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how to market your home

How Art Staging Can Impact the Sale of Your Home

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How Art Staging Can Impact the Sale of Your Home

There is a perception paradox that sometimes exists within real estate: the idea that an empty minimalist home offers a blank slate for potential buyers to imagine their perfect home. While a small slice of the general population may have the unique vision to picture a space with cascading light features, warm and inviting furniture arrangements, or eye-catching objets d’art, the majority of buyers look to experts in interior design for help. The truth is, the benefits of staging your home are extensive. Properly staged homes spend substantially less time on the market, routinely sell for more money, and frequently end up on must-see lists.

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3 Ways to Boost Curb Appeal for Kitsap County Home Buyers

Home buyers’ first impressions are visual, and a flawed exterior will turn them away faster than a two-hour wait time at a family restaurant. Kitsap County curb appeal is the same as it is anywhere: when ‘curb appeal’ becomes ‘curb repel,’ the outcome to expect is at best offer numbers lower than they should be. Since major exterior remodels can carry prohibitive price tags, keeping the asking price competitive involves finding ways to brighten up the outside of a home without breaking the bank. It’s doable (and affordably) when you tackle the issue keeping the bottom line in mind. Some ideas: 

1. Go for the Deep Clean 

Cleaning up is the first order of business—but creating true curb appeal may mean being prepared to go beyond the surface. Remove any weeds attacking walkways, then rent a power washer to clean both them and the home exterior (being careful that the power setting isn’t so strong it damages fragile areas). If the gutters look moldy or mildewed, use it on them, too—perhaps with a little mildew-killing solution to finish the job. Really important: wash the windows (once your local prospects get past the curb appeal hurdle, sparkling windows are guaranteed to brighten their impression of the inside). 

2. Pick Pots 

A mistake many homeowners make is to spend a bundle on landscaping at the last minute. If you’ve devoted years to fostering a well laid-out and cared-for garden, it’s a big plus—but just too expensive to try to create in a few weeks. A pretty yard can certainly help with curb appeal, but it’s also true that not every local buyer will be looking for a gardening experience that involves much upkeep. The budget-minded alternative that can be quite effective? Add the color and curb appeal of flowering plants—but put them in pots. This has the added value of providing local home buyers with green thumbs the general idea of what the yard could look like with their loving care, but without the permanence of established plants. If your home offers a pristine canvas, prospects are more likely to draw their own home ideal on it. 

3. Numeral-ology 

You’d be surprised at how difficult some people make it to just to find their home. You need only provide an address that’s clearly visible from the street, to obey the Curb Appeal First Commandment: Thou shalt not irritate thy buyers! Adding big, attractive house numbers in a font that matches the style of the property is a finishing touch whose value far outstrips the cost and effort involved. 

Curb appeal predictably affects both the speed and bottom line of any sale. When you boost it with just a little bit of time and money, you expand the opportunity to show off the gracious interior of your home. Give me a call anytime—we’ll put our heads together to come up with more ideas to tweak your property in ways that are effective and cost-effective!



Photos That Make (or Break) A Listing's Success

Your home listing is, hands-down, the most likely place prospective buyers will get their first glimpse of the home you are selling. Most serious prospects will go online as an early step in the process of winnowing candidate properties by area, asking price, number of bedrooms, etc.—so the photos in your home listing will be your offering’s face to the world.

You probably already know that—and that not all pictures are created equal. What’s important to realize is that some home listing photos actually scare away buyers! Whether you are preparing for a professional photographer’s shooting day or just helping your REALTOR® choose the shots that will be included in your area home listing, here are some red flag/don’t go there/bad idea/just-say-no off-kilter ideas for real estate photos. If you steer clear of these approaches, you home listing will benefit:

Adorable Pets in the Shot

Resist the temptation to make your home more appealing and homier by include the cuddliest member of the family—your pet. “But,” (your may be thinking) “half the commercials on TV have a dog or a cat in them! Apparently, animals sell!” Madison Avenue might be able to use four-legged actors to promote some products, but the sight of Fluffy or Fido in a home listing will turn off most buyers. Although no one can smell your pet through an online photo (at least not yet), many people can imagine what smells might be associated with that pooch or feline. “One of the biggest reasons people will or won’t buy a house is odor,” says Don Aslett on the MSN Real Estate website—and few REALTORs would argue the point. So be on the safe side—leave pets on the cutting room floor.

Odd Camera Angles

It can be tempting to shoot photos from a low angle, pointing the camera toward the ceiling. The idea might be to make rooms look as if they have higher ceilings—or to fit everything into the shot—and sometimes the result does look fine. But equally likely is a photo that ends up looking, well, odd. Off-balance shots can make viewers feel uncomfortable, as if something’s just not right. You want your photos to look as realistic as possible, as if it’s what everybody sees on a home tour. IOW, if a photo is in any way jarring, opt for one taken from a normal point of view.

