FSBO Follies: 8 Reasons NOT to Sell Your Own House

Why selling without a real estate agent could lead to disaster

 

Sure, Reno’s housing market is hot, and prices are rising. Homes priced correctly sell pretty darn fast. Some sellers wonder why they should pay a Realtor to “help” with the transaction. They think they can do it all themselves — and save the commission.
Ha! What most people don’t know about selling real estate can cost them money — or land them in court.
Do-it-yourself home sellers are called FSBOs: For Sale By Owner.  Below are just a few of the pitfalls hovering over such sellers. Selling a home on your own may risk time, money, and most importantly, a final sale that leaves you in the clear. Some of the ideas and tips below come from a recent article in Inman News, a specialty real estate publication.

Factors to consider: Time, Hassle and Money

1. Let’s start with the big motivator: Money 

How much would you save? Quite possibly nothing. Overall, data show that FSBO homes sell for less — sometimes a lot less.

  • Lower sales price: Research data from 2016-2017 shows that FSBO listings sell for about 5.5 percent less than comparable properties, according to Collateral Analytics.  So FSBO sellers lose money right off the top — Especially if they end up paying a buyer’s agent a commission of 2-3 percent. (Any buyer without their own agent faces a whole other set of problems!)
  • Knowledge: What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you financially, and it can come back to bite you in a lawsuit. A real estate agent’s knowledge is priceless. Realtors know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that sellers and their home are fully prepared before hitting the market, navigate the complicated escrow process and close the sale with the fewest possible hassles.
  •  Time Everyone’s time is valuable, but as a seller, do you truly have time to schedule showings or to personally show your home in a safe manner at any given moment? Do you want strangers knocking on your door when they see the sign in the yard? What is your plan for days you work, or go on vacation?
  • Negotiating: Do you feel confident to negotiate with a buyer or a buyer’s realtor? Are you capable of answering questions about home conditions without getting defensive?
  • Disclosures: Realtors have a legal duty to be honest with all parties in a transaction. A FSBO seller must be honest about the property as well, even when it means disclosing uncomfortable facts about the property. If a buyer questions an issue or has a concern, can do you have access to inspectors, repair people or other experts? If not, you may lose the sale.  Can you say lost opportunity?

2. Preparation and Presentation = Money 

Image is everything when it comes to real estate.  Good Realtors explain how to prepare your home to show it’s best, and ranges from re-arranging furniture to fixing long-neglected items that turn buyers off — from chipped paint to leaky faucets.Realtors offer dispassionate advice that may translate into a higher sales price.

Hint: Buyers notice everything. A dirty oven can scuttle a potential offer. 

Photos: Realtors pay for professional photography Fsbo graphicout of their commission.  As a FSBO seller this cost — anywhere from $150 to  $500 (or more) falls on you and cuts into your “savings”.  Will you invest in photography? Or will you take cell phone photos, because in Reno, homes sell no matter what?

 

  • Fact: Studies show that homes advertised with dark, out of focus photos, or photos of messy homes tend to garner fewer visits, take longer to sell and lower offers.
  • Fact: More than 90 percent of people look at a property online before visiting it. This is a money issue. For me, it is part of my branding whether I am representing a condo or a castle.

 3. Marketing

Do you have a the facts, a plan and a marketing budget? Do you know the buyer demographics for your property? The neighborhood? A competent Realtor does, and can show you the difference between what you “want” and what the market will pay. Numbers (generally) don’t lie.

Reno home prices are rising. At the same time, buyers are not stupid. Nor are lenders and appraisers. Sellers confuse sentimental value and “news” with what buyers will actually pay and the data appraisers use to support a loan.

4. Pricing

An overpriced home will sit, or sell for thousands less than a properly priced home. Do you know the buyer demographics for your neighborhood? Your type of home? A good Realtor will.  Some websites such as Zillow allow FSBO sellers to post information. Will that be enough? It won’t be in the Reno Sparks Multiple Listing Service — cutting out thousands of potential buyers.  What other marketing will you do (and pay for)?

Chase International Real Estate has extraordinary worldwide connections and marketing networks to share information about your property. Some other brokerages also offer expanded marketing. Some just input data into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), then sit back an wait. What if your property needs a wider audience? Homes listed for sale at Chase International receive local, regional, national and international exposure.

5. Negotiation experience

When an offer comes in, how will you evaluate it? What parts of the purchase agreement impact your bottom line? How would you evaluate multiple offers? By price alone? A Realtor digs deeper into the terms and conditions. How do they strike a delicate balance between protecting their interests as a seller and working with the buyer toward the goal of putting an agreement together?Here’s where what sellers don’t know can hurt them the most.

6. Inspection and repair know-how 

Inspections and repairs can be the most difficult parts of a real estate transaction, even for Realtors. Do you know which inspections are needed/advised? Inspections often reveal items or systems that need repair. There’s a protocol for divvying up who pays for what. This can cut into your “savings.”  Lenders may require certain repairs as a condition of funding a loan. Certain types of loans prohibit a buyer from paying for some repairs. Are you, as a seller prepared to deal with this? Do you know licensed repair people who will come to your house immediately  — at a fair/reasonable cost? Fixing it yourself or hiring an unlicensed worker can land you in court years down the road if the repair fails.

7. Transaction management

Once you accept an offer, how do you shepherd it through the escrow process? Who makes sure all the provisions of the contract are met? Who makes sure the deed is clear, that the sale transfers properly? How do you verify the buyer’s financing? How do you follow up to make sure the financing actually happens? Have you disclosed everything required by law? If you “forget” to say there was a leak years ago, or a tree fell, or any of thousands of other defects, a buyer could sue you years down the road.

homeselling proccess8. Clunky Closings 

Finalizing the sale — the escrow and closing process — is generally handled by a third party in Reno. Last minute issues often arise — the lender needs an addendum, the buyers or sellers have to waive a condition of the contract, one party or another makes a concession that must be documented. If the paperwork isn’t right, the sale (and your money) is delayed.

Are the “savings” worth it?

Only you can decide. Consider: The funds you “save” on commission by listing your house as a “For Sale by Owner” could quickly disappear. The perceived savings can evaporate through uninformed decisions and costly mistakes that — in the long run — end up costing sellers more money than if they had used a Realtor to protect their interests and help them justify their home’s value in the first place.

 

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


Garage Smarts: Make Room for your Car AND your Stuff

Many garages are really storage units for all the junk that doesn’t fit in the house. My neighbors can’t even squeeze one car into their three-car garage.

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Don’t be them. Sometimes people think they have to move, buy a bigger house to accommodate their “lifestyle” of stuff. Maybe not.

Here are some tips to convert garage space back into car space, culled from a variety of sources including a HouseLogic.com post.

First: Get Stuff Off the Floor
You can spend a lot, or a little on shelving. Industrial strength is great, but I’ve bought 5-tier shelving for $30. Intrepid, tool-savvy people may built shelving for not much more.

Buy a bunch of plastic bins and start sorting. I bought a set of three today at Costco for 12.99. Sort, fill and label them. Put the bins on the shelves, leaving the lowest level clear.

Recommended: Use CLEAR plastic bins and LABEL them.Clear is important. Dark/solid bins turn into mystery boxes hiding who knows what … even if they’re labeled. Put the most used bins at eye/grabbing height. Bins cost another $5-$20 each.

Use Rolling Storage
Add low two metal carts with wheels –and store them (full) under the shelving units. With your newfound open floor space, you can dedicate durable carts to different endeavors — gardening, camping, tailgating. You’ll save transition time (and your back) by rolling all your supplies to the yard or the car.

images

Pegboards = Instant Time Saver!
Pegboards are the underrated hero of the garage! If you can see it, you can grab it. Hang tools, garden implements, extension cords and other odds and ends that migrate (ok hide) all over the garage. Put pegboards on any (and every?) empty wall. Rakes no longer cluster (and fall) in one corner. The hammer is in plain sight.

Ceiling units
If your garage has a high ceiling, you can’t beat the shelving that screws into the rafters and hangs above the cars. Instant storage space! Hang the kayaks all winter; put the Christmas lights up there until next year. Move it!

