers without earnest money.

There is no set amount for an earnest money deposit, so it’s negotiable. However, in the Austin area, typically it is 1% of the sales price of the home.  Assuming the buyer actually purchases the home, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment and closing costs. However, a buyer can lose earnest money through default, which happens when he or she does not perform according to the terms stipulated in a purchase and sale agreement.

Work carefully with your agent to ensure a clear understanding of all terms and obligations so that you do not lose your earnest money!

In this blog series, I’ve shared my tips on what to do before signing a contract on a new home and what to do after signing your contract.  Here are my tips for right after you close on your new home.Tips for Home Buyers (part 3)

  1. Test everything.  Once you move into your home, test out all of its features to make sure everything works properly.  Plug something into the electrical outlets, try out all of the appliances, flush all of the toilets, take a shower in all of the showers… you get the idea.  In case there are any issues, it’s easier to get them fixed if you report them to the builder as soon as possible, rather than months later.
  2. Save your manuals. Make sure you keep all manuals that come with your home, including all appliance manuals, home warranties, or homeowners association guidelines. It’s easy to misplace these important documents when you move, so keep them in a set place because you will definitely need them at a later time. Make sure you fully understand the warranties the builder has provided for your new home and who to contact in case a problem arises in the future.
  3. Beware of bugs.  All the time your new home is being built, the homes of hundreds of insects and rodents are being unearthed and destroyed.  You’ll soon find that they’re invading your home for shelter. After finding several scorpions in my first home, I was ready to move. So the second time we built, we sprayed the inside and outside perimeter of the house with insect repellent.  I suggest doing this right before you move in so you don’t spray around your furniture, pets, or children.  Otherwise, I highly suggest investing in a pest control service the first year.
  4. Try a DIY project.  Showroom Garage FloorsWhen we bought our last home, we closed mid-week, but waited a few days to move on the weekend. We used one of those days to tackle a do-it-yourself project while the house was empty.  We painted showroom floors in our garage, which was surprisingly easy to do.  This task was also much easier since the garage had never been used!
  5. Stick to a decorating budget.  Anytime you move into a new home, it is tempting to start decorating every room and filling it with new furniture.  Create a budget for home decorating and determine which areas of the house are priorities.  This can help you avoid going far into debt.  Take your time filling up your new space and enjoy it!

What other tips do you have for anyone buying a new home?  I’d love to hear them!

Last week, I shared Part 1 of my blog series on tips for new home buyers.   I’m continuing this week with tips on what to do after you’ve signed your new home contract.Tips for New Home Buyers

  1. Be Patient. People love instant gratification, whether it’s getting a custom-made latte in a drive through or watching commercial free shows on Netflix.  Buying a new home is the complete opposite experience.  You’ve just put money down on something that you can’t fully enjoy for at least six months.  So mentally prepare yourself for the wait and look at it in a positive light.  Use this time to save up extra money on a down payment or new furniture.  Also, add a few weeks to whatever timeframe the builder estimated to complete your home.  Inevitably something can go wrong, such as bad weather, shortage of supplies, or shortage of labor. So just prepare yourself for a slightly longer wait, and if your home is built sooner, then great!
  2. Communicate Regularly.  From the beginning, find out who is involved in the construction of your home and get their contact information.  This can include the sales person in the community, the builder, and sales person at the design center.  A good-quality builder will usually call or email you once a week to update you on the progress of your home.  My husband and I would jot down questions or concerns we had so that we could ask them all at once in our weekly phone call.  This kept everyone on the same page and made us feel like we were in good hands.
  3. Visit Regularly.  As our last home was being built, my husband and I would visit once a week on the weekends to see the progress.  Once the framing went up, it was exciting to see new features added every week.  Along the way, we also caught a few mistakes, which we were able to share with the builder.  For instance, our living room was supposed to have a coffered ceiling covered with wood.  On the building plans, however, the air-conditioning ducts and speakers were placed in the middle of the wood ceiling.  This would have been an eyesore in something that was supposed to be a focal-point of the room.  Fortunately, we noticed this before the sheetrock was installed, making it easy to move the ducts to another location.
  4. Take Photos.  Each week, take a few photos of the progress of your house. This will help you to see how much has been accomplished when you compare current photos with photos a month ago.  You can also put all of your photos into an album or slideshow at the end as a keepsake.
  5. Save Leftover Materials. Ask the builder to save any leftover materials from your house, such as bricks, tiles, or other materials.  This will come in handy later on if you want to take a sample to match paint colors, curtains, or other decor.  We also used extra bricks to line the edge of a garden in our backyard.  Usually, the builder is happy to place excess materials in the attic or garage.

Stay tuned next week for part 3 of this series:  tips for after you’ve closed on your new home.