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.
The things we consider to be must-have home features are constantly changing—less than a half-century ago, plush, “can’t see my feet” shag carpeting (in bold colors such as gold, orange, and purple) was all the rage, and kitchen appliances came in coordinating hues. A quarter-century ago there was no HGTV to tell us to knock down a wall to open up the kitchen or swap out bathroom vanities. And just a few years back, tiny homes were just, well, really small homes.
We wondered what home qualities are must-haves right now, what the up-and-comers are, and what’s heading straight for the dustbin of home features history. To find out, our data team dug deep into our millions of listings and sifted out the most commonly used phrases for home features, going back five years.
Voila! Here are the 20 features that are most often touted in our listings. These are the stuff that home dreams are made of—a mixture of classic favorites and rising stars.
At first glance, the results aren’t too surprising. After all, who doesn’t love fireplaces and wood floors? (Well, other than those who prefer carpet, which is No. 3.)
“Rather than a barometer of trends, those are really adoptioncycles,” says Javier Vivas, data analyst at realtor.com®. “It’s more about how long it takes a particular new feature to become prevalent. It’s like car technology: First you see the cutting-edge stuff in luxury cars, then it spreads into the mainstream.”
Listings have gotten ever-more detailed and adorned in recent years, and certain features appear more and more often as selling points. So popularity among listing descriptions is kind of like being listed on the S&P 500—it shows that a feature is no passing trend. For example, granite countertops, once a splurge, are now a go-to feature—they’ve shot up from being mentioned in 8% of listings in 2011 to 13% today.
Got it? Good. Let’s go home shopping! Don’t forget to bring your checkbook.
Fireplace (No. 1)
On a chilly night, nothing competes with snuggling up near a crackling fire—or maybe it’s the hissing, considering that the leading type of fireplace mentioned in 3.2% of our listings is gas. After all, it’s easy to clean and maintain and comes in some cool modern designs. Still, there’s nothing like the charm of a wood-burning fireplace, and its popularity is picking up fast.
And in total, fireplaces—wood-burning, gas, brick, stone, or kiva—are the stars of 23.8% of our listings.
Always popular, the classic elegance of a wood floor continues to gain ground, particularly since last year. Not surprisingly, carpeting’s popularity seems to rise and fall in opposition to wood. It’s made a comeback before, but wood seems to be pulling ahead. In 2015, wood floors appeared in 15% of listing descriptions, 2 percentage points ahead of carpet.
Meanwhile, the tile floor—though never a major contender for the top spot—has slipped from No. 4 in 2011 (when it beat out walk-in closet and open floor plan) to today’s No.10. Still, it will probably hold onto its niche in humid, warm climates such as that of Florida.
Granite counter (No. 4)
Once a rare luxury, granite has become more affordable and is now practically standard for anyone who gives a hoot about kitchen design. It shot to fame quickly over the past five years, making its slick presence felt in 13% of all listings. For those who think all this trendy granite craziness is on the wane, reports of its death, as Mark Twain might (or might not!) have said, are greatly exaggerated—at least according to our listings data.
Stainless-steel appliances (No. 5)
With their elegant and modern appearance fitting into almost any kitchen design, stainless-steel appliances have made their way into more and more households since the 1990s. “Stainless” is now mentioned in 9% of all listings, almost double its share of five years ago.
Open floor plan (No. 6) vs. formal dining room (No. 8)
A house divided? Not these days. Separate living rooms, dining areas, and kitchens have been edged out by the open floor plan, which knocks down or eliminates walls to create a sense of spaciousness and light.
The open floor plan has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and in 2014 it surpassed the formal dining room for the first time. In 2015, an open floor plan is the fifth most popular feature, representing 8% of listings. The much-debated open kitchen, which encompasses the dining as well as the cooking area, also made it onto the list at No. 9.
