Three ways to give your home’s curb appeal a boost

 

From simple upgrades to meticulous landscaping projects and replacing an outdated roof, there are dozens of options to enhance the appearance of your home's exterior. Improvements don't need to break the bank or take a year to complete. By focusing on three simple areas, you can change the entire look of your home that you'll appreciate every time you pull into your driveway.

1. Landscaping

The key to curb appeal is balancing what makes you happy with what works in your community. Take a moment to observe the types of trees, plants and flowers in your surroundings and look for ways to incorporate them into your yard.

Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make an impact. Flowers along the sidewalk, in front of the house, inside flower boxes, pouring out of hanging baskets, or even in berms and raised garden beds, provide a giant boost to your curb appeal. Exercise your creativity by combining plants of different height, texture and color in the same container. By sticking to perennial plants native to your environment, you will not have to worry about replanting every year.

2. Roofing

Redesigning the style and color of your roof is a dramatic and effective strategy for improving curb appeal.

"Your roof accounts for 50 percent of your home's exterior," says Stephen McNally, vice president of sales and marketing for TAMKO Building Product, Inc. "Updating the shingles on your roof is going to make a huge impact on the overall appearance of your home – take advantage of it."

Start by evaluating roofing choices for compatibility with your existing siding as well as the style of your home. If your home has a busy exterior with more than one contrasting color, try adding a classic, rustic color like TAMKO's weathered wood. The shingle's subtle blends of color and wood-like appearance complements nearly any exterior paint color.

If your home's exterior is a more neutral shade, try adding a vibrant colored shingle to stand out in your neighborhood. TAMKO has a large selection of classic and vibrant shingle colors and styles to meet any need. To learn more visit www.tamko.com.

3. Paint

Whether you're updating your color scheme or applying a fresh coat, painting is an easy way to update your home's look from the street in a big way. Depending on your budget, this project can be big or small. To make the most significant impact, consider painting the entire house. This will bring new life to paint that has lost its luster or possibly a new palette of color to incorporate into your yard. Although this project can call for a larger investment, the result will pay off in the end.

If your budget is more limited, focus on the areas that catch the eye. Give shutters and trim a fresh coat of paint, or paint the front door a bright shade of red or blue.

You don't have to make a large investment to make a large impact. Focusing on key areas of your home's exterior will refresh the entire appearance of the home and provide a facelift that's within your reach.

How to think like a buyer when getting your property ready to sell

 

The house is finally done after a whole lot of "blood, sweat and tears", and now it's time to get your wholesale flip "retail buyer ready". Real estate investors all have the same question at this point; how can I make my house stand out from the other homes for sale in the neighborhood? The answer is quite simple. Your home has to make a better first impression than your competition. Your potential buyer has to want to come inside from the moment they drive up to the house. So how do you do that?

Learn to think like a buyer!

Curb Appeal Is Everything!

Pay special attention to the landscaping and keep the grass cut and trimmed while your house is for sale. If you are selling during the summer months, extra watering may be needed to keep the lawn in tip top shape.

    Give your yard a manicured look. It will really pay off to spend a few dollars to have the plants neatly trimmed, the planting beds weeded, and fresh mulch put down. A great touch is to put brightly colored flowers near the front of the house. You might even want to add a couple of pots of flowers at or near the front door well give it an extra touch. Be sure to pick plants that don't need daily watering.

All your windows should be sparkling clean on the exterior as well as the interior.

Take a good look at your front door. Does it need a fresh coat of paint or maybe just a good cleaning?

Spend a few dollars and replace your old mailbox, then add some attractive house numbers. These simple things will give your house a polished look.

Make sure your deck or patio in the back yard is neat and inviting. You want your buyers to be able to imagine entertaining or just relaxing in this space at the end of the day. A power washer can be rented for about $40-$50 dollars if heavy duty cleaning is needed. Go ahead and power-wash any siding on your house at the same time.

Store all garden equipment and trash containers out of sight.

Look at the interior of the house through "buyer's eyes"

Have a professional do a thorough house cleaning when the house is finished, paying special attention to the kitchen and the bathrooms. Remember these are the rooms that sell houses!

Make sure all floors have been cleaned and are in good condition. This also applies to any carpet that hasn't been replaced.

Give the house the "sniff test". Does it smell good?

Buyers don't want to have to paint before moving in, so be sure the house is painted in neutral colors. Painting the trim a crisp white makes the home look modern and inviting.

Home staging always pays big dividends! Consider doing some simple home staging so that prospective buyers can imagine what the home will look like with furniture in it.

Does the basement have a "musty" smell? Figure out what the problem is and correct it.

Does everything in the house function properly? Make sure all the light bulbs are working, and all of the cabinet handles and doorknobs are securely attached. Walk through the house and give it the same scrutiny that a buyer will, double checking the smallest details in the home.

Be sure to change your filters. If the furnace or AC filter hasn't been replaced during the rehab, clean or replace it.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon's Website: http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com

Secrets of a solid home inspection

 

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed homeowners report that a home inspection during the selling or buying of a house saved them money.

Selling, buying or just putting a house on the market may raise many questions. Can I get a good price? Are there any problems I should fix prior to listing my house? If I buy this house, will I encounter problems that may make me regret my decision?

The sale price of a house depends on many factors, including the market, location, size of the property, age of the house, condition of the structure, what appliances might be included in the sale and even how nicely the property and building were landscaped and decorated – just to name a few.

Having a qualified professional inspect your house prior to putting it on the market – or for prospective buyers, before closing on a sale – can help guide your decision. But many homeowners and prospective buyers are unsure what's included in a standard home inspection, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). A qualified home inspector will review these aspects of a property:
 

  • Roof, attic and visible insulation
  • Foundation, basement and structural components
  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Heating and central air conditioning systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Water fixtures and faucets
  • Decks

Nearly two out of three homeowners recently surveyed by ASHI reported they saved a lot of money as a result of having a home inspection during the selling/buying of a house. Sellers use inspections to help determine potential problems that can be repaired or replaced prior to listing – potentially getting them a higher sale price. And buyers use the inspections to determine if they want to invest in the property, or help negotiate for a better price that would include the repair and replacement of potential problems.

Not all home inspectors are certified and licensed. ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool allows homeowners to locate an inspector in their area. Always check with your local inspector for a complete list of services provided.

"It's important for homeowners to do their homework before hiring an inspector," says Kurt Salomon, ASHI president. "Look for a home inspector certified through the ASHI Certified Inspector Program, which is the only home inspection association program approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies."

The following elements are not included in a standard home inspection:

  • Septic system
  • Electrical wiring and plumbing that is not readily accessible (for example, behind drywall or plaster)
  • Water conditioning or softening system
  • Swimming pool
  • Backyard fences
  • Lawn irrigation system
  • Household appliances
  • Compliance with local codes
  • Appraisal to determine market value

Before hiring a home inspector, inquire about what is covered in the inspection and ask to see a sample report. Although some inspectors provide ancillary services, it may be necessary to consult a specialist for concerns that extend beyond a standard inspection. Often your inspector will help you make this determination.

Hiring a certified home inspector and having questions answered before putting your house up for sale – or before finalizing a purchase price – can not only help save money, but also allow you to go through the process with more peace of mind.

Selecting a trustworthy mover is the first step in avoiding moving day headaches

 

Americans are on the move. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans – nearly 40 million people – changed residences each of the past two years. While many turned to moving professionals for assistance, some learned the hard way that not all moving companies are created equally. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received nearly 3,000 complaints about moving companies last year alone – a double-digit increase from the prior year.

Some good news arrived in October in the form of a new law that provides additional protection for victims of rogue moving companies that hold belongings hostage in the interest of scamming consumers to pay unexpected fees. The new law gives FMCSA the authority to force the return of consumer belongings in addition to the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Unfortunately, our industry has been plagued by moving 'companies' that advertise unbelievable 'deals' that turn out to be consumer scams, says Jon Sorber, executive vice president of Two Men And A Truck, the nation's largest franchise moving company. The new regulations are a welcome change for those of us committed to operating legitimate moving companies, but they are just a start. Education is really the key to making sure consumers avoid the hassle of a moving scam in the first place.

