Spring is a popular real estate season- buyers are out and about searching and sellers are ready to put the sign in the yard. But reality sets in as both buyers and sellers wonder, "Where do I begin?"

There are many great sources of information, but your best bet is to follow the sound advice of your professional, licensed real estate agent. So today, I have two wonderful agents sharing their expert advice on buying and selling a home (including a few tips from yours truly!)

 Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Sage Seller Advice

First, we have the fabulous Suzanne Culpepper of Mike Murphy Builders, giving her input on getting ready to put your home on the market:

"I feel like I think about these tips in my sleep!" says Suzanne.

-"Think about what you want when you buy a house with big closets... a blank canvas they can make their own...lots of space..something new? So, declutter...take things out of your closets to make them look less crammed and more spacious."

-"Take most personal items out... buyers don't need to peruse your mail when they are walking through your home.  They don't want to see your toothbrush or dishcloth, pick them up!  Put it away!"

-"People love to feel organized...an organized home and living space is so appealing to people.  Turn lights on, open drapes and shutters, dark houses don't give off the good vibes that buyers get in a well lit ambiance."

-"Tons of personal pictures and items turn buyers' attention to "who is this seller" rather than "how can I buy this house!"  When you go to a hotel it is clean, neutral and very impersonal.  I say mimic the hotel idea... buyers need to be able to picture their things in a potential space.  Keep clutter to a minimum so buyers can visualize themselves in your home rather than focus on your "stuff"!"

 Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Before You Buy

Next we have the wonderful Christie Gravatt with Grant Home Builders sharing what buyers need to know before they go looking for their dream home:

"Always use a buyers agent to represent you," explains Christie. "They will guide you through the {home-buying} process and always protect your best interests."

-"Get pre-qualified before you go looking so you will know what you can and cannot afford (unless you're paying cash!) Do not charge, open an account or buy major purchases (such as a car) during the home buying process without first consulting with your lender. This could hinder you from being pre-qualified."

-"The best way to raise credit scores, is to Pay down debt below 50 percentile, and pay everything on time! Higher credit scores equal lower interest rate, which equals lower monthly mortgage payment. They are slowly climbing up so buyers need to jump off the fence and buy!"

 Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Photo by Rebecca J. Imagery ©2016

Tips From Your Photographer

Allow me to weigh in! I've worked in the real estate field and with real estate professionals for many years now and sometimes I am asked my input while I photograph a home to sell. Here are my tips on getting your home photo-ready:

-As Suzanne said, de-clutter. The less clutter, the better the photo. If you want to stage your home, use simple but tasteful (non-personal) items that match the style of your home while extenuating the space (like this example photo above.) It gives your space personality and makes it more interesting than having completely empty counters and spaces.

-Have your home ready to photograph before your photographer arrives! Most of the time, the agent wants the pictures finished the same day or the next day, so they can be posted as soon as your house hits the market. So have everything ready to save you, your photographer and your agent time.

-Agents and homeowners need a photographer they can trust. Hire a photographer that is recommended, ethical and PPA-affiliated.

- Much like wedding photography, real estate photography is a specialty, so hire a photographer who has experience photographing real estate and knows the best way to capture your home or listing to get it to sell!

-Please lock up your pets! I've been attacked before by crazy cats and ferocious Yorkies in the past, thankfully nothing worse! But as a courtesy to your photographer, please restrain and contain your fur babies.

-And lastly, invest wisely in your marketing! It is more than just sticking a sign in the yard, it's giving you an advantage and making sure people walk through the door. Photography is a crucial part of a much bigger picture (no pun intended) when it comes to selling homes.

Special thanks to Suzanne and Christie for sharing this helpful information!

Suzanne Culpepper, Mike Murphy Builders, 901-246-2830, suzannemculpepper@hotmail.com, Licenced in TN  

Christie Gravatt, Grant Home Builders, 901-870-8911, www.houseladyms.com, Licensed in MS