Selling It Empty

We plan to move out of our home before we put it on the market.  Any thoughts on selling an empty home?

Some homes definitely sell more readily vacant – my last home was one of them – and so I definitely do not dissuade sellers from emptying their homes before selling them, but there are some important tips to keep in mind!

If you are emptying your home, then empty it.  Do not leave behind the items you don’t want.  Do not leave behind soaps, shampoos, chemicals, lawn fertilizers… Empty is empty.  So please plan on a complete clean out.  If you need help finding people to help dispose of items, give me a call!

It is critical to be sure that once your home is empty, you bring in a handyman to make sure that everything is in good order.  Holes should be patched and touch-up painted, scuffs eliminated, carpets and windows cleaned, all light bulbs working … When there is no furniture to look at, the condition of the home is all the more important.

Make sure you have a plan for upkeep of your empty home.  The yard must be regularly maintained, including weeding, leaf and snow removal.  The interior tends to be easier to keep up, but do be sure you arrange for a periodic quick clean.  It is also a good idea to hire a neighbor or friend to check your home regularly to make sure that there has been no crisis at your home (such as a broken water pipe).

Be sure to keep your home properly conditioned (warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer). I have actually seen mold grow inside a home when sellers do not keep the air conditioning running in warm weather in their vacant homes – this will cost far more to clean up than the air conditioning bill!  Finally, consider putting lights on timers so when buyers drive by in the evening, your home does not appear dark and unloved!

Selling a vacant home is not a bad thing, but it is important that you follow these tips to be sure your home is presenting well to prospective buyers!

 

226 Foxwood Rd, Moon Twp – NEW LISTING

Trendy, stylish 6 year old home in convenient Moon neighborhood checks all of the boxes NEW kitchen features all stainless appliances & industrial pendant lighting adds a touch of style. Ultra-convenient upper level laundry. NEWLY finished walk-out lower level w/ half bath, walk-up bar opens to large green space backing to woods. Highly energy efficient w/ high performance windows, high efficiency HVAC & water heater and thermal barrier. Immaculate condition throughout! $425,000

 

 

139 Blue Heron Drive, Wexford – New Listing

Better than new brick front colonial in ultra-convenient Wexford neighborhood with incredible access to Rte 19 shops and restaurants and I-79, downtown Pittsburgh and the airport. Immaculately maintained, walls of windows flood this cheerful home with natural light. Open floorplan,  Gourmet kitchen, tranquil back deck with wooded views. Private den, laundry adjacent to kitchen, dramatic two-story. Master suite includes a luxurious walk-in dressing room.  $495,000

 

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I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

The Decluttering Mindset

We are finding the process of decluttering to get our home ready to sell very challenging – any suggestions on what to do with all this stuff?

If you’ve lived in your home for a while, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of “stuff,” yet we all know from HGTV and my weekly columns how important it is to present a more minimal home to the market to maximize your price and minimize your days on the market.  And yet, more often than not, cleaning out is easier said than done!

I’d like to start with a reminder that once you have committed to moving, be it now or in 5 years, its key to adjust your mindset.  Moving all of the “stuff” that you have accumulated to your new home is going to rack up your movers bill, and movers are surprisingly expensive. If you wait until your home is under agreement to address your accumulations, you are going to feel like you are in crisis mode having to address it all in a short time frame!  So start now, and think about what you really are going to want/need in your next residence and then get rid of everything else!  Below are some suggestions on what to do with your stuff. I’ve had to come to the difficult realization that my kids don’t want the basement full of stuff I saved – you may have some of the same processing to do.

Take advantage of your waste management program and call for the free hazardous waste disposal bags and start getting rid of old paints and other toxic substances.  Most garbage contractors will also haul away at no additional charge one larger item per week, such as an old mattress and box spring set (which counts as one item). You would also be surprised, if you put unwanted items on the curb a full day ahead of trash pickup, how many of them will be gone overnight.  Drop off old, broken or unwanted appliances for recycling at the Appliance Warehouse on the South Side. Left over items from renovation projects can be donated to Construction Junction in Point Breeze.  Clothes can be donated to a myriad of local charities including the Sewickley Academy Clothesline Sale coming up in September.  And all of the household items and furniture you don’t need or want anymore can be donated to the Day on the Lawn Fundraiser at the Presbyterian Church, Sewickley – the last two drop off times this year are this Friday, 8/30, 9am-noon and Saturday, 8/31, 9am-noon!  If you have items of higher value that you don’t want to just give away, there are many options for selling these items – give me a call and I can connect you to valuable outlets for selling your treasures.  If there are items that you want to hold onto them but they are not being incorporated into the home staging, I recommend moving them to an off-property storage facility or using a storage pod that you can load in your driveway and have taken to a storage facility.  I would be happy to chat with you personally about how to orchestrate it all – just give me a call! 412.779.6060

 

6181 Rittman Road, West Deer

Incredible 46 acre equestrian estate in Gibsonia with easy access to downtown Pittsburgh! This fabulous horse farm includes the farm house with 4 car garage, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, finished lower level, main level master suite and inground pool.  The large barn has an upper level for storing farm equipment and hay and a lower level equipped with stalls, tack room, laundry. The  property includes a 16,000 SF indoor riding arena, outdoor arenas and fenced pastures.  This is a working farm, ready for you to bring your horses!  $1,500,000

 

179 Sweetwater Drive

Looking for new construction in Sewickley? Here’s your chance! Beautiful 7 year old colonial with three car garage! Hardwood floors unify the main level. Amazing open floorplan is ideal for family living or entertaining. Kitchen features timeless white cabinetry topped with granite, stainless appliances. Large center island easily seats 4-6. Main level laundry/mudroom conveniently connects to the attached garage. Master suite with large walk-in closet and en-suite bath. 3 additional bedrooms.  Unfinished lower level with rough-in for full bath is ready for your custom finishes. $529,000.  See More…

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I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Can I Take It With Me?

I spent a lot of money on my lighting fixtures and really don’t want to leave them in my home when I sell it – can I take them with me?

This question comes up more often than you might think! Sometimes the fixture is a family heirloom or was a gift for a special occasion.  Maybe it has followed you from home to home and you can’t imagine a home without it.  Maybe you just absolutely love it.  Or maybe it was very expensive and you just don’t want to leave it behind.

Whatever the reason, you absolutely can take a favorite fixture, keeping in mind some important guidelines.  First, the best thing you can do is to remove the fixture before listing your home and replace it with a stylish but not to pricey replacement.  If you are like nearly every seller out there, you will want top dollar for your home and that will be much harder to achieve, so be sure to find something that is stylish – I can help with that.  It is far better that the buyer never see the fixtures you want to keep – they might attach to them and removing them after the buyer has seen them could jeopardize the entire deal.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible to remove the fixture before listing the home.  Occasionally fixtures are too big or fragile and require special crating to move them. If this is the case with your fixture and there is no way it can be removed in advance of listing your home, it is critical that you disclose this upfront. It should be listed as an exclusion in the MLS and in the property brochure. Hopefully with upfront disclosure the buyer will not attach and you will be able to remove them before you close.  You will need to cap the fixture outlet of course – you cannot simply leave the wires hanging out of the ceiling!  Be certain before you sign an Agreement of Sale that the fixture is clearly listed as exclusion.

Leaving the lights up and listing them as exclusions is clearly easiest for you, but keep in mind that if you are expecting a premium price for your home, a buyer may balk at you stripping lights from the home.  For this reason, removing the lights pre-listing and replacing them with stylish choice is the best alternative!

188 Sweetwater Drive

Kiss old house “problems” good bye and still live in Sewickley!  Sound too good to be true?  Check out 188 Sweetwater Drive.  Only 6 years old, this wonderful home is sited on an awesome half-acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac in a fabulous Sewickley neighborhood!  Incredible outdoor spaces include Trex deck, patio and two firepits, all backing to natural woodlands. Three finished levels include huge finished lower level with full bath.  Gorgeous design aesthetic throughout unifies this incredible open floorplan.  4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3 car attached garage. $569,000.

