Nebraska Realty Agents Offer Advice for Selling a Home Fast

 

So, you decided to sell your house? Before even thinking about pricing, the first thing to consider is curb appeal, followed by … a sharp-looking garage? Absolutely true, says Brian Carlin of Nebraska Realty, the second-largest Omaha brokerage with over 425 licensed agents.

Putting your home on the market is a bit like dressing up in your Sunday best. But don’t forget the garage. An organized and clean garage is the true measure of a well-kept home, and not just for the purpose of a sale,” said Brian, a 14-year Omaha-area home-sales veteran who holds a contractor’s license and the Realtor designation as a Certified Residential Specialist.

Fellow Nebraska Realty agent Dave Maloy chimed in: “I wouldn’t be quite as strict as Brian on the garage presentation. I’ve told clients to utilize their garage as a staging/storage area while their house is for sale. Buyers understand what people are facing and what it takes to sell a house, especially buyers selling houses themselves. But, to agree with Brian, that garage usage does need to be orderly.

Dave noted: “The most important task, though, which isn’t as common-sense as you would conclude, is to deeply clean the home before buyers walk through. A couple hundred bucks spent on professional cleaning will go further than thousands spent on staging. Neutralize offensive odors – don’t cover them up with ‘fresh-baked-cookie’ or body-spray air-freshener smells – by cleaning the home. If you aren’t good at cleaning, admit it – don’t skimp and save $200 on one of the most important financial transactions you will make.”

Brian couldn’t agree more with Dave on the cleaning and added: “The most often overlooked areas of a home during the big spring clean are ceiling fan blades and HVAC cold air return vents. Apparently, everybody forgets to look up while they clean. Cold air return vents sometimes located on walls near ceiling and ceiling fan blades collect a ton of dust during the winter months.” 

Nebraska Realty agent Molly Amick offered her tack: “I always advise sellers to depersonalize the setting so potential buyers can fall in love with the house instead of trying to figure out the residents’ story with pictures, medications and mail on the counters, children’s items and more. Those things can give pointed information about why people are moving or how motivated they are. I also tell people instead of decluttering, ‘get packing!’ Every horizontal service should be clean and free of accessories, pictures, knick-knacks and things you don’t use every day. In fact, everyday items should be put in drawers. Sellers will be so amazed how beautiful their home and listing photos look that they may decide not to move!

Nebraska Realty agent Deda Myhre added: “I always ask my sellers to clear out closets, under sinks or any storage areas and then organize them to make the spaces appear as big as possible. Fold and stack towels, and organize smaller items in inexpensive baskets for the biggest impact.”

Furthermore, the Nebraska Realty agents agreed: “Repairs, absolutely yes (never leave a repair project unfinished). Improvements, not so much,” pointing out sellers shouldn’t get carried away with improvements. Most important are getting the house on the market quickly and then being sensitive to prospective buyers’ feedback to guide the most needed improvements. Sellers also may offer to negotiate credit and let the buyer decide where to spend money.

Among other advice to consider:

  • To improve the curb appeal, consider new paint, replace rotting wood or add landscaping mulch. Don’t forget to sweep the entry or porch and knock down any cobwebs.

 

  • Don’t replace the carpet, clean it. The new owner might want flooring and would possibly rip out new carpet anyway. Consider giving a carpet or flooring allowance.

 

  • Update or replace electrical items such as ceiling fans. Have electrical panels checked for replacement, especially Federal Pacific or Zinsco panels.

 

  • Paint or remove old wallpaper as needed, and opt for neutral colors.

 

  • Roof replacement. It is the most common repair on a deferred maintenance list, and a repair that is one of the highest concerns for a lender, insurance company or buyer.

 

  • Small details: Use door stoppers to protect walls; move furniture that may be hit by a door opened too quickly or fully.

Finally, get an inspection from a professional who is certified by American Society of Home Inspectors and make the recommended repairs yourself or hire a handyman. If the buyer hires an inspector, things could get far more expensive because they will dictate using licensed professionals who will have to warranty the work.

