Connect with us

Real Estate

How to photograph your property for max impact and quick sale

Published

on

A majority of homebuyers today research online prior to checking out a house in person, and surprisingly few listings include anything other than mediocre photos. So good photography immediately sets you apart from other sellers.

If possible, it’s a good idea to hire a professional real estate photographer. Real estate photography is a specialty unto itself, and these pros know what to highlight and what angles to use to showcase property.

But if you choose to take your own photos, there are steps you can take to make them stand out from the competition:

– Good lighting. Natural light is best, as it is softest and provides the most accurate representation of colors. So try to shoot your interior photos when it’s sunny outside.

– Beware of backlighting. Windows with bright light are great for overall lighting, but be careful when pointing your camera straight at them. You’ll wind up with a bleached-out window and a dark interior. You can solve this by using a flash to fill in the room. Another option is to have the camera lock in its exposure on an interior (read: darker) section, then re-adjust the composition of the photo to include everything you want. This ensures that you haven’t allowed the brightness of the window to throw off the rest of the picture.

– Shoot from the corner. Shooting from the doorway or a corner typically gives you the best perspective and allows you to capture the entire room.

– Don’t use that fisheye lens. It’s enticing to use a fisheye lens in a small space, but resist the urge. The photos curve on either end and scream “small space” to buyers, not to mention they can be deceiving. A nice wide-angle on an actual camera — not a smartphone — is a great alternative.

– Clear the clutter. Get the countertops and other spaces as clutter-free as possible so you are showing the room itself and not the stuff in it.

Share the News:

Real Estate

Part 2 of 7: Top 5 real estate tips for sellers actively on the market during the COVID-19 crisis

Published

on

This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.


Top 5 real estate tips for sellers actively on the market during the COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Stay in close contact with your listing agent to keep abreast of how the industry is impacted by regulations surrounding the virus. Understand that showings have decreased across the board and discuss the pros and cons of staying on the market (continuing to allow showings), changing your status to temporarily off the market, or withdrawing your listing (without penalty due to the crisis) if your situation has changed.
  2. Use some of your free time to review your Realtor’s online marketing and advertising brochures to make sure both properly convey every feature your home offers. Promotion of your house should tell the full story about your home and all it has to offer both inside and out. If your agent is missing key points that buyers need to know about, provide a list of features you want to have showcased and make sure they don’t miss promoting features, upgrades, updates and unique benefits buyers should know about.
  3. Create what I call the “Seller’s top 10 Reasons they Love their Home” list. Invite your children (if appropriate) to make their own list and/or create artwork to go with it. It doesn’t have to be ten reasons, but make it full of positive features that enable the buyer to picture themselves making memories of their own in your home. You can share bonus insights about the neighbors and subjective features that Realtors aren’t able to verify and include in their own brochures, but can include the list and quote from you. You could even go above and beyond and create a video tour that your agent can use in marketing in which you walk through your home and share features. Get the entire family involved!
  4. Have frank conversations with your Realtor about pricing, strategy and your ideal time frame. Share any changes that the current state of affairs has caused, discuss outside the box ways to increase buyer traffic and contemplate pricing adjustments. None of us know with certainty what the crisis will do to the real estate market. Have the tough conversation sooner than later to determine what price would be one that you’d accept to get the sale behind you. Then strongly consider dropping to that price to spur the pervading stalled buyer interest. A price reduction combined with these tips could get you at the virtual closing table a lot sooner.
  5. Review my other BETHvids and corresponding articles made for general homeowners and people who plan to list their homes soon for ten other suggestions you can also implement. (including my videos here on my YouTube page and articles at “Real Estate Agent Magazine.

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on Royal Examiner under the Features tab, “What Matters Warren.”


Beth Waller, Associate Broker at KW Solutions – Keller Williams Realty
Local Office: 27 Cloud Street Front Royal, VA 22630
Direct: 540-671-6145
Northern Virginia Office: 8100 Ashton Ave #103 Manassas VA 20109
Office: 703-330-2222
Licensed in VA

Beth’s websites: Bethwaller.kw.com and whatmattersw2.com

To learn more about my real estate sales or nonprofit (WHAT MATTERS), to book a time to utilize my free community meeting space (“Open House” in the Middle of Main building on Main Street), to schedule a no-cost social media video to promote your business/group or cause, or to discuss my listing your property (which makes all of my charity efforts possible), visit my website at www.whatmattersw2.com or give me a call at 540-671-6145!

