3 easy ways to make your client’s home more appealing to buyers

Help your clients get the most out of their investment with these simple tips for sellers.

Yes, paint it

They’ve probably heard this tip, but it’s worth stressing: Painting a home is one of the easiest ways to improve the impression your client’s home makes on buyers. They can save money by doing it themselves or save time and pay someone else. If you have good references, they will appreciate it. Bring them some popular color samples to help them decide. Ask at your local paint store for popular choices.

They may only need to paint a room or two, and keep in mind that freshening up the trim and doors might be all they really need

Go for the minor remodel

A major kitchen or bathroom remodel can cost tens of thousands of dollars. While buyers will appreciate the results, your sellers may not recoup the cost of the work when they sell. However, they can make smaller changes—most of which are easy to DIY—to bring an updated look that will appeal to buyers.

You can suggest they consider replacing faucets, light fixtures, and cabinet and drawer pulls, especially if they are worn, dated or just not very attractive. In bathrooms, they’ll get a lot of bang for the buck with fresh towel holders, a new shower head, and light-switch and outlet covers. And be sure to offer advice on dated wallpaper or paint colors.

Spend some time outside

We all know well how important first impressions are and the curb appeal of a house is vital. Remember to take marketing pictures after the front yard has been refreshed with new mulch, flowers, and potted plants. Staging the walk up is as important as keeping the inside tidy. You can also suggest they repaint the numbers on the curb or replace a dented or rusted mailbox.

Out back, more potted plants or flowers can add a pop of color even in small spaces. Suggest your sellers trim back overgrown trees and shrubs - especially if they’re getting too close to the structure. If there are bare spots, they can add fresh sod or create a flower bed if it makes more sense.

Finally, point out the common flaws inspectors find and suggest they address some of the easier honey-do items that are routinely mentioned - in other words, introduce them to the wonders of a caulk gun, freshly painted chimney stacks, and clean gutters.

By helping your sellers tighten up the look of their property, you will all enjoy the benefits of a more appealing and marketable property.

Why you should tell your clients not to assume the highest offer for their house is the best one

There are many factors involved when considering competing offers with your clients. Here’s a handy guide to help your clients better understand all of the offers on the table. Share it with them and let the referrals roll in!

Consider all of the factors that will determine which offer is right for you.

Where’s this money coming from?

Without cash or a letter from a lender that is providing a mortgage loan, buyers may not be able to afford the price they’re proposing. Ask your MetroTex Realtor to find out if potential buyers are prequalified or preapproved.

How serious are the offers?

Potential buyers will put a certain amount of earnest money toward the sale in advance of the closing to show they’re entering into this transaction in good faith. Your MetroTex Realtor can help you verify if the amount of earnest money is a strong offer, which is a sign of serious buyers. If the transaction closes, the money counts toward the down payment; if it doesn’t close, you may get to keep the earnest money.

When’s moving day?

Determine if the proposed timeline for the transaction matches your schedule. If the buyers want a closing date that’s too soon for you, temporary-housing costs could eat into that higher offer. Of course, if the buyers don’t want the transaction to close for a few months, you could end up paying two mortgages for a while.

They want the TV and the dining room set?

Buyers can put all kinds of things in an offer. They can request an option to terminate, ask for repairs, see if you’ll leave appliances or furniture, and make the offer contingent upon the sale of their current home. Your MetroTex Realtor can help you decide what is reasonable.

How to Use DFWRealEstate.com to Grow Your Business

Attention agents! Right now there’s a free online tool that gives you leads off your listings and helps you capture the activity of your database. And it’s exclusively available to MetroTex members.

DFWRealEstate.com is a user-friendly portal that is pleasing to the eye and is a powerful tool for consumers, agents and brokers. It’s not an app – it’s a mobile-ready website that performs beautifully no matter what kind of device you use to access it.

Get Started: Register with DFWRealEstate.com, go to Settings, and request to Upgrade your membership to professional status. Once you’re approved, you can go back to your Settings and explore the tools you have available. You’ll be able to update your account profile picture, contact information, and password. And most importantly, you’ll be able to capture and keep leads. To capture the activity of your existing client database, Go to Agent Tools to see your unique Agent Code. Once you have it, encourage everyone in your database to register with DFWRealEstate.com using your Agent Code.

Agent Code: When your clients register with your Agent Code, they can save and share collections of their favorite properties, design ideas, school districts - you name it. As their agent, you’ll be able to track dozens of your clients’ clicking behaviors so you can be more responsive. You’ll see the traffic analytics of their saved collections on your own dashboard. Share data exclusively with them, if you like. And remember, all of your client’s listing inquiries are sent directly to you. Your clients will love the easy-to use platform, access to school rankings, maps and updated status on available properties. And they’ll have fun saving collections and sharing them through their social media – whether it’s sharing design ideas, drooling over dream houses, or finding their new home, they’ll be able to interact with their family and friends through the portal.

Dashboard: You’ll get leads on your listings and be able to track their online activity through your private dashboard. Here you’ll capture powerful data on active listings – how many views they’ve had, clicks and leads they’ve generated. While you’re on the Dashboard, check out the inventory snapshot to see how the market is performing this month compared to last year, and check out the Year-to-Date statistics. There is full data here for all types of property status. If you haven’t won that listing yet, you can use this data to demonstrate how market-savvy you are.

Listing Analytics Is your listing not getting enough showings? Take a look to see if people are looking at it online. Maybe you need to change up the listing photo, or re-word the description if it’s getting impressions but not clicks. Or, maybe it’s time to take the statistics to your seller and use them to help you make your point about reconsidering the listing price.

Lead Management: See which listings have generated leads and who wants to see them.

Lead Pools: If your office is sharing leads, you can look here to see if there are any from your office that are available. Your broker will let you know how many leads you can grab and how often. Once you’ve captured a lead, respond to it and track the results in the palm of your hand or on your desktop.

Leads Report: Here you’ll see which leads have been generated, who the listing agent is, whether the lead was claimed and when.

Prospects: Once you’ve captured a lead and turned it into a prospect, you’ll be able to track and manage their data here.

NAR Report: Information junkies rejoice! The latest market data from NAR is available at your fingertips in a date-customizable format. You’ll also find the most recent data on Sales & Inventory – where you can generate charts to look at trends. Or if you’re curious about how your company stacks up, check out the Market Penetration by Company report. Market Comparisons looks at how the market is performing over time.

DFWRealEstate.com is a robust member benefit. It’s got powerful data and lead generation tools to grow your business. Let DFWRealEstate.com fill your pipeline so you can spend more time working in your business. It’s free, it’s exclusive, and it’s only brought to you by MetroTex.

How about that Texas Market?

How long will this booming market last? Are we in a bubble? Is it a good time to buy or sell? These are questions we are all hearing a lot these days. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a working crystal ball anywhere in the Metroplex. However, we do have something better. Hard data from the experts. The folks at the Texas A&M Real Estate Center regularly publish data about the Texas economy. Here are the highlights from their latest report, boiled down to facts you can use when answering questions from the public.

The Texas economy is robust. Employment is the state is strong and growing. More people are re-entering the job market. The biggest gains in employment recently have been in the services sectors, (financial services, education, health services, professional and business services) as well as in trade, leisure, and hospitality. Analyses of the business cycle and current economic activity point to positive trends in the state.

Texas housing sales appear to be accelerating. Demand for housing is strong in most areas, although Houston is lagging somewhat. Across the state, housing sales increased 7.8 percent in April. Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio all experienced an increase in sales. Houston dropped 0.2 percent as the impact of the energy sector decline plays out in the Houston economy.

Home building activity is brisk. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth led the nation in the number of single-family permits issued followed by Atlanta, Phoenix, and Austin in April. That said, Dallas-Fort Worth issued fewer permits than its peak rate in December 2015.

Inventory of available housing is low. Dallas-Fort Worth inventory levels were estimated at 2.2 months in both April and May, compared to 3.7 months statewide, and 5.6 months nationwide. Low inventory levels are contributing to rapid price growth in housing.

Incomes are not following pace with the housing price increase. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, real earning levels have not increased above January 2007 levels.

Answering the question “Should I Remodel or Sell?”

You should sell. It’s a great time to be in the market. Take advantage of today’s interest rates and the hot market.

At least, that’s what you want to answer. But the quick answer isn’t always the best one for your potential client. A better solution is to walk through the pros and cons with your client and really let them know that the answer you give is in their best interest. Even if you don’t end up listing that house right now, you’ll be more likely to get referrals – and their business- if you take the time to have a conversation. Here are our thoughts about how to answer, “should we remodel or sell?”

1.   “How long are you planning to keep the house?” If they love the neighborhood but hate the bathroom, then a renovation keeps them in the house and neighborhood where they are comfortable. If they need more space because their family is growing and they want a long-term solution, then it’s probably time to go. Find out where they are in life and what’s coming down the pike in the next 5 years.

