Help Sellers With Built-Ins

Recently I previewed a few homes that had several things in common. The most common and noticeable amenity that stood out was the extensive bookshelves and cabinetry each home had. Each house had a different feel and the cabinetry was what set each one apart. I just stumbled on this related article and found the answer I was looking for.
Bookshelves and cabinetry incorporated within a home’s architecture once was equated with grandeur, offering homeowners the opportunity to showcase personal treasures and knickknacks. But over time, the pieces may look dated. Here are updating ideas with pizzazz that buyers may love.

built in bookcases

Built-in cabinetry, whether part of a home’s initial design or added to organize and display books, artwork, or knickknacks, has long offered a way for homeowners to introduce a distinctive look to their interior. But with the rise of digital media and minimalist decor, buyers these days may have less of a need for this once widely coveted storage feature.

In addition, pieces constructed years or decades ago may feature materials, hardware, or ornamentation that now looks passé. Even newer units designed to house entertainment equipment—hugely popular in the ’80s and ’90s—look dated thanks to wall-hung flat-screen TVs, wireless speakers, and streaming music apps.

Sellers can usually remove built-ins without causing structural problems, but the process of ripping them out, hauling them away, and patching and painting newly exposed walls, floors, and ceilings is expensive, says Chicago designer Mitchell Putlack: “I recommend leaving them unless they’re so outdated. In most cases, they can be remodeled.”

But even when sellers choose to leave them in, questions may arise about how to improve their appearance. You may even want raise the subject with seller clients. “You don’t want to create an awkward discussion point with a potential buyer about how they’ll be handled,” says Jennifer Howard, owner of JWH Design & Cabinetry in suburban New York. Here are five changes you can suggest to give built-ins a new, hip lifeline.

  • Paint or restain. When a house has similar architectural details to the built-ins, simply freshening up the look with an updated paint color or a lighter stain can be an eye-catching, inexpensive solution, says Decorating Den designer Sandy Kozar of Knoxville, Tenn. Try a color that matches the trim in the room for continuity, says Howard. Generally, painting is less expensive than staining, says Putlack. But always go with quality paint in a semigloss or gloss finish that can withstand the wear and tear of books and other storage, says Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange of Jessica Lagrange Interiors.
  • Remove elaborate pilasters and molding that don’t fit the home’s style. Although such millwork was probably lovingly crafted, it may be too fussy for buyers who lean toward simplicity. Removing any over-the-top embellishments and leaving the rest of the built-in requires minimal touch-up work, says Putlack.
  • Change hardware. An easy switch-out is replacing knobs or pulls. However, these trends typically change fast, so make sure you’re up on the latest looks. Brass has become less popular in recent years, though washed brass is making inroads. Two finishes on the chic list nowadays are polished chrome and satin nickel, says Kozar. Often the shape of the hardware makes a big difference in the impression it leaves. Long skinny pulls have a more modern feel than round or octagonal ones.
  • Change or remove cabinet and drawer fronts. If doors are overly ornate for the space, Jody Goodman Dinan, a salesperson with The Dinan Team of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Boston, often suggests switching them out for flat or Shaker style panels. Homeowners can also remove fronts entirely and finish the resulting edges, turning closed cabinetry into shelving. Designers at Chicago custom home builder BGD&C find that running shelves high on a wall offers a feeling of grandeur, while keeping the shelves open offers a greater sense of scale. A rolling ladder offers an eye-catching way to access the uppermost reaches.
  • Install lighting. Adding bulbs at the top or sides of shelves can highlight displays and add drama. And by using battery-powered LEDs, homeowners can often avoid hiring an electrician. Select bulbs that work on dimmers to vary light levels and moods, says Lagrange.

When sellers don’t want to undertake this effort and expense, consider suggesting they include a computer-generated rendering or blueprint drawing that shows buyers how the room can look with any of these changes, says Dinan.

How Built-ins Can Maximize Space

Interior designers are using new and existing storage features to align homes with the needs of today’s buyers and sellers.

August 2017

| BY Barbara Ballinger

How Your Clients Misunderstand Mortgages

I found this bit of info important to share. Before a buyer looks to purchase a home the buyer should understand the total process involved from start to finish. The first step a buyer should take is find a competent and knowledgeable real estate Agent. Especially if a buyer does not understand obtaining a mortgage. According to the information there are those that think they fully understand mortgages.

Americans significantly lack understanding about minimum mortgage qualification criteria, particularly renters who plan to buy a home within the next five years, according to a survey of 3,868 consumers by Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group

When asked about key mortgage qualification criteria — down-payment percentages, borrower’s credit scores, and debt-to-income ratios — about half of consumers answered with “don’t know” or failed to provide a valid answer, according to the survey.

For those consumers who did provide an answer, many respondents thought the requirement for a minimum down payment was four times larger than Fannie Mae’s actual figure of 3 percent. When it came to minimum credit scores, many thought the requirement was 652 — when in actuality, Fannie Mae’s requirement is 620.

The survey also showed, not surprisingly, that consumers cite lenders as one of the most influential sources of mortgage information, but real estate professionals follow closely behind along with family and friends.

