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Selling Tips

Clear the Clutter to Boost Home Sale Appeal

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Need advice for a winning edge in selling your home? Ensure your home stands out by highlighting its best features and eliminating items that prevent a potential buyer from picturing themselves living in the house. Collaborate Design Studios offers some tips to help homeowners sell in todays challenging real estate market.

No doubt one of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is not being objective about how their house looks to a possible buyer, said Kim Pozzi-Pesavento, senior designer at Collaborate Design Studio, based in Deerfield, Ill. Too often, homeowners think their personal touches and decorating styles add value and visual appeal to the house. Most of the time just the opposite is true because too much personality in a home design might be fine for you but it makes it difficult for anyone to visualize your house as their future home. Pozzi-Pesavento believes sellers who successfully market their homes in a buyers market usually follow a few simple, proven rules. First, clear the clutter, she said. Your home should look like someone could move in tomorrow. Toys on the floor, for example, might convey a homey family image, but they are a distraction, as are too many family photos and other personal stuff.

Other timely tips offered by Collaborate Design Studio to home sellers today are:

- Neutralize rooms to broaden your market. You limit your market when there are too many taste-specific colors. Someone who hates deep blue, for example, wont be able to look past it when evaluating your home, Pozzi-Pesavento said.

- Clear excess furniture. The rule for furnishings is, less is better. In addition to making a room look more spacious, removing excess furniture also lets the buyer better determine how they can furnish or use the room to accommodate their lifestyle preferences.

- Keep the home well-maintained. Shaggy shrubbery, overgrown foliage and peeling paint take away from the buyers critical first impression. You dont need to spend a lot to keep your property in top shape for maximum curb appeal.

Some other advice based on our personal experiences: -Bring ina professional. Interior designers or professional staging companies are a great option. They come in with a detached perspective and have no sentimentality about that ugly old chair that you just love, or the Velvet Elvis tapestry that youve had since college. They are only interested in helping you make your property look its best, which in the end is the goal.

- Dress up a vacant property. If the home is vacant, consider virtual staging. So much of the home buying process is done electronically that curb appeal really starts with the listing photos. It is amazing what can be done to make a vacant property look much more appealing, for a very reasonable price.

- Clean, clean, clean. Few things are more off-putting to buyers than going into a property that isnt clean. Many cleaning services will come in and do a one-off clean before an open house or a listing appointment. Theyll get to those spots that you never seem to get to, or that you have looked at for such a long time that you just dont notice anymore.

For more suggestions and ideas, or to discuss a plan for selling your property, please contact a Bostonia Properties representative.

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7 Tips for Staging Your Home

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7 Tips for Staging Your Home Article From BuyAndSell.HouseLogic.com

By: G. M. Filisko

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home's value and speed up the sale process.

The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable. The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable.

1. Start with a clean slate. Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/) right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.

2. Stow away your clutter. (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/) It's harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they're looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don't make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of Staged Homes in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.

3. Scale back on your furniture. When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.

4. Rethink your furniture placement. Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.

5. Add color to brighten your rooms. (http://www.houselogic.com/photos/painting/home-color-ideas/slide/plenty-of-upside/) Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.

6. Set the scene. Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home - such as a chess game in progress - to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/pet-odor-can-chase-away-buyers/), clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.

7. Make the entrance grand. Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don't surround your home's entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS."

More from HouseLogic Spring Cleaning Guide (http://www.houselogic.com/guide/spring-cleaning-101/) 11 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance for Under $100 (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-improvement/front-door-entry-ideas/) Fragrant Plants that Will Keep Your Home Smelling Good (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/air-quality/fragrant-plants-will-keep-your-home-smelling-good/)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who occasionally rearranges her furniture to find the best placement-and keep her dog on his toes. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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Common Myths about Appraisals in the Home-Buying Process

177533559 APPRAISAL With high demand, low supply, and real estate prices increasing in Boston, it is important for buyers and sellers to understand the role the appraiser plays in the transaction. Although generally paid by the buyer, the appraiser actually works for the lender. Their duty is to act as an objective third party to the transaction, and offer an unbiased opinion of value based on market conditions. The lender then uses their opinion of value as a factor in whether or not they will lend on the property. In order to come to an opinion of value, the appraiser generally will consider three approaches to value, and then decide which approach is most applicable. The three approaches are the cost, income and market approaches. The cost approach entails adding the value of the land to the cost of the improvements (i.e. the house) to come up with a value. The income approach is often favored for investment properties and takes into consideration the potential income stream that the property could generate. The sales comparison approach takes into consideration comparable sold, pending and active properties, and compares them to the subject property. Adjustments are made to the value of the properties based on whether or not they are superior or inferior, with the appraiser eventually coming up with an opinion of value. There is a good deal of subjectivity in all the methods, which is why knowledge of the market and the area are so important for an appraiser. Not understanding the different values between neighborhoods, or even streets, can have a devastating effect on a transaction.

As the market continues to improve, offers above the asking price of properties are again becoming more common. As a result, the potential for differences of opinion between buyers, sellers and appraisers is a very real possibility. In order to address some of the questions and misperceptions about the appraisal process, the Appraisal Foundation, a non-profit group operating with the goal of advancing professional valuation, drafted a short article addressing some common myths about Appraisals.

Common Myths about Appraisals in the Home-Buying Process By David S. Bunton

At The Appraisal Foundation, we often encounter misperceptions about the appraisal process in real estate transactions from how an appraisal is ordered and carried out, to the type of communication permitted with appraisers. As a result, we have compiled the most common myths that we hear from lenders, borrowers, real estate brokers, and homebuilders.

Whether youre a first-time homebuyer or a real estate professional with years of experience, you may be surprised.

Lenders:

Myth: A lender and an appraiser cannot communicate before, during, or after an appraisal is complete. Fact: Not only are lenders permitted to talk to appraisers, they must. Communication is essential for the exchange of appropriate information, including the intended use of the appraisal, the scope of the work necessary for credible assignment results, and more.

Myth: Nothing can be done if a lender has concerns or questions regarding a completed appraisal. Fact: If there are questions or concerns with an appraisal, there are concrete steps lenders can take, like submit additional comps for the appraiser to consider, request the appraiser correct errors in the appraisal report, and ask the appraiser to provide further detail to explain his/her conclusion.

Myth: Lenders must use an Appraisal Management Company (AMC) to order an appraisal. Fact: Lenders are entitled to engage an appraiser directly. However, to avoid any potential undue influence on the appraiser, certain safeguards are required (e.g. in most cases the person at the lending institution selecting the appraiser cannot be the same person approving the loan).

Myth: AMCs are necessary to ensure that appraisers arent influenced by lenders. Fact: Regardless of whether an AMC is used, lenders are not permitted to influence the value of a home, and licensed and certified appraisers are required by law to follow strict guidelines (i.e. the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) that guarantee an unbiased and meaningful analysis of value.

Borrowers:

Myth: An appraiser is hired by the borrower. Fact: Even though the borrower may be responsible for the cost of an appraisal, appraisers are hired by lenders. Appraisers provide an analysis of the collateral, so that lenders understand the value of a property when making the loan decision.

Myth: The money put into a home translates dollar-for-dollar into a higher appraisal. Fact: The cost put into a home improvement project may very well add value to a home; however, the value of any improvements are based on what the market is willing to pay for them, and may not necessarily correlate to the cost. Not all renovations positively impact property values.

Myth: Appraisers set the value of a home. Fact: Appraisers dont set the value of a home, nor do they confirm a homes sale price. Their role is to produce a credible opinion of value which reflects the current market.

Myth: Appraisers and home inspectors perform the same function. Fact: Though both provide crucial information, their roles are very different. An appraiser provides an objective, unbiased analysis so the lender can better understand the value of a property. An inspector is typically hired by the borrower and performs an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house to ensure the structural integrity of the property.

Real Estate Brokers:

Myth: Real estate brokers are prohibited from communicating with appraisers. Fact: Brokers are permitted to communicate with an appraiser and to provide them with additional information as long as the communication is not intended to unduly influence the outcome of the appraisal. The exchange of relevant information- including terms of the sale, relevant comps, and home improvements-can help an appraiser develop a more credible opinion of value.

Myth: Nothing can be done if a broker has concerns or questions regarding a completed appraisal. Fact: If there are questions or concerns with an appraisal, there are concrete steps brokers can take through the lender, like submit additional comps for the appraiser to consider, request the appraiser correct errors in the appraisal report, and ask the appraiser to provide further detail to explain his/her conclusion.

Myth: Appraisers request copies of the purchase agreement from brokers simply so theyll know how much to appraise the home for. Fact: Appraisers are required to review the purchase agreement (if available during the ordinary course of business) to fully understand the terms of the transaction. Appraisers dont simply look at a pending sale price and try to justify the transaction. The perform research and analysis to provide their own opinion of value.

Homebuilders:

Myth: Homebuilders are prohibited from communicating with appraisers. Fact: Builders are permitted to communicate with an appraiser and to provide them with additional information as long as the communication is not intended to unduly influence the outcome of the appraisal. The exchange of relevant information- including construction features, details, and upgrades, as well as relevant comps-can help an appraiser develop a more credible opinion of value.

Myths: Nothing can be done if a builder has concerns or questions regarding a completed appraisal. Fact: If there are questions or concerns with an appraisal, there are concrete steps builders can take through the lender, like submit additional comps for the appraiser to consider, request the appraiser correct errors in the apraisal report, and ask the appraiser to provide further detail to explain his/her conclusion.

Myth: Appraisers only rely on comparable sales and do not take into account the cost to build a home. Fact: Appraisers do need to consider the cost to build a home and, at times, must perform a cost approach to deliver a credible appraisal. However, because cost does not always equal value, appraisers cannot simply look at what it costs to build a home to provide an opinion of value. They must perform research and analysis to determine what the marketplace is willing to pay.

David S. Bunton is the President of The Appraisal Foundation.

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Sustainability and Functionality Key D�cor Trends in 2015

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If you are considering selling a property in 2015, whether it isa primary residence or an investment property, it is a good idea to start thinking aheadto whatleading designers are forecasting for the coming year. Dcor trends in 2015 favor functionality, with designers turning to self-renewing materials that are both stylish and environmentally friendly. Looking towards the new year, celebrity designer Vern Yip lists these six trends to watch.

1. View the floor as an extension of the living space. Opt for materials that are both stylish and comfortable, such as cork flooring. Warm, soft on the feet and eco-friendly, cork's natural ability to insulate against heat, cold, noise and vibration make it an ideal choice for "on-the-floor living.

2. In open concept homes, mix and match old with new, high with low or light with dark. Using timeless and resilient materials, or those that can be used and reused, allows homeowners to be eclectic and bold.

3. Geometrical and angular designs are making a comeback. Think of zigzag, herringbone or chevron patterns to bring mid century flair back into your home.

4. Living outdoors is a great way of maximizing living space. Make it cozy with pillow, tiki lights or a bonfire pit. In cold temperatures, use heat lamps positioned around the border of the patio.

5. Look at the floor, which is a home's largest surface area, as a canvas. It offers ample opportunities to add visual interest and achieve a unique look. Think about combining textures and colors. Create a pattern of alternating colors and grains.

6. Break away from a sea of neutrals. Replace old pillow covers, throws or lampshades to reflect the hues and tones of the season. Or, create an accent wall with a printed wallpaper or painted design. Do keep your larger items white or neutral, so that you can easily mix and match seasonal colors with permanent pieces.

"The variety of stylish product choices available to today's environmentally-conscious consumers is remarkable," says Yip. He points to the many color choices of no-VOC* paint, new agave plant and sisal fiber area rugs as great examples of the intersection between style, functionality and environmental responsibility.

*VOCvolatile organic compounds chemicals given off by paints that have been linked to respiratory illnesses

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