Southern Utah Real Estate Market Conditions

With just 60 days to go before the 2014 Real Estate market hits -Reset- and dives into 2015, the October St. George Utah real estate market conditions and statistics continue to look positive.

In drilling down on the current inventory, it’s hard not to notice the the greater St. George Utah area – primarily in the cities of Ivins, Santa Clara, Hurricane, Washington, St. George, Brookdale, and Pine Valley – currently has an inventory of 3,978 active real estate listings. Of those listing, only 196 are listed as condo/townhomes for sale; with 275 townhomes sold thus far this year on the Washington County Board of realtors MLS.

Active Vs. Sold Listings

The Southern Utah real estate market has no doubt survived some rather dramatic vacillation over the past 48 months. During the ordinarily quiet month of September, Realtors in St. George Utah sold 280 real estate listings via the MLS, representative of significant deterioration over 2013s 301 sold properties for the same month. Exploding onto the MLS during September 2014, a total of 2005 Active Listings were listed for sale in the hopes of finding a new owner, representing a significant jump from last year’s Active Listings of 1691 during the month September.

Cumulative Days On Market (CDOM)

With the 2015 holiday rapidly approaching, it’s beneficial for southern Utah’s would-be home sellers to understand that traditionally, while the holiday season is fun for the family- It ultimately means increased -Cumulative Days on Market.- Example: when comparing the average CDOM for a listing in September, a properly listed property lasted on the southern Utah MLS for roughly 78 days. Conversely, that same listing, with the same Realtor – and at the same list price could expect to spend an additional 20 days on the WCBR MLS if listed in during December – a not so welcome Christmas gift.

Southern Utah’s Popular Price Range

The bread-and-butter of the “Palm Springs” of Utah’s (i.e. St. George) real estate inventory, homes under $300,000 remains popular. As the remnants of St. George’s housing inventory gets picked over by the newest -snowbirds- in town, those with access to the WCBR MLS can easily tell that one of the more desirable list price ranges remains those properties under $300,000. When examining some of the available data sets for the past 30 days of MLS activity, we see those properties listed under $200,000 enjoyed a greater proportion of buyers competing for their property – perpetuating a long and healthy trend in southern Utah.

Generally speaking, St. George’s homebuyers feel most comfortable in this price range. For their $200K, today’s buyers are looking for that perfect home; comprising approximately 1800 sq. ft., with a flexible floor plan. Additionally, today’s buyers want a home that backs up to green space – think an open park-like space in many of the newer communities. Upon close review of the single-family residential sales for southern Utah, we see the housing sector standing firm and holding its own.

Currently, the southern Utah MLS absorption rate is increasing incrementally; the cumulative days on market for a properly priced single-family residential list have declined dramatically. Representing a 2.91% increase in the median priced home sold in greater St. George area, our median price sales jumped from $232,000 in 2013 to $249,000 in 2014 – not a bad increase. Learn More At: Southern Utah Real Estate Market Condition

A Home Staging Process Simplified

The objective of home staging services company would be to make preparing their clients home for sale as stress-free an experience as possible. Whether an occupied home or a empty home staging project, stagers perform as much as they possibly can in order to streamline the process so that all that is required of the client is actually access to the home and a phone call to inform them the task has been completed. Everything in between is actually handled effectively and effectively by the staging organization. One of the results is high-impact home staging project photos for MLS and marketing material. Below is a brief introduction to the actions involved in staging a house:

Step 1: The actual Consultation
This is actually the most important part of the process. The home stager will walk through the property, room through room, as well as critically evaluate what must be addressed for each room as well as space inside the home. The majority of home staging companies will then provide the seller with a comprehensive list of motion items through room. These range from such things as de-cluttering, de-personalizing, getting rid of pieces of furniture (which may be put into temporary storage space), addressing small repairs, landscape designs issues, etc.

Step 2: Prep Work
For clients that don’t possess the time or even inclination to complete the packaging, storing, painting, repairing along with other preparatory actions, the home staging company can take proper care of these items on their behalf. Many stagers work with reputable trades people that can deal with minor to more substantial projects and are accustomed to work within tight timelines. This is really a key bit of value that’s often undervalued by sellers, for two reasons. First, identifying reputable deals people can often be a challenge. Secondly, finding ones which are willing to work on a tight timeline for a fairly modest job can signify a challenge when it comes to getting the deals persons attention. The advantage that the stager brings is getting rid of these two challenges, as the stager works with them on a regular basis, and therefore is able to give a steady stream of recommendations to the trades person.

Step 3:Staging
Artwork, bedding, accessories and furniture – It is these things that actually bring the project collectively. The home staging company adds heat and a lifestyle that the potential buyers will adore. This process typically takes a day to accomplish.

Step 4: De-Staging
After the property offers, the home staging organization returns, load up all of the inventory items, and removes them. This part of the process is included within the home staging project fee.

These 4 simple steps can be accomplished very quickly and both add substantial value to a homes selling price as well as increase the time for you to closing the actual sale.

Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now

Ten years ago, a search for real estate
would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by
just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an
afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the
local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of
interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you
found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the
asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still
might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get
really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property
searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by
location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a
property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view
photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check
other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of
the property’s value, see what the current owner paid for the property,
check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and
even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without
leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are
convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because
of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its
accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate”
returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for
real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many
resources online how does an investor effectively use them without
getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information?
Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works
offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and
strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate
is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent
or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through
real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same
professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience
and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of
active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings
provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The
database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties
(including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a
multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by
member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose
of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of
compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This
purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS
information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is
directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different
forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but
aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs
often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar
to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not
required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other
members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most
cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS
and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The
lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more
difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by
driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate
listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is
to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What
is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are
used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a
licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict
code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing
information was historically only available in hard copy, and as we
mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an
MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information
started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One
reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and
most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE
property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are
many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate
information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites,
regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and
valuation and market information sites. The flood of real estate
information to the Internet definitely makes the information more
accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and
misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of real
estate information on the Internet, most properties are still sold
directly through real estate agents listing properties in the local MLS
or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By
its nature, the Internet is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE
listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web
sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web
site, http://www.realtor.com,
and to the local real estate agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing
may be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In essence, the
Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today’s real
estate agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print
advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may
also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the
seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract
and help with closing. When an agent provides all of these services it
is referred to as being a full service listing arrangement. While full
service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing
arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the
technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to
change the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the
instant access most consumers now have to property listings and other
real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other
technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching
process for real estate. For example, consumers can view properties
online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs
to send listings to consumers that match their property criteria. So,
some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees
accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but
only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real
estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because
of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people
hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular
services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and
knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about
access to property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically
found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now
provides ways to directly find qualified agents or to research the
biography of an agent referred to you offline. One such site,
AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real
estate agents. On this site an agent can personalize their profile,
start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web
site for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page the
search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes
REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the
long run. It may change the role of the agent but will make
knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than
ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly
in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a
global business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that
the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people
make in their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple
purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it
remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold
information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of
properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate
information?

Online real estate information is a great research
tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used
properly, buyers can save time by quickly researching properties and,
ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently
research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent
and marketing their properties online. The next step is to know where to
look online for some of the best resources.

Internet Strategies

In the sections that follow, we provide
strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate properties for
sale and research information relevant to your decision to purchase the
property. There are many real estate Web sites from which to choose and
although we do not mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have
found the ones listed here to be good resources in most cases or to be
so popular that they need mention. One way to test a Web site’s accuracy
is to search for information about a property you already own.

Finding Real Estate for Sale

Despite the
widely available access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS
databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of
real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other Web
sites (primarily operated by real estate agents). An excellent starting
point for MLS originated content is the national NAR Web site,
realtor.com, which is also the most popular web site for searching real
estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs have an agreement
with realtor.com to display much of their active listing inventory.

Some
local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Web
site. However, to get complete information you will most likely still
need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local real estate agents
will also provide their customers (via email) new listings that are
input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This can be
very helpful to a busy buyer.

