Making the Sale Before They Walk in the Door

It’s been said that it’s only what’s on the inside that counts. But that’s not true when it comes to selling your house.

Make the Front Door Special

From Better Homes and Gardens

Spruce up your front door with a coat of glossy paint in whatever color best suits the style of your home. A cottage-style house may look great with a country blue door, a Colonial may be crying out for a cheerful red door. As long as it’s fresh and not too trendy, it’ll attract positive attention. Make sure the door doesn’t squeak when it opens, too!

Dress the Porch

From Better Homes and Gardens

Say “Welcome” with a few pots of seasonal plants and a decorative door mat. If the porchis large, make sure there’s a comfortable seat or swing in good condition. Check that steps and railings are stable and in good repair.

Ring Their Bell

From Better Homes and Gardens

Impress potential buyers with attention to detail. Clean or replace all front-door accoutrements, whether it’s the doorbell (if you don’t have one, install one; some actually run on batteries), the address numbers, the doorknocker, the doorknob and key lock — even the mailbox. A stylish new set of hardware can help make a great first impression.

Make It Sparkle

From Better Homes and Gardens

Wash your exterior windows until they shine. Don’t forget to clean shutters, gutters, and siding, as well. It’s never a bad thing to look like an overachiever in the home maintenance department.

Clear the Path

From Better Homes and Gardens

Power wash the sidewalk, driveway, and any other surfaces leading up to your front door. Let the area dry before prospective buyers arrive. Make sure garbage cans and recycling bins are empty, clean, and put out of sight.

Go for a Great Garage

From Better Homes and Gardens

If your garage is visible from the street in front of your house, make sure it’s as good looking as your house — and matches the style of your home. If your garage door has seen better days, consider painting it, or replacing it with one of the newer models that add architectural interest with rows of windows or carriage-house styling.

Store the Clutter

From Better Homes and Gardens

The tricycle, the wheelbarrow, the sprinkler, the Frisbee that finally slid off the roof — put it all out of sight so that your yard looks bigger, cleaner, and more appealing. If Fido usually parks outside, clean up his area (including doing doggy doo-doo duty and removing “Beware of Dog” signs!), and put away his bones and toys. Send all pets “on vacation” during buyer visits.

Ward Off the Weeds

From Better Homes and Gardens

You don’t have to have the fanciest flora and fauna in the neighborhood to impress a potential buyer, but you must have a well-maintained, nice-looking yard. Mowed grass, well-kept flowerbeds, and a fence that’s in good condition will all get a thumbs up. If your outside looks good, buyers will already be anticipating a great inside

Perk Up the Patio

From Better Homes and Gardens

If your deck or outdoor wooden furniture is looking tired, give it a new coat of stain or paint to freshen it up. Make sure your grill is covered or in great condition; if not, put it away. Place a few well-positioned pots of flowers or herbs near the back door along with another doormat.

Trim the Trees

From Better Homes and Gardens

Make sure no large trees are too close to the house or to power lines. Not only can trees cramp a home’s style by making the home dark or obscuring interesting architectural details, they can lean over dangerously and fill the gutters with leaves. Careful pruning will let the sun shine in and keep your home safe.

This article was originally published by Anne Krueger on Better Homes and Gardens. To see the original article, click here

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Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall: Create Reflective Drama In Your Home

This seems to be the year for Snow White. The fairy-tale character, which originated from a story collected by the Brothers Grimm and made popular by Disney, is back in theaters again this month in ‘Mirror, Mirror’. No doubt this new adaptation will give a modern twist to the well-known plot elements of wicked witches, poison apples, magic mirrors and swarthy dwarves.

In honor of the raven-haired princess’s reawakening, here are some mirrored trends that have caught our eye lately. Which do you think is fairest in the land?

One of our favorite trends is mirrored subway tiles, as seen on this kitchen’s backsplash. The reflective tiles give a little added flair to the everyday kitchen counter, and elevates the eating space of this 5-bed, 6-bath home in Atlanta, GA, from run-of-the-mill to industrial cool. Consider mirrored tiles for the impact they could make in smaller areas, too, like bathrooms and wet bars.

Low ceilings can make a small space feel claustrophobic. But rather than dial up a remodel, why not consider a mirrored ceiling? Check out the bathroom of this 5-bed, 8-bath home in Centre Island, NY. The reflecting surface bounces light around the room, making the space appear bigger. And when paired with a bright, neutral color like the white marble in this bathroom, you can increase the effect.

Mirrored ceilings can also be used to up the drama factor, as we see in the dining room of this 5-bed, 8-bath house inBeverly Hills, CA. The mirror creates the illusion of more space, and the detail of the gilded frame draws the eye upward, making this room appear taller and more theatrical.

This 5-bed, 5-bath home in San Francisco, CA,  really capitalized on the expansive powers of mirrors (top of post, above and below). Check out the foyer, where a mirrored wall gives the impression of an entryway twice its actual size. Framed mirrors in the parlor and living areas add visual interest, while in the upstairs bathroom reflections of light and sky give airiness to the small space.

Now that you’ve been inspired, what mirrors do you see in your house’s future?

This article was originally published March 9, 2012, by Addy Cleverly on realtor.com. 

Inhale. Exhale. Four Zen Houses To Keep You Calm.

There are those of us that like our houses flowery, fun, and flamboyant: an exuberant expression of all things beautiful and bedazzled. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those of us that need our houses to be a blank canvas, a serene space that invites meditation and tranquility.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

If you find yourself gravitating towards this mindful aesthetic, be at peace: here are four houses, the products of enlightened architectural minds, for your contemplation.
 

1. An Oasis of Calm in Beverly Hills

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

When searching for serenity, Beverly Hills, CA, may not be the first place that comes to mind. But this home (top and above) provides a 7,862 square foot oasis of calm in the big city, employing the finest craftsmanship and material to create a singular retreat. The residence was designed by Bob Ray Offenhauser, who utilized natural materials like cedar, red oak, bamboo, and black slate to craft and finish the space. Roof tiles from Osaka top the structure, while traditional Shoji screens divide the interior space. The half-acre grounds include an elaborate pavilion and tea/guest house and tennis courts, and if the $12.5 million price tag makes you lose your cool, don’t worry – you’re sure to regain it in the intricately landscaped bonsai garden.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

2. Traditional Serenity In NorCal

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

Modeled after traditional 16th-century Japanese country homes, this 4,684 square foot home in the hills of Tiburon, CA, radiates a warm, vibrant energy. Five bedrooms and five baths are encompassed within the traditional architecture, which also houses the best in modern-day amenities, including a fully-equipped kitchen. The open plan of the home flows into the outdoor living areas, admitting ocean cross breezes and far-reaching views of the Great Pacific itself. The price of $6.9 million includes nearly an acre of landscaped gardens.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

3. Timbered Sanctuary Among The Trees

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

The Puget Sound surrounds this home, which is sited on forested Bainbridge Island, WA. The 10,500 square foot residence was designed by local firm Miller Hull in compliance with the dictates of Feng Shui and with great consideration given to the magnificence of the home’s natural surroundings. The structure utilizes ethically harvested and recycled woods in its construction, and is outfitted with the best in security and automation systems. A 4,000 bottle wine cellar, landscaped gardens, and 374 feet of natural waterfront complete the 13 acre property, which is listed for $12.8 million.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com


 

4. Freedom In Freeland, WA

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

This tranquil 10.5 acre property combines an Asian aesthetic with the moody nature of the Pacific Northwest to create a unique contemporary residence with a vibe all its own. Designed to the highest standards of environmental stewardship, the property features a 4-bed, 6-bath main house, a guest house, and a barn, all set on 244 private feet of the edge of Holmes Harbor in Freeland, WA. The unfussy interiors of the main house are finished with hardwood floors and built-in shelving, and the grounds also include a fire pit and landscaped meditation garden. This naturally-insulated haven is listed at $1.7 million.

