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8 Things Home Buyers Will Hate About Your House

Here is a nice article provided by Pat Mertz Esswein of Kiplinger:

 

By Pat Mertz Esswein, Associate Editor | February 2017

 

As a home seller, you don’t want to let the small stuff sabotage your sale.

 

These eight problems are among the biggest buyer turn-offs, and most of them are easy to fix without spending a ton of money. Take a look.

 

1. Haunted-House Landscaping

If your yard looks like the Addams family owns it, you need to tidy up. Otherwise, buyers may drive by but never come back.

Besides mowing the lawn, your to-do list should include trimming scraggly trees and shrubs and removing anything that's dead or beyond resuscitation. Edge, weed and mulch garden beds. Plant annuals in a plot or pot for a splash of color (see Cheap Ways to Improve Curb Appeal).

Cost to fix: Around $95 for a landscaper to prune and groom a small tree and a couple of shrubs, according to www.diyornot.com. If you’d rather be packing boxes than mowing the lawn, you'll probably pay a lawn service $40 to $50 for up to a half acre, but you might get a neighbor’s kid to do it for less. Of course, you can always spruce up the yard yourself.

2. Your Personal Paint Palette

Paint over colors that reflect your taste but may put off potential buyers, such as a scarlet-red accent wall, a lemon-yellow child’s bedroom or a forest-green den. "Fun colors are for living, but neutral colors are for selling," explains home stager Chrissie Sutherland, of Ready Set Stage, in Greensboro, N.C.

Avoid using stark-white paint, though. Choose a warm neutral color -- beige, ivory, taupe or light gray -- that makes your rooms look inviting, larger and brighter. Redo painted trim in white.

Cost to fix: A pro can prep and paint a 10-by 15-foot room with two coats of latex paint for anywhere from $400 to $927, according to www.homewyse.com.

3. Popcorn-Finished Ceilings

Anyone who has lived with this outdated mode of room-top styling knows that it accumulates dirt, defies cleaning and is hard to paint. Worse, if your home was built prior to the mid-1980s, it may contain asbestos (it was banned in ceiling products in 1977, but existing supplies may have been used later).

If you have any concerns, have the ceiling sampled and tested for asbestos by a licensed inspector. For more information, check out the EPA's Asbestos: Protect Your Family fact sheets. If the test result is positive, hire an asbestos abatement contractor who is federally or state trained and accredited (not the same company that tested the ceiling) to seal it with spray paint if it's in good shape (not peeling or crumbling) and unlikely to be disturbed, or to remove the ceiling treatment and properly dispose of it -- an expensive proposition.

Removal is usually a messy and laborious process, with or without asbestos. The material must be wetted down and scraped and the underlying wallboard wiped clean. Once the popcorn is gone, the ceiling often must be repaired with joint compound and repainted. Even if there’s no asbestos, you probably should hire a drywall or painting contractor for the job. (For a glimpse of the process, visit www.ronhazleton.com.)

Cost to fix: About $100 to $150 per sample to test for asbestos (multiple samples may be required), and if it’s present, about $2 to $6 per square foot to seal it or $54 to $64 per square foot for removal, according to www.fixr.com. If you can get by with a painter, expect to pay about $1 to $3

4. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Buyers these days expect hardwood floors, even in starter homes. If carpet hides your home's original hardwood floors, remove it, even if the wood isn't in the best condition. Even if you don’t have hardwood, you may want to consider having it installed in a first-floor living area. If you must keep the carpeting, make sure it looks and smells its best by having it professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas or if you have pets.

To find a cleaner certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, visit www.certifiedcleaners.org. Talk with your agent about the best strategy: whether to replace carpet or give buyers the option to choose what they want.

Cost to fix: A pro can clean 500 square feet of carpet for about $174 to $230, according to www.homewyse.com. The cost to refinish 500 square feet of hardwood flooring runs about $2,000, including labor, while the cost to install new hardwood runs from about $3,660 to $5,762. Pre-finished laminate flooring will cost somewhat less to install.

5. Brass Fixtures

From switch plates to chandeliers, builder-grade, shiny yellow brass is out. Replace it with chrome- or satin-nickel-finish fixtures for a contemporary look, or an oil-rubbed bronze or black finish to update a traditional room. This is a pretty straightforward do-it-yourself job.

For instructions, watch these YouTube videos: How to Replace and Install a Chandelier from Build.com and Buildipedia DIY's How to Replace a Light Fixture.

Cost to fix: You could buy two chandeliers (to put, say, over the kitchen and dining-room tables) and a few flush-mounted lights for $200 to $400 at a big-box store such as Lowe's or Home Depot. After that, it’s DIY.

6. Faux Crystal Faucet Handles

Acrylic knobs in the bathroom look cheap and can be hard to use by young, aged or soapy hands. Replace them with a faucet and handle set that matches the existing fixture's configuration (centerset or widespread) and meets the standard of the Americans with Disabilities Act with flipper- or lever-style handles. Polished-chrome finish will cost you the least and still be durable. Plus, the National Kitchen & Bath Association says that the finish is enjoying a surge in popularity over brushed or satin finishes.

Cost to fix: You’ll pay at least $26 for a centerset faucet, plus $75 to $150 for a plumber’s minimum service charge (or twice that much or more if there's corrosion or some other difficulty), according to www.costhelper.com. You can replace a tub-and-shower faucet set for about the same amount.

7. Vanity Strips

Nothing says 1970s like a Hollywood-style strip of bare, round lights over your bathroom mirror. Replace it with a fixture that includes a shade for each bulb or a bath bar in a style and finish that complements your faucet set.

If you have a one-person mirror, you could replace the vanity strip with a wall sconce on either side of the mirror to achieve better lighting for shaving or applying make-up.

Cost to fix: A three-light fixture with shades runs $28 to $100 at www.lightingdirect.com. You should be able to handle this job yourself.

8. Clutter and Dirt

Ugh. You want buyers to imagine living in your home, not to wonder “How can these people live like this?” when they come through the front door.

Pack up your tchotchkes and other non-essential stuff (store the boxes neatly in your garage or other storage area). Then thoroughly clean your house and be prepared to keep it that way until you move out.

If your house has unpleasant odors—say, from smoking or pets--that will turn off buyers, too. You may want to hire a specialist to help you (see www.iicrc.org).

Cost to fix: Nothing but the cost of cleaning supplies if you supply the elbow grease. For pro cleaning, you can expect to pay from $188 to $234 for a 2,000-square-foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, or $269 to $335 for a 3,000-square-foot house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, according to www.homewyse.com.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail  info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.

10 Secrets Trader Joe's Shoppers Need to Know

Here is a nice article provided by Andrea Browne Taylor of Kiplinger:

 

By Andrea Browne Taylor, Online Editor | Updated March 2017

 

Trader Joe's is well-known to its fans for low prices on unique food items, ranging from cookie butter to turkey corn dogs. The chain is also known for its quirky culture. Employees, easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts, go out of their way to be helpful, and plastic lobsters are used to decorate stores.

 

The unconventional touches make shopping at Trader Joe's a far different experience than shopping at a typical supermarket. Stores are smaller and selection is limited, so you might not be able to cross off every item on your list. Trader Joe's stocks about 3,000 products, versus the 30,000 carried by traditional grocers. However, you can find basics such as bread, milk and eggs, as well as some produce and meats.

 

This is just the tip of the Trader Joe's iceberg. If you've never set foot inside one of its more than 400 locations, here are ten things you should know before you make your first shopping trip.

 

1. Aldi Is Part of the Family

Trader Joe's was founded in 1967 in Pasadena, Calif., by entrepreneur Joe Coloumbe. It was acquired in 1979 by Aldi Nord, a German company that also operates Aldi grocery stores in Europe. Aldi Nord's sister company, Aldi Sud, operates Aldi stores in the U.S.

Despite the corporate ties, the two chains have distinct marketing strategies. Aldi is price-driven and undercuts competitors by selling cheaper private-label versions of the most popular items at traditional supermarkets, says Jon Springer, retail editor for Supermarket News. Trader Joe's also aims for affordability, but its driving force is uniqueness. It focuses on its own line of mostly prepackaged products in unusual flavor combinations that you won't find anywhere else.

 

2. There Are No Sales or Coupons

Most supermarket chains put select items on sale every week. But at Trader Joe's, what you see is what you get when it comes to price, says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert for Coupons.com. That means you won't find any Trader Joe's deals listed in your Sunday circulars.

The grocer claims that because it already offers the lowest prices it can every day, there's no room for sales, specials or coupons. To test this claim, we compared the price of Speculoos Cookie Butter (Trader Joe's most popular item) with that of a similar cookie spread found at Target. At a Trader Joe's we visited in the Washington, D.C., area, the Speculoos Cookie Butter cost $3.69 for a 14-ounce jar. At a nearby Target, the same-size container of Lotus Biscoff Creamy Cookie Spread cost 30 cents more.

 

3. Eight Out of 10 Items Are Store Brands

Eighty percent of the products carried by Trader Joe's are store brands, says Alison Mochizuki, the company's director of public relations. These include items with the Trader Joe's, Trader Jose's and Trader Ming's labeling. The grocer says the heavy emphasis on store brands helps keep costs low because it buys direct from suppliers whenever possible (no middleman markup) and then passes the savings on to its customers. "Most stores charge their suppliers fees for putting an item on the shelf," Mochizuki adds. "This results in higher prices, so we don't do it."

Health-conscious customers should know that the company claims all of its store-branded food and drinks are free of artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, synthetic colors and genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

 

4. Its Prices Aren't Always the Lowest

To find out whether Trader Joe's really does offer lower prices versus other stores, we visited one of its Washington, D.C.-area locations to do some comparison shopping. We looked at the cost of everyday essentials such as milk, fruits and vegetables, and priced them against similar items available at Whole Foods, an upscale grocer, and Aldi, a discount supermarket.

Despite Whole Foods' reputation for high prices, a half-gallon carton of its 365 brand organic whole milk cost $3.99, the same as a half-gallon of Trader Joe's brand organic milk. A 16-ounce bag of Trader Joe's brand organic baby carrots cost $1.99, while at Whole Foods and Aldi the same same-size package of organic baby carrots was $1.49. At Trader Joe's, a four-pound bag of navel oranges rang up for $3.49, while the same same-size bag of oranges cost only $1.99 at Aldi.

Another thing to keep in mind, says Cindy Livesey, founder of LivingRichWithCoupons.com, is that a lot of Trader Joe's produce items are prepackaged, which doesn't allow shoppers to choose how much they actually want to buy.

 

5. Products Come and Go From Store Shelves

It's easy to get attached to your favorite snack. Just be warned that at Trader Joe's those snacks might not be around forever. Petits Palmiers -- puffed pastry cookies that had been on Trader Joe's shelves since 2003 -- were discontinued in 2015 due to declining sales. Last year the company also dropped round sweet potato tortilla chips, which had been around since 2011, but quickly replaced them with new and improved sweet potato tortilla chips that are triangular in shape.

Trader Joe's rationale? Because store space is limited and new products are introduced every week, items that don't catch on quickly with customers are wasting valuable real estate. Besides poor sales, Trader Joe's says a product might be discontinued if it's seasonal or if the cost of producing it increases significantly.

 

6. You Can Sample Anything Before Buying It

If you see something that piques your interest, but aren't totally sure you'll like it, Trader Joe's allows customers to have a taste on the house. Seriously. Simply ask an employee to open up whatever it is you're considering purchasing, so you can try a small sample before forking over your hard-earned cash. If you don't like it, you don't have to buy it.

Trader Joe's also has a no-questions-asked return policy. If you purchase something, try it at home and decide you don’t like it, simply bring whatever you haven't eaten back to your local store for a full refund.

 

7. Checking Out Can Take a While

You might need to set aside more time for a trip to Trader Joe's than you would a stop at your local supermarket. Depending on when you shop, you may very well experience an especially long wait in the checkout line, says Lauren Greutman, founder of IAmThatLady.com, a blog about frugal living.

While doing our comparison shopping, we made three separate trips to Trader Joe's. The first was on a weekend and, as you might expect, it was packed. The checkout line on a Saturday afternoon snaked through the store, and it took 25 minutes to reach a cashier. The second visit was mid-afternoon on a Thursday, and the wait at checkout was less than five minutes. We went back on Thursday night, about an hour before closing time, and again the wait was just five minutes.

The lesson: If you're in a hurry or need to do a big shop, go during off-peak hours. Trader Joe's tends to be busiest on weekdays right after work and on weekends. If you can, shop early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds.

 

8. A Ringing Bell Means Help Is on the Way

Unlike most supermarkets that use intercoms to summon assistance, Trader Joe's has a bell system. In keeping with its kitschy maritime theme (remember the plastic lobsters?), the grocer uses actual bells located near the checkout area to signal to employees that help is needed.

One ring lets employees know that another cash register needs to be opened. Two rings mean there are additional questions that need to be answered at the checkout area. Three rings signal that a manager is needed for further assistance. While this system may be a bit odd, shoppers seem to like the chain's eccentricities. Trader Joe's ranked number one in customer satisfaction among supermarket shoppers, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index's 2016 Retail Report. Publix was second, Aldi ranked third and Walmart finished last.

 

9. Stores Donate Unsold Food to Local Charities

While offering customers quality products is a top priority for Trader Joe's, so is giving back to the community. On its corporate website, Trader Joe's states that its "long running policy is to donate products that aren't fit for sale, but are safe for consumption."

Each store has a donation coordinator who is responsible for working with local food banks and soup kitchens to arrange daily donations. "Store crewmembers evaluate products every day and if they feel something isn't safe for consumption, they will not donate it," says Trader Joe's Mochizuki.

In 2016 , the grocery chain says it donated $341 million worth of products to charities across the country, up from the $321 million in goods Trader Joe’s donated the previous year.

 

10. No Trader Joe's Near You? Ask for One

If you're now curious about visiting a Trader Joe's only to find out that there isn't a store near you, you have some recourse. Potential shoppers interested in bringing a store to their area should visit the Request a TJ's in My City page on Trader Joe's website and fill out the short questionnaire.

While Trader Joe's can't guarantee it will open a store in every requested city, if consumer demand is high enough in a particular area management vows to give it serious consideration. In 2016, the grocer opened 17 new stores ranging in location from Westfield, N.J., to Bellevue, Wash., and has nine more stores scheduled to open later in 2017 ranging in location from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Diego.

 

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail  info@diversifiedassetmanagement.com.

 

The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.