March 26th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
Stumped as to which home upgrades make sense? Interested in renovations for value, but you’re unsure what to tackle? I have a few simple guidelines I use to help clients narrow their scope and focus on the right choices.
Question #1: How long will you live in your house?
If you’re hunkering down for the next decade or two, don’t hesitate to do what you would most appreciate in your home. This is especially true of cosmetic changes, when appealing to potential buyers is a non-issue. After a decade or two, your upgrades might need upgrades, so go with projects that make the most sense for your taste and the way you prefer to live in your home.
Question #2: What have the neighbors done?
There’s wisdom in getting an idea what the surrounding homes look like. On one hand, you may get inspiration from ways in which your neighbors have transformed homes which are probably similar to yours. On the other, you’ll get an idea how much renovation you can get away with in your market. Upgrade to hard and heavy and you might not be able to get any of that money out if you’re going to sell, since the home will need to be listed far above market comparables.
Question #3: What’s a hassle in your house?
If something in your home is a hassle, it’ll probably bug prospective buyers as well. Is there limited storage space? Nowhere for guests to stay? An old-fashioned bathroom with a funky layout? There’s good reason to handle these headaches. You’ll not only enjoy the upgrade while you live in the home, but you’ll improve it for buyers when the time comes to sell.
When you get down to actual projects, there are details to consider, such as budget, timing, and design choices, but these three questions go a long way to getting your upgrade ideas organized.
I’m also available to offer my professional thoughts on possible upgrades. Get in touch if you’d like me to stop by for a walk-through of your home. I’ve seen hundreds of homes and would love to provide a helpful perspective: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
Two Tools to Help You Foster Good Financial Habits for Home Ownership
I often field questions from people who are thinking about buying their first home. Many are very early in the process, some in college, some working their first jobs. Many want to know what they need to do now to one day be able to have a place of their own.
Part of being ready for home ownership means having the discipline to make personal and financial decisions which put you in a good position when the time comes. A lot of this means sound habits, such as saving cash for a down payment, reducing debt, and maintaining good credit. Many people have yet to form these habits.
There are strategies to help you stick to your habits, such as telling people about your goals, writing down your goals and posting them in prominent places around your house and car, and breaking your goals into small, reasonable “mini goals,” but sometimes what you really need is a little external accountability.
HabitForge.com and Stickk.com are two web-based tools which help you stick to changing your habits. HabitForge operates on the premise that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. To use it, you simply provide a goal or desire, and the service sends you email each day to check in and see if you’ve kept up. A simple “yes” or “no” click tracks your commitment.
Stickk.com is a little more involved and perhaps a more powerful option. Stickk was developed by Yale University economists who tested the effectiveness of Commitment Contracts through extensive field research. Years of economic and behavioral research show that people who put stakes – either their money or their reputation – on the table are far more likely to actually achieve a goal they set for themselves. Stikk.com allows you to select a goal, get the “stakes,” get a referee to judge your compliance, and add friends for social support.
If you’re trying to clean up your financial house before you make that first big investment in your future, you might consider exploring these tools to help you create the solid habits you’ll need to get the loan, make your down payment, and ultimately take care of your home. I hope you find them helpful.
If you’d like to talk about a detailed path to home ownership, I’d be glad to chat with you. Get in touch today: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 email@example.com
February 18th, 2013 by Terri Aubain
When you’re preparing your house for the market, almost every agent will explain how valuable curb appeal is when it comes to marketing your home. Curb appeal can mean a lot of things, of course, ranging from wholesale replacement of the roof, paint, and landscaping, to a few tiny details designed to spruce up the place.
One of the best (and most cost-effective!) tune-ups you can make works both from the curb and from up close. It’s kind of like Botox for your home’s face. It’s a little something I like to think of as the “Front Door Tune-up.”
The front door is a focal point on your home, both from a distance and up close. Here’s how to leverage it for maximum impact:
1) Paint the door with an appropriate, fresh, contrasting color. Not only will this draw the eye (possibly even away from the crack in the driveway!), but it will go a long way to creating the impression of a new paint job.
2) Replace faded, small address numbers with classy, visibly new hardware. Long gone are the days of tacky decals. Even a modest investment at an upscale home accessories store can add a touch of luxury to your entryway.
3) Replace knob/handle and lock hardware. The feel of the doorknob, the click of the hardware, and the sense of security the door conveys matters hugely. It’s a front-line sensory experience for potential buyers. A sticky, weak, degraded set of locks only hurts your first impression.
4) Upgrade the door, if possible. Sometimes paint and hardware won’t do the trick. If you have an older home in a subdivision where many of the same styles of door were used, this could be a good time to differentiate your home while upgrading the aesthetic.
Will a door save your home from significant cosmetic problems? No. But I’ve seen it work again and again: The “Front Door Tune-up” is a subtle but effective listing tool.
I have lots of resources on curb appeal! Contact me for more: Terri Aubain 832-262-0894 firstname.lastname@example.org