Selling Your Home? Discover How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

With a little information and attention, expensive mistakes for the homeowner can be avoided.

Price

The single biggest mistake people make is setting the asking price too high. An amount suited both to the home and to the market conditions attracts the greatest number of prequalified buyers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a higher price in the end.

Home Staging

Houses not shown at their best are another source of lost profit. Act on any advice you are given about cosmetic changes and minor repairs.

A clean, tidy and sweet-smelling home goes without saying.

· Set viewing hours for the greatest accessibility to buyers. In a competitive market, people can easily go elsewhere and fall in love with another house.

· Don’t be home during the showings. Prospective buyers feel more comfortable raising concerns and poking about when the current owners are not present.

· Remove as many personal items as possible. The things that mark the house as yours interfere with the buyers’ abilities to imagine it as theirs.

Other Considerations

Sell before you buy to avoid loss of negotiating position at both ends. Plan for the move early, and pack as much as you can as soon as possible.

How to Show Your Home if You Have a Pet

Selling a home with a pet in residence can be a difficult undertaking.

Many home buyers – even those with pets of their own at home – can be put off by yours.

Pets Can Make Visitors Nervous

No one thinks of their own pet as scary. But even the mildest mannered cat or dog (not to mention snakes or mice!) can make a visitor nervous.

Perhaps the most common response from a home seller about the “threat” posed by their pet is denial: “Buffy is a sweetheart. She won’t hurt anyone.”

But no owner can be certain of how a pet will respond when strangers enter the home in their absence.

An unexpected reaction could frighten potential buyers away before they’ve even looked at your home.

Ask Friends for Help

The safest course of action is to remove a pet from the home while it is listed for sale.

Ask friends or family members to care for the pet, or board it at a nearby facility.

If this is not possible, put your pet into a carrier during showings and alert visitors not to disturb it.

Remove Stains and Odors

Buyers also frequently take issue with a pet’s impact on the cleanliness and condition of the home.

Pet stains, odors and damage are a big turn-off and can significantly decrease your home’s value in the market.

Use the Professionals

To help your home bring the highest possible price, remove stains and repair any damage your pet may have caused.

Consider having your home professionally cleaned, and have a friend verify that your home doesn’t have an objectionable odor.

Store pet accessories out of sight.

The goal: to create a positive first impression with potential buyers.

How to Conduct a Simple Home Energy Audit

If you’re remodelling your home, conduct an energy audit to determine what improvements can be made to make it more energy efficient. An energy-efficient home can save you money in the form of lower energy bills and can reduce negative impacts on the environment.

An energy audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate steps you can take to make it more efficient. You can perform the audit yourself or have a professional do it.

A professional energy audit incorporates extensive testing using specialized equipment and an assessment of residents’ behaviours to offer a thorough analysis. If you’re conducting the audit yourself, you’ll want to:

· Locate air leaks. Reducing drafts in a home will make it more comfortable while saving 5% to 30% on energy consumption.

· Inspect insulation. Large amounts of heat can be lost through walls and ceilings if insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum.

· Inspect heating and cooling equipment. This should be done at least annually (check the manufacturer’s recommendations).

· Examine lighting fixtures. Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your energy bill. Using lower wattage bulbs and switching to fluorescent lamps can help reduce your usage.

What Makes a Home Environmentally Friendly?

One of the hottest real estate trends in today’s market is green building, as home builders respond to an increasing demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendlier homes.

The focus is generally on energy conservation, the use of environmentally preferable products and materials, and making indoor environments healthier.

Green building offers many benefits. It can lower home energy bills; improve indoor air quality and comfort; reduce construction material costs; lower ongoing maintenance and operational costs; and reduce water usage.

Recent studies have shown that green homes are not significantly more expensive to build.

An environmentally friendly home will probably have:

1. Effective insulation – to ensure even temperatures throughout the home

2. Energy efficient windows – to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer and to protect furniture and flooring from the discoloring effects of the sun

3. Tight construction and ducts – to reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise and to improve indoor comfort and air quality

4. Efficient heating and cooling systems – to improve home comfort and use less energy

5. Efficient products – such as light fixtures and appliances with an energy-efficiency designation.

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

Location, location, location — goes the saying about what’s important in real estate.

Most home buyers start by looking for a suitable area. The following tips will help you find a neighborhood that feels like home.

Priorities

Set priorities about things that matter most to you and your family:

· Is safety a prime concern?

· Are you looking for vibrant nightlife?

· Do you need to live close to work?


The best purchase is usually a trade-off among several desirable elements.

Factors

These factors will help to illuminate a neighborhood’s style:

· Are there good local schools? Whether or not you have children, good schools increase property values.

· Is the area close to services such as hospitals, public transportation, shopping, parks, and recreational and cultural sites?

· How safe is it? Check with local police, and look in the newspaper for crime-watch statistics.

· Are people outside their homes, working in their yards or walking their dogs? Neighbors who interact with one another create a safer and more pleasant environment.

· Is the area popular? Ask your Realtor, and check the number of “for sale” and “sold” signs.

· What is the neighborhood’s price range? Have average property values gone up, gone down or stayed the same? Areas about to become trendy are often found on the fringes of highly desirable locations.

Is there vacant space nearby? What kind of development is planned for it?

Guidance

Real estate agents are a valuable source of inside information about how to distinguish two neighborhoods that seem alike. Contact me for the latest information about neighborhoods.

Vital Ideas to Make Moving Home as Easy as Possible

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. So here’s a quick guide to make it as painless as possible.

Decide what not to pack

Now’s a good time to declutter your life by deciding which items you don’t want to take with you. Decide what you want to give away, throw away, or sell.

Get packing materials

If you’re not using a professional mover, you’ll need to get some packing materials. Bookstores often have strong boxes they don’t want anymore — call on the day of a delivery to ask for them.

Draw a floor plan — and use labels

Create a plan of your new home that you can use as a guide throughout the moving process. Label each of your boxes according to this plan. And clearly list what’s in each of the boxes.

What to pack first

Pack things you don’t need often first. Books, out-of-season clothes, and memorabilia make good candidates to go into boxes right away.

Pack “essentials” boxes

Mark some boxes as “essentials” and put in them the things you need on your first night in your new home. Then you won’t waste time (and valuable energy) trying to find important things.

Food…and plants

Food, particularly from the freezer, isn’t easily stored, so try to use it up. Put plants in big plastic bags to avoid dirt spilling.

How to Use Paint to Make Your House More Saleable

One of the easiest ways to freshen up your home is with paint. If you’re selling, painting your interior walls can give a great return on investment — a much higher selling price for little investment on your part.

If you’ve just bought a home, giving your house a new paint job is the quickest way to make it feel yours.

Repair blemishes

If you’ve got cracked or peeling paint, you’ll certainly want to repaint before you put your house on the market. Tired paint makes buyers think the house hasn’t been well maintained.

Tone down your color scheme

While the colors in your home might appeal to you personally, it’s important if you are selling your home that they appeal to the widest market possible. So that means avoiding bright, unusual colors and changing colors that were fashionable a few years ago but now look dated.

The safest bet is neutral tones. Avoid white in most situations, as this color can look clinical, and instead choose beiges and earth tones. Don’t feel the need to use the same color throughout — choose shades that match with your furniture and fabrics.

Types of paint

If you have imperfections in your walls, choose a paint with a flat finish, as this will conceal them.

Make sure you use washable paints in bathrooms and kitchens — an interior flat enamel is good for this.

How to Turn Your Patio Into an Outdoor Room

Whether you are thinking of moving to a new home or just want to improve your living environment, there are many things you can do to turn a drab patio or deck into another room.

If you are putting your house on the market, turning this space into another room will help visitors see the potential of your house.

The key is to make your outdoor room look as inviting as possible. So think about it just as you would any other room in your house.

This means you should invest in furniture that will give a feeling of luxury, turning your patio into a place of relaxation. Group your furniture, just as you would indoors. Invest in comfortable furniture, such as a chaise lounge.

Colors and materials

Try to complement the décor inside your house by using similar colors and materials. If, for example, you have a wooden floor inside, try to make it look as if the floor extends outside by using similar materials. Use your choice of furniture to pick up colors you’ve used inside and bring them outside.

Lighting

There are many low-cost options for lighting outdoors, such as battery-operated lights or torches. Then you’ll be able to extend the use of your outdoor room into the night.

Clean it up

Scrub the paving, perhaps using a power washer, and scrub the decking to make it look like new again.

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Most buyers make up their minds about your house in the first 30 seconds after pulling up outside. So it’s vital you make the outside of your home as attractive as possible if you want to get the best price you can. After all, a neat and tidy, well-cared for home will beat a rundown, shabby house any day. Here are some easy tips.

Mow the lawns and keep the flower beds neat: This will give buyers the impression they can move in right away without maintenance headaches.

Add colorful flowers: Invest in some planter plots and fill them with beautiful blooms to give extra impact to your home’s entrance.

The front door: Make sure it’s freshly painted to look bright and inviting. Polish the doorknob and street numerals, too.

Screen unsightly areas: Lattice or bamboo screens are available cheaply and will block any ugly vistas.

Move the toys: While it’s OK to have a child’s bike outside in a family-friendly area, remove any toys strewn over the yard.

Get that manicured look: Add mulch or compost around flowerbeds to make your garden and plants look cared for and healthy.

Keep it clean: Use a power-washer to give your walkways a clean, fresh look.

Essential repairs: Make sure there are no loose shingles or guttering.

How to Conquer Messy, Cluttered Closets

One of the things that can make our homes less enjoyable to live in is disorganized closet space. It’s quite depressing to look in your closets every morning and not be able to find what you need.

And if you are selling your house, having a cluttered closet will damage your chances of getting the best price, because people will view cluttered closets as a sign your house doesn’t have enough storage. So here are some tips to organize your closets.

Invest in a closet organizer

Imagine how you (and potential buyers) would feel to see your closets tidily organized! A closet organizer is probably the best way to achieve the look you are going for — and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.

You can buy ready-made units that fit into most closets. Most use a modular system that allows you to mix and match units and fit them together as you wish.

You can choose between units made of solid panels or wire systems. Alternatively, you can mix and match them both to meet your needs.

Closet organizers should include shelves for bulky items such as sweaters, drawers for smaller items, and rods for clothing that needs to be hung up. Consider also storage for shoes, such as a rack that hangs on the back of a door.

Getting it organized

When designing your system, make sure you consider things such as the length of the clothes that are to be hung, and how much space you need to devote to items such as sweaters. Consider which items you need to access easily on a daily basis and which can be stored out of reach.

This is also a good opportunity to go through all the items in your closet and get rid of those you don’t need — perhaps some things you didn’t even know you had!

A closet that isn’t packed with useless stuff is easier to keep organized and will keep your clothes from getting crushed.

Easy Ways to Give Your Bathroom a Fresh New Look

The bathroom might be one of the smallest rooms, but it’s one of the most important if you’re selling our home. Here are some quick tips to freshen up your bathroom to give yourself a space you enjoy relaxing in, whether you are moving or not.

Clutter: Bathrooms attract a lot of bottles and jars that create clutter. By putting them in a closet or throwing away those you haven’t used for a long time, you’ll immediately make your room look more spacious.

Fixtures and fittings: It’s not as expensive to replace bathroom fixtures, such as the toilet, as you think. Putting in more modern fixtures will immediately bring your bathroom up to date. The same goes for towel rails, mirrors and other hardware. Try replacing them with a matching set to unify the look of your bathroom.

Ceramic tiles: The caulking between tiles gets very dirty. Clean it – and you’ll immediately make your bathroom fresher.

Flooring: A big turn-off for many house-buyers is carpet in the bathroom. If you replace it with a more washable surface, you’ll have a much cleaner-looking room.

Towels and shower curtain: Replace your tiles with a new, fluffy matching set and keep an inviting pile waiting on a shelf or in a closet. And replace your shower curtain for a new one that matches the décor.

Paint: Freshen up the room by giving it a coat of light, neutral-colored paint.

7 Things that Will Stop Your House Selling

Poor curb appeal

Buyers won’t even go inside if the outside of the house looks unappealing. So clean up your front yard by tidying plants and pulling up weeds. Make sure the outside of your home looks well cared-for by painting the trim, mowing the lawn and placing attractive potted plants by the door.

Unpleasant odors

You may not even notice bad odors, but buyers surely will. Smoking and pets are the prime causes, so smoke outside while you are selling your house and consider what to do with your animals. Allow the house to air out thoroughly before viewings – don’t just try to mask the odor with another scent.

Loud and scary pets

Apart from the odor of some animals, a big dog or noisy bird can be off-putting to some buyers. So keep your dog away when you have viewings so your potential buyers aren’t distracted or, worse, scared.

Signs of damp

Problems with damp are a big turn-off to many buyers. Make sure your basement doesn’t smell damp and there are no signs of damp on the walls. It’s much better to fix problems now than wait until buyers point them out to you.

Dirt and grime

Although dirt is usually only cosmetic, it deters buyers, who will start to think the house isn’t well cared for. So make sure your kitchen and bathroom, in particular, are clean.

Bad décor

Although your home’s décor shouldn’t matter, to many buyers it does. That’s because many want a house they can move into right away. So replace any tired or out-of-date carpets or wallpapers with a more neutral, modern scheme.

Wrong price

If your house it too expensive compared to similar properties on the market, you’ll turn away viewers. So take your agent’s advice when it comes to setting a price for your home.

Quick Fixes for a Great-Looking Kitchen

Cabinet Doors

Damaged or dirty cabinet doors are a big turn-off for buyers. But that’s easy to fix. Most cabinetry can be re-painted after cleaning it and applying a coat of primer. Just check that the materials can take paint or whether you need to give any special preparation to the doors first. Alternatively, you can just replace the doors. There are companies that provide doors to fit existing kitchen cabinets.

Hardware

Another way to fix up cabinets is to replace the hardware, perhaps changing out-of-date fixtures for sleek, modern ones. This is a very cheap and easy way to update your kitchen.

Sinks and faucets

Try trading your faucets for more modern designs and replacing a damaged or very dirty sink.

Appliances

People love modern stainless steel appliances. It could be a good investment to upgrade your appliances to the most modern designs to give your kitchen the ‘wow’ factor.

Backsplash

An easy way to update your kitchen is to replace the backsplash. Subway or mosaic tiles or a sheet of stainless steel are very popular right now, and this quick change can really lift the feel of the room.

Flooring

Dairy, tired linoleum floors will turn off buyers. Try updating with tough laminate flooring or some tiles that tie into the rest of the kitchen.

Paint

Change the décor easily by repainting in fresh, modern, neutral colors. A coat of paint can be a very cheap way to refresh the look of your kitchen.

Clutter

Just by simply removing the clutter that accumulates on your countertops, you can freshen up your kitchen. Throw out things you don’t need; put away others you use only occasionally.

How to Use Lighting to Make Your Home More Attractive

If you plan to sell your home, you can make your interiors and exteriors shine by improving the lighting. Here’s how.

Drapes and shades: Natural light works best during the day. So make sure to open all drapes and shades to let in the sunlight.

Highlighting: Put emphasis on the room’s focal points, such as an alcove or artwork, by using lighting. Use task lighting in such spaces.

Exterior areas: The driveway and other such areas can be lit with the help of low-voltage string lights.

Doorway lamps: You can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your home by placing interesting lamps on your porch.

Security lights: Lighting placed around your house needs to be high up to ensure enough light is spread. Try using bright lights for the exteriors.

Shining out: Lighting which accentuates the interior of your home should also be visible from the outside. Use lighting to add a feeling of warmth and grace to a room before people even come into your house.

Mood and theme: If your home is chic and modern, try using a clean and simple lighting design. For more classic styles, use ornate lighting, such as chandeliers.

LED lighting usages: New to the market, LED lights work best for the kitchen, bathroom and other functional areas.

How to Make Your Home’s Entrance Enticing

Curb appeal is vital if you want your home to sell quickly for a good price. To create that enticing look, you don’t necessarily have to undertake extensive landscaping or major fixes to the exterior of the building. Instead, you could just concentrate on the entrance to your house.

Lead them in

You want to do everything you can to lead your guests (and potential buyers) into your home. Make it clear where the entrance is by emphasizing it, using some of the techniques in this article.

Accessorize

Make sure all your door hardware (the door knocker, handle and hinges) are new or look new. You can buy matching hardware cheaply. Alternatively, give what you already have a good polish. Invest in a new house number and mailbox that complement the rest of your hardware.

The door

Make sure the door looks bright and fresh. Paint it to match the rest of the trim on your house and keep it clean of dirty rain splashes.

Steps and railings

If there are steps up to your home, make sure they are well kept and safe. Check metal railings for rust and make sure they stay firm when visitors hold them.

Plants

Use containers or hanging baskets to mark the way to your home. They are easy to maintain and provide a splash of color. Try placing one container or basket on either side of the door to frame the entrance.

Lighting

Consider adding attractive lights to emphasize the entrance and make it more attractive at night.

Add a chair

If you have space, place an attractive chair near the entrance. It gives the impression your home provides a relaxing place to sit and rest.

Don’t forget a welcome mat

As a finishing touch, put a new mat outside the door.

How to Make Your Bathroom Look Spacious

It is no secret that one of the key things people look at when they are buying a house is the bathroom. That is why it is so important to make your bathroom look as big, beautiful and up-to-date as possible. Unfortunately, many bathrooms these days are quite small, but there are ways of making them appear sleeker and larger.

Fixtures and cabinetry

One thing that can help is to install fixtures that are as high-tech and as contemporary as possible. Their streamlined appearance can give a bathroom a more spacious appearance.

Another way to make a bathroom appear larger is to remove all bulky cabinetry. For instance, if you have a sink that is encased in a big clunky cabinet, you can remove it and get a freestanding sink.

Buying fixtures that are smaller than usual can also make the bathroom look bigger.

Toilets, bathtubs and showers

You can buy toilets nowadays that are very narrow and sit close against the wall.

You can also buy “tankless” toilets that situate the tank on a pipe high above the actual seat.

Old-fashioned bathtubs can also take up a lot of room in a small bathroom.

One solution might be to rip out a large bathtub and replace it with “a newer, smaller one — or, have a bathroom with just a shower stall.

Redoing the floor in stone and having an open shower with a glass stall can also make a smaller bathroom look more luxurious and spacious.

Colors

Yet another way to keep the bathroom looking spacious is to avoid painting it in dark colors — keep the walls and shelving as pale in color as possible.

How to Create a Beautiful Focal Point for Your Room

Having a focal point is critical if you want to create a room that feels comfortable and useable. And when you’re selling your house, you’ll make the room more attractive to buyers because they’ll feel more at home when there’s a focal point for them to rest their eyes on.

Some rooms have natural focal points, such as a fireplace, architectural details or a picture window with a view.

But if your room has none of these, you could try placing a large piece of furniture such as an armoire or a tall bookcase along one wall, using an ornate mirror or large painting, or adding a table with your favorite ornaments or mementoes arranged on it.

If you have a large, flat-screen television, this might make a suitable focal point, but many people prefer not to make a TV the center of attention, as it can look unattractive when switched off.

The focal point doesn’t have to be on the wall — a large area rug placed under a coffee table can also work well.

A fireplace is perhaps the best focal point in a living room. To accent it further, place a painting or mirror above the hearth.

In a bedroom, place the bed along the longest wall; add attractive bedding and a well-designed headboard.

All furniture in a room should be arranged around the focal point, helping draw your eyes to the right place. It’s almost as if you are “framing” your focal point with the furniture and other decorations in your room.

How Summer Container Plants Will Help Sell Your House

Container plants are an easy way to give immediate visual impact to your home, creating that important curb appeal – the “wow” factor as potential buyers pull up outside. Here are some important tips to make sure you use containers effectively.

Use big containers

Don’t be afraid of using big, bold containers. They will have much more impact and will be easier to care for because they won’t dry out so easily. Smaller containers tend to get lost in the landscaping, so you’ll lose the visual impact you’re trying to achieve.

Use quality containers

Avoid plastic containers, as these can look cheap. Terracotta, wrought iron, or zinc containers look great. Choose a container that complements your house and the rest of your landscaping. For example, if you have iron detailing, find a matching container; if you have brick paving, a terracotta pot might look good next to it.

Fill them with plants

For immediate results, fill your containers with more plants than you normally would. Otherwise, you will be forced to wait for the plants to grow before your container will look lush and healthy.

Feed your plants

Make sure you keep your containers well maintained by watering and feeding the plants regularly. You want buyers to think the containers are always there, not just a quick fix.

8 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

Running an energy-efficient home this winter doesn’t necessarily entail buying expensive solar panels or wind generators. Neither does it mean you have to wear your outdoor clothes inside to stop you shivering! Here are 8 useful tips.

Laundry: Wait until you have a full load of laundry and run the machine on cold. Detergents are available to clan clothes at low temperatures.

Dishes: Don’t pre-rinse your dishes as this wastes energy. And wait until the dishwasher is full before turning it on. If you have the time, use the air dry or no-heat dry settings so the dishes dry without using electricity.

Windows: In the winter during the day, open the blinds on south-facing windows to allow the sun to warm your home then close them in the evening to increase insulation. (In the summer, you can do the opposite to keep your home cool.)

Computers and TVs: Turn off your appliances when you are not using them. Even when they’re in standby mode they are still using electricity — it’s estimated 5% of household energy use is from appliances leaking away electricity. So turn them off at the wall.

Showers: While a long, hot shower is nice and relaxing, you can save a lot of money taking shorter showers and by installing energy-efficient showerheads that give you a good shower while reducing water use.

Space heaters: Surprisingly, space heaters are a lot cheaper than a central heating system. And don’t forget to turn them off when you’re out. Installing a programmable thermostat will also keep your heating bill low.

Furnace filter: Change the filter at the start of every season and then every month or two after because a dirty filter makes the furnace work harder and be less efficient.

Floors and drafts: If you’ve got hardwood floors, put down some rugs, particularly if you have wood floors above a cold basement. Make sure also that you’ve installed insulation such as weather-stripping at the bottom of doors.

6 Ways to Create an Attractive Home Office

A home office is on its way to becoming an essential item on a house buyer’s wish list. After all, many people work at least part of the time at home — and even if they don’t, they still want somewhere to store the computer and their household papers.

Here are some tips to help you create an attractive home office that you’ll actually want to spend time in.

An attractive place to work

A home office doesn’t have to be just functional — it can be attractive, too. So take as much care with the décor as you would in the other rooms in your house, making sure office furniture and accessories coordinate with wall and floor coverings.

Good lighting

If you don’t have a lot of natural light (or you’ll be working mainly in the evenings), make sure you have good lighting, particularly task lights for illuminating your desk. Include other types of lighting too, so you’ll make the room feel comfortable.

Choose good furniture

It’s essential that your desk and chair are comfortable to work at, so take time choosing them. Make sure the seat and backrest of your chair are adjustable and that the height of your desk is comfortable.

Power and the Internet

Make sure there are plenty of power outlets in the room and easy Internet access. Avoid a “rat’s nest” of cables by bundling them together and tucking them out of sight.

Include good storage

Think carefully about the kind of storage you’ll need and make sure there’s enough of it. Consider stackable boxes to store paperwork efficiently, and an attractive filing cabinet. Put shelves on the walls and use them to store books; add wire baskets to the shelves for documents.

Bulletin board

Put up a bulletin board for reminders and other essential information you use every day. Then you’ll avoid ugly sticky notes all over your computer.