Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tips to sell your home!

Tips to sell your home!

Candles provide fresh smell, but some people dislike strong fragrances.  Never leave a candle burning when a home is empty, even if potential buyers are on the way.

Pet smells can turn off potential buyers.  We love our pets and they bring wonderful joy to our families, but when selling a home pay attention to any possible smell.

I was putting together some home selling tips for a potential client, and realized this information could be useful and interesting to many people.  These ideas have come from both reading and working in real estate, as well as from selling my own home.  My husband and I tend to have too much stuff, and every time we list our home our agent tells us to get rid of things.  I like that advice, because I actually enjoy purging my home of extra items.  I love the clean look of my home once I am done. When I get back from my trip to the local thrift store I and my house feel lighter.  It is a good thing.

When we have lived in a home for some time the appearance of the home can become invisible to us. We don't see the piles in the corners, or the stuffed closets.  We don't notice the smells.  When a home has pets it almost always has a bit of a smell, and there is no harder message to pass on to a homeowner than the message that we can smell the pet.  Buyers do not like pet smells.  Keep the home very clean and ready to show, put up air fresheners and keep the pet beds and litter boxes clean.

Here is the list I have prepared for my clients:

Tips for selling your home

List at a good price for the area
Empty home of extra stuff
Empty closets of ½ of the items and organize well
Light up home, open curtains, bright bulbs
No pet smells!  Ask a good friend if they can smell anything
Fresh paint and very clean home that shines
Kitchen and bath upgrades give most return on money
Curb appeal, clean bright front door
Plant flowers and clean up landscaping
No clutter in entryway
Buyers always look at ceiling make sure it is clean, painted, with no sign of leaks

Monday, November 30, 2015

Top Six Reasons to sell your house in December by Shelley Hopkins

Top six reasons to sell your house in December

  • 1      Inventory is low.  There is a myth that homes don’t sell this time of year, so fewer homes are on the market.  We still have plenty of buyers, and these buyers are finding themselves in multiple offer situations!  The buyers are loosing out because of too many offers.
  • 2      There are fewer homes on the market right now in the popular $250,000 – $350,000 price range.  We have many buyers searching in that range right now.
  • 3      Many homes are nicely decorated for the holidays. Holiday smells and decorations are very inviting to people looking at homes.  It helps them to imagine living there. 
  • 4      Kids are out of school, and the buyer can see children out playing.  It gives life to the neighborhood.
  • 5      Less competition for your home.  This is really a repeat of reason #1, but it is the most important.  You can compete against many homes in the spring and summer, or compete against fewer homes in the winter.  People still need to buy homes at each season of the year.
  • 6      In Charleston, it is actually better weather for house hunting when the temperature is cooler.  Our fall and winter is quite comfortable.  Our summers are hot and sticky.  Just something to think about!

So, to review:  If you are planning on selling your home soon, now is better than later.  People are out looking at homes, and the inventory is low.  Houses are getting multiple offers, which is good for the seller.  Give me a call, or send me a private message if you want to learn more.  I can give you tips for getting your home ready for the market, as well as give you an idea of the value of your home. 

Shelley Hopkins

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Palmetto Islands County Park, Mount Pleasant, SC. by Shelley Hopkins

Have you ever wondered what Mount Pleasant looked like before it was covered with trendy shops and neighborhoods?  Mount Pleasant is still a beautiful city, and it can be a delight to walk through the Old Village and down Pitt Street to the pier.  The parks are wonderful and all the live oaks still shade the city streets and homes.  But, to see this area before people, take a drive over to the Palmetto Islands County Park.  This park is at the end of the Longpoint group of subdivisions, and it has plenty of park things to do; a playground, a splash park, crabbing dock, and paddle boat rentals, and my favorite, a 50 foot observation tower complete with sides for the “children.” 

Observation Tower and view from tower below

I visited the park today, in November, and I chose to simply walk the trails.  I was amazed at the beauty, at the palmetto trees nestled among live oaks, dogwoods and pines.  I started at the playground area and followed the paved pathway out past the splash park, and then I switched to a boardwalk that crossed marsh to reach what they call the Nature Island.  A man on a bicycle passed me, and I met several people walking with their dogs.  After circling the island I returned to the paved road, was passed by the same bicyclist, and then walked towards the river on the opposite side of the park.  I walked up to the 50 foot lookout tower, and rested, enjoying the expansive views and the cool breezes.  The air had the salty marshy feel.  It was low tide, and even from the top of the tower I could hear the pop pop sounds of air escaping the pluff mud.  Birds were plentiful, and I wished I had my binoculars and a longer camera lens.  After a time I returned to the trail, was passed by the same bicyclist, again, and walked on to the crab dock and river.

I kept thinking about how the original inhabitants of this land would live, the oysters, fish and crab providing food.  I think the soft wet soil under the palmetto forests would be difficult to navigate, and so I was thankful for the paved and dirt pathways.  I watched two men fish, and then walked back towards my car, passing that same bicycle rider one last time.

Check out Palmetto Island County Parks for more information
Search here for homes found in the Longpoint area, where you can bike to this park right from your home.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Less is more, it is good to edit!

I have been reading a lot about house photography, and one post really interested me. The writer mentioned staging a room for a photo shoot, saying you don't need to add things to a room, but instead it is better to take things away. Less is more. Just like writing, editing is the key. With fewer objects in the picture, or words on the page, the real story comes out. Wonder if that is true in life as well. Of course I believe it is, simpler is better, and direct focus on the important is more fulfilling than just stuffing life with, well, stuff.

We live in our homes, and fairly quickly we begin to not see, not notice how the home looks.  We become so attached to the beautiful items we bought on that special vacation, or the family treasures passed down from grandma, that we don’t see how cluttered the shelves and walls can be.  My daughter collects dolls, and she is attached to each and every one.  She displays all her dolls on her dresser, and there are so many unblinking eyes staring at me when I enter the room I see nothing else.  I wish she would choose a few special dolls to display at a time.

 Editing is hard; writers become attached to every word they lovingly place on the page.  As a photographer, I have a special attachment to each photo I snap.  If I shared every photo on social media, no one would ever take the time to look.  It is hard to edit, hard to put away.  Perhaps it is the same with our homes, hard to edit and hard to put away.  Just remember the goal in real estate is to sell the house for what you want and as quickly as you wish. A little editing now can make the outcome better. 

I plan to put this idea into motion not only for my real estate photography, my nature photography, and also in my day-to-day life.  Less is more.  Clutter is clutter, whether in life, art or work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fireflies in SC?

When I moved to SC a few years ago I was told that fireflies, or lightning bugs, were not found in the low country.  I have looked, I have been out walking and enjoying the back porch many evenings in the summer, and unfortunately have yet to see a single firefly.  I think the sad news is true, there are no lightning bugs in the low country.  Has this always been true?  I just assumed this was the wrong habitat, that perhaps it was too windy, humid or too close to an ocean.  With a little research I discovered that fireflies used to be seen here.  It seems that fireflies may be in decline all over the country.  I am not sure I can even imagine a world without them. 

No other image represents summer as well as sitting on the porch listening to the cicadas, watching lightning bugs, and watching children running through the grass trying to catch the small beetles.  Trees sparkled, grasses glittered, and summer was in full swing.  Summer began for me with my first lightning bug sighting, and I spent hours just enjoying the lights every evening. 

Fireflies are beetles, and they produce their lights chemically.  They are extremely efficient light producers, with 100% of their energy going to produce the light.  They loose no energy in heat like light bulbs do.  The light is produced as chemicals are mixed in the abdomen, and the main chemical is luciferase.  Scientists have copied luciferase and are using it to detect different problems in the body.  Like so many other medical advances, nature has shown the way.  

There are two places in the world where fireflies are synchronous, which means that entire fields of fireflies light in unison.  One place is in Asia, and the other is in the Great Smokey Mountains. 

The flashing of fireflies is used for communication.  These beetles are luminescent in all their life stages, from egg to pupae to larvae to adult.  The full grown beetle produces light, but not all adults flash.  The light may protect the more helpless life stages from predators.  Later as an adult the light helps the bugs find a mate.  In one species though, the light can actually be the false friend that lures a male firefly to his death.  The female of one species of lightning bug copies the flashing pattern of males in a different species.  He thinks he has found his mate, but when he gets close, she eats him.

All of this is very interesting, but if the firefly is in decline we have to do what we can to increase their numbers.  First we have to know why, next we can make changes.  Many theories have been tossed around, but perhaps the most likely is loss of habitat.  Fireflies like to lay their eggs in rotten logs.  The larvae eat snails and worms found in trees, or moist areas.  The adults need tall grass to hide in, and to mate in.  When we use fertilizers and pesticides we are impacting the firefly population and the snail and worm population they feed on.  When we mow all the lawn so neat and small, we destroy the habitat they need to find mates.  If we can let even a small section of the yard go natural, or at least a little less manicured, all of nature is helped.  In many modern neighborhoods the yards are perfectly trimmed, all leaf litter is raked up, and the poor lightning bugs along with their favorite foods have no place to go.  No wonder they are diminishing, and moving to less populated and controlled areas.  To me, the glittering of thousands of fireflies decorating the meadows and forests is much better than a dull carefully mowed yard with one tree and two token bushes.   With some creativity a beautiful yard and a wildlife friendly space can exist in the same space. 

Check out the following link to see how to create a yard that is wildlife certified.