Envision a Fixer-Upper as your Dream Home

Century 21 M&M agents say choose a fixer-upper and get your dream homeIf you are shopping for a new home and can’t find exactly what you want, why not consider a fixer-upper. Century 21 M&M Realtors say that these days, with all of the foreclosed homes available, many of them need work and can be purchased at a reasonable price. Think about what can be done to bring one of these homes up to your dream home standards

Century 21 M&M Realtors say that it is a good idea to keep the remodel option in mind when shopping for a home. Thinking in terms of ‘What if…’ just might get you the home you have been dreaming about. Not only can you change paint colors, you can install new flooring, new cabinets, new countertops, even new windows and doors. You can eliminate walls, open up and reconfigure the space, even enlarge the windows to bring some light in. The possibilities are endless.

Remodels can be expensive, so you need to know what your budget is ahead of purchasing the home, and exactly what that budget will buy. If you plan ahead, you may even be able to get the remodel funded through the mortgage.

1. Start with the creative process.

Write down what you want to accomplish. Collect photos, brochures and samples. Set up an organization system for your project with notes, receipts, warranties, etc. Make sketches and draw floor plans. Research products on the internet and visit remodel forums.

2. Gather Information

Obtain a survey of the property showing other structures, utilities and wells. If you belong to a Homeowners Association, inquire about rules and restrictions. And visit your City or County’s Building or Zoning Departments.

3. Select your project team

Select an architect or draftsman, interview contractors, and get the interior and/or landscape designers involved early on. Ask for referrals from your friends, neighbors and family. Be specific when answering questions about your project.

4. Meet with your team and finalize the details.

Set up a meeting with your chosen contractor, and/or designer, to talk about your project. Using your preliminary drawings, work with your team to coordinate ideas, hear comments, discuss prices, voice expectations, coordinate and confirm work schedules.

5. Negotiate the contracts.

Include in the contract; the commencement and completion date, the total contract price, payment terms and general conditions. Do not sign any contract until it has your list of specifications and any other information that you deem important. Consider having an attorney review your contracts.

6. Finally – when you have the green light, start the project.

It may be inconvenient, but if the owner is on-site, construction will move forward in a timely and cost effective manner. You will be there to answer questions. You will be there to make sure that the project meets your standards of quality. And, you will be there to hold all involved – accountable.

The steps above will afford you the opportunity to take an active part in planning your remodel project. The learning process and the information you gather will increase your potential for a dream home, completed on time and on budget.

Call a Century 21 M&M Agent to discuss the possibilities of finding a fixer-upper that can be remodeled into your dream home.


Sometimes, Landscaping can Make or Break a Home Sale

Curb appeal Sells homesA Century 21 M&M Realtor will tell you that first impressions sell a house. And, a well landscaped front yard adds curb appeal, and may increase the value of your home and most certainly increases your chance of selling the home.

Landscaping your back yard is a different story, if your weeds are 3ft high, buyers will knock down the price of your home figuring the cost to clean up your yard and put it into shape. If you put in a minimal amount of money, time and effort into your backyard, it will help sell your home and probably boost the price enough to warrant the work.

So it is always a good idea to consult with your Century 21 M&M Realtor about the condition of your landscaping, both front and back yard. You will undoubtedly find that having other eyes look at your property is very helpful in the landscape planning process.

Landscape planning is about asking questions, making sketches, putting together a scrapbook, talking to friends, and knowing what you want ahead of time.

First, do some research and landscape planning:

1. Check with your Century 21 M&M Realtor to see if there are limitations on what you can do. If you belong to a Home Owners Association, or your home is in a historical preservation area, you may need to obtain special permission to make changes and those will need to be approved.

2. Do what is most cost-effective first. Sometimes simply removing some old trellises or adding molding around the windows is enough and can cost very little. Why spend big dollars when a cost-effective makeover will do?

3. Consider how much time do you want to spend on maintenance? Do you like to “water as needed”, or an automated watering system. Do you want to weed, trim and prune. Or, do you want a low maintenance system?

4. Spend the dollars for a major makeover if is absolutely necessary. If spending the money will increase the value of your home and your curb appeal, then bite the bullet and do the whole job.

Write down the answers to these questions, make sketches, put together a scrapbook, talk to your friends, check out your neighbor’s yards…you get the idea…get the facts and know what you want.

It is possible to design, install and maintain a landscaping project without outside help. However, if you need structural features (like a retaining wall, swimming pool or outdoor kitchen), it would be wise to consult with a landscape architect or engineer. Furthermore if you want fast results, planning with a crew of professionals can get the job done fast!

What to expect at the Loan Closing when Buying a Home

Loan closing is part of buying a home with a Century 21 M&M agent in Northern CaliforniaEvery day Century 21 M&M Realtors close home sales in Northern California. And, today is your day! You have found the home, obtained the mortgage, and the time has come… the lender wants you to sign some papers. This is called a loan closing – so what can you expect and how do you prepare for a loan closing?

Should you bring anyone with you?

Unless you have a working knowledge of real estate and finance, it’s a good idea to bring someone with you who does. This could be your Century 21 M&M Realtor, an attorney, an accountant – any person who knows the ropes and will put your interests first.
You may have many questions about the loan documents, however, the person handling the closing may not know the correct answers, or may be unwilling to advise you on legal matters.

If you aren’t sure about something, it’s a good idea to wait until you can get an answer that satisfies you. However, if the loan is part of a purchase, waiting may jeopardize the transaction, in fact, it may even jeopardize getting the financing.

What should I bring to the Loan Closing?

Ahead of time you will be advised by the person conducting the loan closing. You may need your checkbook or a cashier’s check, maybe some documentation such as – W-2 forms, bank statements, paycheck stubs, etc.
Whatever you are asked to bring, be sure to bring it. Otherwise, the loan closing maybe delayed for days, resulting in additional charges.

What should I challenge?

It’s a good idea to carefully read the fees and charges. You should have been made aware of these fees in the Good Faith Estimate when you applied for the mortgage. If you find anything out of line, it’s a good idea to bring it to the Loan Closer’s attention.
Double check the math, these days with computers mistakes don’t happen often, but they do happen. Check the debits and credits, make sure they are properly given. Point out whatever errors you find, it won’t take but a few minutes for a computer to correct and print a new document.

What will I need to sign?

You will be signing a loan agreement for sure, the mortgage, Ancillary documents and a Deed of Trust. Expect that every form will be explained to you, however, it is important to read everything, no matter how small the font or how insignificant the material appears to be. If there is a clause in there that you have not previously agreed to, have the clause deleted and initialed on the spot.

So rest assured, your Century 21 M&M Real Estate agent will be with you every step of the way, from Pre-Approval all the way to Loan Closing. Call a Century 21 M&M Realtor today at (800)350-1548 to get started on the path to buying a home.


When selling your home, remember-Bathrooms sell Homes

Bathroom ideas if you are selling your home.Bathroom ideas can transform a tired old space into a peaceful, orderly retreat.  And, as any Realtor will tell you, Bathrooms and Kitchens will either sell your home, or kill the sale (depending on their condition). Century 21 M&M Real Estate Agents recommend budget friendly projects that will not only add value, but also improve this very busy room in your house.

First, let’s talk about the budget –

How much you can spend will determine to a great extent the end result. If it is a question of how to stretch a limited budget when you are selling your home, give your bathroom a thorough cleaning, paint the walls, hang new towels and if the toilet and sink have seen better days – for just a couple hundred dollars you can update those too.

Bathroom ideas that are budget friendly;

COLOR SCHEME: Start with the fixture color first, then choose wall surfaces, built-ins, floor coverings, and accessories to go with the fixtures. When all of the surfaces are similar in color, the room will look larger and feel more peaceful.

PLUMBING FIXTURES: Another reason to consider new plumbing fixtures has to do with water efficiency. Modern plumbing fixtures are much for water efficient that fixtures that are 10 years old. Also, there are dozens of special-use fixtures offered to help solve individual space and layout requirements.

LIGHTING, VENTILATION, HEATING: Even the smallest bathroom needs two types of lighting – general and directed. The greatest need for directed light is over the lavatory for shaving or make-up. Replacing old lighting fixtures is a cost-effective upgrade, especially if the existing fixtures are showing signs of age.

Whether or not you have a window or skylight, take a good look at your current ventilation system. For under a $100 you can replace an old unit that is showing signs of age.

STORAGE: The kind and amount of storage space your bathroom needs depends on what supplies are normally stored in this room. Making a list of the items you normally use will help you determine the amount and type of space needed to store them. Besides built-in vanities and medicine cabinets, you might consider recessed cabinets or shelf units. Storage is not only hard to live without, but also may be a deal-breaker when you are selling your home.

Additional Bathroom Ideas –

FLOOR PLAN AND LAYOUT: Consider the available floor space and number of family members using the bathroom to help determine the layout of this room. Knowing where the water supply and waste lines are will be important due to the expense of relocating them.

SOUND CONTROL: A sound control system between the bathroom and adjoining rooms is something to consider when remodeling. The idea is to muffle the sounds of running water and reduce pipe and flushing noises.

Home buyers pay attention to all sorts of things when buying a home.  It is always a good idea to spend sometime with a Century 21 M&M Realtor before putting your home on the market. Realtors are a valuable resource when it comes to deciding how much to money spend and where to spend it when you are getting your home ready for sale.