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

from realtor.com

This article was originally published by Addy Cleverly on realtor.com.

Bye Bye Beige – Home Buyers Want Color

Conventional wisdom regarding paint colors in a house on the market was always – don’t have any! REALTORS® advised sellers to get rid of their colorful decor and go neutral so that the buyers could imagine their own decorating style.
Bye Bye BeigeNorth Carolina Realtor Sarah Gray Lamm says that this is no longer true. She offers up a eulogy for a not-so-dear departed friend of Realtors – the beige home palette!

“It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that I believe HGTV may be responsible for the death of the oldest of our traditional advice to sellers. Remember this? ‘Neutralize, depersonalize, make it clean and give the buyer a blank canvas on which to express his own personality.’Not only are they looking for upgrades (some of which may not be reasonable in an ‘entry level’ home) but they also respond emotionally to the Ikea-look or Pottery Barn colors which have become the signature home style of a generation.

I’ll give HGTV this much; they have gotten people excited about what fun it can be to live in a beautiful home. They’ve inspired an entire industry to make affordable home decor that is mix and match. Think about it. Your large furniture is olive drab or brown or, gulp, beige. But your walls are eggplant or aqua, terra cotta or chocolate and you can find pillows and throws and rugs and wall art and knick knacks and candles to match and in any color palate that makes you happy and, should you ever get bored with it, can be changed over a weekend for a couple hundred dollars.

When I list a home and discover that every room is a different color I am no longer afraid. I still insist that the home be in good condition, clean and uncluttered. The quickest way to lose a sale is to have the buyer’s inspector find $20,000 worth of wood rot and HVAC and roofing systems on their last legs. Those are the things I, as a Realtor, respond to emotionally.

But color? I’ve watched too many young buyers this year spinning around happily in a dramatically colored room, and daydreaming about how they will live in it, to be concerned about whether or not any color is ‘too personal.’

R.I.P. Realtor Beige…you served us well.”

 This article was originally published on realtor.com.

Think Outside The Box: Fresh Ideas For Wall Art

The truth is, we all need art in our homes. Something to break up the space, add color, provide inspiration to the spaces in which we live. But the era of staidly framed oil paintings is so over.

source: static.move.com

Now is the time to liberate your artwork from its archaic quadrilaterals and allow it to roam free in a totally new realm of perception. This is the 21st century, after all.

source: static.move.com

For starters, who says that a piece has to be contained by just one frame? Why not use many frames, as in the case of this map of Italy? A huge work of art in many small pieces translates to a big visual impact.

You can also make your everyday ephemera into an interesting work of art. Try posting them, collage-style, over a desk or a mantelpiece and ta-da! Instant eye-catching art, no museum visit required.

Here’s an interesting idea for nature-lovers: drawing on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which seeks to find beauty in the transient and imperfect, this mantel display incorporates weathered wood and a variety of round stones. The result is a visual meditation on form and subtle variation that is at the same time both interesting and unfussy.

For the steady of hand and ambitious of spirit, you can take a cue from Ava Roth, who hand-painted these gilded patterns on the plum-colored walls of her dining room. The golden vines, birds, and flowers are so beautiful you’ll literally have dinner guests talking to the walls!

However, if you really must stick with the concept of square art, at least make it interesting. Try grouping clusters of quadrants together for a bigger impact. Broaden your definition of art display, and see where it takes you!

This article was originally published by Addy Cleverly on realtor.com. 

Control Clutter with a Mudroom

With all the bizarre weather experienced across the country recently, the problem of dirt and slush being tracked all over your nice, clean house is a major problem. Worcester, MA Realtor® Richard Walsh suggests that a mudroom could solve this problem, and many others, too.

Control Clutter with a Mudroom

“Before you assume that this does not apply to you, consider what a mudroom is and how some version of it may be helpful to you.

What is a Mudroom?

Originally, a mudroom was a room or area near the most commonly used entrance, and served as a place to remove snow-covered, wet or muddy clothing and footwear. In a broader sense, it could be any well-designed utility space near the entrance of a home and that is used to organize frequently used gear.

For a family, this gear might be umbrellas, boots, gloves and other wet or muddy clothing. It could also be sports equipment, roller blades, helmets, backpacks, or anything family members need to deposit on the way into the house or grab on the way out of the house, even leashes, mail and keys. And any gardener can track as much mud into the house as any self-respecting 8-year-old.

Initial Considerations

Location: What is the most frequently used entrance? If it is the front, formal entrance, the design will be something quite different than a rear or side door. If the entrance is from the garage into the house, an area inside the garage and near the door can be used.

Size: An entryway or utility room inside the door is a wonderful place to create a mudroom. However, even a well organized corner can be tremendously useful.

Uses: While the primary benefit may come in rainy and snowy seasons, think year-round. This space can be useful 12 months a year.

Key Elements of a Mudroom

The floor: The floor should be durable, provide traction when wet and be easy to clean. Concrete and vinyl are durable but tend to be slippery if they are not textured. Wood has obvious problems with constant moisture. Look into what is available in textured rubber, ceramic or unpolished tile. Whatever the decision, get two doormats: a heavy-duty mat outside made of bristle or rubber to scrape off mud and snow and another light-duty mat inside to absorb moisture.

A place to sit: It’s important to have a comfortable and convenient bench to sit on while removing or putting on footwear. The bench can fit with the decor of a formal entryway or informal back door. A seat with a hinged top and storage inside can also help reduce clutter…”

This article was originally published on Apr 26, 2011 on realtor.com.

The Home Gym: A New Gathering Hub

Help buyers and sellers evaluate their home fitness needs with this guide to workout space design.

Source: houlihanlawrence.com

Source: houlihanlawrence.com

Sure, home gyms are great for avoiding driving to a club and paying membership fees. But there’s another motivation behind the transformation of basements, garages, and spare bedrooms into home fitness centers: They’ve become a way to gather family members for healthy activity that everyone can enjoy.

Atlanta businessman and avid cyclist Steve Cesinger remodeled his home’s basement so that his family of four can exercise together. Thanks to stays at upscale hotels with gyms, he knew what he wanted to include. He hired design firm HammerSmith in nearby Decatur, Ga., for the remodel, arranging equipment in distinct areas for cardio, weights, yoga, and boxing, as well as creating a place for a sauna, massage, and shower. Designer Eric Rothman aligned equipment with wall mirrors to maintain good posture, and flat-screen TVs were wall-mounted in several locations to help exercisers vary their routines. Because of the basement location, Rothman provided sufficient and evenly spaced lighting that cuts glare and doesn’t create too much heat.

Such renovations can act as a magnet to attract buyers, says salesperson Stephanie Mallios with Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, N.J. “I recently showed a home with a huge gym in a basement with mirrors, professional equipment, big-screen TV, and sound system, and the home owner was finishing a session with a personal trainer. My buyer was very impressed and considered it a huge positive,” she says.

For a variety of price tags, you can duplicate national training manager Matt Elsessner’s examples of home gyms; prices are estimates based on his company’s Life Fitness line of equipment. The company’s Web site also has a room planner to suit specific home owners’ needs.

Advanced Gym: $12,707
T5 Treadmill: $4,399
X8 Cross-Trainer: $4,699
G7 Home Gym: $3,499
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball: $40
Foam Roller: $20

Small Gym: $2,907
LifeCycle GX: $1,999
Weight Bench: $199
Dumbbell Set with Rack:  $599
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Bedroom Gym: $2,109
X1 Cross-trainer: $1,999
Stretching Mat: $50
Exercise Ball:  $40
Foam Roller: $20

Yet, fancy gyms aren’t a magic bullet for all buyers. Not everyone wants a space designated to this purpose, says salesperson Barb St. Amant, ABR, of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, in Atlanta. “Some may be excited seeing a gym, but others aren’t. In our area, there are many inexpensive opportunities for places to work out,” she says.

The key to the perfect balance is helping buyers and sellers understand what’s most important to meet their workout goals and the space and budget limitations. Here’s what the professionals advise.

Be honest about the level of interest. This is the first rule of thumb: Home owners should invest in equipment that will encourage getting started and staying motivated. If home owners are committed to working out regularly and think they’ll stay with a routine, it makes more sense to set aside a room or large area and equip it adequately. But if they’re not sure and may only exercise sporadically, they should start small in a room that can serve a variety of uses.

Set up a gym in the right spot. Out of sight can become out of mind, says Matt Elsesser, national training manager for Life Fitness, a manufacturer based in Schiller Park, Ill. A basement can offer more space than a spare bedroom, but if the bedroom will be more attractive because it’s above ground and has more natural light, that acts as a stronger lure, he says.

Home owners also need to leave sufficient circulation room, says Rothman of HammerSmith. Yet, even a small apartment can host some equipment if it’s arranged properly. Fitness expert Liz Neporent, author of Thin in Ten (Sunrise River Press, 2012) and emeritus board member of The American Council on Exercise, placed a treadmill behind a sofa in her New York apartment so that it faces a TV but isn’t visible when someone enters the room.

Focus on a three-dimensional approach.

  1. Cardiovascular workouts, which increase blood flow and lung capacity, can be achieved with numerous items such as an elliptical cross trainer, treadmill, or stationary bicycle. Consider equipment with built-in tracking options and a TV, or at least an outlet for an iPhone or iPad and headset. If home owners have no room or funds for those items, a staircase in a house or apartment building can provide a good workout, says Eugene Reynolds, a trainer with Equinox in New York. It’s most important that home owners figure out what they like to do, so they’ll keep doing it, he says.
  2. Strength or resistance training, to build muscles, can also be done with numerous items such as elastic bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells. All are inexpensive and can be stashed easily; bands can be purchased for $12 to $16, while an exercise ball can cost anywhere from $40 to under $100, says Alycia Kluegl, exercise physiologist and owner of Empower your Body in New York.
  3. Flexibility training, to improve the range of motion, can be done with a simple mat, jump rope, or medicine ball. Techniques and routines can be learned in just a few sessions with a personal trainer or by purchasing exercise videos. “There are hundreds [of videos] to consider from experts such as Richard Simmons and Jillian Michaels,” says Neporent.

Add in upgrades and frills as space and dollars permit:

  • Different pieces of equipment from each category will help vary routines.
  • Wall-mounted mirrors aid in checking positioning.
  • A wall-mounted TV, if there isn’t one built into equipment or the home owner doesn’t have a workout buddy.
  • Exercise apps can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Android platforms to provide workouts such as Life Fitness’s LFconnect, which syncs with specific Life Fitness cardio equipment to provide preset workouts and track results.
  • Heart-rate monitors allow home owners to keep tabs on exertion levels.
  • Occasional or regular sessions with a certified trainer will help improve skills and accountability.
  • Wood and cork floors and skid-proof and electrostatic mats stay cleaner and won’t absorb sweat as much as carpeting does, while padding can add bounce and cut noise transfer.
  • A bathroom, or at least a shower close by, is a big bonus.
  • A tack board with photos and sayings will serve as greater inspiration and motivation.

Remind home owners not to forget to…

  • Invest in footwear that’s safe rather than just trendy and decorative, says Kluegl.
  • Buy the best equipment in their budget. Specialty sports stores with knowledgeable salespeople are a good place to start, says Neporent.
  • Check that any workout area on a second or third story can support the weight of heavy equipment.
  • Be sure the room or area offers sufficient head room—at least 7’8”—and the higher the better, says Rothman.

This article was originally published by Barbara Ballinger on reatormag.com. See the original article here.