Improving Curb Appeal for Selling Homes During Real Estate Downturns

Of First Impressions

It may sound cliched, but the truth is "first impressions are the best impressions". First impressions hold a key to a lot of social, interpersonal, and business relations as well as outcomes. Research has established that the first few seconds of your meeting with a prospective employer can determine the chances of your succeeding at getting the job beating out stiff competition.

The age old cliche of "first impressions" can be comfortably extended for homes going on sale as well. A beautifully landscaped "home-for-sale" exudes the confidence of a cool job applicant in a perfectly tailored suit with a firm handshake. Like the sanguine job applicant walking away with the job, the home with a lovely curb appeal finds a taker easily.

When you pull up to an eye catching house, it advertises and sells itself. Additionally, a smart curb appeal job can inflate your real estate value by as much as 12.4%. So even if there is a slump in the real estate market you do not lose out.

Curb Appeal and Professional Landscape Management Firms

The thought of buffing up your home on your own to increase its face value might be an appealing idea. But it is better to leave the job to a professional landscape management firm. They have the expertise to pull the existing and new together for a harmonious result.

Professional landscape management firms will add or remove elements to the landscape for improving your home's curb appeal. Trained professionals from landscape management firms can transform your exterior landscape by re-designing existing plant beds with new shrubs, evergreens and perennials. They can also add curb appeal with flower planters and decorative structures strategically placed throughout the property. Outdoor lighting is another strategic way to enhance the beauty of the landscape.

Curb Appeal in Chicago

A house that may be put up for sale in the future has to have a landscape that will be pleasing to others' tastes. Older people prefer trees in their property and younger people love the lawns. According to Angela Ford, CEO of T.A.G Properties Inc., Chicago, a quicker way to enhancing curb appeal is to add shrubbery, bushes, and evergreens to frame the entrance.

Realtors in Chicago, like the rest of the realtors of the nation, believe firmly in the importance of curb appeal. Nearly 83% of the realtors feel that the saleability of homes listed under $150, 000 is greatly affected by mature trees in the landscape. This perception rises to 98% of realtors in case of properties listed above $250,000.

There are interior design firms that "stage" homes for sale. When planning to put your home on the market, don't forget about your home's landscaping. It too should be staged. Let professional landscape management firms, like many of those in Chicago, provide you with solutions to enhance your homes curb appeal and, therefore, its saleability in a changing housing market.

How to Make a Buyer Fall in Love With Your Home

If you are thinking of selling your home, there are a number of things you can do to improve the "showability" of your home. But first, let's look at your home through the eyes of the buyer.

Inside:

1) Open the window coverings and let the sun shine in. Window coverings should be cleaned so that they are not dusty. Have your windows professionally cleaned - you won't believe the difference!

2) Turn on all lights - day or night. Clean all light bulbs, light fixtures and chandeliers. Wherever practical, install higher wattage light bulbs to further brighten your home.

3) Create the illusion of spaciousness, remove all clutter from each room to visually enlarge them (imagine a builder's model home). Improve traffic flow and create a feeling of spaciousness by removing unnecessary furniture, knick-knacks, hobby items, children's items, etc. Organize your closets and cabinets, remove unnecessary items and put them in storage. Rent a storage area if needed, or pack it in the garage. You're going to move anyway -- start now!

4) Light your fireplace during the winter.

5) Keep your home dusted and vacuumed.

6) Have a family "game plan" to get the home in show condition quickly - everyone should have an assigned task.

7) Remove all smoke odors, pet odors, and odors resulting from hobbies. When possible, air out your home before the showing. Lightly spray room freshener so that it has a chance to diffuse before the buyer arrives.

8) Make sure that beds are made.

9) Bathrooms should be kept clean, toilet lids down, no hair in the sink. Do not leave dirty towels out; wipe down the shower areas after each use. Repair or replace broken tiles on walls, floors or in showers/tubs. Recaulk if the caulking is chipped and/or stained. Put out fresh towels and decorative soap for showings.

10) Fix dripping faucets, remove rust stains from basins.

11) The kitchen should be kept clean. Remove all grease from range hoods, ovens, stovetops, walls, etc. Expand your counter space by removing small appliances - everything except those items used on a daily basis - remember: picture a builder's model home.

12) Shampoo all carpets and vacuum as necessary. If the carpet does not clean up well, ask your agent if you should replace it.

13) First impressions: Does the doorbell work? Invest in a new doormat. Make sure the front door, screen door, etc. open easily and are visually appealing. If necessary, paint all entrance doors.

14) Create the feeling of a spacious entry area by using decorating accents, mirrors, rugs, etc. and by removing all unnecessary clutter.

15) Remove any excess extension cords and exposed wires.

16) Clean and shine all accessories (door knobs, knockers, lamps, mail boxes, address numbers, etc.)

17) Paint inside walls with a neutral colored paint. Usually, all walls should be painted, not just washed. This will brighten the home and make it look bigger and cleaner. Depersonalize teenager's rooms and decorate in a more neutral manner. Remove posters and adhesive from walls and doors and putty any holes resulting from nails or other mishaps. An investment in painting your home can make a big difference. Where necessary, repair or replace doors, closet doors, and/or windows and screens so that they open with ease.

Outside:

Remove dying plants or keep them out of sight. Keep the yard mowed, raked, weeded, fertilized and watered. Trees and shrubs should be pruned and trimmed. Use plants and flowers on porches and front walk way - create curb appeal! Hoses and garden equipment should be kept neatly out of sight. Remove all toys, bicycles, tools, unattractive patio furniture, trash, etc., from the yard. Outdoor furniture should be kept clean.

Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the house should be kept uncluttered, swept and in good condition. Keep trashcans deodorized, covered and out of sight.
Highlight your pool area, water garden, etc. with lighting, benches, planters, flowering plants, etc.
Create an outside living/dining area with furniture and plants.

Don'ts:

Don't volunteer information
Don't answer nosey questions
Don't let strangers in "off the street"

Do:

Enlist the service of a professional Realtor to market your home in trade magazines, newspapers, call capture 24 hour hotline, Internet sites, Virtual Tour, etc. Make your home look like a model even if isn't - contact a Realtor that provides complimentary home staging as part of their bundle of services.

Home Improvements and the Television Shows That Can Guide Them

The kitchen is one of the areas of a person's home that is most often improved. Many people are simply not satisfied with the kitchen that their house or apartment has when they move in. Lots of people ultimately look to redo their kitchen lighting, possibly by adding sky panels. There are lots of television shows that can in fact help people decide what to do with their homes, or whether to buy a new one entirely. While watching these shows people can see some renovations done on other people's homes and decide if the same renovations or similar ones would be right for their homes.

One show that can both entertain and sometimes help viewers decide what to do with their homes is the show called House Hunters on HGTV. The show features a person or couple that is looking for a new home. They are then taken around by a real estate agent in their chosen city and shown three houses from which they can choose. Each of the places the participants are shown usually has their own pros and cons, some are too expensive, some do not have the proper floor plan and others are too much in need of fixing. At the conclusion of the show, an offer is put in by the person looking for a new home and then an update is given on what they have done with their new living space since moving in and how they like it.

Another show that can sometimes help people with their own home renovations is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. On the show the crew, including a carpenter, various designers and decorators, takes a family that is down on their luck and helps them redecorate and completely redo their house. This can help people watching at home because again, some of the renovations seen on the show could be appropriate for the home of the viewer. The people on the show are some of the best in the business when it comes to carpentry and interior design and decoration so it could be very beneficial for people looking to do home improvements to watch the show and see what each of the experts' think of certain things regarding home makeovers.

Finally, a last show that can help people with home renovation ideas was Trading Spaces. Currently in syndication, Trading Spaces revolved around two neighbors who trade houses. Then each neighbor, with the help of the team of designers and carpenters that the show provides, renovates one room in their friend's house. This is another show that could ultimately help people decide what to do with their own renovations from watching what the people on the show do.

In tough economic times and with the housing market not doing well home improvements are a very important part of the economy. By watching just a few episodes, or for those with very small amounts of patience a few minutes, of certain television shows people might be able to figure out what they want to do with their house renovations.

Boost Your Home's Resale Value Guaranteed

1) Lawn-care/landscaping. A lot of people overlook this one. A green lawn is a plus. A weedy, crabgrass filled lawn will detract from your homes presentability and value. Its not hard to green your lawn (use a weed & feed and apply it to the whole lawn - $20-$30). It will take a few weeks and will yield a major improvement. Have the lawn professionally cut (they will edge your lawn, remove weeds, etc... for $30 or so per session) - it shows you care and cared for your house. Well placed shrubs, trees, and flowers can make the ugliest home inviting. They can also hide shortcomings, misaligned panels, meters, hoses, pipes, and other out yard detriments and annoyances.

2) Paint/pressure washing the exterior. Many times the outside will brighten up with just a quick pressure washing (average $100-$150). This will remove dirt, cobwebs, some stains, mildew, etc... If there is more left when done you will need to repaint the exterior (average $500-$2000). This is more expensive, but will definitely brighten up your house and make it more marketable.

3) Driveway. Look at your driveway. Does it have oil stains, spots, look aged? Revitalize it. A good pressure washing will help most driveways. For stubborn oil stains and spots spray a mixture of 10-30% muriatic acid on the concrete wait one minute then pressure wash off. This will remove the most stubborn stains better than anything else. Be careful not to spray the acid on your lawn or let the over-spray from pressure washing get on the lawn (it will kill your grass and turn it yellow fast).

4) Entrance-way. If you don't have a decorative glass door, get one. They are easily installed (goes on in front of your front door) and greatly dress up or finish a well kept house - they give it that finished touch. Also a few nicely trimmed potted plants, decorative plants and shrubs will add that welcoming and cozy feeling. Remember 95% of all home buying purchases are heavily influenced by a woman. Make them feel at home and you will get a much higher price and return for just a little work and a little money - well worth it.

5) Inside paint and trim work. This is a must. Have the interior repainted along with the trim work. Little dings, marks, scuffs, do detract from your homes value. Pick or stay with neutral colors. For free expert advice call your local realtor and ask them what sells (colors, etc...). They will be glad to tell you as you may become a client for them.

6) Make sure your appliances that are staying with the house all work.

Women are prone to try out appliances in the kitchen. Replace any mismatched appliances and upgrade to stay in tune with your neighborhood. Do not out price your neighborhood or you will risk throwing away money. Your realtor can best help you here as to whether you should go with granite, tile, formica and similar questions.

7) Useable space. Take that attic or extra closet and turn it into a bathroom or extra room if it is feasible. Remember the rule - square footage equals money. The more useful room you have the more you will get.

8) Carpets. Have them professionally cleaned and replaced if necessary. Potential buyers will be looking with the mindset of how much money and time they will have to put in to make it liveable and homelike. The more you help them, the better off you will be. There's nothing like a stained carpet to bring down your value and deter buyers. Don't just try the cover up method. These spots will come out when the buyer does their preclosing inspection - and don't think they won't.

9) Have your home inspected. Have the foundation, roof, plumbing, etc... checked out. By having the results of a positive inspection in hand for potential buyers it shows that you know you have a good, well cared for house. The buyers will be willing to pay more for your house. Also have it inspected for pests, ants,and other insects.

There you have it 9 steps that will guarantee a much higher resale value of any house in any area or neighborhood.

Five Ways to Make Your Home Wonderful

What is it exactly that sets one home apart from another? Why do some homes radiate such appeal even when located in the same area and of the same basic design as less attractive houses? More important, how can we make our homes stand out above all the other houses in the neighborhood?

This is not an idle question or one that serves only our pride of ownership. Warmth, charm, beauty, uniqueness and livability are what people want most when they buy a home. Besides the daily pleasure of an attractive and functional living environment, an appealing home can easily return a 25% to 30% increased profit over similar homes of the same basic style, size, configuration and location. As a 35 year veteran of the real estate profession, I have seen time and time again where style and grace add up to the maximum return on an owner's housing investment while poor taste and planning adds up to disappointment and frustration. The sad part is that the unfortunate owner who is forced to sell his or her home for less than market value generally puts just as much time, money, and effort into their property as the successful owner. What then makes the difference? For while the difference between homes is obvious, how they got that way is not. Of course, it's tempting to say that some people just have a flare for artistic and useful design--a gift.

But what these clever artists of their living environment really have in common is a way to look at the problems most homes have and see how these problems could be resolved. This is the single most important skill anyone interested in buying a home must have. Because most of the homes put up for sale are there because the owners have found fault with them and want to leave. Excellent homes rarely come on the market and when they do they are snapped up for top dollar--often much in excess of the intrinsic value of the house based on the quantifiable elements such as square footage, number of rooms, location, etc. Simply put: grace and beauty sells. Here then are five ways to conceive of any house in terms that do not require an ethereal gift from above to transform it into a home of lasting beauty and wide appeal.

1. Evaluate the size and placement of rooms in relationship to each other.

Form follows function. What is each room's function? Is it a private space or one where friends and family will gather? How well will each room function in terms of your family and your needs? There is no right answer here. Some people prefer homes with many smaller rooms while others prefer large open spaces. In addition, the relationship between room sizes is important. Large living spaces and small bedrooms, for instance, resonate poorly with most people's sense of proportion. If a room or area fails to meet our needs walls can be added or subtracted. Additional living areas can be created in appropriate basement areas and even by raising the roof to add another story.

However, there are limits in terms of cost and practicality as to how a given floor plan might successfully be rearranged. Bearing walls (those that support structures like roofs and floors) are difficult and often expensive to remove or relocate. Many non-bearing walls contain pipes and other mechanical elements that must be considered. While walls can be "bumped out" to add more space to rooms, considerations such as set-back and the location of underground structures must be factored in. Finally, though existing rooms can easily be judged functionally, how changes made to these same rooms will affect the home's sense of proportion is not always apparent. This is where an architectural designer is invaluable. But in the initial evaluation and planning stages a sketch may be all that is needed to determine the feasibility of a project. Design kits are available with standard sized furnishings to give an approximate idea how the room will function after a floor plan alterations.

2. Pay close attention to traffic flow.

This essential element of any fine home is often overlooked. Well, not so much overlooked as misunderstood. The most effective way to judge a floor plan for traffic flow is to start at the entrance. This is not necessarily the front door but rather the entrance where friends and family arrive. Is this entrance welcoming? Is there a covered place to stand outside? Is the entranceway set off from the rest of the room it opens on? Benches, plants, and book shelves add appeal. Windows and side-lights bring light and warmth into the area. Decorations say 'welcome'. Now walk through the home. Is the shortest path for friends and family members to their destination through the center of main living areas? Can this be altered by furniture placement or structural alterations and additions so that a circular path is created around the parameters of main rooms? On the other hand, a floor plan that is more like a maze--especially if one private room such as a bedroom must be reached from another private room--creates a sense of disharmony and poorly used space. Extraneous hallways and other transition areas offer little return for the area they consume.

3. Let there be light!

Nothing improves the ambiance of a home more than natural light. Main rooms benefit from multiple exposures by bringing in light in from different directions during the course of the day. Kitchens and breakfast rooms benefit from morning light, living and dining rooms from afternoon and evening light. Windows can be added or enlarged. Even rooms where additional windows cannot be added can receive sunlight from light tubes piped from the exterior. Windows can be arranged for passive solar heating and cooling. Roof overhangs, awning, and deep-set window openings, besides adding a sense of shelter and protection, can limit the amount of solar radiation in the summer and increase it in the winter. Vegetation can also be arranged to shade the window and flood the window with light and solar warmth in the months when the leaves have fallen. Energy saving window treatments can be employed to keep heat in while brightening up the interior of the home at night. In the warm seasons these same window treatments can reduce air-conditioning costs.

4. Harmonize the house with the location.

How does the house relate to its surroundings? What is the view from each window? What is the noise level? How can privacy be maintained? Can these elements be improved by removing or adding fencing or landscape elements? Is there a nice view where there is no window? Could one be added? What about entrance and egress to the exterior spaces of a home? Sparse exits and entrances can make a house feel constricted, trapped. Consider the private garden. Is there a space--perhaps at the side of the house adjacent to the master bedroom--that could be turned into a private garden or retreat? If a garden space is not available, a private deck or balcony could be added to open a room to the outdoors.

The front porch too is an often overlooked ingredient in the overall appeal of a home. Porches are an excellent way to add architectural appeal that both assimilates a home to its surroundings and sets it apart from others. Consider transforming a porch into a three-season room with the addition of screens and glazing. However, converting a porch into a fully heated room may cause a problem with the foundation if it was not intended as such. Solar rooms are also in demand, though often located in more private areas. Large glass doors open the home to the exterior. Walls can be made of glass or glass brick. Bay windows, gazebos, covered walkways, patios, walled gardens and courtyards, breezeways and trellises, add enormous appeal.

Above all, blend the outdoors with the interior in a seamless flowing manner that does not require a separate effort to use. Spaces that are a bother to get to are rarely used to their full potential.

Decks should be thought of in the same way as any room addition. How will it be used? How will it be approached? Is it in a naturally occurring spot where people naturally congregate? Can the usefulness of a deck be enhanced by covering it? How about screens? Or are there other areas of the home that already meet the requirements of inclement or buggy days?

5. Integrate material and finishes as an essential element of the overall design.

Use materials that connect the home to its outdoor environment. For instance, a home on an open lot might use the sun and sky to bathe rooms in light while offering cool shade in others. A wooded lot might call for a house with natural wood siding and floors while fostering warm interior colors in contrast to the greens of the forrest. Elements of stone might be brought in from a location with natural stone formations. Colors from the outside can be brought in. A house can be made a part of a historic community by choosing period colors. Textures and color give a house character when in keeping with the style and utility of the home we create. Rooms and areas can be brought into harmony by repeating these choices throughout. Even the raw building elements of a house such as rafters, beams and brick can be blended into the home to create a sense of permanence and strength.

These five are the main areas to focus on when making living space decisions. They are all about function and form. Their essential value is as old as civilization itself. In fact, Aristotle spoke of the Four Causes of objects that produce form and function as truth and beauty:

Material: That out of which something is made.

Maker: The means by which something is made; who made it.

Result: That which is made, the thing itself.

Purpose: What it is made for.

A bit abstract, perhaps, but if you think about the elements of a home in these terms a value can be perceived and appreciated. Now all that remains is to determine if a particular house can be modified to improve its essential beauty and utility at a cost likely to be recouped at sale. In the meantime, your home will be a constant source of pride and enjoyment as long as you own it.

What Are the Different Methods of Getting Cash For Homes?

This year people are making the choice of selling homes more than the last year. The housing market is not as rough as it could be but people are worried about making cash from homes quickly so as to save themselves from the loss that may come with further decrease in the rates of property. In this article you will get few tips through which you can get cash for homes quicker than any other agency or online firm.

Contact your buyers for action

It is not very easy to get good number of customers through the medium of advertisements as everyone is following the same strategy online. Try to contact the Property Investors using different headlines that will call buyers to action. You have to make your catchy enough to force them to read it. The best method is to talk about money. Tell them how this is the best time to purchase a property as the price they will be paying for a property is much lower than the price they had to pay five years ago. Also give them various other benefits linked with purchasing property like, buying the property now at market value and doubling the money later.

You can also attract property buyers and get cash for homes by quoting the present time as the best time due to the lowest value of property of ever. People need something so that they can attract towards your deal. And if you will follow the same methods of selling home as the others are following then surely you will have to wait for a long life to sale it. But if you did use your own specific ways of getting attention then you can get the cash property buyers you are looking for and that too quickly.

Advertise, as in For Sale By Owner

Most of the investors and buyers are looking for Sellers these days due to the declining prices. No one is interested to pay huge commissions to the real estate agents and is working on their own to find a suitable property for themselves. Therefore, you have a better chance of attracting potential customers on your own and can also negotiate the costs with them without involving a third party. Even though the number of buyers in the market is quite high but still they are quite reluctant in purchasing a property at the proposed rates.

Changing the look of your house

If you want cash home buyers, you are looking to get by selling home then it is essential that you make your house look interesting and attractive to them. The look of your house matters more than anything else. If your customer is not attracted by the look of your house then he may not be interested to go inside it. Therefore to carry the deal further and impress the customer with your property you will have to decorate it and make it look appealing. Remove unwanted and extra stuff lying here and there in your house and try to empty up space. When you allow light to enter your house it gets affected and makes your house look bigger and spacious. Therefore, it is important that you follow certain steps that will help you improve the value of your house.

Five Ways to Make Your Home Wonderful

What is it exactly that sets one home apart from another? Why do some homes radiate such appeal even when located in the same area and of the same basic design as less attractive houses? More important, how can we make our homes stand out above all the other houses in the neighborhood?

This is not an idle question or one that serves only our pride of ownership. Warmth, charm, beauty, uniqueness and livability are what people want most when they buy a home. Besides the daily pleasure of an attractive and functional living environment, an appealing home can easily return a 25% to 30% increased profit over similar homes of the same basic style, size, configuration and location. As a 35 year veteran of the real estate profession, I have seen time and time again where style and grace add up to the maximum return on an owner's housing investment while poor taste and planning adds up to disappointment and frustration. The sad part is that the unfortunate owner who is forced to sell his or her home for less than market value generally puts just as much time, money, and effort into their property as the successful owner. What then makes the difference? For while the difference between homes is obvious, how they got that way is not. Of course, it's tempting to say that some people just have a flare for artistic and useful design--a gift.

But what these clever artists of their living environment really have in common is a way to look at the problems most homes have and see how these problems could be resolved. This is the single most important skill anyone interested in buying a home must have. Because most of the homes put up for sale are there because the owners have found fault with them and want to leave. Excellent homes rarely come on the market and when they do they are snapped up for top dollar--often much in excess of the intrinsic value of the house based on the quantifiable elements such as square footage, number of rooms, location, etc. Simply put: grace and beauty sells. Here then are five ways to conceive of any house in terms that do not require an ethereal gift from above to transform it into a home of lasting beauty and wide appeal.

1. Evaluate the size and placement of rooms in relationship to each other.

Form follows function. What is each room's function? Is it a private space or one where friends and family will gather? How well will each room function in terms of your family and your needs? There is no right answer here. Some people prefer homes with many smaller rooms while others prefer large open spaces. In addition, the relationship between room sizes is important. Large living spaces and small bedrooms, for instance, resonate poorly with most people's sense of proportion. If a room or area fails to meet our needs walls can be added or subtracted. Additional living areas can be created in appropriate basement areas and even by raising the roof to add another story.

However, there are limits in terms of cost and practicality as to how a given floor plan might successfully be rearranged. Bearing walls (those that support structures like roofs and floors) are difficult and often expensive to remove or relocate. Many non-bearing walls contain pipes and other mechanical elements that must be considered. While walls can be "bumped out" to add more space to rooms, considerations such as set-back and the location of underground structures must be factored in. Finally, though existing rooms can easily be judged functionally, how changes made to these same rooms will affect the home's sense of proportion is not always apparent. This is where an architectural designer is invaluable. But in the initial evaluation and planning stages a sketch may be all that is needed to determine the feasibility of a project. Design kits are available with standard sized furnishings to give an approximate idea how the room will function after a floor plan alterations.

2. Pay close attention to traffic flow.

This essential element of any fine home is often overlooked. Well, not so much overlooked as misunderstood. The most effective way to judge a floor plan for traffic flow is to start at the entrance. This is not necessarily the front door but rather the entrance where friends and family arrive. Is this entrance welcoming? Is there a covered place to stand outside? Is the entranceway set off from the rest of the room it opens on? Benches, plants, and book shelves add appeal. Windows and side-lights bring light and warmth into the area. Decorations say 'welcome'. Now walk through the home. Is the shortest path for friends and family members to their destination through the center of main living areas? Can this be altered by furniture placement or structural alterations and additions so that a circular path is created around the parameters of main rooms? On the other hand, a floor plan that is more like a maze--especially if one private room such as a bedroom must be reached from another private room--creates a sense of disharmony and poorly used space. Extraneous hallways and other transition areas offer little return for the area they consume.

3. Let there be light!

Nothing improves the ambiance of a home more than natural light. Main rooms benefit from multiple exposures by bringing in light in from different directions during the course of the day. Kitchens and breakfast rooms benefit from morning light, living and dining rooms from afternoon and evening light. Windows can be added or enlarged. Even rooms where additional windows cannot be added can receive sunlight from light tubes piped from the exterior. Windows can be arranged for passive solar heating and cooling. Roof overhangs, awning, and deep-set window openings, besides adding a sense of shelter and protection, can limit the amount of solar radiation in the summer and increase it in the winter. Vegetation can also be arranged to shade the window and flood the window with light and solar warmth in the months when the leaves have fallen. Energy saving window treatments can be employed to keep heat in while brightening up the interior of the home at night. In the warm seasons these same window treatments can reduce air-conditioning costs.

4. Harmonize the house with the location.

How does the house relate to its surroundings? What is the view from each window? What is the noise level? How can privacy be maintained? Can these elements be improved by removing or adding fencing or landscape elements? Is there a nice view where there is no window? Could one be added? What about entrance and egress to the exterior spaces of a home? Sparse exits and entrances can make a house feel constricted, trapped. Consider the private garden. Is there a space--perhaps at the side of the house adjacent to the master bedroom--that could be turned into a private garden or retreat? If a garden space is not available, a private deck or balcony could be added to open a room to the outdoors.

The front porch too is an often overlooked ingredient in the overall appeal of a home. Porches are an excellent way to add architectural appeal that both assimilates a home to its surroundings and sets it apart from others. Consider transforming a porch into a three-season room with the addition of screens and glazing. However, converting a porch into a fully heated room may cause a problem with the foundation if it was not intended as such. Solar rooms are also in demand, though often located in more private areas. Large glass doors open the home to the exterior. Walls can be made of glass or glass brick. Bay windows, gazebos, covered walkways, patios, walled gardens and courtyards, breezeways and trellises, add enormous appeal.

Above all, blend the outdoors with the interior in a seamless flowing manner that does not require a separate effort to use. Spaces that are a bother to get to are rarely used to their full potential.

Decks should be thought of in the same way as any room addition. How will it be used? How will it be approached? Is it in a naturally occurring spot where people naturally congregate? Can the usefulness of a deck be enhanced by covering it? How about screens? Or are there other areas of the home that already meet the requirements of inclement or buggy days?

5. Integrate material and finishes as an essential element of the overall design.

Use materials that connect the home to its outdoor environment. For instance, a home on an open lot might use the sun and sky to bathe rooms in light while offering cool shade in others. A wooded lot might call for a house with natural wood siding and floors while fostering warm interior colors in contrast to the greens of the forrest. Elements of stone might be brought in from a location with natural stone formations. Colors from the outside can be brought in. A house can be made a part of a historic community by choosing period colors. Textures and color give a house character when in keeping with the style and utility of the home we create. Rooms and areas can be brought into harmony by repeating these choices throughout. Even the raw building elements of a house such as rafters, beams and brick can be blended into the home to create a sense of permanence and strength.

These five are the main areas to focus on when making living space decisions. They are all about function and form. Their essential value is as old as civilization itself. In fact, Aristotle spoke of the Four Causes of objects that produce form and function as truth and beauty:

Material: That out of which something is made.

Maker: The means by which something is made; who made it.

Result: That which is made, the thing itself.

Purpose: What it is made for.

A bit abstract, perhaps, but if you think about the elements of a home in these terms a value can be perceived and appreciated. Now all that remains is to determine if a particular house can be modified to improve its essential beauty and utility at a cost likely to be recouped at sale. In the meantime, your home will be a constant source of pride and enjoyment as long as you own it.

Finding a Professional to Sell Your Real Estate

Are you considering selling your real estate? Are you imagining how much money you might be able to save by selling on your own, without the help of a realtor? While this may seem like a great plan, remember that things are often much more difficult than they appear. People assume that they just need to take out an advertisement or post a sign on the front window and everything will come together. This just isn't practical.

A Realtor Helps Get You Ready

When you look at your real estate, you probably see all the positive points. You believe it is on a nice piece of land. You think that from the street, the house looks amazing. You even like the colors that the walls are and the way that the space is decorated, there is a good chance that your home could use some improvements. A realtor can come in and help you stage the rooms of the home to make them more appealing to potential buyers. You can make small changes that can end up being a real investment in the amount of money you get out of your real estate. Follow all given directions to ensure that your space is looking its best.

A Realtor Knows How to Advertise

Getting the word out there about your house is not always easy. Realtors understand how people search for real estate. They make sure that properties are displayed in the right placed so that the right buyers are taking a look. Aside from just a general description, photos are posted to show the space in the best possible light. If there are features that would be desirable to a potential buyer or views that people would love to have, the realtor makes it a point to show these things off. You don't just want to list a property for sale; you want to make sure that it stands out from the competition.

A Realtor Brings in Buyers

All of the advertising in the world may not be enough to get people interested in a certain piece or real estate. The goal is to make the place seem amazing to someone in the market for a similar property. Realtors often set up open houses to allow potential buyers to come in and take a closer look at a given space. The times are usually on the weekends to make it more convenient for everyone involved. Postcards or other invitations may go out and most realtors network with others in the industry to get an idea of which individuals have clients looking for specific types of properties.

Home Staging - A New Business Opportunity In Dubai?

Home Staging, as it's called in the US, or Home Doctoring if you are in the UK, is a long established practice when preparing a house for sale. Traditionally, it is almost always a lived in home or property that is 'staged' in preparation for a sale or open house viewing day.

The reason a home is staged is to make it look fresh and inviting to interested people who come in for a viewing.In many real estate markets worldwide, a real estate agent or consultant will always advice you to either stage a home yourself, or seek the services of proper home staging firms.

Yes, such a service may not be that familiar with residents and even real estate agents here in the UAE, and why should it be? There are hardly any homes that are lived in for that long, that they need to be staged to sell them.

In fact, it is radically different here. Properties and homes still have that fresh brick and paint smell whenever there is an open house. If indeed there even is such a thing as an open house! With most properties being bought out within a few hours of their launch announcements, it still is a virgin market for real estate. But the market is changing, and there are many sought after projects that have been completed, lived in and most importantly, have become established communities to live in.

The homes in these projects are what would benefit from Home Staging services. Such projects as Emaar's The Greens which feature apartments only, and projects such as the Springs and The Lakes, which feature villas and town houses, are today going head to head with newer villas and apartments coming on the market.

Are these 'older' structures really that old and lived in that they need Home Staging? Far from it! they are around 4 to 5 years old, hardly what you would call 'lived in'. Yet, as with all things nice and shiny that is the way of life here, it is not uncommon to find clients say that they want to buy into new projects only.

This is where there is a small Home Staging market opportunity. But wait, that really isn't the market potential we are talking about here in this article...

Home Staging Newly Built Homes:

This is a different take on Home Staging, and would be best suited to the unique real estate market in Dubai and the UAE. Currently, as is witnessed by picking up a news paper, there are apartments and villas getting completed and delivered at a phenomenal rate here. There is also no dearth of ready investors as well as people who are re locating to this oasis to start of their lives. So why stage them in the first place if everything sells without effort?

The reason we see a good business opportunity in staging newly built homes, is to attract the attention of buyers who will soon be able to physically visit these completed projects and they may be a completely different perspective than when they were sold only from brochures and DVD videos earlier.

Consider some truths...

1) The Building is completed, but is in the middle of a construction site, because other buildings and towers in the vicinity are still being completed over the next couple of years. - Will home buyers prefer a home here over a more peaceful locality?

2) On paper and on DVD a 389 sq foot studio apartment does not convey a true sense of space, after all, the tiny graphics used to denote beds and wardrobes always seem to fit in perfectly in a drawing - not so in real life! So a properly appointed interior decorator / Stager is needed to do up a studio apartment to convey a feeling of coziness, yet space and richness to the client. An empty studio is a box and will not make the cut!

These are only some reasons how and why Home Staging is a beneficial proposition for newly constructed homes.

Getting into the Home Staging Business:

Typically a Home Staging business either uses whats available in the home that is for sale, or has an inventory of furniture, and other home fittings that they rent out to a client to spruce up a home for open house day.

This is exactly how Home Staging works... They come in, fix up the place, and then take away the equipment that has been placed in.

Now, there is no way a Home Staging business would be able to cope up with having inventory for the multitude of homes that are freshly 'baked' here and coming online. So how would a small property developer or interior decoration firm diversify into the Home Staging scenario?

We saved the best tip for last! - By getting into a tie-up with Luxury goods, furniture giants and home electronics companies here.

Consider this - One of the primary reasons people are buying a home in Dubai and soon AbuDhabi, is that they are already sold on the lifestyle of the country!

They are sold on the luxury, the environment (social and climate) and have made a choice of wanting to live here. The speculation phase of real estate is soon coming to an end and thankfully real home owners are showing up asking to buy properties.

So for a single person looking at living in a studio apartment or a small family moving into a one bedroom apartment, considering that space is going to be a compromise, having it staged with the right kind of furniture and electronics goes a long way in helping them make up their minds, more so if the project is in the middle of a construction site!

This is where a proper partnership with a furniture company can mean a win-win-win situation for the Furniture company, the home buyer and the Home Staging firm. Chances are that people will more likely take the (discounted) furniture and interior package with the brand new apartment.

This would definitely hold true for larger Villas and Duplex apartments where money is no objective to the home buyer and a Jacuzzi (R)(Tm) and outdoor private sauna room could make all the difference when closing the gap between a Villa by the Sea or a villa with a desert scape.

The staging skills of the Home Staging Company is what will bring it success!

Sell Your House Fast in a Slow Real Estate Market

The time may come when you need to sell your house right away. It could be for any number of reasons: The children have all grown and left the house so now you're looking to downsize. Maybe you are moving to a new home even though you still haven't sold your old home and cannot afford two mortgage payments.

A slow economy is a big challenge for any homeowner needing to sell their home. Many homes for sale are remaining on the market for much longer than expected. If your home needs some work, it could take even longer to sell your house.

Sell your house to a professional investor

If you are motivated to sell your house right away, you should consider contacting a profession home buying investor to purchase your home. A professional home buyer invests in real estate property. An investor buys homes, fixes them up, and then resells them for a profit, so they are always looking for new homes to buy. They buy homes in any shape. They buy fixer uppers and distressed properties as investments to fix up and resale later. This creates a win-win situation between you and the home buying investor. You are able to sell your home much faster than you might in the current market, and get paid right away. The investor has an opportunity to make a profit.

Reasons not to use a real estate agent

One of the first things you might consider when you need to sell your house is to hire a real estate agent. You may not feel qualified to handle selling your home all on your own, but there are a few things you should consider about using an agent. First, an agent cannot guarantee that they will able to sell your house fast, especially in a slow economy. If your home is in perfect shape and the price is considerably lower than the market value, it could sell quickly, however there is no guarantee.

There may be unexpected costs associated with hiring a real estate agent. For one thing you will be responsible for paying your agent a small percentage when you sell your home. The agent may make suggestions to help sell your house that require a financial investment. Home improvements and repairs, landscaping to increase curb appeal and staging the home with furniture and decor items. These may not be options for you if you are experiencing financial trouble and just need to sell your home as quickly as possible. In this case a real estate investor may be your best option.

Finding real estate investors

You may not get the full market value of your home when you sell to real estate investor. But you need to consider your personal circumstances and weigh the pros and cons. Are you struggling just to make your mortgage payment each month? Are you facing foreclosure and need to sell your house right way? Have you received a job offer in another state that requires you to relocate in just a couple of weeks? Real estate investors will purchase your home in any condition and close quickly with a cash payment.

Is investment real estate legitimate?

Some people believe that professional homebuyers are a scam. The truth is there are scams out there, but not every real estate investment company is a scam. Many investors are legitimate businesses able to help you if you need to sell your house fast. For many this is a much better option than damaging your credit with a foreclosure or bankruptcy. Professional homebuyers offer a quick close and fast payment for those who want to avoid the red tape associated with putting their home on the market.

If you are experiencing an economic crisis and need to sell your house fast, you know how overwhelming and stressful it can be. You can have a hard time concentrating on what to do about your home under that kind of stress. Real estate investors help you sell your house fast with no complications.

Getting Your Home Sale-Ready

Selling a home in today's unforgiving real estate market is no easy task. Many sellers are holding off until there is an upturn or are slashing prices in order to unload unwanted property. If you want to get the best price for your real estate, you have to plan ahead in order to keep up with stiff competition.

Any possible investment in staging, renovating, or even just tidying up will help make you home more saleable and fetch a better price. Start your pre-sales attack early and follow these tips to help you successful in your sale.

