Some of my favorite marketing remarks for listings

One of my favorite things about getting a new listing is writing the marketing remarks.

My sellers often ask me what I am going to say about their house.  I tell them I don’t know yet.  What I like to do is sit down with a cup of coffee and look through all the pictures until something pops in my mind.

I like to use the words in the remarks to tell a buyer what they can’t see in pictures.  I also like to say something that will be memorable.  I know I’ve done a good job when all my realtor friends will text or call me saying how much they enjoyed reading them.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

  1. “Get out your MUST HAVE list and let’s compare. Do you have these items on it: 1/4 acre level lot that is fully fenced & private? Hardwood floors? Replacement windows? A nicely updated bath? Stainless appliances? Fireplace? Good so far???? Come see it in person. Don’t just peek through the windows. You will love the shape and vibe of this house. The location is amazing.”

runnymede

 

2.  “DO THE OTHER HOUSES you are looking at have a wooded area & a lake behind them? Didn’t think so. Besides the wooded+water view, this house has numerous unique features: *HUGE finished room in the basement plus a full bath down there.  *HUGE storage room in the basement that walks out to driveway.  *End of Cul-de-Sac with nothing but Mother Nature behind you. Come check it out!”

harbor

 

3.  “Like Top 5 lists? The first 5 pictures tell you everything you need to know about what makes this house sooooo special. The rest are there just to make you drool 😉 Classical Character meets a whole house high end reno here….yeah, you CAN have it all, IF somebody else doesn’t beat you to it.”

firebrook

 

4. “Old. New. Modern. Distressed. Pinterest. IKEA. Style. Functional. Character. Unique. Amazing. These are all words to describe what the seller’s affectionately call their Frankenhouse. While you will be amazed at all the detail they have put into this house to make it look so cool, I want you to be sure to notice that you have 3 full bathrooms, an open concept eat in kitchen/family room, a large fully fenced backyard with two decks, a shed and a root cellar. Oh, and the HVAC was all replaced two years ago and the roof is 10 years old….so what you have here is the unique old house you have fantasied about WITHOUT the reality of all the expenses typical to an older house. They have got it all ready for the next caretaker. Could it be you?”

franken

 

5.  “If this house could talk, it would say: I’m a Mid-Century charmer in a fantastic neighborhood. I’ve got lots of hardwood floors, more than one bathroom, and have had updates but still kept my original character. Some people judge me because I back to a shopping center, but you can’t really tell since my large and level backyard has sooooo many mature trees. I mean, just look at the pictures? You have to look really close to even notice. My last people that lived here liked not having another house right behind them. They said there wasn’t any noise and it sure beat seeing a neighbor or hearing a barking dog…………..Since this humble houses doesn’t like to brag, you should know that it is in the Beaumont Middle and Dunbar High School districts.”

traveller

 

6.  “Jessica & Duane looked at many house before picking this one…..and if you’ll take a look at the pictures you’ll see why! For starters, this simply has to be the BEST lot in the whole neighborhood. The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac that is in the very corner of the neighborhood and backs to FARMLAND…..has a bunch of space between the houses too. Step inside, and you will notice that this house feels much more expensive than it is. Sure, it has the open floor plan, fireplace, upgraded laminate floors, separate tub/shower & tall ceilings that everybody wants, but look close and you’ll notice things like an office nook, crown molding just about everywhere, beadboard on the back of the kitchen island, a multi-level deck, cabinets in the laundry area, some floored storage space in the attic, a coated garage floor……well, you get the drift here. Come see it for yourself, but open your eyes so you don’t miss the other cool details of this home!”

crockett

 

7.  “I honestly am challenged to describe this place in less than the 1000 characters I have. I mean, the setting is fantastic. You are on top of a ridge, but don’t have to drive up a steep road nor driveway to get here. Fantastic views & very private. Then there is the house. It has been totally remodeled with attention to design, detail and character. Look at the pictures? This place could be in a magazine!! When you come see this place, walk around it several times to take it all in. Want to be a farmer? A vineyard, orchard trees, chicken house, pond & barn are ready for you. 30 minutes to Lexington & 10 minutes to Nicholasville-can it be any more ideal?? (there is more but I am running out of room.)”

taylor

 

8.  “I don’t often have 61 pictures of a house……but then again, there aren’t many houses like this!! Some thoughts that popped into my head as I toured it today were: Craftsmanship, attention to detail, LOTS of crown molding & trim work, farmhouse sink, awesome cooktop hood, lots of hardwood, wrap around porch, custom built, elegant while being inviting, the best breakfast room I have EVER seen, natural light, I can’t believe it has a great room AND an upstairs family lounge AND a basement family room, Pottery Barn, Southern Living, STORAGE, an unfinished room in the basement that would be a perfect Theater Room. Then as I left, I noticed it is across from dedicated Green space. Before you check out those 61 pictures, let me point out a few other things: The main level bedroom is being used as an office. It works great either way. The basement bedroom has French doors & could be anything you want….Lots to love. Worth a visit!!”

Vanznat

 

9.  4 ooooh 5 ooooh 2.The best zip code in all of Lexington….and this house is in THE most awesome location with access to The Lansdowne Shoppes, The Signature Club, Chevy Chase, Downtown, UK, The Arboretum, Southland Drive, Fayette Mall and The Summit. Map it. This place is right in the middle of all that. You also get mature trees and are in the Glendover Elementary/Morton Middle/Henry Clay High district. But what about this house? Well, to begin with it sits on nearly a 1/3 acre corner lot that offers a very private backyard. It’s got hardwood, tile and a nice mix of updating and all the original charm that you want in a mid century home. My favorite thing about this place is the floor plan. All the rooms are big and bright and flow well. The kitchen is open to the family room just like in a newer house. When you come check it out, be sure to spend a few minutes sitting at the kitchen island. It’s a great gathering space.”

_SEM6025

 

10.  Let’s call this the TRIFECTA house: You get greenspace, a water view and move in ready condition. You also get a lot of natural light, an open floor plan, a walking trail, are close to Hamburg as well as two of Lexington’s newest schools, Garrett Morgan Elementary and Frederick Douglass High. A little extra icing on an already good cake is that there is more space than usual between you and one of your neighbors, the driveway is flat and it is going to be the cleanest most move in ready house you have ever seen. (Even the lawn is in immaculate shape!!)”

3276 Sweet Clover - 013

 

Some of my favorites houses I have sold

It’s been a pretty relaxing day.  Woke up a little early.  Drank some coffee.  Thought about some of my favorite houses that I have sold.

There are a lot more than these, but I wanted to share with you a bit about what I saw in these homes.

1.  The Cottage on the Lake House

LAKE

One of the things that made this place so cool was how much it offered for such a little price.  The seller used it mostly as a weekend get away.  While the whole place was special, this room with a wall of windows overlooking Herrington Lake was amazing.

2.  The Preserved Craftsman Cottage

sTAMPING GRD

The sellers used me when they bought this place.  It was a time capsule.  I think it was built in the 20s and updated a bit in the 50s.  The previous owner had lived there forever.  Everything was pink.  My sellers updated it with an eye on preserving it’s original character.

3.  The Transformation in the Sticks House

tAYLOR RIDGE

This place was so deep in Jessamine County that it was closer to Madison County than it was to Nicholasville.  It was literally a very plain shack when my buyer with a ton of vision and the energy for the transformation bought it.  Everything she did was totally amazing, but I had to pick one picture and I picked this one because of the window.  The ceilings were low in this house.  The windows were low too.  She came up with the idea to put all that trim around the windows and get this, to make the windows look taller, she put mirrors above them.  Take a closer look and you will see a reflection of what is inside.  Pretty clever!

4.  The Party House

Wyndham

Some friends of mine built this house and then added the pool.  I just sold it for them.  What I loved about this house was all the space for entertaining, which sounds strange of me to say because I never entertain….but if I did, the pool, the flat lawn, the patio, deck, and finished basement with a kitchenette would be what I would want.

5.  The Cozy Corner House

Hemming

I am a sucker for natural light.  This place was vacant when my clients bought it.  I liked this corner because it had windows on two sides.  It looked even better when they got this wicker sectional.  It was so cool that the people who bought it when I sold it wrote on their offer that the sectional stayed with the house.

6.  The “Everything I wanted except a 10 car garage” house

lake v

This is a house that made me wish I was 10 years younger.  Well, I wish that all the time, but what I mean is that I am too close to being an empty nester to want a perfect 5000 square foot house on an amazing lot, in my favorite neighborhood, that has been totally renovated.  If it were 2008, I would have bought it.

7.  The Love at First Sight Garage House

David Powell Media

These buyers had a 3 car garage in their old house that I sold.  They didn’t want to go backwards.  It is hard to find a 3 car garage in Lexington, but somehow we managed to find a 4 car garage.  The seller of this home was some famous football player.  He added the extra garage seemlessly into the house…..that’s how I will always remember him.

8.  The In the Country but not in the Country House

Todds

Talk about location.  Here are 10 acres and all the wonderfulness that comes with being in the country, but Domino’s in Hamburg will deliver your pizza.  Plus it has a pool and a bonus garage with an apartment.

9.  The “My Three Kitchens” House

Cambridge

This place not only had a really nice kitchen upstairs, it had a really nice kitchen in the 3000 square foot basement, plus this poolside kitchen.  I am not really sure why this impressed me because I never cook anything, but it did.

10.  The “Made my wife cry tears of joy” House

antilles

While it doesn’t look this good now, it did when I bought this place.  My wife had always wanted a covered patio and an outdoor fireplace.  When we came to see this house, she cried because she liked it so much.  It was like a dream come true.  I try to remind myself of that when I think about all the work I need to do to the inside….which I have been deferring for over 6 years now.

5 things all sellers should know

There are a lot of misconceptions about how selling your house works.  I think a lot of that is because we agents don’t take the time to explain things.  Nobody really understands what we do and I think just like math homework, we should “Show our work.”

So, here are the answers to the most typical questions/comments I get from sellers:

  1.  Don’t we need a lot of wiggle room between the list price and what we think the sale price will be?  No, especially in Fayette Co.  Most agents price their listings close to the market value.  Outside of Fayette County, it is more common to have more wiggle room.  If you have a $230k house that you list for $250k so you have room to negotiate and most sellers are pricing closer to market value, buyers will not be expecting you to have so much wiggle room.  They will be comparing your $230k house with other homes listed for $250k and your house will not be appealing to them.
  2. If my houses sells quickly, does that mean we sold it for too cheap?  Not at all.  Often that means that you had one of the best houses available in your price range.  Even when the market was terrible, it was common for the best houses to sell quickly.  The value of your house and how long it took to find a buyer are not related.  The value of your house is determined by what a buyer will pay.  We figure that out by examining the sales in your area to see what buyer’s have recently been willing to pay.  We are in a time where there are more buyers than there are sellers.  It is pretty typical for most houses to sell quickly.
  3. My house has been on the market for a while and not sold, I think you should do more to advertise it.  If a house isn’t selling, it is due to the price or the condtion of the house.  Very rarely, especially in a seller’s market, do I see a house not sell due to the marketing.  Sure, there is a difference between a good presentation and bad, but let’s face it, when there are more buyers than sellers, buyers will come see a poorly presented house just like they will one that was presented well.  Also, exposure is never an issue these days.  Once a agent puts the house on the local MLS, it is automatically fed to Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and every other site with listings.  Within 24 hours of your house hitting the market, you can google your address and see pages of websites it is on.  Often when I have had somebody tell me this, I will look on zillow and see that hundreds of people have viewed the listing.  I will also remind them that none of the buyer’s who have come to see their house made an offer.  The big question is why did none of them buy the house?  Price and/or condition.  All an agent can do is attract somebody to the front door.  Once they go inside, the house has to do the rest.  Being a Realtor isn’t about making somebody buy a house they don’t want.  It is about making your house appealing enough for somebody to buy.
  4. I don’t want to paint my house because I don’t know what color my buyer will want.  I often hear this from sellers after I have suggested they paint due to the house needing it or because they have wild colors that I think will turn off most buyers.  Fresh paint is THE biggest return on investment when selling.  Buyer’s don’t have vision.  Just watch HGTV and you will notice that.  People walk into a house before the renovation and just can’t visualize what it is going to look like at the end of the show.  Let’s say it will cost $3k to paint your house.  Odds are it is going to sell for $5k less if you don’t.  The color you pick is whatever is trendy at the moment because everybody likes it.
  5. The list price you suggest is too low.  My house has________________.  It is common for sellers to want to add value for the features their house has that other houses in the area do not.  You have a covered patio and the others houses don’t.  It adds value.  You have granite counter tops and other houses don’t.  They add value.  But, determining value is done by comparing your house to others that have sold in your area.  Agents and appraisers make adjustments for how your house is better or worse than the houses that have sold.  Sellers tend to not realize when those “Other” houses are better than their own house, and we need to make adjustments for that too.  Think of it like balancing your checkbook.  You’ve got deposits and debits.  Once you’ve added and subtracted those, you know your balance.

