PO Box 312
Moncure, NC 27559
(919) 389-2585
Fax: 877-831-2913

Helpful Hints & Facts

The exterior paint of your home functions in many ways like the clothes you wear: to create an important first impression. If you’re considering a do-it-yourself project of repainting your house, you first need to carefully review and select the kind of paint you’ll use. There are several factors to weigh when choosing a paint type, such as drying time vs. durability. The type of paint used in previous layers is also important, as is cost. Here are the basic kinds of paint you’ll see:

Solvent or water-thinned stains can provide semitransparent, transparent, or solid finishes for wood, and some may include preservatives.

New wood or metal should be sealed with a suggested primer. In general one coat of primer and one coat of finish will be more durable than two coats of finish.

Oil paints have a long drying time (12 to 48 hours), which can make sudden rains a danger, but are extremely durable. Strong odors and difficult cleanup also make this more of a choice for professionals than amateurs.

A solvent-thinned, synthetic-resin paint, alkyds have many of the properties of oil-based paints but dry more quickly. Works well over older oil or alkyd layers.

Technically a type of latex paint, acrylics dry very quickly and will work on almost any building material.

A popular choice for amateurs, latex paints offer easy cleanup, solid durability, and fast drying times. Latex paints may be incompatible with an existing oil or alkyd layer.

Be sure to thoroughly review the options before beginning your painting project. Hardware and home stores are often willing to help you make the right choice. More information and tips for homeowners can also be found on my website. If you have any questions about your home, don’t hesitate to call me.

Tips from Gerry

Preparing Your Home for Sale

The Exterior:

  • Keep grass trimmed and edged
  • Water &fertilize the lawn
  • Keep shrubs & bushes neatly trimmed.
  • Store toys, bikes & other outdoor equipment.
  • Sweep the porches, decks & garage
  • Use a commercial cleaner to remove any oil spots on the garage floor.
  • Remove or repair & paint any fencing that needs it
  • Remove all items in disrepair (porch & lawn furniture, appliances vehicles).
  • Clean the trash cans and keep them out of sight
  • A fresh coat of paint on the trim, shutters & railing will do wonders for the initial impression of your home.
  • While you’re in the Mr. Fix-it mode, clean or replace any old caulking around the tub & shower.


Get rid of the clutter!!

  • Clear all appliances and containers off the kitchen counters to make your kitchen look larger.
    Leave the shower curtain open to make the bathroom look larger. Put out a basket of potpourri to make the bathroom smell fresher or use an air freshener.
  • Make your closets look larger by discarding all those extra clothes that are cramming the closet.
    No self-respecting woman wants to buy a house that looks like doesn’t have enough space for “The shoes”. Show kindness to the less fortunate by taking your spare clothes to the charity shop (and pick up the tax deductible receipt as well). A neatly organized closet appears larger. Clean & organize the garage. You’ll feel great when you get rid of all that junk anyway. You don’t want to be carting that stuff to your new home anyway.

And now to break your heart…

  • I know and you know that Fluffy is the sweetest, softest, most beautiful, most gorgeous and most adorable puddy-tat in the whole world. There is absolutely no doubt about it. And there is no question that Rover is without doubt the kindest, gentlest, most loyal and quite clearly the very best friend you could ever ask for. However, the harsh, cruel and unforgiving reality is that there are heartless monsters out there who just do not like pets. The courts seem unwilling to apply the death penalty to these heinous individuals.
    Unfortunately, for these folks, just the sight of a food bowl or hint of any odor (especially cats) will have them backing out of your front door and spinning gravel on their way down the driveway.
    If at all possible, why send your precious ones on a short excursion to socialize with a friend or to a lodging establishment commensurate with their undoubtedly lofty requirements. (Dare I say it,… The Kennel?)

A word to the wise:

  • Eliminate problems before they begin.

  • Last minute reminders just before a showing:

    • During the day, leave the curtains and shades open to give the room a light and airy feeling.
    • Clean up any dirty dishes and clean out the waste baskets and kitchen trash.
    • Use an air freshener to eliminate any musty odors.

    Cleaning the interior of your Home

    • Show your home in its best light. Give it the appeal that it deserves. Nothing puts off buyers faster than a dirty or disorganized home.
    • Make sure it’s clean and well organized.


    • Wash, or dry clean curtains.
    • Take blinds outside and wash them with a mild ammonia solution Rinse with that good old stand by-the garden hose!
    • Put clean linens and dust ruffle on the bed.
    • Polish wood furniture and dust knickknacks.
    • Vacuum everything, the floor, behind and under the bed, the carpet lampshades and pictures.
    • Clean mirrors and wipe down light fixtures and lamps.


