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Monday, June 24, 2013

5 Tips to Sell Your House Faster!

John L. Elwell, CPA, JD

Why you may want to sell your home now: an overview.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median home sales price in May increased 15.4% vs. a year ago. It's the biggest annual increase since 2005 plus current home prices at their highest level since July 2008. So if you've been waiting to sell, now may be the right time. 

  • Interest rates on home loans are still low enough to attract new buyers.
  • Inventories are low - especially in popular areas - with fast turnover in sales.
  • The tax break is good - you pay no tax on anything under $500,000 of gain over what you originally paid for the house.

Five Tips for selling at top price.

Get a terrific real estate agent. The #1 variable in selling quickly and for a good profit is your real estate agent. The difference between a pro and an amateur can equal more than a 20% difference in the final sales price. 

Be sure to interview at least 3 agents (5 is preferable). And do have each one tell you exactly how, where and when and they'll market. The very best agents hold multiple realtor open houses as well as weekly buyer open houses. They also develop and pay for ads in various local real estate flyers, magazines and online.

De-clutter, store and clean your house ruthlessly. Your family pictures and knick knacks may be dear to you, but they're a turn-off to buyers. They want to see clean, bright and organized spaces. So rent a POD and store your stuff before you open your doors. This also includes everything inside your cabinets, closets, garage and basement.

Make cosmetic and absolutely essential improvements. There are many inexpensive things you can do by yourself to add eye appeal and perceived value. Your real estate agent will help you determine what is essential to bring the house up to local codes and what small things you can do to will add value and get a higher price.

If your house is "vintage" (aka "old"), you may want to get a professional inspection and written evaluation. This will help you develop a "must do" list of fixes and set a price (discussed below).

Maximize curb appeal on a budget. When people drive up to visit your home, their first impression sets the tone for the entire viewing.  So it's worth some "sweat equity" to add as much eye appeal as possible. Paint the front door in a stand-out color. Fix and paint gutters. Trim shrubs to a uniform height. Plant lots of flowers of vibrant colors around the front and back. Get a new "Welcome" mat. Be sure that bold house numbers are installed and visible from the street. 

Price realistically and without emotion.  Most realtors say that the biggest reason that a house doesn't sell is that it's overpriced. Your realtor should help you price. He or she must know local market and neighborhood values ("comparables") and how your house stacks up against its competition. 

A great source of help on all things "home."

If you don't already watch HGTV on cable, you'll be pleased with all the free help you'll get on this home and garden channel. Shows like House Hunters will help you understand the kinds of things that buyers look for. Love It or List It and Property Brothers demonstrate the ins and outs of renovation. Plus the new HGTV Magazine has all kinds of articles that give you "how tos" and ideas.

Happy 4th of July from everyone at Elwell Associates!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I love Wendy Williams

Why I love Wendy Williams

My friends and family laugh at me because I quote Wendy Williams at least 5 times a day. I DVR all her shows, watch her daily After Show segment on my computer as a work break, and have her new book downloaded from Audible. In short, I'm all over Wendy.

Until I discovered Wendy on Dancing with The Stars and first saw her show, I'd never heard of her. I don't watch much TV. I read, even have a Master's Degree in Literature. I'm a self-made business person. (See Linkedin.) But Wendy surpasses any accomplishments I could ever dream of for myself. She's a phenomenon, totally self-made and a tour de force.

Wendy in ChicagoWhy am I so crazy about her?

Why not?

I'm sick of watching all the news. Especially the parts about politics, Congress, war, uprisings, the stock market - to name a few. It only leads to fear and worry (for me). And while once I felt that I and my vote could make a difference, I have given up on the notion. If we don't know what's really going on behind the scenes, how can we hope to change it. It's a total downer.

So after a long day at work, I happily switch on Wendy. I smile the minute I hear her voice. She looks gorgeous. She dresses beautifully. Her smile in infectious. She never complains - even when she's sick or working 24/7 (like now with the show plus a role in the Broadway play Chicago). She keeps it light and fascinating. And while I've never followed the entertainment/celebrity world before, I enjoy hearing her talk about it with passion. Wendy's incredible personality and enthusiasm make her discussion bits compelling.

As well, Wendy goes to great lengths to be "Every Woman." She relates to young and old, Moms and aunties, single and married, rich and poor. She "gets" it: women in all walks of life share very common problems (except for her crazy celebrities, of course). She is far more than the "Hot Topics" lady. She is a relevant friend who makes a day brighter and better.