ORLANDO, Fla. — When prospective buyers tour a home, they like to look at all the details and “test drive” the features. Of course, if there’s one faucet that doesn’t work, that’s the one they’ll turn. If there’s one torn screen, that’s the one they’ll notice.
“Perception is reality. If someone sees a crooked chandelier or a light bulb that’s out, they may think it’s broken and cannot be repaired. This can taint the overall image of the property,” says Realtor® Mark Palace, founder and CEO of Palace Properties International Inc. in Satellite Beach, Fla.
Making a checklist is the easiest way to make sure your home is in top condition and ready to be inspected by buyers. Here is a list of 40 things that Palace and other Florida real estate experts suggest you review and fix before putting your home on the market.
- Keys work easily in locks
- Dead-bolt locks are aligned correctly so they are easy to open and close
- Home security system
- Security pad
- Garage door openers operate, both handhelds and built-ins
- Screens and window frames are clean
- Windows open easily
- Interior and exterior doors open and close quietly, without squeaking
- Pocket doors and sliding doors move easily in their tracks
- All interior light bulbs, switches and fixtures
- Porch lights, carriage lights, security lights
- Pool, spa and patio lights
- Oven light and timer
- Oven clock shows correct time
- Built-in microwave shows correct time and operates
- Garbage disposal operates and smells fresh
- Trash compactor
- Range hood light and exhaust fan
- Bottom of oven is clean
- Oven racks are clean and broiler works
- Dishwasher operates, silverware basket in place
- Refrigerator door light
- Gaskets on refrigerator and freezer
- Smoke detectors
- Air-conditioner/furnace/heater/heater thermostat, operation, coolant leakage, condensation, duct leaks
- Ceiling fans operate smoothly and quietly
- Bathroom vent fans
- All faucets operate easily
- Leaking faucets (an inexpensive washer could fix a leak)
- Toilets flush smoothly, fully
- Drainage in sinks, showers and tubs
- Pool pump and filter
- Pool vacuum
- Underwater jets in pool/spa
- Outdoor faucets/hose connections
- Indoor intercoms
- Patio/outdoor intercoms, speakers
- Carpet and flooring is clean and crack-free
Your Realtor® can help you prepare this checklist and make suggestions for any repairs. Some fixes are easy and you can do them yourself. Others may require a professional. Either way, that attention to detail can make a real difference in the sale of your home.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Home improvement projects can give a house a new look, provide increased efficiency and cost savings, update outmoded trends, plus enhance value and resale potential.
Remodeling parts of a home can add to the owner’s long-term enjoyment of the property by changing it to better suit his or her lifestyle preferences. While many houses may benefit from a renovation, particularly distressed properties, some projects may not be worth the time or money, if considering the return on investment.
The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report (Link to http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2013/costvsvalue/national.aspx) from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Remodeling magazine found that exterior projects usually have the highest return on investment.
“Curb appeal is important – a home’s exterior is the first thing that potential buyers see,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale.”
The report found that some of the top cost-effective projects for home improvement are:
• Replacing a front door with a steel one – 86 percent of cost
• Fiber cement siding replacement – 79 percent
• Upscale or midrange garage door replacement – 75 percent
• Minor kitchen remodel – 75 percent
• Vinyl siding replacement – 73 percent
• Attic bedroom – 73 percent
If getting the biggest bang for the buck is a top priority, then homeowners should avoid the following projects, according to the Cost vs. Value Report, because they have the lowest return upon the home’s resale:
• Replacing a front door with a fiberglass one – 56 percent of cost
• Bathroom addition – 51 percent
• Backup power generator – 47 percent
• Sunroom addition – 45 percent
• Home office remodel – 43 percent
With the housing market and economy gaining strength, homeowners are starting to spend more on home improvement projects now. A recent study from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that spending on home improvement rose 9 percent in 2012.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla. — You’ve decided it’s time to redecorate. The next step is making choices that will please you over the long run, whether you’ll be selling your home in a few months or staying for a few years. After all, your home is a major investment and you want to be sure you add to its value.
Homeowners who are thinking about redecorating and plan to sell their home in the next five years, should generally focus on the traditional rather than the trendy, according to Realtor® Lynn Savits, with Coldwell Banker Residential in Aventura. “A real estate professional can help you determine what makes the most sense for your home,” she adds.
Here are some simple tips suggested by Florida Realtors® to update and freshen your home without spending an excessive amount of time and money.
- Light Matters — Enhance your home’s brightness by opening shades/drapes. Replace older, dull window treatments with contemporary ones that let the light in. Also consider replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs to brighten your home and save money on your electric bill.
- Keep It Simple — Select white, off-white or neutral colors for large areas like walls and expensive items like carpet or appliances. You can add color with pieces that will move with you when you sell, such as furnishings, throw rugs, curtains, pillows, art objects and wall hangings.
- Kitchens Rule — Repaint the kitchen, being careful to choose conservative colors. Replace out-of-date or worn flooring. If new cabinets are beyond your budget, you can replace or refinish the doors or just the cabinet or drawer pulls. Likewise, tiling or refinishing counter tops may be a cost-effective option to replacement. At a minimum, clean or replace any grouting on floor or countertops.
- Think Frugal — If you expect to move during the next five years, buy reasonably priced carpet or flooring in neutral shades. Invest enough to get a fresh, attractive look that you will enjoy, but don’t spend so much that you won’t recover all or most of the cost when you sell your home.
- Call a Realtor —If you have a specific problem, or are torn between decorating alternatives, you should consider calling a Realtor in your area. “This is the perfect person to help you decide which redecorating choices will be attractive to buyers – regardless of price range,” says Savits.
By following these suggestions, you can enjoy the fruits of your redecorating. Make changes that you will enjoy, but remember to think about what also might appeal to a buyer when it’s time to sell your home in the future.
ORLANDO, Fla. – With its beautiful beaches, sunny climate and world-renowned attractions, Florida is one of the top destinations for international homebuyers.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla. – Thinking of selling your current home, but don’t know where to start? A Realtor® in Florida can help you attract buyers from around the corner – or from another continent – so you’ll be able to close the transaction and move ahead with your life.
“Florida Realtors® provide sellers with the benefits of their training, experience and market knowledge,” says 2012 Florida Realtors President-Elect Dean Asher, owner, Dan Asher and Associates in Orlando. “They know how to get results for sellers in our state’s constantly changing real estate market.”
Asher says sellers today are faced with many questions: Is now the right time to sell my home or condominium? Can I make my residence more appealing to buyers? How can I get the best possible price and complete the sale?
By drawing on their knowledge of the local market, marketing and negotiation skills, Florida Realtors help sellers avoid potentially costly mistakes and keep the complex process running smoothly, adds Asher. “Selling a home is a major decision, both personally and financially,” he says. “A Realtor will provide knowledgeable guidance and help manage the process, saving time, money and headaches.”
A survey from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that 88 percent of U.S. sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home. According to NAR’s 2010 “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” 83 percent of sellers would definitely (63 percent) or probably (20 percent) use the Realtor again or recommend the agent to others.
“Marketing and selling a home is a complex process,” says Asher. “To do so, Florida’s Realtors use a wide array of tools, from social networking and online video tours to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) postings, newspaper ads and even knocking on doors in the neighborhood.”
In addition to getting the best sales price and guiding a seller through the maze of paperwork and procedures involved in selling a home, a Realtor can provide other services, including:
- Gathering information about the home – such as square footage, type of heating and cooling systems, proximity to schools and other features – to prepare it for sale.
- Analyzing comparable home sales in the area, then using that information to better estimate a property’s value, so it can be priced right to sell.
- Designing an effective strategy to market the home. That can include posting photos and information about the home on high-volume websites, emailing open house invitations, placing advertisements in local publications and putting a traditional for-sale sign in front of the residence.
- Listing the home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which all Realtors – locally, nationally and internationally – can access as they seek a home for their buyers.
- Bringing qualified buyers to preview the home.
- Writing offers, placing the buyer’s deposit in escrow and taking care of other necessary paperwork.
- Guiding the seller through all aspects of the sales contract and dealing with the buyer on any items that may need to be negotiated.
- Helping the buyer find financing, arranging for a home inspection and appraisal, and completing other details in preparation for closing the deal.
- Serving as the seller’s representative at the closing table.
“Working with a Realtor can give sellers peace of mind,” says Asher. “A Realtor in Florida is more than a licensed professional with training and experience in real estate – he or she voluntarily agrees to abide by a Code of Ethics and promises to provide honest treatment to both sellers and buyers.”
ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida home with lots of fresh air and a pleasant aroma is highly appealing to buyers. On the other hand, unpleasant odors from tobacco, mildew, pets, cooking ingredients or other causes can be immediate turn-offs.
“Airing out your home before buyers arrive can also eliminate those odors,” says Raygan Sessums, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Advantage Team in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
So, take the initiative and follow these tips as you prepare your house for showing:
- Let in Fresh Air — This one can be easy to overlook in Florida where virtually every home is air-conditioned. However, a well-ventilated property will smell fresher than one with the same air re-circulating endlessly. So, open screened windows and doors and let the Florida breezes freshen your home.
- Scrub Floors and Walls — Washing your home’s hard surfaces will help eliminate many odors, like mildew and tobacco. Thoroughly scour or polish wall tile, backsplashes, bathroom fixtures and appliances. And don’t overlook floor tile and grouting, wood, vinyl or terrazzo floors, walls, paneling, cabinets, doors, windows, mirrors, and even protective glass covering for paintings and photographs.
- Refresh — Sessums suggests pouring inexpensive cleaning products in the back of toilets and burning candles with neutral scents. Using fabric fresheners can also make a big difference. “You need to spray all of the fabric in your house on a regular basis to keep the odors away,” she says.
- Change or Replace — If you’re using your air conditioner, replace the filter or clean a washable filter monthly. Even if the filter looks clean, it has absorbed dog dander, dust mites and whatever cooking smells (fish, garlic, onion) you’ve created.
- Take Out Trash — Remove garbage frequently, and be sure that all your trash receptacles have a clean, fresh plastic liner before every showing. You’ll also want to clean litter boxes daily, deodorize a pet’s eating area and remove any animal droppings from the yard.
- Sprinkle a Little Baking Soda — Baking soda absorbs and banishes odor. Try sprinkling a small amount on floors or carpeting before sweeping or vacuuming. This is a cheap way to remove odors and leave your home smelling fresh. You can also put vanilla extract on light bulbs to give your home a warm and inviting smell.
- Check Your Closets — Closets can trap various offending smells. Since you’ll be moving anyway, discard old shoes and put odor–fighting liners inside the offenders you’ll be keeping.
- Paint Over — A fresh coat of paint seals up some odor problems permanently. Besides, buyers like rooms freshly painted in a neutral color.
- Clean the Unseen — It’s a good idea to clean your garbage disposal. “When you cook, especially when you fry food, you pour the food or oil down the disposal,” says Sessums. “This can leave your home smelling like food for days. I put fresh citrus, like slices of oranges, lemons, or limes, down the disposal. This not only makes it smell better, but it cleans your disposal at the same time.”
Still curious as to how to clean, stage, and sell your home? Talk to your local Realtor for more ideas about creating the sweet smell of sales success for our home.
ORLANDO, Fla. — If you want to sell your home in today’s market, the price has to be right. You don’t have to have the cheapest home in the neighborhood, but your home should offer an excellent value in its particular market category.
Whether you have an inexpensive starter home, a “move-up” family home, a luxury penthouse condominium or something in between, members of Florida Realtors® say the same principle applies: Price your home so the buyer can perceive its value.
To help you determine an effective asking price, consider these suggestions:
- Analyze the Market— Start by analyzing the current housing market and the pricing of comparable nearby homes. “Every seller needs to be aware of the level of normal sales and distressed sales (i.e., foreclosures and short sales), and the pricing of homes in your area and act accordingly,” says David Dabby, president of Dabby Group in Coral Gables, Fla. Realtors® can help you through this process by conducting a comparative market analysis (CMA), which shows the prices of homes with similar features that have sold recently in your neighborhood. In markets with a large inventory of homes for sale, setting a competitive price may well be the most important factor in achieving a rapid sale.
- Be Realistic — Because local market conditions can change quickly, don’t base your pricing on outdated information. Remember that it’s the buyer who decides how much to pay for a home – not the seller. If you price your home too high, it simply won’t sell.
- Don’t Factor in Your Costs — Most owners have made improvements to their homes over the years. But when it comes time to price your home for sale, you may or may not be able to recover those costs. A $20,000 pool, for instance, might have been worth every cent to your family. But it might have little value to a non-swimming buyer.
- Creating a Win-Win Scenario — Setting a price that is fair for the home, the neighborhood and the local market will make everyone involved with selling your home happy. Think of it as a win-win situation for you and the potential buyer!
With longer marketing periods, foreclosures and large inventories, Realtors can help you price your home for sale. “Realtors are critical in today’s market, even more so now than when the market was booming,” says Dabby.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Almost one in five Florida sales made in the 12-month period ending in June involved an out-of-country buyer, according to Florida Realtors®’ recently released “Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida 2012.”
The report is based on a survey taken by over 1,500 members of Florida Realtors and conducted by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) for the state association. Researchers say that the 2012 results closely resemble those in 2011.
The international real estate market – defined as non-resident foreigners who buy residential real estate in the U.S. – is important to Florida. Nationwide, 51 percent of all foreign sales take place in only four states – Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. Of those four states, Florida has the largest share: 26 percent of national sales to foreign buyers closed in the Sunshine State.
Overall, 19 percent of Florida home sales (by dollar volume) went to foreign buyers.
• Nearly all international sales were cash – 82 percent of transactions.
• The median price paid by international buyers was $194,700 compared to an overall Florida median price of $125,100 and a U.S. median price of $167,758.
• Canadian buyers tended to buy in the lower price range; European and Latin American buyers bought at a higher price range.
• Foreign buyers see the U.S. residential housing market as a good value, thanks, in part, to favorable international exchange rates.
• In the 2012 survey, Canadians led the way as United Kingdom buyers faded a bit. Brazil and Venezuela have increased as sources.
• Condos account for 45 percent of properties, townhouses 10 percent and detached single-family homes 36 percent.
• 61 percent of surveyed Realtors said that they worked with an international client in the past 12 months, down from 77 percent.
The complete Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida 2012 can be downloaded on the Research page of Florida Realtors’ member website at http://www.floridarealtors.org/Research/index.cfm. Once on the Research page, look under Research Reports on the far right, then under International, and click on the pull-down bar to find the 2012 report.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Any type of insurance coverage can be confusing and property insurance is no exception. Realtors® in Florida work with many new first-time homebuyers who need property insurance for the first time. Understanding the levels and types of coverage is key, according to Florida Realtors®. Here are a few tips from the insurance industry:
1. Know the difference between replacement cost and market value. Rebuilding a home is usually cheaper than buying an existing structure, unless the property was a foreclosure. The key: Accurately determine the cost of rebuilding when finalizing the details on a homeowners insurance policy.
2. Take a home inventory to determine the proper amount of personal property protection. Generally, policies cover 50-75 percent of the replacement value of the house and usual contents. However, this may not be enough to cover certain valuables, such as jewelry, fine art, collections, electronics and other expensive items. A separate rider may be needed and should be discussed with an insurance agent.
3. Have enough liability protection. Liability coverage protects a homeowner if they’re sued for an injury that takes place on their property. Many policies will even cover a policyholder if an incident happened away from the house. Depending on their assets, some homeowners might want an additional umbrella policy if they’re worried about being sued for more than the liability coverage offered in a basic policy.
4. Know what isn’t covered. Carefully study the exclusions section of a homeowners insurance policy. If anything raises a red flag, consider additional coverage. One example: Almost no insurance policy covers flooding. If a homeowner lives in an area prone to flooding, he or she might want to consider flood insurance too.
5. Consider additional living expenses if forced from the house. If a house becomes unlivable due to a flood, earthquake, fire or other disasters, a family will need to pay for living accommodations; and they may need additional money for food, transportation and other expenses. This coverage is called “additional living expenses” (ALE) and a benefit that’s usually worth about 20 percent of a home’s replacement value. Be aware of a specific policy’s benefits, limitations and exclusions.
ORLANDO, Fla. – In today’s Florida real estate market, buyers can choose from a wide selection of homes. That makes it easier to find suitable single-family homes, townhouses or condominiums. But the knowledgeable advice of a Realtor® in Florida is more important than ever in determining which one offers the best fit.
“Buyers need to set reasonable expectations and have done their homework,” says Suzanne Sherer, a sales associate with RE/MAX Realty Team in Cape Coral. “A Realtor can advise you on what home is right both for today and tomorrow.”
Florida’s Realtors understand that a home is more than just a collection of bedrooms and bathrooms. Two homes with similar bedrooms, baths and prices, for instance, may offer very different designs, commuting distances, lot sizes, tax costs, interior dimensions, and exterior finishes.
Therefore, it’s important for buyers to identify the features that are most important for their current lifestyle and for their potential needs in the future. A couple in their 20s, for instance, might prefer a three- or four-bedroom home so they don’t have to relocate if they start a family.
Here are some questions to consider:
• How many bedrooms do you want?
• How many bathrooms?
• Do you prefer a clean, modern design or something with a more traditional ambiance?
• Would you prefer a yard for children and pets or a lower-maintenance condominium?
• Do you want a formal dining room?
• Do you prefer an open floor plan?
• Would you want a two-story home?
• Do you want energy-saving appliances and systems?
• Do you want to have a pool, whirlpool spa or outdoor patio?
• Do you need space for a home office?
• Are there any other special features you need, such as an elevator or ramps for wheelchair access?
“Buyers need to be clear as to the features and amenities their new home has to have versus would be nice to have, and be able to prioritize them,” Scherer says. “That will help you narrow your choices until you find the home that’s just right for you.”