Category Archives: Homeowner Tips

Not All Home Improvements will Help Your Homes Property Value

Chairs on patio and porch at luxury hotel

If you want to prepare your home in thoughts of selling in the near future or making the right choices for resale even further down the road, think twice about doing the following home improvements:

1) TURNING YOUR GARAGE INTO A MAN CAVE – Believe it or not, that awesome hide-away for the kids or the football game can hurt the value if you are loosing your garage. It did happen to one of my sellers in the past. First they took away the garage for more living space (even though they left the door in). This change took away value mostly because it no longer conformed to the neighborhood even though the living space increased. The garage was in the basement and sometimes below grade finished living space does not always get a return on its cost (according to an appraiser I know). This property took a hit on the appraised value and my clients actually had to lower the price for the buyer to cover it. Not to mention the price hit but not having a garage is less attractive to buyers. So so many people want a garage, especially in Pennsylvania.

2) INSTALLING A DECK OR PATIO (This is something that you are better of doing) – If all your neighbors have a deck and you don’t that is typically a reason for the appraiser to give you a hit in value. You don’t confirm to the neighborhood comps. Who does not love outdoor space, anyway? I had a house that had trouble selling and I can tell you a buyer bought the neighbors listing because it was cheaper and had a deck. It was the same square footage. Ouch!

3) DONT REMOVE OR COMBINE BEDROOMS – If you have gone from 4 to 3 and have the same space, keep in mind you would be comparing to 3 bedroom homes which are typically lower in price thus loosing value. Square footage does not always matter. It has been my experience that buyers want a 4 bedroom rather than a 3. Alway keep that extra bedroom if you have it. It will generally give you more value.

4) DONT REMOVE CLOSETS – If you can make more or make a walk-in closet. If you remove a closet, the room may not always be considered a bedroom. Women today have so many clothes, and even some of those men do. Closets are always a perk!

5) REMOVE WALLPAPER – Wallpaper may not decrease the value on an appraisal but it will make the buyers walk 99 percent of the time and the home harder to sell. Wall paper is an immediate check list for work and it is a bear to get off no matter how you do it. It is very hard to change and get to the popular neutral colors . I have literally had people refuse to go into a house because the every wall in the home was wallpapered. There have been sellers that have issued credits to have wallpaper removed and have removed it all. Be wise.

6) POUR A NEW FRONT WALK – I have sold new construction homes and one builder in particular gives the buyer temporary pavers to start for the front walk way. The pavers can look nice if they are cared for. After a couple of years they often need to be reset and adjusted if you are keeping them. I asked an appraiser if the value increased if the seller poured new walk way for $5000. The answer was no. There is still a walk way just made of something else or replaced with different material. If it was a high end finish then maybe an increase in value.

Talk to your real estate agent before you do anything major if you are even considering moving. You will be glad you did.

What is a Short Sale?

SP_EWP_029-300LA short sale is when the lien holder bank takes less than the debit owed on the property. Often times better than a foreclosure (but not always). When a homeowner can no longer pay their mortgage for reasons such as job loss, divorce, health status or death of an adult family member, or even a job transfer with the housing market not baring a sale price to cover what is owed on the property. These are the same reasons you run into foreclosures.

The seller usually has to call the bank and request to go through this process. This can be before the home is listed or while it is listed. The home owner often times has to prove hardship and explain reasons for needing to do this.

A short sale will effect your credit, but from what I have been told from mortgage lenders that I work with is that a foreclosure hits your credit worse and for a longer time than a short sale. Many sellers want to get the challenging situation behind them. Often times you can recover quicker in a few years and go on to re-purchase a new home if you get things cleared up and work on your credit.

In the transactions that I have processed, the some of the banks often want to get 85% of the appraised value at minimum for the home. There is also a lot of paper work for the sellers and the buyers need to be patient. I have had short sales take 6 weeks and even up to 5-6 months. The processing time can depend on the co-operation of the buyers and sellers and even the bank processes. The larger the bank the more red tape.

If a seller is going into bankruptcy, it is advised to speak to your lawyer. Often times, a short sale is not worth the effort if the property is going to be included in a bankruptcy.

If you are considering a short sale, you need an agent that has the patience to work through the process with you. One of the nice things about the short sale process is that some banks have actually paid my seller’s to close as a short sale rather than let the home go into foreclosure. It was not the case with all situations and all amounts were different. So the bank is rewarding the seller to avoid foreclosure.

Should I Purchase New Appliances Before Listing My House or Offer a Buyer an Allowance?

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As a listing agent, I help home seller’s with tips with getting their home ready. This can be answered many ways and often times depends on the situation.

Here are some key points:

1) If your appliances are older and/or are not in style, and not well cared for, this can make a bad impression. As a seller, you can be seen as someone who does not take care of things. A buyer may think “if the seller does not take care of this or that, what else is lacking that I cannot see or did not notice?

2) Replacing the appliances give you more control over the costs. You may find an amazing deal for a new refrigerator. Often times a buyer would want probably an allowance for more than list price or try to get an upper-end appliance out of the deal. Can you blame them? So in replacing an appliance, you are keeping control of the situation. A new or updated appliance gives the buyers more of a value that they can see for the investment. You have heard the term, “Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.” ?

3) If you replace the appliance(s) then you are causing the home to show better and giving the buyer a chance to see what the appliance is going to look like. This gives it more of a fresh new feeling. Don’t give the buyers a reason to turn away from the deal.

4) When any buyer purchases a home, there are things people have to buy to make things work in the home for them. Also if a buyer has to put appliances on their to buy list, it substantially increases the out of pocket costs after just buying a home.

5) In the Standard Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales Agreement today, the range/oven is a standard inclusion in the home. If you are taking the range, then you have to write in that it is excluded and then this choice sticks out like a sore thumb.

6) Seriously consider trying to at least leave all kitchen appliances. I had a seller that insisted on taking her brand new stainless steel refrigerator. Honestly, I thought that was a selling detraction since the buyers were seeing it and not getting to have it.

7) When I sell “first time home buyers” a home, they often don’t have the extra cash to purchase these appliances, so leaving it will make the home sell better for that type of buyer. Leaving all appliances lets the buyer roll these costs into the mortgage.

This question can also be applied to other subjects including flooring More on that another time.

Change Flooring on a Budget

Today buyers are really paying attention to the flooring in homes. You would not believe how many buyers want to rip out all the carpet (even if it is nicer carpet). I had one buyer who was able to replace all the flooring in their home and it looked amazing. But not all buyers can afford this, especially first time home buyers.

So I was searching around and found some great options if you have vinyl or linoleum or even a beat up floor that needs refinished but really is at the ends of its life.  There may be this fabulous estate but very dated, you want it but don’t have the money to change out (right now) that old vinyl that is in great shape but from the 70’s or 80’s.   Why not try paint? It sounds crazy but check out this article, I came across.

 

 

Helpful Hints to Get Your Home Ready To Sell

Before choosing to update your home and make it appealing for a sale, a seller should seriously consider if that improvement will re-coup all the costs. Yes, buyers today want updated features, and many do not want to do the work themselves. Most likely if you over do it, you will be loosing money in today’s market.

“In an ideal real estate market, that would add value, but in today’s market, expensive pre-sale renovations, for the most part, aren’t worth it. The numbers bear this out: In general, a home remodel will cost quite a bit more than you’ll get back when you sell; remodels done in 2010 will only recoup 60% of their price when the house is sold, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2010 Remodeling Cost vs. Value survey, done in partnership with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).” – RISMedia

Kitchens and bathrooms are still what attract buyers. So yes, that is where you would want to start. Here are some tips on what to do and not do if you are getting your home ready to sell.

In the Kitchen

  • Costly professional-grade cook’s appliances should be avoided. If buyer might enjoy the professional grade he might actually prefer a rival brand or maybe the buyer is not a chef.
  • Have your appliances serviced so that they are in excellent working order. If your appliances are seriously out dated, you may want to consider replacing them. Buyers do love stainless appliances – a great selling point for sure. Many times you can find new appliances on amazing clearances because it is old stock. One time I found an oven at Sears for 90% off.
  • Consider skipping replacing your kitchen cabinets even if slightly outdated. This can be a “taste-specific” issue and very subjective. If you chose light cabinets and they buyer prefers dark wood, then you might loose them over and improvement.
  • Think about refacing the cabinets if they are extremely outdated. You could have a company come in for under $2000 and this is a great investment in comparison to at price new kitchen.
  • Granite and marble should be avoided as a pre-sale upgrade. It is too costly. With so many different options, it will be tricky to find something that will please a large number of buyers.
  • Hiring a professional cleaning company is a wonderful idea. Have you ever had your car detailed. Well detail your kitchen and even the rest house. It will not go unnoticed.
  • Do touch up your the paint on the trim and the walls. Hopefully you still have some left over paint or that swatch to get more.

In the Bath

  • Don’t invest in big ticket “taste specific” items like the kitchen. Skip expensive tub and shower upgrades as they are a matter of taste.
  • Go a ahead and replace dated fixtures in the bath, sink and even lighting. Oh yes, and please get rid of that brown, green or pink toilet. Buyers don’t like to be forced to decorate around the color of the toilet. Another idea is replace your small shower head with a rainwater style to give the shower a spa feel.
  • Do try to brighten up the vanity. It is affordable to add a large mirror and lights.

Photo Copyright 2006-2011 – Amy S Myers

Tips for Decluttering Your Home

With all the hustle and bustle of life today, a home can easily get cluttered. Things that get can get forgotten sometimes are organizing cabinets, closets, and other storage areas. We just all need to take the time to put things back where they belong.

The ultimate goal is to have a tranquil – place to unwind and escape from stress. But if you have a cluttered home that may be difficult. Take a look at some easy tips for your home to get started on cutting the clutter:

1) Be realistic by setting goals. If you try to clean up your house in a hour or two that may only cause frustration. Start with one room at a time.

2) Come to terms with possessions that may have an emotional attachment ( a weakness for me ). It could be tough on letting go of some of those family items that have been passed down but other things can be thrown away, donated or sold.

3) Remove the clutter that is out in the open. Try to keep photo displays to a minimum, as well as artwork and knickknacks. If you have heavy curtains, try getting something lighter. Less clutter will make your rooms feel more spacious and open.

4) Alphabetize your DVDs, CDs and video games. You will thank yourself next time you go looking.

5) Store your seasonal clothing elsewhere when not in season. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn it in 6 months donate it or sell it.

6) Control your mail and newspapers. Throw them away as soon as possible. Keep important items in a place that won’t be bothered. I find that I have to grab the bills from my mail immediately, because on a previous occasion, they have gotten to the middle of a pile that got moved to a closet and was never seen again until the late bill came.

Start with these items and you will be on your way to clutter free living.Â

Photo Copyright – Amy S Myers 2007-2011

Sellers: Great Ways to Make a Room Look Larger

Making a room look larger than it really is, is an art – an art that anyone can do. It is simpler and easier than you might think just to change some little things that can make a big difference.

1. Don’t use bright or dark colors for the color scheme of a room, used white, pastels and neutrals for that larger feel.

2. Use s single color and select different shades and textures to fill the room.

3. Lighting is key in make a space open up. Try using spot lighting or even a torchiere lamp to bounce some light off the ceiling. Skylights and solar tubes can be excellent for adding natural light to a room.

4. Keep a limit on the accessories in the room. This will make the room feel less cluttered.

5. Make sure colors on the ceilings and floor are light. Use light colored wood and carpet for that open feel.

6. Add wall mirrors to increase the largeness of the room. This reflects images, light and color. Double the size of a room by adding mirror tiles on a full wall.

7. Consider using a love seat instead of a full size sofa in a smaller area. Place furniture closer to the wall when not in use.

8. A single painting works better than a group buy giving a bigger feeling.

9. Using glass in any kind of table will give the feeling of more openness.

Pricing Your Home Properly

The number one reason a home sells is for the price.  How can pricing come into play when selling your home?

1)Â Compare other homes in the neighborhood by gathering data on recent homes sold generally in the last 90 to 180 days.

2) Consider Short sales and Foreclosures when pricing. Sometimes these are sold below market value but can bring comparable prices down.

3) Negotiate with Decisiveness. Buyers are not interested in negotiations where talks go back and forth.   They are more savvy and willing to walk away if things get to picky.

4) If your house is not selling it could be the price so know when to drop the price.  Buyers will not even look and even loose interest if the price is too high.

Remember your first 30 days on the market are the most critical. That is when you home gets the “most” attention because it is a new listing. So if you have it priced very competitively and it is a great house, you may command list price. I have seen it happen.

Sellers, How to Get Ready for that Home Appraisal

Whether you are selling, re-financing or taking a home equity loan, you will be having an appraisal. It is a good idea to have the house clean and have access to all harder to reach areas. I have some tips that will help you.

Here are some things to assist when the appraiser stops in:

1) Allow 30 to 60 minutes for the appraiser to go in and inspect the property as well as take photos. The appraiser will also measure the home, garage and any other outbuildings.

2) Make a list ahead of time of things that you would like to improve or have ready prior to the appraisal. This will help you have better results.

3)Â If you have a floor plan or blue print of your home, it can come in handy when trying to verify measurements.

4)Â Write up a list that includes improvements you have made to the property since you have owned it and how much you spend on those items.

5) Make sure the appraiser has access to all spaces on the property including attic and crawl space areas.

6) Point out key features of the home that you feel give it some value. There may be some things the appraiser could miss.

7)Â Provide information on last year’s tax assessment.

8) Be able to tell the appraiser when the house was built and when improvements were done. Such as what year the roof was put on.

9)Â If you know of some recent comparables in your neighborhood, have those available.