Making exterior improvements to your home before putting it on the market will draw more potential buyers once it is listed. This is known as improving your home’s ‘curb appeal’, and because first impressions are important, it may help ensure a quick sale. But the first thing you need to do is decide how much time and money you are willing to invest in presale improvements.
You can go as far as resurfacing the driveway or applying a fresh coat of paint. The good news is that you should be able to recover the cost of these larger improvements in the sale.
If you’d rather not invest so much time and money, smaller improvements can also do a lot to improve the curb appeal. Try adding colorful flowers to your landscaping or simply adding potted flowers to your doorway. Painting the front door an inviting new color may attract potential buyers. Even polishing your doorknob and putting out a new doormat can help make a favorable first impression.
Credit Cards (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
If you’re wondering where all your money goes, you’re not alone. Financial services company along with credit card management advisors surveyed more than 1,300 working people on their spending habits during the summer of 2012. Here’s some of what they discovered:
Rent/mortgage payments were cited by 83% of men and women as one of their top three monthly expenses. (Homeownership is also the single largest source of wealth for most Americans.) Credit card debt was a major expenditure as well, named by 28% of men and women. Car payments, on the other hand, weren’t in the top three lists of either males or females.
Only 38% of participants in the survey said they follow a monthly budget. Less than half said they didn’t know how much money they have available each month for discretionary spending. Among those who could name a figure, men tended to have more discretionary cash than women: $1,180 per month for men and $631 for women.
Tile is a durable, versatile addition to any home. But even the toughest tile can get spots and stains from time to time. Here are some ways to clean your tile:
- Remove mildew and make tiles sparkle by sponging with a solution of ammonia and water.
- For stubborn stains, apply a paste of scouring powder and water, and let it sit for five minutes. Scrub with a nylon scrubbing pad, rinse and wipe dry. Avoid using a brush with stiff bristles, which could scratch the surface of the tiles.
- to keep the grout joints on tile clean longer, wash with a solution of 1 to 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach in one quart of water. Dry thoroughly, and then apply an acrylic sealer or three coats of lemon oil. Let dry one hour between coats.
- If tiles have a dull film, wash them with a solution of vinegar and water. Polish with a towel.
You may not have time before your home goes on the market for all the home projects you’ve been putting off, but you should definitely make time for your floors.
Buyers looking at a home with hardwood floors want them to be in great shape, not warped, scratched or cracked. Home buyers will also notice cracked floor tiles in the bathroom, peeling vinyl flooring in the laundry room or stained wall-to-wall carpet in the bedroom. So it comes down to this: Start at the bottom and make sure your floors are in great condition. When it comes to tiles, go to your local hardware store for tubes of ointment that can lighten your grout. Your carpet might look much better with a professional steam cleaning, but if you have to replace it, choose a neutral color that will go with almost any type of decor.
For most homeowners, cleaning the gutters is near the bottom of the to-do list. But keeping your gutters clean can really save you a lot of headaches; overflowing gutters can damage roofs and wreak havoc on your foundation.
Keeping the water flowing properly isn’t as big a deal as you might think. And if you clean your gutters every six months, you’ll save yourself time and money.
According to www.hgtv.com, you can tell if a gutter needs cleaning by looking up at the gutter’s top, outside rim. If it is discolored, there’s a buildup and water is not flowing as it should.
* To clean the gutters, use a ladder. Make sure to be safe and cautious around power lines. If you fell unsafe or uncomfortable, hire a professional.
* There are several ways to clean gutter. One is to simply put on a pair of gloves and dig the debris out by hand and rinse it with your hose. Or you can use barbeque tongs or make a scoop by cutting a plastice, two-liter soda bottle.
* To dispose of the debris, hang a bucket on the ladder with a bungee cord or lay a tarp on the ground to catch the falling debris. When you’re done, just roll up the tarp and empty it into the trash.
Home insurance premiums rose 19% in 2011. In an analysis of 15,000 policies sold in the US in 2011, homeowners paid an average of $810 for their monthly home insurance premium in December 2011, up from an average of $682 in January 2011. On average, homeowners nationwide paid $128 more per year for new homeowners’ insurance than they did at the begining of 2011. However, some individual states fared worse. In Mississippi, Montana and New Mexico, new insurance policies in December 2011 had premiums that were 29% to 39% higher than those sold in January 2011. Consumers may be able to reduce premiums by shopping around and asking their insurance agent if they are eligible for discounts, such as a home-auto insurance package, which can provide substantial savings.
1. Accepting the buyer with the highest offer without regard to the other contractual terms.
2. Not properly handling multiple offer situations with multiple buyers.
3. Not properly handling back-up offers.
4. Entering into an agreement with no earnest money deposit from the buyer, or a very small amount.
5. Entering into an agreement before verifying the buyer’s financial ability to close escrow.
6. Not disclosing known material facts affecting value or desirability of the property.
7. Not providing the buyer with legally required disclosures.
8. Not obtaining the buyer’s written acknowledgment of disclosures.
9. Not considering whether to require the buyer to remove contingencies.
10. Not excluding items from the sale that the seller wants to keep.
A growing number of homeowners are focusing on using their home space more efficiently and personalizing it to suit their lifestyle, according to a survey by Better Home & Gardens. More than one-third of homeowners (38%) surveyed say they are spending more time planning design changes for their home, up from 33% a year ago, while 42% say they shop around for more deals and bargains before committing to a project, up from 40% who did so in 2011.
The survey finds that social media site such as Pinterest play a key role in the planning process for many homeowners who look to such sites for design inspirations, product reviews, creative ideas and solutions for using space. Consumers say they prefer a home with median square footage of 1791 square feet, down from 1,846 sq.ft. a year ago. Bonus rooms and media rooms are no longer as popular unless they have a multifunctional purpose.
More than half of homeowners (55%) as focusing their next home improvement project on style upgrades for countertops, flooring, faucets and fixtures, up from 50% in 2010. Projects to expand storage space and remodel the bathroom and kitchen also rank high.
(from May/June CRS magazine)
The stigma attached to buying a foreclosure seems to be fading. According to a new survey released by Realtor.com, nearly two-thirds of homebuyers (64.9 percent) say they are likely to buy a foreclosure compared to 25.3 percent who said the same in October 2009. A majority of buyers (92.1 percent) say they plan to live in these properties rather than use them as investments. Realtor.com attributes the increased demand for foreclosure properties to reduced supply of homes on the market, expectations of rising home prices and changing attitudes toward foreclosures.
However, many Americans remain concerned about the large number of foreclosures on the market. More than half (55.7 percent) worry that the 1.5 million backlogged foreclosures expected to be released by major lenders will drive down home values in their local markets. Midwesterners (62.2 percent) are more concerned than residents in the nation’s other three regions.
Foreclosure data varies considerably from one study to the next, but according to Realtor.com, foreclosures have declined 34 percent nationwide in the past 12 months. Still, most Americans say they have not seen improvement in foreclosure activity in their local markets. Nearly half of those surveyed believe the foreclosure situation is about the same today compared to a year ago. While 34.9 percent of Americans are concerned that they or someone they know will lose their home to foreclosure within the next year, that figure is far below March 2009 when 52.5 percent of Americans expressed this same concern
Great info from CRS Connect on-line newsletter
Simple and affordable do-it-yourself projects can greatly increase a home’s resale value, according to HomeGains annual home improvement and staging survey. The marketing company surveyed nearly 600 real estate professionals to discover which DIY home improvement projects five sellers the biggest return for their buck.
Here are the six projects under $1,000 (approx.) that made the list.
- Cleaning and decluttering. Remove any personal items, unclutter countertops, organize closets and make the home sparkling clean.
- Brightening. Clean all windows inside and out, replace old curtains, update lighting fixtures, and remove anything that blocks light from the windows.
- Smart staging. Rearrange furniture, bring in new accessories and furnishings to enhance rooms, incorporate artwork, and play soft music in the background.
- Landscaping enhancements. Punch up the home’s curb appeal in the front and back yards by adding bark mulch, bushes, and flowers and ensuring current plants and grass are well-cared and manicured.
- Repairing electrical or plumbing. Fix leaks under the sinks, remove any mildew stains, and ensure all plumbing is in good working condition.
- Replacing or shampooing dirty carpets. Steam-clean carpets, replace any worn carpets, and repair any floor creaks.
Excerpted from HomeGains 2011 Home Sale Maximizer Survey