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Buy a Home | 2 Posts
Sell a Home | 1 Posts
September
8

How To Sell Your Home Despite Those Problem Neighbors

You've scrubbed every surface, trimmed the hedges to perfection, and baked some cookies to make your home smell warm and inviting, but there's a problem.

Every time someone comes to view the house you're trying to sell, the first thing they notice is the unkempt mess next door. 

If you're selling your home, you have enough to worry about without adding troublesome neighbors to the mix, but sometimes life just isn't fair. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can smooth things out with your neighbors and get back to more important things — like selling your home.

  • Be Nice, But Firm
    When bringing a complaint to your neighbor's attention, it's always best to start out by being calm and friendly but also firm. Approach your neighbors as if they have no idea that they're causing a problem, and work from there to find a solution.

    Taking legal action should never be anything but a last resort, partly because it can make your relationship with your neighbors even tenser, but also because courts seldom provide a timely solution. You don't want to be tied up in legal wranglings for months while your house sits on the market.

  • Noise Problems
    Noise complaints are the most common problems that cause tension between neighbors. Again, set out with a friendly demeanor, and assume that your neighbors haven't realized how much of a headache they've been causing. Stop by and have a chat about the issue, and offer to work together to reach a solution.

    Visit again if the noise continues to be a problem. If the noise persists, follow up with a written warning (in as friendly a manner as possible). You might also want to enclose a copy of the local noise ordinance. Threaten legal action only as a last resort if the written warning doesn't work.

  • Upkeep Issues
    When your neighbors don't take care of their property, it doesn't show your house in the best light. In this case, you do have another option if a friendly request to make improvements doesn't generate any results.

    This problem can often be alleviated by offering your own services to clean up the neighbor's property. If you don't have the time to tackle it yourself, offer to have a professional come by to cut the grass, pack up any trash, and generally make your neighbors' property a little easier on the eyes.

  • Full Disclosure
    If there's a problem with your neighbor, you may be wondering what your responsibility is when it comes to disclosing the issue to potential buyers. Obviously, you don't want to scare buyers away, but you most likely have a legal obligation to tell prospective buyers about ongoing disputes with neighbors. When in doubt, always disclose.

Selling your home is hard work, so don't let pesky neighbors hold you back. From noise problems to unruly lawns, patching things up with the folks next door will make the process of selling your home infinitely easier.

July
7

How Sellers Prepare For A Home Inspection

Getting ready for a home inspection is one of the more nerve-wracking things about selling your home. The good news is that you don't have to wait until after the inspection to fix some of the most common trouble spots.

There are certain spots in a home that every inspector will check. Focusing on these issues now is the best way to maximize your budget and your chance of a favorable inspection result.

  1. Address Electrical Issues
    Electrical systems are always an area of focus during home inspections as old or damaged wiring can present a significant safety hazard. You can take care of some of the simple stuff like replacing broken switch plates and making sure that all light bulbs are working. It's also a good idea to contact a trusted electrician for a full review of your electrical systems. Better to find and fix it now rather than learn about a problem on inspection day.

  2. Freshen Your Fireplace
    A fireplace can be a major attraction to homebuyers as long as it's clean, safe, and well-maintained. Staying on top of fireplace maintenance is always a good idea because an inspector will check it thoroughly. In addition to cleaning up, make sure your fireplace meets all relevant safety codes.

  3. Eliminate Mold and Mildew
    Mold and mildew in a home are enough to scare off most buyers before things even reach the stage of inspection. Scour bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and anywhere else mold might develop. You can find specially formulated cleaning products to deal with mold at most hardware stores. If you have a serious mold problem, it's worth calling in the pros to get the job done thoroughly.

  4. Fix Roof and Basement Leaks
    If you do have mold or mildew issues in your home, there's a good chance that leaks play a part. Roof and basement leaks are among the most common ways for water to enter the home and often cause significant damage before being detected. Have a professional contractor repair any leaks. It's an absolute must if you're preparing for inspection.

  5. Check Your Plumbing
    Leaks don't just come from the outside of the home and faulty plumbing is sure to draw the attention of any home inspector. Taking care of any leaks is the first priority, but it's also a good idea to make sure that your water systems are functioning at their best. Check that the water pressure is high and your water heater works properly.

Investing the time and resources to repair these problems now will save a lot of stress in the long run and will likely save you some money at closing time. Better yet, a positive inspection result puts you one step closer to turning your dreams of a home sale into a reality.

October
21

Rent-Back Agreements Explained

Buying and selling a home at the same time can be an intimidating experience. Lining up a buyer and a new home within a short timeframe requires tons of planning and a bit of luck. However, selling your home before closing on a new one doesn't mean you have to be left without a place to live. Sellers usually have a few different options to explore, including a rent-back agreement.

A rent-back agreement is a good way to buy yourself some extra time after a home sale. However, like most real estate negotiations, they come with benefits and risks. Below we'll explain everything you need to know about how these agreements work and why you might consider one:

What Is A Rent-Back Agreement?

A rent-back agreement is an arrangement that allows the seller to continue to live at a property as a tenant after the closing date. During this period, the buyer assumes the responsibility of a landlord. The purpose of a rent-back agreement is to give the seller extra time to find a place to live following the home sale.

The details of a rent-back agreement can be negotiated during the closing process. You'll need to work with the buyer to determine monthly payment, security deposit, agreement length, and utility responsibilities. The buyer's home insurance should cover the rent-back period. It's important to always consult with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney when negotiating the terms.

Rent-Back Agreements Can Have Many Benefits

Depending on the terms and situation, sellers can benefit from a rent-back agreement in a number of ways. For one, it can give you the flexibility to accept a strong offer before having a new home lined up. It can also give you more time to find your dream home as opposed to simply settling for a property out of necessity. 

Rent-back agreements can also be helpful if you have kids in school and would like them to finish out the school year before moving or changing districts. 

Rent-back agreements have obvious benefits for buyers too — as they can provide supplemental income that can help offset a small bit of the cost of the new home.

Disadvantages Of Rent-Back Agreements

Rent-back agreements are generally short, as most lenders only allow a rent-back period of 60 days. While the added time can be a huge benefit, it's not a long-term solution. During the rent-back period, sellers will need to abide by the lease terms set forth by the buyer.

The buyer will also need to assume the responsibility of the landlord. The arrangement may also be less appealing to buyers who are eager to move in quickly after closing.

The major risk of a rent-back agreement comes in the form of determining liability. Determining who has liability for damage or unforeseen circumstances is often part of the negotiation. Usually, the buyer's homeowners policy should cover the rent-back period; however, the seller may want to explore a short-term rental insurance policy to cover personal property.

Rent-back agreements are a common way for sellers to buy more time, but the true benefits will ultimately depend on your unique situation. Not all buyers will offer them, but sellers often have the leverage to ask for them in a hot market.

June
10

What Counts As A Bedroom?

The total number of bedrooms is an important selling feature of any home, so it's no wonder many homeowners are eager to transform extra rooms into bedrooms. But did you know there are actually legal definitions and coding requirements for bedrooms?

The number of bedrooms in your home can have a major impact on your home value and even your property taxes, so it's important to learn the rules on what rooms actually qualify. Remember, legal definitions can vary across states and municipalities, so always be sure to check on the requirements in your specific area. Below are several common requirements used to determine if a room qualifies as a bedroom:

  • Size Requirements
    The actual size requirements of a bedroom vary by location, but in many cases, the minimum requirement is between 70 and 80 square feet. If a room in your house is smaller than the minimum size requirement, you'll likely need to advertise it as a small office or closet. In addition to total square feet, your bedroom must also measure at least 7 feet horizontally.

    The height of the ceiling also matters — at least half of the ceiling must be higher than 7 feet. In other words, if your ceiling is slanted, which is common in lofts or attic spaces, make sure at least half of its area meets the minimum height requirement.

  • Exit Points
    Requirements in many locations specify that a bedroom should have two points of exit. While two doors may qualify in some cases, many places require at least one exit point be a window or skylight. To qualify as a bedroom, there must be two ways in which a person can exit the room to ensure safety in the event of a fire.

  • Window Size
    Many places have minimum size requirements for windows. A common rule is that the total glass area of the window be at least 8% of the floor. Windows also shouldn't be higher than 44 inches above the floor, and they must be at least 5.7 square feet to qualify.

  • Heating And Cooling
    Common in areas that experience hot summers or cold winters are heating and cooling requirements. To qualify in certain areas, bedrooms must be temperature controlled. This is especially common for master bedrooms. In most cases, the heat source needs to come from an HVACV system or furnace (space heaters and fireplaces don't qualify).

Remember, buyers love to imagine what they can do with extra space, so if you have a room that doesn't qualify as a bedroom, you can always get away with advertising it as an office or nursery. Even if it's not technically a bedroom, extra rooms are always a good selling point.

Turning extra rooms into bedrooms can be beneficial for numerous reasons, but always be sure to make sure your space meets the legal requirements in your area before labeling it a bedroom.

January
28

7 Tips for Attracting Millennial Buyers

Millennials — usually defined as being in their early 20s and approaching 40 — now represent more than a quarter of the U.S. population, and many of them are buying homes. In fact, they make up the largest share of home buyers at 38%.

If you're selling your home, you'll want to appeal to this large segment of home buyers. And it pays to keep in mind they can have different priorities compared to other homebuyer age groups.

Follow these 7 tips to help attract millennial homebuyers:

  1. Create a dedicated home office space.
    Since the pandemic began, working at home has dramatically increased, particularly for millennials. In fact, nearly half of this age group works from home. If you have a bonus room, appeal to millennials by staging a home office. Add some shelving, a desk, and ample lighting, and you'll have a workspace that will attract buyers in this demographic.
  2. Upgrade your yard and deck.
    Millennials want to personalize their homes with items like fire pits and decks that extend their living space. Spruce up your yard and build or expand a deck if needed, adding planters, seating, and other appealing amenities. Just make sure everything is low maintenance since millennial buyers don't want to spend a lot of time and effort where they could be spending that time enjoying the space instead.
  3. Appeal to their tech-heavy lifestyles.
    Technically is a major part of all our lives, and millennials especially want their home to reflect and enable that. Start by integrating practical technology like a smart doorbell and a programmable thermostat that can be linked to a smartphone. You'll also want to swap out some standard outlets in bedrooms, living rooms, and the kitchen with USBs for charging.
  4. Have your home in excellent condition.
    By the time they start looking for a home to buy, millennials have seen years of picture-perfect homes online and on TV. Although some buyers are willing to accept a less-than-shipshape home in exchange for a reduction in price, this is less true of millennials than it is of older buyers. It's unlikely that many millennials have the time to take on a fixer-upper, so the more move-in ready your home is, the better.
  5. Use neutral colors.
    Millennials tend to favor soft, light, neutral colors, so if you're painting your home, resist the temptation to go bold and choose these shades instead. Grays in particular have become popular, in addition to whitewashed variations of gray and creams.
  6. Aim for an open floor concept.
    Today's buyers are usually looking for an open floor plan in which the kitchen, dining, and living areas all flow together. If you're planning to renovate your home, consider hiring a contractor to break down walls and make other changes to make this happen. If this is beyond the scope of your time and budget, use the same type and color of flooring throughout these areas to create a cohesive look and make one room look as though it flows into the next.
  7. Use minimalist furnishings and decor.
    A highly personalized home stuffed with furniture and other belongings won't wow millennials. Instead, declutter and depersonalize your space and use minimalist furnishings. If you make any decor updates, look for clean lines and simple geometric designs for a modern look.

Millennials make up a large percentage of home buyers, so attracting them can help your home sell more quickly and for the best possible price. The key is knowing what they're looking for and making sure your home meets their needs and preferences.

January
7

Selling a Home in the Winter

Traditionally, spring is the most popular time to sell your home. In the winter, temperatures start to drop, people begin hunkering down, and home sellers see fewer buyers and lower offers. 

However, like most things last year, the real estate market continues to be different in 2021. In fact, cold temperatures are unlikely to put a damper on this hot seller's market! Low inventory, low-interest rates, and a rash of serious buyers who want to upgrade their homes as soon as possible have created the perfect situation for would-be sellers. 

While the odds are certainly in your favor right now, there are a few things you can do to help you get the most out of your winter home sale. Start with these six tips. 

  1. Get Your Pricing Right
    You might think the current economy would require you to price your home on the lower end, but that's not the case at all! In fact, listing prices have skyrocketed. Pent-up demand and a low inventory of homes for sale have combined to push home prices up. This means you're more likely to get offers at or above your asking price. It's always a good idea to work with a qualified real estate agent who can help you choose the perfect price point for your home before you list it. 
  1. Make Sure Your Home is Ready
    Most of today's buyers are looking for a move-in ready home. Few people are going to be excited about having to start a renovation or remodel in the middle of winter, so if you're looking to sell now, make sure your home is turn-key. If you can make some small repairs and upgrades before you list, it will improve your home value and justify a higher price. 
  1. Highlight In-Demand Features
    Buyers' needs have changed since life has shifted towards spending more time at home. Now, more than ever, people are looking for homes that have plenty of space, privacy, and flexibility. If your home has a great backyard or a room that can convert to a home office or classroom, make sure your real estate agent highlights these features both in the listing and during showings. 
  1. Provide Virtual Tours
    Many potential buyers are hesitant to visit a home in person unless they're already sure they love it. This means the virtual tour is now one of the most important tools for marketing your home. Finding an agent who is an expert at creating an online presence will help you attract more potential buyers and get better offers.
  1. Take Your Time
    The current market conditions make it likely that you'll receive multiple offers on your home, possibly even at the same time. For this reason, it's smart to take your time before accepting an offer. Usually, you'll have 24 to 48 hours before you have to reply. Jumping the gun too soon could result in you leaving a nice chunk of change on the table. 
  1. Plan on a Remote Closing
    It's in your best interest to keep everything as remote as possible, including the closing. Not only does a remote closing help you reduce contact, but it's also far faster and more convenient. Remote closings and the use of electronic signatures have become an accepted practice in almost every state now, so plan on taking advantage of this if you can. 

If you've been thinking about listing your home, now is the perfect time to do it. Follow these tips, and there's a good chance you'll have your home sold for a price you love before the spring flowers start to bloom.

December
17

How Home Equity Fuels Your Next Move

Selling your home is as much of a lifestyle decision as it is a financial decision. Like any other investment, you want to make sure that you're making financially responsible decisions every step of the way. One option that you have when selling your home is to use your current equity to finance your next move. Research shows that more and more homeowners are gaining equity in their homes regardless of state. By paying the equity in your current home towards purchasing a new home, you can achieve your real estate goals sooner than later.

What is Home Equity?

The equity in your home is its current value minus the remaining mortgage debt. As you pay your monthly mortgage, you grow the equity in your home. For instance, If you purchased your home for $200,000 using a mortgage loan and only have $50,000 remaining on the loan, your home equity is $150,000.

How Can I Use My Existing Equity?

As you consider selling your home, you likely already have another real estate goal in mind. Whether you're downsizing or purchasing a home for your growing lifestyle needs, you'll need to create a plan for how you're going to buy a new house. Instead of using your savings for another down payment, you can leverage the existing equity in your home to fund the purchase of your next home. There are a few ways that you can use your existing equity when selling your home:

  • You could use the existing equity as collateral for your next home.

As you search for a lender to secure a mortgage for a new home, they may allow you to use the existing equity in your current home as collateral. One advantage of this option is that many lenders will match the rate of your original mortgage.

  • You could use a cash-out refinance.

The option allows you to pocket the equity as cash to put towards the new home. Prior to selling your home, you may have refinanced your mortgage. This option works similarly, allowing you to use as much as 85 percent of the home's appraised value in equity.

  • You could take out a HELOC.

A HELOC, or a Home Equity Line of Credit, gives you a set balance that you can use as much as necessary. For instance, if your HELOC is for $20,000, you can choose to only use $10,000 of it. This is beneficial because you'll only pay interest on what you use, not the full amount.

  • You could finance all of your new home's purchase price with your equity.

A mortgage lender may allow you to accept a loan for 80 percent of the purchase price and then take out a home equity line of credit for the remaining 20 percent. After selling your home, you'll then use the profits to pay off that home equity line of credit.

Is using your equity to fund a new house purchase the right decision when selling your home? That depends on how much equity you have and how much you need to finance for a new home. Speak with your real estate agent to determine if leveraging your equity when selling your home is right for you.

December
3

Is Your House FHA-Friendly?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a valuable tool for homebuyers because it allows buyers with good credit to secure home loans with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent. It's important to keep this in mind when selling your home because around 30 percent of buyers rely on FHA loans to purchase a home and there are rules that govern what types of homes can be purchased with those loans. Is your house FHA-friendly? Making sure that it is will open the bidding to the many buyers who use FHA loans, and more potential buyers are always good news when selling your home.

  • Know Your Local FHA Loan Limits and Pick Your Price to Fit Them
    The first step in making your home FHA-friendly is making sure that you price it within FHA guidelines for your real estate market. Note that the right price for an FHA-friendly home can differ quite a bit, depending on where you're selling your home. In markets with high average home values, the corresponding FHA loan limits will also be significantly higher. The same thing is true in the other direction for markets with more modest average home values.

  • Prepare Your Home for Inspection and Address Major Maintenance Issues
    While the home inspection is an important consideration no matter who you're planning on selling your home to, it's an especially key factor for selling to FHA-approved buyers. The FHA won't approve a loan for a home with major issues like mold, structural damage, or roof leaks until those issues are addressed. So a home inspection that reveals those types of issues can really throw a wrench into the process.

    Avoid that problem by having major maintenance issues addressed before it's time for inspection, and you'll have an easier time selling your home. Even if you don't wind up selling to an FHA buyer, addressing those types of issues will make the home more appealing to any buyer.

  • Know the Rules of FHA Appraisals
    While the buyer has the option of also hiring their own appraiser to look at the home, the FHA relies only on the report from its own appraiser when making decisions. Simplify the process by making things easier for the FHA appraiser, and providing easy access to all parts of the home. FHA appraisers are thorough, so if you have an attic or crawlspace make sure that they can get there easily to take the necessary photos.

  • Offer to Help the Buyer with Closing Costs
    For FHA buyers, covering closing costs can often be the last major hurdle before purchasing a home, so offering to help with closing costs can make selling your home easier. The FHA allows sellers to cover up to 6 percent of the home's total sale price, in order to help buyers with closing costs.

  • Pick a Real Estate Agent Who Understands FHA Loans
    Choosing the right real estate agent is always a key consideration when selling your home, and an experienced agent should already have extensive knowledge of the FHA loan process. If you have any questions about making your home FHA-friendly in your market, rely on your real estate agent for accurate answers.

The steps to make your home FHA-friendly are relatively easy to handle for most sellers, and can open the bidding to 30 percent more buyers when selling your home. If you have any questions about selling your home within FHA guidelines, the right real estate agent can walk you through every step of the process.

November
25

Getting Real with the Deal: What You Need to Know About Lowball Offers

For many homeowners, the thought of selling your home for less than what you believe it's worth is unthinkable. After all, your goal is to try to make a profit or recoup the majority of your initial investment. Unfortunately, lowball offers are often part of the home selling process. There are many instances in which selling your home successfully will include accepting an offer that may not seem attractive at face value. Let's look at why buyers submit exceptionally low offers and when it may be beneficial for you to accept such a price when selling your home.

Why Buyers Submit Lowball Offers

When selling your home, entertaining multiple offers is a good problem to have. While the highest two or three offers will seem the most attractive, most homeowners will see the lowest offers as unattractive. Some will even consider any offer well-below asking price insulting. If we think a "lowball" offer is 20 to 50 percent lower than the listed asking price, it's no surprise why you would scoff at such a small amount when selling your home.

Why do buyers submit lowball offers? In many instances, it's likely a negotiation tactic that a buyer may assume will eventually lead to an accepted price that is still lower than asking price, ultimately helping them save money. Some men and women may submit a lowball offer on a home in a buyer's market hoping, hoping that they find a seller motivated enough to accept.

Lowball offers may present themselves when selling your home, and some may be better than they seem. Although most real estate agents will recommend avoiding lowball offers, many experienced and knowledgeable agents know how to spot a lowball offer that's a great deal.

When to Accept a Lowball Offer When Selling Your Home

Accepting a lowball offer may be unthinkable when selling your home, but in reality, there are many reasons why it's wise. When is it wise to accept a lowball offer when selling your home?

  • When the buyer offers other incentives, a low offer does not necessarily mean a low-value offer. Many buyers will compensate for a lower-than-listed offer by waiving contingencies, agreeing to a short sale, or by paying in cash. If you believe that these incentives can help you reach your real estate goals, it may be wise to accept this as the "better" deal than a slightly higher offer.

  • You need to move out of your current home ASAP. Relocating for work, moving before the school year starts, and having already closed on a new home are three of the many reasons why you may need to sell your home as soon as possible. If no other credible offers are received as swiftly as you need, you may find it advantageous to accept a lowball offer so you can move forward with your immediate plans.

  • Your offer is way too high. Whether your real estate agent is out of touch with the market, if your home needs significant improvements, or if your house is priced too high, your asking price may seem just as "insulting" as a lowball offer. A good agent will encourage you to accept a lower-than-asking price for a fair offer by a qualified buyer.

  • The offer isn't "lowball" at all. When faced with a lowball offer, you must first ask whether you're genuinely being "lowballed." Ten percent below the asking price may seem low, but in a buyer's market, it may be a fair offer that falls in line with other low offers.

While lowball offers may seem unattractive, they may be essential in successfully selling your home. When setting a price for your home, ask your real estate agent which lower-than-priced offers are acceptable to consider.

November
19

Should You Sell Your Home During the Holidays?

Selling your home? Wondering if it's a good idea to keep it going during the holidays?

The holidays can create some special challenges when you're selling your home.

Staging a home for sale often means you need to be thoughtful about decorations – drawing attention where needed without overwhelming would-be buyers. Sellers are usually advised to go easy on exterior lights and to stand ready for a tour right up until the last week of the year.

There are market challenges, too: Research has shown buyers looking for a deep discount have their best bet in December, which features some of the lowest average sale prices of the whole year. Sellers contend with a risk that staying on the market over the winter may cost them.

But does that mean selling your home is a no-go over the holidays?

  1. Many Sellers Will Leave the Market
    Inconvenience, rather than any financial factor, drives many sellers to put their plans on pause in November and December. As the housing stock gets smaller, your property has more of an opportunity to shine. In fact, you may even have the chance to attract multiple bids. That compares very favorably to spring and summer when markets move fast and buyers are flush with options.
  2. Buyers Are More Motivated
    Buyers have less to lose than sellers when it comes to waiting a month or two. However, that means only the most motivated buyers will be left in December. If you live in an area with harsh winter cold and snow, you're even more likely to meet mainly the buyers who are focused on getting a transaction done fast. That can make things easier for you, from negotiations to the closing process.
  3. Remote Marketing Helps You Maintain Momentum
    With the huge transformation real estate has undergone in 2020, selling your home is no longer reliant on in-person meetings. Virtual tours and showings have come into their own. With less travel to worry about, more buyers will stick with the process. Plus, all the effort you put into renovating and staging your home before the sale is still worthwhile. Your real estate agent will make sure your virtual tour shows off all the property's features.
  4. Your Whole Real Estate Team is Ready
    Getting to the closing day is a major undertaking. It requires experts: Home inspectors, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, title companies, lawyers, and many more. Luckily, many of these folks work extra hard to end the year on a high note. Since they are dealing with fewer customers on average in the winter, they can give your transaction more personal attention and get you where you need to go.
  5. Closing is Faster Than Ever Before
    Closing is the very last step in selling your home. Here, the buyer and seller get together one last time to sign important paperwork that transfers ownership of the property. In the past, this process has often taken hours. Nowadays, however, it can all be done in a small fraction of the time. With a so-called "drive-by closing," you may not even need to leave your car. And you still end the day with your proceeds in hand!

Selling your home during the holidays isn't right for everyone. If you have a busy holiday schedule or want to focus on other priorities, waiting might be the right move for you. Contact a trusted local real estate agent for guidance personalized to your situation.

November
12

Makeunder Your Home Before Listing it for Sale

When selling your home, it's wise to remember that potential buyers have different perceptions, tastes, and priorities than the owner of the property. No matter how much you love the decorations and personal items you have placed in your home, buyers want to be able to imagine what their lives would be like if they lived there. That's why a home makeunder – think the opposite of a makeover – is such an important step toward selling your home. By following the "less is more" philosophy, you make it easier for buyers picture what they would do with each space and ultimately help them fall in love.

  • Start By Clearing Out Clutter
    Before you can get busy enhancing the look of each room, you'll need to clear out some clutter. Start piles for items that you'll sell, store, give away, and discard. Then get to work clearing out any unnecessary clutter that has built up in your home. We're not talking about important personal items just yet – start with the easy stuff. In addition to helping buyers fall in love while selling your home, decluttering will also lighten your load when it's time to move.

  • Store Collections and Personal Items
    No matter how proud you are of your collections, hobbies, and personal items that make the house feel like home to you, those things won't make it feel like home for potential buyers when you're selling your home. These items can include family photos, sports memorabilia, religious decorations, and collections of all types. Now is the time to pack those items up, store them safely, and present buyers with a blank slate. You want buyers to walk into a room and start dreaming about how they would decorate it.

  • Touch Up Paint and Clean Empty Spaces
    With all of the newly opened space from your makeunder, you may notice marks on the wall, worn paint, or dusty shelves where items used to be. Invest some time in cleaning in any spaces where you removed clutter and touching up paint as needed. If you have a room with a bright, unusual color of paint or wallpaper, repainting it in a more neutral color can increase appeal to buyers when selling your home.

  • Clean and Depersonalize Furniture, Too
    Naturally, you'll still need the major pieces of furniture in your dining room, living room, and bedrooms while you're working on selling your home. Make that furniture look as appealing as possible by cleaning it thoroughly and polishing any wooden furniture like your dining room table. If a piece of furniture has a particularly bright color or pattern, consider a furniture cover in a neutral color instead to help bring the room together.

  • Bring in an Objective Eye to Help with Your Makeunder
    When you have lived in a home for a long time, and every item in the home has emotional meaning to you, it's not always easy to look at what stays or goes with an objective eye before selling your home. Having a friend, family member, your real estate agent, or a home staging pro assist with the process can help you see the home through new eyes.

Selling your home starts with understanding what buyers want and how to present your home in a way that helps them fall in love. Take the time to makeunder your home before listing it for sale, and you'll be one step closer to selling your home to a motivated buyer.

October
29

How to Sell Your Home When It's Not Selling

Selling your home can be a quick and smooth process; however, it can be an extended and somewhat frustrating process. Even in the best markets and after maximum preparation efforts, there can be instances in which a homeowner has trouble selling their property. If you're selling your home and it isn't moving, try these steps to move the sale forward.

  1. Postpone Your Sale
    Just because you're actively selling your home, it doesn't mean you can take a few steps back. Some factors outside of your control could delay your sale, such as trying to sell in an unfavorable market. 
  2. Temporarily Rent Your Home
    Even though the local market may not be right for selling your home, you could postpone selling and rent it instead. The rental market may be a more lucrative option and will allow you to strategize your home sale while making a monthly rental income. 
  3. Offer a Rent-to-Own or Lease
    If you're considering renting instead of selling your home, you could always offer a rent-to-own or lease option. Some buyers may be motivated to buy but face certain obstacles that prevent them from purchasing the home outright immediately. 
  4. Consider a Short Sale
    If selling your home is a goal you must meet by a specific deadline, opting for a short sale may be the quickest way to find success. Speak with a real estate attorney to see if this is an option for you.
  5. Investigate a Guaranteed Purchase Program
    If you're selling your home due to a relocation for work, ask your employer about a guaranteed purchase program. Some companies offer relocation programs in which they help you sell your home in various ways, such as buying it from you outright or offering to cover some of your costs.
  6. Conduct an Open House with Feedback
    Do you want to know why selling your home is taking so long? Ask prospective buyers! Conduct an open house and have your real estate agent follow up to gain feedback. This valuable insight may highlight the significant reasons why no one is putting in an offer.
  7. Make Necessary Investments
    If your home lacks certain amenities that other homes have or if it's in dire need of repairs and renovations, you may want to consider investing in these modifications to make the home more appealing.
  8. Sell Your Home Under Value
    Unfortunately, your home may not be selling due to its price. While no seller wants to decrease their potential profit, selling your home for less than it's valued may be a surefire way to draw attention from motivated buyers who don't want to miss out on this opportunity. 
  9. Refinance Your Home
    If you haven't bought a new property and are staying in the same location, you could consider refinancing your mortgage. This will make your current home more affordable for you to live in while considering the next steps. 

You may face obstacles that may delay selling your home. Thankfully, these tips can help you overcome obstacles and help you reach your goals.

October
22

10 Common Home-Selling Mistakes

If you're considering selling your home, you may believe it's an easier process than buying a house. While being on this end of the transaction does have its advantages, homeowners should be aware that it's easy to make costly errors. When you're ready to begin the process of selling your home, try to avoid these common mistakes.

  1. Get Too Emotionally Invested
    Even when emptied, your home is still full of wonderful memories. It's easy to remain emotionally invested in your home, and thus, let these emotions drive your actions during the sale. Always remember that you must remain professional at all times when selling your home.
  2. Over Pricing Your Home
    Because you care for your home so deeply, you'll likely overvalue its worth. While you do want to sell for the highest amount possible, overpricing it can turn away buyers and leave you losing money in the long run. Be sure to price is strategically in regards to its appraisal price and prices on comparable homes in the immediate area.
  3. Selling Your Home When You're Upside Down on Your Mortgage
    Unless you're in a situation that requires you to quickly sell your home, it's ill-advised to sell your property when it's decreased in value. You should always try to at least break even when selling your home.
  4. Taking Poor Photography
    The importance of high-quality photography and videography cannot be understated. With so many buyers shopping online, their first impression from the listing will be one of the main factors that influence their decision to walk your home. Make sure you invest in high-quality photography and videography for your listing and showcase your home beautifully.
  5. Not Staging It to Sell
    Whether you're ready to begin photographing the space for your listing or welcoming prospective buyers in for a tour, your home must be presentable. It should be thoroughly cleaned, staged, decluttered and depersonalized. Dusty corners, empty rooms, cluttered closets, and family photos can all turn away prospective buyers.
  6. Failing to Disclose Important Issues
    Selling your home is a legal transaction which is why it's vital that you're honest and transparent throughout. You must disclose all major (and many minor) issues with the home. This includes renovations, repairs, and any damages throughout your ownership of the property. It's better to be upfront about issues like repaired water damage and lose a potential buyer than to hide an issue and encounter legal troubles.
  7. Not Anticipating Selling Costs
    The goal of selling your home is to make money, but you must keep in mind that selling your home does include various costs. Photography, staging, agent commissions, repairs, moving expenses, and closing costs are just some of the many expenses that sellers must pay.
  8. Mishandling Multiple Offers
    If you're lucky enough to receive multiple offers, you must know how to handle them maturely and responsibly. Regard each as a potential selection and investigate the legitimacy of each. Weigh the pros and cons of the full loan; sometimes the "lower" offer may actually be more profitable in the long-term.
  9. Not Using a Real Estate Agent
    One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when selling their home is to think that they can do it alone. These transactions can be quite complex and attempting to handle everything on your own could actually cost you thousands more than necessary.
  10. Selling Your Home When You're Not Ready
    Perhaps the worst mistake that you can make is selling your home when you're not ready. If there's any hesitation or uncertainty, speak with a real estate agent. They'll help you objectively determine if now is the right time.

Real estate transactions can be complex and mistakes can be easily made when selling your home. Thankfully, these pitfalls can be avoided with a little forethought and help from a real estate professional.

October
15

Steps to Determine What Your Home is Worth

If you're planning to sell your home, you'll need to know what it's worth so you can price it accordingly. We all may tend to overvalue our houses. With so many memories filling these spaces, it's only natural that we see the property through rose-colored glasses. Unfortunately, one mistake that many sellers make is incorrectly pricing their home. These errors often lead to a lack of interested buyers, a longer than necessary listing on the market, and sometimes receiving a lower offer than the home is worth.

How do you price your property correctly when selling your home? Here are a few steps to determine what your home is worth.

  1. Investigate Recent Sales in Your Area
    If you're considering selling your home, one of your first steps is to determine its value. Start by investigating recent sales in your area. You should see many sale amounts in a similar price range. This step is an excellent way to gauge how much your home may be worth initially. Keep in mind, though, that the unique features of each house may make their valuation higher or lower than yours, especially if they're not considered comps.
  2. Use Online Resources
    Another great step is to visit free online resources that provide home value estimates. Selling your home is not a decision you'll make overnight. It's a good idea to periodically use these online tools to gain a picture of your home's worth every few months. Even if the amount listed isn't 100% accurate, it still gives you a solid idea of how your home is worth and if that amount is increasing or decreasing over time.
  3. Conduct Your Own Comp Analysis
    If you're interested in doing an in-depth investigation of your home's value, conduct your own comparative analysis. After researching similar sales in your area, you can complete a thorough examination by comparing your home to others that have recently sold. You'll use factors like recent upgrades, renovations, and unique features of your home to gauge potentially boosts in your home's value. For instance, if your home and the comp home both have the same bed/bath ratios and square-footage, but yours has a pool, you can assume that this feature will increase your value.
  4. Schedule an Appraisal
    You don't need to be actively selling your home to schedule an appraisal. It's a great idea to get your property appraised before listing the house so that you can get an accurate estimate of its value. An appraisal will also identify any opportunity areas where you could increase its value through repairs or renovations. 
  5. Contact a REALTOR®
    If there's one person who will help you get the most accurate estimate on your home's value, it's a REALTOR®. Even if you haven't to sell your home, you can still speak with a REALTOR® about its worth. These professionals know the market's current status and will often give you a free estimate of your home's value with no strings attached.

Selling your home can easily be a lucrative decision; however, you can potentially lose money by pricing it incorrectly. Before listing your home, be sure to complete these steps to ensure you're listing your home on the market for a reasonable price.

October
8

Selling Your Home? How to Decide Which Is the Best Offer

Selling your home is quite an undertaking. While the ideal scenario is to find a buyer that is willing to meet your terms and accept your price, many sellers receive multiple offers that are each appealing in their own ways. Fielding too many offers is certainly more preferable than receiving none at all, but how does a seller decide which is best? Believe it or not, when it comes to selling your home, the "best" offer might be a little harder to recognize than it may seem. Here are five tips to help you decide on the best offer when selling your home.

  1. Detail Your Goals Before Listing
    Before you officially begin selling your home, it's wise to discuss potential offers with your REALTOR®. Offers come in varying shapes and sizes, making it difficult to determine which is "better." You can prepare for these tough decisions by discussing your ultimate goals. Are you looking for a quick close, or are you willing to wait? Would you prefer an all-cash offer, or will you accept any buyer as long as they have proof of pre-approval? As you discuss your goals, your REALTOR® will help you identify which offers will help you achieve them.
  2. Understand Your Role
    When you receive multiple offers, it can quickly feel like you've hit the jackpot. However, you must act professionally and responsibly as you work with these buyers. Remember, they might be looking at other houses, too. Bidding wars, counteroffers, and other negotiation tactics can turn buyers away quickly, ultimately leaving you with fewer offers. 
  3. Don't Be Blinded by the Highest Bidder 
    No matter how many offers you receive, the highest bid will always be tempting. Unfortunately, the highest bid isn't always the best bid on the playing field. Buyers without the financial strength needed to secure a mortgage loan or prove that they have the cash-on-hand for an all-cash offer are not ideal buyers. These types of sales can fall apart quickly and leave you back at square one.
  4. Consider the Details of All Offers Equally
    Not that you should not ignore the offer price when selling your home, but you should consider it one of many factors in the overall offer. Look into each offer in detail, highlighting elements such as the buyer's concessions and flexibility. Consider creating a list or spreadsheet that compares all aspects of each offer against the others. You may discover that the "lower" offer enables you to gain more in the long-run after completing the transaction.
  5. Go With Your Gut 
    Selling your home is not a decision you should make lightly, but it is a decision that should involve your instinct. If a particular buyer doesn't seem legitimate, or if elements of their offer make you uncomfortable, don't be afraid to deny it. Your agent's goal involves selling your home in a way that benefits you the most. A worrisome sale that could have negative financial impacts on your life should be avoided at all costs. Talk to your REALTOR® throughout the process and use your intuition to guide you to the right offer.

Selling your home is an exciting feeling, especially when you receive multiple offers. Take these offers in stride, consult with your REALTOR® frequently, and be sure to consider all details when selling your home to ensure you choose the offer that helps you reach our real estate goals.

October
1

Closing Costs That Cut Into Your Budget

When it comes to selling your home, it's natural to focus on the sale's potential profits rather than the potential costs associated with the process. While selling your home can be a profitable experience, there are many expenditures throughout the process that can cut into your budget. 

Closing costs are an essential aspect of selling your home that can be costly if you're not anticipating them. Let's take a look at some common closing costs that sellers typically take care of, as well as some closing costs that buyers may ask you to cover while selling your home. 

Seller's Closing Costs

When selling your home, there are certain closing costs that most homeowners will be required to pay. These costs can often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, which is why you should always budget for them when selling your home. This typically includes the cost of:

  • Agent Commissions: The fees owed to the agents representing the seller and buyer, which generally are a small percentage of the total home sale price.
  • Transfer Taxes/Recording Fees: These fees pay the sale taxes owed to the government and cover the cost associated with filing the property's deed into county record under the new owner's name.
  • Loan Payoff Costs: These fees may include the loan application, interest, and origination fees. 
  • Title Insurance Fees: These fees cover an insurance policy protecting the buyer and seller if issues with the title arise after the home sale has concluded. 
  • Attorney Fees: These fees pay for a licensed attorney to ensure that the home sale documents meet all legal standards when selling you home. 

Buyer's Closing Costs

Not all closing costs are your responsibility when selling your home. Typically, the buyer will cover certain closing costs, which may range from less than one hundred dollars in costs to one thousand dollars or more in fees, including:

  • Home Inspection Fee: Costs associated with hiring a licensed home inspector to assess the property's condition, including the state of its structure, electrical systems, plumbing, and foundation.
  • Appraisal Fee: Costs associated with a report verifying the property's value based on factors like the property's condition and size. 
  • Title Search Fee: Costs related to confirming that the seller is the property's legal owner and that no claims or judgments are pending on the property.
  • Credit Report Fee: Costs associated with running credit reports through credit bureaus. 

Often the buyer will negotiate for the seller to cover some or all of the closing costs. For example, the buyer may accept a counter-offer from the seller if the seller agrees to cover closing costs. In other instances, the buyer may ask the seller to cover specific costs like home inspection fees or appraisal fees, especially if these inspections reveal repairs or other investments will need to be made on the home after the buyer purchases it. 

Closing costs associated with selling your home may range from one percent to even seven percent of the sales price. Before selling your home, consider speaking with an agent to learn about which closing costs you should include in your budget.

September
24

Can Moving Be Painless When You Have Kids?

Moving is quite an overwhelming experience, even for those who have relocated before. The physical effort, the logistical considerations, and the mental fatigue are enough to drain any adult. However, the stress is multiplied when you have children. Although the task may seem impossible, there are many ways that you can complete the moving process without having to pack on extra pressure.

Can moving with kids be painless? Of course! Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, use these tips to help make moving with children an effortless experience.

  1. Talk to Your Kids Before, During, and After the Move 
    Moving is a major milestone in the life of every individual. Kids of all ages will react to the thought of moving in drastically different ways. Some may be excited about having their own room, while others will be sad to leave their friends behind. Parents must take the time to communicate with their children throughout the moving process. From the family announcement about plans to move to the first few weeks in the new space, stay engaged with your children, and allow them to talk about their feelings. Supporting them and making the process as positive as possible will help them through this transition.
  2. Make Moving an Engaging and Fun Experience 
    The feeling of a lack of control is often one of the most challenging things children struggle with when they're moving. By inviting them to be part of the process, you can give them a control level over the move. Let them pack up their belongings and even allow friends to help, so they don't feel alone. You can also let your children make decisions for your new home, such as how they want to decorate their rooms or what type of paint colors should be used in other living spaces.
  3. Ask for Help 
    Being a parent is a full-time job in itself, and with so many other responsibilities on your plate, you should feel comfortable asking for help during your move. If your children are old enough to lend a hand without being supervised, encourage them to help pack and move boxes. If your children are young and need attention, consider asking a family member or friend to babysit. Some moving companies also offer special kid-friendly packages that may include child care or fun activities for young ones to do while you move, such as coloring or building box forts.
  4. Pack with Children in Mind 
    As you move from one home to the other, your children will need access to their favorite toys and daily necessities. It's always suggested that you pack a "moving-day bag" for each member of your family. These bags include essential items like toothbrushes, school supplies, favorite books, toys, or games. We also encourage you to pack the rest of your children's belongings in an organized fashion, using color-coded tape or markers to identify what's in each box. When you arrive in your new home, you'll be able to instantly unpack any possession your child desires without having to rifle through countless boxes. 
  5. Restore a New Normal as Quickly as Possible 
    Change can be a difficult transition for children, which is why it's crucial to establish a new normal as quickly as possible after your move. Minimize as much change as possible by setting up some rooms in similar arrangements as before and by preserving family traditions such as nightly dinners together, weekday movie nights, or weekend outings. The more familiar the experience, the easier time your children will have adapting to the transition.

Moving with children can be difficult, but it doesn't need to be a headache. By keeping your child informed, engaged, and cared for, you can make moving with your family painless.

September
17

Should You Accept or Reject Their Offer?

Receiving your first offer is an exciting moment when selling your home, but how do you know when to accept an offer? The details differ with every transaction and seller, but plenty of common factors can help guide your decision. The more information you have, the easier it becomes to decide whether an offer is the right one for you.

  • What Is Your Timeline?
    If you're moving for work or need to close the deal quickly, you may be willing to accept an offer for less than you might receive if you had more time to wait. However, that doesn't mean you have to take the first low-ball offer to come across the table! If a buyer makes a reasonable offer and has the funds ready to close the deal quickly, it may be worth seriously considering the offer.
  • How Does the Offer Fit within the Current Real Estate Market?
    No matter the circumstances that lead to selling your home, your local real estate market's condition will play a significant role in the offers you can expect to receive – and in which offer is worth accepting. In a seller's market, you may be able to hold out for the best possible offers. It may make more sense to take an offer in a buyer's market if it's close to your asking price.
  • How Many Offers Have You Received, and of What Quality?
    Ideally, you will receive multiple offers when selling your home and be able to choose the one that best fits your needs. If you receive multiple offers, it's wise to consider more than the overall price they're offering. 
  • Is the Buyer Willing to Cover Closing Costs or Offering an All-Cash Purchase?
    If two offers meet or come close to your asking price, which should you accept? That depends on what else the buyers are offering. For example, a buyer may be willing to cover all closing costs, waive certain contingencies, or offer a straight cash purchase. Factors like these can make up for an offer that comes in at a below-asking price.
  • Are You Willing to Assume the Added Costs of Keeping the Home on the Market?
    No matter what other factors influence whether you accept an offer, remember that keeping your home on the market comes with costs as well. While that shouldn't be enough to make you accept a truly substandard offer when selling your home, it's a good reason to be open-minded when a buyer makes an offer close to your asking price.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to accept or reject an offer when selling your home is a little different for every seller because it depends on your unique circumstances. Selling your home is much easier with the help of an experienced real estate agent who can help you make informed decisions based on all of the data available.

September
10

Sold Your Home? Use This Checklist to Make Your Move Easier

There's so much to think about when you're selling your house that it's easy to let something important fall through the cracks.

Following an organized checklist will help keep you on track and ensure that the entire process goes smoothly. Don't forget to add the following items to your list. 

Get Organized
As soon as you've confirmed that you're selling your house, you'll want to start getting your head wrapped around all the organizational tasks you'll need to tackle. This includes things like: 

  • Updating your address - have your mail forwarded and provide the new address to all of your important contacts
  • Returning borrowed items - including library books and things you've borrowed from friends and neighbors
  • Transferring your utilities - you can usually arrange for this to happen seamlessly on your moving day

When you decide on selling your house, you'll want to immediately start researching schools, vets, and medical providers in your new location. Once you've made your decisions, arrange to transfer your family's medical records, school records, and your pets' vet records to your new providers. 

Schedule the Movers
If you're going to use professional movers, start gathering quotes early-on so you can make the best decision. It's often best to begin this process as soon as you've started thinking about selling your house.

Make sure you read reviews and ask plenty of questions. Also, explore whether there are any ways for you to cut back the cost, such as packing your own items and getting rid of things you don't really need. Prior to selling your house, it's a good idea to set a moving budget, so you're not stuck with any unpleasant surprises.

If you're moving yourself, arrange for some friends to help you and reserve the moving truck. Also, consider whether you have enough people to drive all of the family's vehicles to the new home. If not, you'll want to book a vehicle mover as well. 

Start Packing 
As soon as you've committed to selling your house, you'll also want to start gathering up your moving materials. This will give you time to get as many free boxes as possible, which will cut down on your costs. 

Start packing non-essential items as soon as possible and consider renting a storage unit to store them. This will help with the decluttering and depersonalizing that's necessary when selling your house. When you start packing, don't be afraid to be ruthless about what you decide to keep. Giving things away or selling them will save you time, effort, and money.

When you get closer to your move date, designate one box for essentials and put everything you'll need for your first few days in this box. This way, you won't have to search for important things as soon as you arrive.

Make Your Move 
It's easier said than done, but try to get a good night's sleep before moving day. Make sure you wake up early, wear comfortable clothes, and don't forget to breathe! Keep your pets somewhere safe while the movers or your friends and family load up the trucks. 

When everything is packed, give your house a final cleaning and make sure you've done everything that was required as part of your contract when selling your house. Check to make sure everything is locked up, and start your journey.

Settle In 
It may take a while to finish unpacking, but the process of settling in starts right away. First, you'll want to make sure the utilities are working. Then, unpack your essentials box and help your kids and pets get comfortable in their new environment. If you have younger children, make sure you childproof the home right away. 

Selling your house is naturally stressful, but it doesn't have to be! Follow this checklist, and you'll be able to ensure you don't miss anything important. Who knows, you might even make it so stress-free that you enjoy the process! 

September
3

10 Ways to Prep Your House for a Sale

If you're thinking about selling your house, the time to start preparing is right now. Homes that are clean, well-presented, and priced right often receive multiple offers. However, selling a home still requires some preparation. 

Here are ten things to do as soon as you start thinking about selling a home. 

  1. Update Your Landscaping
    Anyone who is thinking about selling a home should take a hard look at the landscaping. Getting started on this task early will give the plants time to grow, giving your home a more natural look. Also, consider fertilizing your lawn, cleaning up trees and bushes, and adding fresh mulch.  
  2. Improve Your Curb Appeal
    Any real estate agent will tell you that great curb appeal is a critical part of selling a home. If needed, put in a new mailbox. Pressure wash your siding, clean the gutters, seal the driveway, and clean up any junk around the outside of your home. 
  3. Dress Up Your Entryway
    Selling a home often happens before the buyer even walks in the door. First impressions are everything, so make sure your entryway is beautiful and inviting. Add a fresh coat of paint to your porch and consider painting your front door in a color that contrasts with your house's exterior. Add a welcome mat, a wreath, and some new house numbers to give it a finishing touch. 
  4. Make Repairs
    It's a great idea to look around your house with a critical eye and start fixing any problems you notice. From a dripping faucet to that light switch that doesn't work, little things make a big difference when selling a home. If your home needs any major repairs, get those done as well. 
  5. Depersonalize
    When you're selling a home, potential buyers need to envision themselves living there. This means that you have to remove those family portraits, your rare art collection, and anything else that reflects your unique personality. 
  6. Declutter
    This is also a great time to get rid of things you don't need and box other items up. This makes selling a home easier and gives you a head start when it's time to pack. 
  7. Organize Closets and Drawers
    You might be tempted to "clean" your house by shoving items away in closets and drawers. However, when you're selling a home, you can't expect much privacy. There's a good chance that potential buyers might look there too! Get a head start on organizing these spaces, and you'll have one less thing to worry about. 
  8. Go Neutral
    If you have rooms painted in bold colors, it's time to tone them down. Put on a coat of primer and paint over it with a neutral color. Selling a home is much easier when buyers aren't busy thinking about what a nightmare it's going to be to repaint those walls. 
  9. Eliminate Bad Odors
    A bad smell is the best way to ruin a potential home sale. If you have pets, mold issues, or you've smoked in your home, you need to take care of this right away. Many times this requires replacing carpets and removing upholstery. If it's bad, you may need to repaint or have your HVAC duct system cleaned. This will take time, so don't wait until the last minute. 
  10. Gather Your Warranties
    When selling a home, it's typical for most of the appliances to come with it. If you have warranties on your appliances, HVAC system, roof, and other important items, it's a good idea to gather these up ahead of time. This way, you won't have to search for them when closing day arrives.

Selling a home is much easier when you're prepared. Follow these steps, and you'll be ready for those offers to come rolling in! 

August
27

How to Sell Your Home During the Coronavirus

Selling your home isn't easy–especially during a global pandemic. Although our daily lives have changed drastically, that doesn't mean that now is the time to abandon your home-selling goals. The real estate industry has adapted and evolved to the coronavirus's challenges to ensure that buyers, sellers, and agents can continue to conduct real estate transactions safely and securely.

If you thought selling your home during the coronavirus was impossible, think again! Markets across the country report positive monthly trends, including an increase in inventory, a decrease in time spent on the market, and an increase in property value. Here are seven tips for selling your home during the pandemic.

  1. Don't Panic. Whether you were planning to sell your home before the pandemic or if you're now selling your home due to its impact, don't panic. Selling your home is perhaps the largest financial transactions you'll make; measured, rational, and responsible decisions will help you make your sale successful.
  2. Use the Internet to Your Advantage. Many prospective buyers are conducting their search online before seeing a home in person. Invest in high-quality photography and videography to show your home online. 
  3. Use Virtual Services When Possible. Not only should you swap an in-person open house for a virtual open house, but you should also take advantage of other services offered contact-free. Professional stagers, organizers, landscapers, and other services offer advice through video chats. This keeps everyone safer yet still allows you to create a presentable home to show potential buyers.
  4. Maximize Transitional Space. The coronavirus has turned our homes into schools, offices, and entertainment centers, identifying the need for many homeowners to have extra space that they can dedicate to their evolving needs. Highlight how well your home can accommodate these new requirements by transforming unused space into home offices, study centers for students, gyms, or private relaxation spaces.
  5. Opt for Virtual Transactions When Possible. Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever for real estate agents to tackle coronavirus challenges swiftly. Virtual calling, email, and e-signing have made it convenient for buyers and sellers to conduct the majority of their transactions contact-free. I can prioritize a contact-free transaction whenever possible to help keep everyone healthy.
  6. Anticipate Hiccups. Delays during a real estate transaction are common, and the pandemic's challenges have made these instances arise with more frequency. From inspections and appraisals to postponed transactions due to unforeseen issues, you should be prepared for a delay at any point in the process. Let's discuss what options are available to conduct a fast closing.
  7. Trust Your Agent. Although we've all never lived through a pandemic before, my career has given me the knowledge and experience to read the market with a close eye and work hard to get you a successful sale that accomplishes your real estate goals.

Selling your home right now may seem like a bold move, but fear not! With a few changes to the process and my help, we will make selling your home as smooth as possible.

August
20

Choosing The Right Listing Agreement

If you're thinking about selling your home, finding a real estate agent you trust is a major first step. Once you're comfortable and ready to move forward, you'll need to sign a listing agreement.

This is the legal contract that outlines the engagement between you and your real estate agent. It also explains each party's rights and responsibilities regarding selling your home.

There are several different types of listing agreements. Depending on the firm you're working with, you may have options. Following, you'll find a brief explanation of the most common types of listing agreements you're likely to encounter. 

Open Listing
An open listing gives you the most flexibility for selling your home. A homeowner can sign open listing agreements with multiple agents and only pay a commission to the agent who brings the buyer to the table. It also gives homeowners the option to find a buyer themselves and avoid paying a commission at all. 

The drawback to this is that real estate agents are often hesitant to enter into open listing contracts. After all, a good agent will invest time and money into marketing your house. Under an open listing agreement, there's nothing to protect them from having another agent swoop in and take the commission

If you choose this option, there's a chance that you'll end up doing most of the work yourself. You may also end up selling your home for less than you would if you had a dedicated agent working on your behalf. 

Exclusive Agency Listing
With this type of listing agreement, you'll sign a contract with only one real estate agent. However, you'll still retain the right to find your own buyer. If you end up selling your home yourself, you won't have to pay the agent a commission.

This plan allows you to fall back on your agent if you can't sell the house on your own. However, some agents will still hesitate to enter into this type of agreement since they're not guaranteed a commission. There's also a chance that the agent will request a higher commission rate in exchange for the inherent uncertainty. 

Exclusive Rights-to-Sell Listing
Selling your home under an exclusive rights-to-sell listing is the most common option. This gives the real estate agent the exclusive rights to market your home and list it on MLS. He or she will receive the full commission as long the home is sold within the designated timeframe. 

This is the preferred agreement for most real estate agents. Under this agreement, the agent is also more likely to put all of their resources into selling your home. They don't have to worry about someone else taking the commission, so they're more willing to commit the time and effort to ensure you sell your home quickly and for the best possible price. 

Since the agent will lose the commission if the home isn't sold within the designated time frame, it also encourages them to aggressively market your home. This time frame is included in the listing agreement and can range from 30 to 365 days. Most agents consider 90 to 120 days to be the most realistic. 

Properly marketing and selling your home takes time, so you don't want to push your agent too much. However, keeping the time frame relatively short will also protect you from being locked into an agreement for too long if they fail to perform. 

Which is Right for You? 
If you're not in a hurry to sell your home and feel confident in your ability to find a buyer on your own, then one of the first two options may be right for you. However, if you want the best chances of selling your home quickly and easily, consider choosing an exclusive-rights-to-sell agreement. Although you'll end up paying a real estate commission, most homeowners agree that the cost is well worth it!

August
13

Closet Hacks to Max Out a Tiny Closet

When you're selling your home, you should know that many buyers consider ample closet space to be a top priority. Nearly every homeowner has boxes of possessions that are destined for the closet which means that a functional and versatile closet may be a prime selling point. Thankfully, there are ways that you can increase your storage capabilities without building a new closet! Here are some of my favorite closet hacks to max out a tiny closet before listing your home.

  • Invest in Closet Organizers 
    A simple solution that doubles as a great way to display the closet when selling your home are to invest in closet organizers. These tools help you maximize utility in the space without contributing to a cluttered look. Shoe organizers, storage bins, and modular shelving are all low-cost solutions that instantly improve the appearance and functionality of your closet. They're also a great staging tool for selling your home that you can include with the sale or take with you to your new home.
  • Build In Space
    Take a look at your budget before selling your home and consider investing in your closet, particularly in the master bedroom. A customized built-in closet can wow buyers. Another option is to simply install shelving, an additional clothes rail, and hooks to accommodate different articles of clothing and accessories.
  • Expand Beyond the Closet
    Does your closet overflow into your bedroom? Let it! Expand beyond your closet and create additional storage possibilities by utilizing the walls outside of your closet. Consider removing your closet door completely and allowing your wardrobe to flow into the adjacent. Similar to the ideas above, you can either install new shelving and hooks or use modular shelving and wardrobe organizers on the exterior closet walls. Imagine dedicating your closet to clothes on hangers and shoes while committing folded clothing, pants, and accessories to these additional storage spaces.
  • Presentation Matters Too
    Remember, at the end of the day, the presentation makes a world of difference when selling your home. Most buyers don't anticipate being blown away by your closet space. However, a little paint, lighting, and attention to detail can go a long way. Repair any broken elements of the closet, clean it thoroughly, and consider replacing hinges and handles. Paint the closet a light, neutral color and make sure the lighting in the area is clear but not harsh. You'd be surprised how impressed buyers will be with a closet door that glides smoothly and opens to a clean, lit, and organized space.

Even though areas like kitchens and bathrooms are major considerations, discerning buyers will also keep their eyes open for closet spaces that go above and beyond the normal nook. As you prepare to sell your home, consider upgrading your closet space to make it a versatile, attractive area that buyers will love.

August
6

Five Things You Should Put In Storage While Selling Your Home

Selling your home requires a lot of preparation. You'll need to take care of necessary repairs, update your curb appeal, and prepare for staging. When you start to pack and declutter, a storage unit can be your best friend. Storing some of your items off-site will make it easier to give your home the neat and organized look and feel that appeals to potential buyers. 

Here five things that you'll want to put into storage while you're selling your home.

  1. Personal Items and Knick-Knacks
    When a potential buyer enters your home, it's important that they can envision themselves living there. To make sure this happens, you'll want to remove personal items like family photos and unique artwork.

    This also includes knick-knacks and small decor items like figurines, vases, and books. Packing these things away will remove your personal touch from your home. It will also make it look clean and clutter-free, which is critical when selling your home.
  2. Exercise Equipment
    It's common for a guest bedroom to double as an exercise space, but this won't do you any favors when you're selling your home. Take that treadmill or elliptical machine out of the house and pack it away in your storage unit! If the room wasn't already set up as a bedroom, consider staging it with a bed and a dresser to finish the look.
  3. Children's Toys
    When selling your home, it helps to get the whole family on board. Have your children pick out a few toys that they want to keep and put the rest in storage. While it's fine to have some toys placed neatly in a child's bedroom, you don't want them all over the living room, dining room, and scattered throughout the house. 
  4. Large Furniture
    A few furniture items are great for staging. However, many professional stagers recommend scaling back a home's furniture by at least one-third. Before you list your home, take a look at each room with a sharp eye and store away any items that don't fit into the room's decor or wouldn't be useful to a buyer.

    When you're selling your home, you want each room to appear large, clean, and open. Removing extra furniture can make a major statement!

    Often, it's a good idea to have your real estate agent or professional stager evaluate your space as soon as you start thinking about selling your home. They're experts at preparing houses for sale and can help you decide what to leave and what to pack away.
  5. Small Appliances
    The kitchen is another room that should be as clean and decluttered as possible. You can store small appliances that you use often -- like a coffee pot or toaster -- in a cabinet when you're not using them. However, you certainly don't want a ton of items all over the counter when you're selling your home.

    Pack away those extra blenders, mixers, and toaster ovens. This will give you an organized and minimalist look which appeals to many buyers. 

These are five of the most important things to remove when you're selling your home, but it's not an exhaustive list. As a general rule of thumb, unless you need it on a daily basis, it's a great idea to get it out of the house. This will also make clean-up easier when you have an open house scheduled or a buyer wants to come by on short notice to take a look.

July
23

These Tips Might Sell Your Home Over Asking Price

Selling your home over asking price is naturally the goal for every seller; however, buyers see things differently. They want to get the best deal possible on the home, which means that they won't be making an above market offer unless they think that's what it will take to close the deal. With advice from your real estate agent, it's your job to present your property in a way that inspires buyers to maximize their offers.

  • A Slightly Below Market Asking Price Can Lead to an Above Market Sale
    Yes, it sounds like cheating to say that starting with a low asking price is the easiest method for selling your home over asking price but hear us out. In this case, we're talking about an asking price that's about five to 10 percent below the actual amount you hope to receive for the home, chosen with help from your real estate agent. By setting a price slightly below market, you encourage more bidders to enter the picture. The more people who bid, the more the price goes up.
  • Make Sure Your Home Is in Great Shape
    When buyers look at a home that's considered a "fixer-upper," what they're looking for is a home that they can buy for well below market value. Before selling your home, invest some time and money in fixing any maintenance issues around the property. You can save money by tackling DIY projects like painting while bringing in the pros for bigger jobs. A well-maintained, move-in ready home is much more likely to generate an above market offer.
  • Keep It Clean to Create a Positive Impression
    First impressions are essential when selling your home, so cleaning your home until it sparkles is likely to leave buyers feeling warm and fuzzy. Before your home hits the market, clean it from top to bottom, including the out of the way places buyers will look at to see how well you've taken care of the home. Once you complete the initial cleaning, keep your home clean so that it's always ready to show.
  • Consider Curb Appeal to Attract Interest
    While the first impression after a buyer enters the home is essential, you don't want to forget about curb appeal when selling your home. A property that looks great from the curb is much more likely to draw buyers in, attract interest from passers-by, and make a great impression when buyers arrive for a showing. Make sure that your lawn is well-maintained, your landscaping draws attention for the right reasons, your yard is clean, and the exterior of your home is looking great.
  • Be Patient and Encourage Competition
    After all of the work that you've put into preparing your home and choosing a price that encourages multiple bids, the last thing you want to do is accept the first so-so offer to come across the table. Be patient, follow the advice of your agent, and let the market develop. Attracting multiple bids is the key to selling your home above asking price, and your patience can pay off with a great final sale price for your home.

Selling your home above asking price requires market savvy, along with a willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the work to make sure your home looks its absolute best. The help of an experienced real estate agent will be invaluable throughout the process, from choosing the right price to closing the deal.

July
16

Closing Checklist for Home Sellers

There are many steps involved in selling your home, and the final one––closing––is one of the most important. This is the moment when you legally transfer ownership of your home to the buyer. 

Since the entire process of selling your home can sometimes feel overwhelming, we recommend creating and using checklists for each step along the way. This will help you get organized and ensure you don't forget anything.

Here are a few of the most important things you'll want to add to your closing checklist. 

Prepare Your Home

As you prepare for selling your home, it's a good idea to begin gathering the items the new homeowner will need. This includes owners' manuals for appliances, warranty information, garage door openers, and extra keys. Before you head out to your closing, leave these items on the counter where the new owners will easily see them. 

Give your home one last cleaning and take some time to check all the drawers, closet shelves, and so on. Since closing is the final step to selling your home, once you leave the meeting, it's no longer yours, and you can't go back. This is why it's so critical to ensure that you've removed everything you intend to keep.

Shut off the water valves that to go sinks, toilets, the water heater, and the appliances. This will help prevent accidental flooding. Make sure you let the buyer know so they don't think there's a problem and call a plumber. On your way out, don't forget to lock up everything securely. 

Gather Your Documents

To make the process of selling your home go smoothly, it's important to stay organized. As you prepare for closing, make sure you have all of the necessary documents, including:

  • A photo ID for all sellers
  • One set of keys to the home
  • Security codes (if applicable)
  • Documentation of any contractually-required repairs
  • The deed to your house (if you own it outright)

If you owe money, you'll have to bring a cashier's check to the closing or wire the amount owed to the escrow account. If money is owed to you, you can expect to either receive a check or have it wired into your account before you leave. 

Understand Your Agreement

During the closing process, you'll review the contract and go through and all of the other paperwork and agreements that apply to selling your home. You'll have a final chance to review things like:

  • Your remaining mortgage balance
  • The realtor commissions
  • Any outstanding bills (property taxes, utilities, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, etc.)
  • Escrow and/or attorney fees
  • Title fees

Pay close attention to these details, and don't be afraid to ask questions if anything doesn't sound right. 

Cancel Your Insurance and Utilities

When you leave the closing, the process of selling your home is done! However, there are a few more important things to do. If you haven't already made arrangements, you'll want to immediately reach out to your utility company and your homeowner's insurance provider to cancel these services. 

You don't want to pay for these things any longer than you have to, but it's also important to wait until you've finalized selling your home before canceling. This way, the home is protected up until the moment that it's no longer yours. 

File Your Paperwork 

The last step of selling your home is to file all of the closing documents somewhere safe. You may want to scan a digital copy to store in the cloud and also keep the original paperwork in a filing cabinet or safe. 

Selling your house is an exciting time, and there's no reason to stress over your closing. Just follow this checklist, and you'll be fine! 

July
9

10 Ways to Prep Your Home for Sale

When selling your home, first impressions can make or break your sale. Even if you don't live in a market with a high inventory of homes for sale, many homebuyers will still walk away without making an offer if they find real or perceived issues with your home. We believe these ten tips will help you prep your home for a successful sale.

  1. Prioritize Curb Appeal
    The first impression your buyers develop will be based on your home's curb appeal which means it needs to be the first priority on your list. Tend to the landscape, pressure wash the walkways, repaint, or wash the exterior, and make sure all outdoor lighting is bright. If you have a porch or space around the doorway, consider staging it with inviting plants, wreaths, or doormats.
  2. Complete Renovations
    If you're considering renovations before selling your home, you must complete them before you list the home. If you don't believe you'll be able to finish the project by that time, do not start. Buyers who see a work-in-progress may think that other areas of the home are unfinished or need remodeling.
  3. Make Necessary Repairs
    Any smaller repairs around the house should also be fixed before the listing is active. This includes the types of items you may find on a typical "honey-do" list: recaulking windows, fixing leaks, and replacing cracked tiles.
  4. Focus on Sight & Smell
    While buyers tour your home, they'll have a sharp eye and a keen nose. Any lingering odors or areas of neglect will be caught the minute they walk into the room. Make sure every corner from the ceiling to the floor is cleaned and that any smells are aired out before each showing.
  5. Declutter & Depersonalize
    Cleaning your home means more than simply removing dirt and odor. You must also make your home appear organized. Declutter spaces by finding homes for all objects instead of letting them pile up in closets or drawers. Before selling your home, remove all family photographs and other personal belongings that make the buyer feel like they're in "someone else's" home.
  6. Paint Walls Neutral Colors
    One way to make your space feel like a blank canvas for the buyer is to paint your walls neutral colors. Use whites, beiges, and grays to create a clean slate throughout.
  7. Stage the Home
    Although you may love your furniture, your buyers might not. Professional staging companies will gladly come into your home and highlight the best features of your home. Their choice of furniture and décor will also appeal to a wider audience, allowing buyers to envision themselves living in the home.
  8. Leave All Relevant Paperwork Out
    Help buyers build confidence in the property by leaving out all relevant paperwork regarding the home. This includes all warranties for appliances, all repair or renovation paperwork, any liens that were on the home, and all other information that a buyer should have transparent access to.
  9. Ask Your Neighbors for Help
    Unfortunately, buyers may weigh your neighbor's properties in their opinion of your home. Before your showings, offer to mow your neighbor's lawn if they're unable to or ask if they can leave parking space available on the curb.
  10. Create an Inviting Space (Digitally Too)
    When you welcome buyers into your house, you want them to feel at home. For open houses, you can leave out small snacks and beverages. Be sure to open all blinds and close all toilet lids. Invest in high-quality photography so your home looks inviting in the digital listing as well. 

Selling your home is an endeavor that requires patience, dedication, and hard work if you want to maximize your offer potential. Use these tips to prep your home for a successful sale before you list it. 

July
2

6 Ways to Attract Millennial Home Buyers

Millennial buyers make up a larger portion of the housing market and are an important demographic to consider when selling your home. While some of their priorities in shopping for a home are different from previous generations, there's no doubt that most millennials are very interested in owning a home. It just has to be the right home for their needs and budget. By marketing your home through modern channels and offering the home features they love, you can attract this all-important demographic when selling your home.

  1. Many Millenials Are Searching for Starter Homes
    Millennials came of age in a time of great turmoil in the real estate market, often watching their parents or grandparents lose significant equity in their homes. So even if they can afford it, they're not necessarily looking for a large, fully upgraded home to start out. Instead, they're interested in properties that allow them to build equity over time, by improving the home, paying down their mortgage, and letting the market evolve. It can be helpful to position your property as a great starter option when selling your home.
  2. The Price Has to Be Right
    Whether they're shopping at the top of the market or looking for a small, simple starter home, most millennials have a strong understanding of how to research prices online. If they find a home that they love but it's listed well above normal market value, they're likely to simply move on to another option. Work with your real estate agent to make sure you're selling your home at a price that fits within your local real estate market.
  3. Get Social When Marketing Your Home
    Millennial buyers are well-versed in social media, so marketing your home on Instagram, Facebook, and other popular social sites is one of the best ways to catch their eye. When you promote your property on social, be sure to use high-quality photos and direct your audience to your virtual tour. The more you can show them about the property on social when selling your home, the more interested they'll be.
  4. Attractive, Relaxing Outdoor Spaces Excite Millenial Buyers
    Like many buyers, millennials love a comfortable, attractive outdoor space where they can relax on their own, play with their kids, or entertain guests. An outdoor patio, well-maintained yard, or backyard cooking space are major attractions, so make them points of emphasis when selling your home. Remember that many millennials are also parents of young children, so safe outdoor spaces are key.
  5. Sell Your Neighborhood, Too
    Millennials aren't content to simply stay at home, so they love living in a neighborhood with ample restaurants to visit, attractions to explore, and services to take care of their day-to-day needs. So you're really selling your neighborhood, in addition to selling your home. When promoting your property, be sure to note all of the attractive features of the neighborhood as well.
  6. Millennials Love Green Homes and Smart Home Features
    If you're looking to make upgrades to attract millennial buyers when selling your home, going green and adding smart home features are perfect places to start. Make sure that the home is efficient as possible, and consider low-cost smart home upgrades to add value for Millenials.

While millennials do have some preferences that skew toward the modern, they're looking for many of the same things from a home as any other buyer. Selling your home to this key demographic will be easier if you market it in the right places, choose a competitive price, and help them fall in love with your neighborhood.

June
25

Catch a Buyer's Eye With These Kitchen Upgrades

When you're prepping to sell your home, step back and take a look at it with an objective eye. You may love its color palette, fixtures, and other decor elements, but your taste no longer matters. Will your home's appearance appeal to prospective buyers?

Before you start tearing everything down to start from scratch, consider some strategic upgrades. For example, minor kitchen renovations can result in a 20 percent higher return on investment (ROI) than a full-scale remodel. Selling your home can be quicker and more profitable with these smart kitchen improvements.

  • Refresh Cabinets
    Cabinetry takes up a lot of real estate in most kitchens, so giving them a facelift makes a significant impact on the room's overall look. If the cabinets are still in good shape but the design is dated, save time and money by merely repainting or refinishing the doors. According to a survey by the home decor website Houzz, white is by far the most popular color choice. Complete the transformation by switching out knobs, hinges, and drawer pulls with hardware in a more contemporary design.
  • Update Appliances
    As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more integrated into our everyday lives, nowhere is that more evident than in-home management. "Smart" WiFi-enabled refrigerators and dishwashers let you control them from an app on your phone or tablet, allowing you to adjust the temperature or start wash cycles remotely. If you haven't already done so, selling your home is an excellent time to install eco-friendly appliances. 
  • Install New Flooring
    Even though the floor is below eye level, its appearance is a critical element in optimizing the kitchen's visual balance. Choose a color or finish that's opposite the degree of light or dark provided by the rest of the room's decor. Hardwood flooring has enjoyed a long reign as the number one choice. Still, engineered materials such as vinyl and laminate have improved dramatically in quality, making them popular options when selling your home.
  • Replace Countertops
    As the primary workspace in the kitchen, countertops serve both aesthetic and practical purposes as features for selling your home. Real Simple cites surveys indicating that engineered quartz is today's top choice of material, based on its superior strength and non-porous surface. Design experts suggest sticking with neutral colors that won't clash with or detract from cabinets.
  • Install an Island
    How essential are kitchen islands when selling your home? Nearly 80 percent of kitchens built or remodeled since 2009 include at least one island. With kitchens acting as gathering spots for family and guests, an island increases useable space while providing additional seating options. When designing the island, be sure to pay attention to the proportions. A kitchen island that's too big ends up as a liability, not an asset.
  • Repaint
    Adding a coat of paint before selling your home is still the go-to method for creating a whole new look in any room without much expense or effort. As with countertops, neutral colors such as taupe, gray, and sage are the best choices for kitchen walls. If you want to add a splash of color or integrate a pattern, limit it to one wall.
  • Add Light Fixtures
    A well-lit kitchen maintains a cheerful atmosphere, which is an excellent hook for selling your home. Traditional overhead fluorescent lighting on its own isn't always up to the job. Use options such as track lighting, pendant lights, puck lights, and recessed lighting to create an optimum mix of accent, task, and ambient lighting. 

Want a winning recipe for selling your home? Use these "ingredients" to whip up a kitchen that will satisfy any buyer's taste.

June
18

Downsizing Isn't Just for Retirees Anymore

If you're thinking about selling your home and moving into something smaller, you're not alone! While downsizing was once a trend that was most popular among retirees, people of all ages are now making this smart move. 

There are many reasons why downsizing is a good idea. Here are a few of the most important benefits. 

  1. It's a Simpler Lifestyle
    Selling your home and moving into something smaller requires you to re-evaluate all of the "stuff" you've collected. Many people find that decluttering and adopting a simpler lifestyle is therapeutic and very freeing.
  2. You'll Save Money
    There are multiple ways that downsizing will save you money. The most obvious is freeing up the equity that you've built up in your current home. In almost all cases, selling your home and buying a less expensive one means that you can enjoy a smaller (or no!) mortgage payment, lower homeowner's insurance premiums, and lower maintenance costs.

    You can grow this money exponentially by using what you've saved to pay off debt or bulk up your retirement savings.
  3. You'll Have More Time
    Selling your home and downsizing can also give you the gift of time. When you have a smaller home, you'll spend less time cleaning and tidying up, doing regular maintenance, taking care of the lawn, and more.

    If you want to get excited about selling your home, just think about all the great things you could do with that extra time! 
  1. You Can Live More Luxuriously
    The word "downsizing" is somewhat misleading. Selling your home to buy a smaller one also doesn't have to feel like a downgrade! Have you always dreamed of luxury upgrades like marble countertops, hardwood floors, or a home full of smart technology?

    When you have a smaller home and a lower mortgage payment, you'll be able to spend some of that extra money on making it exactly the way you want it. With fewer rooms to deal with and a larger budget to spend on decor, you'll have far more flexibility than you did before. 
  1. You May Have More Choices
    When you're open to selling your home and buying something smaller, you'll find that you have many more location options. Moving away from the suburbs and into a more centrally located home gives you exciting new opportunities. For example, many homeowners find that they really enjoy being able to walk to the neighborhood grocery store or run other errands.

    Being willing to move into a smaller home may also give you the opportunity to move to neighborhoods that were previously out of your price range. 
  2. You Can Focus on Family 
    When you live in a big home where everyone is spread out, you can start to feel a bit disconnected from the other people who live there. In a smaller home, you can focus on making your kitchen and living room more of a social space where everyone can come together and enjoy each other's company. 

If you're someone who loves to entertain and have parties, then selling your home to buy one with fewer rooms might not be the best idea. However, if you only have gatherings on certain holidays or not at all, then this is definitely something to consider!

Many people are finding that their dream home is actually much smaller than they thought! If you're open to downsizing, there's no time like the present to start thinking about selling your home and exploring new options. 

June
11

Five Tips for No-Regret Home Selling

Selling your home is a big decision, and seller's remorse can creep in when you least expect it. Seller's remorse is a feeling of regret that you sold something that you weren't ready to part with, or that you sold your home for a lower price than you should have received. Preparation is the key to avoiding seller's remorse, and we're here to help with five key tips for no-regret home selling.

  1. Prepare Yourself Mentally for Selling Your Home
    Parting with a home where you've spent years of your life can be an emotional experience, even if you're not normally one to get sentimental. There are so many memories that take place at home, but it's important to remember that you don't lose those memories if you decide that selling your home is your best option. Selling your home with no regrets starts with mentally preparing yourself for the process, and looking ahead to the memories that you'll build in your next home.
  2. Price Your Property Based on Market Value
    When it comes to the actual process of selling your home, the most common reason for regret is setting a price that's too far below market value. Picking the right price is much easier with the help of an experienced real estate agent, who can provide a comparative market analysis (CMA) that shows you what similar properties in the area have sold for recently. The more you know about your local real estate market, the easier it is to set a price that both meets your goals and makes selling your home possible on your desired timeline.
  3. Know When to Walk Away from a Negotiation
    Even if you pick the perfect price, there will always be buyers who send low-ball offers or try to negotiate terms that don't suit your needs. Sometimes it's simply an opening offer which they'll be willing to revisit, but in other cases, they won't be willing to budge from a low initial offer. Being prepared to walk away when the offer isn't right for your needs may be nerve-wracking at the moment, but if you set a competitive price you can walk away from a poor offer with confidence that better offers will eventually come.
  4. Be Ready to Move Right Away
    Once you've found a deal that's to your liking, it's helpful to have a plan in place to be ready to move as soon as the time is right. Before you get deep into the process of selling your home, start planning for how you'll move your belongings. Make sure that your next home is ready for your arrival, and have a list prepared for what you'll do when you arrive. It certainly doesn't hurt to have some fun activities lined up in your new neighborhood, too!
  5. Focus on the Future
    While it's natural to reflect on the time that you spent in the home you're selling, it's wise to look to the future, as well. There will be ample opportunities to create memories in your new home, and your new neighborhood may have exciting attractions that aren't available in your current neighborhood. Focusing on the future will help you avoid regret when selling your home, and get you excited about your new location.

Selling your home with no regrets starts with choosing the right price, and knowing when to walk away from a negotiation. Once you find the right buyer, being prepared for the future is the best way to avoid regrets after closing the deal.

June
4

Advice For Buying a Luxury Home

Owning a luxury home is an amazing feeling, but before the keys are in your hand, you must first navigate a quite different process than normal real estate transactions. When entering into the luxury real estate market, it's wise to heed the advice of agents and buyers who are familiar with these endeavors. Here are a few tips to consider as you shop for a luxury home.

  • Create a Wish List
    Buyers of any home can get easily overwhelmed with their options if they don't have a checklist to keep them grounded. Create a list that details the elements or amenities within the home that you absolutely need, that you would like, and that you don't necessarily want. This will keep you focused on finding the home that accurately meets your lifestyle needs.
  • Explore the Area
    Although being satisfied with the home itself is important, you must also consider the pros and cons of the community or location of the house as well. Consider creating a separate list of amenities or features that you desire from your ideal community or neighborhood.
  • Don't Rely on the Listing Alone
    To see the house in every light, literally and figuratively, be sure to visit your prospective properties multiple times, ideally at different times of the day and night. Tour the house frequently so that you can look beyond superficial elements and objectively assess the advantages and drawbacks of the entire property.
  • Pay Attention to Resale Value
    Although the real estate market is uncontrollable, you should always weigh the resale value of any home you're considering for purchase. Real estate is an investment, and when it comes to luxury homes, you want to protect this investment from the get-go.
  • Get Loan Preapproval Prior to the Offer
    When you get preapproval for a luxury home mortgage loan, it confirms that you can afford this purchase. It also gives the seller confidence that your offer will not fall through due to financial limitations.
  • Don't Skimp on a Luxury Agent
    To purchase a luxury home, you require a luxury estate agent. A real estate agent is your greatest resource and advocate. Hiring a knowledgeable agent experienced in buying luxury properties will save you time, hassle, and money long after the transaction is finalized.

Purchasing a luxury home is an exciting prospect. As one of the most significant financial decisions of your lifetime, you must proceed with this endeavor as knowledgeably and responsibly as possible. Use these tips to help you make your luxury homebuying goals a spectacular reality.

June
4

Selling Your Home from Out of State

Selling your house while you're still living in it can be a rough road, but selling your house from out of state has its own set of curves and speed bumps to navigate. "Out of sight, out of mind" definitely doesn't apply when you're selling real estate from a distance.

With careful planning, you'll be cruising smoothly down the real estate highway. Use this helpful checklist of tips for selling your house from out of state.

  1. Have the Home Move-In Ready
    When you're selling your house and not living in it, buyers can take immediate occupancy, which is a big advantage. Make sure all your possessions are removed, and the house is spotless. You should also have the home inspected and take care of any repairs that might hold up the process.
  2. Use Appropriate Staging
    "Move-in ready" doesn't mean the home should be completely bare. A totally empty house creates an air of abandonment, leading buyers to wonder if there's a serious problem. Your best bet is hiring a professional stager who has experience maximizing visual appeal. If that's not possible, leave a few pieces of furniture to provide some perspective.
  3. Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent
    A real estate agent represents the best interests of their clients, which becomes even more crucial when selling your house from out of state. In addition, a good real estate agent will have their finger on the pulse of your home's market and keep you up-to-date with all developments.
  4. Fine-Tune Your Pricing Strategy
    Are you comfortable with the possibility of your home sitting on the market for a while? Then you can afford to start off with a price on the higher end. If your goal is to sell your house as quickly as possible, set the price accordingly without sacrificing fair value.
  5. Leverage Marketing Tools
    Online listings, flyers, and other marketing materials become even more significant when you're selling your house from afar. Craft a comprehensive, well-rounded marketing campaign utilizing all the tools at your disposal. Review each element thoroughly to ensure they effectively communicate your message.
  6. Determine Your Target Audience
    Part of a successful marketing strategy is knowing just which market you want to reach. Is the house in an area with a good school district and other family-friendly features? Maybe it's in a neighborhood geared toward baby boomers or retirees. The greater focus you have, the more efficient your marketing will be.
  7. Work Out the Logistics
    Traditionally, a seller needs to be present when the closing takes place. Depending on how far out of state you are, that requirement might be difficult to coordinate. Look for closing companies that may offer a bit more flexibility, with options such as signing documents in your current city with a local notary as witness.
  8. Consult a Tax Professional
    Each state has its own rules and regulations governing tax ramifications of selling your house. Talk to a tax attorney or CPA who can explain the different scenarios and help you reduce potential liabilities.
  9. Maintain Regular Communication
    In your absence, your real estate agent and other members of your team serve as your local eyes and ears. Stay in touch on a consistent basis, so you know what's going on, and your team stays apprised of your wishes.

You don't have to travel blind when selling your house from out of state. Keep your eye on the final destination, and you won't go wrong. 

May
28

Selling Your Home in a Virtual World

Like the rest of the world, the real estate industry has had to make significant adjustments due to COVID-19, to keep sales associates, buyers, and sellers safe. The process for selling your home may look different these days, but buyers and sellers are still motivated to close the deal virtually while navigating the new normal. Learn how to navigate this new market with our guide to selling your home in a virtual world.

  • Why Your Online Listing Is More Important Than Ever
    Online listings have been a vital element of the real estate marketing mix for years. In the past, buyers would rely on online listings to form first impressions and decide which homes to visit in person. Your online listing plays an even more critical role in selling your home today because buyers in many markets don't have the opportunity to see homes in person.

    Now, they need to be able to learn as much as possible about the home--and hopefully fall in love with the property--without visiting it first-hand. Professional-quality photography for your listing is the perfect place to start when selling your home. You'll also want to describe the property in as much detail as possible so that buyers searching for properties like yours can find it easily. Once your listing generates interest from buyers, you can use the other marketing tools on our list to close the deal.
  • Virtual Tours Help Buyers Visit Homes from Anywhere
    While professional photography is a great start, buyers will often require a more immersive experience to fall in love with your home from a distance. That's where virtual tours come in, and it's no surprise that the popularity of virtual tours has increased dramatically due to COVID-19 precautions. Virtual tours allow buyers to travel through the home as if they were there, examining features, dreaming of what they would do with each room, and deciding whether the property fits their needs. A virtual tour makes selling your home easier because buyers can tour the home no matter where they're located, at any time that's convenient for them.
  • How a Virtual Open House Can Help Sell Your Home
    A virtual open house led by your sales associate takes the idea of a virtual tour to the next level, allowing them to provide crucial context, answer questions, and highlight features of the home. You can even use virtual staging to help buyers imagine what their lives would be like in the home!

    For a buyer who has already done extensive research on the home, a virtual open house provides a chance to solidify their impressions and convince them to prepare an offer. For someone who is seeing the home for the first time, a virtual open house may be your first and best opportunity to help them fall in love with the home.
  • Find a Sales Associate Who Knows Digital Marketing
    Finding the right sales associate is always a key factor in selling your home, and it's even more important today. When you're scouting sales associates, make sure that whoever you choose has an understanding of modern marketing tactics and all of the digital tools required for selling your home in this most unusual market.

Unusual challenges often require unusual solutions, and selling your home in today's market means embracing change. The good news is that a blueprint for success is already in place, with virtual sales tools and outside-the-box marketing ideas leading the way.

May
21

6 Home Updates That Really Pay Off

Selling your home is an opportunity to recoup your investment and finance your future goals--naturally, any homeowner wants to get top-dollar for their property. Unfortunately, some homeowners receive offers that are less than what they believe their home is worth. One way to prevent low offers from entering the picture is to invest in certain home improvements that may increase the value of your property. We recommend these six updates that can really pay off when selling your home.

  1. Remodel the Kitchen/Bathrooms
    The kitchen and bathrooms of a home are often regarded as two of the most important areas of any residential property. Both areas need to be accommodating and comfortable for all members of the household and their guests which means a remodel can immediately impress prospective buyers. While you may complete full remodels including flooring and cabinetry updates, upgrading appliances or fixtures and adding a fresh coat of paint is also an effective way to refresh these spaces.
  2. Replace Your Garage Door
    Believe it or not, a garage door is one of the areas sellers may overlook — and one that buyers may notice the most! Swapping out a dilapidated garage door for a new model does more than improve its functioning. It also enhances the safety and security of the home while adding to the aesthetic of your curb appeal. Although this is a pricey investment, many homeowners around the country report recouping nearly 100 percent of the investment.
  3. Finish the Basement/Attic
    Maximizing the space in any home is important, especially in houses that may have limited square-footage. While you may not be able to add an addition, you can revamp the existing spaces by turning your attic or basement into a finished room. Putting down flooring, adding insulation, and incorporating new furniture pieces can create a family room, lounge area, or even a guest bedroom. If you also install shelving or cabinetry, you can maximize storage space too.
  4. Integrate Smart Tech
    Smart technology is integrating itself into homes around the country. As these devices and software continue to evolve, they're enabling homeowners to interact with their home in innovative ways. Although not all smart devices are practical for buyers, investing in technology that provides convenience and potentially lowers energy bills can increase your home's value. Programmable thermostats, smart security systems, and smart home systems that unite multiple devices may be the amenities new generations of first-time homebuyers are looking for.
  5. Add a Deck/Patio
    Just as you want to maximize indoor space, you also want to offer ample outdoor space as well. Investing in landscaping is a great way to enhance your aesthetic but you must also keep in mind that buyers may want versatile outdoor living space. Installing a deck or patio with comfortable furniture and a focal point like an outdoor kitchen, firepit, or swimming pool may increase the home's value by offering additional perks that comparable houses don't possess.
  6. Replace Windows/Doors/Roof
    Not all updates are going to be as glitzy as a new bathroom or as entertaining as a finished basement. However, practical enhancements can go a long way in the eyes of the buyer. Replacing windows, doors, or roof systems in older homes can improve the aesthetic, decrease energy costs, and enhance security. It also takes care of any issues that may arise during the inspection before selling your home. 

While every homeowner should stick to a strict budget when making home improvements before listing their property, there are some investments that may increase the value of the home. Consult your real estate agent to discover which updates may pay off the most at closing.

May
14

How to Tell If a Buyer is Serious

Selling your home involves a lot of time, effort, and often a financial investment. With so much put into this transaction from long before the listing until the final closing paperwork is signed, the last thing you want to do as a seller is waste your time trying to respectfully work with buyers who are not serious about purchasing your home. There's a perfect buyer out there for every home and many more who are willing to negotiate to your advantage, which means it's important to learn how to identify the qualified, motivated buyers from those who are simply telling you what you want to hear. 

  1. They are already pre-approved for a mortgage.
    Mortgage pre-approval is a sign that a buyer is serious. Pre-approval signifies that they have their finances in order and will be able to afford your home.
  2. They're asking serious, specific questions about the home.
    While all prospective buyers will ask at least a handful of questions, keep an ear out for questions that are highly specific. Inquires about yearly property taxes, monthly utility bill averages, and other detailed questions show that they're serious about finding the home that fits their needs.
  3. They are well into their search and can clearly define what they're looking for.
    When a buyer can instantly and directly tell you what they're looking for in a home (and what they're not), it demonstrates their seriousness.
  4. Their own home is already up for sale, and they're operating on a timeline.
    Some buyers are working against the clock and are highly motivated to close on a new property, especially if their own home is also listed for sale. Selling your home to another seller may also make negotiations run more fluidly.
  5. They're making frequent trips to visit your home.
    Once your home makes the shortlist for a buyer, they'll try to schedule as many showings as possible. As their visits become more frequent in short intervals, it means they're getting ready to make an offer on one of their shortlisted homes.
  6. Their real estate agent is constantly keeping in touch with yours.
    Follow-ups from open houses are expected, but if a buyer's agent continues to reach out to yours with questions or comments, the buyer is exhibiting a strong interest.
  7. They're already using possessive language.
    Listen closely, and you may hear prospective buyers already referring to the home as "theirs." This shows that they already mentally believe that this will be their home soon.
  8. They've made a strong, reasonable offer.
    The highest offer isn't always the best offer, especially if it seems too good to be true. A motivated (and frankly, wise) buyer will submit a reasonable offer that they believe is fair to both parties.
  9. They're willing to negotiate on some terms.
    While a reasonable offer is a solid indication of their seriousness, including a willingness to negotiate, if necessary, is the cherry on top. A buyer who is already expressing professionalism will likely continue to conduct the transaction with the same demeanor.

Selling your home is a lot smoother of a process when you're only dealing with motivated, qualified buyers. While it's important to be courteous and respectful to every individual who tours your home, it's equally important to expect professionalism and only seriously consider those who are in a position to commit to an offer.

May
7

How to Stop Your Home Sale in Its Tracks

Selling your home is an exciting process, especially when you're oh-so-close to finalizing the sale. Although there may be a hundred and one reasons why a buyer will love your house, there are unfortunately just as many ways that a seller can self-sabotage opportunities to seal the deal — or even receive an initial offer. How can you accidentally stop a home sale in its tracks? Here are a few of the common ways that sellers can upend their own home sale.

  • Pricing the Property Incorrectly
    Every seller believes that their home is worth every penny of the listing price. Sadly, this doesn't always equate to what the appraisal value says or what the buyer is willing to offer. Underpricing can detract just as many buyers as overpricing. Overpriced homes may sit on the market while underpriced homes could make buyers wonder what problems are driving the price down.
  • Creating a Poor Listing
    The price isn't the only consideration buyers weigh when looking at your home online. The listing itself needs to be up to par if you want to draw in qualified and motivated buyers. One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is not using high-quality photographs to showcase the home. Outdated, poor photography coupled with a less than compelling description could make a potential buyer look elsewhere.
  • Neglecting the Exterior
    The importance of curb appeal cannot be understated. The front of the home is the first and last thing buyers will view when touring the property which means it's imperative that you make a fantastic impression. Investing in landscaping as well as enhancing spaces like the front porch, cleaning up the curbside, and maximizing the rear entertaining area will leave a lasting impression. For assistance with the green spaces, consider hiring a landscaping crew to trim and tidy the area up each week.
  • Forgetting to Declutter
    Even if you're selling your home under a tight timeline, you need to put extra effort into preparing for the showing. Too much clutter or lack of organization can make the home seem cramped. Leaving out personal items such as family photographs, awards, or holiday décor may lend too much personality to the home. Remember, buyers need to see themselves in the home, not envision who currently lives there.
  • Choosing Not to Stage
    While there are many instances in which showing a vacant home is an excellent and effective idea, many real estate agents recommend having a professional staging company prepare your home for showings. Their experience is invaluable, as they'll identify the best ways to showcase your home to a diverse audience of buyers.
  • Overlooking Little Problems
    Selling a home is quite a feat and there are many responsibilities to juggle. Unfortunately, forgetting to address the smaller issues of a home can actually create larger problems. Burned-out light bulbs, missing electrical covers, broken blinds, distracting smells, and dirty surfaces can immediately make your home lose its charm. Be thorough in your preparations by having your agent complete a walkthrough with a checklist and consider hiring a cleaning company to give the space a quick clean each week.
  • Hiding Major Problems
    What's worse than forgetting to fix small issues? Trying to hide major issues. You should always be honest when it comes to major problems in the house, especially those that impact the health and safety of the new owners. Not only will these issues likely be uncovered in the inspection, but failing to disclose them could land you in serious trouble.
  • Being Stubborn During Negotiations
    Obviously, every seller wants their asking price and every buyer wants to secure a great deal. While there are many requests from each side that are unreasonable, a seller must be willing to make concessions to successfully close the sale. From replacing an old roof to paying for some closing costs, be willing to negotiate when selling your home.

Selling your home doesn't need to be a frustrating or drawn-out process. By acknowledging the pitfalls that trap other sellers, you can avoid stopping your home sale in its tracks.

April
30

Tips to Avoid Overpricing Your Home

Selling your home can be difficult, especially on an emotional level. Every day spent within these walls has left a mark on your memory. As family and friends gathered to share life's joys with you, this house has become a part of you. When the time comes to sell, it's not uncommon for sellers to recall these memories and allow their emotions to drive up the price. Unfortunately, overpricing your home is one of the worst mistakes a seller can make.

