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Home Search Checklist

by Joe Klarman

It goes without saying that a home is the biggest investment that you will ever make. It will, therefore, be well worth your time to consider what you want in a home and develop a system to evaluate the properties you visit. A home buyers' check list is a good way to stream line your evaluation process. As you visit a property you can go over your check list and score each of the features that are most important to you. Later on, after visiting several properties, you can look over your home buyers' check lists to see which homes scored the highest. The home buyers' checklist can be a great way to organize your notes during the home searching process.

You should start out by considering what features are most important to you. For example, if you have children or are planning to have children, then number of bedrooms, neighborhood, and schools may all be important to you in your home search. If you are single, then you may be more interested in local atmosphere, restaurants and entertainment venues and proximity to your job. Because a house is such a big investment, it's a good idea to think big picture and long term.

There are also features that, in the excitement of finding a home that suits you, may be overlooked. This includes things like the age and condition of the roof and the furnace. Is the basement damp? How sound do the electrical outlets appear? What about the plumbing? Emotions can run high when considering what your life will look like in a particular home or how you might change layout or décor. Having a check list will help to remind you to look at the practical items that can be as important as your wish list when searching for a new home.

Where does one find a home buyer's checklist? You can easily create your own check list using spread sheet software. It is a good idea however to create your list several days or even a couple of weeks in advance so that you can adjust your check list as ideas come to you.

If you would rather have a ready-made check list, a quick web search can help. HUD has a thorough checklist. Other websites such as Angieslist.com can offer lots of great advice about what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a home.

Your home will be the base from which you operate, a place of solace and comfort where you can get away from the world and the place you invite friends. It is also a large investment that you are not likely to make every year or two. Take the time now to organize yourself so that you can make as thoughtful and informed a decision as possible. You will be glad you did.

Best Home Improvements for the Money

by Joe Klarman

Upgrading your home can be tricky. Some home improvements are expensive not just in terms of cost, but whether you will recoup your investment. Here are a few home improvements that improve your home and be a great investment.

Landscape Makeover

Landscaping is an inexpensive way to increase your home's value. Adding a new walkway or planting some colorful flowers is simple and easy. It shows your community that you take pride in your home, and makes it stand out. You can find plants for free just by checking the classifieds; many of your neighbors are trying to get rid of plants without throwing them away. Another easy way to dramatically improve the appearance of your yard is to keep it edged. Clean lines always look great,

Add Insulation

30 percent of the warm air your furnace produces escapes because of subpar insulation in your attic. This is an easy project that should not take longer than a weekend. Insulation is inexpensive, and it is easy to add to your attic. While you are at it add caulking around doors and windows. This will immediately save you money and upgrade your home's energy efficiency.

Upgrade Your Plumbing

Appraisers take a home's plumbing very seriously when assessing a home's value. If your old iron pipes are rusting consider replacing them. In the past, this was a messy undertaking; walls torn down and dust flying throughout a house. Current replacement piping is now made from PEX which is basically plastic tubing. This tubing is reliable and easily installed without a great deal of mess.

No one will invest in a property that has less than desirable plumbing. Many new homeowner's nightmares involve expensive work being done on their new homes plumbing. The cost of upgrading your home's plumbing is less than you think. This is a great investment.

Redecorate Your Bathroom

New fixtures and a paint job will instantly turn a drab bathroom into a stylish room. Details like a new mirror or adding crown molding will stylishly update the look of your bathroom without costing an arm and a leg. Light fixtures are an easy update that can transform the look of your bathroom.

Kitchen Improvements

The smartest investment in your home is to redecorate your kitchen. Home buyers always gravitate to the kitchen first when viewing a house for sale. Besides new appliances concentrate on the flow of your kitchen. Make sure the stove is close to the sink and that there is room to move easily around the room. Spend money on the layout of your kitchen; it is the best investment you can make in your home.

Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal

by Joe Klarman

Poor curb appeal deters potential buyers and reduces the asking price of your property. Though many of the changes are merely cosmetic, they catch a buyer's eye and adds to the perceived value of your home. Try these five simple upgrades and you'll see not only an increase in the number of people who want to see the property, but an increase in what they are willing to pay.

  1. Make The Home Stand Out: There are two things that people notice when they pull up to the curb in front of your house: the mailbox and the house numbers. If your mailbox is freestanding on the side of the road, the elements dull the paint and make it look old after only a couple of years. A new mailbox costs less than $100, and takes less than an hour to install. New house numbers allow people to more easily identify the home, and gives it a modern appearance.
  2. Add Some Life: Plants add a sense of comfort and style to the exterior of the home, and make it feel liveable. You don't have to spend a fortune to add plants and increase the home's curb appeal. Window boxes are ideal for colorful flower displays, while the front stoop is a great place to add some medium sized potted plants.
  3. Pay Attention To The Door: As the gateway to the home, the door serves as the focal point for the front of the house. Over time the door gets scratched and the paint chips, leaving it looking less than ideal. Spruce up the front door with a coat of paint or a refinish, and complete the job by making the door glass shine.
  4. Give The Exterior A Facelift: Though painting the entire exterior of your home would be expensive, it generally costs less than $100 to update the trim and shutters. A fresh coat of paint makes these exterior accents pop, so even a home that's decades old looks like new.
  5. Don't Discount A Trim: Don't let a poorly maintained lawn undermine all of your other efforts to upgrade the home's curb appeal. High grass and unkempt trees give a home a rundown appearance, often making it look abandoned. This step is especially important if you plan to live in another location while you wait for the home to sell. You'll need to trim bushes and trees so nothing touches the home's exterior, while you keep the grass around two inches high.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you can't afford a poor impression when you try to sell your home. A little bit of effort goes a long way when you want to increase your home's curb appeal, but the returns you get are worth thousands of dollars.

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Russell Jones Real Estate
536 Broadway East
Seattle WA 98102
Office: (206)323-0800
Direct: (206)683-5639
Fax: (206)323-9275