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Deb Parker's Blog

By Deb Parker | Broker in Billings, MT
  • Selling During the Christmas Season

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Billings, Curb Appeal in Billings  |  December 16, 2013 7:49 AM  |  161 views  |  No comments

    You’ve listed your home a few weeks ago and are now wondering if you should decorate for Christmas or just forgo the decorations? You’re probably thinking, “I just moved all the clutter out of my house; why should I just bring more clutter in with Christmas decorations?” 

    There are two different schools of thought on this. My personal belief is that having some decorations, like a Christmas tree, adds a festive, homey feel to potential buyers. However, if you’re the type of person who celebrates Christmas by filling every tabletop, window and room with Christmas decorations, you may want to scale it back. Sometimes, buyers can become so involved with looking at the decorations that they tend to overlook the amenities offered your home offers.  Too many decorations also have the tendency to make rooms feel claustrophobic. 

    In the past, I have shown homes in which every room contains a Christmas tree. This approach works only if the rooms are large and spacious. Otherwise, the rooms appear small and cluttered and are unappealing to potential buyers. Decorations should always complement the rooms, accentuating their good qualities. Indoor lights are beautiful, but you should also let your home “sparkle” during the day with natural light. 

    Not an outdoor Christmas light person? I understand. But, they really do make a difference for those late afternoon/early evening showings when darkness is just settling in. Outdoor lights give the house a sense of warmth and light the way to the front door. That Christmas wreath with a big bow on the front door brings to mind a bow and ribbon around a present, just asking to be opened.

     Decorations help buyers visualize holiday dinners, entertaining guests and memorable family times. The holiday season is such a special time of year and decorations give you the opportunity to make your home special for potential buyers

  • Buying and Selling in December

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Home Selling  |  December 9, 2013 10:13 AM  |  148 views  |  No comments

    As I sat watching the snow fall in Billings, I began to think about our local real estate in winter.  Over past winters, I’ve typically noticed a slight drop in real estate activity. Invariably, I have had appointments set up to show homes and once the temperature drops and the wind chill factors set in, no one wants to go outside and view homes (including me at times).

    This season, I’ve seen a marked increase in real estate activity. There seems to be more buyers in our local market looking for homes and it really is still a great time to buy. Interest rates have remained at record lows, we have a good inventory of homes from which to choose and the weather has been very buyer friendly up till recently.

    Many buyers and sellers have the idea that the best time to buy and sell homes is in summer; but really, home buying and selling is a year round activity. People moving to the area through job transfers tend to make their moves around the end or the first of the year. First time buyers are always in the market and I have had clients who have chosen to buy in the dead of winter because their ideal home came onto the market.

    Last year in our local market area, there were over 500 properties that closed from November through February.  With Billings experiencing a growing economy, I am confident that the increased real estate activity in winter will continue in the future. 

  • Embrace the Fixer Upper Listing

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Agent2Agent  |  October 4, 2013 10:19 AM  |  147 views  |  No comments

    Recently, a friend decided to sell her home in which she had lived for over 30 years. She came to me and requested a Market Analysis, understanding that the home would be marketed and priced as a “fixer-upper”. Her son had a friend who had expressed interest in purchasing the home. It was in a very desirable neighborhood, but upon viewing, it became obvious it would take just the right buyer to tackle the necessary updates. There were cracks in the plaster walls; the bathrooms and kitchen would have to be gutted. It needed new windows, flooring, outside paint, substantial yard work and a basement remodel.

    This home would be a challenge to most buyers so initially I thought “good for her that she already had the buyer”. We quickly established a price for the home and the buyer agreed to the price.  He ordered a few inspections, including a mold test, resulting in some minor mitigation.  Still, the buyer was very excited and ready to close. Then the lender required repairs prior to close, which the seller could not afford. Consequently, the sale and closing fell through. My friend then found a second potential buyer. The second buyer viewed her home but determined that it was in need of more updates that he could handle. Instead, he recommended the home to a friend. My friend, the homeowner, was very optimistic about the third buyer. Unfortunately, that sale fell through a few days later.  

    My friend called me in tears as now she was living a rental while her home sat empty with no sale in sight. I listed her home immediately, thinking to myself that this was going to be a tough sale.  We needed to find a cash buyer or investor that had the funds to purchase plus the knowledge and know-how to complete the repairs needed to update the home. We priced it similarly to the original sales price. I thought that a qualified buyer was going to be a little harder to come by, but lo and behold, the house hit the market on a Saturday and by Tuesday, we had 7 offers from which to choose.  My friend had her choice of some very good offers and her home sold for higher than the asking price.  What I thought was going to be a long and drawn out listing and sale turned out to be a low stress and fast closing transaction.

    In real estate sales it is often said that location, price and condition are all pieces of the puzzle to a successful sale.  It is indeed true as we had a good location and our asking price accounted for the home’s condition making this a very marketable property.  In the future I will embrace these types of properties as it proves there is value in all properties.

  • Are Open Houses Important?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Billings  |  June 18, 2013 10:49 AM  |  209 views  |  No comments

    Yes! As realtors, we have plenty to do throughout the week. Throw in a Sunday open house and it can become overwhelming and add stress to the already full week. You can approach open houses with two different attitudes. You can dread the extra time needed for open houses or you can look forward to hosting them. I found that when I had the attitude of “I have another open house this Sunday ‘Aagh’, I wouldn’t enjoy it or be very successful. I soon realized that I had to change my way of thinking.

    Now, when I am having an open house, I think to myself, “This will be good! I get to spend time in a nice house for several hours and visit with people in a casual environment.” This positive attitude allows me to enjoy open houses. The casual setting takes away pressure and just visiting with the attendees can be quite fun.

    Last Sunday, I met an individual and had a very nice conversation with him and his wife. They needed a carpenter’s name and also wanted to know how our market was performing. Were they looking to sell or buy right away? No, but just initiating conversations at an open houses creates strong building blocks for great relationships and can very well be a great source for future clients!

    As with anything, your attitude makes a world of difference in how you handle problems, work tasks or personal challenges. My recommendation is to look forward to open houses and just sit back and enjoy nice homes and good conversations!

  • Mold and Our Belief System

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Billings, Property Q&A in Billings, Home Ownership in Billings  |  May 23, 2013 12:17 PM  |  257 views  |  No comments

    Mold and Real Estate
    As real estate professionals, our   job is not to discover and mitigate mold, but to disclose when we see it and to refer a professional firm  to remedy the problem. However, it’s always good to know more about subjects that affect the real estate market. I recently attended a continuing education class all about mold. It was a four-hour intensive class taught by Jim Pearson of Clean Air Expert, LLC and author of “What’s all the Fuss about Mold”. During those four hours, I learned a great deal about mold.

    Many people think that mold problems have been greatly exaggerated and that mold cannot hurt them. This is false. There are a number of different types of mold; some are non-toxic whereas others are extremely toxic. Exposure to mold can weaken immune systems, allowing for a variety of health problems, especially respiratory and skin. It also contributes to 95% of chronic sinus infections.

    In order to grow, mold needs both a food source and water. It is commonly found under sinks, in basements and throughout water-damaged areas. Avoid wiping mold as it spreads the mold spores; instead grab it. I’d always thought that bleach was the best way to remove mold. But, according to Jim Pearson, pine sol actually works better. However, with mold, removal isn’t good enough. You need to address the cause. With household mold, it’s always a good idea to contact a professional. Depending on the size of the job, mold removal can run anywhere from around $300 and up.

    Luckily, there are several steps you can take to prevent mold growth in your home. Always keep the indoor humidity below 50%; the lower humidity takes away the moisture that mold needs to grow. Additionally, you should use air conditioning during humid months to promote proper ventilation. Never have carpeting in bathrooms and, if present, remove them whenever possible. You should also run fans while showering to prevent the buildup of humidity in the bathroom. However, if mold does appear, it’s better to contact a qualified professional firm rather than trying to remove it yourself.

    For further resources on mold, please visit Jim Pearson’s website at www.thecleanairexpert.com 

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