To learn how Nebraska Realty helps in the home-buying process, check out: https://www.nebraskarealty.com/buyers/home-buying-process.aspx. See why working with Nebraska Realty is different:  https://www.nebraskarealty.com/buyers/faq-buying-selling-home.aspx.

For additional information, contact Nebraska Realty at https://www.nebraskarealty.com/ or reach any agent at https://www.nebraskarealty.com/agents/ or call (402) 491-0100. The Nebraska Realty Building is located at 17117 Burt Street, Omaha, NE 68118, north of the Village Pointe Shopping Center.

More to Design Than Meets the Eye

Despite the overwhelming popularity of home improvement shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, most people still want a move-in ready home versus a fixer upper. It can be daunting to consider buying a place that needs major renovations but no matter how new a home is, it’s not really home until the resident’s style signature is on it. With the help of Interior Designer, Courtney Otte, owner of The Modern Hive, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to add personal flair and unique design options to a home.

Courtney is an Omaha-area interior designer who works in both commercial and residential design. Her knowledge and creativity shine when she shares design ideas and decorating tips. She has a real passion for her work and her vision is inspiring. During a recent visit to Nebraska Realty, Courtney shared some of the most current design trends like white cabinets are on their way out, blue is currently a very popular color in paint and décor, but green is up and coming. When it comes to accents, global spice mixed with white tones, as well as nature-inspired prints are what’s next. Go check out the wares in any chain home décor and furnishings store and you’re sure to see these trends waiting for you to take them home and try them in your current space.

To hire Courtney is to allow her into your mind to explore your personality and style preferences. Each new client completes a survey that allows her to get to know her clients tastes, whether casual or formal, relaxing or always ready for entertaining. For the more eclectic tastes, Courtney said, “I recommend that one room be tackled first to help narrow down the client’s style rather than taking on the whole house at once.” This helps ensure time and resources are spent wisely and the final product is as expected.

As with most segments in today’s world, interior design also has a tech version to it. For those who are on limited time and maybe even a limited budget, Courtney provides her services through E-design. E-design requires measurements of the rooms to be designed, but once Courtney has those she can provide recommendations for furniture placement and décor.

Courtney provided stellar tips for staging a home to sell. In any market, you want your home to be presented in the best light possible to increase interest and perceived value. “I offer a walk-thru service where I give advice on light renovations such as replacing countertops and flooring, and furniture placement,” Courtney said.  

Here are Courtney’s top 5 tips for preparing a home for sale:

  1. Apply a fresh coat of paint. To keep things neutral, Courtney recommends a warm, mid-tone gray.
  2. Make sure there is consistent flooring. While a transition from hardwood to carpet is okay, it’s best to avoid multiple rooms having different types or colors of carpet or flooring.
  3. Clean up the clutter. Once you’ve cleaned up each room, go back and do it again. Less is more when it comes to making your home a showcase.
  4. Take drapes down, but leave blinds and shades on the windows. If drapes are neutral then they can be left up, but if they are part of a very personal design style with unlikely patterns or colors, Courtney advises it’s best to take them down.
  5. Reconsider the furniture arrangement. Oftentimes moving a few pieces can help open up a space making it seem larger and more aesthetically pleasing.

Looking over that list, we'd say those are tips we could all use whether we are in the market to sell our homes or not. Studies show that freshening up our living spaces helps to invoke creativity, elevates mood, and creates resourcefulness. One call to Courtney could result in a change that brightens your living space and also renews your mind.     

Air Quality in Homes Impacting Your Health

 It’s no secret that the air quality in homes can affect an occupant’s health. Realtors® have been working with purchase contract contingencies concerning radon tests, mold and indoor air quality tests for years. Now based on research done by the EPA’s Office of Research and Development studies have found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be two to five times higher inside homes than outside of the home, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas.

Toxins such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) can enter a home or workplace from paint, flooring, stains, varnishes, plywood, carpeting, insulation and other building products used in their construction or remodeling process. These substances are released into the air through a process called off-gassing. The off-gassing can continue for years and affect the health of the homeowner or occupants long after the construction has been completed, or the updates to the home, or building have been made. Today’s more airtight homes actually work to seal some of these substances in, rather than allowing fresh air exchanges to dilute or dissipate the off-gassing.

Who would think that when a home seller is doing the common things to get their home ready to sell, like adding a fresh coat of interior paint, new cabinets or countertops, installing new carpets or adding insulation; they may actually be creating a higher risk of off-gassing and indoor pollutants in the home? When preparing for a new baby homeowners many times will choose to put a fresh coat of paint in a bedroom, install new carpets, and purchased new nursery furniture to convert the bedroom into a sparkling new nursery? In reality the new parents maybe creating a greater health risks for their newborn rather than minimizing it.

The average adult breathes approximately 13,000 liters of air each day, along with whatever VOC’s and other pollutants happen to be in the air. People’s immune systems work to protect them from harmful toxins that they encounter. But the human immune system can only handle so much. Eventually if a person’s body overloads with too many harmful substances the immune system cannot keep up and the body suffers. Once in a person’s system, VOCs are stored in body fat and can lead to serious health problems over an extended time period. The EPA has estimated that indoor air pollutions adversely affect thousands of people each year. Effects from over exposure to radon gas alone causes over 14,000 deaths annually. Many other commonly used compounds in manufacturing can also be known carcinogens and some of their uses are not presently regulated. Indoor air quality has become a significant health concern in the United States.

Many U.S. building materials manufacturers have also made changes in their manufacturing processes in order to eliminate VOC’s and off-gassing from their products. In everything from adhesives, sealants, drywall, paints, carpets, manufactured doors, cabinets, windows and insulation products, changes have been, made to make the end user product VOC free. Owens Corning one of the U.S. largest insulation manufacturers, (you know the people with the Pink Panther) has spent millions of dollars retrofitting their plants so they are now able to produce a fiber insulation that is a 99% natural product, made with 58 percent recycled content which is formaldehyde free. Owens Corning’s formaldehyde free insulation is marketed under the name Eco-Touch® PINK®FIBERGLAS Insulation.

Home builders these days are also keenly aware of the problems of off-gassing and many take proactive steps in their construction process to minimize hazards from indoor air pollutants.  They do this by using construction materials and products that are VOC free and having their HVAC contractors install furnaces and air handling equipment that provide adequate filtration and indoor air exchanges in the home.

For any new construction questions you might have contact Jim with Nebraska Realty Builder Services at James@NebraskaRealty.com

Requirements for Basement Egress Windows


Egress windows are required to meet minimum criteria:

  • Minimum width of clear opening: 20 in.
  • Minimum height of clear opening: 24 in.
  • Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft…(Ground floor window net clear openings shall be a minimum of 5.0 sq. ft.)
  • Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.

New windows must meet International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) insulation requirements…(Existing windows are presumed to have met the code requirements at the time of their installation)

Don’t just read the dimensions and stop here. You may miss, or misunderstand key things about the requirements for an egress window…

Are basement egress windows a special type of window?

Special, yes because their size, opening and ease of use, are all pertinent factors in their selection; but nearly any type of window excluding a fixed pane window can be used as an egress window as long as the net clear opening is large enough to meet egress requirements. “Net clear opening” is the key term when it comes to egress windows as it refers to the actual overall free and clear space that exists when the window is fully open.

There are also other deciding factors like; the device that opens the window must be operational from inside the room without any keys or special tools. Bars, grilles and grates can be installed over an egress window but they too must be operational without tools, keys special knowledge or force greater than that which is normally required to open the window and they must still allow for a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 sq. ft. For some 5.7 sq. ft. may seem rather large but in reality; the opening has to not only make allowances for a person escaping the room during a home fire; but also for a fire fighter wearing full gear or carrying equipment attempting to enter into the house during a home fire.


