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7 Quick upgrades To Make Your Home Feel Like It's New

by Jacque

7 Cheap Upgrades That Will Make Your Home Feel Like It’s Brand-New

By
Jamie Wiebe

1:00 pm ET
October 23, 2015

 

simplytheyu/iStock

If your home has you down in the dumps but you lack the cash to fix it up, don’t despair! Not every upgrade has to take a big bite out of your bank account.

Here are seven foolproof ways to make your home feel like a totally different place through small changes—and small expenses.

1. New hardware

Swapping out the boring chrome hardware the previous owners installed can go a long way toward making your home look like yours—not to mention give the entire space an easy, inexpensive refresh. Depending on your style, new pulls or handles can cost mere dollars.

“The first thing I do to give the home more of the look and style that I like is swap out the hardware,” says Doug Mahoney, who worked in construction for 10 years and now writes about tools and home improvement for The Sweethome. “All it takes is a screwdriver, and it’s surprising what a difference it can make.”

2. Small paint jobs

Don’t have time to repaint your entire home? Start by tackling smaller jobs such as your front door or kitchen cabinets. Since these projects are quick, you can squeeze them in during the weekend (or even an afternoon). And you’ll use only a fraction of a gallon of paint (which costs between $15 and $30)—making for an ideal impact-to-expenses ratio.

“Personally, I can’t stand the look of polyurethaned oak cabinets, so I’d cover those up with a nice white paint,” Mahoney says. “It makes it look like a whole new kitchen.”

If you like your cabinets, consider repainting the trim in your living room or adding some fresh color to a small room such as your bathroom.

3. Sensor lights

Tired of scrambling for the light switch while your arms are holding bags of groceries? Add sensor lights to your front porch and any other regular entrances such as your garage door. Starting at just $15, it’s a tiny cost with a big reward.

These lights won’t just improve your visibility—they’ll also lower your electricity bill. And they’re a big home safety boon to boot; experts say motion-detecting lights discourage criminals from lurking around your home.

4. Magnetic door catch

Speaking of those arms full of groceries: Adding a magnetic door catch (like this onefrom Amazon, which costs $11) to your primary entrance drastically simplifies loading and unloading. No more awkward sideways crab walks as you attempt to keep the door open while carrying a big package. You might even consider installing this before moving day to make your movers’ job easier.

5. Keyless entry pad

If you’re always losing your keys, try investing in a keyless entry pad such as this simple$100 Kwikset deadbolt. It can mean the difference between spending a few hours moping in your car and enjoying a hot cup of cocoa in your living room.

Plus, you’re not the only one who benefits: If you’re expecting guests but won’t be available to greet them, they can let themselves in—a huge improvement from hiding a key, which might be a safety risk.

6. Low-flow toilet

“It may seem intimidating to those not very interested in DIY, but swapping out toilets is a fairly simple process,” Mahoney says.

Choose a high-efficiency or low-flow toilet to save money on your water bill. While it does require some investment (expect to pay between $100 and $325 for the toilet itself), you’ll be making your money back soon enough—especially if you’re replacing an older model installed before 1992. That’s when federal plumbing standards mandated all toilets use 1.6 gallons or less per flush.

With a high-efficiency model, you’ll use about 300 fewer gallons of water per year—if not much more.

7. Fresh mulch

Jazzing up the outside of your home can go a long way toward making you love where you live. While you could go all-out—landscaping the yard and painting the trim—there’s a simpler solution: mulch.

“New mulch in the flower beds can add a lot to the curb appeal,” Mahoney says.

Instead of grimy old dirt that’s been trod on for years, a fresh new layer looks clean, fresh, and pretty—making a huge difference for just $6.

 

6 Things Fall Home Buyers Should Notice

by Jacque

6 Things Fall Home Buyers Should Notice

Despite spring being the peak home buying season, buying in the fall might actually be the best option for house hunters. Overall there's less competition, more inventory to choose from, a better chance of getting a good deal, and the weather gives a well-rounded picture of how the house will feel throughout the year.


Here's what buyers need to pay attention to in the fall:However, just because a house looks picture-perfect to clients in the fall, it doesn't mean it's the ideal property year-round. You need to pay attention to the little details "that aren't as noticeable in the fall as they might be in the winter or summer months," says Andrea Davitt, a REALTOR® at Lauer Realty Group in Madison, Wisc.

1. Air conditioning status: Most likely the air conditioner won't still be cranking in the fall, so it might escape buyers' minds to check it out. First of all, find out if the home even has AC. Then, have an inspector make sure the air conditioning system is functioning properly. Also be sure to check if it needs a new filter and if there are any blockages. The outdoor condenser also should be checked to make sure it's not making weird noises. Finally, take a look at the ductwork for rust.

2. Check the drainage: Besides taking a look at the gutters,  your buyers should also look at the drainage situation of the home. "In the yard, look for areas where water is accumulating in small puddles, which could indicate a leak in buried pipes or grading problems that need to be addressed before the rainy season," realtor.com® points out.

3. What's nearby?: This piece of advice is applicable all year, but since construction generally slows in the fall and winter, a nice and peaceful fall and winter home could be a real headache come spring and summer, once traffic, roadwork, and new construction crop up. Find out if that area is expected to see a lot of new development in the near future.

4. Eye the driveway: A steep driveway may not bat an eye during the summer, but buyers in cold climates should take note of a steep driveway, because it will surely impact their lives when dealing with snow and ice throughout the winter.

5. What's the pest possibility?: It might seem pleasant for buyers to live near water in the fall, when the pesky mosquitoes and bugs have all gone away, but it's a good idea to point out to potential buyers that living near standing water means they will have to get used to being around all types of bugs in other seasons.

6. Window conditions: Nothing is worse than realizing on the first frigid day in winter that a home's windows lack proper insulation. Not to mention what a drafty window can do to clients' pocketbooks! That being said, make sure that fall buyers take extra time to check out a home's window situation.

Source: "Buying a Home This Fall? Don’t Overlook These 6 Things," realtor.com® (Sept. 21, 2015)

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