 

 

The worst house to buy

Want to know the house to stay away from?

It’s the one that has had the same owner for many decades and has never had anything major done to it the entire time.

How do I know this?  I own two of them.

I sometimes stumble across a deal that I can fix up and rent out.  The ones that I have spent the most on are the ones that fit this profile.

Most of the time, there isn’t much you can save.  I usually end up replacing windows, the roof, the furnace, air conditioner, water heater and all the appliances.  Often the kitchen and bathrooms are worn out enough that I end up having to start all over, even though I prefer to keep as much of the original character as I can.

A lot of these houses were built in the 50s and 60s.  Houses from that era are arguably the best built houses ever……I can tell by how hard it is to do any demo work.  Most have bathrooms with lots of ceramic tile.  The kind that goes half way up all the walls.  Only once have I ever been able to keep the tile.  Most of the time there is a really bad section and it can’t be saved, or the vanity needs replaced, but the tile is all around it.  To replace the vanity you end up having to take off the tile and it forces a pretty big renovation.

It’s all worked out pretty well for me, but I was just thinking about how these type of houses are the ones that I am always over budget because they are like that “If you give a mouse a cookie” book where you do one thing that leads to another action, then something else, and so on.

These type of houses appear to be a real bargain to most buyers.  They are usually in pretty cool older areas with big trees.  They have character.  If they are decorated right, they look nice too.  It is only when you do a home inspection that you realize that while nothing is catastrophically wrong with the house, almost EVERYTHING needs some attention, and that attention costs a lot of money.

What to do when you have to sell your old house first

I’ve got several clients right now that need to sell their old house before they can buy a new one.  It’s not a fun spot to be in during a seller’s market.

You would think when almost all houses sell quickly that a seller would happily accept an offer from somebody who needs to sell their old house first.  But, odds are the seller is getting multiple offers, so why wouldn’t they pick the one without a contingency to sell?

Time to clarify a few things:  A contingency to sell is when you haven’t sold your old house yet and nobody has any idea when you can actually close on the new house.  A contingency to close means your old house has in fact sold, and assuming the buyer of your old house makes it to the finish line, so will you.

When you make an offer contingent on selling your old house, it is pretty standard for a seller to counter back with what is called a kickout clause.  That means that the seller will accept your offer, but they will keep their house on the market and hope to catch a buyer without a contingency.  If they do, then you’ll have a limited amount of time to remove the contingency and buy the house without having to sell your old one, or you agree to walk away and let the seller and their new buyer enter into a sale together.  If it is impossible for you to remove the contingency and buy the house, then you will lose the house to the new buyer.

For this reason, I am telling my buyers who need to sell their old house first to not even look at a house until it has been on the market for a while.  Let’s say you are the first buyer to see a house and you make an offer contingent on selling your old house.  The seller accepts it with a kickout clause.  You are feeling good.  Then the next day, the seller gets an offer without a contingency.  You lose it.  If you think about it……whether you buy it the first day on the market or the 10th day on the market, the end result is the same:  IF another buyer comes around and wants it, you will get kicked out.  IF no buyer comes along, then it will still be there when you make an offer after every other buyer has had a chance to see it.  There really is no urgency to write a contingency offer due to this reason, and waiting a bit prevents a lot of heartache for you.

So what’s the strategy then?

If you can, the best solution to preventing this problem is to sell your old house first.  You will then be able to make an offer without a contingency.  You stand a better chance of getting the house you want.  This will also keep your from having to potentially sell your house for a little less than it is worth to ensure it sells immediately and you don’t loose your new house.  The downside of this is that you are moving twice.

You can pay a premium for the new house.  Sometimes if a seller is getting a few thousand more than the next offer, they might choose not to kick you out.  The downside of this route is that you are paying a premium for the luxury of not having to move twice.  Moving twice costs you more and is more of a hassle, so maybe it is worth it to you.

Either way is painful really.  There is no easy button to push when you have to sell your old house to buy a new one.  Not in such a seller’s market.