Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How to House-Flip a Yard to Up the Value of a Property

A house or yard flipper is an investor who purchases particular properties and creates new ways to make them more attractive and of higher quality for the purpose of selling quickly at a higher price. The goal, of course, is to make a profit over and above the purchase price and all costs involved in the renovations.

Real estate flipping begins with buying a property at a discounted price because the owner doesn't have the money to make necessary repairs—or they may prefer to sell immediately for a variety of reasons, such as having to relocate, going through a divorce or facing a foreclosure. Help raise a home's resale value with these tips:

Add a Garden

A beautiful garden, whether it's filled with flowers, vegetables or fruit, is a wonderful enhancement. Many homeowners love to sit and watch over a garden's colorful beauty before picking a few ingredients for the day's meals or to decorate the home.

Replace the Lawn

If you can't clean up the yard and make it look good with some landscaping additions, you may have to actually replace it. It's important to give the yard curb appeal and make it attractive to potential buyers at first sight—but, be sure to not "over-improve." It doesn't make sense to invest a lot of money in a moderately-priced property that will unnecessarily eat into expected profit.

Replace the Patio

Concrete pumping by a reputable company with a lot of experience is ideal for homeowners who want to install or replace a patio safely. A patio is an excellent addition that would be appreciated by prospective buyers, as they picture themselves enjoying such a feature on a regular basis.

Get a New Shed

Often, there just isn't enough storage space in the house and garage. That's when a shed comes in handy, especially for bulky items, garden equipment, ladders, bicycles, boxes of items not wanted in the house, and more. Too much clutter in the yard can lower property values due to aesthetic alone. Hiring a waste removal company, however, can be well worth the investment—and also get the work done for you.
Do not make one of the biggest mistakes that some flippers in a hurry do: buying a house sight unseen. Pictures of the property are no guarantee, as they could be old and not show crucial details. You would have no idea what the truth is about the structure and contents, what the neighborhood is like and if it's up-and-coming, whether houses are selling quickly, what the real estate market is like, etc.

The sales price needs to be below the median property value so that you have better assurance that you'll make a profit when you resell. Prospective buyers need to find it affordable, be impressed with the improvements and additions that you have made, and be encouraged to make an offer.
Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market. 
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660
 Email Bob at 
Visit Bob's Website:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Top 5 Landscaping Tips to Increase Property Value

Landscaping is one of the most important ways to increase your property’s value quickly. In fact, a gorgeous landscape design can increase the value of your home by at least 5 to 11 percent—and maybe more. The best part about landscaping is that even though it’s one of the most valuable home improvements you can make, it’s also one of the easiest. If you’re wondering how to turn your landscape into one of your home’s most valuable assets, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Match Landscape to Your Home’s Style
The best way to get an excellent return on investment with landscaping is to make sure it fits with your home’s style. For instance, if you own a Victorian home, a Japanese garden will be sorely out of place and may even lower your home’s value rather than add to it. In this instance, you’re much better off with a country or cottage-style landscape that blends in with the old-fashioned formality of your home.
The same holds true for more modern home styles, such as the prairie or industrial style. If your home falls into one of these categories, you’ll want to stay away from square, formal gardens or a profusion of airy blooms. Instead, create a more modern landscape by relying on plenty of greenery and natural-looking beds that fit the contours of your property.
2. Design With a Strategy in Mind
You’ll need to have a good strategy. That means you shouldn’t clutter the entire yard with various high-maintenance plantings, but you also shouldn’t have plain grass with no landscaping. A study by the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture found that a good foundation planting along with a couple of well-designed points of interest can increase your home’s value by up to 42 percent.
By that same token, you should encourage diversity among your plantings without taking it too far. The ideal landscape has a good mixture of shrubs and perennials, but it doesn’t have one of every kind of plant that you can find at the garden center. Instead, it has a uniform look with just enough diversity to make it interesting, but not so little that it becomes boring.
3. Achieve Seasonal Balance
A profusion of spring blooms won’t interest potential buyers who look at your home during other parts of the year. Think about ways to make your landscape attractive all year — blooming bulbs for spring, annual beds around the house during the summer, shrubs with brightly colored leaves in the fall, and evergreens for the winter. Even though most buyers will be looking at your home during one season, they’ll notice the balance you’ve created and they’ll think about how beautiful the home will be as the seasons change.
Related Link: 7 Exterior Home Improvements That Increase Resale Value
4. Plant Trees
A few simple trees can make an enormous difference to the sale price of your home. In one study, simply living on a tree-lined street added between 10 to 15 percent to the sale price compared to neighborhoods with fewer trees. So why are trees worth so much? Trees remove carbon dioxide and pollution from the air, so people view them as an eco-friendly option. The shade helps keep neighborhoods and homes cooler and more pleasant, which in turn cuts air conditioning costs. Trees are also a stress reliever — people enjoy relaxing in their shade or gazing at the leafy view.
5. Edge Your Lawn
Few things look nicer than a healthy, vibrant, carefully maintained lawn — except for a lawn that is all of those things and neatly edged. The confined look of an edged lawn gives it an easy-to-maintain look. In other words, no weed whipping or weeding required.
Edging along driveways, sidewalks and garden beds also shows prospective buyers how meticulous you have been concerning the property’s upkeep. They’ll know that if you’re willing to keep the edges of your yard looking nice, the rest of the property is likely in pristine condition, too.
Of all improvements to boost home value, landscape is one that will get you the largest return on your investment.  Just make sure that you design your landscape with a plan, and don’t let that design become so complex that the mere thought of all the maintenance chases away your buyers.
Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market.
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660 
Email Bob at 
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Monday, March 23, 2020