You believe our home is worth every penny of its listing price, and you're not wrong. It's natural for sellers to think that the time, effort, and home improvement investments they invested should be accounted for in the price. However, perceived value and actual value are seldom ever similar when it comes to selling your home.

Two common mistakes sellers make are pricing the home high in hopes to negotiate and purposely pricing the home higher than the comparative market analysis suggests. How can these decisions negatively impact the success of selling your home?

  • Buyers may not feel comfortable offering a lower price. While buyers may offer a price that they believe is reasonable, they also may withhold their offer so that they don't offend the seller.
  • The market can change over time. Today's housing market and tomorrow's housing market may be dramatically different. If your overpriced home sits on the market for too long, there's a chance that interest rates, inventory levels, and economic health may change for the worse.
  • Price reductions may show desperation. If a buyer is interested enough in your home, chances are that they'll monitor the listing for price reductions. When they see that the price has been reduced after the house has been listed for days without success, they make take advantage of your willingness to sell and place an offer that's lower than asking price.
  • Showing quality may suffer. If you're selling your home using tried-and-true tricks like enlisting weekly cleaning services and lawn care maintenance, these costs will quickly add up. Unless you keep investing in your home's presentation, you risk letting the home's visual appeal suffer, which may turn away buyers.
  • High priced homes help other sellers. Even if your home is listed for a few thousand more than another comparable property in your area, you're still viewed as the most expensive. Other sellers may be willing to sweeten their listing by opening themselves up to negotiations from buyers or offering them small incentives that make their property more enticing than yours.

How Can You Avoid Overpricing Your Home?

First, your real estate agent should conduct a competitive market analysis. Then, have your home appraised before listing it so you'll know a reasonable price range. Finally, you should try not to let your emotions influence your perception of the home's value.

Ultimately, your agent's goal is to help you successfully sell your home. An experienced agent or broker who is professional and knowledgeable will price your home for an amount that maximizes your financial benefit while staying within a price range that buyers find reasonable and appealing.

Selling your home can be a positive experience, especially when it's priced to sell. Trust in your agent and the hard data to avoid overpricing your property.  

April
16

How Not to Lose Money When You're Selling

You're selling your home to recoup your investment and fund your financial goals--to lose money during the sale is an unthinkable possibility that unfortunately befalls many sellers.

Even if they successfully sell their home for an amount higher than they originally paid for the property, there are still many ways in which the seller can miss out on thousands of dollars. The following are a few surefire ways you can instantly lose money when selling your home.

  • Not Hiring the Right Listing Agent.
    Enlisting the help of a real estate agent can make a world of difference. An inexperienced real estate agent can help you sell the home, but a dynamic, knowledgeable, and successful agent can help you maximize your profit. These individuals understand real estate transactions on a detailed level and can help you navigate this process to your financial advantage.
  • Trying to Cut Costs
    If you think cutting costs will increase your profit, think again! Investing in specific elements of your home can lead to a higher sale price. High-quality photography for your listing is necessary to encourage buyer interest. Renovations and repairs add value to the house while cosmetic adjustments to the exterior increase curb appeal and add perceived value to the property. Instead of looking for areas to cut costs, highlight the investment opportunities that can add tens of thousands of dollars extra to the sale.
  • Being Stubborn With the Asking Price
    Pricing your home correctly is key to getting the profit margins you want. Although you may believe that the house is worth more than your agent's suggested listing price, overpricing the property could cost you in the long run. Overpricing your home could cause it to linger on the market and eventually cause you to drop its price to attract buyers. Also, contingencies in the purchase contract may allow a buyer to drop out of the sale if the appraisal is significantly lower than the listing price. Setting a realistic price according to the comparative market analysis is typically the most financially sound decision.
  • Intentionally Deceiving Buyers
    Never try to hide important information from your buyers, such as old damages or liens against the home. Not only is this illegal and cost result in penalty fees, but you can also be forced to fix these issues when they are discovered, which will instantly cost you thousands of dollars.
  • Allowing Emotion to Drive Your Decisions
    Selling your home is an emotional decision; however, you cannot let your emotions dictate your decisions throughout the transaction. Negotiations, inspections, and appraisals can create stress, but you must always retain your composure and act professionally. Expressing negative emotions or making rash decisions can drive buyers away and lower your potential earnings.

Though many of these mistakes are common, you can easily avoid them with help from your listing agent. As quickly as you may want to complete the transaction, selling your home takes time, patience, and a level head. Navigate this process responsibly and reasonably to maximize your profits.  

April
2

10 Things to Leave Behind When You're Selling

If you're thinking about selling your home, there will come a time when you'll have to start sorting through your belongings so you can pack up and move out. Not only will you likely feel surprised by the sheer number of things you've accumulated, but you may also start to wonder whether you should leave some of them behind. The answer, of course, is yes! 

Some things are considered part of the buyer's contract and must be left in the home. Leaving certain other items will make life easier for the new buyer while also limiting the amount of stuff you need to deal with. 

Before you do any more packing, take a look at this list of ten items you'll definitely want to leave behind when selling your home.

  1. Window Treatments & Hardware
    Window treatments, like curtains and blinds, aren't likely to do you much good in your new home. They probably won't fit right or go with your new decor. Plus, the new buyers will appreciate the added privacy. 
  2. Light Fixtures
    Anything that's attached to your home is typically assumed to be included in the sale. If you have a certain light fixture that you just can't bear to part with, make sure the contract explicitly states that it's not included. You'll also need to replace it with another fixture. Make sure to leave the lightbulbs too. Not only is it rude to leave the new buyers in the dark, but it's hard to move them without worrying about breakage. 
  3. Certain Appliances
    While it's fine to take freestanding appliances with you, anything that's hard-wired or attached to the home's plumbing should be left behind. This includes built-in dishwashers, range hoods, cooktops, and ovens. 
  4. Owner's Manuals & Warranties
    If you have the owner's manuals and warranties for any of the appliances or home accessories you're leaving behind, make sure to leave those for the new owners as well. This will make it easier for them to order parts and get service when they need it. 
  5. Leftover Paint
    You'll have no use for leftover cans of paint, and disposing of them can be a pain. Luckily, the new owners will probably want them. This will be a lifesaver when they need a small touchup. 
  6. In-Ground Features
    Items that are attached to the ground are considered part of the real estate property rather than your personal property. This means you need to leave behind things like your mailbox, firepits, and in-ground landscape lighting. 
  7. Outdoor Plants
    You should also leave your landscaping alone. Not only will the new buyer expect all of the trees, bushes, and flowers to be there when they move in, but it's unlikely that they'll survive being transplanted anyway. 
  8. Extra Keys
    Most new homeowners change the locks right away, but it's still a good idea to leave any extra keys. This will give them extra peace of mind and you'll have no need for them anyway. 
  9. Garage Door Opener
    If you forget to leave the garage door openers, the new homeowner will have to deal with the hassle of replacing them. Although they may decide to do this anyway, leaving them is just the right thing to do. 
  10. Hardwired Systems
    If you have a portable security system and cameras that aren't permanently attached to the home then it's fine to take them with you. However, anything that's hard-wired should be left behind. 

If you're in doubt about whether a certain item should come with you or stay behind, don't hesitate to ask your real estate agent. This is just one of the many ways that a great agent can make selling your home a breeze! 

March
26

Here's How to Sell Your Home for Top Dollar

Selling your home for top dollar is a priority--but is it a realistic possibility? For many sellers, this type of real estate transaction is new and can seem quite confusing. Thankfully, many real estate agents have happily shared tips on how to successfully increase the chances of selling a home for an outstanding price. Before you list your property, consider these ten pieces of advice.

  1. Acknowledge Your Emotional Attachment
    Whether you've lived in the home for a year or your entire life, your emotional attachment to the property can cloud your professional judgment. Understand that you must approach price setting and negotiations reasonably to secure a great selling price.
  2. Choose Your Agent Wisely
    The difference between an experienced and knowledgeable agent and an agent who is subpar can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars. Dynamic agents will strive for a lucrative, yet reasonable sale while poor agents may leave money on the table.
  3. Complete Repairs/Renovations Early
    Selling your home can be much easier if you've already repaired or remodeled areas that need work. By completing these projects before the showings begin, you present a proud property without glaring issues that could drive down the home's price.
  4. List Appropriately
    Some agents will suggest pricing aggressively while other brokers will suggest pricing undervalue. The truth is that each home's listing price is determined by a variety of factors, many of which change from year to year. Consult your agent and examine comp houses to find the appropriate price.
  5. Use Hi-Res Photography and Videography
    The first place your buyers will likely view your home is online. By investing in high-quality photography and enabling a video tour of the home, you can convince buyers to schedule a home showing immediately.
  6. Offer Incentives
    If you want to get top dollar for your home, then be ready to help the buyer receive a great deal for the property. Incentives such as paying for closing costs, inspections, or upgrades can sweeten the deal for the buyer and make them believe that they are getting their money's worth.
  7. Remember the Value of Curb Appeal
    Curb appeal can make or break a home sale which is why you must make it a top priority. Invest in landscaping, new garage doors, fresh paint, and repair outdoor features to leave a good impression with anyone who drives by.
  8. Stage Appropriately
    Staging is another element of selling your home that can be tricky. In some cases, hiring professional stagers can transform the space. In other instances, leaving the home empty and clean will allow each individual buyer to envision the home to their preferred arrangement. Consult your agent for assistance with staging.
  9. Be Transparent With Buyers
    The best way to increase buyer confidence when selling your home is to be as transparent as possible. While you don't have to point out every squeaky floorboard, you should present them with as much legitimate information pertaining to the house as possible. This includes receipts and warranties on remodels or appliances, any significant damage to the home that was repaired, and any new features added.
  10. Consider Pre-Appraisals and Pre-Inspections
    A pre-appraisal will help you establish a firm and reasonable listing price while a pre-inspection will shed light on any problems that could detract the buyer. By conducting these before showing your home, you are able to confidently present the buyer with a listing price that leaves little room for doubt.

Selling your home is quite an undertaking, but a little patience, understanding, and hard work can go a long way. Consider these tips before you list your home and speak with your real estate agent about other ways you may be able to secure a higher asking price.

March
19

Keep in Touch with Neighbors After You Move

Selling a home is the start of a new chapter in life, but that doesn't mean you can't retain important elements of your previous life, such as your old friendships with neighbors. Even though you may not live close by, you should try to maintain and strengthen your relationships with those you care about. Use these five suggestions to keep in touch with your friends and neighbors after you relocate.

  1. Social Media
    Social media has forever changed the way that we can stay in touch, communicate, and reconnect with those from our past and present. Because these applications are generally easy to use and are available on everything from smartphones and computers to televisions and gaming systems, it's never been easier to stay in the loop with what's going on in an old friend's life. Add your neighbors to your friends' list so you can keep up with their status updates and talk whenever you wish.
  2. Texting & Phone Calls
    Similar to social media, text messaging is another rapid way to communicate with others casually. Though it may be considered a little more formal, a phone call is an equally easy way to reach out. Many people find a phone call to be a more personal and significant gesture. Setting the time aside to speak with someone over the phone is a great way to catch up and lend an emotional depth to your conversation that is often absent in text-based messaging.
  3. Special Correspondence
    Phone calls and emails are effective, but that doesn't mean you need to limit your communication to these simple methods. Infrequent yet special ways of reaching out, such as writing a letter or sending a gift, are quite a meaningful gesture. Sending a handwritten letter or small package through traditional mail shows that you care enough to go the extra mile to make your old neighbors feel appreciated.
  4. Schedule & Stick to Plans
    Although distance can create obstacles for frequent in-person communication, you can plan ahead and schedule dates to meet with your former neighbors. As you chat via social media or on the phone, schedule a time to get together for lunch or coffee. It could be to celebrate a special occasion or just any old weekday that you both have time available. Whichever you decide, make sure you make this meeting a priority — postponing or rescheduling will make time slip by before you know it.
  5. Make a Sincere Effort
    Ultimately, the best way to stay in touch with your former neighbors is by communicating via a method and frequency that is meaningful to them. For instance, some individuals value friendships that have frequent communication regardless of form. Other individuals may be satisfied with not communicating for long periods of time, provided that the times that you two do speak or see each other are spent enjoying each other's company.

Staying in touch with your longtime friends and neighbors after selling a home doesn't need to be difficult. By using a variety of communication methods, going the extra mile to stay connected in-person, and understanding what makes your old friends feel appreciated, you can maintain and strengthen your relationships with your previous neighbors no matter how far away you've relocated after selling a home. 

March
5

Why Your Home May Not Be Selling

Selling your home can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when it's still sitting on the market. Despite interest from buyers, busy open houses, and reassurance from your real estate agent that your patience will be rewarded, your listing has yet to secure an offer. Unfortunately, even the best efforts can yield unfavorable results. If you're having trouble selling your home, you may want to investigate these common problems that keep properties on the market for ages.

  • Incorrect Pricing
    Your listing price can make or break your home sale. Although you may believe that one amount may be a reasonable price, the reality is that overpricing your home even by a few thousand dollars can turn buyers away. Investigate recent sales of comparable houses in your immediate area and identify an amount that would make your listing attractive to buyers while still allowing you to maximize your earnings.
  • The Market is Not Favorable
    Selling your home in a buyer's market can be tricky. With so many other properties priced to sell, it's not uncommon for reasonably priced homes with attractive features to stay listed for months. Competition is steep during a buyer's market, but keep in mind that the time of the year can also delay your sale even when the market is more favorable towards sellers. For example, some homes sell slower during the winter or during the holiday season. Failing to list your home strategically during the right market periods can significantly delay your sale.
  • Low-Quality Listing
    For many potential home buyers, the decision to visit a property is made by looking at the listing. Although the essential details of your property may be listed truthfully, a poorly written listing with low-quality photography can turn buyers away. A digital or print listing is the first impression you'll present to buyers — if they aren't impressed with the listing, they may never visit your home. Invest in high-quality photography and make sure that the wording of your listing captivates buyers with rich detail that makes them fall in love with the home before they even see it in person.
  • Underwhelming Curb Appeal
    Never underestimate the value of curb appeal. Even if you've invested in quality photography, a potential buyer may choose not to visit a home if they don't find the yard and exterior attractive. Invest in weekly lawn care and make sure you do your best to clean up trash or debris around the exterior. You want your curb appeal to warmly welcome buyers into the home and not cause them to turn around before they've parked their car.
  • Poor Staging
    Just as the exterior of your home needs to be inviting, your interior must also be just as alluring to buyers. Depending on the dimensions of your home, sometimes leaving the space empty is more preferable than staging it. Incorrect staging can make a home feel cramped or fail to highlight the key features of each space. Another issue with staging may be found in your personal belongings — buyers want to envision themselves in the home which is difficult to do if you have photographs, keepsakes, or a unique style dominating the space.
  • A Specific Problem
    Have you noticed that many buyers visiting your home have had the same hesitations? If there's a specific issue with the home, discovered through the feedback your agent receives from viewers, determine how it can be fixed. If it can't be fixed, consider coming down on your price.

Even if you're having trouble selling your home, don't lose hope! It's not too late to make a few quick changes and secure a fantastic offer!

February
27

How to Make the Most of Multiple Offers

Selling your home is an exciting feeling, especially when you receive multiple offers. Of course, any number of offers are beneficial, but many sellers don't know which steps to take next. If two or more buyers submit attractive offers, you'll need to evaluate more than the amount itself. When it comes to selling your home, price isn't everything. We recommend that all sellers learn how to compare multiple competing offers to determine which is the best for their unique needs.

While it may seem like there's no such thing as too many offers, receiving multiple offers can be overwhelming. Naturally, the highest amounts will immediately catch your attention — and perhaps cause the lower amounts to fall to the wayside. Before you choose a buyer based on the highest offer alone, we suggest that you also weigh the following considerations in your decision-making process.

  • Pre-Approvals
    When fielding multiple offers, you should pay attention to buyers who are already pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval for a mortgage loan removes an element of uncertainty that exists when a buyer waits to apply for funding.
  • Contingencies
    Although some buyers will submit high-priced offers, these amounts may also come with contingencies. Some contingencies may prevent you from successfully selling your home, as they legally allow the buyer to walk away from the sale penalty-free if their contingencies are not met. Offers with the fewest contingencies are typically more preferable, even if the offer price isn't the highest.
  • Closing Timeframe
    If you need a quick close or additional time after closing to vacate the property, you may desire a buyer who is willing to cater to your needs. In contrast, if a buyer insists on a timetable that does not work with your schedule, a rushed close may be more expensive in the long run.
  • Other Reasonable Offers
    Even if you believe you've identified the most attractive offer, you must acknowledge other reasonable offers. In some cases, you may accept an offer only for negotiations to fall apart before the transaction is finalized. When your preferred buyer is no longer an option, you'll want to know which other reasonable offers will provide you with the next best agreement.
  • Agent Advice
    Remember, you're not alone in selling your home. Your agent or broker has your best interest at heart. When considering multiple offers, ask your agent for advice. They'll objectively help you assess each offer to identify which has the most benefits and fewest drawbacks.

When you're selling your home, you need to be prepared to field multiple offers from qualified buyers. While many of these amounts will be attractive, there are other factors to consider besides the price itself. Evaluate these offers using the suggestions above and consult your agent for advice on choosing the offer that suits your needs.

February
20

Can Staging Increase Your Final Sales Price?

If you've been thinking about selling your home, you've probably considered the question of whether you really need staging. After all, it's an extra expense and it requires some effort -- so is it really worth it? 

The answer is... maybe. Here are a few things to consider. 

What is Staging, Anyway? 

In case you're not familiar, staging involves setting up a home so that it looks as appealing as possible to potential buyers. In many cases, this involves bringing in the right kind of furniture, artwork, home decor, and more. 

Buying a home is a very emotional decision. In many cases, great staging can help a potential buyer envision what it would be like to live in the home. Once they make this emotional connection, they're more likely to put in an offer. 

Since 95% of homebuyers spend at least part of their time searching for homes online, the way your home photographs can also have a huge impact on how quickly it sells. A professional stager will know exactly how to ensure your home is presented in the best possible light both in photographs and in person. 

The Link Between Staging and Selling Price 

Staging prior to selling your home may help you get a better offer. According to the National Association of Realtors, 25% of agents representing buyers said that home staging increased the home's selling price by up to 5%. Another 12% said staging gave their offers up to a 10% boost. 

When talking to agents representing sellers, these numbers were even higher. Twenty-two percent of them attributed staging to a price bump of up to 5%, 17% said that staging brought the price up by up to 10% and another 2% attributed it to a whopping 20% price increase! 

How Staging Affects Time on the Market

According to the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), a home that has not been staged spends an average of 143 days on the market. In contrast, homes that were staged before they were listed stayed on the market for a mere 23 days. If selling your home fast is a priority, it's clear that staging is something you'll definitely want to consider.

Even if you've already listed your home, staging may be worth it. According to the same study, homes that were staged after they were listed sold within 40 days from the time the staging occurred. While these statistics will vary from location to location and home to home, it's still likely that staging will set you up to sell faster. 

Should You Stage Your Home? 

Despite the statistics above, it should be noted that your particular home may not necessarily need staging. While approximately 28% of real estate agents say that they stage all homes they sell, the rest tend to take it on a case-by-case basis. 

Approximately 13% of agents only recommend staging for difficult-to-sell homes while another 7% say that they only recommend staging for luxury homes in high tax brackets.

When selling your home, it's always a good idea to consult with an agent you can trust. This person will help you weigh the pros and cons of staging so you can determine whether it's a good idea for your specific home. 

February
13

Your Post-Sale To-Do List

Selling your home is a wonderful feeling, but there's plenty still left to do after you've accepted an offer on your former property. Regardless if you're purchasing a new home or if you're moving into a rental property, all sellers need to consider these ten things after selling their homes.

  1. Stay Organized
    All of the documents you've received during this transaction will continue to be relevant long after you've completed the sale. Store these documents in a secure space and make backup copies available on a digital storage device.
  2. Clear Out Your Belongings & Trash
    During your final walkthrough, make sure all of your possessions not included in the sale are removed. Be sure to check all spaces for items or trash, including cabinets, closets, pantries, garages, attics, and crawl spaces.
  3. Have a Plan for Long-term Storage
    If you're not immediately moving into a space large enough for all of your possessions, you'll need to budget for a long-term storage plan. Find temporary housing for your items and research other options that will work best with your lifestyle needs and budget.
  4. Leave All Essential Paperwork
    As you leave your former home for the last time, be sure to leave behind all essential paperwork that the new owner may need. This requires all permitting, insurance, warranties, service receipts, and other paperwork concerning the home's structural and legal standing.
  5. Cancel Old Services
    Contact utility and other service providers so that you can cancel all services to the home and switch them over to your new property.
  6. Change Your Address
    Contact the post office to officially change your address and make sure you contact subscription providers to update your information.
  7. Research Tax Breaks
    In many situations, sellers are eligible for certain tax breaks associated with their home sale. Consult your agent or a CPA for more information about the current tax laws.
  8. Allocate Your Sale Sum Wisely
    Unless you are immediately investing the funds received from the sale of your home into a new property, it's wise to consult a financial advisor about the best ways to save or spend this large sum.
  9. Consider Your Next Steps
    Now that you've finished selling your home, you may be wondering what steps you should take next. No matter where you believe your path is headed, we suggest that all sellers approach their next decisions with patience.
  10. Celebrate Your Success
    Selling your home is quite the triumph and you deserve to celebrate your accomplishment. The next steps will unfold in time. Until then, take a moment to reflect on this success with pride.

Before you toast to new beginnings, make sure you tend to these ten tips to ensure that your hard work continues to pay off. Through planning, patience, and practical decision-making, you can set yourself up nicely for the next chapter of your life!

February
6

Is Your Pooch Putting Your Resale Value in the Dog House?

Are you a pet owner that's hoping to sell your home? As much as you love your four-legged friend or cuddly critter, all homeowners should be aware that the presence of a pet can negatively impact the resale value of your home. While most pet owners are prepared for the cleaning, repair and insurance costs that some pets create, there are many animal lovers that don't realize the specific ways in which these family members can turn away those buying a house.

  • Wear & Tear
    Perhaps the most prominent sign of pet residence is the wear and tear they contribute to the home. Stained carpets, scratched flooring, chewed furniture and scraped walls are easy to spot and can lessen the perceived value of the home. After seeing these markings, many homebuyers will wonder what other damages are hidden throughout the house.
  • Odors
    Smells are hard to get rid of, especially those from cat or dog secretions. Even if we cannot smell them, animals may still be able to. It's not uncommon for dogs or cats to try and make their territory by covering these odors with their own scents. If a buyer can sense these smells, or is aware that a pet has lived in the home, it may deter them from buying.
  • Exterior Issues
    Don't forget that your pet might damage your exterior as well. Dogs will dig holes throughout the yard, potentially damaging the lawn and making it less attractive. Fences, outdoor furniture, and other features may be scratched, bitten or peed on. With curb appeal and rear yard space a top priority for buyers, some may not desire a home that has an outdoor area that looks abused.
  • Pet-Friendly Living
    When a pet is part of the family, prospective buyers try to find a home that caters to these creatures. A large backyard, local dog park or spaces that can be used as the animal's playroom are great features for pets. However, not all homebuyers desire these features. A large backyard may be too much work for older adults trying to downsize. Those with a fear of or allergy to animals may not want to live in a community that caters to pet-lovers.
  • Pet-Unfriendly Living
    On the flip side, your home may not be suitable for certain pets. Smaller rodents, cats or dogs can easily live in a modest space but larger animals cannot. Families buying a house with medium to large-sized dogs may pass on your property if it doesn't meet their animal's needs.

Don't worry! If you do have a pet, you can still successfully sell your home for a great price. Here are a few tips to follow when listing and showing the space to those buying a house:

  • Consider having your space professionally staged with furniture that doesn't show wear and tear from animals.
  • Remove all signs of pets like cages, food bowls, and toys — in and out of the home — when taking photographs for the listing and viewings.
  • Don't forget to remove décor like photographs of you and pets too.
  • Ask a neighbor without pets to visit your home to discover if they can smell any pet odors.
  • Hire a professional cleaning service that specializes in pets to make your space look and smell amazing.
  • It's best to take your animals with you when you leave the house for buyers to view.
  • Be prepared to negotiate if the buyer considers pet damage to be a loss of value in the home.

Even though your dog or other animals may lower your resale value, you can still successfully sell your home for a great price. Follow these steps to ensure you're being considerate of the buyer's feelings towards pets and show them that this can be the home of their dreams with or without a furry family member.

January
30

6 Things That Can Go Wrong When Selling Your Home

The average home spends anywhere from 30 days to 90 days on the market before attracting the right buyer. Buyers may jockey for position for several weeks before one pulls ahead of the pack and gives you a clear path to selling your home.

Even when things are looking up, don't drop your guard. Selling your home isn't a done deal until the closing day is over – when the papers are signed, the keys have been handed off, and you are ready to move forward on your future.

With help from an experienced real estate agent, you can avoid situations that might otherwise end your sale at the last moment. Still, it's a good idea to get prepared in advance. The more you know, the easier it is to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Let's look at some things that can cause headaches late in selling your home:

  1. Last-Minute Financing Woes
    Nearly a third of all settlement delays are related to buyer financing issues. The best way to avoid them is to be sure you're dealing exclusively with qualified buyers. Sellers are protected most when a reputable lender has preapproved buyers. Preapproval means they can move forward and get a loan package issued within days after selecting a home.
  2. Title Delays and Defects
    The title is the legal document that proves your ownership of the house and its associated land. A title company must review years of records to ensure you have the legal right to sell. Relatively small issues, such as a minor fine or tax obligation, can cause problems. Review and follow up on any debts that may have resulted in a lien against your property.
  3. Problems With Final Walkthrough
    Early in the selling process, a home must be inspected from top to bottom. A trained inspector compiles all issues in need of repair. If there are any problems, the inspection report usually forms the basis of an agreement between the buyer and seller about what will get done. The final walkthrough is the buyer's chance to determine if all repairs are completed as agreed.
  4. Missing Closing Disclosure (CD) Form
    Closing Disclosure is one of the most vital pieces of paperwork when you're selling your home. It outlines the buyer's loan terms and all the closing costs related to the sale. The title company or mortgage lender is responsible for getting the CD to the buyer at least three full days before closing. Agents from both parties can touch base to ensure it is sent on time.
  5. Closing Document Mistakes
    Not all closing day document errors will stop you in your tracks, but some will. One common issue is misspelled middle names. The most serious problems crop up when unexpected fees are outlined in closing documents. To avoid these surprises, remember you can request to read all the documents in advance. That includes the Closing Statement of all closing-related charges.
  6. Last-Minute Buyer Decisions
    Sadly for sellers, it's not within their control if buyers have a last-minute change of heart. It can and does happen, often literally on closing day. Luckily, you won't come out of it empty-handed. When buyers don't move forward, the earnest money deposit is forfeited to the seller. A larger deposit (and a down payment) tends to show seriousness about the agreement.

Early preparation lays the groundwork for you to avoid these six show-stopping issues as you sell your home. Connect with the right real estate agent early on, and you'll be much more likely to find a like-minded buyer, too.

January
23

5 Ways an Agent Can Help You Sell Your Home

So you're selling your home, and you've decided to save money by taking the DIY route. In reality, studies show for sale by owner (FSBO) homes sell for approximately 30 percent less than homes represented by a real estate agent. Can you afford to pass that up?

Here are five significant reasons why working with a real estate agent is the best advantage you can have when selling your home.

  1. Higher Visibility
    What type of marketing plan would you come up with to sell your home quickly and profitably? There's the traditional sign on the front lawn. You can place ads on Craigslist and other online sites since almost no one reads newspapers anymore. That's about where it ends. A real estate agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, where pictures and information about your home are readily available to other agents, including those in different geographic areas. Experienced agents also have an extensive professional network that can yield numerous word-of-mouth referrals.

  2. Greater Negotiating Power
    While you may pride yourself on the ability to drive a hard bargain at art fairs and festival marketplaces, negotiating the sale price of a home is an entirely different arena. Even minor issues can mean a difference of thousands of dollars. With extensive experience in negotiations, a real estate agent can advise you when to make concessions, when to stand pat, and how to make a strategic counteroffer. 

  3. Knowledge of Legal Terminology and Requirements
    Escrow. Title insurance. Balloon payment. FHA mortgage. These terms might make your eyes glaze over, but a real estate agent has a working knowledge of all terminology involved in real estate transactions. The agent can then explain the terms to you in language you can understand. Also, real estate agents stay informed on the current state and local regulations so they can make sure you comply with every step of selling your home.

  4. Accurate Pricing Skills
    Your home may be priceless in your eyes, but a buyer isn't going to care about family holidays and other sentimental memories. A real estate agent has access to a wealth of information such as comparable home sales, or comps, to guide you in setting an optimized but fair selling price. More importantly, an agent doesn't have an emotional investment in your home, so they can provide an objective assessment.

  5. Dedicated Service
    How do you fit in the numerous activities involved in selling your home around the demands of your job? For a real estate agent, selling your home IS their job. The words "too busy" aren't in an agent's vocabulary. They're ready and able to field calls from buyers and other agents, handle marketing tasks and host open houses. Real estate agents have a fiduciary responsibility to you as a client, meaning they're bound by law to look out for your best interests.

Don't stumble your way through what is probably the most significant financial transaction of your life. Selling your home with the help of a real estate agent pays off financially, physically, and emotionally.

January
16

Don't Lose Money When Selling Your Home

At the end of the day, selling your home is a means to an end. Whether you're downsizing, relocating for work, or simply need a space that meets your current financial and lifestyle needs, you're relying on your home sale to help facilitate the purchase of a new home. The question is: Will you lose money when you sell your home?

Selling your home is easier said than done, especially if this is your first time navigating a real estate transaction. Unfortunately, this opens up many opportunities for mistakes to be made — even by homeowners who have already successfully sold a home. The following are the common mistakes that could cause you to leave money on the table:

  • Listing at the wrong time.
    With or without an agent to help you, there are certain times when selling your home may be more difficult than others. The winter, for instance, may yield fewer buyers. Attempting to sell in a poor market could also present you with obstacles.
  • Not hiring a knowledgeable and motivated real estate agent.
    The difference between a dynamic real estate agent and a run of the mill agent can mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars. Their experience and knowledge will help you navigate every part of the process so that you have the best chance of securing a reasonable offer for your home.
  • Not trusting your agent.
    If you're hiring an agent, you must trust their opinion and expertise. Although you may have a differing opinion, it's important to respect and place your confidence in their suggestions. Their goal is your goal — successfully selling your home.
  • Not investing in professional photography for the listing.
    Before buyers visit your home, they'll almost certainly view it online. Without professional photography, you're not giving the best first impression possible. Invest in professional photography so that buyers fall in love with your home before they even set foot on your doorstep.
  • Becoming too emotionally invested in your home.
    Your home is part of your life, part of your family. While it's understandable that you'll go through a variety of emotions during the listing and negotiation, you must remember that this is a business traction that requires professionalism. Don't allow your emotions or ego to influence the process.
  • Choosing not to stage the home.
    Some homes are best sold empty, but most homes will perform better when they are professionally staged. Staging the home removes clutter and eyesores, replacing them with furnishings that help the buyer envision life in the space.
  • Failing to clean, renovate, or repair the home.
    Before you stage the home, you must make sure that it's professionally cleaned, any renovations are finished, and that all repairs are professionally completed. Any unfinished elements will detract from the aesthetic and may make the buyer assume that there are other problems hidden in the home.
  • Trying to hide serious issues.
    Never lie, fail to disclose, or try to cover up issues in the home. This is illegal and unethical. By being open and honest with your agent and buyer, you safeguard yourself legally and financially.
  • Being too firm on price.
    Pricing your home can be tricky. You don't want to price it too high nor too low. You also don't want to set an unrealistic value on the home that does not align with current market trends. Trust your agent's judgment on the listing price and during negotiations.
  • Playing hardball with buyers.
    When you receive an offer, be open to contingencies, counteroffers, or other negotiations they may ask you to consider. The goal is to find a reasonable middle ground that both you and the buyer can respectfully agree on.

Selling your home is a detailed process but a thorough understanding of these transactions will help you ensure that you don't make mistakes that cause you to lose money on your sale.

January
9

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home?

Has selling your home crossed your mind? For many homeowners, the thought of selling their house is quite conflicting. On one hand, it's the space where your family and friends gather to celebrate the moments of life, both little and large. On the other, sometimes relocating to a new space is the change you need to accommodate your current finances and lifestyle. One way that you can identify if it's time for you to move is when you notice that you've outgrown your current home.

Have you outgrown your current home? Here are ten signs it is the perfect opportunity to sell your home.

  1. Your children are growing up.
    As your children grow, so will their needs. Sharing bedrooms and bathrooms may not be practical anymore, especially if you have boys and girls of different ages.
  2. Aging adults are moving in.
    The birth of a new child isn't the only way your family can grow. If you or your partner have aging adults that need to move into your home, you'll need more space. Often, a spare bedroom isn't enough to accommodate their needs. Parents and grandparents may need a separate living space in addition to their own bathroom, bedroom, and even kitchen.
  3. There is no dedicated space to work.
    Are your kitchen counters covered with paperwork? Do your children struggle to do their homework at the dining room table as you're trying to set places for dinner? If there is no dedicated office or space in bedrooms for your family to work, you may need a larger home.
  4. Your family needs room for playtime, hobbies, and activities.
    Additional space is required for more than just paperwork and homework. If there's no room for children to play with their toys or adults to engage in their hobbies, the house can feel quite cramped. This is especially problematic when you realize that dedicated spaces like a garage, basement, or attic can't adequately double as activity spaces and storage spaces.
  5. Storage is increasingly limited.
    Are your possessions neatly tucked away or are they always in the way? If you're having trouble finding adequate storage space for your family's items, it will make your home feel much smaller.
  6. You need more — or less — outdoor space.
    While it's common for many families to desire a larger yard space for outdoor entertaining, there are just as many homeowners that have outgrown their lawns. Whether you're in need of more space or less lawn care, a new home may accommodate your outdoor needs.
  7. There are major life changes occurring in your family.
    Selling your home is sometimes the best option when you find yourself entering into a major life transition such as a change in finances or occupation.
  8. You're outgrowing your neighborhood or neighbors.
    Even though you love your home, you may feel the need to change your surroundings. If you desire a neighborhood or neighbors that align with your lifestyle, selling your home is an option.
  9. You've been passively looking at other homes.
    Do you catch yourself browsing listings even though you're not "actively" looking? That's a firm indicator that you're ready for something new.
  10. You're not in love with your home anymore.
    Simply put — if it's not the home of your dreams anymore, you should consider selling.

Selling your home is a major decision that shouldn't be made lightly. Consider these points, have an open discussion with your family, and reach out to a real estate agent if you believe now is the right time to sell.

January
2

How to Sell a Home with a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage is a type of mortgage loan that enables homeowners, particularly seniors, to access the accumulated equity value of their home without selling it.

Reverse mortgages first arrived in the 1960s but have become popular in recent years. More homeowners are using them for the funds required to comfortably age in place.

Sometimes, however, plans change. Some homeowners discover they want to move after all, perhaps to be close to family. Others move into an assisted living environment to help them with the demands of aging. What happens to the reverse mortgage then?

Good news: You can still sell a home with a reverse mortgage – if you know how.

Selling Your Home With a Reverse Mortgage

The majority of homes on the market have an outstanding mortgage. A reverse mortgage is very similar. Although it might seem intimidating, it merely means you'll need to do things in the right order.

Here's the best approach to selling your home with a reverse mortgage:

  1. Consider Prepaying Your Mortgage
    One of the most important things to remember about a reverse mortgage is that you can pay it any time you are able. Some other loans include penalties that cost you more money if you pay early – a reverse mortgage is required to be penalty-free. Look at your budget, goals, and resources to determine whether paying early ("prepayment") is a possibility.
  2. Discuss Things With Your Lender
    To move forward on paying any part of your loan, you'll need a formal payoff quote from your lender. A payoff quote is more accurate than the account summary you may be able to obtain on the lender website, but it is only valid for a short period of time. Your lender may also be able to suggest payment options to help facilitate your moving goals.
  3. Contact a Real Estate Agent
    When your home is sold, the proceeds are used to pay off the remaining balance of your reverse mortgage. With that in mind, it's vital to connect with the right real estate agent. He or she can ensure your home is priced to sell while still meeting all your financial goals. Attracting reliable, motivated buyers within 90 days is the hallmark of a successful sale.
  4. List Your Home for Sale
    Once your real estate agent is up to date on your needs, he or she can take the reins on the selling process. Still, it's wise to be ready to provide a unique perspective only you can offer. For example, the seller is often a crucial part of a successful open house. Your agent will advise you on the attention your property is getting, and layout offers for you to consider.
  5. Optionally, Talk to a Real Estate Attorney
    It isn't usually crucial, but a real estate attorney can do some extra footwork to be sure your reverse mortgage is fully paid off. This extra layer of verification will protect you from any chance the funds you get from the home sale aren't used the way you want.
  6. Get Evidence of Your Loan Payment
    Last, but not least, follow up with your reverse mortgage lender one last time. They should issue a final statement that shows your balance is paid off in full. This can be sent to you in the form of registered mail you have to sign for, so the receipt is confirmed on all sides.

Selling your home with a reverse mortgage doesn't have to be a headache. Reach out to a real estate agent you can trust, and they'll make the process easier.

December
26

How to Price Your Home Like a Pro

No matter what else you do to prepare when selling your home, pricing the home correctly is often the single most important factor in attracting the right buyer. Price the home too high, and it can be nearly impossible to get a competitive offer. Go too low, and you may be leaving money on the table when it's time to close the deal. Fortunately, picking the right price is mostly science, and you can jumpstart the process with our guide for how to price your home like a pro.

  • Avoid the Temptation to Overprice
    Perhaps the most common mistake when pricing a home is setting the price too high, and that can happen for a variety of reasons. While it's true that it only takes one buyer to meet your price, finding that one buyer can be nearly impossible if your price is well above the market. That goal should be to set the price as close to market value as possible, in order to attract the best offers.
  • The Difference Between Real and Sentimental Value
    When pricing your home, it's easy to fall into the trap of overpricing based on the sentimental value of the home. No matter how many great memories you've created in the home or how much you've come to love the quirks of the property, buyers are focused more on the real, concrete value of the home. Always try to separate sentimental value from actual value when setting a price.
  • Rely on Your Real Estate Agent and Comparable Sales
    The good news is that you're far from alone when selling your home, and your real estate agent should be an invaluable resource when setting a price. Your agent can provide a comparative market analysis (CMA), which looks at comparable sales to determine the right price for your home. By understanding what local homes like yours are selling for, you can choose an appealing price based on hard data.
  • What You Can Learn from a CMA
    How does a CMA help you arrive at the right price? The goal is to look at homes that are nearly identical to yours based on square footage, floor plan, amenities, and location. You'll be able to see what similar homes are selling for and gain an understanding of how long overpriced homes are sitting on the market. The closer you set your price to the home's true market value, the easier it is to find a buyer.
  • The Benefits of a Lower Price
    You don't want to list the property for a bargain price, but going slightly lower than market value can actually result in better offers. A slightly lower price can attract multiple opening offers, leading to a bidding war and stronger final offers.
  • Be Willing to Adjust If Necessary
    Following the data and relying on the help of your real estate agent should help you arrive at a price that gets your home sold, but no process is perfect. If your home is sitting on the market longer than you'd like, then it's important to be willing to adjust. Your real estate agent can help you take a second look, and adjust to the realities of the market.

While there's no one way to set the perfect price when selling your home, the most important factor is to rely on the expertise of your real estate agent. With a comparative market analysis and a deep understanding of your local real estate market, you can choose a price that gets your home sold while meeting your financial goals.

December
19

10 Gifts to Leave for Your Home's New Owner

Moving into or out of a home is an event that is filled with lots of emotions for everyone. Those can range from happiness to sadness to excitement, or even a little fear. Leaving a small but thoughtful gift for the new owners of your home can help you close that period of your life a little easier. It's also a nice gesture to welcome the new owners and let them know you wish them well. Try one of these suggestions. 

  1. Gift card for a nearby restaurant.
    Look for something that serves variety and just about anyone would like. If you can find one that delivers too, that can be a big help on moving day.
  2. Neighborhood guide.
    Include information for nearby restaurants and grocery stores, favorite boutiques, the nearest gym or any place nearby they might need right away,
  3. Personalized keyring.
    A good keyring is a necessity for the new keys. You can get a monogrammed one or something engraved for a special touch.
  4. New doormat.
    A doormat automatically makes the entrance look welcoming. And it's something that is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of moving. You can go for something personalized with a monogram or family's last name or just something that fits with the style of the house. 
  5. Specialty coffee and/or tea.
    Few people want to tackle their first morning in a new house without a cup of coffee first. If you have a coffee shop in the neighborhood that roasts their own or sells locally roasted it's a nice way to offer a connection to the new neighborhood. 
  6. A vase.
    Fresh flowers can make a home look more inviting and the new owners can pick their own from the yard or buy some. You don't have to know their decor style since vases are very versatile. 
  7. A plant.
    Again, it gives a nice homey touch and many plants are low maintenance but still look nice. 
  8. A small package of toilet paper in each bathroom.
    It's not so much a gift and requires no explanation, but it is a nice gesture and much appreciated. Let's face it, it's the one thing you don't want to be digging through moving boxes for when you need it. 
  9. Gift card for a local store.
    A gift card to a local store or even nearby department store to help add a personal touch to their new home is often a much-appreciated gift. 
  10. A locally unique item.
    You should probably stay away from food because of allergies and storage issues, but there are other options. A framed map of the neighborhood, something with a connection to local history, fridge magnets that celebrate something unique about the city or state, or a cutting board in the shape of your state are just a few examples. The internet and local boutiques and markets are good places to find these items. Going with something that uses local materials or was created by a local artisan can make it a nice way to connect with the new neighborhood.

Moving into a new home can be quite an experience and leaving a little gift for the new owners with a note to wish them well is a nice gesture that will be appreciated.

December
12

6 Things You Need to Know About Buying a Duplex

A duplex is a multi-family home that consists of two units in one building. Units usually stand side by side. They share one wall that connects them but has their own entryway and front landscaping. A duplex can also be a two-story building with a single front yard.

A duplex is a common investment property. Instead of buying a house, a buyer can live in one unit while renting the other. A duplex may be ideal for a growing family, too: Parents can live in one unit while grandparents or college-aged children use the second.

However, you decide to use it, buying a duplex is a bit different from buying a house.

Here's what to know:

  1. You Have Plenty of Financing Options
    The idea that duplexes offer few loan options is, thankfully, a myth. You don't need cash to bid on a duplex. In addition to conventional financing, FHA loans, VA loans, and 203k loans can all be used. In some cases, you can also include the cost of needed repairs in the financing package. That helps you get both units of your duplex ready for occupants sooner.
  2. Repairs and Maintenance Can Be an Issue ...
    If you choose to allow a tenant to live in one of your units, then you have certain responsibilities as a landlord. It's a good idea to talk to a specialist in real estate law to know the expectations. In general, units must be kept safe – free of mold and other hazards. Landlords must act quickly on major repairs, like water heaters, that affect tenants' quality of life. These charges can stack up!
  3. ... But They May Be Offset by Tax Breaks
    On the flip side, tax breaks for duplex owners can be substantial. If at least one unit is used by tenants for some part of the year, you may qualify for offsets on property taxes or repair costs. Using the duplex as your primary residence expands your options in many jurisdictions. Remember, there may be state and local programs to look into as well as federal ones.
  4. Many Tenants Prefer Duplexes
    At an apartment, a tenant could be sharing as many as five walls with other people – yikes! On the other hand, a duplex means there's only a single point of contact between units. The lower potential for noise complaints and other conflicts attracts many tenants. Plus, duplexes tend to have more floor space. This can help you maintain occupancy.
  5. Location is Even More Important
    To maximize rental income, you want to get as close as possible to 100% year-round occupancy. Location is crucial to attracting reliable tenants who are interested in long-term accommodation. For example, there can be a high demand for a unit in a "bedroom community" outside of a major city, a much easier lift than trying to purchase a comparable property in the heart of downtown.
  6. Reselling Can Be a Challenge
    Reselling a duplex can be tough for several reasons. You may find yourself in hot water if you want to evict a tenant on a rapid timeframe. Likewise, it can be difficult to attract a qualified buyer who is interested in what you have to offer, and you may need to perform more pre-sale repairs than you would on a single-family home. Be prepared for a longer sales horizon.

A duplex offers both the potential to grow in value and passive income that takes the sting out of a mortgage loan. As with any time buying a house, consider your options carefully. Pick a real estate agent who knows multi-unit properties inside and out!

December
12

Does a Finished Garage Add Value to My Home?

Whether you're selling your home soon or you're looking to add value long-term, the garage may not be the first room you think of when upgrading your home. For many homeowners, the garage is a place to store things and work on projects, so aesthetics take a back seat. If you're looking for a unique way to wow potential buyers, however, a finished garage is one potential tool in your arsenal. But does a finished garage truly add value when selling your home? The answer depends on what you're trying to accomplish, and what sort of buyer you intend to attract.

  • What Is a Finished Garage?
    In many homes, the garage simply doesn't get the same attention as other rooms. An unfinished garage is basically your average garage--stuff stored all around, unfinished walls and ceilings, and very few creature comforts. A finished garage looks more like any other room in the home, with a clean, put-together look and plenty of open space. Finishing the garage creates a new usable space in the home, especially for homeowners who love working on cars or home improvement projects.
  • How a Finished Garage Impacts Appraisal Value
    If your only goal is to increase the appraisal value of the home, then a finished garage may not offer the best bang for your buck compared to other renovations. While that may sound ominous, it only tells part of the story. A finished garage may not add much to the appraisal value outright, but it can still be an important factor in convincing a buyer that your home is the right choice for their needs.
  • The "Wow Factor" of a Finished Garage
    While a finished garage may not add to the home's appraisal value, it can certainly be a factor in convincing a buyer that the home is right for them. It can make your home stand out from the pack and holds major appeal for potential buyers who love home improvement projects. This is ultimately where the value comes in finishing your garage, but since it's subjective it only adds value for the right buyer.
  • Considering the Cost of a Finished Garage
    Finishing the garage definitely isn't cheap, but it won't set you back as much as renovation projects in some other rooms. The typical cost for finishing a garage checks in around $10,000, so the upfront cost is significant. Whether the investment is worth it is in the eye of the beholder – and the buyer.
  • Why Finishing Is Better Than Converting
    If you do plan to update your garage, it's better to finish it than to convert it completely by removing the garage door. A converted garage is ultimately just another room, while a finished garage still retains the character and utility of the typical garage.
  • A Middle Ground for Your Garage
    If you want to make your garage more impressive without finishing it completely when selling your home, there's a middle ground. By cleaning your garage thoroughly, organizing it neatly, and fixing any glaring maintenance issues, you can give your garage a fresh, appealing look without the investment that would be required to fully finish the room.

