October 23, 2017

Shaping Up For Selling?

Tips for making your home more attractive to potential buyers…

First impressions are important and the same holds true when you are showcasing your home for a potential sale. While larger home improvement projects are often necessary to catch the eye of someone in the market for a new home, they require a great deal of time and money. Sometimes simple cleaning and organization is all that is needed for your home to become more appealing to potential buyers.

Home staging expert and TLC host Lisa Lynch says giving the perception of clean home is of utmost importance for people looking to sell or rent their homes.

“Presenting a sparkling clean property gives the impression that it was well maintained,” says Lynch. “This gives potential buyers and renters a feeling of security. Often they will pay a premium for a place that has been well-maintained and has a clean appearance.”

Lynch offers these tips to impress your guests and convince potential buyers that you took outstanding care of your home:

Simplify

Begin by de-cluttering your home. By removing personal items that might distract prospective buyers, you’ll help them focus on how they think the home might look when they move in. You don’t want buyers to focus on possessions that you’ll be taking with you when you move.

Neutralize

When showing your home to others, it’s best to set your personal tastes aside by decorating in a way that will appeal to a broad range of people. Think about replacing strong patterns with solid colors on items like bedding, carpets and drapes. It might also be a good call to store that dramatic piece of art somewhere out of sight. You can show it off again when you move into your new house.

A photogenic home

Many potential buyers will make decisions on which homes they would like to look at by looking at photos posted online. Do whatever you can to make your home sparkle in the images you and your real estate agent select for your listing. Focus on glass and metal surfaces that will add shine to your photos. For other bathroom surfaces, a bath scrubber like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber should be used to remove easy-to-spot and unappealing grime and scum from bathtubs and showers. Thoroughly cleaning these surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens can make your home look fresher and newer.

Areas that must sparkle

While it’s important to keep the entire home spotless, there are two rooms in particular that require special attention: the kitchen and the bathroom. In a recent survey, Mr. Clean asked consumers which room they would clean first if moving into a new home. Of the more than 1,000 participants, an impressive 41 percent responded the kitchen and 38 percent said the bathroom.

When selling your home, it is always important to make the extra effort in these two rooms; you’ll never know if it will be a make or break a deal.

Scent

Whether they know it or not, people entering your home will notice more than just appearances. Attractive scents can create good feelings. Candles, diffusers, potpourri and cookies all offer inviting and familiar aromas. Use a cleaner with a pleasant scent to keep your home smelling fresh.

Details matter

Eliminate any small imperfections that might cause uneasiness with potential buyers by replacing broken light bulbs, fixing loose doorknobs or getting your closet door moving smoothly on it tracks. Even something as minor as a little mess in the microwave could turn off a prospective renter or buyer, so make sure every place you can think of is squeaky clean.

Since first impressions are so important, having your home properly cleaned and staged will help you make a sale or rental more quickly and net the price you deserve.

 

 

Think Outside The Box – Literally – To Improve Home Value

home inspector atlantaFor years, the conversation about strengthening your home’s value has revolved around interior projects. However, by keeping the focus inside, you might be ignoring one of the most effective ways to bring your property value up: the garden.

When discussing home value, “garden” means more than just flower beds. It includes your lawn, gathering spaces on your property, paths and walkways, in addition to the trees, shrubs and flowers that decorate the space. In a housing market where it’s still difficult to stand out, turning your attention and efforts to these areas might be just the thing that will attract buyers.

It’s a simple concept: A more attractive house is a more valuable house. And since your yard and garden are often what buyers see first, it’s your best opportunity to set the tone as they consider your property and what they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, well-designed landscaping was shown to raise perceived residential property value by as much as 18 percent, in a study recently released by Swedish power tool maker Husqvarna.

In terms of return on investment, maintaining an attractive lawn and garden was shown to return $1.80 per dollar spent. For those who want to improve their home’s value but can’t afford to hire contractors for major interior repairs, garden improvements can be an affordable alternative.

Armed with the right tools, most homeowners are capable of tackling garden projects that can improve their property value, and at a relatively low cost. To get a better understanding of what lawn and landscaping equipment would be most beneficial to your yard, visit an outdoor power manufacturer website like www.husqvarna.com. Simply edging your yard with a string trimmer helps create a clean, finished look outdoors and can be achieved for less than $200.

While many Americans are reluctant to spend much on their yards – some 65 percent of people spent less than $400 on it annually – keeping return on investment in mind can help you make better smarter decisions. If you want to call in the pros, consider projects that are highly sought-after, like in-ground irrigation systems.

