It’s that time of year again where we all make our resolutions for the new year. Hitting the gym more, losing that holiday weight, starting a journal, traveling more and so many more are very popular resolutions you hear from friends and family. But how about some resolutions for your home? Here are some New Year’s resolutions for your home in 2017:
Check your dryer for lint.
Did you know that 15,000 building fires a year are attributed to dryer lint, according to the U.S. Fire Administration? It’s a scary statistic, but the good news is that the danger is easily prevented with simple but regular maintenance. Check and empty the lint screen in your dryer after every load, and if you can access the vents and ducts behind the dryer, remove any lint you find with a cloth, brush or shop-vac every six months. If you can’t get to these areas by yourself, hire a professional service provider (or talk to your landlord if you rent) for help with this crucial step. Lint seems innocent, but is highly combustible. Don’t let it spark trouble for your home!
Have your roof inspected.
We trust our roofs to protect and perform, year after year, and they will if quality materials have been installed and regular inspections are conducted. To prevent unwanted surprises, such as water leaks and missing shingles, have your roof inspected by a licensed professional. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends homeowners have their roof inspected at least twice a year. Roofing contractors have the skills and the knowledge to thoroughly inspect and mitigate any potential issues they find while scaling your roof deck. Plus, they can help you handle minimal repairs before they turn into major problems, a huge money saver! Sherriff-Goslin can help you find a roofing professional in your area — simply click here.
Install a radon gas detector.
Regardless of where you live and what type of home building you live in, you could be at risk from radon gas. This invisible and odorless contaminant is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is formed during the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Radon gas exits the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation — and it can be deadly. But inexpensive and easy-to-install radon detectors are available at home improvement stores, hardware stores and online. Buy and use one in your home to keep you and your family safe from this potential hazard.
You’ve decided to sell your home, but you have some repairs to do. Or maybe you’re wondering if a quick renovation will pay off. You need to know which repairs will bring the best return on your investment.
Simple fixes tend to work in your favor, while extensive makeovers may actually diminish your selling price. You likely won’t get your money back from major home improvements completed right before the house goes on the market. Which projects are worth spending money on and which ones should you leave for the new owners?
Fix It Up
First impressions matter. Potential buyers judge your home before they even walk through the door. As impressive as the interior may be, the exterior is what sets the tone.
Spending money on curb appeal is a good investment. Brightly colored annuals, shrubs and mulch are relatively inexpensive and improve the look of your home. Even bigger-ticket items such as sod (as much as $1,500 for a 5,000-square-foot lawn) and trees (about $200 for a 7-foot Colorado blue spruce) can put a buyer in the mood to pay more.
Replacing the garage door also boosts your curb appeal. You might spend nearly $1,600, but experts estimate that you’d recoup more than 88 percent of your investment at closing.
Next, consider the house. A new door ($200 and up at the home improvement stores) or a fresh coat of paint (less than $20 a gallon) for the existing door can work wonders on buyers. If the house numbers and mailbox (anywhere from $15 to nearly $650) look tired, replace them too.
A fix that doesn’t cost a dime: keeping the walkway swept and clear of debris.
Inside, fix anything that doesn’t work, including leaky faucets, worn or missing door handles or closet doors that are not on track. Outdated plumbing or light fixtures need to go too, as does any wallpaper that’s still hanging around. Also, consider removing popcorn ceilings. At $1 to $2 per square foot, the total price can climb to more than $1,000 pretty fast. But buyers who see popcorn think, “what a lot of work!” and lower their bid accordingly.
A fresh coat of paint on the walls can spruce up the interior. However, stick to basic white. Buyers like neutral, especially if they plan to decorate with their own colors. Wash the window curtains or hang inexpensive new ones.
Other projects to consider:
- New wood floors – the price tag can be more than $5,000, but you’d recoup about 91 percent of the cost. Refinishing existing hardwood (about $2,500) also can be a good investment, though you also could leave the project for the new owners.
- New insulation – it can cost more than $2,000, but about 95 percent of the cost would come back to you.
- New exterior paint – a gallon covers 400 square feet and the higher sales price will more than cover your costs.
Leave It For The Next Guy
Buyer can have very specific tastes, so spending to update major appliances can backfire. Stick with your current appliances and just give them a good cleaning. If carpet on your floors was laid over wood, remove it. Buyers these days are more likely to be impressed with the wood.
