KIMBERLY GRAHAM

Cell: 780-902-5556 |

 

It's a common question, and the short answer is no, not if you can help it. However the long answer requires a little more focus because homes are vacant for all kinds of reasons. let's look at some facts first and then you might be able to decide!

 

1. Vacant houses don't have a great sense of space. People aren't always sure if their furniture will fit. If there was a set of furniture in the home, that fit nicely, then a buyer can see where their stuff will go. Even if their stuff is completely different, having furniture in the home will show them more accurately how big the space is.

 

2. Vacant homes show every flaw. This is probably one of the bigger ones. Look around the room you are in right now, there is a big chance that somewhere in that room, or in your house, there is a flaw. With nothing else in the room to look at, the flaws will be amplified. Now, I am NOT suggesting that you hide flaws! In fact, for this example I strictly speaking of paint splatters on the ceiling, or a baseboard seam that is slightly imperfect. Major stuff should never ever be hidden. The reality is, that baseboard seam is probably exactly where a bed would go, and frankly most buyers probably won't care. However even the most easy going buyers see that stuff and point it out. Does it work against you? I think sometimes it can.

 

3. Vacant homes can be a target. In Edmonton you don't have to list your address on MLS for the world to see, especially if the pics show that it is vacant. Something to consider is to take pictures before you empty the house out.

 

4. On the plus side, vacant homes are easier to keep clean! Make sure to give it a deep clean before listing, carpets, walls, cupboards, everything. However you need to make sure that someone checks on them regularly to ensure they stay that way, dust settles and just seems more obvious in a vacant home.

So what can you do about making sure your vacant home is showing at its best? Staging is a great option, and usually your best bet, but it isn't always affordable for some people to stage an entire house, this is ok!!  If you can afford it, most stagers will work within your budget, sometimes all it takes is to stage a few key rooms and that will do the trick!

 

 Alternatively you can borrow some furniture from someone. I had a listing of a young man who had purchased a home 4 years previous so he and his friends had a place to live during university. The home was a beautiful character home. At the end of University he sold it, but as most university students know, you have used furniture. The stager recommended he replace that, and as luck would have it, his parents had some nice furniture in storage that he was able to borrow instead of renting furniture. So he was able to work with the stager and his borrowed furniture to create a beautiful end product.

 

 Also, consider colour scheme. I remember a house that was for sale once, the entire house was beige. The exterior, the interior walls, the carpet, the tiles, the cupboards.. it was the strangest experience being in that house. The truth is, it sat on the market. All it would have taken was for the owners to paint the walls a different colour.

 

~~ So, what is my professional opinion you ask? I understand that some houses need to be sold without someone living there. This is unavoidable. However, I feel that houses that are furnished (or have some furnishings in them) create a sense of space, and home, and sell better and faster.  There are some stats floating out there that show how much faster staged/furnished homes sell over completely vacant ones. I also feel equally strong that fresh paint and a very clean home help as well.

 

 I reached out to the talented Jill Gargus, CEO and founder of the staging and design company Simply Irresistible Interiors to see if she had any input. She did agree that it is important to stage key rooms if that is the limit of your budget. She was kind enough to lend me some pictures for this post, thanks Jill! Above is the after shot.. want to see the before? Here it is!

 

 

 Be HONEST now.. do you think there is a difference? I do. It shows me what size furniture fits into that space, and I think it looks bigger too! Staging is also an opportunity to create a lifestyle, show someone (a potential buyer perhaps!) some great uses for the space.  If you would like to learn more about Simply Irresistible Interiors, please visit their site: HERE


 To see what packages and services they offer: Go HERE


 Jill has been staging in Edmonton for 12 years, with the primary focus being on staging vacant homes. They offer 3-10 room packages, with set prices and many extras included such as videos, photography and social media marketing to name a few. They also have their own warehouse and staff, delivery and trucks, so they are fully capable of staging everything!

 

 At the end of the day, I will work with whatever situation works for you. Like I said, sometimes it is just not feasible to rent, or borrow furniture, and it isn't in the budget to paint. We deal with each situation as it comes :)


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The general premise of this started with an interesting conversation. I have had this one a few times, it always gives me pause. I figured I would make it easy, and answer the question: How do you do business with me as a seller?

