Misguided house makeover

house makeover
House Makeover (Infographic by Allianz Australia Home Insurance allianz.com.au)

Do you really need to spend money to make money?  Deciding what renovations and updates to make prior to your home sale can be tormenting.  It’s easy enough to say that your home needs a facelift; but, the repairs, updates, and painting costs money – and usually lots of it.  The suggestion of making renovations and updates to your home before you sell is everywhere, it’s on TV, the internet, and magazines.  And if you ask friends and real estate agents, they will also give you a list of “must do’s.”  Regardless of how you decide to do a house makeover before the sale, chances are that you’re not doing it right.

There is no doubt that many home buyers are looking for a turn-key home.  If your home is not “out of the box brand new,” you probably need to freshen it up, as well as make some repairs and updates.  But before you embark on the house makeover by making those renovations, you need to ask yourself two important questions: “How much money can I realistically allot for a makeover?” and “How much am I expecting to net from my home sale?

Does a house makeover really get you top dollar? Spending money on renovations will certainly make the home sell faster, but not necessarily make you more money.  And there is no guarantee that the house makeover renovations you make are to home buyers’ tastes.  So if you’re goal is to get top dollar, don’t look at the sale price.  Instead keep your eye on your estimated net (the amount you’re left with after the sale minus total renovation costs).

Of course, the best way to maintain your home’s value is to perform regular maintenance.  It would certainly make the home prep easier too!  But the reality is that many home owners defer maintenance until they feel it’s absolutely necessary.  Deferring maintenance can actually cost more in repairs down the line, and lower your home sale price.  Spending money to correct all the years of neglected repairs and updates prior to the home sale won’t necessarily get you top dollar.

Not all buyers are looking for renovated homes.  One of Stephen B. Billings conclusions in his recent research (Hedonic Amenity Valuation and Housing Renovations; Real Estate Economics; Fall 2015, 43:652-82) was that during the past “healthy” housing market, there was a balance between renovated and non-renovated homes that sold.  However, he also found there was an increase in renovated home sales during the housing downturn of 2007.

Selling your home “as-is” would certainly decrease your sale price, but could net you the same or even more if weighed against extensive renovations of the house makeover.  Consider that you would only recoup a fraction of the cost of a minor kitchen and bathroom remodel; which averages about $20,122 and $17,908 respectively (according to 2016 Cost vs Value Report; remodeling.hw.net).

Concentrate on the basics of decluttering first. Decluttering can make your home look different and feel larger.  Decluttering can set the stage for fo you decide on renovations, and maybe even home staging.

If you decide on freshening up your home before the sale, start with the basics.  Focus on deferred maintenance, and make necessary repairs.  Consider a fresh coat of paint, and maybe new carpets.  Wood floors don’t necessarily have to be replaced or sanded; flooring professionals use state of the art processes to “renew” wood floors.

If you decide on a house makeover, focus first on making repairs and freshening your home. Work out a budget and get several quotes from licensed contractors.  Don’t automatically go for the cheapest quote, even if you’re on a tight budget.  Focus on quality, even if it means limiting the scope of work.  Poor workmanship can sabotage your home sale by making your home look shabby and in need of additional repairs and updates.

Copyright © Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Decluttering for a home sale and mental health

declutter
From prettyorganized.com

Spring is around the corner, and for many it is the time to get a home ready for sale. Decluttering is a key component of preparing a home sale; while it is the core of “spring cleaning” for the rest of us.

Besides being the beginning of the path to selling your home, researcher and writer Deane Alban stated that decluttering is also the “gateway to taking better care of other aspects of life.” She asserted that the human brain is “wired to respond positively to order;” and there are health benefits to clutter-free spaces; which promotes feeling “calm and energized” (Declutter Your Life for Less Stress, Better Mental Health; bebrainfit.com).

When it comes to clutter, we are not the same. There are degrees to the amount and types of clutter we collect. And for many, getting motivated to declutter is a challenge; severe clutter collections could be considered hoarding by some. Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist specializing in behavior modification, wrote about his professional contemplation of the relationship between clutter, hoarding and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. After consulting with a Professional Organizer, he concluded that many can benefit from their much needed service of guidance in “letting go” and getting organized (Decluttering — Is it Therapy?; Organization professionals perform a valuable and, yes, therapeutic service; psychologytoday.com; November 5, 2010.).

declutter
From sparefoot.com

Besides the psychological aspects that make us hold-on to “stuff,” one roadblock to decluttering is a common misconception that the goal is to have an immaculate home; which can make some feel anxious and/or overwhelmed (especially if the home sale is due to a negative life event). Instead, an underlying principle to decluttering is about creating an organized and spacious feel to a room. Another misconception is that you throw out everything you don’t need or want in your home; however, you have control over what items get thrown out, recycled, donated, or kept in storage.

One strategy to encourage your decluttering efforts is to plan. Rather than trying to complete the job in one weekend, try decluttering one room (or even one part of a room) per day; and for some, it may be as little as removing one or two items per day.

When going through each room, decide which items are necessities and which items need to go. You will undoubtedly come across many items that you decide are not necessary to keep out for everyone to see, yet they are personal or sentimental – these items can be stored. The items you decide that you no longer need or want can be donated, disposed of, or you might even decide to have a yard sale!

Of course, we are all busy; and finding time to declutter can be another obstacle to overcome. To help relieve the pressure, consider delegating responsibilities to family members. Consulting with professionals to guide your planning could save time as well. Some professionals even recommend a “decluttering party” as a way to ease the time crunch while making it fun.

Decluttering a home may feel as if it an exhausting task, but it doesn’t have to be; especially if you have a realistic plan. If you need help with your decluttering, you can check with your Realtor® (if you are planning a home sale) and/or you can consult with a Professional Organizer. The National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net) maintains a national directory of Professional Organizers.

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Home staging for a home sale

by Dan Krell © 2013
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stage your home to sell itAs the real estate market is emerging and more homes are listed for sale, staging a home is once again becoming a popular topic of conversation. Home staging is often thought of as a fancy name for decorating or cleaning a home prior to it being sold.  In fact, “home staging” is a term that is used to describe the process of preparing your home for sale that goes beyond normal maintenance.  The purpose of “staging” is to make your home as appealing as possible to potential home buyers so your home can sell quickly.  Surveys conducted by the Accredited Staging Professionals a (StagedHomes.com) and Homegain (Homegain.com) indicate that staged homes sell faster than non-staged homes.

Although home staging has been around for over thirty years, it only gained wide acceptance this last decade. Many home staging techniques are derived from interior design; home stagers often sketch rooms to analyze the best use of space.

Staging your home’s exterior is just as important as staging the interior because a home buyer’s mood is set by their first impressions. You should consider the condition of your home’s landscape, façade, roof and gutters. Unkempt flower beds and cracked walkways can quickly give the impression that the home is in disarray. Additionally, missing shingles and misaligned gutters give the impression that the home has been poorly maintained.

The basics of home staging include de-cluttering, rearranging, and sometimes redecorating. Home sellers often have tunnel vision about their homes. Removing the clutter of your daily life from your home is the cornerstone to home staging. De-cluttering goes beyond cleaning and storing unused items. Because home buyers can get distracted by the home seller’s lifestyle when viewing a home, home stagers talk about “depersonalizing” a home.

You may have spent years making your home personal to your lifestyle, however now that you are selling it you need to depersonalize it. Depersonalization means to neutralize your home by removing as much of your lifestyle as possible from the home so anyone can feel as if this could be their home. Personal items, such as family photos, can focus the home buyer’s attention on your lifestyle and away from the home.

Additionally, the layout of each room needs to be considered so it feels bright and roomy. Properly placed furniture can assist home buyers to feel at ease and “at home.” Too much furniture in any room tends to make a large room look small and feel cramped. Additionally, misplaced furniture can make a room feel awkward and unsettling.

Let’s face it, sometimes a room needs a makeover. However, redecorating does not have to be an expensive affair. Sometimes having an extra lamp or even painting a wall can make the difference between shabby and chic. If your furniture is out of date or in poor condition, inexpensive furniture rentals can be a short term solution.

If your home vacant, staging each room tastefully can possibly facilitate a sale. An Appraisal Institute study indicated that a decorated home sells faster than an empty home.

Although many real estate agents have been certified in home staging, professional home stagers usually have a background in interior design. The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP.com) is a source of information about home staging, including tips on staging your home as well as finding a home staging professional.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of July 1, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Planning to de-clutter

by Dan Krell
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De-cluttering your home is not just reserved for a home sale. It’s also a bit more than just a thorough cleaning and putting away items that are not in use. You may already be overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning, but remember that if you prepare a realistic plan and stick to it, you will be finished before you know it.

When going through each room, decide which items are necessities and which items need to go. There are many items that you may decide are not necessary to keep, yet they are personal or sentimental. Professional home stagers talk about the idea of “depersonalization” when discussing de-cluttering. This means that the home should be “neutralized” so, rather than view your life and personalization, home buyers can have a vision of the home as their own. Keeping depersonalization in mind, decide which items need to go.

