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Author Archives: Sharon Sapp
Do you admire the homes and apartments you find in decorator magazines and wish yours looked as good? You can decorate cheaply without it looking cheap! Find 10 creative ideas for inexpensive home decorating.
- Yard sales and flea markets: This is the season for yard sales so be creative! Used furniture can look perfect in YOUR home. Re-purposed pieces are in right now, and it’s easy to find the end table you’re missing if you’re willing to do some varnishing or refurbishing yourself.
- Get thrifty: Don’t spend money on items like candle holders or woven baskets at retail stores. Local markets and thrift stores will have more genuine items at much lower prices.
- Go online: Pretty construction paper, tape, and scissors can go a long way with a little creativity. Click around the internet for some inspiration. Go nuts.
- Artificial flowers: They have a stigma for being tacky, but the right bunch in the right vase can brighten up a room. With some light dusting and maintenance, they’ll last for a looong time.
- Practical pieces: Hang a bunch of little hooks from the wall. You can get the kind that don’t leave marks when you take them down. You can use them to hang up necklaces, bracelets, and rings instead of spending money on tabletop jewelry storage. Hooks look pretty and make quick accessorizing choices easy.
- Jars: An old trick that we still love: use old mason jars or empty glass food jars to declutter and decorate your desktop surfaces. Jars make spare change, knick-knacks, and pens look neat. Plastic containers can work, too!
- Throw rugs: Change the look of bare floors or carpeting with carpet remnants. Put them beside the bed, under tables, by the sofa or anywhere you want some color. Why you’re at it, staple some pretty pieces of fabric to a wooden frame (can be unfinished from a craft store) and hang it instead of pictures!
- Paint it yourself: Invite a few friends over, put on your oldest T-shirt, and get to work. Split cans of paint with others; a wall or two rarely uses up a whole can.
- Chalkboard on the wall: For last-minute to-dos in your office or recipes in the kitchen, get a little chalkboard and aerosol spray paint. Save yourself the clutter of Post-It Notes everywhere and get the thrill of sidewalk chalk from childhood all over again.
- Get sew-happy: Make throw pillows or blankets out of old concert shirts for a cool vibe. You can even frame the shirt and hang it on the wall! Sew anything, for that matter; get in touch with your inner seamstress and decorate away.
There are many upgrades you can do to your home. Some you want to do to improve your quality of life and some you do to improve the value of your home. Before you spend your hard earned dollars, please read the following. (compliments of Doug Rogers, Associate Broker with Century 21 Millenium in Louisianna.)
This post has nothing to do with personal space, taste, or comfort. One of the benefits of home ownership is NOT having to get permission to make changes to your space. Instead, let’s examine five upgrades that typically return little to no investment at the act of sale.
1) The Swimming Pool– Recently I went on a listing in a subdivision of 200k dollar homes. The owners could not wait to show me their sparkling new cement pond. How much did you “invest” in this project I inquired? Only 45,000 dollars! And wouldn’t you know it, they wanted to ask 260k for their home. At closing the pool commanded a 7k dollar premium. In other works the sellers spent 45k and earned 7k. In my mind that’s a 38k dollar loss!!!!
2) Nothing makes a better den than the garage– I cringe when sellers call me to come look at their 1800 sq. ft home in a subdivision of 1400 sq ft homes. What does this mean? Is the home taking banned growth hormones? Nope, the garage is now a “play room”. Where do guests park their cars? In the front yard of course! Want extra credit? Don’t hire a professional contractor and do the conversion yourself. I could write a book on this one…
3) Granite Counters in a Formica Neighborhood–I once toured a STUNNING 75k dollar kitchen, in a subdivision where the average price was 135k! Need to cook the perfect beef wellington? This kitchen had you covered! The home eventually sold as a short sale for just over the subdivision average. The loss on this project could have bought the owners a new BMW.
4) Any Update That Requires Borrowing Money– Even the best updates struggle to provide a dollar for dollar return on investment. Thinking of taking out a loan, or goodness forbid opening a credit card to renovate? JUST SAY NO! Credit card interest is not your friend.
Although this seems like such a small thing, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can be one of the biggest road blocks to buying a home. Read on – especially if you don’t know the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval!
If you were taking a home buying class, this would be the first thing you talk about. Basically real estate 101, getting pre-approved.
It may seem simple, yet many potential buyers are making a huge mistake by either neglecting this step or only getting pre-qualified, which is much more watered down version.
Failure to get a firm pre-approval may end up costing you the home of your dreams.
GET PRE-APPROVED NOT PRE-QUALIFIED
When the real estate market was slow, the sense of urgency to get financing was not very high. Buyers figured they could take their time to find a home, and then they’d firm things up with their lender afterwards. However, with the market starting to really heat up and inventories still low, buyers must change this lackadaisical mindset.
The problem isn’t that buyers are totally forgetting to speak to a lender, although some still do not do this up front. They are simply getting pre-qualified instead of pre-approved, and there is a big difference.
A pre-qualification is just the initial step, typically a phone conversation about your overall financial picture. The lender may discuss income, debts, and go over different payment options, but it should not be confused with a firm pre-approval. The problem is that many buyers only do this initial step, and have the false sense of security that getting a loan will not be a problem. Some find out the hard way.
In order to grant a full pre-approval letter, a lender will likely complete a formal application, pull credit, and collect specific documentation from you such as pay stubs, W-2’s, or tax returns. This will allow them to better define your maximum price range. It may not seem like a big deal but this extra step makes all the difference in the world.
