AT HOME Buy. Sell. Improve!
When Real Estate Makes Cents
The Value of Design
April 22, 2010
2 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
■ A green home no longer refers to the color.
■ Make these easy improvements to your
home to attract buyers.
■ Create an outdoor living space to help your
home stand out above the competition.
■ Simple staging can up a home’s appeal.
■ Education is key when considering home
Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 3
There hasn’t been a better time to buy or
sell a home in Indiana County than right now.
And here’s why...
• Interest rates are at their lowest in 30 years.
That means there are now more people who can qualify
for home loans, plus most can afford more house than they
• There are plenty of loans available through
• First-time buyers receive an $8,000 tax credit.
Combined with low interest rates, ﬁrst-time home buyers
can now afford to purchase even more home for their
money... at a monthly rate lower than many pay for rent!
• Home values in Indiana County are rock solid.
Home values in our area were relatively unaffected by the
housing boom upswing, and are remaining steady while
other parts of the country experience “leveling off” periods.
Little swing in either direction equals steady home values.
Whether you’re buying or selling,
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4 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Green homes no longer about the color
By MARGARET HARPER becoming more popular across mills that are placed on the roof or electricity, Peter said. side,” Peter said.
firstname.lastname@example.org the nation, although it has been side of a home to supplement Leach recently attended a sem- “Trucks are not shipping it from
slow to catch on in this area. inar on Net Zero homes, which California.”
Nowadays, when someone says Peter is working on a putting a are homes so green that the con- Some consumers may have mis-
they want to own a green home, contract together for a home to sumer doesn’t use any outside conceptions of green building,
they’re probably not talking about be built in the area with green energy. Leach said.
the color. features in the construction. The homes are powered by solar The concept, around for about
It is more likely they’re referring Some of the more popular fea- electric panels and other meth- 12 years for commercial building,
to “green building,” a movement tures used in green homes are: ods. was an expensive process years
by consumers and contractors to Geothermal heating and Another aspect of green build- ago, he said. As a result, people
build homes that have less impact cooling, with ground-source ing is stormwater management. think building a green home is also
on the environment. pumps that extract heat and Peter said stormwater expensive.
Green building is a relatively new cold from the ground runoff can be managed “Because of that, most people
concept in residential construc- through wells. Other though aspects such as shy away,” Leach said.
tion, said Jerry Leach, a certified heating and cooling landscaping by placing Building green does add to the
green professional through the methods are also an area of plantings initial cost of the home, but Peter
National Association of Home green, though, near where water said it depends on how far some-
Builders. and Leach said runoff occurs one wants to go with the green ini-
Leach, who is also the director of there are from the tiative as to how much more it
building codes with the Pennsyl- many roof of costs.
vania Builders Association, said options the But he reminded consumers that
the initiative takes into considera- avail- home. while the initial cost is higher, the
tion all elements in the home, such able. This savings come later with decreased
as heating and cooling, insulation Bet- helps the utility bills.
and energy-efficient appliances, to ter insulation to re- environment be- “You save much more than what
make the home more sustainable tain hot and cold cause water is ab- the initial investment was,” he
and better for the environment. air. sorbed on the same said.
Before consumers begin build- Energy-efficient property, leading to Consumers can take advantage
ing a green home, they must de- windows and doors. less erosion and of other incentives, such as tax
cide if they want to have the home EnergyStar ap- fewer sediment de- credits. And Leach said being
certified, Leach said. pliances, which posits elsewhere. green should add to the home’s re-
There are different levels of help conserve elec- Buying locally if sale value.
green homes, which are given rat- tricity. possible is yet an- Leach suggested using a certified
ings of gold, silver or bronze Low-flow other aspect, as the green builder.
among homes that are certified, faucets, toilets and materials will have “Look for a builder with that des-
based on guidelines by the Nation- showerheads, left less of a carbon ignation,” he said.
al Association of Home Builders. which conserve footprint, saving fuel “He’s invested time and energy
Certified homes are scored in water. and minimizing pol- into his education. It’s definitely
seven categories, such as site Other aspects of lution. the way to go.”
preparation and home design. green building in- “If you can buy And he thinks the concept is only
Warren Peter, president of War- clude generating things locally to be going to get more popular as peo-
ren Peter Construction, has served electricity on-site. put in your project, ple grow to understand it more.
on the Green Build Committee for Some consumers they consider that as “I don’t think that green is a fad,”
the Pennsylvania Builders Associa- may consider small, an added plus on he said.
tion. He believes green building is economic wind- the green build “I think it’s here to stay.”
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 5
Recycled bottles make beautiful countertops
By DEBBIE ARRINGTON “I like it because it’s a departure the lack of sustainability in the
Sacramento Bee (from granite or other solid sur-
faces),” says Sacramento, Calif., in-
marketplace,” Teter recalls. “I
needed to be designing something
Can a broken bottle be a thing of terior designer Mary Ann Downey. sustainable. And there was an air VETRAZZO: Made in Richmond, Calif., it contains about 85 percent
beauty? It can when it is recycled “All that ground-up glass looks of destiny about this product.” recycled or otherwise discarded glass, mixed with a cement-based
into a countertop. wonderful. In Richmond, Calif., Vetrazzo binder. Available in 26 color combinations, it requires annual seal-
Vetrazzo is quickly gaining a na- “As a designer, I’m always look- moved into a former Ford plant, a ing to protect its surface luster but otherwise needs only mild soap
tional following for its eye-catch- ing for new sustainable products 40,000-square-foot space that and water for cleaning.
ing surfaces made from shards of and more ways to use them. The once produced Model A’s and mili- CAESARSTONE: Made of 93 percent natural quartz, this brand is
recycled bottles. Dazzling in 26 glass adds some glitter and gleam. tary vehicles. touted for its variety of contemporary and classic colors, textures
color combinations, the counter- It’s a very contemporary look, and “It’s now a state-of-the-art ‘green’ and finishes.
tops start plenty of kitchen conver- very beautiful.” facility,” Teter says. SILESTONE: Made by Spain-based Cosentino, this product ac-
sations, living up to Vetrazzo’s Teter, a longtime product de- Vetrazzo is gaining a national au- counts for about 75 percent of quartz-countertop sales in this
motto: “A story in every surface.” signer for such companies as Wal- dience, fueled by enthusiastic de- country. It comes in more than 60 colors and two finishes. Scratch-,
“When anyone sees one for the Mart and Target, had her own signers looking for a one-of-a-kind stain- and scorch-resistant, Silestone is manufactured with “Mi-
first time, there’s this ‘wow’ mo- “wow” moment when she had a look. croban,” an antibacterial material.
ment,” says Olivia Teter, Vetrazzo’s recycled glass countertop installed “It tells you how the glass was ECO BY COSENTINO: Eco uses 75 percent recycled content, includ-
co-founder. “It’s inevitable.” in her home by Vetrazzo’s inventor, used, where it’s been,” she contin- ing ground glass, but tints mask the color differences in the “raw”
That first impression may lie be- Don McPherson, a Berkeley scien- ues. “I love the beauty, but I also material. Also incorporated into the mix are recycled porcelain,
hind the sales momentum this tist. She was so impressed that she love that it’s an educational tool on mirror, stone scraps and crystallized ash.
green product is enjoying. Vetrazzo became a partner in the startup your countertop. CAMBRIA: This quartz-based product is made in Minnesota and
expects to sell more than 110,000 company five years ago and “It makes you think. Vetrazzo comes in more than 60 colors.
square feet of its unique material pushed its rapid expansion. starts a conversation about recy- PAPERSTONE: As the name implies, this product is as hard as rock
this year, up 32 percent from 2009. “I had become disillusioned with cling without saying anything.” but is made of recycled cardboard or white bond paper.
“Even though the building in-
dustry was hard hit by the eco-
nomic downturn, green building
continues to grow at a very dra-
matic rate,” Teter says. “Although
• Pruning and Removal
we saw some fabricators go out of
business, demand for our product
• Stump Grinding
stayed strong and steady, and
we’ve continued to grow.”
Vetrazzo has 450 certified fabri-
cators and more than 600 author-
ized retailers throughout North
America. The company expects to
test-market its product this year in e Co ed”
me Hig end
local home-improvement centers.
At $90 to $140 per square foot in-
stalled, the glass countertops are Moving Across Town or Across The Country
comparable in price to granite and
other high-end materials. They’re
also extremely durable, stain- and
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Each 9-by-5-foot smooth slab
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6 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Advantages of living in a green home
There are many reasons for own- heat exchangers could reduce de- that allow for proper air exchange
ing or purchasing a green home, ac- pendence on public utilities, too. through ventilation, and low-emit-
cording to the National Association ting products like low- or no-VOC
of Home Builders at its Web site, MAINTENANCE paints reduce off-gassing. Further,
www.nahb.org. Effective stormwater management green building practices look at re-
and landscaping could mean less ducing the opportunity for moisture
OPERATING COSTS time maintaining outside spaces. intrusion. The efficient HVAC sys-
The technologies and practices re- Also, green building practices lead to tems, windows, and floor plans also
quired to build a green home to cer- the use of some longer-performing mean that heating and cooling is
tain criteria may result in lower costs materials and careful construction better distributed throughout the
to operate the home. Energy-effi- assemblies. Drained foundations, home.
cient appliances, lighting systems water spouts on gutters and flashing
and HVAC equipment result in lower around windows and doors might THE ENVIRONMENT
energy consumption compared to reduce the opportunity for system Increased energy and water effi-
other models. Using less water failure within the home due to mois- ciency in construction could lead to
through water-conserving faucets, ture intrusion. decreased energy and water con-
showers, toilets and irrigation sys- sumption in a home throughout its
tems may also result in less water INDOOR lifespan. Further, some renewable,
consumption. Properly sized HVAC ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY recycled and other efficient building
systems mean that less energy is Indoor air quality is one of the products used in green home con-
needed to condition spaces. Em- guiding principles of the ICC 700- struction may reduce the impact on
ploying technologies such as photo- 2008 National Green Building Stan- natural resources. Also, green homes
voltaic panels for solar electricity dard and the NAHB Model Green often include resource and waste re-
and water heating, and geothermal Home Building Guidelines. Homes duction and recycling amenities.
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 7
Easy improvements will attract buyers
Real estate pros often coach their clients waste and water up, not down, and into
on the value of making “curb appeal” im- sewer or septic lines. As a consequence,
provements to help sell their homes. Out- there is no need for the mess and heavy ex-
side painting and minor repairs signal that pense of digging through flooring, especially
the house has been well cared for. the concrete variety in the basement.
That’s a great marketing tactic, but an even “An up toilet is a super alternative, and it
better advantage is offering multiple bath- can go where traditional plumbing cannot,”
rooms. So if you’re planning to put your says Mike Coletto, an independent plumb-
house on the market and want to make it ing, heating, cooling and electrical contrac-
stand out, consider going a step further and tor in Illinois with extensive experience in-
adding a new bathroom. stalling and servicing up toilets manufac-
A spare bath is a great investment. Second tured by SFA Saniflo.
only to kitchen remodels for recouping re- Best of all, this type of home renovation
sale value, bathroom additions boast a 63.5 reaps instant rewards, improving the quality
percent rate of return, according to Remod- of life now and paying dividends later. AN UP TOILET allows bathrooms to be placed in tight spots.
eling Magazine’s 2008-09 “Cost vs. Value” re- So, if you are thinking of selling your
port. And when an up-flushing, macerating home, now is the time to plan your new bath ■ Pick up debris and store trash cans out ■ Edge grass and remove weeds that may
toilet — or “up toilet” — is used for the proj- installation. of view. have grown over walkways.
ect, its comparatively low installed-cost In addition to readying your home with a ■ Install new bulbs in porch and security ■ Repaint the front door and freshen up
makes a bathroom addition very affordable. bathroom addition, here is a checklist of lighting. chipped and peeling paint trim.
An up toilet can be installed virtually any- other ways you can easily increase the curb ■ Check bricks and pavers for cracks: Re- ■ Clean and polish the brass on door-
where in the home. That’s because this type appeal of your home: place them and reset any that are loose. knobs and lock housings, or replace them if
of plumbing system operates above the ■ Remove broken toys and tools that may ■ Patch worn or cracked asphalt or ce- severely tarnished.
floor, using small-diameter piping to pump have collected in the yard. ment in the driveway. — Courtesy of ARAcontent
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8 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Outdoor rooms from top to bottom
Outdoor rooms continue to be
rated as essential by homeowners,
given they are extensions of interi-
ors and add real estate value.
Yet, designing outdoor living
areas comes with its share of chal-
Understanding the basics from
the ground up simplifies the
The patio is more than a hard
It can serve as the outdoor
room’s focal point around which
other materials and features are
The textures and shapes of stone
flooring can lend a dimensional
feel, while a deck’s color allows it
to contrast or blend with the envi-
When planning the floor, spac-
photos courtesy of Family Features ing is the most important compo-
PERGOLAS offer a focal point to create a great outdoor area that adds extra living space and value to your home. nent.
Determining up front if a dining
area or outdoor kitchen is desired,
SPRING WINDOW and how many people the space
will accommodate are key consid-
erations. The patio should be
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 9
Outdoor spaces can be the bonus buyers want
Many would-be home sellers are
concerned about reduced housing
prices, and those who are highly
motivated are pulling out all the
stops to make their homes more
appealing than the competition.
If you’re preparing to sell this
spring but aren’t in a position to
invest in ambitious renovations,
such as a kitchen remodel or new
hardwood floors, the best advice is
to look to the “bonus” spaces in
and around your home and maxi-
mize their appeal.
Decks, patios, sunrooms and
porches have always been popular
with home buyers, but real estate
agents say that too often those
spaces are neglected or not used to
their best advantage.
“Anything that adds living space
adds value, and the least expensive
way to gain space is to build a deck
or turn the one you have into an DECKS, patios, sunrooms and porches offer a bonus living space that could put your home above the competition.
outdoor room by staging it so that
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10 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
How to buy a foreclosed home
With the downturn in the econo- tate owned by the lender), accord- lenders have turned to selling
my over the past two years, hun- ing to FindLaw.com, a leading on- properties through heavily adver-
dreds of thousands of homes have line resource for legal information, tised public auctions in which
gone into foreclosure, offering a and are owned by the lending in- dozens or sometimes hundreds of
unique, once-in-a-lifetime oppor- stitution or government agency properties are sold in one or two
tunity for many Americans to buy that backed the mortgage. For one days. The Federal Housing Admin-
a home at an unheard of price, reason or another, the owner failed istration (FHA) has sold foreclosed
sometimes 30 percent or more off to make payments on the loan and properties through local auctions
the most recent sale price. the lender foreclosed on the prop- for many years, typically an-
Buying a home is always a chal- erty (repossessed it). nounced in the classified sections
lenge. Buying a foreclosed home Banks and other home-lending of local newspapers. Potential
presents unique challenges, how- institutions are not in the business buyers submit bids on the day of
ever. You need to be willing to of owning property. They’re in the the auction, accompanied by a
hunt, put up with lenders who business of making money on the certified check for a percentage of
offer surprisingly little information money they lend. So it’s in their the bid price. The highest bidder
about the properties they’ve taken best interest to sell a foreclosed usually gets the home.
back, real estate agents who have property, and they are often anx- Buying a foreclosed property can
little experience or incentive in ious to do so. Properties of all be risky if you are not familiar with
selling foreclosed homes, and loan types, including single-family the procedures involved. Such a
officers who demand nearly per- homes and condominiums, can be PROPERTIES of all types can be foreclosed sale may not include the safe-
fect credit ratings to obtain a loan foreclosed. Depending upon local agents who specialize in REO county sheriff. guards that are present in a tradi-
in today’s tight-fisted market. regulations and traditions, some properties, while other institutions Because of the volume of fore- tional sale, such as a lender and a
Foreclosed properties are typi- lending institutions will sell their will sell foreclosed properties closed homes currently on the title insurance company.
cally referred to as REOs (real es- properties through real estate through auctions conducted by a market, a growing number of Continued on Page 11
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 11
Fast fixes add value to foreclosed homes
The high volume of foreclosed ADD NEW COUNTERTOPS REPLACE THE BATHTUB homes that have been left bare for
homes on the market is allowing The kitchen is one of the most Foreclosed houses frequently extended periods. To get rid of hid-
some astute buyers to turn eye- important rooms in any home, come with water stains left by den odors, allergens, irritants and
sores into eye-catching properties since it is a space where people standing water in sinks, toilets and mold, replace carpet with wood,
with only minimal investment. spend a lot of time — from cook- bathtubs. Updating a bathroom by particularly in high-traffic areas
While not every property can be ing dinner to entertaining friends. installing a new bathtub not only such as living rooms and great
fixed up affordably, there are some One of the most dramatic changes removes the problem, but, be- rooms. Swapping carpet for wood
common projects that dramatical- that can be made to a kitchen is cause the tub is a core item, it cre- adds style and creates a more spa-
ly improve a foreclosed home’s ap- adding new countertops. ates a more pleasant feeling in the cious feel. The choice of wood can
peal and value. room. Bathtubs are available in also make a big difference. Light
It alters the appearance of the
“Many people are finding huge many different styles and sizes, so wood colors can make a room ap-
opportunities in fixing up foreclo- space by changing the color pear larger, medium-toned woods
scheme, depth and texture of the there is likely to be one that suits
sures,” says Tom Sullivan, founder any taste, from traditional to con- can make a room appear more tra-
of Lumber Liquidators, the na- whole room. ditional and dark flooring can
temporary. Bathtubs start at
tion’s largest specialty retailer of Countertops range in price de- make a room appear warmer.
around $300, depending on the
hardwood flooring. “Most of these pending on room size, type of ma- Laminate flooring can deliver the
size and style.
houses can be completely trans- terial and mode of installation. In appearance of solid hardwoods,
formed with just a few improve- an average kitchen, a new lami- but costs less than $1 per square
ments. Often, the fixes are easy nate countertop starts at around TRADE CARPETING foot at places like Lumber Liquida-
enough to be do-it-yourself proj- $1,000, with granite or quartz FOR NEW WOOD FLOORING tors. This allows do-it-yourselfers
ects.” ranging from $3,000 to $6,000. Foreclosed houses are frequently the ability to transform a 400-
Here are some cost-effective op- Butcher-block countertops are an- abandoned with soiled carpet that square-foot area for as little as ADDING wood flooring will get rid
tions for breathing new life into a other attractive, yet cost-effective continues to gather buildup over $750. of any hidden odors in old
home. option. time. Mold is also common in — Courtesy of ARAcontent carpets.
How to buy a Keeping Homes Safe Since 1978 ZADRAVEC
foreclosed home CONTRACTING
Continued from Page 10
SOME OTHER TIPS
■ Not all foreclosed properties
are good deals. It seems like fore-
closed properties are everywhere
these days; however, not every
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12 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Simple staging steps can up a home’s appeal
By MELISSA RAYWORTH making your home market-ready best but they also know the proper CLEAN AND FRESH
For The Associated Press on a budget: styling to suggest a room’s use.” “I see fingerprints on white
doors all the time,” Carendi says of
It’s a question all homeowners OUTSIDE HELP FIRST IMPRESSIONS homes that are for sale.
face when they decide to sell: How “Always listen to the professional A good first impression won’t Clean as thoroughly as you can,
can you make your home as ap- you’re hiring to sell your home,” guarantee a sale, but a bad one can perhaps hiring a cleaning service
pealing to potential buyers as pos- Carendi says. “The agent has so scuttle it, says Mathison: “If the for one or two visits. Pay attention
sible? In today’s market, that ques- much experience, and he or she entry way is blase, that can set a to doors, baseboards, light switch
tion has become even more cru- can see the potential of the home precedent for the rest of the plates, ceiling fans and windows.
cial. and how they want to market it.” house.” Clean all appliances, especially
“It really depends how much Some owners hire a staging com- Outside, she says, clean thor- older ones, so they sparkle.
your home is worth,” says New pany to redecorate their home oughly and “pay close attention to Then take a good look around
York-based interior designer Ja- specifically to appeal to buyers. A the front door. You want it freshly and consider minor repairs or re-
nine Carendi. “Is it in move-in cool twist on that idea: Flynn sug- painted or stained.” Keep the lawn painting.
condition, and will buyers expect gests hiring a photo stylist (a re- trimmed, if you have one, and add A BEAUTIFUL entry way can make “Anything that shows the age of
it to be?” gional magazine can probably rec- a few potted plants near the door the home needs to be tackled,”
Not everyone should invest in ommend one) to give your place a for a look that’s “pulled together a great first impression. Carendi says. “You don’t want peo-
fancy upgrades and fresh coats of fresh look. but not overdone.” suggests using furniture to “create ple noticing a water stain. The
paint, she says. But all homeown- “Home stagers are all the rage Inside, consider touchup paint- the sense that you’re walking into problem might have already been
ers can benefit from reorganizing right now,” Flynn says, “but maga- ing in the entryway, and add a mir- the area where you decompress.” fixed, but the person sees it and
and beautification. zine photo stylists are the masters ror if the area doesn’t get much Add a bench near the door and a says, ‘Oh my goodness.’”
Carendi and fellow designers at turning spaces into cover shots natural light. If the front door leads console where someone could Other details: Bunches of fresh
Mallory Mathison and Brian packed with ‘wow’ factor. They not directly into your living room drop their keys and mail on arriv- mint or rosemary can freshen air
Patrick Flynn offer some tips on only make the rooms look their without a foyer or vestibule, Flynn ing home. Continued on Page 13
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 13
steps can up a Get rid of excess to stage your home
By ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN a sale or staging for clutter staging for yourself, family pic-
home’s appeal Scripps Howard News Service cleanup, a nice, fresh paint job
will start the project nicely.
tures are great. You could even put
them in coordinating frames and
Continued from Page 12 Some people “stage” their What about the floors? Is the arrange them nicely on the wall.
naturally, says Mathison, and a homes for selling purposes, while floor covering in good condition? There was a time when all
vase of flowers is always welcome. others “stage” just to make their Take carpet, for example. Does it model homes had theme rooms,
For a quick facelift: Lightly sand homes more attractive. Why? need to be professionally cleaned such as beach themes or hunting
the frames around your windows, Staging your home means simpli- or restretched to get rid of those themes. It was the thought that
then add a coat or two of white fying it, getting rid of excess. bumps? If the floor is tile, is the when visiting these model homes,
paint, Carendi says. But there are two types of stag- grout in need of professional the prospective buyer would feel
ing: One is for the purpose of sell- cleaning? If the floor is wood, does comfortable in a setting that com-
CLEAR THE WAY ing your home; the other is for the it need to be stripped and repol- plemented their interests.
Banishing clutter is crucial: Un- purpose of cleaning house. Let’s ished? What about the baseboards However, today, themes are
cluttered rooms feel larger, and compare the two. and all the wood trim? Are there rather outre; it is better to have an
buyers will have an easier time en- Staging starts with assessing nicks that need to be puttied and unthemed room that is well-ap-
visioning their own belongings in each room critically. What’s there fixed? A paint job will do wonders SIMPLE artwork and paint will pointed, simple and tastefully ac-
the space. Spend a weekend clear- that is necessary and what is su- here, too. A clean background and appeal to many buyers. cessorized if you are trying to sell
ing off countertops and purging perfluous? Starting with the walls, base will always give you a fresh the house. If you have rooms that
the home of anything you don’t are they clean? Perhaps a new wall start. powers it. This works whether you are themed and selling is the ob-
want or need. color or wallpaper is needed. Getting back to the walls, be are staging for sale or staging for ject, it’s time to untheme the
Box up offseason clothes and Though it does take some time sure to get rid of excess artwork or your own use. If you’re staging for room.
put them in storage — your clos- and some work, repainting the hangings. Simple is better as long sale, remove personal pictures With spring cleaning around the
ets will look bigger and part of the walls will do wonders to refresh a as what is on the wall fits the from the walls and use only art- corner anyway, staging should be
packing will be done when it’s room. Whether you are staging for space and enhances it, not over- work that fits the decor. If you’re both a fun and necessary project.
time to move. Put extraneous fur-
IN STOCK SALE
niture in temporary storage or
lend it to a friend. WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO HELP
Also, says Mathison, remove
anything you’re sure you don’t YOU GET THE JOB DONE RIGHT!
want to part with. Got some vin-
tage light fixtures or beloved furni-
“Take that out of the equation, if
you can’t part with it,” she says, “so HEAVY NO WAX VINYL & Products •
topsoil • mulch
compost • gravel
there’s no arguing over it in nego- Textured VINYL CARPET • decorative stone
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2 48 65 ¢ %
sq. sq. • excavating • demolitions
FROM THE EQUATION ft. ft.
• ground clearing • foundations
“It’s kind of a rule to take out Reg. Price
• driveways • utilities
two-thirds of your personal $
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To help buyers envision them-
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14 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Selling points to stand out in the crowd
By B. BUCKBERRY JOYCE manager for Lowe’s in St. Peters- bath remodel can add a lot of says. Other quick fixes: Update people feel safe and secure.”
St. Petersburg Times burg. value to a home, it also can cost a countertops and light fixtures, re-
If you’re soon to put your house lot. Instead, pick a smaller job pair grout lines or add a linen KEEP IT CLEAN
Standing out in a crowd can be on the market or just want to that will resonate with buyers. shower curtain. Pressure-wash your home and
good (you were voted prom king!) freshen up the home you have “If you don’t have money for a your fence (you may even find
and bad (you wore your crown to here are some quick and relative- full kitchen or bathroom remod- LIGHTEN UP out you don’t need to paint after
a job interview). ly inexpensive projects. el, replace just the faucets or “Replace old, outdated light fix- all). “A lot of times people knock
When it comes to selling a sinks,” Stocks says. Brushed nick- tures for a great, inexpensive the dust and the mold and
home, standing out is essential, PICK A PAINT el and oil-rubbed bronze finishes facelift,” Caramello says. “A new mildew off and it looks better,”
especially in a depressed real es- “Repaint your home,” Stocks are popular choices. light fixture can take an ’80s Stocks says. “It brightens it up a
tate market. says. Another option, says Caramel- house and make it look more like lot.”
With a flood of homes avail- “It takes a little bit of time and a lo: “Granite, granite, granite! The a house for the 2010s. Dome ceil-
able, buyers can afford to be little bit of effort and it can pay off prices have gone down so low ing in the kitchen? Remove it and LOVE YOUR LANDSCAPE
choosy, and small deficiencies big.” Realtor Janet Caramello of that it is a great investment to put put in overhead can lighting. A lot of inexpensive projects
easily overlooked when the mar- St. Petersburg agrees but adds, in granite for kitchen counter- You’ll need an electrician and can boost the oh-so-important
ket was hot can become deal- “Never paint a home white; it will tops.” maybe someone to do drywall curb appeal.
breakers. be too cold and is not appealing You can outfit an average-sized and could cost $1,000 to $2,000, Weed the yard and add mulch
That sagging backyard fence to buyers. Pick a neutral color: kitchen with solid granite or but it will pay off with a higher for starters.
you’ve been meaning to get to? pale yellow, sage green, light granite squares for about $2,000 offer.” Flowers are a quick way to add
Now’s the time. taupe.” to $4,000, she says. Pay attention to exterior light- color, and “heartier colored
Been putting off the pressure- In the bathroom, “take down ing as well, Stocks says. plants are better than flowering
washing? “Cleanliness leads to a SWAP IT OUT those medicine cabinets and re- “Having a good front door light plants in most cases for longevi-
closing,” says Steve Stocks, store While a full-scale kitchen or place with framed mirrors,” she and some motion lights makes ty,” Caramello says.
A home’s new owner should
ask the seller for lowdown
By MELISSA KOSSLER DUTTON “It’s unfortunate if a buyer does-
For The Associated Press n’t have access to a seller to explain
things,” he said.
After house-hunting, negotiat- Typically, the amount of infor-
ing a price and working out details mation exchanged depends on the
of his move, Patrick O’Leary was character of the negotiations,
ready to tackle the real work: un- Phipps said. Falling home prices
derstanding and operating the and tough negotiations in recent
various mechanical systems in his years have made some sellers less
new, 6,000-square-foot home. likely to provide additional details,
He was relieved when the former he said.
owner offered to meet him at the Real estate agent Gregg Whitney
DEBNAR'S POOLS & SPAS has found it easier to provide buy-
East Greenwich, R.I., house to go
10 YOUR HOME debnar's over its theater equipment, sprin- ers with information about con-
63501210 kler system and pool. The seller tractors and home professionals
left O’Leary a list of companies himself than to rely on sellers.
Class:_ROP 4 and contractors who have worked “We realized we could make sure
art#:63501210P on the home in recent years. they’re taken care of,” said Whit-
“They put all the bells and whis- ney, of La Jolla, Calif. “It’s really im-
3 X 6.50 tles in this house. It would have portant to have somebody you can
been difficult to just walk in and call and get questions answered.”
understand everything,” he said. But nothing can replace seller
“It definitely gives a comfort level.” insights, he added.
No law obligates sellers to help “Invariably, every house has a lit-
buyers learn the idiosyncrasies of tle something,” he said. “It’s not
a house, but some go to great that the seller didn’t disclose
lengths to help the new owners something, it’s just how the me-
settle in. Buyers should ask about chanics work.”
everything from the day-to-day That’s why it never hurts to ask
operations of the house to land- sellers for information, said
scaping details to the names of Donna Batdorff, a real estate agent
neighborhood baby sitters, said in Grand Rapids, Mich. She en-
real estate agent Ron Phipps. courages buyers to put together a
“There’s so much data you can list of questions after the deal has
collect,” said Phipps, who sells real been negotiated.
estate in Warwick, R.I., and is first She suggests asking everything
vice president of the Chicago- from the names of paint colors to
based National Association of Re- the names and details of immedi-
altors. Continued on Page 15
Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 15
New owner should ask seller for lowdown
Continued from Page 14 don’t know.”
Batdorff even asks sellers to fill
She recently oversaw a meeting
where a buyer walked the new Some questions that home buyers should ask sellers
out a form during closing offering owner around the home’s mean-
information about garbage pick- dering property line, pointed out The Associated Press
up, appliance warranties and ven- interesting varieties of trees and
dors who have worked on the shared the location of a generator ■ Are any appliances under warranty?
house. hookup. ■ Do you have product manuals for appliances?
The document often leads to the The seller also gave the owner a ■ Can you provide a landscape plan or a list of outdoor plants and how to care for them?
exchange of additional useful in- lesson on how to operate the ther- ■ What are the names and phone numbers of immediate neighbors?
formation, she said. mostat and a tip on how to start a ■ Are there children living on the street?
“Buyers and sellers don’t do this balky dishwasher. ■ Where is the school bus stop?
all the time,” she said. “It helps if Scull still remembers when she ■ What day is trash pickup?
the real estate agent facilitates the was 13 and received a nice house- ■ What do I do with recyclables?
conversation.” warming present from the girl who ■ What are your favorite restaurants, video stores and parks?
Sellers who are sentimental moved out of the house her family ■ Can you recommend a dry cleaner, mechanic, etc.?
about their home often appreciate moved into. ■ What companies did you use for lawn care, snow removal, pool cleaning, etc.?
the chance to share details, added “She drew up a map that listed ■ Is there an electrician, plumber or technician familiar with the systems in the house?
Judi Scull, a real estate agent in where all the cute boys in the ■ What are the names of the paint colors used in the house?
Westminster, Md. neighborhood lived,” Scull re- ■ Are there any light switches that operate something unexpected?
“A lot of times people just love called.
their house,” she said. “They don’t “It really helped me feel good
want to give it up to people they and fit in.”
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16 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Education is key
Buying a home is one of the cate yourself on the differences
biggest decisions and commit- between fixed- and variable-rate
ments one will ever make, yet products,” advises Copley. “Then,
many people are not nearly as fa- talk with your lender about the im-
miliar with the ins and outs of the pacts these products could have
mortgage process as they are with on your financial situation; doing
their favorite TV show or sports so will build more trust between
team. Taking time to educate you and your lender as well as
yourself will go a long way in eas- confidence in your own ability to
ing the stress of buying a home understand the product and repay
and preparing you for the respon- the loan in a timely manner.”
sibilities of home ownership. Finally, keep an eye out for spe-
“Low rates, combined with sta- cial programs and unique oppor-
bilizing home prices, are creating tunities.
buying opportunities for those When applying for a mortgage,
who qualify,” says Michael Copley, don’t underestimate the other
retail lending senior vice president costs of home ownership. In addi-
of TD Bank. “But before you buy, tion to the mortgage process,
do as much research as possible — there are taxes, homeowners in-
research lenders, know the prod- surance, closings costs — which
ucts and make sure you under- include home inspection and ap-
stand the costs associated with praisal and attorney fees — and
home ownership.” your down payment. There are
Your lender may be your most also costs associated with home
valuable partner in the home pur- ownership that you may not have
chasing process. When searching had when renting, such as paying
for a lender, find one you’re com- for your own repairs on the home
fortable with and who’s looking and certain utilities that may have
out for you. Your lender should be previously been included in your
able to educate you, explain things rent. The mortgage-qualifying
well and provide accurate, quick process factors these expenses in,
answers to your questions so that but you can’t rely on your lender
you can make smart borrowing for determining your expenses.
decisions. Some institutions even Create a budget of your expenses
offer educational seminars to pre- so you can truly understand what
pare you for home ownership. you can afford and what your fi-
Also, consider a lender who is able nancial situation will be when
to make lending decisions locally. owning a home.
— Courtesy of ARAcontent
It will help you develop a stronger
relationship with your lender and
ensure you’re not just another
Today, many banks sell their
mortgages on the secondary mar-
ket to improve the bank’s overall
liquidity. A lender that does not
sell its mortgages can offer certain
“Working with a lending institu-
tion that doesn’t sell its mortgages
provides a pricing advantage. Ad-
ditionally, there is an opportunity
to modify the interest rate, instead
of having to refinance, which ulti-
mately saves you time and
money,” explains Copley.
In addition to researching
lenders, it’s important to under-
stand the various products and
programs in the market. When photo courtesy of ARAcontent
choosing a mortgage, you need to TAKING TIME to educate yourself
know how it works and how it will
impact your financial situation. will go a long way in easing the
“Do your own research to edu- stress of buying a home.
Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 17
Understanding credit for home-buying success
With many signs pointing to the KNOW WHAT’S ON count was opened and your pay-
beginnings of a recovery in the YOUR CREDIT REPORT ment history for each. If you’ve
housing market, potential home Your credit report is the other been involved in court action like
buyers can still find plenty of se- major piece of information a bankruptcy or monetary judg-
lection, low prices and low interest lender will consider when decid- ments, this information will likely
rates. If you’re thinking of buying a ing whether to give you a mortgage appear on your report as well.
home, now might be the right loan. Your credit report is basically Your report will also show past
time, but before you contact a real a summary of your financial be- requests for your credit reports
estate agent or apply for a mort- havior, including how you’ve used (inquiries) that might come from
gage, your top priority should be credit in the past and how well you lenders, insurers, employers or
checking your credit report to see manage repaying debt. The infor- stores. Too many inquiries on your
if your credit is in good shape. mation on your report comes from report might make potential
Credit — specifically misuse and creditors, public records and other lenders think you are trying to
misunderstanding of credit — reliable sources, which report it to overspend, so think carefully be-
spurred the housing crisis, many the credit bureaus through auto- fore applying for new credit; in-
experts agree. The consequences mated processes. Credit reports quiries stay on your report for two
have included tighter standards generally include personal data years. Buying a home is likely the
from lenders and the need for bor- such as variations on your name, largest investment you’ll ever
rowers to better understand how your driver’s license number, So- make — one that will impact your
to use credit wisely. cial Security number, birth date, credit for many years to come.
Interest rates remain low and current and past employers, and It pays to understand credit, re-
those with good credit will be bet- current and past addresses. view your report and know your
ter positioned to take advantage of You’ll also find a listing of your score. photo courtesy of ARAcontent
the opportunities currently avail- credit accounts, when each ac- — Courtesy of ARAcontent HOME BUYERS can still find great deals in the housing market.
able in this unique housing mar-
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WHAT YOU NEED!
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at the time a lender requests a
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18 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Home inspections can
help you sell your home
When you’re ready to sell your pair costs, adds value to the home, sessments and pool and spa in-
home in the current market, you and it could increase the likeli- spections. The current housing
need to take every step you can to hood of an offer.” market requires a proactive ap-
ensure a timely sale at the price Even if someone in your family is proach to selling, and to get the re-
you want. A surplus of homes for handy, a professional home in- sult you want, you have to think
sale means that yours needs to spector will be able to point out is- about every aspect of your home.
stand out in style, amenities and sues that might go unnoticed by Having a home inspection can add
quality to make an impression on someone who doesn’t know the ins value to the property, speed up the
potential buyers. The more steps and outs of inspecting. Today’s negotiation process, increase the
you take to make your house sale- buyers are quick to point out flaws likelihood of an offer and, most
ready, the better results you’ll get. uncovered by the home inspectors importantly, help sell your home.
Currently, home sales are at a they bring with them, particularly — Courtesy of ARAcontent
historic low — so what do you if the flaws could compromise
need to do to buck that trend? Up- health or safety.
dated decor and proper staging Buyers can use problems as bar-
certainly help present your home gaining chips, causing previously
well, but don’t think that cosmetic agreed upon prices to be lowered
fixes are all you need. Buyers want or even the cancellation of a deal.
THE ROOF is one of the major areas covered in home inspections. to know the home they’re consid- Inspections help uncover imper-
ering is safe and sound, and the fections that often can be fixed
best way to establish that is to hire easily and inexpensively, so it’s
a home inspector. worth it to get your home inspect-
Twenty years ago, it seemed ex- ed before you list it.
travagant to hire a home inspector, In addition, a good inspection
but today it’s standard practice. can raise the likelihood of an offer
Buyers will often bring their own being placed on your home. Buy-
inspectors to the table, so you ers are looking for security. If you
need to start by hiring one your- can show them your home has
self. Hiring a professional will give been inspected, they’ll feel more
you a realistic perspective on comfortable with it. That confi-
what’s going on in the bones of dence often equates to more dol-
your home. lars in your pocket when you agree
“In a down market, a pre-sale in- to the sale.
spection can make a home stand The areas covered in home in-
out,” says David Tamny, president spections are: the major systems
of the American Society of Home and components such as the foun-
Inspectors. “More and more, sell- dation, exterior siding, flashing photo courtesy of ARAcontent
ers are obtaining pre-sale inspec- and trim, the roof, plumbing, elec- BUYERS want to know the home
tions to help uncover and address trical units, and heating and cool- they’re considering is safe and
potential issues before the first ing units. sound, and the best way to
prospective buyer walks through In addition, some home inspec-
the door. This simple step allows tors offer additional services in- establish that is to hire a home
Give your home new life for better planning and lowers re- cluding radon testing, energy as- inspector.
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Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010 — 19
Important tools for selling
your home in tough times tion. The first place to start is to
A few years ago, it seemed like
you could stake a “for sale” sign declutter your home. Put away any
outside your home and within a personal items or items of expres-
few hours you would have multi- sion that would detract from a
ple offers. Not anymore. Today’s buyer feeling at home. A fresh coat
tough economic times mean that of paint doesn’t hurt either.
home sellers need to do their Fill out the disclosure forms.
homework, take a more assertive Some states require sellers to fill
role in marketing their home and, out a long form that explicitly asks
at times, get creative to help their about the seller’s knowledge of
home stand out from others that various significant or material de-
are on the market. fects that might be present in the
Regardless of how tough the home, according to FindLaw.com.
times are, the fact remains that a States vary in their requirements.
nice home, well maintained, in a Some states require sellers to dis-
desirable neighborhood and close water in the basement, leaks photo courtesy of ARAcontent
priced right will sell more quickly in the roof, the use of lead-based HOME SELLERS need to do their homework, take a more assertive role in
than a home that hasn’t been kept paint, or unsafe concentrations of marketing their home and, at times, get creative to help their home
up or hasn’t been priced according radon gas. Regardless of what your stand out from others that are on the market.
to what other homes in the neigh- state requires, it’s really in the sell-
borhood would sell for. Whether er’s interest to disclose any previ-
you’re selling your home as part of ous problems to reduce the risk of
downsizing your lifestyle or you’re To get comps, visit open houses, a lawsuit in the future by a dis-
seeking a larger home for a grow- read classified ads (in print and gruntled buyer.
ing family, the following steps of- online) and check out Web sites Advertise on the MLS. If you’re
fered by FindLaw.com, one of the such as www.realtor.com, by the working with a real estate agent,
nation’s leading online sources for National Association of Realtors the agent should help put the
real estate law, can pay dividends (NAR). property into the online Multiple
in helping you achieve a quick sale Review actual selling prices. Of Listing Service, and maybe in the
and a price that reaches your de- course, list prices don’t tell you classifieds, too. If you don’t have
sired goal. how much houses ultimately sell an agent, you can take the same
Assemble your team. Most for — that’s the comparable data steps yourself (one Web site,
sellers prefer to work with a real you really need. In a hot market, www.iggyshouse.com, allows you
estate agent or a lawyer at some houses might go for well over list to put your house on the MLS for
point in the process. In fact, in a price and vice versa. A number of free). Interested buyers can then
handful of U.S. states, a lawyer Web sites offer such information, make an appointment to see the
must help finalize the sale. Real es- and you may want to carefully house in person.
tate agents typically charge a com- watch county Web sites that pub- Hold an open house. Many
mission, about 6 percent, to be lish this information for tax pur- home sellers find open houses a
split between your agent and the poses. useful tool. They’re certainly good
buyer’s agent, if any. Lawyers nor- Price aggressively, but not too for bringing in the crowds. In de-
mally charge by the hour. Despite aggressively. As the seller, of course ciding when to hold an open
the costs, experienced, responsi- you would like to get every nickel house, look for opportunities
ble professionals can ultimately out of selling your home. The bal- when your area attracts a large
save you time, money and aggra- ancing act is finding the right price number of people from surround-
vation. where you don’t have to cut it mul- ing areas, such as a neighborhood
Conduct a pre-inspection. tiple times to trigger an offer, or a or citywide festival or sporting
Many states require a home in- price that is so low that a potential event.
spection report as part of a disclo- buyer might think there’s some- Be prepared to negotiate. Be-
sure form before placing a home thing wrong with it. cause there are more sellers than
on the market. To make sure your Go to open houses. Sellers buyers in most markets, buyers
home passes the test, hire a third- need to understand what other currently have more leverage in
party home inspector to conduct a sellers are doing and offering to negotiating. Be prepared to re-
pre-inspection of your home to sell their homes for. The best way spond to a range of concessions,
help you make necessary repairs to do that is to go to as many open from lower-than-expected offers
and updates before an official in- houses in your area as possible and requests for the seller to cover
spection. and take note of who the potential the closing costs to decorating al-
Conduct a comp. A “comp” is buyers are, their feedback on near- lowances and mechanical repairs.
shorthand among real estate by homes and what other sellers On the other hand, as the home
agents for comparing your home are offering potential buyers in seller, you should be prepared to
to similar types of homes in your terms of price and incentives. counter by demanding that all se-
area with similar features, such as Make your home as attractive rious offers have their financing in
square footage, number of bed- as possible. Buyers will pay thou- place to ensure a smooth sale.
rooms, number of bathrooms, etc. sands of dollars more for a home To learn more about real estate
This process will help you deter- that is tastefully decorated and ap- law, visit www.findlaw.com.
mine a price range for your home. pears in ready-to-move-in condi- — Courtesy of ARAcontent
20 — Indiana Gazette “Your Home” Supplement, Thursday, April 22, 2010