West Essex Home Sale Prices

Average home sale prices in the West Essex NJ area are finally close to the sale prices that were last seen in 2006, the height of the housing market peak according to the NJ Department of Taxation.   In fact, Livingston, North Caldwell and Roseland prices have slightly exceeded those  of 2006.  2015 2006 avg home price

Is it time for you to make your move? You might be in for a happy surprise if you have not checked the value of your home recently!   Email me at kim.fiore@century21.com  to get started.

 

Does Home Staging Work?

REALTOR Magazine Daily News recently published this article about the effectiveness of home staging:

Home staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even motivate them to pay more, according to the National Association of REALTORS 2015 Profile of Home Staging, a survey of more than 2,300 REALTORS representing buyers and sellers.

Eighty-one percent of REALTORS who represent buyers say that staged homes make it easier for their home buyers to visualize a property as their future home.  Forty-six percent of buyer agents also reported that staging makes their buyers more willing to tour a home they viewed online, and 45 percent say that buyers tend to view the value of the home more positively if it is decorated to buyers’ tastes.

Buyer agents also say that staging can potentially influence how much their buyers are willing to offer for a home.  According to the survey, thirty-two percent of buyer agents surveyed say that staged homes increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer for a home by 1 percent to 5 percent; 16 percent said it could increase offers by 6 percent to 10 percent.

However, not everyone chooses to stage a home in prepping it for sale. The survey showed that agents felt they could only recommend to sellers that they declutter and fix property faults.  Yet, nationwide the median dollar value to stage a home is $675.  The survey found the three most important rooms to stage for buyers are the living room, kitchen and master bedroom.

Quick and Easy Bathroom Makeovers

Now that the winter weather has set in you are probably spending more time in your home.  Are things looking a bit dated?  Here are four quick and easy ideas from Century 21 to freshen up your bathrooms without spending much time or money.

Replace Showerheads

Still stuck with the same showerhead that was there when you moved in? Consider replacing it. It’s an easy installation that may make all the difference. Look for a showerhead with settings for water pressure and flow so that each member of your family can choose their own preferences.

Update Towel Racks

While towel racks and other hardware in your bathroom don’t exactly expire, their styles might. Browse options available across all types of racks, such as free standing, wall mounted, and over the door, to find a more current look that fits your home decor personality. Visitors may notice that new pieces give an updated look to the entire room.

Add Fresh Linens

When was the last time you bought new bathroom linens? If you’re not sure, then it’s time for new ones. Set your new, fluffy towels on display (on that stylish towel rack you just installed) for a fresher look. Make sure to invest in a couple extra for any overnight guests to use.

Frost Windows

Since bathrooms tend to be smaller, they need as much natural light as they can get. While covering up bathroom windows with curtains is essential for privacy, you’re blocking precious sunlight. Instead, try frosting your windows for maximum light while maintaining your privacy.

You might be surprised with how these quick fixes can give new life to an older looking bathroom. Get started today!

Selling your Home over the Holidays

The winter holidays are here and  you might be wondering if it is worth the trouble to put your house on the market or to keep your house on the market during this busy time of year. There are both pros and cons to selling now and here are a  few to think about.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. Buyers who are looking now are serious buyers.  Most people are very busy this month and you will not have as many people just looking.  You will have fewer showings which  means fewer disruptions for you.
  2. There is less inventory on the market.  Buyers will have fewer homes to choose from which means your home will have more of a spotlight.
  3. Your home decked out with a few tasteful  holiday decorations is  looking it’s best.  As you are decorating, keep in mind the goal is to help buyers envision their families living there. Remember please to  store everything as soon as the holidays are over!  

Now on to the cons:

  1. It’s difficult  during the holidays to have your home always ready for a home showing.
  2. One of the first things you were told to do when you decided to put your house on the market was  to minimize clutter so a buyer could see themselves living there.  Your holiday decorations, including all of those crafts your children made long ago, have a great sentimental meaning to you but buyers might see them as clutter and not be able to focus on your great house. How do you feel about not displaying all your holiday items?
  3. Buyers might think you are desperate to sell your home which might bring some very low offers.
  4. The holidays are a time to relax and spend time with family and friends.  Do you really want to worry about  showing your house?

I hope I have given you some ideas to think about  before you  put your house on the market  at this time of year.  Remember the decision to sell is entirely up to you.  If you would like to discuss your home selling or buying needs please email me at kim.fiore@century21.com or give me a call.  I would be happy to help.

Happy Holidays!

Time to Get Organized!

If you are like many people, one of your new year’s resolutions was  to get organized.  We are two weeks into 2015 so it’s time to get going.   If you don’t know where to start, Sara Adrienne Knowles , a Seattle interior designer writing for Zillow.com has some  suggestions for you.

 Learn to let things go

The first step in any organization plan is purging. This can be the hardest part, but it is also the most rewarding.

Do not keep what isn’t functional or doesn’t bring you joy. Also remember that something you let go of might bring someone else a great deal of pleasure.

If you’re not sure you can part with an item, store it in a box and see if you miss it or need it. This is a great litmus test for what’s truly necessary.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Any organization effort is better than no organization effort. It’s best to approach a behemoth task like organizing your entire home in stages.

The house provides us with natural barriers. Think of each room as its own project and it will begin to feel more manageable.

And remember that it gets worse before it gets better, so don’t feel discouraged early on. Organizing is not something that happens in one day – it is a journey and a state of mind.

Think outside the box store

A trip to the Container Store can be fun, but unorthodox storage solutions make for a more interesting space.

Beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces can be highly practical and help make your home more functional. Make use of available and affordable materials when possible to stretch your home organization budget.

The three Bs: bins, buckets and baskets

Oh, and jars. (But that doesn’t start with a B.)

Once you’ve whittled down your belongings to favorites and must haves, you’re going to need somewhere to store them. Baskets and buckets have a wonderful visual impact in a room — filling nooks, resting against chairs, and adding texture and color.

Using jars in the kitchen to store dry goods can make open shelving a lot more appealing. Bonus: With healthy grains and goodies in plain sight, you’ll end up using them more often.

Use your vertical space

If your home doesn’t have a huge footprint, vertical solutions are essential for staying organized. These can be implemented in a more practical manner, like stacking bins and boxes under your bed or in your closet, as well as through design decisions.

Capitalizing on vertical space draws the eye to different parts of the room and creates a sense of balance, in addition to saving important real estate on the floor.

 Feeling inspired or overwhelmed?  Start with one room and you will see the difference in no time!

Is Your Home Ready for Spring?

little-spring-pack-1172078_640It finally feels like spring in the West Essex area after one of the worst winters we have had in years.  The winter not only took a toll on us but also on our homes.   The National Association of Home Builders recently published their  top 10 tips for home owners to get ready for spring.

  1. Inspect roof—Check your roof for loose, warped or missing shingles and make sure the chimney flashing and skylight seals are intact.
  2. Clean and repair gutters—Clear winter storm debris from gutters and downspouts, and check that they are still securely attached to the house. Blocked or loose gutters can allow water into your home and damage trim.
  3. Look for leaks—Common culprits for hard-to-find leaks are attics, crawl spaces and washing machine hoses. Inspect these areas, look under sinks for damage from frozen pipes and check your water heater for signs of corrosion.
  4. Clear exterior drains—Remove leaves from underground or exterior drains to clear the way for spring showers and prevent backups.
  5. Inspect siding—Inspect siding for pieces that have come loose during winter storms.
  6. Check window and door seals—Examine the exterior caulking on door and window seals to ensure it remains watertight.
  7. Patch cracks—Patch cracks in concrete driveways, sidewalks and steps to keep water out and prevent further expansion.
  8. Paint the exterior—Painting or touching up paint on the exterior of your home not only makes it look better, but will also help protect the home from the elements.
  9. Inspect the HVAC—Hire a qualified technician to service your home’s HVAC system to make sure it is running properly before hot temperatures call for air conditioning. Now is also the time to replace your HVAC filters.
  10. Check your home’s grading—Ensure the grading of your yard slopes away from your home’s foundation to keep excess moisture at bay.

 

To find a local professional remodeler, visit nahb.org/remodelerdirectory.

15-Minute Home Makeovers

We are all starved for time these days.  It is overwhelming to plan large “do it yourself projects” when it feels like there is never enough time to do the things that need to be done on a daily basis.  Lisa Kaplan Gordon, writing for HouseLogic.com, came up with 7 ways to freshen up your house that can be done in under 15 minutes.

1. Switch the plates. Upgrade your drab, plastic switch plates with snazzy covers that match or accent your decor. Even the most expensive brass switch plates cost less than $20 each.

