5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.

5 Walk-Through Surprises and How to Avoid Them

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5 Walk-Through Surprises and How to Avoid Them

A house may look one way when it is decorated and furnished, but once vacated, bumps and bruises may show that could cause a wrench in the closing. Here are five common issues that arise during a walk-through and how to handle them.

The following is a guest post from Cara Ameer, an agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

You’ve survived the inspection and loan approval process. You are almost to the closing table and ready to sign on the dotted line, but before you arrive, there is one last hurdle to climb known as “the walkthrough.” Whether you are a buyer or seller, this process can be nerve-wracking – as a buyer, you may be thinking: Will the house will still look how I thought it did? Will everything be empty and in good condition? And as a seller, you could be worried whether the buyer will be satisfied with what they see, and what if they raise concerns?

First, it is important to understand what a walkthrough is as well as its purpose.

A walkthrough is when a buyer walks through the property either the day prior or on the way to closing to ensure all is in substantially the same condition as it was before.

You may think this is a quick process that should take no more than 10-15 minutes at the most, but it is the buyer’s last look at the house before making what is likely the single largest purchase in their life. They will be closely scrutinizing everything. Additionally, because in all likelihood this is their first time seeing the house completely empty, this could raise some issues not previously seen.

A house may look one way when it is decorated and furnished, but once vacated, bumps and bruises may show that could cause a wrench in the closing. Here are five common issues that arise during a walkthrough and how to handle them:

1. Flooring – discolorations on wood or carpet. This happens as a result of furniture and rug placement over long periods of time, coupled with sunlight that could cause fading or discoloration of the exposed flooring around it. The buyer doesn’t initially see this, as a seller’s belongings are never moved for showings or inspections. Consequently, on a walkthrough of a vacant house, this could result in visibly noticeable variations in the floor finish as well stains, particularly on carpet. As a seller, you may have forgotten about some stains that are on the carpet where furniture and/or area rugs have sat on top of it for years.

flooring

Before putting your house on the market, check any areas of your home that have had furniture and/or rugs sitting on top of floor surfaces. If there is discoloration, consult with a wood flooring specialist on how to address, call in carpet cleaners or consider possibly replacing/repairing the flooring in question before going on the market. Note any issues upfront to establish condition at the time the home goes on the market to a buyer and on a seller’s disclosure so as to avoid any surprises later on.

leftovers

2. Walls — Once the artwork and flat screen TVs comes down, the walls are often left with nail holes, brackets and possibly discoloration where objects were previously hung. While it may seem premature when an offer is received to even think about dismantling the house, discuss with your agent a plan for “spackle management” when finalizing contract terms. Better to deal with this upfront vs. trying to figure out what to do right before closing because nothing was mentioned in the contract. Setting realistic expectations at the outset as to what you as a seller will do, such as spackling, will hopefully avoid a buyer’s request for you to repaint walls entirely. It may be that the buyer likes the existing placement for artwork and your television and will want these areas left as you had them.

3. Leftovers – While these are always appreciated after a good Sunday dinner, your left over house stuff is not always wanted or needed by the buyer of your home. Moving always brings a “don’t know what to do with pile.” It may be a stray chair, file cabinet, old lawn hose or other various odds and ends. Don’t assume the new owner will be glad to have these items. Check with the buyer first, if they don’t want them, play it safe and have them removed BEFORE the final walkthrough.

4. Garbage – Speaking of removal, don’t leave garbage cans full of trash for the new owner to take out. The buyer has enough to deal with as far as coordinating movers, getting utilities turned on, waiting for the cable guy and all that goes along with setting up a new home. This is usually a surprise not discovered until the walkthrough or their first trip to the house as the new owner. A pile of trash either in the garage or on the driveway is not a closing gift that should be left behind.

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5. Mover Damage – With a moving crew transporting furniture and boxes out of your house, the opportunity exists for unintended damage to occur. Drywall dings, nicks, scratches or gauges can be left, often not discovered until a buyer does their walkthrough, or of course right after they go to the house after closing. Once the movers are finished, do your own “move-out” walkthrough with them to check for any damage. Discuss with your movers ahead of time the plan for handling any damage and have a trusted repair person on standby to take care of any issues should they occur.

