6 Must Add Items to Add To Your Spring Cleaning List

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

To prepare your home for the warm months ahead, you’ll need to remove all of the dust, debris and other leftovers from the winter. As you clear the landscape and start washing the interior and exterior of your home, it’s important to get a checklist together. Here are some tips for spring cleaning your home inside and out so you don’t miss a speck of dust:

#1 Deep clean carpets.

Carpets and furniture accumulate a lot of dust and debris, so it’s time to deep clean them. Look at having your carpets cleaned by local services — either steam cleaned or shampooed. Some brands of vacuums are steam cleaners, so you can deep clean your carpets yourself. If you do invest in a steam cleaner, you’ll need to put down towels where family members can walk until the carpet dries.

Clean your upholstery according to its material. You’ll need to separate carpet cleaning from upholstery cleaning, unless professionals offer both as a package. Make sure you keep children and pets off the upholstery and carpets until they dry to avoid getting stains on clothing and chemicals on paws and hands.

#2 Vacuum!

If you choose not to have your carpets deep cleaned, then you need to get the vacuum out. Be sure to get every inch of your carpet with the vacuum cleaner. You may need to use the extension to reach the nooks and corners where the vacuum brush cannot go. You will also need to move furniture to clean where dust, debris, food particles and grime may have built up.

Be sure to dust before you vacuum, so any remaining particles will be removed by the vacuum and its extension. Even lightweight dust can end up on the floor following the use of a cloth or a duster, so it’s better to get the last of it with your vacuum post-dust.

#3 Dust fans, ducts and vents.

It’s also time to look at your ceiling fans and air ducts. Over time, your ducts, vents and fans will get dusty. So tackle these projects now before you turn on the A/C or the ceiling fans. You have two approaches:

  1. Get on a ladder to reach your ceiling fans and ducts or vents with a duster.
  2. Hire a professional to clean your ducts and ceiling fans.

If you go the DIY route, be aware of the safety precautions associated with cleaning ducts, vents and ceiling fans on ladders. You don’t want to break bones during this process. If you hire a professional, note the cost to clean ducts and vents is usually between $250 to $450.

#4 Examine your coils.

The refrigerator condenser coil builds up dust over time. If there’s too much debris, the coil can overheat and cause the fridge to stop working. You don’t want spoiled food, so address this problem now. You can use a brush or vacuum extension to get rid of the easy-to-reach dust and grime. For anything that’s hard to reach, you can slowly pull the fridge away from the wall and vacuum or sweep the rest of the dust. You might also find food and trinkets that have fallen behind the fridge since the last time you cleaned the coils.

#5 Organize everything.

Organization is the key to springing into the season and cleaning rooms. The best place to start is the closet. Look at everything you have and decide what really matters. Throw away or donate items like:

  • Rarely worn clothing
  • Too-small or worn away shoes
  • Broken jewelry
  • Old ties
  • Worn down hats

Once everything you don’t need is in garbage bags, look at what’s left. How do you want to organize it? By color? By season? Find the most efficient way for you and then apply this to other rooms like the bathroom, kitchen, basement and garage.

#5 Wash your siding.

Your siding took a beating this winter from snow, hail and wind. In the worst cases, it might have formed cracks and ended up with missing pieces that need repair. In other cases, it might just look worn down. To renew and revitalize your siding for the spring, consider having it cleaned by a power washing professional. They use a machine with a nozzle that sprays hot, steamy water onto your siding, getting rid of all that nasty grime. This process prevents potential mold growth and keeps your siding from cracking or chipping from dirt buildup.

You can also rent a pressure washer and do this as as DIY project but be aware that it’s a dangerous job. You can hurt yourself, not to mention your doors and windows, if you aim the pressure washer incorrectly. You can also strip the paint right off the siding if you’re not careful and aim too close. In short, it’s best to leave this to the pros.

#6 Gutter Maintenance

Over the winter, snow and wind blew leaves and branches off your trees onto your roof and into your gutters. Without mesh, your gutters and downspouts may have a lot of built-up debris. To prevent moisture from improperly draining, you need to clean out the gutters now. You can get on a ladder and use hand rakes. You can also have your gutters professionally cleaned for $100 to $200. Gutter cleaners can also point out damage to your gutters and downspouts that you can address and repair.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

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10 Simple Tips for Spring Landscaping

Guest Post By Andrea Davis

Now that the winter chill is no longer nipping at your heels, it’s time to assess your landscaping and see what you can do to revitalize it for the spring ahead. It’s imperative that you start working on the lawn now, while you can take advantage of the mild days and hire a landscaping professional (if you need to) before they’re all booked solid through the summer. Here’s what you need to do to get your yard in shape for the season:

1. Due to the harsh winter that hit most of the United States during the early part of the year, there’s a good chance your trees and shrubs were damaged by ice and snow. You’ll need to inspect them for cracks, broken limbs and other problems. Use shears and other tools to get them back in shape — or have them professionally trimmed and pruned, which costs between $200 and $650, depending on the number of trees and shrubs.

2. Because of the snow, winter climate conditions and seasonality, you will need to rake debris away from the grass. It also helps to control thatch on the lawn. You don’t want a buildup of more than ½ an inch. This also gives you a chance to look for matted areas, which could be a sign of snow mold. Raking the lawn also gives it a chance to breathe again.

3. Over time, your lawn might become compacted — especially with a lot of traffic or excess debris. In such cases, you will need to aerate the lawn. You can do this as a DIY project by poking holes in the soil and loosening it up, or you can have a professional aerate the lawn for $50 to $200, depending on square footage.

4. If you find a lot of matted patches and bare areas in your lawn, it might be time to apply more seeds to fill those neglected spaces. This is known as overseeding and is usually another task recommended in the fall. You can do it in the spring if absolutely necessary though — particularly if you have a lot of bare patches — by applying a nitrogen fertilizer atop the seeds. Then be sure to water and keep an eye on the soil to see if the areas grow. This could be harder to do in hot, humid climates, so consult with a lawn care professional before buying too many supplies.

5. To reinvigorate your lawn for spring mowing and gardening, you should add fertilizer. You can use compost or chemical fertilizers, depending on what you think is best, what falls within your in budget and what professionals recommend. It’s recommended that you use less fertilizer in the spring than you would in the fall if you have a cool-season grass. Otherwise, you’ll increase the potential for diseases and weeds. Only apply a light seasoning to help your lawn get some nutrition.

6. Now is also a good time to apply some pre-emergent weed control, which acts as a barrier against weed seedlings. You should do this before applying organic fertilizer and continue to do so through the summer.

7. Regardless of whether you use organic or chemical fertilizers, you should also apply mulch in any flower beds and around trees to help them retain moisture during the early spring months. It also helps to decrease the temperature of plant roots and insulates them should there be an unexpected freeze during the spring. On a visual level, it adds a neat look and separates the bed or tree from the landscape without requiring bricks or rocks. Never apply more than 3 inches of mulch.

8. Before you start mowing the lawn, be sure to sharpen the blades. You can have a professional do this or complete it as a DIY project. If you pursue it as a project, remove the spark plug and then take the blades off. You want to be sure and cut the grass, not tear it. Tearing grass can brown the blades and promote fungus growth.

9. If you have a sprinkler system, now is the time to start inspecting it for any damages and hire a professional to perform repairs. This is also the time to have the system reactivated, which costs between $50 and $100.

10. Now that you’ve performed all the maintenance, repairs and other preparatory measures, think about plants. You’ll want to think about species that are compatible with heat and drought, depending on your environment. If you have perennials that are overgrown in one area, now is a good time to transplant them. The possibilities are nearly endless — it just depends on your budget and time.

If you are planning to sell your home this spring, here are more tips on front yard landscaping for the spring real estate market from Quicken Loans. Just be sure you keep your landscape in top shape, regardless of who it’s for. It saves you money in the short- and long-term, and it looks good too!

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

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7 Major League Upgrades to Increase Your Curb Appeal

As the winter blows over and makes space for warmer weather, it’s time to bring your attention back to your hibernating home exterior. What your home needs after all that cold weather, is some quick upgrades, to revive your property and increase your curb appeal. With these home run makeover ideas, refreshing your house for spring will be a breeze.

Revive Your Front Door

Image: Hometalker Susan / Living Rich on Less

Your front door is like your home’s smile: If it’s bright and inviting, it’s much more likely to impress. Give your front door a refreshing paint job, so that it looks crisp and new, and even update the hardware, to create some variety and revive your style. (See how to DIY it here)

Add Interest with Wood

Image: Hometalker Connie / Connie Nikiforoff Designs

 Whether it’s a fence, shutters, trim, or even a sweet porch-top pergola, like this, wooden details are a great way to add some character and detail to your home. Be careful not to overload your exterior with additions, but some eye-catching adjustments might be just the thing to make your house stand out. (Get instruction for this project here)

Bring out Furniture

Image: Hometalker Courtney / Fry Sauce and Grits

 Make your home look comfortable and happily inhabited, by bringing some colorful outdoor furniture onto your porch or patio. You can even set up a mini vignette, by bringing out a small table or stool and including seasonal details or adding some durable art. (Learn how here)

Makeover Your Mailbox

Image: Hometalker Brandi / Don’t Disturb This Groove

This easy project is a quick way to update the look of your home exterior. Turn an old, drooping mailbox into a sparkling piece of art, by adding a fresh coat of paint or some interesting detail, or by adjusting some withered beams. Add some spring color, with a small flower bed at the base of your mailbox. (Learn more about this project)

Update Outdoor Lighting

Image: Hometalker Laura / Pet Scribbles

 Outdoor lighting is not only a convenient feature, but one that adds a lot of curb cred to your home. Installing lighting makes your outdoor space functional throughout the daytime and evening, adds security to your property, and constantly showcases your beautiful home exterior. If your current lights aren’t having the desired effect, try giving them a color or style makeover. (Learn how here)

 Add Plants and Flowers

Image: Hometalker Pam / DIY Design Fanatic

Nothing will add that pop of pretty to your property quite like a well-kept bed of flowers or a vibrant container garden. Bring large potted plants onto your porch, grow colorful buds in window boxes — anything that brings in bright, natural colors is a shoo-in to increase your home’s aesthetic value. (Learn more here)

Build Unique Features

Image: Hometalker Kristin / My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Remember, you can have your home look pretty and put together without having it look like every other home on your block. Add curb appeal with distinguishing updates, like a DIY stone outdoor stone fireplace, or a mosaic retaining wall. Features that are unique and beautiful will make your home memorable to visitors. (Instructions here)

Get more fantastic tips, tricks and inspirations to help you update your curb appeal, at the curb appeal page on Hometalk.

See the homes featured in the cover photo and more beautiful homes like them here.

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5 Ideas That Will Make Your Front Porch Shine

With fall in full swing, your front porch needs to transition to attract buyers. Luckily it’s easy to make a few changes so it blends in for the season. Here are five front porch design ideas to make your home stand out:

via  Tiger’s Testing ServiceDesignMine

#1 Clean out debris with a power washer.

The first step is cleaning out the debris from summer. You could use old-fashioned equipment like a broom, mop, washcloth and elbow grease or hire a professional pressure washing service to clean away stubborn debris so your porch looks like new. Dirt and grime in the floor and on the siding can be dusted off quickly by a pressure washer, which will save you time and effort otherwise spent hand washing your porch.

#2 Add a new coat of paint.

A new coat of paint is a great way to revitalize the front porch, whether it’s touching up the trim, railings and banisters, or repainting the front door. It is also an opportunity to add a bright new color as part of your front porch design. Painting is a good DIY project on the weekend, or if you intend to do a complete overhaul, you might need to get a painter to help. Make sure the color will complement the rest of the house. You could always paint the porch a neutral tone and then cover the door in a bright color so it stands out as buyers walk up.

#3 Revitalize the front door.

Once you start getting the porch fixed up, it’s time to turn your focus to the door as it will be the first area buyers see. If the door is scratched, scraped or muddy, it won’t seem welcoming to potential homebuyers. Start by cleaning off any dirt and grime with the power washer or with a washcloth covered in vinegar and water. Then you can add on decorations like wreaths, a new door knob made of brass or steel, window dressings and more. That way it will look brand new without having to install a new door for hundreds of dollars.

#4 Imbue the porch with the natural landscape.

To make your porch blend in with the landscape, consider adding potted plants with seasonal flowers. They are inexpensive, add a splash of color and can be either standing or hanging in baskets throughout your porch. They will also help to create a welcoming atmosphere on the front porch. You should coordinate the colors of the plants to match the front door or the landscape so they stand out against the porch and blend with the yard.

#5 Brighten the porch with fixtures and new decor.

If the house numbers and mailbox are showing signs of age, you might need to spend a few hours or hire a handyman to revitalize them. You should also install light fixtures to make those house numbers easy to see at night or on rainy days. Light fixtures are also good for illuminating front porch decor like chairs, rockers, swings, dining chairs and tables. If you have night showings at your home, they will be useful for giving the porch a warm feel at all hours.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

See more of the beautiful Chatham, NJ  home in the cover photo here.

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6 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Landscaper

As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.

As you prepare your lawn for the fall season, why not hire a landscaper to save yourself some time? Landscapers have the tools, experience and knowledge to create the landscape you need or prepare it for the cold days ahead. To help you find the right landscaper, here are some essential tips to follow and questions to ask regarding landscaping.

1. Ask around to find a landscaper. If you see well-kept lawns in your neighborhood, why not ask your neighbors who they hired? You might also ask friends and family in the area if they’ve hired a good landscaper recently. You might also check online for screened and approved landscaping contractors who have been rated by homeowners in your area, which will save you time and effort on checking them.

2. Get multiple bids for a project.Once you have a few businesses in mind, you’ll need to get bids. You should never hire the first one to answer the phone. Once you explain the job, the landscaper will give you a project estimate, and numbers will vary from business to business. You can compare bids against project data costs for various landscaping projects to make sure you’re not paying more than you should be. Also be wary of any “low ball” bids, since this could be a sign of a poor job or additional or hidden fees.

3. List past project references. If you find the landscaper in the yellow pages or online, ask about past clients. As you speak to these clients, ask them about the landscaper’s process, communication, staff and how quickly they complete a project. These should help you learn more about the landscaper and how they would work with you.

4. Check for documentation and licenses. The landscaper should be able to prove they’re legitimate with a license. They should also have insurance for the length of the project, if not worker’s compensation to cover injuries on the job.

5. Discuss the specifics. This is where you need to hash out everything about the project before you get to the contract and putting down a deposit. Some of the landscaping questions to ask include:

  • What are your work practices?
  • What equipment and materials will you be using for my project?
  • What’s your past experience with this kind of landscaping project?
  • Does your landscaping business belong to any local, state or national landscaping associations?
  • Can you provide me with a design sketch for the project before we begin?
  • How much of a deposit will you want before beginning the project? (Pro tip: the average is 30% of the total project, so be cautionary of anyone who asks for 50% or more.)

6. Put together & sign a contract. Once you’ve found the right landscaper, it’s time to put down all the details of the job in writing. This contract should include:

  • Start and end date of the project
  • Materials involved
  • Costs and fees
  • A lien waiver
  • Guarantee, if applicable

A lien waiver will keep you from being responsible for paying for materials from a supplier, as the landscaper should be paying for them and then charging you later. A guarantee for items like a deck, patio or other major projects should be for at least two to five years, if not longer. Make sure the contract is completely filled out and that nothing is left blank.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Cover Photo: Beckett Creek Ln, Humble, TX Currently listed with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors http://bit.ly/1m6rEK1

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How Much Is A Well Maintained Lawn Worth?

Guest Post by Bryan Ostlund

Home buying season is here which means homeowners  are looking for ways to improve their homes to get the most value.

Did you know that improving the lawn is one of the most cost effective ways to increase property value? Unlike other home improvement projects, landscaping can provide a 100%-200% return on your investment and has been known to increase a home’s overall value by as much as 15 percent.

*Stat via www.TheLawnInstitute.org

Lawns are appealing to buyers not only because they are aesthetically pleasing but because they extend the living area of a home, providing an ideal setting for outdoor recreation, entertainment and relaxation. Through the use of sod, grass can also be a quick way to establish natural and self-repairing landscapes perfect for increasing curb appeal when selling a home, or establishing a lawn at a new residence.

Here are some of our best tips for taking care of your lawn:

Watering

  • Avoid overwatering. Water thoroughly once or twice a week during cooler hours rather than frequent light mistings

Mowing

  • Mow during cooler hours, and only when the grass is dry, to reduce stress on the turf
  • Keep mower blades sharp and cut no more than one-third of the grass height at a time.

 Fertilization

  • Clippings left on the lawn will provide nutrients to the soil, reducing fertilizer requirements.
  • Fertilize at least once a year. The type and timing will be determined by the grass variety and the climate, so talk to a turf expert at your local garden center for advice.

Weed control

  • The best defense against weeds is a thick lawn. Lawn grasses will easily outcompete weeds when the conditions favor the grass.
  • Talk to a turf expert. Weeds are often an indication of a soil problem that is making the ground more hospitable to weeds than to your grass.

For homeowners who want to ensure that their lawns deliver full aesthetic, recreational and economic value, Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and agricultural educators, offers the following tips for growing a healthy, attractive lawn (linked here).

Bryan Ostlund is executive director of Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists that seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.weseedamerica.com or connect on Twitter @weseedamerica.

 See more of the beautiful property listed above here.

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How To Choose The Right Front Door

A few years ago we did an addition on our house. Even though it was a massive job where we refinanced to a larger mortgage, everything added up and prevented us from doing some of the little things we wanted to.

Like replace the antiquated and quite ugly front door!

But three years later it was time. So off I went to explore the world of new front doors. And my belief that “a door is a door” is just way wrong!

I spent a lot of time reading and learning and realized I had never shopped for a front door before. They just came with the house or previous apartments. I essentially went to door school!

I started online and found a great resource at This Old House.   From there and other online sites, it was then just plain ole detective work, store visits and lots of questions.

I found out there are three major types of doors: Wood, metal and fiberglass.

From what I learned here are the basic advantages and disadvantages of each for a standard 36 x 80 door:

Wood: Looks amazing. It is the most common with the most choices. I turned away from wood because several different sales people explained that you have to routinely protect the wood with new coats of paint or polyurethane. After restaining my deck, I’m wasn’t for another outside paint job.

Steel: Cheaper and sturdiest for protection. But clearly not in the wood category of looks. Plus I figured one errant baseball and the thing would ding like my Honda CRV.

Fiberglass: I had no idea this option even existed. It combines the beauty of wood and durability. Pricing seemed to be in the middle of the previous two options. No maintenance required! I was hooked and found one that passed the looks test.

The next step was the screen door. Again, who knew there were so many options? The only thing I thought was a “must have” was the little sliding piece that keeps the door locked open when you bring things in/out of the house. How 1970s of me! Not only did I learn they have more modern foot-tap versions of that feature but the doors come in a variety of styles. We choose a see-through version simply because we could leave the front door open and give our dog an automatic sunbathing option.

Now onto the doorknob. Again a variety of options, but we made an assumption that all have the same locking systems. Wrong again! The one we bought didn’t have the ability to lock from the inside when leaving. We would have to get used to turning the key every time we left. No way! I learned what we really wanted was a two-point locking system. Now I know why my parents used to yell at me and my sisters to “double lock” the house!

As far installation, you’re on your own. We hired someone!

Check out our before and after!

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6 Tips to Make Your Home For Sale Stand Out

The following is a guest post from Franz Diessner & Joe Overland with Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, WA.

Bringing your home to the market presents a variety of questions, challenges and doubts for every seller.  When it’s time to select your real estate broker, pay careful attention to the suggestions they provide on how to best showcase your home.  An experienced listing broker will provide valuable insight on buyer expectations and guide you on how to position your home against competing properties.

Although many real estate markets across the country are experiencing strong, even robust buyer demand, sellers can’t take that for granted.  Here are some expert tips to make your home stand out against competitors:

Curb Appeal – Take a drive through the neighborhood.  Does your home blend in? If so, how can you make it stand out?  It could be simple fixes like new porch lights, power washing the sidewalks and driveway, fertilizing your lawn, and planting seasonal flowers.  A yard in bloom always sells best.  A yard in gloom means doom.  Take care of those pesky weeds, blackberry bushes, or overgrown shrubs.  Sometimes bigger projects are needed.  When was the last time you painted the house?  You might be overdue.

Interior Condition – What’s that smell?  I’m not sure, but it needs to go away!  Sometimes it’s in the carpet.  Sometimes it’s in the paint.  Wherever it is, find it and fix it.  Before you put your home on the market, make sure it gets a thorough cleaning.  Does your home feel dated?  I keep hearing brass is back!  That doesn’t mean the dining room light fixture you installed in 1982 is relevant now.  It’s time for a refresh!  There’s no need to spend gobs of cash, but a home that feels current will always fetch a higher price.  Simple fixes can help you overcome buyer’s negative feedback before they ever walk through the door.  Sometimes a homeowner’s idea of “style” doesn’t resonate with buyers.  Positioning your home for mass market appeal using neutral paint, fixtures and furnishings will help the offers start rolling in.

Staging – Less is more.  Take down the family photos. Thin out the bookcases, knick-knacks, lace doilies, etc.  You know who you are!  It’s time to admit it, then let your real estate broker help you.  This is the hardest step in the process for mort sellers and typically where brokers get the most push-back.  Coming to the realization that you’re actually moving can be difficult, especially when you’re leaving behind so many wonderful memories.  Just remember, you’re not selling the memories, just the house.  The best approach is to pack like you’re ready to move.  You’re going to have to do it eventually.  If you’re going to live in the home while it’s on the market, it may be a good idea to accessorize with some staging items to help complete your furnishings.  If the home is vacant, talk with your broker about having the home professionally staged.  Buyers have a hard time visualizing furniture in an empty space.  Will it fit?  Give them something to help them envision the space.

Professional Photography – If your real estate broker doesn’t do it… find a different broker! Over 90% of buyers start their search online.  The photos they see are your home’s first impression and photos of vacant rooms are downright boring.  Buyer’s click past them without a second look.  Give them something to focus on and they’ll linger to imagine living in that space.  This is a no-brainer.

Deferred Maintenance – Remember that honey-do list?  Did you ever get any of those things done?  It’s time to start.  Buyers don’t need a home to be perfectly remodeled, but they do want to know a home has been well maintained.  Before you list, make sure to take care of the projects you’ve been procrastinating on. From the roof to the basement, they’re hidden all over.  Walk through your home with your real estate broker and decide which ones should be done before the For Sale sign goes up.  Things like cleaning the roof & gutters, furnace maintenance, paint touch-ups, checking the crawl space & attic, and fixing dripping faucets will help make inspections go more smoothly.

Identify Your Target Buyer – Your real estate broker can develop a buyer profile to determine who the likely buyers are in your area.  Use the buyer profile to assist in deciding which projects to focus on before listing your home for sale.

Regardless of location or home value, these universal tips will help your home stand out against the competition.  It takes a lot of work to get your home ready for the market.  Sometimes sellers find it so daunting that the tasks become overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance.  Just remember that all the time and energy you put into the market preparation will often result in a far better selling experience at the negotiation table.

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Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Getting ready to sell your house? We asked our global Coldwell Banker network for their best advice for those prepping their homes. Check out what they had to say.

Get Inspected

sell1 Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Get the home inspected and address any necessary repairs now before it becomes an issue during negotiations.” says Susan Heckman, Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. At the same time you should also check with your town to ensure there are no open permits on your home.

Believe me, I know how scary the word inspection is but this is one of those things that will hang over your head until it gets done. Make the appointment and get it off your mind now.

Curb Appeal Matters

The first impression of your home is incredibly important. Buyers who have the ability to do a “drive by” will and if what they see on the outside doesn’t look good then chances are they are going to skip on checking out the inside.

“Buyers sense “Pride in Ownership” from the moment they drive up and want to be the people who love their home. Make it feel like a place to “come home from work to”, “raise a family in”, “retire into.” It’s important to demonstrate the benefit of the features, not the features themselves. That’s what HOME is all about. Convey the dream.” -Alec Schwartz, Coldwell Banker Preferred

Stand in front of your house and determine what areas of your front yard and home look tired. For some it might just require quick fixes. For example, “a quick coat of paint will make your entrance sweet and inviting” says Teresa Congioloso with Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty, Inc.

door Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Whatever it is that your home needs start thinking about it now. “Start clearing away the outside from any winter debris. Getting the home ready for a beautiful spring yard takes time, and shouldn’t wait until its already spring to start” says Lauren Lehr from Coldwell Banker Conroy Marable Holleman. Once you do the work have your real estate agent come over and take the listing photos, that way your hard work is captured on camera and your home is presented to potential buyers at it’s very best.

Pay attention to every detail from small things like the mail box all the way up to your landscaping. Here are some ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for less.

Transition into Spring

Andrea Geller, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, suggests removing all signs of winter. “Once you have removed dead foliage from the outside, bring your attention to the inside. Get rid of auxiliary heaters. If you live in a condo make sure the hallways have been cleaned of trails of salt from boots. The remnants of winter in the common areas give the impression to potential buyers that the association does not properly maintain the building.”

Take this time to swap out your seasonal decor. For example, put away the heavy blankets and bedspreads, swap out boot trays for throw rugs and consider adding some bright floral arrangements.

De Clutter AKA Minimize

declutter Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Remove the clutter, potential buyers for your house need to be able to visualize it as their home. By removing a few items of furniture you don’t necessarily need, some extra kitchen appliances from on top of the counters, and pictures. As strange as that last one sounds, your buyers don’t need to feel as though the eyes in the pictures are watching them!” says Scott Vinson II with Coldwell Banker Royal Realty.

As you declutter, you can pack away items you won’t need until after your move and donate or trash things you no longer want.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the best things you can do to prepare your home for sale. According to HomeGain’s Prepare to Sell 2009 national survey, the average price to paint interior walls is $500 to $750, but that increases a home price by an average of $1,500 to $2,000 — which can be a 250 percent return on investment.

“Don’t be afraid to use color” say Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite  While neutrals are the safe route to go, nice flat colors and accent walls give a home character. Gray has becoming an increasingly popular trend as well.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone to Do It!)

Imagine walking into a home smelling last night’s dinner, seeing mold on the bathroom tile and pet hair dust balls the size of desert tumbleweeds? Yuck!

A clean home will help your home sell much faster. If getting down and dirty just isn’t your thing then you can always hire someone. If you plan on doing it yourself, “remember the small details like based boards, door trim and light switches” says Lisa Heglar from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. We also suggest getting your carpets professionally cleaned.

Set a Budget

Items that you put off fixing or upgrading may be back on your radar now that you will need to present your home in it’s best light. Before you go breaking that piggy bank and completely remodeling your kitchen check out this post on How to Limit Spending When Getting a Home Ready to Sell

Get Inspiration from Other Sellers

Unless you are a professional interior decorator, staging your home will not come naturally. Check out what hundred of other homeowners just like yourself have done to make their homes “market ready” by browsing through these thousands of photos.

Let Us Help

Last but certainly not least, our favorite tip came from Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite …

“Blue, lots of blue, starting with the sign in the front yard.”

sold Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

We know it is up to you to choose a real estate agent but at Coldwell Banker our mission statement says it all “We strive to be the trusted source of innovating real estate solutions, creating exceptional experiences for all we serve.” If there is anything we can do to help you, from additional advice on prepping your home to providing you with a Comparative Market Analysis, just reach out and ask.

The post Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

savingssign How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

There are several ways to keep costs low during the selling process

It is common for homeowners to think that selling a home is an expensive endeavor, which may in turn cause them to hold off on putting their home on the market. From repairs to staging the process can seem overwhelming. However, with the advice of a real estate agent, sellers often find there are several ways to keep costs low and come out on top during the selling process.

Work with a seasoned professional

Those who are unfamiliar with the selling process may try to take on everything themselves, which can lead to errors regarding documents, home staging, repairs and inspections. While many individuals initially opt for the “go-it-alone” approach to save money, working with seasoned professionals can help avoid costly errors. Real estate agents can provide sound advice on staging a home, accepting offers and enhancing listings to attract more buyers.

A home inspector is another asset consumers should take advantage of to save money. Buyers will likely hire their own inspector to examine a home, and if they find significant problems, they may ask sellers to lower their asking price or walk away altogether. However, sellers who discover issues beforehand and have them repaired may be in a better position to price their homes and mitigate potential problems.

Keep improvements to a minimum

Minor updates to a home can be helpful in attracting buyers. However, going overboard on updates to sell a home may not give sellers the kind of return they are expecting. For example, adding on an office addition or turning the basement into a den may make a home more appealing, but buyers may be unlikely to pay a great deal extra for it, according to the National Association of Realtors. Instead, sellers may benefit more from small touch-ups, such as repainting the home, adding new fixtures and hiring a landscaper to improve a property’s curb appeal.

Not sure where to start with your exterior? Realtor.com posted great suggestions that included:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.
  • Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly.
  • Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • In Northern winters, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Store RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.

In some cases, individuals who have outdated kitchens and appliances may want to undertake a larger project, such as replacing floors or countertops. Sellers who decide to take on these renovations should stick to materials used in similar homes in the neighborhood. For example, buyers may be more inclined to purchase a home if the newly-remodeled kitchen countertops are made of granite, like the neighboring homes, rather than tile.