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The Top 5 Remodeling Mistakes That Homeowners Make

6/24/2019
Original article found at forbs.com


Unfortunately, while renovation mistakes do happen, they can be costly. If you can at all avoid them, you should. With that in mind, I've laid out a list of the top renovation mistakes that homeowners make, as well as some advice on what you can do to ensure that they don't derail your project. Read them over so you don't fall prey to them during your renovation. Your budget and schedule will thank you.

Hiring the wrong contractor

Choosing the right contractor is a process. It can be tempting to go with the first one you find to just get it over with. But, the reality is, if you choose the wrong contractor, you could be setting yourself to face a much bigger headache in the long run.

Instead, do your due diligence and thoroughly vet multiple contractors before ultimately deciding which one to hire. Conventional wisdom says that you should gather at least three estimates before getting started on any home improvement project. However, in addition, you should check references, read online reviews, and verify that each contractor is bonded and insured.

Beyond that, you'll also want to choose the contractor with whom you feel most comfortable. Make sure the contractor that you choose is easy to contact, that he or she answers your questions in a way that leaves you feeling comfortable, and is willing to sign a contract.

Choosing aesthetics over function

Everyone wants a kitchen or bathroom that looks like it belongs in a showroom, but when you're remodeling, there is such a thing as getting too into aesthetics. If you make your remodel look magnificent, but forget to take function into account, odds are good that you'll be itching to remodel again sooner rather than later.

Your better option is to put function first, even if it means sacrificing a few aesthetic details. Before you start remodeling, take some time to think about how you currently use the space. Ask yourself: What do you like about the way the space currently functions? What do you wish was different about it? Then, make sure those changes take precedence in your design.

Skipping the permit

There's no denying that getting permits can be a pain. For one, they add another cost to your likely already-stretched budget. For another, inspections by local authorities can slow down the work or even bring it to a halt altogether. But, having the right permits in place is a crucial factor when you eventually go to sell your home down the road. Not having them could cause your eventual sale to fall through. Worse, if the new buyer were to get hurt because of unpermitted workmanship, you could be sued.

If you've hired the right kind of contractor, he or she will most likely take care of the permitting for you, but that doesn't mean that you can just brush this task aside. It's up to you, as the homeowner, to verify that all of the correct permits are in place and that the work is being done to code.

Not planning for the unexpected

If there's one thing to know about remodeling projects it's that nothing ever goes according to plan, at least not completely. Whether it's an ordering mistake or an unexpected roof leak, unforeseen problems happen during the course of construction all of the time. You need to be prepared to handle them because that's the only way that your project can continue to move forward.

The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for the unknown is to leave a buffer in your budget for these issues. Experts recommend budgeting 10% - 15% more than you actually need for the project for these incidentals. That way, if something happens, you have a cushion to fall back on and, if nothing does, you get to finish the renovation without feeling cash-poor.

Continually changing your mind

Sometimes you can't help it if inspiration strikes while your renovation is underway, but unfortunately giving in to too many of those whims can cost you a lot of time and money, especially if the contractor was already in the middle of working on the feature that you'd like to change.

Ideally, you'll take some time to sit with your ideas for the project before you start putting the wheels in motion. That way, if you discover that changes need to be made, plans can be made around them before construction starts. Your best bet for keeping your project on schedule and under budget is to make a plan for the work and stick to it.

6 Surprising Ways Home Staging Can Sabotage Your Sale

6/23/2019
Original article found at Realtor.com



If there's one thing that's hammered home during the selling process, it's that prospective buyers hate walking into an empty house. They need to imagine themselves in your space, and that means seeing furniture, accessories, and other decor trappings that make a house feel like a home—and wake prospective buyers to the potential of the place.

To the rescue: home staging. Consider it the professional makeover your home gets before the big dance. If done correctly, it can be a seller's best friend, slashing the time your home sits on the market and boosting your profits.

But staging homes isn't as easy as you think, and it's entirely possible for home staging to go desperately wrong, even when you think you're doing it right. Take heed of these oh-so-easy-to-make mistakes when staging your home.

1. Overdesigning your space

The goal of home staging is to help buyers visualize what the house could look like once they move in. The trick is to give off that feeling subtly, not smacking buyers in the face with design, design, design right when they walk in the door.

“Home staging is like being a backup singer to the house, which is the star," says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. "As a backup singer, you have to be good, but, girl—do not overshadow Miss Tina Turner.”

Staging should boost your home, not the other way around. Keep it simple with furnishings, some decor, and textiles to add softness. Don't cover every nook and cranny, even if you think it'll look amazing.

2. Displaying fake everything

Making a home feel lived in without actually being lived in is tricky. But if your home stager suggests a nice bowl of fake fruit or anything inflatable, run quickly in the other direction.

“Fake plants, fake flowers, fake food, fake TV screens and computers, and, most of all, blow-up mattresses," Riordan says. "Every time [buyers] see a fake item they are reminded that this is not real, this is not achievable, and this is not their new home."

Keep it real, and forget the artificial bananas and silk leaf palm trees.

3. Not staging homes to scale

What home seller doesn't want to create the illusion of more space? And to do that, you might assume you should use smaller, lightweight items.

Au contraire! That tactic can actually dwarf a home, experts say. Instead, make sure your furniture and accessories match the room in scale and proportion. In other words: If you have a huge family room with a vaulted ceiling, don't opt for a small, low-backed sofa and tiny ottoman coffee table.

Plus, buyers should walk in and feel like there's room for the family to grow and for entertaining. If the furniture used for staging is too small, the whole space will scream, "not enough room for life in this house."

"Putting a small four-top table in a giant dining room does not show good use of the room," Riordan says. "It shows poor use of scale.”

The same goes for decor accessories—your Italian ceramics, votive candles, artwork, and other odds and ends. If they're disproportional to the space, the whole room can feel visually cluttered—even if you're not displaying many items.

“No piece should be smaller than a softball,” says Tori Toth, home stager, founder of Stylish Stagers, and author of "Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell."

4. Staging your entire home in one aesthetic

Even if you’re selling a restored Victorian, buyers might not want to see oil lamps and fainting couches in every room. Buyers are trying to envision themselves—and everything they already own—in the space.

To help them get there, feel free to showcase eclectic furniture that proves to buyers their mismatched furniture will also go great in the house, Riordan says.

When in doubt, however, opt for traditional pieces: light-colored sofas, tables with clean lines, and timeless decor pieces. Your goal is to create the feeling of home for the buyer, not a museum.

5. Keeping doors closed

This one seems like an obvious no-no, but sometimes we're all guilty of habitually closing doors.

“Having a person be able to move through the house without thinking is hugely important," Riordan says. "We have seen entire floors missed by potential buyers because a door was closed and the buyer had assumed that the door was a closet rather than a staircase to the basement or upper floor.”

Before your real estate agent shows your house, do a final walk-through and make sure everything is open and ready to go.

6. Going too neutral

There’s nothing wrong with a classic color scheme, but if you keep everything ivory and beige, it won’t make your house stand out from the pack.

We're not saying you should go crazy with the color. But your home should have a bit of unique appeal—some pops of color here and there, and one or two rooms that don’t look like every other room in the house (and on the planet).

“We create one color story for each room," Riordan says of his design firm. "There might be a red office, a green living room, and an orange bedroom in a single house."

The end result? After a potential buyer has seen 10 houses—each with eight rooms—in one day, she'll have an easier time calling yours to mind.

"The red office is much easier to recall hours later than the office that had a desk in it," Riordan explains.

And, after all, your goal here is to have the house that buyers remember.


Tips for Negotiating In a Seller's Market

6/13/2019
Buying in a seller's real estate market can be daunting. With the possibility of high competition for properties, it can be difficult to determine what might put your offer ahead of others. Below are tips on how to negotiate should you be in a seller's market.

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GET PRE-APPROVED

When it comes to buying a property, getting pre-approval for a mortgage is a must, and it's an absolute must in a seller's market. You want to be able to negotiate and close quickly. Having a custom pre-approval letter from the mortgage lender when making the offer shows you're serious and ready to make a deal. The letter should indicate the lender has already received and approved your credit history and verification of income. It should have only limited conditions, such as 'continued level of income of buyer' and 'satisfactory appraisal of property.


UNDERSTAND THE MARKET VALUE RANGE
Prices can get crazy in a seller's market, but do not get drawn into an unrealistic price. Remember, even when home inventory is limited, other homes are or will become available. While there are several online programs to instantly provide a 'Market Price,' these by nature draw from general information and can be wildly inaccurate. Make sure your real estate agent does a market analysis for each home prior to submitting an offer, and if you receive a counteroffer, it is a good idea to have your agent do it again. There may be a sensible reason to raise your offering price, as well as a good reason to back off. Your agent can factor in expected changes to the area as well as which homes in the area are comparable and which are not.

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AVOID LOW BALL OFFERS
A seller's market is not the time to make a low-ball offer. When there are fewer homes for sale, buyers tend to submit higher and full-price offers. Your real estate agent will be able to guide you on an offer that will not only entice the owner but also compete with other potential offers
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SHOW YOU'RE SERIOUS
Money talks when it comes to real estate. If you're serious about a property, larger earnest money shows the seller you're serious and already have money on hand. It makes your offer more appealing!

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DON'T EXPECT EVERYTHING
Sellers have the upper hand when it comes to selling in a seller's market. Buyers can't be too choosy, especially when the competition is high. If you've found a house and there are multiple offers, don't make demands that will make a seller turn down your offer. If a seller has made it clear that the appliances are not staying, don't demand them. If there are cosmetic things you don't like, don't make the sale contingent upon those items being fixed. Your real estate agent will be able to offer advice on ways to make your offer more attractive to a seller.

USE KNOWLEDGE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
One way to negotiate with an offer is to learn more about the seller. Does the seller need extra time to vacate the property because s/he is waiting on another property? Use that to your advantage and allow that time in your offer. Is the property on the market because the owner must take a job in another city or state? You can make the closing quick to help accommodate his/her needs

Finding a home when inventory is low can be a difficult task. If you're on the hunt for a home and live in a city with a competitive real estate market, make the challenge a little less difficult by being prepared. When you finally find that perfect property, do not forget the asset you have in your real estate agent. Together you'll be able to make a deal that gets you your dream home.


















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