10 tips for adding value to your home before you sell

kitchenWhen you sell your home, it’s all about adding value before it goes on the market. There are some small tweaks you can make around the house to make sure you get top dollar for your house. Here is a whittled-down version of the top 10 tips from Houzz.com on how you can increase that value:

1. Add square footage: Move furniture around to fit the room better and make it feel larger. Perception is powerful, even if that true square footage won’t budge. You want prospective buyers to see a lot of space, and therefore, a lot of potential.

2. Traditional sells too: You don’t have to buy a bunch of new stuff to show off your home. Every buyer has his or her own style, so staying honest to the home’s roots can pay off.

3. Master bedroom closet upgrade: Add custom closets to the master bedroom. A large, walk-in closet will add value to any home and excites buyers. Finding an affordable way to do it isn’t terribly difficult with a little research.

4. Kitchen is king: If you do spend money on your home before it hits the market, put it towards your kitchen. Even updated light fixtures will add value to a space used for eating, drinking, gathering and storage by even the worst cooks.

5. Storage, storage, storage: There is no such thing as too much storage. It’s important to provide ample storage space, so utilize it as much as possible when selling!

6. Fresh paint is magical: Painting is the most cost-effective way to freshen up a space. Freshly painted rooms feel updated, clean and crisp and won’t break the bank. Try to avoid colors that are too bold and might scare off buyers. Traditional, neutral choices can do wonders!

7. Try to be energy-efficient: Buying a home involves closing costs, moving fees, energy bills and more on top of just the sale price. If you offer buyers energy-efficient options (CFL or LED lightbulbs, solar panels, etc.), they may find that long-term cost savings attractive. front-yard

8. Bathroom updates help: Behind the kitchen, bathrooms are going to be the most important part of your home to get updates in when selling. A little bit can go a long way in most bathrooms; replace outdated features or change light fixtures to start.

9. Hire a professional organizer: Don’t try to do everything yourself. This process is stressful enough! A professional organizer can help you de-clutter your home and help open up manageable space. That organization will impress buyers.

10. Add curb appeal: You only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Make sure your front yard is tidy and well-groomed. Don’t let peeling paint or cracks in the walls scare off buyers before they even make it in the door.

Does your front door impact your curb appeal?

front-door-1Yes, it does! When it comes to your front door, big decisions must be made. I’ve seen some of the prettiest houses ruined by the ugliest paint jobs on front doors.

For example, unless the rest of your house can really pull it off, please don’t paint your front door bright, neon pink!

From merging classic colors to considering nature tones and your home’s immediate surroundings, there are a lot more factors to consider than one would think when painting a front door.

When all is said and done, a good paint job can really tie a house together visually.

Check out Better Homes and Gardens’ guide to the “do’s and don’ts” of painting your front door.  I think you’ll find these tips helpful. I know I did, though my front door is in need or repair and really needs to be moved back to it’s original spot – remodeling is on the horizon!

You can also check out this free guide on how to paint your front door right here!

Hack Your Life: Dryer Sheets

Everybody needs to learn a life hack once in a while. Recently, we came across an awesome list of creative uses for dryer sheets. Check these out – can you think of any other good uses?

Pick up stray hair: Apparently, running a dryer sheet over your floor will pick up all the hair nicely and easily. Who knew?

Clean the toilet ring: Nobody likes seeing that nasty buildup in the toilet bowl – one swipe of a dryer sheet should do the trick.

dryer sheetsDe-grease the kitchen: Tired of ruining your hand sponges scrubbing grease off the stove? Just use a dryer sheet and toss it!

Replacement Swiffer pad: Believe it or not, a dryer sheet can be attached to a Swiffer if you run out of pads, and we’ll serve essentially the same function!

Freshen up the garbage: This one could really come in handy – stinky garbage? Stuff a dryer sheet or two in there to improve the scent.

Scare away mosquitoes: Don’t spend big bucks on bug spray, especially when you can keep a dryer sheet in your coat pocket to ward off the little blood-suckers.

Clean your iron: Be careful with this one – make sure it’s on a very low setting. Then, swipe a dryer sheet over the warm surface to pick up any gunk that might be left from previous uses!

Clean your scissors: Again, be careful. But wiping down your scissor blades with the rough dryer sheets may just make them good as new!

Silence your shoes: If your new shoes still squeak, rub down the soles with a dryer sheet to eliminate the sounds. Also, you can keep a dryer sheet in each stinky shoe to improve the smell!

