Category Archives: Home Maintenance

Budget friendly projects with a big Return of Investment (ROI)

crop_sm_Remolding

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home. This list goes in the opposite direction: Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

  1. High quality ceiling fans: In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, replace them with something in the $400 range—it’ll make a big difference when it’s time to sell.
  2. Trees: Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.
  3. Energy efficiency: Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile. Switching from a wood to gas fireplace is a great start.
  4. Outdoor lighting: Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home, and you can typically expect a 50 percent return on investment.
  5. Molding: You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.

Are you thinking about selling soon but are not sure if your house is “ready”? Since each listing should showcase its own personality, it helps (and it is encouraged) to have a Professional tour your property for advice on how to properly and effectively prepare your listing. A professional Property Stager, a Certified Home Marketing Specialist (CHMS), and/or a REALTOR® can create a custom list of “to-dos” to help dress your house for a successful sale. Having a pre-listing walk-through with a Pro can save you from spending money on the wrong home improvements.

An experienced local REALTOR® is likely to have a team of people who can assist you with listing preparations. Make one call and get it all done – call your favorite REALTOR® first!

We know what it takes to get a house sold the quickest and for the most money. Let our experience help get you the biggest bang for your buck!  ~Agent Val, metro realty

Have Questions? I’m here to help. Send a quick message for a FREE CONSULTATION:

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

The advice and opinions expressed and shared on AgentVal.com are the sole opinions and advice offered by Val J Aranda, Metro Realty. This is not intended to solicit business from consumers under a Buyer/Broker Agreement or Listing Agreement with another Real Estate Firm.

Five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room

wet bar stagedCan’t seem to create a living room that feels quite right? Looking for some styling tips that will bring your living room up a notch? Here are five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room.

 

  1. Move the furniture away from the walls: The tendency is to place your furniture against the walls, but giving it a little room to breathe will make the seating area seem cozier while also making the room seem more spacious.
  2. Mix old and new pieces: Using the same furniture set to furnish an entire room can make it seem a bit sterile. Try mixing and matching different pieces and styles to give your living room a more eclectic feel.
  3. Keep everything low: Arranging photos and artwork lower on walls will make a room appear larger, and can also draw more attention to the pieces themselves.
  4. Place a bookshelf behind the sofa: It doesn’t have to be your entire personal library. Mix and match books with knick-knacks and other items to add some depth and texture to the space behind your sofa.
  5. Try a smaller coffee table: Your current coffee table is probably larger than it needs to be, and it may be dominating the room. Try downsizing to a table that can still hold magazines, a centerpiece, and a few drinks, but will also give you a bit more room to move around your furniture.

fam room

These are all great tips for staging a living area, too!
~Agent Val

Five maintenance resolutions for your home

We may be a little removed from New Year’s Day, but it’s not too late to make some new resolutions for your home.

1. Start a home repair slush fund: Things in your home are going to break and need to fixed. It’s just a fact that comes with home ownership. Rather than letting expensive repairs take you by surprise, start planning for them. Set aside some money each month that you can eventually draw from when an appliance breaks or unexpected.

2. Inspect your fireplace: Even if you have a gas fireplace, you should still inspect the valves and ceramic logs yearly to ensure that everything is operating safely and correctly. If you have wood fireplace, hire a certified chimney sweep to do the job.

3. Maintain your garage door: Garage doors are big and heavy, and that puts a lot of stress on the hinges and tracks that are use to open and close the door several times a day. A regularly scheduled $50 inspection could save you hundreds or thousands in the long run.

4. Tune up your furnace: Regular furnace inspections will help identify minor problems before they turn into major ones. Also, set reminders to replace your furnace filter.

5. Clean your coils: The No. 1 refrigerator maintenance task should be cleaning the condenser coils. They can get clogged with hair and dust, reducing your fridge’s efficiency. Have you cleaned yours lately? You can hire a professional to do it, but it’s also an easy do-it-yourself job.

QUICK NOTE FROM AGENT VAL: Preventive maintenance is so important when owning a home. Fixing the little things now can save from big dollar expenses down the road.

If you are in or around the Greater San Antonio area and need a list of recommendations for handymen, plumbers, electricians, etc…, let me know. I’ll be happy to pass along a few recommendations.

REQUEST A LIST OF LOCAL CONTRACTORS OR SEND YOUR GENERAL REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS:

At your service!

~Val~

***

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

Home staging: Does it make a difference?

It seems to be universally accepted that home staging will help your home sell faster or for the best price—it’s been the common practice in the real estate business for a long time, and on the surface it seems like a no-brainer. Of course potential buyers will be more interested if a home is properly decorated, right?

That’s not necessarily true, according to a recent academic study. The study surveyed 820 homebuyers by showing them one of six virtual tours of the same property. In some instances the home was decorated with traditional furniture and color schemes, while in others more eccentric furniture and colors were used. In other tours there was no furniture at all, just empty rooms.

The overall results of the study were that staging is unlikely to increase a home’s sale price, and that staging isn’t quite as important as everyone believes.

Of course, real estate trends vary greatly from market to market. If you have questions about staging, talk to your trusted real estate professional.


A Special Note from Agent Val: In many neighborhoods within the greater San Antonio area, staging is extremely helpful. Want to know what’s best for your property? Contact me today. I’ll be happy to preview your property and offer a free no-obligation consultation.


HAVE GENERAL REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS?

At your service!

~Val~

——————————-

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

Five apps for easy home decorating

The holidays are coming to an end. The fireworks will bring in the new year soon. Once the confetti settles, it’s time to get our homes back in order.

If you’re thinking about a new and snazzy look for your home’s decor in 2016, you may enjoy the smartphone/mobile device apps listed below!

apps for home decor

Five apps for easy home decorating

Technology has made it easier than ever to bring your home decor ideas to reality. There are countless smartphone apps that help you plan a space or do some valuable comparative shopping. Here are five apps to use on your next decorating project. Most are available on both iOS and Android devices.

1. Color Capture: Ever see a color that would make for a perfect paint scheme? Benjamin Moore’s Color Capture app allows you to take a photo of anything and instantly get a matching paint color.

2. iHandyLevel: Hanging photos and artwork? Rather than searching through your toolbox for a level, you can use something that’s already in your pocket: Your phone. The iHandyLevel app functions just as well as a dedicated level, turning your phone into the ultimate picture-hanging companion.

3. LikeThatDecor: Let’s say you see the perfect Chesterfield sofa in a coffee shop, and you want to see where you could get one of your own. Use the LikeThatDecor app to take a photo of furniture and instantly see similar items from dozens of retailers.

 4. IKEA Catalog: Forget about the nightmare of navigating the parking garage, showroom, and warehouse at your nearest IKEA. The IKEA Catalog app allows you to virtually place furniture in a room. If only there was an app for easy IKEA assembly!

 5. DesignSponge: DesignSponge is one of the best DIY and home decor websites out there. Now there’s an app that makes it easy to access all of their awesome content on your smartphone.

***

Whether or not you’ve bought a home using my services, I’m always available to answer your house-to-home questions!  ~Agent Val

Val-A-HomesMETRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Direct to Val: 210-378-5987

HVAC – DIY Preventive Maintenance

I’ve toured and sold miles, and miles, and miles of homes. Most contracts start with a home inspection, and on almost every home inspection, the HVAC System needs to be serviced.  And if you don’t know by now, the HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), is one of the MOST EXPENSIVE items to replace in a home.

So… before the A/C or heating system freezes up and/or gives up – change your air filters every 30-days! It’s one of the most important (and least expensive) preventive maintenance tips you can follow. When you change your air filter, go ahead and pour about a cup of vinegar into the drain line of your interior A/C system. It’ll help clear up some of the goo and gunk that builds up in your drain line. Vinegar is said to be better than bleach since it’ll end up in your yard. Vinegar is less harmful to the kids and pets playing around in your yard.

DO-IT-YOURSELF HVAC PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE:
(as recommended by many HVAC Service Technicians)

STEP 1: Find your A/C drain line. Remove the plastic cap with a simple twist and pull.

