Blog - Jen Libutti Homes

Consider Upgrading Before You List

Most people have wandered through new home developments and wished their own home looked as modern and chic.  Model homes showcase the latest upgrades and decorating trends.  For home sellers these homes are their competition, and it can feel daunting to offer an older floorplan and design.

While it might seem like a smart idea to simply offer a buyer credit and list, there are downsides to this plan, and taking the time to update a bit on your own first could mean thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars in your pocket.

Here are a few reasons why offering a credit might not be the best strategy:

• Buyer Impression – A dated home looks old and not all buyers can see the potential.

• Lower Offers – Offering a credit could be viewed as high seller motivation, resulting inlower offers.

• Value Differences – You and your buyer might disagree on the value of needed upgrades. For example, you might feel $7,500 is a fair cost for a new countertop whereas your buyers might expect considerably more; this can lead to more negotiations and lower sales price.

• Home Condition – A property that shows its age can prompt the buyer to worry about the overall condition.

• Loan Approval – Lenders are wary of buyer credits; in fact, upgrade credits are no longer possible. You might have a buyer unable to take advantage of the credit at all and you could lose the buyer.

Home design trends change quickly.  If you’re ready to sell, it could be tempting just to list your home in its current condition.  Before you just add a credit to the listing, consider some simple updating so your buyers can see the value of your home.

Thinking of Selling??

Let us help you determine which upgrades will yield the highest returns on your investment!

Schedule your FREE Home Marketing Strategy Session today!

Buying an Eco Friendly Home

More and more homebuyers are searching for homes that offer better energy efficiency and use sustainable materials.  Eco-friendly homes not only help the environment but can mean significant savings in energy and maintenance costs.  As more home builders consider the environmental impact of their housing developments, finding an eco-friendly home is easier than ever before.

Here are a few things to look for when searching for a greener home.

• Nature Use – When searching for an eco-friendly home, notice the use of trees and other landscaping to save energy by blocking sun and wind—lowering air conditioning and heating costs by adding a natural barrier.

• Window Quality – Homebuyers should notice not only the quality of the windows but the placement as well. Are they placed to take advantage of the sun during the winter yet glazed to prevent summer heat?

• Building Materials – Natural materials are not only beautiful but also offer sustainability and lower maintenance costs. For example, cedar-plank siding is resistant to both water and pests, which makes it stronger and longer-lasting than other options; natural stone for counters and floors adds a modern touch, is easy to clean and lasts for years.

• Floorplan – Recent changes in home design trends are turning floorplans upside down—literally. Look for homes with living spaces on the top floor, which can take better advantage of natural light while keeping the lower-level bedrooms cooler and more peaceful.  Sustainable building designs and materials are becoming more common.

Homebuyers can find newer homes, as well as remodels, taking advantage of these trends. Buying an energy efficient, eco-friendly home can provide a beautiful lifestyle and save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of ownership.

Ready to Schedule Your FREE Buyer Strategy Session??

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Paint Colors that Sell…and Those that Don’t

Did you know that choosing the wrong paint color could cost you money when you sell your home?  The most impactful rooms, in particular, are the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living room.  

In fact, according to a Zillow analysis, homes painted light gray or light bluish gray will sell for $5,440 more than other homes*.  The reason for this is that colors dictate emotions and feelings, and blue specifically feels very soothing and brings a sense of calm to a room. 

Benjamin Moore | Popular Blues

BM Breath of Fresh Air 806

BM Mt Rainier Gray 2129

Gray is a great neutral to use, and one of my favorites is Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore.  It isn’t too “cold” feeling, as is typically a perception of gray interior paint.  Edgecomb Gray in particular is a wonderful "Greige" color & great for rooms with warmer, beige finishes.  Revere Pewter is also very popular, but it is slightly darker than Edgecomb Gray.  One popular paint color worth mentioning, although not featured here, is Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams.  It is a very comparable color to BM's Edgecomb Gray & Revere Pewter.  It is quite popular among home stagers and real estate Fix & Flippers as it appeals to a very large pool of potential buyers.

Benjamin Moore | Popular Grays

BM Silver Satin OC-26

BM Edgecomb Gray HC-173

In contrast, according to the same Zillow analysis, painting with colors like Red, Gold or Terra Cotta can actually cost you money when you sell.  On average the amount lost was about $2,000*.  These colors are considered to be harsh, homeowners tire of them quickly and are considered to be dated.  To be clear, houses that feature these colors will probably sell - but the majority of today's buyers will likely value houses less than those painted using colors more in line with colors featured above.  This could cost you time and/or money when selling.  Here are some examples.

BM Baked Terra Cotta 1202

BM Marblehead Gold HC-11

Finally, according to Zillow, the most costly wall color when selling is white.  On average, these homes sold for about $4,000 less than other homes*.  You would think the color white would be a very safe color, as well as a color that would make rooms appear to be larger.  However, just the opposite is true.  When using white, typically the room should be a larger room – contrary to popular belief, small rooms do well when painted darker colors – but also more importantly, the room needs to have SUBSTANTIAL natural light pouring into it since white is reflective.  Additionally, the furnishings and accessories used inside an all-white room must have a lot of texture and even occasional pops of bright colors to bring interest to the room.  Here are some examples of white rooms.

White Done Wrong
White Done Right!

Painting is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to prepare your home for the market.  Hiring a home stager or a certified color consultant to help you select appropriate paint colors for your home can help you maximize the return on your investment, and potentially save you money by helping you avoid selecting the wrong paint color and ultimately having to repaint.

*Zillow savings are based on average around the U.S.  In South Orange County, CA, the average savings is about double those cited by Zillow.

For the full Zillow analysis/article, please click here.

Schedule a Color Consultation Today!

Preparing To Sell During Quarantine

So now that you’re stuck indoors for the foreseeable future, you may be wondering how you are going to fill your time. If you have plans, or are just considering, putting your house on the market when this is all over, now is the best time to get it ready! What better way to pass the hours and be productive than preparing your house for sale? While some checklist items may be obvious, there may be a few to-do list boxes you aren’t sure you need to check. Here is a list for you to get your house ready for sale!

Start Outside

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere having nice spring weather right now, take advantage of being outdoors without breaking any local rules. In most cases, you are permitted to enjoy the sunshine on your own property, so now is the best time to spruce up the outside. If you have a power washer, clean your siding and any sidewalks or driveways attached to your home. Boost your curb appeal by mowing the lawn, touching up any landscaping work.

Make Repairs

Take care of whatever repairs you can that don’t require an unnecessary trip to the store. Swap out old lightbulbs, fix that window that keeps jamming shut, and patch up any dents or scrapes on your indoor walls.  If there are repairs you need to make that require a trip to the store and you are comfortable doing so, make a list of the necessary materials and try to limit the amount of trips you need to make, wear a mask and perhaps gloves and finally be sure to wash/sanitize your hands before and after you go*

*Leaving your home to buy materials to fix repairs should be done @ your own risk and only if you have a level of comfort in doing so.  If this is not possible, stick to repairs you can make that does not require leaving your home.

Increase Curb Appeal

If you have any paint on hand, or will be venturing out to the store and can get some, give your front door a fresh coat, add a new floor mat (ordered online!) and perhaps a plant for your front porch to make your home feel approachable. If a potential buyer doesn’t feel welcome approaching your home, they likely won’t want to live in it.

Declutter the Home

This is the best time to realize how much you actually use items in your home. If you’ve been stuck indoors for several weeks and you still haven’t used an item, add it to your donate or toss pile. Not only is this great to help prepare for sale, but it will help your mental health while you are stuck inside. Clearing clutter is extremely beneficial for many reasons, and it will make your move that much easier.

Clean & Organize

After you’ve decluttered, it is time to clean and organize. When someone tours your home, they want to feel like it can be theirs. If your home is scattered with items and there is barely room to walk around, it will be hard for them to picture themselves living there. Having your items cleaned and organized will also help you when it is time to pack and move on!

Eliminate Odors

You are probably craving fresh air anyway, so why not spend those sunny days with every window in the house wide open! This will help eliminate any residual odors you aren’t aware of and it can help keep air flowing while you are using chemical products to deep clean your home. 

Right now is the PERFECT time to start preparing your home for the market - for more thorough recommendations on how to add value to your home and position you in the best light to achieve TOP DOLLAR for your home, click here to contact me or here to schedule a virtual consultation!

Buying During Coronavirus Questions: ANSWERED

Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.

1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or Face Time home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to prescreen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs.

2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. If you are going to see a home in person during this time, carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during and after the tour. Drive separately from your agent & meet at the homes. During the tour, designate one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing.

3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? –Most real estate contracts include, and California is no exception, a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation.

4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – It’s very common for the buyer to have easy access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections, appraisals and just measuring are all common reasons to visit the home during escrow. Consider grouping these activities whenever possible. In most cases, these 3rd party vendors have their own protocols in place to help facilitate each activity in the safest manner possible.

5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it.

The Covid-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you’ve been waiting for during this time.

Selling During Coronavirus Questions: ANSWERED

There are so many questions and concerns amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The real estate market is especially hard hit and sellers are concerned.  Real estate at its core is a people business. It relies on person-to-person interaction and the coronavirus necessarily limits this contact. As the spring selling season gets started, home sellers will have questions and it’s important to acknowledge concerns and offer practical advice and concrete information to help sellers make the best decision for themselves and their families.

1.  Should I still try and sell my home? – Of course, there are many aspects to this question. First and foremost, the health concerns of the sellers’ family have to be taken into consideration. Unless absolutely necessary, the elderly and those with underlying health issues should not allow unnecessary people into their homes; including buyers and agents.  If the household is essentially healthy and not considered high-risk, then this could be a great time to sell. Consider the advantages of lower inventory coupled with low-interest rates; as listings become rarer, the remaining inventory will get more attention which could create better offers.

2. Is it safe to have people through my home? – This is certainly a concern, but there are practical steps you can take to ensure safer home showings.

3. What can I do to protect my family during showings? – Protect the home, family and visitors alike by taking the following precautions.

  • a. Keep hand sanitizer at the front door to offer buyers and their agents when they enter the home.
  • b. If there is a guest bathroom, keep disposable hand towels and soap for guests to use and make the request known to the showing agent.
  • c. Offer disposable gloves for use with a receptacle for used gloves.
  • d. Limit the showing days and hours so you can properly clean between showings.
  • e. Have cleaning wipes handy. Request agents to wipe surfaces, door handles, and banisters which are touched during the showing.
  • f. Ask your agent to offer virtual showings or host virtual open houses

4. What happens if my buyer loses their job? – Most real estate contracts now include, and California is no exception, a contingency for the buyer loan approval and funding. Now more than ever, it’s critical to keep that contingency in place. In the unfortunate event the buyer loses their job or can no longer qualify for the loan during the contingency deadline, the parties cancel typically cancel the contract.

5. Will I get a higher price if I wait to list my home? – The truth is no one knows. We don’t know how long or short the crisis will be and we don’t know how the financial market will weather the outbreak. While this is a question the seller will ultimately need to decide, the old adage about a “bird in the hand” is important to remember.

This spring selling season has proven to have unique circumstances –please contact me to learn more about the current outlook and opportunities in our local market.

New Year Resolutions That Will Help You Buy A Home in 2020

If 2020 is the year for you to buy a home, consider making these 5 New Year’s resolutions to help you be as prepared as possible to become a homeowner.

1. Cut down on monthly subscriptions.

With each month, there is a new subscription service out there. What starts as convenience turns into an endless list of subscriptions that we often don’t use enough to justify the costs. Sit down and go through your monthly/yearly subscriptions and cancel whatever you don’t use. Set aside that extra money with the rest of your savings so your down payment can continue to grow.

2. Build a better credit history.

Paying bills on time and paying off debts will help create a solid credit history. Make sure you have some utilities or rent in your name so that you can pay them on time and continue to build a solid credit history. 

3. Avoid changing careers.

Alongside income, your employment history will be a major factor during your mortgage application evaluation. While a new job could be a good career move, most evaluators are looking for a steady job history with little to no gaps in your employment over the last few years. 

4. Check your credit.

If you don’t know where your credit is at currently, now is the best time to check. Most credit sites will tell you what is impacting your credit, and you can use those tips to change your choices heading into the new year. If large debts are negatively impacting your credit, get started on a pay off plan so your score can improve in the new year.

5. Avoid large purchases.

Your debt-to-credit ratio makes a major impact on your mortgage approval. If you buy a brand new car or fund a large vacation, that ratio could sway in the wrong direction. If you want your lender to be willing to give you the maximum amount possible, make sure you aren’t making any large purchases heading into the new year.

Increase Your Curb Appeal

If you’re preparing to sell your home, curb appeal should be a priority. When someone is walking by or coming to your open house, the outside of your home is the first thing they will see. If there is no curb appeal, potential buyers may never even set foot in your home. Instead of ignoring your home’s outdoor appearance, consider making some budget-friendly changes that can add appeal to your home without breaking the bank. 

1. Landscape Your Walkway

Create a smooth transition from the street to your front door. A clear path will allow a potential buyer’s eye to look straight to your home, rather than stopping to concentrate on unkept landscaping. Clean your walkway and create groupings of mid-size shrubby and florals close to the road and by your front door.

2. Hang a Wreath

Adding a wreath to your front door is a simple way to make your home look more welcoming. Consider a DIY wreath that is easy to create and cost-friendly.

3. Treat Your Lawn Better

Consistent upkeep is the best way to save money when it comes to your front lawn. You should apply a weed-and-feed treatment to your lawn as often as needed to supply the necessary nutrients while also killing off any weeds. Be sure to provide proper maintenance to your lawn mower and keep your mower blade sharp.

4. Add Porch Appeal

If you have a front porch, add an affordable outdoor furniture set. This can create an inviting space that will make potential buyers want to try it out!

5. Consider Color Accents

If your door or shutters need a fresh paint job, consider finding an accent color that will help your house pop. It doesn’t have to be extreme, just enough to catch the eye of a potential buyer. Be sure to test your paint color alongside your siding or brick before fully committing.

6. Restore Your Driveway

Your driveway can be a major eyesore if it isn’t taken care of. Fill any holes or cracks in your asphalt and apply a fresh sealer. A driveway that looks new is sure to help your curb appeal.

7. Power Wash Your Home

Sometimes, all your home needs is a good cleaning. If you don’t own power washer, rent one from your local home improvement store and take a weekend to power wash your entire exterior. Even if your home is relatively new, a deep cleaning can make it look like a new build. 

Simple Tips For Sprucing Up Your Home

You don't need thousands of dollars to fully refurbish your home to make it feel like new again. Instead, you can DIY a lot of features in your house to help spruce it up for the upcoming season. Whether you plan to sell your home, have guests over, or are just tired of how drab it's been feeling lately, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to refresh your space...

CLEAN + DECLUTTER

Throw out all of the junk taking up space! You'd be surprised by how much more you'll fall back in love with your home when you take out the collection of accumulated stuff that has piled up over the years and finally get to see your home's features for what they are. Store what you don't need/use in either the attic, basement, or in a storage unit. After you've decluttered, be sure to finish it off by cleaning your home. Clean windows, walls, and the floors for the best results. 

BRING IN NATURAL LIGHT

Do you have heavy curtains covering your windows? Bring them down! Not only will this make your space feel bigger by removing stuff off the walls, it'll also feel alive again with all of the natural light that pours in. 

ADD FRESH PAINT & COLOR

Nothing refreshes a home like a new coat of paint. If you have dark dull colors, opt for lighter tones. Covering up stains on the walls, or drab old paint, can help your house feel brand new all over again.  Although neutral colors are always recommended as the base of any home decor, don't be afraid to compliment your neutrals with a pop of color. You can add it throughout the home by using flowers, pillows, decor, or even light curtains that are staged on the sides of your windows.  By the way, Color Consults are one of my areas of expertise, so I can help you select the perfect color for your favorite spaces!

ADD TILE

Consider adding a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get beautiful results. Be sure you get tiles that compliment the colors in the space, so it doesn't clash and look unappealing.

CHANGE OUT FIXTURES + HARDWARE

You'd be surprised by how much more a kitchen can look different just by replacing the hardware on the cabinets. A bathroom or living room can come alive again by installing a brand new light fixture. If you moved into a place that still has the same stock hardware or fixtures, replace them and add a little creativity with the new pieces you have installed. 

REARRANGE FURNITURE

Head to Pinterest and get inspired for new living room, bedroom, or dining room arrangements. Most homeowners decorate "incorrectly" when it comes to standard staging rules. View a variety of furniture set-ups on social media and let it motivate you to rearrange your space. You don't have to buy a bunch of new furniture to make a drastic change.

From “I Do” to #Sold

shutterstock_560981152

Newlyweds are saying “I do” to each other, and equate to over half of first time home buyers that are also saying “I do” to their dream homes. It makes sense! When you put two hearts together, the time comes to find a home to nourish that love. A home that brings two of your places together, and makes it one. If you and your spouse are ready to fall in love with the perfect house together, here are five tips to make sure the process goes smoothly, and you come prepared.

1. YOUR WEDDING BUDGET: Your wedding is a one-time event that shouldn’t be less than what you’d imagine. It’s a beautiful time to put all of your dream pieces together. However, it’s best to sit down and find out ways you can shift the budget to help with your down payment for a home, if you plan to purchase. The average couple spends a little over $20,000 on their wedding. Even a savings of $5000 from your wedding budget can help with owning the perfect home.

2. WEDDING GIFTS: Wedding bliss comes with wedding gifts. Let’s admit, one of our favorite times during the wedding season is all of the gifts that come pouring in! Have any friends or family pitching in cash? Save that to put towards your down payment. And depending on the generosity of your gifts, you can even open an account dedicated to your down payment, that friends and family can gift to.

3. GET PRE-APPROVED: One of the least brought up conversations in relationships is the credit and financial history of your soon-to-be spouse. Get together with a lender to go over both of your histories to know what needs to be done to put you guys in a position to own together. In some cases, only one person can get approved, while the other can’t. If you want to put both of your incomes toward the cost of the house you want, talking to a lender early on can ensure you are prepared to make the right moves.

4. THE RIGHT AGENT: That’s where I come in! For starters, I can connect you with a lender to ensure you guys are being watched over from the best recommendations. And it’s an absolute joy to take the stress out of buying a home for my newly wed couples. We all know how stressful, although joyous, a wedding can be. To then jump into buying a house shortly after, well, it’s certainly a lot to get through. But I can guide you through all of the steps to make sure you end up with a house you love. Just think of me as a wedding planner, but for homes.

5. NOW THERE’S TWO: Although some spouses are a match made in heaven, loving and adoring the same exact things, often times that’s not the case with most couples. You still are your own persons, and have your own tastes. This is where the first step to comprise really begins. Spending a good bit of money on a place you both will love and call home. A happy marriage starts with a happy home, so be sure you both are considerate of each other’s wants and needs in style and location, so you both are happy with the home you end up getting.  I have a unique process to help you and your new spouse find THE home that is the best fit for both of you!

 

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