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Teresa Noland's Blog

By Teresa Noland | Agent in Rockwall, TX
  • How to Lure Buyers Past the Front Door: Aim for the Heart

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  May 31, 2010 8:02 PM  |  1,224 views  |  No comments

    I've always said to my clients, who are selling, that we have to get buyers through the front door. To get buyers even to the door, is indeed the real issue. In fact, you have to get buyers out of the car, past the curb, to the front porch and then to the front door. This is why curb appeal is so important. Landscaping, a clean and staged front porch and the condition of a front door, will always determine a buyer's first impression and first emotional experience. And, the first emotional experience will determine if they even open the car door.

    When viewing homes, all buyers have emotional experiences and first impressions determine the start of that emotional experience.  If you have your home on the market, put yourself in the buyer's shoes and in their car.  If the front yard is full of weeds and the front porch is concealed with plant overgrowth, while the front door appears weathered, with chipping paint, would you get out of the car or, like most buyers, would you say, "Pass."?  Unless you're an investor, looking for a good flip, a house like I just described, will create a sad and negative emotion, causing you to step on the gas and move on to the next house.

    So, how do you "WOW!" that potential buyer and call out that positive, "In love", "This is it!"emotion?  Well, if that old saying, "A home is where the heart is", is true, then aim for the heart. Here's how you can do that.

    The Lawn

    Unless it's winter, when the grass is dry and without color, the lawn is where you want to start. Keeping the lawn trimmed and edged is extremely important. This may require getting the mower and edger out, two to three times a week. Also, a lawn that is green is a pleasurable scene. With this in mind, as soon as the season allows, be sure to fertilize the lawn. To maintain a green lawn, if Mother Nature isn't doing her job and if water restrictions allow, be sure to give the lawn a good watering, two to three times a week. Then, get out the weed killer and get into terminator mode. Weeds are a lawn's worst enemy and if not tended to early on, they will take over a lawn. If you don't have the time for this or have physical limitations that prevent you from doing it yourself, consider paying a lawn service.

    Lawn care companies can be very costly, especially when used throughout the season. Still, there are alternatives.  Many firemen, because of their work schedule, have side jobs and offer services, such as lawn care, at very fair price. You will usually fine them advertising on cork boards, in various businesses or in the newspaper. If you can't find them there, drop in at the local station.  There are also teenagers, looking for ways to make some money. If there aren't any interested teens on your block, consider inquiring with the youth pastor of your local church. Church youth groups are most always working to raise funds for mission trips, camp, etc.. Teenagers may require some supervision but, with some positive coaching, direction, and redirection, they can do the job and for a lot less than a lawn care company. Personally, I prefer the alternatives. For one, my money is applied to a good cause or with the fireman, I'm giving a business opportunity to express my appreciation.

    Trees and Shrubs

    Trees and shrubs are great for enhancing the exterior appearance of a home. If you don't have any, plant some. Without them, the landscape of a home is left bare. However, if not trimmed and kept up with, trees and shrubs can turn into yard monsters. Yard monsters are trees, vines, and shrubs that give a haunting or scary appearance, like the houses in the television series "The Adams Family" and "The Munsters". They are dead trees or trees with dead branches or branches that are too close to a roof, threatening to cause damage. They are shrubs that have monster like shapes or that climb up the brick, hiding a home and appearing as though they are holding it hostage. Vines and Rose bushes, included. When it gets like this, it's time to get out the trimmers, start trimming and set that house free!

    Be sure to proceed with caution. The last thing you want is to have a limb fall on yours or your neighbor's house, wreaking damage or causing personal injury. The task may very well require a bonded and insured tree trimmer.


    Flower beds should give a home color and texture. When designing a flowerbed, choose plants that are indigenous. A variety of plants, flowers and ground covering, when bedded together, will result in a splash of color with varying height and texture. Adding a colored mulch will always complete the look and make any garden stand out. However, keep in mind the maintenance. If  limited in time or have physical limitations, your best bet is to stick with low maintenance greenery or a rock garden with colored mulch and various decorative types of grass. What ever the choice, be sure to keep it trimmed up and free of weeds.

    Walkway to the Door

    When was the last time you approached your home the same way visitor's do. With attached garages, most people enter their homes through the garage door. If this is your case, take the time to walk up to your front door the very way a potential buyer would. Whether the walkway is made of cement, paved stone, etc.., be sure to look for cracks or areas that aren't level.  Besides the poor cosmetic appearance, a walkway with cracks and protruding cement or stones, can be dangerous and a liability. Again, put yourself in the buyer's shoes. If you were to trip and fall, ending up with an injury, where would you be going? Into the house, to complete the showing, or back to the car, so you can head to the hospital for aid?  So, not only does it take away from your home's appearance, it also becomes a liability.  Address the problem, as well as you possibly can and do it right. Potential buyers can always spot when a problem area has been addressed with a simple band-aid. And, daily, make sure the walkway is clear of toys, bikes or any lawn equipment, obstructing the way.

    Front Porch

    Like back yard patios, today, front porches are looked at as outdoor living space. If you have the space, stage it appropriately. Just don't over do it. A crowded front porch is a huge distraction. Many people love yard art and other decorative outdoor items. Remove your signature  and taste from the house so that it has a better chance of catering to everyone versus a few. Be sure to pick up water hoses and any lawn equipment. Potted plants and hanging baskets are great for staging a front porch. If your have them, be sure to keep them maintained. A dead plant = a negative and sad emotion from a potential buyer. It, along with many other things, may communicate that the homeowner has just stopped caring.  

    Since the front porch is exposed to the elements, examine everything, such as, the porch posts, rails and door mats. Especially examine any seating, such as a porch swing or rocking chair. If something is weather worn it's better off removed. In regard to anything hanging, make sure it's secured. Anything made of wood, check for wood rot. Again, consider your liability. The most dreaded showing feedback you can get is that that porch swing came loose, with the buyer in it.  As a Realtor, I can't tell you how often I've seen buyers take advantage of a place to sit and rest, while giving a particular home some serious thought.

    The Front Door

    So, you've done such a great job with the lawn. The trees and shrubs are trimmed, the front porch looks like the ideal place to sit down and relax, with a glass of ice tea in hand. Coming from the buyer's view, in the car, everything looks great! The buyer gets out of the car and slowly walks up to the house, admiring the manicured lawn and flowerbeds. Then, they get to the door. You got them this far. Now, what does the front door say to them?  Does it say, "Welcome and please come in."?  Better yet, will they be able to get in? 

    As I said earlier, most people enter their home through the garage and because of this, they have no idea how well the key and locks are working.  A door knob that hardly gets used can at times refuse to cooperate with the key. Before you hand over the keys to your listing agent, test your key and door hardware. If it's a hassle to work with, try spraying some WD-40, into the key hole.  If this doesn't work, replace the hardware. As a Realtor, a lock that does not work can be very frustrating. In fact, I've been in situations in which I couldn't get it to work at all, and sadly had to turn to my buyers and say, "Sorry, we can't get in."

    While taking the time to address the front door hardware, take a look at the door. Is it calling out for a new look? Or, is it hurting because it's chipping away?  You may be able to get by with a new coat of paint. If the door is outdated, consider replacing it. Every front door makes a statement. A statement of pride and prestige, or a statement that says, "better days have come and gone."  What does your front door say?

    Perhaps a new coat of paint will do the trick. When choosing a paint color, choose a color that will pop and stand out and at the same time blend and mesh with the brick or the trim on the house.

    If a new coat of paint isn't going to cut it and you choose to replace the front door, take a picture of your home (front elevation) and an additional photo of the exterior side of the door, making sure you zoom in on the location of the door knob. When you go to make the purchase, take the photos with you. You will find them to be very helpful when deciding on what style of door to purchase. The photos will also help determine if replacing the door will require a left hand or right hand door. Determining if a door is left hand or right hand, can be confusing. Instead of trying to make the decision on your own, leave out the guess work and show the photo to an associate at Lowes or Home Depot.

    Now, after having read all the above, you're probably thinking, "This requires too much money."  That couldn't be further from the truth. If you take the time and money to make these improvements and if your asking price is in line with the neighborhood and the interior of the home is up to par, you can expect showings to increase. In fact, your chances of getting your asking price are greater. Failure to make improvements can result in getting no offers and the longer you stay in your holding period, the more house payments you will have made and the prorated amount of property tax gets higher ,every day you fail to get a buyer. Just as well, homes that appear distressed on the outside tend to attract offers from investors or very low offers from potential buyers.

    Do you want a "This is it!", reaction?  Then remember, a home is where the heart is.  Aim for the heart.

    Source: http://teresanolandreproteam.blogspot.com/

    Teresa Noland
    REPRO TEAM..The real estate professionals you can rely on. I guarantee it!
    Keller Williams Realty
    2951 Ridge RD
    Rockwall, Texas 75032
    Office: (972) 772-7000
    Cell: (469) 628-5458

  • County Appraisal Districts Laughing All The Way To The Bank...With Your Money

    Posted Under: Property Q&A in Forney  |  May 22, 2010 8:46 AM  |  1,392 views  |  1 comment

    In our last newsletter, IN THE LOOP, I wrote about our own (Teresa and Monika's) personal experiences, while out in the field listing properties. Recently, we discovered serious errors regarding real estate/property appraisals, recorded with the County Appraisal Districts.  Below is part of the article.

    Hula hoop, loopty loop, I got the scoop!  No, I don't have the answer to the Hula Hoop question. I doubt anybody does. However, I do have a really good question. A serious question. Something you should be aware of.

    What is the square feet of your home? 

    In the past two months, we have come across three homes in which the square feet, recorded by the county appraisal district, was incorrect. And, for two it wasn't in the seller's favor. Clearly, if the county has overstated the square feet of your home, you are over paying in taxes. 

    When you get that letter (the one that can make the mortgage go up)in the mail every year, how much do you look into it? Many just look at the difference compared to the prior year. That's smart to do but, if you noticed a good increase, it could be the square feet is incorrect.

    Many think it's a good thing when the county appraisal is on the high end for their home. They believe it will benefit them when it comes time to sale. In other words, they put their faith in the value stated by the county. Don't get me wrong here. We all want to see the value of our homes go up. But, is it the truth?

    The truth can set you free and the truth can hurt. Let's say you put your house on the market and you get an offer? You've finished negotiating on the price. You and the buyer have come to an agreement and the contract is executed. The buyer's inspection goes well and he/she didn't nit pick every little flaw, asking for a number of repairs. So, you exhale and there's a sigh of relief. Then, the lender sends out their own appraiser. You wonder how it went and as as few weeks pass, you think all is fine. During the course of this time, when you talk to your agent, he/she says it looks like everything is moving along, just as it should. (Lenders are good at making us think so.) Then, you get a call. Your agent tells you that your home did not appraise. (Been there and we hate it!) Yes, the truth can hurt.

    To read the rest of the article and our recommendations, click here.

    Teresa Noland
    Simmons & Noland Team
    Direct: 469-628-5458
    Keller Williams Realty
    2951 Ridge Rd.
    Rockwall, TX 75032
    Office: 972-772-7000

  • OPEN HOUSE 1377 War Admiral Dr. Area of Forney,Tx

    Posted Under: In My Neighborhood in Forney  |  May 12, 2010 9:53 PM  |  1,349 views  |  No comments

    Saturday May 22  1:00-4:00
    1377 War Admiral Dr.
    Terrell, Tx. 75160
    (Forney Area in Winners Circle)
    RAIN OR SHINE -Come as you are-We will be there

    Click on address for property mircrosite.
    To schedule a private viewing, give us a call or email us at teresnoland@kw.com 
    Teresa Noland 
    Simmons & Noland Team
    Keller Williams Realty
    2951 Ridge Rd. 101
    Rockwall, Tx. 75032

  • Bust Up the Banks

    Posted Under: Market Conditions  |  May 10, 2010 11:21 AM  |  1,284 views  |  No comments

    The president's half-measures won't fix our failed financial system. Here's what will.
    Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm | NEWSWEEK
    Published May 7, 2010

    In early January, Ben Bernanke defended the Fed's handling of the recent financial crisis. The lesson he drew was simple: better regulation could have prevented it.

    This is correct. Regulation could be better and smarter. Regulators could eliminate banks' intentional evasion of regulatory oversight. They could solve the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen problem, in which an overabundance of regulators and a lack of coordination frustrate effective supervision of the system.

    Smaller Is Better
    There's a very simple way to curtail the power of the big firms that helped cause the crisis: break them up. The recent crisis highlighted the "too big to fail" problem. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and the resulting cardiac arrest of the global financial system revealed that many institutions had become so large, leveraged, and interconnected that their collapse could have systemic and catastrophic effects.

    What do you think?  Is Smaller better?

    For the complete article
  • Keller Williams Red Day

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent  |  May 8, 2010 10:19 PM  |  1,330 views  |  1 comment

    What is Keller Williams RED Day?

    RED (Renew, Energize and Donate) Day is a Keller Williams Realty service initiative dedicated to improving our local communities. We are asking all Keller Williams Realty associates in the US and Canada to donate their time on May 13, 2010 to renewing and energizing aspects of their local communities. Because of her constant commitment to the culture of our company, this day has been dedicated in honor of our Vice Chairman, Mo Anderson.

    Our vision for this day is that all Keller Williams associates will actively engage in a coordinated effort to improve their local community. Activities may include rehabbing a house, cleaning up a local trail, providing food for the homeless, or any other service related activity needed in your community. This will be one of the single biggest events ever undertaken in the real estate
    industry.  To get involved, contact us at 972-772-7000.


  • Choosing A Realtor

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Forney  |  May 4, 2010 7:08 PM  |  1,394 views  |  No comments

    Choosing A REALTOR®

    It amazes me when I get a random call, from a sign in the yard, and I ask the question,"Are you currently working with a real estate agent?"  Some reply, "Yes.", but most often the response I hear is, "No. We're just driving around."  Driving around?  What they really mean to say is, "We've been on line looking at houses. We want to buy a house and we're checking out the neighborhood. We're just not sure if we need one. We think we can do this on our own. Besides, we don't want to feel pressured."

    Some homeowners attempt to buy their home themselves, only to be disappointed with the end result. Buying your own home requires you to educate yourself about the industry, the type of market you’re hoping to live in, and negotiating and buying techniques to name a few. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the hours of time and energy you will spend throughout the home buying process. If that isn’t enough, consider the paperwork and legal forms you are responsible for filling out.

    An experienced REALTOR® will know the required contracts, forms, and disclosure statements necessary for each sales transaction inside and out. Each legal document must be completed properly. REALTORS® also have access to forms not available to others. If you make a mistake at some point in the real estate transaction, you may find yourself unable to close the deal.

    A experienced Realtor® will work hard to find just the right home to fit your needs. He/she will assess your dream home's actual market value as compared to the listing price and negotiate with the homeowners’ selling agent on your behalf.  All to ensure you get the best house for the best price possible. Ultimately, having experience on your side, working for you, gives you assurance that your home buying experience will be successful. 

    Go ahead, take a deep breath and choose. It's time to stop driving around.
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