Spiff up your home’s landscaping for an Autumn sale

How does an extra 5 to 11% of your home’s selling price sound? Michigan State University researchers found that “… a good landscape adds 5 to 11% to the perceived value of a home.”

Your landscaping is one part of your home’s “curb appeal,” and if it’s attractive and eye-catching, it can go a long way to distracting potential homebuyers from other, negative aspects of the home’s exterior.

And the appearance of the exterior is critical when it comes to compelling potential buyers to want to see what’s inside the home.

Let’s take a look at your front yard and the improvements that the researchers suggest to increase the value of the home.

Sophisticated designs add the most value

Sophisticated landscaping is balanced. The researchers explain balance in a landscape where “… no element overwhelms the others.”

The hardscape (anything that isn’t growing, such as a birdbath, statuary, etc.) is in balance with the natural elements and the number of large trees doesn’t overwhelm the number of shrubs and other plants.

The survey found that a home with only a lawn in the front yard, offered at $300,000 would bring $315,000 to $330,000 if the landscaping was more sophisticated.

Diversity isn’t only about people

The diversity of landscape elements was second on the list of most valuable features, according to the Michigan State University study.

Balance the colors, of plants and hardscape, to achieve this diversity.

Add pops of color to break up the monotony of an all-green landscape or, in autumn, all the fall colors. If your trees are gold and maroon, add some white flowering annuals, or blue hardscaping (a birdbath, colored gravel or cobalt planting pots, etc).

Big trees are popular

Any tree on the property will add value to the home, according to an Arbor Day Foundation study. In fact, the study found a 15% increase in home value when trees are present.

Some landscape elements detract from the home’s value

When shopping for plants for the front yard, keep in mind that homebuyers don’t like yards with only small plants. If this describes your yard, consider the purchase of at least one tall tree. It may just help you maintain your asking price for the home.

While your front yard landscaping isn’t the whole ball of wax when it comes to curb appeal, it’s one of the most important aspects.

Soon, we’ll discuss other ways to spruce up the home’s exterior to ensure those buyers get out of the car and into the home.

Easy tips to secure your home in one weekend

When moving into a new home, securing it is typically on the “to-do” list. After you’ve lived in a home for a length of time, however, security becomes an after-thought, which puts yourself and your family in danger.

FBI data claims that “In 2018, there were an estimated 1,230,149 burglaries.” Nearly 60% of these were classified as “forceable entry” burglaries.

We don’t want you to be among the victims, so let’s get started on at least the basics of securing your home against intruders.

Start with the doors

It’s easy to overlook the unsecured window or other access points when you go about daily life. So, take a tour of the entire home, with an eye toward security.

Examine all doors that lead to the exterior of the home first. They should have deadbolt locks, yes. But, if the home is old, the door may be feeble and easy to knock in. You may need to replace the door with something sturdier.

Security experts recommend metal or solid wood doors. They also suggest that you place the hinges on the interior of the home. Finally, don’t forget the deadbolt lock with a minimum 1-inch bolt length.

You might also consider adding an additional lock. “You should have a minimum of two locks at main entryways,” cautions Manasa Reddigari at BobVila.com.

Many Americans have sliding glass doors to the backyard and these, experts claim, are the ones burglars like the best. Why?

“Sliding glass doors use latches, not locks,” according to Bobby McAfee with Crime Prevention Security Systems. “Even inexperienced burglars can quickly overcome most factory-installed latches,” he continues. Or they might simply lift the door off its track and out of the way, which usually doesn’t even require tools.”

There are a number of options a homeowner can use to secure these doors:

  • Install a security pin (sold on Amazon.com and at large home improvement stores)
  • Install shatterproof film – while it won’t keep a window from breaking, it will slow the process
  • Install a home security system with glass-break sensors

While you’re assessing the doors to the exterior of the home, take a look at what’s outside the doors. Is the area well-lit? Are there shrubs or trees that can hide a burglar who is trying to break into your home?

Clear away any overgrowth and use a porch light with a strong bulb.

Secure the home’s windows

Go through the home again, this time paying close attention to windows, especially those that are accessible at ground level.

Check the locks on each window first to ensure they’re engaged and, second that they are actually securing the window.

For extra security for ground-floor windows, consider installing inexpensive window alarms. You’ll find them for sale online at Amazon.com, Home Depot and Lowe’s.

We hope you’ll take the time to tour your home to determine how to beef up security.





Tips to consider when it’s time to purchase homeowners insurance

If you won’t be paying cash for your home the lender will require that you purchase a homeowners insurance policy. This will assure the lender that the home won’t be lost to fire, acts of God and other events. These policies also benefit the homeowner, so shop carefully.

What does a homeowners insurance policy cover?

America has learned a lot about the ins and outs of insurance policies over the past few years with the ushering in of mandatory health insurance. While some services are covered in everyone’s health insurance policy, we’ve learned that not all policies are alike in other aspects and that our coverage may be quite different from our neighbor’s. Homeowners insurance policies too have similarities and differences.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover the loss of the structure, its major systems, items inside the home and damage or destruction of other structures on the property (sheds, etc.).

Types of homeowners insurance policies

The insurance industry offers eight different policies from which to choose, known as HO-1 to HO-8 (there is no HO-7). HO-3 (known as the “open perils” policy) is the one most homeowners choose. With this, you will be covered for damage to the home and other structures on the property. The perils typically listed in the policy include:

  • Windstorm damage
  • Damage from hail
  • Explosion
  • Fire
  • Lightning

If you’re purchasing a condo you will be required to purchase the HO-6 policy and, for vintage home-buyers the HO-8 policy may be best.

Shop for a company that doesn’t require a 4-point inspection if the home hasn’t been updated.

How much coverage should I buy?

The lender, will of course, have a certain minimum amount of coverage required and after that, it’s up to you. Your insurance agent may counsel you, however, that it’s smart to get coverage that provides for 100 percent of the cost to rebuild the home, and we agree.

To determine how much coverage you’ll need for the home’s content requires a thorough inventory of everything in the home. The Insurance Information Institute’s website provides a tutorial on how to take such an inventory. You’ll find it by clicking here.

Don’t leave your insurance agent out of the loop. He or she is an expert who deals with these matters on a daily basis so seek your agent’s counsel.

Then there the additional policies for items not covered in your primary policy to consider. For instance, if you live in a flood plain you may need additional insurance coverage.

How to shop smart for homeowners insurance

The first insurance company to call for a quote should be the one that covers your vehicle. Then, use the quote to compare to others. Get at least three quotes, although we think five is better.

How much does homeowners insurance cost?

The average cost, nationwide, for homeowners insurance is $1,096, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Remember, this is an average so yours may be more or less.

What is a home insurance binder?

If the company you choose has yet to issue your actual policy by closing, your lender may request that you bring a binder to closing. This is, simply, a one-page document that contains the insurance company’s commitment to insure the home. It acts as proof-of-insurance in most instances.

If you continue to have questions regarding homeowners insurance, consult with your insurance agent – your best resource in this instance.

How to Cover a Hole Left By Removing Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is a popular lighting method in new residential construction. Lying flush to the ceiling, it provides a sleek modern accent to kitchens and baths.

Although attractive, recessed lightings are not energy efficient. They require higher wattage bulbs and, if not sealed properly, the hole allows cold air to enter the house.

For this reason, many homeowners are choosing to remove recessed lights. Once the canister is removed from the ceiling, though, you have a gaping hole to contend with.

Commercial blanks are available, in various sizes, that use a spring to hold the blank flush with the ceiling, or you can make your own patch.

Here’s what you’ll need for the project:

  • Pencil
  • Drywall saw
  • Utility knife
  • Rag
  • 1 x 4 pine
  • Saw
  • Construction adhesive
  • C-clamps
  • Measuring tape
  • Drywall
  • 1 ¼ inch drywall screws
  • Mesh drywall tape
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Drywall knife
  • Medium or coarse sandpaper

Use a pencil to draw a square around the hole, centering it on an adjacent stud.2.

Follow the penciled outline with the drywall saw, cutting off all sides of the square, except the one on the stud.

Use a utility knife to cut that side.Use a moist rag to dust off the edges of the hole to remove drywall dust and flakes.

Measure the height of the square hole and use the saw to cut the 1×4 6 inches longer than the square’s height.

Apply the construction adhesive to the top and bottom of the board in a 4-inch wide band, insert the board into the hole and press it to the inside wall, on the side adjacent to the stud.

Apply C-clamps to the top and bottom of the board to hold it in place against the wall. Allow the adhesive to dry completely and remove the clamps.

Measure the square and cut a piece of drywall to fit. Use the screws to fasten the drywall piece over the hole, screwing two into the stud, at the top and bottom of the square and two into the 1×4, at the top and bottom.

Cut the mesh tape into strips that are 2 inches longer than the square’s height and apply them to the wall, overlapping one another.

Apply the drywall compound with the drywall knife by spreading it over the mesh. Don’t apply too much – you should just barely see the mesh beneath the layer of compound. Feather the edges to the wall. Allow the compound to dry overnight.

Sand the area thoroughly to smooth it and remove rough edges.

Apply a second coat of drywall compound, spreading it an additional 4 inches on all sides, beyond the first application. Feather the edges so that they blend in with the surrounding wall.

Allow the compound to dry thoroughly and apply another coat. When this coat dries, sand again.

Navigating the offer to purchase a home

That feeling of accomplishment when you’ve finally found the home you want to purchase is well-deserved. Whether you looked at 10 homes or 50 in your quest to find the right one, you are one step closer to holding those keys in your hand.

The offer to purchase is one of the most significant documents you’ll ever put your signature to, so it’s important to think about it strategically before doing so. Here are a few things to think about.

  • Your house payment won’t be the only money you’ll spend on this home every month. Ask the seller for a ballpark figure of how much he or she pays for utility bills every month. If it’s significantly higher than what you’re accustomed to, it may push your monthly housing budget over your limit.
  • Don’t forget to take into account the homeowner association’s monthly fee, if you’ll be buying in a managed community.
  • Ask your insurance agent if the home is located in a floodplain. If so, you may be required to purchase flood insurance to protect the lender’s interest in the home. The average flood insurance premium is about $700 per year, or $58 per month, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Finally, ensure that the home is priced appropriately for the area and for the type of market we’re in. We are happy to run an analysis to provide you with the home’s current market value.

Now, back to the Offer to Purchase

There is much to consider when filling out the offer to purchase, but here are the most important things for you to think about.

How much should you offer?

If we were currently in a buyer’s market, where there are many homes for sale but few buyers in the market, you would have more leverage in negotiations with the seller.

Alas, it’s a seller’s market (few homes for sale and lots of buyers clamoring for them), so you’ll need to sweeten your offer, either by meeting the asking price or softening the contract’s terms.

One of the things we will help you with is determining if the home is priced right. An important question to ask is what percentage of the asking price are area sellers realizing?

The condition of the home is important to its market value as well. A well-maintained, clean home in move-in condition should sell close to asking price (if it’s priced at market value).

Rundown homes, or those that need substantial work, should be priced accordingly. If not, then you have some negotiating power.

Anatomy of the Offer to Purchase

Earnest money deposit

This is money that you’ll submit to the seller either with the offer to purchase or shortly after it is accepted. This is not the down payment (which is a lender requirement), but a good-faith offer to show you’re serious about buying the home.

The amount of money you’ll be asked for depends on a number of factors. The good news is that this money eventually goes toward the purchase and will reduce your closing costs.

Personal property

The home and land are considered real property and anything that isn’t attached to the home or land is considered personal property.

Sellers often include (and buyers often ask for) personal property in the purchase of the home.  This includes:

  • Gardening equipment: Snow blowers, lawn mowers, cultivators and tools.
  • Appliances that aren’t built in: This includes the washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove and microwave, if they aren’t built-in.
  • Furniture and window coverings: If you want either or both, we’ll need to ask for them in the offer to purchase if it isn’t stated in the listing that they remain in the home.

When do you want to close?

This may seem like a straightforward question until you understand the different strategies. If you close toward the end of the month you’ll save money because your prorated interest payment at closing will be smaller.

If you’re crunched for cash, however, you may want to close earlier in the month. Yes, the pre-paid interest amount will be higher but, because it’s paid in arrears, you won’t owe your first mortgage payment for two months. Speak with your lender about which scenario fits your financial circumstances.

If you are purchasing the home near the fall and winter holidays either set the closing date well before or after. Real estate professionals, including lenders, title folks and real estate agents tend to take time off during the holidays and, naturally, work slows down.

The home inspection contingency

Never waive it ― even if you’re buying a newly-constructed home.

As the ink dries on your offer to purchase, a flurry of activity begins taking place behind the scenes. I’ll get together with the listing agent to make arrangements for the seller to receive your offer.

The seller will accept it, submit a counter offer with a different price, terms or both, or reject it.  If the offer is accepted, escrow opens, the clock starts ticking and time is of the essence.

Questions? Feel free to reach out; we are happy to answer them.

Tips for National Preparedness Month

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Each September, National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.”

Nothing could have prepared us for the COVID19 pandemic. Basic disaster preparedness, however, would’ve kept Americans out of the lines at the grocery store, facing bare shelves.

While California burns and two tropical storms threaten the Gulf Coast, it’s a good time to remind homeowners that preparation is the key to meeting your most critical needs during an emergency.

Make a plan

Preparing your home and family for emergencies requires planning. The first step is to make a list of what you’ll need, such as food, medical supplies and lots of water.

You’ll find an extensive list of emergency supplies at Ready.gov. Some of the most important, aside from the aforementioned, include:

  • Batteries
  • Books, puzzles, games for the kids
  • Cash
  • Cell phone chargers and a back-up battery
  • Change of clothing (including shoes) for the entire family
  • Contact lens solution and an extra set of prescription glasses
  • Feminine supplies
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First Aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, birth certificates, bank account numbers
  • Infant formula, bottles and other supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Moist toilettes
  • Non-prescription medications
  • Paper and pencil
  • Paper plates and cups and plastic utensils
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

If money is tight right now, as it is for many Americans, take the accumulation of supplies at a slower pace. Purchase an extra can of food when grocery shopping, or stock up on water first.

Store your supplies

You’ll want to keep your kit in a cool, dry place that is easily accessible in an emergency. Ensure that every member of the family can access it safely.

Many preppers suggest keeping the emergency supplies in backpacks in case you need to leave the home quickly. Even a child can carry some supplies in a lightweight backpack.

You aren’t finished yet

To be fully prepared, you’ll need a smaller version of the home kit for your car and one for your office.

For the latter, pare it down to at least 24 hours’ worth of food and water, but also include any medications you use daily, walking shoes or boots and a jacket.

Your car kit can, and should, contain much of what you are storing at home, plus the addition of the following:

  • Blankets
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Cat litter or sand (for better tire traction)
  • Extra change of clothing, including sturdy walking shoes
  • Flares
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Map

Learn more about how to prepare the car for emergencies at Ready.gov.

On a final note, keep those important documents in a secure container where they will remain dry. Consider investing in a metal lock box, such as this one sold at Amazon.com

You must contact your homeowners’ insurance company immediately after the disaster to be eligible for FEMA assistance, so keep that policy safe.

Easy ways to update your kitchen and wow homebuyers

Home décor and design trends come and go from one year to the next. It’s a challenge to keep up with them, especially when you’re considering selling your home. You want to appeal to the broadest audience possible but the audience (the homebuyer) is fickle.

Which is why we trust builders and designers to give us the straight scoop on what home features are most in demand right now.

Since the kitchen is one of the more popular rooms among buyers, we decided to break down some of the trends to help you get yours in shape so that the home will sell quickly and for top dollar.

Decide on a color scheme for your kitchen

Designers are rejoicing over the death of the all-white kitchen, calling it too “sterile.” Kevin Isbell, owner of Kevin Isbell Interiors tells Lucia Tonelli of MSN.com that he sees more clients moving “… towards more personality and color in their homes,” and that includes the kitchen.

From wall color to the color of your kitchen cabinets, it’s time to get creative.

And, since the cabinets are the focal point of the kitchen, it’s a good idea to start the color selection there. Some of the most in-demand cabinet colors, at least according to designers, include:

  • Dark blue
  • Deep green
  • Charcoal

“We’re seeing a move toward colors that are darker and moodier, but also grounded in nature,” Sherwin William’s Sue Waddin tells Monique Valeris at Elle.com.

