Home improvements that make your home more valuable

(BPT) – More and more homeowners are embarking upon home improvement projects, spending nearly $200 billion a year on home renovations, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If you’re looking to make some home improvements without breaking the bank, spend smartly and invest time and money now into the projects that will pay back later.

Curb appeal

When it comes to first impressions, house hunters first notice curb appeal, or lack thereof. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers. So beautify the outdoor space to attract possible buyers by focusing on small exterior improvements that’ll pay off big like planting seasonal shrubs, painting the front door, refreshing a rusty mailbox or replacing old porch lighting with updated fixtures. These minor details will make a major and lasting statement. At the very least, you should clean the yard of any debris, trim trees and spread mulch in planting beds.

Take outdoor renovations to the next level by transforming the look of your home completely with a fresh coat of paint. Be mindful of your home’s location when selecting paint colors. Bold or bright colors might be the norm in Florida but wouldn’t look right in a region like the Pacific Northwest where neutral earth tones are popular.

You can also increase the value of your home by giving your siding material an overhaul. Remodeling magazine suggests replacing aluminum and vinyl siding with a durable fiber-cement mixture, which will recoup about 88 percent of its cost upon resale. It resists fire, rotting, moisture and termites – all potential hazards that could otherwise end up costing thousands.

“Let your insurance agent know whenever you complete a renovation project to make sure any new upgrades to your home are properly covered under your existing policy. If not, your agent can work with you to make sure you get the coverage you need,” says Erie Insurance Vice President and Product Manager Joe Vahey. “In addition, some home improvement upgrades may entitle you to discounts, especially if renovations make the home safer or more secure.” For example, Erie Insurance offers discounts for installing smoke alarms or a central station alarm. Erie also provides a discount for installing sprinkler systems in your home.

Bed, bath and beyond

As house hunters head indoors, there are a few things that are likely to increase a sale. Most tend to look at kitchens and baths first. Experts recommend timeless fixtures instead of trendy ones since they hold their own over time and appeal to buyers who favor both contemporary and classic looks. Don’t waste your money on fancy fixtures and features – they rarely make or break a sale.

Most people seem to think that a huge kitchen overhaul is necessary to snag interested buyers. However, Remodeling Magazine reports that you’ll actually recoup 8.5 percent more of the costs of a minor kitchen renovation compared to a major kitchen renovation. So instead of redoing the kitchen completely, accomplish a few minor DIY kitchen updates like changing out faucets and lighting fixtures, painting cabinets, adding new hardware to drawers and cabinets, and replacing old appliances with newer (and often more energy-efficient) models.

Experts also say that adding an attic bedroom and finishing the basement are two of the largest renovations that give you the best return on your investment, allowing you to recoup more than 84 percent and nearly 78 percent of the cost, respectively.

Before jumping into complicated or expensive DIY projects, take a moment to assess which ones are worth your time and money. Test your knowledge of which home improvement projects give you the most bang for your buck at www.eriesense.com.

No matter what updates you end up doing, it’s always a good idea to regularly assess the value of your home. This will assure you’re asking for an appropriate return on investment when you finally decide to put it on the market.

Create a ‘wow-worthy’ home entry using fun and free online design tools

23332217(BPT) – Entire TV shows are dedicated to it, and real estate agents say it is essential when selling your home. So what is “curb appeal?” More importantly, how do you create it for your home?

Even if you’re not planning to sell your home any time soon, some simple steps to boost the attractiveness of your home from the street (so called “curb appeal”) can make it feel more appealing to you and your guests.

Start with the front door

From TV to magazines to popular websites, many home improvement experts call out the front door as one of the most important aspects for creating curb appeal. “While curb appeal depends on many factors – landscaping and siding, lighting and lawn care – the front door, the focal point of the facade, trumps the others in terms of importance,” says Donna Boyle Schwartz, a home furnishing writer and editor. Schwartz and other experts offer a range of tips for enlivening your front door.

At the most basic level, a new coat of paint for the front door is a simple and inexpensive update that only takes a few hours to complete. More homeowners are experimenting with bold primary colors on their doors to make the front of their home pop. But if you’re worried that a bright yellow or red might be too much for your tastes, several paint manufacturers offer free online color visualization tools. With a few clicks, you can see how any hue will look next to the color of your home’s siding and trim.

