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5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

  1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
  2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
  3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
  4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
  5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Simple Tips for Better Home Showings

  1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.
  2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
  3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.
  4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.
  5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.
  6. Don’t disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.
  7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.
  8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
  9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.
  10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.
  11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
  12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.
  13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.
  14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.
  15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.
  16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.
  18. Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

How to Get an Offer on Your Home

  1. Price it right. Set a price at the lower end of your property’s realistic price range.
  2. Prepare for visitors. Get your house market ready at least two weeks before you begin showing it.
  3. Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer.
  4. Anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable.
  5. Don’t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 30 days without an offer, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price.

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home’s Exterior

Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:

  1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows or architectural details.
  2. Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.
  3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.
  4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.
  5. Repair any cracks in the driveway.
  6. Edge the grass around walkways and trees.
  7. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.
  8. Clear toys from the lawn.
  9. Buy a new mailbox.
  10. Upgrade your outside lighting.
  11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.
  12. Clean your windows, inside and outside.
  13. Polish or replace your house numbers.
  14. Place a seasonal wreath on your door.

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

Cost vs. Value

Which home upgrades will score big with buyers? REALTORS® in 101 markets across the country judge the effects of 35 home improvement projects on sales prices in Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, done in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.

Last year’s report revealed that updating the outside of a home pays off. This year, real estate professionals again ranked exterior improvement projects as winning the buyers’ eye and providing sellers with the most return on investment. This is the second year in a row that all 35 projects in the report saw more home improvement dollars recouped upon resale of a home than the previous year.

More than 4,500 NAR members participated in the information-gathering online survey between August and October 2013. Also of significance this year, the survey expanded to 101 U.S. metro markets, up from 81 last year, giving a more complete picture of remodeling trends nationwide. Read about the report in our article, “2013-14 Cost vs. Value: Remodeling Pays Off Big Time,” and share this valuable information with your clients.

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

2013-14 Cost vs. Value: Remodeling Pays Off Big Time

Home improvement projects across the board are giving home owners a greater return on their investment when it comes time to sell. Find out which projects “open the door” to buyers and where remodeling dollars stretch the furthest.

As existing-home sales and home prices make remarkable strides upward nationwide, remodeling projects are also continuing to make a comeback in a big way.

This is the second year in a row that all 35 projects in Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report saw more home improvement dollars recouped upon resale of a home than the previous year.

Existing-home sales reached 5.02 million in 2013, a 9.1 percent increase from 2012, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Home prices also rose in 2013: Existing homes commanded a median price of $197,100, up 11.5 percent from the 2012 median price of $176,800. This is the largest price gain since 2005.

Also for 2013, the cost-value ratio of remodeling projects nationwide averaged 66.1 percent, up 5.5 points over the previous year — which is, like median price, the largest increase since 2005.

Remodels That Payoff

The fan favorite in the 16th annual Cost vs. Value Report, which was released this month, was again the steel door entryway. Topping the list last year as well, this project is ideal for clients considering a quick update to the curb appeal of a home. The survey shows that a new steel door, with an average cost of $1,162, will recoup 96.6 percent of the remodeling cost at resale.

Making the biggest gain in percentage of recouped costs was the addition of a backup power generator. This project, averaging $11,742, jumped 28 percent in estimated resale value, recouping 67.5 percent of its cost in 2013. Usually at the bottom of the list, this project now ranks 25th out of the 35 projects. The increase is attributed in the report to 2013’s “unpredictable weather and multiple large storms.”

Regional Trends

The report also shows where remodeling dollars go the furthest.

Topping the list for remodeling costs recouped upon resale were Honolulu and San Francisco, at 110.8 percent and 109.4 percent, respectively. San Jose, Calif., came in third, with just shy of 100 percent of remodeling costs recouped on average. San Diego came in fourth, with 89.8 percent of costs recouped at resale; and fifth was Bridgeport, Conn., bringing in 85.9 percent of remodel costs at resale.

Also signifying distinct improvements over last year, seven of the country’s nine regions outperformed the nationwide cost-value average of 66.1 percent.

Holding onto their positions as the top two regions for recouping remodeling costs were the Pacific (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington), with an 88 percent cost-value ratio, and West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas), with a 76.4 percent cost-value ratio.

The award for most improved region could go to New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), which moved from sixth to third this year with an overall cost-value ratio of 74.6 percent.

The two regions that held lower cost-value ratios than the national average were the Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), with cost-value ratios of 63.2 percent and 57.3 percent, respectively.

Top Projects

If you are considering a home improvement project to boost the quality and appeal of your home, we recommend you read the list of top 10 midrange and upscale projects from the 2013-14 Cost vs. Value Report:

Top 10 Midrange Projects

1. Entry Door Replacement (steel)
Job Cost: $1,162
Resale Value: $1,122
Cost Recouped: 96.6%

2. Deck Addition (wood)
Job Cost: $9,539
Resale Value: $8,334
Cost Recouped: 87.4%

3. Attic Bedroom
Job Cost: $49,438
Resale Value: $41,656
Cost Recouped: 84.3%

4. Garage Door Replacement
Job Cost: $1,534
Resale Value: $1,283
Cost Recouped: 83.7%

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel
Job Cost: $18,856
Resale Value: $15,585
Cost Recouped: 82.7%

6. Window Replacement (wood)
Job Cost: $10,926
Resale Value: $8,662
Cost Recouped: 79.3%

7. Window Replacement (vinyl)
Job Cost: $9,978
Resale Value: $7,857
Cost Recouped: 78.7%

8. Siding Replacement (vinyl)
Job Cost: $11,475
Resale Value: $8,975
Cost Recouped: 78.2%

9. Basement Remodel
Job Cost: $62,834
Resale Value: $48,777
Cost Recouped: 77.6%

10. Deck Addition (composite)
Job Cost: $15,437
Resale Value: $11,476
Cost Recouped: 74.3%

Top 10 Upscale Projects

1. Siding Replacement (fiber-cement)
Job Cost: $13,378
Resale Value: $11,645
Cost Recouped: 87.0%

2. Garage Door Replacement
Job Cost: $2,791
Resale Value: $2,315
Cost Recouped: 82.9%

3. Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl)
Job Cost: $14,236
Resale Value: $11,124
Cost Recouped: 78.1%

4. Window Replacement (vinyl)
Job Cost: $13,385
Resale Value: $10,252
Cost Recouped: 76.6%

5. Window Replacement (wood)
Job Cost: $16,798
Resale Value: $12,438
Cost Recouped: 74.0%

6. Grand Entrance (fiberglass)
Job Cost: $7,305
Resale Value: $5,163
Cost Recouped: 70.7%

7. Deck Addition (composite)
Job Cost: $35,158
Resale Value: $22,881
Cost Recouped: 65.1%

8. (tie) Bathroom Remodel
Job Cost: $51,374
Resale Value: $32,660
Cost Recouped: 63.6%

(tie) Major Kitchen Remodel
Job Cost: $109,935
Resale Value: $69,973
Cost Recouped: 63.6%

9. Roofing Replacement
Job Cost: $34,495
Resale Value: $21,731
Cost Recouped: 63.0%

10. Bathroom Addition
Job Cost: $72,538
Resale Value: $43,936
Cost Recouped: 60.6%

The data used in the Cost vs. Value Report was collected with the help of REALTOR® Magazine in an online survey between August and October 2013. More than 4,500 NAR members participated from 101 U.S. cities, up from 81 cities included in last year’s survey.

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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