Preparing to Sell – Staging the outside of your home

Here is a list of items to make your outdoor space show-ready. It is not meant to cause stress, just do what you can, in the time you have. The most important items, for greatest visual impact are at the top of the list. These items will give you the biggest bang for your time but if you make it through the list, not only will your likelihood of selling quickly increase, but the home inspector will have less to put on his inspection report.

  • Re-paint the outside and trim of your home, if chipping or dull. First impressions are so important!
  • Clean out your entry way. Sweep the cob webs away and tidy up. You can make it extra special with a wreath and some charming decor by the doorway.
  • Re-paint the front door and entryway for maximum impact. Buyers stand here, looking at the entry, while their agents, find the key and open the door.
  • Mow, trim and weed your yard.
  • Clean your decks, porches, furniture and grill to let your buyers know that the outdoor space is usable too.
  • Prepare your garden area, adding some color will entice buyers into your yard.
  • o Clean your garage and remove things for donation, a garage sale or stow things nicely for your move.
  • Clean your gutters. Grab a ladder, glove and long hose. Most important for this job is safety, so make sure you always put your ladder on stable ground. First clean the gutters themselves and then run the hose to do the final cleaning. Now move to the down spouts and make sure they are clean by running water through them. Lastly, and most important of all, make sure the downspouts have extensions on them so that the water is carried at least 5 feet from the foundation. Water causes expensive damage to foundations and if your buyers are using FHA loans, these will be required.
  • Clean your window wells. This helps with looks but can be an issues of water intrusion also. If your window wells are full, water can seep in through the windows and water staining will be called out by a home inspector during inspection.
  • Clean out your dryer vents. Ok, this is an indoor/outdoor task, but it is very important as clogged dryer vents can cause fires. Start from behind your dryer and use a dryer vent brush to push out the lint, then go to the exterior, remove the vent cover and grab all the lint you pushed out. Clean the vent and put it back on.
  • Finally, step to the curb and take a photo of your home. Look at the photo with a critical eye, as if you were a buyer, and see if there are any problem areas that you see, that you could correct.

I hope this checklist helps with your organization and cleaning. If need anyone to help with your tasks, just contact me and I can give you referrals.
As always, let me know if there is in the world that I can do for you!



This is it! The day you have been working forward to since you started thinking of buying or selling a home.
There are a few things you will need to prepare for to have a smooth closing day.

  1. Your identification.
    You will need to have a valid, current ID. Check it and make sure it is current! They will not except expired ID’s. If one is expired, please bring a different one or renew it. A passport, or driver’s license are the most commonly used ID’s.
    If you are a foreigner, you will need to provide two forms, but please check with your title closer to verify what will be accepted.
  2. The Funds.
    Both sides of the transaction will have to decide how to transfer funds.
    If you are the buyer and have a loan, your lender will need to get the funds to the closing table on time. You will likely have to pay the portion of the payment that is not covered by the earnest money or loan. This amount is found on the Buyer’s Settlement statement. Most money usually goes in via electronic transfer, but it can be with a cashier check also. Check with your title closer to see if the amount you must bring is too large to be paid with a cashier check, some title companies do have limits on how much can be via cashier check. A personal check will not be accepted.
    If you are the seller, in most cases, you will be receiving money. You get to decide if you want a cashier’s check or want it transferred electronically. The is often a fee for the electronic transfer. Let you title company know your account info so any transfer can take place seamlessly.
    Warning! There are a lot of scams related to electronic transfers to title companies today. Always double check with a live person, that you called, that the routing information is correct. If you ever receive an email from the title company stating the routing number has changed, do not believe it and call your title company.
  3. Documents. Documents. Documents.
    If you are the Buyer, you need to do some hand and finger stretching before arriving. You will be signing a very large loan packet and the closer will describe what each one is. You will also sign the deed of trust, the bill of sale and other documents related to the title transfer. You will also be signing off on the Buyer’s Settlement Statement which tells you exactly where your money is going and the total cost to you. Please review this carefully and don’t be afraid to slow the process down so you understand the numbers. This is also a document you will want to save for tax time as you maybe able to write off some of the costs.
    If you are Seller, you get it easier, as you don’t have to sign the large loan packet. Your signing is limited to the title closing documents and the Seller Settlement Statement. Look these over carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will also want to save this document for tax time.
  4. Keys.
    Now the ceremonial passing of the keys, handshakes and hugs and you are done.

