7 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Seller’s Agent

talking with a real estate professionalYour home is likely the largest financial investment you have, so it makes sense to carefully choose the right agent to represent you when you sell it. The best real estate agent will walk you through the whole process, showcase your home in the best light, give you feedback from showings and open houses, and let you know whether you should accept a buyer’s offer up front or negotiate for a higher price.

It’s a good idea to talk to more than one listing agent before you sign on with one. As you’re interview listing agents, ask these questions so you can determine which agent will best help you sell quickly and for the most money possible.

1. What’s Your Real Estate Experience?

A listing agent who has been in real estate for several years or has sold plenty of properties has seen all kinds of scenarios. If this agent has overcome challenging home-selling hurdles before, he or she will know how to avoid or mitigate these stressful situations during your home sale, should they arise.

2. What’s Your Sale-to-List-Price Ratio?

This percentage will tell you if this agent consistently sells homes close to or over the list price, which is the price that’s set when the home goes on market.

3. What are Your Average Days on Market Stats?

In other words, how quickly do sellers’ homes go under contract with this agent? Agents who sell homes quickly often use advanced marketing or advertising techniques and are highly skilled negotiators.

seller texting her real estate agent4. How—And How Often—Will You Contact Me?

How frequently does the agent you’re interviewing provide updates or check in with his or her sellers? The best real estate agent will keep you updated about everything that’s going on with your listing—and contact you over your preferred method of communication, whether it’s email, phone call, or text.

5. When are You Available?

If you contact your listing agent after office hours or on the weekend, is your agent going to get back to you before Monday morning? If you work regular 9-to-5 hours, getting in touch with an agent who also only works those hours might prove difficult or inconvenient.

6. How Do You Plan to Market My Home?

Marketing is key to getting your listing in front of as many buyers as possible, including those searching online for properties, glancing at magazine and newspaper ads, and driving by homes that are for sale. During the interview phase, ask for the specifics of each agent’s marketing plan.

7. Can You Give Me at Least Three References?

Ask the agent you’re interviewing for testimonials from past home sellers—which can include online reviews or video testimonials—or a list of references. Call the agent’s past clients and ask general questions about their experiences to get an idea of the agent’s responsiveness, helpfulness, and tech-savviness.

We’re Available to Answer All of Your Questions

We’d be happy to answer your questions about listing your home, whether they’re these seven essential interview questions or general questions about the home selling process. Just give us a call or shoot us an email.

9 Moments All Home Buyers Experience

You’re armed with your pre-approval letter, your wants and needs list, and your knowledge of the real estate market. Now comes the fun part: searching for homes! Like any part of buying a home, the home search has its ups and downs. But once you’re living in your new home, spending weekends shopping for furniture and décor, and enjoying all the amenities of your new location, you know you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Here are the moments only home buyers understand.

home buyers searching for homes

1. When You Hit “Search” for the First Time

You put your price range, number of bedrooms, and a couple of must-have features into an online home search tool, then hold your breath while the results page loads. Look at all those listings! Your new home is just a click away!

sign pointing to home for sale

2. When You Make a Day of Driving Through Your Favorite Neighborhoods

You find yourself giving this excuse to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else who wants to make plans: “Sorry, I’m busy all weekend. I’m going to open houses!”

buyers looking at homes

3. When You Fall in Love with Several Different Homes

You just can’t help it! You’re picturing yourself reading by the window, cooking meals in the kitchen, decorating the bedrooms, exploring the trails nearby, and even running errands to the closest grocery store.

buyer who's stressed out

4. When You Go Overboard on Your Must-See List

Your Realtor warned you not to have a long list of homes. Now that you’ve seen a handful of properties, each new home is starting to look just like the one before it, and trying to keep them all straight is making your head hurt. The home buying struggle is real.

parents stressed out about listings

5. When Your Favorite Home Goes Off the Market

Another buyer scooped up your favorite property before you could even call your real estate agent for a showing, or worse, the home goes off market just before you’re about to make an offer.

attic stuffed with boxes and clutter

6. When You Tour a Home That Clearly Isn’t Ready to Sell

For a second you think you’re in the wrong place. There are fingerprint smudges on the windows, dust bunnies in the corners, clutter in the closets, family photos on the walls, home décor that’s easily 30 years old… Yikes. This looks nothing like the online listing photos you fell in love with!

looking at new listings

7. When a New Listing with All Your Criteria Hits the Market

This property has everything you’ve been searching for, and it just showed up in your inbox! You scramble to schedule a showing, make an offer, and thank your Realtor for signing you up for email alerts.

buyer talking with a Realtor

8. When You Still Don’t Understand Parts of the Closing Process

Even though your agent explained everything that happens after you make an offer, you’re still confused about some things, like the difference between “due diligence fee” and “earnest money.” Due diligence is a courtesy amount of a few hundred dollars you pay the seller to take their home off the market. (You get this money back.) But earnest money, which is a fraction of your down payment, you don’t get back.

new homeowners unpacking

9. When You Finally Move Into Your New Home

All those days spent researching neighborhoods, cancelling plans to go to showings, and taking pages and pages of notes about your favorite properties have paid off. The home is finally yours!

We’ll Help You Find Your New Home

The home buying process has its ups and downs, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. We’ll sign you up for alerts of new listings, coordinate showings, and guide you from your home search to the closing table. Ready to get started? Just give us a call!

Beat the Winter Blues with Colorful Home Décor

The winter holidays and New Year’s have come and gone, and so have all the decorations. With no twinkling lights or festive ornaments brightening up its main living areas, your home can start to look a little bare. Not to worry! Here are a few winter home decorating ideas that can cheer you up and bring back the holiday sparkle. And if you’re planning to sell your home this season, these tips will also help you impress potential buyers with your warm, welcoming home.

seasonal wreath on doorKeep the Wreath on Your Front Door

A splash of color in your entryway can bring a smile to your face even on the gloomiest winter mornings. Add sprigs of holly, frosted pine cones, or a colorful bow to an evergreen wreath and hang it over your door for a fun and festive winter look. (Plus, home buyers pay special attention to your entryway, so a seasonal wreath is key to creating the best first impression.)

Get Cozy Around the Fire

Have a fireplace? Turn it on! Nothing beats a peaceful winter evening reading or sipping coffee by a crackling fire.

Spice Up Your Home

Cinnamon, vanilla, and spruce are cozy wintertime scents that can add a touch of magic to your home. The fragrances from scented candles will complement your winter home décor nicely (and create that special feeling of “home” for potential buyers).

blue and white furnishingsSwap Holiday Colors with Winter Palettes

An effortless way to transition from holiday décor to winter décor is to switch color schemes. These are color combinations HGTV recommends for decorating your living room, dining room, bedroom, and other spaces in your home:

  • Gray, white, silver, and turquoise
  • Red, silver, and white
  • Dark brown, dark purple, and reddish orange
  • Pale green, beige, and copper
  • Navy, beige, and white

Let the Winter Sunshine In

Keeping the curtains closed can make your home look dreary. Brighten up your living spaces with natural light during the daytime, and light a few candles when the sun goes down. Buyers love homes that are cheery, bright, and spacious; opening the windows not only fills your home with light, it also makes your home appear larger.

Keep Winter Blues at Bay When Selling

If you’re planning to sell your home this winter, keep these winter home décor tips in mind. Home buyers want to feel cozy and comfortable in a place they’ll soon call home; a bright and cheery interior will leave the best impression. We’re more than happy to talk with you about selling your home. Contact us if you’d like more staging tips and home selling resources.

The Top Real Estate Resolutions (And How to Keep Them)

Want to visit the gym more? Finally complete the home improvement project you’ve been working on? Save money for that new watch/car/house/vacation? January 1 is the perfect time to jumpstart your goals. If you’re like most people, according to Money Magazine, you probably have “stay fit,” “spend less,” or “enjoy the most out of life” on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

Did a few real estate goals make it on your list, too? You’re not alone. Here are a few of the most popular home-buying or home-selling goals, and a few tips on how to achieve them.

Buy Your First Home

brand new homeownersYou’re ready to take that first step to homeownership in the New Year. You likely already have an area or neighborhood in mind, and you have a few features that you’d like in your new home.

How to keep it: Buying a home is a major project. It may be easier for you to achieve this goal if you set smaller, more manageable goals, such as putting aside money every month for a down payment, reviewing your budget, and researching reputable lenders.

Make Extra Payments on Your Mortgage

If you currently own a home, you might be trying to pay it off quickly, knowing that paying even a fraction of your mortgage ahead of time can cut out a few years (and hundreds of dollars in interest). You might have even taken some time to determine how much you could feasibly pay extra every month.

How to keep it: Don’t feel like you need to make dramatic changes to your monthly payments. Instead, save up just a few dollars a week to put aside toward your mortgage.

Put Your Home on the Market

You’ve decided that 2017 is the year to sell your home. Maybe you’ve started getting rid of household items you no longer need, or maybe you’ve started making a few small home improvements. This is a great first step to achieving your real estate goals.

How to keep it: Forbes shared the secret to keeping New Year’s resolutions, and one of the top tips is to make your goals specific. If you want to sell your home for a high price, for instance, determine what amount you want for your home. Start researching which homes near you have recently sold to get an idea of market conditions and what prices are realistic. Just ask us for a Neighborhood Sold Report or a free home evaluation.

Invest in Your First Property

investing in real estateHave you been thinking about investing in real estate to make extra money? Because this type of investment requires a little more real estate and financial knowledge, you might have already started doing a little research before you begin. Knowing common terms, understanding the basics of investing, and having a good handle on your finances can save you time and effort down the road.

How to keep it: Maintain detailed records of your finances. Do your research. Give yourself a deadline to have your down payment and cash reserves (if you don’t have the cash to buy the property outright). Determine how much money you want to make. Then, set aside the time to meet with a real estate agent to talk about your goals and which properties would be best for you.

We’ll Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

Whether you’re buying or selling a home in 2017, we will do everything we can to help you with your resolutions. You can take the first steps now by viewing the resources available on our website, or you can contact us directly to talk about your plans.

Selling a Silicon Valley Home in 2017? Step-by-Step Instructions to Make it Happen!

Thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home in 2017? home for sale in the silicon valleyThere’s actually quite a bit of planning and preparation involved—if you want to get the greatest possible amount of money for your home. Here are step-by-step instructions to make it happen!

Step 1: Find Your Realtor

One of the most important things you can do when selling a home in the Silicon Valley is to work with a trustworthy and highly experienced Realtor. A Realtor with the right experience and knowledge can offer you invaluable advice throughout the selling process, including home staging, marketing, and negotiation.

When to start: at least 2 months out.

Step 2: Consider Repairs & Improvements

Your Realtor will do a walkthrough of your home and make note of any features, rooms, or areas that require attention. Sometimes, the simplest repairs, minor renovations, and touch-ups can add significant value to your home. Additionally, if you know of any maintenance problems or issues with your home, you will want to fix them well before you start showing your home.beautiful remodeled kitchen in the silicon valley

Some easy ways to improve your home’s value can include painting (inside and outside), replacing old or tarnished hardware in your kitchen, bathroom, and on your doors, improving your landscaping, updating or refinishing flooring, and fixing roofing and siding.

When to start: 6 to 8 weeks out.

Step 3: Determine Your Selling Price

Work with your Realtor to compare your home to homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood to determine a competitive listing price for your home. This will take into account any improvements and repairs that you’ve completed, as well as the state of the local real estate market.

When to start: 6 weeks out.

Step 4: Start Decluttering

One of the biggest improvements you can make for your home is to declutter and depersonalize. This does take time, but it can make your home look larger, cleaner, and more welcoming. Removing personalized decor, furniture, or photos can even help your buyers picture their own personalizations in their potential new home.

When to start: at least 4 weeks out.

Step 5: Deep Clean

As soon as you’ve finished removing the big clutter, it’s time to go in deep and give your house the most thorough cleaning it’s ever had. If you’re not a big fan of cleaning, hire a professional maid service. If you have pets or stained carpet, it might also be beneficial to enlist a professional carpet cleaner.beautifully staged living room

Step 6: Stage & Photograph

Work with your Realtor to stage your home to be welcoming, neat, and organized. Proper staging can be used to highlight your home’s best features, make your rooms appear bigger and brighter, and truly make buyers feel welcome. Additionally, professional photography will paint your home in its best light—and allow buyers to view it from their computers, tablets, and phones.

Step 7: List Your Home Online

It’s time! But don’t just throw your listing online at any old time. Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the busiest online buyer-browsing days, so it can be beneficial to post your listing on a Thursday or Friday morning so it’s ready for the weekend. Additionally, never post an incomplete listing (without professional photos, detailed description, and home statistics), as buyers aren’t likely to click.

Are You Ready to Start the Silicon Valley Home Selling Process?

If you’re thinking of selling your Silicon Valley home in 2017, then it’s time to start now! Contact Gary & Robert today—we’re your Silicon Valley expert Realtors, and we’ll help you sell your home every step along the way, from home staging to marketing and negotiations.

Selling Your Home in 2017? Here are the Latest Market Predictions

notebook with new year's goalsIt’s that time of year: Many homeowners are looking to the New Year and planning their 2017 real estate resolutions (sell the house, move to the suburbs, buy that dream vacation home, etc.).

If you’re planning your own New Year’s real estate resolutions, you might be researching 2017 housing market predictions to figure out when you should sell your home and what tomorrow’s home buyers are searching for. After all, you’ve invested your time and money into your property. Don’t you want to see your hard work pay off?

Here are a few real estate predictions for 2017 that may come into play when you sell your home.

Buyers Want the Best of Both Worlds

If you live in a suburban community that’s surrounded by urban amenities, chances are good that your location will be a selling point for buyers. MarketWatch predicts that buyers want “surban” homes just steps from shops, restaurants, schools, and parks.

These Home Features are “In”

Formal dining rooms and dark kitchen cabinets are out. Open layouts, white kitchens, and first-floor master suites are just a few of the “in” real estate features of 2017, according to Builder Online.

Don’t have any of these features in your current home? Don’t worry. We can help you add value to your home so you can sell for the most money possible (no costly renovations required).

Sustainable and Smart Homes are a Priority

house with smart entertainment systemEven though green homes aren’t a new idea, the trend will likely continue into 2017. Since many buyers are eager to save money on monthly energy bills, energy-efficient home features and “smart” home systems are inching toward the “needs” column on buyers’ wants and needs lists. REALTOR® Magazine’s 2017 design trend predictions include more efficient HVAC systems, low-E window film, and even circadian lighting.

Thinking about making “green” upgrades to your home? We can help you determine which energy-saving features will give you the highest return when you sell.

Determined to Sell Your Home in 2017?

We can help you check “home selling” off your list of New Year’s resolutions. We offer invaluable resources on our website about preparing your home for sale, understanding the current market, and pricing your home. Contact us and we’ll help you get started.

How 2016 Technology Has Changed Your Home Search Forever

scrolling through mobile phoneWhen was the last time you hopped in your car to start your home search? Most home buyers today just pick up their phones to instantly view properties all around the country — no car required.

Each year, new tech changes the way that we interact with the world. Here are just a few of the ways 2016 technology has changed the way buyers find real estate.

You Can Access Anything On the Go

Your home search doesn’t stop while you’re out and about. Today’s technology has made it easier to access information when you need it. While you’re waiting in line at the store or idly scrolling through your phone, you can find articles about the home buying process on social media, see listings on a mobile search app, or check commute times from homes you’re considering.

Video Tours Have Evolved

Listing photos are incredibly helpful for home buyers who are looking online for properties. But now, video tours make deciding on homes even easier. Instagram, Facebook Live, and even Snapchat are just a few of the many platforms that you can use to find video tours.

“Smart” Home Features are Becoming a Priority

Remember earlier this year when the Pokémon Go mobile app was released? Proximity to a “Pokéstop” — a point of interest where players could collect items for the game — was listed as a feature in property descriptions, at least for a little while. The Pokémon Go craze is just one of many instances where technology is becoming a priority in and near homes that buyers are considering.

home with smart featuresToday’s home buyers can purchase smart home security cameras, install programmable thermostats, and invest in the security systems of tomorrow. Green homes, energy-efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring systems help homeowners save money. With the right mobile apps, your smartphone can control just about anything in your home, from lights to locks.

One Thing That Will Never Change…

The Internet is saturated with information, both good and bad. But one thing you can’t glean from technology is the ability to navigate the complex real estate process. Even with all the innovations in technology, you’ll still need an experienced real estate agent to help you buy a home.

Are you searching for a home in our area? We’ll help you find just what you’re looking for and handle every detail of your transaction. Contact us and let’s get started.

Downsizing Your Home? Use These Tips to Plan Your Move

kitchen and dining roomMaybe the thought of moving to a smaller, low-maintenance home has only briefly crossed your mind, or maybe you’re seriously considering downsizing. But before you trade your too-large house in for, say, a cozy condo downtown, there are a few things to consider.

Downsizing requires quite a bit of planning: You may need to figure out what to keep and what to discard, choose between the love seat and the sofa for your new living room, and determine which furniture pieces can serve multiple functions.

Here are a few downsizing tips to help you prepare to sell your current home.

Start Reducing Your Possessions Now

The sooner you are able to get rid of furniture, household items, and knickknacks you no longer use or need, the better off you’ll be. When you do decide to sell your home, you will thank yourself for spending a few hours a week decluttering now rather than waiting to do everything all at once.

If You Can, Sell Instead of Discard

Many homeowners choose to downsize to spend less money on a mortgage and more money on fun experiences. If you are able to start decluttering weeks in advance, you will have the time to sell unwanted possessions and save the money for future vacations. Consider hosting a yard sale, posting items for sale online, or having high-end items appraised.

Have a Plan

notepad with wadded paperTo avoid getting overwhelmed by all the work involved in downsizing, form a plan to keep your stress at bay. Consider these planning tips:

  • Make a checklist of possessions you cannot live without in your new home.
  • Create a checklist of wants and needs for your new home.
  • Determine which items you can pack now and which items you need to keep handy.
  • Start packing your nonessential belongings.

Get Started by Working with a Real Estate Expert

One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make, whether or not they’re downsizing, is not hiring a real estate professional to make the most of their investment. An agent’s experience and knowledge will help you sell your home for the most money possible, allowing you to use the proceeds to purchase a smaller home.

Are you thinking about downsizing? Start the process by requesting a market analysis for your property. Contact us to learn more.

The Essentials for Entertaining Big in a Small Home

homeowner setting dining tableWith the holiday season approaching, many homeowners are starting to plan get-togethers with friends or family. While entertaining can be more of a challenge in a smaller home, it’s not impossible to host a memorable dinner party with your loved ones if you’re working with limited space.

Here are a few tips for throwing a large dinner party in a small area.

Before Guests Arrive, Clean and Clear Your Home

You don’t have to put as much effort into cleaning and decluttering as if you were selling a home; the basics will do.

Put away any unnecessary furniture, home décor, and kitchen appliances before the dinner party. Clean and dust the rooms that guests will visit: bathrooms, the kitchen, and the dining area. If you have pets, don’t forget to vacuum upholstery and stash toys or the litter box out of sight.

Get Creative with Guest Seating

You likely don’t keep a dozen matching chairs in storage just for dinner parties. Show off your creativity by relocating chairs, stools, benches, or ottomans currently in your home around the dinner table.

appetizers on raised food standsMaximize Your Table Space

Invest in a tiered platter for dinner parties. Raising the serving plates gives the appearance of more space on your counters and tables and keeps your serving stations from looking cramped.

To further free up space on your dining room table, keep the centerpiece decorations to a minimum. Instead, hang decorations from your walls or ceiling to maximize your space.

Trying to Make the Most of Your Space?

If you’re downsizing but still want to entertain friends and family in your new home, there are many ways to make the most of your space while still enjoying memorable occasions with your loved ones. As real estate experts, we can share downsizing tips and help you find a home that’s just the right size. Contact us to learn more.

Stage Your Home Like This to Make it Stand Out From the Crowd

This charming Santa Clara home has been recently renovated and upgraded to include some pretty luxurious features—so we staged it to stand out from the crowd of other Silicon Valley homes to be sure buyers really notice—and remember—all its great qualities.

2867 Kearney Ave: Quaint on the Outside, Shiney New on the Inside

silicon valley homes for saleFirst impressions are the most important! Notice the pristine front landscaping (all drought-resistant), the immaculate front walkway, and the fresh paint and trim, all of which entice curious buyers to look inside.

Welcome In: A Bright, Sunny Living Room

staged living roomVisitors feel warm and welcome in this room of bright, natural lighting, neutral coloring, tasteful decor, and comfortable seating, yet the air of luxury—glossy floors, custom ceiling fan, elegant furniture and immaculately-placed pillows—is still definitely predominant.

Room to Dream: Keep it Simple in the Kitchen

staged kitchen Warm lighting pours through the overhead skylight, and the counters are pristinely clean but not stark, allowing visitors to begin mentally placing their own belongings and appliances throughout one of the most-used and well-loved rooms in the house.

Casual Class: A Cozy California Bedroom

beautiful bedroomSimplicity, elegance, and a sense of warmth and coziness—this bedroom has it all.

Stark Elegance: A Pristine, Newly-Remodeled Bathroom

newly remodeled bathroomThis bathroom was just recently completely renovated—note the elegant shower tiling, the marble bathroom counters, and the custom hardware and lighting. The best way to showcase elegant new features like this is to let them stand on their own to be admired.

Neatly Maintained: A Place to Spend the Afternoon

landscaped backyardThe backyard is important! Where else will you spend a sunny afternoon gardening or an evening barbecuing on the patio under the stars? Tidy landscaping, neat walkways, a tasteful fence, and a large patio area set the scene for your guests’ outdoor visions.

Ready to Stage Your Silicon Valley Home Just Like This?

If you’re selling a home in the Silicon Valley, then you should know the dire importance of good staging! If you want your home staged right, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. We’re your expert local Realtors and home stagers, and we’re ready to help you sell your home!

Want to See This Home in Person?

Did our staging work? If you liked the beautiful home you saw above, then give us a call! It’s on the market, and it’s ready to see in person. Not quite the right fit? We can help you search homes for sale in the Silicon Valley until you find the perfect home.