 

 

Open House this weekend: 1326 San Carlos Ave. in Concord

Don’t miss this cozy, updated gem! Just a couple blocks from the Concord BART station and close to Todos Santos Plaza, you’ll feel right at home in this 2-bedroom, 1-bath (with an extra bedroom and bathroom in the converted garage) property.

Fresh paint, new bamboo floors, skylights, granite countertops and a big backyard with a spacious shed top the list of eye-catching features this property has to offer.

You can use that converted space as an AirBNB income-generating room that can be locked off from the rest of the house, and it even has its own little private side yard!

The open kitchen/dining room concept, complete with skylight and dark, beautiful cabinetry, flows into a separate living room with a fireplace and recessed lighting. Both main bedrooms open to the deck and backyard.

Speaking of, both main bedrooms open to the massive deck and backyard. You’ll have plenty of space to entertain friends and family. And you’ll love the huge tree in the front yard casting much-needed shade over the house in the summer.

Come see for yourself how so much can fit into such a beautiful space!

Visit our Open House this weekend from 1-4 p.m. both Saturday (7/30) and Sunday (7/31)!

You can see a virtual tour of 1326 San Carlos Avenue here.

Broker Tour Today! Open House This Weekend!

madeira 3Join us for a broker tour today from 10:30 a.m .to 1:00 p.m. at both 2899 Madeira Way in Pleasant Hill and 1655 Endriss Dr. in Martinez. We’ll have some goodies to share at these beautiful properties!

Also, at the home on Madeira Way, we’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday (June 25th and 26th) from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The updated 4-bedroom homemadeira 2 has new hardwood floors, plantation shutters in every bedroom and a large backyard with a patio perfect for entertaining.

The master bedroom is downstairs, just off the living room and dining room, which buttresses a nice kitchen with granite countertops. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms with one currently being utilized as a spacious personal office.

Come wander through this lovely home in a great neighborhood with us this weekend. Hope to see you there!

You can see a virtual tour of 2899 Madeira Way right here.

 

Hot Housing Market This Summer

It is unlikely the Federal Reserve will be increasing interest rates this month after a weak May job report (only 38,000 jobs created, 117,000 less than expected and the worst month for job creation in nearly six years). According to experts, the likelihood of a rate hike is down to a measly 4 percent, and that trend may carry over into July.

Thus, this summer could prove to be the hot time to buy or sell a home. In California – specifically the East Bay – selling season tends to be in the spring. Once we move into the middle of May, buyers and sellers become distracted with graduations, weddings, etc.

And once school is out everyone moves into vacation mode through mid-August, before families start getting ready for going back to school. Usually, we see an uptick in the number of homes that are on the market in the summer compared to the  the spring. With continued low rates, this summer might buck that trend with buyers out to purchase.Beautiful white, blue and beige living room.

To prepare, buyers should be pre-qualified for a mortgage before they start shopping and, ideally, desktop underwritten. It is best if buyers don’t make an offer contingent on the sale of their own home. For sellers, they should be ready to make themselves and their homes available for show. At minimum, have a staging consult done. Try to have your home staged before a showing.

 

Statistics show clean and pristine homes that are staged properly sell faster and for more money than ones that are not. Necessary improvements, such as new painting, replaced fixtures and refreshed house plants are huge for staging.

It is about getting it show and picture-worthy and keeping it neutral, not spending a lot of money on upgrades. As is the case with personal preferences, “What you think is a nice improvement is another man’s gold shag carpeting.”

Celebration of Closing on a Home!!!

One of the greatest joys of my job is presenting my clients with the key to their new home or telling a seller their home is SOLD.  Below are  some pictures of celebrating with my happy clients as they receive those keys, sign their loan documents and enjoy their congratulatory “let’s celebrate” baskets after closing!

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Top 5 Must-Do’s for First-Time Home Buyers

first time home buyer featuredSo you’ve finally made the big decision. You’re going to buy a house!

You are aware of the long road ahead, but excited to take on the challenge and have a home you can call your own.

It’s a stressful process, however there are a few things you can do to help prepare for your first time through the home-buying process:

Determine your budget.

There are many online calculators available that can help you to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payments should be, based on how much money you are looking to borrow. Don’t forget to include property taxes, though – estimate 1.25 percent of the purchase price for a yearly property tax estimate. If you are looking at a condo or a townhouse, then you most likely will have to consider a monthly HOA fee. Also, look at what your income, debts and assets are; this is where I strongly recommend you speak with a lender. The good ones break that all out for you and can help you work up a budget.

Examine your credit and credit score.

You want to get yourself in the best position to qualify for the lowest interest rates and best mortgage terms and one way to do that is to beef up your credit score. If your score is less than perfect, look for ways to increase your score. If you have limited credit history, look for ways to build positive credit before you apply for a mortgage loan. This is another area that a good mortgage broker can give some suggestions to improve your credit. No matter what your score is, review your credit report to ensure that there are no errors on your report which ay impact your ability to qualify for the mortgage you want.

Where will your down payment come from? And how much will you need?

Buying a home is a big financial commitment, which can often require a big cash down payment. Where will you be getting your down payment from – savings, a 401(k) or IRA withdrawal? As a gift from family? Although FHA loans are often an attractive option for first-time homebuyers because they only require you put 3.5 percent down, you’ll still need to roughly determine how much 3.5 percent will be and where you’ll be getting those funds from, while still saving enough for closing costs. All the while, you must keep your debt-to-income ratios in line with guidelines.

Begin to gather up all the documents you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage.

When you apply for a mortgage you’re likely going to need to show your lender proof of your identity (passport, driver’s license or similar) as well as recent pay stubs from your employer and copies of your past year (or two years) of tax returns. Each lender will have their own requirements, but gathering together these basic pieces of information can help make the mortgage application process go smoothly. Again, a good lender will send out an introduction email with a list of the things that are required.

Get preapproved for a mortgage before you begin house hunting! 

This is a MUST! Home sellers want to know that you’re serious about buying, and one of the best ways to show them that is by submitting an offer that comes with mortgage pre-qualification. In some hot housing markets, sellers won’t even accept offers without a pre-qualification or DU Approval. A good real estate agent will also help guide you through this process, which can include an informative face-to-face about the whole process or a good lender recommendation.

Excerpts of this blog generously borrowed from The Orland Group Realtor Coaching.

Tips Before You List – Economical, DIY Home Improvements

remodelWhen preparing your home for sale, statistics show staged homes sell faster and for more money than non-staged homes.

However, if your house is already a picture from Architectural Digest or your budget is limited, I am sharing a few tips from BuzzFeed about how you can make a few inexpensive, DIY upgrades to your house to increase the value and improve its aesthetics before listing.

Adding paint in certain parts of the house, evaluating house plants, replacing light bulbs, landscaping and giving your home a good, deep clean are examples of a few things you can do to improve the look of your home before listing.  You, the homeowner, can do quite a bit to significantly raise the value of your home and increase interest among prospective buyers.gardening

For the most part, these projects can be easily completed by you or a handyman and the materials are relatively inexpensive. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it may pay big dividends in the end.

Selling your home is an investment in your financial future, and the more TLC you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Should you need some recommendations for a handyman, gardener or painter, give me a call. I also provide a free consultation on things you can do to help spruce up the home and get it market-ready.

Check out BuzzFeed’s list for some ideas here.

Why It’s Important to Hire a Landscape Architect

Yard 1Last year, my sewer kept backing up and I found that I needed a new sewer lateral. My front lawn had a bunch of crabgrass, and the lawn never seemed to get green enough. Then, with the drought, I just let it go.

My whole front yard was torn up, so I decided to do some landscaping – new grass, plants and an automatic sprinkler and drip system.

The project turned out to cost much more than I expected. The sewer lateral was $6,000, and then I ended up paying an additional $8,000 for the landscaping and sprinklers.

I thought I was getting a deal, as the person I hired was a personal friend – though he admittedly knew nothing about plants – who could plant the yard and put the new system in.

Turns out, it was much more difficult than either of us expected. This is on me for thinking it would be an acceptable, cheap way to get the yard done. I still wonder if I hired a landscape architect, would I have saved money and would I be happier with the end result?

Of course, no home improvement project is as simple as it seems. My sprinkler heads had faulty gaskets and some of the plants were not getting water and I lost plants. Luckily, Admirals Choice, who installed the sprinklers, is Yard 2replacing them at no cost to me.

A year and a half later, we are still working on the grass, there’s still a line in the grass where the sewer lateral was dug out, and I need to get rid of the weeds.

We put weed killer on it, but I had to wait until the weather cooled, then it didn’t kill my stubborn crabgrass, and the rain began. So…I waited some more.

The gaskets should be replaced next week, then hopefully it will be time to seed before it gets too hot, and then I can fill in the plants that died.

So, with the hope that you don’t end up like me, with a two-year-old front yard project that cost me a fortune, I am sharing a great Houzz article on Landscaping Trends: