How Paint Can Transform A Home For Sale

The following is a guest post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating.

Not sure which update to tackle first when preparing to list your home for sale? When we walk into a client’s home, almost always the first suggestion we make is a fresh coat of paint in the most important living areas. Paint provides an instant “boost” to a room and offers a universal appeal to buyers who want to envision living in the space. In general the home improvements that offer the greatest payback are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online. When selling, always remember the saying, “you will never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

According to a HomeGain 2012 National Survey, both interior and exterior painting are among the top ten low cost, do-it-yourself improvements for sellers with the greatest return on investment. HomeGain says, “In a buyers market, sellers need to dress their homes for success before putting them on the market and these kinds of projects are cost effective ways of increasing your chances of selling faster and closing closer to the asking price.”

The following are some before and after examples showcasing the difference between a home that will go unnoticed and one that will sell quickly.

staging1

Remove Dated Wallpaper
One of the simplest and most affordable updates is to remove dated wallpaper and add a neutral wall color to bring out the room’s best features. This kitchen island area also had a wallpaper border which is unappealing to buyers. We chose a soft grey tone paired with modern accessories and furniture to give it fresh appeal.

staging2

Opt for Lighter Colors
Dark paint colors can sometimes make a space appear smaller, like in this spacious master bedroom. Also multiple colored walls can divide a room and make it less attractive, especially in photos. We updated and brightened this room with a neutral, warm taupe color throughout to enhance the architectural details and allow buyers to envision spending time in this beautiful master bedroom retreat.

staging3

Consider Painting Cabinets
We gave this dated kitchen a much-needed facelift by updating dark wood cabinets with white paint and painting the island a rich, dark espresso to contrast with the neutral granite countertop. Without replacing table and chairs, the result was a bright, updated kitchen that looked move-in ready.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

December 11, 2015Permalink

Your Home’s December Honey Do List

Honey-Do-ListDecember is arguably the busiest month of the year, so it’s important to get started on your home’s to do list early. Follow this guide to prepping your home for the holidays, so that you can actually enjoy them!

1. Clean out your fridge – While you may still be eating your way through Thanksgiving leftovers, it’s prime time to make room for more holiday goodies. Before the next big holiday grocery shop, take 20 minutes to clean out your fridge. If you’re feeling really ambitious, tackle the pantry while you’re at it.

2. Deck the Halls – Before December gets away from you, reserve an afternoon to put the holiday decorations up. Make it fun by turning on some holiday tunes, invite some friends over and serve up cups of hot cocoa or eggnog. For light-up decorations, be sure to test them before you hang them and find out a bulb is missing.  For convenience and safety, consider putting your light-up holiday decorations on a timer.

3. Clean your oven – Holiday cooking doesn’t stop after Thanksgiving. To prep your kitchen for cookies and that holiday roast, take a few hours to clean your oven of leftover turkey grease. If you’re looking for a non-toxic method, we have you covered.

4. Stock up on firewood – There’s no denying that the colder months are upon us. For those with a wood burning fireplace, stock up on wood now and store to keep the logs covered and dry.

5. Insulate exposed pipes – Cold weather and holiday travel can spell trouble if you don’t take measures to protect your home. To prevent pipes from freezing, clean and insulate exposed pipes. For a complete DIY tutorial, check out this helpful how-to guide.

6. Clear any lingering leaves – Before the snow and ice arrive, be sure to rake and remove leftover fall leaves. Fall foliage forgotten under a layer snow all winter can wreak havoc on your lawn next spring. And in case you’re not up on the best way to rake your lawn, check this out.

7. Put together a winter storm kit – In the event that a winter storm hits and your home loses power, you should be prepared with an emergency kit. Collect extra candles, matches and batteries along with extra blankets and a car charger for your cell phone.

8.  Create a gift wrap station – To avoid scrambling for the Scotch tape with every last minute gift purchase, set up a gift wrap station with extra wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbons and bows.  Also keep a stash of neutral gifts on hand, like candles or boxed chocolate, for unexpected gift exchanges.

9. Start working on your home resolutions – Have an idea for a home renovation project? Create an inspiration board on pinterest, or start by browsing ours. Do your research on products and vendors, and start booking specialists now before their calendars book up for spring.

There’s nothing quite like being home for the holidays, so take time to relax and enjoy being with family and friends.  We’ll be back next month with a January Honey Do List to kick off the new year!

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

December 11, 2015Permalink

Smart Home Technology: 7 Surprising Features

Smart_Home2-1399x450Lights, cams, doors, security — many homeowners know the basics about home automation and smart home technology. But there’s a whole array of fun smart home features that you’ve never dreamed of, from watering plants to feeding pets.

Lights, cams, doors, security — many homeowners know the basics about home automation and smart home technology. But smart homes go far beyond these basic functions, if you know where to look. Here are a few examples of just how deep smart home features can get.

1. The Color of Your Lights

Smart light bulbs are far from an oddity in homes — it’s hard to find a smart home system these days that isn’t compatible with some sort of light system. But color-changing options are probably not something that you would expect in the average smart house. However, thanks to LED creations by brands, most notably the Philips Hue bulb, you can indeed shift the color of your lights to a variety of different shades across the spectrum.

This is handy for both fun and atmospheric controls. The latest versions of the Hue system even allow you to set the lights to work in sync with movies or music for more entertainment options.

2. Watering Plants

However many smart home technology tricks you’ve heard about, you probably haven’t heard of any that can actually help you water plants. But this particular task does indeed have its own set of smart home devices. They tend to use a combination of sensors and databases on houseplants to help investigate the soil: Then they can send reminders and information about watering your plants, adding fertilizer, and more. Options range from the well-developed Parrot devices to crowdfunded efforts like Daisy.

3. Feeding Pets

Much like watering plants, feeding your pets is just one of those things that feels firmly in the world of human agency: It’s your responsibility, and an app can’t do it. But the truth is that certain devices have a lot to offer. One of the best examples is the Petnet SmartFeeder, which can ration out food to your pets based on smartphone schedules and advise daily food amounts or warn you when food is low.

4. Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum cleaners have been able to amble around on their own since the rise of the Roomba, but that doesn’t necessarily make them smart. The LG Hom-Bot is one of the new class, with smart tech that lets you look out through a camera, control the bot from your home, and let the bot head back to its charging station through your wireless network. Dyson is also working on a smart version of its own called the 360 Eye with similar capabilities.

5. Air Conditioning

Smart thermostats are the front and center of most smart home technology systems: Everyone has a thermostat, and they really do have the ability to make your life easier and more affordable. But we’re not talking about those systems — we’re talking about room-based air conditioners for on-spot cooling, like the Aros. The Aros operates with advanced app options via the Wink app. Control the air conditioner from anywhere, make sure it is in the right mode, or shut down at the right times. You’ll never want to use old fans again.

6. Your Toothbrush

Buy the right Oral-B toothbrush, and you can get a whole array of smart modes to play with, including different settings, a smartguide to train you on how to use it, pressure sensors that can help you modify your brushing, and more.

7. Your Mirror

Thanks to efforts by LG and others, smart mirrors are also showing up. These mirrors can project a variety of early morning info including your schedule, your shopping lists, weather conditions, and even fashion data.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

November 20, 2015Permalink

Moving: What’s Good About What’s Hard

PICK-YOUR-HEAD-UPNo doubt about it, moving is hard: the time, the money, the stress. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you have many of the same problems, only at different levels of intensity.

Sure, moving brings on new adventures and opportunities, but it’s tough to see those things when you’re neck deep in boxes and bubble wrap. Even if the move is welcomed, it can be difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. However, even the toughest parts of moving really do have their plus sides. Just put the packing tape dispenser down for a minute, and consider. It just might make moving a tiny bit easier.

A chance to revisit: Unless you’re the kind of person who just throws everything into boxes without sorting (and you’re out there, we know), you’re going to go through everything you own during the packing process. You’ll look into all the drawers, cupboards, closets, storage areas…and, well, look at that…you found your old high school yearbook. Hey, you looked good. And there’s the playbill to that special show you and you-know-who attended. And you finally found that sweater…how did it get there?

You can reconnect with your past while you go through the masses you’ve accumulated through the years. You’re multi-tasking in the best possible way: accomplishing a necessary task and getting some enjoyment out of it. A total win-win.

A chance to let go: As you revisit, you can also let go. Do you really both need and want everything that’s in your home right now? Can you let go of things that have painful memories…or no memories at all, anymore? (Just why are you saving that pile of videocassettes? You haven’t owned a VCR in years.)

Don’t be brutal and toss things you’ll miss, but you may be able to get away with whipping out your phone and taking of picture of that old track trophy. You’ll still have the memory, but the only space you’ll need is a teeny tiny bit on your phone. And bonus! Significant weeding can lower your moving costs.

A chance to visit: A lot of people find moving stressful because they’re leaving behind friends and family. Yeah, you’ll eventually make connections in your new location, but that doesn’t help now. But this might: you’re not moving to the moon. Seriously. Wherever you’re going, there’s transportation there and back again.

You can make plans to return, and your nearest-and-dearest can come see you. You won’t be separated by an insurmountable wall, or a moat, or an army of dragons. It’s just space. Plans for getting together with your besties will give you something to look forward to while you adjust to your new area.

A chance for a new beginning: OK, so it’s not a brand new home or apartment, but it’s new to you. This is the time to start fresh. As you unpack, really think where you want your stuff to go and how you want to arrange it. There’s no law that says you need to put the television in the living room or the microwave in the kitchen. (We know; we checked.) Think about where things would work best for you.

And the fresh start extends outside the boundaries of your home, as well. What have you always wanted to do that you never did before, because you couldn’t fit it into your old life? News flash: that old life is gone. Now’s the time to make some changes. Maybe you’re in a less populated area, so you can start riding your bike again. You know you missed it. Or perhaps you can try some neighborhood restaurants instead of falling back on the same old chains. Or _____________. You fill in the blank.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

November 20, 2015Permalink

The List of Pet Peeves That Turn Homebuyers Off — And How to Avoid Them

The List of Pet Peeves That Turn Homebuyers Off — And How to Avoid Them

Even if your home is priced right and in a desirable location, you may be offending potential buyers without ever knowing it. Here is our list of pet peeves that can turn a buyer off — and how to avoid them when selling your home.

When someone is searching for a home to buy, gut instinct and first impressions are crucial to making a positive impact. Even if your home ticks all the boxes for you, there is a chance you may be offending potential buyers without ever knowing it. Here is our list of pet peeves that turn buyers off — and how to avoid them when selling your home.

1. Masking Issues

Whether it is odors or a failed foundation, masking potential issues to gain a quick sale could be a very costly gamble. If there are serious defects that you know about, a buyer could back out of the deal at the last minute, ask you to fix the issue or worse — involve you in a legal battle long after the deal should be done. Consider hiring a qualified home inspector to conduct a pre-sale inspection. An inspection gives you the upper hand in determining how to address the issue — and get top dollar for your home. No home is perfect. Be upfront about any flaws in your home and you will light the path to a smoother sale.

2. Overpricing Your Home

Ensuring your home is appropriately priced before hitting the market is an important factor in achieving a timely sale. Working with a knowledgeable agent — and trusting their advice — is your best bet in ensuring your home sells for what it’s worth. In real estate, the price you paid for a home has no bearing or guarantee on its selling price when you go to list. The market, condition of the home, and how well recent home sales have performed all influence what your home is worth, and having your house sit on the market because it’s overpriced will deter interested buyers.

3. Not Preparing Your Home For Sale

Buyers need to picture themselves living in your home. Giving them a clean, decluttered, and neutral space is essential. An abundance of knick-knacks, or greatly loved (but really worn out) furniture can be distracting, so consider packing them up before you list. Additionally, showing your home with overly bright, dark, or otherwise overwhelming colors can be off-putting to potential buyers who only see the price tag and effort to repaint. Repainting these rooms in a neutral palette may not be your personal taste, but it will allow a blank slate for potential buyers.

4. Making Showings Difficult

While keeping your house ready for showings and open houses can be stressful, the longer your home sits on the market, the more you will have to do it. Being inflexible with requested showing times or demanding to be present during showings can actually harm the sale process rather than help it, and may top a buyers list of pet peeves. Potential buyers will be more willing to work with you on the negotiations if you have been reasonable in their showing demands, and allowing them to view your home without you present will ease any uncomfortable feelings they may have about you being present.

5. Not Considering Your Pets

While your pets have a special place in your heart — and your home — not every homebuyer will share your view. Considering how your pets will impact buyers is an important step in depersonalizing your home. When preparing for viewings be sure that your pets are appropriately contained, as not to disturb buyers who want access to all parts of your home. If possible, removing pets from the premises completely is preferred, but if you can’t do that, ample warning through your agent is a must. Repairing any stained or damaged items caused by pets before you list will also help the overall impression your home makes.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

November 12, 2015Permalink

How Much a 4 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom Home Costs

The latest Coldwell Banker Real Estate Home Listing Report reveals the most expensive and affordable housing markets across the U.S.

The 2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate Home Listing Report (HLR) is in, and once again, the West Coast is topping the charts as the most expensive place to live in the United States. This year’s report found that half of the top 100 most expensive markets in the U.S. are in California with Newport Beach taking the #1 spot, while Cleveland earned the most affordable title.

The annual HLR analyzes the cost of four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in more than 2,700 real estate markets across the United States, providing an apples-to-apples comparison of prices across the country.

Newport Beach has been battling it out with Los Altos for the top spot in the HLR for the last few years. This year, its average listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home is a whopping $2,291,764.

In contrast, Cleveland has continued to hold on to its coveted spot as the most affordable market. This year, its average four-bedroom, two-bathroom home listed at $74,502 – a listing price difference of $2.2 million when compared to Newport Beach.

Check out the five most expensive and affordable markets in the U.S. below, and visit the full Home Listing Report page to see how your town ranks compared to the most expensive and affordable markets in the country.

Five Most Expensive Markets to Buy a Home

  1. Newport Beach, Calif. – average listing price: $2,291,764
  2. Palo Alto, Calif. – average listing price: $2,066,600
  3. Saratoga, Calif. – average listing price: $1,979,218
  4. Cupertino, Calif. – average listing price: $1,659,297
  5. Los Gatos, Calif. – average listing price: $1,569,615

Five Most Affordable Markets to Buy a Home

  1. Cleveland, Ohio – average listing price: $74,502
  2. Riverdale, Ga. – average listing price: $79,223
  3. Wilkes-Barre, Pa. – average listing price: $79,480
  4. Detroit, Mich. – average listing price: $81,616
  5. Alma, Mich. – average listing price: $90,523

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

November 12, 2015Permalink

How a Humidifier Can Save Your Health, Your Home and Your Wallet

humid_headerMaintaining a healthy humidity level in your home has more benefits than you’d think!

As the weather begins to lean toward the colder side, memories of the past winter start flooding our thoughts. The one thing we forget every year is just how dry the air can be during the colder months. The importance of humidity in the home is underrated and often dismissed.

The most obvious of all benefits to maintaining humidity in the home is preventing that Doc Brown looking hairdo. However, there are a slew of other benefits that could save your health, your home and your wallet.

Benefits to Maintaining a Healthy Humidity Level in your Home:

  • Since bacteria thrive in humidity and viruses thrive in low humidity, maintaining a good humidity level can prevent the likelihood of catching a cold, the flu or other upper respiratory viruses.
  • Humidity can help reduce susceptibility to infection by keeping the mucus membranes of your breathing passages moist.
  • With lack of humidity, your skin can become dry, leading it to crack and separate. The same can happen to your walls, ceilings, wood floors, furniture, piano, etc. because the air is drawing moisture from anywhere it can.
  • Because dry air draws moisture from your skin, you can begin to feel colder, causing you to turn the heat up. However, moist air feels warmer because it holds heat better, so maintaining a certain level of humidity may actually lower your heating bill.

There are many different types of humidifiers out there ranging from whole-house humidifiers, cold-mist, warm-mist, aroma therapy, ultrasonic and more.

In addition to a humidifier, a good, cheap instrument to have in the home is a hygrometer, which measures the moisture content in the atmosphere. This way you don’t over-humidify your home, which can lead to mold or bacteria. You can find a digital hygrometer for less than $10.00 on Amazon.com.

One thing is for sure though, whichever humidifier you go with, remember to always to maintain and keep it clean.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

October 29, 2015Permalink

Mastering the Art of Brushed-On Finishes for Kitchen Cabinets

CabinetPainting1400x450If you’re a fan of the classic look, brushed-on cabinet finishes have a lot going for them.

Professional kitchen renovators tend to have strong opinions about cabinet finishes, yet there’s surprisingly little consensus about what makes for a great paint finish. I’m a former custom cabinetmaker. One past partner favored the pristine, straight-from-the-spray-booth look; another—an old house aficionado—valued a patina that included faint traces of brushstrokes to suggest that the paint was applied by hand in an era when spraying wasn’t an option.

The fact is that professional-grade painted cabinet finishes are applied in at least three coats, and most fabricators prefer to apply as many of them as possible with a sprayer because it’s faster than brushing. Yet, at least one coat—usually the last touchup after cabinets are installed—is most often applied with a brush to save the hassle of masking the surfaces surrounding the cabinets.

What the Pros Say

Cabinet pros don’t universally agree on whether brushstrokes should be evident in the finished product. Some even take pride in applying paint with a brush that ultimately looks as if it was sprayed. The bottom line is that it’s up to the customer. Visible brushstrokes are a personal preference.

Brushstrokes can give vintage, classic style to your cabinets, and there are several strategies for achieving the effect. Most techniques are intended for raw wood cabinets and involve some spray-applied coats (which I wouldn’t recommend for do-it-yourselfers). But below, I’ve combined and adapted some brush-only techniques with a few tricks of my own that should work well for anyone with patience and a keen sensibility to achieve a professional quality paint finish on cabinetwork.

Step-by-Step Brushstroke Finish

  1. Remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts (if not glued) and take off all hardware.
  1. Fill all scratches, nail holes, dings and open grain with a suitable filler. In most cases, I like to use Durham’s Water Putty. Unlike most fillers, which shrink as they dry, Durham’s expands as it cures, locking itself into cavities and puffing up a little proud of the surface plane.
  1. Sand all surfaces to be painted with 180-grit sandpaper (start with a heavier grit if necessary and work up to 180) to attain a smooth surface with enough “tooth” to promote paint adhesion.
  1. Vacuum the dust from all surfaces; then, wipe each piece with a tack cloth.
  1. Set doors flat on blocks or on another horizontal surface like a workbench or table, to keep the edges elevated. I like to set them face down in preparation for the first priming step; after coating the back of a door and letting it dry, I can flip it over in preparation for painting the front without worrying that the more visible surface will be marred by contact if it hasn’t fully hardened.
  1. Apply BIN shellac primer to all surfaces with a china-bristle brush. If the finish coat will be off-white, ivory or a darker color, tint the BIN to match it closely. Start by brushing the primer across the grain; then, even out the coat by brushing with the grain using just the paintbrush tips.

To work faster, apply paint to larger surfaces like doors with a roller, then back-brush with the tips, working with the grain, to smooth and level the paint. Once the shellac begins to set, stop trying to work it. Give the shellac two hours—or however long your product’s label says—to dry.

  1. Sand the primed surfaces with 280-grit abrasive sandpaper to smooth out the heaviest brush marks, but you don’t have to remove them all. Repeat Step 4 to remove all dust.
  1. Apply two thin coats of alkyd enamel using the method described in Step 6. Sand and clean between the first and second coats. Whatever brush marks remained after you sanded the primer will telegraph softly through the enamel topcoats. Add a third coat of enamel, sanding beforehand, if the color and/or finish don’t appear sufficiently opaque.

The Argument for Visible Brushstrokes

In addition to imparting an aura of hand-crafted charm, many proponents of brushed-on paint finishes for kitchen cabinets argue that they mask joints and defects in wood surfaces that develop naturally as cabinets age. Brush-grade oil finishes are also easier to repair than sprayed-on coatings, should they become damaged through ordinary wear and tear. If you’re a fan of the classic look, brushed-on cabinet finishes have a lot going for them.

To learn more about how Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty can help you buy or sell a home, please call one of our two offices:

Ukiah Office: (707) 462-5400
169 Mason St. Ste 300, Ukiah, CA 95482

Willits Office: (707) 459-5389
1460 S. Main St., Willits, CA 95490

Make sure you visit our website:
www.mendocinocountyproperties.com

October 29, 2015Permalink