“It could be the difference between selling and not selling your Seattle-Eastside Home,” she said while sitting in her friend’s Redmond condo. The “she” is not me, but a home owner who contacted me to talk about selling her home. At one point, our discussion moved towards the things she would need to do before putting her home on the market. I rattled off the usual maintenance and upgrade items, which I’ve recently written about on this blog. She nodded her head. She understood. But instead of the usual comments I get regarding maintenance and upgrades, she knew it didn’t mean her home would sell for more than it’s worth. She knew that handling the maintenance items and some upgrades before her home went on the market simply meant she’d have a better chance of selling her home.
Most of the time when I talk with home sellers, the more common response is: If I do these maintenance and small upgrades, how much more will my home be worth? Most people think doing these items, like cleaning windows, replacing roofs or carpets will net more money than a home is worth. More than likely it won’t. It will, as she said, make the difference between selling and not selling an eastside home.
As an example, a home has to have a roof with 5 years of life left in it in order for a home to qualify for financing. Yes, a home must also qualify, along with the buyer, in order for the loan to go through. Having a good roof or a new roof, will not net more money, it simply will mean a home can sell and the buyer is able to get a loan on the property.
New carpet, as opposed to old, dirty or worn carpet also means the odds of selling a home will increase. Buyers don’t buy homes with old, worn materials. In today’s real estate market, buyers don’t have to. There are a lot of choices out there. Many of the homes are good homes that are priced right and show well. These are the homes that make it into the “sold” category. They are the homes that sell. The homes with deferred maintenance or few upgrades will be in the category of homes that don’t sell.
The Seattle’s eastside real estate market is a different than some other parts of the country. Back east, where I’m from, many homes are older and the expectation for updating and upgrades is not the same. Here on Seattle eastside, the typical buyer is looking for homes that are move-in ready. These buyers have are extremely busy. Some are handy with a hammer, some are not, but most want to move in and not have to think about fixing up a home.
So take a look at the link in the first paragraph. To sell in the eastside market, you’ve got to do some of the things on the maintenance/upgrade list. There’s a whole host of things that should be done before a home goes on the market so the home will net the price it deserves.
Getting ready to sell your home? You’ve contacted your agent who’s given you a laundry list of things to repair, replace or upgrade before your home goes on the market. Are the things your agent wants you to do maintenance items or upgrades?
If these items are completed, does it mean that you can get more for your home? Probably not, but it means you won’t sell your home for less either.
Most people don’t think about having to do much before selling a home. But on Seattle’s eastside, the buyers don’t buy if things aren’t done. Buyers here think homes built in 1991 are old. They’re looking for a fresh, new feel. My east coast friends have trouble understanding this because they often live in homes that are 50 years old or more, but here on the Seattle’s eastside it has become the normal expectation.
Many home sellers confuse needed maintenance with upgrades. Some of what needs to be done before putting a home on the market falls in the category of maintenance and some falls under upgrades. A lot of people confuse the two items.
What’s maintenance and what’s a true upgrade?
Some of the basic maintenance items that everyone should do before putting a home on the market:
- Bark and edge the planting beds
- Get rid of weeds
- clean windows
- Clean the roof and gutters
- Pressure wash the driveway, walks, decks, and patios
- clean the carpets
The list below includes more maintenance items. Many home owners think these are upgrades, but they’re not. If any of the following needs to be done, it means a home needs these repairs. It also means the home will sell for the true value it deserves, not for more, and not for less. Buyers won’t buy a home that needs paint or a new deck. The bank also gets involved in some of these issues. If a roof doesn’t have 5 years of life, the bank won’t loan on the home. If the deck is a safety hazard, again, it becomes an issue for the bank and the deck will need to be repaired in order to sell the home.
- paint the interior or the exterior if needed
- replace or repair the deck or patio
- Repair or replace your roof
Upgrades that are considered part of maintenance because you’re replacing things that are older:
- New light fixtures
- New faucets
- New appliances
- New counter tops
- New carpet
But even these upgrades won’t bring you more money than the value of your home. It helps you get the true value you deserve for your home.
What’s a true upgrade that will net you more money?
