Friday, June 28, 2013

How To: Enlarge a Small Space

Small spaces can often feel like a big problem, but the truth is that they don't have to be.  In fact, a well-designed small space can become a highlight of a home.  For example, a smaller kitchen can make prepping a meal easier because everything is right at your fingertips.  A smaller living room may be better than a large one because you only need to arrange one seating area instead of two.  You see, small spaces aren't necessarily an obstacle at all as long as you approach them correctly.

Photo Credit: Home & Garden
So this is where the fun starts... and where things start to get a bit counter-intuitive. 

Start with the bare basics: wall color. It can do a lot to make a room seem more expansive. Contrary to what you may think, dark colors are not necessarily a bad thing.  A darker paint color can create the illusion of shadows which causes our eye to perceive the space as larger.  Just don't choose a color that will terrify buyers.  Once you've chosen a paint color- whether white, dark grey, or something in between- stick with it.  One consistent color throughout a room keeps the eye from focusing on where one wall ends and the next starts, so the space naturally seems larger.  A small room is not the place for an accent wall.

Next, pick the furniture.  If you can match your furniture to your wall color, do it!  This will make it seem to melt into the walls leaving the room feeling airy.  Note: if you choose to paint your walls neon yellow, do not use this blog as an excuse to buy a giant yellow sofa- we can't condone that.  The size of furniture is just as important as color.  In a tiny bedroom, having a big four-post bed can actually make the space seem larger; but night stands and other furniture need to be simple.  Opting for fewer pieces that are larger in size will actually make the room feel less crowded. Consider swapping the two love-seats for one full size sofa.

Finally, make your small space feel a bit more roomy by adding simple decor.  Mirrors are a great option! Don't be afraid to use a few of them- they reflect light and add depth to a room.  Window coverings should be light material that wont feel bulky or take up too much visual space.  You may want to steer clear of area-rugs all together as they do not help to enlarge a room.  Trinkets are other items that only serve to make a space seem more cramped so keep them tucked away.  And last but not least, wall art always makes a space feel homey- but in a small room you want to keep it minimal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Debt Relief = Income

Mortgage Relief.pngMany times a homeowner might feel relieved being out from under the obligation of a mortgage they can’t afford even though the property was lost due to foreclosure or short sale. If a lender cancels or forgives debt, a taxpayer must include the cancelled amount in their income for tax purposes depending on the circumstances. The tax significance could be serious.

Congress enacted the Mortgage Relief Act specifically to help homeowners who might be affected in the housing crisis that started approximately in 2007. The Act expired on 12/31/12 but was temporarily extended by Congress until December 31, 2013.

This relief only applies to a taxpayers’ principal residence which does not include second homes and investment property. The maximum amount is limited to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness or $1 million if filing separately.

Another provision is that the debt relief is limited to acquisition indebtedness used to buy, build or improve the property. It excludes cash equity loans whether made separately or in a refinance of the original mortgage.

Due to the serious consequences involved in short sales and foreclosures, it is advised that homeowners faced with this possibility should seek expert advice from their legal and tax professionals.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Park Place Perks: REALTOR© Tour

In our area, Real Estate professions "tour" on Wednesdays.  Essentially, tour is an open house strictly for REALTORS.  Not all Real Estate offices participate in REALTOR Tours, and not all REALTORS ask their clients to put their home on tour, but at Park Place Homes we make a point to participate every week.  As a Park Place Homes client or future client, you may ask "what's the benefit to me?"

It makes Park Place Homes REALTORS better agents.
Park Place REALTORS participate in tour because it is a great way to stay informed about the houses available in our market.  Some REALTORS think that simply perusing photos of listings via the MLS system they can learn all they need to about available homes; but we realize that layout and the overall feel of a home don't always translate into photograph.  By actually walking through a home our agents are better able to determine if that listing is a good match for one of their buyers.  Familiarity with local inventory helps them to take you through homes that are a better fit with your list of needs and desires.
Walking through homes on tour also helps our agents to price their listings correctly.  The more they know about local inventory, the better they are able to plan a successful pricing and marketing strategy for your home.

As a seller, it gives your house a strong first step into the market.
Putting your home on tour is a great way gain exposure and generate conversation among local Real Estate Agents.  It is a simple way to get REALTORS into your house so that they can make a mental note of it- perhaps it would be the perfect match for one of their buyers!
REALTOR tour is a chance for you to get feedback from the rest of the Park Place team on any ways you can help your home sell more quickly.  Perhaps they have ideas about how to better stage your home, or attributes that should be highlighted in the listing.  Remember, when you chose Park Place Homes you're getting the expertise of the entire office.
Finally, tour gives Park Place REALTORS a chance to familiarize themselves with all of our office's listings.  We make a point to visit every one of the homes listed by fellow Park Place REALTORS.  This means that even if your REALTOR is unavailable, any one of our agents is capable of speaking to someone looking for information about your house.  Having been through your home and talked with your agent about it, we make sure that an opportunity to sell your home is never missed.

If you'd like to learn more about the Perks of choosing Park Place Homes, visit our website or give the office a call at 989-698-1100!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Get Your Offer Accepted

Serious Buyer2.pngInventory is dramatically shrinking and it is commonplace in many markets to have multiple offers on a home. While the sellers would prefer to be able to choose the best offer for them, it can be incredibly frustrating for the buyers who might consider the following tips to get their offer accepted.
1. Remove the uncertainty that you may not be approved for a mortgage by having a pre-approval letter from your mortgage company.
2. Show your sincerity by increasing the normal amount of earnest money customary for the area and price of the home. The earnest money will be applied toward your down payment and closing costs. Consider placing even more money in escrow when the contingencies have been met.
3. Specify a closing date in the contract but acknowledge that you can be flexible to accommodate the sellers moving date. If it becomes an issue, it still must be mutually agreed upon.
4. Make the contingency periods shorter if possible to make the seller feel that they’ll know sooner that the offer is solid.
5. If the contingency really isn’t important to you, leave it out of the offer. The more contingencies included in a contract, the more the seller will feel might happen to keep it from actually closing.
6. Write a personal note to the seller explaining why you like and want their home. Consider including a picture of your family and pets.
7. Physically sign the offer with a felt tip pen of contrasting color. You’d be surprised how this adds a personal touch to the offer.
Offer a fair price for the property in your initial purchase agreement. It shows sincerity and good faith that you’re actually trying to purchase the home and not trying to take advantage of the seller. The old adage that you can always go up later may never happen if there are multiple offers on the property in the beginning.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spotlight Listing: 1402 Sylvan Ln.

This beautiful and spacious 2,630 square foot 4 Bedroom home is sanctuary in the heart of the city.  All the amenities your family needs are within it's walls and it is walking distance from Siebert Elementary and Jefferson Middle School. Let us take you on a tour of this tranquil retreat.

You will recognize immediately upon entering that this home has just as much quality as beauty.  Turning to the right off the entryway, you enter the formal living area- a bright and spacious room full of possibilities.  Custom draperies adorn the large bay windows at either end of the room and crown molding sets the formal space apart from the rest of the home.

On the other side of the entryway is the formal dining room, which connects to the kitchen.  A pocket door closes the kitchen work areas off from your dinner party! Another bay window with custom draperies adds elegance to this wonderful room. You can see in this photo how the entry way, formal living area, and dining area all connect to make entertaining a breeze. 

Now for the kitchen- a space that deserves a blog post all its own.  With skylights and a wall of windows, numerous cabinets and abundant counter space this kitchen is a cook's dream.  Great updates including new counters, new hardware, sink and faucet, and great appliances.  The center island houses the stove, oven, and Jenn Air grill and offers a generous work space or eating area.  The stove/oven is dual fuel: gas stove and electric oven. With enough space for a dining table, you can enjoy any meal while enjoying the beautiful backyard landscape.  In fact, the expansive view of the stunning backyard may become your favorite part of this extraordinary kitchen. Sure to be the family gathering spot, the kitchen opens nicely to the family room.


Measuring 23' x 14', the family room has plenty of space for a large sectional or any of your furniture. It's wood floors and wood burning fireplace with built in cabinetry add warmth and charm to this space.  Expansive Pella french doors lead you to the patio area and gorgeous back yard.  Yet another bright an inviting room in this sanctuary.

Moving upstairs, a landing opens to the bedrooms and the family bathroom.  The generous master bedroom is sure to be an escape from a busy day.  A full 20' x 14' feet of space leaves plenty of room for a king sized bed and a cozy sitting area.  The master bath has a tiled shower and floor which was updated in 2007 along with the entrance to the walk in closet.  The other three bedrooms are painted in beautiful neutral colors and have generously sized closets.  The fourth bedroom is being used as an office.  Updated lighting and tile floors were completed just a few years ago in the family bathroom.  Beautiful tile surrounds the tub area.

The new windows and doors are a huge benefit; but the private, beautifully landscaped back yard is perhaps the most beautiful retreat that comes with this sanctuary of a home.  The brick patio area off of the family room has hosted many parties and is large enough for a full table and your favorite lounger.  This deep back yard provides space for private sitting and garden areas.  It isn't often you find such a private oasis within walking distance to schools and all the conveniences of town. Call our office today, 698-1100, for your own private tour of this beautiful retreat!  

Jill Vander Zouwen is the listing agent for 1402 Sylvan Lane and would love to take you through this home.  You can also click here to take a virtual tour of the home. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Renters Want to Buy

FNMA NHS.pngFannie Mae, in a recently released study, states that consumer attitudes continue to be favorable about homeownership, particularly with the younger generations, ages 18 to 34. Slightly over half of them think that owning makes more sense than renting when comparing the financial and lifestyle benefits.

90% of aspiring owners expect to purchase a home someday and slightly over half think they’ll do it within five years. The primary challenges are having sufficient savings and the difficulty of getting a mortgage today. Younger renters see renting as a temporary stepping stone toward homeownership.

Homeowners are far more likely than renters to be “very positive” about their housing experience. Some of the benefits identified are:

• Having control over what you do with your living space
• Having a sense of privacy and security
• Having a good place for your family or to raise your children
• Having the best investment plan
• Living in a nicer home
• Building up wealth
• Saving for retirement
• Living in a place where you and your family feel safe
• Feeling engaged in your community

To satisfy a buyer’s doubts about qualifying for a mortgage, make an appointment with a trusted mortgage professional. If you’d like a recommendation at no cost or obligation, please contact me at  Check out this Rent vs. Own to see the real cost of owning a home.

For more information about the Fannie Mae survey in presentation form, Click Here.


Friday, June 7, 2013

The Scent of Cookies Just Wont Cut It.

Strange odors automatically raise questions of how well a home has been maintained, not to mention that they're just unpleasant.  Don't attempt to simply cover smells with air fresheners or cookies popped in the oven a few minutes before a showing.

Removing odors from your home can be an inexpensive, simple, and effective way to make sure buyers are able to focus on your home's better qualities.  The last thing you want is for a potential buyer to leave your house saying "it smelled like dog in there... and I don't think they even have a dog".

Do your best to locate the source of unpleasant smells and, if possible, remove it.  Next, give your home a thorough cleaning, and choose an odor-removing option that fits your needs.
Here's a short list:

Baking soda:
  -Sprinkle it on carpets, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.
  -Pour some down your sink drain and let it sit in the garbage disposal for 10-15 minutes before running the disposal with plenty of water.
  -Leave a small container of baking soda in your fridge, the cabinet under your sink, and wherever the garbage is kept.
  -Wipe down hard surfaces with a rag moistened in a warm water and baking soda solution.

White Vinegar:
  -Microwave a bowl of 50/50 vinegar, water for several minutes then wipe down the microwave walls with a damp cloth.
  -Place a glass bowl of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher, or empty a large cup of vinegar into an empty dishwasher and run through an entire cycle.
  -Moisten a cloth with vinegar to remove grime from stove tops, exhaust fan grids, and the top of the refrigerator.
  -Pour three cups of vinegar into the toilet and let sit for an hour.
  -Simply set out a bowl of vinegar overnight if you're unsure of where an odor is originating.

Other simple solutions:
  -Use fresh coffee beans or grounds in a cloth bag to remove the stale smell from closets.
  -Change the filter in your furnace.
  -Place activated charcoal packets in your air ducts.
  -Vacuum upholstered furniture, or if the material removable, wash it - make sure you follow instructions including dry cleaning if necessary.
  -If you have a smoker in the house, wipe down your light bulbs.  Cigarette smoke can leave a residue on bulbs that smells when heated.
  -If your home odor issues are severe or these basic steps haven't worked, consider renting an ozone generator.  This will require you to vacate the space temporarily but is very effective.

If you think you may need some professional help, check out the Park Place Homes website for local companies we recommend.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What's It Worth?

Question button.pngHow much is a one carat diamond worth? Anyone who has shopped for one knows that the price could have a significantly wide range of value. It's been said that purchasers  should consider the color, cut, clarity and carat size to compare stones but when it gets down to decision time, buyers still want to know “how much is it worth?”

Real estate valuation can be equally as confusing to the public. There are three commonly used tools that today’s home buyers rely on to make decisions but they vary significantly in the methods used to make the determination as well as the possible final consideration.

Appraisals are an opinion or estimate of value based on specific guidelines made by individuals who are licensed and possibly certified. Buyers and sellers may be reluctant to engage an appraiser because there is a fee of several hundred dollars that must be paid in advance even if no sale is ever consummated.

A Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) as defined by the National Association of REALTORS® is an “estimate of the probable selling price of a property.” The Dodd-Frank Act describes a BPO as “an estimate…that details the probably selling price of a particular piece of real estate property and provides a varying level of detail about the property’s condition, market, and neighborhood, and information on comparable sales, but does not include an automated valuation model.”

A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is a commonly used tool of salespeople to provide information to buyers and sellers to facilitate a sale. In most cases, it would be difficult to distinguish a CMA from a BPO because the steps considered are essentially the same and practitioners commonly use the terms interchangeably.

Another method called Automated Value Model (AVM) use software to search available data on the Internet to arrive at an approximation of value. Zestimates found on the Zillow site use this method. AVM’s may not consider all the market activity such as MLS sales and active listings. They can’t make adjustments based on human experience and market knowledge.

For what it’s worth, a buyer or seller might want to acquire as much current and factual information as possible from a trusted real estate professional familiar with the market before making a decision on the largest single asset most people acquire.