5 Do’s and Don’ts for Springtime Home Renovation

Spring is a great time to update your home! With the arrival of warmer weather and longer days  comes the itch to improve our dwellings, both inside and out. However, some renovations simply aren’t worth the investment or the effort. In many cases, you can achieve the same goal by spending less and focusing on key fixes. Get more bang for your renovation buck with Covelle & Cohen’s do’s and don’ts.

1. PAINT

DO — Go for a neutral wall color. Our go-to is Super White by Benjamin Moore in a Semi Gloss Finish. There’s nothing like the fresh look and smell of a new coat of paint. And, if you do it yourself, it’s a relatively inexpensive home upgrade. And don’t forget about that trim — today’s buyers want white woodwork.

DON’T — Paint a room just to shake things up. While you might have impeccable taste, the majority of buyers are going to be turned off by a deep red wall. When it’s time to sell, you’ll probably find yourself painting over it.

2. KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS

DO — White bathrooms with natural vanities, brass fixtures, and patterned floors are in. Luxury fittings such as free floating bathtubs and shower stalls not only look incredible, but they’ll hold their value overtime. In kitchens and baths, buyers love all white walls, with white subway tile and gray grout. In the kitchen, go for a timeless look with quartz countertops, contrasting islands, and warm flooring.

DON’T — Go nuts. In kitchens and baths, the truth is that you only receive 50 cents on the dollar for every renovation dollar spent. If you splurge on designer lighting and fixtures, save on cabinets where Ikea will do. We call this the high-low game.

3. FLEX ROOMS

DO — Utilize every inch! Finish that basement or attic. As more people than ever are working from home, it pays to transform unused areas into combined living and work space, such as a movie room, office with built-in desks and storage, or even a Pinterest-worthy upscale laundry room. Most buyers will pay more if they’re able to envision just how lovely life at your home is with these amenities.  

DON’T — Build more. Still want more space? Before considering an addition, make sure you’ve maxed out all your “flex rooms.” Building up and out is costly — only expect a fraction of a return on that investment.

4. FLOORS


DO
— Where do you typically find money? On the floor! Have your floors been carpeted or tiled over for decades? Uncover them. Chances are, you’ll find original hardwood flooring underneath.

DON’T — Splurge on carpets. While the plush fibers of a brand new carpet feel great on your feet, a carpet’s short lifespan means that the expensive stuff isn’t worth it. Because carpets stain and wear overtime, consider them a temporary installment.

5. UPGRADES


DO
— Install new technology like keyless entry, security cameras, and “smart home” and efficient home upgrades, such as smart refrigerators, lighting fixtures, and Nest thermostats. Buyers love high-efficiency everything, and these upgrades eventually pay for themselves because you’ll cut energy costs using them.

DON’T — Some things just will not add more value to your home. We find that buyers are not willing to pay more for new roofs, sprinkler systems, A/C units, or windows. We call these things “stabilizers.” Replace these only if necessary for you to enjoy life in your home.

Your home is your greatest investment. We’re always happy to strategize how you can both build equity as a seller and uncover potential equity as a buyer. Contact Covelle & Cohen today!

Selling Your Home Takes More Than Luck: 4 Reasons to Hire a Pro

Selling your home takes more than luck — hire Covelle & Cohen Greater Boston Real Estate.

Why not FSBO? Any realtor will tell you that for-sale-by-owner when selling your home is a risky move, one that ultimately costs you both your time and money. It goes without saying, but selling a home is a lot of work! From the paperwork to the negotiations, here’s why you might want to leave the heavy lifting to us.

1. We have the experience to close the deal. 

We’re a team of seasoned realtors with tenure and experience coupled with talent and originality. We offer proven success! As skilled negotiators, we can get you the best possible terms and price for your property in the shortest amount of time. We’ll help you avoid all the many pitfalls you could face when trying to sell your home, ultimately saving you time and getting you the best price possible. After inspection, our team will expertly navigate any negotiations that may arise. As we come closer to the actual closing date, we’ll handle all the critical documents for you, including but not limited to smoke and carbon alarm inspections, final utility readings, and Title V regulations. While we handle the paperwork, you pack those bags!

2. We have connections in the industry you’ll need.

Our team develops a strategy with our clients to lead successful broker open houses, commuter tours, public open houses as well as exclusive invitation events and daily agent showings. We strongly recommend hiring an experienced real estate attorney to assist in your transaction. We’re happy to connect you to one of our many preferred and trusted attorneys with whom we’ve conducted business before. Planning a huge move? We work globally with major companies who transfer employees and have a full-time relocation department. We also have partnerships with reputable moving companies, home inspectors, electricians, and plumbers in the area, saving you time and headache.

3. We guide you through professional staging.

In an image-driven society, it’s the image we create that drives the sale. We happily offer a home staging consultation to make it impossible for buyers not to fall in love! Staging your home gets it sold faster and for more money.

