Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether

2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

10. Add Some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

 

Lastly, don’t plan to tackle a home project DIY style until you read 5 Things You Need to Know Before DIY-ing A Home Improvement Project!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 8:52 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , ,

California Dreaming

Posted on April 6, 2018 at 8:49 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: first time buyers | Tagged , , , , , ,

Five Things You Need to Know About Selling a Condo

Thinking of selling your condo? Whether you live in the condo or own it as an investment property, if you’re ready to sell your home, it’s time to talk to a qualified real estate agent in your area. By evaluating several criteria, including regional markets, time of year, features of your condo unit, as well as your specific needs as the seller, he or she can create a customized marketing plan for your condo. Here are five important topics to discuss with your real estate agent if you want to sell your home:

1. Best Time of Year to Sell Your Condo

The specifics of your area do more to determine the best time to put your home on the market than whether you’re selling a condo or a house. While the conventional wisdom is that spring is the best time for selling a home, this belief simply doesn’t ring true in every locale. In recent years the historic patterns have eased, and in some cases, totally disappeared. Still, different parts of the country have periods when sellers can be more aggressive with their pricing. And your real estate agent may suggest a distinct timing strategy for condominium sales, especially if your condo is in a resort destination.

2. Open House Strategy and How to De-Clutter

A condo that shows well will sell faster and bring a higher price. Small cosmetic touch-ups can make a big difference. Buyers often suspect that more serious problems may exist if they notice the need for minor repairs. If you want to sell your home, it’s important to make sure your condo is clean, tidy and free of personal clutter. Clear sinks and counters of dishes and toiletries. Neatly stack office supplies and organize storage areas. Replace dim light bulbs and clean windows. Even though your garden area may be commonly owned, do your best to create curb appeal by cleaning front steps and porches, and clearing lawns of toys or equipment.

3. Features to Accentuate

One of the best features to accentuate when selling a condo is the lifestyle of ease that comes with condominium ownership. Many buyers are looking for the hassle-free living experience that they can’t find with a single-family detached house. Another important attribute of any condo is the amenities of the association, which can include a hot tub, fitness center, owner’s lounge, covered parking and even concierge services. If you’re considering selling your condo, take the time to walk through it methodically with your real estate agent. Together you can point out which features of the actual condo unit should be accentuated. Does your unit have a wonderful view? Perhaps the location of your condominium is unique and desirable. Your real estate agent can help accentuate these features in sales and marketing materials.

4. Desired Price and Bottom Line Price

When setting the home price for your condo, it’s important to identify your desired price and your bottom line price. By assessing recent condo sale and listing statistics in your area, your real estate agent and a licensed appraiser can estimate your house value and recommend an appropriate target price range. Working with your agent, you can set an initial asking price, as well the absolute lowest home price you would comfortably accept. One advantage of selling a condo is that by assessing the prices of other units in your association that have recently sold or are currently listed, your real estate agent and the appraiser can determine a very accurate house value.

5. Disclosures

When selling your condo, you may be obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability, as well as to disclose HOA minutes and costs of common insurance and utilities. In most states, it is illegal to fraudulently conceal major physical defects in your property, such as a water heater that leaks severely. And many states now require sellers to take a proactive role by making written disclosures on the condition of the condo unit. Ask your real estate agent for the particular laws of your state.

After reading this article, read more tips on selling a home and make sure you get the best value on your property on Coldwell Banker’s Seller Resources.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 3, 2018 at 9:18 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Buying a House as a Police Officer, Firefighter, or EMT

Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and teachers give so much to our country. They selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us, take care of our children, and help us accomplish our dreams. So it’s only right that they have the same opportunity to achieve their own American dream of buying a home.

Unfortunately, even though these public servants are working tirelessly in essential roles, they often have a difficult time purchasing property. Too often, it’s just out of reach financially.

The good news is that thanks to a range of public and governmental programs, these public servants have more opportunities than ever to buy a house at affordable rates and through a simplified process. There are options for tax breaks, down payment help, subsidized mortgage interest, and reduced closing costs. It’s all about making homes for heroes a realistic venture. Let’s talk about what’s available!

Mortgage Loan Assistance

There are many different private home loans for teachers, health care professionals, and rescue workers, and law enforcement personnel. These loans typically offer the lowest mortgage rates possible—though it’s still important to shop lenders to find the best deal.

One such program is Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program, which offers first responder home loans that finance up to 100% of the purchase price. There are also similar programs offered through Fannie Mae and many other private banks. We recommend checking with lenders in your area.

You should also check with your state and/or city to see if there are similar programs. For example:

  • New Jersey offers first responders a discounted mortgage rate that can be up to a full percentage point less than the market rate
  • Alaska has a program for health care and school workers that finances 100% of a home’s purchase price and includes subsidized interest rates

Mortgage Credit

Beyond lower interest rates and financing 100% of your home, the IRS offers Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) to help make homes for heroes easier to purchase. This credit differs from state to state but can enable teachers, police, firefighters, and EMTs to buy a more expensive house with the same income.

How does it work?

An MCC allows you to deduct your mortgage interest and gives you credit against tax liabilities. This means that your lender will subtract the credit from your house payment when calculating your debt-to-income ratio so that you can get a larger loan.

For example, let’s say you get a 20% MCC and you paid $15k in interest over the last year. That’s a credit of $3k per year, or $250 per month. That means that you can afford a home loan that’s $250 per month more expensive than otherwise.

Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program

Thanks to the Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program, there are home loans for teachers, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers only. What does this program include specifically?

  • $0 in application fees and up-front pre-approval
  • Low down payment options and down payment assistance
  • Closing costs grants
  • Home loan assistance

This program was designed to increase home ownership for specific public servants and to streamline the home buying process. As for the grants for police officers to buy homes and others, they do not have to be repaid and are subject to availability.

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Finally, there’s the Good Neighbor Next Door program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This program provides full-time firefighters, law enforcement professionals, teachers, and EMTs homes at 50% of their value. That means you pay monthly mortgage payments on just $150,000 for a $300,000 house ($850 versus $1600 per month).

How does it work?

  • Buyers have to be willing to live in the property for at least three years
  • The property must be located in a HUD designated area, which refers to a Revitalization Area as determined by home ownership rates, average household income, and FHA foreclosure activity

To learn about additional assistance programs for public servants, contact Coldwell Banker today. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect home for you.

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Homeownership Achieved

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 9:18 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, Homeowners | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Size Matters: Finding the Perfect Size Home for You

 

If you’re house shopping, there’s probably one question that’s been on your mind often: “What size home should I buy?” At a glance, the answer seems obvious: as big as you can afford! But that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Home size matters on many levels from personal preference to resale value, future plans, your budget, and more.

How do you find the ideal home size for you and your family? Here are three things you need to consider:

The Truth About Square Footage

A foot is a foot, right? When it comes to the square footage of your future home that may not be the case. Measuring the size of a house isn’t incredibly precise. More often than not, the size will change depending on which appraiser is measuring and what mechanism they’re using to determine the square footage: measuring tape, laser measure, or eyeball. The reality is that there are no universal standards when it comes to measuring your home size.

What does this mean for you? You need to choose your home size not by the numbers but by the feel. Don’t put too much stock in the listing size on paper, but instead find out in person if each room, bathroom, and living area is large enough for your needs. It’s not about how other individuals answer the question, “What is a good sized house?” It’s about you, your family, and how big a place feels in person.

Your Budget

While your budget isn’t the only thing you should consider, it needs to be one of the critical factors in determining your ideal home size. And that may be little more complicated than you think. What matters when it comes to your budget?

  • Loan Size: The larger the house, the more expensive—most of the time. Make sure the average house size of your real estate listings fits with your pre-approved loan budget.
  • Monthly Budget: Large houses are expensive to keep up. As you increase your square footage expect to pay more in electricity, water, gas, cleaning, and more. If you have a tight allocation for monthly expenses, don’t go overboard on a large house without factoring in these other costs.
  • Your Future: Are you planning to have more kids? Do you need a new car? Are you counting on getting a raise at work? If you’re expecting your financial situation to change, make sure your home budget fits the modifications.

Your Preferences and Needs

Your particular wants and needs should have the most significant impact on the home you choose. Make sure you’re truthful and honest with yourself about your expectations and needs. For example, if you eat out regularly and hate cooking, there’s no need to spend on a gourmet kitchen! You’d be better served looking for a home with a smaller kitchen and a bigger living room.

To help you determine your preferences, here are ten questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you like small and cozy or do you need room to spread out?
  2. How many people are in your family and how much space does each person need?
  3. Do you have any hobbies or jobs that require extra space? (If you work from home, you’ll need an office. If cars are a passion, you’ll want a more substantial garage)
  4. How often do you have visitors over? (If you have parties every few weeks and relatives visit a few times a year, you might want more space for guests)
  5. Are you planning to have more kids or have an elderly relative move in with you?
  6. What size of house have you been excited about in the past?
  7. How much storage do you need? (Closet space and built-ins can be a big space saver)
  8. How large is your furniture, and how much do you have? (If you have a king-sized bed, you want a big master bedroom)
  9. What’s your five-year plan? (Upgrading your home to a larger size can be difficult; make sure the home you choose can last for years)
  10. How much outdoor space do I want?

For additional help, check out, “What size home should I buy?

The key to purchasing the right-sized home for you is being realistic. Make sure you really sit down with your family to discuss what you need, want, and can afford. Then, ask your local Coldwell Banker real estate agent to help you search for the perfect sized house for you.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on March 19, 2018 at 9:48 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Effective Improvements for a Faster Sale

You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP!  You need to move or want those proceeds immediately, but how? Let’s go through the best ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

First, curbside appeal.  This is the first thing every potential buyer sees so make it stand out!  Some suggestions:

  • Hire a gardener to clean and spruce up the entrance
  • Remove superfluous items from the front of your home, i.e. garbage cans, strollers, etc.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior

Second, this is the time to clean and eliminate all clutter inside your home.  Here’s how:

  • Give away extra toys, clothes, and anything else that makes it look crowded or disorganized
  • Organize the kitchen countertops and closets
  • Place bulky items in storage

Third, landscaping matters.  A large yard cannot shine if the plants, grass and trees are in bad shape.  Try the following ideas:

  • Artificial grass-this always looks amazing and eliminates the need for maintenance
  • Tie orchids around the trees, plant fresh flowers and maintain the grass and trees

Fourth, look under the hood.  Make the inside of your home look as good as possible.

  •  This is the time to do some of the minor repairs you have been putting off.  This will make your home look better and may eliminate certain issues during the Inspection Period.
  •  Yes, it seems expensive or time-consuming.  However, if you hire a professional company, this can truly make the difference and get you more money in less time.

Finally, hire a professional, licensed realtor.  A realtor with experience and expertise can help sell your home quickly for the best price.

Best of luck!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 20, 2018 at 8:54 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Architectural Styles on the Horizon

Whether you’re buying, selling or staging a home, popular architectural styles and buzz-words can help you get the most out of your investment. Current and upcoming homebuyers have an “instant” mindset, are debt-savvy, and want all the luxuries of rural living in growing cities. Trending architectural styles, like shipping container and tiny homes, reflect the budget-friendliness and fast construction new homeowners want. Contemporary glass structures, modern farmhouse, and a Spanish-colonial revival make way for bigger homes and budgets.

Shipping Container

These days, building your own home is as easy as clicking around on a website or flipping through a catalog, mixing materials and adding desired features. The architecture that results is a Lego-like, innovative blend of textures and shapes that is “unique” to the homeowner’s preferences and taste. These styles are known as shipping container style homes. Some simulate the appearance of or incorporate actual shipping container material in their textures. By selecting from pre-fab, mix and match elements, homeowners can be sure that these features are ready-to-go. They can get exactly what they want without wasting time or resources.

Tiny Home

Floor plans for both homes and apartments are getting smaller and smaller as the demand for land goes up and urban populations boom. Architects and builders are getting creative with their designs, finding new ways to make the most out of spaces as small as 300 square feet. This is tiny home” size. These homes often sell at a lower price point than traditional-size homes, which makes the investment easier for modern homebuyers who are grappling with significant loan debt. These designs make the most out of every square inch with hidden storage, multi-use rooms and concepts like open space and indoor-outdoor living.

Santa Barbara

3927 Laguna Blanca Dr., Santa Barbara, CA listed by Linda Lorenzen with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

One of the most desired builds, right now, is the Santa Barbara style of architecture. This involves white stucco walls, wood beam ceilings and red tile roofs. It gets its name from the Spanish Colonial style that boomed in Santa Barbara in the early 1900s. The city set the trend for the rest of the country and homeowners are finding that the aesthetics of this style are a top choice for their dream homes.

Modern Glass

24450 Malibu Road, Malibu, CA listed by Chris Cortazzo with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Homeowners are knocking out walls and replacing them with glass doors and walls to see through to their back yards or patios. Incorporating the outdoors into indoor spaces is a top trend, right now. With the glass features, homeowners tend to blend sleek materials like concrete or wood. Modern glass style homes allow the outdoors to flow into the indoors and vice versa. This is a great trick to make the most of your property.

Updated Farmhouse

4576 Atwood Road Stone Ridge, NY listed by Cathy Pulichene with Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty

The farmhouse style has been a long-standing architectural icon. However, these days, the style is changing to incorporate more modern elements. The result is known as the modern farmhouse. In many builds, the design begins as a modern home outfitted with rural accents like barn doors and farmhouse siding. For builds that begin in the farmhouse style, modern colors and mixed industrial textures bring the old into the new.

If you are considering a new construction, an architect can help you to stay on top of the trends so that your home will be a success on the market well into the future. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to hire an architect is $5,000. They can guide you through the process to help maximize on your time and resources.

 

Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Homeowners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The 2018 Home Upgrades for New Homeowners

The best way to personalize your space and give it a fresh, polished vibe is to make upgrades—big or small—that let your personality shine. Whether you’re ready to undertake a major remodeling project or only have the budget for a few modern touches, these DIY renovation ideas are a great place to start.

Welcome 2018 with an updated home that’s perfect for new beginnings and a lifetime of memories.

Make Your Kitchen Colorful

Gone is the popularity of a white, monochromatic kitchen. More homeowners are embracing bold accent colors on their countertops, backsplashes and cabinets, from vivid yellow and burnt orange to chic turquoise and dignified navy.

Another popular trend is juxtaposing the stainless steel appliances with warm, vibrant hues that make a space more inviting, while keeping that sleek look.

  • Small budget: When repainting, choose a two-toned base. For example, “dark colors offset with lighter or brighter colors…offer visually entertaining and appealing levels of contrast,” advise the contemporary design experts at Interior Zine.
  • Big budget: Replace all appliances with stainless steel; then do the painting.

Upgrade Your Storage Space

Finding enough room to store seasonal decorations, filing papers, hardware tools, keepsake items, cleaning products and office supplies is a common struggle of homeownership. Luckily, there are a number of creative and resourceful hacks for increasing the amount of storage without reconfiguring your entire space.

  • Small budget: You don’t have to find room in your home for more storage—head to the garage first. Take advantage of the walls by hanging DIY peg boards and adjustable wall panels: “With the help of hooks, you have the freedom of hanging your things anywhere and any way you want: in the center, horizontally, vertically, at the bottom, or top,” suggest garage experts. As you tackle inside storage, refer to 8 Space Savers for a Small Bedroom for inspiration.
  • Big budget: Invest in new furniture pieces that double as decorative and functional, like an old chest that you can keep in the living room or a coffee table with a storage space below.

Give Your Walls More Texture

Textured walls is a fun way to infuse character into any room, whether you’re into exposed brick, wooden shiplap, geometric molding or smooth tile. Walls are a blank canvas for experimentation, so harness your inner designer and play around with different materials or wallpapers that mimic the feel of those materials.

Note that you can combine more than one texture in the same room to create a particularly unique and artistic ambiance. For instance, a “grungy” or “rustic” wall could be adjacent to a “wavy design on the accent wall,” says Kareen Liez, civil engineer and architecture enthusiast.

  • Small budget: If you have unfinished drywall, use this to your advantage, with these ideas from Vintage Revivals or this idea from The Creativity in the Chaos.
  • Big budget: Go in all the way with high quality wall paper that creates texture with patterns or invest in the laundry list of materials needed to create your own exposed brick wall, for example. If your budget is flexible, there are many ways to tackle this project.

Re-Do the Garage Flooring

The garage has become an extension of a home’s living space that should be both aesthetic and functional. To take your garage to the next level, and turn it into a space you actually enjoy being in, start with the boring concrete floor—replace it with an epoxy coating.

This material is “noted for its durability and longevity,” according to flooring professionals at Kwekel Epoxy Floors. They explain: “With epoxy, you’ll enjoy protection against [mold] growth, as it offers a protective layer against moisture damage.” Not to mention, epoxy is also stain resistant and the surface repels chemicals, so if something spills, it won’t seep into your concrete.

  • Small budget: Take the DIY route and lay the epoxy flooring yourself. Use this tutorial from Family Handy Man to navigate through the process.
  • Big budget: Hire an epoxy company to handle the work, which can be done in one weekend.

Make the Space Your Own

A house is an expression of the people who live inside, so give your new home a splash of personality in the New Year. You’ll fee great about the space and excited to show it off to your friends and family.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on January 2, 2018 at 11:06 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: construction, Fixer Uppers, interior decorating, real estate, upgrades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Tip of the Day: Thanksgiving Meal Planning

 

Planning and cooking everything for Thanksgiving can be very stressful.  But, who says you have to do it all?  Follow this guide to Thanksgiving meal planning to lighten the load this year.  As with most things in life, it’s all in the preparation.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 9:13 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: cooking, kitchens, real estate, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , ,