Sellers Discuss Their Mistakes & Regrets

Adapted from an article authored by Jennifer O’Neill ,

Homeowners who’ve successfully sold their home often look back and wish they’d done certain things differently.

Author Ms O’Neill recently interviewed some real-life sellers to tell their stories so you can learn from their mistakes! Read this rueful list of home sellers’ biggest regrets, and remember them when you decide to place your own home on the market.

Take the time to put your home in top-notch condition

Regret No. 1: Not fully preparing your home for marketing

Serious about selling your home? Three phrases apply: Fix it up!  Freshen it up! And Clean, Clean, Clean it up!

One seller reports: “I didn’t spend enough time prepping our house for sale—purging, staging, or doing small repair projects. And I regret not planning ahead or getting real about what had to be done, and it ended up costing me precious time and money.”

Regret No. 2: Skipping the staging

It’s easy to see how staging impresses a buyer!

“I really regret not paying the money to stage my home right off the bat,” confesses a Chicago seller.

“The money that it cost us owning the home longer was far more than the price it eventually cost to stage it.” That jibes with the stats on staging–professionally staged properties spend 73% less time on the market.

Regret No. 3: Jumping at the first offer

Antsy to exit her condominium, another couple acted with their hearts rather than their heads. More than a year later, she regrets it.

“We were so anxious to move, we accepted the first offer before it even went on the market,” she confesses. “We went for it because we thought it was quick and easy, but I’m we would have gotten much more if we’d just taken a breath and let the market find our house.”

Regret No. 4: Caving to a buyer’s whims

Sellers often learn the hard way that it doesn’t pay to bend over backward for a demanding buyer.

“Our buyer was really difficult and wanted us to give on so many items,” another seller reports. “We also agreed to give the buyer money toward updating the roof so we were very frustrated on the day of closing when he wanted even more.”

That seller stood firm, and after a few hitches, the sale continued–thanks to an agreement between the two participating Realtors to appease the buyer by reducing their commission. This was a last-ditch effort to save the entire transaction from falling apart, but it is seldom done.

Regret No. 5: Expecting your new buyer to love your house

If your hope is that your buyer will maintain and lovingly care for your old house as you did, you may be in for a huge disappointment. You have an emotional attachment to your old home and may feel a twinge of resentment if you find that the new owners don’t love the house as you did.

If you encounter this situation, your best approach is to concentrate on your NEW home. You moved for a reason!  Rejoice in that new home!  Resist the urge to drive by your old house—relegate it to your fondest memories, but recognize it was in the past.  Although you have an emotional pull, remember that the sale of your home was a business decision with a successful ending.

Regret No. 6: Trying to sell without an agent

This sign is an open invitation to strangers to get inside your home. Do NOT take the risk.

You may be tempted to sell your home by yourself. There are many valid reasons this is not the correct approach.  To maximize your profit and get your home sold in a timely manner, while keeping the transaction legal and your rights protected, you need to work with an experienced agent.  Laura has addressed this topic on her website, and she invites you to read her article “Why Do I Need an Agent to Sell My House?

If you are planning to sell your home and buy a new one that better fits your lifestyle, please contact me, Laura Van Meter. I will guide you through all these steps and create a smooth and successful transaction.  I’ll save you time, reduce stress, and maximize your profits!



3 Reasons Why Some Homes Don’t Sell

Across the nation, and certainly in Arlington, homeowners are enjoying a Seller’s Market. You’ve heard the stories—houses selling quickly for top dollar after receiving multiple offers.  So what’s up with those houses that sit on the market for weeks—or months—and why aren’t they selling?

There are many reasons why a home doesn’t sell quickly. For starters, buyers are part of the HGTV generation and they don’t want to purchase a “before” house at a fair price.  They don’t want to deal with the mess or time-intensive and costly remodeling of a home they just purchased.  Today’s buyers are picky and they’re willing to pay top dollar for a home in good condition that’s priced right.

Even in a seller’s market, homeowners still need to impress prospective buyers in order to get those good offers. Here are three important things sellers need to address if they expect their house to sell in a timely manner:


This single item is so important because a third-party stager will make your home appealing to buyers. Hiring a stager is one of best investments you can make to insure a timely sale and the best sales price.

These photos clearly illustrate the dramatic difference staging can make:


Staging + professional photography = A winning combination:


If you’ve already moved out of your listed home, consider renting furniture for some of the rooms to show it to its best advantage.  Your stager can arrange for furniture rental.

Don’t forget to stage your exterior!  Strive for attractive curb appeal and dress up your outdoor living space.  No matter how big or small, you can make it look inviting!

Professional Photography

Buyers are going to decide to look at your home based upon your online photos in the MLS. If your photos aren’t good, they’re likely going to pass on looking at your home.  Professional photos will show your home at is best.  You’ll get more showings, and more showings equal more offers.  If you need to pay for professional photography, DO IT.  Your investment will pay off with more showings and higher priced offers.

With appropriate staging and professional photography, this den/bonus room could be made into an attractive room–sure to bring “Ohs” and “Aws” from prospective buyers.  Don’t skimp on costs of staging and photography!

This is a very modest kitchen, but with staging and professional quality photography, it looks fabulous!

Price It Right

Overpricing your home is never good, for a variety of reasons. Agents that are active in your neighborhood know when a house is overpriced, and they’ll be reluctant to steer their clients into it for a showing.  No showings = no offers. Even if you get and accept an inflated-price offer, your house has to pass the appraisal.  If it doesn’t appraise, you’ll have to re-negotiate the terms with the buyer, which usually means lowering the price to the appraised value or losing the deal altogether.

So don’t “test the market” by listing your home at an inflated price. Doing so is like shooting yourself in the foot—and who needs that!  Price it right, and the offers will come.

Visit my website for more tips and information on listing and selling your home.

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Don’t Let Your Home Be a Target for Thieves

Adapted from FashionBean, authored by Mary Pimmel-Freeman

Coming home to find your house has been broken into is a nightmare no one wants to experience.

A recent study conducted interviews with several convicted burglars and their answers reveal what makes a home an easy target for burglaries. If any of these apply to you, try to make some safety improvements as soon as you can!

  1. Your house is empty during the day.

Thieves prefer robbing a home during the day when no one is home. Some will watch a neighborhood for a few days to observe when and if homes are vacant during the day.  Others may just casually knock on the door to confirm no one is home.

2. You leave your windows and doors unlocked.

One thief stated that he often went into an unlocked back door. Another said he concentrated on college student’s dorm rooms, taking game systems, laptops and bikes, because students were notoriously careless about locking their doors.

While locked doors and windows don’t guarantee your safety, it will help deter any thieves that are looking for an easy target.

3. Home Security

Thieves can still kick a door in, but a thief looking for an easy target won’t want to attract attention by doing this. Installing a steel door is the ultimate way to keep your front entrance safe.

4. You let your mail pile up while you’re on vacation.

This is an open invitation for a burglar looking for an easy break in.

If you’re trying to show that your house is occupied while on vacation, be careful that you don’t overdo it. One burglar said he knew a house was unoccupied when the homeowner left every light and TV on 24/7.  It’s best to leave just one light and one TV on when you leave.

5. You have an easily accessible backyard.

Thieves want unseen easy in and out, and will choose the most convenient way to enter your home. Going in through a back window offers the best privacy, so a fenced backyard will make it difficult to gain access to the back of your house.  They don’t like scaling 6 or 8 ft fences.  The more you can do to slow down a thief, the more likely he is to pass by your house and keep looking for one with easy access.

6. You have a thief in your midst.

It may surprise you to know that most homes are not burglarized by strangers. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that 66% of burglaries are committed by someone who knows the victim.

One person described this phenomenon: “Sketchy son-in-law. Jealous neighbor. Drug addict daughter. These are the people most likely to burglarize your house, so be cautious about letting others know about upcoming travel plans. Try to hide information about your whereabouts from them. Don’t post your upcoming trip to Belize on Facebook where they can see it.”

7. You make it obvious that you have valuables.

The same article from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing said that thieves are looking for the greatest potential rewards. You need to limit the visibility of your valuables and make it hard for them to be seen from outside.

So, keep your expensive stuff out of sight. Your 70″ flat screen TV should not be visible from the street. Your MacBook Pro shouldn’t be kept right in front of your first floor office window. It also helps to keep less obvious valuables in a safe place. Thieves admit to checking the master bedroom first for jewelry, cash, and other valuables. Consider putting your prized items in safer locations and in a safe that’s bolted to the floor.

Remember, burglars do not like being in a home long. These simple precautionary steps can slow thieves down and potentially prevent more things from being taken.

8. Your home is in a convenient location.

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing at the University of Albany also said that burglars pick homes that are convenient hits. They might look for a home with an easy getaway to a major thoroughfare, but they also like homes on the outskirts of neighborhoods where they have less chance of being seen by neighbors.

Thieves may also prioritize a home that has an entrance within easy access of an alley or street. Lack of visibility is another key factor burglars look for. Thieves are going to pick houses that have obscured entrances.

Corner houses with neighbors on only one side and houses that are concealed or covered by trees or architectural designs are more likely to be robbed. Houses that are hidden from the neighbors are easy targets—nobody’s there to catch them. Having poor lighting on and around your home can also make you less safe.

9. You forget to close and lock your garage door.

This falls into the same category as forgetting to lock your front and back doors. People may forget to close their garage door after they go inside or while they’re in the backyard mowing the lawn. Another individual noted that “thieves like to drive around nice neighborhoods, looking for people who left their garage open. They love a situation where someone might be mowing their backyard. They’ll quickly hop out of the car, run into the garage, grab as many tools, bicycles, etc as they can, and run.”

10. You don’t have an alarm system.

Alarm systems may be expensive, but they are a great way to keep thieves at bay. Most burglars agree that hearing an actual alarm would be enough for them to leave a home immediately.

11. You don’t have a dog.

Some serious thieves said if they had already cased a house, they wouldn’t let a dog keep them from breaking in, but others said that dogs would definitely keep them from breaking in when they want a quick, easy hit.

One burglar said, “People think a large dog would be a good deterrent, but I generally avoided those annoying small yapping dogs that never shut up. Get a dog that doesn’t like strangers. I don’t care if it’s big or small or threatening or friendly. As soon as one dog barks, the whole neighborhood starts barking and announcing a burglar’s presence.”

But be responsible. Don’t let security be the only reason you would consider getting a dog.  You are making a lifetime commitment to provide affection, care and a happy forever home to a new dog.  If you’re not able or willing to take on this kind of responsibility, then don’t get a dog.

12. And finally, get rid of that hidden key under the welcome mat!

I love to provide my clients and friends with helpful information regarding home ownership.  If you follow the tips on this list, you will be well on your way to having a safer home. Call me if you’re thinking of buying or selling a house this year.  The months of February and March are great for listing your home.  You’ll beat the active spring rush, and buyers who are looking at the market now are motivated.  They want to beat the competition of the spring selling season too!

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Forbes Names Dallas #1 City to Invest in Real Estate

Have you thought about investing in real estate?  This is a GOLDEN time to buy, and Forbes agrees!

Dallas, and the entire DFW metroplex, is the best market to invest in housing in 2017, according to a list Forbes published this month. By 2020, home prices in Dallas are expected to grow by 31 percent, the highest growth of any city listed. That projection is based on Dallas’ 6.2 percent population growth in three years (2012-2015), 3.9 percent job gains last year and 9 percent annual home price gains.

Read the full article HERE.

Buying a house for investment has some risk but working with an experienced Realtor will help you make a wise purchase.

Call me to discuss investment real estate–I have a wealth of knowledge to share with you and I’ll help you fulfill your real estate goals.

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Kitchen Remodeling Trends for 2017

courtesy of Culture Map

According to a recent Houzz kitchen trends report, as reported by CultureMap, a remodeled kitchen could help you be healthier! The report finds that homeowners with new kitchens order less takeout and they cook more meals at home, which certainly means healthier eating!

Age plays a role in preferred kitchen styles: Baby boomers and mature homeowners prefer traditional styles, while millennials prefer farmhouse-style sinks, gray color schemes, and modern textures.

Modern farmhouse styled kitchen with lots of gray

Modern farmhouse styled kitchen with lots of gray

Regardless of age, homeowners want sturdy, yet beautiful, flooring and countertops, naming durability and appearance as top priorities. Granite is the most popular countertop material, while quartz, wood slab, and quartzite perform respectfully. Hardwood flooring lost some favor but still remains the most common kitchen option. Ceramic and porcelain tile won the hearts of more homeowners this year than in the past.  And stainless steel appliances are still preferred over other options.

Stainless steel appliances still dominate, and white countertops are coming on strong

Stainless steel appliances still dominate, and white countertops are coming on strong

Custom cabinets still top the priority list for homeowners wanting to upgrade their kitchen. White cabinets prove to be more popular than wood-colored or gray cabinets combined. Adding an island or breakfast bar come in second and third as top features to upgrade, though millennials tend to want islands more than older generations.

White cabinets lead in popularity

White cabinets lead in popularity

Proving that younger generations want monochromatic schemes found in farmhouse-style kitchens, millennials and Generation X lean toward painting kitchen walls gray, while baby boomers tend to paint walls beige.

Renovation budgets keep climbing with 1-in-2 homeowners spending more than $100,000 on a new kitchen. The median amount homeowners spend upgrading is between $25,000 and $50,000.

To read the in-depth Houzz report, CLICK HERE!

I love houses and I like to share important news about houses with my followers. If you are thinking you need MORE than an upgraded kitchen and are considering buying a new home, contact me for key points about the housing market for 2017!  It will be a dynamite year to buy and sell a home!

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New Year – New Home! What to Expect If You Plan to Buy in 2017

Courtesy of NAR, author Bill Brown, as published by NerdWallet

The real estate market is looking good for first-time buyers, so 2017 may be the year that many young buyers finally step off the sidelines and into the market.  The long-awaited influx of these first time buyers will help drive home sales in 2017. For anyone planning to buy a new home this year, here is a look at what to expect in the market, along with five tips for achieving your home buying goals.

What to expect

low-mortgage-ratesFirst, mortgage credit is still tight from years of stringent underwriting.  However, mortgage interest rates are current around 4%, close to their historic lows.

Second, it may take time to find your dream home. The most recent data from the NAR shows a tight supply of existing homes for sale, and new home construction is not meeting demand. More buyers are competing for a smaller number of affordable homes than a year ago.

Third, home prices are steadily rising. With demand rising and listings scarce in many markets, NAR forecasts home prices will increase nationally about 4% in 2017. In cities with the tightest supply (like the DFW metroplex), prices could rise more than double that (10% or more) over last year.


1.  Start planning now

Begin planning a few months in advance of your home purchase. Start your home search by selecting a real estate agent who knows the area where you want to buy. Select a knowledgeable agent you can rely on to help you find homes in your price range and the neighborhoods you want to live in. You want an agent that can also market you to a seller as a serious buyer when presenting your offer to purchase.  Your Realtor will also develop a negotiation strategy to help make your purchase offer stand out in multiple offer situations.

2.  Get preapproved for a mortgage

Gather your paperwork and ask your Realtor to suggest lenders to guide you through the mortgage application and closing process.

3.  Identify your needs versus wants

No home is perfect. You may have to compromise on features when buying an existing home, but you don’t want to settle for a house you don’t love. Prioritize your needs and wish-list items from most to least important and use this list when viewing homes.

4.  Start looking and be prepared to act quickly

Ask Joe

Your Realtor will take you to visit homes and neighborhoods that align with your budget and needs. In markets with tight supply, multiple offers and bids above asking price are common, so the pressure may be on to move quickly. Don’t be disheartened if you lose out on a few homes, because the right one will come along! You need to be active in the market in order to grab your dream home when it hits the MLS. Your agent has the inside track, and he/she will be actively looking for you.

5.  Make a realistic offer

multiple-offerSince multiple offers are common in a tight market, your Realtor will make recommendations and supply you with comparable sales of similar homes in the area so that your offer is consistent with those sales prices.  She will guide you thru the terms of your offer to insure your offer stands out among the rest.

Buying a home can be challenging and it is in your best interest to work with an experienced and knowledgeable agent.  Laura Van Meter meets this criteria.  As a life-long resident of Arlington, she knows the real estate market like the back of her hand–an important asset for her clients.  She WILL help you find the home of your dreams.  Contact Laura at 682.551.0336 or visit her website HERE.

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Designer’s Top 10 Predictions for 2017 Decorating Trends

Adapted from Trulia

What’s ahead for home décor in 2017? Here’s a list of anticipated trends from leading designers, but I’m doubtful that we’ll see some of these in our homes. What do you think—Yes, No, or Maybe?

  1. Cerused woodsceruse-wood

    Also referred to as a limed-wax finish, this technique adds color to wood while also revealing its unusual grain. It’s expected to be big for cabinets and flooring, especially in dramatic hues of black and dark gray.

  2. Marble surfacesmarble-countertops

    Marble will be BIG in 2017. It has jumped from chic cafes and restaurants into our kitchens and bathrooms.

  3. Animal-inspired textures

    img_5964Whether real or faux, leather, shagreen, and parchment will be hot materials for 2017, especially as a contrast of texture in accent furniture.

  4. Statement headboards

    new-headboard-collageHomeowners love statement headboards, with their bold silhouettes and luxe fabrics. Footboards are (thankfully) gone from the decorating scene.

  5. Shiny metal finishesshiny-drawer-pulls

    Polished brass and bronze knobs, door knockers, pulls, and faucets are back in a big way. It’s a trend that’s easy to bring into your home — just swap out your current hardware.

    6.  Matte appliancesmatte-finish

    According to designers, stainless steel appliances are dropping in popularity and the new trend is matte-finish appliances. These dark hues add an element of drama into the kitchen.

    7.  Patterned wallcoverings

    new-wallpaper-collageAfter years of solid painted walls, wallpaper is poised for a comeback. Designers are seeing an interest in all-over, dramatic patterns like paisley, overscaled florals, and abstract designs, many in darker colors.

    8.  Jewel tonesdark-paint-colors

    Strong jewel tones like emerald and amethyst add warmth and personality to a space, and designers see this as another new trend in decorating. Even neutral colors can be intense. Think of light gray walls going to a strong dark gray, or taupe as a deep, rich wall color.

    9.  Nailhead detailsnailhead-collage

    You’ve seen those exposed nailheads on sofas for ages, but you’ll also see them on accent pieces like storage chests, credenzas, and even light fixtures.

    10.  Overdyed rugsoverdyed-rugs-collage

    We’ll never see sisals and solids go out of fashion, but there is something new in the world of rugs. It’s all about an overdyed effect that features rich, saturated colors.What do you think?  Can you see any of these trends in your home?

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