How to Increase Your Home Value (For Any Budget)

There are many reasons why people would worry about their home value.  Whether you wish to sell in the near future or are wish to apply for a line of credit based on your home equity, home value can be very important.

The crucial thing to remember when looking to improve your home value is that it’s all about maximizing your efforts.  In other words, you want to put in a little to get out a lot.

Here are 3 ideas for home improvements that can get the most bang for your buck, for any budget:

1. Kitchen and Bathrooms

Many home renovations start with the kitchen and bathroom.  These high-traffic rooms are often the ones that become scruffy or out-of-date.

Low Cost:

The easiest fix may be to give the walls a fresh coat of paint.  This is good advice for most rooms, though painting should be done selectively.  Start with your kitchen and bathrooms then move on to the bright rooms (switching them to a white or off-white, as neutrals tend to attract the most buyers).  Using fresh, modern colours – neutrals if in doubt – help to brighten the rooms and make them appear larger.

Pro Tip: Consider choosing a low-VOC paint.  This is a eco-friendlier option which helps your family breathe easy with less dangerous chemicals being released from your paint.

Once your walls have been updated, turn to the smaller details.  Grab some new handles for your cabinets and faucets for your sinks, re-caulk your sinks and tubs, and buy matching front panels for your appliances.  Make sure that if you’re replacing the faucets in your bathrooms, the ones for your sink and shower match.

Give everything a good scrubbing to make it look new.  You can even hang new towels for showings or valuations for that last little impression.

Higher Budgets:

This is where you can go a bit bigger with the kitchen and bathroom upgrades.  Replace any old appliances with energy-efficient models.  Install new light fixtures and countertops.  Make sure your cabinets are modern and all of the colours are fresh.  You can even use a specifically-designed durable epoxy to paint appliances if you don’t want to buy new.

Pro Tip: Pot lights are in high demand in open concept homes.  If you’re upgrading the lights in your kitchen, see if you can get your hands on some of these.

If you only have one bathroom in the house, you might also consider adding a bathroom.  Even a half-bath would set you up to recoup an estimated 80%-130% of your initial investment.  Find room for this by looking at any extra rooms or underutilized spaces, like large closets or spaces under the stairs.  However, it’s never a good idea to compromise bedroom space – you want as much of this as you can get.  Experts say you’ll need to carve out at least 18 square feet for a half-bath and 30 square feet for a full bath (35 square feet if you want to put in a bathtub versus a standing shower).

Pro Tip: Use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious.

2. Think About Your Curb Appeal

You don’t get two chances for a first impression.  Think about what the exterior of your house, including your front yard.

Low Cost:

This one’s easy.  Cut the grass, rake up any leaves, remove any weeds, and trim your hedges.  Brighten it up with some flowers – potted or planted – and a couple bags of mulch.

Some other options include power-washing your sidewalk and porch, giving your front door a fresh coat of paint, and putting in a new mailbox.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to give the entire exterior a fresh coat, go for a top-performing semi-gloss exterior paint for best quality.

Higher Budget:

Add or remove trees for landscaping that really complements your home.  Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views and darken the overall property.  Experts say that landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return, with investments of $400-$500 bringing a quadruple return.

When in doubt, get a professional landscaper.  Tell them you are looking to increase your home value through improved curb appeal and let them decide some options.

3. Flooring, Windows, and Walls…Oh My!

These might be the forgotten parts of your house but they can be crucial to giving instant improvements to your home value.

Low Cost:

Deep clean everything.  This makes everything look like new and lets in light.  It makes your house feel less cluttered and more comfortable, increasing anybody’s potential interest in your home.  Speaking of decluttering, this is a good time to mention that when it comes to home value, less is more.  Clear off your counters, organize your desk, straighten up any bookshelves, and round up any kids’ or pets’ toys.  It’s all about making space, space and more space.

Higher Budgets:

Rugs or carpets with old patterns that have gone out of style can decrease the perceived home value.  Really, most experts will tell you that any carpet is a no-go.  These days, most buyers want to see hardwood floors.  For a slightly cheaper version, buy those snap-together laminate floor that mimics hardwood.  It gets the carpet up and is better than nothing.

For lucky ones that already have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them to create the same effect as installing new.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to redo your bathroom floors, tile will always be in demand.

Create space by knocking out non-structural walls and removing kitchen islands (if you already have enough cabinet space).  You want to create a sense of flow in the house.  If it’s not already open-concept, get it as close as possible.

Lastly, consider turning your home into a ‘green’ house by making everything as energy-efficient as possible.  This isn’t just about home value – these changes can also save you money on your utility bills.  Switching to energy-efficient windows can save an estimated $500 a year in heating and cooling costs.  Energy-efficient insulation can also be keeping an extra $2500 or more each year in your pocket.  You should also go around a seal any cracks, preventing air loss and those ‘cold spots’ you may feel from time to time.

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Every Picture Tells a Story: The Importance of Photography When Selling

They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and when you’re selling your home, that truth will make the difference between a quick sale and another home sitting on the market for longer than it should.  The lasting impression a good photo leaves on your potential buyer is one of the most effective ways to convey value and desirability.

With 80% of buyers starting their house hunt online, it’s more important than ever to make sure you present your property in its best light.

One of our agents had TWO photographers go through the SAME property (24 hours apart). One was Donna Beckman, our Virtual Tour/IGuide expert, the other one was a popular local photographer.

None of the photos were edited by our office, each are how they appeared when they arrived. 

Donna Beckman Real Estate Virtual Tour:IGuide expert

According to Realtor.com, a company working closely with real estate agents in the U.S. did a study and found that homes featuring professional photography sold 50% faster and were viewed 118% more than comparable listings without professional photos.

If hiring a professional photographer is not in your budget, keep these tips in mind.

Before you photograph:

  • Use the correct equipment
    • A digital SLR provides you with settings and lenses
      • Take your camera off AUTO, learn to use the other settings and shutter speeds
      • Invest in different lenses, including a wide-angle
      • Invest in professional lighting including off-camera flash
    • A tripod
  • Prepare the house
    • Otherwise known as “Staging”, make sure the home is clutter-free and clean.

While you photograph:

  • Use as much natural light as possible
    • Open the curtains and turn on all the lights. Don’t rely on the built-in flash, it can often cast unwanted shadows and reflections off glass surfaces.
  • Choose the best angles and compositions
    • Check your verticals! a photo that is slightly off-kilter could cause people to wonder what’s wrong with the space. Never shoot from chest height or above, unless you’re 5’4″ or under. When taking the photo, fill the image with the contents, watch out for photos with too much dead space.

 

After you photograph:

  • Edit your photos
    • Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Picmonkey, and Ribbet are a few photo editing software or online options available.

If that seems like too much work for yourself to have to worry about, check out your local listings for a professional photographer who is experienced in architecture / real estate photography. If you’re in southwestern Ontario, we highly recommend Donna Beckman from Homeplan Virtual Tours.

Congratulations to the 2015 Top Award Winners!

As we finalize the numbers from 2015, it is evident the hard work, dedication and commitment from you, your office staff and your Associates contributed to yet another banner year for RE/MAX INTEGRA! We would like to take this opportunity and congratulate the 2015 Top Award Winners.

RE/MAX continues to lead the industry in market share, agent productivity and international expansion thanks to people like your Associates. To help shine a spotlight on the Top Producers, we have placed a four page pull-out ad in the April edition of REM featuring the Top 10 Individuals, Top 10 Team Leaders, Top 3 ICI in Ontario, Top 1 ICI in Atlantic Canada, Circle of Legends, and Diamond Club. We will be recognizing and celebrating the Top 30 Under 30* in a separate ad, which celebrates the next generation of REALTORS are proving to make their mark on our industry.

The REM ad ** will hit streets on March 18. Please ensure you grab a copy and congratulate your respective winners. More on where to download this ad will appear in the April newsletters that will hit inboxes across the region on April 7th.

Congratulations to all and here’s to a very successful 2016!

REMAX TOP AGENTS 2015

2015 TOP AGENTS

2015 TOP

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We want to give a huge RE/MAX shout out to the following RE/MAX Real Estate Centre top producers for 2015!

