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Friday, September 14, 2018

Sellers Checklist for Fall

Autumn is increasingly becoming a hot sales season, ranking just behind summer in the annual hierarchy. Many people travel less and kids are in school. There can be a bit more urgency to sell in the fall, with the holidays looming and days-on-market stacking up. This can lead to some deals for buyers and easier negotiations.

There are a few things a seller should know about selling homes on the market in September, October and November. This checklist should help you as you prepare to get that property off the market by Thanksgiving.

1. Keep it neat

Leaves, limbs and dead plants are one of the biggest killers of curb appeal, and in the fall they are plentiful. You may want to hire a service, if necessary, to pick up leaves (not just mow over them) at least once a week while they're falling heavily. Switch out browning summer flowers for pots of hardy mums or marigolds. Some "fall decorating" is acceptable, but keep it tame. Not everyone loves the cornstalk-and-scarecrow motif. Keep exterior Halloween decorations tasteful and minimize the amount of time they are out, though a family atmosphere certainly will appeal to a number of clients.

2. Keep an eye on the details

Fall is a good time to give a listed house a good exterior scrub. Summer rains have probably streaked the windows, you may want to get them professionally washed. Sweep and perhaps even rearrange outdoor entertaining areas. With the focus switching from barbecues to fire pits, to optimize and show off the versatility of their outdoor space. Now also might be a good time to update the photos on the home's online listing, as well, to show its versatility and give those who may have passed on it once another reason to consider the property.

3. Safety first

Fireplaces, wood stoves and furnaces can make a home comfortable and cozy when the weather turns chilly, but they are also some of the biggest safety hazards in a home, and certainly potential stumbling blocks when it comes to inspections and negotiations. You may want to have your chimneys swept, fireplaces tested, wood stoves inspected and furnaces serviced before they are put into use (that means do it now). Remember to keep the paperwork. Potential buyers will like to see that these things have been done prior to sale.

4. Court the senses

Of all of the seasons, fall has the most obvious color palette, inspired by the leaves and plants changing all around us. Shifting a listing's decor can be as easy as buying a few new throw pillows for furniture, switching out runners and centerpieces on tables or adding a nice hanging arrangement on the front door. Deep reds, oranges and yellows are ideal. While you're at it, switch out those floral-smelling plugins for candles or burners that evoke fall. Stay away from pumpkin, but almost anything apple and/or cinnamon is nice! If you're holding an open house, choose an easy-listening album or instrumental artist. Bake treats that match the season as well... pumpkin flavor is just fine here.

5. Consider the sun

No matter where you live in the United States, there is going to be less sunlight in each day as the fall goes along. And when Daylight Savings Time ends, it's really going to get dark early. Take this opportunity to invest in lighting. Make sure interior lights are positioned to really shine from the street, and that they're bright enough to stand out. Exterior lights should be timed to come on before dusk, so potential buyers out checking listings can see the property at any time. And remember to make sure your For Sale sign can be seen after dark!

6. Remember: Winter is coming

Depending on where you live, your winter preparations should probably begin mid-fall, if not earlier, especially if you want to keep your home on the market through the holidays (but that's a different article altogether). That means stocking up on items like ice-melting salt, making sure your roof is in proper shape to avoid ice dams and leaking, checking your insulation, and cleaning out the garage to make room for automobiles. You'll have enough to do once Thanksgiving gets here. Don't add these tasks to your December to-do list!


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

How Much Cigarette Smoke Decreases Resale Value

Smoking in a home can reduce that property’s resale value by up to 29 percent, according to®. And home buyers who fall for a home that reeks of smoke shouldn’t assume the odor will go away as soon as the smoker moves out.

Tobacco-specific nitrosamines and nitrous acid can cling to walls and other surfaces within the house. “You could breathe in several hundred nanograms of these carcinogens long after the last cigarette burned out,” warns Joshua Miller, director of technical training at Rainbox International, a home restoration company.

Researchers at San Diego State University measured third-hand smoke pollutant levels in smokers’ homes after they moved out. They found that pollutants remained two months later, even after the homes had been cleaned and vented.

Sellers are not required to disclose that someone smoked inside a home. Buyers can detect a smoky smell themselves, or they may suspect a strong wave of air fresheners is masking an odor. A home inspector may be able to weigh in, too, or buyers can have their agent ask the seller’s listing agent directly.

Removing the cigarette smell from a home is not easy and sometimes removing entire systems is the only way to remove the stench quickly—the smoke will seep into everything.

"Clean the air ducts,” advises Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv in Louisville, Ky. “Professional air duct cleaning is an effective way to eliminate odors that manifest when you turn on the furnace or AC.”
He also suggests changing the filter on your HVAC unit as frequently as every 30 to 45 days.

Miller recommends washing the walls and ceiling with a 3:1 vinegar-water mixture. “Ceilings can be the biggest culprit in a persisting smoke smell in a home, since cigarette smoke tends to travel upwards and latch onto the first surface it comes in contact with,” Miller says.

Repainting the walls may help but the smell will eventually come back if homeowners don’t first use an odor-neutralizing primer, such as Kilz, before repainting.

Fabrics can also hold smoke. “You can sprinkle a deodorizing powder like baking soda on carpets,” Miller suggests. Odors can cling onto lightbulbs as well, so be sure to insert fresh bulbs.


Monday, July 30, 2018

What Buyers Want in New Homes

New-home buyers now rank all-white kitchens—once the most in-demand aesthetic—as their second choice, below natural wood cabinetry, according to a new survey from homebuilder Ashton Woods.
Respondents to the survey, who are prospective buyers planning to purchase in the next 10 years, picked distressed wood cabinetry as their third most popular choice.

They also said living space is more important to them than bedroom size. Sixty-one percent say they would trade a larger bedroom in order to get a larger living area, according to the survey.

Hobby rooms and home offices are also on their priority list, with 67 percent of respondents saying they want an office in their next home.
Source: The Washington Post (July 26, 2018)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Suggestions to Remove Unwanted Odors

Lingering cigarette smoke: When smokers blow nicotine and tar into the air, it disseminates onto every surface in the home, including lightbulbs, rugs, and moldings.  First, remove all porous surfaces, including carpeting, curtains, and anything that absorbs odor. Wash until yellow stains stop coming off. Finally, repaint the room—because paint is an odor neutralizer.
Mold: Put a few containers of activated charcoal in an out-of-reach and inconspicuous space. Activated charcoal absorbs moisture and will help remove mold and mildew smells. You can find it at most pet stores.

Rotting garbage: The smell of garbage that’s been left in the kitchen too long starts to linger. Boil sliced citrus fruit and herbs in the microwave, then separate the citrus from the boiling water. Pour the water into the dishwasher and run a cycle while dumping the citrus down the garbage disposal for an instant scent upgrade. Once you clear the garbage disposal, sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of it.

An active child’s room: Soiled clothing laying around a teenager’s unkempt bedroom can cause a distinct odor that likely will offend prospective buyers. Removal of the clothing won’t necessarily solve the problem. When smelly items have been allowed to sit for long periods of time—which enables the smell to “marinate” into the surroundings. When you have a really difficult odor to get rid of in a home, one of the better methods is to use an ozone machine. The machine removes strong smells by destroying the spores and bacteria that cause them. Ozone essentially attaches itself to the other molecules, thereby changing their structure, which eliminates the odor. Most ozone machines, depending on the sophistication of their features, can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars, but they may be more effective in smaller spaces.

Dirty laundry or sweat: An alternative to the above for dealing with this type of odor is to combine one-fourth of a cup of vinegar and a gallon of water, and then add the mixture to a spray bottle. Spray the walls and wipe them down, along with woodwork, closets, air vents, and windows. Change the carpet and pads, and try painting the room, including the ceiling. If a mattress smells sweaty, sprinkle baking soda directly on it, and let it sit for 15 minutes and then vacuum it.

Pets: If there is a specific area of the home that smells, mix one part distilled white vinegar and six parts water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and generously spray over pet stains. Rub the solution into the stain using a carpet brush or a toothbrush, and then blot it using a white towel. To remove vinegar residue, apply an oxygen or enzyme-based cleaner. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, and then blot the surface. If you have entire areas of a carpet or rug that are affected, sprinkle baking soda onto the smelly areas, let it sit for 12 to 14 hours, and then vacuum the surface. If the stench is still there, you may have to replace your carpet. In extreme cases, problems resulting in pet odor could lead to damaged flooring and subflooring. Remove smells from the subfloor with a combination of vinegar and water, let set, rinse, and repeat. If the odor remains, use Kilz spray to neutralize the smell. But if the wood is under the pad and it still smells, you’ll need to replace that as well.

Stuffy, closed home: When windows and doors have been shut all winter,don’t just let fresh air in. Add some house plants, which clean the air through phytoremediation, organic air purifiers. Add a few drops of orange, lavender, or grapefruit essential oils to a spray bottle and do a once-over on fabrics and in the air.

Source: By: Danielle Braff Freelance Writer

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How Unstaged Rooms Hamper a Home Sale

Sellers may be shooting themselves in the foot when they leave an empty, dark, or cluttered room unstaged, according to a recent® article. Empty rooms, for example, can “kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” says Allison Bethell of Imperfections stand out more in an empty room, and the absence of furnishings could make it more difficult for buyers to visualize how to use the space.

A poorly lit room also can give the entire house a darker vibe, adds Desare Kohn-Laski, broker-owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Fla. Instead, open curtains, consider painting the walls a light color, and add plants or a mirror to brighten the look.

The cluttered playroom is another top offender, real estate agents say. “If a playroom looks like a cluttered mess, buyers get the impression that the current residents aren’t clean,” says Kohn-Laski. Sellers should erase crayon and other marks on walls, as well as wipe fingerprints off doors and windows. Also, ensure the room isn’t stuffed with toys; a room that is too full can appear smaller.

The “creepy basement” may also be giving off the wrong type of vibe. Sarah Pickens with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Blaine, Minn., recalls showing a home to buyers where the basement was an empty, all-cement room with no windows. “The buyer was so creeped out that we left the property,” Pickens says. “And he said he would never purchase the house because of that room.”® suggests “de-creeping” a basement by staging and brightening any windowless rooms.

Also, make sure a cluttered closet isn’t making buyers want to bolt. Teri Connors, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life in Patchogue, N.Y., says overstuffed closets can make buyers think there’s not enough storage space in a home. She recommends removing at least two-thirds of the clothes in the closets to give the illusion that there’s plenty of space.

Source: Daily Real Estate News - Realtor Magazine

Friday, February 9, 2018

Tax Tips for Homeowners

New buyers can get overwhelmed by the additional expenses incurred during homeownership. Besides making monthly mortgage payments, homeowners may have to pay for gardening, pest control, pool maintenance, plumbing fixes, electrical work and more.

But the good news is that tax time offers homeowners a number of deductions and credits not available to renters. Check with a tax consultant to see if these deductions apply to you.

Private Mortgage Insurance
PMI is the premium you pay every month until your equity equals 20 percent of your home’s value. Luckily, these premiums can be deducted from your income.

Mortgage Interest
If you paid more than $600 dollars in mortgage interest during the tax year, every penny you paid is deductible—and that includes interest on a second mortgage.

Local Real Estate Taxes
Some taxpayers overlook the fact that homeowners can deduct local, state and even foreign real estate taxes on their federal returns. Lower-income homeowners may also get special property tax benefits from their state or municipality, so look into further breaks specific to your community.

Losses From Weather, Fire or Theft
While nobody wants a tree to fall on their house or burglars to make off with their flat screen, the IRS grants a break to any property or casualty loss that is more than 10 percent of your gross income and is not reimbursed by your insurance.

Moving Expenses
If you moved 50 miles or more for a new job during the tax year, you can deduct your moving expenses. (Note, that if you started the new job more than a year before purchasing the new home, the moving expenses are not tax deductible.)

Selling Costs
If you sold a home during the tax year, the commission paid to a real estate agent is tax deductible, as are any legal fees and closing costs. Just like home-improvement costs reduce your cost basis, so do your selling costs.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

4 Pros, 4 Cons of Open Floor Plans

The open floor plan has been popular in many new home designs. Homeowners are showing a desire to have no walls separating the kitchen, dining, and living areas. In fact, 84 percent of new single-family homes have fully or partially open layouts, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Some owners are knocking down walls during home renovations to have their own open floor plan. But before they do, they may want to reconsider if an open floor plan is what they really want or if they’re just motivated because of its popularity.® recently highlighted some pros and cons of open floor plans to help owners and buyers decide if it’s right for them:
  • Takes advantage of square footage: “An open floor plan home will feel bigger because you don’t have all this unused space,” says Jay Kallos, vice president of architecture for Ashton Woods in Atlanta.
  • Brightens a home: More natural light from windows can spread throughout an open home.
  • Fosters social gathering: Open floor plans can make it easier to socialize, putting family and guests all in one space together.
  • Encourages flexibility: “Open floor plans create a usable space that’s flexible, based on your needs,” says Jimmy Branham, a real estate professional with the Keyes Company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Homeowners can define the space without having to make architectural changes.
  • Smells travel: The cooking heat and kitchen aromas will be impossible to contain, so the smells are more present in an open floor home.
  • Offers less privacy and can be noisier: You may have a tough time hiding from noise—the lack of walls makes the space echo and absorb less sound.
  • Can’​t hide messiness: Without separate rooms, any mess will be on display. You can’t conceal anything behind closed doors.
  • Being a fad that fades: The open floor plan is a hot trend right now, but everything eventually goes out of style. The trend doesn’t appear to be slowing yet, but® cautions that you could be setting yourself up to look outdated in 10 or 20 years.
Source: “Open Floor Plan Homes: You Really Want One? The Pros and Cons,”®