It may not be the grandest room in the house, but the bathroom is one of the most important when it comes to selling your home. Buyers want as many bathrooms as they can afford, and they want them pristine. So, if you’re getting set to host an open house, it’s time to spiff yours up! Here’s exactly what you need to do to get it ready:
Clean everything. You know this already: There’s nothing worse than walking into an open house and finding mildew, scum, hair (or worse) in and around the tub, toilet, and sink. Give your bathroom the kind of deep cleaning you’d usually reserve for when the in-laws visit. Ask yourself, “What would Martha Stewart think?” No rings around the tub, no soap scum on the shower door, no beard clippings in the sink. Use a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle to make mirrors sparkle—it’s an old-school recipe that gets fabulous results (just remember to wipe away streaks with either newspaper or a microfiber towel).
Hide your toiletries. That means toothbrushes, contact lens kits, loose makeup containers, hairspray bottles—anything that could clutter up your countertop goes into the medicine cabinet, under the sink, or wherever it won’t be seen.
Then put out nicer ones.Now is the time to break out those triple-milled imported soaps, or a nice handsoap and lotion duo. Think hotel bathroom.
Jill Comfort, a Phoenix-area Realtor, had a good feeling about the cream-colored stucco house she planned to show her client, a young man relocating to the city from California. It was in his budget, in the right location and had a huge pool and back yard that would allow him to entertain.
It also had multiple surveillance cameras that recorded everything that went on as prospective buyers walked through.
“When we were walking out of the hallway we could see they were following us,” Comfort said. Both agent and client felt “awkward,” she added.
“I can understand where some sellers are leery of strangers walking through their house, but that’s what happens when you put your house on the market,” Comfort said. Her client, she said, was “creeped out.”
As homes become smarter, real estate agents and home buyers are increasingly finding there’s an extra set of eyes and ears on them as they tour properties for sale. In a 21st-century version of the “nanny cam,” Realtors describe everything from old-fashioned security cameras to newer contraptions like Nest thermostats tracking their conversations and actions. The rise of these wired home sellers is raising fresh concerns about privacy, courtesy and legality in a transaction that’s already fraught with emotion and potentially full of pitfalls.
Andie DeFelice is a broker with Savannah-based Exclusive Buyer’s Realty, Inc., and the president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. Last fall, DeFelice took a client to see a home that seemed perfect for his specific needs: it had a detached combination two-car garage and studio with living room, kitchen and full bath — perfect for his grown son.
Shortly after the deal settled and her client had moved in, his new next-door neighbor introduced himself with some unsettling news, saying, as DeFelice put it, “I just want you to know the guy who sold the house knew he had a buyer the minute you walked through.” The neighbor wasn’t making it up: he was able to repeat the conversation client and broker had when they toured the house.
“It’s one of those things where it is the person’s home, they have the right to do whatever — but you feel a little violated,” DeFelice said.
Because the house was one of a very few with the unique feature that the buyer wanted, she added, the seller was right — her client was primed to buy the moment he stepped in the door. And he doesn’t feel that he tipped his hand unknowingly to the camera and then overpaid — although that’s a real risk for other buyers caught commenting during tours. What does rankle DeFelice about the encounter, she said, is that the previous owner referred to him as “the older guy” with a “younger” son when describing the transaction to his neighbor.
Rogers had a similar experience. She was selling the home of a couple who used a Ring Door Bell, now held by Amazon, even when their home was not on the market. Although they had signs about ongoing recording clearly posted — as is the law in Oregon — one buyer and her broker lingered on the porch, discussing the property.
Hearing the way the buyers talked about their property was “unsettling” for the sellers, Rogers said. Even though they were the ones capturing a conversation carried on by someone else,“they felt violated with the people standing on the porch talking about the house.”
It is a common want/need these days for buyers to desire a downstairs bedroom, either for guests, or the multi-gen groups. It is a need that is likely to grow, just because it will take more of grandma’s money to afford a house!
But it’s not always clear if a house has a downstairs bedroom.
How can you tell? Check the number of bathrooms.
Here is my guide for knowing when a listing includes a downstairs bedroom:
Two Bathrooms – YES. Most likely a one-story house, but if it is clearly a two-story, then it must have at least one bedroom down because you won’t have two bathrooms upstairs, and none down.
Two-and-a-Half Bathrooms – NO. In a two-story house, you need two full bathrooms upstairs for parents and kids. The remaining half-bath will be downstairs, which is not suitable for a bedroom.
Three Bathrooms – YES. There has to be one bathroom downstairs, and if it is a full bath, there’s a reason for it – there is a bedroom down too.
More than Three Bathrooms – YES. You are getting into the luxury homes now, and they will have at least one bedroom downstairs.
Yes, this is only a guide, and there could be exceptions. But if a floor plan doesn’t conform to these guidelines, then it is one funky house (like the split-level). You probably won’t like it anyway!
We covered in my four-part series that there is a vicious undercurrent of fraud and deceit being imposed upon buyers and sellers alike, and that drastic action is needed to stop it. But such action is unlikely to happen – at least until the district attorney has a few perp walks to get everybody’s attention.
It means that Brad Inman’s conference needs to come up with a real humdinger of a solution. In the meantime, maybe we can improve on what we have?
I mentioned that traditional agents are reluctant to say anything in public about how they do their business. But now that the disrupters are spending millions on advertising, it’s time we step up to the microphone.
The disrupters’ underlying theme is that traditional agents charge 6%, and they will do the same for less. Here they focus only on saving money on the commission, and never talk about what they actually do to sell your home:
Agents who only talks about their rate, rather than the quality of services they provide, must not have much to offer. Their website has some data though – this is their main page:
We don’t have to look very far to see how trustworthy they are. They say Bethany has ’10 YEARS EXP’, but when you go on the DRE website, this is what you’ll see – she has been licensed since 2016 (you can always get a hint from the license numbers, which are issued sequentially):
I’m sure she is a nice person and means well, but to use her as your front person when she barely has two years experience as a licensee probably means that the other agents have less. Pardon me if I’m skeptical of how ‘intimate’ she, or any of their agents, know their LA/OC territory.
Companies who blatantly lie about the people on their main page will say anything to convince you they are legit. Ask yourself what you are willing to endure – you only have one shot.
Apparently they charge you the $3,200 fee whether they sell your house or not, and they take your credit card number up front.
Rex is another one – they claim to sell your house for 2% by themselves without cooperating with other agents. Here is reality:
You may like their sexy website, but who are the people handling your sale? I have spoken to both current and ex-Redfin agents, and it sounds like a sweat shop – much like our local IPayOne, which failed twice, or Roxtons. They are good people, but the employees are being asked to handle a high volume of business with minimal support.
Sellers should wonder if that will equate to a top-dollar sale.
An ex-Redfin senior agent told me that he quit when upper management insisted that he get ‘five more deals out of every agent’ this year.
Here is what one ex-Redfin senior agent from Florida said last year:
I worked for Redfin for two and a half years. First as a transaction / hybrid coordinator then as a senior agent in the field. The concept is amazing but the reality will drown you. As a licensed broker who has over a decade of experience my base salary was $20,000 after “bonuses” paid (only after a glowing review from the client) my W-2 showed $42,000 income. Keep in mind I closed over $7 million dollars in real estate transactions last year. If you can’t close minimum of 3 transactions in a given month you are promptly let go for poor performance. With no cushion or savings because again top pay was 42k in the year. Your expected to have your schedule open for tours 7 days a week. Ready to meet a new customer not vetted not approved within a 3 hour window. Vacation is offered but is never approved. And in my market we were required to span over 300 Mile radius covering 4 counties. You are paid for each tour but it’s $35 and again you’re expected to drive 3 counties away at no notice just to be stood up. You will need to have knowledge of that area as well. Because your clients will review per tour and they will not appreciate an agent who is not knowledgeable. Please please please if you are considering joining this company be ready to give away all of your commission and time and learn from my experience. I’ve never written a review before but I’m passionate about getting this out there. Don’t believe their hype. Thank you for reading and considering.
How do they handle the critical points of engagement?
Want to see a house? A trainee gets paid $35 to $50 to open the door.
Sellers hoping for top dollar? Trainees do the open houses.
The good agents there make around $3,000 per sale between salary and bonuses, while dealing with outside agents who make substantially more. If you were a great agent, wouldn’t you work somewhere else to make more money selling fewer houses?
Sellers have one chance to hire a great agent to sell their house for top dollar. Every agent can sell your house, and heck, you don’t even need an agent – just stick a sign in the front yard and you’ll get calls.
But houses don’t sell for the same price – there is a 5% to 10% range, depending on who is handling the sale. You’ll hear that the market is hot, and that houses sell themselves – but for how much? Will your agent do everything it takes, AND have the expert salesmanship to get you top dollar?
If not, you are going to feel like a chump for falling for their BS advertising.
There has to be a lot of guesswork on these, so tread carefully. If you want the specific survey for San Diego, it can be found at Remodeling Magazine – they have declared it as too special to be re-produced on the internet. I’ll give an example – an upscale master suite addition would cost $285,000, but only return $150,000. Hat tip to JA for sending this in!
As home prices and mortgage rates rise, more and more homeowners are choosing to stay put and remodel.
Yet, depending on the project, some of the returns are diminishing. Remodeling spending is expected to approach $340 billion in 2018, a 7.5 percent increase over last year, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
“Steady gains in the broader economy, and in home sales and prices, are supporting growing demand for home improvements,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “We expect the remodeling market will also get a boost this year from ongoing restoration efforts in many areas of the country impacted by last year’s record-setting natural disasters.”
More homeowners may be remodeling, but those who do high-end projects are seeing less value in those remodels — that is, the expensive upgrades and additions are paying back less in the resale value of homes, according to an annual cost versus value report from Remodeling magazine.
“It’s not clear if this is a sign of nervousness among real estate pros in the face of a booming housing market or if nationwide affordability concerns are leading pros to question the value of renovations that would make a house even more expensive at resale – particularly with the new tax law regarding the deductibility of mortgage interest and state, local and property taxes,” Craig Webb, editor in chief of Remodeling, wrote in a release.
ZONE 23: Thermal belts of Southern California’s coastal climate
One of the most favored areas in North America for growing subtropical plants, Zone 23 has always been Southern California’s best zone for avocados. Frosts don’t amount to much here, because 85 percent of the time, Pacific Ocean weather dominates; interior air rules only 15 percent of the time. A notorious portion of this 15 percent consists of those days when hot, dry Santa Ana winds blow. Zone 23 lacks either the summer heat or the winter cold necessary to grow pears, most apples, and most peaches. But it enjoys considerably more heat than Zone 24—enough to put the sweetness in ‘Valencia’ oranges, for example—but not enough for ‘Washington’ naval oranges, which are grown farther inland. Temperatures are mild here, but severe winters descend at times. Average lows range from 43 to 48°F (6 to 9°C), while extreme lows average from 34 to 27°F (1 to –3°C).
ZONE 24: Marine influence along the Southern California coast
Stretched along Southern California’s beaches, this climate zone is almost completely dominated by the ocean. Where the beach runs along high cliffs or palisades, Zone 24 extends only to that barrier. But where hills are low or nonexistent, it runs inland several miles.
This zone has a mild marine climate (milder than Northern California’s maritime Zone 17) because south of Point Conception, the Pacific is comparatively warm. The winters are mild, the summers cool, and the air seldom really dry. On many days in spring and early summer, the sun doesn’t break through the high overcast until afternoon. Tender perennials like geraniums and impatiens rarely go out of bloom here; spathiphyllums and pothos become outdoor plants; and tender palms are safe from killing frosts. In this climate, gardens that include such plants as ornamental figs, rubber trees, and scheffleras can become jungles.
We first encountered Jim back in 2010 when we were looking to move from Pismo Beach, CA to to San Diego area. We had been having a difficult time finding (1) finding a realtor and (2) being able to see a home since we were so far away. Then we found Jim. He made the process really easy – he was able to take incredible video tours of the homes and it was as if we were there touring the homes ourselves. once we found homes we really liked, we took a trip to see it in person. One of the things we really liked about Jim was that he was honest with us about the homes and advised us weather a home was a good buy or not. He was not just out to quickly sell us a house just to make a commission. He really cared about ensuring we found the right one. more “
I have followed Jim’s BubbleInfo blog from the early days of the bubble when “real estate could only go up in value” and I knew him to be a straight shooter who would not sugar coat properties nor gloss over their faults.
So when we decided to move back to California after 7 years in the more “
Jim met with us prior to listing – provided guidance on preparation, detailed information and stats regarding local market conditions. He was invaluable for providing contacts for repair and improvements that would provide return on investment. Our combined efforts, strategy and his attentativeness more “
Jim and Donna Klinge are an impressive team. They work extremely well together and back each other up, as well as their clients, along every step of the way. Their expert guidance made a tremendous difference in the experience we had, both buying a new home and selling our previous home of 40 more “
Since Zillow only allows me to write 1 review per real estate transaction, per team of agents we worked with, this is going to be a super long review.Review on Jim Klinge:
Jim Klinge is the quintessential real estate agent, the “broker’s, broker” of real estate agents. My husband and I reached more “
by Louie and Tim Cook
Jim and Donna are the BEST of the BEST! Their knowledge, professionalism, work ethic, and devotion to their trade are unrivaled. It was refreshing to have worked with a pair of professionals who truly understand the meaning of customer service, a lost art in our opinion. Despite living over 3,000 miles away on the opposite coast, Jim and Donna were with us every step of more “
Jim found me a multi family property that we purchased as an investment (Please see my review of Donna Klinge for details on how it went). But the bottom line is this: I never would have found this property, which cash flows right out of the gate, if it weren’t for Jim pointing me toward that house. It just was not on my radar, even though I consider myself a savvy real estate troll. Jim is giving of his time, and his intelligence. And he is also transparent and truthful. And I think he is funny, which is helpful in stressful situations like RE transactions. Jim and Donna have earned every last penny they made from our deal — and in fact they deserve more. And that is why I will use them for my RE transactions the rest of my life. Thank you, Jim and Donna! more “
I can’t say enough about Jim and Donna. Jim got a great price for us and negotiated well. Donna walked us through escrow, handling vendors, and negotiating everything we asked for in the request for repairs. They are know exactly what they are doing and I’ve already recommended them to two other people. more “
I followed Jim’s blog for several years and decided to contact him (along with several other realtors) when an out-of-state work relocation required me to sell my home in San Marcos, Ca. At our initially meeting, Jim spent a significant amount of time discussing pricing options, strategy, as well… more “
Honesty. Integrity. Professionalism. Dedication. Commitment. Jim and Donna Klinge hold these attributes in abundance. They have acted as both our buyer agent and our seller agent delivering highly relevant insight into local market conditions, spot-on advice to maximize the home’s value, and unparalleled management of the transaction process… more “
I cannot imagine a better experience! Jim was our broker when my husband and I bought our first house. Jim never pressured us or glossed over anything. He was patient, knowledgeable, and helped us buy our dream home. His office was detail-oriented, always responsive and we closed in 30 days! The excellent service didn’t end when we bought our house, either, the Klinges have given us excellent and fast referrals along the way. We feel privileged to have worked with such a consummate professional and appreciate how rare this level of skill is. Jim is simply the best in the field. more “
Jim and his team are top flight. He knows the market better than anyone, and his team ensures the deal goes through without a hitch. There’s always something at the last minute, but you’d never know it with Jim and his crew. I’ve bought and sold houses with Jim as my agent over the years, and I wouldn’t use anyone else. Save yourself the headaches and potential costly mistakes… more “
Buying a house is one of the most emotional,exciting, and sometimes confusing milestones you’ll reach for in your life! Being a buyer in this market can make it even more interesting! My husband and I have been looking to buy for a year, and when the time came we wanted a realtor team that would be on our team! Being that I’m a business woman and was 7 months pregnant, I wanted, NEEDED, communication, dependability, and consistency! The Klinges went so far above and beyond … more “
Jim was recommended to me when I bought my first house here in the US five years ago. He and Donna explained the whole process and it was a great experience to work with them. Not surprisingly, when my company asked me to relocate my first choice was to work with them again… more “
I have followed Jim’s real estate blog for years and by the time I got ready to sell my townhouse I felt I knew him both personally and professionally. At our first meeting he was prepared with recent comps and listings for the area… more “
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