4 Factors that Devalue Your Home

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

Before listing your home for sale on the market, a few home improvements may be needed to increase your property's value. There are some important factors that could devalue your property, some of which are in your control and others which aren't. By being aware of these issues, it might provide you with additional perspective when it comes time to sell your property.

  1. Poor Location Above all, location may be the most important consideration when a home buyer looks for a new home.Properties close to key services and transportation options are usually high in demand. You can't do much about the location of your home, and it's possible that your home used to be in an ideal location but the neighborhood has changed around it. An experienced local real estate agent may be able to find creative ways to enhance the property's positives and downplay its negative aspects.
  2. Bad Renovations You may try remodeling your home to increase its value, but poor renovation choices can have the opposite effect. Repainting a home to a garish color, going overboard on kitchen or bathroom renovations or over-personalizing certain rooms can sometimes devalue your home. That's why most remodeling experts suggest that you undergo fairly modest renovations if you plan to sell your home in the near future. By choosing neutral colors and depersonalizing the home, home buyers may be more attracted to it.
  3. An Unattractive Front Yard The front yard is the first thing a prospective home buyer sees, and they can become immediately disinterested in the home for sale if the yard is unkempt and unappealing. Keep your yard neat and simple to attract a home buyer. A home that looks outdated or worn down on the outside can be unattractive to a potential buyer. A lawn with complicated landscaping and amenities might also turn away a home buyer looking for something that requires less maintenance.
  4. The Home's Interior Home buyers want to feel comfortable in a prospective home, so it’s important that your home provides an appealing atmosphere. Pet smells, an unclean interior and evidence of shoddy upkeep can all deter a home buyer. Maintaining a clean home is a must during the home selling process.

Five Overlooked Ways to Prepare Your Home for Sale

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

Have you decided to sell your home? Read our tips from the experts on how to prepare your home to sell fast!

Five Overlooked Ways to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Congratulations! You've decided to list your home on the market. You know it's a well-cared-for house and you feel confident you'll be able to sell it for asking price.

Well, maybe "confident" isn't the right word. You hope you'll be able to get your asking price, but you wouldn't mind having an extra push to help put the odds in your favor. You know, just a tiny boost to help you sleep more peacefully at night.

Your home deserves to be shown in the best possible light. Fortunately, there are small steps you can take to facilitate this - tiny improvements which don't require much time or money.

Here are five often-overlooked ways you can prepare your home for sale.

  1. Repaint the Trim

You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars meticulously painting every room of your house.

Instead, for a tiny investment, brighten the trim. We're referring to baseboards, crown molding, and trim around doorways and windows. Focus on the interior of your house first. If you have the time and resources, paint the exterior trim as well.

Adding a new layer of paint to the trim can bring instant life back into your home, making the space feel fresher and cleaner.

Speaking of which ...

  1. Hire a Professional House Cleaner

Unless you're excellent at deep cleaning, you should seriously consider investing a few hundred dollars in hiring a professional house cleaner.

They can undertake a thorough top-to-bottom scrub down, which includes cleaning the grout, polishing the faucets, wiping down the ceiling fan blades, and dislodging every crumb out of that irritating gap between your stove and countertop.

An ultra-clean house makes a huge difference in the eyes of a buyer. It can lead to the "wow" factor that may help put your home sale over the top.

  1. Steam Clean the Carpets

Vacuuming the carpets is a good start, but when was the last time you had the carpets in your home professionally steamed-cleaned?

This type of cleaning can lift the smallest stains and imperfections out of your carpets. Your carpets will look as new as possible, at a substantially cheaper price than the cost of a replacement.

You can rent a carpet cleaner from a hardware store if you want to take the DIY route. However, you may get better results by hiring a professional company to take care of this on your behalf. Read online reviews about companies in your area or ask your real estate agent for recommendations.

  1. Clear the Clutter

You may have a memory associated with every item in your living room - that old Coca-Cola glass bottle, a baseball cap from your hometown team - but a prospective buyer will view this as clutter.