STEP 1: Find your A/C drain line. Remove the plastic cap with a simple twist and pull.

STEP 2: Use about 1-cup of vinegar to pour into the drain line. (I use an empty water bottle).

STEP 2: Use about 1-cup of vinegar to pour into the drain line. (I use an empty water bottle).

STEP 3: Slowly pour the vinegar down the drain line. (I use a funnel for less mess).

STEP 3: Slowly pour the vinegar down the drain line. (I use a funnel for less mess).

STEP 4:  Check the drain line outside. Chances are it sticking out of your foundation. Make sure the vinegar is flowing out.

STEP 4: Check the drain line outside. Chances are it’s sticking out of your foundation. Make sure the vinegar is flowing out.

If the vinegar does not come out or if it’s a very slow drip, you may need servicing.

If you have a Home Protection Plan, but NEVER try these preventive maintenance tips, it’s very likely that your plan will not cover repairs and/or maintenance if your system breaks down. IT’S BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.  There’s nothing worse than 105 degree TEXAS weather without an A/C!

If you need a local HVAC Technician who’s licensed, bonded and affordable, I recommend Frank Garcia, owner/operator of “Air Strike: Air Conditioning and Heating.”  He’s quick to respond and services the Greater San Antonio area.

Air Strike AC & Heating

Frank Garcia

Phone: (210) 639-9054

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http://val-a-homes.com - by Agent Val

http://val-a-homes.com – by Agent Val

Brought to you by- Val J Aranda, metro realty – “Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

San Antonio, TX

Open House Timeline: Countdown to a Successful Sale

  • Curb Appeal[Article 2 of 6]

    NEW SERIES FOR SELLERS:  Helping Owners Get Ready To List Their House

  • Open houses:  Not every REALTOR® holds open houses, and there are different reasons why.  When interviewing agents, ask about his/her marketing plan.  If an open house isn’t brought up, don’t hesitate to ask why.  Experts in your area will be happy to explain whether or not an open house would benefit your listing.
  • Statistics show that houses are sold more through MLS, other REALTORS® and the internet.  So, I’ll focus my marketing dollars on Broker-to-Broker advertising and online marketing.  However, if a listing is a great candidate for an open house, it needs to be done RIGHT!

Not only does a listing broker have a lot of preparation to do, but the seller does, too. Since the first impression can make or break a deal, it’s imperative that a house is in tip-top shape and ready for prime time showings! 

For a successful Open House, here’s a “countdown” to help get things in order.  Keep in mind, people will judge a book by its cover.  ~Agent Val

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

METRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®

“Coaching first-time Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #473
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-617-3011
*At your service*

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home For Sale

  • Curb AppealNEW SERIES FOR SELLERS:  Helping Owners Get Ready To List Their House

     

  • [Article 1 of 6 – “5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale”]

There are so many indicators flashing and pointing to the light at the end of the tunnel.  HOUSES ARE A HOT COMMODITY, AGAIN!  Two big indicators are Appraisals and Surveys.  Once they’re ordered, it usually takes about a week to get results.  Nowadays, it’s taking about two weeks!  (Meaning they are backed-up on orders).  Another huge indicator:  Sellers are not only seeing multiple offers, but Buyers are lining up to see the same popular house on the block.  TRUE STORY!

If you’re on the fence about selling your house… let me give you a little nudge:
BUYERS DON’T HAVE ENOUGH INVENTORY!  Your property might be the one they’re waiting for.

For the biggest BANG for your BUCK, here’s a list of “5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale”

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

METRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®

“Coaching first-time Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #473
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-617-3011
*I’m ALWAYS on-call* 

PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH

I spend my days talking about houses and explaining about maintenance.  I teach homeowners how to take care of their home, but I don’t always practice what I preach.  I’m like my mechanic who fixes everyone’s car but his own.

“Do what I say, not what I do!”  🙂

During “Spring Break 2013,” I’m staying busy with house showings and listing appointments.  BUT, I did take a few hours off to take care of some plumbing issues I’ve ignored.  I thought I’d share my recent hot water heater experience with you.  Hopefully, it’ll help prevent you from making the same mistakes I made.

MY WATER HEATER STORY – The hot water wasn’t traveling to the back of the house (don’t laugh at me when you find out why):  I bought my house in 2004.  It was built in 1994.  My water heater was the original.  Over the years, I noticed the hot water wasn’t traveling all the way to my kitchen or utility room (the furthest rooms from my water heater).  I adjusted the temperature on the Water Heater, and raised it to about 120 degrees.  It really didn’t make a big difference.  My thought:  “Maybe there’s something blocking the hot water from traveling the pipes.”  *think*think*think*  (I never called a plumber).

SPLISH-SPLASH!  My water heater leaked.  I caught it pretty quickly and had it replaced.  The water to the kitchen and utility room was about the same temperature with the NEW water heater, so I continued to assume the lack of hot water was due to a water-line problem (not the temperature setting).

I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!  Washing dishes and doing laundry in luke-warm water was just not cutting it anymore.  I resorted to washing dishes with bleach water just to make sure I was “disinfecting.”  As for my laundry, thank goodness for, “Cold Water Tide.”  But that still doesn’t beat bubbling hot water for my loads of whites.

plumbingHELP IS ON THE WAY!  I received an email from a Master Plumber who was starting his own business.  He was looking for work and offering a discount.  “You had me at 10%!”  🙂

I called him up and he came to the rescue.  Now, I have to interject here with a side note:  I like taking care of things on my own.  Especially when it’s something small.  I’m like most people; I’d rather NOT spend BIG BUCKS on labor when I know it’s a $5 fix!  Okay, back to my story: I was expecting the Plumber to dig holes and jack-hammer his way to the “problem.”  Why wasn’t the hot water traveling to the kitchen or utility room?

The first thing the plumber asked was, “how old is your water heater?”  I proudly responded with, “no more than two years.”  “Uh-huh,” I thought.  “Puzzling isn’t it?”  He went to the kitchen and ran the water at the sink.  He stated that the water pressure was pretty strong.  He said, “let me check the temperature setting on your water heater.”  I told him, “go right ahead.”  In my mind I was thinking, “that’s not the problem.  The temperature setting on the OLD water heater was up to 120 degrees and that didn’t make a difference.  There’s NO WAY the temperature setting on the NEW water heater is going to help solve the mystery!”

While he went to his truck to grab his tools, I went into my kitchen to work on breakfast.  I was planning on this guy being at my house for most of the morning.  He was going to have to investigate and settle the case once and for all.

After about five minutes in front of the water heater, the Plumber called for me.  “I want to show you something.”  Okay, here goes.  I braced myself for the news that would break the bank.

Plumber:  See the temperature setting?  It’s below 120 degrees.  I’m going to raise it to 150 degrees.

Me:  What?  No way.  No.  Seriously?  There’s no way that could be it!

Plumber:  Yes, ma’am.  I think it is.  (He turns up the heat, and we could hear the water heater kick into gear).

Me:  Are you kidding me?  (I hit him in the arm)  That’s what it was THIS WHOLE TIME?  (couldn’t believe I hit him)

Plumber:  (Laughs)  I believe so.  Let’s go check the water in the kitchen.  (Turns the water on.  Freakin’ water is hot and getting hotter).

I was so embarrassed.  I even had a couple of friends over because I just knew I was going to be stuck at home ALL DAY LONG!  Well, I’ll be doggone.  All the plumber had to do was turn a small screw/knob on the water heater to adjust the temperature.
[Here’s a helpful YouTube video showing how to do it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMETZ9y6wuI]

I asked the Plumber:  “If it was as simple as setting the temperature, why didn’t it work with the old water heater?”


Electric Water heaterHere’s the million dollar answer:
 The main heating element is at the BOTTOM of an electric water heater.  On the old water heater, there was probably a layer of sediment (calcium build-up and other debris) at the bottom of the heater.  The layer was probably so thick, that the heating element couldn’t heat the water properly.

*Palm to the forehead*  DUH!  That makes perfect sense, now.

How much did he charge me?  $0.00!  I’m pretty sure he saw the look on my face and felt sorry for me!

SO… IF YOU’RE HAVING HOT WATER ISSUES, check the temperature setting on your Hot Water Heater!  I’ve heard some plumbers say to keep the water around 120-125 degrees.  My plumber raised it to 150 degrees.  I might reduce it eventually, but for now, I’m enjoying washing my dishes!  Never thought I’d say that!  🙂

A House is Like a Box of Cereal

A FACEBOOK FRIEND BRINGS UP A GREAT “LISTING” QUESTION.  When preparing a house for sale:  “Extreme Makeover.  Is that the direction of today’s real estate market?”

I enjoy interacting with customers, clients and friends on my Facebook page (Val-A-Homes.com on Facebook).  This week, I had a potential seller post a web page showing some before and after photos of a house.  She was curious about the “after” shots.  She felt the makeover was pretty extreme (if this were a house being prepared for a listing) and wondered if that was the direction of today’s market.

SPECIAL NOTE TO THE OWNER OF THE HOME PROVIDED IN THE WEB PAGE” LINK REFERENCED ABOVE:  Your house is absolutely gorgeous!  The before and after shots are fantastic.  Your decor and creativity are top-notch!  The notes below are simply using your photos as examples of what to consider when listing a home.  (Not necessarily your home).   Thank you!  ~Agent Val, metro realty

One thing I pointed out was the “BEFORE” photos were of the house when it was listed for sale.  The “AFTER” photos were of the house after the family moved in.  BIG difference.

HOW SHOULD A LISTING BE DISPLAYED?
For the best results, appeal to the majority. The more people a house can attract, the higher the percentage of interested buyers. With taste-specific decorating, we minimize our “audience,” and can lose potential buyers.

HOW DOES TODAY’S MARKET AFFECT THE LISTING PREPARATION?
In today’s market, Sellers are fighting to get back what they’ve lost. So, to get top dollar, a house MUST stand out from the rest. It’s more than paint color. It’s about staging, rearranging, reorganizing, and repairing. To list a house, a seller needs to start thinking of the house as if it were a “product” on a store shelf.

life cerealA HOUSE IS LIKE A BOX OF CEREAL:

[EXAMPLE “A”]  A beat-up box of cereal will stay in the back of the shelf. When a potential buyer picks it up, even though the contents are not destroyed, the buyer will probably ask for a discount.

If buyers see a property in need of repair (even if it’s only cosmetic), they’re going to look for a discount.  Oftentimes, the discount is LARGER than the cost of the actual repair.

[EXAMPLE “B”]  A box of cereal that’s over-priced just because it’s “organic,” might stay on the shelf a little longer, because it doesn’t appeal to the majority.

Over-priced listings will get little to no showing appointments.  So, the small “audience” will result in a small percentage of potential buyers.  Why would a seller over-price?  Well, one obvious reason… MONEY.  Another reason; sellers take great pride in the house they’ve lived in.  There’s personal attachment and almost EVERY seller will think their property is an exception to the “fair market value.”

If a seller reaches too high on price, it’s very likely the house will sit on the market too long and become a, “stale,” listing.  Stale listings are perceived as deficient.  Even if there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with the house and the Seller is simply “testing the market,” Buyers will think one of two things:  “What’s wrong with the house?”  and/or  “The seller must not be negotiable (or may be greedy).”  Yes, there may be a buyer willing to pay the price, but how long can you wait?

[EXAMPLE “C”]  A box of cereal that’s priced right in the middle, and hits all the right sugary spots, will get picked up every single time.  It appeals to the majority, so it’ll always fly off the shelves.

Listings that fall within the “Fair Market Value,” will receive serious offers and often sells closer to a seller’s asking price.  “Fair” is the key word.  A house will sell at a price the BUYER thinks is FAIR.  So, if a house is listed in the fair market range for the area, the house will get LOTS of attention.

THE GOOD NEWS: There’s a buyer for every box of cereal (and house).
The question is, how long do you want it sitting on the “shelf?”

Brought to you by:  Agent Val

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® and Certified Home Marketing Specialist – “Coaching first-time Texas home buyers and sellers.” – metro realty

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