Coach Mitch’s REFLECTIONS™
Plan for tomorrow
I’m prepping my house now for sale next spring. Nothing just happens. Everything takes planning.
It is well known that first impressions have a significant impact on any sale. Think about it; when you first met your partner, you will recall your immediate attraction. It is powerful. That is the impact of first impression. In fact, I can think of few emotions more powerful; perhaps genuine fear, overwhelming greed, significant surprise.
You will overlook a great many negatives based upon your initial attraction. It is the classic emotional sale. We react emotionally first and then fill in the facts to justify our emotional need.
When you first arrive at a property, your initial assessment is made and, odds are, your subsequent assessment will justify your initial assessment. If you liked the outside, then you will find reasons to like the inside, downplaying the flaws. If you were disappointed by the outside, then somehow, the flaws on the inside will justify your initial disappointment.
Test yourself. Recall that visceral gut reaction you had the next time you see something significant to you.
I’m not speaking about something small, but rather, check your EQ, Emotional Quotient, when you really like something and see if/how you justify your initial assessment.
“WoW! I really like that color. It’s exactly the color I’ve been hoping to find for for so long. Hoora! Hmmmm, the size is not exactly right – but the color is great. Hmmmm, the look is a bit dated – but this color is fantastic…” Almost no matter the flaw, if you like the item, you will find ways to accept the flaws, just like we do with our partners and just like what our partners accept about us.
Curb Appeal – the goal
After the purchase, the most important part of real estate investing is – the sale. The most important part of property presentation is the outside curb appeal. It is crucial that the first impression is good, and the better the impression, the greater the excitement. At the least, you want the potential buyer to be impressed so that they will be expectant, desiring to look inside.
There are many things that you can do to increase curb appeal and fortunately they are mostly cost effective. In fact, of all the property improvements, only enhancing curb appeal will get your investment back upon sale. Greenery, cleanup and painting will often return much more than your investment.
Your two big returns are: raising interest in your property and getting closer to the maximum sales price. There is always a lot of inventory on the market. Why should someone consider my house? I want to do the most I can to attract and keep attention to my property, and do it cost effectively. When selling, my goal is to reduce the days on market and to sustain the selling price. Enhancing curb appeal is the best way to accomplish this goal.
In this buyers market, buyers want everything to be perfect and if it is not, then they drastically reduce their offer. Therefore, it is in your dramatic monetary benefit to give what people want. Home buyers want a McMansion “look.” If they can get it for a McDonald’s price, then that is a home run but they will not budge on the look. Retrofitting to their “own” look is not as attractive to them as already having it done. People want property that is “move in ready.”
Curb Appeal – what to do
Just Google: curb appeal and see the numerous ideas. I will be doing many but I’m starting with redoing my entrance, which is in need of substantial repair and then the greenery.
A good entrance way is like a woman’s hair – it is her crowning glory.
A broken underground waste pipe washed away the dirt from under my entrance landing so that the concrete slab is tilted about 5″ from level. I’m getting estimates for putting in a new entrance landing with an enlarged walkway, big enough so that I can open my car door to the new, cleared walkway and not step
into snow. That fact will be a big selling feature to a husband who wants to reduce his stress about his wife/kids/mother falling on a slippery surface that he did not clean properly.
You can search for designs: “Front entrance of side hall colonial landscape designs.”
The plantings in a development home are crucial to a first impression, just like they would be for a city dwelling. Think about the favorable impressions you had any time you saw that a homeowner had made the front of the home attractive. Remember, we’re remembering a gut reaction. Don’t intellectualize emotion, feel it and understand it to use it.
You immediately thought the property had more value, but you also had more respect for the owner, you thought the person more intelligent, more proper, more concerned with the properties upkeep, more impressive as an individual. And those thoughts lead directly to a feeling that the person is more believable, more honest, more likely to be friendly, etc. All these impressions swirl about your brain in nanoseconds. Who would have thunk it, that nice greenery would have such important benefits? Such is the power of emotion and first impression.
Curb Appeal – greenery
A good place to start is by making a plan for the greenery. Be sure to pick plants that fit your Climate Zone. Google: “Landscape designs for front of house.”for ideas.
Plan the bushes/trees/flowers carefully. Don’t overcrowd. The nicest displays have color and are layered, tall in back, shorter in front. You can make attractive but inexpensive borders with field stones or with bricks/pavers.
Towns that pick up leaves/brush often have a compost pile that turns into mulch, which the town makes available inexpensively. I just got $200+ of mulch for $4.
I’m going back for another 6 cubic yards so I can level out the plant bed in the front of my house. I’m going to raise the plant beds by 8″ to a bit above ground level. The mulch goes up to the house foundation. Since I’m filling in above the concrete foundation and covering a row of siding, I’m going to protect the house from moisture by putting a plastic shield between the mulch and the siding. Don’t forget that you should spray the mulch to prevent bugs and spray RoundUp to prevent weed plants.
To transport the mulch, get no more than four free containers from each of several US Post Offices. Say that you are preparing a bulk mailing and ask for their stackable white plastic corrugated service treys with handles. See picture: USPS service trey. In addition, I bring 5 gallon buckets or 32 gallon garbage containers. At the town compost pile, lay out all the buckets in a rectangle. The towns bucket loader will scoop up a load and fill all your containers. Lay down a tarp to catch the stray mulch. Then you have to be able to load the containers into your truck/suv. Take a helper along.
Adding outdoor ground lighting can be inexpensive. Google: install landscape lighting for plenty of instruction. From an outdoor outlet, use outdoor electrical wire and run it inside a plastic tube made for outdoor electrical wiring. Bury the tube in the mulch. You can bend the tube by heating the plastic with a blow torch and holding it in place. Put 4 to 6 bulb sockets in the line. They can even be double bulb sockets. At night the house will look great with colored or clear bulbs. Besides beauty, the benefits are increased security and the pizza delivery will get it right the first time. The bulb nearest the driveway can have a motion detector. At night you can get the McMansion “look” for under $100.
It is wise to be concerned about utility costs, I am, so I figured it out. As compared to a normal 100 watt incandescent bulb, the new CFL bulb uses only 27 watts. Using a timer, keeping the bulbs on for an average of four hours per night, e.g. 7 to 11 PM, at 13¢ per kilowatt hour, your electrical cost would be $5 per year per bulb. That is certainly a cost effective upgrade.
In response to a rash of hooliganism, at a neighborhood meeting many years ago, I suggested that all the folks keep their porch light on during the dark hours to illuminate the streets in the development. We start getting dark at 4pm in winter and 9pm in summer. If lights were on from dusk to dawn, averaging 10 hours year round for complete coverage, your cost of electricity would be $13 per year per bulb. That is a very low cost upgrade to have very good security throughout the dark hours.
Interior cost effective upgrades
I have Signature Items that I try to upgrade when doing a rehab. See this post: Signature Items.
Do Things Right
In my course, I explore other ways I’ve discovered to get a big bang out of a relatively small cost. There are lots of great ideas out there on how you can be a more effective real estate investor. The most important idea is: action. Do something for yourself and your family.
See Coach Mitch’s “Ridiculously Simple System…” ™ for details.
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