I have seen cases when a buyer gets pre-qualified over the phone, and then ends up not qualifying once the lender verifies all pertinent information. Don’t let this happen to you.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR
Getting pre-approved will make you a stronger buyer and allow you to move quickly if needed. In an active market, you never know when that special home will come on the market, and when it does, you will need to act with a huge sense of urgency. Waiting until after you find your home to get your financing in order may be too late.
With multiple offer situations becoming common, having a solid pre-approval letter may even help you win out during a bidding war.
The difference between getting pre-approved and pre-qualified is merely time and a little effort on your part but is well worth it. In fact, it could ultimately determine whether or not you get the home.
You don’t want a potential buyer drive by your home for sale and decide it looks messy outside so the inside will probably be, too! Here are some tips to help you get it in tip-top shape!
Potential buyers drive past your home all the time. The more often the take notice and call an agent to show the home, the more likely you are to get an offer. Convince them to take notice by using these 10 tips for great curb appeal.
- Your front yard must be immaculately landscaped. The lawn must be cut and trimmed neatly, preferably on the diagonal. The border between your plantings and lawn must be neat.
- Sweep the sidewalks, pathways and front porch daily. Put out a new colorful welcome mat. In autumn, leaves must be removed daily. In winter, snow and ice must be removed daily.
- Your front yard plantings should be neat and attractive. No weeds. No dead branches. New mulch. Plant bright yellow flowers because the color yellow sells.
- Paint your front door so it looks clean and bright. Buy new hardware for the front door, including a new mailbox.
- Wash the windows in the front of the house. Be sure that there are neat and clean window treatments in the windows.
- The light fixtures in the front of your house must be in working condition and should provide soft lighting to all walkways and stairs without causing a glare. Take down the fixture and clean it, or replace it.
- Be sure your house number is easily visible.
- Power wash the front of the house to remove dirt.
- Maintain a neat and clean place for your garbage cans, preferably out of view on the side of the house.
- 7 Tips to Improve your Home’s Curbside Appeal (olgerfallaspainting.com)
1. Think you know more than your Realtor and insist on listing your home over what your Realtor advises. They are the experts and know the market. This is the most important “don’t” when selling your home, bar none!
2. Clean your home by cramming all your junk into every conceivable storage space. It’s a given that buyers will look in your closets, cabinets, basement and garage. If your storage areas are crammed with “stuff”, you’re sending a flag that their “stuff” won’t fit either.
3. Wait until a few days before your open house to discard or store unnecessary furniture, personal collections and family photos. Rent PODS – the newest, fastest growing self-storage units, or call on family to store the things you don’t absolutely need. This serves two purposes: you’ll have far less to do once you sell and showcase the room’s square footage.
4. Assume buyers are going to take on your deferred maintenance like broken doorbells, leaky faucets, chipped molding, running toilettes and/or torn screens. Buyers want turnkey homes. Moreover, you don’t want to give them instant negatives when they walk in the door.
5. Fill your home with Glad Plugins and similar products. It’s akin to spraying perfume in lieu of a shower – it doesn’t work and buyers suspect your trying to mask unpleasant odors. Clean is the only smell everyone loves!
6. Assume buyers are pet lovers – many are not and some are allergic to cats and dogs. During showings and open houses, temporarily take pets and all trances of them out of the home. Yes, this is a hassle, I know, but it’s temporary and your goal is to sell quickly.
7. Neglect curb appeal – it’s buyer’s first impression of your home in person and on MLS (where 90% of buyer’s start their home search). Hire a landscaping company or do it yourself. Don’t forget to trim hedges, add fresh mulch and blow debris clear from walkways, porch and driveway.
1. Find a reputable, seasoned Realtor and let them price your home based on their research, knowledge and comparable comps. Did you know that 85% of people think their home is worth more than it is?! Defer to your Realtor and trust that they understand the market and are experts at pricing homes!
2. Throw out any outdated, dusty floral arrangements and flower swags that went out with the eighties. Replace them with real plants, or buy high quality silk arrangements that will pass for the real thing – just not at the dollar store!
3. Paint the interior of your home in neutral colors. Nothing cleans and brightens up a home more than a fresh coat of paint. Moreover, it yields the biggest bang for your buck with a staggering150% return on investment. Consult a NJ home stager for the most popular neutral wall colors that have mass appeal.
4. Have your rugs shampooed so they are clean and odor free. You can rent carpet cleaners at most grocery stores or hire a carpet cleaning company. While you’re at it, open all your windows and air out your home every few days.
5. Give every room a purpose taking the guess work out for buyers. If you’re selling your home as a 4 bedroom, but have been using one of the rooms as an office/home gym, return it to a bedroom. If you have a small room with no closet, make that room an office.
6. Make your master bedroom non-gender specific. Invest in neutral bedding and add some decorative pillows. Look at high-end hotels. They are designed to appeal to the masses. Grandma’s homemade afghan isn’t going to cut it!
7. Invest in a home staging consultation. Home stagers are experts on preparing your home for the market. They understand and can implement all the necessary changes that will give your home that competitive edge it needs in today’s market
Compliments of Elite Staging and Redesign – Kristine Ginsberg – 201 602 2562
Home Staging Morris County – Staged to Sell, Designed to Live!
You have 90 seconds to make a great first impression once your home goes on the market.