Monday, May 9, 2011

Home Sellers: A Deck May Make the Difference

With spring in the air, the exterior of a home becomes even more important when putting your house on the market because buyers now will spend more time outside looking at your property and envisioning what their summer barbeques and family playtime will look like.

The addition of any amount of usable real estate to a property increases value. Customized decks and personalized outdoor living areas are a hot trend in home improvement upgrades, and a great-looking deck may entice more people to come see your home.

Building or updating an existing deck isn’t simply a great investment; it also provides opportunities to personalize your backyard and customize the look to your taste. And with many families staying home this summer to save money, why not think about creating the perfect location for entertaining?

Deck experts agree that multi-level decks are the most popular now. These are a series of decks connected by stairways or walkways, which are aesthetically pleasing and can be used for different purposes. One level can be used to catch the sun, one level can be positioned for shade and another can be set close to the house for entertaining and barbequing.

Wood decks have always been the most popular, but caring for them is tough. They will rot over time, are subject to insect infestation and require a great deal of maintenance to keep the wood from fading. Accordingly, people are embracing composite materials for their decks, which cost significantly more but will last longer with less maintenance.

For those homes that already have a deck, it’s important to make sure that it’s still in good shape and adds to the attractiveness of a property. You can change your deck’s appearance with interesting balusters to match other decorative accents on your house or in your yard and really add unique touches to make the deck a personal haven. Meanwhile, railings offer a good opportunity to pull in color and ornamental detail that complements the house.

By designing your deck with accents, lights and unique accessories, you can transform your backyard into an outdoor retreat one will never want to leave. Whether you’re catching up with friends over a grilled dinner in the evening or are curled up with a book in a lounge chair on a sunny afternoon, a deck is the perfect place to be.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eleven Reasons to Use a Real Estate Sales Professional When Buying a Brand-New Home

Existing and potential homeowners are looking at real estate from all angles as the U.S. economy and local housing markets continue their recovery. For many, there is strong appeal in buying brand-new homes as myriad builder incentives and low interest rates create significant value.

Today’s new homes boast exciting floor plans and designs tailored for specific lifestyles, complete with a huge array of features and appointments. They include energy efficient products and building techniques, reducing buyers’ utility bills. Of course, new-home consumers love that their properties, from roofs to appliances, will not need replacement for many years.

It might not seem necessary to involve a real estate professional in a transaction where a buyer can deal directly with a builder. Yet by using a real estate professional you gain a skilled professional to protect your interests and guide you along the right path.

Here are 11 advantages to using a real estate professional when buying a newly constructed home.

1. Just as a real estate professional calls on experience and knowledge of an area to help buyers locate pre-owned homes in a community, he or she can also direct buyers interested in newly built homes to developments and communities that match client specifications.

2. A sales professional can suggest builders with reputations for delivering a high-quality product, responding quickly to issues, and being financially sound.

3. A sales professional may be familiar with how a builder prices his products and where there may be room to negotiate price or upgrades.

4. Without representation, you are one buyer purchasing only one home. But a sales professional can significantly impact a builder’s bottom line by providing a steady supply of customers. This leverage may work in your favor at the negotiating table. [Note: The builder may require your sales professional to accompany you on your first visit to the site. Check with the builder.]

5. The lender approval process may go smoother if a sales professional schedules visits, accompanies you to lenders, and helps expedite required documents.

6. What may seem like a simple transaction can grow legally complex and risky. A sales professional is familiar with those complexities and risks inherent in the homebuying process. When such questions arise, we can steer you to the right advisors and services you may require.

7. If your contract includes a contingency to sell an existing home your real estate sales professional assuredly can help, though your sales professional will explain that buying before selling isn’t always in your best interest as it can undermine your bargaining.

8. When relocating to a new area, sales professionals can be particularly valuable resources. In addition to providing local area information regarding schools, day care or elder care services, public transportation, proposed development, and so on, once construction is under way, they can periodically stop by the work site, supply you with progress reports, and photograph or videotape phases of the construction.

9. A sales professional can assist you as you face hundreds of design choices and consider which upgrades could potentially add value to the home when it comes time to sell.

10. A sales professional can accompany you at the site while you okay the plumbing and electrical locations prior to dry walling, as well as on the walk-through or builder orientation.

11. Lastly, most often the builder pays the sales professional’s commission. You enjoy individual attention and support at no cost to you.

Builder incentives and heightened affordability have many real estate consumers considering brand-new homes. Rather than rely on builders’ agents – who are paid by the builders – savvy shoppers are hiring real estate sales professionals to help them through the buying process and on to the American dream.