Benefits to Employing a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Unless you’re an expert in the field, you would normally call a professional to fix any malfunctioning systems in your home, like plumbing or electrical work. Wouldn’t you want the same level of care and expertise when it came time to sell?

Whatever your reasons for wanting to sell your house, it never hurts to seek a professional opinion. After all, this is one of your greatest investments! When you move on to a new adventure, you’ll want an experienced real estate agent to help you close one chapter of your homeownership history and begin the next.

Getting a second opinion

Just like with any other aspect of homeownership and maintaining your property, you want to make sure you always have the most informed person on the case when you’re selling your home. Most often, that means hiring a seasoned real estate agent to give you feedback and to add a professional point-of-view during every major decision you’ll have to make. At the end of the day, you’ll be looking at the sale in terms of what works for you in the moment, but an agent will be able to see the bigger picture because he or she has seen similar situations time and again. With an informed second opinion to supplement your own, the sale of your house should go over as smoothly as possible, with everyone’s best interests at heart.

Using a middle-man 

Let’s face it – not all of us are meant to go head-to-head in a bidding war, or to negotiate with the best. Selling your house doesn’t always look like this, but it can come close! Having a trained real estate agent in your corner can only benefit you in this arena. When you hire the best, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of the back-and-forth that sometimes ensues; instead you get to share that task with someone who’s been educated in the best methods of resolving potential conflict.

Accessing insider information

If real estate isn’t your area of expertise, selling your home by yourself can seem daunting. There’s a learning curve involved, and while you’re fielding property questions, buyers’ requests, and legal documents, you can’t always accommodate without missing out on the best deal for you and your house. Luckily, your real estate agent is a wealth of information, and just waiting to answer your questions and lend you a hand! When you have all the insider information at your disposal, it just makes sense to let the real estate agent do what he or she does best, so you can focus on your own to-do list along the way.

Whether you’re ready to begin the selling process, or need a bit longer to consider, the highly qualified Intracoastal Realty team is here to help! Contact us to find out what our real estate agents can do for you.


Where the Heart Is: How to Cope with the Emotional Aspects of Selling Your Home

Crown molding, those pencil marks in the doorframe of your kitchen denoting a child’s growing height, the nick in the wall from when you tried to rearrange your piano’s placement in the den: a home comprises all of these memories and more when you’ve owned it for a few years.

It isn’t always easy to pack and move, especially when you get to reminiscing about all that’s happened in your home, but you aren’t alone. Because the purchase of a house is as much an emotional investment as it is a financial one, many sellers experience some difficulty in picking up their roots and moving on after the last of the paperwork is signed, even if they’re relocating for a positive reason. But there are a few ways you can help you and your family feel more at ease with change, and therefore more open to starting over in a new home.

Making space

When you make a house your own, you end up pouring a lot of yourself into the framework: your personal tastes, family memorabilia, and even moods. As you start to pack your belongings and plan out your move, take a few moments to pick your favorite decorating choices in your current house that you want to carry over in the new one. You don’t have to recreate every room as it was, but sometimes incorporating a few characteristics can help you ease into an unfamiliar setting more comfortably. And, if you can visualize your personal items in their new homes, it stands to reason that you can picture yourself there, too.

Photographic memories

If you’ve lived somewhere for a significant amount of time, you’ve probably taken pictures of countless get-togethers, holidays, and the day-to-day moments that happened there. When the thought of leaving the actual house behind starts to wear you down, take some time to gather all of those snapshots and put them somewhere safe. This can mean arranging them in a photo album, or scanning them to a laptop, or as simple as placing them in a labeled shoebox; as long as you have them at the ready, you can always revisit your former home and those happy occasions.

Compare and contrast

And if fond memories aren’t helping to make the transition from one home to the next any easier, consider comparing the benefits and drawbacks of each to give you a little perspective. Is there a room that’s always felt small, that maybe has a larger counterpart in your new house? Perhaps you don’t get very much natural light in your living room, but you’re looking forward to a different set-up after the move. Making the moving process easier for everyone is a matter of focusing on these positive changes instead of dwelling on the aspects of your house that you will miss.

Moving somewhere new can get stressful, and it’s easy to miss a place you’ve been for some time, but the team here at Intracoastal Realty encourages you to think positively about your new experiences! Stay tuned to our blog for more tips, or contact our offices to find out more about selling your home with our agents.


Seasonal Tips for Home Staging in the Fall

In southeastern North Carolina, summer warmth and sunshine lingers well into September, giving us more opportunities to take advantage of our close proximity to the sand and surf. But after Labor Day, homes and businesses still tend to begin making the transition to autumnal décor, and pumpkin spice flavor starts cropping up in every tasty treat imaginable – hotter temperatures or no, fall is definitely on the way!

When you put your house on the market around this time of year, you want to make sure that your home is ready to meet the scrutiny of potential buyers relocating to the area with fall weather on the brain. Since selling in the off-season is highly recommended, your team of real estate agents and experts have a few pointers for staging your home for successful fall viewings!

Subtle hints

A little can go a long way, especially since your potential buyers will obviously be able to see that our coastal region doesn’t dive straight into chillier temperatures and crisp autumn days. Instead of overwhelming them with too much fall-themed décor, take the subtle route. Light candles with hints of cinnamon and pine needles, or add a warm-toned throw to your living room setup. You don’t have to constantly keep a fire blazing in your fireplace, or douse every room with the scent of fallen leaves and campfires; just create a welcoming, cozy atmosphere that your buyers can easily see themselves hunkering down into when the real cold weather moves in on the region.

Outer appearances

When you’re trying to show your home during the fall season, it doesn’t really work out well if your front yard still looks as though summer is in full swing. That being said, we don’t want anyone to feel as though they need to level their lawn just to sell the house! We recommend instead making use of colorful flowers and bushes that convey vitality, while downplaying the green grass that you’ll probably still be enjoying later on in the month. Mums, burning bush, and witch-hazels are just a few examples of plants you can integrate into your outdoor scene to coax fall into the mix.

Transitioning seasons

As you set up your home to emulate a warm, fall atmosphere, remember that a steady transition from one season to the next can be a welcome sight for buyers coming to view the house. Remember that the process of buying a home can be just as stressful – if not sometimes more so – than selling one, so bombarding them with Halloween paraphernalia and strongly scented potpourri probably won’t help endear them to your house. Instead, start switching up colors and outdoor plants now, then move into more noticeable changes as you get closer to the official start of fall.

There are plenty of ways to help make each season compliment the many aspects of your home, and autumn is no exception! As you incorporate some of these practices into your style and routine, be sure to add a personal flare for you and your family to enjoy until it’s time to pack it all away and move to your next residence. And for more helpful seller’s tips, be sure to stay tuned to Intracoastal Realty’s blog updates!


How to Prep for Moving Day

The boxes are packed (mostly), closets and drawers have been swept for anything that can be thrown away or donated, and everything else is waiting for you in your new home elsewhere; it must be moving day!

But as exciting as it is to leave one home and embrace a whole new experience, there is at least one aspect of the process that tends to fill every homeowner with some measure of dread: moving day. Before the stress of a lost family heirloom or box full of broken glasses comes crashing in on your exciting new start, take a breather and check out a few hints the staff at Intracoastal Realty have put together to help you prep for moving day.

Keep everyone in the loop

The best step you can take to prevent a chaotic moving day is to make sure everyone is in on the plan. Whether it entails confirming the route to get to the new house, figuring out who is riding with whom, or simply teaming up to do one last sweep of the old house before you all leave, it’s important that everyone is on the same page before the big day.

Do as much as you can in advance

The early bird gets the worm; or, in the case of moving, the early bird stands less of a chance of having to do damage control. The more you can do in advance – start packing the items you know won’t be needed between now and the day you move into your new home, set up forwarding addresses, find the right school for the kids – the more you can focus on the tasks at hand when you’re loading up the moving van.

Establish a schedule

Even something like packing up your belongings can be structured into a schedule of sorts to help make things easier on you. If you’re using a moving company, be sure to have a clear idea of when the movers will arrive, how long they expect to take, and by when you have to be on the road in order to make good time on your drive. With a clear outline and deadlines for every step of the way, you can make moving day a simple matter of putting boxes on a truck.

Level the playing field

On the day of, accidents could still happen, and through no one’s fault, something could come up and deter your moving day progress. That’s why it helps to have a plan in place for some of the instances that make you the most nervous. It may not stop you from accidentally leaving something sentimental behind, or prevent damage befalling your favorite end table, but solid contingency plans can go a long way in bringing you peace of mind.

While we can’t guarantee your moving day will go off without a hitch, we do think you’ll find these tips to be helpful stepping stones as you get closer and closer to settling into your new home. If you’re ready to relocate, contact Intracoastal Realty to find out more about getting started with us!


Breaking Down the Zestimate

When it comes to purchasing a new home, or selling the one in which you currently reside, the initial process can be confusing and overwhelming until you get the assistance of a good real estate professional.  So, it stands to reason that when beginning the process, buyers and sellers might do some preliminary research using a third-party site like Zillow.

Zillow is known for price estimates, both for buyers and renters, as well as providing limited community information for those who have never visited the neighborhood. On the outside, it seems like a handy resource when dipping a toe into the waters of real estate.  However, the property information and price estimates are often inaccurate, which can create major issues for buyers and sellers.  In other words, if you decide to use these big third-party websites, proceed with caution or forgo them altogether and get accurate data from a trusted, local real estate website and resource.

When you need assistance in your pursuit of the perfect home, there are several reasons to turn to an established agency with local knowledge and experienced real estate agents on its side. Otherwise, you may find yourself relying on the Zestimate, a computer-generated estimate that is not always the best measure of a home’s value.  Zillow knows this, and discloses this in small print on their site.

How is the Zestimate made?

As Zillow states, the Zestimate is meant only as an expression of the estimated market value, not an actual appraisal. The site is actually a computer program that automatically generates its report based on what is available to anyone: data and statistics that can be accessed with relative ease by the general public. As such, the program doesn’t take into account the additions you or its previous owner might have added while in residence. This can affect the Zestimate, putting the home at a lower or higher value depending on the extent of repairs or damage.

In Southeastern NC, we’ve seen Zestimates on some properties be off by as much as 45%.  For illustration purposes, evan a 15% margin of error on a $400,000 home results in a difference of $60,000 in value!  Further, the same algorithm to estimate the value of a home in a Detroit suburb is used to estimate the value of a home on the water in our region.  That’s pretty telling, isn’t it?

Even more telling is this article, which features information about the home of Zillow’s founder and CEO.  The day before his home sold for $1.05 million, the Zestimate for his property showed $1.75 million.  Need we say more?

How can your agency help clear the air?

When it comes time to sell or buy a home, don’t always trust that the Zestimate has given your house enough credit for what it’s worth.  Instead, broach the subject with a trusted real estate agent.  He or she can walk you through the criteria in further detail, help you get a professional appraisal and, for sellers, pull a list of comparable properties that have recently sold.  And while Zillow does have access to area information to prep you and your family for relocation, a local real estate agent has the insider knowledge that can never be replaced by statistics alone.

When it comes to your home, whether you’re buying or selling one, it’s important to have all the information available to you. With the help of well-established agencies like Intracoastal Realty, you can be sure you’ll have all you need to get settled. Contact us today to help you with the process!


House Flipping Tips and Tricks

You’ve heard the success story: a worn-down eyesore, an optimistic buyer, and a quick transformation followed by an even faster sale. Flipping houses can be a lucrative occupation, but it certainly isn’t an easy feat. If you’re interested in trying your hand in the market, you’ll want to keep a few insider tips in mind.

Don’t go it alone

From buying, to the renovations, and then to the actual sale of your project, it helps to have some experienced professionals on your side to help streamline the process. And if you’ve never tried to flip a house before, it’s even more important to have a helping hand or two at your disposal. Build your team by talking to real estate agents, contractors, and other seasoned homeowners you can trust to point you in the right direction.

Shop wisely

While it’s always incredible to watch a run-down property be remodeled into a functioning home again, be sure that you can put your money where your mouth is and that you don’t purchase too ambitiously. Before buying a house to flip, make a sound budget that you can easily stick to throughout the renovations. That way, you’ll know from the beginning how much you have to allot to the purchase itself and any costs incurred afterward.

Check your expectations

When the remodeling is done and you put the newly-decorated home back on the market, remember that the idea is to engage in a quick sale, not haggle over every nickel and dime. The success of house flipping lies in the ability to close each deal efficiently. As such, you probably won’t make very much off the first few sales. Don’t get discouraged! If you find that flipping houses is something you enjoy, keep a record of your successes and setbacks so that each time there are fewer surprises and more to gain!

Timing is everything

The housing market is in constant flux, so above all else, remember to be patient and time your purchases and sales accordingly! At this stage, an experienced real estate agent is your best bet in learning the ropes and optimal times for buying and selling property in your area. Flipping a house is only possible when the conditions are right for buyers, so you’ll need to catch those waves as they come.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, contact Intracoastal Realty and get connected with some of the most knowledgeable agents in the coastal North Carolina area!

 

 

 


What to Expect from Your First Home Inspection

You’re putting a house on the market for the first time, and your to-do list is probably about a mile long. One of the most important items – and a step that needs to happen sooner rather than later – is scheduling a professional inspection of your home.

Just like during the process of purchasing your next home, it’s important to know as much as possible regarding the condition of the house before you put it on the market. With a quality inspection, you can get all of the knowledge you need to work with potential buyers and settle on a fair deal for everyone.

Timing and involvement 

When you schedule a home inspection, you’ll want to go ahead and account for roughly 2-3 hours of walk-through time. It’s recommended that you stay nearby to answer any questions that might come up, and the best inspectors don’t mind if you follow along and ask some of your own as they arise. As the inspection progresses, he or she will be making enough notes to answer some preliminary questions about possible repairs and alterations, but remember that the more detailed report will be delivered soon – sometimes by the end of the business day depending on the time of your appointment. 

The report

The typical inspection report will give you a rundown of what about your house is up to current standards and what potential issues the inspector caught. The amount of detail really depends on the condition of the house; if, for example, it’s practically brand new, you probably won’t have as many damages and weakened areas to address. Older houses, those that have been through rougher weather, or the residences that were not cared for in years previous typically have more notes and ideas for improvement included in the report. The results tend to be broken down by sections of the house, such as the basement, attic, roof, crawlspace, the plumbing work, and the ventilation system. 

Next steps

As the seller, you don’t technically have to make any of the repairs suggested in the inspector’s report. However, the chances of your house selling for a desired price are higher if you do. Essentially, it all boils down to the severity of the renovations and what price range you’re hoping for with your buyer. Sometimes, your realtor can negotiate with the buyer not to include the repairs, but to drop down the asking price instead. If you’re unwilling to fix the problems before you vacate the house, this is an option to bring up with your agent from the beginning.

Putting your house on the market for the first time can be daunting, but when you have a trustworthy real estate agent on your side, the workload decreases exponentially! If you’re ready to sell your coastal home, contact us and get started today.


A Guide for First-time Home Sellers

When you don’t know what to expect, selling your first home can quickly evolve into a convoluted and frustrating process, even with a knowledgeable realtor on your side. The experts here at Intracoastal Realty have come up with a few helpful hints to walk you through the process, so you can confidently move forward with the sale.

Meet with a trusted real estate agent.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this first step to selling your home is the most important one. When you find and meet with a capable real estate agent, he or she will be able to assess your home and neighborhood, help you establish your needs and some realistic goals for the sale, and navigate the showing and closure process. You’ll probably also do a walk-through of the house to familiarize the agent with its physical attributes, as well as find a few tweaks to make in order to show off the place in the best possible light.

Set expectations, but remember to be flexible.

Just like you have items that are non-negotiable, so does each potential buyer that crosses the threshold of your home. When the residence is ready to be shown, discuss with your real estate agent potential compromising points, and outline very clearly what you absolutely cannot bend on before you assess the first offer.

Keep track.

In the lucky event that you receive multiple offers on your house, it would benefit you to have some sort of filing system so as not to confuse one buyer from another. This is also a handy way to compare and contrast offers with your real estate agent, so that when you’re ready to make the final call, you can easily glance at the profiles and pull out the pros and cons of each.

A clean home is a happy one.

Even after the initial showings have occurred, and after you have an offer or two for consideration, keep your house up to showcase standards. The nature of selling a home involves plenty of risk; your buyer’s credit may not be up to par with their chosen lender, he or she may suddenly back out of the deal, or your reason for moving may throw a wrench in the plans. To hopefully put off any unforeseen complications in obtaining another buyer – or keeping the one you have – maintain a tidy household to the very last day of your residence.

Plan accordingly.

As was already mentioned, there are countless ways that the eventual sale of your home could deviate from your carefully laid plan. But, with a skilled real estate agent on your side, you can be sure to include a few fallbacks and contingency courses of action in your general outline. It will also be helpful to plan out any major changes you want to make to improve your home’s appearance such as fresh paint, more intensive lawn work, or furniture rearrangement prior to opening your home to buyers.

Be prepared to offer extra features.  

It’s easy to claim that there are things you could do without in your current house: appliances, curtains, and other interior decorations to name a few. But when someone makes an offer that includes something you might have planned on taking with you after the sale, it’s time to make a decision regarding what you will and won’t miss. Just remember that at this point, it’s about being reasonable and rational, not necessarily emotionally invested. If someone requests the inclusion of appliances, consider the benefits and costs before refusing. By conceding a little, you might just gain a lot in the sale.

The main thing to keep in mind when you’re ready for a move and need to sell your house is that in spite of the stress that often comes with the process, it’s still an exciting change for you and yours to experience! By putting yourself in the hands of a capable and trusted real estate agent, you’ll also take some of the pressure off and gain a valuable resource to see you through the sale. If you’re ready to sell your house on North Carolina’s coast, contact us today!


Setting the Stage

When trying to sell your home, you want to make sure its best features are on display without going over-the-top or downplaying anything that could sway a potential buyer. Obviously, the exterior of a house is easier to show off in spring or summer, when the sun is out and your grass is a pleasant shade of green. But even when winter is still keeping the plant life to a minimum, the experts here at Intracoastal Realty have a few ideas to combat any lingering winter chill.

Keep everything accessible

There’s a reason the term is “spring cleaning.” But, in order to put your house’s best foot forward and get it sold, you might have to bust out the gardening gloves a little earlier than planned. The very first impression you can give is of your home’s exterior, so make it a memorable one – and in a good way, too. Clear the walkways, establish comfortable paths between shrubs and other plant life that will be returning in the spring, and in the case of snow or ice, be sure to shovel the sidewalk and steps when a potential buyer is coming over.

Timing is everything

Some homeowners like to spruce up the outdoors with some decorative lighting, even before and after the major holiday season. You can use this to your advantage if you’re trying to sell your house when the branches are more than likely bare. Strands of twinkling lights and strategically placed adornments can fill up the empty space left once the leaves fall, and go a long way in making your home look and feel warm and comforting, even when the temperatures outside say otherwise.   

Play to your strengths

Let’s face it: every house has its flaws. The advantage to selling yours in wintertime, though, is that if it’s a matter of a small yard or otherwise awkward terrain, you can go ahead and address these drawbacks openly with potential buyers while still having plenty of room without encroaching foliage to point out the positives. Take a walk around the property with your real estate agent and take stock of the pros and cons, then discuss the best ways to present them to those that come for a viewing of the house. With the right agent, any interested parties will promptly get both sides of the story, without you truly risking the sale in favor of disclosure.

No matter the time of year, putting a house on the market is always going to be a challenge. With experienced agents like those at Intracoastal Realty, you can be sure that you have someone to walk you through every step of the process. Contact us today to get started!


Professional Home Staging Can Lead to a Quicker Sale, and More Money

By Judy Royal

All the world’s a stage, including your home. If you’re planning to sell a property in the Wilmington NC real estate market, you’ll want to make it as appealing as possible to the masses with an eye-catching first impression. Cleaning and fixing that doorknob that’s been broken for years aren’t the only things you can do to get ready. Home staging is the process of preparing your residence for the marketplace with the goal of making it attractive to the highest number of potential buyers through the use of the following components: artwork, painting, furniture, accessories, lighting, greenery, and carpet. Experts agree that a professionally staged home is likely to spend less time on the market and net a higher sales price.

