Specialist or General Practitioner?

19437377_1440448489379498_3950650927319035020_nDo you need to hire a “specialist” or do you need a “general practitioner” when assessing the best real estate agent when you are looking to jump into the real estate market as a buyer or seller?

If you come across a real estate agent that is touting themselves as a “specialist” here’s what you need to ask:

“I see you are a ‘Listing Specialist’ do you ever take buyers out to look at homes?”

“I see you are a ‘Buyer Specialist’ do you ever list homes and meet sellers?”

If the answer is no, then proceed with caution. The only way you can “specialize” in today’s real estate market is to understand the market from the buyer’s and seller’s unique perspectives, rarely do these overlap.

As a “general practitioner” I work with both buyers and sellers. The combination of meeting with sellers for listings and taking buyers on home buying tours invites a unique perspective on the whole marketplace, not just a segment.

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P: msrealtors.org

If you don’t take buyers to see houses, how do you know how houses compare to each other in your local market? Likewise, if you don’t counsel sellers on pre-marketing strategies, how do you know the best way to position their house in the market compared to other houses you have taken buyers to see? The short answer is – you don’t! You don’t know how houses compare in your local market place unless you are “all over” the market in terms of buyers and sellers.

Instead of a “specialist” you need a general real estate practitioner. Much like a family doctor who sees a wide range of maladies, your general real estate practitioner deals with the whole market, buyers and sellers. At the core of a general real estate practitioner, one who deals with buyers and sellers, is a true “specialist.”

 

6 Low-Cost Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades

If your kitchen cabinets look a little shabby, your whole kitchen will look outdated. No need to break the bank and completely replace the cabinets, just give them a simple facelift with one (or all) of our inexpensive kitchen cabinet updates:

fanofugifts.com

P: fanofugifts.com

Paint – Nothing will create a bigger impact than a fresh coat of paint. This is a project you can take on yourself, but the key is in the prep. Start with a thorough cleaning to remove any grease or dried on gunk. Fill holes and nicks with putty and sand to create a smooth, even surface. Lay cabinet doors flat to paint, and wait until completely dry before painting the other side. Create some visual interest by mixing up colors on upper and lower cabinets, or on cabinets and islands.

Hardware – Installing new hardware is probably the easiest way to dress up tired cabinets, but you need to be careful here as cabinet hardware can get very fancy and expensive. You can find simple, contemporary hardware in packs of 10 or 12 at Lowes or Home Depot.

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P: BHG

Ditch the Doors – Remove outdated cabinet doors and go for the open-shelf concept. They will make any kitchen look larger and you can accessorize the shelves to reflect your personal style.

Molding – Adding crown molding to the top of cabinets will add height and create a more high-end look. This added touch of luxury isn’t as pricey as you may think – three-inch, primed composite crown molding with a dentil design costs as little as $20 for 8 feet.

Glass Inserts – Changing or adding a decorative glass insert will give stock cabinets a custom look. Not all cabinet doors can accommodate a glass insert – check the backs of your doors to see if the center panel can be taken out. Glass inserts typically cost between $7 – $9 per square foot.

Task Lighting – You can easily add lighting under and inside cabinets with battery powered peel-and-stick LED lights. At about $8 each, you can afford to buy several and scatter them around. Under cabinet lighting is not only practical, it will also make the room feel much brighter and bigger as the dark shadows under the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.

 

5 Tips to Make an Easy Move

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P: The Chicago Greenbox

Moving is stressful! Sure you are super excited about your new digs, but getting all of your things from point A to point B can be a pain. Follow our 5 tips for a stress-free move:

Use boxes wisely. Assign a set of boxes to each room, then pack like items together – glassware, linens, decorative items, etc. Make sure to clearly label each box with the room they are going to and what items are in the box – that way there will be zero confusion about where stuff belongs and you won’t need to open every box to find the silverware!

Pack for “a trip.” Pretend you are going on a 2 week vacation and pack a suitcase for each family member. That way, everyone will have what they need to function while things are packed away in boxes just before, during, and after the big move. Don’t forget to include valuables and important documents.

Get the essentials. To avoid several trips to the store on move day, buy everything you need for cleaning and organizing ahead of time. Get multi-purpose cleaner, paper towels,  a broom, shelf liners, furniture pads, etc. It also doesn’t hurt to include paper plates, plastic utensils, cups, and napkins for your first meal before unpacking. Pack everything in one box and keep it in your personal vehicle so you know where it is and can easily access it on move day.

Couple Moving Into New Home And Unpacking Boxes

P: iStock

Set up key areas. Once all of the boxes are in, start by unpacking the rooms you need to use to take good care of yourself. Set up your bed and put on the linens, stock the bathrooms with supplies, and unpack the kitchen.

Schedule breaks. You may just want to power through and get all of the boxes unpacked, but stopping to eat, taking a quick stroll through your new neighborhood, and going to sleep at a reasonable hour will keep you calm and energized.

Follow these tips for a smooth transition that will turn a traditionally stressful event into one of excitement!

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal

First impressions are everything – you don’t want a potential buyer to pull up to your house and decide to not even enter because they don’t like the look from the outside. It’s easy to enhance your front yard with a few weekend projects. Here are our top 5 ways to boost your curb appeal:

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P: The Decorologist

Paint your front door. Adding a splash of vibrant color to your front door will create a welcoming entry and draw potential buyers in, and will only cost about $30 for a gallon of exterior paint. Check out DIY Network’s 28 Inviting Colors to Paint a Front Door.

Replace your house numbers. Installing new numbers on your house is an easy fix to spruce up your curb appeal. There are tons of options out there – choose metal numbers that match the finish of your exterior lighting fixtures or get a customized plaque that matches the vibe and style of your house.

Update exterior light fixtures. Replacing outdated light fixtures will immediately modernize the look of your entry. Look for fixtures that have the same mounting system as the current ones that you have to save yourself some time.

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P: Lowes

Add potted plants to your front porch. Add a pop of color to your entry with colorful pots filled with flowers, succulents, or ornamental grasses.

Tend to your yard and garden beds. A well-manicured lawn and groomed garden beds tell potential buyers that a home has been well-maintained. Cut your grass regularly and edge your lawn for a professional look. Weed your planting beds and spread mulch to give your landscaping a fresh appearance.

6 Best Bathroom Remodeling Trends for 2017

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P: Agnizer.com

Dreaming of that spa-like bathroom, but not sure if you should drop the money into a remodel? Springing for a new bath is typically a sound investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. So go ahead and design the bathroom of your dreams! To help get the ideas flowing, here are our 6 best bathroom remodeling trends for 2017:

Increase the Size – Most bathroom renovations focus on increasing the room size to give the space an open and light feel. Adding square footage to the bathroom frees up area to install a separate soaking tub and shower, maybe a master closet space, and room to add much desired storage.

Heated Floors – Add a touch of luxury and comfort with some extra-added warmth. Radiant floor heat can make all the difference on a chilly winter morning, and it will warm you from the bottom up. If you can’t afford a new heating system for your floors, install a towel warmer so you can wrap yourself in warmth.

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P: HGTV

Upscale Shower – Start with a beautifully tiled shower and then up the ante to create the ultimate spa experience by installing multiple shower heads and body jets. If you can fully enclose your shower, add steam and a built-in bench to sit and relax as you sweat your cares away.

Cue the Music – Who doesn’t love singing at the top of their lungs in the shower? Wireless speakers are being incorporated into bathroom mirrors, showerheads, and vanities. Put on Pandora’s spa station and take a relaxing soak in the tub, or pump up the jams to get your morning going. Check out Kohler’s Moxie® Showerhead for a super easy way to add a speaker in your shower.

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P: Entirely Eventful Day

Smart Storage – Storage never goes out of style! Take advantage of vertical space and install floor to ceiling cabinetry. If built-in cabinetry is not an option, bring in an interesting piece of furniture like an antique armoire. Open shelving is still a popular trend that works in the bathroom – install floating shelves and neatly arrange extra towels and toiletries.

