Clean, clean, clean. Remove the vegetation growing in cracks in concrete walkways or between paving blocks, wash down the siding, clean the roof and gutters, wash the windows, and make your home look move-in fresh. Don’t forget outbuildings and storage sheds.
Spruce up the yard. Mow and edge the lawn, and get rid of weeds, leaves and dead branches. Cut back shrubs that are hiding your home’s beauty, especially around windows. Beds or pots of annuals add a splash of color and make the home feel cared-for.
Make it new again. If the patio furniture or backyard play equipment is past its prime, give it a new coat of paint or remove it. A fresh, neutral coat of paint on the house can make it look new, and contemporary color schemes can take years off an older design style. Tasks such as refinishing a deck or recoating a driveway with asphalt can have big payoffs.
Make the entryway say “welcome.” Your door makes the first close-up impression. Consider replacing it with one that’s more stylish, paint it a contrasting color, or add some new hardware such as a kickplate or door knocker. Adding a seating area can also make the entryway more inviting.
Dress up your windows. Add some shutters or planter boxes to give the “eyes” of your home some soul.
Three ways to evaluate your home’s curb appeal:
Park where a potential buyer would, and walk towards the house. Can you see the best features of the house, or are they blocked by shrubbery? What detracts from the appeal of the home? A cracked driveway? Water stains below the gutters? Address those first impressions first.
Take digital photos of the exterior. Look at color photos first, then look at them again in black and white to see problem areas more clearly without the distraction of color.
Evaluate your home at different times of day and from different angles. Take another look at your home at dusk. Would additional lighting make your home more attractive? People will try to drive around to see your backyard. If you have an alley, how does your home look from that angle?
See our free Guide to Selling a Home for even more tips from the pros.
Ahhhh…the end of tax time. Now that you’ve filed another year’s return, it’s time to sort through that stack of old paperwork and shred what you can. Here are some quick tips on what you should keep and for how long…
Tax Returns: 7 years. This includes but is not limited to W-2 and 1099 forms, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, brokerage statements, and canceled checks or receipts for all deductions.
Home or Condo Sales: 6 years. Keep your HUD statement and other records documenting the sale.
Paycheck Stubs: 1 Year until you receive your annual W-2 from your employer. After confirming that the information on the stubs matches the W-2, shred the stubs. (If it doesn’t match, alert your employer immediately and get a corrected W-2, known as a W-2c).
IRA Contributions: Indefinitely. Make sure you keep the records if you make a nondeductible contribution to an IRA. When the time comes to withdraw funds, you will have proof that you’ve already paid taxes on this money.
Retirement/Savings/Investment Statements: Until you retire or close the account. Keep monthly or quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary, confirm that the statement amounts match up, then shred the monthlies or quarterlies.
Many of us are on the fence about whether we should buy and/or sell in our current market, and for good reason…we’ve heard that values are down and foreclosures are up. It’s a scary world out there.
Fortunately, that’s only part of the story. The bigger, more exciting news is that our historically low interest rates coupled with affordable home prices have created an incredible opportunity to buy. How incredible? Let’s just say we may never see this kind of buying power again in our lifetimes. Why is this?
Interest rates directly affect the amount of house you can afford. For example, someone who qualifies for a $700,000 house at a 5% interest rate would only be able to afford a $564,000 house if rates went up to 7%. Over the past 30 years, the average conforming interest rate was 8.998%. As of June 1st, 2011 it was 4.5%.
With interest rates predicted to rise in mid-summer, now just may be the best time to jump off the fence and invest in your future…
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