5 Simple Things That May Increase Your Property Value

Here are five simple ways to increase your property value when it’s time to sell:

agentcustomer13

1. Rethink your home’s layout: If you have three bedrooms and a home office, take out the office to make your house a four bedroom home. Removing bedrooms may decrease the value of your home. Turn it into an office, gym, or craft room then turn it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell. (Forbes)

2. Remove clutter: Making rooms look neat and clean is always a necessity, but take it one step further and remove the clutter and personal items from your rooms. Taking out photos, magazines, and little decorations will make the room look bigger and taking away personal items will help your buyers envision their lives there. (Forbes)

3. Front yard makeovers: The saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” but when it comes to real estate, that is hard to live by. The first impression of your home is the front yard so make sure it is neat and tidy. Plant some new flowers, mow the lawn, and touch up any exterior paint that might need some attention. (DIY Network)

4. Maintenance work: The last thing buyers want to see when they walk into your kitchen or bathroom is rusty, leaking pipes, or a faucet that looks like it has seen better days. Take a weekend and give attention to any little repairs around the house. It could be as easy as replacing old door knobs and faucets. Paint your home neutral colors to minimize the chance that your design aesthetic will clash with the aesthetic of your potential buyers. (This Old House)

5. Update appliances: The kitchen is a huge selling point for potential buyers. If your kitchen appliances are old and outdated buy newer versions. While you’re at it, take your kitchen from good to great without breaking the bank.

Complete these simple tasks before selling your home to increase the likelihood that you’ll get a higher offer.

Text Messaging Etiquette for Real Estate Agents

It has been reported that 31% of Smartphone users prefer text messaging over regular phone calls. Although you may be used to calling clients, your clients may prefer to communicate by text messaging. When it comes to text messaging clients, it can be tricky to know what is appropriate. Here’s the 411 on text messaging etiquette.

TEXTING

1. Proper language and punctuation: When speaking with clients over text, it’s important to remain as professional as possible. It’s best to not use abbreviations or “text message language.” Remember, this is still a business matter and you should behave as if you were talking on the phone, speaking in person, or writing an email.

2. Business Hours: When it comes to text messages, you should treat it the same as phone calls and emails. Would you call a client at 5 am or 11 pm? If the answer is no, do the same with text messages. Only send messages during “business hours.”

3. Length: Keep your text messages short and sweet. Don’t overwhelm your clients with information that is probably best received face to face. Send text messages with information that needs an immediate, short response and be sure to not discuss important, legal information over a text message. Use text messaging to coordinate logistics.

4. Permission: Before you start texting your clients ask them if they would prefer to communicate by phone, email or by text.

Text messaging between real estate agents and clients can help business flow smoothly. It can be beneficial in showing that you are tech savvy. This may be even more important with first-time homeowners who are younger and more accustomed to texting.

Small Changes, Big Differences: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Give Your Home a New Look!

There are a lot of advantages to home improvement changes. They can make your space feel more modern, larger, and increase its value. And the good news is you don’t have to be an expert handyman (or handywoman) to make easy and simple alterations. Here’s how to better the look and feel of your home.

Living Room

1. Install new handles and door knobs: Buy new handles for your cabinets and drawers when you’re changing the style of a room. Get a modern feel by adding steel handles, or achieve shabby-chic comfort with bright colors that contrast classic wood doors and cabinets. Though old-fashioned, using a faux-crystal option will create a delicate look in a room.

2. Replace old light bulbs or add light fixtures: If the light in a room is looking dim, try stronger wattage bulbs (within the safety limitations listed on your lamp or light fixture). Floor lamps will also help achieve a brighter effect. Don’t rely on decorative desk lamps to drastically improve the brightness of a room, though they can enhance the mood and decor.

3. Paint the front door: It’s recommended that you repaint your front door every 4-6 years. (Pree’s Professional Painting) Whether it’s a neutral or bold color, if you give a door a new look, it can change the outlook you have on the rest of the house.

4. Polish floors: A weekly sweeping of your hardwood floors isn’t enough. Polish your floors every three months with a urethane-based polish, which creates a protective layer against small scratches.

5. Paint an accent walls: This design technique draws the eye to one wall instead of the others. Choose a bold color or wallpaper on the wall that features the focus of your room (e.g. a fireplace, a large painting). One accent wall technique is to keep with the tone of other walls. For instance, if your room is beige, paint the accent wall a deep, chocolate brown to keep with the neutral tone.

Make these small yet significant changes to your home, and you could be on your way to have your very own redesign at a fraction of the cost.

Great Tips for Moving Across Town or Across the Country

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASource: zillow.com ~ Author: Tali Wee

The costs of exiting one property and settling into a new home can accumulate quickly. Review these tips before making a move.

Moving is expensive, no matter how carefully you plan for it. Whether relocating for a new job, escaping rising rent prices or downsizing, the costs of exiting one property and settling into a new home can accumulate quickly.

We asked some finance bloggers to share their budgeting advice on relocating, and here are their suggestions.

How do you prepare your finances for an upcoming move?

I recommend that you begin saving and planning for a move as soon as you know it’s coming. Calculate all of your anticipated costs and begin setting aside money each month. Remember that there may be a lag time on getting back your current security deposits, so don’t count on those being immediately available to spend. — Laura Adams of Quick and Dirty Tips

The best way I have found to budget is by little bits. Think of it like filling up a cookie jar, although I do it electronically with a separate savings account. When I was saving for a house I used to put $300 a month into the account automatically, just like a bill right along with the other normal budgeted expenses. Next, any extra income I could generate — I would always have some ideas brewing to create side income or side jobs — I would throw in on top. If I had a slower month where I couldn’t contribute extra, I still felt like I was progressing toward the goal. — Ryan of Spilling Buckets

What are the most surprisingly expensive costs of moving?

I am always surprised at the extra costs you wouldn’t normally consider like deposits on utilities and having to buy things like rugs or curtains. You can really bust up a budget buying all new rugs and bath mats for your new place! — Kim Parr of Eyes on the Dollar

Signing up for new services. There always seems to be a fee to connect or move services. — Ryan of Impersonal Finance

The costs that typically shocked me are the ones related to things at the place I’m moving out of — cleaning fees, other expenses that I didn’t think I was going to get charged for, bills that were unpaid during the landlord’s downtime. — Jeff of Sustainable Life Blog

There’s always something! An extra night in a hotel, new furniture or home supplies, cleaning products … packing material. Whatever cost you estimate for your move, just add 10 percent so you’re not completely shocked at the end. — Spencer of Military Money Manual

How far in advance should you begin saving for a move?

This depends entirely on budget and income, but I would say budget your costs in advance, and aim to save 20 percent above those costs. However long it will take you to comfortably save that amount, do it. — Ryan of Impersonal Finance

How do you offset the costs of moving when you haven’t had much time to save?

One way to save money on your next move is to find your boxes for free. Check with some apartment communities in your area to see if you can collect boxes after someone moves in. This is a win-win for you and someone who needs to get rid of their boxes. — Laura Adams of Quick and Dirty Tips

It is best to identify things you don’t need or won’t need in the future. Moving should be the trigger point to get rid of things you don’t need so that you not only simplify your life but save a good deal of money on the move and storage expenses. — Shilpan Patel of Street Smart Finance

I love selling or giving away as much of my stuff as possible before I move: old furniture, clothes and sports equipment. Basically, if I haven’t touched it in the three years I’ve lived somewhere, I probably don’t need to lug it across the country! If you force yourself to give away or sell many of your things before you move, you’ll avoid the trap of having a storage unit or so many possessions that they begin to possess you! It’s liberating to have less things to worry about, care about and maintain. — Spencer of Military Money Manual

How do you prevent overspending on moving services?

To budget for a relocation it’s important to get multiple mover quotes and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. For instance, get quotes that offer the same amount of damage insurance and provide the same amount of service and packing material. I found out the hard way how expensive boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap and tape can be. Even if you plan to move yourself, it’s still a good idea get a full service moving quote as a baseline. — Laura Adams of Quick and Dirty Tips

I’ve had my fair share of challenges during moves in the past several years. One of the challenges is to find the right mover at an affordable price. The lesson I learned from some of my mistakes is to do proper planning before hiring a mover and have all the terms and conditions properly documented so if disputes arise, then you have legal protection. Also, you should check references online and with the better business bureau before hiring a moving company. — Shilpan Patel of Street Smart Finance

Should you recruit friends to help?

We’ve always had help from friends and it’s worked great. Our last move was only a few miles, so we didn’t even rent a truck. Our friends all showed up in vans or their own trucks and we had a caravan. If you buy them all pizza afterward and return the favor when it’s their turn, it’s a win-win for everyone. — Kim Parr of Eyes on the Dollar

I have had friends help move in the past, and it has worked out great. To make it easy on your friends, please make sure that ALL of your things are packed before you start moving. — Jeff of Sustainable Life Blog

Do you have any tips for people considering moving?

Moving is hard and expensive. I am all in favor of moving for a better opportunity, but I would really consider the true costs and all the extras before pulling up stakes. — Kim Parr of Eyes on the Dollar

Remember, relocating is more expensive than the fees for boxes, movers and utility cancellations and reactivations. You’ll have new bills and want funds to furnish your new home. The standard guideline is that monthly debts should not surpass 36 percent of your monthly income, including rent, car payments and other bills. Calculate home affordability before committing to the expensive process of moving, to ensure it’s the best long-term fit.

Relocation is never simple or easy. If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Selling a Home in 2015: 5 Resolutions for Success

zillow digsSource: zillow.com ~ Author: Brendon Desimone

If you’re considering selling your home in 2015, you should know that a lot has probably changed in the real estate market since you last sold. Knowing what works today — and resolving to put the tips and advice of the past to rest — will help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

1) Appeal to mobile buyers

Today nearly all home searches begin on a smartphone or tablet — not on the Web, and not using the newspaper.

If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure that you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices. If you use the tips and tricks of a generation past, you may miss out on today’s generation of buyers.

2) Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment”

Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.

When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial.

If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.

3) Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling

Many homeowners think they’re ready to sell, but they haven’t fully gone through the emotional process of the decision. Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?

Many sellers list their home before they are truly ready to sell, only to shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing it or not presenting it to the market in its best possible light.

4) Don’t hire just any agent

The agent you used to purchase the home 15 years ago may seem like the logical choice for listing your home this time around. But are they really the best option?

With access to so much information online and so much at stake, sellers should talk to a few agents before committing. Get a referral from someone who recently sold, and use online resources to research agents’ sales activity and expertise.

The right agent makes all the difference and if you have any doubt about an agent’s abilities, hold off on establishing a relationship.

5) Make the best impression online

Nothing frustrates an active and aggressive buyer more than getting an email or mobile notification alert for a new property listing only to get to the listing and not see any photos.

Buyer first impressions today are on the Internet. If you list your home without complete information — including photos, description and accurate data — not only will you turn them off, but they may simply not come back later.

Stay safe this holiday season and if you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Staging Tips for Selling During the Holidays

selling during holidays

Source: frontdoor.com ~ Author: Kara Wahlgren

Before you deck the halls, see which holiday decor can help you sell.

It’s the time of year that calendars are packed with holiday parties, budgets are strained by gift-giving and the roads are covered in freshly fallen snow. Alas, ’tis not the season for real estate. But the good news is that the few brave house-hunters who do venture out are serious about buying a house and stylish trimmings will make them want to ring in the new year in your home.

“Holidays can be personal on a lot of levels, but you want to make sure your decor is neutral,” advises Amy Powers, owner of Accent Home Staging & Interiors of Atlanta. “You want to romance your buyer, not invite them to your Christmas party.”

Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:

  • Clean and stage. “Before you decorate, your house needs to be staged,” Powers says. If your living room is already piled high with clutter and tchotchkes, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding.
  • Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.
  • Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.
  • Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.
  • Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. (No, your neighbors didn’t pay us to say that.) Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.
  • Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers. “You want to keep neutrality throughout, so you can attract any type of buyer,” Powers says. Not sure what qualifies? Powers adds, “No matter what your religion is, you’re not going to feel offended by a nutcracker.”
  • Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.
  • Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every last ornament. “A lot of people, when they decorate, tend to use all the extra space in their house,” Powers says. “You still want each space to look as spacious as possible.” Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please.

Stay safe this holiday season and if you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

10 Turn-Offs for Potential Buyers

Source: zillow.com ~ Author: Brendon DeSimone

As real estate markets continue to recover around the country, buyers are out in full force. Many of today’s buyers make judgments about homes within moments of seeing a listing online. They are also more cautious than before the housing crisis. They want to make sure they’re buying the best house and for the best amount of money. For sellers, that means giving buyers what they want. Though it’s a home first and foremost, it’s also an investment. If you’re planning to put your house on the market, here are ten ways you might be turning off potential buyers.

selling no11. A garage turned into something else.

If you’ve sacrificed the garage for something other than the garage, the trade-off might actually be a turn-off, especially to people where parking is at a premium. Even in the suburbs, most people want a covered, secure place to park their cars. Don’t forget that a garage often doubles as a storage location. The garage houses everything from lawn mower to the excess paper towels and cleansers. If you convert your garage into something else, you’re likely to force a buyer to look elsewhere.

selling no22. A bedroom turned into something else.

Aside from location, one of the first things a buyer searches for is number of bedrooms. Why? Because it’s an important requirement. You might think having a wine cellar, with built-in refrigerators, in your home will make it attractive to potential buyers because it was attractive to you. And while it’s true many people work from home today at least part of the time, that doesn’t mean they want a dedicated home office—especially one with built-in desks or bookcases that would need to be removed. If you must convert a bedroom into something else, make sure you can easily convert it back into a bedroom when you go to sell.

selling no33. Carpet over hardwood floors.

Many people today like hardwood floors. They are cleaner looking, add a design element, don’t show dirt as much, and they’re definitely preferred over carpets for people with allergies. If you have nice hardwood floors, show them off. Let the buyer decide if he or she wants to cover them. It’s easier for a buyer to purchase new carpeting of their choosing than it is for them to get past yours.

selling44. Over-the-top lighting fixtures.

A beautiful chandelier can enliven a dining room. But it can also turn off buyers who prefer simpler, less ornate lighting fixtures. Did you fall in love with a dark light fixture on a trip to Casablanca? That’s great. And you should use it for your own enjoyment. But when it comes time to sell, replace it with something more neutral.

selling55. The kid’s room that is a miniature theme park.

Little kids have big imaginations. They tend to love Disney characters, spaceships, super heroes, and such, and their parents are often all-too-willing to turn their rooms into fantasy caves. But the more you transform a kid’s bedroom into something resembling a Disneyland ride, the more you’ll turn off most potential buyers. Your buyer might have teenage children who will see the removal of wallpaper, paint or little-kid-inspired light fixtures as work. If you can, neutralize the kid’s rooms before you go on the market.

selling66. An above-ground pool.

Does it get hot in the summers where you live? Wish you had a backyard pool but can’t afford to have a ‘real’ pool installed? Then you might be tempted to buy and set up an above-ground pool. For most potential buyers, though, these pools are an eyesore. Also, an above-ground pool can leave a big dead spot of grass in your backyard — another eyesore. If you must have it, consider dismantling it before going on the market. Of course, be sure you’re really ready to sell or you may be stuck without a place to cool off next summer.

selling77. An in-ground pool.

You might assume that a gorgeous backyard pool will make a splash with potential buyers. Except in warm climates, where pools are truly an important amenity, many people see a backyard pool as a huge maintenance issue — not to mention a liability. If you live in an area where pools aren’t that common, seriously consider your decision. If you’re planning to be in the home for the long haul and you’ll get lots of use out of it, go for it.

selling88. Avocado-green kitchen fixtures.

If your home is decades old and the kitchen looks like something from The Brady Bunch, consider investing in a quick once-over. Some new stainless steel appliances and granite countertops can be installed in no time and the cost and hassle is a lot less than you think. More buyers prefer to move right in. Do the work for them and you increase your bottom line.

selling99. Cigarette smell through the house.

Over time, the smell of smoke permeates your home. It gets into the carpet, drapes, wood paneling, just about everywhere — a big turnoff to most buyers today. Getting rid of the smoke smell can be a big job. If you’re a smoker, seriously consider how you want to present your home to the market. For a long- term smoke-filled home, it means new paint, removing carpets and doing lots of deep cleaning.

selling1010. Keep Fido’s bed and toys front and center

Let’s face it; family pets bring a lot of joy to the home. But, they don’t always bring the same joy to a prospective buyer. Dog’s toys, filled with saliva, dirt and dust can be a sore both for the eyes and the nose. If you have a pet, put a plan in place to move the food and water bowls as well as the toys and dog’s bed to a better location, like the garage. Homes that smell and show like animals can scare buyers off.

It’s your home — for now

Part of the joy of owning a home is that you can do whatever you want with it, to it, and in it. You should enjoy it. But if you want to sell it easily and for top dollar down the road, try to picture how others might react to any renovations, additions or modifications you make. The more specific you get — such as turning your kid’s room into a miniature castle from Cinderella — the harder it will be to sell your home later, and the less return on investment you’ll get. When considering changes to your home, always consider resale.

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.