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.
Get Ready To Sell- in The Spring Real Estate Market
With spring being the busiest time for real estate, homeowners planning to put their homes on the market shouldn’t wait for flowers to bloom before getting ready to sell. Having a few months to prepare and getting ready, can translate into more money in your pocket.
Here are some things you can do now to get ready for a spring sale:
Clear Away the Clutter
Once your home is on the market you’ll need to keep it as neat as possible. One way to make that easier is to reduce the amount of clutter you have on your shelves and surfaces. Put away items that are regularly on your kitchen sink and completely clear off your kitchen counter-top . Clean off your refrigerator completely and remove all but a handful of family photos, in this case- less is more. Pack away your collections, they may detract attention from buyers looking at your house- you want them to focus on what may be their new home . Pack away most of your books. Go through your closet and pack away or throw away or donate clothes you don’t need, making your closet look bigger and more attractive to potential buyers. While everyone has clutter, buyers want to see a fantasy version of your house, in which they can envision living.
It may seem premature to start packing months in advance of your move, but since you’ll eventually need to do this anyway, you might as well get organized now. You can sort through your storage closets, attic, basement or garage to determine what you want to keep, what to give away and what to sell. Also, now is the time to throw away old furniture that you don’t want to move to your new home. Boxing up items will make your space look larger and neater when it’s time to show your home. You can also get an idea of whether you need to rent a storage facility while your home is on the market.
While you don’t necessarily want to do a major, expensive renovation project before you sell, you can make minor repairs and improvements that will make your home look fresher to buyers. Try things such as replacing the caulk and grout in your bathroom, updating old or rusted ceiling fans and light fixtures, and changing switch plates, doorknobs and other hardware for a clean and neat appearance. Consider painting your front door and trim even if your rooms don’t need new paint. Clean your carpet and hire a professional cleaner to start a baseline and make upkeep easier.
Research Your Market
If you plan to buy another home, an important decision to make is whether to sell your home first or make an offer on a new home before putting yours on the market. A knowledgeable REALTOR can help you evaluate how fast homes are selling in your market and help you estimate how long it will take you to find a home. This decision also depends on your financing, so you may want to consult with a lender to see how you can finance the transition from one home to another if you choose not to sell your home first. Go over the listing paperwork now so you will be able negotiate commission and listing time frames.
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.
There are several steps you can take to stage your home for sale — and many of them don’t cost a dime. Here are five No Cost Staging Tips you can do to prepare your home to sell.
Clean, clean, clean
The number one thing people think about while in a home is whether or not they believe it is clean. A home that is absolutely pristine presents as well cared for.
Clean all windows inside and out. Dust all door frames, light fixtures, ceiling fans and blinds. Don’t leave a single spot in your home untouched. Potential buyers look everywhere, so make sure the entire home is clean.
Depersonalize the house
Pack up almost all personal photos and family keepsakes. If you have a great photo of your family enjoying a camping trip or other family activity, you can leave it out on display if your home is being marketed to families. This one family photo plants a seed of happiness in a buyer’s mind, making them think how happy their own family could be living in the home.
All other photos, portraits and keepsakes must be packed away out of view — and ideally, stored outside the home. In general, family photos and keepsakes draw a buyer’s attention to your family and keep them from seeing your home as their potential home.
You’re not selling the family, you’re selling the house — so always let that be the center of attention.
Pack — and pack some more
You could probably live comfortably for a short time with about half the things you own, especially if you have lived in your home for more than a few years. We all tend to collect things. Whether we use them or not doesn’t matter, but what does matter is showcasing the space your home has to offer potential buyers. You cannot showcase rooms that are full of stuff — especially too much furniture.
Pack up as much as you can live without, then store it offsite if possible. Store packed boxes and extra furniture neatly away from living spaces no matter what. If you have to store items in the garage, make certain you leave enough room for a car.
Manicure outdoor spaces
Outdoor living is now a part of everyday life for most of us. Potential buyers will absolutely consider the outdoor spaces as critically as they do indoor spaces. If you don’t have the budget to freshen the landscape with flowers and decorative items, you can still make sure the yard is perfectly manicured.
Keep your yard watered, and cut grass to approximately 3 inches high. Any shorter takes away from the fresh green look, and any longer starts to look unkempt.
Foliage should be very neat and properly shaped to match your neighborhood. Trim the trees so that a 6-foot-tall person can easily pass under them. This makes the trees appear taller, and gives the yard a clean, tidy look.
Power wash the sidewalk, patio, deck, driveway and fence. You will be amazed what a difference this will make in the look of your home.
When showing or photographing your home for potential buyers, open every blind and curtain in your home, and turn on every light. Even the lights over the stove and inside the oven should be on. (Remember, the appliances are pristine — they need to be shown off!)
Buyers are looking for “light and bright,” not “dark and dreary,” so give them light. Help them see how clean and well cared for your home is. Don’t be afraid to move a lamp to brighten up a space if you need to. Let there be light — and lots and lots of it.
It can be a lot of work getting your house ready to sell. Even with no staging budget, you can still take the time to make a few changes that will have a profound impact on your home sale.
The single most important factor to consider when selling a house is pricing the house correctly; it’s choosing the right list price: how much your house is worth. Over pricing the house will cause it to sit on the market and lose the freshness of the home’s appeal after the first two to three weeks of showings. After a month on the market, demand and interest can wane and after that a listing can become stale to potential buyers. It is a tough concept, because no one wants to chance leaving money on the table, but pricing the home just below fair market value will often cause a seller to receive multiple offers, which will then drive up the price to market price or above. Pricing is all about supply and demand. It’s part art and part science. Beware of the realtor that advises a list price way above the range of sold home prices in your neighborhood, choosing to list with that agent may be setting you up for the delay or even failure to sell your home.
Pricing your home to sell may not be as simple as you think. Looking at what similar homes in your immediate neighborhood that have sold for in the past 6 months to a year will give you some, but not all of the data you will need to calculate the list price. It is important to compare apples to apples when looking at the comparable recently sold homes. Compare and consider not just how many bedrooms or bathrooms, but also is the basement finished, is the yard nicely landscaped, how many garage spaces are offered? Look at homes’ sizes (square feet), style, condition and if updates and renovations have been done. A good real estate professional will format all of the information for you and help you to make the comparisons to come to the right listing price that will get you the most money possible for your home sale.
Using a real estate professional, like Washington Homes Group, can save you money in the end by helping in pricing your home to sell quickly and for the best sale price. A good agent or even better- a good team, will assess what improvements should be made prior to putting your house on the market. Many times the first step is to de-clutter; when selling your home, the less-is-more concept is the way to go. Your agent should be honest and direct in telling you what needs painting and repair or replacing before making your listing “active on the market”. You only have one chance to make a good impression, and that goes for the list price and your homes presentation.
Preparation and timing can help you get the best price for your home.
Consult the large real estate sites, like Realtor.com,Zillow.com and HomeGain.com to see how similar homes are priced in your neighborhood. Many newspapers also list the selling and asking prices of recent sales, plus how long the houses were on the market. Note the prices for your neighborhood during the last several months.
Check how sales were running, say, a year ago, so you get an idea of whether the market is heating up, cooling down, or staying put for guidelines for selling your house . This exercise should give you a sense of what your home is worth.
Selecting an agent
You may decide that you can sell your home without an agent. It’s an attractive thought, since you would save the 6% of the selling price that a broker typically collects. But balance that against the work involved in advertising a house and being available at all hours to show it.
If you do decide to work through an agent, ask for referrals from friends or check the Web and local newspapers for advertisements. Don’t simply accept any recommendation. Make an appointment with an agent and interview him or her for the job.
Evaluate the person as though you were a buyer: Is he or she professional and personable? Does he say the right things to make you want to see the home? Also, since the agent will likely be able to advise you on a selling price, how well does his or her price jibe with the homework you did on your own? Don’t be fooled by an agent who is merely flattering you with an inflated price. Go by what you already know about your house and the current housing market.
Ask whether he or she will be the agent actually showing the house. Some brokers have specialists whose main duty is to win the listing. Then another of the broker’s agents takes over.
