6 easy, affordable smart home features that could help you sell your house faster

(BPT) – Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 – when you’re selling your home, you’ll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.

“Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient – all of which are bonuses when you’re trying to sell a house,” says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. “Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers.”

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:

* Keyless/remote entry door locks – Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock – available from multiple manufacturers – you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

* Smart lighting – From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

* DIY security systems – Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

* Smart appliances – The Internet of Things (IoT) – everyday objects that have network connectivity – includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you – and each other – wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone – so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

* Smart plugs – One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

* Temperature controls – Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

“Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install,” Lewis says. “Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017.”

From make-do to all new – updates to create your dream kitchen

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new kitchen(BPT) – Homeowners have spent more on kitchen remodeling than any other home improvement category in the last 10 years, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies – and there’s good reason. An updated kitchen does more than boost the value of your home; whether you make just a few changes or completely renovate the entire space, a kitchen that feels new is always refreshing. From basic cooking to frequent entertaining, your dream kitchen should look good and function well.

Since the kitchen is ever-evolving, so are the products available. Skip the fads and include ideas that are aesthetically pleasing and withstand the test of time. Here are a few updates that will turn your current space into the one you’ve been dreaming about.

Think sinks

When remodeling a kitchen, homeowners often overlook the sink, but it’s one element that can make a valuable style statement. While shopping for a new sink and faucet, search for the highest quality materials, like stainless steel, that are just as beautiful as they are practical.

If you’re looking for a dramatic focal point – as well as a sink that can accommodate all your pots, baking sheets and glasses – try an apron-front design. This style has been modernized, accessorized and streamlined to suit the needs of today’s homeowners. Moen also offers a stainless steel version that gives this classic a contemporary twist.

With a great number of faucets on the market, there’s a design for everyone. The timeless feel of a traditional kitchen is still the most popular. If you want the perfect mix of fashion and function, try the new Brookshire kitchen faucet from Moen, which features decorative touches and classic styling with a pullout design for at-your-fingertips water delivery. It’s equipped with the Reflex system for pulldown and pullout faucets, which offers self-retraction of the spray wand, as well as an exceptional range of motion, generous reach and secure docking retraction.

Be smart with appliances

Unlike a rug or lamp, kitchen appliances are not simple to return, so be smart when upgrading these items. Before making a purchase, it’s best to work with a professional for guidance, and weigh all factors, such as who uses the kitchen, how many people are cooking at one time and how often your family cooks.

If you’re an aspiring chef, consider a gas range that allows you to control the flame with precision. If you’re a busy mom, electric versions allow you to heat food and boil water faster. It’s also important to consider finishes – if the rest of your fixtures are brushed nickel, you may want to opt for a stainless steel range, refrigerator and dishwasher for a coordinated look.

Remember, even if a feature sounds interesting, it doesn’t mean you need it. It’s best to purchase what suits your needs and lifestyle. By making smart choices, and not splurging on unnecessary features, you’ll have the budget to spend money where it matters most for you.

Add an island

Add beauty, function and value to the heart of the home with an island. Many homeowners choose to build an island within their kitchen as a place for family and friends to gather and socialize. A multi-level design with stools on one side can provide casual seating for guests, leaving the other side available for you to prepare food or serve appetizers.

If you like to cook and entertain, you may also want a design that includes a bar/prep sink and beverage faucet – this will aid in prep and provide fresh drinking water. The SIP beverage faucet from Moen offers a coordinating style for every decorating taste. Enjoy cold, filtered water on demand, and the high-arc rotating spout allows for extra convenience when filling pitchers, coffee makers and more. For more information on Moen products, visit www.moen.com or call 800-BUY-MOEN.






Home Owners Redefine the Luxury Bathroom


©Teresa Butler 2014. All rights reserved.

Luxury bathrooms are undergoing a makeover in recent years, according to a new survey about trends in new construction by the Home Innovation Research Labs, which surveyed about 1,400 home builders earlier this year.

“Since the recession, there has been a lot of trade-offs,” says Ed Hudson, director of HIRL’s market-research division, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders.

What’s out? Whirlpool bathtubs and stand-alone bidets, down 9.4 percent and 34.9 percent, respectively, since 2008.

What’s in? His-and-hers shower stalls and chrome lavatory sink faucets, up 12.9 percent and 25 percent, respectively. A standard bathtub has also increased in popularity by 9.5 percent since 2008.

In some cases, buyers are toning down guest bathrooms and placing more emphasis on the master suite, says Scott Hobbs, president of Hobbs Inc., a custom home builder in New Canaan, Conn. But they’re making the bathroom less showy and more contemporary since the recession, adds Leo Birov, founder of Heritage Luxury Builders in Northfield, Ill.

“Everything looks more transitional now,” Birov told The Wall Street Journal. Popular features he sees include heated floors, steam showers, and computerized controls.

In general, new homes today are less ornate than they were in the housing boom, says April Saxe, a real estate professional with Houlihan Lawrence, which sells multimillion-dollar homes in New York. “The [whirlpool] tub has certainly been on the way out,” she told The Wall Street Journal. Instead, buyers are looking to use the space for a soaking tub or a shower stall.

Source: “Homeowners Jettison Whirlpool Tubs,” The Wall Street Journal 

Add curb appeal to your home inspired by architecture

19576338_web(BPT) – When you drive through your neighborhood, you may notice a variety of architectural styles. There might be a traditional colonial with evenly spaced windows. Down the road may be an ornate Victorian. On the corner there may be a craftsman home with an inviting front porch. Others may include a mixture of different styles combined to create a unique home.

If you want to give your home a fresh new look, it’s easy to update your curb appeal based on the style of architecture you like. No matter the type of home you live in, you can find affordable and unique ways to create a new look for your home.

“A versatile product like trim is a great way to make your home stand out. With a cedar wood grain texture on one side and a smooth finish on the other, a reversible product like MiraTEC Treated Exterior Composite Trim offers even more creative options than traditional wood trim and it works with any type of siding, stone or brick,” says Bob Merrill, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for JELD-WEN, inc. “Traditional wood trim can split, crack and rot over time, but MiraTEC trim was designed to resist moisture rot and termites, so your home will look great for years to come. Plus it’s easy to handle, cut and nail.”

To give your home the look and feel of a colonial, trim can be used to create decorative shutters that are characteristic of this home style. Victorian homes have complex designs with multi-faceted rooflines and ornate details. To add unique Victorian details to your home, trim can be machined into brackets, spindles and gingerbread scrolls. For an added touch, don’t forget to use bright splashes of color.

Craftsman homes are influenced by the arts and crafts movement and often feature front porches with tapered columns, nature-inspired colors and exposed rafter tails and beams. To give your home a distinctive craftsman style, plain porch posts can be transformed with tapered column wraps made from trim. If you have deep roof eaves, trim can also be used to create decorative rafter tails and beams.

To learn more about trim and affordable ways to add curb appeal to your home, visit www.miratectrim.com.

Weekend home upgrades: fast, affordable fix-ups

(ARA) – With today’s falling home prices, one family’s well-worn dwelling can quickly become another’s dream “starter” home. Interest rates are at historic lows, meaning buyers can get more house than they could a year ago for the same monthly mortgage payment, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

But affording a new home is one thing; affording to remodel it is another. Here are some cost-efficient upgrades that are easy enough to accomplish in a single weekend.

Start at the front door

Whether you’re fixing up a newly purchased home or upgrading your current home to attract a buyer, nothing creates a better first impression than a new front entry door. Installing a new entryway door increases the perceived value of a home by up to $24,000, according to a national valuation study conducted by Therma-Tru and TNS, an independent research organization.

Beyond adding curb appeal to your home, installing an energy-efficient door is an important consideration, if you’re fixing up an older home. Houses built before 1939 use about 50 percent more energy per square foot than those built after 2000, according to a Time magazine report. The main culprit is tiny cracks and gaps that can expand over time and let in more outside air.

One way to get both beauty and energy efficiency is to choose a door from the Therma-Tru Fiber-Classic Mahogany Collection. The collection includes new styles perfect for homes with popular architectural designs including Craftsman, bungalow, arts and crafts, mission and cottage motifs, and offer the high style, rich look and warmth of Mahogany hardwood, but at a value price compared with premium wood doors. Each door is constructed of durable fiberglass, is ENERGY STAR qualified, provides five times the insulation of a wood door and will not rot, split, crack or rot like wood, or rust, dent or ding like steel. The doors create the tightest seal possible, creating an energy efficient envelope that stabilizes interior temperature and helps you decrease your home’s energy costs.

As an added value, homeowners who purchase and install certain styles of Therma-Tru doors may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $1,500 per household through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the Economic Stimulus package). Visit www.thermatru.com for more information.

Set the stage with lighting

Upgrading the interior lighting can also make a big difference in your home. Designers often use “layered” lighting — a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting — to create a quality of light that not only looks and feels better, but is also better-suited to activities that can take place in any given room.

While you may not be in a position to install an entirely new lighting system in your home, there is a simple and affordable upgrade within easy reach. Light dimmers are available for as little as a few dollars at local home centers and hardware stores and can be installed by any do-it-yourselfer in minutes. (Just remember to turn off the circuit breaker before starting.) Lutron Electronics offers a variety of models to suit any decor or budget, and the manufacturer’s technical support team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to walk you through the installation process. Just go to lutron.com or call (800) 523-9466.

According to the Department of Energy, artificial lighting consumes almost 15 percent of a household’s electricity use. Dimming an incandescent bulb by just 15 percent reduces energy use by 15 percent and doubles the life of the bulb. The more you dim the light, the more energy you save.

Make a splash with color

Adding a new coat of paint is another easy, inexpensive upgrade. Depending on the shade you select, your room can be dramatically different or simply refreshed.

The paint you choose can also keep your home looking fresher over time. For example, Duration Home Interior Latex from Sherwin-Williams is perfect for high-traffic hallways, bathrooms, kids’ rooms and anywhere long-wearing durability, antimicrobial properties and stain resistance is a must. It’s tough enough to withstand repeated cleanings without visible wear, no matter what shade is selected (choose from 1,200 colors, including deep accent shades).

As you add color, add a splash of sustainability, too. A low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and low odor paint such as Duration Home can help ensure better indoor air quality, and it’s manufactured using sustainable processes. For paint tips and ideas visit sherwin-williams.com or your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Walk-in Showers Gain in Popularity

Home owners are choosing showers over tubs, despite the long-standing notion that it is important to have a tub for resale value.

“We’re definitely seeing a trend toward walk-in showers versus tubs,” says Katie Campbell, sales manager for the Heritage of Palatine, a Chicago-area development where homes are priced from $221,900. “We used to do a lot of big soaking tubs with shower stalls in the master bathroom, but we had a lot of people eliminate the tub because they wanted a bigger shower.

“Having at least one tub in the house is still important because some buyers want them, insists Kathy Dames-Mattox, an associate with ReMax of Joliet. But she advises homeowners not to spend a lot of money on whirlpool tubs. “I don’t see whirlpool tubs as being a big deal anymore,” Dames-Mattox says. “Everybody who adds one says they never use it.

“Source: Chicago Tribune, Allison E. Beatty (07/03/2009)

Homeowners and Homebuilders Seek Eco-Friendly Materials

(ARA) – With the country going green, many homeowners are looking for eco-friendly materials when building or remodeling their home. And as more homeowners struggle with high utility bills and become more concerned about the environment, many are building and updating their homes to be more eco-friendly.
The latest housing trend shows that many new homebuilders are constructing “green” homes. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders reports that eco-friendly construction will climb from 2 percent of all residential housing starts in 2005 to between 5 and 10 percent in 2010.
For those consumers in older or newer, there are many easy, affordable and immediate steps they can take to make their home more environmentally friendly.
* Lower the temperature on your thermostat. By lowering it just one degree, you can reduce heating costs in your home by nearly 4 percent.
* Install low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. These help reduce water consumption and water heating costs by as much as 50 percent.
* Repair leaky faucets. One drop per second from a leaky faucet can waste as much as 10 gallons of water each week.
* Purchase appliances with the Energy Star rating. An Energy Star-qualified refrigerator would save enough electricity to light a home for more than four- and-a-half months compared to a refrigerator from 1990.
* Select renewable resources when purchasing flooring products. Bamboo and cork surfaces are excellent choices for those wishing to purchase an eco-friendly product that will also provide a beautiful look in their home. Bamboo is actually a grass and replenishes itself naturally in the wild, so by using bamboo, consumers preserve the habitat of endangered wildlife. In addition to bamboo, cork is also another great option for those wishing to have a green or eco-friendly home. Cork is considered a green product because the same tree can be harvested numerous times. It is also durable, acoustical, long-lasting and is the best flooring available for allergy sufferers.
One popular retailer of bamboo and cork flooring is Lumber Liquidators. The company offers 13 varieties from three brands—Morning Star Bamboo, Supreme Bamboo and Schön Engineered Flooring—in varying sizes of floor boards and finishes. Lumber Liquidators also offers four different cork flooring options from Lisbon Cork that all come with a 25-year warranty.
“We’re at an age where consumers are becoming more concerned about what they put in their bodies, and in their homes,” said Tom Sullivan, founder and chairman of Lumber Liquidators
While constructing a green home from the ground up may not be doable for many homeowners, these suggestions can help make their existing homes more green and even help save some money in the process.
Courtesy of ARAcontent