When choosing a color scheme, take a tip from designers. “… the way designers incorporate color follows a certain pattern. Big colors in small quantities, with small colors as the base,” according to Scott Hochuli at DesignAndRemodelingTeam.com.

Hochuli goes on to explain that you’ll need to coordinate the color of your cabinets with your countertops.

“For example,” he says, “if you are looking to install Calacatta [sic] marble countertops with those amazing veins of gold running through, you will need cabinetry that coordinates with gold. Navy blue or even black might be the perfect hue to provide a balance against that pale warmth.

Shop for new hardware (drawers and pulls) to go with your newly-painted cabinets to pull it all together.

Painting your cabinets is time consuming, but it adds an instant update to a dated kitchen. For tips to get you started, check out Lowe’s video at YouTube.com.

How are those countertops?

Nothing dates a kitchen more than old countertops.

Countertops, however, are homebuyer bait so if you can afford to replace them, check out the latest trends.

“Granite countertops are a thing of the past,” designer Lonni Paul tells ElleDecor.com’s Lucia Tonelli and Kelley Carter.

Quartz is the new granite, “… because of its durability and ease of maintenance,” according to Paul.

For the budget-minded, consider faux marble countertops, “porcelains and man-made materials,” according to designer Hilary Matt.

While faux marble countertops are listed as “in” on Elle Décor’s 2020 list, real marble countertops are “out.”

“No one wants to worry about staining or etching which is inevitable,” Matt said. “There are many fake marbles on the market that look so real that no one would ever know it’s a reproduction.”

New countertops can get pricey but changing yours isn’t out of the question if you’re on a budget.

Check out Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations for a DIY solution. Reviewers claim that although it’s time consuming, the process is quite easy. Check out this YouTube walk-through.

Sure, you won’t end up with a natural stone countertop, but the solution is ideal for the low-to-mid priced home.

Consider replacing that above-the-range microwave oven

It’s convenient to have the microwave over the range; you’ll get no argument from us on that. But consider this:

“Why would you want to install a microwave in a space that is one of the main focal points in your kitchen? Find a space for your microwave that is tucked away, but still accessible,” designer Darla Bankston suggests to the folks at ElleDecor.com.

Homebuyers are craving the aesthetics of decorative range hoods, according to builders and designers. It’s the perfect replacement for that not-so-attractive microwave oven.

Take a trip to the local big box home improvement stores to see the various styles and finishes. Best of all, they come in a range of prices (we saw one at Home Depot for only $138).

Homeowners on a budget may want to read the Wirecutter reviews at NYTimes.com. And you’ll find tips on how to shop for a range hood at ApartmentTherapy.com.

Remember, the kitchen is the most important room in the home to most homebuyers. Even on a tight budget you can whip yours into shape and get it on the market.

Reach out to us if you have any questions – we’re happy to answer them!




Curb appeal—it’s what sells a home

Marketing is vitally important to getting your home sold quickly. Without effective marketing not only may it take longer to sell, but you may get less money at the closing table as well.

The more folks that come through your front door, the better your chances of getting it sold, sooner. If your agent is slacking on the marketing of your home, get rid of him or her and hire someone who will market your home for all its worth.

You have a part to play in this as well. After all, it’s not your agent who will clean and de-clutter the inside of the home or work on the exterior to make it more appealing.

Curb appeal is one of the most important marketing factors in home sales.

Take an hour or so this weekend and drive around your general area. Check out the other homes on the market. Pay close attention to each home’s curb appeal, or lack thereof.

Then, take a few minutes to create a what-can-I-do-to-better-market-my-home list. You’ll be glad you did.

What is curb appeal?

Curb appeal is simply how your house looks from the street. It either has it, or it doesn’t. If your home is among the latter, you should consider fixing that.

Real estate buyer’s agents can tell you just how common it is to drive up to a home, with a buyer in the car, and have that buyer refuse to get out of the car. Based purely on how the home looked from the outside, they made their decision to not bother looking at the inside.

Of course, it’s not right to judge a book by its cover; we all learned that in kindergarten. But home buyers do. And that’s a fact.

How to give your home more curb appeal

Let’s take a look at a few common items that can ruin a home’s curb appeal:

Landscaping. How’s yours? Could the front yard use a little sprucing up? Start by picking up the branches, dead leaves and trash.

Rake around shrubbery and in beds. Consider adding a layer of fresh mulch to planting beds. It doesn’t cost all that much and it looks really great.

If you’re going to sell in winter, the landscaping is a bit more challenging to freshen up.

Pops of color are a welcome respite from the dreariness of winter. Choose some of the pansies we’ve seen on sale, pot them up in pretty pots and set them on the front porch. Or line the walkway with them.

Don’t think that buyers won’t notice that your window screens have holes in them or are hanging off their frames. They will; maybe not consciously, but it will give the house a general run-down and shabby sort of look. This is another relatively inexpensive fix that will pay off.

Could the front door use a new coat of paint? Sometimes just that one change can brighten the entire exterior of a house. If it coordinates with the home’s exterior paint color, consider a “… black or charcoal gray front door,” according to a survey by a major real estate website. Why?

“Homes that feature charcoal gray or black doors typically sell for $6,271 more than expected,” they said. Whatever you choose, don’t pick yellow. Homes with yellow front doors actually sell for less, according to the survey.

Before you paint the door, though, look up. That’s right UP. See the cobwebs hanging from the eaves? They kind of match the ones hanging from the porch light.

While they may have looked festive last Halloween, when the house is on the market, they look awful. Sweep or power wash them away before you paint the door.

How about some little things? New house numbers and a new mailbox will lend a fresh feeling to the home from the curb. Washing the exterior of the windows will make it look like the owner of the home really cares about it. That’s attractive to a buyer.

Overall, the effect you want to give to anyone looking at your house from the street is: “Mr. and/or Mrs. Clean live in this house.”

Even if you are more like Mr. and Mrs. Piggy. . .fake it ’til you make it, as the old saying goes.

Hate your home? Check out 5 inexpensive ways to cure that

Who knew that it would take a pandemic and being forced to remain in your home all of the time to turn it from something you love to something you despise?

It’s interesting how we learn to live with a home’s flaws, be it decorating that needs updating to that way-too-small kitchen. But living with these flaws 24/7, especially with children underfoot, while trying to remain productive, isn’t easy.

If you’re still reeling from the remnants of cabin fever and you don’t plan on selling the home for something comfier, how about giving it a bit of sprucing up? You’d be surprised at how easy and inexpensive it is to make your home easier to live in.

Get rid of the stale and boring

Too often we learn to live with something, never considering how it makes us feel. This includes home décor items.

Go through the home with the aim of looking at every piece of art, all the throw rugs and curtains, every hanging mirror, every accessory on shelves and tabletop – every object of décor in the home, top to bottom.

Those items that no longer appeal to you, or that you find stale and boring, need to go. Sell them on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp or even Ebay. Or, have a garage sale. Use the money you make to buy items that better appeal to you.

Stock up on live plants

What goes around comes around and that couldn’t be truer in 2020. In the 1970s, houseplants were all the rage. Americans created urban jungles in the apartments and homes with hanging plants, tall trees and even food crops.

It’s back. Today, it’s primarily millennials catching the houseplant fever, but others are enjoying the trend as well.

Indoor plants can add color and interest in the home and they don’t necessarily require a lot of care. From the Chinese evergreen to the peace lily and ponytail palm, there are a variety of low-maintenance houseplants from which to choose (you’ll find a list of 10 of them here).

If you have children and/or pets, you’ll want to ensure the plants you choose aren’t toxic. The ASPCA online offers a database of thousands of plants and rates their toxicity when it comes to pets. Type the name of the plant into the box labeled “Enhanced by Google” to learn all about pet-safe plants.

For information on which plants to avoid if you have children, visit Poison.org or check out the list at BHG.com.

By the way, plants don’t clean the air in homes. Surprised? Learn how the NASA study was misunderstood and manipulated when presented to the public and how the media and the landscaping industry’s claims have been debunked.

Spend a lot of time in the kitchen?

It’s easy and inexpensive to help your kitchen get over the blahs. Start with the cabinets and install new hardware.

Be aware, however, that the array of choices is dizzying. Take a look at decorating websites for kitchens that appeal to you. Do you like knobs or handles, contemporary or country or antique? Which finishes appeal to you?

Then head to the hardware store or shop online at HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Wayfair.com, Signature Hardware or Amazon.com.

Light it up

We get it – some people feel perfectly comfortable in the dark. But when it comes to the interior of a home, a dark atmosphere is dreary. It’s also unhealthy.

A National Institutes of Health study found that “… inadequate light in housing is independently associated with depression and falls,” in those older than 18 years of age.

In fact, those participants who claimed to have inadequate light in their homes were nearly 1.5 times more likely to be depressed than those with adequate lighting. The rate for falls was 2 times that of folks with good lighting in the home.

If you lack lots of windows through which natural light can stream, consider either brighter bulbs in the lighting you do have or adding additional lighting.

Start with the room you feel the least comfortable in and change the ceiling fixture. Or, purchase some table lamps. We’re betting that these small fixes will change the entire atmosphere in that room you previously couldn’t stand.

New paint can make you fall in love with your home all over again

Paint is the wonder drug for what ails a house. Not only does it change the appearance of a room, but it makes it feel fresh and new.

Consider wallpaper if paint isn’t your thing. If you haven’t purchased paint before, be aware that the color choices now are just about endless.

Other easy ways to make your home more fun to be in include rearranging the furniture, recovering the sofa or using slip covers. Buy new window coverings or flooring.

You don’t have to live in a home that no longer appeals to you. We’d be happy to help you sell it and find one that makes you happy. Or, do an inexpensive makeover, one weekend at a time.

On the fence about selling your home? The time to jump is NOW!

Yes, the economy is in the midst of a bit of a crisis, and for obvious reasons. There is, however, one bright spot and that is the housing market.

Traffic on a large real estate company’s website “… is up about 40 percent, and the National Association of Realtors announced that pending home sales are up 15 percent from last month,” according to NPR’s Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia.

A wide swath of American homebuyers is being propelled out of urban areas to suburbs and rural regions by “… conditions related to coronavirus, and the understanding that the way … that some of us work — has fundamentally changed,” Smith and Garcia wrote.

Then, there are others who dropped out of the market at the outset of the pandemic and have decided to re-enter.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of selling your home, now is the perfect time. Read on to learn why you should not let this opportunity pass you by.

Home equity at record highs

Do you have any idea how much equity you have in your home? Many homeowners haven’t a clue, but it’s worth finding out.

Mortgage data firm Black Knight found that “Americans’ home equity reached a record high earlier this year, according to Jeff Ostrowski, senior mortgage reporter for Bankrate.com.

With mortgage rates so low (see below) and your hefty equity, that dream home may just become a reality.

Mortgage rates are oh, so low and may go lower

Mortgage rates are mercurial and almost impossible to predict. However, “… many experts foresee rates falling below 3 percent in the next six months to a year,” Ostrowski claims.

He goes on to say that while the current low rates may not compel you to sell your home to buy another, “… a 2.75 percent rate probably would.”

If you’re waiting for a specific mortgage interest rate to occur, let us know. We’ll keep an eye on rates for you and let you know if and when it happens.

Home prices are amazing for sellers

Those low mortgage rates are encouraging homebuyers to jump into the market. That, in turn, increases demand and, subsequently, home prices.

“In July, the [national] median home price shot up 8.5% year over year, to hit a new all-time high of $349,000,” according to Clare Trapasso, citing the most recent realtor.com® data.

Homes are flying off the market

The average number of days a home remains on the market, nationwide, is 24 days. This news is especially welcome for home sellers who need to move quickly.

If you don’t have forbearance, sell the home

If you don’t have a federally-backed mortgage, you didn’t qualify for mortgage forbearance under the federal Cares Act.

Many lenders of non-federally backed mortgages decided that they, too, would offer forbearance, but not all of them, and not on all loans.

If you didn’t qualify either way, and you’re delinquent on your mortgage, consider selling the home.

The sooner you do it, the less you will owe the lender at closing. If you wait, you’ll face foreclosure.

The real estate market has always been a moving target and that hasn’t changed. One day mortgage rates are down, the next day they rise. Likewise, nobody can predict the duration of what is currently an amazing seller’s market.

The time to sell your home, if you been considering doing so, is right now.