As winter becomes more of a memory and the weather turns to sunnier days, it may be time to take a peek at your landscaping and start the plans for beautifying your yard. Does it require some TLC? Not sure what it may need to become that beloved, family-friendly space again? I can help! My next two articles will be highlighting yard beautification, including an interview with Tony Range next month. Range is the lead horticulturist for the St. Louis Zoo and will offer his suggestions on how to maintain a yard that will be the envy of your neighbors, all season long.
If you are looking to enhance the overall look of your home, a beautiful, outdoor living space also increases the value of your home. A relatively recent and increasingly popular trend for homeowners is the creation of a backyard retreat, turning a home into a wonderful place for entertaining, hanging out and enjoying when the weather is inviting and the days are longer.
Homeowners who add a deck to their property or enhance their custom deck prior to selling, usually recover the cost in the sale of their home. Decks that need repairs or seem neglected can often turn away buyers because they will see additional expense and future maintenance projects. If you have a deck, it may make sense to paint or re-stain it, add some new, brightly colored cushions to your outdoor furniture, and display some potted plants and flowers. Investing in your deck and outdoor living area also adds additional space to your home, making it appear larger for potential buyers.
Even if you own a home with no future plans on selling it, Consumer Reports indicates that today’s consumers are thriftier and stay home more to entertain and to spend family time. Homes with outdoor living spaces are cited as one of the most appealing ways to spend a nice evening with those you love! When weather is prime, many clients love the idea of “outdoor living rooms”. Turn off the iPad and head outdoors to toss a Frisbee in the backyard, sharing stories of the day with your kids. When you invest in your backyard, you are investing in so much more: time with family and friends.
Another way to enhance the beauty of your yard and create a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests is by adorning your entrance, driveway and more with assorted annuals and perennials. Flowers like Petunias, Snapdragons, and Knock out Roses are great additions to your landscaping. A Southern Living article cites putting a low fence between your house and the street to give an illusion that your house is farther away from the road than it truly is andit’s also a great space for planting flowers and vines.
If you have unsightly structures in your yard and you’re not sure how to hide them, strategic planting can help! Some sheds, garages, outdoor work spaces and utility boxes in subdivisions can be less than attractive. Adding window boxes and flowers to work sheds, setting attractive planters filled with flowers atop structures, and placement of potted ferns can be great additions to your outdoor ambience. Incorporating plants and flowers close to the structure, and incorporating planters onto the walls of the structure will make it seem like a seamless accompaniment to your landscaping.
As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, offer tips to enhance your home’s beauty, and share my knowledge of our local market. The real estate process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with my guidance! And don’t forget – next month’s blog will offer additional landscaping tips from Tony Range, St. Louis Zoo horticulturist. In the meantime, you contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
The real estate industry is bustling in the spring months, beginning as early as February! With even the thought of temperatures rising, people in the market for a new home or looking to sell begin to become motivated. Homes are hitting the market and in our area, if the home is priced right, they can have an offer that same day. If you are looking to make a change or looking for your next “home sweet home”, Spring can be a perfect time to find the perfect match.
We’ve focused on tips to sell your home in the past, but if here are some Spring time tips for buyers in real estate.
Hire a real estate professional to help in your next real estate adventure. In today’s market, a professional Realtor® is experienced in many, many transactions. If you want to find a home in your ideal location, using a Realtor® can make your entire buying process easier. A Realtor® does a lot, going beyond just the home search. We help with contracts, negotiations, inspections and any other unforeseen obstacles that may pop up. An agent understands trends in the market today and can help you navigate this fast-paced buying/selling season. Keep in mind that it costs nothing to hire an agent because the seller of your new home will pay the commission.
Pre-approval for a home mortgage helps.
So, your budget is prepped and ready to go. If you know exactly what you can spend and what you may consider a “comfortable” budget for that next home, you’re heading in the right direction. You can also meet with a mortgage specialist to determine an accurate budget for that new home, and then take steps to obtain loan pre-approval. Of course, it’s okay to go to open houses and scan the web for homes for sale, but there are benefits to getting a pre-approved loan. When buyers are already pre-approved, sellers are more likely to take notice of an offer because they know you are serious at making a purchase.
Know what you want in a new home.
If you are ready to buy, it makes sense to sit down with family members and discuss your needs as well as your wishes. Whether it’s finding a new home in a certain school district or having an unfinished basement so you can add your personalized touch, what you want in your new home should be listed and prioritized. We’ve all watched House Hunters on HGTV when a couple can’t seem to agree on their perfect home! One wants a big back yard in the outskirts of town, while the other wants no yard in an urban environment. When buying a home, you should have a strong understanding of your requirements, and if there’s any conflict among other family members make sure you rank them in order of importance.
Keep in mind, it’s helpful to be flexible because your wants may shift based on availability in the market, market trends and budget, but the better you understand the most important features you desire of your new home, the smoother this process will be.
Be prepared to compete when buying a home.
In today’s market, it’s not unheard of that buyers compete for their dream home. You may need to prepare yourself to either back down during negotiations or pay more than you had originally anticipated paying. Bidding wars have been on the rise for a while. By working with your agent, you can think of unique ways to stand out from the other buyers, going beyond just price. Maybe you offer the sellers an extra week to move out? Or honor other stipulations when looking to close the deal? I can help you find ways to create incentives when making an offer on your next home.
If it’s time to buy or sell that new home, I can help! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, sharing my knowledge of our local market as well as offering recommendations during the real estate process. Now is a great time to buy a house that your entire family will love! Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com
Probably less than a decade ago, we would have never referred to our homes as being “smart”. Today, it’s a common term connected with the latest technology, creating a home that would be suitable in a Jetson’s cartoon, entertaining us with futuristic toys and conveniences like we’ve never seen before in a standard home. In today’s world, you don’t have to be part of the rich and famous to have a smart home with amenities at the touch of a button. I wanted to share highlights of a recent PCMag.com article sharing the “best of the best” smart home features trending this year.
What exactly is a “Smart Home”? The term smart home simply means homeowners can connect many of their standard amenities and devices to the internet. This goes beyond just computers and phones, also encompassing clocks, door bells, lights, window blinds, and home entertainment systems. Did you forget to lock your door before leaving? Certain smart homes will let you know and even lock it for you. When devices are communicating together and working together, sending information as well as receiving it, it’s often referred to as the “Internet of Things”, or IOT. Essentially, a smart home is one that is automated, giving homeowners the ability to control items around the house with a touch of a button or voice command. Different levels of automation have different cost levels, so it all depends on what you want and what you can afford.
Hubs and Controllers. Alexa is a voice assistant available at Amazon, compatible with a Bluetooth speaker called Echo. Alexa works with smartphone devices and with some thought, you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house just with the sound of your voice. Tie in the Echo Dot, it will add to the Alexa functionality. Echo Show even offers a touch screen.
Wink Hub 2. The PCMag editor’s choice goes to Wink Hub 2, a home automation system that works with Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Looking towards the future of home automation, it is also compatible with Philips Hue Lighting and the Netgear Arlo camera and Google Home. The editors believe this system to be one of the most reliable, widely supported hubs tested.
Logitech Harmony Elite. This home automation device controls things the “old-fashioned way”- with buttons. The Logitech Harmony Elite is like a universal remote, but offering oh so much more! You can connect more than just a stereo system and TV – it will also work with infrared devices in your home, ZigBee, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Surveillance Cameras. Today, there are wireless, weatherproof and easy to install surveillance cameras that can keep your home and belongings secure. One camera, the Netgear Arlo Pro, offers two-way audio and sound-triggering recording. With wireless features, there’s flexibility in where to place the camera. If you’re interested in indoor security cameras that keep an eye on your home while you’re away, the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera may be ideal. You get 24/7 monitoring via ADT’s Canopy service with no contract. A smaller option is the Tend Secure Lynx Indoor, a small home surveillance camera delivering video in color, clear night vision and two-way audio. It even offers facial recognition technology. At the $60 price tag, this is one of the more affordable home surveillance cameras.
Locks and Home Security Systems. Apple HomeKit enabled Smart Lock, available at Amazon, mounts over your existing deadbolt to provide connectivity to your door. It also uses Bluetooth to your smartphone, making it easy to access for you or your guests. ADT also offers the ADT Pulse, with 24/7 monitoring and customer service support. It’s the most robust, full-service home security system tested and can be tied in with other automation platforms. The Abode Home Security Starter Kit is ideal for the do-it-yourself crowd, easy to install and can be paired with dozens of Z-Wave and ZigBee smart home products. It also supports the Alexa products. With the Abode, you can monitor lights, locks, and more.
Heating and Cooling. As a homeowner, one of the biggest expenses we have is our heating and cooling (HVAC). Protect your investment with a Nest Learning Thermostat. With Nest, you get built-in Wi-Fi with geo-fencing support and a furnace monitor. It’s never been easier to control your home’s temperature from afar. The Ecobee3 Smart WiFi Thermostat is another thermostat you can control remotely. It also monitors multiple sensors in various rooms of the home to make sure your system is working efficiently.
Sci-Fi Cooking. Want to cook some ribs this fall in the backyard, but can’t get off work in time? Check out the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, a grill that you can control remotely using apps for iOS or Android. The app will tell you when the food is ready. Another smart oven, the June Intelligent Oven, has high-tech features that are mind-blowing. Wi-Fi, a camera, and artificial intelligence that lets you weigh, monitor and cook just about anything with little input, turning your kitchen into a home of the future!
No matter what type of home you are in the market to buy or sell, as a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help individuals and families during the entire real estate process. I know about the hottest trends, from popular paint colors to high-tech amenities. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.
Selling your home in the winter months can be tricky. With back- to-back holidays and usually a lot of entertaining, finding time to do it all can seem overwhelming. It’s also not the most ideal time to put a home on the market because the home, no matter how stunning, may not show as well when it’s cold, rainy, snowy and miserable outside. Plus, if there’s sleet or a snowstorm, it’s hard to get buyers to that Open House on Sunday! Guess what? There are still many things you can do to make your home look welcoming and ready for that perfect “new home shopper” this winter. People still are looking for homes and generally, there’s less competition because of a lower inventory.
Easy access. During the cold, winter months, it’s important to have a safe path to your home that is snow and ice-free. Don’t forget any side walkways or access from your driveway. This is important no matter what time of year it is, but especially important when the path to your home can be difficult to navigate due to snow and ice. When visitors pull up to the home and see you’ve made a hospitable path to the front door, they will notice.
Let there be light! I’ve said it before, but lighting is so important when trying to sell your home. Strategically open up those blinds to give off a pleasing amount of light in the home. If you want to set more of a cozy mood, utilize holiday lights on the mantel and candles at an open house. Today, there are so many variations of wickless candles and battery-powered candles it’s hard to tell which ones are real! Display the lighting properly and it will transform your room. Also, because it can be a bit more dreary outside in the winter, make sure to brighten darker rooms with open blinds and lamps in corners. Use a pop of color with pillows and throws. After all, it’s the holiday season! Take advantage of using tasteful lighting and décor.
Holiday decorations. When trying to sell your home over the holidays, it may not make sense to cover every corner of the home, every open space on the wall, with decorations. It’s best to limit the holiday décor so the potential buyer can still see the “bones” of the home. Too many holiday decorations may detract from the home itself. If you aren’t sure what may be considered “too much”, I’m happy to offer suggestions. There are also many online resources you can use for decorating ideas.
Making sense of scents. When showing our homes off, we tend to want to deodorize it with sprays, candles and oils…especially if we have pets. At some point our noses become immune to all of the smells! For guests, the smells can become overwhelming. Make sure that you keep the scents to a minimum when opening up your home for buyers, especially during this time of year because there are more good smelling, seasonal options available. Another tip is if you burn a sugar cookie candle in the entryway, it’s also a smart plan to offer cookies in the kitchen so as not to disappoint! A clean, well-kept home will always impress the eyes AND the nose. It’s fine to add a holiday scent to the mix, just don’t overdo it.
It’s all in the mood you create. With the winter weather, you have the perfect environment for bringing buyers into your cozy, warm home. Especially during the holidays, most of us relish the time we spend enjoying family, friends, and entertaining. The stage is set! Now is your chance to showcase your home to its best potential. Hang those fluffy robes in the master bath, use fresh pine in the entryway, hang wreaths and place dried, winter flowers around the home. When you sell your home, you are also selling a vision of things to come and memories made within it.
It’s a bustling time of year; so don’t add undue stress to it. There are small things you can do to show off your home’s beauty and potential, without having to start a big remodeling project this holiday season. Adding less stress to this already busy time will let you focus on your family and the year ahead. Want more expert advice? Contact me at 618-978-2384 or by email. I’m sure I can find you the perfect home, making 2017 the best year yet. Happy Holidays!
Fall is a great time to put your home on the market. Prospective buyers who aren’t worried about moving after the school year will be anxious to seal the deal and be into their new home before the holiday season starts.
Fall is a great time to clean up the yard and create a warm and cozy atmosphere inside your home for any prospective buyers. Here are some tips to help make your home autumn-attractive to sell before the winter weather comes.
Time to Clean Up
As a seller you will want to do everything you possibly can to get your home looking its best. Pay close attention to eliminating any clutter that could be a safety hazard. Make sure your lawn, sidewalks, and gutters are free of leaves and tree branches. Keep your yard neatly mowed. Keep your trees trimmed so the fall wind doesn’t knock down branches and create unsightly damage. It tends to rain in the fall so make sure there is a doormat for potential homebuyers to wipe their feet. If there is already snow on the ground, make sure your sidewalk, stairs, and front porch are free of ice and snow. Wash your deck and windows to eliminate streak marks from the fall rain. It’s also a good idea to have your fireplace and chimney cleaned if you have one.
Display Some Autumn Curb Appeal
Fall is a great time to decorate the outside of your home. Placing pumpkins on the porch or along the sidewalk or a fall wreath on your front door will give your home an instant pop of color. Something as simple as changing the lightbulbs on the outside to a soft orange will create a nice fall glow. Stalks of Indian corn or a small bale of hay might be a nice idea as well.
Keep the Inside Cozy
Creating a warm inviting feeling during the fall and winter months means more than just curb appeal. Walking into a chilly home can create an instant uninviting impression. Think about setting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature to help create that cozy at home feeling.
It gets darker earlier in the fall and lighting is important. Checking to make sure all your outdoor lights are working and on is important. Leaving a light on in all your rooms for a scheduled showing helps to create that perfect first impression. Don’t forget, adding a touch of fall decorating and a pop of color with pillows to the sofa or a fall centerpiece or bowl of fall fruit on the coffee table or the dining room table is also a nice touch.
All these efforts along with a nice fall aroma of pumpkin or cinnamon apples is a great idea as well. Remember you want a hint of aroma, nothing overpowering or your buyers will think you are trying to cover up something. A small scented candle or one plug-in air freshener that buyers can smell when they walk in the door is all you need.
If you need help I am just a phone call away!
As a licensed real estate agent, I know the local market and have first-hand experience in what people are looking for. Whether you are selling your home, buying your first home, needing to expand, or looking to downsize, I have the experience and knowledge you need to find the perfect home for you.
Making renovations to your home in order to keep it up-to-date is always a good idea. Improvements can boost the appeal of your home, make your life easier, and in some cases, help you to achieve the sale price you want when you decide to sell your home. However, renovations can be a bit more intense that staging your home for showing. Here are some things to think about before you start any project.
Kitchen and Bathroom
It’s true what they say…kitchens and bathrooms help sell a home. Many families elect to undergo a major renovation with a totally new, well-designed kitchen or bathroom. They renovate from top to bottom with the help of a kitchen and bathroom designer. A complete renovation can be costly and in most cases it’s done because you are planning to stay. But, down the line when you do sell, your kitchen or bath renovation will improve the features your home has to offer and appeal to a larger pool of buyers. However, not everyone has the funds or the time to put into a major kitchen or bathroom renovation in order to sell.
If you are looking to give your kitchen or bathroom an updated look, here are a just a few things to consider while not breaking the bank:
Everyone seems to want Granite countertops, but there are some beautiful Laminate choices that imitate Granite very well. Replacing your countertops whether it is Granite or Laminate will go a long way in in giving your kitchen a fresh, new look. In some cases, simply adding some crown molding on the top of your cabinets along with new faucets, lighting, cabinet hardware, and a fresh coat of paint will appeal to buyers. Bathroom updates as simple as installing a new vanity, faucets, lighting and installing a new mirror in your bathroom will also help you achieve the look of a new space.
Wood flooring seems to win the People’s Choice Award these days. While it does look beautiful, not everyone is convinced. The most important thing about your flooring choice if renovating and staying is to do what works best for you and your family. If you are replacing your floor because you have always wanted to have hardwood floors and it’s a good choice for your lifestyle, then do it! Will it help to improve the features of your home down the line if you decide to sell? Yes! For those buyers who are not a fan of wood flooring, carpeting over hard wood is an easy fix.
If you presently have carpet and you’re thinking of selling your home, flooring is a visually important feature. If your carpet is in good shape then spend the money to have it professionally cleaned. Worn out carpet is a distraction to any buyer and dollars start accumulating in their head. While it could be a $1,000 improvement to you to do beforehand, it could also be a $5,000 deduction on a sales offer.
The first trick to getting someone in your home is by what they see on the outside. If they don’t like what they see on the outside, then chances are they won’t want to take the time to make an appointment to see the inside. You want your home to look inviting. If you have a front porch there are so many inexpensive ways to give it new life. Take the time to look through ideas online and remember a fresh coat of paint for your front door can do wonders along with a seasonal wreath that invites guests and potential buyers.
Don’t forget the threshold. Not only your Guests but Buyers walking into your home look down to step in. Make sure your threshold is sparkling clean and free of dirt and leaves and secure. If you have a lot of trees, shrubs, or flowers outside your door, make sure they are neat, trimmed and have a fresh layer of mulch. If you don’t have the time to take care of it yourself, hire a professional landscaper to do it for you.
Don’t forget those outdoor lights! Replacing garage entry lights and porch lights is simple and inexpensive. Installing solar lights up and down your walkway will go a long way in improving curb appeal. It is also a good idea to power-wash your home to make your siding bright and shiny. Any exterior surfaces with peeling paint should be repainted giving it a fresh look and nothing looks better than sparkling clean windows inside and out along with clean sidewalks and a clean driveway. Remember first impressions are lasting impressions.
Outdoor Living Space
In the past few years outdoor living space has become much more important. A big or cozy back yard is an appealing feature to a potential buyer. To the homeowner it can be a quiet and peaceful place to relax and unwind. It doesn’t matter if you are staying in your home or looking to sell, outdoor living space is a very popular feature.
If you have a deck, check your railings and stairs on a regular basis to make sure they are secure. This will go a long way in making your home safer, and it will look more attractive to a prospective buyer. Wood decks need maintenance and if your deck is in need of some simple repairs or staining, it’s a wise investment to do it before you think about selling. Don’t forget to power-wash your patio when power washing the house. All of these are things you can do to make your home more appealing to you or to a potential buyer.
Are you discussing whether to stay or go and you need to discuss it with someone? Call me! Do you need a recommendation for a good painter, landscaper, or a general handyman? Call me! Do you want to find out what your home is worth if you remodel? Call me! As a licensed Realtor, I want to make it a point to stay on top of trends in the market and listen to potential buyers to find out what they are looking for in order to help sellers put their best foot forward.
If you are planning to sell your home, you probably want the sale to go through as quickly as possible, and for your asking price. You need to set the stage for a successful sale and quick results. The following are a few tips to help you achieve your goal.
Give Your Curb Appeal a Boost
The way the outside of your home looks says a lot about how the inside looks. People who are thinking about looking at your home will probably drive by first before making an appointment with their realtor. If it looks good on the outside, the chances are better that they will want to see the inside. Some things you could do to give your curb appeal a boost are to power-wash the sidewalks and siding, make sure your house number is easy to read, plant flowers, wash the windows, now the lawn, and rake the leaves regularly.
Create an Inviting Front Porch
Even if your porch isn’t very big, welcome you visitors with a clean welcome mat, a flowering potted plant, and maybe a chair to sit on. Remember to keep your porch light on after dark, just in case a potential buyer might drive by. You can also light up your sidewalk with solar lights. This is an especially good idea if you are planning on showing your house in the evening hours. Also, if you have a wooden front porch, give if a fresh coat of paint to brighten it up.
Make Your House Sparkle
From ceiling to floor, make it shine. You can wax the floors, clean the windows, make sure your counters are free of clutter and make sure your grout is scrubbed white. Make sure your bathroom is absolutely spotless with fresh towels and soap. Make sure all of your trash cans are empty when potential buyers are coming to tour your home. You can also hire a professional to clean your house from top to bottom is you like. Having a shiny clean house is the key to successful staging.
Get Rid of the Clutter
If you are really serious about staging, the clutter must go. You may have to make use of a storage facility, but it will be worth it in the long run. Clean, clear surfaces, closets, and cabinets make for more space in the eyes of the buyer. People can’t really see your house if there is too much clutter in it. Make it count by putting unnecessary items in storage.
A vase of fresh cut flowers on the table, a basket of fruit on the counter, or a bowl of lemons next to the sink in the kitchen are some simple touches that can go a long way. It will help to brighten your home and make it more inviting. A favorite piece of art hanging on the wall or a freshly painted accent wall can do wonders.
Don’t Forget to Stage the Outdoors
Is your house in a quiet neighborhood? Play that up by hanging a hammock in the back yard. Have a table and chairs set up on your deck or patio with a fun tablecloth and a vase of flowers. Someone looking at your home might see the hammock and envision having their afternoon nap there, or see the patio and imagine having a friend over for lunch. The possibilities are endless. Also make sure that your garden is in good shape if you have one. If it’s summer time, make sure your pool is clean. If it’s fall, make sure your fire pit is clean and ready to go. Seasonal touches are also an important point in staging your home.
It takes a lot to get your home ready to put on the market. If you have any questions or need more tips on staging your home, CONTACT Sandie LaMantia. She can help you with buying or selling your home.