From Our Network
Our local real estate market continues at the hot pace we’ve been on, although there are signs of inventory increasing with homes beginning to come onto the market at a faster pace than they have recently. That is a good sign in that we may see more balance in the market soon.
As I mentioned previously in this space, the intense competition for listings has impacted the role and effects of both home inspections and appraisals.
Typically, once agreement has been reached between buyer and seller, the buyer will have ten days (could be less, depending on the terms) to conduct a thorough home inspection and respond back to the seller.
These inspections are done for the benefit of the buyer, and generally consist of a licensed inspector taking a thorough look at the home, from the crawlspace to the roof, checking plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, etc. Often, especially with older homes, a sewer scope inspection is also done.
Inspections in any market always constitute a second round of negotiations. Options for the buyer include simply approving the inspection and moving forward to closing, rejecting the inspection and terminating the transaction, or most commonly, asking the seller to make some repairs or concessions. The seller may agree to all repair requests, or agree to some but not all, or to none. Then the ball is back in the buyer’s court. Unless the seller agrees to all requests, the buyer can continue to negotiate, though they have limited time to do so, can agree with the seller, or reject the response and terminate the sale.
Recently we’ve seen some buyers making exorbitant requests to compensate for feeling that they may have overpaid for a home which had lots of competition. This has often caused sales to fail.
Once the parties have agreed on the inspection results, the next step is to order the appraisal.
Appraisals are done primarily for the benefit of the mortgage lender, though they do assure the buyer that the value of the home is appropriate to the sales price. The focus is value, though the appraiser will look for glaring signs of deferred maintenance, such as peeling paint or a bad roof, and may call for those sorts of items to be repaired. These repairs are not negotiable; if the loan is to be approved, the seller MUST do these repairs.
In the case of a home selling at an inflated price, the appraisal value may come in below the agreed upon sales price. In that event, the parties have options. The seller may agree to sell at the reduced price. The buyer may agree to bring additional money to closing, to keep the new loan amount at or below the appraised value. They may dispute the appraisal and ask for a review, or negotiate a compromise. Or the sale may simply fail.
Our current market requires up to date strategies for both buyers and sellers. Develop a plan with your REALTOR®. Be realistic, and you can do well, and have fun in the process!
You listed your home for sale, but the home isn’t selling! Learn the simple things you can do to sell your home faster with Coldwell Banker real estate agents.
You listed your home for sale with high hopes. You love your property and you felt certain that it would sell in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s been several months since you listed your home.
You’ve had some interests and several showings. You’ve received a few lowball offers. Maybe you’ve even experienced the emotional turmoil of watching a contract fall apart. Regardless of the details, one fact is clear: your property is very much still for sale.
What went wrong? What can you do? Here are 8 effective tips to facilitate a faster sale.
If your house has been on the market for six weeks or more without so much as a nibble of interest, it’s time to take a hard look at what might be putting buyers off.
If buyers can’t imagine themselves living in a home, they’ll be reluctant to make an offer.
To make your home appealing, pack away all of your family pictures, child artwork, and mementos. Paint your walls a neutral color like beige, cream or white. Pack away any polarizing or controversial pieces of artwork or decor. Depersonalize and try to make your home look like a model home.
Buyers like to see clean, wide-open living spaces. If you have physical or visual clutter in the room, you’re sending a message to the buyer that you don’t have enough storage space.
Don’t send that message. Instead, get those moving boxes and start packing. You may not have a contract yet, but if you minimize your possessions and declutter the space, you’ll make the rooms look larger and create the impression of having tons of storage space.
Remove Evidence of Pets
We love our four-legged friends, but their food and water dishes, crates, and even just hair on the carpet can be a big turn-off to buyers who don’t like animals.
If you know that someone is coming to look at your home, put the food dishes away, store the crate in the garage or outside, and make sure to remove all signs of pet fur and dander.
Freshen Up the Space
Don’t let buyers turn up their nose at your home. Smell is the first thing potential buyers notice when they walk into a house.
Clean your home to get rid of any dusty or musty smells. If the weather is nice, open the windows to let your home air out. Install all-natural room fresheners or light scented candles in discreet places like the bathroom closet, laundry room, and garage. Choose a neutral and natural scent, like vanilla, rather than a pungent floral scent.
You could also consider investing an essential oil diffuser to leave running during home showings. Sage, lemon, lavender, and cinnamon are all subtle, relaxing, and inviting scents that help brighten your living space.
Work on Curb Appeal
Some buyers won’t even step into your home if they don’t think the property has curb appeal. Clean the windows and make sure that there are no visible cobwebs. Mow your yard and trim the edges, prune the bushes, plant fresh flowers, and spruce up your shutters by giving them a fresh coat of paint. You may even want to install a new mailbox and outdoor light fixtures.
Consider an Affordable Mini-Renovation
Not everyone likes a fixer-upper. Stained carpets and less than appealing paint colors may look like dollars needed for (and the hassle of) renovation in the buyer’s eyes.
Small renovations may lead to big payoff. Consider painting the walls a neutral color, installing a smart thermostat, replacing hardware and fixtures and other fairly inexpensive changes that will take away the label of a fixer-upper.
Stage Like an Expert
You’ve depersonalized, decluttered, renovated, and worked on curb appeal. Now it’s time to stage your home like a pro.
Place brand new, neatly folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Place a decorative bowl filled with bright red or green apples, lemons, or limes in the kitchen. Fill a clear glass cookie jar with fresh cookies on the kitchen counter.
Ask Your Agent About Pricing
If your home isn’t selling after you’ve done everything above, it’s time to talk to your real estate agent about adjusting the price.
This is where your agent’s knowledge of your market and the amenities of your home come into play. If your home is priced competitively, buyers will feel like they’re getting a great deal. A $5,000-$10,000 reduction may be all it takes to motivate the right buyer.
Make Your Home More Accessible
Make your home available for showings. If you limit your home to pre-scheduled viewings, you’re definitely not going to be able to sell as quickly. If you’re flexible with when you allow buyers to come see your property, you’ll have a better chance of getting more foot traffic and more potential buyers into your home.
From Our Network
From Our Network
Image: KraftMaid/Masco Retail Cabinet Group
Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.
Homeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.
A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. A complete kitchen renovation with a national median cost of $60,000 recovers about 67% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
The project gets a big thumbs-up from homeowners, too. Those polled in the “Report” gave their new kitchen a Joy Score of 9.8 — a rating based on those who said they were happy or satisfied with their remodeling, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 the lowest.
To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.
How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.
Some tips on planning:
Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.
Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.
Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.
Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.
Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.
2. Keep the Same Footprint
Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.
So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.
3. Get Real About Appliances
It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.
Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.
So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.
Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting
Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:
Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.
Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.
5. Be Quality-Conscious
Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.
And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.
6. Add Storage, Not Space
Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:
Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.
Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.
7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers
Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:
Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.
Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.
Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.