6 Budget-Minded Fixes that Add Delaware Curb Appeal
Conscientious Delaware homeowners keep on top of all the regular maintenance items pretty much automatically. Once you have lived in a place for more than a year or two, you know what you should be keeping an eye on. You have a handle on when major fixes and updates have to be addressed.
When you begin thinking about moving on to new digs, though, the focus shifts. Your Delaware property is about to enter a beauty contest, after all—so more attention will have to be paid to moving it toward the dazzler category. The floor plan, interior décor, mechanical functions, and the other features that prospective buyers will delve into may all come into play eventually—but only after initial interest has been piqued.
Call it what you will: “first take,” “initial impression,” or “curb appeal”—whatever you name it, if it’s positive, everything else can follow. If it’s negative for any reason, all the other factors will be fighting an uphill battle—or worse, a battle that’s never fought at all.
Given that most homes that are about to go on the Delaware market have basic maintenance issues solved, some of the most important home improvement items are those that boost the first impression. Here are six that are universally cited:
- Clean. This one is not as obvious as it sounds—owners are used to the way the front of the house looks, and more often than not, don’t even notice subtle loss to a home’s “sparkle.” When years of almost-invisible grime are cleared away, the difference can be startling. Every surface has its own effective cleaning techniques: they’re easy to find on the web.
- Spruce up the yard. If lawn dominates, dollars spent to bring as much life as possible will be well spent. If the season makes a quick enough turnaround impractical, professional lawn paint spraying services are a temporary fix.
- Mulch. If fall has given front yard flower beds too much of an overgrown look, be prepared to cut them back into shape—then mulch the newly-exposed soil. The look that emerges can transform unkempt into elegant.
- Entryway. If there is an entry lantern overhead, make its glass panes sparkle. Front door fixtures should gleam—and if they are beyond polishing, replacing them is not a budget-buster. It can also be transformative to paint the door itself with an inviting color that accents the exterior’s tone—an idea that could be the most cost-effective curb appeal assist of all!
- Driveway. If there are major cracks, they will need to be filled (quick! Winter’s on the way). But if the only problem is blemishes on asphalt, a sealcoat service when the weather allows can be well worth the dollars spent.
- Identity. The house numbers, whether simply on the side of the mailbox or elsewhere, are more important than most Delaware homeowners realize. After all, prospective buyers are certain to look closely at them—which can be turned into an opportunity to forge a distinctive identity. Search the web for images showing “house number design ideas” to see how many interesting looks are out there—then seriously consider if a change might add drama and distinction to your home’s curb appeal.
- Written by Russell Stucki
3 Moves to Avoid When You're Buying a House in Delaware
First, a word about these Things to Avoid when you’re in the process of buying a Delaware house: it’s a short list.
The reason it’s so short is because of who you are—since you’re reading this, it means you’re someone who is taking the time to delve into what’s happening with Delaware real estate. That makes it unlikely that you will fall into any of the common-sense pitfalls that populate typical Top 10 Pitfalls lists. Most of them are pretty obvious to anyone who pays attention.
Less obvious are these three. These touch on areas which can be overlooked when time is short, or emotions are high—or the Delaware house is just so darned attractive you can’t wait to pull the trigger:
- Perfect house: no need to inspect! So sooooo wrong: the cost of an inspection in both time and money will always be some of the best investment results you can ever realize. It might seem as if you’re betting against your perfect deal by investing in an expert’s search for imperfections, but the opposite is true. A perfect house deserves a good inspection. Even if flaws are found that you are willing to accept because the rest of the deal is so attractive, knowing about your future property’s weak points will let you decide if and when to correct them—probably at less expense than if you are blindsided later on.
- Lack of spadework. Buying a house is such a far-reaching commitment, it’s unlikely to reward spur-of-the-moment decision making. Some otherwise quite intelligent and cautious consumers can become suddenly overcome by the impulse to stop paying rent to someone else!—and wind up buying a house that, while it does solve the rent-paying problem, does so less satisfactorily than need be. Especially for first-time homebuyers, taking the time to lay out a hard-headed budget in conjunction with minimum house requirements can make a huge difference in the coming years. The idea that you should take a year to plan any house-buying move is impractical in some cases—but it’s not a bad goal.
- Not comparing mortgage terms. Low interest rates are certainly appealing (and today’s Delaware home loan rates are all of that). But before signing on the dotted line, don’t let the array of numbers and decimal-dotted percentages get in the way of making the best decision. No matter what the interest rate is, it’s usually the APR—the annual percentage rate that integrates the closing costs and other fees— that proves most useful for making comparisons between offers.
- Written by Russell Stucki
Expect 5 Basic Delaware Real Estate Investment Truths
If you go looking for insights from successful Delaware real estate investors, depending on which areas they concentrate on, you could come up with a variety of takes. Despite the distinct differences that separate the commercial and residential investment spheres, there are some time-worn truisms about the real life experience that would have most investors nodding their heads—
- Expect to work at it. The myth of buying real estate, watching it appreciate, then just cashing in is a two-dimensional expectation. A typical Delaware real estate investment has to be discovered, investigated, negotiated, cared for, cared for some more—and sometimes sold—for it to ring up the profits that make real estate investing so lucrative. The best investors relish doing all of it.
- Expect to interact with a wide range of people. Math skills are important, but people skills are up there, too. Just about anyone can do the arithmetic that produces accurate cash flow projections, but being able to network with real estate professionals and lenders—and manage close working relationships with tradespeople—are also vital for sustained success.
- Anticipate changing conditions. Economic conditions are always in flux, so Delaware and Delaware market conditions are always on the move. Last decade’s real estate investment strategies don’t guarantee success today—and certainly not tomorrow. Anticipating and planning for changing conditions is work that can pay real dividends.
- Expect losses. Any investment—including real estate investments in Delaware—involve some degree of risk. Serious real estate investors are those who profit the most from multiple investments over time. Necessarily, they expect that some projects won’t pan out as expected. Not expecting that to be true would be a rookie mistake.
This fifth one is ancient: it sounds like something Ben Franklin could have come up with:
- A fast nickel is better than a slow dime. Strangely enough, this truism can be misinterpreted. One commentator thinks it means “owning real estate is easy; getting paid is tricky.” I think its core meaning is that knowing just when to sell is a terrific real estate investment skill.
- Written by Russell Stucki
What to Make of Mortgage Interest Rate Event (& Non-Event)
It was fairly clear that the table had been set for last week’s Federal Reserve meeting to result in a minimal rise in mortgage interest rates. Their Fed Funds rate directly influences the mortgage interest rates that banks observe. Since Delaware real estate activity can be spurred or dampened by the monthly payment amounts Delaware mortgage lenders offer applicants, this national story has meaningful local repercussions.
It wound up as a non-event that nonetheless spawned action—albeit in a minor way. In May, Chair Yellen had said that a rate increase would be “appropriate” over the summer months. In the lead-up to last week’s meeting, other Fed governors had strongly implied that it was now time for a slight Fed Funds bump.
Still, most commentators kept their prognostications vague; they had been vociferously anticipating a move for many cycles, only to hear serial postponements from the Fed. In addition to having been burnt before by Fed head fakes, there was also another reason why a no-go might happen this time around. Regardless of what the jawboning had been, economic and employment growth was still stuck in first gear—and a rate hike could retard improvement.
The commentators weren’t wrong to hold fire. Once again, the Fed did nothing (except make even more noise about an interest rate hike…later).
Yet, even so, the market forces that nudge mortgage interest rates one way or the other did seem to react. After the non-announcement, rates barely budged at first—but then continued steadily lower (the lowest in weeks, in fact). By week’s end, the Mortgage News Daily announced that the string of moves had brought mortgage interest rates into a “post-Brexit range”—similar to the conditions “that sent rates plunging toward all-time lows.”
The reasons last week were less than certain, although frustration with the Fed’s lack of coherence was fairly unanimous. CNBC interviewed big time investment manager Bill Gross, who said that investors were left “very confused” by the meeting’s outcome. He pointed to the likely rate raise that Yellen had emphasized at last month’s Jackson Hole speech, as well as to Fed Vice Chair Stan Fischer’s earlier assurance that there would be two hikes this year.
All this left Delaware mortgage interest rate watchers to make their own assessments about what to expect for future conditions—most importantly, whether current favorable low interest rates could be counted on for long. There had been at least one indicator that optimists could welcome. Almost unnoticed was a footnote to the Fed’s announcement. Back in June, the Fed had predicted the lending rate to end 2016 at .9 percent. It now said the likely number would be .6%. That would result in Delaware mortgage interest rates still comfortably in the historically low range—hardly a flashing red light for would-be borrowers.
- Written by Russell Stucki