Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sleezy Home Improvement Scams

Thanks to

Spring's the time homeowners get to work -- and shady contractors come of out of the woodwork. Here's how to smell a suspicious deal.

Article IndexBy
Like most homeowners, you probably spent the winter months talking about the home improvements you'd like to make. Now that spring is here, it's time to act on those remodeling impulses. After all, spring is a time of renewal, change and new beginnings.
Unfortunately, it's also a time when shady contractors come out of the woodwork to prey on innocent homeowners. "Some are actual scam artists, while others are just incompetent or unethical," says Ellis Levinson, a consumer reporter and the author of the book "Hiring Contractors Without Going Through Hell."
The good news is that you can protect yourself against these scams. In fact, many scams are easy to detect if you take the time to become an educated, savvy consumer. "Compare prices, call references and research the project you're undertaking in advance," says Bruce Johnson, the author of "50 Simple Ways to Save your House." It seems simple, but many people find this process overwhelming.
Levinson calls it emotional laziness. "It's amazing to me how much time people will put it into buying a TV because it's fun. But when it comes to remodeling a kitchen, people have no time. They see it as drudgery," Levinson says. Ultimately, he says, doing the research to protect yourself is much easier than paying for the consequences.
To help you differentiate a scam from the real deal, Bankrate has compiled a list of the most common remodeling scams. Beware of the following key phrases, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
'I just happen to be working in your neighborhood' This happens when contractors appear at your home unsolicited to inform you that they noticed some problems with your home's (insert: chimney, driveway, windows, plumbing, etc.) while working on a neighboring home. For example, a contractor might say he or she was on the roof of your neighbor's home and noticed missing shingles on your roof. This may be the case, but often no repair is needed.
More important, legitimate, established and reputable contractors tend to find enough work through word-of-mouth referrals that they don't need to be going door to door to attract customers. Be especially skeptical if the contractor drives a vehicle with no company name, no phone number or with out-of-state license plates. "Do not let these people enter your home," Johnson warns. "Often they want to be invited inside to see if something is worth stealing."
More from MSN and
Should you move or remodel?
Is it a pool or a money pit?
Top 10 remodeling projects for resale
Speed your home sale with these fast fix-ups
How much is too much on improvements?
Hot home trends: High-tech with soft touch
Also, be sure to ask for proof that he or she is insured, licensed and bonded. "Homeowners that check out contractors beforehand and research their credibility are usually more satisfied with the job than if they abruptly chose a contractor," says Jeremy Zidek, communications coordinator for the Better Business Bureau in Alaska.
'I have materials left over' Sometimes contractors will offer a discount for the job under the pretense that they have extra materials and want to use up their supply. Good contractors order just enough supplies to meet the needs of each job, as often the price for supplies is included in the contract.
If a contractor has materials left over from a previous job and is making them available to you, he either didn't finish the job or is cheating the previous customer. Or he didn't have a previous job but has materials to make it look like he did.
'I need cash upfront'This contractor will take your money and disappear before or (even worse) after your project gets under way. It can be frustrating trying to chase after him, getting him to come back and finish the job or hiring someone else to clean up a messy work site. Don't ever pay in full for a project before any work has been done.
Video: Make sure your home improvements pay off
However, you may be expected to pay a down payment. "The contractor may not want to block out time in his busy schedule without some money upfront," Levinson says. He recommends creating a payment schedule with the contractor at the start -- wherein you pay a sizable portion only upon completion of a project. Johnson swears by the one-third theory.

"The most I will ever give somebody upfront -- after I have called references and checked him out -- is one third of the money," he says. He pays another third when the project is halfway done. "Their profit is in their last payment; that's what going to keep them on the job."
'I have a special offer that's good for today only' If a contractor is offering a "special deal," ask him to legitimize what he is offering. Though this is a common sales technique, you can ask for documentation of this bargain -- a flier, for example, that the contractor has mailed or delivered in the past. Or one from another contractor at a higher price.
"Anytime a contractor puts pressure on a homeowner to act quickly about making a remodeling decision, that's a red flag," Zidek says. Remodeling decisions should be made carefully, not hastily.
'I can help you finance the project' Sometimes a contractor will suggest you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows. This could indicate a home-improvement loan scam, as the contractor may be getting kickbacks from the lender.
Video: Make sure your home improvements pay off
Homeowners may believe they're financing a small remodeling project loan, when in fact they're signing for a much larger loan, if not completely refinancing their home. Never finance through your contractor without shopping around and comparing loan terms.
'I want to use your home as a model'The scam centers on the idea of using your home as a vehicle, or "show home," to advertise their services in return for a hefty discount.
Established contractors should have completed enough previous projects that they won't need your job as a demonstration.
Still more scams Though any part of your home could be a target, many scams tend to center around driveways, roofs, chimneys and furnaces:
Driveway sealant scam. If a contractor offers to seal your driveway for a heavily discounted price, find out what materials will be used as sealant. Cheap, inferior substances may look great initially but will wear off in three months.
Chimney repair. These scam artists often lure their victims via advertisements in local newspapers offering gutter cleaning at a cheap price. Once the work is performed, they claim the chimney is in dire need of structural repairs. To provide so-called evidence of this, they will make it look like the chimney is in a state of decay by removing bricks and mortar from the chimney. Note: There might be decay if you burn a lot of wood and don't get your chimney inspected every year. Another chimney scam is when a contractor says there's a threat of carbon monoxide poisoning if the chimney is not repaired immediately. This is a serious concern, so if you are unsure about whether to trust this person, get a second opinion from a reputable contractor.
Hot-tar roofing. Contractors often use substandard materials. You may not realize you've been duped until heavy rains cause the roof to leak. "If you're having major work done, ensure that your contract has a holdback clause where you withhold the final payment until 30 days after completion of a project," Levinson says.
Furnace repair. Once they inspect your furnace, they may claim it is leaking dangerous gases or is about to explode. Ask your utility company to come and inspect your system. Also be wary if they tell you the unit is too small or needs a complete overhaul. When choosing a contractor, always get several estimates on the needed repair.
Duct cleaning. Only in very unusual circumstances do ducts need to be cleaned. The scheme is called a "blow and go" because the scam artist will use a small vacuum cleaner with no special filters to stir up the dust, pollen, mold and other contaminants instead of removing them. Duct cleaning can be necessary if there is mold in the house or if the heating or air conditioning has been running with inadequate or nonexistent filtering. If you change filters regularly, your ducts don't need to be cleaned.
This article was reported and written by Alana Klein for

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


How long does it take to sell a home?
There is no easy answer-some homes sell in a few days, other may take several months.
Recognizing the key factors influencing a sale can give you significant control over market time.

The proper balance of these factors will expedite your sale:
Location is the single greatest factor affecting value.
Neighborhood desirability is fundamental to a property’s fair market value.

Buyers compare your property against competing properties.
Buyers interpret value based on available properties.

The real estate market may reflect a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.
Market conditions cannot be manipulated; an individually tailored marketing plan must be developed accordingly.

Property condition affects price and speed of sale.
Optimizing physical appearances and advance preparation for marketing maximizes value.

The more flexible the financing, the broader the market, the quicker the sale and the higher the price.
Terms structured to meet your objectives are important to successful marketing.

· If the property is not properly priced, a sale may be delayed or even prevented.
· Keller Williams Realty’s comprehensive market study will assist you in determining the best possible price.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Keller Williams Realty Annual Client Appreciation Event!

We are having a private showing of Shrek 3 on Saturday, June 2nd at 10:00 am at the Emagine Theatre at 39535 Ford Rd. in Canton. You must RSVP By May 22nd: 734-266-9000
Doors OPen @ 9:30 am. Come Early for best seats! Please Present Your Postcard As Your Ticket!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


14041 Warwick

Sunday, April 22, 2007

2 pm- 5 pm

Come see this Lovely, Adorable 3 bedroom, 2.1 bath, Brick , Bungalow!

Call listing agent for directions or more information: 734-742-2155

Friday, April 13, 2007

Think You're Ready To Buy a Home?

Get your house in order before you start shopping. Here's what you need to do, and when.By Liz Pulliam Weston

Buying a home is a complicated process, and it can be particularly daunting for the first-timer.
The following timeline starts one year before you hope to start seriously shopping for a home. This is an ideal; you can arrange your finances and buy a home in less time, if necessary, but you'd be smart to walk through all of the steps in order. The more time you give yourself for this process, the better.
A year out (or as soon as possible)
Get your credit reports. Errors on your reports can force you to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage or even torpedo your chances of getting a loan. You can get free copies of your reports from the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- at Look for accounts that aren't yours, collection accounts for debts you don't owe and negative marks (other than bankruptcy) that are older than seven years.
You should be able to dispute errors with the bureaus and get them removed, but if the bureaus or the creditors balk, you may need to hire an attorney. (The National Association of Consumer Advocates can refer you to lawyers with knowledge of the credit-reporting and debt-collecting laws.) Don't leave yourself in the position of having to pay a bogus collection account to get the loan you want or paying unnecessary interest because of credit-report errors.
Get -- and improve -- your FICO credit scores. Your credit scores, which are three-digit numbers used to gauge your creditworthiness, help determine the rates and terms you can get for a loan. There are hundreds of different credit-scoring formulas, but the one used by the vast majority of mortgage lenders is the FICO.
Video: Buy your first home in a year
The only place you can buy your FICO scores for all three credit bureaus is A package of three scores and three credit reports costs about $50. You can learn more about credit scores, how they work and how to improve them at MSN Money's Your Credit Rating Decision Center, and you can get a copy of my best-selling book, "Your Credit Score: How To Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future," which was published in a second edition in February 2007 (end of shameless plug). Three keys to better credit: Pay all your bills on time, pay down your credit cards and other revolving debt, and don't open (or close) any accounts while you're in the market for a mortgage.
More on MSN
It's bargain time for homebuyers
MSN Money: Which mortgage is best for you?
What your real estate agent won't tell you
MSN Money lending directory
Talk about it: What makes a home stand out?
Video: How much house can you buy?
7 traps for first-time buyers
Consider a credit-monitoring service. Normally, I think these are a waste of money for folks who aren't at high risk of identity theft. But given how important your credit and credit scores will be in buying a home, you might appreciate the early warning if a collector tries to post a bogus debt.
Deal with your debt. Most people needn't pay off their student loans, auto loans or other generally low-rate debt before getting a mortgage. What you want to eradicate is "toxic" debt: credit card balances and payday loans. These are signs you're living beyond your means. If you don't get your overspending problem fixed before you buy a home, your problems will likely just get worse because homeownership typically involves plenty of big costs (property taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, improvements, decorating). Get your act together before you house shop.
Save, save, save. Stop eating out. Drop your cable-TV subscription. Do everything you can think of to put as much money aside as possible, using your desire to be a homeowner as a motivator. (Read "Could you stop spending for a month?" for inspiration.) In today's market, it's best to have at least a 5% down payment; boost that to 10% and you'll have even more financing options. Ideally, you'll also have enough left over after you get your mortgage to cover the payments for two or three months.
Put your bills on automatic. A single 30-day late payment can knock 100 points off your score, and it can take many, many months to recover. Make sure every bill gets paid on time. If you don't have a reliable bill-paying system, consider using automatic debits, so payments come directly from your checking account, or an online bill-payment system's recurring-payment feature.
6 months out
Sort through your mortgage options. A lot of people are losing their homes today because they didn't understand what kind of mortgage they had or they accepted bad advice. The low teaser payments that allowed them to buy a more expensive house have jumped skyward, leaving them unable to pay. It's up to you to understand the risks of the different types of mortgages and to select the right one for your family. My 2 cents: Stick with traditional, fixed-rate mortgages. If you can't commit to a 30-year version, at least use a hybrid loan with a rate that's fixed for as long as you plan to own the home.
Start calculating how much house you can afford. Once you've settled on a type of mortgage and have a rough idea of your down payment, you can start using online calculators like this one at to see how much house you can buy. Consider buying less home than the absolute maximum you can afford; if you keep your housing expenses (mortgage, taxes and insurance) to 25% of your gross income, you'll be able to live more comfortably and have money left over for things like retirement savings, vacations and the kids' college educations.
Research all the costs of owning a home. Your mortgage will be just the start. You'll have to pay property taxes and insurance on the home. There may be homeowners- or condo-association fees as well. You may face higher utility bills, and you'll take on maintenance and repair costs as well. Decorating your new house can cost a pile of money as well -- have you shopped for window coverings lately? Your home-owning friends and a friendly real estate agent or two can help fill you in so you know what to expect.
Adjust your savings strategies. What you've learned so far may inspire you to boost your savings. A bigger down payment, for example, can result in a larger home or a lower mortgage payment. Or you may simply want to build up your emergency fund so unexpected home expenses don't knock your finances off the rails.
3 months out
Reduce your credit utilization. The FICO scoring formula is sensitive to how much of your available limits you're using on your credit cards and other revolving lines of credit. The less, the better. It doesn't matter if you pay your balances in full every month; the figure the scoring formula typically uses is the balance that shows on your most recent statement. Try to keep that balance below 30%, or even lower. If you can't -- because you charge a lot for work-related travel, for example -- make a payment before the statement's closing date to reduce the balance reported to the bureaus. Just be sure to make a second payment after the closing date, so you don't get reported as late.
Don't open or close any accounts. Until the mortgage process is completed and you've moved into your new home, continue to avoid actions that could potentially harm your credit, such as opening credit accounts or closing old ones.
2 months out
Get an idea of the mortgage rate you can expect. Order a fresh set of FICO credit scores -- don't worry, checking your scores doesn't ding them -- and talk to some mortgage lenders about what rates you might qualify for. (You'll find current national averages here.) Don't apply yet or give permission for your credit to be pulled; you just want to get a feel for what you can expect.
Understand the effect of mortgage-shopping on your score. You want to get the best rate and terms possible, which means you'll need to shop around, but how does that affect your credit score? Here's the lowdown: Every time you give a lender permission to check your credit, a "hard inquiry" appears on your credit report, and that can ding your score a bit. Fortunately, the FICO scoring formula lumps all mortgage-related inquiries made within a specified period and counts them as one. (The period used to be 14 days, but the most recent versions stretch that to 45 days.) Furthermore, the scoring formula ignores any inquiries made in the previous 30 days. So you want to do your serious mortgage shopping in a fairly concentrated period of time, typically after your offer on the home you want is accepted.
Get approved for a mortgage ahead of time. Pre-approval, in which a lender gives a commitment to make you a loan, is different and more valuable to sellers than pre-qualification, which merely gives you an idea of the size of the mortgage you might afford without making any commitments. You don't have to get a loan from the lender that offers you a pre-approval letter. Getting a pre-approval does involve giving permission for a hard credit inquiry, but the small potential ding on your credit is worth it because you'll be in a stronger position with sellers.
Consider a mortgage broker. Once your offer is approved, you can shop for a mortgage on your own, but if you want a lot of hand-holding through this process or your credit is particularly troubled, you might benefit from the services of an experienced, ethical mortgage broker. Get referrals from family and friends; you can also get a referral from the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.
Begin researching neighborhoods and look for an agent. Check Internet listings, attend open houses and find an experienced guide to help you refine what you're seeking.
Once you've found your home and your offer is accepted
Shop for a mortgage. There are thousands available, and sorting through the possibilities can be overwhelming. That said, you may want to include some of the biggies (Washington Mutual, Countrywide and Wells Fargo are three biggest mortgage lenders in the country) as well as online brokers such as LendingTree and E-Loan. You'll need to move fairly quickly to secure the loan, because the full approval process typically takes four to six weeks.
Arrange for an appraisal, a home inspection and a walk-through. The appraisal is required for your loan to be approved. An inspection isn't necessarily required, but don't skip this essential step, which can alert you to serious problems before the deal closes. The walk-through is usually done within 24 hours of the deal closing, so you can make sure that the home sellers have performed any agreed-upon repairs and the place is in move-in condition.
Get homeowners' insurance. Mortgage lenders require this coverage, and you'll need to prove you have it at closing.
Confirm how much money you'll need at closing. "Closing" is when you sign all the paperwork and pay agreed-upon amounts, which can include your down payment and your share of legal fees, paperwork costs, property taxes and title insurance.
Enjoy your new home!
Liz Pulliam Weston answers reader questions on MSN Money's Your Money message board.

5 Remodeling Projects Under $10,000

Thanks to

5 remodeling projects under $10,000
You don't have to add a room. Simple things like windows and landscaping may give you more bang for your buck.By Alex Markels, U.S. News & World Report

So you've decided not to trade up after all. Even more, you don't want to dump a lot of money into fixing up your house if its value -- and your equity -- are likely to be flat or even falling in the next few years.
That said, you can still add to your home's resale value (and your happiness) with a budget-minded remodeling project. True, of the top 10 projects for increasing your home's value for the dollars spent, "there's really only two or three that you can do for under $10,000," says Sal Alfano, editorial director at Remodeling magazine, whose annual "Cost Versus Value" report ranks the projects with the biggest payback.
But while adding a bathroom (about $30,000), a sunroom ($50,000) or a master bedroom suite ($95,000 and up) will return about 70 cents for every dollar invested, Alfano's latest analysis finds that you may get more bang for your buck with lower-cost improvements, such as replacing the windows ($10,000), siding ($9,000), or the kitchen cabinets and appliances ($17,000), which will yield some 88 cents on the dollar.
Of course, you might not get quite as much enjoyment out of new vinyl siding as you would from, say, a new bathroom with a sunken tub and Jacuzzi jets. "But you'll increase your curb appeal and lower your maintenance," says Alfano, "which will definitely add to your happiness."
Here are five remodeling projects, each of which can be completed for about $10,000, and all of which can help make you feel better about staying put:
More on MSN
10 products that turn home into heaven
Tired of your yard? Pave it over
MSN Money: Is it a pool . . . or a money pit?
10 things your interior designer won't tell you
MSN Lifestyle: Fix it or ditch it? Tough calls on household appliances
Does going solar pay off?
Talk about it: What's your fantasy remodel?
A basic bathroom makeover
Unlike adding a bathroom, which between plumbing and all the rest runs $30,000 and up, a basic makeover can be done for a third of the cost and offer more bang for the buck, especially if you have two bathrooms (which is considered about average for a three-bedroom home).
Start by upgrading your old toilet to a low-flow model. Then add new tile, such as glass varieties that can give the illusion of depth in a small space. (Ideas and examples are at Starting at about $5 a square foot, these popular tiles can also be used to accent lower-cost ceramic tiles.
"Maybe the bulk of the room is just plain ceramic vanilla, but then you splurge on metallic blue glass for the border and it creates a stunning effect for not much money," says Alfano.
A deck is a simple way to add space
Adding an outdoor deck is perhaps the most affordable way to expand your home's footprint, and it's an especially good idea if you need to keep up with the Joneses.
"If everyone else in the neighborhood has one, it's probably a good investment to have one too," says Alfano.
Thanks to weatherproof composite materials that have largely replaced traditional redwood decking, the days of warped timbers and messy annual coats of sealant are long gone. That said, decks made from the most popular composites -- like plastic-and-wood Trex -- typically cost more than wood (about $14,000 for a 16-by-20-foot finished deck). By simply cutting back on square footage, you can easily stay under $10,000.
"Just make sure it's bigger than your average stoop (about 6 by 8 feet)," says Alfano. "Then you at least have enough room for a barbecue and a couple of lounge chairs."
A garden fit for a queen
Landscaping is perhaps the cheapest, most underrated way to improve a home's curb appeal. But instead of simply resodding a weed-infested yard, consider planting an English garden of flowers, trees and stone (you'll find design ideas at
Or, if you live in an arid climate, try ornamenting your yard with desert plants, which can reduce water consumption by 60% (see examples at
Do-it-yourselfers can usually install a medium-size garden in a weekend or two, and the impact is almost as immediate. "For one thing, you won't have to mow the lawn the next weekend," says Alfano.
New windows will brighten your outlook
It's amazing what new windows can do for your perspective and for your home's curb appeal. In recent years, vinyl models have dramatically improved in quality while falling in price. Although they come in only a few basic colors -- mostly white, black and beige -- they never need repainting, and their double- and even triple-pane glass makes them vastly more efficient than older windows, especially those framed in poorly insulating aluminum.
Window replacements can be done in stages. But Alfano of Remodeling magazine suggests doing at least 10 at a time, which installers can usually complete in a day.
Even better, if you install Energy Star-rated models in 2007 (examples at, you can take advantage of a $500 federal tax credit that will nearly cover the cost of the first two windows.
Sprucing up your kitchen
A kitchen remodel for under $10,000? It's doable if you head for the nearest Ikea megastore, where a set of 18 replacement cabinets will run you about $4,000 and up. Add $3,000 for installation and about $1,500 for new Formica countertops, and you'll transform your kitchen for about the cost of a fancy Sub-Zero refrigerator.
Another option is to reface your existing cabinets, leaving shelves in place but laminating exposed surfaces and replacing the doors, which can cost about a third as much as new cabinets but yield much the same result.
If you're content with your cabinets, consider investing your money in new high-efficiency appliances (you can find a list of top-rated models at Alfano says that will both improve your home's marketability and reduce your electric bill.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


