Traffic Matters

Like taxes, traffic is a fact of life. So, when you’re shopping for a new home, consider how the road situation will affect your commute to work, access to shopping and attractions, and the ability to conveniently reach places you need to go.

After all, it’s difficult to enjoy your new home if you’re constantly sitting in traffic!

Ask your REALTOR® about known congested streets and intersections, school busing routes, and access to public transit.

Be Ready To Move

You’ve spent a lot of time shopping for the perfect property. You made an offer, held your breath and – hooray! – you got the home! But now you’ve realized that you have to move in four weeks – and you’re far from prepared.

Don’t add stress to what was otherwise a smooth process. Make sure you have these things in place well in advance:

A good real estate lawyer. Selecting the right lawyer can take time, so you don’t want to leave this task to the last minute.

A reputable moving company. Start looking into moving firms right away to ensure you pick one that’s reputable, timely and will do a good job.

A contractor. Your new home may require some repairs and renovations that you want to get done right away.

Insurance. This is an easy detail to overlook. Don’t. Insurance costs can vary widely, and you want to make sure you take the time necessary, well in advance of your move, to select the right policy from the right company.

Getting these things in place in advance of your move will make the entire process go more smoothly.

Home Renovations That Pay Off

There are two main reasons why homeowners invest in a home renovation or major redecorating project: They want to enjoy the results of the new kitchen, bathroom, flooring or other improvement they’ve made; and/or, they hope that the money they spend will come back to them – at least in part – when they sell their home.

So which projects are most likely to increase the resale value of a home? A story by Joanne Cleaver, featured on MoneyWatch.com last year, identified five renovation projects that give you the most bang for your renovation buck.

Floors. Old, scuffed or dated flooring tends to get noticed by home buyers, regardless of how well the rest of the room is decorated. New flooring – especially stone, ceramic tile and hardwood – can make any room look larger and more inviting.

Kitchen. When it comes to selling your home, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms. The more modern, new and spacious it looks, the faster your home will tend to sell. That’s why you can expect a pay back of up to 80% of the cost of a kitchen renovation.

Bathrooms. Who isn’t impressed by a new and gleaming bathroom with a big shower, modern faucets and other attractive décor? That’s why hotels spend so much time and money making their bathrooms look great. According to the Cleaver article, homeowners tend to get a pay back of up to 75% of the cost of a bathroom upgrade.

Closets. Any improvement that makes a closet look roomy and organized tends to result in a pay back of most of its cost. Even something as simple as installing a good closet organizer can have a dramatic effect.

Energy-saving upgrades. In this age of increasing energy costs and environmental concerns, home buyers are drawn to such features as energy-saving windows, lighting, thermostats and more.

Keep in mind that home improvements don’t just have an impact on the selling price of your home, they also help to sell your home faster.

Giving Buyers a Grand Entrance

The front door is usually the first feature of a house that buyers see and feel. How do you ensure it makes a grand first impression? That’s easy.

  • Put on a fresh coat of paint.
  • Replace worn or faded door handles and locks.
  • Install a brass kick plate at the bottom of the door.
  • Clean the exterior door frame. Make it shine.

These may seem like little things. But they can make a big difference to the first impression your house makes on potential buyers.

Inspect Your Walls Before You Sell

Say you’re trying to sell a used car. Imagine that it’s a desirable make and model. The mileage is low. Overall, it’s in great condition… except, that is, for the body. Unfortunately, there are a few areas where the paint is scratched and there are a couple of dents and rust spots too.

Are you going to have trouble selling that car? Probably. That’s because potential buyers will have trouble seeing past the condition of the body and appreciating the true value of the vehicle.

The same thing can happen when you’re trying to sell your home.

Everything about it could be wonderful, but if the paint on the walls is faded in spots, and there are dents, scruffs and holes, buyers may notice those things more than the other more important features of your property.

So it’s a good idea to inspect your walls to make sure they look great.

There are numerous products available at your local home improvement store for repairing gouges and holes. It’s a relatively easy do-it-yourself job.