Replacing old windows with new energy-efficient ones requires a five-figure investment. Since you won’t be reaping the benefits of lower electricity bills, your return on the project would be negligible. Better to leave this improvement for the buyer.
Other projects better left for the new owners include:
- Full bathroom remodel – updating the fixtures or installing new tile can work in your favor, but a whole new bathroom will set you back big bucks that you’ll never recover.
- Fiberglass front door – while a new door will spiff up the look, a fiberglass version can set you back $1,000 or more and won’t pay off for you at closing.
- Full kitchen remodel – cosmetic updates are fine, but people can be picky about what they want in their kitchen. Install the “wrong” color granite countertop and you could end up losing a good bit of money.
- Adding a pool – in warm-weather states pools are expected, but in cooler climates buyers often see them as more of an expensive hassle than an asset.
Is It Ready To Show?
If your house needs too many costly repairs, consider selling it “as is” – but remember that buyers looking for a fixer-upper will expect a sizable discount to compensate them for the hassle and cost of repairs. Your real estate agent can help you determine what others are asking for fixer-uppers in your area.
What sells your house best is having it “show ready” at all times. You never know when the right buyer will walk through the door and you want to be ready for the opportunity.
If the value is less than your buyers’ offer, they won’t be able to get the funding from their lender and the deal may fall through.
As the homeowner, you want to make sure the home receives the highest appraisal possible, which justifies a higher price on the market. But to get the very best evaluation, you have to prepare for the appraisal.
You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression
Curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal! Part of the appraisal process is to compare your home to recently sold homes in the area that are similar to yours. If the lawns at those homes consist of well-trimmed hedges and edged sidewalks and your yard has weeds in the flowerbed and dandelions blowing in the wind, you are, by comparison, already looking subpar. Plus, if the outside looks bad, the appraiser will undoubtedly have a negative impression going inside.
If making sure the outside of your home looks clean and well taken care of is important, then it almost goes without saying that the inside should too. But an appraisal is about more than just cleaning the dishes and putting away the dirty laundry. A home with new and improved features makes a better impression on the appraiser.
Look around and figure out what small changes will make the biggest impact. The answer typically starts in the kitchen. Replace your old faucet with a fancy new one. You can easily upgrade to a sleek, contemporary faucet for well under $100. Look around again. What other quick fixes can you make? Maybe it’s time to swap out your old electrical outlets for outlets with USB connections, add crown molding and add a backsplash in the kitchen.
Repair, Replace, Repeat
Take inventory of everything that is broken or flat-out missing in your home. Examine your list and highlight anything that would cost more than $500 to fix – these are your priorities.
The appraiser will value your home in $500 increments. Any damage worth $500 or more will count against your home. You have to fix the big issues before the appraiser arrives so that you can receive the highest possible valuation – which means taking care of leaks, broken air conditioners, faulty circuits and every big issue you come across.
The appraisal process is a big deal. To fully be prepared, you have to put in some effort and fix up your home. Not only will your attention to detail make your home more attractive to prospective buyers, but you will get a higher valuation as well. For more useful tips to help you can get the most out of your home, explore SherriffGoslin.com.
After endless searching, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams and are ready to put your current home on the market. A real estate agent will evaluate your home and analyze recent market trends to establish a fair selling price, then include your home on all the popular real estate listing sites.
Once your home is on the open market, the process truly begins. Potential buyers will come and go, so patience is key. Eventually, a prospective buyer will have your home inspected and negotiate a price, which means you are very close to hammering down the sold sign. The only hurdle left is the appraisal.
This is the moment of truth.
A real estate appraisal is the process of having an independent professional examine your home and estimate its value. In other words, the buyer’s lender wants to make sure that the money it is loaning the buyer matches the actual value of the home. If your real estate agent is good, your negotiated price should be close to the appraised price. If your appraisal comes back less than the offer, then your buyer will not be given enough money to close the sale – which could lead to the deal falling through.
The appraisal is one of the most important components in the sales process, yet most people don’t truly understand what it entails. Here’s a quick breakdown of how your home will be appraised.
For The Record
A good starting point for an appraiser is the home’s most recent valuation. What is the last known value of the home? Many homeowners look to real estate listing sites (such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor), but the sites are often misleading. Real estate listing sites are usually not updated by the listing agent. Instead, the data is pulled from various sources that can be unreliable.
County records are a source for some appraisers, but these listings should be cross-referenced as well. County records include tax appraisals, which, unfortunately, some homeowners aren’t completely truthful with. If homeowners add an extra room, which subsequently adds more square footage to their home, they may avoid reporting it to the county so that they can keep their taxes low.
An accurate place to check a home’s value is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Because data is added by real estate agents, who also police one another, the MLS usually provides the most accurate property values. MLS typically has an accurate listing for the square footage, number of rooms and final sales price. The big catch with the MLS is that it provides the sales price, but doesn’t tell you if anyone has any liens on the property. For that, you can go back to the county records.
Bottom line: to find the most accurate value of a home, you have to use multiple resources and merge the data.
To find the true value of a home, compare the subject house to comparable homes in the area. But be careful: county lines can affect your evaluation. Your four-bedroom home may not have the same value as a four-bedroom home in a different county – even if the other home is across the street from yours. Although county lines are invisible to the naked eye, they have a very visible impact on home prices. Each county has its own property taxes, school ratings and dozens of other variables, which make comparisons between homes in different counties unusable.
So What Are Appraisers Looking For?
In addition to comparing recent sales of similar homes in the neighborhood, the appraiser is also evaluating the home and the surrounding area. The school ratings and the quality of the neighborhood will have an impact on your home’s assessment. Inside the home, the appraiser will examine its size, condition, upgrades and unique features.
What Is Your Home Really Worth?
The appraisal can make or break a deal. Without it, your home probably won’t be sold. To make the process as smooth as possible, step into the appraiser’s shoes. Consider your home’s purchase price, evaluate your neighborhood and compare recent listings to determine an accurate estimated value of your home.
You’re ready to give your home an extreme makeover and you are standing at a crossroads with a hammer in hand. Do you complete all of the renovations yourself or leave them in the hands of a professional? You must weigh the risks versus rewards before you drive the first nail or place a call for help. Here are the pros and cons of being your own contractor.
Pros Of Being Your Own Contractor
Pay Yourself: Hiring a contractor can be very expensive. The rate for a contractor is around $77 per hour, which adds up quickly for projects large and small. The money you save by doing the work yourself can be put right back into the job, letting you upgrade your materials or save for your next big project.
Power Of The Internet: If you can dream it, you can probably find it on the internet. The web lets you watch how-to-videos, learn from others’ mistakes and order the supplies you need – all from the comfort of your own home. You may not be an expert, but the internet will allow you to get in touch quickly with someone who is. You can use forums and DIY videos to help figure out potential problems and get timely advice. You can control 100 percent of the project from concept to finished product.
Pure Satisfaction: There’s an emotional appreciation that comes with doing all the work on your own. You will understand completely the time it took and the trials and tribulations associated with completing the job. Not only will you get personal satisfaction, but also props from your family and friends – always a welcome boost to your self-esteem.
Cons Of Being Your Own Contractor
Time Management: You have only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. You have a full-time job and countless of other responsibilities. Will you be able to mix a big project into your schedule? Try to squeeze it in and your small project could end up rivaling the build time of the Sears Tower or Golden Gate Bridge. On the other hand, the last thing you want to do is rush a big project only to have an error cause all of your hard work to come crumbling down. You have to take an honest look at your calendar and schedule your time accordingly.
Quality Control: Sometimes the best option is to leave everything to the professionals. A few hours on YouTube doesn’t quite provide the certification needed to complete every project. Your skills might not measure up to your expectations. One wrong move and you risk damaging your property or yourself. To mitigate any extra risks, a licensed and insured contractor might be the best way to go.
A Stressful Situation: Many home improvement projects are tough. Even easy projects can be stressful. Have you tried putting together something as “simple” as a TV stand? After 45 minutes of work, you have three pieces left over and a leg that wobbles so much you’d be too nervous to set a cup of coffee on the stand. Now take that same skill-set and try to build a deck, rewire the fan or whatever your grand project is. It could turn out to be more nerve-racking than you expect.
Making The Best Decision
It’s time to choose a path. Will you DIY or hire a professional? Consider the project size, cost, time needed for completion and skill level before starting the job. Also keep in mind that some jobs, such as roofing, shouldn’t be attempted except by a trained professional. Be honest with yourself about your abilities, pick your projects wisely and don’t forget to enjoy the process.