4. We build a custom marketing plan. 

Our goal is to create a vision that begins with the subconscious, through a strong online presence and creative marketing efforts. From professional photography to custom email marketing, open house brochures, exclusive property videos, and social media advertising, we pull out all the stops to get as many eyeballs on your listing as possible. That’s something that can’t be said for every realtor!

Contact Covelle & Cohen today for help selling your home: info@covellecohen.com

5 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Home

Home staging can help buyers fall in love with your home.

It’s clichéd, but it’s true — you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Before your home hits the market, it may need a little facelift. We know you love your home (it’s yours!), but will others? Sometimes all that love over the years means your home is looking just a little… too lived in. It’s important that buyers are able to envision a life of their own. Here are a few tips to be sure potential buyers get hit with Cupid’s [real estate] arrow of love.

1. Landscape

When selling your home, you should make the outside as appealing as the inside.

It’s all about that curb appeal. The outside of your home is the first thing buyers see and sets the tone. Before even going inside, dead grass and a cracked driveway full of weeds could give buyers the impression that you haven’t taken care of the property. While you’re at it, give the windows a pressure wash, replace the weather-worn mailbox, give the front door and porch a fresh coat of paint, and maybe even create a small outdoor living space.

2. Declutter

Before showing your home to potential buyers, organize those closets!

It goes without saying that your countertops should be clean and clear, but what about the closets? And that junk drawer? Pack away anything you won’t need in the next few months. Clutter eats equity. Nobody can see how nice and big those closets are when they’re filled to the brim! After they’re clean, keep them open. A tidy open closet can make a room look bigger.

3. Make it sparkle

A clean and decluttered kitchen will help sell your home fast.

Did you know that it’s often the kitchen that sells a home? Clean the oven inside and out, wipe down everything twice, and give the floor a good wash and wax. When in doubt, hire a professional cleaner. They’re trained to hit all the nooks and crannies you might look over. Everything should sparkle. And before the showing, clear the air. Light a scented candle.

4. Stage it to be inviting

When selling your home, stage it to look clean and inviting.

Now that the clutter is gone, add a few appealing elements. Think tasteful seasonal decorations, a vase of flowers, plants, or a basket of fresh produce on your counter. Style the dining room table with vases down the center, or even set it for dinner (nothing too formal) to make it look inviting. In the living room, rearrange the furniture. Symmetry always looks good, and furniture arranged facing each other can create an inviting conversation area. Just before the showing, clear the air and light a scented candle.

5. Paint

Selling your home? A fresh coat of neutral paint is crucial to help a buyer fall in love.

Put a fresh coat of paint on all the walls. White is alway nice, but neutrals can create a rich, sophisticated tone, too. When you’re done, it should look clean and bright. Now is not the time for the fun and quirky bright orange accent wall. The point is to avoid creating any distractions that could prevent others from seeing the potential of your home.

As Barbara Corcoran says, “Home staging used to be optional. Today it’s a necessity in selling a house.” We couldn’t agree more. Contact us today for help selling your home: 857.529.SOLD (7653)

Team-Up Tuesday — A Q&A With Sarah Winchester Studios

Sarah Winchester is an amazing Boston-based interior design photographer.

It’s #TeamUpTuesday! Today, we’re proud to feature Sarah Winchester Studios. Sarah’s an amazingly talented Boston-based interior and architecture photographer. She’s worked will all types of clients, from fashion houses and magazines to construction companies and advertising campaigns. We sat down with her to learn a little more about her artistic approach.

What camera do you shoot on?
❈ For my commercial work, I shoot with a Canon DSLR. For my fine art photography, I either use my Canon or my mirrorless Fuji. A 2018 goal of mine is to start shooting again with my large format Deardorff. Like the good old-fashioned viewfinder camera. Also, the iPhone camera is quite a powerful and high quality camera these days. I use it a lot for scouting, ideas, and Instagram stories. The fact that it is always on my person makes it an indispensable tool.

What types of clients do you work with?
❈ For my commercial photography, I work with interior design professionals, architects and builders. I love helping them get a beautiful 2D photographic image that really tells the story of their 3D space. For my fine art photography, I work with anyone who loves art and wants a photograph.

How did you first get involved in interior design photography?
❈ I got involved with interior design photography through a friend and former studio mate, Erin Gates (Elements of Style). There were a bunch of us creatives renting out studio space in the Fort Point/Seaport area of Boston from some other amazing creatives, Jill Rosenwald and Lawrence McRae Ceramics. It was this wonderful group of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs, and we kind of worked as this little creative consortium.

Erin was working on her first book and I really wanted to segue my photography business to interiors and architecture.  She let me shoot a few smaller projects for her book. I loved the working atmosphere of an interiors shoot. There is such collaborative nature and feel to an interiors shoot. When the angle is perfect and the light is just right in a beautiful designed space… it’s truly magical.  Kind of corny, I know, but I still get a rush when that happens.

