Hire a Concrete Contractor Instead of Going DIY

As a rule of thumb, whenever there’s a need for concrete construction, you should think twice about taking the matters into your own hands. Sure, turning it into a DIY project is always a possibility, but think about it; you don’t construct/reconstruct using concrete every day, and you probably don’t have the required experience anyway, so hiring a contractor is probably a good idea. Still thinking you can go DIY here? Well, read on, and after you’re done, if you still want to take matters into your own hands, by all means, do it!

Skills, knowledge and experience

Unless you’re an expert or experienced in concrete work, your knowledge and skills probably don’t meet the requirements. Concrete work is complicated: you need to possess solid knowledge of the best practices, all the necessary procedures, measurements, tools and techniques, which goes to say that this profession can’t be performed by just about anyone.

Okay, fine, so you’ll have to do some research; no biggie, right? Unfortunately, even though you can gain significant knowledge through research, it will not only take a lot of time, but it will also give you zero experience – a factor that is absolutely essential in concrete work. So, you need to ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend on preparations, tools, and whether or not you’re okay with messing things up here and there, because it will inevitably happen.

crop_sm_Bp1Precision

Speaking of messing things up, you need to realize how much dedication lies in mixing concrete – much, much more than you might think. Even the most inexperienced concrete contractor has worked with concrete more than a couple of times, which means experience – something that you probably don’t have; and even if you do, it is probably incomparable to that of a pro.

So, what happens if the process of concrete mixing isn’t done correctly? Well, the concrete becomes susceptible to cracking, and cracking is not something that can be effectively patched up. So, unless you don’t mind potentially doing things over in a couple of years, make sure that you stick to experts in the concrete department.

Equipment

Every true professional has all the necessary equipment by their side, or is perfectly fine with cashing out for a necessary piece if needed, because it’s probably going to come in handy for another job further down the line. The equipment in question isn’t something as mundane as a hammer or a paint roller. Essential and quality concrete tools include stuff like scouring machines, drill stands, drilling machines, magnetic drill rigs; stuff that you probably don’t have stored away in your garage.

This is another reason why contractors are a way better solution for concrete work than turning it into a DIY project!

Saving money

If none of the previous factors have deterred you from taking concrete matters into your own inexperienced hands, the financial factor just might. If you’ve ever taken on a DIY project, you know that learning along the way is unavoidable here, and this is exactly what will have you hemorrhaging money that you could’ve easily put in your pocket.

As mentioned, someone who goes DIY on their concrete project is bound to make mistakes, and fixing these up is another thing that will doubtlessly set you back. Add the cost of purchasing all the necessary tools and machinery, and you’ll see how much of a waste you’d be making by taking on this task by yourself.

If none of these factors have deterred you from turning your concrete renovations/construction into a DIY project, nothing will! Think about your lack of skills, knowledge, experience, precision and equipment and about how much money you’d be wasting, and hire a concrete contractor who will do an amazing job.

 

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 11:12 AM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged ,

How to Create a Perfect Open Floor Area

Are you thinking of redecorating and modernizing your house but aren’t sure how you want to do it? While an open floor plan can be challenging it definitely doesn’t mean boring. As a matter of fact, making an open floor area can be the perfect opportunity to get creative and start working on an amazing arrangement of the interior of your home. This type of design is perfect for large families who love spending time together but also for those who love to entertain their friends in the comfort of their own homes.

image 7Create different areas

While having an open floor plan means you’ll have one large room, it should still be sectioned off in order to make clearly distinguished parts of the area. So, for example, if your kitchen, living room and dining room are all connected, it’s still important to decorate them in such a way that it’s clear which space is for what. This can be done by cleverly arranging the furniture. For example, put a sofa between the living and dining area. You can also use double-sided bookcases or cabinets to make a clear distinction between areas. However, be careful when arranging the furniture; too many pieces will make the area appear stuffy and crowded and the point of this type of design is to have plenty of open space.