Or, spend a buck for a plastic plate and decorate it yourself. Use craft paint, or cover the plate with decorative paper (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSdHjKY243s).

You also can switch outlet covers, but don’t get too fancy. Outlet covers should blend with the wall.

2. Touch-up boo-boos. A bit of new paint gives any room a fresh face, which is why you should keep extra color-matched paint after you remodel. Touch up banged-up baseboards, door and window trim, and wall marks that won’t wash away. Even spot painting requires care; use a drop cloth to protect other surfaces.

3. Change out drawer and door hardware. Upgrade your kitchen or bathroom by installing new pulls and knobs. Be sure to measure drawer pulls so you won’t have to drill new holes. Home improvement centers have a large selection of inexpensive pulls and knobs.

4. Update your mailbox. Bump up curb appeal  by spray-painting your old mailbox. You can freshen the same color, or go wild with bright hues. Don’t forget to scrub off dirt and rust before painting with rust-proof paint ($6-$12 for a 10-oz. can; lots of decorative textures and colors).

5. Play the numbers game. Decorative house numbers and plates give your home a custom and classy look. Some numbers are quick peel-and-stick affairs; others you’ll have to screw in. They’re made of wood, plastic, brass, stainless steel, and other materials; $6 to $30 each.

6. Embellish your throne. A new toilet seat gives you a regal bearing. Plastic and enameled seats ($12-$25) in a rainbow of colors add a dash of panache; a solid wood mahogany or walnut seat ($45-$60) makes an executive statement; cushioned seats ($15-$20) won’t make a lasting impression – and that’s a good thing.

7. Declutter. You’ll be amazed how a 15-minute daily declutter can make a room look like new. First, get rid of stuff  from your fridge door: that large, blank canvas will immediately brighten your kitchen. Corral mail and papers in decorative boxes with tops that can close and hide the mess. Organize school supplies in caddies. Every day, tame a new spot.

Even small  improvements will pay off in an easier and more profitable sale of your house. If you are thinking of selling your home contact me at 973-349-6731or kim.fiore@century21.com for a free market analysis or use the form below. I will work with you so you get the most for your home in the West Essex area.

Getting Ready to Sell Your Home

If you are thinking of selling your home in the near future – remember small improvements can mean a great deal.
  Look at your home the way a buyer will look at it. Repaint those marked up walls and woodwork, fix that leaky faucet or running toilet, clean the windows, fix window screens, clean the switch plates, polish the cabinets, regrout the bathroom. If the carpets are soiled have them professionally cleaned. Replace the drip pans on your stove top if they are dirty. Look at your faucets, showerheads, toilet seats and light fixtures, these can be replaced inexpensively and can make a big difference in updating your home. Use the highest wattage bulbs allowed to show your house in the best light. These small and inexpensive fixes will pay for themselves in the sales price.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter – Your home will look much more spacious with less furniture and fewer knick-knacks and personal items. Get rid of excess furniture, clean out the closets and donate, toss out, have a garage sale or put in temporary storage anything you can. Remove furniture and items that don’t fit the room’s purpose, like exercise equipment in the bedroom and a work desk in the dining room. Buyers will open closets and cabinets, be sure they are neat. Clear your kitchen and bathroom counters to make them seem bigger. Buyers want to imagine your home as their home. They will have a hard time doing that if your things are cluttering the house.
 Curb Appeal – First impressions mean everything. Give the front door and woodwork a new coat of paint. Get a new doormat. If sidewalks or steps or cracked, think about repairing them. Tidy up or add landscaping. Be sure the grass is mowed. Plant some flowers in the landscape or in pots. Look at the front of your house with a critical eye. If you were seeing your house for the first time, what would you think about it?
Keep it Clean –  One of the biggest turnoffs for buyers is a dirty house. The house needs to be as clean and neat as possible while it is for sale. Imagine walking into a dirty bathroom while looking at a house. Would you want to buy it? Open windows to let fresh air in. Pet odors need to be addressed. You might love your pet and not mind the smell but prospective buyers do not feel that way about it.

All of these improvements will pay off in an easier and more profitable sale of your house. If you are thinking of selling your home contact me at 973-349-6731 or kim.fiore@century21.com for a free market analysis or use the form below. I will work with you so you get the most for your home in the West Essex area.