Selling a home these days it tough business. There are a lot of houses on the market and not a lot buyers. So it’s absolutely imperative to put your best foot forward when you list. Cleaning, organizing and de-cluttering are a given, but there are also lots of little touches you can add to help your home stand out from the pack.
Curb appeal counts! Curb appeal is the first impression a buyer gets of your house and it sets the tone for the rest of the showing. Landscaping is an inexpensive way to help your house stand out. People want to know that the former owners have taken care of the property. A neat and trim yard with a flower lined walk-way makes a great first impression. But don’t forget the front door. While agents are getting the keys from the lock boxes and struggling with the locks on the front door, the buyers are taking it all in. So be sure to clean the front door and steps . If it needs a fresh coat of paint, get to work. A $15 can of paint can go along a way in terms of freshing up the front stoop. Other simple improvements include getting a new, stylish mailbox or new address plaque. If a buyer sees a rickety old mailbox hanging by one screw, they likely are going to wonder what else you have neglected
Landscaping shows pride of ownership and that you have attended to the details
Photo by Kara Bailey Kitchen
For most buyers the kitchen is the make it or break it part of the home buying process. Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive projects. But there are a few things you can do to help brighten the room and make it more inviting without investing loads of dough.
Under cabinet light can provide utility by illuminating the work space but it also sets a dramatic mood.
Pot Racks add functionality while also creating an interesting visual. The crown molding on the kitchen cabinets completes the look and adds height.
Photo by Christopher Thiemet
Open shelving creates dimension and gives you the opportunity to add a splash of color
In the end you want your house to stand out, so focus on creating a memorable space that feels like it has been well cared for. These days buyers are very discerning and have a lot of homes to choose from. Clean and well-maintained are good starting pointing but adding the special touches can go a long way.
P.S. Never under estimate the power of clean baseboards! If you do nothing else wipe down all the trim and repaint or polish.
Yesterday I went out with one of my new clients to look at rehab possibilities. I always think the first day out with a new client is interesting. It’s a learning process for both of us. It can be a little overwhelming especially if you are unprepared for how badly some of the places are in need of repair.
This particular client has experience with renovation as he has worked with several developers as a general carpenter. He is able to buy a place with cash, then slowly over time put the home back together using his own funding. In that regard he is very fortunate. But there are loan options out there for people who need to borrow the funds for purchase and renovation.
Here are a couple shots from our tour yesterday. This is the second floor of a mixed-use building. The rooms are spacious and much of the original molding is present. Still, this place needs to be completely gutted.
The pine floors were in pretty bad shape. A small portion of the home was open to the elements so there is some water damage that needs to be taken care of. In addition to all of the cosmetic work, this space will need all new plumbing including the sewer lateral line and new water supply service, new electric and HVAC including ductwork.
This is a photo of the rear of the building. Obviously there’s some brick work that needs to be done in addition to all new windows and doors. The floors in this room were shot as well.
And here is the third floor. It is missing an entire section of wall! Needless to say this project was a bit too overwhelming for my client. The good news is we looked at 7 other properties yesterday and he found two homes that were more his speed.
So the moral of the story is–Yes, you can rehab, but it may take some searching to find the right place.
I read an article yesterday that found a silver lining for those who are thinking of buying but missed the deadline for the $8000 tax credit. Three points to consider were lower interest rates, builder incentives for new construction and the decreasing of list price by home sellers.
On that note, I did a quick search of our MLS to see what happened to the price of homes in a couple St. Louis City neighborhoods. I performed a general search of the zip codes 63116, 63118 and 63104 for homes that are currently listed between $150,000-$300,000.
I found 178 ACTIVE listings in this price range. Next I went through the data and separated the homes by days on market. The deadline for contract acceptance to receive the tax credit was April 30,2010. So I looked for homes that had been on the market for at least 68 days. Of the 178 current actives, 113 of those have been on the market for at least 68 days. Of the 113 that have been on since before the end of the tax credit, 80 have had price reductions, 32 have remained at the original list price and one price actually increased.
Of the 113 that have been on the market longer than 68 days and have reduced their sale prices, I picked four that I have already walked through to highlight below. The four that I picked were ones that were in the top running for some my clients.