 

518 Irwin Drive

Exceptional opportunity to own one of Sewickley’s landmark homes! Recently remodeled with a current design aesthetic, this notable home is architecturally impressive and yet incredibly comfortable for today’s lifestyles.  Outstanding main level space includes a huge kitchen open to a large family room, spacious “homework room” adjacent to the kitchen, and living room, dining room and den.  Finished lower level. 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths PLUS a nanny/in-law suite.  Incredible yard with room for a pool.  So close to all Village amenities and yet giving you the perfect amount of privacy.  $2,700,000.

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Disclosing the Ghosts

I’m superstitious and want to avoid buying a haunted house.  Does a seller have to disclose that information?

We live in an old town, with homes dating back to the early 1800s.  With old homes comes a lot of history, and sometimes a ghost story or two.  While approximately half of our states do require disclosure of paranormal activity, Pennsylvania is not one of those states.  Pennsylvania also does not currently require a seller to disclose if someone has died in a home, although they cannot affirmatively lie if asked.

Many other states have adopted far more comprehensive disclosure laws.  In our neighboring New York, paranormal activity must be disclosed.  In California, any death in a home in the preceding three years must be disclosed.  And in Massachusetts, the law is even more comprehensive, requiring disclosure of paranormal activity, as well as whether the home was ever the site of a felony, suicide or homicide or whether someone with HIV ever lived in the home.

Our disclosure simply asks whether there are any material defects, which is defined as anything that could significantly impact value. Material defects would clearly include any major problems with the physical structure, as well as pending tax assessments and disputes over property boundaries with adjoining landowners.  But what about those ghostly apparitions or eerie cries in the night?  According to a well-known California appraiser who specializes in diminution of value, a well-publicized murder can reduce value by 15% – 35%.  Does a ghost reduce a home’s value and need to be disclosed?  Right now, the answer is no in Pennsylvania, although sellers wishing to avoid lawsuits would be well advised to disclose anything that could be seen as stigmatizing a property, including paranormal activity and deaths in the home.  For some buyers, value actually increases with the prospect of living among ghosts.  But before disclosing the ghost in your attic, be sure there isn’t a rational explanation for what you are experiencing.

Buyers, if you don’t want to move into a haunted home, what can you do to protect yourself in the absence of required disclosure?  You can start with the internet – do a thorough search of the property address and sellers’ names.  That will likely turn up information on any more recent concerns with the property.  You can also pay for a property report at Diedinhouse.com, but I can’t vouch for its accuracy. Some recommend burning sage to rid the home of spirits, and if all else fails, you can always call Ghostbusters!

305 Chestnut Road, Edgeworth – New Listing 

Utterly charming historic Village colonial set on a large lot with fully fenced backyard and private back patio, ideal for warm weather entertaining.  Nicely remodeled throughout.  Large kitchen with huge walk-in pantry and mudroom. Finished lower level includes large walk-in closet and full bath. Beautiful architectural detail and wood floors throughout. Dramatic ceilings, sun-drenched rooms.  $475,000  See more…

 

 

 

415 Orchard Street – New Listing 

A fabulous renovation of this incredibly spacious Village home.  Three finished levels including lower level with full bath. Beautifully renovated kitchen with breakfast “café,” coffee bar, mudroom with lockers.  Beautifully finished wood floors. Delightful covered front porch.  Quiet back patio. Fenced rear yard is ideal for pets. Exceptional condition throughout.  $795,000  See more…

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I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Is Remodeling Necessary?

We’ve lived in our current home for 20 years and have kept up with maintenance but haven’t done much else – how much remodeling do we really have to do before putting it on the market?

 You’ve lived in your home long enough that you have probably “used up” a lot of the value that you bought with your home and will need to restore some of that value if you hope to protect your original investment.

Carpeting is a really good example. I’m sure you are aware that colored carpeting must be replaced with neutrals, but even the most neutral of carpets should be replaced if they are 20 years old.  After 20 years your carpets will have had more than a lifetime of use and the value that might have been there when you bought the home is long gone. In fact, the old carpets might even have a negative impact on price, even if there are not visible stains. The buyers will assume that they need to be replaced and will deduct their view of what that will cost from what they are willing to pay you for the home. Several of the “big box” stores have affordable neutral carpets in stock for quick delivery and installation, making this aspect of prepping a home for market reasonably straightforward.

You should also consider whether you have used up all of the realistic useful life that might have remained in your mechanicals. For example, if you haven’t replaced the water heater in 12 or more years, you have used up all of its value – it has outlived its expected useful life. It would probably be a good idea to replace it with a new water heater. The same can be said for furnaces – while their useful life is longer than a hot water heater, if its pushing past 20 years old, buyers are not going to look favorably on it. In fact, as you can imagine, this thought process can be applied to anything with a predictable useful life, such as kitchen appliances and roofs.

How much remodeling you will need to do after living in the home for 20 years will depend on how quickly you want to sell it and how aggressive you want to be on price, but the higher the price you hope to achieve, the more “pre-listing” remodeling you will need to do, returning old systems to a full life expectancy for the new owner.  Of course, if you are willing to discount the price upfront to allow for more than enough room for the needed updates, you can skip the remodeling and move straight toward listing your home!

515 Spanish Tract 

Simply spectacular renovation of this inviting home – nestled on 7+ private acres in close-in Sewickley Heights.  Expansive windows bring the stunning natural surroundings into every room. Open floorplan, with new kitchen, baths, flooring, windows, roof, generator… four outdoor venues to enjoy the beauty of the location from.  5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. Incredible pool. Turn-key ready for you! $1,750,000.  See more….

 

 

63 Thorn

Expertly remodeled, 63 Thorn paints a modern landscape on a charming traditional palate to create an exceptional home for the millennium home buyer. Sited on a large lot with fully fenced back yard. The expertly designed and crafted kitchen (which is open to the family room) is flooded with light from an entire wall of windows that bring the private backyard into this warm and inviting space.  The dining room has also been opened to the back yard through an impressive wall of windows and doors, and spills effortless out onto the new back deck.  The second level is home to a new master suite with large closet and spa-like private bath.  Four additional bedrooms, two full baths and a convenient second floor laundry room complete the upper levels.  $1,399,000  See more…

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I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Making the Right Choices When Remodeling

We are thinking of renovating our master bathroom – is that a good investment to make? If you are thinking of remodeling a portion of your home, it is important to first consider what is currently going on inside your home from a design perspective. It is not possible to overstate the importance of consistency in design when selling a home.  Buyers uniformly respond favorably when a home flows in a consistent “theme” through the home.  What does this really mean? In an ideal world, your color palate would move smoothly from room to room.  Every room does not have to be the same color, but the colors should harmonize.  In other words, you should not be using both the 1980s burgundy & green palate along with today’s grays and browns in the same home.  As soon as you begin to move a newer color palate in, the old one must disappear completely. Smaller details must also blend seamlessly.  If you like the nickel and chrome (silver based) colors, use them throughout for cabinet knobs, lighting and bathroom/kitchen fixtures.  Do not choose nickel for one bath and brass for the next. Buyers will subconsciously feel the home needs work as they will sense the lack of consistency.  The same is true for the bathrooms themselves.  If you decide to renovate your master bath, that does not mean you need to renovate every bath, but you would be well-advised to plan your master bath so it also harmonizes with what is already in your home.  If the “hardscapes” in your baths (counters, floors) are in the beige family, it would be a bad idea to do your master in white carerra marble, no matter how “in” that might be, unless you are prepared to update all baths.  Choose instead travertine, beige granite or a beige based marble that will blend more smoothly with your existing baths.  The impact to a buyer of “wonderful new master bath” will have the added benefit of helping to harmonize the entire home and will make the entire home feel more updated.  So yes, renovating bathrooms are an excellent investment, as long as your investment harmonizes with the rest of your home and does not make everything else look dated.  If that happens, you may be walking down a slippery slope where you need to take on more than just the master bath in order to recoup your investment!

49 Woodland Road –   New Listing! Boasting newer kitchen and baths in a sought after Village neighborhood, 49 Woodland offers a unique opportunity for newer construction in the heart of Sewickley Village.  The main level master offers hard-to-find convenience – with 3-5 additional bedrooms upstairs. The beautifully remodeled white kitchen opens to family room and sunroom, with 3 walls of windows overlooking the private backyard.  The three car attached garage offers another hard-to-come buy amenity in the Village, as does the finished lower level! $1,625,000.    See more…   

 

 

 

213 Chestnut Road Beautifully remodeled Sewickley Village Victorian with high ceilings, open floorplan and fabulous original architectural detailing.  Wonderful newer master suite with stylish newer bath.  Four finished levels of living space including lower level gameroon. Flat backyard, two car detached garage.  A very easy walking distance to Village shops and restaurants. $825,000  See More…

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com

Avoiding the “Hot Buttons” of Inspections

What kinds of items would be viewed as “hot buttons” for home buyers on inspections?

If you are a home seller, there is an ever increasing list of items that you will be expected to address if any are discovered on your home inspection. Given that, if you are thinking about selling your home, it would be a good idea to determine if any of these conditions exist at your home and remedy them prior to listing your home. Items that sellers are generally expected to address these days include:

Radon: if your home exceeds 4.0pCi/l, you will be expected to remediate the radon, even if it was a low reading when you bought the home. Radon varies over time. The estimated cost for a system is approx.. $1000.

Mold: If there is mold anywhere at all, you will be expected to have it remediated. Basements and attics are the most obvious places mold hides out, but be sure to check showers and under sinks.

Electrical: If you have knob and tube wiring, you will likely be paying for it to be removed and replaced, unless you price your home with a rewire in mind and disclose its presence. If your home has any Pushmatic brand electrical panels, buyers will also expect those to be replaced.

Broken seals: if you have thermopane windows, doors or skylights in your home, buyers will expect you repair the broken thermo seals. This is evident because the windows have a cloudy look to them. There are a few companies in Pittsburgh that can do this reasonably affordably. If you disclose the broken seals and price accordingly, you might be able to avoid repair.

Septic/sewer: Sewer lines are the newest “must do” inspection. If a buyer finds roots in your sewer line, at a minimum you will be expected to clear the roots from the line, but if they are bad you will be expected to line or replace the line. This can be extremely costly so I highly advise that you camera your own lines in advance of selling and get them in good shape.

You can be certain that if any of these conditions exist in your home, you will be expected to remedy the condition unless you disclose its presence and price accordingly.

179 Sweetwater Drive
Looking for new construction in Sewickley? Here’s your chance! Beautiful 7 year old colonial with three car garage! Hardwood floors unify the main level. Amazing open floorplan is ideal for family living or entertaining. Kitchen features timeless white cabinetry topped with granite, stainless appliances. Large center island easily seats 4-6. Main level laundry/mudroom conveniently connects to the attached garage. Master suite with large walk-in closet and en-suite bath. 3 additional bedrooms. Unfinished lower level with rough-in for full bath is ready for your custom finishes. $529,000.  See More…

 

 

439 Maple Lane – NEW PRICE
The life of every party, the spectacular outdoor playground with new pool, hot tub and backyard bar will be the highlight of your summers and the favorite hang-out of family and friends. Lush mature landscaping surrounds the half-acre yard and creates an outdoor oasis within walking distance from all of the amenities! This masterful renovation successfully merges notable architectural details w/today’s lifestyle throughout. Gracious entry foyer and formal rooms boast 9′ ceilings w/crown moldings, beautiful mantels and woodwork. The fully equipped gourmet kitchen features large island, granite countertops and stainless steel professional grade appliances. Main level mudroom. 7 bedrooms and 4.5 remodeled baths. Three car detached garage. $1,249,000  See More…

QUICK SEARCH

I’m ready to answer any questions you have regarding your real estate needs.
 
 
Kathe Barge, CRS, ABR, CNE, SRES
Associate Broker
HOWARD HANNA
REAL ESTATE SERVICES
401 Broad Street
Sewickley, PA 15143
Cell: 412-779-6060
Office: 412-741-2200 x238
kbarge@howardhanna.com