Buying a home is one of the biggest investments anyone will make in their lifetime and thus one of the most stressful ones as well. Aside from the high cost of the investment, the fact that a new house is the place you'll spend the next 10 or more years calling home means buyers should search for the most value their money can buy. Home Evaluation How is value determined? Home appraisals, or home evaluations, are an important step in buying or selling a home. For the buyer, the bank financing the purchase performs an evaluation to determine the monetary value of the home and thus whether or not the requested loan amount is a good investment. A bad evaluation can be the difference between a buyer securing the financing to complete the purchase and having to walk away from a sale. On the flip side, current homeowners, prior to selling, will usually request an independent evaluation of their own to determine the value of their property as well as what repairs or renovations can be done to increase the estimate. Particularly if you're selling a property for which a mortgage is still owed, underselling a home is always a bad financial decision. In today's connected world, social media is a great tool for sorting through appraisers to find the best person for the job. What's Involved with a Home Evaluation? It should be noted that a home evaluation is not the same as a home inspection. The latter is a structural examination of the property to determine whether any repairs are needed or if any safety issues exist. A home evaluation deals primarily with the surface aspects of the home such as appearance or the quality of the neighborhood. Nevertheless, since a home evaluation deals primarily with "first impressions," it's helpful to know what the process entails so that sellers can improve the value of their property and buyers can be informed. Curb Appeal and Yard Maintenance Whether it's a lack of time, money or the manpower to do the work, many homeowners adopt the habit of neglecting the outside of their home. Overgrown grass, weeds growing between cracks in the sidewalk, broken porch steps and damaged siding are but a few examples of what will lead prospective buyers to drive past a home and the owner to sustain a property devaluation. A neglected exterior may also signify to a prospective buyer that a yard's size is too big to manage. Structural Appearance While a home evaluation does not look closely at the structural integrity of the property, it's possible to judge the condition of the roof, signs of leakage around window frames and the quality of the siding just by walking around the exterior of the home. Touching up the exterior paint or spending a few thousand dollars to add a second layer of roof shingles will increase the value of a home. Interior Design How a home is decorated will greatly influence the evaluator's opinion. This is known as home staging. An open floor plan with modern furniture, bright colors to lighten the space and decluttered rooms all add value to a home. The key is to remove any reminder that a family already lives there and instead create a magazine-esque look that anyone can envision as their own. Renovations and Updated Appliances Renovated kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are a perfect example of how investing $5,000 in updating your home will add $15,000 to the property's value. Features like these are also what prospective buyers are looking for because no one wants to spend additional money on renovations after buying a new home.
Competition is fierce in a housing market still reeling from the collapse of 2008. Buyers are out there and eager to find a new neighborhood, but they have plenty of options and many houses are selling at desperate prices. In order to generate interest and get the best possible price for your house, you will need to make it stand out. These are the five easiest and most effective ways to boost your home's value and improve your odds of making a quick sale. Remove Personal Touches Buyers want to imagine their new home full of their own personal belongings and ready to make some memories. They don't want to see family portraits, knick-knacks and your child's macaroni artwork. When in doubt, model your house after a catalog: clean, spacious and a little bland. Perform a deep cleaning within every room, and use that time as an opportunity to remove clutter and anything that will remind buyers of another family's presence. By the time you start showing, your house should be a blank canvas. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint Nothing spruces up a house like new paint. Years of use and exposure to the elements will wear out even the most durable paints, and you may not have noticed the gradual fading and accumulation of dirt. Buyers will, however, and see it as just another renovation that must be done before they can enjoy their new residence. On the other hand, bright, fresh paint instantly increases a house's appeal. Use attractive, neutral colors that will complement most furniture and not turn off prospective purchasers. Landscape People love spending time outside, and an overgrown or boring yard is unlikely to win your home any fans. Even if you have already moved out, stop by or hire someone to keep the lawn mowed and weeds pulled. Adding flower beds, trees and ornamental bushes adds to your maintenance costs, but they also improve your house's first impression on buyers. If done properly, a little landscaping can add thousands of dollars to your sale price. Get Rid of Old Carpeting Much like dingy paint, old carpeting is one of the fastest ways to decrease a home's value. Carpets hold smells and stains for years, trap dirt and are out of style. If you are having a hard time selling your home, installing hardwood flooring and tiles in several rooms may prove to be a profitable investment. Otherwise, determine which floors are the worst and swap them out with new carpeting to give the entire house a face-lift. Update Bathrooms and the Kitchen The home renovations with the highest ROI are bathroom and kitchen updates. Upgrading to modern appliances and technology can bring a home into the 21st century and make buyers forget that they are purchasing used. Refurbished cabinets and counter-tops are the bare minimum, but the real value comes with new toilets, sinks, refrigerators and stoves. Do what you can afford, and you may find families lining up to make an offer on a home that had previously been stagnant on the market.
A longing to make the busiest room in the home function and look better has made bathroom renovations the most popular home remodeling projects that homeowners undertake. Bathroom renovations account for nearly 30 percent of home improvement projects. Prioritizing design goals helps homeowners get the job done right. Some people simply want the bathroom to work more efficiently, with more storage and with fixtures that are more efficient. Others want features that make the room function as a home spa. Most want a bathroom that looks and feels up-to-date. Too often, bathrooms become dated, trapped in a time capsule. While mid-century bathrooms can have a retro charm, it’s a style that doesn’t always gel with the style of the rest of the home or with the homeowner’s personal taste. Setting Priorities Before contacting contractors, before shopping for products or even before sketching out the first layout, homeowners need to set clear design goals. It’s not only important to decide upon a decorative style for the busy room, but to determine the desired mood and atmosphere of the space. Creating an environment that suits the lifestyles of those who inhabit the space is the best guarantee for a successful bathroom renovation. Whether it’s a sleek, modern room with an invigorating energy that helps people get up and get out the door on time in the morning, or whether it’s a warm and serene environment that helps people relax and unwind at the end of a busy day, designing for an atmosphere that enhances personal lifestyles helps ensure that the bathroom renovation will be worthwhile. Planning and Preparation One of the most pleasurable aspects of bathroom renovations is creating a wish list for the project. Collecting pictures of products, materials and decorative styles that are personally appealing into an idea folder is a good way to start. A scaled drawing of the existing bathroom, illustrating both the location of windows and doors as well as utility lines and outlets helps set design parameters. Some homeowners will choose to consult with a designer or architect to create a tentative floor plan. Others may prefer to layout the space themselves, either by drawing plans or by using 3-D software. Choosing a Contractor The most important decision of all when undertaking a bathroom renovation is choosing the contractor. It’s a decision that should never be rushed. Engaging a contractor and planning for the project typically takes longer than the renovation itself. It’s important to get estimates from several contractors. Homeowners should ask for references, both from clients and from suppliers, and should take the time to follow up with them, visiting completed projects whenever possible. Before signing a contract, homeowners will want to ensure that they understand the time-frame and work schedules for the renovation, the payment schedule and they types of payment that are accepted. A quality renovation will not only raise a home’s resale value, but will enhance the quality of life at home.