Jail Project - Episode 6

Posted on October 12, 2018

Jail Project – Episode #6   Episode Notes: In this episode Michelle provides a bit of a tour of the basement of the Jail House building while a sewer scope is being done by Arnold and Sons Plumbing. Read More >>

Idelwild Park & SoakZone September 2018

Posted on September 03, 2018

If you have young kids, you have to check out Idelwild Park and SoakZone. This is definitely for kids under the age of 13 (older could be bored). Explore Storybook Forest where the books of your childhood come alive, enter SoakZone for a fun wave pool and a terrific kids water park, and then top off the day with a bunch of rides appropriate for you little ones. The atmosphere is family friendly, the walkways are wide for multiple strollers, and there are plenty of areas to sit in the shade. Enjoy! Read More >>

Episode 4

Posted on August 26, 2018

Episode 4: In this episode Michelle shows you all of the new framing work done at The Jail Project including all of the outer walls and the master bath area. Over 2,100 square foot of space! Read More >>

Post 2: The Jail Project - First Repairs and Next Steps

Posted on August 18, 2018

Episode Notes: Michelle shares the state of disrepair that jail was in when they purchased it and how they had to first secure the roof from water flowing in and then take out walls and make the floor safe. Next step will be to get an official Engineering Stamp and get approval from Veritas to start a full build out. More to come – follow along as we breath life into this old building! Read More >>

Post 1: The Jail Project - Introduction to our newest rehab project

Posted on August 18, 2018

Episode 1 Notes: Michelle explains her newest rehab project in Freeport, PA that is taking the original Freeport: Fire Station, Police Station, City Office, and Community Center and modernizing it for today! In 1905 the building began construction that wasn’t completed until 1915.  In 1915 there was a large building dedication with a parade that turned into an entire community event. More to come – follow along as we breath life into this old building! Read More >>

Why is pricing so important?

Posted on August 18, 2018

Buyers may resist inspecting your home because they can find better values elsewhere. Just think – overpriced houses tend to sell the competition first. Potential buyers who can’t afford the price don’t bother to look–or to make offers. Accurately pricing your home is one of the most important tasks once you’ve decided to sell. When you price too high, your home sits. When you price too low, you may be leaving money on the table. You need to find that “sweet spot”. We can help you determine what the market is saying your home is worth and how to find the sweet spot. Who determines market value? The short answer is: The Real Estate Market Appraisers and real estate agents rely on the prices that similar properties in the same area sold for to determine the fair market value of another property. These statistics show what ready, willing and able buyers are willing to pay for homes and what sellers are typically willing to accept for their home. This is the market dictating the value of your home. Remember that real estate is hyper-local. You can’t compare even the exact same home if it’s in a different town, school district, etc. Pricing too high Lots of sellers believe they need to price on the high side to allow for negotiations but this is not true. Today’s buyers and agents are market savvy with the Internet being full of public information and the tools and resources available to agents. Statistics show that when pricing your home too high, it can sit on the market. There are few showings and feedback very often refers to price. Properties like these become stale. When the “days on market” continue to climb with no offers, agents tend not to show the home. Worse yet, buyers think there is something major wrong with the home so they avoid it. Pricing high to leave room for negotiation is simply not a good strategy if you want your home to sell quickly and for the most money. The ‘sweet spot’ in pricing When your agent gathers the data of comparable home sales, you will likely see a range that the market is saying homes like yours have sold for. Pricing within that range means that you have the best opportunity to sell your home quickly and for more money! Why? Because of the perceived value! When a buyer sees that the condition of your home is great and you’ve priced it in line with the market, they make offers. Pricing in the sweet spot typically results in multiple offers and above asking price offers! That’s what you want – people competing over who will buy your home! Remember, your home is full of personal memories which makes your perceived value of it high. However, a buyer sees brick, stone and vinyl – a commodity to be gotten at the best price. There is a middle ground – “the sweet spot”. When pricing well for the condition (updates, maintenance, repairs) and listening to what the market is saying, you create value that buyers can see. They respond by offering at or above listing price and sometimes you’ll get multiple offers which drives the price up! Read More >>

