Preparing your Home for Resale with Lindsay Williams and Cody Sustakoski
Man 1: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s My Bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.
Eric: Hello and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, community savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter. And in today’s episode, “What Matters Most” are preparing your home for resale and tips that you can use for that process. With this helpful discussion I am joined today, once again, in our second of a three-part episode by Lindsay Williams, broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Touchdown Home Pros Realty in Morgantown, West Virginia, and as well as Cody Sustakoski, residential loan originator in First United’s mortgage area. Good morning again, both of you. How are you today?
Lindsay: Good. Thank you.
Cody: Doing well.
Eric: Excellent. Well, thanks for joining me again today. So, we’re halfway through this three-part series, we’re talking about a topic that is important right now. A lot of people are thinking about either home improvement, as they head into the spring season, or they’re thinking about prepping their home for sale or they’re looking at moving or maybe they’re actively in the housing market right now. We kind of touched on a little bit last week with some of the do’s and don’ts of getting value in your home. But when you’re prepping for resale, Lindsay, talk to us a little bit about that process and kind of your best practices that you recommend to your clients.
Lindsay: So, Eric, a huge part of our industry, my team and I promote is education of our buyers and our sellers. We want to make sure that they know what to expect, and how this should work or is going to work. So, when we are looking at helping someone resale their house, don’t wait till 24 hours before you hope the sign goes into the yard, let us be aware and discuss this with you. We talk a lot and I think I mentioned in the first one, we like to say we’re the community ambassadors, we’re the forever brand, the forever agency, the forever realtor who’s going to be with you through all stages of life. So, it’s kind of funny, everyone has a dentist, they go to a dentist, and everyone has a primary care physician. Most people have a tax accountant, they have an attorney, hopefully not. But a lot of people have attorneys, right? But they have all these professionals at their disposal and turns out real estate’s gonna be the most money they ever spend, and they like haphazard willy-nilly just run out and find themselves a realtor. That’s absurd. Build that relationship.
If you are looking at putting your house on the market, and you think right now, in March of 2020, hey, I think maybe I’m gonna put my house on the market in the fall, let’s go ahead and talk to Lindsay, or someone on her team, or whoever my realtor is, let’s go ahead and talk to that person and see what we need to do to be making those steps in the right direction. What do they see in the house that we need to take care of or we need to address? And a lot of times realtors haven’t been back in your house since the final walkthrough. You know, if we’re cultivating that relationship like we should be, we should be there the day you close, and the day you’re ready to resale, we want our sign to be the one going back up in your yard. So, call us between the two days, you know, just check-in, and we want to call you, don’t think it’s weird. My team reaches out to our clients, you know, “Hey, I saw this, it made me think of you. Remember when we were showing houses and there was the, whatever, we found some,” you know, we could all write a book on real estate and showing houses, “but let us come in and look at that. What do you need to do to get your house ready for resale?” And some of what we touched on in the first episode is that what HGTV tells you is potentially not really what you need to do. So, we have checklist of things that we find buyers look for that a lot of times are those deferred maintenance issues, or just cleaning things. And don’t be offended when someone in my team comes in and is like…
Eric: You need to clean.
Lindsay: Yes. Yeah. Right?
Cody: You are filthy.
Lindsay: So, your house is really not so bad, but when was the last time you wiped your baseboards off? And most people don’t do it. Or when did you clean on top of your refrigerator? Why would a buyer look on top of your refrigerator? They do. It’s weird. Like, they’re opening every cabinet, every closet. Getting your house ready for resale doesn’t mean shoving all this stuff under the bed and in the closets. That stuff falls out soon as you open the door. So, just having those checklists of things that we find people notice, or they talk about, knocking down the cobwebs. Cody’s tall, I’m tall, no one wants to walk down in a basement and walk through cobwebs between the things, and that happens all the time. I’m always the one who gets those. But, you know, let us walk through with you and be on the same page with a timeline. We can educate you on what the market’s doing, what to expect in the market, what we think is going to be on-trend moving forward in the market. Because, you know, West Virginia especially is different than most of the country, we tend to, I don’t want to say we’re super recession-proof, but we’re recession delayed. Let’s say that. We know it’s coming. Everyone in the country says it’s coming, and two years later, it hits us. So, there’s things like that that we know. And whether it’s Southwestern Pennsylvania, Maryland, we are educated around our surroundings, so we can help with that.
Eric: Cool. How does that process work for clients that call you whether they’re moving in-state, down the road, or across country? Does that change or can you help people kind of regardless of where they go?
Lindsay: We can help no matter what. I mean, looking at that relationship and building that relationship, we want to be the person that you call and you say, “I’m so excited, we’ve decided we’re moving to Georgia.” “Well, that’s wonderful. I’m so excited for you, but we’re going to miss you being here. What can we help you with? Do you have a realtor already in Georgia?” Let us do that legwork. We’ve already worked with you, we know how you like to work, we know your personality type. I know by talking to someone for a few minutes, which one of my team members is going to be the best option to help this person.
Eric: That’s cool.
Lindsay: So let us go ahead and make those calls to the realtor in Georgia and get you set up with that. A lot of times, they’re…more realtors as a general rule sometimes tend to be more proactive, when there’s that hand-to-hand relationship, that passing of the client. So, you can tell them, you know, he’s really tall, so don’t take him into anything that’s like got a six-foot finished attic, you know, that’s not gonna work. But just things like that, to give some of those hints and how to work with people, it’s a much better experience when you go to Georgia, and you feel like you already know that person. Because it’s a warm connection, it’s not just, you know, haphazardly finding someone. Do we know everyone who works in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas? No. But, you know, whether or not we look in-network with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, which we’re international, you know, all over the place, you want go to Germany, we got you. You want to go to Dubai, we got you. But we’re also a member of the National Association of Realtors, and there’s a million strong, there’s a million of us, we connect. And we’d love to help put that in place and continue that relationship. Who knows when you end up coming back home?
Cody: Well, I think, let’s be honest, there’s this additional sense of accountability when you receive a referral from somebody, be it local or not local. I mean, obviously, when any realtor in town sends me a referral, I’m just praying that we don’t screw this up. And even when you’re sending it out, I think there’s just that sense of wanting to do better because you know somebody else is looking over your shoulder.
Lindsay: Right. No doubt.
Eric: Yeah, I think there’s a general sense of responsibility that people have, but that added pressure of someone expects that I’m going to deliver, that’s super important. You were also mentioning, I think that the idea of having that other set of eyes. You know, from a staging standpoint, a lot of times people don’t think about some of the things that you were pointing to. How often do you find that, like, we talked about it here at the bank, when people just walk out and come in like a customer so you can experience what they experience so that you understand better what they’re seeing, what they’re feeling. Because we don’t do that, we come in from a different door, you know, and so if you’re not walking in your own front door, when you’re going to sell, you may not notice that that paint is chipped there and that rock is cracked there, or the door is a little off-kilter or something, something that someone else walking in the first time would notice. And that’s their first impression.
Lindsay: Well, it’s not only that, it’s furniture placement. I mean, people like their furniture. My dad used to always say, you don’t buy a house for the furniture you have, stop talking about this bedroom suite you have. Still have that bedroom suite. But, you know, it’s hard when people have their house that they love, and they have this furnitures, bedrooms especially, super big furniture, it makes the room look super small. So, you know, we walk through, and it’s like, let’s rearrange this room.
Eric: Twin beds for every room.
Lindsay: Right. Right. And we’re going to tell everyone they’re king. We’re gonna take a picture with this fun lens, it’s gonna distort it, and it will look like a king size, but until people show up. We don’t use that. But, you know, definitely don’t get your feelings hurt, we’re trying to get you the most amount of money for the least amount of time. And if we do our job right, if we have you set up from the beginning, and we have the resources in place, I mean, cleaning people, we know them, junk haulers, we know them, people who are just going to move everything down to the basement, and then the other people that we know who will come and pick it up and take it away. Like, all of this stuff, we can help you decide. You know, when you say, “I just really don’t like this piece of furniture anymore.” “Okay, well, do you want to sell it or do you want to donate it? What do you think you could get if you sold it? What do you think your tax write-off would be?” You know?
Lindsay: So, we’re definitely not tax people, but we know that we do that. So, you know, let’s figure out where is your best time spent with this asset. So, putting us into that place where we can help with that, and rearrange the pillows, and change things. And, you know, most of my team, right upfront, we go into a house and it’s, like, “This is a super awesome couch, why do you have it on this wall?” You know, like, we tend to put things in places that maybe block the walkway, that would be a natural walkway. But that’s the best way to have this most seating facing the TV, that’s our culture, right?
Lindsay: So, you know, while we have the house on the market, while we’re showing it, let’s just rearrange this a little bit. “Well, I don’t want to do that, because the carpet is going to have dents from where this couch is sat.” “Well, that’s okay, you got ice cubes? I’ll bring some.” We just put some ice cubes in those dents, let it melt and they pop back up.
Eric: That’s how that works?
Lindsay:We have so many tricks. So…
Eric: That’s good to know.
Eric: I just try to use the vacuum, you know, just keep going over and over and over to try to…
Cody: Uh-huh. I’ve used an iron before…
Eric: …pull it up.
Cody: …and it worked well. Then you run the risk of burning a hole in your carpet.
Lindsay: Burning your carpet.
Cody: We have a different problem now.
Lindsay: Ice cubes, y’all, ice cubes.
Eric: Ice cubes. Interesting.
Eric: That’s a good one. So, Cody, so we talked about getting the realtor involved early. Does the same approach apply from the banking side of things?
Cody: I mean, it absolutely does. It really depends on, why are you selling? Are you upgrading? Are you moving? Are you gonna buy an RV and live on the road for the rest of your life? I mean, that’s apparently the big thing now.
Eric: It’s the thing.
Cody: So, you know, it really depends, and it is a good idea. Because, you know, you got to realize your lender when you bought the home, there’s a whole plethora of resources that they have at their disposal, you know, they have the appraisal from when you originally did that. So, there might be some things where your previous lender or that your current lender can discuss with your realtor as far as, you know, maybe there’s a few tweaks we can make on this house to make it, you know, compliant with an FHA type loan to widen your buyer base. And it might be as simple as, hey, you know, if you add a handrail there, you know, you’re going to have potentially a whole bunch of different buyers that could come in with a 3.5% down program. Or maybe there’s no way we’re going to get this house to being compliant there, so we need to have that conversation. But, you know, I would, say, like Lindsay’s talk, you know, it’s a forever relationship, don’t think that your lender is also just transactional. You know, yes, selfishly, I’d like for you to come back because I’d like to do your next loan. But at the same time, you know, we helped you make the biggest purchase of your life, potentially. And, you know, I want you to feel like you can come back and talk to me. And like she said, even if you’re moving out of state, to help you find another lender, yeah, can I lend in the full continental U.S.? Yes. Am I probably the best lender to work with if you’re buying a house in California? No, because I don’t know the market, I’m not specialized in that market. But can I help you as far as finding you somebody else or, again, peeking over your shoulder to hold that person accountable? All day long. So yeah, I mean, it’s very important to get a lender involved depending on what your plan is to make sure that you’re teeing yourself up.
Eric: Excellent. All right. So, I’ll open it up now to either of you. Any final thoughts about preparing homes for resale? Is there anything we’ve left on the table, any other ice cube facts that we need to be aware of, Lindsay?
Lindsay: Ice cube facts? You know, people always talk about how amazing the spring market is and getting ready for the spring market, here it is, March and whatever, you know, you want to work with a team who knows about the market, what’s happening with the market. Our spring market per se, 2021, started, like, in December, the week before Christmas. It has been absolutely crazy, not crazy bad, crazy kind of like wow, is it March and April? And there’s a lot of, you know, I’m gonna put my house on the market, but I think I’m going to wait till the spring. Well, there is no need to wait till the spring, it’s spring. It’s January 10th, it’s spring. So, talking to the person who knows what those goals are, and let’s say, I really want to… I’m doing new construction in South Carolina. That’s wonderful. You’re expecting it to be done by when? Well, with the market conditions the way they are, let’s try to get on the market and get you into a place where you can piggyback on those closings, so you can close here and then close there. You don’t want to move in time? Well, you know what? The market is such right now in Morgantown that that’s fine. We can sell your house, someone will pay for it and let you continue living there because there’s nothing else for them to buy, inventory is that low.
So, you know, but you don’t know that if you’re not talking to a realtor who’s doing this daily. You know, if you’re not talking to someone who knows, and you just assume it’s like it was in 2018 when you bought, that’s not the case. So, you want someone to advocate for you and help you with that timeline. Or, you know, employer layoffs, things like that. Is that going to affect the market? Realtors know. We’re talking amongst ourselves, we’re talking with community people. And we don’t have a crystal ball. Like, we haven’t figured that completely out yet, but we definitely have our finger on the pulse of the community. So, we know what we’re expecting. And sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised when that doesn’t happen, and sometimes we feel justified if it does, you know?
Lindsay: But definitely, if you’re not putting those people on to your experiences, you’re missing out with a huge part of life.
Eric: Right. Right. Lean on the experts that you have at your disposal.
Lindsay: For sure.
Eric: That’s really good advice. And do you think that has the pandemic influenced what you’re talking about more than normal? Is the influx of people getting out of the city into more rural areas?
Lindsay: So many people are like, “All the people are leaving D.C. and coming to Morgantown.” I mean, there are some people leaving D.C. and coming to Morgantown, they’re not really leaving D.C. either, they still have their place there. You know what I mean? But now they have this home too. And that’s perfectly fine. We know that that’s happening, we know that that exists. You know, I’ve been selling real estate for 19 years. Sometimes I think I can’t be that old, but clearly I am. So, I’ve been selling right out of college, 19 years in real estate, and as long as I’ve started, people are like, “Rates are never gonna go this low again.” And now we joke, it’s like, “Hey, Cody, I’m gonna buy a house, what are you gonna pay me to do it? What interest are you gonna give me to buy this house with your money?” You know?
Lindsay: Rates are just so low. So, I think what happened in 2020 is more so people are saying, “We were stuck in our house, and we had two dogs and a spouse and six kids most of the time because, you know, the cousins were here all the time, because my sister and brother work out of the house and, like, this is too small, we need more house.” Some people are overcompensating, some people are buying way huger houses, some people want a house with a pool because they didn’t get it go to one last year, they didn’t travel. And with interest rates as low as they are, and still, like one lender a couple weeks ago was like, “Rates are spiking,” and I’m like, “To “3.125%, girlfriend? Please.” Like, they’re not spiking anywhere. You know, like, did they go up a little bit? Sure. Should we be panicked yet? 1986, my parents had their first loan at 16.8%. Hello. That was awful.
Cody: I tell people all the time, if they stay below 5%, we’re doing just fine. Let’s look at history here.
Lindsay: Right. We’re golden. But when you look at it, these rates are so low so people can afford more house, they can afford bigger house. The problem is inventory is so low, they put their house on the market, they don’t really know where they’re going. So, we’re kinda in this weird conundrum were a ton of people want to buy and people are afraid to sell because where are they going? But we’re great with planning and puzzles. And that is, like, one of our favorites.
Cody: I think just teed up next week’s episode, which we’re going to be talking a little bit more about, the buying process and what to do if you’re selling and, you know, buying in general, there’s lots of little tips and tricks and obviously planning seems to be the resounding word.
Lindsay: Yeah. For sure.
Eric: Absolutely. All right. Well, I think that wraps it up. Lindsay, thank you again for joining Cody and I today. If anyone has a question or wants to learn more, what’s the best way they can get the support they need?
Lindsay: You can reach out to us on our website, all of our contact information is there. It’s bhhstouchdownhp.com, or find us on our community on Facebook at bhhstdhomepros, we would love to talk to you and stay in touch.
Eric: Excellent. And, Cody, thanks again for joining for the second episode. If anyone has questions, wants to learn more, what’s the best way they can get the support they need from you?
Cody: Best way to find the local contact would be to go to our website, which is mybank.com. And you can either look for the closest branch or you can pull up any one of the mortgage loan originators on that site and find our direct contact information.
Eric: Excellent. All right. Thank you both again. That brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app. You can also leave feedback, ask questions, or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content. But until then, we wish you the best and focusing on what matters most to you.
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