When’s the best time to water your lawn?
If you’re planning to buy Ikea kitchen cabinets, then you know that they’re a practical and good-looking solution if you don’t have the budget for custom or higher-end cabinets. But, they’re also a strategic way to add value to your remodel — provided you’re prepared to do the legwork.
Here’s what to know about value, planning, and whether or not you should get help from a pro.
1. Spending less on cabinets means you can spend more money where it’s needed. “Southern Hospitality” blogger Rhoda opted for Ikea cabinets so she could spend more on heavy-use kitchen features that take a licking, like:
She spent about $4,000 on the cabinets; the custom and big-box store estimates she received were more than twice that price.
2. You’re not sacrificing quality.Ikea cabinets are typically made out of the same materials (medium-density fiberboard and melamine) as others that cost two to three times the price, says Kim, who writes the blog “Meet the Woodwards.”
They’re not “heirloom quality,” she says, but she’s impressed by how well her cabinets have held up after a year of daily wear and tear.
3. They come with a limited, 25-year warranty.That doesn’t beat the lifetime warranty that some cabinetmakers offer, but it’s not too shabby. In addition, various bloggers say the warranty is transferable so long as you keep the original receipt and warranty literature. We called a random customer service rep who also said the warranty is transferable.
There aren’t a lot of shortcuts here. The blogger behind “The L.A. Lady” says 80% of her time was spent planning her kitchen renovation as opposed to assembly and install.
1. You have to accurately measure your entire kitchen, including appliances and water and gas connections. Measurement mistakes can drive up your remodeling costs if you need to hire someone to make things fit properly.
2. Before you buy, you must use Ikea’s 3D kitchen planner, so the retailer can track all the cabinets and parts you’ll need based on your design.
This video provides an overview of the process:
If you have time to juggle multiple suppliers and you want to add your personal touch to the design, you can customize the cabinets with non-Ikea parts. There’s a cottage industry of manufacturers and custom cabinetmakers who specialize in cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and panels for Ikea cabinet boxes. Some examples we found:
Semihandmade on Vimeo.
Ikea kitchen cabinets were designed to DIY, but we think you’ll want a pro at some point.
Measuring. As we mentioned, you’ll need to account for everything in the space, including uneven floors or walls. If you’re not keen on that, Ikea can measure your space for about $250 in most areas. If you buy an Ikea kitchen, the retailer will refund the measuring fee.
Assembly and installation. Ikea supplies printed instructions and videos that break down the assembly and install process. So how doable is it? Depends on how big your job is, our research shows:
A better way to go based on a consensus from DIYers: Assemble the cabinets yourself and let a pro install them. Blogger Lindsay, from” Aubrey and Lindsay,” went this route when her contractor quoted her $100 per cabinet for assembly. Make sure the contractor you hire — whether Ikea’s or your own — will install cabinets he didn’t assemble; some won’t.
How long does it take to assemble the cabinets? On average, it should take two adults around eight hours to put together 10 cabinets, according to experienced and inexperienced DIYers.
To get a realistic view of the assembly and installation process, watch this video:
The bottom line: You can find designers and contractors who specialize in Ikea kitchens to cover everything from measurement and design to purchasing and installation. Search online using terms like “Ikea kitchen designers” and “Ikea kitchen installation” for your area. Then use ratings and review sites and check references.
1. If you plan to DIY, consult a pro to address potential problems before you start the remodeling process.
2. If you’re on the fence about working with a contractor, this might tip you over: They work faster than non-pros and are better problem solvers.
3. Know that Ikea uses local contractors to install cabinets, and warranties their work for five years.
Selling, a famous salesman once said, is essentially a transfer of feelings.
You love and cherish your home. You want the next owner to fall in love with it, too — through photos, through words, and through the experience of walking through your front door. But, perhaps most, you want to get the price you want.
This isn’t a small task. Selling a home requires work. It requires time. The journey isn’t always easy. There will be frustrations. But when you seal the deal and move on to your next chapter — wow, what a blissful, boss feeling.
Below, we preview and link to each step in your journey. We’ll discuss how to know what you want (and what your partner wants, if you’re selling together). How to understand the market, and ways to make a plan. And most importantly? How to create relationships with experts and trust them to help you get the job done.
Now, let’s talk about selling your house.
Jump to a specific home selling step using these links:
Know What You Want | Do Your Research | Interview and Select an Agent | Price Your Home | Prep Your Home for Sale | Market Your Home | Showcase Your Home | Receive Offers | Negotiate With the Buyer | Negotiate Home Inspection Repairs | Close the Sale
First things first: You need to know what you want (and what your partner wants) in order to sell your home with minimum frustration. Why are you moving? What do you expect from the process? When, exactly, should you put that For Sale sign in the yard? We can help you get your thoughts in order with this home selling worksheet.
Unless you bought your home last week, the housing market changed since you became a homeowner. Mortgage rates fluctuate, inventory shifts over time — these are just a few of the factors that affect the state of the market, and every market is unique. Educate yourself on what to expect. Start with our study guide on the market.
Related Topic: Sell a Home: Step-by-Step
This is the most important relationship you’ll form on your home selling journey. Pick the right agent and you’ll likely get a better sales price for your house. Here’s how to find and select the expert who’s right for you.
How much is your home worth? That’s the … $300,000 question. Whatever the number, you need to know it. This is how your agent will help you pinpoint the price.
Today, home buyers have unfettered access to property listings online, so you have to make a great first impression — on the internet and IRL. That means you’ll have to declutter all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years, make any necessary repairs, and get your home in swoon-worthy condition. Here’s how to stage your home.
Home buyers look at countless listings online. The best-marketed homes have beautiful photos and compelling property descriptions, so they can get likes — which can amount to buyer interest — on social media. Some agents are even using videos, virtual tours, texts, and audio messages. It’s time to consider how to promote your property.
One of the best ways to get buyers in the door is to have an open house. This is your chance to show off your home’s best assets, and help buyers envision themselves living there. Know how your agent will organize, advertise, and host the event to ensure it’s a success.
Yes, you might get offers plural, depending on your market. Assuming you’ve collaborated with your agent, you’ve likely positioned yourself to receive attractive bids. Your agent will review each offer with you to determine which is best for you. (Read: The offer price isn’t the only factor to consider: Here’s why.)
To get the best deal for you, you’ll likely have to do some negotiating. Your agent will help you craft a strategic counteroffer to the buyer’s offer, factoring in not only money, but contingencies, etc. Let’s talk about how to ask for what you want.
Ah, the home inspection. It’s as much a source of anxiety for buyers as it is for sellers. Nonetheless, most purchase agreements are contingent on a home inspection (plus an appraisal, which will be managed by the buyer’s lender). This gives the buyer the ability to inspect the home from top to bottom and request repairs — some even could be required per building codes. The upshot: You have some room to negotiate, including about certain repairs. Once again, your agent will be there to help you effectively communicate with the buyer.
Settlement, or closing, is the last step in the home selling process. This is where you sign the final paperwork, make this whole thing official, and collect your check. Before that can happen though, you’ll have to prepare your home for the buyer’s final walk-through and troubleshoot any last-minute issues. We’ve got you covered with this closing checklist.
Ahhhh, that sensation of stepping onto a freshly-mowed lawn sans footwear. There’s nothing like it. Especially when you realize that a lawn you love is also one that’ll pay you back when you sell.
A well-maintained lawn almost always returns 100% or more of your investment.
Here are lawn care tips and a schedule to ensure you’ve got a lush lawn from spring to fall.
Like so many maintenance jobs, everything goes smoother — and you’ll get better results — with proper preparation. Early spring is the time to get ready for lawn-growing and mowing season.
Sharpen mower blades to ensure clean cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens.
Sharpen mower blades once each month during grass-cutting season. Have a backup blade (about $20) so that a sharp one is always on hand.
Tune up your mower with a new sparkplug ($3 to $5) and air filter ($5 to $10). Your mower might not need a new sparkplug every season, but changing it is a simple job, and doing it every year ensures you won’t forget the last time you replaced your sparkplug.
Buy fresh gas. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol, so use regular grades of gasoline.
If you need to dump old gasoline, ask your city or county for local disposal sites that take old fuel.
Clean up your lawn. Time to get out the leaf rakes and remove any twigs and leaves that have accumulated over the winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris clears the way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.
Depending on your weather, your grass will now start growing in earnest, so be ready for the first cutting. Don’t mow when the grass is wet — you could spread diseases, and wet clippings clog up lawn mowers.
Fertilizing: Both spring and fall are good times to fertilize your lawn. In the northern third of the country, where winters are cold, fertilize in fall — cool weather grasses go dormant over winter and store energy in their roots for use in the spring.
For the rest of the country, apply fertilizer just as your grass begins its most active growth. For best results, closely follow the application directions on the product. You’ll spend about $50 to $75 per application for an average 1/4-acre lot.
Aeration: Aerating punches small holes in your lawn so water, fertilizers, and oxygen reach grass roots. Pick a day when the soil is damp but not soaked so the aeration machine can work efficiently.
Related: More About Lawn Aeration
Pre-emergent herbicides: Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking root in your lawn. A soil thermometer is a handy helper; you can pick one up for $10 to $20. When you soil temperature reaches 58 degrees — the temperature at which crabgrass begins to germinate — it’s time to apply the herbicide.
Watch out for grubs: Warm weather means that grub worms, the larvae stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, start feeding on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns show browning and wilting patches.
To be certain that the culprits are grubs, pull back the sod and look for white, C-shaped grubs. If you see more than 10 per square foot, your lawn should be treated with a chemical pesticide.
Milky spore is an environmentally friendly way to control some species of grubs. When using insecticides, read and follow all label directions, and water the product into the soil immediately. Cost is around $50 to $75 per application.
Grass-cutting tip: Your grass is starting to grow fast, and you might even be cutting more than once a week to keep up. To keep grass healthy, mow often enough so you’re removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.
Pesky weeds: Weeds that have escaped an herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork. Use a post-emergent herbicide only if you think the situation is getting out of hand.
Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.
With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:
Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.
If your grass seems to be stressed out, check out our advice on what to do if your lawn is turning brown.
The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps. Follow these simple steps:
Your main job in fall is to keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. You can use a mulching mower to break up leaves and add the organic matter to your soil, but be sure to clean up any clumps so they don’t kill the grass.
In the northern one-third of the country, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Your grass will store the nutrients in its roots as it goes dormant over the winter, and your lawn will be ready for a jump start when spring warms the ground.
This is also the time to clean up your garden.
Everything has value. Especially your home.
And when it comes to selling your home, assigning a price to that value is complicated. You made memories there. You’ve got a major financial interest in the place, too.
Buyers think of value, but they’re more concerned with price. And your home’s price is one of its most attractive — or unattractive — features. The right price can 3 weeks. That’s the median time on market nationally for home listings, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Your market may be different. Talk to your agent.attract buyers, quickly . The wrong price may mean the house sits on the market, which can create the vibe among buyers that there’s something wrong it. (If the home buying process is Instagram, think of a wrongly priced home as a photo that isn’t getting any likes.)
It’s your agent’s job, as the real estate expert — mining his or her expertise and knowledge of the market — to determine the best price for your home. But it’s your house. You need to have your own idea of how much your property is worth. Here’s how to get it.
This is crucial. Your agent brings the right mix of industry expertise and knowledge of your local market to the table.
To understand whether your agent is pricing your home properly, read through each of the steps below. Use what you learn about your home’s fair market price to evaluate any price your agent recommends.
Throughout the pricing process, a good agent will:
You’re a team. It’s in both of your interests to price your home correctly — a timely, profitable sale is win for everyone.
Pricing a home is both art and science. To understand what will inform your agent’s pricing decisions — and to be prepared to bring your own educated input to the conversation — start with a pricing research phase.
This includes taking advantage of online estimating tools — but only to an extent. Property websites like realtor.com® and Redfin enable you to plug in your home’s address to see approximately how much your house is worth. They base their estimates on your home’s square footage and real estate data they’ve collected, such as recent home sales in your local market.
But those results are estimates based on generalized factors, not your unique situation. If at any point the price you see in an online calculator doesn’t align with what your agent suggests, prioritize the agent’s advice.
Online estimators also have a reputation among real estate professionals for misleading buyers and sellers alike with less-than-optimal pricing information. But as a starting point, they have their utility.
Related Topic: Sell a Home: Step-by-Step
What your home’s listing price should be largely depends on what similar homes, or “comps,” recently sold for in your area. To price your home, your agent will run the average sales prices of at least three comps to assess your home’s value.
What constitutes a comp? A number of factors, including a home’s:
Agents will look into the difference between each comp’s listing price, and the price it sold for. He or she will consider price reductions and why they happened, if relevant. All the while, your agent will also rely on inside knowledge of housing stock and the local market. That nuanced understanding is invaluable, particularly when measuring the unique aspects of your home with raw data about comps.
When selecting comps, agents generally look for properties that sold within a one-mile radius of your home, and in the past 90 days. They find these homes using the multiple listing service (MLS), a regional database of homes that agents pay dues to access.
In addition to recently sold homes, your agent will also look at properties that are currently for sale in your area. These listings will be your competition. But because listing photos don’t always tell the full story, a good agent will check out these homes in person to see what condition they’re in and to assess how your home sizes up.
You can do the same. For additional perspective, you can also get in touch with your local association of REALTORS®. Ask if they have information to offer about your neighborhood and the local market.
The housing market where you live can greatly impact your pricing strategy.
If you’re in a seller’s market, where demand from buyers outpaces the number of homes for sale, you may be able to price your home slightly higher than market value.
But if you’re in a buyer’s market, where buyers have the advantage, you may have to price your home slightly below market value to get people interested.
You can see local market trends by checking the online resource realtor.com®. It offers charts that display important housing market data, such as a city’s average listing price, median sales price, and average days a home is on market. It’s a lot of information. At any point, you can ask your agent to help you make sense of how your local market will influence your home’s price.
As previously mentioned, many sellers think theirIf you overprice to test the waters… well, don’t. The wrong price will delay your sale, and some agents say the fresh factor wanes after 30 days. home is worth more than it is. Why? Because memories. Because sentiment. Because pride.
But you have to stay objective when assessing your home’s value. Buyers, after all, won’t know your home’s personal history. What makes your home special to you may not be something that entices them. Read: They may want to convert that craft room you worked so hard to perfect into a man cave.
The lesson: As much as possible, set aside your emotional attachment to your home. It will make it easier to accept your agent’s realistic, clear-eyed calculation of its price.
As you and your agent are talking price, the local market may throw you a curveball or two.
In some markets, for example, it could make sense to price your home slightly below its fair market value to spark a bidding war.
Of course, there’s no guarantee a pricing strategy such as this will pay off. Similarly, there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook. Your home should be priced for its own local, or even hyper-local, market. Period. Confer with your agent before you decide to try any market-specific pricing tactics.
Pricing your home requires careful attention. In some cases, fair market value may not be precisely what you should list it for — and the reasons can be subtle.
For example, if comps show that your home is worth $410,000, setting that as your asking price can backfire — the reason is that buyers who are looking online for properties under $400,000 won’t see your home in search results in that case. This explains why many agents use the “99” pricing strategy and, for example, list $400,000 homes for $399,000. The idea is to maximize exposure.
Not the sole decision maker in your household? Talk to your partner about your home’s price before it’s listed. You can use this worksheet as a guide for that discussion.
The reason isn’t just to foster the kind of open communication that’s important to any relationship. It’s that if you’re not on the same page about price or the other things that are important to you about sale, each subsequent step of the selling process will be impacted by that tension.
You’ve considered your agent’s advice, and the two of you have agreed on the right price for your home. Hey, champ! Your house is on the market.
Even after the listing date, price should be an ongoing discussion between you and your agent. Markets are fluid, so it’s possible that you’ll have to make tweaks.
In any case, it’s important to to stay in continuous dialogue with your agent, the MVP of Team Sell Your House. Together, keep your eyes on the price.