Real Estate Blog


April 26, 2013


Why a Pre-Sale Home Inspection is Good Protection

Yes, it’s true-- your buyers are going to have to pay for an inspection, so why should you? The truth is, there are many good reasons to spring for your own home inspection before listing your home. Here’s why:

Ignorance isn’t a good defense. Many sellers are afraid they’ll discover defects they’ll have to disclose to buyers when the time comes. 
While it’s unethical and illegal to omit known issues from buyers, the truth is that understanding these issues up front can save you a lot of time and money: 

First, you’ll have the opportunity to fix the problems before listing the home. Second, condition issues will help you price the home accurately for sale. And third: Buyers who are informed of condition issues up front will be much less likely to pull their contract than those who get nasty surprises down the line.

You’ll have your own estimate for repairs. When it comes to estimated repair costs (or price concessions), which would you rather have? Only the buyer’s inspection report, prepared for the buyer, or both your inspection report and the buyer’s? It’s also an issue of repair quality: Some inspectors will propose high-end fixes while others may propose more modest, but reasonable repairs. It’s handy to know the range!

You have a credible tool for negotiating issues. Again, when it all comes down to the buyer’s inspection, you won’t have one point of view on the topic. It’s also nice to present buyers with your own home inspection report as a show of good faith. It starts things off on the right foot when you say, “Listen, I’m sure you’ll want to have your own inspection, but before I decided to list my home, I wanted to know what any potential issues might be. Here’s what I found.” 

It helps protects you from non-disclosure accusations. It’s hard for a buyer to say you tried to dodge repair or maintenance issues later when you can prove you paid up front to have your own inspection done. “He knew about this, but didn’t tell me!” is a tough case to make when you’ve invested in home inspection protection.


April 22, 2013


These Selling Tips Help Adjust Buyer (and Seller!) Mindsets

Selling your home soon? It can be hard for sellers to come up with the details that make their home unique and appealing to buyers, especially since they’ve decided to move up or move on. 

I like to offer these three selling perspectives that help encourage sellers to see their home in a particularly favorable light. Ask yourself these questions and see if you don’t begin to see your listing with fresh eyes:

1. Where are the little luxuries in my home?

Don’t think big, think small: Did you have a professional organize your closet storage systems last year? Are there built-in items in the garage which make it a natural home for a future handyman? Did you weatherproof and tune-up the storage shed out back to double as a home office? Do the kitchen cabinets have slide-out shelves or other small luxury amenities? It’s not all about whirlpool bathtubs and brand new appliances... look for little wins that a lot of buyers will appreciate.

2. Why does your home beat apartment or condo living?

Many first-time buyers will have reached their limit with neighbors, noise, and cramped quarters. Sell your home on its merits compared to the “shared space” life. Is your neighborhood quiet? How big is the lot? What’s parking like at your house?

3. What’s fun nearby? (Even if you don’t think it’s fun.)

Even if you’re not a golfer, weightlifter, or theater-goer, those activities nearby can be a nice plus for potential buyers. With a new home comes the hope for personal growth and change, and playing up any activities that may catch a buyer’s eye are well worth mentioning. Have you become blind to activities nearby, simply because they’re not for you? Look again!

Of course there’s more to selling a home than these three tips, but hopefully these will get you thinking. For a more comprehensive sense of how I get my clients top dollar for their house, get in touch today


April 19, 2013

Home Upgrades
Stumped as to which home upgrades make sense? Interested in renovations for value, but you’re unsure what to tackle? I have a few simple guidelines I use to help clients narrow their scope and focus on the right choices.

Question #1: How long will you live in your house?

If you’re hunkering down for the next decade or two, don’t hesitate to do what you would most appreciate in your home. This is
 especially true of cosmetic changes, when appealing to potential buyers is a non-issue. After a decade or two, your upgrades might need upgrades, so go with projects that make the most sense for your taste and the way you prefer to live in your home.

Question #2: What have the neighbors done?

There’s wisdom in getting an idea what the surrounding homes look like. On one hand, you may get inspiration from ways in which your neighbors have transformed homes which are probably similar to yours. On the other, you’ll get an idea how much renovation you can get away with in your market. Upgrade to hard and heavy and you might not be able to get any of that money out if you’re going to sell, since the home will need to be listed far above market comparables.

Question #3: What’s a hassle in your house?

If something in your home is a hassle, it’ll probably bug prospective buyers as well. Is there limited storage space? Nowhere for guests to stay? An old-fashioned bathroom with a funky layout? There’s good reason to handle these headaches. You’ll not only enjoy the upgrade while you live in the home, but you’ll improve it for buyers when the time comes to sell.

