Here are several tips that will enhance your home's appeal when you have open house. Some come from an article in the SF Chronicle, but much is from my past experience in selling real estate and teaching many courses.

First Impressions Count- Make sure the outside is presentable. Have the landscaping presentable. I suggest hiring a local high school kid and plant a whole mess of pansies or other flowers that you can buy from K-Mart real cheap. Colors and flowers do wonders. And though I don't like spending money needlessly when selling a house, if your house needs painting, DO IT- even the whole house if necessary. The cost of a thousand or two can be "bought back" many fold. SFC also suggested wiping the finger marks off the door; make sure your sprinkler system won't wet anyone.

Inside Appearance. Make sure everything is neat and clean, vacuumed and dusted. They suggest depersonalizing the home- take out trophies, religious pictures, family portraits. The goal is to let them visualize how THEIR house will look.

SELLING A HOUSE: (1996) I covered this before, but a house should always be neat and clean and colorful in order to catch a buyer's attention. As one agent stated, "A house is life a book that is judged by its cover". A SF Chronicle article said that buyers will eliminate 50% of properties to view simply by a drive by of the exterior. Very few venture into a home that looks unattractive from the outside. So,

1. Make any necessary repairs

2. Paint the exterior, if needed, in subtle tones

3. Use lots and lots of colorful flowers. Rent a high school kid and buy a lot of pansies at K-Mart. Amazing what this can do.

4. Steam clean the driveway. Fill in any cracks

5. Keep your kids bicycles out of sight in the garage. (Maybe hide your kids!)

6. Keep windows and doors spotless. Prospective buyer's may want to peer in and a dirty window can kill the sale.

7. If the interior is in bad repair, I might suggest repainting all the walls. But I would not do recarpeting and certainly no major renovations to the bathroom or kitchen. Use a credit for those items.


If you're unwilling or unable to do the above, that's why they have brokers getting 6%.

Real estate: (June Roesselein) 1998

1. Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door. She also says you might consider a fresh coat of paint throughout. Most appealing for most people is a shade of off white, with bright white for the woodwork

2. Put pots full of blooming flowers on either side of your door. Put mulch around shrubs.

3. Hang a large mirror in a small foyer to make it look larger

4. Install bright light in all fixtures and shine them up.

5. Get rid of heavy window treatments. She indicates its best to show the home with the windows open and unobstructed.

6. Unclutter the house. She states that in some homes, half the accessories should be removed. Take half the clothes out of a closet to make it appear larger. Take as many things off the kitchen counters as possible. If the cabinets look dark and shabby, you might consider painting them.

7. Don't use too many area rugs since it makes the house look chopped up.

8. Make the house smell fresh. Put scented oils on furnace filters.

REAL ESTATE: 1998 (Home magazine) based on a survey of homeowners around the country on what they want in a house, here are the top 10:

1. Quality and value, not glitz. They want a home that they can live in comfortably not just a place to show off.

2. Suitability for the elderly. As the homeowners get older, or have elderly parents living with them, they need to recognize certain conveniences such as a downstairs bedroom, bathroom grab bar, etc.

3. A sense of tradition. People are seeking neighborhoods and houses that remind them of kinder times. These could include houses with front porches and communities with sidewalks.

4. Cars are no longer the major focus and homeowners don't want have a garage that dwarfs the front of the house. Rear entry garages are now more popular.

5 Design diversity. They don't want their house to look like every of the house on the block. Maybe the house has an extra room for an office, a bonus room for a grandchild, something that makes it unique.

6. "In filling", or location in older neighborhoods. Many are looking for established areas for quick access to downtown culture or other City center amenities.

7. Flexible floor plans. Since people are moving less often, floor plans should adapt as lives and priorities change. A garage can become a room for an in law, the nursery or a home gym.

8. Home office for adults and kids. Parents want spaces where they can supervise their Internet surfing children and interact with kids as they do homework.

9 Revised formal and informal spaces. People do not want to have unused rooms, such as a formal living room that gets little activity. The article also suggested that underused spaces be turned into reading rooms or music rooms so they are more functional overall.

10. Minimal conflicting elements. Rooms often have competing features such as TV AND a fire place. Such uses are mutually exclusive and should be put in separate rooms.

MOVING: (1999) People who own homes move on average every 8.2 years. Renters move every 2.1 years. The median for people aged 15 and older is a move every 5.2 years (1993 study). Whites- 8.4 years for owners, 2.0 for renters. Blacks- 8.1 years for owners and 2.6 years for renters. Asians and Pacific Islanders- 5.2 years for owners and 2.0 for renters. Hispanics- 6.6 years for owners and 1.9 for renters. Women in owner occupied homes stayed a median duration of 8.8 years while it was 7.6 years for men. Rentals- women stayed 2.2 years while it was 2.0 for men. About 43 million people (16.7% of the population) moved last year, about 15.3% had lived in the same house for over 20 years.

Fannie Mae has a free booklet called, "Life as a Homeowner: A Guide to Keeping and Protecting an Important Asset". (2000)

Includes how to maintain your home; using home equity to meet your changing financial position; variety of loan types available for home repair and remodeling; how to evaluate terms and conditions of loans; what a reverse mortgage is and what to do if you're having problems making the mortgage payment.

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