5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall

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5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall

Wow fall homebuyers with these easy staging ideas from HomeAdvisor

Selling your home in the fall means adding small seasonal elements to make your home feel warm and welcoming. And, what better place to do that than in the kitchen? Here are some ideas to help you make your kitchen — and your home — appeal to fall homebuyers:

Fall counter decor

You should always keep the countertops nearly clear when potential homebuyers are walking through. In fact, you should keep it down to about two to three essentials if you’re living there from day to day. For the fall season, you can add small elements like placemats, fruit and leaf decor (window drapings, vase, etc.).

“Fall odors”

The smell of leaves, apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon evoke the cozy feelings of fall. Candles are nice and actually baking something “fall-like” before a showing is a sure way to make potential buyers feel more at home during a showing.

Colors of fall

Depending on the current condition of your home, you might consider a fresh coat of paint. What color you decide to use may or may not be influenced by the season. While you should always lean towards neutral colors, you might consider accent walls or cabinets in browns or dark tones of red or green if you think they would work. The cost to paint an interior room is about $380, though prices will vary depending on the size of the room.

Bringing nature in

If there are windows in the kitchen, make sure to keep them clean. Depending on the weather outside during a showing, you might open them and let the fresh air in. It helps to create a flow between nature outside and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in the kitchen. If your budget allows, you might also accent the windows with fall-like window treatments to create an even easier flow. If you don’t have these treatments, a professional home stager can sometimes find them for a reasonable price.

Natural lighting elements

Lighting is an essential element of home staging, no matter the season. In fall, in particular, it’s all about enhancing the twilight or sunset and complementing of all the fall colors. For lighting in your kitchen, consider accent and track lighting. Or, you could install recessed lighting on a dimmer switch, which will allow you to control the brightness of the kitchen to complement the mood outside.

10 Home Decor Accessories Worth Buying for Fall and Beyond

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10 Home Decor Accessories Worth Buying for Fall and Beyond

These 10 versatile pieces make great building blocks for a cozy and festive seasonal look.

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Houzz contributer, Laura Gaskill

Tweaking your decor each season can be a great way to keep your home feeling current and satisfy your urge to nest, without blowing your budget on big-ticket items. The problem? Each year retailers roll out tons of new seasonally inspired decor that begs to be brought home — and loading up on too much season-specific stuff is a sure way to blow your budget and overstuff your storage.

To strike the right balance, aim to build up an arsenal of go-to pieces that feel special yet can work in several different ways throughout the year, then use free and found natural objects, and inexpensive seasonal produce, to round out the different looks. The following 10 versatile pieces make great building blocks for a cozy and festive seasonal look.

1. Shiny gold stools. They can be used as seats or side tables; they are small, portable and easily stashed; and they fancy up any room. Gold looks especially festive, feels rich in fall and winter and has a sunshiny quality that makes it work in summer to boot — what more could you ask for?

South Charlotte House Family Room

2. Amber glass vessels. Vintage or new glass bottles with an amber hue look beautiful in a sunny window, lined up on a mantel or perched on a console. Clear apothecary jars are useful to have on hand too, but the great thing about colored glass containers is that they look beautiful even when empty. Of course, they look splendid filled with fall leaves or flowers, too.

Laura Zindel

3. A faux-fur throw. It’s warm and cozy, and makes any seat or bed you toss it on look incredibly luxurious. Spend enough to get a faux fur that feels really plush and has a natural-looking color; cheaper versions will fall apart over time, but a good one will hold up for many years.

Mill Valley, CA

4. Colorful accent dishes. Build a stable of solid-hued workhorse dishes in white, plus some in one or two accent colors so you can change things up. A good rule of thumb is to stick with white dinner plates but bring in fun colors and patterns with the serving pieces, bowls and salad and dessert plates.

Orange is a good hue for all of fall, from Halloween to Thanksgiving, while mint green and yellow work from spring through summer. Metallics work year-round but look especially festive around the holidays.

Fall Decor

5. Gleaming accessories. Gold and silver objects are a natural choice (see the shiny gold stools above), but the shades in between are even more versatile — think shimmering platinum, bronze and rose gold.

These subtly shimmery hues fit right in with fall leaves and acorns, look glamorous around the holidays and echo the sheen of seashells in summer. Try them with a cluster of vases, candlesticks, bowls or trays.

Willow Glen Residence

6. Fresh artwork. Your home has a finite number of walls, but does that mean you must limit yourself to the same artwork year-round? No way!

Pick up fresh artwork as you find it, without worrying if you currently have a place to hang it. At the beginning of each new season, you can simply swap out art on a few walls for a completely different look.

Parkway Kitchen

7. A tall container for branches. Having a really tall cylinder vase on hand is essential for filling with colorful foliage in the fall and budding branches in the spring, You may want to pick up a few of these — a shorter version, like the one shown here, is perfect for a tabletop; a taller vessel can be placed on the floor.

Laight Street Loft

8. Fluffy towels. A set of fresh bath towels in a seasonal palette you love is a relatively inexpensive treat, and will make a huge difference in the way your bathroom looks and feels. Try mixing and matching a solid hue with a fun pattern, as shown here. Bonus: Rotating at least some of your bath and hand towels seasonally can help reduce wear, so they’ll stay fluffy longer.

Farm Fresh Interior

9. Pillow covers. Once you have built up a nice stash of pillow covers that fit the inserts for your sofa and bed, it’s easy to give your rooms a quick makeover. Keep an eye out for sales throughout the year to find the best deal. Here are a few ideas for not-strictly-seasonal pillow covers to consider adding to your stash:

  • Burlap feed sack: great for a rustic fall and winter look, but can be used year-round
  • Sparkly, metallic hues: perfect for a festive feel
  • Velvet in rich jewel tones: for cold fall and winter nights
  • Golden yellow: can be mixed with seasonal oranges and reds in the fall, but also feels fresh in spring and summer.
Basement Development

10. Small rugs. If you have basic natural-fiber rugs or neutral carpeting, one great way to create a new look in the fall is by layering your rugs. A small Oriental rug or Moroccan-style wool rug instantly makes any space feel warmer and cozier, and goes with practically anything. Keep a few rolled up in the closet and bring them out when your feet feel like they could use a little extra TLC.

Children

Tell us: What is your favorite way to update your home for the season?

Related Reads:

5 Essential Tips for Staging Your Home in the Summer

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5 Essential Tips for Staging Your Home in the Summer

With a flooded market and tons of competition, selling a home in the summer can be worrisome for sellers — but it really shouldn’t be. Here are five essential summer staging tips to give your home the competitive edge it needs.

With a flooded market and tons of competition, selling a home in the summer can be worrisome for sellers — but it really shouldn’t be. As any experienced real estate agent will tell you, houses sell every day in the summer, as long as they are priced right and are appealing to a buyer. Here are five essential summer staging tips to give your home the competitive edge it needs for a successful summer sale.

1. Maintain Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is essential, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Pull any dead shrubbery or plants and keep healthy ones trimmed back. Weed your garden, and consider placing a hardy ground cover, such as bark mulch, to keep weeds down and provide a finished look.

Walkways, patios, and entrances are key points to consider, so edging sidewalks, the driveway, and weeding patio stones are key tasks that don’t cost a penny. Finally, consider painting your front door and laying a new doormat to create a welcoming space that beckons buyers inside.

Newly painted exterior of a North American home during summertime with green grass and flower beds

2. Make Functional Outdoor Space

During the summer months, it’s important for buyers to see your outdoor area as added living space, rather than just another space to maintain. If you don’t have seating on your front porch or backyard, now’s the time to create a functional space that echoes the relaxation of lazy summer days. Online buy and sell sites are great places to pick up outdoor furniture at a fraction of the cost.

Add a pop of summer color by placing bright throw pillows on existing outdoor furniture, and matching it with coordinating annuals or potted plants. Stage outdoor spaces with candles, place-settings, or fresh-cut flowers for showings to kick-start the imagination of potential buyers.

3. Bring the Light In

Natural light is a desirable trait in a home. But, even if you don’t have much of it, you can successfully pull off the same vibe and give buyers what they want. Simply cleaning the windows in your home — inside and out — will let the light reach your rooms unfiltered. Replace heavy drapes with something light and gauzy. Open blinds and drapes for all showings and consider the role of wall paint in your staging. Some colors tend to absorb light rather than reflecting it back into the room, so consider painting over dark colors with a neutral shade.

woman polishing glass door using microfiber cloth and yellow latex gloves

4. Pare Down

An essential part of staging is clearing the clutter and depersonalizing the space. This does two things to help sell your home: It creates the feel of more space and helps buyers picture themselves in your home. A storage unit is a great investment to hold any extra furniture, unused or off-season items, and allows you to showcase the true potential of your home.

5. Coddle the Kitchen

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes in any season, but when selling in the summer, many buyers are considering how they can use the space to entertain. Providing an attractive place to do that just may be the difference that gets your home sold. If you don’t have a backsplash, it is a quick and inexpensive way to add a finishing touch. Clean your cupboards and replace worn or tarnished hardware for modern appeal. Clear the counter of clutter, and leave only those small appliances that highlight the function of your kitchen.

Kitchen interior with large rustic white porcelain sink and granite stone countertop under sunny window

When it comes to summer staging it’s all about bringing the inside-out and the outside-in. A whole-home approach will help buyers feel at home from the moment they pull up to the curb and will ensure that the great summer weather works for you.

Home Selling 101: Marketing Your Home

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Home Selling 101: Marketing Your Home

In the second post of the Home Selling 101 series, we explore what prospective sellers need to do to sell quickly. This includes staging, pricing accurately and having a good team on your side.

A good presentation is a key to selling success. In the case of Jessica and Matt Allcock, that meant moving out some of the stuff they’d accumulated, giving the house a cleaner, more streamlined appearance. It’s important to purge rooms of personal items such as family photos: Buyers don’t want to see your family in their home; they want to imagine themselves living there.

The Allcock’s agent, Scott Oyler, suggests that sellers consult with home stagers who can tell them how to arrange furniture and amenities to their best effect. Neutralizing paint jobs that are, shall we say, idiosyncratic, is a must. Neon colors may appeal to a select few buyers but ecru or egg shell appeal to more and make the spaces seem larger and warmer.

These days, said Oyler, for homes to sell they usually have to be in excellent condition. Any niggling little problems, like drippy faucets, peeling paint, out-of-date electrical service or other mechanicals, is a big no-no.

“In the past, buyers would buy fixer uppers and do repairs,” he said. “That’s not true anymore. Buyers want houses in top condition.”

The Allcocks took a few months to bring their ranch up to spec. After Oyler’s approval, they put it up for sale. The listing included a brief description but a couple dozen, high quality photographs showed off the house inside and out.

One of the reasons the Allcocks chose Coldwell Banker West as their agent was for exposure. Oyler promoted the home not only with agents from other firms but also by making sure his many colleagues were very familiar with the property. He, for example, invited all of his team’s agents in for a thorough tour so they would be well versed in the home’s virtues.

Price better be right

The most important marketing decision made with the agent’s help is what to put on its price tag. Pricing a house correctly can maximize value and minimize selling time and hassle. An overpriced house will sit on the market and oft times sell for less than a house priced right to begin with.

Here’s how that works, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a leading appraisal firm in New York City.

“Some sellers think ‘I’ll get lucky,’ that someone will pay more for a house than it’s worth because they don’t know the market,” he said. “But there’s a problem with that. You have this thing called The Internet that gives people lots of pricing info.”

Potential buyers can get turned off by overpriced homes and never even look at them.

“Overpricing also conveys to the brokerage community that the seller is unrealistic,” said Miller.

The house just sits.

“Most activity happens in the first couple of weeks,” said Oyler. “If it doesn’t sell then, people wonder if something is wrong with it.”

That perception can grow into a stigma. Even when the home is marked down to its more realistic value, it may not get as much traffic as it deserves and often winds up selling for less than if it had been priced correctly right off the bat.

“Buyers are more educated than ever,” said Oyler. “They know when something is a good value or not. When a house is a good value, you can get multiple offers and a higher price than you would had you overpriced the house in the first place.”

Jessica and Matt Allcock priced their home accurately and sold it in four days, at only $4,000 less than their asking price.

On the other hand, you don’t want to let the house go for less than its real value. That’s where a thorough knowledge of market conditions helps.

“You have to pay attention to where the market is heading,” said Oyler. “If it’s going up, you don’t want to price it too low.”

Retirement Homes: 7 Things to Consider When Making Your Move

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Retirement Homes: 7 Things to Consider When Making Your Move

For older adults who may be tired of the upkeep and maintenance of a property, want more companionship, or simply need a little more help to remain independent, retirement homes are the perfect solution. Here are seven tips to making it a smooth search.

For older adults who may be tired of the upkeep and maintenance of a property, want more companionship, or simply need a little more help to remain independent,retirement living is the perfect solution. Shopping for one, however, is different than a regular house-hunt. Retirement homes and communities come in every shape, size, and budget you can think of, and the options can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve rounded up seven tips to consider.

1. Know what you need.

There is a seemingly endless supply of retirement homes with different amenities, and knowing where you fit in the mix is an important piece of the puzzle. Your current mobility level will play a big part in where you look, but remember to keep an eye on the future. If you know mobility or personal care will be an issue, check out retirement homes that have both assisted and independent living choices that will allow you avoid another stressful move down the road.

2. Bring someone you trust.

Retirement home tours tend to be thorough, and there is a lot of information to remember. Bringing a trusted friend or relative with you can help alleviate any confusion and can help you remember which facility had which amenities, and so on.

3. Review the living quarters.

Is the temperature controllable from within my unit? Is there a variety of styles to choose from? Is there a kitchenette? Is cable, phone, and Internet hookup provided? The more questions you ask about the living quarters, the easier it will be to find a place that meets your current and future leads.

4. Research the activities.

Have a look at any community activity calendars to review the variety and scope of offerings. Ask yourself if the activities gel with your current interests and hobbies before deciding if it’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and meet some of the residents during your tour. When asking questions, try to stay away from questions that will elicit a “yes” or “no” response. Instead, ask open-ended questions that will allow you to view the residence from their point of view.

5. Try before you buy.

Be sure to tour retirement homes when an activity or two is taking place, and use this opportunity to gauge how well the event is attended. Note whether other residents seem to enjoy themselves. If possible, eat a meal at the residence and ask plenty of questions about meal plans, how they are delivered and how menu changes are handled.

6. Check out your surroundings.

Be sure to take a close look at the building and the grounds when taking your tour. Note if any areas are lacking from a maintenance standpoint, and if updates seem appropriate for the age of the buildings. Most importantly, use your nose to guide you. The sense of smell remains a powerful tool in determining how clean a facility may be.

7. Review the personal care options.

Personal care can be an expensive amenity to overlook, and you’ll want to ensure its services grow with your future needs. Ask about 24-hour medical care and how emergencies are handled. Is there a doctor on call or who does regular visits? What about bathing and dressing assistance?

Though it may be hard to leave the family home behind, selling your home and moving to a retirement community can open up a whole new world of independent living — just give yourself enough time to make a thorough decision, so begin the search early. That way, when the time is right, you can make a smooth transition to the next chapter of your life!

6 Tips Every First Time Home Seller Should Read

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6 Tips Every First Time Home Seller Should Read

Before you plant the yard sign on your front lawn and start packing boxes, take a look at these wise words on selling your home from our network of Coldwell Banker professionals.

Selling your home is a big move.  Literally. But a few small steps can set you on the path to a successful sale.  Before you plant the yard sign on your front lawn and start packing boxes, take a look at these wise words from our network of Coldwell Banker professionals. See their insight on the real estate process, how to sell your home with kids, and even what the home buying process can teach you about selling your home.

“Pack or purge.” – Chavi M. Hohm, Coldwell Banker BAIN in Seattle, WA

“Think about what position the home will put you in when you are ready to sell and how it will help you buy your second home. Sweat equity is your friend here!” – Kevin Lawton, Coldwell Banker Schiavone & Associates in Yardville, NJ

This Ballard Beauty is located at 7351 Mary Ave NW in Seattle, WA and is listed by Team Diva with Coldwell Banker BAIN.

“When you were negotiating and came in with a low offer that probably irritated the sellers… it may in fact happen to you. Remember that when you are on the receiving end. Try to keep emotions in check. Of course in a hot market perhaps not as much but the same goes for pricing. Be aware of the market and what your home’s actual worth is.” – Melissa Mummery, Coldwell Banker Coastline Realty, Brokerage in Ontario, Canada

“Remember what you noticed before you moved in. The HVAC, outlets and switches. Where are they placed, How many in each room/area? ” – Tina Kerr, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

This remarkable historic colonial is located at 129 Bayview Ave in Amityville, NY and is listed by Jennifer Ronzo with Coldwell Banker Harbor Light.

