Donna Richardson

Broker

My Blog

To Keep or Not To Keep Your House on the Market During the Holidays!?!?!

12/8/2009
Donna's Take on This List:

With the holidays comes decorating, shopping, traveling, parties, luncheons...
in short enough chaos to make your head spin!  Add on top of that the stress
of selling your house, and most people just decide to take their house off
the market. However, the list below gives great ideas of why to keep your house
listed during the holiday lull. As always please feel free to call me with any
real estate questions, and for all of your real estate needs!
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9 Reasons to Keep Your Home on the Market During the Holidays

1.)     There is less competition for buyers.

2.)     Winter prospects are more serious buyers.

3.)     One of the highest percentages of "the listing sold" to "listing taken" occur during this time of year.

4.)     You may receive more money for your home now because you have less competition.

5.)     January is traditionally the biggest transfer month and you must be on the market to capture that market.

6.)    You may have fewer actual showings, but more qualified and motivated prospects.

7.)    Corporate transfers, who need to buy a home now, can't wait until spring.

8.)    A recession is a natural selection process, which weeds out contractors, lenders, appraisers and Realtors who are not highlyskilled in their fields. The people you deal with in a real estate transaction at this time are much more likely to be professional and skilled at what they do than in a boom market.

9.)    Curb Appeal.  If your landscape and lawn isn't that great, breathe a sigh of relief that no one else's is this time of year, either.   Add seasonal color, a wreath, perhaps some decorations. 


Staging

12/3/2009
Donna's Take on This Article:

Staging is a great way to get your home ready to sell, and sell quick!  Hiring a professional staging company can never hurt, but there are many ways you can do the work yourself, and all it will cost you is time.  De-personalizing a home, and de-cluttering are two of the hardest processes for sellers.  Immediately after they do not feel like it is "home" anymore.  However, think about the pros and the cons, and how good it will feel when you are done with the stresses of selling your home that much quicker!  Below is a great article that provides some tips for self staging.  Hope you enjoy the article!______________________________________________________________________________________________



Setting the Stage for Showings

BY LIN HILL

One of the most effective--and also one of the easiest--services you can offer sellers is to make sure their home looks its best.

Sellers may already have made repairs, repainted, and cleaned the carpets. But they dont always realize the power of small details.

After Ive listed a home, I stand at the front door and try to imagine that Im a prospective buyer. And almost always, the rooms are too cluttered.

I start by removing the first thing in my way and going on from there. Gradually, a path opens up, and the features of the house start to emerge.

The difference between personally uncluttering a home and merely advising sellers to do so is that both you and the sellers can see the results immediately. When Im finished, the house looks bigger, brighter, and more open. Sometimes sellers say to me, It looks bare. Its not like home anymore. And then I know Ive done my job.

Setting the scene in each room sells the houseno question. And sellers appreciate your personal involvement. It shows you care.

An expired listing I uncluttered recently was beautiful but crammed to the rafters with collectibles, floral arrangements, antiques, tapestries, and other treasures. After we removed about 25 percent of thoseitemsa typical amount--it was still beautiful, but now you could see the space, features, and detailing. It sold in three days.

In each room, I have three goals:

1. Depersonalizing the space by removing family photos, taking everything off the refrigerator, and stripping the kids rooms of posters and baseball trophies.

2. Clearing high-traffic areas of excess furnishings to maximize feelings of space and comfort.

3. Highlighting the key features in every room--such as fireplaces or French doors--by making sure theyre not obscured by plants or furnishings.

Sometimes, when youre selling a vacant house, you need to switch gears and add a little clutter. We listed a home recently that was 3,000 square feet and felt like a big, old barn inside. I asked the seller to bring some items from her home so that we could create a warm and friendly atmosphere.

She brought over two table settings for the breakfast bar, wine glasses, decorative pillows, candles, floral arrangements, towels for the baths, and pretty items for the shelves and counters. The result was that the house sold almost immediately at close to full price.

Here are some tips to help you set the stage for sellers:
  • Start with the living room. This is often the buyers first impression and can make or break the sale. If extensive clutter exists throughout the home, do the living room first and the rest later.
  • Partially clear off built-in shelves, cabinets, and countertops. These are important features that need to be prominently displayed.
  • Be encouraging. Remind sellers that removing clutter is a giant stress reducer as well as a good way to get a head start on packing.

Fitness Tips for Surviving the Holidays

12/2/2009
Donna's Take on This Article:

I hear it around the office, at home, or from random converstaions people are having in public..everyone is
 dreading the inevitable holiday weight gain.  However, there are numerous steps we can take as health
consience individuals to possibly avoid, or curtail the weight gain altogether.  The article below gives many
 good suggestions for keeping off the holiday pounds!  Enjoy!  (article taken from www.acefitness.com)

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ACE's Top 10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

The holidays can be a joyous time of year shared with family and friends, but they can also bring stress and anxiety as
we struggle to keep up with often-unrealistic demands and expectations.  That's why it is so important for all of us to relax and take good care of ourselves.  ACE's top tips for surviving the holidays are great for increasing your energy
and reducing your stress this season and all year long.

  1. Take time for yourself. Although spending time with friends and family is essential, it's also important to have at least five minutes to yourself to relax. Try practicing deep breathing exercise when you feel stressed out.

  1. Don't set unrealistic exercise goals. Aim to exercise 20 minutes a day instead of an hour. You'll be sure to get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day without feeling disappointed if you do not complete an hour.

  1. Enlist a friend or family member to exercise with you. Walking and talking with a friend can be a great way to burn extra calories and reduce your stress level.

  2. Create new, more active traditions. Instead of throwing a dessert or cocktail party, try snowshoeing or ice-skating as an alternate holiday event. Play powder puff football or build a snowman.

  3. Don't try to lose weight or stick to a restrictive diet this holiday season. If you enjoy your favorite foods in small portions, you'll feel more satisfied. Trying to stay away from certain foods may leave you feeling deprived, which may cause you to eat more than you intended to.

  4. Drink plenty of water. Although the cold weather may make you less inclined to grab a glass of water, it is just as important in the winter as it is during the summer. Water helps counter the dehydrating effects of travel or drinking alcoholic beverages, and it may also help satiate your appetite since thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

  5. Spread out meals. Don't feel like you have to eat everything at once. Try eating dinner early and then taking a walk before sitting down for dessert.

  6. Don't overdo it with alcohol or caffeine. These stimulants will only cause you more grief in the end by adding to your feelings of stress. Try drinking hot herbal tea instead of coffee, and keep the number of alcoholic drinks to a minimum.

  7. Don't aim for perfection, and enjoy the imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect party or the perfect decorations or the perfect way to spend the holidays. Don't set yourself up for disappointment by placing unrealistic demands on yourself.

  8. Laugh. Laughing is a great tension reliever. It burns calories, reduces stress and usually means that you're enjoying yourself.


Christmas Decorating Ideas

11/30/2009
Donna's Take in This Website:

A new trend has taken off in light of the recession.  More and more people are looking to
DIY projects, home-made gifts, and hand crafted decorations as opposed to store bought items. 
I have heard many of my customers mention this website (also a tv show that can be found on
cable television), and just thought I would share a link with those of you who follow my blog.  HGTV is a great place to find new ways to decorate your home, start home improvement projects, craft ideas, and so much more!  This particular link sends you to a page with christmas craft ideas.  I encourage everyone to browse around the entire site as it really has a lot of useful ideas and tips.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are looking forward to the rest of the Holiday Season to come!
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http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-and-entertaining/christmas-decorating-ideas/pictures/index.html

Making Home Affordable Program

11/24/2009

Donna's Take on This Article:  
A great article to educate those on the verge of losing their
home, as to their options.  Please feel free to call or email
me to discuss ways to help you keep your house.  I not only help
those needing to buy or sell, but those in need of assistance.
I never want to see anyone lose something they have worked
so hard to earn.  So please, feel free to contact me with any
questions/concerns. 
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Making Home Affordable Program
Taken From: Realtor.org 11/24/09

On February 18, 2009, President Obama announced his Making Home Affordable
Program (MHA), designed to help up to 7-9 million families avoid foreclosure by restructuring or refinancing their mortgages. In doing so, the plan not only
helps responsible homeowners behind on their payments or at risk of defaulting,
but prevents neighborhoods and communities from being pulled over the edge too,
as defaults and foreclosures contribute to falling home values, failing local
businesses, and lost jobs.

For more detailed information, visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov


GO GREEN! Low and Zero VOC Paint

11/23/2009

Donna's Take on This Article:
Everyone now-a-days is trying more and more to "Go Green".  One easy way to do this is to use low and zero VOC paint.  These paints are great for a low impact on the environment, and a great way to keep your house green and non-toxic.  Hope you enjoy the article, and learn of more ways on your own to help the environment! Every little bit helps.


Fume-free paints

Pocket-friendly prices, a rainbow of colors, and a finish for every surface are finally making zero-VOC paints the obvious choice

 

Fume-free paints

Zero-VOC paints 

DEFINITIONS

VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Organic chemical compounds that vaporize under most normal temperatures resulting in that wet paint smell. VOCs are associated with a range of health issues, from nausea and dizziness to respiratory problems and cancer.

Zero-VOC paint An industry standard generally referring to paint with less than 5 grams of VOC per liter. At the store, be sure to ask if the colorants used to tint the paints are also zero-VOC.

Low-VOC paint Generally referring to paint that contains less than 50 grams of VOC per liter.

6 COLORFUL OPTIONS

Coverage
Mythic: A one-coat option offering even, consistent, high-performance coverage. Look for vibrant new palettes by HGTVs Color Splash star, David Bromstad, due out this summer. INFO: 10 finishes, 1,232 colors, custom color matches ($16/qt., $46/gal.; 877/714-9422)

Old guard
AFM Safecoat: AFM paved the road for toxin-free paints 25 years ago (long before most people knew what VOC was) and is still a reliable choice. INFO: 3 finishes, 930 colors, custom color matches; most zero-VOC, a few low-VOC ($15/qt., $42/gal.; 800/239-0321)

Bang for the buck
The Freshaire Choice: Sold exclusively at the Home Depot, Freshaire offers a limited, mostly muted palette at an affordable price. A great choice for neutrals and whites. INFO: 3 finishes, 66 colors (from $34/gal.; 866/880-0304 for stores)

Super natural
Green Planet Paints: Produced in Phoenix, these interior wall paints are based on soy resin, clay, mineral pigments, and other natural materials. INFO: 3 finishes, 48 colors, custom color matches (from $48/gal.; 520/394-2571)

Newbie
Natura: All of Benjamin Moores colors are available in Natura, the companys first residential zero-VOC paint line, now in wide distribution. INFO: 3 finishes, 3,500 colors, custom color matches ($19/qt., $50/gal.; 800/672-4686 for stores)

Colors
Yolo Colorhouse: Though its not the only zero-VOC paint company with limitless color matching, Yolos nature-inspired custom palettes set it apart. Its new Color of Hope collection is 36 bold and energetic hues meant to create positive, comfortable spaces. INFO: 3 finishes, 127 colors, custom color matches ($15/qt., $45/gal.; 877/493-8275)

 

 

House Hunting for a Cave

11/19/2009
Donna's Take On This Article:

Just when you thought the house you were looking for had to be unique and different, up pops a website for cave houses!  Yes, that's right, a house that has been built into a cave!  Below is the website for a purely, fun and enjoyable look into a Cave House for sale.  However, if some of you are ever in the market for a cave, lighthouse, warehouse etc..., I would love to try and help!  Hope everyone is gearing up for a safe, happy, and fun Holiday Season!

www.thecavehouse.com

How to Choose a Realtor

11/16/2009

Donna's Take On This Article:

"How to Choose a Realtor" was taken From Realtor.com on 11-16-09.  I feel that buyers, sellers, investors, and relocators need to educate themselves on what a good Realtor truly means.  Below is some good, insightful information on how to choose the best Realtor possible.  Never be afraid to ask questions, and interview several Realtors before making a commitment.  I hope you enjoy this article!



Not all agents or brokers are REALTORS® -- there is a difference.

As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world's largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®.

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The term "REALTOR®" is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). In most areas, it is the REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give you access to the greatest number of homes.

Using an agent and the obligations that are owed to you
An agent is bound by certain legal obligations. Traditionally, these common-law obligations are to: Put the client's interests above anyone else's; Keep the client's information confidential; Obey the client's lawful instructions; Report to the client anything that would be useful; and Account to the client for any money involved.

NOTE: A REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct under the NARs Code of Ethics. In recent years, state laws have been passed setting up various duties for different types of agents. As you start working with a REALTOR®, ask for a clear explanation of your state's current regulations, so that you will know where you stand on these important matters.

The difference between a buyer's and a seller's broker
Suppose you sign an offer to buy a home for $150,000. You really want the property and there's a chance other offers are coming in, so you tell the broker that "We'll go up to $160,000 if we have to. But of course don't tell that to the seller." If you're dealing with a seller's agent, he or she may be duty-bound to tell the seller that important fact. In most states, the seller's agent doesn't have any duty of confidentiality toward you. Honest treatment might require that the agent warn you that "I must convey to the seller anything that would be useful so don't tell me anything you wouldn't tell the seller."

Your Money

Make the most of your money. Our finance section features information about banking, loans, insurance, taxes, investing and more.

TIP: If you're dealing with seller's agents, its a good idea to keep confidential information to yourself. These days many home buyers prefer instead to hire a buyer's broker, one who owes the full range of duties, including confidentiality and obedience, to the buyer. A buyer's broker is often paid by the seller, regardless of the agency relationship.

How to evaluate an agent
In making your decision to work with an agent, there are certain questions you should ask when evaluating a potential agent. The first question you should ask is whether the agent is a REALTOR® . You should then ask:

  • Does the agent have an active real estate license in good standing? To find this information, you can check with your states governing agency.
  • Does the agent belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online home buyers search service? Multiple Listing Services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that provide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region.
  • Is real estate their full-time career?
  • What real estate designations does the agent hold?
  • Which party is he or she representing--you or the seller? This discussion is supposed to occur early on, at "first serious contact" with you. The agent should discuss your state's particular definitions of agency, so you'll know where you stand.
  • In exchange for your commitment, how will the agent help you accomplish your goals? Show you homes that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you?
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