    • Dust and vacuum corners and crevices from high points to low.
    • Remember dust falls downward so you want to clean from the top to the bottom of any room.
    • Vacuum furniture, lampshades and pictures. Remember all those gadgets that come with your vacuum cleaner? Use them here, and experiment with different attachments for furniture and corners of rooms.
    • Vacuum or wash curtains.
    • Dust wood furniture.
    • Dust mop floors.
    • Vacuum carpet.
    • Take plants outside for a gentle washing with a fine spray from your hose.


    • Let cleansers do the scrubbing for you! Spray your oven with cleaner the night before you plan to clean your kitchen this will literally “marinate” the grease and grime, making it simple to sponge off. Make sure the burners look spotless. Replace the drip pans if necessary.
    • Here is a great microwave cleaning tip: Fill a paper cup with water and a few tablespoons of baking soda. Nuke it for about 30 seconds, or until you see the contents explode! Then just take a paper towel to wipe and wipe it all off. The explosion spreads the cleaner over the entire area, and you can even use the moistened rag or paper towel to wipe outside the microwave and its surrounding area.
    • Vacuum stove vents, refrigerator coils, floor and counters.
    • Clean outside of fridge with glass cleaner.
    • Clean counters, appliances and stovetop with an all purpose cleaner or the baking soda solution as listed above.
    • Wash out the trash can and spray it with a good disinfectant before putting in a new liner. Leave it outside the kitchen for the next step.


    • Take down the shower curtain and give it a wash in the washing machine. It may be time to just buy a new one.
    • Spray shower and tub with strong cleanser.
    • Pour toilet cleaner into the bowl, and spray the outside with a strong cleaner. Let the chemicals do the cleaning while you do the next steps.
    • Clean mirrors, chrome, bathroom scale, light fixtures and shower door with a glass cleaner.
    • Vacuum everything! This will remove dust and hair that is hard to get up when surfaces are wet.
    • Empty and clean the wastepaper basket.
    • Clean the sink and wipe off the cleanser you already applied to the shower and tub.
    • Working from the top of the toilet down, clean the outside, and brush and flush the inside.
    • Scrub the floor with a strong cleanser. Tough tile floors can be most easily cleaned.

    Why hasn't my House Sold?

    Home sellers are very concerned when their home has been on the market for some time. The offers presented, if any, have been too low to even consider. The home hasn’t sold. Quite naturally they want to know “What’s wrong?”

    That’s a fair question; the newspapers say the home market is active again. Some homes in the area have sold. Now, sellers are asking questions like “Interest rates are down, aren’t they?” “Why haven’t I had a serious offer?” “Should I take my house off the market?” Should I change Realtors?

    There is a selling price for every property. If the market is showing little interest in your property, the price is probably too high for this market.

    First, slow down. Don’t panic. Take a rational look at the market and make the most of it. Smart home sellers are moving their home … and right now, today. But they recognize the market today is different from last year.

    Second, the smart home seller comes to the conclusion that with cautious buyers looking at more homes you have to be competitive, flexible, aggressive, and do a better job of merchandising to generate offers. Your home can also sell, and quickly.

    Third, sit down with your real estate professional and rethink your marketing plan. There are a number of actions to consider to beat out your competition.

    Price. Reviewing your asking price is the most difficult, painful and personal part of answering the question, “Why aren’t we getting any action?” This is typically the single most critical element in your marketing plan. Get fresh comparable sales in your area. Forget the asking prices of homes that aren’t selling. Check out the homes that are selling. Your home must be priced to meet today’s market or the other elements of your plan won’t make much difference.

    Terms. How flexible are you really prepared to be? How big a second can you take? Can you offer fast escrow?

    Merchandising. Are you offering a home protection plan to the buyer? A home protection plan covers many of the important systems that can and do break down during the buyers first year of ownership. It stands to reason your home will have a competitive advantage when it includes a protection plan. Today’s buyers are picky. Give them something extra. Grab their attention.

    Appearance Remember the old advertising slogan, “Even your best friends won’t tell you!” Well, a good Realtor will level with you. Have your real estate professional give you a set of ideas on how to spiff up your house. ( Try using the 20 tips to sell your house). Listen to your professional advisor. Paint, clip, mow, clean, deodorize, send to storage, toss out, caulk, paper, cement, repair, add, scoop, weed, tear down, and scrub.

    Little things do count. A minimum of time, effort and money spent now can bring back large rewards.

    Atmosphere. There are also some “Do’s and Don’ts, which can be helpful in creating a selling atmosphere. Leave the house when it’s being shown and take the dog and children with you. If you must be home don’t chat with the buyers, just disappear. Tune the FM radio to a quiet, soothing music. Be careful of cooking odors. Turn on all the lights. Fresh flowers are always a plus. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level, open windows and doors if weather and security permits. Pick up kid’s toys. Help your real estate professional by creating a warm, pleasant, private sales environment.

