Selling your home

Tips for Home Buyers & Sellers

Tips for Home Buyers & Sellers

Buying and selling a home are important decisions and require different requirements. Below are helpful tips for both buyers and sellers to help you prepare for what lies ahead in your search for, or sale of, your home.

How Accurate Are Zillow Zestimates?

Zillow's CEO Spencer Rascoff sold one of his personally owned Seattle homes in late February for $1.05 million, a whopping 40% less than his company's property page estimated the home's value. 

Read entire article  here .

Read entire article here.

Though Zillow itself openly acknowledges that it's Zestimates are just that-estimates-many consumers are lured in by the dollar figure, especially if it plays in their favor. This can result in pricing challenges between sellers and their agent as some consumers believe that Zillow possesses a 'crystal ball' when it comes to home valuations.

Zillow says that it's national media error rate for it's Zestimates is 7.9%. This means half of Zestimates nationwide are within 7.9 percent of a home’s sales price and half are off by more than 7.9 percent.

As with Rascoff's home, the Zestimate for luxury properties tends to differ from the actual market value much more than less expensive properties. 

"Zestimates can’t take into account “non-quantifiable facts,” such as layout design or lighting, and these facts can have much more of an effect on the values of luxury homes than less expensive properties,says Zillow Senior Economist Skylar Olsen. Real estate agents can see how special features impact a property’s value, but the “Zestimate algorithm can’t know” and “at this point in time, it’s not designed to know,” she said.

As such, though it's calculated scientifically using a variety of data, the Zestimate is a good starting point as well as a historical reference, but it should not be used for pricing a home. 

If you are in the market to sell a home in San Francisco or Marin County, The Costa Group can help you determine the market value of your home.


Should You Stage Your Home?

You've lived in your home and love it!  You've carefully chosen your furniture and accessories and are proud of it too.  You are ready to sell and your real estate agent suggests staging your home.  You may ask yourself, "Why do they want me to stage? Don't they like the home the way it is?"  The answer is of course your agent loves your home and for that reason is recommending staging or partial staging to bring out your home's best features.

What is staging?

Staging is the process of either adding, subtracting or replacing furniture and accessories to highlight the architecture, amount of light and general flow of the rooms in your home for ease of movement and to encourage "Oooh's and Ahh's" when prospective buyers view your home. 

What does it include?

It can include:

  • Moving existing furniture into a new configuration or replacing it with furniture from the stagers collection
  • Changing or removing carpets and area rugs, refinishing floors
  • Changing or removing window coverings (drapes and blinds)
  • Editing (removing) personal items and family pictures.  Think the fridge covered with pics starting all the way back in college.  
  • Adding flowers or greenery, well placed accessories, like place settings & table runners, vases or sculptures, a stack of interesting coffee table books, a wall art grouping, bath accessories 
  • Sometimes interior paint colors are recommended to freshen and lighten up the space. 
  • Minor repairs may be recommended, changing a faucet, repairing a cracked window, adding window screens, refinishing a deck.  Your agent will weigh in on this before your stager arrives.
  • Partial staging may be advised, when the stager uses existing furniture, art and accessories, editing out (storing away) additional furniture or items that may distract a prospective buyers eye.  Less is more in staging. A good, clean and uncluttered interior design will make the space more appealing.

Who are stagers?

Stagers usually have an interior design background and often act as designers in addition to their staging business.  Many Realtors form relationships with several staging professionals to offer their clients a variety of services and price points to choose from.


Is it worth the cost?

Staging has been shown to exponentially increase the final offer price for homes. The buyers first impression is so important.  You want them to walk into your home and feel right away that they could live there.  To judge the worth of staging, do a little sleuthing of your own. View homes for sale in your area to see what the trend is in your region.  Ask your agents for comparable pricing regarding asking price versus sale price on the homes you have viewed to determine how well the staged homes did in comparison.

The Real Estate Staging Association (a non-profit association to the staging trade), provides a free booklet that provides a comprehensive guide to staging including statistics.  The Consumers Guide to Real Estate Staging.

Your home is likely your biggest asset and you have taken good care of it.  Staging your home can be the last step to insuring you receive the highest and best value for your home.  Consult with your Realtor to determine if this is the right step for you.