 

 First, call me or email me. 780-902-5556 or kimberlygraham@remax.net. Both reach me directly. That is the best place to start and is in fact step 1 below.. but I am getting ahead a bit here!  So whether you are a referral from a past client or friend, or have come across my advertising and would like to get the ball rolling, this is the most direct way to do it. I promise you, if an email or call comes across my desk, I am going to be thrilled. I love nothing more than the promise of a new client to help. It’s a deeply satisfying thing.

 

 Below is a comprehensive, step by step, guide to show you what you can expect during the process. Everything from when we first chat, to our first meeting, signing paperwork, the steps during a listing, what happens after, everything!

 

1. You call me, and I will be looking to set a time with you to view your home. Sooner is better than later, because no matter when you are looking to get your home on the market, you will likely want to do work to get it ready. The ‘sooner rather than later’ thing gives you optimal time. I will also be looking for some basic information on your home as well.

 

2. I am going to ask where you got my name from. I just want to know who I can thank for the referral, or to find out which of my advertising avenues is working for me.

 

3. We set a mutual appointment time. My hours are flexible, so it just depends on yours.

 

4. I will do background research. Look at comparables sold in your area, your home’s attributes and how they compare. Also market conditions, your location in your neighbourhood, tax assessment, etc.

 

5. During the appointment you can expect the following:

     a.) After initial introductions I will be looking for a tour of your home. This is an optimal time for us to discuss any upgrades you have done or plan to do, any staging or painting needs, or anything at all that needs to be done to get the home on the market.

 

     b.) I will also be looking at your home. This is how I will help you arrive at a market value.

 

     c.) I am not looking at your stuff. Such a common worry! I know your house will be tidier and cleaner when you list it, there is no need to worry or feel badly for a less than perfect home, you still need to live here, I totally get it.

 

     d.) After the tour we will sit at the table and go through all the data I bring. Starting with the comparative market analysis, or CMA as we call it. The focus will be on the comparables most recently sold in your area, and how your home compares to them. (We compare apples to apples here. Bungalows to bungalows, not 2 storeys to 4 level splits) There are so many reasons this is important, but the basic one is this: Buyers have access to this information through their own agents, they know what similar homes sell for. Other information in the CMA is general neighbor hood statistics, days on market, percentage ratios and comparable solds locations for homes.

 

     e.) We will then go through the marketing package. Big focuses here are on the actual marketing and the commission payable. Rest assured you will be informed of all fees up front, there will be zero surprises for you on that. My aim here is to cultivate an understanding with you, so you can see what I am all about, where my passion lies, and how exactly I plan to sell your home for you!

 

     f.) It may or may not be decision time. If you are ready to sign a contract I will have one with me that I can explain easily to you. If you are in need of more time, that is ok too. My mandate is to work with what your needs and comfort levels are.

 

     g.) You choose to proceed, so WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:

            i.) We pick dates. When showings start is up to you, we will discuss the best   

                course of action that suits YOU.

            ii.) Once dates are picked, I will arrange a time for the photographer to come  

                 and take some snazzy pics. Yes, you get a professional photographer!

            iii.) I will also measure the house, each room, inside and out.

            iv.) Usually I gather information about your home during the listing

                  appointment, at this time I like to ensure all of it is 100% accurate. So I focus

                  on updates, when they were done, if you have receipts, is there a warranty 

                  still active, etc. Also, at this time, I want to talk to you about the highights of

                  your home, what makes it 'home' for you, any summer pics of your yard, 

                  all your favourite things! I will use all of this information in my advertising. 

                  After all, we are not selling houses to robots, we are selling them to people,  

                  so let's appeal to them that way. 

            v.) The listing goes live on PARAGON. It takes 24 hours (approximately) for it

                 to upload to MLS.ca.

            vi.) The for sale sign goes up! Check out that URL sign, it should connect to

                  your own private page on my site. www.123YourAddress.com. I can track activity  

                  and see if people are visiting. Its also valuable to those driving by. Sure they

                  can call, the number is visible and accessible, but some people are really

                  more hand’s off. That is what the website is for! We can add extra pictures,

                  info, ect. Realtor.ca caps the picture allowance, but here we have more 

                  room!

            vii.) Also of note, I use a professional sign company to install signs. This

                  way they are installed in a timely fashion, they always look bright and clean,

                  and they will not fall over. This is a huge tool in selling your home, and some

                  signs get custom designed just for your listing, so its important to leave that

                  one to the pros.

            viii.) Also look for your home on Kijiji, Facebook, online newspaper ads,

                   etc: Follow the list in the marketing package.

            ix.) I will be dropping off advertising materials, so your full colour brochures,

                  feature signs for around the home, ‘Remove Shoes’ sign, etc.

            x.) Showings START. You might feel stressed, I promise this is very normal!

                 Just breathe, let me handle the ‘crazy’, that is part of why you hired me! I will

                 make sure only qualified buyers see the home, book appointments, prep for

                 the open house, make sure all ads launch smoothly and the listing is error

                 free.

            xi.) I will not be the only agent showing your home. It is to your advantage to

                  have as many people and agents as possible see your home. I have access

                  to hundreds of people, maybe a few dozen of those would be buying at any

                  given time, and maybe a handful or fewer would be looking for a house like

                  yours. HOWEVER, I have access to the hundreds of agents in Edmonton

                  and Alberta through our housing systems, through them our resources are

                  endless. We have the Edmonton market at our fingertips, literally! Once we

                  list a home on our system, that powers MLS/Realtor.ca… it gets sent out to

                  EVERY buyer looking for a home like yours who would be working with an

                  agent. Instantly. For those looking for a home like yours without an agent, I

                  have catch basins in place to attract them; that is where open house and

                  other advertising avenues come into play.

            xii.) Feedback will be provided, only if it is provided to me by other agents. I

                  always ask, they don’t always answer. There are many reasons for this I am

                  sure, over the years I have come to interpret this to mean the house simply

                  was not what the buyer was looking for. However sometimes we get good

                  feedback that is useful: There could be a smell that was missed, or a small

                  defect like a hole in the wall. Its great to have these pointed out. The biggest

                  thing is it allows us access into the minds of people buying in the market

                  right now. Remember, listing a home is based on historical data    

                  (comparables, for example) and current market trends. All of that can

                   change quickly, so buyers looking today, that is a great source of current

                   info!

            xiii.) Open Houses!  You should be pretty much ready to go. I am a huge

                   believer in prepping ahead of time, and anything you would have had to do

                   to prep for sale is the same as an open house. So basically turn on music,

                   make sure there are no dirty dishes, the kids have flushed all the toilets, the

                   lights are on.. and burn some candles if that makes it more home-y. My

                   general times for these are Saturday and Sunday either or, or both, from 1-3

                   or 2-4. If someone cannot make it they will call me, but a serious buyer will

                   make the time and come. However, come home late after the open house if

                   you can.. sometimes people linger, this is a good thing!

            xiv.) Showings! There is a great reference guide in the marketing package you

                   were provided with that goes over the general activities and FAQ’s of a

                   showing. However, if you have questions, at this point or any point, please

                   ask.. that is what I am here for.

            xv.) Offer Time!!  Offers make people nervous, even if they are good. Everyone

                   feels this way, its like bad Christmas.. super exciting, but you are never

                   quite sure if Santa got your wish list…

            xvi.) If you have competing offers: I will bring any offers to your home, or we

                   meet at the office, whichever works. If there are multiple offers, I will call all

                   agents back (courtesy call), and let them know the final number, and if they

                   want to make changes then that is the time to do so. We cannot open offers

                   before the pre-designated time. We open in order of receipt, and once all

                   are opened you can make a decision about what is best for you. Ironically

                   this is not always the highest offer! (Another post for another day…)

            xvii.) My biggest job, to negotiate for you. This is something I have been

                    trained to do, I am experienced and I love to do it. It’s the biggest reason

                    you hire an agent.

            xviii.) Once you have an accepted offer we work through the conditions. Very

                     common ones are financing, and home inspections.

            xix.) Once the buyer removes those conditions it is a final sale,  

                    CONGRATULATIONS! You can expect that SOLD sign up, and let me

                    know if you want a picture next to it!

            xx.) I am not done yet! I am with you until the end.. so… onwards we go..

            xxi.) I will make sure everyone who needs a copy of all relevant paperwork

                   for the sale gets it. Lawyers, mortgage brokers, you.. everyone. I actually

                   like paperwork, its part of my job. Your job is to PACK your house! So I will

                   take care of details, as always.

            xxii.) The lawyer’s office will contact you to set up an appointment to drop off the

                     keys and sign paperwork.

            xxiii.) At this time also make a to do list (Coming soon, refer HERE for one!) of

                     services to call and cancel for the move. Telephone, gas, electric, water,

                     alarm, etc.

            xxiv.) When you are moving, please make sure to completely empty the

                     house. For various reasons, this is best practice. Check your attic and

                     crawl spaces for storage you may not often use.

            xxv.) Remember to forward your mail or change your address. On move out

                    day, take a copy or picture of the water, gas and electric meter readings. 

                    Ask your hydro and gas companies, as well as water, to come and take a

                    final reading. Or ask them if they are ok with you calling it in. Either way, I

                    find having a record of it, like with a picture, an important thing to keep on

                    file.

 

6. Is this it? We have come to the end of the transaction. I hope it was as smooth as can be expected for you!

     

Remember, I am still going to be here if you have questions down the line. I still get calls from clients months and years later to answer questions, get referrals for furnace companies, or to ask what the best upgrades would be because they want to prep to sell in a few years.

This.. equally thrilling.

 

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So you want to buy a home! Or maybe you need to?  Family and life changes happen, and it is my sole job to help people navigate the buying and selling process. (If you want to read more on how to work with me if you are a seller, click HERE)

This post is not intended to get into economic changes, market forecasts or the best time to buy. It is just about how to get started as a buyer, if you want an agent.

Let's say that agent is MOI!

First, you have to understand a few very important things about how the real estate world works. I know some people know this, however I know a lot who don't.

 

1. This is a business for me, I am self employed. RE/MAX doesn't give me a paycheque. I only get paid when I sell a house, and all expenses come directly out of my own pocket. Therefore, real estate salespeople think its only fair to ask that you are serious when you hire us to show you homes. Also, that you only hire ONE agent. The idea is that having one agent represents your best interests. If I have a client who is dedicated to working with me, I am DEDICATED to working with them, I will chase down information, show houses according to their schedule, accommodate their needs, etc. Plus I am fun to work with, and I love kids and pets as well!

 

2. In Alberta, there are mandatory service agreements that need to be signed for each client-agent relationship. This outlines the services we promise to you, so you know exactly what to expect. As a result, we HAVE to set a meeting with you before we can commit to showing you homes. This meeting will be to your benefit, I promise! Not only will we go over the service agreement, but you will be given a copy of my buyer's package that I designed with a buyer's best interest in mind. You will leave this meeting feeling ready to start looking and you feel informed on how the buying process works (which I will give a quick overview of below).

 

3. Along the lines of meeting before showing homes. This is a solo job for the most part, and the scary reality is Realtors have been murdered while on the job. As a result I, and most other realtors, have made it my business practice to meet you before we show you a house. Now, I would hope that you would understand this safety concern is a general thing, and not a personal one. Besides, we need to meet anyway to talk about how the buying process, and agency relationships work anyway.\

 

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The BUYING PROCESS from start to finish:

1. Find a home that is suitable through the elimination process.

2. Write offer – offer will be accepted, declined or countered. (read more on counter offers HERE)

3. Give copies of accepted offer to your bank and lawyer.

4. Practice due diligence in removing conditions. (Ex: home inspection, financing, lawyers approval, water testing, engineers report.)

5. Remove conditions on offer, making it a firm deal. A conditions removal form must be signed.

6. Visit lawyer to sign title papers and review closing costs.

7. Possession day – I will meet you at the house with the keys! We will do a walk through to make sure all looks right with the house. Ensure you read your water, hydro and gas meters prior to moving in.

8. If there is an issue, missing appliance, broken window, etc. I will call the other party to do everything I can to get it resolved. Its so rare that big stuff like this occurs, and quite often we are able to get it fixed in a timely fashion. However if the other party does not want to co-operate that is when your lawyer needs to be contacted. I recommend and email with the details, then follow up with a phone call.

My direct role is basically done here. HOWEVER, please call me if you have questions or need help. I have had people call me months, and even years later with questions, or they need a referral to a roofing company, decor questions, you name it!

 

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There is a lot more to having an agent than you think, to put it simply, you don't know what you don't know. I promise to educate you so you feel empowered by the process, and comfortable with your buying decision. I have a wealth of knowledge as I have been a realtor since 2006, plus I am a homeowner, I UNDERSTAND what you are going through! I have also moved provinces TWICE, so I understand relocations as well, and how it feels to have your home on the market at the same time you are looking to buy. I have been where you are. Sure there are a lot of realtors out there, some have flashy advertising, proclaim to be different than everyone else. You want to know something? For me it isn't about how I am so different than other agents, it's more about how I am the same as you.

 

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