Sold By The Craft Team

Just Call The Guy…

I watch a lot of HGTV. A LOT. It’s hard to resist– a bit like watching a fairy tale unfold in real time. The magic fairy (AKA witch) has cast a spell over me. I am now convinced that with the proper tools and access to Pottery Barn, I too can be a designer/contractor genius.

It begins innocently enough. I peruse the bathroom space – dingy Melamine cabinets with peeling sides, an ostentatious lack of hardware and several chipping baseboards. I make the call to focus on that and leave the wall paint and tile for another day. I don’t have a tile cutter after all and haven’t read that book yet. But cabinet paint, cabinet paint I can handle. I budget $200 and two hours of labor.

I buy the equipment. Carefully chosen hardware from the local hardware store’s sale bin, plastic drop cloths, painter’s tape, paint, drill, sandpaper, and hardware guide. I am good to go. I get to floating and taping.

Huh. The painter’s tape isn’t sticking. It just curls off … and then sticks to itself. Hmm. Well. That’s no good. I set the tape down on the drop cloth. Now it sticks … to the drop cloth, my shoe, and my dress. No problem. I was going to need to change. I toss the green tape in favor of good old blue, and trade in the sundress for shorts and a tank top. I re-do the plastic drop cloth. Much better.

Paint tape, check. I move on to the hardware. Being a veteran DIY viewer/reader, I know enough to prep for the hardware before painting. I pull out my hardware marker and start marking. Perfect. I line up the drill and voila! Beautiful holes. I want to see how fabulous my handiwork is. I line up my handle. Hmm. Holes are too close together. I re-measure. 1/16” off. No problem. That’s why they make wood filler. I quickly fill in the hole and move on to the next one. This time I get the spacing right, but it’s crooked.  Maybe there’s something wrong with my level. I shake it. Bubbles are fine. It must have slipped. I’m starting to wonder if I have enough wood filler.

An hour and a half later I have completed my hardware holes and am down two jars of wood filler. Not a huge blow to the budget – just a measly $5.00. The new hardware will cover most of the holes. I am filled with renewed confidence and am ready to tackle the peeling Melamine.

I pull out the wood glue and begin my first peeling section. I work both sides until they are tacky, hold them together, and voila! Fixed Melamine. I move on to the next door … and see the Melamine from the first pop off. Huh. Maybe I need to hold it longer. Six tries. No luck. I decide to head back to Home Depot for a clamp.

$30.00 later and the clamp just slides down the door. Melamine hates me. I officially hate it back. I take a deep breath. It’s just a little hiccup. I decide the paint will seal it.

I am way behind schedule. I re-think priming. I decide to prime the peeling sections only. Seems to be working – somewhat. Between the glue and the primer, the peelings are sticking. Aside from a few unsightly drip marks, they look remarkably better. While attempting to correct one cabinet, I notice the bulge on the bottom side of the other. Huh; didn’t notice that before. I investigate and discover water damage from an overturned shampoo bottle. No problem. Sand and prime with Kills -– take that Melamine!!

I begin my sanding with my heavy gage sandpaper – no fine grit for this job! The cabinet appears to be shredding. I now have a mess of wood shavings on the floor. I google “water damage and wood shredding upon sanding.“ The news is not good. You shouldn’t sand water-damaged particle board. I say a bad word. I google, “wood sealants.” And I embark on another trip to home depot.

Wood sealant and can #2 of Kills – $94.23. Budget is starting to take a hit.

Hour three and I am ready to paint. I am back on track and rocking it! This is my forte: the paint is looking good. Nice clean brush strokes, beautiful cross hatching, a few loose brush hairs and some sawdust … wait. That’s not good. That’s not good at all. I cuss a little. I take a paint cloth and wipe down that section. I’m ready to repaint when I tip over my paint cup. I cuss a little more. It’s OK. I congratulate myself on my flawless drop cloth application. No harm done … until I sit in the paint. Words I didn’t know I knew fly out of my mouth. I decide I need a break and opt to get some water.

Walking back, I see it — the trail of oil-based footprints leading to and from the kitchen. What can only be described as a primordial scream escapes from my throat. I scrub off my foot with mineral spirits. I remove my shorts before cleaning the floor. Pretty smart. No sense risking more paint on the wood floor.

I make my way back to admire my paint job and toss the shorts in the corner. It doesn’t look as good as I thought. It probably just needs a second coat. I read the label. Three hours between coats. Are you *&%$ing kidding me??? It’s Ok. I can test out one of the handles and see how it looks.

So far, so good. Screws are a little long, but I have extra nuts. I’ll just double bolt. Not bad. As if to taunt me, the faux drawer slips, revealing a gap. Great. It’s broken. I pull at it a little and the whole face comes off in my hand. I yell many, many more bad words.  I recall the ineffectiveness of the wood glue and opt for super glue instead. Stupid drawer thinks it’s going to get the better of me – think again drawer face!!

I spread some super glue on the cabinet and set the faux drawer face in my lap. Sweat keeps running into my eyes and I am pretty sure I have paint in my hair. I’m getting dizzy from the fumes from the glue and the mineral spirits. I persevere. I spread the glue on the drawer face and let it sit a minute to get tacky. I’ve got this! I lift the piece up. Drawer face has won.

I have super glued it to my bare leg. I hear myself sob. I rip it off my leg. … along with a chunk of my skin. Now, I’m bleeding. I crawl over to the toilet and pull off some toilet tissue to stick on the wound.

And it is at this point that my husband walks into the room to assess the progress. He doesn’t say anything at first. He just raises an eyebrow. I look around. I am half naked and bleeding, covered in paint and sweat. The room is covered in a mix of paint, sawdust and hardware … with my shorts tossed in the corner and a broken drawer face at my paint-stained bare feet.

He finally breaks the silence, “Call the guy …” and walks out.

I start to protest and then finally nod in tearful agreement. The HGTV siren has guided my ship toward the rocks once again …

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Timing Your Listing

Many factors go into a successful sale and timing of the listing is one of the most critical aspects. For the past three years in Houston, the highest dollar value for homes has come in May, June, and July with December being another high dollar month. Consider the following when deciding when to list:

• What is the make-up of your neighborhood? If you live in an area where many homes are occupied by families with school-aged children, you will want to list in the spring when most of those buyers are looking or consider a December list – some families are willing to relocate at the mid-year mark for school.

• Are you listing a townhome or a patio home? These homes serve a wide variety of future homeowners and therefore offer you the greatest flexibility.

• Consider the market. While the spring offers the largest pool of buyers, it also offers the greatest competition. Listing when fewer homes are in inventory can result in a higher sales price, especially for homes in coveted areas or with unique sought-after features.

• Holiday listings sell. Homes decorated for the holidays usually evoke warm memories for homebuyers and who doesn’t appreciate the smell of fresh baked goods that are prevalent that time of year? In addition, psychologically, people are more open to spending.

• Meet the needs of the last minute-buyer. Late July and early August listings can appeal to those buyers who have lost out in spring bidding wars and by overlooking listings through nitpicky critiques. By the end of July, they are starting to recognize the need to move quickly or wait another year if they want to get their children in a home prior to the start of school.

• Watch for fluctuations in the interest rate. I know what you’re thinking – I am listing, not buying. But rising interest rates will limit what your buyer can spend thus effecting resale. If interest rates are looking to climb, list sooner rather than later.

• Election years can mean big payoffs for sellers and buyers. Very little movement is likely in the bond market and so for sellers, selling prior to the results can result in a big win.

• Consider the landscape – the actual one, not just the political one. The dead of winter is just that. Dead. It often means dreary curb appeal and overcast days which means your home looks gloomy – not exactly a great selling feature. This is partly the reason October, January, and February traditionally bring the lowest sales prices. The spring brings blooms and blooming sales.

• A relocation based on a job opportunity doesn’t always appear in the most ideal month. Weigh the long-term benefits of the move vs. the small price sacrifice you may need to make now and price it to sell.

• Finally – you have to be ready to make the move and commit to showings. Do not set yourself up to fail. Take down all your personal effects and mentally separate yourself from the home.

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To Open or not to Open …

Open houses spark immediate reactions from my sellers. I often hear, “Why bother with an open house?” or “We absolutely MUST do an open house!” It becomes quickly apparent that their preference for or resistance to doing one is based on myth rather than fact. So. what is true and what is not??

1. Every listing can benefit from an open house.

MYTH. For some homes, open houses are perfect and will generate high traffic and encourage multiple offers, but that is not always the case. In fact, some homes lend themselves to looky-loos and potential theft. And if your home is in poor condition, an open house may generate bad publicity and incur the wrath of your neighbors and HOA.

2. Open Houses only benefit the realtor.

MYTH. Most Realtors invest the time and money open houses demand to not only promote the listing, but also themselves. HOWEVER, 1 in 10 homes are still sold through an open house, so as a homeowner, why would you want to eliminate that 10%?

3. Listing your open house in the MLS is sufficient to generate traffic.

MYTH. While 90% of homes in Houston are sold through MLS, It is not uncommon for a buyer to “find” an open house that was not on his initial radar due to location or price-point and then fall in love with it. Many factors can encourage this outcome. Your realtor needs great signage and will be advertising up to a week in advance on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. As a homeowner, you can help as well by promoting it through your neighborhood boards and through your own social media outlets.

4. Never do an open house on a holiday weekend

IT DEPENDS. Which holiday are we talking about? Mother’s Day has been known to generate a great deal of traffic as well as the Saturday following Thanksgiving and the weekends before and after Christmas. Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day tend to have low turnouts. Think about where people are going to be for that holiday – if everybody is packing up to go to the lake, no one will be coming to your open house.

5. If one open house has poor turnout, you should not do any others.

MYTH. Lots of factors play into turnout. Now, if you do three and no one shows, this may be a listing that is not a good candidate. I can count on one hand the number of open houses I have done that consistently resulted in crickets. You may have to tweak a few things, but if at first you don’t succeed …

6. Open Houses are for the neighbors to get decorating ideas.

SOMEWHAT TRUE. But not a bad thing … neighbors like their friends to move near them. And even though they come to the open looking décor inspiration, they may leave thinking of that one person for whom your house would be perfect.

7. We should do an open house every weekend until it sells.

MAYBE. It truly depends on the speed of the market. In a fast-moving seller’s market, too many opens can make a seller look desperate – not a good look for a listing. One or two opens will give the realtor an idea of what needs to be changed to sell it and what is actually working. In a slow market, a seller may need to do multiple opens to generate traffic and spur interest.

8. If my realtor doesn’t personally host the open house, he or she isn’t doing my home justice.

MYTH. With exception – there is always that lazy realtor that would rather be at the beach than working, but that is the rare exception. More often than not, your realtor is busy working on other ways to market your property at the same time and by having another agent host the open, he or she is expanding the listing’s exposure to that agent’s network as well.

In summary, to hold or not to hold open houses are based on the unique factors of your particular listing. Personally, I like them and find that in general, they are very effective. But each home is different, and you must weigh those pros and cons for yourself after a frank discussion with a licensed Realtor. He or she is most familiar with the speed of the market, the conditions of your home, and the circumstances of your sale.