Focus Misdirection

Most listings show everything in acceptably sharp focus: in photographer jargon, they exhibit wide Depth-of-Field. But where lighting or lens dictate shallow depth, only part of the shot will be in sharp focus…and that’s the area that will attract the viewer’s eye. Use this to your advantage. For instance, it’s good to show pictures of the master bathroom—especially if it resembles a spa retreat—but it’s bad to focus on the commode instead of the Carrera marble vanity.

Putting together a killer listing is an important part of the comprehensive service my clients receive.



A Real Estate Agent on Bainbridge Island —Willing to Share a Thing or 3!

Real estate agents on Bainbridge Island are true veterans when it comes to every aspect of what needs to take place for a home to be sold. We know in advance what all the pieces of the puzzle are, and what needs to be done for them to fit together properly. We’ve also seen why some homes stay on the market for too long, while others get snatched up right away. And the best part is—we want our clients to know all those same things!

Every rule may be made to be broken, but here are three generalities that just about every Baibridge Island  real estate agent will probably agree are worth knowing:

1. Where speed is important, price your house just under the market. As real estate values strengthen, sellers are growing more confident about the value of their offerings—even as prospective buyers continue to believe it’s a bargain-hunter’s market. That’s a terrific opportunity for sellers who realize that by simply setting their asking price just below what an optimistic, “let’s just see what happens” price, they can peg their offering to attract the serious buyers ASAP. It’s axiomatic: the longer a house is on the market, the less likely it is to close at its asking price. The best strategy, always: sell as quickly as possible.

2. A buyer needs to walk into your house and find that it looks great. It may seem like a trivial detail to you, but real estate agents on Bainbrudge Island know that even incidental atmospherics—little things that you’d think a buyer would know they can easily rectify—can instantaneously repel buyers. So make your home smell great! Establish a clean, fresh scent and be diligent in renewing it for every showing (after making sure any clutter is tucked away!)

3. Your Bainbridge Island  real estate agent will help speed the process of selling your home, but there are some parts of the timeline that can’t be rushed. Know in advance: the process takes time. It takes time to get your home in shape, make the necessary repairs, list it on the market, negotiate an offer, then proceed through all the paperwork, observing successive deadlines set to allow proper execution. Here’s another area where your real estate agent will be a great resource for dependably establishing exactly what to expect—and when to expect it.

If you will be seeking the right local real estate agent to make this summer your own hot selling season, I’m standing by to make it happen. Call me!



Real Estate Roundup, 2013 Edition, Sizzle and All!

It’s time for this Bainbridge Island real estate observer to tackle the New Year’s roundup of the Year in Real Estate (along with the traditional disclaimer that, since the actual statistics won’t be tallied until 2014, this has to be a lot more sizzle than steak!) But this is one time in the year when we Bainbridge Island residents get to take pause to relax, perhaps put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge for later on, and take a sweeping view of the general direction of things across the land.

If you’ve been reading here throughout the year, you already know that 2013 Bainbridge Island real estate activity might easily justify chilling a superior vintage champagne: it’s been a pretty darn good year! A smattering of last week’s press reports confirms it:

  • From the East Coast to Oahu (where there was a “1 in 3 chance” that if you sold a house, it was for more than the asking price), reports were of steadily rising prices.
  • The Business Insider reported that the Big Apple “managed to shatter several real estate records in 2013.” One of the records was a tidy listing for a modest little 62,000 sq. ft. private coop residence. Sure, $130 million may sound a little steep to us here on Bainbridge Island, but that might be because so few of our digs have 82-foot swimming pools or tennis courts…at least not indoors, inside our five-story apartment atop a skyscraper.
  • More down to earth might be NAR’s assessment that “Housing prices rose faster than expected” — with a lot of credit given to the fact that “affordability remained high.”
  • Another factor: “More first-time buyers” were entering the market due to “rising rents and pent-up demand.”
  • Following suit, the Dallas News was touting a local home market that “came roaring back in 2013;” one that had “builders rushing to keep up with demand for new houses.”
  • The Realtor® web awarded credit for the strong real estate year to “Low mortgage rates, all-cash buyers, and tight inventories” that sustained the housing market recovery. Our Bainbridge Island real estate saw much of the same.
  • There was one notably bleak spot: “ACT real estate hit hard by election” the Times reported. “Uncertainty” about election politics had created “subdued performance during the year” and some “negative house price growth.” The best news: this was the Canberra Times – and the country was Australia!

So let’s wish those Down Under a quick turnaround; then, after a relaxing day watching the Rose Parade and a bowl game or two, let’s get ready to charge into an equally dynamic 2014.

Happy New Year, everyone!



Bainbridge Island Luxury Home Sales Hinge on Lifestyle Marketing

Luxury home sales often trace a path that differs from the rest of the market. Just as high-end buyers can afford to take their time to find exactly the property they are looking for, Bainbridge Island luxury homeowners tend to pick and choose when they will market their properties. That's pretty much what happened in the aftermath of the 2008 housing crisis: many luxury home owners on Bainbridge Island decided to hold off and wait for the market to rebound before listing. Now, as the housing market continues to recover and home values continue to rise, the potential number of buyers interested in these homes is also on the upswing.

For those who have been postponing the sale of their own Bainbridge Island luxury home, this fall is shaping up as a likely time to act. Before you list though, it can't hurt to revisit some basic truths in high-end real estate marketing.

Selling a luxury home requires a different marketing psychology than does traditional real estate. It simply takes longer to find the buyers for these homes, so it is almost always necessary for their owners to practice extra patience throughout the sales process.


It is absolutely essential to work with a real estate professional with experience and connections in the luxury market. An experienced agent understands the ins and outs of selling a Bainbridge Island luxury home. It's not unusual for them to have fostered a network of qualified potential buyers who may be interested in the property.

Luxury home sales are driven by the desire to attain or maintain a specific lifestyle. It is often necessary to sell the lifestyle as effectively as the home itself. This means staging the home properly, highlighting specific “starring” details, and making sure that everything inside and out is immaculately maintained. It means a little more work for both home owner and agent, but the plus side is the size of the reward at day's end.

If you have a luxury home on Bainbridge Island and suspect that now is the right time to sell, contact me for the kind of reliable guidance that brings success!



Rise in Real Estate Prices Slows — and That’s Good News!

The future of real estate prices in Bainbridge Island is always a matter of keen interest to area homeowners. So it’s important when the latest national numbers in the Case-Shiller Index show that the rate of rise in real estate prices has begun to slow.

Bainbridge Island homeowners should be pleased!

“WHAT?” you may well be thinking. If the rise in national or Bainbridge Island real estate prices is slowing down, why in the world would that please homeowners? The answer is only a little bit convoluted.

The fact is, the recent remarkable leaps in real estate prices had some knowledgeable observers shaking their heads. The Business Insider even headlined, “These Home Price Gains are Not Normal, Sustainable, Or Believable.” Business Insider was reacting to the previous three straight months’ real estate price appreciation “above 10%.” They speculated that a large number of foreclosures now being recycled at more normal price levels had created an artificially high growth rate.

That’s why slowing down a little would mean a more normal market — and more reliable growth statistics. Other conditions make that story easy to accept:

While interest rates have risen slightly, at today’s rates, borrowing is still notably inexpensive. The increase in investor participation (they tend to pay in cash) also reflects the more conservative lending environment.

By the end of the financial crisis, construction in many parts of the country had fallen sharply, leading to a tight housing inventory. The shorter supply caused additional pressure on real estate prices.

Another factor: rising rents. Whenever the economy performs well, rentals reflect it, in turn stimulating Bainbridge Island real estate prices. The economy may not be as robust as we’d wish, but its positive direction plus the stock market’s rebound have combined to support value growth.

What to expect from real estate prices in Bainbridge Island this fall? Going forward, I would expect to see a continuation of gains at the slightly slower rates we are beginning to register. If that’s the case, anyone looking to re-enter the residential market should find that now is the time to start looking…and offering. Call me to discuss your own outlook!




Web Appeal is Bainbridge Island’s New Curb Appeal


Remember the days when you didn’t have to rummage furiously through the house to find a ringing phone, because it stayed where it was supposed to be—plugged into the wall? You remember: it used to take less than 10 minutes to check out the TV listings because there weren’t hundreds of channels. And a gallon of gas cost less than a loaf of bread…

Those days are long gone and in the real estate profession, the good ol’ days are gone, too. When I’m helping a client sell his or her home, I make the most of the fact that the super-highway to today’s buyer is no longer the newspaper or snail mail. It’s the Web.

The first glimpse potential buyers get to any property is  most often found through our Bainbridge Island real estate listings. Those attention-grabbing real estate listings are the agent and seller’s best chance to attract an in-person visit—with all that follows.

So how do you help your agent ace get your Bainbridge Island real estate noticed?  You need to set the stage!

Photographs are your best listings allies, so “stage” the house before photography begins. Professional photographers know that the viewer’s eye will be attracted to any out-of-place detail: a dog bed in a corner, or one window with a blind pulled lower than the others will create a distracting element. What looks okay in real life is much less critical. 

Savvy buyers will peruse real estate listings in Bainbridge Island online before scheduling visits. They save time, effort, and expense—and for those not committed to a specific area, the wealth of information published online about the community helps narrow their search. If you’re looking to sell your house, be sure your listing catches the attention of those serious and educated buyers. They’re the ones who are likely to write an offer.

Ready to set the stage for a successful sale? I’d love to prepare a marketing plan for you this spring!