5 Essential Tips for Staging Your Home in the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make Moving a Little Bit Easier

How to Make Moving a Little Bit Easier

Want help making your next move a little bit easier? Check out these four tips.

Let’s be honest: moving is almost always unpleasant. Whether you’re moving from one neighborhood to the next or across the country, the process is often time-consuming, stressful and expensive. Plus, if you’re moving somewhere you’ve never been before, the uncertainty can be terrifying.

However, moving is a fact of life for most of us. The average person in the U.S. is expected to move 11+ times in his or her life, according to U.S. Census data. Want help making your next move a little bit easier? Check out these four tips:

  1. Use your real estate agent: It’s easy to look things up on the internet, but if you really want to know what the area you’re moving to is like, ask your real estate agent. Not only can they give you the lo-down on schools and neighborhoods, but they can show you the best places to eat, shop and more. By definition, agents have to be experts of their respective areas. You might as well use their knowledge to get acclimated to your new hometown and help quell your concerns.
  2. Consider moving before you buy: No matter how much research you do, it can be difficult to truly know what it’s like to live in an area until you get there. If this is a major concern for you, consider getting a short-term rental while you look for a house to buy. Once you’ve lived somewhere for a few months, you’ll feel more confident about the precise location you want to put down roots. Be sure to use your real estate agent to help you get a rental.
  3. Purge three months before moving: One of the most strenuous parts of moving is deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Especially if you’ve lived someone for a long time, you’ve likely accumulated a lot of “stuff.” Because it’s so unpleasant, many people put off purging until the last minute and end up packing items they simply don’t need. If you purge in advance, it will not only be easier to pack, but you’ll also prevent accidentally tossing out something you wanted to keep.
  4. Label boxes by room: One of the biggest mistakes many people make when moving is not labeling their boxes properly – or not labeling them at all. Unpacking can be a nightmare if boxes aren’t labeled, and the best way to label boxes is by room. That way, either you or your movers can put all of the boxes in the correct room right away. Also, relating to the last tip, feel free to have a “Maybe Get Rid Of” box. This can help expedite the purging / packing process, and it’ll be easier to decide whether or not you want to keep something in your new space.

Some of these are really nice – don’t you Sink?

5 Sink Ideas to Bring Your Dream Bathroom to Life

When replacing your bathroom vanity, it can be tempting to install a similar style and move on. However, replacing your sink can be an incredible opportunity to create a focal point to your bathroom. Here are five sink ideas to get you started.

When replacing your bathroom vanity, it can be tempting to install a similar style and move on. However, replacing your sink can be an incredible opportunity to create a focal point to your bathroom, express your personal style, and add significant value to your home. HGTV states that kitchen and bath renovations increase the value of your home and have a high return on investment. There are so many options to update your bathroom space that it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. Luckily, we’ve compiled the five new sink ideas to help make that decision a little easier.

1. Top Mount

In some homes, the builder-installed flooring doesn’t extend beneath the vanity cabinet, which makes your options limited if you are not replacing your bathroom floor. In this case, reusing the same vanity with a new top-mount sink may be the best choice for you. A top-mount sink drops in and has an outer rim to create a finished look. Choosing a square or rectangular version will instantly modernize your space.

Modern luxury bathroom

2. Under Mount

While the cost is comparable to a top mount, an under-mount sink will only work with a solid surface countertop, which will add dollars to your project. The upside, however, is a sleek-looking countertop that makes cleaning up a breeze. Any mess can just be wiped back down into the sink since the rim of the sink is mounted to the underside of the counter.

Fragment of a luxury bathroom

3. Wall Sink

If the first thought that comes to mind is “school bathroom”—think again. Wall sinks have come a long way from their industrial beginnings and are a fantastic way to add a minimalist design to your bathroom. A wall-mounted vanity with straight lines and sleek hardware exudes modern style and is ideal for small spaces.

Interior new house, view modern bathroom

4. Pedestal

If space is an issue, or you’re looking for more traditional sink ideas, a pedestal sink can be the perfect answer. Typically made from porcelain, this option hides plumbing lines and can fit into almost any space. The downside to this choice is a lack of storage—which can be rectified with savvy storage to match the traditional decor. Replacing a large two-sink vanity with two pedestal sinks can create a balanced look and amp up the wow factor in your bathroom.

double sinks in luxury bathroom

5. Vessel

By far one of the most versatile sink ideas, vessel sinks can come in a variety of colors and materials, making it the perfect choice for those who want to express their unique style. Vessel sinks can sit entirely above the counter, or semi-recessed. When paired with a butcher-block vanity or antique dresser, a vessel sink can add glamour to a traditional or industrial look, while an etched glass countertop can signal a contemporary look.

From bamboo to copper, stone, marble—and even glass, vessel sinks should be chosen based on the type of use and location. While all of the above are ideal for powder rooms, choosing a durable and easy to clean sink will be best for main bathrooms or heavy use. If you live in a location with hard water, a glass vessel may look fantastic upon installation, but can dull quickly with hard water stains.

Modern bathroom with a luxurious sink and faucet.

No matter your style, the right design elements will help you achieve the spa quality you want while adding value to your home. A new sink can be one of the easiest ways to breathe new life into your bathroom and can be done with or without a full bathroom overhaul, making it a worthwhile DIY project for any home.