There are also many Web sites that
display both real estate agent listed and for-sale-by-owner properties.
Some of the more popular Web sites include zillow.com and trulia.com.
These sites offer other services too. For example, zillow.com is best
known for its instantaneous property valuation function and trulia.com
for providing historical information. Another source of properties for
sale is the state, regional, and local Web sites associated with
brokerage companies; for example, remax.com or prudential.com. Search
engines like yahoo.com and classified advertising sites like
craigslist.com also have a large number of active real estate listings.

One
key difference between these sites is how much information you can
access anonymously. For example, at trulia.com you can shop anonymously
up to a point but then you will need to click through to the agent’s Web
site for more information. Many new real estate search engines allow
you to sift through listings without having to fill out a form. The best
strategy is to browse a few of the sites listed above to find
geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. Once you get
serious about a property, then that is the time to find a qualified
REALTOR of your choice to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.

It
also never hurts to search the old-fashioned way by driving through the
neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically,
not virtually, walking the block when you are making a serious
investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local
business and standing in front of the property can lead to a much
different decision than viewing a Web page printout.

Valuing Real Estate

As
we mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is zillow.com’s
instant property valuation. Just type in an address and in and you get a
property value. It even charts the price ups and downs, and shows the
last date sold (including price) and the property taxes. There are other
sites that provide similar tools such as housevalues.com and
homegain.com. Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values
alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, these
are only rough estimates based on a formula that incorporates the local
county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly over a short
period of time and do not appear to always track actual market changes,
which are normally more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not
automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or
other property specific or local changes. This is not to say these sites
are not useful. In fact, they are great starting points and can provide
a good ball-park value in many cases.

When it comes to getting a
more accurate value for a particular property, there are other
strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your
county’s Web site. More often than not the county assessor’s area of the
Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the
county. If you want to research a particular property or compare sales
prices of comparable properties, the local assessor’s sites are really
helpful. When you visit a county’s Web site you are getting information
straight from the source. Most counties today publish property
information on their Web sites. Many times you cannot only see the price
a previous owner paid, but the assessed value, property taxes, and
maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property
valuation tools too.

Given the importance of valuation to
investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important
(non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate agents and appraisers.
Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to get
value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of
the MLS is to market the active property listings of its members, the
system also collects sales information for those listings. REALTOR
members can pull this sales information and produce comparable market
analyses (sometimes called CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a
particular property’s value for the market in a particular area.

Finally,
the most accurate way to value a property is by having a certified
appraiser produce an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both
the sold information in the MLS system as well as county information and
then analyze the information to produce a valuation for the property
based on one or more approved methods of valuation. These methods of
valuation can include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for
differences between the properties, determine the cost to replace the
property, or, with an income producing property, determine a value based
on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There
are many ways the Internet can help you get the scoop on a particular
neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at census.gov. You
can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like outside.in or
review local blogs. A blog is a Web site where people discuss topics by
posting and responding to messages. Start by looking at placeblogger.com
and kcnn.org/citymediasites.com for a directory of blogs. Trulia.com
has a “Heat Map” that shows how hot or cold each neighborhood is based
on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.

Schools

When
it comes to selling residential property or rental properties that
cater to families, the quality of the area school district makes a huge
difference. There are many Web sites devoted to school information.
Check out greatschools.net or schoolmatters.com. Most local school
districts also have their own Web site. These sites contain a variety of
information about the public schools and the school district, including
its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

A
recent addition to the Internet boom in real estate information is Web
sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local
knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially
networking with blogs. You can search to find an agent with a particular
expertise, geographic area of specialization, or an agent offering
specific services. The web site AgentWorld.com lets users quickly and
easily find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and
clean and simple agent profiles. AgentWorld.com also enables agents to
post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find the
best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles include a direct
link to the agent’s web site where you will likely find the local MLS
listings.

Maps and Other Tools

The Internet has made
mapping and locating properties much easier. To get an aerial view or
satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to maps.live.com or
maps.google.com or visit walkscore.com to see how walk-able a particular
property is. These sites can give you an idea of the neighborhood
characteristics and the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other
facilities that are within walking distance of the property.
Maps.Live.com provides a view at an angle so you can see the sides of
houses and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree street-level view for
certain neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these satellite map
Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The
Internet is a very effective research and marketing tool for real
estate investors but is not a replacement for a knowledgeable
experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you time and
money by enabling quick and easy property research and marketing
options. Sites like AgentWorld.com also help you efficiently find a
REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember,
when it comes to Internet strategies for real estate: More knowledge is
better. You need to use the Internet to build your knowledge base on a
target property or to find a real estate agent with expertise you need.
However, the big caution here is that the Internet should not replace
human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due
diligence-keys to successful investing.

Real Estate Ownership – Condominium or Fee Simple

There is a common perception of condos as being apartment style buildings, of townhouses as two-story row homes with adjoining walls, and of garden homes as free standing houses on small lots. Unfortunately, this perception creates some confusion about real estate ownership . Apartment, townhouse and garden home describe the construction layout and design of certain homes. The word, condominium, should not be used in this context.

Condominium does not refer to a type of building or construction design. It refers to a form of ownership of real estate. Condos cannot be recognized by observing the building style.

Condominium Ownership

In a condominium, the owner has individual title to the inside space of his unit. Sometimes the space is described as beginning with the paint on the walls. The unit owners also have an undivided interest in the physical components of the buildings and land. The legal definition of condominium is: The absolute ownership of a unit based on a legal description of the airspace the unit actually occupies, plus an undivided interest in the ownership of the common elements, which are owned jointly with the other condominium unit owners.

Condo projects that are built as multi story apartments are usually recognizable as condos because they don’t have land under each unit. In these developments, the condominium association normally maintains the exterior of the building and common grounds, but not the interiors of the units. An insurance policy is usually held by the association to cover the jointly owned parts of the property, while the individual owners carry insurance for the interior components of their unit. The owners pay a fee to support the maintenance of the common areas. A condo association is formed to make decisions about the expenditures for repairs and handle administrative work to manage the common areas of the project.

While some condo projects look like lofts or apartments, others may look like duplexes, townhomes, garden homes or residences on regular lots. Generally, creating a condo regime allows the developer to get more density approved than he would if he had done single ownership lots. This is usually the reason why the condo regime is chosen over the single ownership of lots. It is possible that a condominium may just be two units of a duplex. In this case the two owners may jointly make decisions concerning maintenance of any common areas. By setting up the units of a duplex as two condos, the owner is able to sell them separately to two different owners.

Know the Rules in Condo Ownership

If you are considering purchasing a condo, it is very important to read the condo documents carefully. The rules of each condominium are specific to the development, so no assumptions should be made about their requirements. The condo documents specify what maintenance is covered by the common budget. In one case, the association may handle all exterior components, decks, pools, sidewalks, driveways, etc. In another, the documents may require that the individual owners be responsible for complete maintenance of their units, including foundations, roofs and exterior walls.

After reading your condo documents carefully, you may have questions about the division of work between the individual owners and common budget administered by the condo association. Your best option is to present your question to the condo board itself. The board can clarify how the issue has been handled in the past, or give you their interpretation of the rules. Another course of action is to ask a real estate attorney to review the documents for you. Other homeowners, Realtors or maintenance workers are not reliable or appropriate sources for the interpretation of condo documents.

The Texas purchase contract for condominiums has a provision that the buyer be given a copy of the condo documents, with a certain period of time to review them. The buyer may decline the contract with no penalty during the document review period. A resale certificate is also required to be signed by the association president or manager. This form answers questions about current budgets, special assessments, insurance, lawsuits and other matters that affect the association.

Fee Simple Ownership

In contrast to the condominium regime, you may own real estate by fee simple. Fee (from the old word, fiefdom) refers to legal rights in land, and simple means unconstrained. Fee simple ownership is the absolute and unqualified legal title to real property, including both buildings and land. This is the most commonly used type of ownership.

Know the Rules in Fee Simple Ownership

In a fee simple type of ownership, there are several possibilities with respect to the obligations of ownership:

(1) The property may not be in a subdivision at all. In this case, there will be no subdivision restrictions attached to your deed that affect your use of the property. Keep in mind that you may still be governed by city or county ordinances or zoning laws, and there may be in existence previous deed restrictions limiting your use of the property.

(2) You may be a part of a subdivision that has very minimal restrictions, no common areas, no architectural control committee and no mandatory dues. Usually these are older subdivisions.

(3) You may be in a townhome project, a garden home community, or a subdivision of homes on larger lots in which there is a legally created homeowners association. If so, each homeowner is required to be a member of the association. Many associations charge mandatory dues. The association may require a certain level of maintenance by each property owner and enforce subdivision rules. For example, you may need association approval of paint colors, fences or home remodeling.

As in the condominium form of ownership, fee simple ownership does not prescribe how developments are governed, or how maintenance is handled. For example, a townhome project, with fee simple ownership, may require the owners to fully maintain their units. Or, the townhome association may handle exterior maintenance and yard work for the owners. In subdivisions with single family homes on larger lots, it is more common for the homeowners association to manage only entrances, common grounds, parks and pools, while the individual owners maintain their own properties.

Understand Your Real Estate Ownership

Whether you are buying into a condominium regime or purchasing a fee simple property, you should have a clear understanding of the type of ownership you will have in your property.

If you are buying a condominium, you should read the condo documents carefully to understand how maintenance is divided between individual owners and the common budget.

If you are buying a fee simple property, with individual ownership of the land, you should read the deed restrictions (if any) to understand the rules that apply to your property. In fee simple ownership, there may be mandatory dues to pay for common area maintenance, or, in some cases, the dues may pay for partial maintenance of the individual properties.
If you are not clear about your ownership of a property, or have a question about your obligations as a homeowner, it would be wise to review the title documents with a real estate attorney before proceeding with your purchase. Don’t hesitate to ask questions! A clear understanding of your ownership and obligations leads to a more satisfying home purchase.

——————– Roselind Hejl, CRS, is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United in Austin, Texas. Her website: Austin Texas Real Estate Guide offers homes for sale, search MLS, buyer and seller guides. “Let Roselind help you make your move to Austin.”

Beyond Sight and Sound

In the 2005 best seller Brand Sense, author Martin Lindstrom says that as much as 83% of all marketing communication is limited to sight and sound. In the real estate business most of the marketing communication is done by sight. Ads placed in local newspapers, the MLS, and post cards announcing open houses etc

However, the most important marketing communication happens when prospective buyer crosses the threshold of a house.

This is very similar to the experience a shopper has when entering a store for the first time. It is at that point, that first impression, where you must use emotions as the media for your message.

The more senses you appeal to, the more dramatic the emotional response will be. I am not talking here of the old trick of baking cookies to get that smell throughout the house. Everyone likes it, but they know the trick so now, it appeals to their logic versus their emotion. But what if you had a fresh basket of lavender at the front door just as they came in? For some reason, which they can’t even articulate, they feel welcome. It might give them a cozy feeling of when they were a child going to their grandmothers home (because we all remember the lavender sachets grandma had in her drawer). It feels right and it completely appeals to their senses, not their logic.

When staging a home for a retail sale, it is vital to appeal to as many senses as possible. For that reason I use a variety of what I refer to as “Pockets of Emotion” throughout the house. These are those moments in a home that surprise you and make you laugh, give you pause while enjoying a fond memory, or appeal to your senses on such a high level that often times, you can’t even describe why it feels so good-it just does. I strategically place these “Pockets of Emotion” to suggest that “yes this is a perfect child’s room, because my child is playing right now” or “this is a great kitchen for our family holiday baking projects”. These Pockets of Emotion are designed to truly engage all the senses, not just the sense of sight.

In addition I use the sense of hearing when ever possible. If the home is in a high traffic zone, I may have light music playing in the background to take the focus away from the outside noise. Another great sense of sound is a fountain bubbling and birds chirping (and yes, I know how to make that happen at just the right moment!).

When I stage a house, you will find that I use not merely the senses of sight, smell, and hearing but of touch as well. I love having people touch something as the feeling stays in their fingers then entire time they enjoy the home. It is also a great reason to have them remove their shoes, if you have really wonderful carpet, so they can feel it on their toes. I also use interesting and textured fabrics to draw people into a room. It is so interesting to watch people as they are drawn into a room and encouraged to reach out and touch a window treatment or pick up a pillow. It helps them to fall in love with the property and feel as though they are home.

