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Want Top Dollar For Your Home? 3 Sure Fire Steps

posted Apr 16, 2012, 7:20 AM by Kristen Wheatley

Do you want to get top dollar when you sell your home?

get more money for your homeOf course you do!  Silly question!  I have yet to meet a homeowner who says, "I want you to sell my home, but I really don't care what I get for it, just get rid of it."

We Realtors are hard wired to get our sellers the highest possible price for their home.  Everyone wants it, but too often I meet sellers who get sidetracked on their way to getting their home ready for sale.

When we get ready to sell a home, it is only natural to start thinking of all of the "someday projects" we had planned.  You know the ones, all of those little (and sometimes not so little) renovation plans that we knew would increase the value of our home, but we just never got around to them.

Now is not the time to start on that list.  Let it go.  Save your energy and plans for your next home so that you will be the ones to enjoy the final results.

My father always said, "Don't make it harder."

As someone in the business of helping people move out of homes they don't want and into homes they do want, I have been able to see what works and what does not.  Through observation, experience, and research I can honestly say that there are 3 sure fire steps to take in order to get the most money for the sale of your home.

So forget, your long awaited renovation plans, keep it simple, and put your time and energy into these three areas.

3 Sure Fire Steps To Get More Money For Your Home

pack it upPURGE:  Your time in your home is coming to an end.  After all, you have chosen to move on.  Jump start this process by packing up or getting rid of clutter and extra furniture.  Your home does not need to be a mansion to be a showcase.  Nothing says "this home has no storage space" like overflowing closets, cabinets, and cluttered counter tops.  Even if you have 25 closets in your home, if they are all full, buyers will feel cramped and assume your home does not have enough storage.

Pack away your treasured nick nacks, and that wall of family photos.  Leave no more than 3 items on any surface.  This includes walls, counters, tables, etc.  This tip comes from a professional stager and I have seen the results myself.  Buyers need the space to feel open so they can start to picture themselves living in the home.

Remove any extra furniture that crowds the space or impedes traffic flow.  This makes even the smallest of rooms feel more spacious.

Paint everything!PAINT:  A fresh coat of neutral color paint is the least expensive and most effective way to give a home a face lift.  Your daughter may have loved her purples walls, but for every buyer that likes purple, there are 5 who will look at those walls and just think of the work it will take to cover them.  Don't give them a reason to cross your home off their list or to discount their offer.

CLEAN:  Yes, interestingly, cleaning is the single-most effective step you can take to get your home sold fast and for top dollar.  A sparkling clean home gives the buyers the feeling that the home has been well-maintained (even if it hasn't.)

cleanI'm not talking about a casual Saturday morning cleaning.  I mean clean "like your mother-in-law is coming!"  These little extra touches will make your home stand out in the buyer's mind.  Everyone wants to live in an immaculately clean home.  This is a pipe dream for many as busy lives interfere.  Tap into the psychology of that dream by making your home stand out.

Move the furniture and get all the corners, wash the light switch plates, get the dead bugs out of the light fixtures, the cobwebs in the corners, and make the appliances and windows sparkle!

To sum it up, forget about those big "someday projects."  My father is right.  Don't make it harder.  Focus on the things you can control.  Just keep to these 3 sure fire steps and you will find that you can keep your sanitysell your home faster, and get more money.

To get the most bang for your buck, you will need a Realtor who can maximize your efforts with an effective and far reaching marketing strategy.  Give me a call and I will happily show you the impact of proper and thorough marketing on the sale of your home.

Your Agent's Role In Price

posted Nov 9, 2011, 6:36 PM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Nov 9, 2011, 6:37 PM ]

While price and condition are the 2 factors within your control, your agent still does play a huge role.  The question for home sellers is…

“Would you rather hear the truth, or have a “yes man” agent?”

I firmly believe that almost all home sellers would rather hear the truth.

I don’t believe agent’s are trying to purposely lie to potential home sellers.  There are just some agents out there who seem so worried that they are going to disappoint or upset a homeowner, that they end up glossing over some of the harder truths.

Whenever I see this scenario play out I always think of Jack Nicholson’s famous line from A Few Good Men:  “You can’t handle the truth!” I would argue that yes, you not only can handle the truth, but you deserve it and should demand it.

Most homeowners only see the prices that homes are listed for, not what they actually sell for.  Your agent’s responsibility is to:

  • Provide you with good data.
  • Provide a thorough analysis of that data.
  • And provide recommendations for a pricing strategy that will meet your time frame and net you the most money possible from the sale of your home.

When a real estate agent presents their pricing recommendation to you, the first questions you should ask them is “Why?” A competent agent will not be offended and should have valid and detailed reasons and data they can point out to you that will support their price.

Why Didn't My House Sell?

posted Feb 7, 2011, 9:56 AM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Feb 19, 2011, 2:14 PM ]

Why Didn't My House Sell?  Questions & answers for frustrated homeowners.

Answering the tough questions!

When your home has been listed for sale and remains unsold, most people end up feeling frustrated and even angry. Now there is a new resource online for owners of unsold is a website designed to provide homeowners with ideas and answers and help guide you through the process of evaluating what went wrong and where to go from here.

If you are not in the mood to talk with a real estate agent and would prefer to take some time for yourself, this is the perfect place to start.


Why didn't my house sell?

The Tao Of Home Selling: Part II - How To Make Buyers Feel Confident About Your Home

posted Jan 22, 2011, 11:39 PM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 8:00 AM ]

The Tao of Home Selling Series is not about mystic secrets to selling your home.  The word Tao literally means "way" or "path."  My experience has shown me that there is more emotion and psychology involved in the choices of home buyers than most people realize.  As a home seller, you can use this knowledge to help guide home buyers down the path to choosing your home.  You need to make potential home buyers feel WELCOMECONFIDENT, and COMFORTABLE.  Create an environment where these three conditions are met and you will be well on your way to a successful home sale.

Previously, I detailed the first condition:  Making Buyers Feel Welcome.  Now we will look at real actions you can take right now to help buyers feel confident about choosing your home and making a solid offer.

How To Make Buyers Feel Confident

In order to get top dollar for your home, buyers need to feel confident about the condition of your home's systems and structure.  If they have doubts about the heating system, roof, foundation, or other major systems, they will move on or start subtracting from their offer anticipating needed repairs.  Most buyers tend to subtract twice the amount of the actual cost of a repair.

Here is the interesting part.  Buyers will make assumptions (good and bad) about the condition of your home's major systems based on other things they see in the home.  If a home is clean and tidy, buyers will assume the major systems have been maintained properly whether they have or not.  On the flip side, you may have always maintained all of the major systems in your home, but if the basement is full of cobwebs, there are dirty light switch plates, missing outlet covers, or the foundation can not be seen due to piles of boxes, buyers will assume that you have not maintained your home.  Their offer, if they make one, will reflect their assumptions about your home's condition.

If you have actual known problems, be sure to disclose them upfront and provide professional estimates for needed repairs.  This will prevent the buyers from over estimating the cost and help them to feel confident that you are being honest with them about the condition of the home.

Confidence Builders

  • Clean or replace light switch and outlet covers.
  • Touch up chipped or flaking paint on trim and moldings.
  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • Replace any non working light bulbs.
  • Make sure all windows and doors are functional and make any needed repairs.
  • CLEAN.  Nothing says that your home has been well-maintained like a clean and tidy home.
  • Dust off your furnace and sweep out the basement.
  • Remove all cobwebs and debris inside and out.
  • Re-organize to eliminate the need for extension cords.
  • Attend to the "honey-do" list.  Don't leave any unfinished projects.
  • Label the circuits in your electrical box.  Buyers LOVE this!...and yes, they will look.
  • Clean out the cabinets under all of your sinks and wash the drain pipes if needed.
  • Consider replacing dated light fixtures.  *Enlist the help of a professional if needed.
  • A fresh coat of paint can make the oldest of homes feel new again.

Read on for part III:  How To Make Buyers Feel Comfortable.

No-Hassle Home Evaluation Report

The Tao Of Home Selling: Part I - How To Make Buyers Feel Welcome

posted Jan 17, 2011, 6:45 PM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 8:03 AM ]

We all know the phrase "location, location, location."  This may be a truism in real estate, but you cannot change the location of your home.  You actually do have control over the greatest variable...your home's condition.  The condition of your home can add or subtract thousands from your bottom line.  Condition can be the reason your home is chosen before others on the market.  If you want to get top dollar for your home, then the condition must be in sync with the price and location.

tao of home sellingFortunately, there are MANY things you can do to improve the condition and appeal of your home.
Buyers do NOT see potential.  The reality is that you must show it to them.  Right now, buyers have a lot of choices.  You want to make your home the obvious choice for them.  The trick is to use what we know about buyers to guide them to that decision.  Hence the title of this series - The Tao of Home Selling.  Beyond my small effort to be clever, the word tao actually means "way" or "path."  A successful seller creates an atmosphere that naturally leads the buyer down the path to choosing their home.

How do you influence buyers?  My experience has shown me that a little psychology goes a long way.  Emotions and gut feelings often play a larger role in the choices of home buyers than logic or reason. You want potential buyers to feel WELCOMECONFIDENT, and COMFORTABLE.  Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to a successful home sale.

How To Make Buyers Feel Welcome

Ironically, the free and/or low cost actions are the most effective at making buyers feel welcome in your home.

Curb Appeal
  • De-clutter the yard by removing toys and excess or broken lawn furniture.
  • Cut the grass, rake the leaves, trim the bushes, and plant fresh flowers to add color (as the seasons allow.)
  • Paint doors and window trim with a fresh updated color.

  • Patch holes in the driveway and re-apply sealant as needed.
  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Keep snow and ice cleared from the driveway and walkways.
The Front Entry
  • Literally add a "welcome" mat.  You'd be amazed at how much this means to buyers.
  • Make sure the front entry light works and is free of cobwebs and other debris.
  • Make sure the front door and door knob are clean and in good repair.
Your Home's Interior
  • Make sure the interior front entry area is clear of extra furniture, coats, shoes, and other clutter.  Buyers are coming into your home with their Realtor and often a few extra family members.  If everyone feels crowded as they enter, they will not feel welcome and comfortable.
  • Open all of the blinds and curtains to let the sun shine in.
  • If light switches are difficult to find or confusing, turn them on before you leave your home in the morning.
  • Remove excess or over-sized furniture.  Uncrowded rooms feel more spacious and welcoming.
  • De-personalize your home.  Too much memorabilia and too many family photos make buyers feel as if they are intruding.  You want them to start thinking of your home as theirs.

Next we will take a look at how to make buyers feel confident.  See Part II

Get A No-Hassle Home Evaluation Report

I Think I'll Wait Until Spring

posted Jan 12, 2011, 5:24 PM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 8:04 AM ]

"I think I'll wait until spring to list my home for sale.  After all, that is really the best time to sell a home."

As a local Realtor®, I hear this statement from homeowners regularly.  If you truly want to sell your home in the summer or fall, then waiting until spring may be the best choice for you.  However, please do not wait because you think it will be easier to sell your home in the spring, or that you will get a better price.  This is a common misconception.

Many people do look at homes in the spring and summer months.  However, all of the people who look at homes are not home buyers.  Spring has a way of raising spirits, instilling hope, and inspiring people to think about their dreams for the future.  For many, this includes buying a home, or perhaps moving to a new town.  Hopes and dreams can often move ahead of realities and many of the folks touring homes are not actually able or ready to make an offer or purchase a home.

You can wait until spring and there will be more potential buyers, but there will also be a much higher number of homes on the market to compete with yours, in large part due to the commonly held belief stated above.  Pricing will need to be even more aggressive in order to make your home the best deal for buyers when it is one in a sea of choices available.

In contrast, the buyers who are looking at homes in the winter are generally in a position where they need to purchase a home.  They are serious and not interested in spending every weekend sightseeing and viewing homes for fun.  Basically, they are ready, willing, and able buyers.  Since many people have taken their homes off the market, waiting for spring, there is less competition for the homes that are currently listed for sale.

Wait for spring if that fits better into your plans, but please don't buy into the myth that spring is the "best" time to sell your home.  People buy and sell homes 12 months out of the year.  Each season brings it's own challenges and opportunities, but there is no one "best" season for home sales.  The best time to sell is when YOU want to sell your home.

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Top 3 Projects To Get Your Home SOLD!

posted Dec 28, 2010, 9:40 AM by Kristen Wheatley

I have spoken with many home owners who want to sell their home, but feel they must complete those long overdue renovations before they put their home on the market in order to get top dollar.  If this sounds like you, please read on before you make that costly trip to the local home store.

Despite the promises and claims of some renovation companies, the top 3 projects you can complete that will have the best return on your investment and have the biggest impact on the sale of your home are actually the cheapest to complete.  They may not be as flashy as a new kitchen or bathroom, but they will get you to your goal of a successful home sale quicker and with less headaches, AND you will recoup more money than you spend.

Chances are this big "industry secret" is something you already know in the back of your mind.  You have decided to sell your home and you have also decided that you are willing to do what it takes to get top dollar and be sure that yours is the home that sells quickly.  The irony here is that what it takes is much simpler than many of us think, so here they are...your top 3 profit making projects.

start packing1.  Start Packing!

After all, you will be moving.  The time to start packing away your extra items, knick knacks, out of season clothing, and all of those items you have accumulated is actually BEFORE you put your home on the market.  This will really open up your home and make it feel more spacious and welcoming to prospective buyers.  We are not going for an empty house here, but one with room to move about in, open counter space, and room in the closets and cabinets.

Even if you have tons of closets and cabinets in your home, if they are stuffed to the brim, buyers will get the feeling that there is not enough storage space in the home.  If every wall and surface is covered with photos and decorations, the home will feel cramped no matter how large the rooms are.  A good rule of thumb used by stagers and designers is no more than 3 items on any surface.  Buyers will also be more able to start picturing themselves in the home if they are not staring at your family photos and your personal treasures.

Don't forget about the garage, basement, or that "catch all" room you tend to put things in.  If you have the space, stack the boxes neatly against one wall.  If you don't have extra room, talk with family or friends about storing your items.  Renting a small storage space is even a good idea.  The small monthly cost of the storage unit will be worth it when your home sells more quickly and for more money.

Clean Clean Clean2.  Clean!

Not just any cleaning.  Clean like your mother in law is coming!  Now that you have packed away the items you will not need in the immediate future, this job will be easier.  This will be a traditional "spring cleaning" no matter what season it is.  Now is the time to vacuum every corner, clean out under the sinks, get those marks off the baseboard and doors, clean off the switch plates, around the light fixtures, and make those windows and floors shine.  Cleaning the carpets can also breath new life into them and remove any unwanted smells.  The simple act of a thorough cleaning gives the buyer the impression that the home has been well maintained.  A cluttered or dirty home makes a potential buyer worry about what they may not be seeing.  A clean and uncluttered home gives the buyer confidence that the home (and all its systems) has been taken care of.

Paint everything!3.  Paint with neutral colors.

Nothing spruces up a home like a fresh coat of paint.  Your daughter has enjoyed her bright purple room, and you may love your neon orange bathroom, but potential buyers look at this and see more work for themselves.  A move in ready home will sell more quickly and for more money than one that will require scraping, patching, and painting.  A fresh coat of medium tan may seem boring to you, but it is a welcome and calming sight to buyers.  If your ceilings look a bit dingy, don't forget to freshen them up with a coat of white ceiling paint.  This is the only project in the top 3 that will require a small investment beyond your own time and energy.  However, the return received for the cost of a few cans of paint, some brushes, and drop cloths is tremendous.

There you have it!  These top 3 projects will bring you a much larger return on investment than any well intentioned home renovation project.  Tackle these three and you will not only sell your home quicker and for more money, but you will also have saved yourself thousands in renovation costs that you can then use on your new home so that you will be the ones to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Lewiston-Auburn Market Report November 2010

posted Dec 14, 2010, 3:03 PM by Kristen Wheatley

How did home sales fare in the Lewiston/Auburn Maine area in November? Let's take a look.

Lewiston Maine 04240 Single Family Homes Sold in November 2010

Number of Homes Sold: 20
Average List Price:  $143,436
Average Sale Price: $136,956
Average Percentage of List $ At Sale: 95%
Average Days On Market: 103
% Distressed Properties of Total Sold: 20% (2 bank owned, 1 short sale, 1 HAP program)
Number of Homes Currently Listed:  153
Number of Homes Pending Sale:  25

Auburn Maine 04210 Single Family Homes Sold in November 2010

Number of Homes Sold:  8
Average List Price: $101,691
Average Sale Price:  $97,062
Average Percentage of List $ At Sale: 95%
Average Days On Market: 121
% Distressed Properties of Total Sold: 37.5% (2 bank owned, 1 short sale)
Number of Homes Currently Listed: 204
Number of Homes Pending Sale:  17

Comments: With fewer homes on the market, Lewiston continues to fare better than Auburn.  Both cities have a similar number of average days on market before a home sells, currently about 3-4 months.  Lewiston has both a higher list price and sales price, but homes in both of the twin cities are achieving an average of 95% of list price at the closing table. Prices for homes sold in November 2010 in Lewiston have increased 15% from homes sold in November of last year.  Auburn, however, had a dreary month of home sales this November with median sold prices decreasing 24% from November of last year.  At the moment, Auburn has a higher percentage of distressed properties (foreclosed and short sale) that appear to be impacting sales and prices.

If you are considering buying or selling a home in the Lewiston/Auburn Maine area, please give me a call. I would be happy to help you achieve your real estate goals.  For a detailed report of the market in your specific area, give me a call at 207-240-2250 or visit my website at

Data for home sales taken from the Maine Real Estate Information Systems, Inc. (MREIS) and is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.  Data used is from November 2009 and November 2010 and includes single family residential property.

A Toasty Maine Home is a Home That Sells!

posted Oct 31, 2010, 9:14 AM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Nov 15, 2011, 3:03 PM ]

As we head through fall and into winter, keep in mind that a toasty Maine home is a comfy Maine home...and a home that sells.

You are planning to sell your Maine home.  You have tackled your to do list, spiffied up, cleaned as if your mother in-law is coming for a visit, and are ready to get a Realtor and let the showings begin!

Warmth SellsNothing says "HOME" like a toasty house complete with a fire in the woodstove, pellet stove, or fireplace.  If you have a showing scheduled, be sure to open all interior doors, turn on the lights, open the curtains, and put some logs on the fire.  (be sure of course to observe all safety precautions*)

Keep in mind that most buyers are looking at several comparable homes on the same day.  They have been driving around with their agent and walking through the cold.  Many times, they are also viewing some vacant bank owned homes with NO heat.

Just imagine the difference your toasty home will showcase.

Behind door #1 we have a lovely, but empty and very cold house.  The buyers like the layout and the price, but aren't that anxious to spend too much time in the house.  Why?  Because "it just doesn't feel like home."

Behind door #2 we have another lovely home, not vacant, but the sellers turned the heat way down, closed all the doors, and left all the lights off to conserve energy since they were not home at the time.  Again, the buyers like it "OK," but it just doesn't grab their attention.

Now, after slogging through the damp cold, they approach door #3!  This time, they open the door, to find a well-lit and welcoming home and are instantly enveloped in WARMTH!  This draws them in as they go from room to well-lit & welcoming room.

Which one do you think will "feel like home?"

Never underestimate the importance of making potential buyers feel at home.

*safety note:  If you have a fireplace, be sure to check on your fire after the showing.

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The Maine Real Estate Network

34 Center Street   Auburn, ME 04210

home value207-689-9886



Information and content in this blog is original to 
Kristen Wheatley.

Before You Sign On The Dotted Line

posted Oct 31, 2010, 9:13 AM by Kristen Wheatley   [ updated Oct 31, 2010, 9:20 AM ]

You have decided to sell your Maine home, so what happens next? When you contact me to discuss selling your home I believe you have the right to know what to expect from me. I am a planner by nature and believe in that old saying "the harder I work, the luckier I get." I use a fine tuned, time tested process for selling homes that includes some very important steps that occur even before you sign on the dotted line to hire me.

Before you sign the listing agreement:

  • I have researched the details of comparable properties that have recently sold, are under contract, and your home's current competition.

  • You have given me the grand tour of your home and we have discussed your home's features, strengths and challenges, any repairs or touch ups that may be needed, and staging tips to help maximize your home's potential.

  • We have discussed your optimum time frame and preferred terms for the sale of your home and reviewed a seller net sheet showing the proceeds you will receive at various price points.

  • We have discussed the terms of the listing agreementshowing procedures, your preferred method of receiving showing feedback, and the monthly listing activity reports you will receive from me.

  • We have reviewed and discussed a customized marketing plan for your home and the optimummarketing strategy, which will be fine tuned even further over the next couple of days based on our conversations.

  • We have reviewed and completed the required disclosures for your home and assembled any needed documents.

And finally,

  • We have discussed the best pricing strategy for your home based on my research and analysis, and your time frame, and you have selected the listing price for your home.

Now you are ready to sign on the dotted line and experience the smoothest home sale possible.Preparation and communication are essential to a real estate experience with the least amount of stress possible. This preliminary process will empower us to be able to work together and achieve the successful sale of your home with the best terms possible, in the least amount of time.

Now the real fun begins!  Click here to find our about the 1st week in the life of your home's listing.

If you, or someone you know, needs my help, please do not hesitate to call me at 207-689-9886 or visit my website today at

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Keller Williams Realty Mid Maine

34 Center Street   Auburn, ME 04210

home value207-689-9886



Information and content in this blog is original to 
Kristen Wheatley.

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