How Color Can Help (or Hurt) Your Sale

You don’t have to paint yourself into a bland corner or build a beige box to appeal to potential buyers, but there are good, better and best choices to make in paint colors, decor and accessories when preparing your home for sale. Read on for tips on revising the colors in your home to appeal to the most buyers, and choices to avoid if you’re planning a sale in the next 18-24 months.

paint-splash

In a Better Homes and Gardens survey, 58% of those polled listed orange, black and violet as the colors they’d be least likely to decorate with, in that order. One of the biggest fears shared by future homeowners is they’ll grow sick of the colors in their home. Cracking open a can of paint to try a new wall color may be easy for you (or not), but for some people, picking out a new shade, taping off and painting walls, trim and ceilings can be overwhelming. For some buyers, the move-in ready home they seek is a home that won’t require painting projects.

The BHG poll listed the living room, kitchen and bathroom as the most desirable spaces to feature color, with a preference for neutral, less saturated color in the foyer, dining room and master bedroom. If you’re going to leave a slightly “riskier” color in place when you list your home, pops of color in public spaces are safer bets; consider neutralizing high impact colors in the master bedroom or your home’s entryway. Even if your mantra is “nope to taupe,” you may want to choose a friendly shade of neutral beige, with pleasant accent colors or patterns, for your on-the-market bedroom.

Accent colors, rather than maximum color use on walls and in furniture, will please the most buyers. A heather gray sofa with pale gray walls can handle funky orange pillows, if that’s your speed. Buyers will be able to envision their own furniture in a neutral space like this, because even the least imaginative shoppers know your pillows will go when you do. Pumpkin orange walls though…that’s a tough sell for the majority of shoppers, and if they’re not willing to pick up a paint brush, they may cross your home off the list.

blue-paint

The survey revealed favorite colors (in order) are blue, green and neutral. Consider packing up your more colorful decor and weaving blue or green accents throughout your home for a cohesive design that will appeal to the most buyers. This can be done through pillows, picture frames, towels, dishware, area rugs and bedding. If your walls are already a neutral shade, adding accessories in the same color family will help your home feel like a show home rather than a disarray of mis-matchy-ness – a winning strategy for any listing.

red-door

One place to consider a bolder color choice is the front door. Check with your HOA for a list of approved paint color options and consider a classic red, hunter green or ochre (a deep yellow) as an accent shade on your door. A tasteful statement color on your front door (and a brand new door mat) can add to your home’s curb appeal for minimal investment, and enchant buyers from the moment they park the car.

The key to successful on-the-market interior design is to tone down any bold personal choices to make room for your buyer’s style. If your dream sofa is hot pink velvet with black and white striped pillows against a funky accent wall, go for it! In your next house. Take yourself out of the picture so buyers can picture life in “their” home, and you’ll help your sale happen in a timely fashion and for top dollar. At the end of the day, the color you’ll love most when your home sells is green; help your home’s top dollar potential by toning down bold colors and setting the stage for a successful sale.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

How Long Does That Last?

How Long Does That Last: Home Edition

Most home buyers purchase a property intending to live there for awhile. Ideally, the accessories that keep life in our homes running smoothly will last, too. But nothing lasts forever, and the major systems and appliances we use every day (and sometimes take for granted) – will eventually wear out.

Read on for a guide to how long you can expect most of the systems in your home to last, and what you can expect to pay for replacement.

Microwave. This small appliance sees a lot of use in most homes, and not surprisingly it’s one of the first to go. A quality microwave will last 9 years on average, and a professional model will run in the $300 neighborhood, depending on functions, features, mounting and whether your kitchen features a built-in microwave/ventilation system.

Dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand is so 1965! Chances are good you could work a kitchen sponge and a bottle of dish soap every day if you had to, but busy lives demand conveniences like dishwashers. You can expect yours to last about 9 years and cost $568 on average to replace.

Electrical. Internal wiring, lighting, outlets – these things are easy to ignore, but over the course of 10 years on average, the electrical system in your home will begin to show its age. Average upgrade/replacement cost around that time is between $1300-1400.

Garage Door Opener. Your garage door itself may require minor repairs from time to time, but the garage door opener should last 10-15 years. At that point, replacement costs $319 on average.

Toilet. Your loo should provide excellent service for about 10 years, at which point you’ll shell out $350 bucks or so for a new model.

Water Heater. A traditional tank system water heater will wear out after 10-15 years. A new one will set you back close to $900. Tankless water heaters cost $1500 + on average and last about 20 years, but with 30% of a home’s energy bills spent warming the water in your traditional tank system, the initial investment may pay off over time.

Garbage Disposal. With normal use, your garbage disposal will last about 12 years. A replacement costs $400. These tips will help you keep your disposal ship shape for as long as possible.

repair

Oven. The heart of your kitchen, you can expect your oven to bake your cookies, cakes, lasagnas and meat loaf to perfection for 13-15 years. Average replacement cost is $1000, but if you have caviar and champagne tastes, you can certainly spend more.

Washer & Dryer. A new set will last 10-13 years. Replacement for a pair, top or front load washer, averages $1000.

Fridge. There are several simple ways to extend the life of your refrigerator. Without extenuating measures, the average fridge will last 13 years. Replacement cost is $1500.

Air Conditioner. 10-15 years is a typical lifespan for an air conditioning unit; replacing this system will cost between $5,000-5,500. If your central air goes out and your are short of funds, consider these alternatives.

Furnace. Surprisingly, the average furnace lasts longer and costs significantly less to replace than the air conditioning system. Modern furnaces live 15-20 years and replacing this system will cost an average of $3880.

Roof. The average roof will last 20-30 years, a figure largely impacted by the region in which you live, which determines factors like weather and pests. Replacement costs hover around an average of $6,600 and change nationally. If you live in an area known for termites or challenging weather, periodic inspections by a qualified roofing pro can help you head off costlier issues at the pass.

Pipes. The record for system in your home most likely to outlive all the rest is, of course, pipes. With an impressive lifespan of 75-100 years, the pipes in the floor, ceilings and walls of your home will likely last a very long time – especially if your home was constructed in the last 10-20 years. Replacement cost averages $1,193 nationally.

Whether you are wondering which items to service or repair in advance of selling your home, considering investing in upgrades or you need a qualified professional in your neck of the woods, drop me a line. I’m here to advise in any way I can, and with many years in Denver real estate, chances are I know someone in the right line of work to assist on your next home project.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

The Worst House on the Block

Why the Worst House on the Block may be your Best Bet

As you peruse online listings, check email from your Realtor or drive the streets of your favorite neighborhood, your eye is bound to be drawn to the visual gem of any neighborhood you are seeking; the creme de la creme, cream of the crop, top of the heap.

Curb appeal. Kitchen and bath upgrades. A finished basement. What’s not to love? 

When it comes to the very best house on the block, my advice is to leave that particular cherry to be picked by another buyer; there are several reasons to bypass the best home in the neighborhood and invest elsewhere, and it’s good to familiarize yourself with this line of thinking before you begin your house hunt and fall in love-at-first-sight with a house that might not, after all, be the very best investment for you.

This one's a winner...           or is it?

This one’s a winner… or is it?

The house that helps the rest of the neighborhood to rise now, may seem like a drag when it’s time to sell. 

When you fall in love with a beautiful house, it’s hard not to imagine how happy you’ll be pulling into the driveway of a house you can be proud of – maybe even the very nicest home on the block. Dinner parties, family game nights, cozy holidays… you can really see yourself living in this house. Now imagine further down the road when it’s time to sell your lovely home. Instead of a shooting star in a galaxy of celestial goodness, your home may just be pointing out the flaws next door, across the street and throughout the rest of the neighborhood. Neighborhood gentrification is a wonderful thing, but don’t buy the prettiest belle at the ball assuming the other girls will step up their routine; there is no guarantee things will go that way.

Savvy buyers seek room to build equity.

If the house is already maxed out (upgrades throughout, killer landscaping, energy efficient appliances/windows/etc.), you’ll probably pay top dollar to purchase the property. Long term, this doesn’t give you a chance to make good on your investment. If, on the other hand, you buy the ugliest house in the very best neighborhood you can afford – you really have something to gain. Chances are good the quality of the neighborhood will hold, and if you score a great deal on an ugly house in need of a little TLC, there will be nowhere to go but up.

Maybe don't buy THIS ugly house... But - Go Broncos!

Maybe don’t buy THIS ugly house… Go Broncos!

 

Not everything on HGTV translates to reality for the rest of us – but the notion that buying a bit of an eyesore in a great neighborhood is a keen investment makes sense. 

Call or drop me a line – I can help you find a diamond in the rough or a gem that’s move in ready, and part of my expertise includes helping you understand what kind of long term investment you are likely to be looking at.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Home Sales Rise in September

As a longtime Denver real estate professional, it is so gratifying to see a strong home market here in Colorado – and nationally as well. Rather than the typical autumn cool down we see this time of year, home sales actually increased in September. Big thumbs up from me! Let’s talk about some specifics.

  • According to National Association of Realtor (NAR) stats, home sales rose 3.2% in September from the previous month – the highest they’ve been since June.
  • The national median home sale price rose 5.6% to $234,200.
  • In the West (including Denver), sales rose 5%, second only to 5.7% gains in the Northwest.
  • Mortgage rates remain near the historic low set in November 2012 (3.31%) rising slightly last week to 3.52%.
  • 34% of September buyers were first timers, the highest first time buyer rate since July 2012, according to NAR.

For home owners, this is a great time to sell. Home builders are cranking out fewer homes than they have in the past year or two at this time, and demand continues to outpace the available number of homes. If you’re thinking about selling, you can expect to be met with a strong positive response from potential buyers.

For buyers, you need to be pre-approved for a mortgage, you need to be flexible, you need to be ready to act and you need the help of a Realtor – an expert who can help you snag the best possible deal and best possible home for you in this ultra-competitive marketplace.

If you are ready to sell or consider a home purchase in the greater Denver Metro area, get in touch. Now is a great time to be a homeowner, and whether you are buying, selling or weighing your options, I’m happy to help you take the next step.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

Drafty Window Fixes for Regular Folks

If you can stand in front of your windows and feel a breeze or watch your curtains flutter from across the room – even when your windows are closed – you are throwing money right out the window! When the frigid temps of winter settle in, your expenses will only go higher.

window-draft

Fret not! You may not be in a position to replace a house full of windows, but chances are good you don’t have to. There are solutions available for even the un-handy among us, and many of them are very low cost. It makes way more sense to cough up a few bucks to improve the energy efficiency of your windows than it does to heat the great outdoors, and when you multiply the monthly losses you experience by each window, the cost of your drafty windows is more than you know. Read on for what to do about it.

Quick Fixes

  • Rope Caulk – sort of like using an extra long, squishy piece of licorice to fill in drafty gaps, this stuff can be removed at the end of cold weather and is a great interim solution for drafty windows.
  • Shrink Film – applied with double sided tape and a hair drier, this film will help seal in the heat and can be removed with rubbing alcohol come spring.
  • V-seal weather stripping – this affordable solution will still allow you to open and close windows while the V-seal stays in place – a great solution for places like Denver with snow drifts one day and sunshine the next.
  • Draft Snake – a foam + fabric draft snake can be cut to fit the length of the window and you can shut the window right over the top of it and voila! You’re done. Just toss it at the end of the season.
  • Nail Polish – believe it or not, clear nail polish can be used to secure rattling window panes. Apply carefully and this solution should last until spring.

Longer Term Solutions

  • Replacing missing window glazing (the material that holds window panes in place and keeps out cold air) is not particularly complicated. It takes a steady hand, but even a so-so job will help insulate your windows. Remove the old putty, detach the pane of glass, add new putty, reinstall the pane, using a flathead screwdriver to install new glazing points – the tiny metal points used to secure the glass into the window; use a clean putty knife to secure a thin line of putty along the edge.
  • If you haven’t been using the storm windows for your home, start now! Clean, paint and reglaze them – or pay someone else to do it, and install them for the winter. This will cut down on heating costs and once you’ve fixed them up, they should last several seasons.
  • It’s possible your windows are simply past the reasonable point of repair. Windows will cost you in the neighborhood of $600 to replace and the job is best left to a pro. If your windows are old, rotting around the frame, have multiple cracked panes, etc. – own up to the likelihood that they need to go. Your heating bill will benefit and windows, after all, are not meant to last forever.

Do you need a window cleaner, installer. or maybe you’re wondering what your home is worth? Serious buyers continue to shop for homes in autumn and winter, and I’d be happy to help you determine whether a home sale makes sense for you in the next several months.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

If You Had a Do-Over…

If you’re like a lot of people, you learn by doing. When it comes to buying a home for the first time, a lot of learning takes place in the form of mistakes. Purchasing a home is a major investment, and first time buyers are more educated than ever thanks to the internet and other technology. Still, you don’t know what you don’t know, and first time buyers don’t always know the right questions to ask, sometimes causing home buying newbies to miss out on useful information. Here are a few tips from first time buyers who will do things differently next time.

First Time Buyers

Talk to a mortgage broker long before you are ready to buy. 

If you make great money, have cash in the bank and an excellent credit score, you are probably well on your way to buying that first home. If you aren’t sure of your credit score, whether you have enough credit, or whether your household income is sufficient to help you qualify for the type of home you’d really like to live in, talk to a mortgage pro now, before you need them. If buying a home is out of your grasp for any reason, a qualified, experienced mortgage professional can guide your next steps and help you gear up to qualify for a home loan; this beats finding out by surprise that you can’t buy a home 3 months down the road, even though your lease will be up and you’d really like to buy at that time.

Talking to a mortgage broker will help clarify items like:

  • How much money should you have in the bank?
  • Are your student loans in good standing?
  • Is your debt to income ratio acceptable? If not, how can you fix it?
  • Is your income adequate?
  • Do you have enough/too many lines of credit open?

If you’re on the fence, buy sooner – not later. 

In many cases, renting your home is akin to throwing money away; you are basically paying your landlord’s mortgage, and not getting anything more than shelter out of the deal. If you can buy, do it. Invest wisely, but don’t wait to buy if you know you’ll be in a particular area for 3-5 years or more. Many first time buyers wish they’d pulled the trigger sooner.

Get prequalified for a loan before you shop. 

Even if you are starting your home search online, as many buyers do, you’ll want to be prequalified before you begin searching in earnest for your first home. It is heartbreaking to find the perfect $350,000 home only to learn you qualify for a maximum loan of $275k. A realistic home search is the right home search for you, and you’ll enjoy the process more (and waste less time) when you know you are looking at homes in your price range. The key term is PREQUALIFIED, not preapproved. A preapproval letter is informal and doesn’t offer the official status of prequalification, which means you are qualified by a bank or other lending institution to borrow up to a certain amount.

Work with an experienced Realtor. 

An experienced Realtor will provide helpful tips on the search process, aides in negotiating the deal, and handles all the details of your transaction. Especially in a fast-moving marketplace, it is vital to have a professional representing your interests in the transaction. Even if you are planning a purchase a year or two from now, it doesn’t hurt to interview Realtors in your area to find the right professional to assist in your home search. Most Realtors can keep an eye out for homes that match your specifications and email you property matches on a regular basis so you can keep an eye on the marketplace as you prepare for your future purchase.

Conduct a home inspection – and ask a lot of questions. 

The home inspection is a chance to test drive your future home. Bring a notebook and a pen and don’t be afraid to ask the inspector questions or clarify anything he/she says during your inspection. Before the inspection, confirm whether the inspector will get up on the roof or go into the attic. Hire an experienced inspector, not a newbie and not the cheapest guy you can find. Home inspection is imperative for first time or 10th time buyers. Even if the seller is unlikely to make repairs, I wouldn’t recommend any buyer purchase a home (even new construction) without a detailed home inspection. Make notes about items you need to learn more about and improvements or repairs the inspector recommends, then follow through. You should receive a detailed report afterward; ask the inspector to include notes about recommendations he/she has made about systems within the home, landscaping concerns (such as improper soil grade away from the home for drainage), condition of electrical or plumbing, etc.

Purchasing a home is the most significant investment most people will make in a lifetime, and buying your first home is sure to be a meaningful transaction. Prepare thoughtfully for success and your diligence will pay off.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Home Improvement MISTAKES for Future Sellers

Mom & Pop may have lived their entire lives in the same cozy home in Pleasantville, but chances are good the home you live in now may not be your forever home. The average American will move 11.4 times in their lifetime (maybe that “.4” is just switching bedrooms!), although figures vary depending on age and income level. When you are considering a permanent update to your home (flooring, appliances, structural changes or additions, landscaping, etc.), you should consider not only your budget and preferences, but the likes and dislikes of future buyers. Not every improvement will net you a 100% return, and some renovations may even hurt your chances of a top-notch home sale down the road. Here are a few home improvement mistakes to avoid:

Home Renovation

  1. Painting over desirable vintage surfaces. If you’ve got ugly wood paneling from the seventies and can’t afford to replace it, by all means bring out the paint. If you have charming exposed brick, think long and hard before you paint if white for your preferred “shabby chic” look. Many people love the look of exposed brick, and paint is nearly impossible to remove from brick. If you will likely move in less than 10 years, consider leaving it alone and focus on other updates.
  2. Choosing a garish shade of paint or siding. There are ways to win the color war in terms of your home’s exterior. Brick red with crisp white shutters, sunny yellow in the right neighborhood, navy blue … these shades can be winners in the right settings, but in the long run your safest bet is neutral shades like taupe, gray or neutral greens.
  3. Covering up hardwood flooring. If your home has hardwood flooring in refinishable condition, consider going that route rather than covering it up with wall to wall carpeting. More than half of buyers prefer hard surface flooring to carpet, and a professional refinishing job will last for years. If you love the feel of carpet underfoot, buy the largest rug you can afford. You’ll enjoy the soft texture on your tootsies and protect your hardwood floor as well.
  4. Installing a backyard pool. Pools make for all kinds of family fun – but they also come with liability concerns and increased homeowners insurance. Buyers that are initially lured in by the cool factor may have second thoughts when they consider the upkeep and undesirable extras that can accompany poolside living. The same goes for hot tubs. A small percentage of buyers will see it as a bonus, but buyers with germaphobia (or small children) will only see it as a headache.
  5. Forgetting to let the light in. You may enjoy blackout darkness in your bedroom when the sun rises and you’re trying to catch a few more zzz’s, but prospective buyers will best picture themselves in a sunny, well lit home. Don’t neglect lighting in your interior projects. Include plenty of ambient and task lighting in the form of dimmable overhead lights, undercabinet lighting and lamps. When your house is on the market, lighten up window treatments if necessary and keep them open to let in as much natural light as possible.
  6. Go easy on accessibility. If you have outfitted your home with stairlifts, step-in bathtubs or entryway ramps to accommodate your own needs or those of a loved one, consider minimizing these elements at the time of sale. For individuals or families who don’t require or desire these items, they can be a distraction and add age to the feel of a home. In some cases these elements may be necessary to the safety or comfort of the people living in your home. If that’s the case, renovate as necessary – but do so knowing you may need to undo these changes at the time of sale or accept a longer period of time on the market or lower price at the closing table.
  7. Ignoring outdated fixtures. Gleaming brass is so 1989 – and not in a fun retro way, either! Replacing dated knobs and fixtures on doors, bathrooms and in kitchens can add up, but if you know you’ll sell in the future, pick a classic finish like polished chrome or satin nickel and replace your knobs and fixtures over time as you can afford to do so. Start with most-used spaces (master bedroom, public bathroom, kitchen faucet) and work your way through the home a room or space at a time.
  8. Splurging on high maintenance countertop materials. You may love high end carrera marble or soapstone countertops, but these materials have a high level of maintenance to match their hefty initial price tags. Consider instead engineered quartz or granite counters, or if you have your heart set on marble, use it as a bathroom tile backsplash rather than a kitchen counter that will see a lot of use. Future buyers will thank you for this wise decision.
  9. Nixing a bedroom in favor of a larger master suite. Three bedroom homes will almost always command a higher sales price than two bedroom homes of similar square footage. If you can afford to build the master suite of your dreams and can live without the additional bedroom, consider renovation options that will allow you to turn the additional space back into a bedroom for a future sale, such as adding a door without removing an entire wall to turn the guest room next door into a killer closet. You’ll likely save on reno costs and be glad you set yourself up for success when it is time to list.

If you have questions about buying or selling in Metro Denver, give me a ring. I’m here to help however I can, and I’ve been helping people buy, sell and invest in Denver for over 21 years.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate