How Much Is A Well Maintained Lawn Worth?

Guest Post by Bryan Ostlund

Home buying season is here which means homeowners  are looking for ways to improve their homes to get the most value.

Did you know that improving the lawn is one of the most cost effective ways to increase property value? Unlike other home improvement projects, landscaping can provide a 100%-200% return on your investment and has been known to increase a home’s overall value by as much as 15 percent.

*Stat via www.TheLawnInstitute.org

Lawns are appealing to buyers not only because they are aesthetically pleasing but because they extend the living area of a home, providing an ideal setting for outdoor recreation, entertainment and relaxation. Through the use of sod, grass can also be a quick way to establish natural and self-repairing landscapes perfect for increasing curb appeal when selling a home, or establishing a lawn at a new residence.

Here are some of our best tips for taking care of your lawn:

Watering

  • Avoid overwatering. Water thoroughly once or twice a week during cooler hours rather than frequent light mistings

Mowing

  • Mow during cooler hours, and only when the grass is dry, to reduce stress on the turf
  • Keep mower blades sharp and cut no more than one-third of the grass height at a time.

 Fertilization

  • Clippings left on the lawn will provide nutrients to the soil, reducing fertilizer requirements.
  • Fertilize at least once a year. The type and timing will be determined by the grass variety and the climate, so talk to a turf expert at your local garden center for advice.

Weed control

  • The best defense against weeds is a thick lawn. Lawn grasses will easily outcompete weeds when the conditions favor the grass.
  • Talk to a turf expert. Weeds are often an indication of a soil problem that is making the ground more hospitable to weeds than to your grass.

For homeowners who want to ensure that their lawns deliver full aesthetic, recreational and economic value, Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and agricultural educators, offers the following tips for growing a healthy, attractive lawn (linked here).

Bryan Ostlund is executive director of Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists that seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.weseedamerica.com or connect on Twitter @weseedamerica.

 See more of the beautiful property listed above here.

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How To Choose The Right Front Door

A few years ago we did an addition on our house. Even though it was a massive job where we refinanced to a larger mortgage, everything added up and prevented us from doing some of the little things we wanted to.

Like replace the antiquated and quite ugly front door!

But three years later it was time. So off I went to explore the world of new front doors. And my belief that “a door is a door” is just way wrong!

I spent a lot of time reading and learning and realized I had never shopped for a front door before. They just came with the house or previous apartments. I essentially went to door school!

I started online and found a great resource at This Old House.   From there and other online sites, it was then just plain ole detective work, store visits and lots of questions.

I found out there are three major types of doors: Wood, metal and fiberglass.

From what I learned here are the basic advantages and disadvantages of each for a standard 36 x 80 door:

Wood: Looks amazing. It is the most common with the most choices. I turned away from wood because several different sales people explained that you have to routinely protect the wood with new coats of paint or polyurethane. After restaining my deck, I’m wasn’t for another outside paint job.

Steel: Cheaper and sturdiest for protection. But clearly not in the wood category of looks. Plus I figured one errant baseball and the thing would ding like my Honda CRV.

Fiberglass: I had no idea this option even existed. It combines the beauty of wood and durability. Pricing seemed to be in the middle of the previous two options. No maintenance required! I was hooked and found one that passed the looks test.

The next step was the screen door. Again, who knew there were so many options? The only thing I thought was a “must have” was the little sliding piece that keeps the door locked open when you bring things in/out of the house. How 1970s of me! Not only did I learn they have more modern foot-tap versions of that feature but the doors come in a variety of styles. We choose a see-through version simply because we could leave the front door open and give our dog an automatic sunbathing option.

Now onto the doorknob. Again a variety of options, but we made an assumption that all have the same locking systems. Wrong again! The one we bought didn’t have the ability to lock from the inside when leaving. We would have to get used to turning the key every time we left. No way! I learned what we really wanted was a two-point locking system. Now I know why my parents used to yell at me and my sisters to “double lock” the house!

As far installation, you’re on your own. We hired someone!

Check out our before and after!

The post How To Choose The Right Front Door appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

6 Tips to Make Your Home For Sale Stand Out

The following is a guest post from Franz Diessner & Joe Overland with Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, WA.

Bringing your home to the market presents a variety of questions, challenges and doubts for every seller.  When it’s time to select your real estate broker, pay careful attention to the suggestions they provide on how to best showcase your home.  An experienced listing broker will provide valuable insight on buyer expectations and guide you on how to position your home against competing properties.

Although many real estate markets across the country are experiencing strong, even robust buyer demand, sellers can’t take that for granted.  Here are some expert tips to make your home stand out against competitors:

Curb Appeal – Take a drive through the neighborhood.  Does your home blend in? If so, how can you make it stand out?  It could be simple fixes like new porch lights, power washing the sidewalks and driveway, fertilizing your lawn, and planting seasonal flowers.  A yard in bloom always sells best.  A yard in gloom means doom.  Take care of those pesky weeds, blackberry bushes, or overgrown shrubs.  Sometimes bigger projects are needed.  When was the last time you painted the house?  You might be overdue.

Interior Condition – What’s that smell?  I’m not sure, but it needs to go away!  Sometimes it’s in the carpet.  Sometimes it’s in the paint.  Wherever it is, find it and fix it.  Before you put your home on the market, make sure it gets a thorough cleaning.  Does your home feel dated?  I keep hearing brass is back!  That doesn’t mean the dining room light fixture you installed in 1982 is relevant now.  It’s time for a refresh!  There’s no need to spend gobs of cash, but a home that feels current will always fetch a higher price.  Simple fixes can help you overcome buyer’s negative feedback before they ever walk through the door.  Sometimes a homeowner’s idea of “style” doesn’t resonate with buyers.  Positioning your home for mass market appeal using neutral paint, fixtures and furnishings will help the offers start rolling in.

Staging – Less is more.  Take down the family photos. Thin out the bookcases, knick-knacks, lace doilies, etc.  You know who you are!  It’s time to admit it, then let your real estate broker help you.  This is the hardest step in the process for mort sellers and typically where brokers get the most push-back.  Coming to the realization that you’re actually moving can be difficult, especially when you’re leaving behind so many wonderful memories.  Just remember, you’re not selling the memories, just the house.  The best approach is to pack like you’re ready to move.  You’re going to have to do it eventually.  If you’re going to live in the home while it’s on the market, it may be a good idea to accessorize with some staging items to help complete your furnishings.  If the home is vacant, talk with your broker about having the home professionally staged.  Buyers have a hard time visualizing furniture in an empty space.  Will it fit?  Give them something to help them envision the space.

Professional Photography – If your real estate broker doesn’t do it… find a different broker! Over 90% of buyers start their search online.  The photos they see are your home’s first impression and photos of vacant rooms are downright boring.  Buyer’s click past them without a second look.  Give them something to focus on and they’ll linger to imagine living in that space.  This is a no-brainer.

Deferred Maintenance – Remember that honey-do list?  Did you ever get any of those things done?  It’s time to start.  Buyers don’t need a home to be perfectly remodeled, but they do want to know a home has been well maintained.  Before you list, make sure to take care of the projects you’ve been procrastinating on. From the roof to the basement, they’re hidden all over.  Walk through your home with your real estate broker and decide which ones should be done before the For Sale sign goes up.  Things like cleaning the roof & gutters, furnace maintenance, paint touch-ups, checking the crawl space & attic, and fixing dripping faucets will help make inspections go more smoothly.

Identify Your Target Buyer – Your real estate broker can develop a buyer profile to determine who the likely buyers are in your area.  Use the buyer profile to assist in deciding which projects to focus on before listing your home for sale.

Regardless of location or home value, these universal tips will help your home stand out against the competition.  It takes a lot of work to get your home ready for the market.  Sometimes sellers find it so daunting that the tasks become overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance.  Just remember that all the time and energy you put into the market preparation will often result in a far better selling experience at the negotiation table.

The post 6 Tips to Make Your Home For Sale Stand Out appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Getting ready to sell your house? We asked our global Coldwell Banker network for their best advice for those prepping their homes. Check out what they had to say.

Get Inspected

sell1 Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Get the home inspected and address any necessary repairs now before it becomes an issue during negotiations.” says Susan Heckman, Marketing Coordinator for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. At the same time you should also check with your town to ensure there are no open permits on your home.

Believe me, I know how scary the word inspection is but this is one of those things that will hang over your head until it gets done. Make the appointment and get it off your mind now.

Curb Appeal Matters

The first impression of your home is incredibly important. Buyers who have the ability to do a “drive by” will and if what they see on the outside doesn’t look good then chances are they are going to skip on checking out the inside.

“Buyers sense “Pride in Ownership” from the moment they drive up and want to be the people who love their home. Make it feel like a place to “come home from work to”, “raise a family in”, “retire into.” It’s important to demonstrate the benefit of the features, not the features themselves. That’s what HOME is all about. Convey the dream.” -Alec Schwartz, Coldwell Banker Preferred

Stand in front of your house and determine what areas of your front yard and home look tired. For some it might just require quick fixes. For example, “a quick coat of paint will make your entrance sweet and inviting” says Teresa Congioloso with Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty, Inc.

door Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Whatever it is that your home needs start thinking about it now. “Start clearing away the outside from any winter debris. Getting the home ready for a beautiful spring yard takes time, and shouldn’t wait until its already spring to start” says Lauren Lehr from Coldwell Banker Conroy Marable Holleman. Once you do the work have your real estate agent come over and take the listing photos, that way your hard work is captured on camera and your home is presented to potential buyers at it’s very best.

Pay attention to every detail from small things like the mail box all the way up to your landscaping. Here are some ideas on how to improve your curb appeal for less.

Transition into Spring

Andrea Geller, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, suggests removing all signs of winter. “Once you have removed dead foliage from the outside, bring your attention to the inside. Get rid of auxiliary heaters. If you live in a condo make sure the hallways have been cleaned of trails of salt from boots. The remnants of winter in the common areas give the impression to potential buyers that the association does not properly maintain the building.”

Take this time to swap out your seasonal decor. For example, put away the heavy blankets and bedspreads, swap out boot trays for throw rugs and consider adding some bright floral arrangements.

De Clutter AKA Minimize

declutter Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

“Remove the clutter, potential buyers for your house need to be able to visualize it as their home. By removing a few items of furniture you don’t necessarily need, some extra kitchen appliances from on top of the counters, and pictures. As strange as that last one sounds, your buyers don’t need to feel as though the eyes in the pictures are watching them!” says Scott Vinson II with Coldwell Banker Royal Realty.

As you declutter, you can pack away items you won’t need until after your move and donate or trash things you no longer want.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the best things you can do to prepare your home for sale. According to HomeGain’s Prepare to Sell 2009 national survey, the average price to paint interior walls is $500 to $750, but that increases a home price by an average of $1,500 to $2,000 — which can be a 250 percent return on investment.

“Don’t be afraid to use color” say Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite  While neutrals are the safe route to go, nice flat colors and accent walls give a home character. Gray has becoming an increasingly popular trend as well.

Clean Up (Or Hire Someone to Do It!)

Imagine walking into a home smelling last night’s dinner, seeing mold on the bathroom tile and pet hair dust balls the size of desert tumbleweeds? Yuck!

A clean home will help your home sell much faster. If getting down and dirty just isn’t your thing then you can always hire someone. If you plan on doing it yourself, “remember the small details like based boards, door trim and light switches” says Lisa Heglar from Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. We also suggest getting your carpets professionally cleaned.

Set a Budget

Items that you put off fixing or upgrading may be back on your radar now that you will need to present your home in it’s best light. Before you go breaking that piggy bank and completely remodeling your kitchen check out this post on How to Limit Spending When Getting a Home Ready to Sell

Get Inspiration from Other Sellers

Unless you are a professional interior decorator, staging your home will not come naturally. Check out what hundred of other homeowners just like yourself have done to make their homes “market ready” by browsing through these thousands of photos.

Let Us Help

Last but certainly not least, our favorite tip came from Matthew Rathbun from Coldwell Banker Elite …

“Blue, lots of blue, starting with the sign in the front yard.”

sold Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

We know it is up to you to choose a real estate agent but at Coldwell Banker our mission statement says it all “We strive to be the trusted source of innovating real estate solutions, creating exceptional experiences for all we serve.” If there is anything we can do to help you, from additional advice on prepping your home to providing you with a Comparative Market Analysis, just reach out and ask.

The post Expert Advice on How to Prepare Your Home for Sale appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

savingssign How to Limit Spending When Getting A Home Ready To Sell

There are several ways to keep costs low during the selling process

It is common for homeowners to think that selling a home is an expensive endeavor, which may in turn cause them to hold off on putting their home on the market. From repairs to staging the process can seem overwhelming. However, with the advice of a real estate agent, sellers often find there are several ways to keep costs low and come out on top during the selling process.

Work with a seasoned professional

Those who are unfamiliar with the selling process may try to take on everything themselves, which can lead to errors regarding documents, home staging, repairs and inspections. While many individuals initially opt for the “go-it-alone” approach to save money, working with seasoned professionals can help avoid costly errors. Real estate agents can provide sound advice on staging a home, accepting offers and enhancing listings to attract more buyers.

A home inspector is another asset consumers should take advantage of to save money. Buyers will likely hire their own inspector to examine a home, and if they find significant problems, they may ask sellers to lower their asking price or walk away altogether. However, sellers who discover issues beforehand and have them repaired may be in a better position to price their homes and mitigate potential problems.

Keep improvements to a minimum

Minor updates to a home can be helpful in attracting buyers. However, going overboard on updates to sell a home may not give sellers the kind of return they are expecting. For example, adding on an office addition or turning the basement into a den may make a home more appealing, but buyers may be unlikely to pay a great deal extra for it, according to the National Association of Realtors. Instead, sellers may benefit more from small touch-ups, such as repainting the home, adding new fixtures and hiring a landscaper to improve a property’s curb appeal.

Not sure where to start with your exterior? Realtor.com posted great suggestions that included:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.
  • Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly.
  • Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • In Northern winters, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Store RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.

In some cases, individuals who have outdated kitchens and appliances may want to undertake a larger project, such as replacing floors or countertops. Sellers who decide to take on these renovations should stick to materials used in similar homes in the neighborhood. For example, buyers may be more inclined to purchase a home if the newly-remodeled kitchen countertops are made of granite, like the neighboring homes, rather than tile.

Lawn & Garden Month: Clean Up That Yard! [Gift Card Giveaway]

Delmar, NY home

This Delmar, NY home, listed on coldwellbanker.com, has beautiful curb appeal.

With all of the lawn and garden tips we’ve highlighted this month, we’re sure you could give Martha Stewart a run for her money! We couldn’t think of a  better way to celebrate the end of Lawn and Garden month than  hosting a gift card giveaway for all our new and experienced green thumbs.

Simply leave us your  tip in the comments section below, on how you would use lawn and gardening to give a home beautiful curb appeal. Leaving your tip will automatically enter you for a chance to win a $100 gift card! The winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, May 4th, 2012. Be sure to leave your tip by May 2nd, 2012 in order to be considered.

 

Official Rules

 

Need to get those creative juices flowing? Jessica Edwards, a Sales Associate with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty, talks about the importance of keeping a tidy yard and provides fantastic tips to help ensure your home has eye-catching curb appeal.

Remember…To sell your house you have got to clean up that yard!