All articles have been provided by The National Association of Realtors.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Fire features, like outdoor fire pits and fire tables, are in demand. The National Association of Landscape Professionals calls it one of the hottest landscape trends for the fall, based on a recent survey of 5,000 of its member landscapers.
These hot-spots can be a great way to show off the entertaining potential of your outdoor space. Set up a fire pit with a few outdoor chairs around it. You can even drape a blanket over one chair and add ingredients to s’mores on a table to finish off this perfect cozy fall scene.
Consider, taking a picture of your fire pit with the flames at dusk to even add to your listing photos to highlight as a selling point too. (A professional photographer may be best to get this picture so that the lighting is perfect.)
Check out these chic fire pit areas featured by designers at Houzz.
By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Has your property been on the market for months with little buyer interest? With a competitive fall market ahead, it may help to reassess the condition of your home, make necessary updates, then re-list a new and improved staged property to generate new buzz and buyer interest. Here are some questions sellers should ask themselves to get their home on top of the list and ahead of the competition.
Does it Make the Best First Impression?
The key is to look at your home from the perspective of the buyer. With more than 97 percent of homes sold on the Internet, the first point of engagement for buyers today is the online listing. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to feature professional quality photos using the best lighting to encourage buyers to schedule a showing. Once they arrive, be sure that your curb appeal and front entry are well maintained, tidy, and welcoming by trimming bushes, cleaning walkways, making repairs, and adding seasonal touches to the front porch.
Does it Appeal to The Target Market?
According to a National Association of REALTORS(R) recent trends report, 66 percent of today’s first-time buyers are millennials, and they are looking for a home that is in move-in ready condition. These buyers will turn away instantly if the home is dated and gives the impression that it’s in need of renovation. They will, however, ultimately pay more for a home that looks fresh and inviting. Be sure that necessary repairs and cosmetic updates are made such as freshening up walls and cabinets with a coat of neutral paint, polishing hardwood floors, replacing lighting, hardware, appliances, etc.
Can Buyers Visualize Living in This Home?
Whether selling an occupied or vacant home, keep in mind that If buyers can’t emotionally connect, it won’t be memorable. Consider renting furniture for vacant properties to show buyers how they can use their own furnishings in the space. For occupied properties make sure there are no distractions such as personal items on walls, shelves and tables. Showcase every key room from the entry to the basement with a clean look and minimal accessories such as colorful pillows, wall art and simple vignettes.
Are Key Features Highlighted?
Be sure that your home’s best assets are not hidden. Is your stone fireplace covered with a cluttered mantle or distracting wall art? Are hardwood floors covered up with dated carpeting? Are floor to ceiling windows hidden behind heavy curtains? Are built-in shelves cluttered with old books and photos? If so, remove and simplify to show these features off, bring new life and increase perceived value to your home.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company has received Houzz 2015 and 2016 Awards for Customer Service. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR® Magazine’s Styled, Staged and Sold. For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Phil Karp, guest contributor
It’s no secret that a properly staged home can sell faster than an empty one. But how far do you need to go to inspire the “chocolate chip cookie effect,” where a buyer walks in the front door and immediately feels right at home? Sellers often look to their agent for home staging advice, which can be based on initial impressions and feedback from early showings.
Here are five tips for effectively staging a home before the next potential buyer walks in the door.
1. Create a Welcoming Entry Way
When it comes to selling a home, the importance of curb appeal can’t be stressed enough. Buyers need to fall in love at first sight — which happens around the time they pull up to the front of a property. For sellers who need to spruce up their yard, recommend inexpensive outdoor projects like a garage door replacement or an exterior power wash.
2. Enlist All Five Senses
Rather than focusing solely on how a home looks, give buyers a multisensory experience. Smells like fresh-baked cookies or scented candles can help create a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. Calming music can also help to set the proper mood for open-house tours.
3. Encourage Decluttering
When a buyer walks into a home, they need to believe in the possibility that this house could belong to them. Seeing personal articles like photographs, kids’ artwork, or pet toys can detract from the appearance of a home that’s ready for move-in. Any loose papers and other stray items should be removed from countertops and tables to avoid distraction.
4. Turn on the Lights
To avoid a dark and dingy look, be sure to maximize the use of available lighting. Open curtains for natural light and turn on overhead lights in every room. If further accent light is needed, consider bringing LED candles or portable lights to showings.
5. Keep It Natural (and Neutral)
Neutral colors are still a favorite of house hunters looking to add their own style to a home’s decor. If you decide to add accessories for staging purposes, go for neutral accents such as throw rugs, shower curtains and towels or linens. If sellers are willing, replace window treatments or repaint rooms with dated color schemes. Natural touches like flowers and plants can also add a breath of fresh air to a home.
Home staging can range from simple decorative touches to repainting rooms or removing furniture. As buyers move through the house, they should have a clean, consistent experience designed to show off the home’s best features and make them want to move in immediately.
About the Author: Phil Karp is a 25-year real estate industry veteran and head of Brokerage Services at Owners.com, where you can list or buy a home while saving money in the process. Phil loves offering staging advice on how to make your house feel like a home to potential buyers.
By Jeffrey Ill, guest contributor
The “Property Brothers” Drew and Jonathan Scott have teamed up with Esurance to create “DIY Ditties,” a series of humorous videos that offer tricks to fixing common household items.
Whether it’s a clogged shower drain, crayon-graffiti walls, or rusted chrome on your beloved ride, keeping up with maintenance can seem never-ending — not to mention, require a wide assortment of (sometimes pricey) products to remedy each mishap. But what you might not know is that in many cases a solution can be found in your pantry.
For DIY aficionados and novices alike, check out these 7 household remedies for common home mishaps.
1. Unclog Showerheads with Vinegar
Mineral deposits from hard water are known to get wedged into showerheads, causing the sprayer to go helter-skelter, or reduce water pressure. Luckily, vinegar can dislodge them.
Just remove the showerhead, soak it in a bowl of warm vinegar for about an hour, and most of the deposits should dissolve. Any remaining gunk can be gently removed with a brush. After you’ve demineralized your showerhead, top it off with a good rinse and re-attach it. Fast-flowing water — and a fresh start to your day — should be restored.
2. Baking Soda — The Be All, End All
While primarily used as a leavening agent, baking soda has prodigious amounts of applications — from putting out small grease fires, to pest control, to pyrotechnics, to teeth whitening and much more.
That said, baking soda also can be a wondrous cleaning agent. Using a damp sponge or gently bristled brush, it can help remove mold from shower curtains, clean gunk out of kitchen and bathroom sinks, and remove crayon art from the walls. Plus, baking soda’s a decent mustiness-remover and is often employed to rid the malodorous effect of used books. Simply sprinkle a little baking soda in a container or bag, place the book inside, seal it up for a few hours, and – presto — the baking soda should absorb the odor. It’s kind of like magic.
3. Cleaning Chrome with Cola
You can use Coca-cola not to just quench your thirst but also as a cleaning product too. It actually does fairly well as a chrome cleaner for tarnished, old car bumpers. Simply take some regular (or diet) Coke, a piece of foil, and scrub the chrome—what you should get is a gleaming luster.
There is a caveat, though. Coke’s combination of carbonation and low pH levels can help remove rust from brass, copper and other metal alloys but may be corrosive to iron, tin and steel.
4. Substituting a Phillips Head Screw Driver
If your Phillips Head is ever stripped or missing when you need to remove a screw pronto, you might have everything you need in your kitchen drawers (or junk drawer).
First, check the kitchen drawers for a butter knife or potato peeler (of course, the duller the better in this instance). Insert the flat edge of the butter knife or the top of the peeler into the screw head’s groove and turn it counterclockwise (remember, “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”). Just be careful when you’re dealing with a stubborn screw since it can bend and damage either utensil.
If cutlery isn’t available, check your junk drawer for loose change or even an old club card, and see if either will do the trick.
5. Remove Car Scratches with Toothpaste
The Scott Brothers showed us how to clean headlights with toothpaste. But amazingly, toothpaste — particularly brands labeled with “tartar control” — can also help remove minor scratches from your ride. That’s because tartar control has grittiness, which can effectively buff out the edges of scratches.
Before applying toothpaste to the damage, be sure to clean the area first. Then, apply a liberal amount to a paper towel and spread it over damaged area. Leave it on for about ten minutes and then buff it out with a towel. Most, if not all, the damage should be gone. But if some remains, just repeat the process.
6. Deodorize the Microwave with White Vinegar
Got a foul-smelling microwave? The solution, once again, may already be in your pantry. Mix a half cup of water with a half cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it on high to bring it to a boil. Odors will likely be vanquished and congealed food splatter should be loosened, making it easier to clean.
7. Repair Wall Cracks with Super Glue and Baking Soda
In lieu of wall spackle, the marriage of super glue and baking soda makes for a pretty strong sealant. Simply add a little baking soda to a drop of super glue, apply it to the damaged portion of the wall, and then — voila. What you get is much like a pliable, plastic surface that you can sand down to evenness.
Next time you need a quick fix around the house, save yourself some time and money by heading for your cupboards before you head to the store. You might find you already have everything you need.
And now that you’ve whet your DIY appetite, check out DIY Ditties with Drew and Jonathan Scott of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” for a few more surprising DIY tips and tricks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Ill is the vice president of product at Esurance where he leads the homeowner insurance program. Being a 33-year veteran of the insurance business, he has held numerous leadership roles at major insurance companies and has been involved in a wide array of product implementations.
By Katherine Medlin, guest contributor
The entryway is a significant space within a home — it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it sets the stage for the whole vibe of the home. Buyers can form opinions on a home within seconds of opening that front door. Your clients can make a few simple changes to their entryways to make that important first impression. Here are some hot trends for 2017.
Make the front door a focal point.
The door is the first thing visitors focus on at any home’s entryway, so make it impactful. Whether you advise your clients to paint it a bold color or add gorgeous greenery via a seasonal wreath, they can complement the home’s style and make a statement within a reasonable budget.
Invest in stylish but functional furniture.
Clients can create a welcoming vignette of furniture that beckons guests to the door. Design a space for dropping keys and handbags, and a place to sit and remove shoes. Think elegant console tables with drawers (that hide the clutter), woven baskets, and an antique rug. Remind sellers that they can take these new goodies with them when they move too!
Add art to the space.
Artwork in an entryway can make a big impact. Hang a beautiful piece of artwork or photography on the wall opposite the door. Choose carefully: You don’t want to put off buyers with something overly quirky. A mirror is a great choice and will help the entryway appear larger.
Illuminate the entryway with bold lighting.
The right lighting will give a welcoming feel to the entry, while being highly functional. Add a stylish lamp to the console table, or if the home has high ceilings or a two-story stairwell, go for a beautiful chandelier or pendant light in a timeless style.
Make a statement with striking wallpaper.
Wallpaper in bold patterns is making a huge comeback. Take a cue from designers in 2017 and work with the sellers to choose a striking paper for the entryway. This will add drama to the space and add that wow factor. To appease buyers who may not be sold on the pattern, choose a temporary wallpaper instead, which can be easily removed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katherine Medlin is an art historian with a keen interest in interior design and antiques. She writes for ApartmentGuide.com and the Southern lifestyle blog Pender & Peony. She is based in Knoxville, Tenn.
Submitted by TopTenRealEstateDeals.com
As President Obama’s time in office neared its last months in 2016, their future home outside the White House was a frequent guessing game in celebrity real estate media. Most of the rumors were that the Obamas were buying a new family home in Hawaii, Palm Springs, New York City, Washington, D.C., or would be going back to their former home in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. They ended up buying for $8.1 million the home they had been renting – an 8,200-square-foot home in Washington, D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood.
Whether the Obamas stay in Washington after their youngest daughter, Sasha, graduates from high school is uncertain but one thing is likely. The former First Family’s favorite interior decorator has portable skills and will most likely follow them from home to home well into the future. With Michelle’s penchant for taupes and beiges, it’s likely the Kalorama home will be next on the list for Michael S. Smith, decorator to the stars.
Now close friends, in 2008 Smith was called upon to redecorate the new President’s private quarters in the White House, and after he and Smith’s partner James Costos raised millions for Barack Obama’s re-election, Costos was named the Ambassador to Spain. The Obamas visited the couple in Spain and also stayed with them at their home in Rancho Mirage’s Thunderbird Heights. It was this visit that sparked baseless rumors that the Obamas were house shopping in Palm Springs.
Presidents aren’t the only celebrity clients in Michael S. Smith’s client inventory. He has also designed for Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Cindy Crawford, Dustin Hoffman and Harrison Ford. Smith is known for his talent at blending historic elements with contemporary and has met with much praise for his work at the White House.
Recently a marvelous beach house came on the market in Newport Beach, California, also decorated by Smith. Opening directly onto the dunes with the Pacific Ocean lapping on the sand and exposed to some of the world’s most striking sunsets, the house was built in 1988 by Marmol Radziner in collaboration with Michael Smith Interiors. The 2,814-square-foot, two-story house optimizes the sweeping views of dunes, sand and ocean. Consisting of four bedrooms and four baths split between the two floors, the upper master suite also has a large private sun deck with panoramic views of the coastline to Catalina Island. Ideal for entertaining and stay-over guests, the open floor plan invites conversation and the oceanside glass doors that vanish into the walls give seamless access to the terrace and well-outfitted outdoor kitchen. The indoor kitchen, which includes Viking and SubZero, has a large island overlooking the living room with its high ceilings and fireplace with the dining room and another fireplace to the right including a wine and coffee bar. The two downstairs bedrooms can also be closed off and turned into a private suite for extended guest stays. Priced at $6.35 million, Tim Carr of Villa Real Estate in Newport Beach, California is the listing agent.
Visit TopTenRealEstateDeals.com for more historic, celebrity and spectacular homes and real estate news.
Article Submitted by Fixr.com
With warmer weather and longer days, summer is the ideal time of year to take on a project in or around your home. Many contractors and other pros often find this time of year a little slower, as many homeowners are waiting until fall to tackle big interior projects, which means that you’ll have an easier time finding the right person for the job.
These eight projects are designed to add value to your home, without breaking the bank at the same time. Tackling them now will make your home more comfortable for the coming months, while ensuring that you can get maximum ROI when the time comes to sell.
1. Fix Window Leaks
Air gap around your windows could be driving your air conditioning bill up higher than it needs to be this summer. Old or leaking windows can cause you to lose as much as 20% of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, which can also make it less comfortable as well.
There are two ways to fix window leaks: installing new replacement windows, or installing weatherstripping around your existing windows. While both will help you save money on your energy bills, replacement windows will also help you recoup about 73.9% ROI at time of resale.
Money Saving Tips: Get an energy audit done on your home before you start replacing windows. You may find that only a few need to be replaced, while the rest can be caulked or weatherstripped to save.
2. Basement Remodel
Remodeling your basement is a great way to increase your existing living space, without the hassle or expense of a major addition. Basements are often cooler in the hot summer months than the rest of the home, so remodeling can help you gain more usable living areas during this time of year. A basement remodel featuring things like waterproofing or french drain installations can also recoup you about 70% at time of resale.
Money Saving Tips: Simply waterproofing your basement will help make the area livable, allowing you to simply paint the concrete walls and floors, and begin furnishing the room for less.
3. Bathroom Remodel
Bathrooms are among the most frequently used rooms in the home. During the humid summer months, older bathrooms can often become home to things like mold and mildew, which makes now the best time to start remodeling. A bathroom remodel, including all new fixtures, shower, and ceramic tile can recoup you around 64.8% at time of resale, while making your home healthier and more functional at the same time.
Cost: A full scale bathroom remodel costs around $18,000. However, there are many components that can be done for less, such as installing a new bathroom fan to help dry out the room for $350 – $400 or putting in a new mirror for $120 – $150.
Money Saving Tips: Cosmetic updates to an otherwise functional bathroom can save you a lot of money. Simply painting the walls or replacing the sink and faucet can give your bathroom a facelift for less.
4. Add Attic Insulation
Another way to help lower energy costs this summer is to add some insulation to your attic. Most homes are underinsulated, particularly in this area, which can contribute to higher energy costs. Insulating your attic will make your home more comfortable, while saving you money on your AC bill this summer. Best of all, attic insulation recoups a whopping 107% at time of resale.
Cost: The cost to insulate an attic is around $400 for fiberglass insulation.
Money Saving Tips: Purchase the highest R-value you can find for your climate, and you’ll save even more on your energy bills year round.
Enjoy more time spent outdoors this summer on a new wood deck. Decks increase your usable outdoor space, make entertaining easier, and have a rate of return at around 71.5%. Start this project early in the summer to make the most of your new space before fall.
Cost: The average cost to build a new deck is around $10,630.
Money Saving Tips: If you have an existing deck, consider having it repaired, rather than replacing it. Often pressure washing and staining a deck, while replacing some of the boards can help extend its life.
6. Replace Your Roof
After a long winter filled with ice dams, your roof may be in poor condition and in need of replacement. Don’t wait until summer storms send water pouring in through your ceiling; have your roof taken care of at the start of the season to ensure that it’s in good condition for the rain to come. A new roof will help you recoup about 68.8% at time of resale as well.
Cost: The average cost of a roof replacement is around $6,000.
Money Saving Tips: If the majority of your roof is in good condition, you may want to opt for a partial replacement or roof repair to save money.
7. Replace Your Siding
Siding is just as important as your roof when it comes to both protecting your home from the elements, and to giving it its curb appeal. The nicer weather of the summer makes this the ideal time of year to take care of this important project. Replacing your siding can recoup you as much as 76.4% at time of resale. Replacing your siding can also help you take care of other issues such as rotting fascia, and can improve the appearance of your home at the same time.
Cost: The average cost of replacing your siding is around $7,510 for vinyl siding.
8. Universal Bathroom Design
Universal design is one of the newest trends that’s recouping costs in a big way. In many cases, universal design costs less than a complete bathroom remodel, but can make your home easier to sell because it appeals to a wider group of people. Take on the project this summer when plumbers aren’t as busy to get the job done faster. This type of project also recoups about 68.4% at time of resale.
Cost: The average cost of universal bathroom design is around $9,000.
Money Saving Tips: Many things in a universal bathroom can be installed DIY for less, including lever handles on faucets and a universal height toilet.
To find out more about projects you can tackle around your home, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Want to make a bigger statement with a wall? Watercolor wallpaper can add some pizzazz and wispiness to an otherwise blah wall in the home.
Pinterest called watercolor wallpaper one of the hottest trends that emerged from its home design survey in the U.K., in which the site analyzed user data from May 2016 to May 2017 to see the most popular “pins.” More homeowners seem to want to know more about watercolor wallpaper, as it was among one of the most pinned trends in home design.
It can be chic with an abstract design in one or two colors. It can add a soft colorful dimension to a wall.
But instead of leaving this job to a DIY job channeling your old grade-school watercolor skills, you can now get the effect in wallpaper to get your design just right.
Here are some photos from Houzz showing off some watercolor wallpaper:
Article Submitted by Fixr.com
The basement doesn’t just have to be a space to throw all of that extra storage. Show it as usable space, and it may even help you increase the value of the home. Basement remodels typically recoup about 70 percent of their costs at time of resale, which can add a tremendous amount of value to your home.
Making it the coolest room in the house may not be too difficult either. After all, basements tend to stay cooler during the summer months, making this an ideal place for the family to hang out when the weather heats up outside.
1. Create an In-Home Theater
Basements not only are typically cooler than the rest of the home, but they’re also usually darker. For that reason, they’re an excellent place to add a theater to watch movies on those hot summer nights. Best of all, you don’t have to do a complete basement remodel, with costs around $50,000, to gain this space. A TV mount costs around $250, while built in seating costs around $840 – $1,680. (Just be sure for safety to completely waterproof the room before running wires through the basement.)
2. Make a Children’s Play Area
Basements are often neglected areas of the home, used primarily for storage and not much else. So why not turn your unused basement space into a new playroom for your kids?
Start with the staircase. Most basements have only partially finished staircases so installing a new one will help make the space more comfortable as well as safer. Next, ensure that you have egress windows installed, and that the basement is fully waterproofed. From there, you can carpet the floors to make the space more comfortable, and move your children’s toys downstairs to make more space in their rooms.
3. Create an Adult Entertainment Space
If you love to entertain, consider building a bar into your basement. Basements are already the ideal place to install a wine cellar, so why not take it a step further and put in an entertainment area and bar for parties as well? Basements that walkout onto patios can be the ideal place for summer entertaining, giving guests a way to get in out of the heat or a summer rainstorm. Consider putting in a tile floor to give the room a finished look and keep the floors easy to clean. Match the bar countertop to the color of the floors for a fresh, stylish appearance.
4. Create a Garden Utility Room
If you spend any time out in the garden, you probably know about the dirt, tools, and pots that accompany this hobby. Basements are a great place to install a utility sink and counter, and to store all of your garden paraphernalia. Installing a french drain and a hose will make cleanup a snap, while shelving placed just beneath the windows will give your plants a place to sprout before you take them outside for the summer.
5. Create a New Family Room
Family rooms often get even more use than the more formal living room, so family rooms in a cooler basement can get a lot of use during the summer months. Basements finished as family rooms may be coveted by homebuyers too, giving you the maximum return on investment. This includes not only tiling or carpeting the floors, but also putting up drywall to complete the walls as well. Consider adding a suspended acoustic ceiling to help insulate the basement from the sounds above, while making the rooms more attractive at the same time.
To find out more about projects to tackle around the home, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.