Q&A Make it pretty, sell it fast

It’s no secret that the housing market is booming in the greater Portland metro area.

Rental rates have soared and the population is increasing; inventory is tight and prices are rising.

So we decided to ask some local Realtors about buying and selling your home. We asked each Realtor to answer one or two of the submitted questions.

What funny thing has happened to you showing a home?

Lorraine Rose:

• There was the time I took a young man from Alaska on a tour of Portland’s residential areas. It was a hot summer afternoon and he had marveled how green everything was compared how brown  things were in Alaska.  As I drove him around he became quieter until I looked and he was on his back, sweat pouring off his face. At that time, I had no air conditioning in my little Peugeot and the heat had virtually knocked him out.  He staggered out of my car and I did not see him ever again.  Needless to say I got a new car with air conditioning!!

• In the days before GPS, I took a young couple from England out to the country because he wanted “a little house in the country.” Not being too familiar with the countryside outside Portland, I drove ignorantly through rural areas. Soon we came upon a small vacant house. “This is it,” he cried and came and hugged me saying, “Lorraine, you do make dreams come true!”

How should you prepare your home for sale?

Jeanne Paul: The answer is very individual to a home. I find that we all fill whatever space we have, so usually decluttering is first on the list for many homes. We also sell a home differently from how we live in a home, so next on the list is shifting furniture to positions that open the home up and best define the spaces in a way that will resonate with buyers. Finally, a general sprucing up of the exterior approach to the home – it’s the first impression for potential buyers. Plant fresh flowers, remove moss from walkways and make sure the front door is freshly painted. If necessary, we formulate a plan with sellers to make reasonable cosmetic upgrades and coordinate with contractors on their behalf.

How should you prepare your home for sale?

Joe Menashe: Decluttering is job 1. This could be one of the most difficult things you do, especially for those who are planning to downsize. Our American culture teaches us to keep things forever. Don’t let sentimental value stifle your efforts. Start planning to donate, order a dumpster, take items to the consignment store or choose a target date for a garage sale. Don’t forget to recycle old paint cans. Buyers do not consider paint cans a gift. Keep in mind that the home-selling process is similar to a beauty pageant. This process of decluttering also serves as a detachment exercise that will serve you well as you go on the active market and start hearing feedback from prospective buyers.

Take care of all deferred maintenance. Most of you know what I am talking about: the much-needed pressure washing of your front walkway and the back patio; the missing switch plate, the broken sprinkler head. But what about the conditions you are not aware of? When is the last time you spent any time in your crawl space or the attic? A pre-emptive house inspection ordered by the seller can save you a lot of aggravation by revealing hidden conditions that could be found in a buyer’s inspection. By fixing problems before a buyer has a chance to overreact, it will not only cost you less to fix before repair negotiations, but it will remove the opportunity for a buyer to back out of sale because of the exposed condition. It is always good to have a conversation with your Realtor as to what repairs are necessary prior to going on the market.

Wrap it in a bow. Street appeal is important and sends signals to a would-be buyer. Your front and backyard is the gift wrap. Some companies will do a one-time yard cleanup. Cut back the overgrown shrubs, remove dead branches, plant annuals and be sure to add some decorative pots. Remember that (like the beauty pageant) you are preparing the property for the professional photo shoot. Over 90% of home buyers today begin their home search online.

What does a buyer need to be aware of in today’s market?

Carolyn Weinstein: Robin and I have always said “There is a ‘now-ness’ to real estate.” In this sellers’ market, with low inventory, it is important for buyers to be pre-approved by a lender and move forward in a decisive manner. We educate our clients to choose a location that is right for them and what the market is like in that specific locale. In some areas, they need to be prepared for multiple offers where over-asking prices are very likely. Today, buyers need to have a cast iron stomach.

Jeanne Paul: It’s a very frustrating time for buyers. Homes are selling very quickly and often with multiple offers. Buyers must work swiftly and strategically with their real estate agent to secure a home. This is not a “sleep on it” market. More often than not, waiting – even hours – can mean the difference between securing a home and missing it.

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