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20 Steps to Curb Appeal

by Colleen Lawler

     There is nothing worse than pulling into a driveway with qualified buyers, only to have them refuse to get out of the car because they don't like the house!  People sure do judge a book by it's cover!  

     On occasion, I've been able to cajole buyers into a house over their protests.  Usually, I set the rules of the game before we even get in the car..."I made an appointment, these sellers prepared for your showing and vacated their house, so we WILL look at it, even if it's just our of courtesy for their efforts."  

     Most agents are unarmed when they are showing property, so they can't force someone at gunpoint to look at a house when the outside is not attractive!  First impressions are really important!

 So, if you are getting your home ready for the market, start by standing out in front of your home...What's more appealing...this?

or maybe this?

(sometime soon I'll talk about the importance of good photography, and how framing a front shot so that more than half of the picture is NOT of the pavement in front of the house is probably a good idea.  But, I digress...)

So, here are some quick and easy guidelines, rules, regulations,decrees, or ultimatums, ...for staging the exterior of your home.

1.  Shrubs and landscaping should ENHANCE, not hide, the home! 

2.  Tree limbs should be far enough from the ground that you can walk under them without putting your eye out!

3.  Flowerbeds should be clean and look good in ALL seasons, with a sharp edge, free of leaves and debris.  

4.  The lawn should be mowed and neatly edged.

5.  Overseed any bare or thin spots in your lawn.

6. Arrange for a lawn company to keep your lawn deep green and weed free.

7.  Mulch...mulch...mulch...no matter the season

8.  Remove all trash cans, scraps, and trash.  Restack wood piles, and remove all storage containers, children's toys, and any other unnecessary objects.

9.  Make all windows spotless.  This includes frames around the windows, sills and shutters.

10.  Paint or clean ornamental fences, light posts, and railings.

11.  Clean all outside light fixtures inside and out.

12.  Open up and clear any pathways to other amenities on your property, including trimming low hanging branches.

13.  Repair cracks in the driveway and sidewalks.  Caulk is your friend...

14.  Clean gutters and paint or wash trim if necessary.

15.  Consider an exterior power washing.

16.  If you think your front door could use a coat of paint, you are right!  At the very least, clean the door and hardware.  Make sure your doorbell works and that it is not cracked or broken.

17.  Keep your front porch swept.

18.  Have an attractive welcome mat for people to wipe their feet on.

19.   Make sure the mailbox is clean and rust free.

20.  If  you have outdoor furniture, make sure it is clean and inviting, and someplace someone would actually like to sit!

I know that this list seems long and maybe even the work of someone with a severe case of OCD.  The fact is that when sellers take the time and trouble to tackle this list, their homes sell quickly, and usually for the highest price possible.  And in my experience, the entire transaction goes smoothly.  

I'll give you some time to get this done, and next time we'll work on general inside appeal!  Have fun!

Who Says There is Nothing to Do This Weekend in St Louis!

by Colleen Lawler

Time to start making some plans for the weekend!!  

Here is just a sampling of a few things you may want to check out! 

·         Gently Used Coats and Canned Food Collection at “Play Your Art Out” SLTRC Studio at 100 Chesterfield Mall  http://chesterfield.patch.com/events/gently-used-coats-and-can-food-collection

·         St. Louis Blues Hockey GameSaturday, January 21, 2012   St. Louis Blues vs. Buffalo Sabres. 7:00 p.m. www.stlouisblues.com, (800) 745-3000 or (314) 622-5400

·         The Brothers: An Evening of Allman Brothers Music Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012 Venue: The Pageant   Featuring Danny Liston, Dave Klaz, Steve Pecaro, Dickie Steltenpohl, Harold Draper, Gabe Strange & Mark Kersten. 8:00 p.m. www.thepageant.com, (800) 745-3000

·         Winter Jam 2012Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012 Venue: The Family Arena   www.familyarena.com, (636) 896-4200 ·        FAMILY CULTURE DAYS
St. Charles, MO Sunday, January 22, 2012
Foundry Art Center, 520 N. Main Street
Experience displays by artists demonstrating fine art & traditional ethnic folk art. Art activities for children, ethnic food, and more..
Free
For more information call 636-255-0270
  or visit foundryartcentre.org.

·         EAGLE WATCHING·         , Saturday, January 21, 2012
11 am - 2 pm
Fort Belle Fontaine Park
Spend a day with the Friends of Fort Belle Fontaine Park observing the bald eagles along the Missouri River. The World Bird Sanctuary will be on site from noon until 2 pm. A guided hike will be provided along the three-mile trail. Hikers and bikers are welcome to take the trek on their own throughout the day. Refreshments will be served. Be sure to dress for the weather and meet at the Grand Staircase.
Free
For more information call 314-615-5270 ·         January 22, 2012
12 pm to 4 pm
National Great Rivers Museum
An educator from the World Bird Sanctuary will be on hand with a live eagle display in the classroom. Bring your camera to this free program and then tour the National Great Rivers Museum and the Locks and Dam.
Free, donations appreciated
For more information call 1-877-462-6979

A Tale of Two Homes

by Mark Scheller

 

 “A Tale of Two Homes”

This is an accurate Tale of two nearly identical homes on a St. Louis street called Country Ridge Dr. As fate has it four years ago these two competing homes were for sale at the same time. 

 

One was occupied, in above average condition, had a motivated seller, and was for sale for $219,900.  These highly motivated owners had only 1 house showing in the 2 weeks prior to WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.

 

Next, the home directly across the street came on the market.  It was the same floor plan, same age, same builder, was in a below average condition, and it was a FORECLOSURE.  The sign went in the yard on a Wednesday with “no showings until Saturday”.  The Bank advertised a price at $199,900 because the home needed extensive repairs and it had a shaky Title situation.

 

That Foreclosure house had 14 showings on Saturday and there were 9 offers the first day…including one from my customer.  By 5:00pm Monday those 9 customers had competed with each other, like wolves over a hunt, with the winning contract being a whopping $216,500.

 

A month later the occupied house, right across the street, in above average condition sold for $207,500.  A full $9,000 below the piece of junk foreclosure sale.

 

REALLY folks?  Is this what we have come to?  Can we be that myopic to compete with each other over an inferior product, overpay for junk, and just to win the trophy over others?   Does there have to be COMPETITION to get our attention?  A former start-up called E-Bay learned years ago, the premise that if we compete for junk, and win, somehow we are satisfied.

 

In 2012 Real-Estate, nearly half of home shoppers will be so focused on the foreclosure and bank-owned junk that the good homes with motivated sellers will be invisible to them.  Hey, I know it’s tempting to find a foreclosure, make a low offer, and try to steal something.  We can even tell our parents and friends what we did and perhaps demonstrate our shrewdness as a person to be taken seriously. Right?

 

If you’re not mindful of your motivations you could get swept away by an investor mentality of buying a foreclosure piece of junk for a very low PRICE.  Sadly, in the long term you may realize your completed Cost was so high that your Trophy gets tarnished beyond recognition. 

 

Hey all, I see this all the time. Even if the buyer gets a healthy 10%-25% discount on a foreclosure.  It is seldom worth it.   That up front PRICE advantage disappears into an escalated COST, expensive cash repairs, a 3-month root canal of unexpected charges, and often a home that is difficult to resell.

 

My advice to the Savvy real-estate buyer of 2012 is ….KEEP AT LEAST ONE EYE on the traditional homes with many updates, stable foundations, healthy Title’s, and motivated sellers.  You may find your best matches there. 

 

 

Announcing the Newest Member of our Team

by Colleen Lawler

I am thrilled to announce that Mark Scheller has joined our team as a buyer specialist.  Mark brings years of sales experience, an engineering backround, and a wonderful reputation as a real estate expert to our team.   

Our buyer specialists are able to devote 100% of their time to helping buyers in the St Louis market find the home that is right for them.  They have a wealth of experience and resources to save buyers time and money as they make one of the biggest investments of their lives.

Mark brings expertise in everything from foundation defects and repairs to raw land, and focuses on helping buyers assess the the quality of what they are buying and the quality of the investment they are making.  He has closed over 1,000 sales, and has earned the respect of his peers and his clients alike. 

Mark will be blogging about his impressions, thoughts and musings on the buyer side of the real estate world, and I think you'll enjoy his point of view!

I've covered the official announcement, now let me tell you a little about Mark...he's a huge overachiever with an amazing brain and a big heart.  He's married, and has 2 great kids.  He works hard and has his priorities right.  I think you are going to like him!

 

 

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Contact Information

Photo of Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam Real Estate
Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
111 Chesterfield Towne Centre
Chesterfield MO 63005
Office: 636-391-2100
Toll Free: 800-791-3276
Fax: 636-536-3018