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Must-Have Home Features? It’s Your Call.

By Maria Patterson

shutterstock_444895552An outdoor kitchen. Double sinks in the master bath. A wrap-around porch.  Solar panels. There are just so many things we want our new home to have.

However, when shopping for our dream home, it’s essential to steer the dream a little bit more toward reality. No home will have every single feature you desire, so before you set out on the search, sit down and think hard.

Also think long-term. While certain features may not matter to you, they may weigh heavily in determining your home’s resale value. According to a recent report by Kiplinger, there are seven features that will help sell a home faster: a laundry room; exterior lighting; energy efficient appliances and windows; a patio; hardwood floors; garage storage space; and an eat-in kitchen.

For most of us, our must-haves are rooted in practicality—a classic case of needs vs. wants. Which would explain why some of the most unwanted features in a home, according to a National Association of Home Builders study, include a pet-washing station, an elevator and a wine cellar. Some important musts, therefore, often involve:

  • The number of bedrooms and/or potential to turn a room into an additional bedroom – are you planning on children? Need space for an in-law to move in?
  • The master bedroom – is it big enough for your king bed and does it include a master bath?
  • The number and condition of other bathrooms
  • The yard – how much space and privacy do you need to be happy?
  • The kitchen – do you need a new kitchen with high-tech appliances or are you willing to update down the road?
  • Closet space – is there adequate storage for your current belongings with room to expand?
  • The school district – an obvious factor if you have or are planning to have children, but also important if you don’t as it will affect your home’s resale value
  • Proximity to work – are you willing to commute or is a walkable community a high priority?
  • New construction – are you looking for a maintenance-free environment or the charm of an older home with DIY options?

Of course, your musts are very unique to you and, therefore, may vary from the above. The key factor in determining a must-have from a nice-to-have is whether it is something that can be cost-effectively and efficiently accomplished down the road, such as crown molding or a fire pit. Musts should be those features that are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to handle on your own, such as a bigger garage or a new roof.

Remember that above all, your “dream” home will be the one that grabs you for some intangible reason or for a combination of unexpected features you never knew you wanted until you saw them. So try to keep your must-list to a minimum and your open mind to a maximum—and most of all, enjoy the process.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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Position Yourself as the Local Expert

By Barbara Pronin

shutterstock_379950592Whether you sell real estate in a small suburb or in a major city, it may be easier than you think to successfully position yourself as a local expert. You can start by doing two things:

1. Find a way to offer potential clients a little something extra

2. Find the most effective ways to promote it

Developing an effective relocation resource list is one way to meet the first objective. People who move across town or across the country need to locate courteous, reputable, affordable providers for goods and services ranging from storage facilities and pediatric dentists to dog sitters and fresh croissants. Taking the time and effort to provide them with a viable list of local resources can win you lifelong clients. Three simple steps can get you started:

Gather the content 

Most Chambers of Commerce produce lists of business resources available to the public. Start there and expand your list with recommendations from friends and family as well as from your own experience. While it won’t be practical to include providers in every possible category, decide for yourself which kinds of resources newcomers will most appreciate.

Create a homepage

If you can’t do it yourself, a web page designer can help you create an attractive, well-organized homepage for your guide, including a few links consumers can click on for more information in various categories.

Promote your free resource guide

Begin with a link to your resource homepage posted prominently on your real estate website. You can further promote your guide via blogs, newsletters, and social media outlets, on your ‘Just Listed’ or ‘Just Sold’ postcards, and in service club publications. Inviting consumer input online can result in additional readership. Who doesn’t want to know – or share their opinions – about the best burgers or pizza in town, the best entertainment venues and more?

One broker in a small but industry-heavy region visited the human resources director of every major employer in town, offering her relocation resource guide free of charge in return for having it included in the information packets the company provides to relocating employees. Another broker in a major city paid for ads on a couple of real estate search sites, promising his free resource guide.

Yes, there are relocation specialists providing formal assistance programs to relocating families everywhere. But there are also vast numbers of relocating families who make such moves on their own. An informative website, a timely outreach, and a comprehensive guide to local resources – not to mention that welcoming first-night dinner – may be just what you need to make some lucrative connections.

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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Your Home Maintenance Guide for Every Season

by Jacklyn Renz

With every shift in the season, comes a new to-do list for the home. Just like our health care, home maintenance is best done with preventative measures, consistent upkeep, and small changes. Save money and time by checking off these to-dos for each season.

Spring Checklist

springSpringtime offers manageable weather for most regions, allowing for some much needed exterior upkeep. Give your house’s sides a good once-over, checking for holes in brick, cracks in the siding, or any other damage that could’ve happened over the winter. Inspect the foundation for any cracks, too. Silicone caulking can repair many issues.

Coming off of fall and winter storms means the roof took a beating, so inspect it for leaks or damage. Clean out the gutters while you are up there, and be sure there are no other drainage obstructions. In addition, prepare your air conditioning unit for its summer work by having it inspected and serviced by a professional.

Summer Checklist

summerDepending on your area, summertime can bring in brutal heat and humidity. Insects especially love this weather, so stay on top of pest control with a service or a do-it-yourself spray. The deck and patio will be great hangout spots, so now is the time to pressure wash and re-stain or paint as needed. Check for loose boards while you’re there.

Give your exterior vents and your dryer vents some attention by inspecting and clearing them out. Vacuum the dryer hose to clear out the lint. This is especially important since it’s a possible fire hazard. Make it a point to give your plumbing some attention, too. Check for leaky pipes, poor water pressure, and flush out any rarely used faucets.

Fall Checklist

fallThe fall season gives much of the country lovely temperate weather. Keep up with leaf raking to avoid killing your grass. Flush your hot water heater and clear out any sediment. This is a simple process, with plenty of step-by-step guides on sites such as WikiHow.com. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, seek out a pro. Like your A/C unit, your furnace will need an inspection and possible service before it goes into full swing. Cover your A/C unit with a tarp and bungees to protect it from debris build-up when not in use. If you love the crackle of the fireside, now is the time to have the chimney cleaned. Finally, inspect your driveway and seal any cracks before the winter sets in. Otherwise, frozen water can accentuate the damage.

Winter Checklist

winterAs Jack Frost makes his visit, there are a few little things to keep up with inside your home. Check grout and drains in the bathroom, and fix them as needed. Grease any noisy door hinges or sticking locks. If you have a basement, clean, dust, and inspect. Be sure that nothing got overlooked in the fall, such as opening the outdoor faucets or reinforcing leaky seals around doors or windows.

Make your own custom checklist to keep up with home maintenance year round. Plug in things to your list during the season that works best for you, like checking smoke detector batteries and vacuuming refrigerator coils. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Sources: bhg.com, wikihow.com, artofmanliness.com

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