Dryer, Dryer, Pants on Fire!

A version of this post originally appeared on The Kinney Company blog.

Ever get that niggling feeling in your stomach when you turn on the dryer as you’re leaving for work?  If you do, you’ve got a healthy wariness for the fallibility of household appliances and perhaps more so for the ones that produce heat.  (The other possibility is that you don’t feel like going to work.)

According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Data Center, over 15,000 clothes dryer fires occur in the U.S. every year, and 80% of those fires are caused by clogged dryer vents.  For safety, the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend yearly dryer vent inspections.  In addition to reducing the risk of fire, clear dryer vents decrease drying times and prevent the overheating that can damage clothing, thus reducing energy costs and increasing the lifespan of your dryer and your wardrobe.

Do-It-Yourself kits are available for about $20 at home improvement stores, but a professional inspection and cleaning is more effective, especially if your dryer is not located next to an exterior wall.  (A centrally located exhaust vent needs to snake around inside your walls to its exit point, making it much more difficult to clean.)  DIY kits sometimes don’t cut the mustard, and the cleaning elements may break off inside your ductwork.  (You’ll definitely be calling the professionals to have those removed!)  Most importantly, you may be left with a false sense of security that your vent is safe when it still poses a fire hazard.

To see how much a professional cleaning would set you back, I contacted a local business with a 5-star Yelp review that specializes in dryer vent cleaning.  For the flat rate of $129 + tax, they will pull out the dryer, snake out the entire vent with a 4-inch rotating brush, and remove the debris with a high-powered vacuum.  This particular provider is fully insured, provides a 6-month warranty, and provides same or next day service.  I recommend the professionals.

Routine maintenance is easy to overlook, but it’s the best insurance for providing safety and security for your family.  Luckily, all that long-term care shows when it’s time to sell and helps you get the best price for your home.

~Lazan Pargaman, Realtor®
512-750-5599

Are you ready to sell your home?  Or buy a new place?  I specialize in helping people make great real estate decisions.  Please contact me today to begin your real estate journey.

January 1st: The Day a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A version of this post originally appeared on The Kinney Company blog.

It’s nearly January 1st, the day of the year we feel empowered to consider a life-changing plan or resolution for the new year.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Many years we start exercise regimens, declare a change in behavior, or go on a diet, but have you ever resolved to be prepared to defend and possibly lower your property tax assessment?

In Texas, January 1st is the day real property values are set. This snapshot in time will be the basis for determining your property tax bill, courtesy of your county appraisal district.  Yes, while we are all making resolutions, resting from our evening of revelry the night before, or enjoying football on television, the county appraisal district is setting your property values in their ledgers.  Of course a single day is not enough time for the county agents to determine the value of every property in the district, but the law does say January 1st.

Later on in the year, usually in April, the districts send out notices letting property owners know what values were chosen and providing an opportunity for owners to appear and dispute the value.  Remember, the true physical condition of your property on January 1st is the basis to determine its real property value.  As a property owner, it is critical to have detailed notes and documentation of your property’s condition on this particular day.

So, if your house is in a state of disrepair on January 1st, it will be worth less and your tax bill will decrease accordingly.  If you are in the throes of remodeling your house on that date, it’s worth less—especially if it is all torn up.  Take pictures to document the work.  If there are issues that make your home less valuable such as a cracked slab, rotted areas, roofing issues, or anything else in disrepair, take a picture of it.  If the landscape is dead, the garbage cans are out front and the place looks simply awful, take a picture of it!  If the old junk car happens to get in the photo too, well, so be it.  You may need this evidence later if you think the county has over-valued your property.  Successful arguments that your value is lower than the county appraisal district has determined may depend on these photos.

So grab your camera, turn on its date stamp, and take some pictures of your property.  Instead of trying to make your photos look great, think about doing just the opposite – think about photographing your house in the worst possible way!  When you’re done, sit back, relax, and feel good that you’ve done something to help yourself down the road in 2015.  And with that, let me be one of the first to wish you a happy New Year!

~Lazan Pargaman, Realtor®
512-750-5599

Are you ready to sell your home?  Or buy a new place?  I specialize in helping people make great real estate decisions.  Please contact me today to begin your real estate journey.

Five Costly Mistakes Sellers Often Make

A version of this post originally appeared on The Kinney Company blog.

Ready to put your home on the market and get it sold quickly at its full value price?  As a Realtor® with years of experience helping clients buy and sell homes, I see the same seller mistakes made time and again; some I can spot even before I get out of the car.  Before you put your home on the market, beware of the common pitfalls below:

Poor Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the visual impression made by everything from the street to the front door, and it sets the stage for how prospective buyers will view your property.  Is the curb clean and well-manicured?  Is the landscape well-groomed, healthy, and attractive?  Is the front porch and walkway to the front door in good order and easy to navigate?  Are the home’s windows clean and shiny?  Maybe the screens need to be removed to reveal the pretty windows.  And don’t forget the roof — it should be clean of leaves and other debris and in good condition.  Ask your Realtor® if they have any additional suggestions.

Yard Cleanup: Always a Good Investment

Bad Lighting

A dark house is uninviting.  When you know your house is about to be shown, make sure you leave appropriate lights turned on and window coverings open.  Good lighting lets the Realtor® and prospective buyers can find their way around without difficulty and provides a warm sense of hospitality.  Your Realtor® can offer suggestions on which lighting helps your home present best.

Clutter and Dirt

A cluttered, dirty home appears uncared for, which reduces its value in the eye of a prospective buyer.  Cleaning and decluttering your house is the most cost-effective investment of time and money you can make to increase your home’s market appeal.  Trim and baseboards, thresholds, windows, tile grout—everything should be clean.  Who wants to touch a door handle with dirt, grease and grime around it?  And dirty bathrooms are the worst.  If you aren’t one to keep your place neat, then hire a professional to help you clean it up—someone with an eye that sees the dirt you no longer see.

Overpricing

The market sets the price for properties.  If your property is overpriced, it will likely sit on the market longer and eventually sell for less than it would have if you’d priced it fairly to begin with.  I see this all the time with houses priced too high—a buyer knows the price is too high for the market, but they won’t make a significantly lower offer for fear of insulting the seller.  Or, a buyer might feel deceived and frustrated when the property doesn’t measure up to what they were expecting to see for that price.  In both scenarios, the prospective buyer declines to make an offer, and the house stays on the market.  In a hot market, buyers assume something is wrong when a house hasn’t sold in the expected amount of time and often decline to even look at it, much less make an offer.  This could mean a long, downward spiral for the seller as the price continues to be reduced until the house finally sells at a bargain hunter’s price.  If you start with a realistic price (your Realtor® can advise you), you’ll end up with a better price for your home in a shorter amount of time.

Lurking During Showings

I know it’s tempting to hang around and see how prospective buyers respond to your home, but don’t!  Get out of there and let the buyers get a sense of what this house would feel like if it were their own!  Buyers don’t feel free to comment to their partner or agent about things they do or don’t like when owners hover around.  In fact, they often cut their viewing time short and leave without taking the time to fall in love with the home.  If the buyer has questions that only an owner can answer, they can be addressed with a follow-up phone call or email.

~Lazan Pargaman, Realtor®
512-750-5599

Are you ready to sell your home?  Or buy a new place?  I specialize in helping people make great real estate decisions.  Please contact me today to begin your real estate journey.

Pocket Listings: Are They Good for Sellers?

A version of this post originally appeared on The Kinney Company blog.

A recent trend I’ve seen in Austin’s robust real estate market is the “pocket” or “whisper” listing.  Fashioned as an avenue to market homes outside the Multiple Listing System (MLS), some Austin real estate brokers and their clients are choosing to take this exclusive approach for marketing their upscale properties.  (The approach is certainly “exclusive” in the sense that it EXCLUDES people from knowing about the listing.)  New websites tailored especially for pocket listings are now online, which is interesting since the objective of a pocket listing is secrecy.

The primary motivation for selling a home this way is the privacy it affords the seller.  When the Realtor® keeps the listing in his or her “pocket,” the seller can be spared the intrusion and inconvenience that comes with the traditional way of marketing a house.  There’s no sign in the yard, no MLS listing for every agent in the system to view, and certainly no interior photos posted on public websites for all the world to see.  Open houses can often be avoided and the number of prospective buyers viewing the property is significantly smaller.  In some cases, the seller does not have to spend the time and money that would otherwise be required to prepare the property for showing.

Some suggest a second motivation is to keep the selling price a secret.  If the price truly remains a secret, the buyer could benefit financially by keeping the property taxing authorities in the dark about the value.  However, unless the buyer pays cash, at least the amount of the mortgage will be available in the public records.

So what’s the downside of pocket listing for a seller in the Austin real estate market?  It’s the high likelihood of leaving money on the table.  Austin is a seller’s market right now—there are more prospective buyers than there are properties for sale.  As a seller, your best assurance for getting full market value for your property is by garnering multiple offers.  The more prospective buyers who view your property, the more likely you are to get the highest price.

There are, of course, sellers whose circumstances require discretion, and for them, maintaining privacy is more important than getting top dollar.  For this very select group, the pocket listing is a good option.  But if getting the best sale price for your property is your goal, put yourself in the hands of an experienced Realtor® who will list your property on MLS and advertise and market it in ways that will reach the largest number of prospective buyers.

~Lazan Pargaman, Realtor®
512-750-5599

Are you ready to sell your home?  Or buy a new place?  I specialize in helping people make great real estate decisions.  Please contact me today to begin your real estate journey.

Contact Lazan

Hello!

Thank you for visiting my site.  I’d love to help you purchase a new home or sell your existing one.  Please send me an email via the contact form below or give me call, and we can begin your next real estate journey.

Lazan Pargaman
512-750-5599

About Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty

I’m proud to work with Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, one of the most prestigious real estate brands in the world.  Our mission is to be the leader of Luxury Real Estate in Texas by providing service that exceeds expectations and presenting progressive marketing and innovative technology.

At Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, luxury isn’t a price point; it’s a level of service.  With a deep sense of integrity and a comprehensive knowledge of real estate, we offer each of our clients and customers our total commitment to service.

We offer million-dollar marketing for homes of all price ranges.  Our team of brand marketing experts work with our real estate agents to create customized packages that revolve around stunning professional photography and video for every home.

The marketing materials for your property are highly tailored based on your property and the current trends in the market.  We will build customized marketing materials to sell your home that may include: compelling marketing brochures, a property website, eblasts sent to real estate agents, and oversized postcards sent to targeted homeowners.

Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty has always been focused on enhancing the quality of life in this, the vibrant heart of Texas.  Through the Kuper Impact program, each office selects a charitable cause, and my office is raising money for Foundation Communities, an organization that provides affordable housing and support services for working families, veterans, seniors, and inviduals with disabilities.

For more information about Kuper Sotheby’s, please visit Only With Kuper or call me today at 512-750-5599 to begin your real estate journey.

About Lazan

Hello! I’m Lazan (rhymes with Ann), and I love to help clients make great real estate decisions!  I’ve been in the business for over two decades, and I’d be delighted to help you sell your home or buy a new one.

I’m a third-generation Austinite, and I’ve lived in this area for my entire life.  I’ve watched as Austin has transitioned from a quiet university town into a bustling, dynamic city, rich in diversity and opportunity.  Despite its growing sophistication, however, Austin retains a small-town sense of community that is very much a part of our daily lives and our neighborhoods, each of which is as unique as our wonderfully unique city.

In a city as diverse as Austin—with neighborhoods that run the gamut from downtown high rises to large lots studded with mature oaks and homes from colonial to contemporary—navigating the real estate market requires a depth of knowledge of both Austin’s Real estate industry and our town.

As a seller’s agent, I bring the full marketing capabilities of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, a detailed knowledge of how to best present your home to prospective buyers, and a no-nonsense attitude towards negotiations.  My clients receive hands-on care and attention when preparing their property for market, because I believe presentation and thoughtful design are critical to getting top dollar.  I, partnered with my marketing team, will help you position your property so that it will receive maximum exposure to the right buyers—whether that requires a private pocket listing or a full-out advertising campaign.

As a buyer’s agent, I bring my experience building and renovating homes, personalized service, and determination to help my clients find the right fit.  I enjoy helping clients see past a house’s surface to its substance.  Houses need good underwear, not just a coat of lipstick, and I help buyers tell the difference.  All of my clients receive a high standard of care, and I ensure that they have adequate information to purchase a home that fits their needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Straightforward, honest, experienced.  Please contact me today to begin your real estate journey.

Lazan Pargaman
512-750-5599