Bridget Alves                of Valencia

Blog - Full Service Real Estate Group, Inc

Quickly enhance your home’s value with landscaping

Bridget Alves - Monday, June 13, 2016

The word “value” has a literal definition and an abstract one. The first, obvious definition of value is the amount of real, actual money your home is worth. The second definition is going to be how much appreciation a buyer holds in their mind regarding what they’re purchasing. It might seem like an increase in one always results in an increase in the other - but that isn’t always the case!

For example, let’s take two homes for sale right next door to each other. These homes are identical in every way with the exception that one has a swimming pool and the other does not. The home with a pool is likely going to be somewhat more expensive than the one without, because the pool makes it more valuable. However, a savvy buyer will look at a swimming pool and see the future increases in their monthly utility bills, and the amount of work it takes to maintain a pool, and may ultimately decide to purchase the other home. In this scenario, the presence of the pool raised the market value of the home, but decreased the mental value in the mind of the seller.

So, what can you do to increase the market value of your home and also make it more enticing to buyers? Landscaping! The great thing about landscaping is that it’s relatively easy to add things to your yard that make it more appealing, while at the same time being easy to change if the buyer isn’t too keen on your design. Removing unwanted shrubs, flowers, and even trees, can be done over the course of a weekend. The new owners can then replace the landscaping with something more appealing to them, or simply leave the front lawn as nothing more than green grass.

Removing an unwanted swimming pool, however, isn’t really an option. The removal of a swimming pool would be a nightmare and result in a giant, gaping pit in its place. Keeping the pool and not using it can still be a hassle because water and debris will collect in the bottom and, over time, turn into icky green sludge. Covering the pool can slow the process, but experience shows that water always finds a way in there somehow.

Common turn-offs for home buyers

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 30, 2016

So, you're getting a lot of attention from potential buyers who come in to see your home, but for some reason the offers just aren't following. What could be wrong? The answer to that, unfortunately, are a lot of things. Here are a few of the top turn-offs that home buyers encounter that are sure to send them running for the door.

This issue is more common than you may realize, and there are few errors more egregious than showing a dirty home. The first thing you need to do is get your personal effects out of the home (you can leave large furniture like beds and couches). The second thing you need to do is scour the entire place from top to bottom. If you don't have the time or energy required to get your home looking new again, then hire a professional service. Seriously. Do it.

Odors are a huge issue; they're like dirt that you smell. Usually, opening the windows during the cleaning process will remove any odors. If they persist, you need to track down the source. Pets stinking up your carpet? Replace it. Musty smell coming from the vents? Get an HVAC technician to take a look and make sure there isn't mildew or mold.

A fragrance is the opposite of an odor, but it can have the same effect. Whether you love the scent of lilacs, lavender, or cigarettes and motor oil is entirely up to you (hey, I don't judge). However, people react to fragrances differently. If a person enters your home and find the fragrance unpleasant, they'll associate that unpleasantness with your home and are far less likely to place an offer. You want it to smell neutral and clean. You want it to smell “new.”

Old “stuff”
If you're selling an older home, you may want to take a look around and see if there's anything that seems dated which you can easily replace. You'll want to look at ceiling fans, light fixtures, doorknobs and even the little knobs on your cupboards. Things like this can usually be replaced pretty inexpensively, and will help give your home a more modern look, which, again, will help give it a feeling of being “new.” Guess they just don't make things like they used to, eh? No. They don't.

People are all different, and buyers will like and dislike a variety of features in your home throughout the course of the viewing. The items listed above, though, are pretty much universal turn-offs that you'll want to avoid at all costs.

Easily avoidable home-selling mistakes

Bridget Alves - Monday, May 23, 2016

Whether it's your first time selling a home, or you're a real estate veteran unloading a project house for a tidy profit, mistakes can be made that lead to increased costs on your end – if not the loss of the deal. Below are 4 easily avoidable mistakes people make when selling homes, and what you should do instead.

Not hiring a real estate agent
Some folks think that by not hiring a real estate agent they can save some money. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of time and effort, along with the complexity of the real estate business, often makes working without an agent an incredible headache. Do yourself a favor and hire a real estate agent.

No inspection
You need an inspection of your home if you plan to put it on the market. The inspector is going to be able to make sure any and all improvements you've made are up to snuff, and also will be able to alert you to any repairs you need to make. If you don't hire an inspector, but the buyer does and repairs are necessary, you're going to look bad. Real bad.

Suppose there are some issues with the home that need to be addressed. Perhaps the plumbing needs some work and the roof isn't in the greatest condition. If you know that work needs to be done on the home, and you don't intend to do it yourself, you absolutely must inform prospective buyers of the issues. Sometimes, a buyer will insist the repairs be made before they even think of purchasing the home, while others will be ok with doing it themselves. The latter will want the price of the home to reflect the cost of the repairs, though, so be ready for that.

Showing an empty home
You absolutely want your home to be sparkling clean and clutter-free when you show it to prospective buyers. Some folks, though, take this to mean that they need to have the place completely emptied out to do so – which isn't the case. Remove all personal items like picture frames, book shelves, end tables, etc. but leave some of the bigger stuff like the living room couch, beds, a lamp or two, etc. When a house is cleared of personal items and clutter, but still contains some furniture, it will allow prospective buyers to see the potential of the space. Doing so will allow them to fill in the blanks with their own items or ideas. Showing them a completely empty home has less of an effect and doesn't typically lead to the best offers.

Some advice to help sell your home fast

Bridget Alves - Monday, January 25, 2016

The decision on the part of a buyer to purchase a home can depend on a number of things like the home’s location, its relative value, and the phase of the moon (hey, we don’t judge!). With so many things out of your control, there are only so many things that you, as a home seller, can do to speed up the sale of your home. That being said, here are a few things you can do that are designed to help your home sell as fast as possible.


Price the house right from the outset

Those who price their homes for more than they’re worth, with the intention of playing the haggling game with prospective buyers are shooting themselves in the foot if they want to sell their home quickly. Savvy buyers (or those with the help of a real estate agent) are going to notice that the home is priced higher than it should be, and be able to see right away what the seller’s strategy is. In cases like this, some buyers will either attempt to lowball the owner, or forego making an offer altogether. When you price your home for what it’s actually worth from the get go, you’re not only offering the home at a fair price, but it creates an air of trust and honesty between you and the would-be buyer.


Enhance the curb appeal

The first thing a prospective buyer is going to see is the outside of your home, so make that first impression a good one by giving the lawn a little TLC. Whether you decide go the distance by re-sodding the grass, planting flowers, and adding new paint and fixtures will be up to you, but unless your yard is already immaculate, giving it some attention may go a long way.


De-clutter and de-personalize the interior
You don’t necessarily need to get all of your things out of the home before you sell it, but make it a point to get rid of the unnecessary pieces of furniture. Things like end tables, bookshelves, night stands, dressers, etc. All of these can go. Additionally, remove personal items like photographs, paintings or whatever else you have decorating the home. You want to give prospective buyers the opportunity to envision their own items in the home, not yours.
No matter what you do, there’s no guarantee that a home will sell fast, but by following the examples above, you won’t be hurting your chances any. Also, make sure you’re familiar with the local market and speak with a real estate agent if you have any questions.

Staging a home on a shoestring budget

Bridget Alves - Monday, November 23, 2015

So, you’re ready to sell your home. You’ve read all the home selling tips you can find, you’ve gotten yourself a rock star real estate agent to help you out, and you’ve got several thousand dollars available to put toward staging your home and potentially netting a quick sale. 

What’s that? 

You don’t have thousands of dollars in liquid assets to spend on staging your home? Well, you’re in luck, because it isn’t necessary.

The first thing you’re going to look at is your home’s curb appeal. A new, professionally landscaped lawn is great, but you can do it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Start by mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes and removing any debris from the yard like branches or dead leaves. If you have the space, planting some flowers yourself can greatly increase your home’s curb appeal while not costing you very much at all. Remember to get something colorful but hardy. The plants won’t have to last long, but you don’t want something that requires a ton of extra care, either.

As far as the interior of your home goes, remove the clutter and unnecessary pieces of furniture. Doing this will not only get you a jump on your packing once your home sells, but it will create the perception of a larger space inside the home. People don’t want to buy a home in which they feel cramped, and removing unnecessary bits of furniture like bookshelves, end tables, dressers, etc. will go a long way to making the place seem more spacious.

Finally, clean it, and clean it well. You want to remove every speck of dust and dirt, every fingerprint on the wall, errant hairs and window smudges. An impeccably clean home looks newer and less lived in, even if it’s 50 years old. 

With some hard work and know-how, you can get your home staged for viewings for a few hundred bucks. However, if the home needs some serious work done (such as replacements or repairs), and you’re not qualified to do it yourself, you may need to bite the bullet and shell out the dough for a professional.

Open Houses: Artifact of the past or effective home-selling technique?

Bridget Alves - Monday, November 16, 2015

In the decades before the internet existed, open houses were the go-to strategy for home-sellers looking to show a property to prospective buyers. They figured that the best way to “get them through the door” was to, quite literally, get them through the door and proceed to show off the home’s features and amenities. This day and age, though, the view of many a home-seller is that an open house is a waste of time. While it can attract prospective buyers, it also attracts nosey neighbors, the tire-kicking type, and people with nothing else to do. Many real estate agents of today figure that the best way to market a home is to show off the pictures online and let interested parties make appointments to view the home.

The internet is an incredibly useful tool when looking for a home and most websites can provide you immediately with a wealth of information on it. You can find out the floor plan, square footage, view photographs and get data on the neighborhood’s demographics easily and quickly. What digital data cannot do (yet) is provide you with information on how the home feels. What’s it like to stand inside that kitchen or living room? Does the light shine in throughout the day, or are the windows situated so that after 10:00 a.m., the whole place is left shrouded in shadow? 

Open houses can also be a lot more convenient than “by appointment only” for sellers who are still living in the home. Rather than having to constantly go from “lived in” to “ready for viewing” 5 or 6 times a week, specific dates and times are set for buyers to come in and view the home as the seller wants it to be seen.

Holding an open house is not only beneficial to buyers, but it can provide valuable information to sellers as well. When you hold a well-advertised open house, you can see first-hand by how many people come through the door what the market’s response is to your home. If your open house sees a healthy flow of people throughout the day, you’re likely doing something right in terms of marketing your home. However, if the turnout is decidedly stale, or most of those who show up make a bee-line for the free refreshments, then you may need to take a look at what you’ve done up to this point and how to make your home more marketable. 

No matter what, you must market your home online. But, don’t overlook the option to also hold open houses. They were effective home selling tools in the past, and they can still be today.

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. 

Helpful tips & hints



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