Improving your home's
Metro Creative Connection Men and women who have tried to sell a home are likely familiar with the phrase "curb appeal." Curb appeal is similar to getting ready for a big date, only you're not dressing yourself up to make a strong first impression. Instead, improving curb appeal involves dressing your home up in the hopes it makes a strong first impression on prospective buyers, many of whom will have a strong opinion about the property before they even get out of their cars to have a look around. A home with strong curb appeal can entice buyers who are likely to believe that a home with a wellmaintained exterior is likely to have an equally impressive interior. Homeowners who want the process of selling their home to go smoothly can improve the property's curb appeal in a number of ways, many of which don't necessitate a substantial home improvement budget. Clean up. The most effective way to improve curb appeal is to clean up the property. Many homeowners are savvy enough to remove toys and other items from the yard before showing a home, but clean- LINDA WHITE Special to QMI Agency The stunning chandelier that has been passed down from one generation to the next is the centrepiece of your dining room and has earned plenty of compliments. Though you want your home to look its best when the 'for sale' sign goes up, unless the chandelier is included in your asking price, remove it and replace it with an attractive fixture before your first showing. That advice comes from realtors who know from experience that even inexpensive chattels and fixtures can become sticking points that can quickly derail negotiations as sellers and buyers dig their heels in over seemingly innocuous items. "When I'm doing a listing, I always ask if there's anything at-
ing up goes beyond removing clutter from the property. Make sure all hedges are trimmed and remove weeds, sticks and other debris from any flower beds. Lay mulch in the flower beds and garden, as mulch prevents weed growth while helping the soil retain moisture, resulting in more attractive gardens to catch a buyer's eye. Get an "edge" on other sellers. Edging is another easy and effective way to improve curb appeal. Edge driveways, sidewalks and other walkways around the property, removing or trimming anything that is hanging over the driveway or walkways. If the boundary between your driveway and lawn is not distinct, consider installing edging materials such as stone or bricks. The edging can be level with the driveway or elevated, but keep in mind that elevated driveway edging can protect the lawn, preventing kids from riding their bicycles onto the lawn or cars from driving onto it. Adding edging is not a very difficult do-it-yourself project. Take to the trees. Many homeowners grow accustomed to overgrown trees around their property and may not notice that lowhanging, unsightly branches are tached to the house that the homeowner does not want to leave - from light fixtures to switch plates in children's bedrooms to drapery that matches bedding," says Madeline Sarafinchan, president of the Alberta Real Estate Association. "If it's something they don't want to leave, replace it before even showing the property because if (a prospective buyer) decides they want it and it's going to make or break the deal, you don't want to go there. Replace it with something that still looks attractive - not the bare minimum." Though every market area will differ, most people include kitchen appliances in their listing and other appliances - such as the washer and dryer - are left open to negotiation, Sarafinchan says. "With a starter home, leaving the washer and dryer can actually hiding the home from view. Buyers want to see the house, so take to the trees and trim any branches that hang too low or obscure your home. Clean the gutters. Leaves and sticks hanging from the gutters are a red flag to buyers, who tend to associate clogged gutters with roof damage. Clean the gutters thoroughly before putting your home up for sale and keep them clean throughout the selling process. If your property includes lots of trees, install guards to keep twigs and leaves out of the gutters. Make the home accessible through the front door. Many homeowners enter their home through a side door or through their garage. If you fall into this category, keep in mind that prospective buyers will be entering through the front door, so make this area accessible. Clear any clutter, such as overgrown hedges, away from the front door, and consider upgrading the door handle to a more modern feature. In addition, make sure the lock on the front door doesn't stick, forcing the realtor and buyers to immediately struggle before entering the home. You want buyers and their real estate agents to get in and out of the home as smoothly as possible. sweeten the deal a fair bit because purchasers don't usually have extra cash to buy appliances," she says. Because the line between chattel and fixture can become blurry, it leaves much room for argument. Take a central vacuum system, for example. Are the canister and attachments included? What about the hot tub and garage door openers? "If there's any doubt, put it in the agreement," says Ron Abraham, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. "Some say wall-towall carpeting over hardwood floor is a chattel. If there's any doubt, make it quite clear - wall-to-wall carpet is included in the purchase price." The same holds true for items the homeowner wants to leave behind, such as a slate pool table or deep freezer that might require Make sure all plants, including flowers, are living. Dehydrated or dead plants and flowers are eyesores, and they will give buyers the impression that you didn't pay much attention to your property. Make sure all plants are alive and thriving and replace those that aren't. You can replant new flowers or plants or just use potted plants The Kingston Whig-Standard ? FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2012 Metro Creative Connection Ensuring a home's primary entryway is welcoming and well-groomed is one way homeowners can improve curb appeal. basement walls to come down in order to remove. "Make sure it's crystal clear what's being taken and what's being left," Sarafinchan says. Be prepared that emotions can sometimes take over. "The more prepared you are, the better you'll be able to negotiate," Sarafinchan says. "A good realtor will prepare their client - we call it 'pre-framing' - for what can happen in the transaction so they treat it as a business transaction." When it comes down to accepting or rejecting an offer, is it worth risking the sale of a $500,000 house over a used washer and dryer that may be worth a few hundred dollars each, Abraham says. He offers a final word of caution: Just because appliances are included in the listing agreement, the buyer must list them in their offer to purchase if they want them be- instead. When purchasing new plants, choose low-maintenance varieties that appeal to buyers who want good vibrant plants but might not want to put in much work into the garden. When selling a home, homeowners can employ a number of tactics to improve their home's curb appeal.
Know the difference between chattels, fixtures
cause the two are separate agreements.
Your listing agreement should clearly identify what's included in the asking price and it's important to know the difference between chattels and fixtures. Chattels are moveable items like washers and dryers, microwaves and window blinds. They're not automatically included in the sale but are often included to sweeten the deal. Fixtures are permanent improvements to a property like central air conditioning, installed lighting and wall-to-wall carpeting. Fixtures are assumed to be included in the sale of the home unless you note otherwise. The line between chattel and fixture can get blurry, so go over every item with your realtor.