Ideas To Keep Your Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Ideas To Keep Your Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Desert Flower courtesy of Arvin Design

The local news has reported that the temperatures will be going up 10 degrees this weekend, and the humidity is about to start again.  Keeping Palos Verdes homes cool has been on my mind this last month.  As most Palos Verdes homes do not have air conditioning, I appreciated this article below with ideas on how to keep cool without it.

How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon  Published: March 20, 2013

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips, and you’ll keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.
You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer. These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family).

Block that Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.
Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.
Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.
Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.
Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Fire Up Fans
Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.
Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.
Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Photo of desert flower courtesy of Arvin Design

Palos Verdes Home Improvements Cost vs Value 2015

Palos Verdes Home Improvements Cost vs Value 2015

Palos Verdes home courtesy of Arvin Design

How do you get the highest sales price for your Palos Verdes home?  A realistic listing price is important in addition to decluttering/staging along with possible home improvements.  Which home improvements and remodeling projects give the greatest return on investment?  For owners of Palos Verdes homes (and Los Angeles County) who choose upscale remodeling, the top three projects for 2014-2015 are a little different from last year.  The remodeling project with the highest return on investment is Window (vinyl) replacement at a 108.4% return (wood window replacement had a 93.9% return), followed by Garage Door replacement at a 103.1% return and both Grand Entrance and Siding replacement (fiber-cement) at an 89.4% and 89.6% return according to Remodeling Magazine’s “Remodeling 2015 Cost vs Value Report” (www.costvsvalue.com).  Curb appeal is important to buyers who are getting the first impression of your home.  In the midrange category, steel entry doors receive the number one return on investment at an outstanding 149.7%!

Of the top 13 upscale remodeling projects with the best return on investment for Los Angeles County, 6 are under $25,000 and include both vinyl & wood window replacement, siding replacement (foam-backed vinyl & fiber-cement), garage door replacement and grand entrance.  A Master Suite Addition which is the most expensive at $266,900 only nets a 54.1% return.

Owners of Palos Verdes real estate remodel for different reasons, like the need for more space, to improve the functionality of specific rooms and to update them.  Kitchen and bathrooms are usually the most expensive remodel as plumbing and/or appliances need to be moved and/or replaced.  There is no specific report for Palos Verdes homes but there is a Remodeling 2014 Cost vs Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) for Los Angeles County which is broken down into Midrange priced projects and Upscale priced projects.  When you  open on the download button (www.costvsvalue.com), choose Pacific and then Los Angeles –  you will be prompted to register before gaining access to the report.  When you click on the project name (i.e. Bathroom Remodel) you can then read the features of that price range to compare to your own.

Remodeling just for resale rarely nets you a dollar for dollar return.  Most remodels are done for the enjoyment of the homeowner (who still wants to maximize their return when they do sell).  My experience is that most buyers are looking for newer kitchens, bathrooms, master suites and nice yards.  Curb appeal is also important because it is the buyer’s first impression of the home.

To read my prior article on Cost vs Value 2014, click here.

Photo courtesy of Arvin Design

Preparing Your Palos Verdes Home For Sale

Preparing Your Palos Verdes Home For Sale

Palos Verdes home courtesy of Arvin Design

I read a great article below with excellent ideas on preparing your Palos Verdes home for sale.  I am a great believer in having a home inspection prior to listing your home for sale and have written articles in the past which can be accessed by clicking here.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale
By: G. M. Filisko  Published: February 10, 2010
Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.
Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house—and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.
1. Have a home inspection
Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.
2. Get replacement estimates
If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.
3. Make minor repairs
Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems—sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets—as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.
4. Clear the clutter
Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.
5. Do a thorough cleaning
A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.
If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.
Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has found happiness in a Chicago brownstone with the best curb appeal on the block. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Photo courtesy of Arvin Design

Keeping Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Keeping Palos Verdes Homes Cool

Desert Flower courtesy of Arvin Design

Keeping Palos Verdes homes cool has been on my mind this last month as we have experienced unseasonably hot and muggy weather.  Most Palos Verdes homes do not have air conditioning and I appreciated this article below with ideas on how to keep cool without it.

How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon  Published: March 20, 2013

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips, and you’ll keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.
You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer. These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family).

Block that Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.
Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.
Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.
Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.
Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Fire Up Fans
Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.
Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.
Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Photo of desert flower courtesy of Arvin Design

Home Colors For Palos Verdes Homes

Bedroom photo

Recently, my eye caught an article regarding the worst color to paint your home (pure bright yellow).  I asked Laura Kistemaker of Staged Right! for her opinion on which colors would be the BEST to paint your home.  Below is her response:

For resale, neutral wall colors are the best.  They allow potential buyers to put their own stamp on the property (not to mention they allow your stager more flexibility in choosing decor to go with the interior).

To add more interest, bolder accent colors can be brought in in pillows, artwork area rugs, etc.  Simply painting your walls Swiss Coffee or White is a missed opportunity to add some warmth and interest to a room.  Adding color to the walls when there are white moldings, door-casings, etc. allows those features to pop and become noticeable to buyers. In a room with vaulted ceilings, having a color on the wall and white on the ceilings highlights the architecture.

Some of my favorite colors that I think appeal to the buyers in our coastal communities include:

Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan – a light not-too-yellow tan that’s a step up from Realtor’s white.

Benjamin Moore’s Putnam Ivory – A versatile, rich tan with a yellow undertone that can either go a beachy direction with blue/green accents or a Mediterranean direction with green, terra cotta accents. 

Sherwin Williams Conservative Gray – A light gray/green color that matched with white moldings, cabinetry, etc. provides a beautiful back drop to white slip-covered furniture and a nice beachy feel.

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt – a beautiful not too blue not too green/grayish color that also conjures up that beachy sea-side feeling.

Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray and Revere Pewter – warm gray/beige colors if someone really does not want a yellow undertone.  Both are good for more modern interiors where the yellow undertones just won’t work.

A final note:  Whenever possible use a flat-finish paint.  Flat provides a more saturated feel and hides the flaws on the walls.  Glossy paints look dated and high-light every imperfection in the walls.

Photo courtesy of StagedRight!

 

Palos Verdes Home Improvements Cost vs Value

Kitchen beautifully remodeled

Which home improvements and remodeling projects give the greatest return on investment?  For owners of Palos Verdes homes (and Los Angeles County) who choose upscale remodeling, the top three projects for 2011-2012 are the same as last year –  Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) at 97.9%, window replacement (vinyl) at 86.7% and garage door replacement at 87.9% according to Remodeling Magazine’s “Remodeling 2011-12 Cost vs Value Report” (www.costvsvalue.com) .

Of the top 13 upscale remodeling projects with the best return on investment for Los Angeles County, 6 are under $25,000 and include both vinyl & wood window replacement, siding replacement (foam-backed vinyl & fiber-cement), garage door replacement and grand entrance.  A Master Suite Addition which is the most expensive at $265,174 only nets a 63.7% return.

Owners of Palos Verdes real estate remodel for different reasons, like the need for more space, to improve the functionality of specific rooms and to update them.  Kitchen and bathrooms are usually the most expensive remodel as plumbing and/or appliances need to be moved and/or replaced.  There is no specific report for Palos Verdes homes but there is a Remodeling 2011-12 Cost vs Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) for Los Angeles County which is broken down into Midrange priced projects and Upscale priced projects (Reports can be accessed by clicking here).  When you click on the project name (i.e. Bathroom Remodel) you can then read the features of that price range to compare to your own.

Remodeling just for resale rarely nets you a dollar for dollar return.  Most remodels are done for the enjoyment of the homeowner (who still wants to maximize their return when they do sell).  My experience is that most buyers are looking for newer kitchens, bathrooms, master suites and nice yards.  Curb appeal is also important because it is the buyer’s first impression of the home.

Are Your Palos Verdes Homes Ready For Sale?

Spring selling season for Palos Verdes real estate will be here before you know it and now is the time to get your house prepared.  Below is an article with some great suggestions:

7 Tips For Staging Your Home

by: G. M. Filisko, published: March 19, 2010

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process.

1. Start with a clean slate
Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.

2. Stow away your clutter
It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of www.StagedHomes.com in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.

3. Scale back on your furniture
When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.

4. Rethink your furniture placement
Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.

5. Add color to brighten your rooms
Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.

6. Set the scene
Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home—such as a chess game in progress—to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.

Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.

7. Make the entrance grand
Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don’t surround your home’s entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who occasionally rearranges her furniture to find the best placement—and keep her dog on his toes. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Increasing Your Home’s Resale Value

When selling Palos Verdes houses, owners usually take a few weeks (or sometimes even months) to get their home ready for market.  What are some inexpensive do-it-yourself projects that will yield high returns?  There is the obvious decluttering that is so important yet sometimes challenging.

Realtor Magazine recently listed the top do-it-yourself projects with the highest return.  I have added some of my own comments and suggestions.

1. Cleaning and Decluttering – This is a great time to pack up all your little “treasures” for your move.  Also, think about traffic flow in your home (how the buyers will be walking through it) and maybe move some of your furniture out to the garage.  Also, check your walls which may need to be cleaned or have the paint touched up.

2. Staging – This can be as simple as rearranging furniture, updating accessories and perhaps having soothing music playing in the background.  Turning on the lights for showings is also beneficial.

3. Brightening – Anything that will bring ambient light into the home is helpful – washing windows, replacing old curtains (or removing them), replacing old light fixtures.

4. Landscaping – Curb appeal is so important as it is the buyer’s first impression of your home. Walk out to the street and take a look at your home.  Do you have bushes or trees that need to be trimmed?  Is the grass nice and green?  If you need some color, plant flowers as soon as possible so they can mature a bit before your home goes on the market.

5. Electrical or Plumbing Repair – Fix any leaky sinks or toilets that keep running.  You may want to update electrical outlets and/or old light fixtures.  Replace burnt out light bulbs and make sure all light fixtures work.

6. Replace or Shampoo Dirty Carpets – If carpets are really worn, I would recommend replacing them with a neutral colored carpet.  Otherwise, shampooing the carpets usually will suffice.

Selling Your Home? Safety First.

When owners of Palos Verdes real estate put their homes on the market to sell, there are some recommendations to make it a safe experience.  I tell my clients who are selling their Palos Verdes homes to remove all valuables, prescriptions and financial data during open houses and showings.  It is impossible for Realtors to keep an eye on every room and, as a matter of fact, dishonest guests usually come in large groups and purposely distract the Realtor.

Last month, Lew Sichelman wrote an article in the LA Times entitled, “Play it safe when you show your home”.  Here is what he recommended along with some of my own comments:

  • Trust your instincts – Listen to your intuition and if someone makes you uncomfortable, be alert and extremely careful.
  • Do not let strangers into your home – A potential prospect or even if they identify themselves as an agent, should not be allowed into the house without an appointment.
  • I also like agents to actually use the lockbox to enter your home as I then have a record of the agent’s name and time the lockbox was opened.  It is easy to print up fake business cards but only agents will have a lockbox key.
  • Direct all inquiries to your agent whether a phone call, letter or knock at your door.
  • In advance of open houses or scheduled showings, remove valuables including artwork and electronic equipment (ipads and laptops also), prescription drugs, bank statements and other financial information, credit cards and keys.  Make a list of these items ahead of time and use it like a checklist before showings.
  • Be mindful of someone asking who is asking personal questions; for example about you or your family’s schedule.  The less said the better.

As Realtors, we occasionally receive alerts regarding suspicious groups that are going through open houses.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  Palos Verdes homes owners who take extra precaution will have a better outcome.

Declutter Your Home – Declutter Your Life

I am sure you have read those words before and it is really true.  My clients who are selling their Palos Verdes homes usually go through a process of decluttering and staging their home before putting it on the market and I often hear, “I wish I did that before; my house looks so good and I feel so liberated!”  I have taken that to heart and have gone through my own home and put some of those “treasures” away in boxes.

However, I still have an issue with my clothes.  I did read a helpful tip – Every time you bring in a new piece of apparel/shoes, donate one of your existing pieces.  That has been helpful as I have not added to my closet but still need to reduce.  I just read another inspiring idea from Deniece Schofield on RIS Media (click here to read article).  Deniece recommends, “Start by hanging all the clothes in your closet backward, so the hanger hook is facing you. When you wear an item and hang it back up, turn the hanger the right way.  Give yourself a year, and then go through your closet. If the hook is backward, you know at a glance you haven’t worn that garment in 12 months. It’s a good candidate for culling.”  Genius!

Photo courtesy of  Lowes