No Second Chances: Our 7-Step Plan to Making a Dazzling First Impression on Buyers

hikesterson/iStock; realtor.com

Studies show that we make up our minds about people within seconds of meeting them. So it stands to reason that prospective buyers are doing the very same thing with your house, especially in a red-hot real estate market. More buyers these days are sizing up your space and making lightning-quick decisions about whether it’s worth investigating further—or whether they should hop back in the car and move on to the next house.

So if you want to be sure buyers don’t scurry out the door moments after they arrive, you have to create a fantastic first impression.

Not sure where to begin? It all starts with looking at your home with fresh eyes. Luckily, we’ve broken down seven simple steps you can follow to put your home’s best face forward.

1. ‘Break up’ with your house

If you want to sell your property, you’ll need to distance yourself from it first, says Ronique Gibson, an associate architect and lifestyle expert at Stagetecture.com in Jacksonville, FL. Cut the cord!

“Once you put your home on the market, it’s time to let a professional come in and market it,” Gibson says. “If you stay emotionally attached, the process will be harder and longer.”

2. Focus on curb appeal

You wouldn’t wear soiled sweatpants on a first date—you’d go out of your way to look presentable. So why would you approach the process of selling your home any differently?

Your home’s first impression starts with the exterior, so take a good look at what you’re presenting to the world: What’s the first thing you notice? If it’s peeling paint, dirty windows, and dead plants, you have work to do, says Michael Rosenblum, a broker with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago.

“Ask yourself: ‘If I was buying this home now, what would my expectations be?'” he says.

Remove debris such as fallen tree limbs and leaves. Keep grass and shrubs trimmed, freshen up the mulch in your flowerbeds, and clear away lawn clutter such as yard ornaments, garden tools, and that circa 2007 Big Wheel.

“Putting out some flowers in front of the house or by the front door always makes people smile; it creates the warmth before they even get inside,” says Rosenblum.

Invest in a new doormat, and consider replacing old address numbers and your mailbox if it’s worn or rusty. Patch cracks in the driveway and, while you’re at, give the front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Ditch as much of your stuff as possible

So now that you’ve addressed the outside, you have to work on your home’s inner beauty. Decluttering is your first priority. So start clearing out the junk and depersonalizing the space—toss or hide mementos, kids’ drawings, and most knickknacks.

“If the seller has all their personal photos out, then the buyer usually gets distracted,” Rosenblum says.

The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your crap is everywhere they look. “All signs of you should be gone,” Gibson says.

That said, take care to find a balance; you don’t want the home to feel sterile—and you’ll want to make sure that none of your rooms are completely empty, a tactic that tends to make a space actually look smaller.

4. Fix the broken stuff—all of it

This should be obvious, but perhaps even you’ve forgotten about that faulty light switch in the upstairs hallway. The thing is, buyers will notice it almost immediately.

So here’s a mini to-do list to tackle those minor issues fast:

  • Check for leaks throughout the house. A drip may not seem important, but it suggests lousy maintenance elsewhere.
  • Check and repair loose door handles and cabinet hinges.
  • Caulk around tubs and sinks.
  • Replace lightbulbs that don’t work. Yes, every single one.

Bottom line: Meet and exceed a buyer’s expectations by paying extra attention to the fine details.

5. Plan a small makeover that packs a punch

You might not want (or be able) to do major renovations before putting your property on the market. But if you focus your attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, you can boost a tired home’s overall appearance without completely busting your budget.

“Homeowners can easily change out countertops and appliances, or paint cabinetry,” Rosenblum says. You may want to restain the floors or repaint the walls.

Keeping your carpets? Make sure to splurge on getting them professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas—it’ll immediately brighten a room.

6. Appeal to all the senses

Once your home is clean and decluttered, think about how you can engage potential buyers through other senses, Gibson suggests.

Play soft music during showings, or have a nice water feature outside if you live in a noisy neighborhood,” she says. “Soft throws and textured fabrics will warm up a space. Brewing fresh coffee and baking cookies makes your house smell great.”

Remember not to clean your house the day of a showing; harsh chemicals can be overpowering, and may turn off potential buyers.

7. Keep up appearances—indefinitely

Unless you’re in a red-hot market, your home might not sell immediately after it’s listed. Remember that every week, you might have potential buyers traipsing through—sometimes without much notice from your agent.

That means keeping up all these changes you’ve implemented—and not dragging out the massive toy bins, dog beds, and other daily life items you actually use.

While it might not be easy keeping your house in tiptop shape for days on end, try to remember that the effort you put in now will pay off later—when that one buyer is so wowed by her first impression that she makes an offer you won’t want to refuse.

 

Posted by Wendy Helfenbaum on realtor.com

Ready to sell? Visit our website to get started with an agent today!

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Top 4 Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most “Return On Investment” (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete remodel of a kitchen are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Wondering how much your home is worth? Click HERE to find out!

5 DIY Ways to Stage Your Home’s Exterior for Winter Home Selling

Winter can be a tough time of year to sell your home, particularly in areas that see colder or inclement weather. The biggest issue that homeowners face in attempting to sell at this time of year, is the curb appeal; with piles of snow and no leaves on the trees, it can be hard to show your home in its best light.

There are ways that you can help to improve your home’s appearance, however, no matter what time of year you put it on the market. These 5 DIY tips for staging your home’s exterior for winter selling will help you make that crucial first impression that buyers are looking for.

Get the Snow Off

Buyers want to see the condition of your home, including areas like the porch, outdoor deck, and roof, which may all be areas where the snow collects during the winter months. Keeping these areas free of snow and ice means that buyers can get a better sense of what your home really looks like. It also means that they can get a better idea of things like your roofing shingles and their condition.

Removing snow from these areas also has the added benefit of making your home appear well maintained. You want to remove snow any way to help protect your roof from leaks and ice dams; by taking the snow off before a showing, you let buyers know the home is being cared for.

Add Some Greenery

During the summer months, your yard and landscaping are in full bloom and can help improve your curb appeal. During the winter months, however, when everything is brown or leafless, this can have the opposite effect of what you want from buyer’s first impressions.

Purchase some greenery in urns to place around your front door and walkway. Evergreen plants in large tubs that can be brought out for a showing can help recreate the effect of well-maintained landscaping. Anywhere your home or yard looks a little barren at this time of year is a great place to add some greens to help brighten things up.

Add Exterior Lights

The days are shorter during the winter months, which means that buyers arriving in the late afternoon or evening to view your home may not see it in the best light. Add some solar lights to the walkway leading up to your house, and consider swapping out the bulbs in any sconces you have next to the door for full spectrum lights.

Full spectrum lights will help ensure your house siding color looks more the way that it does when the sun is hitting it, which can help buyers get a better idea of what your home will look like in other times of year. If you don’t have lights currently installed, consider adding temporary solar lights that will turn on when people walk by to illuminate the front of your home more effectively.

Brighten Up Your Front Door

While the winter months aren’t the best time to give a new coat of paint to your house siding, it’s not a bad idea to freshen up your front door color. A bright, cheerful front door can go a long way toward making your home look more inviting, no matter how cold or dismal the weather is.

Look for a house color that’s a little bolder than you would ordinarily choose, as you want it to show up even in the poor light of winter. Reds, turquoise blue, and even orange are good colors to paint your front door in the winter months.

Take Down the Holiday Decorations

Many people assume that leaving up decorations from late fall or the winter holidays will help make the home more lived in and therefore more appealing. Surprisingly though, many buyers don’t want to see these things; they want to envision what the house will look like when they move in. While it’s fine to have a wreath hanging on the door in December, make sure that come January the house is free of lights and garlands to ensure that buyers aren’t put off.

Get Your Home Ready for Sale

It doesn’t take much to get your home looking its best even in the winter months. Follow these tips to help improve your home’s exterior and get the quick sale you’re after, even in the colder months of the year.

 

Posted by HomeZada

Ready to sell? Visit our website today, and let one of our agents help you get started!

5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home.  Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home.  If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens.  It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding

No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals.  The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

 

Posted by Charles Muotoh on RISMedia

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

Posted by The KCM Crew

13 Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund On Home Improvements

Enjoy that hard-earned tax return money on summer evenings by adding a privacy fence or outdoor kitchen.

Your tax refund feels like found money, doesn’t it? Here’s how to use it to spruce up your living space.

April brings many lovely things: warmer temperatures, flowers beginning to bloom, and hopefully a check from Uncle Sam once you’ve filed your taxes. It’s enough to make you giddy with possibilities — no matter the size of your refund. “While it’s typically not sufficient to fund major home improvement projects such as a new addition or a kitchen renovation, it can often provide enough cash to accomplish a wide range of home up-fits and improvements,” says Leigh McAlpin, principal of Dwelling Interiors & Design in Charleston, SC. Here’s how to use your refund to refurbish or enhance your home.

$500 refund: It’s all in the details

Hire a professional organizer. “Since tax refunds often come during the springtime, you can tie this to spring cleaning,” says Sarah Roussos-Karakaian, co-owner of Nestrs, a construction, design, and organizing company in New York, NY. Most organizers charge a day rate, and if you work efficiently, a day or two might be all you need to banish clutter. Before you hire one, be sure to ask if they’re certified by the National Association of Professional Organizers, says Roussos-Karakaian. “It’s a good way to gauge how serious they are about their career.”

Recaulk and repaint your baseboards. “The top of the baseboard where the molding meets the wall gets really dirty over time,” says Roussos-Karakaian. “Caulking and giving it a fresh coat of paint can bring your walls back to life.” Contractors and painters typically charge anywhere from $2.50 to $6 per linear foot depending on the size of your baseboards, so if you don’t DIY it, this project may cost closer to $1,000.

Buy a new rug. The right rug finishes a room, and purchasing one is an excellent way to spend a smaller return. “A general rule for area rugs is that the outer edges of the rug should be between 6 and 18 inches off each wall, closer to 6 inches from the walls in smaller rooms, and up to 18 inches from the walls in larger areas,” says McAlpin. While it may be tempting to buy a small rug to save a few dollars, doing so will make your entire room look out of scale, she advises. “If it’s an open-concept floor plan, use area rugs to frame seating and dining areas, which will help to define the different uses of the space.”

Add curb appeal. Adding or updating some of the essentials, like a new mailbox, some flower boxes, new house numbers, outdoor lighting, and shrubs, can give your home a face-lift. Take your exterior upgrades to the next level by painting your front door. Want an even bigger payoff? Repaint the trim around windows and other features while you’re at it.

$1,000 refund: Think upgrades

Upgrade your water heater. It’s not a fun or sexy purchase, but swapping a standard water heater for a tankless model will save energy — and money — because it heats the water only as needed, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a network of home improvement professionals.

Give your ceiling a lift. Ceilings are easy to overlook, but revamping yours is an inexpensive way to add interest to a room, says Sassano. “If you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a professional to scrape them smooth,” he says. “Then look for DIY projects like installing crown molding or box beams for a fresh look.” A simple coat of fresh paint can do wonders too.

$2,000 refund: Add style

Upgrade your home’s lighting. If your entryway or dining room has flush-mount fixtures, swap them out for chandeliers, suggests Roussos-Karakaian. “It brings the light down, which makes it more purposeful, and aesthetically dresses up the room,” she says. But in any room, like with this semi-flush mount bedroom fixture at 629 Ames Way, Dover, ID 83825, swapping in new lights for those builder-grade finishes will give your home a customized look. And while you’re at it, swap out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs. “LEDs are really affordable right now. They come in warm and cool colors and all sorts of wattages,” says Roussos-Karakaian. Bonus: You’ll save energy too.

Treat yourself to wood flooring. You can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $12 per square foot for quality hardwood flooring — potentially more if you choose professional installation. But this favorite home upgrade can return 1.5 to two times its cost when you sell, so it’s a worthy investment.

Build a deck or enhance the one you have. Of course, the cost of your deck will vary based on size and details, but a small deck typically costs about $2,000. And it’s a favorite feature for homebuyers — by far the most common amenity mentioned in Trulia listings across the U.S., with 22 states claiming it. It’s not a huge surprise that decks are so popular, though, considering they bring in an 80% to 120% return on your investment.

$3,000 refund: Add features with ROI in mind

Add a backsplash to your kitchen.Kitchen upgrades often have some of the highest returns on investment when it comes to home improvements. If you have neutral cabinets and floors, opt for tiles with big, bold prints, like the backsplash of the kitchen at 5769 Adair Lane, Plano, TX 75024, says Roussos-Karakaian. Or go super-DIY and buy peel-and-stick backsplash tiles, which are inexpensive and removable, but look luxe.

Splurge on French doors. “Consider turning two [adjacent] windows into an opening for beautiful French or sliding glass doors,” says Sassano. “Full-view glass doors can brighten up any space and help bring the outside in. And modern doors are energy-efficient, which cuts down on heating and cooling costs.”

$5,000 refund: Go big with projects you’ll enjoy

Put up a privacy fence or replace an old one. While cost will vary depending on the size of your yard and what materials you use, a sure way to keep costs down is to avoid common mistakes. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, make sure you get the pipes marked beforehand to avoid damaging them. It’s also a good idea to have your property surveyed before you begin. Some fence installers won’t put in your fence without one! The reason? Installing your fence on what turns out to be your neighbor’s land can be an expensive error to fix. The privacy fence pictured above, at 12021 36th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98125, connects with the privacy fence of the home next door — another way to save costs.

 Create a simple outdoor kitchen. With warmer weather on the horizon for most of the nation, now’s the time to enhance your barbecue area. Keeping the essentials in one place, an outdoor kitchen gives you party access while you cook — no running back and forth from kitchen to grill. To create one, purchase a premade grill island or structure that has countertops and storage space (you can even get one with a built-in grill). Add a mini refrigerator and some outdoor furniture, and let the party begin.

 

Posted by Michelle Hainer on Trulia

Homes Under $200K With Great Curb Appeal

Stylish, affordable, and well-kept. These homes may tempt you to write a down-payment check before even stepping inside!

Whether you seek a craftsman home or your taste is more contemporary, these homes have the style you want at a price you’ll love.

Curb appeal might not be at the tiptop of your home-buying wish list, but maybe it should be. Attractive landscaping and a welcoming exterior can draw in buyers like you — but also increase your resale value when you’re ready to move on. The good news is that great curb appeal is available at every price point. We’ve found homes for sale under $200K across the country, from Pittsburgh, PA, to Sahuarita, AZ. And they all have plenty of presence at an affordable price.

Cute and vintage: $142,900, 2715 N. 68th St., Milwaukee, WI 53210

Boutiques, eclectic coffee shops, restaurants, and yoga studios occupy West North Avenue, a short walk from this adorable ranch home. The sweet two-bedroom, one-bathroom home has a gorgeous front yard. Visitors will be drawn in by the manicured boxwoods that line the sidewalk, archway, and climbing vine. Inside, hardwood floors, French doors, and crown molding add to the home’s cottagelike feel. But the most notable feature is in the backyard. There, you’ll find a private, fenced lawn with a patio that’s made for spring entertaining.

Desert beauty: $163,900, 116 W. Camino Rancho Vecino, Sahuarita, AZ 85629

Sahuarita has it all: great restaurants, an easy commute to Tucson, AZ, mountain views, and tons of golf courses. This home adds to the town’s charm. A stucco exterior complements the desert landscaping. The low-maintenance front yard adds a bit of Zen, with a few pops of color from flowering plants. No mowing needed! The neutral color scheme continues inside, making the 1,780-square-foot floor plan feel bigger. The three-bedroom home includes a large master suite and new appliances in the laundry room.

Peaceful and parklike: $174,900, 142 Jacks Run Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15214

It’s only a short drive from I-279, which brings you right to the center of Pittsburgh. But this charming three-bedroom brick home feels as if it’s tucked in the woods. The home has a tidy landscape on a parklike lot that exudes country comfort, and it’s close to five gorgeous parks. But don’t overlook the home’s remodeled interior, with crown molding and a designer-inspired paint scheme. The neighborhood offers public transportation within walking distance and easy access to Pittsburgh’s hospitals, shopping, and schools.

Big style, small price: $191,345, 1910 Macondray Drive, Humble, TX 77396

It may have a modest name, but Humble has a lot going on. There’s plenty of shopping and restaurants, and it’s close to Houston, TX, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. In the peaceful Woodland Pines subdivision, this four-bedroom home’s contemporary exterior and landscaped front lawn make a great first impression. The neat grounds underscore the home’s well-cared-for appeal, and with plants in pots and in the shade, there’s no intimidation factor. The backyard offers plenty of recreation space, with a large covered patio. And the neighborhood pool and playground are steps away.

Desert deluxe: $199,000, 138 E. Juniper St., Mesa, AZ 85201

This upgraded home in Arizona’s third-largest city is big on personality. But it’s not just the fabulous palm tree in the front yard that will pull you in. Low-maintenance landscaping, lined with river rocks, makes a charming (and easy-to-care-for) front yard. And the home’s color scheme, drawing inspiration from its desert surroundings, sets off those always-sunny skies. Interior updates include fresh paint, new kitchen countertops and appliances, and new flooring. Mesa’s relaxed, suburban feel pairs well with its year-round festivals, plentiful parks and green space, and thriving cultural district. This three-bedroom home puts you right in the middle of it all.

Southern stunner: $199,900, 3608 High Battery Bluff NW, Acworth, GA 30101

Filled with historic buildings and surrounded by gorgeous natural features, Acworth is the kind of town where visitors flock for weekends. Walking trails, Lake Allatoona, and Lake Acworth are close by. This home in the town’s quaint Charleston Park neighborhood lets you take full advantage. The craftsman-style home’s front door — complete with transom window — hints at the charm and comfort within. A welcoming front porch and colorful landscaping beckon from the sidewalk, and the home’s color scheme is a soothing backdrop to all that greenery. The interior boasts a spacious living room, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms.

Blond brick charmer: $200,000, 11422 Sky Way St., Cypress, TX 77429

Right in the middle of suburban Cypress, this four-bedroom home sits on a quiet cul-de-sac. The two-story home has fresh exterior paint, a new front door, and a large, flat lot with refreshing shade trees. With blond brick, a fresh coat of paint, and well-manicured shrubs, this charmer is ready for buyers. Thoughtful updates continue inside, with a granite backsplash, a huge master suite, new flooring, and new appliances. Best of all, the restaurants, nightlife, and shopping on Jones Road are nearby.

Posted by Brie Dyas on Trulia