Bridget Alves                of Valencia

Blog - Full Service Real Estate Group, Inc

Swimming pools: Are they worth it?

Bridget Alves - Monday, September 28, 2015

When searching through home listings, those with swimming pools are almost always listed for higher prices than the pool-less homes around them; often leading to the belief that a swimming pool will net the seller a better price. In some cases, this is true, but sometimes, homeowners are unable to recoup the entire cost of pool installation, let alone turn a profit off of it. Installing a swimming pool is a complicated affair and should be thought through very carefully before you decide to take the plunge. 

To start, a typical in-ground pool is going to cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, with prices easily reaching the 6-figure mark for fancier varieties. This means that you’re going to need to tack on the installation amount to the asking price of your home just to break even. That doesn’t include the maintenance costs for owning a pool – which can be considerable. For example, if your home sells 30-days after you put it on the market you’re only going to be in the hole for one month’s worth of upkeep costs (increased utility bills, chemicals, and maintenance). However, should your home sit on the market for a while, these costs will begin to add up and can easily leave you under water.

Swimming pools are not standard, and that means that while it will turn some potential buyers on, it’s also going to turn some off. Not everyone is going to want to deal with the increased utility bills, loss of usable yardage, and general pain-in-the-neck-ery of having to maintain a swimming pool throughout the year. 

Finally, there’s the market. Do most of the homes around you have a pool? Does the neighborhood itself have a community pool nearby? Ultimately, the market will be a huge determinant to what you can get for your home, whether you install a pool or not.

Why hire an appraiser?

Bridget Alves - Monday, September 21, 2015

When determining the asking price of your home, you absolutely need to know its exact value. A big mistake that home-sellers sometimes make is to estimate the value of their home based on the prices of other homes in the neighborhood. The problem with this is that you really have no idea how that price was determined, by whom, and why. Two homes in a neighborhood that look very similar can have values that vary by tens of thousands of dollars, depending on a host of issues. From obvious amenities like the existence of a swimming pool to seemingly innocuous details, such as the style of landscaping, everything about a home will affect its price.

The most surefire way to find out what your home is worth is to hire an appraiser. Appraisers are qualified and educated to understand the value of every little thing about a home. He or she will take a tour of the inside and outside of the home and formulate a value based on what exists and the state it’s currently in. One thing that’s awesome about an appraiser is that they can give you advice on improvements you can make to raise the home’s value. These improvements don’t have to be massive projects like redesigning the kitchen or adding additional bedrooms (though that would certainly do the trick), but may be something simple you can do yourself. Things like adding a new coat of paint, while a big job, can greatly increase the value of your home. 

Furthermore, appraisers can let you know some things that should be done, as opposed to what could be done. If they notice that some of the shingles on your roof are going to need to be replaced, they’ll let you know. Those patches of dead, brown grass in your backyard? They’re going to drive the value of your home down a bit, too. 

If you want to get the best possible price for your home, you need to start with an accurate price. Hiring someone whose job it is to know the value of things is really the best way to start. Hiring an appraiser on your own is great, but if you’re working with a real estate agent talk to them about it first. They likely have a list of trusted appraisers that they work with. 

What’s the best time of year to sell?

Bridget Alves - Monday, September 14, 2015

Ensuring that your home sells as fast as possible includes putting it on the market at the right time. Depending on who you ask and where you live, the right time of year may vary pretty widely. Typically, though, conventional wisdom would suggest that you put your home on the market sometime during the spring. 

Why the spring? It’s the season of the year that hast the least amount of holidays, and the ones that do fall in the spring aren’t necessarily associated with spending a lot of money. Buying a house is a major investment, and most people tend to make these investments when they don’t have any foreseeable expenditures in the near future and haven’t had any in the recent past. Additionally, spring is usually the season when the yard looks the best. Houses for sale will be much more enticing when flowers are in full-bloom and the grass is a vibrant shade of green.

No matter what season it is, different areas will have differing market trends. Understanding the trends will give you a fantastic edge when selling your home. Talk to your real estate agent about the market trends in a given area. They have access to all sorts of useful information like how long, on average, a house stays on the market in a given area each month of the year. Keep in mind, though, that these statistics paint a pretty broad picture. Just because someone else’s home sold in 2-weeks doesn’t necessarily mean yours will. However, it’s still a wise decision to take these trends into account when you want to sell your home.

When you’re sifting through market data and advice on when to sell your home, remember the most important factor is you. Selling your home when you’re ready to do so will make the experience far less stressful - regardless of if the home sells in a month or remains on the market longer.  

Common pitfalls to avoid when selling your home

Bridget Alves - Monday, September 07, 2015

Often times when someone is looking to move into a new home, their ability to purchase said home is dependent on the home they already own being sold. Basically, they can’t buy a new home until they’ve sold the old one. When a home sells quickly, this usually isn’t a problem. However, some folks find their homes languishing on the market month after month and don’t know why it won’t sell. After all, the real estate market is supposed to be back on its feet, right?

There are a lot of factors to consider when selling a home, and while the health of the housing market is one of them, it isn’t the only one. Often, it isn’t even the most important. Let’s look at the sales price, for example. You definitely want to get all you can from the sale of your home, but if you overprice it, studies indicate you can reduce your prospective buyer pool by at least 50%. There’s a very fine line between pricing a home at its current worth and overpricing it. Talking to your real estate agent about pricing your home can be crucial as they have access to a ton of incredibly useful market data that will help you determine the proper price. 

Next, there’s flexibility. Now we’re not talking about the type of flexibility that allows you to touch your toes, but schedule flexibility. If you only want to show your home between 2 and 4 p.m. on Sundays, you’re going to turn off a lot of potential buyers. Be open to scheduling walkthroughs throughout the week, and if you’re not currently living in the home, let your real estate agent put a lock box on the door. That way, he or she can easily show the home as often as possible.

And now we come to, arguably, the most important factor when determining the salability of a home: condition. There’s nothing wrong with selling a home that needs a little T.L.C. (we’ve all heard of a “fixer-upper,” right?) but if that’s the case with your home, it’s going to affect the price. Additionally, “fixer-uppers” will attract only the type of buyer who’s willing to put in work. Anyone who’s looking to buy a home and move right in will likely skip over your listing because they lack the knowledge, desire, money (or all 3) to put in serious work once the home has been purchased. 

Dealing with the disposal

Bridget Alves - Monday, August 31, 2015

Selling your home can bring to the forefront a million little tasks you need to do, but haven’t had the chance to. For some, it might be as simple as giving the place a good once-over with a mop and a broom. For others, it can get pretty intense. To keep things from spiraling out of control, create a maintenance schedule and include all the little things you may not realize you need to do until they become a problem. 

One of the more common pitfalls among homeowners is taking care of the garbage disposal. It can easily be overlooked; and lot of folks don’t realize there’s a problem until they get hit in the face one day with a whiff of something awful surging up from the depths of their sink. If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, then you know what I mean. 

Cleaning the garbage disposal is pretty simple, and it should be done at least once a month. If there’s already a smell coming from your disposal, fill an ice cube tray half full of water and the other half full of white vinegar. Pop it in the freezer for a few hours and once all the liquid has frozen, put both of them into the disposal and turn it on. As the blades grind the cubes into shards, the smaller pieces will clean the blades while the vinegar helps to kill of what’s causing the smell. This can be done 2-3 times a week until the smell has dissipated.

Alternatively, you can put half a cup of baking soda down your disposal followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Make sure you get it all down there because once they’ve mixed, the solution will fizz up. Let it sit for 15 to 30-minutes and then wash it down with warm water. 

Tips for showing your home

Bridget Alves - Monday, August 24, 2015


When you’re selling your home, showing it to the public can be stressful. After all, each person viewing the home is a prospective buyer, and their scrutiny can be maddening. However, viewings, if done right, can make or break a potential sale. Here are a few tips for when you’re showing your home that can help make for a more successful viewing:


  • If you have an agent showing your home – let them do it! Sometimes, a person likes to take a hands-on approach to showing their home, but real estate agents are trained and equipped to do it in ways that most others aren’t. Step back, relax, and let the professional you hired work their magic.
  • Light up the room. If the sun is shining, keeping the blinds open will let in more natural light. If it’s night, make sure you have enough lights on so that the rooms are well-lit. Light makes rooms look larger and more inviting, and every little bit helps when you want someone to make an offer.
  • Leave some – but not all – of your furniture in the home. When everything is removed, the house can look empty and uninviting, but with a few pieces of furniture a “house” will look more like a “home.”
  • Remove personalized items. Things like pictures, posters, books and bookshelves, etc. should be removed and either sent to your new home or kept in storage. You want viewers to imagine their pictures on the walls, their books on the shelves. 

Cool your home efficiently

Bridget Alves - Monday, August 17, 2015

Here we are in mid-August, with summer in full-swing. It’s hot, it’s dry, and if your air conditioner isn’t running efficiently, it could be costing you an arm and a leg. When you’re showing your home, you want the temperature to be just right; and that means making sure that the air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible. If your home isn’t as cool as it should be, or your electric bill is astronomical, taking the following steps before you call the technician may save you time, money and headache.

If your air conditioning unit is on the ground, take a look and make sure that there’s nothing around it that could be obstructing the air flow. You want to keep an area of at least 2’ on every side clear of debris, leaves, plants, etc. All of these things can easily block the intake and force your machine to work harder and burn more power. 

Next, if the machine is running, turn it off and take a look at the fan. Are any of the fins bent? If so, the fan isn’t performing optimally. If you feel safe, you can take the screen off and remove the fan to put any bent fins back into their original position. If you do this, ensure that the power is off (at the breaker, not just on the machine) so you don’t get hurt. If you don’t feel safe, a technician can always do this for you.

While you’ve got the unit open, clean out any leaves, twigs and other debris that may be in the machine. You want the air to flow as freely as possible, and having free-floating junk in there can easily block airflow openings.

Last, take a look at all of the vents and ducts that are clearly visible leading from your AC. You want to check for cracks, holes or any other fissure that can easily be seen. If you find any, seal them up with heat graded foil tape (despite the name, duct tape doesn’t do the job as well). Covering up holes will ensure the air gets to the rooms you want and doesn’t get vented into a wall or the basement.

Not everyone loves animals

Bridget Alves - Monday, August 10, 2015

If you have pets, keeping them around while your home is being shown to buyers may be a bad idea. Imagine being shown a home wherein one of the rooms contained several snakes. Sure, they’re in their terrariums and aren’t able to get at you, but if you don’t possess the same love for reptiles that the owner does, are you really going to stick around the place knowing one of the rooms plays host to a bevy of serpents?

Animals are also not necessarily the cleanest of beings. Keeping up on bathing your dog or cat is great, but it’s almost impossible to keep the home hair-free. Additionally, pets can add an odor to the home that you’re likely unaware of. Have someone who doesn’t own a pet come in and sniff the air in your home; hopefully they won’t pick up the scent of the animal. On the subject of smells, cats, or more accurately, their litter boxes, are some of the most notorious olfactory offenders. If someone can detect the scent of the cat’s litter box in your home, it’s going to require serious cleaning and airing out before anyone should be allowed to view the place. 

When a home is being shown, it should be welcoming. Some agents won’t even show a home if, upon reaching the front door, a dog is barking behind it. Dogs, even those who don’t bark at strangers, are often curious creatures. Having your dog trailing behind as he or she investigates the newcomer is, at best, distracting and at worst downright irritating. If you own pets, reducing their presence in the home can be a hassle, but will only help you in the long run.

Wipe your fingerprints from the home before showing

Bridget Alves - Monday, August 03, 2015

When it comes time to sell your home, it’s always a wise decision to make your home as empty and plain as possible before allowing prospective buyers to be shown around. Your home likely possesses a good deal of your personality inside, and that’s perfectly fine – for you! However, house hunters aren’t looking to live in your house; they’re looking to live in theirs. When the home bears too much of “you,” it will be difficult (if not impossible) for buyers to envision their own things within the home. Additionally, they may be turned off entirely if your taste and their taste don’t necessarily match.

For example, imagine walking into a home where the owner was enamored with the color green. Everything in the home was one hue of green or another, the floors, ceilings, accent wall, couches, lamps, etc. Now, if you also love the color green, then welcome home. But if not, the simple fact that this home contains too much of a color you don’t find attractive may turn you off the home entirely, regardless of the fact that all of the items would be removed. 

Don’t make the same mistake as the seller in the example above. If you can show your home completely empty, it will make the place look bigger and allow prospective buyers to imagine their own things in the home. If you can’t, try and keep as few pieces of furniture in the home as possible. Remove picture frames and posters from the walls, remove end tables, book shelves, lamps, etc. Anything you don’t need in the home should be taken out. The more your home appears to be a “blank slate” to buyers, the more likely they are to purchase the home from you.

Pique a buyer’s interest with a creative sign

Bridget Alves - Monday, July 27, 2015

Pretty much everyone who is selling their home wants it to sell quickly, and there are loads of things that can be done to increase the chances of that happening. One of the most important things to do to help sell a home quickly is to make it look inviting. The more inviting a home looks, the more house hunters are likely to check it out, and the more people interested in the home, the more likely one of them is to make an offer. 

Making a home look inviting can be a lot of work, depending on the state of the property when it goes on the market. Sometimes, landscaping will need to be upgraded, painting may need to be done, and repairs may need to be made. Even the right “For Sale” sign can help a home seem more inviting. The sign is an often overlooked, but important, feature. A simple sign that displays that the home is for sale will do exactly that: notify passersby that the home is for sale. Maybe they’ll take down the number, maybe not. Using the sign to simply advertise the availability of the home is a waste when it can be used to entice house hunters into taking a closer look. After all, if there are several houses available in a single neighborhood, why should they be more interested in yours?

Adding phrases to the sign that flaunt the features of your home are far more likely to pique a prospective buyer’s interest than a simple “For Sale” sign. Phrases like “Newly Listed,” “3-Car Garage,” “Hot Tub/Pool/Jacuzzi,” or even things like “Move In Ready” and “Beautiful Inside” can catch someone’s attention and entice them into following-up. Be creative, be positive, and above all: be patient. 

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