The lowdown on commissions
Once you find an agent you like, you have to formally sign a listing agreement. This is a contract, laying out the specifics of your arrangement, including how long you will let the agent represent your home and what the compensation will be.
Many agents prefer an exclusive listing, meaning you agree to pay a commission regardless of whether the agent is actually responsible for finding the seller. You should commit for no longer than three months (one month, in a hot market). In case you find the agent lacking in enthusiasm, you don’t want to be locked into a bad situation.
When you discuss the listing agreement, discuss other issues as well. For instance, if there are certain times when you want the house off-limits for walk-throughs, let the agent know.
Also, consider negotiating the commission. If your house is expensive, an agent might not flinch if you suggest 4 or 5% instead of the usual 6. Conversely, if you know it’s a buyer’s market, consider offering the incentive of a higher commission if the agent can land you a sale within 5% of your asking price.
After you’ve signed a listing agreement, you may want to give your lawyer a call to notify him or her that you’re selling your house and will need help reviewing bids and contracts. If you don’t want to pay for a lawyer, your agent should also be able to guide you through this process.
Getting ready for an open house
Whether you sell on your own or work with an agent, you’ll want to spruce up your house before it goes on the market.
Take an objective look at it: Is it cluttered? A little worn and tired? Consider a new paint job. Tidy up. Move unneeded furniture into the attic, basement or rented storage. Remove some of your personal items, like family pictures and knickknacks. Mow the lawn. Plant flowers, if it’s the right season. These seemingly insignificant details can add many thousands of dollars to your eventual sales price.
If you’re no good at this kind of thing, consider hiring a home “stager,” someone with experience preparing homes for showings. Their fees can be more than offset by quicker sales and higher selling prices.
Speaking of which, you’ll need to settle on an asking price. In doing so, forget what you originally paid for the house, how much you’ve spent on renovations or remodeling, and even how much money you need to move on to your next home. When it comes to pricing your property, the only yardstick that matters is what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood now — which may be more, or less, than you sank into it.
Your research will already have given you a good idea of how the market is faring. Your agent should also provide you with comparable sales and discuss why your house should be priced higher or lower.
Timing is the key
Also note how long the homes were on the market. If you’re in a seller’s market, with listings moving in a week or two, think about adding a premium to the asking price.
In a buyer’s market, it’s especially important to get the price right. The critical selling time is within the first month after your home hits the market. If the price is too high, you’ll turn off potential buyers and agents and then have a hard time attracting them back, even if you lower your sights later.
When you receive a bid via your agent ask for guidance in how to respond. This will depend on how you priced the house, what the housing market is in your area and your urgency to sell or wait for a better price.
Make sure your lawyer or agent reviews the contingency clauses included with the bid. For example, it’s generally not a good idea to agree to sell your home with the contingency that the buyer must first sell his or her own home.
Also make sure that all the buyer’s contingencies are restricted within specific amounts of time. For instance, if the deal is contingent upon the home passing an inspection, then the inspection must occur within a week to 10 days of an accepted bid. The same is true of the closing date: Make the buyer commit to a reasonable date, usually 45 to 60 days from acceptance.
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.
A “For Sale” sign stands outside a home in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. S&P says the average price in the largest U.S. cities in November was up 13.7 percent from a year earlier.
November home prices in the 20 biggest U.S. cities posted the biggest year-over-year gain since February 2006, according to the new S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
The monthly report, which trails more recent housing data from December, says the average price in the largest cities in November was up 13.7 percent from a year earlier. However, prices dipped from October to November, falling an average of 0.1 percent, the first month-over-month decline in a year.
“Combined with low inflation, home owners are enjoying real appreciation and rising equity values,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “While housing will make further contributions to the economy in 2014, the pace of price gains is likely to slow during the year.”
The annual price gain in the Washington-area market in November was 7.8 percent, with prices slipping an average of 0.3 percent from the previous month.
Las Vegas saw the largest annual increase in home values, up 27.3 percent from November 2012, followed by a 23.2 percent gain in San Francisco.
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