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Local News

Safety abounds in the local real estate industry, safety in numbers and in new safe practices

Published

on

While it’s definitely not “business as usual” for area Realtors, buyers and sellers, the COVID-19 crisis has not halted the local and surrounding real estate market as much as initially feared. To date, new listings are rolling in as are contracts. Showings, though obviously decreased, are still being scheduled and Realtors, offices and clients are embracing extreme precautions to make the process as safe as possible. The BRIGHT MLS (the local real estate multiple listing service which serves as a database for properties from New Jersey to Virginia) is providing daily communication as the industry adapts to new ways of conducting business, “We are relaxing showings requirements for Active and Active Under Contract listings. In-person/onsite showings of properties will not be required during this time. To provide another showing option for clients and their agents currently uncomfortable with in-person exposure, we are also temporarily allowing for the promotion of virtual/online showings within the public notes of a listing.” Typically homes cannot have branded virtual/online tours included in the database and must be available for in-person showings to remain in active status,” according to their online COVID-19 support center,” says a recent Bright MLS communication.

The industry as a whole is impressively stepping up to the plate in all areas to best protect while continuing to serve the public who still has a need to move during the pandemic.

New Safe Office Procedures

Offices are making the latest COVID-19 guidelines available to all agents while following guidelines and taking the threat of this virus seriously.  The Keller Williams Solutions Manassas office was shut down recently for five days immediately after a staff member’s granddaughter began showing symptoms of the virus. Her test came back negative, but Lee Beaver, owner of the franchise, put the potential safety of her agents and staff ahead of the bottom line and shared, “The health and safety of all is most important to us.  We will get through this critical time standing together. Being extra precautionary is the only way we are going to beat this pandemic.” Industry leaders share her concern and are going above and beyond to protect people who are engaging in real estate transactions through the pandemic.

New Safe Realtor Marketing Procedures

Agents are thankful for existing technology that makes transitioning to a more virtual way of conducting business possible. Heidi Rutz of Next Home Realty Select in Front Royal hosted a “Virtual Brokers Open House” this week and sent an email invitation to agents inviting them to take a 3-D virtual tour of the property (inside and out) and provide feedback through an online questionnaire. She’s having a drawing for a gift card for agents who participate. Agents like Rutz are utilizing creative marketing tactics to help listings stand out online.

New Safe Showing Procedures

Agents are asking buyers questions before showings to help mitigate risk and are advising them to take extreme precautions while following safety mandates. Some brokerages are requiring buyers to fill out a questionnaire about their health that verifies they are feeling well (fever-free with no symptoms of COVID-19) and a statement promising to use safe procedures when touring. Beth Medved Waller says communication and careful coordination is a key to feeling safe, “I have an occupied property that has a showing request from an agent who isn’t comfortable touring with her clients at this time. After lengthy discussions, we have decided that the seller will be turning the lights on, opening the closet doors and leaving the front door unlocked. I’ll arrive and the seller and I will wait outside (at least six feet apart) as the buyers tour.  We will be available to answer their questions outdoors after they tour (from a safe distance). The seller will be prepared to wipe down the front door handle after the showing, which should be the only place the buyers will have touched. We feel comfortable with this procedure, especially since their agent has provided us with a copy of their signed buyer health questionnaire”

New Safe Communication Procedures

Jessica Dean of Weichert, Realtors in Front Royal, like many prudent agents, is presenting contracts to her sellers virtually. She’s even already received one offer from buyers who haven’t visited her listing in-person but chose to view online and make an offer sight unseen.  Like others, Dean is also engaging in contract negotiations through electronic signing online and phone/Zoom calls. “Of course this is not ideal. Relationships are critical in establishing trust,” she says of this new protocol that unfortunately separates clients and agents physically but requires even closer communication to navigate the new processes of real estate transactions.

There’s Safety in the Numbers

Current market statistics for surrounding counties still look healthy as we move into month two of moving towards a new normal in life and in the pursuit of the American dream. Per Bright MLS research by Beth Medved Waller on 4/1/2020, the health of the area’s real estate market is still strong even amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Warren County:

  • Coming soon–6
  • Active–181
  • Under contract/pending–103
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–43
  • Temporarily Off Market–14
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–9

Frederick County:

  • Coming soon–12
  • Active–342
  • Under contract/pending–252
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–73
  • Temporarily Off Market–25
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–11

Winchester City:

  • Coming soon–4
  • Active–53
  • Under contract/pending–44
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–15
  • Temporarily Off Market–9
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–15

Clarke County:

  • Coming soon–1
  • Active–54
  • Under contract/pending–28
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–12
  • Temporarily Off Market–9
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–3

Shenandoah County:

  • Coming soon–6
  • Active–171
  • Under contract/pending–112
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–45
  • Temporarily Off Market–15
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–6
Share the News:
Continue Reading

Real Estate

Part 1 of 7: Practical real estate tips for quarantined homeowners, buyers, sellers and realtors

Published

on

This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.


This is the first of Beth Medved Waller’s video series offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health.  In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner).  She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.

Part 1: Top 5 real estate tips for homeowners with no immediate plans of moving

  1. Turn being cooped up inside into an opportunity that will pay off in the future whenever it’s time to sell your home.  Start a folder of home improvements you’ve made throughout the years and use it as a place to log annual maintenance, record replacement costs and keep track of ages of heating/air conditioning units, your roof, and other important systems/utilities in your house.  You can even keep booklets, receipts and other handy information in a convenient location inside the binder.
  2. Start that long-overdue de-cluttering – focus on your main level first (the garage/basement area is less important to keep organized than your kitchen, main living areas and master bath/closet areas). If it’s hard to get rid of even unused items, put them in a box and move them to the basement–if you haven’t gone into the box in 6 months, it’s likely safe to donate the box to be enjoyed by someone who will be blessed by your “hand-me-downs.”
  3. Start an online folder to store seasonal photos of your home. It can also be home to “before/after” photos if you complete improvements a future buyer would appreciate to have documented.  Go one step farther and set reminders on your calendar to take quality digital (cell phone is fine) photos of your home during different seasonsUpload onto your online album shots that showcase views in the winter, lovely sunsets or sunrises, fall foliage and flowers blooming in the warmer months.
  4. Take a slow and intentional walk around the outside and throughout the inside of your home and make a list of major and minor maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Now’s the time to make a plan and budget for completing them (or to check some off the list if you have the skills to earn some sweat equity).  So many people wait until they sell to invest the time and money into improvements they wish they prioritized sooner to enjoy the benefits of the updates before handing the keys over to the buyer, who is sure to appreciate your investment in curb appeal and upkeep.
  5. Bite the bullet and begin pricing out big ticket items on your “to do” or “dream” list.  Contact your trusted Realtor to brainstorm about the potential return on costly improvements. Calling on an expert for guidance can ensure you make an educated decision about your monetary investment vs. projected future impact on market value.  Be ready to share photos or video clips with your agent so they can visualize your situation and be better equipped to educate you about the potential return on your updates.

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on the Royal Examiner under the Features Tab, “What Matters Warren.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see whatmattersw2.com to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at dollardreamdownload.com).  She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Real Estate

Be ready for an unscheduled showing

Published

on

 

When an agent wants to show your place on Tuesday at 4 p.m. or Wednesday at 8, you’ve got a convenient choice to make.

But what if the agent is showing other homes in your neighborhood to a hot buyer who is in town for the day and intends to buy? What if he or she has seen your sign and is interested? Could you let the agent show the house now?

The problem is that buyers often have schedules that are inconvenient for sellers. Out-of-town people and people who travel for a living are just two examples of buyers who might need to see your home on a weeknight evening.

When your home is on the market, you have already done the painting and other maintenance, so the house is almost showable. To allow a showing in a short time, try to keep the place generally picked-up and in order.

This is especially true with bathrooms and bedrooms. They are very important rooms which should have nothing lying about, like clothes on the floor. Put out clean towels.

If you can’t get the beds made, at least pull the blankets straight.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Real Estate

Local real estate industry reaction to COVID-19 crisis; new video series to help sellers, buyers and homeowners

Published

on

Realtors, buyers, sellers, and homeowners, in general, are understandably curious about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local real estate market. Local industry expert Beth Medved Waller (a top-producing associate broker in Warren County) interviewed countless agents about the state of their business and hopes to shed a light on the pulse of the local real estate market from multiple agents and perspectives. “It’s my obligation as well as my honor to inform my community about the state of the real estate industry in light of the current state of our world,” says Waller who’s been a top producing Realtor since 2005.

Watch this video for her general commentary about the local real estate climate amid threats of the virus spreading through the Shenandoah Valley:

Stay tuned for Beth’s video series (launching through Royal Examiner next week) offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health. In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner). She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four-part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.”

A Bright MLS analysis by Waller on 3/25/2020 indicated that Warren County inventory levels are approximately 100 units below 2019 stats with 178 active listings, 6 coming soon, 14 temporarily off the market and 8 withdrawn within the last two weeks. Since Friday the 13th (when COVID precautions tightened), 28 listings went under contract/pending for a total of 110 in the category. Many recent listings posting have been new constructions and vacant homes obviously have extra appeal in today’s market.

”My most active properties are my vacant listings, but I did have a showing this weekend on one of my occupied homes and am expecting an offer. The agent and buyers wore gloves and my seller felt comfortable, although the same seller declined an earlier showing this week when the agent informed me that her buyers had just returned from overseas (and were within the recommended 14-day quarantine).” Beth added, “Showings on my listings have drastically slowed since Friday the 13th, but I’m encouraged by the buyer and agent calls I’ve received since Thursday. I listed a vacant home on Friday and have had 5 showings already, which is less than normal, but much better than I feared. I’ve only ratified one contract in three weeks, but have renewed hope that as we navigate our new ‘normal’ buyer activity will increase. I expect to start seeing virtual showings more and more and anticipate having offers from buyers who haven’t physically toured that will include the ‘sights unseen’ and new ‘COVID-19’ addendums.” Closing delays have already occurred for Waller due to lender slow-downs from appraisal backlogs and government tax transcript delays. How the market will be affected as the virus spreads more heavily through the valley remains to be seen, but “business as usual” is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.

According to Executive Order 53, all professional service business (including real estate) may remain open as long as an emphasis is placed on honoring the under 10 gathering mandates, teleworking as much as feasible, meeting with clients virtually when possible, avoiding hosting in-person open houses, engaging in social distancing, limiting the numbers of houses buyers tour and embracing enhanced sanitizing practices.

Cindy Greenya, President of the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors, offered a positive outlook for the industry:

“All of us are walking into an unknown time. Realtors and the Association are trying to figure out how to adapt and change. We are still very low on inventory, houses are still selling and our affiliates and members are working on adjusting the way they do business as well. People still need to buy and sell houses, people are still moving. Now is just a time for us to adjust and change, and at some point in the future life will go back to normal, we just don’t know when that will be.” She added that she’s still seeing showings, especially on vacant property, but she has heard from colleagues that slowdowns are happening and deals are falling through. She’s been blessed to date with showing activity but is anxious to see what happens when her many upcoming listings hit the market. So far, she’s encouraging her sellers to not delay and to get on the market as planned since buyers are seeking additional homes inventory and interest rates are at an all-time low. She also emphasizes the importance for real estate professionals to keep in close communication with their clients and to invest time to keep abreast of the FAQs and COVID-19 releases being published by Virginia REALTORS at www.virginiarealtors.org/coronavirus.

Sharon Cales of Remax in Front Royal (a top producing Realtor for three decades and partner with Ken and Donna Evans of frontroyalagents.com) has the following commentary to share with the community:

My biggest concerns are for the welfare of our clients and their families. While our job is to sell real estate we are still obligated by our code of ethics to keep “the best interest of the client” at the forefront. Knowing that there may be a silent killer on the doorstep makes it more difficult than ever before. As an industry, we are being told to disinfect the surfaces, stop hand to face contact and keep washing our hands. My concern is that this is not enough. Some still appear to think this is a hoax or overkill, REALTORs included. Those of us who have friends still recovering know better. Showing vacant properties is a much easier process. While I still have concerns, I can indeed disinfect and do what is suggested by the CDC. However, the necessary items they suggest using are in VERY short supply and in most cases impossible to get. Occupied properties are where my largest concerns lie. There is no way for us to know what the homeowners are doing to protect their environment or what the buyers or sellers may have been exposed to. This is an environment that is an accident looking for a place to happen. We have the ability to either take the virus into an otherwise safe environment or bring it out with us into the world. Not a safe situation for anyone.

While the government has named us essential, it is my belief that the guidelines should be refined. We still need to process existing cases and get buyers and sellers to the closing table while taking the necessary precautions set forth by the CDC. However, it is my opinion that showings should be limited to vacant homes. In the event showings on occupied properties is essential, the buyers and sellers both should agree to sign off on an authorization form stating both parties understand the possible ramifications. I’m sure some brokers might be OK with that. However, this does still not address the possible infection for the REALTOR. Some Brokers and companies have already made statements concerning their policies. Most have not and it’s business almost as usual. Since we are an industry based on commission income and the future of the market is uncertain, many REALTORS are going to be willing to take the risks I’m afraid.

Sharon Cales on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

My showings are way down also. I’d say it’s a reduction of 85% or so. I have had a few calls but several canceled after scheduling and hearing the daily news updates. I do have a couple touring this weekend. However, I am only showing vacant properties. The phones are VERY quiet and although I am continuing to touch base with buyers and sellers, the return calls are not coming in. People seem to be very concerned. Last week, nobody knew anybody affected, but now everybody seems to know somebody being tested or positive for the virus. Listings are almost down to nothing also. Sellers don’t seem to know which way to go. I have ratified 3 contracts, but all have been on vacant properties.

Broker/Owner of Main Street Front Royal’s Exit Premier Realty, Jim Clark (theclarkteamrealty.com), who has been thriving as one of the top producers in Warren County in recent years offers encouragement:

The real estate industry is the most resilient industry in the world. We work in an ever-changing landscape in an ever-changing world, and it changes very quickly sometimes. From economic impacts, legislative requirements, dealing with influxes of foreclosures and short sales, etc, etc. We real estate professional weather the storm, time after time after time. Coronavirus is another storm. It’s a big scary storm. But we are adapting. From virtual showings, video conferencing with clients, and we’re even working on e-closing so clients don’t have to sign their settlement docs in person. We will get through this, just like we have every other time… every other storm. We’ll be stronger and better for it. Because we are all in this together. May God bless and protect us all, and God bless America.

Jim Clark on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

I’d say we are down 80% from 2 weeks ago in showings for buyers and of listings, showings on my listings have totally died as well. A few here and there. But it’s really come to a total stop. It’s sad. So many people want to buy and want to sell but they can’t.

A March 23rd Virginia REALTORS Press Release States: Going into March 2020, consumer confidence remained high; however, it is likely these consumer confidence measures will fall this spring. Says Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D., “Heading into the spring, local housing markets across Virginia were strong, and February was a good month for the market. While the full impact of COVID-19 is not yet certain, strong economic fundamentals in the Commonwealth can help support a quick recovery. We’ll know much more when March housing market data are available in mid-April.”

Contact a Realtor for updates concerning the local market or reach out to Beth Medved Waller at beth@whatmattersw2.com or 540-671-6145. Check out her column on Royal Examiner for future updates and videos pertaining to the market.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Real Estate

For Baby Boomers, it is time to make a profit, save headaches

Published

on

Baby Boomers (aged 54 to 74) are holding on to their beloved homes, but selling and downsizing now could not only save a lot of headaches, it could also make a tidy profit.

Interest rates are low with the national average rate hovering around 3.6% to 3.9%. Buyers are plentiful. In most areas, there are more buyers than houses for sale. That means a great house for sale could snag a great price.

One option for downsizing is condo living, which can bring a host of benefits to retired Boomers.

Condo retirement communities offer a community where people interact and make new friends.

Some have parties and even social events for people from the same area. And, you can admire the landscaping without having to mow and trim.

A condo in the city brings the excitement of shopping and entertainment within walking distance. Or, an Uber is just a click away. No more commutes.

Selling that big home and buying a smaller home can add to your nest egg and, if you want, bring you closer to the kids. It’s also a good way to bring the pets along. Along the way, downsizers save big on smaller utility and maintenance bills.

One other consideration: It is always easier to finance a home before retirement. If you have the will and the way, make your move while the market is perfect.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
58°
Clear
06:4419:43 EDT
Feels like: 58°F
Wind: 3mph S
Humidity: 79%
Pressure: 29.65"Hg
UV index: 0
TueWedThu
min 56°F
77/54°F
67/37°F