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Selling Your Home this Spring? Seven Tips to Help You Prepare

(via the Coldwell Banker blog)

While it still may be chilly outside, the weather isn’t the only thing that’s about to warm up. The spring selling season is right around the corner, and we’ve got seven things you can do now to prepare for selling your home once spring arrives.

The good news is, you can get a head start on preparing your home now, so it’s ready to go once the first signs of spring appear. Here are seven simple tips you can do now, to help get your home market-ready.

1. Give a Thorough Clean

Think spring cleaning territory when deciding what level of clean your home requires for sale. Everything from scrubbing baseboards to dusting fan blades and clearing cobwebs from storage areas should be covered as you scrub-down your home. If the task feels overwhelming, simply go room by room until it’s done.

If you have carpet, and it’s in reasonably good shape, a thorough cleaning with a professional carpet cleaner will improve the look and the odor in your home. If carpets are worn and threadbare, consider a reasonable replacement, such as a good quality laminate. Cracked tiles should be replaced now, if it’s in your budget, for maximum effect.

Carpet cleaner giving a deep clean to carpets

Image Source: Flickr/Laura D’Alessandro

2. Do a Minor Update

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. A quick update to a kitchen can make a huge impact simply by cleaning painting or replacing tired hardware and fixtures. If your kitchen lacks a backsplash, this is the perfect time to add one for maximum appeal.

3. Clean the Windows

Even if it’s too cold to tackle the job from the outside, you can get half the job done now. Scrub the interior side of all windows and don’t forget the window sills, tracks of sliding doors, and the surrounding trim. Buyers will notice the attention to detail once your home is on the market.

4. Paint

Choose the spaces that have the boldest color and tone them down to a neutral palette. The goal should be for buyers to see your home as a blank canvas for their own belongings. Focus on high traffic areas next, and finally, repairing any flaking paint in damp areas such as basements or bathrooms is a must.

Image of a row of paint swatches in a store

Image Source: Flickr/Dean Hochman

5. Pack Early

While you don’t need to pack up everything you own, strategically boxing up personal items that will depersonalize your space is a good idea. Family mementos all serve to remind buyers that this is your space, and you want them to picture it as theirs. Storage space is another big item on a buyer’s list, so consider packing up any out of season clothing and tucking them away to make closets seem larger.

6. Purpose Every Room

Every room should have a clear purpose, so buyers can see how versatile your space is. This may mean removing furniture from a crowded space and moving it somewhere else in your home to create defined living areas. Look for opportunities to create functional spaces like an office area or reading nook, and if you have too much furniture, consider putting it in storage. Less furniture will create an open feeling throughout your home.

A cozy home reading nook, staged for real estate

Image Source: Flickr/Michael Pardo

7. Go Outside

While it is too early to landscape, paint, or deal with the exterior areas of the home, curb appeal is essential to getting buyers to even walk through the door. Assessing your home now, from the garden spaces to the roof and front entry, will let you make a list of quick and easy items you can tackle as soon as the weather warms up, which will make selling your home a breeze.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Emily May

Home Staging + Showing Tips

When it comes to preparing your home for sale (or a listing appointment), you will not only want to make sure your home is clean (see the helpful cleaning checklist previously posted here) but you will also want to stage your home…or even hire a home stager. As it has been said: the way a person lives in the property is not often how the property should be shown.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing /staging your home, when your Realtor® offers advice or you are working with a stager directly.

  • It is not personal. We work towards a common goal – wanting to sell your home the highest price possible to the best qualified buyer/situation for your home. Suggestions such as “decluttering,” “removing personal items or expensive keepsakes,” etc. is to help make your home appear most neutral for all buyers. It is nothing against your style or your items. (We haven’t really had this experience people taking this too personally but I know people do.) We, and some Agents, have seen many comparable homes, knowing the competition. If an Agent or stager has a suggestion on how to neutralize your home, or what to do / change, chances are they know what buyers are looking for in your town or neighborhood or what “showing to sell” looks like, so to speak.
  • Similarly, remove personal items. Photographers we work with also state the importance of this for photos. Have your daughter’s name on the wall in her room in big letters? While your home is listed, you may want to remove personal touches such as that as well as family/friend photos if there are many and sport team memorabilia. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in their next home and that suggestion helps with that.
  • Remove any items of importance from plain sight or remove completely from the home. This is pretty self explanatory but includes things such as jewelry, artifacts, keepsakes, all prescriptions, personal and work files…and mail, etc.
  • Limit scents. Wicks, plugins, etc. may be needed but don’t overuse fragrance as it can bother some buyers (who may wonder what is being covered up).
  • Plan ahead. Contact an Agent when you are ready and believe it will be a good time to list a home. Also, if you are staging your home, allow adequate time for a stager to get your property ready for photos, to show, etc.
  • Make your home safe in all weather conditions. Is it rainy? Make sure you have a rug by the front door so people don’t slip on glossy tile (almost happened). Is is snowing or is there snow on the ground? Shovel / plow your driveway and sidewalk (happened before). Don’t expect people to view your home if they can’t get to it. Things like that can really bother buyers who make the trek out, motivated, to look at…and purchase…a home.
  • Make curb appeal…well, appealing. Add some plants, etc. to the front of your home (make sure it is clean and well-kept also) to make the buyer’s first impression a good one.

Tip: if you really want to move, you ultimately be moving anyway  so why not starting clearing out / donating / recycling / moving items today and not wait until you are about to move out?

This is not an all-inclusive list, just a guide.

View more staging tips here.

Written by the licensed marketing director.

 

Keeping Your Heating and Cooling System Running Smoothly

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By Fran J.Donegan

Keeping your system running smoothly not only makes your home more comfortable, but also affects your monthly operating costs. Poorly maintained heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) work harder, wasting energy and money.

Another great reason to keep HVAC systems at peak performance: When they fail, they tend to fail at the worst possible time, like the coldest night of the year or the middle of a sweltering heat wave. Problem is, most other failures will happen at the same time, that’s when HVAC contractors get backlogged, making it extremely difficult to get your issue resolved quickly.

Preventative Maintenance is Key!

Preventative maintenance is the key to keeping HVAC equipment running at peak efficiency. There are some important steps you, as the homeowner, can take.

First, find a reputable, qualified HVAC company to service your system annually.  You should schedule your system check-ups (also referred to as a tune-up or “clean and check”) just before the start of each heating and cooling season.  Experienced technicians can often spot issues before they cause a breakdown.

Depending on the type of HVAC you have, a typical professional maintenance appointment will take 30-60 minutes and includes items such as:

– Checking and tightening electrical connections

– Checking components for wear or defects

– Inspecting accessible duct work for leaks

– Taking critical system measurements (temperatures, pressures, electrical readings, etc.) to ensure they meet manufacturer specifications

– Calibrating thermostat and conducting a full system operation sequence

– Checking carbon monoxide levels (heating season)

– Checking accessible gas lines for possible leaks (heating season)

– Measure refrigerant levels – improper levels can negatively impact performance, efficiency and levels, and low refrigerant levels may indicate a leak. (cooling season)

– Inspect the condensate drain for clogs, flush/clear if needed (cooling season)

– Check and replace or wash filters (you will usually need to provide a replacement filter—be sure to have this ready for your appointment)

– Provide you with a checklist of items completed and a report on the condition of your system, its components and performance

– Make recommendations for needed repairs and optional system enhancements

During a heating system check-up, the technician will typically focus on the indoor unit (furnace and blower equipment). If you have a heat pump, they will also check your outdoor unit.

During a cooling system check-up, technicians will service the outdoor unit (condenser coil and compressor) as well as the indoor unit (blower and evaporator coil).

Understanding Equipment Efficiency Ratings

For gas burning heating equipment, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating measures how much fuel a furnace or boiler converts to heat and how much is wasted. It is not unusual to find old furnaces with an AFUE below 70 percent, which means that over 30 percent of the fuel is wasted. High-efficiency furnaces available today can achieve AFUE ratings of above 98 percent.  That could mean a reduction in heating bills of 20 to 30 percent.  Other benefits of high-efficiency furnaces include quieter operation and enhanced parts warranties.

For cooling equipment, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures the energy efficiency of cooling systems—the higher the number, the more efficient the equipment. Federal regulations require a minimum SEER of 13 or 14, depending on where you live, but market today’s high-efficiency cooling equipment can achieve SEERs of more than 20.

So what does regular maintenance have to do with efficiency? Well, let’s relate it to your car:  the longer you go without an oil change, the lower your gas mileage gets – that’s because over time, build-up and residue on your car’s internal components negatively impacts their performance.  Your HVAC system is no different.  In fact each year that your equipment is not properly maintained, it can lose up to 5% of its efficiency due to build-up of dirt and grime on internal components and operation at below optimal levels

There are a number of things you can do on a regular basis to help maintain an HVAC system.

1. Change your air filters on forced-air systems at least every three months but check them monthly. If your house is excessively dusty or you have pets or other sources of airborne pollutants, you may need to replace filters more frequently. Higher efficiency filters will keep more of the smaller particles from building up on your system’s components. The type of filter to use and directions for changing it can be found in the manual that came with the system. If you don’t have one, ask an HVAC contractor for advice or visit the manufacturer’s website.

2. Make sure that furniture does not block heating and cooling vents, baseboard heaters and radiators and do not close registers to redirect air to other areas/rooms.  If registers are blocked or closed, the system has to work harder to provide you with the comfort you want, placing a strain on the system.

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