Top 10 Most Expensive Mistakes You’re Making on Your Home

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.
1. Using Traditional Light bulbs
If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home's bottom line.
2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size
We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won't regret it.
4. Not Customizing Temperature
Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you're away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you're gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.
5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly
Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.
6. Over Watering Lawn
Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you're never around to see what you're actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you're not around.
7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High
Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don't keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.
8. Leaky Windows and Doors
Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.
9. Paying a Handyman
Don't pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you're unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.
10. Ignoring Curled Shingles
It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.
Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.
Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market. 
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660 
Email Bob at 
Visit Bob's Website:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

3 Renovations That Can Help You Sell Your Home Faster

If you've decided to place your home on the market, you likely want it to sell as quickly as possible. Partially, this is for your own convenience. More importantly, though, the longer that a house sits on the market, the lower its final price tends to be. Therefore, before you list your home, you need to be sure it's ready to attract as much attention as possible.

One great way to do this is by making strategic renovations to various areas around your home. You want to be sure you're making the most of your remodeling budget to ensure it results in the biggest payoff. To help you come out ahead, here are three renovations that can help you sell your home faster:


A dated kitchen is one of the biggest turnoffs for potential homebuyers. A kitchen that's been renovated using quality materials often draws people in and causes them to overlook other potential flaws. Therefore, a kitchen renovation can be a great investment to make before you sell your home.
Quality finishes in the kitchen are crucial, as many buyers at all price points are looking for granite countertops (or something similar) and tile backsplashes. The cabinets should also be of decent quality and a neutral color that appeals to a wide range of people.


Since a roof is rarely seen except when you're coming and going, it might not seem like the best place to spend your renovation dollars; however, if you can state on your home's listing that the roof was recently replaced, you may gain more interest, potentially helping you to sell your home more quickly.
Be sure that the roofers you choose do a good job of sealing the roof cap and any protrusions, as you certainly don't want the next homeowners to be left with a leaky roof. Also, make sure that the color of the shingles matches the character of the home so buyers aren't turned off the moment they approach your house.


Moving back inside, a bathroom renovation is a great way to maximize the effectiveness of your remodeling budget. After all, no one wants to feel like they're living in someone else's grime.
A bathroom is one area where you can have a little fun with the renovation, adding unique features such as a tile tub surround or a designer light fixture that'll help your home stand out from others in your area. Again, quality installation is important here, as you don't want to put the future homeowners at risk of a major water leak.
Renovations can go a long way toward helping your home sell more quickly. Remember, it's important that you are disciplined in how you spend money on remodeling to be absolutely sure that you don't end up spending more than you get out of your home when you sell it.Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market.
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660
 Email Bob at 
Visit Bob's Website:

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Tips for Buying During a Busy Spring Market

Spring weather is right around the corner, and the markets are already heating up. For buyers, that could mean an increase in competition, more multiple-offer scenarios, less wiggle room in negotiations and a spike in home prices. With the help of a REALTOR®, however, today's buyers can get the most out of a transaction, regardless of how competitive the market gets.

What should today's consumers do to prepare for buying a home?
The first step that REALTORS® always suggest, especially in a seller's market, is to get your financing in order. This means establishing a relationship with a lender, and then addressing any credit issues and getting not just pre-qualified, but actually pre-approved for a mortgage.
In terms of the offer, what advice can you provide to buyers?
Be sure to discuss with your REALTOR® (in advance) which contingencies you are willing and able to either eliminate or negotiate altogether. Having those points in hand will help your REALTOR® craft the most appealing offer possible in the quickest time frame possible.
What about during inspection negotiations?
Willingness to compromise on inspection findings depends entirely on the buyer's financial situation and specifics in the contract. Do you want to buy the house regardless of whether it needs a new roof and the seller is unwilling to negotiate, or do you want to be able to walk away from even the smallest findings? It's important to rely on your REALTOR® to carefully word your contract so that your interests are protected and your intents are clear.
Any other tips for buyers purchasing in the spring market?
Once you submit that initial offer, your REALTOR®'s job is just beginning. We recommend that you stay very accessible to your REALTOR®. Now's not the time to go on vacation, because you may be required to make complicated decisions very quickly. Even once the offer is accepted, there are still plenty of issues that arise during the inspection and title clearing period, in finalizing your mortgage and when getting closing documents in order.
Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market. 
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660 
Email Bob at 
Visit Bob's Website:

Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus: How Brokers Are Responding and Adapting

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all industries, including real estate, pushing brokerages to adapt new methods of communication and transaction processes, and create contingency plans and precautionary steps to keep everyone healthy.
Brokers and agents are having to react quickly. Like everyone, Rett Harmon, principal and REALTOR® with CENTURY 21 Novus Rettro Group in Georgia, is figuring it out day by day.
“Nobody knows what to do,” says Harmon. “We are all trying to protect everyone we work with and their families. There is no exact procedure for handling something like this. I think everyone is erring on the side of caution.”
What’s changed since the emergence of the virus? On the surface, the markets remain active. Interest rates are at historic lows and several brokers and agents have been managing multiple offers in the last week.
“Overall, demand remains strong across our footprint,” says Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate in the Pacific Northwest. “So far, we have seen a continuation of the robust spring market with low inventory and, as a result, have seen little effect on how quickly a home sells, which does put pressure on buyers to see homes and make offers on homes that pique their interest.”
There is one, segment, however that has been noticeably impacted: sellers. With each passing day, the environment shifts a little more.
Ali Berry, broker/owner of Quest Realty in Michigan, says that he’s started to see a good amount of people who want to wait to list. Their primary concern? Having strangers walk through their home and unknowingly spread the virus.
“I think we will have a lot of people that are reluctant to list their home until things really blow over, which will further increase the lack of supply, creating an even hotter seller’s market for those that do list now,” says Berry.
Harmon agrees that COVID-19 is impacting sellers the most, slowing down showings and open houses, as well as other in-person meetings.
“Their kids are also home,” says Harmon, “and sellers are paranoid about the germs. It’s the same with listing appointments.”
As with anything, however, there’s a spectrum, says LP Finn, operating officer of Coach Realtors®, which spans from Queens to Suffolk County, N.Y.
“The impact is noticeable on many fronts, and I think we’re seeing that with our sellers. Homeowners on one end of the spectrum are very concerned, while the other end is saying, ‘Bring on the buyers,'” says Finn. “We also have the same kind of spectrum with our agents.”
The buzz phrase right now is “social distancing.” What does that mean for an industry that thrives from in-person interactions?
Social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” so that the healthcare system can manage the number of people who are sick at one time, according to health experts.
“Social distancing is becoming our new norm,” says Matt Dolan, broker of Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Massachusetts. “We are taking extra precautions to stay healthy and developing specific protocols for our line of work.”
Even office-level interactions, however, have been sparse as a precaution.
“We have asked our agents to work remotely as often as possible, scheduled our team meetings to be hosted via video conference and we have also asked our brokerage, escrow and lenders to utilize DocuSign when acceptable,” says Gil Torres, broker/owner of Exclusive Realty & Mortgage, based in West Sacramento, Calif.
Most brokerages have recommended that their agents work remotely, if possible.
“With any situation in real estate, it’s important to plan for all potential outcomes, yet have the flexibility needed to be nimble as things change,” says Scott. “We’ve been working closely across departments and keeping in touch with our office leadership and brokers to understand the current situation and anticipate future needs. Above all, we are ensuring our plans and recommendations are in alignment with current Department of Health guidelines and our brokers’ needs.”
How are brokers shifting their business model during this time?
Finn says it’s simply about modifying the business.
“We are working on a three-part plan: people, production, prudence,” says Finn. “With step one, we’re really trying to show care and concern for people when working with them. We ask ourselves, ‘How can we accommodate their feelings?’ because we have a responsibility to them.”
In terms of production, Finn is proactively increasing engagement between upper management and the leadership team, and between the leadership team and agents, to create an open flow of dialogue.
“Prudence—this is more internal, but we have to make prudent business decisions that will allow us to weather storms and protect our company—all while not reducing service or our fiduciary responsibility to our sellers for as long as we can,” says Finn.
Dolan is taking a similar approach, focusing on three things as well: safety, technology and experience.
“Safety comes first. We are taking precautionary measures to protect our clients and other industry professionals,” says Dolan.
Then, as health guidelines necessitate less in-person contact, staying connected via technology and social media is more critical than ever. Agents are relying more heavily on automated programs that help them manage the increased need to engage with clients and prospects virtually. RISMedia’s ACESocial program, for example, has seen an increase in demand as real estate professionals seek to increase their role as a trusted advisor and information source in this uncertain time.
“Technology is coming to the forefront,” says Dolan. “We are using technology and providing creative solutions to bring new options to buyers and sellers. And experience—in difficult times, we lean on our learned knowledge and apply it to these new challenges.”
Daniel de la Vega, president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in South Florida, agrees that brokerages should keep supporting agents and clients as much as they can—and for this, technology is the answer.
“We have the technology, tools and culture to ensure we don’t miss a beat,” says de la Vega. “We are leveraging technology, including our in-house digital texting assistant, OTTO, so agents can easily text with any questions that might arise.”
What does this mean for showings and open houses?
Brokerages across the U.S. are taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus during open houses and showings, whether by holding virtual open houses, scheduling appointments, disinfecting before and after or canceling them altogether.
Dolan says he is being extra vigilant about wiping down surfaces, doorknobs, cabinet pulls, etc., and asking prospective buyers to remove their shoes upon entering a property.
“When driving clients in our cars, we are extra mindful of cleaning off seats and disinfecting surfaces,” says Dolan, adding that, ideally, clients are driving their own cars.
Melinda Estridge, owner of the Estridge Group at Long & Foster Real Estate in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, has been bringing Clorox wipes to her open houses, also wiping down counters and doorknobs before and after the open houses.
“I think there may be more of an issue in the coming weeks,” says Estridge, “but if a buyer views a house with an agent and they use plastic gloves to open doors, etc., then there should be no threat to a buyer being exposed.”
