Archive for the ‘home improvement’ Category
Monday, August 8th, 2016
It is common knowledge that upgrades and improvements add value to homes, and of course most people know that there are some upgrades and improvements that add more value than others, such as upgrading kitchen counters and appliances, or bathrooms. But some improvements do not truly add value in the sense that they will increase your sale price potential. Let’s take a look at some of these.
1. Pool: Pools can be highly desirable or completely undesirable (for example, if the buyers have babies or small children they may be seen as a danger). If you have a pool then of course you will attract buyers who want one, and if you do not have one but have a yard that will accommodate one you may attract buyers who are interested in adding one. But if you do not have one, adding a pool will not usually help resale value (there may be an exception if your home is located in a very warm environment like the desert, where pools are coveted and oftentimes expected). Speak with your agent if you are considering adding a pool and know you will be selling down the road.
2. Yard improvements: These can be tricky. There are some improvements to yards that can actually add value, and some that may be a waste of money that sellers will never see at selling time (although they may make the home more appealing). For example, if you have a yard that is merely dirt and has no landscaping, it may make sense to put in sod and an inexpensive border with some greenery. But going overboard – fully landscaping and hardscaping – may not bring dollars to your pocketbook. There are ways to make yards look nice that do not involve spending lots of money.
3. New construction landscaping: Most newly built homes do not come with landscaped backyards, and often also come without landscaped front yards. It is always a question whether to landscape if the home has to be sold prior to any being completed. Many buyers will not want to pay top dollar for dirt front and back yards. BUT one has to be very careful when landscaping, as it can become very personal and if a potential buyer comes along who doesn’t have the same taste and feels the need to rip everything out and start over it can actually be a detriment to the sale, rather than a benefit. It is important to speak with a knowledgeable real estate agent who can take into consideration the neighborhood, prices and other factors. If it is decided that some type of landscaping is a good idea, try to keep it simple in case the new buyer wants to add more (built-in BBQ, firepit, hardscape, etc.) Keep in mind that just because you spend the money, it does not mean you will get it back at sale time – in fact, you likely will not…BUT having a completed yard could also make your home more marketable (I know that is confusing so speak with an experience local agent if you will be selling soon after purchase).
4. Garage conversions: These typically are on my “do not do” list, and if they exist I recommend converting them back prior to selling. Garage conversions require permits for one thing, and many people (at least in my years of experience showing these types of homes) do not obtain them. Most buyers want the garage space so unless there are many spaces in the garage if you have a 2 or 3 car garage it is preferable to NOT have one converted to a room. Most buyers will see it as something they have to “deal with” and may write your home off their possibility list.
5. Room additions: This is a tricky one because it all depends on the home, lot and what is being added. If you live in a tract neighborhood and want to add a room it could be ok if you have a large enough lot such that you are not making the outdoor space smaller. If your addition makes your home the most expensive one on the block you need to beware, as most buyers do not want to own the highest priced home in a neighborhood. There is a lot to take into consideration when adding a room, so speak with an experienced agent if you are planning to sell down the road and are contemplating an addition.
6. Other improvements: There are many other improvements that could add value to a sale. I suggest inviting an experienced local area agent over to discuss any potential improvements prior to sale. Adding a new furnace or water heater is great if the ones you have are old – that will add some value an peace of mind for new buyers. New windows may be good in an older home as they help with insulation. New flooring could be a charm under the right circumstances, and paint – often the cheapest and best way to make a difference – is a great improvement. What you “should” improve will really depend on many factors, so consult with an expert agent in your area before spending any money.
Monday, July 13th, 2015
I hope everyone is having a great summer! I recently returned from a family trip to Europe (sorry for the lack of blogs this past month!), and it was absolutely wonderful. We have many memories to enjoy forever. Of course, coming home was also fantastic, and it made me realize that there truly is no place like home. I loved walking into my house – the furniture, the pictures on the walls, the many memories we have created here – yes, it is a building but it is our sanctuary and it is even more appreciated every time one returns.
Being a homeowner is great because you can truly make your home into the place you want to come home to – the place where you feel at ease and happy. If you are thinking about making some changes but don’t know what style you prefer, start looking through magazines or online at sites like Houzz – you will get some incredible ideas!
Here are some great ways you can spice up your home while expressing your own interests and desires.
Master bedroom: The bedroom is really a place where you want to feel relaxed and comfortable. I do not allow any exercise equipment or anything related to work (desks, computers, etc.) in my bedroom. It is a place where I go to unwind and to SLEEP! My spouse and I have different opinions on the television – we do have one in the bedroom but I don’t care for it.
Decorating a bedroom is very personal, but can be done on any budget. Choose colors for your wall and bed that are restful. Pick window treatments that will let in lots of natural light, but can also keep the light out when it is time to sleep. If you are on a budget there are great stores like HomeGoods and Target where you can purchase bedding, knick knacks and art at discount prices, making your room look just as beautiful as some of the high-end decorated homes. Make a plan first – colors, art, etc., and then have fun!
I was inspired in Italy (as I always am) by the Tuscan art and decor – the mustards and browns with natural woods and art and light, and am always inspired by the Italian Riviera with it’s casual European beach elegance. One of those will be my next bedroom transformation!
Kitchen: The kitchen is the focal point of most homes – where family and friends gather and where you can get creative. It should be functional so that you can easily find cooking utensils and paraphanalia. If you have a small budget and can only remodel one part of your home, the kitchen is the best place to invest because the return on resale is highest. Other rooms in your home can be made to feel spruced up easily with paint, new fixtures and area rugs, but the kitchen is the best place to splurge.
If you cannot afford a kitchen remodel you can do wonders with paint and by refinishing cabinetry and adding new hardware. A pot rack is also easy to install and will keep you organized.
Family room: This is also a popular place to hang out and be together. Whether you like cozy, ultra modern or something in between, it is not too difficult to spice up your family room on any budget. If you cannot splurge on new couches look into slip covers – most of them are machine washable and easy to put on, and they will give your family room a new look. Throw pillows are also great and you can find great deals on them at many discount home stores. Paint is always cheap and can transform any room, and inexpensive pieces of art, candles and knick knacks are always easy to find.
The great thing about redecorating is that you can often use items you already have to make a big difference. Websites like Houzz can give you some great ideas – for example, using mason jars for lighting or flower arrangements, or even to store items on counter tops. If you have old tables or mirrors in your garage you can give them new life with some spray paint. Need art work? You can blow up favorite photos onto canvas and hang them as is or in frames – Costco has great prices. There are also many DIY sites on the internet that will give you great ideas for your home – from easy to difficult.
So do yourself a favor and remember that your home is your sanctuary – you should want to come home!
Friday, July 18th, 2014
Whether you are going to sell your home or have a home you can’t yet afford to upgrade, there are things you can do to make it more appealing, without breaking the piggy bank. If you are selling your home it is important that the home look the best it can, especially if you want to attract qualified buyers. Here are some great ideas you can accomplish in a weekend or two.
1. Paint. Paint is by far the best way to update any space, and it is inexpensive. If your home looks dull or the walls are dirty, paint is the answer. Avoid any bright or dark colors, and try to stay within a neutral realm if you are selling (buyers may have different tastes so it is safest). If your home does not get a lot of natural light you should keep the colors light. Painting is easy and can literally transform a room. Don’t forget baseboards and doors if needed. If the front of your home needs sprucing up, you can save money by just painting the trim, front door and garage (if needed), without having to spend thousands on the entire exterior.
2. Replace door and cabinet knobs. This is another inexpensive way to really change the feel of a room or entire home. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown homes that have been upgraded, but for the ugly door and cabinet knobs that are circa 1970. Knobs come in a plethora of shapes and colors, with a vast price range. If you go to a large home store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you can find some great prices. You can also shop online. Doors that are freshly painted with new fixtures improve the entire room.
3. Let the light in. This is one of the biggest selling points – buyers do not like dark homes. If you have one you have to assess how best to address the issues and bring in as much light as possible. Windows should be uncovered and cleaned – no heavy drapes (because even when they are open the material hanging on the sides blocks light). Short of installing light tubes in your ceiling, you can add more lighting to your home if there are areas where the natural light does not illuminate. You don’t need to spend lots of money – if that is not an option you can simply purchase inexpensive lighting features. If the kitchen is dark, consider mounting under-cabinet lights – if you have multiple outlets you can usually install them yourself without the help of an electrician.
4. Dress up the front of your home. This is critical for sellers, because curb appeal is the first thing buyers will notice. Without having to completely re-landscape, you can make a big difference to the front of your home by doing the following: trim overgrown bushes and trees, mow the lawn, pull weeds, clean windows and doors and sweep porches, and do some planting – think colorful. You can purchase flats of flowers for cheap and line your walkway or planter boxes. If you don’t have those think of investing in a few big pots (it is easy to find cheap ones), and filling them with flowers – place these at your front door or other focal points. If you have large spaces that cannot be filled with plants, purchase a few large bags of bark to make the spaces look fresh. Make sure outdoor lighting is working and clean fixtures.
5. Declutter. I have written numerous blogs about the importance of decluttering. If you are selling your home, keep in mind that buyers want to see the useable space in every room. Take out excess furniture, stacks of books or magazines. Remove photographs from walls (a few well-placed pieces of art are fine, but you do not want walls covered with photos or art). Leave counters empty (except for very little, like a vase of fresh flowers). If you have furniture that is very bulky, get rid of it if you are sprucing up for sale. If you really need help you can consider staging (which really is not overly expensive and will likely bring you offers sooner than without staging, so do the math). If you are not selling but living in your home, decluttering still is advantageous and will highlight the space in your home. Decluttering should include the garage and outdoor living spaces.
Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Thursday, August 29th, 2013
As summer winds down, kids go back to school and the weather starts to cool, Fall is a great time to “check in” with your home. It is great to do this twice a year to keep your home in the best shape. Here are some things that you may want to consider looking into before heading into the winter/holiday season, to assure that your home runs efficiently and to prevent costly maintenance issues down the road.
Clean filters. Heating/air filters should be replaced twice a year. If you have the permanent kind, it is simply a matter of hosing them off and letting them dry out before reinstalling.
Check functionality and change smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
Get a termite inspection. This is something that is most important, yet many people don’t ever do it. Many companies offer free inspections, so it is merely a matter of figuring out when you can be home to have one done. It is not only good to assure you are termite free, but there could be other pests or rodents nesting you attics and other places, and there could be wood rot around your home that if left unattended, may be expensive down the road.
Change filters in your refrigerator, water purification systems and softener systems
Clear and check rain gutters. Keeping them clear could prevent water damage to your home once the rainy season hits.
Check sprinkler systems for any broken or misdirected sprinklers, and any leaks
Clean dryer vent to outside of home. Many homeowners neglect to do this – ever. It is simple to do with a ladder and narrow brush with a long handle. It can prevent fires.
Check under all sinks for running water or signs of leakage
Make sure toilets are secured to floors. If not, it is very simple and very cheap to re-caulk
Check caulking around showers and tubs. Again, caulking is very inexpensive and easy to DIY. Ignoring it could lead to water intrusion underneath showers and tubs and in walls – what could be a very costly problem down the road.
Check your roof. If you have not done so in a long time, it is important to have your roof checked. Time and weather can loosen or crack tiles or other roofing materials. It is smart to have a roof inspection at least every few years, as it could save you time and money.
Trim trees. If you have trees growing close to your home, it is imperative to keep them trimmed so that rodents and other critters cannot use them to access your roof and attic.
Check your water heater for signs of leaking. If it is over 10 years old you may want to consider replacing it before you have a problem. Call a service company to provide an analysis.
Trim any brush around your property that could catch fire
Replace torn/broken window screens
Clean your home. This can be fun by getting the entire family (or roommates, etc.) involved. Eliminating clutter will keep things clean, help maintain your home, and will make problems easier to spot down the road.
The above are just some suggestions to keep your home in tip top shape, and many items can be DIY items. If you don’t want to do it yourself or don’t have the time, you can call a handyperson (who will be able to take care of many things on the list, but not all), or you can pay a home inspector to come out and check everything. Of course, depending on the location of your home there may be other items that are important to include in the list. Maintaining your home will keep it from falling into disrepair, which can end up costing more money in the future.
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
Spring is the time of year where many of us think about renewing, revitalizing and, revamping. I suppose you can call it the season for contemplation. If you are a homeowner it is often the time where you realize there are things around your home that need some attention or maybe just a little tender loving care. But you also may wonder which projects are the most beneficial or cost-effective. Here are some guidelines, whether or not you are planning to sell you home one day or stay there.
Clean, minimize and declutter. We all have busy lives and things can tend to pile up. This is a great time of year to go through your closets, book shelves and magazine racks, and garages or attics. Get rid of the things you no longer use. This is the number one way to improve your living space. Clean your carpets and sofas, try to really minimize – furniture, plants, books, “stuff!” Not only will it improve your home’s feel, but you will get a great sense of satisfaction in purging all the unwanted things. You can make it a fun family lesson by including your children in the clean up; don’t forget to take them along when you donate unwanted items, as it shows them full circle how those things can help better the lives of others.
Don’t forget to go through your pantry. Throw away food items that are expired, and organize your shelves. If you are selling your home this will be appealing to potential buyers as well–a decluttered space allows them to picture making that space their own easier than they are able to do if there is stuff everywhere.
For those who are considering selling their homes soon or down the road, a decluttered and clean home is the best way to obtain offers more quickly. It is also one of the cheaper ways to really show off your space, with the best return on the investment.
Lighten up! Take a good look at your home and assess how bright it feels. Clean your windows and window treatments, remove items that block windows. If you are selling your home this is another important consideration, as buyers don’t tend to like dark spaces. You may want to consider different window treatments if the ones you have don’t allow the natural light to filter through, or you can remove them completely. Another trick is paint–a fresh coat of paint can really affect the lighting and add value to your home with little expense.
Plants: If you have space in your home that is vacant, or if a room looks boring consider adding a few green plants. They add color, are relatively inexpensive, and can really liven up any area. When I help sellers stage their homes for sale plants and flowers are one of my favorite tools. If you don’t have a green thumb there are plant varieties that do not need much maintenance, so talk to an expert at your local garden center. Don’t overdue it with plants, just a few strategically placed can do wonders.
Landcaping: It is easy to completely change the curb appeal of your home -front and back – without spending thousands of dollars, and you can even do it yourself. Flowers and shrubs are the number one way to so this. Choose varying heights and colors and just have fun. If you need guidance flip through a few home and garden magazines to get some great ideas.
If you don’t have a big area for planting consider a potted garden. If your front yard has only grass think about clearing a way for a small flower bed. Making it flowing instead of angled (for example, cutting curvy lines instead of just a square) will make it more appealing on the eyes. If you can’t spend a lot on flowers you can use bulbs, and now is the perfect time to plant them.
It is important to make a plan before you go shop for plants. Pencil out your plans and measure the space so you know how many plants or flowers you need to buy. If you simply cannot figure out what to do you can always consult a professional landscaper, who can help you create a plan and sketch it out. The cost will be minimal but you can work in stages, as time or budget permits, until you finish your project.
Revitalizing rooms: Take a good look at the rooms in your home once you have decluttered and cleaned them. Do they still feel like they need an extra something special to give them new life? You can try new throw pillows , area rugs or pictures on the walls (all which you can purchase inexpensively at stores like Target, WalMart or Home Goods) but it might be even more fun to rearrange the furniture, space-permitting. I have done this in my own home several times, and it really makes a room feel new.
No matter what you do to spruce up your home there are always ways to do so, even on a budget. Getting the whole family involved is a great way to not only spend time together, but also to teach children to take pride in their home.