Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11

Staging Your Home on a Budget

by The Hat Team

Chances are, if you are getting ready to sell your home, you are also preparing to purchase a new home. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on your current property.  However, you certainly want to get the best price possible when selling it, and per the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. As you can see, it will pay off in the end to stage your home to entice potential buyers.

Some people will hire a certified staging professional to get the job done.  While it might seem easier than doing it yourself, it is not the only way to get that SOLD sign planted in your front yard.  There are some simple, yet effective home-staging hacks that won’t break the bank:

  • Roll Out a Welcome Mat - Sounds simple, right?  It is!  First impressions mean everything when selling your home.  Also, prospective buyers tend to linger by the front door before the real estate agent opens the home for viewing, so an inviting entrance is crucial. A new welcome mat can cost as little as $15.  Purchase a modern mat that compliments the style of your home.  To further enhance the entryway, add a little green with some fresh plants.  An enticing entrance will make buyers want to see more!
  • Mount Mirrors in Strategic Spots - Every home has spaces like a dim hallway or small space that lacks natural light.  To spruce up these areas, hang a few mirrors.  They add extra light to rooms that look dark, and create an illusion of space. They will pack an extra punch if placed next to or directly across from a window because they will pull in more sun.  For a more decorative look, create a collage of several mini mirrors in different shapes and sizes rather than just slapping one large mirror on the wall. You can find inexpensive mirrors at craft stores and discount home stores. How to Use Mirrors to Create More Space
  • Set Tables and Serving Areas for Entertaining - A home filled with friends, food and laughter is a happy one!  Paint a picture of what entertaining in your home will be like for potential buyers.  Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing.  Lay out cloth napkins, wine glasses and solid plates in the dining room. Use matching mugs and bowls in the kitchen to produce the feel of family meals.
  • Replace Personal Photos with Art Work - Over the years, you have turned your house into a home by decorating with family portraits and personal mementos.  But potential buyers are going to want to be able to envision themselves living there and that is hard to do with your family members present in the form of pictures in every room.  So, get a head start on packing up your house by putting your pictures away and replacing them with art work that compliments the style of the home.  You can find inexpensive art at discount stores or you can print beautiful landscape photos to put in frames.
  • Make the Bathroom Look Elegant with White Linens - Spruce up your bathroom with crisp, fresh, all-white linens.  White towels, bath mats, and shower curtains give the room an instant update.  They inspire the feeling of a luxury spa without spending a lot of money.  Take it a step further by including some "spa like" displays. Simple additions like an orchid, candles and special soaps will go a long way. Spa-Like Bathrooms
  • Arrange Decorative Scenes - Decorative displays can give a cozy, lived-in ambience to a house.  Assembling classy vignettes of colorful vases, lanterns, books, plants, baskets, and other items atop dressers, counters and bookshelves will make a house feel more like a home. Group items in odd numbers and in varying heights and shapes while keeping them in the same color family. You will be amazed at what you can find to use in your house, but if you need to buy some things, you can mix in inexpensive pieces from craft and discount stores.  Done properly, these displays will have people feeling like they are looking at rooms right out of home décor magazines…and that is a sure way to impress prospective buyers. Staging Your Home with Inexpensive Decor

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit:

A Guide to Selling with Children in the House

by The Hat Team

Selling a home can be challenging.  There are so many things to consider. Between scheduling last minute showings and keeping your house in "staged-perfect condition" at all times, the stress can be overwhelming.  Now toss in a kid…or two…or three. Summer is almost here and that means kids won’t be in school, which makes keeping your home in pristine, “show-ready” shape is all the more difficult.  So, how do you cope with it all?  First, take a deep, cleansing breath.  Now…follow the advice of people who have been there, done that.  You CAN do this!

  • Make packing and moving an adventure! Once your house is on the market you know you are going to be preparing for a move eventually, so start right away.  Give your children little projects to complete to keep them busy and to make them feel like they are part of the process.  You would be amazed at how much help they can be if given the chance.
  • Have a “go-and-show” plan.  You want to take every opportunity possible to show your house, so prepare and be ready to head out the door if you get that last-minute call from your Realtor.  Have a list of “things to do” in mind so that you aren’t just killing time while you wait.
  • Remember that less is more.  One of the jobs you can give to your children is to choose the toys and other items that are most special to them to keep in their rooms while preparing to move.  The rest should be packed and stored out of the way.  Remember that visitors will likely look in closets and open drawers, so make sure you have smart storage solutions. 25 Super Smart Storage Ideas That Will Organize Your Entire House
  • Don’t forget to flush!  We all know that children, especially younger ones, can be a little absent minded when it comes to their toileting habits.  Assign someone to be in charge of checking all the bathrooms prior to leaving the house just to be sure everything has been flushed away!
  • Do a sniff test.  Let’s face it…kids can stink sometimes.  Summertime is a prime time for sweaty, smelly children who might not be as concerned with personal hygiene as they should be.  The odors emanating from them are NOT the first impression you want to make on potential buyers.  So be hyper aware of how your home, and especially their rooms, smells.
  • Stay neutral. If you have decorated your little ones’ rooms with bright colors and specific themes, you may want to change it up to appeal to buyers.  Remember that they want to be able to picture the house as their own, and that is easier to do with rooms that have neutral colors and simple décor. The Best Paint Colors for Painting a House in 2019
  • Relax.  I know…easier said than done.  But your house does not have to be perfect every second.  Try to keep up with clutter and cleanliness a little each day so that you don’t become overwhelmed when you find out someone is coming to see your house.  And remember to let your children help!

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit:

Your Guide to a Successful Home Showing

by The Hat Team

When your home is for sale and potential buyers are coming to see it, it’s vital that they not only feel comfortable in the home, but that they can envision it as their own. Here are some tips for showing your house that will help engage buyers emotionally and leave them feeling like they have found their future home.

  1. Make them feel WELCOME!

      The buyer may be a guest in your home, but don’t make them feel like an intruder.The idea is for them to be able to imagine it as their own.Leave the house while they are looking so that they can speak freely and comfortably about what they are seeing.Let them take their time. If they feel rushed they won’t have a positive experience.Leave a bowl of candy or small treats near the front door with a short note thanking them for coming to see your home.

  1. Check the temperature.

      If it is hot outside, turn on the AC. Set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler than usual so that it runs consistently and isn’t kicking on and off while people are looking.Sometimes HVAC systems can be loud.The same applies with heat when it is cold outside (set temp a couple of degrees warmer than usual).You want them to be comfortable in your house so that they will linger as long as possible.

  1. Create a mood.

     You want potential buyers to get good vibes from your house the minute they walk through the door.When weather appropriate, light a fire in the fireplace.Set your dining table in a way that is appealing.Have soft music playing.Create and ambiance that is irresistible!

  1. Be careful with scents.

      Some people are very sensitive to certain smells, so don’t spray the air or use plug in deodorizers.Avoid burning strongly scented candles for the same reason.If weather permits, open the windows (unless it is too noisy outdoors).Most people enjoy the smell of freshly baked cookies, but if you are going to bake, make sure you leave some treats out for the visitors so they aren’t disappointed! How to Make Your Home Smell Great During an Open House

  1. Make it visually pleasing.

      Open window coverings to let in natural light.Display appealing seasonal photos in prominent      places. If your yard isn’t looking so fabulous, keep window blinds partially closed so that buyers aren’t distracted by what’s outside while looking at the interior of the home.

  1. Light it up!

Turn on every light in the house…even the closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with extra lighting.  A spot light on the floor behind a piece of furniture is a great idea for brightening up a room with few windows.  Lighting Tips to Help Sell Your Home

  1. Encourage touching.

Drape lush fabrics such as velvet or silk throws over chair arms.  Leave doors slightly ajar so that visitors feel welcome but must open the door to enter the room.  If a room is carpeted, vacuum it in one direction.

  1. Finish off with food.

Encourage buyers to stick around and notice even more details about your home by offering them food.  You don’t need to have a catered lunch; finger sandwiches, cookies, tea, water and desserts will all suffice. Be sure to have serving utensils, plates, cups and silverware available along with a waste basket in plain sight.

  1. Encourage feedback.

Have a guestbook or a short pre-printed questionnaire and some pens next to the food.  Feeding the buyers will allow them time to give you some feedback.  This will provide invaluable information to you. Allow buyer anonymity. 6 Feedback Questions Every Listing Agent Should Ask

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Things to Hide When Selling Your Home

by The Hat Team


If you are currently trying to sell your home, you need to make sure you are doing all that you can do to make the sale a priority.  There are many things that people tend to leave out during a home showing that should definitely not ever be seen by a prospective buyer.  Below is a list of a few things you should totally hide when in the process of selling your home

  1. Taxidermy is awesome to avid hunters and their wives but when someone is coming to view your home, you don’t want to leave it out.  Dead animals hanging on the walls of your home are not what folks typically have in mind when coming to look at a potential home.  You don’t have to get rid of your taxidermy obviously but perhaps take it off of your walls and gently place them in the closet until after the showing.
  2. Another thing that you should likely hide when folks come over to your home to take a tour of it in the hopes of buying it from you is your shotguns and other weapons that you may use.  This type of thing being displayed throughout the house is likely to scare any potential buyers away in a hurry.  Do your part by placing these items out of sight during a showing. 
  3. If you collect dolls or anything that can be seen as creepy in any way, put them away until after the showing.  Better yet, put them away until after your house sells.  Collections may not only be creepy to others but they tend to collect dust as well and don’t look nice during a showing. 
  4. If you have political signs in your yard, especially right now and you want to sell your house, by all means take them down!  This election was a big one and folks have very big opinions about who should be elected.  Seeing a sign in your yard for the opposite candidate that your potential buyer wants may actually lose you an offer even before the folks make in inside of your house to look around. 
  5. If you have a ton of family photos around your house, you may want to hide them during a showing as well if selling your house is your top priority.   Folks want to picture themselves in your house and having your family pictures all over the place can make that task more difficult.  


Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.   

What to Renovate When Selling Your Home

by The Hat Team

Renovate your home to sell.

It can be hard to set a budget and stick to it when it comes to renovating your home. If you are planning on selling your home soon, you should go ahead and do a few renovations that may need to be done but do the ones that don’t cost a lot of money. Of course if your home has some issues and you feel you can get a lot more money out of your home if you make those renovations now, you may want to go ahead and do so. Below are a few tips on what exactly you should consider when renovating your home to prepare it for sale.

  • One of the best ways to prepare your home to sell is by renovating your walls and floors.  You can add paint to the walls of your home for a quick “pick me up” that will help your home appear newer than it is.  Refinishing hardwood floors or pulling up carpet to reveal hardwoods is also a great way to spruce things up around your home.  Be sure if you are painting to do so with neutral colors that will be pleasing to everyone’s pallet.  Likewise if you are putting down carpet, be sure to choose a neutral color.  If you are refinishing hardwoods, be sure to stay away from any dark stains that may turn some buyers away.  Stick with the natural light wood floors that seem to be so popular these days. ‚Äč
  • Doors are another place you may want to consider during your home renovations.  Replacing your front door with a steel door adds a great deal of value to your home.  Adding some new garage doors may help to add value as well.   Keep in mind you don’t have to spend a ton on these types of things, just replacing old with new will likely be enough.
  • If you don’t have the money to redo your entire kitchen, try upgrading by replacing old worn out drawer pulls or cabinet knobs.  You may also want to put a little paint on your old cabinets to lighten and brighten things up a bit.  Keep in mind if money is not an issue that kitchen renovations  can sometimes make or break the sale of your home.  If you need to” bling it out” and you have the funds to do it, go for it. 

Any and all renovations you do to your home in an effort to get more money out if it during a potential sale is a good thing.  Don’t go crazy spending a lot of money for cosmetic fixes but ‘DO’ do your best to make your home look like a shiny new penny!

Courtesy of Montgomery AL Real Estate Expert Sandra Nickel.

5 Tips for Selling Your Home This Spring

by The Hat Team

Selling your home can be as easy as one, two, three!  Here we are going to give you a few tips and ideas to make selling your home a bit easier this spring.  If you are willing to take these tips and tricks to heart and do your part to do them to the best of your ability, you will likely reap the rewards of doing so.  Get ready to sell your home this year and move on to your dream home!

  1. sold signMake sure that you have done your part to make the outside of your home look nice.   A fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home.   You can do this yourself or you can hire a professional painter to speed the painting process along. Choose a color that will make your home stand out but also be sure that you choose a color that is neutral and that most people are going to like. 
  2. Take the plunge and purchase new carpet for your house. If selling your home is important to you, you are going to do what it takes to get it sold for the price you want sold for.  If you are blessed enough to live in an older home that has beautiful hardwoods under the old carpet, you might be able to just pull the old carpet up and expose the nice hardwoods.  It may take a bit of work to get the hardwoods up to par, but this kind of flooring can be a huge plus towards selling your home if you happen to already have it under your carpet.
  3. Wallpaper is outdated so keep that in mind when you are getting ready to sell your home.  Go ahead and take down all the wallpaper so that you can paint with a nice neutral color that will be pleasing to anyone’s eye. 
  4. If you have pets in your home, do your best to remove all of their belongings before a showing.  People do not want to see the home as yours, they want to see and envision themselves living in the house and having your pet’s belongings all over the house will not help them to achieve that goal.   If your buyer can see themselves living in your house they are more likely to purchase it.
  5. Replace all of your lights with high wattage bulbs.  The brighter the better when you are trying to sell your home!  You want your home to pop and grab folk’s attention and this little trick will do just that for you! 

As I said, if you are willing to put forth a bit of extra effort with the above tips and ideas when it comes to selling your house, you will soon find that your house may sell before all the others in your neighborhood! 

Information courtesy of Montgomery Realtor Sandra Nickel.

6 Tips For a Quick Home Sale

by The Hat Team

If you're looking to sell your Montgomery AL home in today’s real estate market, you have most likely already read numerous articles advising you to set a realistic price, pay attention to curb appeal, thoroughly clean and de-clutter, remove large pieces of furniture, repaint in neutral colors, remove personal mementos, and the like.  All of this information is valid and useful, but there are other, less-publicized ways to appeal to potential buyers.  Read on for some creative tips on how to generate interest and get the best price possible.

  1. house soldArrange for a pre-listing home inspection.  In addition to facilitating the sale of your home by reassuring potential buyers, an inspection helps you comply with full-disclosure real estate laws.  You can also have a termite inspection done.
  2. Use online venues and your personal networks to market your house.  Put an ad on Craigslist, use sites like or, get your own URL with the house’s address, promote the house through social media like Facebook and Twitter, and send out a copy of your listing to people on your email list.  Sometimes word of mouth is one of the best ways to market a house.
  3. Replace all brass fixtures.  Today’s buyers dislike this “cheap” look that may have been fashionable a couple of decades ago, but it has to go if it’s in your home today.  Switch out each light fixture, switch plate, door hinge, knob, and faucet with for ones with a modern oil-rubbed bronze or nickel finish.
  4. Add power outlets with USB ports in rooms that lack them, especially in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms where they’re most needed.  Also, find a place for a wireless router for use with the Internet and flat-screen TVs.
  5. Offer more unusual incentives.  Paying a buyer’s closing costs, taking care of HOA fees for the first year,  giving a “redecorating” credit, or providing a home warranty for a set time period have become almost expected perks, but you can consider landscaping services, personalized gift certificates (home supply store or a plant nursery, e.g.) or a flexible closing date.
  6. For equally effective, but more expensive buyer magnets, look into outfitting closets for extra storage (top contenders are an entry closet, a kitchen pantry, and a linen closet) or removing much-maligned “popcorn” ceilings.  Click here for DIY instructions or get estimates from a professional.

Selling this spring? Click here for Questions To Ask Before Listing!

Sandra Nickel and the Hat Team have distinguished themselves as leaders in the Montgomery AL real estate market. Sandra assists buyers looking for Montgomery real estate for sale and aggressively markets Montgomery AL homes for sale. Sandra is also an expert in helping families avoid foreclosure through short sales and is committed to helping families in financial hardship find options. For more information you can visit

Interested in buying a bank-owned home? Get bank-owned listings alerts FREE!

You can reach Sandra by filling out the online contact form below or give her a call anytime.


Natural Ways to Deodorize When Selling Your Montgomery AL Home!

by The Hat Team

Every article, video, and home-themed television show which deals with selling your Montgomery AL home will contain oodles of information/suggestions/tips/hints/advice on how best to achieve your goal in a short period of time.  You already know that in a buyer’s market, potential purchasers can afford to be picky and that sometimes even a small “defect” can become a deal breaker, so you dutifully heed instructions to de-clutter, de-personalize, and de-emphasize anything that could be perceived as a negative.  You even bake cookies before an open house to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere!

clean houseBut….are you aware of the importance of eliminating, not just masking, all interior odors?  No, the answer is not to spray tropical-scented commercial products all around your Montgomery AL home, for that is only a temporary fix and may even provoke an allergic reaction from a potential buyer.  There are, however, natural solutions to persistent smells of all types.  Making your house smell spring-fresh is a great way to invoke the buying mood this year.

Besides opening windows and letting fresh air flow freely throughout your Montgomery AL home, there are many steps you can take to identify odor-prone areas and do away with the stench.  Read on:

  • Use fabric softener sheets in linen closets, vacuum bags, and pillowcases.
  • Take advantage of the fact that baking soda, unused coffee grounds, imitation vanilla, houseplants, tea tree oil, vinegar, cat litter, and a boiling of cinnamon and cloves absorb odors.
  • Understand that potential buyers will open drawers and closets, inspect the freezer and refrigerator, tour the basement, look carefully at bathroom and kitchen fixtures and appliances, and check out washers and dryers.
  • Treat your garbage disposal to rinds of citrus fruits every so often.
  • Fight the smell of tobacco smoke smell with gusto!   Place small bowls of pine-sol or baking soda in the affected areas to absorb the odor. Often a heavy duty cleaning and wall washing will be required to stop the odor once and for all.
  • Recognize the fact that erasing all pet odors is mandatory.  These are stubborn smells resulting from dander, bedding, and accidents, and they require diligence and sometimes even detective skills to find the source.  Click here for an effective (and eco-friendly) homemade urine stain and odor removal solution and procedure.

Rest assured that your fresh-smelling interior will appeal to potential buyers and hasten the sale of your Montgomery AL home!

Search all Montgomery AL Real Estate And Homes For Sale.

Sandra Nickel and the Hat Team have distinguished themselves as leaders in the Montgomery AL real estate market. Sandra assists buyers looking for Montgomery real estate for sale and aggressively markets Montgomery AL homes for sale. Sandra is also an expert in helping families avoid foreclosure through short sales and is committed to helping families in financial hardship find options. For more information you can visit

Interested in buying a bank-owned home? Get bank-owned listings alerts FREE!

You can reach Sandra by filling out the online contact form below or give her a call anytime.


Setting a Selling Price for Your Montgomery AL Home

by The Hat Team

dollar sign and question markUnfortunately, selling your Montgomery AL home in the current real estate market can be both difficult and frustrating.  As much value as you may feel your home has, the current conditions might say differently. In this buyer’s market, accurate pricing of your home is imperative in getting your property sold quickly and for the best price possible. While this might sound simple enough, correctly pricing your property is far from easy and is a decision which requires time and effort on your part.  The following tips should help make the pricing process a smooth and beneficial one for you.

  1. Do your research: It’s important to know other homes in your area are selling for right now in order to get an idea of a price point for your own property, but you shouldn’t rely on that alone. An Automated Valuation Model, better known as an AVM, is a web-based technology that immediately generates home values based on data analysis of recent area comparable sales, tax assessments and price trends.
  2. Find the right Realtor: Hiring the listing agent who quotes you the highest price isn’t always wise.  Interview at least 3 Realtors familiar with the area around your Montgomery AL home and choose the agent who supports a suggested price with comparative market data. It is the job of your Realtor to know the current market and market trends inside and out, to be closely connected to the real estate market at large, and to be aware of other properties currently for sale in your particular neighborhood..
  3. Cast emotions aside:   It’s important to remain as realistic and objective as possible when pricing your property. Although your home will most likely be invaluable to you, focus on the statistics from your research and on the advice given to you by your real estate agent for a satisfactory sale.
  4. Avoid overpricing at the outset.  Because your property has the best chance of selling within its first seven weeks on the market, the longer it stays on the market, the less it will ultimately sell for.  In addition, you will lose out on savvy potential buyers who won’t even come by to look, and fewer knowledgeable Realtors will preview your Montgomery AL home.  Lowering your price later will only result in delays and suspicions that something is wrong with the property.

Search all Montgomery AL Real Estate And Homes For Sale.

Sandra Nickel and the Hat Team have distinguished themselves as leaders in the Montgomery AL real estate market. Sandra assists buyers looking for Montgomery real estate for sale and aggressively markets Montgomery AL homes for sale. Sandra is also an expert in helping families avoid foreclosure through short sales and is committed to helping families in financial hardship find options. For more information you can visit

You can reach Sandra by filling out the online contact form below or give her a call anytime.

How To Make Your Montgomery Home Inviting To Buyers

by The Hat Team

Although the interior of your home may be lovely, you can’t use that fact to your advantage if potential buyers don’t come inside to see it. The majority of house shoppers are influenced by first impressions, and, according to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 50% of them make their decision about your Montgomery home before stepping through the door. Ensuring that prospective buyers will want to see more doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cost-prohibitive; there are numerous ways to strengthen your home’s curb appeal, to capture the interest of buyers, and most likely increase the selling value.

montgomery homeWhen selling your Montgomery home, appearances are important. The exterior of the house should be attractive and in good condition, and the well-maintained grounds should be pleasing to the eye. The first thing to do is to look at the exterior objectively. Assess the color scheme (siding, trim, brick, roof) and determine if the architectural features of your house are in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.

  • Perhaps the easiest way to boost curb appeal is to clean. Pressure wash to remove mold and mildew from siding, decks, walkways, and driveways. Make sure that your windows sparkle and remember to wash the screens. Gutters, too, may need cleaning--or replacing. Investigate snap-fit vinyl systems, decorative rain chains, or even a copper system for a high quality look.
  • Another way to generate interest in your Montgomery home is to pay attention to the grounds. Remove weeds, keep lawns mowed, and trim shrubs and trees. Add color by planting flowers and mulching (now available in a variety of colors) around plants and bushes. Prune areas which may appear overgrown or obscure architectural features which should be showcased and look at your landscaping design with a discerning eye.
  • Consider adding more trees--for three reasons. In addition to making the grounds more attractive, tree cover can also result in lower utility and water bills and increase your home’s selling value. Shop for trees which grow well in Montgomery, provide variety in color and texture (fruit trees, Japanese maple and birch trees, for example), and are water efficient. Most area nurseries will gladly offer expert advice in selecting trees to improve your landscape plan.
  • An inviting entrance will also impress buyers. Your front door may need repainting or replacing since it should be an attractive focal point of your property. Think about color and design as well as hardware when making improvements. Polish or replace knobs, knockers, doorbells, and kick plates. Purchase a distinctive welcome mat and investigate the need for outdoor lighting. Porch, garden, and walkway lights not only enhance the landscape’s appearance, they also help to provide safety and security (a good selling point!).
  • And finally, spruce up the front porch or landing. Brightly colored plant/flower containers and hanging baskets add pizazz, as do a freshly painted porch floor and outdoor furniture. An eye-catching entranceway certainly helps ensure that buyers will gladly accept your invitation to come inside your Montgomery home.

What's your Montgomery home worth?

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11




   cdpe    crsHat Lady on Zillow