By Gina Dostler
House buying is a physical experience, getting out to view homes and neighborhoods. Now, house selling is a physical experience as well, remodeling, staging and getting the home ready to show.
Both can clearly become an emotional experience when trying to find a house to call home or to fix one up so someone finds it their home. Communication plays a very big part in this ordeal where the needs, dreams, visions of the homebuyer is properly understood by the realtor.
Now imagine deciding to buy a home oversees. Not only does the realtor need to check out all the architectural styles involved, but also handle all the idiosyncrasies of buying real estate in other countries. And that requires lots of communication.
Holly Schwartz, a former producer and director for House Hunters and House Hunters International, knows from experience the dedication and communication any realtor goes through when buying or selling a home. Holly is currently a Realtor and the marketing director at Torelli Realty and helps clients with home improvement projects to help homes sell.
Holly has spent more than five years working for shows that have aired on Home and Garden Television (HGTV). She also worked on the top-rated real estate/design shows “Designers’ Challenge” and “My House is Worth What?”
Having worked with homebuyers, sellers, and realtors around the world gave Holly a chance to tour homes and research real estate markets in great detail. She was very happy to discuss some of her advice to homebuyers and sellers.
Q: Having produced three shows and now actively involved with real estate and the community, what motivates you into finding homes for people?
A: I always had an interest in real estate since I was a kid. I was obsessed with real estate magazines, my face buried between the pages of homes for sale checking out the different designs. A people person at heart, I enjoy interacting with people so the combination of beautiful homes and helping people find their right home became a seamless transition from the production company. TV production involves a lot of creativity and believe it or not so does real estate. Using creative problem solving, I love helping people get a good fit in a home by seeing past what a house looks like and outlining its potential.
Q: What was it like working on the Home & Garden (HGTV) channel?
A: I had many exciting experiences traveling and working with House Hunter International looking for homes for people in an array of different cultures. Most of the homes were second homes or vacation homes. One thing I learned was investing in another culture or lifestyle can be a bit tricky. Homes abroad have a different focus in their way of living. Most of the properties are much older than we have here in the West Coast, homes sometimes dating back to the 15th century such as in Europe. The homes are usually smaller and are constructed with function in mind, not space. I would say someone investing abroad is buying for the location more than buying for a larger home. It’s the views, the neighborhoods and the century old cities that provide the appeal to buyers to surround themselves in a circle of culture and history.
Q: Your show, “My House is Worth What?” showed people how to improve the value of their property. What are some of your insights?
A: People that had made improvements on their home throughout the years and as well as those prepping the home for sale need to understand that anything taste specific narrows the field of potential buyers. In other words, stay neutral in your improvements; don’t go over the top with your favorite design ideas. You can’t expect any body else to like what you might like. When making functional improvements like a new roof or new windows, don’t expect a dollar for dollar return on that investment into your home. It just doesn’t work that way.
Q: Getting a home ready to sell can be challenging. What in your experience do most people overlook?
A: Forgetting the real function of the room. You want to create a room the way it was intended to be, such as the dining room, if used for a study, needs to be put back as a dining room with table, chairs, etc. It is vital that each room carry its function in a clear setting. You need to create the visualization for the buyer in order to make an impression and instill the right feeling that speaks to them. If the home is vacant, fill it up to make it looked lived in and more appealing so people can envision it as their home.
Q: Any other places of focus?
A: De-cluttering. Clear unwanted things out of the home, put treasured knick-knacks away, keep it clean with a nice easy flow throughout the house. There shouldn’t be any narrow paths for clients to squeeze by. My motto is less is more. Also highlight items as a focal point, like fireplaces, windows and views. Pull back the curtains to show the landscaped yard or ocean setting.
Q: Any other tidbits of information to give the home seller?
A: Create good curb appeal. You want to give an excellent representation of your home when any buyer pulls up. You never have a second chance to make a first impression so clean up the yard. You won’t get them in the house if they aren’t excited about the exterior of the home. Also, keep things light and bright, open the curtains, clean the windows so they sparkle. A dark home is not very welcoming.
Q: As a realtor do you see an upswing in home sales?
A: Actually the real estate market in coastal cities is doing rather well. Interest rates are low and homes are selling.