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11 Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Summertime is the perfect time to relax and stop worrying about muddy footprints, snow removal, and other problems. Unfortunately, it's also a great time to catch up on, or keep up on, maintenance of your home. Winters in Vermont can be brutal, and it seems like we haven't seen the sunshine since summer began. Making sure your gutters are clean, your roof is leakproof, and taking some time to deep clean your carpets, can do wonders for a house that's been put through the ringer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, brings us 11 things you should at least consider looking at this summer.

  1. Clean out your Gutters - This is a given, you want rain water to be able to drain efficiently off your roof, specifically into an area that it's supposed to.
  2. Deep Fridge Cleanout - We're all guilty of forgetting something that has been in the fridge for a little too long. Maybe something spilled and left a sticky mess, the point is, it get's gross, really fast. The easiest way to stay on top of cleaning your fridge is to schedule a time each month or so to keep up with it.
  3. Change batteries in your Smoke Detector - Another very important thing to keep up on, your smoke detector is there to keep you safe. Make sure it's functioning properly so you know you can depend on it in an emergency.
  4. Change your Filters - This is especially important if you have allergies. An overused filter will allow more dirt, pollen, dust, and other allergens to enter your home.
  5. Deep Clean your Carpets - As a pet owner, I know how dirty carpets can get in just a short amount of time and a simple vacuum isn't always going to cut it. Stains and smells can set into your carpet and you may not even notice because you become desensitized to it. Do yourself, and anyone who visits your home a favor and do a deep clean. You can usually rent one at a local supermarket.
  6. Have your Air Conditioning Unit Serviced - Air conditioners work better and last longer if they are regularly serviced and cleaned. If it's not working at it's best, it could be racking up your electricity bill.
  7. Check your Deck - Your deck stands strong through all the seasons but that doesn't mean it shouldn't get a little TLC. Harsh rain and snow can do a number on it so you should keep an eye out for loose planks, nails, and possible rotting. Putting a fresh coat of sealant may be required.
  8. Shower Heads - This can be a place many of us don't think to look but you don't want to miss it. Bacteria and soap scum can build up and eventually affect the flow of your shower. Check out Wikihow's two methods of cleaning a removable and non-removable shower head.
  9. Dryer Vent - This is a must for keeping your house safe. Dryer lint is a highly flammable substance that accumulates after each use. It's best to empty this after every load to be safe. 
  10. Check the Roof - A long winter or rainy season can leave your roof needing a little touch-up. Check for any loose tiles or shingles to help prevent leaks
  11. Do a Leak Check - To save water, make sure to check hoses and faucets for leaks. Even a small drop adds up to a lot of water over time.

 

 

Festival Season

Summer in Vermont is bursting with festivals and fairs for anyone and everyone. We like to have a good time, and you can see that with how many events we have going on in June alone! From family friendly Renaissance fairs to more music festivals than you can count, we've got something for everyone. Check out the lineup: 

June 10th - (Warren) Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival - Dozens of brewers, three bands, and a variety of food vendors make up the Brew-Grass Festival in the Lincoln Peak Courtyard.

June 23rd - 25th (Essex Junction) - Vermont Quilt Festival - The oldest and largest quilt festival in New England is back for another year! Contests, classes, presentations, exhibits, and much more make this a great way to immerse yourself in the quilting community.

June 23rd - 25th (Stowe) Stowe B3 Festival (Bikes, Brews, & Beats) - Kicking off on a Friday with a block party for the whole family. The rest of the weekend hosts multiple group rides and other events for mountain bike enthusiasts.

June 24th - (Waterbury) Grooves and Brews Festival - Following the Waterbury Parade and ending with the firework display, this festival brings you three kicking bands, tons of delicious food options, the best of von Trapp Brewery, and much more!

June 24th - (Stowe) - 25th Vermont Renaissance Faire - Travel back in time as you enjoy all the best of a festival with a Renaissance twist. Attendees are encouraged to come in garb, so it makes for some pretty memorable photos!

June 29th - July 1st (Warren) Frendly Gathering Music Festival - (There is no "I" in frends) With over twenty bands playing throughout the festival grounds this event is all about the fun. Enjoy camping, yoga, art, local food, dance workshops, and much more!

 

 

 

Tips To Get Your House Sold

Let's face it, most Vermont towns can sell themselves with their close-knit feel, community activities, local amenities, beautiful landscapes, etc., but that doesn't mean someone will be willing to buy a house there if it doesn't make a good impression. Buying a house is a huge deal, and you want someone to be wowed when they enter yours for an open house or private viewing. Making a few improvements doesn't have to break the bank, but it can be the difference between them walking out the door or making an offer. Jaymi Naciri, from Realty Times, has written up ten tips to help you on your way.

Staging your home is a critical step in getting it sold, but all the recommended updates and upgrades can get pricey. Thankfully, there are tricks you can use to make your home look bigger, better, and brighter, without spending a dime.

1. Fix up your floors

Don't want to pay to replace or refinish your floors? No prob. Grab a brown crayon to fill in divots. A one-to-one mix of olive oil and vinegar rubbed directly on scratched areas will also help make it look new. You can also use canola if you don't have olive, but then use a one-part vinegar, three-part oil mixture. 

Floors look great but don't sound so hot? "Fix creaky wood floors with a generous dusting of baby powder," said One Crazy House. "Work it into the cracks until the floor is no longer noisy."

2. Make it sparkle

Presumably, you already have cleaning supplies, sponges, and paper towels in the house. Now all you need is some elbow grease to make your home look shiny and new.

When selling your home, you need to take the cleaning beyond your typical weekly run-through. Think "Spring cleaning" turned up a notch or two. Remember that potential buyers will be looking everywhere, including inside drawers and cabinets. Make sure they're crumb-free and well organized. They may also open your refrigerator. While this can seem intrusive, you don't want to give them a reason to walk away, so make sure to tidy up the inside, wipe up any spills, throw away rotten food, and put a nice big box of Baking Soda in there to absorb any leftover smells.

3. Let the light in

Everyone is looking for "natural light," so show off what you've got by opening up those blinds and drapes. Did you just reveal a bunch of dirty windows and sills? Ewww. Grab that cleaning spray and make them shine. An old toothbrush is a great way to get gunk out of corners and in window tracks.

If your place isn't light and bright, even with all the blinds and drapes drawn, you'll need to depend on artificial lighting. This is no time to have lightbulbs out. Go hit that stash in your laundry room cabinet and switch out for fresh bulbs.

4. Declutter

Home stagers will tell you there is no more important step when preparing your home for sale. "If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go, end of story," said Houzz. "It's not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage (or a nice relative's garage) temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble."

Do a walk-through with an outsider's eye, or ask a friend or family member to help since they'll be more objective. Anything that isn't used regularly or is taking away from the open feel of the house can be packed away. Small appliances and anything else hanging out on countertops can be put in a cabinet if you're not ready to stick it in a box. You want people to see the bones of the house, not your blender.

5. Depersonalize

While, you're decluttering, keep personalization in mind. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they might not be able to do so if they can't take their eyes off your wall of taxidermy.

6. Create closet space

Even if you have the world's largest walk-in closet in the master bedroom, you can give buyers the impression that there isn't enough space by overfilling it. Stagers recommend taking half of your clothes and shoes out and packing them away to create some airiness. Does the idea of packing up your stuff freak you out? You're going to have to do it when you move, anyway. This is just giving you a head start.

7. Remove the stink

Does your home greet guests with a big whiff of cat box? Potential home buyers might just turn right back around and get in the car. You also want to make sure your animals aren't irritating those who are touring or impeding them from entering certain rooms. Don't want to board them? Surely you have a friend or family member who'd love to watch your pets during showings, right?

8. Pull those weeds

You really can't overestimate the importance of curb appeal today. Even if you don't want to spring for a few bags of mulch and some colorful flowers to frame your door, there are easy and free steps you can take to give buyers a great first impression. Dispose of any visible weeds, leaves, and other unwanted stuff hanging out in the yard. Give your bushes a trim and mow the yard. If you can't power wash your home, at least wash the outside of the exterior windows that are within eye level.

And don't forget about the area closest to your front door. Sweep that stoop and make sure your welcome mat is actually welcoming, instead of dusty and dirty.

9. Address your furniture

Some of the most common problems in homes when it comes to furniture: 1) It's ugly; 2) It's old; There's too much of it; The arrangement is uninviting. Ugly and old might be hard to overcome when you're trying not to spend money, but the rest you can do something about.

"Sometimes when sellers are trying to make a small room seem like it's more spacious, they have a tendency to push all of their furniture against the walls to leave a big open space in the middle. This type of arrangement may leave a lot of open space, but ultimately leaves the interior design looking unfinished -- a big turn off for buyers. In this situation, it's better to create furniture groupings. First, envision the way the space should be used," said Freshome. "Do you have a huge flatscreen TV that requires a lot of seating? Is there a corner in your living room that would serve perfectly as a reading nook? Group the furniture in ways that would make sense for the intended use. Then, make sure that there are clean and direct pathways through the room. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and one of the quickest ways to do that is by creating a cozy seating area that's fit for conversation."

