Damp Basement Diagnosis

There is nothing worse in a home than a wet basement. Not only can it deter potential home buyers it can also present health problems, and permanent damage to your home. Tackling the problem of a damp or wet basement is no easy task. Here are some ideas to getting and keeping your basement dry.

Find the source

The source of the problem could be a water leak or high humidity. Both can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. They can even lead to rot, structural damage, premature paint failure, and a variety of health problems.

Check for water seepage. Look for leaks in the foundation, or small gaps around windows or doors. Water can also come from inside your house from a leaking water pipe, toilet, shower or bathtub.
Indoor humidity is often caused by normal activities of everyday living, such as showering, cooking, and drying clothes. Damp basements are usually caused by moisture migrating through a concrete foundation. Other common causes are condensation on cold concrete walls and floors during humid months.

Stop water leaks

Standing water on the floor after a heavy rain is usually the result of a leaky foundation.

Make sure all rain gutters are cleared and downspout runoff away from the foundation.

The ground around the house should slope down and away from the foundation. If necessary, re-grade around the house.

If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working properly.

Water stains on the ceiling or wall under or near a bathroom could be a leak from a water pipe, toilet, bathtub or shower. This will require a plumber to repair the leak.

Water damage or mold should be handled by a contractor who specializes in mold remediation and water damage repairs.

Reducing indoor humidity

Dirt floors in the basement should be covered completely with plastic to slow down water vapor coming through the soil.

Install ventilation fans in kitchens and baths to control moisture.
Make sure they are venting directly outside.

Clothes dryer should be vented directly to the outside. Consult the Consumer Products Safety Commission additional safety tips for dryer vents .
Check the heating and cooling system to make sure it is sized and operating properly to remove humidity.

Have all duct air leaks sealed.

Use a dehumidifier in the basement can reduce condensation.

A dry basement will not only lead to a healthier home it will lead to a more profitable sale when the time comes.

Cheap Fixes to Add Value to Your Home

Are you looking for inexpensive ways to add value to your home without breaking the bank? Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or just making some home improvements for your own enjoyment, it isn’t that difficult. There is an old saying that kitchens and baths sell homes so these tips focus on those two rooms.

Here are some good strategies to help you started:

The kitchen

For just a few hundred dollars:

-Replace the kitchen faucet

-Add new cabinet door handles

-Update old lighting fixtures

 

With a slightly larger budget:

-Give the cabinets a makeover by refacing them

-Get a facelift for your appliances buy ordering new doors or face panels for them

 

The bath

-Replace the toilet seat

-Add a new pedestal sink

-Replace the old bathroom floor with easy-to-apply vinyl tiles

-Re-grout the tile and replace any chipped tiles in the tub and shower

-If a new grout job won’t do, try a complete cover-up with a prefabricated tub and shower unit

Remember the actual cost of the renovation, and the value it adds to your home, depends on many factors including the real estate market value in your area.

What Buyers Want in a Home

What do buyers want in a home? Is it location? Is it size? Could it be an endless list of amenities ? According to a survey done by The National Association of Homebuilders, they want all of the above.

According to the survey, buyers say they want a home that is approximately 2,000 square feet. Unfortunately, only one-third of the current homes on the market have 2,000 or more square feet of livable space. Most homes are nearly 40 years old and don’t have many of the amenities buyers want.

So what is a seller to do? If your home is smaller than what most buyers want, play up on your homes good points. Here are some other features buyers want that could help overcome the objection to the homes smaller square footage.

Location: Buyers may consider a smaller home if it’s located in the best school district or in a great commuter location.

Possibilities: A smaller home may have potential for expansion, making the home suddenly more appealing.

Great space: The home may not have the square footage buyers want, so show off the space it does have. Remove any furniture that doesn’t complement the home, making the home seem spacious and uncluttered.

If your home is smaller than what many buyers want, emphasize the amenities that it does have. Help buyers see the potential in your home. Don’t let them rule it out just because its current condition doesn’t meet all of their needs.

