Curb appeal is a big factor for home buyers. The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers will see when they come to a showing or open house, and you want to make a great first impression. And even if you’re not selling your home, these are low-cost, low-time investment fixes that can make a big difference.
Fix landscaping eyesores A brown, dead lawn—or an overgrown one—isn’t the best way to welcome buyers to your home. If your lawn is in need of repair, consider watering it regularly. If your grass is healthy, keep the lawn freshly mowed. An appealing lawn can be worth more than $1,500 in the final price of your home.
Shutters and siding It’s easy to let your exterior walls fall into disrepair, or even to let them get a little dirty. A good scrubbing or power washing can make your siding look brand new, and you can touch up any major issues with some paint. The same goes for your shutters.
Add some living accents So far we’ve covered fixing what’s broken. Next, it’s time to add a little personality. Planting flowers will add some much-needed color to an otherwise ordinary outdoor space. Potted plants will do the trick too, especially if you have a deck or patio that needs a little decorating.
Work on your walkway The path to your front door should be inviting. A stone walkway from the driveway instantly upgrades your curb appeal. And if you’ve already taken care of that part, tidy up by removing weeds and debris, and then line the walkway with some subtle lighting. It’ll make your home look cozy and appealing, day or night.
Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before. But that’s one of the reasons that working with a real estate professional is so worthwhile. With your agent’s guidance, buying a home should be enjoyable, rather than stressful. Here are some of the more unique circumstances where your agent can make your life much easier.
Out-of-town buyers: If you’re looking for a vacation home, or moving to a new city for work, there’s a good chance that viewing homes will be difficult—you could be a long drive or even a plane ride away. With today’s video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime, your agent can walk you through a property virtually. Although it’s not the same as walking through it in person, it will at least give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further.
When life is just too crazy: If you’re just getting too busy with everything else going on in your life, a good buyer’s agent should be able to recognize the situation, and help you take a step back. He/she can suggest that you take a few weeks off from your home search to recharge, or only focus on properties that exactly fit your wish list.
Inspection issues: You’re dreaming about move-in day! Then some unforeseen issues turn up during the inspection. A good agent can work out those issues by negotiating a lower offer—to cover costs of repairs—or by getting the seller to fix the problem(s).
Sometimes you need to keep a poker face when you’re buying a home. It’s not in your best interest to be totally candid with the seller and listing agent when you’re considering a home. Here a few things that are better left unsaid.
“This is at the top end of our budget”: Don’t let the listing agent know that a home is at the top of your budget. You want to keep all the bargaining chips you can, and letting the seller know your budget can hurt you when it comes time to negotiate.
“I hate the paint”: Or furniture. Or cabinets. Or any of the decor. No matter how hideous the wallpaper in the kitchen is, take care not to insult the seller’s taste. If they’re considering multiple offers, you don’t want to be the buyer that offended the seller!
“We can’t wait to renovate”: Customization is one of the big perks of homeownership, but it’s best to keep your renovation plans quiet for the moment. The seller may have a lot of memories in the home, and may not appreciate your plans to immediately tear down some walls.
Home inspection is an important part of the home sale process, both for buyers and sellers. When it’s time for you to hire an inspector, here are five things you should be thinking about:
1. It’s your choice: You are not bound or obligated to use any particular inspector. Your real estate professional should have some recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you. Ask around and choose wisely—better to pay a little more now for a highly-respected inspector than to be surprised by a problem that the inspection didn’t reveal!
2. Looking for big problems: The inspector will be focused on the integrity of the home—safety, electrical work, foundation, load-bearing walls, etc. The inspector is not there to point out problems with ugly paint colors or light fixtures.
3. The report: There are hundreds of items to inspect in a home, so the inspector’s report will focus on the basics: What’s damaged, what needs repair, etc. The report should be easy to read and understand. If there’s any confusion, speak with your agent for clarification!
4. Code of ethics: Though the inspector is working for the party that pays the inspector’s fee, the inspector will not deliver a report that intentionally hides or omits damaging information about the home. The report is private between you and the inspector, but if you’re the seller, you’re required to disclose any problems that the inspection reveals.
5. The inspector is not liable: Even the best inspectors can’t find every single problem in a home. They can’t see inside the walls or through the floors, so there could still be problems lurking. If a problem is revealed down the road, the inspector can’t be held responsible.
Millennials are the second-largest segment of home buyers, ranking behind only baby boomers, according to the National Association of Realtors. Here are five features that tend to entice millennials who are looking to buy.
An up-to-date kitchen and bath Younger buyers often have limited funds for renovations, so it’s important that they have functional and inviting bathroom and kitchen spaces from the very start.
An open floor plan Having a formal dining room isn’t of particular importance to millennials, in fact, many prefer open spaces with no separation between kitchen, living room, and dining room. An open concept makes it easier to entertain everyone at once.
An office More and more jobs are offering work-from-home options, and there are also plenty of freelancers and telecommuters among millennials. A dedicated space for getting some work done can be a key attraction.
Friendly location With gas prices rising, many millennials prefer walking, biking, or public transit for their commutes. A great location is key.
Energy savings Millennials are often more conscious of energy conservation and efficiency. Energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, and quality insulation can make a huge difference.
We’ve all watched the HGTV programs that show a run-down old house transforming into a dream home. Tackling a big renovation project on an outdated property can indeed pay off big—both with the home of your dreams, and with a return on investment. If resale value is a primary concern, consider these factors as you’re making your fixer-upper plans.
Is the price right? How much can you invest in a home beyond the sale price while staying in line with the value of homes in the neighborhood? You don’t want to improve a home to the point that it’s worth far more than the norm for the area. You’ll enjoy the property while you’re living there, but if you ever decide to sell, your ROI could be limited by the market value of nearby houses.
Low cost, instant equity There are a lot of low cost and DIY improvements that will add equity almost immediately, such as rehabbing the landscaping and adding fresh coats of paint. These improvements add value to the property almost instantly.
What’s worth spending on? A little elbow grease goes a long way, but there will inevitably be projects that require some serious spending. If you’re concerned with getting a return on your investment, focus your dollars toward the roof, floors, and the home’s exterior. They’re not flashy upgrades, but they’re important for future buyers. On the other hand, luxuries like a swimming pool are unlikely to see any return on investment.
Summer is here, so entertaining has made the move from the living room to the backyard. It’s the season for barbecues and campouts. Here are five ways to make sure your back yard is everyone’s favorite.
1. Make sure there’s a place to cook! The way to your guests’ hearts is through their stomachs. You could have something as simple as a charcoal grill or as elaborate as a fully-featured kitchen, but it‘s essential that you can prepare some food outdoors.
2. Lighting matters. At the very least you need enough lighting to keep the party going when the sun goes down. But for a back yard that really pops, add some decorative lighting to walkways, landscaping, or anything else worth highlighting.
3. Gather around the fire. This one’s a no brainer. Everyone loves a good place to make hot dogs and s’mores—just make sure you’re not violating any neighborhood ordinances.
4. Bring the beach to your backyard. A little water will make everything look better. It could be something as simple as fountain or as elaborate as a waterfall or fish pond.
5. Don’t forget the foliage. Trees, shrubs and flowers are all important for adding the finishing touches to your outdoor entertainment space. The trees and shrubs can provide some much-needed shade when the sun is out, and flowers add just the right amount of color.
It’s easy to overlook some of the things that can affect your budget and purchasing power when you’re considering a home, and one of the biggest factors that buyers overlook is the cost of their daily commute.
We’ve all heard that real estate is all about “location, location, location,” and properties in more desirable locations typically come with a higher price tag than similar properties that aren’t in a hot neighborhood.
Yet the overall cost of living for choosing one location over another might be negligible when you factor in the commuting costs that are required—gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance—if you purchase a home that is significantly further from your workplace. If your mortgage is $200 less per month, but you’re spending an extra $200 in commuting costs, are you really saving money?
Commuting costs aren’t just about the disposable income left in your bank account, either. It can even affect how much money you can borrow. If you’re a long-distance commuter, a loan officer may factor your travel costs into your debt-to-income ratio.
Aside from how commuting affects your purchasing power or disposable income, there’s also the question of how it affects your quality of life—no one wants to spend hours a week just getting to and from work.
It can be intimidating to stand in front of the paint swatches at the paint or hardware store and try to make a decision. Picking a color can be difficult enough—and then you have to choose the finish. Choosing the color is up to you, but here’s a simple guide to choosing the correct finish for your project.
High Gloss High gloss paint has the most sheen, and will be the most durable. That durability is best suited for the kitchen, on surfaces like cabinets, door frames, and window trim. It’s best to avoid using high gloss on walls, because it will be too reflective.
Semi-Gloss It’s not as shiny as high gloss, but it’s still great for kitchens and bathrooms, because the sheen protects from drips, splatters, and other moisture.
Satin Satin has a velvet-like look, but is still a durable finish, and works best in high-traffic areas. Be careful when applying, because satin paint will reveal sloppy brush strokes.
Eggshell and flat These finishes have the least amount of sheen, and are the least durable. They’re great for hiding imperfections in your walls, but the low durability means they should be avoided if the room is subject to wear and tear from kids or pets. Use these paints in dining rooms, bedrooms, and other low-traffic rooms.