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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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