What to Know Before Renovating a BasementA basement renovation can increase a home's value anywhere from 15 to 20 percent, according to a recent article in Market Watch. Needless to say, it isn't surprising to head that many Chicago area families are interested in completing a basement renovation in the near future.

However, before you decide to undergo a basement renovation yourself, it is important to consider the ways in which you can maximize value. Consider these 3 tips from John Gutman, vice president of sales and acquisitions at MACK Estates, as recently posted in Market Watch (where you can read three more).

Make it water-tight

Many Chicago area homeowners experienced basement flooding this summer (and some experienced costly damages from this flooding). To ensure your remodel doesn't go to waste, it is important to make sure your basement is water tight. Install a sump pump with a back-up battery in the event of a power outage.  Gutman also recommends this:

If you are redoing the basement flooring, take the time to install drain pipe in the floor along the entire perimeter of the basement walls to catch leaking water and pump it to the sump pump. There’s nothing worse than making your space look perfect, only to have it destroyed by water damage because you didn’t take this extra step.

Keep access panels accessible

5 Steps That Will Help Sell Your HomeIf it has come time to sell your home, it can help to have a good grasp for the process that lies ahead of you. Working with a highly qualified real estate professional, here is the home buying process you'll experience, broken down in to 5 steps by Zillow Blog.

Before you begin, find a professional real estate agent

This is a critical part of beginning your home buying process, as your real estate agent will act as your personal negotiator throughout the process. You'll want to work with an agent that is responsive to your needs, with a solid background of successful transactions, as you will want them to be in prime form to represent your interests. Demand these things of your agent from the beginning, as they will help determine their workability in this process.

Step 1: Determine your home's market value

Many homeowners are able to begin the selling process with a good idea of the value of their home, but before you venture onto the market, you'll want to work with your real estate agent to determine your home's actual value based on the current state of the market.

This is a perfect time to have your agent physically visit your property and complete a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Even if you aren't sure you're ready to sell, this will help engage you in the process and provide you useful information to move forward when you are ready.

Make sure you're talking to your realtor about the value of your home in comparison to active competition, as opposed to competition that has already gone off of the market. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Step 2: Assess the condition of your home

How to Win a Home Bidding WarBidding wars are a common occurrence here in the Chicago area market. They occur when multiple parties put in an offer on a single property more-or-less at the same time.

When this occurs, it is important that you have a solid strategy in place to put you in the best position to win a bidding war. Here are the steps you can take when faced with a multiple bidding scenario.

Have your agent establish a relationship with the listing agent - What is important to the sellers?

A multiple bid situation is a great time for your agent to establish a good relationship with the listing agent. Have your agent figure out what it is that is important to the sellers.

Often, money is not always the only important aspect of the transaction. The seller could have interest in an expedited closing process with ensured move-in upon closing, or maybe they will need to be able to live in the property for a number of months as a contingency. Identifying and appealing to these interests is a great way to get ahead of the competition.

The best way to find out what's important to the seller...? Ask!  It's in everyone's best interest.

Begin your bid with a fantastic cover sheet

Much like you would when applying for a job application, providing a cover letter along with your bid is a great way to communicate with the sellers.

Your cover letter is a way to appeal to the seller's interests in a written form, and add a personalized element to your transaction. The letter identifies you as more than just a bid number, but a genuinely interested and caring buyer willing to make the process as simple as possible for the seller.

Sellers like to feel good about the people who will be moving in there after them. Market Watch suggests adding a personalized element to your letter, such as attaching a photo of your family, can prove effective:

One buyer wrote about how a child’s bedroom in the home—with markings on the wall that chronicled the kid’s growth in height—was something that she wanted to replicate as her own child grew up.

Increase your earnest money

Should Sellers Advertise Their Properties?Advertising is King!?

Sellers generally ask the question, "What is it that we need to to in order to get our home to sell quickly?"  They ask "where do you advertise our listing?"  The short answer is "just about everywhere online." But, the bigger question is why do we advertise listings? And the real answer is that it is primarily because our clients expect us to, and their competition is doing it too. In truth, it has limited value.

Before the advent of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), sellers and their brokers would take out advertisements as a means to attract buyers. Ads would be in the newspaper, weekly flyers, and in windows. Without advertisements, prospective buyers wouldn't know you were for sale, unless they walked directly past it, or their real estate agent had direct knowledge of the property.

This is no longer an issue.

The invention of the MLS

The development of the MLS has drastically changed the need for listing advertisements. The MLS instantly displays a property once it hits the market, alerting agents and clients of those agents alike of your property (should it fit a prospective homebuyer's search criteria). Yes, instantly.

Your property hits inboxes everywhere, the second it goes on the market, and absolutely anyone can use the MLS to locate your property if it falls within their search terms. All they need to do is ask an agent who is subscribed to the MLS (hint: every serious agent.)

"But what about buyers who aren't yet working with an agent?"

Real Group Real Estate

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