The Case for Making a “Smart” Garage

The Case for Making a Smart GarageEnergy-efficiency, smart electronics and automation have come home to the rest of the house, but many garages still look and feel like neglected warehouses. Why not update the lighting and add some high-tech features that will bring your garage into the 21st Century. Doing so will make your life easier and need not cost a fortune!

Rethink Room Function

Most homeowners use the garage for more than a car park. If it’s part storage room, part play space and part project area, manage the corresponding needs for specialized task lighting, additional circuits for a second refrigerator or freezer, conveniently located space for gadgets, gizmos, bikes and sports gear, and how you’ll deal with yard equipment and gardening tools and trash receptacles. A comprehensive lighting/electrical plan will be a great benefit.

Power Up 

Consider your lifestyle, and plan for the uses and activities you envision in the garage. Whether you have built-in storage cabinets, a fully-equipped home workshop, a hobby center, or play space for neighborhood kids, you’ll need handy receptacles for air compressors, charging stations and a variety of portable tools and devices. Trailing extension cords from the receptacle on a door opener is not only unsafe, but inconvenient. If you have or are considering an electric or hybrid vehicle, think about a car-charging station; it will require a 220-240 volt circuit.

Become Energy Efficient

Install sleek, energy efficient recessed cans, and use LED bulbs for bright, attractive general garage lighting that offers greater flexibility than typical fluorescent tube fixtures. They are available for both new construction and remodeling. Also look at insulated garage doors with a row of windows for natural light. Add insulation to walls and ceiling if necessary. Modern garage door openers have advanced safety sensors and lighting timers; but those that are truly smart allow you to monitor operation and control opening and closing via smart phone app as well as by wireless remote.

Go Hands-Free

It’s not uncommon for exterior lighting to be motion-activated, particularly if you have a long driveway or security spotlights on your home’s perimeter. But you can also automate interior lighting, either with motion sensors, or by using door-jamb switches. You’ll love the convenience of never having to fumble in the dark for a light switch!

Tie the Garage Into Home Security

In addition to an intrusion alarm and various sensors for your home’s interior, incorporate air quality sensors and fire and water detectors, even a security camera, in your garage space. Home security is a major concern among potential buyers.

If you’re in the market for a new home, make sure to ask your trusted real estate professional about homes in your area with all of the newest technology.

 

 

 

Can Color Help Sell Your Home?

Can Color Help Sell Your Home?Color psychology is not an exact science, but there are basic principles that marketing pros use to sell everything from greeting cards to automobiles. Much of it has to do with color. Yes, the colors you put on your walls, or on your front door, can help clinch a home sale!

Humans have emotional reactions to color, and sensory perceptions of color are remarkably consistent. Even though individual reactions can vary, it is acknowledged that some colors evoke generally positive response, while others typically generate a negative reaction. Learning the basics of colors can be as simple as studying the color wheel. Forget about the trends, and rely on your own feelings.

Warm and Cool Colors

All colors are derived from three primary hues: Red, yellow and blue. The way they are mixed and combined results in all the colors of the spectrum, divided into warm and cool tones. And that’s where it can get a bit complicated: Humans are able to perceive millions of different color variations, and subtle differences can result in unique reactions. 

So, while the simple answer to whether color influences buying decisions is a qualified yes, there is more to the story. Neutral tones are often recommended because they allow people to add their own color personality. 

Color Dynamics

Both on a home’s exterior and inside each room, color plays an important part in attracting — or discouraging — potential buyers, so if you’re thinking of refreshing your home’s color scheme before listing it for sale, it’s wise to study the basics of color psychology. The goal is to appeal to the widest possible pool of buyers, and that’s why real estate agents tend to recommend staying with neutrals.

But the “safe” route is not necessarily the only path to a quick sale. Take the time to drive different neighborhoods and visit open houses. Take note of exterior trim colors that seem especially appealing. Study interiors: Look beyond the furnishings and visualize rooms as they would appear empty. Analyze different color options, and notice that the most appealing homes typically have a unifying theme. That doesn’t mean that every room is the same color, but simply that color choices throughout the home are related and always compatible.

Develop a Plan

By taking the time to assess your reactions to different colors, you can assist your realtor to market your home. If you love energetic red, consider painting your entry door and adding red accents in many of your rooms.

On the other hand, if sunny yellow makes you feel happy, emphasize that mood with variations of cream and warm golden tones, with accents of daffodil or saturated sunflower yellow throughout.

Color is very personal, just like a home. If your home reflects your unique personality, it will no doubt appeal to others.

Your trusted real estate agent will be able to assist you with additional color tips and so much more to help you get the most value from your property.

In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home Owners

In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home OwnersMany homeowners are looking for ways to maximize on their investment. One idea that is gaining popularity is a space set aside for aging parents known as an In-law apartments. These additions are living spaces that can set a property apart from others on the real estate market.

In-law apartments generally enjoy a private entrance and include things like a private bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. Although generally smaller than the main residence, in-law apartments provide all the elements of a home. Because these living spaces are often built after the original floor plan was conceived, spaces such as walk-out basements, garages or separate wings of a homes are converted.

The size and location of this unit is also dictated by adherence to local zoning ordinances and building codes. Once they are established, the door to turning them into a straight rental unit may be opened. If you are considering buying or selling a home with an in-law apartment, consider these benefits.

Benefits Of An In-Law Apartment

In terms of buying or selling a property that includes a separate residence, there are pragmatic reasons they are seen as attractive. These may include the following.

  • Elder Care: Our valued parents and grandparents will come to a point where they require some assistance from younger loved ones. An in-law apartment allows homeowners to offer them a private living space while providing effective care. In-law apartments are wonderful spaces that allow you to give back to aging family members in a dignified setting.
  • Building Relationships With Grandparents: The economic and time pressures placed on working families often compels parents to place children in daycare or after-school programs. While these are certainly viable options, they may be secondary to family members. An in-law apartment may create an opportunity to have a grandparent or other family member spend quality time with your child. In-law units can enhance the bonds of family while maintaining a level of privacy.
  • Guest Space: With family members relocating for employment opportunities, the ability to spend time together has become increasingly difficult. An in-law apartment provides a space for extended stays.
  • Rental Income: An in-law apartment that gains approval can be an excellent revenue-generator. That extra income can help offset mortgage, insurance and tax costs. That makes homes with rental units attractive to buyers.
  • Increase Property Value: Home improvements such as decks, smart technology and other amenities tend to add to a property’s value. Not only does an in-law apartment include all of the necessities of a living space, it can also bring in revenue. That’s why in-law apartments provide added value for home sellers.

If you are considering buying or selling a home that may include an in-law apartment, contact your trusted real estate professional.

6 Essential Home Fixes Before Selling

6 Essential Home Fixes Before SellingNot every buyer may want a fixer-upper. While your home for sale doesn’t need to be turn-key or move-in-ready, there are certain fixes that are important to many buyers and that can help make the sale.

1. Landscaping

It all starts with curb appeal. Landscaping helps set the mood and makes the first impression. It can be worth the time and money to replace missing mulch, pavers, or rock. Remove dead plants and shrubbery. Trim bushes and prune trees, especially lower limbs that hang over walkways or brush too close to the house. Add pops of color with planters and healthy blooming, flowers. 

2. Exterior Spruce-Up

Curb appeal continues with the exterior of the home. If the paint is faded, cracked, and peeling, consider a fresh coat. Replace broken or missing pieces of siding and repair stucco. Walk around the perimeter and check for windows with cracks or wood rot; these may need to be professionally repaired/replaced, but may add value when selling the home. 

3. Update Lighting

Buyers appreciate a bright, cheerful home when doing a walk-through. Before placing the home on the market, update the interior lighting where needed. This may be as simple as replacing old bulbs and thoroughly cleaning domes and other coverings. Consider changing an out-of-date single light over the kitchen island to stylish pendant lights. Another easy update, are new switch and outlet covers. 

4. Kitchen Make-Over

For many sellers a full kitchen renovation isn’t in the budget and may not offer enough return-on-investment. Instead, opt for a kitchen make-over:

  • Fresh paint on the walls
  • Replace an old, tired backsplash with new subway-style or mosaic tiles
  • Reface the cabinets, typically costs less than replacing
  • Update cracked, stained countertops with new

If the cabinets are in good shape, but you want to give them a quick and easy update, change out the hardware. New hinges and handles can give the cabinets a whole new look.

5. Bathroom Refresh

Deep clean the bathrooms. Give them a refresh to impress buyers by steam-cleaning tiles, regrouting, repainting, and updating light fixtures. Add bulbs with a brighter wattage and replace any missing/broken towel holders. Even replacing a worn-out shower curtain can make a difference in the overall feel of the room. 

6. Flooring

Look at low-cost options for updating floors before the first buyer takes a tour. From high-end laminate to stylish wood plank tiles, it can be worth the time and effort to replace carpeting. Older homes may have hardwood just waiting to be discovered underneath the carpets. If this is your home, consider having those original wood floors restored to add value when selling.

Beyond clearing the clutter, deep-cleaning, and organizing to maximize the space, keep in mind these six essential home fixes before listing your home for sale. 

Your trusted real estate professional will have even more advice to get your home in tip-top selling shape. If you are thinking about putting your home on the market, make contact today!

 

Guide To Buying An A-Frame House

Guide To Buying An A-Frame HouseA-Frame houses have spiked in popularity over the last couple of years. These adorable homes can be quirky or sleek and modern. They are shaped like a triangle — hence the name. A-Frame houses are shaped like the letter A. The walls begin near the foundation and slope upwards in a slant. The walls meet at the top to form a triangle or A-shape. 

A-Frame houses are popular all over the United States. They are ideal for second or vacation homes. The big windows make them especially popular in very picturesque locales. This feature allows homeowners to enjoy fabulous views of the ocean, mountains or countryside. 

Characteristics Of An A-Frame House 

A-Frame houses have very specific characteristics. Here are some of the features of an A-Frame house:

  • Open floor plan 
  • Loft space
  • Large windows 
  • Wood siding 
  • High interior ceilings 
  • Gables in the back and front 

Benefits Of An A-Frame House 

Many buyers love A-Frame houses for several reasons. They have large windows, which allows plenty of natural light to enter the home. The large windows also make them ideal for scenic views. 

A-Frame homes are also quite inexpensive and straightforward, which is another reason that they are prevalent vacation homes. 

Who are A-Frame Homes Ideal for? 

Many outdoor types of families love A-Frame houses because they are ideal for beautiful natural settings. A-Frame homes are also ideal for buyers looking for a vacation home in a pretty location. They are also great for investors or first-time home buyers.

If you are looking to buy in a prime waterfront location, you might consider an A-Frame house, as well. They are perfect for buyers wanting to build a private escape on a couple of acres of land. 

Who Should Not Buy An A-Frame Home? 

A-Frame homes aren’t for everyone. While they are an excellent option for first-time home buyers or buyers looking for a vacation property, they are not ideal for all buyers.

For example, buyers in Florida would be better served looking for a different type of home. A-Frames may not be suitable in some climates since they are constructed with wood. This fact makes them potentially more susceptible to storm and termite damage. 

Also, A-Frame homes are probably not ideal for larger families that need a lot of storage space. A-Frame houses typically have limited storage space because of the shape of the roof. 

Contact your trusted real estate for updates on what unique and interesting properties are available in your area.

House Hunting When You Are In A Time Crunch

House Hunting When You Are In A Time CrunchIn an ideal world, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, that does not always happen. Maybe you are relocating because of a job transfer. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take months to find the perfect home. You can speed up the process of buying a home utilizing some tried and true tips. 

Here are some of the best ways to speed up the house buying process. 

Find An Experienced Real Estate Agent 

An experienced agent likely has an extensive network and many connections. They might know what properties are coming on the market before anyone else does. They can also help you assemble a great team of real estate professionals such as a mortgage banker and real estate attorney. 

Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Obtaining a home loan is a long process that requires a lot of paperwork. You can speed up the process by getting pre-approved before looking for homes. You’ll need to gather some paperwork for pre-approval including bank statements, tax returns and information about your debt. Have all of these things ready when you talk with the mortgage loan officer.

Having a pre-approval letter also demonstrates to sellers that you are serious about buying. They might be more likely to respond quickly to your offer if they feel that the deal will go through. 

Make A List Of Things That You Must Have 

If you are in a hurry to buy a home, you don’t want to waste time looking at houses that won’t meet your needs. So, before doing any online research, make a list of things of your must-have amenities. Zeroing on the things that you must have will help keep you focused on properties that are right for you. 

Search Areas That Have A lot of Inventory 

Don’t waste time looking at communities that don’t have much inventory. The real estate market will be a lot more competitive. Instead, try choosing areas that meet your needs as far as easy access to your work, quality of the school and so forth. Make sure that they have plenty of inventory available. You might have to hunt in surrounding neighborhoods to find something quickly. 

Be Available to Act Quickly 

If you want to close quickly, you must be available to act as soon as an offer is accepted. It is essential to be available anytime to get in touch with your agent, respond to counter-offers and answer questions. Provide your agent with multiple ways to reach you — by phone, email or text. 

Contact your trusted real estate professional today to help you with these tips and many more to make your new home purchase as hassle-free and timely as possible.

Rebuilding Costs: Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really Need

Rebuilding Costs Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really NeedBuying a home comes with numerous financial planning obligations. It’s far from a turn-key operation and one of the significant challenges involves developing a working knowledge about things often outside your area of expertise.

For example, working as an educator, police officer, investment banker or office staffer does not necessarily make you an expert about home repairs or insurance coverage. Yet, the average homeowner is tasked with carrying a certain level of homeowners insurance coverage without a strong working knowledge.

Many homeowners just purchase enough insurance to cover the purchase price or take the advice of others. Both of those methods could prove wildly deficient.

Rethinking Total Replacement Costs

A distinct difference exists between a home’s purchase price, assessed value and total replacement costs. Let that idea sink in a minute. What you paid for your home and it’s assessed value have zero to do with what it would cost to rebuild in the event of a total loss!

If you based your homeowners coverage on purchase price or estimated value, the word that comes to mind is “Yikes.” Here’s why.

Construction costs are based on prevailing market prices that include building materials and labor costs. These vary from region to region and can pique do to materials shortages and shifting prevailing wages. National home-building averages run anywhere from $117 to $125 per square foot. But even as you read this article, that could change.

Beyond the fundamentals of calculating home construction costs on a square-foot basis, consider that rebuilding your home means that some type of catastrophe occurred. Whether that was a hurricane, tornado, flooding, fire or another disaster, there will likely be cleanup costs.

Before starting new construction, the damaged property will likely need to be razed and damaged materials removed. That comes at a cost.

Building permits and licenses will come at an additional cost. An architectural blueprint and design may need to be secured and that also comes at a cost. The permitting process can be challenging and that could result in you having to rent a temporary residence while your home is rebuilt. Obviously, there are plenty of unforeseen expenses.

Specialty Building Costs

Although average building costs per square foot are a viable standard measure, many homes enjoy specialty items.

Consider that you own a home built decades ago. The high-quality building materials used in construction may be considered specialty items today. They may inevitably be far more expensive than common building materials. If you want the home fully restored, that could cost more than the estimated average.

Accents such as rounded archways or plank-board floors are also more expensive to replace than many average materials. Those are all considerations that need to be tallied when insuring a home.

How To Recalculate Homeowners Insurance

Take the time to calculate the square footage of your home against average construction costs in your area. Factor in specialty items, permitting, razing and other potential hidden costs. Add 10-20 percent. According to some insurance experts, the average home is underinsured by upwards of 22 percent. After the carrier has paid out the coverage limit, overages could become out-of-pocket expenses.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a reputable home builder or insurance expert. Full coverage means accurately accounting for all of the rebuilding costs. 

Contact your trusted real estate professional to inquire about current home construction costs, referrals to an insurance agent and more.

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?Are you considering buying a flipped house? Here are some ways to tell if it is a good idea or not.

If you watch popular TV shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, you might believe that buying a remodeled home is a great idea. These shows always have happy endings. The process looks fun and easy, and the houses turn out beautiful. However, it is rarely this easy when buying a real-life remodeled home.

There are plenty of flipped houses that turn out to have significant problems. Contractors who do remodels sometimes rush through the job. This can lead to subpar work. While the house might look beautiful initially, problems could start to show up months later.  

A flipped house can be a great deal. However, it pays to do your homework before buying one. Maintain a skeptical eye when touring the home. If you notice any of these things, move on.

Unpermitted Work

If you live in a full-disclosure state like Texas, you are in luck. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers everything that they know about the house. This should make it easy to get a list of the work that the flipper completed.

Even if you don’t live in a state that requires full disclosure, still ask for a list of work. After you have a list of the upgrades, check for permits. Most larger remodeling projects need a permit.

Avoid a remodeled home that has had unpermitted upgrades. There is a chance that it is not up to code. Aside from being a safety risk, unpermitted work can make it harder to get financing or insurance on a home.

A Flipper With A Bad Reputation

Before making an offer on a rehabbed home, ask who did the work. Learn everything you can about the person or company. Are they known for doing high-quality work?  

Flippers that have solid reputations want happy customers. Most want to avoid legal issues later, which could ruin their reputation and damage their business. So, they will usually ensure that the work is up to standard.

Avoid flippers or contractors that are not well known. Many move on to the next town after the job is over and so don’t care if they leave behind unhappy customers as they won’t be around.

A Failed Inspection

Beautiful hardwood floors, countertops and shiny new kitchen appliances might make a house look like it was just built. However, most flipped houses hide a dark history. Many remodeled homes have had a substantial lack of maintenance and were in a state of significant disrepair before being flipped.

Some contractors cover up problems rather than do the extensive work needed. Therefore, it pays to have the home inspected. A good home inspector will be more likely to spot things that an average homeowner might miss.

Your trusted real estate agent can help you navigate through a sea of new or remodeled properties to find the best fit for you. 

 

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb Appeal

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb AppealIt’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a hot seller’s real estate market. That means that good homes are going fast, usually at or above list price. This is largely the result of low inventory, where good homes are scarce, keeping competition for them – and listing prices – high.

Bottom line: If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, there’s no time like the present. But before you put your home on the market, it pays to put some work into it to make it more attractive to potential buyers – and while it’s the interior that often leads to the eventual offer, it’s the exterior that first has to hook the potential buyer and capture their interest.

With that said, here’s a look at five simple, inexpensive ways you can boost your home’s curb appeal:

Paint The Front Door

Being that the front door is often the first thing that people see when accessing your property, painting it in a bold color can really help make it stand out. Just be sure that the color complements the house facade and doesn’t clash with it.

Pressure Wash Your Siding/Brick

Siding, especially siding that is light in color, can get dirty over time. What’s more is that it can often bleed its color onto any brick that is located below it. The good news is that for about $50 you can rent a pressure washer and give your siding and brick a good thorough cleaning. You may be surprised at how nice it looks afterwards.

Upgrade Your Mailbox

While the mailbox may seem like a big project, you can actually purchase a nice new one for only about $20. So if your home’s current mailbox is rusted, dented or just doesn’t complement the overall look of the house, buying and installing a new one certainly won’t break the bank.

Flower Boxes

Is your front porch a little bland and in need of some color? If so, then flower boxes are a great way to do it. Put these in the windows or along the bottom of the front porch, and be sure to pick out some flowers that really pack some oomph when it comes to noticing and appreciating the house.

New House Numbers

A nice house number won’t just make it easier for potential buyers to find your home, but if it’s done the right way it can greatly enhance its exterior. There are many different finishes and styles you can choose from for this, and they’re all fairly inexpensive.

For more information on some affordable ways to give your home a boost in curb appeal, contact your real estate agent today.

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage ReadyAre you selling your home? If so, then don’t forget to stage this vital area of your house.

The garage is often the last thing on seller’s minds when it comes to home staging. It is prudent to make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are perfect for showings. Make sure that you don’t neglect your garage when getting your home ready to sell.

A good-looking garage can be a great selling point. Has your garage become a greasy, junk-filled space that you don’t like to visit? If so, then buyers won’t want to see it either. Fortunately, it is easy to get your garage in top shape before your showings. Up the appeal of your garage with these easy tricks.

Get Rid Clutter

The first step to getting your garage in tip-top shape is to remove all of the clutter. The garage often becomes a storage place for random things. Purge everything that you don’t need. Getting rid of junk can help make moving easier and more comfortable, as well. Divide your stuff into piles: trash, donate and keep. Get rid of all garbage. Recycle broken items. You can give things that you don’t need anymore to Goodwill or another charity.

Organize

Buyers love organized homes, and this goes for the garage too. Organizing your garage can also help make your move easier. Install a pegboard on your wall. Pegboards are inexpensive, and they can make a garage look neat and clean. You can use ceiling space to hang items. Ceiling-mounted racks are easy to install and not too pricey. Buyers will appreciate the extra storage space as well.

Paint the Floor

Is your garage floor stained with rust or oil? A dirty garage floor can turn buyers off. You can brighten up your garage and make the concrete look brand new with a couple of coats of epoxy garage floor paint. It isn’t very costly or time-consuming to refinish your garage floor. This is a project that most people can do in a spare weekend.

Add Light

Most garages don’t have windows. As a result, they tend to be dark and dreary. The first step in adding light to your garage is to replace any light bulbs that aren’t working. If your garage still looks dark, consider installing additional lighting. You can replace your standard bulb with a multi-directional LED fixture if you only have one lighting fixture in your garage. These are kind of pricey but they don’t require expensive rewiring. They simply screw into your existing socket and offer about four times more lighting compared to a traditional 60-watt bulb.  

Contact your trusted real estate agent for more valuable tips like these to get your home market-ready in no time.