Home Inspection Tips

 

1) Make sure all interior and exterior light fixtures work.  If an outdoor fixture bulb is out, the inspector has to note that the fixture does not operate correctly.

2) Provide access to the furnace, water heater and electrical panel.  Also, the inspector must be able to remove the electrical panel cover. If the panel is locked, remove it.

3) Install a new furnace filter and vacuum the
register.  It will be looked at during the inspection and be considered as a part of the overall condition of the furnace or heat pump.

 

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4) Ensure that windows operate smoothly.  If some are stuck or painted shut, the impression will be that many windows cannot open.  Also, remove window security screws or provide keys for window security locks.
5) Replace all damaged window screens, and make sure all operating windows have screens.

 

6) Tighten all door knobs and tighten or repair all handrails.  Also check to be sure that all interior doors will latch to the strike plate.

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7) Clear the way to the attic access panel or pull down, especially in a closet.  The inspector will enter every attic. If you use your attic for storage, remove any items that will inhibit the inspector.

8) Be sure that there is a minimum of one smoke detector per floor.

9) Provide keys or unlock sheds and out buildings.

10) Verify all utilities will be on at the time of inspection, and that gas pilots (including fireplaces) are lit.

11) Remove or restrain pets on site.

12) Empty the washer and dryer so they can be tested. The dishwasher can be run whether it is full or empty.

 

(tips taken from Zillow.com)

 

Posted in apple valley, buy a home, farmington, Home Search, lakeville, new construction, Real Estate

I’m selling my house and its about to snow, NOW WHAT?!?!

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If you’ve either had your house on the market for several months, or have recently listed it, you are probably wondering what to expect as our days get shorter and you realize that snow will soon be a factor in how your home shows to potential buyers, especially if you’ve put a lot of work into your landscaping. Its no secret that many buyers prefer not to look at homes when it’s dark and only 10 degrees outside, and showings will decline, but take comfort in the fact that your competition is also going away as some people pull their listings and wait until spring to relist.

Many buyers plan to buy regardless of weather or seasons, and do! This is especially true for relocation buyers which we have a lot of in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area. For years sellers and agents alike have decided not to list in the winter because as mentioned, days are shorter and people are just plain busy this time of year. People go out of town for Thanksgiving, grandmas house for Christmas, and often times even take vacations around the 1st of the year. However! today’s buyers are drastically different from buyers even ten years ago. The National Association of Realtors claim 9 out of 10 buyers shop online for their next home, I’ve as high as 95%, and this number continues to climb. Many of todays buyers are browsing websites while out of town, checking out the latest listings from their handheld device, and cruising neighborhoods in their spare time even before opening a door! If you’re peeking in on today’s real estate market at all you know the urgency to make something happen before rates go up, because they will! While some sellers and buyers may take the winter off, the motivated ones are not.

So, if you’re still in the game as a seller what do you do differently? In previous blogs I’ve mentioned the importance of staging, this could never be more true than it is in the fall/winter months. Sunlight and natural features, such as the landscaping you’ve worked so hard on, are either non existant or are much more limited this time of year so the rest of your home needs to SHINE SHINE SHINE!  Color is always important but more so now. Put those pumpkins outside in October and November, and don’t skimp on Christmas lights this year (don’t be a Clark Griswold either!). Click this link to review other Important Staging Ideas.

If you’re a buyer who plans on finding your next home before rates go up you will be glad to have less competition from other buyers as you did this summer. Far too many buyers this spring and summer learned what it was like to find “the right one” only to loose it at the hand of another buyer in a multiple offer. This will instantly take the enjoyment out of home shopping for anyone. Well, now you can get out and open some doors without the pressure of being part of what felt like a feeding frenzy. That being said, the best homes are still moving somewhat fast so if you don’t have a local listing app on your phone, download one here. Don’t miss out because you’re waiting for a listing agent to get back to you!

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE!

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Aronson Bluff of Lakeville

Gails photo for MLS

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In a previous blog, How’s Lakeville Responding to Our Housing Market, I gave a list of current and future devlopments in Lakeville that new home buyers have to choose from. One booming development, Crescent Ridge which was also blogged about in Crescent Ridge Homes of Lakeville, will soon be opening its 4th phase. In the 4th phase you will see more of the same that you see in the 2nd and 3rd phases offerring a few select local home builders. I’m expecting to have plat maps and pricing available yet this summer!

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Another new neighborhood that has flown under the radar for home buyers because of its inactivity is now spurring interest and questions as the developer is now clearing the land and grading the site. What was previously just a small field adjacent to Aronson Park is under way to becoming a new residential neighborhood called Aronson Bluff. There are 33 home-sites platted and a variety of lots will be offerred from full basement lots to lots that walkout to park or wetland area. Presales have already started and because of the size of Aronson Bluff lot availability isn’t expected to be long.

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If you’re interested in learning more about the community of Lakeville, whether its school information, parks, churches, or outdoor activities I recommend reading my previous blog about Crescent Ridge that points out some of Lakevilles highlights. Click Here to read that blog post.

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

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How To Make Compost

The soil is your garden’s most important resource. But what happens if you aren’t lucky enough to have land with good soil? Many homeowners live in urban or suburban environments where the topsoil has been removed during development. What they’re often left with is a hardpan, rubble-filled mess.

Knowing how to make compost is an important part of eco-friendly gardeningGiven a little time and effort, bad soil can be improved over time, and compost is an important component of that process. Adding organic amendments such as manures and compost can bring a soil needing air, moisture, and inhabitants like worms, insects, and grubs back to life. Every garden should have at least one compost pile, so let’s get to it and learn how to make some compost!

The Composting Site

Heat makes organic matter break down more quickly, so ideally you should locate your compost pile in a sunny location. Full sun is best. A location in partial shade or even full shade will work, but the process of decomposition will be much slower if your compost pile is not in full sun.

Where will you most likely use your compost? Do you have a few planting beds or an intensive vegetable garden? If possible, locate your compost pile in close proximity to where it will most often be used. This will save you time and energy when you’re ready to get the wheelbarrow out and start adding compost to your garden.

Compost Ingredients: A Mixture of Greens and Browns

Your compost should consist of a mixture of green and brown material. The reasons for this are three-fold. First, green material provides nitrogen, amino acids, and proteins as well as a food source for the billions of microorganisms working to decompose your compost pile. Second, a good mixture of green and brown material will give your compost pile adequate aeration. Finally, mixing green and brown materials into your compost pile will help improve the level of moisture in the pile. If your compost pile starts to stink, it’s generally because it has become anaerobic due to an overabundance of green material.

The Compost Bin: DIY or Purchased?

Whether building or buying a compost bin, keep in mind that you will want to turn the contents of your compost on a regular basis. Turning helps aerate the pile and assists in decomposition. If you’re building a DIY compost bin, typically, you will want at least two compost piles adjacent to each other, with openings on the same side so you can turn the contents of one compost bin into the other.

If you’re purchasing a compost bin, it should also be one that allows the contents to be turned easily. Some small, manufactured compost bins have a handle on the side that can be rotated for easy turning. These are great for small gardens or for gardeners who may lack the physical ability to turn the contents of a compost bin.

There are a variety of materials that can be used to make a compost bin. Four posts set in a square and surrounded by poultry wire will suffice in a pinch. Many gardeners use recycled pallets to construct the sides of their compost bins. Others might use bricks, cinder blocks, or even a stack of old tires. All you really need is a material that will contain your compost pile while still allowing aeration and good drainage. An average compost bin should hold approximately one cubic yard. Compost piles that are larger or smaller tend to decompose less efficiently.

Adding Material to Your Compost

Starting with an empty compost bin, make your first layer. The first layer should be organic brown material, dry, dead material such as old leaves, chipped wood, twigs, nut shells, or straw. Keep the pieces small as a greater surface area will aid in decomposition. You’ll want this first layer of brown material to be about six inches deep.

The second layer should be green. Any plant material that is fresh, such as grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, and green leaves. Used tea bags, coffee grounds, and egg shells can also be added as part of the green layer. This layer can also be about six inches deep. However, always mix some leaves or other green material in with grass clippings as grass tends to clump together and become airless, slimy, and stinky.

What Makes Good Compost?

The following are good compost materials:

Leaves, grass clippings, hay and straw, fruit and vegetable scraps, small branch twigs from trees and shrubs, soot and charcoal, sawdust, cocoa and nutshells, mushroom compost, and weeds.

What Items Should Not Be Composted?

Some items should never be composted because they are toxic, attract rodents, can cause plant or human disease problems, or spread invasive weeds. Those items that should not be composted are:

  • Diseased plants.
  • Pressure-treated or other chemically treated wood products.
  • Human or pet waste.
  • Meat, bones, and fatty food wastes.
  • Invasive weeds and their seeds.

Composting is a process that takes time, effort and commitment, but adding compost to your garden on a regular basis will result in a rich, dark, fertile soil.

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

Article Reblogged From realestate.com by on July 4, 2013

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How’s Lakeville Responding to Our Housing Market?

Gails photo for MLS

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The real estate market never gets boring because it’s always evolving, or regressing depending on which period of time you’re talking about. Well, over the last 1 1/2 years it has been evolving again as homeowners have seen nice equity increases all while buyers have been able to take advantage of still low-interest rates. The seemingly endless wave of news clips that showed entire streets lined with FOR SALE signs still appear at the fore front of our minds, those images were seared in our mind from years of a high supply and very low demand for houses. If you haven’t tuned in recently you may not have realized that what was happening just a couple of years ago couldn’t be further from today’s reality. Now, in fact, our housing inventory is at a 10-year low and multiple offers are as common as the word “foreclosure” was just a few years ago.

Sellers are loving the hot activity on their listings but have different challenges when shopping around for their next home. Double moves, though inconvenient, are becoming a consideration for somebody selling and then buying because they may not have the luxury of simply picking a house, writing an acceptable offer, and closing in 60 days. Existing home buyers find themselves competing for the same listings and can sometimes lose out on a few homes before landing the right one. So, what are many people doing to avoid beating down doors only to find themselves in a multiple offer? They’re BUILDING! Lakeville specifically is in the top metro markets for new construction activity. Year-to-Date residential permits are at 151 compared to 97 during the same period one year ago. Impressive, right? I think it is when you consider that 97 was a huge gain from the year before and so on. We’re expecting the fall of 2013 into 2014 to be even higher.

If you’re familiar with Lakeville you’ve seen some of the changes occurring in housing but also road construction throughout the city. Here are a few of the developments that currently offer home-sites, or will soon be soon.

1.Crescent Ridge located just South of the Dodd and Highview intersection on the East side of Holyoke Ave. Builders consist of local custom home builders such as GBI Homes, C&M, Country Joe, Keyland, as well as a few others.

2.Donnelly Farms is located between Dodd and Holyoke, just across Holyoke from Crescent Ridge. GBI Homes and Brandl Anderson currently have models in this development though most lots are built on. A few options are still available.

3. Stoneborough is a 70 lot parcel that has model homes from KeyLand and GBI Homes. You will see a variety of styles at a lesser price point than other neighborhoods but act quick if you’re interested, these lots are mostly spoken for!

4. Aronson Bluffs is still a field but have heavy equipment ready and waiting to put streets in. You may know this area because it’s adjacent to Aronson Park that boasts a great playground, softball fields, and of course the Air Force Jet parked under a large gazebo! It’s on HWY 50 just East of the Lakeville Fire Station on Holyoke. Just a few local builders have home-sites in this development and presales have begun.

5. Summerlyn is located adjacent to Donnelly Farms to the North. Dodd and 194th. Big activity draws national builders which is what this neighborhood is. This development is currently being developed and if a planned neighborhood with a national builder is what you’re looking for, this may be a good fit.

6. Tullamore is another national builder neighborhood . It’s located in what some call the “Bermuda Triangle” because it has a Farmington/Apple Valley/Rosemount feel but is technically in Lakeville near the Pilot Knob and 170th intersection.

7. Rose Creek is a Ryland Homes planned neighborhood. This national builder has many of the same designs seen in their other planned communities and is still developing this site which is located on Dodd, near the Lakeville Police Station.

If you notice a reoccurring theme that Dodd is the artery for much of Lakevilles New Residential Construction, you’re right! This is largely why it’s currently being widened and a round a bout is being put in at the Highview intersection.

There may be other future sites and current home-site inventory not mentioned in this blog. Please contact me with updates and insight on anything missed OR contact me if you have question about styles, prices, or lot availability in any of these areas or South metro areas. If selling is part of the equation you have before you let us prepare a professional market analysis on your home and provide important tips on how to get the most out of your home!

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

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Simple Tips to Avoid a Wet Basement

imagesCAD8V8ZHWhat can I say about a wet basement? Nothing really, it’s the feeling that you get deep down in your stomach that does all the talking. If you’ve ever had one you know what I mean. The obvious disclaimer if you know me is that I’m not a home inspector or a contractor, however I have been in the business of being around houses as a real estate agent and home investor for roughly 13 years, and homeowner for several years prior to that. Unfortunately, I have experience with seeing how quickly a home can get water in the basement during a heavy rain or in the case of flooding, I’ve seen entire homes destroyed. If your home does suffer from a wet basement read these simple ways to dry out.

This blog isn’t to discuss the hazards of building in a flood plane or how to avoid losing your home when our raging rivers crest 15′ above their normal levels like they sometimes do. The simple, yet important, purpose of this blog is to give you some basic tips on things you can easily check and correct to keep your basement (and all of your possessions stored down there) safe from water damage.

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1. Grading! This is especially important to keep an eye on if your home is within a couple years old or even if it is 40 years old or older. In the case of a new home here is what happens. The builder essentially digs a hole. They build your house inside of that hole and then push the loose dirt back around your house to the grade, or slope, specified by the city approved grading plan. Great right? Well, yes and no. It’s great at first because the slope causes the water to run where it needs to and flows AWAY from the house….I said at first. Remember that I also said that they push the “loose dirt” back around the house? After a couple years of settling that loose dirt becomes compacted and settles, now causing the water to run TOWARD your home and down the foundation walls into what hopefully is a properly operating draing tile system. After your first year of living in your shiny new home you have likely covered the area within a couple feet of your house with decorative rock or mulch so it’s not easy to see your grading without moving that decorative material. After a few years its not a bad idea to pull back that material to get a good look at where the actual dirt is and if you need to add to it (hint: mulch is much easier to rake so keep that in mind when making your decorative material selection). To expand on the principal of settling dirt, this is why you also want to consider your grading if your home has been around for a long time. Follow these steps on how to properly grade your home.

2. Drain Tile: What is drain tile anyway? Well, unless you built your home with your own hands you likely have never seen your drain tile or photo 2unless you looked at the exciting foundation details as laid out on your building plan {sarcasm}. Drain tile is essentially a perferated black plastic tube that is laid around the perimeter of your house and then covered when they pour the concrete for your basement floor. In the grading section of this blog I mentioned that water can run down the foundation walls, and this will happen to a degree regardless of what you do to avoid it. Once that water reaches the ground in which your basement floor was laid on that water will begin to increase in depth until it finally seeps out of the basement walls around the perimeter of the basement UNLESS you have drain tile (tube) that allows the water to run to the central location in your basement called a SUMP BASKET. These are the black plastic holes that usually have a plastic cover and are usually positioned in the back corner of your basement. If you look into these baskets during a rain storm you may see water collecting in this area. If you don’t you likely have sandy or rocky soil that allows rain to pass through the ground and not collect as quickly as if you have soil with a higher clay content. In any case, whether you need it or not having a SUMP PUMP installed in this basket is not only wise but cheap insurance. Installing a sump pump is among the more simple DIY jobs you can get. Click here to see how its done. A properly operating sump pump & drain tile system will eject any threatening water through a pipe that exits the side of your house and get that water AWAY from your house. Because the water is usually ejected no more than 3-4 feet from your house you may want to invest a few dollars for an extension hose or have a french drain installed otherwise the water you ejected from your sump basket can likely run back down the foundation and overwhelm your system with the new water still entering the drain tile. If your home doesn’t already have drain tile, here’s a video on how you can install it.

3. Gutters! Have you sensed a pattern yet? Water is constantly trying to enter your house through the basement foundation and we either keep gutterstrying to push it away or flush it back outside. The visual I get is when there is a leak in a boat and the person in the boat keeps trying to bail the water back into the lake one bucket at a time. We know this is a relentless persuit and eventually something will give in and it won’t be the water. This is why it’s not only important to have a system to get incoming water out, but get it way out! Our roofs have large surface areas and guess where that water is headed….yup, to the walls of your home and down the foundation walls. We know water will enter through any leak in the roof but we don’t always think that water will come up from below, which is much more common than any other type of water intrusion. Install gutters with long downspout extensions. If you don’t have long extensions to get the water AWAY from your house your gutters can’t do the full job they are intended for. The entire job of the gutters is to collect roof water and get it as far away from the house as possible.

4. Cracks. Concrete is a material that may or may not crack, it WILL crack. Don’t be alarmed at the small narrow cracks that occur shortly after the new basement floor is laid, but address the larger cracks that happen over time especially if they are of varying heights. Whether cracks in the floor or cracks in the wall, these are prime opportunities for water to sneak into your basement. Seal those cracks as best you can and monitor them annually. If you’re not comfortable with this or think your crack is too big to simply apply sealant, ask a professional! Don’t leave water intrusion an open ended question as to whether or not you’re protected.

Wow! All this writing and only 4 points? I understand these are basic principles but they need to always be in the fore front of every homeowners mind, especially during a wet spring like we are having in Minnesota this year. I’ve seen far too many basements, actually have smelled far too many wet basements, to know that if one of these things arent’ followed that you can expect moisture of some kind. Two of the photos in this blog were taken of a brand new home that has a fully operating drain tile/sump pump system that just so happened to get overwhelmed because of grading issues and lack of gutters. In addition to this example, many existing home inspections will address the issue of low grading due to time and settling of the dirt around the home. Don’t let these things happen to your home.

photo 1                 stephanie water intrusion 2

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

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Lakeville Real Estate Opportunities

The current real estate market is thriving. Inventory is extremely low which is causing sellers to benefit from multiple offers on their listings, sometimes within days from listing. This is what you call a sellers market, right? Well at first glance perhaps, but if you consider the incredibly low interest rates and that fact that values are still depressed from where they were despite trending upward you might think it’s a buyers market based on how much home you can get for the dollar. I like to think of it as a buyers AND sellers market because both have great incentive to make a move now. Often times people in the market are both a buyer and a seller anyway so how can you NOT move now if it’s been something you have seriously considered over the last number of years but couldn’t due to the previously tormented market? For those who are happy in your homes and don’t need more closet space, larger backyard, bigger garage, more bedrooms, etc. then this post isn’t for you, but if you ask most homeowners whether or not there are things they would enjoy in a new home they would say without question, YES! I would like something different and even more so at such unbelievable rates and prices.

Here is an example of a fantastic home previously unavailable but because of our active market will make some family a wonderful home!
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17775 Iten Ct. Lakeville: You know those houses where if anything ever needs attention that it gets fixed immediately and is always in top condition because the owners love their home and take great pride in keeping it that way? Those houses where everything from the roof to the light fixtures are meticulously maintained and if something is causing the house not to show in its best light, that it gets replaced? Well, this is one of those homes.

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When two people live in a house for 21 years and one has a keen eye for design while the other is extraordinarily handy, you have a house that extends the normal boundaries of home ownership. You have a home that stands apart from the rest and simply shines. You have a home that calls family together around the holidays, a home that brings friends together for backyard BBQ’s, and one that brings pride to the people living there, because they get to call that place “Home”.

When walking up to the home on Iten you would already have noticed the quiet cul de sac that it’s located in. You would also see the extremely well maintained exterior siding, windows, and roof, which is a relief since these can be big ticket issues that are problems with some other houses. The decorative and beautifully designed wood front door is just a sample of what you can expect once inside, it tells guests that these homeowners care for their home and details matter.

027_Living Room LL View

During your tour inside you can’t help but to notice the kitchen. Cambria countertops, newer appliances, knock down ceilings, and efficient design remind you that this is what kitchens are meant to be. The kitchen is where people congregate, this space should be welcoming.

Continuing through the home you’ll see other attractive features such as upgraded flooring, cozy and comfortable family room, large storage spaces, but DO NOT overlook any of the 4 elegant bathrooms that are simply stunning! These are only made possible because of recent renovations. These bathrooms are uncommonly upgraded and modern, and are simply amazing! If you appreciate fine detail, you will appreciate every room throughout the home.

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The lot. A private heavily wooded ½ acre cul-de-sac lot that’s less than 4 minutes from 35W in Lakevill. Now, that’s a rare find. Oh! Don’t forget about the spacious screen porch that was designed and built to be a future 3 season porch. If it’s uncovered relaxation that you prefer during the summer months the large patio should be more than accommodating. Imagine spending a gorgeous summer afternoon in this backyard. The heavy tree coverage provides exceptional privacy for your backyard activities, whether it’s a game of catch or nap in your hammock.

Housing inventory is low in Lakeville, a gorgeous home like this on a lot like this is nearly impossible to find, unless you’re at 17775 Iten Ct.

**request our bulleted list of other important highlights that you can find in this home**

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9 Ways to Make a Kitchen Look Swank for Less

According to Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value survey, the average price of an upscale kitchen redo hovers about $113,000. Even the cost of a mid-range overhaul is a whopping $58,000.

However, sellers are rarely willing to invest the kind of time and money it takes to do that kind of remodeling job, especially one they’ll barely use before they move. But there are affordable alternatives to make this much-used gathering spot more appealing, both aesthetically and functionally. Here arenine easy-to-implement, easy-to-copy ideas for you to share with sellers and buyers. Tell them to try one, two, or perhaps all of them!

kitchen cabinets▪ Reuse existing elements in the kitchen when possible. “We try to take a hard look before we start any renovation to see what can be salvaged,” says architect Talia Braude, AIA, LEED AP, whose firm Braude Pankiewicz Architects is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. For example, when Braude found floor joists that were too damaged to be structurally sound, she reused them as kitchen shelves, for which they worked perfectly.

Go with affordable cabinets, possibly a line with simple maple, cherry, or oak rather than exotic imported wood or lacquered fronts. Also, opt for pressed rather than solid wood interiors and shelves to pare costs. Because cabinets often represent 50 percent to 60 percent of a remodeled kitchen’s cost, saving here brings down the price, says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s “Home Expert” based in Chicago. But if possible, spend a bit more on quality hardware that will eliminate wear and tear when opening and closing doors and drawers. One good place to start looking for affordable cabinets is at IKEA, says Braude, which her client Orli Belman did when remodeling a kitchen in her Los Angeles home. Belman saved even more by purchasing cabinets during IKEA’s kitchen sale. Other alternatives include replacing the doors (and reselling the old ones), or repaint cabinets with a product like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, an alkyd-based semi-gloss finish that yields a smooth, factory-like finish.

▪ Appliances are another huge cost factor in redoing a kitchen, and stainless-steel name brands are among the biggest offenders. Besides opting for less expensive black-and-white fronts and going with cheaper brands, Web sites like Craigslist and Overstock are good resources for new or little-used items others are trying to get rid of. Belman went those routes and found a double oven and refrigerator drawers on Craigslist, each for $400, when a construction project stalled. She estimates each would have cost about $3,000 retail. She also found an inexpensive but good faucet at Costco and discontinued Martha Stewart light fixtures on another Web site.

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Changing a countertop or several can add an instant fresh look, but instead of replacing them with high-end granite, marble, or manmade quartzes, Manfredini suggests covering tired laminate tops with RustOleum’s highly durable Countertop Transformation product, a three-part system that transforms them into look-alike granites in five different colors. Belman also found affordable butcher-block tops at IKEA.

A new backsplash can make a huge difference, and there are many self-adhesive tiles that are easy to install for DIY consumers, including those with the hot metal look in vintage or modern patterns and a host of sizes, shapes, and colors, Manfredini says. Savvy home owners also should consider contacting manufacturers, many of which offer overstocked goods for far less. For instance, Heath Ceramics has been known to sell them for 75 percent off retail at its factory showroom in Sausalito, Calif.

New lighting is one of the easiest switches to make and offers a big payback since it can make a kitchen look larger and highlight its best features, from a great island to kitchen table to new backsplash. Advise homeowners to locate new lighting under cabinets where main tasks are performed, within cabinets, especially glass-fronted ones, to show off cabinets and attractive contents, and over a dining table or island where one great fixture will shine, literally. When possible, opt for compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs to conserve energy, even though the initial price is higher. And if the bulb’s compatible with dimmers, it’s a great way to vary moods.

Though replacing an entire floor can be costly, time-consuming, and expensive, there are handsome options that will last and won’t break the bank. Durable and affordable options include Marmoleum, a sustainable linoleum, which no longer resembles what your parents or grandparents had but comes in hot colors and textures; old-growth bamboo that’s denser than new variations; and cork, another natural material that’s easily repairable if dings (or worse) occur. If a room is partly remodeled, often the floor can be saved with patching and restaining rather than replacing all of it, Braude says.

backsplash

Buyers should consider redoing the layout if it doesn’t work, then save elsewhere rather than the reverse, Braude advises. If they install all new cabinets and appliances, but keep the same old, poorly functioning kitchen plan, they probably won’t be pleased. It’s better for them to gain a new layout and budget elsewhere — maybe keep cabinets — and later replace them, she says.

Even when budgeting, home owners shouldn’t forget to add in one or two splurges for a focal point and some kind of “wow” element to raise the level of the renovation, even if it’s a budget one, Braude says. Examples include handcrafted tiles with beautiful finishes, colors, and patterns, and a great island countertop, perhaps fashioned from a gorgeous CaesarStone as Belman and her husband chose to add.

(RealtorMag June 2012 | By Barbara Ballinger)

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CMA. What is it?

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You may have heard the acronym “CMA” at some point in time and have wondered what it means, or you might know what it is but not exactly what the acronym stands for. The answer is simply this, “Comparable Market Analysis”. Basic right? The meaning isn’t necesarily as important as to why people have them done or how Realtors do them. In a previous blog, What is my home worth?, I talk about the different types of home values that people come across through the coarse of home ownership. Insured value, assessed value, appraised value, and market value. Market value is what people most care about because it gives homeowners an idea of how much equity, or lack thereof, they have in their home. A CMA does just that, it indicates what the market value is. Read What is my home worth? for more explanation on the variations of home value.

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When completing a CMA for a potential client, my primary focus is to get an accurate price range of where the subject house will fall. I do this by comparing the house to other similar homes using these 4 basic parameters, location, style, square footage, and year built. Regardless of what the seller has done to the home in terms of upgrades they will not cause the value to expand beyond the established upper and lower limits, unless there are unique circumstances such as if it’s on lakeshore or acreage. Once this range is revealed it’s up to the seller whether they want to update and invest money into the home to bring it to the upper limits of the range, or leave it as is and simply price accordingly. Most people tend to be moderate and do such things as change carpet, paint, and even slight staging which will result in a higher offer.

Now, the ultimate goal of having a CMA done is so an apples to apples approach can be made, thus revealing true market value by comparing the subject home to “like” homes which have SOLD,  rather than making an apples to oranges approach which in reality is what most houses are. Make no mistake, upgraded tile, maintenance free decking, new cabinets, and things like this matter very much and we always take them into account. However for the sake of keeping this article simple I only want to highlight the 4 major factors that dictate the value range that is set by the market, nothing else. From there we tweak and fine tune as much as possible.

Every accurate CMA is only as good as the market data available. Today, we have a lot more movement than we did just a couple years ago which greatly helps homeowners who request a CMA be done on their home, only now we’re in an upward trending market and value is a fast moving target…that blog post is for another day :)

Please, never hesitate to respond to my blogs with questions or comments.

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

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15 Important Staging Pointers

1)Clutter. It sneaks in when we aren’t looking.

The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid
of clutter. Make a house rule that for every new item that comes in, an old one
has to leave. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too
much furniture. When professional stagers descend on a home being prepped for
market, they often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the
house looks much bigger for it. You don’t have to whittle that drastically, but
take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

2)Furniture Grouping

There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all
the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead,
furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls. Reposition sofas and
chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic
flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly,
but it will open up the room and make it seem larger.

3)Musical Furniture

Give yourself permission to move furniture, artwork and accessories among rooms
on a whim. Just because you bought that armchair for the living room doesn’t
mean it won’t look great anchoring a sitting area in your bedroom. And try
perching a little-used dining-room table in front of a pretty window, top it
with buffet lamps and other accessories, and press it into service as a
beautiful writing desk or library table.

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4)Room Transformations

If you have a room that serves only to gather junk, repurpose it into something
that will add to the value of your home. The simple addition of a comfortable
armchair, a small table and a lamp in a stairwell nook will transform it into a
cozy reading spot. Or drape fabric on the walls of your basement, lay
inexpensive rubber padding or a carpet remnant on the floor and toss in a few
cushy pillows. Voila – a new meditation room or yoga studio.

5)Home Lighting

One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great
lighting. As it turns out, many of our homes are improperly lighted. To remedy
the problem, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of
100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per
room, either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or
overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall).

6)Make It Bigger

To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the
adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will
make both rooms feel like one big space. And make a sunporch look bigger and
more inviting by painting it green to reflect the color of nature. Another
design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls
the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated
look.

7)Neutral and Appealing

Painting a living room a fresh neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes
in the space. Even if you were weaned on off-white walls, take a chance and test
a quart of paint in a warm, neutral hue. These days, the definition of neutral
extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for
bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in
large spaces.

8)Color Experiment

Don’t be afraid to use dark paint in a powder room, dining room or bedroom. A
deep tone on the walls can make the space more intimate, dramatic and cozy. And
you don’t have to go whole hog – you can paint just an accent wall to draw
attention to a dramatic fireplace or a lovely set of windows. If you have
built-in bookcases or niches, experiment with painting the insides a color that
will make them pop — say, a soft sage green to set off the white pottery
displayed within.

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9)Vary Wall Hangings

If your home is like most, the art is hung in a high line encircling each room.
Big mistake. Placing your pictures, paintings and prints in such stereotypical
spots can render them almost invisible. Art displayed creatively makes it stand
out and shows off your space. So break up that line and vary the patterning and
grouping.

10)Three’s Company

Mixing the right accessories can make a room more inviting. When it comes to
eye-pleasing accessorizing, odd numbers are preferable, especially three. Rather
than lining up a trio of accessories in a row, imagine a triangle and place one
object at each point. Scale is important, too, so in your group of three be sure
to vary height and width, with the largest item at the back and the smallest in
front. For maximum effect, group accessories by color, shape, texture or some
other unifying element, stagers suggest.

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11)Raid Your Yard

Staged homes are almost always graced with fresh flowers and pricey orchid
arrangements, but you can get a similar effect simply by raiding your yard.
Budding magnolia clippings or unfurling fern fronds herald the arrival of
spring, summer blooms add splashes of cheerful color, blazing fall foliage warms
up your decor on chilly autumn days and holly branches heavy with berries look
smashing in winter.

12)Serene and Inviting

Create a relaxing bedroom setting with luxurious linens and soft colors that
will make a potential home buyer want to hang out. Bedroom staging trick: If you
don’t have the money to buy a new bed, just get the frame, buy an inexpensive
air mattress and dress it up with neutral-patterned bedding. And remember to
declutter. By cleaning out your closets, you’re showing off your storage space,
which sells houses – it always ranks high on buyers’ priority list.

13)New Faces

If you can’t afford new cabinets, just get new doors and drawer fronts. Then
paint everything to match and add new hardware. And instead of replacing the
entire dishwasher, you may be able to get a new front panel. Check with the
manufacturer to see if replacements are available for your model. If not,
laminate paper, which goes on like contact paper, can be used to re-cover the
existing panel.

14)Repairs

Unfinished projects can scare off potential buyers, so finish them. Missing
floorboards and large cracks in the sidewalk on the way to your door tend to be
a red flag, for example, and they cost you less to fix than buyers might deduct
from the asking price.lori-dennis-bathroom-blue-tile_lg

15)Prim and Polished

Having tile professionally painted can make a bathroom look brand new. And
accessorizing can make buyers feel like they’re in a spa. Put out items like
rolled-up towels, decorative baskets and candles. It’s a great way to create a
polished look, and it doesn’t cost much to do.

YOUR DREAM. YOUR HOME. OUR PURPOSE.

(tips taken from HGTV.com)

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