Real Estate Matters – July 2017


Summer Sales
It’s hard to avoid brown lawns during the summer months, but do what you can to keep things verdant and pretty. All outdoor plants should be kept watered and porches and walkways swept. If you have outdoor furniture, wipe it down. Make sure the air-conditioning is on. If you don’t have A/C, get some – even a portable unit. (You can take it with you, or you can convey it, just make sure that’s addressed in your disclosures or it will default to conveyance.) You only have one chance to make a cool impression, so crank it. People are walking around from one open house to another in the heat of the neighborhood, and we want the first impression of your home to be “Ahhhhhh!”

Note that with the door opening and closing so much, it will heat up. Consider having your agent offer cold water or lemonade with a plate of cookies in the kitchen. It gives people a feeling of what it would be like to have a fun time in the home, and you want them to linger and be memorable among all the homes they’re going to see in a day.

As always, your home should be clutter-free and clean. If you don’t usually have it professionally cleaned, do it. A crew with fresh eyes and a stack of microfiber cloths will get to where you’ve been missing, and it will make an impression on your prospective buyers.

Everything Matters
Don’t settle for a “good enough” agent. The person you chose to represent you to sell your home is, for a time, an extension of you, and even if you’ve used this agent before, you should not feel obligated to call them again. Are they disheveled, late for the appointment, rushing through or avoiding answering your questions, or not giving you their full attention? That could be how they’ll present your home online and at the open house. If you’re fine with that, then cool, but if not, it’s something to consider.

Will their demeanor stop people from putting in an offer? Not likely, but there are a million details that good real estate agents have to be on top of, and you need to trust they have them in hand. For instance, pictures are everything to buyers who start their house-shopping online. Photos of your home should be clear and bright and highlight its best aspects. A little artfulness never hurt anyone, while a grainy photo of a bathroom with products on the counter and the toilet seat up cuts deep. The agent who posts the toilet photo likely doesn’t care too much about details, or at least not the aesthetic ones. Bad pictures may mean people don’t consider seeing your home, and every person who doesn’t see it is a person who is not putting in an offer.

Every little thing matters in this business. Details can cost you or pay off, and you deserve to make the most of your sale.

New CO Safety Regs
You know how you have to have working smoke detectors in bedrooms and one on every floor when you sell your home? Now you need carbon monoxide detectors as well. They need to be on the bedroom level of any residence where a fuel is burned (gas, oil, coal, wood) and in residences with an attached garage. The CO detectors have a shelf life of about 10 years. Yes, it’s a small added expense, but the cost of not having them is far greater. Plus, having brand-new safety items in your home can leave a good impression on prospective buyers.

Closing Scams
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. There are people out there who hack into real estate agents’ email accounts, then sit and wait for the opportunity to make some cash. A really great day at the office for them is to send you, the buyer, an email that appears to be from your agent. This email will have the account-transfer information for you to give to your bank. Only, it’s not from your agent, and that account number sends your money to them. So, at closing, you find out from the title company that the seller’s bank did not receive the wire transfer. Your money is gone, and you’re not getting it back.

Personally, I do not send transfer information, not ever. If it’s coming from me, it’s not really coming from me. You should get the account number directly from the title company, and then call and confirm it with someone at the title company, someone you know and have spoken with before.

As always, I’d love to hear your questions about the quirks of real estate. If you’re wondering why something is how it is, or wondering about something you’ve noticed, drop me a line with “RE Matters” in the subject line.

Heather Schoell is a Capitol Hill REALTOR Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty and can be reached at, at the office at 202-608-1880, or by cell at 202-321-0874.