Archive for the 'Tips for Sellers' Category

Selling your home out of season? A great deck makes a difference

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In a perfect world, no one would ever have to face the challenge of trying to sell a house when there’s snow on the ground and the trees are bare. In reality, people have to sell and buy homes throughout the year.

While winter may not be the optimum season to showcase your landscaping, there is one improvement you can make that will help you boost your home’s outdoor appeal no matter what the season: a deck.

When potential buyers visit your home in winter, they might not be able to envision how green and lovely your backyard will look come spring. But they will be able to see with their own eyes the square footage that a deck adds to the home’s living space.

Decks, patios, sunrooms and porches have always been popular with home buyers, but real estate agents say that too often those spaces are neglected or not used to their best advantage. Yet outdoor improvements like a deck can significantly enhance your home’s value and appeal. In fact, at the time of resale, a deck will recoup, on average, about 73 percent of the original cost of building it, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report.

“Anything that adds living space adds value, and the least expensive way to gain space is to build a deck or turn the one you have into an outdoor room by staging it so that it flows seamlessly with the rest of the house,” says Mary Beth Harrison of The Harrison Group, a Dallas-based real estate agency. “A great deck can set your home apart from others with the same interior floor plan or square footage, and deck additions typically add value when it comes time to sell.”

The cooler temperatures of fall and early winter make the season a great time to add a deck to your home. Or, if you already have a deck, you can enhance its appeal by adding simple touches and accessories.

A bonus space – for example, a tiny deck or rarely used balcony off a master bedroom – can be transformed into a romantic getaway by staging it with cozy, cushioned seating and a raised firepit. You can safeguard your deck and add designer style with Latitudes deck stones, 16-inch interlocking square tiles made of natural slate or granite. Deck stones can provide an effective fire barrier that’s an asset under firepits or grills, or when used to create an outdoor kitchen.

Lighting is another way to boost appeal. LED deck lighting kits, like those offered by Deckorators, are both practical and visually appealing. Adding lighting to a deck can be an important safety feature, and also helps create a warm, welcoming mood for evening entertaining.

Another improvement that speaks to both safety and visual appeal are deck railings. Decorative railings with ornate balusters, post cap and postcovers can give virtually any wood or composite lumber deck a distinctive look for a modest investment.

“More than ever before, people look at their decks as outdoor entertainment areas,” says Chris Fox of Universal Forest Products, producers of Latitudes Composite decking and Railing and Deckorators, a leader in decking railing systems and deck accessories. “For some, it’s a kitchen; for others, a living room. Decks can be party spaces or quiet retreats. With so many different types of deck materials, lighting, rail systems and decorative accents, it’s possible to turn a plain deck into a great outdoor space.”

“Potential home buyers always react positively to nice decks that look like a great place to hang out,” says Harrison. “From a buyer’s perspective, if all else is equal, it’s true that the home with the best deck wins.”

Courtesy of ARA

Improving Home Prices Signal Housing Recovery says RE/MAX CEO

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly talks about the RE/MAX National Housing Report and positive market numbers that signal a housing recovery is underway. Visit or for the full March 2012 report.


Little Ways to Save Big on a Remodel

Monday, February 20th, 2012

By: Alexandra Bandon, This Old House magazine

Repair Rather Than Replace

Nothing on This Old House‘s East Boston project house seemed in worse shape than the stucco siding. Years of harsh winters had left giant cracks and gaping holes in the masonry surface. Making it worse was the ivy working its way into the cracks, opening a path for water to get behind the stucco. A complete replacement would have come in at $50,000.

Instead, after the ivy came down, a masonry crew patched the worst sections with new stucco over wire lath, then filled remaining cracks with caulk. Tom’s crew cleaned the entire surface using grinders fitted with wire wheels. Then painters applied a primer and two tinted layers of an elastomeric coating—basically a thick acrylic paint—which helps tie everything together and give it a smooth finish. The repairs cost $10,000.

