Green tips for selling your home

We had a lot of response from our readers on our blog post last Wednesday about DIY improvements. Many of you were interested in learning more about how to make your home or your house for sale more “green”. Well look no further! Here are 9 tips that you can follow to add green to your home and green into your pocket when it comes time to sell!

 

1. Plant trees and shrubs

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2. Replace air filters

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3. Green home staging

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4. Weather strip and caulk doors and windows

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5. Install programmable thermostats

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6. Install low flow shower heads

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7. Use auto turn-off power strips

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8. Install CFL or LED lights

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9. Paint with low VOC paint

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Tips for your Summer Parties

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer. Here are a few tips that you can use this summer for your parties by your pool or deck.

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1. Set a time of when the fun starts and when it will end. If it is a family party, make sure it ends early enough so families with children can get home and get ready for bed.

2. Plan the menu and let guests know ahead of time in case there are any food allergies.

3. Invite your friends who love a last-minute option and ask them to bring a dish. Be sure to you have a good mix of appetizers, salads, sides and desserts.

4. Look for recipes. Here are some fun options for a Memorial Day Party Foods from Taste of Home. You can find others on Food Network or Pinterest and don’t forget those who prefer vegetarian options.

5. Music sets the mood for any festive affair — Get set up with Pandora or pop in some mix CDs to set the mood for a fun summer party.

6. Use paper products for the party. This will allow you to spend more time with your guests and less time washing dishes.

7. Games. If you are opening the event up to the little people in your life or the lives of those you love, find ways to entertain them. Horeshoes, dodgeball, kickball, hide and seek, freeze tag or Simon Says will keep them entertained for hours or at least until the food is ready.

8. Chilling the drinks. Buy a cheap plastic kiddie pool and some ice! It’s the perfect place to ice down soft drinks, juice, Kool-Aid and adult beverages.

9. Decorate!. If you have to buy patriotic items, remember you can reuse them on the Fourth of July! Pinterest has a ton of cute ideas, if you have time and you are feeling crafty.

10. Plan for pests and heat. Let’s face it folks we live in the south, where the state bird should be the mosquito and the sun will bake you to a crisp. Pack a basket with bug repellants, sunscreens and hand sanitizers.

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DIY Improvements $100-$200

We come to Part 2 of our mini-blog series about DIY improvements you can make on a budget to help sell your home and appeal to more buyers. This week we are looking DIY improvements costing between $100-$200.

1. Improve air quality

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It may be as simple as switching out your air filters, but making sure your home doesn’t smell musty or “lived in” is a good tip to have when getting your home ready to show. If you have pets or other odors in your house, consider having a professional clean of your carpets and upholstery done before your next open house.

2. Plant some trees

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Is your back yard bare and worn? Consider making a trip to a tree nursary and picking up some new additions to your backyard. Palm trees and other Florida ferns can cost between $90-$180. Some nursaries offer free delivery and planting. Make sure to ask when you buy your tree. Trees provide nice shade in the hot summers and help the environment.

3. Modernize your ceiling

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You will be hard pressed to find a current buy that WANTS popcorn ceilings. It’s usually the first thing to go when someone renovates an old home. You can buy kits at your local hardware store to help you remove the popcorn ceilings. Or you can call your local handyman and get an estimate. Depending on the size of the room, it shouldn’t break the bank but will definitely be eye catching to buyers.

4. Hardware

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A simple way to show luxury in your home without emptying your piggy bank is to update your hardware and fixtures. Swap out the old facet in the kitchen for a new modern, sleek one. Replace your cabinet hardware with new stainless steel pulls. These small switches can mean the difference between a sale or a flop.

5. Landscape Luxury

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Not many buyers want to walk into a house with dead plants in the front yard. Spend a few hours over the weekend and plant some new, low maintenance plants that will add curb appeal to your house. Bright colors, clean mulch, and modern landscaping will help your listing pop off the page.

Top 10 Home Buying Tips from The American Homeowners Foundation

Looking into buying a home? Here are The Top Ten Home Buyers tips compiled by the American Homeowners Foundation:

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1. Buying A home Is One Of The Best Investments You Can Make! Home equity remains the largest single savings vehicle for most Americans. In addition to the tax incentives of home ownership, and the ability to tap into your home equity if the need arises, buying a home is a wise and prudent investment for most people.

2 It Is Very Important To Buy A Home That Will Go Up In Value.  Slow, steady home appreciation has been the rule over most of the nation’s history, and many real estate investors became quite wealthy in that environment. They did so by very carefully analyzing the appreciation potential of their investment, and they invested for the long term. You should too. Even if you plan on living in your home just a few years, you will want it to have gone up in value when you put it back on the market.

3- Use A Buyers Agent. If you’re going to work with a real estate agent, contract with a buyers agent rather than with a subagent. A buyers agent is paid by you and has a duty to represent your interests, while the subagent is paid by the seller and represents the seller’s interests. The subagent, which has been the traditional relationship between a buyer and an agent, is ethically required to disclose all relevant information (such as the fact that you’ll be willing to raise your offer if necessary) to the seller. Try as you might, it’s difficult to avoid saying things you shouldn’t to a subagent. While you are responsible for paying the buyers agent, the net cost can be zero if you put in your offer that the seller is to pay buyer agent’s commission (which the seller would have had to pay anyway if the offer had come from a subagent). An exception is if you’re buying from a self-seller. They often did not plan on allowing for a real estate commission. In those circumstances you face a subjective decision as to whether a buyers agent’s negotiating skills are sufficiently better than yours to justify the commission you will owe them.

4 Choose Your Agent Wisely. If you are using a real estate agent look for one with experience in working with buyers, with knowledge of the neighborhood(s) you are considering, and who does not have a reputation for being ‘pushy’. The purchase of a home is a serious long term commitment on your part and a good agent will recognize that buyers need time and patience so they can satisfactorily sort out the myriad’s of factors involved in a purchase decision.

5 Current Home Prices Are A Less Important Consideration Than Interest Rates. Try to buy and/or sell when interest rates are low. The amount of mortgage you can afford (and thus the price of the home you will consider) will change as the interest rates rise or fall. A certain asking price may sound expensive to you, but at a lower interest rate you might be able to afford it. You may own several homes over your lifetime, and the factors that will limit or increase the value of the home you will be selling will similarly affect the price of its replacement. Since those factors largely wash each other out, interest rates remain the most important factor.

6- Always Have A Home Inspection Contingency In Your Offer and always hire a professional home inspector to provide you a written report, along with “ball park” estimates or ranges of repair costs. If the inspection turns up problems that weren’t readily noticeable, you can use it and the ball park estimates for negotiating leverage to get the seller to make the repairs or provide you a commensurate price reduction.

7- Learn As Much As Possible About The Seller’s Circumstances. There may be mutually beneficial opportunities. For example if you might face difficulty qualifying for a big enough mortgage, and the seller is worried about college costs for his or her sixth grader, then maybe the seller might be interested in accepting a second trust for part of the purchase price if the interest rate is above what they could otherwise earn and the loan is paid off the summer before the child’s freshman college year. From your perspective the rate will likely be less than you could get from a traditional lender.

8- Research Your Mortgage Options Well Before You Make An Offer. You won’t have enough time in the five days sellers normally allow to get all of your paperwork together, determine the best kind of mortgage, who is offering the best rates etc. Consider getting a contingent letter of approval for a loan, or an actual loan commitment prior to making an offer. The former is not actually a loan commitment, but rather a contingent approval for a loan up to a certain amount. While it has relatively little enforceable value, it nevertheless can impress a seller, who might be more willing to accept a lower offer because of the perceived financial capabilities of the seller. Its also possible to get approved by a lender with a longer term “lock” on the interest rate in order to protect you from subsequent rate increases. While this should substantially increase your negotiating leverage, keep in mind that you pay more directly or indirectly for the longer commitment, either in terms of the rate and/or points.

9- Learn How To Negotiate Like A Pro. There’s more money involved in this negotiation than just about any other area you’ll encounter. Even if you’re using a buyer’s agent, you’re part of the team, and you’ll have to make the ultimate decisions about how much to offer and how much to compromise on a counter offer.

10- STUDY! The tips in this brochure are only the beginning. You’ll need to learn a lot more if you want to get the best possible deal. Read as much as you can on home buying, on negotiating, on neighborhoods in your area that might fit your needs, and on factors that impact long term appreciation like schools, infrastructure, major new business expansions or closing etc. Keep copies of everything you send the lender and everything the lender sends you.

Money Saving Tips for Selling your House

Every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks, we will be posting some DIY tips towards adding value to your house so you get the most for your money when it comes time to sell.

This week, we will be focusing on 5 tips that are under $100 that you can do to help spruce up your home so it appeals to more buyers.

 

1. Paint

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Freshly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. When selecting paint colors, keep in mind that neutrals appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, painter’s tape, drop cloths and brushes.

 

2. Add Energy Efficiency

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It is the age of “Green” and many buyers are looking to cut their future energy costs. Installing new low-flow toilet flushers, switching out all of your light bulbs to smart LEDs, and adding plants to your backyard that don’t need a lot of water will definitely appeal to those buyers looking to stay green. All of these updates can easily be achieved on a budget of under $100.

 

3. Hire an Inspector

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Many buyers will insist on a home inspection, but for less than a $100 you can go ahead and hire one and see what updates need to be made. This will help you fix any future problem ahead of time so that it will not deter any buyers from submitting a contract on your home. It will save you money down the road if you take some time to fix that leaky faucet or patch that ugly crack in the wall.

 

4. New Linens and Pillows

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This sounds like a no-brainer, but pack away your old quilts and tattered pillows. Make a run to your favorite home decor store and stock up on some new pillows and linens. When buyers walk into a house and it feels fresh and clean, you stand a good chance of attracting the right offer.

 

5. CLEAN!

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For just a few dollars spent on cleaning materials, or hire a cleaning crew, spotless floors and dusted ceiling fans will definitely leave a lasting memory for buyers. When potential buyers walk through a property, they do not want to see dust bunnies or roaming dog hair piles. Spend a few minutes everyday wiping down the walls and polishing the hardwood.

 

Next Wednesday we will focus on DIY updates between $100-$200

 

Welcome to the new blog!

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As you may have noticed, Century 21 Metro Lifestyles has gone through quite a bit of cosmetic changes over the past few months. We are almost done, and one of our last things we are working on is the new website! So while we are under construction, we will be using this blog address for the time being. So please update your RSS feeds and your bookmarks so you can stay up to date on home selling and buying tips, featured articles, and other helpful information! Our blog will be updated on Mondays and Wednesdays, so make sure to check back often!