Diamond Club Recipients: 

  • Parveen Arora
  • Steve Bailey
  • Jerry Gould
  • Mike Krause
  • Isabel Pinheiro
  • Mary Wylde
  • Mustafa Zia

Top 30 Under 30 Recipients:

  • Mustafa Zia
  • Mani Batoo
  • Emily Rawson
  • Jennifer Ziegler
  • Kyle Landry

Congratulations! We are so proud of our team!

p.s. We love the little kiss on Jerry’s cheek. 🙂

Shout Out to our 2014 Top Producers

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We want to give a huge RE/MAX shout out to the following RE/MAX Real Estate Centre top producers for 2014:

Parveen Arora – Diamond Club Award
Steve Bailey – Diamond Club Award
Cindy DaCosta – Diamond Club Award
Mike Krause – Diamond Club Award
Cliff Rego – Diamond Club Award
Mary Wylde – Diamond Club Award
Mustafa Zia – Diamond Club Award
Cliff Rego – #8 (Top 10 Team Commission Award)
Mani Batoo – Top 30 Under 30
Emily Rawson – Top 30 Under 30
Alex Rundle – Top 30 Under 30
Mustafa Zia – Top 30 Under 30

Congratulations! We are so proud of our team!

Infographic – 20 Ways to Add Curb Appeal to your Home

You know what they say about first impressions! Certainly, when selling your home, you need to make sure that the outside looks inviting or prospective buyers might just drive on by without even stopping to take a walk through. Even if you aren’t selling your home, we all want our homes to look great inside AND out. Some of the issues preventing us from having homes with beautiful curb appeal are glaring and obvious but it’s easy to overlook others – especially when our homes are something we look at every day.

Think about your roof, chimney, gutters, windows and trim. What does your driveway look like? How about your front door? Perhaps you need a new paint job, a few simple repairs, or maybe some landscaping. If you’re selling your home, your real estate agent can be a valuable source of advice on how to make your home look as appealing as possible from the first moment a prospective buyer sees it.

This infographic courtesy of Build Direct will get the ball rolling with 20 good ideas for improving the curb appeal of your home.

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Using Facebook Pages for Real Estate

It’s no mystery that Facebook is a powerhouse of marketing for businesses of all kinds, but for real estate advertising it offers a really incredible tool. It’s a great way to publicize yourself as an agent, particular properties in specific areas, and to reach customers and clientele right where they live.

More than ever before, you can get in touch with interested parties in a fast and personal way. Gone are the days when you made connections through conventions and business card trading. Now, when someone asks about a listing on your Facebook page, you’re able to get in touch much faster and more reliably than ever before.

When clients have a good experience with you, they’re able to recommend your page to their network much easier. As you know, word of mouth is extremely important to the real estate business, and Facebook (as well as other social media) makes that so much quicker and more effective. People are able to ask questions as they think of them, and get in touch directly at any time of day.

One method of getting your content seen through Facebook is to pay for advertising. This gives you an idea of the impressions that your content has made, as well as how many times that it inspired your audience to take action. With Facebook ads, you are able to target a specific audience with demographics of your choosing, making it easy to customize your content for specific people. This is great because it means that you’re not spending money broadcasting to people who are not in your are, or in the housing market.

Facebook is one of the most-used networks available today, with a seemingly limitless supply of potential clients. Taking the time to educate your clientele, advertise your properties and engage your readers is an excellent way to make your next sale.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Real Estate Agent

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When hiring a real estate agent, it’s important that you find someone that you can work well with over a period of time, someone with great credentials and someone that you’ll be able to trust. Hiring an agent is about more than their numbers, but rather the satisfaction of past customers. Here are some tried and tested ways to get the most out of your real estate agent.

Ask Questions
When you’re hiring a real estate agent, you’ll want to dig a little deeper.  Sure, the prospective agent might have impressive listings under their belt, but find out how long each of those listings stayed on the market and you’ll have a better idea of customer satisfaction.

Avoid Pocket Listing
Pocket listing is a tactic employed by many real estate agents which allows a seller to ask a higher price, but it only exposes your listing to a very limited buyer pool. If a pocket listing is suggested, it’s best to avoid this.

Be Realistic
All homeowners want more than their home is probably worth, and all homebuyers want to pay less wherever possible. It’s easier for your real estate agent to do his/her job when you are realistic about the market and value of your home or prospective home. When you think your asking price is set in stone, your home will be on the market longer.

Find an Agent Privy to Your Neighbourhood
Has your real estate agent got any experience with the neighbourhood that you’re looking at? If not, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Experience is an important part of buying or selling a home, and neighbourhoods vary greatly.

Study The Market
Yes, you’re hiring someone so that you don’t have to do the dirty work, but it’s still advisable to be familiar with the market. Otherwise how will you know whether or not you’re getting what you should be? Pay attention to houses in your desired area to see what the going rate tends to be and you’ll have a better idea of what you should hold out for.