I’ve been an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA) since 1996.  During this time, I’ve evaluated thousands of homes with my Buyer clients.   I’m constantly amazed at some of the stupid staging techniques that I’ve seen.  When done correctly, I think there is place for subtle home staging techniques.  But, I think 90% of home staging techniques creates a fake, phony home and is more of a distraction.  As an EBA that just represents home buyers, I’m constantly focused on home staging tricks that might be trying to hide a problem with a home such as, fresh-baked cookies or popcorn to hide mildew or moisture smells.

Here is the Top 10 list of “Stupid Home Staging Tricks”:

10. Playing mood music. Playing music to set the atmosphere in a home is not that ridiculous.  This is why mood music comes in at #10.    It is a little distracting when you are viewing a “blue-collar” home with “Mozart’s  Symphony No. 16 in C Major” playing in every room.  Many Sellers think playing music will create a relaxing and peaceful environment in their home.  But, many times the music is just distracting the potential buyer from the home.

9. Too many lit candles. A few candles are nice but don’t overdo it.  I’ve evaluated many homes where the Seller will have 5-6 lit candles in almost every room.  Fire Marshall Bill would say, “Let me show you something!”  This many lit candles are ridiculous, if not to say a fire hazard.

8. Plastic anything! Plastic anything is a big “no-no”.  You don’t want to stage your home with plastic cookies, cake, flowers, beverage, fruit, etc.  Using plastic props to stage your home is probably the most overused staging techniques.  New build model homes are the worst offenders of plastic prop staging.  Even Pamela Anderson would be embarrassed by the amount of plastic used in some model homes.

7. What’s up with this diagonal crap? A Professional stager will state that placing furniture on a diagonal, especially beds and couches is supposed to make a room seem bigger.  I think the theory of “diagonal staging” is debatable.  Even when it is done correctly, I really don’t think it makes the room bigger.  The first thing that I notice when I see a diagonal bed is how odd and fake this looks.  No one lives with their bed or couch on a diagonal.  I’ve had numerous Buyer clients ask me “What’s up with this diagonal furniture stuff?”

6. Where Art Thou? Hanging artwork on walls pose many different problems.  A big, fancy piece of artwork in a room will distract buyers from everything else in the room.  This is especially a problem if there are no other pictures, family photos or other artwork on the walls.  Incorrect artwork placement  just screams fake and phony.  Another artwork problem is “theming” (I thought I was making up a new word but this word actually does exist) of the rooms.  Every room in the house has one single recurrent artwork/picture theme (ocean, barn, flowers, forest/landscaping, etc.)

5. Full blown table place settings! Dining room tables or island counters set up to look like a 5 star Michelin restaurant.  Silk table mats, fancy silverware, napkins stuffed into glasses or napkins with rings, etc. is too over the top!  If your dining room table would make the Queen of England proud then it is probably not appropriate and looks fake.

4. Ribbon Envy! Avoid decorating your home with any ribbons or cords.  Tying ribbons around your towels on towel racks, decorative robes on curtain rods/drapes and shower curtains with big, huge ropes are all laughable.  No one wants to spend extra 10 minutes to take a shower by untying and tying shower curtain cords or tie backs.  You don’t live in King Henry’s castle.

3.  Cookbook. The open cookbook staged on a stand in the kitchen.  This is not your mother’s Home  Journal magazine from the 50’s.  Just as hilarious is the copies of wine or cigar connoisseur magazines right beside the cookbook on a stand.

2.  Breakfast tray. The breakfast tray on the bed with tumbled wine glasses.  Is the Seller thinking, “I had caviar and crumpets for breakfast this morning and I didn’t have time to put my breakfast tray away before showing my home.”  I’ve also never understood the staging of turned over glasses.  Some houses would even have plastic liquid coming out of the glass to resemble spilled milk or wine.  Why are these items in a stage home?  What’s next a whoopee cushion in a chair?

1.  Rose petals.  The #1 most stupid and outrageous staging technique that I’ve ever seen is rose petals everywhere in the filled bathroom tub along candles, wine bottles and glasses.  Luckily, we’ve only seen this staging technique once, but it was enough to easily make it number one on the list.  The house we viewed was actually a nice home with a great, updated kitchen and big back yard.  The house had everything my Buyer was looking for in a new home.  But, the only thing the Buyer ended up remembering was the crazy use of rose petals in the bathtub.

Home buyers need to be careful in our market.  When evaluating homes don’t be too distracted by tacky home staging techniques.  Obviously, I’m not a big fan of overblown home staging of homes.  My definition of home staging is fairly basic.  I think every Seller should remove clutter, clean their home, make all beds and pick up dirty underwear.  A Seller that tries to hide problems or defects in their home via home staging is a serious problem.  I addressed this issue in a previous blog post:  Problems With Staging Homes!

Good luck out there!  I hope this information is helpful. 

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The other day I was attending a home inspection with one of my Buyer clients.  The  Home Inspector discovered some bugs that he thought were bed bugs.  My Buyers asked me a good question, “Do Seller’s have to disclose bed bugs to potential homebuyers?”

Bed bugs are becoming a major problem everywhere in the United States.  But, the bed bug problem is huge in the state of Ohio.  CBS Evening News recently had a story of the  “Top 15 Worst Cities For Bed Bugs!”  The State of Ohio has 4 cities in the top 15.   Eeek Gads!!!

The answer to this question above might not be as straight forward as you think.

In a residential real estate transaction most states do require a property disclosure form.  But, many states, including Ohio, do not specifically address bed bugs in their disclosure form.  In my opinion, the state of Ohio residential property disclosure form is inadequate and needs to be greatly improved.

In the State of Ohio we have a four page Residential Property Disclosure (RPD) Form.  A Seller is required to disclose any material problems or defects on their property that has occurred over the past five years.

The definition of a “material defect” is any problem with a home that would affect a Buyer’s decision to purchase the home or affect the value of the property.

The State of Ohio RPD has 14 sections (A-N) that address such items as; structural, roof, water intrusion, mechanical, wood-boring insects, etc.  But, there is no specific section for disclosing bed bugs.  So, if there is no section in RPD do Sellers have to disclose?

I am not an attorney!!!  But, if you are a Seller struggling with what to disclose then I would use common sense and follow these 2 steps:

  • The best approach for any Seller is “when in doubt always disclose”.  Many Sellers do the exact opposite and disclose nothing.  Sellers don’t want to jeopardize selling their home.  This is a huge, risky gamble for any Seller.
  • Ask yourself, “would a reasonable person think the problem would affect the value?”.  If the honest answer is yes, then disclose.

You would think it would be a “no brainer” on how to answer the question, “Do Seller’s have to disclose Bed Bugs?”.

Yes, Yes, Yes…..you should disclose to potential Buyers any TYPE of pest, insect or rodent infestation in your home.  This is not just limited to termites, carpenter ants, bed bugs.  But, also squirrels, rats, bats, etc. 

Any reasonable person would think that a bed bug infestation in their home would affect the value of the property.

So, in the State of Ohio, even though we don’t have a specific section in the RPD to disclose bed bugs, you would need to disclose under section N (Other Known Material Defects) 

Real estate disclosure procedures vary greatly from state to state.  If you have specific questions then you should contact an attorney, licensed real estate agent or your states division/department of real estate. 

I really need to finish this post.   Bed bugs are so creepy that my mind is playing tricks on me.  As I’m writing this blog post,   I’m itching everywhere.  I hope this is not happening to you.  LOL!

If you want a little giggle, then hover your cursor over the bed bug pics above.

Good luck out there!  I hope this information is helpful. 

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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A recent Fannie Mae poll of homeowners and renters indicate that 78% of Americans believe home prices have bottomed out.  

Is now the right time to buy a home?  High inventory levels, low-interest rates and home prices that have bottomed out.

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

 “Representing People, NOT Property!”

The title tells you everything you need to know! A very good video for home buyers from “The Balancing Act” show on cable channel “Lifetime”.  The National Association Exclusive Buyer’s Agents (NAEBA) is an organization that strives to give today’s home-buying consumers the level of service they deserve and are increasingly demanding. NAEBA members firmly believe that home buyers have the same full and equal representation rights as sellers in any real estate transaction.   We have NAEBA members throughout the world.

Exclusive Buyer Agents (EBA) are the guaranteed, highest and best representation possible for a home buyer.  We help our Buyer Clients, “Locate, Evaluate and Negotiate!”

Great information for the home buyer.

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The Commerce Department reports that new home sales in June rebounded 24% from the previous month.  You would think this would be good news, but this is very misleading data.  March and April homes sales exploded because of the tax credit rush.  May was an all time “stinker” month.  So, it is not too hard to have a big increase over a previous terrible month.  Plus, the June sales pace is the 2nd slowest ever on record since Commerce Department began tracking the data in 1963.  Also on Monday, The National Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales fell 5.1% in June.

So what does all this mean?   On the same day, we get conflicting data on the real estate market.  Home buyers and sellers are frustrated.  They don’t know what to think. 

So is the real estate market improving?  Who knows the answer?

How about Bernanke, Buffett, Geithner or Greenspan….do they know the answer?

The answer is……nobody knows, not even the so called “experts”.

In my opinion, I think we’ve definitely hit the bottom months ago and the market has been slowly improving.  But my opinion or “guess” is no better than any other market expert.

But, the 2 things that I definitely know about the Columbus Ohio real market are:

  • The real estate market is extremely turbulant and volatile.  This is not always a bad thing for home buyers.
  • We are still in a Buyer’s market.

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The guaranteed best representation possible for a home buyer is to hire their own personal Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA). 

Exclusive Buyer agent representation for home buyers has recently (Jan. 2010) been endorsed in the new consumer publication from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);  “Shopping for your Home Loan:  HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet“.  This is HUD’s first major revision in 10 years and advises home buyers to hire a real estate agent that will only represent their best interests.  Page 6 of HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet states, “If you want someone to represent only your interests, consider hiring an ‘exclusive buyer’s agent’, who will be working for you.”

You would think this would be great news for home buyers & exclusive buyer’s agents.  But, now the problem is that many real estate agents are calling themselves an “Exclusive Buyer Agent”, when they really aren’t EBA’s.    Real estate agents are just making up their own “titles” or “specialities” just so they can generate more business.  But, they are NOT EBA’s or a true Buyer Broker

Quite simply, The only definition of an Exclusive Buyer Agent is an agent that never list property for sale and the company they work for does not list properties or provide any representation for Sellers.

If you are potential home buyer that is interviewing possible Exclusive Buyer Agents then just ask this simple question:

“Do you or any other agents in your office list or sell properties at anytime?”  If they answer yes, then the agent is not a true EBA.

Here is what leading national magazines and newspapers say about “true” Buyer Brokers:

 “Agents:  How to hire one for your side.”  Most agents who show you homes don’t represent your interests.  They work for   the seller, and their object is to sell the house at the highest price.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Many people don’t realize that, unless specifically stated otherwise, brokers are legal representatives of Sellers.  A buyer’s broker representing only the buyer, may be able to secure a better price and better terms.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 “Unlike the traditional agent who looks out for the seller, a buyer broker acts as your advocate, helping you find the  homes you want and then negotiating the lowest possible price.  the best buyer brokers are so-called exclusive agents – that is, they represent only buyers, never sellers…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Exclusive agencies are best.  They remove any conflict of interest, which is the main reason for considering a Buyer Broker in the first place.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“…A Buyer’s Broker is prohibited from disclosing to a Seller that the Buyer can, or will, pay more than what has been offered…  To eliminate conflict of interests, exclusive buyer agents do not take listings.  Buyer’s Broker make a great deal of sense”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Groups such as Consumer Federation of America and AARP recommend using Buyer’s Agents.  The reason is they work.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

“Buyer Brokers:  agents that buyers can call their own.”  “If you real estate agent isn’t a Buyer Broker, he works for the Seller.”  Buyers no longer have to fend for themselves.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

“A conflict of interest is more likely when a real estate firm that represents sellers assigns you one of its Brokers as a Buyer’s agents.  That’s why many people believe, “Exclusive Buyer Broker” is preferrable.  Exclusive Buyer Broker aims to get the best deal for home buyer.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Many home buyers and sellers in central Ohio were hoping for a third extension to the popular home buyer tax credit program.  According to the Ohio Association of Realtors (OAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR), this appears  very unlikely to happen. 

Vicki Cox Golder, NAR President states “NAR has had extensive discussions with our congressional allies and concluded that an additional extension of the tax credit is unlikely.  While lawmakers recognize that the tax credit helped stabilize the market, it appears that much of the benefit has been realized.”

So, time is running out, we are down to the last few weeks for home buyers to claim the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit or the $6,500 move up buyer tax credit.  You must have a found a home and have a binding sales contract by April 30th, 2010.

Review these links for more information on Tax Credit Programs:

Tax Credit For First Time Home Buyers!

 Tax Credit Bonanza

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, many potential home buyers & sellers were aware of the great $8,000 tax credit for 1st time home buyers.  But many consumers are not aware of all the other tax credit programs that are available:    
 
 
 

  • $8,000 tax credit for 1st time home buyers  extended until April 30, 2010, must close by June 30th, 2010.  Click HERE for more  info. 
  • NEW-$6,500 tax credit for move up/repeat buyers.  Existing home owners must have occupied their home for 5 years.  Click HERE or contact me for more detailed info. 
  • $1,500 tax credit for energy efficiency updating for existing homes.  Improvements must be completed by December 31, 2010.  Most popular updates are: new furnace, central air, tankless water heaters, windows, doors, patio doors, water heaters, etc.  Click HERE for completed list of eligible improvements and more info.
  • State of Ohio Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.  Ohio residents can receive anywhere from $100 to $250 for EACH eligible appliance that they replace ($700 maximum).  Program starts 1st quarter of 2010.  This rebate program offers the perfect excuse to buy a new expensive front loading, super high-efficiency steam washer & dryer.  Program ends when funds are depleted.  Rebates will possibly only last 4-6 weeks.  Important info:  Ohio appliance rebate program, Ohio offers rebates for Energy efficient appliances, Rebate Program Outline

We hope this information can help save you some money.  Please contact me if you have additional questions.     

Disclaimer:  Please consult a tax professional or accountant for additional details and eligibility questions regarding the federal tax credit programs.  Thoroughly review all guideline requirements for energy-efficient home improvements or appliances before making the purchases.   

Good luck out there.   

Home Buyer Advocate Mike   

Representing People, NOT Property!

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uncle-samThe clock is ticking down for first time home buyers.  You need to act NOW to make sure that you don’t miss out on the $8,000 from Uncle Sam. 

Here is the fast, quick information you will need to see if you qualify for the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

  • You must be a first time home buyer, defined as not owning a home in the past 3 tax years.
  • Tax credit amount is 10% of the sales price of the home up to a maximum of $8,000.
  • There is NO price limit on the sales price of home.
  • Maximum income to receive FULL tax credit is $75,000 for a single person, the limit for married couples is $150,000.
  • You can receive a PARTIAL tax credit for income levels up to $95,000 for a single person and $170,000 for married couples. 
  • There is no payback or penalty as long as you stay in home as your principal residence for 3 years.
  • You must CLOSE on your new home on or after January 1, 2009 or before December 1, 2009.   

***IMPORTANT:  Congress passes tax credit extension.  Must have binding sales contract dated on or before April 30, 2010 and close on or before June 30th, 2010. 

 

This is the quick & dirty information that you need right now for the $8,000 Tax credit.  For more detailed information you can go HERE.

It is a great time to be a home buyer.  This is the perfect time to by a home, especially 1st time home buyers, as long as your job is secure.  If you feel safe in your current employment/job, then there are just so many positive reasons to now buy a home.  Don’t miss the “gravy train!”

  • Buyer’s market
  • Really low mortgage interest rates
  • High inventory levels.  Plenty of home options
  • Depressed, low prices (buy low, sell high) 

Please contact me if you have more questions or need help.Throwing Money

IMPORTANT:  I’m just trying to help the “average Joe home owner” to understand the new $8,000 tax credit.  I have to put this” CYA” disclaimer in my post.  Please consult a tax professional or accountant for more details and eligibility questions regarding the $8,000 1st time home owner tax credit.  I’m not an accountant or tax professional.

 Good luck out there!

 Home Buyer Advocate Mike

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Great article in this past Sundays, The Columbus Dispatch newspaper about home inspections.  “Inspector aims to open eyes”.  Local home inspector, David Tamny of Professional Property Inspections will be the  new president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

David has been a home inspector on our company approved list for nearly 13 years.  His company web site is also on my blog roll link on left.  David is a very competent home inspector.

Suprisingly, home inspectors in the state of Ohio are still not licensed.  Home buyers have to be very careful when selecting a qualified home inspector.   A good option for home buyers to find a qualified home inspector is to check and see if the  inspector is a member in good standing with one of the two big professional trade associations.

National Associaton of Home Inspectors (NAHI) and American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) are the two largest home inspector trade associations in the United States.  David Tamny will be the new incoming president of the 5,800+ member AHSI. 

Make sure you take a second to read the article link on home inspections.  It is great information for possible home buyers.

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

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Buyer's Resource Realty Services 7100 N. High St. Suite 204 Worthington, OH 43085
614.321.9577

Michael Marshall – Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013!

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HomeBuyer Advocate Mike


Representing People, NOT Property in Columbus, Ohio. If you are a home buyer, then you need me to protect you. I can help you get the best price and terms for your next home purchase. You must use a true Buyer Broker! 1.614.805.7607

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