Monday, November 26, 2012

Bid Adieu to This Old House: How to stage your home for maximum profit

As if purchasing a new home isn’t intense enough, home buyers (with the exception of first-timers) also have to sell their current properties. The fact is, few homes are ready to go on the market as-is.

It’s not just a matter of tidiness – though that’s certainly crucial. It’s about helping potential buyers to connect emotionally with your space. That means making your home welcoming to as many people as possible, often at the cost of your own personal taste. This isn’t easy, but a professional stager can help; your realtor may even have one on staff. If a stager isn’t in the cards, there are steps you can take on your own.
 
First off, de-clutter. Chances are you’ve got twice as much stuff as you need to show your home to its best potential. In addition to removing obvious messes, this includes things like extraneous furniture, children’s toys, knick-knacks and family photos. This can be emotionally difficult, but remember: the goal is to make it easy for potential buyers to imagine their own possessions in your space.
 
Next, fix unfinished projects. If buyers see loose floor tiles and cracks in the wall, they’ll wonder what other issues are lurking under the surface. Don’t give them cause to worry.
 
To make rooms appear larger, replace puffy, over-sized furniture with sleeker pieces. In the bedroom, you’re better off showing a queen-sized bed and two small bedside tables than a king with none. To find the right pieces, you can beg, borrow and, if necessary, lease.
 
Bright paint or outdated wallpaper? Replace them with neutral wall colours and add vibrancy with throw pillows and vases. Splurge on fresh, sweetly scented flowers for an open house; they’ll pay for themselves. Mirrors are a wonderful tool for filling empty walls. And, whatever the d├ęcor in your bathroom, thick white towels will lend a hotel-like vibe.
 
For extra curb appeal, give your front door a fresh coat of paint and temporarily take your storm door off the hinges. Invest in two urns; plant them with pretty, seasonal flowers. In winter, cedar branches draped with ribbon are just as beautiful.
 
I can guarantee that all this work will have a huge payoff, so keep your eyes on the prize. After all, in your brand new home, you can have things exactly the way you want!

Marnie Bennett is the marketing consultant for Bennett Property Shop Realty, a full premium service real estate brokerage specializing in marketing and selling new and resale homes, condominiums and investment real estate. Marnie is the host of the weekly radio show the Real Estate Hour, a millionaire real estate investor and a wealth management coach. bennettpros.com

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marnie Bennett Home Smarts: Opening Yourself to the Possibilities

Marnie Bennett is an exclusive columnist for New Home and Condo. Pick up your FREE copy at news stands and distributors throughout the city of Ottawa. See below for her column "Home Smarts".

Buying a new home in Ottawa is an exciting process with a happy outcome – but to be perfectly honest, it can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. In reality, few of us are able to find our dream home, delve into our bottomless pockets and move in the following day.

While most people have a fixed idea of the type of home in Ottawa they want before they begin searching, it’s surprisingly common for buyers to change their minds mid-search. One person may realize that they’re not as eager to mow a large lawn as they’d thought; another may discover that the detached home they’d dreamed of is beyond their means.

I encourage Ottawa home buyers to become familiar with the different property types on the market, and to keep an open mindset as possibilities are everywhere!

Condominiums - Condos are often purchased by single people and couples without children, with good reason! They offer a maintenance-free style of living that’s ideal for those with busy work and social lives. However, the owner pays a monthly maintenance fee for the privilege known as condo fees. Condominiums tend to come with smaller or no outdoor spaces, but they usually have an abundance of lifestyle amenities such as fitness studios, home theatres, hot tubs, roof top terraces and party rooms – an important consideration for downsizers and active singles.

While we often associate condos with downtown high-rises, they are increasingly popular in suburban areas; they may be townhomes, semis or even detached homes, and are common in adult-oriented gated communities. Condominium is actually a legal definition referring to the method of ownership, not the type of building. When you purchase a condo, the interior space of your home belongs to you. “Common elements” such as elevators, recreational facilities and outside grounds are jointly owned by you and the other homeowners in your condominium community.

Detached homes - A fully detached home provides the most privacy and, often, the most space of any home type. New detached homes are commonly built on lot sizes between 35 and 60 feet, although some new home builders – particularly custom home builders – may offer larger lot sizes.

Semi-detached homes - A semi-detached home is joined to another home on one side. If you’re having trouble finding a detached home in your budget, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised with some of the semi-detached homes on the market. They often offer similar layouts and features for a lower price, due to lower construction costs and marginally smaller lot sizes. If privacy is a concern for you, be sure to tour the builder’s homes to observe how sound travels from one home to the next. Most modern semis and townhomes provide good sound insulation.

Town homes - Like semi-detached homes, town homes often offer more than you might expect. Many condominium townhomes are “executive-style”, boasting high-end finishes. Condominium terrace townhomes are “stacked”, with upper units providing a large balcony or roof-top patio instead of a yard. Non-condominium townhomes, known as “freehold”, offer more freedom to change the landscaping and outer appearance of your home.

Happy hunting!

Marnie Bennett is the marketing consultant for Bennett Property Shop Realty, a full premium service real estate brokerage specializing in marketing and selling new and resale homes, condominiums and investment real estate. Marnie is the host of the weekly radio show the Real Estate Hour, a millionaire real estate investor and a wealth management coach. bennettpros.com