10 Things You Must Do To Get Top Dollar For Your Home


There’s an old saying that if a home is priced right, eventually it will sell. And, for the most part, that’s true. But sales price is only the beginning.

Buyers are picky, and when they have lots of options to choose from, you need to make sure your home is the one they remember—for the right reasons. For my clients, that means advising them on changes that will make their home memorable and saleable. Some may just need a few key fixes, others may need to be brought into this century. Either way, these tips can help them get top dollar for their home and sell quickly.

1. Clean, clean, clean.
Buyers do not want to sell your dirty dishes in the sink or your dirty laundry on the floor. You want them to remember your house, not the color of your boxer briefs.

2. Declutter. Then declutter some more.
Your knickknacks are not going to sell your home. Pare down your accessories, and, when you think you’re done, take another pass. Then box them up. That way you’ll also have a head start on your packing.

3. Address your front door.
Replacing your front door is the most important home improvement you can make, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. The return on investment (ROI) is between 91 percent and 121 percent depending on whether it’s a fiberglass or steel door. But you can get a similar effect by painting your door. It’s a must for my listings.

4. Improve your curb appeal.
You know what they say about a first impression. If your home looks shabby on the outside, potential buyers may not even look inside. The drought is making it difficult for many California sellers whose lawn used to be pristine, but you can still make your yard look better by mowing if needed, raking any fallen leaves, incorporating drought-tolerant plants, and adding some colorful flowers in pots near the door.

5. Clean your carpets.
No one wants to play “identify the stain” when looking for a house. If you can’t clean it, rip it out. If you can’t afford to rip it out, cover it up. Throw rugs are cheap and can add some stylish flair where needed.

6. Fix up your kitchen.
The average major kitchen remodel for the Pacific Region (defined as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii by Remodeling Magazine) costs $62,411, and provides an 81 percent, or $50,650 return on investment. Triple those numbers for certain L.A. neighborhoods!

If you’re planning to live in the home for a few more years, that’s not a bad ROI. But not many people are going to drop that much money on a new kitchen just to get their home sold. You can get some bang for your buck by making small but impactful changes to your kitchen like:

  • Painting your cabinets—A fresh coat of white can magically transform a dated and dreary kitchen.
  • Cleaning your grout—If you’re not in a position to replace your tile countertops with quartz or another updated material, at least make sure they’re in great condition and are sparkling clean.
  • Changing out your lighting—This is one of my top tips for sellers, and one I use throughout their homes.
  • Adding hardware—It’s easy, inexpensive, and can add a modern touch to a kitchen that needs one.

7. Add neutral window coverings.
This is another change I always make when getting one of my client’s listings ready for sale. Window coverings that are too bold, too old, or too ugly can turn off a buyer.

8. Pack up your pets.
Not everyone likes dogs, even if yours is the sweetest, cutest pooch in the world. And no one wants to smell or see a cat box when they walk into the guest room. If you don’t have anyone who can watch your pets during showings, pack ‘em up in the car with you. The momentary hassle will be worth it.

9. Paint the walls…and the trim.
It’s the quickest and easiest way to make an impact in a home, and it’s something you can do yourself if you don’t want to pay a professional.

10. Get new faucets.
This simple fix can breathe new life into kitchens and bathrooms, making old sinks and vanities look updated.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Spring is Here! Prepare your Home for Showing


Spring is here, and for some of us, that means spring cleaning as well. If you’re preparing your home for sale, it’s even more important. Depending on your habits, the job could be either big or small. Below are a few tips that will help you with your spring cleaning, or any time of year.

Did you know that the kitchen sink can contain more bacteria than a toilet seat? If you’ve ever noticed a smell coming from the disposal, it’s usually because the bacteria have taken over. Disinfecting the sink every few weeks can help keep things clean and sanitary all year-round. Store-bought disinfectants are great, but if you still notice an odd smell, try cutting up a lemon and putting it down there. Turn on the disposal and let it run until everything’s been eviscerated.

While you’re in the kitchen, why not tackle the dishwasher? Put a little baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe all around the edges to remove stuck on food. Run a cycle with your dishwasher empty using cleaner that kills E. coli, or even bleach.

Take a look inside your oven. Do you see anything on the bottom? Often times, juices and the burned remnants of meals-gone-by will find their way to the bottom of the oven and leave tough stains. Oven cleaner will usually work to get the stains off, but if you want to avoid the problem altogether, why not try a non-stick oven liner? They’re inexpensive whenever they get dirty, just run them through the dishwasher.
Cleaning the home can be a big job, but it doesn’t have to be all done at once. Take it one room at a time and keep on plugging; you’ll be done in no time!
Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

What’s That Smell?


Have you ever been to someone’s home and noticed a strong odor every time they opened the refrigerator? Maybe you’ve noticed this in your own home. Worse yet–maybe you noticed it even when the refrigerator is closed.

This problem often begins when the power goes out, or when the refrigerator is accidentally left open for a prolonged period of time. Odors also become strong and unpleasant when liquids (such as juices from uncooked meat) leak out and get into hard-to-clean areas.

When most people notice foul odors emanating from their fridge, their first thought is to empty it out and use a disinfecting cleaner on the inside, hoping to eradicate the smell. Unfortunately, some people often stop right there.

Using a disinfectant to clean the fridge is appropriate, but you also need to make sure to get all the little hard to reach areas. If possible, try to remove the shelves and scour all the grooves. Also, thoroughly clean the rubber seal around both doors. Bacteria and debris love to hide in there, and if it isn’t properly cleaned, mold and mildew can easily grow.

Once the entire appliance has been thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom, place newspaper on the shelves and charcoal briquettes in the drawers to absorb odors. Replace the newspapers and charcoals daily until the smell is completely gone.

Food odors will turn guests off. Unfortunately we become accustomed to the smells in our own homes and won’t even know when they’re lurking around. The tips above will help ensure a sweet smelling house.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Don’t Wait till Spring to Clean!


Upkeep of your home is a year-round job, and if you haven’t been as diligent with housecleaning as you’d like to have been, there’s no better time to start than NOW–especially if you’re planning to sell your home soon.

One common issue I’ve encountered among homeowners I’ve worked with has been a sticking door. A door that sticks is likely not a deal-breaker, but it can be irritating. The good news is that it’s an easy fix. You won’t need a handyman. You can do yourself.

First, if you’re not sure which part of the door is sticking to the frame when you open or close it, apply colored chalk to the inside of the door casing and close the door. When you open it again, each section of the door making contact with the frame will have colored chalk on it.

Next, using either sandpaper or a rotary tool, begin sanding the area(s) of the door where you see the colored chalk. It shouldn’t take too long to sand the problem area down, so make sure to check frequently.

The job shouldn’t take much longer than 10 minutes from start to finish. your sticking door will open wide to receive visitors on Open House Day; and you’ll have plenty of time left to give your house a good once-over.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

An Offer Isn’t an Insult


Recently I saw a blog on Active Rain title ‘An Offer is Not An Insult’. I tend to agree with that.

When buyers especially submit an offer in writing, and customarily also submit their proof of funds for the down payment, and a pre-qualification letter, it’s usually very serious that they want to start negotiations on a home. Just like you I watch all the HGTV/Bravo shows (many of the agents on there I know professionally or have met, and speaking from experience what you see on TV ain’t necessarily real life here…) I see all the hullybaloo over all the people who are grossly offended by what they consider ‘low’ offers and urge their (TV) agents to go back and ‘play hard ball’ with the buyers. But let’s stop and think….and let me share with you sage advice my Dad always told me….”It’s only worth what someone will pay you for it.”
Most often its a start to negotiations-in my past I have had clients go back & forth so much to sweat out some small minituae of detail to feel like they have ‘won’ over the other side. But truly in negotiation you have to realize that both parties have to feel they won in the deal, and as I got older I learned alot of this was just plain old EGO getting in the way. I wished I had learned that lesson early on…but still grateful that I did learn it. The negotiations don’t stop there….there can be further negotiations over repairs and even appraisals. I once got a $40,000 reduction in price when a large ranch property was determined to have needed a brand new septic system-a very costly expense a buyer isn’t likely to want to spend. Carpet paint and all the things that are tangible are easier for a buyer to swallow then a subterrean problem or a system replacement.

Years ago when I worked with a REO agent (a broker who is hired by the banks to sell Bank Owned foreclosed properties) we often encouraged the buyer’s agents to submit ANY offer; we felt that if the banks (sometimes) had over priced the home in our market we could use those as collateral to get a price reduction. This was often true. Again, the buyer’s are willing to pay for something they feel is fair market value….its only worth what someone will pay you for it!

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Always get a Home Inspection!


When you buy a Santa Clarita home, you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Imagine how frustrated you’d be to find out that the hot water heater wasn’t working—in the middle of a shower! This is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home. A home inspection is an important part of buying your home. Before you hire a home inspector, ask candidates a few questions to make sure you hire a trustworthy inspector.

Recently I heard about a buyer, during a heated real estate transaction negotiation, waive their rights to a home inspection. Sure enough soon after escrow closed the buyers noticed some issues that would have shown up had they hired a professional inspection. And they didn’t have a leg to stand on legally by waiving their rights prior to closing.

What does your inspection cover? Not all inspections are the same. Ask for copies of previous home inspections so you can see exactly what they will check inside the [city] home. If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.

Are you licensed or certified? If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors. This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.

What kind of report will you give me? You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection. Make sure the inspector will be available to explain anything on the report that doesn’t make sense to you.

Will I be able to attend the inspection? If the inspector refuses to let you be present during the home inspection, find someone else. This is your chance to know exactly what you are buying and what potential repairs you or the seller will have to make.

As your real estate agent, I will guide you through the home buying process. Let me help you find your new Santa Clarita home. Call me today at 661.733.4555 or email me at tripp@trippjones.net

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Let me tell you about…Mello Roos….

This is a question I get asked, alot, especially from: 1) First time home buyers and 2) buyers NOT from California. Now, like most of you, I would try to circumvent a buyer from buying in a Santa Clarita Mello Roos district because I also couldn’t understand WHY would anyone want to pay MORE to live in a similar Santa Clarita community. I’ve had a 360 degree turnaround since. Let me tell you why.

First…..The term Mello-Roos derived from the names of its co-authors, Senator Henry Mello & Mike Roos. It’s also known by the term Community Facilities District Act (CFD). The CFD started when people in California voted for Proposition 13 in 1978 to limit property taxation. Therefore, new initiatives were considered to finance public constructions and improvements. In 1982, the California State Legislature made Mello-Roos legitimate. But, we didn’t see it commonly until the building of the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood in the late 1980’s. Bonds are issued to help fund the community infrastructure (such as: police services, schools, roads, ambulance and fire protection services, utility connection, sewer lines, and streetlights). Once Mello-Roos is established, residents must repay them in order to fund ongoing projects. A special tax is assessed to the homeowners as the repayment method and levied yearly. When you get a property tax bill, you will see near the bottom the break down and a “CFD” which is the Mello Roos amount.

  • -Advantages of a Mello-Roos: New schools, parks, recreation centers, and more can be built and funded using the revenue generated from the Mello-Roos income. And more housing inventory will be created when undeveloped locations are built up.
  • -Disadvantage of a Mello-Roos: Housing cost may be increased because of the tax, possibly limiting the amount of prospective buyers when it comes time for resale.
  • -How Long Does Mello-Roos Typically Last? The length of time varies. 15-25 years from the original build date is somewhat common. Rarely does it extend beyond 30 years.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Ideas for Your Kitchen – San Fernando Valley – Santa Clarita


The Kitchen is one the most used rooms in the house and it is also one of the most neglected, so why not give it a little attention this Spring? This is especially important if you’re preparing your home to sell. It doesn’t matter if you’re located in the San Fernando Valley or the Santa Clarita Valley, updating the kitchen is always a good idea when preparing to show the home to prospective buyers.
Try covering up last year’s fry-up-gone-bad with a nice slick coat of coat of paint. If you can’t afford to replace old cabinet doors, simply replacing the door knobs can give them a new spring in their step! Add more light to your kitchen with new lampshades and perhaps under cabinet lighting. Shopping for new utensils and replacing tea stained dish towels is always a good idea and the easiest to do. If you don’t have the budget, add a vase of fresh flowers, a bowl of fruit and voila! Your kitchen has sprung!

If considering selling your home, it’s important to use caution before investing money in home improvements. Even though it’s important homes show nicely to prospective Valley home buyers, home values will always be largely determined by location. If you are having mortgage problems and considering short selling your home, all traditional rules go out the window. Be 100% sure to consult with your real estate short sale expert before doing anything, and the sooner the better.

As an experienced Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valley Realtor, I believe it’s critical homeowners consult with their real estate professional before moving forward with their home improvements. Your realtor will know what updates will return the best values and it may be best to skip the improvement completely. If a homeowner spends $5,000 to improve their kitchen, but it only results in a $1000 added home value, it might not be a good decision to move forward. At the same time, if it’s necessary to improve the chances of a quick sale, it may be worth it!

In closing, making the decision to move forward with improvements is not always as clear cut as one might think. That’s why we always advise speaking with your real estate professional in advance. Please feel free to contact me, Tripp Jones, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292