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    Real Views by: Sherry Campbell

    The Houston real estate market has been about as consistent as oil prices and the weather lately! Let’s face it, if we are completely honest, 2017 was not a great year to sell a home. Houston was hit hard by unstable oil prices, and then Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc the last quarter. It is tough to sell a home when buying activity drops to half of what we saw in the first two quarters of 2017. If your home sat on the market for 3-6 months with little activity, don’t feel bad–a lot of sellers experienced the same thing.

    I received calls from a lot of anxious sellers last year, and although I would love to tell every seller that I have some magical potion to sell homes in any market, I prefer to be honest and up front from the beginning. While every detail like staging, photos, updates, and pricing made a difference, there were no guarantees that this would sell your home.

    2017 was as upredictable as oil prices. It was not surprising to see a neighbor’s house go under contract with multiple offers while the one across the street sat with little showings. The “wow” houses continued to sell as well as homes priced under market. What creates that “wow” factor in a home? While every seller believes that they have the most beautiful home in the neighborhood (and they should), they may have missed all the changes in home design over the last 10 years. Below are some of the “wow” factors that could help a home sell faster in today’s market:

    • Large back yard with pool, outdoor kitchen, or living space. The average back yards are a dime a dozen in Houston, but I have seen an impressive back yard sell a house in days. If you have a small yard, your realtor may give you some tips to make it more appealing.
    • Open living spaces and high ceilings. This is something that is not easy to change and may not be characteristic for your neighborhood. Buyers today like open spaces and in Texas we entertain in our kitchen. An open kitchen gives you more breathing room.
    • Updated Kitchen. White cabinets and counters have been the rage for the last 5 years. If you have old wood cabinets, think about painting them. Not only will it update your kitchen, but it will makeyour kitchen look larger. If appliances are old, this may be a decent investment to help your home sell faster.
    • Update bathrooms. Updating a bathroom is a lot less expensive than a kitchen. A bathroom can often be updated with new counters, faucets, and lights. Don’t have a budget to update? You would be amazed at how new faucets and lights can transform a bathroom. Add a framed mirror and neutral shower curtain. These are details that a professional realtor can offer guidance on.
    • Fresh paint and flooring.A fresh coat of paint can transform a house and make it look new again. Believe it or not, the reds and tans are no longer in style. A neutral color palette will appeal to a greater number of buyers and help your house sell faster. My go to color is Accessible Beige by Sherwin Williams. Flooring can be a lot more expensive, and you may not have the budget for it. If carpet and floors are in good shape, a good cleaning can make a big difference. Don’t forget to clean dingy grout!

    These tips will help your house sell faster in a down market. 2018 is heating up, so it may not be necessary to update and improve your house in the next few months, but a clean, fresh smelling home will always give a better first impression. Remember that buying a home is an emotional decision in most cases. A clean and well staged home has a better chance of giving a buyer warm fuzzies about living there.

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