Lighting

Even though Australia is pretty sunny, it’s still very important to have good lighting in every room of your house (ed. note: In rainy Portland, good lighting is even more important!). You can clearly distinguish various areas of your open floor plan by installing different chandeliers in each designated area. After you install chandeliers, add some pendant lighting to the kitchen area, put in some additional soft lights in the living area and make sure that the chandelier in your dining area is directly above the center of the table. You can always add some additional smaller fixtures that will complete the design.

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Courtesy of StockSnap

Walls

As much as it’s important to make a clear distinction between areas, it’s also important to somehow tie them together and wall decoration is the perfect way you can achieve this. If you’ve decided to paint your walls, use the same shade everywhere, and then choose a separate accent wall color or design for each space. Each accent you choose should work with the overall color but also with other accent designs. Installing tiles in your kitchen is a great way to create an interesting backsplash while wallpapers as an accent design in the dining area can really make the space even more interesting.

Windows

Having plenty of natural light is really important for any room so make sure you have plenty of windows in your open floor area. You should use the same materials for all windows but you can go for different window treatments for each space. For a more eclectic yet matching look, you can use the same style and fabric window treatments in different colors. If you have a patio, make sure you use it to the max by connecting it with your interior. You can find high-quality sliding doors in Sydney and use them to gain easy access to the outside but also to let in as much light as possible.

rosesAccessorizing

The final, yet most important, touch when decorating are accessories. Not only can accessories tie the room together, but they make it look extra beautiful and interesting. You can arrange some same style accent pieces around your home like river stones, wooden décor and landscape art, water features or something similar. The pieces don’t have to match, but they should work well together.

You will definitely have to knock down a few walls if you want to create an open floor plan, but the end result will be truly amazing. Open floor plan adds a certain dose of coziness that every home needs; so think carefully and start planning.

Posted on December 20, 2017 at 12:27 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

What You Should Know About Home Energy Audits

I took a fantastic class this morning dealing with a new law that was recently passed: starting January 1, 2018, anyone wishing to sell their home within Portland city limits (with or without an agent) must get a home energy audit prior to listing, and must provide the report with the home energy score (HES) to any prospective buyers.  The HES is on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being least efficient and 10 being most efficient.  Scores are based on BTUs used, and the majority of your score comes from heating, water heating, and cooling.

There is a lot of talk about the impact that these scores are going to have on the real estate market, and a lot of confusion as to what this is going to mean for sellers.  I’ve taken some of the more important information that I learned and put it into an infographic for easy reading and sharing:

Untitled Design

It’s important to realize that the requirement to sell only applies to the City of Portland (so if you’re in the Metro area, but not Portland proper you don’t have to have one).  You’ll also want to note that you don’t need to make any upgrades or repairs based on the report.  All you have to do is get it done and provide copies.

This city ordinance is still in early stages: they haven’t yet worked out everything, and will have a rule-making session in July to nail down some of the finer details.  For instance, we don’t yet know how long an energy audit will be valid (but my guess is probably a year).  Also condos are an area of concern because there are too many variables when you have units on all sides.  Chances are that condos will be an exemption, but we won’t find out until July.

Even if you’re not thinking of selling next year, knowing your HES has great benefits.  For starters, you’ll get a really clear picture of the energy efficiency of your home.  The last page of the report shows upgrades that would increase the efficiency.  It is broken down into 2 categories: update now, and update later.  Alongside these repairs, your report will give you the estimated annual savings by making the change.

I’ll update once we know more about this new ordinance, but as always, feel free to reach out with any questions you have!

Posted on March 28, 2017 at 3:27 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Portland, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Save Money in Your New Home With These Tips

When you’ve just purchased a new home, there’s a ton on your mind. There’s moving, decorating, getting to know your new neighborhood, and more.  It is an exciting, if a little overwhelming time. In the rush to get settled, though, there are some important money-saving areas that tend to get overlooked.  Here are a few things that should be at the top of your to-do list; they don’t take long, and can save you a ton of money in the long run:

StockSnap_0MJCHNCF3N.jpg

Check on your water heater

Set your water heater for 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is plenty hot enough for bathing, washing dishes, and any other household use of hot water, so heating water above 120 degrees is a waste of energy and money. And if your water heater is an older model, it’s worthwhile to invest in a water heater blanket to keep it insulated.

