5 Reasons to Buy a Home in Winter

Evans Ave Front pix

On the Market: 1056 Evans Ave., Reno, NV: The sellers of this 4-bedroom home near the University of Nevada, Reno, are motivated! The property was listed in December for $529,000. 


The “best deals” for home buyers often happen in winter. Sure, there are fewer homes on the market to pick from, but homes newly listed or still on the market when it’s cold outside, are there for a reason: Sellers either need to sell now, or the property didn’t sell earlier in the year.

Plus: With fewer buyers out looking, there’s less competition for those homes. In a tight market like Reno/Sparks, that can make a huge difference in actually getting a home. Multiple offers still happen, particularly in the lower price ranges, but a buyer in Reno/Sparks might be up against one other offer vs. six.

Here are five great reasons to buy a house between December and May:

  1. Bang for your Buck   

In a tight market like in Reno/Sparks, prices tend to jump several percentage points as the weather warms.  On average, about 40% of homes sell in spring and summer (May – August), according to The Housing Wire. Homes generally sell for $1,500 – $3,000 more than those sold in winter, according to Zillow.

  1. Sellers are Motivated (or Finally Ready) 

Whether a house is a new listing, or simply didn’t sell earlier, sellers tend to be serious, and ready to consider all offers, during the winter. This may give buyers more room to negotiate and perhaps get a better deal.

  1. Fewer Choices = Easier Decision

Fewer homes may seem like a disadvantage at first, but perhaps it’s not.

There’s an overabundance syndrome known as the paradox of choice. This happens when people have so many good options they dither and end up losing out or second guessing themselves. They dwell on the “what ifs” – which leads to less satisfaction with whatever choice they make.

  1. More Attention

Buyers flood the market in spring and summer, which strain the time resources of Real estate agents, lenders, title companies and other professionals. In winter, homes may not sell in two days. And, once in contract, it takes less time to arrange for appraisals, inspections and repairs.

  1. Furnishing a New Home May Cost Less 

Need new appliances or furniture for that new home? In general, winter sales offer great savings, according to Consumer Reports.

Conclusion: A buyer may indeed find that perfect home in winter. If not, looking now helps buyers clarify what “perfect” means. By doing their on the ground research now, when that ideal home does come up for sale, they’re ready.

Buying a home is the largest investment most people ever make, and should not be done in haste just to save money. Consulting with a lender, personal finance professionals all come into play before buying a home at any time of year.

That said, do consider starting your search soon. Forecasters say the housing shortage in Reno/Sparks will continue for some time.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor (R) with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. Email her at Hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com or call her at 775-850-5900.


Thanks to Mike Pulley, who contributed to this article.


Will Fixing Up a House to Sell Pay Off?

By Holly O’Driscoll
Chase International2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-003-20-09-2500x1668-300dpi - Copy

Many of my real estate clients start their house hunt saying they’re interested in a “fixer upper.”  They want to save money when buying a home. Yet, in reality, that phrase spans a wide range of home conditions. Once buyers see what qualifies as a true “fixer upper” in the real estate world, reality sets in.

In many cases, buyers can’t see past old/bad interior paint. Turns out, “fixer upper” to many people actually means move-in ready, without even minor fixes.

Fact: Homes with today’s styling sell faster, and for more money.

Maximizing Potential Profits 

The basics: Updating a home built in the 1990s or earlier with neutral interior paint, changing hardware such as door knobs and light fixtures, installing new carpet/tile/wood floors can pay off. Other attractive upgrades: getting rid of any and all 6×6-inch tile in the kitchens and baths.

Home buyers willing to tackle those projects can buy more house for less money. Home sellers who have the skills to renovate — or are willing to hire professionals — to tackle those jobs, likely will sell faster, and for more money.

It’s a matter of choice. Even in a seller’s market like Reno/Sparks, buyers want what they want. Most don’t have the time or skills to renovate, so buyers will pick, and pay more, for a house with other flaws if it feels modern and well kept.

On the seller’s side: Smart renovators know their skill limits and are willing to hire professionals to tackle certain jobs. Badly executed renovations are worse than no renovations!

In the home above, the sellers added wide-plank hardwood floors, replaced light fixtures and painted — among many other renovations. My clients received multiple offers on this property and were in contract within two weeks — for above asking price .

Now on the market! 

Another client paid professionals to redo most of the 1970s ranch-style home pictured bleow — including systems you don’t think about (the roof, wiring, plumbing), as well as features you use every day (the bathrooms, kitchen, flooring).lwk_3575-2lwk_3543

2985 Rustic Manor Circle in Reno, is a 5-bedroom/3-bath 3,070-square-foot home is on a cul-de-sac in southwest Reno (Jesse Beck Elementary school zone). It backs to a canyon, has a walk-out lower level and no lwk_3564HOA.

It is available as I write. If you would like to see it … call soon! 775-762-7576

Price: $579,900.lwk_3554

Christmas is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

Selling or buying a home in winter poses unique challenges — and real estate opportunities.

Seasonal swings in home prices and number of homes on the market happen in many cold climates, including Northern Nevada. Trees lose leaves, lawns turn brown. Hopefully, there’s snow on the ground. Sellers fret that buyers can’t see and appreciate the lovely landscaping they worked so hard on. Buyers must use their imaginations or rely on photos to understand the summer beauty of a home on the market in mid-winter.

Yet people buy and sell homes all year long. Families grow, promotions or new jobs require people to move, and many other life-changing events  prompt people to list a property for sale in winter.

Whether buying or selling a home, use these tips to get the most out of this real estate season!

Are you a  Buyer? 

Fact: There are fewer homes on the market from December – Marc2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-006-1-11-2500x1668-300dpih, so buyers have fewer homes to tour and from which to select. BUT those homes that are available are there for a reason — their sellers are motivated! In many cases, price points may be less than homes that get listed in spring.

Fact: In many markets, prices frequently jump in the Spring and early summer, then level out or even retreat for the rest of the year. In winter, some sellers are more willing to negotiate, if not on price, on other points. Buyers who wait until spring to start looking, may miss the boat. If prices jump again, but a buyer’s budget doesn’t, then they may have to buy less house.

Fewer buyers = better chance at getting a great property at a better price.

Timing: The weeks before and after Christmas are great times to make an offer on a house!

The reason: Many agents and many buyers take the holidays off. Less competition may mean a better deal for those in the hunt for a great home.

Are You a Seller?

Homes for sale in mid-winter fchristmas-front-doorace the challenge of fewer buyers. Make the most of what your home has to offer with these tips:

• Turn the lights on! Outside  may be blustery, cold and dreary, so make the house you’re trying to sell warm and inviting.

Home buying is emotional.  Create a comfortable environment for buyers. Add lights to dark corners, Consider installing recessed lights in dark hallways. Add lamps on a timer. Both are fairly inexpensive, yet very effective tactics to make your home sparkle on a dark day.

• Keep the heat on! No one likes a cold house. Many modern thermostats have timers for night and day. Use one, especially in a vacant house. Set the daytime temperature at about 68 degrees.  If a home is barely warmer inside than it is out, clients just won’t stay very long. Don’t lose a sale over a few dollars for heat.ornament 2013

• Consider professional staging. Smart designers can re-purpose or re-arrange your furniture to give it a better flow for touring. Decorate — but not too much. Pack up your personal items — photos, toys, games, “stuff” you are moving anyway. Look at model homes — which maximize a room’s features by strategically placing a minimum amount of furniture. Just enough to give an idea.

Odd fact: empty rooms look smaller than furnished rooms. Again, play into the emotion of buying a home. You want a buyer to pick your property over all other options. Focus on staging the master bedroom and the rooms you spent the most time using and enjoying. Kitchens: Only one item on the counters, and perhaps a small breakfast table staged with coffee cups hint at cozy conversations.

• Show the summer scene with photos!  An album, 8×10 display stands clearly show buyers how much shade the now-barren trees provide your yard. Colorful fruit trees? Glorious roses? Share photos of how lovely your garden will be in just a few months.

dollar sign artReno Market Insights: Inventory is still low. Is buying new construction the answer? Maybe not. Developers used to price homes below existing homes in Northern Nevada. Not no much today — especially when factoring in lot premiums, nearly mandatory “upgrades” plus the hidden costs of window coverings, landscaping and customized paint. Buyers who think they really want brand new, may  find their dollars go farther in “used” home — especially before the traditional spring price hike hits.

So from today through January ‘Tis the Season to, perhaps find a great deal! 

For more information, call/text 775-762-7576 or send an email to hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. 


Million-dollar Home Sales Spike at Tahoe

25 Back 4 10611 Buckhorn Ridge Ct. High Res (36 of 59) Back

10611 Buckhorn Ridge, Truckee offers outstanding craftsmanship at $2.999 million

By Holly O’Driscoll

Not all homes around or near Lake Tahoe sell for more than $1 million, but many do and activity in that price bracket pushed overall sales in the region up 8 percent for the first quarter of 2016.

Here’s an interesting data point behind the numbers: Sales of homes priced above $1 million jumped 11%, while the number of homes sold that were priced lower dropped 9%!

How often does that happen?

These numbers are part of a report released by Chase International Real Estate,comparing all MLS sales from January 1, 2016 through March 31 to the same time frame of 2015.

  • Biggest increase: Incline Villagesaw the biggest jump in sales and a 19% rise in the median sales price to $949,000
  • Losing ground: Tahoe Citywhere sales were down and prices dropped 3% to $529,950.
  • Most affordable:South Lake Tahoe with a median home price of $393,000 (up five percent) and average price of $453,830 (up two percent).
  • Hot Hot Hot:Truckee saw a 110% leap in homes selling for more than a million and 25% increase in homes selling for under a million. The median price of a home rose 13% over last year’s numbers at this time, to $655,000.

Truckee and Incline Village are less than 30 minutes from Reno and serve as the gateway to the rest of the communities around Lake Tahoe.  Spectacular scenery and outdoor adventures surround every home. It’s why we love living here!


Getting Too Personal with Marketing Can Backfire

TechnologyFree-Farmhouse-Plans-with-Wrap-around-Porches makes it easy to access public records and to tailor messages directly to consumers. Beware. Getting too personal when trying to connect with your customer can backfire big time.

This is particularly true with fiance and real estate. Many Real estate agents “farm” for listings by blanketing a neighborhood with marketing materials.  Some take it too far. Each tactic below is a valid way to generate business – when done right. It’s a fine line.

The three cases below happened to friends and neighbors. Each offended several potential clients. The agents (all were new) not only hurt their own business, they hurt their agency’s reputation.

Three real cases:

  • Canvasing the neighborhood. Sounds innocent enough, right? Pass out flyers touting an open house or an achievement. That’s fine.
    • Offensive: Going door to door – not ringing the bell, but pounding on the door. This agent’s goal: to find a house to buy in a popular neighborhood. For himself – not for a client. This agent hoped to use insider knowledge to snag a personal bargain.
  • Direct mailers. Many announce nearby sales, offer a discount or provide information. A successful tool when done right.
    • Error: Buying a list, using “mail merge” and mailing it – with misspelled names. In this case, my husband and I received a “personalized” letter – with the last name spelled Driskll. My last name is O’Driscoll. In the body of the letter, the agent misspelled the neighborhood name AND used bad grammar.
  • Too Much Information. Sending out price trends for a neighborhood may generate interest from potential customers.
    • Invasive: Sending multi-page individual property analysis going back 20 years, showing every permit, every sale, identifying owners, tax payments and liens. All this is gleaned from public records, and may be of interest to a buyer. The homeowners felt violated and were offended the agent had so much personal information on them – and spent money sending it in hopes of getting a listing.
    1. Bonus wrong: When sending the “personalized” letter with the property analysis, this particular agent under estimated the neighborhood’s value by close to $30,000 compared to recently sold homes. And the recipients knew it.

People told me how offended they were by these agents. In each case, the agent invested time and money into efforts that crossed a line of privacy and/or professionalism.

Educating people on the value of their home and explaining your expertise in getting top-dollar for a property is a valid marketing tactic. The problem: each of the examples above crossed a line. The people who brought each to my attention were offended. Most had no interest in selling in the first place, and they resented the pushy formats – and some teetered on the edge of feeling victimized.

My friends and neighbors are still talking about the incidents above — and want me to “do something” about it. That “something” is this column.

What are your best tips for farming tactics – that generate interest without offending people?

7 Reasons Video Improves Your Website 


Video Advantages

1. Quickly Deliver Your Message

Most of us tend to digest information we see and hear faster than information what we read — on the internet, that means VIDEO!  People tend to just scan intense blocks of type. Using bullets, bold subheadings and phrases all catch a reader’s attention — but video does more.

Adding a welcome video to your homepage allows you to get your message across quickly — and you set the tone and control the message. Video lets people feel they know you – and people prefer to do business with people they know.

2. Interact with Visitors

Video improves your Google search rankings. It offers another “entry point” to your message – and gets visitors to spend more time on your website. It allows potential clients to see – and hear — your value proposition. It’s an opportunity to voice a direct call to action.

Video engages your audience — which increases response rates. People get to know you, your product or service before they call.  Connecting with customers involves emotions. They’ve already visited your website. Seeing and hearing you connects them with your product, helps them understand your service.

3. Drive Traffic, Raise your Website Profile

New content drives search engines. Adding video to your site – and to your (free) custom YouTube channel – ups your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with Google. Using one or two key words in the video title and copy adds another SEO benefit, as does promoting it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Your video can be on multiple locations, without creating issues of duplicate content.

4. Get Personal

Introduce yourself and your unique value proposition directly with a video – Smile.

5. Expand Your Reach

Integrating video into your social media marketing strategy expand your opportunity to be discovered — to convert casual browsers into customers. Take an expansive approach by sharing your video through your own social media networks and allowing visitor to share it as well. Millennials love video — and adding a YouTube channel for your company also boosts your Google profile.

6. Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition

Video helps you and your company to stand out. Depending on your industry, it can give you a leg up on competitors – or keep you from being left behind. Video has been around for years, yet many companies resist integrating it — or do it very badly. Professional video is worth the investment — the quality of lighting, sound and editing all make it worth the investment. Using video on your website definitely gives your company an edge!

7. See the Numbers!

Most companies live by numbers. Executives want to see the metrics. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for websites with video is one more tool to help increase unique visits, contact requests, and, ultimately, sales. Video on a website allows you to deliver your message anytime — it’s available 24/7. It also works as a sales tool — you and your sales team — can include this personal message in emails and presentations to clients.

Have you integrated video into your strategy? Did it make a difference? If you haven’t — let’s talk!

Holly O’Driscoll is a PR/Media Strategist with Communications Strategies in Reno, NV. You can reach her at 775-762-7576. 

Customers Care about Your Business Ethics










Ultimately, B-2-B business relationships rely on people. People make the decision to buy/invest in a product or service. Complex factors influence those decisions. Sure, one aspect involves cost, and for some that’s enough. Long term, though, reputation, ethics, and overall likability play a significant role in winning, retaining, and growing business relationships.

Here’s an article championing

Corporate Social Responsibility