Walk-in closet (No. 7)
In a time of over-the-top “glam rooms” dedicated to, um, getting ready, the walk-in closet is another feature that has seemingly gone from luxe to a near necessity. Stashing all your clothes in a shallow closet with hangers crammed together and no shelves? How primitive! It’s no wonder 7% of home listings mention walk-in closets as a big selling point.
Chef’s kitchen (No. 16) vs. open kitchen (No. 10)
The kitchen used to be all business—a place to churn out meals, nothing more. Again, we’ll point the finger at TV—not just HGTV, but also the Food Network—for fueling homeowners’ desire for a kitchen worthy of a chef, featuring a center island, a large stove/oven with hood, and granite or marble counters (see No. 3).
And it’s not just for cooking, but also for hanging out while you prepare the meal—especially if you have an open kitchen, touted in 5.7% of listings. We’ll also point out that five of the top 20 home features are kitchen-related.
Garden tub (No. 20)
No, a garden tub is not set amid the lovely and fragrant rose beds so you can bathe in the open air (and get bitten by insects). The term generally refers to a wider and deeper bathtub that usually has steps but no jets. Nice! Providing a relaxing soaking experience with less cost and cleaning difficulty, the garden tub has gained popularity over the years, but it’s still a niche feature.
We’ve talked about features that have made their way into the mainstream, but we also saw a couple that are clearly on their way out:
House with vinyl siding
Vinyl siding was once one of the most popular cladding choices, because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. But over the years it’s become something of a gauche punch line in some quarters. It’s no wonder its lead has slipped substantially in recent years, while fiber cement is gaining ground, according to PlasticsNews.com.
Oak and cherry cabinets
The last time honey oak cabinets were trending, Monica-gate was a thing, Will Smith was the prince of Bel-Air, and Y2K loomed as the biggest threat the world faced. Yes, the ’90s were particularly friendly to oak cabinetry and cherry wasn’t far behind, popularitywise, but those days are long past. Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find either in listings or in new home construction. But maple cabinets? Welcome to the future!
A home sale typically comes as a result of a life change or a major decision. These decisions don’t usually happen overnight, providing homeowners with years to plan for a successful home sale. By using your time wisely, you will maximize your home’s value when you want to list and sell.
On your way to this point, you should be open to spending money in getting ready to sell. Investing in strategic home improvements will help facilitate a quicker and more profitable sale.
Selling a home is a large financial and emotional transaction — likely the largest in a lifetime. This makes strategic planning and counsel vital. Here are some steps you should take a year or more before you plan to list your home.
Connect with a local real estate agent
Real estate agents shouldn’t just show up, list a home, hold an open house and move on. Instead, they should be valuable assets to you years before listing. Connecting with a local agent and developing a relationship well in advance allows you to start learning the market and transitioning from the mindset of a homeowner to that of a seller.
A good agent will provide helpful information, advice and assistance on an ongoing basis, in hopes of working with you on the eventual sale. Work with an agent who can connect you to local resources like inspectors, painters and other service providers.
An agent can also assess your home’s condition and suggest small to medium-sized improvements that will help boost your home’s value. Prioritize these projects for the months or years leading up to the sale.
Have a formal property inspection
For a few hundred dollars, you can have a licensed property inspector assess the home’s major systems and components. You can take this step up to two years before you will list your home.
Why would you want to have someone come and point out your home’s flaws before selling? Because it’s better to know about any issues upfront so you can address them before your potential buyer discovers them.
Additionally, you can put a financial plan in place to pay for any needed fixes. Dry rot on your back deck could cost $500 to remedy now, but you’d be better off handling it now than having a buyer see it as a major decking/structural issue and request $5,000 when you are weeks away from closing and your back’s against the wall.
A year before you will list, spend the extra time and money ensuring that your home both appeals to mainstream buyers and passes a potential buyer’s property inspection.
If your agent suggests cosmetic fixes like laying new carpet, painting cabinets or cleaning the yellow grout in the bathroom, put a plan in place to tackle each of the projects. Waiting to the last minute will be too stressful, plus you won’t get the enjoyment out of the cosmetic fixes.
If you know your roof is at the end of its life, it might be more economical to replace it so that you can advertise a new roof. Today’s buyers want homes that are move-in ready. They don’t have the time or resources to take on projects. The more issues you can resolve for them, the more successful your sale.
Get a home warranty
A home warranty is like a one-year insurance policy that addresses your major (and minor) appliances and most systems. If something breaks, you can call the home warranty company, not the appliance repair technician or plumber. For a small co-pay, they will come out and repair or replace the item swiftly.
If your home has some issues, a home warranty is a great way to address them without having to spend weeks or months shopping around, getting bids for work and seeing through each repair. A warranty works well when you list the home and are too busy to call around getting bids.
Moving is tough, in and of itself. Add prepping a home for sale and your move becomes more emotional and stressful. Planning ahead can help you address issues in advance.
Don’t wait until the last minute, or you risk leaving money on the table. Meet with an agent early on and put a timeline in place to get the most of your home’s sale — fast.
In a strong market, if a home is priced right and shows well, it should sell within the first six weeks. If it doesn’t, many sellers become frustrated, especially if their agent begins pushing for a price reduction. The seller may think the agent just wants a quick sale, but the agent sincerely wants to help the seller get action. Agents understand that a listing loses momentum and excitement soon after being listed. Buyers will think of a home as stale, tired, or flawed if it sits on the market too long. Agents and buyers alike will view the stale listing as a problem home- and wonder why it has sat and often will be overlooked and not shown. It is important to price your home right for your best financial outcome.
If your home is not generating offers, there are ways to get more action.
Home Condition, Updates and Price
You can’t change your home’s location, but you do have some control over the other two important buyer considerations. If the home is still sitting on the market after a couple of months, and especially if it has had no showings or offers, you need to look at the price and the condition. The most activity a new listing will receive happens in the first two weeks, and sellers are likely to get the best price at that time.
You have two big choices to make if you are ready to sell. The first is to take the home off the market and make some changes, such as more staging, de-cluttering, and altering the look of the kitchens and bathrooms.
If you are unwilling or unable to make the needed changes to the home, the other option is to reduce the price. Even if your house is the absolute best home in the neighborhood but the setting is not private or on a busy road , the only option will be to drop the price.
Make sure you and your agent are on the same page
Your agent is a professional and has experience and knowledge that will benefit you, however, you are the home owner and all decisions are ultimately yours. If you and your agent don’t see eye-to-eye on the pricing or sales strategy prior to listing, it might be time to find another agent. While it is your job to prepare your home for the day it becomes “active” on the listing service and internet, it is the agents job to be completely prepared as well. Your agent should be very clear about the service and timeline you should expect. The agent should research and the homework regarding sold homes prices, days on market for similar homes and the difference in upgrades, updates and condition between your home and others that are on the market now or have recently sold. You should be consulted on when your home will be photographed, what marketing will be done and where it will appear, open houses, brochures, and plans for the sign post. Your agent should diligently follow up will all agents who have showed the house and all interested parties.
Discuss your intentions and plan with your agent upfront, and listen to her feedback. Reducing the listed price may be necessary- but you will have to see firsthand how the market works in your neighborhood. Listen to the feedback your agent is gathering and reporting to you, and take action to address repeated criticisms.
It is so important to work with an agent who is understands the area market and will work with your strategy and can help you adapt to sell your home for the best price.
First impressions mean everything — especially when it comes to viewing a potential home. As visual beings, a cluttered space or a jarring wall color can be enough to make us turn around and walk out the door.
Successfully staged spaces provide two effects: they give a home an aesthetic appeal, and offer buyers an opportunity to dream themselves into the space.
If there’s one thing professional stagers know about designing spaces that appeal to buyers, it’s the art of selecting great decor pieces while utilizing space. The goal is making the most positive impact.
Here are five helpful staging tips a professional interior designer used to turn a listing into a sold home in no time.
Know your audience
Staging is less about your personal style, and all about the buyer or renter you’re trying to attract. You must always know your audience in order to create a successful staging design.
Discuss this matter with the broker, and research the neighborhood to understand the demographic that will be looking to purchase or rent your home.
Pack up the photos first
You want the potential buyer or renter to be able to envision themselves living in the space, but that’s a bit difficult when someone else’s family photos line the walls. Put all family photos away in a safe place to allow room for visitors to imagine themselves in the space.
Don’t be afraid of trends
While it’s true that some trends have a short lifespan, in staging the risk may be worth it. The timeline for renting or selling is typically short enough for design trends to thrive while a home is on the market.
So, if you’re itching to try out all the Mediterranean Santorini blue accents popping up lately, go for it. Trendy designs and colors will give the home a current, fresh look.
A little color goes a long way
The goal in staging is to enhance a space, not distract from it. Usually a safe bet is to create a neutral space that any person, regardless of their taste, can appreciate. Bold colors and daring decor could be loved by some and loathed by others.
For instance, walking into an overwhelming yellow bedroom can make potential buyers forget all about those beautiful marble counters in your kitchen. The last thing you want is for buyers to remember your staged space as “the one with that tacky yellow room.”
That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of color. A trendy color applied in a tasteful way could leave buyers referring to the home as “the one with the gorgeous teal wall.”
Show how livable the space is
The most important reason for staging is to show the full potential of how a space can be used. You should try to bring in as many functional pieces as possible while not overcrowding the space.
Steer clear of oversized or bulky furniture. Details like this make a space feel cluttered and dysfunctional. Opt for full size beds with two night stands, armless side chairs, lifted case goods and round, pedestal-base tables.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to complete the picture. Even if you think a dining table crowds the space, at least show a two-seat dining set, as it’s more important to show that it could work than leave it out entirely.
The final thing to keep in mind is that staging doesn’t have to break the bank. Be creative and consider DIY options when you’re designing your space. In most cases, just keep these tips in mind and remember: Less is more. A few simple changes and you’ll be on your way to a space that other people are eager to live in.
Photos courtesy of Rayon Richards Photography. BY ZILLOW
Letting your house slip behind your neighbors’ could lower your home value and cost you when you sel
Is your home the neighborhood slacker? If you’ve lived there for years without making many improvements, there’s a good chance your house is starting to fall out of sync with the others on your block.
“You never want to exceed the neighborhood norm, but you definitely want to stay up with it,” says John Bredemeyer, an appraiser in Omaha.
Must-haves and deal breakers
Home shoppers have strong opinions about what they do — and don’t — want in a house.
BUYERS WHO WANT
Bathroom linen closet
BUYERS WHO DON’T WANT
Source: National Association of Home Builders, 2013
Bringing your home up to speed doesn’t have to mean a massive, six-figure renovation. Small-scale projects that address some typical flaws of older homes can do double duty: They’ll make your home more attractive when it’s time to sell, and turn it into a more comfortable place for you to live.
These three upgrades all cost $5,000 or less.
Expand your closets. Homes built before the mid-1970s often share a frustrating problem: nowhere to put stuff. Small, one-rod closets are a prime offender and a big turnoff for buyers, says Rockaway, N.J., realtor Ellen Klein. Make the most of these spaces by installing an organizing system equipped with additional rods, shelves, baskets, and more, available at big-box home stores (starting at $50 per closet). For those who would prefer to use a pro, firms like California Closets handle the installation, starting at $500 or so.
Look for places to add closets or other storage areas. Building a closet into the existing footprint of a room usually costs less than $2,000. If you have a bedroom with a centered window, Jason Gettum, a design and remodeling contractor in Indianapolis, suggests installing a closet on each side and creating a window seat between them.
No extra room in the bedroom? You may be able to break through the wall into a smaller room or an unused space that can be converted into a closet. Expect to spend at least $2,500.
Open up the kitchen. Today’s kitchens serve as a favorite spot for families and guests to congregate, but that hasn’t always been the case. “Previously the only thing that happened in kitchens was cooking,” says Bredemeyer, noting that in older homes the room is often small and closed off.
Say you’re already planning to renovate or at least freshen up your kitchen with new countertops or appliances; you may want to expand the project to include removing the wall between the kitchen and dining or living area.
Assuming you don’t need to move pipes or build new structural support, the removal will most likely add $2,000 to $5,000, including the cost of refinishing the affected floor, ceiling, and walls.
Some kitchens may already have an opening into the next room, often created by a “peninsula” countertop that extends from one wall. But when this area is lined with overhead cabinets, the room can still feel boxed in. Having these cupboards removed is relatively simple and should cost only $500 to $1,000. Worried about losing storage space? Max out your remaining cabinets by installing dividers or roll-out drawers, says Bredemeyer.
Home routines tend to come to a standstill while your home is on the market. The need to keep the house clean – and not scare potential homebuyers away – means that kids can’t throw their back packs on the dining room table, the sink must be free of dirty dishes and everyone must hang their towel and put away their clothes.
Keeping the house clean is a good first step toward presenting the home in the best light. But it isn’t the only step, start with 5 Tips For The Best Home Showings below.
Have you ever walked into a home and been immediately assaulted by nasty odors? Cigarettes, grease, cooking odors, diapers and pets all leave their mark on the way a home smells. While it’s almost impossible to rid the home of cigarette smoke without painting, there are ways to get rid of other odors.
Have the carpets professionally cleaned and deodorized.
Launder or dry-clean all curtains and drapes.
Consider having your upholstered furniture professionally cleaned.
Clean the grease from the range hood.
Keep the dog bathed and groomed to keep doggy smells at bay.
Place dishes of potpourri or scented candles in random areas throughout the home.
We become habituated to certain things, including sounds. Turn the T’V. off. Make certain that pesky faucet is repaired and not dripping and the toilet is not running. Your lovely teenager should not share his/her music while your home is being shown.
Play some music, softly, while the home is being shown.
Play a sound-effects CD softly in the background.
Light and bright are the operative words when considering the ideal way to present your home to buyers.
Change all the light bulbs in the home to higher wattage bulbs. Leave the lights on for showings, including closet lights.
Paint the walls a neutral color- not stark white but an off white . If you can’t paint, clean the walls.
Remove heavy drapes and replace them with lightweight fabric that allows natural light into the home.
Don’t neglect the outside of the house. Before a showing, make sure your front door is clean or freshly painted and that the planting beds look clean and attractive and that the lawn is mowed.
4. Set the Scene
If you’ve ever toured model homes, you are familiar with the concept of staging – the art of carefully crafting interiors that appeal to homebuyers. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a professional designer, make some simple changes that appeal to buyers.
Create vignettes throughout the home. Set the dining room table with attractive dinnerware or create a cozy nook in the bedroom with a small table and chairs. Group items in threes, use different heights, and keep it simple.
Fresh flowers add so much to a home, from masking odors to adding pops of color and texture. A gorgeous bouquet on the dining room table can take the place of a fussy centerpiece. Night stands are ideal places to set small vases of flowers.
Bathrooms are important, so pay close attention to how you stage yours. Get rid of the countertop clutter and add fluffy towels and a new shower curtain.
Since sellers should make themselves scarce when the home is being shown, it’s important to take security measures. Lock up or remove valuables, weapons, prescription drugs and money.
Don’t leave personal items – especially paperwork with your financial information -lying around in plain sight. remove most personal photos.
Whatever you can do to make your home appear move-in ready will appeal to buyers. Tour some new home communities for more ideas and inspiration so that your home shows like a model.