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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The magic of 4 to sell a home

Preparing Home for SaleFor a successful home sale, you need to focus on four areas…

Spring is rapidly approaching – are you one of the many home owners listing your home for sale this year?  Sure, last year may have seemed like a breakthrough, but the still recovering housing market is just as quirky as The Doctor’s TARDIS.  And unless you consider condition, preparation, pricing, and marketing; your home sale could fall flat.

A home’s condition can affect a home’s sale price (sometimes significantly), and is often overlooked by home sellers and listing agents.  It is not uncommon for owners to put off home maintenance, especially after the financial crisis of 2008; housing experts estimate that home improvement spending decreased about 28% between 2007 and 2011. Deferred maintenance can deter some home buyers, while motivating others to make a low offer.  You can get an idea of potential cosmetic, mechanical, and structural issues by having a pre-listing home inspection.

Whether or not you choose to address deferred maintenance and repairs prior to listing, preparation is required to get ready for home buyer viewings.  One of the most important things to do to prepare your home is to declutter.  Decluttering is often overwhelming because sellers expect to make the home immaculate; but really, the purpose to decluttering is to give rooms a neat and spacious feel.  Decluttering will make you decide which items to keep, what to throw out, give away, or put in storage.

Home staging is a way to create a “vision” for home buyers.  Home staging can get pricey if you hire a staging professional and rent furniture.  But it doesn’t have to be expensive; “do it yourself stagers” can often transform a home with little or no money.  If your home is vacant, inexpensive rentals can be used as room “place holders,” to help convey a room’s size and use to buyers.

Pricing your home correctly can mean the difference between a successful sale and languishing on the market.  A common mistake that occurs in a recovering market is the eagerness to price high; but buyer push back can be an abrupt awakening to the realities of the housing market – making you wonder why your home is not selling.  Be careful of the listing agent who intentionally over-prices your home, this is an old technique to persuade you to sign a listing agreement; the flip side is listing with an agent who intentionally prices the home too low, promising a “quick” sale (which only makes the sale easy for the agent).

Marketing a home sale has changed significantly in the last five years.  Gone are the days of “set it and forget it.”  Creative agents are constantly seeking avenues to publicize and promote listings.  A sales strategy can determine the correct positioning for the home; while implantation of a marketing plan can include new and imaginative methods, such as placement in specialty magazines and websites, video, and even open house “parties.”

Many don’t realize that the internet is where a majority of home buyers now congregate, viewing your MLS listing across hundreds of websites.  To bolster online appeal, make certain your agent uses professional pictures, inspired home descriptions, and complete MLS information.  Be wary of new marketing technology, which often has mixed results; for example: “virtual staging” is a technology than can enhance online appeal by electronically staging a home, but can flop when buyers expect to see what is pictured.

by 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. This article was originally published the week of February 10, 2014 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © Dan Krell.

Challenges of selling a home during the summer

by Dan Krell © 2013
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summer home saleIf you were selling your home several years ago, you might have been thinking of ideas how to attract home buyers to your home. Even though the feeling today is such that you don’t have to do much to sell your home, some home sellers are shocked to find out that there is more to selling today than just putting a sign up in the yard – and summertime selling poses additional challenges.

First, get the price right. As I wrote earlier this year, pricing a home is extremely important even when there appears to be a positive selling cycle. Even though you decide on the list price, you have to be realistic about your home’s value; your real estate agent can assist you in deciding on a list price by preparing a market analysis with recent (within the last six months) neighborhood homes that are comparable to yours.

Next, remember that de-cluttering is the foundation to your home’s presentation. Whether you are a pack rat or a neat freak, chances are that your home could use some de-cluttering. De-cluttering shouldn’t be thought of as getting rid of everything you don’t need in the home, but instead could be thought of as a way to neutralize and free up space to allow home buyers to imagine how they could live in the home.

Another factor to consider during a summer home sale is your home’s curb appeal. The basics of curb appeal include attending to the home’s landscaping and grading, siding, deck, driveway and sidewalks.

We tend to get lazy about tending to the yard during the hot and humid summer months; however, if you’re planning a summer sale, it is not the time to let the lawn and weeds overgrow. Simple landscaping can make your lawn appear manicured. 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. Also, check that the grading around your home diverts storm water away from the foundation. Hiring a professional landscaping company to tend to your yard is the way to go if the heat and/or activity pose a health hazard.

Take a close look at the exterior of the home. If the exterior does not need painting, look for areas that may be peeling or bare. Decks, fascia boards and window trim are often made of wood and typically need more attention (even if your siding is made of brick or artificial materials). Consider having the deck and siding power washed to remove dirt, algae or mold. Additionally, resealing the deck and other exterior wood trim enhances the home’s curb appeal.

Sidewalks and driveways are often given the short shrift. 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 improve the appearance of your home.

Finally, how cool is your home? An air conditioning system that does not keep your home cool is a buyer deterrent – especially in the hot summer months. If you don’t have the air conditioning system serviced on a regular basis, you should consider doing so before listing your home this summer.

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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 August 12, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

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.