Thursday, February 9, 2012

Houses are my passion! (Shoes are a close second)

My dream playhouse when I was 8
(or how I remember it)

It's true...Houses are my passion!  As a young child playing on my family's property in the piney woods of East Texas, I spent hours designing  "houses" by gathering pine straw and forming it into large pine straw floor plans. My pine straw dream houses had a living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, AND the all important 1960's "rumpus room" which my family did not have in real life, but that I had seen on television.
My family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana when I was 8, and that is where I became friends with Marcy Hays. I LOVED playing at  Marcy's house because she was a fun girl, had her own cotton candy machine, a cat clock in the kitchen with eyes and a tail that moved from side to side when it ticked, and a mother who believed in letting her children try all kinds of stuff my mother would never approve of.  But the main reason I loved to go to Marcy's house was  because she had an awesome playhouse in her back yard.

Marcy wasn't a girl who enjoyed playing "house", and she had little interest in her playhouse, which in my eyes, was a total DREAM house.  The playhouse  was crammed with a jumble of child sized furniture, tea sets, dolls, leaves, balls, and miscellaneous junk.  All I wanted to do (after we'd made a batch of cotton candy, of course) was organize and decorate that play house.  Poor Marcy was constantly trying to get me to do something else with her....climb a tree, ride bikes, bake cookies....ANYTHING but decorate the play house! I was never ready to go home when my mother came to pick me up....maybe my love for decorating and selling houses stems from always having to go home before my decorating job in the play house was finished.

1982 in the throne chair from Pier One
My pride and joy...a dashing husband,
an adorable baby boy
During the early years of my marriage, my husband was in law school, we had two babies, and we were living on little money and a lot of love. I decorated our tiny apartment with painted garage sale furniture, walls covered with "flair squares"(temporary wallpaper from the 80's), a country print camel back sofa we charged on a credit card, and a big wicker throne chair from Pier One...I thought it was sooo trendy! Our dining room table and chairs  changed colors on a monthly basis. These years of penny pinching and challenging decorating conditions caused me to develop an addiction to the feeling I get when I succeed in inexpensively transforming a plain and unimaginative space into an inviting place with personality and style. I'm constantly trying to think of ways to make something look better...I even give my poor husband a makeover now and then.

With the exception of one house we built, every house we've bought has been an ugly fixer upper. Every time I view a home, I see it not only as it is at the moment, but I also imagine it as it could be. If you are willing to make a few updates and repairs, you can make some great deals on homes that have sat on the market month after month because of their lack of appeal to the majority of buyers.

My passion for houses is just part of who I am.  If I had to choose between eating and decorating/selling houses, I would choose the activity that involves houses. (I'm okay as long as I have a box of Cheese Nips and a bottle of water in my car!)  My family is used to my chronic decorating, and my oldest daughter, either by genetics or exposure, has developed into a talented artist/decorator/designer with a unique flair.  I find her talent and creativity to be a great resource, and recently we had the fun experience of partnering together to accessorize a new home for one of my clients.

I am an ASP  (Accredited Home Stager), an ABR  (Accredited Buyers Agent), and a Realtor and Associate- Broker with almost 13 years of experience selling real estate in the Tyler, Texas area.  I love houses. They are my business, my hobby, and a passion of mine........I couldn't be happier just doing my job and helping the "Marcys" of the world find a home that even they can be excited about!

Making dream homes a reality since age 8!
I  can help you find your dream home too!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Snap to it! What to do to get your home ready to show and SELL!

Take a critical look at your house 
When selling a home, you need to look at it from the perspective of a potential buyer. Are there obvious flaws that need to be fixed? Problems that you have grown accustomed to will leap out at potential buyers. Fix everything prior to listing. If you’re worried about possible repairs for larger problems such as an old roof or a broken heating and cooling system, it can pay to get a home inspection so you know what needs work. Taking care of those larger issues yourself before putting your home on the market can mean more offers and less negotiating later. 

What about the appearance of your home? Does the d├ęcor need an update? Consider painting or making minor changes to update problem areas. Rearranging the furniture or buying new furniture or slipcovers can quickly change a room. Even if you don’t need updating, a fresh coat of paint helps both the inside and outside of your house look better and cleaner. Just be sure to choose neutral colors that will appeal to many buyers. The updates you make should be relatively cheap or should be able to travel with you to your new home. 

Give it curb appeal 
Starting at the curb, is your home welcoming? Check the landscaping and lawn. Trim your hedges, edge your loan, pull weeds, pressure wash the driveway and front walk. Plant flowers either in bed or pots around the front door. Keep your front porch swept and clear of any outside clutter. Replace a worn-out welcome mat. Paint the front door. If you have a storm door, clean the glass. Check to make sure all outdoor lights are working, especially the porch and walkway light. 

In your backyard, put all your tools and work equipment out of site. If you have power tools or lawn equipment you don’t use frequently, put it in storage or at a friend’s house. Make sure any swing sets and outdoor furniture are clean and in good repair. That goes for the deck as well – repair any rotted wood, especially on steps. 

Clean and de-clutter the inside 
One of the most important things that you should do when selling a home is to clean and de-clutter inside. Home selling requires a thorough spring cleaning – the baseboards, blinds, furniture, floors, carpets, everywhere. You want your home to shine. You may even consider hiring a cleaning service to do this if you are short on time. And remember, once your home is clean, keep it that way. When your home is on the market, make sure you vacuum, mop and clean your kitchen and bathrooms every few days. 

You also want your home to be free of clutter when selling it. Go through each room and pinpoint the piles of clutter that have built up, and be ruthless. In your living areas, get organized by storing what needs to be stored and throwing away the rest. If your rooms are furniture-heavy, store what you don’t need or take it to a friend’s house. Go through your bedrooms and put away personal items. Get a head start on packing by thinning out your closets with out-of-season clothing. Pare down your outwear, especially if you have a coat rack near an entrance. Pack away extra coats, shoes, umbrellas and other outdoor gear you won’t need while you’re selling. 

Problem areas 
In the kitchen, clear off the counters and organize your cabinets (they will be opened!). Pack away kitchen items you can do without – the piles of storage containers, party serving dishes, and specialty pots and tools you rarely use. The extra room will make your kitchen feel more spacious. 

In the bathroom, move toothpaste, makeup and other items from the counter to a drawer or cabinet (neatly though, don’t just toss everything in the drawer). Put out a new bar of soap on a sparkling clean soap dish (if you can’t get all the dried-up soap off, buy an inexpensive new one.) Pack away medicine for ailments people don’t care to think about – laxatives, athlete’s foot, etc. Don’t leave your toilet bowl brush or plunger next to the toilet – a better place for those items is your utility closet. 

Scrub your tub or shower stall until it looks new, and clean it every day to keep soap scum and mildew away (that includes fishing hair from the drain). Replace your shower curtain liner. Limit yourself to one shampoo bottle and one bar of soap or one bottle of shower gel. Use a wash cloth daily? Dried up, dirty wash clothes are a turn off. Toss it into the laundry and replace it after one use. Inspect your towels – only display clean, hole-free towels. If the edges on all your towels are frayed, pick up new, inexpensive ones to display. 

Utility areas 
Mudrooms, basements and laundry rooms can be the toughest areas to deal with when selling. Don’t let the project overwhelm you. First, throw away the junk. Then pack items you need but use rarely into storage bins or boxes and neatly stack them on shelves. Having the area clean and freshly painted is important. If you have pets, make sure food, litter boxes, pet toys and grooming tools are not in high-traffic areas. 

After you’ve prepared your home inside and out, have a friend or neighbor walk through and tell you what should be changed. You need to choose someone who is not afraid to be honest to do this. The feedback can really help in the first step of the home selling process.