Keep in mind that applying a new coat of paint not only makes the walls look like new, but also tends to brighten up the entire room.

Three Lists To Make When Selling Your Home

When you put your property up for sale, you want to make sure that potential buyers get all the information they need on the features of your home and its surrounding area. If, for example, a buyer doesn’t realize there is a great school just a couple of blocks away, he might cross your property off his shortlist. An effective way to make sure something like that doesn’t happen is to create three lists.

1: The “I’ll miss it” list.

Chances are, there are things about your home that you’re really going to miss when you move. It may be the spacious living room, ideal for entertaining. Or the nearby park with scenic trails, perfect for walking and biking. Or the large deck that has just the right combination of shade and sun to make spending time on it pleasant.

Whatever you’ll miss put it on the list! Chances are, those are features that will also interest buyers.

#2: The “Just the facts” list.

What are the facts about your property that a buyer needs to know in order to consider purchasing it? This may be a very long list including such items as total square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, property taxes, size of yard, and more. This list should also include special features such as finished basement, upgraded kitchen features, and local golf course.

#3: The “repairs and improvements” list.

Buyers are interested in the state of repair of your home, and in any improvements you have made to it. On this list, include all repairs you have done during the past three years and, if possible, attach receipts. It’s especially important to include anything that has been replaced, such as a furnace or roof shingles.

If you’ve done any major remodelling or renovations, include the details on those too.

Trash the Trash

In most communities, garbage day isn’t every week. So, if you show your house on day five or six, there’s going to be some accumulation! Here are some things you can do before a viewing to make sure this situation doesn’t trash a potential sale.

  • If possible, make sure all garbage containers, including waste paper baskets, are empty.
  • Since compost and cat litter bags can smell even when tied securely, put them in a covered bin in the garage or outside at the side of your house.
  • Check around your property for accumulated debris, such as old lumber. If you’ve been planning a trip to the dump someday, today is that day.

In addition, make sure garbage containers in the kitchen and bathroom have new plastic bag inserts. You may go through more than usual, but it will be worth it.

When Choosing a Fixer-Upper Makes Cents

Some renovations can significantly increase the market value of a home. Others can cost more than you’ll ever get back.

So, when choosing a “fixer-upper”, look carefully at the work that needs to be done.

General painting, and bathroom or kitchen renovations typically increase the resale value of a house. “Invisible” repairs such as plumbing, electrical, or heating systems do not.

Before you buy, work with your REALTOR® to develop a market value estimate of the house you are considering as though the renovations you’re contemplating are already complete.

If the math works, go for it. Buying a “fixer-upper” can be very rewarding.

Getting your Professional Team Together

When preparing to sell your home, you may need to hire several professionals in addition to your REALTOR®. You may consider a plumber to fix a dripping bathroom shower, a home inspector to make sure there are no “issues”, and an attorney to handle all the legal matters.

By hiring the right professionals, you will improve your chances of having everything go smoothly. You’re more likely to have your home sell quickly, and at the best possible price. Hiring the wrong professionals will have, well, the opposite effect!

How do you hire the right professionals?

Qualifications. Ask what specific degree, certification or training they’ve received. Many professionals in the home industry are licensed or certified by their respective professional or trade associations.

Experience. Since you’ll be relying on the skills, advice and insights of each professional you hire, you should make sure they have experience in the fields you need.

Reputation. Ask for client testimonials or references.

To Paint or Not to Paint

Painting the outside of your home traditionally takes more time and expense than a comparable area on the inside. You have to deal with ladders, more paint and, of course, the weather. So when preparing your house for sale, you don’t want to do any exterior painting unless it is really necessary.

How can you tell? Walk across the street and cast a critical eye on your house. Can you notice areas where the paint is chipped or faded? If so, then so will potential buyers. It’s worth your while to invest in getting a fresh coat of paint on these areas. The good news is that painting, whether on the exterior or interior, is the least expensive way to make your home look more attractive — and therefore more desirable to buyers.