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Selling Your Vacant House

by The Jana Caudill Team

Surveys show Crown Point, St. John, and Munster home buyers can more easily picture moving themselves and their belongings into a home they’re viewing if it is still furnished rather than if it’s vacant.  Kind of makes sense doesn’t it?  It’s all about first impressions and the subconscious.  People tend to relate easier to homes that show a little life.  Our subconscious tells us vacant homes are empty, and too cold or too hot.  They bring our focus to what’s wrong with a house, like a threadbare carpet, dirty walls, or even an overgrown front lawn because there’s nothing else to ply our attention and stir our imagination.  But sometimes we’re forced by new employment or other factors outside our control to relocate to a new home before the old one is sold.  Never fear.  Here are some tips to keep in mind for staging and selling your vacant house that will help buyers imagine making your old house their new home.

  1. The view from the curb.  Keep your lawn mowed and yard manicured.  Shovel snow in the winter.  Keep newspapers from piling up on the front stoop.  If you live close to the vacant house this is as easy as stopping by regularly.  If you’re new home is too far away, prohibiting you from taking care of this yourself you will have to enlist a close friend or family member, your Realtor, or some other property service manager to keep the property’s exterior fresh and inviting.
  2. Furniture staging.  It’s easier for someone to picture their belongings in a space that provides a sample layout.  A couch along this wall just like theirs; the entertainment center would go over there; our dining room table isn’t even this big, ours would fit easily; look here, they were able to put a pair of bunk beds in this bedroom.  We could move…  Get the picture?  If you have to move everything out to furnish your new home hire a staging company to bring some furniture in to help buyers imagine where their stuff will go when they move in.
  3. Utilities.  Put lights on a timer, especially during the winter.  This also helps deter break-ins.  Program your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.  You don’t want buyers to be uncomfortably hot in the summer, or cold in the winter.  That’s a lasting negative impression often too difficult to shake.  And be sure to winterize the home properly if necessary.  The last thing you want for a buyer’s first impression is flooding in the kitchen and basement.

Here are more great tips on selling your vacant home.

Showing Your Home When You Own Pets

by The Jana Caudill Team

You love your pets.  Your neighbors love their pets.  That doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbors love your pets.  The same goes for prospective buyers considering making your home their new home.

When it comes to pets and show shape for your home here’s a simple rule of thumb: Less is better, none is best.  We’re talking about the evidence!  A best case scenario would be to have your pooch or kitty stay with a neighbor, friend or relative during showings.  Be sure all food and water bowls are picked up and put away.  The same goes for toys, kennels, cat boxes, etc.  Get them in the garage or outside on the side of the house.  Pictures of you and the family pet?  Take them off walls and desks and put them in dresser drawers.  Then vacuum!  Try to minimalize or eliminate any evidence that there are pets sharing your home.  Extreme?  Maybe.  Just remember this doesn’t mean you don’t love your furry friends.  All you are doing is removing any hesitation that might come up for a homebuyer upon discovering there is a German Shepherd living in the room where they envision putting their baby nursery.

It’s not always feasible to completely eradicate all signs of pets.  Sure you can pick up, put away, clean, vacuum and even shampoo carpets.  But what about the animals themselves?  If you don’t have another loving home where Fido can take a vacation while your home is on the market, think adventure!  Whether it’s you, a neighborhood teenager you trust, or the stay at home Mom or Pop next door, have someone available to step in at a moment’s notice and take your pets out of your house, either for a walk or just a short visit, so buyers can focus on your home and not on your pets.

Privacy for the Cat Box

by The Jana Caudill Team

Maybe your family is growing, or one day you woke up to discover you and your spouse are empty nesters.  Either way, you’ve decided the time is right to put the house on the market.  There’s just one problem, the distress caused by all the hubbub and showings to potential buyers at all hours of the day hasn’t gone unnoticed by the family cat who is suddenly doing his business everywhere but in the box.  To make sure your feline cooperates with keeping the house clean you’ll need an out of the box solution.  You don’t have to look much further than an old real estate maxim: Location, location, location.

Be sure to move the cat box to a nice private area of the home.  Cats like to be alone when nature calls, that’s why it’s important to keep the litter box out of high traffic areas.  You will want to continue prohibiting the family dog from having free access hovering about the box as well.  The key is putting the litter box in a location where it’s neither the very first thing buyers see when entering your home, nor the very last thing they see before they leave.  Negative first and last impressions are difficult to overcome when accompanied by unpleasant odors.  If you keep this in mind you’re likely to place the box where the kitty will be happier as well.

Place an old area rug or carpet remnant under the box.  Cats love to dig and scratch around the litter box; tile, hardwood, or basement cement floors aren’t the best choice.  The texture of a rug under paw makes the litter box that much more attractive to the cat, likely helping you to reaffirm that as the place to go when it comes to doing his duty.  Likewise, you can place a few sheets of aluminum foil in areas where kitty may have had recent accidents.  As much as cats love the feel of a rug under their paws, they hate the feel of aluminum foil.  Hide the foil before showings, and return it to problem spots afterwards until kitty becomes retrained to the new box location.

Click here for more dos and don’ts on retraining your cat to his litter box, and check out our blog page for more tips for home buyers and sellers.