Remember that de-cluttering doesn’t necessarily mean that you dispose of everything you don’t need or want in your home. Many of your personal and sentimental items you wish to keep can be stored temporarily or for long periods of time. You can rent storage units of various sizes on a monthly basis, or you may decide to have a portable storage container delivered to your home. The portable storage container is a practical solution if many of the items that you’re pulling from your home will be used in your new home. Additionally, if you’re move is not immediate, the portable storage container can be transported by the company to storage until you’re ready to unload the container in your new home.

The items you decide that you no longer need or want can be donated, disposed of, or you might even decide to have a yard sale! If you have many items that need to be removed from your home, consider donating the items to a charity before throwing it all away. Since many charities vary on what is acceptable for donation, it’s a good idea to check with them before scheduling a pick up or dropping items off to their collection site.

Be careful when throwing items away; you may need to take precautions or make separate disposal plans for certain materials. Some items that cannot be picked up by the regular trash collection can be scheduled for pick up by the county or local municipality; or can be hauled to the local processing facility. If you’re unsure how to dispose of certain items, you can check with the Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services for facility hours and disposal/recycle procedures.

If you don’t have the time to haul your unwanted items on your own, you may decide to hire a hauling company. Charges to haul items away can vary depending on the company, as well as how they dispose of the items. Some haulers may drop everything to a county processing center, while some may sort your items either for donation or sale.

De-cluttering is the keystone to your home’s presentation. De-cluttering a home may sound laborious, but it doesn’t have to be if you have a realistic plan. If you’re unsure how to begin de-cluttering your home, you can check with your Realtor® or you can hire a Professional Organizer. The National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net) maintains a national directory of Professional Organizers.

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Comments are welcome. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of May 16, 2011. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2011 Dan Krell.

 

Summer-ize your home to attract buyers

Summer-ize your home to attract buyers

by Dan Krell © 2009.

www.DanKrell.com

You might think that the weather is warming up more than the real estate market, but lo-and-behold the spring market is experiencing increased activity! If you’re planning to put your home on the market, or if it is already listed for sale, you probably know that preparing your home to sell means de-cluttering and fixing those little items you’ve been putting off for some time. No matter how much preparation you do, don’t forget to summerize to make your home more appealing to home buyers.

Summerizing your home means paying attention to the items that are noticeable during the warmer months of the year; such as the curb appeal and the interior comfort. There is nothing worse than making excuses during your open house about the unkempt lawn or a broken air conditioning unit. Neglecting these items can be a deterrent to buyers or (worse yet) even make your home appear to buyers as if you are selling a distressed property.

There’s more to curb appeal than just keeping your lawn mowed! Basic curb appeal considerations include the home’s landscaping, grading, siding, deck, driveway and sidewalks.

Simple landscaping can make your lawn appear well manicured; but imagine what a professionally landscaped yard can do! Trees properly trimmed away from the home will allow your home to be seen from the street as well as not be “crowded” by overhanging limbs. Neatly trimmed and properly placed shrubs and flower beds will not only look beautiful, it will enhance your home’s façade!

Heavy summer storms can wreak havoc on poorly graded yards, which can allow water to seep into your basement. Ensure that the grading around your home diverts water away from the foundation.

Clean and properly painted siding (including facia boards and window trim) is often overlooked by home owners. If the entire exterior does not need painting, look for the areas that appear to be peeling or bare. Facia boards and window trim are often made of untreated wood and typically need more attention (even if your siding is made of artificial materials). If your home has algae or mold growing on the siding, consider having the siding power washed; power washing can not only clean the siding, but may return the new home “glow.”

Don’t let a faded or splintered deck turn away home buyers; consider adding it your power wash list. Power washing your deck and patio can give them a fresh look. You might consider staining or sealing your deck and patio to give the new home owner the possibility of a few years of care free use.

Cracked sidewalks and driveway are not only unsightly, they can also be a trip hazard. Repairing and/or sealing the walkways and driveway can not only increase safety – it can add to the appearance of your home. A newly sealed asphalt driveway can add contrast to accent the exterior of your home.

Let’s face it, air conditioning that does not keep your home cool is a buyer deterrent- especially in the hot summer months. If you don’t service your air conditioning system on a regular basis, you should consider doing so before listing your home.

Summerizing your home will not only attract home buyers, it shows pride of ownership providing incentive for home buyers bring you an offer.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of April 27, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell