RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

5 Home Upgrades for $5,000 or Less

April 2, 2015 12:45 am

(BPT) - It's a sobering truth in real estate: sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers - and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.

Here are five upgrades you can make for under than $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer's must-see list.

1. Upgrade Your Entryway
Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report.

Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.

2. Increase Natural Light
More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, no-leak fresh air skylight, Professional installation costs nationally range from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening a much-used workspace.

3. Beautify a Master Bathroom
Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home's appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels.

In addition, take a look at the floor or countertops - two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don't make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom's look and usability.

4. Heat Things Up in the Kitchen
Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you've already done the obvious - like repainting and de-cluttering - it's time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers.

Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don't necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star-qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.

5. Lavish Landscaping
No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer's first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings.

With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home's energy efficiency in summer.

Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home's curb appeal.
Whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this selling season.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Sidestep Awkward Money Situations

April 1, 2015 12:45 am

When it comes to finances, most of us have likely encountered at least one awkward money situation. In fact, according to a recent CouponCabin.com survey, nearly half of U.S. adults have avoided a person or situation because they knew it would create an “awkward money moment.”

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) recommends these tips for navigating through the most common sticky financial situations.

1. Questioning the Cost of a Purchase
When someone asks, “How much did that cost?” and you’re not comfortable saying, use humor or something vague like, “A lot more than I wish it had been.” Remember, often times these individuals are not being nosey, but may want to conduct their own research. For instance, a friend may be seeking to buy a home in the neighborhood and would like to know what you recently paid for your home.

If you do decide to divulge the information, do so in a more educational manner by sharing how you were able to make the large purchase – years that you saved, amount of down payment, mortgage options, etc.

2. Splitting the Bill
When going out to eat with a group, plan ahead and bring cash so that you can escape the awkward conversation about splitting the bill. Pay your way efficiently and avoid paying more than your share. If there is a large disparity between the amount that each person spent, then you can suggest that everyone pays what they owe rather than an even split.

Apps such as Splitwise or Foodivide can help to determine the exact amounts to split after a meal. If you prefer to transfer money directly to a friend or family member at the table, try using apps such as Venmo or PayPal which allow you to automatically transfer funds using the person’s email or phone number.

3. Declining Invitations to Vacations or Social Events
Everyone has been invited to lavish dinners or activities that might be well out of budget. Rather than immediately declining, present alternative options that are both fun and affordable. For instance, rather than attending a concert that may cost upwards of $200 for the ticket alone, opt for a night out to hear some local music or stay in and cook dinner and listen to the album.

No matter what, be honest. When asked to join an event, vacation or expensive outing, say you’re actively trying to save money and that you are unable to attend. It’s worse to commit and then not end up having the money to participate.

4. Lending to Family and Friends
Be honest about your own financial situation and open about your decision of either lending or not lending. At times you may have to fib a little as to not hurt the recipient’s feelings, but hopefully they will respect your honesty and your decision.

Set the expectations up front. How much are you willing to loan? If this truly is a loan or has been presented as such, be clear of that. With a loan there are expectations that must be met, such as the time the loan has to be paid back and if there will be interest on the loan amount. If necessary, write up the terms of the agreement and have both parties sign.

Always discuss with a partner or spouse before agreeing to the loan. Remember your spouse or significant other may not feel as strongly about lending money, which could lead to stress in the relationship. If this becomes an issue, be honest with the person and tell them that you are unable to give them the loan.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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