When you get down to actual projects, there are details to consider, such as budget, timing, and design choices, but these three questions go a long way to getting your upgrade ideas organized.

April 12, 2013


Knowing the Local Market


“Advice to children crossing the street: damn the lights. Watch the cars. The lights ain't never killed nobody.”

Jackie "Moms" Mabley (born Loretta Mary Aiken), American standup comedian

"But I had the light," is probably one of the most common phrases spoken after a car accident. Green means go for me, red means stop for them. Before you know it, you're on the phone with your insurance company.

Who doesn't remember an adult reminding them to "look both ways before you cross the street"? It seems like common sense so basic we wouldn't even need to teach it. But it's funny how that lesson, which seems so obvious, is often lost in other areas of our lives.

Take, for instance, the raft of real estate market data you hear every month. What's new construction looking like? How did pre-existing sales do last month? What's it look like in the greater metro area for condo prices? To a certain extent, these are just the traffic lights of real estate. Agents help you look both ways before you act on those "trusted" signals.

Knowing the local market doesn't necessarily mean knowing the big numbers. It means knowing the specifics. It means knowing how to interpret market activity tailored to the needs of my clients. Metaphorically, it's my job to be a good scout and protect client interests as they "cross the market" (and that includes not getting hit by a bus-sized bad move).

Reporting always lags behind reality, though the delay may be small or large. Local agents are the best real-time readers of neighborhoods and inventory. Don’t get too nervous about what you hear in the news. Talk to someone who’s out there making it!

Keep your eyes open out there, and best of luck this week! Get in touch if you’re thinking about making a move soon.




April 5, 2013


The Definition of a Quality Client Relationship


What is the definition of a quality client relationship? Philosophically speaking, I believe you must be someone who gives freely, someone who builds life-long bonds by enriching the lives of people with whom you have rapport.

In my experience as an agent, there have been five essential approaches that have helped me maintain and extend long-term connections with my clients:

1. Empathize with people. Imagine, as you're listening to them, that they're not describing their problems, questions, and dreams, but they're describing your own. Make yourself the star of the movie of their life and be aware of how you would feel.

2. Be a part of the solution, even if you cannot solve the problem. Can you solve everybody's problems? Of course not. But you might be able to help them to see a pathway through their problem. This might be in the form of questions that help them think something through. It could be a referral to someone who can help them with their problem. It could even be as simple as a list of good articles to consider.

3. Aim to counsel, don't aim to please. An advisor is a true ally. A "yes man/woman" is completely forgettable (and untrustworthy). Risk short term rejection over a tough truth in order to grow a long term relationship.

4. Teach others how to teach themselves. Don't just give answers. The more you can increase a client's capacity to empower themselves, the more valuable your standing will be in their eyes. Think about it: Do you ever forget your mentors?

5. Give without anticipating return. If you're running a little cost/benefit analysis in your head for every interaction, you're not giving freely. Hesitancy, a stinginess of spirit, and an unwillingness to risk without reward will always cost you more than you think.

I can’t think of a single instance when these approaches haven’t improved the bond between me and my clients. If you value a transformational real estate experience over a purely transactional one, do get in touch with me today! www.justlistedcleveland.com


March 29, 2013

Hiring a Moving Company?


There are lots of good reasons to hire a moving company. It lowers your moving day stress, saves your back, and with the right company can ensure that your goods are safe from accidental damage. 

But for every sweet song of a smooth move, there are an equal number of “moving company blues” tunes out there. From a few sad notes of regret to total devastation, making a mistake when hiring a moving company can be an experience you’ll never forget.

Here are some tips to help make the right move when it comes to choosing partners for your next relocation:

1) Get in-house estimates for your move from anywhere between 2 to 4 companies. Many may say they don’t need to see your stuff to estimate the cost, but the fact is a reputable company will want to see your place first-hand.

2) Do your legal homework on the moving company. Trustworthy companies will have their Motor Carrier number and D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) license information posted online (or with their materials). Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) for complaints and do a little research on Yelp.com for customer reviews.

3) Don’t commit to a big deposit or other down payment. Shady operators can abscond with you money and/or hold your possessions hostage to extort “excess fuel charges” or other bogus price changes.

4) Never go with the low-ball offer. If you get three estimates within the same range and one that’s substantially lower, what does that tell you about the quote? Don’t let cheap impulses turn into expensive mistakes.

5) Get referrals from friends, co-workers, and even your H.R. department (assuming you work for a company that deals with relocations). Also... ask your real estate agent! 



March 24, 2013


Marketing Your Home


Marketing a home is not like marketing a commodity, such as bottled water. While everyone needs shelter, it would be a serious oversimplification to say that’s all a home offers.

Many agents take the perspective that a home is the right home for a buyer simply because they happen to be selling it. The truth is it can be a real waste of time and effort convincing people that a home’s qualities are exactly what they’re looking for. It’s far more efficient to market the home’s qualities to the segment of buyers who have a natural lifestyle fit for the home.

Profiling and segmenting buyer lifestyle is an excellent way to optimize the budget for marketing a home. Rather than taking a shotgun approach, tailor the home’s story as much as possible to the types of buyers who best represent the projected buyer for a specific listing.

Analyzing the specific qualities of the home is a natural first place to start. Is it close to an organic farmers’ market? Next to a country club with a legendary golf course? Does it have a garage fit for two BMWs, or is it a one-Prius sort of place? Has it got natural family sprawl or bachelor appeal?

Talk with the sellers about what originally drew them to the home. What caught their eye? Why was it the right place at the right time? What is encouraging them to move on now?

All of this adds up to the story of a listing. This story can then inform the marketing plan for the property, staging decisions, open houses, and even the way photos/videos are shot and presented online. 

We’re no longer looking for a convenient cave for shelter from the elements. We live in homes. Our homes should reflect our lifestyle. Keeping this in mind throughout the entire listing and marketing process is what makes me good at matching properties to buyers for my clients each and every week.

Let’s get started selling your home’s lifestyle today! Contact me for a no-obligation meeting. Call Bob Zimmer at 216.406.5729 or email me at rzimmer@kw.com.


March 15, 2013


Preparing Your House for the Market


When you’re preparing your house for the market, almost every agent will explain how valuable curb appeal is when it comes to marketing your home. Curb appeal can mean a lot of things, of course, ranging from wholesale replacement of the roof, paint, and landscaping, to a few tidy details designed to spruce up the place.

One of the best (and most cost-effective!) tune-ups you can make works both from the curb and from up close. It’s kind of like Botox for your home’s face. It’s a little something I like to think of as the “Front Door Tune-up.”

The front door is a focal point on your home, both from a distance and up close. Here’s how to leverage it for maximum impact:

1) Paint the door with an appropriate, fresh, contrasting color. Not only will this draw the eye (possibly even away from the crack in the driveway!), but it will go a long way to creating the impression of a new paint job.

2) Replace faded, small address numbers with classy, visibly new hardware. Long gone are the days of tacky decals. Even a modest investment at an upscale home accessories store can add a touch of luxury to your entryway.

3) Replace knob/handle and lock hardware. The feel of the doorknob, the click of the hardware, and the sense of security the door conveys matters hugely. It’s a front-line sensory experience for potential buyers. A sticky, weak, degraded set of locks only hurts your first impression.

4) Upgrade the door, if possible. Sometimes paint and hardware won’t do the trick. If you have an older home in a subdivision where many of the same styles of door were used, this could be a good time to differentiate your home while upgrading the aesthetic.

Will a door save your home from significant cosmetic problems? No. But I’ve seen it work again and again: The “Front Door Tune-up” is a subtle but effective listing tool.

I have lots of resources on curb appeal! Contact me for more: Call 216.406.5729 or email me at rzimmer@kw.com.


March 10, 2013

Are You Keeping Up with Your Goals?


Are you going to be one of the few who look back one year from now with the extreme satisfaction of having kept your promises to yourself? Or will you be among the millions who vow to try again next year?


I want you to be in the first category, and I want to help you see your goals become reality. So in that spirit, I thought I’d share a few strategies and tools for success this year.


1) Have you really articulated your goal? Is it “be in better shape” or is it “lose 30 pounds”? A degree of specificity is a must, because you’ll need an objective against which you can measure your efforts.


2) Have you gotten excited about your goal? Have you imagined the outcome? Don’t be ashamed to really visualize yourself enjoying the spoils of your hard work. Imagine yourself sharing your success story with pride.


3) Share your goals! Don’t keep your dreams in the closet where no one can see them. Public declaration not only helps you find third-party support from friends and family, but putting them out there makes them harder to abandon when motivation flags.


4) Don’t give in to “all or none” thinking. When you slip, lose focus, or encounter setbacks, don’t use them as license to give up. It will feel worse to crawl back after a blow-out than it will to forgive yourself and pick up where you left off. Accept that progress matters more than perfection.


5) Leverage apps and other technology to help you make progress. Automatic reminders, social networks, and other goal-specific tools can help. (Check out this article on “5 Apps for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions: http://mashable.com/2012/12/27/apps-new-years-resolutions/)


So what are your goals? Comment below! No time like the present to make your dreams public.


(Of course, if one of your goals is to buy or sell a home, I’d be happy to play a big part in helping you reach that objective! Contact me today: Call 216.406.5729, email me at rzimmer@kw.com or visit my site atwww.justlistedcleveland.com!)