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My House Sold Faster Than Expected—Was It a Blessing or a Curse?

It took two years for my husband and me to come to the decision to sell our home in St. Petersburg, FL. We went back and forth on the idea for a few reasons. A big one? One of our sons had a lot of friends in our neighborhood, and we didn’t want to uproot him.

Even so, the market was hot in our area, and we knew we could make a decent amount of money if we sold our home.

In November, we were ready to sell. We wanted to pay off some debt, build up a savings account, and buy a new car.

Our real estate agent advised us to list right after the holidays. In the meantime, we made a few cosmetic upgrades, added fresh paint, and installed new fixtures.

We listed our home on Jan. 7, and our agent scheduled an open house for the following weekend. During the open house—just five days after listing—we received an offer.

We accepted the offer, but it fell through. No time for dismay! We scheduled showings the following week, and our agent scheduled another open house. Then, 11 days after listing our house, we received another offer, which was right at our asking price.

Everything looked great on paper, and we eagerly accepted the offer. At first, we were thrilled. Our plan worked! And then we took a look at the timeline for closing and freaked out just a bit. If all went well, we’d hand over the keys to our home in 28 to 30 days.

Here’s what I learned from selling a home in rapid fashion.

We needed a new place to stay

For our next move, my husband and I decided we were going to rent a house instead of buying a place right away. There were two main rationales at work.

One, we wanted to pay off more debt and raise our credit scores to obtain the best mortgage rate possible.

Two, we weren’t 100% sure where we wanted to set down roots in St. Petersburg. The city is really spread out, and one of our kids is headed to high school in a year. It made sense for us to wait before we bought again. In hindsight, the wait makes even more sense.

That said, the market here was hot earlier this year—for both home sales and rentals. The majority of the homes in St. Petersburg are older and small, and just about everything is expensive.

This meant few options that suited our needs and were within our budget. The market was moving quick in January so our family of four had to act fast when we found a place we liked.

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Watch: Don’t Put These Things on Display When You’re Trying to Sell Your Home

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Inspection and appraisal in a tight timeline

During the inspection and appraisal steps of the home-selling process, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract if either report comes back with red flags.

Our timeline was tight: The buyer’s appraisal was due just eight days before closing. We didn’t want to sign a lease, move, and then have our buyer back out of the deal. So, to be prudent, we decided to wait until both the inspection and appraisal were done.

Paying rent plus a mortgage if the buyer backed out simply wasn’t in the cards. However, waiting to sign a lease until just over a week before the closing date was also a risk. The odds of finding a viable rental and moving in that tight time frame didn’t seem possible—but it’s the path we chose.

I attempted to calm my inner voice, and we plowed forward to find a new place to live. We started looking for a rental well before the appraisal date.

We’d listed our house at a reasonable price, so any discrepancies with the appraisal were a long shot. Though our house needed a little work, the inspection wasn’t likely to yield anything substantial.

All of the pieces came together, but we were prepared to undergo undue levels of stress as we waited for the final steps of the sale process. Especially since we were also planning a move.

Packing under pressure is a whole new level of torture

We both work full time and have two kids—a 3-year-old and a 13-year-old.

My husband and I began to pack the nonessentials once the offer came in. We still needed to purge unnecessary items and pack the rest, which is a trying task when four people have lived in one place for seven years. It’s amazing what you can accumulate.

We spent every spare minute packing up, tossing out, or giving away things. It was its own nightmare in an already stressful situation. Even though we knew it was a temporary inconvenience, the process was overwhelming. Packing is tough, but when the clock is ticking, it’s even tougher.

And just like that, it was over

The one big positive about a short timeline between offer and close? All of the chaos lasted only a short period of time.

Although my husband and I reached peak stress levels, the madness truly lasted for just over a month. By the third week in February, we were settled in our new rental home, and all was said and done with the sale of our first home.

Would I do it again? Yes! If the timing and the money were right, I most certainly would. Except for possibly the packing part.

Source: realtor.com

Six Tips for Selling a Home During the Coronavirus Crisis

As the coronavirus crisis continues, more states and cities are enacting stay-at-home orders. As long as the crisis lasts, it won’t be the best time to sell your home, but some families have no choice.

Despite forbearance policies that allow homeowners to delay monthly mortgage payments, many breadwinners who have lost their jobs can’t pay their bills. Some will decide to move to find new ones.  To access their equity, other owners will sell their homes and rent. Some communities are experiencing high mortality rates, and many heirs are selling family homes as quickly as they can.

In even the hardest-hit markets, selling a home on the local market is possible, but not easy. Many owners may look to use “cash for homes” options or utilize an iBuyer platform, which would cause them to sell at a discounted price. If you have several months and want to make the most return, selling on the local Multiple Listing Service is a better choice.

Here are six tips to help sellers overcome the most difficult circumstances.

Find an Agent Who Works Frequently with Social Media

Brokers and agents who are experts at marketing using social media will be more successful during the outbreak. To put sellers at ease, brokers have new rules limiting the number of people in a showing and requiring gloves, masks and use of hand purifiers. So find those who have already established an online presence and know how to use the technology to market themselves, and subsequently your listing, properly.

Price to Sell Using Pre-crisis Values 

The coronavirus crisis is having an immediate, but temporary, impact on prices and the economy. You want to price your property to sell, but not discount its price far below what it will bring when markets return to normal. The monthly local market data that traditionally govern prices will be outdated as soon as they are released. When the crisis ends, demand will rise, and supply and demand fundamentals that created pre-crisis prices will return. It’s important to remember that while the economy may not be in the best position from previous years due to the recent outbreak and other socio-economical factors, the trends don’t directly correlate to a “housing crisis” in terms of home values.

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In this environment, pricing a home to sell, but also being fair to sellers, will be very difficult. Sellers must follow local list prices of comparable properties carefully and be willing to make adjustments.

Agree to a “Coronavirus Contingency” in Your Listing 

Brokers are using new contingency clauses in their contracts designed to protect buyers who don’t have a chance to tour a home or if they cannot get a professional inspection of the home. These clauses may postpone closings or even allow buyers to back out entirely from deals without penalty should the coronavirus crisis derail the process. Mentioning your willingness to agree to a coronavirus contingency clause may make your listing more attractive.

Put Together the Best Video You Can Afford

Buyers may not be attending open houses, but they are surfing listings on Homes.com. Make sure yours stand out with excellent photography and a video that shows off your home’s best features.

Anticipate a “Desktop” or “Outside” Appraisal

It will be difficult to appraise values fairly for two reasons: the temporary changes in prices mentioned above and the difficulty appraisers will have to inspect the inside of a home. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is allowing lenders to approve “desktop appraisals” based on using credit and income data and “outside” appraisals that also include a tour of the outside but not the inside of a home. After you accept an offer, put together documentation of significant improvements that the appraiser won’t know about without inspecting the interior.

Do an E-Closing

Fortunately, in recent years much progress has been made to facilitate virtual closings or “e-closings.”  The most difficult hurdle has been the requirement that the documents that buyers sign at closings must be notarized. Within the last two or three years, “remote notarizations” have been legalized in about 15 states. Here is a current list.

Millions of homeowners are suffering financially due to the crisis, and many may have to sell their homes. Anyone in that situation should discuss their options with a Realtor before proceeding.


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Steve Cook is the editor of the Down Payment Report and provides public relations consulting services to leading companies and non-profits in residential real estate and housing finance. He has been vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors, senior vice president of Edelman Worldwide and press secretary to two members of Congress.

Source: homes.com

What the Flip? Portland Home Gets a Major Face-Lift and Gains $600K in Value

Flipping a house is a lot of work that can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make the house desirable to buyers.

Known for friendly faces, eclectic locals, and beautiful scenery, Portland, OR, has been seen as a desirable place to put down roots for a while now. It was even rated the ninth best U.S. city to live in by U.S. News & World Report. All of those benefits, plus historically low real estate inventory, mean housing prices in Portland are high. But for flippers who can nab a fixer-upper with good bones, there’s plenty of potential for profit—as this example shows.

The flippers who took on this five-bedroom, five-bathroom house made a smart move by pouncing on the well-worn property for $875,000 when it was listed in June 2019. After a full-on renovation, they put the home up for sale, and in December 2020 it was sold for $1,475,000.

So how did they raise the home’s value by $600,000 in just a year and a half—and during a pandemic, no less? The booming market wasn’t the only thing that made this home sale such a success. The fresh renovations also had something to do with making this a must-have property.

Taking into account the home’s now-stylish interior design, we asked our team of experts to look at before and after photos and weigh in on the changes that made the biggest difference in this home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

Talk about major changes! Once full of dark, drab wallpaper and a dated, textured ceiling, the living room now has a brighter, cleaner look.

“The application of white paint on everything really works well in this room,” says designer, real estate agent, and house-flipping investor Laura Schlicht. “Two of this house’s biggest assets have been artfully played up: the architectural moldings and the fantastic view.”

“It was a great move to get rid of the extra door on the side of the fireplace,” adds real estate investor and agent Molly Gallagher, of Falk Ruvin Gallagher. “There are plenty of other ways in and out of the room, and it allowed them to widen the hearth and keep the green-tiled theme going.”

Kitchen

The old kitchen was spacious, but that’s about all it had going for it. Once the flippers worked their magic, they had a kitchen that would impress any prospective buyer.

“Removing a section of the wall between the dining room and kitchen brings much more light into the kitchen, bouncing off the bright white cabinets, rather than keeping the view for the dining room itself,” says Kate Ziegler, real estate investor and real estate agent.

She adds that her top question from buyers touring homes is whether or not they can remove a wall.

“Having done this update for the buyers broadens the audience for this home, and boosts sale price as a result,” says Ziegler.

Real estate investor and agent Tracie Setliff, also with Falk Ruvin Gallagher, was impressed with the island addition.

“The island placement is perfect—it seems like it was always there and makes up for some of the storage lost by opening up the wall,” she adds.

“We love that they nod to the original lights and time period of the home with the updated light fixtures they chose,” adds Gallagher. “And they smartly chose to appeal to a wide buyer pool by not adding in some specific tile that will be dated in five years.”

Home office

Before 2020, a home office was just a bonus, but now it’s essential—whether it’s for work or school, or both. Even though this renovation was started before the coronavirus pandemic, the flippers chose to upgrade this home office in a major way, which really paid off by the time they listed the home.

“I love that they removed the old attached bookshelf,” says Setliff. “The room has an airier feel to it without the hulk of the built-in shelving. There are so many cute bookshelves that are much sleeker.”

Schlicht agreed, explaining that the built-in bookcase, while often a bonus, was actually the wrong size for the space and made the room feel crowded.

“Let’s take a moment to notice the windows,” says Ziegler. “New windows are a significant cost that most new buyers don’t want to take on in the near term—but the payback in efficiency can be remarkable. Replacing windows as part of a flip makes the whole space look more contemporary and polished, but also adds real value to the home that buyers can quantify.”

Dining room

At first glance, it may seem like the only real change in the dining room was a new coat of white paint, but Ziegler says that’s not the case. In fact, she was rather impressed with the flippers’ efforts in this room.

“The dining room demonstrates places where the investors behind this work took the time to restore and retain older details: keeping the built-in sideboard, and even the mirror detail below the smaller window shows a thoughtful approach and is indicative of more time-intensive work,” Ziegler says.

“Restoring details rather than replacing with cheaper, contemporary alternatives requires patience and care, and that attention to detail is something buyers notice even if they don’t have the vocabulary to describe it,” she adds. “The updated chandelier is trendy but also a nod to midcentury modern styling that is appropriate for a house of this age.”

Setliff is happy to see the “boring” light fixture go, in favor of the new “sophisticated, sculpturelike light.”

“Buyers do not want to have to change fixtures, as simple as it seems, and keeping it fun yet unfussy was the way to go,” she says. “It is interesting how you notice the views from the windows now that your eye isn’t drawn to the dark brown of the built-in cabinets and window trim.”

Den

This old den went from afterthought to amazing after this flip, and our experts are impressed with the results.

“Goodbye, ’60s; hello, now!” says Gallagher. “Knotty pine is best reserved for Wisconsin supper clubs these days, and today’s buyers are not interested in having a supper club theme for their den.”

“Removing drop ceilings and wood paneling is an easy, instant update, but the nicer detail here is the addition of recessed lighting,” says Ziegler. “Recessed lighting in a basement space creates the illusion of more headroom, making for a much more comfortable den. Updating the basement den adds valuable square footage that buyers might have otherwise written off as just basement space.”

And we can’t forget about the star of this room: the fireplace.

“Replacing the dated brick with a pop of green tile and the white surround and mantel transform this new den,” says Setliff.

Source: realtor.com

6 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Selling Your Home

You know that expression about loose lips sinking ships? It holds true for selling your home as well. Sure, there are some things you have to disclose to buyers—such as if your home has lead paint or is located in a flood zone. But there’s plenty more you might volunteer when you would be truly better off keeping your mouth strategically shut.

We’ve already revealed the things buyers should never say to sellers. Now, let us share some things that sellers should never let slip to buyers, or the agents representing them.

To help hone your “less is more” attitude when it comes to talking with prospective buyers, here are a few doozies that agents recommend never, ever saying.

‘Our house is in perfect condition’

Your home is your castle, and in your eyes it may seem perfect—but don’t make claims that aren’t true, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker.

“The home inspection may reveal otherwise, and, as a seller, you don’t want to wind up putting your foot in your mouth,” she explains. Bottom line: “There simply is no such thing as ‘perfect condition.’ Every house, whether it is brand new or a resale, has something that needs to be fixed, adjusted, replaced, or improved upon.”

If you’re not sure what to disclose, talk to your agent about the history of the house. Together, you can figure out what is important for buyers to know. Don’t have an agent yet? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

‘It’s been on the market for X…’

Never, ever discuss how long the home has been on the market with prospective buyers, says Pam Santoro, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. This info is often listed and available on the home’s information sheet, but bringing it up—especially if the home has been available for eons—can send sellers the wrong message. No one wants to buy a white elephant—and, if they do, it’s probably because they think they’ll be getting it dirt-cheap.

‘We’ve never had a problem with…’

If you’re hoping to move quickly, you may be tempted to tell a few little white lies. So you never had a problem with weird neighbors, eh? Or flooded basements? Or vengeance-seeking poltergeists? Realtors agree that your mistruths—however insignificant they might seem—could come back to you with teeth.

“You’re setting yourself up for potential liability,” explains Ameer. “You may not even be aware of the problem at first, but it could  translate into an embarrassing moment upon inspection.” So come clean with what you know and admit what you don’t.

‘We always wanted to fix/renovate that, but…’

Tempted to mention, “We always thought about knocking this wall down and opening the space for more light?” How about “We planned on renovating this bathroom but ran out of cash”? Mum’s the word when it comes to fixes you intended to address. Nobody cares about good intentions.

“When sellers point out things they might change, this only alerts the buyer of more upcoming costs for them,” says Maryjo Shockley, a Realtor with Keller Williams. Who knows? Your buyers may not even want to knock down that wall or redo the bathroom. So why plant those ideas, along with those dollar signs?

‘We spent a ton of money on X, Y, and Z’

Just because you love the Brazilian koa wood flooring you installed throughout the first floor, that doesn’t mean prospective buyers will be willing to shell out for it.

“The buyer doesn’t care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on your kitchen,” says Ameer. “They are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth in relation to area comparable sales.” So, save your breath, or else you’ll risk sounding like you’re trying too hard to justify your price. Desperation isn’t cool.

‘I’m not taking less than X amount for my home’

When it comes time to sell, it makes sense that you want top dollar. We get it! But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range.

