Tips for selling your home

With 2009 just around the corner, homeowners with homes still on the market are looking for any way to sell their homes quickly and at a good price.  Lisa LaPorta, designer and co-host of HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” offers some tips on selling your home.  Statistics show that buyers decide within 3 minutes of walking into a home whether they like it or not.  Don’t ruin that first impression!

Curb appeal is key.  In the winter, make sure that driveways and walkways are clear of all snow so the buyers don’t have to trudge through 6-plus inches to make it to your front door. 

In the entryway, remove all shoes, coats and clutter surrounding the front door.  This is the first impression the buyer will have of your interior so make it stand out.  Make sure the flooring is clean and the walls are painted a nice neutral color.  Try to avoid a colored paint in this area.

As Lisa says, the kitchen can make or break the sale of your home.  Investments in the kitchen will provide the most return on your investment than any other area of the house.  Up-to-date appliances will show the buyers that your home has been updated and ready for buyers to move right in.  If you’re going to be moving to another home, try to leave all the appliances in the home so the new buyer doesn’t have to worry about purchasing their own.  Try adding new hardware to cabinets for a quick and cheap fix.  And remove all clutter from the tops of your counters.

Bathrooms should be spotless.  I’ve had colleagues show homes with dirty laundry on the floor, hair in the drain, and more disasters.  This can be the quickest turn off during a showing.  Make sure showers are clean and washed.  Remove medicines, brushes, makeup, etc. from counters as well.

Bedrooms should be shown as bedrooms.  If you keep desks or exercise equipment in there to conserve space, try to move this big furniture to a larger area, like a basement, or think about investing in a storage space while your home is on the market.  Keeping these bulky items in bedrooms might make buyers think that the home isn’t large enough for you.  sold-sign-grn

If you aren’t hiring professional stagers, here are some tips on making rooms appear larger.  Move furniture away from the walls, to increase the appearance of the size of the room.  Create a focal point by placing couches in front of a beautiful fireplace or large picture window. 

For more of Lisa’s tips, you can read about them here.

I’d be happy to come out prior to you wanting to sell to give you some tips to make sure your home is in prime condition.  Visit me at my Web site.

And have a Happy New Year!

Chicago home wins ugly award

Something fun today!  A home at 10347 S. Avenue L on the city’s South Side was voted the ugliest home in America.  HomeVesters of America (the company famous for their “We Buy Ugly Houses” billboards) sponsored their second annual Ugliest House of the Year contest, and this home won!

The home is 100 years old and was purchased by franchisee Scott Gottlieb.  Scott said when they first saw the home that it was filled so much with clutter that pressed against the walls, they couldn’t get the front or back doors open.  He said that animals were living in the home and that it was filled with garbage. 

Gottlieb purchased the home, handled the clean-up process and then sold it to a wholesaler who gutted the home and restored it, where he quickly sold it again.

There were 10 finalists in the second annual competition.  digest19a_srch_feed_20081218_14_52_57_1134_h300w4001

How to choose the right paint finish

So you’ve picked out the room that you’re painting and that magnificent color.  Now it’s time to choose the gloss.  Here are some recommendations for choosing the right type of paint for any room.

First choice: Oil-based or latex.  Most people choose latex when painting interior surfaces because it dries quickly, doesn’t have strong odors, is water-based, lasts a long time, and cleans up easily with soap and water.   Oil-based, on the other hand, does go on smoother and resists wear longer than latex does.  However, it takes longer to dry, has a stronger odor, and needs to be removed with a solvent such as paint thinner.

Eggshell and Satin: You’ll want to use this gloss in rooms that you’re in most of the time, such as the kitchen, family room, hallways, children’s rooms, etc.  These finishes are very durable and the simplest to clean.

Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss paints stand up best where moisture is likely to get in, such as bathrooms.  They also are good for front doors, kitchen cabinets, and decorative trim and molding because they highlight the details.

Flat: Since flat paints have very subtle sheens, they tend to hide imperfections and nicks in walls.  Unfortunately, they are the hardest to clean, so you’ll want to use this finish in places that requires little to no washing, such as ceilings, closets, guest bedrooms, and formal living areas.

Visit Consumer Reports to view interior paint ratings.  Consumer Reports will also let you know which stores have the best paint products. 

Once you’ve painted your new home and are ready for a value estimate, please contact me on my website Noah Seidenberg.  You can also call me at 847-316-8529 directly.paint

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

If you and your family are looking for a way to spend some quality time together this week, why not check out some of the fabulous displays of lights throughout the Midwest?  There are some families who put on quite a show around the holidays.

The Parcell family of Geneva, IL has their lights displayed from 5-10 pm nightly from now through December 31st.  They are located at 813 Cheever Avenue, Geneva IL 60134.  By tuning your radio to FM 88.5, you can hear the music as you view the spectacular light display.  christmas-lights-12They also have begun going green and use energy saving lights in 80% of their display.  For more information, visit them here!

Alton, IL features 2.5 million lights in their display at Rock Spring Park.  They have a lit up waterfall and lighted tunnels.  They are open through December 28th nightly from 6-9 pm during the week and 5-9 pm this weekend.  View directions and photos here!

The East family of Oswego has put over 55,000 lights into their holiday display.  Eight different shows play back to back and you can tune in by turning your car radio to 88.5 FM.  They are located at 231 Fox Chase Dirve North, Oswego, IL 60543.

To find out about more shows with web links, addresses and more, visit http://www.christmasdisplays.net/display.php?State=Illinois.  If you’re going to be out of the state, but still want to view the displays, just change Illinois in the weblink to wherever you’ll be for the results to appear.

Happy Holidays!

Mortgage rates low, low, low

533783464_f1b67411ec1 With the news that the Federal Reserve has lowered rates to a RECORD LOW, mortgage rates are dropping once again.

The 30-year-fixed rate is at its lowest in 37 years.  Fixed rates averaged 5.19% for the week ending December 18th.  One year ago, they were at 6.14%. 

Certain buyers are waiting for the rates to drop even further.  Although, back in the 80s, when rates where at 20% and up, you still had plenty of people buying homes.  Smart buyers are buying now!

This is a great time to purchase a home.  Real estate is an incredible investment.  If you can afford it, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was down to 4.92%, on average, last week. 

You may worry that you need to sell your home in order to afford to purchase another.  While you may take a hit in the sale of your current home, you will greatly benefit in the purchase of your new one.  If you don’t plan on moving for a good 5 years or more, you will have made quite the investment in your future by owning a home.

More information on the low mortgage rates can be found here.

I would be happy to connect you with a mortgage broker that can give you the best advice on purchasing and what you can afford.  Just send me an email at noah.seidenberg@cbexchange.com.

How to save money and stay warm

With Chicagoland temperatures this week at zero degrees and below, everyone is doing their best to stay warm.  Of course, with our economy heading downhill faster than you can say “Merry Christmas,” it’s no wonder people want to save every penny possible.  Here are some excellent tips to lower your energy bills this winter and still stay warm.

watch-thermostat-tip-2-lg11) When you’re home, keep your thermostat as low as possible.  Even lowering it a degree or two could save you $40 over the year.  Every degree below 68 can save you 4% on your bills.  Layer and wear extra clothing to stay warm.

2) Use insulation kits or caulk and weatherstrip all doors and windows where cold air can seep in.

3) Keep your filters in your furnace clean.  Dirty filters can be clogged and prevent the hot air from getting through the vents.

4) Take advantage of the sun!  On sunny days, keep your windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm up the room.

5) By reversing the direction of your ceiling fans, you can push warm air down into the room.  You’ll want them to turn clockwise during the winter.

6) Keep garage doors closed to prevent the outside air from seeping in.

For more tips, you can visit the Web site of your local gas utility company.  Many also put pamphlets in their bills to customers during the winter months.   Just remember to stay warm!

Behind in your mortgage?

Behind in your mortgage?

dollar_sign2With more and more companies announcing job layoffs due to the struggling economy, many homeowners are faced with the inevitable: delayed mortgage payments.  Homeowners are now struggling to pay down all of their debt like mortgage payments, car payments and credit card bills.

According to a Chicago Tribune article I read this morning, Fannie Mae is going to start allowing borrowers to request loan alterations, even those borrowers who have never missed a payment yet.  Qualified borrowers would start with a trial period of reduced payments for about four months.  If all of those payments are made on time, then the trial could become permanent.  Each case will need to be looked at individually, where the loan company will need to verify income terms and credit reports to make sure that there is a solid reason the borrower needs a reduced payment.

Other mortgage companies may follow in Fannie Mae’s footsteps, like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. 

Your best bet if you think you might become behind in payments is to contact your loan company and find out if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae.  If it is, you can begin to request to be put on this trial program.  The link to the article for more information is here.

For information about selling your home to avoid foreclosure, visit me on my website by clicking here.