It’s official – you really are selling your home and moving away!
As anybody who has ever sold a home knows quite well, it takes a lot more than sticking a For Sale sign in the front yard and hoping that potential buyers will love it as much as you did.
In order to get the best price for your home and pique the interest (and bidding power) of buyers, you need to take some time to stage your home so that it looks and smells – yes, smells – terrific, inviting, and worth every dollar of your asking price.
The following four tips can help home sellers effectively and attractively stage their home:
1. Consider new window treatments
Take a look at the various window coverings in your home and ask yourself if they look new, clean, and in excellent condition.
If the answer to any of these questions is an honest “no,” then consider getting some new window treatments. Home window treatments are available in a variety of textures and colors, and can make a huge difference in the quality of light that enters a room.
Photo by PoshSurfside.com via Flickr
2. Upgrade your tile with paint
As HGTV notes, bathrooms have been known to help sell a home, but old and shabby tile will definitely steer potential buyers away faster than you can say “avocado and almond tile.” Because replacing tile can be on the costly side, sellers can repaint them. After coating the tiles with a primer (be sure you purchase one that is marked “high adhesion”), paint the tiles with a ceramic epoxy coating. This relatively easy and low-cost job can really help update the look of the bathroom without having to spend a ton of money on new tile.
3. Tone down an old fireplace
Sure, that brick fireplace in the living or family room looks great during the holidays when it’s festooned with stockings and the various trimmings of the season, but the rest of the year it really doesn’t do much for the look of the room. To lessen its visual impact, try adding a thin coat of paint to the bricks. In order to avoid the mortar, you do have to paint one brick at a time, which can be time-consuming. But the pay-off of painting your fireplace is well worth your patience when you have a new neutral focal point in your room. One additional tip: to make sure the fireplace blends in as much as possible, choose a color that closely matches the surrounding walls.
Photo by dusty! via Flickr
4. Simmer some apples
Nothing will turn off home buyers faster than a musty, moldy, smoky, and/or any other type of undesirable smell. Even the cleanest home can often benefit from the addition of a nice aroma. Shortly before your open house, place some sliced apples and cinnamon sticks in a sauce pan on the stove, and let them simmer. The delicious smell will be sure to tempt potential buyers to spend even more time—and hopefully money—on your home.
Take a look under your house. Damp, dangling insulation is a sure sign of outdated or shoddy installation. If your house was built before energy-conserving building codes were standardized in 1990, you may find no insulation at all. The U.S. Dept. of Energy currently recommends insulation with an R-value of at least R-9 in floors.
To keep things cozy underfoot, you’ll need to select the right insulation approach for your local climate. Winter temperature is the continental divide:
- In moderate or dry climates without the threat of sustained subfreezing temperatures, insulation between floor joists makes sense.
- Where winter temperatures are extreme, opt for insulating the walls and sealing off the crawl space entirely.
Pantone has crowned “Radiant Orchid” as the “2014 Color of the Year.” Pantone calls this attention-getting hue a “captivating, magical, enigmatic purple” that is expected to catch on in everything from home interiors, accent pieces, and accessories to clothing lines in 2014.
“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple, and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love, and health,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”
Pantone says the color complements olive and deeper hunter greens as well as makes a great combo when paired with turquoise, teal, and light yellows. It can also help liven up neutrals, such as gray, beige, and taupe.
Radiant Orchid will replace the 2013 color of the year, Emerald.
Mulch With Needles: Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, making them an excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on.
Create a Bird Sanctuary: Place your tree in its stand outdoors. Fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated with peanut butter.
Insulate Perennials: Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow and reduce frost heaving.
Edge Your Borders: Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.
Shelter Fish: If you live near a lake or have a pond, and your tree’s chemical-free, toss branches into the water to provide sheltering habitat for overwintering fish. (Get permission from town officials if needed.)
Set a Stage for Containers: Saw the trunk into different lengths and use the pieces as flowerpot risers for a dramatic group display.
Make Coasters and Trivets: Cut thin slabs off the trunk, sand them smooth, and apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep the sap off tables and glassware.
Chip It: Rent a chipper (get a few neighbors together to split the cost) and feed the tree through it. Next spring, spread the wood chips under shrubs; they’ll suppress weeds and, as they decompose, add nutrients to the soil.
Feed a Fire Pit: It’s fine to use a few of the quick-to-ignite branches to start an outdoor fire pit—but never in an indoor fireplace, where creosote build-up is a hazard.
Stake Your Plants: Strip small branches and use the remaining twigs to support indoor potted plants or stake leggy seedlings.
As the baby boom generation faces the challenges of retiring and caring for their aging parents, a new real estate buzzword has emerged: multi-generational living. Technically, any home with parents and kids under one roof is a multi-generational home. But in this case, we’re talking about parents who move in with their adult children.
On paper, multi-generational homes provide solutions to several problems. Parents no longer have to maintain a large home or live on their own if their spouse has passed away. They can save money by avoiding a nursing home or assisted living facility, and their children have peace of mind knowing their parents have the best caregivers—themselves.
In reality, however, two generations in one home can feel cramped, and the loss of privacy can wear on the best of relationships. An in-law suite addition can remedy both issues, but homeowners need to understand how this addition will affect the value of their homes.
New Space Means Big Expense
An in-law suite addition is a major investment in your home. According to Remodeling magazine’s Cost Value Report for 2013, a master suite addition averages nearly $102,000. That’s a basic, 384 square-foot addition that includes a bedroom, bathroom and walk-in closet.
The estimate for a larger, 640 square-foot addition with upscale finishes and a “hospitality center” that includes an under-counter refrigerator and microwave will cost more than $220,000. Neither option includes a kitchenette.
It’s also important to make the new space suitable for older residents. For example, the entrance, interior doorways and bathroom need to be wheelchair accessible.
Selling Feature or Flop?
An in-law suite addition will add value to your home, but probably not enough to cover its full cost. Remodeling magazine estimates homeowners could recoup up to 63% of the cost of their master suite addition when they sell their home.
As with any remodeling project, you must be careful about over-improving your home compared to other homes in your neighborhood. An in-law suite addition can easily cause your home to be the most expensive on the block—and that could make it more difficult to sell.
On the other hand, buyers who are looking for extra space don’t have many homes to choose from, so the right buyer could be willing to pay more for a ready-made in-law suite.
In the end, adding a space for your parents to live comfortably with you isn’t just a dollars-and-cents decision. It may be the right thing to do regardless of how it will affect the value of your home—but that’s a decision only your family can make.
Consult an Agent for Advice You Can Trust
Remember, every real estate market is different. Talk to an agent with experience in your local market to find out what buyers in your area think about in-law suites. That way you won’t be surprised when it’s time to sell your home.
Ah. The sound of a gently crackling fire. The aroma of cinnamon. It’s an idyllic Fall. The taste of warm apple cider. The melodic sound of rain on the roof. The arrival of spiders and stink bugs. Wait. What?
The change in seasons to cooler weather can mean an unwelcome addition to your home. Household pets can cause major damage to a home if left untreated.
Power Home Remodeling Group, one of the nation’s largest home remodeling companies, knows a little something about these cold weather pests.
“Homeowners need to take the threat of pests seriously because they can do so much damage to the structure of a home,” says Matt Hess, Power’s VP of Operations-Installations. “Most pest infestations and accompanying damage are considered maintenance issues by homeowners’ insurance carriers, forcing homeowners to cover costs themselves. Prevention is key to protecting both your home and your wallet.”
Some species of pests are more likely to invade your home come fall than others. Power offers tips below to help protect your home from pests this fall:
1.Remove standing water: While this was a mosquito breeding ground during the heat of Summer, it’s now a playground for termites, carpenter ants, and powderpost beetles.
2.Trim shrubs: According to Power, “Many pests use vegetation as a bridge from the ground into your home; so keep bushes, shrubs, vines and trees from touching the house. Wood mulch and plants should also be kept at least 18 inches away from the foundation to prevent rot.”
3.Eliminate yard clutter: Termites and carpenter ants love wood. They love piles of wood, rotted stumps, and any other yummy tree-based products! Store firewood at least 20 feet away from your home and outdoor structures and at least five inches off the ground.
4.Seal gaps and cracks: Stink bugs, in all their loveliness, are looking for a warm place to rest. By sealing up gaps around windows, doors, and roofing you are making it just a little harder for them to make your home their winter getaway. Power suggests, “Seal any cracks or gaps with caulk or epoxy, and use steel wool or hardware cloth to block openings where wires, pipes and cables come into or out of exterior walls. Also be sure to ventilate attics and crawl spaces to ensure the venting system has a good airflow to prevent the buildup of moisture.”
5.Don’t forget the attic! If you think pests can’t climb or fly, you’re wrong! Warm dryer vents are cozy places to set up camp. Attics can be perfect homes for raccoons, squirrels, and mice. All of these larger pests can do some real damage to your home. Placing a mesh barrier over points of entry, like vents, holes or large cracks, will keep both the animals, and the mites and fleas they carry, outside where they belong.
By addressing this issue now before they become problematic you can save yourself time and money in the long run. Take a few moments today to do a “pest prevention” check-up on your home.
During the holidays, winter cheer is everywhere. Holiday carols fill homes, stores are beautifully decorated, and there’s a general feeling of joy as families gather and fulfill each other’s wish-lists.
No doubt, people are in a buying spirit. In fact, I’ve closed deals on Christmas and New Years. For home buyers looking forward to starting off fresh for the New Year, you want to create a warm and inviting space that will set your home apart from the rest.
Here are five easy ways to do this:
1. Go Green
Wreaths and garlands instantly create a holiday mood, and they also fill your home with the unmistakable fragrance of cedar and pine. Wreaths can be hung on doors, mailboxes and front windows, and you can wind garlands around banisters.
2. Display Seasonal Fruits
Fill large bowls with winter fruits such as persimmons, apples, pomegranates, and the countless varieties of citrus. Place these in the living and dining rooms, and kitchen. Not only do these give life to spaces, but you can also offer them as snacks to buyers.
3. Present a Festival of Lights
Recent technology has provided us with stunning exterior lighting options that are instant reminders of the holiday season. There are energy efficient LEDs, lights shaped as snowflakes, and even ones that electronically mimic snowfall and icicles. Subtle decorations are best because they will please a wide audience—so avoid any blow-up lawn Santa’s or life-sized snow globes.
4. Create Simple Winter Floral Arrangements
Here’s a tip that will instantly turn any flower arrangement into a winter one. Place fresh cranberries in a large transparent vase, fill it with water, and arrange your flowers as you normally would. For an even more dramatic look, choose white flowers along with your arrangement’s leafy fillers.
5. Fill Your Home with Winter Aromas
You can find scented pinecones in stores throughout the country. Fill large bowls with them and place them in living rooms, bedrooms, and the dining room. Also, candles with winter fragrances–like gingerbread and cinnamon–serve a similar purpose.
During the winter months, it’s all about bringing the most memorable aspects of winter indoors. When buyers walk into a home and don’t want to leave, you know that your staging efforts have been worthwhile.
Taking some extra steps—such as lighting the fireplace and adding simple holiday touches—will leave a lasting impression, and make your listing stand out from the others.
A cozy fire in the winter is something we all enjoy, but only when it’s confined to the fireplace. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that winter residential building fires result in approximately 945 deaths and 3,845 injuries each year, along with an estimated $1.7 billion in property damage.
We’re closing our homes up for the winter. We’re cooking indoors more, and using fireplaces and heaters with greater frequency. Holiday decorations are going up. The potential for a fire in your home is no joke, especially this time of year. And statistically, the peak occurrences for residential building fires in the winter comes between 5 and 8 p.m., so it doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines to visualize the human error factors at work.
There’s a lot you can do to keep your home fire-safe this holiday season and all winter long. Since most of it’s simple common sense, you’re probably going to want to skim over the rest of this. But please don’t.
In several decades as a contractor, I’ve seen and worked on dozens of residential fires, and their aftermath is nothing short of tragic; preventing one is the best home improvement project you can ever undertake.
Simple awareness is the key
Extension cords: Don’t use them if you can avoid it. Be sure they’re of the proper wire size for the item being plugged into it, and don’t ever exceed that. If what you’re plugging into the extension cord has a grounded plug, then the extension cord needs to have a grounded plug also; don’t ever alter or defeat the grounding leg on the cord. Don’t put cords in front of fireplaces, heaters or cooking appliances, and don’t drape them where they can fall down onto something hot.
Candles: Candles have a dangerous open flame, so be careful where you set them. A candle on a window sill can set a curtain on fire if a breeze pushes the curtain over the flame. Candles can ignite paperwork or books on shelves, or other nearby flammables. Always burn candles on a candle holder, not directly on a flammable surface. Jar candles are safer since the flame is contained, and the lid will completely snuff out the flame.
Holiday decorations: Water your Christmas tree regularly. It’s no joke — those dry needles will go up with incredible speed and burn with fierce intensity. Pay close attention to where the tree and other decorations are placed so that they’re not too close to sources of ignition, such as a fireplace or a heater.
Hot ashes: Fireplace ashes are hot long after the fire has gone out. If you’re going to clean out your fireplace, don’t put the ashes in a paper bag, cardboard box, or plastic garbage can. Put ashes only in a metal can with an airtight lid that’s approved for that use.
Space heaters: Be very careful with the use and placement of space heaters. Never point a space heater directly at anything flammable, such as a pile of newspapers or clothing. Never use a space heater with a worn cord, a missing safety guard, or a model that lacks a safety shutoff that automatically shuts the unit off if it gets tipped over.
Combustible materials: Having a stack of newspaper near the fireplace for starting the fire is an accident waiting to happen. Store newspapers, kindling and firewood a safe distance away from the fireplace. The same goes for other combustibles, such as clothing, dog beds, etc. If you have wall heaters, never allow clothing, cardboard boxes, newspapers or other combustibles to build up in front of them.
Leaves and needles: Don’t let dry leaves and needles build up on your roof, especially a wood roof. Make sure the spark arrestor on your chimney is in place as well.
Beyond these acts of simple awareness, there are some other things you need to be aware of when it comes to preventing a tragedy in your home.
Smoke alarms: Beyond the obvious of making sure you have an adequate number of smoke alarms and checking the batteries twice a year (daylight saving time is an easy reminder), remember that smoke alarms have about a seven-year life expectancy, and should be replaced periodically. The other issue with smoke alarms is that people tend to disconnect them due to nuisance alarms, such as those caused by cooking. Never disconnect your smoke alarm; instead, if nuisance alarms are an issue, consider upgrading to a new generation microprocessor alarm, such as the IoPhic Smoke and Fire Alarm. These types of alarms respond better to slow, smoldering fires and also virtually eliminate most types of nuisance alarms.
Never create a sleeping room that doesn’t have egress: It might be easy to convert a room in the basement or perhaps an attic into a sleeping room for a temporary occupant, but if that room doesn’t have an emergency exterior egress, then don’t use it! In the event of a fire, it can become a literal death trap.
Have an escape plan: During the heat, smoke and chaos of a fire it’s easy to become confused and disoriented, especially at night. Everyone in the family needs to know and practice an escape route from each room all the way to the exterior of the house. Once outside, have an agreed upon meeting spot safely away from the house, such as the end of the driveway or perhaps a neighbor’s.
Have an escape ladder: If you have a multistory house, have an escape ladder for each sleeping room on the upper floors. The ladder needs to reach from the egress window all the way to the ground, and every family member needs to be trained on how to deploy and use it.
Renters insurance: Finally, if you or someone you know is a renter, get renters insurance immediately. It’s inexpensive insurance against losing everything you own in the event of a fire, and it’s simply foolish not to have it!
Dugan Foster and his wife Elise have been in the live Christmas tree business since 2008.
The couple runs Old Congaree Run Tree Farm in Eastover, with 16 acres of Christmas trees.
“We have a ball, we watch the kids come and take down the tree and drag it in and they want to be the honchos in this thing, it is fun to watch them,” said Dugan Foster.
It takes the trees about 5 years to go from the sapling stage to when they are ready to be harvested, an exciting time for the growers.
Foster said, “It’s the smell that you get, you can tell it is something different, it gives off an aroma that you won’t find anyplace else, whereas artificial you can’t make it do that.”
It’s not just a good fragrance either, Christmas trees also make an impact on our economy here in South Carolina.
According to the latest statistics available from the USDA, the state ranks 10th in the country in cut trees at a value of over $7.5 million dollars.
Environmentally, according to the National Christmas Tree Association an acre of live Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for the daily requirements of 18 people.
According to the NCTA, 85 percent of the US imported artificial trees comes from China.
Foster believes the environmental and the economical impacts of live trees make buying one an easy choice.
Foster said, “When you have a real live tree to cut it down, I think that is the best way to do things.”
The fixer-upper properties on the market will give you more purchasing power when shopping for a new home. Bargains can be found in homes that have been foreclosed, seized by the government or just fallen out of repair due to homeowner neglect. While it is true that you will save thousands of dollars on these homes that will need lots of work, there are hidden costs that buyers fail to consider. Ask yourself if it’s worth it and know your options.
Know exactly what you are getting into
Don’t underestimate the cost of renovations and repairs. A home inspection will let you know the fundamental repairs and maintenance that must be done to the home. Without a home inspector, you may end up over paying for the fixer-upper anyway.
The inspector will evaluate any problems with the interior and appliances, roofing, heating and cooling system, plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation and ventilation, and the structural foundation, exterior faults and more. Fixer-uppers may have a lot of problems with these parts of the home. A home inspector is worth hiring to get an unbiased perspective and uncover problems you can’t see yourself.
You ultimately have to decide how much money you are actually saving by buying the fixer-upper once you add in the costs. Once you spend all the money on repairs to make it habitable, will you still be satisfied with your choice? Will you hire someone to do the repairs or do you have the patience and skill to do it yourself?
Consider a FHA insured HUD 203(K)
It is worth checking to see if you qualify for a program known as HUD 203(k). It allows the buyer to purchase a fixer-upper with a FHA guaranteed loan, and the best part is that it protects you from extra costs if the “fixing” part costs more than estimated. You must submit a comprehensive list of repairs with corresponding cost estimates with your application, so you will need to get a home inspector, have the cost of labor and repair determined, and prepare your detailed plan for accomplishing it all for the FHA and your creditor.
The ideal fixer-upper would consist of superficial revamps rather than major appliance, ventilation, or structural repairs. Minor renovations would be painting inside and out, installing ceiling fans and light fixtures, and replacing carpets, windows, or doors.
Fixing up the house might take longer than you originally planned, but it can be well worth it. Remodeling and minor repairs will most likely take longer than you expect, especially if you are haven’t dealt with this before. You chose to save money with a fixer-upper. It takes time to give a house the proper care that will result in a comfortable house to call your home. Do your homework and make an informed decision.