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Top 10 Home Apps to Download Now

With smartphones, wireless technology, and nearly continuous connectivity, the options to help you manage and upgrade your home are just a click away. Dozens of free or low-cost home apps can help with every project and chore – ranging from starting a budget-friendly luxury home design project to managing your smart home technology.

But which ones are the best to download? There are literally millions of apps available—including 1.6 million for Android devices and over 1.5 million apps for Apple devices—and it can be challenging to even stumble upon the ones that are useful. Here, we’ve gathered 10 of our favorites that are both easy to use and helpful for managing, maintaining and upgrading your home.

SnapGuide
snapguide

Snapguide app for DIY projects

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: DIY Home projects

This how-to app is a crowd-sourced guide of home design projects. It contains everything from refreshing furniture with colorful paint and homemade throw pillows to more complex projects like building a stone fireplace with a wood-burning stove or a barn door. There are also snap guides for gardening, cooking, entertaining, and more. You can show off your own handiwork by creating your own guide to share through the app.

TapPainter

tappainter-ipad-header
Tappainter app for home decor

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: Home design – painting

Adding paint in the right color can make your space feel vibrant and fresh. But it can feel intimidating to add interior color other than a new shade of white or beige. TapPainter is a home app that lets you try out new hues before shelling out for the gallons of custom-mixed color. Take a photo of your space and TapPainter will analyze the change in interior lighting and adjust the color brightness based on the lighting in the photo. You’ll instantly see if that rich red will make the room too dark, or if that bright yellow looks sickly fluorescent. And you won’t have to fear adding color on your walls.

ColorSnap Visualizer

colorsnap-visualizer
ColorSnap Visualizer from Sherwin-Williams

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home design – painting

Some of the most harmonious color combinations are found in nature—think of a beautiful mountain landscape, a beach scene, the desert, or an open field of wildflowers. With this Sherwin-Williams branded home app, you can take any one of your favorite photos and use it for paint color inspiration. The app will let you match colors in the photo into a coordinating Sherwin-Williams paint palette that will give your space a warm and inviting feel. Or use the tool to match paint colors to coordinate with existing furnishings, bedding, pillows, or anything else in your space.

Adornably

Adornably
Adornably furniture design app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: Home design

Before you invest in an expensive new sofa or any upholstered furniture, snap a picture of your space and start using Adornably to virtually redecorate. The home app allows you to place furniture and customize the upholstery to find a smart new look before you buy. Once you find a piece that looks the way you want it, you can order it through the app. Instead of waiting months to get your new furniture, the custom pieces typically leave the factory within a week of ordering.

Home Depot

home-depot
Home depot home remodeling app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home design

Start any DIY home design project, or get ideas for refreshing your space, from the comfort of your couch. This shopping and remodeling home app will help you get ideas for renovating your kitchen or bathroom, improving your outdoor space, upgrading to better lighting, installing ceiling fans, adding hardwood flooring, and more. You can make and save shopping lists, find item quickly in your local store and even check on inventory to make sure it’s in stock. Purchase items right through the app and pick them up in your local store, or have them shipped directly to your front door.

iScape

iscape
iscape landscaping app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Outdoor landscaping

A beautifully landscaped yard can give your home instant curb appeal. But before you start digging up the yard or buy several flats of flowers, you can pre-plan your gardening and landscaping with iScape. The intuitive, visual planning tool lets you snap a photo of your yard and start dragging and dropping new landscape features. You can change out the grass, add in flowerbeds, trees, planters, and lawn ornaments into your design. Once you’ve created your virtual landscape design, you can use your finished image as a guide for your own DIY project or to clearly communicate your design ideas to a hired landscaper.

SmartThings

smartthings_app
SmartThings app

App cost: Free + SmartThings kit ($300)
Platform: iOS
Category: Smart home control

SmartThings turns your iPhone into a remote control for all of your devices. You will need to add the SmartThings kit—which comes with a hub and variety of sensors—to network all of your appliances and convert them into smart devices. The system can add security with motion sensors and capture activity in your home via video. It allows you to control and automate lighting and energy settings to maximize efficiency and savings. And you can have your appliances automatically brew your coffee, start cooking dinner, or play your wakeup music on your pre-programmed schedule. And in case you leave the TV on after leaving the house, you can easily turn it off remotely via the app.

Ninja Blocks

Ninja_blocks_app
Ninja blocks smart home app

App cost: Free + Ninja Block hardware ($200)
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Smart home control

Fully connect your home to your smartphone through Ninja Blocks. The hardware and app combination allow you to seamlessly merge the controls of your smart lights, power, media, monitors and motion sensors without complicated wiring and configuration. The difference with Ninja Blocks is that it’s the ultimate device for technology enthusiasts who like to tinker. The open source platform allows anyone to code for their own Ninja Blocks. You’re encouraged to customize and hack your hardware and design the controls to work the way you want them to work.

Handy

handy_app
Handy home cleaning and repair services app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home maintenance

Don’t have time to clean your house, or need a little extra help to get the job done regularly? Use the Handy app to find a vetted cleaner who can take care of those chores. Their roster of experienced professionals who have been background-checked and insured, are available as soon as the next day for cleaning services. Handy’s cleaning services are currently in 35 cities, and some locations also have home repair and handyman services, such as furniture assembly, TV and shelf mounting, interior painting, and moving help.

HomeSpot HQ

HomeSpot-HQ
HomeSpot HQ home maintenance app

App cost: Free
Platform: Web-based app – all platform
Category: Home maintenance

HomeSpot HQ will help you keep track of all of your home’s maintenance and improvement projects all in one place. It delivers any reminders that you set – for example, changing the A/C filters or the smoke detector batteries, cleaning out the gutters—so that you never forget to take care of routine chores. Make to-do task lists and shopping lists and use the weekend planner to get bigger improvement projects done. The app also allows you to organize user manuals, paint colors, and part numbers in your account so you never misplace important repair information.

Do you have any favorite home apps not included in this list? Let us know about them in the comments.

Are you planning a home improvement project to prepare your home for resale? If so, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional for advice on how to list and price your property to maximize your profit.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

HOME IMPROVEMENTS THAT REALLY INCREASE YOUR ROI

Now, most of us know that there are plenty of things we can do in a home to bring an improvement, as far as our preferences go. But how many of these improvements actually bring in a return on investment (ROI) if or when an actual selling time approaches?

As our likes may not be the likes of others, improving according to our preferences doesn’t necessarily give us more bang for our bucks, as some commonly say.

That said, our article below centers on what are some of the areas of improvement that stand a better chance of a high ROI once they get done. Let’s start with the two most important and used rooms in average homes: the bathroom and kitchen area.

Small or Larger Bathroom Remodel or Renovation Project

Now, we’re speaking about an upgrade or remodel job and not a full bathroom addition. Even small changes such as replacing or tearing down old, mildew stained wallpaper and using a fresh coat of paint will go a long way.

Replacing older lighting with a system that you can actually see better with, usually can be done without emptying your checking account. Adding a new vanity, a new tile floor and even something as minor as changing the hardware or fixtures can all be done today for less than $700.

Converting a walk-in closet into a powder-room with toilet and sink can really bring in about 15 percent for an updated bathroom area–not including plumbing expenses.

home improvements

Concerning kitchens, you don’t need to start by a massive overhaul–simply do one item at a time. For instance, removing a stained sink or old microwave or refrigerator for newer, energy-efficient models add big value to your home at selling time. Later, if needed, move on to new cabinets, back splashes or counter-tops. Generally speaking, you can expect to get back about 25 percent of a home’s value for a new kitchen or a remodel project.

Floor Coverings

After a bathroom and kitchen remodel, nothing makes or breaks the ROI more than miserable looking flooring. Smelly, stained or torn carpets being the worst offenders.

Laminated floors, simulated wood flooring or even a tile job may do the trick. If you have budget constraints, then consider replacing the carpet and re-doing the floor covering–one room at a time, whichever is worse.

“Going Green” and Curb Appeal

Nothing is as attractive as a carefully sculpted shrub and colorful plants to present a certain curb appeal to buyers. However, if you’re not thinking in terms of “green” or sustainable plantings, you’ve defeated your purpose in these green-oriented times.

Planning for the future is vitally important as you really don’t know when or if you’ll be selling in the foreseeable future. Planting shade trees can actually reduce your overall cooling expense by up to 30 percent, so be sure to buy greenery suitable to your region soil or weather requirements.

Replacing A Garage Door or Front Door

Replacing an older, two-car, steel garage door may give you a healthy ROI of 87 percent on a $2,500 investment. That being said, if you convert your garage into in-law living quarters or even an efficiency, expect an even higher ROI. Without having to add a ceiling, floor or walls, you’ll be gaining valuable space that can further result in both a higher ROI and additional income–barring zoning regulations of course.

Your front door, especially if it has factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel and etched glass windows, will further blend well with your curb appeal and ROI as well.

Which Brings In The Highest Returns?

  • Front door replacement: 96.6 percent
  • Efficiency garage conversion: 84.3 percent
  • Garage door replacement: 83.7 percent
  • Minor kitchen remodel: 82.7 percent

Which Brings In The Lowest Returns?

  • Home office remodel: 48.9 percent
  • Sun-room addition: 51.7 percent
  • Bathroom addition: 60.1 to 85 percent
  • Backup power generation: 67.5 percent
  • Master suite addition: 67.5 percent

The list of high ROI renovation options is almost limitless. Moreover, if you make the upgrades intentionally, and don’t allow yourself to do them on impulse or under coercion, you can expect rewarding returns every time. That said, choose wisely.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

CREATE A BEAUTIFUL OUTDOOR SPACE ON A BUDGET

The lawn and landscape outside your home can be your own personalized creation, and it does not have to be expensive. It is through the effort of creating what you want within your limitations – both financial and physical – that you come to love the space you craft. By learning frugal methods to care for your lawn and landscape, you can have the lawn you want within the budget you can afford.

Xeriscaping

By installing native plants, mulching appropriately and minimizing the size of your actual lawn, you can save a lot of money on maintenance and watering. Your local Master Gardener group, or the local city government, will likely have information on xeriscaping for your area. Lush green lawns are certainly beautiful and pleasant to play on, but they are also resource intensive. Unless you are one of the lucky few that live in an area with heavy rainfall, you will spend large amounts of money keeping a large lawn alive. According to Bankrate.com, a 4,000 square foot lawn takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water a week to stay green, or about $400 a year in water costs.

Cost Effective Lawn Care Tools

Once you have minimized your lawn space, you can determine exactly what tools you need to care for your landscape. If the lawn is small enough, a push reel mower may be enough. Push mowers can be hard to use if you have physical limitations, though. Electric push mowers are also another excellent option. Older models used to require an extension cord, but newer models are often cord-free, according to Nature’s Finest Seed. Other accessories, like leaf blowers, can also ease your cleanup and make for a nicer looking landscape. Electric models are not terribly expensive, and can offer a quick solution to sidewalk clutter.

Compost Organic Waste

Composting is a wonderful way to recycle your food scraps into valuable fertilizer or top soil. Small bags of compost can be expensive and it seems silly to pay so much when you can just make your own. Pre-made compost containers are always an option, but you do not have to spend a lot of money if you have a little out-of-the-way space to make a pile. Chicken wire and wood scraps are enough to cordon off a small area for dumping your organic waste, including lawn clippings, food scraps, leaves and anything else the naturally decays. Remember to turn the pile every month or so, and eventually you will have your own fertilizer.

Outdoor Living

Be Water Wise

Water is one of the greatest expenses for the home gardener. Water conservation is in everyone’s best interest, and local city governments will often have information on how to conserve water across your entire home. Take the time to learn about minimizing the water use in your lawn, and it will save you money for the foreseeable future.

Add Value

Going green with your yard is great, but if done well it can also add to the value of your home. SFGate.com notes that good landscaping with a coherent layout and plan can add from 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent to the value of your home. On a $300,000 home, that can add up to $38,100 in value.

Beautiful lawns and landscapes do not have to be expensive. By adopting the above practices, you can begin creating the landscape you want within your budget. Not only will you save money, you will also do the environment a favor as well.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

HOW TO HAVE YEAR-ROUND HOME CURB APPEAL IN 6 EASY STEPS

Exceptional curb appeal will add to the enjoyment and value of your property and home. Maintaining your curb appeal throughout each season may pose its challenges, but with these tips, you can ensure that your home and landscaping will look their very best throughout the year.

#1 Clean It Up

A thorough power wash is essential for maintaining the cleanliness of your home, driveway and walkways. Many homeowners prefer to do this in the spring, but you might consider an additional wash in the fall as well. By keeping your landscape free of debris like broken branches and dead trees, you can better maintain the appearance of your property.

#2 Planting for Seasonal Interest

It’s helpful to plant with each season in mind to ensure that your landscape looks great year-round. Spring bulbs and flowering trees add visual interest to your landscape at the start of the growing season. A lush lawn and pots of colorful annuals can provide eye-catching appeal in the summer. Think about late summer perennials and deciduous trees or shrubs that boast spectacular fall colors. Evergreens are classic winter plants, but you might also wish to plant trees like birch or interesting shrubs to draw the eye.

#3 Vertical Interest

To avoid flat looking landscaping, be sure to include vertical interest. Arches, even when bare during the winter season, will add visual interest to your front yard. Hanging plants, vines, climbing plants, trellises and even a decorative light post will ensure that your yard has a visual balance year-round.

Ahw-house-door-step

#4 Hardscaping

Plants aren’t the only method of achieving excellent curb appeal. Consider replacing a worn-out front walkway with elegant cobblestone or brick pavers. Replace mulch with stone or encircle trees and shrubs to achieve a more formal look for your property. Boulders can be strategically placed to draw the eye and provide further visual interest for your setting.

#5 Tackle Problem Areas

If you have a slope that’s difficult to mow or a sunken section of landscaping that always seems to flood, consider a solution. A low-maintenance, terraced garden is ideal for sloping sections of land that are difficult to mow. On the other hand, there are no-mow grasses that can replace a traditional lawn. Installing adequate drainage for low-lying areas of your landscape can help reduce the flooding that occurs during stormy seasons.

#6 House Appeal

You can increase the year-round curb appeal of your home by maintaining its outward appearance. A pleasing door, elegant fixtures, contemporary railings, eye-catching shutters and stylized window boxes will go a long way to boost your curb appeal. For an additional wow factor, consider expanding your porch or replacing worn siding to improve the appearance of your home.

Conclusion

Great curb appeal begins with assessing your current setting. When you do install new features, it’s important to consider how they will appear during each season.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

10 WAYS TO CUT COSTS WHILE BUILDING A POOL

Having a pool can be one of the most enjoyable parts of homeownership, but building it can be an expensive undertaking. “If you’re planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet,” said US News. “PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was $39,084 last year.”

If you want a pool without the high price, there are ways to keep costs down:

1. Get multiple bids

Talking to only one company gives you no point of reference. You’ll want to compare at least three bids from three different companies while you’re deciding who is going to build your pool, even if the companies in the running are referrals. And, speaking of referrals, make sure you get them. Entrusting someone with that much money and responsibility without the recommendation of someone you trust – and without thoroughly checking them out—may not end well.

2. Think about the big picture

It might be that a larger upfront cost can lead to savings down the line. Consider this from Marc Sheridan of River Pools: “In the past, concrete, or gunite pools as they’re also called, were almost always more expensive or at least priced about the same initially as fiberglass pools. This year though…I’ve been witness to some of the lowest prices offered on concrete pool installations in over 10 years. For example, on large pools, I’m finding that most concrete pools come in 5-10k less than a fiberglass pool.”

Pool #1

The problem lies with using inexpensive surfaces that may not have lasting power. “Most consumers have no idea that they’ll be shelling out an additional 8-12k minimum only a decade after install” of white plaster,” he said. “When one compounds this number over the course of 20-30 years, the cost to the homeowner is even worse. This doesn’t even account for the fact that most pool owners are now using salt chlorinators with their swimming pools, a technology of which I am a huge fan of but has been shown to be more abrasive on concrete pool surfaces than regular chlorine. This is also why I always recommend to my clients that decide to go with a concrete/gunite pool that they should go with a more permanent surface like PebbleTec. I always base decisions and recommendations on what is the best for the long-term, and not for the initial moment (price). What good does it does to save a few thousand dollars upfront on a swimming pool purchase if these savings will cost you thousands and thousands more in the long run?”

3. Go with a simple design

A pool design with multiple curves, steps, shelves, and other add-ons will raise the cost. Keep it simple for the best chance of keeping the price down.

4. Limit the materials

Exotic tiles and finishes in the pool, and upscale materials used on the decking and patio, can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.

Pool #2

5. Forgo the bells and whistles

A spa, a waterfall, a bubbler, and an Infinity edge… All are desirable pool features, and all will add to your bottom line.

“By some estimates, the actual construction of an in-ground pool is only about half of what you will eventually pay,” said Pool Pricer.

6. Pay attention to size

The bigger the pool, the more expense you’ll have in piping, pumps, filters, chemicals, and energy used.

Pool #3

7. Do your own maintenance

Pools get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained regularly. The monthly cost averages $130 to $378, according to HomeAdvisor, with pool cleaners charging $75 to $100 per hour or more. But, much of this cost can be eliminated if you choose to maintain the pool yourself.

“Maintaining your pool yourself will take less than two hours as long as you do it regularly. Routine maintenance not only keeps your pool clean for use, but it also allows you to spot problems early on – before they become big, costly repairs,” they said.

8. Build a self-sustaining pond instead

The swimming pond is a growing trend that brings a natural look to the yard and limits the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. “One of the great benefits of a swimming pond is that it is chemical free. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems,” said Good Housekeeping.

9. Wait on the pool heater

“Adding a heater after having owned the swimming pool a season or more can be a great idea because pool owners can get a true gauge on just how much they need a heater, as well as what type of heater will suite them best,” said Sheridan. This is especially useful in warmer climates where homeowners may not even need a heater in the summer.

10. Carefully choose the location

A pool that is located under trees may benefit from shade and therefore not need as much heating, however, it might end up with more leaves and debris, increasing the need for cleaning. The distance from the house is also a factor. “Well-planned pools are generally located close to the house, reducing costs associated with energy and water,” said Contractors.com.

HOW SMART CAN APPLIANCES BE?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is not an appliance show – not yet, anyway. Whirlpool and Bosch had appliances at CES this past week in Las Vegas, but Haier showed mostly TVs in its exhibit space. Other white goods brands such as Sears, GE, Maytag and Electrolux did not show off any major appliances.

Instead, it was mainstream Korean electronics brands Samsung and LG who played “can you top this” where smart appliances – mostly refrigerators – were concerned.

First, Samsung announced its Family Hub Refrigerator (available this May), which is essentially a 21.5-inch vertical tablet with a four-door refrigerator attached.

The Family Hub fridge is equipped with a 1920 by 1080p touchscreen with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and speakers. Its pre-installed apps are family- and kitchen-centric, such as a combined schedule app that syncs everyone’s Google or Apple iCal calendars, as well as a food shopping app called Groceries by MasterCard.

Inside the Hub fridge are two fish-eye cameras which snap a photo of the interior contents each time the doors closes. Photos can be viewed on the pending Samsung appliance app for shopping remotely. Interior cameras seem to be a growing smart fridge trend.

Smart home #1

LG countered with its Signature refrigerator, which has a view-through window that turns translucent or dark by simply knocking on it. The door opens when you step on an “open door” holograph projected from the fridge onto the kitchen floor – and the fridge is smart enough to differentiate between you and a dog or cat who might happen to wander by. LG didn’t provide timing for when the fridge will be available.

Smart home #2

Not to be outdone, Whirlpool announced its Connected French Door refrigerator, out this spring, along with a smart dishwasher and smart ranges in both gas and electric. All can be monitored and controlled from Whirlpool’s app, so you can check the refrigerator’s contents via internal Wi-Fi cameras, monitor and moderate the fridge’s varying zone temperatures, or initiate speed ice-making for parties.

Smart Appliance Ecosystems

As a result of Smart Appliances dependence on human interaction, appliances can’t perform much “If This Then That” (IFTTT) automation, nor can they work together—the washing machine or dishwasher won’t automatically eject its contents once the cleaning cycle is done, for instance, nor can a refrigerator order groceries by itself (at least, not yet). So just how “smart” appliances can ultimately become is an open question.

Despite these intelligence limitations, both Samsung and LG, along with Bosch, are attempting to build appliance ecosystems. In mid-2014, Samsung bought smart-home platform SmartThings, and all the company’s 2016 UHD TVs will double as SmartThings hubs and enable on-screen monitoring and control.

Meanwhile, LG is developing an overarching smart home/appliance platform, Smart ThinQ (confusingly pronounced “smart thin cue”). Smart ThinQ will allow LG’s appliances to communicate through an Amazon Echo-like tubular Bluetooth speaker hub equipped with a 3.5-inch color screen, Wi-Fi and ZigBee, Z-Wave, Nest and AllJoyn compatibility. There also will be small-button IR/motion sensors that can transmit limited information from normal appliances to the Smart ThinQ app.

smart home #3

Like Samsung, LG wants to make its controls available through a TV; a Smart ThinQ app will be included in the company’s webOS 3.0, which will first be available in the company’s new Signature OLED TVs, due later this year.

LG continues to promote HomeChat, a text-based, man-to-machine form of communication. But LG’s top-of-the-line Signature appliances lack HomeChat, which may imply the feature’s abandonment or absorption into Smart ThinQ.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

SPEND A LITTLE, RAISE THE PRICE A LOT

Your real estate professional is probably advising you to declutter, stage your home, plant new flowers, and make numerous repairs and updates. You may be reluctant to get started because of the costs, but according to home valuation site HomeGain, improvements like these can actually make you more money when you sell your home.

Under HomeGain’s Tools for Sellers, you can find the Home Sale Maximizer tool, where HomeGain has identified the top 10 home improvements under $1,500.

These add the most to home sellers’ bottom line, and are recommended by over 600 real estate professionals across the nation.

The top 10 home improvements are listed by the greatest return on investment (ROI):

Cleaning and de-cluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)

Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)

Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)

Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)

Repairing electrical or plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)

Kitchen and bathroom ($1,265 cost/$3,435 price increase/172% ROI)

Replace or shampoo carpets ($647 cost/$1,730 price increase/169% ROI

Paint interior ($1,012 cost/$2,112 price increase/109% ROI)

Repair floors ($931 cost/$1,924 price increase/107% ROI)

Paint exterior ($1,467 cost/$2,222 price increase/51% ROI)

When you put in your zip code, your results may vary from the survey results, but what’s interesting is how consistently the surveyed listing agents recommended the same home improvements. Nearly 100% of listing agents recommend cleaning and de-cluttering, while 97% recommended lightening and brightening and 80% recommended staging. These top three categories cost just a little over $1,000, yet netted sellers $5,734 at closing.

One hundred percent of HomeGain real estate agents recommend painting the interior and cleaning the carpet and ninety-eight percent recommend decluttering., but you may be surprised to learn that the top three money-makers in terms of ROI aren’t necessarily what agents most often recommend.

Cleaning and decluttering: Remove personal items; wash and clean all areas inside and outside of house; freshen air; remove clutter from furniture, counters and all areas of the home; organize closets; polish woodwork and mirrors, etc.

Home staging: Add fresh flowers; remove personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance rooms; play soft music; hang artwork in walls, and more.

Lightening and brightening: Open windows; clean windows and skylights inside and outside; replace old curtains; remove other obstacles from windows that block out light; repair lighting fixtures; make sure windows open easily, among other suggestions.

It’s all about first and favorable impressions. It takes money to make money, but it doesn’t have to take a lot. It’s the return on investment that’s important.

10 Inexpensive Ways to Spruce Up Your Rental or Rehab Property

It’s easy to fix up your properties if you have unlimited cash. You also need to keep your properties in good shape to attract tenants or buyers. There are the basic improvements, such as carpet and paint, but these can still costs thousands of dollars. The following are some inexpensive ways to improve your properties with very little cash.

#1) New Electrical Switch Plates

This is such a minor, yet overlooked improvement. Most rental owners and rehabbers paint a unit and leave the old, ugly switch plates. Even worse, some even paint over them.

New switch plates cost about 50 cents each. You can replace the entire house with new switch plates for about $20. For the foyer, living room and other obvious areas, spring for nice brass plates. They run about $5 each – not much for added class.

#2) New or Improved Doors

Another overlooked, yet cheap replacement item is doors. If you have ugly brown doors, replace them with nice white doors (you can paint them, but unless you have a spray gun it will take you three coats by hand).

The basic hollow-core door is about $20. It comes pre-primed and pre-hung. For about $10 more, you can buy stylish six-panel doors. If you are doing a rehab, the extra $10 per door is well worth-it. For rentals, consider at least changing the downstairs doors.

#3) New Door Handles

In addition to changing doors, consider changing the handles. An old door handle (especially with crusted paint on it) looks drab. For about $10, you can replace them with new brass finished handles. Replace the guest bathroom and bedroom door handles with the fancy “S” handles (about $20 each).

#4) Paint/Replace Trim

If the entire interior of the house does not need a paint job, consider painting the trim. New, modern custom homes typically come with beige or off-white walls and bright-white trim. Use a semi-gloss bright white on all the trim in your houses.

If the floor trim is worn, cracked or just plain ugly, replace it! Home Depot carries a new foam trim that is pre-painted in several finishes and costs less than 50 cents per linear foot. Create a great first impression by adding crown molding in the entry way and living room.

#5) New Front Door

You only get one chance to make a first impression. A cheap front door makes a house look cheap. An old front door makes a house look old. If you have nice heavy door, paint it a bold color using a high-gloss paint. If your front door is old, consider replacing it with a new, stylish door. For about $125, you can buy a very nice door.

#6) Tile Foyer Entry

After the front door, your next first impression is the foyer area. Most rental property foyers are graced with linoleum floors. Consider a nice 12″ Mexican tile. An 8′ x 8′ area should cost about $100 in materials.

#7) New Shower Curtains

It amazes me that many landlords and sellers show properties with either no shower curtain or any ugly old shower curtain in the bathroom. Don’t be cheap – drop $40 and buy a nice new rod and fancy curtain.

#8) Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Replacing kitchen cabinets is expensive, but painting them is cheap. If you have old 1970’s style wooden cabinets in a lovely dark brown shade, paint them. Use a semi-gloss white and finish them with colorful plastic knobs. No need to paint the inside of them (unless you own a spray gun), since you are only trying to make an impression.

Americans spend 99% of their time in the kitchen (when they are not watching TV). A fancy modern faucet looks great in the kitchen. They can run as much as $150, but not to worry – most retailers (Home Depot, Home Base, etc) often run clearance sales on overstocked and discontinued models. I have found nice Delta and Price Pfister faucets for about $60 on sale.

#9) Add Window Shutters

If you have ugly aluminum framed windows, consider adding wooden shutters outside. They come pre-primed at most hardware retailers and are easy to install. Paint them an offset color from the outside of the house – (e.g., if the house is dark, paint the shutters white. If the house is light, paint them green, blue, etc.).

#10) Add a Nice Mailbox

Everyone on the block has the same black mailbox. Stand out. Be bold. For about $35 you can buy a nice colorful mailbox. For about $60 more, you can buy a nice wooden post for it. People notice these things….and they like them!

PositionRealty.com
Office: 480-213-5251

Green Homes Increase Market Share

Remodeling and construction of single-family homes to make them more green continues to grow as more attention is placed on the benefits of going green for energy efficiency savings and better indoor quality, a new study shows.

In the construction market, the green home market share has grown to 17 percent in 2011. That percentage is expected to rise to 29 percent to 38 percent by 2016, according to a new report by McGraw-Hill Construction, “SmartMarket Report: New and Remodeled Green Homes: Transforming the Residential Market.”
According to the report, the two key forces driving the green growth: Green homes are often viewed as higher quality and can potentially save consumers money on utility costs.

“In the current residential market, there is an enormous need to differentiate your homes for consumers,” says Harvey Bernstein, vice president of Industry Insights and Alliances at McGraw-Hill Construction. “When builders are able to offer homes that not only are green but also offer the combination of higher quality and better value, they have a major competitive edge over those building traditional homes.”

In the past, builders have cited higher upfront costs as a roadblock to building green. However, the survey found that a much lower percentage of builders view that as an obstacle now than in 2008.

The report was produced by McGraw-Hill Construction, in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders and Waste Management.

Sean Heideman, Broker ~ Position Realty ~ 480-213-5251

Phoenix Realtors Advice ~ Five Musts Before You List Your Home

Deciding to list your home for sale is a momentous time. It means you will be moving on to a new stage of life, no matter if you’re moving up or sizing down. Take a moment to look over these tips for what every seller should do before they put their home on the market.

Organize Your Paperwork: Every homeowner should have a detailed list of all past repairs, updates, and upgrades they’ve made. This will help your agent know what should be mentioned on the MLS. Did you put on a new roof in 2010 or a install a new water heater in 2009? These are great selling features because they mean less work in the future for the prospective buyer.

Also included in this list should be any home warranty information. These warranties will most likely transfer with title of the home.

Get Ready to Declutter: Even before you’ve officially listed your home for sale, you should start getting rid of things you don’t need. Starting now will mean a more thorough and less rushed job of clearing things out.

Start with one closet and work your way through the entire home. Sort items to toss, keep, sell, and donate.

Having a yard sale is a wonderful way of making a little extra pocket change while reducing the amount of things you’ll have in your home during showings and that you’ll need to pack up and move. It’s a win-win!

Clean, Clean, and Clean Some More: Dirty homes are a real buyer turnoff. Now is a great time wash down walls, spruce up paint, and give your entire home a thorough cleaning. Do your carpets need refreshing? Consider renting a carpet shampoo machine or hiring a professional carpet cleaning company to come in and revamp your carpets.

Chances are buyers will ask for this anyway come closing time. You’ll beat them to the punch and have a shiny, sparkling home to show for it.

Get an Inspection: Did you think inspections were only for buyers? Having a pre-sale inspection can mean identifying problem areas. Perhaps you’re unaware that your foundation needs repaired. This will severely affect your listing price. It’s best to be prepared and realistic in today’s market.

Make Repairs or Get Estimates: Your inspection will likely leave you with a list of repairs, large and small, that need made. Keep in mind that prospective buyers will also get an inspection of your home and will find these same issues. Head them off at the pass and do some fixing up. You may wish to go ahead with large repairs. If not, be sure to at least get estimates so you are fully prepared for negotiations (you’ll know what the real cost should be) or so you can provide the estimates for buyers.

Start Staging: Staging is like prepping your home for its first date. You want to have it clean and well-dressed. This means amping up curb appeal with neat landscaping, fresh paint, and flowers. It means rearranging furniture and removing clutter.

Congratulations on deciding to list your home for sale. Be proactive about making a good first step by following these tried and true tips.

Sean Heideman, Broker ~ Office: 480-213-5251 ~ Sean.Heideman@PositionRealty.com

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