    Moving Tips

    Where to Start?

    • Make flow chart for days/weeks before move.
    • Make daily schedules.
    • Get estimates from moving companies and arrange method of payment.
    • Get boxes or packing containers.
    • Sell, give away, discard unnecessary belongings.
    • Notify post office and send out changes of address cards to companies to inform of move: telephone, insurance, mail order clubs, book and record clubs, electric company, gas company, or fuel oil company, property tax department, laundry, newspapers, magazines, doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, stockbroker, cable television, utilities, motor vehicle department, vet, credit card companies, automobile club.
    • Transfer or resign club memberships.
    • Get letter of introduction to church, new clubs.
    • Get school records for transfer to new school.
    • Make arrangements to move family, hotel reservations, plane tickets.
    • Get all medical, dental birth, baptism and marriage records.
    • Transfer house, car, personal insurance records and check into auto licensing requirements.
    • Check and clear tax assessments on your current property.
    • Ensure that your moving out and moving in days do not conflict with other two parties involved.
    • Check storage facilities.
    • Collect and send out all items to be cleaned or repaired.
    • Return all items borrowed; collect all items loaned.
    • Arrange for connection and shutting off of utilities.
    • Have your car prepared for the trip or arrange transport.
    • Dispose of flammable items.
    • Defrost and clean fridge one day before moving; clean stove.
    • Have meters read.
    • Make arrangements with caretakers, if renting.
    • Use up perishable food.
    • Arrange to transport plants, pets, fish, and perishables.
    • Clean rugs and drapes.
    • Arrange for work to be done at new home.
    • Get warranties and tips from previous owners (if any).
    • Plan for children and pets on moving day.
    • Get moving company appraisals of items for future claims.
    • Check swimming pool equipment.
    • Cancel cleaning service, pool maintenance, window cleaners, snow removal, Landscaper.
    • Leave house clean for new occupants.
    • Transfer prescriptions for drugs and eyeglasses.
    • Transfer government or private health and hospital plans.
    • Return library books.
    • Cancel or pass on subscriptions tickets.
    • Arrange for money during move period.
    • Investigate wills.
    • Transfer stocks, bonds, bank accounts, contents of safety box.
    • Ensure you have adequate insurance for your goods on transit.

    • International Move Checklist.

    • Consult immigration officials.
    • Get birth certificate for everybody.
    • Get vet certificates for pets.
    • Arrange for language courses.
    • Check currency requirements.
    • Get duplicate keys for luggage.
    • Take copy of documents left behind.
    • Check import policies on cars, pets and plants.
    • Check wardrobe if moving to new climate.
    • Check on new tax laws.
    • Get passports and visas.
    • Get work permits.
    • Get customs exit and entry forms for pets and household goods.
    • Get medical records.
    • Get medical certificates.
    • Get immunization records.
    • Get certificates of registration.
    • Get residence permit.
    • Get international driver’s license.
    • Get marriage license, adoption papers.

    • Cost Checklist

    • Check land transfer taxes.
    • Check tax increases, deductions and exemptions for move.
    • If the company is moving your family, check what they will pay for: hotels , meals, movers, house-hunting tips, transportation of family, moving insurance, storage, lawyer’s fees, loss on house sale or rent, mortgage penalties, real estate commissions, overlapping expenses, travel for spouse prior to move, housing policy.
    • Net revenue from selling or renting current home.
    • Cost of new home.
    • Check lawyer’s fees.
    • Check mortgage transfer.
    • Will there be an increase in mortgage costs?
    • Will there be a lapse in pay checks during move?
    • Check mover’s fee.
    • Check other costs re: move transportation, food, kennels, and sitter.
    • Check living expenses in new community.
    • Will you need a second car?
    • Check new land taxes and personal taxes/exemptions.
    • Renovations to new home.
    • Maintenance costs to new home.
    • Check real estate brokers fee if selling.
    • Check penalty if lease is broken if renting or subletting.

    • Will there be an overlap of mortgage payments?

    • Storage Checklist.
    • Get packing paper, pad for inventory, marking pens.
    • Boxes or containers for packing.
    • Heavy twine or masking tape.
    • Empty gasoline from lawnmowers, outboard motors, etc…
    • Remove batteries from toys or appliances.
    • Mark cartons as to contents and where to be placed.
    • Set aside things you will carry in your car in cartons marked “Do Not Load.”
    • Mark clearly cartons you want loaded last, unloaded first.
    • Take a telephone book with you.
    • Tie or take mops, brooms, curtain rods in bundles.
    • Point out or mark especially fragile or delicate items.
    • Carry currency, jewelry and valuable papers yourself.
    • Do not overload draws when packing items in dressers.
    • Liquids in bottles should have tops on them secured.
    • Blankets are best moved in large boxes: towels and pillows may be packed in dresser draws.
    • Large mirrors, glass table tops and valuable pictures can be crated.
    • Books should be packed on edge in small boxes.
    • Carton weight should not exceed 60 pounds.
    • All boxes should be tied securely.
    • Pack all lampshades in boxes by themselves.
    • Do not leave shelves loose in refrigerator or stove.
    • Small appliances should be wrapped and packed in the bottom of boxes.
    • Do not pack cleaning products in same box as food.
    • Do not pack heavy articles on top of shoes.
    • Place heavy china items at bottom of box: all flat pieces should be placed on edge.
    • Small items should be packed in a small box inside a larger one.
    • Move clothes in a wardrobe box supplied by mover.
    • Drapes can be moved in wardrobe boxes also.
    • Do not roll mattress or rugs; leave for mover (special cartons).
    • Do not wrap articles of furniture or tie with rope.
    • Large power tools should be dismantled for moving.
    • Leave furniture in place for movers to move.
    • Take down any fixtures fastened to wall.

    • Storage

    • Check rates.
    • Will the same company move and store?
    • Check security measures; conditions of storage area.
    • Ensure that you have access to necessary items.

    • Moving Day; Leaving

    • Be on hand for movers.
    • Keep personal luggage away from movers.
    • Arranger for a few favorite toys for children.
    • Put all valuables in a safe place.
    • Get floor plan of new home.
    • Arrange for supplies for transition period.
    • Make shopping list for first day.
    • Get keys to new home.
    • Have meters read.
    • Disconnect telephone.
    • Ensure doors and windows are locked.
    • Notify police and neighbors.
    • Heat turned down?
    • Have necessary papers, traveler’s checks, money, tickets, and documents with you.
    • Arrangements for sitter on arrival.
    • Final check of cupboards, rooms, basement, garage, attic.
    • Keep copy of mover’s inventory with you or in a safe place in case of serious loss or damage.

    • Arriving:

    • Have children, pets elsewhere if possible.
    • Be on hand for movers.
    • Check off numbered boxes.
    • Check each carton for damage or loss.
    • List claims for lost or damaged articles.
    • Check supply of heating fuel.
    • Unpack everything.
    • Get appliances hooked up.
    • Get utilities turned on, or meters read.
    • Plan for the day’s meals or ask neighbors for nearest restaurants.
    • Get kitchen and bedrooms set up first.

    • Selling Your House Checklist.

      1. Make the most of that First Impression
        • Keep lawn trimmed and edged in summer.
        • Clutter free porch.
        • Keep entrance and stairways clear.
        • Freshly painted or scrubbed front door.
        • Raked leaves.
        • Clear ice and snow from walks and veranda in winter if applicable.
        • Use a painter or landscaper to help if not so inclined yourself.
      2. Invest in a few Hours of Future Dividends
        • Keep windows clean and spotless.
        • Clean and keep bathrooms and kitchen spotless.
        • Keep beds made and bedrooms clutter free.
        • If woodwork is scuffed or paint fading, touch up/refresh.
        • Fresh wallpaper adds charm and value.
        • Give house thorough cleaning from top to bottom.
        • Clear and clean out basement.
        • Have all appliances in good working order.
        • Repair defects that can annoy buyers (drippy taps, sticking doors/drawers, loose tiles, sticking cabinet or closet doors).
        • If possible, leave when salesperson is showing house.
        • Do not accompany salesperson or inspections tour.
        • Keep pets out of the house.
        • Turn off radios, television, stereo.
        • Do not discuss price with buyer; agent will do that.
        • Turn on all lights to brighten rooms.
        • Keep live plants, flowers for cheery note.

      Other tips when showing your home:

        • Remove any slippery throw rugs or low hanging lights.
        • Store all excess stuff from attic/garage/bonus rooms/basement areas.
        • Organize closets.
        • Get rid of excess furniture in bedroom-use colorful bedspreads and
        • Fresh curtains to freshen and cozy it up.
        • Pull back curtains drapes – brighten up the rooms in daytime.
        • Use all the outside and inside lights for night time showings.
        • Keep pets away for showing.
        • Turn off loud music – use soft classical.
        • Leave furniture in place till house is sold.

    For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

    Am I in the business of selling houses?

    People sell there own house with the belief that they are saving a commission. They look at the average on a house and remember stories of friends or relatives who managed to get through the process with seemingly little trouble. “Other people have sold their own homes,” they say – “so why can’t I?”

    Approximately 10 percent of American homeowners handle their own sales. But in order to do this, you’ll need to realistically assess exactly what’s involved. The routine parts of the job involve pricing your house accurately, determining whether or not a buyer is qualified, creating and paying for your own advertising, familiarizing yourself with enough legal regulations to understand (and possibly even prepare) a real estate contract , and coordinating the details of a closing. These are serious responsibilities to take on, and they include the concerns that your house is only on the market when you’re home, your marketplace is limited to those you can reach locally, and a mistake may cost you the money you’re trying to save. Commissions are negotiable. You can talk with a broker to discuss the level of services you will require to sell your home and determine an agreed upon commission rate based upon the services provided.

    The best reason for working with a real estate broker is the enormous amount of information they have at their disposal – information that can help make your house sell faster and easier. Professionals know about trends, houses in your neighborhood, and the people most likely to buy in such neighborhoods. They also know People who may be interested in your house (both through old-fashioned sales skill and the Internet resources of a reputable real estate company), and are trained in areas like screening potential buyers and negotiating with them. Finally, they’re always “on-call,” and willing to do the things most of us don’t: working on the weekends and answering the phone at all hours.

    What makes a house sell?

    This entire page could be devoted to answering this question. But to be as concise as possible, a successful sale requires that you concentrate on six considerations: your sale price, your terms of sale, the condition of your house, its location, its accessibility, and the extent of marketing exposure your house receives. While some of these factors are beyond your control (such as the actual sale price), you can compensate by taking advantage of others (like a new paint job) to make your property as attractive to prospective buyers as possible.

    Timing in Listing a House

    The “best” time to list your house is actually as soon as you decide to sell it.

    If you want to get the best price for your house, the key is to give yourself as much time as possible to sell it. More time means more potential buyers will probably see the house. This should result in more offers; it also gives you time to consider more options if the market is slow or initial interest is low.

    Are Markets Seasonal?

    Peak selling seasons vary in different areas of the country, and weather has a lot to do with it. For example, late spring and early fall are the prime listing seasons in many areas because houses tend to “show” better in those months than they do in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. And of course, people like to do their house shopping when the weather is pleasant.

    But keep in mind that there are also more houses on the market during the prime seasons, so you’ll have more competition. So while there is seasonality in the market, it’s not something that should dominate your decision on when to sell.

    What about market conditions — price trends,rates and the economy in general? Should they affect when I list

    Probably not. Even if you’re under no pressure to sell, waiting for better market conditions is not likely to increase your profit potential.


    Create a “fact sheet” about your house and neighborhood and distribute it to as many people as possible.

    What is the normal selling time?

    Average listing times vary from 30 to 180 days, according to market conditions in a particular region, town, or even neighborhood, and of course, price, terms, condition, location, accessibility and exposure play an even greater role. Selling in any market is easier if you keep time on your side. Most professionals will tell you that allowing yourself at least six months will put you in a position to get a better return from their marketing efforts.

    What if I have to move and my House is not yet sold?

    This situation can arise for any number of reasons. For instance, getting the job promotion you’ve been waiting for may mean having to relocate very quickly. Another example: you finally find your “dream home,” and need to get it under contract before it sells to another buyer. Whatever the reason, don’t panic. You have some viable alternatives to the worrisome possibility of double mortgage payments.

    If you don’t have to sell in order to buy a new home, consider the advantages and disadvantages of renting your old house. If you’re being transferred before you’ve had a chance to decide on the new house, you may be able to obtain a short-term rental of your own while you’re becoming familiar with the new area. Either way, a local real estate professional can usually help, by advising you how much you can expect to pay for rent in your new city, or what you need to charge for your current home to both cover your mortgage payments and take care of other costs you’ll entail as a landlord.

    The Listing Price

    How is a home priced?

    Always price your property sensibly.

    It is important to be realistic about your home’s value and price it accordingly. To determine the fair market value, a real estate professional can supply information on comparable homes that have sold or gone under contract in your area.

    How do determine my fair market value?

    Simply put, the fair market value of a house is the highest price an informed buyer will pay, assuming there is no unusual pressure to complete the purchase.

    To get an estimate of fair market value, contact the RESNC office and ask for a (CMA) Comparative Market Analysis of your house. The analysis will give you a realistic figure based on the most salient features of the local real estate market. It should provide information about recent sales of similar houses, including how much they sold for and how long it took. The real estate professionals price opinion is very helpful in determining the right listing price.

    The Difference between the listing price and the CMA

    You can assume that some negotiation will be necessary to reach an agreement with a buyer. The professional who presents you with the results of your CMA will provide all the data that establishes fair market value. Then, based on your own timing and marketplace variables, your real estate professional will be willing to help you establish a competitive pricing strategy. Generally speaking, the owner’s asking price — the advertised price of a house when it goes on the market — is set slightly higher than fair market value.

