Blog :: 02-2017

Popular Curb Appeal Trends for 2017: New Ideas for First Impressions

From RIS Media's housecall...

Posted on Feb 15 2017 - 1:20pm by Megan Wild

curb appealNever underestimate the importance of a pretty face…on your home or a client’s home. A curbside “facelift” is money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own pleasure.

These new ideas and trends should get your creative juices flowing.

Re-Think the Front Door

REALTORS® have long advised that the front door—one of the first things a visitor touches—should look well-kept and attractive. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. No longer feel bound to match your door to the window and shutter hue. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brighter colors.

For just a few more dollars, replace old, corroded hardware—knobs, kickplate, etc. For a professional look, and to save yourself some time and clean-up, install the new hardware after painting.

Replacing the entire door might cost you or your client $500 or more, but if you are bored or unhappy with your plain door or if the door will affect the value of the home, peruse the latest new styles.

If you really want a big change, consider adding an arched doorway, windows on either side or expanding to a double-door. Ironically, one new trend is to go old and ornate.

Light the Way

Some home-building companies scrimp on the porch or entrance-way lighting. If you or your client weren’t involved in the original lighting decisions—or even if you were—over time, glass fixtures become dim from dirt, dead moths or old bulbs.

Cleaning globes and replacing bulbs instantly brings new life to your evening facade. New fixtures are inexpensive and can usually be owner-installed. You will likely be delighted—no pun intended—to discover that advanced lighting technology has gone beyond florescent with the introduction of LED bulbs. LEDs provide more lumens with less power, resulting in brighter entryways while saving on electricity.

The options are nearly limitless for affordable and novel ways to illuminate your home’s front porch or portico.

Install Stone Veneer

For many homes, a major transformation from common, run-of-the-mill appearance to a luxury look is achieved with stone veneer. No doubt about it: stone veneer is an up-and-coming trend for home upgrades. Once installed, stone veneer is nearly indistinguishable from full stonework. The key difference is cost and ease of installation.

Stonework speaks to craftsmanship, and veneer gives your home this expensive look for less. Stone veneer also has advantages beyond cosmetic:

  • It’s rugged and never needs painting.
  • It comes in a wide variety of textures and colors.
  • You can use it for an entire house, a single wall or just the skirting.

You will be pleasantly surprised at how it sets your home apart from others on your street while increasing its value and marketability.


Refinish Sidewalks and Driveways

Just as the upscale look of stone upgrades exterior walls, stone or brick makes a huge improvement to unsightly cracked concrete walks and drives. Different types and shapes of stone can create a variety of patterns, and hiring a professional installer on a complete tear and replace will save time and your back.

If your property’s asphalt or concrete drive is in good condition, bordering it with brick pavers can add a touch of class. Trims can be a do-it-yourself project requiring minimal skill, effort and cost.

Add Color to Landscaping

You’ll want the lawn and hedges manicured. Go further. Green is great, but dots of color lift your yard to a higher level of beauty.

Over the last decade, most cities have upgraded cosmetics, realizing that public street-corners beg for flowers and professional landscaping. Eyes have come to expect more color and design street-side—and in desirable neighborhoods, and that expectation translates over to the look of your curb.

Again, a tiny expenditure equals a major step up. Bulbs, shrubs, borders, fencing and mulch are all things to consider.

Check Your Mailbox

In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore.

Sure, you can spend a pile for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox. But a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price. At the least, meet a local artist who would enjoy crafting something special for you. If you prefer to do it yourself, concrete footing, a post, wood trim, paint and of course, your mailbox, will go far.

On a street where all the mailboxes look the same — and where the houses also may be cookie-cutter—you can set yours apart. That’s the point of all these improvements. Give your house its own attractive identity—and for less than you might expect.







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    What to Expect When Selling a Home in Winter


    Posted on Feb 14 2017 - 12:38pm by Housecall

    By Cary Teller


    While homeowners traditionally wait for spring to list their home—the peak home-shopping season—there are many good reasons to sell in the winter. Buyers shopping in winter usually have more urgency to buy quickly and a recent study even found that sellers net more on average above listing price in winter than spring, even in areas with very cold weather.

    Selling a home in winter can be a bit of a different ball game, though. You can improve your chances of selling quickly and for maximum dollar by knowing what to expect and planning your sale.

    Curb Appeal is a Must

    Drab weather and gray skies make it more important than ever to make your home eye-catching. First impressions count, so help your home stand out from the gloomy environment with simple landscaping and colorful cold weather plants on the front porch. Be sure to address any signs of deferred maintenance by caulking the windows and repairing any damaged window seals which cause condensation.

    Traffic Will Be Lower

    Expect foot traffic to be lower than you may expect during the winter. You will most likely have fewer showings and less traffic at the open house, so it's more important than ever to make a good first impression. The good news is the buyers who are out and looking for a home in the winter tend to be much more serious and motivated to buy than spring shoppers.

    Set the Mood

    As buyers walk into the home, they should immediately have a sense of warmth. You can stage your home carefully with seasonal touches like stacked wood at the fireplace, throw blankets, and cinnamon pine cones, but stay away from decorating for a specific religion, like with a Christmas tree, for example.

    You'll also want to keep your home warm. A good tip if you have a loud HVAC system is cranking up the thermostat a bit higher than normal, then setting the temperature back to the regular setting before you leave. This way, the HVAC system won't kick on while the buyer is present.

    Focus on Heating and Energy Costs

    Winter home buyers pay extra attention to issues related to home maintenance and heating. Make sure your roof, HVAC system, and furnace are inspected and take care of any maintenance issues like replacing your furnace air filters and cleaning out the fireplace.

    Keep in mind many winter buyers also consider heating costs when buying a home, especially if you live in a cold weather area. This may be the ideal time to look into cost-effective upgrades like energy-efficient windows and new insulation to cut your utility bills.

    Stay on Top of Snow Removal

    A unique challenge for home sellers during the winter is dealing with the snow and ice. It's vital that buyers have a clear and safe path into your home, but you also need a plan to keep visitors from tracking a mess throughout the house. Stay on top of snow by shoveling the walkways often and sprinkling the path with sidewalk salt or sand for traction. When it's wet outside, add a rubber mat near the front door for shoes.

    Use Spring Photos

    Marketing photos for your home should be done before the trees lose their leaves and the temperature drops for the best effect. This way, buyers can see what your home will look like in other seasons when the landscaping is green and beautiful. Photos of barren, snow-covered ground and bare trees simply aren't as compelling.

    Bring in More Light

    During the winter, days get shorter and the sun sets earlier. This can make it challenging to show the home to potential buyers if the home is too dark to really see. It's a good idea to install landscape lighting outside if you don't have any and bring in additional lighting in rooms that seem dim.

    While selling in winter may require tweaking your strategy a bit, it can help you attract more serious buyers and even net you more from the sale of your home as long as you know what to expect.


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      Where the Cost of Your Home Inspection Really Goes

      Ever wondered why you need a home inspection?  This article from RIS Media might help.

      Posted on Jan 18 2017 - 10:45am by Housecall
      Where the Cost of Your Home Inspection Really Goes

      By Brooke Chaplan

      Home inspections are most commonly ordered by home buyers before closing on a home, and can also be used by current homeowners who want to learn more about the condition of the property they live in. These home inspection reports are often a dozen pages or more in length, and they contain very detailed information about components that range from the plumbing and electrical system of the home to the foundation, roof and more. However, depending on your location and the size of the home, a property inspection may cost several hundred dollars or more. With closer examination of where this money goes, you will see that this is a fee well worth paying for.

      The Tools and Equipment an Inspector Uses

      Because a property inspector will walk through every room of the home--most will even examine the roof, basement and foundation—a wide range of tools and equipment are needed to complete the task at hand. Common equipment used by all inspectors are flashlights, ladders and screwdrivers. Many will also use electrical testers on each outlet in the home, a thermometer to test the heat level in an oven, moisture testing equipment to look for signs of water leaks and more. If your property inspector conducts additional tests, a mold test kit, an asbestos test kit, a radon test kit and other certified material testing products may also be required.

      The Time and Experience Required

      Each state has different licensing and certification requirements. Some states require a license renewal with continuing education every year or two. The property inspector must pay to maintain and improve his or her level of education as well as to remain licensed and insured to complete the task that you have asked him or her to do. In addition, there is value in an inspector’s time.

      Depending on the size of the home, a typical property inspection may take two to four hours or more to complete. The price you pay for a home inspection will directly relate to how much time he or she spends at the property as well as the types of special services he or she provides.

      Through a home inspection, you can learn about issues that range from mold growth in the home and a cracked foundation to broken support beams in the attic, wiring issues in the walls and even pest infestation. These and other things that are noted in the report can help home buyers make a more informed decision about which property to buy. They can also be used to help current homeowners take steps to improve the condition of their home. With how beneficial a property inspection report is, you can see that the fee for an inspection report is well worthwhile.


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        Sales in the Snow: 5 Home Staging Tips for Wintertime

        Another timely article by RISMedia...Posted on Dec 21 2016 - 11:41am by Housecall

        Sales in the Snow - 5 Home Staging Tips for Wintertime

        By Dixie Somers

        While winter isn't traditionally considered the best time to sell your home, there's no reason you can't get an offer during the colder months with the right staging. In fact, a study found that homes sold faster and for more money in the winter months, even in cold cities like Chicago. Here are five winter home staging tips that can increase your appeal to potential buyers.

        1. Clear the Walkways

        Whether you live in an area with heavy snow all winter or you've had a big storm on a day with several showings scheduled, all areas of the yard should be accessible for buyers. That means not only making sure there's a safe, snow-free path to the front door, but also that paths are cleared to any outdoor areas the buyer will want to view. This means sheds, patios, garages and recreation areas. And while entries can get grimy if your family is in and out with their boots on, this area should be kept spotless and clear of debris.

        2. Let There Be Light

        Although our instinct in winter is to hunker down indoors, put your home in its best light by opening all shades and draperies, as well as turning on all available light sources (including closet lights). The exception? Turn off televisions and computers, which don't necessarily add to the warm glow you're trying to achieve.

        3. Keep It Toasty

        Speaking of a warm glow, your home should project a feeling of warmth to potential buyers when it's cold outside. If you have a fireplace that's in good condition, that's a great place to start. Try setting your thermostat a degree or two higher than usual to give buyers a reason to linger instead of heading back out into the weather. Ask a real estate company whether homebuyers in your area would respond well to layers of soft throws, rugs, pillows and other richly textured fabrics.

        4. Embrace the Holidays

        While REALTORS® usually advise to pack away personal belongings when staging a home to create a clean canvas for buyers, tasteful holiday decorations can help create the warm, family feel you're trying to achieve. Think lush wreaths, a tree with inviting white lights, and candles in the windows for subtle yet powerful emotional appeal.

        5. Don't Ignore the Outdoors

        Although your landscaping won't look as gorgeous as it does in the spring, pots of evergreens can help add some color to your walkways and yard. Always make sure that gutters are cleaned and shrubs are trimmed, too.


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