Category Archives: Property Preparation
I’ve toured and sold miles, and miles, and miles of homes. Most contracts start with a home inspection, and on almost every home inspection, the HVAC System needs to be serviced. And if you don’t know by now, the HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), is one of the MOST EXPENSIVE items to replace in a home.
So… before the A/C or heating system freezes up and/or gives up – change your air filters every 30-days! It’s one of the most important (and least expensive) preventive maintenance tips you can follow. When you change your air filter, go ahead and pour about a cup of vinegar into the drain line of your interior A/C system. It’ll help clear up some of the goo and gunk that builds up in your drain line. Vinegar is said to be better than bleach since it’ll end up in your yard. Vinegar is less harmful to the kids and pets playing around in your yard.
DO-IT-YOURSELF HVAC PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE:
(as recommended by many HVAC Service Technicians)
If the vinegar does not come out or if it’s a very slow drip, you may need servicing.
If you have a Home Protection Plan, but NEVER try these preventive maintenance tips, it’s very likely that your plan will not cover repairs and/or maintenance if your system breaks down. IT’S BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. There’s nothing worse than 105 degree TEXAS weather without an A/C!
If you need a local HVAC Technician who’s licensed, bonded and affordable, I recommend Frank Garcia, owner/operator of “Air Strike: Air Conditioning and Heating.” He’s quick to respond and services the Greater San Antonio area.
Air Strike AC & Heating
Phone: (210) 639-9054
Brought to you by- Val J Aranda, metro realty – “Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”
San Antonio, TX
I spend my days talking about houses and explaining about maintenance. I teach homeowners how to take care of their home, but I don’t always practice what I preach. I’m like my mechanic who fixes everyone’s car but his own.
“Do what I say, not what I do!” 🙂
During “Spring Break 2013,” I’m staying busy with house showings and listing appointments. BUT, I did take a few hours off to take care of some plumbing issues I’ve ignored. I thought I’d share my recent hot water heater experience with you. Hopefully, it’ll help prevent you from making the same mistakes I made.
MY WATER HEATER STORY – The hot water wasn’t traveling to the back of the house (don’t laugh at me when you find out why): I bought my house in 2004. It was built in 1994. My water heater was the original. Over the years, I noticed the hot water wasn’t traveling all the way to my kitchen or utility room (the furthest rooms from my water heater). I adjusted the temperature on the Water Heater, and raised it to about 120 degrees. It really didn’t make a big difference. My thought: “Maybe there’s something blocking the hot water from traveling the pipes.” *think*think*think* (I never called a plumber).
SPLISH-SPLASH! My water heater leaked. I caught it pretty quickly and had it replaced. The water to the kitchen and utility room was about the same temperature with the NEW water heater, so I continued to assume the lack of hot water was due to a water-line problem (not the temperature setting).
I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Washing dishes and doing laundry in luke-warm water was just not cutting it anymore. I resorted to washing dishes with bleach water just to make sure I was “disinfecting.” As for my laundry, thank goodness for, “Cold Water Tide.” But that still doesn’t beat bubbling hot water for my loads of whites.
I called him up and he came to the rescue. Now, I have to interject here with a side note: I like taking care of things on my own. Especially when it’s something small. I’m like most people; I’d rather NOT spend BIG BUCKS on labor when I know it’s a $5 fix! Okay, back to my story: I was expecting the Plumber to dig holes and jack-hammer his way to the “problem.” Why wasn’t the hot water traveling to the kitchen or utility room?
The first thing the plumber asked was, “how old is your water heater?” I proudly responded with, “no more than two years.” “Uh-huh,” I thought. “Puzzling isn’t it?” He went to the kitchen and ran the water at the sink. He stated that the water pressure was pretty strong. He said, “let me check the temperature setting on your water heater.” I told him, “go right ahead.” In my mind I was thinking, “that’s not the problem. The temperature setting on the OLD water heater was up to 120 degrees and that didn’t make a difference. There’s NO WAY the temperature setting on the NEW water heater is going to help solve the mystery!”
While he went to his truck to grab his tools, I went into my kitchen to work on breakfast. I was planning on this guy being at my house for most of the morning. He was going to have to investigate and settle the case once and for all.
After about five minutes in front of the water heater, the Plumber called for me. “I want to show you something.” Okay, here goes. I braced myself for the news that would break the bank.
Plumber: See the temperature setting? It’s below 120 degrees. I’m going to raise it to 150 degrees.
Me: What? No way. No. Seriously? There’s no way that could be it!
Plumber: Yes, ma’am. I think it is. (He turns up the heat, and we could hear the water heater kick into gear).
Me: Are you kidding me? (I hit him in the arm) That’s what it was THIS WHOLE TIME? (couldn’t believe I hit him)
Plumber: (Laughs) I believe so. Let’s go check the water in the kitchen. (Turns the water on. Freakin’ water is hot and getting hotter).
I was so embarrassed. I even had a couple of friends over because I just knew I was going to be stuck at home ALL DAY LONG! Well, I’ll be doggone. All the plumber had to do was turn a small screw/knob on the water heater to adjust the temperature.
[Here’s a helpful YouTube video showing how to do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMETZ9y6wuI]
I asked the Plumber: “If it was as simple as setting the temperature, why didn’t it work with the old water heater?”
Here’s the million dollar answer: The main heating element is at the BOTTOM of an electric water heater. On the old water heater, there was probably a layer of sediment (calcium build-up and other debris) at the bottom of the heater. The layer was probably so thick, that the heating element couldn’t heat the water properly.
*Palm to the forehead* DUH! That makes perfect sense, now.
How much did he charge me? $0.00! I’m pretty sure he saw the look on my face and felt sorry for me!
SO… IF YOU’RE HAVING HOT WATER ISSUES, check the temperature setting on your Hot Water Heater! I’ve heard some plumbers say to keep the water around 120-125 degrees. My plumber raised it to 150 degrees. I might reduce it eventually, but for now, I’m enjoying washing my dishes! Never thought I’d say that! 🙂
A FACEBOOK FRIEND BRINGS UP A GREAT “LISTING” QUESTION. When preparing a house for sale: “Extreme Makeover. Is that the direction of today’s real estate market?”
I enjoy interacting with customers, clients and friends on my Facebook page (Val-A-Homes.com on Facebook). This week, I had a potential seller post a web page showing some before and after photos of a house. She was curious about the “after” shots. She felt the makeover was pretty extreme (if this were a house being prepared for a listing) and wondered if that was the direction of today’s market.
SPECIAL NOTE TO THE OWNER OF THE HOME PROVIDED IN THE “WEB PAGE” LINK REFERENCED ABOVE: Your house is absolutely gorgeous! The before and after shots are fantastic. Your decor and creativity are top-notch! The notes below are simply using your photos as examples of what to consider when listing a home. (Not necessarily your home). Thank you! ~Agent Val, metro realty
One thing I pointed out was the “BEFORE” photos were of the house when it was listed for sale. The “AFTER” photos were of the house after the family moved in. BIG difference.
HOW SHOULD A LISTING BE DISPLAYED?
For the best results, appeal to the majority. The more people a house can attract, the higher the percentage of interested buyers. With taste-specific decorating, we minimize our “audience,” and can lose potential buyers.
HOW DOES TODAY’S MARKET AFFECT THE LISTING PREPARATION?
In today’s market, Sellers are fighting to get back what they’ve lost. So, to get top dollar, a house MUST stand out from the rest. It’s more than paint color. It’s about staging, rearranging, reorganizing, and repairing. To list a house, a seller needs to start thinking of the house as if it were a “product” on a store shelf.
[EXAMPLE “A”] A beat-up box of cereal will stay in the back of the shelf. When a potential buyer picks it up, even though the contents are not destroyed, the buyer will probably ask for a discount.
If buyers see a property in need of repair (even if it’s only cosmetic), they’re going to look for a discount. Oftentimes, the discount is LARGER than the cost of the actual repair.
[EXAMPLE “B”] A box of cereal that’s over-priced just because it’s “organic,” might stay on the shelf a little longer, because it doesn’t appeal to the majority.
Over-priced listings will get little to no showing appointments. So, the small “audience” will result in a small percentage of potential buyers. Why would a seller over-price? Well, one obvious reason… MONEY. Another reason; sellers take great pride in the house they’ve lived in. There’s personal attachment and almost EVERY seller will think their property is an exception to the “fair market value.”
If a seller reaches too high on price, it’s very likely the house will sit on the market too long and become a, “stale,” listing. Stale listings are perceived as deficient. Even if there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with the house and the Seller is simply “testing the market,” Buyers will think one of two things: “What’s wrong with the house?” and/or “The seller must not be negotiable (or may be greedy).” Yes, there may be a buyer willing to pay the price, but how long can you wait?
[EXAMPLE “C”] A box of cereal that’s priced right in the middle, and hits all the right sugary spots, will get picked up every single time. It appeals to the majority, so it’ll always fly off the shelves.
Listings that fall within the “Fair Market Value,” will receive serious offers and often sells closer to a seller’s asking price. “Fair” is the key word. A house will sell at a price the BUYER thinks is FAIR. So, if a house is listed in the fair market range for the area, the house will get LOTS of attention.
THE GOOD NEWS: There’s a buyer for every box of cereal (and house).
The question is, how long do you want it sitting on the “shelf?”
Brought to you by: Agent Val
Val J Aranda, REALTOR® and Certified Home Marketing Specialist – “Coaching first-time Texas home buyers and sellers.” – metro realty
The other day, I received a call from Mr. Seller. Mr. Seller was referred to me by an acquaintance. Mr. Seller started the “phone interview” by saying he was looking to sell his house and he had ONE very important question for me. Assuming his question was going to be about commission, I sat straight up preparing for my reply.
The question was, “are you a full-time Realtor?” Shoot. I was able to answer that one with CONFIDENCE, and I did. “Yes, sir. I’m a full-time Realtor working seven days a week, and often after 5:00.” We spoke for a few more minutes, and of course, before we hung up the phone, he eventually asked about my Broker fee.
Every time I meet with or speak to a new customer, it’s a job interview for me. While most folks can go to one job interview, get hired and then end up with a 10-year anniversary watch, I’m job hunting every day… and have been for almost 15 years. It’s always a new challenge, and I take it very seriously.
This recent “phone interview,” was just the first step to a potential new listing. The unique thing about my business is, I’m interviewing them, too.
LET’S TALK FACE-TO-FACE
I went on my face-to-face interview and met with Mr. and Mrs. Seller. They asked me several questions about staging and showcasing, and I obliged offering a few helpful tips. They asked about my advertising and my marketing, and I was prepared with a list of web sites and a marketing plan I commit to with every listing.
I asked them how much they were thinking about selling their property for and, like many first-time sellers, they responded with an over-inflated price. I was upfront and honest letting them know they were reaching a little high, but with a few changes and upgrades, they could get very close to what they wanted.
And then it happened… While I was on cruise control during most of the face-to-face interview, a road block appeared out of nowhere. I had to tap on my mental “brakes” and pull over.
Mr. Seller asked me about my Broker fee (which is expected). No problem. But, before the subject came up, he was already refusing to pay a buyer’s closing costs. ROAD BLOCK! He was debating an issue that wasn’t on the table, yet. I understand where he was going with it and why he was disclosing this so early, but this road block is a potential hazard.
Regarding the Broker fee, he seemed okay since it wasn’t far from other Broker’s quotes. But I was a little surprised with the closing cost issue (knowing today’s market). Here is where a listing agent can either educate the seller about real estate reality or simply choose not to take the job. I chose to stick it out and help Mr. Seller understand today’s market.
MR. SELLER’S REBUTTAL
Turns out, Mr. Seller just bought a newer house. He offered around $20,000 less and got the house. The stipulation was, he had to pay his own closing costs. Now, because he had to pay his own closing costs, he wants the buyer who buys his listing to do the same.
I quickly explained to Mr. Seller that if he leaves this road block up, he might force buyers in a different direction. It’s VERY possible that the buyer who buys this 42 year old home will be a first-time home buyer, and most first-timers will not have $10,000 saved. If they did, they’d probably buy a newer, more upgraded home… (like he did)
THE END OF THE INTERVIEW
Mr. Seller said he and his wife had to talk things over and make a decision. He said he’d call me in a couple of hours. I asked if there was anything more I can help clarify or any questions I can answer before I left. He had a couple of other question about closing fees, so I gladly answered and went on my way.
About three hours later, I called Mr. Seller since he hadn’t followed up with me, yet. I was hoping that my eagerness was a positive sign about my work ethic. Well, Mr. Seller wasn’t ready to give me an answer. He was still contemplating about paying a Buyer’s closing costs. I tried offering some relief by suggesting we wait for an offer first. What if a buyer doesn’t ask for closing costs? He would have wasted time worrying about it. But, if a buyer does ask for closing costs, I needed him to be prepared for it.
Mr. Seller told me he would call me the next day and we hung up the phone. And like any job interview, I was feeling a little anxious. If Mr. and Mrs. Seller can see the big picture and if they agree with my listing advice, I can sell this house… NO DOUBT. But, if they place roadblocks on the road to home-ownership (so early in the game) and refuse to have an open mind about buyers in today’s market, I’m not sure we’re going to be a good match.
I wrote a quick letter thanking the Sellers for meeting with me and that I looked forward to working with them. While they were out to dinner, I drove by their house and delivered the letter to their doorstep. And then I waited…
“SORRY, WE’RE GOING TO PASS.”
I got the call today. Mr. and Mrs. Seller decided not to hire me. Mr. Seller thanked me for opening his eyes to things he hadn’t thought about, and that was the end of that.
Sure, there’s a little disappointment because I work so hard for every job I “interview” for, but I also realize it’s not realistic to be the perfect match for every listing, every seller or every buyer. In the end, I can hold my head up knowing I offered the best service I can offer.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When I take on a listing, I represent the seller’s best interest and help him/her earn top dollar. If a seller doesn’t want to pay closing costs for a buyer, he/she does not have to. If a seller doesn’t want to make changes to a house to help sell faster, he/she doesn’t have to.
However, if the house were not to sell or if the listing stayed on the market for months, who would be to blame? Regardless of the reasons and the choices a seller makes, the fault will fall on the Listing Agent. And if a listing agent cannot stand firm on listing expectations from the get-go, how will a seller believe we can stand firm when it’s time to negotiate a contract?
I may not have gotten the job this time, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have an affect on me. But the bright side is, there’s more real estate to sell. Last Friday, I met a different seller for the first time. She was referred to me by a past client. Ms. Seller, opened the door, greeted me with a hug, offered cookies and was ready to sign wherever I asked her to. Yeah, I’d have to say that’s a perfect match! 🙂
The road to her listing has NO ROAD BLOCKS WHATSOEVER!
A young, six year old home in Hummingbird Estates (San Antonio, TX near Highway 90 and 1604). A three bedroom, two bath home with two living and two dining areas. It may not seem like it from the curb, but this home has almost 2000 square feet! This home, built by Classic Century Homes, is still under the builder’s 10-year warranty.
If you’d like more information or a tour of this gorgeous home, fill out the quick form below. I’ll be in touch with you and schedule your showing immediately!
“I’m a San Antonio REALTOR® coaching first-time Texas home buyers and sellers. If I’m not house-hunting or consulting, I’m looking for house-to-home ideas.” ~Agent Val, Your Trusted Real Estate Adviser
METRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®
4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #473
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987