You’ve been working on getting your home ready to go on the market for a few weeks. You’ve been tackling various projects; cleaning up the yard, touching up the paint, and de-cluttering. Unfortunately, these projects may seem to take more time than you had imagined and now the time has come for your home to be photographed. Preparing your home for photos is a little like preparing your home for a party. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but overall you want it to appear tidy and clean.
First on your list should be removing clutter. If you’re running low on time, this means cramming everything in the closets, drawers and boxes in the garage. Obviously this isn’t the best approach for long term, but if you just need the home presentable for photos, this is your best bet. You really want only a few minimal items on all the countertops in the home. Hide all your kitchen appliances in the cabinets, and make sure all the random papers, personal items, and cooking supplies are off the kitchen countertops.
In the bathrooms, place all of your personal items (toothbrush, deodorant, beauty supplies etc.) in a large Tupperware, bath caddy, or box. Place this box under the sink. Your countertops will be clear, and you can utilize this method throughout the showing process as well. Simply remove the box in the mornings and evenings, perform your daily hygiene routine and then put the box back under the sink.
Don’t forget the pet’s and kid’s stuff. Hide food and water bowls in closets. Make sure the litter box is tucked away out of sight. Stuff the kids toys under beds or in the closet, and make sure all of the kids and animals are out of the way for the photos.
When it comes to cleaning your home for photos, you can get away with doing a lot less than you will need to do to prepare your home for showings. For photos, you want to focus on a few main areas: floors, countertops, and windows. Make sure the carpet is vacuumed and steam cleaned if necessary. Have stubborn stains? This stuff works miracles! Sweep and mop the hard surface floors, and make sure to clean the countertops and kitchen appliances. Windows are important too! If time permits, take the screens off. Photos look better without the mesh in the background. If you’re running short on time, make sure to clean the most prominent windows, especially if they reveal a pretty view.
Outside you will want to make sure the lawn is cut and leaves are raked or blown away. Hide your trash bins in the garage or on the side of the house. Nothing ruins a gorgeous first shot of your home more than an unsightly waste bin. Last but not least, don’t forget the lights. Make sure all of your lights are functioning and have bulbs. Open all of your blinds and curtains to let in natural light. Great light really does make a great photo.
Preparing for listing photos leads to great images. First impressions occur with your home’s photos these days. Do yourself a favor and take these steps to ensure your home looks it’s very best when buyer’s see it online. Thinking about selling your Austin area home? Contact me today for more home selling tips.
The Austin Real Estate Market is not showing any signs of slowing down. Yesterday, the Austin Board of REALTORS released the March 2018 market reports for the Austin Area. Across the board, we are seeing median price increases and an increase in the volume of single-family residential sales. With new listings going under contract quite quickly, we are also seeing an increase in the number of pending sales.
In the greater Austin area which encompasses Austin and suburbs such as Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Kyle, Buda, and Manor, known as the Austin-Round Rock MSA, the median sales price reached $305,233 last month. That figure is up 4% compared to March 2017’s Austin area median sales price. Even more remarkably, this area saw a total of 2,714 single family sales last month; this is more sales than any previous March.
Within the Austin-Round Rock MSA, the average days on market (ADOM) increased slightly from last year. Homes stayed on the market approximately 3 days longer with an ADOM of 61 days last month. Homes prices under $250K in the greater Austin area averaged far fewer days on market.
In the City of Austin, single family homes spent on average 46 days on market last month. This is about 5 days less than the ADOM in March of 2017. The median sales price within the City of Austin increased only slightly compared to the median sales price of last March. Last month, the median sales price for single family homes in the Austin city limits was $370K.
Inventory continues to be a problem across the board as well. A balanced market consists of 6.5 months of available homes. Within the City of Austin, there is about 1.5 months of inventory; the greater Austin area has about 2.2 months. As buyers continue to seek out more affordable areas to live, suburbs like Buda are facing a shortage in supply. Last month, there was 1.9 months of inventory in Buda. In comparison, in March of 2017, Buda had 2.4 months of inventory. As inventory decreases, buyers are moving farther out to suburbs like Kyle in order to find homes.
If you are interested in learning more about the market conditions in your Austin neighborhood, contact me today. I’d be happy to give you a detailed breakdown of the activity happening in your hood.
The Austin real estate market can be quite competitive. It’s not uncommon for lower priced homes to have more than one offer within the first day of being listed for sale. As a buyer, there are a variety of strategies you can implement to put your best foot forward in this situation.
First, it’s important to find out what is important to the seller. Are they looking for a quick close? Will they appreciate your emotional attachment to the home? Or, do they simply want to accept the offer that will net them the most money?
What you find out about the seller’s motivations will help you craft the most competitive offer. Regardless, of their preferences, a significant amount of earnest money will illustrate serious interest in the home. For example, if you traditionally would put $3,000 in earnest money on a $300,000 home. You could instead offer $5,000 in earnest money. This money will be applied to the sales price if your offer is accepted and you move forward with the purchase, or will be returned to you if you back out during the option period.
That brings me to my second point, the option period. The option period is a specific amount of days you pay for to do all necessary due-diligence on the home. This is typically when the inspection is performed, and if you decide to back out during the option period, your earnest money is returned to you and you just lose the option money. Shortening the number of days in your option period strengthens your offer. Additionally, increasing the amount of option money shows you have more skin in the game. Using the same example as before, consider offering $300 option money for a 5 day option period verse $150 for a 10 day option period. Again, if you proceed with the purchase, this money will be applied to the sales price. Click here to learn more about option money vs earnest money.
Traditionally, the seller pays for the owner’s title policy. Want to make your offer uber competitive? Offer to pay for the owner’s title policy. Similarly, consider taking on the survey expense if needed.
Ultimately, multiple offers are a numbers game. Various items take away from the seller’s net proceeds such as: home warranty, survey, closing costs, and the title policy. Consider removing these from your offer, or come in with a higher purchase price to counteract them.
Illustrating that you have the financial capacity to purchase the home is also critical. If you are submitting a cash over, make sure to send proof of funds. If you are using financing, sending a pre-approval letter is the minimum. A phone call or email from the lender directly to the listing agent is even better. In Texas, the third party financing addendum specifies the number of days required for buyer approval. The shorter the number of days, the more appealing your offer is to the seller. Furthermore, consider waving the appraisal contingency if you can. By stating upfront that you will pay the difference in cash between the appraised value and the offer price, you show the seller that you mean business.
Combine these strategies with what you know about the seller to craft the strongest offer. If the home is vacant, they may value a quick close. Can you move your closing date up to be more competitive? Did you see a beautiful dog house in the back and recognize the sellers as animal lovers? Maybe a hand written note with a pic of Spot will help you win over the hearts of the seller.
If you’re interested in purchasing in the Austin area, don’t be frightened. This market is competitive, but with a strong agent by your side, you can get the home you deserve. Contact me today to get started.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.