Sorber suggests consumers ask the following questions before hiring a mover:

1. Can your family, friends and co-workers make a referral? It's likely that you know several people who've hired a moving company in the past year. Why not tap the resources of people you trust to share their experiences?

2. Does your mover have a brick and mortar facility you can visit? Often the "rogue" mover operates from a storage unit or perhaps with no office at all. If you are dealing with a legitimate moving company, they will have an office with trucks, employees, boxes, supplies, etc.

3. Is your mover licensed in your state? The majority of states require a formal license to operate as a mover, and selecting a licensed, insured mover is your best bet in guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.

4. What community or industry associations does the moving company have? Is your mover in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Are they active members of the local Chamber of Commerce? Choose a mover who is valued and trusted within your community and you'll likely eliminate any concern of questionable practices.

5. Does your mover offer free moving quotes? A legitimate mover is going to provide free estimates of your move before a single item is moved. If they refuse to do so, keep shopping regardless of how good the deal sounds.

Paul Oakley is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry's largest trade association. He and his team began working with Congress to develop the new regulatory provisions. Like Sorber, he believes the new laws provide some measure of safety, but cautions that more work must be done to eliminate dishonest moving practices.

The laws going into effect directly impact policing of the industry, says Oakley, but ultimately we must have safeguards that make entry into the industry more difficult, tougher enforcement against bad actors, and a greater effort needs to be made to educate consumers on how to choose a proper moving company.

Two Men And A Truck offers more questions consumers should ask before hiring a mover at www.twomenandatruck.com/moving-questions. Consumers might also consider AMSA's Before You Move checklist at www.moving.org.

Secrets of a solid home inspection

 

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed homeowners report that a home inspection during the selling or buying of a house saved them money.

Selling, buying or just putting a house on the market may raise many questions. Can I get a good price? Are there any problems I should fix prior to listing my house? If I buy this house, will I encounter problems that may make me regret my decision?

The sale price of a house depends on many factors, including the market, location, size of the property, age of the house, condition of the structure, what appliances might be included in the sale and even how nicely the property and building were landscaped and decorated – just to name a few.

Having a qualified professional inspect your house prior to putting it on the market – or for prospective buyers, before closing on a sale – can help guide your decision. But many homeowners and prospective buyers are unsure what's included in a standard home inspection, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). A qualified home inspector will review these aspects of a property:
 

  • Roof, attic and visible insulation
  • Foundation, basement and structural components
  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Heating and central air conditioning systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Water fixtures and faucets
  • Decks

Nearly two out of three homeowners recently surveyed by ASHI reported they saved a lot of money as a result of having a home inspection during the selling/buying of a house. Sellers use inspections to help determine potential problems that can be repaired or replaced prior to listing – potentially getting them a higher sale price. And buyers use the inspections to determine if they want to invest in the property, or help negotiate for a better price that would include the repair and replacement of potential problems.

Not all home inspectors are certified and licensed. ASHI's "Find an Inspector" tool allows homeowners to locate an inspector in their area. Always check with your local inspector for a complete list of services provided.

"It's important for homeowners to do their homework before hiring an inspector," says Kurt Salomon, ASHI president. "Look for a home inspector certified through the ASHI Certified Inspector Program, which is the only home inspection association program approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies."

The following elements are not included in a standard home inspection:

  • Septic system
  • Electrical wiring and plumbing that is not readily accessible (for example, behind drywall or plaster)
  • Water conditioning or softening system
  • Swimming pool
  • Backyard fences
  • Lawn irrigation system
  • Household appliances
  • Compliance with local codes
  • Appraisal to determine market value

Before hiring a home inspector, inquire about what is covered in the inspection and ask to see a sample report. Although some inspectors provide ancillary services, it may be necessary to consult a specialist for concerns that extend beyond a standard inspection. Often your inspector will help you make this determination.

