When selling a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider all the options to help make it stand out and appear move-in ready to selective buyers. Which improvements require the least time, effort and expense but will significantly boost your home’s perceived value? To help prioritize, we put together the following list of modest staging solutions/upgrades that will get your property noticed and cost less than the first price reduction that buyers would expect for dated kitchens and baths.
Freshen Walls With Neutral Color
Our go-to instant fix to brighten and hide dated and damaged walls is neutral paint. It’s amazing to see how a dark red or purple room can be completely transformed with a coat of soft “greige” (a combination of taupe and grey) paint that increases the perceived size of the space, doesn’t distract from the room’s features and acts as the perfect backdrop to modern furnishings and décor.
Re-paint Kitchen and Bath Cabinets
To instantly boost a tired kitchen or bath without a costly investment, start by repainting dated and dark cabinets and vanities with bright white paint. Complete the look by pairing with modern hardware – handles, drawer pulls or knobs for added style.
Replace Kitchen & Bath Lighting and Countertops
Lighting is an important design element that can affect the mood of a room more than any other accessory. Adding updated lighting in modern designs and on-trend mixed finishes such as brushed nickel, chrome or soft gold tones will add warmth and sophisticated style. It can also be used to draw attention to certain features in the room such as a beautiful new marble or quartz countertop (as shown in photo above), appliances or high ceilings.
Highlight Key Features
For large windows with attractive molding, remove heavier window treatments or simply frame with floor to ceiling neutral drapes. Remove worn carpeting and expose and polish hardwood flooring. Re-stain stairway steps and railings by painting risers or updating spindles. Enhance a beautiful stone fireplace with molding, mantle or screen.
Once you’ve invested in cosmetic fixes, be sure to remove dated furniture and accents and replace with more modern style that complement the room (as pictured in living room above). Minimal wall art, vignettes and throw pillows with subtle pops of color and pattern will add depth and warmth so that buyers can emotionally connect and envision living in the home.
Exterior & Curb Appeal
It’s just as important to update the outside of your home to welcome buyers inside. Remodeling magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report continues to list replacing entry and garage doors, siding and windows as upgrades that provide the greatest return on investment. However, sprucing up the landscaping, making necessary basic repairs, a fresh coat of paint for the front door and some seasonal potted flowers will go a long way to make a great first impression.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Did you know May is National Moving Month? May is the kick-off to the busiest moving season. In fact, nearly 40 million of us move in the summer and begin to plan in May. If you are one of those on the move this season, we want to help you plan. Unlike the popular perception, moving doesn’t need to be a stressful and overwhelming process! The key is to plan ahead and then the to-dos of moving are very manageable.
Okay, so what are the to-dos and when do I do them? Here you go, use this expert two-month moving calendar to keep you organized. Simply follow these steps and check them off one-by-one. The insider secret to a stress-free move: stay in the know and know what is ahead!
EIGHT WEEKS TO GO:
Start the process of selecting a mover.
Check your mover’s record with the BBB, on Yelp and other social review sites. A great reputation is the best way to choose a mover.
If you’re being relocated by your company, verify what the company relocation policy covers and what responsibilities fall on your shoulders.
Start to inventory your belongings: Decide which items to donate, recycle, to take and which items (if any) need to go into short-term or long-term storage.
Your tape measure is your new BFF – measure all the rooms in your new home, include layouts of doors, closets and windows. Measure all the furniture that is going with you and create scaled cutouts to place in a scaled layout for each room. Once you have finalized a room layout that works, photocopy your final layout for each room. Give a copy to the movers on moving day and tape a copy to each room.
FOUR WEEKS TO GO:
Mail change of address cards or change your information online:
- Post office
- Social security
- Insurance companies
- Credit card companies
- Credit bureau and/or other creditors
- Employer (to forward W2s)
- Car registration
- Mail order accounts
- Department of motor vehicles
- Friends and relatives
Arrange to clean furniture, drapes, etc. in your new place if necessary.
Gather personal records (medical, dental, etc.)
Arrange to transfer children’s school records
Gather all pet’s vet records and make sure all pets are micro chipped and it corresponds to a cell number that goes with you on your move.
Order new tags and licenses with new address.
Check homeowner’s insurance policies to see if moving is covered. Be sure your new home is protected by transferring fire, theft and other
Start to pack.
THREE WEEKS TO GO:
Make arrangements to discontinue current utilities and schedule the start-up of new utilities:
- Telephone service
- Telephone listings
- Cable TV
- DSL/Cable/Phone line for internet access
- Electricity (check for refund)
- Gas (check for refund)
- Fuel oil
- House cleaners
- Dog walkers
- Pool service
- Diaper service
- Water softener
Have appliances serviced for shipment.
TWO WEEKS TO GO:
Arrange to transfer local bank accounts. Speak to your bank and find out about new checks being printed, etc. Don’t forget your safety deposit box contents.
Ask doctors, dentists and veterinarians for medical records.
Cancel newspaper delivery.
Refill all prescriptions. Get prescriptions transferred to new pharmacy closer to new home.
Make arrangements to move children and pets. Do you need a babysitter for a day or two? A pet sitter?
Confirm that mover will move houseplants; if not, make arrangements. Houseplants, usually, cannot be moved by a mover, especially on long distance or out of state moves.
Start to disassemble any shelving, closet systems, etc. that you plan to take.
If you need one, hire a cleaning crew to clean your empty place to get your deposit back. Will your new place need a cleaning crew before move in too?
ONE WEEK TO GO:
Pack in separate boxes the items necessary for first days in new home: Label “LOAD LAST.” And label where to put each of those boxes in your new home: “top of kitchen counter.”
Medicine (always keep prescriptions on you)
Linens and towels
Toothbrushes and toiletries
Disposable plates and silverware
Foil and wax paper
Cleaning items (mop and pail, broom and dust pan, etc.)
Each member of the family should also pack a suitcase with what they need for a few days while you’re getting settled into your new place.
Don’t forget cell phone chargers, medications and favorite teddy bears.
If the movers are packing all or part of your goods, call to schedule and confirm the details. Make sure your mover knows how much packing you expect to do yourself and how much you expect them to do.
Plan to use up most food items before the move. If you have any leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger.
TWO DAYS TO GO:
Defrost and dry refrigerators/freezers to be moved.
Gather valuables and important documents from jewelry cases, safe deposit box, etc. to take with you in car. Do not pack these items with your other belongings.
Arrange to be on hand for last minute details and to give directions to movers.
Leave the whole day for your move. Don’t plan to go back to work, arrange a dinner date, etc.
Have payment for movers on hand. Avoid having to run out to bank, ATM, etc.
Have tips ready for everyone who is assisting you: cleaning crew, doormen, nanny, dog sitter, movers, etc.
Before leaving, check each room and closet. Check garage, basement and attic.
When you leave, turn off lights, close windows and lock doors.
Supervise placement of boxes and furniture. Refer to your premade layout. Scotch tape a copy of the layout to each room’s door.
Check for damages. Inspect large items; look for boxes that are crushed or open. Inform the moving foreman and review the claims procedure with him.
Go back to the truck. Make sure nothing was left behind. Check all the compartments where fragile items are often kept for their protection.
Settle in to your new place, take photos for friends and family. A new chapter in your life has just begun! Let the new adventure begin!
Nothing compares to the warmth and comfort of being at home. But for many dogs across America, this feeling is foreign.
According to The Humane Society, between six and eight million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. Plus, almost three million healthy shelter pets are not adopted annually, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters or rescues.
These sobering facts are what served as the inspiration the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project. After more than 100 years of helping people find homes, the real estate company extended its mission to man’s best friend with its “Homes for Dogs Project.” By partnering with Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, the Coldwell Banker network has helped to find more than 20,000 dogs their furever homes.
To increase awareness of the effort, Coldwell Banker has focused its latest advertising campaign called “Old Dog New Dog” to capture the heartfelt story of an agent giving back to her community by helping shelter animals find homes through the “Homes for Dogs Project.”
The commercial features rescue dogs, such as Max, who was adopted in 2014 after being spotted on Adopt-a-Pet.com. Before he was put up for adoption, Max was picked up as a stray and delivered to a “high kill” shelter in San Bernadino, CA. The shelter only keeps dogs for five days before it puts them down, and after Max had been at the shelter for four days, a worker reached out to The Dexter Foundation, a local non-profit dog rescue and adoption agency, which quickly rescued Max and found temporary foster care for him.
“I found him on Adopt-a-Pet.com as I was looking for a dog to rescue of that sort of breed and age,” said Kelly Saffrey, Max’s current parent. “As soon as I saw his picture, I just knew he was the pet for me.”
Adopt-a-Pet.com currently has more than 15,000 shelters and rescues in its network, and it is thrilled to be partnering with Coldwell Banker.
“We share Coldwell Banker’s view that nothing turns a house into a home more quickly than the addition of a loving pet,” said Abbie Moore, executive director of Adopt-a-Pet.com. “And we are so inspired by the desire of Coldwell Banker to launch this amazing program.”
For more information on the “Homes for Dogs Project,” head to coldwellbanker.com/homesfordogs
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Most people won’t live in the same home for 30 years, the typical life of a mortgage loan. So, when it comes time to sell, many homeowners still have mortgage debt to deal with. Is this a problem? What happens to your mortgage when you sell your home?
Once you sign your name on a mortgage loan, you are responsible for the money—no one else. This means that you must pay it back, which you can do with the money you gain from selling your home.
The truth of the matter is that selling a house with a mortgage is a common occurrence. It’s not something you need to be embarrassed or worried about. However, there are a few things you should be aware of and a few steps you should take before you try selling a home that you still owe money on.
Check Your Mortgage
The first step to selling a house with a mortgage is to contact your mortgage lender and ask about your current mortgage. You want to know:
- Your current mortgage payoff amount
- Your due-on-sale clauses
Your mortgage payoff amount is the exact amount of money, including accrued interest that you owe to the bank. This amount is typically good for 10-30 days and represents the outstanding loan balance that you must pay. The last thing you want to do is default on your mortgage.
The due-on-sale clauses reveal the exact rules of how to sell a house you still owe money on. It covers such information as when the paid-in-full loan is due and what the process is, including any fees. The clauses won’t tell you who you can or can’t sell your home to, but they may need some additional information about the buyer’s mortgage lender. Be sure to ask any questions you might have about these clauses, so you have a full understanding before you take the plunge and start your sale.
Selling Your Home
Once you know the ins and outs of your loan terms, it’s time to get to selling a house with a mortgage, which can get slightly complicated. First, you’ll want to work with a title company.
If your current lender doesn’t set you up with a title company, you can hire an agent on your own. This agent will be responsible for ensuring that there are no issues with your property’s title, and act as the intermediary throughout the entire purchase and sale process.
Here’s what happens to your mortgage when you sell your home and use a title company:
- The title agent holds the money from the new buyer during the sale
- After you sign all the documents at the closing table, the title agent uses the sale money to pay your current mortgage holder
- Once the amount has been paid, the title transfers to the buyer and you, as the seller, are given the leftover money (minus various fees)
If the sale covers the full cost of the current loan, it’s a fairly smooth process. However, if you owe more than your home is actually worth—negative equity—there could be some trouble. In that case, you’ll have to work out a deal with your lender for a reduced payoff amount, or you may need to refinance and stay in your home for longer than you planned.
In the end, selling a home with a mortgage shouldn’t be a problem. The most important thing is to know your options, so that you can make the right decisions.
For help throughout the entire selling process, visit www.coldwellbanker.com and find a real estate agent near you.
Warm weather is upon us, and it’s time to take the party outside. From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, spring’s signature celebrations deserve a festive and welcoming outdoor space. But what if your patio feels a little plain, a little bare, or a little less-than-inspiring for the party of your dreams?
Dreams can become reality if you have the right plan. And we can prove it. We will show you how to take a winter-worn patio and make it bloom into a versatile foundation for hosting three spring parties, from setting up the perfect base space to perfecting every minor detail, down to the apps and napkins.
With the advice from our design and party experts, and the dramatic before and after photos of our patio designs, you are sure to find the inspiration to transform your patio into a party destination all season long.
Build a Beautiful Base
Before running off to purchase celebration decorations, take the time to build a versatile, functional outdoor living base for your family, whether you are entertaining or not. Most patios need the following basic elements:
- A table and set of chairs
- Planters and greenery
- A source of shade
Of course, don’t forget the grill—the official cooking tool of spring and summer.
Click on the arrows to see the patio transformation:
Spruce up the area
After the dreary winter months, your backyard oasis might look a little rough around the edges. Shrubbery can have dead or uneven growth, and leaves and branches litter the ground. In general, your greenery may need a little TLC. Pay attention to the plants and lawn around your patio by trimming, checking for disease or damage, and fertilizing all greenery. Setting up your lawn and garden for success means that they’ll reward you with beauty all season long.
Don’t forget the patio itself. Concrete is the most common patio surface, and since it is semi-porous, it can hold general grime as well as stains from plant matter. Use a pressure washer to bring back its sparkle (while you’re at it, extend the cleaning to the exterior of the house as well). Pressure-washing can prolong the life of your surfaces (mold and mildew naturally cause decay), and the results are immediate!
Once the surface is clean, add potted planters filled with seasonal, colorful flowers to help blend the patio with its surrounding environment.
Choose your investment pieces
Plastic Adirondack chairs are great for a casual get together. But when you’re ready to transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area suitable for the whole family, you’ll need comfortable, attractive seating, some shade and a table fit for all the great food coming off the grill.
“The elements are going to take their toll, so it’s important to invest in quality,” says KariAnne Wood, a blogger, lifestyle expert and creator of Thistlewood Farms in Paducah, Kentucky. “Look for pieces that are a good scale for your size patio, and when you invest in furniture, make sure that you get furniture protectors so you can protect it from the elements in the off season.”
A neutral table and chair set is a great base (especially if you add a little texture with a rug below it). From there, says Wood, it’s time to add some shade. Consider an umbrella or pergola: “It extends the life of the patio, and helps define and add purpose to the space.”
Umbrellas come in a huge range of styles, from traditional table-anchored options to bigger, more modern cantilever styles.
Finally, the easiest way to “fire up” a party is to add a grill to your outdoor setting. By taking the cooking outside, you’ll get to spend time with your guests, keep the house cool in the heat of summer and show off your cooking chops to the neighborhood. Gas and charcoal are both excellent choices, and some grills include both, so you can leave your options open.
Your base patio is set! Now, building a specific party setting is a snap, which Jacqueline Lawrence of inventivENVIRONMENTS in Charleston, South Carolina, illustrates with the following seasonal soirees.
“I love a challenge like this!” says Lawrence. “It’s really all about creating a plan and then layering the look with texture, color and fabric.”
Party One: Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is rising in popularity as a celebration in the US, but don’t fear that you’re stuck with plastic margarita glasses, a piñata and sombreros. Go beyond cliché to celebrate the vibrancy of Mexico and its rich heritage.
Lawrence explains her elegant approach: “We want something cool and inviting for Cinco de Mayo, so we evoke the colors and textures of the high Mexico desert. Cool sage greens, a woven runner, citrus and succulents provide inspiration, and the last two do double duty on the table-scape: The citrus can be a great beverage garnish, and the potted succulents a thoughtful takeaway gift for the evening’s guests.”
Click on the arrows to see the Cinco de Mayo patio transformation:
Additionally, since Cinco de Mayo is often more of an evening affair, Lawrence also includes a glint of copper to catch the setting rays of the sun, and uses the space under the umbrella as a party “ceiling” from which to hang decorative elements. In this case, copper lanterns accented by a fresh flower garland woven throughout look even better when there’s a soft glow from the lanterns’ candles.
