Home Selling Process

Preparing To Sell - Staging Your Home

One of the most important parts in selling your house is getting the house ready to host potential buyers day in and day out. In order to get them in the door, you need to have a good marketing plan and also a fair price to entice them.

Once they enter the house, this is where you have to get them hook, line and sinker. When they enter the door, you want them to feel at home and you want them to think this is the last house they will need to look at. Many things can be done in little to no time to make this happen, but it is definitely important to take the time in order to have the potential buyer signing on the dotted line in no time.

Here are a few tips on staging your home in order to sell it quickly:

Clean, Clean, Clean

No potential buyer wants to walk into a house that they are going to invest in and see a mess. When in doubt, take the extra couple hours and clean more than you can even imagine. I'm talking about baseboards in the bathroom to the sealing around the windows. The last thing you want any potential buyer to see is dust or dirt that you could have very easily gotten rid of. Make sure that your cupboards are clean as well and in order, and even make sure the laundry room doesn't have any dirty clothes in the washer or dryer. You never know where the potential buyer is going to sneak a peek!

Set The Mood Of The Home

Make sure that your house has a welcoming and inviting mood to it so that any potential buyer that walks through the front door instantly feels right at home. This may sound like minute details, but make sure that all of the towels hanging in the bathrooms are clean and neat, and make sure that you have sprayed fresh aromas throughout the house (or light scented candles prior to the potential buyer's arrival). Even feel free to bake some cookies if you are going to entertain an open house. The smell of the fresh baked cookies will make the buyer feel like it is their home and will put visions of how it will be once they put the bid on the house, you accept offer, and the house is theirs!

Make Pets A Non-Factor

Even though you may be a huge pet lover, that doesn't mean that the next owner of your home is. It can be a huge turn-off for a potential buyer to see dog hair on the couches or in the carpets, or if they see the litter box of your cats sitting in the corner of the kitchen. Make sure to hide any dog food dishes or bags of dog food, and if you have anything more than just a fish tank, make sure that all of the leashes and cages are kept out of sight during any visits from potential buyers.

Depersonalize The Home

Potential buyers do not want to see your family pictures hung throughout the house or on the fridge, believe me. Take down all of the pictures of the kids, and if need be go and buy generic pictures to hang in their place. You want to have the potential buyers feel like it is their home, not yours. Put away all of the personal items that you may have gotten from your grandmother and make sure to clean up and stow away all of the kids toys.


Author:  Doug Chapman is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a stay at home dad blog.  He specializes in diapers and sippy cups, but is a successful real estate investor on the side. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Showings

You can't sell your home unless you can show it, right? Successful showings are a large factor in getting your home sold! So how does it work and what should you expect from the process?

The Alvarado Real Estate Group contracts with a third party service, Showing Time, to handle all of the showing requests for your home from cooperating REALTORS® and even from us directly. We use this service to properly track all showings and have an efficient way to receive important feedback to pass on to you.


How does it work?

We provide Showing Time your contact information and your preferred way of being reached. Your preferences are discussed with you when your listing paperwork is signed. Many people like being able to confirm appointments via text messages, but some prefer phone or email.  Here is the inside scoop on Showing Time.

-       The company is not based in our area (and they may say our office name wrong J) and to be quite honest, they have very limited knowledge about the overall real estate process and are more like a call center.

-       They are best at confirming and denying showings so if you need to try and reschedule a showing or you simply feel like you need to call our office to help arrange a showing, PLEASE do so.

-       They will continue to call or text you to request showings even after you have an accepted offer. Please contact your agent directly if you want to stop showings instead of just denying showings. There is a proper timeline and process that we recommend.

-       If you are going out of town for a while, you can call the showing line and tell them the dates you will be out of town and update the showing instructions.(For example: you are okay with your home being shown at any time (i.e. 'go & show') between the 5-10th of the month. Then you can leave town without worrying about checking your phone for showing requests while you are gone.)

-       There is a Supra lock box on or near your front door. Only licensed REALTORS® have access to open that box. The lock box cannot be opened before 8am after or 9pm, so you should always feel safe in your home.


What to expect:

-       The showing request will most likely be made a day prior and will be for a one hour allotted window of time. (For example: an agent is requesting to view your home tomorrow from 2-3pm.)  You are expected to be gone for all showings.

