Linda Raymond Real Estate Blog, Fairfield, Westport & More

Fairfield & Westport living- homes, fun stuff & more!


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What Makes Your Home Showroom Ready?

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Buyers’ first impressions happen within seconds of seeing a home.  After one glance from the street, a buyer may decide not to even go in!   So staging starts at the curb and continues throughout the house.  Staging is a marketing tool focused on the buyer.   Its goal is to attract the most buyers online and create an emotional connection for them once they are inside. Think about how you would have your car washed and detailed so that it looks showroom ready before trying to sell it.  Staging is a similar approach, but the goal is to appear better than new!   The house not only sparkles and shines, its assets are highlighted, its best use of space is demonstrated, disadvantages are downplayed and then the senses are tapped to maximize the home’s allure. Key elements of staging:

  • Eliminate clutter to create clean visual lines and show off the space.
  • Frame and showcase the home’s assets such as a fireplace or great view.
  • Downplay shortcomings of a home such as an undesirable view, tight space or low light.
  • Enable buyers to envision themselves living in the home by removing all distractions. The buyer should not know anything about the seller’s personal preferences in extreme color, art, decorating, religion, race, sexual and political orientation, hobbies, etc.   These factors are very distracting to a buyer, irrelevant to the sale and should not be seen.
  • Every inch is cleaned to sparkle and smell like new.  Strong odors from cooking, pets, smoking, mildew and general lack of cleanliness will instantly turn buyers away.
  • Appeal to the emotional power in our sense of smell, and simmer spiced cider on the stove, burn a scented candle or brew fresh coffee.
  • Play soft pleasant music in the background to further suggest an inviting home.
  • Let the sun shine in all the windows and the lights glow for the brightest space.
  • Overall, create a neutral but charming and welcoming space.

Your Realtor may recommend a professional staging company or just a few staging tips that he or she can help you with depending on the size of your home and how much work is needed to achieve your desired outcome.   Either way, launching a staging strategy for your buyers and pricing your house to sell will get you the edge on your competition, reduce the cost of a potential price reduction and extra months on the market and get you the best possible outcome from your sale. I’m happy to talk with you about staging resources and tips and your moving plans!


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How’s the Winter 2014 Real Estate Market Fairfield in County CT?

We sure have been hit hard with winter extremes since the New Year with everything from sub-zero temperatures to multiple blizzards and some freezing rain mixed in for good measure! No doubt the weather has been keeping our spring real estate market at bay, but how did sales look in our neighborhood markets in January after the holidays?
Let’s take a look at a few measures across three towns, and see how they relate to last year. Comparing the number of homes on the market, total sales and the average market time in January, we see some promising numbers.  View or print charts here.
 
In Weston, Westport and Fairfield inventory of homes for sale was up between nine and twenty-two percent suggesting stronger seller confidence in the market this year.   Sales in fact, were way up in Weston (50%) and Fairfield (42%) compared to January 2013. Westport sales were down twenty-two percent, but there had been a big spike in the December sales.  The average days on market was way down (-40%) in Westport, though up a bit in Weston and Fairfield (5% and 12% respectively).
 
Overall, the increased inventory and sales in addition to average market time as low as 80 days in Westport, suggest to me that there is pent up demand on both the buy and sell sides of the market.   It would be great to see the market jump up to the pace noted in my post from last June.   I expect to see a flurry of activity in the housing market instead of snow as soon as Mother Nature decides to get the weather under control!
 
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Cash is King- But So Is Excellent Credit!

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Sharing her wisdom as a guest speaker at our sales meeting this month was Tracy A. Becker, President of NorthShoreAdvisory, a Credit Education & Restoration Company.  This company is one of the very reputable firms out there to help us understand the credit mysteries and improve our scores.  Tracy is a Certified FICO Professional, author of two books on credit and is the “Credit Expert” on the Eye on Real Estate radio show on WOR AM.

She began the meeting by announcing that, “If your credit score is not 740 or higher, it is not excellent and you should call me.”  I was thinking, what’s wrong with Very Good, Impressive, or Decent?   Anything short of excellent is no good these days?  Apparently it best be excellent or you can potentially lose thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on a mortgage with higher interest rates.  Some sources even say that insurance premiums are linked to credit scores.

We all know that we should pay our bills on time, but there is a lot more that most of us are unaware of that impacts our credit score.

Here are the top 5 tips from Tracy that I was surprised to learn,

1. “Seasoned” credit (over 2 years old) is excellent for your scores, and the older the better.  So don’t go closing your old credit card accounts!
2. A variety of credit is good for your score such as credit cards, auto loans, student loans and a mortgage.
3. Your credit can be pulled by third parties up to 5 times in a 12-month period with little impact to your score, but beyond this, your score can drop 30-40 points.  You can pull your own credit score as often as you wish with no negative consequences.
4. A new late payment can drop your score over 100 points.
5. The higher your FICO score, the bigger the hit your score will take if new negative information is added.

If you are getting ready to apply for a mortgage or other financing in the near future, Tracy says to go to Credit.com and pay to get your FICO score.  If it’s below 740, her company may be able to help save you big bucks!  She gives free consultations by phone to determine whether her company can effectively help you, and there is no charge unless you hire her.

To receive pdf via email of Tracy’s expanded list of “Tips on Credit” send a request below.