Updated on August 31, 2021
Like a handshake with a new acquaintance, the curb appeal of your home gives a lasting first impression. It can tell people if your home is well cared for, provide a hint into its charm and style, and bring you a higher return on investment when it's time to sell.
South Hadley, Massachusetts realtor Aimee Kelly knows this. She shows homes to potential buyers every day and sees the looks on their faces when they get their first glimpse of a house for sale. Cracked front steps or a mailbox sitting on a rotting wood post can speak volumes and instantly turn buyers away.
When Aimee advises clients as to what will bring them the most return on investment when putting their houses on the market, it’s always what the buyer sees first. She likes to shop locally, believing that supporting local businesses helps keep the community economically strong and build lasting relationships.
Aimee visits the Swenson Granite Works South Hadley retail store to source items that improve a home's appearance and functionality.
Swenson Granite Works’ products can help provide a durable, timeless and attractive statement to a home’s exterior — the first thing people see upon visiting. Consider choosing granite for mailbox posts, walkways, entry steps, patio areas and decorative accessories such as benches, lamp posts, fountains, and birdbaths.
As Aimee would say, “make your home your own,” and small touches can make a big difference. Granite is strong, beautiful and low maintenance. Let Aimee take you on a tour of the South Hadley location to see how you can upgrade and put in the finishing touches that turn a house into a home.
Now more than ever, it’s important to work with a realtor who understands the housing market and is fully vested in it to make the most out of both the selling and buying process. Experience is invaluable in this fast paced market. For sellers, bringing your home into the market with a vested experienced realtor is essential to maximize top dollar with the best terms in the least amount of time. The Aimee Kelly Crew offers new buyers consultations, which are crucial, especially in this market, to help inform and educate them on what it’s like to enter this seller’s market.
The South Hadley team was thrilled to have a chance to catch up with Aimee during this interview and chat about the ways you can increase your home's resale value, the importance of curb appeal and what's happening in the real estate market.
Q: TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO REAL ESTATE?
A: I was introduced into real estate when I lived on the West Coast. I had just graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and we decided to move from California to Arizona. My husband decided to get into the business because the market was booming at that time! I chose to stay at home and raise our three children but watched, listened, and learned from behind the scenes. My husband and I purchased two homes by the time I was 26, which gave us added exposure to the home buying process early in life.
That being said, I really felt a connection to the real estate process and everything it entailed. I knew once all my children were in school that real estate was the business I wanted to be in full-time.
Q: YOU MENTION SOURCING AND BUYING LOCAL AS BEING IMPORTANT TO YOU. EXPLAIN.
A: It's extremely important to source and buy local within our community. I have found that there are plenty of business owners nearby who work really hard to provide quality products and services. I want to support the people around me because they are a part of what makes this town so great.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME TRENDS YOU’RE SEEING IN THE HOUSING MARKET?
A: One trend is extreme buyer traffic. I’ve had as many as 76 showings in a 2 day time period with 15 minute showings, even squeezing an open house in between the showings!
Another trend is deferred showings. This simply means that a property listing may go online at the beginning or middle of the week, but the sellers may elect to defer/start showings until a later date such as the weekend or the open house. A structured timeframe with a highest and best offer deadline at the time the listing goes live will help set the tone on the desirability of the home, in hopes to create a fair opportunity to all and push the buyers who are interested in making an offer to do so within a certain timeframe. There is often an expected short 1-2 day window of opportunity to make an offer on a property.
I’m also seeing multiple offers resulting in bidding wars (I’ve had as many as 33 offers on one property). Bidding wars ensure sellers will most likely obtain top dollar coupled with best terms for their property.
Aggressive offers that are waiving terms, such as inspections or appraisals and guaranteeing cash over the appraised value, are quite common. I’ve heard of buyers paying as much as $100,000 over the appraised value (what the bank is deeming that the property is worth).
In most cases, market value is far exceeding the appraised value.
Q: WHAT IS THE HOUSING MARKET FORECAST FOR 2021 AND 2022? WILL THINGS START COOLING OFF?
A: While the buyer traffic to visit and view homes that are available on the market is still intense, prices are beginning to level out a bit in some areas, compared to a couple of months ago, as more inventory has become available for single-family homes. Although the increase in inventory is not enough to satisfy demand, it might have given buyers more hope and ability to be a bit picky and selective in the homes they choose to make offers on, since they have more options to choose from. I still believe move-in ready homes are receiving multiple offers with highest and best terms. The properties that need a little more TLC may not see the same amount of activity or offers.
During the heavy months of summer, I also started to see a little buyer fatigue in the market. I think house hunting was put a bit on the back burner for some where they wanted to take full advantage of enjoying summer and vacationing.
This, in return, lessened the amount of offers submitted on properties. I also don’t think as many buyers are willing to “surrender all” to the seller in hopes to have their offer chosen. In response to lower buyer enthusiasm, the sellers are adjusting with price reductions on some occasions after spending just a short time period on the market.
Q: PLEASE SHARE SOME TIPS FOR INCREASING YOUR HOME'S VALUE WITH CURB APPEAL.
A: As a realtor, I am asked all the time if I put "X" into my home will I be able to see the return on investment? I'm also the expert that sits down with these potential sellers to determine what their home's value is and why certain home renovations produce a greater ROI than others. This is largely based on what potential buyers are willing to pay more for.
Curb appeal is extremely important as it sets the tone immediately as to whether or not the prospective buyer feels instantly impressed or perhaps let down. It also gives the buyer a feeling as if the home has been well taken care of or let go. There are all kinds of things a homeowner can do to enhance their home's curb appeal, both big and small.
Some of my favorite things that someone can do to "make their home their own" are in the little things such as improving something as simple as a mailbox. It could very well be the first thing someone sees depending on where it's placed. I love the idea of making a statement with something you utilize on a daily basis and something that most people see from the moment they arrive. It's the little things that can make a big impression. So why not use a timeless piece of beautiful granite to be the statement you make with your mailbox post?
WOODBURY GRAY™ granite mailbox post
If you are going to go big and get the most value for your dollar, then you can't go wrong with a well-kept walkway and front steps that lead you up to that all-important front door. There are so many ways to make your home your own, from creating walkways with unique stone and granite pavers to a new patio for entertaining. And, you really can't go wrong with stone. It's timeless, durable and attractive.
WOODBURY GRAY™ granite steps and walkway. Project by Timothy Lee Landscape Design
So many times I show homes where the concrete front steps are pulling away from the front door due to settling or the New England weather taking a toll on them. Most buyers instantly think it's going to be very expensive for them to fix the issue. I think it might be surprising for most homeowners to know that depending on the height of your front steps, the cost to replace concrete with granite steps and a landing is more affordable than one might think. A basic three-step set of stairs is around $1,100 and the return on investment is well worth it.
Take it from Aimee, it's worth it to add value to your home's curb appeal with timeless, long-lasting granite products.
Get inspired! Check out some ideas to level up your home's first impression. Download our Curb Appeal Inspiration Guide.