Paint Colors That Will Sell Your Home

It’s a great time to be a seller in the real estate market. If you’re prepping your home to put on the market, the color you paint the exterior and interior is a big deal. If you pick the wrong colors, you may not get a single bid. Fortunately, there are few trending colors on the market as well as some steadfast classics that you can use to make sure your home is attractive, from first impressions to last.

White is a classic color choice, especially for the exterior. In fact, one survey found that 40 percent of buyers preferred a white exterior. That’s because a fresh coat of white paint instantly gives your home a clean, pure appearance. But there are other more subtle benefits, too. White makes your home appear larger than it really is, and also reflects heat, keeping homes cooler and more energy efficient.

If you’re looking for an ultra-safe, ultra-conservative hue, pick something with beige tones. Beige is the most neutral color choice, and it blends well with naturally wooded areas. For some homes, beige might not be the right choice. For example, the ornate architecture often found in Victorian-style homes pairs best with bolder colors, than beige. But beige is perfect for classic and modern architecture.

Earthy Tones
When you consider the interior, choose a standard color scheme in earthy tones like blue, green, brown, and orange. Earthy shades are often muted in tone, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. Textures like wood, stone, and metal also pair well with earthy tones. Perhaps the most popular earthy tone is Coffee, a rich, light brown that can be easily paired with green, red, or white accents in the furniture, trim, or decor.

Cream colors fall into the “neutral” category, and are often the best choice when trying to entice a large number of potential buyers. As one professional home stager put it, “You want to blend in, you don’t want to be the sore thumb on the street.” With cream, you certainly won’t offend anyone and your home will appeal to the widest group of people.

There is growth in demand for homes in blue, particularly colonial blue. This is a bold color choice, but is trendy enough to make your home attractive to many buyers. Rich blue tones can be found even in the most established neighborhoods, so don’t be afraid to try an eye-catching hue, like this one.

Olive, Burgundy
If you’ve followed our rule book, your home is probably a warm beige or light white color. If that’s the case, take the opportunity to spruce up your color scheme with a trendy olive or burgundy for the front door. Front door colors can make a big difference, particularly when every other color has a neutral tone.

Understanding the Real Cost of Home Improvement Projects

Home ImprovementIt can seem simple to begin a home improvement project on an area in your home. If you watch enough TV shows, you may think it will only take a few days and a few thousand dollars to make major changes. However, the facts may be different.

Doing a Complete Home Remodel
While it’s not common for homeowners to do a complete remodel of a house, those who purchase a fixer-upper may find that that is exactly what they have to end up doing. The average cost of a complete remodel is $192,724, and many people end up going over their budget. The issue with cost is that almost all remodels are done by hired contractors.

Swimming Pool
Adding a swimming pool is a dream for many homeowners, and if their property doesn’t come with one, they want to add it. An in-ground pool can be a major expense that doesn’t always bring a good return on investment when it comes to selling your home. You can plan to budget in around $30,000 for an average pool add-in.

One of the most popular areas to update is the kitchen. That’s a good thing because it also adds a lot to the resale value of the property. However, it can also cost quite a bit to update, especially if you add high-end features. The average cost for a remodel is around $25,000, but it can be about half of that for houses that cost less than $300,000.

The bathroom is the most common area in the house to be remodeled and often the most affordable. If you stick with features that are found in the neighborhood, you’re likely to recoup much of the cost when you decide to sell. Expect to spend about $10,000 for a complete bathroom remodel.

Media Room
A media room is usually uncommon for low-cost homes; you expect to see them in homes that are priced over a million dollars and are considered a luxury more than a necessity. However, even with high end electronics and features, it will only cost around $9,500 to renovate a room and convert it into a media room.

Adding or updating a patio is very popular in areas that enjoy beautiful year-round weather. Remodeling a patio may include landscaping the yard as well creating an oasis or entertainment area. The cost of an upgrade or renovation is usually in keeping with the price of the home; properties over $1 million spend more on their patio or deck and outdoor living space.

Renovations are a necessary part of homeownership if you own a property long enough. However, it’s important to fully understand the costs associated with updating and upgrading. You should also be aware of their values when it’s time to sell. Not all updates will retain their value. Knowing the facts allows you to make the right decision on what you can live with and what you can’t live without.

Secrets to the Picture Perfect Lawn

Picture Perfect LawnSpring is here, which means it’s time to get your lawn shipshape and Bristol fashion. But what’s the key to that ultra-soft, kelly green grass? Fortunately, dedicated turf grass scientists have the answers to this problem. Here are science’s best kept secrets for an immaculate lawn.

