Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Leveraging Landscaping to Add Value to Your Home

Whether you are planning on selling your home soon or not, most everyone wants helpful tips for adding value to their home. Your landscaping is one area that can really set the stage for the home and pique one’s interest for what is inside. It is similar to food presentation where anything that looks good will have people interested in taking a bite. Here are some great tips for things you can do for your home’s landscaping that will be sure to help its value.

Cut and edge grass

Although it sounds very obvious, mowing properly and especially trimming edges is important especially with our grass here in South Florida. Clean looking beds and edges make landscaping look tidy and well kept.

Fresh mulch

Putting down fresh mulch makes a huge visual difference. Beds will look clean and defined while the mulch helps reduce weeds and retains moisture in the soil for your plantings. 

Flowers

Flowers are a great way to add color and interest for a very low cost. Add a cluster or two to your beds or put them in a pot by your door.

Plants

Another great way to spice up your yard is to add a few different kinds of plants at varying sizes. This will add visual interest and depth to your landscaping. There are some great, relatively hearty plants that are lower maintenance here in South Florida from Bromeliads offering color to Clusias which can add great privacy.

Refresh patio/decking

Especially with the heat from the hot sun patios and decks can become weathered over the years. If powerwashing doesn’t do the job, consider fresh paint or stain depending on the material. If you are working with a larger budget, pavers can be a nice upgrade from basic concrete.

Reduce noise 

A couple of ideas for reducing any noise from the area include adding bushes and/or plants in containers as they can help insulate against it. Additionally, adding a water feature can provide a soothing white noise as it drowns out the less than pleasant ones.

Hot tub or pool

Of course who doesn’t love a water feature in the way of a hot tub or pool? Depending on your budget and preference either can certainly be nice for yourself or entertaining. Adding a pool is going to be quite an expense in which you may not recap the whole investment on a sale. A hot tub, while mostly best for our winter months or evenings, can be great as it can be done at a fraction of the cost of a pool and you can either include it in a sale or take it with you depending on where you go. 

 

How to Appeal to All 5 Senses at Property Tours

Very often sellers will focus on only one of the senses when preparing their home for sale, visually. However, it is important to keep in mind that all other senses can play large roles in the home touring experience. Just think, when you walk down the street by a bakery you may see their nice store front, smell the baked goods, see them displayed and may venture inside for a taste! Here are some helpful tips on how to cover all the bases for when the time comes to list your home for sale.

Touch and Comfort

While public open houses are planned, private showings can happen with far less notice. Keeping the house in perfectly clean condition is a must. Make sure it passes the white glove test where all surfaces are free of dust and/or debris. This includes the less obvious places like door jams, window sills, on top of the fridge, etc. Other than what you can touch, cater to how visitors will feel by setting the home at the perfect ambient temperature. 

Smells

It is always best to have a home smelling neutral as opposed to foul or having a strong odor. Pungent cooking smells or off putting pet odors are definitely things that you will want to avoid. Do not mask these smells by using powerful candles or air fresheners as these can be just as offensive to some who are more sensitive. Your best bet is to keep things very clean and use pleasant smelling cleaners that smell more “fresh” than strong. Finally, a good secret weapon is to bake some fresh cookies. These tend to please all and leave a positive scent for those to associate with your home!

Sounds

Playing some soft music can be a good idea, especially if there is neighborhood construction or nearby lawn mowing going on that it could drown out. Keep this on low and select something neutral to play. Anything loud or jarring can cause an adverse effect. 

Taste

Going back to the idea of cookies, leave a plate out with napkins and a note to help yourself. You may have noticed even some furniture stores adopt this idea to encourage shoppers to stay longer and enhance their experience. 

Visual Atmosphere

Cleaning and staging are the essentials which are most often discussed. However, what other details can you do? Other great ideas include making sure you get the lighting right. This means using softer bulbs, making sure darker rooms are well illuminated, fixtures are dusted off and blinds are kept open to allow for natural light. Peppering in some real plants can literally add some life as well. Finally, a nice touch is to leave out a binder of any pertinent paperwork that may be of interest to the buyer. Things like a recently replaced HVAC system with warranty or the like may prove additional value. 

 

6 DIY Enhancements to Elevate Your Living Room

Everyone wants to make their home as modern as current as possible, but not always with the full renovation price tag. The truth is there can be many ways to elevate your home and give it a fresh look and feel with a little bit of time and some creativity. Here are 6 DIY projects that you can tackle over a weekend when you have some spare time. 

Accent rugs

Either add or replace existing area rugs. These can add a lot of color and a focus in a room at a reasonable price. Current trends are now for area rugs to be used even if you have wall to wall carpet. Try adding one under your coffee table to add life and excitement with contrasting colors.

Blanket ladder

A rare item that adds function and aesthetics. A blanket ladder can be added to your living room with a few different blankets to display that have interesting patterns and colors. For those cooler evenings or simply when you want to curl up with one on the couch they are within reach to use. This also frees up any shelves or bins they’d normally be stored in as well!

Feature wall

Pick one wall that you want to feature with some sort of a design element. A collection of framed art, an interesting wallpaper pattern, different color of paint or even a wall of shiplap can add some uniqueness to the room.

Room divider

Be it functional or decorative, a room divider can add an elegant element to your home. Especially for those homes where the front door puts you directly into the living room, this can offer you a great way to add some separation. There are some great products on the market of various materials that can help you create this.

Lighting

A relatively easy change that can have a big impact on your room. Consider swapping out your overhead lighting. Perhaps you have a fairly conservative, outdated or plain ceiling light. An interesting or modern chandelier type light can totally transform your room’s look. Try getting one that is dimming as well so you can have appropriate lighting for all times. 

Paint

Among one of the most obvious and easily completed – paint. It may have been years since the last paint job or you may just want to switch up the look, but painting the walls a different color for a new scheme is sure to transform the room at a very reasonable cost. 

 

Everything You Want to Know About Home Appraisals

When you buy a home and there is going to be a mortgage taken out on it, your lender will require that there be an appraisal of the home to verify its value. This is to make sure that the lender is covered for their vested interest and that you aren’t overpaying for something that is not worth it.

What is the appraisal?

The home appraisal is done by a licensed appraiser to establish the current value of the property. The appraisal is done by a personal visit and inspection of the home combined by an analysis of the data of recent sales of similar homes in the area. 

Inspection v. appraisal

While both of these are crucial for the home buying process, they serve different purposes. An inspection is a thorough review of the home, its structure and systems. This is important for the purchaser, insurer, and mortgage company to all be aware of with regards to the physical condition of the home and what may be needed for repairs. The appraisal, while takes much of this into consideration, is primarily done to assess fair market value.

What do they cost?

Generally speaking, appraisals are typically done around the $300 to $400 range. Although the mortgage lender orders the appraisal to be done, it is customary for the buyer to be paying for it as part of the closing costs. 

What is the process?

Once your offer is accepted on your new home and you have signed the contract, that is when your lender will order the appraisal on the home as part of the next steps. Generally you do not attend the appraisal appointment like you would with a home inspection as it is not necessary, but it is possible if you ask.

What do they look for?

There are many things that are looked at when the appraiser conducts a report of value. Here is an idea of the things they will examine:

-Recent sales of similar properties nearby

-Neighborhood characteristics

-Lot and home size

-Age of the home

-Condition of the home

-Appliances

-Home improvements

-Amenities, such as carport, pool, etc

-Local housing trends

As you are the one purchasing the home, you are entitled to a copy of the report at least three days before the loan closes. Be sure to review it for accuracy. Should the value come back lower than you expected, you may be able to renegotiate the purchase price. 

 

Home Maintenance Checklist for First Time Buyers

When you go through the steps of the homebuying process you will typically have a team working alongside you. You will have your real estate agent, your mortgage agent and your attorney just to name a few. These professionals will help guide you through the process so you know exactly what to do. However, after you close on your home then what comes next? Here is a checklist of things to do when you move into your first home. 

Change the locks

You never know who or how many people had keys to the doors via the previous owner. Either change the locks or rekey them shortly after you move in.

Check smoke detectors

Get on a regular schedule of annually testing these and changing the batteries.

Thermostats

One of the best ways to save money is to program your home’s temperature. Program regular hours or invest in a smart thermostat that knows when you are home.

Inspect HVAC filter

Especially here in South Florida where AC is running for the better part of the year, filters can get dirty quickly. Make sure you are changing your filter per manufacturer’s recommendations for better air quality and efficiency. 

Plan HVAC maintenance

Check your HVAC system for any records left from the previous owner. See when it was last serviced to be sure it is in tip top shape. 

Locate circuit breaker panel

Fuses blow and of course at the worst times in the dark. Know where your panel is located so you don’t go fumbling in the dark to find it.

Locate water main shut off

Same thing here. Make sure you know how to shut off the water to the house should you find yourself with a faulty fixture or pipe issue. 

Clean fridge coils

The back of the fridge tends to get very dusty. Pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum off those coils that tend to get very warm. 

Clean dryer vent

A dirty dryer vent that becomes clogged with lint can not only run less efficiently but can also be a fire hazard. Have yours cleaned or replaced if necessary. 

Inspect gutters

Gutters can get clogged with debris, become heavy and then damaged. Make sure yours have been recently cleaned and inspect them regularly for a clear flow.

Schedule termite inspections

Most homes will have a termite prevention service. Make sure you know if your home was inspected and treated. If not, schedule a reputable company to visit and invest in an annual contract for prevention. 

 

9 Reasons Why Buying a Home is Beneficial

Preparing to buy a home can take some discipline. Especially for those who may need to take a little longer to save up for a down payment, you may have to make some sacrifices like postpone a vacation, new car or the like. In the end, it is totally worth it on many levels. Here is a closer look at all of the benefits of owning your own home. 

Become established locally

Buying a home allows you to invest and grow in a community. Better yet, when you own a home you can become actively involved in the local community whether it be with your HOA, neighborhood association or even the town’s committees. These groups can allow you the opportunity to help shape the future of the area. 

Regulate monthly living  expenses

When you own a home you can say goodbye to any threat of rising rents or landlords looking to not renew your lease because they are looking to move back in or sell. Although as a homeowner your taxes and insurance may fluctuate, your mortgage can be a fixed amount for the duration of you having it.

Mortgages force you to save

Paying a mortgage is like investing in your future. Every time you pay your mortgage you are earning more equity in your home and essentially paying into a savings bank. Additionally, there have been surveys over the years that often point out that the net worth of a homeowner is far greater than that of the average renter. 

Better retirement potential

Purchasing a home and paying off your mortgage by your retirement years is only going to lessen your expenses while you are on a fixed income. Even if you cannot pay off your mortgage to remain in that home, you can always sell it and downsize with your equity as an option to get to mortgage free living. 

Homeowner tax breaks

There are numerous tax breaks that you can take advantage of when you are a homeowner. Mortgage interest deductions and home sale tax exclusions are just a couple to name. 

Personalize your home

Go ahead and paint every room whatever color you desire, reface your cabinets and install your favorite style of fixtures. Owning your own home can make for a more comfortable and accommodating home as you customize it to your liking and lifestyle needs. 

Privacy

No more 24-hour entry notices from your landlord. You can also increase physical privacy with plantings, fences or anything else that is within your desires. 

Make money

If you want to make some money on your home, consider doing things like renting a room with a roommate or even putting a room or suite on Airbnb for short term rent. Check with any HOA or local laws for your specific area first. 

Pride

Finally, it goes without saying but owning your house comes with a sense of pride. You have achieved the American dream and can rest assured that the home is yours.