Need help moving? A couple young lads to lift something heavy? Check out Bellhops!
Bellhops is an online on-demand service for hiring college students for moving jobs. They’re located in over 100 cities and have 10,000 student bellhops. At UNCW, there are 75 students alone who are part of the service and ready to be booked for all your heavy lifting.
Now, don’t confuse them with movers. They’re here for the small moves. Think of them as the “buddies” that are supposed to help you move over the weekend. According Bellhops, if the move doesn’t go as quickly as you think it should, they’ll refund time. If something gets broken during the process, they’ll pay for it. They’re license and insured, and they’re guaranteed to show up! So, this is even better than your buddies.
You’ll be “introduced” to your Bellhops before they show, so you know who to expect, and they’re put through a strict screening process before they’re hired. Their fees are $40 per hour with a 1-hour minimum, and you can book them completely online or call them. Just know that they don’t provide the truck.
Right now, Bellhops covers a 20 mile radius around Wilmington, but in early 2015 that will change to 75 miles. Also coming soon is a mobile app that will help to more accurately track moves.
Have you used Bellhops yet?
Need a full service mover? Send us a message for a referral!
As the person who handles the marketing for The Cameron Team, I'm looking at multiple homes per day, and I have to admit, I occasionally ask, “How the heck do they live like that? The home looks like a museum, everything’s perfect!” I go home to my 1,200 square-foot brick ranch where there are toys and books scattered across the living room where my toddler has decided they must go, mail from last week sitting on my dining room table, my other half’s jacket and shirt (and pants and hat…) draped over a chair where he abandoned them after work last night, and half of our belongings are precariously piled onto the top two or three shelves of every unit in our house where they can’t be reached by little hands…and I sigh.
But, do you know what this is? Me forgetting my job.
I know from experience that the house you sell and the house you live in are not the same thing, theoretically. Your home should be a reflection of who you are. After all, you are the one living there. However, if you want to sell quickly, you need to make it appeal to the most people possible and that includes making changes that make it look polished and, basically, unlived in. You want the buyer to picture their things, not yours.
Ask any Realtor and they’ll admit that their own homes are far from perfect. They too have pictures of their children plastered across their walls and refrigerators. They may even have some crazy art that no one, but them truly appreciate or understand. Their paint colors may even echo their last trip to the Caribbean. However, they too go through all the steps of staging when it comes time to put their home on the market.
This is why you can’t take staging suggestions personally. They are not judgments on your lifestyle or decorating tastes: they are reflections of the current market and buyer desires. The suggestions you apply depend on your motivation to sell. In the end, it’s all in your best interest.
If you have any questions about staging or selling your home in the Wilmington area, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.
We’ve published a lot of blog posts over the years, but some have proved to be more popular than others. I recently analyzed our traffic for the year and made a list of the most popular blog posts for 2014. Some were posted this year, some are from previous years, but all have proved beneficial for our readers. Take a look…
1. “How Homes Have Changed Over the Past 60 Years”
You can learn a lot about a decade by analyzing the homes produced during that time. House sizes, room types, and floor plans all give clues to the expectations and overall economics of the people who lived then. Read more…
Positioned at the northern edge of New Hanover County in the Porters Neck area of Wilmington, NC, is the wonderful thriving community of Plantation Landing. Home to green spaces and quiet streets, this community boasts a club house, playground, tennis courts, and multiple swimming pools. Read more…
3. “The North Carolina Listing Contract: The Basics”
The North Carolina Listing Contract, also referred to as a listing agreement, gives a licensed real estate professional in North Carolina authorization to act on your behalf in the sale of your property. Listing contracts differ according to the type of property (Home or Vacant Land) and the agreement (Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, etc.), but there are features which are common to all. Read more…
Located between Middle Sound Loop Road and Military Cutoff Road, Covil Estates is a diverse community with easy access to shopping and entertainment on the north end of Wilmington, NC. Mayfaire Town Center’s shopping, restaurants, and movie theater are just down the road, and Ogden’s growing commercial area is less than 5 minutes away. Read more…
5. “What Do North Carolina Home Sellers Need to Disclose?”
Wilmington Realtors® are often asked what’s required to be disclosed at the sale of a home. This is different from state-to-state, even city-to-city, because each has their own real estate commission that decides what is or isn’t important. Read more…
6. “HAMP, HARP, and HAFA Extended to 2015”
The U.S. Secretary of Treasury recently announced that three major parts of the Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) were extended to December 31, 2015. Originally set to expire on December 31, 2013, MHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), and Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) have been renewed. Read more….
7. “Repurposing Your Formal Living Room into a Library”
Today, we have a guest blog post from mommy blogger Bethany from "I was promised more naps...". When you're searching for a Wilmington area home to buy, don't feel confined to room labels. Just because a description calls a room a dining room, living room, etc., doesn't mean it needs to be used for just that. Read more…
Brittany Lakes is a lovely community dotted with serene ponds and canals filled with local wildlife and native vegetation. Located in the Ogden area of Wilmington, it’s accessible from Murrayville Road, White Road, and Market Street with I-40 a short drive away. Read more…
9. “North Carolina 2012 Fence and Wall Codes for Swimming Pools”
Many North Carolina homeowners ask, “Do we need to install a fence around our swimming pool?” The answer is YES! Read more…
10. “Are Front Porches on the Rise in Wilmington?”
I was scanning the real estate news today and came across a headline that instantly caught my attention: “Front porches making a big comeback”. This was a national article and it made me chuckle. Read more…
You may have noticed that one of these posts was a guest post. We've done a few this year and welcome guest posts under the topics of Home Decorating, Home Improvement, Moving, and DIY. If you're interested in guest blogging on our website, send us a message through our Contact page.
I’m going to preface this blog with the fact that there are many GREAT real estate agents in the Wilmington area. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some very professional individuals and teams on both the listing and selling side of closing transactions. However, I’m constantly watching what other real estate agents, both locally and in other parts of the country are doing, and there are people (just as there are in every field) that have left me shaking my head, and I hate to see home owners suffer due to a lack of knowledge. So...
If you’re thinking of hiring a real estate agent or you already have (this is not a solicitation for your listing), here are 6 signs you’ve hired the wrong agent.
They’ve offered no advice for preparing your home for sale. If the agent hasn’t given you any tips on staging, pricing, or addressing the negative features of your home (no property is perfect!), they may be afraid to anger you and/or lack the leadership skills needed to guide you through the selling process. Remember, a good agent might not always tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell you the truth and that’s what gets homes sold.
Your home’s description in the MLS is written in all caps, has poor punctuation, or is only a few sentences long. If the agent can’t take the time to write a description pointing out your home’s best features, they either don’t have enough experience to understand the role of the description in marketing your home online or they don’t care. Either way, they’re doing you a disservice.
The pictures of your home were taken with a smartphone. Cameras on smartphones are improving with each new generation of devices, but a professional knows that interior photos just don’t come out as clear or bright as pictures taken with a regular camera. Smartphones don’t function as well in low light conditions and the raw images regular cameras produce are of better quality. Also, many agents who use their smartphones to take photos don’t know how to use the included features or setup the shot to get the highest quality photos they can, so the home turns out looking dark and dingy. Pictures sell homes. They should be one of your listing agent’s biggest priorities.
After the home is listed, they rarely answer your phone calls. This is a big red flag! The job of the agent is to work WITH you to sell your home. If you can’t call them with your concerns or to ask questions, how can you trust they are going to help you make the best decision when you’re presented with an offer?
You Google their name and they’re nowhere on the first (or second…or third...or fourth) page. 90% of home buyers conduct their search online. Yes, the number one priority is getting your home, not necessarily your agent, found online, but it doesn’t take much to get a profile indexed in a search engine. If they have no web presence, it’s likely they don’t take the trends of buyers seriously and won’t put much into marketing to them.
They don’t provide any samples of their marketing for your home. Your agent won’t be able to provide proof for every bit of marketing they do as some of it is done in-house and by word-of-mouth, but they should provide you some guidance on how to find your home online, as well as samples of the flyers and mailings they do. If you see nothing, you may want to question how much marketing they’ve actually done, because some agents think putting the home in the MLS is all the marketing they need to do. That’s like saying, “If you build it, they will come.” “They” won’t. I can promise you that.
With the announcement that filming of the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens” has finished filming and rumors we may see the first trailer in the next 5-6 months, it’s hard for fans not to feel excited. But did you know there are some good lessons for home sellers to learn from the Star Wars universe? Here are a few I noticed.
1. First Impressions are Important
Obi-Wan: [in reference to the Death Star] "That's no moon. It's a space station." Han Solo: "It's too big to be a space station." Luke: "I have a very bad feeling about this."
What first impression is your home giving? Did you know it only takes 15 seconds for a buyer to form an opinion of your home? That’s pretty much the walk from their car to your front door. That says a lot about curb appeal!
So, is your curb appeal saying “well maintained”, “greatness lies inside”, or “we blow up entire planets for a living”? If it’s the latter, we have some talking to do. For tips on preparing your home for sale, visit our seller pages!
2. Let the Professionals Do the Work
Luke Skywalker: [on first seeing the Millenium Falcon] What a piece of junk! Han Solo: She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.
Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a bet during the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament. Afterwards, he started adding his own enhancements to the ship. The jammer that Solo installed was so powerful that the first time the unit was tested, it disrupted the information relays inside the Falcon itself just as an Imperial ship was launching. Luckily, it made the Falcon shut down making it unnoticeable to the Imperial ship. This was just one instance when Solo’s “special modifications” put him in a bind.
If you’re a handy person and have done a lot of the work around your home to keep it maintained, that’s great! Just know that anything done without a permit when one was required could get you in trouble with the county, the extent of which fully depends on the circumstances. Also, any repairs requested during the due diligence should be done by a professional. This isn’t just for the buyer’s peace of mind, but to cover you, as well. You don’t want to be held liable for repairs that were not done correctly. If the professional makes the mistake, they are the ones who will have to correct it.
3. Being Caught Off-Guard Could Cost You a Hand and a…
On Cloud City, Luke Skywalker is caught off-guard by a trap set by Darth Vader. He enters into the epic duel that will eventually lead to the loss of his hand and the revelation that Vader is his father. It isn’t the news about his father that leads him to lose his hand, but rather his belief that he knows all he needs to in order to defeat Vader when, in fact, Vader is holding back revealing the extent of his abilities the whole time.
As a home seller, it’s important you aren’t caught off-guard by any “traps” set by your home…figuratively speaking, of course. You may have made it a priority to maintain your home’s condition throughout the time you owned it, but you just never know when something may break. Ordering a home warranty when you list the property will help to alleviate the costs of repairs for yourself and the buyers. 2-10 Home Warranty will cover your home without any upfront payments as long as your home is listed. If something breaks, rather than paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for the repairs, you pay a small deductible. This is covered in more detail in their brochure.
4. Don’t Let Your Emotions Rule You or You May End Up Going to the Dark Side
Chancellor Palpatine convinced Anakin Skywalker to give in to the dark side of the force by telling him about a Sith Lord who could stop people from dying. This is exactly what he wanted to hear - that it could help him save his wife, Amidala, from dying, as he had seen in his visions. Instead, his very act of giving into the dark side led to the death of his wife in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now, we’re not saying you’re going to become an evil Sith Lord, but we highly suggest you don’t believe everything you’re told. Some agents will tell you exactly what you want to hear in order to get you to list your home with them, but when it comes time to produce results, you may find there aren’t many. So, make sure you’re asking the right questions and requesting testimonials before you hire anyone. A good agent might not tell you what you want to hear, but they’ll tell you the truth.
By the way, the original headline for this section was “Do Your Research or You May End Up Kissing Your Sister”. Yeah, not quite the same effect.
5. Do or Do Not, There is No Try
During his training of Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda provides one of the most famous quotes from the Star Wars Trilogy – “Do or do not. There is not try.” His intent is to teach Luke to commit himself completely to his training. “Trying” is committing to an excuse before he fails or succeeds. He either raises his ship into the air or he doesn’t.
When you list your home for sale, you need to fully commit to it. Sellers that don’t want to take the time to work on the presentation of their home or frequently decline showings will not see the offers that other comparable homes do. If your home doesn’t look maintained, buyers will undervalue it. If you often decline showings, not only will you possibly be turning away your buyer, but Realtors will deem you difficult to work with and may choose not to add you to their clients’ list of homes. Then, your home will sit on the market for months and that also can hurt the sale of your home, because Realtors and buyers will see the history of your home, question the reasons for it not selling, and probably avoid it, even if you take it off the market for a few weeks. You truly need to give it your all from the first day of listing or you might as well not list.
We know potential selling price is a big driving force for homeowners. If you aren’t sure what other homes are selling for in your neighborhood, you can find out on our home values website (it’s automated and free) or you can call us and we’ll do a Comparative Market Analysis, which is your most accurate choice.
6. You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned
Yoda is chock-full of great wisdom. If you watched the clip above, you heard Yoda say, "You must unlearn what you have learned." This is another quote from Luke’s training on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back. At this point, Yoda is telling Luke that he needs to relearn his way of thinking. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
If you’ve sold a home in the past (over 2-3 years ago) or are taking advice from a friend or family member who has, one might say you need to unlearn what you have learned, because there have been so many changes. New laws, new technology, and new buyer habits have made selling a home a whole new ball game. There was a time when selling a house only required a 4-6 page contract. A basic contract today is 16 pages or more (even oil rights are covered), and only increases depending on the age of your home and the current state of your finances (if you need to short sale it). Then, add in the fact that 90% of buyers start their home search online and you quickly realize that marketing the home is no longer just placing an ad in the local newspaper or holding an open house.
When sellers list with us, we walk them through the whole process from signing the paperwork to marketing. Here’s a brief overview of our marketing plan.
If you're thinking of selling your Wilmington area home and would like to know more about how we can help you get it sold, give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.
Choosing a listing price can be challenging for homeowners. They have to identify comparable properties that have recently sold, and decide which features make their home more valuable or less valuable than those identified. This requires knowing recent trends and looking at the properties with an impartial view. Probably one of the most difficult aspects of this task is identifying which investments are just maintenance and which add value to the home.
Every home has the same basic systems (plumbing, electrical, and air conditioning/heating) and features (roof, kitchen appliances, and floors/walls). Replacing or repairing any of these during the course of owning a home is considered maintenance. Some sellers think if they put a few thousand dollars into their home that should be tacked onto the selling price. As nice as it would be to get back every dollar put into a home, it just isn’t possible. However, a well maintained home will usually get sold more quickly and for a higher price than one that hasn’t.
To add value to a home (and potentially raise the listing price), a homeowner needs to add new features and/or upgrade current ones to those that are trendy or more useful. The trick to this is knowing what sellers are looking for. Homeowners also shouldn't renovate “out of their community”, meaning they shouldn't add enhancements that wouldn’t be found in other homes in the community. An owner will never get back their investment if they install luxury features in a mid-range home or mid-range features in a low-range home, because buyers want to live in communities that match the home they're purchasing.
If you’re considering renovating your Wilmington area home and aren’t sure which upgrades will be the most cost effective, give us a call at 910.202.2546. We can take a look at other recently sold homes and draw from our selling experience to help you get the most bang for your buck.
Do you smell that? That’s the scent of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla…Oh! And turkey, peppermint, and pine!....Glittering decorations, tinkling laughter, and little boxes wrapped up with bows. Yes, it’s the holiday season once again!
November and December can be extremely busy months filled with parties, school events, travelling, and shopping. Some Wilmington Realtors take these months off just so they can focus on getting things done. While we believe it’s important to spend time with family and friends, we won’t be at it 24/7. Doing so would mean abandoning our clients, and we know there’s plenty of time in our schedules to make sure your needs are being met. We want YOU to know that as well. So, please, don’t hesitate to call us!
With that said, it’s still the holiday season and with it comes a few restrictions. Just as you are busy with festivities, so are sellers and buyers (depending on what side of the fence you’re on). It can be difficult to schedule showings for some homes. It may not be an issue right now, but closer to each holiday, some sellers may stop showings to prevent themselves from inconveniencing visiting family and guests. Buyers may also be extremely limited on when they can view homes, but the most serious buyers are the ones asking for showings at this time of year; so, we ask that everyone try to be as flexible and understanding as possible.
We also won’t be negotiating contracts or showing homes on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Yes, the title of this blog does say that we will be working during the holidays and we do understand how important it is for you to get your home sold/purchased, but we insist (and we’re sure the other parties do, as well) that everyone has a few days to relax with family and friends. After all, what is life without our loved ones?
We’ve touched on staging your home to sell a lot over the past few years. It’s so important to get your home looking inviting, clean, and open, especially for the day your listing photos are taken. These are images that will be seen time and time again by thousands of potential buyers. They are a major driving force for not just getting views of your home, but people INTO your home. Despite how many times I’ve written or shared information about staging, I’m afraid there is one tidbit of information that I haven’t touched on enough – vehicles in the driveway.
This is basically how the week before photos plays out:
The seller focuses really hard on de-cluttering, and storing away non-essential décor and furniture. They clean the house top to bottom until it shines. They repair glaringly wrong issues with paint and fixtures. They trim the bushes, mow the yard, and put away yard décor. On the day of photos, they make sure counters are cleaned off, dishes are put away, pet paraphernalia is hidden, and everything looks polished. Then, they either head off to work or hang about while the professional photographer does their job.
So, what’s missing? The seller didn’t clear out the driveway. Most families have two cars or more, and one is often left parked in front of the home. If you’re present during photographing, the photographer or real estate agent will usually remind you to move any vehicles present, but sometimes they forget or the homeowners are at work and the vehicle can’t be moved. As a result, the picture of the front of the home (the image we’re required to use as the first picture in the MLS) has a car blocking the view. That can hurt the home’s first impressions.
A car in front of the home blocks buyers from seeing essential features. Just as it’s suggested you remove family photos and excessive décor to help buyers imagine themselves living in the home, you want to remove extra vehicles outside. This also applies to trailers, ATVs, boats, etc. The buyers want to see the curb appeal, how big the home is, what the driveway looks like, what the garage door looks like, and if they can handle any needed repairs. A car can detract from that, so it’s important to remove it from view.
If your pictures have already been taken and you forgot to remove your car, don’t fret. You still have all the interior photos to capture a buyer’s attention. Leaving your car in the driveway is not the biggest mistake a seller can make. That’s still overpricing.
Are you looking for more information on preparing your home to sell? Check out our Seller Resources! If you’re interested in listing your Wilmington area home for sale, we would be honored if you’d let us tell you a bit about our seller services. Give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.
What is a “shoffice”? If you took a moment to think about it, you’ve probably already guessed – a shed and office combined into one building. They’re becoming popular in London where small back yards can be difficult to landscape, but easy to fill with much-needed square-footage. From what we’ve seen, it’s a little more office than shed, as should be rightfully so, and there’s even an architecture firm in the business of visually pleasing designs.
In America, this isn’t exactly a new thing. We just don’t call it a “shoffice”. You may find it filed under "Back Office", “Writer’s Retreat”, “Man Cave”, or “Dad, I’m Moving Out and I Need to Use Your Long Extension Cord”. If you have a shed that’s not really being used and you need a space away from everyone in order to work, why not?
But can you advertise it as an office space under additional square-footage when you list your home for sale? You need to ask yourself a few questions:
Is it a permanent structure?
Was it built in accordance with the state/county/city zoning laws?
We’re the correct permits pulled?
We’re all the electrical codes followed?
Basically, was it done by the book or is it a building on blocks with an extension cord providing electricity? If it’s the former, yes. If it’s the latter…sorry, but you have just a shed.
If you want to verify if your “shoffice” or similar structure will qualify when your home is listed, give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.
Have you ever watched the classic comedy Funny Farm starring Chevy Chase and Madolyn Osborne? The story is centered on The Farmers, a couple who buy a farmhouse in rural Vermont after the husband quits his day job as a sports reporter to write the Great American Novel. Little do they know they are moving to a small town filled with eccentric characters. Quirky situations ensue and their marriage reaches a breaking point. They decide to sell the farmhouse and what arises is a situation that I think some homeowners wish they could pull off – a staged sale, town and all!
The Farmers realize that they won’t be able to sell their home if buyers get to know their neighbors and the townspeople. At the monthly town meeting, they tell the residents that they will donate $15,000 to the town and $50 to each person who acts like the iconic characters portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. The town agrees, but little do they know what kind of chaos will be created. Everyone wants their $50, so when the potential buyers arrive to get the grand tour with The Farmers, they’re subjected to a town that has been so transformed a normal person wouldn’t believe it (like the Christmas Carolers who stay outside the farmhouse singing all night). Yet, the buyers are so sold on the home’s perfect features that they are ready to buy the home and everything inside, including the dog!
Of course, as much as a homeowner would love to have that much control over the sale of their home, it’s unrealistic. The movie is based on a book that was popular in 1985. Today, buyers and sellers typically leave the negotiating up to Realtors, and they certainly don’t spend a night in the home. Paying off the town would most certainly break some misrepresentation laws and, in today’s economy, I’m not sure they would work that hard for $50.
Still, in typical Chevy Chase fashion, we get the chance to laugh at the honest truth. No home is perfect. In The Farmers’ case, the neighbors left something to be desired. When you list your home for sale, you can’t help but run every quirk and negative feature through your mind, and wonder, “Is this going to turn-off buyers?” But you need to remember – you bought the home for a reason, right? There was something about it that you loved and, even though you’re ready to move on, that’s still going to leave you a little biased.
One of the benefits of using a Realtor is that they are constantly in and out of houses seeing what buyers like and what’s getting sold. They can pinpoint potential issues and suggest ways to compensate for those negative features when marketing and selling the home. Some sellers can predetermine what might hold the home back from attracting a buyer, but it’s not uncommon for sellers to be surprised when they get negative feedback on their home. Maybe the feedback is for a feature that originally attracted them to the home, like the fancy fixtures that are now outdated, or maybe the neighborhood doesn’t have the amenities people are looking for now, but the market changes and Realtors are the best at staying on top of it.
If you’re thinking of selling your Wilmington area home, we would be happy to take a look and show you our marketing plan. We’ll share the weaknesses and strengths of your home, and suggest some easy changes you may want to make prior to listing it. Just give us a call at 910.202.2546 or send us a message through our Contact page.