Mowing Frequently
Notice your neighbor’s weekly habit of mowing his lawn, while yours languishes overgrown for two or more weeks? The habit of frequently mowing your lawn does make the grass greener. The frequent cutting keeps weeds to a minimum and forces the grass to grow thickly, creating a lush blanket.

When You Cut, Don’t Go Too Short
You may be tempted to go for a tightly trimmed lawn – a la golf course management. However, grass that is cut too short actually grows faster and causes you to use more herbicides, water, and other resources to keep the lawn in check. Says Peter Landschoot, professor of turf grass management at Penn State, “The lower you mow, the more herbicides and water you need, and then it becomes an intensive management system.” When you mow, don’t cut any deeper than one-third of the grass’s height.

From Mow to Mulch
After you’ve mowed the lawn, leave the clippings where they fall on the grass. You may be tempted to rake and remove the clippings, but let them become mulch to nourish new growth.

Overwatering your lawn causes roots to grow shallowly and build up into a thatch. Rather than watering every day, water your lawn deeply and less often. Property maintenance experts recommend watering the grass deeply twice a week. Infrequent watering trains the roots to grow deep, making them less vulnerable to disease. The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning hours – between 5 and 8 a.m. If you water during the day when the sun is out, water gets lost through evaporation. Watering at night is another big no-no, since an overnight wet lawn puts your grass at risk of fungal diseases.

Before you start dumping fertilizers onto your lawn, take a sample of your soil to a local testing lab. Lab testing may only cost around $20 or less, but it will help determine the chemical makeup of your soil. Once you know what you have, you’ll be able to determine what fertilizers you need to create a healthy environment for grass seed. Natural fertilizers include dried manure, chicken waste, kelp, bone, and blood meal. You can also start your own compost to use as an organic fertilizer.

Pro Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring Cleaning Tips‘Tis the season for getting your home back in ship-shape form. Here are some professional tips to maximize spring cleaning fever so your home stays fresh and spotless all year long.

Clean the Window Panes

If you don’t have one, it may be worth investing in a squeegee. These long-handled cleaners help you reach upper corners of windows and glass surfaces quickly. Squeegees are also better at removing unsightly fingerprints than a cloth or paper towel.

Wash Blinds

Depending on whether you have wood or aluminum blinds, it’s time to remove the dust and dirt. For wooden blinds, squeeze a few drops of wood cleaner onto a dry sponge to remove dirt. With aluminum blinds, you can wash them outside with a hose and soapy water. Hang the blinds in the sunshine or lay them on a slanted surface to dry.

Multi-Purpose Cleanser: Vinegar

Distilled vinegar is one of the most versatile cleaners, and a gallon under the sink will come in handy year-round. Use a vinegar-water solution to clean stains in the kitchen and bathroom. You can even use vinegar to clean stains and scuff marks on hardwood floors.

Polish Silverware with Baking Soda

Baking soda is another multi-purpose cleanser that’s good to keep around the house. To clean your silverware, mix pure baking soda with water and drop the silver in the solution. You’ll see the tarnish disappear from the silverware.

Curtain Cleaning

If you have curtains in your house, spring is the perfect time to take them down for an annual wash. For velvet, tapestries, brocades, chenille, and interlined curtains, you will need to take them to a dry-cleaning service. Cotton and other textiles can be thrown in your washing machine and dryer. Not cleaning your curtains once a year means they’re more at risk to rot and capture allergens and mold.

Deep Clean Carpets

Similar to curtains and textiles, carpets need a thorough deep cleaning at least once, usually twice, a year. Rent a carpet cleaning machine or hire a carpet cleaning service to get the dirty work done. Also, you should regularly vacuum your carpets – at least once every two weeks – to keep invisible mites and dirt at bay.

Brighten Your Lights

Lamp shades, sconces, globes, bulbs and other miscellaneous parts of your lighting fixtures attract dust and bugs year-round. Take down your light fixtures and wipe them with a cloth dampened in warm water mixed with regular dish soap. Giving your lights their annual clean will make them shine brighter and keep the air cleaner.

Mattress Turnover

Every three or four months you should turn your mattress by flipping it over and switching the foot and head. This helps the mattress maintain its shape and prevents those deep-sinking spots that develop over time. During the mattress turnover, vacuum it on a low setting to remove dirt and dust. If you suffer from indoor allergies, taking proper care to clean your mattress can reduce your symptoms.

How to Plan an Outdoor Room

Outdoor RoomIf you take your outdoor space up a notch and turn it into additional living space, you can add to the value of your home. It’s almost like having extra square footage for your property. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Decide on Size

Your first step is to figure out how much space you need for an outdoor area. This will depend on how you plan to use your outdoor room. It may simply be used for relaxing and enjoying a meal or you may plan to entertain large groups. You will want to consider having a separate area for each activity. For instance, you will need a cooking and eating area, and then a place to relax and have a conversation.

