7 Home Seller Tips For Great Front Yard Curb Appeal

home seller curb appealIf you’re selling your home, your front yard, regardless of its size, will play a huge role in your home selling success. It’s critical to create the best possible initial impression for home buyers. If they don’t feel visually welcomed, they’ll never make it to your front door. That’s why I’ve prepared seven tips to help you create great front yard curb appeal.

1. Start with a focal point and plant optimally.

Typically, your front door is your focal point. The last thing you want to do is hide it. If you’re considering large plantings such as trees, think about how they will frame the front door as you approach your house. For two-story houses, foundation plantings should extend at least eight feet out from your house. Be sure that shrubs closest to your house are not taller than the windows, so you don’t block the light coming into your house or the view. Make plant choices for the amount of light that each side of the house gets.

2. Use ground covers.

Let’s face it, grass is high maintenance – watering, fertilizing, weeding, trimming, etc. You should consider using ground covers (plantings that are low to the ground and dense) as a low-maintenance complement – or substitution – to grass. Ground covers allow you to use spring bulbs nicely and hide the dead leaves after the bulbs bloom. In the Southwest deserts, the low-maintenance equivalent to ground covers is xeriscaping. Landscaping with native plants and attractive rocks and stones is not only the green thing to do, but your front yard will be the better for it during the worst drought periods.

3. Accent the driveway.

If you’d like to enhance your asphalt driveway, install a border of Belgian blocks or cement pavers along the edges. This border will give your driveway a more finished and polished look.

4. Create a sweeping entrance.

For straight driveways from street to house, you can soften the front yard lines with a curved planting bed where the driveway meets the front corner of your yard. This will create a pleasing, sweeping effect as you approach the house.

5. Add some color.

Make the most of perennial flowers and shrubs. They come in a variety of colors and hues to match against your home and lawn. Investing in young perennials means these flowers last longer over the years. Perennials that can handle extreme climate conditions is an investment that will pay back well. Add a flowering tree, and you’ve got nice curb appeal and fragrance during springtime bloom!

6. Keep some privacy.

Instead of a solid hedge, consider buffering with shrubs of various heights – this look can be more welcoming. Alternatively, if you have a particularly large front yard that ties to the back, install fencing around the front yard. There’s so many types to ponder, including white picket, latticework, and stonework. Be sure to factor in your soil composition.

7. Think long-term.

Plan around twelve to fifteen years out when planting trees in front of your house. Since they’re considered a permanent fixture of the landscape, avoid planting them too closely. When planting shrubs, think about how they’ll look in three to five years. Once again, avoid potentially blocking windows!

You don’t have to be a professional landscaper to create a front yard attractive to home buyers. With a little planning and a few hours of work, you can greatly enhance your home’s curb appeal and increase its value!

Do you have any front curb appeal tips you’d like to add? Please leave them in the comments below!

And if you’re thinking of selling your metro Albuquerque home, be sure to contact one of our real estate brokers today!

How Do Improvements Raise the Value of Your Home?

kitchen remodelAs a homeowner, you’re probably familiar with the term “improvement.” But what exactly is a home improvement? Is it just any enhancement to your home? What increase in home value can it bring? Let’s find out.

By definition, a real estate improvement contributes towards improving a home’s performance and/or increasing its value. Improvements do not include general maintenance-related actions that seek to sustain an asset’s current value.

Painting your home isn’t an improvement because it sustains your home’s value but doesn’t increase it. But a new addition to your home does increase its value, which makes it an improvement.

Some capital improvements raise the value of your home and some don’t – and still others minimally do.

Minimum-Impact Improvements

Consider replacing your roof. This increases the marketability of your home, but if you’re replacing it with similar materials, the increase in value is minimal. Why? Because all houses are expected to have a roof.

Swimming pools do not add much value because they are considered a high-maintenance item that many prospective homebuyers don’t necessarily want.

Once again, painting is another low-impact improvement. It may help your marketability when you’re selling, but even if you’re adding custom murals, the financial improvement is low.

Moderate-Impact Improvements

Some examples include:

  • Installing new flooring, such as tile and hardwoods (but not carpet)
  • Installing new patios and decking in outdoor spaces
  • Finishing a basement

High-Impact Improvements

Here are two examples that typically have a sizable impact on increasing your property value:

  • Remodeling your kitchen
  • Remodeling your bathroom

Obviously, updated kitchens and bathrooms can really increase the desirability of a home since they usually involve high-cost materials.

Keep in mind that the location of your home and regional architectural elements play a key role in valuation, too. For example, if you custom build a home in the Northeast using Southwest styling, such as vigas and kiva fireplaces (which are not the norm for the region), don’t expect to get a good return on your investment. Remember, there is such a thing as over-improving your home for the area it’s in.

For more information, be sure to see a list of the top 10 midrange and upscale home projects for 2013-14 Cost vs. Value, by visiting the National Association of Realtor’s RealtorMag.

Do you have any home improvements that raised your home’s value or taxes? Please leave them in the comments below!

And if you’re thinking of selling your metro Albuquerque home, be sure to contact one of our real estate brokers today!

Is There a Best Time to Sell Your Home?

home buyers AlbuquerqueMany home sellers second-guess the best time to put their homes on the market. There are definitely some considerations a seller should make as they prepare to list their home that could have an impact on the transaction. But is there really a best time? Let’s find out.

Putting market forces aside, holidays and winter are traditionally the best times for sellers. It may not be conventional for a seller to list their home in the winter – obviously, because of the weather. But you can bet those buyers who do show up – and they’re out there – are motivated; they don’t care about the season or timing. And motivation means offers.

And don’t think these buyers have to show up in person, either. With 90% of all homebuyers spending time on the Internet at some point in their search (according to the National Association of Realtors), a homebuyer can just as well make an offer using DocuSign from a beach in Hawaii! It may be more conventional to list your home in the Spring and Summer, but let’s face it, you’ll also see considerably greater competition.

Is there an ideal day of the week? As a rule of thumb, Sunday afternoons have traditionally been ideal, though Saturdays and even Fridays are becoming more commonplace in the real estate industry – specifically, the first weekend after the house has been listed. Photo shoots for online listings are typically done by mid-week so the house can go live in the MLS by Thursday. This should allow enough time for marketing printouts to be left in the home. Of course, the idea is to build momentum during the week to have the strongest first weekend open house possible.

So, despite traditions, in the end, it is up to the seller to decide for themselves what is the best time. They must consider a lot of factors, like their financial position, interest rates, neighborhood competition, flexible access to their home, and responsive online communication, among others.

Of course, having an experienced real estate broker makes a seller’s chance of success that much greater. So if you’re thinking of selling your metro Albuquerque home, be sure to contact one of our real estate brokers today!

Turn Your Yard Into Summer Gaming Fun!

Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to think about your backyard. If yours is looking a little drab, why not spruce it up with some oversized games for family fun?

I was browsing Pinterest and saw this jumbo checker board and thought, “What a great idea!” As I was looking at the related pins, I saw ideas for other games that will fit in beautifully with your yard.

Follow Expert Real Estate Talk’s board Outdoor Gaming on Pinterest.

Hopscotch

When it comes to outdoor games, hopscotch has been a quick and easy game to set up. Just grab a piece of chalk and draw out your boards. But how about setting up a more permanent one with garden steps and painted-on numbers?

Chess or Checker Boards

I found a ton of checker boards! One uses alternating grass and concrete to create the board. Another uses all concrete in alternating grey. And I saw a wooden one that alternates green and white.

I didn’t just find your typical checker board. I saw quite a few Chinese checker boards, too!

Scrabble

Improve your vocabulary while having fun.

Our Pinterest board has ideas for an outdoor bowling alley, a giant Jenga board, an oversized Connect Four, and even a Tic Tac Toe! Be sure to follow us on Pinterest as we add more outdoor gaming!

Why not take a few weekends this Spring and make a fun, playful yard to enjoy all Summer long?

Albuquerque Open Houses 3/14 – 3/16

Open House Tip:
Plan on organizing your open house trips by geographic area. This will not only allow you to see more houses in a day, but save on gas as well. For example, you may cover Saturday on the East Side and Sunday on the West Side.

Our weather is expected to improve throughout this weekend. There are 121 open houses in the Albuquerque area this weekend. You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Highlights:
Price range: $69,900 – $750,000
Bedrooms: 1-5
Bathrooms: 1-5

Albuquerque Far Northeast Heights

Albuquerque Open Houses 3/7 – 3/9

Open House Tip:
Take lots of notes! After looking at numerous homes, you’ll have a hard time remembering if the 2-story house had the great fireplace or the gourmet kicthen.

Remember, Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend. Don’t forget to Spring your clocks forward so you don’t miss the open houses! There are 130 open houses in the Albuquerque area this weekend. You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Highlights:
Price range: $104,900 – $688,500
Bedrooms: 1-5
Bathrooms: 1-4

Our featured home this week is from Anita Mora with Coldwell Banker Legacy.

1305 El Segundo Av Albuquerque NM 87113

1305 El Segundo Ave Albuquerque, NM 87113

Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Est. Square Feet: 2,080
Price: $275,000
Listing # 805322

Open House on Sat 3/08, 12-2 & Sun 3/09, 11-1, 2:30-4:30.
Contact for info:
Anita Mora, Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Legacy
8200 Carmel NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Cell: 505-400-8105
Direct: 505-292-8900
Office: 505-292-8900

Smart Homes of the Future

What is a smart home?

When you think of smart homes, you might think of the Jetsons. Everything is automatic, from taking a shower to Rosie the housekeeper. A house like the Jetsons isn’t just a futuristic idea. Most components of a home can be automated, including lighting, heating, air conditioning, locks, doors, and appliances. A smart home can improve your daily life. A smart home may also allow the elderly and disabled to live safely and conveniently.

History of Smart Homes

Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future

Courtesy of x-ray delta one

Homes of the future have been around since the early 20th century. World Fairs of the 1930’s depicted automated homes. In 1956, Frigidaire showed off the kitchen of the future which featured a computer screen showing a completed recipe (see video below). From 1957 to 1967, Disneyland featured the Monsanto House of the Future. The home was set in the year 1986 and featured a microwave oven. It was a round, Jetson-like home made almost entirely of plastic.

Setting Up a Smart Home

Early adoption of automated homes was limited to the more affluent. One of the major reasons was the early stages of electricity. Automating a home into a smart home can be as simple as setting up an automatic coffee maker to brew your pot of coffee so you awake to selecting your daily preferences on a smart grid. No matter what your budget, there’s so much you can do to begin automating your home today!

Stats on Smart Homes

Smart phones and tablets are driving the growth of smart home technology. A 2011 Parks Associates Research study showed that 77% of consumers surveyed would like the ability to remotely monitor their home while away. A 2012 study by Juniper Research predicted the value of the smart home market at $60B by 2017 with the smart entertainment segment at 82%.

Be sure to follow my weekly series on smart homes as we discuss various products and trends!

ABQ Open Houses

Even though the weather is a little bit chillier this weekend, there are still 97 homes in the Albuquerque area that are being held open. So bundle up and go look at some homes! You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Highlights:
Price range: $65,000 – $850,00
Bedrooms: 1-6
Bathrooms: 1-3

Open House Tip:
It’s okay to open the closets and cabinets to make sure there is enough storage space, but it’s never acceptable to start digging through the current home owners stuff! And you never need to open up drawers in furniture that isn’t built-in.

Our featured home this week is from Anita Mora with Coldwell Banker Legacy.

1416 Dorothy St Albuquerque NM 87112

1416 Dorothy Street Albuquerque, NM 87112

Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Est. Square Feet: 1,735
Price: $167,000
Listing # 805703

Open House on Sunday 3/2 from 2-4.
Contact for info:
Anita Mora, Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Legacy
8200 Carmel NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Cell: 505-400-8105
Direct: 505-292-8900
Office: 505-292-8900

Albuquerque Open Houses

This weekend there are 93 homes in the Albuquerque area that are being held open. With that many to pick from, there’s something for every home buyer! You can view all the open houses in Albuquerque that are listed in the SWMLS.

Highlights:
Price range: $99,000 – $750,00
Bedrooms: 2-6
Bathrooms: 1-4

Open House Tip:
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You know those beautifully staged homes you see? Some of them are using false furniture! It’s a great way to stage a home, but you don’t want to sit on the bed and find out it’s a cardboard box! Be sure to ask if it’s okay to rest a spell first!

Our featured home this week is from Anita Mora with Coldwell Banker Legacy.

8215 TIERRA LINDA PLACE Albuquerque NM

8215 Tierra Linda Place Albuquerque, NM 87122

Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Est. Square Feet: 2,542
Price: $362,000
Listing # 806077

Open House on Sunday 2/23 from 1-3.
Contact for info:
Anita Mora, Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker Legacy
8200 Carmel NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Cell: 505-400-8105
Direct: 505-292-8900
Office: 505-292-8900

6 Tips for Getting a Mortgage

loan applicationPotential homebuyers often hear mortgage lending standards are so tight these days that it’s next to impossible to qualify for a mortgage without perfect credit. But that’s hardly the case. If you’re willing to commit to living by a few good-practice guidelines, in the long run, you’ll stand a much better chance of landing the home you’ve always wanted! Here’s how.

1. Start Saving!
Start saving for a down payment and closing costs as soon as possible. Down payments can range from 3.5-20%. For example, a home at $200,000 at 3.5% will require a $7,000 down payment plus closing costs.

2. Keep a paper trail.
Make sure you have all the records to properly document your finances. This inclues tax returns, bank statements, W-2’s, investment accounts, and other assets. Also, be sure any cash gifts are documented.

3. Protect your credit.
Your credit score will determine if you get a home loan and what the rates and closing costs will be. Be sure to monitor your credit so there are no surprises.

4. Know how much you can afford.
Before you go house hunting, make sure you know you can afford the homes you are looking at. Lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio. Try to keep it below 43%, including all debts, mortgages, and property taxes.

5. Get pre-qualified.
Many real estate brokers will want to make sure you can buy a home before showing you any. Getting pre-qualified also means you know how much you can get a loan for and are ready to move on an offer when you find the right home. You really need to get a Letter of Pre-Approval.

6. Don’t Spend.
Once you are pre-qualified, it’s important not to make any changes to your financial situation. Don’t open or close any credit cards or lines of credit. Don’t purchase anything new — no cars or furniture.

If you think you missed out on lower rates, think again. Rates are still affordable and when you compare them to the 18.45% in October of 1981, they seem like a steal!

When you’re ready to speak to a lender about getting pre-qualified for your new home, contact any of our professional mortgage brokers.