Archive for the ‘Improve Curb Appeal’ Category
This years #1 favorite home improvement is an Outdoor Living Room. Homeowners, feeling more confident in the value of their homes, are remodeling and making improvements like we haven’t seen in years. This year, creating an outdoor living space, is the hands down favorite project for DIYers and professionals, alike.
Must Have/Wish List Features for Outdoor Living:
- Arbor. Arbor. Arbor.
- Built in seating with cushions
- Firepit or fireplace
- Grilling or Kitchen area
- Drapes for shade and ambiance
- Dining area
- Water Feature
- TV or Projection screen
Consider adding some outdoor life to your dull backyard or builder slab patio. You not only create more space, economically, you create a whole new spot to relax and entertain.
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Staging your home for potential buyers can be quite the hassle. You may start moving your furniture around spontaneously, or become tense when your children or spouse make messes in a room that you just prepped for show. With all of the planning that one can put into making their home shine, one crucial step in home staging is often overlooked: your family pet.
For the sake of simplicity, I will outline a few things that you must keep in mind when cleaning up after your pet in a home for sale.
Pet presence – For obvious reasons, some pets can’t leave the house. Giant enclosures, aquariums, and disabled pets are hard to relocate sometimes, and a lot of people will be understanding of this. But if your dog or cat is healthy, then you’ll want to strongly consider relocating your pets temporarily. Many people aren’t pet owners, and don’t like being around an excitable golden retriever or a yippy chihuahua when they are trying to imagine their family occupying your home. Remember….You are trying to make the potential buyer as relaxed as possible. Ask a friend if they wouldn’t mind looking after your loved one for a bit, and if all else fails, look into a reputable boarding service for your pet.
Fur – Fur can get everywhere. Even in places that you, as a resident of your home, don’t necessarily notice all of the time. Be sure to give your couches, chairs, and love seats proper attention. That means taking the pillows and cushions off, and using a hand vacuum or brush to remove all of the fur you see. After you are sure that they are thoroughly cleaned, use a fabric freshener to finish it off. Try to do this well in advance of the potential buyer, as some people have sensitivities to fabric fresheners.
Litter – No matter what kind of animal you have, odds are you have do deal with some form of waste. It may sound pretty obvious, but make sure your litter beds are clean and well hidden. Even if you own an exotic pet like a reptile of amphibian, this includes you too. Many people don’t like snakes, but they’ll like a messy snake cage even less. Another important thing to remember as an exotic pet owner is this: even though you may not be able to smell anything offensive coming from your reptile’s cage, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an odor. Many people who live with reptiles get used to the subtle odors that emit from the cages, and will tend to spot-clean their animal’s cage without giving it the proper scrub-down that it needs.
Odors – Don’t use air fresheners to mask pet odor. It is meant to freshen the air…Not cover pet odors up. Instead, use powdered cleaners on carpets and rugs that your pets frequent. These can be purchased at your local pet store in the cleaning isle. Odds are, if someone has a severe allergy to animals, then they are going to be at risk of having a reaction. The cleaner the house, the less dander will be in the home.
Garth Britzman’s installation, called (Pop)culture, is a colorful canopy made recycled soda bottles that are filled with a little bit of colored liquid. The bottles, which are suspended by strings, create undulating waves of color that almost remind me of the Dale Chihuly ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
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A Green or Living Roof… is a concept that has been around for centuries and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Cities such as Atlanta, Portland and Chicago now offer incentives to encourage builders to put green roof’s on their buildings. The green roof on the Chicago City Hall (shown below) is one of the earliest and best known examples in the USA.
Why are Green Roofs Good for Man and Earth?
1. Adding Green Roofs to Buildings in Urban Area’s has a dramatic effect on high temperatures, which are increasing. A green roof can decrease cooling costs by 50-90% depending on the amount of glass used in the building. On average, the use of green or living roof materials in cities can reduce overall summer temperatures by 4-7 degrees. Imagine a July high temp of 82 vs 90.
2. Living roofs dramatically reduce storewater runoff and they filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater. They can retain up to 75% of rainfall and reduce the need for expensive underground sand filters that meet storm water regulations.
3. Green Roofs Filter pollution and carbon dioxide out of the air, which lowers respitory diseases such as asthma. Check out the green walled homes built in Austria below.
4. Living Roofs create a Natural Habitat for Birds, Bee’s, Butterflies and Insects in Urban and Rural Settings. They increase our agricultural space and can be used to grow food, herbs, fruiting tree’s and shrubs.
5. Green Roofs Require Little to No Maintenance…and Mowing can be fun
6. Living Roofs dramatically improve a roof’s insulation value and cuts heating and cooling bills about 25% on average. The roof’s also last two to three times as long as a standard asphault shingled roof.
Flower Tower Building – Paris, France
7. Green Roof’s Increase Real Estate Values and Earn LEED’s points
The idea of Green roof’s may be centuries old..but in the 21st century they are becoming new again. They increase life, and the beauty of it…in addition they make financial and environmental sense.
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Agents say that the majority of home sellers have gotten more “real” about their real estate in 2012. More than half (51%) of sellers are willing to price their homes more competitively this year vs last. And, nearly half (45%) are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to appeal to and entice buyers.
What is the best use of a seller’s time and money? De-clutter, de-personalize to make their home appeal to the broadest cross-section of potential buyers.
- 94% of sellers are getting rid of clutter and making cosmetic updates.
- 78% are willing to “de-personalize” their homes.
- 59% are bringing in new home decorations or furniture to make their home updated and appealing.
De-personalizing and de-cluttering a home makes it easier for a buyer to imagine him or herself living in the property. In order to sell your home in today’s competitive marketplace, it is crucial for seller’s to realize that the property is no longer their “home”…it is an expensive product that is For Sale.
Always remove family photo’s and personal artwork. They do nothing for the appeal of the home. They simply distract a buyers focus and perhaps give the buyer too much information about the seller’s personal life. Never good.
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Take a look at the imagination and resourcefullness that this home builder used to convert two, abandoned, semi truck trailers into a sweet 2 bedroom cabin in the woods.
First, Locate an abandoned truck trailer that is no longer road worthy.
Place the trailers onsight and weld the two structures together.
Sketch up your Floor Plan and get to work.
Cut through and bring your two worlds together
Stucco over the metal on the trailers to add insulation and prevent further rusting. Cut out your windows.
Install double insulated windows and french doors.
Frame out the house. Add batt insulation between the studs.
Panel the walls, put in the floors and move your furniture in.
Hang up your flat screen and watch the game.
Congratulations to this Green, Creative Homeowner!! Home Sweet Home for a few thousand dollars. Stucco exterior. Double Paned Windows. French Doors. And, 1162 square feet of warm, cozy living space.
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Bank of America has come up with a new tool to deal with its glut of abandoned and foreclosed homes…. a Bulldozer.
Bank of America, the nations largest mortage servicer, plans to “donate” 100 blighted homes in Cleveland, OH and contribute cash toward their demolition. The bank has a similar plan for 100 homes in Detriot, 150 in Chicago, with 9 more cities to follow. Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Fannie Mae are also considering their own bulldozing programs.
Getting rid of repossesed homes is the biggest headache for US lenders. 1,679,125 homes ( 1 in every 77) are in some stage of foreclosure as of June. Lenders feel that no one will buy many of these homes and they”re trying to cut their losses. Bulldozing the problem away means the banks won’t owe property taxes to our floundering cities and it won’t have to pay for repairs, maintenance and upkeep on the property. In addition, there are some perks for giving away a house. The banks get a bunch of tax write-offs and best case… they may even get a pat on the back and some nice PR, too.
The idea of Bulldozing houses is nothing new. Although the banks are not blowing up homes for alturistic reasons…I think we can all agree that removing home inventory is good for all of us. In 2010, Warren Buffet advised that “blow up a lot of houses” was a viable option and similar to ‘cash for clunkers’ auto program. I always thought bulldozing abandoned homes and returning the land to a raw state was a smarter solution than handing out money in the form of a homebuyer tax credit. The tax credit cost billions of dollars, put money into the hands of a few people blessed with good timing and did little to reduce inventory.
Bankers, why not take the “TNT” strategy one step further. Donate unwanted houses to local non-profits vs blowing them up? Make a call to Habitat for Humanity, for example? I can’t understand why Habitat is still building new homes, when we can’t get rid of the ones that are causing problems in our neighborhoods. Habitat needs to change their business model with the times and so do our lenders. Families, who are in dire need now, wait up to 6+ months for a new home to be built and the cost of building from scratch far exceeds the costs of rehabbing properties, in most cases.
Just my two cents….
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More than 150 years ago, America’s greatest landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, created Central Park and changed New York forever. He went on to transform dozens more cities, leaving a priceless legacy of vibrant, beautiful cityscapes. And, in the process, he increased property values.
Olmsted discovered this himself when he tracked the value of land around Central Park and found that the city’s $13 million investment had led to an astounding $209 million increase in just 17 years. The architect recognized what many planners still fail to grasp: Parks and managed green space are vital pieces of urban infrastructure that not only improve the quality of life for millions of people but also drive economic growth.
Today we must act again to transform our cities. The commercial real estate binge of the past decade and the growth of online shopping as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores have left more than 200,000 acres of vacant retail, office and industrial space. Residential real estate is a massive problem as well. Distressed properties are a drag on our communities and the economy, and threaten to topple even more banks that hold mortgages on these “toxic assets.”
We need to move these toxic assets off the banks’ books, reduce the surplus of commercial space and create jobs, all while revitalizing our cities. This brings us back to Olmsted.
Olmsted designed transformative parks, campuses and greenways; his firm completed an amazing 6,000 commissions and launched a green wave across 19th-century America. The same kind of wave could help resolve the 21st-century real estate mess.
We don’t have the luxury of vacant land that Olmsted often started with, so we must bulldoze underperforming and underused property, put people to work creating parks on some of the land and “bank” the rest until the economy recovers.
Beginning with Atlanta, Georgia Tech is researching what is needed to accomplish this in 12 major cities. The project is known as Red Fields to Green Fields. Under this plan, some of the abandoned or underutilized property would be acquired by a parks agency or by public-private partnerships, which would then begin demolition, park design and construction, putting people to work immediately. More jobs would come as the improved areas attracted development.
This would not be the first time that property has been bulldozed for economic gain. The railroads, which had many miles of underused track to maintain, pulled up 55 percent of their tracks in the past 60 years to increase profitability, enabling the creation of 19,000 linear miles of “rails-to-trails” parks.
Pittsburgh, realizing that the steel industry was never coming back, tore down riverfront steel mills and replaced them with an attractive mix of parks and office space. In Michigan, Flint and Detroit are finding ways to “bank” land as open space.
The banking system and the federal government could play an important role in this effort. Rather than backstop bad real estate paper, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Treasury Department could help finance the acquisition of excess commercial real estate through a land bank fund.
Instead of buying mortgage-backed securities, why couldn’t the Fed buy excess developed real estate to be held as green space through “land-backed securities”? Why couldn’t the FDIC give some of the useless properties it obtains through bank closures to land banks or nonprofit organizations?
With the right financing structure, philanthropic entrepreneurs could use leverage to remake America just as some of our bad developers used easy bank financing to help create the excesses.
Acquisition money could also come from expanding tax incentives that encourage banks and landlords to donate land and encourage wealthy individuals and corporations to buy conservation tax credits. Georgia Tech’s analysis has also shown that the money needed for a nationwide program would be a tiny fraction of current real estate support programs, such as the Fed’s “quantitative easing” or its recent purchase of $1.5 trillion in mortgages.
The 2009 stimulus package did much to protect jobs but little to stimulate the economy with transformational investments. Converting underused commercial real estate to green space and “banked” land would be transformational. It would create jobs, strengthen the banking system to encourage lending and stabilize property values so that real estate owners would be ready to spend again. Most important, lush new parks would enhance neighborhoods across the country.
Michael G. Messner is a Wall Street investment fund manager. He and his wife, Jenny, funded the documentary “The Olmsted Legacy,” which is airing on PBS, and are funding the Red Fields to Green Fields research at Georgia Tech.
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Fall is a marvelous time of the year and an excellant time for househunting. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, the holidays are just around the corner and every is feeling in the mood to nest. Make the most of the season!!
1. Change those Listing Photo’s to Show Off Those Pumpkins, Mums and Falling Leaves.
2. Days Are Getting Shorter…which means your rooms are getting darker.
- Dark rooms don’t show well. The simple solution…turn on more lights. Consider changing out your lightbulbs to ones that project warmer (yellow) versus a cooler (blue) tint.
- If your rooms are painted a dark color, lighten them up with a fresh coat of a light, neutral paint.
- Do some spring cleaning and wash the windows if they aren’t clean
3. Spruce up Your Curb Appeal
- Make sure all summer annuals and perrenials have been pulled up or cut back. If the bare spots look bad, consider planting mums, pansies or kales in their place.
- Keep the leaves raked up.
- Place a few mums and/or pumpkins by the front door or steps.
4. Everyone Loves Fireplaces…so fire up your fireplace to add warmth and charm.
5. Holiday Decorating – Less is More
- Fall – Thanksgiving decor is more neutral than Christmas decorations…but don’t overdo. Limit the amount of decorations to insure that buyers see the house.
- Halloween is great fun for kids and adults, alike, but don’t overwhelm buyer’s with screaming witches, howling goblins and motion activated rats. Too much Halloween can be very distracting to buyer’s trying to see a home for the first time.
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