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Get Asking Price For Your Home!

How to Get Your Asking Price as the Housing Market Improves

Posting the first annual increase in five years, home values rose slightly over this time last year, reports Zillow, the online real estate site.  This is good news for homeowners who have been waiting to put their houses on the market. Before you do, a few simple spruce-ups can help get your asking price.

“The housing market’s recovery continues to show tremendous variation market by market. Sixty-nine of the 157 markets covered by the Zillow Home Value Forecast are expected to see increases in home values over the next year, with the largest increases expected in the Phoenix metro (9.9 percent) and the Miami metro (6.1 percent),” said Zillow on its website. “We believe that 96 out of the 157 markets have already hit a bottom in home values, including Boston, Miami and Phoenix.”

Improve the view. No matter where you live, it pays to keep your home well-maintained. Curb appeal is the first thing to consider. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Look at your entryway. Is the paint peeling or faded? Are your shrubberies overtaking the sidewalk? Take the time to scrape away any old paint and apply a new coat. Sherwin-Williams Duration Gloss, our top-rated semi-gloss is the only one in our exterior paint tests that has a primer built-in. After the equivalent of nine years’ worth of exposure, the Sherwin-Williams was still looking very good and would be a good choice for painting a front door.

Whack the weeds. As for that overgrown walkway, a capable string trimmer can help you vanquish the vines and weeds in no time. In Consumer Reports’ string trimmer tests, the top-rated gas models were best at slicing through tall grass and weeds. But if you don’t like the hassle of a gas-powered unit, several light duty electric models, including the Homelite UT41110, at $30 a CR Best Buy, were very good or better at this job.

Neutralize garish rooms. Sprucing up the paint inside the house also makes your home more attractive, especially if you’ve painted some rooms bright colors that might not appeal to the average buyer. The best course of action is to choose white, off-white or another neutral color. “Safe colors like this will appeal to most people, increasing the odds that your home will sell,” advises the Paint Quality Institute. And it’ll cost you well under $100. Check our top-rated interior paints for the best choices.

Brighten the bathroom. Outdated kitchens and bathrooms are typically the chief complaint of prospective home buyers. But you don’t have to invest in an entire remodel to improve their appearance. Here again paint can do wonders but so can replacing the countertops, sink or floor. Bathrooms have replaced kitchens as the most remodeled room in the home because they tend to be smaller and you don’t have to buy all those appliances. As we reported in our Bathroom remodeling guide, small details can make a big difference. Stain-resistant grout, framed mirrors and a heated towel bar are just some ideas.

Kick the kitchen up a notch. For the kitchen, you don’t need a bottomless budget to get a top-notch kitchen. In the luxury look for less, we suggest top-rated affordable alternatives to pricey appliances, countertops, flooring and more. But be forewarned, poor planning and shoddy workmanship are two of the costliest mistakes homeowners make when undertaking a remodeling project. If you’re about to embark on one, best to invest a few months going to showrooms and talking to professionals.

Cities Where Paychecks Stretch the Furthest

When we think of places with high salaries, big metro areas like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco are usually the first to spring to mind. But wages are just one part of the equation: High prices in those East and West Coast cities mean the fat paychecks aren’t necessarily getting the locals ahead. When cost of living is factored in, most of the places that boast the highest effective pay turn out to be in the less celebrated and less expensive middle part of the country.

No. 1: Houston

In first place is Houston, where the average annual wage in 2011 was $59,838, eighth highest in the nation. What puts Houston at the top of the list is the region’s relatively low cost of living, which includes such things as consumer prices and services, utilities and transportation costs and, most important, housing prices: The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9, remarkably low for such a dynamic urban region; in San Francisco a house goes for 6.7 times the median local household income. Adjusted for cost of living, the average Houston wage of $59,838 is worth $66,933, tops in the nation.

No. 2: Silicon Valley

Only two expensive metro areas made the top 10 list. One is Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), where the average annual wage last year of $92,556, the highest in the nation, makes up for its high costs, which includes the worst housing affordability among the 51 metro areas we considered: housing prices are nearly 7 times the local median income. Adjusted for cost of living, that $92,556 paycheck is worth $61,581, placing the Valley second on our list.

No. 3: Detroit area

One major surprise is the metro area in third place: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. This can be explained by the relatively high wages paid in the resurgent auto industry and, as reported earlier, a huge surge in well-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs. Combine this with some of the most affordable housing in the nation and sizable reductions in unemployment — down 5% in Michigan over the past two years, the largest such drop in the nation.

The rest

Most of the rest of the top 10 are relatively buoyant economies with relatively low costs of living. These include Memphis (fourth), Dallas-Fort Worth (fifth), Charlotte, N.C. (sixth), Cincinnati (seventh), Austin, Texas (eighth), and Columbus, Ohio (10th). These areas all also have housing affordability rates below 3.0 except for Austin, which clocks in at 3.5. Similar situations down the list include such mid-sized cities as Nashville (11th), St. Louis (12th), Pittsburgh (13th), Denver (15th) and New Orleans (16th).

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