Wed10222014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

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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