Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Want to Add Value to Your Home? Get Into the Kitchen and the Bathroom!

Everyone knows that – all things being equal – the first areas buyers look at when considering the purchase of the home are the kitchen and the bathroom. They know they’re heavily-used areas and also the most expensive to upgrade. So, buyers want to know they’re in great shape or need, at most, minor repairs.

This tells you that you need to make the kitchen and bathroom “shine” in terms of their appeal. By some estimates, you can earn back 80 to 90 percent of your money in resale value!

Here’s more good news! Depending upon the state of these rooms, improvements don’t have to be all that expensive! Let’s look at the kitchen first.

Making Your Kitchen Shine!

The first bit of advice for you actually applies to both the kitchen and the bathroom – use paint! In fact, use high-quality paint. It’s a fact of life that kitchen walls get spattered with grease and food (especially if you have kids!), and bathroom walls get battered with steam and moisture.

So, the first thing to do is to take a look at those walls, clean them, and then paint them. And consider the color carefully. It should be a color that’s relaxing and tends toward a neutral tone.

Once you’ve chosen a color, spend the money on good paint, not the cheap stuff. It’ll look better, and buyers will notice that it’ll resist stains and water for a longer period of time than lower quality paint. It’ll also tell them that you’ve taken good care of your home.

Another inexpensive “fix” you can do yourself is, of course, the faucets over the sink (or the sink itself). A visit to a “big box” store like Home Depot, Menards, etc. will cost you little money. All you have to do is invest some “sweat equity.”

Of course, fresh curtains always spruce up a kitchen as well as orderly counters, islands, etc. And don’t forget lighting! Warm, friendly lighting can make a huge impact upon a buyer’s first impression. 

Another area to look at is the kitchen floor. If it’s worn, I’d recommend that you replace it with a hard-wearing material. Everyone knows the kitchen is a high-traffic area so they’ll look closely at the floor to see if they’ll have to bear the expense of replacing it.

Again, if you have handyman abilities, you can do this yourself. There are many inexpensive materials available today that are relatively easy to put in – high-quality tile, laminate floors that clean up easily, etc. 

In terms of kitchen cabinets and counters, you may want to consider refinishing them or replacing them if they’re in bad shape. This can be rather expensive, of course, but it also might make the difference between a sale and the home staying on the market.

Moving on up in terms of expenditures, buyers today expect modern appliances in the kitchen – stoves, dishwashers, etc.

These are big ticket items, of course, but if your appliances are worn or out-of-date, think about replacing them, especially if you’re having trouble selling your home.

Look for sales on modern higher-end appliances such as the ones available at Sears, etc. Buyers will spot cheap ones in a heartbeat, and this can cost you a sale.

Today’s buyers look for spacious kitchens that open on to another room and which have a window over the sink. Obviously, if your kitchen doesn’t have these features, it would be far too expensive to put them in.

However, you can make your kitchen look as open as possible. Make sure the counters are clear, visible pots and pans are ordered neatly, and the floor is free of clutter.

Okay, now onto the bathroom!

Making Your Bathroom Shine!

If your bathroom is in good to great shape, then it’s a simple matter of paint, as I mentioned before, and a good all-round clean up. Since we’re dealing with sanitary issues, you want this area to sparkle as much as possible.

But, what if the shower, tub, sink, or toilet are not in great shape or are out of date? Well, then, I’d recommend that you do a whole remodel.

It can be expensive, but when you replace, say, just one item, it can create an unharmonious look. Ideally, you want the sinks, faucets, toilets, showerheads, tile, etc. to match to make the bathroom look as unified and appealing as possible.

Depending upon your expertise, you can install these items yourself at a lower cost. If not, hire an expert to do the work, especially if your home has been on the market a long time and isn’t selling.

Okay, here’s one last suggestion. It’s an expensive one but it’s been proven to add value to your home – add a second bathroom!

One-bathroom houses are simply harder to sell and sell for less than ones with two or three bathrooms. 

So, if you have the financial wherewithal, consider adding one. A good place for a second bathroom is right off the master bedroom. This will appeal to buyers with children since they’ll have a space separate from the kids.

Also, if for some reason, you decide not to sell, a second bathroom can make life easier for you if you have children as well!

Want to hear some more suggestions for improving the value of your home? Contact me today and we can talk about some inexpensive methods of doing just that!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Something Broken? Call ServiceOne!

The joys of homeownership are many, most centered on the new control you have over your space. No one to tell you to turn the music down, no rules against pets or nail holes in the wall. You can paint the walls any color you like, change the carpet, hang out in the back yard and often park your car in a garage within steps of your living space.

Homeownership is bliss … until something breaks down, and then we wish we could just call one person and have them take care of it. Instead, we go searching for a contractor that we can trust to do a good job and not wipe out our savings account in the process.

We’d like to propose another solution. For years we’ve worked closely with ServiceOne, a locally-owned home warranty company who has saved hundreds of our clients time, money and headaches. If you haven’t looked at the advantages and value of a home warranty lately, you’ll want to pay attention.

What Makes ServiceOne Such an Essential Stress-Reliever for Homeowners?
First, contrary to popular belief, ServiceOne is not a franchise. The company is locally owned and has been serving Omaha area residents for more than 20 years. That means when you call for help, you will be talking to someone in Omaha who knows the city, who is experiencing the same weather (and its complications) that you are and who truly understands your needs.

ServiceOne does not outsource its repairs. In fact, it’s the only company in town that employs plumbers, electricians, heating and air technicians and appliance repair professionals all under one roof. Our repair professionals are experienced and reliable, and committed to the high standards ServiceOne demands.

Here are just a few more reasons we love ServiceOne:

- 24 hour emergency service
- Convenient appointments
- All parts and work guaranteed
- Bonded, insured and licensed technicians, who've passed pre-employment drug and background checks
- Money-saving service agreements

What Kinds of Help Does ServiceOne Offer?

While many of ServiceOne’s customers have purchased one of the convenient and cost-effective home warranty plans, ServiceOne also provides the following serviceson-demand, even if you don’t have a home warranty. Here’s only a partial list of all of the ways ServiceOne can make homeowners lives’ easier:

- Heating and cooling
- Repairs for major brands of furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, humidifiers, and boilers
- Sales of new equipment
- Preventative maintenance
- Plumbing
- Repairs and/or installation of faucets, water heaters, toilets, garbage disposals, leaks and clogged drains
- Sales and service of new water heaters
- All basic electrical services, repairs of outlets, switches, shorts and traces & installation of service panels
- Appliance repair, including
- Refrigerators & Freezers
- Dishwashers & Garbage disposals
- Washers & Dryers
- Ranges and exhaust fans
- Built-in microwave ovens
- Trash compactors
- Central vacuum systems

Since I Can Call ServiceOne if I Need a Repair, Why should I Consider a Home Warranty? 

ServiceOne actually offers a variety of service agreements, but if you have a new home (less than five years old) we highly recommend the home warranty. For only $99 (plus tax) your home is covered for five years, which means that ServiceOne will repair (or if unfixable, replace) your equipment for just the cost of a service call. Even if your home is older than five years, you can still purchase a home warranty that can dramatically reduce your out-of-pocket expense in the event of a major repair or replacement.

How Can ServiceOne Help Me if I’m in the Process of Buying or Selling My Home? 

The greatest advantage for home buyers and sellers is the peace of mind you get with ServiceOne.
If you’re selling your home, ServiceOne can cover your home during the listing period, including the appliances that you’re taking with you when you move. Then, your warranty can be easily transferred to the buyer, which is a great selling point.

Whether you’re buying or selling, ServiceOne can provide: 
- A mechanical evaluation to ensure there are no surprises for either party
- Greatly reduced liability during and after the sale

Check out how much you’ll save by having a ServiceOne policy.

The Bottom Line

With ServiceOne, you won’t be making numerous calls because one call can solve virtually any repair problem you may encounter, including other services not mentioned here. For more information about ServiceOne’s products, services and warranty plans, give us a call or call Brenda Stuart at ServiceOne at 402.306.6319. You can also visit www.serviceone.com to learn more.