8 ‘valuable’ home features that might actually be a waste of money

8 ‘valuable’ home features that might actually be a waste of money

No one likes to overpay for a purchase, and this is particularly true when buying a home. After all, every square foot of space or block closer to a top school will cost you big-time!

So if you’re a thrifty soul who must make every home-buying dollar count, check out these home features that often inspire sellers to jack up their price. That’s fine if you truly want these things, but if not? You’re wasting your money.

1. A huge yard you rarely enjoy

A sprawling green lawn may have a certain curb appeal at first sight. And if you have kids or plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s a fine feature to splurge on. But if you doubt anyone will be out there much, you’re just tossing money out the window.

It turns out sellers charge a premium for that patch of grass, and you’ll funnel even more money going forward on lawn maintenance (or else spend your weekends mowing, weeding and pruning the yard).

“It could end up just costing you a lot of money to maintain, even though it’s not being enjoyed,” says Tim Bakke, director of publishing at the Plan Collective, a website that provides house plans.

2. A short commute you won’t use

If you work from home, commute at off-hours, work in the suburbs, or are retired, don’t pay extra to buy a house near mass transit, or within easy driving distance of major office areas—those are homes that regular commuters might covet, prompting sellers to charge up the wazoo.

“Homes closer to major commerce centers cost quite a bit more than homes in outlying or suburban areas,” says real estate agent Jamie Klingman at Boutiquerealtyflorida.com.

Is this an important factor to you? If not, consider a home that’s a bit farther out to save cash.

3. A top school district when you don’t have kids

A home zoned for a great public school will always command top dollar on the open market.

“And you’ll also pay for this through your taxes,” says Bakke.

However, if you don’t have (or plan to have) kids, why empty your wallet to send someone else’s child to school? Look for homes just outside the district to save on purchase price and property taxes.

4. A single-story house when you’re fine with stairs

In many locations, homes all on the same level command a higher dollar value because the boomer generation prefers them when downsizing, says Jen Nelson, an agent in Phoenix.

If you can handle going up a flight of stairs or two, consider a two-story house to get more bang for your buck. (Another bonus? A smaller roof to replace when the time comes.)

More From Realtor.com

5. A bigger house than you truly need

Very often buyers purchase a home that’s way bigger than they actually need.

“People end up with too much house and not even using the rooms they have,” says Pat Vosburgh, a certified real estate negotiation expert at Vosburghandvosburgh.com.

Since a purchase price directly reflects things like size, why overpay for bedrooms or media rooms you won’t use—and have to heat, cool, furnish, and clean? Instead, protect your bank account by looking only for homes that reflect how much space you’ll actually use.

6. A hot neighborhood

A hip neighborhood that everyone’s buzzing about can send home prices soaring. But getting caught up in the hype and overspending in an area where prices haven’t quite gelled yet can be a risky proposition where you end up (you guessed it) overpaying. Buy homes only in new areas that are still a relative bargain.

7. Fancy amenities you won’t use

Here’s a reality check: If you don’t drink wine regularly, you don’t need a wine refrigerator—or to pay for a house with one, either.

“A six-car, air-conditioned garage or a built-in commercial pizza oven may appeal to a specific buyer,” says Bruce Ailionof Atlanta’s Re/Max Town and Country. But such premium upgrades and add-ons will send a purchase price north, so you’d better make sure you use whatever you buy, often.

This is especially true when you buy a condo or a home in a planned community, since you’ll have to consider the monthly condo or HOA fees you’ll be paying as part of your purchase price. Make no mistake, those fees are for amenities—think a gym or lounge—so if you don’t plan to take advantage of these features, you’re squandering your money.

8. The nicest house in the neighborhood

It may be tempting to snag the home with the biggest price tag in a certain ZIP code for bragging rights. “But you never want to buy the most expensive home in the neighborhood,” says Vosburgh.

While it might be fun to know your casa is the area’s castle, having the top comp in a neighborhood may become an issue when it comes time to sell. This scenario leaves little room for your home’s price to appreciate, so you may not be able to recoup what you paid. So unless you’re truly smitten with this home, buyer beware.

 

 

 

By Margaret Heidenry

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Quick fixes and larger projects to make your home more energy efficient.

Quick fixes and larger projects to make your home more energy efficient

Don’t despair! To help solve some of the most common issues, here are some quick-fix projects that you can accomplish on your own, as well as some larger home upgrades that can make a huge impact. These changes could lower your energy bills in the near term–and make your home more valuable in the long run.

Here are the top four home energy efficiency issues that can be addressed with both a quick fix and a long-term solution.

What to do…

…If you’re constantly cranking your thermostat

Quick fix: Seal your windows

Even small gaps can waste a significant amount of energy. Test for leaks by moving a piece of tissue paper around your window. If you see movement, there’s a leak. Heat loss occurs through gaps between sashes and frames, so you’ll want to caulk around these areas, mainly around the exterior. For the best adhesion, you’ll want to clean all areas first, removing any old caulk and paint. Then apply caulk to all joints in a window frame and the joint between the frame and the wall. If possible, caulk in one continuous motion.

Long-term solution: Replace your windows

Windows play a big part in your overall energy use accounting for 25-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.1 You’ll want to discuss with your window retailer and installer whether you’ll be able to replace your windows in their existing frame. Then you’ll need to decide on features—frame types, glazing type, gas fills and spacers and operation types. When selecting the windows themselves, you’ll want to keep energy use in mind and look for the ENERGY STAR® label, as well as review ratings on the energy performance label for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).

What to do…

…If your electricity and gas bills are consistently over the local average

Quick fix: Unplug—ensure that you’re not outputting excess energy

Do you use space heaters in the winter? Leave your appliances plugged in at all times, or leave your phone on the charger all night? All of these things eat away energy. If you use power strips, you’ll be able to turn off multiple devices with just the flip of a switch. When charging your phone, don’t leave it siting on the charger all night, and once it’s charged, don’t just detach your phone—unplug the charger as well. As for space heaters, you’ll want to ensure it’s safe and energy efficient. Which brings us to our long-term solution…

Long-term solution: Insulate to your attic

If you find you’re cranking up your thermostat or plugging in space heaters, some insulation could help with your home’s heating and cooling costs. Take a peak in your attic. If the insulation is level with your floor joists, you could benefit from additional insulation. There are a lot of factors that can cause the cost of   this project to fluctuate—the type of insulation you choose, the size of your attic, whether you need to seal fixtures, whether you have mold that needs to be treated and removed or whether you have junction boxes or cables that will require an electrician to safely insulate around those areas.

What to do…

…If a strategic plan needs to be in place when both your clothes and dishes need to be washed

Quick fix: Consider your laundry and kitchen appliance approach

Wash your clothes in cool water when possible. Approximately 90% of the energy used by your washer is used to heat the water.2 So, for loads that don’t require hot water, you don’t need to expend all that extra energy to heat water. And it’s gentler on your clothes! You’ll also want to try to wash only full (but not packed-to-the brim!) loads of laundry in order for your machine to operate at peak efficiency. Once you’ve found the Goldilocks of dirty clothes, you can do the same for your fridge and dishwasher—both of which run most efficiently when full but not overstuffed.

Long-term solution: Replace your old, energy-bleeding appliances

Is your refrigerator over 10-years old? Do you have a top-loading laundry machine? Consider updating your appliances to newer models that expend significantly less energy and can help cut down your monthly utility costs. Look for ENERGY STAR®products, as they meet the energy-efficient specifications set by the EPA and use 10-50% less energy than standard appliances.3

What to do…

…If you’re last, better shower fast—you have hot water battles in your household 

Quick fix: Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators

Standard showerheads use approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), while water-saving showerheads use no more than 2 GPM. So in just a 10-minute shower, you could save 5 gallons of water.4 To reduce further water usage, you can install a low-flow aerator to your kitchen faucet. Both of these fixes not only save water but can also save your furnace from heating excess water. And if a new showerhead isn’t going to cut it…

Long-term solution: Full bathroom and/or kitchen renovation

If you’re looking for some aesthetic changes as well, this is the perfect time to ensure your upgrades are going to conserve your resources. You’ll be able to select the most up-to-date and energy efficient appliances and make structural fixes along the way. For instance, you can check for water intrusion and condensation to improve your home’s indoor air quality by eliminating mold-friendly moisture. Or you can add HVAC ducts to parts of your home that are heated and cooled. This will ensure your heating and cooling systems are working efficiently, ultimately cutting your month-to-month utility bills.

Whether you’re looking to make some small tweaks or major changes, there are so many ways to make your home more energy efficient and cut down costs. Be green—save green.

[1] Energy.gov, Update or Replace Windows

[2] Treehugger, 11 ways to green your laundry

[3] Energystar.gov, How a Product Earns the ENERGY STAR Label

[4] EPA.gov, Showerheads

By Kristen Elliott on 9/24/2018

Transforming Your Home With Wallpaper

Transforming Your Home With Wallpaper

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7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

7 Home Items That Will Absolutely Make Your Life Easier

Work smarter, not harder. That’s how the saying goes, right? Whether you need an easy entry into Smart Home living or a better answer for the dog hair and dust bunny situation, these items will help you realize that reality.

A crumb and dog hair vacuum

We were at the hairdresser when we first spotted the EyeVac Home Touchless Sensor Activated Vacuum. She swept up a big ball of hair into this wondrous little stationary machine in the corner and it gobbled it all up. Clearly this had to be purchased for a home with three shedding dogs. Magic happens when you sweep (with the included broom) crumbs and hair and anything else collecting on your floor into the slot at the bottom. You can keep your malfunctioning Rumba. We’ll take our EyeVac.

vacuum

The Airmega 400S

While this is not a budget item (it’s currently on sale for $548, down from $849, on Amazon), you can’t put a price on good air quality, right? Whether someone in your household has bad allergies or you just want to make sure you’re breathing cleaner air, this air purifier is a great option. Technological advancements make it easy to use; the built-in air quality sensor can be controlled by Airmega’s app or by Amazon’s Alexa.

A hidden trash can

If you have dogs, and if those dogs like to get in the garbage, and if you’re sick of doing things like picking up half-eaten trash strewn about your home, you’re going to love this trash can. Not only does it hide away the trash so your pets can’t get to it, but it does so while looking good. There’s a nifty DIY tutorial here, but if you want one ready-made, be sure to look for a tilt-out version. They’re easier to empty.

Tile

Why are you not using Tile yet?! If you’re the type that misplaces your keys or other important items, it’s a must-have. “Tile is one of the most popular lost item trackers on the market,” said Tech Crunch. “The company, to date, has now sold over 10 million of its Bluetooth-connected dongles that work with an app on your phone to help you find misplaced items, like your keys, purse, wallet, tablets, laptops, luggage and more. And because of the way its app works, Tile can leverage its community of millions of app users to help you find your device, even when you’re out of range. That is, if another Tile user is near your missing device, an alert with the location attached is sent to your phone.”

A gel anti-fatigue kitchen mat

If you have to spend time making dinner and/or doing the dishes, at least make sure your feet and legs are comfortable and feeling good during—and after. There’s nothing worse than sore legs from housework instead of a good workout! The rub on comfy kitchen mats has always been that you can get cute or you can get effective—but not both. That is changing, as these GelPro mats actually have some stylish options.

Dash Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker

We first saw this on vacation, where it was perched next to the buffet table, cooking up soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. You’ll want one, too, since it can “perfectly cook 12 eggs in less time than it takes to boil water,” said Dash, making “omelettes, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, and poached eggs.” Plus, it can “steam vegetables, seafood, dumplings, warm tortillas, and more.”

The Snap SmartCam for home security

“This is one of the most perfect gadgets you could want for home security,” saidMoney Inc. “Though it looks like a USB charger, it isn’t. It is a full HD 1080p resolution security camera that will watch your home while you are away at work, shopping, or any other necessary daily task. No batteries are required. But the advantages just keep on coming.The Snap SmartCam will continuously record the activities inside your home, and when it reaches the end of its maximum recording capacity it continues by overwriting the earliest videos on the device. You can download the recorded videos is you want to retain them for your records. Oh, the USB appearance not only conceals the security camera, but it actually functions as a charger.”

How to Keep Your Jewelry Safe While You Sell Your Home

How to Keep Your Jewelry Safe While You Sell Your Home

How to Keep Your Jewelry Safe While You Sell Your Home

It’s an unfortunate fact that thieves often target homes on the real estate market. Sometimes these thieves are serial offenders, but they can also be prospective buyers or real estate agents gone rogue.

To minimize temptation, store your valuables, especially fine jewelry, in a safe and secure place whenever you have potential buyers or agents in your home. Avoid leaving valuables unsecured in easy-to-access areas. We’ve outlined several ways to avoid mistakes and keep your valuables safe before and while you sell your home.

Before Listing Your Home

Protecting your belongings starts before your home even goes on the market. Complete these simple tasks ahead of time to ensure that you can protect yourself and recover any losses if something goes wrong.

1. Make sure you have a detailed receipt or appraisal for each piece of jewelry. A detailed receipt will have information about each item’s metal and diamonds or precious gemstones. It should also have the price you paid or a current estimate of the piece’s value. These documents will be very useful in the event something does happen to your valuables.

2. As you begin the process of listing your home and staging your house for pictures or virtual tours, take jewelry boxes off the counters and remove jewelry cabinets or armoires from view. Criminals often case homes using the listing photos, so don’t leave any signs of fine jewelry in these promotional images.

3. We’re focusing on your precious jewelry and valuables, but you can also apply these tips to any item someone may be tempted to steal.

While Your Home is on the Market

Now that you’ve appraised your jewelry and removed it from sight, let’s talk about how to protect your belongings while strangers visit your home.

Lock it up — Most real estate experts will tell you that the best way to keep any item safe is to lock it up. It’s not as simple as “out of sight, out of mind”; you don’t know who might open drawers or cabinets during an open house. Find a secure place that you can store your valuables, such as a safe or a locking drawer. If you don’t have a safe or secure place to lock away your jewelry, consider renting a safety deposit box while your home is on the market.

Find a friend — Your friends and neighbors will be sad to see you go, but you might be able to ask them for one last favor. Ask a trusted friend to babysit your valuables temporarily. Explain that you’d like to keep them out of the house while strangers are present, and be willing to reward them with homemade treats or a bottle of wine for their generosity. But before you ask, make sure they’re a good candidate for the job. Do they have small children who get into everything, or do they have contractors or other strangers in their home? No matter what, secure your pieces in a locked box before you take them over.

Take it with you — This won’t work for everyone, as some agents bring prospective buyers over when you’re out of the house. But if you require your agent to give you notice whenever they schedule a visit, this option may be the perfect fit for you. Keep your valuables ready to lock up and take with you before the appointment begins. This option may be the most difficult in today’s housing market, since many buyers want to see your home on short notice.

Whichever solution you choose, make sure to put your pieces into soft velvet pouches, jewelry boxes, or small plastic bags. This storage technique will keep each item separate and safe from scratching, tangling, or other damage. Check your homeowner’s policy to make sure your policy covers valuables. Your diamonds may be covered against chipping, cracking and loss from the mounting by your jeweler, but loss and theft of the entire ring may not be covered. If you need additional coverage, it’s best to know as soon as possible.

Selling a home can be a stressful time, but these steps will save you from worrying about your valuables. With some creativity and planning, you can rest assured knowing that prospective buyers won’t be tempted to take anything that’s not theirs.

 

4 tips to transform your closet

Chris Williams

Coldwell Banker RR Mesquite

888-346-8007

Get Ready for Your Master Closet Reno

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6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

We’re coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re looking to sell. Whether you’re just getting ready to list your home or haven’t had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it – and you – moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isn’t selling is to lower the price. (Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely won’t get you the sale you’re looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down.) ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, but…if it’s not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this (maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price), you probably already know why it’s not selling.

Here’s how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when it’s sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps you’re looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, you’re delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesn’t sell is another month you’re in a holding pattern. And, it means you’re spending more money on carrying costs if you’ve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are it’s more than the money you’ll miss out on if you sell for less. Once you’ve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTOR®

Another “Duh” statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend who’s just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or relative may be eager, they might not have the depth of understanding of sales trends to strategize the best listing price, or the negotiation skills to get the deal done. The relationships a seasoned agent has with other industry professionals is also key to a quick and profitable sale.

Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. (If it’s not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order.) But don’t skip your front door while you’re trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed (or new, if needed) front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. It’s an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

“When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black – from charcoal to jet – fetched $6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. “Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyer’s mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for.”

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they won’t have enough space for their stuff, they won’t be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff – and your personal taste – away

“Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You’ll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You don’t want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there,” said The Balance. “This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, “I’m unique!” you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces.”

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or it’s otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

“Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home’s owner,” said Investopedia. “By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in. Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they’ll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.”

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