Exterior Updates to Boost Resale Value

Front Yard

One of the best tools in a seller’s arsenal is curb appeal. The outside of a home or property is one of the first things a buyer sees, and while many times it’s not on the outside that counts, when it comes to real estate, the outside of a home plays a huge part of whether a buyer is going to want to take a look inside.

If a property can catch a buyer’s eye from the get go, then probability that the buyer will want to look inside exponentially grows. If you’ve put your property on the market and are not attracting the number of potential buyers you’d like, or you’re considering putting your property on the market and would like to give it a step above the other options on the market, consider these exterior home updates to help attract more buyers and help the resale value of your home or property.

Landscape
Unless your home or property is in an urban environment, say the middle of the city, it’s highly likely you have some kind of yard or landscape. While not all homeowners enjoy working in the yard, a front yard or outdoor area makes a huge first impression on house hunters. Not to mention that 92 percent of home buyers now begin their search online, looking at pictures of homes, so showcasing the front of your home by landscaping or adding natural elements will undoubtedly help attract buyers and overall add to the total value of the home.

Update Paint
Paint colors can make or break a house sale. If your property is on the market, or you’re thinking of selling, consider adding a new coat of paint to help add value to your property. Depending on the size of your home, painting the exterior of a home can go for one thousand dollars and up, but the average return on the investment is about ninety percent. If your budget is tight and can’t accommodate new paint, consider renting or buying a pressure washer and washing down the sides of your home. Pressure washing is not only more affordable, but it can also bring new life to a tired exterior paint job.

Replace Front Door
The front door of a home says a lot about a property and even about the seller. A high quality front door will not only stand out in pictures but also appeal to any buyers who might drive by the property. If your front door could use a facelift, consider investing in a wood or fiberglass door. Both types have a high-end look and feel and can help to boost the resale value; but if your budget doesn’t have the room for a brand new door, replacing the door hardware and adding a new coat of paint can help invigorate a tired door and still catch the attention of potential buyers.

Install New Windows
Windows can tell a buyer a lot about the property. If your home’s windows are older (single-pane), leaking or seals are broken (there is noticeable moisture between the panes), broken or otherwise not in the best condition, and it’s in your budget, consider installing new windows before you put your home on the market. Many windows are now created to be energy efficient, saving homeowners money every year through energy savings, and the average return on investment is ninety percent. Not only do buyers like the idea of having new windows in a home, but replacing any windows will no doubt boost the resale value of a property.

Updating Siding
Not every home or property suffers from old or bad siding, but siding is another item that immediately pops out to buyers. Many older homes have vertical siding, and while there is nothing wrong with vertical siding, some buyers will be turned off by it. A great way of increasing a home’s resale value is to consider replacing siding – the national average for return on investment for updating the fiber-cement siding is almost eighty-five percent. If your budget can’t take new siding for the entire home, but you want to change your vertical siding, consider adding new siding to the front of the house. While it’s not a total redo, the majority of buyers will be attracted to the new siding, and it will add to the overall resale value of the home.

Updates, Renovations and Remodels

When selling a home or property, one of the main goals of the seller is to get the highest offer possible. If the market is hot, the chance of getting a higher offer is relatively high. If the market is on the cooler side, many sellers look to alternative options to make their properties more marketable, usually by way of a remodel, a renovation or updating the property. But what is the difference between a remodel and a renovation? Is an update something that’s easy or difficult?

While there are no doubt projects that see better return on investment than others, homeowners have a number of options when it comes to boosting their property’s value. If you’re not particularly ready to put your property on the real estate market, but are looking for ways to help boost your home’s overall value, an update, a renovation or a remodel might be just what you’re looking for at the current time.

Updates
Want to help boost your home’s value but have a limited budget for projects? Updates are a great option for the homeowner that has limited resources, funds or even time. But what’s an update? An update essentially brings new life to your property, and perhaps brings things up-to-date, but it does so without significant alterations to the existing structure or property. Updates that are common in many households are updating light fixtures, installing new appliances, updating the home to be more energy efficient, updating exterior paint and changing interior colors, etc.

Depending on your budget, updates shouldn’t break the bank, but they can help to boost a property’s value or overall marketability. Buyers like seeing updates, especially when they help boost the overall appearance of the home. Updates are a great and relatively convenient way of sprucing up a home without dedicating a huge amount of time and money to projects, and even minor updates can help boost a property’s overall value. Even just repainting the exterior trim can make a big difference.

