5 Tips from Ty Pennington

You all remember Ty Pennington from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, right? Well, I recently read a short blog about his five tips to make a home’s exterior look brand new, regardless of how old the actual home is! Without further ado, here are Ty’s tips:

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1. Paint

Nothing packs as much impact as a fresh coat of paint. My favorite new trend-black siding! No need to tear off and do a full replacement. If your vinyl siding is in good shape, paint it!

2. Clean

We tend to put off cleaning the windows, but don’t! Clean windows make your house look well-loved and cared for.

3. Repair

Cracked and missing concrete is not just an eyesore, it’s a safety concern. While it may be costly to pour a new driveway or sidewalk, it will pay you back in reducing that safety risk.

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4. Fertilize

It’s autumn, and that means it’s time to prep for summer! Fertilizing your grass now will help fill in thin spots and grow deep roots so your lawn survives winter. Plant your bulbs now if you are considering selling in the spring.

5. Tuckpoint

If you have a brick house, protect it from moisture intrusion by having it professionally tuckpointed. That said, there are very few brick homes in our area (more stucco).

To read the entire piece from Ty, check out his extended tips here.

Landscaping tips to improve home value

I wanted to go back to a blog I saw a few weeks ago. It’s an RIS Media blog about landscaping and how you can make the most out of your yards when trying to sell. Read below:

Landscaping is one of the most important ways to increase your property’s value quickly. In fact, a gorgeous landscape design can increase the value of your home by at least 5 to 11 percent—and maybe more. The best part about landscaping is that even though it’s one of the most valuable home improvements you can make, it’s also one of the easiest. If you’re wondering how to turn your landscape into one of your home’s most valuable assets, here are some tips to get you started.

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1. Match Landscape to Your Home’s Style

The best way to get an excellent return on investment with landscaping is to make sure it fits with your home’s style. For instance, if you own a Victorian home, a Japanese garden will be sorely out of place and may even lower your home’s value rather than add to it. In this instance, you’re much better off with a country or cottage-style landscape that blends in with the old-fashioned formality of your home.

The same holds true for more modern home styles, such as the prairie or industrial style. If your home falls into one of these categories, you’ll want to stay away from square, formal gardens or a profusion of airy blooms. Instead, create a more modern landscape by relying on plenty of greenery and natural-looking beds that fit the contours of your property.

2. Design With a Strategy in Mind

You’ll need to have a good strategy. That means you shouldn’t clutter the entire yard with various high-maintenance plantings, but you also shouldn’t have plain grass with no landscaping. A study by the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture found that a good foundation planting along with a couple of well-designed points of interest can increase your home’s value by up to 42 percent.

By that same token, you should encourage diversity among your plantings without taking it too far. The ideal landscape has a good mixture of shrubs and perennials, but it doesn’t have one of every kind of plant that you can find at the garden center. Instead, it has a uniform look with just enough diversity to make it interesting, but not so little that it becomes boring.

3. Achieve Seasonal Balance

A profusion of spring blooms won’t interest potential buyers who look at your home during other parts of the year. Think about ways to make your landscape attractive all year — blooming bulbs for spring, annual beds around the house during the summer, shrubs with brightly colored leaves in the fall, and evergreens for the winter. Even though most buyers will be looking at your home during one season, they’ll notice the balance you’ve created and they’ll think about how beautiful the home will be as the seasons change.

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4. Plant Trees

A few simple trees can make an enormous difference to the sale price of your home. In one study, simply living on a tree-lined street added between 10 to 15 percent to the sale price compared to neighborhoods with fewer trees. So why are trees worth so much? Trees remove carbon dioxide and pollution from the air, so people view them as an eco-friendly option. The shade helps keep neighborhoods and homes cooler and more pleasant, which in turn cuts air conditioning costs. Trees are also a stress reliever — people enjoy relaxing in their shade or gazing at the leafy view.

5. Edge Your Lawn

Few things look nicer than a healthy, vibrant, carefully maintained lawn — except for a lawn that is all of those things and neatly edged. The confined look of an edged lawn gives it an easy-to-maintain look. In other words, no weed whipping or weeding required.

