Advice for Livermore Valley Home Sellers & Home Buyers!

home purchase offerHave you wanted to sell your Livermore Valley home but have been waiting for home prices to rise and equity to return? Have you wanted to buy a Livermore Valley home but have been busy saving up a down payment and paying down debt? No matter what has made you wait to accomplish your real estate goals in the Livermore Valley real estate market, now is the time to act!

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to update you on the latest market news for Livermore Valley home sellers and Livermore Valley homebuyers. Whether you’re one, or both, here are some tips from MSN Real Estate that I’ve summarized for you.

Livermore Valley Home Sellers:

  • Jump-start the process now! The sooner you sell, the better, before competition from other sellers and new homes starts increasing. Sellers usually don’t realize how long the process takes, so begin to clean, declutter, organize and stage your home now. Also, consider getting an inspection done before listing your home, so you know what needs upgrading or repairing. You could also visit a couple open houses to get ideas for staging your own home.
  • Work the market in your favor. With prices up and inventory low, the Livermore Valley real estate market is in your favor right now! You still have to work it intelligently, though. Work with a Livermore Valley real estate agent that is familiar with the market and what homes are selling for. Don’t just go with the agent that promises you the best price. He might be bluffing. If you’re getting the price you wanted, and then some, offer the buyer something in good faith, such as a fast move-in date.

Livermore Valley Home Buyers:

  • Be credit-ready! As soon as you’re ready to buy, you want to get preapproved for a mortgage. Many sellers will turn you away if you’re not, seeing you as an unserious or complicated buyer. Also, this will help pinpoint what you can afford, so you’re not wasting time going after homes out of your price range. Check your credit report, and if your credit score is below 620, work on paying off debt and raising that score.
  • Adjust your negotiating expectations. With inventory low and home prices high, lowball offers just aren’t going to cut it in this competitive market. There are a lot of eager buyers out there, trying to beat rising mortgage rates and prices, so if you really love a house, start with a great offer and respond to counteroffers quickly. You want to avoid a bidding war. Try to have a few houses in mind, in case you lose one to another buyer.

For more tips, either as a Livermore Valley home seller or a Livermore Valley homebuyer, check out the full list from MSN Real Estate.

When you’re ready to buy or sell, or you have questions, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m here when you need me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Fast Cleaning Tricks for Livermore Valley Home Sellers!

cleaning2When selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s important that you declutter, organize and clean as much as possible. This doesn’t mean throwing everything in a closet and shutting the door, because Livermore Valley homebuyers will look there. It means deep, serious cleaning.

However, once you deep clean your Livermore Valley home, it’s hard to keep it in pristine condition every moment of everyday. After all, you still live there! But as a Livermore Valley home seller, sometimes potential homebuyers will show up on your doorstep, or showings will be scheduled before you have time to clean again.

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’d like to share some quick cleaning tricks from Real Simple that will spruce up each room of your home in no time. Again, these are for after you’ve already deep cleaned and organized, and right before potential homebuyers, or house guests, stop by.

In the living room:

  • Get rid of pet hair on the sofa fast by wetting the fingertips of rubber gloves and sliding your hand over the couch. The wet rubber will pick up the hairs.
  • Keep a decorative basket next to a couch or table for you to stack books, magazines or TV remote controllers in.
  • Turn the couch cushions over before homebuyers or guests arrive. The side less used often looks better.

In the kitchen:

  • If the dishwasher and sink have washed-but-not-clean dishes in them, store dishes in a large stockpot until after homebuyers leave. (Don’t forget about them!)
  • Hide aromas from your last meal by boiling nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon and orange peel in a saucepan on the stove. Or, diffuse an essential oil, such as orange or lemon.
  • Replace the hand towel with a fresh one, and fold it neatly over the oven handle.

In the bathroom:

  • Light a candle. The light is flattering, it smells good, and it makes the bathroom seem like a peaceful place to relax.
  • Hang fresh guest towels and throw your dirty/damp towels in a closed laundry basket.
  • Keep a decorative basket or box handy under the sink for products and gadgets from the sink. Make sure it looks nice, homebuyers might look in your cabinets!

Check out the Real Simple article for more tips for these rooms, as well as for a home office, a kids’ room and a laundry room.

As a Livermore Valley home seller, you always want your home looking clean, organized and pristine to Livermore Valley homebuyers. You also want your home to appear neutral, without any personal photos or artwork around. Therefore, preparing your home for the selling process should start before you’re ready to list your home.

Have questions? Need suggestions for cleaning or staging your home? Contact me! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve helped tons of local homeowners stage their homes, list their homes, show their homes and sell their homes. Now is the time!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Holiday Decorate as a Livermore Valley Home Seller

Christmas_treeIf you’re selling your Livermore Valley home this winter, congratulations! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I shared in last week’s blog post why now is a great time for you to sell. Contact me with questions or to begin the home-selling process.

You might be wondering if you should decorate for the holidays when selling your Livermore Valley home. I say go for it! Most people appreciate a festive home this time of year. You don’t want your house to be the only dark, drab house on the street.

However, there are some tactics that you should use as a Livermore Valley home seller so as to not make your home look tacky or overdone. Here are tips that I’ve collected:

  • Keep it classy. Don’t go overboard and decorate every inch of your house in garland, glitter and little knickknacks. When staging your home to sell, you want to take away the clutter and show off the ample space. Same is true with holiday decorations. You don’t want them to make the house look cluttered. Choose a few sophisticated, classy accessories for each room and stick to just those.
  • Keep it neutral. As a Livermore Valley home seller, you should always try to keep your home décor neutral so that it attracts all types of buyers and allows them to imagine living there. In other words, you don’t want your personality to shine through. Same is true with holiday decorations. Stick with seasonal items over religious items or homemade kids’ crafts. Excellent options include an arrangement of pine cones covered with white glitter, poinsettias on the fireplace mantel, or hanging snowflakes.
  • Keep it tidy. While you don’t want the décor to be too personal or too cluttered, you also don’t want it to be messy, or worse, dangerous. If you have a tree or other lights hanging inside or outside, be sure to hide all the wires and keep them out of walkways. Avoid lighting candles in busy areas of the home where they could get knocked down. Try to decorate with a theme in mind, such as the rustic outdoors, or perhaps in all white.
  • Keep it seasonal. Your home might still be on the Livermore Valley real estate market after the holidays, so if you haven’t had your listing photos taken yet, take down your decorations for the photos. You don’t want holiday listing photos being displayed mid-January! After the photos are taken, you can show off your décor again for showings and open houses.

While you should get to enjoy holiday decorating just like everyone else this time of year, the key is to keep it classy, clean and sophisticated for Livermore Valley homebuyers. If you have any questions about this, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m always here to answer questions and help you through the home-selling process.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Pass Your Home Inspection as a Livermore Valley Home Seller

home inspectionWhen selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s very exciting when you get an interested buyer. You’ve negotiated a price and you’re ready to close, but first, you must pass the home inspection.

A home inspection can make or break a home sale. If major repairs need to be made, the homebuyer might back out of the deal or request that the price be lowered. Some Livermore Valley home sellers even choose to do an inspection before listing their home, so they know what needs attention ahead of time.

Either way, as your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I would recommend checking out these nine tips that MSN Real Estate said will help you pass a home inspection, straight from the mouths of inspectors.

  • Remove clutter. Make sure there is a clear path to electric panels, heating and cooling systems, and anything with mechanical equipment. Cleaning underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks is a good idea, too.
  • Empty appliances. Inspectors will check the efficiency of your appliances, so make sure to take all of your laundry out of your machines ahead of time, take dishes out of the dishwasher, and clear the stove and oven. Cleaning these machines isn’t a bad idea, either.
  • Create access to the attic. If you have an attic, home inspectors would most appreciate you setting up a ladder for them. At the least, make sure that they have the space necessary to safely enter and exit the attic, such as moving cars or boxes out of the way beneath the entry.
  • Leave. In the eyes of home inspectors, the best Livermore Valley home sellers are the ones that leave during the inspection. Take the kids and the pets with you, and enjoy a day out. The inspector and buyer can talk more comfortably without you around.
  • Unlock doors. Your Livermore Valley real estate agent will grant access to the home inspector, or you will, but once inside, make sure other doors are unlocked too, before you leave. This includes doors to the garage, shed or crawl space. Disarm security systems, too.
  • Disclose flaws. If you know of any issues that will come up in the inspection, disclose ahead of time. Livermore Valley homebuyers will react more negatively from something you kept secret, which surprised them, rather than something you’re upfront about.
  • Provide documents. If you’ve had repairs or maintenance done on the house, organize the receipts in folders or binders for the inspector and buyers to see. Pointing out what is new and good with the house is always a bonus.
  • Change light bulbs. A home inspector doesn’t know if a burnt bulb indicates a wiring problem or just a burnt bulb, but either way, they have to report it. Save the hassle and make sure they all work!

Hopefully these tips will help you pass your home inspection with flying colors. If you’re looking for a Livermore Valley real estate agent to help you through the entire home-selling process, contact me! I’d love to help!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Properly Paint Rooms in Your Livermore Valley Home

paint cansWhether you just bought a house, you’re a happy homeowner or you’re gearing up to sell your Livermore Valley home, painting is a great way to spruce up your space! It’s the number one do-it-yourself project, and it’s one of the most affordable ways to add home value.

Though many people do it, there is an art to painting. If you’re staging your home to sell, it’s especially important that your paint looks as professional as possible. Luckily, the Paint Quality Institute shared some tips with Realtor Magazine in a recent article. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve summed them up here for you:

  • Repair surface imperfections. If you’ve got cracks or holes in the wall, paint isn’t enough to hide them. Use a spackling compound to fill in these gaps, so the surface is as smooth as possible. If you have areas with stains or discoloration, use a stain-blocking primer.
  • Clean the walls. Wash the walls and woodwork with a detergent-water solution, and then rinse the surface clean of it. Let the walls and woodwork dry completely before beginning to paint.
  • Choose your paint. The Paint Quality Institute most recommends 100 percent acrylic latex paints that are top quality and resist stains, hide the color underneath and conceal brush marks. Also, when choosing a gloss level, high-gloss paint is easier to clean, so this is good in high-traffic areas. Flat paints make walls look very smooth and hide imperfections, which is good for ceilings and low-traffic areas.
  • Choose your brushes and rollers. The best brushes have tightly packed bristles, which hold more paint. When using latex, water-based paints, the Institute recommends synthetic bristles, which will keep their shape no matter how much water gets on them.
  • Get straight edges. Use painters tape to tape around woodwork, ceilings and windows, to ensure that you get a straight line and that no paint gets onto these areas. Take your time applying the tape, to ensure that it is straight and secure, so no paint can seep underneath it. Remove tape as soon as paint is dry.

For more tips, check out the Realtor Magazine article in its entirety.

When selling your Livermore Valley home, you want to stick with neutral colors that all potential homebuyers can imagine living with. If you’re not selling, have fun with it. Paint one wall a bright, bold color, or paint the ceiling to be really unique. If you’re artsy, create a design on the wall! Have fun with it.

When you are ready to sell, or buy, in the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me! I’m your Livermore Valley real estate agent, here and ready to help as soon as you are ready!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Exterior Maintenance to Do Before Your Livermore Valley Home Sale

YankeeHomesteadAre you gearing up to sell your Livermore Valley home? The home-selling process begins with getting your home ready to sell. This means cleaning the home, organizing your possessions, decluttering, depersonalizing and staging. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to remind you to include the exterior of your home in your plans, too!

The exterior of your home is the first place that potential homebuyers will see, either in a photo or a drive-by. Most homebuyers will judge a house by its exterior, similar to judging a book by its cover, so keep this in mind! Curb appeal is all about making your exterior look clean and inviting.

As a Livermore Valley home seller, be sure to pay attention to more than just the front entry. While the front entry is front and center, serious homebuyers will look everywhere.

Here’s a great checklist from Realtor Magazine when preparing your home for a sale:

  • Organize and clean the garage. If your home includes a garage, that will increase your home value, but don’t turn away homebuyers as soon as they see it! Of course they’re going to look in the garage, so invest in some trays, bins, shelves and whatever will help organize everything in the space. Hang items on wall hooks, clean the walls and floors and park the cars inside the garage. If you have an abundance of large items, consider renting out a storage space while your home is on the market.
  • Wash and fix patios and decks. Homebuyers love an outdoor entertainment space, so make sure it looks good! Stain your deck if needed, pressure-wash the deck and patio bricks, and wash all of your outdoor furniture. If your space is cluttered, store some of your outdoor furniture away. Trim around this space. Consider adding potted plants to make it look more inviting.
  • Fix up the home’s exterior. This means power washing the sides of your home, the windows and the garage door. Even clean the mailbox! Fix peeling paint and trim, and consider purchasing new house numbers if yours are old, rusty or worn. Replace burnt out lights. Stand away from the house and look at it from a neutral viewpoint. Ask a friend or neighbor to do this with you.
  • Make the yard spotless. Make sure that all garden supplies, toys and anything else in your yard is neatly stored away. Fix sidewalk or driveway cracks, trim bushes, mow the lawn and water the grass if necessary. Add colorful flowers or planters if you don’t have gardens for a boost of curb appeal.

These are all great steps toward making your home memorable to Livermore Valley homebuyers! If you have questions or are ready to begin the home-selling process in Livermore Valley, contact me! I’m ready to help!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Sell Your Livermore Valley Home as a Dog Owner

dogAs a Livermore Valley home seller with dogs, I’ve got some unfortunate news: not everybody likes dogs. I know, it’s hard to believe. But some people are scared of them, and some are allergic. So when selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s important to remember this. You want to do everything you can to portray your home as a pet-free environment.

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ll be the first to admit that this is easier said than done. As pet owners, we often become immune to the sights and smells of our pets and our homes. So, if you’d like a neutral opinion to come in and let you know what needs to change, I’m your guy!

In the meantime, plan ahead for showings and open houses by following these steps. That way, as soon as you have an interested Livermore Valley homebuyer, you can show the house and hopefully get it sold quickly!

  • Have your home deep cleaned. This means having all of the carpets cleaned and vacuuming everything, including furniture (in between and under cushions), under beds, behind dressers, inside cabinets, and anywhere that pet hair might have collected. Scrub everything, and if possible, have the home professionally cleaned to be on the safe side.
  • Give your yard a cleaning. The last thing you want is for a potential homebuyer to step into a pile of something unpleasant. Go around with a ‘pooper scooper’ and clean up all the piles. Be sure to also get rid of toys, dishes, etc. in the yard. A nice-looking doghouse can remain, as long as it’s in the corner of the yard and looks visually appealing.
  • Clean before each showing. Once the deep cleaning is done, you still want to breeze over everything before each showing, to get rid of the latest fur, toys and aromas. Wash your windows of nose smudges, Swiffer your hardwood floors, dust and vacuum rugs. Have a bin prepared to throw all of your pets’ belongings in, such as toys and dishes.  Have a couple air fresheners on hand, too.
  • Make your dog disappear. Whenever a showing or open house is scheduled, make sure to take your pets for a walk, find a neighbor or friend who can take them, or take them to a nearby park. It’s very important that the pets aren’t there when potential homebuyers are. If you absolutely can’t find somewhere for them to go for every showing, make sure they are in a cage or outside, and make sure to let your real estate agent know beforehand.

I love pets as much as you do, but I’d hate to see you lose a potential homebuyer because they don’t like them. So if you have dogs, or any other type of pet, follow these instructions. If you have any questions about this, contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Increase Your Tri-Valley Home’s Value with Landscaping!

porchfoliage2As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m usually sharing tips with Tri-Valley home sellers about curb appeal, because it attracts potential homebuyers to their listing. First impressions matter more than ever, now that the majority of buyers turn to the internet first for listings. A photo can make or break a sale, and in that photo, the front of your home is usually what appears first.

However, did you know that landscaping can also add value to your Livermore Valley home? If you’re considering selling your Livermore Valley home soon, or in the future, these yard features might be worth adding:

  • Trees. Trees have numerous purposes, such as blocking water runoff, reducing carbon dioxide in the air, saving energy by shading the home or breaking the wind, and adding curb appeal. Therefore, one tree can add to the value of a property by more than $200 in California! Add multiple trees, and the value climbs.
  • Native Plants. Homebuyers will appreciate trees, plants and shrubs native to the Tri-Valley area, because they thrive without a lot of work. Home values are said to increase with native plants in the yard by $500 to $5,000, according to a House Logic article!
  • Outdoor Lighting. In an annual survey by NAHB of what homebuyers want most, 41 percent of buyers rated outdoor lighting as essential, and 49 percent said it’s desirable. The lighting paints your home at night, highlights the landscaping and directs guests to the front door, the focal point.

Other landscaping features that you might consider are fencing, retaining walls and terracing, and walkways. More of the benefits of each can be read in this House Logic article.

While curb appeal can add home value, it can also turn homebuyers away. Buyers are looking for landscaping that adds functionality and resale value, not frills and lifestyle. If buyers see the landscaping as a lot of upkeep, that might turn them away. Choose wisely!

Need help with all this? Feel free to contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent, at any time! I’m here to answer questions and help you sell your Livermore, Pleasanton or Dublin home.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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