Monday, February 18, 2008

Making Your (Dog) House a Home: Moving With Less Stress for Your Pets

Anyone who has ever moved knows that there are seemingly a million and one tasks to remember, from selecting a moving company to switching off utilities. All of the adjustments and changes involved in moving to a new home can be even more challenging when you have a pet. But there are ways to prepare to minimize the stress to your furred, feathered and finned friends.
The preparation process can be as crucial a stage as the move itself – familiar settings are disrupted as furniture gets moved and belongings packed away. A cat or dog will wonder who all these strangers are (potential buyers, inspectors, movers, etc.) and what's happening to the pet's familiar "territory" (changed location of litter boxes, favorite sleeping places, etc.) – which is how an animal sees your home.
For that reason, it's actually a good idea to change the "landscape" a little more – on the animal's behalf. Designate a room to remain just for your pet while the move proceeds around them, with their familiar toys, food and water bowls, sandbox (for cats), and so forth. This way they'll have a reassuring (if rearranged) space to spend the moving process in. It will also minimize the chance of escape by anxious animals while people are coming and going from your house more than usual, and reduce the danger of a scared cat hiding itself in the moving boxes with potentially tragic results.
Such precautions help calm your pet for the developments ahead – the move itself is stressful for pets and people alike, though this too can be minimized. If you're flying, check ahead to see which airlines allow pets as "carry-ons." The cargo bay is a possibility, but will isolate and possibly frighten your pet. In either case, anxiety and exposure to the elements will be lessened if you can book a direct flight.
If you drive, make sure you know where to find hotels that allow pets rather than leaving them in the vehicle (never a good idea in terms of safety or exposure to changing temperatures), and, especially with a dog, schedule frequent "rest stops" for both animal and owner. For birds, rodents and fish, "homes away from home" can work well – transport your bird or hamster in its cage, and your fish in a plastic container of water, roomy enough for the number of fish and changed regularly for long trips.
It's always a useful idea to consult a veterinarian for all the fine points, and a qualified real estate professional to help with all the questions a house-move poses; pet-compatible services are one of many matters a real estate sales associate can look into for you. With some advance planning and help from local experts, Fido's longest walk can have a happy destination.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Good Showing: Dressing Your House for Sales Success

As important a landmark as buying a home is in people's lives, you'd be surprised at how much of it can turn on snap decisions. If you're selling a house you'll have to put careful thought into customers' first impressions, because many sales will be made or lost before they reach the front door – or as soon as they walk through it.

First consider "curb appeal" – the feeling customers get from the upkeep of the house and grounds, and how comfortable this makes them imagining themselves as a resident. You want to do everything you can to make them see your house as their house, both outside and in.

A new paint job is an investment that will more than pay for itself, and neat landscaping – trimmed shrubs, new flowers – puts your prospective buyers in just the right frame of mind. Inside, kitchens and bathrooms should be in sparkling condition – these rooms are known to be what makes up many home-seekers' minds. Removal of odors like pet smells and smoke will lessen distractions for customers you want focusing on your home's possibilities, and clearing of clutter is crucial.

The less belongings you have crowding your rooms and closets, the bigger the home will appear, and the easier it will be for potential buyers to envision placing their own possessions there. Put some things in storage if you need to, or hold a garage sale to help cut down on some of the build-up you were going to clear out for moving anyway (just hold it before buyers can see the piles on your lawn or the cars lined up on an otherwise peaceful street). For buyers picturing themselves in your home, it's also good to present the house in as general taste as possible – personal memorabilia, collectibles, and eccentric wall colors and furnishings should go out with the clutter. Repainting rooms in a neutral white also helps convey the sense of spaciousness.

Clean windows, fresh flowers, and other small details with big impact – they're what you want to remember. From major improvements which guarantee a return on your investment, to subtle touches that tip the scales in your favor, the features of a house that we often take for granted can be the ones that determine your homeselling success. According to the National Association of Realtors®, curb appeal alone accounts for half of all home sales.

A little effort now saves you a lengthy process later. First impressions will expedite the sale, and securing the services of a qualified Realtor® will make it all the surer. A real estate professional can guide you in all the above matters and more, from supplying a checklist of presentation tips, to recommending affordable painting contractors from his or her industry connections, to helping you rearrange the furniture. Whatever it takes, we can give you confidence that, for some buyer soon, the showing of your home will be love at first sight.