2 New Listings: Multi-Family & Cape Cod

1. 12012 Birwood: Income Bungalow. 2 bdrm unit lower/1 bedroom unit upper.
2. 21905 Evergreen: 4 bedroom Cape Cod.

Call Listing Agent for more information: 734-742-2155

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


14300 Glastonbury

This exquisite 3 bedroom house will be having an open house Sunday, April 15, 2007 starting at 2pm until 5pm.

If you like this emaculate kitchen, then you have to come to open house to see the rest!
Call the listing Agent for more information!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Seller's To Do List

Thanks to Real Estate

Selling? Here's your to-do list
When the housing market's iffy, it's more vital than ever to make home repairs, spiff up the kitchen and bathroom, get rid of odd paint colors and bare patches of lawn, and consider other improvements.By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch
MarketWatch: Should you tap friends, family for remodeling help?
MarketWatch: Impress buyers with an energy-efficient home
MarketWatch: 6 tips for selling on your own
The interior walls are neutral. The clutter is a distant memory. A shower door has been replaced; even the design of the bedspread has been factored in. A professional inspection and appraisal have limited any surprises down the road. Now, the Green family's Chicago home is ready for sale.
"We're paving the road to make the closing process much smoother," Dan Green said.
He even created a blog, partly as a marketing tool for his Lincoln Park neighborhood home.
In an uncertain market, a little extra work can mean not only a smoother sale or a higher listing price, but also determine whether sellers get to the closing table at all.
"Talk to Realtors and they will tell you anything you do cosmetically to increase curb appeal is going to help the resale value," said Sal Alfano, the editor of Remodeling magazine.
In addition, many buyers stretch financially to get into a home, so they may pass over one needing too much work, said David Lupberger, a home-improvement expert for ServiceMagic, which connects homeowners with screened home-service professionals.
"The last thing you want is a list of projects that has to be taken care of," he said.
Here's the bright spot: Some of the most effective improvements aren't very expensive. Giving rooms a fresh coat of paint, for example, quickly pays off.
If you're planning to add a "for sale" sign to the lawn this spring, consider these five areas while creating your to-do list.
1. First impressions count
You want to make a good impression from the moment potential buyers pull up to the house, experts say. First glimpses will include the home's exterior, the shrubbery, the gutters and the front door.
Peeling trim could be a kiss of death. Paint the exterior of the home in an odd color, and you could turn away potential buyers before they come inside. Don't underestimate the importance of good lawn care, either.
More on MSN
Talk about it: Readers share what makes a home stand out
8 hot design trends with big payoffs
How to sell in a homebuyer's market
What's 'beautiful' worth? About $12,500
5 tips for a better open house
MSN Money: Speed your sale with these fast fix-ups
Video: Should you negotiate commissions?
"A lawn that looks good on the outside gives the impression that someone cares about that home," said Trey Rogers, a professor of turf-grass management at Michigan State University and the author of "Lawn Geek," a book of tips on how to maintain a lawn.
His advice is to "keep it green and keep it cut." Mow the lawn to about 3 inches high at least twice a week when a home is on the market; 2 inches if the home is in a Southern state. The more it is mowed, the denser it will become. And get on a fertilization program, Rogers said, starting at the beginning of the season.
If there are small spots to fill in, bypass store-bought sod and instead borrow some grass from an inconspicuous place elsewhere on the lawn, Rogers said. The grasses will match better that way.
Early birds selling at the tail end of winter should keep the sidewalks shoveled if there is snow on the ground.
2. Neutralize and de-clutter
When it comes to preparing a home's interior, any real estate professional or stager worth a paycheck will advise a client to go with neutral colors.
"People can't visualize beyond what they see," said Jim Gillespie, the president and CEO of Coldwell Banker. Neutral colors, including beige and ivory, have the added advantage of making a room appear larger, an effect that Dan Green noticed right away when he repainted his bedroom walls.
Removing the home's clutter is also extremely important for helping potential buyers to imagine their family living in the home, Gillespie said.
Beyond that, do some spring cleaning: Shampoo the carpets, rebuff hardwood floors and oil wood cabinetry.
3. Consider replacement projects
Sellers might consider getting a home inspection before listing their home as a way to detect any overdue replacement projects, Gillespie said. The sellers can either fix any problems or give the buyers a discount to account for the repairs. Gillespie advocates making the necessary repairs before selling.
Homebuyers recognize the value of a house that doesn't need major repairs, said Remodeling editor Alfano.
"The house is probably not going to move, or you're not going to get all the value out it, if the new buyer knows they're going to have to replace the roof sometime soon," he said.
According to the 2006 "Cost vs. Value" report from Remodeling magazine, a roof replacement for a midrange home cost an average of $14,276 and returned $10,553, or 73%, at resale. Replacing vinyl siding cost $9,134 on average, returning $7,963, or 87%, at resale.
A printable PDF of the report includes regional figures.
4. Kitchens and bathrooms rule
It's no secret that buyers tend to be awed by updated kitchens and bathrooms.
"If the last time it was remodeled was in 1980, that's going to be points against, versus another house that was upgraded even five years ago with sort of a modern look," Alfano said. "It's hard to go wrong with a kitchen or bath remodel, unless you get a little too edgy with the design or the materials you use."
That said, sellers spending only a couple of years in a house probably aren't going to completely remodel either room. Sellers should zero in on where these rooms need the most improvement, said Lupberger, of ServiceMagic, and then decide how much they want to spend.
If kitchen cabinets are structurally fine but their exteriors are outdated, it might be worth it to reface them, Lupberger said. If counters are old, replacing them may add new life to the room. In the bathroom, look into resurfacing a chipped or damaged bathtub.
5. Warranty coverage and documentation
Sellers can provide some extra peace of mind to buyers by purchasing a warranty on their home that will cover such things as heating and plumbing, should the buyer run into problems after closing. The coverage is becoming a little more popular, Coldwell Banker's Gillespie said. Warranties can be bought from companies such as American Home Shield and AON.
"Little things like that . . . you need that today, to set the property apart with all the competition out there," Gillespie said.
He also recommends displaying the age of the water heater and furnace. If either one is on the older side, have it inspected for proof that it works correctly.
If you've done replacement projects in the past few years, dig out the documentation to prove it, Alfano said. If any of the improvements cut energy costs, make that known, too.
"You never really could (miss), but it wasn't on the tip of everybody's tongue," Alfano said. "Now, it's in the news all the time."

Here is the link to the actual article:

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Beautiful 4 bedroom Colonial. Many Updates. Range, Frig, Dishwasher, Microwave, Washer, and Dryer. All appliances Stay. Backyard Deck. Next to back entrance to Inglenook Park. Quiet end of block. Beautiful landscape. You must see this! Seller is motivated.

Click Here: ( To see the virtual tour!