How to deal with low ball offers

Posted on August 18, 2018

by Michelle Goetzinger Consider before you ignore or outright refuse a very low purchase offer for your home.  A counteroffer and negotiation could turn that lo purchase offer into a sale. You just received a purchase offer from someone who wants to buy your home. You’re excited and relieved, until you realize the purchase offer is much lower than your asking price. How should you respond? Set aside your emotions, focus on the facts, and prepare a counteroffer that keeps the buyers involved in the deal. Check your emotions A purchase offer, even a very low one, means someone wants to purchase your home. Unless the offer is laughably low, it deserves a cordial response, whether that’s a counteroffer or an outright rejection. Remain calm and discuss with your real estate agent the many ways you can respond to a low ball purchase offer. Counter the purchase offer Unless you’ve received multiple purchase offers, the best response is to counter the low offer with a price and terms you’re willing to accept. Some buyers make a low offer because they think that’s customary, they’re afraid they’ll overpay, or they want to test your limits. A counteroffer signals that you’re willing to negotiate. One strategy for your counteroffer is to lower your price, but remove any concessions such as seller assistance with closing costs, or features such as kitchen appliances that you’d like to take with you. Consider the terms Price is paramount for most buyers and sellers, but it’s not the only deal point. A low purchase offer might make sense if the contingencies are reasonable, the closing date meets your needs, and the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage. Consider what terms you might change in a counteroffer to make the deal work. Review your comps  Ask your real estate agent whether any homes that are comparable to yours (known as “comps”) have been sold or put on the market since your home was listed for sale. If those new comps are at lower prices, you might have to lower your price to match them if you want to sell. Consider the buyer’s comps Buyers sometimes attach comps to a low offer to try to convince the seller to accept a lower purchase offer. Take a look at those comps. Are the homes similar to yours? If so, your asking price might be unrealistic. If not, you might want to include in your counteroffer information about those homes and your own comps that justify your asking price. If the buyers don’t include comps to justify their low purchase offer, have your real estate agent ask the buyers’ agent for those comps. Get the agents together If the purchase offer is too low to counter, but you don’t have a better option, ask your real estate agent to call the buyer’s agent and try to narrow the price gap so that a counteroffer would make sense. Also, ask your real estate agent whether the buyer (or buyer’s agent) has a reputation for low ball purchase offers. If that’s the case, you might feel freer to reject the offer. Don’t signal desperation Buyers are sensitive to signs that a seller may be receptive to a low purchase offer. If your home is vacant or your home’s listing describes you as a “motivated” seller, you’re signaling you’re open to a low offer. Read More >>

Etiquette for Open Houses

Posted on August 18, 2018

Can I Use the Bathroom? If you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go — but don’t just wander off and take care of business. The plumbing might not work in every house. Is It OK to Bring in My Coffee? We’re pretty sure ordering house hunters to forgo coffee qualifies as “cruel and unusual punishment” in some states. But if you’re carrying a drink, be careful — unless you’re prepared to go mano a mano with the floor. Food, on the other hand, is no bueno, unless the seller has left out cookies. By all means, take one, but eat it in the kitchen. Preferably over a napkin. Can I Peek in the Closet? Absolutely. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you’re ever going to make, and you need to check out everything. Basically, look all you want, but don’t rifle around. You’re shopping for closet space, not a new wardrobe. How About a Quick Selfie With This Awesome, Lemon-Colored Range? With smartphones being practically an appendage for many buyers, snapping pics to share with friends and family is so easy. But hold your trigger finger, especially if you’re planning to share the images online. Can I sit down? No – you should not sit in any furniture.  It isn’t your furniture and you’re not buying it.  Plus, that cozy looking couch or comfy bed might be staged — air beds or cardboard boxes wearing fancy clothes — so you might take a spill. If you need to sit, for health reasons or that sprained ankle from your last marathon, just ask. That’s not unreasonable. The bottom line is the old-fashioned Golden Rule: Do unto others’ homes as you’d have them do unto yours. Pretend the seller is there — and sometimes they are, even if you can’t see them. They might be waiting next door at a neighbor’s house or have a camera. So it’s also a good idea to keep comments to yourself. You wouldn’t want them to overhear how much you love the master suite — that could mess up your negotiating power if you decide to buy. Read More >>

