Friday, September 4, 2015

Increasing House Value with Easy Updating for Showability

I get asked the question "what can we do to increase our home value...without remodeling the entire thing and dropping a ton of money into it?"  When I schedule a walk-through appointment with a potential seller, I can usually point out a few easy fixes that will increase home value without breaking your budget.

Damage/Repairs: First we walk through and point out areas that could be a potential flag for homebuyers.  If you have water damage or water stains, that repair is a must (of course, we would disclose any problems to potential buyers, but let them know it's fixed). Same with sewage stains, electrical burns, mildew along shower stalls, blatant and missing shingles. Mice droppings (better find out where they are coming from and get them under control) It's better to catch those problems early on and disclose anything up front, then to have a buyer go under contract with you then pull out of the sale at inspection time, because there was "just too much to do".

Lighting Fixtures:  An easy update that dresses up any space.  You can actually create a focal point of a room by changing out an old, brass chandelier with a dressier, more updated light fixture.  It can change the whole dynamic of a room!

Door knobs and handles:  Once again, if you have old brass handles on your doors, it's a relatively easy fix to replace those with something more modern and attractive to today's buyers.
This kitchen was upgraded easily by replacing  old, yellowed 
appliances with a mid-grade, stainless appliance package 
from Appliance Outlet. Viewers loved this home! 
 20 offers later, we had an offer for over 30K 
more than asking price

Appliances:  Many buyers look at appliances. .  If you want top dollar for your home and you have the old coiled stovetop, or yellowed appliances, it's well worth the expenditure to upgrade those appliances.  I believe a $2500 stainless appliance package could actually raise the value of your home by 10K...just in terms of overall show-a-bility.

Countertops: If you have old laminate, stained or cut countertops, it may be worth the investment to replace those with something a little more attractive.  Im not saying you have to go for the full, granite installation (of course, depending on the price-range of your home)...there are plenty of less expensive countertop alternative (even a new laminate resembling a harder surface, can make your home appear much more valuable.

This bedroom was painted with a royal, vibrant
blue on all 4 walls.  We toned it down with a
pale gray, and staged it with new bedding.

Paint:  I'm a big believer in paint for presentation.  If you have painted your home with odd or customized colors, specific to your own taste, it may be worth the expense to tone it down a bit.  Many buyers can see past paint...but many cannot.  I do believe that the subconscious, visual appeal of colors can effect the value in buyer's minds (some paint makes a room look extremely small.  Other paint may just make a buyer fell weird and they don't know why).

Floors:  Obviously, if you have torn or stained carpet, this can have a dramatic impact on your pricing.  This is a tricky one, simply because your taste in new carpeting may not appeal to buyers.  First, I always recommend getting a professional clean with stain treatment, then finding replacement carpet that might serve as patching (this depends on many old the carpet is and how deeply it is stained and damaged).  If wood floors have scratches or worn or sunstained spots, I first recommend an overall cleaning and scratchfiller treatments.  Then take it to the next level if necessary.

De-Cluttering:  Is HUGE for overall showability.  Many time, I recommend to seller to get a storage unit to clear out crowded rooms.  If there's too much furniture, buyers can't visualize the rooms with their own items.

Bathrooms:  Again, lighting fixtures can really dress up a bathroom.  If you have old lighting fixtures, it's worth it to replace them with a new fixture.  Same with plumbing fixtures/faucets.  The old plastic turnhandles for faucets are a turnoff.  If you have an old plyboard cabinet, it can be worth it to go to Home Depot and pick up a new vanity (sometimes this is about $300-$600).  You can buy these with the countertops and sink already installed.  I just had an appraiser think that a master bath was fully remodeled.  Sometimes, you can get away with "lipstick on a pig" and just paint those old cabinets to make them appear better (depending on your budget).  Although, when I work with buyers, I do point this out to them, so it's not a top recommendation.

Outside: If your mulch has disintegrated or faded, get some new mulch.  Clean up the bushes and the trees and pull your weeds!  Planting flowers in pots and in flowerbeds really freshen the outside.  Again, an easy fix that screams "Welcome!" to potential buyers.

Staging: I'm a strong believer in staging.  This goes hand-in-hand with an overall de-clutter. Sometimes the way the furniture is arranged, the room appearance can be different (appearing larger, smaller, or awkward--so someone with visual senses and a little feng shui, can truly help a room appeal to buyers.  Sometimes there are strange spaces within a home that need defined.  By adding a couple of items to this space, we can spoon feed a buyer...teaching them what they can do with the space.  Some creative thinking and brainstorming, along with the help of my professional stager, space is defined and presentable.

I've had several experiences where these few fixes have increased the showability of the homes, thus, increasing the value.  It's hard to say the exact increase in value (because nobody will specifically say "I will pay this much without nice paint, but this much without).  It's a psychological and, many times, a subconscious thing with buyers.  But, I can tell you that if your home shows better, it can be marketed better. If it's marketed better, it attracts more attention.  More attention means more people see it.  The more people that see it, the higher the price its going to garner and the faster it's going to sell.  Plain and simple.

The last thing you want is for your home to sit on the market for too long..., when you sit on the market for too long, buyers aren't willing to pay as much.  Can you attribute the increase in value directly to your new appliances when you get bid upward by 10K, 20K, 30K?  Possibly so or at least a portion of that. But, you're happy you replaced those appliances right? Because who knows where you would have been had you not done it (and I can tell you from my experience, you wouldn't have received as much).

I'm happy to come by for a walk-through of your home to let you know if there are items that could be upgraded/repaired and could could increase your value.  Just give me a ring.  It's a service I provide along with pricing recommendations and tips for a better sale. Many times I do these without any obligation for you to sell or list your home with me.  However, I always welcome that opportunity.  Take care!

In my next blog I'll address some items that cost a little bit more, but can be worth the time and effort.

Eileen Kitko
The EK Collection of Equity Colorado
Realtor in the Denver Metro Area

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One of the things people love about Conifer is the idea of living in the mountains, yet so close to the City.  Finding a mountain property that has easy access to the highway where you can have the privacy and seclusion of mountain living isn't always so easy.  Many times you find yourself driving 4 miles up dirt roads to find your dream home.  The drive can kill the deal even before you get to the house.  While many of these homes have amazing views and several acres of privacy, the convenience factor outweighs the views, the house and the acreage.  How much is this "convenience factor" worth?

Many times, you're seeking a home in the spring and summer when trees are green and dirt roads are dry.  But what happens in the winter time when the snow hits?  You might find yourself sitting at the top of the mountain unable to drive down the dirt (or concerned you might slip off the road).
When you factor in a snowy winter,  the "convenience factor" becomes even more valuable.

Your dream home awaits you at 24480 Pleasant Park Rd in Conifer.  This amazing colorado log home for sale has 28.4 acres of seclusion and privacy less than 2 miles to Hwy 285.  Pleasant Park road is county maintained and plowed all the way to your driveway.  this 4519 square foot home has 4 beds and 3.25 baths and is handcrafted with hewn logs that extend up to 60' without joints.  Now you can enjoy a true Colorado Log Home with acreage, a 1400sf outbuilding that fits up to 6 cars (or 4 cars and a 42' RV) with the convenience factor that cannot be outdone by any house for sale in Conifer today.  Call me at (303) 961-7517 or visit for your personal viewing of this amazing Colorado Log home for Sale.  You may also visit Eileen Kitko's youtube channel for a helicopter aerial tour or a picturesque virtual tour at

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Colorado Mountain Log Home for Sale in Conifer

Take a helicopter Tour! Exquisite Mountain Log Home for Sale in Conifer, Colorado. The artistry of this custom home lies within it's hand-hewn log construction. From the moment you arrive, you'll recognize this meticulously maintained, custom, mountain home is a true masterpiece. Each and every log that comprises this home is hewn and carved to fit every archway, niche and window; logs that extend up to 60 feet and are constructed without joints. These logs have been finished in a natural color to maintain the brightness within the home and your connection with nature. The architecture of the home and its perfect placement upon 28.37acres take full advantage of the views and allow the open living spaces to be drenched with natural sunlight. Floor-to-ceiling, south-facing windows are abundant. Breathtaking, snowcapped views of the Kenosha Mountain Range can be seen to the well as the awesome, sweeping views over the Richmond Hill Corridor and Denver Mountain Park (Newton). This home presents a total of 4,519 square feet. 4 bedrooms and 3.25 bathrooms. The kitchen is appointed with hickory cabinets and granite slab countertops. The large, u-shaped breakfast bar overlooks the dining area, the cozy family room and glorious, floor-to-ceiling, natural stone, gas fireplace. Step out onto an impressive wraparound deck, with views from all angles,from the kitchen, living room or master bedroom. Another bedroom which also can be utilized as a study, is located on this level with its own private deck. The master suite is located on the main level with an on-suite, 5-piece master bath and a private, gas fireplace.Downstairs in the walkout, lower level, which has 9' ceilings, find yourself in a haven for entertainment with a large recreation/family room, wet bar and an exquisite Thelin gas stove that adds warmth and coziness to the entire room. Two bedrooms, one bath and a separate bonus room are also located on this level. Walk out onto the lower level, exquisitely laid, flagstone patio. Views are equally spectacular from this level. In addition to the attached 2-car garage, a 1,400 sq. ft., detached garage/workshop will fit up to 6 cars.Planned to accommodate large toys, automobiles, and your RV (up to 42'). Located just 2 miles South of Highway 285, the convenience factor cannot be outdone. County paved and plowed roads all the way to the driveway and close to all the major stores and restaurants in Conifer Town Center and Aspen Park Shopping Center. Only a 20 minute drive to C-470. This is absolutely the best  Colorado Log Homes for sale in Conifer or Evergreen and is truly a masterpiece. for more information contact Eileen Kitko of Equity Colorado, (303) 961-7517

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Listing in Littleton, CO

Presenting a rare opportunity in one of the most coveted areas of Littleton. 
This home is a sprawling, traditional, well-kept ranch in a countryside setting,
close to amenities such as shopping at Aspen Grove or the charming  and
popular Downtown Littleton.   The Highline Canal is right up the street in
addition to the vast South Suburban Trail System. This enchanting home is
situated on a secluded .85 acres with fabulous and mature landscaping. 
Provides 2,851 square feet on the main floor plus an additional 2,851 square
feet in a bright and true garden level. Some updating has already been done.
6 car spaces total in 2 garages (ideal for workshop, storage, cars and big,
adult toys  No HOA's or covenants.

A full master suite is located on the Main Floor with a five-piece bath and
his/hers walk-in closets. Three additional bedrooms are located on the Main
Floor (one can be utilized as a main floor study or nanny's quarters). Three
bedrooms are located in the Lower Level.  Extensive hardwood flooring
runs throughout the main level and the family room offers an exposed
brick wall with a fireplace. Beautiful vaulted ceilings with skylights and
plenty of large windows provides a generous supply of natural light
throughout the home. Charm, privacy and a solid brick ranch in perfect doesn't get better than this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Underwater - Help!

Of all the changes you might make to live more cheaply, the most fundamental is finding a cheaper place to live. Sadly, it's an option that's largely closed off to people who are underwater on their mortgages. Unless they have cash to cover the difference between what their house will sell for and what they owe, they're pretty much stuck. Here are six options for people in that situation.

You will definitely want to get legal advice well in advance of actually doing any of these.  A consultation with a lawyer could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Here they are!

1) Stay
If your house still serves as shelter and you can still afford it, there's no particular reason that you can't just go on living in it, pretty much without regard to its value versus what you owe on the mortgage.
This may be the most expensive option: You can't take advantage of the cost savings of moving to a cheaper place, plus you're putting significant amounts of capital into an investment that gives back a low return. Still, as long as you can make the payments, this is probably the default option, and it's not necessarily a bad one. Eventually--no matter what happens to the real estate market--you'll be above water on the mortgage, but plan on staying put for awhile. (In fact, eventually you'll pay off the mortgage and own the house free and clear.)

2) Rent it out.

If you can rent the house for enough to cover the expenses of ownership, then you can move into a cheaper place and live there. In fact, even if the rent doesn't quite cover the costs, you can still come out ahead, if you can find a place to live that's enough cheaper (but you will become a landlord and will want reliable tenants).

Or, you could rent out a room. That could make staying in the house as economical as moving someplace cheaper. In fact, there's no need to stop at renting out just one room--if you have a big house, you could potentially rent out two or three. At the far extreme, you could move into the basement and then rent out the whole rest of the house to another family. Not what you had in mind when you bought it, but perhaps better than losing the place to foreclosure. Although this may not feel convenient or practical for many to have tenants in your space.

3) Short sale.

This is where you get the bank's permission to sell the house for less than the balance due on the mortgage. Sometimes the bank will settle for the sale price and wipe out the debt. Other times they still expect you to pay part or even all of the difference--the balance due is just converted into an unsecured loan. Even in the latter case, you at least owe a lot less money. (Of course, you also have no place to live.)
This is one case where you really have to check with a lawyer. If the bank forgives any of the loan, the IRS may treat that amount as taxable income. There are a few government programs out there that can help homeowners in making sure they are not liable for the deficiency, but you must qualify.

4) Renegotiate the mortgage.

This covers a lot of ground. If your lender agrees, pretty much all the terms of your mortgage are negotiable--the interest rate, the number of payments, even the balance due.

The federal government is pushing several different plans to adjust the terms on mortgages to make them affordable. One that I've read about involves moving the rate down to market rates and then adjusting the balance down to no more than 85% of the house's current value. That might make the house affordable to keep. It might just make it affordable to sell.
If there was a temporary problem in making payments (due to something like illness or unemployment) that has now been solved, it may be possible to roll all the missed payments into the balance and start fresh.

5) Walk away.

In some places, mortgages are often made on a non-recourse basis--that is, the bank can take your house, but can't come after you for any balance due on your mortgage. (Check with a lawyer! This is not true everywhere--and even places where it is often true it isn't always true.)
Often better than literally just walking away is to negotiate what's called a deed-in-lieu, where the bank agrees to take the deed and forgive the balance owed on the mortgage.
The way to do this is to:
  1. Offer the bank a deed-in-lieu
  2. Stop making payments
  3. Continue to live in the house
This gives you a certain amount of leverage, because taking your offer saves the bank the trouble of foreclosing (and the risk that you'll trash the house the day before they foreclose).  That's going to be important: You're going to need it to find another place to live, and your access to credit is going to be limited for quite some time if you try this option.

6) Bankruptcy.

Especially if a lot of your assets are in retirement plans (which you generally get to keep), bankruptcy is one option for households with an untenable cost structure.
Yet again, check with a lawyer.

Those are the options that I can think of, for people who are underwater on their mortgage, but who would like to consider the option of cutting their expenses. Maybe one or another will turn out to be the right move for you.
There is no single correct answer for what action you should take when your home’s value exceeds the amount of money you’re paying back on a large home loan. Be sure to take your time and thoroughly research all your options with professionals before making a definite decision to pursue one action over another. Lots to consider!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

5 Holiday Hosting Disaster and How to Avoid Them

5 Holiday Hosting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

Published: November 29, 2010
Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.

That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.

Problem: The oven doesn’t heat

For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.

How to avoid:
  • There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.

Problem: The kitchen sink clogs

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:
  • Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
  • To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The heat goes out

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.

How to avoid:
  • The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
  • Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they're missing or damaged.  

Problem: The toilet stops up

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.

How to avoid:
  • Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.

Problem: The fridge doesn’t cool

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:
  • Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
  • Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.