Live Well for Less
Want to beat the high cost of living in the Islands? Move to Minneapolis. Barring that, you can read this story, which has ideas on how to stretch your dollar.
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Your home is likely to be your biggest asset, but maximizing that asset means different things to different people. For some homeowners, it’s increasing the enjoyment of the house while still living in it—adding a home office, remodeling the kitchen or creating an outdoor area for entertaining friends and family. For others, it means preparing to sell the home for the maximum return on investment. Here are ways to squeeze the most rewards—both financial and lifestyle—out of your house. By Aimee Harris
Staging Your Home to Sell
“The goal of staging is to get your home into shape so that home buyers can visualize themselves moving into your place,” says Bonnie Coen, a realtor and associate partner with Prudential Locations. “The first phase is a must. The second phase is a nice-to-have.”
Clean: Pull out your spring-cleaning to-do list and actually do it. Wash the windows and screens, dust overhead fans, trim the hedges, etc. Or, hire a cleaning crew, first to do a thorough spring cleaning, then to help you keep it up. There is probably no better investment.
Declutter: Take out as much as you can from each room. Start packing—you’re going to be moving anyway. Neatly stack boxes in one corner of the garage, or put belongings into a storage unit.
Fix It: Tighten loose door handles, fix the running toilet, replace burned-out light bulbs.
photo by istock
Replace: Buy some nice, new bathroom linen and kitchen towels. Lay down some plush bathroom rugs. Update drapery. Set out fresh toiletries and new candles.
Refinish: Paint the home’s interior and exterior with neutral colors. “Paint gives the biggest bang for freshness,” says Coen. Next would be to refinish the flooring or install new wood, carpet and tile.
Remodel: The most popular rooms to remodel are kitchens and baths, as they give home buyers the feeling that they can have a fresh start in their new house. If you remodel the kitchen, don’t neglect the bathrooms. The inequality between the rooms will remind potential buyers of the home’s age and use.
* Bonus Staging Tricks
• Put a mirror in the entryway so the first thing the buyers see is themselves in the home.
• Hide the piles of paper, the to-do lists and unfinished projects. Don’t remind the buyer of stressful tasks and the routine of everyday life.
• First impressions are important. Provide an inviting entrance and street appeal, including landscaping, porch lighting and tidy doorsteps. Set out trash cans as late as possible and bring them in immediately.
• Keeping the right balance of personal effects can be tricky. While too many portraits, trophies and heirlooms can keep buyers from seeing the home as their own, it’s important to personalize rooms with art, accessories and plants.
• Don’t forget to make the beds properly, so the sheets aren’t showing and the bedrooms look fantastic.
Sell High, Buy Low
“The Oahu housing market achieved new records in June, with the median price paid for a single-family home at $685,000, and condominium prices at $334,000,” according to Berton Hamamoto, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors. As Oahu’s residential market continues to push the price envelope, it sets sellers and buyers in strong opposition: Sellers want to take advantage of the market’s demand and sell high, but, as home prices continue to exceed affordability (house payment as percent of income), home buyers are doing all they can to find low prices.
Get your home into tip-top condition so buyers won’t have any serious aesthetic or physical objections. Plus, if the realtor sees a pulled together home, he/she will list it for more money and work harder for you.
Find out who is buying in your area. For example, to attract young professionals, make one of the bedrooms into a home office.
Watch out for the nonstop negotiator, who insists on coming back to the home, usually with a pretense of measuring the rooms for furniture or carpets. They are looking for real or imagined defects in the property so that they can renegotiate the price.
Lead with your strength. If the house has a great location, talk about location. If the location is lousy, talk about the home’s spaciousness, upgrades or other qualities.
Do not purchase a house until it has been examined by a home inspector that you’ve selected. You can use the inspection report and appraisal information as a bargaining chip, asking the seller to either repair problems or reduce the price of the house.
Research historical sales prices. The data provides a baseline of selling prices rather than asking prices.
Avoid an auction situation. As at a formal auction, bidders often get carried away by “auction fever” and end up paying too much.
Look for weaknesses. Buzz words and phrases—owner desperate, all offers considered, priced to sell pre-foreclosure sale, loan being called—indicate that the seller is eager.