Boosting Your Home Value – 7 Cheap Tips

Whether you want to boost your home value because you’re selling or just for the heck of it, one thing usually comes to mind: cost. How much will it cost to get my home value up and will the improvements be enough to boost my selling price? If you’ve got lots of money, great, you can renovate the whole thing to increase your home value, add another bedroom and bathroom, get all new appliances, replace the siding etc. Those are the major (and costly) things you can do to increase your home value.

Most of us however, are on a budget, especially when it comes time to move to a new home. There are a few cheap tricks you can use to help increase your home value without putting a huge dent in your savings.

1. USE your real estate agent! Technically, they don’t get paid till you actually sell your home, but they will wind up making quite a bit of money off you, so put them to work! Have them do a walk through of the home and point out things that may affect your home value. They are the experts after all and can tell you what kind of things will boost your value the most. Some improvements can actually detract from the value of your home, but a real estate professional can give you hints on what to work on and what to leave along.

2. Focus on your kitchen – it still tends to be the heart of the home and potential buyers usually check it out first when viewing a home for sale. For a couple hundred dollars, you can certainly spruce of the kitchen to increase your home value: spring for new sink faucets, repair any squeaky or off-track drawers and cabinets, replace old and worn cabinet handles, etc. If you’re really handy, you can even refinish the cabinets yourself.

3. Check out your floors and walls – if your hard wood floors are scuffed, buff ‘em. If your carpets are stained, get them professionally cleaned. If your walls are scuffed or paint is chipped, re-paint them if necessary, or just wash them! A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can go a long way to cleaning up walls. It’s not always good to outright replace flooring or carpeting or paint your walls, as some potential buyers want to be able to do their own renovations to a home they purchase.

4. Be sure to replace anything that is broken, or just looks old and decrepit. Not only does this help maintain your home value, but it shows buyers that the home is maintained and well cared for. This includes doorknobs, light fixtures, light switches handles, etc.

5. Bathrooms are another important feature buyers tend to look at, and which can definitely affect your home value. You can spruce it up relatively cheaply by replacing the old floor with new easy-to -apply vinyl flooring – you don’t even have to take up the old floor, just install the new floor right on top of the old one. You can replace worn or cracked toilet seats, re-grout the tile and even replace an old sink with a pedestal sink for a relatively low price. Fixing up the bathrooms of your home is a great way to up its value.

6. Possibly the most important and overlooked aspect of raising your home value and getting a buyer will to pay market price is CLEANLINESS! Before even thinking about showing your home, you should do a THOROUGH scrub down, from top to bottom. Trash extra clutter, sweep and vacuum floors, dust EVERYTHING, clean ceiling fans, window sills, wash the drapes, dust the furniture, get into every crevice of your house. While just cleaning may not do a whole lot to raise the home value, it does go a long way to getting the home SOLD. Buyers want a home that is relatively clean to move into – no one wants to spend their first day in a new home thoroughly disinfecting everything.

7. Last, but DEFINITELY not least is focusing on curb appeal. Once you’ve done everything you can to the inside of the home, it’s time to step out front. A poorly maintained and junky lawn can not only decrease your home value, it will also discourage potential buyers from even taking a look inside the home. Landscaping is an important consideration when you are deciding to purchase a new home. Get your hands dirty by cleaning up any junk and trash you have littering the outside of your house. Prune the hedges and trees, mow the lawn and clean away any dead plant life. If your lawn has bald spots or dead grass, consider either planting shrubbery there or laying grass seed. When it comes to the outside of your home, a little effort can go a long way!

Those are just a few relatively cheap and easy ways to increase your home value. Of course, it all goes back to number one – using your real estate agent to determine what improvements will be the most beneficial to boosting your home value and getting your home sold faster. Of course, if you’re just looking to improve your home and not necessarily sell anytime soon, you may not have a real estate agent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use one! Real estate agents are ALWAYS looking for potential business and therefore usually willing to help out what could be potential clients. Even if you won’t be selling for another 3 years, start shopping around for an agent to do a walk through of your home and give you some advice. That doesn’t mean you have to list with them! (But they don’t need to know that.)

You can also take advantage of websites that will give you a free home value report, and many of those sites will actually connect you with a local real estate professional. Take advantage of that by having the agent come out, look at your home and give you some more advice on increasing your home value!

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Home Value Trends in Hawaii

When you buy a new home, you’re making an investment, so it’s important to buy in an area your home value can continue to appreciate. To do that, you’ve got to look into specific geographic areas. Take a look at past home value and home sale trends as well as an area’s economy, employment and job growth and the attraction level it has to new residents, and you can more reliably predict where your home value will go over the next few years.

The islands of Hawaii (capital city of Honolulu) have never had a problem attracting visitors and new residents. Though its islands are relatively small, Hawaii boasted a population of 1,211,537 in 2006. Its chief agricultural products include sugarcane, pineapple, nursery stock, livestock and macadamia nuts. Not surprisingly, Hawaii’s biggest industrial sector is tourism, and others include food processing, apparel, fabricated metal products and stone, clay and glass products. With such varied trades for employment and such a huge tourism sector, it’s not really surprising that most of the state’s islands still have rising home value appreciation in a slower market.

As far as tourism goes, Hawaii is one of the bigger vacation attractions of the United States. With surf, sand, sun and adventure on every island, you can have a great time on even the smallest of them. Hawaii has 11 different climate zones, meaning the environment runs from lush forest to dry deserts, from black sand beaches to snow covered mountaintops. The Big Island (Hawaii) is full of ancient Hawaiian temples, European missionaries and is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the state. Maui has a combination of great nightlife, shopping and dining and natural adventures including hiking, water sports, wildlife watching and terrain exploring.

The island of Kauai is home of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and the only navigable river in Hawaii. The more rural island of Molokai is considered the most “Hawaiian” island and is ideal for the true outdoorsman. The island of Oahu, one of the most popular in the state, had an amazing downtown area, great surfing and holds the Pearl Harbor Memorial. If you’re looking for a more tropical and laid back vacation, Hawaii is the spot to be. With so many attractions and different places to visit, it’s no wonder visitors make the decision to become permanent residents, assuring the stability of home value and the real estate market.

Hawaii has a high median household income compared to the rest of the nation at about $58,112 in 2005 (which actually was a slight decline from 2004) and a very low unemployment rate of 2.5% in May 2007. Professional and business services and leisure and hospitality has seen job growth, while government and trade, transport and utility jobs have declined. With an average home value of about $550,000, Hawaii is one of the more expensive places to buy a home in the United States. Their strong labor market, rising incomes and quickly rising home value equals a stable market for most. However, while their median income is high, home value prices are much higher, making homes less affordable then in other “poorer” states.

For now, most agents are noticing homes are spending a bit less time on the market in the 2nd quarter of 2007. One of the most expensive islands, Oahu, has a median home value of $665,000 which is down a couple thousand from the median in May of 2006. According to the Realtor Association of Maui statistics, the average home value sale price on the island of Maui at the end of April 2007 was over one million dollars! The smaller islands tend to be more affordable at this point, though the Big Island Hawaii saw a home value median of $430,000 at the end of 2006. Two of the smallest islands, Molokai and Lanai have the lowest median home value at $415,000 for Molokai (which is down from $505,000 in 2006) and 472,000 for Lanai, which is up from $410,000 in 2006.

With unemployment as low as it is, and home value prices high, it is unlikely for Hawaii’s home value averages to continue skyrocketing. As of now, most areas of the state are leveling out and still appreciating slowly, while others, such as Molokai, have actually seen a decrease in home value appreciation. Over time, this will likely level off as well, and Hawaii will settle back into a stable, calm market with gradual rises in home value rates.

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How To Increase Home Value

Many noted that in order to increase home value, the appropriate method of tending the house is extremely vital. In this aspect, several sustaining topics appear, like the stuffs associated to the home renovation be it the interior part or the exterior. As a matter of fact, this idea to increase home value is very useful for those who have wanted to sell and buy a particular home and those who desired to generate as much cash as possible.

Since this reality is well-faced by the majority of home buyers and sellers, many trustworthy sources provided a number of “increase home value” tips that will certainly increase home value.

So here are a number of those tips that will surely make a huge impact in the idea of increase home value.

Cleaning Your Entire House

It simply means cleaning your entire house regardless interior or exterior, big or small. In cleaning the home nothing will be removed in terms of home value. This is undeniably true for the basis that if you simply allow the dust and dirt to accumulate in your home, the increase home value is absolutely unattainable.

You ought to note that every purchaser adore a neat home. Therefore if you actually desire to increase home value, you must ensure that your carpets are cleaned, your bathrooms are well polished and your garage is dirt free.

Painting Your House

It is very essential to perform the act of painting your house. By doing so, to increase home value will certainly give your home a cleaner look and will even let the small rooms seem bigger.

In addition, this method to increase home value will produce an obvious image on how the house will appear when they shift in for someone who desired to buy such painted house.