Clutter overwhelms a space, distracting from your home's more beautiful elements. Many people won't notice the high ceilings or large windows if their attention is refocused on a pile of old magazines, heaps of unopened mail, and random wires, cables, tools, board games and DVDs scattered about everywhere.

Clutter also makes a space feel smaller. Your walk-in closet might be amply sized, but if it's overstuffed with old clothes, jackets, boxes, suitcases and bags, your prospective buyers will think the closet space is insufficient. It doesn't matter that the closet is actually bigger than the buyer's first apartment; all they'll see is the mess. You don't want to showcase an empty closet - this looks uninviting - but you don't want one that's bursting at the seams, either.

Before you open your home for any showings, dedicate a weekend to clearing clutter from your home. Donate unused or unwanted items to a thrift store, or sell your old wares on eBay or Craigslist. If there's inadequate space in your home for items you truly want or need, rent a storage unit.

  1. Stage the Home

Professional investors often hire 'staging companies' to fill a home with furniture in order to showcase its potential.

If you're still living in your current home, you're already one step ahead of the game: your space is already furnished. Now you just need to up the ante by a notch, so that your home looks magazine-worthy.

Place a bouquet of fresh flowers on the coffee table. Position matching rolled towels next to the bathtub with a tiny decorative bar of soap placed on top. Arrange the bedspread so that the pillows create a 'wow' factor when buyers first enter the room.

Pay attention to fragrances within your home, as well. Light a scented candle (with a neutral aroma, like vanilla) in the bathroom or bedroom. Bake cookies just before a showing, so the smell lingers in the kitchen. Conversely, avoid cooking bacon just before a showing.

Open every window blind and curtain, to maximize the natural light that pours through. Keep the lights on in every room during open houses, so that every space appears bright and inviting.

Taking just a little bit of time to spruce up your home may result in better, faster and higher offers. You want potential buyers to fall in love at first sight. A cleaner, brighter look goes a long way toward helping you close the deal and walk away satisfied.

4 Tips to Selling an Inherited Property by Coldwell Banker

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

One difficult topic real estate agents routinely have to discuss is about selling an inherited home from a parent when they pass away. It is a situation that is an overwhelming experience, one filled with emotions and many questions. While talking about it is difficult, it is smart to be prepared. This includes having conversations as a family to determine who will be included in the will to inherit the home, where the deed to the home is kept and where other paperwork is located.

After the estate has been settled and the home received as an inheritance, deciding to sell, rent or keep the home is the first step which will help determine what to do next. For those who decide to sell the home, it is a good idea to work with a team of professionals including a lawyer and a real estate agents who can offer advice and guidance throughout the process.

Although each situation is unique, the professionals at Coldwell Banker have provided the following four tips to help prepare to sell an inherited home:

  1. Assemble a strong team of professionals. Working with a real estate agent, lawyer and potentially a tax specialist can help make the process of selling an inherited property go more smoothly. A team of professionals can give the guidance necessary to prepare the home for sale and get all of the affairs in order. A real estate agent can offer crucial, local market information that is especially helpful if the heir does not live nearby. Lawyers and tax specialists can help put all of the processes in order to ensure that selling the home is as easy on you and your family as possible.
  2. Do a home walk through and get organized. Going from room to room and looking at everything from the condition of the floors to how fresh the paint looks can help determine what may need to be done to the home to help it sell more quickly. If the inherited property is older, a home inspection is important before making any decisions as there may be certain systems that need renovations. Equally important is to gather all of the necessary paperwork such as the deed to the home as well as researching whether there are any mortgages on the inherited property that need to be paid. Even if the original mortgage was paid off, a reverse mortgage may have been negotiated to help cover expenses. Also looking into local property taxes and when they were last paid is important.
  3. Have the home appraised and price it correctly. Property received as an inheritance is not considered to be income by the beneficiary. The adjusted basis of a home is its fair market value at the time it was inherited, so it is important to get an accurate appraisal of the home. A real estate agent can also provide counsel on an appropriate listing price to match market value. Out-of-town beneficiaries can also find it difficult to select competent appraisers, inspectors and other professionals to assist in the home selling process, all of which a real estate agent can assist with.
  4. Consider staging or other cosmetic improvements. Although not necessary in all markets or price ranges, home staging can be the difference in getting a home sold in a price-competitive market. An inherited property may not be furnished in the style of other local homes on the market selling at a similar price. A real estate agent can help determine whether or not home staging is a good fit for a specific situation. They may also suggest making home design improvements such as repainting rooms and/or landscaping the yard or other parts of the property. Make sure the lawn and landscaping look good and that the exterior of the house is in good condition. Low curb appeal can keep potential buyers from researching a home they may otherwise love. Perhaps most importantly, having an experienced real estate agent to answer questions quickly and accurately frees up time to devote to other activities and events.


Money Saving Energy Upgrades that Appeal to Buyers

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

Money Saving Energy Upgrades that Appeal to Buyers

Many sellers shy away from renovating their homes before selling them in an effort to avoid spending unnecessary money. However, buyers today are often looking for energy-efficient amenities, which can be hard to come by in older homes. The good news is that energy-efficient updates don't have to cost you much, and can help attract buyers in a competitive market. Here are a few home improvements you can make without spending a fortune.

Install Energy-Efficient Products and Features

Consider investing in energy-efficient products and features throughout your home such as a washer and dryer or refrigerator. These types of features can keep energy bills low and help owners manage their new homeowner costs. By purchasing these energy-efficient appliances, you may also save money on your own energy bills during the selling process and earn tax benefits after the purchase.

Replace Windows

Energy-efficient window replacements can also make a difference in attracting buyers and lowering utility bills. Windows are the first place many homeowners and energy auditors examine for leaks and cracks that can lead to higher energy bills.

Put in a New Furnace

Home heating costs can add up, and replacing old or damaged furnaces can be pricey. However, new, energy-efficient furnaces are becoming increasingly popular and more affordable. In fact, Energy Star furnaces add 16 percent more efficiency than traditional furnaces and can save owners up to $96 per year in costs.

It may also be beneficial to conduct a home energy audit to determine where efficiency can be improved. This is a great way for you to pinpoint where in the home needs extra attention, energy wise.


4 Tips for Selling a Home in Today’s Real Estate Market

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

4 Easy Ways to Stage Your Home to Make It More Attractive to Home Buyers

So you're ready to sell your home - but is your home ready? These quick and easy steps to stage your home are inexpensive, but will really stand out to buyers and increase the appeal of your home.

  1. Clean up

The first step to staging your home is storing away the clutter. This will depersonalize your home and allow potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house. This is also a great opportunity to get rid of or donate items you don't want to transport to your new place.

  1. A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Freshen up and stage your home by painting your walls. This hide any marks, fingerprints, or discoloration and make your home feel refreshed and new again. Choose light, neutral shades when painting to allow potential buyers to easily personalize the home with the color of their choice.

  1. Consider Your Lighting

Stage your home with great lighting. Do a walk-through of your home to make sure plenty of natural light is coming in throughout the day. Purchasing LED lights are a great energy-efficient option that will brighten up any room.

  1. Step Up Your Curb Appeal

Your home should make a great first impression from the moment potential buyers drive up. Hiring professional landscapers will ensure your lawn and shrubbery are manicured to be most appealing to buyers. Make sure bushes and trees are trimmed and pruned, and that any flower beds are well-maintained.


Staging a Home: Dos and Don’ts for Your Open House

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

An open house is a chance to show off your home and increase the number of bids from potential buyers. Most real estate agents agree that first impressions can make or break a sale. Therefore, open house preparation is just as important as the event itself.

Make Sure the Home is Spotless

Cleanliness and space are the first two characteristics potential buyers notice, so it's crucial to make sure your home is clean from top to bottom. Floors, counters and walls should be scrubbed and cleaned, furniture should be orderly, beds should be made and no clutter, dirty laundry or paperwork should be left in the open. If home buyers see a dirty and cluttered house, this may be the only image they remember when they leave.

Store All Personal Items

The goal of an open house is to attract buyers, so be sure to keep home decor as neutral as possible. To depersonalize your home, put away any photos and sentimental objects.

Clear the Home of Pets

One factor you may forget about is your pets. While fish or other animals inside an enclosed container are unlikely to pose difficulties, prospective buyers may not appreciate being greeted or followed by a dog or cat. Some may even be allergic to or dislike pets. While this has nothing to do with your home directly, it can still impact their memories of the walkthrough experience.

If you have any pets, make sure no lingering smells permeate through your home. For example, cat litter boxes can add an unpleasant smell to a room and make it less appealing to buyers.

Leave the Home during the Open House

You may be tempted to stay for the open house to show buyers around and explain the characteristics of your house. However, according to a recent article in Parade Magazine, this puts unnecessary pressure on visitors. Real estate agents may be more experienced to answer questions and potential buyers are likely to be more open to providing feedback about the home if speaking with a professional, rather than a homeowner.


Home Improvements that Increase the Value of Your Home

LaTanya Junior, Realtor February 28, 2016

Learn what home improvements you should consider to increase the value of your home.

Home Improvements that Increase the Value of Your Home

The housing market remains competitive for home sellers. National and regional builders spend hundreds of thousands of dollars researching what home buyers want and purposefully market their houses to these same buyers. Location remains a top priority, but home sellers have a better likelihood of achieving the sales price they seek by investing a bit of time and money into home improvements and basic upgrades.

Improve the first room home buyers visit

The Great Recession led to many American families rediscovering their joy of cooking and spending time together at home. Many families continue to opt for home cooked meals over dining out as their economic situation improves. For parties and social get-togethers, the kitchen is usually the gathering spot and often the topic of conversation. While the kitchen can be the most expensive room to remodel, industry experts agree that a few hundred dollars invested in new faucets and lighting fixtures can revitalize the look of an entire kitchen. Home sellers do not have to take on the high cost of replacing counter tops to give their cabinets a fresh look. New paint or a thorough cleaning can help brighten the entire room. Sellers want buyers to think about the time they will enjoy in the kitchen, not the high cost of needed repairs and upgrades.

Upgrade Appliances

Having to purchase all new appliances on top of purchasing a new home is daunting for any potential buyer. This is one of the main attractions of new constructions. Home buyers know they will have a few worry-free years before any costly repairs or appliance replacements. Sellers may want to consider offering an allowance for new appliances to be part of an accepted contract. This helps the seller ensure they get the price they want and provides some peace of mind for buyers. Sellers should consult with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent about federal and state laws for these agreements. To avoid any confusion, agents for both buyers and sellers must carefully review wording and discuss it with their clients.

Improve the appearance of the bathrooms

Bathrooms have changed over the years. Some older homes have small bathrooms that lack the appeal of the spacious lavatories found in modern houses. Rather than invest in replacing existing tiles, sellers can brighten the look of bathrooms by re-grouting and replacing the few tiles that may be chipped or missing. It is important that the room be clean and as new-looking as possible without spending a considerable amount of money.

Add a fresh coat of paint

The best investment any seller can make is in interior and exterior paint. Designers and industry experts claim the payback is typically up to 300 percent. For color ideas and the latest trends, sellers should consult with a Coldwell Banker® brand agent prior to choosing colors. Advice from a knowledgeable third-party is preferred over thoughts from friends and family about what they think looks good.

Improve the entryway and front door

Any front door can look new again with a fresh coat of paint. Be sure the entire area is clear of spider webs and leaves. A worn out door knob and lock make the house appear old and run down. It is worth investing in new hardware for the front door to make a good first impression.

Rather than tackling all of these projects at once, sellers should formulate a written plan and accomplish them over a period of months. Strive to have all upgrades complete before putting the house on the market.