“The first thing it does is it gives the buyer a vision and a lifestyle of how they can live in the home,” said Lyn Manning, interior decorator and staging specialist who works with many Intracoastal Realty clients. “It just sets up a whole visual appeal. When we go in model homes we typically like the model home, and part of that is because it’s all set up to visually appeal to and emotionally grab the buyer. It shows them that lifestyle that they can have in that home and helps them decide how they can set the furniture up.”

This is especially important in homes that have floor plans with irregularities, Manning said. Professional staging can smooth those out by adding visual items that might be similar to what the new owner would incorporate. “It kind of takes away that guessing game for a buyer who has seen that raw, open space,” she added.

Staging isn’t just for empty homes, though. Many potential sellers will need to continue living in their residences while they are on the market and open to buyer showings. While Manning can provide all the furniture and decor to stage an empty property, in a lived-in space she works with what’s already there. “The challenge is to show the homeowner that less is more and get them to understand that thinning out is really necessary,” she said. “I really need to use what they have, maybe adding a few inexpensive elements to dress up what they have, and that’s a key part of this. My job is not to critique or criticize how they have lived in the home or their choice of decor.”

The home staging concept was born in 1972 when Barb Schwarz left the interior design business and went into residential real estate in Bellevue, Washington. With a background in theater, she began to suggest to sellers that they set the scene for potential buyers. In 1985, Schwarz began touring the country to teach agents and decorators about home staging and how it can be an advantage when selling a house, and in 1999 she founded the International Association of Home Staging Professionals® (IAHSP®).

About 49 percent of Realtors® who work with buyers believe staging usually has an effect on the buyer’s view of the home, and another 47 percent believe staging sometimes has an impact on a buyer’s view of the home, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 Profile of Home Staging. The report, the first of its kind from NAR, also found that Realtors® on the buyer side believe staging makes an impact in several ways: 81 percent said staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, while 46 percent said it makes prospective buyers more willing to walk through a home they saw online.

Realtors® believe that buyers most often offer a 1-5 percent increase on the value of a staged home (37 percent from Realtors® representing sellers and 32 percent from Realtors® representing buyers). Additionally, 22 percent of Realtors® representing sellers and 16 percent of Realtors® representing buyers said the increase is closer to 6-10 percent.

For an empty home, Wilmington sellers can expect to pay an average of $1,595-$1,895 for home staging, depending on how many rooms need the service, and there is also a small fee for each month the staging specialist’s items remain on the property, Manning said. The cost for a detailed consultation that uses the homeowners’ existing belongings is $125-$155, she added.

So how do you get started when you have years or maybe even decades of accumulated goods in your dwelling space? Matthew Finlason, the host of HGTV’s television series “The Stagers,” offers these 10 rules for staging homes, according to an article on HGTV’s website:

  • Grab them from the curb: Add potted plants and flowers, pressure wash patios and walkways, weed the garden, and mow the lawn.
  • Make it sparkle: Mop, dust, vacuum, wash windows, and clean baseboards, inside cupboards, under sinks, and in closets. Also, be mindful of any odors.
  • Pay attention to color and light: Neutralize strong colors for the broadest appeal, and open up blinds and draperies to ensure sufficient natural light.
  • Depersonalize: Remove excessive personal items, such as photos, collections, personal awards, and electronics.
  • Consider replacing furnishings: Think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings, and get rid of extra pieces.
  • Invest in new artwork: Breathe new life into your home with paintings and photography, which can be used to contemporize a room and add a splash of color.
  • Make repairs: Repair squeaky doors, chipped or smudged paint, and broken fixtures and fittings that you’ve neglected.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint: Refresh a dull, dated room by brushing on some neutral color.
  • Don’t forget the floors: Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new area rug may also be a quick fix.
  • Spring for new light fixtures: Renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches, and outlets.

While these tips are a good start for any seller, they cannot replace the aesthetic details a professional can impart for a perfect look that can help you grab top dollar for your property.

Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 12 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.