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Easy Kitchen and Bath Updates to Help Sell Your Home

Springtime is one of the best times to sell a home in the Lowcountry. The weather is warmer, which can bring more showings, and inventory is low, which raises your chances of selling quickly. Even though Charleston real estate has recently hit record-breaking numbers, it is important to pay attention to what buyers are looking for. Simply listing your home without considering buyers' wants and needs could lead to more days on the market and lower offers. Two things that top the list of buyers' rants and raves are kitchens and bathrooms. If remodeling/renovating isn't in your budget, worry not! We've got some less costly, simpler options. In fact, the smallest details sometimes make all the difference.

Kitchen

Change cabinet hardware. This is a super easy way to update the look of a kitchen (or a bath). Check out your local hardware store or shop online for literally thousands of options at any price point.

Replace countertops. Stay with us here; replacing counters doesn't have to be a budget buster. There are lots of less expensive options out there right now. Even laminate countertops have gotten a modern look.

Paint or redo cabinets. A deep cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for outdated cabinets. Skim through a few decor blogs and magazines to get an idea of what buyers might be looking for.

Replace worn flooring. Sometimes, something as simple as swapping out vinyl for ceramic tile can give a kitchen or bath a whole new look. Ceramic tile can be purchased for less than a dollar per square foot, and it's not difficult to DIY it in a weekend.

Make sure things are cohesive. If you don't have a decorator's eye, recruit a friend or your Realtor to point out any issues that stick out.


Bath

Clean up tiles. Scrub grout and replace cracked or broken tiles. A little elbow grease goes a long way toward making a bathroom look new again.

Replace faulty or dated fixtures. Consider swapping out a plain, dull faucet for a shiny new modern look. Switch out rusty screws in any other fixtures. Even installing a new toilet seat can make a difference.

Add a large mirror. Interior designers have relied on this trick for a long time. If your bathroom is on the small side, a large mirror will create the illusion of space and light.

Paint walls and ceilings. A fresh coat of neutral paint is a must, especially if the decor is based on a theme or motif. Buyers don't want to see your personal touch. They want to see a neutral space that they can make their own.

While these two rooms are wildly different in terms of usage, the general idea should be the same: make it modern yet comfortable. What are some other easy, inexpensive improvements you've made recently? Tell us in the comments section below!

14 More Hacks for Homeowners

Need a way to hide your television when it's not in use? Tired of wrangling those paperclips and rubberbands? Sometimes the easiest solution is the best solution! Our previous post on homeowner hacks was so popular that we thought we'd bring you a few more. Read on for a new list of 14 hacks for homeowners.

1. Can't figure out where the studs are in your walls? Studs are typically 16 inches apart. Find one, and you're golden!

2. Keep locks from seizing by spraying with Teflon once a year.

3. Televisions can bring down the decor in a room. We love these ideas for hiding them when not in use. 

4. Clean stove vents in a jiffy. In a stainless steel pot, bring water to a boil. Add baking soda until you get a good fizz. With a pair of tongs, dip the vents in for about a minute. If they’re too big to fit in the pot, do one side at a time.

5. Never misplace paint colors again! Stick a piece of painter’s tape on the back of a light switch cover. With a permanent marker, write the color name, swatch number, and date. Include a piece of the color swatch if desired.

6. Turn your shower into a spa by hanging a sprig of eucalyptus from the shower head. 

7. Never lose another thumbtack or paperclip. Use a spice rack to organize small office supplies or craft items. 

8. Keep track of nails when hanging pictures by gluing a magnet to the bottom of your hammer.

9. Ants in the sandbox? Add about a cup of ground cinnamon. It does wonders to keep bugs out.

10. Speaking of bugs, burn a little bundle of sage in your outdoor fire pit to keep pesky mosquitoes and gnats away.

11. Save money on dryer sheets. Soak a cloth in fabric softener and hang it out to dry for a couple of days. Instead of using fabric softening sheets, add the dried cloth to every dryer load. You should get about 30 uses out of it.

12. Mount a small wire basket under a desk to keep a power strip off the floor and out of sight.

13. Tired of basic brass doorknobs? Give them new life with a paint like Rustoleum Oil Rubbed bronze spray.

14. Clean baseboards with dryer sheets. It keeps dust from sticking, lengthening the time between cleanings.

There you have it! What other hacks can you think of for homeowners who need a quick fix?

 

Image courtesy of papaija2008 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Charleston Real Estate by the Numbers // February 2015

February home sales hit the 1,000 mark this year. The last time this happened was February 2006! 

"For several years, the tri-county region has been the focus of worldwide attention and now, our local economy is enjoying the benefits," says 2015 CTAR President, Matt DeAntonio. "Through the efforts of organizations like the Charleston CVB, the Chambers of Commerce, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) as well as the local colleges and universities, Charleston has been well marketed and it has resulted in an influx of business, industry and people to our area. Whether coming to retire, to work, or to simply enjoy living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the buyers are speaking—Charleston is the place to call home."

Homeownership by the numbers

Last-Minute Showing? No Sweat!

Living in a house that’s for sale isn’t the most ideal situation in the world. It can be hard to balance regular home life with showings, especially if you have children or pets, but there are a few things you can do to keep your house show-ready at all times. For instance, pack away items that don’t get daily use. You’ll be packing them up later for your move anyway. Get family members into the habit of making their beds and tossing dirty clothes into a hamper or basket. While it’s important to be prepared for a viewing at any moment, however, sometimes you find yourself in the middle of a post-lunch, pre-laundry home and a request to view the house in half an hour. Don’t fret! Keep your sanity with our show-ready checklist. Whether you have fifteen minutes or an hour, there’s plenty of time to make the house presentable. 

 
If you have…
 
15 minutes
  • Tidy up any unmade beds
  • Throw clutter and laundry into a basket and put into the car
  • Empty all garbage
  • Close toilet seats
  • Give counters a quick wipe down
  • Turn on all lights and open curtains to let in natural light
 
1 hour
  • Do all of the 15-minute items, and…
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep and spot mop
  • Clean all glass and mirrors
  • Clean toilets and wipe down tubs
  • Clear off the kitchen counters
  • Wipe down cabinet fronts
  • Sweep and tidy front porch or stoop
 
Sure, last-minute showings can be inconvenient for sellers, but try your hardest not to turn them down. You never know; the next person who views your home could be your buyer!

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Investing in Real Estate

So you’ve decided to get in on the real estate investment game. Great! Real estate is one of the best investments you can make, but before you make the big decision to become a landlord or a flipper, you have to have a plan. As with any investment, there are risks and benefits. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you decide whether or not you’re really ready to invest in real estate.
 
Am I really ready?
Being an experienced homeowner doesn’t magically make you ready to become an investor. Buying and owning investment property is very different from buying and owning a primary residence. This is not the “get rich quick” plan some tout it to be. Millenials are especially vulnerable to this myth. Don’t fall victim to those home improvement reality shows; there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes there. Owning an investment property is hard work. There are also many liabilities involved. Landlords must comply with fair housing regulations, building codes, and safety measures.
 
Do I have enough cash on hand?
Investing in real estate is a whole new financial ballgame. If you’re not paying cash for the house, you’ll need enough cash for a down payment and any other closing costs not paid by the seller. If you buy a fixer-upper, make sure your cash on hand exceeds whatever budget you set up. (And yes, having a budget is an absolute must.) Unexpected issues almost always crop up during renovation. You’ll also need to set money aside for regular maintenance and emergency repairs. If you rent the house out, a good rule of thumb is to put 10% of each month’s rent into an escrow account to prepare for any emergencies. Other expenses to prepare for are water/sewer, garbage pickup, and utilities (unless you leave those up to the tenant, which many landlords do), accounting, evictions, vacancies, possible legal fees, and capital improvements.
 
Am I prepared to deal with tenants?
Of course there are dream tenants who pay their rent on time each month and take care of your property like its their own. But let’s face it. If you own it for a while, you’ll probably end up with problem tenants at some point. A good landlord cannot be a doormat. Don’t let your sympathetic side get the best of you, because some tenants will take advantage of it. Don’t just threaten them with late fees and eviction; follow through. That brings us to the next question…
 
Will you manage your investment yourself or hire a property management company?
If you’re not sure you can check your sympathy and anxiety at the door, you can always turn the property over to a management company. They can find tenants and take care of all communication and financial dealings. A good property manager will decrease vacancy and have a working relationship with vendors to make repairs less expensive. Most companies take around 10% of the monthly rent for their management fee, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.
 
Do you have a plan and an exit strategy?
Don’t go into this blindly. Know what you’re going to do with your investment property and how long you will keep it. Because the housing market is constantly changing, you have to give yourself options. If you’re new to real estate investing, consider yourself a startup. Make a business plan with an end goal. Things might change along the way, but at the very least, you’ll have something to aim for.

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