If the problem is that you've created a crowded space by using too much furniture, ditch a few pieces in a friend's garage for the time being (or, even better, donate them!) to create an intimate seating area. You can always bring those pieces back into your new home.

10. Borrow stuff

If, at the end of the day, your home still isn't looking show-ready, maybe it's time to raid a friend's house. Have a loved one who has an extra couch that's more neutral than yours or a couple of great accessories? It's time to test their love for you.

To read the original article click here.

Improve the Value of Your Home in 5 Easy Steps

Damien Justus, of Realty Times, offers some great suggestions to boost the value of your home without going completely overboard. These are things that can be applied to any house, in any neighborhood. 

What increases the value of one home might not increase the value of another. A resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen in Wyoming might not hold as much value for buyers as the same resort-style pool and outdoor kitchen added to a home in South Florida. What works and what doesn't is dependent upon the current market conditions in your area, what buyers in your area want, and the overall feel of your neighborhood. It's not to say you cannot add something no one else has, but you have to add the right thing.

Building a 4,000-square foot addition to your 1,200-square foot home in a neighborhood that consists of all small starter homes is not a wise home improvement. If you're looking to add some value to your home, try one of these five easy steps that almost always adds value no matter where your home is located.

Start Outside

What's the first thing buyers see when they drive up to your home? Your lawn and front door, and they make more of an impression than you might imagine. If your lawn is a mess, your door needs some paint, and your house is dirty, the first thing you do is get it all cleaned up. You're not going to spend thousands on elaborate landscaping, but you might be surprised just how much of a difference a freshly mowed lawn and some brand-new mulch in the flower beds make.

Move it Indoors

Paint is everything in a home. You can have your home any color you want but if you choose to sell and want to increase the value of your home, you're going to add value by adding a nice, neutral paint color to every wall. No more personal colors in bedrooms, no more accent walls, and no more old, dirty paint. Even if your paint is only a few years old, you will make a big difference in the overall value with a fresh coat.

Upgrade the Fixtures

Next is the fixtures. It's time for new door knobs, light fixtures, and faucets in the kitchen and bath. Cabinet and drawer pulls are also important, and every one of these very small details makes a very large difference. You can upgrade these for next to nothing while seeing a significant improvement on the value of your home.

Fix Any Small Issues

If you want to add value to your home, it's time to fix the small issues. If you have a leaking faucet, get it fixed. If the air conditioner makes a funny noise when it runs, call the home warranty company and ask them to come out and take a look. If it's broken, they'll replace it. If it's fixable, you just got rid of that pesky noise and increased the overall value of your home in the eyes of buyers. Small issues are some of the biggest issues. Repair any little dings or holes in the walls, fix any broken baseboards, and repair anything that's not quite perfect. These little things add up substantially.

Clean it Up

Finally, it's time to clean your house. Hire a professional to come in and clean every single nook and cranny. You're not tidying up for dinner guests anymore. You're cleaning cabinets, drawers, walls, floorboards, ground, baseboards, trim, and everything in between. You might not think a home that's clean is worth more, but you'd be surprised. If your sparkling clean house is for sale for the same price as another house down the street that's almost identical but isn't spotless and has a lower asking price, people will want your home. Even if it's more money, it's less work for them and it's cleaner.

A house is an investment, and that's why it's imperative you do what you can to increase the value of your home without spending much money. It's not always expensive upgrades and renovations that add a few extra dollars to the overall cost of your home. Sometimes it's small, easily forgettable details that make the biggest difference to a buyer.

To read the original article click here.

Homes with High Standards

Green building practices and Energy Star ratings are growing in importance among home buyers and home builders, alike. Paul Arnot, of Arnot Development Group in Waterbury, is a respected builder who understands the importance of green design and technology. Arnot is well known for his Waterbury Commons village community, which meets the Energy Star criteria. It is a close-knit neighborhood that embodies the term "community."

"The Blue Energy Star on a new home means it was designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today. When Energy Star's rigorous requirements are applied to new home construction the result is a home built better from the ground up, delivering better durability, better comfort, and reduced utility and maintenance costs," according to Energy Star.

Not only do Waterbury Common homes earn the Energy Star rating, but other aspects of the community fit nicely in the sustainability category of being in close proximity to public transit, and walkable to many village amenities like shopping, restaurants, library, schools and recreational venues.

For more information on Waterbury Commons, visit waterburycommonsvt.com

Pond Skimming Season

It's just about April which means pond skimming is just around the corner! For anyone who is at a loss for what this event could possibly be, it's just as it sounds. Contestants race down a small hill and try and see how far they can make it across a 'pond' with their skis or boards as they skim across the water. Awards are typically given out for best splash, longest skim, style, best costume, etc. It's a great pastime that draws hundreds to the mountains for a fun-filled day. 

Bolton, for example, designates a theme for each years' pond skimming event. This year is 1966 to celebrate their 50th year. Visit each mountain's page below for more details on their event.

April 1st - Stowe Mountain Resort

April 1st - Bolton Valley

April 8th - Sugarbush Resort

 

 

Expectations for Your First Year in a New Home

Jaymi Naciri, of Realty Times, is here to prepare you for the inevitable. Your first year in a home is going to be great, but it's also going to challenge you. Naciri has created a list of some things you might want to keep in mind while getting settled in your new place so, when something comes up, you can handle it with ease.

Moving can be exciting, and it can also be scary. It can be smooth sailing or so wrought with silly (or serious) issues that your cat peeing in the box of towels because you haven't unpacked his cat dish yet sends you into the kind of rolling-on-the-ground, slapping-your-leg, crying-big-fat-tears laughter that makes your family wonder if you need medical intervention. And that's just the beginning of the adventure.

In the first year in a new home, you'll likely experience the full spectrum of human emotions, sometimes in the span of a few minutes. And while you can't know everything that's going to happen, you can prepare yourself for some of the inevitabilities, of both the good and not-so-good variety.

Something's going to break

It could just be a sprinkler head or it could be your air conditioning unit in the heat of summer, but knowing that something will eventually break in the house is the best reason of all to be proactive. Being able to quickly deal with a leaking water heater or a roof that's been damaged in a hail storm is key to minimizing the damage to your finances, and your sanity.

There are four main keys to being prepared:

  • Saving your money -"Owning a house doesn't change the rule of thumb that it's wise to have approximately six months' worth of income in a rainy day fund, and more experts are now recommending that you build up nine months to a year," said Zacks Investment Research. "What changes is the amount of your monthly expenses that will be consumed if you need to tap into the fund. If your mortgage, tax, insurance, utilities and other payments rise with a new mortgage, you could use your savings up more quickly. With this in mind, if you were saving less than the guideline, intending to tighten your belt, the increased bills that come with homeownership makes skimping on your rainy day fund a dangerous business."
  • Knowing where everything is located - You don't want to get caught in an emergency situation and be scrambling around trying to figure out how to shut off your gas.
  • Finding a trustworthy handyman - Unless someone in the house is handy, and actually does the stuff they say they are going to do in a timely manner, you'll want to find a handyman. Having someone you can call in a pinch to repair the doggy door or the garage door opener or add a ceiling fan to a room that stays five degrees warmer than the rest of the house is clutch. Next Door is a great place to find a handyman, as well as a babysitter, dog walker, and lost cat.
  • Getting a warranty - In many cases, you can buy a home warranty after you've purchased your home. If you have an older home, are someone who could be sunk by a broken air conditioning unit that costs several thousands of dollars to repair or replace, or just want to make sure you're covered for all those things that could bust, a warranty might be a good thing to consider. "A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home's major components, such as the furnace, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical system," said Investopedia. "A home warranty may also cover major appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and swimming pools. Most plans have a basic component that provides all homeowners who purchase a policy with certain coverages. Homeowners can also purchase one or more optional components that provide additional coverage at additional cost."

Junk mail city

Expect to see a full mailbox for months after you move. A lot of it will be junk, but there will also be some valuable stuff in there, like coupons from local stores that can save you money on furniture and housewares. Don't forget to also take advantage of the coupons that are part of the U.S. Postal Services change of address package.

You'll probably also get some refinancing offers. If your home happens to gain equity during the first year and rates dip, you might be able to refi and lower your payment.

You're going to make friends

Unless you're a total hermit who never exits the house even to take a walk, get the mail, or water the flowers, you're bound to make some new friends in your new neighborhood. Maybe even lifelong friends. But, if anyone in the household is nervous about this aspect of moving, there are ways to increase the friendship-making quotient for kids, and adults.

The updates you knew you needed when you moved in will become a priority

That ugly floor and those outdated countertops are just staring at you, taunting you, even. When you just can't take it one more minute, consider this: You don't have to shell out a bunch of cash for them. Use interest-free credit at Home Depot or Lowe's and you can break up the spend into manageable monthly payments over a period of time. Just make sure to make your payments by the due date every month. Missing one, being late, or not paying the minimum due for even one month will void your agreement and add a whole bunch of interest to your total.

Need furniture or electronics more than you need floors? Lots of stores like Rooms To Go and Best Buy offer the same type of interest-free deal.

You're going to have big dreams and big reality checks

Unless you've bought a brand-new home, there are a few things you're going to want to change, beyond furniture and furnishings. It may just be carpet in the bedrooms and a splash of new paint, or it might be ripping out your entire kitchen.

Budget concerns will probably keep the renovations in check for many people. But you'll also want to assess the return on investment for the renovations you have in mind. Even if you're not planning to turn around and sell your home in a year or two, knowing that the updates you make are valuable and will be a good investment is always important. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report is a great guide to see which items pay you back.

It's going to cost more than you thought

This ties back to the saving your money thing, because there will always be stuff that needs to be fixed and updated. But there will undoubtedly also be surprising costs. For instance, if you're going up in square footage, you may not have considered the extra heating and cooling costs.

There are tactics you can use to address some of these costs:

  • Do an energy audit -"A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time," said Energy.gov. "Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera."
  • Research utility options - In many cities, you have options for your energy providers, and some may cost significantly less than the traditional providers you've gone with in the past. Be sure to check out solar options, too, especially if you're interested in green living. The newest advancements in solar energy for residential homes make it possible to use the sun's energy without having to purchase expensive systems and pay thousands of dollars upfront.
  • Check out alternative credit cards - If you're looking for creative ways to save money, check that junk mail again. There may be some valuable credit card offers in there with lower interest rates or an interest-free balance transfer option.

You might have to do some things you never thought of

You probably weren't thinking about cleaning out your ducts when you were envisioning your new life in your new home. But you probably won't know how long it's been since the last cleaning, and dirty ducks can cost you money if you're HVAC system isn't running efficiently. Thet can also be dangerous because of the accumulation of dust and dirt inside. Poor indoor air quality can worsen allergies and asthma.

A clogged dryer vent can also cost you money because it makes your dryer work harder. But, more importantly, it can be dangerous and even deadly. "Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly," said Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning. "According to the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents."

You'll get woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm

Because batteries only die at 3am. Every. Single. Time. You can avoid this nuisance and keep your family safe by changing your batteries when you first move in. While you're at it, change your filters, which will help your HVAC to work more efficiently.

To read the original article click here.

Ideas to Improve your Small Front Yard

We realize it's still snowing, but before long we're going to have spring flowers popping out of the ground. If you live in a more rural area of Vermont chances are you've got a lot of yard to work with, but that's not everyone. If you've got a home in town or live on a bustling street, it can be hard to make your small front yard seem comfortable and appealing. Whether you're looking to sell or simply upgrade your own digs these tips, from Andrea Davis at Realty Times, could give you some ideas to work with. 

There are many ways to improve your small front yard without uprooting your driveway or dialing back your front porch. In fact, with the right touches, small front yards can be just as appealing as large ones. Here are some ideas to make your small yard more appealing year round:

#1 Take a symmetrical approach.

One way to make your small front yard more appealing is to use symmetry. Balancing the elements of your yard on either side of your sidewalk -- grass, fencing, flowers, shrubs -- will make it look grand and inviting; it will also cost less than it would in a larger yard because you have less acreage to cover. You can also find a local landscaper to map out and implement a symmetrical yard plan for you.

#2 Make a seamless transition from yard to house.

Use materials like box planters, stone steps or retaining walls to blend your home and yard together. Potted plants on your front porch or patio will also extend the yard without cluttering it. Make sure you choose plants that complement one another, so you don't have a lot of overgrowth.

#3 Use a hint of color.

If you want to wow people in your small front yard, pick a brightly colored flower, shrub or tree that stands out either on the porch or in the yard itself. Then use neutral colors around to make it stand out. This will be the eye-catching piece in your small yard that people will never miss.

 

#4 Hang basket flowers.

Hang flower baskets around your front porch or patio. They add fresh color and a natural element to your home without cluttering the porch area itself. You can change them every season or every year, depending on the flowers or shrubs you choose.

#5 Light it up.

Your front yard might be less appealing if people see it at night. That's why you should add plenty of lighting. One option is to install standing, solar-powered lamps along the walkway; another is to hang lamps on your front porch to illuminate the plants there. It just depends on how much money and time you want to invest.

#6 Refresh your front door.

While not a traditional part of the "yard", your front porch is still important to the beauty of the area as a whole. This means your front door needs to be appealing as well. Fix any cracks, scratches or other damage to the door. Also, think about revitalizing it with a new coat of paint. Choose a color that complements the exterior landscape.

Conclusion

These are only a few tips to help you improve your small front yard. You want to make it seem bigger, if not at least more comfortable. Adding a fence might be another option to consider, though you'll want to lean towards an open design pattern like picket or chain link. Just keep your budget in mind and try not to clutter your yard while trying to redesign it. 

To read the original article click here.

It's Snow Time!

We're smack dab in the middle of ski season and there are so many fun races, parties, and events at all the local mountains. Check out everything from a Retro 80's weekend in Stowe to an Island Weekend bash at Sugarbush Resort. Whether you ski, board, or fat bike, there is a race here for you. Check out the links below for detailed information on these events and registration for races. These are only a few of the many events in the area so make sure you check out each resort's calendar of events.

February 26th: Stowe Derby at Stowe Mountain Resort

March 4th: Castlerock Extreme at Sugarbush Resort

March 5th: High Fives Fat Ski-A-Thon at Sugarbush

March 8th: Bolton Valley Rail Jam

March 10th - 12th: Retro 80's Weekend at Stowe Mountain Resort

March 18th: Ski and Ride New England Party at Bolton Valley

March 19th: Sugarbush Mountaineering Race

March 25th: Island Weekend at Sugarbush 

Home Renovations on a Budget

It seems like every time you look around your house there's something else that could be improved. The windows might be drafty in the winter, your bathroom hasn't been remodeled since the 70's, and the rug in your living room is not the same color it used to be. These can seem like huge problems if taken on all at once but just making a few adjustments around the house can wildly improve its atmosphere. The staff at Realty Times points out some important places, in your house, you might want to consider looking at and how to fix them without draining your bank account.

If you’re looking to get the best return on your investment or just improve your property to attract high-quality tenants, a kitchen remodel is one of the highest value projects. The most recent cost vs. value report, released in January 2014, shows that property owners will recoup 82.7 percent of the cost on a minor kitchen remodel, an increase of more than five percent over 2013.

The good news is that high-value renovations like these don’t have to break the bank. There are a number of options for making improvements to your property that can significantly better its appearance without spending an arm and a leg.

Kitchen

The first thing people look at when buying a house is the kitchen and bathrooms, according to the director of the remodeling futures program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. It’s no different for potential renters, and Rental.Us.com reports these two rooms are considered the best investments for property owners.

Minor improvements such as replacing the kitchen faucet and adding new cabinet door handles can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Consider switching out old fluorescent lights for new track lighting or adding a new countertop; laminate isn’t too expensive and can really help update the room. If the appliances don’t match and you can’t afford to replace them with new ones, a less pricey option is to replace their doors or face panels with matching colors which can generally be ordered direct from the manufacturer.

Bathrooms

As bathrooms are also a high priority for home buyers and renters, don’t leave them out when sprucing up your property. Consider changing out old towel bars, toilet seats and sink faucets. If your tiling is old and outdated, it should also be replaced. Re-grouting the tile around the shower and bath is also an easy and inexpensive update.

Flooring

Floors are another important factor that can make or break a home’s appearance. If you can afford it, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with wood laminate flooring. It is cheaper than other hardwoods but can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the years in maintenance costs. For landlords, this makes a lot of sense as it’s much easier to clean between tenants. At a minimum, you should have the carpets professionally cleaned.

The Front Door

Entry door replacement was on the top of the list when it comes to high-value renovations, according to the 2014 cost vs. value report. This is one of the first things potential renters and buyers will notice. If replacing the door is not in your budget, consider repainting it to add curb appeal and changing out the handle-and-lock to help suggest that it’s a solid, sturdy home.

The Exterior

Of course, an attractive home exterior is a must, enticing prospective buyers or renters to want to take a closer look. If the outside looks shabby there is a good chance that it will be passed by.

General cleaning and maintenance of the exterior can greatly improve curb appeal. Remove any items that are left sitting unused, including old, rusty patio furniture or broken garden tools and equipment. These things generally can’t be picked up by your local garbage company and you may need to find a rental dumpster service so that you can tidy up your yard and easily dispose of those unwanted items. Additionally, make sure that walkways are swept and the lawn is well-manicured.

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