Other ways to perk-up your front door include new handles and locksets. A quick visit to Pinterest.com, Houzz.com or other no-cost to access online resources will show you the range of creative options available.

For many homeowners, the ultimate way to perk-up their front entry is by replacing the door. “Not only does replacing your front entry door kick up your curb appeal, it’s a solid investment with a decent payback,” explains home improvement journalist Karin Beuerlein on HouseLogic.com. A new door provides opportunities to personalize the home’s entry to best suit your current tastes. Whether it’s a major style change like a switch from Colonial to contemporary, a different type of decorative glass or your favorite wood species, manufacturers offer many ways to make a front door truly your own.

As with paint, many homeowners find it difficult to picture how different door styles would look on their homes. “To make the process of finding a door simple and fun, we’ve created a range of free online design tools,” notes Brad Loveless, product development and marketing manager for Simpson Door Company. “Called Doormagination, these tools include a ‘test drive,’ in which you can upload a photo of your home and compare different door designs.” Such tools allow people to quickly explore the range of options and to see what their personalized door will look like before they order it.

You don’t have to be a design guru to add curb appeal to your home. Paint and door manufacturers, even some local landscape companies, now offer fun and easy-to-use tools to create a “wow-worthy” home entry.

Sell your home fast with these 3 often-overlooked home-staging tricks

23044785(BPT) – If you’ll be selling your home this spring or summer, your Realtor will probably talk to you about staging the house to maximize its appeal to buyers. Staging is a simple process that can have a big impact on how quickly your home sells and, Realtors say, how much buyers are willing to pay for it.

If you’ve decided to stage your home for a speedier, more profitable sale this season, keep in mind these three often-overlooked tricks to make your home look, feel and smell great:

Employ aromatherapy

“Aromas significantly impact emotions, so making your house smell good is a great way to appeal to potential buyers on a very elemental level,” says Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, an essential oil brand “But be careful to not overwhelm with scents that are too ‘perfumey’ or synthetic, as those could cause adverse reactions in people who suffer from allergies. Instead, opt for natural freshening scents like lemon or purifying scents like eucalyptus.”

Avery suggests warming water on the stove with a few drops of your favorite essential oil such as cinnamon, clove, vanilla or orange. It’s a quick, low-cost way to create a welcoming aroma in your home. Deodorize carpets with a mixture of 18 drops of essential oil and 1 cup of baking soda. Or, you can easily create your own air freshener by mixing your favorite essential oils and distilled water in a spray bottle. For longer-lasting, comforting aroma, try this recipe for aroma crystals:

Vanilla amber aroma crystals

Ingredients:

1 cup coarse-grained, chunky sea salt

1 teaspoon jojoba or grapeseed oil (just enough to make the salts glisten)

25 drops Aura Cacia Vanilla Precious Essentials Oil

10 drops lavender essential oil

10 drops sweet orange essential oil

Directions:

Mix salt and oils, pour into a decorative dish or bowl and set out on a table. Placing the crystals in a warm sunny window or near a heat register will help diffuse the delicious aroma throughout the room. Stir in additional essential oils to boost the scent as needed.

Declutter even where you don’t think it counts

Your real estate agent will likely tell you to declutter — removing extra items from kitchen countertops and from tables throughout the home, packing away family photos and excess knick-knacks. All those things are important, but what happens when a potential buyer opens the hallway closet, or goes into the walk-in closet in your master bedroom?

It’s important to declutter everywhere, not just the spots you immediately see when you walk into a house. Serious buyers will open drawers, cabinets and closets and if those spots are stuffed full, they’ll look smaller, less impressive and unappealing.

Likewise, clean out your garage; it’s hard for a buyer to appreciate the expansiveness of your two-car garage if that’s where you’ve stored all the boxes of stuff you removed from the house. If you have a lot of stuff to pack away, consider renting a storage unit for a few months.

Clean as if your life depended on it

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, but even a hint of dirt in either room can wipe out a buyer’s good impression of your home. A deep clean is essential in these rooms, and will create a positive effect on multiple levels; your home will look and smell clean, fresh and newer.

In the bathroom, be sure bathtubs and showers are meticulously clean. Descale showerheads and glass shower doors, clean and polish metal drain grates as well as fixtures. Clean grout, mirrors and every crevice. Add a few drops of lemon or sweet orange essential oils to sink and shower drains to keep them smelling fresh.

In the kitchen, in addition to clean countertops, floors and appliance exteriors, make sure the inside of ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers are also clean. Since kitchen appliances usually come with the house, buyers may look inside them. Change the filter in your kitchen hood and make sure the light over the stove is working. Finally, while clean windows are important throughout the house, they’re essential in a kitchen where buyers want to envision themselves in a bright, welcoming environment.

For more staging tips, contact me at 614-565-8161 or Teresa@TeresaButler.com. I will send you my free staging e-book.

10 little fixes to sell a home faster

3339632149_a310f5e3b0_zThe devil is really in the details when buyers look at a home. Lots of everyday wear and tear that you don’t even notice can ding your home in the eyes of potential buyers. Here’s my list of ten simple improvements you can do to help your home sell faster:

  1. Spruce up your baseboards: Pets, kids, and stumbling husbands in the dark can make a mess of your baseboards. Repainting baseboards after repairing scratches with putty can make the border of any room look new.
  1. Fill in nail holes: Part of interior repainting should be careful attention to those errant nail holes from pictures, shelves, and other wall-mounted baubles. Putty, smooth, sand and paint!
  1. Sniff for smokers: Filter replacement is a must if someone’s been puffing in your home. Also wash down those walls, prime them to seal in any cooked-in nicotine, and repaint. Be sure to check entryways and lawns for cigarette butts, too!
  1. Review the roof: Do you have missing singles? Broken tiles? Is mold and moss sprouting up there? Do some cleaning and spot replacing.
  1. Reinforce your gutters: Clean them out, dry them out, then caulk them to prevent leaks. This will keep water off the siding, reducing staining and damage.
  1. Replace bad vinyl floors: Not only are they tacky when they’re cracked or cut, but they can suggest water damage to buyers.
  1. Repair dripping faucets: Buyers will turn faucets on and off. What will they find? If your sinks and baths dribble, fix them before buyers imagine their future headache.
  1. Tune up screens: Did you have a dog that liked to lean against the front door? Look for the sagging, hanging, bent, and bubbling screens, especially around doors. New screens look clean. Old screens suggest neglect.
  1. Patch cabinet scratches: Tibet Almond Stick, Old English Scratch Cover, or even some artful re-staining can make cabinets seem new. Remember to polish them up when you’re done!
  1. Reseal wobbly toilets: If the bowl moves when you sit on it, the bolts are rusted, or the bathroom floor is damp and discolored around the commode, replace the toilet or at the very least reseal it.

Download the Staging Report for more tips on preparing your home for sale.

5 tips for creating fall curb appeal

20682647(BPT) – Soon, all things pumpkin spice will be here, including the home visitors that bring them. In preparation of the door bell ringing, create a little spice of your own with some seasonal curb appeal. You don’t have to limit yourself to pumpkins and hay bales — below are tips and projects for sprucing up your home’s view from the curb this season.

Front door, first impressions

Your front door is one of the first things people notice about your home. Give your door a fresh face with a coat of paint in a bold fall color to draw the eye to this focal point of your home.

Another project is to replace the door entirely. Consider options with decorative glass accents, and stunning sidelights (windows on either side of the door) to add more natural light while maintaining a sense of style and privacy. Plus, as temperatures start to drop, Energy Star -qualified entry doors, like those from Pella, will help maintain your home’s energy efficiency. For entry door inspiration check out Pinterest, your resident showroom or your local home improvement store.

Accessorize with new hardware

Replace your front door hardware for a quick, easy facelift. Choose hardware finishes that compliment light fixtures, mailbox and house numbers for a polished, cohesive look. You’ll be delightfully surprised what a difference new hardware can make in creating an updated look to your home.

Refresh exterior body and trim colors

For a dramatic change, repaint your home’s exterior. It’s bold and can make your home stand out from other homes on the block. Not up for the bold change? To make an impact with a smaller change, add new trim colors. When updating trim, choose color schemes that match your home’s primary exterior color, or complement it with a fresh twist.

Create points of interest with plants

You don’t have to stop enjoying beautiful plants and flowers simply because summer is over. Add pops of color by arranging pots filled with hearty fall flowers like mums, sedum or asters around your front door, or on a porch or deck. Incorporate planters or container gardens of varied sizes, shapes and colors to add visual interest.

Accent with lighting

As summer light fades into shorter, darker days, add exterior accent lighting to the front of your home. Illuminate a walking path with ground-insert solar lights. Or consider solar spotlights to bring out landscaping or to shine on your updated front door. Install matching light fixtures outside your front door, garage door or patio door to provide well-lit entrances that are stylish and inviting to neighbors and guests.

For more curb appeal inspiration, follow Pella on Pinterest and Houzz and visit Pella.com to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

What is your front door saying to buyers?

Picture8The front door is the first impression buyers will get of your home. So, what is yours saying to potential buyers?

I am safe. The exterior-grade door is strong, sturdy and functions properly. It has a heavy-duty dead-bolt with a 1” throw bolt (never just privacy knobs or other interior grade handle sets).

I am strong. The door is heavy-duty and free of deterioration, water dam- age, evidence of previous forced entry, or rot.

I am working. Handles and hinges are fastened properly and the door closes easily and securely. It doesn’t creak, squeak or rub the frame. It re- quires only normal pressure and oper- ation to close tightly. The doorbell is fully intact and functions.

I am beautiful. The overall curb ap- peal at the front door is high. The door is freshly painted, neat and clean and plants, mats, and overhead lighting welcome approaching guests.

I am energy efficient. The door has intact and properly-installed weatherstripping and it fits properly in the frame, without gaps.

 

5 Ways To Improve Curb Appeal

SUMMER2838710_101_12 (Small)It’s common knowledge that before selling, it’s important to spruce up the outside of the home to give a good first-impression to potential buyers.

Small upgrades to a home’s exterior like adding a fresh coat of paint to a front door, installing new landscaping, and adding a new deck easy are ways to increase a home’s value and add curb appeal.

In fact, 2015’s Cost vs Value remodeling survey showed that smaller replacement projects “are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door” and bring the largest payback.

According to the Huffington Post, these five exterior home improvement projects will help owners boost a home’s curb appeal:

  1. Sprucing up the landscaping. A recent study found that a home landscape upgrade can raise a home’s overall value by 10 percent to 12 percent. If deciding what to plant and when to plant it is overwhelming, talk to experts at a local gardening store. For large landscape undertakings, it may be worth it to hire a landscape architect.
  2. Cleaning windows. Have you cleaned the front windows lately? It’s an easy way to make a nice first-impression. Power washing the home’s exterior can also increase curb appeal. While power washing can be done by homeowners, it’s highly suggested to reach out to a professional for help just to be safe.
  3. Upgrading window shutters and the front door. A quick way to turn off potential buyers is an outdated front door. “A dated front door makes a house look cheap, and a worn front door makes a house uncared for or old,” says Huffington Post writer Ashley Wren Collins. The good news is simply upgrading to a steel door is inexpensive and ranks highest on the payback scale, returning 101.8 percent nationally, on average, according to the 2015 Cost vs. Value survey.
  4. Driveway resurfacing. A well maintained smooth driveway is an obvious sign for buyers that a home is taken care of.
  5. Giving the deck a face-lift. According to Wren Collins, “when it comes to showings and open houses, prospective buyers will remember the expansive feel that a wide deck provides.” If the home doesn’t have a deck in the first place, adding a wood deck recoups 80.5 percent of the cost, according to the Cost vs Value survey. Even cleaning and sanding an existing deck will give prospective buyers a good impression of the home.

Source:“5 Outdoor Home Improvements to Increase the Curb Appeal of Your House,” Huffington Post,

7 Landscaping Mistakes that Wreck Curb Appeal

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2015 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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Can Home Staging Really Win Over Buyers?

SONY DSCHome staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even motivate them to pay more, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging, a survey of more than 2,300 REALTORS® representing buyers and sellers.

Eighty-one percent of REALTORS® who represent buyers say that staged homes make it easier for their home buyers to visualize a property as their future home. Forty-six percent of buyer agents also reported that staging makes their buyers more willing to tour a home they viewed online, and 45 percent say that buyers tend to view the value of the home more positively if it is decorated to buyers’ tastes.

Twenty-eight percent of agents said their buyers are even more willing to overlook other property faults if a home is staged, according to NAR’s survey.

Buyer agents also say that staging can potentially influence how much their buyers are willing to offer for a home. According to the survey, thirty-two percent of buyer agents surveyed say that staged homes increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer for a home by 1 percent to 5 percent; 16 percent said it could increase offers by 6 percent to 10 percent.

However, not everyone chooses to stage a home in prepping it for sale. Forty-four percent of seller agents say they only suggest that sellers declutter and fix property faults, and they do not recommend that their clients should professionally stage the home.

Indeed, about 34 percent of seller agents surveyed say they stage all the homes they list; 13 percent stage only “difficult” homes to sell; and 4 percent only stage high-priced homes they list, according to the NAR survey.

Here are additional findings from the NAR survey:

  • The median dollar value to stage a home: $675 per home
  • Among homes that are staged, here’s how it is often paid for: 62 percent of sellers’ agents offer the home staging servicing to sellers; 39 percent say that the sellers pay for staging prior to the home being listed; 10 percent of sellers pay for staging after the home is sold; and 3 percent of agents’ firms pay for the home staging service.
  • The three most important rooms to be staged for buyers: living room, kitchen, and master bedroom.

By REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

Make a grand entrance: simple ideas to refresh your entryway

18662454_thumb(BPT) – Most people enter their home through the garage or backdoor, forgetting how the front entrance looks to neighbors and guests. Your front door is often the first thing others notice about your home. That’s why it’s key to make a positive first impression.

How to create an inviting entrance

Transform your home’s curb appeal with a new front door. With so many new entry door systems to choose from, ranging from single doors, to double-door options, to those accented with decorative glass, or transoms and sidelights, it’s easy to find one that fits your budget and your style. Pella offers stylish wood, fiberglass or steel options. Choose from ENERGY STAR-qualified design options to create a distinctive look, whether you’re building a new home, remodeling, or simply replacing an old door.

Pick a standout color for your front door

Sticking with your door? A fresh coat of paint will do wonders. Try a bold color to brighten a neutral color scheme. Pick a color that coordinates with your home’s exterior, but dare to be bold with color contrast to add eye appeal.

Update your hardware

Why stop with a fresh coat of paint? Refresh old doors with new hardware. Choose handles and door knockers that complement your home’s exterior design. Pella offers hardware in a variety of finishes, to instantly upgrade exterior doors.

Replace broken or damaged items

Replace broken light fixtures, burned out bulbs and worn out weather-stripping on exterior doors. Pitch that faded wreath, worn out mat, and dead plants, and instead, add a bright new welcome mat and eye-catching seasonal decorations.

Clean up, accent with contrast

Use a little elbow grease and ammonia-free, vinegar-based glass cleaner to wash the windows. Wipe down window and door frames and sweep sills with a dry paint brush or vacuum to remove dirt. See pella.com/news for tips on cleaning windows and doors.

Fill flower boxes or containers with boldly-colored plants to accent your front door. If you’ve painted your door red, plant red and white or red and purple flowers to create a designer look. Or if you’re keen on green doors, try purple or orange flowers for contrast.

Illuminate your walkway

Make it easy for others to see the way to your front door at night. Transform and illuminate walkways with easy-to-install solar lights. Stake them in the ground positioned so solar cells get enough southern exposure for sunlight to recharge nightlights during the day.

Trim bushes, create great container gardens

Landscaping should accent your home, not dominate it. Keep bushes below the bottom sill of your windows to improve your view. Trim or replace overgrown shrubs and trees. Keep plant material trimmed several feet away from your home to minimize damage from wind or insects, and help eliminate a place for prowlers to lurk. Keep your porch and steps clear of clutter and create container gardens to accent your entry. Fill decorative containers with plants that accent your home’s color scheme, front door and landscape design.

Visit Pella Windows and Doors on Pinterest and Houzz for more design inspiration and Pella.com/news to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

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