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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Improving the value of your home with bamboo flooring

If you are looking to increase the value of your home, replacing old carpets or tile with a beautifully laid bamboo floor will certainly help. And if your home isn’t up for resell and you just want to have beautiful flooring, using bamboo is an elegant and affordable way to go.

Bamboo flooring may only be a little over ten years old, but its beauty and environmental factors have spoken for itself. And, floor experts have discovered that bamboo is actually harder than hardwoods such as Maple and Oak. Not only that, bamboo is extremely eco-friendly, and stands up the look, feel, sound, and warmth of its hardwood peers.

When we think of bamboo, we see reeds of tall grasses growing in tropical locations. So how does a grass become transformed into a wood floor? For starters, only a particular type of Bamboo is used, most often the Moso variety. Once Moso poles reach 40 to 50 feet in height, they are harvested and dried. The drying process is slow, typically four years in the sun. The bamboo is then sliced into thin uniform strips and planed on all sides. The pieces are converted into flooring made of either two or three layered horizontal or vertical laminated pieces. Bamboo can either be nailed to a wood subfloor or glued directly to a concrete sub-floor. Floating is not recommended. There is a variety of moldings made available as well to hide expansion gaps and for staircases.

Bamboo flooring comes in a variety of colors. Pretreated, coloring choices are natural and smoky amber. If the product comes to the states untreated, stains can vary from pinks to a variety of browns. Because bamboo is a grass rather than a tree, its finished appearance is very distinctive. Most distinctive is the eye-catching pattern of slightly darker bands produced by its nodes – a feature that clearly sets it apart from wood. Bamboo’s other aesthetic features include the tightness of its grain and the uniformity of its color.

These untreated and stained pieces of bamboo flooring are then given a final coating, typically made up of an aluminum oxide and polyurethane scratch-resistant topcoat. Coatings can be matte or glossy, with glossy tending to scratch more easily than matte.

Bamboo’s popularity has continued to grow with its discovery. The fact that it is a grass, a quickly renewable resource that yields a product 25 times faster than timber, has been of primary interest to the environmentally conscious. The beauty is an added bonus. With the cost of bamboo equivalent to oak flooring, it isn’t hard on the pocketbook either. Bamboo is also easy to clean and considered ideal for allergy sufferers, as they do not harbor dust mites.

When cleaning bamboo, a soft touch is best to prevent minute scratches on the surface. A padded cleaning head on your vacuum cleaner or a damp mop is most appropriate. This method will keep dust and debris from accumulating and scratching your bamboo floor. You should also take care never to over wet your bamboo floor. While it is resistant to moisture due to its tropical origins, it is best to minimize moisture exposure to help preserve the material. Mop spills using a damp cloth and dry immediately.

Putting area rugs on pathways that may experience high traffic. This keeps the bamboo floor from scuffing due to the high amount of traffic in a certain area. To prevent dirt and other debris from coming onto the floor from the outside, place exterior mats in entryways. Gravel and debris stuck in the bottom of shoes may scratch the finish of your bamboo floor.

If you have pets, remember to regularly trim your pets' nails to prevent them from scratching and gouging the bamboo floor. And of course, when moving furniture from one place to another, lift them instead of dragging them along the floor.

So if you are ready to transform the look of your home, putting in bamboo flooring will give you a huge start.

Greg Sullivan is the President of, a leading provider of home appraisals offering a nationwide personalized instant home appraisal service. For more information, please visit

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fee VS. Free AVM Reports

What's the difference between free home value reports and AVM reports provided by

Don´t be misled by companies promising automated values for free - they often come with a hidden price. Your information can be collected and given to people interested in selling you something! offers you a "hassle free" report. Your information is private and secure!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Seven tips for sellers from "The Today Show"

As seen on "The Today Show" Friday 12/14/2007.

Our first report recommends seven tactics for selling a home more quickly, at a higher price. What matters most of course is the home itself, not how it is sold. But we still believe that these tactics can yield a small but significant improvement in a home-seller's results. We also hope that sharing with consumers, academics and industry peers will open a dialogue about which tactics work and which don't.

You can read the full report Seven Tactics for Selling a Home, or visit our forum to ask the authors a question.

1. Don't overprice your property: Once a property fails to sell at its debut price, the time it spends on the market can encourage buyers to become more aggressive in negotiating. Price reductions can further encourage aggressive bargaining. In a 2002 study of 3,490 Stockton, California listings, homes without a price reduction sold for 97% of initial list price, whereas homes with a price reduction sold for 88% of initial list price, a difference likely greater than the actual magnitude of the price reduction.

2. Set your price to show up in web searches: Seventy-two percent of California home buyers use the Internet as "an important part of the home-buying process." The real estate sites used by home buyers typically filter price in $25,000 or $50,000 increments, so a home selling for $350,000 is likely to be seen significantly more than a home selling for $355,00 because the $355,00 home will be excluded by buyers who set $350,000 as their maximum price. According to a September 2007 Redfin analysis of its own traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle markets, moving from one price band down to the next can increase online activity by as much as 7.1%. Download the graphs for the Seattle area and for the San Francisco Bay region.

3. Debut on Friday: According to a December 2007 analysis of Redfin's website traffic for 119,079 listings, homes that debut on the best day, Friday, get on average 7.7% more visitors in their first seven days than those that debut on the worst day, Thursday.

4. Stay engaged: Several studies emphasize the importance of being an informed, active home-seller. The study most to the point, a 1998 survey of 115 sellers in Columbus, Ohio, found that motivated sellers are able to sell their property as much as 30% faster than typical sellers. Motivated sellers may be more willing to bargain, but the authors also speculate that such sellers motivate agents to be more aggressive on their behalf.

5. Market the property online: A December 2007 Redfin study of 121 of its own listings from September 1, 2007 to November 30, 2007 found that a craigslist posting about a listing generated an average of 6.8 visits to that listing on Redfin's website. That each visitor navigates from craigslist to Redfin to see the listing in detail suggests that many may be serious potential buyers.

6. When selling your home, stay put: The pricing study of 3,490 Stockton listings found that vacant homes were 9.5% more likely to undergo a price reduction, which the author speculated was the result of a perception among buyers that the owners were anxious to sell.

7. If you can, wait to list your property until neighboring foreclosures are off the market: A November 13, 2007 report from the Center for Responsible Lending estimates that a foreclosure costs neighboring homeowners an average of $5,000 when listing their property. The banks selling foreclosed properties are often eager to sell at any price. If you can't wait to list your property until any neighboring foreclosures are off the market, you will have to account for the effect of the foreclosures in your own pricing.

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