Our menu highlights the culture of Mexico:
Party Two: Mother’s Day
Small details, pale petals, tinkling glass and delicate treats—Mother’s Day is all about making the women in your life feel special, so it makes sense that traditional feminine details lead the way in this design. Seersucker fabric is fresh and full of spring promise, beautiful glassware makes the day sparkle and you can never have enough flowers for Mom.
“The amount of flowers for this scene might feel over the top, but really, it’s very doable!” says Lawrence. “Purchase some potted plants in bloom for the planters, and then layer flowers for the table. Buy simple cut flowers to arrange for a centerpiece, and then add flower heads to each place setting—and even the ice cubes! Different varieties, colors and sizes really provide the illusion of an abundance of petals.”
Click on the arrows to see the Mother’s Day patio transformation:
Below the petal explosion are the fresh stripes of seersucker—Lawrence used the iconic breathable fabric as a runner, complemented by delicate napkins and even more floral motifs on fabric pillows, which creates a luxurious feel and makes the scene one-of-a-kind. Maybe mom always told you to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”—this design does all that in the details.
Our garden-inspired Mother’s Day menu features fresh and light fare:
Party Three: Memorial Day
For Memorial Day, take your color cue from the American flag to plan a patriotic party. Red, white and blue used in equal proportions create a bold backdrop for a casual cookout.
Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, uses the patriotic trio to great effect.
“Nothing says ‘all-American’ quite like a decorative grouping of pots and planters full of red geraniums, while vibrant outdoor pillows in hues of red, white and blue set the tone of your celebration,” says Kelly, adding, “Don’t forget the miniature flags!”
Click on the arrows to see the Memorial Day patio transformation:
Lawrence follows this classic advice in setting the scene for our Memorial Day party, including swapping out the chairs’ seat cushions for a motif that fits the celebration. “A few styles of cushions can really extend the life of your furniture and make it feel fresh with a simple change. Why not a bright pop of red for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July?” she asks.
Additionally, Lawrence uses monofilament to hang paper stars and lanterns from the umbrella, extending the color from the table itself into the entire space.
The table and the grill are the stars of this show, and the table is set to create a buffet style service for the food. A few chairs are moved into a conversation area in the shade, providing easy table access for guests to fill their plates. Although cool desserts will help take minds off the heat, designer Kelly suggests being ready with an assortment of yard games.
“Activities like corn hole, croquet and ping-pong get the whole family involved, while a kid-approved activity like decorating bike baskets or making ice cream sundaes keep their focus on the fun of the long weekend,” suggests Kelly.
Once the food is finished, it’s easy to clear away the serving dishes and transform the table for crafts.
Our Memorial Day menu takes the standard cookout fare up a notch:
Starting with a neutral, comfortable base will ensure that your party goes as planned, no matter the occasion. From there, choose an inspiration for the decor and then take a cue from our professional designers by layering elements to make your spring party feel more professional and put together. Now all that’s left to do is celebrate!
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
When buying a home, the last thing you want is a surprise. Most people worry about leaky roofs or rusty boilers. But there may be property issues that can come to light and cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.
One way to avoid getting in over your head is to get a property survey before you buy. Also known as a house or land survey, it’s the perfect way to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with the land, so there are no surprises.
How exactly do you go about getting a property survey?
Property Survey Basics
A property survey begins with defining the boundaries of a plot of land. This clarifies the size of the property, and where the land begins and ends.
An updated house survey is also important for legal reasons. This is because municipal laws are not fixed—they change from time to time. For example, the property might have a shed or a fence that was well within the boundaries years ago but after undated municipal border it now encroaches onto a neighbor’s property or too close to the public street. A new survey will give you the confidence that the property complies with current local regulations.
It can also highlight any potential discrepancies or boundary infringements. This can help you avoid any misunderstandings in the future with neighbors or the city.
What do Surveyors Look for in a House Survey?
You might have seen surveyors poking around your neighborhood taking measurements. Most of the time, they have been hired by home buyers or sellers to take surveys, or they could be performing a survey for a property dispute (something a survey can help you avoid!)