Renovations
Renovation means to restore to a good condition or make new again. Renovating a property or a part of a property refreshes and revives it. Renovating can cover a number of different thing: renovating plumbing or electrical throughout a home or property, refinishing hardwood floors, re-facing kitchen cabinets, adding modern finishes and fixes to an older home. Renovating a property generally means that you’re making the property meet current market expectations. Renovations, especially of certain rooms, can make spaces much more attractive to buyers but also add considerable value. Kitchens are one of the best options for a renovation when it comes to overall return on investment.

If you’re looking to help boost the overall value of your property, adding stainless steel appliances to a kitchen (or even updating to newer appliances), putting in granite or other stone counter tops, changing outdated cabinet doors and hardware can all help boost a property’s value and catch a potential buyer’s eye. Depending on the number of projects you’d like to tackle, renovations can be relatively quick or take time and cost a few dollars. Again, your budget and time frame will determine the scope of your project, but renovations can add considerable value to your property and provide a large return on investment when it comes time to sell.

Remodels
Remodels require a little more time, labor and funding, and more often than not remodels involve removing or moving walls, building additions or anything that includes significant structural changes to increase utility or appeal via replacement or expansion. A remodel changes to use of a space by altering the structure and the style of a home. Popular remodels include kitchens, bathrooms and even going so far as to add additional square feet to the entire house. Because of how extensive a remodel can be, it’s always suggested that permits are obtains for the work and that an architect and/or contractor is used to make sure any work is done according to current local building codes.

Remodels that help improve a space can increase a property’s value immensely, and in some hot real estate markets could even see a 100 percent return on investment. Some of the most popular remodels home buyers seek: kitchens, bathrooms, and additional square footage (adding rooms) as they show the homeowners invested in the property and took the time to improve it for the future.

Updating a home or property, or choosing to renovate or remodel, is a big decision and ultimately depends on how much time, effort money and sweat a seller wants to put into the task. But if you’re on the fence of whether or not your property could fetch the highest selling price in today’s market, considering an update, a renovation or a remodel might be the top of every buyer’s list.

Tax Assessment Appeal Notice!

Hello! I hope summer has been great for you so far.

With summer comes the time in Berks County when you can appeal the assessment on your homeĀ if you think it is too high. I know we all think our taxes are too high, but I am happy to speak with you about it and let you know my opinion on whether you have a case or not.

The appeal period runs from 7/1 through 8/15 in Berks County so don’t wait, get your form completed today! Call or email me and we can take a look at your assessment together. Below is the link for information on tax assessment appeals and the second link will direct you to the page to download the appeal form. The county charges $25 for most properties.

http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Assessment/Pages/AssessmentAppealNotice.aspx

http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Dept/Assessment/Documents/revised_appeal_form.pdf

I also recorded a step by step video on the appeal process.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL-FNaQ6kFw

Remember there is no cost for me to help you with this! I offer to help my current clients, past clients and their friends and families with this service in order to build good will and provide excellent service! I have helped a lot of people save thousands of dollars if the assessment is too high.

Give us a call at (610) 334-0294, we are here ready to help you!

 

Appraisals and Home Inspections

When buying or selling a home, many have heard of an appraisal and a home inspection. While both are very important to the entire transaction, an appraisal and home inspection are two very different things. If you’re looking at buying a new home or property, or you’re interested in selling your current property, it is beneficial for both parties to know the difference between the two and why they are important.

 

What is a home appraisal?

A home appraisal is an educated guess as to the worth of the property.

An appraisal is required by a financial institution; if you’re looking to get a mortgage loan, the property will have to have an appraisal. If a mortgage loan is not needed (the buyer is paying with cash), then an appraisal is not required for the purchase. Who pays for the appraisal? As part of the final contract, the appraisal can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller, but traditionally the buyer pays for the appraisal.

But why is an appraisal needed?

An appraisal lets the bank or lender know what the loan collateral will be set at for a worst-case scenario situation. What does this mean? The bank wants the home to appraise for a similar amount they are going to loan to the buyer. Should anything happen, and the bank has to sell the home, the bank doesn’t want to be stuck with a home that had a million-dollar loan on it but can only be sold for $100,000.

Appraisals are important, but they can be a tad stressful. The appraisal is done after the sale price is negotiated and the contract has been signed, which is why many people hope the appraisal is close to the sale price negotiated by the buyer and seller. To protect the transaction for both sides, the buyer and seller should have a sales-and-purchase agreement that addresses the possibility of the appraisal being below the purchase price. This would allow the buyer to terminate the contract or negotiate the sale price. If not, the buyer could be obligated to cover the difference between the purchase price and the appraisal.

What does an appraiser do?

The appraiser will walk around the property and look at the value of the home, but she or he will also make note of any problems or issues. It has happened that an appraiser has pointed out things to be fixed in order for an appraisal to come back higher. Appraisers mainly look to check the main characteristics of the house; square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms, the overall condition of the property, recently sold comparable properties in the area and any noticeable health or safety issues. Appraisals are not an in and out thing – they can take up to a couple days to complete, and loan underwriters can request more information than in previous years. As a seller, the number one thing you can do to help the appraisal process is to make sure the house or property is in good order.

While an appraisal determines the value of the property based on an inspection done for the loan company, an appraisal is not a home inspection. The appraisal for the mortgage lender; the home inspection is primarily for the buyer.

 

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is the inspection of the physical condition of a home or property. A home inspector is going to look for defects or malfunctions in the property’s structure, systems and physical components (which can be anything from the roof and plumbing to the HVAC system, floors, windows and foundation). A home inspection generally takes place after the seller and buyer have signed the contract. The home inspection can help guide any repairs that might need to be done to the property, or it can alter the final selling price if major repairs need to be done to the property. Sellers can sell their properties “As Is,” and any home inspection done will simply be a way for the buyer to know what to expect once they receive the keys.

Who is responsible for the home inspection?

The buyer generally arranges and schedules the inspection; your agent or Realtor will most likely be able to suggest a home inspector she or he has worked with in the past, but it’s important to make sure the inspector has experience and is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. But the most crucial part of the home inspection is to provide a thorough and tough inspection of property to the buyer.

When buying or selling a home, it’s important to know and be aware of all that is available to buyers and sellers. While the appraisal is done for the benefit of the lender, the appraisal also benefits both the buyer and seller by determining a value of the property. The home inspection is done for the benefit of the buyer, but it’s also a good indication for the seller about the property and any issues that might need to be addressed should the buyer drop out of the transaction. Both an appraisal and home inspection are valuable and important parts of the property transaction.

Finances and Buying a Home

Home ownership has always been a top dream for millions of Americans, and with the many television shows, magazines and other media geared towards owning a home in the U.S., buying a home is very much a reality in our country.

While we can get caught up in the very fun aspect of looking at homes, browsing the many websites dedicated to real estate, looking for a home or property is just one aspect in the entire home buying process. One part, of which is fairly important and might be casually looked over at the beginning, is that of getting one’s finances in order to begin a home search. Finances are a huge part of buying, especially if you’ll be applying for a mortgage loan. To put yourself in a great position before you begin your home or property search, use the tips below regarding credit, a home budget and having cash for a down payment and closing costs to help ensure you have your bases covered before you begin your property search.

Credit

One of the most important aspects of your finances when it comes to buying a home, or even in general, is your credit. Your credit is your ability to obtain goods or services before payment. Credit, when it comes to home ownership, generally means a mortgage loan. The majority of buyers in the United States will have to obtain a mortgage loan in order to purchase a home or property, and that’s ok. Mortgage loans have been around for decades, helping buyers who might not have a cash payment be able to afford a home. If you are one of the thousands of home buyers that will need to look into a mortgage loan, getting your credit in order before looking at homes is an excellent step to take in getting your finances in order.

Your credit is made up of your credit score and your credit report. A credit score is a three digit number that is generated based on what is in your credit report, and it basically tells banks and other lenders what your creditworthiness is. In general, a higher credit score means better creditworthiness. Your credit report is a detailed report of your credit history, and the information is used to generate your credit score.

When most people consider buying a property, one of the first things that’s suggested is to get one’s credit in order. This can mean a number of things, but it includes running a credit report, checking a credit score, and paying off or paying down any debts that might be outstanding in order to have a better credit score and higher creditworthiness. If you’re looking at buying, run your credit report to make sure it’s current, up-to-date and that there’s nothing ‘off’ on the report. You want to make sure all the information that’s listed is true and only pertains to you.

 

Budget

We all can get wrapped up in the fun and excitement of property searches, and many times our wants and likes go beyond what our budgets can afford. Once you have your credit in check, the next thing to do is determine your budget. The best advice to heed when thinking about a budget: you want to be financially comfortable. You already know your monthly expenses as a non-homeowner, but if you don’t dedicate some time to sitting down and writing out all your monthly expenses to get an idea of how much you or your household spends each month. Compare this number to the amount of money you bring in each month If you’re already renting, you know how much of your incomes goes towards your rent, renters insurance, and any other expenses that come along with your rental unit.

If you don’t rent, once you have all of your spending written out, you’ll have a good understanding of how much you have left each month that can go towards a mortgage payment or towards a down payment. An excellent tool that can be found on the internet is a Home Affordability Calculator – this helps to determine a comfortable mortgage payment based on all of the other recurring expenses a household might have.

 

Cash for Down Payment and Closing Costs

Another part of finances when it comes to buying a home or property is a down payment and closing costs. You’ve made sure your credit is in order; you’ve figured out a comfortable budget for a monthly home payment; now is the time to set some cash aside. A down payment is generally required when taking out a mortgage loan. Most lenders require a down payment and it goes towards the total amount of the mortgage loan. Your down payment is going to be based off the type of mortgage loan you get – which, percentage wise, can range all the way up to 20% of the total purchase price. There is no limit to the down payment, as you can pay as much as possible toward it, but for the majority of home buyers the down payment will be anywhere up to 20% of the final price.

Another cash expense of home buying is closing costs. Closing costs are fees that are associated with the closing of a real estate transaction, and they are paid either by the buyer seller, or both parties together. The costs are based on the type of property that is purchased, the location of the property, and a number of other things, but for the most part closing costs can range anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Closing costs, just like a down payment, are made in cash, and sometimes buyers can negotiate for a seller to cover closing costs. To be on the safe side, have enough cash set aside to cover both a down payment and closing costs when buying a home or property.

Buying a home is an exciting life event, but it’s also a large financial event. Before you begin your home search, have all of your bases covered when it comes to finances and the home search will be much more rewarding and less stressful in the long run.

Accessorize It

If your home decor seems stuck in a rut, updating your accessories can bring more spice to your living space. When accessorizing your home, follow these simple tips and tricks from HGTV and HouseBeautiful.com.

  • Highlight a few favorite accessories at one time. While it’s fun to collect different styles of pillows, artwork and collectibles, displaying them all at one time can overwhelm the room. Try showing only 20 percent of your prized accessories at a given time and change them regularly throughout the year.
  • Highlight a focal point in the room. Perhaps you have a uniquely designed fireplace or mantel or a treasured area rug that you want to showcase. Select a piece of artwork to complement the rug, or display a few photographs of your favorite figurines along the mantel.
  • Chose a color scheme and theme. Before buying accessories, decide on one or two colors that will add visual interest to each room and complement your furniture and wall colors. If your furniture and walls are neutral, choose bold colors for your accessories to create a vibrant look. Accessories can also play up a theme of a room.
  • Group similar items. To create a consistent, balanced look, display accessories in small groupings. Some designers work by the rule of three. For example, a trip of matching mirrors lined up on the wall with a contrasting background can provide a dramatic focal point.
  • Light up your space. Create instant impact by choosing light fixtures that complement the design style of the room. To create a certain mood, use wall sconces, and extravagant chandelier or recessed lighting.

With the right accessories, your home can go from stale to stunning in no time.

Rental Patience

Homeowners who need to move but are struggling to sell their homes are turning to rent-to-own agreements to find prospective buyers. Under these leasing options, which can last from two to five years, owners allow a prospective buyer to move into the home and pay monthly rent. A portion of the rent is set aside to be used as a down payment on the house at a later date.

Financial experts at Bankrate.com say credit-challenged renters have the chance to try out the house and neighborhood, while saving for a down payment and building up good credit. They can also lock in a sales prices and terms upfront.

The set-up helps homeowners find an eager buyer and long-term renter who can provide a steady income while caring for the house on the owners behalf. The downside is the possibility that the renter could change their mind and opt out of the agreement, which means the owner must start the process over again.

Rent-to-own arrangements are complex and every state has its own regulations, so it’s advisable for renters to meet with an attorney and real estate agent to understand financial implications. Renters should also meet with a mortgage broker so they know how much they need to qualify for a loan.

Financial experts say both parties should treat the deal the same way as a home purchase. Obtain an appraisal and a home inspection, and owners should require a security deposit and reserve the right to evict renters if they fail to make payments. The contract should also spell out how funds will be held by owners, under what conditions the sale will take place, and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

With proper planning and due diligence, rent-to-own arrangements can be a viable option for buyers and sellers.

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