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Home for the Holidays October 13, 2011

Posted by bobgauger in Uncategorized.
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They say “there is no place like home for the holidays,” and what could be more picturesque than a house dolled up in all its Hallmark card, Macy’s catalog glory?  Despite this sentiment, it is a common belief among sellers and REALTORS alike that selling a house and the holiday season don’t mix.  I say “Bah!  Humbug!”  People are infatuated with the season and making your property look like the ideal home will have buyers falling in love right under the mistletoe.  Many sellers get cold feet during this time and take their property off the market.  This improves the odds of the individual seller by limiting the number of competiting properties.   Selling during the holidays can also demonstrate the sincerity of the buyer.  Anyone willing to give up time celebrating to look for a new home is a serious buyer and deserves to have properties available for viewing. 

Because this region is so up-and-coming, there is no reason to put selling your home on hold just because of the season.  Southern Maryland is a transient area offering lucrative employment opportunities in Washington D.C. and surrounding military bases.  The result is a booming quasi-cosmopolitan, yet family friendly, community rich with amenities.  A quality home and the promise of the area are factors too great to ignore for festive nostalgia.  In order to make selling during the holidays easier you will need to have a knowledgeable REALTOR by your side that shares your enthusiasm.

Before getting started, sit down with your agent and make sure you are both familiar with each other’s holiday plans.  Part of the hassle of selling homes in the holiday season is synchronizing schedules so it’s best to lay everything out on the table in advance.  This allows your agent to maximize on consumers’ down time to schedule showings while they have more time off work.  This is also a wonderful opportunity to assess the quality of your agent.  A REALTOR that is hardworking and reliable during the holiday season is one worth having any time of the year. 

Finally, if you are going to keep your house on the market you need to make sure it’s ready for viewing.  During most of the year it’s advised that sellers depersonalize and declutter their homes.  There is a lot to be said for giving your space the universal appeal of the show room look.  People have an easier time imagining themselves living in your house if they aren’t reminded that it is your house.  However, the holiday season is different.  Seeing a home that appears warm and cheerful will entice buyers to make happy memories here as well.  Please note I’m not giving carte blanche to fill every nook and cranny with dancing Santas.  Tasteful, seasonal decor with one or two professional, family photographs is best.  This keeps the clean, streamline effect buyers like while maintaining the personal flair we cherish during the holidays.

Keeping these aspects in mind, I hope you have a new found confidence with keeping your home on the market during this season.  This can be an opportune time to showcase your property to truly interested buyers giving them the chance to have a new home for the holidays!


Home Staging — Is it Really Worth the Expense? December 20, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in General, home staging, Resources, Seller Tips, Uncategorized.
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Quality home staging significantly improves a seller’s chance to affect a quick sale at the highest possible price.  This is why we have a home stager on our team. While my expertise is marketing, pricing in today’s market, contract negotiations and seeing a transaction through the settlement process, Jill Oliver, our staff Home Stager, provides the expertise in organizing and home staging. When applicable, we have Jill consult with our clients to prepare their home for the market.

Here is a recent Q&A with Jill:

  • What would you say are the top three things that sellers should do to their house before putting it up for sale?  
    De-Clutter, organize and clean, make necessary repairs, update.
  • Is it important to ‘depersonalize’ a house before showing it? Are there any exceptions? 
    Yes, it is very important to depersonalize a home before putting it on the market.  People want to envision themselves living in the house, but if there are personal pictures hanging on the walls and on every surface, they will not be able to see themselves in the home — they will just see the pictures.  If my clients are adamant about their pictures, I tell them to leave a couple, and leave them in the more private spaces of the home: upstairs, bedrooms, etc.
  • Can a house that is too personalized hurt its chances of being sold? 
    Yes.  You want to make the home as neutral as possible.  You want to market your home to as many different people as possible.  So neutralize the color scheme, the decorating and the furniture.
  • Should rooms with unique or outdated features be changed or does it depend? (those painted in bold colors, have unique wall murals, pink shaggy carpeting, etc…..)
    Yes!!!  In Southern Maryland alone there are over 1700 homes on the market.  You need to have your home stand out amongst the competition.  So, yes, if you have turquoise Formica countertops, pink carpeting or black walls – they have to go.  As I said before, you need to neutralize the home.  Bold colors need to be replaced with a softer neutral color, but that doesn’t mean it has to be white.  We can usually find a neutral color in the same family as the bold color — the client is happy and the house is neutralized.
  • What are some of the common mistakes sellers make when preparing their house to go on the market? 
    Not preparing the house for market.  Most clients think their house is wonderful and there is nothing wrong with it.  When Bob gives me a listing, I do a complete walk-through on the home and tell the clients what needs to be completed in the home before it goes on the market.  Most times, rooms will have too much clutter or too much furniture, especially if there are kids in the home. 

    Closets need to be cleaned out, as well as kitchen pantries, because a potential buyer will look in the closets.  I tell the client that if the closets are packed full, they are essentially telling potential buyers there isn’t enough storage in the home. 

    You need to purge and clean before putting your house on the market.  Our goal is to make every home look like a show house before it goes on the market. 

REALTORS – It’s All About You! Or … is it? November 29, 2007

Posted by bobgauger in Uncategorized.
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Who would agree that it’s all about you?  Take a look at some of the ads in any issue of the REALTOR Magazine and the message is clear.  Companies are advertising, “It’s about you.”  Agents are stating, “It’s about me.”  As I was writing this post, sitting at a traffic light, (don’t worry, my wife was driving) a big bright red SUV pulled up with license plates that read, “2ME 4ME”.

Who is it really about?  Zig Ziglar tells us in his “Little Book of Big Quotes”, “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.”  In the Bible, Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

I don’t know how you feel, but when I complete a settlement with a buyer or seller client, knowing that my focus was on them and their needs, rather than mine, and they express a sincere appreciation for my concern and efforts on their behalf, that’s my reward.  The money comes in due time, but in my mind the money is secondary.  Sure, the money is important.  Zig Ziglar says it comes in second place, right after the air we breathe. 

The fact of the matter is, when we take care of others, our needs are met, oftentimes more than we could have imagined.  In the case of the satisfied client, we gain a friend, repeat business and referrals.  All of which represents an opportunity to conduct a repeat performance.  Then, there are the other blessings we receive that seem to come out of nowhere that some consider a coincidence.  I believe they’re heaven sent. 

I believe it’s not all about me.

Joc & Rosemary Ferruzza               


Dear Bob,

Thank you so much for the effective and efficient way in which you sold our house of 25 years. The fact that you sold it and helped us get the condo we wanted in a slow home market is testimony to your skill and concern for our needs. We would readily recommend you to anyone wishing to sell or buy property. You are a true professional.

Thank Karen for her wonderful fish and keep Sarah at the piano.

We are glad you and your company, EXIT First Realty, came into our lives. We are quite happy in the condo and hear good things from the buyer of our home. Come by and see us sometime.

Best wishes to all and many thanks,
Joc & Rosemary Ferruzza

Monique and James Tyger                  


We just wanted to write to say Thank You for all your patience and guidance. It was a long journey. I got in contact with Bob in November because I was moving to the Maryland area and my new husband and I would be looking for a house. The nightmare began when the house my husband was selling fell out of contract on four different occassions with another Realtor and a court appointed trustee, but Bob was always helpful and positive. Bob kept us going and made us laugh even at our darkest hour.

My husband and I could not have made it through this stressful and disappointing time without Bob and Mike Mazzola working so hard getting us into the perfect house. The other house sold and we moved into our house August 2007. WE FINALLY DID IT!!!!

We highly recommend Bob and Exit First Realty because it is the only company that we have dealt with that is true, honest and professional. We never had a problem getting a hold of Bob. He was always available to answer all of our questions. Our whole family has grown very fond of Bob. We are proud to call Bob our dearest friend and we will always be greatful. We can’t thank you enough, Bob.

Monique and James Tyger

Gordy & Kathy Stinson


We have dealt with Realtors and agencies many times in the past. I don’t remember ever having had a bad experience with any of them. None however has come close to equalling you and your Team. Friends of ours suggested you when they learned we were being transferred on very short notice.

Let me just say that the service you provided us has been unmatched by any agent, anywhere. We had less than two weeks before we had to actually move and were very nervous when we initially met with you and Angie. You already had a plan and a strategy for marketing our home the first time we met. You did all of the things we had come to expect from real estate agencies:
Signs in the yard, fliers and such. It was the rest of the package that was amazing.

Here’s just a few:

  1. A phone number on the sign in the yard to call and listen to professionally scripted message describing our home.
  2. A website to go into and actually take a virtual tour of our home. It was professionally done and was amazing.
  3. The “Settlement Room” on the WEB wasn’t just a settlement room as you may think of it. It was a site that we could visit anytime and see what was going on with our house. More on that in a moment.
  4. Placing our home on realtor.com. If you’ve been looking for a new home you’ve probably been there. Of course this linked directly to a virtual tour of our home.
  5. Here’s the best one, “You sold our house”!!!! We had a buyer in a matter of days. Not weeks, not months….days. During a time when my wife and I felt the market was really slowing. We listed it in mid September and closed on the Sale in Early November. We never sat and wondered what was going on with the house. In the “Settlement Room” everything was right there for us to look at. We saw the home inspection report, the termite inspection report, when they were scheduled and when they were actually conducted. Every time a piece of paper was generated concerning our house we reviewed a copy online in the “Settlement Room”. It kept us informed as to what had already beeen accomplished, what needed to be done and when it was going to be done.

Everything went exactly as you assured us it would, Bob, and for that we are truly grateful. Thanks to each one of you on the “Team”.

We are well beyond satisfied clients, Bob. Honesty and integrity are all so often seen as obstacles in doing excellent work. In your case they are practiced in everything you do. God bless you and the “Team”.

Gordy and Kathy Stinson

More testimonials here