Edging along driveways, sidewalks and garden beds also shows prospective buyers how meticulous you have been concerning the property’s upkeep. They’ll know that if you’re willing to keep the edges of your yard looking nice, the rest of the property is likely in pristine condition, too.

Of all improvements to boost home value, landscape is one that will get you the largest return on your investment.  Just make sure that you design your landscape with a plan, and don’t let that design become so complex that the mere thought of all the maintenance chases away your buyers.

A quick comment: I heard Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending telling me this after I made a comment on one of his blogs. The neighbor down the street had a bunch of Juniper bushes, which did not give great curb appeal and the house sat on the market. Had they removed those bushes and done some generic landscaping, that house would have probably sold for $100k more as a similar one did come on the market with a nicely landscaped front yard and sold in less time and for about $100k more!

10 items every home should have

Thanks to John Solaegui, who sourced this article from Architectural Digest, about 10 items every home should have. It basically is a list of must-have home items that you never knew you needed; the little things you forget about when moving into a new home. I think this is a spot-on look at what every home should have, with a little bit of added input from yours truly! Let me know if there’s anything we missed.

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1. Art that you love

Bare walls are boring. I’m not saying you need to go all JoAnna Gaines on your interior decorating, but finding some art that you love, that has meaning to you, is a huge plus in a new home. Personal photographs, postcards, custom-framed prints, etc. make for great decoration and tell the story of you!

2. Guest linens

This one might make you laugh, but it’s easy to overlook! If you’re planning on having guests over, you shouldn’t have to pull out a sleeping bag or ratty blankets. These people aren’t at summer camp! Stash a few extra sets of sheets and extra towels in a linen closet so you’re ready to host.

3. Entry table

It never hurts to have an aesthetically-pleasing piece of furniture right inside your front door. But it’s also multi-functional: mail, keys, sunglasses, and other necessities you are always misplacing would go neatly into a bowl, tray or box on an entry table.

4. Table linens

There’s nothing like freshly-pressed linens, but you don’t have to overdo it. A bare, white table set with white linen placemats can create a fresh, airy vibe. If you want an eco-friendly bonus, you can get linen sets that are better than paper, too.

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5. Plants

Bring a touch of nature indoors! Houseplants add color and texture to a home. If you are a chef (or pretending to be one), you can also plant some basil, thyme, or other spices inside to create a decorate herb garden. Another pro tip: apparently having a mint plant inside keeps insects on the right side of the walls (outside!).

6. Multiple lighting sources

We do a lot of things in our homes throughout the day. It’s only fitting that we have different lighting options available for sleeping, entertaining, and just relaxing. A single overhead system doesn’t really cut it anymore. Add at least one table, floor, or desk lamp to every room in your home to elevate the mood!

7. A coat rack

You don’t live in the dorms anymore, so tossing your coat on the nearest surface when you walk in is no longer acceptable. If you have a full mudroom, you’re set. If not, a back-of-door coat rack, or even just a section of the nearest closet, can function as a de-cluttering coat rack.

8. A bookshelf

If you can get a vintage cabinet, or utilize built-in shelves for this, you are a true professional. But every home should have some sort of chic shelving set-up to store your favorite books, framed photos, and other meaningful trinkets. You can organize the things on the shelves however you want, and change it often!

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9. A sumptuous throw

Toss a nice-looking throw over the end of a bed or across the back of a sofa. Not only will it make the room prettier, but it will imply that your room is cozy and welcoming. You can go as colorful as you want, or match the throw to the mood of the room.

10. Matching wine glasses

Don’t be that person. The one who scrambles through three different cabinets just to come up with a bunch of different wine glasses to serve the bottle your guests brought over. Invest in a quality, matching set of wine glasses, and upgrade your happy hour game. Brownie points for having a dedicated wine rack piece in your home.

7 home maintenance tasks sellers must do before listing

It is that time of year when the housing market starts to heat up. If you’re one of the homeowners who plan on selling this summer, there’s a lengthy list of must-dos to complete before you actually list. Take a look at the following ideas from Inman, with input from yours truly, on how to make your home more attractive.

1. Spruce up the exterior

This is the first thing your prospective buyers are going to see. They want something with literal curb appeal, and if you have overgrown bushes, peeling paint, dirty windows, or poor lighting, the first impression won’t be very good.

2. Service the heating/cooling system

Home inspectors have to check this anyway, so you might as well beat them to it. Waiting until a buyer makes an offer to service this system may cause issues, so get ahead on it!

3. Check your lightbulbs

Check every single one of them on both the interior and exterior. Make sure they are clean and bright. It is essential to have the home as bright as possible. In my experience, this is a tiny thing that is very noticeable if not addressed.

4. Check all smoke detectors

We’ve all pulled batteries out of our smoke detectors when cooking, but don’t forget to put them back in. Make sure all your detectors are working. A home inspector will ding you if you don’t.

5. Blue tape it

If there are nicks, chips, scratches, etc. in the walls of your house, blue tape it! No buyer wants wear and tear on the interior walls or molding, so make sure the rough areas are marked for repair before you list. My stager blue tapes what needs to be removed, painted or fixed at the staging consult I provide as part of my services.

6. Deep clean and declutter

And we mean deep. If you can, hire a cleaning crew to get a small army of people cleaning every corner and crevice (think baseboards, light switches, etc.) of the house before it goes on the market. And don’t forget to gather all your extra junk and either store elsewhere or donate.

7. Don’t forget the garage

This is often an overlooked space, but prospective buyers will want to see a clean, organized garage. Consider painting the floor or putting an epoxy down. And don’t forget to repair cracks in the ceiling of the garage!  Side note, in this area most people store all of the noted blue taped items, just make sure if you do a pest inspection, you do it before you store all your items in the garage.

BONUS! 8. Stage the property

This is my personal addition to the list. There are people who stage homes for a living. They are experts at making a house as attractive as possible to buyers. I can’t recommend having your property staged before listing highly enough!  You only get one opportunity to make a first impression!

Tips for surviving the next drought

Last winter, the rains were plentiful. This spring and summer, the rivers have been gushing, lakes have been full and waterfalls have been crashing.

It’s a scene we haven’t had in the Bay Area in quite some time. But since the drought ended, all the regular water usage has returned – flushing normally, watering our gardens more than once a month, leaving the water going occasionally and not worrying about it…

That said, we’re still in California and we’re still in an accelerated state of global warming (according to most climatologists, anyway). So, there will be another drought. Here are some Bay Area-specific tips from the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) for surviving the next one:

Know your water provider’s Drought Program and its requirements

Every water provider should have a Drought Program. Contact them to make sure you know what their requirements are, ahead of the next drought. If you have CCWD, you can sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

Know how much water you are using

You can read your water meter to better understand how much water you’re using. However, that can be tricky. Here are some tips on CCWD’s website: www.ccwater.com.

Check for leaks

You can also utilize your meter to check for leaks. One of the most common leaks and wastes of water comes from the toilet. Check regularly!

Use efficient fixtures and appliances

You should always get EnergyStar appliances if possible, and you should have a toilet with 1.28gpf or less. Check if yours does at www.map-testing.com. Also, make sure your laundry loads are always full and don’t leave faucets running!

Convert lawns to gardens

Some water providers offer rebates for converting a lawn to a garden. For example, CCWD offers $1 per square foot of lawn converted ($1,000 maximum residential, $20,000 maximum Commercial/HOA). And California will give you a state rebate for front and back lawn conversions as well. Plus, it just looks prettier!

If you irrigate, do it efficiently

If you irrigate or have sprinklers, make sure the system is in good shape (no blocked or broken heads) so there’s no water waste. Try to water after the sun goes down or before it goes up to avoid evaporation. And turn the system off when rain is coming.

There are a million different simple ways to avoid water loss when the next drought occurs. Water is a still a precious commodity!

The smallest decisions can make your house more valuable

When selling a home, oftentimes the goal is to maximize financial return on the deal. Everybody wants to make as much as they can off their home sale, and even the slightest changes can increase what a home sells for.

Take this article on Inman.com for example. It’s about how homes with blue bathrooms sell for $5,400 more on average than others, according to a Zillow study. Crazy, right? Literally just changing the color you’ve painted a wal or two can add thousands of dollars to your wallet!

The article goes on to list a couple other color choices that can add or subtract from the sale price; for example, grey (and other neutral) exteriors sel die about $3,500 more than homes with other colors.

It really goes to show that small aesthetic decisions can play a huge role in netting you some extra zeroes on your home sale. It’s always wise to cater to the current trends when painting, decorating and remodeling your home to go on market – even if it means just a couple grand more in your pocket.

I try to stay tuned in to what’s popular so I can help you make those decisions. I am committed to maximizing your value as a seller, and on the flip side, getting you the best deal possible as a buyer. Give me a call if you’re interested in a real estate transaction!

Navigating the inspection process when buying or selling a home

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, there will almost always be inspections done. Oftentimes, buyers will do roof, home, and pest inspections. Sometimes fireplace, foundation and sewer lateral inspections will be conducted as well.

Cranston, RI, April 17, 2010 -- FEMA inspector Mike Irwin with home owner Jose Henriquez run through his home inspection again to illustrate to the media what a FEMA home inspection looks like and what people can expect when they have their homes inspected. Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA

Buyers are trying to determine the integrity of the house they want to buy – nobody wants to buy a home only to find out later that they will have to put additional money into it. However, sellers rarely know about these things off the top of their heads.

That is why it’s important, and beneficial to both parties, for inspections to be done. At the very least, a seller should do a pest inspection before going on the market to understand the cost of any issues, rather than deal with negotiating after something is discovered.

Once inspections are done, they become a disclosure. So, if a buyer gets scared off for some reason, the inspections are a disclosure for the next buyers. More than likely, this will incentivize the seller to work with the existing buyer. Occasionally, there are bad inspections with unreasonable pricing and there is no coming to agreement between parties. The seller will usually get another inspection from a more reputable inspector.

How bathroom remodels are trending

Of all the things to remodel in a house, bathrooms and kitchens are probably the two most popular rooms.

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Houzz.com wrote a cool article about how homeowners are “craving stylish, beautiful spaces, with luxurious finishes and big showers.”Their study surveyed more than 2,100 Houzz users in the U.S. who own homes and are currently renovating their bathrooms, are recently done with a renovation, or are planning on one in the near future.

Check out some of the graphs that reveal the current trends for bathroom remodels:

How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend
How People Upgrade Their Main Bathrooms, and How Much They Spend

Latest Bathroom Trends

According to a recent Houzz & Home survey, homeowners are investing more on bathroom renovations than in previous years, largely due to outdated designs and finishes. What types of upgrades are they spending money on? Here are some of the latest trends and tech updates being used in bathroom design:

  • Aesthetic Additions – Small changes can bring big rewards, both in resale and in your daily experience. Some of the newest trends include polished chrome finishes and neutral colors like white and gray. Floating vanities, open shelving and undermount sinks are making bathrooms more streamlined. For a larger change, try no-threshold showers or higher vanity heights.bathroom-2
  • Tech Touches – Updating your home appliances isn’t just for the kitchen. Smart bathrooms are also making a splash, including high-tech toilets that boast seat warmers, LED lights, motion sensors and automatic dryers. Accessorized soaking tubs allow for bathing in chromotherapy and mood-enhanced lighting. Digital faucets and showers conserve water and money and incorporate touchless technology and programmable, timed options.

When done correctly, these bathroom upgrades will make a massive difference in your home. There’s nothing like a comfortable bathroom to guarantee a more peaceful experience. Keep an eye out – you’ll probably start seeing these trends taking place in new homes everywhere soon!

 

Check out Arhaus, cool new furniture store

img_9307For fans of my recent Anthropologie blog, you’ll be happy to know that there’s another awesome new store in Walnut Creek that can fit your furniture needs. Arhaus is located in Broadway Plaza and has everything you’d ever need when looking to upgrade the interior and yards of your home.

Arhaus started in 1986, but just recently opened their Walnut Creek location. They pride themselves on unique, quality pieces made with natural hardwoods, stone and fabrics.

One of the coolest things Arhaus does is that they use recycled natural resources like copper and tree roots to make some of their more functional pieces, and they have a commitment to never using wood from endangered rainforests.

I was really impressed with the style Arhaus offered and took a few photos (see below) of the store. The wide range of unique furniture caught my eye, and I’ll definitely be coming back when I went to re-furnish any part of my home with new pieces!

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