preparing your home for sale

Selling a Messy Home in Sacramento

selling a messy house

Selling a messy house presents challenges that are not always insurmountable.

Selling a messy home in Sacramento can be quite the challenge but not completely impossible. Being a Sacramento Realtor who rarely meets a home she does feel a strong urge to remodel with her own two bare hands, there are times I have to muster all of my strength to keep a straight face when talking with prospective sellers. It’s a gift in a way, to know when to keep your trap shut and how to temper words.

Being a good Realtor means you can’t let every unfiltered thought flow out of your mouth. Thinking before speaking is paramount. It’s a technique that can be difficult to teach others. Everyone knows I tend to tell it like it is but practicing restraint can also be a beautiful thing. Now, I don’t have any horrible listings at the moment and am not presently engaged in selling a messy home in Sacramento, which is precisely why I can talk about some of my past accomplishments. I try to never discuss any sales in progress. That’s just bad business.

This is blog for the people who spot questionable photographs in MLS and ask in an incredulous tone: how can another Sacramento Realtor publish such photos of a messy home in Sacramento? Isn’t she trying to sell it? Why would anybody do that? Does she know how bad those photos appear?

Why yes, yes she does know how bad those photos make the home appear. The thing is, the house is not going to magically transform itself into the Palace of Versailles when the buyer tours the home. If the place looks like Grey Gardens from the Beale era, it’s gonna showcase all of that squalor to a buyer, regardless. A vase of fresh flowers will not change perception. An agent may as well advertise to the type of buyer who will see value.

Reminds me of a seller I worked with years ago. She was selling a messy home in Sacramento and had called me to list. She forced me to step over piles of garbage on the floor; stuff was scattered a foot deep from one end to the other, featuring a big ol’ pile of rubbish lined up along the walls. This seller removed a framed picture from the wall, pointed to the nail and asked if she should try to cover the hole it would leave with spackle.

She was serious. Completely oblivious to the mess. That’s the thing to realize about selling a messy home in Sacramento. People are not gonna change their living habits in the blink of an eye. I sold another messy home in Sacramento in which a gigantic pile of rats had been swept into the center of the floor. The occupants stood over the rats puffing like crazy on cigarettes. I’ve sold homes that have been stripped and gutted by thugs, homes that smelled so badly I couldn’t enter, homes that by the principles of gravity should not still be standing.

Bottom line, if it’s priced right, anything will sell.

It Takes a Lot of Work to Sell Homes in Midtown Sacramento or Auburn

country homes in auburn

Cow looking over a pond in Auburn, CA

My cute Craftsman home in Midtown went into escrow this morning after hitting the market Tuesday afternoon, and it made me realize how some people will undoubtedly believe that we make it look all too easy. All they see is a home coming on the market and a home immediately selling, and they think to themselves that either agents make too much money or that it’s so danged easy they can do it themselves.

What they don’t see is the work behind the scenes. Nor how 40-some years in the real estate business can add up to a bazillion refinements and tweaks in how the professionals do business. I can honestly say that I improve every year as a Sacramento Realtor, constantly reassessing and adjusting for market conditions. It’s a fluid process.

I start working on many of my listings months in advance, especially to sell homes in Midtown. My conversations with that seller started in November of last year. I am working on a bunch of new listings about to hit the market on September 11. Yeah, yeah, it seems an appropriate day. To take it back without forgetting is to gain strength and power.

I have a new listing coming up in Auburn, and I met with the sellers yesterday. They are referrals from a home I sold in Cameron Park. Beautiful home on 5 acres with an enormous workshop, 45 feet x 30 feet x 16 feet high, insulated, heated and powered to the max. Plus a barn with stalls for horses. We need to make some updates and improvements prior to putting the home on the market, plus we need to optimize the best time for market exposure, so we’re working on that end of it now.

Not to mention the hours I poured through MLS and other online records, studying the comparable sales, analyzing sales patterns and looking for future pricing directions to arrive at a sales price. This is the single most hardest thing to do and get right — and if you mess it up, that home will be stigmatized and tarnished. My entire purpose is to get the seller the highest price possible.

horse in auburn in a barn stall

There are no restrictions on horses in Auburn

While I was in Auburn, I stopped to see my assistant who lives in Auburn as well. She took me on a tour of her acreage and ponds in an ATV. I hope you like the photo of her cow standing by the pond and one of her horses. I felt a little bit like Eva Gabor of that TV show Green Acres, in my magenta suede heels, but what the hey. If you can’t take a horse snorting on you, you can’t work with others in real estate. I’ve discovered over the years that selling country properties uses the same principles that apply to any other sale, with just a few slight twists.

But it’s a long process and won’t be for sale until after Labor Day. I’m ordering the drone photography today to get on their shooting schedule. We will set up an open house and, if all goes well, within a week or two of hitting the market, we should snag a big fat fish on our fishing line. Because whether it’s to sell homes in Midtown or selling country ranches in Auburn, my sellers get my 40 years of experience and almost 30 days of prep work to get to this point.

Photos: Elizabeth Weintraub, country home in Auburn

The One Thing a Seller Needs to Sell a Sacramento Home

carbon monoxide detectors

The one thing sellers need to sell a home in Sacramento.

What does every home in Sacramento need to have to sell to a first-time home buyer who is obtaining financing? You might think the home needs a roof, and you would be right about that. Others might guess a floor and walls, and you’d be partially correct about that answer. Somebody else might suggest a kitchen, and while a home needs to have a sink and stove, it doesn’t need what you might call a full-blown kitchen or even a door to close off that kitchen area. The answer is every home needs a carbon monoxide detector.

Those carbon monoxide detectors have become the bane of our existence for a Sacramento real estate agent. I knew it when the law was passed that this would somehow trickle down to become the listing agent’s responsibility, even though it’s on the buyer’s behalf. Because although the law says homes are required to have a carbon monoxide detector, there are no carbon monoxide detector police about to crash that home and give the homeowner a ticket for not having a CO detector.

I imagine if the home burned down, and the insurance company could prove there was no carbon monoxide detector in the home, that the insurance company could find a way to reject a claim. But when a buyer pays cash and does not insist on a carbon monoxide detector, well, nobody will stop a seller from closing escrow without installing them.

The other question that comes up is how many carbon monoxide detectors are required in California for a home? Are they like smoke detectors and you need one in every bedroom? Nope. The law seems pretty clear that you need a carbon monoxide detector near the bedrooms. If you have a two-story house with a bedroom on the first floor, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor. If it is new construction, a carbon monoxide detector is required on every floor.

This might lead you to believe that if all of the bedrooms are upstairs you need only one carbon monoxide detector, as long as your home is not new construction. While, that might be the strict interpretation of the law, my experience shows that an appraiser will probably see this differently and most likely will require that the home have two carbon monoxide detectors. A third, if there’s a basement.

So, do yourself a favor. If you’re putting your home on the market in Sacramento, just make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor. The appraiser has the last word.

Here is handy fact sheet from C.A.R. about Carbon Monoxide Detectors in California. If you’re looking for more tips from this Sacramento real estate agent, feel free to call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.

Home Staging in Sacramento is Worth It

Home StagingThere are some markets in which a Sacramento real estate agent can barely get her sign planted in the front yard before her email starts dinging with purchase offers, which can make home staging pretty much overkill. This Sacramento fall market of 2013 is NOT one of those markets. Oh, but you might say there isn’t much inventory, but there is almost twice as much inventory as we had last spring. But half of that inventory is overpriced or a mess. So, in that regard, you’d be right, there isn’t much inventory.

This means if you want to sell your home quickly, without a lot of fuss and for a decent price, you’ll need to do home staging. You can hire a professional stager or you can do it yourself with your listing agent’s help, but for best results, get the home staged. This doesn’t mean you need to be deceptive, but your home is now a product and must be sold like a product. When a buyer walks into your house, she better be walking into a commercial that says buy me as she rounds every corner.

Agents are influenced as well, and while you would think an agent can look past the disarray, it is never a good idea to let a buyer’s agent view a home in less than stellar condition. I made that mistake once a number of years ago, and I allowed agents to preview a home that wasn’t ready for the market. Beds were unmade, toys strewn about the floor and clutter everywhere. I thought the agents could see past it, but they couldn’t. That image was ingrained in their minds, and it took me a long time to sell that home, even after it was fixed up and ready for sale.

Now, my policy is nobody gets in to see a home before it is staged and ready. Of course, not every seller is willing to stage. It doesn’t mean I won’t list the home because I will, and I will eventually sell it, too. Just not as fast. And maybe for not as much. Like I said, not every market requires staging. But this fall market in Sacramento definitely is screaming for quality inventory in tip top shape.

Elizabeth Weintraub Video on Home Staging

How Soon Should You Call Your Sacramento Agent?

Preparing-to-sell-sacramento-homeA potential seller called yesterday to ask how far in advance she should talk with an East Sacramento agent about putting her home in Elmhurst on the market. She didn’t want to jump the gun or make too many plans before they were ready to sell, but on the other hand, she wanted to be prepared for the sale and have some kind of idea how much she might net from the sale.

One of the things she expected to do was replace a deck because she thought the buyer’s lender would force the repairs. See, the thing is unless it’s attached to the house, it probably won’t be considered for the pest report. Besides, a seller’s opinion and a buyer’s opinion might differ, so this is where consulting a local real estate agent comes in. An experienced agent’s advice can be invaluable.

It’s never too early to talk with an agent. I am working with some sellers months in advance of selling a home in the Sacramento area. Some homes are occupied by tenants, and it’s almost always better to show that home without a tenant in it, so we wait for leases to expire. Other sellers have personal family situations that make home selling at the moment difficult but easier down the road, not to mention, there is such a thing as timing the market in Sacramento because our spring and fall markets are the strongest.

We have cutting-edge echnology at our disposal in real estate. You might use Skype to to chat with your kids across the country, but a Sacramento real estate agent will use FaceTime to take an out-of-area seller on a tour of their home. I FaceTimed sellers in Texas yesterday and was able to show them mold in the bath, potential dry-rot on the eaves, weathered cabinets, a cracked tile, overgrown vegetation, and literally walk them through their home in Elk Grove as we talked, without them physically present.

If you’re thinking about preparing your home for sale and want to work with an agent, one of the services we provide is helping a seller get ready to sell. You can call this Sacramento real estate agent, Elizabeth Weintraub, at 916 233 6759. It’s never too early to talk.

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