Simple Landscaping

This is also an additional vital concern to increase home value. If feasible, attempt to plant some flowers and trim the bushes, and cut the grasses.

Important First Impression

At all times bear in mind that if you really want to increase home value it is important to leave a good first impression.

In order to achieve that, you need to ensure that the front view of your house appears beautiful, great and appealing. Therefore by doing so will give purchasers a firm impression that you actually cared for the house whilst you own it will definitely increase home value.

Building Rapport

Furthermore without doubt, if you wish to increase home value, in that case you can make an effort in building rapport among you and the purchasers.

If achievable, you give the purchaser an at home feeling for the reality that this tip will actually direct to increase home value. Thus if you have oven, attempt to bake some cookies for the purchasers.

Positive Moves

Carry out any feasible positive moves that will do then to increase home value but will give the home look and create a model house like feeling. It will certainly lead to increase home value when the purchaser makes an offer.

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Home Value Trends in Illinois

Real estate experts and the media who predicted a meltdown of real estate, a plummeting of home value rates and the bursting of the housing bubble should be feeling just a bit sheepish now, since none of those predictions have come to pass. Sure the market has slowed, and yes the value of a home isn’t appreciating quite as much as it did in past years, but the real estate market is still plodding steadily along. Besides, knowing how the ‘national’ market is doing, or the median home value in the nation (it was around $221,900 in 2006), isn’t going to do you much good when you’re ready to buy a new home.

What WILL do you some good is thinking about how much your new home value may increase over the years, depending on the area where you want to move. Real estate is an investment, so it’s important to invest where your value is sure to rise. Since we can’t predict the future, the best thing to do is to look at past trends in home value prices and rate of sales, as well as the economy, population, job opportunities, unemployment rate and attractions an area has to offer. This will give you a fair idea of where your home value may go in the future.

Illinois (capital city: Springfield) has seen large growth in the past few years with a population of 12,831,970 as of 2006. The economy of Illinois is based on agricultural products such as corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, dairy products and wheat, and a larger industrial sector of machinery, food processing, electric equipment, chemical products, printing and publishing, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment, petroleum and coal. With such a large and varied economy, job growth stays steady, always a good indication that home values are likely to appreciate steadily in a given area.

Though tourism isn’t a major industry in Illinois, they still receive a fairly large amount of visitors daily. Illinois is home to the Windy City, Chicago, known for Wrigley Field, two different baseball teams and of course, the Sears Tower. Not to mention the family entertainment in the area (zoos, amusement parks, recreational centers, etc) and of course, the night life. The rest of Illinois has various historical sites (after all, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Regan all have ties to Illinois), plenty of state parks and outdoor activities, and various odd sights and attractions here and there (like the larger than life Superman statue and museum greeting visitors in Metropolis, Illinois). There’s also plenty of outdoor adventures, great fishing, beautiful wine country and scenic byways.

Lately Illinois has experienced a rather average unemployment rate compared to the nation, at about 4.8%, with more jobs opening in the fields of construction, professional & business services, education & health sectors and leisure & hospitality. In 2005, the median household income in Illinois was relatively high compared to many states in the U.S. at about $50,260. This means that a good percentage of people can afford homes which are above the median home value of Illinois. As of April, the median home value of properties sold was about $287,240, according to information from RealtyTrac. Other sources say the median home value for the first quarter was only about $197,000.

Chicago is definitely one of the pricer places to live in Illinois, but also the one with the most opportunities. At the end of 2006, the median value of homes was about $279,400, a 1.7% increase from a year ago. The housing in the capital city of Springfield stays steady and rarely fluctuates into a strong buyer or seller market. The average home price in the city is about $138,396 which is much cheaper than Chicago. On the western border of Illinois, in Quincey, the median home value is low at $110,730, but the average amount of time a home stays on the market is over 150 days.

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Denver Home Values – How Are They Determined?

One of the most commonly misunderstood things about the Denver real estate market is how the value of a home is measured. Denver home values can be determined by using either the market value or appraisal value method. Many factors go into each of these methods but only one is partially driven by emotion. A Comparative Market Analysis or CMA, offered by Realtors to Buyers and Sellers, is often more a reflection of market value than appraised value. Make sure you ask for a CMA before you decide to buy or sell your next Denver home.

So, can there be a great difference between market value and appraised value? In a more stable market, there really should not be a great variance between the two. In a sellers’ market you might often see the market value of a home be higher than the homes actual appraised value. This happens when there are more buyers than homes available and nicer homes receive multiple offers. In a buyers’ market it is possible to see the appraised value of a home come in higher than the market value. This might happen if there are too many homes on the market and a lower number of buyers. Typically, buyers have their pick of homes in this market environment and Sellers are eager to sell their homes ahead of their competition. Tough, negotiating buyers will offer less and demand more.

Market value

Market value is the price that a buyer is willing to pay for your property. The interesting thing about market value is that it really reflects desirability. In today’s Denver Homes market this translates into stainless steel appliances, granite or custom stone countertops, cherry or maple cabinets, stone or wood floors, a professionally finished basement, and views. For years I have always explained market value as more like being “perceived value”, value perceived through emotions and point of reference. When a buyer walks into a home and “falls in love” it’s always an emotional response to something. Point of reference is what you’re used to and reflects how you might compare things.

Appraised value

Appraised value is what an appraiser determines your home is worth. This is an unbiased opinion of price and determines how much a bank will lend you to purchase this particular home. An appraiser uses a variety of factors to appraise your home. These include but may not be limited to location, upgrades, and historical data of recently sold homes in your neighborhood. A few years ago that meant looking at homes that sold within the last 6 to 12 months. Today that means looking at sold homes in the last three months and within a shorter distance from the listed property. A mortgage lender won’t lend the buyer more than the appraised value. So if the purchase contract is more than the appraisal value, the buyer would need to come up with the difference. Alternatively, if your Realtor has done their job, there is an appraisal contingency in your contract which provides the buyer with a way out of the contract without the loss of earnest money.

Comparative Market Analysis or CMA

As the name suggests, a CMA compares the value of your home with similarly appointed homes in your neighborhood. The data, combined with a value for upgrades and/or additions, help to give an accurate picture of your home’s worth. Similar to “market value”, a CMA is market based information gathered by looking at comparable properties within a specific period of time. A typical CMA lists properties side by side as a means to compare the size of the home, number of bedrooms and baths, basement type and finish, lot desirability, views, and upgrades. A good CMA is an accurate measure of your home’s worth.

This brings to mind a home that I sold in Highlands Ranch a few years back. We were in a somewhat stable market, maybe leaning a little towards a buyers’ market. I had found a gorgeous home in a Highlands Ranch neighborhood that I thought my buyers would just love. It was a favorite floor plan of a particular builder and the same plan could be commonly found in other parts of the Ranch. Higher end subdivisions showed sales of the same floor plan selling for higher prices. This is yet more proof that location prevails above all else.

After seeing many homes, my clients felt this one stood out for a few reasons. In their price range, this home afforded them the WOW factor they could not find in any other home priced the same. This Highlands Ranch home had some amazing views but was still priced grossly higher than similarly appointed homes in the same neighborhood. And most of those had finished basements where this one did not. This was considered a more moderately priced area and yet this home was priced even higher than the same floor plan in the higher end neighborhoods. Justification for the price difference were the “million dollar views” this home offered. Despite popular belief, “million dollar views” do not equate to a $100,000 to $150,000 price difference. Being that location is once again the prevailing factor here, this was not a good measure for assessing this homes value.

I advised my clients of the comps but they were emotionally vested in the home at this point. I recall they were not happy with my assessment of the value and they even argued they should pay more for the home. Looking out for their best interest, I reviewed the comps with them again and once again explained the state of the Denver market at that time. After lengthy discussions and some negotiating with the sellers, they came to an agreement in price. This was a bit less than the asking price but still significantly higher than it should have been. My clients’ point of reference and emotional investment in the home led them to purchase the house well above market value, despite comparable sales in the area.

As I expected, the appraisal came back lower than the list price. Arguments between the appraiser and the listing agent ensued. My clients believed that the house was worth the higher price and so they came up with the difference between the appraised value and the agreed upon sales price. They set a precedent and this became the highest priced home in the neighborhood.

Three years later my clients put the home on the market. Having paid close to $700,000 they were going to take a significant loss anyway due to the downturn in our market, but they also had to account for the gross price difference they originally paid. Sadly, they lost quite a bit of money on the sale.

If a home is overpriced, paying more than it’s worth is not often advisable. As with everything else, however, there are exceptions to every situation. If you are purchasing a home and you intend to live there for a very long time, perhaps the relatively small investment is worth a lifetime of happiness. Of course you have to be in a financial position to be able to afford the larger down payment. And you must be willing to take the loss should you be forced to move due to an unexpected change in finances or windfall relocation.

Ultimately it is sometimes the “idea” of a lifestyle that people sometimes buy into, not the actual home. It’s important not to let emotions take over your decision and always pay attention to the comps. Information gathered through the use of a CMA should be a good start in answering some of your questions regarding the value of a property.

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