At last some hope for American homeowners: A week ago the National Association of Realtors reported that fourth-quarter existing-home sales surged almost 14% over the previous quarter. Still homeowners must be realistic; the median existing single-family home price remains 4.1% below 2008 fourth-quarter levels, according to the same report. The freefall in home prices may be over, but the buyers’ market persists–there’s stiff competition to get a house sold for a good price. In a competitive market sellers need to make every effort for their properties to appear more attractive so they sell for more. In Depth: 10 Ways Get More Money From Your HomeAnd it’s the simple touches–not the big renovations–that often matter the most.Look the Part
Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain, a real estate marketing company in Emeryville, Calif., stresses the importance of subtle yet crucial marketing tactics such as staging, or dressing up your home. “It’s the same thing when you go for a job interview,” he says. “You’re looking at a person–how they dress, how they speak. You’re not looking at their credentials initially.” Last year HomeGain surveyed 1,000 real estate agents to determine which home repairs offer the biggest rewards. After ranking for return on investment, the survey found that cleaning and de-cluttering–including removing personal possessions, polishing woodwork and glass and removing excess furniture–is the most important. Spending $100 to $200 tidying up can increase a home price by $1,500 to $2,000.Putting out fresh flowers, hanging artwork and turning on working fireplaces in the winter all can be equally helpful, but there are exceptions to the rule, Cammarosano says. In some parts of the country, including California, staging seems to matter more than it does in other places, where online presentation might be more important. Like this story? Become a fan of ForbesLife on Facebook and find others like it. Or follow us on Twitter @forbeslife.“Web appeal is the new curb appeal,” says Julie Reynolds, senior director of PR at Realtor.com, which is run by the National Association of Realtors. She recommends making your home stand out online because “the value of a home is what a buyer is willing to pay.” Ads that stand out often include walk-through videos; those that do are clicked on 150% more than those without, she says.Sellers should also think about the type of buyers they have in mind. Targeting families? Make the house look lived-in. Hoping for a young couple to move in? Remind them that kid-friendly parks and other activities are nearby. Renovate with Marketability in Mind
Certain renovations can also add value, but they don’t have to be major overhauls. Jean Nayar, author of the book Staged to Sell (or Keep), which offers simple suggestions to add home value, says installing a new front door is an inexpensive exterior improvement. She also suggests replacing worn-out siding. New fiber-cement siding will generate the best return on investment, but vinyl siding will work for those with smaller budgets. Bill Carter, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, also stresses “piecemeal” renovations. “Without HELOCs [home equity lines of credit], without property values, without lending, without people working, you’re not going to see a big reach for [big renovations] yet,” he says. He suggests upgrading HVAC systems and hot-water heaters, as well as installing double- or triple-paned windows.Outside projects can also add value, depending on geographic location. Particularly in warmer climates, consider adding a new patio or deck. But if you do have the budget for a big renovation, Nayar recommends thinking green. “There is a trend in general to reduce your carbon footprint,” she says. “Consumers are more aware of green living concepts and reducing your energy consumption because of the good that it will do the planet.”For example, creating an attic bedroom is a good way to add space to your home without using more energy. Plus, “you already have the roof and the joists and the walls there, so you can take advantage of costs already spent,” Nayar says.But thinking green doesn’t have to be expensive. She also recommends installing weatherstripping and low-flow faucets as cheap alternatives.Safety First
Pre-sale home inspections have gained traction in the depressed market because buyers are trying anything and everything to outdo one another. With a heavy supply of houses on the resale market, a pre-sale inspection can provide extra assurance that there won’t be any surprises after signing the sale contract. David Tamny, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, admits these inspections may not identify ways to add value, but they can certainly prevent a loss of some.“Because of the do-it-yourself movement, people do things that are unsafe,” he says, citing botched ceiling fan installations and improperly spliced wires as examples. If these problems are not detected when the home is sold, some sale contracts allow buyers to renegotiate prices if inspectors find them after signing. Sellers needing to move quickly, however, should remain focused on the basics, Nayar says–neutral paint jobs and replacing or cleaning carpets. That could be the difference between a signed contract and the for-sale sign remaining on the lawn.
Author:Joni Smith Phone: 972-998-7790 Dated: July 24th 2014 Views: 2,826 About Joni: I have been with Halo Group Realty since January 2014. I received my Real Estate Certification thro...
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