Wall Cabinets
More expensive, pretty and very neat: Installing cabinets all around the garage. Home Depot and Lowes abound with do-it-yourself options, or hire a local installer. Once the cabinets are in … use those plastic bins and label the cabinets so you can quickly find your stuff.7-horiz-organized-garage-example

Added Benefits
Complete this project by donating stuff you don’t use to charity for resale. Yes, you really can get rid of 10 percent to 50 percent of the “stuff” in the garage and not miss it..

Profit Potential
Encouraging homeowners to organize vs. buying a bigger home may sound odd coming from a Realtor® — after all my job is to help clients sell and buy homes. For me, it’s a long-term strategy. The secret: Down the road it could payoff. Buyers see a pristine garage as in indicator of quality in the rest of the home.  An organized garage can help a home sell faster, possibly for more money.

Finally: As a Realtor, I’ve seen some pretty amazing garages, and clean garages do impress buyers. Other home features impress buyers more, so don’t worry about making the garage “perfect” or “pretty.” It is a garage for goodness sakes. The idea is to organize it enough to make your life easier on a daily basis.

Some articles (and OCD writers) encourage pretty/color-coordinated work benches, cabinets and boxes. If that’s your thing — share the photos of your garage. Bonus points for “before” vs “after”. I would love to celebrate your victories!

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor ® at Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. Email her at hodriscoll@chseinternational.com


Potentials and Pitfalls of a Fixer-Upper in Reno, NV

How many home buyers say they want to buy a “Fixer Upper”? Yet, when it comes down to actually deciding on which home to buy, how many discover really don’t even want to paint? In my experience, most buyers!  For those who really do want to tackle a fixer upper, potential profits (and pitfalls) abound.

Prime considerations when investing in any type of real estate include location, value and potential. Consider these questions when buying any “used” property, especially in Reno, NV:

  • Could renovations/rebuilding bring the property up to the price point of newer/nicer homes nearby homes?
  • Do you have the money and/or skills to buy and fix it up?
  • Do you want to live at the property for a few years, or quickly flip and sell?

In Reno, investing in a fixer upper gives buyers the chance to move into a neighborhood they might not otherwise afford. Living in a home after it’s “fixed” gives it time to appreciate in value.  Renovation shows on TV only hint at the reality of fixing up a property. Are you intrigued enough to consider it?

Mt Rose Highway Kitchen

Vintage mixes with dated renovations: Original fireplace, tile counters circa 1980s. 

 

One of my current listings at 4955 Mt. Rose Highway is a true “fixer upper” with potential:

This home in South Reno offers a great example of opportunity vs risk/reward. This area is close to Lake Tahoe, skiing and just about 15 minutes to downtown or the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Home prices rank among the highest in the region.

In the last year, 208 homes nearby homes sold.  Of the 66 on one-acre or more, only 19 allowed horses, only 14 had RV access/parking. The median sold price for those 66 homes:  $791,250. Compare that to the $499,000 list price of the property in the photo.

Mt Rose Highway House w Mountains

Built in 1965, the original ranch house is ripe for renovation. 

This fixer upper was built in 1965 and sits on 2.35 acres. Back then, Mt. Rose Highway was considered “country” and “way out of town.”  Today, luxury custom homes, gated communities with private golf courses mix with semi-custom subdivisions prevail. For the most part, older homes are the ones with enough land and the proper zoning (no HOAs and low-density suburban) to have horses, RVs or other toys.

That’s the opportunity.

The challenge: Having the vision, energy and funds to fix it up.

Best features: Wide-plank hardwood floors and a large, brick wood-burning fireplace. The home has a natural gas furnace and water heater (vs propane). Washoe County officials say the well was re-drilled in 2003.

The Potential

This property – includes the main 2,171 square-foot house, a detached 3-car garage, and 300-square-foot guesthouse/home office. The buildings sit on the northwest corner of the level lot. The nearest neighbor to the east can’t even be seen. To the west, a greenbelt and a public access trail/dirt road borders this property, with a home beyond.

Mt. Rose Hwy View 1

2.35 level acres is zoned for horses with sweeping Sierra Nevada views.  

Ripe for renovation: The most obvious replacement priority: the wind-damaged roof. Some features appear original, or at least vintage – particularly the pink bathroom sink and the metal-framed windows. Dated, but perhaps not original: tiled kitchen counters and jetted tub upstairs. The property has a detached three-car garage of uncertain age, and a separate building that at one time was used as a guest quarters.

The pitfalls:  The property is older, with everything that could/might entail. This property borders Mount Rose Highway, a direct access route to Lake Tahoe. The level 2.35 acres is mostly open space, with natural vegetation (mostly sagebrush). Prior owners had horses, and the county allows this.

The competition

Within a 2-mile radius, of 27 homes on 1 acre or more actively for sale only eight allow RVs (seven of those allow horses).  Median list price: $1.1 million. Of the homes sold in the last year, the median price was $760,000.  Of the many ways to parse and leverage statistics, lot size, age of home and HOA restrictions are being used here.

Does it pencil out?

That’s a question only an individual buyer can make on any fixer upper — whether it is this property, or a starter home on a city lot. Certainly bringing this property into the 21st century is possible. These last two photos are of the same house — Really! The first is from 2010, when it sold for $295,000. The second is from 2017, when it sold for $700,000. Is buying a fixer upper a challenge you are ready, willing and able to tackle? Let’s talk!

Contact me, or have your agent contact me, for a private showing:

hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com.

Phone/text: 775-762-7576.

Holly O’Driscoll is a Realtor® with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. She has lived in Reno for 20+ years. 


January and February Great Times to Buy

I am sharing this article from Nerd Wallet — it confirms my own research on real estate, homes and the real estate market in Northern Nevada: Prices here are expected to jump in March/April. Interest rates are expected to jump to 5%modern-kitchen-decor-vintage-style-1-flowers. Nationally, the median home sold in January sold for $7,003 below listing price.

Here’s the data to back it up. This article was written by Marian McPhereson of NerdWallet.

Take advantage of savings now

According to two years of realtor.com data that includes the 50 most populous metro areas, home prices in January and February are, on average, 8.45 percent lower than prices in July and August — two of the most popular homebuying months.

This trend is expected to hold true in 2017, but realtor.com chief economist Jonathan Smoke says the savings won’t be as large as seen in years before.

The fall 2016 housing market, which the National Association of Realtors dubbed the “autumn revival,” was especially strong, which means sellers didn’t feel the pressure to lower their sales prices in order to get their home off the market.

Despite this, Smoke still suggests homebuyers grab whatever savings they can get because spring home prices will likely increase more than normal.

Cold weather keeps competition at bay

According to NerdWallet, home sales in January are 47 percent lower than in June, which means less competition for buyers looking for the perfect home.

But there’s one caveat — buyers will still have to battle with low housing inventory, although the offset in competition helps.

“You basically face almost half of the competition with almost the same amount of inventory in the market,” Smoke says.

For the savvy buyer and agent, this can lead to savings through tactful negotiations with sellers. NerdWallet says the median home sold in January sold for $7,003 less than the listing price. Score!

Higher rates ahead2525 Rio Alayne Ct Sparks NV-print-001-14-01-2500x1668-300dpi

Out of the three reasons to buy a home now, homebuyers are most likely concerned about higher mortgage rates, which are predicted to rise to nearly 5 percent.

“As we look toward spring and later in 2017, that’s another reason to buy in January and February,” said Smoke. “Because rates are expected to be about 50 basis points, or half a percent, more as the year goes on.”

 

Holly O’Driscoll is a full-time Realtor with Chase International Real Estate in Reno, Nevada. For information on homes for sale in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and the surrounding communities, call me! 775-762-7576.


Why Reno? Lifestyle, Opportunity, Value

Cityscape taken from TMCC. Photo by Sandy Goff.

By Holly O’Driscoll, Chase International Real Estate 

Surrounded by mountains and blessed with an enviable climate, Reno and Sparks offer a breathtaking beautiful place to live, work and play.

Living in the RenoSparks area with its quick commutes, attractive and affordable housing options and its easy access to outdoor adventures attracts thousands of new residents every year. Those who already live here understand the specialness of being able to escape to the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe or Pyramid Lake; to find adventure kayaking in the Truckee River or exploring the Great Basin; or to just relax in one of the many parks. Few communities in the world allow you to ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon. From Reno, both options are within just a few miles of each other.

Here work-life balance is a reality.

Quality of life and the business-friendly philosophy attract global co2014-05-24-13-56-37rporations to the area and encourage start-up businesses. Tesla’s decision to locate here grabbed the headlines, yet many other high-tech firms, manufacturing plants, distribution facilities and service companies thrive here, plus add balance to our economy’s important tourism and special event sector.

Job Growth

In 2016, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) reports that 25 companies relocated or expanded operations in the region bringing hundreds of new jobs. More companies — and jobs — are coming, EDAWN says.

Culture

Museums along with music and theatrical companies enrich the community and draw nationally known artists perform throughout the year. Generous local and national philanthropists support The Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum, the month-long ARTown Festival in July.

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts hosts the Reno Philharmonic, Reno Opera, the AVA Ballet, as well as national touring productions of Broadway plays. Headline entertainers regularly perform at the spectacular showrooms at the many casino resorts, at events centers and at other local venues.

Sports

Sports enthusiasts fill the seats to watch the Reno Aces, the minor league baseball Pacific Coast League team play and they support the Reno Bighorns, a D-League basketball team affiliated with the Sacramento Kings. The latest pro team: Reno 1868 FC, a United Soccer League team will debut at Greater Nevada Field in February 2017.

Residents participate in adult leagues for nearly every sport imaginable from rugby to coed softball. Area youth leagues serve even the youngest soccer, football, basketball and baseball players.

Serious bicyclists train here by peddling up mountain highways while mountain bikers hurl themselves down rocky trails in the Sierra. Hikers can find a trek to suite any ability. With 18 world-class ski resorts within a one-hour’s drive and thousands of square miles of back country skiing nearby, skiers and snowboarders use Reno and Sparks as a base camp. Golfers can tee up at more than a dozen championship ranked courses within Reno-Sparks, with a dozen more in surrounding resorts.

Buying a Home 

One of Reno’s main attractions is affordability.  Urban lofts, historic bungalows, gated golf course developments, luxury custom homes, active adult communities, horse properties and homes in subdivisions give people many choices in living style

In 2016 the median price for a single-family home in Reno/Sparks was $304,999 – which means half sold for less, half for more, according to a report from Chase International Real Estate. Condos are an increasingly popular option. On the lower end, buyers can find condos below $200,000. The luxury condo market is growing as well, with penthouses selling for $1 million or more.

Education

The University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College systems enroll more than 25,000 full-time students, plus numerous private colleges offer continuing education in many fields. Public/private partnerships with area industries are expanding curricula and training people for local high-paying careers. Entrepreneurship plays a significant role in the area economy.

Reno-Sparks has four major hospitals offering state of the artsnowman1 medical care, Carson City has a large hospital, plus the University of Nevada, Reno has a medical school and nursing program.

 Climate

The high desert climate of Reno and Sparks offers four distinct seasons and basks in
more than 300 days of sunshine each year. Most of the valley sits at about 4,500 feet above sea level and the dryness of the elevation soften the seasons. Summer days can top 90-degrees, yet the lack of humidity makes that tolerable, plus most nights cool down dramatically. In winter, even the coldest, snowiest days lack the bite of dampness.

Reno History

First settled in the 1850s, Reno was originally named Lake’s Crossing. The discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver in the mountains to the east led to one of the greatest mining rushes of all time. The area boomed, the Central Pacific Railroad built a depot here and in the 1860s the town was renamed to honor Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer who was killed in the Civil War.

Though the local mining boom faded, Reno continued to prosper as a commercial and business center. Large scale mining continues in other parts of the state and Nevada ranks as one of the top gold producing regions in the world.

Sparks History

The City of Sparks was built by the Southern Pacific Railroadmichael-train and named after Gov. John Sparks in 1904. Today tourist, commercial and industrial businesses fuel its economy and its residential areas extend far to the north into Spanish Springs.

Visitors from around the globe come to Reno-Sparks for its wide range of special events, from the Reno Rodeo in June through the National Championship Air Races in the fall the area covers the gamut of interests.  Once they discover the beauty, the quality of life and the affordability, most want to come here again.

Quality of Life is more than a hope. It is a way of life in Northern Nevada.

Have a question about Reno/Sparks? Leave a comment or send me an email! Email: Hodriscoll@chaseinternational.com


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.