SplitShire-8524.jpg

Replace air filters

Sellers often put in a lot of cosmetic work to get the home move-in ready, but they often skip or forget about air filters in the HVAC system. Filters can be found at your local hardware store (just make sure to get the right size) and are easy to replace. Doing so will improve air flow and quality, and save on energy costs.  Air filters need to be changed periodically (depending on the type of filter and frequency of use, anywhere from every 1-6 months), and this will get you in the habit right away.

Get a smart thermostat

nest_learning_thermostat

Seriously, a smart thermostat, is an incredible investment in your home. I know I’ve mentioned them before  because I can’t get over how cool they are! The thermostats themselves are a little expensive, but you’ll make that money back in energy savings.  Plus, in Portland, as well as many other cities, you can send in a mail-in rebate to your power company for switching over. It’s programmable so that your AC and furnace run at lower levels when you’re not home, so you’re not wasting money to cool or heat an empty house.

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Set up a space to air-dry clothes

Whether it’s a rack in your laundry room or a clothesline in the back yard, air-drying clothes is a big money saver over even the most energy-efficient dryers.  Even just getting a clothes drying rack to set up in one room when you need it is helpful. Air-drying your garments will also help them last much longer.  If you’re lucky enough to have space in your yard for a clothesline, nothing beats the fresh scent of clothes dried by Mother Nature!

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Check for leaks and running toilets

A leaky faucet or a constantly-running toilet will use up water unnecessarily, and that’ll show up on your utility bill. And in the worst case, they’ll cause expensive water damage and mold.  Leaky faucets are usually an easy, inexpensive fix that you can do yourself.  A lot of times, it’s as simple as replacing a cartridge.  Of course, if you’re unsure of your plumbing skills, it’s always best to call a professional.

Do you have any go-to money savers that you implement in your home?  Tell us about them in the comments?

Posted on February 1, 2017 at 1:53 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Locked Out? Read this Before You Call that Locksmith

Recently I had the chance to talk to the awesome Robbie Richards at Mr. Rekey in Austin, TX.  He shared with me this infographic he created to shed some light on a problem that most of us aren’t even aware of: locksmith scams.  Luckily, I’ve never experienced anything like this, but it is so important as consumers for us to know the risks whenever we hire someone.  I found this graphic to be super informative and I hope you will, too.
Here’s what Robbie himself has to say about locksmith scams, and his infographic below:
“Nothing is more frustrating than being locked out of your house or business. Turning to Google for a good locksmith, and choosing the first one on the results page, just might be the riskiest choice you make in your frantic state.
“Each month the Better Business Bureau receives complaints in mass quantities regarding locksmiths, and being scammed or robbed later. Locksmith scammers routinely overcharge, make duplicate keys to rob their clients later. Mr. Rekey luckily understands the risk that comes with looking for a locksmith and has created the Locksmith Scam Survival Guide.
“The Mr. Rekey Locksmith Scam Survival Guide breaks down types of locksmith scams, how they work, how to identify the warning signs.”
LocksmithScamInfographic
So if you’re in the Austin area, be sure to give Robbie a call if you’re ever locked out.  And good news for us in Portland, there’s a Mr. Rekey here, too!
Posted on August 2, 2016 at 7:34 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Increase Your Home’s Value Without Breaking the Bank

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home.  This tends to be the case for things like room additions, which almost always cost more than the added value onto your home.   This list goes in the opposite direction: Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

1. High Quality Ceiling Fans

non-traditional-ceiling-fan

In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, spending a few hundred dollars to get new ones is well worth the investment. Firstly, a new ceiling fan is practical.  If they haven’t been updated in a long time, chances are a new one will be more energy efficient.  Replacing the standard cream colored fan will make your home feel instantly less dated as well. Aside from that, the new look can give your home a high-end feel that isn’t as costly as other finishes.

