Why Comps are a Homeowners Best Friend

Whether you are buying or selling a home or other type of real estate, chances are you will hear a lot about “comps” so it might come in handy to understand what they really are and why they matter.

Comps are comparisons between your property and other similar properties. Age, location, amenities, and the general condition of the home are all used to compare your property against others in the same general vicinity in order to establish a price or fair market value.

Do Not Make This Mistake

Many sellers mistakenly look at the asking price of homes in the immediate vicinity when trying to establish a listing price, but that is often a major mistake. Actual sales data is a much more reliable indicator of value, since some sellers can be overly optimistic when it comes to setting an asking price.

Buyers also benefit from obtaining accurate comp data in order to determine what amenities, upgrades, and other items are included. Even homes that superficially look exactly the same in terms of square footage or floor plans may have substantial upgrades or extras that dramatically impact the price of the home.

Get the Most Accurate Data

Insist upon accurate and up-to-date comps when buying or selling a home, and do not confuse true comps with estimates or other inaccurate sources of data. Many popular websites use estimates based upon self-reported data or generalized insurance replacement rates.  While these may be useful for rough guidelines, they may cost you tens of thousands of dollars when buying or selling a home.

Work with an agent who provides the latest information specific for the area you are considering.
Age, condition, maintenance, upgrades, amenities, landscaping, appliances, energy efficiency, attractiveness, and even whether or not you have a corner lot can make a tremendous difference in the desirability and price of a home.

Staging: an Essential Secret to Selling in a Down Market

Staging has become commonplace when selling a home, but with the recent downturn in the economy and continued sluggishness in the real estate market; staging is more important than ever.

Here are the top reasons why home-staging matters, and how you can make it work for you:

A picture is worth a thousand words: Over 80% of home buyers begin their search online, so the first impression of your home might be the last. Make sure your home looks its best.

Browsers spend more time looking at pretty pictures: Not only are buyers searching online, but they tend to spend more time viewing attractive properties than those without pictures or with “ugly” photos. Use plenty of photos to showcase your home or property.

Visualize their space, not your place: Staging becomes even more important when buyers visit in person. Properly performed home staging is essential to allowing prospective buyers to visualize the home as “their space” rather than trying to see through your clutter and belongings.  A home should be attractive yet neutral enough to allow buyers an opportunity to get a feel for how their own furniture and belonging would fit.

Not just another pretty picture: Professional staging goes beyond mere looks and even combines fragrance, tactile, lighting and other sensory input for a complete experience sure to delight potential buyers of any age and income. Staging does not have to cost a fortune to be effective, but does require experience for best results.

Easy Storage Ideas to De-Clutter Your Home

A key element in staging a home for sale is to make it look clean, spacious, and presentable.

Learn how to clear the clutter with these quick and easy storage solutions that keep your home looking its best and make moving day a breeze at the same time.

Storage Bench or Seat: Buy an attractive storage bench or seat to store toys, pet items, and garden tools in a great looking container that adds a decorative element to the space. Outdoor PVC garden benches are an easy alternative to keep a patio or porch tidy, while a toy box in each bedroom makes quick work of preparing bedrooms to be shown on short notice. Best of all, storage benches make light work of packing when moving day arrives.

Bright Boxes: Purchase bright coloured storage boxes to use on shelves or inside cabinets to reduce the appearance of clutter.

Overhead Storage Systems: Add inexpensive overhead storage systems to the garage, shed, or even bedrooms. Sturdy and easy-to- install ceiling mounted storage systems keep walkways free of debris, especially in cluttered spaces like the garage. Add colourful ribbons or bright decorations to create the perfect place for stuffed animals, games, or other infrequently used toys in bedrooms.

Racks: From bikes to hats, there is a rack for every reason, so chances are your home could benefit from a few well positioned and inexpensive racks too. Some of the more popular racks include bike racks, multimedia racks, coat and hat rack, laundry racks and of course – spice racks. Remember, potential buyers are likely to search every inch of your home including closet space, cabinets, and storage sheds to determine if their own belongings will fit. Stay prepared by presenting your home in the best light possible by putting everything in its place.

5 Quick and Easy Renovations and Remedies

Learn how to earn tidy profits when selling your home or investment property with these quick renovation and maintenance tips.

Colour: Still living in sterile white walls? Does a boring beige and brown exterior greet potential buyers? Eliminate the institutional look and give your home a brand new appearance inside and out with a quality paint job.
Clean Air: The sense of smell is a powerful tool especially when it comes to selling a home. Pet odors, smoking or other unpleasant smells can dramatically alter the impression of the home. Deep clean carpet, air vents, upholstery, and drapes plus any other absorbent surface that collects odors. Make it a priority to change the air filter and consider using an enzymatic treatment for deep-set odors. Marketing companies use smell to sell everything from new cars to clothing; put the same tips to work when renovating by using fragrance to create the impression of quality, comfort, and cleanliness.

Clear Clutter : Visually a few well placed large objects of contrasting colours are more attractive than numerous small items. Use this knowledge to tackle objectionable areas and transform them into the center of attention both inside and outside the home.  Expand small rooms by adding a window that draws the eye outward or coordinate colours to give the impression of uniformity instead of clutter to make a small kitchen or bathroom look larger.

Carpet Fixes: Before spending big dollars on new carpets, consult with a specialist capable of repairing and restoring the rugs throughout the home. It is often possible to blend or repair burns, snags and stains to make the carpet look nearly as good as new.

Conserve: Invest in low-maintenance lawns, water-saving devices and energy efficient appliances that will appeal to tenants and potential buyers alike. Green is in.

How Great Landscaping Says Come Inside!

Creating an inviting landscape not only ensures a positive first impression with buyers but may also increase your home’s value and lead to a quicker sale.

You don’t have to spend a lot to make big improvements in your home’s curb appeal. Keeping your lawn manicured – mowed and edged – and trimming bushes and trees is an inexpensive way to make a positive impression on buyers. You’ll also want to remove any dead or diseased plants and ensure beds are weeded and freshly mulched.

Before beginning any landscape project, make a plan. And if you live in a neighbourhood with restrictive covenants requiring approval by a landscape committee, be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid spending money on projects that you may be forced to undo later. A project plan will also help ensure that you make wise choices and stay within your budget.

Use colour and depth to create visual interest, and select a variety of plants that bloom or change colour throughout the year so your yard will be attractive regardless of the season. If your yard is open to neighbours’ yards, a street or public areas, consider screening to create a more private space. This can be accomplished with evergreen trees and bushes or with an attractive fence.

Sometimes what you remove from a yard can be as important as what you put in. If the front of your home is obscured by overgrown trees or bushes, remove them or trim them back to help buyers get a clear view of your home. Remember that the goal is to create a welcoming first impression that says”Come in!”

Trends in landscaping

  • Low maintenance vegetation: less lawn to mow, helps keep weeds in check.
  • More trees: enhance beauty and provide shade.
  • Decks, patios and terraces: offer outdoor living space for dining, entertaining and relaxation.
  • Outdoor lighting: provides enticing views of your home and landscaping at night.
  • Irrigation system: costs more but simplifies lawn care and is attractive to buyers.

Use Lighting to Add Value to Your Bathroom

Lighting is a great way to give your bathroom a whole new look and feel – and it’s an easy way to add value to your home.

Keep in mind that you can never have too much light in the bathroom. It is recommended that you layer light sources to provide enough illumination for applying makeup and for shaving while reducing glare.

· Begin by selecting an overhead fixture for general lighting in the room; cove and recessed lighting are popular choices.

· Recessed lighting in the shower area makes shaving and shampooing easier.

· Your tub area needs good general light, which can be offered by recessed light fixtures. To avoid glare, aim the light’s beam at the outside edge of the tub.

· For vanity areas, keeping in mind that recessed lighting tends to cast shadows on the face, consider adding lights on both sides of the mirror, set at eye level. Coated or frosted bulbs are a good choice because they enhance facial features and reduce glare, while warm fluorescent bulbs offer even illumination for the face. Good picks for vanity lighting include vertical strip fixtures or decorative wall sconces.

· Linear lighting systems are great for illuminating the floor. Place them in the toe space below the vanity and cabinets.

· Don’t block out the light from windows – it will supplement or replace electric options.

· Remember that fixtures in wet areas must be approved for such use.

First Impressions Count: Make Your Home Really Stand Out

First impressions at house showings are everything; when there is an excess of inventory on the real estate market, you need to make your home the one buyers just have to have – you must be the standout. Here are some ways you can do that.

Give your Realtor talking points – say what’s good about your home. Maybe it’s in a prime location with access to great schools and amenities, has a bustling nightlife, or enjoys a private, quiet setting – whatever you think is great about your home.

Show you care about your home – make it loved, and make it show. Make sure that your house is sparkling clean for every showing and impeccably maintained.

Get rid of any trash and clutter – open up your home to make it feel more spacious and sell yourselves as conscientious homeowners passing down a family treasure.

Don’t let anything in or outside of your home be in disrepair – because you’ll give the impression that this is a home not worth caring about.

As maintenance goes, painting is your number one best property maintenance investment – it’s relatively cheap, covers neglected surfaces, and gives everything a fresh, clean topcoat. There is just no better bang for your home improvement buck.

Cleaning your home for every showing is absolutely critical to selling it at a favorable price.

Relocating? Tips to Help Figure Out the Cost

Americans are mobile by nature so it should come as no surprise that relocation is a major reason for buying or selling a home.

Deciding to pick up and move to a new city can be a great opportunity to increase your standard of living for the entire family for years to come, but there are also pitfalls.

Failure to properly consider the full cost of relocation can turn a joyful event into pure stress.

Learn how to calculate the full cost of relocation with these quick tips.

Cost of Living

If you currently reside in a high cost area of the nation like D.C. or New York City, then most places will seem more affordable.

On the other hand, moving from a relatively rural area to a major city can result in daunting increases for housing, taxes, and even insurance.

Commute and Convenience

Urban warriors relocating to small town life are often giddy at the prospect of saving a bundle on mortgage and insurance.

Before you get too excited, take time to calculate the cost of the new commute and convenience. While it is true that small town living has its advantages, expect to invest more time and money in gasoline, groceries, and other routines.

Cleaning, Clearing and Leaving

Do not forget the cost of moving itself. Whether you rent a truck and do it yourself, or pay to have everything handled professionally, relocation is expensive.

Include moving fees, cleaning, utilities, insurance, down payments, and lost wages, just to name a few of the anticipated expenses.

Taxes

One frequently overlooked expense involves potential taxes. Be sure to calculate the cost of any taxes that may be due on the profit of the home if you have not owned it for at least five years.

Selling Your Home? Discover How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

With a little information and attention, expensive mistakes for the homeowner can be avoided.

Price

The single biggest mistake people make is setting the asking price too high. An amount suited both to the home and to the market conditions attracts the greatest number of prequalified buyers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a higher price in the end.

Home Staging

Houses not shown at their best are another source of lost profit. Act on any advice you are given about cosmetic changes and minor repairs.

A clean, tidy and sweet-smelling home goes without saying.

· Set viewing hours for the greatest accessibility to buyers. In a competitive market, people can easily go elsewhere and fall in love with another house.

· Don’t be home during the showings. Prospective buyers feel more comfortable raising concerns and poking about when the current owners are not present.

· Remove as many personal items as possible. The things that mark the house as yours interfere with the buyers’ abilities to imagine it as theirs.

Other Considerations

Sell before you buy to avoid loss of negotiating position at both ends. Plan for the move early, and pack as much as you can as soon as possible.

How to Show Your Home if You Have a Pet

Selling a home with a pet in residence can be a difficult undertaking.

Many home buyers – even those with pets of their own at home – can be put off by yours.

Pets Can Make Visitors Nervous

No one thinks of their own pet as scary. But even the mildest mannered cat or dog (not to mention snakes or mice!) can make a visitor nervous.

Perhaps the most common response from a home seller about the “threat” posed by their pet is denial: “Buffy is a sweetheart. She won’t hurt anyone.”

But no owner can be certain of how a pet will respond when strangers enter the home in their absence.

An unexpected reaction could frighten potential buyers away before they’ve even looked at your home.

Ask Friends for Help

The safest course of action is to remove a pet from the home while it is listed for sale.

Ask friends or family members to care for the pet, or board it at a nearby facility.

If this is not possible, put your pet into a carrier during showings and alert visitors not to disturb it.

Remove Stains and Odors

Buyers also frequently take issue with a pet’s impact on the cleanliness and condition of the home.

Pet stains, odors and damage are a big turn-off and can significantly decrease your home’s value in the market.

Use the Professionals

To help your home bring the highest possible price, remove stains and repair any damage your pet may have caused.

Consider having your home professionally cleaned, and have a friend verify that your home doesn’t have an objectionable odor.

Store pet accessories out of sight.

The goal: to create a positive first impression with potential buyers.

Vital Ideas to Make Moving Home as Easy as Possible

Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. So here’s a quick guide to make it as painless as possible.

Decide what not to pack

Now’s a good time to declutter your life by deciding which items you don’t want to take with you. Decide what you want to give away, throw away, or sell.

Get packing materials

If you’re not using a professional mover, you’ll need to get some packing materials. Bookstores often have strong boxes they don’t want anymore — call on the day of a delivery to ask for them.

Draw a floor plan — and use labels

Create a plan of your new home that you can use as a guide throughout the moving process. Label each of your boxes according to this plan. And clearly list what’s in each of the boxes.

What to pack first

Pack things you don’t need often first. Books, out-of-season clothes, and memorabilia make good candidates to go into boxes right away.

Pack “essentials” boxes

Mark some boxes as “essentials” and put in them the things you need on your first night in your new home. Then you won’t waste time (and valuable energy) trying to find important things.

Food…and plants

Food, particularly from the freezer, isn’t easily stored, so try to use it up. Put plants in big plastic bags to avoid dirt spilling.

How to Use Paint to Make Your House More Saleable

One of the easiest ways to freshen up your home is with paint. If you’re selling, painting your interior walls can give a great return on investment — a much higher selling price for little investment on your part.

If you’ve just bought a home, giving your house a new paint job is the quickest way to make it feel yours.

Repair blemishes

If you’ve got cracked or peeling paint, you’ll certainly want to repaint before you put your house on the market. Tired paint makes buyers think the house hasn’t been well maintained.

Tone down your colour scheme

While the colours in your home might appeal to you personally, it’s important if you are selling your home that they appeal to the widest market possible. So that means avoiding bright, unusual colours and changing colours that were fashionable a few years ago but now look dated.

The safest bet is neutral tones. Avoid white in most situations, as this colour can look clinical, and instead choose beiges and earth tones. Don’t feel the need to use the same colour throughout — choose shades that match with your furniture and fabrics.

Types of paint

If you have imperfections in your walls, choose a paint with a flat finish, as this will conceal them.

Make sure you use washable paints in bathrooms and kitchens — an interior flat enamel is good for this.

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Most buyers make up their minds about your house in the first 30 seconds after pulling up outside. So it’s vital you make the outside of your home as attractive as possible if you want to get the best price you can. After all, a neat and tidy, well-cared for home will beat a rundown, shabby house any day. Here are some easy tips.

Mow the lawns and keep the flower beds neat: This will give buyers the impression they can move in right away without maintenance headaches.

Add colourful flowers: Invest in some planter plots and fill them with beautiful blooms to give extra impact to your home’s entrance.

The front door: Make sure it’s freshly painted to look bright and inviting. Polish the doorknob and street numerals, too.

Screen unsightly areas: Lattice or bamboo screens are available cheaply and will block any ugly vistas.

Move the toys: While it’s OK to have a child’s bike outside in a family-friendly area, remove any toys strewn over the yard.

Get that manicured look: Add mulch or compost around flowerbeds to make your garden and plants look cared for and healthy.

Keep it clean: Use a power-washer to give your walkways a clean, fresh look.

Essential repairs: Make sure there are no loose shingles or guttering.

7 Things that Will Stop Your House Selling

Poor curb appeal

Buyers won’t even go inside if the outside of the house looks unappealing. So clean up your front yard by tidying plants and pulling up weeds. Make sure the outside of your home looks well cared-for by painting the trim, mowing the lawn and placing attractive potted plants by the door.

Unpleasant odors

You may not even notice bad odors, but buyers surely will. Smoking and pets are the prime causes, so smoke outside while you are selling your house and consider what to do with your animals. Allow the house to air out thoroughly before viewings – don’t just try to mask the odor with another scent.

Loud and scary pets

Apart from the odor of some animals, a big dog or noisy bird can be off-putting to some buyers. So keep your dog away when you have viewings so your potential buyers aren’t distracted or, worse, scared.

Signs of damp

Problems with damp are a big turn-off to many buyers. Make sure your basement doesn’t smell damp and there are no signs of damp on the walls. It’s much better to fix problems now than wait until buyers point them out to you.

Dirt and grime

Although dirt is usually only cosmetic, it deters buyers, who will start to think the house isn’t well cared for. So make sure your kitchen and bathroom, in particular, are clean.

Bad décor

Although your home’s décor shouldn’t matter, to many buyers it does. That’s because many want a house they can move into right away. So replace any tired or out-of-date carpets or wallpapers with a more neutral, modern scheme.

Wrong price

If your house it too expensive compared to similar properties on the market, you’ll turn away viewers. So take your agent’s advice when it comes to setting a price for your home.

Quick Fixes for a Great-Looking Kitchen

Cabinet Doors

Damaged or dirty cabinet doors are a big turn-off for buyers. But that’s easy to fix. Most cabinetry can be re-painted after cleaning it and applying a coat of primer. Just check that the materials can take paint or whether you need to give any special preparation to the doors first. Alternatively, you can just replace the doors. There are companies that provide doors to fit existing kitchen cabinets.

Hardware

Another way to fix up cabinets is to replace the hardware, perhaps changing out-of-date fixtures for sleek, modern ones. This is a very cheap and easy way to update your kitchen.

Sinks and faucets

Try trading your faucets for more modern designs and replacing a damaged or very dirty sink.

Appliances

People love modern stainless steel appliances. It could be a good investment to upgrade your appliances to the most modern designs to give your kitchen the ‘wow’ factor.

Backsplash

An easy way to update your kitchen is to replace the backsplash. Subway or mosaic tiles or a sheet of stainless steel are very popular right now, and this quick change can really lift the feel of the room.

Flooring

Dairy, tired linoleum floors will turn off buyers. Try updating with tough laminate flooring or some tiles that tie into the rest of the kitchen.

Paint

Change the décor easily by repainting in fresh, modern, neutral colours. A coat of paint can be a very cheap way to refresh the look of your kitchen.

Clutter

Just by simply removing the clutter that accumulates on your countertops, you can freshen up your kitchen. Throw out things you don’t need; put away others you use only occasionally.

How to Use Lighting to Make Your Home More Attractive

If you plan to sell your home, you can make your interiors and exteriors shine by improving the lighting. Here’s how.

Drapes and shades: Natural light works best during the day. So make sure to open all drapes and shades to let in the sunlight.

Highlighting: Put emphasis on the room’s focal points, such as an alcove or artwork, by using lighting. Use task lighting in such spaces.

Exterior areas: The driveway and other such areas can be lit with the help of low-voltage string lights.

Doorway lamps: You can greatly enhance the curb appeal of your home by placing interesting lamps on your porch.

Security lights: Lighting placed around your house needs to be high up to ensure enough light is spread. Try using bright lights for the exteriors.

Shining out: Lighting which accentuates the interior of your home should also be visible from the outside. Use lighting to add a feeling of warmth and grace to a room before people even come into your house.

Mood and theme: If your home is chic and modern, try using a clean and simple lighting design. For more classic styles, use ornate lighting, such as chandeliers.

LED lighting usages: New to the market, LED lights work best for the kitchen, bathroom and other functional areas.

How to Make Your Home’s Entrance Enticing

 

Curb appeal is vital if you want your home to sell quickly for a good price. To create that enticing look, you don’t necessarily have to undertake extensive landscaping or major fixes to the exterior of the building. Instead, you could just concentrate on the entrance to your house.

Lead them in

You want to do everything you can to lead your guests (and potential buyers) into your home. Make it clear where the entrance is by emphasizing it, using some of the techniques in this article.

Accessorize

Make sure all your door hardware (the door knocker, handle and hinges) are new or look new. You can buy matching hardware cheaply. Alternatively, give what you already have a good polish. Invest in a new house number and mailbox that complement the rest of your hardware.

The door

Make sure the door looks bright and fresh. Paint it to match the rest of the trim on your house and keep it clean of dirty rain splashes.

Steps and railings

If there are steps up to your home, make sure they are well kept and safe. Check metal railings for rust and make sure they stay firm when visitors hold them.

Plants

Use containers or hanging baskets to mark the way to your home. They are easy to maintain and provide a splash of colour. Try placing one container or basket on either side of the door to frame the entrance.

Lighting

Consider adding attractive lights to emphasize the entrance and make it more attractive at night.

Add a chair

If you have space, place an attractive chair near the entrance. It gives the impression your home provides a relaxing place to sit and rest.

Don’t forget a welcome mat

As a finishing touch, put a new mat outside the door.

How to Make Your Bathroom Look Spacious

 

It is no secret that one of the key things people look at when they are buying a house is the bathroom. That is why it is so important to make your bathroom look as big, beautiful and up-to-date as possible. Unfortunately, many bathrooms these days are quite small, but there are ways of making them appear sleeker and larger.

Fixtures and cabinetry

One thing that can help is to install fixtures that are as high-tech and as contemporary as possible. Their streamlined appearance can give a bathroom a more spacious appearance.

Another way to make a bathroom appear larger is to remove all bulky cabinetry. For instance, if you have a sink that is encased in a big clunky cabinet, you can remove it and get a freestanding sink.

Buying fixtures that are smaller than usual can also make the bathroom look bigger.

Toilets, bathtubs and showers

You can buy toilets nowadays that are very narrow and sit close against the wall.

You can also buy “tankless” toilets that situate the tank on a pipe high above the actual seat.

Old-fashioned bathtubs can also take up a lot of room in a small bathroom.

One solution might be to rip out a large bathtub and replace it with “a newer, smaller one — or, have a bathroom with just a shower stall.

Redoing the floor in stone and having an open shower with a glass stall can also make a smaller bathroom look more luxurious and spacious.

Colours

Yet another way to keep the bathroom looking spacious is to avoid painting it in dark colours — keep the walls and shelving as pale in colour as possible.

How to Create a Beautiful Focal Point for Your Room

Having a focal point is critical if you want to create a room that feels comfortable and useable. And when you’re selling your house, you’ll make the room more attractive to buyers because they’ll feel more at home when there’s a focal point for them to rest their eyes on.

Some rooms have natural focal points, such as a fireplace, architectural details or a picture window with a view.

But if your room has none of these, you could try placing a large piece of furniture such as an armoire or a tall bookcase along one wall, using an ornate mirror or large painting, or adding a table with your favorite ornaments or mementoes arranged on it.

If you have a large, flat-screen television, this might make a suitable focal point, but many people prefer not to make a TV the center of attention, as it can look unattractive when switched off.

The focal point doesn’t have to be on the wall — a large area rug placed under a coffee table can also work well.

A fireplace is perhaps the best focal point in a living room. To accent it further, place a painting or mirror above the hearth.

In a bedroom, place the bed along the longest wall; add attractive bedding and a well-designed headboard.

All furniture in a room should be arranged around the focal point, helping draw your eyes to the right place. It’s almost as if you are “framing” your focal point with the furniture and other decorations in your room.

How Summer Container Plants Will Help Sell Your House

Container plants are an easy way to give immediate visual impact to your home, creating that important curb appeal – the “wow” factor as potential buyers pull up outside. Here are some important tips to make sure you use containers effectively.

Use big containers

Don’t be afraid of using big, bold containers. They will have much more impact and will be easier to care for because they won’t dry out so easily. Smaller containers tend to get lost in the landscaping, so you’ll lose the visual impact you’re trying to achieve.

Use quality containers

Avoid plastic containers, as these can look cheap. Terracotta, wrought iron, or zinc containers look great. Choose a container that complements your house and the rest of your landscaping. For example, if you have iron detailing, find a matching container; if you have brick paving, a terracotta pot might look good next to it.

Fill them with plants

For immediate results, fill your containers with more plants than you normally would. Otherwise, you will be forced to wait for the plants to grow before your container will look lush and healthy.

Feed your plants

Make sure you keep your containers well maintained by watering and feeding the plants regularly. You want buyers to think the containers are always there, not just a quick fix.