Those not sure where to start can look to the wide variety of gardening websites, television programs and magazines for inspiration and practical tips.

Some of the top-ranked garden attributes for improving home value included:

  • A well-maintained lawn
  • An inviting social area
  • Stone paths and walkways
  • Decorative trees, bushes and shrubs
  • Well-kept hedges
  • Nicely designed flower beds

Gardening season and the high real estate season coincide for a reason: Houses look their best surrounded by growing plants and blooming flowers. As the warmer months progress, remember that not only can investing in your garden give you a good return, it could also be the deciding factor in drawing a buyer to your property.

 

Is Your Home-Renovation Project Really Worth Doing?

home inspector atlantaMaybe you’ve watched one too many home improvement shows. Perhaps you’re still stinging from that holiday guest’s comment about how your kitchen countertop has seen better days. Or maybe you’re just really tired of the same old, same old every day.

Whatever the reason the remodeling itch has settled into your brain, before you bring in a contractor – or pick up a hammer – you should consider two important questions: How will you fund your project? And will it be worth it in the end?

A little research and credit self-assessment can answer both questions. In addition to pulling your credit report to see how likely you are to qualify for good loan terms, you should consider the potential resale value of the improvement, how it will improve your life and if it will enhance your enjoyment of your home.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to evaluate the potential resale value. Kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding a deck, or finishing a basement or attic are all popular renovations because they upgrade the most-used rooms in the house or add living space.

In terms of resale value, here are some popular projects with high paybacks, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-2010 Cost versus Value Report:

* Adding an attic bedroom – 83.1 percent

* Adding a wooden deck – 80.6 percent

* Minor kitchen remodel – 78.3 percent

* Major kitchen remodel – 72.1 percent

* Basement remodel – 75.4 percent

* Bathroom remodel – 71 percent

Keep in mind that smaller remodels, while costing less than major jobs, can still have a major impact on how your home looks and feels. For example, simply replacing that old front door with a steel version can cost around $1,000 but offers a return on investment of nearly 129 percent, according to the report.

Another factor to consider when weighing the value of any remodeling project is how it will affect your quality of life in terms of financial security. It’s important to be sure the cost of the project won’t be a financial burden that detracts from your enjoyment of the results.

To help understand your current credit status and how it might affect your remodeling loan terms, obtain a copy of your credit report. Websites like CreditReport.com can provide you with a credit report with your paid monitoring membership. Obtaining your credit report and monitoring your credit can help you identify any inaccuracies or errors that might lead to higher interest rates, and also catch and resolve potential fraud quickly. You’ll also find tips on the website for understanding your credit, and tools such as a credit score tracker to help you anticipate how certain financial decisions – like financing a remodel – might affect your credit.

Remodeling projects will likely remain popular as homeowners continue to stay put in a still-sluggish real estate market, experts agree. With some careful planning, budgeting, research and credit insight, you can ensure you reap the most financial and personal value for whatever renovation you decide to undertake.

Cost-Effective Ways To Boost Curb Appeal

atlanta home inspectorAnyone who’s ever bought, sold or even just looked at a house can tell you first impressions matter. A house can be filled to the rafters with luxury touches, but if it lacks curb appeal, few potential buyers will ever step in the door to see what’s inside.

With real estate sales still sluggish across the country, curb appeal is taking on a new meaning for many homeowners. While an attractive home exterior can still boost potential resale value, homeowners are also looking at curb appeal as a way to enhance the enjoyment of their homes. Giving the exterior of their home a face lift not only makes the house stand out on the street, it also allows homeowners to “move up” without the expense of remodeling or moving.

Fortunately, many curb appeal-enhancing projects can be cost-effective too, yielding significant improvements for a modest investment.

“Projects can be inexpensive and simple while adding tremendous value and curb appeal,” says Mark Clement, HGTVPro.com how-to expert and host of “MyFixItUpLife.”

If you’re looking for low-cost, high-impact ways to create or improve curb appeal, consider these ideas:

* Make small improvements that have a big impact. Simple touches like repainting the front door, window trim and shutters, planting flowers, and switching outdated light fixtures can create a whole new look. Plus, these simple improvements have the advantage of being scalable. Instead of re-siding the entire house, you can freshen the facade by tackling smaller portions, such as a porch or garage. Later, if you want to continue the improvement, you can re-side other areas of the facade.

* Choose materials that are durable and stylish. Skimping on materials may seem like a great way to save money, but you could end up spending more in the long run if you have to redo a job that was first done with lower quality materials. Purchase the best quality materials you can afford – not only will they look better than cheaper goods, they’ll last longer and provide more enjoyment and value.

* Dress up the exterior with accents. Adding touches like accents to gables, posts and beams, drain chains in place of downspouts or planter boxes made with beautiful, sustainable materials like Western Red Cedar is a great way to improve curb appeal while stretching your budget. Quality materials retain their beauty over time better than cheaper materials.

* Illuminate. Light is a powerful accent, and, thanks to the availability of easy-to-install solar lights, you don’t need to pay a professional to light your landscape. Solar lights – readily available in home improvement stores – provide decorative illumination to driveways, walkways and gardens.

* Introduce shade. Arbors and trellises adorned with flowering vines are not only beautiful in warm months; they’re a great way to add areas of shade to your landscape. They can even be used to block the scorching heat from the afternoon sun from parts of your home’s interior. Building an arbor or trellis is well within the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers. For free ideas and plans, visit www.wrcla.org.

* Add a splash of color to your landscape with low-maintenance plantings that require little attention. As an added “green” step, consider plants that require less water, too. Your local home extension office can help you identify what types of plants will grow best in your region.

* Think “green.” Whenever possible, choose materials that are truly sustainable, like Western Red Cedar. Sustainable materials are ones that have been harvested and/or manufactured through methods designed to reduce their impact on the environment.

“Natural, long-lasting materials, like real wood, return beauty, durability and value,” Clement says.

Packing And Transporting Tips For Do-It-Yourself Movers

home inspector atlantaThe economy is moving again – and so are Americans. About 38 million people moved to new locations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Warm weather locales seem to be top-of-mind these days.

“The patterns we’re seeing through 2010 consumer truck rentals mirrors what the Census Bureau reported in 2009 – folks are moving out of the Midwest and Northeast and into sunny markets,” says Don Mikes, vice president of truck rental for Penske. “Seven out of the top 10 moving destinations last year were in southern or warmer climates.” The company’s top 10 moving destinations for 2010 were:

1. Atlanta
2. Dallas/Fort Worth
3. Phoenix
4. Orlando
5. Chicago
6. Houston
7. Seattle
8. Denver
9. Sarasota, Fla.
10. Charlotte, N.C.

If you’re planning a move to any state this year, Penske, who has been renting out moving trucks to do-it-yourselfers for more than 40 years, offers some advice:

* For long-distance moves, a moving truck is a must. But even if you’re just moving across town, renting a moving truck makes sense. Making multiple trips can be exhausting – not to mention the gas you’ll use and the greenhouse gases your vehicle will emit on multiple trips. Reserve your truck at least two weeks in advance of moving day – Penske guarantees a truck for every reservation. A 12- or 16-foot truck works for moving a few large items or the contents of a small condo or apartment. For guidance on larger moves and which truck to choose, visit www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

* Pack in increments. Start early to avoid the stress of last-minute rushing. It’s OK to leave a box open in case you need something you’ve packed inside it; it’s much easier to tape a box shut on moving day than it is to pack at the last moment.

* Buy sturdy boxes in a variety of sizes, along with foam and bubble wrap to protect fragile items. You’ll also need a good supply of packing tape and markers for sealing boxes.

* Make sure you have moving blankets and hand trucks on moving day to make the process easier.

* Purge before packing. It’s much easier to throw away, donate, sell or give away items that you don’t need than it is to pack them and move them. As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t used something in the past 12 months – or it’s still packed in a box from the last time you moved – you can probably get rid of it.

* Label boxes as you pack. First, list the room that the contents belong in, and, if necessary, a few details such as “glass,” “fragile” or “dishes.” As you load the truck, try to keep boxes from each room grouped together.

* Load the heaviest items onto the truck first to create a sturdy base, then start stacking on top.

* Moving trucks are taller, wider and heavier than the passenger vehicles you are used to driving. They require more distance to stop. Be extra careful driving your moving truck, especially after it’s loaded. Be aware of low-hanging tree branches and building overhangs, and use caution when cornering. Park only in well-lit areas and keep the rear door padlocked and the passenger compartment doors locked.

Finally, create a travel bag for moving day and keep important paperwork, credit cards, identification, a change of clothes, beverages and snacks close at hand. You can find more moving tips at www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

Selling A House? Tips For Attracting Buyers With Good Scents

home inspector atlantaCan a potential buyer be compelled to make a big purchase if a pleasant background fragrance appeals to their senses and breaks down their defenses? Real estate agents and home sellers these days are widely banking on it.

Ambient fragrancing started to trickle into the real estate market years ago, with savvy real estate agents baking cookies or cinnamon rolls in the homes they were showing to create a comforting, deliciously scented atmosphere meant to entice buyers. If you’re trying to sell a home in today’s challenging real estate market, you may have tried this technique. However, with the excess of available homes, you may need to think a bit more creatively to make your home stand out.

The essential oils that are used in the practice of aromatherapy offer a more practical and potent way to use scent marketing to move buyers to feel good about a property. Using even tiny amounts of familiar, tempting aromas like cinnamon, clove, vanilla and orange, can fill a whole house with pleasant ambient fragrance. An added bonus is that essential oils are all-natural and distilled from plants. They are less likely to elicit the kind of adverse reactions that harsh synthetic fragrances do.

Aromatherapy expert Tom Havran has several ideas to help you sell your home. He crafts blends for Aura Cacia, purveyor of 100 percent pure and natural essential oils and aromatherapy products. A passionate expert on the properties of essential oils, he has been crafting essential oil blends for 15 years. Learn more at www.auracacia.com.

His first suggestion is an easy and sleek way to create a warm, comforting atmosphere that can help put potential property buyers at ease.

Vanilla amber aroma crystals. Havran recommends using vanilla essential oil blended with jojoba for this first recipe.

Ingredients:
1 cup coarse-grained, chunky sea salt
1 teaspoon jojoba or grapeseed oil (just enough to make the salts glisten and gleam)
25 drops vanilla precious essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops sweet orange essential oil

Directions: Mix salt and oils, pour into a decorative dish or bowl and set out on a table. Placing the crystals in a warm sunny window or near a heat register will help diffuse the delicious aroma throughout the room. Stir in additional essential oils to boost the scent as needed.

Fresh flowers and bergamot vacuum powder. This light and transparent floral/citrus scent will create a cheerful, friendly and clean atmosphere to impress visitors. Since you need to vacuum before each property showing anyway, this is a great way to turn the chore into a smart real estate marketing move.
 
Ingredients:
1 cup baking soda
35 drops bergamot orange essential oil
5 drops ylang ylang or neroli (orange flower) essential oil

Directions: Mix baking soda and essential oils in a canister and lightly sprinkle over carpets, then vacuum.

Because essential oils are so concentrated, a little goes a long way. An initial investment in a small 1/2 ounce bottle of oil will provide you with enough applications to conduct dozens of open houses.

Using essential oils to craft your own bit of psychological scent marketing might provide a good return on a small investment. Aromatherapy may give you that much-needed unique and surprising edge on the competition.

Courtesy of ARA

Four Simple Projects To Help Sell Your Home Fast

home inspector atlantaYou may have noticed an increase in the number of “for sale” signs around your neighborhood, and for good reason: Studies show that home listings increase this time of year, as homeowners want to get their families settled before the next school year begins. If you are thinking of selling your home in today’s tough market, the experts recommend completing a few projects that will help your home look its best and stand out from the crowd.

According to Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s home expert, these projects don’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. “There are four easy and inexpensive projects that I recommend every homeowner complete before they stick that ‘for sale’ sign in their front yard.”

Improve curb appeal

Curb appeal is, quite simply, what prospective buyers first see when their car pulls up to your house. According to the National Association of Realtors, half of all buying decisions are based on curb appeal. “Your mother’s advice holds true here – nothing is more important than a good first impression,” says Manfredini. “Strong curb appeal will help set a positive tone for the rest of the house.”

Walk out to your sidewalk and take a look at the front of your house, checking for anything that needs to be cared for. A good first step is to update your exterior hardware, including house numbers, which often become dirty and dated over time. Today there are several great options on the market that incorporate some color and style, like Hy-Ko’s Large Ceramic Tile Address Plaques, which can be customized to your home.

Another quick project is to replace your mailbox. Choose one with a more modern, sleek design such as the Postmaster Amboy Mailbox in black, which looks great on any house and is easy to install. This updated fixture, although small, can do wonders for the overall curb appeal of your home.

Create a luscious lawn

Green, lush lawns always receive a lot of attention. Help your lawn reach its full potential by providing it with the proper fertilizer and grass seed. “My best lawn care advice is to use Scott’s Super Turf Builder with Summerguard,” says Manfredini. “Beyond helping your lawn grow, this product absorbs water so you don’t need to water as often. As an added bonus, it also helps to controls pesky insects.”

Manfredini also recommends making sure that your lawn receives between one and one and a half inches of water per week, including rainfall.

Groom your garden

Nothing compliments a great lawn more than a well-manicured garden. After the cold winter months, gardens and flowerbeds can be left looking unruly. Prospective buyers are searching for outdoor spaces where they can enjoy spending time, so it’s important that you tidy up these areas.

An easy way to do this is by spreading new mulch. Traditional mulch is a great option, but if you are looking for something that will last, consider Rubberific Rubber Mulch, which will last for 10 years.

“Homeowners should also trim and prune shrubs and trees to create a refined look,” says Manfredini. “A ‘jungle theme’ makes your house look unkempt.” This project is made simple with Black & Decker’s easy-to-use Electric Hedge Trimmer.

Finally, give your garden a pop of color by planting inexpensive annuals, such as marigolds and snapdragons.

Spruce up with paint

Now that the exterior of your home is looking great, spend some time on your interior. “Interior painting is one of the most inexpensive and simple projects that homeowners can do,” says Manfredini. “And, it makes a huge difference!”

Choosing neutral paint colors over bold ones won’t distract prospective buyers and will help them visualize making the space their own. Equally important to the color is the type of paint you select. Ace Paint recently launched a new paint called Royal Finest, which is the first paint to combine ultimate stain resistance and environmental friendliness. Royal Finest is made with Scotchgard Protector from 3M, so stains and scuffmarks wipe right off. It is also low-odor, low VOC and GREEN WISE certified, so you know it’s eco-friendly.

For more tips and advice on updating your home, visit www.acehardware.com or stop by your neighborhood Ace Hardware store.

Courtesy of ARA

Create Curb Appeal With Easy Home Projects

home inspector atlantaWhether you’re selling your home and want the best price, or you just want to be the envy of the neighborhood, creating “curb appeal” can be very rewarding. And you’re confident you know what constitutes great curb appeal – siding, windows, doors and a lawn that are all in good shape. But is that all you have to think about when it comes to curb appeal?

Not so, says Gordon Blickle of Gardner-Gibson, a manufacturer of driveway, brick and patio sealers. “Driveways and sidewalks are the entryways to the home,” he notes. “If they’re in great shape, you’ve got a strong first impression. If not — you’ve said a lot about the quality of the home.”

Unfortunately, driveways are often overlooked, spoiling an otherwise manicured landscape. Unless the drive is severely cracked, crumbling or poses a safety hazard, there’s no need to spend thousands on removing and replacing it. There are easier ways to makeover a tired driveway and boost the curb appeal of a home.

Beautify your blacktop

Don’t let problems go unaddressed until it’s too late. Old pavement left untreated will crack and crumble, becoming an expensive replacement. But a new coat of driveway sealer can restore it to like-new beauty. Refresh old, worn blacktop driveways and fill small cracks with fast-drying Black Jack Ultra-Maxx 1000, a flexible, long-lasting filler and sealer with a 10-year guarantee.

Showcase your home at night

Low-voltage or solar landscape lighting can create a softly lit path to border the driveway. In addition to creating a pretty landscaping effect, the lighting can improve visibility and decrease the chances someone will accidentally drive onto the lawn.

Make walkways more welcome

Stains on sidewalks and entries from dirt, mold, tree sap, and other outdoor invaders create an unattractive first impression. Clean the walk with an outdoor cleaner like Driveway Kleen, a garden-safe spray solution that attaches to a garden hose. To protect stains from coming back, coat the sidewalk and adjacent pavers or edgers with Krystal Brilliance, a waterbased clear crylic sealer.

Add greenery to your scenery

Instead of having to keep the edge of the lawn trimmed against the driveway, create a “buffer” strip with a decorative rock garden or plant flowers along the path to create an inviting drive up to the home. If the driveway is shared with a neighbor, plant shrubs and flowers between  them to create a small privacy wall.

Border on amazing

Edge the driveway with pavers in colors complementary to the home and pavement. Use pavers in different shapes and sizes to create an interesting focal point and frame the driveway.

“Consider your front yard the ‘arms’ that welcome visitors into a home,” says Blickle. “Without a warm welcome, guests and potential buyers may just keep walking.”

For more information and ideas on how to protect driveways from the elements, visit www.gardner-gibson.com.

Courtesy of ARA