Monthly Archives: March 2014

Selling Your Home? Top Things you can do to Make Your Home Appealing to a Home Buyer

If you are selling your home, you need to make your home appealing to a buyer inside and outside. In spite of the fact that this is your home and you do have sentimental attachments, you need to think of your home less as your home and more as the bridge to get you where are you going. And in order to sell anything – it must be appealing. Remember, if the home buyer pictures themselves in the home, you are most of the way to the sale.

Think Retail – When you go into a store and it is clean, well organized, non cluttered and nice and bright and shiny – you feel more like purchasing something. Displays are very often attention grabbing and appealing to the target buyer. Kids displays look differently than teens and adults, etc. To sell your home, it needs to be the same way and appeal to your target market.

Here are some no cost or very little expense must-haves to ensure your home is ready to sell for the best possible price.

1. Remove clutter – We all have too much stuff. Really – we do. Clutter distracts the buyers and makes it difficult for them to see the home. No, your things do not go with the home, but they can be a distraction and in the extreme, they can block the beauty and space of the home. Great time for a garage sale, tax deductible contributions of gently used items or have your friends and relatives come and get what they want (in the case of grown children, some of the stuff is theirs to begin with). I recommend a 30% reduction in kitchen cabinets, kitchen countertops, closets, bookcases, china cabinets, garage and basement storage areas. During this period a storage place can be your best friend and give you a jump on packing.

I also recommend any collections and collectibles are drastically reduced or removed all together. This prevents any accidentally damage during showings. And remember while you like your collection, home buyers may not. They are a distraction and if it is not their style, it can kill the home sale.

2. Reducing also applies to furniture. Square footage = floor space. A room must be balanced and can’t be bare, but too much furniture is not enough floor space. If home buyers feel cramped, they either won’t be interested or the price will go down.

3. Clean. Clean. Clean. Either hire a cleaning service or get your scrub brush out. Clean the house like it were brand new. No cob webs. No kitchen grease and grime. Get the grout/tile and carpets steam cleaned. Clean the cabinets. Clean the windows inside and out. Launder your window treatments. Clean your baseboards. Clean shower tile and caulking. Clean your basement and garage floors. Just like the retail store example, shopping in a dirty retail store is unappealing. Same with a house tour. And keep it clean. On the day of the showing…Put everything away. Make the beds are made and no clothes, toys and other belongings are around.

4. Repairs – All those little things that we put off must be fixed. Broken_____. Missing____.
Doesn’t work_____. Hire a handyman or do it yourself, but get it done. Home buyers exaggerate everything in their heads – especially young home buyers with little DIY experience. They are nervous and one broken switch, stuck window, broken screen or doorknob that doesn’t work gets them to wonder what else is wrong. And even if they can fix it – they will start deducting from the sales price – 2-3x what it really will cost. So, just remove the problem.

5. Reduce your stamp on the house. It is your house. Your personality is reflected. But is your personality the same as that of your target market? You still live there, so you don’t want to eliminate your personality – it is still your home, but you need to neutralize a little, but still keep it warm and cozy. Reduce the amount of family photos. This often makes buyers feel uncomfortable, as if they are intruding in someone else’s home. Take the kids art off the refrigerator.
Think of someone you know in your target market. Go around your house and ask yourself if they would like this or that. Remember, you are just packing it away – not giving it away (unless you want to).

6. Outside – Don’t forget curb appeal. In cold weather and snow, curb appeal is basically one thing – make sure to shovel drives and walks and put icemelt on them. But in warmer weather, transfer the tips from the inside to the outside. Power wash the siding. Mow the lawn. Remove any unnecessary garbage or unfinished “projects”. Trim the bushes. Remove dead plants. Even plant some inexpensive annuals. And again, personality – consider lawn ornamentation reduction or removal.

7. Remove Wallpaper. Throughout the years wallpaper has been in and out. Now it is out – very out. Even borders. Remove it. Yes, it is a pain for you. But can you imagine what a turn off it is to home buyers? If you don’t want to do it, what makes you think they will? You will likely have to paint over where the wallpaper was. Make it a warm and neutral color. By the way – white or anything with white in the name is not a warm neutral color.

To sell your home, it has to appeal to home buyers. Before they come in the home in pictures on the internet, when they are touring, and afterward when they are showing their friends and relatives internet pictures and trying to decide which home to buy.

Downpayment Assistance Programs Make it Easier to Buy A Home in Illinois

What can you do if you don’t have enough down payment or closing costs to buy a home? You can buy a home with $1,000 or less. Here are some assistance programs offered by the Illinois Department of Housing Authority (IHDA). All these programs require that the home be purchased and used as a principal residence for at least 2-3 years. And for many of these downpayment assistance programs, you do not have to be a first-time buyer.

I have heard people say – what’s the catch or I wouldn’t qualify. You need to meet minimum credit score and income eligibility requirements, but you just never know. These programs are designed to get people to buy homes, and often the income requirements meet many people. If you can get the money, why not take advantage of it? Or at least find out?

Several towns in Illinois, including Park Forest, South Holland, Chicago Heights, Lynwood, Lockport and Crest Hill, are eligible for the Illinois Building Blocks Grant which provides $10,000 towards down payment, closing costs and reduction in purchase price to buy a home. There are income MAXIMUMS between $90-107,000 and you need to qualify with credit score and income to get a loan. You DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer. The home has to be vacant, move-in ready and only in one of the selected towns.

Smart Moves is a downpayment assistance program available to first-time buyers only to buy a home. You can not have owned a home in the last 3 years to be a first-time buyer. This offers $6,000 in down payment and closing costs. Again, the home must be move in ready and anywhere in Illinois.

There are also programs for property tax relief through state income tax credits for 30 years (the life of your loan). This one is for first-time buyers only and usually is only available at the beginning of the year as funds run out on that one towards the middle of the year or earlier. These other programs, however, do have plenty of money available.

Illinois Veterans can take advantage of two homeower assistance programs to find an affordable way to buy a home. VA loans offer a no money down and no private mortgage insurance option. You need to qualify for the home by income and credit and have a DD214. No income maximums. The home only needs to be move-in ready. The Welcome Home Heroes program provides a $10,000 grant for any town to cover closing costs and downpayment. You need to contribute 1% or $1,000 toward down payment. And you DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer to buy a home with this program.

Not all lenders have the ability to loan a home on these programs but many do. I work with lenders who do offer these programs. If there is a will, there is a way to buy a home. Downpayment assistance to buy a home through grants like this are ready and waiting for you.