While finishing your garage may not add resale value in a concrete way, it can be an important subjective factor in attracting the right buyer. Not every buyer will be interested in a finished garage, but the right buyer may love it. Your real estate agent can help you decide whether to finish the garage, or whether you're better off investing those funds in another room.

December
5

Selling Your Home | What to Do When You Need to Relocate Quickly

You know that selling a home doesn't just happen overnight. Unfortunately, there are many instances in which you do need to sell it as quickly as possible. Whether relocating for work or for family, you may have no choice but expedite the process so that you can meet your relocation deadline. Follow this step-by-step guide to make this transition as smooth as possible.

  • Seek Assistance
    A sudden need to relocate can make you feel overwhelmed. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and family members. One of your best resources and advocates will be a trusted real estate agent who knows how to handle fast home sales. Find an experienced agent that has a history of helping other sellers in similar situations — you'll need to rely on them for more than you realize.
  • Contact Your New Employer
    If you've just received the job offer, your next correspondence with your new employer should concern relocation assistance. Most companies offer some form of assistance, whether it's a flat-rate compensation or help with storage, professional movers, temporary housing, etc.
  • Assess Your Finances
    Once you know how much your company will assist you with the move, it's time to assess your finances. Moving costs will vary depending on how far you're moving and what your lifestyle needs will be until you get settled in your new home. The best advice is to dedicate a portion of your savings to this expense. Although you may sell your home for a profitable amount of money, you never want to rely on this until the transaction is finalized.
  • Assess Your Home
    It's no secret that renovations and repairs go a long way in raising your home's value. With limited time on your hands, ask your agent to walk your home and suggest repairs or renovations. You can also hire professionals to inspect elements of the home like your HVAC unit and roof so you aren't surprised by any red flags the home inspector may discover.
  • List the Home Appropriately
    Although time is of the essence, listing the home is not a decision you want to rush until all boxes are checked. Have the home professionally cleaned and staged. Then hire a professional photographer to take high-quality photos for the listing. A half-hearted listing won't attract motivated buyers. Take the time to invest in this step so you can convince buyers to invest in your home.
  • Don't Immediately Purchase a New Home
    We never recommend that a homeowner selling a home try to purchase a home simultaneously. Buying a home is a major investment that shouldn't be rushed. Focus on getting the best offer for your current home, then you can put your effort into finding the right house in your new location.
  • Be Open to All Offers
    If you really need to get your home off of your hands as soon as possible, you should be open-minded about any reasonable offer that is placed. An all-cash offer, even if it's slightly lower than your asking price, from an investor might be a quick and easy solution. If a qualified buyer has reliable financing and wants to negotiate, hear them out. Your goal is to make this process as simple and swift as possible. Be willing to work with a buyer and they'll be willing to help you move on as quickly as possible.
  • Don't Freak Out
    This life-changing move may have suddenly fallen in your lap, but that's okay! Thousands of people are faced with this situation every year and are now living the next chapter of their lives happily!

Selling a home so that you can quickly relocate may seem like an ordeal, but we assure you that the right real estate agent can help make this process as easy as possible. Follow these steps and you'll be ready to move on to brighter horizons in no time!

November
21

All the Right Moves: 10 tips to Make Moving Easier

There are a lot of things to look forward to when you sell your home and get ready for the next chapter. Packing up all your things is not one of them. Still, moving day is unavoidable, and when that day comes, these simple tips will make the process easier than you thought possible. 

  1. Get More Boxes
    They say it's better to be safe than sorry, and when it comes to packing, they're absolutely right. Make sure you have plenty of boxes before moving day, along with packaging tape and labels, so you know you won't run out.
  2. Pack Smarter
    Keep in mind that one size doesn't fit all. Get large boxes as well as small ones so you can stuff the big ones with lightweight items (pillows, towels, clothes), and fill the smaller ones with heavy stuff (books, knick-knacks, electronics). 
  3. Make a Packing Playlist
    Everything gets easier when you have the right tunes playing. Make a playlist you can pack and unpack to. Keep it upbeat and filled with your favorite jams to help you keep moving, and steer clear of sad songs about moving on and leaving things behind. 
  4. Stretch it Out
    There's no reason to wait until the last minute. The farther ahead you can make arrangements and start working on packing, the less stress you will feel. Give yourself at least four weeks for the whole process. Start by making lists and getting organized, and then move on to packing up items you seldom use before you start boxing up the essentials. 
  5. Don't Pack on Moving Day
    Moving day is for moving, not packing. By the time you wake up on moving day, everything should already be boxed up and ready to put into the truck. 
  6. De-Clutter Your Life
    When you sell your house and get ready to move, you have a great opportunity to reduce clutter and get rid of unwanted items. Have a yard sale. Donate old clothes and unused furniture. Recycle what you can, and throw out what you can't. The less you own, the easier it is to pack it all up. 
  7. Keep Irreplaceable Items With You
    Don't waste valuable mental energy worrying about whether your valuables and family heirlooms will make it out of the moving truck unscathed. Set aside items that have sentimental value and can't be replaced, and carry them to your new home in person so you know they're safe.
  8. Label and Color-Code Everything
    It's impossible to overstate the importance of labels. Make sure every box is clearly marked so you know exactly what's inside. Take it a step farther by color-coding your labels based on where everything goes, using different colored labels for each room.
  9. Put Your Kids to Work
    If you have children who are old enough to help out, give them jobs to do. Feeling important and being able to help out will make the process easier for them, and will definitely take some weight off your shoulders. If you have kids who are too young to help out, it's usually best to send them off with a relative on moving day. 
  10. Pack a "First Day" Box
    Set aside anything that you will need right away when you arrive at your new home and put it all in one box. Include essential toiletries, phone chargers, a coffee maker, and anything else you want to have easy access to as soon as you arrive. 

When you're moving, countless exciting paths lie ahead. Following these ten moving tips will make the process of moving onto the next chapter of your life much more simple and stress-free. 

November
14

Selling Your Home | Taking it Down a Notch

Selling your home is an emotional process, especially when you're at a transitionary point in your life. Whether your grown children are out on their own or if you've closed a chapter in your career, many older adults discover that downsizing to a more manageable space is best for their evolving lifestyle needs. Unsure if now is the right time to downsize? Consider these pros and cons.

  • Too much space can be a hassle.
    A 2,000 square foot home may feel cramped for a family of five, but it's far from cozy for just two adults. Any space you have indoors or outdoors will need to be consistently maintained. Downsizing to an area that has enough room to breathe and still be manageable is an ideal combination for those entering retirement.
  • Not enough space can be restricting.
    Just because you're living alone or with a partner doesn't mean you should move into a studio apartment. Extra rooms for guests, hobbies, entertaining, or even storage are usually better to have. Remember that you can still downsize your living quarters without having to downsize some aspects of your lifestyle.
  • Downsizing can be a wise financial decision.
    What could you accomplish financially if your mortgage was lower? You could tackle outstanding debts, or you lump it into your retirement payments and enjoy life living easy. Downsizing to a more affordable living space can help you save, pay off mortgages or debts or allow you to live comfortably — maybe even lavishly at times!
  • Downsizing can be costly.
    With any real estate transaction, you must consider all of the costs, both hidden and apparent. The cost of selling your home may include renovations, repairs, and hiring third party services like cleaners, landscapers, and professional stagers. Moving costs and rehoming costs will add up. Other sudden expenses may manifest as well. Selling your home is not recommended if you're in an unstable financial situation.
  • Moving to a new home, town, or city can be an exciting experience.
    Imagine embarking on the next chapter of your life in a new neighborhood that perfectly caters to your lifestyle. Downsizing is the perfect opportunity to live in the space you've always wanted.
  • Moving is often a bittersweet decision.
    Your house is a home where so many moments of your life happened. You're not just selling a piece of property; you're saying goodbye to a place that cared for your family as much as you do. The decision to move is often emotional, and if you're unsure of if now is the right time, it may be for the best that you take a few months to define what you truly want at this stage of your life.

As your life changes, so do your lifestyle and financial needs. Downsizing to a smaller home is perfect for some adults who want to save money and live life on their terms. However, like any move, downsizing may not be the right decision for your family. Take some time to consider your options and ask a trusted real estate agent to help guide you through this decision.

October
17

Move or Improve? You Decide

Your house doesn't meet your needs anymore. Perhaps you've run out of space. Maybe your house's appliances or style are out of date. Whatever your reasons, you've decided you need a change. But do you renovate the home you've got to better suit you and your family? Or do you look for a new one that already does? The answer depends on your needs, your financial situation, and your tolerance for the stresses involved in moving and renovation.

Your Needs

One of the benefits of renovation is that you can all but guarantee you'll get what you need—within reason. Does your kitchen need updating? Do you need an extra bathroom or bedroom? Those types of renovations might be easier than buying a house in your neighborhood, at your price point, that has everything you need.

Getting what you want with a new home depends on what's available in the market. You might have to make compromises in price, features, or area. At the same time, the market can provide many more options with a new home than could ever be available with a simple renovation.

Ultimately, the choice of what, when, and where to buy is always yours. The decision on what to renovate, however, is generally static. You'll still be limited by your finances, equity, and your home.

Finances

In most cases, paying for a renovation will be easier than buying a house. While renovations aren't cheap, they're still less than buying a new home, and they're easier to pay for. If you've lived in your home for a while, chances are it has accrued equity. Equity is the difference between the current value of the house and the balance left on your mortgage. Typically, homeowners use home equity loans to pay for renovations because they're easy to secure; Your home is the collateral securing the loan.

If your current house has little to no equity, it probably makes more financial sense to buy a new home than renovate. Without equity, you'd likely have to take out a personal loan which could be harder to secure and more expensive to payback. Also, you might be better off buying a house if the cost of your current mortgage plus a home equity loan would exceed or match a new mortgage.

Stress

Neither renovation nor buying a house are stress-free. The renovation will likely require you to live, at least part-time, in a construction zone for weeks or more. It'll be loud, there will be strange people in your home, and it'll be messy. You might also have to endure interruptions in power, plumbing, and the internet. 

Moving has its stresses, too. Of course, there's the actual process of packing and moving. There's also the emotional toll of leaving a home, a neighborhood, and possibly friends and family. There's also the stress of selling the old house, which could persist well past the time you've moved into the new one.

Deciding to renovate your current home or to buy a new one isn't easy. However, if you understand what your current and future needs are, you can make a decision that will make you happy.

October
10

The Ups & Downs of Selling Your Home for All Cash

With the home market heating up, many buyers believe that making a cash offer will give them an advantage over other buyers. But, as a seller, is it in your best interest to take a cash offer? Or are you better off sticking to your price and holding out for a lender-financed buyer? 

The answer is--it depends.

There certainly are some advantages to selling your home to a cash buyer. This is particularly true if you're in a hurry to sell because you're moving or you need money quickly. However, as with most things, there are some potential drawbacks. Let's take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of a cash sale.

  1. Fast Closing
    One of the best things about a cash deal is the ability to go to closing quickly. When a buyer purchases a home with traditional financing, it often takes 30 to 60 days from the time the contract is signed until the closing date. Since a cash buyer doesn't have to undergo the loan underwriting process, you may be able to close in a few weeks or, in some cases, even a few days. 
  2. No Need for Repairs 
    Before a lender approves financing for a home, they'll require an inspection. If your home needs major repairs and you're not in a position to make them, then an "as-is" cash sale is likely your best option. While you're required to disclose any problems with the home, it's up to the buyer to deal with them after the purchase is complete. 
  3. Less Uncertainty
    Almost all lender-financed contracts have contingencies written into them. If the home appraisal isn't high enough or the buyer isn't able to obtain financing, the contract will likely fall through. While some cash deals do have contingencies written into them, they're less common. Generally, accepting a cash offer gives you more certainty that the deal will close. 
  4. Lower Selling Price
    Despite the benefits of a cash sale, there are some trade-offs. The biggest is usually the selling price. Cash offers are almost always lower than what you could get if you waited for a traditional buyer, sometimes significantly so. However, once you factor in the cost of repairs, the stress of the uncertainty, and the money you'll spend while you're waiting to sell your home (for example, if you're carrying two mortgages), you may decide that the trade-off is worth it. 
  5. Transaction Risks
    ​​​​​​​When you're selling your home for cash, it's essential to watch out for scams! You'll want to make sure the buyer has the money on hand to pay for the home. Ask to see a bank statement, or, even better, a "proof of funds" letter from the bank before accepting the offer. 

For your protection, never accept a personal check from a buyer to pay for your home. Instead, insist on a bank check or a check from the attorney's escrow account. Also, beware of a buyer who tries to purchase the home with actual cash. The cash could be part of a money-laundering ring or drug money. If that's found to be the case and you failed to report it, you could lose your home.

The Bottom Line

For sellers who are in a hurry to sell their home, a cash offer can be the perfect answer. However, if you have the time to wait and can deal with a minimal amount of uncertainty, you'll almost always get a better deal from a lender-financed buyer. Your circumstances will determine which is the best choice for you. 

If you're thinking about selling your home, give us a call. Working with a qualified agent can help minimize stress and give you the peace of mind that you're making good decisions. We'll help you determine your property's fair market value and find the perfect buyer, so you can sell your home without the hassle. 

October
3

To Fix or Not to Fix: Pros and Cons of Selling Your Home As-Is

Seeing a home listed "as-is" will excite some buyers and raise a red flag for others. If you're thinking about selling your home as-is, you may be imagining a quick sale without having to make any repairs. And you may be right, but there's a lot to consider when you put your home up for sale, and selling as-is has some potential drawbacks, as well as some tempting advantages.

Pros of Selling a Home As-Is

  • Sell it fast: One of the biggest reasons for homeowners to list their homes as-is is to save time. Homes listed as-is are typically priced below market value, and as a result, they tend to sell quickly. If you're in a hurry to sell, there's a good chance that selling as-is will save you some time. 
  • Avoid repairs: If you're selling a fixer-upper, you may not have the time or inclination to make the necessary repairs. You may also not want to deal with the stress, or you may not be able to afford the repairs. In any case, many homes are listed as-is because the owner would rather leave any repairs that may be needed to the next owner. 
  • Attract eager buyers: Not every buyer is willing to invest in a home that needs work, but listing your house for sale as-is will catch the eye of certain buyers. That includes those who are looking to fix up the property and flip it for a profit, as well as those who simply enjoy a DIY project, or who don't mind doing some work if it means spending less on a home.
  • Match the market: If you live in a city where real estate prices are on the rise, then listing your home as-is can be a great way to attract buyers (especially first-time homeowners) who may not be able to afford the market value of the average house in your neighborhood. 

Cons of Selling a Home As-Is

  • Lower sale price: One significant drawback of selling your home as-is is that you won't get as much for it as you would if you made the necessary repairs. Even if your home doesn't need major renovations, the simple fact that it has "as-is" as part of the listing means that it will likely sell for less. 
  • Limited buyers: While some buyers are attracted to homes that need work, others will be immediately turned off. Some buyers may assume that, because your house is listed as-is, it must have hidden flaws. Others simply want a move-in ready home that doesn't need any work. 
  • Full disclosure: While listing a home as-is does free you from certain responsibilities when it comes to making repairs, it does not free you from the obligation to list your home accurately. You still need to disclose any defects, flaws or repairs that need to be made; and potential buyers may still have the home inspected to confirm its value before committing to buy. 
  • Haggling: If you're listing your home as-is, you'd better be prepared to negotiate. A lot of buyers will see that listing as permission to submit a lowball offer, and many will negotiate harder because they sense that you are eager to sell. Take that into account when listing your house, and don't be surprised if you get some offers that are well below your asking price. 
September
26

Selling Checklist: 10 Things You Must Do Before You Sell

Selling a home is an exciting endeavor. Whether you've sold a home previously or if this is your first time, you likely already realize that this process involves many steps. Before you get ready to list your house for sale, we suggest putting these ten items on your home-selling checklist.

  1. Hire an Amazing Real Estate Agent
    Hiring a dynamic real estate agent from a trusted agency should be your first task. A reliable, experienced and knowledgeable agent will help you get the most for your home and make the process as worry-free as possible.
  2. Gather All Important Paperwork
    Regardless if you've owned your home for decades or for what's felt like only a few days, you've surely got at least a handful of important documents that you should present to owners. These can range from warranties and dates of remodels to permits, instruction manuals for appliances and any paperwork you received when you purchased the home.
  3. Tend to Your Curb Appeal
    There's a reason why curb appeal is considered so important — it makes selling a home easier! Take some time to improve yours with lawn maintenance — front and rear — like tree trimming, grass mowing and sprucing it up with décor. Keep in mind, improvements to the garage door, roof, driveway and front-facing wall are all great areas to focus on.
  4. Pack Up Personal Belongings
    Declutter your space as much as possible, removing any miscellaneous items that prospective buyers don't need to see. Remove photographs or other personalized items so those viewing your home don't feel like they're intruding in someone else's space.
  5. Deep Clean Each Space
    The importance of thoroughly cleaning your home cannot be understated. Your home needs to look and smell nice, presenting buyers with a fresh space where they can breathe easy. Hire a cleaning company to deep clean your home from ceiling to floor and wall to wall.
  6. Make Minor Repairs
    Either call your handyman or grab your toolbelt because you're going to need to fix up a few things. Examine the minor details, like making sure doors don't squeak, re-caulk around windows, repaint walls neutral colors, fix leaky toilets or faucets, and make sure everything in the home works properly.
  7. Add Some Upgrades
    After you've fixed what you can, enhance the rest. Replace a few items throughout the home with inexpensive yet attractive upgrades. Replacing showerheads and faucets, cabinet knobs, doorknobs, window screens, light bulbs, and wobbly fans will make a huge difference in appearance and value without denting your budget.
  8. Make it Look like Home
    You want your house to look like the home of your buyer's dreams. Either hire a professional furniture rental company or stage the space yourself. Dress up all of the windows and bring some fresh flowers or plants into the common spaces. Make sure the furniture is in great condition and matches the room's aesthetic. If there are items that are a little unconventional or polarizing — like a lime green accent wall or bright orange couch — consider repainting and replacing.
  9. Professional Photography
    You've put in a lot of time and effort into making your home look amazing — show it off! Hire a professional photographer to take photos of the home to list online. With so many buyers viewing properties online before they decide to visit in person, listing your home with fantastic photography can reel them in quicker!
  10. Prepare to Maintain It
    Your home is ready to sell, but that doesn't mean you're finished yet! You'll need to maintain its appearance until the deal is sealed. Keep the lawn mowed and tidy every week. Also, be prepared to clean each space lightly from week to week so it continues to look and smell great!
September
19

The Cost to Sell Your Home May Shock You

There are many reasons you might be interested in selling your home. No matter what your main motivation is, however, most people come into the process with some financial hopes.

The majority of sellers wait for favorable market conditions before they sell. Most invest at least a few dollars on refreshing the appearance of the home and raising curb appeal. Plus, it's crucial to ensure you make enough on your sale to meet any outstanding obligations.

With that in mind, a difference of a few thousand dollars can have a major impact on your timing when going to market. Unfortunately, it's easy to underestimate the costs of selling your home.

The cost of selling can be much higher than planned thanks to several factors:

  1. Repairs and Refurbishing
    Sellers need to take time to triage any issues in the home and repair the ones they deem likely to affect the sale. It's also essential to peruse recent real estate trends and determine how you can maximize your sales price through practical, targeted renovations.
  2. Pre-Sale Home Inspection
    These days, virtually all serious buyers will require a pre-sale inspection. A qualified inspector will examine every aspect of the home and disclose all issues. This is typically handled at the seller's expense and costs a few hundred dollars to complete.
  3. Real Estate Agent Commission
    The average agent's commission is around 5% or 6% of the total selling price. A healthy commission in line with industry norms is a good sign that you're dealing with a reputable agent. You should scrutinize any agencies that offer very low (or very high!) rates.
  4. Mortgage Payoff
    The proceeds of your home sale must be sufficient to pay off your existing mortgage. Unfortunately, the "pay off amount" on your statement or borrower website is often inaccurate. Prorated interest for the most recent billing period and prepayment penalties (if any) can add to your charges.
  5. Closing Costs
    Closing costs are a common point of contention between home buyers and sellers. It may be possible to negotiate lower total closing costs or to get buyers to pay a bigger share, but you should be prepared to pay the entire amount if necessary – and that usually tallies up to 2%-4% of the total sale price.
  6. Utilities
    If you are planning to move out of your current home long before you sell it, it may benefit you to keep the lights on. It can be more difficult to show a home without electricity and water – and homes that have clearly been vacated are also more likely to be targeted by crooks.
  7. Capital Gains Taxes
    Taxes are a major issue for sellers. Selling a home for more than you paid for it may require you to report capital gains on your coming taxes. Luckily, most homeowners will find that they can exclude anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 in real estate profit from this type of taxation.
  8. Property Taxes
    You will be responsible for property taxes at your current address until closing day. These taxes are usually paid on a prorated basis using money held in escrow. If you've paid your property taxes in advance for the year, however, you could actually receive a rebate at closing.

    Getting an accurate estimate of the total cost of selling your home can be difficult. The potential costs vary widely based on your situation. That's one more reason it's essential to connect with a trustworthy real estate agent who can help you make informed decisions.
September
12

Presentation Perfection: 10 Ways to Stage Your Home

Thinking about listing your home for sale over the next few weeks?  Here are ten ways to stage your home to make it presentation perfect for that first showing.

  1. Keep a Clean House
    A clean home is an inviting home. You'll want to get your home professionally deep-cleaned from floor to ceiling. As the home is shown, you'll also need to do a little light sweeping, mopping or vacuuming to ensure it looks and smells great for the next showing.
  2. Lose the Clutter
    A home is staged so buyers can envision themselves living in the space. Depersonalize all of the rooms by removing photographs, mementos and other objects that display your personality or identity. Some buyers will have trouble seeing themselves living in a space that feels like it's still your family's home.
  3. Rethink the Space
    Get creative with your staging and move furniture around to enhance each room's appearance. Moving your living area or bedroom furniture into different configurations can help make a space feel refreshed and maximize its potential.  
  4. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
    Believe it or not, lighting can really make or break your staging. The way natural and artificial light interacts with spaces and colors can really transform a home. Make sure you replace your old lighting with new LED bulbs. You'll also want to open all curtains or blinds to let natural light shine through and liven up the space.
  5. Repair or Replace
    Let's be honest, every home needs a little work. Now is the time to finally knock out that to-do list by either repairing or replacing the elements of your home that show years of use. Fix that wobbly fan, those squeaky doors, and those jammed windows. Replace old fixtures like faucets, cabinetry handles and even scratched electrical outlets with brand-new items that enhance the look of the home. Remember, every little detail counts in the eyes of a buyer!
  6. Neutral is Always Nice
    When in doubt, always stay neutral. This includes everything from paint colors to décor. Not all buyers will be as attracted to certain colors or patterns, however, a neutral color scheme throughout the house will give them a blank canvas to apply their own aesthetic to.
  7. Remove Evidence of Pets
    Although your prospective buyers may also love pets, evidence of pets living in a home can be a major drawback for some buyers. They may assume that there are smells, stains or scratches throughout the home that have already soiled their first impression of the space. Remove all toys, odors and other signs that your furry friend called this house a home too.
  8. Don't Forget About Curb Appeal
    Staging is much more than just the interior. Your exterior should also be staged appropriately. In fact, many real estate agents will tell you that curb appeal is one of the most important factors in selling your home. Head outside and tidy up your lawn, driveway, backyard and surrounding property.
  9. Don't Over or Under Stage
    It's easier to over-stage your home than to under-stage it simply because most sellers believe that you can never have too much of a good thing. However, an elaborately staged home that looks unnatural is just as bad as an under-staged home that appears neglected. Make sure you're staging the home in a balanced way. Focus on rooms like the common areas and limit your staging in places like bedrooms and storage spaces.
  10. Ask for Outside Advice
    Remember, you're not alone when selling your home. Your real estate agent will be happy to help you stage your space. You can even hire a professional staging company to ensure that it looks as presentable as possible.
September
5

Avoid These 8 Common Mistakes When Listing Your Home for Sale

Selling a home is a process in which every detail matters. If you're like many homeowners, you may only sell a property two or three times throughout your entire life. Since selling a home is often a new endeavor for homeowners, it's easy to make an error throughout the process accidentally. Here are eight common mistakes you can easily avoid when listing your home for sale.

  1. Hiring the Wrong Real Estate Agent
    This is the first — and one of the most significant — mistakes sellers make. A real estate agent can either be your best resource or put you at a considerable disadvantage in the selling process. You need a real estate agent who is more than simply qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced. Research their track record to see how successful their previous transactions have been and ask around town to get honest opinions of who the best agents are.
  2. Setting Unreasonable Expectations
    We all want to receive top dollar for our homes; however, it's unwise to set astronomic expectations. You'll need to humble your assumptions and realize the reality of the market, the condition of your home, and the limits of your prospective buyers. Keep your list price, conditions, and expectations reasonable so you will be prepared for low appraisals and higher than anticipated offers alike.
  3. Not Upgrading/Enhancing the Home
    Although you're saying goodbye to your house, you need to make sure you send it off in style. Repairing, enhancing, and upgrading elements of your home can increase both its presentation and financial value. Spend the time and money to complete a few easy tasks inside and out so you can get top dollar for your home.
  4. Only Focusing on the Highest Offers
    The most substantial offers always stand out; however, they aren't necessarily always the best offers. Be ready to consider amounts that are not the highest. They may be from buyers who have secured financing, have great credit histories, and are looking to make your part in this process as convenient as possible.
  5. Forgetting About Costs/Concessions
    Many sellers may initially forget that it takes money to make money, even when selling a home. Keep in mind that negotiations may result in you needing to pay closing costs or improve certain areas of the house to finalize the sale. To adequately prepare, make sure you have a little saved in the bank just in case.
  6. Being Dishonest
    One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to be dishonest during the process. You need to be upfront about everything, even aspects of your home that may be negative like water damage, extensive repairs, or existing problems. These will likely be uncovered during the inspection so it's best to be honest with your real estate agent ahead of time so you two can plan accordingly.
  7. Trying to Cut Costs
    Hopefully, you're selling a home that will more than recoup your investment. This is no time to cut costs, however. You need to invest in the right resources to make sure you get the best offer on your home. This includes paying for professional photography for your online listing and potentially hiring services like lawn care and in-home cleaning to ensure the property is responsibly maintained until the sale is finalized.
  8. Not Having an Open Dialog With Your Agent
    Your real estate agent's job — and honestly, their sincere interest — is to help you successfully sell your home and receive the largest possible purchase price. Don't be afraid to ask your agent questions, seek them out for advice or disagree with them if you have a differing opinion. You're both on the same team. Collaboration and cooperation will only make you both more successful.
August
29

How to Price Your Home Like a Pro

When you're selling your home, setting an asking price is a bit like playing a round of The Price Is Right, where contestants use their shopping knowledge to zero in on an item's price without going over. Make sure your price is right with these expert tips on pricing your home to sell.

  1. Don't Overprice
    Yes, it's tempting to maximize profit with a high asking price, but it's not that simple. Savvy buyers set a budget and do their homework. If your asking price bears no relation to the current market, they'll automatically remove your house from consideration without even seeing it.
  2. Leave Emotion out of the Equation
    Most people develop an emotional attachment to their home, but buyers aren't going to pay for your memories. Keep sentiment in check and set an asking price based on your home's objective value.
  3. Review Comparable Sales
    Comparable sales, usually referred to as "comps," will tell you the actual sale price of homes similar to yours with regard to square footage, age, floor plan, and other specific features. Stick to sales within the last three months for an accurate reading of the current market.
  4. Study Expired Listings
    You can also gain valuable insight from homes that haven't sold. See if you spot any patterns in pricing vs. value that may have turned buyers away. 
  5. Scout the Competition
    Take time to step into a buyer's shoes and view other comparable homes for sale. See how the asking prices match up with the features and benefits of the corresponding homes. 
  6. Don't Look for Dollar-to-Dollar Returns
    Studies of the most common professional remodeling projects show that they bring just slightly more than 50 percent return on investment. Even if you make renovations for the express purpose of selling your home, don't expect to automatically layer the amount spent on top of the asking price.
  7. Leverage Price Banding
    Price banding is a technique often used in real estate in which a buyer has an upper and lower limit, creating a range of prices they will consider. If asking prices for other homes are bunched up around certain bands, take advantage of the band with less competition.
  8. Reduce the Price if Needed
    Sometimes, despite your best efforts to price fairly, you won't get a nibble. Reducing the price may smack of desperation, but approximately 60 percent of sellers drop their asking price at least once so it can actually be a savvy move.
  9. But Only Once
    If you do reduce the price, don't assume you can nibble away at it until you find the sweet spot. Interest in listed homes on the market for 21 days or more drops sharply. Consult your real estate agent, determine an appropriate amount and cut once.
  10. Be Flexible
    "A good negotiation happens when both parties walk away equally unhappy." That may be overstating the case, but when selling your home, it's not realistic to assume you'll get everything you're asking for. If you make a counteroffer to a buyer, your real estate agent can help you come up with creative alternatives to lowering your price. Consider paying part of the closing costs, buying down the loan or even unrelated perks such as season tickets to a local sports team.

Selling your home doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process. When The Price Is Right, you'll be amazed at how quickly the offers come.

August
22

Home Inspection Help for Sellers

There is any number of reasons why a real estate deal can go south, but the home inspection is one of the most notorious deal killers of all. Issues turned up during the inspection can throw a serious wrench into your home sale, so it's important to be prepared to avoid this potential pitfall. Here's what you need to know about avoiding inspection woes... and how to proceed if a problem arises. 

How Inspections Work
These days, just about every purchase contract for a home includes a contingency that allows the buyer to hire a professional home inspector. Most Realtors will recommend that their client have a home inspection carried out, and roughly 85 percent of buyers will heed that advice. That means that, before your home is sold, it will almost certainly be inspected by a professional.

Whether that inspection will reveal any issues is another matter. If your home is in great shape, you probably don't have a lot to worry about. Still, there is always a chance that the inspection will reveal flaws that even the homeowner doesn't know about. 

Inspections cover the house from top to bottom. Each inspector has his or her own particular method, but the areas that inspectors check is largely standardized at this point. Inspections typically include the plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems, as well as structural elements including the roof and foundation. Inspectors also check all major appliances and look for signs of mold, mildew, and pests. 

Getting Ready
It's crucial that you know as much about your house as possible. That way, you can fix any issues that need fixing, and disclose any defects that you either can't or don't want to fix. At the very least, if the inspection report turns up a problem, you won't be surprised. 

Although it may not be necessary in every case, it can sometimes be helpful to hire your own professional inspector to carry out an inspection before putting your home on the market. With an inspection report of your own, you can get out ahead of any issues that may exist. That's a major advantage in a competitive market.

A home inspection typically costs $300 to $500 for an average-sized home. It's a significant investment, but it often pays off when you consider the overall benefits. For one thing, having fixed any issues will allow you to get top dollar for your house. Plus, you get to fix them on your own terms, and not the buyer's terms.

What Next?
Do everything you can to ensure that your home is in tip-top shape before your home is inspected. While it is possible that an inspection can reveal serious issues, you can take some simple steps to make the process go more smoothly, and make sure that simple repairs are not mistaken for something more serious: 

  • Replace any light bulbs that are burned out. 
  • Make sure all windows and doors open and close smoothly, and have working locks.
  • Test and put new batteries in all smoke detectors. 
  • Make sure all lights, fans, and outlets are in good working condition. 
  • Clean out your gutters and downspouts, and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the home. 
  • Check for plumbing leaks in all faucets, showers, and under sinks. 
  • Find and clean up any mold or mildew, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Identify and eliminate any pest problems.  
August
15

7 Tips for Selling in a Crowded Market

Getting ready to sell your home? Sometimes it seems like all your neighbors had to do was stake down a 'for sale' sign and watch the offers roll in. But for most us, selling a house isn't nearly that easy. That's especially true in an increasingly crowded market.

Many of today's sellers find themselves facing much more competition than just a few years ago. Chances are, your house isn't the only one for sale in your neighborhood, or even on your block. Luckily, there are several great strategies that can help you get ahead when you're selling your home in a crowded market. 

  1. Price it right.
    When you're competing with a lot of other homes for sale in your general area, price becomes crucial. Although you surely want to get top dollar for your house, there's a major advantage to pricing your home slightly lower – roughly 2 percent lower – than similar homes in your neighborhood. Even a slightly lower price point can make a big difference.
  2. Always be show-ready.
    When competition is fierce, it pays to be prepared to show your home at any time. Before listing your house for sale, give it a thorough cleaning and de-cluttering; then keep it tidy in case you need to show it off at the drop of a hat.
  3. Look through the buyer's eyes.
    It's easy to become blind to how your home really looks after you've lived there for years. So it's important to try to detach from your preconceptions about your house. See it instead from a buyer's point of view. What might a buyer object to? Those are things you should fix. What might a buyer be excited about? Those are things to put extra emphasis on.
  4. Take professional photographs.
    Two identical homes can look very different depending on how they are presented. Pictures matter, especially since most home searches are carried out online these days. Hire a professional photographer to stage and photograph our home to give you an edge over competing houses for sale in your neighborhood.
  5. Team up with your neighbors.
    If you live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of homes for sale, it's easy to see them as competition. In a way, they are – but it can be more beneficial to work with your neighbors than against them. Plan a joint open house together, and work toward selling your overall neighborhood as a great place to live. If a neighbor sells before you do, don't sweat it. Celebrate with them, and remember that just means that now there's one less house you have to compete with.
  6. Show off your best assets.
    If you've made significant upgrades to your home, or have features that make it uniquely desirable then show them off. Make sure that remodeled bathroom, beautiful modern kitchen, ample back yard or extended patio are prominently featured in your listing.
  7. Work with a great agent.
    Having the right real estate agent in your corner gives you a major leg up on the competition. Look for an experienced seller's agent who has a lot of inside knowledge about your specific neighborhood, and who can help you look at real estate trends in your area and determine how best to sell your property. 
August
1

10 Questions to Ask Before Listing Your Home

All real estate agents are required to hold a current license, but that's the only consistent qualification across the board. Each real estate agent has a unique combination of experience, success rate, and other relevant criteria.

How do you decide which listing agent is best suited to meet your specific needs? Before selling your home, interview potential agents using this list of questions designed to help you make an informed choice.

  1. How long have you been working as a real estate agent?
    This is not the same as asking how long someone has been a real estate agent. The nature of the industry allows people to work part-time or take time off between periods of work.
  2. Do you work with other associates?
    Many real estate agents work as part of a team, whether it's with other agents or support staff. Having multiple people focused on selling your home can be a good thing, but make sure you're clear on the responsibilities of each team member.
  3. What neighborhoods do you concentrate on?
    Ask the agent if they've sold any homes in your neighborhood. When an agent works in a certain area on a regular basis, they have their finger on the pulse of recent real estate transactions as well as local features and amenities that help to sell your home.
  4. What marketing strategies do you use?
    There's more to selling your home than simply listing it on the MLS. Find out whether the agent goes the extra mile with marketing tools such as professional photographs or staging advice.
  5. What is your fee structure?
    Commissions for both listing and buyers agents are paid by you from the proceeds of the sale. In recent years, competition has led some agents to be more flexible with their fees. But before you jump at a lower rate, ask what's included with the fee so you aren't surprised by out-of-pocket expenses such as marketing materials.
  6. What is your regular method of communication?
    Now that technology has provided us with a variety of ways to communicate other than the telephone, it's a good idea to find an agent who shares your preferred means of contact.
  7. How long will it take to sell my home?
    Ideally, the selling price for your home should hit the sweet spot where it attracts interest from a number of qualified buyers while still allowing you to realize maximum profit. Look at the agent's average number of days on the market and how much, if any, final sale price differs from asking price.
  8. Could you provide me with reviews and references?
    Personal recommendations from a trusted friend or family member are always helpful. Even if you don't have that, a reputable real estate agent should have no problem furnishing you with legitimate references.
  9. Can you help me find other professionals?
    Selling your home requires interaction with a number of other real estate professionals such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and title companies. Good real estate agents will have a network of professionals they have successfully worked with.
  10. What puts you above the competition?
    Let the agent tell you in their own words what they can give you that the competition can't. How the agent sells themselves gives you a look at the skills they'll bring to selling your home.

Selling your home is a huge undertaking, and the relationship with your real estate agent is key. Take the time to find an agent you can rely on to guide you through the journey.

July
25

6 Tips for Selling a Unique Property

There's no doubt that selling a unique property comes with its share of challenges. Real estate shoppers rely heavily on comparable properties when analyzing prices, and by definition, a unique property is difficult to compare with anything else in the area when selling your home. A property can be unique because of its value, layout, or extravagant upgrades, especially if has been personalized specifically to suit the needs of its previous owner. The good news is that selling a unique property is far from impossible, but it may require different tactics than selling a property that fits more naturally with the neighborhood. Get started with our six tips on how to sell your unique property.

  1. Aerial Photos Showcase the Whole Property
    Many properties are unique due to their location, views, the size of the lot, or the unique outdoor features of the property. It's hard to capture these perks with standard photography, which is why aerial photography is such a powerful tool for selling unique properties. A view from above highlights what makes the property unique, and shows buyers why it's worth the investment.
  2. Video Tours to Highlight the Property's Unique Features
    While aerial photos are great for showcasing the outdoor aspects of a property, they won't show off all of the unique aspects awaiting buyers indoors. Video tours can be a great way to highlight unique interior features, tell the story of historic properties, and give buyers an easy way to explore the property from the comfort of home.
  3. Picking a Price for a Unique Property
    Choosing the right price is one of the biggest challenges in selling a unique property. A professional appraisal can give you an idea of what the property is worth, but even then there will not be many comparable properties in the area. The historical value, location, and unique features of the property all play an important role in setting the right price when selling your home.
  4. Extraordinary Properties Require Extraordinary Marketing
    When you're selling a unique property, it pays to go above and beyond the marketing that you might use for a more traditional home. In other words, your marketing should be just as unique and high-quality as the home itself. That may mean spending more on better quality marketing materials and tailoring your marketing to the niche demographics most likely to be interested in the property.
  5. Highlight the Perks, and Be Honest about Maintenance
    With a unique property, it pays to be honest about all aspects of owning the property. A historic home may require more repairs, and property with expansive outdoor space will require significant landscaping throughout the year. However, the property's history, upgrades, or outdoor space are also key elements in attracting the right buyer, and you should always make highlighting the positives of every aspect of the property your top priority.
  6. Professional Staging for Your Target Demographic
    Professional staging helps buyers see the full potential of the property, and the right pro can help you stage the property in a way that specifically appeals to your target demographic. The right staging can make all the difference in how a buyer perceives the home when they arrive, and give your marketing materials a boost in the process. 

Selling a unique home may not always be easy, but you can absolutely learn from the people who have been in your shoes before. By capturing the unique nature of the property through images/video, choosing the right price, and making the most of modern marketing tools, you can simplify the process of selling your home.

July
18

The Importance of a Home Safety Check Before Selling

There's plenty of preparation that goes into selling your home. It's important to prepare the home correctly even when your to-do list is a mile long. It's easy to overlook the importance of a safety check when you're doing so much to get your home ready, but skipping safety is a big mistake. Avoid unwelcome problems after closing the deal, by doing a safety check both indoors and outside before selling your home.

  1. Lawn and Landscaping Safety
    Start your safety check outdoors by making sure that your yard doesn't contain any surprises. Remove all pet droppings, and check for any sharp items like glass hiding in your lawn. Make sure that there aren't any poisonous plants in the area, with poison ivy being the most common risk. If you have weed killers or other outdoor chemicals, make sure they are stored safely.
  2. Outdoor Pool Areas
    Swimming pools rank among the most high-risk areas around the home, so you'll want to spend some extra time making sure everything is safe. A fence with a locking gate can help keep children away from the pool when it's unattended, and a secure pool cover is a must-have for the offseason. Check that all drain covers are VGB-compliant, and choose a safe spot to store any pool chemicals.
  3. Home Fire Safety
    Fire safety should always be a priority as a homeowner, and that remains true when selling your home. Install smoke detectors in good working order throughout the house. Check for damaged outlets or wires, and make sure the electrical elements of appliances are in good shape. Clean outdoor cooking areas and ensure grilling spaces are a safe distance from the home.
  4. Keeping Your Kitchen Safe
    Your kitchen is one of the most critical stops during your safety check because of the electrical and gas appliances in the room. Make sure your kitchen has a working smoke detector and a fire extinguisher nearby.
  5. Electrical Systems
    Electrical systems in the home rank among the most common areas for fire risk, and that's especially true if the home has old wiring. Before you sell, it can be a good idea to have a trusted electrician review your systems, and check that everything is safe. If there are any significant safety or code risks with your electrical system, it's vital to have them fixed before selling your home.
  6. Pests, Bugs, and Mold
    ​​​​​​​Pest infestations and mold problems are two of the last things that any buyer wants to see in their new home; it makes it much harder to sell. Consider having a pest control expert check the house thoroughly, and take the necessary steps to prevent future infestations. Check for mold, including attics, crawlspaces, and other places that you rarely visit, because mold thrives in damp, out-of-the-way areas of the home.

Performing a comprehensive home safety check is a crucial step when selling your home. It provides peace of mind that you won't have any unwelcome surprises after you close the deal. In addition to helping prevent potential lawsuits, a safety check makes it easier for the next owner to enjoy the home just as much as you have.

July
11

6 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Selling your home is a complex process and something that most people only do a handful of times in a lifetime. While it may be tempting to forego the help of a real estate agent to save money on commissions, the reality is that the right agent can save you money and make it much simpler to sell your home. A skilled agent has the industry expertise, local knowledge, negotiating skills, and marketing know-how to make your life easier in so many important ways. Still undecided on hiring an agent? Here are six reasons to hire a real estate agent when selling your home.

  1. Industry Knowledge and Local Expertise
    Your real estate agent understands the latest industry trends and has extensive knowledge of local neighborhoods. Most buyers are shopping for a neighborhood as much as a home, so local knowledge is key to getting your home sold.
  2. Picking a Price to Get Your Home Sold
    Picking the right price is one of the most important steps in getting your home sold, and it's challenging to do without a deep understanding of the local real estate market. Your real estate agent can help you look at prices for comparable homes which have sold in the area, to give you an idea of precisely what buyers are willing to pay. The right price makes it easier to attract buyers and helps start negotiations on the right foot.
  3. Making the Most of Marketing Opportunities
    While there's a financial cost to hiring an agent, it pales in comparison to the expenses you'll take on by selling your home on your own. Marketing alone requires a significant investment and in-depth industry knowledge. When you hire an agent, you don't have to worry about out-of-pocket marketing costs, and you'll get a marketing plan designed by a real expert.
  4. A Skilled Negotiator on Your Side
    Even if you move relatively often, you'll probably only sell a home a few times in your lifetime. A real estate agent, on the other hand, lives and breathes the industry every day. They know the latest negotiating tactics, how to keep buyers interested, how to remove emotion from the equation, and how to maximize the value you receive when selling your home.
  5. Say Goodbye to Stacks of Paperwork
    Have you ever seen the stack of paperwork required to close the deal on a home sale? Spoiler alert: it's huge. In addition to handling the paperwork, so you don't have to, your real estate agent can make sure that everything is done by the book. That way, there will be no unpleasant surprises when it's time to close the deal.
  6. Simplify the Process and Save Money
    ​​​​​​​
    Yes, you'll have to pay a commission if your agent helps you sell a home, but going without an agent adds so many costs that you'll have to pay out of pocket. Marketing alone is a high cost when you go for sale by owner (FSBO), and you'll also be investing so much more time into the process when you do it alone. The right agent will simplify the selling process, which saves you both time and money.

There's no doubt that the right real estate agent makes life easier when selling your home, and can even save you money in the process. The commission for a top agent is a small price to pay when you consider how many ways your agent can help you get your home sold, save time, and keep your hard-earned money in your pockets.

July
4

6 Sins That Are Killing Your Home Sale

When you're selling your home, it may feel like everyone you know turns into an expert. Everybody wants to offer their tips for a smooth sale, but not every piece of advice will be worth following. In fact, sometimes bad advice causes sellers to commit some of the most common sins of selling, from skipping important prep steps to picking the wrong price. Thou shall not sell a home, before reading the six sins that are killing your home sale.

  1. Too Much Stuff, Not Enough Space
    While you may love all of the stuff in your home, buyers are looking for more of a blank canvas when they come to visit. Since you're moving out of the home anyway, now is the perfect time to start packing, clearing out clutter, cleaning surfaces, and organizing storage spaces. Donate goods you no longer need, host a yard sale, or rent a storage unit to help you clear out as much clutter as possible.
  2. Strong, Suspicious Scents
    If your home smells like a wet dog – or any kind of pet, really – then it's certainly a good idea to clean and freshen up the scent. However, it's also a sin to go too far in the other direction, and overload the olfactory senses of buyers with pleasant scents. If buyers smell too much of a good thing, they may think the home has something to hide.
  3. Dark and Dreary
    Selling your home is so much easier when buyers can clearly see all that it has to offer, so a dark, dreary home is definitely a sin when you're trying to sell. Fortunately, this one's easy to address. Open up curtains and blinds to let natural light flow inside, and make sure that the home has bright, vibrant interior lighting. You don't want any dark corners, so let the light shine bright.
  4. The Price Is... Not Right
    All of the work that you've put into preparing the home won't mean much if the price you pick turns buyers off before they can ever get serious. Some sellers pick an above-market price so there's "room to negotiate," but that won't help if the price scares buyers off from negotiating in the first place. Work with your real estate agent to review prices for comparable homes, and pick a price that will get your home sold while still accomplishing your financial goals.
  5. Who Needs a Real Estate Agent?
    Everyone! While it may be tempting to go for sale by owner (FSBO) to save on commissions, you won't be saving much if anything by going without a real estate agent. In addition to helping market, price, and prepare the home, your real estate agent is the ideal person to help you avoid the most common sins of home-selling.
  6. Unwilling to Negotiate
    ​​​​​​​It's normal for some emotion to creep into the process when selling your home, but it's important to avoid letting feelings get in the way of productive negotiations. If a buyer opens with a reasonable offer, then it's more than worth negotiating to see if you can find a deal that works for everyone. If you're unwilling to negotiate, then it will be difficult to accomplish your goals.