- Stainless Steel appliances, granite counters, new kitchen cabinets
- Remodeled bathrooms
- Expanded decks
- New landscaping
If you hope to make more money for your home than its actual value, plan to do some remodeling. It will cost you money, of course, but you’ll generate quite a bit of it back when you sell your home. There needs to be some major updating and remodeling to net more than the actual value for your home. Most of the things that you need to do a
The reality is most people have to spend some money to make any money when selling a home. Some only need to spend $1500-$2000 to do the basic maintenance items. Others have to spend more if they have tired, older looking fixtures or more cleanup work to do, but doing these items short of the major remodel will help to sell your home for the price it deserves, not for more money. It will also help you to keep from selling your home for less than its truly worth.
Do you love your home?
Keep loving it by taking good care of it. Become a fan of my Facebook Fan Page which is dedicated to home ownership. I post about energy savings, green living, housing trends, and all things that are “house” related.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
A friend of mine from college just died. He died from a gas leak in his home. Apparently some gas had escaped which killed him and sickened others. He was the only one who didn’t make it. This was a sad and needless death.
This was not an isolated incident. I wish it were.
When I told the story about my friend’s death to an acquaintance, she relayed a story about a family who is now brain damaged from exposure to carbon monoxide in their home.
This is serious stuff.
If you do one maintenance item for your home this year, have your furnace inspected.
If you buy one thing for your home, make it a carbon monoxide detector. Hardware stores are a good place to find the detectors.
Some important tips for buying and installing a detector:
- When buying a CO detector, check for the UL approved label.
- Digital display models show the CO level, rather than simply beeping.
- Install CO detectors in a central area on every floor and near sleeping areas.
- Detectors should be placed at least five feet above the ground, as CO rises.
- Hard-wired and plug-in models won’t work during a power outage.
- Like smoke detectors, batteries need to be replaced each year.
- CO detectors lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced every five years.
Source: Consumer Report 2005
How can I prevent CO poisoning from my home appliances?
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
- If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator’s cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
- When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the American Gas Association or Underwriters’ Laboratories.
- Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
How do I vent my gas appliances properly?
- All gas appliances must be vented so that CO will not build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
- Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
- Horizontal vent pipes to fuel appliances should not be perfectly level. Indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This helps prevent CO or other gases from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
There are more useful tips on the CDC website for times when the electricity is out, as an example.
Soon, in Washington State homes will be required to have a carbon monoxide detector, but don’t wait until then. You could be playing with your life.
What costs you the most money to maintain your home? I bet your heating bills are at or near the top of the list.
Here are 5 easy ways you can help your heating system to be more efficient and help to save you money.
- Change your furnace filter regularly- I know few people seem to change their filters regularly. Trust me, I ask this question when I meet home owners. Your furnace technician can install a device which “beeps” when you need to change filters.
- Get your furnace serviced annually- Most people ‘fess up and say they don’t service the furnace on a regular basis. Sign a contract with an HVAC company and they’ll call you each year and make sure it’s done. The furnace technician can check the furnace and confirm it’s not leaking any carbon monoxide. The added bonus here is you won’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure your doors have good, tight weather stripping- get down on the floor and see if you see light under the weather stripping. If you do, then it’s not tight and replace the weather stripping.
- Install programmable thermostats- you can regulate your heat and set it to be lower during the days you’re not at home or at night. This could save you some significant money.
- Look at your heating bills for a full year to determine if you are using energy less efficiently than the average home for your area.
If you find you’re using more energy than the average home, check my next post about energy savings. Coming soon is a post with more information about ways to save some money on your heating and energy bills.
- Oh, and did I mention putting on a sweater and lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees? (this is number 6, but who’s counting?)
I just recommended a new client’s deck be painted before her home goes on the market. The was home built in the 1950′s and it reminded me about the new law regarding remodeling and painting homes built before 1978. This new law will be going into effect on October !st. Originally, the regulations were scheduled to become law back in the spring. I wrote a post about it then, but since the law was postponed until October 1st, here’s a reminder for those who own homes built before 1978. I am copying the original blog post I wrote back in the spring:
Was your home built before 1978? If so, then if you do any painting or remodeling you or your contractor have to follow new federal guidelines for painting and renovating homes built before 1978. From The Wall Street Journal:
As of late last month, businesses that repair or renovate older buildings—specifically homes, schools and daycare centers built before the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in housing in 1978—are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adhere to strict lead-safe work practices. To comply with the new regulation, those working on older sites will need to invest in lead-testing kits, plastic sheeting, respirators, protective clothing and other lead-safety materials.
Are you feeling bombarded about “greening your home?‘ There’s so much stuff out there to absorb. There are articles flying around about all the good “green” things to do. Don’t get me wrong, I think reducing our carbon footprint, going green, and hopefully, saving money are all important.
But, I just recently came across two articles that look at the costs of going” green” more closely. Just because something is “green” doesn’t mean it truly reduces our carbon footprint or helps you to save you money. One of the biggest offenders is bamboo flooring. Since most bamboo is sourced in the Far East, the cost and impact on our carbon footprint for transporting bamboo may outweigh the fact that it’s a renewable resource.
During these crazy times it’s important to analyze how you spend your money on your home. It’s important to think about the payback to you and the environment, in addition to the payback for when you might sell, even if selling your home is in the future. Going “green” is important to consider, but according to some, there are different ways to handle going green.
Two recent posts on different blogs talked about this very issue. The Bigger Pockets blog listed 7 green items that could be a waste of money. I’m not sure I agree with all that is said. For example, CLF’s, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but they are a fairly inexpensive way to reduce our carbon footprint. Sure they are more expensive than standard light bulbs and may become cheaper, but it’s important to start now and with CFL’s, it is a great place to start. From the EnergyStar website:
If every American home replaced just one light with a light that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.
Other things, such as location, factor into making a “green” decision. Bigger Pockets felt solar panels were not efficient enough yet to warrant the cost. If you live in Seattle, it probably isn’t cost effective to install solar panels, especially with all the gray 65 degree days we’ve had this summer! However, in Southern California it makes perfect sense. I have a friend who installed solar panels and is receiving a substantial rebate for the first five years, plus a check from the utility company for helping to supply power back to the grid. The payback for these people will be 5-7 years. Not a bad return for a fairly expensive item. But these folks have no plans to move, so the investment should more than pay for itself over the years.
Worldchanging tackles this same subject with a video of how to “green” a new construction home and other thoughts about how to reduce our carbon footprint. The post mentions a book by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum entitled “Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects.” The book is divided into three handy sections. The first covers things that can be done now, like using CFL’s or insulating a hot water tank, to more expensive changes like adding solar power and new windows, to building a “green” new home.
The bottom line is everyone should be thinking about making changes, both big and small to save energy and money. Some things work better for some people, homes, and locations than other “green” changes. It is important to decide what works for you. Do the research and make good decisions to maximize your dollar and to save energy.
What ways do you find to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint? If you’ve got some “green” tips, ideas, etc., please do share.
There were big gray clumps of lint and this is only 1/4 of what was removed from the clothes dryer vent! Ironic, since the dryer vent had recently been cleaned out in a do-it-yourself project, which apparently had not worked. The duct work is a fairly long line, which makes it even more difficult for a do-it-yourself job.
Check the vent on the outside your home to see if the air flow is moving well. Do this on a regular basis. You’ll know if the air flow becomes weak, which is a good indication of blockage in the vent line. Here are some other warning signs from About.com:
- Clothes take longer and longer to dry;
- Clothes don’t fully dry;
- Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle;
- The outside of dryer gets very hot;
- The outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very much indicating low exhaust velocity;
- Laundry room becomes more humid than it is usually;
- Burnt smell is evident in the laundry room.
So mark your calendar. Have your dryer vent cleaned regularly to eliminate a fire hazard. Do-it yourself systems may work for some duct lines, particularly if the dryer duct line is short. I was impressed, however, by the motor Bel-Red brought along to power the hose that cleaned out the vents. That puppy really sucked the lint out of the vent.
And the silver lining in all this? A dryer vent that works more efficiently will save you money on your monthly utility bill.
*As always, choose your contractor wisely. Check out any contractor you hire. Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Obtain recommendations from other clients and check the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and other resources.