When the time comes for a first-time home buyer to tell a real estate agent what they desire in a home, will they know what to say besides simple things like a two-story home with a walkout basement in a quiet neighborhood.

There's much more to a home than that. One of the really great things about giving your agent a list of amenities and features is that your agent can utilize technology to find that perfect home for you from that list.

Using a List to Search Properties


Most MLS systems that agents use to find homes contain search parameters. Some will let you exclude certain types of criteria, which might be more helpful to you than you may first think. If, for example, you absolutely do not want to buy a home with carpeting, your agent can exclude all homes with carpeting from your search requirements. You might want to consider carpeting only for the bedrooms and installing hardwood-like floors elsewhere.


The more closely you define parameters, the fewer homes you may find that are available to you. If you include too many parameters, you may not find any homes at all. If is best to be more general and less specific. Plus, bear in mind that information exported is only as good as the information imported, and some agents might leave blank certain fields.

Location, Location, Location


This is the first rule of real estate. Location is the most important yet the most often overlooked rule. If you have to choose between a home with all of the amenities you want in a bad location or a home in a good location with only some of the amenities, choose the home with the good location. You can always add amenities, but you cannot change a bad location.


Narrow your list to your top 3 to 5 neighborhoods. Talk to the neighbors to find out if these areas are indeed where you might want to live. Let your agent know the ZIP codes you would like, or define the area by street boundaries so your agent can draw a map search.


Examples of Types of Locations:

    • View of coast, city or hills
    • Waterfront: River, ocean, lakefront
    • Greenbelt
    • Golf course
    • Suburban
    • City
    • Raised elevation or mountains
    • Cul-de-sac
    • Dead-end street
    • Gated community

Construction, Exterior, Style, Roof, and Yard Amenities

We all have some idea of what our perfect home would look like. But again, you'll get better results from excluding certain types than by choosing too many particulars.

 

Home Construction

    • Adobe
    • Brick
    • Concrete block
    • Log
    • Metal
    • Stone
    • Straw
    • Wood

Home Exterior

    • Brick
    • Cement siding
    • Lap siding
    • Metal siding
    • Vinyl siding
    • Shingle
    • Stone
    • Stucco
    • Veneer
    • Wood

Style of Home

    • A-frame
    • Bungalow
    • Colonial
    • Contemporary
    • Cottage
    • Dome
    • Log
    • Mediterranean
    • Ranch
    • Spanish
    • Tudor
    • Victorian

Roof

    • Composition shingle
    • Concrete tile
    • Metal
    • Rock
    • Shake
    • Slate
    • Tar
    • Tile
    • Wood

Yard

    • Size of lot
    • Swimming pool/sport pool
    • Spa
    • Sauna
    • Steam room
    • Fireplace or fire pit
    • Built-in BBQ
    • Outdoor kitchen
    • Courtyard
    • Patio: Covered or uncovered
    • Deck
    • Tennis courts
    • Trees and landscaping
    • Gardens
    • Lawn
    • Automatic sprinklers/drip/misting system

Basic Home Amenities, Types of Rooms and Flooring

Rather than picking a specific age of the home, try choosing a range of years. If you do not want a newer home, you can ask your agent to limit your search to homes built prior to a certain year. Bear in mind that if your cutoff is homes built before 1990, you will not receive a home listing for a home built in 1991.

 

Type of Home (Single Family -- Attached or Detached, Duplex, Halfplex, Condo, Townhome, Manufactured Home)

    • Age of home/year built
    • Number of bedrooms
    • Number of baths
    • Number of stories or levels
    • Orientation (direction home faces)
    • Utilities: gas / electric
    • HVAC: Central heating & air conditioning, propane, gravity, floor or wall
    • Parking/garage
    • RV parking or boat storage

Types of Rooms

    • Number of masters / junior masters / ensuites
    • Loft
    • Den
    • Bonus room
    • Great room
    • Home office area
    • Home theater
    • Media room
    • Family room
    • Gym/workout room
    • Library
    • Butler's pantry
    • Sunroom
    • Downstairs' bedroom
    • Basement
    • Guest quarters
    • Wine storage

Flooring

    • Carpeting
    • Concrete
    • Bamboo
    • Stone
    • Tile
    • Laminate
    • Cork
    • Vinyl / linoleum
    • Manufactured wood
    • Marble
    • Wood
    • Waterproof vinyl planks


Specific Home Amenities and Features

Home buyers often desire certain features in 4 areas of the home: the kitchen, master bedroom, baths, and dining room. In addition, a growing number of buyers prefer to have home energy features, including accessibility features. Although some of these can be added after purchase as a home improvement project, sometimes the cost to do so is prohibitive.

Here are more specific amenities and features to consider:

Kitchen Features and Amenities

    • Appliances: Built-in or freestanding - stainless / colored / cabinetry match
    • Counters: Granite, marble, ceramic, stone, wood, laminate or synthetic
    • Islands and wet bars
    • Dining bars
    • Under cabinet lighting / recessed lighting / pendants
    • Farm-style sinks, dual or triple sinks, metal, steel, cast iron
    • Warming drawers, wine refrigerators, trash compactors
    • Remodeled / updated

Dining Features

    • Space in kitchen/breakfast nook
    • Dining/family combination
    • Dining/living combination
    • Formal dining room
    • Outdoor kitchen

Master Suite Amenities and Features

    • Large vs. small
    • Balcony
    • Outside access
    • Private patio
    • Remote area or sitting room/office
    • Ground floor vs. the second floor
    • Surround sound
    • Fireplace
    • Wet bar
    • Dual walk-in closets

Bath Features

    • Dual/triple sinks
    • Built-in dressing vanities
    • Vanity shelves & mirrors in showers/tubs
    • Jetted or sunken tubs
    • Separate shower
    • Rainshower heads
    • Stone/tile surfaces
    • Outside access
    • Skylights
    • Heated floors
    • Remodeled / updated

Home Energy Amenities and Features

    • Attic fans
    • Ceiling fans
    • Dual or triple pane windows
    • Programmable thermostats
    • Single flush toilets
    • Window shutters
    • Solar heat
    • Solar plumbing
    • Solar Screens
    • Storm windows
    • Tankless water heater
    • Skylights or sky tubes
    • Whole house fan

Accessibility Features

    • Extra-wide doorways
    • Ramps
    • Grab bars
    • Lower counter heights
    • Walk-in tubs and showers



Source: The Balance

Read full post


Dining Room Staging Tips That Are Quick & Easy!

A dining room can be a tricky space for traditional or virtual staging.  Some dining rooms are small, have very little light or are part of a shared space along with a living room.  When staging a dining room it needs to invite a buyer in and linger at the table.  A dining space should look comfortable and have good lighting.  Here are 6 Dining Room Staging Tips to help buyers envision that special place for family dinners or entertaining guests!


1.) Let There Be Light. If your dining room screams dark and gloomy, bring in the light!  If there is at least one wall of windows hang a mirror on the opposite wall to reflect natural light when staging the space.  Placing a pair of tall, skinny lamps on a console table or sideboard with a mirror hung above will make your dining room glow!

2.) Create A Dining Space. Buyers need to see a dining room, so create one!  A round table pushed close to a wall or a dining table on one side of a large living area will work for small spaces.  Utilize the surrounding space and hang large artwork or a grouping of pictures on nearby walls.  Make a statement when staging the space and show buyers the possibilities.

3.) Update The Look. If your light fixtures are outdated, purchase inexpensive new ones to instantly update your dining room. Gold or brass fixtures are OUT!  Go for brushed silver or bronze rod iron.  Remove outdated wallpaper and repaint personal paint choices with warm neutral tones which is always key in staging a home to sell.

