Tips to Sell your House for Top $$$

Currently our area-Dallas and Fort Worth Texas is in a sellers market. This means homes are selling 0-90 days on the market. It is important to note that it does not mean your home will sell no matter what. The homebuying process is an emotional one: not only is it sad to leave your home you have lived in, but showing and selling that home to complete strangers can be stressfull. The longer your house is on the market the more strangers you have to let snoop around your home and the less likely you are to get the top price. To make this process smooth and sell your house as quickly as possible at the top market price follow these steps.

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  1. Minimization is Key. See what I did there? I did not call your beloved sports memorabilia collection or 1,000 framed photos of your dog clutter. Because I understand it is not clutter to you, but you want the future buyers to see how big the living room, kitchen cabinets, and closets are. That means move as much stuff out as possible.
  2. De-personalize. This means remove any family photos, diplomas, or other information that makes a buyer think of you living in this house instead of them living in their future home. I am sure your personal photos are beautiful, but you want the buyer focused on your house and not on where you went to college. You also want them to picture themselves in their new home and not think about who currently lives there.
  3. Repair that leaky faucet. We all know those items on your home that you have just lived with over the years. The leaky faucet, the sqeaky steps, the door that wont shut. It may not bother you, but to your future buyer that is one more thing to fix (aka costs!) which means less money they want to offer you for your house.
  4. Repaint. There is nothing like a clean canvas on walls to help a buyer imagine their decorations in their new home. This requires you to take all items off the wall, patch any holes or cracks, and repaint the whole house. We recommend painting something neutral like a soft grey so it does not distract the buyer from your beautiful house.
  5. Get professional Photos. Once you have fixed all of the items you wanted to fix, cleaned, repainted, and minimalized, get professional photos done. Our brokerage requires us to take professional photos for all of our listings, but not all do. You want great photos because in this world the first look of your home is online of the photos. Buyers will nix a home without even seeing it from photos alone so you want to make sure they portray your home as best as possible!

Finally, trust your agent. Sometimes it can be hard to hear that you need to spend money to make repairs on a house you are trying to sell. But trust them. There is a good chance that you will have to come down on the price or pay more of the closing costs to help the buyer with the cost of the repairs. That is assuming they make an offer on your home because major issues could scare them away from the begining.

Homemade Chicken [noodle] Soup

I put the noodle in brackets because we do not use noodles. To clarify, Preston prefers rice and although I LOVE egg noodles (how my Mom would make it) he convinced me that wild rice is healthier and does not get soggy if you freeze it. Therefor, we do not use noodles. Regardless, the saying is true that homemade chicken soup is a cure all. I used to assume it was due to the water and salt content in the soup that it rehydrates you and gives you electrolytes. It wasn’t until I started searching the Paleo Diet and Whole 30 that I realized the bone broth from the chicken has so many nutrients in it and the fresh parsley and onion helps to detoxify your body.

We also have a couple of servings of this soup on hand because it is healthy, easy, and honestly very cheap to make. We make a large portion that we then put into 6-8 individual size glass containers. The glass containers are key because we then freeze them and pop one in the microwave for a quick and easy meal. They say that plastic containers can leach toxins if put into extreme temperatures = freezing and microwave. Literally, I have gone months eating this for lunch before if I didn’t want to pack a lunch and knew I wouldn’t have time to buy lunch at work. I was explaining this process to my sister about how easy and healthy it is and she was baffled at how I was able to transport soup without making a mess. This is why freezing it is so key because even if you have a long commute, it is not able to fully dethaw. I then put it in the refrigerator at the office so it is not an ice cube when I microwave it at lunch.

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Chicken Soup Recipe:

What you will need:

  • 4 Carrotts
    • Slice them in about 1/2 inch slices (and give the ends to your dog, Jilly is a carrot addict)
    • We buy “rainbow” or heirloom carrots because they are different colors to brighten the dishes up
  • 4 Ribs of Celery
    • Simply break off four ribs of celery from the stock and slice them into 1/2 in slices
  • 1 Onion
    • Dice the onion (do not give this to your dog, onions and garlic are bad for them)
  • 5 sprigs of Fresh Thyme or about 2 Tablespoons of Dried Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 of Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter or Ghee (if you are Paleo)
    • Coat the bottom of a large stock pot (we use this one below) with melted butter
      • Copper is a good heat conductor so it gets hot very quickly, yet cools off just as quick once removed from the heat source (aka no more burning the bottom of soups!)
  • 1 Whole Fryer Chicken (about 5-6 pound)
  • 1/2 Cup of Rice

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Process:

  • Place the chopped carrots, celery and onions in the soup pot and let them saute until the onions get soft, but not carmelized. At this point, add the thyme and bay leaves. Let simmer for about a minute or two.
  • Pour 16 oz of Chicken Broth to the soup (they sell them at Costco so we always have several on hand)
    • For true bone broth you could add water, but we like the rich flavor chicken broth provides
    • Note: we buy unsalted so we can salt to taste once the whole soup is ready
  • Add the whole raw chicken to the broth and let boil. Ensure all parts of the chicken are submerged
    • My sister always thought I was taking about the rotisserie chickens they sell precooked…
  • Once chicken is completed white pull it out and place on a cutting board to let it cool. BE CAREFUL chicken is going to be very hot
  • Once chicken has cooled off (10-15 minutes) pull off the meat from the bones and place it in a bowl. Once chicken is stripped, you can put the meat back into the pot
  • Add 1/2 cups of Rice. We use ancient grain rice because it stays crunchy even after you freeze the soup
  • Season soup with salt. Soup takes a lot more salt that we would like to admit, but considering how many portions it makes, I can understand. Salt to your own taste, but don’t be surprised with how much you use
  • Add a handful of finally chopped fresh Parsley to the soup
  • Turn off the heat to the soup and let it cool. Once soup is at room temperature you can portion it out into containers like these Pyrex glass ones to freeze.shopping

Homemade Chicken & Pesto Pasta

What are you cooking on a Wednesday night? Preston whipped up a homemade pesto sauce! It was so good that I had to share it. Below are some photos to give you an idea of how amazing it was. Disclaimer, the actual noodles were not homemade, but we have made it before-Preston always has to try to make it homemade, but sometimes he decides store bought tastes good enough to save the time making it from scratch.

Forgive me, these are from my awesome iPhone 5. Still rockin the old school phone. I have always wanted to get better at photography and will eventually purchase a “real camera” instead of resorting to iPhone pics. Preston works so quickly that I have to snap them when I can!

To make this recipe you need: fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese, chicken breast, noodles (your choice we switch between linguine and rigatoni) salt to taste. I always recommend pairing it with a glass of wine, but it is not required for the recipe 🙂

Pesto Sauce: 

  • Two tablespoons of Pine Nuts
  • 3 Garlic cloves (we love garlic)
  • 2 cups of basil leaves aka two handfuls
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Pasta:

  • 2 servings of Noodles: Linguine or Rigatoni
  • 2 Chicken Breasts

Blend all of the above until smooth. Afterwards boil pasta until “al dente” or to your liking. We honestly make more pasta than a traditional serving, so it is personal. A traditional serving of long pasta like linguine and spaghetti is supposed to be the size of a quarter when bunched up in your hand (or 2 ounces).

After blending the pesto and while pasta is boiling start cooking the chicken. Preston recommends to salt and pepper the chicken and place olive oil in the pan before cooking. He wanted limited seasoning to have the flavor come through in the pesto instead. A trick in cooking chicken is once it is white halfway through the chicken breast, it is time to flip it over! Preston diced the chicken and let it cool on a cutting board while he tossed the cooking pasta in the pesto sauce. He then added the diced chicken to the pesto coated pasta in the pan before seperating it into each serving.

Once on the plate, he addes another sprinkle of pine of pinenuts and more parmesean as a garnish. Voila! Bon appetite.

 

Pantry Must Haves

Remember that feeling when you move into a new place and realize you have nothing in your fridge? Not even staples like salt, pepper, butter, eggs. I remember when I first moved into my own apartment by myself I realized I didn’t have ketchup. I am not a huge ketchup user, but I had a friend in town and had cooked some type of frozen breakfast bites (shows my cooking skills) that required ketchup and it was never the same. Here on out, I always make sure to buy the “staples” everytime we move.

Now that I am lucky enough to live with a selfproclaimed chef, our list of “staples” has graduated from salt and ketchup. To be honest, Preston is sitting here cringing that I was making frozen breakfast bites for a house guest. We recommend having these on hand if you are learning to cook, trying new recipes, hosting a dinner party, or last minute meal prep for the family. I also use several of these ingredients for “green cleaning.” Below are the Preston approved Pantry Must Haves to always keep on hand that can be used for multiple recipes that we will share:

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  1. Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Lemons and Limes
  4. Butter (or ghee if you are palio)
  5. Chicken Stock
  6. Carrots
  7. Celery
  8. Brussel Sprouts
  9. Lettuce (and or spinach). We love living lettuce because it lasts forever!
  10. Garlic
  11. Onions
  12. Chicken (we recommend buying a whole chicken from the butcher-more details coming soon)
  13. Seasoning Spice. One of our go to spices is Tony Chachere’s
  14. Dijon Mustard
  15. Balsamic Vinegar
  16. Coconut Milk
  17. Rice. Our favorite is Basmati
  18. Topo Chico (or any other sparkeling water!)
  19. Beer and or wine (we love French wine as Preston is French!)

We use these ingredients to make cocktails (no I do not mean just pouring yourself a glass of wine!), soups, salads, entrees, and cleaning supplies!

Lessons Learned as Realtors

Preston and I are both millenials and our generation seems to be doing the home buying process differently than our baby boomer parents. We are more willing to rent to be in the right location vs buying the house in the suburbs. We have less cash for a down payment due to fun things like student loans. And due to popular TV shows and networks (cough HGTV couch) we all seem to want this great investment that we can “fix up” on our own.

Lucky for you, Preston and I are both licensed realtors in the state of Texas. We learned so much during our first year of real estate and realized we have so many lessons learned that we wish we could tell ourselves 3-5 years ago. Since purchasing a home is most likely one of the biggest investments of your life, we want to make sure you do not learn any of these lessons the hard way.

Lesson one: Why didn’t we buy that house years ago?!?

We live in Fort Worth and there are a couple of neighborhoods, primarily Fairmount and Ryan Place that have tripled in value over the past 10 years. I showed a couple a listing this week for a home that sold in 2010 (only 7 years ago!) for $150,000. An investor purchased it and completed fixed it up, brining this 1907 home back to life. They then sold it in 2015 for $350,000. Did your jaw just drop?! That is a 5 year gain of $200,000! Of course the investor most likely put some money into the house, but with that property value increase I am pretty sure they walked away with some cash in their pocket…the home is now re-listed for sale after a couple purchased it and added more improvements (garage, outdoor kitchen, fencing, lighting upgrades, etc) and are now trying to sell it for just under $550,000. Needless to say, we are kicking ourselves for not buying property in this area asap. We still plan to buy in this area because there are so many fixer upper potential homes that we believe make it a good investment even today. We just might cry when we pay over $300,000 for a home knowing we could have gotten it for under $200,000 just a couple of years ago…I wish I know that boarded up house in 2010 would now be selling for half a million dollars!

Now, you cannot always guess that a neighborhood that was once filled with several foreclosed homes would become the new neighborhood everyone wants to live in, but if you are looking for a fixer upper, those are the neighborhoods to look at. It would be worth it to rent the house out for a couple of years before you put a major investment into it to see where the market is trending.

Lesson two: BUY A HOUSE.

Due to living in different cities for a couple of years before we got married, we are late to the home buying game. Preston moved into my downtown apartment and we have stayed here until we buy our house…because yes, we are still looking. We will talk more about making compromises on homes, but it is easier said than done. I joke that Preston is the pickiest buyer I have worked with. We both know we need to buy a house sooner than later, but our deal breakers are different. I primarily want a home in a good neighborhood with good bones and two bathrooms (I believe it saves marriages!). Preston on the other hand wants a historic home in a specific neighborhood (but not a shotgun house), wrap around front porch, 3+ bedrooms for a home office, etc. So our personal house hunt goes on.

After not only seeing how much equity our friends have made from increasing property values alone, we are so sick of just paying rent. If you add up our monthly rent for the past two years, we would have a VERY nice down payment. Obviously not all investments are fool proof, but people typically do well in real estate. The industry also recommends having a house for ~ 5 years in order to recoup closing costs from buying, when you then list your house. That will also give you enough time to determine if the property value is increasing.

Lesson 3: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

As noted above, real estate is typically a great investment, but we recommend you follow our main advice: location, location, location. Check out the location of the house you are looking to buy. If it is close to something that you know you did not like (yes admit it) you might have an issue with future buyers when you look to resell it. This can be a power plant, highway, train tracks (hard to avoid in Fort Worth), etc.

Sometimes we have to coach buyers that if you are not building a brand new home, chances of having a perfect home that meets all of your needs is tough. No pre-owned home is going to be perfect. BUT also note, that a “perfect” home in a bad location is going to be tough to resell.

Disclaimer: there is always a catch 22 to location because you do not always know that a forgotten neighborhood is going to be revived making prices sky rocket. Just ask yourself if there was something you do not have control of (a major highway or creek that always floods) and if you believe it will be an issue to future buyers down the road. If you say yes, then this may not be the best investment. Note that if you plan to live in that house as your forever house, then it may not be as big of an issue, but if you are looking to make a quicker investment we always recommend checking out the neighborhood well.

Welcome to Homemade Revival!

Welcome to Homemade Revival! We are a husband and wife real estate team that loves all things home. You can call us homebodies, for sure. But that does not mean we want to be social. Our main desire for buying a home is to have a space to entertain. Of course there are other perks to purchase real estate (which we will go into on other blog posts), but for us, the ability to entertain at home was a top priority.

 

My name is Kelly and I love all things design. I originally went to TCU (Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX for those out of state) to study Interior Design. IMG_9106Growing up when the home improvement shows started I remember watching Trading Spaces and realizing that I could make a career out of my passion. I loved rearranging and redecorating my room. My mom (somewhat panicky) remembers leaving me playing in my room as a child and coming back to see I had moved my bed and dresser across the room all by myself. When I was decided on which University to attend to study Interior Design, we laughed when I visited one University that had the dorm room furniture attached to the wall–aka no mid semester rearranging–and knew it was not the school for me. Halfway through college I learned about Marketing and decided to switch my major to Business. This led to spending the last 6 years working at a large corporation trying to following the “logical” side of me to get a good, high paying, stable job. Recently I hit the pause button to follow my heart which lands me here starting this blog while working in the Real Estate industry. Don’t get me wrong, taking this big leap of faith took A LOT of courage and I still play the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” game in my head weekly. BUT I hear my heart screaming at me to follow my passion of being creative through design to make a direct impact on your home.

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Meet Preston, my husband. He is born and raised in Dallas, TX (but we wont hold that against him). Ironically I wanted to leave Austin and move to Dallas-Fort Worth, and he wanted to go to UT Austin for college. Luckily for me, Preston was not initially accepted to UT, so he went to TCU instead. Not only is he a kind, loving, supportive, and goofy husband, but he loves to cook. Ya’ll I am not kidding, this boy can COOK. And he LOVES it. He once described it as his stress relief to decompress from the day like when I do yoga (or lets face it veg out on social media). We started sharing photos of the meals Preston made with friends and family and that was when we realized people not only love seeing what he can cook, but they also want his recipes. Preston is passionate about all things historic. As a history major he loves to research how things were made and recreate it today. This goes for meals, cocktails, and home and furniture renovation.

Preston and I are both in real estate and we realized how much the average person is scared of decorating their home and hosting a dinner party at their house especially if it involves cooking from scratch. And this is where the blog Homemade Revival was born. We want to help you make your house a home!