No Comments

Why Real Estate Photography Can Make the Difference for Potential Buyers

As all great real estate agents know, the best way to sell a home is to give the buyer a reason to fall in love with it. The percentage of potential buyers who shop for homes online before seeing them in person grows each year, and in 2016, it was reported that 80% of all home buyers do most of their searching online.

 

Put yourself in a home buyer’s shoes. If you were looking for a new place to live and the home was described in the listing as having four bedrooms, a finished basement and a spacious backyard, but the only photo available online was of the living room, you’re likely going to pass on considering the home as an option. You might search the address in Google and virtually stand in the front yard to see the home’s exterior, but unless you can check out bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen, and other primary living spaces on the website, you’re going to be disinterested.

 

For younger home buyers, having fewer photos also gives the impression that the agent isn’t as well organized, or that he or she doesn’t give 100% effort to the listing, which would be a huge turn-off. Now you’ve got disinterested buyers who could have been a great fit for the home, but because they are under the impression that the agent isn’t thorough or tech-savvy (or worse, that the lack photos means the agent is trying to hide a problem) they’ll most likely never request a tour or step foot inside the house. Be proud of your home and what it has to offer, and don’t let a lack of photos sway someone into thinking that you’re hiding an issue.

 

How buyers find and tour Blue Ridge homes digitally

 

When a buyer is looking for a new home in the Blue Ridge area, he or she is going to start in a few common places: using a search engine, looking to social media, or inquiring from a friend or home owner in the area. If you’re using a search engine to find a home, chances are that you will be brought to a local real estate company’s website or to a national site like Zillow or Trulia. Looking through pages and pages of homes on a website is convenient for the buyer, but it also becomes easy for your house to be viewed as just another line on the page. As users, we are much more likely to interact with, share, and follow up on a post that has detailed descriptions and photos that give us the sense of what the entire property has to offer.

 

On social media sites, the photo of the home is what occupies the most space in your post, followed by a short title and one-sentence description of the home itself. Posts are often shared by friends and commented on with reactions or questions about the property. For people who know of friends that could be a good fit for the home, the social media user can simply tag their friend in a comment or share it to their page as well. The photos are what entices people to click on the links and explore the listings, but if you don’t include photos that are presenting homes in the best light, your post will be passed over and won’t be shared between friends.

 

How to ensure you’re presenting homes in the best light

 

Fear not, you definitely don’t need high quality camera equipment to get the best photos of your home, but there are several things you should be doing to ensure that you’re presenting homes in the best light, and we mean that both figuratively and literally. If you are looking into purchasing a new camera though, consider also getting a tripod to help you with stability and clarity when snapping pictures.

 

We’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit here though, because the first step of any good photo shoot is to prep the area to look its best. Cut the grass, clean up clutter from countertops, vacuum the carpets, remove any items that might be too personal. For example, if you want to show off your gorgeous fire place, but have a large family portrait hanging above the mantel, consider swapping the photo out if you don’t want the portrait to be made public on real estate websites. Another great reason to declutter or to not have detailed decorations is that it allows the person viewing the photos to imagine his or her own stuff set up in the home.

 

Choose a day that’s sunny and bright, with great natural lighting to support your home’s best features. You’ll want to shoot photos of the outside of the home, showing off accessibility features and any other central details, such as the driveway, garage, patio, or landscaping. Don’t forget to show off the backyard too!

 

Inside the home, your photos should highlight main living spaces and features that would be attractive for the buyer. If your description promotes amazing cabinet space and a large pantry, show them off in your photos! The same goes for closets and bathrooms. Making sure that you include areas that are great for family gatherings, as well as storage spaces and other amenities.

 

If you advertise your home as having four bedrooms, don’t just include a photo for one of them! People want to be able to see and get a feel for the size of each room, and that includes closet space and bathroom access. Bonus rooms, finished basements, and office spaces are attractive to buyers too, and it’s important that your photos show potential buyers that the home will make for an easy transition.

 

Particularly with mountain homes and cabins, photos should include the greater landscape or the view if you think it’s something the buyer would like. Outdoor living spaces, like porches, firepits, hot tubs, and grilling areas would also be great additions to your photo gallery. Don’t forget the main real estate marketing goal: show someone why they should fall in love with your home.

 

How photos can help increase leads

 

Largely because of social media, real estate marketing has shifted to include digital postings, along with mobile-friendly content, photos and video. We are more likely to watch a video or stop on a picture when we’re scrolling through a social media site, more so than we might read text or click on an outside link. Buyers are doing research online and many want to feel as though they’ve taken a virtual tour of the home before they schedule time to tour it in person or attend an open house.

 

When a potential buyer can see themselves living in the home, or know of someone who would be a great fit for the property, they will want to interact with the listing, talk with their agent, and communicate with the realtor to tour it in person and learn more. The digital landscape has become crucial to selling a home, but you’ll also have buyers who are more educated about the property, which in the end, will be much more valuable for the realtor.

No Comments

7 Reasons Why You Need An Agent Instead of Trying For Sale by Owner

7 Reasons Why You Need An Agent Instead of Trying For Sale by Owner

 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, you might still be on the fence about whether to hire an agent to help you sell, or if you should try selling by owner. Though it’s up to you how to go about the process of selling, there are some major benefits to using an agent that will help you save time, increase the value of your sale, and support buyer confidence. Here are just a few ways an agent can help make your home-selling experience less stressful while ensuring you get the most value on the market.

 

7) An agent is an expert for real estate in your area, like Blue Ridge

 

This is at the top of our list at number seven, but it’s one of the most important factors to consider. Even though you may be keeping up with recent sales in Blue Ridge and watching trends in the market, a real estate agent is going to be the most knowledgeable about what you can do in your home to help it sell faster and at a higher value.

 

6) Access to the Multiple Listing Service, like North East Georgia MLS and Georgia MLS (Atlanta)

 

An agent is going to help you sell your home faster because he or she has access to the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. The MLS is a database of all the homes for sale in your area, and when your home is listed in that database, all other potential homeowners’ agents will be able to see your home as an option.

 

This expedites the “word of mouth” process and helps others see that your home is also being sold with help from an agent. For buyers using a real estate agent, that person could be more interested in showing their clients homes that are being sold with help from an agent rather than from a family who’s trying for sale by owner.

 

Effective agents in the Blue Ridge/Tri-State area subscribe to the North East Georgia MLS and Georgia MLS which doubles the coverage in which your home is displayed.

 

5) They’re in-the-know on code regulations and zoning laws

 

You might know everything about events in your neighborhood, the quality of the schools, and where the best markets are, but an agent is going to be your trusted source for all of the local coding laws and zoning regulations that will apply to your residence. This is especially important when looking at different types of properties such as cabins and mountain homes in the Blue Ridge area.

 

Making sure your house is up to code will make the selling process much smoother and will give buyers confidence when they make offers to buy your home. If something isn’t up to code, like the entrances, foundation, roof, wiring, flooring, or plumbing, you’ll want to have someone on hand who can point out what needs to be repaired, and what doesn’t, helping you increase the value of your home and keep repair costs from exceeding what they need to be.

 

4) Inspector and contractor referrals

 

After your agent helps you evaluate your home, he or she might find something that needs to be addressed further before introducing your home to potential buyers. That’s where their knowledge of professional inspectors and contractors in the area will come into play. Having an agent is kind of like having a guide through the home selling process, a guide who doesn’t want you to waste money or find yourself in a situation where you’re in over your head. Having their knowledge of how to go about prepping your home for sale will be a huge help and will save you time and money.

 

3) Networking with other agents and potential buyers

 

Not only should your agent know of well-reviewed inspectors and contracts, but he or she will also have a trusted network of other real estate agents and potential buyers. Rather than depending on your own advertising and word-of-mouth, your agent is going to be able to reach out to other agents with which he or she has built a relationship.

 

If your agent has facilitated positive home sale experiences in the past for other agents and their clients, those agents will likely want to work with your agent to help find the right buyer for your home. In addition to the MLS list, your agent will make sure your home is visible on the market and attractive to buyers.

 

2) Official and professional price negotiators

 

One of the most challenging tasks as a seller is to know the best asking price for your home. You might be able to be a pretty good judge based on what other homes similar to yours are selling for in your area, but you might not be taking amenities, aesthetic appeal, remodeling, and other factors into account. If you post an asking price that’s too high, you’re going to keep yourself on the market for a longer period of time, wasting your own time, when you’ll likely wind up with lower offers in the near future.

 

But at the same time, you don’t want to start your asking price too low, because you might not realize that certain upgrades and additional features in your home, that were missing from a comparable home a few blocks away, might make your house worth more than you previously thought. Having an agent evaluate what your home is worth and come up with a pricing plan for buyers is a huge part of what an agent’s role is in the selling process, and it’s one of the most crucial reasons why having input from an expert is ideal.

 

1) A stress-free selling experience

 

Overall, the absolute best reason to use an agent is to make the sale of your home be as stress-free as possible. Of course selling your home will involve some stress and decision-making, but having an agent to guide you through the entire process is invaluable, and though having an agent might seem like an extra expense on the surface, his or her expertise and connections will help save you time and money overall.

 

Because you’re only going to sell just a few homes, or many just one home, in your lifetime, it can be a daunting task. Using a real estate agent who is aware of current trends and issues in your community, and is helping families sell and buy homes each week, will be a tremendous asset to you in your own experience. There’s a value in what you’re getting from your agent that goes beyond a price tag, and the confidence and security an agent can provide your family will make the sale of your home a positive experience.

No Comments

Styled, Staged, aaaaaand Sold!

Beauty, indeed, is in the eye of the beholder. Styling and staging may be one of the last things on your mind when you think of selling your home; however, styling and staging your home is essential in today’s market. Staging aids in turning a potential negative into a positive, and it greatly improves your home’s “showability,” which helps your listing stand out significantly among the competition. Georgia’s Blue Ridge and surrounding areas offer a unique market, which includes a variety of traditional and cabin style homes for full-time living, mountain retreats, and rental investments, so staging your home is particularly important, as buyers must be able to visualize how your home will suit their needs.

 

So now you are probably thinking, “with the possibilities my home has to offer, where should I begin?” Think curb appeal. The exterior of your home is what welcomes buyers to the inside. Our first suggestion is to give the outside of your home a well-maintained look; this includes pressure washing and repairing the basics. In addition to giving the structure an overhaul, yard maintenance is of utmost importance. Overgrown grass and weeds make your home feel neglected from the moment buyers arrive and steer their thoughts in the wrong directions prior to even entering your home. Upon completion of the exterior basics, you can freshen your look with items such as modern front door wreath, potted plants & flowers, and you may even consider a front porch bench with an accent pillow or throw.

The next step in staging your home is to enter your dwelling from the front door, as buyers will be when previewing your home. Take a look around. What way will you move first? Is the path you would take obvious? Are you able to move easily through each room throughout your home? Does it appear spacious? Does it look clean? Does it look clear? Are your eyes drawn where they should be?

 

“Decluttering” is one of the most basic steps in preparing your interior for a speedy sale. Removing clutter maximizes space without making structural changes to your home. This step is one of the most important, as it enhances your home’s features such as closet space, counters, cabinets, flooring, and more. Window treatments should be solid colors or basic patters that enhance, not distract from, the view. The less distractions caused by personal items, the better.

 

Now, let’s identify the purpose of each room. Buyers must be able to visualize how your home will accommodate their lifestyle. It is your job to help determine how a room should function. This may include rearranging existing furniture to improve the flow of each room; any rooms that you may have transformed to fit your lifestyle may need to be converted so that your home doesn’t appear to look empty or deficient.

Once you have cleared your home of unnecessary decorations and defined each room, it is time to freshen walls and modernize accents. This step is a little more time consuming, but it is worth the investment. The best way to freshen walls is with a coat of paint. Light neutrals are a must, and the wallpaper must go. Neutral colors open each room and showcases what each room has to offer. Neutrals also allow buyers to visualize their own furnishings on a solid color such as beige, tan, or almond. This color scheme is not gender specific, so it appeals to both sexes. Solid modern pillows and throws may be used to accent outdated furniture or camouflage worn spots. Think big, bold, and universal.

 

Mountain cabins, this step is for you… stage your room around the view to draw eyes to the outside features. Situate a comfortable chair near the window so that buyers are able to envision themselves enjoying the view with a coffee table and throw conveniently positioned near the chair. Create a cozy environment where buyers can imagine themselves enjoying a book or cup of coffee while enjoying all that the mountain life has to offer.

The term “staging” may sound like quite the investment and may even leave you feeling overwhelmed when you think of hiring a professional interior designer and decorator, or completing the project on your own, but let Nathan Fitts & Team of RE/MAX Town & Country put your mind at ease, as staging is one of their many services offered.

 

The listing process typically includes three major steps: 1) the initial listing appointment 2) listing paperwork: comparative market analysis, listing agreement, disclosures, etc. completed in person or via email 3) professional photos. From this point, Nathan’s listing specialist creates your listing from multiple listing services, as well as for other marketing and advertising campaigns. It is very important to have your home staged and ready prior to the professional photos that Nathan Fitts & Team provides to market and advertise your listing. Your staging consultation can take place during your listing appointment to make the process flow more smoothly. Nathan and his team are not only able to offer suggestions, but they are also equipped to provide you with the necessities to polish your home.

 

Ready? It’s time to style, stage, and sell. (877)BUY-MTNS

No Comments

What Is a Listing Agent? Why a Home Sale Hinges on Agent’s Expertise

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, finding a listing agent should be at the top of your to-do list. But just what is a listing agent? You might have a vague mental image of someone who plants a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn and shows potential buyers around your place, but there’s plenty more to it.

Here’s a primer on what a listing agent does, how the agent makes or breaks your sale, and how to find the right agent for you.

How listing agents help you price your home

How much is your home worth? That’s a hard question to answer. You can get an estimated value by entering your address on realtor.com®, but from there you’ll want to do some fine-tuning—and that’s where a good listing agent can help.

And the stakes are high: Price your home too low, and you could lose out on a lot of money. Price it too high, however, and the picture isn’t pretty either. While it may be tempting to work with an agent who says he can fetch a fortune for your home, overpricing may mean your home languishes on the market for months or even years—making buyers wonder if something’s wrong with your home and lowball you anyway.

“Listing agents have many duties and responsibilities, but at the top of the list is to properly price your home,” says Janine Acquafredda, a Realtor® with House-n-Key Realty.

To do this, a listing agent will analyze the sales prices of comparable homes, or “comps,” in your area to see where yours should fit in, and advise you accordingly.

How listing agents help you sell your home

After you determine an asking price, a listing agent should provide you with a comprehensive marketing plan detailing how she’ll get your property sold. This plan should include the following:

  • Recommendations for home improvements or home staging, if necessary. Yes, these alterations will cost you time and money, but they will improve your chances of a faster sale and higher asking price.
  • Taking photos or hiring a photographer who will be able to highlight your home’s best features.
  • Adding your home to the multiple listing service, where home buyers and their agents can view your property and decide if they’d like to come visit for a closer look.
  • Advertising and holding open houses.
  • Coordinating showings with prospective buyers.

How listings agents negotiate with buyers

Once you get an offer on your home, it’s the listing agent’s job to present it to you and advise if any haggling needs to be done. For instance, if you get an offer way below asking price, your knee-jerk reaction may be to refuse in a huff. But a listing agent might be able to negotiate with the buyers and bring that price up to a decent level—or, if the buyers truly can’t budge much, find other ways to sweeten the deal like a faster closing date or waived contingencies. These compromises can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars.

How to choose a listing agent

If you’re looking for a listing agent, you can find ones in your area at realtor.com/realestateagents, where you’ll find such details as their years of experience, number of homes sold, clients’ reviews, and more. Don’t just move forward with the first agent you meet. Choose at least a few and ask them some questions to assess whether they’re right for you.

Here are some questions to ask a prospective listing agent:

  • How many homes have you sold in this area, and how long did it take?
  • In what price range do you sell most of your homes?
  • Do you have advice for me about the condition of my home, and what could be improved to glean a higher sales price?
  • What is your marketing plan?
  • Can you recommend contractors, photographers, moving companies, etc.?
  • Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors®? (Realtors must abide by the group’s code of ethics.)
  • Is this your full-time job? (A part-time agent is not a problem, but you will want to gauge her availability during off-hours.)
  • How often will you touch base with me?
  • Are you planning any vacations, and if so, who will back you up?

How much listing agents get paid

Listing agents don’t receive a dime unless your home gets sold. If it does, the typical agent commission is 6% of the price of your home (which is typically split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent). This price may seem substantial, but consider this: For every hour an agent spends with you, he will spend an average of nine hours behind the scenes working on your behalf. In other words, listings agents work hard to earn that commission and get your home sold.

Credit: | Sep 14, 2016
Michele Lerner contributed to this report.