Smart Sellers Series: Pictures are Important!

Gone are the days of looking through the newspaper or real estate books and driving around neighborhoods to get a first impression of a house.  Instead, the first glimpse buyers get of a home is online through the pictures uploaded to the MLS.

Buyers are busy and have limited time to search through hundreds of listings, and they will quickly move on or skip listings if there is only one photo (or no photos) or if the photos are of poor quality.

If you’re thinking of selling, look through some listings online and ask yourself:

Do the photos make you want to visit the home? Do they look like they are pulled from a home design magazine? These are the kinds of pictures that will appeal to prospective buyers. Buyers want to be impressed.

Too few pictures, low quality pictures, or homes that do not have pictures of the important rooms lead buyers to question what is wrong with the property.  Buyers will move on and most likely not come back to view these listings.  The first several pictures in the listing are the most important, and should feature an eye-catching exterior front photo, and photos of the main living area, kitchen, owner’s bedroom and bathroom, as well as other attractive features (e.g., deck, patio).

Don’t have photos of the property yet? Don’t list the home until you do. The best photos are those with natural light, so make sure the photographer takes the photos during those times of the day.  Properly lit, high resolution photos are a must!  In addition, maximize the number of photos uploaded to the various websites.  Make sure there are no people (or parts of people) in the photos.  Avoid reflections in mirrors or flash feedback in windows or mirrors.

The Wendy Slaughter Team uses a professional photographer to photograph all of our listings because we understand how important this step of the marketing process is to selling your home.  Call us to learn more about our awesome marketing services can help you sell your home. (PS: Did you know in 2013, the county average “days on market” was 54 and The Wendy Slaughter Team’s “days on market” was just 16 days! Our sellers hug us a lot.)

- Debbie Gottwals

Smart Sellers Series: There is an invisible gas that can impact your deal

It’s not science fiction. There is an invisible gas that is in many homes and if discovered during your home inspection, it can cause issues with your contract – or even cause it to fall through.

The mystery gas is radon.

On a serious note…radon should not be taken lightly. There are health risks associated with radon including cancer. You can read more about radon and the associated health risks at

If you’re a seller and you haven’t had your home tested for radon, it’s important to understand the process. A buyer will most likely include a radon inspection when he/she writes an offer. At the time of the home inspection, radon testing equipment will be placed in your home, normally on the lowest level of the house. The test runs for 48 hours and will be picked up afterward by the home inspector. Test results are usually available within a day or two.

The buyer determines their threshold for acceptable radon levels but many buyers default to the EPA recommended level of 4 picocuries per liter (or 4 pCi/L). If the levels are higher than the threshold, the buyers have a choice. They can either:

A)     get out of the contract or they can

B)      ask you to correct the issue by hiring a licensed remediation contractor to remediate and retest. New test results must be below level indicated on the Radon Inspection Addendum.

In Howard County, the buyers select option A or B when they write their offer so as a seller, you know your obligations when you accept the offer.

But here’s the catch. We’ve seen buyers – especially those buyers who are either first time homebuyers or are relocating from another area – who want out of the contract when radon results are above 4 pCi/L.

There are other, legal ways out of the contract so how can a seller mitigate this risk?

It’s important that you know ahead of time about your options and how they could impact your sale. You could have your radon tested before listing, remediate if necessary and retest. Disclosure is key here so providing the details to potential buyers is important.  Or you could let buyers go through this process once you are under contract…with the understanding that it could be an obstacle to closing later on.

Radon is serious and buyers have a right to decide how they want to handle the issue. It’s best if you understand the impact of radon prior to listing your home. Call us to learn more.

- Wendy 

See for more information.

                                                             Radon Mitigation System

                                                             Radon Mitigation System

Smart Sellers Series: Top 4 things to do to prepare to sell your home!

Really? Just 4 things? Come on! We all know it takes more than this to get your house ready to sell, right?

Actually, when you boil it down, these really are the steps. But don’t be fooled. It is only 4 steps but you’ll need to invest some time and money into getting your house ready for today’s market.

1)      de-clutter

Do you watch HGTV? If so, you’ve probably seen their methods for cleaning and organizing. Create 3 boxes (they might turn into big piles but that’s a ok!): trash, donate, keep. Go through every closet, every cabinet, the garage and basement. The goal: to create open spaces within your home. While you are de-cluttering, keep an eye out for receipts for any work you have completed including maintenance and remodeling.

2)      clean

Clean everything literally from top to bottom inside the house. This includes cobwebs in corners, window treatments, moldings, the tops of cabinets, etc. Don’t forget about the outside of the house too: roof stains, siding, windows, sheds and flower beds are all important as well. Don’t have the time? Call us for a referral to a high quality cleaning company.

3)      maintain

Repair everything. Make sure you don’t have dripping faucets, loose doorknobs or sticking doors. Clean carpets or replace them. Make sure paint looks fresh and crisp. Everything should work well and look good.

4)      stage

Hire a realtor who provides professional staging. Ask for the stager’s credentials. It’s important to work with someone who is experienced and has a degree in design.

Call us if you’re thinking of selling. We’d be happy to come in for a preliminary meeting and help you get started.

- Wendy 

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