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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Secrets to selling: Stager offers tips for a quick sale


Photo By: Above Photo Courtesy of Minkin Development bottom photos courtesy of Clarum Homes
Photo Above Photo Courtesy Of Minkin Development Bottom Photos Courtesy Of Clarum Homes

Staging a house such as the Los Altos residence on Cuesta Drive, above, can help potential buyers envision the possibilities of the space without the personal clutter. Talented stagers can open up a home and make it feel inviting.

There is a secret to selling your home quickly and for top dollar. That secret has nothing to do with the house itself and everything to do with your mindset.

Yes, it is all about the position you take. The best thing you can do to encourage a quick sale for a good price is to turn the switch in your head from “This is my house” to “This is their house.” Without a doubt, this will be the hardest thing you do once you decide to sell your home, particularly if you have lived there for a while, but once you decide to let go, amazing things can happen.

Determining a price

Let’s start with the biggie, setting the price. When you think about all you have put into your home – blood, sweat, tears and dollars – there is a tendency to add it up to determine what you think the price should be. Fight that urge and the voice in your head that says you should price it at a certain amount because it will help pay for retirement or purchase the next house.

The price your home will sell for is simply what the buyer will pay. The buyer has no concern with what you plan to do with the proceeds. Put the right dollar amount on your listing and you should generate a great deal of interest and tempt several qualified buyers.

Select an amount that is too high and you will enter the zone of what I call the “Polluted Listing” – the house that sits for months and months, maybe a year or more, until one potential buyer saunters in with a lowball offer because the house has been sitting around so long they think there must be something wrong with it. (This is not the case for high-end luxury homes. Sometimes the pool of buyers is so limited for homes $20 million and above, it takes time for the right buyer to appear.)

How does one arrive at the correct price? It is really an educated guess based on data from successful home sales in your neighborhood, then adding and subtracting what you have or don’t have compared with the recently sold properties. This is called a “comp,” short for “comparable.” Banks and other lenders rely heavily on such data to underwrite loans. A comp analysis is also what a professional realtor provides for your review as a basis for establishing an asking price.

Selecting a realtor

Should you list your home with a professional realtor? Yes. There are many reasons why the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route could prove penny wise and pound foolish. For example, you still have to pay for marketing – and probably a lot more of it. Realtors with buyers in hand tend to shy away from FSBOs because they can be much harder to negotiate. Additionally, an FSBO may make costly mistakes that a professional would have caught. A realtor will handle the contract and his or her broker assumes some liability on the realtor’s behalf. This provides more protection for the seller than hiring an attorney who will only write up the sales contract.

Staging the home

Do you think staging matters? If you concur with the advice to switch from the “my house’” to “their house” mentality, it matters a lot.

While you might be in love with every decorative detail – that sublime teal paint on the walls in your guest room, that awesome collection of dancing frogs you inherited from your favorite aunt – these are all nonstarters for a potential buyer.

Most people have too much stuff and too much clutter for a buyer to imagine themselves living in the home. Most buyers have little imagination, so they either can’t or don’t want to see past the things that do not appeal to them. We have all seen the potential homebuyer on TV lamenting the color of the walls. Really? They won’t buy a house for that reason? It happens.

While professional stagers may be able to work with some of your pieces, the best results occur when stagers are left to their own devices to work magic with art and furniture. They can showcase and open up the home so that it appears at its most inviting. Yes, there will be new nail holes from hanging art, but those can be touched up after the house is sold.

Heightening curb appeal

Curb appeal cannot be overstated. As with the first impression when one walks through the front door, walking and/or driving up to an attractive, well-kept exterior and landscaping is the first step in capturing the buyer’s imagination.

Simple is good, as is balance. The landscape should be proportional and neat – no out-of-control hedges or weeds, which are a big turnoff. The front door should feel substantial and secure. Colorful plants in nice pots or in the ground along the walkway set a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere. Porches, patios and balconies should have places to sit and relax. Sell a lifestyle before the buyer walks inside and you will be one step closer to a sale.

By surrendering the “My house” mindset and embracing the “This could be your house” attitude, not only might you sell your home more quickly, but also possibly for more money than you originally thought.

Sherry Scott is an interior designer, stager and 30-year resident of Silicon Valley. For more information, call 207-6871 or visit www.modernstaginggroup.com.

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