Lettiann Southerland has two passions and as different as they may seem, they combine to help turn a “house” into a “home.” Her first passion is cooking and the family recipes that evoke memories of joyful times spent together with friends and family gathered for celebratory meals. Her other passion is real estate, more specifically helping people buy their ideal house or sell their current house so they can move to the next one that will become their home.
Southerland, who heads the Lettiann & Associates real estate team affiliated with Weichert Realtors Graham-Welch, moved to the Kansas City area from her native Pittsburgh, Penn., in 1992 and began her real estate career here. But she was homesick for her family in Pennsylvania that includes her parents, two brothers and large extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
She especially missed the Sunday gatherings that denoted her Italian heritage and included home-cooked meals using family recipes passed down through the generations. As a cure for her angst she started collecting the recipes that meant so much to her so she could share them with everyone in the family and with her friends.
“I love serving people and feeding people,” Southerland said. “I love gathering around the table while everyone enjoys freshly made food.”
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She knows such experiences transition a house into a home, which merges nicely with her other passion — real estate. Southerland finds satisfaction in helping people find their new home or sell their current one.
“I like finding people their perfect home, overcoming challenges along the way and negotiating,” she said. “Every transaction is different and it keeps real estate interesting. I love meeting people, serving others and that people put their trust in me for one of the biggest financial transactions of their lives.”
Southerland has now combined her two passions to write a book, “Homes that Cook: Best Kept Secrets for Buying, Selling and Creating a Home” (Indie Books International, 2015). It is filled with practical advice for homebuyers and home sellers, as well as cooking tips and the recipes Southerland has collected over the years. It is her hope that those recipes will help people turn their new house into a home.
She also encourages people to collect their own favorite recipes by including pages in the book for adding them.
Here are just 10 of tips from her book on selling a home:
1. Don’t attend your open house. Think back to when you were shopping for a house — would you have felt comfortable to speak your mind with the owner hovering? Give serious buyers room to have an honest conversation with each other and their agent without feeling the need to edit themselves.
2. Don’t pretend to be a buyer at your open house. This will likely backfire and you will drive away real potential buyers with this crazy behavior. If you feel like you need feedback, ask your agent to tell you the useful comments from the open house.
3. Provide attractions not distractions. You want to showcase your home and appeal to buyers, but go too far and you could detract. There is nothing wrong with providing cool drinks on a hot day to make buyers more comfortable — it could motivate them to stay longer and see more of the house.
4. Consider seasonal preferences. While preparing your property and taking steps to market it to potential buyers, consider what seasonal aspects will be appealing while you are selling it. A roaring fire in winter or beautiful spring blooms may help you get a better offer.
5. Provide full access to the property. You want to be sure buyers can view your whole property when they visit. Unless there is a safety issue, you should not make any rooms, closets or areas off limits. It is called an open house, after all.
6. Hold your open house during common times. If at all possible, schedule your open house at the same time as others in the area. Potential buyers often spend a few hours on Sundays and want to maximize their time and see multiple properties while they are out. Though it may be more convenient for you to do it another time, you may limit the number of people who can attend.
7. Don’t neglect the neighbors. Your neighbors are good assets — they may know people who want to live in the neighborhood and can tell their friends about your property. Invite them to your open houses and offer fliers they can pass along.
8. Price it right. How do you know what to set for the price? Have it evaluated by an appraiser for its value, then lower that number by 15 to 20 percent. This may sound counter intuitive, but this will likely cause a bidding war between potential buyers that may drive the price up even higher than it’s worth.
9. Make sure your closets are half-empty. You know that buyers like to look in every door, so you must always keep closets and cabinets clean and organized. But a great tip is to take half of your things out of the closets and make what is left extremely neat.
10. Maximize the light in your home. A bright and cheery house is more salable. Do whatever you can to increase the light, including removing drapes, cleaning windows and changing to higher wattage light bulbs.
Southerland is a member of the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, the Missouri Real Estate Commission, and the Kansas Real Estate Commission.
Homes That Cook
Order: To order a copy of “Homes That Cook” visit HomesThatCook.com.