Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions & the Time to Sell

Perhaps you're like me--in the midst of a cleaning and organizing frenzy sparked by New Year's resolutions. And perhaps all this cleaning and organizing has you pondering like  Mr. X. Istential: "When is a good time to sell your home?" See what the Home Diva has to say about that…

Dear X. Istential,

The best time to put your home on the market is whenever you are ready to sell. The best recipe for success is a committed and motivated seller paired with a knowledgeable and full-service professional realtor.

Having said that, now is a great time to get your home listed. Inventory is low and buyers are buying. You would think the holidays would have cooled the market, but the buyers who are out there are motivated to buy and your he best time to put your home on the market is whenever you are ready to sell. The best recipe for success is a committed and motivated seller paired with a knowledgeable and full-service professional realtor.

Having said that, now is a great time to get your home listed. Inventory is low and buyers are buying. You would think the holidays would have cooled the market, but the buyers who are out there are motivated to buy, and your home may be their dream home.

If you can get your home ready for sale as part of your New Year's resolution, you'll have less competition because you'll be ahead of the traditional spike in listings that often occur in the spring and pre-summer months.

The Home Diva

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Do Credit Scores Matter?

Time to whip out the mailbag and do a little work answering questions instead of staring out the window pondering the meaning of life, day light savings time (coming up next week) and just how many candy bars can one can eat without crossing over from just enough of a sugar buzz to over-the-top-sugar-bat-nut-crazy. (It's a fine line).

Howard The Shelter Cat
Yep, these are the things that keep me from doing what I need to do. It's no help that Howard The Shelter Cat remains lackadaisical by it all.

Someone needs to work, though, and for the time being, apparently I'm it. So here we go…

Dear Home Diva,
Does your credit score really matter that much when it comes to buying a home?
Keeping Score

Dear Keeping Score, 

As with most things in life, the highest score wins. The higher your credit score, the easier it is to obtain your goals.  My mortgage adviser tells me credit is everything followed closely by income. 

Most realtors work closely with a mortgage adviser to help home buyers overcome whatever financial hurdles they might have in their lives, find the best mortgage options and help walk them through the financial loan process. 

If credit is an issue for you, a good mortgage adviser can provide some tips for you to help get you in financial shape. 

And, best of all? The advice is free. 

The Home Diva

Sunday, October 20, 2013

From Harry Potty's House to It's a Wonderful Life--Name That House!

Harry Potter's room beneath the staircase

Some people name cars, I name houses.

Remembering street addresses and the homes for sale attached to them used to be fairly problematic for me. Not a particularly good thing for a realtor. In my defense, my memory has never been very good. I have always struggled to remember stuff, but stick a visual or theme in there, and I can "see" and remember everything.

Thus, the birth of my house naming:
•the Zebra House so named for its black and white striped wall paper
•Harry Potty's House because instead of a closet located beneath the stairs, there was a half bathroom
•the Tilt-A-Whirl house because, yep, you guessed it right--it had serious foundation issues
•an 1888 Victorian became the It's-A-Wonderful-Life house because it oozed happiness, and I always half expected to see Jimmy Stewart running up the stairs and bells ringing for Clarence to get his wings.

I could go on and on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. And I'm not the only one who names homes either. Someone in my office christened a house located on Greathouse Road as the Not-So-Great House. You can just image that one.

So think about it: Would you rather buy the It's-A-Wonderful-Life House or the Tilt-A-Whirl house? Do you want buyers walking away from your home with a positive nomenclature or a negative one.

So, what name would you give your home?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Junkies, HGTV & Stage Fright

I am a junkie.

There I said it.

I am a junkie, and it's sucking the life and time right out of me.

No, I am not that kind of junkie. No siree, Missy. I am an HGTV junkie.

There I admit it.

Isn't that the first step to redemption…salvation…recovery?

Here it is Friday afternoon--a time I blocked out to re-sort my files, complete paperwork and plan some open house marketing strategies.

Instead, I am sitting on the floor blogging, drinking coffee and watching one of my five taped "Love It or List It" programs. I already squandered an hour watching the Property Brothers, and with House Hunters International just around the corner, I fear I am doomed.

To top it all off, I have a stack of Ask The Home Diva questions mocking me unanswered.