The Great American Garage

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here are three quick tips for freeing up space in your garage:

  1. Bicycle Racks.  Whether you have a lawn mower or a snow blower (or both) everyone has large, heavy equipment of some sort taking up valuable floor space in the garage.  Bicycles take up a good amount of space as well, but they are much lighter.  Install one of a variety of bicycle racks in your garage to get them up, off the ground, and out of the way.
  2. Clear Storage Bins.  Used cardboard boxes have always been a staple of garage and basement storage.  But even when the most detailed of us labels each box with its contents often it is still difficult to find what we’re looking for when the boxes are stored up high on shelves, in lofts, or up in the attic.  Try using clear bins for storage.  Multiple bins are all of uniform size and easy to stack, AND you’ll make locating that last box of holiday decorations easier because you are able to see the contents of each bin right through the clear plastic.
  3. Go vertical!  Use the ceiling of your garage to help maximize space for storage.  There are many companies who sell motorized lifts for the lifting and storage of, among other things, bicycles.  If that’s a little pricey for your taste what about adding ceiling or wall mounted shelving units to get boxes and bins up, up, and away?

Come back and visit our blog for more great tips for home buyers, home sellers, do-it-yourselfers and more!

Doggie Doors and Cat Boxes

by The Jana Caudill Team

We love our pets.  Too bad they can’t clean up after themselves like the kids.  Unfortunately doing the dirty work for our furry friends has never been pleasant activity.  If it was we would all have a scoop or a shovel in our hands, right?  And when our pets get older, well, they simply have less control and need to go more often.  Whether you’re taking care of it yourself, or it’s a part of your children’s chore list, it’s a necessary job that becomes critical if you’re selling your home.

There’s a distinction right there I’d like to emphasize.  There is a difference between selling your home and merely showing your home.  You may be priced right for the market, have more amenities than any other home for sale in your neighborhood, and be in the best area for schools in town.  But if you’re not committed to the daily grind necessary to keep your home in showing condition none of that may matter.  If you’re not willing to do what it takes to make sure your home stands out in a very crowded marketplace you are not going to sell.  You are merely showing your home, and providing to buyers by negative comparison more reason to make an offer on something else.  Buyers are comparing you to homes that are maintained daily in the best show-shape condition possible.

Which brings us back to cat boxes boxes and doggie doors.  Keep those cat boxes raked every day, twice a day if necessary.  Doggie doors are a great way to allow Rover to hit the back yard when nature calls without you having to be there to let him out and five minutes later let him back in.  The problem is they also allow your dog to track mud or worse into the house.  Keep the back yard, or the dog run, or wherever Rover does his business cleaned up.  You may even decide to keep the doggie door locked during inclement weather, reverting to letting your dog out on your own, yes, but also ensuring the opportunity to wipe messy paws before they have a chance to leave tracks.  When visiting your home buyers like to spend some time outside, picturing themselves having a cookout, playing with the kids on the swing set, or kicking around the soccer ball.  Get rid of the source of all odors at your home, inside and out.  That means, if Fido is using the back yard when nature calls you’ll need to put the poop scoop to use often.  We love our pets.  That doesn’t mean everyone else loves our pets.  The best policy is to eliminate as many negative distractions in your home to maximize its chances of selling.

For more tips when buying or selling a home visit our links!

5 Inexpensive Value Adding Repairs

by The Jana Caudill Team

If you’re looking for some inexpensive repairs you can do to your home to add resale value you’re looking in the right place!  All of the entries on this list have reasonable price tags, and some of them won’t cost you anything but a little elbow grease and time to help you effectively stage your home:

  1. Clean up.  That’s right.  Not really a repair, I know, but think about the last time you walked into a home that smelled like the family dog, or had stacks of clutter everywhere you looked.  Let your mantra be “Pick up, put away, get rid of, clean!”  The house will be more presentable, and the rooms will look larger with less in them.  Vacuum then shampoo carpets.  Wash all your windows.  Fall is here with winter just around the corner.  If weather becomes prohibitive focus on the inside, and plan ahead for the outside…
  2. Exterior.  We’re talking curb appeal!  Same thing as above, just outside.  Now that the inside of your home is clean and presentable, don’t turn buyers away with yard clutter, the old broken down lemon in the driveway, or a mailbox slumping sideways on its post.  Tidy up and restore order, both in the front yard and back, before heading into winter.  In the spring and summer don’t let prospective buyers get stuck at the curb by dead grass, weeds, overgrown shrubs, peeling paint.  How about some colorful flowers?  Your mantra here is, “Mow, trim, paint, plant.”  If the entire exterior doesn’t need a paint job, consider painting just window and door trim to freshen things up.
  3. Flooring.  Buyers notice dirty carpets, rough wooden flooring, and chipped tile right away.  Yes, I’ll say it again, shampoo carpets!  Also clean and wax wood floors, and replace damaged tiles.  It may be necessary to completely replace flooring in certain rooms.  Be sure to go with neutral colors if you’re selling in the next few months or planning ahead to do so in the next few years.
  4. Bathroom and Kitchen sink fixtures.  Remodeling bathrooms and kitchens can be cost prohibitive.  Consider replacing leaking or outdated plumbing fixtures with something contemporary.  This is a great inexpensive fix that gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
  5. Let there be light!  Change dim outdated lighting for more fashionable and brighter alternatives.  If painting interiors, going from dark to more neutral colors will make rooms feel larger.  Raise blinds and open curtains to let in more natural light!

Here’s a great resource to get an idea of your return on investment for more costly professional versus do-it-yourself projects.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6