House Viewing Etiquette

home-viewing-etiquetteGoing to check out homes for the first time with your Realtor can is a very exciting process. It’s fun seeing a different houses with unique layout plans and design schemes. There is a certain etiquette that should be upheld while on the hunt for the perfect house. More often than not, the person currently living in the house is the one selling it. It’s best to start out on the right foot to avoid any potential problems in the future. On average, buyers generally view between 8 to 10 homes before purchasing a home. 

Criticism 

Sometimes the tenants will remain in the home during the viewing. Remember to be courteous. If you don’t like their color scheme or their decorations it’s best not to say so in front of them. It may not be your taste but they like it and it’s rude to insult their things while it’s still their home. Besides, these things can be changed later if you decide to buy it.   

Time

It is understandable that with work and school it can be difficult to find the time to find a new home. Please be considerate of the people still living in the home. Setting a super early or late viewing time isn’t always possible. Your viewings will be based off of the tenants preferences. Be sure to let your agent know if you’re going to be late so they can let the tenants know and they’re not just sitting around waiting. Also, if you’re not a serious buyer let’s not waste the owner’s or your agent’s time. Wait until you are actually in the market to buy. Chances are the house won’t even be there when you’re ready to buy anyway. 

Children and Friends

If you don’t need to bring them, don’t. As adorable as they are, small kids don’t know how to look at things without using their hands. It won’t be in your best interest if your child breaks something important to the owner. The only people coming to a viewing should be the decision makers. Your friends and Uncle Sam can see the house after you’ve moved into it. This benefits you in the end. Too many opinions and distractions can make the process more difficult than it needs to be. 

Photos

After seeing house after house it can all start to blur together. I recommend bringing a notepad to make notes on each house. Pictures are better than words but it’s important to ask permission before you take any shots. Some people want their privacy to be protected.

Be Considerate

Some people will be offended if you sit on their furniture. If the house has been staged, the beds may not even be real. It’s also understandable that mother nature will strike while you’re viewing but ask before you go. The water may not be turned on and you won’t be able to flush. It’ll be awkward for you and annoying to the owner. It’s appropriate to open closets and drawers to see if they function properly and offer the amount of space you want but do not go through their belongings. 

House Stalking

If you’re serious about putting an offer in, it’s alright to schedule a second showing to feel more confident about the purchase but after the third or fourth the seller may start to get nervous. Once you’re under contract, don’t just show up at the house whenever you want. You will still need to have your Realtor schedule a showing. 

Communicate with your Realtor

If you have any questions or concerns talk to your Realtor. Always use your Realtor to communicate with the seller and the listing agent. Always have your agent present when you check out a new construction property. The agent works for the builder and won’t get you the best possible deal you deserve. For the same reason, if you see a house you like have your Realtor call the number on the sign. 

This is all mostly common sense but it’s nice to have a reminder every now and again. Just be respectful and you’ll do just fine. If you need help finding a Realtor, I am more than happy to assist you with that. Feel free to contact me and I’ll connect you with someone that will take care of you. 

Beverly James

Blogger/ Consultant

503.544.8704

J_bev@yahoo.com

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Open House: My Experience

My first open house went very well. About 15 people showed up! I offered to hold it for a successful team in my brokerage to get more clients. The house had been recently remodeled by the previous owners. It was located in a gorgeous community in Federal Way. Just minutes away from a golf course, a park, and multiple shopping centers; I knew it would sell fast and generate a lot of traffic.

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I found out about the open house 3 days before I was supposed to hold it so I started marketing it immediately. The listing agent posted the information about the open house on the multiple listing service. The sellers had hired a professional photographer to get pictures of the property that were gorgeous. The listing agents gave me permission to use those. I included them in my flyers, which I passed out to neighbors the day before the open. As of 2016, 78% of Americans have a social media account so I also posted them to Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. I also created a blog on my process of preparing for the open. I brought 7 directional signs that I placed in spots that I thought would be seen the most.

