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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

6 Modest Front-Yard Updates Home Sellers Should Never Forget

Home sellers know that a tidy, tasteful home will catch any buyer’s eye. That’s why many people put effort into fixing up—and even staging—the interior of their home before putting it on the market and hosting open houses.

But did you know that an unkempt exterior could deter potential buyers from even setting foot in the door? That’s right. A shoddy-looking front yard could undermine all that hard work you put into beautifying the inside of your home, and that could jeopardize your chances of selling.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it happens when a potential buyer sees the exterior of your home,” says Kate Rumson, interior designer. “We all tend to form opinions in the first few seconds of seeing a home for the first time—make those seconds count!”

Don’t let your home’s exterior fall to the wayside. Whether your front yard is in need of a few tweaks or a full face-lift, the following tips will help boost your home’s curb appeal and make sure everything matches.

1. Replace your garage door

Garage doors tend to be large, so they’re a major architectural element of your home. Replacing one can be costly, but this one upgrade could help sell your house faster.

According to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, garage door replacement has consistently topped the list of remodeling projects that give you the biggest return on investment. In fact, this year’s report found that by replacing your garage door, you could recoup 94.5% of the cost when you sell your home.

“Old or damaged garage doors will make a house feel dated and not cared for. If your garage doors are in poor condition, replace them,” says Rumson. “Don’t let potential buyers think that the damaged garage doors represent the rest of your home’s condition.”

As for the cost, garage door replacement can range from $600 to $2,750, according to HomeAdvisor.

2. Do a front door audit

The first thing potential buyers see as they walk up to your home is your front door. The door can give house hunters a hint of your design sense and what decor delights await them on the other side.

Ted Roberts, chief style and design expert at Schlage, says to consider the color and materials of both the inside and outside of your door. He says the hardware on a door is also important to the overall aesthetic and that door hardware should be updated to create a unified statement throughout your property.

“Updating your front door can do wonders for your security and style. If your door hardware is showing signs of age, this fall could be the perfect time to upgrade to a new handle set and an electronic lock that adds smart, keyless convenience,” says Roberts.

3. Complement your colors

Choosing the right colors for the inside of your home takes careful thought and consideration. But no matter what paint you choose, make sure the palette transitions smoothly from exterior to interior.

“Interior and exterior colors don’t have to match, but they need to complement one another,” says Rumson. For example, a traditional forest-green exterior trim looks great when paired with navy blue, tan, or blush interiors.

“Make sure that the colors of your exterior accurately represent what buyers should expect to see on the inside,” Rumson adds.

4. Consider new window frames

Photo by Spivey Architects, Inc.

Installing new window frames will create the appearance of brand-new windows, and is a quick and inexpensive way to make your home look newer and more attractive to buyers, says Rumson.

Consider updating your outdated window frames with new, stylish black window frames.

“Black window frames will boost your home’s curb appeal, make your home more unique, and create a great contrast with the rest of your interiors,” says Roberts. “Because black windows make such a statement, they don’t always need shades, blinds, or curtains, offering an opportunity for you to sidestep what can be an occasionally costly investment.”

5. Refresh your landscape

The American Society of Landscape Architects recommends that homeowners invest 10% of a home’s value in landscaping. A well-manicured front yard can be eye candy to potential buyers.

Professional landscaping can be pricey, but we’re not suggesting a full foliage overhaul. Simply take a few hours on a weekend to freshen up your existing landscaping with plants and fresh mulch.

Over 75% of top real estate agents nationwide say that well-landscaped homes are worth anywhere from 1% to 10% more than homes without landscaping, according to research at HomeLight.

6. Install outdoor lighting

Photo by Solid Renovations

“Outdoor lighting is important for safety, but it can also significantly improve the curb appeal of a home,” says Rumson.

There are a variety of outdoor lighting options, from decorative lighting (like sconces by your front door) to landscape lighting (to illuminate the pathway to your porch).

“It’s an easy update,” says Rumson. “You will find many beautiful options and styles at your local home improvement store.”

Light up your home’s exterior walkway with a set of 10 solar-powered, black LED outdoor lights ($79.97, Home Depot) or a lantern sconce ($59.97, Home Depot).

Source: realtor.com

8 Red Flags Home Buyers Will Undoubtedly Notice—and How To Address Them Correctly

When my husband and I were house hunting, properties that had plastic taped over the windows or draft catchers below the exterior doors gave us pause: Did that mean the house wasn’t energy-efficient or warm enough in colder months? Newly retouched areas on the ceiling made us wonder if the sellers were covering up water damage from a leaky roof that had been patched but not replaced.

We weren’t wrong to be spooked.

“When buyers walk into a home, they want to know it’s been well-maintained,” says Lynn Pineda, a Realtor® with eXp Realty in Southeast Florida. “Corroded air-conditioning vents, loose hinges on cabinets, and leaky faucets lead buyers to think, ‘If the seller can’t keep these things up, what big things are lurking behind the walls that haven’t been taken care of?’”

As a seller, you should already know that legally, you can’t hide any major problems with the house. So if your home needs some attention, don’t slap on a quick fix—you’re not fooling anybody, and you may just send potential buyers straight back out the door, says Chicago-based Frank Lesh, ambassador for the American Society of Home Inspectors.

“Sellers have to be careful not to put lipstick on a pig,” he cautions. “Just do the right thing, fix the problem, and make the deal go through a lot smoother for everybody.”

Here’s how to tackle eight common repairs properly to swing the odds in your favor.

1. A fresh coat of paint on one room’s ceiling

The issue: A stained ceiling, possibly from a leak

“When we inspectors see cans of new stain-killing primers in the garage, we know that something happened,” says Lesh.

Do this instead: If you paint over a stain without making sure you don’t have an active leak, that stain can reappear in a month, adds Lesh, so bring in a professional who can rule out a leaky roof or some other problem.

2. Bathroom water is shut off

The issue: Your toilet runs constantly

Do this instead: “The most common failure is the flapper in the toilet tank. There may be debris caught under it, preventing it from closing, and flappers wear out and need to be replaced from time to time,” says Lesh. “This is an inexpensive repair that any handy person can do.”

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Watch: These Little Flaws in Your Home Are a Big Deal to Buyers

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3. Newly painted trim

The issue: Wooden window frames past their prime

“A lot of times people paint over rotten wood, and think nobody’s going to see that, but we can tell that it’s rotting. We just put our fingernail on the trim to see if it goes through the wood,” says Lesh.

Do this instead: Pull out the rotten trim and replace it.

4. Lights are off in just one room

Issue: Flickering lights in that room

Do this instead: “Electrical issues can be dangerous, so if you’ve tried the lightbulb in another fixture and it works, then there may not be power going to the light,” says Lesh.

Pick up an inexpensive voltage tester, which lights up when electricity is present at the switch and fixture, he suggests. A handy homeowner may be able to trace the problem, but to be safe, call an electrician to make sure the wiring is correct.

“Old wiring can be a concern to some buyers, so sellers are better off just fixing it ahead of time,” adds Pineda.

5. Small space heaters or air conditioners set up

Issue: Some rooms are too cold or too warm

“If a home has central air conditioning, but in one room you see an additional AC unit sitting there, buyers are going to wonder why it’s not working,” says Pineda.

Do this instead: If you have a forced-air furnace, check to make sure the furnace filter, blower fan, ductwork, and grills are clean, advises Lesh.

“Sometimes debris clogs the system, and the further the cold room is away from the furnace, the harder it is to get heat,” he explains. “If you have radiators or baseboard units, make sure they’re clean and not obstructed.

“If the colder rooms are over an unconditioned space like a garage, then there may be poor insulation in that room, which will make the room harder to heat and cool,” Lesh adds. “A home inspector who uses an infrared camera should be able to find the problem.”

6. Dehumidifier and air freshener in place

Issue: A bad smell in a damp room

“It raises my radar when I see or smell that,” says Lesh. “That’s a real tipoff, because either there’s mold or mildew, or something else.”

Do this instead: “There’s typically a root cause for a room being damp, so you want to correct the cause, not put a Band-Aid on it,” Lesh says. “If there’s moisture getting in the house, that moisture is generally coming from outside. Figure out how to prevent water from getting in, not how to handle it after it gets in.”

7. Plastic wrap taped across every window

Issue: Old, drafty windows

Do this instead: “Sealing the areas around the windows would be a good alternative to plastic wrap,” says Lesh, who suggests buying caulk in rope form, which can be molded to fit around large openings and cracks. “That’ll form an airtight seal, which will help keep drafts out.”

8. Strategically placed planters or shrubs

Issue: Puddles of water near your foundation

Do this instead: Water should always drain away from your foundation, notes Lesh, so if it’s collecting against your house, this needs to be corrected.

“Ask a professional why this is happening,” suggests Lesh. “Ask: Is the land sloping toward the house, which means water might eventually run into the lower level? Are the gutters clogged so water is pouring over the top and landing alongside the foundation?”

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Taking the time now to fix things properly instead of rushing through a shoddy half-repair will pay off in the long run, advises Pineda.

“When you’re selling a home, everything has to look pristine if you want to interest buyers and get the most money for your home,” she says. “Get it in tiptop shape. If don’t you want to do all the repairs and the cleaning, then hire someone to come in and take care of it for you.”