    Where to go for the right listing price

    Real estate sales professionals at RESNC suggest asking prices based on a wide array of information you may not have at your disposal, including recent listings and selling prices of houses in your neighborhood. If you’re not completely confident in their suggestions, you may want to order an appraisal.

    Next, establish clear priorities. If you had to choose, are you more concerned with selling quickly, or getting the best price?

    Someone else — a neighbor, friend or relative — may point out advantages or disadvantages about your house that you hadn’t thought about. Third-party views will help you start thinking of your house as a commodity, with positive and negative selling points. Then you should decide on a price that you feel is competitive and consistent with what other houses in your area have sold for.

    Should I leave some wiggle room in the asking price?

    Generally, the first three weeks will be the test period of your initial asking price. If you see showings drop off and very few return visits, you may want to consider repositioning your asking price. Most buyers leave room for negotiation when they make an offer. Thus, a certain degree of flexibility is usually called for on the part of both the buyer and seller.

    While it is ultimately your decision to accept or reject an offer, or present a counter-proposal, a good sales professional can be of great assistance to you during the negotiating process. In fact, negotiation is one of the valuable skills a real estate professional can offer you. As negotiations proceed — whether in writing, face-to-face, or by phone — your agent will inform you of your options in responding to each offer from the buyer, so you can make an educated decision as to how you want to proceed.

    Selling Readiness

    When to fix my house.

    Unless your house is nearly new, chances are you’ll want to do some work to get it ready to market. The type and amount of work depend largely on the price you’re asking, the time you have to sell, and the present condition of the house.

    If you’re in a hurry to sell, do the “little things” that make your house look better from the outside and show better inside. Read on for several specific ideas for making low-cost improvements.

    First Impressions

    Curb Appeal is a common term for everything prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to turn in and take a look. Improving curb appeal is critical to generating traffic. While it does take time, it needn’t be difficult or expensive, provided you keep two key words in mind: neat and neutral.

    Neatness sells. New paint, an immaculate lawn, picture-perfect shrubbery, a newly sealed driveway, potted plants at the front door — put them all together, and drive-by shoppers will probably want to see the rest of the house.

    Then, for both the inside and outside of your house, if you’re going to repaint, choose neutral colors, and keep clutter and personal knick-knacks, photos, etc. to a minimum. Remember, when a family looks at a house, they’re trying to paint a picture of what it would be like as their home. You want to give them as clean a canvas as possible.

    What should I do to make the house show better?

    First, make your house look as clean and spacious as possible. Remember, people may look behind your doors — closet and crawlspace doors, as well as those to the bedrooms and bathrooms. So get rid of all the clutter; rent a storage space if you need to, hold a garage sale or call a local charity.

    After you’ve cleaned, try to correct any cosmetic flaws you’ve noticed. Paint rooms that need it, re-grout tile walls and floors, remove or replace any worn-out carpets. Replace dated faucets, light fixtures, and the handles and knobs on your kitchen drawers and cabinets if needed.

    Finally, as with the outside of your house, try to make it easy for prospective buyers to imagine your house as their home. Clear as much from your walls, shelves, and countertops as you can. Give your prospects plenty of room to dream. Use the RESNC Check List to get specific ideas on how to make your house look its best. Additionally, ask your real estate professional for any company brochures on the subject. Such materials are usually free and extremely helpful to most homeowners.

    Showing Tip: Before you list, give your house a bath — most equipment rental shops carry power washers.

    Should I make any major home improvements?

    Certain home improvements that are useful to almost everyone have proven to add value or speed the sale of houses. These include adding central air conditioning to the heating system; building a deck or patio; finishing the basement; doing some kitchen remodeling (updating colors on cabinets, countertops, appliances, panels, etc.); and adding new floor and/or wall coverings, especially in bathrooms. On the other hand, improvements that return less than what they cost are generally ones that appeal to personal tastes that not everyone may share, like adding fireplaces, wet bars and swimming pools, or converting the garage into an extra room.

    The challenge that comes with any home improvement designed to help sell your house is recouping your investment. There’s always the risk of over-improving your house — that is, putting more money into it than neighborhood prices will support. So how much is too much? Professional renovators have found that, no matter how much you improve any given house, you’re unlikely to sell it for more than 15 percent above the median price of other houses in the neighborhood, whether you do $1,000 worth of work or $50,000. That’s why you might want to ask your Realtor’s opinion about the viability of recouping the cost of any major renovation you have in mind before you start the work.

    Should I do the work myself?

    If you have the time and talent, do-it-yourself improvements are the most cost-effective way to go. Painting, wallpapering, replacing cracked trim and old plumbing fixtures — the difference between work done by a competent amateur and a professional is usually time and money. Just make sure you don’t tackle something you can’t handle — this is no time for “on-the-job training.” If you’re not experienced, it may be worth calling in a professional.

    Larger jobs involving mechanical systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.), or work that must meet local building codes, are another story. Even if you or the family handyman know exactly what you’re doing, it’s not a good idea to engage in this type of work unless you’re licensed to do so. Your attempts could make you responsible for more than you realize if something you worked on goes wrong after you sell.

    Am I liable for repairs after I sell?

    Yes. If the buyer’s inspection reveals major problems with your house’s structure or mechanical systems (heating, electrical, plumbing, etc.), the buyer may wish to negotiate the price downward on the basis of anticipated repair costs. So even though the repairs won’t be made until after the sale, practically speaking, you’ll be paying for them.

    Sometimes, repairs may be required before the transfer of title takes place. This is especially true in sales that involve financing that’s insured or guaranteed by the government (for example).

    You may also have heard about lawsuits involving sellers who failed to disclose major problems before the sale — like an addition to the house that wasn’t built to code. Most states now maintain very specific disclosure laws that require sellers to disclose any pertinent information related to the condition of the property. For example, most states require sellers to notify buyers about the presence of any lead-based paint. It is important for you to be knowledgeable about your state’s disclosure laws.

    These are just a few good reasons to retain a lawyer or sales professional who know as much about the condition of your property as you do.

    Home Warranties

    What about home warranties? Are they available to sellers as well as buyers?

    Yes they are, and they’re worth investigating. It’s easy to see why. After a buyer has invested substantial funds in a down payment and moving expenses, the last thing they want to worry about is a costly home repair. With a Home Warranty Plan they don’t have to.

    The warranty offers protection for you and your buyer, covering repair or replacement costs for breakdowns to most major systems and built-in appliances for up to a year after the date of closing. In many states, there is no additional cost to sellers who provide coverage for their buyers, except for a small deductible if you make a claim. And when you consider the peace of mind that comes with knowing 24-hour emergency service is always just a phone call away, it’s hard to imagine a better investment. Ask your RESNC agent for details.

    Showing Tip: Buyers want kitchens to be spotlessly clean and efficient, with as much counter space as possible.

    Marketing Your Home

    How do I reach the right potential buyers?

    Today, people are moving farther and more frequently than they used to; it’s not unusual for upwardly mobile executives to relocate across the country more than once in a year. The result is that the pool of potential buyers for your house is much larger and spreads far wider than ever before, and the competition to reach them is fierce.

    These developments make it more important than ever to choose the real estate company with the most sophisticated and savvy marketing techniques. Companies with much-visited Web sites, extensive available listings, web tools designed to help consumers buy and sell, and prominent, effective advertising and marketing materials are essential for identifying the right buyers and convincing them that yours is the house for them. The yard sign is just the beginning, but with a knowledgeable sales professional, your selling process can promptly reach a happy ending.

    What’s an MLS and why do I need one?

    An MLS or Multiple Listing Service is another resource to help ensure you reach a large number of prospective buyers and dramatically increase the exposure of a property.

    Quite simply, it’s a system under which participating brokers agree to share commission on the sale of houses listed by any one of them. So, for example, if you list your house with one broker and another broker actually sells it, they share the commission. The advantage to you is clear; more people have an interest in selling your house.

    Over the years, the MLS concept has grown from a strictly local sales tool into a powerful national marketing system.

    Showing Tip: Remove any attached decorative items – e.g., chandeliers, stained glass, etc. — that you don’t intend to sell with the house.

    How important is advertising?

    Advertising remains an important component in the marketing process. Today, however, this means much more that an ad placed in the local newspaper. Today’s real estate brokers have the knowledge and resources to market your home through an array of proven modern methods, including TV, magazines, radio, the Internet and direct mail in addition to traditional print advertising. They are trained to determine where the pool of buyers for your particular property might most likely be found and from that, can best determine the type of advertising that is best for your property.

    Open House

    What should I expect from an open house?

    The open house is another valuable part of the marketing process, offering prospective buyers the chance to view houses in a low-pressure, “browsing” atmosphere. With that in mind, you shouldn’t expect it to generate a sale, at least not directly. What you should look for is interest expressed and requests for private showings made to your sales professional in the days following the open house.

    Open houses are always valuable. If many prospective buyers attend, it shows you that the property is attractive and saleable. If very few people show up, it can indicate that the price is too high, and cause you to look for ways to improve Curb appeal. Try not to draw your own conclusions – your agent will give you a full report on open–house activity and offer a professional assessment of its results.

    Sales professionals often hold an open house for other sales professionals shortly after a house is listed. This event, usually held mid-week when real estate people can give it their full attention, can be as important to your efforts as your listing in the local MLS. The more professionals who see your house, the more prospects you’re likely to reach.

    Should I try to avoid being at home when the house is shown?

    You should definitely plan to be out of the house during any open house your sales professional has scheduled; the same goes for first showings to prospective buyers. People often feel uncomfortable speaking candidly and asking questions in front of current owners. You want them to feel as free as possible to picture your house as their “dream home.”

    Who actually sells my house?

    In legal terms, a real estate sales professional is an individual trained and licensed to act for other people looking to buy or sell a piece of property. While that definition applies to both the buyer’s agent,seller’s agent or a dual agent, the brokers involved are permitted to collect fees and/or commission for such work.

    Thus, the sales professional – with whom you have most of your day–to–day contact – works on behalf of, and is compensated by, the broker.

    Will my sales professional be present at the closing?

    If you wish. while the law does not require their presence, both the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent may attend the closing. Even though most of the procedures are handled by the lenders, title companies, and in some cases an attorney, you’ll find that your sales professional can be a valuable source of information and counsel, especially if any last–minute problems arise. Good sales professionals are also extremely helpful in the days immediately prior to the closing. They’ll help you prepare by giving you a step-by-step preview of the entire process and what will be expected of you. And they’ll make certain you bring all necessary documents and other information.

    Working with a Real Estate Professional

    What makes a sales professional effective?

    We believe good training and experience make the best sales professionals. But the truth is, not every sales professional is right for every seller. That’s why we suggest that you follow this simple formula to help you decide whether a particular sales professional will work well for you.

    Competence + Comfort = Confidence:

    Competence: When you first meet with a real estate professional, they’ll do their best to show you that they have what it takes to sell your house. You can expect to see a portfolio of credentials, past achievements, sales volume and letters of recommendation. Look for evidence that their background is relevant to your needs. The sales professional you choose should also be up-to-date on the current pool of potential buyers for houses like yours; professionals can stay informed of this through real estate company Web sites, such as, and industry networking.


    The importance of being comfortable with your sales professional as a person cannot be overstated. You’re going to be dealing with this individual on a regular basis, maybe for months, during a time that can be emotionally trying for you and your family.

    It takes a unique combination of these two characteristics – competence and comfort – to inspire the confidence a homeowner needs to maintain peace of mind through the process of selling a house. It’s something for which every RESNC sales professional strives. Southern Style with a Smile is more than a tagline. It’s our way of doing business.

    How do I find the sales professional who’s right for me?

    A good place to start is by talking to friends, neighbors, and relatives – anyone whose recommendation you trust. You can also try responding to RESNC’s local advertising, direct mail, or Web site profiles. If they have the resources and initiative to maintain such a presence in your marketplace, it’s a good sign that they may have the sales skill you’re looking for.

    Do I have to pay a commission even if I find the buyer?

    That depends on the type of listing you agree to. If you sign an exclusive agency contract, you may sell the house on your own without paying a commission. In an exclusive right-to-sell agreement, you owe a commission even if you find the buyer. Which type you choose may largely depend on which sales professional you work with and how much trust you place in his or her abilities (as well as how much time and expertise you feel you have to devote to finding a buyer and negotiating a contract on your own.)

    What is the advantage of an exclusive right-to-sell?

    Incentive – it lets sales professionals know that their time and effort will not go unrewarded. That’s one reason the great majority of residential listings are marketed under exclusive right-to-sell agreements.

    What if my sales professional doesn’t produce?

    Besides fee, the most important matter you negotiate at the time of listing your house with a broker is the duration of the listing contract. Terms vary, but listing agreements are seldom for less than three months or greater than one year.

    But what if you find yourself dissatisfied midway through a nine-month contract? While the listing contract is legally binding, some brokers offer homeowners an “out” if they are unhappy with the services they are receiving. The RESNC Commitment to Service is one example of such a satisfaction-guarantee, and more information about it is available at the end of this section.

    Why list my house with an RESNC Broker?

    Exclusive services that can make selling your house faster and easier, and unparalleled expertise in local and national markets – those are two of the most important reasons why no one can sell your house more effectively than an RESNC professional.

    Beyond that, we’re sincerely interested in helping make the experience of selling your home as smooth and easy as possible. So even if you’re not ready to list your house – if you simply have questions about the market in your area, price or mortgage trends, or anything else about Real Estate it relates to you — just pick up your phone and call the RESNC office nearest you. As our tagline states, Southern Style Wit a Smile.