Design Tips for Upgrading Your Sunroom

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Design Tips for Upgrading Your Sunroom

The bones of your sunroom are all there – windows, floors, ceiling and maybe even some classy seating arrangements. But your sunny lounging space still needs something, whether it’s a touch of personality, a bright shot of color or revamped flooring. Up for the challenge of upgrading your sunroom? Get inspired with these tips and tricks!

Big Changes for Big Effects

Take a good look at your space. What do you see? The “bones” of your space set the tone for everything that goes in it: this includes flooring, wall color (or wall finish), ceiling, and other architectural elements that give your room its distinctive atmosphere. Tile and stained concrete are both tempting options for sunroom floors since they lend a breezy, sophisticated atmosphere to a sunshiny space.

Overhaul Your Floor with Tile

If you’re looking to make a big impact with your floor, tile is a fantastic choice—it’s sophisticated, you can do it yourself (with a bit of practice and know-how), and your options are endless. Opt for a cozy, rustic brick feel, or perhaps Moroccan elegance with colorful tiles boasting a cool, casual feel. This Old House offers step-by-step instructions to lay your own tile floor. Keep in mind that when you’re laying your own tile, the simpler the pattern, the better.

Treat Your Walls

For a Tuscan feel, go with a light Tuscan plaster wall treatment, and offset the coziness of your wall color with breezy, cream-colored sheer curtains or other light window treatments. Coupled with sophisticated furniture, you’ll love your understated Italian-inspired getaway, but make sure you don’t overdo the accessories and clutter up the look.

Create an Atmosphere with Accessories Alone

If you live in an apartment or a rental home that doesn’t lend itself to major overhauls, you still have plenty of options for updating your sunroom’s look. ForRent.com offers countless ideas for designing your rented space. Something as simple as new patio cushions, candlesticks, brightly-colored pillows, or wall art can make your space look like something out of a design magazine. The best part about this kind of design: It’s easy to overhaul your look without repainting! Just view your space as a blank canvas, and fill it with colors and textures representing the style you love.

Photo by Wickerfurniture via Flickr

Patio Cushions and Curtains

If you’re handy with a needle and thread, sew your own patio cushions and curtains without paying the exorbitant prices that custom design firms charge. Check out SewMamaSew for step-by-step instructions to sew your own patio cushions.

Centerpieces/Decorative Accents

Paint is your friend here. The hardest part about this step is harnessing your creativity, so choose a palette and run with it. Try picking up some old candlesticks from an antique store or flea market, then update them with high-gloss paint. Going for a beachy feel? Print a few sepia-toned beach shots you took on your last vacation, then frame them in simple wooden frames you’ve painted to match your style.

Woodworking Projects

Repurpose an old wood pallet into a coffee table that adds rustic style, or build a space-saving entertainment center that makes entertaining guests easy even if you don’t have a bar or serving area.

Photo by Wickerfurniture via Flickr

Tips For Negotiating With Sellers

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Tips For Negotiating With Sellers

If you dread the negotiating process when buying a home, never fear. Your real estate agent is an experienced negotiator who helps keep the bargaining from becoming emotional and veering off track.

Your agent must know your desires by heart and have quick access to you if a negotiation point needs to be made. It’s important to stick to the strategy you and your agent have agreed upon — showing the seller how strong your offer is.

First, get preapproved for a mortgage loan. That means your mortgage lender has reviewed your credit history and assets, checked employment and income, examined your debt-to-income ratios, and has preapproved you for a certain amount, terms and interest rate so you know exactly how much you can spend.

Being preapproved shows sellers that you are prepared and able to buy. Before you submit an offer, ask your agent to find out more what the seller wants as far as terms. The more your offer matches up with the seller’s requests, such as a closing date, the more likely your offer will be accepted.

Find out when the house will be vacated, if any repairs or improvements are planned, and if the seller has any pressure points such as a relocation deadline. Also, you’ll want to review the seller’s disclosure of the condition of the property.

Your agent must also find out if other offers are on the table. Your position is stronger if there are no other offers. The seller may be less likely to bend on price concessions or repairs if there are other offers.

Have your agent pull up the most recent CMA (comparable homes recently sold or on the market) within a reasonable radius of the home, so you can sculpt your offer price. Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples in terms of updates, size of the home, amenities, location, schools districts, etc.

Once these steps are made, you are ready to write an offer.

Making the offer

Make yourself think like the seller. It helps you anticipate what the seller will accept in price, terms, and other conditions. By considering the seller’s position, you will likely create an offer that is either accepted or strongly considered.

Your offer should be clear on the terms, closing dates, repair requests or other conditions the seller needs to meet and it should be accompanied by a letter from your lender that you are preapproved to buy the seller’s home. Include a cover letter summarizing your strengths as a buyer in terms of creditworthiness, flexibility in closing, and the strength of the offer.

Don’t insult the seller with an offer that’s too low or requires too many concessions. The seller may be nostalgic about his or her life in the house and may not like the idea that you want to remodel.

The only thing a seller can’t argue with is a strong set of comparables that show the home is overpriced or out of date. These are homes that have sold that are nearby (within two blocks) and similar in age, size and features. If you can show that a similar home has sold within the last two months for less than the seller is asking, that’s good.

Be sure all conditions, repairs, etc. are agreed to in writing. Some sellers may feel that a handshake covers a promise, but it’s essential to be clear on paper what is expected and when. A seller’s promise to paint should be included as an addendum to the contract and include all details, such as primer, exact color and type of paint, how many coats, and when the work will be finished for inspection.

Negotiating after inspections

The offer is negotiated and accepted, the earnest money is at the escrow agent’s office. Now the inspections occur, and this is where the contract negotiations can break down.

No home is perfect, not even brand-new construction. During the inspection process, the inspector is usually required to tell you about any condition of appliances, heating and cooling systems, roofs, electrical and plumbing systems, etc, and if your future home is up to current city codes.

Sellers are usually not required to bring a house completely up to current local building codes. Negotiate a repair only when a system is unsafe or a major repair is needed to make the system operate effectively.

As long as the seller has a reasonable explanation of what your position is and why, and communication remains open, the seller should have as much desire to make the contract work as you do.

Home Seller Tips To Having A Successful Open House

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Home Seller Tips To Having A Successful Open House

Holding an open house for your soon-to-be-listed or newly on the market home is a lot like being on a game show where edging out the other contestants in a short period of time is key. In TV game shows, such as “Jeopardy,” the contestants don’t automatically know answers to so many trivia questions; they study and they plan and they make it appear to viewers like they walk around with that body of knowledge every day. Open houses need to be thought of similarly. Once your home is on the market, an open house is your opportunity to plan and strategize how you are going to win over buyers in very short time.

Even in a strong real estate market where houses sell quickly, it’s still important to ask your agent to hold as many open houses as possible until the home sells. One reason is that even buyers with agents still like to look at homes on their own without feeling the pressure of a home tour. Sometimes their agent is out of town when your house goes on the market. Many buyers are not represented by an agent and the only way for them to tour a home is through an open house. Your agent will plan the open house to include everything from signage to freshly baked cookies. As a seller, you should take the following steps:

Depersonalize

Back to the game show analogy, think of depersonalizing as studying the answers and questions before trying out for “Jeopardy.” Your house is lovely for how you live in it, but buyers don’t want to see you in your house. In fact, the more your house makes it difficult to guess who lives there (age, religion, gender etc), the better. Take down personal photos, religious emblems, the cute collection of mini ceramic frogs, etc. Analyze your stuff for whether it’s morally, politically, or otherwise socially objectionable and remove all of it. You don’t want to eliminate buyers because they are turned off by your personal tastes.

Declutter

While you are depersonalizing it’s also a good time to declutter as the two go hand in hand. The more simple and understated your home is, the more likely buyers can see the home for what it is and imagine themselves in it. When you have too much stuff cluttering walls and counters and shelves, buyers turn their focus toward those things and sometimes even make the assumption in logic that if you are cluttery, then you are disorganized, which means maybe you don’t take care of the house as well or as on time as you should. A good rule of thumb is to box up or store at least half of the smaller items displayed in your home.

For example, how much is on your kitchen counter right now? Now imagine reducing that number to just three things. What would you choose to keep versus store? Some sellers are benefited by going to other open houses in their area and looking at how other people have decluttered and arranged what is left. Online pictures, such as what is found on Pinterest, can help too. Often you can get some good ideas on what works visually just by seeing how others do it. When you are all done decluttering, clean your home like never before because buyers notice dirt and grime. Hire a maid service if you have to.

Lure Them In

The outside of your home is as important as the inside, especially the front entry area. Before an open house, take care of simple yard maintenance such as mowing, edging and weeding flower beds. A fresh layer of mulch adds color especially in winter months when not much is blooming. At your front door, clean off spider webs, blown leaves, and place a large, colorful pot of annuals or anything you can buy in season.

Complete Your Honey-Do List

While you have the yard power tools out, dust of your workbench and take a walk around your house inside and out. Make a list of all maintenance issues such as wiggly door handles, missing fascia, paint that has chipped, etc. and repair them before the open house. Buyers see even the smallest of maintenance issues as an extension of the condition of larger items such as roofs, plumbing and major appliances and assume you haven’t taken care of the home. You might talk to your realtor about a pre-inspection to deal with all home maintenance and problems upfront, before you get into contract with a buyer.

Be Cautious

Once you have taken the above steps and you are ready for the actual open house, there’s one last thing to plan. Protecting your valuables and identity. It might be rare, but criminals do use open houses as a way to case a house or to find collateral to steal identities. Make sure indoor safes are locked and hidden. Store heirlooms, checkbooks, prescriptions, and valuable jewelry away from prying eyes. Utilize a reliable, trustworthy, identity theft protection service to see you through the entire listing and sales process.