 

 

Staging Your Home

When selling your home, you want it to appeal to a wide variety of people, not showcase your personality or preferences. While you might love deep red walls in your dining room, it might be too bold for a potential buyer. Your goal is to sell your home and having the right buyer appeal is key. There are a few things to think of when staging your home.

Paint color is a must unless you already use neutral colors in your home. When looking for paint colors think of beige, olives, yellows, tans and greys. Outdated wallpaper patterns are a big no-no. Not only will an outdated look not be appealing to a buyer but the thought of having to take it down after buying the home can be a negative to a buyer. Taking down the wallpaper, fixing any imperfections in the walls with spackle and sanding, and applying a new coat of paint will go a long way. Choosing a paint with a low sheen will help hide any imperfections that may still remain.

De-cluttering your home will give it a clean, organized look that will appeal to a buyer. Minimal items should remain in your home and going through your space to take out anything you don’t need and sending it to storage is ideal. Think about your furniture as well, since often too much furniture can cause spaces to look small. In addition, by pulling furniture away from the walls and placing them in conversational groups, you add space to a room.

Having the right decorative items can help to create an inviting space. Rather than having items lined up, trying grouping different items together, like on the coffee table. Hang pictures and art work in groups as well, avoiding a traditional straight line on the wall. Make sure that you have things such as decorative towels and soaps in the bathroom to help set the scene. Adding the right lighting can help set a welcoming mood. Make sure you have a variety of lighting in each space, from table lamps, to accent lighting, and whole room lighting.

Basically, when staging your home, you want to make it a place that someone would want to live. Little touches here and there can really make a difference. With a little investment you will attract the right buyer .

How to Spruce up Your Home: Prepping for sale

If you’re going to be putting your house on the market, you want it to be in the best condition possible for when prospective buyers come and look at it. A little sprucing up can add a lot of curb appeal and increase the chances of selling your home as soon as possible.

Make Over Kitchen Cabinets

An older, out of date kitchen can be given a face lift with the addition of some paint and new cabinet doors. The doors on the kitchen cabinets can make or break the way a kitchen looks. If you don’t have the funds to buy new cabinet doors, consider painting the cabinets. Avoid any type of wild paint, sticking instead to solid colors or the tried and true basic white. Add interesting touches like removing one cabinet door and paint the inside of the cabinet and shelves a different color. You can keep it open, or add a glass door. Adding some new knobs and handles will improve the look even more. You can go basic, or get really fancy with some high-end hardware, depending on the style of your home.

Give the Entrance a Makeover

Brighten the entrance to your home by painting the door. Choose an accent color from the rest of the front of the house. Add brand new hardware for a totally new, finished look. Place potted plants on either side of the door, or if you have wide steps, place them on the steps. Paint railings with fresh paint, being sure to scrape off the old paint first. Place solar lights along your walkway to add even more brightness. Replacing your mail box will also add character and instant curb appeal to your home. Be sure your house number can be seen from the road by placing large numbers on both your mail box and the house.

Organize Closets

People, especially women, always take closet space into consideration when looking for a house to buy. Purchase closet organizers and have them installed, or install them yourself. Then organize those closets and get rid of everything you don’t actually use. This will make your closets seem much larger and add so much more storage space by utilizing empty spaces in the closets. Alternately, if you have two closets in one bedroom, take the doors off one closet and turn that one into an office. There are “office in a closet” kits that come with shelves, and a deeper shelf to use as a desk. Add a desk chair, a computer and place a few books on the shelves and it looks like you have a home office, virtually creating a whole new room within a room.

 

 

Looking to Tackle a Project: Home Remodels to Avoid

If you are looking for ways to increase the value of your home, then there are some simple guidelines to follow, as well as a few projects you may want to consider avoiding altogether.  Depending on the region, a particular home remodel has the potential to make or break a potential sale.

Swimming Pools – Homes with swimming pools generally do better in the warmer states, where they can be seen as a welcome addition during the hottest months.  However, a home in New England that has a pool is increasingly likely to be viewed as a headache.  Maintenance costs, family safety, and seasonal accessibility make this addition one that is in reality more likely to hurt the chances of being able to sell your home quickly.  Not to say that you shouldn’t have a pool if you have your heart set on it.  Just don’t count on it making your house more appealing.  If you already have a pool, then try to sell your home in the spring or summer, when the pool is in use.  This will help potential buyers see the benefit of the addition, without reminding them of the headaches associated with upkeep.

Koi ponds and indoor aquariums – These items, while beloved to a homeowner, may turn off a buyer who isn’t interested in being a pet owner.  There aren’t a lot of uses for an aquarium installed in a wall for someone who doesn’t like the idea of having fish.  Similarly, koi ponds on the property have the capability of turning off an owner that doesn’t necessarily want to have a portion of their backyard dedicated to a project that they have no interest in taking over.

Converting garages and second bedrooms – While these renovations generally arise from necessity, they can hurt your resale value in the future.  Garage space is fairly desirable these days, and especially so in cold climates that deal with large amount of snow.  Converting a garage in New England isn’t generally a good idea unless you absolutely need the space.  This is also true in the cases of converting second and third bedrooms into office spaces.  While a new buyer may consider at a later date to convert an extra bedroom into an office space, they may not want to have the option forced on them.  Most of the time, a two-bedroom house with an office will remain on the market longer than a three-bedroom house.

Fireplaces – They can be beautiful, yes, but fireplaces are quickly falling out of favor with buyers, and are increasingly being seen as a messy addition to a home.  In 2009, a consumer preference survey from the Nation Association of Home Builders ranked fireplaces as No. 1 on a list of what NAR called “Home Fads That Are Falling Out of Style.”  Not to say that fireplaces don’t have a market.  Many people are still looking for homes that contain one or even two.  But installing a fireplace in an existing home can be very expensive, and the return on your investment wouldn’t be that great.

If you are planning to tackle a major project soon, please feel free to contact me so I can assist you in making the best choices for maximizing your home’s value.

Full Disclosure: What You Need To Tell Buyers About Your Home – Sell – realtor.com

Realtor.com provides some sage advice for Sellers.  These tips are ever  more important in competitive markets, like ours.  It is vital  that sellers provide their agents and prospective buyers with the right information about the property.  If you have questions about the process, please get in touch with me.

 

Full Disclosure: What You Need To Tell Buyers About Your Home – Sell – realtor.com.

1172 Edgell Rd Framingham MA 01701 – REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West

I rarely post my real estate listings here, but since there is so little inventory at the moment I thought I would take a moment to share this one.

If you or someone you know is considering a move, please let me know.  I welcome your referrals and am happy to assist in any moves!

New listing-

1172 Edgell Rd Framingham MA 01701 – REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West.

MA Association of Realtors Announces Sales Records!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11:28am

MAR: Pending Home Sales Hit New All-Time High In April
Pending home sales hit their highest level in ten years last month according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR). More pending home sales were reported in the month of April than in any month since January 2004 when MAR began tracking this data. Condominium sales hit their second-highest level last month.

“Buyers came out in force to make offers on the limited number of homes for sale in April,” Kimberly Allard-Moccia, 2013 MAR president and broker-owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree, said in a statement. “While the activity is positive, we need more homes on the market to make sure prices don’t spike up too quickly, and as a result, push people out of the market because of the high cost of homes.”

The number of single-family homes put under agreement in April was up 32.8 percent compared to the same time last year (5,948 homes in 2013 from 4,478 homes in 2012). This is the most homes that have gone under agreement in any month that the association has available data (starting in January 2004). This is also the biggest monthly year-over-year increase since April 2010, the final month to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit. On a month-to-month basis, single-family homes put under agreement were up 38 percent compared to 4,308 homes put under agreement in March 2013.

The number of condos put under agreement in April was up 37.4 percent compared to April 2012 (2,435 units in 2013 from 1,772 units in 2012). This is the second-most condos to go under agreement since March 2005 when there 2,501 units to do so. On a month-to-month basis, condos put under agreement went up 29 percent from 1,888 units in March 2013.

5 Cheapest Places to Live

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I just caught this informative article on Yahoo news and thought it was worth sharing with you. Having lived in many states, I can appreciate what MA has to offer (in addition to high taxes and high cost of living).  Personally, I would not trade the amenities, culture, diversity or opportunities for anything. Having access to great music, theater, hiking, biking, beaches, mountains, golf and educational institutions is worth a premium.  But I can see why others find a simpler life, and less expensive one worth pursuing.

5 Cheapest Places to Live

Andrea N. Browne of Kiplinger.com

September 21, 2011
Don’t mess with Texas when it comes to affordability. Major metropolitan areas in the Lone Star State reign supreme on Kiplinger’s annual ranking of the least expensive places to live in the U.S. Indeed, all of our picks are cities located either in Texas or the heartland of middle America.

The cities on our least-expensive list all have housing prices well under $250,000; homes in one city average less than $200,000. Overall cost of living in these metro areas falls 15% to 20% below the national average.

We ranked the least expensive places to live using data from the U.S. Census (metropolitan statistical areas only) and the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which is assembled by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The index measures relative prices in several categories, including consumer goods, housing, transportation, utilities and health care, to come up with a composite score for each city. The national average is 100. So a score below 100 indicates a lower cost of living.

Here are the five cheapest places to live in the U.S.

5. Sherman, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 86
Metro Population: 117,913
Median Household Income: $45,171
Average Home Price: $213,485

Located 60 miles north of Dallas, the Sherman metropolitan area includes Denison and Pottsboro. The population is the lowest of any of the city metro areas that comprise our least-expensive list. Families make up about 70% of the population. Health care is one of the leading industries, providing one of the highest median incomes in our least-expensive rankings. The extra money can go a long way, considering the relatively affordable costs of food and utilities. Monthly apartment rents run just $595, on average.

4. Fort Smith, Ark.
Cost of Living Index: 85
Metro Population: 288,468
Median Household Income: $37,363
Average Home Price: $235,168

Nestled in a bend of the Arkansas River and bordering Oklahoma, the Fort Smith metro area includes Van Buren and Ozark. Low prices for groceries and utilities make it a budget-friendly place, as does a meager average rent of just $456 per month. Owning a home runs a bit higher than some other cities on our least-expensive list, but the average cost of a house is still $320,000 less than in San Diego, the tenth-ranked city on our most-expensive list.

3. Ft. Hood, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 84.8
Metro Population: 368,682
Median Household Income: $46,183
Average Home Price: $210,383

The Fort Hood metropolitan area, which includes Killeen and Temple, is about 60 miles north of Austin, the capital of Texas. The local economy is anchored in part by a major U.S. Army base. The high concentration of soldiers and military families may help explain why close to 15% of the population is 25- to 34-year-olds. Rent averages $596, and home prices are among the five least expensive in our ranking.

2. Pueblo, Colo.
Cost of Living Index: 84.1
Metro Population: 153,814
Median Household Income: $40,805
Average Home Price: $194,302

Located about 100 miles south of Denver, Pueblo has an enviable combination of decent paychecks and super-low housing costs. Median household income ranks in the top five among the cities on our least-expensive list, yet the average home price is the lowest here. Grocery prices are higher relative to a place like Brownsville, where a T-bone steak, for example, will run you about $8.49. The same cut of beef costs about a buck more in Pueblo. The metropolitan area includes Boone, Avondale and Stone City.

1. Brownsville, Tex.
Cost of Living Index: 80
Metro Population: 383,171
Median Household Income: $30,034
Average Home Price: $209,177

This metro area, which includes Harlingen and San Benito, is at the southwestern tip of the Lone Star State, hard against the Mexican border. The Gulf of Mexico and the popular beaches of South Padre Island are just a stone’s throw away. Rents in Brownsville average $659, more than four times cheaper than New York, the most expensive city in our annual rankings, where rents average $2,778. Utilities can be pricey, but costs for groceries and other consumer goods are exceptionally low. An affordable South Texas alternative to Brownsville is the McAllen metro area, just an hour’s drive away along the Rio Grande.

http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/5-cheapest-places-to-live-in-america.html