2.   “How much are you planning on doing to the house?” Usually it’s updating flooring, kitchens and baths. Keep a running tally in your head of roughly how much they’re looking at spending. A typical bath remodel of flooring, tub/shower surround, cabinets, paint, sinks, lights and faucets can run between $6000 - $10,000 depending on size and quality of finishes. Kitchens average from $15,000 - $50,000 or more. Installed carpet is typically about $5-7/sf and hardwoods average $8-15/sf. Of course, you’ll want to recommend that they have contractors come give them more accurate quotes, but you’ll have a general idea of how much money they will need to spend to get the house they want. If they start talking about moving a lot of walls, plumbing, or adding on then unless they are absolutely in love with their location, it’s probably time to start looking for something else.

3.   “How much equity do you have in the house?” If your client has a lot of equity in the house, then it opens up more financing options for them to pay for the remodel. They could consider a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. Interest on these loans is tax-deductible like a mortgage so it takes the sting out of the bills a little. Alternatively, if the client doesn’t have much equity, they may end up putting themselves underwater. Granted, in this market they likely wouldn’t stay underwater too long, but you don’t want to be the one to give them the advice to remodel when it’s financially a poor decision if they’re planning to sell soon anyway.

4.   “Are you willing to put up with construction mess for 3, 6, or 12 months? Because no matter how long you think it should take, it will take longer.

5.    “What do you think your house would sell for as it is? What would it sell for if you updated a little? And what would it sell for if you completely remodeled? Finally, what would your budget be if you bought new? Would that budget get you what you want?” This part of the conversation probably involves running comps and means a follow-up conversation. Never a bad thing.

Take the time to engage in a longer, meaningful conversation with your client and you’ll create a foundation of trust with your client that will lead you to more business. Don’t dread the question. Consider it your lucky day. If they’re asking, then they’re already feeling like the house they have no longer suits their needs. And that means they’re probably going to end up selling. Even if they don’t sell, you’ve already established yourself as a trusted resource that they’re more likely to refer to their friends.

Selling a Home? Be sure to Play Your Part

Want to sell your home fast and for the best possible price? Getting your house ready for market - and keeping it that way - should be your top priority. The good news is, our simple tips won’t break the bank and will help ensure your house sells quickly. Maintaining your property in ready-to-show condition takes some effort, but it’s well worth the results.

Staging and Maintenance before the sale:

The key with staging is to remove distractions. Your goal should be to make the house welcoming and as neutral as possible. Think of a hotel lobby.  It’s welcoming, but doesn’t say much about the personality of the owner. Your prized miniatures collection may be amazing, but you want shoppers picturing themselves in your home, not admiring the things that aren’t going to be there when they move in. Now is a great time to pack away family photos and mementos. You’ll have to pack them eventually, anyway, and the home will photograph and show better without them.

Address the clutter. Both inside and out, make sure everything has a place. Clear out any trash, pick up old newspapers, and put away tools, toys or leftover building materials. Pick up after pets.

Keep the lawn mowed and edged. Trim hedges and shrubs and replace or dig up old plants and freshen the mulch in the flower beds. Add color with flowers and potted plants. Power wash the driveway if there are grease or oil spots.

Park vehicles in the garage or on the street; leaving the driveway clear.

Scrape away peeling paint and replace rotted trim, then freshen up with a new coat of paint. Peeling paint on your exterior doesn’t present well and will make people question how well-maintained the home is. Inside, freshen with a neutral paint color or at the very least, dust and wash the walls, removing any smudges or marks.

Shampoo carpets or replace them if they’re too worn, and have drapes dry cleaned.

Have the windows washed and steam clean the grout in kitchen and baths.

Do your best to eliminate pet and smoking odors, but don’t overdo it with air fresheners. Any overpowering scents will be a distraction.

On showing day, make the beds, do the dishes, empty wastebaskets and put away laundry. Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and turn on some soft music. Do quick vacuuming and dusting. Set out “show towels” in baths.

When you list with your MetroTex Realtor, make sure to let them install a professional grade lock box and key. An electronic key box can only be accessed by licensed professionals and leaves a time stamp record whenever the property is accessed. Leave the key box on through inspections and final walk-through.

Try to be flexible in the scheduling of showings. Yes, you lead a busy life and your life will be interrupted for showings. A lot. But if you turn down showings, that potential buyer may not try again. They probably also have busy schedules or may be coming from out of town and may not have the opportunity to reschedule. Do your best to allow showings as much as possible so you have the opportunity to get the most feedback and offers in as short of time as possible.

If approached directly by a buyer who is not represented by a real estate professional, please contact your MetroTex Realtor. Do not allow strangers into your property unescorted. Just because your house is on the market doesn’t mean you should let anyone into your home without an appointment.