As for the sense of taste, I have found it is always a good idea to put a tasty surprise where prospective buyers are sure to find it. I often will put a bowl of big beautiful apples in the refrigerator, so it’s a surprise when they open it-with a sign that says “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away-enjoy!” or even seasonal cookies or candy inside an intriguing container that it is so attractive you can’t help but take the lid off.

Remember the more senses you engage, the more emotional the response will be and because of that response the more memorable the experience. Your ability to reach a buyer with a truly memorable experience can be summed up in one word: “Unforgettable”

Often in the blink of an eye, a prospective buyer will a sense whether the environment they have just entered is authentic or not. They will be able to get “feel” if the property is right or wrong. It is my job to make sure that it always feels right and to give them the opportunity to fall in love with their new home, on the spot. When they fall in love-we know the house is sold.

Prepare Your Arsenal

No one gets involved in the business of real estate thinking that they would like to lose money. Of course not. But if you dont have an effective marketing plan in place that is exactly what you may be doing. At the very least, if you dont have any effective strategies to employ you are minimizing the profit that you could be making. And the goal is to maximize your profit right? No matter what your exit strategy is, you need a plan that includes some top notch selling strategies.

When it comes to getting top dollar for your property you need an arsenal of tricks and techniques at your disposal. Before you even begin to advertise your property, you must begin the marketing. This starts with home staging, or scene designing. Know your market. I cannot stress this enough. If you are aiming your staging and marketing efforts at the wrong target market, you are wasting your time and money. Research the neighborhood, determine who lives there, and who would want to live there. Market to that group and forget the rest.

Once you have your property effectively staged to the appropriate target market, you are ready to begin the rest of your marketing campaign. Of course you should utilize the traditional advertising methods such as the MLS, lawn signs and internet listings, but dont make the mistake of limiting yourself. You need to take the initiative to attract the right people to your property. host events at the property that will appeal to buyers or renters or offer move in incentives such as gift certificates to local businesses.

Dont forget your overall marketing plan. When you have potential buyers or renters visit your property, collect their information for follow up. If you let people leave the property without collecting their contact information, you are letting one of your most powerful marketing tools walk away. Ask what they are looking for, in what neighborhood, you may have another property that will appeal to them. And dont forget about who they know. Offer a cash bonus if they can refer any potential buyers to your property. Word of mouth advertising is very effective.

An effective marketing plan complete with selling strategies are key to success in real estate no matter what your exit strategy is. It is no longer enough to put a sign on the front lawn and wait for buyers to walk through the door. Creating an arsenal of strategies, tips, tricks and techniques guarantees you real estate success.

Ottawa Neighborhood Tips When Purchasing Real Estate For Investment

It is important for you to investigate the city neighborhoods when you have made up your mind to invest in a property. Ask yourself this question: ‘Will investing in a swanky neighborhood be cost-effective as a form of investment?’ Generally homes in an expensive part of town will cost too much and are not worth your money. While you may be able to find rare gems and bargains once in a while, it is safer to purchase a home in a less classy Ottawa neighborhood.

At the same time, you should not focus on real estate in a low class neighborhood either. Some homeowners don’t take proper care of their property in these areas. Not only are the properties more difficult to rent, it may also be challenging to sell them in the future.

Be cautious of communities where there are too many homes for sale. There could be an underlying reason for this situation. Perhaps everyone is leaving the town for greener pastures elsewhere since they do not feel safe living there any longer. You do not want to come in and take over such a property.

Visit the local police to ask for crime statistics of the neighborhood to determine if it is a safe place to reside. If you take a look at the multiple listing service or MLS, you can also assess recent property sales in the area. Make an appointment with a real estate evaluator to check for the price averages in recent years and ask if that neighborhood is a good place to invest in property.

Network with fellow real estate investors and get a feel for the value of certain neighborhoods. Ask for recent trends of a given Ottawa area and find out its future potential value.

Overall, you need to look for gems in Ottawa neighborhoods that are not too luxurious but at the same time are not low-value areas. If an area appeals to you, evaluate its market value as a community and start looking for a property. Remember, the better the area, the better your chances are for landing a great investment deal.

How to Be Successful in Real Estate – 5 Ways to Market Intelligently

So you want to sell your home, without going crazy? Hopefully this information will get an offer or two in your hand. To start, I am going to give realtors a plug here. I am a licensed Realtor, and builder in the State of Michigan. I would always recommend that you use a Realtor when selling your home. Without going into too much detail, here are a few good reasons to use a licensed realtor. You have thousands of real estate professionals trying to sell your home for you instead of one person. Due to their access to qualified buyers, you will probably net the same amount of money from your home (after commissions) but sell it much quicker. They have access to the MLS which is an invaluable tool when it comes to moving property. They are also aware of all of the disclosures, and legal issues involved with each one.

With that disclosure out of the way for this article, I am going to assume that you are taking on the task of selling by owner. Let me also preface this with a known fact. Houses don’t sell for one of two reasons or sometimes both. Either it’s priced wrong, or it’s not getting enough exposure. So let’s take care of first things first. Before you even think about marketing, you have to price your home at or below market value. The best way of doing this is not to walk down the street and grab a few brochures from your neighbors and price your house accordingly. Hypothetical pricing models do not determine market value. Homes that have actually sold determine market value. How can you find out that information? Simple, ask a realtor. Find a reputable realtor in the area. Tell them that what you are planning to do. Be upfront with them. Tell them that you are planning on selling the home yourself and that when that happens, you will come back to them to purchase your next home. Sign a buyer’s agent contract to put them at ease. They will quickly and happily give you a Brokers Price Opinion. The best part is that it will cost you nothing. The only one that pays real estate fees is the seller.

Now if you really want them to give you the honest market value of your home, don’t tell them the magic number that you have in your head for what you think your home is worth. They might be hesitant to give you an accurate price point so as not to offend you. Bring the realtor to the property, and give them the specs on it, such as age, bedrooms, baths and such. Then give them the ball, and let them run with it, and bring it back to you with a nice neat price tag on it.

Remember pesky reason number two why a house doesn’t sell? Not enough exposure. Now that you have the right price, let’s make sure that people are going to see that price. Let’s market your home. Where do we start?

1. Start with a sign. Make it simple. Announce that it is for sale, and put your number on it, and put out a brochure box with full colored brochures. By the way, if have a title company in mind that you would like to close with, call them up and let them know, and they will create, and print your brochures for pennies. Now this part is very important. We live in a fast paced society, where efficiency is a must. Buyers are internet savvy. 85% of them start looking for a house on the internet. So what do you need to do to capture those buyers?

2. Get your house on the internet. Create a single property website for your house. It will cost around $100. Make sure that when you have your professional yard sign made, remember to have the website printed on the sign. For example: http://www.1617NilesAve.com Usually these websites get weekly syndication. This will help you reach more buyers. Also, these type of websites usually have lead capture systems, so that you can track how many people have visited the site, and they can contact you hassle free through e-mail to ask questions or set up a showing.

3. Have open houses, and advertise it in the local newspaper. When you are putting your add together, make it short and to the point. List beds, baths, address, price, square feet, phone number, a photo and the website that you have created. Yes you will get a lot of nosy neighbors, but you will also get some genuine interest. Have one every 3 months or so. Make sure that when you advertise in the newspaper, that your home has an online presence as well. (on their website) That will also attract visitors to your personal property website. Sometimes you have to request it.

4. Put your home on Craigslist. It is the largest classified website in the world, and lots of buyers start looking there. And it’s free!

5. If you are part of a social networking site like facebook or my-space, make sure that all of your family and friends know that you are trying to sell. Most likely they will help spread the word. Post a link to your single property website.

That’s all there is to it. Follow these simple marketing techniques, and you will be one step closer to getting your home sold.

For any additional information, please refer to our marketing plan on our website: http://www.MichiganLakeHomes.net

Ryan D. Green is a licensed Real Estate agent in the State of Michigan. http://www.MichiganLakeHomes.net http://southwestmichiganrealestate.blogspot.com/