Friday, October 11, 2013

The Little Things

Sometimes the smallest things can turn out to be some of the most important. Recently, I had a property listed for sale.  It seemed like a no-brainer to sell in the current La Grande market.  It was a great buy for the price range. It was in the price range ($135,000) that is in the bull’s-eye of buying activity.  It had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a partial basement with a family room and a big yard. The seller was even going to leave the play structure! Everything seemed to indicate that this house would be sold quickly and the owner could move on to Portland to the new job and life would be good for them.  Everything went according to plan.  We got an offer in the first 60 days of having it on the market. Not just an offer, but a really good offer from pre-qualified buyers.  The owner was ready to pack his bags and wave good bye to La Grande.  Told ya! What a great real estate agent I presumed myself to be.  The home inspection was ordered and we all assumed it would pass with flying colors. After all, this house is in great shape and there very little that could go wrong, right? Wrong.
Out of the blue, the seller and I got slugged right in the gut (figuratively, of course!) as we read through the paperwork informing us the buyers had unconditionally withdrawn from the transaction, citing the inspection as the reason. As with any transaction that fails because of an inspection, the report was delivered to us to review.  The home inspection indicated there was water in the crawl space under the house.  Not a huge issue, but something we needed to address in order for the bank to loan on the house.  Then we saw the notes in the report about a substantial wet spot in the carpet on the floor of the basement family room. NOW we started to worry a little.  What the heck is causing that? Then, we read on into the report as the inspector described a large break/crack in the foundation wall and he advised the buyer to get a structural engineer’s opinion.  That was enough for the buyers.  They walked away from an otherwise beautiful home, and rightfully so.  I certainly would have advised them to do the same.
After the seller and I gathered ourselves and got over the shock of the report, we began pondering the potential cause.  The house looks so good.  It’s super clean. The paint is fresh. This appears to be a model home and yet we lost a great deal and had an inspector tell someone to get a structural engineer.  Those things can be the kiss of death when trying to sell a home.  We contacted a building contractor to look at the house and give us an opinion of what caused this.  Do you know what the problem was? You’ll NEVER guess…  The cause of the problem was a missing elbow at the bottom of the rain gutter downspout! Really? That little thing that got thrown off when the seller hit it with his lawn mower?  Really?  Yes, really.  The downspout had been draining water straight down the side of the house and it was running into the ground right next to the foundation wall.  Over time, along with the hot and cold of the seasons, the foundation broke and started letting water into the crawl space, which in turn soaked the carpet in the family room downstairs.  It all could have been prevented with a $3.00 downspout elbow.

 Don’t let this be you.  Fall means more rain.  More rain and falling leaves. Check your gutters for clogs from leaves and visually inspect them to make sure they are all there and working properly.  If they aren’t, get ‘em fixed!  It’s usually not costly and will prevent disasters like this one.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Home's Showing Power

People always ask, “What can I do to make my property worth more if I decide to sell?”  The answer is not always so easy.  I usually respond with, “It depends.”  It does.  It depends on many things that can affect what I recommend.  I do have a few things I always look for and have tried to put these into a “Top 5” list of things that will add value.  I’m sure this list will not be perfect, but it’s a good start.  Here we go:

1)      Do you have only one bath?  If so, look at your floor plan and see if there is a place to add a second bath, or even a half bath.  For the money it costs, especially when you have some skills to do the work on your own, this is of good value when selling.  A second bath is important to most people with families, people who want families and even empty-nesters that want room for guests.  For the cost, this is a great way to add to your selling price.

2)      What is the first thing you notice about a house?  If you notice it, others will notice it too, good or bad.  Most likely that would be the front of the house, whether from the photo on MLS or from a drive by.  A lot of people make decisions on whether to see a home by their first impression. We call this “curb appeal.”  There are several ways to improve curb appeal. Check the landscaping and spruce it up where it needs it. Trim the hedges, mow the lawn, kill the weeds.  Look at the paint. Is it looking rough?  Is the house dirty? Making the front of the house look like a home that people love is a big advantage when selling.

3)      Walk in your front door.  What do you notice? Does it smell? Is it cluttered?  It’s important to be realistic about what you notice because buyers certainly will be.  The first impression of the interior of your home will be as important as the curb appeal.  Buyers will decide whether they want to see the rest of the house based on their first impression.  If it stinks, maybe you need to deal with your cat.  Maybe the carpet needs to be replaced. Figure out what it is and fix it!  Clutter is easy to fix. Don’t get caught with the attitude of “I live here. They can deal with how I live.”  Until it is sold, you need to live in a way that sells the house, even if it isn't very comfortable. Make it as easy as possible for buyers to imagine themselves in the space.

4)      Kitchens are a big deal to most buyers.  Look at yours. Is it dated?  Does it need a thorough cleaning? Are there dirty dishes piled in the sink? Are the counter tops cluttered? Are the cupboards organized? Buyers will open cabinetry. Clutter is indicative of limited space, so take the time to clear out excess and organize! If it’s dated, maybe think about changing the hardware and/or painting the cabinets. Don’t remodel it to sell it. The cost is prohibitive related to the return. Do simple things and make it look brighter and clean!

5)      Does it look well maintained inside?  Clean things up! That’s free. Look around. Are the blinds dirty? If so, clean ‘em.  Are there dirty hand prints around the door casings?  Paint ‘em. Did the dog scratch up the wall by the back door?  Fix it.  Those little things will add up to much more interest for a buyer.  People want to think a home has been taken care of. It creates comfort.  Comfort creates offers.

Follow these few tips and you will sell your house for more money than if you left it alone.  If they are already done, good for you!  You are light years ahead of the competition. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stockshow Parade Fun!

It's that time again ! We have a mere ten days before summer officially begins, but it feels like it's in full swing already. This past weekend was jam packed full of local events, including the ever-popular Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. Christy took it upon herself to be the creative mastermind behind our float this year, and did a wonderful job. 

Our float took second place! 

It was hot, but seeing the smiling faces of all the kids chasing after candy was more than worth every minute in the sun!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Busy Spring

Our Wonderful Team

RE/MAX Real Estate Team has had an incredible spring! The real estate business is booming and our agents are busy busy busy helping community members buy and sell homes.

Randy and Shawna hard at work

We are coming up on the festive summer season, which in Union county, means parades, fairs, farmer's market, and countless other fun community events. RE/MAX Real Estate Team has been actively planning for some of these very fun things. Here's a sneak peek at where you'll find us this summer:

  • 3 Rivers Race Against Domestic Violence (this coming weekend!)
  • Eastern Oregon Livestock Show
  • CASA Duck Derby at Riverside Park
  • July 4th Fireworks Show at Community Stadium
  • Farmer's Market
  • Union County Fair

This spring, we partnered with La Grande's Farmer's Market to bring you Chef at the Market - a weekly recipe demonstration presented by local food enthusiasts. Volunteer chefs will show you how to prepare a recipe using many fresh, farmer's market ingredients. If you haven't had a chance, make your way to Max Square in downtown La Grande this Saturday to see the RE/MAX Real Estate Team sponsored Chef at the Market booth in action and sample some of the delicious fare. Click here to view the past week's recipes.

We look forward to a full and fun summer season. Cheers to barbecues, days at the river, and living in beautiful Eastern Oregon!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Year

It's been a while since our last post, so there is a lot of catch-up to play! Perhaps the biggest change to our office is the addition of Amanda May as our new office manager. Amanda and her husband are natives of Union County and love the community! They bought their first home from Shawna in 2009, and since then have been busy finishing school and settling into life together. They had their daughter Eilie in 2011 and are expecting baby #2 this coming June. She joined our team in November and has been hard at work ever since!

We had an especially busy holiday season this year. We put on our annual Tree of Giving to benefit displaced youth in Union County and it was a smashing success! We had clients and community members sponsor individual students this year and everyone really stepped up to make a difference for the kids. From bikes to books and everywhere in between, we were able to fulfill many wishes and bless the youth in our community. It was amazing to take part in such an incredible outpouring. Thank you again for your support in that event!

We had some fun getting into the Christmas spirit with our Christmas Light Contest. Being our first year, we didn't have quite the participation we had hoped, but we still had entries worthy of the great prizes we offered. Congratulations again to the Schwehrs from North Powder for your first place entry! We hope you enjoyed your $100 visa gift card!

The end of the 2012 and beginning of 2013 were jam-packed with year-end office work and our agents were hard at work to close sales before year's end. It paid off! We had our biggest year in sales since we opened in 2002! Congratulations to our wonderful agents for such a prosperous year.

This past Friday, we had our annual office party. Our team enjoyed a delicious dinner catered by Joe and Sugars, gifts, prizes, and great company. Thank you to Wayla Chadwick: the prime rib was especially tasty!

We have a lot of fun coming up: look for news about our upcoming spaghetti feed and other fun community events!