What They Saved: $40,000

Roll Up Your Sleeves

The original front doors to the house (which had been in the basement for decades) were a bit the worse for wear. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t be spruced up. Chris and Liz stripped the original finish themselves, then Tom and TOH master carpenter Norm Abram reglued some joints and patched the worst spots with epoxy. Some new tempered and insulating glass, and the elegant 1916 doors with egg-and-dart detail were ready for action again, for only $480 in materials. Similar new doors could have cost $2,000.

What They Saved: $1,520


Limit Demolition

Because the entire house needed new wiring and insulation, on the first floor it was cost-effective to remove the cracked plaster ceilings to gain access. But Tom opted to leave the original wood lath in place, then wallboard over it. This saved on labor for sorting the debris, cleaning it up, and pulling all the nails left in the joists, and it reduced dumping fees.

What They Saved: $600

Rob Peter to Pay Paul

When Tom took down walls to enlarge the kitchens in both apartments, he had to contend with floorboards from adjoining rooms running in different directions, as well as missing flooring where the walls had stood. Seamlessly weaving in patches would have been very labor intensive, and the new wood wouldn’t have matched anyway; replacing with equivalent reclaimed heart pine throughout both kitchens would have cost about $26 a square foot for materials and labor. So Tom got creative.

In Liz’s kitchen, he cut the flooring at an angle in the middle of the room to echo the corner cabinet. Then he carefully pulled up all the boards on one side of the cut and relaid them on a diagonal. To salvage some extra flooring, he took boards from where the washer/dryer and the cabinets would go. In Chris’s kitchen, he pulled up all the boards that were turned the wrong way and relaid them so the floor would be uniform.

Replacing the floors would have required the same demolition, installation, and refinishing, plus the cost of new materials. So the only added labor here was the extra 2 1/2 hours it took to pull up the boards without destroying them.


Use Luxuries Selectively

A glass-tile backsplash is a beautiful detail in any kitchen, but installing one throughout could have set Liz back $1,500. The place where a backsplash was most necessary, however, was over the stove, to make cleaning up cooking splatters easier. Tiling only this 2-by-3-foot space cost her a doable $250.

What They Saved: $1,250


Adjust To Your Circumstances

Tom isn’t a fan of windows in a shower because, as he puts it, “you have exterior conditions—rain and heat—on the interior.” But in the case of the first- and second-floor bathrooms he had no choice; there was no room to move the openings and no budget for new windows set higher up on the wall. Removing them and closing up the walls would have cost $800 per window. So he created all-weather protection for the existing wood sash by painting them with exterior latex paint and using waterproof PVC, which costs the same as wood but won’t rot, for the window trim.

What They Saved: $1,600


Add Detail With Paint

Chris’s formal dining room came with nice top rails and battens on the walls. However, before the remodel, the trim was finished in a dark stain and just looked like applied molding on the white walls. By painting the moldings white and the spaces in between them a coordinating warm beige—different from the pale-blue field above the rail—the bottom half of the wall looks more like it’s actually paneled. Real wood or even MDF paneling for the room would have run as much as $4,000. The paint job was a mere $700.

What They Saved: $3,300


Stick With Stock

A kitchen can be outfitted for a lot of money—with custom cabinetry and paneled appliances—or for a whole lot less if you order up off-the-shelf items. Chris’s seaside-cottage look was easy to achieve with stock white cabinets and beadboard doors; white appliances blended right in. But even some nice finishing details were created with stock items. The panels on the side of the refrigerator and the island are actually pieced together from affordable stock cabinet doors, rather than custom pieces.

What They Saved: $1,025


Be Open To Open Shelves And Doors

Chris’s old kitchen had a small, doorless room that held the fridge; Tom turned the space into a food pantry, lining it with open shelving and forgoing the lower cabinets often found in pantries (saving $1,000). He also left off the pantry’s entry door (a $350 item). To make the highly visible alcove blend with the rest of the kitchen, he lined the walls with beadboard.

What They Saved: $1,350


Reuse Existing Materials

Liz’s kitchen expansion meant that a built-in china cabinet lost its surroundings. Meanwhile, Chris’s third-floor laundry area needed a linen closet. Rather than toss aside an attractive feature of the original house, Tom repurposed the leaded-glass cabinet front (the sides and back had been the walls) in Chris’s laundry room. New cabinet doors and drawers with that kind of detail would have run upward of $3,700. The labor to move the old cabinet and give it sides and a back cost about $200.

What They Saved: $3,500

Total Savings: $70,145

To learn more, click here

What’s the Best Day of the Week to List a House for Sale?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Depending upon which day of week you list a house for sale, you may have better luck in selling it, suggests a new study.

You only have one chance to make a first impression with your listing, and it’s best to do that on Friday, the study notes. Homes listed on Friday are 12 percent more likely to sell within 90 days, and these Friday-listed homes also are likely to be toured more by potential buyers, according to the study by Redfin, which analyzed sales data of more than 1 million listings over nearly a 2-year timespan to determine if a certain day of week tended to generate higher sales.

So what’s so special about Friday? According to Redfin, buyers tend to tour homes on the weekends and, therefore, homes listed on Fridays tend to be the most top-of-mind when they’re plotting out their weekend.

“It also seems likely that many home buyers sort their weekend ‘must see’ lists by date listed, going to see the freshest homes first so they have the best chance of getting in on a potential good deal before other buyers,” the Redfin blog suggests.

Redfin also found in its study:

  • Homes listed on Sunday were found to get slightly more online views.
  • Homes listed on Friday get toured 19 percent more than homes listed on other days of the week.
  • Homes listed on Friday or Thursday tend to sell for slightly closer to the original list price.

For more information on this article, click here

Top 10 Rules for Staging Homes from The Stagers

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Matthew Finlason gives his home staging tips to help you get ready for a home sale.

1. Grab them from the curb.
You’ve seen them. Buyers hunkered low in their cars in front of your house, doing drive-bys before deciding whether to request a showing or attend an open house. Make these potential buyers fall in love with your home from the street by adding potted plants and flowers, power-washing patios and walkways, weeding the garden and mowing the lawn. It’s your first chance to make a good impression, so you’ve got to make it count.

2. Make it sparkle.
Pretend that your mother or mother-in-law is coming for a visit. Think hotel clean. Mop, dust, vacuum, wash windows, baseboards — even the cat. Remember that people will look in your cupboards, under your sinks and in your closets. Also, pay particular attention to odors. You might even consider consulting a neutral nose by having a friend come by for a smell test.

3. Pay attention to color and light.
You may love hot pink in the living room, but too-bright colors turn buyers off. Neutralize strong colors for the broadest appeal. A neutral home appears larger and has less chance of offending someone. Also, open up blinds and draperies to make sure there’s sufficient natural light throughout the home. Remember, lighting is the most effective way to set a mood.

4. Depersonalize.
Few things deter buyers more than a cluttered home. They need to see your home, not your stuff. Excessive personal items like photos, collections, personal awards, electronics and collectibles will make it difficult for buyers to see past your personal style and may deter a sale. Taking yourself out of the picture makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves, and their stuff, in your space.

5. Consider replacing furnishings.
Think about removing or replacing worn or outdated furnishings and get rid of extra pieces. The time has come to move beyond matching furniture, so break up your sets; dated can easily become eclectic with editing and rearranging. Consider consulting with a professional staging company for design direction and advice on rental furnishings to create an inviting home with broad appeal to a wide range of buyers.

6. Invest in new artwork.
Displaying new artwork is a great way to breathe new life into a room. Photography can be used to contemporize a room and add a splash of color as well.

7. Make repairs.
Make your home a high-maintenance zone. Repair squeaky doors, chipped or smudged paint as well as broken fixtures and fittings that you’ve neglected.

8. Apply a fresh coat of paint.
It’s the best bang for your buck that will quickly refresh a dull, dated room. Slap a fresh, neutral color on the space. Choose a beige or taupe for living spaces and a neutral green or blue for bathrooms.

9. Don’t forget the floors.
Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new area rug is a quick fix and can disguise the look of old floors.

10. Spring for new light fixtures.
Renew the look of the room by replacing old or dated light fixtures, door hardware, light switches and outlets. If it’s tacky and older than you, get it out of there.

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