Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What every home seller should know

A lot of planning and preparation go into selling a home. Here is what local real-estate brokers, mortgage lenders, contractors and other experts cite as the most essential preparations.

Architect Chris French and his wife, Anya Landau French, turned up the volume on their vacant condominium apartment with designer-inspired contemporary furnishings — leather living-room furniture, glass and metal side tables, a black dining-room table and a fake TV.
The aim of the makeover was to draw a buyer who would snap up the property — a person their professional stager imagined would be in his or her late 20s or early 30s, seeking the stability of homeownership.

“It’s a bit of a mad rush,” Chris French said about his efforts to get a head start on the spring market.

There are plenty of good reasons spring is the traditional start of the real-estate season:
• Sellers’ yards look more photogenic.
• Buyers are more apt to take a fall-in-love-with-the-neighborhood walk in warmer weather.
• A summer move is preferable for families with school-age children.
It may be months until most spring listings go up, but local real-estate experts say now is the right time to get ready. The to-do list is long, from researching agents to painting and planting.

“There are so many things, sometimes you kind of freeze,” says Jennifer Nangle, an agent with Re/Max Realty Services, the Nangle Group. “It can seem daunting, but so much of it is tidying.”

To help you manage all the tasks, we’ve consulted with local real-estate brokers, mortgage lenders, contractors and other experts about the most essential preparations.

Choose agents, contractors and other professionals carefully.

Mary Premtaj, a sales associate with Prominent Properties Sotheby’s in Franklin Lakes, N.J., said it is key for sellers to interview many agents, to find the right one for their needs and to ask the right questions.

Sellers should inquire about an agent’s negotiating skills, experience, handling of situations like bidding wars, where the agent lives, what region she covers and her past transactions.

Ask for references, ask how long it takes an agent to complete a sale and if she works full time.

Many agents have preferred professionals they deal with, including mortgage companies, home inspectors, photographers, stagers, professional cleaners and contractors.

“We can save people a lot of headaches,” says Rachel Valentino, an agent with Keller Williams.

Some real-estate teams offer packages of services, which might include professional photographers and designers or discounts on movers and home warranties.

Although buyers generally get home inspections, some sellers also arrange for a prelisting inspection. (Nangle and some other agents recommend it.)

“They don’t want any surprises,” says Joseph Walker, a home inspector and president of Claxton Walker & Associates in Annapolis, Md.

An inspection provides not only important information — how many years left before a roof needs to be replaced, for example — but also a thorough to-do list.

“That way there aren’t a lot of things that could clog up the sale,” Walker says. “The seller isn’t trying to make repairs at a panic pace.”

Gather paperwork and do the math.-

Now is the time to crunch numbers. What are the comparable sales? What do you owe on the mortgage? How would making various repairs improve your bottom line?
If you don’t decide to make a particular upgrade — replacing a worn floor, for example — Nangle recommends getting estimates for the work.

“I think it’s a good idea to get photos or illustrations of how it would look, and show the numbers,” she says. “It gives [potential buyers] an idea of what can be done.”


While you’re looking through file cabinets and drawers for tax returns and receipts, you might as well clean them out. “Seventy-five percent is a matter of freshening up and de-cluttering,” says Brian Block, managing broker of Re/Max Allegiance.

You probably know the golden rule about clearing off counters, dressers and tables, but don’t forget inside the refrigerator and inside closets, because potential buyers will look in them.

“No one likes to do it,” Valentino says. “We all procrastinate.”

Once you’ve cleaned out, you may need a storage unit to hold items until moving day, she adds.

You have to be ruthless, says Caroline Carter, owner of Done in a Day, a professional-staging company in Bethesda, Md. Perhaps you have lovely china displayed or a world-class book collection, but chances are “they’re a distraction for buyers.”
It’s important for buyers to be able to see themselves, not the current owner, in the home, Carter says.
Make repairs

The Frenches renovated their one-bedroom den condo when they bought it in 2007. They had reselling in mind, adding a window to give the den a source of natural light, reconfiguring the kitchen and foyer, and adding more storage.
“We wanted to make it as functional as possible, keeping it flexible for the next owner, too,” Anya Landau French says.
But renovations don’t have to be that extensive. Carter says sellers can make easy, quick updates.

Some changes that can have a big impact are installing new carpet, replacing hardware and pulls on kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, reglazing bathtubs and replacing medicine cabinets.

“People tend not to have enough lighting,” says Valentino. Clients may balk at spending several hundred dollars on recessed lighting, “but you get the money back.”

New kitchen appliances are also often a good investment, Carter says.

“Buyers want clean, organized and move-in ready,” she says. “A buyer will often overestimate how much it is to do these repairs.”

Maria Rini of Re/Max Real Estate in Oradell, N.J., said that buyers need to remember that no amount of money they put into the house to fix it up will be fully returned.

This is why homeowners should seek professional advice before throwing money into what may be unnecessary home improvements to sell their home, Rini said.

For example, Rini said she once had a client whose friend told him to spend $4,000 on custom blinds.

“There was no reason for this man to spend a dime in this area,” Rini said.
Some experts say neutral paint and décor are best. But others argue that a little personality goes a long way.

“Another agent might tell you to repaint your red dining-room walls, but I say if it looks good, keep it. At the end of the day, among the three-bedroom town houses, at least you’ll be remembered as the one with the red walls,” says Ray Gernhart, associate broker with Re/Max.

Prepare for rain-

Spring is notoriously wet, so pay special attention to rain gutters and downspouts and sump pumps (and battery backups), says Cliff Kornegay, owner of Capitol Hill Home Inspection, who recommends having your roof inspected for storm damage even if it isn’t leaking.

Check the air-conditioning system before you have to turn it on to keep potential buyers comfortable. Kornegay recommends having the evaporator coil cleaned and drains checked, in addition to changing filters.


Often an afterthought, landscaping is essential, according to real-estate experts.

“A lot of people make up their mind before they get to the front door,” Thompson says.

If you do nothing else, edge the lawn and mulch flower beds, says Donna-Marie Despres, a landscape architect at Sun Nurseries in Woodbine, Md.

“Everything will look tidy,” she says. For a pop of color, pansies, impatiens and nandina shrubs are particularly hardy. “If there is a frost forecast after you’ve planted, just cover with a sheet at night.”
“Landscaping has one of the biggest returns on the investment,” Valentino says.
Start now

The Frenches rented out their apartment for several years and timed the lease to be able to put it on the market early in the season. Chris French says he wanted to get it on the market “ahead of any rush in inventory.”

Some local sellers were surprised last year when the spring season heated up earlier than normal.

“It depends on the weather,” Valentino says. “Traditionally, ‘spring’ starts in mid-March. But last year, it was unseasonably warm, and we started seeing buyers in mid-February. It catches sellers off guard, because it always takes them longer to get ready than they expected.”

Next steps-

The next step is to discuss the bigger picture: Where do the homeowners want to live next?

“Always make sure that the next step is feasible before taking the first step,” said Bill Boswell, a sales associate at Coldwell Banker in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

“There’re people who get caught all the time.”

Before listing their own home on the market, it helps to take a day or two to drive around and see what is out there for them, Boswell said.

“Just so they can feel comfortable to know there is something that they will be comfortable in,” Boswell said.

Then, it may be time to consider setting the asking price.

Marilyn Nuber, a broker associate at Keller Williams in Ridgewood, N.J., said homeowners need to be realistic about the asking price.

This becomes more important for owners looking to sell their properties fast.

“They can’t be emotional about it. They have to look at what other people have received for their home,” Nuber said.
Once the house is fully staged, it is time to schedule a professional photographer, Premtaj said.

“It’s one of the most important aspects,” she said.

“That’s the one way for us to communicate with all these prospective buyers who start their searches on the Internet.”

Rini said Web marketing is crucial. Her brokerage uses about 300 different websites to help sell their homes. Many agents even set up individual websites with video clips, details and photographs to help sell houses.

“It’s supply and demand, so you want to create the biggest demand that you can,” Rini said.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I choose...

A Pep Talk

We all need a little encouragement every now and then. Kid President, knowing this, has put together a video you can play each morning as you wake up or to share with your friend who needs a kick in the right direction. Take a moment and spread some encouragement. "It's everybody's duty to give the world a reason to dance."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"The level of your happiness and success in life is directly proportional to the number of people you serve selflessly." -Thach Nguyen

"Thank you for the experience"

Vision Breakfast

Yesterday, Keller Williams Puget Sound had our Vision Breakfast.  It was AMAZING!  Thach Nguyen was our guest speaker and he was such an inspiration!!!!!  The entire event was great!!!

"When your vision is clear and you know why you want it, all things are possible" - Thach Nguyen

Motivational Quote

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Set Goals: 4 Steps to Making Things Happen

We all have things we want to accomplish. We may want to start something, or maybe we want to stop doing something. Perhaps we want more of one thing but less of another. Losing weight, making money, better relationships, obtaining inner peace, all of these things have to start with one thing: a decision. We need to consciously decide we are going to have, be, or do whatever it is that we desire, and then determine the steps that are going to make that happen. This is where good goal-setting comes into play.

Why is it important to set goals? It is important to set goals because in order to make something happen, we need to be able to envision it with clarity before we can make it a reality. What do you want? Ask yourself, what would I go for if I knew I would be successful? Once you have an idea in mind, I have identified four important steps to start making things happen:

1. Identify Your Goals. To identify what specific goals make sense for you, begin first by writing down what specific things you want in your life. How much money do you want to earn? Do you want to lose a certain number of pounds? Do you want a new car? To take a vacation? Maybe you just want to pay off your debt? Decide what you want, and set your goals.

2. Be Inspired. In order for a goal to hold our attention, it must inspire us. Once you have determined what you want, practice feeling what it will be like when you achieve your goal. Attaching a feeling to a goal makes it real. Now, mentally rehearse the feelings you will have once you achieve it. Is it joy? Happiness? Relief? Pride? Remember, your desire to achieve that feeling is why you have this goal. We need to shed the limitations we have unconsciously have set for ourselves by changing the way we think about ourselves and what we can accomplish and always believe that you are confident, capable and worthy.

3. Have No Fear. Sometimes we are afraid to set goals because we are afraid of disappointment or failure. Failure is just an opportunity to redefine our goals. We need to have flexibility to notice that as we move in the direction of our goals, there are sometimes more worthy goals that are revealed. We need to be able to adapt, redefine, and restructure our goals when appropriate.

4. Break It Down. So I don't get overwhelmed, and to better understand the steps it will take to accomplish my goals, I use a flowchart method. I draw boxes on a piece of paper and work backward through charts to better understand the steps I need to achieve the goal. For example: Write your goal down and make a box around it. Now ask yourself, "What needs to happen to make this happen?" Once you have determined what needs to happen, create a new row of boxes underneath the box with your goal, and write down all the action steps necessary. Now, what needs to happen to make that next level of boxes happen? Continue to break down all of the action steps necessary in as many rows as you need. Once you have broken down the action plan to the lowest level, you know exactly where to start and exactly what needs to happen! You have created "mini goals" to help you reach your main goal.

If you want things to change, you have to decide to make things change. Just as we need to establish what our goals are, we also need to make a commitment to those goals. You must set goals that are important to you, and then you need to identify the steps necessary to accomplish them. What can you do now that will move you toward your goal? What kind of positive action will lead you to the attainment of the goal? Break it down and get started!

By Denise Scarbro


How to Combat the #1 Killer of Productivity So You Can Easily Achieve Your Goals in 2013

I tend to be a perfectionist by nature. It is my natural instinct to keep working on a project until it is as good as it possibly can be. Maybe you can even relate to this yourself?

Over the years as a business owner, I've learned that perfectionism is actually the #1 killer of fast business growth. In today's tough business landscape, you have to be able to change and implement fast.

And if you get stuck trying to make every single project perfect, you will generally only achieve a small fraction of what you could have accomplished during that same time period.

I've learned the hard way that it's better to have something "good enough" that you can start selling, versus something outstanding that you don't start selling quickly because you're stuck trying to make it perfect.

In my quest to overcome perfectionism, I have tried nearly every time management process out there for getting things done as fast as possible, but with a quality level that I could live with. And there are certainly tons of time management and project management processes that each person can benefit from.

But if I had to choose just one time management process to use for the rest of my life, it would definitely be the one I originally learned from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach.

Here's how that process works.

Step 1: Finish The First 80 Percent As Quickly As Possible

Focus on getting the project 80 percent completed as quickly as possible. This is what most people would call the first version, or the first draft.

In most cases, once you get started and finish the first version of a project, your judgment will be that it is 80 percent done. In other words, you will generally evaluate the quality of it and rate it as 80 percent of where you would like it to be.

And this is usually true whether you have spent a ton of time preparing for the project, or whether you jumped right in without preparation.

So think about that for a minute. This is a really profound concept. Whether you jump right into a project without any preparation at all, or whether you spend days or even weeks preparing to start it, you will still feel like it is 80 percent finished in nearly every case once you actually jump in and complete the first iteration of it.

If that's true, then why in the world would any of us ever want to waste valuable time preparing to start? It would be better to just jump right in and get started, and focus on finishing the first 80 percent (the first version) as quickly as humanly possible.

In doing so, don't worry about being perfect. Just focus on getting the first 80 percent done.

And to be clear, this doesn't mean that you have to personally be the one getting the first 80 percent done. It just means that you need to have someone get the first 80 percent done.

Step 2: Evaluate Whether It Would Be Worth The Effort To Make Improvements

Then, evaluate whether it is worth spending time to improve the project. In the majority of instances, the 80 percent (first draft) will be good enough and you can consider the project to be finished.

And if the project is not good enough yet to suit the intended purpose, you can keep going with Step 3.

Step 3: If The Current Version Isn't Good Enough, Focus On The Next 80 Percent

If the current version (at 80 percent quality) is not good enough, then you focus on getting the next 80 percent done of the 20 percent that remains.

You can either have the person who did the first draft keep working on it based upon your feedback, or you can now put your own personal touches on the project to make it better. The key point with this step is to again focus on getting the next 80 percent quality level done as quickly as possible (without focusing on being perfect).

And again, once finished, you evaluate whether or not it is good enough. If so, the project is done, and you can move on to another project.

If it is still not good enough, you can proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 Until The Project Is "Good Enough"

You simply keep iterating through the process described in Step 3 again on the remaining 20 percent until it is "good enough." When determining what is "good enough," just ask yourself how much difference it would really make if you went with this version versus spending time on an improved version.

If your customers would be happy with current version or it is otherwise good enough to serve the intended purpose, then why waste the time to keep going just so you would feel it is "perfect"?

Once the project is good enough to consider "done", then you can roll it out and move on to your next project. That's where you can build some serious momentum.

I know those four steps may sound simple, but they can actually work wonders in your business and your life. If you take the time to think about these steps carefully, you will see why perfectionism and procrastination are actually your worst enemies, and why this process can combat them once and for all.

The results you will see are nothing short of amazing. At least that's what happened to me when I put this process into practice.

That's why I highly recommend that you give this strategy a try and watch your own productivity soar for the rest of 2013 and beyond.

And once you see that it really works for you, please share this strategy with everyone on your team so that you can super-charge the results for your entire company.

By Denise Gosnell


8 Simple Steps To Extreme Personal Productivity

Teaching others to improve their personal productivity is big business: Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, David Allen... they and others have turned improving individual productivity into a massive industry.

At least for today, forget them.

If you want to finish a major project, knock out a task you've been putting off, or just complete a lot of work in a relatively short period of time, there's an easier way.

And it's free.

Say you need to complete a task you estimate will take 10 to 12 hours. Here's how to pull it off in one day:

1. Tell everyone what you're doing.

This step is an absolute since interruptions are productivity killers. So is the, "How much longer do you have to work?" guilt trip family members sometimes can't help but lay on you. (Of course they want you at home. They love you.)

At a minimum tell coworkers and family, but consider letting certain clients know as well. Send a brief email a few days ahead of time explaining you will be tied up that day and will respond to calls, emails, etc. first thing the next day. A few customers might get with you ahead of time; most will make a mental note you can't be reached.

Either way, you're good.

Plus you get an additional benefit: People important to you know what you intend to accomplish... and they'll know if you don't succeed.

Peer pressure can be a great motivator. Use it.

2. Decide how long you will work.

Don't go into the day thinking, "Well, I will work as long as I can," or "I'll work as long as I feel productive." Set a specific target. Commit to working 12 or 14 or however many hours you choose.

Then something cool happens: The longer the time frame you set, the quicker the early hours seem to go by.

When I worked in a factory we normally worked 8-hour shifts; the hour before lunch dragged and the last couple of hours always seemed like death.

Yet when we worked 12-hour shifts the mornings seemed to fly by. Something about knowing you will be working for a long time allows you to stop checking the clock; it's like you naturally find your Zen (work)place.

Try it--it works.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways to Get More Done

3. Start really early--or really late.

Have you ever taken a long car trip and left at 3 or 4 a.m.? Those first few hours on the road flew by because you stepped outside your norm.

The same trick works with accomplishing a major goal. Start at 4 a.m. Or indulge your inner night owl and start at 6 p.m. and work through the night.

An extreme productivity day is not a normal day, so it shouldn't feel like one. Set the stage by breaking free of your normal routine.

4. Withhold the fun for a while.

Say you like to listen to music while you work. If that's how you "treat" yourself when you're working, don't, at least for the first few hours.

Then when your motivation starts to flag your playlist will provide a powerful boost.

However you treat yourself, remember that each treat is like a personal productivity bullet; shoot too early, too often, and nothing is left when you really need some motivational ammunition.

Whatever you typically use to carry you through your workday, hold off on it for a while. Delayed gratification is motivating gratification.

5. Recharge early.

If you wait to drink until you're thirsty when you exercise, it's often too late.

The same is true when you work. Any time you allow yourself to feel discomfort your overall motivation and resolve weakens. Plan to snack or eat a little earlier than normal. If you sit while you work, stand before your butt gets numb. If you stand, sit before your legs start to ache.

And plan meals wisely. Prepare food you can eat quickly without lots of preparation or mess.

The key is to refuel and keep rolling: As Isaac Newton said, an extreme personal productivity body in motion tends to stay in motion. (Or something like that.)

Refuel, recharge, and keep yours in motion.

RELATED: 10 Traits of Exceptional Bosses

6. Take productive breaks, not rest breaks.

Again, momentum is everything. When you take a break don't watch a little TV or check your social media feeds. You definitely need breaks, but every break you take should reinforce your sense of activity and accomplishment.

Pick a few productive tasks you like to perform--and gain a sense of accomplishment when you complete--and use those for your breaks.

Spending even a few minutes in the land of inactivity weakens your resolve.

7. When you start to feel overwhelmed, stop thinking.

Some projects or tasks can seem so daunting, so overwhelming, so, "No way am I ever going to finish this," that it's almost paralyzing.

I saw an extremely overweight man working with a personal trainer. As he was trudging up some stadium steps the man broke down emotionally. The thought of having to lose a couple hundred pounds, of needing to diet for years, of having to exercise every day until every muscle ached... the immensity of his challenge crashed down on him.

He sank to his knees and closed his eyes and started crying. "I should just quit. I'll never be able to do this," he sobbed.

"I know it's tough," the trainer said. "I know it feels impossible right now." He put a hand on the man's shoulder.

"But right now--right now--is not about trying to lose all that weight. Right now is just about walking. The only thing you have to think about is making it up the next step. That's it. Don't think about tomorrow or next month or next year. Just think about walking up one more step.

"That's all you have to do. I know you can do that."

And he did.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, stop thinking and just do whatever you need to do next. Then think about what comes immediately after that.

Every journey, no matter how long, is just a series of steps. When you feel overwhelmed... just think about the next step.

8. Don't quit until you're done--even if finishing takes longer than expected.

Stopping short is habit forming: If you quit this time what will keep you from quitting the next time?

Success is also habit forming, so make sure your first extreme personal productivity day marks the start of a great new habit.

Besides the fact you completed a huge task, there's another benefit to knocking out an extreme personal productivity day. We all unconsciously set internal limits on our output: A voice inside says, "I've done enough," or, "That's all I can do today," or, I'm whipped--no way I can do more," and we stop.

That's natural.

But our internal limiters lie to us: With the right motivation, under the right circumstances, we can do more--a lot more.

An extreme personal productivity day automatically ratchets your internal limits a little higher.

After a few extreme productivity days you'll perform better every "normal" day too--because you will have unconsciously raised your own bar.

By Jeff Haden



Thursday, January 3, 2013


Welcome home to Glenbrook Condominiums. Why rent at this price? This home is in a quiet setting. Very spacious floor plan. Vaulted ceilings. Covered parking & vinyl windows. Excellent location! Close to buses, shopping...

27460 149th Place SE #85, Kent, WA 98042

Price: $99,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bath: 2
Sq Ft: 1,550

Allison Holz
Your #1 Real Estate Professional Since 2000
Williams Realty
(425) 736-8824