“This past weekend we had open houses via appointment in 20-minute windows,” says Finn. “People could come see the house, but they had to make an appointment online or through the office.”
Harmon is also taking greater advantage of social media, reporting that some agents have been doing live Facebook videos of a property instead of holding public open houses. So far, they’ve had a good response.
Scott says his brokerage has added a new addendum to listing agreements that addresses open house and showing concerns.
“Should a seller choose to move forward with an open house, they can select a public open house or private showings,” says Scott. “For the former, this open house would be a metered open house, only allowing small groups to enter the home at one time.”
Scott says these measures will help ensure that only serious buyers are allowed into a home and that the homeowners and agent are more protected.
Many areas have opted to cancel all open houses out of an abundance of caution. Westside Estate Agency sent a message to all agents, for example, briefing them on a new policy to discontinue open houses for the time being. In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, Sotheby’s International Realty asked its agents to cancel all open houses following a health directive that prohibits any gatherings that bring together 10 or more individuals at the same time, in a single confined space, according to an email sent to RISMedia.
Virtual options are becoming more commonplace.
Mariana Pappalardo, team leader of the Mariana Pappalardo Group at Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, based in San Carlos, Calif., is leaning on a virtual tour app called Yaza.
“I’m trying not to feed into the fear,” says Pappalardo. “We just get as many tours on Yaza so our customers can start touring the properties right away. I recommend that agents collect content and share it with everyone who isn’t able to go to an open house or showing.”
Peter Sisson, CEO and co-founder of Yaza, says he saw a sudden change this past weekend, particularly in reference to Sotheby’s International Realty’s decision to cancel open houses.
“Lots of agents are wondering how they will be able to stay on the job and earn a living without putting themselves, friends and family at risk,” says Sisson. “With Yaza, the agent records narrated showings once and then the homebuyers tour houses in the app from the safety of their homes. This way, they only need to visit properties if they know they want to make an offer.”
Other companies, such as Propy, a virtual closing software platform, and Ideal Properties Group, a NYC brokerage, have been providing online services that can help agents continue working with buyers and sellers without causing too much disruption, all while ensuring they stay healthy.
“Showings on Demand is Ideal Properties Group’s way of addressing the current need of our associates, customers and clients,” says Aleksandra Scepanovic, managing director of Ideal Properties Group. “We are acutely aware of everyone’s need to minimize social exposure and congregation. By scheduling, organizing and hosting showings and open houses one-on-zero (agents will be broadcasting from a home to a virtual audience), agents continue to have an ability to service their clients.”
Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy, says she’s observed a noticeable impact to the industry and a trend toward online collaborative workflow or virtual closings.
“Propy’s collaborative closing platform allows buyers, agents, brokers, title companies and lenders to close entirely paperless and contactless, and securely,” says Karayaneva. “We have seen a spike of $100 million in transaction volume from Asian homebuyers investing in U.S. properties, as well as a spike of inbound requests from brokerages to use our transaction platform in addition to or in replacement of SkySlope and dotloop.”
Title and notary services have been speedbumps in many brokers’ transactions during these last few weeks, and many are turning to virtual solutions. Jeff Hall, division president of Florida Title & Guaranteed Agency recently emailed Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty agents, notifying them that all associates have the capability to work remote, and that the company will be providing remote notary services for those who need it, although it is subject to lender approval.
The rental segment is also experiencing changes.
Similar to residential sales, the rental industry is focusing on virtual transactions and showings.
Lindsay Dillon, vice president of Partnerships & Marketing at RoOomy, a virtual staging and 3D modeling company, says that with virtual tools, today’s renters can experience a property’s key features from afar and “shop for their future space before stepping foot on the property.”
Lou Baugier, CEO and co-founder of Vero Leasing, agrees, stating that not everything can be put on hold during this pandemic.
“There are still expiring leases and renters looking to move for a variety of reasons,” says Baugier. “That said, brokers and landlords are forced to think differently about how they connect with prospective tenants and the tools used to convert them from leads to renters.”
A program like Vero Leasing, says Baugier, can take just 30 minutes or less to apply for, sign a lease and secure an apartment, which is a shorter time frame compared to the five- to eight-day industry standard.
In terms of property management, Harmon says everything has moved online as they are closed to the public.
“Tenants who are paying rent can pay online or can use our rent drop box,” he says.
Despite the concerns and fear of the unknown, spirits remain high. Brokers shared the following thoughts:
“Be smart, use common sense and use this time to brush up on skills,” says Harmon. “Stay in touch with the people you know digitally or by phone to see how they are doing. Don’t panic.”
“There’s a lot of noise out there, so we are trying to cut through all that to provide focus and prevent inaction,” says Finn.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure that our clients do not experience a change in the level of service that we provide, while doing our part to reduce the spread of the virus,” says Dolan.
“The health of our clients, sales associates, managers, staff and community is our top priority,” says Mayi de la Vega, founder and CEO of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in South Florida.
“We hope the steps we take now will help meet the strong demand we are still seeing,” says Scott. ” We send our prayers and love to those who have been affected by the coronavirus in our local communities and around the world.”
“We will continue to monitor the updates concerning our industry, state and local communities,” said Carrie Zeier, owner and CEO of RE/MAX Elite, based in Palm Harbor, Fla., in a statement to her agents. “This is not a time to panic, but a time to come together, stay informed and practice safe precautions in order to avoid business disruptions.”

Bob Abner is a highly respected, top producing, full time, Realtor for over 30 years and is an expert in the Northern Kentucky real estate market. 
 Give Bob a call at 859-760-1660 
Email Bob at 
Visit Bob's Website: