Spring Curb Appeal Ideas!

Springtime Curb Appeal

Springtime can present many difficulties when it comes to curb appeal.
For many areas of the country, this time of year means brown lawns, leafless bushes and trees, and a depressing lack of color.
Yes, we have the hope of the color splashes and lush landscapes that go hand in hand with summer, but what can be done now?
Improving curb appeal has shown to increase not only your property’s value, but also the property values of your entire neighborhood.
Whether you are selling or staying put, here are five tips that can help you on your way to a beautiful home.

1. Sidewalks and Driveways:
This may be the first part of your property that your guests or prospective buyers step foot on. Literally.
An affordable, virtually maintenance free option for sprucing up your paths is concrete stain. It can cost around $30 a gallon and requires very little prep work. This is a do-it-yourself project.
Consider picking a color that is in the same color family as that of your home. A blue home could be happily complemented by a gray drive.
Another tip: Fix cracks and uneven sections. This project may require a bit more professional attention, but will give buyers the impression that your entire home, not just the entrance, has been maintained.

2. Accent Door:
It has been called the lipstick on the lady. It’s inviting and it draws visitors – or buyers – in to your home. A plain door tends to recede into the background.
Consider a contrasting color to the siding of your home. On the color wheel, green is opposite red and yellow is opposite blue. Don’t be afraid to be daring (think a fuchsia door on a cream colored home). Just a pint of paint can cover most doors, and if you don’t like the result – you can try another color!

3. Trimming Trees:
Stand in front of your home and take a close – and fresh – look at your trees and bushes. Are there branches that have become overgrown and now obstruct the view of the home?
You want your landscaping to complement your home, not hide it. Trees should frame paths and entries. To trim tree branches yourself you can buy a pole pruner or chain saw. Or you can hire a professional, who has experience in shaping trees.
Keep in mind, however, that spring is NOT the time to prune flowering trees or maples. These should be done in late Summer and early Fall.

4. Early Spring Planting:
The last frost date varies by area. It also varies from year to year in that area, but if you feel that your home will not see another frost, then you may be safe to plant a few hardy annuals to add some pops of color to your yard. Even if a frost catches you by surprise – you can cover the plants for the evening to save them from succumbing to the cold.
The plant must also have time to take good root before severe rains come.
Some plants that you can give you an early burst of color:
• Pansies: these bolts of color can even survive winter in some areas
• Calendula: these “pot marigolds” are a versatile plant
• Violets: heart shapes petals
• Other options: cornflower, foxglove, larkspur, sweet alyssum, dianthus, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, blue sage, candytuft, celome, forget-me-nots, love-in-a-mist, snow-on-the-mountain, strawflower, and torenia

5. Outdoor Lighting:
Low voltage (12 volt) and solar lighting are great options for improving curb appeal.
There are hundreds of designs of solar lights. These small fixtures are generally set on stakes in the ground and can be used to accent paths or gardens. And they are a great do-it-yourself option.
Also, consider using uplighting on trees to create night-time focal points – great for buyers doing after work drive by inspections!

Dwayne Hicks, REALTOR
United Country West Georgia Realty
Carrollton, GA


Fools Rush In

I was showing property yesterday and after looking at four properties, we kept going back to the one that my clients really want. The problem is that it might not be able to close before the tax credit deadline (under contract by April 30 and close by June 30, 2010). My client said, “I’d love to have that tax credit rebate, but I’d rather have the right house for my family, so I don’t intent to rush into this purchase.” I must say, I thought that to be a wise statement.

I’m a REALTOR and I’m in “sales” and the tax credit deadline is highly motivational to some, but as a buyers agent, I must look out for the best interests of my clients instead of putting a check mark by another sale. I do believe that some people with make a $100K or $200K mistake because they are motivated by a $8000/$6500 credit. Please don’t misunderstand – I make a living by selling homes. I just work and live near my clients and I don’t want them to look back and say that they made a mistake because they were pushed into a a quick decision on a house. I actually feel more pressure to show them all the options of homes available, so that their choice is easy and obvious – not rushed or hurried. I think that when we rush or hurry, we often make a mistake.

In the big scheme of things, buying a house is a major deal. I sure hope that all my clients can take advantage of this nice rebate check. Take your time choosing where you’ll live for the next 5, 10, 30 years!! It’s a big decision and probably should not be totally dependent on a tax credit!!

I’m just saying….

Press on!!

Dwayne Hicks

Realtor/ Associate Broker/Owner

United Country West Georgia Realty

Carrollton, GA



Reward For Responsiblity

The tax credit for first-time homebuyers was extended into 2010 with Congressional Approval. The bill is awaiting the signature of the president. This is good news for buyers because Senator Isakson added a tax credit to buyers who are looking to upgrade buyers who would like to take advantage of these market conditions and upsize their living conditions. This can be seen as a reward for those who are homeowners and have managed their responsibly.

The way I understand this bill is that first-time buyers can receive an $8000 tax credit (or 10% of purchase price, whichever is less). Also under this new plan, buyers who have owned their home for 5 consecutive years of the last 8 will be eligible for a $6500 tax credit.

To qualify, buyers will have to have a signed purchase agreement on or before April 30, 2010 and close the loan on or before June 30. The income limitations have also been expanded. The limitation for a single taxpayer is $125,000 and $225,000 for joint returns.

Now is STILL the time to buy. The foreclosure inventory is shrinking, so the really good deals are starting to be fewer and fewer. If you’ve thought about selling your present home that you’ve lived in for the past five years and upsizing – now is a great time with low interest rates and lower home prices.

I’m not a “hand-out” kind of guy, but I do like it when people who have been fiscally responsible are rewarded with a “tax break” of sorts.

Press on!!


A New Normal

I had the opportunity to attend a Board of Realtors luncheon yesterday, February 17 where our honorable Senator Johnny Isackson was the guest speaker. He is a very humble yet articulate and sharp individual. He spoke at great length at the state of our economic situation here in the US and how Real Estate is affected. He was factual and encouraging. He gave his opinion as to the economic recovery timeline. He said that he believed it would take 5 – 7 years for complete recovery and then we would have a “new normal”.

The term “new normal” really made me think. I’m already in a “new normal”. I don’t ever want a repeat of where we were. In the Real Estate boon of 2005 – I think we all knew it wouldn’t last forever, but we sure lived and borrowed like it would! I’m leaner and smarter having gone through that. I no longer want to be enslaved to ridiculous car payments and consumer debt ever again.

My new normal is underway now. I’m gonna “live like no one else so I can REALLY LIVE like no one else”.

Dwayne Hicks

Associate Broker

United Country West Georgia Realty

Carrollton, GA