Musings from a life of chances and changes
You're about to sell your home. You look around the house and see that you need to remodel or replace items in various rooms. You do your research and find the updates that will bring you the most return on your investment. But before you spend your budget on the interior, take a deep breath and go outside. The most important thing you need to take care of is your home's curb appeal. Try to see the exterior of the home through the eyes of a buyer. Without curb appeal, buyers tend to walk away. The first impression is critical. Here are some improvements that will entice buyers to leave the curb and walk inside.
1. Roofing. Buyers notice if your roof needs repair. They are already adding up the expense to repair or replace it. You may just need to do a simple cleaning, or the roof may require something more extensive. If you are going to replace the roof, look at the architectural details of your home. Savvy buyers know that a Mediterranean tile roof looks odd on a prairie style home. Likewise, the least expensive flat shingled roof does nothing to enhance the beauty of your home, but it is easier on the budget. Think about the fact that you are trying to maximize your ability to sell. Buyers are not looking to see "personality" up there. It's more important to appeal to the masses than to take risks. So, if you decide to install a red roof, buyers may prefer an overnight motel stay than an investment property.
2. Cleaning. It seems like a no-brainer but most of us come in and out of our homes without looking at them critically. One of the least expensive ways to achieve curb appeal is to use a pressure washer on the walkways, garage, oil stains on the driveway and other dirty surfaces. Windows should sparkle and have no visible spider webs. Also, make sure the yard is free of the remnants of dog waste. Nothing kills curb appeal more than a buyer stepping on dog poop.
3. Painting. The best use of your exterior budget is to paint where needed. If you do a visual check around your house, you will notice areas that may need to be repaired. Taking my own advice, I looked at the wood trim on my stone house. I noticed an area that a woodpecker attacked and called the painter. Resist the urge to renovate the entire exterior. It isn't necessary and it will definitely bust your budget. It is best to take a chip from your existing paint and match it. As for selecting your exterior paint color, do not go wild. It is better to blend in with your neighborhood. Appraisers have been known to decrease the value of a home with a wild paint color.
4. Landscaping. I have to admit that I am a sucker for beautiful landscaping. Keep the grass in top shape or repair some of the rough spots. Trim bushes and trees that hide your home. Even landscaping can be outdated and tired looking. Open up the look of your house and manicure or replace the old overgrown evergreens. Using simple dark mulch around the shrubs is a quick refresh to spruce up the yard. As with everything else it is smart not to overdo. Too many potted planters look busy and colors should be neutral. Limit the display of lawn ornaments to only those that enhance the look of your home. Now is not the time to show your "personality."
5. Hardscaping. Some of the most attractive features that sell homes are its hardscapes. All sidewalks, driveways, patios, and decks, need to be in good repair. If you do not have a deck or patio, rest assured you will get an incredible return on your investment by building a good one. The National Association of Realtors found that a patio recoups 102% of its cost and a deck recoups 106%. You will also benefit from outdoor living and entertaining spaces.
Selling your home is a difficult process. Make it easier by doing ongoing maintenance and upgrades while living in your home. When you follow these tips and are ready to sell, your improvements will translate into excellent curb appeal and the buyers will line up at your front door.
It seems like a simple concept. Make improvements in your house and it will sell. But, as we know, nothing in life is simple. Certain "improvements" are not going to increase the value of your home. You may find them to be more attractive, or better than what was replaced, but the point is to spend money on updates that will help your bottom line. Here are 6 "upgrades" that are not worth the money:
1. Laminate Flooring
Installing laminate flooring is a practical alternative for many homeowners. Obviously, the number one reason is cost. It can be 50 percent less expensive than hardwood installation. Laminate flooring also resist scratches (great for pets,) moisture and general wear and tear. But even though faux wood has come a long way, some buyers can't get past it being artifical. They believe it's not as appealing and will not repair like hardwood. When the price range is at $500,000 or above, it is a safer choice to install hardwood. Buyers in the luxury market want high-end finishes. Your flooring choices impact the value of your home. Solid wood has longevity and it's eco-friendly. Frankly, when nicely maintained, no comparison between these two exists.
2. New Carpeting
Promote your new wall-to-wall carpeting throughout, and your Buyers may quickly disperse. It's expensive to install and does not translate into a higher sales price. The one exception may be in bedrooms. Many buyers like the warmth and feel of carpeting and when it's new, depending on the quality, it will not be a waste. It is a risk...think chemicals and dust mites.