1. Cleanup

This is the easiest, most cost-effective, and too often overlooked method of increasing your odds of a quick-sale. But it isn't just about more thorough dusting, you'll want to rent specialized equipment or hire experts to scrub your home from top to bottom.

Carpets and window treatments should be steam cleaned and even the hardest to reach windows need to be squeaky clean both outside and in. A sparkling home makes it easy for potential buyers to envision themselves moving in right away.

2. Make It Neutral

It's important to make the house appealing to a wide range of potential buyers by creating a neutral palate. This not only applies to the paint on the walls and the carpet color, but you'll want to remove any items or decorations that are too personal. A few family photos or landscape paintings are fine, but you'll want to put your porcelain clown collection in storage.

3. Perfect Imperfections

You know that squeaky step you've learned to ignore over the years? How about those windows that you have to prop open with a folded wad of paper? Buyers will zero in on these defects immediately, and they will count against a potential sale. Have a real estate agent or trusted friend help you identify problem areas that need attention. Many of these you can fix yourself for minimal cost.

4. Beauty On the Outside

It's true that many homeowners are notorious for yard neglect, but curb appeal is important when selling real estate. Although buyers may not know the difference between Kentucky bluegrass and rough bluegrass, they will let an expanse of crab grass deter them from making an offer. A clean facade, neat lawn, and driveway in good condition will help draw in buyers. After all, the first test is getting them through the front door.

5. Invest in Renovations

Not every seller has the luxury or time to invest back into the real estate that they may be desperate to sell, but if possible it is a wise idea. Even updating a single bathroom or adding new cabinets to the kitchen can help pull in a higher asking price. Some new tile, hardware, or lighting can make dramatic changes on small budgets.

If you're not experienced with home improvement, however, spend the extra cash to hire a professional. Mistakes and lost time can be much more costly than getting it done right the first time.

Great Tips to Decorate the Exteriors of Your House

In the world of real estate, home staging is almost like interior designing. However, home staging focuses not only on enhancing the appeal of the interiors, but also the exteriors of a property. Unlike interior designing, the main idea behind staging a home is to sell it as fast as possible, at the best price. Here are some great ideas to improve your home's outdoor appearance.

* Use your creativity and imagination while decorating the outdoors. Identify what can be the best use of different areas in your yard. For instance, if you like eating outside, then add a set of stylish table and beautiful chairs. But while choosing outdoor furniture, do make sure that it goes well with the design of your house. Besides, if you or kids enjoy playing outdoor games like badminton, volleyball etc then you can consider adding a net stand for such games.

* Apart from the ones suggested above, the backyard of a house can also be decorated using the following - a hammock, garden ornaments, plants like planted trees and flowering plants. You can even add a nice fire pit and statuary to make best use of your garden area.

* It is great to make a right division of your entire background. This can be done using dividers such as hedges, fences etc.

* Sometimes, it can be really hot or really cold, due to the temperature extremes. Thus, it is advisable to put a nice rug in your backyard. There is an extensive range of outdoor rugs available in the market. Choosing an attractive rug would make your house look more welcoming.

* Add colorful fabrics to brighten up your yard. You can very easily find an excellent variety of outdoor fabrics in the market. Choosing the best ones that can match with the exteriors of your house would be great fun and apparently would create cozy atmosphere.

* Add an attractive fireplace in your backyard. It may be used to ward off the coldness during winters and can even be utilized for cooking. For many people, cooking outside their house in the backyard is a hobby. Cooking outside and having the meals together with friends and family, in front of the lit fireplace, sets a mood and increases everyone's appetite.

As decorating the outdoor area of a house is a tough job, to succeed with your plans of staging the exteriors of your house, you need to put equal efforts as you would put in decorating the interiors. Your garden area or porch is an important part of your house and enhancing its appeal can present you with a quick sale. It is the very first part that a buyer sees while making a visit to a house for sale. So, implement these handy tips to make sure your prospective buyers are totally impressed with your property.

Points to Consider in Selling a Home in Sarasota Real Estate

Is your home still in the market for long period of time without any offer? Do you know the reasons why? Have you look around your home before posting it for sale?

You have to know that in selling your home in Sarasota real estate, you do not just post a for sale ad without making any preparations or home improvements. Definitely, you want to make a quick sale of your home in Sarasota real estate and to have the best money out of your home.

Have you look around and see how your home looks like? Let us start from the outside of your home, do the fade faded away already? Do you think a home with faded paint can attract buyers? You do not have to spend too much money in improving your home; you can just use cheap paint. Just make sure to clean the walls with soap and water to remove the dirt before painting, in order for you to put at least one coat only.

Now, let us move on the yard, you have to know that this is the first thing that the buyers can see. Does it look pleasing to you? If it needs to be clean, do so. Mow the lawn, trim the tress. It is even better if you plant flowers on the empty flower boxes, this can attract buyers.

Now let us move on inside the house, have you removed the clutter? Have you put away your personal belongings? Your personal belongings may have sentimental value to you because it has something to do with your history, but you have to bear in mind that you are already selling your home, and your main goal is to make buyers feel that they are the ones living in your home. So you have to remove your personal stuff.

You have to make sure to make the home comfortable to live in and make it spacious. Yes, spacious, but it doesn't mean that you will empty the home. Just put furniture and d├ęcor that can attract buyers, do not over decorate it, and make it simple but modern.

Check every part of the home. Clean each room and remove the clutter. Check out the faucets, if it needs replacement, and then do so. Make sure that the kitchen and bathrooms are clean and shiny.

Make sure that your home is free from odor. Unpleasing odor can make buyers move away. So make sure it is odor free. Clean the curtains, towels, rugs, to make sure that the home is odorless.

If you have pets, you have to put them on the right place; do not let them roam around the house. Be reminded that not all people are pet lovers, so you have to make sure that your pets are on the right place.

Working with a real estate agent can be a great help as well. The agent can help you put on the right price for your home. But make sure to find the best real estate agent, an agent that will work for your benefits. These are few of the points you need to know and consider in selling your home in Sarasota real estate.

Eliza Maledevic Ayson http://www.srqmls.com

14 Tips That No Buyer Should Overlook When Buying Real Estate!

If you have never purchased a property before you may find that information regarding real estate may be very helpful. In this article, we will provide you with some basic advice for making a financially sensible real estate purchase.

If you are purchasing real estate and require the services of an agent, it is important to make certain that the agent you hire has a good reputation. You can research agents online, as well as look up their standing with the well respected Better Business Bureau. Your most valuable references will always come from first hand sources, such as your friends or co-workers.

If you have sufficient funds, avoid purchasing a house that is in front of or behind a busy road. You might be saving money, but you will soon find out why the price was so low. Although you might be comfortable with the noise associated with a busy road, others are not. This will make it more difficult for you to find a buyer later on.

Do not purchase a home that has a fireplace in any room other than a family room. It can be aggravating to clean a bunch of fireplaces, especially if they're rarely used.

Lots with a view can come with a high price tag attached. Think carefully before you pay that premium. This feature is entirely subjective and perhaps your buyer will not find it interesting. Pay for the home and view you love, but don't pay too much.

Research the local market. Look at some websites such as City-data.com to get information about average selling prices, average number of days listed on market for homes to sell in your specific zip code, foreclosures, and other sources of information. Also, learn about income levels, unemployment rates and local employers. A product with a great location can actually override local trends.

When you are ready to make an offer on a home, ask the sellers to consider financial incentives such as help with any closing costs. A seller is commonly asked to make a temporary buy-down on the interest rate. When you add some financial incentives to your offer, the seller will be unlikely to attempt negotiations on the selling price.

Do not rush into purchasing real estate without doing your homework. If you do not research the property you are interested in purchasing, you may make a bad decision and purchase a piece of property that will cost you time and money. Prior to spending your money on anything, inquire about the area that the property is located in, how much crime is in the area, how old the property is and more.

Plan out your questions before you have a chat with an agent in real estate. Ask them not only the number of homes they have sold in the past year, but also, how many were the type of home you are looking to buy. The real estate agent should be ready to answer any of your inquiries in a professional way.

When you are looking for a home to purchase, ignore the decor. You should base your decision on the condition and construction of the home. If you are finding yourself more drawn to a home's decor, you might become oblivious to more costly issues that will come up after you make the purchase.

You will know what the seller is asking for a home you are considering buying, but you still need to determine your own offer. If you haggle with the seller a bit, you can probably come to a selling price that makes you both happy.

Be flexible in your choices. If you do find a perfect house in your desired location, it might be out of your price range, but choosing either a different location or a less perfect house could make it affordable. Keep your eyes open and don't fall in love with only one style of home in one particular area of town.

Don't give up even if your offer is turned down, as many sellers will search for ways to make it work. The seller might take care of a portion of your closing costs, or make some other improvements to the house for you.

Buy your dream house. Many investors say not to sell your home and buy something larger, while others disagree. Housing prices right now are low, which means finding your dream property could be a reality.

Do your research to find out about potential properties and how much you can charge for rent. There are a number of features to look at when buying rental property. The most important thing to check for is the actual house itself. How solid is the property? Is age a factor and will it sustain a long life cheaply? The second aspect to consider when purchasing is the location. Location is definitely highly important when it comes to purchasing rental properties. Consider the needs of your tenants in regards to shopping and access to service providers. Lastly, average income in the area is also important. This attribute is quite different than just simply looking at location, because it is about high rent areas and low rent areas. Also, know that location doesn't matter quite as much in affluent areas as it does in impoverished areas.

As shown in this article, there is a lot to learn about real estate, and it can be intimidating. However, if you put in the effort and use common sense, you will quickly find yourself becoming an expert. Being highly organized will make the process less difficult and less confusing.

Home Staging Makes Your Property Appealing to Buyers

Planning to sell your home and at profit? Then, you need to know what prospects look for while purchasing a home. According to a study conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, better presentation is the key to sell a home and to reduce time for listing in real-estate market. The survey indicates that one in each three buyers looks for homes that need minimal repairs. This shows the importance of home staging before selling the house. In this article, let us know more about home staging, staging methods and their advantages.

What is home staging?

It is the art of highlighting a home's strengths by making it brighter, cleaner, more visually appealing, without major renovations. It makes prospects of selling the home better in a short span market listing.

Home staging can be done either by home owners or professionals, and involves not just decorating, but minor repairs at eye catching locations such as doors, fireplace, floors, windows, electric switches, removing contents that are likely to distract buyers' mind and making sure that it is not too dark in the interior of the home.
These amendments maximize all rooms functionality and create potential sense of inspiring buyer's mind that benefits you to sell with profits.

Different methods

• Partial home staging: This is best for those owners who want to sell with minimal investments to present homes to prospective buyers. This involves rearranging furniture, fixing masonry cracks, painting with attractive colors, adding greenery, removing outdated housing hardware units, improves lighting, and adding interior decorations. Planning for partial home staging is to amend things which buyers usually look for in general.

• Full home staging: It is a way of adding a new set of furnishings, art work, accessories to present the home in it's best to show in an eye-popping setup to buyers. Full home staging is very effective in real-estate marketplaces and gives your property an overall perfection that makes it sell at a profit and within a short span of time. It involves installing a whole new set of furniture, creating comfortable room environment, arranging furniture to create focal points, giving art work and decorating.

Benefits

Home staging benefits you to present your home for a good impression that enables faster sale with a higher number of referrals and a better sale price. Buyers themselves come for your home and this makes it to last for fewer days in real-estate market.

Other benefits are - it creates an effective visual appeal. This makes buyers spend more time to connect with the home, and enables them to overcome stress of sales competition. Also, staged homes give buyers a feel that they are well furnished and maintained, bring in additional value to them, and makes it easy for your prospects in decision making.

Retractable Awnings - 3 Ways They Add Value to Your Home

If you are a Do-It-Yourself type of person, then the idea of adding to your house's hospitality potential gets you excited. Design and decorating ideas make you salivate, and you keep your eyes open for new ways to increase your home's market value.

Have you heard about retractable awnings? If so, they likely strike you as a good way to control sunlight and create shade in strategic areas. You've probably thought about them as a tool for enhancing outdoor areas. And these are realistic benefits that awnings provide. However, there are additional ways that awnings can be employed as part of a home improvement strategy, increasing the resale value of your residence. Here is a summary of three significant ways this happens.

First, retractable awnings alter the interior environment of your home. That might be surprising, since awnings are usually applauded for their deck or poolside uses, but stay with me. Here's the big picture: If you install awnings above windows on the sides of your house that are routinely overheated, you can cut glare UV rays by 94 percent and lower the temperatures inside your home by up to 15 degrees (American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers).

The upshot is that you won't find yourself pulling blinds to combat the direct sunlight. Your home furnishing won't be bleached by the sun. And the inside of your home will have a more open, inviting atmosphere, illuminated (not scorched) by filtered sunlight.

Second, retractable awnings make your home stand out. This is all the more true in areas where the houses have similar architecture. Realtors say that curb appeal is one of the primary factors that come to bear on potential home buyers: What is their immediate impression when they pull up to view your house? Awnings come in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes to match any type of home. By blending them with your existing architecture, you'll add appealing personality to your entry areas, decks, patios, or windows.

Third, retractable awnings multiply fuel efficiency. The obvious way this happens is by saving you cash on utility bills, since awnings have the ability to lower interior temperatures dramatically (see above). However, studies by the EPA reveal that this type of energy efficiency affects a home's eventual resale value as well--so there is a pay-off down the road as well as an immediate one. Approximately, for every $1 saved on utility bills, a residence adds $10-25 in resale worth.

We can see how this might add up by performing a few quick calculations. Awnings installed over bright windows can lower interior temperatures by up to 15 degrees. In turn, this cuts air conditioning bills and results in overall energy savings of 25 to 34 percent, depending on climate. Let's do the math.

If you pay $80 a month on electricity, strategically installed awnings would save you a minimum of $25 per month and $300 per year. If we multiply that number by the low resale value stat ($10 more in resale worth for every utility $1 saved), we end up with a $3000 increase in your residence's asking price. You would actually realize these savings by situating awnings above the sun-baked windows of your home (typically south, west, and east sides), lowering them in bright weather, and retracting them on overcast, chilly days to take advantage of solar heat.

If you're the type who keeps a look-out for affordable home improvement projects, you may want to take a closer look at retractable awnings. There aren't many DIY projects that can match their combined economy and style.

Fix it and Flip it - How I Lost Money on Real Estate

I've known a lot of people who have lost money when they sold their homes. In fact, I'm one of those people, and it's happened to me more than once.

There are a number of factors can cause a financial loss when you sell your house, including the need to sell at the wrong time due to divorce or an impending foreclosure, or a downturn in the local real estate market. However, it's also common to lose money simply by making too many expensive changes to the house before putting it on the market. This is how I lost money on real estate, before I wised up.

My most resounding failure in the fix it and flip it market was a house I bought in Spokane, Washington. Knowing what I know now, I would have restricted myself to replacing the carpets and the kitchen and bathroom fixtures, painting inside and out, and buying new appliances. I probably would have replaced the old-style windows, too, to make the place look nicer and appeal to the energy-conscious buyer. These fixes could have been done easily within the two years I needed to live there to avoid capital gains taxes.

Since I didn't know what I know now, I made major renovations, which included moving the bathroom. I did most of the work myself, but the materials alone cost more than I could get back when the house was sold. With the exception of repairs done to the house to make it eligible for an FHA loan and watering the grass, I doubt that any of my major projects really helped me sell the house or increased its value.

If a house is actually sound, with no structural damage or insect problems, the biggest reason it will sell for less than its worth is usually cosmetic. This was certainly true of the house I bought in Spokane. Dirty carpeting, and a wall in the living room covered with mirror tiles, kept most buyers from going any further into the house. I could see past the cosmetic problems and see the home's full potential - but my imagination went a bit too far.

The floor plan was odd, and slightly inconvenient, but leaving the bathroom where it was would have been far more rational, financially. Why didn't I do that? Because my emotions and my nesting instincts took over, pushing aside all thought of future gain or loss.

Let's face it - most people don't buy their own homes with the intention of making a profit, although they certainly hope the house will be a good investment. In fact, the emotional stress caused by the process of buying a house and moving into it can be enough to completely erase any thought of moving again a few years later. However, I know several families who have made a very good living by buying underpriced homes, living in them and fixing them up, and then selling them when the IRS will allow them to do so without paying extra taxes. Clearly, these folks don't make any changes to these houses without carefully considering the bottom line.

After my Spokane adventure, I decided to learn from my mistakes, and find out how to stop losing money on houses. I read books by authors who are experienced in fixing and flipping houses - and then read them again. When I saw that most remodeling projects almost never recoup their costs when the house is sold, I was a little shocked, because I had been guilty of almost every mistake on the list at one time or another. I know many people who have also made the same mistakes, even when they started those remodeling projects with the intention of increasing the value of their homes.

When I bought my next house, I kept that list very firmly in mind. For instance, my kitchen was badly in need of a major overhaul, (or so I believed), and it was far too small. I pored over the latest home decorating magazines, and ideas came flooding into my head. I thought about knocking out some walls, and I even tried to imagine adding on to the house to make the kitchen bigger. New cabinets would be needed, and new appliances...

In the end I painted the kitchen cabinets and replaced the sink with a new one I purchased at Ikea. I covered the chipped orange Formica counters with printed cotton fabric, and coated it with many layers of water-based Verathane that was intended to protect wood floors. The complete "remodel" cost less than $400, as opposed to the thousands of dollars that I would have spent if I followed through on my idle dreams of a "perfect" kitchen. Since the house sold at a very good price within two weeks of listing it, my buyer obviously didn't mind that the kitchen didn't meet my idea of perfect. Because I kept my costs down, I made a handy profit on the sale.

Would I have been able to sell the house for more money if the kitchen had been remodeled and expanded? Perhaps, but not enough to cover the cost of the remodel. Although the National Association of Realtors lists a kitchen remodel as one of the projects that will increase a house the most, they still advise that you should expect to get back only 80% of the costs. If your new kitchen is far fancier, bigger, and more expensive than any other kitchen in the neighborhood, the returns will be even less. A full kitchen remodel can cost thousands of dollars, so the 20% you don't get back can be a big chunk of change.

Does this mean that you shouldn't make changes to your home that would make you happy? Not at all, especially if you intend to live there for many years. But it does pay to sit down with your spouse or partner before you start making your remodeling plans, determine exactly how long you'll be staying in the home, and then think about the full financial implications of the remodeling project. Even if you don't think of yourself as a professional house flipper, it might pay to slow down a bit and find ways to improve the home without spending money you'll never see again. As a bonus, your family might be able to avoid the stress and disruption of all that remodeling mess.

Home Buying: Resale vs. New Construction

It can be a difficult decision whether to purchase a resale home or a new home from a builder

Although new homes typically have a higher sales price than comparable existing homes, buyers are willing to spend more up-front with an understanding that part of what they are paying for is assured low maintenance costs. A builder's warranty, along with brand-new roof, appliances, furnace, and other operating systems that make major repairs unnecessary, work together to counteract possible slower appreciation initially.

Buying New Versus Resale

In today's highly competitive market there is a vast array of choices to be made when deciding on the type of dwelling you wish to reside in. Below is a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of buying a new home versus a resale home.

Advantages of a New Home

One of the primary advantages of buying a new home is the ability to decorate your home from the beginning exactly the way you want. You can pick all the colors, which range from paint to carpet. You can also make the tile and cabinetry selection for the kitchen and bathrooms.

Often, new homes will have more modern conveniences, better insulation and can be more energy efficient.

Disadvantages of a New Home

Unfortunately, with a new home purchase you should be prepared for the on-going construction you will find around you. Chances are that your grass and lawn will not be in, your driveway will be gravel and your street will turn into a sea of mud whenever it rains or snows. If things are going to go wrong with a newly constructed house, they will appear in the first one to two years.

As the house settles you may find cracks appearing in the walls of the basement, especially near any windows in the basement, make sure you get them fixed right away. Also, you should not finish your basement in a new home for at least a couple of years, just in case cracks and leaks develop.

There are additional expenses associated with new homes that you will not typically find in a resale home. For example, you may have to spend additional money for appliances, curtains, drapes, central vacuum, humidifiers, decks, fencing, electric garage door openers, finishing the basement, walkways, outdoor lighting, indoor light fixtures, trees, shrubs, gardens and landscaping, children's play sets, swimming pool, air conditioning, etc.

Closing costs are typically higher for new homes. The purchaser will pay for such additional costs as the New Home Warranty Program, tree planting, utility hook ups and paving of the driveway.

Usually, when you buy a new home, you don't have an opportunity to see the actual layout. All that is provided is a blueprint and in many cases the end product may be a disappointment to the purchaser because of changes that the builder or sub-contractor does not follow or does themselves. Additionally, there is the uncertainty as to who will be your neighbours.

Advantages of a Resale Home

The major advantage of buying a resale home is that you are moving into an established neighborhood. Your lawn is green, your shrubs are growing, your driveway is paved and your trees are well enough established to give your street a feeling of permanence. Often, most extras are already present, such as appliances, curtains, drapes, central vacuum, humidifiers, decks, fencing, electric garage door openers, finishing the basement, walkways, outdoor lighting, indoor light fixtures, trees, shrubs, gardens and landscaping, children's play sets, swimming pool, air conditioning, etc.

In terms of investment, a resale home will often give you far more value than a brand new home. Many owners put tens of thousands of dollars into home improvements ranging from small items, such as landscaping, to major projects, such as a finished basement or any of the items above. Although these improvements will make the home more attractive to potential buyers, they may not increase the market value of the home.

A $35,000 swimming pool or a $15,000 finished basement or even $5,000 worth of landscaping may make the home very attractive. However these additional costs incurred may not necessarily increase the market value of a home, especially if you have to sell it at a time of year where these major items add little or no perceived value. The buyer gets the home at its real fair market value, which is based on comparable homes for sale or sold in the neighborhood. All those expensive extras may be included in the home with benefit to the buyer at little or no extra cost. This can be a substantial savings over buying a new home.

With a resale, the vendor's asking price is almost always negotiable downwards unlike the builders list price which is usually firm. Any extras or changes are added to the list price of a new home and add up quickly.

Disadvantages of a Resale Home

A small percentage of homes in the marketplace are not considered to be in move-in condition. If both live-in partners happen to be working at full time jobs, a move-in condition home is by far the best alternative. If the property is being under "power of sale" or the property has been rented for many years the home may require a lot of work. If the buyer is not handy or does not have the additional up front capital then the purchaser would be better off buying a home in move-in condition or a brand new home. Additionally, as a home gets on in age certain systems such as heating, cooling, roofing, and/or windows need to be upgraded.

Although some perceive the paragraph above as a disadvantage, some consider it as an advantage. A home that needs some fixing up can in fact present some clear cost advantage to a buyer. Usually, it can be purchased below the going market value, while at the same time providing an opportunity to have it decorated to suite your specific tastes.

Neighbourhood: Known or Unknown Factor

When you buy a resale home, you can find out a lot more about the property and the neighbourhood before you buy than when you buy a new home. Land to support new-home developments usually is located on the outskirts of town. Potential buyers should ask the developer about future access to public transit, entertainment activities, shopping centers, churches, and schools. Local zoning ordinances also should be reviewed. A rather remote area can turn into a fast-food-chain haven within a couple of years. Try to ensure that the neighbourhood, if not strictly residential, will not begin sprawling out of control.

Buying into a new-home community may seem riskier than purchasing a house in an established neighbourhood, but any increase in home value depends upon the same factors: quality of the neighbourhood, growth in the local housing market and the state of the overall economy. One survey by the National Association of Realtors shows that resale homes do have an edge over new homes when it comes to appreciation.

More Questions and Items to Consider

There is a major decision early in the process of purchasing a new home and that is whether to build a new home or purchase a resale home already on the market. The following provides some considerations that may help you make an informed decision.

Location, location, location.
Are new homes being built in the area you desire? Do you know the surrounding zoning and what will be constructed in the area? How far away are services (schools, stores, hospital, doctors, etc.) that you need? How long is the commute to work?

Investment.
Typically, due to the continual addition of features, rising labor and material costs, new homes cost more than similar resale homes. Are you having to pay significant impact or lot levies or taxes and fees that are imposed on the builder? Are the taxes on the new home much higher than a comparable resale home? Will you be in the new home until the area is built out so you will not be competing with the builders should you need to sell the home? Is the home going to be high priced compared to other homes built or going to be built in the area?

Features.
Are the style and features that you desire only available in a new home? Can you find a resale home with most of the features and amenities you desire? Can you add the features you desire to a resale home? Are newer resale homes available that meet your needs?

Risk.
Is the new home builder or developer financially stable? Is the builder a large well known company with a good reputation? Is the builder asking for significant down payments or advance payments? Are there complaints lodged against the builder for shoddy work or not making repairs? Has the builder been delivering homes when promised? Check with your Better Business Bureau, the town or the city and talk to homeowners that have purchased a home from the builder.

In summary, a resale home can cost less, be more conveniently located, you know the area and amenities and have less risk involved. A new home can be constructed to have the exact style and features you desire, but usually with much higher costs, limited locations, and more risk.

Conclusion

In today's market place both new and resale homes are selling briskly. Once you've evaluated the pros and cons of each alternative, you can make an intelligent, educated decision as to which option is best suited for your particular needs.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your needs and wants, your family and/or children, your tolerance for risk and the unknown and ultimately your budget.

Top 5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make When Prepping Their House For Sale

When it comes to prepping a house for sale, sometimes what sounds like a good idea really isn't and it can cost you a lot of money in the long run, or it can even cost you a sale altogether.

1. Doing-It-Yourself When You Shouldn't - Can't paint? Please don't try. Want to try to get by with only one coat of paint? Don't paint at all. Stripping wallpaper but not bothering to repair any dings in the wall that result. Don't take it down in the first place. Pointing up mortar on walkways or patios using sand from a big box store? Don't. Just don't. Using synthetic wood decking as "wood" for a windowsill? Really? Please don't. Don't tackle any home repair or improvement projects that you do not have the skills to do properly. The repair of a repair is going to cost you more money and hassle in the long run.

2. Covering Up Smells with Smells - The smell of a deodorizer says one thing to prospective buyers: "This house smells even worse without this synthetic 'fresh' smell." Call me crazy, but I'd rather smell the cat urine (not really) or the old cigarette smoke than smell whatever the home owner bought to cover it up. Cookies baking? That's always a good idea, but anything synthetic, be it a scented candle or a carpet deodorizer just makes the smell issue more obvious.

3. Forgetting or Ignoring Storage Areas - It goes without saying that prospective buyers are going to open everything! So whether it is your clothes closet, your linen closet or your attic or basement, you must clean it up! A messy storage area is going to give the impression that you are messy or lazy in other areas of your life and your house...both of which can give a prospect a bad feeling about your house, or worse yet, a reason to start looking for trouble.

4. Re-decorating in a style that is just as personal as your original decorating. - I shouldn't have to say this, but don't replace wallpaper with wallpaper. Don't choose yellow paint when repainting your purple bedroom. Don't organize all your tabletop picture frames into sleek multi-photo frames and hang them on the wall. Think "neutral", personality neutral...in colors, styles and decorating.

5. Home staging? House prep? What's that? - This one should be a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many home sellers just call a Realtor® and put a sign in their yard and expect their house to sell. Seriously, you have to prep your house to the best of your ability if you want to sell it for a decent price in a reasonable amount of time...and that is true regardless of the current condition of the real estate market where you live.

Engineered Wood Floors - A Home Improvement Upgrade That Pays Off

Conversations with real estate agents and prospective buyers demonstrate that an engineered wood floor is one of the home improvements that is the most likely to pay off when it comes time to sell your home. A national survey conducted in 2006 by the National Wood Flooring Association with real estate agents across the country disclosed that:

  • 99% of agents agree that homes with hardwood floors are easier to sell
  • 82% agree that homes with hardwood floors sell faster
  • 90% agree that homes with hardwood floors sell for more money

Easier to sell. Faster to sell. Sell for more money. These are pretty compelling reasons to upgrade to hardwood floors if selling your house in the near future is important to you. How much more important is it to make your house instantly appealing to the aesthetic of buyers when the housing market is extremely competitive, as it is now? Take a tour through the models of any new housing development where sales are brisk and you will confirm to yourself the appeal and the versatility of finish of hardwood floors.

Even if you will not be putting your house on the market anytime soon you will appreciate that hardwood floors are easy to clean and to maintain and that they promote a healthier indoor environment. Carpeting is a dirt and dust catcher no matter how often you vacuum and clean. Every foot step on carpeting catapults that dust into the air and eventually into your mouth, nose and lungs.

Engineered wood floors impart warmth, depth and richness to your home's decor that cannot be matched by carpeting, tile or vinyl flooring. With an expected life span of up to 100 years for certain premium hardwood flooring you are assured that that hardwood really is a one time investment with a very long term payoff. Remodel once. Enjoy forever.

Home Staging Design

The market is stabilizing and property is not selling as quickly as it had in the past several years. Which is why you may be asking yourself then why in the world would I not stage a home? Isn't the idea to get top dollar for your home/client? In most cases staging a home costs less than your first price reduction. The important thing is that staging makes your listings look great and sell quickly with the greatest amount of profit and the least amount of effort on your part.

Home staging or the dream weavers of the real estate world. It can turn your home into another house in a matter of days.

10 Home Staging Techniques to Transform Your Home

1. Create curb appeal.
2. Repair and paint.
3. Clean and uncluttered your work and storage area.
4. Store your personal items and limit wall decoration.
5. Choose impartial colors.
6. CLEAN!!!
7. Rearrange your furnishing.
8. Uncluttered your home.
9. Preview what the potential buyer wants to see. Go room to room
10. See what they see.

Accessories Stagers Use:

* Mirrors
* Plants
* Silk Flowers
* Floor & Table Lamps,
* Area and Throw Rugs
* Small Love Seats
* Ottomans
* Afghans
* Pillows
* Inflatable Queen-Size Beds
* Baskets
* Plastic Tables & Chairs

How to Start a Home Staging Business:

Read About It - If you want to start a business of home staging, then you should first learn about it.
Practice - Before going out to decorate others homes, you have to practice the same in your own home. See whether or not you are capable of doing a proper job. Try and improve one section of your house everyday. If you practice well, you will do great in the outside world.

Talk to Others - Before you start your own business, you have to learn more about the business you are going to deal with. Talk to other people who are in this business. Learn how they do their job, learn who your competitors are. Also learn about the mistakes that the other home stagers have made, so that you do not make the same mistakes.

Know the Laws - Whenever you start a business, you always have to get yourself registered. Make sure that the business that you have set up has followed the laws and all the regulations of the area where you have started your business. The laws may vary from one place to another. Get a business license and also come up with a name for the business. The name should be attractive and interest the clients.

Create a Portfolio - The next thing that you have to do while starting a home staging business is creating a portfolio. Prepare a list of all the homes that you have decorated and the feedback that you have received. Do some jobs for free for a few clients so that you can not only show some sort of work experience but even these customers can give some good reference when you need it. They can also help with advertising the name of your business.

Advertise - Now after you have started your business, you have to carry out a promotional advertising, so that people know about it and they come to you for your assistance. You can either advertise in the newspaper, or any other form of advertising that gives you good exposure.

Income in Real Estate Foreclosure Onwards to a Financial Success - A Possibility?

Real Estate, What is the first thing that comes in to your mind? Basing on the current economic predicament we are in, the first few words would be Mortgage, Debt, Homes, Refinance, and Investment. These would best describe the sentiments people have nowadays due to the heavy encumbrance of the recession. Here is a thought, why don't we all be optimistic and look at it on a different perspective? After all optimism definitely goes a long way which enables us to let our imagination run wild and be creative regardless of the negative stigma.

Before we delve deeper on key aspects that are of interest, let me give you a brief overview about me. Real estate business has been a lifeline for me and my family ever since, it's in the blood if I may say so myself. I have been around construction, home improvement business, mortgage assessment for most of my life. Being 54 has never been so gratifying and rewarding, all thanks to my Real Estate roots. I can attribute my Real Estate success mostly due to my mom and step-dad being contractors and developers, while I was growing up I was immersed in the industry in one way or another. My keen interest construction enabled me to build several log homes in Montana, Monterey and Salinas, CA. I was also able to build numerous homes in Texas; all in all I had the pleasure to live in nine states following construction, home refurbishing and real estate booms.

So where has my quest taken me as of this time? I am currently residing in Northern CA, although recently hit with a huge downturn in the real estate market and, giving credence to the global recession that has everyone slumped and penny pinching for quite sometime now. Do I still build? It's been a while, but my passion and enthusiasm for construction and real estate is undeterred. Is there still a market for real estate? You bet! Let me tell you about my latest business venture, buying bank owned homes....

FORECLOSURE: Defined as the removal of right to redeem mortgage, a legal process by which a mortgagees' right to redeem a mortgage is taken away, usually because of failing to make payments.

It might seem pretty dry but let me put it this way... Take for example someone finds an exquisite home for sale. Then they would assess their personal finance on whether it would be an excellent investment. They could either take a home equity loan through various loan modifications; then process the transaction with one of the creative types of financing. Then due to some unmitigated circumstances something changes. It could either be an economic recession, interest rates, a job or an illness. The payments would unfortunately be stopped and now the home owner would be in a rut and left upside down in the loan. This simply means that the loan is more than what the house is worth. What can they do? They can't sell it and they can't afford the payment. And guess what? Life happens. FORECLOSURE!!!

You have lost the right to your Mortgage and your Home! Your credit is shot, quite possibly for the next 10 years. This is foreclosure. This is officially a bank owned home. This is the cold downside of life.

You can either whine for a while or get your act together. If you are that steadfast you can take it like a real man should and walk it off. Nah I'm just kidding, then again... But seriously there's no need for a breakdown into depression. This is not a total failure, you can always start up again, although it is easier said than done but always keep in mind beneath every cloud is always a silver lining. Just hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Always keep an optimistic outlook in life and eventually things will turn out for the better.

Now eventually it will all come down to a Short Sale: This is when all the entities that a vested claim of interest in a property agree to take less than what it is worth, just for the sake of getting rid of it. You might be wondering why they would do this. Simply because they have so many mortgage homes on the books that a loss is better than one house for sale sitting around that has to be taken care of, taxes and insurance paid each month and a price that may take up eons to recover. So in short, (pun intended) Short Sales usually take longer than foreclosures (Ironic isn't it?) Since most of the time there are more people to deal with. There could be several persons involved; these could be the lenders, the owners that may still be in the house, the lenders committees, the lender for the buyer so on and so forth. Simply put, it is a mortgaged home or an REO (Real Estate Owned) OK let's get to what's keeping me busy right now.

So I went to Sacramento for a meeting with an esteemed real estate agent. I have already informed the agent regarding my preferences. To say that the list of exceptional selections is truly phenomenal would be an understatement. I ended up looking for about 4 hours to find two likely candidates that sparked my keen interest and made a reasonable offer. At the time of this writing I am in contract on one and waiting for the response from the other.

Here's a brief overview of what I deemed worthy to invest my hard earned money on. First off is a mortgaged house that has 1081 square feet, three bedrooms, a single bath with an attached garage. The walls and ceiling in the garage have been finished and the electrical is in excellent condition.

Here is the deal. As you might have perceived the home is in a foreclosure, the bank has it is being encumbered by all the houses they are repossessing. This nifty little piece of marvel was sold in 2005 for $315,000.00 when the bank got it back the previous owners had $207,000.00 in it.

They listed the house for $177,000.00 and we paid $117,000.00 for it, a $60,000.00 less than what the original list price was an almost half of the original price. Although the house is in need of some refurbishing and proper home improvement. You can't argue the fact that it was an excellent steal for the price. Some minor home furnishing here and there which I don't mind. A new roof, fixture upgrades, home appliances, paint jobs, carpet and wall decors.

Food for thought... When the real estate market is down, guess what, you would not know if the rental market goes up. Viola... caching!!! Instant income opportunity, as long as you play your cards right in this business, there is always money to be made.

This house will now be a rental, making a positive cash flow from day one. Once the market has recuperated and is back on track, imagine the income possibilities I would have.

I'll be frank with you in saying that I was not in financial abundance when I made this deal. In fact I was scrimping as much as I can but believe me when I say that the lenders are definitely willing to deal. They don't want all the houses they have and are willing to go low if you say "no go". Be assertive and keep in mind you are the customer and your offer will always be taken in to consideration regardless of the marketing acumen of the lender.

You don't necessarily need to have a business degree nor a marketing background. Just a keen eye, some intrepid curiosity, effort and a little bit of business aptitude and you're all set for real estate success!

Let's Go Make a Deal... but not just any deal let's make it an "Excellent Deal"!