Hiring a certified home inspector and having questions answered before putting your house up for sale – or before finalizing a purchase price – can not only help save money, but also allow you to go through the process with more peace of mind.

How to write a professional real estate property description that sells

 

There are do's and don'ts when it comes to writing a professional property description that sells. An effective property description can determine whether or not you sell the property.

Headline:

To begin, your headline must jump out from the page and catch the attention of the buyer. Make the headline appealing with captivating and positive words.

Description:

Always begin your description with the selling points of the property. List the best features first to keep the attention of the buyer. Use adjectives to spice up the description. For example, instead of stating dining room, try spacious dining room for your family to gather and share a meal. Let the buyer know why they will want the selling points of the house.

It's important to sell the area to potential buyer as well. Are you selling to someone looking for a single family home or a multi-million dollar estate? Highlight points in the area that appeal to your buyer like schools, shopping, public transportation, etc.

Location:

Include the geographical area in your description. Many buyers are looking to buy in a specific area.

Price:

Including the price of the property is especially important for the sale by owners. Price inclusion is also a way to screen potential buyers.

Call to Action:

End your description with encouraging words for buyers to call you. Give them a reason for a call to action. "This beautiful property will go fast, call now for more details."

Wording:

Choose your words wisely and keep them positive. Certain words sound better and are more appealing to potential buyers. For instance try cozy instead of small.

Now that you know what should go into an effective property description, you need to know what shouldn't. Avoid the following:

* Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes

* Uncommon abbreviations

* Clichés

* Jargon

* Passive voice

* Over the top vocabulary

Write in the present tense and make sure to include words like you and your in your description. This way potential buyers will feel as though you are speaking directly to them.

by: Rose Manning
Article Source:
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7348.shtml

Go-big upgrades that can help a lingering home sell at last

 

(BPT) – Everyone knows spring and summer are the best months in which to sell a home. If your house has lingered on the market, you may be eager to find ways to freshen its appeal for potential buyers. Perhaps you're even ready to go big and invest in upgrades that will improve the home's value, curb appeal and interior allure so much that potential buyers just won't be able to walk away from it.

If you're at that point, first figure out how much you can reasonably invest. Will the improvement increase your home value enough to allow you to recoup its cost? Maybe not, but if your priority is a faster sale, return on investment might have a different meaning for you.

Next, look at areas of your home where improvements will have the biggest impact – spots that are the least appealing or those that have the most appeal. Upgrading a less-than-great room can bring it up to snuff, but upgrading a good room could make it absolutely smashing. For example, painting a small bathroom in a bright color could make that cramped space feel bigger. Adding a skylight to your kitchen, bath, or other area in your home however, will really make a splash with abundant natural light and fresh air.

Here's a room-by-room game plan for high-impact upgrades that could make buyers fall in love with your home:

Anywhere

Buyers are, universally, looking for beauty and value. Any improvement that gives both can directly impact your ability to sell your home. Adding a skylight is a great way to enhance a home's visual appeal, livability and energy efficiency while improving indoor air quality by introducing much needed fresh air into the home.

Natural light can make a small room look bigger and brighter, and create a more healthful environment. Adding a traditional or tubular skylight to any room in the house brings more natural light into your home. Plus, Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux America, can provide fresh air through cost-efficient passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air, and heating, cooling and lighting costs. Add remote-controlled, solar powered blinds, and you can boost a skylight's energy efficiency by 39 percent, Velux states.

Finally, this is one high impact investment that can actually put cash back in your pocket. Installation of energy-efficient no leak solar powered fresh air skylights and blinds can qualify you for up to a 30 percent federal tax credit on the -products and installation costs. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more and calculate your tax credit for new or replacement skylights.

Kitchen and bathroom

Any Realtor will tell you great kitchens and bathrooms can sell a house. If yours are only so-so, they could be what's standing in the way of getting an offer. If you've already done the basics – cleaning and decluttering, repainting and replacing dated cabinet hardware – it may be time to pull out the big guns.