Consider Architecture

When planning for a new space, you want to think about how your home currently looks. This includes the architectural style as well as the colors and patterns of your home. For example, if you live in a Spanish-style house, you will want to add an outdoor space that complements that design. A modern outdoor area may not work well with a traditional or Victorian home. How you design your outdoor room will directly influence the value of your home.

You may also have to consider the landscape of the property when planning for your outdoor room. In addition, it should imitate the design of the interior rooms of your home. A guest should feel like they’re in the same house when they come out into your back yard because the design is cohesive.

Create a View

If you have a beautiful view in your backyard, such as a water feature or an area off in the distance, you will want to plan your design around that view. However, if you don’t have anything special to look at, you can add that dimension with a water feature or beautiful flowerbed, which could easily become an interesting focal point for your outdoor room.

Be Practical

When planning your outdoor area, think about how it will be used in all of the seasons. Shelter, for instance, should be a year-round consideration. This will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space more often. You may want to add electrical outlets for a heater or lighting to spend cool evenings or late nights outside instead of being forced to go in. Make sure you have easy access to water if you plan to cook outside. It should be easily accessible from the house, preferably right from the kitchen or dining area, to make it easier to bring food in and out.

Take your time planning for your outdoor space and don’t sacrifice what you really want for the sake of a budget. It would be better to build your ideal outdoor room in stages as you can afford it and end up with a room that you really like and will use.

As Market Recovers, Home Appreciation Normalizes

Home AppreciationIt has been a crazy time for the housing market these last few years, from prices that were inflated to well beyond their value, to a severe drop where many homes were not worth much at all. After a slow recovery period from the bottom, the housing market is starting to look more normal now.

The latest prediction is that the home prices will increase an average of 3.3 percent each year for the next five years. This is well below the average between 1998 and 2006, when prices increased by about 5 percent each year. Following the housing crash however, prices began to fall and dropped by 30.5 percent up until September 2012.

Getting Back to Normal

After a long period of uncertainty, it’s hard for anyone to know what normal really looks like. However, beginning the end of 2011, prices began to stabilize, and gave hope to homeowners who were planning to sell. From September 2011 to September 2012, house prices increased 3.6 percent. It was during this time that most of the markets being tracked saw an increase in price, where before that it was just 12.5 percent of the markets.

Hope for the Future

According to reports, it is expected that most metropolitan areas that are being tracked will see rising home prices. Medford, Ore., is expected to be the leader with a 9.7 percent increase predicted for next year. However, other cities are still digging their way out of the housing market crisis, with cities like Miami expected to show a loss next year. The reason for this is that foreclosures are expected to continue, which will affect housing prices in that area.

Experts predict that housing price increases will be similar to those seen in 1997, just before the housing market explosion. Other cities that are expected to fare well in the next 12 months include Santa Fe, N.M., with an increase of 8.1 percent; Billings, Mont., with an increase of 5.5 percent; and Syracuse, N.Y., with an increase of 5 percent.

Cities that will continue to show a loss – though not as great as Miami – include Merced, Calif., at 8.3 percent and Riverside, Calif., at 8.6 percent. Warren, Mich., is expected to be second to Miami, with a loss of 9 percent. This demonstrates the fact that while the country overall is continuing to improve, some areas still have a long way to go.

However, the numbers are positive for homeowners and businesses involved in real estate, as cities like Phoenix and Detroit have shown remarkable gains. This is a prime time for anyone looking to buy to get involved in the market. Prices are still extremely affordable, but won’t stay that way forever. In addition, mortgage rates are at historic lows. This combination creates a buyer’s market that will provide a positive impact on many areas of the economy.

“Thank you for all of your advice, patience and hard work”

Dear Linda,

We feel so blessed to have worked with you and to have gotten to know you over the past 7 months! Thank you for all of your advice, patience and hard work in helping us sell and purchase our home. We will forever be grateful!

Andrew, Hallie and Landon

“Your efforts…were outstanding.”

Dear Linda,

Bill and I would like to again thank you and your team for all of your work on the short sale of Hallie’s and Andrew’s condo. Your efforts to encourage the bank to accept the short sale of their condo and subsequent efforts to see that this sale closed before the end of last year were outstanding. I don’t believe either would have happened without your efforts on their behalf.

Likewise, I don’t believe our purchase of the house on Gila Court would have happened without your efforts to encourage the sellers to accept our offer. The fact that this short sale purchase was relatively quick and smooth is also due in large part to your efforts. We realized very early on in the process that we could completely trust you and relied completely on the advice you gave. As out-of-country buyers, it was very reassuring to us to know that you were looking out for our best interests.