-       At some point, an agent may arrive early or later than the hour requested. This will be annoying to you - I know, I've sold my house a couple of times too. Please keep in mind that most agents are showing multiple homes to the same buyer in a 4-5 hour time period. They do their best to estimate when they will get to each listing and how long the buyer will need to tour it. However, changes to their schedules do occur and you should be prepared in case a showing agent is running early or late.

-       We recommend that you have your home ready to show and are out of the home at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time frame.  Also, don't be surprised if they are still there when you come home...just drive around the block a couple of times until they are gone.

-       You may also experience a 'no show'. You will get your home in perfect showing condition and 10 minutes after you leave the house with all the lights on and fresh flowers in place you will get a call that it was cancelled. Or you will return after the presumed showing and no one will have been there. It happens. It sucks. That is all I can say. Buyers cancel last minute, people get stuck in traffic, kids get sick, or sometimes it is as annoying as they drove up to your house, didn't like the color of the trim and decided not to tour it. This frustration is part of the selling process and it is better to laugh then cry.

-       Don't get locked out of your home!  People are walking through your home. They are turning the lights on and off, they are walking out the back door to check out the yard, and they are looking in your garage. It is very important that you leave notes for the showing agents on doors that you have specific instructions for (like the door from the garage to the home). If you always use that door when you come home and you don't want it locked, please tape a small note above the doorknob that says, "Please don't lock this door." Or better yet, keep a key with you for all doors so you are never locked out of your own home! The same goes for turning lights on and off. If you want the agent to leave the lights on as they go through the home or turn them off, just leave a nice note like "Please leave the lights on" if you know there is another showing scheduled later in the day.


Showing your home:

You need to present your home in the best possible way for every single showing.

  • In the kitchen, you'll want to make sure that all of your dirty dishes are washed & put away, clear off the counters, and sweep/mop the floor.
  • For bathrooms, clean the sinks, put the toilet lids down, pull the shower curtain across the stall, and straighten/freshen the towels.
  • Around the rest of the home, a quick vacuum will be needed, make the beds, and hide the clutter.
  • Please leave any marketing materials out on the dining room table or on the kitchen counter!
  • Don't spray the home with air fresheners, use plug-ins or light smelly candles. Buyers think you are trying to cover something up and some people have bad reactions to heavy scents. It isn't worth the risk.
  • Before you leave for the showing, turn on all lights and open the blinds and curtains.
  • Try to remember that a buyer's first impression is curb appeal. Make sure the lawn is beautiful, take some time with your landscaping, and get some fresh flowers in a pot at the door. If it is winter, please remember to shovel all snow from the walkways and lay down ice melt to prevent slipping accidents. Get a new WELCOME mat at your front door. The buyers will be hanging out at the front door for a bit while the agent gets the key and unlocks the door, so make it a good first impression.

Continually getting your home ready for showings (sometimes with very little notice), can get frustrating after a while. Try to keep your spirits up and know that the right buyer is out there and just hasn't seen your home yet!  We will continue our marketing efforts and keep an eye on the market conditions to make sure you don't miss out on any exposure opportunities to potential buyers.


Feedback from the Buyers/Agents:

-     How did the showing go? What did the buyers think? I know you want to know right away and we promise to get you information as quickly as we get it. Once the showing occurs there is an automatic survey that we created that is emailed to the Buyer's Agent. It usually takes 24-48 hours to receive feedback. Please remember that the agent might have shown 15 homes in a day and might need some time to get through all the feedback while they are also getting answers to their Buyer's questions and potentially preparing an offer.

-     Bad feedback happens. We will report all feedback we get to you and there might be some feedback that you don't like. Keep in mind that many agents are simply reporting the negative feedback and they don't have the time to point out all the good things about the home. Also keep in mind that there are things you can control and things you can't control. Only focus on what you CAN control.

  • You can't control the location.
  • You can control the clutter and the cleanliness.
  • You can't control the layout.
  • You can control the condition. Touch up paint, a new water heater, etc.

The things you can't control, like if the buyer wants a master bathroom, you have to let go of. But if over time you keep getting showings and negative or just OK feedback then you have to realize that the negative factors that you can't control need to be balanced by the price. If you are the only home without a large backyard and many of the other homes in that price range are similar to yours but with a bigger back yard or with a 2 car garage, then you need to adjust your price down to make up for that.


Monthly Listing Reports and Follow Up:

-     After 3-4 weeks of your home being on the market you will receive a Listing Report that summarizes the showing activity and marketing activity of your home. You will also receive updated information on what is going on in your area and/or your price range.

-     You and I will discuss a marketing & pricing plan when we list the home. After a couple of weeks of showings, you might start thinking differently about the process. You and your spouse/partner may have a couple of conversations and decide you want to change the original plan. It is important to keep me in the communication loop. I will update you on what's going on and I need you to update me on where you are at. Sometimes the motivation level goes way up and sometimes it goes down. This is very important for me to know so I am on the same page as you and are reaching for the same goal.

And REMEMBER...we are here to help, so please call us if you have a question or concern.

Just Sold - 2534 Kendall Ave., Madison, WI

2543 Kendall Ave., Madison, WI

2534 Kendall Avenue recieved a full price offer 12 days after stepping onto the market!  This home is located in the University Heights Neighborhoood, and is full of new updates, but still maintains its historic charm.  Congratulations to the sellers of this wonderful home, and good luck with your relocation! The combination of pricing it right and staging it properly is what made this such a success story. Personal items were packed up, furniture was moved around to create a welcoming feel and some furniture pieces were packed up and moved to storage during the showing process. The Sellers did an amazing job making little repairs and touching up paint around the house as well as replacing family photos with simple art and design pieces. The marketing was important because the Sellers had made significant renovations to the home and had invested money and energy to update it during their time in the home. Making sure the Buyers that toured the home understood all the details and had access to accurate information helped motivate and prove the value in the home. The result? SOLD in 12 Days, Full Price Offer!

This is what the amazing teamwork of Alvarado Real Estate Group can do for you!  Contact Sara Alvarado at  608.438.5005, sara@thealvaradogroup.com or Julie Campbell at 608.577.3767, Julie@TheAlvaradoGroup.com today for information about listing your home!

FROGBOX Madison WI - Tips for a Greener and Less Stressful Move

FROGBOX LOGOBy: Guest Blogger Matt Harbut, FROGBOX of Madison

1. Manage your time properly

Start organizing and packing at least one month before the moving day. Start with things that you don't use daily. Your ski suit, snow boots, winter clothes, most of the books, CD's and computer games and other things you can do without for a few weeks. Start slowly and dedicate an hour or two every day for packing. The most important step is to go through your stuff and sort it.

2. Be sure to have recycling bins and donation bags and garbage bags

Before you start packing, you need to get rid of things that you don't need. A good example are clothes that you haven't worn for the last two years and that are taking up space you could use for new clothing.  This applies to books, toys and home decorations.

3. Throw out the fridge

or at least a lot of it - Food and vitamins are not like good wine. They don't get better with age!  Go through your pantry, medicine cabinet and vitamins; throw away anything that has expired.  Be sure to check-out the Wisconsin DNR for pharmaceutical disposal guidelines.

4. The "Maybe Box"

Sometimes it's hard to let go. If you feel conflicted, put it in a "MAYBE box" that you have prepared especially for tough decisions. After a few days, go check in with your "maybe box". Your clarity will increase and you may see things differently.

5. Use existing containers, suitcases, etc for packing

Take a look at your home. You probably have some plastic containers, suitcases and camping bags that can be used for packing. Sometimes these bags are stored in the attic and they are full of dust; clean them and use them for your move.

6. For the rest of your things rent reusable plastic moving boxes from FROGBOX.  

They are easy to work with. Your belongings won't get wet while loading/unloading in the rain. They are not only eco-friendly (since they reduce cardboard waste) they are family friendly too- if you by accident have packed your child's most important stuffed toy... all you have to do is open the lid, take it out and close it back up. (You'd be surprised how often this happens.)

7. Soft Items

Do not pack all your towels in one big box. Use the towels to pad the bottom of each box when packing dishes and other fragile items. Use another towel on top and close the lid.

8. Label Every Box

Don't label the top - always on the side, so when you stack them on each other you can tell what's inside. When you rent FROGBOXes you get labels with your order but you can always just flip open the lid to see what's inside so the contents of you boxes will never be a mystery.

9. Don't let your junk mail move with you!

Use this as an opportunity to manage your mail with services like DMAchoice, OptOutPrescreen and Catalog Choice.   Feel good about simplifying your life, while saving hundreds of trees each year.

10. When choosing a mover...

make sure they're licensed and bonded, and have a great reputation. Call or email FROGBOX for a list of trusted Madison area movers.

11. Do it yourself moving

Consider renting the smallest van or truck that your things will fit into.  This will make loading the truck much easier and you'll save money and fuel.  If you have a small amount to move and don't own a car it might be a great opportunity to use a car share program like Community Car.  They have some roomy pick-ups and mini vans that are great for moving and FROGBOX customer get 50% off the Community Car registration fee.

12. Set a goal to unpack

Unpack a certain number of boxes each day in your new home. If you rent FROGBOXes you'll appreciate having a deadline for unpacking your boxes - sometimes a little motivation is healthy!. When you've reached your goal, make sure to treat yourself, you deserve it!

Good luck with your move and let us know if we can help!

JUST SOLD! 802 Bewick Drive, Madison WI

SOLD in 25 Days!

Congratulations! 802 Bewick Drive sold in 25 days! Gotta love that! Listed for $179,900 and sold for $170,500. Gorgeous updates, completely renovated with a new kitchen, stainless steel appliances. Dining room overlooks huge deck and beautiful yard. One of the best features is a His and Hers garage. The attached one car garage (perhaps this is hers?) is spotless clean with an easy entry to the kitchen. Plus a detached oversized and heated 2 car garage. Not that there aren't garage loving women out there but I know I like my garage to be attached and certainly don't need it to be heated because I'm just not hanging out in the garage much. Congratulations to the Seller for doing a fantastic job staging this home; great colors, perfect fitting furniture and no clutter! Combine that with tech savvy Realtors, excellent exposure, marketing and great negotiating skills and we are happy to report another successful sale. 

Need help getting your home sold? Contact Sara Alvarado today, 608.438.5005, sara@thealvaradogroup.com.

JUST SOLD! 1215 Wellesley Road, Village of Shorewood Hills WI

Village of Shorewood Hills Homes

This classic four bedroom colonial in the Village of Shorewood Hills SOLD in 4 days! The Sellers put in a lot of time to staging and preparing the home for sale and making sure that when it hit the market it was spotless and in perfect showing condition. There are many people that are always watching the Village of Shorewood Hills to see what home will come up for sale and if it will be a good fit for their family. That is why it was so important for 1215 Wellesley Rd to be ready and priced right because the Sellers wanted an accepted offer in the first 30 days. And they got it!

Sure enough, the buyers that snatched it up had been looking for a long time at every new listing in Shorewood and they didn't hesitate in submitting an offer and moving quickly on this spacious home. Congratulations to everyone for a smooth and successful transaction.

Market Data Info: - 4 BR, 3 BA,  2,985 Sq.Ft. - List Price: $624,900 - List date: 6/9/11 - Sold price: $607,500 - Sold date: 8/15/11

Are you thinking of selling? Contact Sara Alvarado today to talk about the timeline, process and get started on preparing your home for the SOLD sign!

From For Sale by Owner to Realtor to SOLD!

"As a first-time home seller, The Alvarado Group excelled at reassuring us, keeping us updated of progress, and responding to our concerns in a quick and thorough manner. My only regret is not getting them involved in the process earlier. Our condo sold quickly in a tough market, and Sara Alvarado was never afraid to bring a dose of reality to our expectations (a key to being able to sell in this market). We attempted to sell For Sale by Owner, but without the necessary knowledge of the housing market, our price was off, and our time was compromised with attempting a quick move as well. When Sara took over, so much of the mental stress was lifted as well. All documents were signed electronically, which was imperative since our move out-of-state, and the process couldn't have been smoother. Thanks, Sara, for all your work on our behalf."

Beautiful end unit condo at Hatchery Hill in Fitchburg is now SOLD! Congratulations to the new Buyers and to the Sellers on a successful and a quick closing. With an accepted offer in the first week of April we were still able to close at the end of the month with less than 30 days! Thanks to Christa Sweeny at River Valley Bank for helping to make it happen.

5460 Coachman Place - Listed for $179,900. 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 1760 sq. feet townhouse. Sold in 65 days for $170,700.

Looking for a condo in Fitchburg or somewhere else in the Dane County area? Looking to sell your home or condo? Call our team today! You can meet us all here.

JUST SOLD! Middleton WI Home, Northlake Neighborhood

5502 Grassland Trail, Middleton WI

This gorgeous Northlake home in Middleton just sold and we are excited to report another successful and smooth transaction. 5502 Grassland Trail, listed in February for $449,900 had a total of 4 showings and sold after 15 days for $425,000.  

The Sellers did their part in making sure the home was in perfect showing condition. They made necessary repairs, cleaned the carpet, decluttered, packed and stored personal items and made sure they were listing their home to sell it and not just to test the market. There is great power in the intention to move and in a time of fear and uncertainity it is easy for some families to doubt their ability to sell their homes and have everything work out exactly the way it is supposed. This was a great example of the power of intention, positive thinking and a certain amount of calm in what can be an incredibly stressful time.

Sara Alvarado, Real Estate Broker / OwnerIf you are thinking of selling your home, contact Sara Alvarado to talk about the possibilities, 608.438.5005, sara@thealvaradogroup.com.

Top 5 Tips for your Home Improvement Projects

As homeowners we must be ready and willing to take on home-improvement projects to keep our homes well maintained and in the best condition possible for our own benefit and for re-sale value when we go to sell. In today's Madison WI real estate market you may not be getting your money back on home improvements that you've done in the past couple of years but those updates will help your home sell faster in a market that is best described as a "Price War and Beauty Contest." I have access to many great home-improvement resources. Here are some of my favorite tips from HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse: 

Focus on projects that will pay you back

For example, if you're dealing with hot or cold weather, try to lower heating and cooling bills by properly sealing your home. Look for drafts around windows, doors, and vents,and then use caulk or weather stripping to seal them. It may not be glamorous, but it will pay you back down the road.

Know where to start

If you have never taken on a major project, start with spaces such as the living room, spare bedroom, or the garage -- rooms that won't limit your ability to function, says Oosterhouse. I also recommend working one room at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed with the whole house.

Closet reorganization

Many times, people have maxed out their closet and have no more room to add, let alone organize. That's when it's time to evaluate. Donate clothes you no longer wear to a charity, store seasonal attire in a separate location, and try living by the rule for kid's toys that when a new one comes in the home, an old one has to go out (meaning donate not trash).

Break down a big project

Planning is essential. As Oosterhouse says, if you think you can just start up any big job without a plan, then you are in for a world of frustration. Know your capabilities and limitations. It helps to have a notebook or a binder dedicated for your home where you can keep lists of what you want to do, what you've done (include dates), receipts and warranty paperwork along with contact info for your favorite contractors (or check our list here). This is a great asset when you are ready to sell your home too! It will make it easier for your Realtor to properly market the updates and features of your home to potential buyers.

Know where the biggest ROI is

The improvements that will most add to the value of your home include: the kitchen, the master bedroom and bathroom. These can boost your resale value and attract buyers who want a space that's move-in ready.

These are just some of many great suggestions for tackling home improvement projects. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this email on to your neighbors and friends that are homeowners too.

Source: Lowe's Creative Ideas magazine, 2010

JUST SOLD! 12 Quinn Circle, Madison WI

Alvarado Real Estate Group recent sale

JUST SOLD! Congratulations!

Alvarado Real Estate Group congratulates our Seller clients as they close on their Madison home and can settle into their new life across the country with peace of mind. It was a long rocky road to get this home a new happy family. Due to a lack of turnover it was very difficult for appraisers to find good comparables in this stable neighborhood. But with perserverance and a targeted market that loved the wonderful features of this home and community we can celebrate a successful sale! 

12 Quinn Circle sold for $261,000. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a beautifully finished lower level with access to the gorgeous backyard and hot tub, plus an attached two car garage. The Sellers had updated the home and created great energy efficient features (important to today's buyers) including radiant floor heating along with tearing a wall down that separated the kitchen and living area giving it an open and spacious feel.

Are you thinking of buying or selling? Contact us today to have that important first conversation. It is crucial that you and your agent connect and find a good fit to create a successful transaction.