Go High-Tech – If you love smart home technology, don’t forget the bathroom! You can buy toilets with seat warmers and motion sensors, digital faucets with touchless technology, and soaking tubs with mood-enhancing lighting.

Revamp with Paint!

Feel like your home could use a little update? Or maybe you are just looking to change things up … either way, the simplest way to make an inexpensive change is with paint! The walls are an obvious choice, but you can spruce up almost anything with paint, from fixtures and objects to floors and furniture.

Not all surfaces are alike, here are some guidelines for painting 5 different surfaces:

  1. P: How to Nest for Less

    P: How to Nest for Less

    Wood: Probably one of the easiest surfaces to paint, wood will easily soak up paint. Clean the surface, removing any buildup. If it has a glossy finish, you will want to lightly sand it first so the paint will adhere. You can use a primer, but it’s not often necessary, and most paints these days have primer already built-in. Stick with eggshell paints for interior wood projects, it’s more durable and has a slight sheen.

2.  Metal: The first step in painting metal is to remove any rust using sandpaper or a wire brush. Next comes the primer to protect the surface and provide a good base. Choose a paint with rust inhibitors or spray paint – they make spray paint specifically for metal. You will need to apply multiple layers for a nice finished look.

P: decorpad.com

P: decorpad.com

3.  Concrete: Yes, you can totally paint concrete! Floors should be sanded and the surface must be clean and completely dry before painting. You will need to prime and then opt for a floor or epoxy paint. They make kits to paint garage floors that include decorative chips to give a speckled effect.

4.  Tile: Have some dated tile or are you just sick of the color? Instead of ripping out your existing tile and replacing with new, which could be quite expensive depending on the tile, refresh the look with paint. Tile must be cleaned and then use a special glass or tile paint, other paints will easily chip or scrape off.

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P: Pinterest

5. Drywall: If you are starting with a newly dry-walled wall, make sure you’ve sanded down the seams so that the surface is smooth and then clean off any dust.  Primer is not required, but recommended on new walls. The type of paint you choose really depends on the room – satin or eggshell finishes are fine for bedrooms and living spaces. You will likely want to go with a higher-gloss finish for kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways that can easily be wiped down.

Staging With A Purpose

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P: cathyhobbs.com

When a buyer steps into your house, you want them to be able to easily envision living there – not trying to figure out what to do with that tiny bedroom that seems to be your storage room.

If you are using a room in an odd way, maybe you turned the dining room into your children’s playroom, it may work for your needs but will likely leave potential buyers feeling bewildered, and moving on to the next house.

Follow these 3 tips to stage each room with a purpose:

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    P: urbanpresentations.com

    Make it simple. Stage rooms for their original or most obvious purpose – a bedroom should have a bed, a dining room should have a table and chairs, etc. If you have a large finished basement, carve out a space for a rec room, theater room, or exercise room.

  • Spell it out. If your home has an undefined or awkward space, stage it with your suggestion for how to use it. For example, a small alcove or under the stair nook could be staged as a home office just by adding a desk, lamp, and chair. Stage each space so there is no question what it’s for.
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    P: stagemyownhome.com

    Lay it out. Open floor plans are popular, but can be confusing to a buyer trying to figure out how to arrange the space. Don’t try to cram too many uses into one great room – stick with the basic dining area and family room.

If buyers have to guess how to use a room, they may leave thinking the house won’t fit their needs. Make the purpose of each room clear so that buyers can visualize where they will put their own furnishings and accessories in the house.

5 Landscape Projects That Make Sense

P: 411homerepair.com

P: 411homerepair.com

Warmer temps and sunshine have us itching to get out and enjoy the outdoors. When Spring hits, it’s prime season for yard work –  you don’t want to be slaving away in the gorgeous summer weather when you could be sipping lemonade (or a margarita!) in the shade of your perfectly manicured outdoor paradise.

But where do you start? What projects are really worth it? Here are our top 5 landscape projects that offer the best return on your investment:

  • Spruce up what you have. Start with a spring yard cleanup – pull out the weeds, prune trees and bushes and rake up any leaves you may have missed in fall. Freshen up your mulch by flipping and fluffing with a rake, once you’re finished you may not even need to buy new mulch for the season!
  • Renew your deck. A wood deck will take a beating being exposed to our crazy VT weather. If your deck is looking a little worn, start by power washing to get a completely clean surface. Once dry, you can stain and then follow with a waterproofer designed for unsealed wood to protect your deck.
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    P: sheknows.com

    Plant flowers for a pop of color. Choose some colorful perennials to dot your yard, these plants will last for years so you will not need to replant every spring/summer like an annual. Cone flowers, daylillies, and hydrangea are good choices for VT. Annuals come in so many pretty varieties, you can add them in to your landscaping or plant in window boxes and colorful pots. Choose a variety of flowers that bloom at different times, as well as a mix of heights, colors, and shapes.

  • Plant some trees. As trees grow, they appreciate in value providing fantastic ROI. Trees also provide privacy, which tops most buyers’ wish lists. Emerald Green Arborvitae are a great option for privacy, and are perfect for VT as they resist snow and ice damage. Other trees that thrive in VT include spruce trees and of course the sugar maple.
  • P: lockerdome.com

    P: lockerdome.com

    Create an outdoor living space. Pick out some stone pavers that complement your house and landscape to build a patio and/or fire pit. Permeable paving and fire pits rank high in outdoor elements that buyers desire. Learn how to lay a paver patio on Lowe’s website.

6 Home Staging Don’ts

We talk a lot about what to do to stage your home, but what about what NOT to do? Here are 6 staging mistakes to avoid:

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P: Fox Hollow Cottage

  • Don’t go over-the-top with decor. Less is more in home staging – keep decor simple and neutral to appeal to a variety of buyers.
  • Don’t make your home smell like the department store perfume counter. Any type of overwhelming scent, whether something good or bad, will send buyers running for the door.
  • Don’t stuff all of your junk in the closet. Buyers will open every door to check out the storage space in the house, a messy stuffed closet will give the impression that there is not enough storage space.
  • Don’t do major renovations. Finishes and fixtures that you love may not appeal to every buyer. Limit any work to essentials like replacing old flooring, small repairs, updating old fixtures, and minimal painting.
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    P: Retro Ranch Revamp

    Don’t misuse rooms. A bedroom should be staged as a bedroom, not that ‘extra’ room where you store your odds and ends.

  • Don’t defer yard work. If you have overgrown shrubs, an unruly lawn, and a broken fence, chances are that potential buyers won’t take that extra step to look inside.

Our Top 5 Home Trends for 2016

Thinking about a home renovation project or just want to spice up your decor for the New Year? You want to be sure that the items and projects you invest in will stand the test of time, and are not dated fads of years past, especially if you are planning to put your house on the market.

Here are our top 5 favorite home trends for 2016:

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    P: BHG

    Mismatched Cabinets – Add interest to your kitchen by pairing 2 different cabinet styles, varying in color or texture. Think a light color on wall-mounted cabinets and a darker color on cabinets under the counter. Or choose 1 color for wall cabinets and a different color for an island.

  2. P: bostondesignguide.com

    P: bostondesignguide.com

    Statement Pendant – Change the look and feel of a room just by updating the light fixture. You can find pendant lights in a variety of shapes and sizes, from brightly colored lanterns to industrial style metal-shaded fixtures.

  3. Fireplaces – The fireplace is once again becoming the focal point of rooms. Don’t ignore
    P: HGTV

    P: HGTV

    this feature if you have it! Arrange your furniture to put the fireplace center stage. Have a non-working fireplace? No problem, you can still dress it up to make it shine. Fill it with candle holders of varying heights to cast a warm fire-like glow.

  4. Black Stainless Appliances – Instead of shiny new silver, it
    P: CNET

    P: CNET

    looks like sleek black stainless steel appliances will be the finish choice of the future.

  5. Mixed Materials – Create a truly unique space by combining a variety of styles like a rustic wood, sleek tile, shiny metals, and vintage finds.

P.S. Mason jars are so 2015, and word on the street is that the rustic chic look is on the way out.