How does your fine art background influencer your aesthetic?
❈ The light… oh, the light! I think my years studying art history have really helped me understand how light composition can form an image and a feeling. There is almost a science to it. I’m actually a failed scientist. I started out college as a science major, but quickly switched to art when “life experiences” got in the way. I.e. I had a lot of fun and my chemistry class pulled down my GPA.

From a photography perspective, what design elements really make a space?
❈ There is a science to design as well. Color combinations, pattern mixtures, texture combinations, the form and placement of furniture; a talented designer is able to combine all these things in a seemingly effortless way. I am always in awe of that.

In contrast, which interiors are most difficult to make look good on camera?
❈ Shooting directly into a window is always challenging but it can also be the most beautiful and dynamic shot. New challenging spaces also help keep me on my game. I love a good challenge and feel it makes me a better professional.

What’s a favorite project you’ve worked on?
❈ Oh, there was this one home where I got to photograph a real Monet! The room was gorgeous too, and the design was beyond perfect. Not too traditional, not too modern, the perfect mix. I often revisit that shoot in my head wishing I could go back and shoot more.

Life advice for people who want to pursue their passion?
❈ Do it! Figure out the finances, figure out what you need to do to “make it work” and dive in—never with the thought that you won’t make it. Your specific goals and business approach may change as you grow and change but you have to go in it wholeheartedly. (Again, super corny I know.)

Learn more about Sarah Winchester Studios: http://www.sarahwinchesterstudios.com/

8 Tips Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Happy Covelle & Cohen homebuyer at closing

So, you’re ready to purchase a home? Congrats! As Suze Orman says, “Owning a home is a keystone of wealth — both financial affluence and emotional security.” There’s no place like a home of your own, but for the first-time homebuyer, what follows the decision to buy can be both overwhelming and intimidating. Here are some tips and tricks to consider before you start house hunting.

1. Hire The Professional

You’re about to execute the biggest investment of your life. Work with an expert who can guide you through the process! You’ll need someone who understands current market conditions and can evaluate a property, negotiate, walk you through the paperwork, and more. Professional buyer’s agents have the tips and tricks to help you save the most money, and they often don’t cost the homebuyer anything. (Pssst! We can help you.)

2. In a Few Years, Everyone’s Going to Wish They Bought Now

Interest rates are at a historical low — mortgage loan rates are currently at 4 percent! Now’s the time to buy because those rates might soon go up. And Steve Murray, owner of Real Trends, reports that homes will steadily appreciate in the next 8 years. Consider your new home a smart investment.

3. Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

How much home can you afford? Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores they’ll need. Pre-approval will tell you how much you can afford and give you confidence to dive into competitive markets. Plus, you’ll need an ironclad pre-approval letter for a winning offer. If you can’t find a bank willing to lend to you, consider an FHA loan. The Federal Housing Administration insures the mortgages of many first-time homebuyers. And, they’ll only require a down payment of 3.5 percent.

4. You Should Buy Smart (Buy the Ugly House)

Buying smart is buying good location, flow, light, amenities, and space for the price. The homes your realtor takes you to see aren’t always going to look like Pinterest masterpieces. If you can see past clutter and outdated decorating, there’s a good chance you’ll buy into property with more equity after minor cosmetic overhauls. Visit those sloppy listings that other buyers are overlooking, and have vision!

5. Sometimes, Speed is Key

If you come across a well-priced property, don’t hesitate to put in an offer. Hesitation opens the door to competition from other potential buyers, and when someone else wants it, the seller’s more likely to raise the asking price.

6. Strengthen Your Good Faith Deposit

When you execute a purchase contract as a homebuyer, it will specify how much you’ll initially put down to secure it and show “good faith.” In other words, it’ll show the seller how badly you want this property — and how serious your offer is. Increase your good faith deposit from the usual $1,000 to as much as $10,000.

7. Be Aware of Additional Fees

Yes, you’ll need to put a deposit down of about 5 percent. But did you know you might also need to pay for additional closing costs? Home inspection, appraisal, oil left in the home’s tank, one year of homeowner’s insurance, seller adjustment for taxes and condo fees, and next quarter’s tax payment can all add up. You’ll want to have extra cash for home improvements, surprise fixes, and furniture to make that house a home. Before buying, pay down your debt and have money in the bank.

8. Be Flexible — and Realistic

We’re fortunate to live in Greater Boston, a hot market where there’s continuously a demand for real estate. That being said, certain towns have extreme competition! If you’re uncomfortable paying tens of thousands over asking price, be open to shopping in a more gentle market. Don’t commit to more than you can financially handle.

Ready to buy? Using cutting edge strategies, Erica & Mike help buyers save money. We’re happy to guide you home. Contact us here or call 857.529.SOLD (7653).