On behalf of all of us, thank you for your professional and, at the same time, personal efforts on both of these real estate transactions. I hope you can stop by and see the house some day!

Kind Regards,
Anita P.

Make Your Old Home Look New Again

Old Home NewWorries about your home’s appearance have reached critical mass, and it’s time to do something about it. But repairs on older homes usually end up being more expensive than anticipated. If you’re ready to spruce up your old house in a budget-friendly way, follow these tips, which progress from the least to the most expensive.

A New Coat

A fresh, new coat of paint can do wonders to refresh the look of a home. Consider the case of student housing. In many American college towns, the real estate closest to the university or Downtown sector is often the most coveted – it’s also the area with the oldest homes. For property owners who manage student housing, there is little incentive to push through with massive overhauls on older houses located in the college town sweet spot. A new coat of paint is the most inexpensive way to “fix up” an older home and give it a new layer of cleanliness, just in time for the next batch of tenants.


Another inexpensive way to shake up your old home is to switch out the lighting fixtures. If major furniture replacements and renovations are costly, buy some new lamps and lighting fixtures to replace old sconces or pendants. A new floor lamp or desk lamp could be the perfect accent to make your home cozy rather than cramped. Alternatively, you can search local thrift stores for vintage lamps that match the age and style of your home.

Rearrange the Room

Rejuvenate the common spaces in your home by rearranging the furniture. Try switching that bookshelf in the parlor with a reupholstered wingback chair. Those living in historic or urban residential areas like Manhattan often struggle to arrange furniture in long, narrow rooms. But there are plenty of interior designer maneuvers you can use, like angling furniture and using sofas to close off spaces so that you get rid of the super skinny feeling.

Overhaul Drafty Windows

There’s nothing worse than spending hundreds of dollars on heating only to walk by a window and feel a brisk draft. According to CNN Money, you can expect to pay $1,000 to replace windows with vintage replicas. Rather than spend all that cash, you can opt to spend $100-$200 on a carpenter who can overhaul the windows by improving the hardware, weather-strips, paint, and rails to minimize drafts.

Squeaky Floor Remedies

Everyone in the house knows when you’re creeping downstairs for a midnight snack. Perhaps your partner’s somnambulant habits have woken you in the middle of the night one too many times. Whatever the reason, the annoyance of squeaky floors is undeniable. Luckily, there are several easy ways to secure the floorboards. After locating gaps in the floorboards, you can slide shims between the joist and subfloor, or fill the gaps with constructive adhesive.

Real Estate Trends for 2013

Real Estate TrendsAfter a seven-year downturn, 2013 is expected to be the year of a turnaround, as experts forecast home sales and prices to go up. If you’re wondering whether or not you should buy, sell, or stay put, follow our guide for the biggest real estate trends of the year.

Home Prices to Rise

In April 2012, after receiving the first quarterly sales reports of the year, real estate analytics company Trulia reported that home price depreciation had finally slowed and bottomed out. In fact, throughout 2012, prices actually began to rise in a manner not seen for two years.

For 2013, Trulia heralds more good tidings, with prices expected to rise even further than they did in 2012. “Price gains picked up steam in 2012,” said Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko. “In 2013, rising prices will encourage more new construction and some homeowners to sell, which will help alleviate the current inventory shortage.”

Foreclosures Falling

In Phoenix, Az., one of the hardest hit cities in the housing crash, foreclosures created a bottleneck for home sales. However, experts say that the foreclosure inventory is attenuating. Keller Williams realtor Kelly Cook says foreclosures are quickly moving through the market. “Foreclosures have almost completely fallen off,” Cook says. “They are less than ten percent of the market right now.” Because of the $25 billion federal settlement last year, banks have more incentive to speed up the foreclosure process. As homes auctioned in foreclosure exit the market, local real estate values will rise, and a smaller inventory will fuel greater demand.

Buyer Turnout

Because mortgage rates are at historically low levels and homes are still affordable, buyers are turning out in droves. However, as inventory shores dry up, buyers will struggle to find the perfect home, and they may have to settle for less than they were hoping. “You’re seeing a lot of people having to settle for a house they don’t really want,” Cook says. “That’s because 3 months ago they could have had this, for that, but it’s not available anymore; it’s gone. It’s a thing of the past.”

Rent Hikes

For the past three years, rental fees at major apartment complexes have risen by $155 a month, and experts agree that rents are expected to soar even higher in 2013. The National Association of Realtors projects rents to increase by more than 4 percent on average. Reis, Inc., another market researcher, predicts that rents will rise by 4 percent or more annually until 2015. The increase in rent will be driven by growing demand for rental units, as boomerang kids decide to move out of their parents’ basements for more independence.