Prior Fannie Mae surveys have shown that “the aspiration to own a home remains strong and that consumers perceive the down payment and their credit scores as leading obstacles to obtaining a mortgage,” notes Mark Palim, Fannie Mae’s vice president of Applied Economic and Housing Research. “Advancing from aspiration to sustainable home ownership is more likely to occur if consumers have an accurate understanding of the requirements to qualify for a mortgage. While it can take years to improve one’s credit score or save for a down payment, undertaking such efforts based on inaccurate information may lead to a needless delay in reaching the goal of owning a home.”  Source: Fannie Mae

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3 Ways to Buy Remotely With Confidence

It may seem impractical to purchase a home sight unseen, but one in five buyers have made an offer on a property without ever visiting it, according to a recent BusinessWire survey of 2,134 Americans. It’s a risky way to buy, so for those who can’t be there for an in-person showing and need to rely on the Internet to come to a purchase decision, here are a few tips to help them feel more confident that they’re making the right choice:

  1. Get a bird’s eye view. Buyers should not only look at the home but also the neighborhood and surrounding area. “I recommend [buyers] look at Google Earth and do Street View to get a good feel for their area,” says Benjamin Beaver, an agent in San Angelo, Texas. Beaver says that he’ll do a video tour of the neighborhood for his clients to pinpoint any possible noise issues, such as from a nearby highway, that wouldn’t be identified through online listing photos. Video tours also allow buyers to see every angle of the home itself — not just the most flattering ones depicted in listing photos. “I think it gives buyers that confidence of OK, I know what I’m getting here,” he says.
  2. Hire an inspector. A home inspector can uncover any potential problems, but they are usually hired after an offer is made. For remote buyers, however, you could ask an inspector to skim the home’s online photos, and they may be able to spot glaring issues sellers are trying to hide, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Also remote buyers should ask an inspector once they are able to do an in-person evaluation about any odor issues, such as from a dank basement. Those are issues remote buyers can’t identify for themselves online.
  3. Request a walk-through contingency. Negotiate a walk-through contingency into a contract, which will provide a safeguard if the home doesn’t measure up to expectations in person. The buyer will then be able to walk through the property before signing papers at closing. But as is the case with any contingency, sellers don’t have to agree to it and may demand a higher purchase price in order to comply.

On line photos can tell a lot about a property. Most competent and Agents take many photos and offer virtual tours. I also advocate providing a lot of info describing the total picture of what is being offered. No trickery just honest statements of facts.

HAPPY HOUSE HUNTING

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Judging a Home by Its Driveway

A driveway can boost curb appeal and set the tone for an entire home. Buyers may want to carefully assess not only the condition of the driveway but also the logistics of it too, particularly if they have to share one.

The condition of the driveway can even be a potential deal breaker for some buyers. “Cracks and crumbling, sunken areas in a driveway usually mean there are weeds growing underneath,” according to a recent blog post at Century 21’s real estate blog. That could lead to the option of having to tear apart and repaving the entire driveway if the cracks are bad enough.

“Looks matter in a lot of departments, including your driveway,” notes the blog post at Century 21. “Gravel driveways are economically easy to make and maintain, while a timeless cobblestone path gives the home upscale undertones. Attractive paths tend to lead towards more impressive interiors, so the bar is already set high from the moment you park the car.”

Also, an added sales point for some driveways has become a driveway sensor. A driveway sensor can detect suspicious movement around the entrance of a home and alert the family whether home or away.

Home buyers, mostly in urban neighborhoods, also may want to carefully consider the pros and cons if they have to share a driveway with neighbors. This may require constant communication in the early morning hours in coordinating the parking arrangements.

Not all homes are in perfect condition. The older the home the more likely situations and problems will occur. All though health and safety issues are the most important cosmetic issues will play an important part as to whether a Buyer will proceed. First impressions of any object leave a lasting impression in a person’s mind. Driveways, landscaping, exterior of the home whether it be damaged or an awful color will make a HUGE difference as to whether or not a Buyer will preview the home. Many times in my long career in real estate I’ve pulled up to a home and the Buyer says “no way”.

Remember that home maintenance is an on going process.  Stay on top of the “honey do’s”. When the time comes to sell your home for top dollar you’ll stand a better chance of making more $$$.

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More Sellers, Buyers Say: We Need an Agent

Fewer home sellers and buyers are opting to navigate their home sale or purchase on their own, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report. Nearly 90 percent of respondents surveyed say they worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.

That has pushed for-sale-by-owner transactions to the lowest share ever, according to the survey.Eighty-nine percent of sellers said they sold their home with an agent, while for-sale-by-owner sales only accounted for about 8 percent of transactions (down from 9 percent the last three years).

“Although the Internet and digital technology have created several channels for sellers to market their listings to a wider cast of potential buyers, the preference to use a REALTOR® to sell a home has never been stronger,” says NAR’s president.

The majority of home buyers reported that the Internet was their first step in their home search. Still, 88 percent of buyers who searched for homes online ended up purchasing through a real estate agent.

“Although buyers between the ages of 18-24 were the most likely to use an agent (90 percent), over 85 percent of buyers in each of the other age categories also used an agent during their home search,” Polychron says. “With tight inventory conditions leading to stiff competition in several parts of the country and what’s found online sometimes not entirely accurate, buyers are turning to REALTORS® for expert advice and assistance in navigating today’s fast-moving housing market.”

The home search resources that are gaining the most popularity lately are mobile and tablet applications, increasing from 45 percent in 2013 to 61 percent use among buyers this year.

I’m pleased to say that in my 23 years of experience not one Client has regretted my services. There were a few bumps in the road along the way but nothing that couldn’t be resolved. My customer surveys have me at a 97% customer satisfaction rating. My work ethics and moral values have never wavered and I’m committed to those attributes.

Should you ever have any curious questions or concerns regarding real estate matters and information please don’t hesitate to contact me. If I don’t have the answer for you I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction.

Source: NAR

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