Avoiding these six common home-selling sins will make it much easier to attract the right buyer, and sell your home. 

June
27

7 Common Home-Selling Mistakes

Selling your home is rarely easy, but it's a much smoother process when you know the most common mistakes to avoid before you start. Sellers make mistakes for a wide variety of reasons, including inexperience with selling, bad advice from well-intentioned sources, and letting emotions get in the way of negotiations. Learn how to avoid common pitfalls with our guide to seven home-selling mistakes that you'll want to avoid.

  1. Going "For Sale By Owner" Instead of Finding a Real Estate Agent
    Some sellers choose to list their home for sale by owner (FSBO), instead of searching for the right real estate agent. While FSBO may technically save on commissions, you'll often spend much more on marketing and other tasks that you would with a real estate agent. Mix in the fact that an experienced agent can help you avoid all of the most common mistakes when selling your home, and you can see why picking the right agent is worth the effort.
  2. Picking the Wrong Price
    Some people will tell you to start with a high price so there's room to negotiate, but there won't be many buyers willing to negotiate if your price is far above comparable homes. Work with your real estate agent to set a price in line with the realities of the present market in your area, and comparable to other nearby homes like yours. Most buyers research the market and will be more willing to negotiate if your price reflects current norms.
  3. Neglecting Necessary Repairs
    You're not going to be living there much longer, so why worry about repairs, right? In truth, repairs are crucial both for generating interest in the home and making sure that the sale isn't derailed late in the process by an unexpected maintenance issue. If there are any big issues with the home, make sure to have them addressed.
  4. Not Removing Clutter and Personal Items
    Buyers want to be able to imagine their lives in the home, so the last things they want to see during a visit are clutter and personal items. Cleaning the home from top to bottom, removing clutter, and depersonalizing spaces will make it easier to attract the right buyer.
  5. Skipping Staging for Showings and Open Houses
    While you'll want to clear out clutter, you certainly don't want the home to be empty when buyers come to visit, either. Tasteful, professional home staging can enhance the look of the home, and help buyers dream about what they'll do with the home when they move in.
  6. Poor Quality Photography
    Buyers do a ton of research online before they ever visit a home, so it's important to make sure your online listings have professional quality photography. Poor quality photography fails to capture what makes the home special and makes listings stand out in a negative way.
  7. Negotiating with a Closed Mind
    It's natural to have some emotional attachment to the home or to want to hold out for the best possible price. But negotiating with a closed mind only leads to dead ends. If someone presents a competitive offer, stay open-minded, be willing to negotiate, and try to remove emotion from the equation.

Selling your home is so much easier when you learn from both the positives and negatives of people who have been through the process. By keeping expectations in check, working with the right real estate agent, preparing the home for sale, and being willing to negotiate, you can simplify the process of attracting the right buyer when selling your home.

June
20

5 Insider Tips to Sell Your Home on a Tight Timeline

Selling your home on a tight timeline comes with its share of unique challenges, but it's definitely possible if you know how to prepare. It's important to make sure that the home is ready for the market in every way, and that means you'll also have a tighter timeline when prepping the home to high standards. The right marketing and the help of an experienced real estate agent will make life much easier when time is of the essence. Our five insider tips for selling your home on a tight timeline are the perfect place to start when you're aiming to sell in a hurry.

  1. Clean, De-clutter, and Stage
    Start the process by putting your home prep in overdrive, and doing some serious cleaning. Buyers want to see a home that's clean from top to bottom. You'll also want to de-clutter and depersonalize the home, so buyers can imagine what their life would be like there. Once your home is spotless and de-cluttered, you can get busy with staging. If you need staging advice, your agent and a staging pro can both provide great tips.
  2. High-Quality Photos
    You don't want to waste all of the work you did preparing the home by using low-quality photos for marketing, so consider professional photography for all of your home marketing needs. Professional quality photos are much better for capturing the quality of the home, the vibrancy of the landscape, and all of the little things that make the home special. Low-quality photos stand out in a negative way, especially if other nearby listings have pro photography.
  3. Hire an Agent Who Means Business
    Choosing the right real estate agent is always a critical step in getting your home sold, and it's especially important when you're working on a tight timeline. You want an agent who sells a high volume of homes in the area and knows how to get a property sold quickly. Ask for referrals from trusted sources, speak with multiple agents, and find the person who makes you most confident that they can handle a sale on a quick timeline.
  4. Pick the Right Price
    When you're aiming to sell a home fast, you don't want to waste any time picking the right price point. Ask your agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA), so that you'll know exactly what comparable homes are selling for in your market. Choosing a price that's far above market is likely to make your home languish on the market but going too low will hurt your bottom line, so you'll definitely want to price the home competitively.
  5. Make the Most of Your Marketing
    Marketing should be a top priority no matter how fast you're trying to sell, and the right marketing tactics can really help on a tight timeline. That means marketing your home online, with an attractive listing and quality photography, while also making the most of traditional marketing tools. Promote open houses, use word of mouth, and work with your agent to develop a targeted marketing plan for the demographics most likely to be interested in the home.

There's no doubt that selling your home on a tight timeline can feel a bit chaotic, which is why it's so important to have a plan. Investing time in preparing the home and money in the right marketing plan will make it much easier to get the job done. Throughout the process, a trusted real estate agent should be your number one source of advice for selling your home fast.

June
13

Sell Your Home Before They Walk in the Door

Did you know that most buyers form a strong opinion of your home before they walk through the door? First impressions matter big-time when selling your home, so you want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb. By maximizing the curb appeal of your property, you can go a long way toward selling your home.  Let's take a quick look at some of the aspects to consider when it comes to the outside of your home.

  • Clean and De-clutter
    Just like with the inside of the home, you want buyers to see a clean, clutter-free space when they look outdoors. The first step to boosting curb appeal is clearing clutter, removing dried leaves, and making sure there's nothing to draw attention away from the beautiful outdoor space around your home.
  • Trim Trees and Shrubs
    Shrubs, bushes, trees, and plants can provide a great accent to your home, but you never want the property to look overgrown or poorly maintained. Invest some time to trim trees and shrubs to an attractive length. If there are dead or damaged trees, consider calling a professional to have them removed.
  • Keep Your Lawn Manicured
    A healthy, well-maintained lawn is a sign to buyers that you care about the property, and have invested the time necessary to keep it in great shape. Make sure that your lawn is mowed, edged, and trimmed, especially when you know that buyers will be visiting.
  • Add Color to Your Landscaping
    Planting some fresh flowers and plants to your landscaping can be a great way to catch the eye of buyers, and add vibrant color to your curb appeal. If you'd rather skip the gardening, landscaping, and lawn maintenance, a professional landscaping team can take care of all your outdoor maintenance needs.
  • Fresh Paint and Fixtures
    Painting the entire home is a significant step to take for curb appeal, and it won't always be necessary unless the paint on the home has seen better days. Even if the rest of the home doesn't need a fresh coat, painting the front door and adding new fixtures can be a great way to add curb appeal. The cost is minimal compared to a completely new paint job, and a fresh look for your home's entrance can really make a difference.
  • Inviting Outdoor Spaces
    Do you have any outdoor patios, gardens, or gathering spaces that buyers will see when they arrive? Make sure that those areas are at their best, with attractive landscaping, quality furnishings, and well-maintained patios.
  • Clean Driveway and Walkways
    Renting a pressure washer for a day and getting to work can truly transform the look of the hard surfaces around your home. Driveways and walkways accumulate years worth of dirt, stains, and discoloration that is hard to remove without a pressure washer, so the benefits are substantial.

Once you have your home looking great from the curb, it's important to keep it that way. Selling your home is so much easier when buyers have something to be excited about from the moment they arrive for a showing or open house, and curb appeal can even encourage buyers to stop for a look when they happen to pass by the home during their daily travels. The time, money, and elbow grease you invest in curb appeal is a small cost for the potential benefits.

May
30

7 Factors to Consider When You're Selling Your Home

When you've made the decision on selling your home, the fun really starts!


Selling your home involves a lot of different moving parts. When you take things one step at a time, however, it all gets easier. Going into the selling process with a clear idea of what you need to do will reduce your stress and prevent you from overlooking key details.


Here are seven things you need to consider while selling your home:

  1. You Need a Real Estate Agent
    First and foremost, you'll need a terrific real estate agent to help make your goals a reality. A local real estate expert will help you manage and accelerate the process: Pricing the home right, finding motivated buyers, and getting you to closing without a hitch. By contrast, sellers who try to go it alone often spend many extra months on a sale and get a much lower final price.
  2. Gather Your Paperwork Early
    You'll need a ton of paperwork to make sure your sale goes forward on schedule. That includes lots of things you may not think much about: Warranty paperwork for your roof and major home systems, instruction manuals, details of home improvement projects, permits and certificates of compliance, mortgage information, and more. Get started early to get it all together.
  3. Get a Professional Inspection
    A pre-sale inspection will save you time in the long run and put you in a superior negotiating position. An inspection is intended to help you uncover problems with the home. Things like the roof, septic, and electrical issues can make potential buyers wary. Having the information in front of you, however, allows you to work on repairs or adjust your approach to selling.
  4. You'll Need to Prepare the Home
    When you're finally ready to sell a home, you can't simply open the doors. Cleaning it from top to bottom is imperative. That should include steam cleaning carpets and drapes and remove about half of the items from closets. Sometimes, it's also a good idea to remove certain furnishings and to make lighting a bit brighter. This can make the space seem larger and more inviting.
  5. "Price it Right" from the Very Start
    Pricing a home correctly is one of the most challenging things for a homeowner to do. When you try to price a property after living there, your own feelings inevitably play a role. A real estate pro will produce a research-based price after looking at recent sales in the area and other factors. This is the best way to ensure you reach your goals on the timeline you want.
  6. Perform Staging Before Showings
    Staging isn't the only aspect of selling a home, but it is very important. Your real estate agent should be versed in staging techniques or use an expert stager at no additional cost to you. The purpose of staging is to make your home show better, and there are hundreds of little ways to do this: From simple things like opening the blinds to more complex tactics like baking cookies.
  7. Yes – Hold Weekly Open Houses
    Forget about any "controversy" you might've heard: Holding open houses is the most effective way to meet motivated buyers fast. Yes, your real estate agent should still be marketing your home proactively online, and yes, a vacant home is more challenging to show than one that's still occupied. Even so, the time and effort of weekly open houses are almost always well spent.

Selling your home starts with a firm decision. Once you've made that choice, give yourself every advantage you can by reaching out to a local real estate agent you can trust.

May
23

Home Inspections What to Do When Your Home is the Hot Seat

There's no avoiding a home inspection when selling your home, and that's a scary thought for many sellers. Even if the home is in great shape, there's no escaping a little worry about what the inspection might discover. Fortunately, while a home inspection may turn up unexpected issues, it's still fairly rare for an inspection to cause a deal to completely fall apart. Preparing for the process will make your life much easier. Get started with this list of what to do when your home is the hot seat.

  1. Lean on Your Real Estate Agent
    Just like with many other aspects of selling your home, your real estate agent likely has much more experience with home inspections than you do. So don't be afraid to lean on them for advice! Your agent can provide general tips, and also specific advice about what to look for with your unique home.
  2. Do Your Own Walkthrough
    Before inspection time, do your own walkthrough of the home to spot any issues that need to be addressed. Look for signs of leaks, strange smells, loud, poorly running appliances, and anything else that may catch the eye of the inspector.
  3. Provide Easy Access to the Home
    Making the inspector's job easier will ultimately make the process run more smoothly for everyone involved. Make sure the home is clean, de-cluttered, and that all utilities are turned on when the inspector arrives.
  4. Compile the Necessary Paperwork
    Make life easier by gathering the necessary paperwork long before the inspector arrives. Important paperwork includes receipts for any work/routine maintenance on the home and proof of age for major appliances.
  5. Look for Leaks, Mold, and Mildew
    Buyers and inspectors alike will be keeping a sharp eye out for mold, mildew, and potential leaks. Clean the home from top to bottom, eliminate mold and mildew, and call a contractor if you see any signs of a leak.
  6. Check HVAC Filters
    The HVAC system is sure to be looked over by the home inspector, so make sure your system is in the best shape possible. Replacing HVAC filters is cheap, easy, and leaves one less thing to worry about when inspection time arrives.
  7. Check Major Appliances
    Run all of your major appliances, including the dishwasher, washer, and dryer, through a full cycle in order to make sure they're working properly. If there are any serious issues, consider having the appliance repaired or replaced.
  8. Fix Issues, but Don't Try to Conceal Them
    While fixing maintenance issues is a great idea before inspection time, trying to conceal known issues is not. Inspectors are thorough and know how to see past attempts to conceal known issues with the home. Fix it or leave it how it is, but don't try to hide it.
  9. Consider a Pre-inspection
    If you're concerned about the home inspection process, a pre-inspection can provide some peace of mind – along with a to-do list. During a pre-inspection, an inspector will look over the home, and note any issues that you'll want to take care of before the real inspection arrives.

While there's no way to guarantee that an inspection won't turn up any issues when selling your home, taking the time to prepare puts you in a much better position. If you have specific questions about your home prior to inspection, your real estate agent should be an excellent source of advice.

May
9

6 Low-Cost Tips to Sell Your Home

Getting your home ready to sell does take a little work, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money. Many of the projects you'll need to complete are low or no cost, and they all go a long way toward making the best possible impression on buyers.

  1. Deep clean. Really, really, deep. Make sure to get the places no one sees, like hard to reach areas, corners, and under furniture. The fronts, tops and all visible sides of appliances, especially the top of the refrigerator. The garage and closets should be cleaned out to show off storage space. Windows should be sparkling to let in as much natural light as possible.
  2. Paint. For the money, paint makes the biggest impact. It's inexpensive, especially if you can do it yourself--and most people can. Make sure to fill and sand any nail holes before you paint. Stick with a neutral color so you don't get any strong negative reactions from buyers.
  3. Make little repairs. Many will cost you nothing but time. And we all have those minor repairs we've put off and just gotten used to. Buyers haven't seen your house before, so they will notice. Tighten the handle on the cabinet, fix the broken hinge, lubricate the squeaky door, replace that screw on the heating vent you duct taped. Make anything that's a safety or security issue top priority. Some examples are loose railings, windows or doors with broken locks, or an uneven walkway.
  4. Stage your home. It's true it can cost a lot of money to have a professional stager come in and do the job, but there are some things you can do yourself. Get rid of extra or oversized furniture, and any that's just plain awkward. It makes the space seem smaller, which is something buyers definitely don't want. Rearrange what's left to look inviting and allow for free movement between rooms. Clear countertops, switch outdated light fixtures and make the most of natural light to make rooms stand out.
  5. Improve your curb appeal. Buyers start forming opinions about your home the second they pull up in the car. Luckily, basic yard work is something most people can do and doesn't cost much. Mow, edge, mulch, plant some colorful flowers, make sure the sidewalks are clean and trim shrubs and trees. If you have a front porch, you can stage the area with some seating and a potted plant. Clean and paint your front door if necessary.
  6. Go neutral. This advice applies to more than paint colors. When you sell, you want your home to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Personal touches you've added to your home with décor, custom artwork, souvenirs, and personal belongings should be removed. Removing personal items and opting for colors with wide appeal helps buyers imagine what their lives will be like living in the house and avoids any strong negative reactions. And that makes them more likely to buy.

There are a lot of things you can do to get your home in top shape to sell. A little time and effort on your part can make buyers feel welcome and have them making offers in no time!

May
2

8 Habits of Successful Home Sellers

Selling a home is complex, whether you're doing it for the first time or have some experience with a prior sale. As with any complex process, it really helps to look at the habits of people who have navigated the process successfully in the past. While every home and market is unique, the basics – from prepping your home to keeping it ready to show – remain the same. Start your next home sale on the right foot with our guide to eight habits of successful home sellers.  

  1. Clean Your Home from Top to Bottom
    A clean home is an absolute must if you want to catch the attention of serious buyers, so start by doing a deep cleaning of the home from top to bottom. That includes the hidden corners, areas behind furniture, and lesser-used rooms of the home. Think spring cleaning on overdrive, for every inch of your home.
  2. De-cluttered Closets Make Buyers Swoon
    Storage space is a big priority for most buyers, no matter the size of the home. That means they want to see spacious, organized closets and storage areas. Donate unneeded items, rent a storage unit if needed, and consider a garage sale to clear clutter while raising some cash for your move.
  3. Keep Up with Curb Appeal
    Buyers begin evaluating a home as soon as they arrive at the curb, so you want the outdoor areas of your home to be clean, attractive, and well-maintained. Stay on top of landscaping maintenance, keep your yard clutter-free, and make sure your home's entrance is looking its best.
  4. Make Maintenance a Priority
    You don't want buyers to perceive the home as a "fixer-upper," so maintenance is a must. A pre-listing inspection can help identify any maintenance issues, and allow you to address them before buyers arrive.
  5. Tidy Up Daily to Stay Show-Ready
    All of the work that you have invested in cleaning, de-cluttering, and boosting curb appeal needs to be maintained over time so that the home is always ready to be shown to potential buyers. Make sure to tidy up daily, clean floors often, keep clutter at bay, clean up after pets, and freshen fabrics as needed.
  6. Spread the Word Every Week
    The right real estate agent will help you promote your home online to the wider community of buyers, but you can also do plenty within your own personal network. Be sure to mention regularly on social media that the home is for sale, and mention it in-person to friends who may help spread the word.
  7. Respond to Offers Promptly
    With all of the effort put into preparing and promoting the home, it's likely that offers will follow. Buyers don't like to wait too long for a response, so be sure to respond promptly to serious offers.
  8. Sit Down with Your Real Estate Agent
    No matter where you are in the process, your real estate agent should be your most valuable source of guidance and insight. Make it a priority to meet with or talk to your agent regularly, to discuss strategy, find answers to key questions, and learn everything you can about the current real estate market.

Successful home sellers are willing to work at the process every day and look for every opportunity to present their home in the best possible light. Behind most successful home sellers, you'll also find a successful real estate agent, who provides marketing, guidance, and market analysis for the seller.

April
25

Smart Updates to Sell Your Home

All homeowners know that a practical approach is necessary when considering a home purchase. Aside from the geographical aspects like location, school zones and commute times, the features inside the home can make or break a potential sale. Integrating the latest technologies into your house can dramatically increase the value and desirability of your home. Consider upgrading your property with a few of these smart technologies to help you sell your home.

  1. Smart Appliances
    New appliances are a home buyer's dream. Smart appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, ovens and even faucets can be installed in the home. They can even be operated and monitored remotely.
     
  2. Smart Thermostats
    These next-level programmable thermostats adjust your home's temperature based on activity in the house. They can also be adjusted from mobile devices which allows you to change the temperature settings while you're away.

  3. Video Doorbells
    Video doorbell technology has become a popular addition to homes of all sizes. Many of these devices allow you to communicate with those who are at your front door. They even save video files to a cloud backup so that you can track package deliveries and monitor those who come and go from your home.
     
  4. Smart Locks
    Never worry about being locked out of the house with smart locks that open via keypad codes. These smart locks can be programmed with different codes so that you can provide special access to people like visiting guests or service professionals.
     
  5. Smart Home Security
    You need protection in all areas of your home. While smart locks can cover your doors, a smart security system can provide you with full-home coverage. Motion sensors and security cameras can be installed in and around the home with video feeds and updates sent directly to your mobile device.

  6. Smart Smoke Detectors
    Smoke detectors are necessities for your home, especially those that can also alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide. Smart smoke detectors will alert you to whichever room triggers the alarm. These devices can call for emergency service assistance or be silenced from your mobile device in cases of a false alarm.
     
  7. Smart Lighting/Lightbulbs
    Light has a powerful impact on our bodies. Smart lighting can be programmed to adjust to our biological needs, dimming and increasing when we need it throughout the day and night. Smart LED lightbulbs use substantially less energy than household fluorescent lighting and can lower energy bills.
     
  8. Smart Sprinklers
    A home sprinkler system is a great resource to keep your home's lawn and landscaping looking fantastic. Smart sprinkler systems can be automatically programmed and adjusted at will to help you reduce your water usage throughout each season.
     
  9. Smart Control/Speakers
    Total home control is becoming a necessity. With today's technology, we can literally control most systems within our home with nothing more than the sound of our voice. Many of the latest smart speaker devices can be integrated into your other home systems. Your security, HVAC systems, appliances, sprinkler systems and more can be effortlessly controlled from the couch or conveniently controlled anywhere from a mobile device.

Smart technology is quickly moving into every home on the market. Before upgrading your space with any of these amazing devices, be sure to speak with your real estate agent to identify which systems could give you the most return on investment and help you sell your home faster.

April
18

5 Things to Leave Behind When You're Selling

When you are a homeowner, you own everything inside that home and outside of it, within the confines of your property lines. You can change out light fixtures, remove carpeting, cut down trees and uproot plants and shrubs whenever the mood strikes you. However, if you're selling, things change to some degree, and some of those belongings are considered fittings and fixtures, which means they are part of the property to be transferred to the new owner. So what are some of the things that typically must be left for your buyer? Here are five things to leave behind when you're selling your home:

  1. Wired-in fittings/fixtures – This may include ceiling fans, light fixtures, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, sprinkler systems, home security systems and pretty much anything else that is hard-wired into the home's electrical system. Basically, if taking something would leave wires hanging, and that something was there when your buyer did the walk-through and made an offer, it needs to stay.
  2. Built-ins – Items that are built in or custom made for the home are generally considered as part of the property. Built-in bookshelves or benches and fold-down furniture are good examples of this type of item, as is fixed flooring, like laminate floors or wall-to-wall carpeting.
  3. Certain appliances – Appliances that are wired or plumbed into the home, rather than free-standing, usually must be left for the new owners. This may include built-in dishwashers, ovens, cooktops, and range hoods. Additionally, if you have warranty papers, maintenance records, manuals and other paperwork on appliances that will be left in place, leave them for the new homeowners as well.
  4. Some window treatments and hardware – Custom shutters generally must be left behind, as well as blinds, since they are mounted to window frames. Curtain rods and the brackets that hold them are also generally considered fixtures of the home.
  5. Fixed landscaping/outdoor features – Your buyer is also purchasing the property your home sits on, and that means that he or she has a right to take possession of it pretty much as it was when the purchase agreement was signed. This means that must leave behind and plants, trees or shrubs that have been planted in the ground. Fixed features, such as storage sheds, swing sets or basketball hoops that have been anchored into the ground must also be left behind, as must underground lawn/garden sprinkler systems and pool or spa filtration systems.

Other things are usually left behind when you're selling, including wall brackets, cabinet hardware or wall-mounted air conditioning units, for just a few examples. If you wish to take certain items on the "leave it behind" list, your intention to remove these should be disclosed to the buyer before a purchase contract is signed. Your other option is to remove and replace the fixtures you want to keep before your home is listed for sale.


If you are in doubt about whether or not you are obligated to leave certain items or need advice about making the proper disclosures to buyers about keeping them, contact a real estate professional for help. Getting solid advice from an experienced professional is your best course of action to ensure a friendly, hassle-free transaction between yourself and your buyer.

April
11

Home Sellers: 5 Exterior Features Buyers Want

If you're thinking about selling your home, now is the time to start making any necessary renovations and updates. While you might think you know exactly what needs to be done, it's smart to talk to a real estate agent before you get started. He or she will be able to tell you exactly which features are most popular with homebuyers so you can focus your time and money on the projects most likely to improve your bottom line. 

While buyers often have varying priorities when it comes to a home's interior, most may want the same features on the outside. Investing in the following five projects will help increase the chances of selling your home for top dollar. 

  1. Exterior Lighting
    Illuminating the outside of your house with landscape lighting and spotlights can transform it from a beautiful home to one that's absolutely breathtaking. Not only will it bring attention to the home's architectural features and perfectly manicured lawn, but it also adds an element of safety that's highly desirable. Add solar-powered lights, motion-sensors, and smart lights to make an even greater impact. 
  2. Outdoor Patio
    If you have a large backyard, potential buyers will love imagining themselves relaxing outdoors with a cool drink in their hand. An outdoor patio and seating area expand your home's livable space, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

    Adding a well-designed concrete patio is one of the best ways to make your home appear larger without undertaking a major renovation. If you already have a patio, put the effort into repairing it and making it look as new as possible. This small project can bring a huge return on investment. 
  3. Firepit
    Homes with outdoor fire pits allow owners to enjoy spending time in the backyard almost all year long. A nice-looking firepit will entice homebuyers, especially if it runs on natural gas. Build a beautiful structure, and you're likely to recoup almost all of your investment in the form of a higher sale price.

    Before jumping into this project, make sure you're following all of the local ordinances and necessary safety precautions. The last thing you want to do is add something to your home that will cause you problems down the line. 
  4. Landscaping/Garden
    Even if you don't make any major changes to the outside of your home, paying attention to your landscaping and garden will have a major impact on its curb appeal. Fertilize your lawn, touch up the mulch, and trim your bushes and overgrown trees.

    Maintain your perennial flower beds and add some annuals for instant color. If you have unique plants around your home, consider labeling them as they might help attract the right kind of buyer. Finish your project off by adding a water feature to make your yard feel like a relaxing oasis. 
  5. Outdoor Kitchen
    Outdoor living is hugely popular right now, making a great outdoor kitchen one of the most coveted features for home buyers. Depending on the scope of the project and the size and location of the home, sellers adding an outdoor kitchen can typically expect to break even or make as much as 20 percent back on their investment.

    When building an outdoor kitchen, you'll want to focus it around the grill and make sure you have plenty of counter space. Keep it simple and avoid adding extras like a pizza oven, as the new homebuyer might not want these features, causing them to be undervalued. 
April
4

7 Must-Dos on an Open House Day

Besides the work you do before the open house, it's a good idea to make a quick trip through just before your real estate agent arrives. When you're selling your home, its appearance makes a measurable difference in how people view it, whether it's online or in person. The neater and cleaner it is, the better the home comes across to buyers.  


Just before the open house, make a pass through your home to check its condition by area. 

  1. Kitchen
    Make sure the dishwasher is empty and the refrigerator and freezer clean and organized. The real estate agent may want to chill bottled water for people attending. Home shoppers will also open its doors, assuming you include the appliance with the house. If you're taking it with, you might put a sign on its door saying so. 

    Make sure all the counters are free from clutter and crumbs. It's especially important to remove personal items from the counters in a small kitchen. Put them in your trunk or a cardboard box in the garage if there's no room elsewhere to keep them. Check the microwave and clean any spills. 
  2. Bathroom
    Even though home shoppers shouldn't use your bathrooms, treat them as if someone will. Before the agent who is selling your home arrives, be sure you hang new towels and a new roll of tissue, dump the trash can and set out a neutral air freshener. 
  3. Living Areas
    Touch up the carpet by running the vacuum cleaner over it quickly or dust the floor if it's a hard surface. Most people prefer light rooms so open the window coverings to let in the sunshine. Even though it's preferable to use daylight for room illumination when selling your home, turn on lamps to use as accents. 
  4. Dining Room
    It's helpful if the people viewing your home can envision living in it themselves. Setting the table will give them an impression of daily life. If you have an informal eating area in the kitchen or nearby, be sure to set that table too, since people are more likely to eat there than in a formal setting. A bouquet of live flowers is always an engaging touch on either or both tables. 
  5. Bedrooms
    Everyone's bedroom needs to look presentable. Be sure nothing is on the floors. Check the closets to verify that no one has jammed everything it. Open the window coverings and turn on a bed stand light. 
  6. Garage
    Unless there is something unique about your garage, it's probably not necessary to move all your vehicles from it, especially if there are stains on the floor. The primary purpose behind an open house is to get people to look at it and drum up interest. Garage conditions don't make or break too many sales so unless it's dirty and messy, make sure it is organized and clean. 
  7. Yard
    Visitors will form lasting impressions the moment they drive up to your home. Make sure that you mow the grass and the front door looks appealing. The landscaping should have something of interest like flowers to move shoppers toward the door. A landscaping service will increase your yard's appeal when selling your home. 
March
28

Dirty Deeds: Landscaping Tips to Sell Your Home

The landscaping around your home is the first things prospective homebuyers see when they pull up in the driveway. That first impression creates a lasting impression, and it is worth investing the time and effort to ensure your grass, trees, flowers, and shrubbery look their very best. As you prepare your home for its place in the real estate market, the following landscaping tips will help you set the stage for a successful sale. 

  • Clear Away Clutter
    Get rid of garden gnomes, pink flamingos, rusty children's toys, and anything extraneous that detracts from the landscape. Simplifying the landscape creates a comfortable, calming ambiance. This helps home buyers envision their own lawn decorations in their new yard.

  • Trim, Trim, and Trim Some More
    Trimming trees and pruning shrubbery helps them stay healthy. Removing dead branches also protects gutters, the roof, and fencing from damage. It's worth hiring a professional tree trimming service to do this as they will perform the work and remove the debris from your property. Whenever possible, it is best to do this in the fall or spring as this gives them a chance to grow and thrive. 

  • Repair the Sprinklers
    Broken sprinkler heads and leaky sprinkler systems are significant concerns for potential buyers. A sprinkler system that works correctly is a selling point your real estate agent can use to put their fears to rest. A properly functioning system will also make it easier for you to keep the landscape watered until your home sells. 

  • Green Up the Grass
    Grass is the foundation for most landscapes. Brown spots, bare patches, and dandelions stick out like sore thumbs. You should apply weed killers, turf builders, and fertilizers one to two months before you plan to put your home on the market. This gives your grass a chance to recover and grow before the first buyer ever sets foot on the lawn.

  • Add a Splash of Color
    Planting bright, visually appealing landscapes creates a happy, festive atmosphere. The presence of colorful flowers in standing pots or permanent flower beds invites prospective buyers to rest and relax as they ponder purchasing your home. Red, blue, pink, yellow, and green flowers are guaranteed to put potential buyers in the mood to sign a sales contract.

  • Paint and Repair the Exterior
    Pull out the brushes and paint any areas that are starting to show their age. Repair damaged light fixtures, siding, gutters, shutters, or railings. If you have a wooden deck that is looking worse for wear, you should sand and restain the wood. If you have a concrete patio or sidewalks, use a power washer with detergent to brighten these up. Once the concrete is clean, fill and repair any cracks you discover.

  • Mend Your Fences
    Take care of any broken slats, leaning posts, or slacking links. The fence frames the landscape, and you want it to appear strong and stable. If the fence is past its prime and requires replacing, consider offering a new fence to buyers as a concession within the sales contract.     

Finally, don't attempt to do it all yourself. Invest in the services of professionals to ensure that the job is done right. This is especially important when it comes to tree trimming, sprinkler repairs, electrical work, and exterior repairs that require specialized tools and experience. This means that the finished appearance your investment buys will be worth its weight in gold when the ink on the contract dries. 

March
21

7 Things You should Never Say When Selling Your Home

Most times when selling your home, it's better to let your real estate agent do the talking with potential buyers. However, there may be moments when it's just you, the buyer, and the buyer's agent having a conversation, so it's important for you to understand what not to say, as well. Most buyers will be looking for an edge in negotiations, and that edge can come from seeking out information that the seller's side would rather not share. Learn how to maintain your leverage and avoid scaring off buyers, with our guide to seven things that you should never say when selling your home.

Seven Things Better Left Unsaid

  1. The Number of People Who Have Viewed the Home – Buyers will ask how many people have viewed the home, as a way to gauge interest when considering their own offer. Some buyers will be looking to pounce on a home with a perceived low-interest level, while others might consider a lack of showings as a red flag. Better to just skip answering the question entirely.
  2. How Many Offers You Have Received – Of course, some buyers will get right to the point, and ask how many offers you have received on the home. Answering this question is a bad idea, for all of the same reasons that it's best not to say how many people have viewed the home.
  3. How Soon You Need/Want to Close – You may need to close quickly for a variety of legitimate reasons... but the buyer doesn't need to know that's the case. It's hard to avoid the topic of closing once you're deep in negotiations, but that's a subject that your real estate agent can handle when the time is right.
  4. That the Home Is in Perfect Condition – Even if you have worked hard to address every maintenance issue you can find, no home is truly in perfect condition. It may be tempting to tell the buyer that nothing at all is wrong with the home, but that can come back to bite you when it's time for the inspection.
  5. Why You Have Decided to Sell – There are so many different reasons to sell a home, and buyers will be looking for an edge by asking why you have decided to sell. Whether you've outgrown the home, had a change in family status, or simply want to live somewhere new, the buyer doesn't need to hear the details from you.
  6. Too Much Neighborhood Info – If a buyer wants to know about nearby attractions or restaurants, that's one thing. If they want to know all the details about your neighbors, how many kids are in the area, or how safe you consider the neighborhood to be, that's a different story. Sometimes, it's better to let buyers research on their own.
  7. You Aren't Willing to Negotiate – As a seller, it is normal to want to maximize your return when selling your home. However, it's important to avoid telling buyers that you won't drop below X price on the home because that is a sign that you may be unwilling to negotiate – both on price and other key concerns.

By understanding what to say and what topics to avoid, you can make it easier to achieve your goals when selling your house. The right real estate agent will act as a buffer between you and potential buyers, but it's always helpful to know exactly what not to say when your agent isn't present.

March
14

Selling Your Home: Important Repairs to Make

You love your cozy, quirky home; however, when it is time to sell it, those loveable irregularities might not be the best selling points. For you, the tiny handprints on the hallway wall may be a part of your history, but for a potential buyer, they are something that needs fixing.


So, before you put that sign in your yard, consider making certain repairs to increase your chances of selling at the right price. 

  • Freshening the Walls - The first thing you should tackle is giving the inside of your home a fresh coat of paint. Sorry, tiny handprints, time to go. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, aim for neutral colors like gray or cream. Additionally, it's best to get rid of any wallpaper. Wallpaper is highly personal, so what you like may not be what your buyers want.  While you are painting, take the time to repair that odd crack in the sheetrock and other imperfections showing up in your walls.  

  • Serving Up Newness - Buyers tend to focus on kitchens and bathrooms. Talk to your REALTOR® about how much return one can get on their investment on a kitchen remodel in your area. That can help guide how far you want to go to upgrade essential rooms in your home. You can at least make sure it has a solid deep clean, that the appliances are all in good working order, and the lighting is not left over from the 1980s. If you are not entirely replacing your cabinets, you can get a lot of visual impact by changing the knobs or pulls, and making sure the hinges are not loose. 

  • Upgrading the Loo - Bathrooms are areas potential buyers inspect. Make sure that running toilet doesn't send your potential buyers running for the hills. Repair any leaks and unruly faucets, and deep clean around the toilet, bath, and shower. You might consider getting new window curtains and a new shower curtain to give a fresh appearance.  

  • Flooring Your Buyers - Next check your floors. If you have hardwood floors, it might be time to refinish them so they shine. Carpeting should be cleaned at a minimum, and if you have worn areas, perhaps it is time to replace it. One thing to remember is the trend now seems to be hardwood floors in the public spaces like living rooms and dens, leaving the only carpet in the bedrooms. If you have hardwood floors under existing carpet, removing the carpet could raise your home's sell-ability.  

  • Details, Details - Other things to pay attention to are the things you might not typically think about. Is the HVAC system working? Check the smoke detectors, the locks in the house, and the garage door to make sure they all work correctly. Turn on all the overhead lights to make sure that the bulbs are not burned out.  

  • Appealing from the Curb - Finally, go outside and check out your home's curb appeal. Mow and trim the yard. Repaint any porch railings. Check to make sure your gutters and eaves are all in good shape and give your door a fresh look with new paint.  

Selling your home is an exciting time, but you have to do the work first. So, pull out your notebook, take a walk around your property, and make a plan that will get your home looking just right for selling. Some extra work up front may be just the thing that gets your home sold quickly and for a price that makes you smile.  

March
7

In the Doghouse? Tips for Homeowners with Pets

Selling a house that has pets? Potential buyers may automatically expect fur, odors, dirt, and damage. Luckily, you have time to erase all traces before you list. If you're a homeowner and a pet owner, don't let your beloved family members become financial obstacles. Keep them out of the selling and showings altogether with a few practical real estate strategies.


Here are some of the most valuable steps to take in order to sell a home with pets:

  • Keep Pets and Pet Supplies Out of Photos
    Professional real estate photography can make all the difference for a listing, but your rooms will look less valuable if you forget this crucial step. Before the photos are taken, stash anything that belongs to your pets in cabinets and closets. That means litter boxes, dog toys, scratching posts, water bowls, and any other dead giveaway that animals live there.

    Of course, once the photos are taken, it's a good idea to keep these items out of sight for good. If you need to take them back out, make a note of each item. Then, make sure you find it and put it away before anyone shows up. It's easy to overlook the supplies you see every day (for example, leashes hanging near the back door or food bowls on the kitchen floor). Your list will prevent slip-ups when you're in a rush.

  • Get Rid of All Pet Odors
    Whether or not your pets have accidents inside, there's a very good chance they changed the odor of your home. Fur, oils, and dirt get trapped in carpet and upholstery, and covering them with new smells are only temporary. Instead, spray pet-specific products, such as odor eliminators with enzymes, on all your furniture, rugs, drapes, textiles, and carpet. Don't forget to replace all your air filters too.

    Of course, you might be "nose-blind" to your home's odors, so it's important to get an outsider's perspective. If you think the smell's gone (or didn't notice it in the first place), get a second opinion. Your real estate agent, friends, and even neighbors will be able to tell you whether any scent lingers. If it does, invest in an air purifier, a fan with a high-quality filter, or even professional cleaning services.

  • Make Arrangements for Last-Minute Pet Care
    As soon as your home is listed, you have to start living like a buyer could arrive at any time. Being flexible and keeping things clean (or easy to put away quickly) helps your real estate agent maximize your opportunities to sell. It also eliminates the risk of any encounters that upset the strangers in your home. Of course, that means pets need to come with you when you leave.

    Prepare your carriers and leashes for a quick exit, and find a place you can always bring your pets for a couple of hours, like a dog park or a friend's house. Remember: you may already be out of the house the next time you get a call. If you're not home when it's time for a showing, you will need to call a reliable pet-sitter who can bring them elsewhere for you. Arrange this now, before you run out of options and have to turn down a visit.


Are you ready to turn your cozy doghouse into a home that will sell? Before you list, make sure you take these steps to keep pets out of the picture.

February
21

Nine Things That Top a Millennial Wish List

There are many misconceptions about what drives Millennial homebuyers to make an offer on a property. When you are selling your home, cutting through the "wrong" ideas can make your home more appealing to this highly motivated demographic. As you prepare your listing, the following are nine things that are at the top of a Millennial buyer's wish list.

  1. Room to Grow
    The majority of Millennial homebuyers are around 30. They are eager to settle down and start a family. This means they want a property with an extra bedroom or two, a yard, and enough space for them to put down solid, stable roots. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms within a 2,500 square foot home is an ideal property for this demographic. 
  2. Value for the Money
    75% of Millennial homebuyers view homeownership as a good investment that can create wealth over the long-term. As a result, selling your home to a Millennial buyer requires demonstrating that the property is likely to continue appreciating.
  3. Location Matters
    For Millennials, location is more than just a good neighborhood that is close to good schools and shopping. It also entails places that are close to public transportation or within walking distance of where they work, grocery stores, parks, etc.
  4. Technologically Up-to-Date
    Many Millennials work from home and require a reliable internet connection and cellular network. Connectivity is crucial when selling your home to Millennial buyers. Furthermore, homeowners who invest in smart features including smart home security systems, smart thermostats, etc. can set their property apart from the competition.
  5. Energy Efficiency
    With energy bills rising across the country, energy efficiency is something that transcends demographics. Millennials are cost-sensitive to energy bills for many reasons. These include environmental awareness and the desire to apply the savings towards other purposes including investments, vacations, etc.
  6. Stylish and Appealing
    Setting the stage for Millennial homebuyers is essential. When selling your home to Millennials, they want to see modern home decor. This means color schemes that are stylish, newer appliances, furniture placement that opens the rooms up, and an absolute minimal level of bric-a-brac throughout the home. Modern traditional is the most commonly desired type of home for Millennial homebuyers.
  7. Outdoor Space
    Millennials love to entertain and relax at home. They want landscapes that are well-kept and suitable for entertaining guests, and they want retreats where they can rest and recharge after a long day at work. Towards this end, homes with large patios, spacious decks, outdoor kitchens, and a bit of grass are ideal features to promote when you are selling your home.
  8. Minimal Maintenance
    Millennials are a busy group and don't want to spend any more time trimming trees, fixing roofs, or dusting shelves than is necessary. The lower the maintenance requirements of the home, the more appealing it is to millennial homebuyers. Similarly, Millennials are highly sensitive to HOA fees and rigid HOA requirements. In this regard, they want minimal financial obligations and plenty of creative flexibility when it comes to their home.
  9. Modern Kitchens & Bathrooms
    It is possible that no generation in history has enjoyed cooking at home more than millennials. Millennials want name brand stainless steel appliances, six-burner ranges, wine-coolers, dual ovens, solid wood cabinetry, sustainable stone countertops, and plenty of room to gather and socialize with family and friends. This trend continues in the bathroom where glass shower doors, stone counters, and brushed nickel fixtures are appealing features that millennials will look for when you are selling your home. 
February
14

Multiple Offers? Here's How to Choose the Right One

In today's hot real estate market, it's not uncommon to receive multiple offers shortly after listing your home for sale. Since getting top dollar is a common goal when selling your home, you may feel tempted to jump on the offer with the highest price. However, doing so could be a mistake. Before you accept an offer, consider these seven other important factors.

  1. Cash Offer
    An all-cash offer usually tends to be lower than other offers, but it's often the safest option. When the buyer doesn't have to worry about getting bank approval, there's far less of a chance that the deal will fall through. If selling your home quickly is a priority, this may be your best bet.

  2. Buyer Pre-Approval
    If your potential buyer isn't paying cash, you'll want to see a pre-approval letter from the buyer's lender. Accepting an offer from a pre-approved buyer is much safer than taking your chances on one without it. You must also understand that pre-qualification is not the same as pre-approval. A buyer who has only been pre-qualified still may not receive loan approval once they go through the full underwriting process.
  1. Contingencies
    When you receive an offer, there's a good chance there will be a list of things that need to happen before the final deal can go through. These are known as contingencies and often include things like inspections, appraisals, and financing approval. As a seller, you'll want to consider the offer with the fewest contingencies and the shortest amount of time you'll have to wait until you're fully under contract.

  2. Loan Type
    The type of loan your potential buyer is using also makes a difference. Conventional mortgages are fairly simple to obtain. However, if the buyer is using an FHA, VA, or other government-back loans, there is a greater chance for delays. With these types of loans, it's common for the lender to require additional approvals and repairs before final loan approval.
      
  3. Seller Expenses
    Carefully review each offer for seller costs, which will lower your final profit. This includes items like seller-paid closing costs and requested repairs. If a buyer is requesting that you include appliances like the washer and dryer, factor in the value of these items when determining the total value of the offer.

  4. Closing Timeline
    How soon the buyer wants to close can also have a big impact on deciding which offer is right for you. If you're building a new home or need to delay moving for some other reason, then an extended closing timeline may save you the hassle and expense of having to move twice. If you've already purchased a new home and are paying two mortgages, then you might want to choose the offer that will close the soonest.

  5. Earnest Money
    When submitting a purchase offer, buyers must make an initial deposit, called earnest money. This typically ranges between one and three percent of the purchase price. If the buyer gets cold feet after the contract is executed, the seller is usually allowed to keep the earnest money. When comparing two similar offers, the one with more earnest money offers you more security. 

Working with a qualified real estate agent when selling your home will give you the peace of mind you need to make good decisions.

February
7

Home Sellers: Overpricing Your Home Can Be Risky Business

Location and condition aren't the only things that can keep you from selling your home. In a healthy real estate market, houses that don't sell after awhile are at a significant disadvantage. One issue that can keep an otherwise desirable house from selling is a price that's too high.


Many homeowners are eager to set a relatively high price when they go to market.


There are several reasons:

  • They believe that by setting a higher price, they will leave room for buyers to negotiate.
  • They expect that by selling at a higher price, they can save money financing a new home.
  • They include the "invisible" sentimental value of their home when calculating the price.

Unfortunately, there are good reasons why a higher asking price spooks buyers. It can take qualified buyers out of the running even if they can afford the home.


If you are selling your home, learning about pricing can help.

The Psychology of Pricing Can Scare Qualified Buyers Away

In big-ticket items such as houses and cars, pricing is anything but an exact science.


Unfortunately, the more valuable an item is, the easier it is to misjudge its fair market value. This is especially true of things, such as houses, that cause great sentimental attachment.


In many cases, people who are otherwise ready to buy your home will decline to make an offer not because they feel the price is unreasonable, but because better bargains are available.


What's more, there are psychological factors involved:

  • Buyers might feel that offering less than the asking price will be offensive to the seller.
  • Buyers may believe (incorrectly) that the seller already knows the house is overpriced.
  • Buyers typically assume the seller has already entertained other "lowball" offers.

When selling your home, the price is an important signal to prospective buyers. If the price is not in tune to both your needs and market conditions, it will create confusion.


Remember, this doesn't mean a house has to be underpriced just to sell! Instead, sellers should look to the expertise of a trusted real estate professional for a proven pricing methodology.

How Should Sellers Price a Home When They Want Results?

To develop an accurate picture of the fair market value of a home, ask your real estate agent to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) for you. He or she will look at recent sales in the neighborhood as well as sales of comparable homes – those with similar amenities.


Only after doing this research is it possible to select a price that:

  • Helps the sellers achieve their financial goals through the sale of the home.
  • Ensures the home gets sold fast enough to avoid stagnating on the market.
  • Attracts several qualified buyers, the real negotiating leverage for sellers.

The price a real estate professional comes up with may be lower than what you first expect. However, a good home can still be priced somewhat higher than average for the local market. In the long run, this leads to an easier and more rewarding selling experience.

Pricing Issues Can Sink Your "FSBO" Listing

Many sellers choose "for sale by owner" methods because they think it'll be quicker and easier.  When it comes down to it, many FSBO listings are either overpriced or underpriced.  Studies show FSBO listings sell for substantially less than agent-led listings.


No matter what your goals are, your first step in selling your home should be to contact a reputable local real estate agent. That way, you can get on track for the results you want.

January
31

Is It Time to Sell Your Home?

Do you know if now is the right time to consider selling your home?


Don't worry — many homeowners scratch their heads at this same question. While buying a home is an important decision, selling your home is a matter of equal significance. When you first consider selling your current home to purchase a new house, a million thoughts may fill your mind.


For some, selling a home involves questions of practicality: when is the best time to sell, how do I know if I can afford a new home, will buyers want to purchase my home in its current condition?


For others, saying goodbye to a home is like saying farewell to part of the family. They'll often have emotional concerns that raise stressful questions: can I really leave our family's first home and will I ever find a home that feels just as special?


If you're unsure whether or not now is the right time to sell your home, you're not alone. Thankfully, there are a handful of key questions you can ask yourself to help you determine if there's no better time than the present to sell your home.


Question 1: Does it feel like your home is getting too big or too small?
As you transition into different periods of your life, the needs of you and your family will change. With the lifestyle you currently have, and where you believe it's headed, consider if the size of your home is adequate to accommodate these needs. If your young family of four is starting to grow in a small two-bedroom home, you may consider upsizing. However, if your children have moved out of the house and you're considering retirement, it may be in your best interest to downsize.


Question 2: Is it a wise financial move?
Take a look at your finances and think about whether you can reasonably afford —or not afford — to move. Selling your home may be a great idea for those who have been saving for years or who want to lower their mortgage expenses. However, it may not be a wise choice for those that may be unable to take on the financial requirements of a new home responsibly. Also, it's wise to discover whether or not your home has equity or if you'll have to make renovations before you can realistically ask for your targeted price.


Question 3: What is the current status of your local real estate market?
Is your area in the midst a housing boom or has the market not been favorable for sellers over the last few years? Depending on the market, selling your home may not be a wise idea even if the answers to the questions above insist that you should. Ultimately, you want to receive a fair price for your current home so that you're able to afford your next property. Selling in a buyer's market or during a recession may not be a smart choice.


Question 4: Is this the right time for you to sell your home?
Although the changing seasons can make it easier or harder to quickly sell your home, you also have to consider if this is the right time for you personally to take on this transition. If you have major life changes coming up that may impact you financially or occupationally, it may be best to wait. However, if you've responsibly prepared yourself to sell and feel that you can comfortably make the next move, perhaps now is the best time for you to consider selling your home!

January
17

8 Things Agents Do to Sell Your Home

Are you considering selling your home? Then it's time to call a real estate professional.

When it comes to property sales, a real estate agent is one of the greatest resources a seller has. Of course, an agent can help you successfully sell your home. However, what most homeowners don't know is that a real estate agent performs a variety of other critical duties both during the sale and behind the scenes.

Read on to discover eight things that real estate agents do to help you sell your home!

  1. An agent uses their knowledge and experience to sell your property successfully.
    An experienced real estate agent may have years, if not decades, of experience successfully selling homes in your area. This means that they know housing trends, what buyers in this area desire and what not to do to impede or disinterest potential buyers. This level of experience helps them accurately price your home at a rate that is intriguing to buyers and beneficial to you.
  2. They will market your home professionally.
    Your home may be perfect for a potential buyer, but they may never know it unless the home is marketed well. Selling your home involves more than simply listing it and waiting for offers. Agents will create listings that feature professional-quality photography to showcase your home in its best light. They will also create a buzz for your home by communicating through other channels like videos, brochures, social media and their connections.
  3. Agents will keep you motivated and informed. 
    Selling your home doesn't have to be a worrisome experience. A great agent will be in constant communication with you as you both strive to accomplish your goal. They'll request feedback from showings and pass this information along to you. They'll also be available to answer all of your questions throughout the process.
  4. They can take care of the paperwork for you.
    Selling your home is a significant undertaking, and since you'll only sell once or twice in your lifetime, it can seem like quite a commitment. Thankfully, real estate agents sell homes frequently and can assist you by filling out the necessary paperwork for you before the listing and during the sale. This also ensures that you're performing this sale following all laws and legal requirements.
  5. Real estate agents won't let you sell your home to an unqualified buyer.
    Although many people are pre-qualified to purchase a home, not all are pre-approved. Agents understand this fact and will make sure that potential buyers are pre-approved so that the sale won't fall through due to the inability to secure a loan.
  6. They'll also negotiate with the buyer's agent for you.
    There are three different prices on a home: what you think it's worth, what the buyer thinks it's worth and what it's actually worth. Agents negotiate the best terms with buyers so that both parties are happy.
  7. Agents are present for the home's inspection and appraisal process.
    Great agents go out of their way to attend the inspection and appraisal of the home. This allows them to answer any important questions and immediately let you know what the inspector or appraisal agent says. This also helps them mitigate any buyer requests like repairs or replacements that might be unreasonable.
  8. Agents make sure the home is closed correctly.
    Wouldn't you be disappointed if your home sale fell through during closing? Agents try to prevent that from happening by tying up all loose ends and ensuring that the property is legally ready to sell according to the terms the buyer agreed upon.
January
10

6 Tips for Seniors to Make Downsizing Easier

Downsizing often makes sense for seniors whose needs no longer match their present home.

When retirement nears, downsizing often makes good financial sense. It can help you make the most of a fixed income. Likewise, it means less time and money spent on maintenance.

It can also be safer. For example, many older homes have stairs that become a nuisance over time. They might also have large tubs or other amenities that are no longer desirable.

Downsizing the right way can help seniors achieve a more relaxed, sustainable lifestyle. With fewer things to worry about, they have more time to focus on what matters.

Here's how to make the process simpler:

  1. Start Decluttering Early
    You can't be sure exactly what you'll be able to bring to a new living space until you know its measurements. Still, you can get started de-cluttering by getting rid of items you know you no longer want. This could include unused appliances or electronics and old clothes, for example. This allows you to donate items or give them to family and friends without having to rush.
  2. Set Your New Home Goals
    When you move into a new space, you have some fantastic opportunities. You can move closer to friends and family, take advantage of dining and shopping, or make it easier to take care of chores like doctor appointments. It's also a good idea to build a budget so you can narrow down your home selections to those that will allow you to meet all your financial requirements.
  3. Talk to a Real Estate Agent
    Working with a good real estate agent is an essential part of downsizing successfully. You want an agent who understands your goals and works with you. An agent will accelerate the process and help you get a price you're comfortable with at the same time. Since it may take a while for the right home to be on the market, it's a good idea to touch base with an expert early.
  4. Consider Safety and Convenience
    Mobility and maintenance become bigger factors as a homeowner ages. When you begin looking at prospective homes, ensure you are not setting yourself up for inconvenience down the line. Make sure you have at least one step-free entrance into the home, with access to all you need on the first level, and halls and doorways broad enough to move through comfortably.
  5. Set Clear Dates for Your Move
    Without setting a final date for your move, it's all too easy for it to slide down the priority list. It's a good idea to have a firm idea exactly when you expect to be gone. From there, you can set smart goals for each week, like creating your household budget or going through one room of your current home. With small, manageable steps like this, you can go a very long way.
  6. Give Yourself Time to Let Go
    Not everything you do while decluttering and moving will be fun. Many people find the process a little upsetting, even if they only get rid of things they no longer want or need. The truth is, this is natural. Your belongings and space may have a lot of sentimental value. Don't rush: Take time to enjoy and say goodbye in a way that works for you. Perhaps a family get-together?

It may be a bit of a production, but downsizing can make things more comfortable and less expensive. With the right real estate agent in your corner, you may find yourself moving into a "downsized" home that's your favorite one yet.

January
3

6 Ways to Negotiate Your Home's Selling Price

There's no doubt selling your home is a process that can come with its share of challenges, so it's crucial to prepare.  Choosing the right asking price from the start will make life easier as you find the right buyer and negotiate your final selling price.  

But the asking sale price is only one part of the equation because buyers have negotiating tactics of their own. Let's take a look at six tips to help you negotiate the right sales price when selling your home.

  1. Work with Your Real Estate Agent to Read the Market
    Understanding your local real estate market is significant in choosing the right price.  Your real estate agent should be your most valuable resource when reading the market. By analyzing your local real estate market, looking at what similar homes have sold for recently, and pricing your home based on those trends, you can set an asking price that encourages buyers to open with the right offer.
  2. Present Your Home in the Best Possible Light
    Buyers will look for any reason to lower their offer on the home, so maximizing your return requires a house that has been well-prepared for sale. Take care of maintenance issues big and small, have the home inspected, and make sure that the property (including outdoors!) is looking its absolute best when buyers come to see it.
  3. Remove Emotion from the Equation
    Emotion can creep into the sales process; however, negotiating a sale price is all about remaining as level-headed as possible. If the buyer counters with an offer you don't like, don't get mad.  Provide your counter-offer, and let the facts do the talking.
  4. Be Prepared for Buyer Negotiating Tactics
    Buyers will try a wide range of strategies to drive down the price, from "good cop/bad cop" negotiating to flat-out low-ball offers or "nickel and diming" over the smallest negotiating points. You never know how a particular buyer will react ahead of time, so prepare yourself for the most common buyer negotiating tactics.
  5. Create Competition to Maximize Your Return
    Sticking close to your ideal asking price is easier when you have multiple buyers who are interested in the home, so creating competition is a must. One option is to stage an open house but refuse to accept any offers until after the open house is complete to show buyers that they have competition. A fair opening price, based on current market trends, is also key to encouraging competition.
  6. Be Willing to Walk Away
    No matter how much research you use to set the price or how much competition you create, some buyers won't be ready to budge from their low initial offer. Being willing to walk away can force the hand of stubborn buyers so that they up their offer, and will ultimately save you time if the buyer proves unwilling to negotiate.

While the negotiating process will usually have its ups and downs, understanding how to negotiate the right selling price gives you a significant advantage throughout the process. Work with your real estate agent, encourage competition, and be prepared for the tactics that buyers will use to drive the price down. Selling your house may not be easy, but with the necessary preparation, you can find the right deal.

December
27

How to Find an Agent That Will Act Like Your Best Friend

Selling your home is a huge undertaking that often creates a lot of stress. Working with a great real estate agent can help make things easier, but how do you find one you can really trust? 


Real estate transactions are often deeply personal, so you'll want to make sure you have a real connection with the professional you choose to work with. These five tips will help you find an agent who feels more like a best friend than a business connection. 

  1. Ask for Recommendations
    One of the best ways to find a great real estate agent is to ask other people you trust for their recommendations. If a friend or family member has worked with an agent they really like, put this person's name on your short list of agents to interview. Also try asking other professionals you work with, like your attorney or tax professional. These people often have a lot of interactions with realtors and can give you a qualified recommendation based on their own experiences or those of their clients. 
  2. Do Your Research
    Once you've created a list of three to five potential agents, it's time to do your research. Google each name and see what comes up. Check out their websites and read online reviews on a variety of different sites, including social media platforms. If you find anything that concerns you, make a note of it and plan to ask about it during the interview process.  
  3. Conduct a Personal Interview
    Before hiring someone to help you with selling your home, you want to make sure you're both on the same page. Conduct a thorough personal interview with each of your potential agents. Ask plenty of questions and make sure you feel comfortable with the answers you get. If you don't feel there's a potential to develop a personal connection, it's probably time to move on.
  4. Make Sure They're Actively Engaged
    Active listening is one of the most important traits of a great real estate agent. When you're discussing your goal for selling your home, check to see if your potential agents are paying close attention.  Follow up later to see whether they remember the things you've told them. If you don't feel like the person you're working with is truly engaged, then he or she is not the right person for you.
  5. Trust Your Gut
    When choosing a real estate agent to help with selling your home, the best thing you can do is trust your gut. Buying and selling real estate involves huge financial transactions, so it's critical that you're comfortable with your choice. If something doesn't feel right, keep looking. Trust that your ideal agent is out there, waiting to help make your real estate dreams come true.
December
20

7 Home Improvements Sellers Wish They Never Made

When selling your home, it's wise to do some small, targeted home improvement projects.  A touch of something new here and there can do a lot for the way potential buyers see a home, so minor investments of a few hundred dollars each may add thousands to your asking price. Many of the best projects don't even take long to complete.


And then there are the ... "other" projects.


Selling your home can be a hectic time. If you let the stress get out of control – say, by not having a trusted real estate agent on your side – it can really influence your decision-making.  That might explain why so many sellers are attracted to costly and unsuccessful renovation projects. The idea that "bigger is better" can seem much more attractive when you're on a tight deadline and handling everything on your own. Most of the time, however, it's just not true.

Let's look at seven home improvements projects you might skip when selling your home:

  1. Ultra-Trendy Fixtures and Other Decor
    While it's a good idea to replace old light fixtures with shiny new ones, there's never any call to go bold when it comes to style. "New and neutral" should be your watchword when replacing things like doorknobs, faucets, light fixtures, and panels. A trendy new style won't necessarily appeal to the average buyer and could go out of date before your house even gets off the market.
  2. High-Tech Home of Tomorrow
    While smart home technology can be fun, the people using it today are still very much "early adopters." Updating your lighting, air conditioning, and other systems to respond to your phone may be fascinating, but it won't appeal to most buyers – especially older ones.
  3. A Guesthouse Worthy of Royalty
    A guesthouse is great ... if you have guests. Many people will find that they never use it. The plan to rent it out on Airbnb never materializes, either. That means buyers face the prospect of paying to cool, heat, light and maintain a space that they don't enjoy.
  4. An Olympic-Sized Swimming Pool
    While some people do consider a swimming pool to be the ultimate luxury, it won't charm every buyer. In particular, families with small children are often wary of pools. If you don't have a pool yet, don't add one! If you do, put up a fence to enhance safety.
  5. A Spa-Quality Bathroom
    A new bathroom can certainly make a strong impression. The problem comes in when you think about the huge costs associated with a new tub, a sink, a toilet, or even a quality tile floor. If you're going to make a larger investment, the kitchen is more likely to pay off.
  6. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
    Updating your existing carpeting if it looks old may be a fine idea. Adding new carpet, however, can be a dead end. Hardwood and tile are attractive for their own reasons, and a home that's nothing but carpet can seem like a chore to clean. People with allergies may be turned off, too.
  7. High-Maintenance Landscaping and Water Features
    While a nice garden can be enticing, complex topiary or any other labor-intensive approach to the lawn is a definite "no." A healthy, well-maintained lawn will boost curb appeal, but keep it simple and straightforward. Otherwise, only green-thumbed gardeners will take an interest.

As you're selling your home, less is more. A real estate agent can advise you on the best ways to improve the market value of your property. That way, you make more on your sale and get to closing faster.

December
13

6 Books to Read the Kids When You're Moving to a New Home

Selling your home comes with its share of excitement, but it can also mean added stress, especially if you have children. In between paperwork, organizing the move and last-minute preparations, it's essential to ensure that your kids understand what's happening for your family. Making time to talk to them about the move is crucial as is keeping them informed throughout the process. To help with the transition, you might consider reading a book or two them about moving to a new home. The following books are some of the favorites for helping youngsters cope with the uncertainty of moving, making it a bit easier and even fun.

  1. The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day by Stan Berenstain
    One of the most important aspects of selling your home is informing your children once the decision has been made and getting them involved in the move. This fun and heartwarming story from our favorite bear family shows how the move should be an event that includes the entire family. You want your kids to feel comfortable with the news and with the move, and this book is a great way to make them feel more confident.
  2. A New House by Jill Wenzel
    For a child, the prospect of moving can involve dealing with a lot of emotions. Kids are often frightened by the idea of moving since their home is the most safe and comfortable place they know. In this paperback activity book, the author provides an outlet for those emotions through various puzzles and activities.
  3. Henry and Mudge and Annie's Good Move by Cynthia Rylant
    Saying goodbye to friends and leaving their school combined with the thought of trying to adjust to a new place is enough to make anyone nervous. This book is a great choice for reading with your kids once you're sure about selling your home. This endearing story will help ease your children's minds about the move while putting a smile on their faces.
  4. Big Ernie's New Home: A Story for Children Who Are Moving by Teresa Martin
    Another ideal reading selection during the process of moving, this book also deals with the range of emotions that can be expected from kids in this time of change. Let them know it's okay to feel frustrated, but also that great opportunities are ahead for the entire family.
  5. Moving Day! by Jess Stockham
    Getting your children involved with asks during the move will make them feel included and important. This fun read will get them in the mood to help out and might just generate some excitement about the move!
  6. Moving with Kids: 25 Ways to Ease Your Family's Transition to a New Home by Lori Burgan
    A handy resource when selling your home, this paperback is loaded with ideas to make the most of your move. Ideas to involve the entire family are highlighted along with tips and tricks for handling the obstacles that come with moving when you are a parent.

Moving isn't an easy phase for any family, and the task of selling your home is only the beginning of the process. With some planning and good communication, the change can be a good way to strengthen family bonds. Get your kids involved, and schedule some time to enjoy these books before the move.

December
6

Is a Fix in the Mix When I'm Selling?

When you're selling your home, it is to present it in the best possible light. From tackling home improvement projects to staging an open house, small details can make all the difference in the world to a potential buyer. 

When it comes to fixing up your house, it's important to pick your battles carefully. Some home improvements can help boost the resale value of your property, while others spend money you won't get back. Here's what you need to know about what to fix, and what not to fix when you're selling your home. 

Fixing Cosmetic Problems
There are two ways to look at minor cosmetic blemishes – the kinds of issues that don't affect a home's functionality but do make it look run-down or outdated. 

Painting a room is an inexpensive way to correct a home's cosmetic problems.  However, many of today's buyers are willing to overlook flaws dive into DIY projects after they buy a house. 

Fixing cosmetic flaws is a judgment call. Weigh the value of your own time and effort against the relatively small effect that cosmetic improvements are likely to have on your home's value, and decide if it's worth it. Either way, most of your efforts should be focused on making sure your home's major systems are in good shape. 

Fixing the Big Stuff
While buyers are usually able to overlook flaking paint and outdated carpeting, they're much less likely to spring for a house that needs new plumbing or has major electrical issues. It's essential that you make sure the "bones" of your house are solid. That means making sure the plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems are up to par, and that the roof and foundation are sound. If any of these areas are lacking, it's important to fix them up – or hire a professional to do so – before selling your home. 

Kitchen and Bathroom Updates
Conventional wisdom says that the kitchen and bathroom are the essential rooms in the house to a potential buyer, and this is true – up to a point. The problem is, many sellers sink a ton of money into kitchen and bathroom remodeling right before they sell their house, only to discover that they might not get that money back. 

Many buyers plan to remodel these rooms anyway, so anything you do could end up being erased as soon as your home changes hands. Besides, do you want to finally create your dream kitchen and bath, right before selling your house? As a general rule, don't spend too much on your kitchen and bathroom, unless they are in such bad shape that they would prevent anyone from ever wanting to buy your house.  

Avoiding Trends
When you do decide to make home improvements before selling, it's important to avoid doing anything too trendy. Tastes change so quickly that today's hot color or design could look hopelessly out of date within a year.  Stick with neutral colors and timeless design elements, so your house will appeal to the broadest range of buyers for as long as it may be on the market. 

November
29

7 Things Home Sellers Forget to Do

When it comes to selling your home, there are a lot of important things you need to get done. While you're worrying about finding the right real estate agent, staging your home for photos, and improving its curb appeal, it's easy for some other important details to fall through the cracks. 


Forgetting to do the little things can sometimes cost you big money. Don't fall into this trap! Here are seven of the most common things that home sellers forget to do.

  1. Google Your Address
    Since most home buyers start their journey by searching online, it makes sense for you to do some research on your home. 

    Start by doing a Google search of your address. Check out the street view on Google Maps. Also, take a look to see what the major home sites are using for your property's estimated value. If it seems off, check to make sure all of the information (like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms) is correct. Reach out to the sites to make corrections if needed. 

  2. Clean the Inside of Everything
    When potential buyers come to look at your home, there's a good chance they'll open doors and look inside things. Make sure you're ready by thoroughly cleaning the inside of all appliances, drawers, and closets. If you have a garage or a basement, make sure these are clean and organized as well.

  3. Double-Check the Little Details
    First impressions are important, so make sure you pay attention to the little details. Check to make sure everything is dusted, light bulbs aren't burned out, and the doorbell works. Failing to do these things might make buyers wonder what else in the house been neglected. 

  4. Get a Pre-Listing Inspection
    Having your home inspected before you put it on the market will help you find and fix problems ahead of time. This lessens that chance that a buyer will have second thoughts when they get their own pre-closing inspection. It also helps ensure you're not blindsided by any unpleasant surprises that could seriously impact your selling price. 

  5. Make a List of Problems With Your Home
    Before selling your home, you'll most likely have to complete a statement disclosing all of the things that are wrong with it. You're expected to include all past issues like a roof leak, basement flood, or small kitchen fire, even if the damage has been repaired. 

    If you've lived in the house a while, it might take some effort to remember everything. Make things easier by keeping a running list as things come to mind. 

  6. Ask About Your Realtor's Marketing Plan
    We live in a digital world, and social media marketing can play a huge role in selling your home quickly. Before you sign a contract with a realtor, ask about his or her marketing plan. If social media isn't a part of this plan, it could be a sign that you need to find another agent.

  7. Clarify Which Items You're Taking With You
    Don't make the mistake of getting into a disagreement with a buyer because he or she fell in love with something that you didn't intend to leave in the house. If there are items in the home like a light fixture or mirror that you plan to take with you when you move, make sure you let your realtor know this ahead of time. 
November
15

6 Tips for Selling Your Home This Winter

This winter season may be the perfect time to list your home for sale. Some shoppers may be motivated to buy before year's end.  Making your home appealing to prospective buyers is key to catching their attention and sealing the deal. Using these six tips to get your home ready for the market and let this winter be a season be your selling success story.

  1. Make a Statement With Curb Appeal
    The first thing buyers will see when viewing your home is its exterior. Ensure that your walkway is in good condition and clear of snow, ice, and debris. Tidy up the front porch by replacing old or broken containers and cleaning the windows and doors.
  2. Make Your Home More Inviting
    During the colder months, buyers will likely spend more time assessing your home's interior than looking around outside. You'll want to be sure that your house is super clean, giving attention to corners, nooks and crannies and closets. Get rid of the clutter in your home by organizing and neatly storing items you are keeping and disposing of or donating the rest.
  3. Focus on Lighting
    Allow natural light to enter your home by keeping your curtains and blinds open when showing your home, and turn on the lights in each room. This simple act allows the buyer to see all that your home has to offer and adds both warmth and depth to your home's interior. Add or update lighting fixtures to highlight the architectural features and decor of your home for a more dramatic effect.
  4. Win Them Over With Warmth
    Set the temperature to a comfortable level before showing your house. Selling your home in the winter is much easier if you exhibit an environment that is warm and comfortable for visiting buyers. Be sure to have your heating system serviced and in good operating condition before listing your home. If you have gas logs, turn them on for added warmth and aesthetic appeal.
  5. Avoid Added Scents
    Not everyone has the same taste in scents, and some buyers may even be allergic to room sprays, scented candles, and other fragrances. You want your home to smell clean.   Be careful, adding overpowering scents may dissuade some buyers and can even be a distraction in your otherwise beautiful home.
  6. Create a Welcoming Atmosphere
    Welcome buyers personally when showing your home and offer them a warm drink such as cider, coffee or tea. Use tasteful and complimentary decor to set a cozy mood in each room, and use small touches such as greenery to welcome potential buyers home.

Set aside some time in your schedule to make your home a winter showcase before listing, and see how much difference these tips can make. 

November
8

How Long Should You Live in Your Home?

You may have bought your home as a starter, or perhaps you've outgrown your space. What you thought was your dream home might no longer suit your lifestyle. The fact is, people, sell their homes for a variety of reasons, and there's no rule of thumb for exactly how long you should stay in your current house.


If the thought of selling your home has crossed your mind recently, it may be time to revisit your goals to determine if now is the best time for you to make a move. Give some consideration to the following scenarios, and if they are right for you, it just might be time to list your home for sale.


Area Homes Are Selling High
Browse through listings for homes in your neighborhood, paying particularly close attention to homes comparable to yours in size and features. If the list prices seem high, it might be time to pay attention and do some further research. Using public information, or better yet, the help of a qualified real estate agent, you can see what similar homes in your community are selling for currently and recently. You may be able to make a nice profit by selling your home.


Two Words: Seller's Market
A seller's market happens when more potential buyers are looking for homes than there are homes available. The cards are stacked in your favor in this scenario when selling your home, as you are more likely to get at or above your asking price. Your real estate agent will know the market trends, so letting them know that you are thinking of selling your home will allow them to alert you of the best time to list.


Your Home is Cramping Your Style
Has your family grown since purchasing your home? Perhaps you've begun working from home, but don't have enough space for a proper home office. Many homeowners choose to sell when their current home is no longer big enough for their family's needs. It's important to weigh the pros and cons of additions and renovations against buying a new home that already has the features your family now needs.


Your Home Has Become a Financial Burden
If you underestimated the costs of home ownership when buying, you might be feeling a constant strain on your budget. A different neighborhood may have a lower cost of living, and you may even want a smaller home that requires less maintenance. Smaller homes or those in more affordable neighborhoods could potentially cost less in property taxes, homeowner insurance, and utility bills as well.

November
1

Priced to Sell: Tips to Pick a Listing Price

The price isn't always right. When it's wrong, buyers may move on to the next home without giving yours a second thought. Investing the time and effort required to determine the right price for your property can expedite the sale and put the money you desire in your pocket.

Research Comparable Properties
It is always advisable to compare apples-to-apples, and oranges-to-oranges when setting a price for your home. Start by looking at houses with similar square footage and features. When comparing homes, you should only consider those within a variance of up to 10% for both square footage and lot size. 

Focus only on properties located within 1/2 mile to 1 mile of your home. Then narrow your search by the home's age, the neighborhood, and quality of schools if they are different. This research will give you a reasonable estimate of the value of the property.

Of course, the value of the property and what homes are selling for can be two different things. It is essential to examine recent sales in the area. By comparing the listing price to the sales price, you can determine whether the properties were over/underpriced from the start.    

Always Consider the Season
Home prices typically rise during the summer months as families prepare to move into new homes and school districts. However, listing a home in the summer months isn't a slam dunk that you'll get the price you want. That's because other sellers are also eyeing the summer months to place their home on the market. This trend creates an oversupply of houses which can drive prices lower. 

Be Mindful of the Appraisal
The buyer's lender is going to order an appraisal before they'll approve the loan. That appraisal should be as close as possible to the sales price. The lender may decline the loan if they feel that the value of the home is significantly less than the agreed upon price. 

Factor in the Future
Circumstances within the community can increase or decrease the home's value. Homes in communities where large employers are in the process of expanding have a higher perceived value. Conversely, homes in communities where the economy is struggling or noticeably shrinking can have a lower value. These factors are entirely out of your control when you are selling your home, but do have a significant impact on your property's perceived value.

Pricing in a Buyers, Sellers, or Neutral Market
Examining recent sales data will be a telltale sign if it's a buyer's, seller's, or neutral market. In a buyer's market, you want to be as close as possible to recent sales of comparable properties when selling your home. In a seller's market where inventory is low, you can add 5-10% to your asking price. In a neutral market, you'll want to set the price to match the market trend which typically involves adding 1-2% per month since the last comparable sale.

Getting the Most for Your Home
There are two things you absolutely must do when setting a price for your home. If you want to get the highest price possible when selling your home, you must first put your emotions aside. To you, it's a home filled with years of memories: To a buyer, it's still just a house. Second, you must get the house in top condition. Fixing the trim, trimming the landscape, and painting will go a long way towards justifying the price you put in the listing.   

October
25

Don't Do These 6 Things If You Want to Get the Most for Your Home

If you're like most people, your house is one of the most significant assets.  This means that when it's time to sell, a lot of money is at stake. The decisions you make while selling your home can impact the rest of your life. Improve your chances of getting top dollar by avoiding these six common seller mistakes.  

  1. Neglecting to Fix Obvious Problems
    It's likely that your buyer will request a pre-sale inspection, but if you know there are problems with your home, go ahead and fix them before that happens. Simple flaws like chipped paint, a leaky faucet, or holes in the walls can seem like a red flag to potential home buyers. Fix these issues before you list your home for sale, and you're less likely to come across lowball offers.
  2. Overspending on Upgrades
    While a fresh coat of paint, landscaping, and minor upgrades can do wonders for your home's sale price, most major luxury renovations may not bring your anticipated return on investment. Instead of pouring a lot into costly improvements, focus your efforts on making your home look clean and well-maintained.
  3. Skimping on Photography
    Most buyers start their home search online, so photography is more important now than ever before. Hiring a professional photographer who knows how to use angles and lighting to make your house look its best is well worth the investment. Fail to do this, and some potential buyers will rule out your home without even taking the time to see it in person.
  4. Getting Emotionally Attached
    It's understandable to feel some attachment to your home, but when it comes time to sell, you must remember that it's a business transaction.

    Receiving your full asking price from a buyer would be ideal; however, be willing to negotiate.

    If the buyer finds a problem that needs repair and requests a credit, don't take it personally. It's better to comply than lose a good deal over a few hundred dollars.
  5. Making Showings Difficult
    Selling your home is often a numbers game. The more showings you have, the more likely you are to find the right buyer. To increase your chances of getting a good offer, you'll want to be flexible about your showing dates and times. This also means you'll have to keep your home as tidy and clutter-free as possible throughout the sales period.

    It's best if you're not present during showings, so you'll need to be willing to leave your home at a moment's notice. Since pets in the house can be a turn-off to buyers, make plans to take your pets with you or arrange for them to stay with a friend or relative while your home is up for sale.
  6. Failing to Use a Qualified Real Estate Agent
    Although you technically can sell your home without a real estate agent, using a professional to help you through the process will increase your chances of getting top dollar. Your agent will give you advice about staging, pricing, contract negotiation, and more. He or she can recommend a great photographer, optimize your home listings, and get your house in front of potential buyers who might not have found it otherwise.

 

October
18

Home Staging on a Budget

There's no doubt that appealing home staging is key to attracting interested buyers, but how much should you spend on staging? Whether you're working with a tight budget or merely trying to save every dollar you can for your move when selling your home, it's possible to do a great job staging a house on a budget.  

Simple, Smart, Budget-Friendly Staging

Staging a house on a budget may present unique challenges to deal with, but you're far from alone. Remember that your real estate agent has done this many times before, so they should be a great source of advice for staging priorities and ideas.

Refresh Restrooms and Eliminate Tough Stains

A dirty bathroom with stains and old fixtures is not likely to have shoppers falling in love with your home, so some elbow grease may be required to get bathrooms looking their best.

  • Want to give your bathroom a fresh look, without the cost of a full remodel? Replacing old bath, shower, and sink fixtures is an easy way to make bathrooms look new, without taking up too much of your budget.
  • Tough grime stuck on your bathroom walls? No problem! Just mix a solution of one part water to one part bleach in a spray bottle, spray the dirty areas, and wash it all away to get old walls looking like new.
  • Replacing cabinets is costly, but a fresh coat of paint or stain is not. Just make sure to choose a look that matches the rest of your bathroom.

Renting Furniture to Stage an Empty Home

You can still find affordable furniture rental options when staging on a budget – especially if you stick to staging only the most important rooms. For furniture, the most important spaces are the master bedroom, living room, and dining room. Furnishing these rooms helps to sell your home by making it easier for buyers to imagine what life would be like there.

Make the Most of Kitchen and Dining Areas

Just like with the bathroom, new fixtures and a fresh coat of paint on cabinets go a long way toward making an old kitchen look new again. Since kitchens are often the site of old smells and stains, you'll want to clean your kitchen to professional standards.

  • Investing in some flowers, candles, or other items with a pleasant, subtle scent is a great way to make the kitchen feel like a welcome place for buyers.
  • Lighting matters, in kitchens, dining rooms, and throughout the home. Brighter light bulbs and natural light will help you show off all of the work you've done to stage the home.

Don't Forget to Consider Curb Appeal

You want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb, so it pays to invest in your yard and the entrance to your home. Make sure your yard is clean, your lawn is cut, trees/hedges are pruned, and your garden is looking lively. You'll also want to apply a fresh coat of paint and updated fixtures if the entrance to your home has seen better days.

Staging a home on a budget is so much easier when you invest your effort where it matters most. By making affordable fixes, refreshing well-used rooms, keeping up with curb appeal, and strategically renting the right furniture, you can maximize your value when selling your home.

October
11

How to Hire a Reliable Mover

The process of selling your home and finding a reliable mover can be as stressful as meeting your potential spouse or starting a new career. It doesn't matter if you're moving a few miles away or a few hours away, you want to hire a moving company that you can trust.  How can you tell the difference between a reliable moving company and a bad one before they start loading your prized possessions on their truck?  These tips from the experts will teach you what to look for when talking to potential moving companies to make selling your home less stressful.

  • Get recommendations for a local mover.  Ask your friends and neighbors who they've used in the past. You may even want to ask your real estate agent for a few names.  While researching movers on the Internet won't hurt, visit nearby movers where you can visit their local office.  Finding a nearby mover gives them the opportunity to do an in-person estimate of how much it'll cost to move your belongings.
  • Conduct a background check on several moving companies.  Verify that they are licensed by checking their U.S. Department of Transportation number (USDOT number). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration assigns one to every moving company.  Professional moving companies will have the license available to show to you.  This also lets you check if they're current with their insurance. Check to see if they belong to the American Moving and Storage Administration (AMSA). If they are a member, it means they follow federal moving and storage regulations.
  • Read moving company reviews online.  Pay attention to how many overall reviews the company has, and if the percentage is skewed more positive or negative. Generally, if the positive ones outweigh the negative, it's a reputable company.  Consider running a search of potential companies through the Better Business Bureau, since any recent complaints will pop up.
  • Get in-house estimates from at least three moving companies. Avoid companies that only want to give you an estimate over the phone quote. An over-the-phone estimate doesn't work because even if you tell someone you live in a three-bedroom house, it doesn't clarify how much furniture or boxes need moving.
  • Show the in-house estimator everything that needs to go, whether it's in the bedrooms, closets, basement, or even the attic. If you suddenly have more stuff on moving day, the estimator can challenge his original quote, if he catches it before packing the truck. While he can't technically force you to pay more, you can't force him to move stuff not listed in the estimate.  Therefore, it's best to be up front early. Include information about your new home as well, such as if it's a narrow street or a two-level home.
  • Compare your estimates, checking for ones that may seem overly high or low. These should be a red flag since your stuff should cost around the same ballpark figure to move. You don't want to pick the cheapest one necessarily, and the high one could be ripping you off.
  • Research what kind of insurance each moving company offers.  Generally, the most common plan is the Full Replacement Value Protection Plan, which means if any item is damaged, the movers will repair or replace it with its value.

Keep these tips in mind as you go through the process of selling your home. It's a lengthy list, but it will feel great to check one thing off your checklist—hiring the movers.

October
4

9 Ways to Save Money When You're Moving

When you listed your home for sale, you knew someday you'd have to move. Unfortunately, the process can be stressful and time-consuming. It can also be surprisingly expensive.  If you're moving, you can't eliminate expenses altogether, but these nine tips should help you save some cash. 

  1. Get organized
    At least a month before your scheduled move, create a moving to-do list and mark off each task as you go. Organizing your move will help you plan each step. You can avoid last-minute overspending on unanticipated purchases.
  2. Get rid of the pounds
    Professional movers charge by the pound and the more stuff you have, the bigger the DIY rental truck. Do a ruthless decluttering to get rid of junk you won't use. Have a moving sale to make money on your decluttering efforts or donate unwanted items where you can get a tax deduction.
  3. Economize on moving supplies 
    To get the freebie boxes you need, you might have to ask a grocery store's night crew to put some aside for you. The bigger stores dismantle or pitch boxes after stocking the stores at night. You might not have that problem at a smaller store. 

    You can sometimes stock-up on discount packing tape and bubble wrap in a dollar store. You'll also get a good deal by buying shipping supplies in bulk at membership stores like Sam's Club or Costco. Limit bubble wrap costs by cushioning TVs and delicate electronics with blankets, quilts, and pillows.
  4. Take your time when DIY packing
    Instead of a rushed marathon packing session, spread your tasks over several weeks. When you do a leisurely pack, you won't use as many supplies and you'll have more time to find donatable items.
  5. Save on your truck rental
    Guarantee your rental by reserving early. If the truck size you need is unavailable, you'll pay more for a larger truck or have to make more trips with a smaller truck. Get loading and unloading help if you're moving locally. The work will go faster and you'll avoid paying for extra rental days. 
  6. Compare mover's costs
    Consumer Reports recommends getting three estimates before you commit to a mover. Review the details carefully. Ask questions about charges you don't understand. To help you choose, look for mover complaints and reviews on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Better Business Bureau sites and on social media.
  7. Control additional charges
    Professional movers charge extra for using elevators or stairs, moving pianos, guaranteed arrival dates, and many other items you might think are free. Make sure you understand which services have additional costs so you can plan for them or avoid them. 
  8. Use a container service
    PODS, Upack, and other shipping container companies, combine DIY with professional moving. They drop off a big container. You load it at your leisure. When you're ready, you schedule a truck to move it to your new destination.
  9. Employer relocation assistance
    If you're relocating to a new job, ask your employer about relocation benefits. They may have a program to reimburse your costs or contribute a flat dollar amount.
September
27

First-time Sellers: 6 Tips to Get the Job Done

Selling your first home takes a big commitment of time, energy, and emotion. You'll leave behind your first-home memories while looking for a new place to start all over again. It's not an easy job, but it's worth it.


6 Tips for Selling Your Home

Until you sign the papers on your new and current home, you'll pull double-duty as a home buyer and a home seller. It's a tough job, but it's doable when you have a plan. Here are six tips to help you get the job done.

  1. Don't Wait!
    You'll have to get your current home ready for the market while searching for the next place you'll call home. Time constraints, job duties, even treasured memories can hinder the process. It's important to set a things-to-do schedule and get an early start.

  2. Find a Real Estate Professional
    When you're selling your home, connecting with a real estate professional will ease the strain of simultaneously marketing and buying. Your realtor can offer advice on pre-listing home preparation. When you're too busy to search for a home that meets your criteria, your realtor keeps your search going.

    You need someone with knowledge of your current community and the community where you've decided to relocate. Ask enough questions to feel comfortable with their marketing, negotiating, and closing experience.

  3. Do Your Pre-Listing Preparation
    You can't just list it and hope for the best. This is where your plan for selling your home kicks into high gear.

    Declutter:
    Remove unnecessary furniture, toys, appliances, tools and other objects crowding your space. Store personal mementos and cultural displays so every potential buyer will feel at home. 

    Repair and Upgrade:
    Fix all the little things you always wanted to fix but didn't have time. Repair wall dings and dents and paint your walls in neutral colors. Replace broken bathroom and kitchen tiles. Consider upgrading anything that looks worn and faded. DIY what you can to save money. Hire a pro for tasks you can't do or prefer not to do.

    Clean:
    Consider hiring a pro to clean everything thoroughly from top to bottom.

    Enhance: Add final touches to beautify your home's interior and heighten your curb appeal. Add lighting, decor, and room-brightening window treatments. Upgrade your landscaping with plants and flowers. Keep your lawn mowed until you can turn the job over to the new owner. 

    Staging:
    Your realtor can give you pointers on arranging your rooms to look their best. You can also hire a professional stager. 

  4. Price it Right
    When you overprice, selling your home takes too long. When you underprice, you lose money. Do the research.  Your realtor can conduct a comparative market analysis of recently sold homes. You can check current listings for prices on homes similar to yours. Your comparables research will help you price it right.

  5. List With Professional Photos
    The NAR 2017 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers tells us that 51% of homebuyers begin their search online. You need great listing photos to catch a buyer's eye. To maximize your listing visibility, hire a professional photographer.

  6. Be Flexible
    Selling your home requires flexibility. You must be available for home showings and respond to offers quickly. You must be a fair and flexible negotiator and make concessions when necessary. 


It's Worth the Effort

Selling your home is a labor of love. When you hand over your keys to the new owner, you'll feel the thrill of making someone's homeowner dream come true. When you close on your new home, you get to repeat the process all over again. 

September
20

What Sellers Should Know About VA Loans

The Veterans Administration home loan program, also known as a VA loan, has helped millions of Americans become homeowners. But some sellers still don't have much information about how these loans work. When you're selling your home, being informed will help you make a good decision.

How the Process Works
A buyer starts the house hunting process by obtaining proof from the VA that they are eligible for this type of loan. The buyer then contacts a VA approved lender, who handles the financing. These are private lenders, and most of the process is the same as it would be if the buyer were choosing any other type of mortgage.


The Veterans Administration does not lend buyers money; they only guarantee a portion of the loan. That means the lender still has recourse if the property is foreclosed on. Because of that guarantee, buyers can get more favorable terms. It's similar in concept to FHA loans but applies only to Veterans, currently enlisted military personnel and sometimes their spouses. The bid process is the same, and once you accept the buyer's bid, everything proceeds as usual with an appraisal, home inspections, and closing. Most VA loans close in 30 to 45 days, just as other mortgages do.


Some sellers worry about delays and extra paperwork because the VA is a government agency. However, the VA's role in this process is small, and VA approved lenders are very familiar with how it all works, so those fears are simply unfounded.


Where the Big Difference is For Seller

VA loans are subject to a stricter appraisal process. All mortgage lenders require an appraisal of the property before finalizing the loan. For VA loans this process also includes an assessment of Minimum Property Requirements (MPR). For this reason, not every appraiser handles these types of assignments. Although this could cause potential delays, in most areas, it won't. Unless a property is remote and difficult to get to, there are likely plenty of appraisers in your area capable of handling the job.


Some sellers worry unnecessarily about the minimum property requirements. Because they are guaranteed, VA loans are designed for properties that are in good shape and move-in ready. For most people, selling your home will mean it's in move-in condition already. In situations where that isn't possible, this can be an issue. Fixer-uppers and homes that need extensive major repairs will require some other form of financing. In most cases, a buyer using a VA loan will probably already be aware of this, so it shouldn't be a big issue for the seller if they have submitted a bid on your home.


Closing Costs

There are limits on how much and what type of closing costs can be paid as part of a VA loan. As a result, sellers often think they will be required to pay them instead. The closing costs and who pays what are a frequently negotiated part of the contract when selling your home. And as with any other type of mortgage, the seller still has the option to negotiate or just say no. Buyers may have to pay some costs in cash at closing instead of rolling them into the loan, or sellers may opt to adjust the selling price upward to compensate.


When selling your home, it's a good idea to keep an open mind and objectively assess the offers you receive. That buyer with a VA loan could be the perfect match for you!

September
13

Ins and Outs of Pricing Your Home to Sell

If you've recently decided to sell your house, you might be experiencing a range of thoughts and emotions. Aside from committing to selling your home, deciding on your asking price is probably the biggest choice you will face during the process, and it's an important one! Working with an experienced agent is key to getting your home sold efficiently, and having professional guidance to help you determine the asking price allows you to list your home with confidence. Following are some of the ins and outs of home pricing you'll want to consider before making a decision. 

  1. Get Acquainted With the Market
    The housing market is known to change often, and trends develop because of supply and demand. Your strategy may be much different in a buyer's market than when the seller has the advantage. Do some research, to understand exactly what is happening in your area where the housing market is concerned. Upfront knowledge is important in deciding how to proceed, and your real estate agent understands the market and will provide valuable insights into the market.
  2. The Power of Comparison
    It's your right to ask any price you want for your home, but that doesn't guarantee that you'll get it. An important part of pricing your home is to look at comparable homes and their selling prices. Your real estate agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis which is full of helpful information on area comps. Keep in mind that you should consider homes that are comparable in size, age, and location when setting your asking price.
  3. Put Your Emotions on Hold
    The excitement of selling your home is running high, but now is the time to look at your home thoroughly, and view each aspect of it with a critical eye. Of course, your home holds sentimental value, as it should, but some parts of your home may be worth more to you than they would to a potential buyer. Are there add-ons that may detract from the value to buyers? Could your home use a makeover? The answer to these and other questions, when answered honestly, may influence how you ultimately price your home.
  4. Spruce Up Your Home
    Your home may be in good or even great shape, and if so, you may feel comfortable setting your asking price once you've done your research. Most homeowners, however, can find a few things that need attention. Small projects such as tidying up your home's landscaping and decluttering its interior may allow you to up your asking price. Potential buyers will be looking at the home as a whole but will hone in on details as well. A tidy, welcoming home is what they hope to see.
  5. The Zero Debate
    Traditionally, setting a home's price ending in too many zeros may not be to your advantage. Although there's truly little difference, a prospective buyer may be more enticed by a home priced at $299,000 versus one priced at $300,000. While avoiding the zeros may present a bargain to some, it may cause some buyers to miss your home entirely. Online real estate searches are extremely popular, and that home priced at $299,000 won't show up if the buyer sets the parameters from $300,000 to $350,000. Your real estate agent knows the market and will offer advice depending on your unique selling scenario.

Taking the time to do your research and make your home its best before listing your home will make the pricing process easier. 

September
6

Top 10 Features Home Buyers Want This Year

As a seller, you'll want to do everything you can to make your home more appealing to buyers. And like other sellers, you'll be doing some prep work to get your home ready to sell. That means fresh paint, increased curb appeal, and sometimes even renovations. Many sellers struggle with deciding exactly where to spend their home improvement budget, and it can be tough to know what buyers want.  Hopefully, you're lucky enough to have a few of these upgrades already in your home. If not, adding one or more of these suggestions can help your home get noticed and stand out in the minds of buyers.

  1. Laundry room. According to the National Association of Home Builders, this topped the list of most desirable amenities with 92% of buyers wanting one. It keeps this everyday chore from piling up in other areas and out of sight. It's also a necessity for families and depending on the size of the project, it can be fairly inexpensive.
  2. Energy efficiency. The most common improvements include appliances and windows. But energy efficiency can come with bigger projects like solar panels and energy efficient HVAC systems, or several smaller projects like a new programmable thermostat, energy efficient doors and LED light fixtures.
  3. Outdoor living areas. Thanks to DIY shows, outdoor living areas are extremely popular. These areas can range from a patio or deck to an entire outdoor kitchen. It's a great way to add a functional area to a home without actually having to add on to the house or take on huge renovations.
  4. Hardwood floors. Buyers love the longevity and timeless beauty of hardwood floors. You can achieve a variety of looks making them all the more appealing. If you love hardwood floors, but want something a more budget-friendly, engineered wood can help keep the cost down.
  5. Extra storage space. A well-organized garage, walk-in closet, or an unused area converted to extra storage is always a win with buyers. It's something buyers always look for when home shopping and an absolute necessity for families.
  6. Outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting is the top outdoor feature mentioned by buyers. It helps your home and the surrounding yard look wonderful and adds safety to the outdoor area.
  7. Unique architectural features. A unique feature that gives a house character should be highlighted and used to your advantage, not hidden. Exposed brick, exposed beams, a beautiful window alcove or fireplace are all good examples.
  8. Ceiling fans. This popular decorative touch is always a win with buyers. They give a room a unique look, help cut energy bills and provide comfort. This useful upgrade can be fairly inexpensive too.
  9. Eat in kitchen. Families and those who entertain highly desire this. Feeding young children requires the easily washable surfaces found in kitchens and cooks appreciate not being isolated from the surrounding festivities when entertaining.
  10. Updated or upgraded bathrooms. If you can add a little space for a double vanity, update lighting, frame a building grade mirror, or add a high-end feature or two, it can make a big impact. It can be easy for bathrooms to look outdated. Bathroom projects might require it's out of use for a few days, so people tend to put off updating a bathroom until it's an absolute necessity. It's one of those areas where the lack of action says a lot.

When it's time to sell your home giving buyers what they want gives you a big advantage. And it will help make your home selling experience a successful one.

August
23

The Ins and Outs of Pricing Your Home to Sell

If you've recently decided to sell your house, you might be experiencing a range of thoughts and emotions. Aside from committing to selling your home, deciding on your asking price is probably the biggest choice you will face during the process, and it's an important one! Working with an experienced agent is key to getting your home sold efficiently, and having professional guidance to help you determine the asking price allows you to list your home with confidence. The following are some of the ins and outs of home pricing you'll want to consider before making a decision. 

Get Acquainted With the Market
The housing market is known to change often, and trends develop because of supply and demand. Your strategy may be much different in a buyer's market than when the seller has the advantage. Do some research, to understand what is happening in your area where the housing market is concerned. Upfront knowledge is important in deciding how to proceed, and your real estate agent understands the market and will provide valuable insights into the market.

The Power of Comparison
It's your right to ask any price you want for your home, but that doesn't guarantee that you'll get it. An essential part of pricing your home is to look at comparable homes and their selling prices. Your real estate agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis that is full of helpful information on area comps. Keep in mind that you should consider homes that are comparable in size, age, and location when setting your asking price.

Put Your Emotions on Hold
The excitement of selling your home is running high, but now is the time to look at your home thoroughly, and view each aspect of it with a critical eye. Of course, your home holds sentimental value, as it should, but some parts of your home may be worth more to you than they would to a potential buyer. Are there add-ons that may detract from the value to buyers? Could your home use a makeover? The answer to these and other questions, when answered honestly, may influence how you ultimately price your home.

Spruce Up Your Home
Your home may be in good or even great shape, and if so, you may feel comfortable setting your asking price once you've done your research. Most homeowners, however, can find a few things that need attention. Small projects such as tidying up your home's landscaping and decluttering its interior may allow you to up your asking price. Potential buyers will be looking at the home as a whole but will hone in on details as well. A tidy, welcoming home is what they hope to see.

The Zero Debate
Traditionally, setting a home's price ending in too many zeros may not be to your advantage. Although there's truly little difference, a prospective buyer may be more enticed by a home priced at $299,000 versus one priced at $300,000. While avoiding the zeros may present a bargain to some, it may cause some buyers to miss your home entirely. Online real estate searches are extremely popular, and that home priced at $299,000 won't show up if the buyer sets the parameters from $300,000 to $350,000. Your real estate agent knows the market and will offer advice depending on your unique selling scenario.

Taking the time to do your research and make your home its best before listing your home will make the pricing process easier.

August
16

I've Sold My Home. Who Do I Tell I'm Moving?

Once you've decided where you're moving to, it's time to let everyone know the good news! And your social media posts filled with pictures of your new place aren't entirely going to do the job. Changing your address is one of those things you can't put off. Doing so can cause overdue bills, costly billing errors, service interruptions, and can even leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Here are some of the places you'll need to update your address after selling your home. 

Top Places to Change Your Address

  • US Postal Service. Address changes can be done online for $1 with a credit or debit card or by picking up the good old fashioned paper form at your local post office. It will help catch anything you've forgotten.
  • Utilities and Information Services. Electric, gas, water, cell phone, TV, and internet. After selling your home, you'll have to set up a turn off date for your current residence and a turn-on time for your new one along with changing the billing address.
  • Current Employer. Notify your current employer about your move even if you're staying with the same company. They'll need to know where to send your W2's if they're not available electronically.
  • IRS. If you expect to get a refund via check, this is extra important because some post offices won't forward government checks. If you're moving around tax time, you can file a change of address with your return.
  • DMV, Voter Registration, and Social Security. You'll only need to change your address with Social Security if you're currently receiving benefits. Any other government agencies you receive benefits from or offices you need to deal with regularly will need to be added to this list too. If you're moving further away, they may be able to direct you to services in your new area.
  • Insurance Companies. Health insurance, homeowner's or renter's insurance, car insurance, and life insurance.
  • Banks, Financial Institutions, Credit Card Companies, and Lenders. You may be changing banks but will probably be keeping other accounts like investment, retirement and credit cards including personal, auto, or student loans.
  • Schools

Additional Places to Notify

  • Home Services. Landscaping, gardening, lawn mowing, cleaning services, pool maintenance, and any other recurring home maintenance services you're paying.
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Veterinarians
  • Subscription services and online retailers. Ones you buy from frequently or get recurring shipments from
  • Religious, community, or recreational groups and clubs

Make Updating Your Address Easier

Lots of organizations allow you to change your address online, either through an online form, e-mail or chat with a customer service representative. Some companies will still require you to call.

The US Postal Service, DMV, and most voter registrations allow you to fill out a web-based form to change your address.

If you have a lot of people to notify, especially friends and family, you may want to send out postcards. You can use templates found on Canva.com or in Microsoft Office to design your own.

The TouchNote app allows you to create custom postcards and even mails them for you.

The by-invitation-only app, Updater, can manage the address changes for you and help you coordinate utility services, book a mover and even get insurance.  

If you want to notify some friends and family via social media, opt for private messages.

The process of updating your address is even more critical when you're selling your home and moving out of state. Keeping everyone informed will make things easier during this stressful and exciting time.

August
9

Sell Your Home as Pet-Friendly. Here's Why...

Tips to Sell Your Home to Today's Pet Owners


Your home undoubtedly has a lot of beautiful things about it. And you'll want to highlight all of them to make it more appealing to buyers. One positive you probably didn't think about promoting when selling your home is its pet friendliness. Finding a pet-friendly home is a pretty big deal to buyers so here's how to let them know your home is the perfect place for them and their furry friends.

Why Pet-friendly?
Selling your home quickly and at the right price means you need to appeal to as many buyers as possible. The National Association of REALTORS® reports the Millennial generation is the largest group of home buyers today. And pet-friendly homes are significant to them. According to the American Pet Products Association, over 60% of Americans have a pet and Millennials comprise the most significant percentage of pet owners with 34% owning pets. Additionally, a survey by Sun Trust Mortgage indicates one-third of the Millennials that bought homes did so because they wanted to have more space for a pet. So when you look at all those statistics, it's easy to see that you're very likely to be selling your home to a pet-loving millennial and making them aware of how your home can serve their needs makes sense.

What Do Pet Owners Want?
It's primarily dog owners who are opting for homeownership for the sake of their pets. Due to the size, demeanor, and activity level of some breeds, they have a harder time finding an appropriate pet-friendly rental than cat owners do. Physical space can be an issue, and if they're in an area where rent is already high, the hefty deposits and cleaning fees make renting even less appealing. So they're buying homes instead. Make sure to highlight these features when selling your home.

  • Fenced in yard
  • Pet care station
  • Custom dog house
  • Retractable pet gates

In addition to your home being pet-friendly, you'll want to emphasize the pet friendliness of your neighborhood too. These things often make a community more attractive to pet owners:

  • Dog parks
  • Fitness trails for walking
  • Other parks or beaches that allow pets
  • Proximity to vets
  • Proximity to pet supply stores
  • Community groups for pet owners
  • Pet-friendly community facilities or events
  • Doggie daycare
  • Pet spas

These pet-friendly features are not just for single family homes either. Many condo communities have made efforts to appeal to pet owners and if yours includes any of these amenities on premises, make sure you tell your real estate agent.


Make it Visible Your Home is Pet-friendly

Pet owners naturally connect with one another so don't be afraid to provide some visual evidence of your love for your pet. It will help give a buyer an emotional connection to your home that could help close the deal. A picture of you with your pet, a flashy new water bowl, and a container of dog treats on the shelf are an excellent way to make an impression with a pet owner.


Selling your home as pet-friendly is the right thing to do for today's buyers, and it helps with finding the perfect buyer for your home.

August
2

Selling Your Home: How to Make a Counteroffer

As you go through the process of selling your home, you'll most likely receive more than one offer from potential buyers. In these kinds of situations, it may be necessary to make a counteroffer. There are a number of factors that can affect the type of counter you make and the success of acceptance. Here's what you should know about how to make a counter offer when selling your home.

All Things in Consideration

There are a variety of things you'll want to pay attention to within an offer from a potential buyer. Most likely, your focus will fall to the offer price first. Whether or not this price is acceptable to you, it's important to take the time to read all of the terms of the offer before making the decision to counter.

You'll want to carefully consider things like:

  • Closing date
  • Items from the home the buyer wants to be included in the sale
  • Additional contingencies the buyer has included in their offer

Once you've determined which terms of the offer are acceptable, you can then begin preparing your counteroffer to address the unacceptable terms. For instance, you received an offer on your home for the full asking price but the buyer has added contingencies to the contract for the major appliances to be included in the sale and a 60-day closing.

A 'give-and-take' perspective is typically the best approach when selling your home. When considering a counteroffer, consider meeting the potential buyer halfway. For instance, you may counter by including all major appliances except for the washer and dryer and a 30-day closing in exchange for the buyer's responsibility for half of the closing costs.

A professional real estate agent can help you draft a counteroffer that works best for you. You'll want to thoroughly read, sign, and date the counter and your agent will present it to the buyer or
buyer's agent.

It's All in the Details

No matter what you've included in your counter, make sure every detail is in writing. It's important to understand that presenting a counteroffer will negate the original and create a completely new agreement.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to negotiate the terms of your counteroffer verbally to avoid the extensive paperwork. Once everything has been agreed upon, the final terms of a counter can be put to paper and submitted for as a final purchase agreement for formal acceptance from the buyers.

July
26

Fielding a Lowball Offer

When you're trying to sell your home, receiving a lowball offer is the last thing you want to happen, and it's certainly disheartening. Preparing yourself for the possibility of a lowball offer and having a strategy in place to deal with it can make the situation much less stressful. Use these tips to help you plan what you'll do if you receive an offer that's not up to your expectations.

  1. Don't Overreact
    Your home means a lot to you, and you certainly hope that potential buyers will see its worth. However, if you receive a lowball offer, the last thing you should do is let your emotions take control. It's good to keep in mind that despite the sentimental value your home holds for you, a real estate transaction is an investment. The prospective buyer may be simply to snag a bargain, albeit at your expense. Don't refuse an offer immediately until you've had time to consider your other options.
  2. Counter Offer
    If you've received a lowball offer, especially if it's the only offer, let the buyer know you are willing to show some flexibility by writing up a counter offer. Many prospective buyers will start with a much lower offer than they are actually willing to pay, and a bit of negotiating is likely expected. If you feel like you need advice on making the counteroffer, your agent will be able to guide you through the process.
  3. Have a Second Look at Comps
    Double-check comparable homes to be sure your selling price is in line with the current market, especially if the market is changing. Be willing to have a look at comps provided by the prospective buyer as well if they are basing their offer on such data. This is also a good time to review other information you factored into your asking price such as a home appraisal.
  4. Your Motivation Versus Buyer Motivation
    If your only offer is a lowball offer, and you need to sell right away, you may choose to accept the offer to expedite the sale. You might consider asking the buyer why their offer is so low. If the buyer is serious about your home, they might be open with you about their reasoning. They may be at the top of their budget and hoping that you will lower your price or they might see an aspect of your home that in their eyes needs repair. Honest and clear communication typically makes a negotiation smoother.
  5. Your Right to Refuse
    There's no rule saying you have to accept any offer made on your home, let alone a lowball offer. If you're confident in how you've priced your home, you can always ignore or refuse an offer that is too far below your asking price.

Ultimately, you will make the decision of which offer to accept on your home, but having a strategy in place to handle lowball offers is important as you list your home for sale.

July
19

What Every Home Seller Needs to Know About Closing Day

The closing day is an exciting time for sellers, but it can also be stressful. With help from an experienced real estate agent, you can minimize complications and keep things moving forward.

Even with the best real estate agent on your side, however, it's important to understand as much as you can about the process. An informed seller ensures that he or she will be able to make the best decisions even down to the final hours of the process.

And, unfortunately, unexpected things can happen at the last moment. By the time a home sale reaches closing, it's usually ready to go off without a hitch – but it never hurts to be prepared.

What Sellers Must Know About Closing Day

Most of the closing simply consists of sitting down and signing documents--lots and lots of them. Many people are surprised by how long this can take: Although a quick closing may be done in as little as an hour, it's a good idea to clear off the entire morning or afternoon.

Keep these pointers in mind for a successful closing as a seller:


You'll Need to Bring the Right Items

Everything has to be signed and verified at closing. If even one piece is missing, you'll have to reschedule. That, in turn, can endanger the terms of your mortgage loan, which is often offered with very strict time constraints. Luckily, there's a simple list of items to remember.

You'll need to bring:

  • The deed, if your property is already paid off.
  • A valid state or federal ID, such as your current driver's license or passport.
  • If required, a verified check in the amount specified by the escrow officer.
  • All keys and security codes needed to access the property if the closing is successful.


You'll Sign Tons of Different Paperwork

These include:

  • Closing Instructions
    These can sometimes be signed at the opening of the escrow account, but they are usually done at closing. You should carefully review the exact amount of credits and debits for accuracy. This ensures that liens (and your existing mortgage, if any) are fully paid off.
  • HUD-1 Settlement Statement
    This is a statement required by federal law that serves as a full accounting of all money involved in the transaction. There's both a buyer's column and a seller's column, and you should receive a copy well in advance so you can review it in full. Check the math and look for clerical errors.
  • Certificate of Title
    This affirms you have the right to sell a given property.
  • Deed
    This document passes ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. It must be signed along with a full description of the property, then recorded at the county courthouse.
  • Loan Payoff
    This itemizes your loan payoff amounts to be paid at closing.
  • Bill of Sale
    This document lists any personal property, such as furniture, you agreed to provide to the buyer as part of the sale. Make sure there are no extra or missing items and that all prices are correct.
  • Statement of Closing Costs
    Closing costs vary a great deal in each transaction. Although buyers are generally responsible for many of these, you may have negotiated concessions. It's a good idea to review all closing costs.
  • Statement of Information
    This document is simply used to affirm your identity.

Your closing should be a day of celebration. Double-checking all the paperwork with an expert advisor by your side will help give you peace of mind as you reach this major milestone.

July
12

6 Hot Tips to Sell Your Home This Summer

Summer is a perfect time to sell your home. Whether you live on the coast or in the heartland of America, the number of home seekers is steadily rising, which creates a fantastic market.

If you have yet to put your home on the market, here are six reasons to sell your home this summer.

  1. High Demand  
    The demand for homes is skyrocketing, as there are plenty of more buyers compared to the available homes for sale. This is especially true in markets where it isn't cheap to build, and space is limited. The high demand for homes results in a favorable seller's market, which substantially increases the price and makes it much more likely that you will sell your home this summer due to the rising demand and lack of available homes.
  2. Additional Money
    Another reason why it is such a good idea to put your home on the market this summer is due to the record levels of unemployment. People are finding better jobs, which results in additional money that can be used to purchase a home. Consumer confidence is at an all-time high and existing-home sales have skyrocketed over the past few months. The majority of people are also getting a tax cut, which is just one more reason why the summer is the perfect time to list your home for sale.
  3. Millennials
    Many young adults have been crippled with student debt, which delayed them from purchasing a home. However, Millennials are expected to account for over 40 percent of home buyers taking out a mortgage in 2018, as these first time home buyers are ready to transition from renting to homeownership. These additional home buyers will only increase the price and demand of your home, and listing your home on the market this summer is a great way to reap the benefits of a seller's market.
  4. More Available Time
    School is out for the summer, which means that families have a lot more free time without the constant demands of bringing their kids to school each day or participating in after-school activities. It is also much more manageable for families to move during the summer, as they do not have to worry about disrupting classes, which makes it easier for the kids. Summer is also a prime time to move for anyone who lives in colder states, as you do not have to worry about the snow or freezing temperatures.
  5. Increase Curb Appeal
    The curb appeal of your home peaks during the summertime, with the green grass, blooming flowers, and leafy trees. Of course, landscaping your home will generate even more interest, as well-placed flowerbeds and a frequently mowed lawn is a simple, yet highly effective way to attract potential home buyers.
  6. Less Competition
    Many home sellers wait until the spring or fall to sell their home, which results in much less competition. With fewer homes on the market, you will have the power set your own price without having to compete against an overcrowded market. Going against the grain and making your house available for sale during the summertime is a wise investment that can generate plenty of extra money.

Selling your home during the summer offers a wide range of benefits, whether it is due to the economy, more available time, less competition, or a whole list of other advantages. Don't delay any longer, but your home on the market today and enjoy the many perks of listing your home during the summer!

July
5

10 Signs You've Outgrown Your Home

For many homeowners there comes a point when your current home doesn't seem to "fit" any longer. 

How do you know if it's time to sell your current home and buy a new one?  Here are ten signs you've outgrown your current home:

  1. Change in Family Size.
    The addition of (or return of) children, a spouse, an aging relative, or even furry friends can mean things are just too crowded. Perhaps your children are grown and squeezing into that two bedroom apartment just isn't going to be an option any longer. Or your children have left home and you no longer need the extra space.
  2. There's Stuff Everywhere.
    You can't walk around your home without tripping over or running into stuff. When you straighten up, there just isn't anywhere to put it. Obviously more people means more stuff, but we acquire things just going through life. Y­ou may have started out in your current home as a young adult with little more than your clothes and a bed. In the meantime, you've acquired hobbies with equipment, had life experiences complete with photos and souvenirs, and had to buy an entire wardrobe of work clothes. Cleaning out the closets and other storage spaces can only go so far, and parting with everything just isn't realistic.
  3. Major Life Changes.
    Sometimes change happens all at once and your current living space just isn't practical going forward. Marriages, divorces, blended families, boomerang kids, career changes and changes in your financial situation can all signal it's time to move.
  4. Your DIY Projects Never Happen.
    This is probably a good sign you don't really feel at home here. If you've been there a while and done nothing to make the space unique and personal, it may be time to move on.
  5. You're Always Doing Yard Work.
    Having a yard is nice but it comes with maintenance. If you don't enjoy it or it takes too much of your time and you don't want to pay someone to do it, it may be time to move.
  6. Your Home Doesn't Appeal to You Any Longer
    Often in this situation those little quirks just become annoying and you spend all your time at home wanting to change or avoid them. If they can't be remedied by remodeling or you don't want to, it may be time to part.
  7. Your Home or Neighborhood Doesn't Fit Your Lifestyle.
    If your lifestyle has changed significantly or you made some sacrifices with your current home, finding a place that better fits your lifestyle might be a good idea. For example, if your current space can't accommodate entertaining, you may decide it's something you don't want to sacrifice anymore.
  8. You're Getting Lots of New Neighbors.
    If your neighborhood is hot and property values have risen significantly, selling when you can get the most out of your investment might be a good idea.
  9. You Spend Lots of Time Somewhere Else.
    If you're always hanging out in a different neighborhood or city or constantly looking for excuses not to hang out at your own place, you'd probably be happier elsewhere.
  10. You're Home Shopping Even Though You're Not Officially Looking.
    You spend tons of time looking at other homes online and daydreaming about your perfect home.

Seeing the signs that your current living space no longer fits is the first step toward a happier life for you and your family. It can be hard to part if you've made many memories there, but being honest and objective about your situation will help. Things change and if your current home isn't meeting your needs, it's time to move on.

June
28

Downsizing Mistakes Not to Make

Whether the kids have gone and you no longer need such a big house, or you're just trying to live a little on the lighter side, downsizing can be a very liberating experience. Nothing quite beats returning to a more simple existence, or so the conventional wisdom goes. This can be true, of course, but there are several common mistakes that people make. Here are a few missteps to avoid on your journey.
 

Five Mistakes NOT to Make When You're Downsizing

  1. Overestimating the Financial Benefits
    It costs more to run a bigger household, but don't overestimate the financial advantages. Over time, you will likely see the benefits in transitioning to a smaller place and a simpler lifestyle, but don't start counting your chickens just yet. Initially, you may not see much in the way of savings at all, due to the expenses associated with selling a property. Additionally, you often pay a premium to live someplace with a smaller footprint or less maintenance, such as a condo. 

  2. Forgetting to Consider Lifestyle Needs
    Don't be so eager to downsize that you forget to take into account your lifestyle and your needs. For example, it might seem like a good idea to have a smaller house to maintain, but if you enjoy cooking and entertaining, would you really be happy downsizing your kitchen space or foregoing a separate dining room? And even if that extra bedroom seems unnecessary, would it be a good place for housing your hobbies? 

  3. Letting Emotions Cloud Your Judgment
    One of the hardest things about downsizing is the emotional attachment you have to your possessions. Start with the easy stuff, purging items that hold fewer associations. As you encounter items with an emotional connection, ask yourself if that's the only reason why you're considering keeping the item. If so, would a picture suffice? Or could you pass the item on to your kids, family, or friends, to let someone else form new memories and connections?

  4. Trying to Do Too Much at Once
    It might not seem like it, but downsizing is hard work. Even if you're excited about the idea, even if you're jazzed up when you first start, there's only so long you can keep purging before you start feeling overwhelmed. Divide your household up into many smaller sections and focus on just one at a time. If you find yourself wanting to keep more and more, it's time for a break. Kitchen appliances, outdoor tools, clothes, and books are good places to start since those are the areas most people want to downsize first.

  5. Downsizing Too Much
    While downsizing truly can be the liberating experience you're expecting, there is such a thing as downsizing too much. Forcing yourself to get rid of too much too fast may only lead to regret, so let yourself keep anything you're unsure of, especially as it's easier to get rid of more than it is to get stuff back. Likewise, moving into a place that is too small may only make you feel cramped and unhappy, so look for something that's a little bigger than what you think you want. It's easier to deal with too much space than too little. The truth is, most of us keep more than we ought to, and over time that builds up.

Whether this move is a large milestone for you or more of a periodic reset, downsizing is a healthy exercise that not only simplifies your life and increases satisfaction, but also makes this and future moves much easier. If this sounds appealing to you, contact your real estate agent today to review your options for downsizing to a smaller home.

June
14

Selling a Home? Don't Bother to Fix These Things

Most guides to selling a house will tell you all about the things that you do need to fix or upgrade, and for good reason. There are some things that every buyer will look for, and you don't want to fall short in those areas. However, there are also plenty of renovations and fixes that you don't need to worry about. Whether an item is simply not a priority for buyers or the cost of an upgrade doesn't match the expected return, it's a good idea to know what not to fix.

Selling a Home? Save Money and Effort by Skipping Unnecessary Fixes and Upgrades


The big thing to remember with upgrades is that the more you spend on a project, the bigger your risk if the taste of your buyer doesn't match your own taste. That rules out most major renovations unless the room is in such rough shape that it needs an upgrade for the home to sell.

  • Major Bathroom Renovations
    There's no doubt that buyers tend to look at kitchens and bathrooms first, but that doesn't mean you have to shell out big bucks for a full bathroom renovation. A full renovation is an expensive prospect, and the return just isn't enough to justify the cost. Many buyers even look forward to renovating key areas themselves when they move in, and the last thing you want is to invest in a major renovation that doesn't fit the buyer's taste.

  • A Brand New Kitchen
    Just as with bathrooms, making major upgrades to your kitchen is a big risk, because you don't know if the buyer's taste will match your own. Rather than diving into big, costly projects, focus on making necessary fixes or small upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms for a better return on your investment. That way, your new buyer can spend their own money picking out cabinets, countertops, and anything else they desire.

  • Painting in Bold Colors
    While it's a good idea to touch up paint or even apply a fresh coat, you'll probably want to skip the bright, bold colors in favor of something tamer. You want buyers to be able to imagine their lives in your home, and that may be hard to do if the walls are painted neon green. Trends come and go, so stick with classic colors.

  • Upgrades That Don't Fit Your Neighborhood
    It's important to consider what other homes in the neighborhood have to offer because you don't want to upgrade the home to the point where your list price will be too expensive for the neighborhood where the home is located. Unless you're competing with upscale homes in an affluent neighborhood, too many bells and whistles may actually be a negative for buyers who are shopping on a budget.

  • Upscale Outdoor Patios
    Yes, many buyers will love having a nice patio in their backyard where they can host parties and enjoy the outdoors. But an upscale outdoor patio often costs more to install than you'll be able to recoup from your eventual buyer. This is another area where the buyer's taste might not match your own.  Even if they do want a patio it's best to let them handle the job themselves.

If you have any questions about which fixes to prioritize, which to skip, and what matters most to buyers in your market, then your real estate agent should be your number one source for advice. Working closely with your agent will help you focus your effort where it's most needed, and simplify the process of selling your next home.

June
7

Staging Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Sale

Staging a house is a popular practice in the real estate world, and, if done properly, an excellent way to help a buyer fall in love with your home.


However, there are some common staging mistakes that could cripple your efforts to sell your home. We've compiled a list of a few staging blunders that you'll certainly want to avoid. 

  • Letting the Decor Upstage Your Home
    The idea behind staging is to make your home look inviting and comfortable to interested buyers, so complementary furnishings are key. What you don't want to do is overshadow the potential and beauty of your home by staging it with too many furnishings or over-the-top style. An abundance of furniture or decorative pieces may actually detract from the home's natural appeal and prove to be a distraction to the buyer.
  • Stay True To Scale
    Generally, everyone wants to create the illusion of space, but using furniture that doesn't match the scale of the room will likely result in the opposite effect. A small dining room table in a large dining area will look out of place and may have the buyer questioning whether the space is adequate for their needs.
  • Don't Ever Fake It
    You want your home to look and feel like it is lived in yet well kept. Staging with fake fruit, flowers or even fake electronics takes away from the warmth of the home and leaves it feeling much like a department store display.
  • Surprises In the Closets
    While it may seem tempting to store items you want out of sight into your closets, think twice before shoving your clutter behind closed doors. It's almost a given that prospective buyers will want to see the type and size of storage space, and the last thing you want is for them to open the closets only to find a mess.
  • Closed Doors and Dark Spaces Are Not Welcoming
    Perhaps it's habit to close doors in your home, but you'll want your entire home to seem open and welcoming to buyers. Open the doors and curtains or blinds to let in natural light and create the impression that your home is inviting them to explore.
  • Lived-In Vs. Untidy
    Prospective home buyers typically have a keen eye and may notice virtually everything in your home. While it's acceptable and often recommended that your house feels "lived in", you should be sure that your home is clean and uncluttered before it is shown. Household smells such as pet litter boxes and full trash bins are a turn off to buyers as well.
  • Ignoring the Curb Appeal Factor
    In the staging process, it's easy to focus your attention on the home's interior. Don't overlook the fact that buyers will be taking in your home's exterior and landscaping as well. Before you show your home, take a little time to tidy up outside, making sure that walkways are clear and that your landscaping is in good condition.

Selling your home shouldn't be stressful. Relax and have some fun with staging, letting your home take the spotlight.

May
31

6 Step-by-Step Home Selling Tips

Developing a plan and setting attainable goals are two of the biggest ingredients in the process of selling a home successfully. By understanding what steps you need to take, when you need to take them, and where you can look for help along the way, you'll put yourself in a great position to sell a home quickly while maximizing your return on investment. This step-by-step guide to selling a house is designed to prepare you for the process, and help you achieve your goals.

From "For Sale" to Sold: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your Next Home


Step One – Find the Right Real Estate Agent
The first step on our list just might be the most important, because finding the right real estate agent will make all the steps that follow so much easier to handle. Remember that you definitely don't have to settle for the first agent you meet, unless that agent truly shows that they're the right person to sell your home. Ask around for referrals, interview agents, and find the right agent for your unique needs. 

Step Two – Research the Market and Pick a Price
One of the first things that your agent can help you with is understanding your local real estate market, and picking a price that will help get your home sold. Your agent should offer a comparative market analysis (CMA), which will help you understand what other similar homes in your market are selling for, and set a price that attracts competitive offers.

Step Three – Clean, Clear Out Clutter and Prepare Your Home for Sale
With a great agent on your side and a fair market price chosen for your home, you'll be ready to prepare your home for potential buyers. This is a great opportunity to start the process of moving out, clear clutter, store personal items, and make your home as attractive as possible for buyers. You'll want to clean every inch of your home, from basement to master bedroom. Curb appeal is a big deal too, so make sure that your yard is looking its best.

Step Four – Market Your Home to the Masses
With your home ready for buyers to visit, it's time to start attracting attention and introducing buyers to what you have to offer. Your real estate agent can help you market your home through social media, online listings, and traditional marketing tools. You can also do your part by spreading the word and letting others know that your home is on the market.

Step Five – Prepare for Multiple Offers
By working with an experienced agent, picking the right price, and marketing your home effectively, you'll set yourself up to receive multiple offers on your home. Make sure that you understand exactly what you're looking for from an offer, so you can negotiate the deal that best matches your needs.

Step Six – Negotiate and Close the Deal
All of the work that you do up to this point leads up to the process of negotiating with the buyer and closing the deal. Work closely with your real estate agent to ensure that all of the key legal details are covered and that you're maximizing the value you receive in return for all of the hard work you've done to sell a home.

No matter where you are in the sales process, remember that there's plenty of help available, both from your real estate agent and from other homeowners you trust. Start by following our step-by-step guide, and you'll already be ahead of the game when you decide to sell a home.

May
24

Rookie Mistakes That Can Bench Your Home Sale

Spring and summer are when many people go all-in on plans to sell a home.


The decision to sell a home isn't one to face lightly. Going through with it means undertaking one of the most complex processes you'll ever undertake. Luckily, the help of a real estate expert simplifies things and makes it a lot less stressful.  Still, researching the topic is always a good idea.

The more you know, the easier it'll be to make informed choices throughout the "game." Your real estate pro can offer you expert advice, but the final decision is always up to you.

Let's look at some of the most common "rookie mistakes" that can send your sale to the dugout: 

  1. Choosing the Wrong Agent
    Selecting an agent is one of the most important things you'll do in the course of a sale. Your choice influences everything that follows. How your home is staged, listed, and marketed all come back to your agent – so take time to carefully compare options and credentials.

  2. Hiring a Family Member or Friend
    You may have loved ones in the business, and they're sure to offer you a good deal. Still, it's best to find an impartial professional to help you with something this sensitive. It's all too easy to fall into conflict with someone you know about issues like the agent's commission.

  3. Setting the Wrong Price
    Poor pricing can add eighteen months to your sale timeline. Homeowners bring a long, emotional history to price question. On the other hand, a good agent will use knowledge of the local market and trends to find the ideal price: One that helps you reach your profit and timeline goals.

  4. "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO)
    This may be the single biggest mistake sellers can make. It invites all kinds of problems – from buyers seeing you as a target for rough negotiations to paperwork issues few people are prepared for. It puts legal liability for a whole host of issues directly in your lap, too.

  5. Waiting to Spruce Up the Home
    There are many things you can do, even on a tight budget, to make your property much more appealing to would-be buyers. A quick coat of exterior paint, a new doorknob, and a touch of landscaping supercharge curb appeal. For a bit more, think about adding new kitchen appliances.

  6. Forgetting to Clean and Organize
    Before a home hits the market, it should be thoroughly cleaned. Pressure cleaning the outside is a must. Interior carpets and upholstery should be steam cleaned, especially if you have pets. Start moving items out of the closet and into storage early on to make them seem bigger.

  7. Neglecting to Stage the Home
    When you really want to sell a home fast, staging is your secret weapon. Staging breathes new life into a home even if it has some factors working against it, potentially adding thousands to your selling price. It's more than fresh-baked cookies, though, and is best handled by a pro.

  8. Not Looping In Your Mortgage Lender
    Your current mortgage situation goes a long way toward telling you what your sales goals should be. Only your lender can give you all the details you need about loan payoff and how paying early might affect you. Be wary of early payoff penalties that some lenders require. 

It may sound complicated to sell a home, but it doesn't have to be a hassle. A real estate agent who specializes in homes like yours will be a team player throughout the process. Experience is essential! Now, play ball!

May
10

5 Things to Stash Before Your First Open House

Once you've listed your home for sale and are getting ready for your first open house, there are five things you need to stash away for safety.


Your home is going to be in a vulnerable position as REALTORS® begin showing it to anyone with an interest in buying, so keeping valuables protected is essential. Follow these tips before that first open house.

  1. Put Away All Personal Information
    Before your real estate agent schedules the first open house, take a walk around your home and look for any documents or papers that contain personal information. Make sure you do not have any credit card statements out, phone numbers, and even your college diploma should be taken down. These documents and papers should not be visible to the strangers that will be entering your home. The best solution is to keep these personal items in a locked drawer or cabinet with a key you take with you. 

  2. Remove All Spare Keys
    Many of us have those handy key holders by the door, so we can easily find a key when needed. When you are selling your home, these become possible threats to your security as someone can easily take them during an open house and return later to enter your home illegally. All spare keys should either be with you or locked in a secure box or cabinet to remain out of sight.

  3. Daily Life Items
    Some of the items we use in our daily life may give prospective buyers the wrong idea about your home. If they see earplugs lying by the bedside, they may believe the neighborhood is noisy and hard to sleep in. When potential buyers see fans scattered throughout the house, they will think it becomes too warm, or space heaters will indicate it is hard to heat. These types of items allow prospective buyers to use their imagination as to why you have them, and the ideas they generate are usually not favorable to your house. Before that first open house, you need to tuck these items out of sight.

  4. Remove Any Political Endorsements
    Remove all political endorsements when you are selling your home, even those tucked away on a bookshelf. Buyers have been known to turn away from a potential purchase just because of a simple campaign sign they saw in a yard. 

  5. Medications
    During an open house or when you have a scheduled showing, you should never leave any type of medication in plain sight. Even though your medicine cabinet has a door, this does not make your medication safe. If a prospective buyer has to use the bathroom, this leaves them free to access all your medications. The nightstand next to a bed is also a place looked for by anyone wanting to gain access to your prescriptions. All medications should be locked up in a storage container and concealed from sight.

When you are selling your home, there is no way to avoid opening it up to strangers. It is an essential piece of the selling process you cannot remove. When you are ready to open your home to prospective buyers, make sure you have stashed valuable and important items and have found a way to secure them.

May
3

Questions To Ask An Agent Before Listing Your Home

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, most home sellers hire the first real estate agent they meet.


Now, that might not necessarily be a bad idea if you happen to meet a great agent right out of the gate, but selling your home is a big move, and it's important to choose your listing agent carefully.

To find the best agent for the job, you need to ask questions—and not just "how much will you get for the property?" and "what will the commission be?"  Include these questions during the interview process:

  • What are your credentials?
    A real estate agent should have, at the very least, a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association. But you might want to go a step further and find someone who is a licensed REALTOR® (a member of the National Association of REALTORS®), which requires additional training and a strict code of ethics.

  • Do you specialize in my neighborhood?
    Local expertise is crucial. Your agent needs to have in-depth experience in your local real estate market, including inside knowledge about any upcoming developments that might affect the value of your home.

  • How many homes have you sold in the last year?
    Past performance doesn't always ensure a quick sale, but you'll be able to put your mind at ease knowing that your agent has a track record of success. Ask about how much these home sold for, so you know that your agent has experience selling homes in your price range.

  • How do you determine the listing price?
    The "money talk" is the make-or-break conversation for many home sellers. It's important that your agent can help you land on a listing price that you feel good about, but is also appropriate for the market. An underpriced home doesn't give you the profit you deserve, but an overpriced home could end up languishing on the market. Be sure you understand how the agent arrives at a price for your home.

  • What's your sales plan?
    Your agent should have a plan laid out for marketing your home. Mailers, listing services, open houses, and social media are all important.  

  • What will it cost me to sell my home?
    From broker's commission to closing fees, there are a number of costs that can really add up when you're selling your home. Find out what it will cost, and compare from one agent to the next.

  • Will I be working with you directly?
    There's a balancing act between working with a specific agent (which means plenty of personal attention) and a team of agents (which means a greater pool of resources). Either way, you'll want to know for sure whether you'll be working with one specific agent or a member of the agent's team. It's also important to know how you will be communicating with your agent.

  • How long will it take to sell?
    No agent can say exactly how fast any home will sell. The national average is 65 days, but this depends on a variety of factors.


Your goal should be to an agent with whom you are confident in and comfortable with and who can sell your home quickly and at the right price.

April
26

What is the Difference Between an Appraisal and Comparative Market Analysis

Before you engage in any real estate transaction, you need to know as much as you can about the home's value.


There are two related, but distinct processes that help people pin down the valuation of a property before they move forward: Comparative market analysis and home appraisal. 

Both of these will be performed at different steps in the sale process. Knowing the difference between the two can save you some valuable time.

  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
    A comparative market analysis is typically performed by a real estate agent. Thanks to MLS, real estate pros have the opportunity to compare your home to others that have sold in your general area. Selling prices, time on market, home improvements, and square footage can be used to determine an approximate value of your home.

    When a CMA is completed, it will provide you with a low, medium, and high selling price for your home. It will also give an estimate of the average number of days your home may be on the market.

  • Home Appraisal
    The home appraisal is paid for by the potential home buyers--either out of pocket or as part of the fees they will ultimately finance in their mortgage.

    An appraisal of the home is performed after the buyer applies for a loan with a bank or other lender. Once the buyer submits an offer and requests financing, a licensed appraiser is dispatched.

    All practicing home appraisers must be licensed or certified by the state. Although they visit a property at the request of the bank, appraisers are intended to report neutral observations about each home. The comprehensive report they compile helps to determine the home's fair market value.

    This protects the bank from lending too much money for any given home.

    Though an appraisal will include some basic information on the home's condition, more time is spent on recent information about similar listings and housing market conditions in the neighborhood.

    Minor repairs and renovations performed before an appraisal can help raise the home's assessed value.

CMA Versus Home Appraisal: Final Considerations

Both a comparative market analysis and home appraisal provide valuable insights that help you and your real estate agent move toward a successful sale. Assuming a property spends only a moderate amount of time on the market, each usually needs to be completed only once.

Sometimes, however, a lender might request a new appraisal even if the previous appraisal was only a short time ago. You might even get a CMA before you make a final decision about selling your home. Each situation is different.

An experienced real estate agent can help you by ensuring you're equipped with an accurate CMA. Plus, when the time comes to prepare for an appraisal, they can guide you on the most important steps to raise your home's value in your budget and timeline.

As with anything in real estate, the sooner you get started with selling your home, the smoother the process.

April
19

Kitchens Sell Houses

The kitchen is the heart of a home.


This is where meals are made, families eat together, and all the hustle and bustle of holidays happen. So it may come as no surprise that the kitchen is one of the top places to update when selling your home.

When you update your kitchen, you'll get more of your investment back when you sell the home. On average, sellers get back 70 or 80 percent of the cost of the updates. The updates you choose do matter, though, so here are a few things to focus on.

  1. Paint
    There's no better way to brighten your kitchen than a fresh coat of paint. Stick to light neutral shades to keep the kitchen bright and leave room for buyers to envision their own color schemes and decor. Think beyond white to shades of cream, beige, and tan. If your cabinets are in good condition, a few coats of paint and a change of hardware can give them a whole new look.

  2. Cabinetry
    Nothing makes a kitchen look dated faster than old cabinetry. If the cabinets aren't in good enough condition to be repainted, you can give them a major facelift by refacing. Completely new cabinetry should be a last resort, as the added expense may not be reflected in the returns.

  3. Appliances
    One of the top things to update when selling your home is your kitchen appliances. A full set of new, matching appliances is a strong selling point in any home. Opt for something neutral--stainless steel is always popular with buyers. Energy Star appliances can turn some heads, especially with younger buyers, who tend to be more energy conscious. 

  4. Granite
    Granite is another kitchen upgrade that you're likely to see a high return on when selling your home. Buyers love seeing granite countertops. You don't necessarily need to upgrade with the most expensive options.  You can always opt for something that looks similar to granite, like quartz with a granite pattern. 

  5. Flooring
    Think of your kitchen's floor as setting the stage for impressing potential buyers. Drab or dated flooring can detract from any other updates you might make in the kitchen. Budget permitting, install high-quality flooring that will turn people's heads, like attractive, high-quality tile. Want to make your kitchen look bigger? Set the tile on the diagonal to create a space-stretching optical illusion. Hardwood is another favorite with buyers, even in kitchens.  If you have hardwood underneath your linoleum, consider uncovering it and having it refinished.

Make a Strong Impression

The kitchen is possibly your best chance to impress potential buyers, not to mention one of the few areas of your home where your investment gets the biggest return. Even so, you'll want to do it right for maximum impact. While updating these five areas, make sure you're staying true to your home's character, architecture, and neighborhood. If you need help deciding what updates to make, your real estate agent can help guide your decisions.

 

April
12

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

When you form a relationship with a real estate professional, you hope for a perfect match.


Selling your home is like a short-term romance. It requires faith in the person you choose. You depend on your REALTOR® for meaningful communication and timely feedback. You want to sell your home, so you must trust them because they're your connection to achieving your goal.


The REALTOR® you choose is critical to your success in selling your home. Follow this guide on "Finding the Right Real Estate Agent," to help you through the selection process.

Start with a List
If you have no idea how to find the right real estate professional, start with a list.

  • Ask friends, relatives, and coworkers for referrals.
  • Check out "For Sale" signs in your neighborhood.
  • Look through member registries for your church, social club, PTA, or other organizations.

Review Websites
Once you have a list of REALTORS®, search for their company websites. Some businesses use Facebook for easier client interaction, so search there too. Check out an agent's listings and sales, open houses, and marketing efforts. Look for a listing of credentials, real estate specialties, and client comments.

Undercover Observation
Compile a list of open houses from online research or open house signs in neighborhoods where you'd like to live. Simply show up with all the other guests and sign in. The person hosting the open house is usually the seller's agent, so as you walk through the home, check them out as well.

  • Are they knowledgeable?
  • Do they look and sound professional?
  • How does he or she respond to inquiries about the home?
  • What do your gut instincts tell you about working closely with this person?

You can learn a lot through undercover observation but ask a few questions as well. If you're impressed, ask for a business card.

Conduct Interviews
Treat a realtor interview as though you're the employer looking for the best candidate for the job. That's essentially what you'll be doing. Make sure the agent understands that it's an information-only meeting. Come prepared to ask the questions you couldn't answer from checking out a website or visiting an open house.

  • How long have you been selling real estate?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What homes have you sold in the area?
  • May I contact your prior clients?
  • What's your commission?
  • What services do you provide?
  • What is your marketing plan?

Check Credentials
Ask about credentials, licenses, and designations but don't waste your interview time discussing them. You should focus on marketing, negotiation, and closing experience. In the end, these are the biggest factors in getting your home sold.

You can usually verify a realtor's license status through a state's online licensing portal. Realtor and broker designations are related to education and ethics.

  • Realtor or Real Estate Salesperson: passed a license examination, is qualified to sell real estate.
  • REALTOR®: member of National Association of REALTORS® and committed to education and ethical standards
  • Broker or Real Estate Associate Broker: earned the broker's designation and broker's license through education and testing.

NAR offers education and training for other designations and certifications. You can find criteria for Accredited Buyer's Representative, Certified Residential Specialist, and other designations at NAR.com.

It's Worth the Effort

Making a perfect match with a real estate professional requires time and patience, but it's worth it. When you choose the right person, it can make a big difference in selling your home quickly, professionally, and for the price you want.

April
5

The Ultimate To-Do List for Home Sellers

Selling your home involves a lot of details--some you probably haven't even thought about. There are a few main areas most of these fall under and having a list can help you plan and prepare effectively.

The Planning Stages

You've made the decision to sell your home, now it's time to work out all the details.

  • Determine your timeline. How fast do you need to sell? Do you need to find another home first? How much time will you need to prepare your home?
  • Make a list of all repair or upgrade projects. Big and small inside and outside. Estimate completion time and cost.
  • Have an idea about pricing. You probably don't want to decide on the final figure without talking to your agent first, but do some research and think about a range that takes into account any major repairs or upgrades.

 

Work on Curb Appeal

The first thing buyers notice about your house is the outside, so start here. Walk toward the street and look at your house to see what kind of first impression buyers are getting. What can be improved? 

  • Remove clutter. Branches and debris, trash cans, bikes, tools, and toys should all be removed or put away.
  • Mow and edge the lawn.
  • Trim trees and shrubs. Make sure they aren't blocking windows or the view of the house.
  • Add flowers or plants and mulch.
  • Repair or add a walkway.
  • Paint. You may not need to paint the entire house. A fresh coat or color change on the trim, shutters, front door or garage door may be enough.
  • Update a curbside mailbox.
  • Replace, relocate or repaint house numbers.
  • Repair, replace or add exterior lighting.
  • Add or refresh porch furniture.

Getting the Inside Ready

You'll want the inside of your home to look just as amazing as the outside. Consider hiring a professional home stager. Having someone who doesn't have an emotional attachment to anything in the home can be helpful.

Here are some other things you can do.

  • Declutter. Dispose of, donate or store unnecessary items. Remember buyers will look everywhere. The less you have to hide or reorganize the better. 
  • Remove your personal touches. Flashy décor and artwork, family photos, and collections should be removed. It's hard for buyers to envision themselves in the home when your belongings are visible.
  • Detail clean. Wash walls and baseboards and molding to remove scuff marks and fingerprints. Clean inside cabinets, corners, and window tracks. Every house has those areas that get passed over. Now is the time to make sure they're clean.
  • Paint. Freshening up the color or repainting in a neutral color can give your home wider appeal.
  • Make small repairs. Potential buyers see burned-out light bulbs, loose handles and doorknobs, and dripping faucets and wonder what else may have been neglected.
  • Take a sniff. Weird smells are a major turn off. Clean, sanitize or get rid of the source.
  • Lock up or relocate valuables.
  • Wash windows.
  • Redo caulk in the bathroom and clean grout.  

Meet with Your Real Estate Agent

It's a good idea to use a real estate agent when selling your home. An agent will list your home, publicize it, and schedule tours. They can also advise you on pricing. 

There are a lot of details involved in selling your home. Being well organized and planning ahead can save time and help you get the price you're looking for.

March
29

You Just Might Have Seller's Remorse

No matter how much you're looking forward to turning over your house keys to a new owner, selling your home can lead to deep soul-searching.

Did I get a good price? Will the new owners love my home the way I do? Did I really want to sell in the first place? If you're asking yourself these questions, you just might have a case of seller's remorse.

When you walk away from a place you love, it can feel like abandoning an old friend. Fortunately, the emotional attachments will likely fade with time. The financial regrets that settle in after closing can be even more difficult, but you'll have to let them go as well. Those wordy closing documents you signed are contracts. They're difficult to break no matter how much remorse you feel.

The best time to manage seller's remorse is before you put your home on the market. Begin the process by asking yourself these questions:

Am I listing for the right reason?
Empty nest? Divorce? Financial gain? Impulse? Exactly why are you selling your home? If you received a big job offer with a deadline to relocate to a new city, selling your home can feel like lifting a weight off your shoulders. If you list your home because Uncle Bob said you could make a ton of money, you might not realize it's a bad idea until the deal is done. 

Only you can decide if selling your home is the right decision for you. 

Am I listing for the right price?
Pricing your home can be tricky. It's not an exact science, but your REALTOR® can help. Review recent home sales and research comparables--homes similar to yours in similar neighborhoods. Also, when calculating the potential net return on your sale, don't ignore these and other before-sale and after-sale costs.

  • Home repairs and upgrades
  • Cleaning and landscaping
  • Staging and photography
  • Commissions
  • Relocation costs

Your price should include enough wiggle room to negotiate with a serious buyer. If your price is too high, you'll attract few potential buyers. If you price your home too low, you may lose money on the deal. That's a sure trigger for seller's remorse.

Have I found my next home?
Whatever the cause of your seller's remorse, it will likely fade with time. The healing process may take longer to begin if you sign the closing documents on your old home but don't have a new home to go to.

Sellers do that sometimes when a buyer's purchase is contingent on a quick closing. You can do it too. But if you don't have a backup plan, the sensation of temporary "homelessness" can leave you with an acute case of remorse. It's important to think before you list:

  • Find a home before you put your home on the market.
  • Consider what you'll do if your home sells quickly.
  • Locate movers and storage facilities that require little notice.
  • Research temporary housing options.
  • Offer the buyer incentives in exchange for a delayed closing.

Seller's remorse happens
The sense of having made the wrong choice can happen any time you make a decision with long-range consequences. That's why it's important to work with a real estate professional when you decide to sell your home. Your REALTOR® can work with you from pre-listing through closing. You'll gain confidence in the home-selling process and that will minimize your chances of succumbing to seller's remorse.

March
22

5 Home Staging Mistakes You Don't Even Know You Are Making

When a potential buyer visits your home, you want them to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb.


Staging your home for open houses is an important step in the selling process because you want buyers to imagine what their life would be like if they lived there. Working with an experienced real estate agent is a great way to learn what it takes to successfully stage a home. Today, we're going to take a look at five things you definitely don't want to do when staging your home. 

  1. Expecting Hidden Messes to Remain Hidden
    If you're like most homeowners, you may have some hidden dirt or grime in corners of your home that don't get much traffic. It's important to make sure that every corner of your house is squeaky clean, even if it means moving large furniture or clearing out everything in a closet to reach the floor. Potential buyers will look at every corner of your home to gauge how well you've taken care of places people don't normally see.

  2. What's That Smell?
    Cleaning up the spaces that people can see is a great start when selling a house, but you'll also want to make sure that they don't smell anything unpleasant when they walk through the door. If you've got pet odors or any other smell that might be unpleasant for buyers, now is the time to track down the source and take care of the problem.

  3. Personal Items in Plain View
    Throughout the list, you'll notice a consistent theme of allowing buyers to imagine their lives in your home, and that's no accident. In fact, it's one of the key steps in attracting a buyer when you're selling your home. Leaving personal items around the house (like photos and personal mementos) may make it more difficult for those buyers to imagine what their life would be like in the home. Be sure to pack up personal items before visitors arrive, and remember that you'll be able to display them again in your new home.

  4. Clutter, Clutter Everywhere
    Removing personal items is a way to provide a blank slate for anyone who visits your open house, but personal items aren't the only thing you'll need to take care of before your guests arrive. A disorganized, cluttered home is definitely not what buyers want to see, so it's crucial to clear out any clutter before your open house. Just as with removing personal items, you can treat clearing clutter as an opportunity to start packing and getting a head start on moving into your new home.

  5. Forgetting the Front Yard
    Or the backyard, for that matter! Curb appeal is selling a house, so make sure that your yard is clean, your landscaping is well taken care of, and the entrance to your home is looking its absolute best. If you have outdoor space in your backyard, make sure that's looking great too.

By avoiding the most common mistakes for staging an open house, you'll be ready to present your home to potential buyers in its best possible light. The big key is keeping your home clean and clutter-free so that every buyer who visits can imagine their own life there.

March
1

6 Tips for a Stress-Free Home Closing

Whether you're buying or selling a home, closing day can be a stressful part of the process. The closing day is when everything related to your real estate transaction becomes finalized. Luckily, closing often goes smoothly--especially when you have a great real estate agent working with you throughout the process.

Once the sale is final, there's often still a few things you need to do. None of these steps are as big or as complex as what you've already been through but making sure they are taken care of will go a long way toward protecting you from last-minute hiccups.

Let's review some of the most important considerations you shouldn't forget: 

  1. Take Utilities Out of Your Name – Fast!
    Remove your name from all utilities as soon as possible after closing. Contact every utility and service provider, preferably on the day closing takes place. It could be much more difficult to get this done once you move out. Don't forget about insurance: You may be eligible for a refund of any prepaid premium on your old homeowner's policy.
  2. Change Your Address
    Change your address with the post office about two to four weeks before your closing date. If you forget or decide to wait until things are really final, don't forget you can file your change of address with the USPS online. The IRS also offers an address change procedure. Check-in with your local DMV to ensure your license will have the correct address, too.
  3. Make Moving Out Easier
    Take a close look at any moving company estimate, especially before a long-distance move. Most movers will only insure what they pack themselves, so consider supplemental insurance for anything else. Be present during packing to ensure a higher quality of service. Excessive packing material can raise the weight of your items, leading to heftier charges.
  4. Double-Check Your Settlement
    Even in a detail-oriented situation like closing on a home, mistakes do happen. To be certain everything is accurate, get out a copy of your closing disclosure and compare it to your loan estimate. You might save hundreds or even more if you happen to spot a discrepancy. The best time to do this is right away, so you can report any problems within 24 hours of the closing day.
  5. Your Closing Documentation
    The worst-case scenario is this: A tiny typo leads to a situation where mortgages that should be paid off aren't. Reread all closing docs to ensure mortgages are fully paid and payoff amounts are correct. Also, keep your eyes peeled for any additional fees added by the title company. As closing approaches, fees become easier to estimate and should be disclosed well in advance.
  6. Empty the Escrow Account
    Don't forget: Unused funds that you placed in escrow belong to you. There are two situations where this can cause headaches. More commonly, the title company fails to release escrow-held funds in a timely manner so you can access them. Occasionally, sellers make the mistake of leaving sales proceeds in a new escrow account, leading to complications down the line.

The closing day is a huge milestone for anyone – it marks true success in selling your home. To maximize your profits and minimize frustration, plan on two extra days to manage these last six issues. You'll be glad you did!

March
8

8 Tips for Ousting Awful Pet Smells from Your Home

If you have a pet, one of the first things to do before showing your home is tackle any powerful pet odors.


Selling your home is easier if prospective buyers get a positive impression from the beginning, and that starts with smell.

Let's look at some effective methods for reducing pet odors.

  1. Steam Clean
    A powerful, easy, but somewhat pricey approach is to steam clean the carpets as soon as you get started selling your home. This will help you eliminate odors and will also get to "deep down" stains in the flooring, whether they come from pets or anything else.

  2. Add An Air Purifier
    A standalone air purifier can significantly reduce the concentration of various allergens in the air. This helps to resolve pet odors and cuts down on other irritants that could bother buyers. This is a great solution if you still have weeks to go in the sale and your pet will be around.

  3. Change Your Air Filters
    No matter where you live or how often you use it, your residential HVAC system probably has air filters. Depending on the style, you may need to clean these regularly or even replace them. This raises air quality throughout the house and keeps pet odors on the down low.

  4. Perform a Full Vacuuming Weekly
    At the end of every week while selling your home, vacuum all furniture your pets have been on thoroughly. This includes removing cushions, slipcovers, and the like to get down to the bottom of everything. Don't forget drapes and the underside of couches, where pet hair can gather!

  5. Brush Your Pet Regularly
    Brushing your pet is a fun and natural approach to minimize shedding. If you have a long-haired dog or cat, it might seem like a lot comes out – but there'll be much less, overall, throughout the next week. That helps control smells and makes most pets a lot happier, too.

  6. Use Vinegar as a Secret Weapon
    Vinegar is an amazing natural cleaner that can be even more effective than some purpose-mixed cleaning chemicals. You can spray it onto many types of flooring and allow it to evaporate over time to knock out pet musk. This helps you get the drop on odors early while selling your home.

  7. Paint the Walls
    Painting is always a smart move when selling your home because it refreshes the whole appearance of any room. If you've got drywall, plaster, or woodwork that absorbs pet odors, it may also be one of your best options for cleaning out potent pet smells.

  8. When in Doubt, Use Potpourri
    Covering up pet odors might seem like cheating, but in the long run, it's a good adjunct to your cleaning campaign. Giving buyers a nose full of something pleasant will make them happier and help chase off any lingering odors. Just make sure that "fresh" scent isn't too strong!

When you've been living with a beloved pet (or pets!) for a while, it's not always easy to pick up on their natural aroma. Buyers will be much more attuned to it than pet owners, so it's important to go a step further than you might think is necessary.

If you're not sure, invite a friend or family member over to check things out. They'll be able to tell you if they can detect Fido or Fluffy, and might even point out areas where the scent is stronger. The hard work will be worth it after selling your house for a premium price!

March
15

Do You Retire in Place or Move?

Retirement brings with it an unimaginable sense of freedom. You're no longer tied to school districts, commuter schedules, or alarm clocks. When you release longstanding duties and commitments, you can change your lifestyle and even your location. You can move to a new neighborhood, a new city, or even a new country. Or you can stay right where you are.

Should you go or should you stay? That's a big question that only you can answer. Here are some of the things you should consider before making your decision.

  • Housing that meets your physical needs
    It's easier to age in place when your home meets the comfort, convenience, and safety standards you require. Even if your home was built to comply with these "universal design" standards, you may wish to relocate for other reasons.

    Your home may be too big or small. As you age, you may be incapable of performing routine home maintenance. If you can't take care of your daily needs, you may require an assisted living facility or a senior community with essential services nearby.
  • A home you can afford
    If you choose to buy a new home, you'll want it to be affordable now and as you age. Your affordability calculations should consider your mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance and other home expenses. They should also anticipate future income, medical expenses and the cost of living in your new location.

    As a retiring senior, your home is likely mortgage free with enough equity to increase your home buying options. Depending on your decision to upgrade, downgrade, or relocate, selling your home may give you all the money you need for a new home with some cash leftover to add to your retirement fund.
  • Access to healthcare facilities
    As you age, hospitals, doctors, and healthcare facilities become more important. Illnesses and disabilities increase as you age. When you anticipate relocating, you should make sure the community you choose provides a strong network of medical professionals.
  • A strong support system
    An AARP study determined that 43 percent of seniors 70 and older don't believe they'll be able to live independently. As a senior, you still have home living options that don't require you to abandon your independence altogether.

    You can upgrade your home for aging in place and rely on friends and homecare professionals to help you. You can buy a home closer to family members or purchase a home or condo in a planned senior community with access to the services you need.
  • Transportation independence
    Transportation is an important factor in your retirement housing decision. As a suburban or rural resident, you probably rely on driving your car. If an unexpected disability or illness forces you to stop driving, you probably won't want to call a family member every time you leave home. You must live where you'll have access to private cars, buses, van services, dial-a-ride, and other transportation services.
  • Livability index
    Knowing your city's livability may help you decide whether to go or stay. AARP's Livability Index page provides zip code based ratings that include neighborhood, environmental, transportation and other community factors critical to retirement living.
  • A new lifestyle
    Your retirement move doesn't have to be for practical reasons. If you live in the north you might want a warmer climate. You may want a chalet in the mountains or a condo near a golf or tennis club. If you've waited all your life for a new lifestyle and you can find a way to make it happen, that's one of the best reasons in the world to go instead of staying.
February
15

The Price is Right ... Until It's Not

Of all the choices you have to make when it's time to sell your house, none are more important than setting the right asking price.


Unfortunately, zeroing in on that magic number can be tricky. 


Set the price too high, and your home could languish on the market for months, or worse—maybe not sell at all. Set the price too low, and you could be cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars. Here's what you need to know about setting the perfect price for your home. 

  1. Forget What You Paid for Your Home
    It's easy to recall what you paid for your home and think of that number as a rule by which to measure your asking price. But taking the price you paid and adding a little extra doesn't always add up to the right number. Some homes appreciate in value more than might be expected, and some appreciate less. The best thing you can do is to not even think about what your home was with when you bought it. 

  2. Look at Other Homes in Your Area
    Consider what other homes on your street, and in the surrounding neighborhood, typically sell for. If there are any other homes on the market now, that's a good starting point, but also look at the sale prices of homes similar to yours in the past months and even years to gain an understanding of market values in your neck of the woods. 

  3. Be Unemotional
    Letting go of a place that has been your home for many years is difficult, and you might be tempted to overestimate the financial value of your home based on what it's worth to you on an emotional level. But for better or worse, you can't put a price tag on memories, so it's best to approach pricing your home with as little emotional attachment as possible. 

  4. Leave Room for Negotiation
    Buyers love to negotiate, and that's something you should factor into your pricing. It pays to price your home with just enough wiggle room that a buyer can "talk you down" to a price that's fair to both of you. This can be tricky, as you can overshoot and end up with a high price that buyers balk at. That said, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start out by asking a rock-bottom price.

  5. Keep Online Shoppers in Mind
    Once you've settled on a ballpark price range, you can fine-tune the number. This is when it pays to consider how your home will be listed on the internet. Many potential buyers browse online listings by price range. That means that if they search for homes in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range, for example, and your home is listed at $305,000, they won't even see it. 

  6. Talk With Your Real Estate Agent
    A real estate agent's experience can be invaluable when it comes to setting the price for your home. A good agent has in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market and years of experience selling homes in your area. Ask your agent to run a comparative market analysis to zero in on the right asking price. 

As with so many things, first impressions are everything when it comes to selling a house. The longer your home stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell. Setting the right price is the key to selling your home quickly, and to make sure you get the amount for it that you deserve. 

January
4

Are You The Reason Your Home Isn't Selling

If you thought your home would sell quickly, but you haven't had a single offer so far, could you be the reason?

That's a hard reality to consider, but it's important if you're serious about selling your home. You must examine everything you did or did not do before and after your listing went live. Sometimes a single change can make a big difference.

When you've lived in your home for a long time, it's easy to miss conditions that might be obvious to a home buyer. That's why it's important to seek other opinions when re-evaluating your home. Sometimes you simply need a second pair of unbiased eyes to pinpoint obvious issues. Other times you may require professional input. Use this list of questions as a guide.  

Did you price your home unrealistically?
Selling price is a primary consideration for most home buyers. If your asking price is unreasonably high, buyers may just move on to the next listing. You can still recover from high pricing expectations.

  • Adjust your asking price. 
  • Be more flexible in negotiating a deal. 

Is your home ready for the market? 
If your home lacks the curb appeal that draws buyers to your door, do something. When you're selling your home, do whatever you must to make it a home buyer's magnet.

  • Re-Landscape: Have a professional redo your DIY landscaping.
  • Repair: Fix exterior and interior areas in need of attention.
  • Repaint: Brighten interior rooms with lighter walls.
  • Declutter: Remove unnecessary stuff for a less junky look.
  • De-personalize: Remove personal photos, artwork, and mementos so homebuyers can visualize themselves in your home.
  • Restage: Consider hiring a professional to rework your interior spaces.  

Is your home not quite clean enough?
When you're giving home buyers free rein, they'll find whatever you missed in your spotless home. Before putting your home on the market, have a professional do a deep cleaning. It will cost you, but they will eliminate problems you might not have noticed.

  • Lingering odors: You might be "nose blind" to smells like mildew, pets, and garbage.
  • Dust: Soil accumulates on surfaces high and low.
  • Windows: Dirty windows keep natural light from entering.   
  • Pet problems: Little Fluffy's litter scatterings and carpet stains may disgust a potential buyer.

 

Are your listing photos a turn-off?
Buyers respond to great photos. If your home has curb appeal, beautiful landscaping, and bright spacious interiors, your listing photos must show it. It's worth the cost to have them done professionally.

Do you have bad Open House etiquette?
If you've scheduled only a few private showings and had no feedback from your open houses, eliminate yourself as a cause.

  • Be available: Say yes to all private showings, even on short notice. Tidy up, leave, and let your real estate agent handle it.
  • Open up your home: Establish an Open House schedule. Publicize your events to buyers outside your neighborhood.
  • Ge out!: With you hovering and watching, potential buyers will feel more like trespassers than future owners.  

Your Real Estate Agent Matters
Most of your problems wouldn't be problems if you'd vetted your real estate professional. When you're selling your home, you need a real estate agent who will work with you throughout the process.

  • Inspect your home
  • Make recommendations
  • Recommend stagers and photographers
  • List your home only when it's ready
  • Market traditionally and on social media
  • Work with buyers and their representatives
  • Execute bid, buy, and closing documents

While no real estate agent can make magic happen, a professional will work hard to minimize problems so you can sell your home.

January
25

Paint Colors That Will Sell Your Home

In your home, YOUR color choices are the only ones that matter... until it's time to sell it.


You can paint your dining room red for a morning energy boost. You can redo your bathroom with a white-on-white color scheme for a spa-like feel. As a homeowner, you can decorate with colors that match your personal style. But when it comes to selling your home, the wrong color can affect how much a buyer is willing to pay for your home.

Your red walls, for example, could be a big turn off for potential home buyers. Buyers don't like colorless white bathrooms either. That's what a recent Zillow Paint Color Study found after researching 32,000 photos of sold homes. They also found that color has the power to increase or decrease your home's sale price.

Color matters, so we tweaked our color ideas with Zillow stats to provide guidance for picking the perfect color when selling your home.

  • White
    White is the perfect color choice when you want a home exterior with universal appeal. Shades of white offer a pure, neutral backdrop that lets your home's architecture grab a buyer's attention. A white exterior can make a home appear larger, cleaner, brighter, and more attractive.

    Be cautious when choosing white for indoor spaces. White bathrooms were the single largest negative variable in residential sale outcomes. Homes with white bathrooms sold for $4,035 less than anticipated. Also, eggshell, off-white, and other white wall tones are the color of choice for apartment interiors. They may remind potential buyers of the renter's lifestyle they're trying to leave behind.

  • Blue
    Blue is primary and basic. As a child, whether you had the eight crayon pack or the 64, blue was a favorite. Everyone has a long history with the color blue. Perhaps that's why blue in its various shades is relaxing and soothing. When you're selling your home, blue in any room--except the living room--encourages buyers to pay more. 

    Bathroom: Blue bathrooms ranging from light powder blue to periwinkle increased home sale prices by an average of $5,440.
    Bedrooms: Soothing blues, from light cerulean to cadet, are perfect for bedrooms where peace and relaxation is a must. Homes with blue bedrooms brought $1,856 more than anticipated.
    Dining Room: Blue is also a favorite in the dining room. Shades of slate blue, pale gray-blue, navy blue and others increased home prices by an average of $1,926.
    Kitchen: Light blue and soft blue-gray increase average kitchen prices.
    Front Door: Buyers find blue front doors so inviting they increased home prices by an average of $1,514.

  • Greige
    So you've never heard of greige? That's what you get when you blend shades of gray and beige. Greige makes a lasting impression on home buyers. Home exteriors painted in this hybrid color sold for $3,469 more than similar homes with brown-dominant shades, such as medium brown or stucco.

  • Brown
    Shades of brown are earthy and warm. They will always be popular with some buyers, but be careful where you use them. Brown can be a turn off when used in the wrong place.

    Living Rooms: Brown-toned colors like light beige, pale taupe, and oatmeal increased home sale prices by $1,809.
    Exteriors: Homes exteriors painted medium brown, taupe, or stucco sold for an average of $1,970 less than anticipated.


Color Uh-Ohs 
Even if you used these colors only sparingly, they can cause problems. 

  • Yellow: Straw yellow to marigold in kitchens reduced home prices by an average of $820.
  • Pink: Light pinks to antique rose, customarily in children's rooms, reduced home prices an average of $208.

 

December
14

Selling Your Green Home

Being an environmentally conscious homeowner takes effort, and the cost of creating a green, sustainable home can be significant.


So, what do you do when it's time to sell your current green home and find a new one? The good news is that green homes are popular, and all of those energy efficient upgrades can add real value when it's time to sell. You'll find environmentally conscious shoppers in every market, especially if you know how to market your green home effectively. Here are our tips to help you find the right buyer so you can sell your green home quickly.

  • Tips for Marketing and Selling Your Green Home
    Selling a green home starts with understanding your target audience, and as a green homeowner, you already have a good idea of what people are looking for in a green home. Efficiency and sustainability are the names of the game, whether you're buying or selling a green home. Putting in the effort to find a green buyer is worth it because green homes often sell for more than homes without eco-friendly upgrades.

  • List Your Home on a Green MLS
    MLS stands for multiple listing services, and it's the place where your home will be listed online so interested shoppers can take a look. In some regions, you'll be able to list your home on a green MLS, which allows you to showcase the green features of your home to interested buyers. If there is a green MLS in your area, make sure that your real estate agent is using it. If not, just make sure your listings include as much information as possible on the perks of your green home.

  • Showcase the Value of Going Green
    Green homes are very popular, but not every buyer will immediately understand the value of going green. Do your best to help them understand by highlighting the value added by green features, including saving on energy costs, increasing energy efficiency in the home, improving sustainability, and benefiting local ecosystems. Think about what makes you love your green home, and do your best to convey that to potential buyers.

  • Expand Your Audience
    Not every buyer starts out shopping for a green home, but the benefits of owning a green home will actually appeal to a wide range of buyers – even if they don't realize it quite yet. By showcasing the value of going green in tangible ways, you can expand your target audience to people who are looking to save on energy costs and those who understand that an eco-friendly home is a great financial investment for the future.

Now is a great time to sell a green home, because there are so many buyers out there looking for green, sustainable features. Finding the right real estate agent, marketing your home in the right places, and understanding what green home buyers are looking for will make it so much easier to find the right buyer for your green home.

December
21

Proof Positive You Need to Declutter Before Selling

As you prepare to sell your home, you are doing everything possible to make it shine. Fresh paint is on the walls, the carpets are newly shampooed and every window is sparkling. Yet, if you have failed to declutter your space before you started all of this work, you may still struggle to find an interested buyer. Here's what you need to know about decluttering as you prepare to sell your home.

Why Do You Need to Declutter?

Decluttering is not easy, but it is a necessity for a successful home sale. When you have decluttered your home, you will find that it's much easier to keep it neat and tidy. There's just less of  "stuff" to move and clean around. This makes getting ready for a showing simpler. 

Decluttering makes your house seem larger making it more appealing to potential buyers. Also, if you declutter fully, which means moving your stored items out of the house, your home will suddenly seem as if it has ample storage. This is critical to encouraging potential buyers to take another look, so take the time to do it.

When your home is decluttered and your personal mementos have been removed, buyers are able to better picture their own belongings in the house. This is helpful because it makes them feel "at home" in your home, enticing them to put in an offer.

Finally, decluttering will lead to a faster sale, and maybe even a higher price. While no one can fully predict what will make a potential buyer say "yes," a home that is ready to move in to with minimal work is almost always going to sell faster than one that is jam-packed with the previous owner's belongings. Even if you have outgrown your home, it shouldn't look like you have when a potential buyer comes through.

How to Do It

Plain and simple--while decluttering is a big part of preparing a home for sale, it is rarely an easy thing to do. Your value your belongings, and ridding yourself of them can be a difficult process. 

First, break down the job by room, starting with the first room a seller will see when entering the front door, and ending with the bedrooms. This will allow the main living areas to be ready for showings, even if the bedrooms are not quite there, so you may be able to list the home before you are done with this process.

As you declutter a room, have bins labeled "keep," "storage," "donation," and "trash." Pick up each item and put it in one of the bins. Then, put the "keep" items back in the room, ensuring that you aren't keeping too many things. Remember to put the highly personal items, like your family photos or kids' artwork in the "storage" bin.

As you tackle this job, work in small amounts of time. Give each task 20 minutes, then do something else for a while. Otherwise, you will get overwhelmed.

Don't forget about seasonal items. Only keep the items you need for the current season. You can pack away and store seasonal clothing, decor and other items to free up space in your home.

Finally, remember that this is temporary. When you move into your new home, you can pull those items out of storage and start enjoying them again! By spending a little bit of time decluttering now, you will sell your home much faster and for a higher price. 

November
30

5 Decluttering Hacks to Get Your Home Buyer-Ready

If you're thinking about selling your home, the next few months may be a great time to do it.

Selling a house requires presenting it in the best possible light. For some, that means spending time, money and effort on cleanup and repairs. For others, the project starts at decluttering. Don't cringe... decluttering your home doesn't have to be a headache. These cleaning hacks will get you well on your way to a home that anyone would be happy to call their own.

  1. Work on one room at a time. If you try to clean your entire house at once, you're likely to wind up feeling overwhelmed and defeated. It's much better to break it up into manageable chunks. Tackle one room per day until your whole house sparkles. If you don't have time to polish every square inch to a high shine, focus the bulk of your efforts on the most important areas – kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and entryways. 
  2. Focus on horizontal surfaces. One shortcut to making your home immediately feel less cluttered is to zero in on horizontal surfaces like counters, shelves, tabletops, kitchen islands, mantels, and dresser tops. Clear off these surfaces, leaving only a few basic decorative items. You'll be amazed at how much more open your house feels after performing this one simple trick. 
  3. Look with a buyer's eye. It's hard to emotionally disconnect yourself from a place that has been home to you for years, but it's important to do so. Look at your house dispassionately, and ask yourself, as a potential buyer, what do you see? Chances are, you'll notice little things to clean or fix that had gone unnoticed for ages but would jump right out at someone who had never been in your house before. 
  4. Clear out personal items. Sellers often leave lots of family photos and other personal items on display, with the idea that they make the place look more lived-in and homey. Unfortunately, that's not usually a good tactic. Your house should appear to the buyer as a blank slate for their future life. Hard as it may be to pack up all your personal belongings, remember that the buyer should be able to envision their family photos on the walls, and their kids' drawings on the refrigerator, not yours. 
  5. Don't forget the yard. The first thing a potential buyer sees isn't your clean kitchen or your perfectly organized entryway. It's your front yard. So it pays to make sure the outside portion of your house is just as thoroughly decluttered as the inside. Make sure the porch is clear, put kids' toys away, and stow all your garden tools in the garage. A clean front yard makes a lasting first impression. 

When the time comes to sell your house, remember that presentation counts. Making repairs and improvements can definitely increase your home's resale value, but these simple decluttering tricks will go a long way toward presenting your home in the best way possible.

December
7

5 Things You Should Do Once Your Home is on the Market

It took a lot of dedicated effort to get your home on the market. It would be nice if you could just sit back and wait for the offers to roll in. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

Once your home is on the market, your REALTOR® will work hard to complete the sale but you'll have to do your part to keep things moving forward. Here are five things you can do to help keep your marketing efforts on track.

  1. Never say no to a showing
    When you're too tired to handle a last-minute showing, do it anyway. Home showings are a crucial part of the home-selling process. While they don't guarantee a sale, they do bring potential buyers to your door. When a home buyer decides to view your home it means that your listing made it through their initial process of elimination.

    Of course, no one can predict the outcome of a showing. The right buyer might walk in the door as soon as you list your property or your sale could require multiple showings. Opening your house on demand is the best way to find out.

  2. Keep your home white-glove clean
    When you open up your home for a showing, potential buyers inspect and evaluate areas of your home you might not even think about. They will notice dirty tile grout and remember dusty dining room corners, and these things could cost you a sale.

    It's a good idea to pay a service to do your initial cleaning as well as regularly scheduled cleanings while your home is on the market. If you enjoy doing your own cleaning, you'll still have plenty to do. You'll need to give your home a once-over before each showing or open house and you'll want to clean up afterward.

  3. Stay pet-odor vigilant
    If you have a cat, dog, or other indoor pet your realtor probably discussed odor issues early in your marketing process. You likely worked hard to rid your home of telltale odors before you had your first showing. That's great, but if your pets are still in your home, odors will be a recurring problem.

    If you've lived with pet odors for years, your nose might be insensitive to smells that are obvious to everyone else. It's important to stay vigilant.

    • Clean pet living areas regularly.
    • Use a quality pet deodorizer spray.
    • Clean up pet hair daily.
    • Remove pets, litter boxes, bowls, etc. from the premises during a showing.
    • Burn a scented candle before a showing to disguise odors.

  4. Keep working on your curb appeal
    If you worked hard to give your home a look that brings buyers to your door, don't forget to keep it fresh. Getting the right curb appeal is worth the time and effort. If your home is on the market for more than a few months, you'll need to refresh the look.

    • Hire a landscaper to maintain your yard.
    • Keep your gutters clean.
    • Wash dirt and mud from walkway, driveways, and porches.
    • Check for new problems or issues you might not have noticed before.

  5. Create a pleasant atmosphere
    When potential buyers visit your home, give them an atmosphere that says, "Welcome home." Remove throw rugs and other trip hazards. Open bedroom and bathroom doors. Brighten rooms with natural and artificial light by turning on lamps and opening up curtains, drapes, and blinds.

    Adjust your climate control system to a pleasant temperature. Burn a lightly scented candle just before a scheduled showing, but don't forget to blow it out before you leave.
February
1

10 Easy DIYs To Do Before Selling Your Home

One of the best parts of homeownership is the great do-it-yourself projects you can enjoy.


When it comes time to sell your home, it's even more important to apply the DIY spirit. The more time and energy you invest – known as sweat equity – the better your odds of getting the sale you want faster.

Consider these ten projects:

  1. Painting the Exterior
    There's a reason "curb appeal" is so important: It's the first impression! A coat of exterior paint is the perfect way to help prospective buyers see themselves in the home. Plus, you can tone down unusual colors.
  2. Power Washing the Exterior
    The best way to enhance your new paint job is to make sure the outside walls are clean as can be. This only takes a few hours of work and can take ten years off the apparent age of a house. Effects continue long after the average house is sold.
  3. Manicuring the Lawn
    It can be tough to maintain a lawn. In some areas, scorching heat and restricted water use lead to brown patches. In others, weeds grow like – well, weeds! Before putting your home on the market, break out the mower and hedge clippers.
  4. Steam Cleaning the Carpets
    This is vital if you have a cat or dog. Even the nicest carpets are bound to accumulate stains over time. The more of these you can remove, the better. A clean carpet is softer and more inviting.
  5. Adding a Closet
    When you add a closet, you're really adding a bedroom. You don't have to outfit the room with furniture, but taking a weekend to install a closet can have a big impact on your sale price.
  6. Cleaning the Gutters
    It's important to clean gutters at least twice yearly and whenever the weather gets heavy. Still, it's a chore that easily gets put off. When gutters clog, they can damage the roof and foundation.
  7. Patching the Roof
    Roof issues are high on the list of problems many would-be buyers are keen to walk away from. Since so many buyers get inspections, beat them to the punch by fixing leaks or weak spots.
  8. Replacing the Windows
    Broken windows not only age a house, they can make the whole neighborhood seem less desirable. Fix cosmetic damage and treat windows with coatings that reduce heat loss.
  9. Tidying Up
    Get clutter out of the way – into closets or storage – to make things easier on yourself now and the future. Buyers can envision their stuff in the space and you'll have less to do at sale time.
  10. Replacing Air Conditioning Filters
    Washing or replacing AC filters helps to keep your ductwork functioning and improves air quality inside the house, which can be ten times worse than the air outside.

DIY projects are fun, exciting, and make a difference in your sale. Try these ten and your buyers will really be wowed by what you have to offer.

September
7

What Is A Luxury Home?

Defining what a luxury home is when you are selling or buying a house isn't always easy. Here's what you need to know about the luxury home market. 

  • It's Not Just About Price
    When you're buying a house and see "luxury home" on the listing, your first thought is likely to be that the home is expensive. While luxury homes do tend to have a higher price tag than traditional homes, there's no specific price point that determines whether a home is considered a luxury home. Typically, luxury homes are priced high for their particular market, but with the variety of markets out there, this can mean something with a $500,000 price tag is a luxury home in one market, while in another the price point is $5 million or more.
  • Luxury Homes Embrace a Luxury Lifestyle
    One of the factors that makes a home a luxury home is the amenities it contains that contribute to a luxury lifestyle. An opulent master bathroom suite with a huge walk-in closet is one of these types of amenities. A swimming pool, a large home theater room, and many custom finishes throughout the home will make it feel more luxurious.
  • Luxury Homes Feature Premier Materials
    In a luxury home, you won't find run-of-the-mill building materials. You'll find the best possible materials. From rich and exotic hardwoods to state-of-the-art appliances, and extra appliances that aren't found in most homes, these homes have the best of the best. The small details made from superior quality are what make luxury homes stand apart.
  • Luxury Homes Have a Desirable Location
    Finally, luxury homes are known for having a desirable location. For some markets, this may be a home in the midst of a bustling city. For other markets, this could be a home in a secluded location at the top of a mountain or sitting alongside a body of water. Again, this is a factor that is clearly affected by the market, but there's almost lawyers something uniquely appealing about the location for a luxury home.

As you can see, when buying a house, what defines "luxury" market is going to be different for every buyer. Determining what your goals are, and then shopping for homes that meet those goals, will ensure that you find a home that fits your needs, whether or not it fits the "luxury" category.

August
31

How to Talk to Your Children About Moving

If you are selling your home, you may be dreading telling the kids about the move.

Familiarity and routine are things that kids rely on. Moving from the home they are familiar with breaks their routine and can be very stressful for even the most relaxed kids. Add in changing schools and moving away from best friends, and you have a recipe for meltdowns and behavior problems. 

Talking with Your Kids about the Move

Telling the kids is going to be one of the more difficult things to do during the move and timing it can be even more difficult. You don't want to do it the day before it happens, but you don't want to do it six months prior either. If you are selling your home, you should break the news at least a couple of weeks before the real estate agent starts showing the property.

Set aside a special time for breaking the news. You will want to have plenty of time for discussion and questions.

Keep yourself in a calm mood. Young children, especially, pick up on their parents' moods. Even if you are not happy with the move, you need to keep that out of the conversation as much as possible.

How you break the new will depend on the age range of your kids. Smaller kids may not understand, so telling it as a story can be effective. Older kids will want more details. You should mention why the move is needed (new job, moving closer to family, etc.) Let them know where you are moving and the time frame.

Let the kids ask questions and answer them honestly. Your children are going to be going through a major transition. Lying or trying to hide difficult details will backfire later if the child figured out one or both parents lied.

Encourage the kids to express their emotions. Younger children often cannot put words to deep emotions. If a child needs to cry or gets angry, let it happen. Older kids, especially teenagers, may become openly defiant about the whole idea. That is perfectly normal. Just reassure as much as possible.

After the Conversation

You might think the worst part is over when you finish the conversation. However, it is only the beginning.

As the kids process the news, they are going to have new questions. Let them know they are welcome to ask as many questions as possible. They will also have emotions come up at odd times. 

If possible, plan trips to your new home to let the kids become used to it. Of course, long-distance moves make this difficult. However, even pictures or videos of their new home can help.

Try to keep to your normal schedule. As stated before, kids thrive on routine and familiarity. Keeping their eating, playing, napping and bedtime schedules as close to normal will help them with the transition. It will be their anchor in the storm.

In the End

Even if you have all the conversations and provide as much support as possible, you may find your child still has difficulties with the move.

All you can do is give the child time to make the adjustment. Some kids can transition within a week or two. Others may take months. 

Selling your home is stressful for everyone in the family. Be prepared for having this critical conversation with your kids when appropriate. It will make everything go smoother.

September
21

7 Tips for Selling Your Home Quickly

Get your home sold quickly--without giving up profits--using these tips from the pros. 


Selling your home is nerve-wracking--even under the best of circumstances.  However, add into the mix a short timeline and things become a bit more interesting.

There is good news: Buyers are snapping up homes across the US at warp speed.  So, if you're considering selling your home, now might be a great time to list it on your local real estate market.

Using these seven tips along with the right real estate agent can help speed up the sale of your home and still provide top dollar.

  1. The Price is Right
    Getting your listing price right from the beginning is so important to selling your home quickly and for a realistic price.  If you start with a price that is too high, your house can sit unsold, and you'll lose money in the long run.  Your real estate agent should provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) to set a competitive price based on recent sales in your area.

  2. Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal
    There's nothing like creating a great first impression—especially when you're selling a home.  Curb appeal is essential to drawing people to your home, so make sure yours shines. Add flowers that bring color to the space, paint the front door and clean up the lawn. Make the home as attractive as possible for those who drive by because this will cause them to stop and schedule a showing. If a potential buyer does a drive by and is not impressed with what he sees, he's not going to take the home seriously when considering his prospects.

  3. Give Your Home a Fresh Face
    Make your home appear more up-to-date and on trend with current home styles.  Paint walls, add new fixtures and plant fresh landscaping.  These are all low cost items, but can help fetch a higher price in the long run.

  4. Clear the Clutter
    Make your home appear larger and more inviting to home buyers by removing excess knickknacks and excess furniture. You are going to be moving soon anyway, so take the time now to remove the clutter and pack it away for now. This will make your home look larger and more inviting, and it will also make it easier to keep it clean.

  5. Don't Make It Personal
    Your home may be your castle, but when you are selling your home it needs to be as neutral as possible. Take down the kid's art, family photos and collections that are important to you, but not to anyone else. The goal is for the house to look like a model home, so buyers can imagine their life in your home.

  6. Make it Sparkle
    Deep clean your home from top to bottom when you're listing it for sale.  If you have the budget for a cleaning service, that might be a wise investment, but do everything in your power to keep the home clean at all times.

  7. Hire a Professional Photographer
    Consider hiring a professional real estate photographer to take the images for your online listings. Most people are going to "tour" a home online before they schedule an in-person tour, so make sure your home looks its best. High-quality images may be an investment, but they will pay big dividends when you sell your home quickly and for a good price.

Selling your home isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be time consuming either. With the right steps, you can sell your home quickly and avoid the drama of endless days on market.

December
28

6 Secrets to Selling Your Home in the Coming Year

Start doing these six things now to sell your home this coming year.


While it may not feel like it yet, the spring selling season will be here before you know it. The work you do now in preparation can make a huge difference when the time comes to attract the right home buyer. Here are six tips for selling your home to get you started and help you prepare for real estate success this coming year.

Put a Spring in Your Step with 6 Home Selling Tips

The beginning of the year is an excellent time to sell a house--especially once the winter weather starts to give way to the spring flowers. If you want to make the most of the upcoming selling season, then the best thing you can do is to start making your preparations today. 

  1. Create Curb Appeal – You want potential buyers to be impressed from the moment they pull up to your house. Make sure that your yard is clean, your lawn is healthy and the front entrance to your home has a fresh coat of paint. During the spring, adding some attractive, colorful plants is a great way to boost curb appeal.

  2. Downsized Decorating – While a bit of decorating is fine when your home is for sale, it's generally better to go for a more minimalist touch. Buyers want to be able to project what their life will be like in your home and that's easier to do when you give them a blank slate to work with.

  3. Targeted Upgrades – You can improve the marketability of your home without making major renovations if you know where to look. It's never a bad idea to focus on the kitchen and bathroom when making minor upgrades because they are often the first places a buyer looks when deciding if they're interested in your home.

  4. Setting a Realistic Price – Your real estate agent can provide you with a local real estate market analysis to help you determine the listing price for your home. The most important thing is to be realistic when setting a price – low enough to avoid scaring off potential suitors, but high enough to get you a solid return on your investment. Your agent can help you strike that balance.

  5. Simply Social – Social media sites like Facebook are a great way to spread the word that your home is for sale. Friends and family will often be happy to share your listing with any house hunters they know, and it only takes a few moments to post your listing on your social pages. Best of all, it doesn't cost you a dime.

  6. Sell Your Neighborhood – Whether you've lived there for decades or it's just been a temporary stop, it's a good idea to learn everything you can about your neighborhood when selling your home. That knowledge will allow you to accentuate the positives of your neighborhood and provide quick, clear answers to questions from buyers.

Selling your home is all about preparation, and there's no better time to get started. Follow our six home selling tips to hit the ground running, and be sure to lean on the expertise of your real estate agent whenever you're in need of advice. 

November
9

10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Attract homebuyers during the holidays with these tips.

When most people think about the holidays, they think about family gatherings, turkey dinners, and gift-giving.  Selling their home during the holidays isn't something they usually imagine.  No one sells their home during this time of the year ... Right?  Wrong!

In fact, selling your home during the holidays has its advantages. Since fewer homes are on the market, there is less competition.  And home buyers are usually more serious and ready to buy.

How do you make the most of this selling season?  Here are ten tips to get you started.

  1. Deck the Halls
    When selling your home during the holidays, you absolutely should deck the halls to help your home feel festive. However, avoid any religious decorations and be careful to not go overboard. A few classic pieces can go a long way towards bringing the holiday spirit to your home.
  2. Look for Motivated Buyers 
    If someone is trying to move during the holidays, it is very likely that they have a big reason for doing so. Look for buyers on a deadline, such as someone relocating for a job, as they will be more motivated to buy quickly.
  3. Host a Holiday Open House
    At the open house, bring a few holiday touches to the event. Serve freshly baked cookies alongside hot cider and cocoa. Play holiday ambient music to set the mood.
  4. Price to Sell
    Negotiations can take a lot of time. Instead of pricing your home high and gradually making small price reductions, during the holiday season it is better to price your home to sell.
  5. Prioritize Online Marketing
    When the weather outside is frightful, potential buyers rely on online home listings more than ever. Make sure your listings are filled with high-quality pictures and an online video tour to pique their interest.
  6. Clean Up the Exterior
    Bare tree branches give potential buyers a much clearer view of your home's exterior. Pay attention to every detail so the exterior looks perfect. Clean the leaves out of the yard and gutters. Touch up paint on the siding, doors, and trim. Keep the walkways clear of ice and snow.
  7. Keep Your Schedule Open
    You never know when an interested buyer might want to come to look at your home. While you should set aside time to spend with your family on Thanksgiving and Christmas, try to keep as many days clear on your calendar as possible to make scheduling showings easier.
  8. Tidy the Inside Again and Again
    Tracking in mud and snow can make a clean house look dirty in seconds. Vacuum, sweep, and mop regularly to keep the house looking spotless for any impromptu showings that may come up.
  9. Make Your Home Cozy
    When stepping inside from the frigid cold, you want potential buyers to immediately feel cozy and "at home". Turn up the heat to keep them warm. Turn on the lights to make the house bright and cheery.
  10. Hire a Dependable Real Estate Agent
    The right real estate agent to help you with selling your home is important at any time of the year. But during the holiday season, you really want someone who is dependable and will be present when you need them the most.

Although selling a house during the holiday season will definitely keep you busy, don't forget to take the time to enjoy the season too.

May
18

Protect Your Belongings During an Open House

With strangers wandering through your house, take these steps to feel more comfortable during an open house.

Selling your home can cause concern about how to protect your personal privacy and possessions. When buyers walk through your home during a showing or open house, they will most likely peek into every drawer, look inside each closet and check the pantry and cabinets.

Here are a few steps to take to make you feel more confident while your home is on the market.

Protecting Your Belongings

Strangers walking through your house can be unnerving. Take a few precautions to keep your home secure.

  • Lock electronics. Shut down all computers and devices before you leave. If you are not using a password to gain access to your devices, start now. Make sure that everyone in the home knows to keep them turned off or locked at all times.
  • Check doors and windows. Check all of the doors and windows in your home every day, especially areas that you're not used to checking such as upstairs windows or basement doors. Buyers will open and close doors while they are looking at a home and most of the time they are not closed and locked properly afterward.

Protecting Private Information

Most home selling tips include advice about removing all personal items in the home as a way to stage the property. Another reason to do this is to protect your privacy.

  • Start in the bathroom by removing all prescription medications and any items that might be embarrassing or awkward if someone were to see them.
  • Next, go through the bedroom and do the same. Leave nothing behind except a bed with neutral linens, dressers with nothing but clothes inside and empty tops, and side tables that are void of all items except lamps and clocks.
  • Go through the entire home and remove all family photos, diplomas, calendars with appointments, etc. This includes drawers and cabinets too. You should strive to give your home the appearance of a model home: very neutral and open to everyone.
  • Do not leave personal documents out especially anything pertaining to the sale of the home. Inadvertently tipping your hand this early in the game could be disastrous! Leaving out your bills and other information could leave you vulnerable to identity theft and other crimes.

What To Do With All the Stuff?

You're following all of these home selling tips and getting stuff out of your home.  Now, what do you do with all of the stuff?

  • Rent a storage unit. Pack up all of your personal items into boxes and totes and move them to a storage unit. You'll have to do this when it's time to move so you might as well get started. Leave behind only a working wardrobe, enough towels to get through a few days, and one set of neutral linens for each bed. Personal toiletries should be limited and kept in easy to stow containers and tucked under the sink or in a linen closet while not in use.
  • Get a lockbox. A simple document box will be enough to keep items safe as most buyers won't make any attempt to access something that appears off-limits. Keep all of your documents, bills, valuables and unread mail in the box at all times.

Feel safe about opening your home to strangers. By following these home selling tips, you can be certain that your belongings and information are safe and secure.

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