3. Swimming Pools
Yes, it is nice to go to your friend's house where you relax by a magnificent pool. It is quite another thing to upgrade your home to put in a swimming pool. A swimming pool is better left to warm or hot climates, and Chicago is not one of them. Again, at higher price points buyers may admire a beautiful swimming pool in a backyard designed for entertaining. But on average, and particularly in colder weather climates, it is a hassle. One of my neighbors recently filled in their pool and I have seen it in the Evanston area on multiple occasions. Buyers view it is a liability or a lawsuit waiting to happen, not to mention the cost to maintain. If it's not maintained, it's just an eyesore. And, speaking of eyesores, don't even get me started on above-ground pools.
4. Hidden Improvements
Many homeowners have a similar gripe. They put money into upgrades that no one sees. If you tell a buyer that the furnace is new, they will be happy, but show them brand new kitchen appliances and you'll get a greater return on your investment. Most buyers have the expectation that upgrades to the infrastructure of your home are simple necessary maintenance. Let's say you live in an area that loses electricity often. The average cost you will recoup for installation of a midrange generator is about half of the amount you spent, and it's far from sexy.
5. Sunroom Addition
First, I tell you to forget a swimming pool and now I say that a sunroom addition isn't worth your money? I'm not talking about a cheesy sunroom kit, but an insulated 200 square foot addition with a new foundation, new roof, energy efficient windows etc. If the projected cost of this improvement is $75,000, expect to get a return of approximately $36,000. But don't take my word for it. Remodeling Magazine analyzes specific home improvements using a cost to value ratio for regions throughout the US.
You have all seen it. Your neighbors' fabulous house goes on the market and seems to have a for sale sign on the front lawn forever. Chances are...it's too fabulous. Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Yes! If you are in an area where the houses are in a price range and style that has attracted buyers to it for a variety of reasons, don't be the seller that has a home that is beyond the norm for the neighborhood. You may decide to add an improvement to make your house more appealing, but it needs to respect the home's architecture. In Chicago, the historic bungalows have become a treasure. When you go down the street, you will see the architecture repeatedly. If you are the only one that bumped up to add a second story addition, you may be the only one perched high while the buyers drive by.
7. Inconsistent Upgrades
Walking into a house for sale I notice that the hardwood floors are refinished and beautiful. I turn the corner and peek into the powder room to find the pink toilet with a furry cover sitting on top of the brown cracked tile next to a moldy, corroded sink. Not to be dissuaded, I am relieved to see a newer high-end kitchen. Now I know it could be a work in progress type of remodel. Why put the house up for sale without putting in a powder room update? Some sellers balk at the smaller projects, assuming the bigger ticket items will sell the house. If you fall victim to the belief that the larger renovation will carry the rest of the house, you will be disappointed.
In the last analysis, each homeowner knows their budget and their needs. Getting advice from a Realtor before improvements are made can make these decisions easier.
Any questions about upgrading your home? Contact me and I will be glad to help!
To those of you struggling with the decision of leaving the city for the suburbs, I offer my own journey when faced with the same dilemna.
I drove past my "dream" house dozens of times, wishing a FOR SALE sign would magically appear on the front lawn. I believed that if I were able to live in that house, the uncertainty of giving up my city lifestyle would be less disturbing.
Making a decision to move to the suburbs felt challenging. I felt confident in my solid relationship with Chicago. Living in the city for a long time, I was connected. I found my neighborhood niche. The unique shops dotting nearby streets; favorite corner restaurants or bars; best local workout studios; or simply the proximity of parks or the lake. Walking my dog day and night, I felt the magnetic force of the city. The real estate trend to live in the city longer than previous generations made sense. But while walking my dog along with my first child, I began to have more complicated feelings about living in the city. By the time I was walking my dog and two children, I experienced the classic quandary. Should I continue to live in the city with children (ultimately four children), or should I move to the suburbs? Certainly not every city dweller finds this to be an issue. But for me, the time spent enjoying this relationship was nearing its end. I noticed certain irritations that did not bother me before. I needed to re-think my priorities and when I did, the break up was inevitable.
The lengthy search for the dream home was complicated. Although I was knowledgeable about many suburbs. I had to determine where our needs as a family would be met. I was clear about one thing,-there was no way I was going to live where I grew up.
The solution for me was to research. I critiqued the homes in more ways than I can even count. Where was the house located: On a corner? Near to anything undesirable? Walkable to a Starbucks? (Another one of my addictions.) Was the house on a nice lot? Was I giving up my deck in the city for a decent backyard? Was it too close to the street? Was it in a quiet area? Were the houses nearby nicely maintained? Would I need to renovate? How long would the commute be to work? Was there a train easily accessible? You get the picture, and that was only the beginning of questioning everything about the purchase. I will spare you the questions about the home's interior. Even I could not stand to dissect this decision any longer. I was completely stressed out. My intense struggle to find the right house in the right suburb was just getting in the way. I realized that the decision of one suburb versus another suburb, or one house being better than another house was no different than most life decisions. I needed to focus on core values and keeping a balance in my life. My focus to move was about my children and how to best serve their needs. Re-energized with a specific viewpoint, I found my dream house much quicker. There remained one problem...it was not for sale. Of course that didn't stop me from willing it to be available. I never went up to the door or badgered the owners at any time. Amazingly, one random day I drove past the house again and saw it. It was For Sale By Owner. I bought that house before I even walked inside. And of course...it was within a mile of where I grew up.
The leaves are falling and an occasional snowflake has made its appearance. Bracing for the frigid temperatures it would seem counterintuitive that fall is the best time to buy real estate. Long gone is the common wisdom that the fall is "off season." Before you hybernate, I urge you to complete your real estate transaction before January 1. The advantages to buying now is well-deserved. Once you see the benefits to buying your dream home in the fall, you will be convinced to buy now.
How can anyone quarrel with finding a way to save tax dollars? If you buy your home before January 1st, you will be able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes, even with the new tax reforms. Caveat: Deductions are not relevant unless you itemize. Check with your personal tax professional.
Most buyers that want to complete a move-in before the school year begins are not competing with you. This marketplace enables fall buyers to negotiate with sellers who may be worn out by the spring and summer market. Although inventory of homes on the market is lower, there are still many viable options, with less demand. Purchasing now gives you a better chance to avoid a bidding war for your dream home and the slow down in the market gives you an edge.
Sellers with homes left over from the spring and summer are more motivated to sell for less. Typically, you will see major price deductions during the fall as sellers want to move on for their own reasons. Take advantage of the slower pace and make a well-reasoned decision on your home purchase.
Home Improvement Sales
Buying furniture, paint, appliances and other household necessities are more affordable before the end of the year. The gift giving season offers deals on home improvement itemd to make your new home complete will be easier.
While others are waiting for the intense spring real estate market to find their new home, you can find a sweet deal without the same competitive hassels. Buying your home now seems like the best holiday gift ever!s as retailers entice shoppers with sales during the holidays. Finding the items you nee
So, you're ready to put your house up for sale? When you are fully committed to the process, these are the top 5 tricks and treats to sell your home without going batty.
1. DON'T LOOK THROUGH ROSE COLORED GLASSES.
Look at every aspect of your home with an objective eye. If you can't get past the emotional aspect of selling your home, you are destined to sabatoge the process. It's a common conflict when selling, Most importantly, you need to present the property in its best condition. Obvious issues should be fixed before your house goes on the market. One trick is to hire an inspector to go through the home so that you know the issues beforehand. Taking the trick to the next level, get estimates on the cost to repair or replace these items on the inspector's report. You will then be able to negotiate more clearly and quickly. One drawback to this approach is that you now know the defects that may be hidden, and you cannot claim you did not know they exist.
2. CLEAN OUT THE COBWEBS.
Suffice it to say that your house needs to be clean. But, the trick is to go beyond vacuuming and dusting. Darkness does not sell homes. Lightbulbs should not be burnt out. Clutter is not just a stack of old magazines, mail overloading a kitchen counter, bottles waiting to be refrigerated, or toys that have no place but the floor. Consider that clutter may be your favorite collection of nik-naks. Many of your personal treasures are better off not displayed. Closets should be neat and not filled to the max. You may need to put items in storage or have a garage sale, just understand that "less is more." Even more specifically, remove the towels hanging from the hooks after your morning shower or on your bathroom counters. Laundry needs to be out of sight. If you are lucky enough to have wood flooring, which typically buyers prefer over carpeting, no dust bunnies should live under any piece of furniture. In fact, no bunnies should live in your house at all; sorry bunny lovers. Any smell from any animal is a turn-off, not to mention possible allergies, and the house will be viewed as unclean by many. I remember a specific house in the 60203 area which was up for sale for quite a long time. Everyone that stepped inside the empty house to see why it didn't sell was immediately repulsed by the smell of cats. It became known as the "cat house." The house sold eventually for a lower price than similar homes in the area, and it was torn down.
3. YOU CAN'T SELL A DREAM TO SOMEONE WHO THINKS THEY'VE WALKED INTO A NIGHTMARE.
Do not put your house on the market if it's scary in any way. Now my idea and your idea of scary may be totally different things. I may unnerved walking into a room with the "cool" collection of fright masks which stand out because they're plastered onto a black wall. Picture a basement with obvious signs of asbestos, water damage, broken floor tiles and cardboard used to repair cracked windows. Clearly broken items will either need to be fixed or a credit should be given on the sales price. But if things are not broken, and you just need to make your house less scary, one of the best tricks to is to paint. Yes, it is a cheap way to get rid of scary. But be careful. Painting is also in the eye of the beholder. So paint in neutral shades that don't show your personality.
4. BE BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE AND IN.
If you understand the importance of curb appeal, your house has an edge over the competition. The trick again is to de-clutter, repair, replace. An easy trick is to take a picture of your house from different perspectives and see it as a potential buyer would see it. Does it need to be painted? Is the siding warped? Is the outdoor lighting ancient or not in keeping with the style of the house? How many times have you seen an "Arts and Crafts" or "Prarie" style light fixture on a colonial or modern home? The answer is too many times! Can you read your home's address easily and is it neat and clean signage or falling off rotten wood? Is the roof missing shingles? Are there signs that the house needs to be tuckpointed or has cracks? Is the lawn yellow or weedy? When was the last time the bushes or trees were trimmed? One of the easiest fixes is to get rid of old scraggly bushes which were trendy 50 years ago. Sometimes these old bushes get completely out of control and hide the beauty of your home. Old landscaping also dates your house and can be a hiding place for unwanted wildlife, (think skunks.) Landscaping only needs to be minimal, not overwhelming. A neutral colored mulch, (someone needs to ban red mulch) and some easily maintained plants are sufficient. Also, make sure that the planting accents and does not detract from the house. Flowers should not be dead - seems obvious. Don't miss an opportunity to make your deck or patio look ready for relaxing. This provides valuable extra space. Consider another bang for your buck and an easy trick to make the exterior better looking...power wash.
5. TREATS AREN'T JUST FOR KIDS.
Once you have your house in shape to sell, make sure you work on those extra treats that make your house special. Baking something and being the house with the home baked cookies will set the tone for your property. Fresh flowers are a treat both in sight and smell. Setting the stage if there's a Sunday football game may be a subliminal but worthwhile treat. Set out a tray with popcorn and snacks and make sure the TV is set to the best game. Treats can be the smallest thing but reap the biggest rewards.
Beware of the traps of thinking you only need a sign on your lawn to sell your house. A real estate professional will give you an objective opinion based upon the marketplace as to the asking price, advertising strategies, social media exposure, and the stamina to negotiate your best result. Don't be tricked by the notion that your house is going to appeal to everyone, because that's not reality. Don't be tricked by the idea that the value of all of your improvements will be returned, or increase the sales price of your home. In the end, the current market will dictate the sales price of your home. Contact me to successfuly sell your home for the best possible price. Then you will be ready for the treats on your next journey.
It's no secret that we all deal with emotional decisions in our lifetime. Some decisions are easy, and some pull at our heart strings. Selling our homes is often a gut-wrenching decision. The attachment we have to our homes is enormous. When faced with selling your home the most difficult loss may not be its aesthetics.
I'm about to take my own advice and downsize from the house where I've lived for the last twenty-five years. Faced with this major transition, I'm thinking about my children digging for worms in the yard, putting them in a plastic sand pail, and bringing them into the house to show me their fine work. I'm thinking about sitting on the driveway surrounded by their brightly colored chalk paintings; planting a vegetable garden on the South side of the house; picking apples from the backyard trees; kicking, throwing, batting and chasing balls all around the yard; setting up elaborate snow forts in the wintertime; making thousands of chocolate chip cookies while the kids sit on top of the kitchen island; and enjoying many meals with our close-knit community. My experiences are not unique but illustrate the difficulties of letting go of what is arguably one of our most valuable investments.
So when you make the decision to sell your home, how do you maximize its potential and avoid sabotaging the outcome?
1. Don't let your emotions dictate the price. Yes, it's generally a seller's market, with low inventory and high demand, but overpricing is a recipe for a market backlash. Let your realtor present you with a market analysis and trust the statistics.
2. Don't ignore the market clues. Are potential buyers critical about the price based on the square footage, the style of the house, the location of the house? The market dictates a realistic price, and honestly, buyers don't care about your emotional connection with the house.
3. Don't refuse to make a price adjustment. When the listing continues without a reasonable offer, it makes no sense to be overconfident. A "stale" listing can get a bad rap. Buyers begin to believe that something must be wrong with the house if it hasn't sold. Others may just present low ball offers with the assumption that the sellers must be getting desperate to sell.
4. Don't disregard your realtor's advice about staging the home. You may love the photos of your family from every age and every vacation, but when you are asked to de-personalize your home, that means to remove these kinds of items. Buyers get distracted with all different types of clutter, and you need the focus to be on your home.
5. Don't make a fish dinner, leave the dog or cat food out, or the cat litter box out when showings are set. Also, it’s a good idea to find a place for your pets while the house is being shown and to create a neutral or positive smell that may influence a buyer’s reaction to the home.
6. Don't air your dirty laundry, literally and figuratively. Putting clothes away makes sense, but also bills, mail, and other private documents should be stored in a safe place.
7. Don’t leave your valuables out. It is not only expensive jewelry, but also sentimental items that you would not want “lost” or broken.
8. Don’t hover around your house showings. Buyers at a listing appointment or open house want to speak to your agent freely and will not feel at ease if you are in the house. If questions arise be available to respond if possible.
9. Don't argue about needed repairs requested by the buyer or fight about negotiating an offer. The goal is to sell the house, not to keep it for old times' sake.
10. Don't forget that your realtor is a professional, understands the market, and strives to do the best job for you. Have an open dialogue with your realtor about your concerns during the course of the listing. A responsible realtor takes the duty to market and sell your home seriously and will make every effort to get the job done.
Certainly, realtors and clients can make the selling of a home a better experience with a positive exchange of ideas. A collaborative relationship benefits everyone. In the end, an empathetic realtor recognizes that selling a home is laden with layers of emotion. After all, there's no place like home.
We all have our passions. I come by one of mine honestly. My mother and grandmother were decorators. They used their coveted Chicago Merchandise Mart card to enter the Kennedy owned mecca for all things interior design to score wonderful furniture and furnishings for clients, friends, and family. As a child, I took the long trip from Skokie into the City, made longer because my mother never drove on the highway, and once inside the Mart, we walked the massive corridors filled with showrooms of every imaginable type and style. Not feeling overwhelmed in that environment was a challenge. But after years of "don't touch that", graduating to "what do you think of this fabric on that chair?" I felt comfortable as an "apprentice" and looked forward to using my own Mart card one day. Even though my career path resulted in my becoming an attorney and later a realtor, I continued to be obsessed with design. I'd scour over every Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and a multitude of other design magazines; I continued to visit showrooms and stores: and I believed I was connected to the latest trends and products. It's now twenty-three years since my home addition and renovation. Trends, like most things, come and go. Although I still think I know quality decorating when I see it, I recently felt like the old proverb about shoemaker's child going barefoot. A new dinner guest remarked that she would change out my brass kitchen hardware for stainless. I'm thinking..."my decorating is so...1993." How can I advise clients how to present their home for sale in the best light if I'm in the dark? Staging is an incredibly important aspect of a real estate sale transaction. Wondering how I could let myself go and in an effort to seem less out of touch I turned to some of the experts in design...I give you my first installment of BergerBroker Doing Design.Now is the time to focus on what is hip, (if that's even cool anymore), as reported by numerous sources. Incredibly my outdated, worn, brass hardware is in vogue. But before I feel all smug and content I need to back this up. Thankfully an article in House Beautiful from 2015 did my job for me when looking at this major trend.
"Keep a sharp eye out for brass to become one of the major players when choosing finishes for lighting, drapery hardware, and kitchen/bath hardware. We've suffered through a long drought of only polished or brushed chrome/nickel for long enough." I'm thinking that suffering from polished or brushed chrome/nickel is a bit extreme, but my brass hardware is not ideal. It is not supposed to be brassy. "This new brass is also a decidedly old one - it's not a highly lacquered brass of the late 1980s. This new option tends to be more of a worn, unpolished brass of the 1880s! Much less Brady Bunch and more Downton Abbey." So I get it...but now I have to make my shiny brass look like it's 23 years old if it doesn't look like that already. Writer Heidi Potter makes sure I understand that it's not my grandmother's brassy style. She suggests that I have to adjust my perspective on what brass needs to look like and that is understated and elegant, not a trip down memory lane.
For many of us, giving up stainless, brushed chrome and nickel would be like me giving up Starbucks. So, if you want to just take it slow and not dive into the brass revival, designer Lee
Robbinsson suggests you use it as an accessory.
Ofcourse not to be outdone Martha Stewart knows the importance of updating tired kitchens and finds brass hardware and a coat of paint a terrific solution.
It not difficult to find beautiful accessories. So who creates metallic metals better than Michael Aram? His handcrafted artistry is fabulous and much of his newest collection in furniture and accessories focuses on golden hues. michaelaram.
As you get more comfortable with the concept, Elle Decor illustrates bringing brass into your scheme without going reflective overload.
It is remarkable that my blast from the past hardware resulted in an exploration of this design rewind. What do you think of replacing stainless with a 21st-century brass statement? Maybe I'll buy those shoes I've been eyeing instead and take another 23 years to think about it!
"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” - Winston Churchill
Recently, a friend handed a magazine to me. It was a beautiful edition of Luxe Interiors + Design Chicago. "I thought you might enjoy this because I know you really like interior design. You could probably look at it and teach me a lot." I assured my friend that flattery works every time, but that I am far from an interior designer. Of course, after a cocktail or two, I could be coerced into a prediction of the next design trends from the Berger point of view.
I do recognize my obsession with decorating, and I use it as a Realtor. I believe it gives me an edge when evaluating a home's marketability. Clearly, we "shape" our homes with our own style and vision. But, in an effort to convey the perspective of this designer wannabe, I bring you the second installment of BergerBroker does design.
Not surprisingly, I often look at design from my ability to sell a home for the highest price. Thinking about decorating elements that are most important to sell is critical. It is a bit like winning a popularity contest. If you remember the playground skirmishes from your elementary school days, the real estate argument would go something like this: "My backyard is bigger than your backyard." "My kitchen doesn't look like it belongs in the Brady Bunch." On and on and back and forth it goes. Suffice it to say that each house has its strengths and weaknesses, much like people. So the question is what can you do to your home to make buyers see it as the most popular?
Accept what you cannot change. It is a waste of time to bemoan the issues about your house that cannot be changed. For instance, the location of your home. If it is next to a highway, railroad tracks, or just a busy street, get over it for now. Learn from the experience and make the location of your next home a bigger priority.
Leave your ego at the door. Let your Realtor come into your home and give you an honest assessment of what needs to change to make it more appealing to buyers. Years ago, I painted my master bedroom with one of my kids. It was a great bonding experience, and we were proud of our artistic talents. At the time, layered paint with rags or sponges was trendy, but trends end, and I knew that a fresh coat of neutral paint was the answer. Your favorite DIY project can detract from your home in some way, and if you take things personally, you risk losing potential sales.
Correct obvious flaws. Does your house need a facelift in order to have that “cool factor”? Look around with a critical view. Better yet, the realtors that you interview should be able to give you valuable advice. Do you have faucets that drip or are outdated? Have you ever professionally cleaned your wood burning fireplace? Do all the electrical outlets work? What is the condition of your windows? These are the type of items that will be part of your home inspection. Quick fixes to minor imperfections will impress buyers that your house has been lovingly taken care of instead of neglected. Painting is a reasonable way to make your home fresh and correct some unfortunate color choices. If you want your home to be even more popular, change some light fixtures or hardware. These are not expensive and will help your home to be “in style,” thus improving its popularity ranking.
Resist the urge to splurge. It may be tempting, but the way to be most popular is not to have the most glitz and glamor on the street. Having the largest home on the block may make it more difficult to sell. Bells and whistles, like a pool and spa in the backyard, are likely to be a detriment too. The updates to your home need to be reasonable. A moderate bathroom update will give you a better chance of success. A new or improved deck is a less risky improvement as the return on your investment is almost 72%. Make sure you speak to a Realtor who knows the average return on your investment before you make any improvements. A knowledgeable Realtor can direct you to the appropriate projects to make your listing easier to sell.
It's better to look good than to feel good. The goal when selling your home is that buyers believe it is move-in ready. This requires a keen eye to determine what needs to be "dressed up" and what style will entice the most buyers. The appearance of the homes in the neighborhood impacts on the most sought after interior design. A house decorated in a farm style or with an industrial vibe will be less attractive to buyers looking in a location where traditional design reigns. Remember, your house is compared to the other homes for sale in the neighborhood. If you want to impress buyers, make your home attractive and elegant in keeping with the homes in your community.
So the items that needed to be shaped up are finished and your house is ready to list. Whether your home has the “cool” factor needed to beat the competition will be evident very quickly. In the end, if your home sells because it has a “nice personality,” then your design was successful. Forget about clawing your way to the top of the most popular crowd. It’s as meaningless as it was on the old school playground.
Recently, Super Bowl champion Deion Sanders sold his 29,000 square foot mansion in Dallas. It is an extraordinary home, with nine bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a 12-acre lake, football field, tennis court, indoor and outdoor pool, movie theater, bowling alley, indoor basketball court, barber shop, garage space for 14 cars, 3,000 square foot closet, and an awards gallery. Deion moved to a 7,000 square foot more understated rental house and then decided to go even smaller. “I want to go tiny because I’ve been through huge and humongous and wanting everyone to know that I’m successful, but I’m past that,” explains Sanders. “Now it’s about needs, not wants.” The NFL star is a big fan of HGTV's Tiny House Nation and hired architects to build him a luxury 600 square foot house. See the results at http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation/season-4/episode-3 The success of TV shows like Tiny House Hunters, Tiny House Builders, Tiny House, Big Living, and Tiny House Nation emphasize the popularity of the micro-dwelling movement.
Why is less...more?
The architectural and social movement to live a simpler life can be persuasive. Millennials think that it is financially prudent, considering college loan repayments, and it is an eco-friendly way to be debt free. The lifestyle attracts an aging population of Baby Boomers also. By 2029, nearly 71.4 million people in the United States will be at least 65 years old. For Baby Boomers who lost savings in the recession, a large home is no longer a sustainable model for retirement. They want to remain financially independent, and moving into a home with less square footage may be the answer. However, a home with fold up furniture, composting toilets, and steep staircases is laughable to most Baby Boomers. The TV show Portlandia provides a humorous view of micro-living.
Is Downsizing Depressing?
Another aspect to explore is the emotional strength needed to sell and move from your home. Typically, moving is one of the major stressors in life. It is anxiety provoking when you release history. It is exhausting to unload decades of accumulated stuff. When I think of downsizing, I think about my home as the place where I've lived the longest, raised my children, established friendships, and envisioned my grandchildren playing in the backyard. But now that the nest is empty, a large home does not make economic sense. Rather than viewing it as depressing, Realtor.com analyzes four questions to determine whether downsizing is rational.
Is Selling Your Home An Obstacle?
For those who find that living smaller is the best option, the next challenge is selling your home. Realtors know that selling in the spring market can be competitive. In Chicagoland, the supply is low. Inventory is bound to become more plentiful as the season continues. Analysts predict mortgage rates will rise. For the best result, put your home on the market with a professional sooner rather than later. Forbes addresses the recommendation to sell with a realtor.
Is It Difficult To Buy In A Seller's Market?
One expert believes that the decision to downsize will offset the economic stress a buyer sees in a competitive market. “There are opportunities for a seller-turned-buyer who wants to downsize in this market,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com. “You can lock in financing rates that you’ll never see again, and very likely make the trade-off work.” The economic rewards should help with downsizing discomfort. Although micro-dwellings are not for everyone, the trend to downsize simplifies life and produces financial relief.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
-Henry David Thoreau
Trends come and go, but which one will increase the value of your home? In 2016, one of the most widely used trends has been sliding barn doors. As much as I'm a fan of remodeler/designers and stars of Fixer Upper on HGTV Chip and Joanna Gaines, in most of our homes, a barn door just looks out of place. Yes, I know that it is space saving to use a sliding door, but pocket doors have done the trick for years. Installing barn doors with heavy duty hardware as a design statement opening into bathrooms, dens, bedrooms, and playrooms is overdone. This trend's time will pass and, as with most trends, the barn doors will have us saying, "what was I thinking?"
Yet, a trend is a trend because it is embraced by the masses. Numerous trends qualify to make your home more valuable. According to BUILDER, here are the trends most homeowners demand today:
So what do you focus on when you want to add value to your home? First, know your budget when thinking about bringing your home into the 21st century. Many homeowners need less trendy and less costly upgrades. Here is a list of 10 ways to increase the price of your home:
1. Clean and Declutter. No doubt a bit of power washing on the exterior and deck of your home will help buyers see that you are maintaining your home. It goes without saying that every nook and cranny needs to be free of dust, bugs, and clutter. Look at removing items from every closet, but also all those darling collectibles on open shelves, Grandma's furniture that you should have parted with long ago, or the family pictures taking up every conceivable open table or wall. Old items make your house look...well, old. If you are able to hire a professional organizer, it will make the job easier. One of my favorite people owns a business that has organized homes for years. Look at this website and treat yourself to someone who will get your home in great shape without the headaches! http://www.moreganized.net.
2. Paint. Yes, you've heard it a million times, but hearing it and doing it are completely different. You may be in love with your red dining room, but buyers will have a reaction, and you want the most positive reaction possible. It's easy to imagine the colors that will earn you a safe return on your investment. Professionals agree that it is a risk to select a paint color other than neutrals. Color trends change every year. In 2017 Pantone declared "greenery" to be the color of the year. https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2017 If you are going to use this trendy color, I suggest you use it sparingly. Why not make it less permanent and just buy a plant. Also, discover the value that paint accompishes in other ways. Refinishing furniture is a great way to change a tired look into a new and improved version. When buyers see a well-furnished home, they can imagine living there more easily. See some great examples from a friend in the business of revitalizing outdated furniture. www.facebook.com/DStressed.
3. Backsplash. It is a simple addition to your kitchen that offers a value added punch. But be careful with the backsplash type or design. Zillow digs found that homes listed for sale with subway tile sold for 6.9 percent higher than the expected sales price. It's crazy to think that something so simple could add so much value. Clearly, this is a worthwhile update.
4. Kitchen Cabinets. Cabinet remodeling is a more costly update. That is true if you tear out your existing cabinets to replace them. If your cabinets are worn or antiquated in design, I recommend that you explore the cost of changing out the cabinet fronts and keeping the actual cabinet box. In the alternative, if the cabinets are in good condition and in a current design, you can refresh them by refinishing or painting them to give your kitchen a new look. Of course, replacing old cabinet hardware is important too. Again, I want to stress the design aesthetic. The refurbished cabinets need to fit into the rest of your home decor. Just think about the fact that a cabinet remodel can bring a 9.6 percent increase in your home sales price.
5. Bathroom Cabinets. Consider the same reasoning regarding a new vanity for your bathroom. Buyers are particularly sensitive to bathrooms that aren't just vintage, but obsolete. It makes sense to modernize a bathroom vanity as numerous selections exist within a reasonable budget. If any of the other fixtures are non-working, replace them. If not, the sales price will be discounted for obvious flaws, but you could also lose buyers who just don't want to deal with a bad bathroom.
6. Fireplace. Whether it is gas or wood burning, buyers covet a functioning fireplace and will pay more for a home with this focal point. Keep it in good repair and treat it to a design facelift. It will also score points with buyers when they compare homes.
7. Kitchen Appliances. If any kitchen appliances need to be replaced, you will either have to do so or give a credit to the buyers. This is certainly a higher priced category when selling your real estate, but you may find that the risk is low considering the reward. Whether you need high-end named appliances depends on the price point of your home.
8. Landscaping. Do not forget the importance of curb appeal. Overgrown or poorly maintained landscaping has an impact on the first impression of your home. It is not necessary for you to rip out everything. It is necessary to remove anything dead. You may not have to replace the plants removed, but that depends on whether the empty space looks too open or unattractive. It may just be a relief to see the dead plants go. Trimming back bushes and trees will also serve to make your house look clean and maintained. The way you "stage" the exterior of your home can make the difference of a buyer walking in the front door or walking down the block.
9. Front Door and Exterior Lighting. One of the most obvious and neglected features of your home is your front door. It may need a fresh coat of paint or stain. It may just need to be cleaned. It is easy to make it visually appealing. Look at the lighting next to the front door. It may be as simple as replacing light bulbs, or you can bump up its appeal with new light fixtures if they are outdated. When you select outdoor lighting it is important to match the design style of your home? Imagine a colonial home or a spIit level with Prairie/Arts and Crafts style lighting. It's just...wrong. If you're selling in the winter, you still need to increase value and stage the outside of your home. If nothing else is possible, place some attractive planters next to the front door.
10. Smart Doorbell. Is there such a thing as a smart doorbell? Considering that it is relatively inexpensive, provides video and audio of people at your door, and functions as a security measure wirelessly, I'd say that's pretty smart! Statiscally, most buyers will replace the front door bell because it is often broken. Why not show your intelligence and provide the most updated door bell?
Popular trends tend to show buyers you are keeping your house up-to-date. But keeping current is costly and may not meet your needs or fit the buyers' taste. Don't risk putting in that sliding barn door just to look trendy. You may find that buyers are sick of it and are on to the next fad. I'm about to begin a much-needed update on my home. It was last renovated 22 years ago. I will keep you posted on my progress. I would love to hear about some ways you are updating your home!
Judi Berger is an attorney and real estate broker who is blogging as she begins a new chapter in her life.