4.) Good Traffic Flow. When staging a home it is important to show off the spaciousness of a room.  If a dining table seats 8 or more take a leaf or two out of the table and show 6 seats at the table.  Place the other 2 chairs on each side of a large window or one on each side of a buffet or china cabinet.  Buyers need to be able to move around the room and not feel blocked into a space.

5.) A Focal Point. A dining room is an easier room for buyers to envision laying out furnishings but you want to still capture their attention.  A large vase with fresh flowers centered on the dining table and colorful artwork on walls is key when staging this room and helps create a focal point which is easy on the eyes.

6.) Avoid Overstaging. It is not necessary to compeletely set the dining table with all your china, glasses, silverware, placemats and the like.  Again, you want to create a pleasing focal point in the dining room but setting the table is too much!  Overstaging a room can possibly stir up negative thoughts and make buyers feel the home is too fancy to live in.


Source: Virtually Staging Properties

Read full post

  1. Update the front entry choose simple yet unexpected projects to you’re your house stand out. A new full-view storm door allows the freshly painted door to become the focal point of this budget-friendly makeover.
  2. Oversized house numbers stenciled onto the concrete are an easy DIY project: Use a copy machine to enlarge printed numbers to your desired size, then laminate the paper so your stencil holds its shape. Cut the numbers out with a crafts knife; you will use the negative of the numbers as stencils. Measure and line up the stencils, then apply outdoor paint with a foam pouncer.
  3. Create a Living Monogram Wreath to create a new way to incorporate clean and vibrant plants! Take plywood to use as the back, 2-inch cedar boards, and chicken wire. Then spray-paint, and fill with sphagnum peat moss and succulents. Hooks on the back make it easy to remove, clean, and add new plants.
  4. Replace barely-there light fixture with an inexpensive galvanized metal fixture to add a new look to your entrance!
  5. A coat of metallic spray paint and a stenciled "Hello" give the mailbox new life and make guests feel welcome.
  6. Design and install a custom railing that fits the entry and brings the stairway into compliance with building codes. From steel cords, to cast iron, the options are endless!
  7. to customize an inexpensive sisal doormat, apply painter's tape stripes, then sprayed on one color at a time, allowing each coat to dry between applications. The options are endless with the use of different colour combinations and patterns!


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Read full post

According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released Thursday, home prices in the region have jumped the most in all of Canada.


The data shows the average price of a home sold in the first quarter of 2019 was $258,110.


That is a 12.4 per cent increase over the same period last year, when the price was $229,671.


Other notable price increases for Ontario cities include Kingston at 10.3 per cent increase, and a 10.7 per cent increase in London.


Year-over-year prices for condominiums in the Windsor-area jumped 19 per cent to $219,582 from $184,477 in the first quarter of 2018.


There was a 13.5 per cent increase for prices for two-story homes – from $227,207 in 2018 to $257,785 in the first quarter of 2019.




Source:CTV Windsor

Read full post

Because no wall in your home should be left as a blank canvas, we’re looking at trending interior paint colors for 2019 to get you inspired before the summer season is over and we go full-throttle into fall. From which paint colors will work best in which rooms throughout your home to paint color ideas for accent walls to create conversation-starting visual interest in any room, take in the 10 best paint color ideas to try for the year ahead and beyond.

And we bet you’ll be surprised at some of the latest paint colors to make Pantone’s yearly forecast and how easily you can introduce them into your home as sometimes all it takes is a fresh coat of paint to reenergize a room. To make it easier for you, we surveyed Décor Aid interior designers for their takes on the latest paint colors to give a go.

HAZELNUT

Warm and inviting creamy shades of hazelnut paint colors are sure to never go out of style nor ever clash with existing furnishings as it makes for one comforting go-to of a hue.

For hazelnut paint color ideas in your home, take a quick survey from room to room and consider which spaces need to be brightened up and catch more light as varying shades of hazelnut are great for bouncing light off to make a room appear larger than it is.

LILAC GRAY

Though dove gray is one of the most classic paint colors when looking for modern alternatives to stark neutral paint color ideas, there’s something a tad moodier about 2019’s lilac undertone injected options.

For one, the addition of lilac works to make gray hues warmer, more gender neutral and cheery. And as some of our designers favorite home interior colors revolve around varying shades of gray, an option boasting lilac tones makes for a refreshing alternative that also happens to be subtle enough to not tire of it easy. We recently made a strong case for the hue on an interior design project in Brooklyn that came alive with a warm, minimal feel.

DARK GREENS

Officially called ‘night watch’ and one of Pantone’s top 2019 paint colors, the hue is basically a new take on rich hunter green that hasn’t looked so viable since its last time in the interior design spotlight in the 90’s.

From muted to moody, this deep green color trend can work to emulate the feeling of lush botanicals and the healing power of nature in your home while setting the tone with a strong foundational hue.

For hunter and bottle green paint color ideas, our interior designers suggest that this trend should be reserved for well-lit, large rooms as its intensity can overpower small spaces and make them look darker. And as always, when considering bringing in the latest paint colors in your home, think about what works with your lifestyle, taste, and design direction as no paint color trend is worth sacrificing your own personal aesthetic.

MUTED PASTELS


Pastel derivatives in chalky, muted tones, have a soothing appeal that brings with them an understated vibe that’s perfect for gender neutral rooms and common areas like kitchens and bathrooms as they’ll do double duty and conceal everyday scuff marks and nicks. Plus, muted pastels make for a warm backdrop for minimalist design.

We love how the kitchen featured above combines the latest paint colors and a dramatic marble backsplash in complimentary tones that are sure to make it more memorable than a standard black and white kitchen.

Go for similar muted pastel paint colors if you’re looking for the unexpected without having to commit to a bold color trend or the latest paint colors being touted as an ‘it’ hue as you’ll tire of it in the long run, and run the risk of having similar paint colors as your friends and neighbors.

SOFT CLAY


Evoke the spirit of Miami with zesty hues. For those with wanderlust and an earthy spirit, soft clay paint colors are great alternatives to beiges and browns as they’ll lend any room a certain sunny zest and casual elegance. Think terra cotta, caramel, clove, and burnt orange home interior colors that have more personality than any neutral ever could.

For this interior design trend, we suggest going for the latest paint colors that boast unusual takes on clay tones to make any room a feature in your home or go for an accent wall or backsplash and see how effectively the hue can elevate a room and your mood with ease.

NEW BLUES


For the traditionalist with a casual approach to interior design, charcoal blue, ice blue, gray-blue, and a very pale powder blue are great options when looking for paint colors that are far from every day yet subtle enough to not take over a room.

With an endless amount of alternative blue paint color ideas available, there’s no limit to the number of routes you can go with this exacting tone. Just be sure that any blue home interior colors you go for remain soothing and spare to avoid a heavy-handed hue that will make a room feel smaller, darker, and stuck in an 80’s nautical time warp. In general, when going for hues known to leave a strong initial impact, tone it down with a more muted, and subtle color palette to get the longest run from your selection.

MUSTARD


For those looking for a pop of color and an alternative to gold, deep mustard is great for instantly creating rich focal accents and make for smart paint colors for accent walls and even trim.

Do go for muted and moody mustard home interior colors to create provocative depth, and to highlight décor and art brilliantly as sometimes the best paint color ideas are applied in small doses.

MIST


A non-color of sorts, mist home interior colors may come from a blend of muted pastel blue and green with a gray and lilac undertone, but it’s far from an easter egg hue.

Instead, think of this color trend as a blank canvas for décor of all colors and styles as its a much more interesting starting point than standard beiges and whites, plus, like muted pastels, a misty hue will work to cover up blemishes with ease.

MUSHROOM


An update to the popular 70’s era mousy browns and rust paint colors, mushroom looks fresh again thanks to a newfound appreciation for everything natural yet moody.

One of our favorite fashion and paint colors for 2019, shades of mushroom are also gender neutral, timeless in appeal, and unique enough to have guests taking note for their own homes. Plus, it looks great with natural furnishings and finishes as seen in the room above.

PEWTER


The perfect gray-beige and a rich alternative to all white walls, pewter paint colors provide an almost blank canvas that’s anything but bland.

Though it should have been a standard before it was shortlisted as one of the best paint colors for 2019, this is one color trend not to be underestimated. In fact, our interior designers suggest taking pewter paint color ideas throughout your home rather than just one room as its one shade that works with everything, everywhere.



Source: Decor Aid

Read full post

  1. Boost curb appeal. This is something you always hear, and with very good reason. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. Make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers with these tips:
    Power wash siding and walkways
    Hang easy-to-read house numbers
    Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery
    Mow lawn, and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
    Wash front windows
    Repaint or stain the porch floor as needed.
  2. Welcome visitors with an inviting porch. Even if you have only a tiny stoop, make it say “welcome home” with a clean doormat, potted plants in bloom and — if you have room — one or two pieces of neat porch furniture. Keep your porch lights on in the evenings, in case potential buyers drive by. Illuminating the front walk with solar lights is a nice extra touch, especially if you will be showing the house during the evening.
  3. Get your house sparkling clean. From shining floors and gleaming windows to clean counters and scrubbed grout, every surface should sparkle. This is the easiest (well, maybe not easiest, but certainly the cheapest) way to help your home put its best foot forward. You may want to hire pros to do some of the really tough stuff, especially if you have a large house. Don’t skimp — this step is key!
  4. Clear away all clutter. If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story. It’s not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative’s garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble. Clean and clear surfaces, floors, cupboards and closets equal more space in the eyes of potential buyers, so purge anything unnecessary or unsightly. But it’s my style! Guess what? It may not be the style of those seeking to buy a house in your neighborhood. So even if you have an awesome vintage-chic look going on, rein it in for the sake of appealing to the most number of people. You can bring your personal style back into play in your new home.
  5. Strike a balance between clean and lived-in. Yes, I know I just said to get rid of all your clutter (and you deserve a big pat on the back if you did it), but now it’s time to judiciously bring back a few elements that will really make your home appealing. Think vases of cut flowers, a basket of fresh farmer’s market produce on the kitchen counter or a bowl of lemons beside the sink.
  6. Style your dining room table. The dining room is often a blind spot in decorating the home. Between dinners, a large dining table can look bare and uninviting, so styling it up with visitors in mind can increase the appeal. An oversize arrangement can look too stiff and formal, so try lining up a series of smaller vessels down the center of the table instead.
  7. Take a good look at your floors. At the bare minimum, give all floors a thorough cleaning (and steam clean carpets), but consider having wood floors refinished if they are in poor shape. If you don’t want to invest in refinishing floors, the strategic placement of area rugs can go a long way.
  8. Rearrange your furniture. In the living room, symmetrical arrangements usually work well. Pull your furniture off the walls and use pairs (of sofas, chairs, lamps) to create an inviting conversation area.
  9. Choose sophisticated neutral colors. Now is not the time to experiment with that “fun”-looking lime green. But that doesn’t mean you need to go all white, either. Rich midtone neutrals like mocha and “greige” create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look more pulled together.
  10. Create a gender-neutral master bedroom. Appeal to everyone with a clean, tailored master bedroom, free of personal items and clutter. You can’t go wrong with clean, crisp linens, tasteful artwork and a blanket folded at the foot of the bed.
  11. Open those closets! Open-house visitors will peek inside your closets. Closet space can be a make-it-or-break-it selling point for buyers, so show yours off to their full advantage by giving excess stuff the heave-ho. Again, this is really important, so even if you need to store a few boxes elsewhere, it’s worth it. Aim to have 20 to 30 percent open space in each closet to give the impression of spaciousness.
  12. Clean up toys. Of course there will be families with children looking at your home, but just because they have kids too doesn’t mean seeing toys strewn everywhere will sell them on the place. When people are house hunting, they are imagining a fresh start. Show them that in this house, it is possible to have a beautifully organized kids’ room, and they might be swayed.
  13. Use “extra” rooms wisely. If you have been using a spare bedroom as a dumping ground for odd pieces of furniture and boxes of junk, it’s time to clean up your act. Each room should have a clearly defined purpose, so think about what potential buyers might like to see here. An office? A guest room? Another kids’ room? Whether you buy inexpensive furnishings, rent them, or borrow some from friends, making a real room out of a junk room will have a big payoff.
  14. Try a pedestal sink to maximize space. If you have a small bathroom but a huge cabinet-style sink, consider swapping it out for a simple pedestal version. Your bathroom will appear instantly bigger.
  15. Use only perfect personal accents. Especially in the bathroom, it is important that anything left out for visitors to see is pristine. If you have a gorgeous fluffy white bathrobe, hanging it on a decorative hook on the door can be an attractive accent —but if your robe is more of the nubby blue floral variety, you might want to hide it away. Look at every detail with a visitor’s eye — bars of soap should be fresh and clean, towels spotless, the garbage always emptied (you get the idea).
  16. Entice people to explore the whole house. By placing something that draws the eye at the top of the stairs, in hallways or in corners, you can pique curiosity and keep potential buyers interested throughout a whole home tour. A piece of artwork, a painted accent wall, a window seat, a vase of flowers, a hanging light or even a small, colorful rug can all work to draw the eye.
  17. Show how you can use awkward areas. If you have any room beneath the stairs, or a nook or alcove anywhere in your home, try to find a unique way to show it off. By setting up a small work station, a home command center with a bulletin board, or built-in shelving, your awkward spot becomes another selling point.
  18. Beware pet odors. Really, this can be a big one! If you have pets, get all rugs steam cleaned and be extra vigilant about vacuuming and washing surfaces. Also be sure to keep any extra-loved pet toys and doggie bones hidden when tours are scheduled.
  19. Create a lifestyle people are looking for. Generally speaking, you want to play up what your neighborhood or area is known for. Have a house in a quiet, grassy suburb? Hanging a hammock in your backyard and a bench swing on your porch could be the perfect touch.
  20. Stage the outdoors too. Even if your condo has only a teensy postage stamp–size balcony, play it up with a cute café table and chairs, a cheerful tablecloth and even a little tray of dishes or a vase of flowers. When people look at this scene, they won’t be thinking “small,” they will be thinking, “What a charming spot to have breakfast!”
  21. Think seasonally. Make sure your garden is in beautiful shape in the summer, and that any extra features you have, like a pool or a fire pit, are cleaned and ready to go. Take advantage of the cozy vibe of the season in autumn and winter, by building a fire in the fireplace and simmering hot apple cider on the stove.


Source:HERD

Read full post

Glam the Front Door

Adding pizzazz to your home's front entrance is an easy, low-cost way to up your home's curb appeal. Try painting your door a pretty hue that coordinates with your home's color. "Make sure there is a contrast between the front door and the facade of the home," says Kristine Ginsberg, owner of Elite Staging and Redesign in Morris County, N.J. If your house is gray or white with black shutters, consider painting the front door red, she suggests. Other ways to beautify your home's exterior are adding appealing house numbers to your entrance and hanging a pretty wreath on the door. For extra pop, place a potted plant or two by the front entrance.

Approximate cost: A gallon of paint for the front door will cost as little as $25. Metal house numbers can be purchased for less than $4 each, while a potted mini evergreen like boxwood or a dwarf Alberta Spruce could run you less than $20.

 
 

Manicure the Lawn

Tending to your lawn is a do-it-yourself task that can add instant curb appeal to your home. Get out the lawn mower, cut the grass regularly and conquer those weeds. "I think it's always a great idea to edge your lawn for a professional look," Kristine suggests.

If you need to green your lawn in a hurry for an open house or for showings to potential buyers, you can spray your lawn with a green lawn spray paint that's especially formulated for grass, is nontoxic and is environmentally safe. You can do it yourself, or hire a professional lawn painting service.

Approximate cost: No cost to you, unless you bring in a professional to cut or green your lawn. If you artificially green your lawn on your own, you can get a quart of lawn paint, which covers up to 1,000 square feet, for less than $30. Lawn sprayers are available at a variety of price levels, but some are sold for less than $20.



Tend Those Beds

Groomed garden beds tell buyers that a home has been well maintained. Start out by weeding your planting beds and removing any debris. Buy a few bags of mulch and spread enough of it to cover the width and length of your home's front beds. The mulch will give your landscaping a fresh appearance and will keep weeds to a minimum while retaining moisture for your plants.

Try planting some annual flowers like pansies, black-eyed Susans, impatiens and petunias for quick and long-lasting color. The flowers can be bought already in bloom in low-cost flats of 12 to 48 flowers at garden and home improvement stores. "Annuals grow quickly, are inexpensive and bloom longer," Kristine says.

Consider planting brightly colored annuals in the spring and summer and plant flowers with autumn hues (reds, oranges and yellows) in the fall, suggests Joanna Seidler Farber, a Realtor associate with Davis Realtors in East Brunswick, N.J. "Changing it up every so often gives a fresh new feel and look," she adds.

Approximate cost: A 2-cubic-foot bag of mulch can be purchased for $3 or less. Online mulch calculators, like the one available from the National Gardening Association, will help you calculate how much mulch you need to purchase. Meanwhile, a flat of annuals could cost you less than $20, depending on the type of flowers purchased.


Wash Off Dirt

Turn the nozzle on your garden hose to its strongest setting and use the water to blast dirt and debris off sidewalks, your driveway and the front of your home. Be careful not to dislodge or get any water underneath your home's siding. You could rent a power washer at an extra cost, but you probably don't need to go to the trouble — a simple garden hose can do the job, and a power washer can be too powerful and could damage siding.

"If you do use a power washer, don't put it close to windows or doorways," suggests Stephen Boehler, owner of Mr. Handyman of NE Monmouth County in New Jersey. "The pressure can remove caulk and other materials sealing your home."

Cost: Absolutely nothing (minus the cost of water), if you use a garden hose. Renting a power washer will run you about $40 to $75 a day depending on your location and the quality of the equipment. If you'd like to purchase a pressure washer, there are various options available for between $120 and $150 at big home improvement stores.


Tidy Up the Driveway

Buyers won't be impressed by your garbage or recycling containers, so store those on the side of the house (preferably behind a bush, a small fence or a screen) or in the garage. Take care of minor cracks in your driveway by patching or resealing it yourself. Determine how much sealant you'll need by using the length and width of your driveway to calculate its square footage. Then match that up against the product's use recommendations. "Plan on getting 10 percent extra because some areas will absorb more than others," Stephen says. "You can always return unopened pails of sealer."

Stash your car in the driveway or down the block to give your driveway and the approach to your home a neater appearance.

Approximate cost: To DIY seal an average 1,000-square-foot asphalt driveway should cost about $100 to less than $150, depending on the quality of the sealant used.


Make the Windows Sparkle

Clean windows inside and out to make your home sparkle. If your home's windows tilt out, it's quite simple to wash exterior windows. Otherwise, you might need a friend or family member to steady a ladder while you do the work. Try washing outside windows by spraying them with a garden hose to remove dirt and cobwebs. Then sponge them down with a small amount of vinegar or detergent diluted in warm water and rinse. If you need to wash your windows from the outside and your windows don't tilt out, try using a long-handled brush.

Approximate cost: Next to nothing, if you wash the windows yourself. But if your windows are high up and you need to rent a ladder, a 14-foot ladder will cost about $25 to rent for four hours from a big-box home improvement store.



Update Light Fixtures

Removing builder-grade or outdated front door or garage light fixtures will instantly brighten your home's curb appeal. "This is often done by homeowners with a great success rate," Stephen says. "Make sure the breaker inside the electric panel is shut off for where the light is being installed." Before touching any wires, test them with a live-wire testing device, he suggests.

If you don't want to go to the expense of buying new light fixtures, you could try painting or spray-painting your old ones for a fraction of the cost. "If you have outdated light fixtures like 1980s gold, the quickest fix is to paint the light fixture black," says Cindy Lin, general manager/founder of Staged4More Home Staging in South San Francisco.

Approximate cost: A 12-ounce can of spray paint costs less than $8, while attractive wall-mounted exterior lights can be purchased for less than $30 each. A live-wire tester costs less than $20.


Trim Trees and Bushes

Your home needs to be visible from the curb in order to have curb appeal, so cut overgrown bushes and trees, removing branches that block walkways, windows, the driveway and views of the home from the street. "People need to see the front of the house," says Kristine.

Except for very large tree limbs, you most likely can use a pair of hedge or pruning shears for the job. If you don't have your own pair of shears, look into borrowing a set from a friend or neighbor to keep costs down.

Approximate cost: Nothing, if you own a pair of shears, have extra time or have friendly friends or neighbors. If you need to purchase your own shears, expect to pay between $10 and $50.



Source: HGTV

Read full post

With so much information readily available online, clients sometimes ask, "Why should we hire a real estate agent?" They wonder (and rightfully so) if they couldn't buy or sell a home through the Internet or regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a real estate agent. Some do fine on their ​own, but many don't. Here are 10 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent.

  1. Education and Experience
    You don't need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. For the most part, they all cost roughly the same, so why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? We're all looking for more precious time in our lives, and hiring pros gives us that time.
  2. Buffering Help
    Agents take the spam out of your property showingsand visits. If you're a buyer of new homes, your agent will whip out her sword and keep the builder's agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels. If you're a seller, your agent will filter all those phone calls that lead to nowhere from lookie-loos and try to induce serious buyers to write an offer immediately.
  3. Neighborhood Knowledge
    Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable salesand hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.
  4. Price Guidance
    Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not select prices for sellers or buyers. However, an agent will help to guide clients to make the right choices for themselves. If a listing is at 7%, for example, an agent has a 7% vested interest in the sale, but the client has a 93% interest.Selling agents will ask buyers to weigh all the data supplied to them and to choose a price. Then based on market supply, demand and the conditions, the agent will devise a negotiation strategy.
  5. Market Conditions Information
    Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.
  6. Professional Networking
    Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Due to legal liability, many agents will hesitate to recommend a certain individual or company over another, but they do know which vendors have a reputation for efficiency, competency, and competitive pricing. Agents can, however, give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.
  7. Negotiation Skills and Confidentiality
    Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and because they are skilled. It's part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer's offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client's case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.
  8. Handling Volumes of Paperwork
    One-page deposit receipts were prevalent in the early 1970s. Today'spurchase agreements run ten pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average thicknesses from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. In some states, lawyers handle the disclosures—thank goodness!
  9. Answer Questions After Closing
    Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer tax can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don't leave you in the dust to fend for yourself.
  10. Develop Relationships for Future Business
    The basis for an agent's success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make certain clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.


Source: The Balance 

Read full post
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos identify professional services rendered by REALTOR® members of CREA to effect the purchase, sale and lease of real estate as part of a cooperative selling system.
MLS®, REALTOR®, and the associated logos are trademarks of The Canadian Real Estate Association.