Please note that not all closings are the same so if you are doing something special like a 1031 exchange, you are upside down in your home value, there maybe some other pieces added to the closing. I will prepare you for the differences and you are always welcome to contact me.

I am always here for you, well beyond the close date, if you need further assistance with referrals to good service people, want to know the value of your home, have questions on the market, want to invest in real estate, or are ready for a new one. Just contact me and I can help.

Congratulations you are ready for your closing!

Laurell Richey

Keeping a Home Maintenance Log

Keeping your Home Maintenance Log by: LAURELL RICHEY

Keeping a record of what you have done to your home, when, what it cost, who did the work, any warranties etc. is, of course, a great idea, but even more importantly, it inspires confidence in your home, for your future buyer.

As a realtor, I have seen some very spectacular home maintenance logs. This probably sounds like a funny thing to say, but any log, especially a very organized one, does have a HUGE impression on buyers and that translates into FASTER SALES and possibly MORE MONEY.

Of all the homes I have viewed with buyers, probably only about 5 have had maintenance records left out on a counter for potential buyers to view and, of those, about 2 have been a true thing of beauty. ALL OF THEM have made a positive impression and the immaculately organized ones almost sell the house. Here is what goes through the buyer’s head; they see the book and get a bit excited, peruse it a bit, call their significant other over, and together they look at it. Usually they then say how wonderful it is to know about the house and then comes the money statement, “well, they really cared for the house, we don’t have to worry about this one”. They then view the rest of the home believing that this one is a gem, has been well cared for, and they likely won’t have to negotiate during inspection. BAM, if they like the basics of the home, it usually makes it’s way to the top of their list. This is a sad tale for all those other homes that have also been lovingly cared for, but if you don’t tell the buyer how to view your home (i.e as a gem), they won’t assume it has been well taken care of. Woe is the home with no maintenance log.

Don’t worry about the past, start now. You can buy a multiple pocket file folder at any office store to keep all your warranty and instruction books in as well as receipts etc. Then, open Microsoft Excel and type in HOME MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE. Up will pop a premade template with columns for: category, activity, description and date. You can alter this to suit your needs, print it or keep it electronic and then just note all the jobs perform. Take particular care to enter the biggies such as a new a/c, water heater, furnace, roof etc. When you do prepare to sell, just print this out and put it on the counter with your multi-pocket file folder and BAM, you get to move to the top of the class in your buyer’s mind.

Image Source:

Some other items to record:

  1. Paint codes- so you can get touch-up paint easily and your new buyers can also.
  2. Furnace filter size- so you don’t have to pull out the filter before heading to the store.
  3. In New Builds- take photos of the walls before they are drywalled, so you know where electrical and HVAC systems run so you don’t try to hang a painting and you take out the power or puncture your HVAC system in the process.
  4. All major purchases such as systems (a/c, water heater, furnace) and appliances (dishwasher, stove, laundry machines)
  5. Maps of sprinkler systems.
  6. Garden beds and trees planted
  7. Smart upgrades, such as setting your electronic door.
  8. Anything else you do.
  9. HOA info

Don’t beat yourself up for what you have already done just make brief notes and move forward. What ever you can do WILL have a great impact on your potential buyer and that could mean more money in your pocket at close.

For more information on these ideas or buying and selling in general, PLEASE contact me!

Home Warranty

I love home warranties!
I know some financial gurus warn against “wasting money” on
various warranties, and mostly, I agree, but not when it comes
to home warranties. About the only time I wouldn’t buy one is
if I was buying a new or almost new home with all new
A little about me…. I have bought quite a few older homes now.
Doing so is unpredictable, as it is just a matter of time before
the hot water heater goes, the furnace won’t come on or the
refrigerator dies. Now, I know that I can call a bunch of service
people and get the low-down on their trip charges, possible
rates etc. but that won’t answer the final question of how much
will it cost me or how good, or ethical their service will be?

Horror Story #1
Once I had a furnace guy come out and to his surprise, I went
into the crawlspace with him. For this, I was paying a $60 trip
charge. Once down there, without even opening it, he declared I needed a new furnace. I told him I thought he was going to
assess the problem and fix it. He then said there was a fee to
open the cover and find the issue (really, what was I paying for
then?). He did that and then said it needed to be replaced
without doing anything. I decided not to use him and hired a
more respectable repairman. He found the issue, and for a
small amount, replaced the part and it worked fine. 10+ years
later it is still working fine. You might think this was just one
bad instance but unfortunately, many of my furnace repair
stories have resulted in people just telling me to replace them
and it seems there is a high turn-over rate in the industry so it is
hard to keep the good ones.
Lessons Learned:

The warranty companies are motivated to fix the problem
and approved to replace the item if they can’t. They aren’t
there to sell you something you don’t need. They are not
motivated to jerk you around, it is a service call fee to you and that is all, they are paid by the warranty company for anything beyond the fee.

Horror Story #2
A refrigerator at one of my properties went out so I called 3 service companies, got estimates on trip charges and possible costs and I chose the one that sounded the best. After a lot of wasted time and calls back and forth between the tenant and I, and the service guy and I, we finally agreed on a time for him to go out. He did fix the fridge, but in doing so, he made racists comments about my sweet tenant It didn’t occur to me to screen for racists, and it did put me at risk of being sued for racism, as all landlords are responsible for those working for them. Now I can’t say that all service people from a home warranty company are not going to do this, but they have a longer history of working with their contractors and would have probably already dealt with these complaints and done something about it. The service people see these jobs as a long-term job for the warranty company and not just as a one-time job for someone they will never meet again, so they are more likely to act like professionals.
Lessons Learned:

  • One phone number for all problems is the bomb!
  • The service people contact the tenants to arrange a time to meet, you don’t need to be involved, or if it is your home, they call you and set the time.
  • The service people usually have a long-term relationship with the warranty company and are usually, super professional.
  • If they are not professional, you know the one number to call.

As I said, the greatest benefit is having 1 number to call which means you avoid having to interview people about the pricing, time frames and experience in a pinch. For a working, single mom, this is worth it’s weight in gold. The second most important benefit is that, for the price of a trip charge, you know that your appliance or major system will be fixed or replace within a reasonable span of time.

Not all Home Warranty Companies are the same so check the
small print to make sure they replace like item with like item. If
you installed a 3k refrigerator you don’t want it replaced with
an $800 one.
There are always basic plans and add-ons. When purchasing,
make sure you go over all the items in your house, especially
unusual ones like pool pumps, etc. These can be very
expensive, and you want to make sure you are covering what
you intend to cover.

Home warranties provide peace of mind as you are not as likely to be hit with some big, surprise bill. Since you pay monthly, or you can opt to pay yearly, most of your big-ticket items will be paid for by the warranty so you do not need to worry about large bills or maintaining as large of a repair fund.

My personal favorite is First American Home Warranty (970-404-5099) as they replace like with like items, usually are very responsive and are a good value. I have recently used American Home Shield (855-210-9541) and though the people who first answer the calls were not very knowledgeable, the people higher up on the ladder were and my issues were ultimately resolved. *

I’m always happy to talk with you about my experiences or help you with anything real estate related. Please feel free to contact me.

Laurell Richey- REMAX Alliance

*I do not receive any benefits from these referrals, these are truly my feelings about the providers.