7 Open House Mistakes to Avoid

For agents, a good impression at an open house is a jump start toward a successful sale. A bad impression can hurt future opportunities by leading to negative reviews and word of mouth.

Obtain a good impression by steering clear of these mistakes during your next open house.

No Marketing

Today’s buyers don’t read a front lawn sign or read a newspaper. Agents must take the announcement to them….

No Parking

It’s problematic to accommodate every buyer with a great parking space, but it’s mandatory. No buyer wants to attend an open house without ensuring his or her vehicles are safe

Both Unpleasant and Pleasant Smells

Agents know to remove unpleasant smells. However, good smells like candles or air fresheners can irritate buyers too, triggering allergies and sensitivity…

Unwanted Guests

Buyers are at ease talking to an agent rather than speaking to the seller. Although not intentional, sellers and his/her family annoy buyers with their bias viewpoint of the home…

Background Noise

Like smells, music playing in the background is a distraction….

Blocking Rooms

What are sellers hiding?…

Pitch Black

Similar to music and blocked rooms, a dark house is a signal for hiding something….

…..

To read my full blog and get all the info you need for your next open house, please visit this link to the full version of my blog

 

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5 Updates Landlords Shouldn’t Make

Marble countertops, shiny tiled floors, and a brand-new patio: while they might be pretty, upgrades like these won’t help your bottom line. If you plan to invest and maintain a profitable rental property, you’ll need to strike a balance between updating the space and minding your budget.  By creating an appealing setting, you can make more of a profit by increasing the rent – however, if you stray from updates to full-scale renovation, you might end up dealing with a property that costs more than it earns. Here are a few renovations that investors shouldn’t make on a rental property.

  1. Adding a Swimming Pool

A pool may seem like an ideal addition to the backyard, but it won’t necessarily increase the value of the home. The feature can also take away space in the backyard for pets or children to play in on the property and make it seem unattractive to families who lack the time or resources to maintain it.

  1. Room Addition

According to loans.usnews.com, room additions don’t always pay off due to the high cost of the construction. Projects with a lower price tag – such as appliance updates and repainting – tend to have a better ROI for landlords.

  1. DIY Projects

From painting the walls to installing new sinks, DIY projects are cost-effective at a price; while they may seem cheap at the outset, they often look they were performed by someone who had a lack of experience and ultimately turn away would-be tenants. It’s necessary to leave the work to professionals to ensure that your money is an investment that pays off and attracts more tenants in the coming years.

  1. High-Maintenance Landscapes

According to Time Magazine, creating a beautiful garden benefits the aesthetics of a home – but it doesn’t justify increasing the rent that you charge. It can also require a significant amount of money for landscaping services to upkeep the property or the tenants may not want to spend their weekends pulling weeds and watering different areas of the yard. Stick to landscaping that is easy to maintain to ensure that you don’t waste your money if you’re renting out the house.

  1. Upgrading Everything

Many landlords make the mistake of upgrading everything and assuming that the home needs to have all new features or materials to attract good tenants. Overspending on upgrades can make the house appear too chic and regal for the local area, making it necessary to keep the upgrades to a minimum. Stick to adding new fixtures on the cabinets or new hardwood floors in the living room to make upgrades that are minimal, yet aesthetically effective.

 

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh - Amazon 2

Will Pittsburgh Be Home for Amazon HQ2? Part II

With over $5 billion in potential community investment and 50,000 jobs on the line, every city wants to host Amazon’s second headquarters. Since the company announced its intent to expand in BLAH, over NUMBER of cities have tosses their metaphorical hats into the ring. Over the past few months, the company has parsed through the submissions with all the quiet drama and political silence of a reality dating show. Just recently, Amazon officially released the names on its shortlist. Pittsburgh made the cut, as did Boston, Toronto, Atlanta, and Newark. But with so much drama surrounding the company’s choice, we’re left to wonder: How many names on this overhyped list are actual competitors, and which are just for show? Perhaps more importantly, does Pittsburgh stand a fighting chance? A few months ago, I published a post that assessed the city’s chances as a host – and now, I’ll take a closer look into the details that will either push the city above the rest or force it out of the game.

Many pro-Pittsburgh parties are optimistic about the city’s chances – and have ample reason to be. Pittsburgh is already well-known in corporate circles as a hub for advancement; the city hosts a thriving tech community and well-regarded talent pool. As Jim Rock, the CEO for the Pittsburgh-based robotics company Seegrid comments in an article for TribLIVE, “Pittsburgh has a long-standing reputation for innovation–long before top tech companies such as Apple, Google, Uber and even Amazon itself established a presence in the city.” More than a few high-level Amazon executives even have personal or professional connections to the city. But Pittsburgh’s culture and network isn’t the only draw in the city’s pitch; the area also financially attractive. The cost of commercial state is relatively low – especially when compared to those in its’ rival cities. The average cost per square foot of commercial real estate in Boston, for example, averages $50 per square foot. In Pittsburgh, the cost stands at around $30 per square foot.  

Pittsburgh’s advantages are clear. However, the city does face a number of challenges that may make it less attractive to Amazon’s board, including its comparatively modest workforce. HQ2 stands to make 50,000 jobs once it opens – and while that may sound impressive on paper, the open positions won’t do the community or company any good if there aren’t people to fill them. According to  a 2016 study by Allegheny Conference on Community, increasing retirement rates and an insufficient influx of workers could cause Pittsburgh to lose as many as 80,000 workers by 2025. Mayor Bill Peduto isn’t concerned, though; at a press conference shortly after the shortlist went public, he expressed his belief that Pittsburgh was more than equipped to compete with the other cities on the shortlist and could attract the workers if chosen. Currently, the city has made strides to cultivate talent and STEM interest in schools in an attempt to encourage young workers to pursue careers in tech. This all said, the city’s low workforce will be a factor Amazon will need to keep in mind when making their final selection.

It is worth noting that the so-called “shortlist” is not all that short. Amazon has approached the process with the calculation of a career politician and the dramatic savvy of a reality dating show, thereby fostering a competitive culture which will surely be to their benefit. The company even requested that those in Pittsburgh government sign a nondisclosure agreement and limit their communications to a single representative for greater confidentiality. It is unclear whether officials will comply with their request – but with the importance of the issue, silence seems likely. Pittsburgh stands as a fantastic candidate for HQ2; however, the choice ultimately comes down to Amazon.  With all of the secrecy and drama seen thus far, we can probably expect a few more months of drawn-out competitions and closed doors.

For more of Jason Cohen’s work, please visit JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

Taking the House: Tips From Jason Cohen on Winning a Real Estate Bidding War

Selling a home is an emotional decision, and sometimes money isn’t the deciding factor in which offer a buyer chooses. Think of it this way – would you prefer to sell to a buyer who offers a few thousand more and wants you to pack up your life in a day, or to his competitor, who offers less, but will give you a few weeks to say your goodbyes? Real estate is predominantly a seller’s market. Jason Cohen has found that in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and beyond, it’s become increasingly important for buyers to appeal to both the homeowner’s emotional and financial sensibilities. Prospective buyers need to strategize; they need to make the sellers like them more than their competition.

Be diligent

There are few qualities more off-putting than disorganization. Make a good impression by having your paperwork in order and showing the buyer that you understand the financial implications of the agreement. Prepare documentation that proves that you can afford the cost of closing, and have your mortgage papers, loan documents, and proof of credit ready for the seller’s inspection.

Cut out contingencies

Try not to irritate the seller by adding too many demands to your bid. You may want those cosmetic repairs on the porch finished by the time you move in, but the hassle involved might push the seller towards a lower and less demanding offer. Ask for the inspections and repairs you absolutely need, and no more. Try to be as flexible as possible and make the process less stressful for the seller; they will appreciate your thoughtfulness and think better of your bid.

Enter an escalation clause into your bid

Adding an escalation clause to your offer shows the seller that you intend to seriously participate if the sale comes to a bidding war. Essentially, the clause states that if other buyers drive the price over your initial bid, you will top their offer up to a certain amount. Escalation clauses can help convince sellers that choosing your offer makes financial sense; that said, you need to know your limits. Walk away if the escalation pushes the price beyond what you can afford.

Be sentimental

Appeal to the seller’s emotional side. Include a personal letter with your offer packet that details why purchasing their house matters to you. Build a personal case for why the seller should choose you over other, possibly more lucrative, offers. Money isn’t always the deciding factor in a sell – so be compelling, and convince the seller to like you!

Jason Cohen of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh can provide further guidance on any of the above items. Visit our website at jasoncohenpittsburgh.com for further details.

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.org