It is time to do the Fall Home Maintenance Checklist necessary to get your home ready for winter. Be certain to turn off your hose bibs and perform the other household chores listed below around Halloween time, enjoy the treat of a nice smooth transition into winter rather than the trick to dealing with clogged downspouts and frozen pipes when the weather gets colder.
Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Turn off your house bibs. Locate the outside hose spigot and the corresponding inside area where the pipe comes into the house, most of the time that will be in the basement. Follow the pipe and turn the water supply off by turning the knob to the left or if the turn- off is a lever- pulling the lever to be perpendicular (across it) to the pipe. Then go outside and turn on the hose spigot, water will drain out of the pipe. Go back inside and armed with a cup- loosen the small metal nut next to the turn off handle, water will dribble out into the cup and replace the nut. Repeat with other hose bibs, and you have winterized your outside plumbing!
Clear out your gutters. You can get a ladder and do it yourself or hire a handyman. Cleaning the gutters will prevent ice blockages and water seeping into the house or pulling the gutters off and causing other damage.
Change your furnace filter. This should be done monthly or quarterly depending on the type of filter you install. Also consider having the HVAC system annually services at this time.
Rake the leaves on the yard and mulch. You and your neighbors will appreciate a tidy lawn even when the landscape is barren.
Replace outside lightbulbs. No one wants to get on a ladder in freezing temperatures and winter brings shorter days, you will thank yourself for the exterior lighting when you really need it.
Change the battery in your smoke detectors. Winter is a time of fireplaces, candles and light decorations, take precautions.
Plant the last bulbs in your yard. You will be delighted by the fresh colors and beauty in the spring for the work you did in the fall.
INTERIOR DESIGN TRENDS YOU MIGHT WANT TO STAY AWAY FROM
TRENDS YOU MIGHT WANT TO STAY AWAY FROM
We all want our homes to be updated and inclusive of the latest trends. But not all of them are right for everyone. We cautioned last year against open shelving in the kitchen and a few other trends that might not be right for everyone. We’ve added a few more this year.
Vanity with no storage
The hottest look in bathrooms right now is the pedestal sink with an industrial metal base. The look is upscale, hotel spa-like, simple. But the function leaves a little to be desired. If you need more storage than the ZERO shelves, drawers, and cabinets this bathroom vanity provides, this might not be the look for you.
For us, few things are as alluring as an all-marble kitchen. A huge countertop sheathed in Carrara or Calacatta is better than…well, lots of things. But there goes that function issue again. Marble requires diligence. If you’re not meticulously clean and constantly attentive to things like your kid’s juice cup or your wine glass, you could end up wishing you’d gone with quartz.
“How do you live? Are you the type of homeowner who picks up after yourself after each use in the kitchen? Or are you a busy on-the-go homeowner, where a kitchen counter wouldn’t get wiped down until the next morning?,” asked Houzz. “Acid from substances such as red wine, marinara sauce, blueberries and even lemons can tarnish the look of the marble if left to sit overnight.”
It’s beautiful, it’s bold, and it’s bound to be out of style and/or irritating the heck out of you (and/or causing seizures, depending on the strobing effect of the geometric pattern you chose) in short order. Yes, we love a good graphic pattern. On the walls even, if done right. But a choice that’s so bold can end up haunting you. Unlike paint, wallpaper isn’t a quick fix that can be changed in a couple of hours. If you’ve never spent days tearing away little pieces of paper from a wall that doesn’t want to let it go, just trust us: It’s. No. Fun.
Are brass fixtures chic and new (again) after years of chrome domination? Yes. Does that mean they will be embraced by the greater public and dominate the fixture market again? Who knows. If you’re looking to add a little sparkle to your kitchen or bathroom and don’t mind spending a little money on something that may only be a permanent change, go for it! If your goal is to make smart updates so you can list your home for sale, this might not be the place to spend the money- especially if you’re in a more conservative or traditional real estate market.
Let’s face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spent extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too. Its all about curb appeal!
The term “curb appeal” derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.
To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.
Today, curb appeal still matters — but it matters differently. Almost every buyer forms their first impression from a home’s online photos.
Instead of driving to your home, buyers will scroll through pictures of both the outside and the inside, before ever stepping foot inside. What’s more, they may never come to see it if they don’t like what they see online.
While the exterior of your home should be high on your priority list, it is most valuable only when the buyer walks up or drives by. But they may not ever get that far.
The interior also needs to show your home in its best possible light, because Web appeal has become the new curb appeal. And if your home doesn’t photograph well — either because you didn’t have it professionally shot, didn’t post high-resolution photos, or you haven’t taken the time to prep it — then curb appeal won’t even make a difference.
What sellers should do
Sellers need to spend ample time preparing the inside of their home and getting great photos, so buyers will form the best possible impression.
The downside for sellers is that they have to work so much harder than they did just 15 years ago. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing on their smartphone.
Sellers only have one chance to make a good impression. The home still needs to look good from the curb — but to get the buyers there in person, it needs to look great on the Web.
You’ve found your new home — congrats! But before you dream about settling in and cozying up on your couch for a Netflix binge, you have to actually prep for and execute that big move.
While the process of moving can be exhausting, planning your move doesn’t have to be. Check out these apps to help ease your transition into your new home — and get you closer to that movie night.
Home Inventory Photo Remote
Antsy to start planning your move, but feeling overwhelmed about where to begin? Creating an inventory of the items you intend to take with you is easy with Home Inventory Photo Remote. The app allows you to take photos of your items and then group them by category, collection and even location — keeping you so organized that none of your family members can use the excuse, “I don’t remember where anything goes!”
Once you’re unpacked, the information you’ve gathered in the app will serve as an inventory of your possessions should the unexpected happen and you have to file an insurance claim.
The My Move app lets you read moving company reviews, complete a moving checklist for every step of the process, calculate the weight of the items you plan to take with you, and more. Perfect for calculating potential costs, My Move helps you plan your move on your own terms — and your budget.
Moving Checklist Pro
If you’re just looking for a thorough moving checklist, Moving Checklist Pro comes with a list of 200+ common household moving items, and you can add your own, too. Creating your own custom lists — such as schools to research, services to cancel or items to return — ensures that you’ll never forget a thing. And if you find that this app doesn’t quite meet your needs, Jimbl Software Labs will even refund your purchase.
Once your moving itinerary is planned and you’re on the road, Gogobot is a must to download. Referred to as “a Pandora for travel” by TechCrunch and named “one of the best free apps for travel” by Mom Aboard, Gogobot offers you personalized recommendations on where to eat, play and stay wherever you are on your moving journey.
Moving can be a pain, but these apps can make it a bit less of a headache. No need to wait until you have a moving date to try, though. Download a few of our favorite moving help apps today and see which one best meets your moving need.
If you’ve never seen the work of professional stagers—those magical designer/decorators charged with making your house more marketable—prepare to be mystified, enthralled, and maybe a bit scared.
Did we say “scared”? Prepping your home for getting the best offer possible means removing every shred of your personality from rooms, walls, floors, and ceilings so that potential buyers can imagine themselves in your place. Stagers favor neutral walls, simple layouts, and minimal artwork. (No purple living rooms or gallery wall allowed!)
“There’s a big difference between designing for someone’s tastes and remerchandizing a home to appeal to as many people as possible,” says Kathy Burke of Sensational Home Staging in Danville, CA. Getting it right is a critical and enigmatic art. Don’t panic! We got some stagers to reveal their secrets to help you navigate the process.
1. Don’t take it personally
We know you love the way you set up your living room. That eclectic collection of wicker baskets from all your European travels stacked up in the corner? It’s the perfect detail for you—but not for your stager. Not even close. Home stagers wish you knew- a little goes a long way.
So here’s the thing: When they tell you what to change (and they absolutely will), don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean they think your style is awful. Not necessarily, anyway.
“It’s not about whether I like something or not,” Burke says. “It’s about how we’re going to present it. I know what photographs well and what looks dated.”
Her favorite clients are the ones who know tough feedback is coming and don’t care: “I walk in and they say, ‘You can’t hurt my feelings. Do whatever you want.’”
2. Toss your stuff, and disconnect emotionally
For many sellers, home staging will be the first time they realize they’re really, actuallymoving. Family pictures come down, the sofa goes into storage, and suddenly this place you called yours is looking less and less like you.
If you need to do some emotional processing, we understand: It’s hard to put your family home on the market. But don’t subject your stager to your stress. Detach. Chill out. Help the process, don’t hinder or fight it. Keep your eye on the prize: selling your home at the right price, to the right buyers, within the right time frame.
What does that really mean? Try removing as much of your stuff as possible before the stager comes. By tackling spring cleaning you’ll not only accomplish some necessary decluttering before your move, but you’ll also get used to the idea that this is no longer your home.
“We need to make sure that they’re truly ready to sell their house,” says David Peterson of Synergy Staging based in Portland, OR. “That’s a big part of emotionally disconnecting.”
3. Move out (if you can)
Both Peterson and Burke find staging a home vastly easier when it’s vacant. If you can afford to move out when the home goes on the market, do it.
“It’s easier for them, it’s easier on their pets, and it’s easier on the buyer,” Burke says. “We can create one cohesive look and don’t have to blend anything.”
Occupied houses present more of a challenge (and take substantially more time): Stagers have to accommodate daily living, as well as risk the homeowner not preserving their layout (or any rented furniture).
Occupied homes can even cost more to stage. “It’s just a lot more work, timewise, when the owners are still living in the place,” Burke says.
“Much of what I’m doing is to appeal to people through photographs,” Burke says. “I hope that photo will touch people and they’ll say, ‘That’s going on my short list.’”
Peterson aims to be the “last person in before the photographers. We want those pictures to look great.”
But no one wants the buyers to be disappointed with the home’s real-life presentation after seeing photos online. So here’s a bonus: If you’re staying in the property, make sure to keep it in tiptop shape.
5. Get your money’s worth
Staging isn’t a last-minute addition before your home officially goes on the market. Stagers work far in advance and can’t always fit in last-minute work. Costs start around $1,250, depending on your state of residence, square footage, and what—if any—furniture you rent, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.
That might seem like a lot of money to spend on a home you’re about to sell, but both Burke and Peterson say staging is an investment with a very high return. “Anything we put in, we want to make sure you’re getting your money back,” Burke says.
6. Stay on schedule
Don’t dillydally on making the recommended changes for your stager, who can’t begin rearranging until you’ve finished renovating. Usually the requested changes are small (new paint, fixing chipped tiles in the bathroom, etc.).
Not finishing small jobs on time can push the entire project back.
“If we get there and a place hasn’t been cleaned, or there’s still a painting crew, we can’t do our jobs. Then we have to charge them a fee, leave, and then reschedule,” Peterson says. “If we’re booked out several weeks, it really makes it hard.” And maybe even more expensive. So get moving.
Today nearly all home searches begin on a mobile phone or tablet— not on the Web, and not using the newspaper.
If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure that you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices.
2) Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment”
Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.
When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial.
If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.
3) Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling
Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?
Many sellers list their home before they are truly ready to sell, only to shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing it or not presenting it to the market in its best possible light. A stale listing is often overlooked by buyers and real estate agent alike.
4) Make the best impression online
Nothing frustrates an active and aggressive buyer more than getting an email or mobile notification alert for a new property listing only to get to the listing and not see any photos.
Buyer first impressions today are on the Internet. If you list your home without complete information — including photos, description and accurate data — not only will you turn them off, but they may simply not come back later.
5) Be ready to leave- with your pet!
Keep your home neat and clean and odor free and be ready to leave when an agent wants to show it to a prospective buyer, whether it is convenient or not. Listen to your agent’s advice and tips for selling your house. Your goal is to sell your home and move forward.
Full Disclosure: What You Need To Tell Buyers About Your Home
Whether you have owned your home for a few years or a few decades, you know its quirks, best features and flaws. When you morph from homeowner to home seller you need to be aware that your experience with your home is something you may have to share with potential buyers.
Most buyers opt to have a home inspection before they finalize their purchase, but you as the seller must also follow state and federal regulations regarding disclosure of known facts about your property’s condition.
As a seller you may feel uncomfortable revealing problems in your home that could discourage potential buyers, but it’s best to be open about issues before your home goes under contract. A home inspector is likely to find problems and the buyers will be less favorably inclined to negotiate with you if they feel you have withheld information. If a flaw is found after the sale is complete and the buyers have reason to believe you were aware of the problem, you could face a lawsuit.
Federal disclosure Rules
The majority of disclosure issues are handled by state regulations, but federal laws apply to one area: lead paint. If your home was built prior to 1978, it may contain lead paint. Your home must be checked for lead paint and a disclosure form completed unless your home was built after 1978.
State Disclosure Rules
State regulations vary and often change, so rely on Tracy Tkac and Lindy Gelb at Washington Homes Group to be up-to-date on disclosure requirements for your area. Some states allow sellers to complete a disclosure form listing information about their home, or a disclaimer form that says the sellers don’t have any information about issues in the property.
In some areas you need to disclose what you know about natural hazards such as whether your home is in a flood zone or in an area known for earthquakes; other required disclosures can involve pollution issues, prospective zoning changes or the fact that a home is located within a historic district.
Another issue that sometimes causes problems is when a home has been a crime scene or if someone died on the property. Sellers may not want to disclose this for fear of stigmatizing the property, but if the buyers find out later they can sue if they believe the property’s history will hurt its resale value.
Sellers should be aware that some issues are particularly important, such as previous problems with mold; the foundation; termites; and electrical, plumbing or roof issues. If you have made repairs to your property, it’s usually best to disclose the information when you list your home for sale, even if local regulations don’t require you to do so.
Impact of Disclosure
Most sellers are aware of the benefit of letting prospective buyers know about positive features of their home such as new appliances or a new roof, but there can also be a benefit in disclosing defects in your home. Any issue that you have addressed during the years in your home can provide proof that you’ve kept up with maintenance. You may want to provide a binder with receipts and insurance claim information to show buyers what work has been done on your home.
If there’s an ongoing problem that buyers will need to handle, it’s better for them to hear about it from you so you can negotiate about when repairs must be made and who will pay for them. In fact, if you have a particular concern about your home, you may want to hire a home inspector yourself to get to the details before you put your property on the market.
For more information and the home selling process, call Tracy Tkac 301-437-8722
If you’re looking to do some home improvement projects this year, sprucing up the outside of your home is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, according to the 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report released this month.
The report, an annual collaboration between Remodeling magazine and REALTOR® Magazine, compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 101 U.S. cities.
Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally, in terms of value recouped, are exterior projects.
“With many factors to consider such as cost and time, deciding what remodeling projects to undertake can be a difficult decision for homeowners,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., REALTORS® in Dayton, Ohio. “REALTORS® know what home features are important to buyers in their area, but a home’s curb appeal is always critical since it’s the first impression for potential buyers.”
A steel entry door replacement was deemed the project expected to have the biggest return on investment, with an estimated 96.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. This particular remodel project is consistently the least expensive in the annual Cost vs. Value Report, at around $1,100 on average.
Excited to dive in?
301-437-8722/ 202-364-1700 Real Estate Professional Licensed in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, DC