10 Low-Cost Tweaks to Help Your Home Sell

Many homeowners won’t even consider listing their home, because they can’t afford extensive remodeling to get it ready for sale. But sometimes it’s not the major renovations that buyers notice.

Consider this checklist of cheaper to-do’s before hanging that for-sale sign.

sell-my-jersey-shore-house

1. Quick-clean the exterior and landscape.
They don’t call it curb appeal for nothing. Check for loose or clogged gutters and broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind the gutters. Cut the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure the garage doors open and close properly. Wipe down lawn furniture. Fix any dangling shutters.

Estimated costs: Completely replacing gutters can be expensive; replacing just parts is more economical. A 10-foot gutter starts at $6; downspouts start at $8. High-end garage doors cost $1,000, but a decorative garage door hardware kit starts at $19.

2. Make that door (and doorbell) stand out.
Many homeowners don’t come in through the front door, but prospective buyers do. If you’ve ever gone house hunting you know it takes a moment for your Realtor to get inside that lockbox to get the door open. During this time, buyer’s are sizing up the immediate exterior. Fix cracked or peeling doorways with a fresh coat of paint and be sure the bell actually rings.

Estimated costs: Exterior paints start at $30 a gallon; doorbells are $10 and up.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your House

3. Evaluate every entrance.
It’s not just the front door that will get the once-over. Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually, so update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs. Junky bifolds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors can also stand to be replaced.

Estimated costs: Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

4. Look down.
People walk in and wipe their feet. One of the first things they’ll notice is the condition of the floor, says Goode. Stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors are fairly easy fixes.

Estimated costs: You can rent a carpet steam cleaner for $60; the cost of area rugs varies significantly.

5. Select the right scent.
Beware the four most dreaded words in real estate: “What is that smell?” Buyers will associate musty odors with mold damage or disrepair, so eliminate any nose agitators. Clean out litter boxes, make sure your animals are bathed, banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage, and throw out that science experiment in the fridge. Find one scent (or complementing scents) you love and use it throughout the house to avoid scent overload.

Estimated costs: Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.

6. Spot treat any blemishes.
Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light.

Estimated costs: Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

storage-units-bradley-beach

7. Have a place for everything.
If buyers see that your stuff doesn’t have a home, they won’t want your home. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.

When closet space is at a premium, repurpose other areas for storage. Finish the garage walls and floors and add some simple storage to make the room part of the home. This can yield great return on investmet!

Estimated costs: Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.

RELATED: Creative Storage Solutions You’ve Never Thought Of

8. Check the tracks. You may no longer notice that lopsided utensils drawer, but potential buyers will. New cabinetry may be out of the question, but fix bent drawer tracks and slides, replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.

Estimated costs: Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

9. Give the appliances some elbow grease.
Buyers want stoves that shine, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole. Clean the oven, refrigerator, microwave, sink and any other appliance that will be included in the purchase of the home.

Estimated costs: Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.

10. Finish with finishes.
Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze. New shower curtains, towels and mats will also help the room look updated and clean.

Estimated costs: Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.

RELATED: Home Renovations That Yield The Greatest Return On Investment

YOUR TURN

What tips do you have for sprucing up the home on a budget?  Sound off on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, on our Twitter feed or on LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty HOME ADVICE eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox.

The 10 Sins of Selling

failYour real estate game should be about preparing to make the right moves at the right time and practicing patience.

On average, home sellers commit up to five of these home-selling “sins” and lose thousands of dollars on their home sale as a result. The good news? All of these mistakes are easily avoidable — if you know how to identify them.

1. Not hiring a professional to sell your house
Trying to sell your home by yourself is sheer madness, and many sellers who try it soon discover this. Even if you’re in a competitive market such as Boston, and you think your home will sell easily, you need the expertise of a real estate professional to score the best deal.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Why Use An Agent to Sell Your Home

2. Neglecting necessary repairs prior to sale
You will lose money if you don’t take care of repairs before your house goes on the market, because they will most likely be discovered during the home inspection. Do necessary repairs before listing and save yourself the last-minute headache of trying to quickly fix issues such as a leaking roof or botched caulk job.

RELATED: Benefits of An Advance Home Inspection

3. Refusing to remove your clutter and junk prior to the sale
Clutter eats equity and kills deals. With all that extra stuff in the way, homebuyers can’t see the home for its true potential, and the offer will reflect that.

4. Selling your house empty
While clutter is bad, selling an empty house makes buyers feel the same way — empty. They need to be able to visualize how the home looks with furniture and how functional it will be for their own family.

5. Mispricing your home
Overpricing or underpricing your house is a huge money-losing mistake. Work with your agent to list your home at the perfect price to make sure it doesn’t sit on the market for too long, or worse, make you forever wonder if you could have gotten more money.

CRITICAL READING: The Importance of Proper Pricing

6. Not setting the stage for sale day
Remember; buyers purchase with their hearts and not their heads. Create a showplace for your buyers on sale day (but don’t go overboard with music or too much potpourri).

7. Letting your emotions get in the way when negotiating
It’s not uncommon – and almost understandable. But many sellers become emotional while negotiating and lose out on creating a win-win deal. Look forward to a bright future as hard as it may be to let your house go.

8. Neglecting to complete a full set of disclosures prior to closing
This one’s simple. Be honest and reveal everything (plus, what you don’t reveal will be discovered by the buyer). Ask your Agent for help with this. Patrick Parker Realty takes our fiduciary duty to represent your interests very seriously. This includes proper disclosure.

9. Preempting the sale for maximum tax benefits
Even one day can cost you tens of thousands in extra taxes. Don’t be left a day late and many dollars short.

10. Overlooking junk fees and extra expenses at closing
Home sellers throw away thousands by not requesting and confirming a list of fees and expenses long before closing day.

RELATED: How Patrick Parker Realty Saves You Money At Closing

YOUR TURN

Did we miss any home-selling mistakes?  What have you learned in retrospect?  Sound off in Comments, on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook or Twitter pages and don’t forget to sign up for the monthly Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter for more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

From the Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series:
Tax Tips for Short Sales

ppre-refundUnderstanding how a short sale or restructure will be viewed by the Internal Revenue Service can help you plan your tax situation ahead of time.

If you are in a position where you have to sell your house for less than the amount you owe on it or have to restructure your mortgage with the lender in order to avoid foreclosure proceedings, you may face tax implications on the transaction. Understanding how a short sale or restructure will be viewed by the Internal Revenue Service can help you plan your tax situation ahead of time.

What is a short sale?
A short sale happens when you sell your property for less than what you owe on its mortgage(s). A short sale has to be approved by your lender because it will not receive the full amount of the outstanding loans.

After the sale, the loan will still have an unpaid balance, called the deficiency. Depending on the lender and the laws of your state, a short sale can result either in you owing the deficiency to the lender as unsecured debt, or in the lender forgiving the deficiency. A short sale is often negotiated as an alternative to foreclosure, as it often involves fewer costs and fees.

MORE INFO: The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Forgiveness

Tax implications of forgiven debt
If your lender forgives the balance of your mortgage after the short sale, you may not be out of the woods yet. You may have to include the forgiven debt as taxable income in the year of the short sale. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 exempted that income through 2014 from taxation, up to $2 million, if it was your principal residence, or main home. However, the tax still applies to second or vacation houses as well as rental properties. Beginning in 2015, the exemption is no longer available unless it is reinstated.

Mortgage restructuring
Before seeking a short sale or being forced into a foreclosure, you may be able to negotiate a mortgage restructuring to allow you to stay in your home and to be more able to afford your mortgage’s terms and interest rate. These types of loan modifications can take many forms and may include:

• Reduced interest rates
• A reduction of the loan principal
• Stretching out the payments over a longer time frame to make payments smaller

Of these options, only a principal reduction may have income tax implications. The principal reduction may be considered taxable income to you in the year of the restructure. If the property is your main home, it will fall under the provisions of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and will be excluded from taxable income.

Dealing with incorrect 1099-C forms
If your lender has reduced or eradicated your debt under a short sale or mortgage restructure, it will send you IRS Form 1099-C at the end of the year, showing the amount of the debt forgiven and the fair market value of the property. Review the document carefully and compare it to your own figures. If it contains misstatements, contact the lender and attempt to have it correct the form. If it is not able, or not willing, to do that in a timely manner, recalculate the correct figures and provide the IRS with documentation showing how you arrived at your figures when you file your income tax return.

Keep in mind that this is general information designed to help you put these valuable deductions on your radar. Patrick Parker Realty Agents and Realtors are not certified accountants. Please be sure to check with your tax adviser to see if you qualify for a particular credit or deduction.

_____________________________________________________________________

The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series will cover many topics as they relate to real estate and increasing your income tax refund. Such topics will include Home Ownership Tax Breaks, Hidden Tax Deductions, Deductions on Mortgage Interest, Reporting on the Sale of Your Home, Home Purchase Tax Credits and more. In addition, our Blog Series will explore Tax Incentives as they relate to major transitions and lifestyles; Marriage, Birth, Divorce, Death of Spouse, Health Insurance, Caretaking of Dependents, Business Owners, Commuters and more.

Check in to The Patrick Parker Realty Blog each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through Tax Day for new posts. You can also follow The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series on Facebook and Twitter using #taxseasonblog.

More Info About The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series >
Tax Terms Glossary >
More Tax Aspects of Home Ownership >

For more information about paying taxes on the sale or purchase of your home or any other questions you have about this article please speak with your tax professional or visit www.irs.gov.

 

The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series: 
Do I have to pay taxes on the profit I made selling my home?

new-jersey-taxesIt depends on how long you owned and lived in the home before the sale and how much profit you made. If you owned and lived in the place for two of the five years before the sale, then up to $250,000 of profit is tax-free.

If you are married and file a joint return, the tax-free amount doubles to $500,000. The law lets you “exclude” this much otherwise taxable profit from your taxable income. (If you sold for a loss, though, you can’t take a deduction for that loss.)

You can use this exclusion every time you sell a primary residence, as long as you owned and lived in it for two of the five years leading up to the sale, and haven’t claimed the exclusion on another home in the last two years.

If your profit exceeds the $250,000 or $500,000 limit, the excess is reported as a capital gain on Schedule D.

How do I qualify for this tax break?

There are three tests you must meet in order to treat the gain from the sale of your main home as tax-free:

  • Ownership: You must have owned the home for at least two years (730 days or 24 full months) during the five years prior to the date of your sale. It doesn’t have to be continuous, nor does it have to be the two years immediately preceding the sale. If you lived in a house for a decade as your primary residence, then rented it out for two years prior to the sale, for example, you would still qualify under this test.
  • Use: You must have used the home you are selling as your principal residence for at least two of the five years prior to the date of sale.
  • Timing: You have not excluded the gain on the sale of another home within two years prior to this sale.

If you’re married and want to use the $500,000 exclusion:

You must file a joint return.

At least one spouse must meet the ownership requirement, and both you and your spouse must have lived in the house for two of the five years leading up to the sale.

Special circumstances

Even if you don’t meet all of these requirements, there are special rules that may allow you to claim either the full exclusion or a partial exclusion:

  • If you acquire ownership of a home as part of a divorce settlement, you can count the time the place was owned by your former spouse as time you owned the home for purposes of passing the two-out-of-five-years test.
  • To meet the use requirement, you are allowed to count short temporary absences as time lived in the home, even if you rented the home to others during these absences. If you or your spouse is granted use of a home as part of a divorce or separation agreement, the spouse who doesn’t live in the home can still count the days of use that the other spouse lives in that home. This can come into play if one spouse moves out of the house, but continues to own part or all of it until it is sold.
  • If either spouse dies and the surviving spouse has not remarried prior to the date the home is sold, the surviving spouse can count the period the deceased spouse owned and used the property toward the ownership-and-use test.

Members of the uniformed services, foreign service and intelligence agencies:

You can choose to have the five-year-test period for ownership and use suspended for up to ten years during any period you or your spouse serve on “qualified official extended duty” as a member of the uniformed services, Foreign Service or the federal intelligence agencies. You are on qualified extended duty when, for more than 90 days or for an indefinite period, you are:

  • At a duty station that is at least 50 miles from your main home, or
  • Residing under government orders in government housing

This means that you may be able to meet the two-year use test even if, because of your service, you did not actually live in your home for at least the required two years during the five years prior to the sale.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Follow The Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series on Facebook and Twitter using #taxseasonblog.

Check back in with the Patrick Parker Realty Blog or sign up for the Patrick Parker Realty eNewsletter to have updates delivered to your inbox monthly.

The Blog Series will cover many topics such as How do I qualify for a home seller break?, How do I qualify for a home buyer break?, Do I have to report the home sale on my return?, What is the gain on the sale of my home?, What Are Home Renovation Tax Credits?, Deducting Mortgage Interest, Taking the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, How to Avoid Taxes on Canceled Mortgage Debt, Tax Incentives as they relate to Life’s biggest transitions, such as Marriage, the Birth of a Baby, Divorce, or the death of a Spouse and much more. New posts in this Blog Series will be published twice weekly. 

More info about the Patrick Parker Realty Tax Season Blog Series >

For more information about paying taxes on the sale or purchase of your home or any other questions you have about this article please speak with your tax professional or visit www.irs.gov.

 


    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/patri034/public_html/wp-content/themes/parker/category.php on line 36