Source: realtor.com

Virtual Staging: The Hot Trend That Can Help Sell Your Home During the Coronavirus Crisis

In this age of social distancing, you might want to limit the number of strangers traipsing through your house. So chances are good you’ve said sayonara to the idea of having a staging company come in to artfully showcase your home for sale.

That means it’s time to get creative in order to prep your property for sale. And guess what? There’s an app for that.

Actually, there’s a wide variety of virtual staging software options available, allowing designers to digitally add gorgeous furnishings and accessories to photos of each room in your house, enhancing its overall appeal.

Some tech platforms can even do virtual renovations like digitally erasing a tired sofa or peeling wallpaper, and revamping rooms with new wall color and different flooring so you can show it off online to potential buyers.

Eager to find out more? Here’s how you can make virtual staging work for you.

Virtual staging is a practical solution during the pandemic

When Ed Gory, a Realtor®, was preparing to list a vacant two-bedroom ranch house in early March, staging companies couldn’t physically work in the house. Gory’s photographer suggested he contact roOomy, a company offering virtual staging services. Digital decor elements are layered into high-resolution photos of the home and rendered into a realistic final image to look like you’ve actually accomplished the transformation.

“I’d never considered virtual staging before, because the finished product I’d seen looked a little cartoonish, but the technology has come a long way,” says Gory, who works at Intero Real Estate in San Carlos, CA.

“Since buyers weren’t able to visit houses, virtual staging provided a means for us to show something more exciting than a picture of a blank room,” Gory says.

It worked so well, in fact, that the house was sold five days later.

This didn’t surprise Lindsay Dillon, roOomy’s vice president of strategic partnerships and marketing. That’s because virtual staging is experiencing a surge in popularity.

“Even before the coronavirus, we were seeing a shift in how the real estate community was approaching digital content,” Dillon says.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Your home can be styled any way you like

Home stagers usually pull decorative items and furniture from their warehouse to fit your rooms, limited to whatever inventory they have on hand at the time. They also generally just add basic elements—think sofas, dining and bedroom furniture, plus artwork—but they won’t usually change out light fixtures, for example. Virtual staging designers have no limits, because they’re working with a huge digital library of 3-D assets.

“We want to show the space in its best light based on your target buyer,” says Dillon. But “we don’t want to be deceptive, so we won’t add a wall or kitchen island that doesn’t exist.”

Virtual staging can make a vacant home more attractive

Virtual staging is especially useful for sellers who have already moved out, says Lyndsey Garza, owner/broker at Galveston Vacation Real Estate. An empty house is typically much more expensive to stage, and it can be harder to sell.

“For people that don’t have the imagination to see something as an office or a kids’ playroom, virtual staging gives them room to think outside the box,” Garza explains.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Virtual staging is cost-effective

Sellers can save significantly with virtual staging, because the costs of physically staging a home—removing existing furniture, hauling in a bunch of new things, and then staging the home—really add up.

“Here, a 1,200-square-foot home could cost $2,500, but it’s about a third that price to do virtual staging,” says Gory. “Plus, you have a lot more control over the style, artwork, and even the plants you put out, so you could really dress up a house and give it a great online first impression.”

Garza notes that to minimally stage a four-bedroom, three-bath, 2,500-square-foot home in Galveston or the Houston area for three months, sellers fork over $3,500. A simple virtual staging would cost about $500.

“Very few sellers want to put any more money into their home, and virtual staging saves them money with less traffic through the home,” she says.

You can save valuable time when listing your home

Because virtual staging is done on a computer, it saves a lot of time, Gory says. Usually real estate agents meet with a live stager to assess the house, wait for an estimate, and then wait again for movers to bring over rented furniture—and finally, the photographer takes listing photos.

“That process could easily take a week from start to finish, and it took a lot quicker to stage virtually, because I did everything from my computer,” Gory says.

And consider this: If you’re in the middle of sprucing up your place, you don’t have to wait until your renovations are complete before posting listing photos—virtual staging allows buyers to visualize how great the house will look when you’re done.

Click the arrows and slide from left to right to see a fully staged room from roOomy.

Be transparent about what’s real and what isn’t

The last thing you want is a buyer who feels tricked into going to see a house that looks nothing like the photographs, says Garza.

“The downfall with virtual staging is that sometimes it can appear misleading: Even though the perspectives and measurements are theoretically correct, it’s fictitious—it’s an idea of what the space could be versus the actual space,” she says, adding that it’s important to clearly note on the online property listing that the images have been virtually staged.

Consider a true virtual staging platform

There’s a reason virtual staging hasn’t taken off in the past—it’s tricky to get right. Make sure you have confidence in the technology being used by the company you choose.

“Because we’re able to transform a 2-D image into a 3-D space with our patented technology and add real 3-D furniture to that space, we’re ensuring that what you’re seeing in scale is accurate,” says Dillon. “You’re not trying to fit a king-sized bed in a room that has no business to have one by using photo-editing tools.”

And be sure to carefully vet the companies you and your agent are thinking of hiring.

“Some of them look way too spiffed up and don’t fit the property, and sometimes it looks like you’re playing a video game,” Garza says. “I like to show clients samples, because I want sellers to be happy with what’s online. Then, chances are buyers are going to be happy with it, too.”

Source: realtor.com

7 Mistakes That Could Keep You From Selling Your Home This Winter

Selling a house during winter comes with its own unique challenges. Snow, for one, can bury your home’s best features. Your normally lush landscaping may look drab and lifeless. And truth be told, all you want to do is cozy up at home rather than welcome buyers through your door.

Still, if you’re game to sell during winter, it’s essential that you put on your snow pants and put some effort into making your house shine. To help, here are some classic mistakes to avoid once the temperature drops, and why they can make such a difference. Just avoid making these all-too-common winter-selling fumbles in order to get top dollar.

Mistake No. 1: Setting down the shovel

You cleared off enough of the driveway for your car, but potential buyers won’t be entering through the garage like you do.

“Blazing a path through 3 feet of virgin snow makes a lousy first impression,” says John Engel, a Realtor® with Halstead Properties, in New Canaan, CT.

Don’t put away your snow shovel until you’ve cleared a path to your front door. Or save your poor back by hiring a snow removal company to keep your paths walkable.

“Not only does it make it more inviting for buyers, but it avoids potential safety and liability concerns,” says Massachusetts Realtor John Ternullo.

Mistake No. 2: Giving in to the winter blahs

Gray skies and barren trees make winter a particularly depressing time to sell. But you don’t have to let your home look as doleful as the weather.

“Pops of color by the entryway, like a seasonal wreath and topiaries, can add some interest to the front entrance as well as make it more inviting,” Ternullo says.

And don’t wait until buyers schedule showings to add some life: Colorful curb appeal transforms your listing photos from drab to dramatic.

Mistake No. 4: Not scrubbing your windows

Colder temps have robbed your trees of their leaves, leaving your home to look a bit sadder in winter’s wake. But that’s not the only problem. Those full trees previously shielded your home from direct sunlight. And now that it’s pouring in your windows, potential buyers will be able to see everything. 

Scuffs, fingerprints, and streaks are “never more apparent” than in the wintertime, Engel says, so you should make sure you’re vigilant about keeping windows clean. Alone, that grime might not be enough to turn off a potential buyer, but it might make them wonder what other details you’ve missed.

Mistake No. 5: Displaying outdated summer photos

Your Tudor looks particularly glorious in the summer, but if your only listing photos were taken in April, buyers will immediately suspect a problem.

“Nothing says ‘old, tired listing’ more than the photo you took nine months ago,” Engel says. Talk to your Realtor about taking new photos that make your home look festive and seasonal. Feel free to keep older photos in the listing—your buyers might want to know what the home looks like when the gardens are in full bloom—but updated photos will make your listing seem fresh.

Mistake No. 6: Turning down the heat

Don't give potential buyers a chilly reception.
Don’t give potential buyers a chilly reception.

Olivier Le Moal/iStock

“Frugality is great, but not when you’re trying to sell real estate for top dollar,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and co-founder of SparkRental.com.

Turn the heat up before you leave for showings, your utility bill be damned. Stick to 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep everyone comfy.

“It will make the house feel homier and more welcoming,” Davis says. “It also gives the impression that the house is energy-efficient and well-insulated.”

Mistake No. 7: Denying access

It’s New Year’s Eve and a buyer wants to stop by. How dare they! Shouldn’t they assume you have a fabulous party to prepare for?

Maybe. But if you want to sell your home in the off-season, the buyer has to come first. You’ll need to work with your Realtor to devise a strategy for squeezing in showings, even in between all of winter’s holiday events and family gatherings.

“While it may be inconvenient, it’s crucial not to deny showings, as that could be a missed opportunity,” Ternullo says. “There may be less buyers compared to spring, but winter buyers tend to be serious.”

Mistake No. 8: Leaving out your draft stoppers

Your hand-knit draft stopper might look adorable snuggled against your door, but it “sends a clear message to buyers,” Davis says. “This house is drafty and loses heat easily.”

Not that you should lie. But every home has hidden problems, and it’s best to let the buyers make their own assessments and discoveries during the inspection period. Don’t leave out little things that could sway their decision.

Source: realtor.com