2. Trees

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.  A nice, shady tree in the yard can do wonders for your curb appeal, as well.  It’s a good idea to talk to an arborist about what trees to get and where to plant them.  This way, you can ensure that you don’t plant too close to the house or accidentally bring in an invasive species.  Another positive to talking to a professional: if your trees are still young, buyers may be concerned about how big they’ll grow and any issues with roots spreading.  Having the arborist’s professional opinion will put buyers at ease and they can instead think about that great tire swing they’ll be able to put in.

3. Energy Efficiency

nest_learning_thermostat

Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile.  Like the ceiling fans, most electrical items will increase the energy efficiency of your home simply by being newer. One of the most popular energy efficient updates we’re seeing is people installing smart thermostats in their home.  Most likely, you’ve heard of Nest, which runs for around $250, and can save you a ton of money in yearly heating costs. Generally easy to install, it’s a quick way to bring your home into the future, and give your home an stand out selling point.

4. Outdoor lighting

LED-deck-lighting-Outdoor-Lighting-Perspectives

Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home.  It helps tie the interior and exterior into one living space.  Lighting fixtures on a back patio will give the impression that the space is finished and all the new owners will need to do is set up their furniture to start entertaining!

5. Molding

crown molding

You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.  Just that little addition makes a room seem richer, and coupled with a your new ceiling fan, can turn an average living room into a high-end one for way less than a full remodel!

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for ways to gain value in your home without having to spend a ton of money.  Even if you’re not ready to sell yet, these updates are a great idea to improve your home’s worth and your quality of living!

 

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 8:53 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

5 Things Every Seller Should Do Before Listing

You’ve made the decision to sell your home, now you just call an agent and they put a sign in your front yard, right?  Sure, if you’re not worried about when it will sell or for how much.  If you’re looking for top dollar, though, you’ll have to put in a little more work than that.  A lot of sellers will meet with an agent assuming that the day they sign the listing agreement is the day advertisement of their home will begin.  It’s always frustrating to see a seller whose move is time-sensitive learns that their property won’t be ready to list for a few weeks.   There are definitely things that need to be done alongside your real estate agent, but putting in some prep work will cut down the time before you can list, and ultimately close and get moved!

Here are 5 things to do once you decide to sell:

  1. Determine the Equity in Your Home

ITA18FXIBLThe first thing you need to do is figure out how much is left on your mortgage balance.  You want to ensure that your payoff amount is less than what you’ll sell for, or else you won’t be making any money off your home! Then there are the costs of a transaction: commissions, prorated taxes for the year, etc. You’ll also have to think about where you’re moving.  Most people use the proceeds of their home’s sale for the down payment on a new house.  Will the equity in your home cover all that?  Call up your mortgage lender and ask their opinion.  They will be able to answer a lot of the preliminary questions you might have.

To figure out what your home is truly worth, you’ll need the expertise of a real estate agent who can perform a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you.  If you just want to get a ball park idea of what your home is worth before meeting with an agent, you can look at market trends in your area.  Neighborhood News is really excellent; it’s free, updates monthly, and it will give you info on recently sold properties in your specific area. From there, you can see that other 2 bedroom homes are selling in your neighborhood for between $250K-$275K, for example, and determine if that will be enough for you.

BEWARE of online home estimates!  Sites like Zillow or Trulia (who was recently bought out by Zillow, so they are now pretty much one in the same) will give you an estimated value of your home, but it’s been found that they get within 5% of actual market value only about 50% of the time.  While you can use their estimate to get an idea of what you’re home is worth, don’t get caught up in that number.  Once you’ve determined that you can sell and you’ll still have some money left in your pocket, it’s time to move to the next step.

2. Declutter and Depersonalize

9ORZU6QN7SI’ve talked about this before but that’s because this is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to get your home ready to sell.  Take a look around your house.  Are there pictures of family and friends all over your walls?  Buyers don’t want to see them.  It’s hard to envision yourself in a house where there are signs of someone else’s life everywhere. Take anything that’s specific to you or your family: photos, trophies/awards, kids’ art, personalized/monogrammed items and store them.  You’re going to have to pack them for the move anyway!  If you’re not quite ready to see your wall sans family portrait, make a note now of everything that will have to be put away before your home starts being shown.  Especially for homes with children, this will be more things than you initially think!

Cluttered spaces are a big turn off as well.  As comfy as your oversized recliner is, the fact that it takes up half the floor space in your living room isn’t doing you any favors.  A good real estate agent will have access to a staging company that will be able to do most of the hard work for you, but before you make that call, it’s good to know what pieces you’ll need to put in storage.  Take this time to do some research on local storage companies.  That way, when the time does come to move out your bigger, bulkier furniture, you’ll already know who has the best deal.

3. Make Minor Repairs

6B70C91911You don’t need a professional to tell you that the doorknob you have to jiggle just so isn’t a selling point.  Make sure finishes are functional and don’t look dated.  Go through each room and replace anything that is staying with the house that wobbles or flickers.  Wood floors should probably be refinished and unless carpet is spotless, it should be replaced.  While you can offer a credit to the buyer to make your home more enticing, it’s a lot easier for someone to fall in love with the plush feel below their feet.

If your roof needs replacing, bite the bullet and just do it. The second you hire a real estate agent, they’re going to suggest you do it anyway. Roofs in disrepair can turn off a buyer faster than you can blink three times.  No one wants to worry whether the rain is going to leak through during the first big storm.

Landscaping and paint jobs shouldn’t be ignored, either!  My earlier post (which I linked to above, but here it is again) goes into much more detail about updates such as these. In short, buyers generally want something move-in ready.  The closer you are to that, the more buyers will be interested and the more they will be willing to pay.

4. Think About Throwing in Extras

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Sometimes a buyer will walk into a home and fall in love with some of the stuff you have inside.  Of course you’re probably not going to give them your bed, but certain things like appliances can sweeten the deal.  Is there anything that you would be willing to part with?  Maybe there’s a large bookcase in your den that was custom built to fit that wall.  There’s a good chance that you won’t want to bring that with you either because it’s too large and cumbersome, or because it’s a weird size that only works for that room in particular.  I was in a house recently that had a large freestanding island in the kitchen.  The seller planned to leave it behind because even though it wasn’t fixed to the house, it was so heavy that taking it along was impractical.  It fit really well with the general aesthetic of the house (very modern) and added a lot of counter space that otherwise would have been lacking in the home.

*On a quick side note, if you plan on leaving any furniture or appliances when you do move out, make sure the movers know not to take those things!  If those items are promised in the purchase agreement and aren’t there when the new owners show up, you’ll be in trouble!*

5. Find a Real Estate Agent You Trust

96E1A8F1CBYou’ve done your homework, made sure your house looks great, and now you’re really ready to sell!  Make sure you’re hiring an agent that you trust and that you’ll know can get the job done for you.  Interview different agents to find out who’s services fit best with your needs, and most importantly, find someone you like!  You’ll have to work closely with this person for a while so if they have a personality that clashes with yours, it could be an early red flag.  If you choose a Realtor®, know that we must abide by a strict code of ethics that are not required by other agents.

Now, the only thing left to do is list your house!

Posted on November 2, 2015 at 11:16 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , , ,

Looking to Sell? Updates You Can't Afford to Skip.

There’s a reason good house flippers are so successful.  Sure, you might get some people who are willing to put in some sweat equity, but on the whole, buyers overwhelmingly want move-in ready homes.  Even something as simple as burned out light bulbs can be a deterrent to potential buyers.  That’s why your Real Estate agent generally will suggest improvements that can get you top dollar.  At the end of the day, your home is probably your biggest investment.  Don’t you want the best return possible?

Updating your home to sell doesn’t mean you have to drop $30,000 on a brand new kitchen.  If your house is pretty well maintained, some simple changes can be made to get a dramatic new look.  Here are 3 improvements you can make to max your ROI without breaking the bank:

  1. A Modest Bathroom
bathroom

Courtesy of mohomy.com

Time and time again, it’s been said that the best update to sell is a modest bathroom remodel.  Take a look at the bathroom(s) in your house.  Did you step into another decade?  Time for a face lift.  A fresh coat of paint can do wonders.  Choose a light color to open up a small space.  Remember at this point, you’re not designing for your aesthetic; you’ve already decided to sell.  Think light blues or grays–neutral colors that won’t scare potential buyers.  Same goes for the tile.  Subway tile is all the rage right now: it’s clean and modern, and variations can be found that fit within your budget.

A new vanity can breathe life into an old bathroom.  A full one including the top can be found at any home improvement store starting around $100.  To go along with your beautiful new vanity, make sure you’ve replaced the hardware (faucet, knobs, cabinet pulls, towel racks) with modern finishes.  Light fixtures should round out the new look.

If your tub and toilet are in good shape, a thorough cleaning should suffice.  If your tub’s got some stains that won’t come out but you don’t want to spring for a new one, there are options to do a refinishing on your tub to bring back that porcelain shine.  A quick Google search will give you professional and DIY options.

2.  Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression” and that goes double for your home.  Your front yard is the first thing any buyer will see, so you don’t want to turn anyone off by having a less than stellar yard.  A warm, friendly entryway will bring people in and make them feel at home before they step through the front door.  Don’t have the money to hire a landscaper?  No problem.  First do a search for some inspiration.  When you think you’ve got an idea of what you want to do, hit up your local home and garden store to find some bright flowers and shrubs to give your walkway some pop.  Talk to the employees there.  They should be able to tell you which plants will give you the most bang for your buck.  Try to choose plants that don’t need a whole lot of maintenance–you’ll thank yourself in the weeks before the move, and buyers will appreciate not needing to hire a gardener.  Call up some friends and for the price of some lunch and maybe a couple bottles of wine or six-packs, you’ve got a planting party.

How’s the exterior paint?  If you’ve repainted recently (within the last 5 years or so) and it’s still in pretty good shape, you could probably get away without a full repaint.  You should still have either the paint color or some cans left over from the last time you painted.  Take that paint and go around the exterior, touching up any spots that have chipped over time.  Updating the trim can give you the same fresh look of new paint at a fraction of the cost.  Finally, take a look at the front door.  Is it giving off a warm, inviting vibe, or is it a barrier to the inside of your home?  Think of painting it a bold primary color to pull focus to the front of your home.

3. De-cluttering and Freshening Up the Interior

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

Hands down the most cost-effective way to improve the look of your home is to go through and de-clutter the space.  It’s totally free and can make a huge difference.  Take any family-specific items like photos or toys and make sure they are stored away.  It will be easier for buyers to picture themselves in the house if they’re not distracted by your family portrait.  If you’ve got bulky, ill-fitting furniture, think about storing it.  Simplicity is king when it comes to attracting buyers.  A lot of sellers don’t want to pay for staging, but the benefits can definitely outweigh the costs.  There are staging options for every budget; it’s up to you to do the research to find a company that works for you.  Staging can offer up to a 5% increase on the value of a home which would more than pay for the cost.

Painting walls warm, neutral colors is a great, cost-effective way to increase value.  Your child may love their bright orange bedroom, but it can be distracting to buyers.  Again, paint is inexpensive and can totally transform a space.  If your floors are in good shape, all you need is a deep clean.  Make sure wood floors are freshly cleaned and waxed.  Spring for a professional carpet cleaner, especially in high-traffic areas like living rooms.  Get tile grout deep cleaned.  It may be time-consuming, but clean grout can make old tile look new again.

With just a few updates, your home can sell quickly and get the outcome you desire.  Just remember to look at your home through the eyes of a buyer–don’t expect them to overlook things you wouldn’t.  Happy selling!

Posted on October 16, 2015 at 10:09 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , ,

Looking to Sell? Updates You Can’t Afford to Skip.

There’s a reason good house flippers are so successful.  Sure, you might get some people who are willing to put in some sweat equity, but on the whole, buyers overwhelmingly want move-in ready homes.  Even something as simple as burned out light bulbs can be a deterrent to potential buyers.  That’s why your Real Estate agent generally will suggest improvements that can get you top dollar.  At the end of the day, your home is probably your biggest investment.  Don’t you want the best return possible?

Updating your home to sell doesn’t mean you have to drop $30,000 on a brand new kitchen.  If your house is pretty well maintained, some simple changes can be made to get a dramatic new look.  Here are 3 improvements you can make to max your ROI without breaking the bank:

  1. A Modest Bathroom
bathroom

Courtesy of mohomy.com

Time and time again, it’s been said that the best update to sell is a modest bathroom remodel.  Take a look at the bathroom(s) in your house.  Did you step into another decade?  Time for a face lift.  A fresh coat of paint can do wonders.  Choose a light color to open up a small space.  Remember at this point, you’re not designing for your aesthetic; you’ve already decided to sell.  Think light blues or grays–neutral colors that won’t scare potential buyers.  Same goes for the tile.  Subway tile is all the rage right now: it’s clean and modern, and variations can be found that fit within your budget.

A new vanity can breathe life into an old bathroom.  A full one including the top can be found at any home improvement store starting around $100.  To go along with your beautiful new vanity, make sure you’ve replaced the hardware (faucet, knobs, cabinet pulls, towel racks) with modern finishes.  Light fixtures should round out the new look.

If your tub and toilet are in good shape, a thorough cleaning should suffice.  If your tub’s got some stains that won’t come out but you don’t want to spring for a new one, there are options to do a refinishing on your tub to bring back that porcelain shine.  A quick Google search will give you professional and DIY options.

2.  Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression” and that goes double for your home.  Your front yard is the first thing any buyer will see, so you don’t want to turn anyone off by having a less than stellar yard.  A warm, friendly entryway will bring people in and make them feel at home before they step through the front door.  Don’t have the money to hire a landscaper?  No problem.  First do a search for some inspiration.  When you think you’ve got an idea of what you want to do, hit up your local home and garden store to find some bright flowers and shrubs to give your walkway some pop.  Talk to the employees there.  They should be able to tell you which plants will give you the most bang for your buck.  Try to choose plants that don’t need a whole lot of maintenance–you’ll thank yourself in the weeks before the move, and buyers will appreciate not needing to hire a gardener.  Call up some friends and for the price of some lunch and maybe a couple bottles of wine or six-packs, you’ve got a planting party.

How’s the exterior paint?  If you’ve repainted recently (within the last 5 years or so) and it’s still in pretty good shape, you could probably get away without a full repaint.  You should still have either the paint color or some cans left over from the last time you painted.  Take that paint and go around the exterior, touching up any spots that have chipped over time.  Updating the trim can give you the same fresh look of new paint at a fraction of the cost.  Finally, take a look at the front door.  Is it giving off a warm, inviting vibe, or is it a barrier to the inside of your home?  Think of painting it a bold primary color to pull focus to the front of your home.

3. De-cluttering and Freshening Up the Interior

Courtesy of StockSnap

Courtesy of StockSnap

Hands down the most cost-effective way to improve the look of your home is to go through and de-clutter the space.  It’s totally free and can make a huge difference.  Take any family-specific items like photos or toys and make sure they are stored away.  It will be easier for buyers to picture themselves in the house if they’re not distracted by your family portrait.  If you’ve got bulky, ill-fitting furniture, think about storing it.  Simplicity is king when it comes to attracting buyers.  A lot of sellers don’t want to pay for staging, but the benefits can definitely outweigh the costs.  There are staging options for every budget; it’s up to you to do the research to find a company that works for you.  Staging can offer up to a 5% increase on the value of a home which would more than pay for the cost.

Painting walls warm, neutral colors is a great, cost-effective way to increase value.  Your child may love their bright orange bedroom, but it can be distracting to buyers.  Again, paint is inexpensive and can totally transform a space.  If your floors are in good shape, all you need is a deep clean.  Make sure wood floors are freshly cleaned and waxed.  Spring for a professional carpet cleaner, especially in high-traffic areas like living rooms.  Get tile grout deep cleaned.  It may be time-consuming, but clean grout can make old tile look new again.

With just a few updates, your home can sell quickly and get the outcome you desire.  Just remember to look at your home through the eyes of a buyer–don’t expect them to overlook things you wouldn’t.  Happy selling!

Posted on October 16, 2015 at 10:09 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , ,