Tips for Selling your Home in Tough Times

uncluttered bedroom

As a seller, your priority is always to sell your home quickly, and at your asking price. Right now there’s no shortage of properties waiting an increasingly long time to be sold in what is a buyer’s market. So how do you give your property the edge?

The cost of remodelling your property can rapidly mushroom, so keep things in perspective, especially as buyers will begin making alterations of their own as soon as the keys are handed over.

With this in mind, Spence says it’s important to know what to fix and what to forget, how to draw up a plan and where to draw the line. He shares tips:

1. First impressions count

The first step is to make sure that your property captures the imagination of your prospective buyers from the moment they step inside the front gate. Buyers gravitate towards neat, clean, clutter-free interiors and exteriors in which they can immediately begin to imagine themselves living.

If you have a garden, it’s vital to make sure that it is neatly presented and inviting. Short-cut grass, tidy flower beds and boundary walls in a good state of repair make for a great first impression.

Security is also a vital drawcard for most buyers. Features such as alarms, security cameras and electric fences need to be in good working order. Unkempt gardens and obvious security risks are likely to put off prospective buyers before they’ve even set foot in the house.

2. Choose the right agent

Are estate agencies key to the success of selling your house? Not always, but the right agent certainly is.

Having a good agency in your corner can be a great help, but choosing the right agent (not the brand behind them) will make the difference between selling at or close to your asking price, or else waiting and falling short. Begin by researching into which agents have sold the most properties in your area and ask family, friends and neighbours for referrals.

It’s not enough to accept that the agent sent by the agency is the best or right fit for selling your home. If you’re struggling to know who to decide on, invite several agents to your home to pitch for your mandate in order to find out their personal sales and success in your area.

Find out their approaches to bringing in buyers and their propositions for marketing strategies. Make sure to have questions prepared about the number of houses they have sold that are similar to yours and ask them to tell you about neighbourhood trends and activities.

3. Interiors

Style is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty, and an important rule of thumb is that less is more. Sprucing up your interior design should definitely include clearing clutter. A prospective buyer will not only judge you on your neatness, but also the house you are trying to sell.

Of course, your pride and sense of style has long resided in your home, but it’s important to remember that your priority is to make a sale at this point, rather than a fashion statement.

Spending a small fortune on the latest wallpaper designs or that luxurious looking hot tub should not be your number one priority, but a fresh lick of paint should be, especially if the dirt has been accumulating over the past few years.

Well-presented houses sell for higher prices.

4. Kitchens, bathrooms and beyond

Kitchens and bathrooms are crucial selling points for any home, so it’s vital to capitalise on this and make them look their best. The perception of cleanliness is a must in these rooms. If you are prepared to budget for a partial or complete makeover of any specific rooms, then these should be the ones to consider.

– Bathroom

If you can, replace worn and cracked tiles. Carpeting should be left in the 1980s and replaced with laminate flooring, engineered wood or tiles.

Similarly, old fixtures such as taps and showerheads can readily be replaced with gleaming new versions, and you don’t have to go for the most expensive options for the desired results. Take the time to re-grout around the bath and shower.

– Kitchen

Countertops and cabinets are the most noticeable features in your kitchen.

If minor repairs are not enough to bring your kitchen back to its best, then settle for moderately priced replacement cabinet doors and façades. Keep your budget low by avoiding marble or granite countertop replacements in favour of solid surface, laminate or concrete – all of which can be easily installed without the need for a complete kitchen redesign.

Saving on Home Buyer Closing Costs

Business concept Hand hold white paper house and money broker background.

One set of costs that will quickly become significant to you when you’re purchasing a home is buyer closing costs. Closing costs are the variety of fees charged to you by those involved in the sales transaction. Typically, these costs run from 2 to 4 percent of the sales price, but vary with geographical location and your unique situation. (more…)

Money Matters: How to Sell Your Home Quickly in a Buyer’s Market

Q: I recently accepted a job in a city that’s two hours away from where my husband and I currently live. Since he works from a home office, we decided to put our home up for sale next month and move to where my new job is located. (more…)

Improve your Home’s Sale-ability by De-Cluttering

uncluttered bedroom

There are several strategies available to make your house more appealing to potential buyers. These quick fixes don’t cost much money and can improve the value of your home. An easy way increase your home’s sale-ability is to remove excess furniture and items and de-clutter. (more…)

The Difference Between Appraisals and Assessments

houses and finance

Many people think appraisals and assessments are the same thing or at least that they should be for the same amount. The truth is they can vary greatly. Let’s look at each of them.


An appraisal is an estimate of market value. An appraiser can use many methods for coming up with this estimate. For income producing property, the appraiser may capitalize the value of the income stream. (It would take “x” dollars of capital invested at a “y” rate of return to produce an income equal to the rental income generated by this property.) For other properties, an appraiser may use “replacement value.” (It would cost “x” dollars to build this structure if it were being built today.)

Appraisers usually use “comparable sales” when evaluating the market value of a home. They look at nearby properties with similar characteristics, which have sold in the recent past to see at what price they sold. They typically give the most weight to the property they deem to be most like the property they are appraising.

Buyers and sellers generally encounter appraisals when the buyer’s lender has an appraiser make an evaluation of the market value of the property being sold. The lender wants to be sure of the value of the collateral for the loan. An interesting feature that comes into play in this situation is that one indication of value is at what price two unrelated parties will agree to buy and sell the same property. In other words, what is the contract price the seller and buyer of this property agreed on (if they are not relatives).


An assessment is the value your local government puts on your property for the purpose of taxing it. How this value is derived varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some communities say the value is the same as market value. Some say the value is a percentage of market value. Some appear to actually do what they say they do, and some do not.

I was once a partner in an investment property that we were offering for sale at the time the county re-assessed it. Imagine my annoyance when the assessment came in at one hundred and forty percent of the offer price. We weren’t dummies. The partners were real estate professionals. I appealed the re-assessment, but my appeal was turned down. I offered to sell the property at the assessed price to the appraiser the county had hired to handle the appeals when he was telling me why he could not reduce our assessment. He did not take me up on my offer. Our property sold at the listed price months later. We had paid six months’ taxes on the property at a higher than market value.

On another occasion I helped some elderly people sell a farm they’d lived in all their adult lives. The farm sold for a price a great deal higher than the value at which it had been assessed.

I believe the two examples are fairly typical. Many jurisdictions will “puff up” assessments for businesses and investors and “low ball” assessments for people who have lived in their homes for a long time. Sometimes there are formulas at law office of robin jacobs for doing this. “Land use” is one such concept, i.e., the property is taxed at its value as a farm and the fact that it is ripe for dense residential and commercial development is ignored or deferred. Sometimes there are no formulas. It is just done.

For these reasons, it is usually not a good idea to put too much credence in the assessed value of a property when you are trying to figure out market value. They may be the same. They may be vastly different.

Top 4 Home Improvements to Pump Up Your Homes Value

Asian style jacuzzi in spa room

When you want to improve your home’s worth or prepare to sell, consider doing one or two of these top 4 home improvements.

Re-do the bathroom. 

According to the statistics, you’re most likely to get the largest percentage of return of your investment with a bathroom remodel. So anything you do to update or re-do your bathroom will increase your home’s value.

  • If you have just one bathroom, add another one to your
  • You can improve buyer interest by installing double sinks in the master
  • If your bathrooms are in pretty good shape, consider adding some specialty
  • A quick and inexpensive fix to get your bathrooms up to snuff is to install new faucets and other

Remodel the kitchen.

Undergoing a kitchen remodel is another way to earn back a higher percentage of your remodel investment upon the sale of your home. If you can’t do a thorough remodel or you don’t need it, consider these suggestions:

  • Replace old appliances and lighting with new energy efficient appliances and
  • Re-face cabinet
  • Install tile

Add or re-create functional spaces. 

Think about how you can add functional spaces to your home.

  • Build on a family room to grab potential buyers’
  • Turn space you already have in a basement into a family room or bedroom
  • Remodeling your attic into a huge master suite greatly enhances your home’s

Make energy-efficient changes.

As the public’s interest in living green grows, think about installing or adding energy efficient changes throughout your home inside and

  • Switch out all your windows to energy efficient
  • Installing a new roof is a great way to help your home’s value and save dollars for heating and air
  • If you really want to appeal to those interested in saving the planet, installing solar panels to provide solar energy will definitely improve your home’s

These improvements will beautify your home, increase your pleasure while you’re living in it, and make it more valuable and attractive to potential buyers if you should decide to sell it.

Chicago Just Might Blow You Away

The Windy City is full of more than just, well, air. Chicago is the heart and soul of America’s Midwest, the country’s third largest city behind New York and Los Angeles, and claims some of the most recognizable architectural monuments of American tradition and culture, such as historic Wrigley Field and the Sears Tower. Chicago’s skyline is one of the most recognizable in the United States and the soulful sounds of this city are some of the most recognizably influential all over the world.

Chicago is situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, making it both a strategic economic port city and a lifeline into America’s heartland. A wave of European immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries made the city a true iconic melting pot for the country as a whole. Additionally, Chicago has roughly equal populations of Caucasians and African Americans and the second largest population of Chicanos behind Los Angeles. This multicultural identity adds unparalleled flavor to Chicago cuisine, art community and, of course, political history. Remember, Chicago is the site of the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention where riots ensued in the streets and extreme police force was employed.

Dust it off, Try Again and Flourish

The architectural sophistication of Chicago can largely be attributed to the zeal with which Chicagoans bounced back following the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The world’s first skyscraper was constructed from the ashes and Chicagoans proceeded to firmly commit themselves to preservation, which is why you will have the privilege to view the abundance of historic buildings lining the streets. Take a Loop Tour Train to see most of the significant sites while a guide from the Chicago Architectural Foundation makes note of their attributes. Lincoln Park is a massive artery of Chicago’s culture, history and greenery and a wonderful place to begin exploring the city’s infinite expanses. Don’t miss the Lincoln Zoo and the Notebaert Nature Museum. Also keeping Chicago notable in history books, Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, is the birthplace of Earnest Hemmingway and the home of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chicago Blues and Comedy Troupes

There is no better way to put it except that Chicago has soul. The life of the city pulses on jazz beats and blues progressions, impromptu improv and carefully worked theater. The Second City Comedy Troupe is the original home of Saturday Night Live and also offers a packed house of laughs on a consistent schedule. Along the Chicago River, the Civic Opera Building (1929) is home to the world famous Lyric Opera of Chicago and is notably the second largest theater in the United States. In a city that invented house music, gave birth to techno and is exploding with jazz clubs, your evenings will never leave you wanting.

To take in the whole of Chicago, the proper way is from above. To top off your experience when you travel to Chicago, visit the historic skydeck of the Sears Tower or revel in the 94th floor panoramic views of the Hancock Observatory, which also offers a delightful touch of live jazz on the weekends. Travel to Chicago and discover the blue-collar workingman’s origin of the American Dream, laced with all of the trimmings of progressive modernism.

Practical Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer


The decision to go from renter to homeowner is a big one. When you own your own home there are a lot of responsibilities, but there are also a lot of benefits. Buying a home for the first time can be intimidating. The reason it’s daunting is because, for most individuals, it’s the single largest purchase they’re ever going to make. (more…)