Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Quick and Easy Ways to Increase Your Home's Value

When thinking of improvements to make to a home before putting it up for sale, most people automatically gravitate toward remodeled bathrooms or kitchens. While it's a great idea to update both, you won't want to forget the little things you can do to attract potential buyers and quickly increase the value of your home.

If you want to start small, consider the following tips to quickly and easily increase your home's value.

Go Green
Green homes are extremely hot right now. Buyers are looking for homes with environmentally friendly floors, cabinets, countertops and even insulation. Finding ways to conserve energy is always a plus, too, such as installing timed thermostats and fixing any leaky windows or doors.
Replace Old HardwareSimple updates to door locksets, outdoor lighting fixtures and house numbers can give your home personal style and class. If your existing hardware is outdated or dingy, an update to a more modern or highly polished set of matching hardware will instantly make your home look more updated and well maintained.

Play it Safe
Buyers will value a home that is up to date in safety. All smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be in good working order. If there are any flickering lights or popping breakers, fix them immediately. An installed security system will offer potential buyers a peace of mind. You'll also want to make sure all handrails and grab bars are secured tightly and free from wobbles.

Free Space
A clean, orderly home appears larger than it really is. Clear up any clutter and open up as much space as you can. Free, open window treatments will allow more light to stream in, making the home brighter and feel less constricted. Another way to free up space is by organizing closets or even installing built-in closet organizers, which is a huge attraction for buyers.

Don't forget these small but important steps for improving the look and feel of your home before you put it on the market. Buyers will appreciate your home if it is well maintained, and you may find its price increased, as well.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New Home Trends

With the start of each new year typically comes the emergence of new trends for your home. If you are planning on redecorating or selling your home in 2008, it is important to stay up to date on the trends potential buyers will be looking for. With this in mind, here are some 2008 trends for your home.

Color is the biggest selling point for your home this year. This year, colors are more muted and natural than highly saturated and bright. The dining room is where you entertain friends, share the holidays with family and celebrate the big and little events in your life. So, when it comes to color, you want a warm and cozy yet energetic feel. Choose a softer hue and then, if you choose, incorporate brighter colors with accents.

This year, inject new life into living rooms by bringing your color and d├ęcor up to date. Living rooms in 2008 are all about adding something unexpected like an accent wall or cushion, rug and other accessories. There are many ways to update your living room. Choose a style that fits your personality.

Floor lamp lighting is out for 2008. This year it is all about natural light. If your home lacks natural light, consider installing recessed lighting or new sconces so a potential buyer won't struggle in trying to figure out how to brighten up the space. This will really open up space and upgrade your home. Change out old light bulbs and use halogen bulbs, they give a cleaner more modern look to any home.

Hardwood floors are still a great option for a 2008 home. REALTORS® agree that most buyers are hunting for hardwood floors. They have the longest life and are not predicted to go out of style. If you can't afford hardwood, go for a synthetic like Pergo, it won't look exactly the same and some buyers may notice a difference, but it is your best bet for a look that is similar.

Whether you are buying, selling or just looking in 2008, be on top of the trends for your home. If you are ready to put your home on the market, remember to contact me; I can offer maximum exposure for your home using Web sites, direct mail and other marketing tools.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Gift Ideas Meant to Be Shared

(ARA) - Need a gift for your valentine that is personal and luxurious? What about something delicious that you can share?

Gourmet food gifts, with options as varied as restaurant-quality steaks to European chocolates to wine and cheese baskets, are the new trend. According to a new study by FoodNavigator-USA.com, food gifts have skyrocketed in popularity, increasing by 47 percent between 2004 and 2006. While the demand for other gift categories has been slowing down, food gifts are becoming the first choice for many consumers.

“Our online sales increased by 66 percent last year,” says Ed Scavuzzo, president of the Kansas City Steak Company, an online food retailer specializing in high-quality steaks and seafood “We shipped over one million packages of our Kansas City beef in 2007, and we are expecting even larger increases in 2008. We have just completed the introduction of our redesigned Web site that is more functional, more informative, and easier to use. This new Web site will help us continue to provide expert service to our individual, as well as our corporate gift buyers. We offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, so our product and our service have to be superior.”

Gourmet gifts of food are becoming the first choice of online consumers because of the high quality of products and the ease of ordering. There is an incredible range of products available from online specialty food retailers that are offered nowhere else. From fine chocolates and decadent desserts, to hard-to-find smoked meats and cheeses, to steakhouse-quality steaks and seafood, the list goes on and on.

Whether you want a personalized snack basket, a regional wine selection or a gourmet meal featuring top-of-the-line filet mignon, poultry, or seafood, your gift can be found from the easily-accessible convenience of your own computer. A click of the mouse at any time of day or night can provide you with customized gifts, complete with a personal greeting.

“Everyone enjoys receiving a gift of top-quality gourmet food,” Scavuzzo says. “It is a gift that is easy to give, easy to receive, and can be shared.”

For expert advice and ideas, visit http://www.kansascitysteaks.com/.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Stop Junk Mail Dead in Its Tracks

(ARA) – Ever stop and wonder how that mortgage broker from out of state managed to find your name and address? Or how the unfamiliar home improvement company that called you last night knew you were shopping around for windows?

We often give out our name, address and phone number without a second thought -- to the salesman at the home improvement store, to the sweepstakes company promising the chance at a $1 million prize, to the marketers who promise to send free samples in exchange for completing a survey. In a perfect world, all companies would protect our personal information. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

“There is a $10 billion industry profiting from the trading and selling of consumers’ personal information -- without consumers’ knowledge or their consent,” says Steven Gal, CEO of ProQuo.com, a La Jolla, Calif. company founded to help provide consumers with meaningful choice and control over how their personal information is used. Gal points out that in many cases, these so-called “data brokers” get their lists from reputable companies the consumer has done business with, but had no idea would be selling their personal information.

Companies are now realizing that in this day and age many of their customers are skittish about the idea of their personal information falling into the wrong hands, especially due to the threat of identity theft. As a result, many are now offering their customers opportunities to “opt-out,” or to keep their information private. You likely received an opt-out offer hidden in the privacy notice that came with your latest phone or credit card bill.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest Identity Theft Survey, nearly two million Americans have had their personal information used to open fraudulent accounts. In addition, the practices of data brokers lead to massive amounts of junk mail -- Americans now receive nearly four tons of junk mail annually.

Here are five easy steps you can take to help prevent misuse of your personal information and reduce junk mail:

1. Many stores offer "rewards" or "points" programs. Often stores consider your participation as consent to share your information without directly asking for your permission. If you want to avoid getting junk mail or other promotional material, either don't join these programs, or ask the stores not to share your personal information.

2. Take advantage of a free service like ProQuo.com to remove your name and personal information from thousands of marketing lists, data brokers and other organizations that send you unsolicited mail. ProQuo.com is a free Web site where you easily set up an account and choose the organizations that you want to stop using your personal information and sending you unwanted mail.

3. The next time you buy something that comes with a warranty card, do not send it back. These are used primarily to market more products to you, and you are not required to send in a completed warranty card -- your receipt is all you need to make a warranty claim.

4. If you don't want your personal information in the hands of data brokers, avoid putting your name and address in the box for a free drawing or other promotion. These are surefire ways to get your name, address and telephone number on multiple junk mail or telemarketing lists.

5. Avoid the urge to enter sweepstakes that require you to provide your contact information. Many times these are a front to build mailing databases, and the only guaranteed prize you will win is a mailbox overloaded with marketing offers.

For more information on how to take control of your personal information from marketers, log on to www.proquo.com and establish your free account today. ProQuo says the site can help people reduce their junk mail by 50 to 90 percent within just three months.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Monday, February 04, 2008

New vs. Existing Homes

New home or previously owned? That is, perhaps, one of the first questions you may ask yourself in your home search process. Perhaps you've fantasized about purchasing a fixer-upper and giving it an extreme makeover. Or maybe you've always dreamed of building a home from the ground up and making all new color and appliance choices. Whichever way you're leaning, you'll want to weigh the pros and cons of both before you decide.

New homes offer:

Convenience and new amenities.
Standard options for new homes usually include amenities such as whirlpool tubs, central air/heat and large mirrors.

Peace of mind.
Safety devices such as smoke detectors, circuit breakers and ground fault interrupters come standard in newer homes. Also, new homes are subject to improved safety requirements, which means no-lead paint and asbestos-free insulation are used in its construction.

High-tech solutions in heating and cooling and state-of-the-art materials (such as windows) sometimes ensure a more comfortable, energy-efficient surrounding.
Existing homes offer:

The hallmark of an existing home is a well-developed neighborhood with established zoning laws and school districts.
Resale value.
The return-on-investment for an existing home is often greater; especially in historic neighborhoods where the entire area is undergoing renovation and experiencing an upswing in property values.
Typically, there's more room for negotiation — especially when it comes to incorporating items such as a repair allowance. In addition, expect to save money on "hidden" costs such as landscaping, unforeseen repairs or dues for a homeowner's association.

Keep in mind that both choices have associated costs. New homes are subject to elevated construction and lumber costs, while existing homes often require some type of repair or remodel. If you're thinking of remodeling, be sure to get an idea of common remodeling costs for existing homes.

Regardless of whether you choose a new or existing home, one thing's certain: home ownership remains a strong investment and home improvement a good re-investment of your financial resources.