The open started at 1 and 5 minutes after I had my first guests come through. They were the next door neighbors and they were curious to see all of the renovations that happened. They were blown away by how different it looked inside. They said it looked like a brand new house. The young couple stayed and chatted for a few minutes. I asked them, as I did the rest of the guests that came through, what they liked about the house and if there was anything they would like to change about it. I think it’s important to get feedback and to try to be original. Most people attend more than one open house, especially if they don’t have a realtor. There was another open happening a couple cul de sacs away at the same time. I like to give them a reason to remember me above the rest.

After the first couple left, I started to get nervous. No one was coming! Forty minutes went by before the next couple came through. They were a lovely couple interested in buying and they didn’t have an agent. I was thrilled but I reigned it in. They really liked the house but it wasn’t quite what they were looking for. We exchanged phone numbers and made a plan to meet back up after the open to check out other houses in the neighborhood. I was so excited. Someone very successful once told me that his business was built off of open houses and now I could see how.

After that I stayed busy. There were multiple groups of people coming all at the same time. It was difficult trying to make sure I talked to everyone that came in. Some people slipped through the cracks, unfortunately, but I made some good connections and got a lot of contacts. Most of the people had really nice things to say about the house. One man thought it was overpriced and thought the unique layout was “stupid.” It was interesting to get everyone’s input because people are just so different.

I learned that it’s important to know as much about the property as possible. One couple asked me if the gate marked the end of the property line or if it extended beyond and I was unsure. I pulled up the map but it wasn’t very clear so I had to contact the listing manager to be sure. Thankfully, the couple was happy to let me find out and get back to them with the info. I also learned that people appreciate it when you ask their opinion. Asking them what they liked about the place really got them to open up and share their preferences. They got really excited talking about what they would like to see done with the place and put their spin on it. It was fun to meet all of these people and talk about real estate. I am definitely looking forward to my next open house.

If you’re in need of a Realtor in Pierce County, please contact me. I work closely with two other women that love to help people sell and buy houses. Feel free to contact me!

wp-1483839903028.jpgBeverly James

503.544.8704

J_bev@yahoo.com

Consultant/ Blogger

5 Cheap Staging Tips

The house selling process involves more steps than most people realize. It’s important to hire a Realtor that has a thorough marketing plan with different strategies to sell your home. One important strategy is staging. Often times home owners want to skip the step of staging their home when they decide to sell it. In some cases, this can cost you a lot of money. Homes that are staged sell quicker and for more money than those that aren’t. It will cost you a little up front but the return you’ll get from the sale will make up for it.

Last month I showed a young couple two houses back to back in a Federal Way neighborhood. The houses were very similar in it’s floor plan and had the same amenities. The first house was clean, but completely empty. The couple thought it was nice but they weren’t wowed by it. The second house had been staged. It had a different feel to it; homier. The couple was impressed by this house. They said they could see themselves living there and that’s the goal. You want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living their life there. It’s easier to do when there’s furniture and decor inside.

Here’s some basic tips to help you get started.


Clean.

The obvious isn’t always obvious to everyone. I’ve seen houses that have filthy floors, streaky windows, and cobwebs in the corners. The house isn’t new but you want it to look that way. If you’re not a fan of cleaning hire someone. Just make sure it gets done.

Depersonalize. 

Personal effects can be distracting and make some people feel uncomfortable. Remove any photos, religious symbols, sports team gear, and children’s artwork. These items may be great for you but you don’t want the buyer to be thinking about walking through a strangers house as they see your stuff.

De-clutter.

Too much stuff in a room can make it seem smaller. This goes for furniture, wall art, and plants. Prospective buyers will look everywhere so hiding stuff in the closets and cabinets isn’t recommended. Since you’re in the process of moving this should be something you’re doing anyway. Ideally, you want to pack away anything you won’t need to use in the immediate 30 to 60 days. I know whenever I move I have to take a couple trips to a donation center to get rid of the stuff I no longer use.

Remove odors.

It’s more than just making the house look nice. You want it to smell clean as well. Clean the litter box. Empty the diaper genie. Take out the garbage. Your may not smell anything but someone who hasn’t adjusted to the scents will. Open the windows to air the place out. If you’re really want to impress, bake some fresh cookies a few minutes before a showing. Good smells entice good memories and after looking at houses all week, buyers will need the help keeping your house top of mind.

Neutralize and give purpose.

It’s important that every room has it’s own use. Rearrange the furniture in such a way that it appeals to buyers. When they walk in, it should be obvious that this room is the bedroom and this room is the study. If you haven’t given the walls a fresh coat a paint, I highly suggest you go out and buy some. The walls should be calm, relaxing colors. The bright pink bedroom may be great for your 3 year old but not so much for the 16 year old boy that wants to claim it. And yes, that is a real example. It may be a little tough but it is best to take as much of your personality that you put into the house out. This makes it easier for the next family.

Beverly James

Blogger

My Experience Preparing an Open House for 12/18

I’ve already learned a lot from simply preparring for my first open house. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. I made several rookie mistakes that I will probably always remember. Let me start from the beginning though.

I volunteered to hold an open house for a pretty successful team in my brokerage. I figured it would be a good opportunity to get in front of people and hopefully find some people to trust me with one of the biggest investments of their life. No pressure, right? 

The property had just been listed the day before so I was finally able to preview the property on the MLS. I gathered the professional pictures they had taken of the property and picked out my favorites. Now it was time for the fun part; designing flyers! Something of value with my name on it that I could hand out to people. After designing the first one, I caught sight of another template that caught the eye even more than the other. It made sense that I should make another one to compare. In the end, I found myself with 5 different layouts with basically the same exact information and about an hour of time wasted. To convince myself that I had spent my time well, I printed a few of each design to use.

Next thing on my to do list was to see the house in person. I gathered the open house signs that I borrowed from a family member and made the 30 minute trip to Federal Way. The property is located in a nice community with culdesacs and seniors taking their morning walks. The landscaping was done with care and the houses looked to be in good shape. Finding the property was easy but I had to double check the address when I saw 5 cars parked right outside. I should have known it would have a lot of traffic. It’s a new listing in a nice neighborhood at a decent price. Of course buyers are going to want to check it out immediately. I popped my head in for a couple of minutes but didn’t want to intrude on any potential buyers imagining their life there, so I left to go door knock.

At first, the idea of knocking on a stranger’s door seemed frightening but having something in hand to give to them, and kind of pull their attention away from me, made the process seem easier somehow. I was coming from a place of contribution. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. That faded shortly after I realized most people just won’t open there doors. Not because they weren’t home or just didn’t hear the doorbell. I watched a few people move the blinds to peak at me, then go back to whatever they were doing before I interrupted. There was even a lady that yelled at me to get off her property from behind her door. I lost count at how many doors I knocked, but only about a fourth of them were opened. Next time I’ll try a different time because noon on a Friday clearly wasn’t the right time.

After making my rounds, I set off on the mission to place my signs. I had absolutely no idea where to start.It was obvious that the signs needed to be placed in a clear path that would direct traffic to the house without issue but the actual spot to place them in gave me trouble. I decided only to put the signs next to stop signs and street sign posts because I didn’t want any of the property owners to get upset. Thankfully there were pleanty of those near by. Some of the spots still made me wonder if I’d get an angry home owner coming to the open house to demand the removal of my signs. Agents put out signs all of the time though, so I chopped it up to my brain overreacting and decided my work for the day was done.

Upon arriving in Puyallup, I tell my realtor family member about my day. She’s quick to inform me that the city will snatch up her signs if I leave them there for more than a few hours. I rack my brain, trying to remember a class or a video I watched that brought up the rules of signs but I can’t. How did I not know those signs could only be up the day of the open, not 2 days beforehand? Back to Federal Way I went. Lessons were learned. The open house is on the 18th. I’m sure to learn even more, hopefully, while wasting less gas and time. I’d love to see you there.

Downtown Puyallup

I moved to Puyallup about 6 months ago and fell in love with this town. It’s absolutely gorgeous in the summer. When the skies are clear, you can get a view of Mount Rainier from practically anywhere. I love watching the leaves turn to these brilliant red and oranges in the fall. The Washington is an incredible place to live, especially if you love nature.

I often frequent downtown Puyallup, where you can find basically anything you need. The best part is everything is close together and in walking distance. A lot of times I will just find a spot to park for few hours and go exploring.

There’s quite a few small businesses downtown that are ran by the locals, which is always great to see. The Puyallup Farmer’s Market reopens in April and goes until mid October. There are tons of goodies to be found there, such as baked goods, handcrafted jewelry, and fresh picked fruits and veggies. Come support your community and buy local. Besides all of the cool finds, you’ll also meet some interesting people to chat with. Meet the vendors and check out what they have to offer. Grab a bite at a food cart and take a stroll through the Pioneer Park Pavilion. Let your kids go nuts in the splash pad area and climb on the jungle gyms. It’s a beautiful area to relax in;You’ll find nothing but good vibes here. The Puyallup Public Library is located right next door. They often have activities going on like Play to Learn and Story Time for the kids. Check out a good book and enjoy a cup of coffee from Anthem, the coffee and tea shop across the street.

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A few minutes down the road you’ll find the Washington State Fair grounds. In the fall, the festivities go on from September 2nd to the 25th. In the spring, it’s much shorter, going from April 20th to April 23rd. Children 5 and under receive free admission. Students and seniors receive a discounted price. Parking ranges from 10 to 15 bucks so if you have to drive, I recommend parking a few blocks away and walking. The friendly people that live next to the fair grounds often open up their yards for parking at a smaller fee. There’s something for the whole family to enjoy at the fair. There’s often free musical entertainment. You’ll find all types of rides and carnival games for all ages. There’s even animal attractions where you can see pigs, horses, turkeys, goats, and so much more.

pigs

There’s also a variety of bars and restaurants to choose from for your night out. Bumpy’s and TK Irish Pub are popular spots for the locals to occupy. They both have daily specials and a happy hour menu. If you’re looking for a less dive-ish style bar, there’s also Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila Bar, which is one of my personal favorites. Free chips and a salsa bar! There’s also Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery which offers a delicious German Pretzel and cheese as an appetizer.

You’ll find Aylen Junior High and Puyallup High School located downtown as well. Sparks Stadium, where the football games are held, is a few blocks away. There’s the post office, the police station, the Puyallup Train Station, and a few banks as well. Puyallup is a great town to live in. Come check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Download my app to see what houses are on the market in Puyallup, or anywhere in North America.

Open House Musts

First impressions mean everything. The house should be set up in the best possible lighting. Everything should be clean and organized. Here are some basic tips to help you have a successful open house.

No owners. First and foremost, all occupants of the house should leave for the duration of the open house. It’s hard for potential buyers to envision themselves living in the house if the current owner is there. It can also be uncomfortable for the owner to watch other people go through their cabinets and closets.

Remove pets. For the pets and the people coming to the house. Animals often get stressed when strangers are in their home, especially when their owner isn’t home. Some people also suffer from allergies. Other people generally just don’t like animals, for some reason or another, and they could be less willing to stay and look at the house if there’s a little creature stalking them.

Put down the toilet lid. I don’t think this one needs explaining. No one wants to look in your dirty bowl. Just close it.

Clean everything. Take a good look around the house. Really take it all in. Wipe down all of the counter tops and vacuum all of the floors. Notice any cobwebs in the corners? Do you see spotty windows? Are there little crayon marks or food smears on the wall? Take care of it. Not only will the house look nicer clean, but clean things usually don’t give off an odor. If you have cats make sure there litter box is clean. Empty the garbage can frequently. Open the windows and let some fresh air in. The little things that you don’t notice will not be missed by the critical eye of potential buyers.

Organize. I have seen people cram so much of their belongings into closets and cabinets that the doors won’t even shut. It creates the illusion that the space is smaller than it actually is. People are going to look everywhere to see how much space there is and to be sure everything is working properly. It’s best to pack up whatever you won’t need. Store your child’s/pet’s toys in a toy box. Find a small container to organize your toiletries and keep your make up in a make up bag. Keeping your items organized not only makes a room look bigger but it makes it easier for people to look without disturbing any of your belongings.

The outside matters too. It’s the first thing people see when they pull up. Cut the grass and pull the weeds. Some nice flowers in the front most certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Power washing the grime of the sidewalks and the house can truly make a huge difference as well. Make sure the gutters aren’t overflowing with leaves and the

Lighting is important. All of the lights should be turned on and all of the blinds should be open. Doing this makes the house look more inviting.

Secure all valuables. Some people are not trustworthy. If you leave your rainy day fund sitting on the counter or leave a laptop out on the bed, there’s no guarantee it will still be there when it’s all said and done. Lock your valuables in a safe or just take them with you so there’s no worry. Better safe than sorry, right?

I hope this information helps you have a great open house! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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Owning vs Renting

It goes without saying that a house purchase is a big deal. Owning a home is a huge milestones you pass in your journey through life. Being able to have something that you own and can do with it what you please is an amazing feeling. With that being said, both renting and buying can have their advantages. It really depends on your circumstances and where you are in life. Do you think your ready for the responsibility of owning your very own house? If you’re buying it with a partner, can your relationship handle the extra stresses of dealing with a new house? Do you, yourself, even know what you want in a house? Do you know what area you want it to be in? If something breaks, are you going to know what to do?These are tough questions but you should definitely be asking them before signing any contracts!

Finances

Unless you are buying a house outright, which let’s face it, who has at least 200 grand just lying around, you’re going to need a loan. If you are a qualified US veteran, you aren’t required to put down a down-payment. Most people will have to put down some money up front, typically 20 percent, and pay the rest off monthly over a span of 5 to 30 years, depending on how well off you are. It takes time to save up that kind of money. It also takes time to fix, or even build up, your credit but it is doable. It’s popular belief that if you’re credit isn’t perfect you can’t buy a house and that just isn’t true. If you’re applying for a FHA loan, you’re credit score can be at least 580, but in some cases they will except lower scores. For a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, your credit score must be at least 620.

If you don’t have the funds to put down a down-payment or to cover closing costs, then renting could be the better option while you’re saving up. Another nice thing about renting is that if something breaks down, you don’t have to pay for it. Some places even have 24/7 on-call maintenance, which is really nice.

The downside is, in most areas the rent will increase every time you renew your lease. Personally, I hate having to pay more to live in the same spot. I’d much rather be able to build equity and have a safety net myself.

Stability

If you have a job that often requires you to relocate, renting would probably be better for you. Most people live in their houses for at least 5 to 7 years. It’s important to find a spot that you feel comfortable in. You also have to ask yourself if you’re willing to devote your time and money into keeping up the house. It can be fun but also a lot of work. Buying a house requires you to think ahead. It would be in your best interest to sit down with a pen and paper, write down your goals, and explore your options. There’s a handy mortgage calculator located on the home page of my site that can give you a general idea of what your monthly payments would be like. Feel free to download my app as well. If renting is cheaper than a mortgage payment, you might want to wait to buy a house. Put the extra money toward college expenses or vacations. Owning a house isn’t for everyone. It’s up to you to decide what is best for your lifestyle.