Improving Your home for $1,000 or Less

I posted an article on my Facebook Page last Spring that I think is still very valuable so I thought I’d share it with you.  Yahoo Real Estate has piece that they got from Kiplinger that I’m now sharing with you that says you can Improve Your Home for $1,000 or Less.  What a great concept.

1. Make Over Cabinets in your Kitchen…….Some fresh paint on the cabinets and a new bright wall color does wonders for an instant update.

2. Create an Office Nook – I’ve seen some fabulous closet re-dos that have added a great space for an office nook. It’s an instant update and it’s a great way to organize and keep your family running with ease. This even works as a great place for homework and fun/games. I love this idea!

3. Reclaim Your Garage. My family and I have spent a few days working on exactly this.  We had accumulated so much stuff but hadn’t taken the time to find a good home for it.  We added hooks for the kids bikes, shelves for our seasonal items and more shelves and hooks for rakes, brooms, hoses and the all important golf clubs.  We can now pull into the garage and get out…..It’s Awesome!

4. Organize your closet. Ok, this one is next on my list.  I dont’ know about you, but my kids are terrible about hanging their clothes up.  I’ve decided it would be much easier for everyone if the kids had more shelves in their closet and dividers or baskets to keep it organized.  Imagine a laundry day with no arguing over putting clothes away……I know I’m dreaming, but why not?

5. Update your Lighting.  New lighting makes a huge change to any room.  Your new lights can be as trendy as you want them to be and there’s no question that the update is financially worth the investment.

Posted in Home Improvement | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What is Curb Appeal and Why is it Important?

Curb appeal can best be describes as “Love at First Sight”. It’s the feel you and your guests get when they pull up to your home.  It’s also the first thing a potential buyer sees when they look up your home on-line.  If they don’t like what they see they won’t look any further.

1. First things first. The exterior of your home needs to be clean.  Get out the power sprayer and remove the grime.  Once you’ve cleaned the siding wash the windows and sweep the side walk.  These are easy and inexpensive ways to get started

2. Next it’s important to have a clear path to your front entrance.  If you don’t already have a front walk you can create one with large flat rocks, patio pavers or even small rocks with a border.  If you have a path make sure you’ve put a clean edge on it and removed any weeds.  It also helps to add some detail such as shrubs, outdoor lighting and nice architectural elements.

3. Landscaping is the next best place to improve your curb appeal.  Dig up or trim back old over-grown shrubs.  Pull weeds and mulch for instant gratification.  If funds allow you may want to invest in a new flower bed or start from scratch with the old beds.  If you have a mailbox out front make sure it’s clean and has a fresh coat of paint on it as well.  Two large pots, one on either side of the front entry will add a punch of color and welcome your guests.

4. Once it’s a pleasant experience to get to the front door you need to ask yourself if the front door itself is inviting.  Do you have a screen door? If so, is it in good condition? Upgrading the front door is a great way to enhance the exterior look of your home.  Make sure it matches the style of your home and if this isn’t an option paint can do so much.  Re-paint the door in a color that enhances the appeal of your home (Chocolate Brown, Red and Black are great choices) and add new hardware.

5. Lighting can add an instant update.  Take down those outdated brass globes and replace them with new and current fixtures.  If it isn’t in the budget to replace what you have, clean your lights, shine up the metal with polish or paint and replace the bulbs.

Don’t forget a nice door mat out front to help keep the dirt and leaves outside where they belong.  Your home now says WELCOME!

Posted in Home Owners and Sellers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Number 7 Best City for High Paying Jobs

Kiplinger reports that Cedar Rapids, IA is 7 on the list of the 12 Best Cities for High Paying Jobs.

According to Kiplinger Cedar Rapids anchors the Midwestern Tech, Health Care and Finance sectors.  This is big as all 3 of those sectors are hiring. 

See Kiplingers Report for more details:

12 Best Cities for High Paying Jobs

Posted in Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Do I Need to Worry About Radon?

Radon is the leading cause of lunger cancer for non-smokers.  It is also the second leading cause for lung cancer in the general population. So Yes, we should be concerned about Radon.  How does it get into my home?  Radon enters your home through cracks in the floors, walls or foundations.  Very often it enters through the sump pump pit in your basement.  Testing is the only way you will know if you have high radon levels.

Has your home been tested?  It’s quite possible that you may have had a test done when you bought your current home.  As a Buyers Realtor, I always recommend that my buyers have a test done prior to purchasing a home.  If not, don’t worry you can still have it tested.  The EPA has said that levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L are dangerous and should be mitigated.

How Do I Test My Home?  You have a couple of different options.  You can get an enexpensive test for $10 – $90 depending on the kit.  You can lso hire an inspector to do the test for you.  They will intall a machine in the basement or the lowest level of the home that will run for 2-3 days taking readings.  Once they get results from the readings, the numbers are averaged.  This average number is what’s used to determine if radon mitigation is needed.  The cost of a radon inspection is around $130.

Now you’re asking How do I get rid of radon and what it is mitigation?  Radon Mitigation is the process of removing radon from the home.  Radon mitigation should be done by a licensed professional.  The professional will install a piping system in the lowest point in your home and pipe it through your home through the roof.  There is usually a motor installed on the roof that then pumps the gases out.  There are standards as to how the system is run and where it goes.  Below you will find a few links that will guide you further.  The costs of a radon mitigation system usually run anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500.  I usually suggest to my clients that they run the sysem in a place that is hidden such as through closets or the garage.  The pipe isn’t the most attractive and why ruin the look of your home by running it outside and up an exterior wall when you can hide it.

Once you’ve tested and mitigated please remember to retest to make sure the results come back below 4.0pCi/L.  Below are the links I mentioned earlier.  Here’s to healthier air in your home!

State Radon Guide

EPA Radon Regulations

Radon Mitigation Specialists

Posted in New Homebuyers | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Average Sale Price in the Cedar Rapids Area Drops in 2011

“WHAT!!!” Yes, it is true.  Home sale prices in 2011 did drop over the year prior.  According to Trend Graphics, the average sale price for homes in the Cedar Rapids area in 2010 were $158,000; last year the average sale price dropped to $151,000.  What does this mean?  Well, two things: You may have sold your home for less last year than you would have the year prior, but you probably gained that money back if you bought another home in our area.

Families are still  moving and with interest rates so low it makes perfect sense why.  Nearly 3,700 homes sold in the Cedar Rapids area in 2011.  Will you move in 2012?  If you do, expect to negotiate between 3-5% on the purchase/sale of your home.  Buyers want a deal and in the current market they have every right.

Homes in the Cedar Rapids area are on the market an average of 98 days, so be patient and get ready because that buyer will come and they will buy.  It might just take a little longer then it did five years ago.  This year looks to be a great year in real estate and with no snow on the ground buyers are out looking and planning for their move.

Posted in Local Market Activity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment