As I was reading the Edmond Outlook magazine, I came across an article entitled, “When These Walls Talk”. The article was actually about using picture frames to tell your home’s story. Being a Realtor, it got me to thinking about when I show homes for a buyer or list a home for a seller and the story these homes tell. The questions, in the article, were does your home tell a story of you? Your family? Where you’ve been? These intrigued me. Every home I have seen tells a story of the individuals or families that live in them. Some of these homes are filled with toys, loving pictures on the walls of families enjoying one another while others paint a completely different picture. I have seen homes that war veterans have lived in, metals on their walls showing what they have survived and wars they have fought. The decorating of a home also tells a huge story of the person and/or people that live in it. You can walk into some homes that project a warmth, love, serenity while some I have felt deep sadness, a darker story, sometimes even uneasiness. Those homes my heart yearns to know their story and when leaving, I send up a little prayer for serenity. What story does your home tell? Look around and the next time you choose to sell or buy a home, let’s tell your home’s story together.
HOW TO MOVE WITH PETS
If you are contemplating a move, whether selling or buying your home, don't forget the sweet animals that live with you. Following are some suggestions on moving with your pets.
1. Update your pet's tag with your new address. Make sure your pet's collar is sturdy and correctly sized. The tag should also include your mobile number and e-mail address so that you can be reached during the move.
2. Request veterinary records. Ask your current vet to send your pet's medical history directly to the new vet. Have their contact information in hand in case of emergency or if the new vet has questions.
3. Keep a week's worth of food and medication with you. You may want to ask for an extra prescription refill before you move. Take the same precaution with special therapeutic foods.
4. Seclude them from chaos. Keep your pet in a safe, quiet room on moving day with a clear sign posted on the door. There are many light, collapsible travel crates available, but ensure it is well ventilated an sturdy enough for stress-chewers. Also, introduce your pet to the crate before the trip.
5. Prepare a pet first aid kit. Include your vet's phone number, gauze to wrap wounds or to muzzle your pet, adhesive tape for use on bandages, nonstick bandages, towels, cotton swabs, antibiotic ointment (without pain relief medication), and 3% hydrogen peroxide.
6. Play it safe in the car. Use a crate or carrier in the car, securing it with a seat belt. Never leave your pet in the bed of a truck, the storage area of a moving van, or alone in a parked vehicle. If you're staying overnight, find pet-friendly lodging beforehand and have kitty litter or plastic bags on hand.
7. Get ready for takeoff. When traveling by air, check with the airline about pet requirements or restrictions and whether you must purchase a special airline crate that fits under the seat in front of you.
8. Prep your new home. Set up one room with everything your pet will need: food, water, medications, bed, litter box, scratch post, and toys. Keep windows and doors closed when your pet is unsupervised, and beware of small spaces where nervous pets may hide. If your old home is nearby, give the new home owners or neighbors your phone number and a photo of your pet, in case your pet tries to return.
9. Learn about local health concerns and laws in your new area. If you're moving to a new country, contact the Agriculture Department or embassy of the country to obtain specific information on special documents, quarantine, or costs related to bringing your pet into the country.
Don't Get Emotional...It's Only Brick and Mortar
Have you ever had someone tell you “don’t get emotional, it’s only brick and mortar” as you are getting ready to sell your home? I remember when I sold my parents home and what an emotional time that was for me. After they had moved to a retirement community, my daughter and I move in. I feel like I had truly “come home” except this time I was the parent. However, being a single mom, it wasn’t long before I knew I had to sell the home and move on. I enlisted a Realtor friend from church to be the privileged person to sell my family’s homestead. She knew my struggle and became, not only my Realtor, but also my counselor and guide through this incredibly difficult time. Her compassion was exactly what I needed and she knew I wasn’t just selling brick and mortar but memories as well. She took the time to listen to stories of my childhood adventures in the home where many precious memories were made. As the day arrived and it was my final time to say good-bye to my old longtime friend (the home), she prayed for me and the memories that would forever be locked in my heart.
I’m now privileged to be the Realtor who prays for and reminds people it’s okay to be emotional. Your home is more than brick & mortar…it’s those memories that will sustain you as you move towards a new beginning. And because of the example that was shown to me, I will be forever grateful for the angel that was placed in my life and that I called Realtor.
Selling Your Home? What About My Pet?
Those of us who have pets are devoted to our friendly furry friends but when selling your home it doesn't always make a home sale easy. According to Diane Saatchi, broker with Saunders & Associates in East Hampton, N.Y., "Pets are either an attractive distraction, so cute that they distract prospective buyers from losing at the real estate, or completely the opposite---smelly, frightening, or otherwise off-putting.
Realtor.com suggested some tips on how to handle our furry friends to sale our homes:
1. Get the yard ready. It is always a good idea to make sure your yard is free of any pet droppings and repair any spots where the family dog may have been digging holes. Also, be sure and double-bag your droppings as not to smell up the garbage can outside. If there are yellow spots in the yard, Realtor.com suggests aerating and seeding any bare spots, or even consider replacing patches with new sod.
2. Watch for smells. Make sure your carpets are free from odor by having a professional clean them. If the odor is too potent, replacing the carpet entirely may be necessary. Also, bathe your pets regularly to help prevent odors.
3. Check your insurance. An unknown visitor entering your home may prompt even a normally calm pet to lash out. If a potential buyer is scratched or bitten by a pet, the Seller could be liable. Check your homeowners insurance to see if you are covered for such incidents.
4. Stow away evidence. Put away all pet care taking items, leashes, toys, water and food bowls, for showings. Don't forget the cat litter box!!
5. Crate or relocate. If the pet must stay during the showing, make sure you crate them or confine them to an area. Have your Realtor warn other realtor professionals the pets are there so they can let their buyers know. Best case scenario is the pet is relocated for the showing as not to distract potential buyers.
Source: "6 Essential Steps for Selling a Home with Pets" realtor.com(Oct. 25, 2016)
Can I Get My Earnest Money Back?
An earnest money deposit shows the seller that a buyer is serious about purchasing a property. When the transaction is finalized, the funds are put toward the buyer's down payment. If the deal falls through, the buyer may not be able to reclaim the deposit. Typically, if the seller terminates the deal, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. Below are six reasons you can get your earnest money returned.
I love people. I inherently trust people and I sometimes think I’m safe in all situations. Even though I enjoy what I do for a living, unfortunately the profession I am called too can be risky and dangerous. Below are six suggestions to keep yourself safe as a Realtor and buyer/seller.
As a Realtor, I get information regarding a buyer/seller before we meet. Also, a buyer/seller should get as much information on the Realtor before they meet as well.
I meet people at the showings. This can be a safety issue for the buyer as well and most people don’t mind meeting at the showings.
I arrive, if possible, ahead of time to open the home, check it out and know my exit routes. I want to assure buyers that I work with the showing is safe when they arrive.
When the buyer arrives, I greet them either at the door or outside and let them go in ahead of me. If for any reason I feel uncomfortable it’s okay to remain outside the front door or close to it. If a buyer feels uncomfortable with the Realtor, they should be able to decline the showing.
I keep my cell phone in my hand AND I let a co-worker, spouse, friend, family member know where I am. There are several apps available for free that can keep track of where you are. These apps can be used for a buyer as well.
Lastly, trust your gut!!!! I can’t stress this enough. If for any reason it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. I have to remember, my safety is much more important than a sale. I want to leave the showing alive.
Buy New or Renovate
I read a great article in the "At Home in Edmond Magazine" about whether to buy new or renovate your home. The article had some great suggestions and questions to think about. They are:
Think about location of your home, what condition it is in and your budget.
Can you renovate within the current footprint? Renovating within the home's existing footprint generally costs 50% less.
Do you want to live through a renovation? Renovations can cause dust, noise and disruption for weeks or even months, and they always take longer than the initial contractor's estimate.
Can you legally do the renovations you want? You often need pre-approval from your homeowner's association and, possibly, the City you live in. Example: City of Edmond, City of Warr Acres, etc.
Does the renovation make sense for your home's value? Putting a $100,000 kitchen into a $150,000 home never makes sense but updating a 1970's kitchen with new cabinets and countertops probably does.
How does your home compare with others in your neighborhood? If an addition will make your home much larger than others in the neighborhood, it may add less value.
Is your home structurally up to the renovation you want? Not all houses can support a second story, for example. Or, if you want to move walls, you may find the project also will require new support beams or concrete floors.
Will renovating one section of your home bring to light other sections that need work? For example, a bathroom renovation reveals old plumbing that needs to be replaced.
How long do you plan to live in the house?
These are just some things to think about...or as the TV commercial says...The More You Know.
I’m proud to be a RE/MAX agent. That is a statement that I often say when asked who am I affiliated with. Of course the question why RE/MAX? So let me point out some reasons why RE/MAX.
First of all, I like the integrity of the company. In 1992, RE/MAX became a sponsor of Children's Miracle Network. The company hosts art auctions, organizes golf tournaments, and encourages agent fundraising activities. When buying or selling a home through RE/MAX, listing as a Miracle Home with the balloon logo helps the local Children's Miracle Network hospital. RE/MAX affiliates have raised $138 million for the Children's Miracle Network hospitals in over 20 years of sponsorship. In 2002, RE/MAX became a sponsor of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race For The Cure events in the United States. Local offices also have fundraisers for local charities.
Secondly, growth and success weren't limited to North America. International expansion exploded in the 1990s, with the 1995 launch of RE/MAX Europe and regional operations in Spain, Italy, Germany and Israel. RE/MAX of Southern Africa debuted as well, marking the network's first move onto the continent. Successful regions in the Caribbean, Australia and elsewhere spread the brand even farther. Today, the RE/MAX network has over 100,000 agents in nearly 100 countries. RE/MAX China is among the newest regions, and it will take RE/MAX into an exciting new frontier. The global.remax.com property search site has helped connect this powerhouse network even more closely, offering buyers a central place to search for listings in dozens of countries, in their own language and currency. So when you are traveling, more than likely, you will see a RE/MAX office.
Just remember, wherever you are in the world, a RE/MAX agent is there for you. We can refer other agents to you globally. And as always, if you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell their home, I’m never too busy for your referrals….even if it’s half-way around the world.
I'll Sell It Myself--What is a Realtor Really Worth?
I am going to “try” and sell my house myself. How many times do we, as Realtors, hear this statement? Probably more than we want to count. This is the time, as a Realtor, I need to step up and share what having my service is worth. What is my value? I applaud those Sellers who do successfully sell their home themselves because it is really a lot of work and time to get the price you want for your home and those Sellers definitely get my accolades.
As a Realtor I know the biggest expense item on the Seller’s Net Sheet is the commission or brokerage fee and I know this is one reason a Seller may shy away from wanting to use the services of a Realtor. However, selling a house can be a complex process. A Realtor can help you at every stage, from setting a price to marketing the property to closing the sale. The selling process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your real estate agent or Realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in your local marketplace, as well as the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in marketing your home and selling it at the best price. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property. The second step is a marketing plan. Marketing exposes your property to the public as well as to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service, other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, and so on. In many markets, a substantial portion of real estate sales is cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. The Realtor Code of Ethics requires Realtors to use these cooperative relationships when they benefit clients. Another factor to consider is providing security. When a property is marketed with an agent’s help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property. Negotiating is another step your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process. And finally, the monitoring, renegotiating and closing. Between the initial sales agreement and the closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, there are unexpected repairs that require the buyer to obtain financing, or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.
When you think about selling the home yourself or using a Realtor consider the scale of your transaction. Selling your home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to solve it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the relatively small cost of hiring a Realtor and the large potential risk of not hiring one, it’s smart to find a professional to sell your home.
Being A RealtoróItís Not Just Selling Houses
Being a realtor, for me, is not just earning a commission. It’s about building lasting friendships. When I got into this business, I was not sure where it would take me. Would anyone even want to hire me as their realtor? What I have found is this is my calling. A ministry. A ministry that shows me to love my neighbor. A ministry that teaches me how to be a better person; to give of myself and to give back to others. Making a commission is only part of it. The gift for me is to give back to the client, even after the sale, to donate to their charity of choice. I feel this fulfills what I’m asked to do in my calling. So being a realtor is not just about selling houses, it goes much deeper and the friendships I make along the way, are the blessings I receive from being the servant I am called to be.