42 years in business.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prepping Your House For Sale On The Cheap

Here are some suggestions for getting your house ready to put on the market at little or no cost.

1. Clean- Do a deep cleaning of your house. Scrub grout and seal natural stone. Scrub flooring. Rub out scratches and nicks on walls and wood floors (Magic Eraser works very well). Wipe down kitchen cabinets, back splash and appliances. Steam clean carpeting.
A clean, fresh smelling home will win you points with buyers every time. Sense of smell is one of the biggest senses to play on. If your house smell musty, stale or like pet odor, often times buyers will not even pay attention to anything else about the house.

2. Lighting- Filling rooms with natural light is crucial. Using bright light bulbs in every room enhances the overall look of the rooms and has a major impact on buyers perception of the home. You don't want rooms to be gloomy and dark.

3. Paint- This is the most inexpensive way to spruce up a room in your house. However, don't spend too much time and effort on painting every room because a potential buyer may not like your color choice and simply re-paint when they move in.
When is it a good idea to paint?
-If a room is full of scuff marks and/or holes
-If the color is very bright and unappealing (like neon or super dark), then choose a very neutral color like beige or light brown
- Do touch ups if you have leftover paint. No need to paint the entire room.

4. Rearrange or remove furniture- Make clear traffic patterns throughout the rooms. Don't make your living room or dining room an obstacle course. Take out large pieces of furniture that make the room seem small.

5. Clean out closets- Cramped and full spaces make them seem smaller than they really are. This goes along with the idea of de-cluttering your home.

6. De-clutter- You want people looking at the architectural aspects of the home and not your stuff. Clear off counter tops and dressers. Show off book shelves and cabinets by limiting the amount of items in them. A little goes a long way.

7. House plants and flowers. They add texture and warmth

8. Make the entry inviting. It is the buyer's first impression. Change out your mailbox. Paint the door if necessary. Place a brand new welcome mat at the door.

9. Replace Some Items
-cabinet handles and pulls can be money well spent. They update the look of the cabinets with out having to replace them. You can even spray paint the old hardware of kitchen cabinets. If they are bright brass, you can can bring them up to date by spraying them a more modern color like pewter or dark bronze.
-Replace worn door knobs and handles
-Sink faucet and fixtures
-Toilet seats and rugs in bathroom

10. Power wash the house and wash windows.

11. Clean up the yard and gardens. Buyers will drive by listings before deciding to make an appointment. Don't let them get turned off and eliminate your home because the outside looks unkempt.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Landscaping Tips

Staging the outside is just as important as the inside. Here are some tips I picked up from REALTOR Magazine

1.Light up the outside

Good lighting allows buyers to see a home and also adds drama. Sellers should use low-voltage lamps to highlight branches of specimen trees, a front door, walk and corners of the house. However, less is better.

2. Use decorative architectural elements.
A new mailbox, planted window boxes. Colors should complement the landscape and home. Be careful not to overdo it.

3. Maintain a perfect lawn.
A perfectly manicured a lush lawn demonstrates tender loving care.

4. Add splashes of color.
Try and incorporate plantings that bloom in different seasons. Having color throughout your lawn and landscape during all seasons will ensure a beautiful looking yard.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foreclosure Prevention Plan

Along with the stimulus package, President Obama has made up to $200 billion available to boost investor confidence in the mortgage secondary market. He also made available $75 billion in incentives to encourage lenders and borrowers to refinance troubled loans. This is critical because of the destabilizing impact of high foreclosures and disresses sales, according to The National Association of REALTORS.
Plan details include the following:
  • Help for home owners making their payments but at risk of default. Home owners with a conforming loan could be eligible to refinance as long as their mortgage doesn't exceed 105% of the home's current market value
  • Help for home onwers already in default and in need of loan modification. For lenders that voluntarily agree to lower a borrower's payment so that it makes up no more than 38% of the borrower's income, the government would share the cost of lowering the mortgage burden further.
  • Doubled resources to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To encourage investors to buy the secondary market companies' mortgaged-backed securities, the government promises to back them to up to $400 billion, twice the current amount.

The stimulus package and foreclosure plan are a good beginning to help solve the nation's economic distress. "By helping good people caught in bad mortgages, we are keeping inventory from being added to a market already under stress," commented NAR 2009 president Vick Cox Golder.

Go to the National Association of REALTORS website for more information

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Economic Meltdown

“Economy does not lie in spending money, but in spending money wisely.”
- Thomas Huxley

The $8,000 tax credit to first time buyers seems to be working. This incentive coupled with record low interest rates (below 5% for 30 year mortgage) have made people get out into the marketplace and seriously consider buying a home. Their credit must be in good standing, and their score needs to be at least 680 to receive the benefit of the lower rates. We have seen first time buyers in their 40’s decide to take the plunge. We have also seen multiple offers on houses for sale. These are all good signs that the real estate market is perking up; it does not mean, however that our values are on the rise or that things are completely turning around. It is simply a step in the right direction.

Fortunately for us, Rochester seems to be weathering the storm better than many areas of the country. We are still facing higher unemployment rates, company downsizing and an overall nervousness about our personal economic condition. But, the thread we are hanging by may be a little stronger than others. Being a small business owner for 38 years I have been through 3 recessions. Times have been good and bad throughout my career. Understandably I am an advocate for supporting small– medium businesses. During times of economic crisis small businesses are the benchmark for our economy. Entrepreneurs often see a recession as an opportunity to start a new venture whether it is because they have been forced into retirement, laid off or simply want to try and capitalize on specialized loans and incentives out their to stimulate the economy. Now more than ever we should be paying attention to the small businesses in our community and elsewhere to support Americans earning a living by providing goods and services against the grain of the Big Box stores. Irondequoit has a wonderful Chamber of Commerce that supports the businesses in our community. Visit their new website to find out more information www.totallyirondequoit.com.

During times like this there is a feeling of helplessness and anger. With all that is coming out in the news about individuals taking advantage and stealing from people, it is hard to boil down the information and figure out what to do to change our lives and make it through this tough time. Every magazine on the shelves is talking about cost-cutting solutions. Investors are speaking about how to save your retirements and savings. Overwhelming is probably not even an appropriate word. Americans should be learning how to re-think their spending, living within their means, stop using credit as an alternative for living. When it comes to goods and services however, there are some things we cannot cut out, and this is the time to try and boost our local economy. Or at the very least, boost those Americans making and producing products and services in America– from a storefront or running a small business from their home.
If you have a present to buy, think about visiting a local shop instead of going to Target or Amazon for a quick find. It may take a little more effort, but if we try and buy local or buy from those who are providing a much needed service to our economy, we can rebuild our economy one step at a time. I am always trying to help out my fellow business owners by providing referrals in the hopes that the favor will be returned. I am a patron of our local restaurants and shops.
Check out our local printing companies instead of going on-line for business cards, etc. There is a wonderful toyshop in Fairport that may be one of the last of its kind locally. Also, handmade goods are everywhere. Visit www.etsy.com. You would be amazed at how many talented artists and craftspeople are out there doing what they love, working out of their homes and trying to make a living. Right here in Rochester we have a nationally known Stationary Studio that makes invitations of all kinds, announcements, etc. Visit her at www.bellacartastudio.com. Need a painting job done call J Coatings Painting and Design at 509-1280. They are an established business but have revamped and “set up shop” in Irondequoit. There are business owners that offer excellent framing for affordable prices. If you need something framed, you don’t have to go to one of the big craft stores here in town. Contact Klem’s Framing– maureenklem@msn.com. She runs a shop out of her home in Irondequoit. There is also an abundance of local artists who do fantastic work. You can find them through local art clubs and sales. We are also lucky to have such festivals as Corn Hill and the Clothesline Festival. And, for a little entertainment, there are many resources here in Rochester that are free or inexpensive. Pick up a free copy of City Newspaper for event listings. When buying groceries, take a trip to the public market and the local farmer’s markets. Here in Irondequoit we have several options for fresh produce and vegetables. We are lucky to have these resources right at our fingertips.
We can all make a difference in our economy when thinking twice about how and where we spend our money.