Don’t Let Buyers Drive Away – The Importance of Curb Appeal for Selling Your House

curb appeal improvementsDid you ever hear the expression, “You never get a 2nd chance to make a good 1st impression?” That is usually true with people, but most definitely true with buyers.

Today, many prospective purchasers just get in their cars and drive through neighborhoods that they are interested in.  When they see a for sale sign, they will stop and look.  If the exterior of the house and front lawn do not hold their attention, these buyers will discard this property as a possible choice for their future home.

Exterior things to do to create interest in your home:

1.  Remove all dead shrubs and trees; this includes partially browned ones also.  This is true particularly under trees as they suck up the water and kill off grass and other plants surrounding the trunk. You can line the dead patch with large stones or bricks and make the trees stand out as a beautiful feature in your garden. Replace as much dead and sick trees and bushes as financially possible – keeping in mind that less is sometimes more.  Make sure to check from the street if any trees or shrubs are obscuring any of your house’s features, or make it dark and uninviting, prune them into shape.

2.   Plant flowers to freshen up the curb appeal. Adding a splash of color can be the easiest and cheapest way to make a big impact on your curb appeal.  Flowers in front of the house, inside flower boxes, along the sidewalk, planted in hanging baskets, decorating the porch, or even flower beds will provide a giant boost to your curb appeal.  Be sure to ask your local nursery for recommendations as to what will grow in the particular season and region. Keep in mind to enhance your landscape, not to overpower it.

3.   Strategically place solar accent lighting around borders or flower beds which will highlight the property.  Make sure you don’t overdo.

4.  Clean Up: Remove all debris, bikes, toys, and items that you’ve just left over the years. You want your prospective buyers to imagine their life on your lawn, not think about yours.

5.  Power wash or paint the exterior if necessary – it sounds like a lot of work, but has a huge impact! A fresh coat of paint or power wash will do wonders. You should also consider painting your front door and upgrading the hardware to give your house personality.

6.  Repair or replace loose shutters, rusted rails, bare grass patches, loose steps, etc.  Don’t forget to replace the doorbell that doesn’t work.

7.  And of course, keep the grass mowed.

Prospective buyers will let their real estate agents know about your house.  This will turn into appointments, and a sale for you.  Hooray!


Staging Your Home For Sale

Decorating a Contemporary Dining Room

What is important when selling your home?  The short answer is getting the maximum amount of dollars for it.  One of the most effective and cheapest ways is to stage your home to attract buyers.

According to experts, staging a home can add 6 – 20% in value compared to a non-staged home. [source: Staged Homes]. More than 90% of homes staged by accredited professionals sell in one month or less and professional home staging companies charge about $5,000.

However, here are some tips how to get the most for your home if you don’t to hire someone to stage your house for you:

  • Start planning: To start with, be very objective when evaluating every room.  Plan what you would like to do, what the costs are and what your budget is.
  • Size Up: One of the most important things to do is to make a small space appear larger.   Since you are not going to add an addition, you might think of adding a mirror (half, or full wall) to the living room or dining room.  Relocating furniture is another ideal way of increasing space.
  • De-clutter. Remove personal knick-knacks and clutter to have buyers envision themselves living there.
  • Organize: Think about the pieces you are not using frequently, and place them in the basement, or garage.  Better yet, donate them to a favorite charity.
  • Freshen-up: Consider adding fresh flowers on the kitchen table or counter, and in the dining room.  Use scented candles in the bathrooms that look pretty and match the décor.   Remove any soiled or torn drapes, tablecloths, or towels.

Your buyers will feel very comfortable walking through your home. Happy staging!

Are You Ready To Buy? 10 Steps to Find Out!

Adding Granite to Your Luxury Kitchen

Most Americans want to live the American Dream, which means for many owning your own home.  With the economy stagnating  and the home ownership rates at a 15 year low, the first question is, am I ready to buy NOW?

The following questions should help you clearly understand the buying process, and what you need to do to get ready.  Nothing is more upsetting than finding your dream home, and then finding out that you cannot buy it.  These tips should help you to avoid pitfalls.

  1. Go to a reputable bank or mortgage broker, and get qualified.  That simply means, find out how much house you really can afford to buy.
  2. Ask as many questions as you need to, in order to understand the mortgage process from beginning to end.  If you don’t understand something, ask again.  If the mortgage lender is not happily compliant, please take your business elsewhere. Ask the lender to let you know what you haven’t asked that is important.
  3. Make sure you ask about all fees you will be charged, such as points on the loan, bank costs, etc.
  4. Make sure you have at least 8 months of reserves in the bank.  Some lenders require 6 months reserves before approving a loan.
  5. Make sure you will be able to pay your mortgage, insurance, utilities, taxes, and daily living expenses if you unexpectedly lose your job.
  6. This is a great time to learn how to budget, and save for the American Dream. Are there any expenses that you could cut or lower?
  7. Find a good real estate attorney to represent you.
  8. Get your savings and retirment accounts in order. If you have several (employers) 401ks and Roth IRA’s, its worth consolidating them in fewer, more managable investments and make them work for you.
  9. Check your credit score and improve it if needed. One great way you could get started right now, is to call your credit card company and ask them how they can help.
  10. After you have been qualified, seek out a good real estate agent to help you with the buying process.

But with all the excitement, keep in mind: Do not purchase any property above your means.

We provide you with great financial tools to calculate your mortgage payments, closing costs and affordability of a property in the sidebar. If you have any questions, please contact us and we are happy to help you.

Good luck and you will be glad you did it.