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Ten Steps to a Sold Home

When selling a house, homeowners want to know the secret to a quick sale and money in their pocket. The secret is simply creating the best possible first impression. In today’s competitive real estate market, it is important to prepare your house so it stands out from the competition. Spending a little time and money to prepare it can help you sell your house quicker and for top dollar.

Before you put your house on the market, consider the following steps to a sold house:

1. Hire a Home Inspector: A competent home inspector will thoroughly inspect your house for possible repairs that you may need to fix when preparing your home for the market. In most cases, buyers do not want to move in and make repairs and improvements. They want “model-ready” and the items that need fixing, they will want an allowance. In the long run, it pays to know what to expect and rectify the problems that potential buyers will want repaired before signing on the dotted line.

2. Update & Make Improvements: Updating your house could be as simple as changing the light fixtures to remodeling a kitchen or bath. Improvements will give your house an updated appearance that potential buyers look for when purchasing a home.

3. Replace Carpeting: Replacing worn-out carpeting is very important for the overall appearance. When buyers walk through a home for sale, they will immediately start deducting every item that needs replaced from the price of the house. A lot of home sellers believe that giving an allowance for items that need to be replaced will be an added incentive. However, the negative impact of worn-out, dated items could be the cause of a lost sale.

4. Rent a Storage Unit or Use a Friend’s Garage: Most sellers will need to remove about half of their furnishings and accessories. The goal is to increase the appearance of square footage by removing these pieces. A room with fewer items will appear larger.

5. Fresh Paint: One of the least expensive ways to get a fresh, clean, up-dated look is to paint. Home buyers want a home that is in “move-in ready” condition. To make the rooms appear larger and appealing to most, use neutral color paint such as sand or taupe.

6. Update the Front Door: The front entrance to your house should look as inviting as possible. Your goal, of course, is for the potential buyers to make it passed the front door and into the house. This means that the front door should either be replaced or freshly painted depending on its condition. You may want to also consider replacing the handle if necessary.

7. Curb Appeal: Apply fresh mulch, trim all bushes and add colorful flowers in the front beds and beside the front door.

8. Clean, Clean, Clean and Then Clean Some More: If you do nothing to prepare your house for the market, at least make sure it is squeaky clean. Hire a professional cleaning service, do whatever is takes to work top to bottom, inside and out cleaning things you never knew were there. The windows need to sparkle, the floor needs to shine, carpets and drapery should be spotless or replaced.

9. De-clutter & De-personalize: Staging your house to sell is completely different than decorating your home in which to live. This step is where your storage unit will come in handy. Remove unnecessary furniture and accessories that cause clutter or make the room appear smaller. Remove all personal items such as family photos, awards or personal collections. Potential buyers need to be able to visualize their family living in the home and not be distracted by the current seller’s personal belongings.

10. Sell your House: This is, of course, the most important step. If you have followed all of the preceding steps, you have just maximized the potential of a sold house and money in your pocket.

The Basics in Making Home Improvement Plans

There is always something about your existing house that could be improved further. Psychologically speaking, this is the feeling most homeowners have all the time. Many home improvement plans begin with someone in the family expressing a wish for a modified kitchen or an additional study room or redesigned bedroom to provide more space to accommodate some additional furniture. Most homeowners consider home improvements for one of these reasons.

Again, home improvement plans get started because something in the home is broken and in need of repairs. Go over every part of your home at least once a year. Check out the roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as you notice a problem, fix it immediately as a stitch in time saves nine. Early attention to repairs will help you avoid a larger expense later on. Remember maintenance does not add to the value of home as periodic repairs are not improvements but necessities.

Home improvement projects are quite expensive. Hiring professionals who have experience can save you both money and time. Word-of-mouth is a good way to start looking for contractors. Check with friends, business associates and neighbors for recommendations. Make sure everyone in the house is in agreement about design, schedule and budget. You may also need to check out with local town planning authorities for any changes in plan, if adding an extra room or extended construction. You might have to obtain permission and get plans sanctioned before you start any major remodeling on your existing house.

If your intention is to undertake structural changes like adding or removing walls or a complex redesigning, you will probably want an architect. Architects also could suggest a contractor who is cost-effective and is good. Generally contractors work on oral agreements but it would still help to draw up an agreement if you are planning large-scale remodeling of your home. Make sure that the contractor will also help you in obtaining the necessary sanctions from the concerned authorities, if you do not have the time and the knowledge to do it.

You want your home improvement plans to be really meaningful and you have the money to spend, hire an interior designer. Interior designers can help you decide on the furniture furnishings and other artifacts that will reflect your individual taste and enhance the home decor. You’ll be happiest with the outcome of a home improvement plan if you spend time to carefully do your homework. There are several categories that home improvement plans fall into. For instance, structural changes include foundation issues, siding repair and roofing. Compliance with regulations of homeowners associations should receive priority. Some associations are very keen on protesting and heavily fining homeowners for violations. This will just take away funds from your home improvement budget, so be sure that you are following regulation codes. Some home improvements are necessary just to make living inside the home more convenient.

Then there are the cosmetic touches where most of us truly revel. Aesthetics are important in ensuring the overall quality of living in your home. There are always bedrooms that need additional decor. The younger members may clamor that old wallpaper in the master bedroom is changed to something more fanciful.

Improving to sell your home is easier if you can draw up a list of remodeling plans that buyers are likely to find valuable like – adding or remodeling a bathroom, improving the kitchen, adding an extra room or beautifying the garden. But if you are remodeling in order to stay in your home, you need to avoid over-spending. You’ll probably sell someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, you may not succeed in convincing prospective buyers to part with extra money for the things you spent in improving your home. Keep the value of other homes in the area in mind whenever you consider improvements to your own home.

Investing in Son’s Business Could Cause a Real Family Feud

Q: My youngest son wants to borrow $5,000 to start his own business. My wife is afraid to tell him no. She thinks we should just give him the money and not expect anything in return. I disagree. He doesn’t have a very good track record with money, so I’m a little worried that my investment will be lost. Should I loan him the money and hope for the best or just tell him no and hope he doesn’t get too upset?

A: The first thing you need to do, Jeff, is determine if this money would be offered to your son in the form of a gift, loan or investment. The very wording of your question tells me that you have not yet made that all-important distinction.

It sounds like your wife wants to make a gift of the money, expecting nothing in return but the undying love of her last born son.

You, on the other hand, don’t know if you should offer the money as a loan (should I loan him the money) or as an investment (worried that my investment will be lost).

Until you can make that distinction, your money should remain in the bank.

I have a very simple rule when it comes to loaning money to relatives: NEVER, EVER loan money to anyone you might have to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner.

“Son, pass me that dressing and tell everybody the story of how you blew your old dad’s retirement money…”

A loan from a relative is no different than a loan from a bank. You, Mr. Banker, are giving your son, Mr. Borrower, the use of your money for a specific period of time and you fully expect the loan to be paid back under specific terms, even if his business goes south. Sure, you will probably be a little more forgiving than a bank when the loan goes unpaid, but the damage to your personal relationship could be extreme and hard to repair.

In the most basic of terms if you loan your son the money you become the creditor and he becomes the debtor. Have you ever heard of a creditor and debtor having a very good relationship? Has Visa ever called you up just to ask how you’re doing? Has your mortgage company ever named a kid after you? Probably not.

The same rule applies with investing in a relative’s business. I have raised money for several business ventures and not once did I ever think about asking my relatives to chip in. The last thing I’d ever want to do is lose my mother’s yard sale money. I’d never hear the end of it!

An investment is made with the understanding that your money is totally at risk with no guarantee of return. Even under the best of conditions an investment in any business is a gamble. You are betting your money that the business will be successful and that you will get a payback at some point in the future.

Hug your money real tight before making the investment, because if the business doesn’t make it, you will never see your money again.

You and your wife also seem very worried about making your son mad, which raises another huge red flag for me. If your son isn’t mature enough to take the word “no” without getting upset, he’s certainly not mature enough to start and run a business. Unless that business is a bicycle paper route, and even then I wouldn’t put my money on his chances of success.

The bottom line is this: if you can afford to give your son the money and can do so without attaching strings to it, then by all means give him the money and wish him well. Encourage his entrepreneurial spirit and support him as a parent should.

Do not, however, expect anything in return and never bring up the money again, especially if he’s the one carving the turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Here’s to your success!