Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Eco-Friendly Updates that Impress Buyers

Today's home buyers are smart buyers.

And that means they are looking for smart features, including earth-friendly materials and products.

It's no wonder an eco-friendly home is desirable.

It's a healthier place to live. It's economical because it reduces water and energy costs. And, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you're reducing your personal carbon footprint.

What eco-friendly attributes does your home have that you can boast about when it's time to sell?


Think Green


According to HomeAdvisor’s 2017 True Cost Survey, homeowners spent nearly 60% more on home improvement projects that year than they did the previous one. And while there are countless improvements you can make to your home, some of them deliver more bang for your buck than others. 

Some green upgrades-- like a tankless water heating system, solar panels, and construction materials from renewable sources --  might be so pricey they aren't going to return your investment unless you continue living in the home long term. As a home seller, you need to think more short term.

Three of the most economical and environmentally sane investments you can make when you're planning to sell are improvements in your HVAC  system, your kitchen, and your landscaping. These improvements are clearly visible so they earn you bonus points from buyers.

Improve Your Heating and Cooling  


Although not the most glamorous or visually appealing upgrade, improving your home's heating and air conditioning system prior to putting it up for sale is an enormous selling point.

If your home was built more than 10 years ago and still has its original heating and cooling system, it's not energy efficient. Home buyers are often wary of older homes, and outdated HVAC is one of the reasons.

Your Realtor can point out to buyers that the new system will substantially reduce the average energy costs by as much as 20%. That means lower utility bills and a decreased carbon footprint -- both tempting selling points in any real estate transaction.

Other energy-saving perks that can impress buyers are a programmable thermostat, double pane windows, and non-toxic blown-in insulation. Depending on the condition of your home and the local market, it could be worth your money to add extras like these.     

Update Your Kitchen


A recycling center doesn't have to look messy.
Photo: Sarah Steinbery Designs.
Are you that homeowner who says, "I'm not going to fix up my kitchen for the next owner?" That's short term thinking of the wrong kind.

DIYNetwork reports that "If you plan on updating only one room in your home, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops and energy-efficient stainless appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens."

Don't be the seller who underestimates the ROI you can realize when you install upgrades like new countertops and Energy Star appliances. Realtors and other experts across the board agree that a kitchen remodel done right can return between 80% and 85% of your actual cost. Compared to other remodeling projects, that's a handsome return.

Of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, most are aware of buyers' preferences and are choosing natural stone materials. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it's durable, non-toxic, sanitary, and always attractive in a classic way.

Other green upgrades to your kitchen are a low-flow faucet; floors made of cork, sustainable hardwood, or bamboo; an under-the-counter water purifier; a recycling area; and a convection oven.


Rethink Your Landscape


No home seller can ignore the importance of curb appeal. The way the front of your home looks can determine whether driveby home shoppers are interested in your home or not. Landscape can make the difference.

A professionally designed landscape will incorporate varying textures, shapes, and colors.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but hiring an experienced landscaper to design a custom plan for your front and backyard spaces can make all the difference in your home's appeal to potential buyers.

If you plan to keep some of your yard's existing landscaping elements, a professional landscaper should be happy to work with you to develop a unique plan, one that buyers will appreciate for its good looks and its eco-friendly features.

You want your landscape to be based on plants that don't demand lots of water to look good and stay healthy. You also want it to be easy to maintain. It should not require ongoing applications of toxic chemicals or excessive use of power equipment for its upkeep.

Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that require little or no upkeep. Some of my favorites are Variegated Ribbon Grass, Thornless Common Honeylocust, and Grey Owl Juniper shrubs. These are the kind of plants that let you -- and that next owner -- enjoy the benefits of a beautifully landscaped yard without the chore of yardwork and maintenance.

Central to the idea of sustainable and healthy landscaping is the notion that what you plant is suitable to your climate. Growing tropical plants in the desert is just one example of poor ecology. To learn what kind of landscaping is appropriate to your locale you can contact your county extension service for free literature and online advice.

It's Easy Being Green 


It's not just young buyers or other niche markets that are interested in conserving resources like water and energy, and living in ways that don't harm the environment. If your home wasn't recently built or recently remodeled with environmental factors in mind, you may want to consider some of these renovations.

Environmentally smart home improvement projects can come with big price tags, but if you choose the right ones, you'll see a faster home sale with less negotiating and good ROI.

Top photo: hgtv


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Four DIY Ways to Improve Your Bathroom


Home buyers aren't attracted to outdated properties, and a bath is one room that doesn't age well.

Let's face it. Tubs, showers, tilework, and toilets are not easy to replace.

But some DIY projects for renovating your bathroom don't call for major expenditure, hiring expensive contractors, or securing permits.

If you have some time, doing a DIY project or two can be fun and rewarding. These are some of my favorite ways for a homeowner to update a bathroom.

New Backsplash

One of the most popular DIY projects in recent years is applying your own bathroom or kitchen backsplash. The fact that 87% of homeowners who renovate their bathrooms choose to update their shower, demonstrates the desirability of this DIY bathroom project.

A new backsplash will give your room the appearance of a much bigger renovation, even if it's a simple peel-and-stick project. You can redo the tile in your bathroom, for instance, or purchase prefabricated wood that can be easily attached to the wall with some heavy-duty adhesive.

The shower walls, the tub surround, or the wall opposite the entry door are excellent choices for a new backsplash treatment. In the kitchen, backsplashes tend to go behind the kitchen sink or stovetop, or are used to accent a breakfast nook.

Updating Bath Vanities

Besides fixing your bathroom backsplash, you can also redo your cabinetry with relatively little DIY know-how. Usually a screwdriver is all that you need to easily remove the doors and then switch them out with new ones.

Or, you might want to take the doors off altogether and create an open storage space, a style that's increasingly popular. Changing just the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls is the easiest move for making your vanity look stylish.

Wall Art

Simple framed prints are affordable and tasteful
bathroom art. Photo: Sussan Lari Archtect
USA Today says one of the simplest things you can do in any DIY home project is hanging up new wall art.

You can either buy inexpensive pieces and put them in cheap frames, or you can make your own pieces to add some buyer appeal to any the room. Garage sales and thrift stores are also good sources for second-hand art that's perfect for homestaging.

Bathroom walls usually have limited wall surface for hanging art, but even a small framed print will make a small room look more interesting. With the right art, you can make a huge impact on your space without making a huge investment.

Paint

One final way to update your bathroom is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Nothing beats paint for the return on your home improvement dollars. While it's not the quickest DIY project, it's often necessary before listing your home for sale.

Because of the constant use and high moisture levels, your bathroom's current paint or wallpaper probably needs an upgrade as part of your staging, especially if you just added a snazzy new backsplash as well. Buy paint that has mildewcide added, made especially for baths.

If you go with the same color you presently have, one coat will usually cover. But if you're making a drastic color change, you may need two coats. Make sure, however, if your bathroom is tiny to not choose a dark color. The dark color will make your room seem even smaller. Clear, cool, light colors work best for baths. 

These DIY bathroom tricks will help improve your space without a lot of money. If you're ready to sell your home, these are the simple DIY home renovations that will improve your selling success. For more tips to success, download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. 

Top Photo: Milano Carrera

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