Before You List Anything- Part 3- Cheats For Making Your Home More Attractive


For part 3 of our “Before You List Anything” series, we’re going to give you some general tips on making your home look more attractive for photos and showings!


·       Pressure wash (house, driveway, sidewalk & fence)

·       Repaint or clean the front door.

·       Place flowering plants in pots at the front.

·       Remove anything in the yard that doesn’t belong.

·       Spruce up the mailbox.


·       Dust, mop, vacuum and scrub like you’re getting paid for it, because you will be!

·       Remove clutter & keep surfaces clear.

·       Tidy the toys!

·       Clean fridge, oven, microwave & dishwasher. 

·       Clean ceiling fans and ceilings above them.

·       Clean drapes and blinds.

·       Clean pool & spa.

·       Clean porch and patio furniture.

·       Don’t forget the fireplace and chimney.

·       Replace light switch and outlet plates for a fresh clean look, and clean baseboards to match.

FIX IT!  (Keep all receipts.)

·       Fix doors that don’t work, and gates that don’t latch.

·       Replace all smoke detector and alarm system batteries.

·       Change all light bulbs.

·       Fix annoying plumbing & electrical issues.

·       Replace old bathroom exhaust fans with new ones.

·       Make sure the doorbell works.         

·       Service your air conditioner(s).

·       Clean your dryer vent.

·       If you have the money, before listing, hire a professional inspector to inspect the home for issues and fix as many as you can before listing.  Often these items can be fixed competently by a handyman, but once you are in contract, repairs must often be performed by a licensed contractor, which can be costly or hard to arrange at the last minute!


·       Kitchen drawers and cabinets           

·       Closets

·       Shelves


·       Label light switches & breaker box switches.

·       Make a features list & include recent renovations.

·       Figure out where pets will be during showings

·       Make sure you know where sensitive personal items like paperwork can be tucked away quickly so that your personal information is out of sight during showings.

·       Address the smell - Light candles use air freshener 

If you have the money

·       Get an appraisal

·       Get a home inspection

·       Get a termite inspection

 We hope this series was able to give you an idea of what goes into listing a property. For more information, be sure to follow us on Instagram here, and check back every week for new blog posts!

Before You List Anything- Part 2- How To Speed Up Your Sale












Pricing, pricing, pricing! 

The very first question we’re asked after “How much do you think my property is worth?” is “How long will it take to sell?”  We often say that if you’re getting no showings, it’s your price.  If you’re getting showings and no offers, it’s the property (at that price).  Simply put, pricing is the most important thing.  The more accurate your pricing, the faster you will sell. It dictates how long your home sits on the market, whether it sails through a loan process and how picky your buyers will be about the condition of your home.

Pricing above the market.

At the end of the day, a good realtor works for you! You have the final say in what your house is listed for.  However, if you think your property is worth more than everyone else’s in the neighborhood, be prepared to own it for a while.  The market is littered with overpriced properties, because people get attached to their homes and put sentimental feelings into their price point. Prices then start stair-stepping down as days on the market increase.  In some cases, the cost to the seller of owning the home during the seller’s pricing “experimental” period exceeds the discount that would be required to sell it.  Crazy, huh?  Nope, we see it all the time, and almost every seller starts the listing process by thinking theirs will be the one case where overpricing actually works.  It won’t work.  It also just delays your success. 

An example: 

Your home in a community is priced much higher than what nearby homes sold for.  Nobody can figure out why, because its features are similar to most other homes in that community.  Nobody calls for a showing.  You are frustrated.  The listing Realtor calls other Realtors and potential buyers and holds open houses.  The listing Realtor markets the home like mad.  Still nothing.  The Realtors who noticed the property when it first hit the market have seen it come to their Inbox so many times, they don’t pay attention to it anymore. 

You’ve lost the attention of the market, and there is a vague feeling now that there is something wrong with the property (which there isn’t).  Now, it is hard to counter the impression that the house is sitting on the market for reasons other than price.  Even if the seller reduces the price to be fair, the reduction is not large enough to capture the attention of the market again.  The home does not sell until there is a significant additional price reduction.  The terms of the contract require many repairs, and you are now so happy to have a buyer at all, that you agree to make all of them.  Meanwhile, you have been paying insurance, property taxes, HOA fees and a mortgage during this process.  It would have been much less expensive to price the property accurately in the first place.

If you find a buyer to pay an inflated price and that buyer needs financing, you’ll also need to hope the appraiser for the buyer’s lender agrees with your price.  Appraisers work strictly with market data and not with emotion.  Sellers understandably get attached to their homes and value them more than an objective appraiser.  The learn more about pricing your property, you can read our blog post here!

There is so much more to say on this topic, but you can see why we counsel sellers to price to the market.  It’s not because we want a quick sale.  It’s simply a better strategy.

We hope this post can give you a good idea on how to effectively price your home. To keep up to date with new blog posts, real estate tips, and more, follow us on Instagram here!

Before You List Anything! Part 1- What's It Worth?!

Find out what properties like yours have recently sold for in your area of town.   In residential real estate, this is called a “comparative market analysis” or CMA.  In commercial, you’ll do a “market study”. 

It pays to price accurately, because your price signals the market about how realistic you are as a seller.  Your price will also determine how long you sit on the market.  If you over-price, be prepared to sit there.

It pays to understand what is and is not comparable to your property.  Let’s use your home as an example.  The more similar your home is to a property you compare it to, the better “comp” (comparable) the other property it is.  It will be more persuasive in arguing your home’s value.   Choosing “comps” is a big part of pricing a home to sell it. 


Let’s say you live in a 2,800 square foot home with a Diamond Devco “Island Aire” floorplan.  It has these features:

  • In the northern part of town 

  • In Blue Sky Subdivision

  • Built in 1998, 

  • On a 60’ x 130’ lot, 

  • Directly next to a busy street, and 

  • 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  

  • It does NOT have a swimming pool, but the yard is fenced.


We know that your friend just listed her home with the exact same floorplan for $800,000, but she lives in a completely different area of town, and we will ignore it.  Why???  Her home is:

  • Not sold

  • In the southeastern part of town

  • In the Ocean View Subdivision

  • On a cul-de-sac

  • Built in 2001

  • On a 60’ x 100’ lot, and

  • It does have a swimming pool.


Your friend’s home might have the exact same floorplan, but she lives in a different area of town, her home is newer, and while she has a smaller lot, she does have a swimming pool, which also gives her an upward bump in value.  Also, she has not yet sold her home.  The market will tell what her home is worth in her market when we see what a buyer agrees to pay for it, but we don’t know that until it sells.


We are over-simplifying, and there is a lot more of a science to choosing comps, but generally, we look for:

  • Properties in your subdivision or neighborhood (even better if they are on your street).

  • That have sold within the last year

  • With a similar size, similar age and similar size lot

  • With similar features


We do look at properties that are listed but have not yet sold, but only to set our sales expectations.  If comps say that the homes like yours recently sold between $500,000 and $550,000, we would expect a similar sale.  The market might have moved up a little (like 1% or 2%) if the market trend is upward, so, we’ll give you that.  However, let’s say 2 similar homes in your neighborhood were just listed yesterday at $485,000 each.  That would indicate a downward trend.  Unless your home is far superior, it would be hard to get $500,000, much less $550,000.  If you insist on listing high, you’ll sit there for a while.  We would recommend pricing in line with other homes that are available to the same buyer in the same area. 


Remember - even if you get a contract at a really high price, you will usually face an appraiser who will do what??  Look at the comps!  If the comps don’t support your price, the buyer won’t be able to finance the purchase, and you’ll sit with it.


Accurate pricing is an art.  We understand that most sellers are mistrustful of agents in this regard.  Sellers believe all agents want is a quick sale and price low to the detriment of sellers.  Maybe that is true for some bad apples.  Normally though, Realtors get a bad reputation for selling out their customers that way.  An experienced Realtor who shows you credible market figures and has a well-founded basis for his or her opinion, is actually providing valuable market insight to help you achieve your goal of selling!

Dos and Don'ts of Real Estate Photography


Can you believe these are the same room?  Unfortunately, we see photos that look more like the first one than we care to admit. The way your home is presented is CRITICAL to it being sold. When people search online for property, the first thing they look at are the photos!

So how do you make sure your home or listing is being presented in the best way possible?

Don’t worry…we’ve got your back!

We’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind when taking photos of a home. Whether you’re a realtor trying to upgrade your photography skills, or a homeowner who wants to ensure their home is being presented in the best way possible, these tips can serve as a checklist during the photography process.


1.     Let there be Light!  Turn on every single light, and throw open the blinds.  Dark is where mold grows. People love light! 

2.     Clean it Up.  You don’t have to channel Marie Kondo to get great photos, but remove trash, towels, toys, and personal things before you snap the photo.  Tidy up and clean surfaces too.  The camera sees everything. 

3.     No More than Three.  Professionals ban any more than 3 items on a surface per photo.  Yep.  3 - max.  That means you, collectors and clutterbugs. 

4.     Get Off the Stage.  If you see yourself in a mirror or your reflection in a window, you’re in the photo.  Make sure your photos feature your home and not you.

5.     Right-Size It.  What’s with the tiny photos on the MLS?  If the photo has a space to fill, make sure your photo fills it.  Nothing screams “amateur” louder than wrong-sized photos!

6.     Embrace Diversity.  Capture the same room or façade from different angles.  Often, the angle you think will look best looks terrible in a photo!  Sometimes a different perspective is just what you need, so have a few diverse perspectives to choose from!

7.     Show Off Your Best Features.  Don’t you just love listings that talk about fantastic features in a home, and there are literally NO PHOTOS of them? This is your opportunity to show off.  Don’t miss it!


1.     Get Artistic.  The point of photos is to show how great your home is – not how artistic you are.  Serious buyers want to see the home as it truly is.  Panoramic views (unless you have a spectacular mountain or beach view), photos stitched together to form a collage, odd angles and the like focus more on your photo technique than the property and just detract from your goal.

2.     Include Pets.  We adore our pets too, but buyers can be turned off by photos of pets in a home, as they imagine smells, dirt, dander and allergic reactions.  It becomes more about the pet than the home. 

3.     Photograph on a Dark Day. The sun is our friend, and the best time for real estate photos is morning.  Avoid rainy days and cloudy days to maximize the sparkle!

4.     Photograph a Blur.  You would think this is obvious, but the number of blurry photos we’ve seen (taken from a moving car? after a cocktail session?) is astounding! Photos are digital, so it costs nothing to discard a bad one and take another.  It’s worth the extra 5 seconds.

5.     Feature the Toilet.  Seriously.  The goal of your photos is not to catalog every inch of your living space.  If the bathroom looks awful or any photo you take seems to scream, “TOILET!” then don’t include that photo.  Serious buyers will visit your home and see the bathroom. 

6.     Include Odd Items.  We’ve seen some doozies.  Giant KISS dolls, mounted animal heads, great grandma’s butter churn, 100 clown heads, the largest bowling pin in the state (we’re pretty sure), and large religious statues become the point of the photo.  These things are so unusual and personal that buyers can’t see past them to see the actual property.

7.     Photograph a Barrier.  People love wide open spaces and good flow.  Photos taken from behind a couch or kitchen bar cut off the view through the room and make everything look smaller.  Step to the side and show how open and welcoming your space is!

Thank you so much for reading! Hopefully, we won’t be seeing many more realtors hanging out in the bathroom mirror on their listing photos. Be sure to check out our website and follow us on Instagram @shasteensizemore (linked below).

Check back every Wednesday for new blog posts.

if you happen to live in the Tampa Bay area and are looking for a realtor, don’t hesitate and give us a call. We’ll be happy to take care of it!

See Tampa Bay as a Native

Having grown up in Tampa with roots three generations deep, it gives me great pride and pleasure to represent homes in the Tampa Bay area.  I remember from a very young age my grandfather, Gus, buying and selling homes and lots.  He not only did it as his own hobby, but he also loved to help his family and friends find a home or property to build their new home on.

My father, who is also a licensed real estate agent, has owned and rented property all up and down the Gulf Coast and throughout the Bay Area.  Watching him all my life has instilled in me the belief that customer satisfaction starts with listening carefully to client needs and then applying solid market knowledge.  He showed me that formula is paramount to being a good Realtor.  With this background, I have always been interested in following the real estate market and especially in knowing property values in diverse areas of Tampa.   

The market is changing, and clients have become much more sophisticated.  My goal is to stay ahead of the market and ahead of our clients (not easy to do). To do that, I am always working to improve my skills and knowledge to give you top-level service.  As a licensed Realtor, I have taken several advanced courses.  I recently achieved the very special designation as a Graduate, Realtor Iinstitute (GRI), a designation for Realtors that indicates a higher level of training and knowledge. The knowledge I gain from pursuing further real estate education beyond basic licensing courses broadens my ability to serve you.  Serving you and making sure you have a good experience are my top goals.  It is never too much trouble to go the extra mile to get the expertise and understanding that allow me to serve you better. 

Patrick Fernandez, FL. Lic. Real Estate Sales Associate



Real Estate is Like Chocolate Milk

The first rule in real estate is location, location, location, right?

In my many years as a chocolate milk connoisseur, I can tell you the price of each chocolate milk brand out there.  More importantly, I can tell you how the price of a particular brand in Publix differs from the price of that same brand in Wal Mart.  If you tell me that you’re looking for a high-quality chocolate milk brand, in a nice location, at the lowest price possible, I would tell you to go to Publix and get their house brand priced at $2.99.  (Publix brand is the unspoken hero of chocolate milk everywhere!).  This is something that only a true chocolate milk connoisseur would be able to tell you.

Why should buying a home be any different?

After being licensed, I took my passion for the chocolate milk market and applied the same principles to real estate.  OK, so it is a little more complex, but I figured that I should be able to tell a client where the best homes are, in the nicest area, at the lowest price possible.  Most people know what they are looking for, but when people ask, “What is the price of a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home,” I ask them “Where?”  Knowing the prices of different types of properties in different areas of Tampa Bay takes time.  It is my job to know that.  Real estate is one of the biggest investments people make. 

I want people to find a home that makes them as happy as I am when drinking Publix brand chocolate milk.  (What if there was a fridge full of Publix brand chocolate milk when purchasing a home? That must be what heaven is like!) 

When you do business with our brokerage, we can help you find a great home, in a nice neighborhood, at a fantastic price.   You are not just a number to us.  You have our undivided attention, and we have your best interests at heart.  We will listen to your wants and needs with open ears, and help you find the perfect fit.

So stop settling for houses that are less than what you deserve, and let us help you find a home that you can be proud of.   A life without Publix brand chocolate milk is a sad one, and a life without a happy home is ALMOST equally as sad.

– Donavan Barrett, FL. Lic. Real Estate Sales Associate