Selling? Why Your Home’s Carrying Costs is Higher than You Think

Posted on August 18, 2018

One of the harder concepts for home owners to understand is the carrying costs of a home – especially after they  have moved out and listed the home for sale.  This is an important calculation because it helps you understand what the home is costing you per month and while it is pretty straightforward to understand the ‘hard costs’ (such as a mortgage, insurance, etc) there are also ‘soft costs’ (such as your time) that need to be calculated. To get an understanding, let’s dive into an example.  (NOTE: This example is for illustrative purposes only.  You should consult your mortgage agent, accountant, and lawyer before making personal financial decisions.) EXAMPLE: Let’s say that 10 years ago you purchased your home for $450,000, put 20% down and have a 4.5% interest rate.  Additionally, you pay $1,800 per year for homeowners insurance and another $4,500 per year for real estate taxes. Let’s see how this breaks down: $2,349 – monthly mortgage, interest, tax, and insurance payment $80 – water bill $80 – sewer bill $40 – trash bill $150 – electrical $70 – gas = $2,769 in total monthly bills. To ensure we are calculating this fairly, you can credit yourself about $745 because you are paying down your mortgage every month.  So with the credit for paying down your principal mortgage amount, you have a monthly bill of $2,024. Now think about having your home sit on the market because you have it priced wrong (see my article: What’s in a price?).  3 months * $2,024 = $6,072 of ‘Hard Cash’ bills that you are going to have to pay and that doesn’t even include the ‘Soft costs’ that you should factor in. What is a ‘Soft Cost’?  These are items that you may not be able to assign a specific financial amount too, but are costs nonetheless.  Some examples could be: Possible burglary of your property Higher insurance payment if your home is vacant Car gas and maintenance for trips to/from the house to check on it Additional cleaning expenses Your time The stress of maintaining a loan on a home you no longer want Lawn care Depending on how you value your time and peace of mind, these costs can easily add up to be another $3,500 over the course of three months!  And, while it is true that only you can determine the value of these Soft Costs – you should add some amount of Soft Costs to your monthly calculation. With Soft Costs added, your monthly expense is now between  $2,024/mo to $3,190/mo.  And holding your home for three months puts your total holding costs between $6,072 – $9,572!  That’s a lot of money to sink into a home you do not want anymore and it is the reason a good Realtor will work with you to price the home quickly for a quick sale.  No one is making money (other than the bank and insurance companies) when you hold your home when you are not living in it. About the author Michelle Göetzinger is a full time, top Realtor in the Pittsburgh metro market.  She’s the wife of a technology executive, the mother of two young adults, and an animal lover.  Michelle loves to downhill ski, kayak, ride horses, travel the world, and create art.  For the past 15 years she built her expertise by personally flipping homes and creating a rental portfolio that lead her to developing the Stage It. Shoot It. Sell It. methodology that she is now sharing with you.  You can reach Michelle at via text at (724) 504-0070 or www.MichelleGoetzinger.com Read More >>

81 Staging Tips to Make Buyers Fall In Love

Posted on August 17, 2018

Living Room When placing anything from accent pillows and table lamps, go for symmetry, which is pleasing to the eye. Light it up with lamps. Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor. Make that fireplace glow. Scrub away soot stains and replace the old screen. If you’re using staging furniture or buying slip covers, choose light colors for an airy, inviting feel. Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to make the room feel spacious. Use bright, coordinated accessories like accent pillows and throw blankets for a chic splash of color. Help buyers imagine their life in your home. Set the scene by displaying a board game or tea service on the coffee table, and arrange furniture in conversational groups. Let a slideshow of beautiful images play on your television like a screensaver. Kitchen Clear everything from counter tops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit. Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware. Pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum. Freshen up and modernize those cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware. Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Give it the old college try or consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly recommends stainless steel. Remove those fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning. Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes. Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink. Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store items in decorative baskets and display a few jars of fancy jam and other upscale condiments. Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight. Bedroom Go gender neutral in the master bedroom. Ditch those dainty, floral pillow shams or NASCAR posters. Pack up all but the clothes you’re wearing this season to make you closets look larger. Swap out the motley crew of mismatched hangers in your closet for a set of wooden ones to create a classy, boutique look. Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe spot. Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another interesting function. Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a serene setting. Dinning Room  Let buyers entertain the idea of entertaining. Set out some chic place settings around the table, or a few wine glasses and a decanter on the buffet. Strike a balance between overly formal and too casual with an attractive runner and a few fun, decorative elements — think small floral vases or short candle holders. Bathroom It’s de-grime time: Scrub and sanitize the walls, floor, shower door — virtually every surface that comes in contact with steam. Spend extra time scrubbing that tile grout and re-caulk around the tub if necessary. If your bathroom tile is dated, try paint instead of replacing it. Start with a high-adhesion primer and either epoxy or latex paint. Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet. Clean surfaces until they gleam. Pack up and hide all your personal products — from medicine to razors. Create a luxury spa look with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat. Fix leaky or running toilets and replace toilet seats. Remove hard water stains on faucets and shower heads. (Try vinegar!) Take a daring sniff of the drains. Odorous? Clean them out, and deodorize with baking soda, boiling water, or vinegar. Time for a new sink anyway? Try a pedestal sink to optimize precious bathroom space. Windows, Walls, and More Have a dark corner or hallway? Brighten it up with a decorative mirror. Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white or beige. Paint adjacent rooms the same color to make the whole space feel larger. Fill nicks and holes in walls, and touch up with paint. Sorry, wood paneling. It’s time. Paint over paneling with a neutral color. To really cover your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing. Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new. Wash the windows, inside and out. Repair any holes or tears in screens. Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls. Throughout the House Declutter! Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them (neatly!) in the garage or — better yet — a rented storage unit. Don’t forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork should all go. Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space. Transform underused areas of the house — the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway — into functional spots. Add a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook. Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs. Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty — or dingy — hardware. Damaged or aging hardwood floors? Replace damaged boards with new wood, sand down the entire floor, and re-stain. Do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom — including carpets — before viewings. Outside Hang attractive house numbers that are legible from the road. Brighten up your porch with fresh paint or stain. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so long as it complements the trim and doesn’t blend, says The Real Estate Staging Association. Steer clear of unconventional colors like purple. Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers. Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch until everything sparkles. Make sure the locks and doorbell function. Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one. Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds. Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door. Whip that yard into shape with fresh sod or new seed Store yard equipment and children’s toys out of sight. Repair shaky banisters. Get a hammock (or bocce ball game or raised fire pit) to show off how fun your yard can be. Dress up any imperfect planting area with mulch. Make sure entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects. Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses. Don’t forget your outdoor living space. Stage your patio like a second living room, with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor. For Pet Owners Scrub those pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors. Pet odors soak into your best friend’s favorite things. Completely remove pet beds (or Fido’s most-loved couch), blankets, toys, play structures, food bowls, and the like. Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply mask them. There’s nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine with kitty litter undertones. Repair or remove any furniture that’s been scratched or gnawed on. Clean all pet “presents” from the yard. Keep cat boxes immaculate and hidden away, or — better yet — see how your feline-loving friends feel about a temporary houseguest and remove litter boxes altogether. Remove any dog or cat doors. Pets? What pets? When you leave the house for a viewing, take all the furry (or feathery or scaly) residents along with you. Make a pet hair sweep the last thing you do before you leave the house. Day of Showing Add a seasonal touch. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the fall and set out fresh cut lilacs in the spring. Tidy like you’ve never tidied before. Avoid cooking any food for your own meals, but do bake some cookies or other baked goods to leave a welcoming aroma behind. Take off. After all that staging work, you deserve a trip to the spa while potential home buyers are busy falling in love with your house. Read More >>

    Michelle Goetzinger

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