2215 Sidney was $215,000 when I looked at it with some of my clients. The couple I was with loved this house and it was their top choice until they found another home that had a two car garage. The home they ultimately bought was listed at $238,000. At the current list price of $189,000, I think 2215 Sidney is a great house for the price.
2647 Russell When I looked at this house, I was impressed with its size, location and two car garage. Now that the listing price has dropped by $20,000, I think it is a steal! Currently listed for $225,000 its a good find in Fox Park. Close to highways and walkable to Lafayette Square.
2012 James was listed at $235 when I walked through it. Since then it has decreased to $225,000. James is a short street tucked into the Benton Park neighborhood and walkable to the new Bittersweet Bakery on Gravois and Blues Cit Deli. The finish quality of the rehab is outstanding and the home has just enough space, a private yard and one car garage.
2745 Accomac This is an amazing rehab! The quality of the construction in this home and high level finish is really hard to find. Before the tax credit the home was listed for $253,000 and it is currently listed for $249,900.
Below is an example of a note I just sent along with an offer. To be honest I am not sure if this works or not, but this is what I have been sending along with offers to purchase when my clients write contracts on foreclosures. Often I feel like these explanations fall on deaf ears and I am never really sure if the listing agent passes them on. However, our contract was ultimately accepted for $10,000 higher than the offer that accompanied this note. The seller (bank) came down 15k from their list price after the property had been on the market for 19 days.
Dear Listing Agent:
Please present this note along with all MLS printouts to your asset manager and please ask that it be forwarded to his/her manager as well. This should accompany our most recent offer of $xxx,xxx with a closing of July 23rd.
Explanation of Included Data
Item 1: Searching the MLS for the address XYZ Street reveals that this home was listed several times since 2002 and was unsuccessful at selling at market value every time. Please note that the most recent expired listing was in 11/2003. At that time the home was in superior condition and was unable to sell for $339,900.
Item 2: This is a map search of the Subdivision including all SOLD properties from the present to June 2000. The highest sold price for this subdivision was $349,900 in 2008.
Items 3-9 Include CMAs of the immediate neighborhoods. (Exact boundaries of map search were included here). Below are the results of the average days on market, price per square foot and % of list price to sale price
Note that for 2009-2010 there are two versions of the CMA. One version eliminates 12345 Lane which sold for 115% of list price. This is obviously an exception.
XYZ Street failed to sell for $339,900 in a good market when it was in superior condition. To get this home back in the condition it was in in 2003 (when it failed to sell) this home will need between 50-70K of updates. At the buyers’ current offer price of $xxx,000 if they invest $70,000 in renovations they will be into this property for $340,000. The highest sold price for any house in this subdivision in the last ten years was for $349,900.
In the current market (within the last year and with the area mapped) homes are selling for approximately 89% of list price with in an average of 40 days on market. 89% of current list price would be $262, 105. The buyers’ current offer is 3% higher than that. Please ask the bank if they would like to sell the home now for 91% of asking price or wait 3 more weeks and sell for no more than 89%.
It is true that this home has only been on the market for 19 days and has already received an offer. However, I am sure based on the feedback you have received from other showings a low offer was no surprise. The systems are nearly as old as the house. The kitchen and all the baths need to be completely updated. Every room needs cosmetic attention in terms of wall repair and paint and all of the floors need to be torn out and re-installed. The rear exterior roof is caving and has caused interior water damage. Most of the windows and skylights need updating. And the condition of the pool is unknown.
This is not priced for an investor and is therefore only marketed to a limited pool of buyers. There are not many buyers in this price range that are willing or financially capable of taking on such a huge renovation. With national forecasts stating that the St Louis County market has not yet hit bottom, the historical MLS data showing that home values in this area have steadily decreased since 2005 and the likelihood that this buyer will have to relocate within 5 years, this will likely be the best offer put forth by any buyer.
Thank you for your consideration and please let me know if you have any questions
Dawn Griffin Real Estate Blog
I’m an experienced Saint Louis Realtor specializing in St. Louis City as well as neighborhoods like Webster Groves, Maplewood, Clayton, University City and Ladue. With an undergraduate degree in Education and Master's in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development — I have the heart of teacher.
I have been immersed in Residential Real Estate, helping home buyers and sellers understand the market, manage the ambiguities and negotiate the best terms for themselves. I am consistently voted a 5-Star Agent by clients and featured as one of St. Louis' Best Agents in Saint Louis Magazine.