Curb Appeal for Your Budget

It’s not the outside appearance, it’s the inside that counts. Except when it comes to your house. Even if you’ve got Italian carrera marble bathrooms and a custom-built kitchen upgrade, potential buyers see an ugly façade and won’t manage to click on the inside photos. Even if your home isn’t on the market, you’re that house, the one with the cringe moniker or the butt of neighborhood jokes. Or even. . . dum dum dum dum . . the one bringing all the property values down. 

For everything you’ve done on the inside, it’s time to take a few steps back and look at the outside. No matter your budget, there are things you can do to improve the curb appeal of your home and make another house on your street the butt of all the neighborhood jokes. 

 

Minimal

The first step in any budget is to give your yard a great trim—weed eat, mow, and freshen any beds with flowers, perennials or even just a fresh layer of mulch. For one afternoon and under a hundred dollars you can make your yard and exterior fresh and neat. A little more time and planning, and you can highlight architectural features of your exterior with window-boxes or hanging ferns. Nothing is more appealing than a front porch with lush ferns. Another cheap option to freshen up your exterior is to paint your front door. Pick a bold color that complements the rest of your exterior. For about the same amount of money you can replace your mailbox and house numbers. Other cheap ways to freshen up your exterior are by adding a wreath, power-washing your driveway and siding, or change out your door handles. 

 

Modest

Once you decide to put some money and time into your exterior, there’s a wide range of options—both DIY and professional. You can start investing in your landscaping—professional landscaping design, sprinkler maintenance, new plants or simply hiring consistent lawn care. A couple hundred dollars will also replace your lighting, paint trim and shutters, freshen gutters and add a porch swing or furniture, reseal your driveway, add slate tile in small concrete areas in the front, fence in the garbage cans or any visible AC units.  

 

Maximizer 

It’s always easy to think a renovation becomes easier with more money, but with more options comes more decisions. Even on the most expansive budgets, it’s important to focus on what brings the most value—whether that value is joy or ROI. For a larger budget there are all sorts of options—retaining walls, patios, more complicated landscaping and lighting schemes. You can also invest in changing the entire exterior of the home, whether by painting, replacing siding or adding stone veneer. New porches, decks, garage doors, and windows are also options, as well as adding decorative architectural pieces that fit with the overall design of your home. Really the sky is the limit. You can spend thousands in irrigation, sod, water features, or privacy fencing.

 

Just remember, whomever you decide to work with, at whatever budget, make sure you check insurance, licenses and references to ensure you are working with a reputable company and don’t come up short in the end. With a little time and planning, at whatever budget, you can make changes to benefit the curb appeal of your home.

Neighborhood Drama

Imagine stopping by a relative’s house and finding strangers have moved in, with an elaborate plot to acquire the house legally. That’s exactly what happened to a Davidson area family and their historic $2,000,000 home.

According to the police, a couple who claim allegiance to the “Moorish Nation” used a hide-a-key to illegally enter the home, and proceeded to move in. They unloaded a 26 foot U-Haul and parked their car in the garage. After moving into the house, they filed a quit claim deed with the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds claiming they had legal cause and ownership of the property.

When a member of the Knox family found the couple at the home, they called the Davidson police, confronting 30-year old Turmaine Thorne and 35-year-old Taqiyah Barber who reasserted their claim on the house. After obtaining permission from the owners, the police entered the home and arrested the couple for trespassing.

The investigation is still ongoing, and if history is any indication this might only be the first chapter.

In 2016, a self-described Moorish National Group was arrested for squatting in an $800,000 home in Piper Glen. The tumultuous back and forth between the squatters and the neighborhood included the squatters claiming they were leasing the home from a Hungarian entertainer and, in another incident, claimed they were housing a diplomat. After the neighbors, HOA, and realtors complained, and the group was evicted more than once, the squatters were finally arrested. This follows a pattern of members targeting expensive homes that are vulnerable to squatters. Vacant, foreclosed, up for sale—the members move in and then file court actions to hold their ground as long as possible.

The Moorish Nation began as a national and religious organization under the leadership of Noble Drew Ali in New Jersey in 1913. The modern-day group calls for potential members to join to become a “True American Citizen”. Some radical offshoots reject federal, state and local laws as well as property rights, encouraging squatters rights. Since its inception, the group has often been divided by charismatic leaders.

It seems insane that anyone would think to steal a home, but apparently it’s not impossible.

Stay tuned with neighborhood drama and other news on my blog here!

Bad Neighbor

You can pick your neighborhood, but you can’t pick your neighbors. We’ve all heard horror stories of conflicts that have started small but gotten wildly out of hand. Conflicts are sure to happen, but here’s how to make sure it doesn’t become a horror story.

Step 1: Speak to them—take this step before actions can spiral in order to come to an early compromise.

Step 2: If that doesn’t work, have another conversation. But it’s also time to start documenting and researching. Write down what happened, the dates and what conversations and actions took place. Research the kind of conflict you’re having and whether or not you have any legal standing. Calling the cops should be a last resort or for truly dangerous conflicts, as it is likely to escalate the situation.

Step 3: Retaliation is common and has likely taken place, but remember, the goal should be to come to a mutual solution, even if it means you offer to pay to resolve the problem.

Step 4: Professional mediation is cheaper and less likely to cause greater conflict than going to court. Some states offer free mediation for these types of conflicts, but also your homeowner’s association can be a service.

Neighbor conflicts are common, but they don’t have to get out of hand. Follow these steps to stay in control of a difficult situation.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Three Steps to Picking the Neighborhood That’s Right For You

You can change just about anything in a house. Carpet. Paint. Fixtures. Even the appearance on the outside of a house. Theoretically, you can bulldoze and start over. The only thing you can’t change about the house you buy is the location. So, what can you do to make sure a potential neighborhood is right for you?

Visit at variety of hours. A neighborhood can seem quiet and calm during the day, and change drastically into the evening. It’s important to visit at all hours—this gives you a chance to see anything the potential neighborhood might be hiding. Like the annoying dog next door who barks from 7pm-9pm.

Check the School district. Even if your only baby is a fur-baby, you want to make sure you buy in a highly-rated school district. Schools are one of the most looked at factors when people decide where to buy, keeping neighborhoods and housing values in good school districts stable. And while you’re checking on the public schools, look at the potential neighborhood’s proximity to the areas desirable private schools.

Test the Commute: The new commute may seem great, until the first week in the new place. By then, all you can do is sink into the couch, stare at your new living room and try to avoid the feeling of having made a fatal error. Save yourself the crisis and test out the new commute—both ways—before you buy.

With these tips, you’ll be able to make sure the neighborhood is right for you. Make sure to check out our Picking A Real Estate Agent that’s Right For You to help guide you through the process.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21