Preparing for an Effective Open House

by seacoast_ashley 5. March 2010 15:17

When the time comes to sell a home, an open house can be a valuable tool for attracting potential buyers and increasing the likelihood of making a sale. Currently, there is an influx of buyers entering the housing market and high levels of inventory, interest rates near historic lows and an $8,000 federal tax credit incentive for first-time buyers. Now more than ever, real estate agents suggest using more creativity with open houses. This not only maximizes a home’s visibility, but also gives it the competitive edge it needs to stand out.

Below are six creative tips from the agents of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty for making the most of an open house and what sellers can do to help:

Collaborate with the community.
Everyone appreciates the convenience of one-stop shopping. Before your agent schedules an open house, he or she may suggest checking with neighbors for other activities that might be going on in the area such as garage sales, car washes, or town fairs. Planning open houses on the same day as other community happenings can be a great way to increase traffic to all events while showing off the personality of the neighborhood.

Offer a personal perspective.
Agents commonly advise sellers to make themselves scarce during an open house. This is not to say that they do not enjoy the seller’s company but rather to ensure the sales associate can market the home objectively and potential buyers feel comfortable to scrutinize the property. However, agents will often suggest sellers share with them their positive experiences living in the home and community. While the agent is an expert on the local marketplace, sellers who can share their personal insight and knowledge from residing in the home and town, might just arm the agent with the piece of information a buyer has been waiting to hear.

Recruit your neighbors for help.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the home buying and selling process. Therefore, your agent is likely to distribute marketing materials around town providing details of the upcoming open house. Ask your agent if he or she can provide you with extra copies so that you can share information with your neighbors. They may have a friend or relative in search of a new home or know somebody who is.

Remember to depersonalize.
Homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not the previous owner’s so do not be insulted if an agent suggests taking down family portraits, personal collections and knickknacks. It is not that they dislike the seller’s personal style; removing these items will eliminate clutter and ensure that open house guests are looking at the house for sale, not at the photos from the last family vacation.

Give a friend a tour.
Prior to opening the doors to potential buyers, agents often recommend that sellers invite a “constructively critical” friend or relative to visit the home and offer an honest opinion about each room. This will be a good indication of whether or not the home is in good shape for selling or if it needs some minor adjustments.

Keep the home’s location in mind.
If the home for sale is in a place where potential buyers might have a tough time locating, an agent might propose a virtual open house. Speak with a local Coldwell Banker agent about how you can work together to post a video about the home, neighborhood and town on Coldwell Banker On Location, an innovative branded YouTube® channel designed to offer consumers a new way to search for and interact with real estate information and listings.

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How to List Your Home

by seacoast_ashley 2. March 2010 15:23

When selling a home, establishing a reasonable and, ultimately, profitable listing price is perhaps the biggest challenge that a homeowner faces. A home priced too high may go unsold, but a home priced too low will result in a loss for the seller.

While determining the correct asking price may take some work, it will ultimately pay off. In fact, in a recent survey of Coldwell Banker real estate professionals, 79% agreed that homes in their market that are priced appropriately attract more buyers and move more quickly.
Before settling on an asking price, the professionals at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty recommend taking the following steps:

Choose the Right Sales Associate.
While many home sellers use a friend or relative's referral when selecting a sales associate, it is smart to interview a variety of prospective associates and invite them to show their listing presentations. Pay attention to how they plan to market the home, and find out how many homes they (and their companies) listed in your local market in the past year as well as how many of them were sold. Also, make certain they plan to list the home on the multiple listing service (MLS), and inquire about the breadth of the sales associate’s network of contacts. Remember, the more prospective buyers a sales associate can attract, the better the chance for a successful sale. Finally, because selling a home will require a lot of communication, the seller should ensure he or she connects with the sales associate’s personality.

Do the Homework.
Home sellers should work with a real estate sales associate to develop a written comparative market analysis (CMA). This will provide a list of recent sales prices of similar homes in the area (with comparable numbers of bedrooms, baths, square footage and lot size), the asking prices of homes currently for sale in the neighborhood and other relevant information. They should also consult the Home Price Comparison Index available at which offers buyers a way to compare average housing costs in over 400 U.S. markets. Based on the information gathered, a sales associate will provide his or her professional estimation of a legitimate selling price.

Take the Emotion Out of It.
Sellers often take great pride in their homes, but it is important to set a priced based solely on factors like location, condition and size. A house in a secluded, exclusive area may be appealing to some buyers, while others will want to be closer to schools, shopping and health care facilities. What is the physical condition of the home? Is it a fixer-upper? Does it make a good first impression (or have “curb appeal”)? Will it appeal to a growing family, or is it better suited for empty nesters? These are all things that need to be considered when pricing a home.

Determine If It Is a Buyer’s or Seller’s Market.
Home inventory, mortgage interest rates and the economy play a role in determining whether the buyer or seller has a negotiating advantage. Interest rates remain at historically low levels even as the economy shows signs of improving, allowing buyers to be in a good position to shoulder the “good” debt of homeownership. A sales associate will know the inventory levels in the community.

Do the Math.
Do not forget to figure in closing costs, legal fees and other selling expenses when determining the selling price. The sales associate should be able to provide cost estimates, and negotiate with a potential buyer to ensure a fair sale price.

Give It the Once Over.
After working with a real estate sales associate to get a CMA and considering all the other factors, the listing price will be set. But there is one more step in trying to ensure that the house sells for that price, or more. Do as much as possible to improve the home’s appearance: touch up the paint, fix leaks, seal any cracks, clean the home, eliminate clutter and rid the home of any pet odors. The house has only one chance to make a first impression.

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Realtor | Selling

Ensure Against Disaster With the Proper Homeowners Insurance

by seacoast_ashley 27. February 2010 15:27

Navigating all of the options available for homeowners insurance can be a challenge. Since “Mother Nature” reliably makes her appearances across the country year after year, selecting the proper insurance is critical to protect perhaps the largest purchase one will make over the course of a lifetime. It is a good idea to review the policy annually to ensure the best coverage is being provided.

To help, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty offers the following primer on homeowners insurance.

The Fundamentals:
Standard policies should reimburse for basic damages including burglary and destruction to the home caused by fire, smoke, lightning, ice, snow and frozen pipes. In addition, traditional policies often offer liability coverage for medical claims of third parties and legal damages should the homeowner be named the defendant in a lawsuit. The most common amount of liability coverage is $100,000.

Be Prepared for the Worst Case Scenario:
Before granting a loan, lenders often require homeowners to purchase at least a basic insurance plan. However, homeowners should be prepared for the worst. They should find out exactly how much it would cost to restore the home from top to bottom in case of complete destruction, and then contemplate insuring it for that amount.

Although the policy will provide the funds to rebuild the structure of the home, money is still needed to refurbish the inside with new appliances, furnishings, etc. Many consumers are not aware that they have the option to insure their home and belongings for either the replacement cost or the actual cash value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair a home or replace damaged possessions after factoring in depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair a home with materials of similar kind and quality, or to purchase new possessions without deducting for depreciation. Understandably, insuring property to cover replacement costs is more expensive than insuring it for its actual cash value, but may be worth the difference if a consumer can afford the higher premiums.

To best prepare for refurbishing the inside, put together a detailed home inventory list. Include everything from jewelry to artwork to carpets to computer equipment to tools and sporting equipment. A list with receipts attached is ideal. Also consider doing a photographic or video inventory (date stamp the video as a record) in which the key information is chronicled. Whether a written or visual property catalogue is compiled, be sure to include a description of the item, quantity owned, brand name, model or serial number, name of the vendor, date of purchase, purchase price, current value and replacement cost. Another tip is to keep this documentation in a separate location in case tragedy should strike the home.

Water, Water, Everywhere?
According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., yet it is typically not covered by traditional home-owners insurance policies. It is however offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for many areas of the country. In fact, if a property lies in a flood hazard area (determined by the Director of the FEMA to have a one percent chance of being hit by a flood), the borrower will likely be required to purchase flood insurance. If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider purchasing such a policy from a local agent. It is not wise to rely on federal disaster funds, as these loans must be repaid.

Sometimes floods are brought on by hurricanes. Hurricanes “Katrina” and “Rita” are reminders of the devastation that storms can cause. Unfortunately, hurricane insurance has become pricier and more difficult to obtain. Those living in hurricane prone areas should shop around for the most comprehensive and affordable policy from a reputable provider.

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Real Estate

Southport, North Carolina

by seacoast_ashley 25. February 2010 15:53

Southport is one of the most beautiful and charming small towns in North Carolina. During warm weather, visitors flock to Southport's picturesque tree-lined streets to explore its many restaurants, shops, marina, yacht basin and historic attractions.

Hundreds of years ago, pirates and explorers visited the area. Today, it's convenient location, where the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, and Cape Fear River meet, is still very popular with mariners.

Ginger Harper with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty has been a Southport resident for 27 years and shares some of her favorite things to do there. Photos courtesy of Jim Harper.

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Tips for Making Long Distance Relocation Easier

by seacoast_ashley 24. February 2010 08:27

Moving can be a complicated process, especially when the new home is in a different state or across the country. Buyers must research the town, school systems, job market, and neighborhood all before settling on a new location.

The professionals at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty recommend taking the following steps to ensure that when it comes time to move to a distant location, the process goes as smoothly as possible.

First, Get Organized.
When moving many miles away it makes sense to compile a list of the key information required before deciding where to live. Important questions that will need to be answered include:

  • What is the cost of living? How far will the new money go?

  • What is the price of a similar sized house in the new location?

  • What is the community like? Crime rates?

  • How is the school system?

  • What is the noise factor?

  • Will this be a good area for my spouse to find work?

  • What is the public transportation system like?

  • How long will the commute be?

Due Diligence.
To learn more about the typical lifestyle of the new town, as well as community events and crime rates, get a few back copies of the local newspaper, or log on to the local paper’s Web site. This third party information, together with information from the local Chamber of Commerce, will give a sense of the area.

Use the Internet.
When it comes to selecting the home itself, the Web is an invaluable tool. Web sites such as can provide visitors with an abundance of useful information. Functions like the Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index will calculate approximately how much a house will be worth in the new market, which as a result will provide insight into the cost of living. Visitors also can find a variety of community and neighborhood information including median age and income, percentages of married couples and children, recent home sales, and a listing of elementary and high schools with demographic information on the schools.

Feet on the Street.
Begin to work with a real estate associate early on when visiting the new city. Look to see how much new construction and remodeling work is taking place. This will indicate whether the neighborhood is growing and developing, and whether current residents plan to stay. Also, have the sales associate take you through the neighborhood “after hours” to see what the neighborhood looks like when all have returned from work and school.

Coffee Talk.
If possible, try to have a few conversations with the “locals” near a prospective home. More than anyone, they have their fingers on the pulse of the neighborhood and the community at large.

Work With Your Employer.
If your spouse will be in need of a job, make it clear to your new employer. The company likely will have relationships with relocation experts and executive recruitment firms to help in the spousal job search process.

Simplify the Move.
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty associates can offer assistance with all aspects of the move. They have lots of relocation experience and can recommend service providers and offer advice.

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Buying | Selling | Tips

Staging a Home for First-Time Homebuyers

by seacoast_ashley 21. February 2010 08:40

When it comes to staging a home for sale, it is important that sellers create a warm and inviting atmosphere that will appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.

Today, due to an abundance of low-priced homes to choose from, historically low interest rates and an $8,000 federal tax credit incentive, first-time homebuyers account for a greater number of these potential buyers than ever before.

However, sellers looking to attract this coveted demographic need not do a complete design overhaul. Staging a home for first-time homebuyers is easier than one might think.

Below are seven simple staging tips from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty to help boost a home’s appeal and give owners the competitive edge necessary when selling a home.

Stage rooms with one purpose.
Extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses can confuse and even deter first-time homebuyers, so staging rooms with one purpose is vital. Keep in mind that these buyers are generally young couples without children, and rooms should be presented as areas equipped to meet their needs. So turn those playrooms and storage dens into a home office or the kids’ bedroom into a guest bedroom.

Tackle the easy “do-it-yourself” projects.
In a recent Coldwell Banker survey, 81 percent of brokers said today's first-time home buyers consider move-in conditions to be very important when searching for homes. To ensure that a home is in tip top shape make sure to replace outdated kitchen and bathroom fixtures, apply a fresh coat of paint to a worn wall and refinish the kitchen cabinets. Providing a sleek and modern look wherever possible can make a huge difference in the eyes of first-time homebuyers. To learn more about what home styles are “in fashion,” ask a local Coldwell Banker agent about the styles seen in homes that are selling in the area, and purchase a current interior design magazine for ideas.

Focus on the living areas.
A living room is an area in which potential first-time buyers should be able to envision themselves entertaining friends or gathering with their family. With that in mind, homeowners should make the area appear as large and functional as possible by removing any unnecessary furniture and decorations.

Make sure the master bedroom appeals to both sexes.
The master bedroom of a couple’s first home is often the first bedroom they will share. When staging this room, make sure that it appeals to buyers of both sexes. Remove any feature that seems too gender-specific and paint the walls a neutral color.

Clear the room of family portraits.
First-time homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not the previous owner’s. Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty recommends taking down family portraits, personal collections and knickknacks. Removing these items will also eliminate clutter and ensure that people are looking at the house for sale, not at the photos from the last family vacation.

Furnish the home, but don't overdo it.
While an empty home looks spacious, it is hard for new buyers to visualize their belongings in a home if they are staring at ceilings, floors and bare walls. Leave the basic components of each room, but make sure there is still plenty of open space.

Don’t forget to spruce up the yard.
First impressions often play a role in a consumer’s decision making process. In fact, 21 percent of participants in a recent Coldwell Banker survey knew their home was the one for them before even walking inside. Make sure the home’s exterior is inviting by trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn and painting faded window trim. Couples looking for their first home often have less yard work under their belts and will appreciate the seller’s attention to detail.

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Selling | Tips

Officials Discuss Plans for Wilmington Growth

by seacoast_ashley 19. February 2010 08:44

This week, state & local officials discussed plans for Wilmington's growth at an economic and business development forum hosted by Coastal Carolina Tomorrow.

Growth strategies included expanding the film industry and arts scene, becoming more involved in historic preservation, and fostering year-round tourism.

What actions would you like state & local leaders to take toward the Wilmington area's growth?

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Carolina Beach, NC – What the Locals Say

by seacoast_ashley 18. February 2010 08:47

The New Hanover County town of Carolina Beach has a laid-back attitude, dozens of restaurants, and countless ways to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty's Greg Barber is a Carolina Beach resident. He shares some of the great things to do and see in Carolina Beach, NC.

If you're in the market for a beach property without the hefty price tag, Greg says you'll want to check out Carolina Beach.

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St. James, North Carolina

by seacoast_ashley 17. February 2010 08:53

St. James, North Carolina is a small town located just outside of Southport, North Carolina.

Incorporated in 1999, the majority of the Town of St. James is located within the gated community of St. James Plantation. It features a full service marina, four premiere golf courses, tennis, beach activities, a private beach club, biking trails, walking paths and more.

St. James resident and Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty associate Ken Keegan shares his St. James expertise.

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Relocating or retiring? Take a “Test Drive”

by seacoast_ashley 16. February 2010 09:09

Thinking of relocating, but you just aren't sure? Why not take a "test drive"?

Pat Maloney with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty's Southport, NC office suggests three great ways that you can get a feel for areas like the NC coast before you make a commitment.

Why not rent a beach cottage during the off-season to get a feel for the area? Pat says it's a great option, especially if you're already retired.

If you aren't retired, but want to test the waters, Pat suggests buying a "little something", a small home that you'll use for weekend getaways and family vacations. Then when you do retire, you can decide if moving to the coast is what you have in mind.

For those that are more daring, but still not ready to buy, Pat suggests moving somewhere and renting a home for no longer than 6 months. After that amount of time, you should have a good feel for the area and can make an informed decision about where to buy a home.

With all the natural beauty and friendly folks on the Cape Fear Coast, you'll be surprised how quickly you feel at home.

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