New appliances and fixtures will cost you a few thousand, but can go a long way toward wooing buyers. New appliances look great, are more energy-efficient, and provide buyers the peace of mind knowing they won't face repair or replacement costs any time soon. New fixtures such as rainfall shower heads and touch-free faucets add an element of luxury to the most common bathroom.

Adding a tile backsplash or new wood-look laminate flooring in the kitchen, and new tile floor in the bath can also create a big impact – and for less money if you do the work yourself. Replacing lower-quality or older countertops is also an eye-catching upgrade. The trick is to find the improvement that will have the biggest visual impact in your space.

Living room/family

When buyers enter your home, chances are the living room or family room will be one of the first rooms they see. Their impression of that room can set the tone for how they perceive the rest of the house. Again, assuming you've done the basics – painting, window treatments and accessories – a major upgrade in this room can have a winning impact.

If your home already has a fireplace, take a close look at it. What can you do to make it more appealing? Does it need a new facade? Larger gas logs or a better blower? Can you upgrade the mantel? If your home lacks a fireplace, adding one can be a great selling point. It's possible to add a gas fireplace for less than $5,000 in most homes. Adding a gas insert to a wood-burning fireplace is even cheaper.

Easier mortgage processes, positive attitudes inspire renters to buy

 

Thirty-two percent of American households are renters, according to the National Multi Housing Council. Generally, more people younger than 30 occupy rentals, while the percentage of people who own their home increases with age, NMHC statistics indicate. People decide to buy a home for many reasons, but the recent real estate market downturn caused many Americans to rethink their assumptions about renting and owning.

Even with many real estate experts predicting the market will continue to improve, it pays to carefully evaluate how home ownership does – or doesn't – figure into your long-term financial goals. If you've been renting and wondering if it's time to apply for a mortgage and buy your own home, consider these points:

1. Renting isn't always the cheaper option, and comparing your monthly rent payment directly to a mortgage payment won't give you a clear picture of the financial impact of either option. Online calculators, like Guaranteed Rate's rent vs. buy online calculator, can give you a better understanding of the comparison. With mortgage rates consistently low and rental markets competitive across the country, real estate experts agree that in most major metropolitan areas it will still be cheaper in the long run to buy than continue to rent.

2. While the days of zero-money-down mortgages are essentially over, it's a misconception that you need a huge amount of money to buy a house. Yes, you'll almost certainly need a down payment, but different lenders will require different percentages. Research your mortgage options before you begin house hunting so you'll know how much you'll need to save in order to secure a mortgage – and the home of your dreams.

3. Although the mortgage application process is detailed, it doesn't have to be drawn out and tedious. Many lenders now allow you to initiate the process online, and Guaranteed Rate has recently overhauled its website to allow borrowers to apply for a loan, track the approval process and receive their home loans all online. The eighth-largest retail mortgage company in the U.S. allows customers to choose and customize their loans, submit an application and receive an official approval letter all at www.guaranteedrate.com. Automating the application process compresses the traditional time frame from days – sometimes, even weeks – into minutes. As part of the process, applicants also receive the credit reports from all three major credit bureaus.

4. Buying a home affords you the opportunity to really grow your roots, but the flipside is that in order to get the most out of your investment, you need to stay put for a while. If you anticipate being in your current job and living in your current town for at least five years, the long-term investment of buying a house will make more sense for you. If you anticipate a job change or a move within a few years, you may want to hold off on buying a house. The good news is, doing so gives you more time to save toward a down payment so you'll look even more appealing to lenders when you are ready to buy.

While only you can decide if homeownership is right for you and your family – and if now is the right time to buy – keep in mind a few statistics from Trulia.com: 42 percent of renters say they regret not having bought a home, and 31 percent say they want to buy a home in the next two years.

Buying a home: Prepare by getting your finances in order

 

For those considering buying a home, the current real estate market presents some unique opportunities. One of the side effects of the economic roller coaster ride of the past few years is that home prices have gone down and more homes have gone on the market. For buyers, that means more choices and better deals.  However, those same tumultuous years also can also teach buyers a lesson: Make smart buying decisions and be wise with your finances.
 
Impulsive buying is never a good idea when it comes to a purchase as significant as a home, but it was something of a trend at the height of the mid-2000s. Now, with banks lending far more cautiously, you need to be absolutely certain that your finances are in order – and healthy – to be able to get the best deal on your purchase.
 
There are a number of steps you can take to get ready to buy a home, and you might need to work on them simultaneously. Consider that you'll need to start saving, if you haven't already, but you'll also need to review your credit score and do what you can to either maintain it or work toward healthier credit. Both of these tasks will help make the home-buying process better for you.
 
Your credit is an important factor in determining the terms under which you can get a mortgage. Broadly speaking, the better your credit is, the more positively you'll be viewed by lenders – and that can lead to better interest rates. And because you'll be paying off your home for years to come, it's important to get the best rate possible.
 
Start by checking your credit report. You're entitled to one free check of your report, from TransUnion and other credit reporting agencies every year.  As much as you need to check your report to find out what shape your credit is in, it's also essential to review it for inaccuracies or fraudulent activity, both of which can have a negative impact on your score.
 
If your credit health needs some work, start taking action immediately. Paying bills on time, reducing your overall debt and limiting new credit inquiries can all help to build your credit – but be patient as it can take time for your positive actions to take effect. Nevertheless, the sooner you make the effort, the sooner you'll see results.
 
Making a prudent decision about buying a house comes down to an honest assessment of what you can afford. Keep in mind that you might be approved for a loan that's larger than what is practical for you to afford. While it may be tempting to buy a pricier house, the stress of struggling to make payments could diminish your enjoyment of your new home and even put you at financial risk. One rule of thumb is that most borrowers can afford a home loan that runs about two and a half times their annual salary. 
 
Buying a home is a complex process, but one that is ultimately very rewarding when done right. By organizing your finances well in advance, you'll help set yourself up for success.

For more information about credit and buying a home, visit www.transunion.com.

Creating the perfect porch can be simple and low-maintenance

 

(BPT) – Your porch should be a warm, welcoming outdoor living space that offers comfort and helps make a house a home. Whether you want to remodel your porch from the ground up, or just give it a refreshing new look and feel, it's easier than you think to create a perfect porch.

Start with a Kleer deck as enchanting flooring for your remodeled porch, choosing from the rich, nature-inspired color palettes available for the Sierra Series and Coastal Series Decking. Sierra offers deep, solid earth tones with wood grain textures such as Sequoia, plus streaked tropical wood looks, such as Golden Teak. The Coastal Series offers charming Cobblestone and serene Sand Dune hues, which give your porch a relaxing feel reminiscent of a seaside resort.

Framing your porch, like a picture for the world to see, is easy with Kleer Trimboard. Add elegant white or colorfully painted accent trim around the top, bottom and sides of the porch using durable cellular PVC trimboards in a variety of sizes. This trim can even be crafted into ornate gingerbread or curved using heat-bending to make soaring arches. Kleer Mouldings can be readily cut so that you can add eye-catching detail anywhere. Using Kleer Beaded Sheets, you can build a porch ceiling with great warmth and charm. For a picturesque porch, enclose columns in Kleer Post Wraps to protect them from the elements while adding wood's natural, finished look.

To complete your perfect porch, dress up nearby windows and doors with distinctive touches that complement the look and feel of your outdoor living space. High-impact, budget-friendly ideas include adding Mid-America Siding Components' richly-colored shutters with matching window headers to enhance your porch's warmth and curb appeal. The sophisticated Flat Panel and geometric-style Classic Dentil headers pair perfectly with decorative shutters like the classic Open Louver or Old World-style Board-n-Batten.

Another quick, easy upgrade is an inviting door surround in cream, white or another neutral color to enhance porch aesthetics. Adding a door surround is a natural way to create that "welcome home" feeling too.

Designed for easy living, Tapco's enduring Kleer and Mid-America brand solutions never require painting or wood's time-intensive upkeep. Whether you want to transform your porch into a cozy gathering spot or grand wrap-around retreat, Tapco's exterior products can put the perfect low-maintenance outdoor living space within your reach.