12 Month Plan to Prepare You and Your House for Sale

Are you considering selling your house in the future?  Well, I’d like to think so, most people will at some point.  In the future.  Whether you are planning on moving in 6 months to a year or more this checklist is a great way to get you and your house prepared for listing.  I know your REALTOR® will be happy if you take care of all these items.

1. Reach out to a REALTOR®. (Pick a great one)

This is a very important step. It is at the point when you have decided that you are ready to move and want to learn the best ways to move forward.  It is very important that you find a REALTOR® who will help you the most and will be available to answer any questions you might have about the process.  I must put my pitch out there.   I am here, as a REALTOR® to answer any questions that you might have and to help steer you in the right direction.

2. Get a home value estimate

This step will be helped by the great REALTOR® that you picked in Step 1.  We REALTORS® have many tools that help us develop a fairly accurate price for your house.  Many people think that the Zestimate is accurate.   I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble, but it is not.  Zillow is known, in the REALTOR® world, to not be the most reliable.  They overvalue everything, trying to drive you to use one of their REALTORS® and don’t pull as many attributes into their valuation as a good REALTOR® would.  Again, I am available to help you with this.   If you are in another city, I can send you a few great REALTORS® to talk to.

3 Set a timeline for when you want to go on the market

This step seems kind of obvious, but you need to set a time frame for when you want to list your house.  Yeah, I know, this post is about a 12 Month plan, but these are really just things that will make the process move more smoothly when you do decide to list your house.  In determining your time frame, you also should think about where you want to move to and what you want in your next house.  Your great REALTOR® will be able to help you start your search.  Another critical thing to do in this step is to start talking with a mortgage lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan.  Trust me, you want to do this so you will know for sure what size loan you will be able to get.  Don’t just go to some website and get pre-qualified.  Typically, that is not as certain as the pre-approval letter you will get from the actual company that will be giving you the loan. 

4. Learn the housing market in your area

This is another step that your REALTOR® will help you with.  It is important to learn the housing market in the area that you are currently living in.  During Step 2, you will learn a little about the market, as part of getting the home value estimate for your current home, but it could change over the time span between Step 1 and actually listing your house.  I would suggest that your REALTOR® send you semi-regular market updates for your neighborhood.  This will allow you to stay informed and be ready for the final price suggestion when it comes time to list your house.

5. Get Pre-Home Inspection home inspection

Did you know you could do this?  To me it makes complete sense, especially if you aren’t planning on listing your house for 6-12 months.   You can get a Home Inspection, which won’t count once you are under contract, but it can make you aware of any issues that would come up during the official home inspection for the future buyers.  If you get the pre-home inspection, you will be able to fix and issues ahead of time and reduce the negotiating power the buyers might have.  You will keep greater control of the situation.

6. Get occupancy inspection

This is very similar to Step 5, but these issues should be much more minor, at least any that weren’t pointed out in the full pre-home inspection.  This inspection will address issues such as ensuring that the smoke detectors work and that all stairs have appropriate railings.  If you have an obvious hole in your ceiling, that isn’t supposed to be there, they will point that out to you here too, but you should already be aware of that issue.

7. Fix issues called out in inspection reports

This is the culmination of both Step 5 & 6, where you should FIX the issues that were called out during the inspections.  It will make the house better and more attractive to potential buyers.  You never know, some of the issues that were called out could be dangerous to be currently living with, such as bad wiring.  I know I’ve had my fair share of shocks when dealing with outlets in listed houses.

8. Do a faux ‘renovation’ on your house

When you see renovation, I know you think I mean knock down some walls and fully remodel your bathroom.  Well, you can do that if you want, but that’s not what I mean here.  All I mean here is to update some of the outdated fixtures, faucets, and hinges.  We all know people who went through the phases of style where it seemed that brass was ‘in’ and then suddenly it wasn’t.  Next came stainless steel, which I think is still ‘in’ but who knows for how long, and what the next style will be.  It’s also just nice to change out the hinges and knobs on cabinets because they make them all look newer and fresher.  While these changes may cost a bit, they can greatly improve the sellability of your home and increase your final selling price.

9. Finish all small repair projects that you have been putting off (‘Honey-Do’ list)

If you’re like me, or my dad, you have a to-do list that seems to be a mile.   Now is your chance to do all the things on that list.  You’ll be much happier when you get all of those items crossed off.  Trust me, I’ve started doing this myself.  I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, I just want to get them done.  Getting these things done will make your significant other happier through the whole process, which will make everyone less stressed out.

10. Repaint walls with neutral tones

First off, there is nothing wrong with having a room painted neon yellow when you are living there, but the odds of finding someone else who would see that color on a wall and fall in love with it are very small.  Having rooms painted with neutral colors is always a good idea when trying to sell your house.  I’ve been through some houses that are for sale, that have some crazy colored walls and they seem to stay on the market longer than others.  There is nothing wrong with the house, people just have a hard time looking past the paint.  I tell my clients that paint is cheap, and you can always just paint the room yourself, but nobody seems to want to do that.  I’m one of the rare people who finds painting walls relaxing.

11. Think about curb appeal

This is commonly an aspect that is overlooked for some reason.  Clean up your yard.  The saying is that you only get one first impression. Well, the curb appeal is the first impression for your house.  It is important to have a clean and well-groomed yard.  Make sure that you mow it on a regular basis.  Trim up the bushes around your house and pull any weeds that might be in your garden, or gutters. Another great idea is to buy and plant new flowers to bring some color to your landscaping.  A critical thing that many people don’t think of is to buy a new and inviting welcome mat to put at your front door.  All these fairly simple things can bring in more people to look at your house with the intent of making an offer.  They walk in in a better mood.

12. Tighten all loose handles

This task might have been taken care of in Step 9, but in case you forgot, make sure all the handles on your cabinets are tight.  It’s one of those small things that can make the potential buyer feel that the house was well taken care of and is complete.

13. Buy Lightbulbs

Buying lightbulbs is not necessarily a major concern, in my mind, but it is important to be ready to replace any lightbulb when, and if, it burns out while your house is listed.  During showings and open houses, all the lights will be on to better accentuate the house’s features.  This step is more to be prepared for when they burn out just before a showing.  It’s also never a bad idea to have spare lightbulbs on hand.

14. Buy fresh flowers and plants

I know, I know, I already told you to buy flowers and plants in Step 11, but these ones are for the inside of your house.  It’s nice to walk through a house and see a vase of beautiful flowers on the table.  Interior plants also help filter the air making it seem fresher in the house.  House plants help make the house feel homier for the potential buyer, again, increasing their mood.  Don’t go overboard and create a little forest in your house, but a few nice plants here and there is a great idea.

15. Fix pet issues, such as stains and smells

If you do not have a pet, congrats, you’re onto Step 16.  If you have pets, you know what kind of issues I mean.  Do you have stains on your carpet?  Try to clean it the best you can, otherwise, I’d recommend that you replace the carpet.  Did your dog or cat scratch up a door frame or something else?  Depending on how bad the damage is, try to fix it, or just replace that too if you can.  The main thing you’ll want to do is buy an air freshener, fresh linen is the best choice to have in your house when you are trying to sell it.  You’ve probably heard in the past that you should make cookies the morning before so your house will have that smell, but these days, people are preferring the house to just smell clean and fresh.

16. Fix fencing

This step is another that you only need to work on if you have fence issues.  Do you have any broken pickets in your fence?  Those are cheap and easy to replace.  Go ahead and replace them so your yard will, again, look complete and taken care of.

17. Clean Windows

Another simple task to do, just nobody wants to do it.  Take the time and actually clean your windows.  But make sure you do it safely.  As with many of the steps before, clean windows will make your house look like it truly was taken care of.  I know you take care of your house, why not show it to those who are thinking about buying it.  Growing up, my mom got so mad at me with how often she had to clean one certain window in our house.  I always looked out it and for some reason pressed my forehead against the glass leaving a smudge.  I knew it happened, but for some reason, I kept doing it.  Sorry Mom.

18. Organize your closets

If you are like me, your closet is a mess.  A great trick in selling your house quicker, is to clean up and organize your closet.  Nobody wants to see your clothes thrown all over the place.  A well-organized closet also can give potential buyers hope that they will be able to keep their closet clean and organized in your house, too.

19. Hide your Valuable and Depersonalize your house

This step is more critical when you are showing your house.  No need to tempt anyone to take anything.  I recommend that when you are truly ready to list your house, depersonalize it.  Take down the family pictures from the wall.  Literally take down and pack up anything that makes the house seem to fit only you.  Another critical thing to think of, BEFORE, you list your house is identifying anything that is attached to the walls or ceilings that you want to take with you when you move.  Wall mirrors and light fixtures must go with the house, so if you have a family heirloom mirror or chandelier, you’ll want to take it down and replace it prior to listing your house.  If not, it’s a giant headache later when the house goes under contract.  Your REALTOR® should be able to help you take care of any of these preparations.

20. Do a Deep Clean on your house

Well, congrats, you are almost ready to list your house.  The only thing left to do is to do a final deep clean of your house.  Cleanliness is key when you are showing your house.  I couldn’t tell you how many houses that I’ve gone through that were just a mess.  I didn’t truly look at the house, I just did a quick walk through and didn’t have anything good to say about the house.

Now that you have completed this checklist, now is time to call your REALTOR® and set up a meeting when you can further discuss your plans with your house.  They will walk you through the listing contract, among others, which will officially set up your house to be listed for sale.  Your REALTOR® should then schedule a professional photographer to take great pictures which will go on the MLS.  I know you’ll do great, and I hope to hear from you if you are looking for any help through the process.  I hope you have a great day and let’s go see some houses.

Getting Back into Routines After a Hiatus

Let’s get this out of the way now, Yes, I’m back from an unintended break from posting here.  I had big plans for other posts that fell through or I just lost the passion for what I was writing.  I had a great post breaking down one of the contracts required to make a Real Estate deal and as I neared the end of the post, I started to feel like the post was forced and I wouldn’t have even wanted to read it.  Maybe someday I’ll retry that idea and actually share it with you all.  I promise that I will get back to writing these for your, and my, enjoyment.  As always, before I get going, please comment with and questions or suggestions that I can help you address.  My job is to help you in any way that I can, I strive to be a full-service REALTOR® and so far, I believe that I have done just that.

My apologies if I am a little rusty in writing this, I will get back to the style that, well, makes more sense and flows better as I get back into the swing of things.  Not that you should tell the world that you are sorry for a step down in quality of service, or whatever you are getting back to, but you need to acknowledge it yourself so you can accept a lower level of output.  It is only natural that you will be a little rusty in what you are doing after a hiatus.  I know that this will not be as good of a post as my last ones, when I had been writing more often.  I like to think of it this way; if you had been going to the gym for a long time and then took some time off for some reason, you would not be able to lift as heavy of weights or run as long.  It takes time to get back into the swing of things and get back to where you believe you should be.  I tried to write other posts but only got through a single paragraph and then got distracted by something or just didn’t feel that it was going to be good enough to share with you.  I’m not talking about you, Mom.  I know you’d love it and think it was great.  I had built up certain standards that I was hoping to maintain.  I now know that since I took a much longer break than I had intended, I was never going to hit those standards right out of the gate.  This post is meant to share the struggle of getting back into a routine despite the internal struggles. 

Step 1:  You need to create a more realistic goal or standard that you want to meet.  With this post, I’m just going to keep writing and see how I like it in the end, and I’ll probably post it.  Look at that, I uploaded it despite the quality not being up to my standard.   Let’s get back to the gym example that was brought up earlier.  When I go through that situation, I go to the gym and always seem to try my old workouts, which kick my ass more than they ever did before.  I then adjust the weights and times to accommodate my level of fitness at the time (I felt really weak when I did this).  I then have obvious goals to reach, and then exceed.  You don’t need to reach for your original goals when you are getting started again, but you should aim to achieve where you were previously.  Get out of the Red in a way.  Great, I just remembered that I have been slacking on going to the gym too, I guess I’ll have to go today then to get back to that routine too.  I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

I think I’m going to take a break from writing this so I can eat lunch, I wonder if I’ll come back to writing afterwards, or this will just go into a folder on my computer never to be seen again.

Would you look at that, I actually started writing again, I think I am officially back in this routine.  Or do I need to wait until I write another post, and actually post it.  That is probably more accurate, but I’ll take this as a step in the right direction.

Step 2: Once you’ve set a realistic goal for where you are, when you get back into your routine, you need to make sure that you actually follow it so you can achieve your goal.  Don’t give up, keep pushing, and all those other motivational sayings that tell you to keep pushing.  You can’t make any progress towards your goals unless you keep working at it.  I am determined to get back to my writing level (and fitness level) so I will not let myself give up and stop working.

Step 3: When I have a goal in mind, I make sure that I track my progress towards that goal.  I have written out my workout plan for, I think, 7 weeks where I’ll track the times and weights that I used for each specific day.  I will adjust the future workout plans as time goes on.  I think the only way I can track my progress in writing this blog is just to do it and react to your comments.  In Real Estate, I have a lot of ways that I am tracking my progress.  Thank you, Microsoft Excel.  As you are tracking your progress towards your goal, you’ll be able to adjust your plan(s) to make better progress if you have that desire.  I know I have tried changing out many things for many of my goals.  That is another struggle, finding the best way to achieve your goals.  The other constant is that I keep working hard and keep pushing towards my goal.

Step 4: I guess Step 4 would just be ‘Rinse and Repeat’.  I hate to say that, but at the moment, I can’t think of anything that would be Step 4 better than that. 

I think I might be done here.  As of now, I am satisfied with this post, but I’m going to wait and re-read it later to see if I am still happy with it.  That is the biggest thing that I’m taking away from this exercise of getting back into the writing blog routine.  I’m going to take my time and make sure that I am happy with what I am going to put out there.  No need to rush it.  What do you think, how’d I do?  I vow to write better and about something more exciting than my struggle to get back into various routines that I hope I succeed in regaining control.  Have a great day and Let’s go see some houses.

St. Louis Mardi Gras 2019

Welcome to the world’s second largest Mardi Gras festival, reflecting the city’s French heritage.  This year, as usual, it will not be warm.  There will be a lot of the shenanigans that occur every year.  I’m sure there will be many arrests as well; don’t worry, I will not be among those who are.  This year is extra special for me, as Saturday March 2nd is my girlfriend’s 30th birthday.  She is unaware of the birthday festivities that will be taking place.  She knows that there will be a party, but she thinks it will only be a Mardi Gras party.  She is unaware that her family is coming in town to surprise her for her big day.  I can’t wait. 

Mardi Gras season in St. Louis officially began on January 6th, 2019 celebrating the 12th night after Christmas. “The night kicks off with our Board of Directors converging in a cozy corner of Soulard to decide whether to order the commencement of Mardi Gras, while local leaders, politicians and krewes petition with their best performances and bribes of liquid refreshment. The board votes after a heated and often raucous debate, and then makes the official proclamation that we will have yet another Mardi Gras season in Soulard. So far throughout the decades that we’ve hosted Mardi Gras, the board has voted unanimously in favor of Mardi Gras, luckily for us. After that, our collection of party pros and dignitaries marches throughout the Soulard neighborhood, crowning that year’s Mardi Gras Rex and then christening and raising the Mardi Gras flag to fly proudly over the Soulard neighborhood throughout the Mardi Gras season” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/12th-night).  I couldn’t imagine a year where they did not vote to have the Mardi Gras Festivities.  I can only imagine the income that the weekend generates for all the local businesses.

There are other activities that happen during January, like a softball game and a family Winter Carnival.  But the real season, in my mind starts in late February.  Ok, well, the middle of February when there was a Cajun Cook-Off on February 16th.  This year, you were able to “Learn the secrets of Cajun cooking from the best chefs in St. Louis, Mike Johnson and Christina Fitzgerald, whose culinary roots are connected to New Orleans, then taste the subject matter of the most delicious lesson you’ll ever learn as they hand out samples. These cooking demos of authentic Creole cuisine will be taking place all day long as highly talented amateur chefs from across the area face off, preparing their best dishes to be sampled by a panel of hungry and highly discerning judges (http://stlmardigras.org/events/cajun-cook-off).  I wish I had known this was going on, as I would have gone for sure.  My mouth is already starting to water thinking about the food.  My Mardi Gras experience started last weekend with the Taste of Soulard and it was a great experience in which to participate.  Before Taste of Soulard officially began, there was the Missouri Lottery 5K Run for your Beads.  “There is only one race that is as fun-filled, colorful and slightly wacky as Mardi Gras:  The Missouri Lottery 5K Run for Your Beads. That means you’ll enjoy all the fun and historic scenery of Soulard with mid-race pitstops stocked with beer and hurricanes for legally aged runners. Make sure to dress in your best Mardi Gras garb, because in addition to prizes for the winners of each division, we’ll be honoring the runner with the best costume” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/5k-run-for-your-beads).  I am definitely not a runner, so I did not participate in the 5K, maybe next year; I better start training now.  I did have a friend run in it and then continue the day at the Taste of Soulard.  My day started out eating tacos and having a few drinks for breakfast then strolling through the neighborhood sampling the many tastings of the area.  I would definitely recommend going to this event.  “This self-guided tasting and pub crawl allows you to choose your own adventure through the many Cajun flavors that you will find throughout Soulard. Each purchase includes one drink voucher and six food vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating establishments. On Saturday, the world-famous Soulard Trolley Tramps will be shuttling merrymakers to restaurants throughout the neighborhood” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/taste-of-soulard).  There was a lot of great food and drinks and crazy people to see strolling down the street.  I ran into a few old friends that I hadn’t seen in at least a year.  We listened to some great music and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Although the February events were fun, and a joy to be a part of, the big day, this year, is Saturday, March 2nd.  That is the day of the parade and the big festival.  “This event is the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season and is the biggest parade outside of the Big Easy. It begins at Busch Stadium and proceeds through the streets of Downtown South and Soulard to the place where your beer was born: Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  This year’s theme is “40 Years of Magic, Music, and Memories”. Help us celebrate a century of this St. Louis institution as krewes ride nearly 100 floats that bring to life 1980, or 1981, or 1982, or 1983, or 1984, or 1985, or 1986, or 1987, or 1988, or 1989, or 1990,…and throw over 10,000,000 strands of beads to the throngs of Mardi Gras revelers lining the parade route” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/bud-light-grand-parade).   This is the day where there is a lot of alcohol flowing, a lot of great food stands, and a lot of beads.  I don’t think I could adequately describe the experience of going down to Soulard for the day.  Yes, it’ll be cold, but that won’t stop the party.  This year will be more fun, as there is another reason to celebrate.

As disclosed previously, that Saturday is my girlfriend’s 30th birthday and there are surprises in store for her.  Her parents and brother are driving down from Michigan on Friday to surprise her.  She knows that my parents will be coming over Friday night for dinner but is unaware of the other guests.  I told her that I will be making dinner, I’ll be smoking some chickens, making mashed potatoes (her favorite), and probably sautéing some green beans or other vegetables.  It’ll be great.  She just told me that she is planning on going to the gym after work on Friday and was wondering when my parents were going to come over.  I gave her a ballpark time, but I truly hope that her family will be there when she gets home.  Oops, I just remembered that I have to clean the house for their arrival.  Saturday morning she’ll be in for a bigger surprise.  She knows that our friends are throwing a Mardi Gras party with a little bit of birthday thrown in, but she doesn’t realize the number of her friends that have been invited and are planning on meeting up with us.  She is completely misguided on the ratio of Mardi Gras to Birthday party.  It is going to be awesome.  The best part truly is her family coming in though.  She has really been stressing out about when they can come in for her birthday.  Her mom and I were struggling to come up with excuses. 

I hope you learned a lot about how Mardi Gras is celebrated in St. Louis.  You should definitely come try it out sometime and have the full experience.  I like to think it’s a once in a lifetime experience, except it happens every year.  I need to go down to New Orleans sometime to see how they compare.  I don’t doubt that New Orleans’ Mardi Gras is even crazier, as its probably warmer there during the festivities.  Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope you continue to follow me.  I hope you have a great day and let’s go see some houses.

What does MLB Spring Training Symbolize?

More than just Baseball

Oh, how this is my favorite time of year.  Baseball is starting back up, flowers are beginning to show, the weather is trying to warm up, and college basketball is nearing the Tournament.  I can’t wait.  Besides those amazing things going on during this time of year, there are even more that make this, truly, the best time of the year.  Everyone has grown tired of the weather during the winter months and are beginning to develop a depression.  We’re praying for sunlight and warmer weather.  St. Louis is notorious for giving teasers of Winter being over, only to slam to door shut with frigid temperatures for a couple of days.  Oh, to be a cold or flu virus during these times.  You’d be thriving and having the time of your life.  Sorry, I was imagining the movie Osmosis Jones, where the virus’ had actual personalities.  [If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend it.]  Ok, back on topic, where was I?  Oh yes, the temperature has sure seemed to have been riding a yo-yo these past couple of weeks.  I’m so tired of it.

Back to the best time of year though.  Here in St. Louis, at least in my eyes, Spring begins when Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training.  If you didn’t already know, we love our St. Louis Cardinals.  My brothers used to always tell me the countdown till they reported and they had a mini celebration when they did.  But then the countdown changed to Opening Day.  As of the writing of this post, there are 31 days until the Cardinals Opening Day on March 28th.  I know that I’ll be somewhere watching the game as they take on the Milwaukee Brewers at 1:10 pm CDT.  This will be a good year for the Cardinals, I can just feel it.   Growing up in St. Louis, I have become a die-hard fan of the Cardinals and feel absolute joy when they are playing well.  In the backyard when I was little I used to imagine myself playing for the Cardinals, helping them win the World Series by robbing a homerun that would have won the game for the opponent.  My neighbor and I took turns pretending to rob homeruns over the white picket fence in my backyard.  If I remember correctly, he was Brian Jordan and I was Ray Lankford.  Great, I just reminded myself that I just missed meeting Ray Lankford many times when I had a broken leg and went to the doctor to get it checked out and the cast changed.  I was told, everytime, that I missed him by about 30 minutes.  Looking back, I have a feeling that they were pulling my leg, pun intended.  But with all seriousness, Baseball season symbolized that school was nearing its end for the year, which meant many, many wiffle ball games in the back yard.  A few times my friends and I actually kept stats for the summer; it wasn’t too hard as there were usually just four of us playing.  These times helped build who I am today.  I would still enjoy playing games all day during the summer with my friends and family.  I still have that competitive mindset where I want to win and be the best.  I no longer dream of playing for the Cardinals, but I dream of being the best version of myself and achieving other goals that I have set for myself.  Seriously, I continued to dream about being a professional athlete through my freshman year of college, however, at that time it would have been for football.  That’s a story for a different time, I’ll just say, I was cut from a Division-1 Football team for being too small. 

Another great part about Spring’s arrival, is that the bulbs that were planted in the Fall are starting to sprout.  Just seeing new life sprout out of the ground makes me smile and excited for the new season to begin.  Seeing this is a great reminder that if you plan on having a vegetable garden this year, it is probably the right time to start your plants, indoors.  This is on the schedule for the next few weeks for me, as I want to be ready for planting time.  It is great to have your own garden which allows you to save money at the grocery store.  It is also fun to grow vegetables that you can’t get at the store; I tend to try to grow super hot peppers so I can use them in sauces and salsas.  Every year, I choose a different plant to try to grow, some are successful and others are not.  For two years now I’ve tried to grow green beans up a trellace on the fence in my backyard.  This would work if we didn’t have a dog who enjoys eating leaves.  Those plants get eaten before they even have a chance.  Also, he likes to pee on them.  We’d really have to wash them good before considering eating those beans.  We’ve learned and created a garden space in our front yard for multiple reasons.  One for sure being to have a chance to grow stuff without it getting eaten by our dog and him peeing on the food.  The other big thing is that we have a Black Walnut tree in our backyard, and I learned that it is very difficult to grow tomatos around a Black Walnut tree as the leaves, walnuts, and roots have a toxin that tomatoes don’t like. 

One of the other big things that I love about Spring, and Spring Training’s arrival is that it is a great cue that it is nearing, is March Madness of NCAA Basketball.  As a guy who went to the University of Kansas, I feel that I have a horse in the race every year, including this year, even though they’ve had a down year.  It is a great time to be a fan of college sports.  I enjoy watching most college sports.  I, somehow, am still a Kansas Football fan, despite their struggles in the past decade (or longer).  When I was there they were a really good team and even won the Orange Bowl; I take credit as I was on the team the semester before.  I was lucky enough to be able to go to the game and even have an orange from it still.  No, it didn’t get all moldy and nasty, it dehydrated itself on the shelf in my room and is now basically a rock.  I wish I could find a way to authenticate it, as it is probably the only orange actually remaining from that game.  Back to basketball though. During the time that I was a student at Kansas, they won the NCAA Basketball National Championship. That was a great time to be at Kansas.  It was crazy being on the main street in Lawrence, Kansas.  There were estimates of 100,000 plus people on the street partying.  I’ll admit I was no exception.  I wasn’t going to miss out on that!  I still have a jersey that I bought that day and I still feel that it is lucky.  The first weekend of the tournement is the definition of controlled chaos, but I love every minute of it as a fan.  If you’ve never experienced the rush of watching the emotional roller coaster that the teams go through during the games during the tourniment, you need to check it out.  I always fill out numerous brackets and am even in a few with money on the line.  On those, I have to fill out two brackets so I can pick Kansas as the winner and one where where Kansas doesn’t win.  I know that I am 100% biased, and make an effort to think about if they were to lose a game, where could it be.  I have to play against my heart.

Now that you understand why I love when Spring Training starts each year, I hope you will go out and enjoy the warmer weather, watch the Cardinals do great this season, and Kansas will do great in the NCAA Tourniment.  I also hope that you take time to plant yourself a little garden.  There are so many aspects of life that improve when the Pitchers and Catchers report for the season.  I can’t wait to get home today and check on the bulbs around my fence and begin to plan out the garden.  It will be a great season full of growth and hopefully, real estate activity.  I hope you all have a great day and let go see some houses.

FSBO, The Real Story

So, you want to sell your house, I mean YOU want to sell you house.  Interesting.  Let’s think about that a little bit more.  What are the reasons that you want to do all the work and not hire a trained REALTOR®?  Do you think you’ll save money?  Do you think that you’ll get paid more for your house?  Or do you think you’ll just do a better job?  Most qualified buyers prefer to work with a REALTOR® so that alone could deter the desired sale of a house being sold by its owner.  There are many myths going around that people believe about selling their house on their own.  We will discuss those myths along with facts that are often overlooked.

Myth #1:  People believe that most of the people who decide to sell their house by themselves are successful in doing so.  This is completely inaccurate.  The national average of houses that are successfully sold by their owner is 15%.  That definitely looks like a low chance of success.  Many of the 85% who do not succeed in selling their house choose to give up all together or they hire a REALTOR® who helps them actually sell their house.

Fact #1:  When an owner has decided to sell their house on their own, they tend to overprice it at the beginning.  This is generally because everybody thinks their house is worth more than it truly is.  They see what their neighbor’s house sold for and ‘know’ that their house is “way” better so it should sell for more money.  Sometimes, that could be the case, but not often.  Also, setting a too high price is dangerous.  It makes the seller lose negotiating leverage when it sits on the market for a long time.  When you hire a REALTOR® the house will usually be priced correctly, by looking at many more attributes than the selling price of the immediate neighbor’s house.  Also, the REALTOR® will not be emotionally invested in the house.

Myth #2:  Many people selling their house believe that showing their house will be easy.  Unless they work from home, this is definitely not the case.  Most people work during the day and are unavailable to show at 2pm on a Tuesday.  Showing houses is a major part of a REALTOR®’s job.  We chose this career because we enjoy showing houses when our buyers want to see them and are able to be there at that time.  Also, many potential buyers don’t want to look at a house with the owner there.  Think about it, would you want to seriously look at a house to buy with the owner hovering over you telling you that any issue isn’t an actual issue?  I mean, they lived with it, so it is no big deal. 

Fact #2:  Owners who are trying to sell their own house are generally doing it because they believe they will be saving money.  In fact, many of the people who are attracted to FSBO’s are low-ball buyers and unqualified buyers.  REALTOR®’s generally don’t work with unqualified buyers as they aren’t able to secure a loan and will not be able to actually buy the house.  Low-Ball Buyers are exactly what they seem, they come in with a ridiculous offer and occasionally the seller will accept the offer, especially if they have been on the market for a long time. This results in making less, not more, money. 

The biggest take-away from this is that if you think you’ll make more money selling your house on your own, you’re wrong. You won’t.  I’m not just telling you this, so you’ll hire me to sell your house. There are actual facts that support this.  Hiring a REALTOR® will allow you to sell your house at a higher price, have a ton less stress, have more showings, and be able to market your house in many more places.  As a REALTOR® I am able to put houses that I have listed into the MLS which most of the other websites pull information from.  Yes, you could put information on Zillow yourself, but that information is not always accurate, and the informed buyer will know that.  The MLS allows the REALTOR® to pull tax information and the information is checked. 

Another big difference between using a REALTOR® and selling yourself is that I, as a REALTOR®, am held to a Code of Ethics, where I must take a class on it every two years.  I am also an expert on all the contracts, which alone should make it worth using a REALTOR®. Many times, when there is a lawsuit related to Real Estate, the seller is the Defendant.  Wouldn’t you rather not assume that risk?  Again, that is in the job description of a REALTOR®.  Brokerages have lawyers who are experts on contract law, and we are covered by insurance specifically designed for these instances.  You may think that you can figure out the contract.  You might be right, but I have studied the contracts, especially when they are updated, which happens a lot.

I understand if you still decide to choose to sell your house on your own.  I have warned you about some of the issues that you might encounter.  I am here for you if you have any questions related to Real Estate, or just want to talk.  If you just want to discuss concerns regarding selling your house on your own, I won’t make you sign a contract or pay any fee.  My main goal is to educate the general public on the issues in Real Estate.  I have a great network, and if I do not know an answer, I’ll direct you in the right direction to find out, if I don’t find out for you myself.  I’ve just touched the surface on the debate of ‘Do I hire a REALTOR® or I can sell this house on my own.’  I’m sure I’ll write about this topic again in the future.  I hope you have a great day and let’s go see some houses.

What is your Brand?

When planning out this blog, I had thoughts of writing on something completely different but wasn’t feeling that topic at all and felt the need to think of something else.  I am instead going to write about how I am now super focused on building my brand.  Yes, I am a brand.  You are a brand, more so if you are self-employed and rely on selling yourself to make a living.  Think about it, for my situation, would you rather deal with a REALTOR® who showed up to appointments in a t-shirt and shorts or one who was wearing a suit and tie?  I wouldn’t mind running into the REALTOR® outside of the business circumstance where they were in shorts and a t-shirt, but not when they were supposed to be representing me.  It just came to me, this is probably why lawyers and politicians wear suits and ties because they are attempting to demonstrate high class for those they are representing.  There are many other instances where you can improve ‘your brand’ and I am working hard to improve mine.  One thing that I will work on will be to continue to improve my blog so it’ll be the best that it can.  I recently ordered some suits so I can improve my appearance to the public; also, that allows me to feel as if I can approach the luxury properties and not internally feel below them.  It will give me a self-confidence boost.  If you are on a tight budget there are simple ways to improve your brand for free.  I will continue to break down various things one can do to make their brand better.

Since I first mentioned the clothing debate, I’ll start there.  I remember that when I was taking the classes for the test to complete my real estate license.   I wore a t-shirt and gym shorts most days.  There was no protocol for what to wear.  When I started going to actual training at my brokerage, I started to wear jeans and a polo.  I slowly have been improving my attire.  I now wear nice slacks, a polo or button up, and nice shoes.  I found a website that had a promo code allowing me to get three suits for an amazing price that I couldn’t resist.  Hopefully they will be of high quality.  I am going to start dressing better more often so I give off confidence and the appearance that I have success in what I do.  I mean, why else would someone wear a suit all the time.  Yes, there will be days where I don’t wear a suit, but I am going to make a conscience effort to dress more professionally when the situation calls for it.  I already have a lot of ties and dress shirts so there will be no excuse not to look my best. 

Another easy way to improve your brand is to have a high-quality business card.  I was given free ones from my brokerage, but I didn’t feel they stood out enough.  I paid to have new ones made which have my picture on them, have my slogan, and have a more unique appearance.  I feel that they stand out more than the ones I was given.  There are so many different styles of business cards.  In the future I might invest into metal ones.  That would nearly guarantee that I’d win any raffle that I enter.  My theory with business cards, is that they are the first impression to the individual you give or send them to.  It sets the tone for who you are and what you represent.  Set the bar high and let the world know that you believe that you are important and worthy of attention.

Developing a great website is also very important to building a good brand.  I was lucky enough that the brokerage that I work for has it set up where we get our website and we just need to personalize it.  I am working to add to it still, so it stands out and is truly effective for anyone going to the site needing my services. Make sure that the website is to the point and conveys the message that you intend.  There is nothing worse than going to a website that is not at all what you expected.  Think about researching a restaurant and going to their website to find political rants.  I don’t think I’d want to go there regardless of the opinion.  So, make sure you are representing the brand correctly. 

Along the same lines as having a great website, is to have great social media accounts.  They all are different on how you can organize and customize the layout.  Instagram and Twitter rely on what you post to convey the best message that you can.  I tend to focus on the interesting things that are going on in my life or good food that I’m eating.  I do make sure to include Real Estate related posts, but I make sure not to overload my pages with listing after listing.  I want to make sure that they are entertaining and engaging.  I view these as a look behind the curtain into my normal everyday life.  Facebook, I find is easier to customize.  I make it a point to update my cover picture on my business page at least once a month, more often if there is a holiday.  I need to do that for this week.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.  I have gone through and chosen what tabs and pages will be on my page, and I also decided how it was going to be laid out.  I am still working to ensure that it is the best that it can be.  Regarding the content I post on Facebook, I rely on a few programs that post some things for me.  I use them to post various articles a few days a week and to post a listing of a house every day.  That allows me to post more personal things on my page and not have to worry about overloading the viewers about a certain area; I used to post a lot about houses in Kirkwood, MO.  I was struggling to post content that was not related to Kirkwood.   I couldn’t help it, I was born and raised there.  The point still is to make sure the brand accurately represents the message you want wherever you are present.

Probably the easiest way to ensure that the brand is at its best is to hold yourself accountable.  If you say you’re going to do something, do it.  It can be a challenge at first, but if you make a point to hold yourself accountable, you’re more likely to succeed, and your brand will benefit.  My writing this blog every week is 100% due to me holding myself accountable.  Most weeks, I really don’t want to do it and try to push it off until the last minute; which I nearly did this time.  For me, there are days where my alarm goes off and I really don’t want to get up and go into the office.  I like to think that I would be just as productive if I just stayed home and worked there.  I know for a fact that I would not be anywhere close to being as productive.  I make it a point to go to the office for a few hours every day and go to the gym when I leave.  Just going to the office puts my brain into work mode.  I have fewer distractions and am able to focus.  I have my daily checklist that I must get done before I allow myself to leave.  There are always exceptions, such as I’m not going to put out Open House signs on Wednesday, the day I have it scheduled, if I’m not holding an Open House the following weekend.  I honestly treat my daily checklist as a minimum of things that I will do that day.

Improving your brand is not as hard as you might think.  It just takes planning and determination to achieving the plan that you set for yourself.  I am available to hold you accountable if you’d like, and I hope you all will hold me accountable as well.  If we all succeed, then the world will become a better place, full of great people doing great things.  I look forward to discussing this further and even individually with any of you.  What are your goals?  I wish you all a great day and week and let’s go see some houses.

The Search for Inspiration

This blog, I’ll start off in a very unconventional way.  I had no clue of what to write about, so I Googled topics for a Real Estate Blog.  There were so many that I didn’t feel fit me.  I didn’t feel that they would represent me the way that I would hope.  Out of about one hundred or so topics, I found three that I hadn’t already thought about.  Of those that I had thought of, I didn’t feel that this was the right time to write about, for example, sports.  Many of the sports that I follow are over or aren’t starting until Spring and Summer.  I could have talked about NCAA Basketball, but I’d rather wait until March so I can talk about March Madness.  I’ve already written about playing winter kickball, but during the warmer months I play more sports, which lead to many interesting stories.  I just realized that, so far, I am writing a blog post about not knowing what to write about.   Interesting.  Google suggested writing about dealing with difficult clients, but I haven’t had one yet.  If any of you have suggestions on topics, don’t hesitate to let me know, and I’ll do my best to fulfill my self-imposed obligation.  I guess I can write about what I was planning on now.  An attempt to be inspirational. 

Inspiration, is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative, or a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea” (Oxford Dictionaries).  My latest bit of inspiration came from a fortune cookie that came with my dinner when I ordered Chinese food.  My girlfriend opened hers first and thought it should have been for me, we usually seem to get fortunes that fit each other better.  My fortune was “You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course.” This was a very timely fortune for me since I was wondering if I am doing anything wrong or if I needed to make a life change to reach my goals.  I know these fortunes are purely chance and random and not an actual fortune, but I got it at the right time.  Anything can be viewed as an inspiration.  The next morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed and go into the office, but I made myself, and am very happy that I did.  It allowed me to maintain the course that I have laid out for myself.  I know that I am putting in the work and am certain the good times will come.   But there are days when you feel like you are just treading water and/or stuck in the mud.  Now is a perfect time for the pitch.  If you know anyone thinking about making a move or who has a question regarding Real Estate, tell them to Call Matt for their Real Estate Chat.  Ok, back to the point now.  In the comment section, besides topic ideas, tell me what inspires you.

I try to post motivational posts on my social media daily, I think I’m going to start posting things that are meant to inspire.  If more people feel inspired to reach their goals, then the world should become a better place.  Here is a challenge to everyone out there, I challenge you all to inspire someone to be great, whether it be family, friends, co-workers, or even a random stranger.  Find a way to make the world a better place.  Writing this post has, honestly, inspired me to be better; to be a better person all around and to spread my happiness and motivation to those around me more. 

What do I find inspiring?  Hmm, seeing others succeed inspires me to work harder and to learn from them to pick up tricks that can help me be more successful.  Another is when I see someone who has been severely injured come back and regain the strength and capabilities that they worked so hard to achieve.  For example, when someone is thought to be paralyzed regains the ability to walk.  I don’t know how you could not be inspired when that happens.  In fact, seeing someone making the effort to overcome adversity in spite of all the obstacles is inspiring, regardless of their apparent success. It makes me feel that there is no excuse for me to just sit on the couch and watch TV; it makes me feel that I need to get out there and do something worthwhile.

You can literally find inspiration anywhere, from a poem, nature, online, people, possibilities, and even in yourself. 

A poem that I found inspiring:

A Smile 
Poet Unknown 

Let others cheer the winning man, 
There’s one I hold worth while; 
‘Tis he who does the best he can, 
Then loses with a smile. 

Beaten he is, but not to stay 
Down with the rank and file; 
That man will win some other day, 
Who loses with a smile.

(https://www.wow4u.com/playingthegame/)

If you are looking for inspiration from nature, go for a walk and attempt to zone out and just enjoy the sounds of nature.  Listen to the birds, listen to the water, and listen to the wind rustling the leaves on the trees.  Doing this can mentally reboot your system and can allow you to forget the obstacles that are pulling at you in life.  When you are online and are looking for some inspiration there are many places you could look.  You could watch a TED video and see how motivated the speakers are and how they are trying to help others succeed.  You could go to social media and search for the hashtag #inspiration.  This will bring you many posts other people have found inspiring.  Use it and take advantage of other’s inspirations.  When you are talking to those you love, ask them what they are grateful for or what they love most in life.  This will bring you closer together and find out what inspires them.  This could allow you to find ways to help them feel inspired in the future.  When they tell you what they are grateful for, try to mentally get in their shoes, and attempt to experience it from their perspective.  It’s a great way to gain inspiration in a new way that you may have not thought of before. 

One of my favorite ways to inspire myself is to create a bucket list of things that I want to do or achieve in life; there are some crazy things on my list that I’m not fully convinced that I want to do, for example, skydiving.  When I was doing research on what inspires people, I came across an idea of a way to get inspired, ‘submit your resume for a dream job.’  I do think that this could be inspirational, but it reminded me of one of my friends from college.  When he was applying for colleges, he sent an application to Harvard, just in case he would be accepted, but fully expecting a rejection letter.  He told us all that he applied just so he could frame and hang up the Harvard rejection letter.  I now think of that story in a different light, he was reaching for the stars to see if he could reach them.  Another way to find inspiration is in yourself.  I am, honestly, feeling inspired right now as I am writing this post.  I have disconnected myself from my other responsibilities and have fully immersed myself in my writing.  I need to do this more often.  Another thing to do, especially if you are feeling down, reflect on everything that you’ve learned and accomplished.  You will feel much better and realize that you are improving and making the right steps to achieving your goals.

What do I find inspiring?  I’ve been thinking about this the whole time I’ve been writing this post.  The biggest source of my inspiration is my family, starting with my parents.   They, literally, will do anything for my brothers and me.  When we are struggling, they will give us a shoulder to lean on, to cry on, to hug, and someone to talk to.  Starting out in Real Estate is a financial investment and since I decided to jump into the deep end with no other income, they have helped me out more than I could explain.  My brothers and I have learned that trait from them.  When any of us needs help, we don’t hesitate to offer to help, assuming we are able.  My girlfriend inspires me, she has set goals and is so determined to achieve them that she gets upset if she veers off the path.  She is very opinionated, which I find to be a great attribute as she has strong beliefs that she is very passionate about.  Somehow my dog even inspires me.  When we get home and he shows us absolute joy and happiness, it immediately puts a smile on my face and makes me envious of the pure joy he lives with.  When he is playing with his toys it takes me back to my childhood when I didn’t have a worry in the world and enormous dreams that I was certain that I was going to achieve.  The other people in my office inspire me with their willingness to help me achieve my goals and have experienced the same challenges that I am facing and have come out the other side and are achieving their goals.  There are so many more places where I draw inspiration and I could keep telling you about these things, but I know that I would just start (continue?) to ramble and not make any sense.

Here are a few things that inspire me and things that you could use to find inspiration yourself.  Find happiness and joy in your life that can help you achieve your goals and dreams.  Remember, dream big and find a way to get there.  I have many dreams, they have changed a little since I was a little kid, but I now know that I can achieve many of them, and I truly believe that I am on the right path to those goals.  This post has inspired me a lot more than I had thought it would.  It began with me not knowing what to write about and it turned into something special, at least for me.  I hope you enjoyed the read, and that you will accept the challenge to be someone’s inspiration.  Have a great day and let’s go see some houses.