IMPORTANT: An egress windows net clear opening is not based on the window size, but the actual opening or space that a person can crawl through when the window is fully open. This is where some can easily get confused. They’ll measure a windows overall size or the window pane size in order to determine whether or not the window meets the requirements for egress. That method is incorrect. The area that needs to be measured is the free and clear space when the window is fully open and an individual’s ease of being able to access the open window, i.e. height from floor. A windows size, type and location can all be major deciding factors when it comes to selecting the correct basement egress window.


 

Residential new construction homes and basement remodels require at least one egress window to be installed in the basement. On new construction it is required even if the basement is not being finished. Each sleeping room is required to have emergency egress and rescue opening, so if you have 2 bedrooms below grade each will require an egress window.  There is an exception for basements used only to house mechanical equipment and not exceeding a total floor area of 200 sq. ft.

Consumers or building contractors select window styles that best meet the architectural, aesthetic, space and budget requirements for a home, but a big consideration always needs to be egress, particularly when it comes to bedroom windows. There are some window types that simply work much better than other types depending on their location and application. The following is a list of window types commonly used in homes.

Casement Windows: Casement windows, or as they are sometimes called “crank-outs” can be smaller than other window types and still meet the necessary requirements for egress. They work particularly well in areas where there just isn’t a lot of open space. Depending upon how far the operator arm allows the window to open also determines how much of the clear opening can be included in the overall “net clear opening”. Often times with casement windows a larger percentage of the window size can be included in the net clear opening. Some manufacturers even install special operator arm that allows the window to open wider by simply pushing it open further. These types of windows meet egress requirements as long as the “PUSH HERE”label is always visible and in place on the window.

Glider/Slider Window: Glider/Slider windows have sashes that fill half or more of the possible clear opening. This requires a window nearly twice the size of say a casement window in order to meet egress requirements. Glider/slider windows are sometimes wider than they are tall while other window types are often just the opposite excluding possibly a fixed picture window, an awning window or double window set. Even though 50% of the glider/slider windows size is unusable in the net clear opening many building contractors prefer the glider/sliders for basement windows because of their ease of operation and lack of mechanical parts that can fail. So for some, if the space allows the glider/slider window is their first choice as a basement egress window.

Double Hung Window: Double hung windows just like sliders have sashes that fill half if not more of the possible net clear opening. Again they require a window nearly twice the size of say a casement window in order to meet the egress requirements. Even when they are fully open, 50% or more of the double hung window is blocked by glass. In order to meet egress requirements a window sized 28 in. wide would need to be at least 60 in. in height. The tall height of the window may make it impractical as a basement egress window unless it’s located on the open side of the walkout basement. Double hung windows can however work very well as 2nd floor bedroom egress windows which also require a net clear opening of 5.7 sq. ft.

Awning Window: Based on the information already covered it should nearly go without saying that an awning window would typically be a poor choice for basement egress window unless it was a fairly large window. Like the slider and double hung 50% or more of the window is blocked when open; particularly with center operator arm opening types. Some manufacturers offer models that have detachable operators which allow them to meet egress requirements. But as stated under casement windows; no special tools or keys must be required to remove the operators or open the window. All instructions like “PUSH-, PULL-, or LIFT- HERE” must be labeled clearly on the window.

Window Wells: There are also specific guidelines for window wells and the clearance required within the wells in order to be egress complient. The minimum horizontal area of the window well is required to be 9 sq. ft. with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 in. Window wells deeper than 44 in. need to be equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps usable when the window is in a fully open position. Ladder-rungs shall have a minimum inside width of 12 in. shall project at least 3 in. from the wall of the well and be spaced no more than 18 in. on center vertically. Ladder-rungs or steps are allowed to encroach a maximum of 6 in. into the required dimensions of the window well. Escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a free space area, or a yard or court open to a public way.