So let's get the mailbag out and at least answer one question for today…

Dear Home Diva,
Do you think staging is a good way to sell your home?
Stage Fright

Dear Stage Fright,

Staging can certainly help sell a home, but it doesn't have to be the costly kind of staging where you hire a stager, rent furniture and set up a model home. Most of us don't have the type of home that merits that kind of expense.

Instead, remove all clutter and excess from your home. Rent storage space if you need to. Remove items that scream personal--family pictures, religious items etc. because you want buyers to be able to imagine themselves living in your house. They can't do that if they're looking at your stuff and imagining your life in your home. Remove and store excess furniture so rooms appear more spacious. Remove and store out-of-season clothing so your closets are less crammed. Remove and store… well you get the idea.

Think model home and turn your home into one staging it that way. If you're not sure what that looks like, spend an afternoon visiting model homes and stage your home accordingly. For example, if you have a breakfast bar, set it up with placements, napkins and china. Work at those little touches that define the space without personalizing the space. It's easy to do and inexpensive.

The Home Diva

Remember to keep those questions coming. You can submit them at

Well, I've gotta jet and change the channels. I just noticed Judge Judy is on, but that, my dears, is an entirely different story and a separate addiction…

Friday, October 4, 2013

Some Photos Are Best Left Unsnapped

My author/e-book publisher/sister Maggie Bonham sent me a rather interesting link to Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs. A site described as devoted to "inexplicably bad property photographs. It's that simple."

Simple it may be. Hilarious it certainly is.

It's the type of site that makes you want to pop the photographer upside his or her head and shout, "What in the Sam Hill were you thinking!?!" These are the types of  photographs that would give even  George Eastman pause and cause him to wonder why he introduced his Kodak camera to the masses.

Followers of the site submit photographs with captions. Ostensibly, the photographs were shot by real estate agents and posted on housing sites.

There are gems like this one…

Fortunately, my photo skills are above average given my journalism/education background. And,  I must confess that I do not know any real estate agents who would shoot such shots let alone post them for public viewing.  

Still, I'm always up for a good laugh and thought you might need one, too.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Grumpy Cat, Howard the Shelter Cat & Being Fab-u-lous

Grumpy Cat just
signed an endorsement deal
I pretty much spent last week in class learning advanced real estate stuff for advanced certification, so I can be a fab-u-lous realtor. But despite aspiring to the fab-u-louso status, sitting in a classroom = learning about all the stuff I should be doing, but can't be doing because, well, I'm sitting in a classroom.

It's the ol' Catch-22 syndrome. 

And, of course, while sitting in the classes learning to be fab-u-lous, the list-maker that lurks deep within me started a list-making frenzy complete with highlights and arrows. I have an "Ah-Hah!" list. I have an "Aps I Need" list. I have a "Must Learn" list. I have an "Action Items" list. 

Howard the Shelter Cat napping
All of that just means that I now really need a "Things That Make My Head Explode" list. Jeepers Creepers.

I wouldn't have to worry about all of that if Howard the Shelter cat would just wake up from his cat-nap and get with the program and start earning his keep. You know, like Grumpy Cat, who recently got a sweet endorsement deal with Friskies and who supposedly already is earning six figures. Hails bails, I'd be happy if Howard the Shelter cat would just earn a couple of figures.

Howard the Shelter Cat
earning zero
I think I'll start a new list: "Howard the Shelter Cat's Earning Potential."

I think it'll be a short list.

As in Zero. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. 

Guess I'm going to have to work harder at being fab-u-lous.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Don't let procrastination stop you

While I was hosting an open house waiting for the next wave of prospective buyers to waltz through,  I ran across this nifty little cartoon posted on Mashable illustrating the 12 types of procrastinators.

I know I have been each one of those little cartoon guys at some point in my life although I'm not much of a napper. I wish I were, though. I envy people who  can slide in a power nap here or there and wake up refreshed.

Me? Well, I just can't do it. I'm either down for the count ,or I lie there ticking off all the things I have to do and never fall asleep. So it's no surprise that I'm The List Maker on the procrastinator sheet.

Whatever category you fall under, don't let your procrastination stand between selling your property and finding your dream home. Remember, interest rates are still at historic lows and existing home prices are climbing back up. It's a great time to get moving!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Home Hall of Shame Confessions

Confession time… I looked with great interest at a little slide show on MSN real estate's website aptly called the "Real-estate hall of shame: Deplorable design features."

