Category Archives: Selling a Home

Selling a home. Everything you need to know about selling a home from how to get starting to staging your home to how to select your real estate agent.

The Appraisal Gap

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Appraisal Gap lately and how buyers have been using it to win in multiple offer situations but what is it and what does it mean?

The appraisal gap comes into play when the home appraises at a lower value than your offer price. When this happens in a normal situation you have options. You can pay the difference in cash between the appraised value and your offer or you can try to renegotiate a lower price with the seller. The first option assumes you have the cash to make this work and keep it together. The second option requires a seller who is willing to negotiate.

If the seller is not willing to negotiate you can request a second appraisal, which does come with an additional cost. The downside to this is that all parties need to agree because it may delay the transaction and the close date. If the parties don’t agree the transaction is cancelled due to the appraisal contingency clause.

If you have included an appraisal gap clause with your offer, you would automatically adjust the sales price and move forward. The appraisal gap clause was popular for sellers because it came with less risk of the deal falling apart and the seller having to go back on the market.

Using the appraisal gap is not always an option for buyers and some just simply don’t like the idea of paying more for the house than what it appraises for. This is why it’s important in a real estate transaction to understand all your options and what they mean for you.

10 Things Every Seller Should Do Prior to Selling

In a sellers market is it really necessary to prep your home for sale? The answer is yes. With house prices climbing higher and higher, buyers are bringing every dollar they can to secure the deal. Which is why buyers prefer and battle over well maintained, really clean homes with neutral yet trendy paint colors and beautiful decor… they can move right in!

Here are 10 things you can do to maximize interest, showings and offers on your property for todays buyers.

  1. Deep clean – This is one of the easiest things you can do. Deep clean every thing. And I mean everything. Clean your furniture, wash your windows, vacuum and wipe down every single surface.
  2. Declutter – Get rid of all the extra stuff that distracts from your homes best features. If you don’t want to take it with you now is definitely the time to get rid of it. Trust me when I say that in the end it will make moving easier.
  3. Paint – Painting is one of the quickest things you can do to change the overall look and feel of the home. Paint colors date a home faster than people think. The deep beiges, rustic golds and earthy reds scream 1990 more than you think. It also does wonders to clean up the space. Beat up walls and trim make the house feel neglected and dirty.
  4. Landscape – Curb appeal is super important. If it doesn’t look good on the outside, what’s going to motivate them to go in? Remove dead trees and weeds, cut back anything that’s overgrown, lay fresh mulch and always place a pot of seasonal flowers next to your front door.
  5. Finish those projects and make the necessary repairs – Now is the time to fix that cabinet door that just won’t shut. The faucet thats leaking and replace that broken window pane. Alone they may not feel like a lot but those things add up and make a buyer feel like you didn’t or don’t care for the home.
  6. Add trendy updates – Think stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, plumbing fixtures and new lighting. None of these have to break the bank but these updates go a long way for buyers.
  7. Replace the carpet – Just do it. Most people find old carpet to be gross. Especially if it’s stained and sagging. At the very minimum have it cleaned and stretched.
  8. Check your mechanicals – These are commonly flagged on an inspection and can be expensive for buyers. Have them cleaned and serviced prior to listing.
  9. Rearrange your furniture – People like flow. They like rooms that make sense. They don’t need a chair for everyone. They prefer intimate conversation areas and dining room tables with enough room to walk around. Night stands next to beds and a spot to set their keys or hang their coat when they enter.
  10. Accessorize your home. Add back in the finishing touches. These are the extra special touches that make the house feel like a home. Spruce up your bedding, buy a new rug for the front entry and fresh towels for the bathrooms. Place fresh flowers on the kitchen table and the bathroom vanities. Anything that creates a welcoming and trendy vibe in the space.

Simply put, the better the house looks in pictures the more interest and showings and offers you will receive!

paint colors to sell your home

Picking the right paint color is crucial when selling your home. You want to appeal to the most amount of home buyers without being boring or forgettable. Because being forgettable is almost as bad as being the house with the boldly painted living room. So which colors are going to sell your home? Our favorites are below.

Our favorite neutral paint colors for selling your home:

  1. Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams: This one consistently rates high on the list for most agents and stagers. It’s a true gray, a bit on the cool side but light enough to match any interior.
  2. Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore: A really light, neutral gray, almost white. This one pairs well with a wide range of interior colors and dark wood stains.
  3. Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams: This is one of our all time favorites. It’s a traditional beige with a gray twist and no yellow tinge. Ever. It works well in homes with a lot of brown tones. (It’s also the color used in the picture above.)
  4. Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore: This one is almost considered a classic at this point. A beautiful warm gray with a beige undertones. This one works well in every home.

tips for showing your home

Sharing our best showing tips for every home. You only get one opportunity to wow home buyers so you will want to put your best foot forward starting at the curb.

  1. It’s winter in Minnesota and we know it’s not fun but make sure your sidewalks are shoveled, including the carriage walk at all times. (The carriage walk is the piece of sidewalk that connects the street to the public sidewalk.)
  2. If you have a dog do the best you can do and stay on top of picking up the poop and hiding the yellow snow.
  3. Don’t skip the winter pots! Winter greens add to overall curb appeal.
  4. Clean your front door and do it often. Dirty snow and muck can build up quickly especially on our storm doors. (Do not forget the back door and the garage door.)
  5. Purchase a nice big and soft rug for your front entry. A bench and a place to set their things while they struggle to take off their shoes would be great.
  6. Be aware of scents. I’ve talked about this before but that Glade plug-in is not masking anything. The only thing it’s doing is giving everyone a headache.
  7. Make sure your house is warm. The colder it is outside the warmer it needs to be inside. No one wants to freeze their butt off while looking at your home.
  8. Turn on all the lights, including lamps and open up all the window treatments. It’s dark enough this time of the year. A bright cozy spot is what we all crave.
  9. Empty the trash, or better yet stash the garbage cans away no one really wants to see dirty Kleenex.
  10. Wipe down all the surfaces in the kitchen and the bathroom. Sticky surfaces in these two rooms are seriously off putting.
  11. Resist the urge to shower right before the showing.
  12. And finally please flush the toilet and put the toilet seat down.

the effect of low inventory

The housing supply is low right now. The lowest it’s been since it started falling in 2007 and it’s not expected to change in 2021 unless more sellers start to enter the market. As a result the divide between supply and demand is high. And home prices have risen as a result.

Experts agree that a surge in inventory isn’t expected anytime soon so sellers can expect continued price appreciation in 2021 and buyers can expect to continue to get into multiple offer situations with houses selling quickly.

Wondering how much longer this can last and if there’s an actual solution to this problem? That’s a tough one. There are a lot of variables we need to take into consideration. Population growth and new construction for starters. In a nutshell we need more homes to be built to keep up with population growth.

In the meantime the best thing you can do as a home buyer is to be prepared. Make sure you’re pre-approved, have done your research and are ready to move fast. Having a Realtor on your side that you know and trust will help tremendously.

home buyers want a home office

As more and more people shift to working from home and distance learning creating a dedicated spot to work and learn prior to selling your home is becoming increasingly popular.

According to realtor.com buyer demand for home office space has accelerated during the pandemic. In a realtor.com® survey conducted this summer, 63% of respondents indicated that they plan to buy a new home in light of their ability to work remotely. And, on average, listings featuring a home office command a 3.4% price premium and sell nine days faster than listings without one, according to realtor.com data.

So how do you highlight a dedicated work space if you currently don’t have one or the funds to remodel the forgotten attic space? You may want to consider transforming a spare bedroom, dining room, or den. The key is to actually make it look like an office or a dedicated space to work, not an after thought.

So pay attention to the details. Try not to have this room do too much. A spare bedroom/office can work. A spare bedroom/office/exercise room does not. It’s also important to make this space feel cohesive. Pay particular attention to colors and artwork, this will help with the overall flow of the room.

To start pick the area you want to focus on and remove everything from that area. Think what you need to work and how much space that requires. Do you need to spread out? Do you need room for a printer? Do you need filing cabinets? Everyone works differently. Since everything is electronic for me I don’t need filing cabinets but I do need a printer.

The space you have to work with may be small so you will need to get creative. Open shelving or utilizing a closet are great options. And don’t forget the chair. It’s time to ditch the folding chair and get something that actually supports your back and is comfortable enough to sit in all day.

Once you’ve figured out what you need it’s time to put everything back in. Placing your desk in front of a window is a great option if you have it. No one wants to work in a dark corner. Good lighting is important for your eyes and your morale. If you don’t have a window you’ll want to consider task lighting and a couple different options. Now is a great time to get a new light fixture, something fun and a focal point for the room.

Don’t forget to add a few plants to your workspace. Plants are very trendy right now, look great in pics and instantly make every space feel more welcoming. They also reduce stress and improve productivity. And who doesn’t need a little more of that right now?

Selling your Home during the Holidays

Selling your home during the holidays does not mean your family can’t decorate. Moving is stressful enough without removing the joy of the season. Just keep in mind the following and you’ll be fine.

  1. You may want to reconsider where you put the tree. Remember that putting the tree in front of the window may block a lot of natural light, something we never want to do when selling a home.
  2. Be sure not to block walkways and important features. You still want buyers to see what the home as to offer and you don’t want to make it difficult for them to do so by blocking off the flow of the home.
  3. Speaking of trees you may also want to reconsider the size of the tree. You don’t want it to overwhelm the room and make it feel small or cluttered.
  4. Remove anything religious. I know, religion may be a big part of the holiday for you but just like selling any other time of the year we want to keep your home neutral so we can appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
  5. Opt for colors that work with your color scheme. This will make the decorations look intentional and give it more of a magazine/Instagram ready feel, a look buyers enjoy.
  6. Put away the Holiday cards. Like the family gallery wall now is not the right time to dedicate a wall to share other people’s family photo’s.
  7. Don’t over do it. A tree in every room isn’t necessary at this point.
  8. Don’t forget to decorate the outside to maximize curb appeal. A wreath on the front door and beautiful pots are desired in every season.
  9. Take down the decorations a day or two after the Holiday.
  10. Don’t decorate until after the photo’s are taken. If you include a tree in your photo’s and your house doesn’t sell immediately your pictures will look dated and will need to be re done.

If you keep these things in mind while you deck the halls your holiday decorations should appeal to potential buyers like any other beautifully staged home.

Should you Update your Kitchen to Sell?

Should I update my kitchen? We should add this to our list of Frequently Asked Questions. It’s almost as popular as should we wait till Spring to sell? I already shared my thoughts on waiting for the Spring Market. You can read them here. So today I’m sharing my thoughts on updating your kitchen from a Realtors Perspective.

First lets get two things out of the way: 

  1. Nothing lasts forever, there is not a single piece of decor or a color that will stand the test of time. When it comes to decor everything changes. 
  2. You will never get 100% of your money back. Some projects have a better ROI than others but nothing will get you 100%.

Now that we have that out of the way we can proceed with a level head and create a good plan because my answer to this is yes. Updating your kitchen is always a good idea. 

Kitchens tend to get a lot of attention. Mostly because kitchens really are the heart of the home. It’s where we prepare our meals but it’s also where we gather with friends and entertain. So my advice is that you focus on the key elements that matter like counter space and storage, not trendy materials or appliances people tend not to pay over for those things. So that cost will be on you. 

Talk to your Realtor before you get starting. Understanding what your home is worth and what the houses in the area are selling for is an important piece of the puzzle if you want to get the most bang for your buck. That said if this is your forever home and you plan to be here for the long haul, you do you and enjoy the home you’re in. I am a firm believer in that. But if you only see yourself in this home for another 5-7 years pay attention. 

  1. Update the cabinets. Either by painting them or replacing them. Depending on the style painting them may be an option that works for you. Just have a professional do them, unless you promise to do a great job. I’ve seen too many DIY’s gone wrong. When updating your cabinets do not forget to update the hinges, knobs and pulls. 
  2. Update the countertops. Pay attention to your home’s price point, if your home is over a certain price point you absolutely can not use a material less than quartz or granite. 3. If possible and space allows, add an island or a peninsula. Buyers want a place to gather and both options add extra counter space which is a key element when selling a kitchen.
  3. If possible and space allows, add an island or a peninsula. Buyers want a place to gather and both options add extra counter space which is a key element when selling a kitchen.
  4. Update flooring. If possible try to match the flooring in the rest of the house. Pay close attention to this if you live in a small house. Consistent flooring tends to make the spaces look bigger and flow.
  5. Add and Update Lighting. Update lighting and pay particular attention to the different types of lights needed in a kitchen.  Ambient, Task and Accent.
  6. Update the Appliances. Opt for energy efficient and until something else takes over make sure they are stainless steel appliances.
  7. Update the faucet and add a backsplash. Like the lights these two add the visual wow to your kitchen. They set the tone.

Sell Now or Wait for the Spring Market?

This is a question we tend to get a lot. Should we sell now or wait for the Spring market. Our advice: Sell when it works best for you.

When there’s a housing shortage, or an extreme lack of inventory as there is now it doesn’t matter as much when you sell. Because your house will sell. Now will it sell in multiple offers in a day maybe, maybe not. But more and more the condition and the price of your home dictate that more than the time of the year.

Buyers want to move right in, bonus points and more showings if your home is adorable. Yes I know we’re not in the home decor business but with over 95 percent of home buyers selecting the house they want to see online the ‘cute factor’ of your home matters.

Not sure what that means, give us a call, we love to chat about this. Not ready to talk, take a look at what’s currently for sale on Zillow, I’m confident this is what you will start to see. Houses that sell quickly have these things in common.

Neutral paint through out. Think light gray or white with a small but tasteful pop of color or wallpaper for an added element of fun.

Hardwood floors. Real or engineered. Like paint its best if the flooring can be consistent throughout the house. If you like carpet it’s best to keep that to bedrooms and lower level family rooms.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Updated kitchens. I know this is a big one. If you’re on a tight timeline or can’t afford to update the entire kitchen be sure to do the minimum, add stainless steel appliances and get a granite or quartz countertop. With a fresh coat of paint on the walls and a few properly places plants and wood cutting boards for decor these small changes will make a big impact.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Updated bathrooms. This one can be a bit like the kitchen and get expensive rather quick. But you can paint, update that vanity and get new lights on a budget. Pair those updates with a new shower curtain and some cute new accessories and you’re ready to go.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

A tidy yard, bonus points if you have a patio or gathering space. You don’t need much, a few strategically placed Adirondacks or a picnic table will do. The key word here is tidy. Get rid of those dead trees, weed the garden and lay fresh mulch.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Thoughtful and trendy finishing touches. A beautiful comforter and fluffy pillows on your bed. Plants in cute pots or fresh flowers on the coffee table, next to your bed, on a shelf in the bathroom and in the kitchen. A bar cart or record player in the living room. A gallery wall or a picture shelf. Throw pillows and beautiful rugs.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group
Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

All of these elements go into making a house ‘feel’ good. And yes in the end it’s about the actual condition of your home and the size of the rooms but these updates and the decor draw you in and make you feel at home. Which in turn will sell your home in any market.

5 Things that will Increase Your Homes Value

Thinking of selling your home? Here are 5 budget friendly things you can do this weekend to increase the value of your home.

  1. Clean and declutter. At this point this one should not surprise you. It tops every single list for a reason. I can’t tell you how many outdated homes we’ve seen sell because they were clean and organized. Home buyers felt that the home was well taken care of and even though it wasn’t pretty they were able to see past the decor and actually look at the bones of the house. I tell all our clients, to clean and then clean again. When in doubt, throw it out or pack it away.
  2. Clean your carpet. If you have carpet anywhere in your house GET IT CLEANED! And stretched if necessary. Dirty carpet is gross. It makes home buyers think about the cleanliness of the rest of the home. That leads them to thinking about replacement costs. Don’t let them go there, get it cleaned and if those stains don’t come out consider replacing your carpet.
  3. Paint the most used rooms in your house. I can almost guarantee that they need it. Think hallways, front entry ways, bathrooms and kitchens. We’re hard on our houses and it shows on our walls. Dirt and grime just have a way of accumulating especially if you like to cook a lot of have littles running around your house touching everything! Be sure to paint a neutral color that work with your decor.
  4. Replace old and outdated hardware in your kitchen or bath. This small change can make a big impact on the look and feel of your kitchen and bath, the two most impactful rooms of your home. Pay attention to trending styles and finishes. The difference between gold and silver, polished or brushed nickel can make or break the look of the space.
  5. Update your lights. If I had to pick two spots to focus on I would focus on the pendant lights in the kitchen and the light in your dining room. But if you have the time and the money don’t forget the bathroom and while you’re add it replace all the boob lights in your house. It’s amazing the difference a light can have on a room. People groan when they see old and outdated lights from the 90’s, it’s all so heavy and dark. Give them something to ohh and aww over.

All these project come with a minimal investment but they will and do make a big impact on the look and feel of your home and will increase the value of your home. Todays buyers want to move right in and have their homes look and feel like all the images they see on HGTV and Instagram.

And I know it’s hard to justify spending money on upgrades to increase the value of your home when you’re moving and would rather spend that money on your new house. But the difference these small upgrade may make on whether or not your home sells quickly or lingers on the market are priceless.