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The Questions You Must Ask

by Allyson Hoffman

Buying a home is such a significant decision, you need as much information as you can get while trying to make a smart choice. You're going to have lots of questions and lots of people with answers. But, when you talk to the owner, you're going to be able to get first-hand information. And here are some of the most important questions you should ask before making a decision to make an offer on a home.  

"Why are you selling?" It's an obvious question, but one that can provide you with valuable information. And it might be different from what the seller's agent might say.  

"How much did you pay?" Again, you might already have this information from a different source. But, asking the owner is always worth doing. You can learn a lot about your negotiating position by asking the question.  

"Are there any problems with the house?" You'll already have a lot of information related to this question from your own agent, but once again, asking cannot hurt. And don't just ask the owner or owner's agent. Ask a qualified inspector that question: Their answer is going to be vital to any decision you make on the house.  

"What can you tell me about the neighborhood?" If you're going to live there for any amount of time, you may want to know before you buy if there are annoying neighbors or other problems.  

"And what about the local schools?" If you have school age children, make sure to ask about local schools. Even if the owner doesn't have kids in the system, its worth adding to the impressions you've gotten from other sources.  

There are obviously other questions you might want to ask, and you should feel free to do so. Remember, it's your money. It should go without saying that when talking to an owner, you should go out of your way to be polite. If they're uncomfortable or unwilling to talk, you won't get better answers by pushing them. If the discussion raises concerns in your mind, talk with your own agent.  

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy dprevite/flickr.com

Painting Walls and Ceilings

by Allyson Hoffman

Previously, we’ve talked about how a new coat of a paint is vital when you’re planning to sell your home. But, you may decide that the expense of hiring a professional painter is too much when you can do most, if not all, of the work  yourself.  In the first part of this series, we looked at the steps you need to take before you dip a brush into a can of paint. Today, we’re going to get to work painting.

The first stage of paint is treating the surface with a coat of primer. The primer protects the surface, gives the paint something to adhere to and helps prevent stains. The guidelines below work for both the primer and paint.

Wait! Put the brush down for a second. You’ve moved the furniture out of the room, or pulled it away from the walls. You need to use drop cloths or tarps to cover the flooring and any furniture still in the room. Murphy’s law says if you leave something unprotected, it will wind up with paint drops on it. Anywhere on the walls and along the edges of a ceiling where you don’t want paint splatters needs to be covered with strips of painters tape. Also, go ahead and make sure you have cleaning supplies on-hand just in case.

Okay, let’s get to work. If you’re going to paint the ceiling, and that’s usually a good idea, do that first.  Again, these guidelines work for both the ceilings and the walls. The first steps here is to use a trim brush to outline the edges of the ceiling. You’ll want a border about three inches wide. When that’s done, move on to the roller and the rest of the surface.

You’re going to pour the out the paint into a roller pan. Make sure you don’t overfill the pan: Fill it so they paint just touches the grated part of the pan.  Depending on where you’re painting, you may need to work on a ladder or with an extension pole. Dampen the roller with water for latex paint or paint thinner for oil paints. Coat the brush completely with paint, and then roll it against the grate to distribute it and squeeze out and excess.

Using a zig-zag motion, cover an area three to four feet square. Then roll over the same area in straight lines. Make sure to overlay the edges of previously painted areas to reduce visible lines when the paint is dry.  Once you’ve completely covered the surface you’re working on, move to another area and let the first dry.

You’ll want to let the painted surfaces dry before you apply a second coat, which will ensure the paint isn’t too thin or missing in places. Don’t remove your drop cloths or tape until you’re sure there aren’t any spots that need touch-ups.

The next part of your painting project is to tackle the door frames, window frames and molding. We’ll talk about that and cleaning up in an upcoming blog post. So for now, get to work on your walls. That way, when you call me to help you sell your home, we’ll already be ahead of the competition!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy theunquietlibrarian/flickr.com

Give Your Garage the Makeover It Deserves!

by Allyson Hoffman

Somewhere, there's a book with a rule that says a garage must be white with bare walls and a dull grey concrete pad. No one is ever confused when they go through a door into the garage. But, is that always a good thing?  The answer to that question is no, of course. 

While keeping our cars safe from the environment is the stated purpose of the garage, that's very seldom all we do with the space. A peek inside a random, representative garage shows a variety of lawn and garden tools and supplies, a garbage can, household and car tools, shelves with sports equipment and an old tent, and the singing fish birthday gift from 1997. And, as you can guess, it's an amazing mess most of the time.

With a weekend of work and some creativity, you can give your garage a makeover and turn it into an extension of your living space instead of just an afterthought.

The first step is to take a hard look at what you store in your garage. Is there a better way to organize that stuff so it takes up less space? Shelves, either free-standing or on the wall, are an obvious way. Look to the walls! Where shelves aren't an option, hardware to hang yard tools, power cords and hoses can get things up off the ground and out of the way. While some of that will go with you if you move, the rest, if done well, can be a great selling point.

After you get things cleaned up and organized, why not start to look at ways to brighten and color the space? There's no reason you can't add a touch of decorative styling to the garage. Or to put the space you may have gained by organizing to use in other wise. You'll find some great tips on familyhandman.com and (with before and after pictures!) realsimple.com. And take a look at the fantastic ideas in the Lowe's Ultimate Garage Makeover video below.

Have you found unique ways to utilize your garage for something more than auto storage? What's hanging on your garage walls? Have you decorated the space to give it a little style? Hey, if you did, share some pictures and ideas in the comments below or email me. Meanwhile, I'm going to plan my own garage makeover!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy Rubber Maid Products/flickr.com

Five Ways to Improve Your Market Position

by Allyson Hoffman

If you're trying to sell your home in this economy, you need every advantage you can get.  That process begins by choosing a real estate professional with a track record of success and ends at closing. Along the way, there are some sure-fire ways to improve the appeal of your home when it goes on the market.

Make Sure It's Clean - It's such a simple idea that it seems hard to believe anyone would have potential buyers into a dirty home. But, it happens, and its a recipe for disaster. Clean, and clean like your mother was looking over your shoulder. No one wants to live in a dirty house, and certainly no one wants to start in a new house that needs to be cleaned.

Outside - Your landscaping needs to be trimmed and neat, and you need to make sure the exterior of your home is clean. Get those leaves off your roof and out of your gutters!

Lighting - Check to be sure all of the lights in your home have bulbs. And its a good idea to replace lower intensity lights with something brighter.  You don't want people believing you have something to hide!

Plants - If you have plants around the house, make sure they've been water and tended properly.  Add fresh flowers, and make sure to change them regularly.

Colors - Let's be honest: Those wacky colors and that tacky wallpaper have the potential to derail even the most interested buyer. A new coat of white paint, properly applied, over the entire interior will make the entire place look fresh and new.

Get it Checked Now - Don't wait until a buyer is interested to find out what a home inspector is going to tell you needs to be fixed. Get it fixed now and get it out of the way.

Are there other things you've seen as a potential buyer that have turned you off?  Be sure to leave a comment with things you think are important to consider.  And if you are looking for a new house or to sell your current home, please feel free to contact me!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy pwbaker/flickr.com

Quickly Fill Those Unsightly Holes

by Allyson Hoffman

Before you put your house on the market, you have to address a variety of issues. Not the least of which is making the house look fantastic. So as you survey your home, you'll start to see little problems that have to be dealt with. For example, damage to drywall where you have hung artwork or secured tall furniture pieces. And that's what I want to talk about with you. If you've got something larger than small holes, you'll probably need some professional help. It's pretty remarkable what a contractor can do to make repairs. But, if you've just got some small holes, you can save yourself some money by doing it yourself.

It's not going to take long, but we need to get some tools. You’ll need to have spackle, a putty knife, a sanding block, primer, paint and a paint brush. I’ll wait while you go get them.

Fill – Okay, we’re going to use the spackling paste to fill the hole itself. Spackle is just a putty made of plaster and glue. Fill the hole and then use the putty knife to scrape off any spackle sticking up out of the hole.

Sand – A tiny hole won’t need much, if any, sanding. But, if you can You’re going to want to use a sanding block or even a dry wall sanding screen to make sure the result is perfectly flat. Just using sandpaper by hand won’t cut it.

Paint – Again, with a small enough hole, you don’t really need to prime, but it’s not a bad idea. Then you’re going to want to find the paint that was used to cover the wall you’re working on. Usually, when an interior is painted, the contractor will leave a can of the color they used in a storeroom or garage.

If you can’t find the right paint, you’re best bet is to repaint the entire wall: Any odd color patches are going to really stand out when the room is empty of furniture. And, if the hole is a bit bigger, you can find self-adhesive patching kits that include a metal mesh and come in a variety of sizes. You’ll still need to sand, prime and paint.

If your walls are bare, you can tackle this chore quickly. And a lot less expensively than a contractor will do it!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy idovermani/flickr.com

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
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