Sadly, out of the 10 Hall of Shame items, I either currently have or have lived in homes with at least four (perhaps five) of the offensive items. (I'm a little fuzzy on the shag carpet thing.)

At the time, though, the items listed were the cat's meow. (And, if I have to explain the cat's meow… then I probably have to explain avocado and gold colored appliances to you as well.)

At least, though, I can proudly say that my current home only contains 1.5 shameful items. I have a sliding shower door in my guest bathroom, but the door is glass. Thus, the .5.

Sadly, I have the dreaded popcorn ceiling throughout my home. It'd like to remove it, but my arms never quite recovered after helping my daughter eliminate those unsightly bumps in her home.

I know I'll have to eventually deal with it especially if I ever decide to sell my house.

Until then, the scraping tools will remain in the garage until I can no longer bear the shame of it all.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Boomerang kids

I took a few moments today to try and catch up reading and found this fun infographic about Boomerang kiddos--the ones who leave to go off to college and then return to live at home with their parents.

According to the survey, the average American believes that adult children shouldn't live at home for more than four years. Adult children (18-34 years old), however, thought five years was a good number and then, of course, there were some real cranky people out there--some 13% of Americans--who didn't think adult children should live at home at all. You can look at all the stats & info on Boomerang kids here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Should you be fixin' to fixin' up?

Dear Home Diva,
I was thinking about fixing up my house before I put it on the market.  Are there any renovations I should do before I list it?
                                                               --Fixin’ To

Dear Fixin To,
Whoa! Hold your horses, Missy! Before you start any major renovation projects, take a deep breath and look at your house with a critical eye.

First make any essential repairs before tackling the basic, tried and true stuff that will put your home on the fast track to being sold. Things like a fresh coat of paint (neutral paint) will do wonders to showcase the rooms in your house. De-cluttering will not only make your house look roomier, it also allows buyers to visualize how they can live in your home.

Remember, if you have too much stuff, buyers can’t visualize where to put their stuff. And, if they can’t visualize where to put their stuff, they will move on down to the next home.  

Once you’ve assessed the inside, check out your home’s curb appeal, sprucing up your yard as needed.

Still wanting to remodel?

There are certain remodeling projects that provide a good return for your money. According to Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report for the Dallas area, you can expect to recoup 65 to 85 percent of the cost of replacing your front door, 68 to 71 percent for window replacements and about 77 percent for a wood deck. Many more projects are listed in the report and can be downloaded for free at

But before you start any home improvement projects in order to sell your house, it would be wise to consult with a realtor who knows your market and can determined how your upgrades will effect the sale price of your house and how much bang you’ll get back from your renovation bucks.
                                                                --the Home Diva

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why do I need a realtor?

Dear Home Diva,
I am thinking about buying a home and don't know why I need a realtor. Can't I just find a home on the Internet and call the listing agent?

Dear DIY Buyer,
There are many reasons you need your own realtor. The most important reason is to have someone whose job is to be your advocate and to protect you and your interests. As a buyer’s agent, your realtor works for YOU and watches out for YOU. Your realtor also helps you navigate through the entire process from start to closing. As a Coldwell Banker agent, my top priority is to deliver exceptional one-stop full service real estate experience for my home buyers and sellers. I will work with you throughout your entire home search or sale process. As YOUR agent, I look out for YOU, whether you are buying or selling. And remember, as your agent, I can show you any home you are interested in regardless of whose sign is on the property or who the listing agent is. So let’s get you moving in the right direction!
–the Home Diva

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome Home!

Welcome to my newest blog that chronicles my latest (ad)venture--real estate. 

For 27 years, I was a public education school teacher and many of you followed me at my other blogging site ( which I still use to muse about all things educational. A while back, I discovered I have a gajillion words just rattling around in my brain waiting to pop into the bubble above my head. My blogs seem to provide a good home for those words to go. I hope you agree.

This particular blog as well as my website,, is meant to be interactive. I hope you send your real estate questions either to the website or here. The questions & answers from the website will be archived here.

You can also find askthehome diva on Facebook. If you haven't liked the page, I would definitely appreciate a thumbs up!

(Ad)ventures are always more fun when you have more people so tell your friends and family and come follow along!