Tag Archives: amy s myers

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.

 

 

Holiday Time, a Good Time or Bad Time to Sell Your Home?

In most cases, you would think that the holiday time is a bad time to sell a home. “Sixty percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because it’s a good time to sell, according to a new survey conducted by Realtor.com.” – Daily Real Estate News, December 5, 2011.

According to Daily Real Estate News, Almost 80 percent of agents who were survey said that buyer who are out during the holidays are more serious. Over 60 percent of agents said that because there are less homes on the market that there is not as much competition for the seller since less homes are generally for sale during that time.  Interestingly enough, almost 20 percent of agents said that the homes felt more cozy due to the cold weather.

During the winter season photographs the the property are even more important for the sale of the home according to the interview by Realtor.com. Sellers don’t tend to offer open houses as much during the holidays, therefore relying more on the photos and videos. This also helps the buyer bypass listings that do don’t interest them.

Helpful Tip: Find an agent that takes good photographs. I am a photographer on the side and I have had many people remark on the photos and how the photos got them to look at the property.

Photo Copyright 2006 Amy S Myers

PA New Construction Does Not Require Sprinklers

Consumers who are building a new single family home in Pennsylvania are now not required to install a sprinkler system. This just came in from the PA Association of Realtors:

“Sprinklers no longer a mandate in Pennsylvania!

Governor Tom Corbett today signed his first bill, House Bill 377 which removes the sprinkler mandate on all newly constructed one- and two-family homes. The new law is Act 1 of 2011.

Now that sprinklers are a consumer choice, builders must offer a buyer the option of installing sprinklers. Builders must also provide the buyer with information made available by the State Fire Commissioner on the possible benefits of installing a sprinkler system.

Among other things House Bill 377 will also change the codes adoption process in Pennsylvania and require increased standards for fire protection of flooring.

As of January 1, 2010, sprinklers are mandated in newly constructed townhomes. Act 1 will not change this requirement.”

Believe it or Not . . .

Today, I took an investor to see a home on the out skirts of Pittsburgh. We new it was going to be a rough one. Check out the strange photos I took on my cell phone. The house was built into a hill and it even touches the stone wall. This can be good. Also, it appeared that someone had bought it to maybe flip at some point and had done some strange remodeling.

Medicine cabinet by the toilet. ??? There was one by the sink too.

Looked like in this photo and below they built this part of the house around a falling stone wall.

The buyer decided to pass.

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

Is this a Good Time to Buy a Home? Yes and Here’s Why . . .

Today is one of the best times to go for the American Dream of home ownership or upgrade if you need to expand to a larger place. Here are key points to keep in mind.

1. Low Interest Rates. Interest rates are still hovering at historic lows. This means that you can qualify for more house for your money than you may if rates shoot up. If you wait, you could be priced out of a home that is at the top of your comfort range if rates increase. No one knows how long rates will stay low.   If you are on the fence about buying this is definitely a reason.

2. Mortgage Interest Deduction: Currently home mortgage is deductible on your taxes saving you money.

3. Affordability: Low interest rates along with recently falling prices in some areas have given buyers even more of a reason to buy. Price is the number one reason a home sells.

4. Paying Towards Ownership. Each payment you make on your own home goes towards your future equity. You are paying yourself instead of the Landlord.

5. Appreciation: Besides paying toward ownership you have the opportunity to get more value as the equity as your home value increases. So, in most cases, you will gain more value in staying in your home longer.

6. Home equity: As you build home equity, you gain value by being able to borrow against it for repairs and improvements.

7. Stability: Owning a home builds stronger communities, people take pride in their homes and neighborhoods and get involved in their community.

8. Monthly Payments: Once you have paid off your 15, 20, or 30 year mortgage, you will be free of that monthly payment. You will still be paying property tax, insurance and some maintenance.  In most cases, reduction in monthly obligation will be less than what you would be paying a landlord.

Here is a photo of one of my puppies, to share from the February 2010 blizzard, since the snow season is upon is. We can hope we don’t get that much this year.

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.

Shop Around Before Selecting a Mortgage

You shop around when buying a house, so you should seriously consider shopping around for your mortgage. If you want to get a great deal on the house, you should also try to get the best deal possible on the mortgage. Here are some tips to help you in the process:

1. Shop for the best rate possible. Pay close attention to the points you will be charged. This can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

2. Ask the lenders to give you a good-faith estimate (GFE). This statement will itemized the closings costs for you. Ask the lender any questions you may have regarding any of the fees.

3. Prepayment Penalty. Make sure you do not have a prepayment penalty. Life changes and you may need to resell. In addition, you may want to refinance or pay additional or your principle loan amount.

4. Be comfortable with your lender. This can avoid closing time surprises. Make sure your lender is responsive and gets back to you in a timely fashion.

5. Find a lender that can work with your specific situation. Not all lenders know how to run all types of loans. Some can work with tough credit and some can’t. Some now how to run through state programs and some not. Ask specifically if they can help you with the kind of program you need. Ask multiple lenders these questions.

6. Ask how long your rate lock period is. Each lender has a different lock rate period for you to choose the rate. The lock length rate can vary from 30-90 days. Some lenders charge a fee if you want to change the rate once locked in. Interest rates may be increasing during the time you are applying for your loan. So keep a close eye on rates and ask your lender to assist you. They know the market’s rate history and trends well.

Never Think you Have Seen It All


Last evening I showed a couple a home. It sounded so wonderful. The home is probably about 3500 square feet or more on 4 acres on a dead end road in the country. Very few neighbors. It has a pool and about 2 acres are grass. The house had been added on to at one time. It appeared to have an in-law suite on the side. There were three kitchens in the house. The third being in what appeared to be a basement apartment. Lots of work needed to be done but maybe the place had some potential. The floor plan was so chopped up but looked so awesome from the outside.

So when we got to the upstairs the master bedroom, we found out that it had two bathrooms and one it shared with what the another bedroom connected to it (being captured). One things that did not make a whole lot of sense to me was that it had laundry hooks-ups in the middle of the master bedroom and the washer was still there. Now keep in mind the home had first floor laundry and there were no doors to the outside as if this was an apartment. Then we go into the next room connected to the master (that shares the second master bath) and there is a working, built-in, jacuzzi tub in the corner of this caputured bedroom.

I have included a rough sketch of the floor plan and some photos.