When you hire a surveyor here’s what they typically look for:
- The legal boundaries of the land
- The locations of any buildings (sheds, storage) on the land
- Any easements and entrances to the property
- The topography of the plot, including both natural features such as trees or a river and manmade features including swimming pools or fences
An updated survey will be compared to any previous survey from the last time the house was sold. This way any discrepancies that might appear are known to all parties before the closing.
How Much Does a House Survey Cost?
When getting a property surveyed it’s important to hire a professional. This is one instance where DIY surveys or estimates won’t help. In fact, it can actually hurt you as they are not accepted as legal documentation.
So hiring a surveyor may be worth it to ensure you have records that hold up in court, if it ever comes to that. House survey costs can vary from state to state, but they typically run anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
Check your local state laws regarding costs. In some states, the seller is responsible for the survey or the fees can be negotiated between both parties.
Should I Have a Home Buyers Survey?
The last thing any homeowner wants is to plan a new project only to find out all that land they thought they had wasn’t theirs after all. You can imagine the headaches that scenario can cause!
Nevertheless, this sort of thing can sometimes happen. One way to avoid these issues is to set up a survey. A buyer’s survey can save you from a lot of potential hassles (and even more costs) down the road.
Visit coldwellbanker.com and browse through available homes for sales.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Female agents face an upward mobility challenge within the industry. Here’s how real estate brands and brokerages can work to mend the female leadership gap.
A stark lack of of women in leadership positions exists across all industries. The real estate industry, however, could quickly pivot and become the paragon industry when it comes to representation.
Women have always excelled in the field, but statistically have not found themselves in leadership positions. A report titled How Women Brokers are Reinventing Leadership in the 21st Century from the California Association of Realtors — which recently launched its WomanUP!® initiative and hosts an annual conference — found that women are opting out of large brokerages to forge their own paths.
We should celebrate women entrepreneurs starting their own real estate companies, but as an industry — and particularly within larger companies — we need to take a critical look at why so many talented women with the will to lead are not finding these opportunities within traditional brokerages.
It’s clear that real estate has an upward mobility challenge when it comes to female leaders. According to the NAR 2017 Member Profile Report, women account for 67 percent of all real estate agents, yet only 46 percent of non-selling broker-owners are women.
At Coldwell Banker’s annual Leadership Summit in March, we hosted a panel titled, “When Women Lead,” comprised of women leaders from across the country, with the goal of getting to the root cause of this leadership gap. We found that women in real estate often face two common hurdles: a lack of management training and limited opportunities for leadership positions in their offices.
A one-hour panel didn’t begin to scratch the surface, so we have also introduced a series of virtual conferences with Coldwell Banker agents and brokers to continue the conversation. Hearing from women throughout the network has inspired me to find ways to drive change at both the grassroots level, within each office, and throughout the larger network. In mid-March, I hosted our first “Women of Coldwell Banker,” lunch attended by 100 percent of the women in our home office.
Women with the will to lead have many shared experiences — hearing from others who have achieved success helps us all realize that overcoming challenges is possible, when we identify common hurdles we can find better solutions.
It is also important for men in our industry to rise to the occasion and meet their female peers shoulder to shoulder in this fight. Without allies, making progress towards this goal only becomes more challenging.
Conversations, mentorship and training for women are only part of the equation. To bridge the leadership gap, it’s critical that opportunities for growth are offered to talented women in real estate. Training is only effective once it is applied. Paving the path to management and leadership in real estate will inspire future generations and propel our industry forward.
It is imperative for companies and brokerages to build infrastructure within their companies to provide talented, hardworking women with the tools and training, as well as the opportunities, to lead. Creating task forces, hosting summits and sparking conversation will ignite change — first by providing women with a platform to air their challenges and subsequently by influencing organic change throughout the industry.
So, I challenge you all to do your part in accelerating the real estate industry’s progress in narrowing the female leadership gap. Encourage open conversations among peers within your network. Take an honest look at the growth opportunities available for women at your company. Put pen to paper and develop your plan of attack to combat this issue.
If you’re interested in learning more about working with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, please visit us here.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog