How to Get a Home Ready for an Open House

Laura Tiffany, an associate with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Minneapolis, recommends the following preparation tips for opens:

• Box up knick-knacks, family mementos, and books to create a neutral environment.
• Remove excess furniture to make the rooms seem more spacious.
• Thoroughly clean carpets, windows, closets, and ovens.
• Assess needed household repairs and make them.
• Clear debris from sidewalks, decks, and driveways.
• Get a qualified heating specialist to certify that the furnace is in good condition.
• Replace dated kitchen and bathroom hardware and fixtures.
• Remove heavy curtains that block light.
• Repaint rooms that look dull using a neutral color such as cream or tan.
• Refinish worn hardwood floors.
• Paint the front door and buy a new welcome mat.


April 15, 2010 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Ten Inexpensive Ways to Wow Buyers

According to an article by Luke Mullins in the U.S. News & World Report (01/21/2010) there are ten inexpensive ways to wow buyers.

Now is the time for home owners contemplating a spring sale to spruce up their properties in anticipation of what Mike Larson of Weiss Research calls a potentially vibrant home-selling season. “If you have been beating your head against a wall, this is going to feel a lot better,” he jokes.

Here are 10 cheap ways to make a property more attractive to shoppers.

1. Improve first impressions. Touch up the paint on the front door and other areas that buyers see first.
2. Clean up the landscaping. Trim the hedges and trees and plant some annuals in the flowerbeds.
3. Paint the interior. A coat of light yellow or cream with contrasting white woodwork looks fresh and clean.
4. Refurbish the floors. Buff the hardwoods. Install new carpets – or at least get them professionally cleaned.
5. Take care of the big problems. If the house needs a roof or the front stoop is crumbling, get them fixed.
6. Buy warranties. Putting appliances under warranty gives homebuyers a secure feeling.
7. Improve energy efficiency. New windows or improved insulation tell a potential buyer the seller is on top of things plus they come with tax benefits.
8. Replace light fixtures. Updated fixtures, especially at the entrance way and in the foyer, create a good first impression.
9. Buy a stove. Home owners whose kitchen isn’t top of the line can jazz it up for a few hundred dollars by buying a new stove, which gives the room a fresh feel.
10. Tidy up the bathrooms. Get rid of mildew, replace caulking and replace stained sinks.

January 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

Top 5 Home Improvement Projects Based on Cost and Return on Investment, one of the first websites to offer Web-based free instant home values, announced that it has released the results of its nationwide home improvement and home staging Home Sale Maximizer survey. HomeGain’s recent survey shows the top do-it-yourself home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers.

HomeGain received responses from nearly 1,000 Realtors nationwide and configured a list of the top 12 do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvements that cost under $5,000 and benefit sellers most when they sell their homes.

According to the HomeGain survey, the top five home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers based on cost and return on investment (from highest to lowest ROI) are:

1. Cleaning and de-cluttering ($200 cost / $1,700 price increase / 872% ROI)
2. Home staging ($300 cost / $1,780 price increase / 586% ROI)
3. Lightening and brightening ($230 cost / $1,300 price increase / 572% ROI)
4. Landscaping ($320 cost / $1,500 price increase / 473% ROI)
5. Repairing plumbing ($385 cost / $1,250 price increase / 327% ROI)

Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2000), recommended by 98% of Realtors, costing less than $200 and returning a value of nearly $1,700 to the home’s sale price, or an 872% return on investment.

“Many Realtors agree, especially in a buyer’s market, that sellers who make these recommended home improvements often get their homes sold faster and at higher prices,” stated Louis Cammarosano, General Manager at HomeGain. “We have customized our Home Sale Maximizer online home improvement tool to help identify and prioritize the projects that can increase the salability and selling price of a home.”

Rounding out the top 12, the list of low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements includes: updating electrical, replacing or shampooing carpets, painting interior walls, repairing damaged floors, updating kitchen, painting outside of home, and updating bathroom/s.

The home improvement projects with the highest price increases to a home’s resale value are updating the kitchen ($1,200 cost / $2,850 price increase), followed by painting the outside of the home ($900 cost / $1,815 price increase) and home staging ($300 cost / $1,780 price increase).

“Inexpensive cosmetic home improvements and basic improvements greatly enhance the value of the home,” stated Carol Wilson of Carpenter Real Estate in Indianapolis, IN, HomeGain AgentEvaluator member since 1999.

For more information, visit

November 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm 1 comment

Study Finds 20% of Mortgages Underwater

According to Reuters News nearly 20 percent of home owners owe more on their homes than their properties are worth, finds a new study by First American CoreLogic.

About 8.31 million properties were underwater at the end of 2008, up 9 percent from 7.63 million at the end of September.

Corelogic predicts about 2.16 million properties will be underwater if home prices fall another 5 percent.

The problem is the worst in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio.

Nationwide, 68 percent of U.S. adults own their own homes, and about two-thirds have mortgages.

March 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

Top 5 Preferences for Kitchen, Bathroom, and More

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ Consumer Preferences survey, these are the features most in demand among today’s buyers.

Top 5 Kitchen Features

  1. Walk in pantry: 86 percent
  2. Island work area: 80 percent
  3. Special use storage (custom made for appliances): 66 percent
  4. Built-in microwave: 72 percent
  5. Drinking water filtration: 69 percent

Top 5 Bathroom Features

  1. Linen closet: 89 percent
  2. Exhaust fan: 88 percent
  3. Separate shower enclosure: 79 percent
  4. Water temperature control: 79 percent
  5. Whirlpool tub: 66 percent

Top 5 Specialty Areas

  1. Laundry room: 92 percent
  2. Dining room: 81 percent
  3. Home office: 71 percent
  4. Den/library: 63 percent
  5. Sun room: 53 percent

Top 5 Decorative Features

  1. Ceiling fan: 83 percent
  2. Built-in shelving: 70 percent
  3. Window seats: 51 percent
  4. Woodburning fireplace: 48 percent
  5. Gas fireplace: 48 percent

Top 5 Community Features Preferred

  1. Walking/jogging trails: 49 percent
  2. Park area: 46 percent
  3. Outdoor swimming pool: 39 percent
  4. Lake: 34 percent
  5. Playgrounds: 32 percent

January 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

Provincial real estate sales down by one-third in 2008

The British Columbia Real Estate Association reported today that the decline in real estate markets didn’t just affect the Lower Mainland phenomenon in 2008 as the province as a whole saw sales drop by one-third .

Realtors recorded 68,923 sales across B.C. through the Multiple Listing Service, their lowest level since 2000, the BCREA said, when the province recorded 54,179 sales.

The average home price over the 12 months of 2008 was $454,599, a 3.5-per-cent increase from 2007.

BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir said the average price peaked in March at $483,291, and fell 11 per cent to $429,210 in December.  And that $429,210 average is six per cent lower than the average price in December, 2007.

January 12, 2009 at 11:09 pm Leave a comment

Nine Real Estate Trends in 2009

According to an article published by RISMedia, there are nine real estate trends to watch this year. While specific to the Chicago market I think they are common to many cities in North America.

  1. Less, With More. Single-family homebuilders are predicting the continued movement toward smaller homes, with many buyers opting for less square footage as a means of saving more, said Jim Chittaro, chief financial officer for Naperville-based J. Lawrence Homes. “Rather than paying more for square footage, they’re taking inventory of how much home they really need and deciding to go with a “quality over quantity” approach and adding features like a spa bath or gourmet kitchen that they’ll enjoy for years to come.”
  2. The New American Dream. Homeownership has long been considered one of life’s benchmarks, so much so, that the concept earned the moniker, “The American Dream.” However, in today’s economic climate, realizing that dream is no longer an option for many people.
  3. Urban Suburban. For years, a new-construction home in the suburbs meant moving into a cookie-cutter subdivision. But according to many suburban developers, their focus going forward won’t be simply building homes, but entire downtowns complete with residential, retail, restaurants and more.
  4. Condo-MAX-iums. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the average single-family home is 2,456 square feet. However, Chicagoland’s developers have noticed buyers – from young families to downsizers – are looking for the same amount of square feet when buying a condominium. “What we’re finding is that downsizers don’t really want to downsize at all. They’re accustomed to the design of a single-family home and don’t want to sacrifice space,” said Bob Horner, co-principal of Winthrop Properties. “Rather, they seek the maintenance-free lifestyle and single-level living offered by a condo.”
  5. Online Toolboxes. According to the 2007 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 84% of buyers use the Internet to search for a new home. Taking a cue from these findings, leading Chicagoland residential brokerage firms will be taking their services a step further by enhancing their sites with user-friendly Web tools that do much more than list homes for sale.
  6. Common Ground. In the city, where green space is as high in demand as a parking space, some developers will start going the extra “yard” to give Chicagoans more outdoor community spaces.
  7. The Sure Thing. With the real estate market in turmoil, buyers will be betting on the sure thing, said Ibrahim Shihadeh, co-principal of Winthrop Properties, developer of Printers Corner in the South Loop. “With our building complete and immediate move-ins available, sales momentum has been strong,” he said. “We’re one of the few buildings in the area ready for move-in. Until things smooth out a bit, buyers will continue to opt for developments that are complete or nearly complete rather than risk something that won’t come to fruition or won’t be as it was promised.”
  8. The Resurgence of Rowhomes. Dating back to colonial Philadelphia and Boston, the rowhome is a hallmark of traditional city living. But at Port Clinton Place, a new-construction for-sale community in Vernon Hills developed by Opus North, and the Residences at the Grove, a 294-unit luxury rental community in Downers Grove, managed by RMK, even suburban residents will be enjoying the urban flavor of this classic housing style. “Rowhomes were born out of practicality, as their shared walls made it possible to fit more homes in densely-populated urban areas. But today, many suburban buyers are choosing these homes for their urban style and overall aesthetic appeal,” said Andrew Lockwood, real estate director for Opus North. “It’s a housing style that’s particularly appropriate at Port Clinton Place, which is part of a redevelopment plan to revitalize downtown Vernon Hills. Eventually this area will be a lively town center, much like the city neighborhoods where rowhomes first became popular.”
  9. Creating Community. Many developers today are taking strides to form a sense of community among new residents before their homes are built – a trend that is expected to continue into 2009.

January 5, 2009 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

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