“If you send a message that you are inflexible or not open to negotiating, it may not invite buyers to even try to work out acceptable price and terms as they will feel defeated from the start,” says Ameer. “Word may spread that you have this sentiment as a seller, and people may start to avoid the house.”

Source: realtor.com

What the Flip? A 1909 Family Home Is Fully Restored and Grabs Top Dollar

Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make a house desirable to buyers.

Oklahoma City is an alluring place for home buyers these days. Its cost of living is low, there are plenty of opportunities for work and play, and you get the pace of city life with the quiet of the country nearby.

With a median listing price of $225,000, Oklahoma City is certainly a place to score a sizable single-family home for a reasonable chunk of cash, but finding an age-old property with good bones is a challenge. So when our flippers stumbled upon this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home from the early 1900s—in one of the city’s most prestigious and historic neighborhoods—they jumped.

Sure, the home wasn’t exactly in great shape, but that’s where the flip comes in. This old home went from drab and dusty to absolutely fabulous. It was purchased in July 2018 for $325,000, and in September 2019 it was sold again, for $642,000. The sellers doubled their money in just over a year—a result that any flipper could hope for.

So what made this such a successful flip? We turned to our experts to uncover the winning design and home improvement moves.

Living room

The living room is often the first space buyers see when they enter the home, so bringing this room up to date was key. The original room felt dark, dirty, and cramped, so the sellers had a big project on their hands.

“Lighting is key to this room,” says Malissa Kelsch, real estate adviser with Red Rock Real Estate. “Removal of window coverings and additional can lights deliver a distinctive sensation of relaxation.”

“They resurfaced the walls, which was a great choice to make the walls feel like new construction,” adds architect and interior designer Alondra Alberti. “The light paint and blond floor stain showcase how large the space actually is.”

But one of the most impactful changes was simply the removal of the accordion doors leading to the kitchen.

“The living room seamlessly flows into the kitchen to make it a perfect home for entertaining,” adds real estate agent Sarah Bernard. “This is the open, bright look that buyers today are demanding in new construction, so to renovate with this in mind makes lots of sense.”

Office

Previously, the home office looks like a strange afterthought. The flip transformed it into a gorgeous, usable room.

“Home offices are one of the most sought-after spaces in our current climate of working and teaching kids remotely,” says Bernard. “The new floor, lighting, and open, sleek modern space with windows make this a strong selling point for busy buyers.”

“The hardwood floors throughout facilitate the visual flow between spaces, creating a more harmonious relationship between the office and the rest of the house,” says Alberti. “I also love the contrast of the black-matte stair raisers and wooden handrails. It provides a sophisticated rustic appeal that a lot of buyers look for in a home.”

Kitchen

“It looked like a sad little kitchen crying in the corner,” Alberti says of the pre-renovation space. But the flip made a huge difference in this all-important room.

“They have repositioned and expanded the kitchen, creating an open concept tied in by a beautiful, massive island that not only provides contrast but also bar seating,” Alberti explains. “They did a great job combining different materials and textures. … It’s a design risk that elevates the home.”

Kelsch says the new kitchen is definitely more appealing to potential buyers.

“Additional usable counter space, storage, and lighting make this a desirable kitchen and a ‘wow’ feature in the home,” she says.

Bathroom

The old bathroom in this home was like a walk back in time, but not in a good way.

“The wallpaper and the top-and-bottom built-in cabinets made the space feel enclosed and restricted,” says Alberti. “The old shower doors are always a must-go—they have had their run for far too long.”

The updated bathroom now feels warm and welcoming.

“The shower wall niche was a particularly nice touch because it provides practicality to the user,” adds Alberti. “Those kinds of details are never overlooked by buyers.”

Bernard agrees: “The new, beautiful bath lets in natural light for the tranquility that homeowners want in their bathrooms,” she says. “The updated shower and more functional and modern vanity feel clean and fresh compared to the original.”

Bedroom

From the gray wall-to-wall carpet to the heavy drapes, can we all just agree that the old bedroom was the stuff of nightmares?

“The new bedroom sheds pounds of darkness that were exhibited in the old carpeting and bulky cabinets,” says Bernard. “The white walls and wonderful new windows are inviting in a room that anyone can envision themselves waking up in. This is a luxury look that buyers in all price ranges desire.”

“This bedroom has had a complete turnaround. The new vaulted ceiling helps make the room feel more spacious, and removing the cabinetry opens up the room,” says Kelsch. “Bringing in as much natural light as possible by taking down dated old drapes and updating furnishings and fixtures will bring top dollar to this house.”

Source: realtor.com

What the Flip? This Refurbished Asheville, NC, Home Made a 6-Figure Profit

Flipping a house is a lot of work, and can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our new series, “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped to make a house desirable to buyers.

For years, the city of Asheville, NC, has been a popular place to live. It’s earned a reputation both as a cultural hub and as an outdoor lover’s dream, with easy access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail.

Those facts—coupled with the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted people to re-evaluate where they really want to live—made Asheville and the surrounding area especially hot in 2020.

“The market in Asheville has significantly increased over the last year. We are experiencing record demand from buyers who are coming from major metro areas,” says the real estate agent Mike Figura, broker and owner of Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty in Asheville.

“At the same time, fewer people are listing their homes, causing low supply, tight inventory, rising prices, and frequent bidding wars.”

Any seasoned house flipper can see the opportunity in a city like Asheville, especially if it’s a seller’s market. That’s why we were excited to find this fixer-upper turned polished property in the heart of the West Asheville neighborhood.

The six-bedroom, four-bathroom home was purchased for $276,000 in January 2020. After a top-to-bottom renovation, it was listed just six months later for $500,000. It sold in a little less than a month, for $525,000.

Of course, it wasn’t just the hot market that brought such an amazing profit, although the flip was pretty impressive, so we’re guessing that did help a lot, too.

We went straight to our experts to find out which changes are likely to have lured in buyers, and to discover how you can make that happen with your home, too.

Front porch

The old front porch lacked curb appeal. All the windows and doors made it difficult to determine where you were supposed to enter the house. That’s not the kind of impression you want to make on potential buyers.

“By removing the existing doors and creating a new front door, the entry feels like it has a sense of arrival now,” explains Adrienne Valenza, an interior designer at Adrienne Valenza Design. “Replacing the windows with new, Craftsman-style windows also added to the charm.”

The dirty and dingy feel of the old porch was also a big negative. Thankfully, the flippers didn’t stop at changing out doors and windows; they also went to work with scrub brushes and buckets of paint.

“By cleaning up, and painting light, beachy colors on this porch renovation, it helps create a welcoming feeling, while adding tremendous curb appeal,” says Mike Syms, of Full Scale Renovations.

Living room

Talk about fresh and clean! This living room got a major glow-up, and our experts are feeling it.

“By removing the carpet and refinishing the wood floors, it gives the room much more of a sophisticated look, which is further echoed in the color palette,” says Valenza.

It also doesn’t hurt that the furniture, fixtures, and fireplace are no longer reminiscent of something you’d find at grandma’s house. Modern buyers want a modern home, and the outdated look of this living room gave buyers the impression that they were looking at a major project.

In the end, the most subtle new feature of this living room is the ceiling.

“The addition of the ceiling bulkheads on this living room remodel adds a lot of interest and provides a feeling reminiscent of a modern hotel,” says Syms. “This detail will make potential buyers remember this house as something unique and different from all the others on the market.”

Kitchen

The previous kitchen in this house was outdated, with a layout that just didn’t work. Its foldable table just screamed that the room didn’t have enough workable space. But the renovated kitchen is now a place for cooking, entertaining, and feeling at home.

“Changing the layout of this kitchen and opening it up to the living room was a fantastic use of the space. It’s so much more functional and open now,” says Valenza. “Continuing the color palette from the new living room was also a smart decision; it makes everything feel more spacious.”

And at a time when people are taking up home cooking instead of dining out, spacious kitchens are definitely a selling point.

“This kitchen remodel will add a ton of resale value to this home,” says Syms, “by getting rid of the textured ceiling and outdated yellow paint and adding the large island with quartz countertops. The new finishes provide a clean and contemporary look that homeowners love.”

Other touches to the kitchen, like the “dramatic, scalloped backsplash tile and the free-floating range hood,” add a touch of class, Syms says. All that goes a long way toward helping the home to stand out in the minds of potential buyers.

Bathroom

The bathroom in this home is small, which is a tough sell, now that buyers are looking for bathrooms that look more like spas.

While the flippers didn’t have the space to make the bathroom larger, they did know how to make the most of what they were working with.

“They did a great job with the new layout. It’s a functional bathroom that feels much larger than it did before,” says Valenza.

The new vanity gives the bathroom “much-needed additional storage space,” Syms points out. No one wants a bathroom that can’t hold their essentials.

“The details are simple without being boring,” says Valenza. “Using the monochromatic patterned floor tile as a border in the shower is a great way to add visual interest without overwhelming the space.”

“It adds a high-end custom look that potential buyers would love,” says Syms of the patterned tile in the shower. And that’s the goal when flipping a house, right?

Source: realtor.com

6 Coronavirus-Friendly Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $10K—and Will Bring In Offers

Getting a home improvement project to pay off is notoriously tricky. There’s no guarantee you’ll recoup the money you pour into a bathroom remodel or an outdoor kitchen. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made completing even minor projects more difficult, as many nonessential construction projects have been halted.

And while it might seem crazy to take on a big-ticket project in a time of economic uncertainty, many home buyers are still looking for turnkey properties with attractive amenities. So if you’re a seller with a house in need of a little TLC, you should focus on relatively low-budget upgrades that will seriously juice your home’s value.

Below, our experts spill on the improvements under $10,000 that buyers are perennially interested in, plus the trending ones whose popularity is likely to last.

Deep cleaning: $500 or less

Scuffs on doors, counters, cabinets, and walls; a ring of scum around a drain; cobwebs in basement corners; toys or tools peppering lawns and patios—these all look bad in the eyes of potential buyers. Luckily, eradicating these blemishes doesn’t take much.

“Deep cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for a little money that dramatically increases your value in the market,” says Heather Wendlandt, a real estate agent with the San Diego-based Team Kolker. “The Magic Eraser and elbow grease can go a long way.”

She says deep cleaning, plus basic paint touch-ups, can increase home values by thousands.

Front-door upgrade: $2,000 or less

Thee front door is the first part of a home that a potential buyer will interact with, so it’s worth lavishing attention on every detail. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or updated accessories like house numbers, door knockers, and attractive lighting are all easy and relatively inexpensive to obtain.

Wilmington, NC–based real estate agent-turned-blogger Rebecca Fernandez says that when she was given a listing that sat on the market without activity for months, a front-door upgrade helped make a difference.

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Watch: 5 Smart Upgrades To Help Coronavirus-Proof Your Home

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“I convinced the homeowners to provide me with a budget of $500,” Fernandez says. “It was a very small Cape Cod home, painted dark beige, with an unflattering wood front door. To add contrast, I purchased black vinyl shutters and painted the door a dark red. Next, we cleaned up the front lawn and purchased a door mat, flowerpots, and mums, since it was autumn, and we wanted it to have a fresh, seasonal look. After those minor tweaks, with new pictures online and the added curb appeal, we drew multiple buyers and sold the property quickly.”

Touchless fixtures and fresh-air systems: $200 to $5,000

During the pandemic, certain fixtures have become more relevant—and coveted—than ever.

What buyers want right now are touchless fixtures like sinks and toilets that eliminate your need to come into contact with a germ-filled surface, says Scott Campbell, team leader at Cedarburg, WI’s Re/Max. Both of these upgrades cost a few hundred dollars to install around the house.

Another pandemic must-have is excellent airflow.

“Updating mechanical systems and adding a RenewAire system that pulls fresh air into the home every few hours is a huge plus for buyers,” Campbell says. “Ultraviolet air exchanges that help kill viruses are also smart investments and very practical for home showings during the pandemic.”

Better kitchens and bathrooms: $9,000 or less

Kitchens and bathrooms that look outdated or cheap can sink the value of an entire home.

Tracy Jones, an associate with Re/Max Platinum Realty, witnessed firsthand how a kitchen face-lift boosted her home’s value.

“During the years we’ve done some hefty renos, but resurfacing our kitchen cabinets cost less than $4,000. We replaced the cheap-looking plywood cabinets with white doors and custom-built drawer fronts with soft-pull hardware,” she says. “We also upgraded the 1990s Formica countertops with granite for $4,000, creating a modern look.”

Jones believes these upgrades helped them bring in a profit. They bought the home for $189,000 in 2006 and sold it for $425,000 in 2020.

Bathrooms can also make or break a deal.

Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers in Chattanooga, TN, says he helped renovate and flip a home that cost him $80,000 and was sold for $140,000. Of the $15,000 he invested in home improvement, Wright put $9,000 toward upgrades on the kitchen and bathroom, including light fixtures, new cabinets and counters, fresh towels, and new vanities and faucets. All told, he cleared $45,000, primarily through minor tweaks.

Backyard upgrades: $500 to $10,000

Backyards are now thought of as an extension of the home.

“For those in the suburbs, pools, koi ponds, and fountains are newfound hot-selling items,” says Neal Clayton, licensed partner at Engel & Völkers in Nashville, TN. A small water feature that makes a soothing impression can be purchased and installed for as little as $500.

“Fire pits and outdoor kitchens with basic cabinetry are also frequently requested as people find creative ways to expand their living spaces,” Clayton says.

Home office: $10,000 or less

Home offices were on their way out before the pandemic, but they are all the rage now. Converting a room and buying all of the furniture, accoutrements, and shelving cost well under $10,000, experts say.

If you’re on the fence about carving out a home office space, consider this: Many buyers won’t consider a home these days if it doesn’t have a place where working or schooling from home is feasible.

Source: realtor.com

Common Repairs Needed After a Home Inspection: What Must Sellers Fix?

If you’re selling your home, you might wonder if there are common repairs needed after a home inspection. Most buyers, after all, won’t commit to purchasing a place until there’s been a thorough inspection by a home inspector—and rest assured, if there are problems, this professional will find them!

So if your home inspection turns up flaws that your home buyer wants fixed, what then? To be sure, repair requests after an inspection are a hassle, and liable to cut into your profits. So for starters, make sure to read your inspection contract carefully to make sure you don’t get locked into mending something you don’t want to fix.

“As a seller, you should never sign an inspection contract until you fully understand its obligations, particularly where it concerns your responsibility for fixing things,” says Michele Lerner, author of “Homebuying: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time: Smart Ways to Make a Sound Investment.”

And rest assured, there’s no need for you to fix everything a home inspector thinks could stand for improvement; a home inspection report is not a to-do list. Basically inspection repairs fall into three categories: ones that are pretty much required, according to the inspector; ones that typically aren’t required; and ones that are up for debate. Here’s how to know which is which.

Common repairs required after a home inspection

There are some fixes that will be required by lenders before they will release funds to finance a buyer’s home purchase. Typically these address costly structural defects, building code violations, or safety issues, sometimes in the attic, crawl spaces, and basement, and those related to the chimney or furnace.

An inspector will also check whether your septic system and heater are in good condition and verify whether there’s a possible radon leak or the presence of termites (homeowners tend to have many questions on these topics). Other conditions of the home that an inspector may report on include those related to the roof, electrical systems, and plumbing lines and the condition of your HVAC system.

If a home inspection reveals such problems, odds are you’re responsible for fixing them. Start by getting some bids from contractors to see how much the work will cost. From there, you can fix these problems or—the more expedient route—offer the buyers a credit so they can pay for the fixes themselves. This might be preferable since you won’t have to oversee the process; you can move out and move on with your life.

Home inspection repairs that aren’t required

Cosmetic issues and normal wear and tear that’s found by the inspector usually don’t have to be fixed.

“Some inspection contracts will expressly state that the buyers cannot request any cosmetic fixes to be made and can only ask that structural defects, building code violations, or safety issues be addressed,” says Lerner. Furthermore, “state laws may also impact your liability as a seller for any issues uncovered during an inspection.”

Be sure to check your local ordinances to know which fix-its that are found during an inspection legally fall in your realm of responsibility.

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Watch: Surprising Things Your Home Inspector Will Not Check

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Home inspection repairs that are negotiable

Between fixes that are typically required and those that aren’t is a gray area that’s up for grabs. How you handle those depends in part on the market you’re in. If you’re in a hot seller’s market, you have more power to call the shots.

“While buyers are always advised to have a home inspection so they know what they are buying, when there are a limited number of homes for sale and buyers need to compete for homes, they are more likely to waive their inspection right to ask a seller to make repairs,” says Lerner.

In fact, “the best contract for a seller would be for the buyer to agree to purchase your home as is or to request an ‘information only’ home inspection, thus absolving you of any need to pay for any fixes found by the inspector,” she adds.

However, in a normal market, you won’t be able to draw such a hard and fast line related to an inspection.

Work with your real estate agent to understand what items you should inspect and then tackle—and where you might want to push back. Don’t have an agent yet? Here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area.

Just remember: you’ll want to be reasonable when it comes to repairs because you may have already put a lot of time into the selling process, and it’s likely in your best interest to accommodate some fixes rather than allowing the buyer to walk away. Also, depending on the magnitude of the requested fix, it’s not likely to go away. Now that it’s been uncovered by the home inspector, you’ll need to disclose the issue to the next buyer.

How to negotiate home fixes

Here are two sneaky but totally effective ways to handle this home hurdle that’s been uncovered by your inspector:

  • Offer a home warranty. “I sometimes keep a $500 one-year home warranty in my back pocket as a token to ease concerns found during a home inspection,” says Kyle Springer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in Bowling Green, KY. That can come in handy if there is an element that doesn’t truly need fixing but is still worrying the buyers, such as an aging HVAC unit.
  • Barter for something of value to the buyer. Often sellers will suggest their real estate agent ask the buyer’s agent if the buyers want appliances or furniture if they have no plans to move them. Springer advises sellers to wait to make that offer until after they get the list from the inspector, because they may be able to beg off certain fixes in exchange for items such as the washer and dryer.

A home inspection can turn up all kinds of issues, but nearly all can be addressed quickly, pleasing buyers and sellers alike.

Source: realtor.com

How Much Does Home Staging Cost—and How Much Will You Gain?

Home staging—where you decorate your house in an effort to entice buyers to bite—may seem counterintuitive at first blush: Why spend money on real estate if you’re moving out? Simple answer: because home staging can get you more money for your home sale.

If your real estate agent (here’s how to find a real estate agent in your area) has suggested staging, it’s because evidence shows staging real estate is usually well worth the effort. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged homes, which is nothing to sneeze at. But just how much does home staging really cost? Here’s the scoop, so you can decide if paying a professional stager is worth the investment for you.

How much will staging a home cost?

File this one under “obvious”—but the pricier the staged home, the higher the potential home staging costs. As a general rule of thumb, the average cost for most stagers is $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.

“Therefore, staging a 2,000-square-foot home would cost around $2,000 to $2,400 a month,” explains real estate professional Crystal Leigh Hemphill. Most professional home stagers also require a three-month minimum staging contract, “even if you sell the home in 24 hours.” That could bring your final staging bill to $7,200.

Home staging might sound expensive, but if you own a vacant home, for example, you’re already paying lots of bills every month that your unstaged house sits empty. If a home stager can help buyers envision how fabulous your living room looks with a little classy furniture and tasteful decor, the costs of home staging may be some of the best money you have ever spent.

What can make staging cost more?

Most home stagers work with the knickknacks and art that the homeowner already owns. But sometimes home stagers “need to purchase new accessories, fresh towels, flowers, and/or fruit, as these small touches make a big difference,” says Sheila Schostok with Your Home Matters Staging and Redesign, which serves Chicago and southeastern Wisconsin. This is especially true with a vacant house. The stagers’ new purchases will add to the overall cost of the project.

The layout of your home could also add a cha-ching to the home staging costs. Home stagers often use lightweight versions of basic furniture pieces. However, a home staging job that requires heavy lifting in a multistory house still usually means hiring additional help to move furniture, says Schostok.

And if you’re listing a vacant home because you’ve already moved out, you’re looking at home staging costs that include rental fees for every stick of furniture and all furnishing and decor items from a stager.

Conversely, if you inherited a ton of antiques (or have a One King’s Lane addiction), the stager may recommend you declutter by putting excess knickknacks into storage, tacking that monthly rental onto your overall staging costs. Staging services may also suggest that sellers declutter and depersonalize the home by removing unusual, religious or political, and personal items, so home buyers can more easily envision themselves living in the home.

A final expense, an important one that can help ensure staging success, is the price of painting a room. A fresh coat in a 12-by-12-foot room will cost a DIYer around $200, or $400 to $700 if left to the pros.

How to save on the cost of home staging

You don’t have to pay a home stager to transform the decor of your entire house from basement laundry room to attic storage.

“A great way to save money when staging is by only focusing on the main areas of a home,” says Schostok.

These are the rooms potential buyers would spend the most time in—the kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom. You’ll also want to pay attention to what the buyers see when they first step in the front door. That first impression, whether it be a bare, unstaged home or an inviting, perfectly staged one, can make the difference in whether they decide to buy and how much they are willing to pay for your house.

Another cost-saving home staging option is to limit yourself to an initial consultation with a home stager, instead of full-service staging. When Schostok does a home staging walk-through with the homeowner, offering home staging tips to maximize the potential for each room, “the price is far less, $125 for 90 minutes.”

You may want to ask your real estate agent if she thinks your home would benefit from home staging. Your agent may also recommend a home staging service or even offer other cost-saving tips besides staging, based on her experience showing real estate to buyers. For example, your agent may recommend that you start by decluttering your home yourself, or spend the money on a specific home improvement task, instead of hiring a professional stager, depending on her own first-time impression of your home.

The biggest cost savings for home sellers who use home staging? Selling their home faster, at a better price, and without months of carrying costs—because their house was properly staged and buyer-ready.

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Watch: How to Stage Your Home Like a Pro

Source: realtor.com

It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI

DIY home improvements can be great feel-good projects. You get to learn a new skill, use your hands, and take pride in something you create yourself.

But let’s face it: Your DIY project doesn’t make sense if it won’t make cents. In other words, it needs to pay off when it comes time to sell your home.

“The key to winning the ROI game with home improvement is to take a less-is-more approach,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor.

If your goal is to earn a return on your DIY investment, DiClerico suggests taking on smaller improvements that will have a big impact on buyers.

“Bells and whistles tend not to rank high on ROI,” DiClerico says. “The high-tech home theater might mean hours of fun for you and the family, but it’s probably not going to pay for itself when the time comes to sell.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit your house with the latest technology—if you’re making an improvement that you’ll love and enjoy, go for it. But if you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and tackle a project that will offer serious bang for the buck, try one of these home improvement projects next weekend.

1. Refresh your kitchen cabinets

“If the cabinets are in good shape, adding a fresh coat of paint or stain will dramatically transform the feel of the entire kitchen,” DiClerico says.

Be warned: Even though painting isn’t very difficult, it’s still time-consuming. You’ll need to remove the doors and drawers to ensure a clean finish. “But in terms of skill level, it’s something even novice DIYers can handle,” DiClerico says.

And remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to any painting project.

“You could lose some buyers with a sloppy paint job,” says Scott W. Campbell, a real estate agent in Milwaukee. “If you truly want to increase ROI, a good paint job takes time and patience.”

2. Create curb appeal

Making a great first impression on home buyers is one of the quickest ways to boost your home’s value.

“Landscaping and gardening are the biggest ones that also are simple,” says Kendall Bonner, a real estate agent in Lutz, FL. “Curb appeal has a significant impact on buyer’s purchasing decisions.”

Aside from adding tasteful foliage and keeping your lawn manicured, a few strings of café lights can also improve your home’s outdoor space and curb appeal. Don’t forget to paint old fences and prune overgrown plants.

3. Give your front door a makeover

Want to boost your home’s curb appeal but don’t have a green thumb? Spruce up your front door instead. All it takes is a few coats of paint. (The same rules apply: Work slowly and carefully to avoid drips and roller marks.)

“A fresh pop of color at the front door is a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal for not a lot of money or time,” DiClerico says.

4. Create a backyard deck

“Outdoor living is hugely popular, even more so since the pandemic, since people are looking to expand their home’s usable living space,” DiClerico says.

Creating a new deck is possible to do yourself, but “it’s not for the faint of heart,” he adds, especially if you’re putting in concrete footings for the deck posts. This project is best for intermediate to advanced renovators, and it helps to have a few friends on board to assist.

Keep the design simple—avoid any tricky changes in elevation—and work with pressure-treated lumber instead of hardwoods that are tough to cut and screw into, DiClerico says.

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Watch: In Spite of It All, Summer 2020 Is a Great Time to Sell Your Home

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5. Brighten up the basement

You don’t need to spring for a fully finished basement to appeal to prospective buyers.

“Spraying the basement unfinished ceiling with flat black latex paint can make big difference to clean up a look, and spraying the walls,” Campbell says.

To take your project to the next level, you can add carpeting and adjustable lighting. By cleaning up the basement, you can help prospective buyers envision a space that will fit their needs, whether it’s as a rec room, play area, or home gym.

6. Add more storage

“Anytime you add usable living space to the home, you increase its value,” DiClerico says. “That’s true now more so than ever given all the time we’re spending at home.”

Making an addition to your home might not be realistic. But smaller improvements, like adding a pantry in the kitchen, a new storage unit in the garage, or even closet organizers, add valuable storage space to your home and will pay off when you’re ready to sell.

7. Make small repairs and keep up with maintenance

It may not be as satisfying as tackling a big project, but staying on top of your home’s basic maintenance is just as important and promises serious ROI.

“Many of today’s buyers are staying away from fixer-uppers in favor of move-in ready homes that won’t require frequent repairs,” DiClerico says.

Seemingly small problems like a leaky faucet, loose gutter, or missing light fixture can be a red flag.

“When buyers see things like that, they think to themselves, ‘What else is wrong with this house that I can’t see?’” DiClerico says. “Spending a few hundred dollars on these small repairs will let the buyer know that this house has been cared for.”

Source: realtor.com