When it comes to home improvement, the options are endless. While many homeowners have their sights set on a huge overhaul (hello five-star kitchen complete with the latest and greatest appliances and gadgets), simple home updates that can be completed in a timely manner—without breaking the bank—typically offer the best return on your investment.
If you’re itching to upgrade your home, whether with your own two hands or by bringing in a certified contractor, consider the following ideas:
Change the Hardware. If a complete kitchen or bathroom overhaul is out of the budget, don’t write these rooms off your list just yet. By simply replacing the hardware (drawer pulls, knobs) and faucets, you can create an entirely different look. If you’re feeling really adventurous, and in the mood for a more drastic effect, you can even paint the cabinets. Or, dress up the kitchen with a decorative backsplash that ties the whole room together.
Add a Little Paint. Do all the rooms in your home blend together because they’re painted the same color? Painting an accent wall is a great way to help a room ‘pop.’ Whether it’s in the kitchen, living room, dining room (or any other room in the home), an accent wall is a simple way to incorporate a color you love into the space without going overboard. If you’re content with the walls just the way they are, another popular alternative is to paint the ceiling.
Update the Entryway. An inviting entryway is just as important for creating a good first impression among visitors as it is among prospective buyers. Wow your guests—and even your family—with an updated facade. From (re)painting the front door to incorporating vinyl door decals to welcome visitors in style, updating the front of your home is a surefire way to create a welcoming environment.
Install Hardwood Floors. Hardwood floors are a popular choice among homeowners looking to update their space, and with a little elbow grease and know-how, avid do-it-yourselfers can complete the look with their own two hands. Tongue-and-groove flooring that fits together like a puzzle is a safe bet for anyone looking to get their hands dirty in home improvement projects this season.
Add a Porch/Patio. Whether they’re semi-enclosed, attached to the home’s front entrance or built at ground level, the addition of a porch/patio extends a home’s living space. From adding value to your home to upping its curb appeal, if you have the space, this is one project you should move to the top of your to-do list.
No matter what type of home improvement project you choose to undertake, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to call in reinforcement, especially when it comes to projects you might not be able to tackle on your own.
“When considering completing any home improvement project, you should consider the value of hiring a general contractor,” says Lance Malcolm, chief operating officer of Contractor Connection. “An experienced contractor can be the difference between keeping the project moving forward smoothly or being delayed.”
3 Ways to Get Creative With Lighting
In today’s day and age, choosing the right lighting for your space can be an overwhelming proposition. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three out-of-the-box ideas you can—and should—put into play.
Light unexpected spaces. There’s no need to settle for simple overhead lighting. Up ambiance and interest in a room by lighting a strip along the floor or beneath a kitchen counter. Place rope or strip lights along the edge of your staircase for easy navigation in the dark, or add indirect lighting under or above cabinets in the kitchen.
Light in layers. When planning lighting design for a room, think lighting in three main layers: overhead lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Think a chandelier or ceiling fixture to cover overhead, table lamps for task lighting, and a few specialty spots for accent lighting—frame lighting around the bed frame in your bedroom, for example, or light a few of your favorite pieces of art to draw attention to them.
Don’t forget to dim. Considering that dimmer switches run a scant $25, there’s no reason not to have them in your home. Control your space’s mood and ambience for a small cost, and enjoy a slightly smaller utility bill – the American Lighting Association sites that a dimmer switch saves an average of $30 a year.
What are Closing Costs, and how much should I expect them to be?
The term "Closing Costs" refer to all the charges you’ll pay before your loan is completed and you can close on your New Home. Most of these fees are not exactly Lender Fees, but rather from a third party who is assisting in the coordination of closing your loan.
These fees can include everything from Origination Fees, Title Insurance, Prepaid Interest, Prepaid Escrows (Taxes and Homeowners Insurance), County Recording Fees, Appraisal Fee, Points (if you decided to buy a lower rate), Tax Proration, and more… Closing costs can vary significantly from program to program but generally, expect to pay roughly 2-3% of the homes sales price in “Closing Costs”.
There are a couple ways to reduce these costs for our Buyers if they need assistance or feel they need an incentive to buy the home. We have all heard of Concessions from the Seller. Depending on the Down Payment size, Fannie Mae allows for Concessions to come in anywhere from 3-9% on Primary Homes.
Another commonly used strategy, especially with First Time Homebuyers, is to take a Lender Credit. Rather than buying points to decrease the Interest Rate over the life of their mortgage, Borrowers have the option to take a slightly higher Interest Rate and receive Points toward their Closing Costs. The maximum Lender Credit can vary from program to program, but many times can be used to cover everything except the Down Payment (depending on where the market is each day). When a Gift is used for the Down Payment, it may even be possible for the homebuyer to have NO Borrower Contribution at all.
Some may ask, why would we suggest our clients take a higher Interest Rate to accomplish this? It makes sense for some, and it does not make sense for others. For one, it may help your clients have some extra cash to put into their home right away, maybe cover moving costs or new cabinets, etc. The important thing your clients will want to discuss with their Lender is the Breakeven on this investment and what they should do to manage their Interest Paid. Your Lender should help your clients figure out what makes sense for their goals. If your clients choose to be financially savvy, they can pay extra toward their principle every month and reduce their effective Interest Rate on their own. These strategies have pros and cons, so speaking with a Loan Officer to better understand the risk/reward is always the best idea. Of course, there are Refinancing Strategies for that Savvy Homebuyer as well, but that is an entirely different conversation.
Source: James Turner, Motto Mortgage
How Not to Sell Your Home
While the fundamentals of home staging, like decluttering and removing family photos, are critical when it comes to getting your home sold, it’s just as important to focus on what not to do as certain factors can act as immediate deal breakers to would-be buyers. Make sure your for-sale home doesn’t include any of the following turn-offs:
Odors. Whether it’s pet odors, last night’s stir fry or that musty basement, any type of strong odor can be an immediate deterrent to a buyer, no matter how beautifully your home is decorated or staged. We usually get accustomed to our home’s unique scent, so have a professional cleaner do the necessary work to make the environment odor-free.
Artwork. While all art is certainly subjective, keep in mind that not everyone will appreciate artwork with severe subject matter or nudity. Stick to subtle landscapes and still life subject matter, or remove artwork altogether. Sparsely decorated walls will make your home appear more spacious.
Collections. Your shelves of antique dolls or Norman Rockwell plates might be your most prized possession, but for prospective homebuyers who don’t share the same affinity, collections can skew their opinion of your home - not to mention, make it appear very cluttered. Pack away your beloved collectibles in preparation for their new home.
People. Sometimes, being present during showings can be a plus - you can provide buyers with certain details about your home and what you love most about the neighborhood. But most people don’t want the owners present when they tour a home. So clear out and give them the freedom to pour over every detail of your home and make honest comments to the REALTORS.
Weeds. Curb appeal really is everything, so if your yard isn’t up to snuff, buyers may turn around before they ever step foot inside. There’s no need to break the bank - just make sure the basics are covered: mow the lawn, weed borders and beds, trim bushes and trees, and remove all sticks, leaves and debris.
For more tips and advice on getting your home in perfect condition to list, contact me.
Home Security Systems: What to Know before Buying
Everyone wants to protect their home, their property, and most of all, their families. In fact, market research suggests the home security business is growing at a rate of about 9 percent a year. But home security systems are not all alike.
Some systems can not only warn you of intruders, but can also notify authorities, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or include video surveillance. Mot security alarm installers can provide services that include equipment plus installation and monitoring service.
If you are thinking about buying a home security system, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you:
- Get references from friends, neighbors or relatives.
- Check out companies online and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.
- Verify that the contractor’s license is in good standing via the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.
- Get written estimates from several companies.
- Read the fine print regarding costs, installation timeline, warranty, and an explanation of your right to cancel within three days of signing a contract.
- Ask lots of questions:
Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
Does the company call you before notifying the police?
How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
What happens if the alarm company can't reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
- Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?
Source: rismedia sept 2017
The 10 Paint Colors Designers Use Most
With hundreds of paint colors to choose from, selecting the shades just right for your home can be daunting. Good Housekeeping magazine recently rounded up the top 10 paint colors most often used by professional home designers. Get inspired by them:
1. Palladian Blue – By Benjamin Moore, this blue-green-grey shade can be used in any room, and is especially ideal for cooling down a sun-filled room or adding tranquility to a bedroom.
2. Garden Stone – By Clark+Kensington, this classic warm grey shade is a designer favorite projected to stand the test of time.
3. Manchester Tan – By Benjamin Moore, this shade is a go-to warm neutral favored because it changes with the light, going from rich to fresh.
4. Compatible Cream – By Sherwin Williams, this creamy yellow shade is warm and inviting, but not too sunny.
5. Intense White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade gives off a light grey-ish tone. Designers use it as a backdrop for rooms with brightly colored furniture.
6. Sprout 0.6 – By Colorhouse, this shade has a slightly pinkish hue, and is often chosen for ceilings because it reflects flatteringly on people in the room.
7. Revere Pewter – By Benjamin Moore, this fail-safe neutral shade is the perfect alternative to white, ideal for open floor plans with just a hint of color.
8. Decorator’s White – By Benjamin Moore, this shade has pure white undertones that provide a crisp, clean look on ceilings or trim, or in bathrooms.
9. Essential Grey – By Sherwin Williams, this shade is best paired with white trim for a clean, sophisticated aesthetic.
10. Wool Skein – By Sherwin Williams, this neutral shade coordinates well with any color.
RE/MAX releases June Metro Detroit Housing Report, Home Prices up 7.5 Percent
RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan today released its latest housing report of metro Detroit for the month of June.
The shortage of available homes continues to impact the market, driving up home prices. A total of 5,271 homes were sold this June, meaning home sales have increased 0.6 percent from last year. Home prices are 7.5 percent higher than last year, with a June median sales price of $206,502. Oakland County saw the biggest increase in home prices over last year at 10 percent. However, Livingston, Macomb, and Oakland counties each saw decreases in total home sales.
The average number of days on market (from listing to signed contract) for June was 28 days, which is down 11 days from last year.
“Median sales prices continued their way upward while many counties saw a slip dip in actual homes sold,” says Jeanette Schneider, vice president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan. “This is a result of buyer demand outpacing available inventory. While the market is favoring sellers at the moment and they are seeing their home value rise, buyers can still take advantage of favorable interest rates when they find the right home.”
National housing trends show home sales are up 1.4 percent from last year with a median sales price of $245,000.
The data for local market and county-specific trends is supplied by Boards of Realtors and their Multiple Listing Services. National housing trends are based on MLS data in 53 metro areas with at least one metro from each state.
Source: 2017 Daily News
6 easy, affordable smart home features that could help you sell your house faster
Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 — when you're selling your home, you'll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.
"Smart home features are designed to make homes more convenient, appealing, secure and energy-efficient — all of which are bonuses when you're trying to sell a house," says Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX, LLC. "Sellers who want to move their homes faster may benefit from adding smart features that make their properties more appealing to tech-minded buyers."
According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That's a 64 percent increase from 2015.
Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers' attention and help sell your home faster:
Keyless/remote entry door locks
Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock — available from multiple manufacturers — you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.
From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.
DIY security systems
Don't want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.
The Internet of Things (IoT) — everyday objects that have network connectivity — includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you — and each other — wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone — so if you leave the house and can't remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.
While appliances aren't always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.
One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.
Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today's home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family's needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.
"Many of these smart home features are surprisingly easy and affordable to install," Lewis says. "Sellers who are open to the idea of investing a little money to possibly help get a speedier sale, may want to consider adding the smart features buyers will be looking for in 2017."
And the Paint Forecast Is...Gray
Despite the fickle nature of interior design trends, when it comes to paint, gray is always topping the charts.
"Gray, in all its variations, has emerged as the overwhelming choice of designers for spaces ranging from home interiors to elegant office settings, and everything in between," says Debbie Zimmer, color expert for the Paint Quality Institute.
What’s makes gray a popular color? Versatility, says Zimmer. "Gray is beautiful in its own right, but it is so perfectly neutral that it can work alongside other soft tints, or serve as a perfect foil for vibrant accent colors."
According to Zimmer, the color we refer to as gray is actually a wide range of complex grayish colors that often contain hints of red, green, blue, yellow, or some other hue.
Yellowish-grays paired with beiges or off-whites create neutral color schemes that are not only classic, but also calming. Similar results can be achieved with blue-grays. Meanwhile, red- or green-leaning grays often appear ultra-sophisticated.
Grays are practical, too. Since they work with so many colors, it's easy to change the overall appearance of a room by simply repainting an accent wall in a different shade, or adding a pop of color with pillows, rugs, wall décor or ceramics.
If you've decided to use gray as the dominant color in a room, get a variety of samples and paint swatches on your walls. See how different shades look in the various stages of natural and artificial light throughout the day, as well as how they complement your floors and furnishings. Zimmer also suggests asking the salesperson to show you the color formula. Pigment colors blended into the "gray" paint point to the colors you should choose for trim paint, accent walls, and even furnishings.
So, if you've jumped on board with the gray trend, rest assured that your home design is still on point. And if you want to join in now, it's still not too late to “go gray"!
Source: Paint Quality Institute
5 Closing Mistakes to Avoid
The seller has accepted your offer, the inspector didn't find any underground streams or shaky foundations, and the closing date is set. You're in the homestretch! While you can breathe a little easier, remember, the deal's not done until everyone signs all the (zillion) documents at the closing table. And, your lender can still change their mind. Here are 5 closing mistakes to avoid when buying a home.
1. Don't mess with your income-to-debt ratio
The ratio of your monthly income to your monthly debts is one of the main factors the lender considered when qualifying you. And your lender will probably run your financials two or three more times before closing. While it's tempting, don't take out a big loan for the new deck you want to install when you move into your new place. Don't sign the lease on the new Audi that will look perfect in your new driveway. The bank looks at lease payments like any other debt payment.
2. Don't disappear
Be sure to keep in touch with your lender and be readily available to immediately address any last-minute concerns.
3. Don't change jobs
Lenders love stability. Switching jobs right before closing can make them anxious, and you want to give them every reason to feel confident. Most lenders prefer to have a two-year job history in hand, so making a big career move could slow things down, or squash the deal entirely.
4. Don't open new credit cards
Yes, you'll be buying furniture to fill those lovely rooms. Yes, you might need a new fridge. And yes, new dishes to match the new kitchen would be splendid. But resist the lure of opening new credit cards until after closing. Doing so can affect your credit score. For now, just open catalogs.
5. Don't be late
Even though you may have been riding the real estate roller coaster and life's been chaotic, be sure to stay current with all bill payments. Late payments, too, can affect that all-important credit score.