As a listing agent, clients are always asking which updates and renovations offer the biggest return on investment when they go to sell their house.
Although it varies from client to client, typically I suggest 4 things.
Increase Your Curb Appeal
The outdoor presentation says a lot about the care of the home. Chipped paint, rusted shutters, broken gutters and wild bushes imply that there isn’t a lot of care being put into the property. Walking up the driveway, down the sidewalk and up to the front door, your mind almost anticipates opening the door to find something frightening. Freshen up the exterior paint job of the home. Get the front door, garage door, the trim, address numbers and even some of the accents like gutters, mailboxes and bird houses. Make those colors pop both in the photography and in person. If your home is susceptible to dirt, grime and mold, give it a good pressure washing. You want potential buyers to be excited to see your home and first impressions not only matter, but set the tone for the showing.
Update Your Kitchen
It’s been said that kitchens sell houses. It’s true. It’s the most common gathering place in the home. Your kitchen being up to date and functional is an important aspect of getting top dollar for your home. How does your kitchen look and feel? Is it clean, bright and spacious? Does it flow well? Make sure the appliances are relatively new and in working order. Clean them inside and out. Believe it or not, some buyers will actually open the appliances. Make sure that your secondary kitchen items work such as your Lazy Susan, your rolling beverage cart or your countertop butcher blocks. Replace or update any countertops that need it. Replacing the countertops and kitchen island tops add value and present well. Make sure the backsplashes, lighting and fixtures compliment the space as well. Consider painting the kitchen to give it that bright and airy look and feel.
Update Your Bathroom
Kitchen and bathroom updates can offer upwards of 70% return on investment. Home buyers are looking for relaxing owner’s suites. A big part of that is a nice, cozy and welcoming bathroom. Consider how the bathrooms present themselves to potential buyers. Are they nice and clean? Are the bathrooms dark and dingy looking or do they feel fresh and clean? Make sure to tackle that dirty grout. How do the countertops and cabinets look in the bathroom? Make sure all the hardware looks sleek and modern and don’t forget to complete the space with new or clean mirrors and towel racks, toothbrush holders and other complimentary accessories.
Improve Your Outdoor Living Area
Buyers love to visualize themselves in the backyard entertaining company. Adding a sitting area or fire pit to the back yard is easy, affordable and a great return on investment. If you don’t already have a focal point in the backyard, consider adding a deck and putting up a gazebo or canopy. An outdoor fireplace can also be a wonderful addition. If you already have a nice outdoor space, be sure to clean and spruce it up. Getting a great return on investment and maximizing the value of your home doesn't have to be particularly hard or expensive and using these tips is a great place to start!
Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don't forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase then the price of the home. Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.
We’ve entered December. The Thanksgiving decorations are coming down and people are gearing up for Christmas and New Year’s. And while most people are taking it easy during these months and appreciating the holidays, there are people that are still out there looking to buy their next home. In fact, if you’ve been considering putting your home up for sale, it might behoove you to go ahead and do so.
Here are the things you should consider when deciding whether to go ahead and list your home.
The winter and holiday season could be a great time to list your home because some people would prefer to sell their home in the Spring. And that means few homes on the market and a smaller inventory. Depending on where you live, it can be cold and it can get dark before you get off work. People are less likely to sign up for boxing belongings, allowing strangers to come through their home all times of day and finding a new place to buy or move to themselves. Companies do fewer relocations in the winter months which eliminates those home sellers and people plan and schedule family vacations for this time of year. It’s hard to go home shopping when you’re out of town visiting in-laws and other relatives.
Complementing the concept of less competition is the idea that the buyers that are out right now looking at homes are serious buyers. You’re less likely to have the looky-loos and the people out touring homes or open houses in Winter months. It’s cold. It’s rainy. It’s dark. So buyers who are out looking for homes in the winter are typically pre approved, ready to go and highly motivated for one reason or another. Buyers willing to put themselves through the process of purchasing a home during the holidays are usually going to see it through. In fact, they may even try to close earlier or make concessions favorable to the sellers so they can get in for the holidays. Buyers who want to be “in the house by Christmas” are going to push the Realtor, Lender and Attorney to make it happen.
One aspect of selling your home in the winter time that gets overlooked is how your home looks in the Winter and specifically during the holiday season. Seeing a home staged for the holidays can actually persuade home buyers to pull the trigger on a home. If they walk in and your home has a cozy and festive atmosphere, it could enable the buyers to envision themselves there and even encourage them to buy the home.
You’re Ready to Buy
Removing a contingency is a big deal. If you’re in a market that is highly competitive, you know that having a contingent offer likely results in the sellers going with another offer. If you have already sold your house in the Winter, you are ready to go when Spring and Summer gets here. You’ll likely have a nice down payment, some debt paid off and most importantly, no contingency on your offer when you find your dream home.
As a homeowner, you should begin to consider what you’ll do to protect your home as the weather gets colder. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time and effort to make sure your home is ready for the seasonal change and here are the top four tips I give my clients.
1. Change all the filters and the dryer lint trap. Now that you’re running the air conditioner less and less, it would be a great time to service and make sure your unit is operating smoothly and efficiently. In fact, hiring a professional HVAC technician to come by and check the actual unit isn’t a bad idea. The easiest thing you can do as a homeowner though, is change the filters. It helps keep the air clean and circulating easier and you’re going to want everything to be neat and clean as you transition to using the heater. Whenever I think of changing the filters, I think of the lint trap in the dryer. You should be cleaning that out regularly already but if you’re not, now is the time to make sure you do that. You should also look into having a professional come out and clean out all the ducts from your dryer. Lint and dust collects in the ducts running between your dryer and the vent on the exterior of the home. That is an overlooked maintenance item for almost everyone.
2. Clean out your gutters. Fall is the time for trees to lose their leaves. Leaves and tree debris can cause a lot of damage when left unattended to. Not only can they damage your roof but they can clog your gutters. Clogged gutters and blocked water flow from rain or snow can lead to major issues. Not only could your gutters break or collapse if they’re too full but puddles around the house could cause damage to your yard or even the house’s foundation. Hop on a ladder and make sure your gutters are working well and the water will flow through and away from the home when there is heavy rain.
3. Aerate, fertilize and seed your lawn. The best time to make your lawn look great in the Spring and Summer is to do the work in the Fall. Aerating, fertilizing and seeding your lawn in the Fall gets the grass ready to grow and green in the Spring. It’s not nearly as complicated as one would think. If you’ve never done this before, you can Google the methods and strategies that work best for your area and type of grass your yard has. You can usually rent the equipment from Lowe’s or Home Depot and probably knock it out on a Saturday morning.
4. Clean out your fireplace. It won’t be long before you’re ready to use the fireplace. Whether you have a gas or wood burning fireplace, Fall is the perfect time to make sure that the chimney and fireplace area are clean. Ashes, dust, bird’s nests and other debris could have easily collected since the last time you used the fireplace so you’ll want to make sure everything is clean and safe to use before you fire it up again.
Purchasing a home can be an exciting experience. It can also seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. The home buying process can be simplified if we take it step by step. And the first step to purchasing your home is to get pre approved with your mortgage lender of choice. Here’s why.
Getting pre approved sets your budget.
When you start working with a mortgage lender, they will have access to your financial information. They will look at your credit, your debt, your income and your other assets and liabilities and they will be able to tell you how much qualify for and what your budget is.
It’s important to know your budget before you go out looking for homes. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a home and learning that it’s out of your price range. And there’s nothing better than finding out you can actually afford to buy a bigger and better home than you assumed you could.
Your mortgage lender will not only be able to tell you how much money you can afford but he/she can tell you what types of loans you qualify for. Maybe you qualify for buyer assistance or a zero down payment program. Or maybe you have to put 10 or 20 percent down. Knowing these things ahead of time will effect how you shop for your home.
Getting pre approved shows that you are really ready to make a real estate purchase. When buyers aren’t willing to talk with mortgage lenders yet, it shows a lack of commitment. Realtors work on commissions. They don’t get paid to drive around and show pretty houses to people who can’t buy them.
As a Realtor, I give the buyers that are ready, willing and able my first priority. They’re the ones I’ll adjust my schedule for. They’re the ones I’ll go the extra mile for. I’m not likely to drop everything I’m doing on a Saturday for someone that won’t show the same level of commitment. So if you want to show your Realtor that you are serious and ready to go, get pre approved with a mortgage lender.
Getting pre approved assures the seller.
In today’s market, it is expected that home buyers include their pre approval letter or some sort of proof of funds with their offer. Wanting to buy a home and being able to are completely different things.
Depending on the price point and neighborhood, homes are selling in weeks, days and even hours. Buyers need to be ready to pounce and ready to compete with other buyers to get the homes they want.
Conversely, if you’re a seller and you get multiple offers, which one are you going to go with? You’re going to go with the buyer who not only has comparable terms (sales price, contingencies and concessions), but who seems to be in a stable financial position with the appropriate purchasing power. A pre approval letter from your mortgage lender goes a long way in proving that.
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