Before You Pick Up Your Hoe, Contact Your HOA

Now’s the time for planning landscaping improvements to your home for sale. But don’t walk too far down the primrose path without contacting your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) or you might find yourself on a road to nowhere.

The ABCs of HOAs
An HOA is are formal legal entities created to maintain common areas; they have the lara taylor real estate charlotte ncauthority to enforce deed restrictions. Most condominium and townhome developments, and many newer single-family subdivisions have HOAs, which are usually created when the development is built. Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&R’s) are issued to each homeowner, and HOAs are established to ensure that they are adhered to in order to maintain the quality and value of the properties involved.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
These rules often include provisions about landscaping. A quick Internet search revealed many HOA landscaping horror stories, from the man who lost his home over a rose garden to a North Carolina couple who racked up tens of thousands in legal bills defending their palm trees.

And these weren’t cases in which the landscaping was unsightly. In fact, both were upscale, costly renovations that may have looked beautiful but that also violated an HOA rule.

Reap What You Sow
HOA rules vary greatly from community to community, but many include restrictions on lawns, height and type of trees, type and amount of flowers, walkway placement and material, and so on. Basically, if you can see it, they can police it.

So, dig out your HOA rules, contact them to make sure the rules haven’t changed, and then plan and plant your garden accordingly.

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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Taking the “Sub” Out of Subcontractor

So you’ve made the decision to undertake a home (for sale) improvement project. You did all the right things.  You had a few different contractors bid the job. You checked references, contacted the Better Business Bureau, verified proof of insurance, and even went to see some of the chosen contractor’s work. So who is this guy at your house? Lara Taylor Realtor Charlotte NC

Subterfuge?

He’s a subcontractor. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I talked with a friend of mine who has worked as both a general contractor and a subcontractor to get the scoop on “subs”.

He says subcontractors are hired for a variety of reasons — the top two are because your general contractor has too much work to handle using in-house resources OR your job involves some type of specialty work that may be best performed by a specialist. “You wouldn’t want your family doctor doing brain surgery, right,” he asks.

Sub-divide and Conquer!

But just because there’s a logical reason for a subcontractor to be involved doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to be blindsided. “Your general contractor should tell you if he plans on using subs,” says our industry insider. “And if he doesn’t bring it up, you should.”

Many general contractors have small group of subcontractors that they work with regularly. Ask if that’s the case.  Explore their relationship and feel free to do you due diligence on the subcontractor too. Ask about insurance and work samples, etc., particularly if this is a specialty item such as custom carpentry or tile work).

Sublime Time!

According to the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), “more than three-quarters of the construction performed in the United States is performed by subcontractors.” The ASA
“encourages responsible conduct through adherence by subcontractors to standards of practice.” You can (and should) read the entire list here (http://www.asacarolinas.com/ReviewNavigation/standards.htm) so that you know what you should expect and can ask intelligent questions.

And asking questions is crucial, says our contractor friend. “You’ve gotta ask,” he says. “And the more you’re spending, the more questions you should be asking.”

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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Winter Wonder Landscaping & Gardening

It may be hard to believe that Spring is just around the corner…especially when you look out at the frozen tundra that has run many a garden asunder this winter. But Spring will come, and with it the April showers that bring May flowers.  Until then, there are several things you can do that will add interest – and curb appeal – to the winter landscapes and gardens of your home for sale. Charlotte Real Estate Lara Taylor

Focus on the Focal Points
One of my Twitter tweets this past week contained a link to an HGTV.com article that had this suggestion for creating cold-weather appeal to any garden. In case you missed it, here’s a recap: Focal points can be a  sculpture, boulder, decorative container or garden structure that is used to create year-round interest within a landscape or garden.  These can range from a subtle bird bath or bird feeder to a dramatic pond, a waterfall, or an arbor.  The focal point will be the center of attention when surrounded by the beauty of blooms and blossoms and remain the main attraction during the dormant winter season.

Evergreens Are Forever
Evergreens add color to the landscape all year round regardless of how cold the temperatures or severe the winter weather gets. And even a bare, deciduous tree will make it’s own colorful impression against a backdrop of green.  For a splash of winter color that will bring structure and style to any landscape, consider going evergreen.

There’s Something in the Air
“Never underestimate the winter fragrances that can lure you outdoors, even in cold weather,” says garden author Marianne Binetti.  There are yellow and orange varieties of witch hazel that emit their sweet fragrance regardless of how cold it gets outside.  And some fragrant plants can do double-duty. in the garden.  Sweet Box for example, infuses a pleasant vanilla scent to the air and also produces black berries that provide additional color and pizazz to the garden.

But one thing’s for sure, sprucing up your winter garden just may set you apart from the competition and leave you smelling like a rose!

Oh, and speaking of roses – Happy Valentine’s Day to all my friends, family and clients!!

 

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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More To Curb Their Enthusiasm!

Giving your home (for sale) lots of curb appeal is especially important during a down real estate market and will go a long way toward selling it faster. Besides just the house itself, the lawn, the landscaping and walkways can either enhance or detract from the character (and value) of your property.

People are drawn to houses that fit their tastes,
and two similar homes – one with curb appeal, the other without – will fare differently lara taylor realtor charlotte ncwhen it comes to attracting buyers. Here are four sure things that buyers are looking for and more ways to increase the curb appeal of your home to attract them.

Walk This Way
The walkway from the sidewalk, or driveway, to the front door should be smooth with no cracks or uneven rifts that could cause someone to trip. Potential buyers will see this as work they would have to do themselves after they purchase the home. The fewer potential home improvement projects they see the better. If your walkway is in really bad shape, consider replacing it with an appropriate – and curb appealing – new concrete, stone or brick walkway.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Modesty is the best approach when creating colorful, low-maintenance gardens to increase the curb appeal that will help sell your home. You don’t want massive gardens because some potential buyers may be turned off by just the thought of maintaining such a project. Smaller, easily managed gardens will show gardening enthusiasts that plants can thrive on the property. And those who like flowers or shrubs but aren’t big on planting and gardening will be glad that the work has already been done for them.

Splendor Is the Grass
Even if your landscaping isn’t fancy, a well-maintained lawn and garden will show potential buyers that you take pride in your property. It also lets them know that they won’t have to do much work to combat weeds in the grass or overgrown shrubs once they buy your home. They can simply pick up where you left off with the lawn and garden care to maintain it themselves.

A Thing as Lovely as A Tree
Trees add aesthetic as well as financial value to a property. This is especially true for mature trees that can provide cooling shade in the summertime. If you don’t have any trees on your property already, plant some. This can go a long way in helping buyers see the potential of your home for sale in the years to come.

Seeing Is Believing
The whole idea behind increasing the curb appeal of your home is to get buyers to want to see more. And then, the more they see, the more they will believe that your home(for sale) is the home that they should buy.

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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Curb Their Enthusiasm!

The first impression people get when they look at a house is what we call curb appeal. Curb appeal is especially important when trying to sell your home because buyers are looking for something that will set their new home apart from the rest.  Lara Taylor Charlotte NC Real Estate

While the landscaping and plants on your property play roles in curb appeal, the main attraction is the color scheme of your home for sale. If you decide to re-paint your home instead of pressure washing (see my previous blog), then choosing the right colors can make a huge difference at closing.

The Psychology of Exterior Colors
Take the sales price of your home into account when deciding on your palette. Muted, complex shades of certain colors tend to attract wealthy or highly-educated buyers, whereas buyers with less income or education generally prefer simpler colors. Complex colors contain tints of gray or brown and usually require more than one word to describe them.  Like “sage green” or “buttery yellow” as opposed to just green or yellow for instance. On the other hand, simple colors are straightforward and pure, and houses in the lower price range generally sell faster and for higher prices when painted in simple colors.

In the Neighborhood
When getting ready to paint your house, look at the colors of neighboring houses and try to choose colors that harmonize with the others, yet still stand out. Using  colors that clash badly with the other houses can detract from the neighborhood’s overall look. And consider your selling season (the time of year when you’ll be marketing your home) and climate when choosing colors also. Use cool blues, greens, and grays to sell during spring and summer, and warm yellows, reds, and maroons when selling in the fall and winter.

The “Shady” Science of Design Psychology
Several years ago Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of “Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars”, “Joy To The Home” and other books wrote that “Homes with yellow exteriors sell the quickest.”  But which shade of yellow sold best?   First, according to Jeanette, there were yellows to be avoided: “Yellows with green undertones look sickly to most buyers, and yellows with orange undertones give buyers an impression of cheapness.”

The best-selling yellow exterior color was actually a pale, sunny yellow, “especially when complimented with one or more carefully-chosen accent colors,” according to Fisher. “For instance, a semi-gloss white trim will give your home a clean and fresh look.  And adding a third color, such as green, can make your home even more attractive to prospective buyers,” she added.

Colors affect human beings in many ways, and applying some principles of “color psychology” to your home (for sale) can make it stand out from the competition, sell more quickly, and at a higher price.

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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Checking Your Home’s Appeal at the Curb

All of the wonderful things you’ve doing to improve and green your home (for sale) on every floor, and from wall to wall, will not be appreciated – or even seen –  unless you can get buyers past your front door. Maybe you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover, but potential buyers can decide whether to look further into buying your home based upon what they see on the outside.

From the Outside Looking In
Before repainting you may want to consider just washing your house first.  It may only need a Lara Taylor Realtor Charlotte NCpower wash – or pressure wash – to brighten up that old coat of paint.  If you haven’t done it before you might be surprised by the instant results: dirt and grime build-up are washed away with a minimum of effort, leaving you with nice clean surfaces that will be easily seen from the street and sidewalk!

Pressure washing isn’t only good for the house itself.  The roof, the driveway, the front stoop, the walkways and the back deck will benefit greatly from a good power washing too. Simply hosing down the driveway or deck won’t do the job. Years of dirt, grime, grease, oil and mold can really build up and a simple hosing down cannot clean it as completely or as thoroughly as a good pressure wash can.

One-Stop Power Washing?
Once upon a time you could hire a single contractor to to provide all of your pressure washing needs.  One might wash your house, strip your wood deck, pressure wash your roof, clean your gutters, stain your wood deck, pressure wash your driveway, seal your back patio and even wash your dog all at the same time!

Nowadays, a few individual contractors have perfected methods to provide specialized service in just one area.  Here is a list of some of the specific services offered by the pressure wash industry:

* House Washing
* Gutter Cleaning
* Roof Washing
* Window Cleaning
* Driveway Cleaning
* Sidewalk Cleaning
* Concrete Patio Pressure Washing and Sealing
* Driveway Sealing
* Paver Cleaning and re-sanding
* Paver Sealing
* Wood patio stripping/staining
* Wood patio restoration

Some contractors have mastered several of these so that they can offer a suite of services from the above list.  Consider what you need to have pressure washed and find a contractor that offers that service.  If a contractor is capable of pressure washing your house, then chances are good he also possesses the knowledge to pressure wash your sidewalk as well.  However, it is always best to know what specific services a pressure wash company offers.

Seek and Ye Shall Find, Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Ask any contractor to show you samples of his/her work (before and after photos, perhaps) and to also explain the steps they will use to clean your property.  It wouldn’t hurt to ask if they could do a demo for you as well. And get references!  Of course the best thing might be to go and see the curb appeal of a job they’ve already completed.  Then imagine how that will translate into raising the curb appeal of your own home for sale!

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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Choosing Your All-Green Color Scheme

At the top of just about every list of improvements that will make your home (for sale) more appealing to potential buyers is a new coat of interior paint. When preparing your home for sale, it’s best look at it from a buyer‘s point of view and make choices that will appeal to their sensibilities. And nowhere is that more important than in choosing which colors of “green” paint to use.

Color My World
While some buyers might appreciate bold red walls, lighter more calming colors are found to be most appealing and can actually make a space appear larger. You want to make choices that will entice people to buy your home. Selecting just the right color palette can make all the difference in the world.

Of course this doesn’t mean you should just paint all of the rooms beige before putting your house on the market. In fact, that could have the opposite effect, making your home (for sale) appear rather “Plain Jane” – especially one that’s under-furnished or lacks architectural detail. Ideally, you want to choose colors with just the right combination: neutral enough to present a blank canvas but interesting enough to add some character.

In her article entitled “The Best Interior Paint Colors for Resale” Yvonne Van Damme shares some sage (and beige!) advice on painting your home (for sale) to sell! I suggest you read her article, but here’s the gist of it:

Sage Green: The Wisest Choice!lara taylor real estate charlotte nc
Sage green is a color that promotes resale value in a home. According to design psychologist Constance Forrest, light-spectrum research showed that people who were exposed to green colors were in higher spirits than those exposed to other colors. Green represents nature and is both soothing and calming. Out of all of the shades of green, sage green is the most ideal interior paint color to use for resale. Generally speaking, anything considered a medium color of green is good. However, loud lime-green or hunter green should be avoided.

Buttery Yellow: A Popular (Not Corny!) Option!
An almost universally safe color for your interior is a soft, warm, buttery yellow. Warm colors are inviting and tend to make the home feel cozy and comforting. People respond well to the color yellow.   It represents joy and happiness as well as optimism. Yellow creates an inviting atmosphere and will lift the mood of potential home buyers. And yellow walls will look lovely with white trim!

Cream: Tastefully Rising to the Top!
When buyers are touring your home they want to be able to picture themselves living there. Cream is the ultimate neutral color and won’t offend buyers’ sensibilities. Painting the walls a cream color will enhance the functional aspects of your home (for sale) and add light to any room. If you have a lot of windows, the incoming sunlight will make cream walls glow!

Beige: Accessorize It to Maximize It!
Many still consider beige the safest color to use for the interior of a home for sale. It’s a warm color that makes the home appear large and welcoming. One of the reasons for the popularity of beige is that it doesn’t clash with most color schemes. With beige walls you can use accessories – such as throw pillows and area rugs – to add color to the room. It’s also the perfect color for showcasing art pieces and prints. Although beige is a safe color, it does not have to be boring!

We’ll start with some procedures next week.. first up – how to strip your walls.

 

Lara

Lara Taylor – Realtor/Broker

704-200-8835

Twitter – @AskForLara

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