Talking To Clients About Home Automation

If you’re a real estate agent today, there’s a good chance you’ve sold and listed a house with home automation features. Connected “smart home” devices have gained popularity rapidly in recent years.

According to a recent report, in 2016, the number of smart homes reached 169 million and installations are projected to grow at an annual rate of 30 percent over the next few years.

With such rapid growth in recent years, it can be a challenge to keep up the home automation industry, let alone explain its myriad pros and cons to buyers. By explaining various smart home offerings and their comparative value, however, you can turn a possible unknown into a selling point.

What Makes a Home Smart?

Home automation features have been around since the 1970s, but were a concept way before then (think “The Jetsons” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”). But with the advent of WiFi-connected devices, the industry has exploded.

Generally, any home feature or device that can connect to the internet is considered a “smart” device. These items can be as minor as a lamp or as vital as a thermostat.

In general, smart devices sync with a smartphone or computer application where you can view data and control the device. Smart garage doors can be opened from your phone and allow you to check if you remembered to close the door without driving back home.

Smart smoke alarms can send a notification to your pocket if there’s a fire. Ultimately, these devices are built with two main goals in mind: convenience and cost savings.

Explaining Value

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of home automation devices available, their function and price, and what type of value they add to the home.

One thing to remember is that most home automation features do not offer a big return on investment (ROI). But, that doesn’t mean these devices can’t be strong selling points for buyers.

Because the home automation market is so vast and varied, its value differs with each consumer. A young family might be much more interested in in-home child-monitoring cameras than other buyers; an eco-conscious client might be more concerned than most with monitoring their energy use day-to-day.

Once you’ve determined your client’s lifestyle needs, you can determine whether a home’s automation features are actually a selling point. Focus on the cost-saving aspects of automation and its convenience when making the case.

Paint a Balanced Picture

While smart homes improve people’s lives through convenience and cost savings, home automation is far from perfect. When talking to clients, make sure they understand all the pitfalls associated with the technology.

There is no real standardization of home automation software, so getting newer devices to sync with or talk to older devices is often difficult. Further, many connected devices require a monthly fee – so if your clients are moving into a home with an installed security system, they’ll still need to pay a fee to keep the system online.

Whether or not your client is interested in home automation, there’s a fair chance that some of the homes you’re showing will have smart home features. Make sure you’re familiar with various offerings so you provide honest, informed answers and help them decide if home automation is right for them.

Home Trends for 2017

As a new year rolls in, so do some new home trends. Here is a look at what you may expect to see at an open house near you in 2017.

It is easy being green. The Pantone 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery, has been called the world’s brightest neutral. This color represents rejuvenation according to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

While on the topic of color, in 2017, navy is expected to be the new black. A sophisticated color, navy is making its way into homes in a big way to open up spaces, whereas black, which tends to minimize space, is scaling back.

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Say hello to faux. Experts predict that faux materials are going to be strong in 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported that even luxury homeowners were warming to faux materials such as faux marble and barn wood. Aside from being used as a reliable, budget-friendly alternative, additional faux materials like indoor foliage offer instant gratification with zero upkeep. Winter staging just got a lot easier!

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Fluttering design with butterflies. These fairytale-like creatures are not just for children’s rooms anymore. Butterflies, which symbolize optimism and grace, are showing up in large numbers on walls, pillows and home accents.
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Cork it. Cork is back with its multitude of purposes, natural qualities, sustainability and color tones.
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Other notable home trends to look for in 2017 include white kitchens with wood countertops, full kitchen walls of tile, modern-style bar stools, and fully decked-out laundry rooms with natural light and maximum space.

What home trends have you read about or noticed?

2016 Top Kitchen Design Trend

Real Estate Trends

One of the top design trends for 2016 is farmhouse kitchens. Whether your client is buying or selling, these tips for converting any kitchen into a farmhouse kitchen can bring a lot of attention to the focal point of the home.

Kitchens are the focal point of the home. They are where families gather and memories are made. When a buyer walks into a home, they imagine themselves in that spot with their own family, making them one of the strongest selling points of a home. One popular trend in kitchens attracting many buyers is the classic farmhouse kitchen.There is a reason they are so popular. Farmhouse kitchens combine functionality with style and a down-home good feeling. Inviting, warm and comfortable, they whisper of a simpler time. Although the farmhouse style is considered very American, it combines elements of the English and French country styles as well.

      THIS                                                                            NOT THIS

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Homeowner Tips for Farmhouse Kitchen Renovations


There are a few key decor elements that make up the ultimate farmhouse kitchen.

  • Apron front sink
  • White painted cabinets
  •  Open shelving
  •  Rustic, contrasting colored hardware
  1. Wood, soapstone or marble countertops
  2. Glass canisters and accessories
  3. Islands and stools

Updating a kitchen can be a costly endeavor. Styling a kitchen doesn’t have to be. If you are looking to give your drab kitchen a farmhouse facelift, here are a few ideas to get you there.
1. Feature contrasting colors with a coat of paint.  A fresh coat of paint goes a long way to make walls “pop.” This means that your cupboards cannot go neglected. So they will need either a fresh coat as well, or a new finish altogether. Once you’ve decided on your color palatte invest in your hardware.

2. Freestanding pieces of furniture are often key elements in a farmhouse styled kitchen. A hutch can double as an island or a sideboard.

3. The flooring is most often wood, but black and white tiles in a checkered pattern or terracotta tiles are popular as well.

4. Open shelving is a must. To keep your kitchen from looking cluttered by open shelving, use a few marquis pieces to showcase, and leave storage areas for the items that are quick to clutter.

5. Vintage decorations such as stoneware crocks, aprons, cast iron skillets and glass milk jars are just a few ideas.

6. Mason jars, whether used as every day glasses, vases for wildflowers or storage containers, are a staple in every farmhouse kitchen.

Bringing The Indoors To The Outdoors

Longer days and warmer weather make May the perfect time to celebrate National Barbecue Month.

As the weather warms up, so does the housing market, and real estate agents might find their buyers spending just as much time evaluating the outside of the house as they do the inside. They might also be working with sellers who want to make some improvements to the home that will deliver the most return.

The National Gardening Association reported that homeowners in the United States spent close to $40 billion last year on all garden and outdoor-related services and products. And, according to real estate experts, these were wise expenses. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in landscaping projects, homeowners can see up to a $2 return on investment.

Fifty-one percent of buyers surveyed by Realtor.com earlier this year said that outdoor living space was the most attractive quality of a home – even more so than open floor plans and curb appeal. To that end, more than half of homeowners surveyed told Houzz.com they would be improving their home’s outdoor footprint this summer. What are they going to improve? A whopping 98 percent want to add or upgrade patios, terraces and decks.

Outdoor areas add living space without having to include walls and a roof.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, 95 percent of people want a complete outdoor living space with an outdoor kitchen and outdoor living area.

The most popular features wanted in outdoor living spaces are:

 

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Grills & cooktops

Fire pits

Outdoor fireplaces

Seating areas

Lighting

 

Outdoor Living Area Tips to Share with Your Clients

The key elements to improving an outdoor living space and adding to your home’s value are:

  1. Build an outdoor area. Patios and decks are very desirable for homeowners; however, they come with a hefty price tag. You can affordably improve your outdoor footprint with a stone or cement patio.
  2. Purchase Outdoor Furniture. Bring your “indoor” comforts outside. Advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many sizes and styles that you can decorate much the same way that you would any room inside.
  3. Splurge on a Good Grill. Depending on your preference, gas or charcoal, grills are the “hottest” commodity in your outdoor space. A built-in cooktop is a popular feature and makes outdoor entertaining fun.
  4. Include a Fire Element. Whether you decide on a built-in stone hearth fireplace, a firepit or a chiminea, a fire element adds ambience and warmth to an outdoor space that can be used year-round.

 

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  1. Consider Entertainment. Be it an elaborate outdoor entertainment system, a wireless player or a portable stereo, music adds atmosphere and entertainment to the area.
  2. Grow Your Food. A garden is a great addition to your outdoor area. Vegetables, fruits and herbs are not only an added visual attraction, they are economical and handy.
  3. Lay Ground Cover and Stonework. Lawn maintenance is a major consumption of time. It can be reduced by adding stonework and ground covering to areas around your outdoor living space. Additionally, stone makes for safer grilling areas, fewer bugs and easy cleanup.

When Renovations and Major Improvements Are Out of the Budget HiRes.jpg

When making permanent additions and renovations to the backyard are not options, homeowners can still spruce things up and make their backyard an enjoyable part of their home by following these simple steps:

Step 1 – Clean. Clear away debris, toss out dead plants and plant flowers or herbs in unused pots.

Step 2 – Refresh. Outdoor furniture grows old and tired from sitting outside. A fresh coat of paint and new cushions add an instant facelift. The same applies for wood decks. If you have a deck, a strip and stain will make it look as good as new.

Step 3 – Enhance. Solar lighting can used be in lieu of expensive electrical lighting.

Expanding the indoor living space to the outdoor living space not only adds value to a home, but also enjoyment.

 

Spring Cleaning Will Increase Property Value

How to Boost Property Values This Spring

Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity for home owners to de-clutter and organize their home. It is an especially important task for home owners who currently have their home listed or plan to list in the near future. Taking the time to spruce up the home can help increase value and make a good impression on potential buyers.

Here are a few simple projects that can have a big impact on a home.

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Real estate agents can share these tips with clients to help them prepare their home for sale. To download this graphic click here.

By taking the time to deep clean and reorganize this spring, home owners can increase their resale value over the short term.

It is important to note that not all spring cleaning projects are created equal. Some projects may have a nice temporary appearance, but they don’t hold up in the long run. When time is an issue, the priority should be cleaning overgrown landscaping, painting the interior and exterior, cleaning all baseboards and clearing gutters of debris which causes pest and paint problems when left untreated.

Time permitting, power wash patios and decks to remove mold and dirt to make the area appear clean and newer. And, don’t forget the attic. As buyers are not house guests, expect them to look in closets and attics. Take time to really organize and clean.

Which Rooms Are The Most Influential In A Home?

A few small changes to these two rooms creates a big impact!  

According to today’s buyers, the kitchen and the master bathroom are most critiqued rooms in a home. What does this mean for sellers? They should look to improve these two influential rooms first. Whether undertaking a major remodel or making small improvements, these are the two most lived in rooms in the home and they draw the most attention.

Show Off The Improvements

During a tour, most buyers will notice and appreciate a new vanity or countertops more than new gutters. They also notice and appreciate fresh paint and carpets. But it can be overwhelming for homeowners to consider all the potential upgrades when preparing a home for sale. However, there are two rooms that should not be ignored. If sellers are tight on budget and time, they should turn their focus to these two rooms first.

  • Create a chef’s kitchen buyers can see themselves cooking in
  • Turn a basic bathroom into a spa-like oasis where buyers want to escape

While the kitchen and master bathroom are the most expensive areas of the home in terms of remodeling, there are some budget-friendly ways to make improvements buyers will notice.


Turn up the Heat in the Kitchen

Kitchens are the heart of a home and so sellers should pay attention to detail when planning improvements.

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Here are some of the most popular kitchen projects with the highest return on investment:

1. Install all real wood cabinets. Buyers are rarely impressed with flimsy shelves and composite materials. If attaching hardware, keep it neutral in style.

2. Buy commercial appliances, or go for the look of commercial. Upscale cooktops and ranges create real impact in the kitchen.

3. Seek to use natural wood, dark laminate wood or stone floors that clean easily. Spills can happen anywhere, but they are very common in the kitchen. Avoid light floor colors and grout as they show dirt and stains easier.

4. Install stone or granite countertops. Tile countertops are difficult to keep clean for the same reason tile floors are – the grout stains easily. Single material countertops, which are clean and easy to wipe down, are a favorite of most home chefs. They look beautiful too.

5. Update the lighting fixtures. Sellers will be amazed at the return they get from simply upgrading the kitchen lighting. Whenever remodeling to sell, keep in mind style varies, so keep items as neutral as possible.

Bonus Tip: When showing the home, declutter and organize the kitchen counters. Hide the coffee maker and toaster. Remove all clutter and magnets from the fridge. You’ll be surprised at how much larger your kitchen looks without the clutter.

Create a Spa-Like Oasis in the Master Bathroom

Sellers don’t have to do a lot to make a big improvement in the master bathroom. A new tub liner, or “shell,” can make a marred tub look like new and save the seller from having to replace it.

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If not replacing the vanity, a new faucet, new lights, fresh caulking around the tub, a new towel rack and a new mirror can make a tired bathroom come alive.

Spa-Like Bathroom Upgrades Buyers Love Include:

  • Walk-in showers
  • Dual Vanity
  • Stone or natural wood flooring
  • Modern and bright lighting fixtures
  • Ample storage space for towels and personal care products

Bonus Tip: For bathrooms, always display a sparkling clean bathtub and commode. There should be no dirty clothes or even hampers visible. The bathroom should be clean and smell fresh.

A kitchen or bath upgrade can be as simple as a weekend-long, low-budget brush-up. With the right planning, some of the most noticeable repairs do not require much. A fresh facelift will go a long way in the buyer’s mind.

And, as for the other areas of the house, don’t skip a fresh coat of paint and replace the carpets. These details add value and make the home more attractive to buyers.

 

Oscar Winning Home Staging Tips

Home staging

Why Home Staging Sells

Real estate agents and sellers know how important it is to show a home that is presented in its finest form.  Statistics show that staged homes sell faster and for more money. Interestingly, it is estimated that only 10 percent of prospective buyers can visualize a home looking any different than the way it looks when they walk in the door. They need help and you can help them!

Staged homes give the perception that a home is well-maintained and stylish. Working with the flow of a home, eliminating personal effects and clutter, and arranging furniture can make all the difference a home needs be best presented.

The Two Types of Staging

Occupied Home

In an occupied home, furniture can rearranged to showcase each room’s functionality and flow. Removing an abundance of personal effects allows the buyer to envision themselves in the home, rather than feel like an outside guest visiting. If the budget permits, upgrading floors, replacing countertops and adding a fresh coat of paint go a long way to spruce up a home.

Vacant Home

As is often the case with a vacant home, the buyer is focused on the things that need fixing, the cracks in the walls, the worn carpets, the dated countertops, etc.  Buyers can also have difficulty envisioning what to do with the space. Staging offers suggestions they can build on.

Here Are a Few Pro Staging Tips to Help Your Sellers

1. Scent
Candles, freshly baked cookies or room fragrances may seem to evoke pleasant associations, however, they can also bring about negative associations. While one person may love the smell of a particular scent, another may hate it.

Over masking with scent is also a red flags for buyers that there is an odor issue in the home. If there is an odor issue in a home, it is best to address the cause, rather than mask it.

2. Accents
Area rugs, pillows, bedding and lighting are a great ways to introduce color and newness to rooms. A family of color throughout the home weaves warmth and cohesiveness together. Well-lit rooms evoke space and openness.

3. Declutter and Depersonalize
The first thing a stager will likely do is remove many of your personal effects and decorations – do not take it personally. It is important to take a step back and realize that buyers want to envision your home, as their own. Creating a neutral environment will help buyers connect with a house and see themselves living in it.

4. Show Off Your Storage
Remove excess furniture, clothes and items in storage areas of the home such as closets. Buyers want to see the size of closets and storage area.

5. Don’t Forget the Outside!
Curb appeal is your homes first impression. Spruce up its curb appeal by:
Mowing the lawn and trimming any necessary trees/shrubs
Power washing your driveway, deck, walkway and any other outside area
Add a fresh potted plant and a new doormat to welcome buyers to your home.

The benefits of a well-staged home are plentiful. A staged home suggests that the home has been well maintained and may even shift attention away from imperfections and otherwise negative selling points.

Do you want to provide staging expertise for your clients? Read about how a Chicago area Keller Williams team has staged its way to multi-million dollar success.