Marching Into Spring
Spring has come early to the Columbus / Phenix City areas and March is peak listing time for homes in our area. Here are a few tips to get ready for early Spring and upping your curb appeal.
Freshen your pine straw or mulch, if that is your preferred cover for your beds. Trim bushes and spray those pesky young spring weeds in your beds with a weed killer. Pressure wash driveways and walkways but postpone cleaning windows and your home until the pollen season has passed. Everything will be coated in yellow for the next month!
If you own a pool, uncover it and start the process to get it sparkling clean! Fresh ferns for your entryway or porch are available at most gardening stores now. Bedding plants are showing up in stores too. Consider what you will plant later in the season. Our area is prone to a freeze or frost before Easter so most gardeners are hesitant to plant annuals this early.
I am happy to come visit you at your home and give you a few ideas and tips that can help before you list your home for sale.
FUN NOTE- Hummers are traveling our way. We usually see our first Ruby Throat male scout around the 20th of March. It’s time to get out a clean feeder!
What to do when your house goes under contract and you have nowhere to go? We feel your pain…
After our condo at Eagle & Phenix went under contract, we knew that we needed to move but we did not have a place to go. So we traveled down the road that all sellers must consider. If you need to sell your home to buy another one, you have to be prepared for a 30 – 40 day time period to close. In our area it is customary to be moved out by time of closing. What do you do with such a short time frame to work with??
Your options include:
- buying a home
- renting an apartment
- a corporate rental
- leasing a house for a year
- moving in with someone you know for a period of time (Yikes)
Sometimes fate works in your favor and there is a property on the market that you love and you can move from one to the other. if you run into a time gap or back to back closings, you may need to store your furniture overnight on the truck. Most movers will allow this for a fee of around $150.
Your rental options in our area include many choices in apartments. We have some nice ones that offer 3,6, or 9 month rentals. The rent is roughly $100 more per month than a yearly lease. A corporate rental is a furnished unit that you may rent month to month. The rent is more as one would expect. There are not as many of these available. With houses in our area a 1 year lease is standard. It is difficult and unlikely to find a owner that will lease for less than a year! I repeat – extremely hard and unlikely! Our rental market is tight on the nicer properties. If you find one – rent it fast!
Moving Options – Hire a local mover to move your things and pack yourself. Average fees are $115 per hour. Having them pack you is considerably more but I am sure it is wonderful! Pods – I think pods are neat. You can leave them outside, load them at will and have them picked up then moved to storage or your new home. I understand that it is hard to find movers who will load your furniture in a pod but there are a few in town.
Moving is stressful and I don’t know anyone who loves the process. But as the saying goes, “this too shall pass!”
Most real estate agents will tell you their least favorite part of the real estate process is the home inspection. Why? To sum it up in a few words- buyers and sellers get too caught up in this part of the transaction. In my opinion, HGTV has created over expectations. Many contracts fall apart from uncompromising parties about simple repairs or home maintenance items.
- What is a home inspection and what should I expect? A home inspection is supposed to be a look at the house to find major structural or mechanical issues with a home. In recent years, this has evolved into more of a battle between the buyer and seller. Buyers want a home in perfect condition whereas sellers have lived with some of the simpler quirks of their home and see no reason to fix the door which doesn’t shut so easily, for example. An inspector tries to look at all the components of a home and usually has to do so in a short time frame. They cannot possibly find everything wrong with a home in one visit. All home inspectors will miss things from time to time and will write up items which are not necessarily defective or broken. They simply note what they find and do not investigate the reason an item is not working. Example – light fixture not working – may only be a bad bulb but the inspector does not have time to check this in the short time they are onsite for the inspection.
- What will my inspection report look like? When I first began my real estate career, an inspection report was approximately 2-3 pages long and handwritten. Most had estimates of repairs which was very helpful. Now they are 20-150 pages depending on the software program an inspector is using which many times will include pictures of defects found. Keep in mind that these photos are usually magnified to show what was written up and often look worse than they really are. The “Summary” is where the most pertinent information lies and where most requests for repairs should come from.
- What do I do with this report? It should be used to ask for reasonable repairs not everything noted on the report. If you are buying a home that has already been occupied, there will be items on the inspection report which are valid and some which are not. Does a seller have to repair them all? No. And usually they don’t. This is where having a realtor is important. As a realtor, we can help to mediate this part of the transaction. Most of the time it is not worth losing a really nice home over a few hundred dollars for repairs!
- Where should I find my home inspector? NOT ON GOOGLE! I can’t speak for other towns but in the Columbus, Phenix City and Harris County areas, the good inspectors do not have reviews and most do not have web pages. I have asked inspectors repeatedly to ask for reviews and one finally told me that he had more business than he could handle and he did not have time to develop a web page for reviews. In our area, most realtors have a list of inspectors with whom they have had transactions with and can recommend a few for you to choose from.
When buying a home – remember there is no perfect home whether old or new. All homes need maintenance. Things will break after you purchase and move in. A seller does not necessarily try to hide defective parts of their home for you to find after you move in. Most sellers want you to love their homes as much as they did!
How to sell you home in any market
Over the past ten years, I have sold five of our personal properties. All sold quickly! Four of these in less than a month. What is the secret? I know how to price, market, and most importantly how to get a home “show ready.”
So how do you do this if you struggle with clutter, love your things, or live in a house too small for you and your family? I always advise clients to pretend they are going to have a party with very important guests. It is amazing what you see when you walk through your house with this in mind. You will start to notice areas of your home that may need help.
Here are a few tips and rules that I use with my homes:
1. Work on curb appeal, it is very important! No one will want to see the inside of your home unless it appears attractive and cared for from the street. Mow your yard weekly, trim bushes, edge the yard and plant flowers in the beds and planters. Buy mature bedding plants in baskets or containers for instant pop instead of young plants in trays. Add fresh pine straw – it spruces up a yard in a second! A favorite motto of mine is “More people will ride by your home than will ever come inside.” What impression does the outside of your property convey about what shape inside might be?
2. Pressure wash walkways, decks, patios, concrete around pools and driveways.
3. Throw out old door mats and replace with new. Shine door knockers and hardware. Refresh paint or varnish on the front door if faded. Make sure your front door works properly! I would bet that 6 out of 10 doors that Realtors attempt to open, don’t do so correctly. If the problem is a sticky lock, WD-40 works wonders and/or have a new key cut that works. It does not make a good first impression when we have to struggle with a key that won’t turn or a door that sticks! Most homeowners don’t use their front doors so this often goes unnoticed.
4. Clean out the clutter! Clean out the Clutter! Clean out the clutter! Box up extra knickknacks , family photos, and store in the attic, garage, or rent a storage unit. Move extra furniture out now! Today’s buyers love the clean lines of the “Pottery Barn” look. Depersonalize your home. A buyer needs to envision a home as theirs. Imagining their furniture and possessions in a house with rooms and walls full of family photos is hard to do and buyers do not need to be distracted. A few photos are fine. I never pack up all of ours when selling a home but remember “less is better.”
5. Clean ceiling fans and wash windows.
6. Take down outdated wallpaper and paint. Bold colors are out of style; the new looks are neutrals such as beiges, whites, and greys. Paint is inexpensive and makes a huge difference. New paint also helps with odors as well.
7. Replace tired houseplants with new. Fresh new plants add to a bathroom or living space.
8. Clean out closets, cabinets and drawers. And yes buyers will open these, especially in the kitchen so these areas need to look organized. Buyers don’t like homes that feel crowded or cramped. (See tip #4)
9. Keep your kitchen and bath counters clean and uncluttered. Put up bottles, medicines, food items, etc.
10. Have your carpet professionally cleaned or replaced if needed. Try to vacuum if possible before each showing.
11. Pet and cigarette odors – WOW, nothing turns off a buyer faster than these two! We all have pets and we love them, but a smelly house does not show well. The truth is we are accustomed to the smells in our homes but notice odors in other homes. Have a friend with a good nose come over and see if they notice any unpleasant odors. PS. Candles do not cover up odors, they just make buyers wonder what you are trying to hide.
12. Make sure all light bulbs are working in light fixtures and lamps.
13. Make any repairs that you know about in advance. They will come up later in the home inspection! Peeling paint, rotten wood, double insulated windows with broken seals etc. all need to be addressed before you offer your home for sale. I always do this in advance and yes it does mean spending money that I don’t want to but it pays off in the end.
14. Pay special attention to bathrooms. Clean grout in showers and around tubs. Stained grout in showers or floors can make the whole room look dirty. Clorox can work miracles but sometimes grout and caulk need extra help. Grout pens are available at your local hardware or home store. Old tubs can be re-glazed for about $250 and will look brand new.
15. Keep your home clean while on the market. Make beds, pick up toys, laundry, etc.
16. Take down any light fixtures, drapes, mirrors or other objects that you are taking with you. Or prepare your mind and heart to part with them. If you love them and it makes a room look good the buyers will love them too. I can’t tell you how many times buyers and sellers lose sight of the objective (the house) and argue over decorative items. You are selling your home – not your personal property. Move it out!
Preparing and keeping your home ready to show can be tedious and sometimes not pleasant. No one ever said that selling a home is fun but remember this will not last forever and the more you do – the faster it will sell! A little effort goes a long way. Houses that are exceptionally clean, staged well and priced right still move quickly in any market!
We moved to Uptown in the Eagle and Phenix Condos loved the ease of life and the “neighborhood” feel. Did I say we love living in Uptown Columbus?!
There are so many advantages to condo living especially when it is one within Eagle and Phenix. For instance, residing in one building enables you to truly engage with your neighbors. You actually speak when you get on the elevator with others or pass them daily while walking your dog. We also get together frequently. Sometimes for our “monthly group socials” we might visit one of the excellent local Uptown restaurants or occasionally have a potluck dinner. There is always someone around to walk, bike, dine or to enjoy a cup of coffee with. Because of this new addition to our social life we now find ourselves part of a very active group with ages ranging from 3 weeks to 80 years.
The transition to Eagle and Phenix from living in the country was daunting, and we were unsure if we were going to like living in an urban environment. Having always lived in traditional homes before, we had traditional furniture and did not know how it would look in an industrial setting. This building (Circa 1860) has variations of unit styles, sizes and views so almost any mix can work. Our home is a good example of this as you can see below where we were honored to be featured in Southern Views. What a wonderful job Southern Views did making our “old stuff “look good! Below is a link to the article which shows their great work.
I have listed and sold several condos at Eagle and Phenix. If you would like to know more about either of these homes, the urban lifestyle or any other area of Columbus / Harris County, call me. I would be happy to show you around!
Something Different to See in Columbus, GA
My husband, Cham and I were invited to go see a Ranger jump down at Fryar Field. For those who live in Ft. Mitchell this is a common occurrence but most area residents don’t know anything about it.
It is really awesome to see all the parachutes opening as they jump out of the C-17 Globemaster aircraft. While almost magical for us to watch the parachutes float to the earth; the process of jumping out of an airplane at almost 150 mph is work and serious business for the Rangers. It was a balmy 97 degrees out and they jumped with all of their combat equipment! After landing they have to pack up the parachutes, put all the gear on their backs and run to the covered area where they load on buses to return to base for the rest of their day at work – WOW! Our friend was the Airborne Commander this day and we were proud to see him get to the ground safely.
Ft. Benning is a integral and important part of the Columbus, GA / Phenix City and surrounding areas. While we may hear the booms and blasts that the military makes while training we don’t often get to see what they are doing for our country.
We are lucky to have Ft. Benning in our midst and I am very thankful for each enlisted man or woman and their service to our country!
Fryar Field Ranger Jump Video
Considering a low ball offer?
I was talking to a group of Realtors yesterday about the market and the changes we have noticed lately, and the one thing we all agreed on is that “low ball offers” are not successful these days. The Columbus and Harris County, Georgia area markets are improving. No -that does not mean that prices have risen to anywhere near pre-2008 numbers, but the local market is stronger and homes are moving faster than the past few years.
Before making a low offer, there are things to consider.
Are you going to insult the seller? It may be a business deal for you but it usually is not for a seller. This may be where they raised their children or a family home where they were raised. Do they have to sell for reasons unexpected such as job loss, illness, or a divorce? Sellers often have emotional attachments to their homes and are deeply offended when a low offer is made. Some refuse to respond to the offer at all and will not sell to the offeree at any price!
Is it a one of a kind property? Will it be hard to find a similar property in the future? Can you live without it?
The seller may feel taken advantage of and not as agreeable to future requests or negotiations such as repairs or appointments to get in the property before closing. Items that they would consider leaving that could benefit the buyer are removed whether they need them or not. (swing sets, window treatments, refrigerator, etc)
Do you want your new home to be left clean and orderly when you take possession? Insulted sellers are angry and do not want to do anything extra for the new buyer. Such as having the yard cut one last time or a cleaning service after move out.
Real Estate transactions used to be friendly for all parties. Sellers and buyers walked away from the closing table feeling good about one another and the property in question. It is unfortunate to miss out on a pleasant transaction due to a low offer…
I am not implying that buyers should over pay for an overpriced home but one should always reflect on how they would respond to a low offer before making one!
My Uptown Columbus morning stroll
My morning terrain has changed somewhat in the last year but it certainly is pretty and still close to water.
I leave Eagle & Phenix early most mornings with my husband, Cham and Millie (14 year old Jack Russell) for “protection” of
course. Our route varies day to day but one of our favorite directions begins on the sidewalks of Bay. Millie likes to look for the cats that live near the River Club. We always stop to look at the river to see whether it is high or low flow. The fishermen are out early, on the banks and in boats as well as the early morning runners.
It is quiet in “Up Town” in the mornings. Buildings start to illuminate with the early morning workers. A few cars pass by but mostly it is just the birds and occasional cars that we hear.
At some point during this walk we pass the Zip Line and wander up to the Historic District and take in the charming homes, parks and gardens. We love the sidewalks of Front and Broadway with clapboard homes and charming porches. Blooming flower beds and ferns on the porches adorn the homes here making them very inviting.
Then on to business district of Broadway where the coffee shops are opening and CSU students are milling about, walking dogs or on their way to class or breakfast? We see many familiar faces each morning and love the friendliness as we great one another.
Back to the corner of 11th & Bay and through the short cut between the Synovus building and garage.
And there it is – home sweet home! Many days I am still amazed that we live in a mill! The W.C. Bradley Co. has done a wonderful job restoring and converting this building which was built Circa 1850.
An Open house is planned for May 30th and I will be there to help the great W.C. Bradley agents, Leah & Kathleen. We are expecting a crowd so if you are interested in more information, you can visit the Facebook page Eagle and Phenix Open House or call me and I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about this Uptown Columbus Georgia development.