“Detach from the emotions. To make the best decisions and start moving forward, you need to emotionally detach from the house and the moving process.” – Sunny Lake, Coldwell Banker BAIN

“Staging and decluttering really does matter. I had a young family that had 3 children ranging from infant to 3 years. They totally decluttered/depersonalized. Every time we had a showing they had their kids throw their toys in a suitcase and threw them in their trunk and took off for a clean empty home to show! Sold in no time and the buyer could not believe how many kids they really had! Buyers don’t want to see toys (kids or pets) so put it away or take it with you!” – Jennifer Ronzo, Coldwell Banker Harbor Light in Amity Harbor, NY

Most importantly, you don’t have to go it alone.  Working with a real estate professional can be one of the best things you can do to navigate the real estate process. If you’re looking for a real estate agent in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.

7 Amazing Garage Remodel Ideas

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7 Amazing Garage Remodel Ideas to Make it More than a Storage Space

Not parking your car in the garage? Then consider transforming it with one of these garage remodel ideas!

Guest Post by HomeAdvisor

Americans have been building home garages since dawn of the 20th century. Originally known as “auto houses”, garages were first designed to shelter automobiles from the elements. In fact, the word garage derives from the French “garer,” meaning “to shelter.”

In 21st century America, garages do much more than house cars. As growing families have a need for additional living space, garage conversion has become an attractive and cost-effective solution. Here are some ideas for making the most of your garage:

One-Car Garage Makeovers

  • Laundry room: Using your garage space as a laundry room allows you to use the interior spaces in your home more effectively. Many homeowners find that by moving their laundry room to a garage, they can remove non-load-bearing walls inside their homes to create larger living spaces. An additional benefit to a garage laundry room is that the noise generated by washing machines and dryers is farther removed from the living areas of the home. Since a washer and dryer do not take up the entire garage space, there is still plenty of room for storage with this solution. The cost for relocating your laundry to your garage is typically around $5,000 for plumbing installation, dryer venting and electrical work.
  • Personal gym: Converting your garage space into a personal gym allows you to eliminate the need for a monthly gym membership. With no more need to travel elsewhere to get in a good workout, you can exercise when and how you want. The cost to convert your garage into a working gym is $5,000 to $10,000 for installing proper flooring, walls, ventilation and a small HVAC unit.
  • Home office: If you need a little extra space for a home office, look no further than your garage. For $5,000 to $15,000, you can hang drywall, install flooring, wire your office and install a small HVAC system to cool or heat as needed. Having your office away from the busiest areas of your home can increase your productivity and restore order to former chaos.

Two-Car Garage Makeovers

  • Family rec room/home theater: Do you need a place for the family to gather for a fun night? Your garage can be converted into an entertainment oasis with minimal effort. Depending on the extent of your imagination, a family rec room conversion can be accomplished for $5,000 to $20,000. For a home theater fully stocked with state-of-the-art electronic equipment, expect to add an additional $10,000 to get the job done right.
  • Artist studio: For those with an artistic side, converting a garage into a working artist’s studio can be a dream come true. For $18,000 to $38,000, you can hang drywall, add flooring, install cabinetry to hold your art supplies, install windows to catch the light, and add a small HVAC system to keep your creations at a reasonable temperature.
  • Garage band studio: Develop your musical side by using your garage as a band studio. For $10,000 to $20,000, you can install walls, floors, HVAC, electrical and soundproofing for your musical endeavors. And with your studio outside the busiest living areas of your home, you can practice in peace while your family enjoys a quiet evening at home.
  • Granny suite/efficiency apartment: If you need a place for Grandma to stay, or for your older teenager to experience life a little apart from the rest of the family, you can convert your garage into a fully functional apartment. Expect costs of $22,000 to $63,000 for a one bedroom, one bathroom efficiency apartment. While this may seem like a large investment, it will increase your home’s value as well. Since it requires additional plumbing, electrical work, a separate HVAC system, flooring, drywall installation and decorating, the larger price tag is both understandable and reasonable.

Things to Consider

Building codes differ by location. It’s important to find out about necessary permits and licenses before embarking on any garage conversion project to avoid potential fines and penalties. Because skills in plumbing, carpentry, drywall, HVAC and electrical trades are needed, many homeowners find it easier to hire a contractor to convert their garages. A contractor can work with you to maximize your space, and he or she can also provide you with a cost estimate for your proposed project. Working with the right professionals, you can use your garage to its fullest potential, increase the value of your home, and create an inviting and comfortable living space for your family to enjoy.

June Home Sales Build on May’s 10-Year Highs

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June Home Sales Build on May’s 10-Year Highs

First-time home buyers drive home sales increase according to June’s NAR numbers.

There may be a few headwinds facing the housing market but home sales continue to rack up significant gains.

First-time home buyers stepped up to the plate in June, accounting for a third of homes purchased, up from 30% in May, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The first-timers contributed to a fourth straight month of increased sales, which rose 1.1% from May’s 10-year high.

Total sales of existing homes came in at an annual rate of 5.57 million, 3% higher than 12 months earlier. That’s even though the luxury home market has cooled and there are not enough listings to satisfy demand in many of the nation’s hottest markets, according to Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

“Despite a pull back in the ultra high end and continuing tight inventories across many markets, the housing recovery marches forward in an environment of sustained economic growth and interest rates, which apparently aren’t signaling any measurable increase in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Bargain rates

Indeed, mortgage interest rates have fallen more than half a percentage point since the beginning of 2016 and are threatening post-housing-bust lows. Freddie Mac, the government run mortgage giant, reported Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year loan is currently around 3.45%. That represents huge savings on monthly payments compared to the long-term average of about 6%. Homeowners with $200,000 mortgages would pay less than $900, saving $300 compared with a 6% rate.

Sales could grow even stronger, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. June sales were hurt by shortages of listings. Strong closings totals in the earlier spring months meant house hunters had less inventory to choose from in many places. Nationally, there were 2.12 existing homes for sale, down 5.8% from a year ago. The inventory stood at a 4.6 month supply, a slight drop from May.

As for interest rate trends, Yun thinks they could drop even lower, due to the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s Eurozone exit and other world financial and economic events. Foreign investors turn to safe havens in times of turmoil and U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities are in high demand, keeping rates down.

Another boost for home sales has come from solid job gains during the year. The economy added more than a million jobs in the first six months, dropping the unemployment rate below 5%. Wages have reported gains as well, up 2.6% year-over-year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More people working at higher income jobs translates into increased demand for houses to buy.

Another factor encouraging consumers to act is strong home price appreciation. NAR reported a national median price of $247,700 for homes sold in June, up 4.8% over 12 months earlier. Prices have grown faster than inflation and income. That, combined with the risk of increases in mortgage rates, creates fear in buyers that, if they postpone purchases, their costs could soar.

Too, many feel they’re throwing their money away on rent, which is increasing at alarming rates in many markets. Median rents have blown past the $3,000 a month level in a few cities and have hit $4,600 a month in New York and San Francisco, the nation’s most expensive rental city, according to Apartment List.

Jumping on board

With rents so high, it’s no wonder many millennials and other first-timers were anxious to become home owners in June. The market share for first-time buyers, at 33%, represents a four-year high, according to NAR’s Yun, who also said that it may be a hopeful indication that more starter homes are hitting the listing pages. That’s especially true outside the hot, mostly coastal cities.

“The odds of closing on a home are definitely higher right now for first-time buyers living in metro areas with tamer price growth and greater entry-level supply — particularly areas in the Midwest and parts of the South,” he said.

Even with the very strong first half of the year, Yun struck a cautionary note going forward.

“Looking ahead, it’s unclear if this current sales pace can further accelerate as record high stock prices, near-record low mortgage rates and solid job gains face off against a dearth of homes available for sale and lofty home prices that keep advancing,” he said.

Prices up everywhere

The Midwest recorded the largest month-over-month gain in sales, up 3.8%. The West recorded a 1.7% gain while sales were flat in the South and declined 1.3% in the Northeast.

Here are year-over-year sales changes by region:

Region Home sales % Sales increase year-over-year Median home price % Price change year-over-year
Northeast 760,000 5.6% $284,800 1.4%
Midwest 1.35 million 4.7% $199,900 5.7%
South 2.26 million 3.2% $217,400 5.5%
West 1.12 million -0.8% $350,800 7.2%

Source: National Association of Realtors