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

Closing Costs That Might Surprise You

Selling your home soon? As you look at your finances and list your home, it's probably tempting to focus on your potential earnings. However, every real estate transaction comes with closing costs for the buyer and the seller.

You probably already know you're responsible for the agents' commissions, but what about the rest of your closing costs?

Before selling your home, make sure you understand all the closing costs you'll be expected to cover. Here are some common costs that may surprise you:  

  1. Pro-Rated Property Taxes
    You're responsible for all property taxes up to the date of the sale. That means if you're selling in July, you need to pay your property tax for the first seven months of the year — not wait until next year to file. Make sure you're aware of the final number because you must provide this to the buyers. This is required because buyers will get a bill next year for the whole year, including the months you still owned the home.

  2. Transfer Taxes and Fees
    Real estate transactions are essentially title transfers from one owner to another. Before your sale is complete, you must pay state and county or city fees in order to process this transfer. You may also need to pay transfer taxes. While most sellers are aware that it costs money to transfer a title, many are surprised by the final percentage, which can fluctuate wildly depending on your location. Make sure you're aware of the local requirement beforehand.

  3. Title Insurance
    If you think buyers are always responsible for buying a title insurance policy, think again. Many states now require sellers to cover the new homeowner's title insurance policy. This coverage is designed to protect the mortgage lender from any future claims, and they won't approve the transaction without it. Find out now if you will be responsible for the buyer's title insurance coverage.

  4. Home Preparations
    Staging a home for market success is about more than just cleaning thoroughly and rearranging the furniture. Your real estate agent will know which services are the most valuable, especially to sellers who want to ask for more money or sell more quickly. For example, renting a storage unit will make it much easier to clear out a third of your clutter and personal possessions, leaving a more neutral and walkable space for potential buyers. Carpet cleaning, painting, lawn care, and professional photography services are also important investments for serious sellers.

Of course, your final closing costs before selling your home will depend on a lot of different factors. From zip code and loan terms to the buyers' willingness to negotiate, these factors will help you figure out just how much to set aside for closing. Understand your responsibilities and prepare yourself for every possible expense.


5 Ways Sellers Sabotage Their Own Sale

Are you selling a home? If so, you need to know that you could be your worst enemy.

Many home sellers are surprised to learn that they are the ones sabotaging their ability to sell their homes quickly and for a good price. When you're selling your home, make sure you avoid these mistakes that could hinder your home's sale and push buyers away. 

  1. Having Too High of an Opinion About Your Home
    Your home is naturally something you should be proud of. You've probably spent a good amount of time and money getting it exactly how you want it, and in your eyes, it shines. However, if you think your home is worth more because it's so special, you are mistaken. Sometimes those personal touches that make the home special to you are not impressive to the buyer. Make sure you talk to your real estate agent about what your home is really worth and what "special touches" are actually deterrents to a potential sale.

  2. Trying to Hide Issues from Buyers
    If you had a roof leak that left water damage in the attic, it's going to come out on the inspection. Don't try to hide it. When the inspector finds these things, buyers will wonder what else you are hiding. This can cause a buyer, even one that loves the house, to feel like walking away from the home. Disclose everything you can.

  3. Assuming You'll Get a Second Chance
    When you have a call to do a showing on your home, have the showing, no matter how busy you are. You have no guarantee that you'll get a second chance with that buyer. It doesn't matter how bad your day is, if someone wants to look at your home, make every possible effort to let them do so. If you don't, they'll look at a different home, and you will miss the opportunity to have a perspective buyer touring your property with the hopes of having a successful sale.

  4. Not Cleaning Well
    Cobwebs, pet hair, ring-around-the-tub — all of these can sabotage a sale. If you want to sell your home quickly and for a good price, it needs to shine. Make sure you are cleaning it well. Consider renting a storage facility to place some items in while your home is on the market so you don't have as much clutter in your home. The cleaner and more open your home feel, the better it will show. The better your home shows, the faster it will sell.

  5. Ignoring the Yard
    Finally, don't ignore your home's exterior when preparing it to sell. The yard, both front and back, is going to be an important selling point for your property. Give it a little TLC. There's no need to go overboard with landscaping, but make sure the landscaping and plants you do have look nice and add some interest to the front yard with color and flower pots.

Selling your home can be a stressful time, and this is definitely a process you want to see come to a fast conclusion. By avoiding these five common problems, you will have much greater success selling your home quickly because you won't be standing in your own way!


Retiring Soon? How To Decide If You Should Sell Your Home

Selling your home upon retirement is a question millions of people grapple with. While it might seem logical to scale down when you retire, is it really the best option? 

There's no "one size fits all" solution for selling your home. Most people will find there are pros and cons to the choice they have to weigh before making a decision.

  • Pro: Selling Can Give You Retirement Income
    If you've worked hard to build equity in your house, selling it could be exactly the step you need to take to ensure a comfortable retirement. Plus, if you've been living in the home consistently in recent years, you may be eligible to shield much of the sale's proceeds from taxation. This can be the solution for retirees who find themselves without enough savings.

  • Pros: Selling Means Fewer Recurring Costs
    No matter how well-maintained your home is, there'll always be costs involved in keeping it running. Your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical wiring, and much more can all fail without much warning. By selling, you avoid all these inevitable challenges of home ownership. Plus, you may find that you can reduce the overall costs of your utilities.

  • Pros: Selling May Mean More Accessible Accommodations
    With age, many people face security and safety concerns they did not have in their youth. One of the most serious ones is the risk of a serious slip and fall, particularly when your home has many stairs. The cost of remodeling a home to make it more comfortable in retirement may be greater than what you are willing to invest in your retirement income.

  • Pros: Selling May Mean More Flexibility in Retirement
    Your desires in retirement might be very different from what you wanted from your home years or decades ago. You might want to move closer to relatives, for example, get into a community more in keeping with your needs, or even move to another country. In all these situations and more, maintaining your home can make it harder for you to focus on the present.

  • Cons: Renting May Not Be Worth It
    One of the biggest questions about selling is whether it makes financial sense. While your home might be appreciating in value, the cost of rent in your community is probably rising as well. If you know where you want to live after selling, take a close look at the nearby housing and the financial resources it will take for you to live comfortably there.

  • Cons: Sentimental Value Matters
    By the time they reach retirement, many people have spent decades in one home. There's simply no way to put a price on the sentimental value such a property can offer. It may make more sense to keep the home in the family if you consider it an important part of your legacy. This may be a matter to bring up with adult children or others with a close connection to the place.

  • Cons: It May Not Be the Right Time for Selling Your Home
    If your home is appreciating in value — or a minor improvement could substantially raise its sale price — it may be worth it to wait a little longer before making your move. In a "seller's market," a delay of just three months can make a big difference in what you can expect from your sale. If conditions are ideal, it may make sense to wait six months or even another year.

Ultimately, selling your home is a deeply personal decision. It's best made with input from a real estate agent you can rely on.


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.


6 Easy DIY Projects To Boost Your Home's Value

Home improvement is the key to enhancing your home's value and increasing its ever-elusive curb appeal.

Of course, you probably already know that, but what you might not know is that upgrading your property doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. The right DIY home improvement projects improve your home, add value, and bring buyers to your door.

  1. Improve Your Landscaping
    Why hire a professional landscaper? You can save money by trimming, mulching, planting, and decorating your own home into a garden showplace. With one trip to your local garden shop or hardware store, you can get everything you need to give your landscape the wow factor home buyers love.

    • Design your dream landscape, and then bring it to life.
    • Seed your lawn. Cut back overgrown bushes so buyers can see your home.
    • Add seasonal color with potted and hanging flowers.
    • Enhance your landscape with solar lights and pavers that save energy.

  2. Beautify Your Bathroom
    You spend an awful lot of time in the bathroom. It should be a beautiful sanctuary that increases your home's value, not a shabby refuge. Change your perceptions and add value with these DIY home improvement projects.

    • Install trendy light fixtures.
    • Replace your sink with a designer vanity and a marble bowl.
    • Install a copper or chrome faucet and metal-coordinated accessories.
    • Eliminate unfortunate color choices with white wall paint.

  3. Welcome Light into Your Home
    If you have large windows that allow natural light into your home, lucky you. If you don't have large windows, try these light-enhancing projects.

    • Install brighter light fixtures.
    • Paint your walls white and replace your drapes with neutral-colored blinds.
    • Remove some furniture to open up your space.

  4. Up Your Energy Efficiency
    Green technologies save money, increase home values, and reduce your carbon footprint. When a potential buyer queries your utility company about your average energy bill, they'll like what they hear. You can perform several green upgrades yourself.

    • Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient versions.
    • Replace your stove, refrigerator, and small kitchen appliances with models rated high for energy savings.
    • Install solar-powered exterior lights.
    • Repair window seals to minimize hot/cold air exchange.

  5. Modernize Your Kitchen
    Home buyers love grand spacious kitchens. Even if your kitchen isn't as big as a buyer desires, you can complete these DIY projects to make it irresistibly grand.

    • Redo your kitchen floor with trendy wood-look, gray, wide-plank, or natural wood tiles.
    • Upgrade your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher with popular stainless steel or black steel models.
    • Install a farmhouse sink and faucet for a country modern workspace.
    • Replace your countertops with granite. You'll need someone to measure and cut the openings and a buddy to help you lift them into place.|

  6. Make Your Home Intelligent
    Guys like gadgets. Okay, ladies like gadgets too. With a little time and effort, you can make your home gadget central. Internet-connected and digitally enhanced appliances and devices give your home an intriguing, high-tech feel.

    • Install a Wi-Fi-connected refrigerator.
    • Replace your stove with an intelligent version that lets you control cooking remotely.
    • Upgrade your home security system with cameras that let you watch your home and interact with visitors wherever you are.
    • Connect your coffeemaker to your alarm clock to brew your coffee when you wake up.

With these fixes, buyers will be flocking to your property and making top offers. And remember, it's not always the costly changes that give the best ROI, so consult your real estate agent about which home improvement changes will be better suited for your home.


5 Golden Rules For Staging Your Home

Selling your home can be an exciting adventure full of surprises and pitfalls. Taking the time to properly stage it can make selling your home less of a chore and allow you to get the best price possible. Follow these five tips from the pros to help you prepare your home and set the stage for a successful sale.

  1. Start Outside
    The first impression a buyer has of your home can make or break a sale. To make the buyer eager to step inside your home and see more, make sure the outside of your home looks fabulous. It doesn't cost a lot to cut the grass, pull weeds, prune the hedges and plant some flowers. Put away all bikes, toys, and trash cans. If you can, pull your cars out of the driveway, so there's a clear view of your home and property. A freshly painted door and prominent house number can also make your home more appealing.

  2. Clean and Get Rid of Clutter
    The most important thing you can do when getting ready to sell your home is to get rid of clutter. Removing your stuff and making your home less personal makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your space.

    Take a good look at each room and ask yourself what you really need to keep. Remove personal items like family photos, knickknacks, awards, and collectibles from tables, windowsills, shelves, and other surfaces. In the kitchen, put away towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, and dish soap, and remove small appliances from counters. It's also a good idea to remove pet beds, toys, and bowls.

    In the bathroom, remove all toiletries, hairdryers, and trash cans, open the shower curtain, and close the toilet lid. Keep closets and cabinets tidy throughout the house. Messy, packed-full closets are unappealing and will make the buyer think they are smaller than they are.

    Too much furniture can also contribute to a cluttered look. Professional stagers often remove half the owner's furnishings and put them in storage. Consider boxing up things like books and pictures and putting them in storage as well.

    Once you have removed the clutter, give your home a deep cleaning. Hiring a cleaning crew to come once every two weeks while selling your home will keep it looking fresh and cut down on stress. If you're doing the cleaning, don't forget windows, behind the toilet, grout, and under sinks. Move furniture and vacuum behind and under it.

  3. Make Repairs
    Repair squeaky doors, hinges, broken fixtures, and fittings. Replacing light fixtures, light switches, outlets, and door & cabinet hardware is an affordable way to give your home a more modern look. If you don't have time to refinish, inexpensive area rugs can also disguise the look of old hardwood floors.

  4. Keep it Neutral
    Use a fresh, neutral paint color like beige or taupe for living spaces and neutral green or blue hues for bathrooms. Stay away from bold wall colors, which are often a turnoff to buyers. If you want to make a room pop, add colorful accents with pillows and simple vases of flowers. Keep wall art and paintings neutral and simple.

  5. Accentuate Architecture
    Arrange furnishings to highlight ceilings, windows, views, fireplaces, and other architectural features. Put tall objects such as large bookshelves against walls, and hang art a bit lower to make ceilings look higher. Experiment with different ways to arrange your furniture; create cozy seating areas instead of lining couches and chairs along the walls. Open up blinds and draperies to make sure there's sufficient natural light throughout your home.

Staging doesn't have to be scary. After these fixes, you'll be excited to show people how great your property really is.


Bigger Isn't Always Better

Do you love your house, but not necessarily the chores or costs that come with it? Are you living comfortably, but you'd like the luxury of a bigger budget or a different lifestyle? Selling your home and moving into a smaller space might be exactly what you need. Unlike the board game that goes by the same name, real life isn't always about the size of your house. In fact, sometimes downsizing is the smartest way to upgrade your life. Instead of measuring your success in square footage, consider these advantages of downsizing your real estate investment.

Downsizing Means Decluttering

Clutter can accumulate in any sized space. However, if you've lived in a big house for years, it's easy to misjudge how much unused — or downright useless — stuff is filling your home. Downsizing gives you a great excuse to declutter and get rid of everything you don't need, use, or like. Do you have unworn clothes hanging at the back of your closet? Time to donate them. How about that extra furniture filling your crawl space? Time to get rid of that too. Even old documents, photos, albums, and videos can be digitized to downsize your storage needs and decrease the risk of damage.

Of course, some of your unused belongings may still have value, so consider selling furniture, appliances, books, jewelry, clothes, and anything else that is still functional. You'll have extra money for your next chapter, but the real benefit is psychological. Stowing things away "for later" creates a pattern of excess and clutter, and getting rid of them is a decision to live in the moment. It also helps you focus on the most significant parts of your life and surround yourself with items that truly make you happy or serve specific purposes in your life.

Smaller Spaces Are Cheaper to Clean & Power

When you downsize, it's not just your mortgage payments that get smaller. While this isn't always the case, bigger houses usually cost more to heat, cool, power, and clean. If your utility bills skyrocket every summer and winter, you could be wasting a lot of money controlling the temperature of rooms you don't even use. Extra windows and doors make it even easier for leaks to occur and energy bills to rise higher. Of course, more square footage also means more floors, walls, and windows to clean. All those surfaces require time and money to maintain, even if you outsource the actual chore.

You may be able to afford your cleaning and cooling costs, but why not make room in your budget for more enjoyable expenses? If you'd love to have smaller energy bills and fewer cleaning requirements, consider selling your home and finding a space with fewer rooms. High ceilings, multiple stories, and particularly sunny or dark spots are all energy-intensive, and if you upgrade to a newer space with more efficient windows and electrical requirements, that's even better.

Buying a home you love was a wise investment, but letting go might be just as wise. It's hard to overestimate the value of financial and physical freedom, especially if you're used to certain responsibilities and expenses. But without a big house to maintain or a big mortgage bill to pay, you'll have more time and money to focus on places, people, and hobbies that truly make you happy. Whether you're experiencing big life changes or trying to jump-start a change at long last, consider selling your home and buying a smaller one.


Declutter To Sell Your House Faster

Everyone has a little "clutter" lying around the house — and some of us may have more than others. When you're selling your home, managing your home's look and feel is one of the best ways to maximize your chances of selling quickly and for the most amount of money.

Real estate pros know decluttering allows potential buyers to see your home as "their home" and makes it appear bigger with more storage space. Use these steps to get started:

  • Set a schedule. Sit down and look at your time. Don't worry about how much you have, just find some — twenty minutes a day, an hour, and five— whatever you can put in. Add it to your schedule, and set aside time specifically for decluttering. Determine deadlines as well. For example, plan on finishing the kitchen in a week and the bedrooms in two. Or have an overall deadline for the whole house. Decide what works best for you. Once you have your schedule, stick to it.

  • Move room by room. Looking at the whole house can feel overwhelming, so take it room by room, area by area. There are always trouble spots, like closets, desks, or cabinets. Tackle those first. Move steadily through each room until you're done.

  • Make three piles. As you go through things, make three piles: a keep, get rid of, and maybe pile. Once you've finished each area, put back the things you're keeping in an organized manner. Implement any organization systems as you go. The maybes should be put in a box and stowed for a few weeks. Revisit them and decide whether you really need them or not. Address the get rid of right away.

  • Get it out quickly. The key is to remove things as they come up. Have a plan — donate, garbage, or sell. Set aside time each week to do those things. List items on Craigslist, take a trip to the dump or run by the thrift store to drop items off. If you keep it around, clutter has a habit of working its way back into your home.

  • Learn to let go. One of the hardest things can be to let go of stuff. It may be sentimental; you may be saving it for when you really need it. Research on the web, or read a book about decluttering. Many resources have a series of questions to ask yourself to see if something is really worth holding onto. You can also ask if it is something you'll actually use and find time limits as to how long to hold onto certain things (like paperwork and clothes).

Decluttering Before You Sell Your Home

Not only can decluttering help you prepare for a move, but it also gives you a boost mentally. You'll be one step closer to staging, and you reduce the amount that you'll need to transport to the new house. In a way, it prepares you mentally to make a change. Decluttering gets you in the mindset to embrace a new setting, and you can make that new setting a new home.

It's true-decluttering is hard, but the rewards you'll reap are more than worth it.


Is It Time To Break Up With Your Home?

Remember the first time you laid eyes on your home? Your jaw dropped at the beautiful front yard. You were amazed at how all those windows sparkled as you walked up to the door. After you moved in, you thanked your lucky stars for sending you your dream home. You loved your house when you first bought it and knew you would live there forever. Wait a minute... Forever? That's an awfully long time to live at the same address. Here's what to do when you think you've fallen out of love with your home. 

There are different reasons people fall out of love with their dream homes. The good news is more often than not, it's possible to identify the issue and fall back in love with your home all over again.

Before selling your home, you need to answer a few questions:

  • Have you really given your house a chance?
  • Would you fall back in love with your house if you invested a little into some home improvement projects?
  • Is the house the problem, or are you secretly dissatisfied with your life and laying the blame on your home?

If you've only been in your house for a few months, it's likely that you haven't actually fallen out of love with the place but are simply suffering from either a case of buyer's remorse or feelings of being unsettled. In this situation, the best thing to do is give things some more time. The chances are good that you'll relax and fall in love with your home all over again. If you discover that your emotional detachment from your house stems from it needing work or remodeling, you need to come to a few decisions. You can choose to invest the time and money into making the improvements your happiness relies on, or speak to a real estate agent about selling your home. It's important to note that sometimes finding your dream home means making improvements.

If you decide that it's not your house but rather something else triggering your sense of dissatisfaction, look around the community. You may find that it holds the secret to helping you feel fulfilled. The odds are that there are volunteering opportunities and clubs near your home to help you fill up your life and feel happier.

If you absolutely can't stand the idea of spending any more time in your house, then it's time to talk to a real estate agent about selling your house. When shopping for a new house, remember the issues that caused you to fall out of love with your house and avoid those pitfalls with your next purchase.

When you decide that selling your home is the best solution, always make sure you deal with a real estate agent you trust to get you the best price for the home.


Get An Inspection Before Selling Your Home

Selling your home? A recent survey showed more than 85 percent of buyers who applied for financing asked for an inspection of the home they intended to buy. Today's savvy home buyers rarely leave things up to chance — they want to be assured they are getting great value.

Despite this growing trend, many sellers still wait for buyers to take the initiative on inspections.

A seller might save a few hundred dollars by waiting until the buyer makes the first move, but this is rarely worthwhile. In fact, there are many benefits to taking the plunge and getting an inspection as soon as you decide you are serious about putting your property on the market.

Let's look at six benefits of pre-listing home inspections:

  1. Attract More Buyers
    Savvy buyers who have purchased a property before will know about the necessity of a home inspection and will appreciate this is one less step (and expense) they need to worry about. New buyers seeking their first home may not be as savvy at first, but they will soon figure it out. All in all, an inspection will reassure and attract more would-be buyers.

  2. Accelerate the Sales Process
    Sooner or later, an inspection will happen — and when it does, it's bound to turn up something. Relatively minor issues might throw a wrench into your hopes of selling your home. When you get proactive, you have the chance to resolve problems that might otherwise add months to the sales process. Plus, in many cases, you can turn those fixes into part of your sales pitch.

  3. Provide a Stronger Negotiating Position
    Most home sales involve some "give and take" over the final price. Buyers will look for anything they can find as a reason to maneuver excess costs onto the seller. With a recent inspection report in hand, you can counter these moves without any sour grapes — you've gone the extra mile to ensure that everything in the home is on the up and up, after all!

  4. Reduce Recurring Repair Bills
    It isn't always easy to determine the true source of a recurring problem in a home, even a newer one. For example, if your toilet drains slowly, you might simply need to snake it... or you may have a major issue with your septic system. Whatever the case, an inspection helps you get to the real root of the problem. It saves money if you don't sell and improves your price if you do.

  5. Take Control of the Process
    Unless you find out something truly appalling, you don't necessarily have to take time to repair whatever an inspection turns up. Instead, you have the option of lowering your price or going "as-is." All in all, an inspection gives you the opportunity to take the steps that are right for you instead of running to catch up to a buyer whose inspection uncovers unwelcome surprises.

  6. If You're Selling Your Home, Start With an Inspection
    In today's real estate market, a seller's pre-inspection of a home is a mark of quality that buyers increasingly expect. If you put your home on the market and don't find interested buyers in a relatively short time, an inspection is one precaution you'll end up taking.

With all that in mind, selling your home should almost always start with an inspection. It's an essential step, just like making basic repairs, listing your home in the right places, staging it for potential buyers, and partnering with a real estate agent you can trust.


6 Signs It's Time To Sell Your Home

Your home has been your safe haven over the years. As much as your home means to you, it's starting to feel like it is time to make a move. So what should you consider when making the decision to sell your home? Here are six signs that it's time to sell.

  1. Nothing Fits
    Are your cupboards so crammed that when you put the dishes away, Tupperware showers down on your head? What about the closet? When was the last time you actually saw the back of that thing? And then there is the issue of walkways. How many times can one adult trip on the way to the bathroom, really? If you've filled every nook and cranny, it's a likely sign you need more space, and you should consider selling your house.

  2. Growing Children
    Babies sure have a lot of stuff, but even those infants with an excess of gear can still comfortably live in a tiny space. As children grow, they need an environment that can expand with them. If you have multiple children sharing the same bedroom or lack the room to run outside, selling your home and upgrading to a larger property may be the right choice for you.

  3. Changing Neighborhood
    Does your neighborhood feel different than it used to? Are there a lot of new neighbors or an excess of empty homes? Changing neighborhoods can be a good indicator that it is time to move. If you find crime increasing and empty homes increasing, this can indicate your property value will continue to drop. It may be a good idea to sell now before your investment drops even lower. In opposite indications, an increase in sales and area improvements can greatly increase your home value. Selling your house in an upswing market can yield a great profit on your loan and allow you to invest in something further up the scale.

  4. City Real Estate Market
    How hot is the market in your city? If you answered like "Seattle or San Francisco," you can likely guarantee a quick and lucrative sale. Other areas may not be moving so fast. When selling your home, it's important to consult the real estate stats in your area. You can check online or ask your local real estate agent.

  5. Interest Rates
    Low-interest rates indicate a good time for selling your home. Low-interest rates will allow you a great rate on obtaining a new mortgage as well as entice buyers to your property at an affordable value. Low interest may not be a lasting option, so it's important to consult market experts online and in person to see your area market forecast.

  6. It's Your Choice
    All the data in the world can't make the final decision for you. Selling your house will always depend on your timeline. Don't let someone else rush you if you don't feel ready. If you're unsure, however, the best idea is to consult a local real estate agent to find out your home's current value.

Understanding your market, pricing, and new homeowner options will simplify your decision and help ensure you live in a home you will enjoy for years to come.


What Every First-Time Seller Should Know

You might think selling a home is similar to buying one, but they actually have little in common. Buying a house for the first time is something that many of us look forward to throughout our lives. No matter how much you love your first home, there will likely come a day when you're ready to move on to something new.

Selling your home is a totally different experience from buying a home. Buying a home involves feelings and sentiments, while selling one centers on dollars and cents. However cut and dry the selling experience might seem, there is still a period of confusion involved in the selling process. Many first-time home sellers have no idea where to start. Here are some of the most important tips for first-time home sellers to help you get started.

Just as with buying a home for the first time, you can remove a lot of the mystery from the equation by taking the time to read, study and learn. There's a lot to learn from your real estate agent and other experienced home sellers. Since you're here, it's safe to say you're already taking steps in that direction.

  1. Set a Reasonable Price
    The value of a home is not set in a vacuum, and market factors play an important role in setting the right price. Ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA breaks down the value of your home in great detail, along with the market history of homes in your area. Understanding the realities of the local real estate market is crucial in setting a price that is as attractive for buyers as it is for your budget.

  2. Work with a Trusted Real Estate Agent
    Working with a real estate agent you can trust will make life much easier when it's time to sell your home. A skilled agent will help you set the right price, attract the right buyers, and find a deal that works for everyone involved. If you enjoyed working with the agent who helped you purchase the home, now is a great time to rekindle that relationship.

  3. Major Marketing
    Identifying the right buyer is much easier when you do what's necessary to help the right buyer find you. Work with an agent who understands how social media, email marketing, and search engine marketing fit into the modern real estate purchasing process. A bit of targeted marketing is key to reaching the right audience.

  4. Consider Curb Appeal – No matter how great the interior of your home looks, it's the exterior that makes the first impression. Add curb appeal by updating your landscaping, keeping your yard as clean as possible, and putting a fresh coat of paint on areas that need it. You want them to be impressed from the moment they arrive. Be sure to tidy up and declutter inside too.

  5. Prepare to Compromise – If you're holding out for the deal that checks every single item on your priority list, you may be in for a long wait. The selling process has the same give-and-take as the buying process, so you may need to compromise in some areas to get what you want in others. Consider the areas where you're willing to compromise as you get started with the process, and you'll be better prepared to make a deal.

One advantage of selling your home for the first time is that you'll likely have experience sitting on the other side of the table as a buyer, so you'll already have some idea of what to expect. With a willingness to keep learning and the help of an experienced real estate agent, you'll be ready to tackle the process of selling your home for the first time.


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.


Insider Tips For A Successful Open House

Selling your home? A successful open house is essential to attracting the right buyer. A truly great open house takes time, and it goes beyond popular ideas about "staging." Use these proven techniques to make an impression:

  1. Start Planning Early
    When selling your home, it's never too early to get started. Your first open house should take place no later than the second weekend your home is on the market. It'll take some time for prospective buyers to find your listing one way or the other.

    When it comes to an open house, no detail is too small. Consider things like lawn care, whether you want to offer cookies or a catered lunch, and how to keep kids and pets calm. The more thoughtful your presentation, the better.

  2. Hire a Cleaning Service
    Even if you keep your home immaculate, it's tough to get out all the spots and stains from years of living. When selling your home, making sure it looks its best is crucial — would-be buyers need to be able to imagine their happy futures there!

    There are two areas you should be especially careful about: the carpets and the exterior. Carpets can hold pollen and pet dander that might disturb some buyers. And, of course, a freshly pressure-cleaned exterior maximizes the home's curb appeal.

  3. Get the Word Out
    Gone are the days when it was necessary to take out full-page newspaper ads to get your open house noticed. Now, it's simply a matter of making sure your real estate agent is posting them on all the top sites serious buyers look at regularly to find properties.

    Still, you should take the time to advertise within your neighborhood — beginning a full week before your event. Starting from a radius of several blocks, put up signs that clearly direct visitors to the home. Tie off each sign with colorful balloons to get them noticed.

  4. Pick the Right Times and Days
    These days, most open houses take place on Sunday. To get even more visitors, however, consider having two days of back-to-back showings. This will give people multiple weekend options. It can even motivate visitors to return on the second day with new ideas or questions.

    Open houses traditionally start around 1 PM. . . but they don't have to. By starting later, you may make a stronger impact. That's because buyers are likely to look at several houses in a day and will more clearly remember the one they visited last.

  5. Have Something to Give Away
    When executives look for a job, they bring something that makes an impression, like a portfolio of their top press clippings and achievements. By leaving it with the interviewer, they provide a memory boost that makes them look more attractive — you can do the same for your house.

    Don't stop with the traditional baked cookies — have photos of the house from different times of the year, appraisals, and other valuable documents buyers can take away with them. They're much more likely to follow up since they'll have a concrete reminder of your property.

  6. Get Out of the Way
    While there are many ways to get prospective buyers to linger and talk to your real estate agent, you don't necessarily need to be there. Some brokers actually prefer that the owner be away from the house to more effectively stay "on message." Coordinate with your broker — and if you go, be sure to take Fido or Fluffy along for the day.

Ask your real estate agent for more tips on how your open house with wow buyers. That way, you'll know you're on the right track.


Sellers: How You Can Downsize Efficiently

Once you've decided to sell your home, there is one question that looms large, hanging over your head like a heavy weight. What am I going to do with all this stuff? The question is especially relevant if you will be downsizing into a smaller house.

If you have lived in your current home for an extended period of time, the problem may be just that much worse. The accumulation of life's stuff is easy to put out of sight and out of mind during the day-to-day bustle. But when it is time to start packing and getting a home ready to sell, it can be like an avalanche bursting forth from every corner.

What's the best way to start downsizing your life and do it efficiently? It may sound easy — keep the stuff you need and purge the stuff you don't — but if you aren't careful how you do it, you can create more problems for yourself than just having too much junk.

Have a Plan to Ease the Pain

  • Start with the big stuff. If you are selling your three-bedroom home to move into a two-bedroom home, there's no need to move that extra bedroom furniture. It's just not needed. Take that approach with the rest of your home as well. Consider the space you are moving into and what you will need to fill it.

  • Be cautious. It can be easy to get on a "get rid of it" kick when it comes to smaller items, but be careful. Some things you know you will never need again, sell or donate. For other things that you are on the fence about, separate boxes into "must keep" and "maybe keep" boxes. That way, you can adjust as needed if your new home has the space to accommodate more of your things.

    It also helps to think about your belongings like this: If they were all wiped away by a fire, what would I replace and in what order would I replace them. It can be counter-productive to aggressively downsize, only to find that you need to re-buy things when you get in to your new home.

  • Go through those boxes again. Do you have boxes of keepsakes or mementos that you just couldn't live without but have never been unpacked from your previous home? Go through those boxes again, separating what's truly needed from what will never be missed.

  • Some space hogs can be effectively downsized without disappearing from your life. Take this opportunity to digitize old photos, CDs, DVDs or even VHS tapes. Uploading them to the cloud keeps them accessible while reducing the amount of stuff you have to move.

  • One year rule. When selling your home and downsizing, it helps to follow one simple rule: If you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it.

Take your new uncluttered attitude with you into your new home. Recognize clutter culprits in your old home and take pains to reduce what can build up in your new one. The easiest stuff to get rid of is the stuff you never accumulate.


Make Buyers Fall In Love With Your Home With These 5 Tips

When you're selling your home, first impressions are everything. Typically, each home buyer is looking for something different in the house they buy. However, there are common problems that will make them walk — and, maybe, even run — out of your home if they see them. The good news is there are several things you can do to make buyers fall in love with your home.

  1. Boost Your Curb Appeal
    Start with your yard. You won't believe the difference mowing your lawn, trimming hedges, picking up toys, adding fresh mulch, and raking leaves make. Best of all, improving the visual appearance of your yard doesn't cost you much. Just remember, once you're committed to selling your home, you'll need to stay on top of lawn work until the property has sold and is no longer your responsibility.

    If you have a plain yard, you should consider adding one or two flower beds or planting an ornamental tree to spruce things up.

  2. Tweak the Interior
    Take a look at the interior of your home. Is the paint chipped, streaked, or just tired looking? Do the fixtures and door handles match? Are the outlet covers and light switches working properly?

    The odds are good that when you look at the interior of your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer, you'll realize that things are a bit dated. Now that you're selling your home, it's time to change that. A quick run to the hardware store for updated door fixtures, outlet covers, and paint won't cost too much. With a weekend's worth of work, you'll have given the inside of your home a facelift and made it more appealing to buyers.

    When choosing fixtures and, more importantly, paint, stick to neutral options.

  3. Upgrade the Kitchen
    Buyers have said that the kitchen was what made them decide to place an offer on a home.

    If you're on a shoestring budget, you'll want to devote your funds to:

    - Ensuring the plumbing works perfectly,
    - Repairing and/or replacing damaged cabinet doors,
    - Making sure the kitchen is well lit,
    - Repainting,
    - Relining the shelves/drawers,
    - Refinishing hardwood floors,
    - Cleaning grout and re-grouting any damaged/crumbling grout.

    If you have more money to devote to upgrading the kitchen, consider:

    - Replacing older countertops with new granite countertops,
    - Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances.

  4. Ceilings
    If your home was built prior to the 1980s and has a popcorn-finished ceiling will want to have it tested for asbestos. If the test is positive, you'll want to replace the ceiling before speaking to a real estate agent. Now that buyers understand the potential health risks connected to asbestos, they won't consider a home with the material.

    Even if the test comes back negative, you should still consider having the ceilings replaced. Not only does the popcorn finish give the house a dated feel, but it's also extremely difficult to keep clean or paint, which serves as a turn-off for any prospective buyers.

  5. Remove the Clutter
    It's difficult for prospective buyers to fully appreciate the full potential of your home if it's full of clutter, so after deciding to sell your home, put any items you can temporarily live without into storage.

With these tactics and fixes, there's no doubt buyers will fall in love with your home. Ask your real estate agent for more tips on how to get the most out of your sale.


Staging Tactics That Are Proven To Wow Buyers

If you're planning to sell your home, consider staging it. From decluttering and cleaning to rearranging and styling, successful home staging can make you money. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, most sellers' agents agree a well-staged home increases the dollar amount home buyers offer.

If you are an HGTV fan, you know home staging is when the "pros" go through a home clearing out the clutter, highlighting its strengths, and presenting each room in the best light that will attract the largest group of potential home buyers.  

But, do you need to hire a professional stager? Maybe not. Use these six tips to manage the styling and upgrading of your home to fetch a higher sales price.

  1. Ban the Clutter
    Nothing turns away prospective buyers quite as quickly as clutter. For some buyers, clutter makes it impossible for them to see the home because all they can see is the mess. For others, clutter makes them feel as if the home does not have enough space for their own needs because it does not have enough room for yours. Clear away the clutter, so the home's spacious design shows through.

  2. Spruce up the Front Door
    When selling your home, the front door of your home is the first thing most people notice, so make sure it really shines. Give it a fresh coat of paint, add some outside, potted plants, and a new rug. If the front door is inviting and welcoming, the home will sell faster and for a better price.

  3. Place Furniture Strategically
    The placement of your furniture can add to or detract from your home. In the main living areas, put the furniture into conversation groupings rather than pushing it up against the wall. Then, in other rooms, make sure the furniture accentuates the home's positive features while drawing the eye away from negative ones. Remove some furniture, if needed, to help the room look as large as possible.

  4. Spruce up a Neglected Bedroom
    Do you have a guestroom or a master bedroom that you've neglected over the years? Take some time to spruce it up. Transform the guest room into a kid's bedroom (even if you don't have kids) to make the home appealing to families who do. Make sure the bed is the focal point of your master bedroom space. Aim for symmetry where clutter rules. With these tips, your home will be much more appealing.

  5. Add Lighting
    Most homes do not have the right amount of lighting for proper home staging techniques. Even if your home has plenty of natural light, you want to ensure that you have 100 watts of lighting for every 50 square feet of living space. Adding lighting on multiple levels of the room, including overhead lights and table lamps, will make the space feel warmer and inviting.

  6. Clean and Organize the Kitchen, Inside and Out
    The kitchen will make or break your home's ability to shine, so spend a significant amount of time here as you stage the property. Make sure you clean it well and pack away all clutter so the countertops can be clear. Then, clean out each cupboard and pantry to make it look like it has plenty of storage space. Remember, potential buyers will be looking inside these spaces. Finally, update any outdated appliances and cover any ugly cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. Don't forget to invest in a new sink faucet if an upgrade is needed.

In a competitive market or in a situation where you need to sell your home quickly, staging is the key. Keep these tips in mind, and don't be afraid to talk to a professional stager. Often, the cost of professional staging is made back with a higher sales price and less time on the market!


Sellers: How To Have A Stress-Free Move

If you've ever moved and had a stressful experience, or you've heard horror stories from your friends or family when they sold and moved houses, you may wonder if a stress-free move is even possible. The answer is: "You Bet!"

Buying a house is a huge deal. If you've just started house hunting or are already under contract, moving is the next giant step in this process. Moving can be stressful and chaotic. The good news is packing and moving can be relatively effortless with some planning and organization. Use these simple steps to get started:

  • Get Organized
    Having a plan is critical if you are going to make your move stress-free. Begin by making a list of everything you need to do and divide it into weeks. Allow yourself enough time to complete all the tasks.

  • Start Packing Well in Advance
    Time is not always our friend. If you can, start packing at least eight weeks ahead of time. (If you have more time — even better.)

  • Don't Move it All
    Instead of trying to figure out how you are going to do it all, first determine if you really even need it. Inventory all of your belongings and decide what to donate, sell or toss and what will actually be moved. Decluttering and simplifying your life can actually help lessen the load, and moving into a new home is a great time to do it.

  • Label Your Boxes
    While tossing everything into boxes and sorting it once you move seems like a great idea, organized packing will pay off in the long run. Label each box with detailed descriptions. Color-coding boxes by room make it easier when it comes time to unpack.

  • Make a Survival Kit
    Just like anyone going on a great journey, it's important to pack a survival kit. In it should be the basic necessities that you and your family will need at some point during the day, the things you just can't make it through a day without. In your kit should be things like:
    • Toiletries
    • Water
    • Snacks
    • Phone chargers

  • Get Familiar with Your New Digs
    Familiarize yourself with your new home and community before moving day. Spend some time driving around, determining where grocery stores, shopping areas, and restaurants are located. When moving day comes, you won't waste time searching for hardware stores or places to eat. Spending time in your new home can also help you better envision where your belongings should be placed.

  • Hire a Professional Mover
    Perhaps the most stressful part of packing and moving is the actual process. It's true that doing all the heavy lifting will save on your bottom line, but it's going to cost you in terms of a sore back and added stress. Letting a professional mover handle everything takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process for you and ensures that moving day will go as smoothly as possible.

No matter how you decide to de-stress your moving day, it's important you keep everything in perspective. Don't decide that all your boxes need to be unpacked in one day. Make sure you take time for yourself on moving day to relax and reflect on what you've accomplished.


Here's How To Sell A Home When You Have Pets

You love your dog or cat; however, when listing your home for sale, many potential buyers will not be as enamored as you are. In fact, your pet might be the reason some buyers bypass your home entirely and move to another pet-free option.

Here's How To Sell A Home When You Have Pets

The Problem Prospective Buyers Have with Pets

Many buyers will say there are two reasons that prevent them from touring homes with pets:

  1. They are not comfortable around pets--especially dogs — and won't enter a home that currently has one.
  2. Your pet changes the way your home smells. Some buyers won't buy a house they feel has a pet odor.

The good news is that there are things you can do to ensure that your pet and prospective buyers are comfortable.

Relocate Your Pet

You might not like the idea of living without your dog, but it's an option you may have to consider to sell your home.

If you have a friend or relative that is willing to provide a temporary home for your dog, consider their offer. In fact, it will be good for both your dog and prospective buyers. Your dog won't have the stress of strange people coming and going, and prospective buyers will be comfortable while in your house.

Create a Safe Place for Your Pet

If providing your pup with a home away from home isn't an option, provide them with a secure place while prospective buyers tour your property. This can be a neighbor's house, an outdoor kennel, or even an indoor crate. It's important that your pet is comfortable in this area before prospective buyers start walking through your home.

Clean up After Your Pets

First impressions are important during the home selling process. Before prospective buyers arrive, clean your home thoroughly. This includes:

  • Putting toys away
  • Cleaning litter boxes
  • Vacuuming pet hair
  • Laundering pet beds

Make sure your pet looks groomed and well-cared for.

Repair Pet Damage

Go over your entire property and repair any damage your family pet has done. This includes:

  • Filling in holes they've dug in the yard
  • Replacing stained carpets
  • Repairing or removing damaged furniture
  • Repairing or replacing torn or chewed drapes/curtains/blinds

Consult Your Veterinarian

Selling your home is stressful for you and your pets. It can take a toll on their health, particularly if they're a senior pet or one that already struggles with health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to make the process easier for your pet.

Throughout the entire process, make sure your pet knows that they're still an important member of your family.


Need To Sell Fast? These Tricks Will Help

Before you sink the "for sale" sign in your front yard, make sure your house looks its best with these simple and inexpensive home improvement projects that will help make your home sell faster.

  1. Consider Curb Appeal
    You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Your lawn, landscaping, and entrance to your home are the first things buyers see. Make that first impression memorable by cutting the grass, weeding, trimming hedges, and raking leaves. Polishing (or adding new) front-door hardware and a new mailbox can give a visual boost. Some colorful plants and a few bags of mulch can spruce up the outside appearance of your home without breaking the bank.

  2. Step Up Your Storage
    Clutter is the enemy when you're selling a house. If your closets and storage areas are cramped, lighten the load (beyond decluttering) by adding do-it-yourself closet storage systems. Top candidates for storage units are entry closets, kitchen pantries, linen closets, and bedrooms. When all is said and done, your closets will be more organized and functional while you're still living in the home and will attract potential buyers when you're ready to sell.

  3. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift
    The kitchen is the heart of your home. If it looks as if it's seen better days, give your oven, microwave, countertops, and sink some extra "TLC" with a deep cleaning. Buyers typically focus on a home's kitchen; consequently, it should sparkle the minute it hits the market.

    If your kitchen needs more than just a little elbow grease, a few inexpensive cosmetic changes can go a long way. Give it a makeover with a fresh coat of neutral paint, new hardware for drawers and cabinets, and up-to-date lighting and plumbing fixtures.

  4. Spiff Up Your Bathroom
    The bathroom — just like the kitchen — is a high priority for home buyers. Buyers love the idea of experiencing a five-star luxury experience in the comfort of their new homes. Since a complete bathroom renovation may not be in your plans, add the wow factor buyers are looking for by upgrading your sink, tub, shower, and lighting fixtures. A fresh coat of paint and new towels will give your bathroom a new look. A good, deep cleaning can make a drab shower and dingy floors shine again.

  5. Lighting Makes a Difference
    When you're selling a house, poor lighting can detract from your home's best features. Installing new light fixtures can give your house an updated look and highlight the best features of your house for home buyers. Replace old light bulbs with new ones with a higher wattage. You want buyers to see your home's best-selling points as they walk through it.

Buyers typically don't want to think about all the work they need to do in their new home. These fixes can help make your home a showstopper and will help move your property faster.


5 Ways Sellers Can Sabotage Their Own Sales

Is the yard a mess? Do the shutters need painting?  Have you just cost yourself a contract by making a few simple mistakes. Here is a list of five home-selling mistakes to avoid with tips on how to correct them.

  1. Dirty Kitchen, Dirty Bathrooms
    For most people, the kitchen is one of the marquee attractions when looking at a potential home. Bathrooms are less an attraction than a necessity in most cases, but they're just as important. Clean both rooms thoroughly, including grout, tiles, and those annoying, hard-to-reach areas around appliances.

  2. A Messy Yard
    When acting on tips for how to sell your house, it's easy to get so caught up in preparing the inside of your home that you forget about the outside. It's also a big mistake. Your front lawn is an advertisement, even to people who are just passing by. Keep your lawn healthy, your hedges trimmed, and your yard free of clutter.

  3. Old Appliances
    While it may seem counter-intuitive to purchase new appliances for a home you're about to leave, doing so can make it easier to sell your home. You don't need the most advanced, high-end appliances unless you're appealing to the luxury market. The important thing is that the buyer knows your appliances have modern features, work well, and won't have to be replaced anytime soon.

  4. Old Carpets, Odd Colors
    While that extra-shaggy carpet or lime-green sitting room may have seemed a good idea at the time, it might not go over so well with potential buyers. Opt for hardwood floors or new carpet instead, and paint those extra-vibrant rooms with more conventional colors. You can always get creative again when decorating your next home!

  5. Hovering Sellers
    When showing your home, there's nothing wrong with a warm welcome and friendly rapport. Just make sure you give the potential buyer room to breathe. Allow them to look around on their own, and let them know you're available to answer any questions. They'll appreciate that much more than a guided tour.

Avoid these common mistakes and you can be sure buyers will want to bite! And don't forget to talk to your real estate agent for even more advice on selling your home.


The Home Seller's Survival Guide

There's no doubt that you're going to be busy while you work to sell your home, but focusing your energy in the right places will make your life much easier. Better yet, a bit of focused prep can make your home more appealing to potential buyers and ultimately makes it easier to find the right match as quickly as possible. Use this "survival guide" for selling your home to get started.

  1. Your Real Estate Agent – Working with a real estate agent that you trust really does make a huge difference when selling a house. Ask for referrals, potential interview choices, and choose the agent that best matches your needs.

  2. Consider Cost – Choosing the right price is one area where your real estate agent can be a big help because they have done the market research to understand trends in local real estate prices. Setting a fair price goes a long way toward enticing curious shoppers to take that first look and enticing interested buyers to make a real offer.

  3. Keep It Clean – Showings (and open houses) are simply part of the home-selling process, and you'll need to keep a clean, neat home if you want to make a positive impression. Make sure that floors, walls, corners, kitchen surfaces, appliances, and everything else look its absolute best. It also helps to put together a cleaning prep checklist for days when you'll be showing your home.

  4. Clutter-Free – This is huge, and it's an easy step to miss if you'll be living in the home until you sell it. The less clutter – furniture included – the better. You want shoppers to be able to envision their own lives in your home. Consider renting a storage unit to safely store non-essential items until you are ready to move into your next home.

  5. Maintenance and Repairs – DIY repairs are a great way to save some money if you have the experience necessary to do the job. For bigger maintenance tasks, it simply makes more sense to hire a contractor. Putting off repairs now just means more headaches and costs later when it's time for inspection.

  6. Landscaping – The outside of your house is where shoppers form their first impression, so be sure that your landscaping is looking its best. Keep up with outdoor maintenance, including cutting the lawn, for as long as you'll be showing your home. You might even consider adding some new landscaping features for increased curb appeal.

  7. A Welcoming Gesture – On days when you'll be showing, it's a good idea to make or buy some light refreshments for your visitors. Some fresh cookies, fruit, and coffee/tea will make shoppers feel right at home. Your real estate agent will help get the word out about your open house and can walk you through the process so you'll be ready to go.

Your real estate agent will help make sure that people show up, so the most important thing you can do when selling a house is to make sure that your home is always ready to show. That part becomes significantly easier to maintain after you get the initial work out of the way, as long as you keep up with it consistently. With a little teamwork, you'll find the right buyer in no time.


Your Guide To Selling A Home In Spring

Spring is typically the busiest season in real estate. If you're thinking about selling your house, then this is truly a can't-miss opportunity. Buyers are hitting the market in force after a winter of hibernation, curb appeal is springing back, and warmer weather makes it easier to finish chores around the home. Now all you need is to get your home — and yourself — ready for the busy season ahead.

  1. Create a To-Do List
    This step is easy to miss while you're busy buzzing around from one project to the next, but it's really worth taking the time to create a to-do list. Order tasks by priority, and be sure to update your list as you add new projects or complete existing ones. Once you have your list, post it in a place where you'll see it often.

  2. Prune Your Shrubbery and Trees
    While you're pruning, consider whether you'd like to add any new landscaping features or outdoor lighting to boost curb appeal.

  3. Declutter Your Home
    Buyers want to be able to picture what their life would be like in your home, so it's a good idea to remove clutter and personal possessions as you prepare for selling your home. A clutter-free home is also much easier to keep clean between showings.

  4. Property Inspection
    Having your home inspected will help you develop a game plan and reveal potential issues which could halt a sale if they go unnoticed. Ask around for referrals, and look for an inspector with a thorough track record.

  5. Meet with Your Agent
    The real estate market never truly sleeps, and your real estate agent is always hard at work. Schedule a time to talk strategy and get answers to your questions before the busy season begins.

  6. Home Improvements
    This is a great time to tackle minor home improvement projects like painting, power-washing outdoor surfaces, or refreshing your flooring. Every little improvement makes a difference, but you'll probably want to save the big remodeling projects for your next home.

  7. Prepare Yourself
    Selling your home takes a lot of time and energy, so it's a good idea to get yourself ready for the selling season. Develop a plan, coordinate with other household members, and maybe even set aside a bit of time for relaxation before showings and open houses begin.

With the right preparations in place, you'll be ready to hit the ground running during the busiest months of the real estate calendar. Selling your house is much easier when you take the time to plan, prepare and put your strategy into action. The right real estate agent and willingness to research on your own are the key ingredients to simplify selling your house this spring.


Impress Buyers With These Staging Shortcuts

Home staging highlights the best features of your house and makes it more marketable by giving it a clean, organized, and neutral appearance. It also makes your home more appealing to the greatest pool of prospective buyers.

Hiring a professional stager is a good investment because they have the design expertise and time to get the job done right. If you don't have the budget to hire a professional, follow these six home staging tips to get you on your way.

  1. Conquer the Clutter
    The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to declutter. Decluttering helps buyers imagine themselves living in your home. Take a good hard look at what you have and decide for yourself what you can live without. Pack, donate or store those things you can live without for the time being — this includes furniture. When professional stagers prep your home for sale, they often remove a good deal of furniture to make your rooms look bigger.

  2. Make Your Home Sparkling Clean
    A sparkling clean home gives prospective buyers the impression that it has been well-cared-for. Mop and vacuum your floors, dust, and wash windows and baseboards. Don't forget about organizing your cupboards, under your sinks, and in your closets. Assume home buyers will inspect every corner of your home.

  3. Slap on a Fresh Coat of Paint
    Repainting your interior is one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to spruce up your home. Choose beige or taupe for living areas and neutral green or blue for bathrooms.

  4. Make Repairs
    Repair squeaky doors, leaking faucets, bathtub caulking with mold, or missing light bulbs. Now is the time to break out the toolbox and repair things you've neglected.

  5. Accessorize
    Decluttering is an important step in staging; however, once your home looks streamlined, add back a few accessories to convey the style of the home you want to project. A few lamps and pictures can create the right vibe.

  6. Boost Curb Appeal
    The way your home looks from the street can put dollars in your pocket and cut the time your home takes to sell. Prospective buyers thinking of touring your home will do a drive-by first to decide whether or not to schedule a showing. Lure in more buyers with some good old-fashioned spit shine and polish along with a splash of color. Power wash siding and walkways, wash windows, plant blooming flowers and greenery, repaint and stain as needed.

Making your home shine is a critical component of a successful sale. If you need more tips, your real estate agent will know how to transform your home so buyers will bite.


The Best-Kept Secrets To Selling Your Home

Many sellers rush to put their homes on the market without giving too much thought to what it takes to grab a home buyer's attention. As you consider listing your home, there are a number of "secrets" you can use to take your house from ordinary to extraordinary in the eyes of homebuyers.

Make your home stand out from the competition by following these selling steps.

  1. The Price is Right.
    Your real estate agent will help you determine what similar homes in your community are currently listed for and what similar homes have sold for in the past. Evaluate the features these homes may have over yours and vice versa. Your goal is to get the best price for your home. This means pricing your home right, so it will remain competitive within the local real estate market.

  2. Preparation Is Important.
    Before your house even enters the market, there are a few things you might want to do. While there are a few buyers out there that are looking for a fixer-upper, most buyers would like to purchase a home, move straight in and live comfortably. This means that updating a few things will go a long way in getting buyers to put your home on their shortlist. Make sure your home is in good repair. Replace things that aren't working or need to be updated. A new splash of paint inside and outside will make a house feel, smell, and look clean and new. You want the buyer to leave your home with the best impression they could possibly have.

  3. Curb Appeal.
    To get your home on a buyer's radar, getting them inside your home is your first task. This means making the outside of your home look appealing. The first thing a buyer sees — other than pictures on the internet — is the outside of your home. If the paint is peeling, plants are dead, and the grass is knee-high, it is likely that buyers will keep driving and never see the potential that is inside of your home.

    It doesn't take much effort to make the outside of your home inviting. Stand on your front lawn and think as if you were buying the home. Does the front door need a new coat of paint? Could the landscaping be spruced up with a new layer of mulch? A few little changes and you can make the outside of your home stand out.

  4. Staging.
    Staging your home is one of the important home selling tips. Staging your home is all about bringing the best of your home out and downplaying the parts that may not be so good. The first thing to do when staging is to clear the clutter. If you have big furniture, store it. You want your home to appear as if it is spacious. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in a home, so remove all personal items and trinkets. A buyer may look at two houses that are the exact same size; however, if yours feels more spacious, then yours is the one they will likely choose. Other things to consider are, updating hardware, lighting, kitchen cabinets, and using a neutral color scheme throughout.

A little effort on your part will go a long way to increasing the chances of your home selling quickly. Following these steps can make your home selling process fun and pain-free.


Essential Fixes To Make After An Inspection

If you accepted an offer with a home inspection contingency, be aware that your buyer is entitled to renegotiate or walk away based on the results of the home inspection. Therefore, many consider the home inspection one of the final hurdles to clear before closing.

Home inspections can uncover all sorts of concerns ranging from minor to significant. While you aren't legally obligated to pay for any repairs prior to closing, failing to fix some essential items can ultimately cause the deal to fall through. Below, we'll focus on what sellers should fix and what concerns you can most likely let slide:

Essential Seller Repairs

If an issue uncovered in the home inspection leads to health or safety concerns or raises questions regarding whether the home is inhabitable, it's reasonable for buyers to ask sellers to address it prior to closing. Some of these more serious concerns include:

  • Significant Structural Concerns - Visible cracks, structural framing defects, sagging roofs, or foundation problems
  • Fire or Electrical Hazards - Old electrical systems,  double-tapping of circuit breakers, a lack of GFCI protection, etc.
  • Pest Infestation - Ants, termites, rodents
  • Water Damage - Major leaks, plumbing issues, mold damage.

Again, while the seller doesn't have to make these repairs, the buyer is within their right to walk away if these aren't addressed. Also, in some cases, the buyer's lender may require that some of these issues are taken care of before the buyer can secure financing, especially if the problems are serious.

At the end of the day, everything is negotiable. If you're in a hurry to sell, you can also offer to lower your sale price as opposed to fixing the issues.

Non-Essential Repairs

While it's usually good to fix doorknobs, loose boards, light switches, and even paint prior to listing your property, sellers generally aren't on the hook for cosmetic repairs or problems caused by general "wear and tear." As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't worry about any minor repairs that cost less than $100. Buyers will most often prioritize the largest, most serious concerns.

Selling Your Home As-Is

Sellers always have the option to sell a home "as is," which signals to buyers there is no room for negotiation on repairs. This might be the best option if you need to sell quickly regardless of what issues turn up.

Keep in mind, buyers will still conduct a home inspection and can still ask to negotiate the sale price based on the results of the inspection. However, in this instance, you wouldn't be on the hook to finance and manage the repairs yourself.

The home inspection is often one of the most stressful parts of a real estate transaction, and it can be somewhat unpredictable. As a seller, it's not your responsibility to fix every item, but you take care of the major issues. During the process, rely on your real estate agent to help you negotiate the terms and details.


Questions Sellers Are Afraid To Ask Agents

Selling a home is filled with complexities that can be difficult to navigate, especially when going through the process for the first time. As a seller, you should always remember no question is stupid. Asking as many questions as possible can help you avoid costly mistakes, and your real estate agent is there to help educate you about the process.

To help put clients at ease, here is a quick list of common real estate questions sellers are often too afraid to ask:

  • How Are Real Estate Agents Paid?
    Your real estate agent will do a lot of work upfront to help you sell your home and maximize your sale price. However, real estate agents are not paid upfront or hourly. They also do not receive a salary. A real estate agent is only paid when your home sells, and they receive a percentage of the home sale as a commission.

    Typically, the buyer's agent and the seller's agent both receive 3% of the sale price, and that commission is usually paid by the seller. Many times, real estate agents then split a portion of their commission with their broker as well.

  • Do I Have To Relocate My Pets While My Home Is On The Market?
    Pets come with so much joy, but they can occasionally make the selling process a bit inconvenient. While many people love cats and dogs, some people do not. While relocating your pets may not be feasible, you should make every attempt to eliminate pet odors and put away toys or accessories. You don't want visitors tripping over dog bowls when touring your listing!

  • Do I Need Listing Photos?
    Staging your home and taking listing photos can be a bit inconvenient at times for sellers. It can be difficult to live in a staged home, and keeping things pristine at all times can be a lot of work. However, listing photos are essential for attracting buyers to your property. Most home shoppers browse listings online, so listing photos have never been more important. The manner in which you stage your home combined with your listing photos can have a major impact on your sale price.

  • Can I Leave Something Out Of The Sale?
    While buyers typically don't expect sellers to leave furniture, they do expect them to leave most appliances. As a seller, it's your right to exclude anything you'd like from the home sale, but you must disclose what's not included upfront. Your real estate agent will usually add notes to the MLS listing. Just keep in mind excluding major appliances, lighting fixtures, or anything else can negatively impact your listing and sale price.

  • Can I Decorate For The Holidays?
    While agents usually advise clients to keep decorations to a minimum, decorating for the holidays is perfectly acceptable. Just do so tastefully and don't go overboard. Too many lights or decorations can be distracting.

Selling your home can be a fast-paced, complicated process, and you're sure to have tons of questions along the way. Even if something might seem obvious, don't hesitate to double-check with your agent. Your agent's job is to make your home sale as smooth as possible.


When Do You Get Paid For Your Home Sale?

Selling your home is akin to cashing in on your largest investment. If you've paid off your mortgage or built-up a significant amount of home equity, you might be eagerly awaiting that large deposit into your bank account. However, you may want to temper your expectations until after the closing date. Real estate transactions are fairly complicated, and there are many moving parts. Therefore, you most likely won't receive any funds until after loan documents are executed, which typically takes place on or shortly after the closing date. Here is what to expect:

You May Receive An Earnest Deposit
Most offers include an earnest money deposit, which is money provided by the buyer as a sign of good faith and a signal they're committed to following through on the home sale if all contingencies are satisfied. However, the earnest deposit is typically not made available to you until after the closing date, so you won't be able to spend it or deposit it into your account. Rather, it's held in an escrow account and may be returned to the buyer under certain conditions.

The earnest deposit varies depending on the offer but is usually 1% to 5% of the sale price. Once you accept the offer and receive earnest money, you are expected to take the property off of the market and the closing process will begin.

You Can Expect To Receive Payment Around The Closing Date
Real estate transactions typically take 50 to 60 days to finalize, so you'll likely have a waiting period before you receive your funds. The exact date you receive your money actually can vary depending on where you live. Laws and regulations that apply to mortgage closings can vary by state. There are generally two different types of closings:

  • Dry Funding Closings: All paperwork is completed and executed on the closing date, but the documents required to close the loan don't have to be completed at this time. Consequently, mortgage funds aren't immediately disbursed until a few days later. A dry closing purposely slows down the closing process to help eliminate funding issues. Dry funding closings are only available in certain states.
  • Wet Funding Closings: Unlike dry closings, wet funding closings require loan documents are executed on the closing date. Therefore, funds are disbursed to the seller with 1-2 days after the closing date. Most states require wet funding closings.

In either scenario, payment is usually made through a wire transfer into a bank account (usually the faster option) or as a cashier's check.

Selling your home can be an emotional process, and many of us are eager to see the cash return. Just be patient and work with your agent throughout the closing process, and you'll be paid before you know it.


5 Signs It's The Right Time To Sell Your Home

Determining the perfect time to sell your home is never easy, but when the universe aligns, selling at just the right time can ultimately influence the speed of your home sale as well as the sale price. However, defining the right time ultimately comes down to numerous economic and personal factors. The housing market fluctuates over time, and our personal needs evolve throughout our lifetimes. Both are common reasons why the average person stays in a single home for seven to ten years.

If you're wondering if it's the right time to sell your home, here are five signs that could help make your decision:

  • The Market Is Hot
    The state of the housing market often influences a homeowner's decision to sell. For the last couple of years, we've seen the hottest seller's market in decades. Housing inventory has been at an all-time low, which means far more interested buyers than sellers. Your home is worth what somebody will pay for it, and with so many home shoppers on the market, you might be able to earn top dollar. While the state of the market shouldn't be your only deciding factor, it can definitely influence your decision to sell.

  • Your Finances Are Changing
    If you've built up a decent amount of home equity, your home may be your most valuable asset. If your finances change, for example from a career change, then selling your home can provide you with the capital to make life changes more easily.

  • You're Struggling To Keep Up With Maintenance
    Taking care of a home is a big-time commitment. Lawn care, repairs, and ongoing maintenance require a lot of time and energy. As we grow older, housework can become less appealing. If this sounds like your situation, it might be time to sell your home and think about downsizing.

  • Your Home Wouldn't Benefit From Any Major Renovations
    If you've invested significant funding in home renovations, such as a finished basement, a new roof, new flooring, or updated appliances — you might be ready to realize a return and cash in on your investment. If you've maxed out all major updates and renovations and the market is right, you could stand to make a nice profit.

  • You Need More Space
    If your family is outgrowing your current home, it could be a good indication that it's time to sell. Perhaps you have a new baby on the way or will be having a relative move in. A need for additional living and storage is one of the most common reasons homeowners decide to list their property.

Your home is your biggest investment, so it's important to make sure the time to sell is right. The decision to sell ultimately requires one to weigh economic factors with person situations.


Sellers: Prioritize These Kitchen Improvements

A bigger and brighter kitchen is always on the list of top home features buyers are willing to move for. For those who love to cook and entertain guests, a nice kitchen is a must-have. As a seller, this means investing a little time and effort into sprucing up your kitchen can be well worth the time and energy.

Because the kitchen is such an important selling feature, we often recommend our clients invest in some upgrades and repairs before listing. While a full remodel may not make sense financially, here are some upgrades you might want to consider this year:

  • Enhance Your Lighting
    Everybody wants a bright kitchen, so if you're lighting fixtures aren't getting the job done, it might be time for an upgrade. Consider adding new fixtures over your kitchen table, island, or sink. We also love the look of dimmable under cabinet lighting. You can also line your backsplash with string lights to create a nice look.

  • Update Your Countertops
    If your countertops are in poor condition or have an unflattering color, upgrading them can be well worth the investment. While traditional granite countertops have been popular for decades, buyers prefer quartz these days. Not only are quartz countertops nice and sturdy, but they come in a wide range of colors and designs.

  • Upgrade Your Appliances
    New appliances can be a big investment, but you can see a nice ROI. Buyers are immediately drawn to brand new stainless steel appliances. If your refrigerator or dishwasher are dated or in bad shape, an upgrade can do you good and wow your buyers at the same time.

  • Add Or Replace Your Backsplash
    It doesn't take long for kitchen backsplashes to become dirty and dated, and don't underestimate the power of a makeover. The great thing about backsplashes is you can install a wide range of colors or patterns. Of course, classic white subway tile always works well too.

  • Refresh Your Cabinets
    Brand new cabinets can come with a hefty price tag, so if you're not feeling this upgrade, there are easier and less expensive ways to refresh your cabinets. Adding a new coat of paint is the easiest and fastest way to give them a fresh look. You can also replace any doorknobs or drawer pulls.

  • Stage The Room
    Once you've completed your kitchen upgrades, take some time to stage the room. You can really make your kitchen appear larger by putting away countertop appliances and getting rid of clutter. Open up your blinds or window treatments to maximize natural light and remove any personal items (including photos and magnets from the refrigerator). Sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to stage a room.

The kitchen is often considered one of the most important rooms of the house when it comes to selling a home. It serves as a gathering place where food is prepared and guests are entertained. Looking at your kitchen through the eyes of a potential buyer will definitely help your home sale.


Selling Your Home? Here Are Questions You Should Ask Your Agent

If you're planning to sell your home, the quality and experience of your real estate agent can have a big impact on your return. Real estate agents can vary in terms of experience, responsiveness, and negotiation skills. Finding one that can work for you can require a bit of research on the front end, but it's well worth the effort.

If you're trying to determine if an agent is a good fit, an initial interview or introductory conversation can go a long way. Not sure what to ask? Here are some important questions that you'll want to cover:

  • How Do You Calculate Listing Prices?
    Your agent is incentivized to get you the best possible return on your home sale. While you don't want to leave money on the table, there can also be consequences to pricing too high. An overpriced home can turn off buyers and allow your home to sit on the market for too long, which can also make buyers nervous. Therefore, you want to be sure your real estate agent knows how to calculate a sale price accurately.

    Your real estate agent should look at comps (comparable local home sales in the past year) to gauge what other similar size homes have sold for in your community. Historical data is the best way to gauge the market and find the right price.

  • How Will We Communicate?
    Responsiveness is such an important characteristic of a good agent. When selling your most valuable investment, you want an agent who keeps you in the loop. It's always a good idea to ask about his or her preferred method of communication (phone, text, email) and set expectations around the frequency in which you'd like to receive updates.

  • What Are The Best Features Of My Home?
    As a homeowner, you're likely aware of the attractive and unattractive features of your property. Your real estate agent's job is to tell you how the market will perceive those features. Ask your agent's opinion on your home's top selling points and how he or she plans to promote or market those features on the listing.

  • How Do I Prepare My Home For The Market?
    The answer to this question will tell you a lot about a potential real estate agent. Properly staging a home takes a lot of practice, but it's one of the most important aspects of selling a home. First, a good agent will likely recommend a thorough deep clean and decluttering process. During the staging process, your agent may recommend inexpensive repairs or upgrades that help boost your sale price. Then your agent should do an extensive walk-through and make recommendations on positioning certain decor and maximizing light exposure.

It's always worth taking the time to gauge an agent's experience and professionalism. Finding a good one could ultimately result in more money in your pocket.


Sellers: Why You Shouldn't Ignore Your Basement

If you have a dark, unfinished basement that is primarily used for storage or laundry, you might be wondering if it's worth the time and investment to enhance the space prior to selling. After all, basements are versatile and can serve many different functions, all of which make them an attractive feature for buyers.

While finishing your basement prior to selling can serve as a significant value-add, recovering your entire investment can be challenging. Therefore, it's often not recommended to invest heavily in a new basement, unless you plan on using it yourself for a few years before selling. However, there are many affordable upgrades and enhancements you can do to make the space more appealing:

  • Enhance Your Lighting
    You'd be surprised how much of a difference good lighting can make in a basement. Basements are often thought of as dark and gloomy, but good lighting can really help reshape a buyer's perception. Switch to brighter LED lights. If you don't have enough lighting fixtures, invest in some standing lamps or table lamps. If your basement does receive any natural light, make sure nothing is blocking the window.

  • Add A Home Office
    If your basement is already finished, staging a home office can make a significant difference. With so many people working from home, a home office is a necessity these days. You can easily find an inexpensive desk and chair and add in a bookshelf or some filing cabinets. A home office is a great way to demonstrate the versatility of the space.

  • Partition The Room
    It can be hard to make the basement appealing when it's home to a water heater, washer, dryer, furnace, and other household appliances. If this is the case, you can attempt to divide the appliances from the remaining space with standing partitions or screens. Room dividers are very affordable and can make a big difference.

  • Add Vinyl Flooring
    If you're looking for an easy and affordable way to cover up the concrete, consider adding some vinyl flooring. Vinyl is becoming a popular option for basement flooring — it not only looks great, but it's also easy to install.

  • Keep It Dry
    The single most important thing a seller can do is keep the basement dry. Signs of water or dampness can be a major red flag for buyers, as it can signal more serious issues with the foundation. It might be worth investing in a professional to ensure the space is waterproof.

Sellers shouldn't feel like a full basement makeover is necessary, but keep in mind a little work can go a long way. At the end of the day, you don't want people to dread going down into the basement. Instead, make it a place that is inviting and accessible.


Which Season Is The Best For Selling?

It's a well-known fact that the real estate market cools off in the fall and winter and picks up in the spring, but what is really the best season to sell your property? The answer ultimately depends on your situation and location. The reality is each season comes with its own unique advantages and challenges. To help you determine the best season for selling, we'll break down the top advantage and challenge of each season below:

Selling In The Spring

Many people believe spring is the best time to sell your home, but that really depends on where you live. While spring is often the most popular time to shop, some southern states experience intense weather in late spring. Competition is also at its peak. Here are some of the benefits

  • Advantages: Warmer weather in most areas and tax refund checks mean more buyers are hitting the market.
  • Disadvantages: More buyers also means more sellers, so the competition begins to really pick up. Kids are also still in school, so moving is more difficult.

Selling In The Summer

Statistics show that late June has the highest number of closings, indicating summer is an ideal time to sell. It's also the most popular time to move, especially because school is out. However, extreme heat in some areas of the country coupled with vacation times can drag out the closing process.

  • Advantages: Longer days and warm weather means more buyers are hunting. Many buyers are also motivated to find a home before school starts.
  • Disadvantages: Weather, vacations, and busy schedules may delay closings. Plus, competition is likely still very high.

Selling In The Fall

Once school starts, there is a noticeable decline in real estate activity, but that doesn't mean fall is a bad time to sell. There are still many buyers on the market that couldn't secure a home in the spring or summer. Selling in late September / or early October has both pros and cons:

  • Advantages: Fewer listings mean less competition, and many buyers are extra motivated to close before winter. It's also easier to find home repair professionals.
  • Disadvantages: Cooler weather might keep buyers away. Those who are shopping may be more demanding due to less competition. Curb appeal also generally declines in the fall as landscaping begins to deteriorate. 

Selling In The Winter

December is often considered to be the slowest month for real estate closings. Cold weather means fewer shoppers in most of the country, but competition is probably at its lowest point of the year. If you live in Florida, Arizona, or Southern California, winter is likely a great time to sell.

  • Advantages: There is less competition, and buyers are likely highly motivated. 
  • Disadvantage: There are fewer shoppers, especially around the holidays. Depending on location, it can be a difficult time to make renovations. Many buyers are looking for a deal.

It's certainly possible to sell your home any time of the year, and so often the right season depends on your property, location, and situation. Your real estate agent is a great resource to help you assess the market and determine the best time to list your home.


Getting An Appraisal Before Listing: What You Should Know

Understanding the true value of a home is critical for both buyers and sellers. A home appraisal is an important piece of a buyer's mortgage application process and is always required by lenders. However, sometimes sellers are interested in conducting their own home appraisal to determine what a home is actually worth before setting an asking price.

While there are some instances where a seller appraisal is useful (and even necessary), they're not always advantageous. Here are some things to know before seeking a seller appraisal.

Examples of When Sellers Should Consider An Appraisal
A buyer's lender will require an appraisal, so paying for your own can be a waste of time and money in many circumstances. Instead, your agent can use comps (comparable nearby home sales) to help set your sale price. However, there are a few uncommon circumstances when a seller appraisal should be considered:

  • Your home has unique features - Comps are often used as a comparison point when setting an asking price. However, if your home has totally uncommon features, such as a tennis court, solar roof panels, or an indoor pool — an appraisal prior to listing can be helpful.
  • You don't have many neighbors - Since comps are used to determine your sale price, a lack of neighbors can make things challenging. If you live in a remote area, you might want to consider your own appraisal.
  • You're selling a lot of land - If your property is more than a couple of acres, an appraisal might be necessary to determine if the land can support development or can be sold separate from the home.

Why A Seller Appraisal Might Be A Waste Of Time
Unless your home possesses extraordinary or unique features, a seller appraisal might be a waste of time for two reasons:

  • Your buyer's lender won't accept it - If you think a seller's appraisal will speed up the closing process, think again. Lenders generally do not accept seller-sponsored appraisals, so they'll likely do their own anyway.
  • Buyers might not trust it - When a seller appraisal is used to set an asking price, buyers may be less likely to trust it. Buyers may assume the. This could lead to less interest or lowball offers.
  • You might sell too low - What your home is worth and what someone is willing to pay for it are often two separate things. An appraisal only takes into account what your home is worth. On the other hand, comps are a more accurate reflection of what the market is willing to pay. By setting your asking price based on appraisal value alone, you run the risk of undervaluing your home.

Seller appraisals do have a purpose, but for the vast majority of consumers, they're not necessary. Instead, work with your agent to study local comps and determine the best market price for your property.


Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

Preparing your home for a listing can be a lot of work — from cleaning to staging, you always want to position your home in a way that impresses potential buyers. However, when it comes to home sales, it's the little things that tend to often have the biggest impact. A lot of minor issues that may not give you a second thought may cause a buyer to hesitate before moving forward.

If you're getting ready to list your home, don't sweat major renovations. Instead, your time may be better spent focusing on the little things that can make a big difference. Here are some examples:

  • Clutter 
    Too many personal items, overflowing closets, and junk lying around can all be off-putting to a buyer. Clutter can ruin a buyer's perception in two ways: it can make your home appear small, stuffy, and cramped, which can give off the impression that the home is too small. When a buyer is surrounded by someone else's clutter can also make it difficult for them to picture themselves living in the home. Decluttering is one of the most important things you can do before listing your home.

  • A Shaky Railing
    You don't want to surprise your buyers with a shaky banister when they grab hold of your railing on their way up
    the stairs. This not only may be a surprise, but it also could be dangerous. Make sure your railing or banister is sturdy and all screws are secure before opening up the home for tours.

  • Bold Paint Colors
    Loud, bright colors may be your style, but it can be a turn-off to many buyers who don't share your same taste in color. If your paint colors consist of bold tones, you may want to consider painting over them with some nice neutral shade. Give your buyers a blank slate to work with.

  • Odd Odors
    Many sellers become nose blind to certain smells and weird odors over time, but buyers will be quick to pick up on the scent of pets, mold, clothes. Even if your home has a bit of a musty smell, you can bet the buyers will notice. Make an effort to eliminate any source of foul odors before listing your home. If you're going to use any candles or scents, be sure they're not too strong.

  • Poor Patching And Touch-Ups
    If patching holes and paint touch-ups are not your specialties, it might be best to leave these to a professional. A poor attempt at filling holes in the wall or touching-up paint can create quite an eyesore. Instead, call a professional painter or carpenter to come in and freshen up the space.

  • Bad Flooring
    Cracked tiles or loose and squeaky floorboards can give buyers the impression that your home is in disrepair. It's also one of the very first things buyers will notice when touring the home. Spend a bit of time fixing-up flooring before listing your home on the market.

  • Dead Light Bulbs
    Don't leave your buyers in the dark. Flipping a non-functioning light switch when touring a home can leave a bad impression. Make sure all bulbs are working and your light switches are functioning, so buyers can truly get a sense of each room.

Major upgrades and renovations may not be necessary before listing your home. Instead, focus on the small, inexpensive repairs that can have a major impact on the outcome of your home sale.


Don't Let Clutter Ruin A Sale: Here's How You Can Clean Up Fast

Living in a home while it's on the market can be inconvenient, to say the least. Clutter around the house can not only make your listing appear smaller and less attractive, but it can also make it more difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in the home. Consequently, decluttering is an essential part of any home staging process.

Sellers living in the home that's on the market must be prepared for shoppers to drop by at a moment's notice. Keeping your home clutter-free 24/7 may seem like an impossible feat, especially if you have children. However, with some planning and practice, anyone can learn to declutter quickly and efficiently. Here are some tips to help:

  • Sort Items Into Categories
    It's always helpful to categorize your items into piles or groups when decluttering. Start by creating a pile for things you'll keep or relocate, a pile for items you will donate, and a pile for items you will pitch. This will make it easier to declutter as you move from room to room.

  • Up Your Storage Game
    Managing clutter is just as important as getting rid of it, so you may need to take your storage game to another level. If your closets are at maximum capacity, then it's time to get creative. Do you have space under the bed or under the stairs? How about in the corner of the basement?

    Vertical storage in the closets, bedrooms, basement, and garage can help too. Use stackable drawers and shelves where you can. In the kitchen, you can really maximize cupboard or pantry space by storing food items in baskets. Also, get in the habit of keeping your toiletries in a caddy that can be easily stashed away in the closet or under the sink prior to a showing.

  • Part With Old Clothes and Shoes
    Storage space is an important selling point, and you can actually make your closets look larger by keeping them at a little less than half capacity. When getting rid of clutter, make sure clothes and shoes are on the top of your list. Perhaps you have clothes or shoes that are old, no longer fit, or no longer in style. Now is the time to throw them away or pack them up and take them to your local thrift store.

  • Get The Whole Family Involved
    Cleaning up before a showing is a lot easier when the whole family contributes, which allows you to declutter in a fraction of the time. Create a plan ahead of time and distribute tasks or rooms to various family members. Get the kids involved, and use it as an opportunity to help them build good habits around chores.

  • Consider A Storage Unit
    Temporarily renting a storage unit while listing your home can make the decluttering process significantly easier. A storage unit gives you a second space to relocate. This is particularly useful if you're having a hard time parting with items or if you have furniture you'd prefer not to have on display when staging your home.

It's not fun living in a staged home, but by keeping things as clean and presentable as possible, you'll find a buyer in no time. Then, you'll be well on your way to a brand new home of your own.


Outdated Staging Trends You Can Drop Now

Staging your home can make a world of difference in the outcome of your home sale. Staging is a proven technique that can home your home sell fast and may even help you net a higher sale price. However, staging isn't always an easy process, especially if you're not experienced. A bad staging job can actually make your home appear less appealing to buyers.

To further complicate things, some of the home staging trends that worked ten or twenty years ago no longer resonate in today's market. In fact, one of the most common mistakes we see is sellers using outdated staging trends. Successfully staging your home often requires sellers to be in-tune with the latest design trends, which is why we always recommend working closely with your real estate agent.

Below are some outdated staging trends you should be sure to avoid when listing your home this year:

  • Get Rid Of The Fake Plants
    Fake plastic plants have been used as a decorative element for decades; however, today they may do more harm than good. Fake greenery, flowers, or fruit can give your home a dated look. Use living greenery, fresh flowers, and real fruit instead. It will not only freshen up the space, but it will also add an authentic, natural appearance to your home.

  • Peel Off The Wallpaper
    Wallpaper has been out of style for a while. Wallpaper patterns can reflect personal tastes and contain very distracting patterns, both of which can be potential turn offers for buyers. We recommend removing wallpaper prior to listing your home and adding a fresh coat of a neutral-colored paint. Remember, buyers don't want to imagine themselves peeling off the wallpaper after they move in.

  • Depersonalize The Home
    While your family photos and knick-knacks may serve as some nice decor in your home, you should put them away during the staging process. In today's market, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for buyers to see themselves living in the space and your personal items can be distracting. Keep things as neutral as possible.

  • Avoid The All White Kitchen
    An all-white kitchen, which consists of white walls, cabinets, and appliances, was once a stylish interior trend. However, this look is a bit outdated. Buyers today like to see a warm kitchen with the right balance of light and dark tones. Try to mix up your color scheme a bit to create a compelling look.

  • Lose The Formal Living Room
    Many people still draw a distinction between the den or family room and the actual "living room," the latter which is generally kept stuffy, well-kept, and less functional. This is often where the decorative, less comfortable furniture is stored. In today's market, you don't need to stage a pristine living room. If you have multiple living room spaces on the first floor, try to make them both functional or turn one into an office.

Staging is a technique that ultimately helps the buyer visualize the space. Outdated staging trends, personal items, or loud decor can ultimately complicate that mission. If you're struggling to stage your home, don't forget to check out some other local listings for inspiration.


Hook Buyers With A Home Office Space

With so many people working from home these days, it's no surprise that a home office has become a popular selling point. In fact, it's now a "must-have" feature for many buyers. By advertising a home office in your listing, you stand to increase your sale price by as much as 4%. The good news is it's fairly easy to add an office to your home. However, it's important to stage it the right way. By following these tips, you can generate buyer attention with the perfect office setup:

  • Choose The Right Spot
    An extra room is usually the best place to stage a home office, but if your home doesn't have an extra room, don't fret! Consider any unused space in the home. You'd be surprised at how many areas can serve as a home office, but you might need to get creative. Do you have space under the stairway? Is there an unused section of your basement or game room? Does your living room have an extra nook sectioned off from the rest of the room? If you don't have a dedicated room, search for opportunities throughout the rest of the home.

  • Stage Your Furniture
    A home office setup is actually fairly simple because, at a minimum, you only need a nice desk and a chair. However, if you have some space to work, you should attempt to maximize it. Consider adding a nice lamp as a desk piece. Visitor seating is always a good idea, or you could create a reading nook in the corner of the room by adding a comfortable chair and a floor lamp. A small filing cabinet that easily fits underneath the desk is also a great accessory.

  • Emphasize The Light
    Lighting is an important feature of a home office. If the room receives lots of natural light, be sure to open the blinds or remove the window treatments for staging photos and home tours. If the room is lacking natural light, try to create a well-balanced source or ambient light by adding some floor lamps.

  • Avoid Any Personalization
    While no home office is complete without family photos, bobbleheads, and knick-knacks, you should strive to avoid personalizing the office space. Remember, your goal isn't to show off your own office, it's to create a space where buyers can envision themselves working. Your own personal decor can be distracting or a turnoff to a buyer.

  • Eliminate Clutter
    If you're actively using your office space, it's important to keep it clean and clutter-free. Keep all office supplies stored away inside a drawer or cabinet. Make sure the surface of the desk is completely clear. If you're struggling to declutter, consider using some office organizers to neatly group and store items on your shelf space or in a nearby closet.

Home offices have never been more important. By not having one, you run the risk of excluding many potential buyers who work from home. Your listing agent can help you find the best way to add and show off a new home office space to hook buyers today.


When The First Offer Is The Best One

Should you accept the first offer on your home? This is a common question we hear from sellers. On the one hand, you might think it's worth holding out for a better offer, especially in a hot market. On the other hand, rejecting the first offer could be risky.

The truth is there are many instances when the first offer will be your best offer. Below, we'll discuss those reasons as well as give you some tips to consider when making your decision.

Should You Accept The First Offer?
Receiving the first offer is exciting. It serves as confirmation there is interest in the home, and it serves as a reasonable indicator that your home sale may be finalized in the not too distant future. So should you accept the offer or wait for another one to come along?

Unless the offer is significantly below your asking price, you should likely accept it. Here is why:

  • The Offer Was Likely Carefully Calculated
    The buyer most likely consulted with their real estate agent, evaluated market data, and looked at comps (recent similar size home sales within a few miles of your home) when deciding on an offer. As a result, the offer is probably fair in most cases and based on research.
  • You Can Always Negotiate 
    If the offer is within the ballpark of your asking price, you can always negotiate. Work with a real estate agent to respond with a counteroffer that has a higher price or eliminates some of the requested contingencies.
  • Turning It Down Could Be Risky
    Sure, a better offer might come along. But what if one doesn't? You run the risk of your home sitting on the market for a long period of time, which might make buyers wonder if it has a problem.

Tips To Consider When Evaluating Your First Offer
Whether or not to accept the first offer isn't always a clear-cut decision. There are several factors you'll likely want to consider:

  • The State Of The Market
    If the market is slow, it can be risky to wait for another offer to come along. However, if the market is hot in your area, it may be in your best interest to wait an extra day or two before responding to see how many additional offers come in.
  • The Offer Price
    If an offer is within 5 percent of your asking price, then you know you're likely close enough to consider negotiating with the buyer.
  • Contingencies
    If the buyer has undesirable contingencies that are non-negotiable, such as a home sale contingency, it might make sense to wait for another offer.
  • Timing
    If the offer comes quickly, as in the first day or so the home is on the market, then you might have the luxury of waiting especially if you don't need to sell fast.
  • The Transaction
    Is the buyer offering all cash, or are they financing the purchase through a mortgage? Cash offers close much faster. Consider how important your timeline is.

In many cases, the first offer is the best offer, and there can be downsides to waiting for better ones to come along. However, if the market is hot, the offer is low, or the buyer has unrealistic expectations, waiting a few days might be worthwhile.


What Sellers Can't Control — And What You Can Do About It

If you're getting ready to list your home, you undoubtedly want to do everything in your power to achieve the highest possible sale price. But selling a home is a complicated process, and there are many variables that influence the outcome of a real estate transaction. The hard part is many of these variables are beyond the seller's control.

This doesn't mean your ability to cash in on your biggest investment comes down to luck alone, but acknowledging what you can't control will better position you to spend your time and energy on the things you can control.

Here are some items that sellers can't control during the home selling process and what you can do instead:

  1. Market Conditions
    The real estate market fluctuates over time, and while it may be a seller's market today, it's hard to say what the future will bring 5 or 10 years down the road. Economic conditions are ultimately beyond your control.

    What You Can Do: Keep an eye on the market. The next time the market is hot or inventory is low, be ready to quickly evaluate whether it's the right time to sell your home. A real estate agent can help.

  2. Your Neighborhood
    Sellers can't have complete control over the decisions of their neighbors or the long-term condition of a neighborhood. To further complicate things, your neighbor's home sales will often influence your sale price. At the end of the day, a buyer's perception of your neighborhood is beyond your control.

    What You Can Do: Join your local neighborhood association (or form one) and advocate for action that helps boost property values. It'll take some time, but pulling your neighbors together for the greater good can have promising results.

  3. The Age Of Your Home
    It might seem obvious, but your home isn't going to get any younger. Some buyers are in the market for a newer home, while others may like the charm and character of an older property.

    What You Can Do: If your home is showing its age, then it might be worth investing in some upgrades before listing your home. Certain upgrades, like a renovated bathroom or new appliances, can actually generate a return when you go to sell.

  4. Buyer Negotiations
    Negotiations with a buyer can sometimes last several rounds and still fall apart at the end. You can't control or predict what a buyer will offer or ask for. No matter how hard you try, you also can't control how buyers will perceive your property.

    What You Can Do: Make sure you have an experienced real estate agent in your corner. A real estate agent is an expert negotiator and will ultimately be the liaison, so you don't have to deal with a buyer directly. A good agent is the best way to land a deal that works for both sides.

When it comes time to sell your largest investment, some things are simply out of your control.  Instead of getting hung up on these details, try to focus on what you can control.


Want To Sell In Winter? Here Are Some Shortcuts

While the real estate market usually slows down in the fall and winter, there is a common misconception that winter is a bad time to sell your home. Sellers should know that this is simply a myth. While the market might look a bit different in colder weather months, selling in the winter isn't necessarily difficult. In fact, there are many benefits to listing your between December and February. Competition is often lower, and buyers tend to be a bit more serious when house hunting.

If you're planning to list your home this winter, below are some shortcuts to help you expedite the selling process:

  • Create A Cozy Atmosphere
    Selling in the winter gives you an opportunity to wow buyers by creating a warm, cozy atmosphere. Make sure to turn up the heat before each showing, as a cold home can be a major turnoff. A good temperature is 70 to 72 degrees (don't make it too hot either). Also, make your rooms as bright as possible by opening blinds and turning on every light. If you have a fireplace — show it off! A fire is a great way to create a cozy atmosphere.

  • Keep Your Driveway And Sidewalks Clear
    When selling in the winter, you'll need to make sure your home is ready to show at a moment's notice. This means keeping the driveway and sidewalks clear of snow, ice, and debris. Be sure to break out the shovel and salt immediately following each snowstorm.

  • Keep Your Outdoor Features Visible
    Potential buyers are less likely to walk out onto the deck or around the backyard in the wintertime, so try to give them a good view of your outdoor amenities from the inside. Remove snow from any outdoor patio areas and make sure your blinds are open, so visitors can get a good view of the whole property.

  • Do Some Extra Cleaning
    Deep cleaning is important when selling, regardless of the time of year. However, many of us tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, which can lead to a bit more dirt and clutter. You may want to spend a bit of extra time cleaning if possible. Pay special attention to any entryways, which tend to accumulate quite a bit of mud and slush from people tracking snow indoors.

  • Don't Forget About Your Curb Appeal
    Curb appeal can take a hit in the winter when gardens and plants aren't in full bloom and seasonal furniture is in storage. However, you can still brighten things up by adding some nice LED lighting to your pathways and entrance. Make sure to also keep the yard free of dead leaves and debris.

Selling in the winter may present a different set of challenges, but sellers shouldn't be discouraged. It's not impossible, but you may need to adjust your strategy just a bit.


What Happens If You Make A Profit On Your Home Sale?

With most home financing based on a 30-year term, selling before paying off a mortgage is a very common practice. So what happens if you sell your home for more than your mortgage balance? Making a profit on a home sale is possible even if you haven't paid off your mortgage. When making a profit, you can use the funds for a down payment on a new home or anything you'd like, really. However, your ability to turn a profit comes down to your sale price and the amount of equity you've built in your home.

What Is Home Equity?
Home equity is a figure that represents the total value of your property ownership. To calculate your home equity, simply take the home's market value and subtract the outstanding mortgage balance and any other liens on the property. The remaining figure is your home equity. There are two different types of home equity:

  • Investment Equity - Includes your initial down payment, mortgage payments against your loan's principal balance, and the cost of upgrades or renovations you've made while owning the property.
  • Earned Equity - Additional equity accumulated due to rising home values.

Determining Your Payoff Amount
In order to estimate your potential profit from a home sale, you need to determine your mortgage payoff amount. Keep in mind, your payoff amount isn't the same as your remaining loan balance. The payoff amount includes any accrued interest since the closing date. You'll most likely need to contact your lender to determine the exact payout amount.

What Happens To Your Remaining Mortgage Balance If You Sell Your Home?
If you sell your home prior to paying off your mortgage, the buyer's funds will first be applied to your remaining mortgage balance and any additional loans against the property. After the mortgage balance has been paid off, the remaining funds will be applied to closing costs, which include agent commission, escrow fees, and taxes. Finally, any remaining funds leftover at this point become your profit.

What you do with your profit is up to you. Most people take their profit and reinvest it in a new home. However, if you're planning to downsize or move into a rental property, you may want to consider saving the money for retirement or investing it. Or, take a vacation — it's ultimately your money.

It's possible to turn a profit on your home sale even if your mortgage isn't paid off. However, your sale price, current home equity, and the amount of time you've owned the property are two factors that will directly influence your profit.


How To Stage A Home You Still Live In

Selling a home while you're still living in it can be inconvenient, to say the least. From last-minute showings to constant cleaning — there is a lot of work involved. However, professionally staging your home while you're still living in it can be a whole new level of difficulty, especially if you're not prepared.

While it might be inconvenient, home staging is a vital selling technique that is proven to lead to a higher sale price. By taking the right steps, you can manage to pull off home staging even if you're still living in your home. The good news is home staging can also help you sell fast, which means you hopefully won't be in the situation for too long. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Start By Preparing Yourself Mentally
    Once you've decided to list your home on the market, try to get used to the thought that the home is no longer yours. In order to stage the property, you're going to need to remove any personalized decor and create a neutral setting. Try to practice imagining the home and space belonging to someone else. It won't be long before you're in your new home anyway.

  • Relocate About One-Third Of Your Things 
    Decluttering is important. While you may still be living in the house, you might need to start moving some things out in order to properly stage the home. Aim to remove about one-third of your belongings prior to listing your home. Focus on relocating things you don't use very often — boxes, holiday decor, and clothing you don't wear very often.

  • Rent A Storage Unit
    Temporarily renting a storage unit for a couple of months can really help the staging process. You'll not only have an easy way to relocate your belongings, but you can also temporarily relocate furniture that doesn't fit your staging plans. Storage units are usually a couple hundred per month and the convenience they provide during the moving process is well worth the cost.

  • Spend More Time Outside Of The House
    The more time you spend in the house, the more difficult it will be to keep it staged and clean. Consider taking a vacation or plan activities that keep you and your family out of the house as much as possible. The less time spent in the house, the easier it will be to maintain.

  • Seek Help From A Professional
    Staging your home can be tricky, so it might help to seek out some professional help. Your real estate agent is a good starting point — they likely have significant experience. If you really want to create a popping scene, consider hiring a professional home stager. This investment will lead to some fantastic listing photos and will really impress buyers when they tour your listing.

Staging your home while you're still living in it can be a bit uncomfortable, especially if you have kids or pets. Just remember, the pain is worth the gain. Staging can help net you a higher price and sell your home quickly. Then, you'll be well on your way to moving into a brand new home of your own.


Need To Sell Fast? Here's How You Can Expedite Your Sale

Selling your home can be a stressful process, but when you're up against a deadline and need to sell fast, things can get a bit hectic. However, selling your home quickly is definitely achievable — you just might have to put in a little extra leg work up front. If you're up against circumstances that require a quick home sale, your real estate agent can help. Here is a quick list of five things you can do to reduce the amount of time your home sits on the market:

  1. Make Basic Repairs And Upgrades
    Buyers will be quick to notice broken doorknobs, chipped paint, or non-functioning light bulbs. A lack of home maintenance can give your home a worn, lived-in appearance which can be dissuasive to shoppers. Prior to listing your home on the market, be sure to take care of the basic home maintenance tasks.

  2. Focus On Home Staging
    Putting in some extra effort when staging your home can really help reduce the amount of time your home sits on the market. Preparing for staging includes decluttering, decorating, arranging furniture, and maximizing light exposure all in an attempt to create an environment that enables buyers to imagine themselves living in the space. Going above and beyond can really help capture buyers' attention. Hire a professional or work with an experienced real estate agent to maximize the effectiveness of your home staging.

  3. Seek Professional Listing Photos
    Most buyers begin the home shopping experience online. In order to draw clicks to your listing, you need eye-catching listing photos. Your real estate agent will be able to help capture stunning photos of your interior or facade, which may involve hiring a professional photographer.

  4. Accurately Price Your Home
    If you're looking for a quick sale, an accurate sale price is important. Use comps (recent sales of similarly sized homes within a one-mile radius) to determine what the market is willing to pay for your property. If you price too high, you'll reduce your eligible market and most buyers won't even consider a house that is priced significantly higher than the appraised value. Bottom line — your home price needs to be competitive with the market.

  5. Schedule An Open House
    Open houses don't always lead to immediate home sales, but they're a good way to generate a lot of foot traffic and visibility in a short period of time. After your home hits the market, consider holding an open house. You never know if it might lead to a quick home sale. Just make sure to work with an experienced agent who can promote the event effectively.

People need to sell quickly for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you've found the home of your dreams or maybe you need to move for your career. Regardless, be sure to work with your agent on the best approach to selling your home quickly.


Selling A Home Comes With Its Own Maintenance

If you're planning to sell your home in the near future, it might be tempting to leave repairs and upgrades for the next owner. But neglecting maintenance in the weeks and months leading up to your sale could have some major consequences.

Minor issues, such as broken doorknobs or chipped paint, can leave a bad impression on buyers. Even worse, minor issues can turn into big problems if they're not taken care of. If a major repair is needed at the wrong time, it could derail your closing or drastically impact your sale price.

If you want to sell soon, here is a quick list of home maintenance tasks to perform ahead of time:

Service Your Heating System
If you're selling soon, we recommend a thorough cleaning and servicing of your heating system from top to bottom. Have your furnace, ductwork, and chimney inspected and serviced. Replace filters and clean out all your vents. Major issues with your heating system will have buyers quickly running in the opposite direction.

Schedule A Roof Inspection
Your roof should be inspected at least once a year, but definitely before listing your home. Minor roofing problems are notorious for compounding into larger issues when left untreated. If you're experiencing any leaks or notice any warped or cracked shingles, you'll want to make the necessary repairs as soon as possible. If you need a replacement, keep in mind that a new roof is a big selling point, and you'll be able to recover costs in your sale price.

Maintain Your Landscaping
Your landscaping has a major impact on your curb appeal, which is a term used to describe how your home appears from street view. Curb appeal is important because it attracts buyer attention in your listing photos and is also the first thing shoppers see when pulling up to your home. Make sure your lawn is treated and trim all shrubs and trees. Also, make sure your driveway and walkways are well maintained.

Wash Your Windows
Light exposure is an important part of the home staging process, so you should expect your windows to be visible when buyers are touring your home. Be sure to thoroughly clean them and remove any dirt, grime, or muck prior to listing your property.

Resolve Any Plumbing Issues
Plumbing issues can range from leaky faucets to major pipe cracks in the basement. Either way, they're likely driving up your water bill and potentially causing mold growth. Buyers will be quick to notice any extra water in the basement, which is often a major warning sign. If notice any signs of leaks, be sure to have a plumber come take a look.

Cosmetic Upgrades
To sell your home fast, you'll want it to shine inside and out. If your home has worn carpet, chipped tiles, peeling paint, fixing these items can go a long way. A home with a "lived-in" look can be very unappealing, so you'll want to really pay attention to minor cosmetic details.

Investing in a home that you want to sell might seem counterintuitive, but major problems can lead buyers to pull out at the last minute. By taking care of some basic home maintenance tasks ahead of time, you can help ensure a smooth and successful closing.


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.


How Do You Sell To Millennials?

While it's common for millennials to delay the home buying process in favor of renting, it won't be long before they represent the majority of the buyer market. As home-buying habits shift across generations, millennials naturally have different requirements and expectations when it comes to choosing a home. Learning how to market your property to a younger generation is an important selling technique, especially if you're looking to maximize your overall return.

To ensure you're casting the widest net possible and attracting millennials to your listing, be sure to keep these tips in mind when promoting your listing:

  1. Focus On Green Living
    Energy efficiency doesn't just lead to lower utility bills, but it also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Both are important factors to millennials when buying a house. Make sure to highlight any double pane windows, high-quality insulation, new HVAC systems, recent roof replacements, or other energy-efficient features in your listing. Sustainability is a great way to attract millennial buyers.

  2. Promote The Neighborhood
    Efficiency and convenience are big selling points — so if you live in a neighborhood with lots of amenities, you'll definitely want to promote it. Call out your home's proximity to any major highways, public transportation, schools, or shopping districts. Walkable neighborhoods are a huge selling point for younger populations.

  3. Keep Your Staging Neutral, Yet Modern
    When it comes to staging, the general rule of thumb is to keep things as neutral as possible. However, adding a simple and modern touch to your neutral staging can help make your listing more appealing to a millennial population. To achieve a simple, minimalistic interior, you'll want to spend a good bit of time decluttering ahead of time.

  4. Brand New Fixtures
    Most first-time homebuyers are concerned with saving for the down payment, and as a result, don't want to spring for costly upgrades shortly after moving in. If you've recently upgraded or renovated a kitchen or bathroom, be sure to make it the spotlight of your listing.

  5. Ask Your Agent About Digital Avenues
    Creating a digital presence for your listing can be a great way to reach a younger population. Your agent can help make sure there are spectacular pictures of your facade and interior to capture the attention of online shoppers. Many agents also utilize social media to expand their reach and appeal to younger homebuyers.

With millennials making up an increasingly large percentage of the buyer market, learning to market your property to this generation will become more and more important. Keep these tips in mind when working with your real estate agent to create your listing.


How To Price Your Home

When listing your home, you want to do everything you can to maximize your sale price. However, when it comes to setting a figure, finding the sweet spot is vital. You don't want to leave money on the table, yet setting the high price tag can number of buyers and ultimately keep your house sitting on the market for far too long.

As a result, the best strategy is to use available facts and figures to come up with an asking price that can be supported by real data. Below are some important factors to consider when setting your sale price:

  1. Look At Comps
    Here is where it can pay off to be a nosey neighbor. Nearby real estate transactions involving similar properties within a small radius of your home can serve as a great proxy for setting your own asking price. In fact, buyer's agents will pull comp reports, short for "comparables", to get a sense of the market on a hyper-local level. Your listing agent can also provide comp reports to help you set a reasonable asking price. If your neighbor's home sold for a good price, you can easily use it as leverage.

  2. Learn From Other's Mistakes
    While you're looking at the local real estate market, pay special attention to homes that are either expired (meaning they didn't sell) or withdrawn (meaning the seller is no longer listing it). Take a look at the home itself, the asking price, and whether or not the seller dropped the price while the listing was active. This can give you a good indication on what the market is willing to pay.

  3. Factor In Recent Upgrades
    If you invested in significant upgrades prior to listing your home, such as new floors, insulation, or appliances, you likely will want to see a return on your investment. Work with your real estate agent to help price the expense of recent renovations and upgrades into your asking figure, so you can maximize your return as much as possible.

  4. Consider The State Of The Market
    The state of the market also plays an essential role in setting your sale price. If there is low inventory, low interest rates, and high buyer demand, you stand a good chance to maximize your profits. Just keep in mind, in many cases, buyers still aren't going to pay significantly more than what the property is actually worth; however, a hot seller's market does give you negotiating leverage on many things, including contingencies.

Nearby real estate transactions, the state of the market, and the expertise of your real estate agent are all important tools when it comes to setting the right asking price. Use a combination of all three to ensure your listing is set up for success.


How To Boost The Return On Your Home Sale

Many sellers assume the state of the market and rate environment will ultimately dictate the sale price of the home. While these two items do play a major factor, there are still many things the seller can do to generate a nice return.

However, boosting your sale price isn't always easy — and it often requires a significant investment in time and maybe even money. However, with the right upgrades, you can go a long way towards maximizing your sale price. Below are just a few of the ways sellers can independently boost the return on their home sale:

  • Start With Your Curb Appeal
    Your curb appeal speaks to how the facade of your home is perceived from the street. It encompasses everything from your front door, windows, siding, porch, mailbox, lawn, and landscaping — in other words, all of the first things a potential buyer sees when pulling up to your home or checking out your listing online.

    In order to make a good first impression, improve your facade. Paint your front door and clean your siding. Make sure your landscaping is well maintained, and add a new mailbox. When it comes to improving curb appeal, the little things can really add up.

  • Maximize Space
    While you can't increase the square footage of your home without major renovations, there are many easy upgrades that can either increase your space or even create the illusion that your home is more spacious.

    The first step is to declutter. Go through your home and remove junk and any unwanted items. If you're not ready to part with your things, renting a storage unit is a great way to declutter temporarily.

    Maximizing light exposure is also a big one. Bright rooms appear larger. Make sure to open all windows and window treatments and add artificial lighting to dimly lit rooms. Mirrors also reflect light, which can make the room appear larger as well.

  • Stay Neutral
    When selling your home, you ultimately want to create an environment that enables the buyer to envision living in the space. If you really want to increase your sale price, make sure to stick to neutral colors and decor. Off-white or light gray paint and furniture are a great way to go. Also, be sure to store away any personal items, photos, awards, pets, or pet supplies, as these items will make the home appear unfamiliar.

  • Make Upgrades
    Minor repairs and small upgrades are a no-brainer — doorknobs, new paint, and landscaping are all easy upgrades to help boost value. Depending on the condition of your home and appliances, it might be worth springing for some larger upgrades as well. When upgrading old appliances, adding attic insulation, or replacing flooring, you stand to boost your sale price to the point where you can realize a nice return on your investment.

The process of selling your home often begins weeks or months before your home hits the market. However, investing time and money up front can go a long way towards boosting your sale price regardless of the market conditions.


Seller Regrets: Are You Making These Mistakes?

Hindsight is 20/20, especially when it comes to selling your home. There is a lot of pressure involved in a home sale, and it's very common for sellers to look back and wish they did things a bit differently. Every stage of the selling process plays a large role in determining your final sale price, and simple mistakes can ultimately cost you thousands in the end. 

The good news is most real estate agents have extensive experience working through the challenges of a home sale and can help you avoid costly errors. If you're planning to sell your home this year and want to get the best return, be careful to avoid these mistakes:

  • Not Preparing The Property
    In the months and weeks leading up to listing your home, taking the time to prepare your property for the upcoming sale makes all the difference. Small repairs, painting, and decluttering are all important pieces. You'll also need to work closely with your real estate agent in order to effectively stage the property. Remember, the most you can make buyers fall in love with your property, the more likely you are to achieve a good sale price.

  • Pricing Too High
    In a hot market, it can be especially tempting to set the bar high as a starting point. However, even if sellers are desperate many will be reluctant to pay far more than the appraised value. Starting out at a high selling point may ultimately put you in a position where you need to lower your asking price, which may lead buyers to wonder if there is a problem with the property.

  • Making Things Perfect
    Small repairs, painting, and cleaning are all important, but it's important not to spend all of your energy making things absolutely perfect. Things just need to be good enough to impress the buyer. While investing in upgrades and new appliances can help boost your sale price, it is possible to reach a point of diminishing returns. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you through the appropriate improvements.

  • Taking Poor Listing Photos
    Your property's online listing is the key to garnering buyer attention. Almost every buyer starts the shopping process online, so your listing photos are your best shot at making a good first impression. Work with your agent to take attractive listing photos after your home has been properly staged. The better your photos, the more foot traffic your listing is likely to see.

  • Not Using An Agent
    Most seller's agents make around 3% of the overall sale price in commission, so some sellers think they can save a great deal by selling their homes independently. While it is possible to do, it's not recommended unless you have a great deal of experience. Real estate agents perform numerous tasks that help to attract buyers and to generate the highest possible sale price. While you may save on commission, there's a good chance you won't maximize your sale price without an agent's help.

It's easy to make mistakes when selling a house, but by doing your homework ahead of time, you can avoid these common pitfalls.


Sellers: Prioritize These Living Room Upgrades

Renovations, upgrades, and staging make a world of difference when it comes to listing your home on the market. While the kitchen and bathrooms are often top selling points for many buyers, you don't want to forget about the living room.

The quality of the living room is an important selling point, and as a seller, you'll want to create an environment that enables buyers to envision themselves relaxing and spending time with family in the room.  To help you achieve this, below are some important living room upgrades that you may want to prioritize before listing your home:

  1. Add A Fresh Coat Of Neutral Paint
    A fresh coat of paint can make an outdated living room shine. It quite literally will help to reflect light, which in turn will make the room appear bigger, brighter, and more welcoming. A fresh coat of paint is a great way to impress buyers. When choosing a color, just be sure to stick to a neutral tone: off-white or light gray shades are probably your best bet.

  2. Create An Open Space
    A cramped living room can appear stuffy and uncomfortable, so you'll really want to open things up if you can. Make sure there are clear, accessible paths so it's easy to walk around the room. Also, avoid any overly large furniture, as this will also make the room appear small than it actually is. If you have the ability to remove walls, an open floor living room is an increasingly popular feature for many buyers.

  3. Update Your Floors
    If your living room has old carpet or dated wood or tile flooring, you'll want to address it before listing your home. Old carpet or tiles can give the room a "lived-in" look, which can be a major turn-off for buyers. After you remove your carpet, consider replacing it with some less-expensive wood-like vinyl flooring.

  4. Try A New Coffee Table
    Coffee tables receive a lot of wear and tear over the years, so if yours is dented, scuffed, fading, or covered in watermarks, an upgrade may be in order. When choosing a new coffee table, be sure it matches the rest of the decor and comfortably fits in the space. Try to avoid any wild or overly trendy or artistic designs — aim for nice and neutral.

  5. Add Some Extra Storage
    Storage is always a major selling point, so adding some additional shelving or drawers is almost always a good idea. Shelves and drawers in the living room make it easy to display family photos or pack away blankets and electronics. The best part is shelves and extra storage are fairly inexpensive.

  6. Let There Be Light
    Maximizing light is so important when staging a home. Buyers are attracted to big bright rooms, and natural light really helps living rooms appear larger. If your living room could use some extra light, consider adding some new decorative fixtures to keep things bright.

The living room is often one of the first rooms buyers encounter, so it often sets the tone for the rest of the home. Making the proper upgrades are essential for creating an attractive listing and maximizing your sale price.


The Biggest Myths Of Selling A Home

Selling a home is a relatively rare life event for most people, so it's normal not to know what to expect. When seeking advice from neighbors, friends, or family, it might seem like everyone thinks they're an expert on real estate transactions. It's also common to hear myths and tall tales about the market or the selling process. 

As a first-time seller, don't believe everything you hear. Getting caught up in real estate myths can lead to bad decisions that ultimately cost you money in the long run. If you're planning on selling your home soon, be cognizant of these five myths of selling a home:

  • Renovations And Staging Aren't Important
    One of the biggest myths we hear in a hot seller's market is that staging and renovations aren't necessary because buyers are so eager to make an offer. This is simply untrue. Even though the market is incredibly competitive, a home in bad shape is still going to be unattractive to buyers.  Making renovations and staging your home is still your best bet for generating the best return. Just because the market isn't hot doesn't mean sellers should be lazy or skip the important parts.

  • You Can Save Money By Selling Your Home Yourself
    While it's certainly possible to sell a home on your own, you'll likely need to have experience, skills, and a lot of time on your hands in order to pull it off. While it may save you from paying an agent commission, there is also a good chance you'll leave money on the table.

    Real estate agents perform a number of tasks that provide tremendous value by helping you achieve a higher sale price. Staging, marketing, and negotiating are all important pieces. Without an expert in your corner, you might not get the best return.

  • Setting A High Price Leaves Room For Negotiation
    Many sellers think setting the bar high will leave more room for negotiation, but the truth is, many buyers won't even consider a home priced well above its value. By setting a high asking price, you're ultimately putting yourself in a position where you'll likely have to reduce the price after a few weeks, which may lead to buyer suspicions about potential problems.

  • Open Houses Don't Sell Homes
    Open houses have been a home selling tactic for decades, and they didn't disappear during the pandemic. While many people assume real estate agents hold open houses to drum up new business, they can actually be a very effective sales tactic. Open houses are likely to generate quick exposure to the market and can attract a higher number of interested buyers in a short period of time.

  • The Market Will Continue To Rise
    With the exception of two recent economic downturns, home values have consistently been on the rise for many years.  However, these recent recessions have proven that real estate is not a risk-free investment. The myth that home values will continue to rise year after year may influence a seller's decision to list their home. However, the truth is home values can and do fall, and they will fall again.

Selling a home isn't always easy, so arming yourself with the most accurate information is the best way to make decisions that lead to a good return. Of course, experienced real estate agents are often the best source of reliable information about the market.


How To Prepare For Your Open House

An open house is one of the most effective ways to generate significant buyer interest in a short period of time. It's a scheduled time slot when your home is open to any potential buyers who would like to see it.

Open houses have been an effective home selling technique for decades because they not only generate more traffic and attention to your listing, but they also allow buyers to tour the home in an easier, more relaxing environment. For an open house to be successful, planning and preparation are essential. Here are five things you can do to prepare:

  1. Fix The Red Flags
    If your home has a major red flag, like a plumbing problem or mold, it's so critical to get it taken care of before holding an open house. While an open house is a great way to generate interest, it can also be unsuccessful or even a waste of time if your home has a major defect that buyers are unwilling to overlook. As a result, it's best to take care of the large problems well ahead of time.

  2. Declutter
    The more of your belongings that are on display, the less buyers can see themselves living in the space. As a result, it's a good idea to declutter well ahead of time. Take any unwanted decor, ill-fitting furniture, book collections, and unnecessary belongings and relocate them to the basement or a self-storage unit. Also, temporarily put away any family photos or personalized items. A good, uncluttered home is the best way to make a good impression.

  3. Deep Clean Everything
    You want to make sure your home is spotless prior to the open house. Be sure to clean every room, including the basement. Make sure to get baseboards, surfaces, and floors. Be sure to give the kitchen and the bathrooms some extra attention. Hiring a professional to do a deep clean is often a great way to ensure your home is spotless.

  4. Stage Your Home
    Staging your home means arranging furniture and decor in a flattering, but neutral manner. It may also involve repainting, defining rooms, and maximizing light exposure. Staging is a home sales tactic that can not only help your home sell faster, but also help you attract buyers who will pay the highest sale price. If you've never staged a home before, your real estate agent should be able to provide you with home staging tips.

  5. Relocate For The Day
    Many buyers aren't interested in meeting the seller during the first tour of a home, so it's usually a good idea to stay away for the day. Plan a day's worth of activities or go visit a friend or family. You should also plan to relocate any pets, as they can also be a detractor for many buyers.

Open houses are an important strategy for garnering interest in your listing, but it's important to make sure they're done the right way. This is just another reason why working with an experienced real estate agent can make all the difference.


Here Are The Most Annoying Parts Of Selling

When you're selling your home, you'll inevitably have to deal with at least a few minor annoyances. However, it might make you feel better to hear that it happens to everyone! Being prepared and knowing what to expect will help you keep your cool as you go through the process. Here's a look at some of the most annoying parts of selling your home.

1. Last-Minute Showings

Getting ready for a showing takes a lot of time and effort, so when a potential buyer wants to see your home at the last minute, it's bound to cause some irritation. It's common to get a call saying a buyer is "10 minutes away," or even worse, is already sitting in your driveway.

Just remember that if it results in a home sale, it will all be worth it. While you won't be able to get everything perfect, just do your best. When you get the call, pick up as much as you can, toss it all in a Rubbermaid container, and put it neatly in your closet. This is the best way to tidy up on short notice. Hopefully, the buyer will understand that they didn't give you much time to prepare and will take that into consideration.

2. Buyers Making Themselves at Home

Sometimes, sellers return to find that the buyers have made themselves at home during a showing. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often, but when it does, it certainly is annoying.

While it's totally acceptable to look inside cabinets and closet doors, when buyers crank the heat, track mud all over, or let their kids run amuck, that's too much. Fortunately, most buyers are respectful of sellers' property. If they're not, ideally, the seller's agent will be able to reign them in.

3. Appointment No-Shows

A no-show is even worse than a last-minute appointment. When you've taken the time to vacuum, dust, light a candle, or even bake cookies, it's super annoying if the buyer doesn't come when they're supposed to.

While it's very inconvenient, it does happen. Sometimes, it's due to an emergency, and other times buyers simply forget or have a scheduling conflict. Unfortunately, this is an issue you may not be able to avoid.

4. Picking At The Little Stuff

Some buyers will be very vocal about things they don't love in your home. While everyone has different tastes, a buyer who loudly talks about how ugly the paint is or nitpicks about small issues may not realize just how rude they're being.

Try to keep a thick skin and remember that this is sometimes tactic buyers use to try to bring the price down. As long as you're confident your home is priced correctly, take their criticisms with a grain of salt.

5. Finding Your Home Lit Up and Open

There's nothing worse than coming home after a showing to find that all the lights are on and the door has been left unlocked. The buyer's agent should take care of everything before they leave. If they don't they're being both rude and irresponsible.

You can help keep this from happening by leaving showing instructions for the buyer's agents. Posting reminder signs that say "turn off all lights and lock all doors" can help prevent you from coming home to this unpleasant surprise.

Even the best real estate agents can't keep all of these things from happening. Unfortunately, it's totally normal to have to deal with at least some minor annoyances while you're selling your home. If any of these things happen to you, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it will all be over soon!


Make Buyers Fall In Love With Your Home

Many buyers decide if they love a home during the first few minutes of a tour, which is why it's so crucial to make a good first impression. Buying a home is very emotional, and the secret to a quick sale and good return is making the buyer fall in love with the property.

As a seller, there are so many easy ways to attract buyers and make your listing stand out from the competition. The best part is, many of them are inexpensive. Below are some simple tricks to delight buyers when they tour your home:

  • Start With Your Curb Appeal
    Your home's curb appeal is the first thing buyers notice, so take some time to spruce things up. Painting your front door, power washing your facade, and trimming your landscaping can really make your home shine. Even simple things like new address numbers or a new mailbox can create a welcoming look.

  • Spruce Up The Bathroom
    Want to know what room buyers often love the most? The master bathroom. If your home has a decent-sized master bath showing it off should be a top priority. Upgrade to nice plush white bath towels, add a stylish shower curtain and a beautiful bathroom mat. Repair any damaged countertops or floor tiles, and add some nice flowers or bathroom decor to the sink. The goal is to create a nice, spacious, and relaxing vibe.

  • Let There Be Light
    Big, bright, open rooms are always attractive because light makes rooms appear larger and more welcoming. Do everything you can to maximize light exposure in every room of the house. Pull up your blinds and open curtains. Trim any outdoor trees or shrubs that may be blocking windows. If your rooms still don't receive enough light, consider investing in some decorative lamps. Adding mirrors or reflective surfaces is also a good way to increase light.

  • Show Off Your Storage Space
    The trick to showing off your storage space is to actually clear out about 30% of your belongings. When your closets are overflowing it can look like your home doesn't have enough space, but by only partially filling your closets (a little more than halfway full), your storage space can actually appear a lot larger.

  • Freshen Up Your Paint
    If it's been a while since you last painted, it's a good idea to do so before listing your home. A new paint job can really make your interior pop. We recommend going with a neutral color (avoid anything bold). Nice off-white colors can brighten up the room.

  • Evaluate Your Appliances
    Figuring out what to do with outdated appliances can be tricky. On the one hand, investing in brand new stainless steel appliances just before you leave your home may seem counterintuitive. On the other hand, kitchen appliances are so often at the center of a buyer's attention, so if yours are old and broken, they can be unattractive. Keep in mind, if you do invest in beautiful new stainless steel appliances, you could very well recover those costs in the sale price. If your appliances are dented, missing knobs, or making noises, you should invest in repairs at the very least.

  • Clean From Top To Bottom
    Buyers are far more likely to fall in love with a spotless home, so deep cleaning is critical. Before you list your home, you'll need to do an extensive, thorough cleaning of every room of the house. Every nook, cranny, baseboard, and ceiling fan needs attention. If you're not up to the task, you might want to consider hiring a cleaning company. 

A little work can go a long way. By taking simple steps to make your home more attractive, you can make buyers fall in love at first sight.


Is It The Right Time To Sell?

When the real estate market starts to heat up, it can be common for many sellers to have a fear of missing out — especially if you're seeing your neighbors sell their homes for well above asking price. However, determining the right time to sell your home isn't always easy. It's a major process and a significant commitment, so there are numerous factors one must consider before deciding on the right time to list a home.

If you're on the fence about whether it's the right time to sell, below are some important points to consider when making your decision:

  • Your Home Equity
    The amount of home equity, or the appraised value of your home minus your outstanding mortgage balance, is an important factor when determining the right time to sell. If you owe more than your home is worth, or if you're at about the break-even point, then you'll likely want to hold off on selling.

    Once your home value exceeds your mortgage balance, then you can realize a profit or return on your investment and will be in a better position to sell. Ideally, we recommend building enough home equity to cover your remaining mortgage balance and at least a 20% down payment on your next home.

  • Your Future Living Situation
    If you're thinking about selling, make sure you've taken some time to consider your next steps. If you're planning to buy another house, take the time to ensure our finances are in order and your debt is paid down. If you're planning to downsize or move to an apartment, make sure you have a rough idea of what your ideal unit costs in your target location.

  • The Time Of Year
    The real estate market changes throughout the year, so consider the season when making your decision to sell. Spring is often considered the best time to tell — the market really starts to heat up in April, so your home is likely to sell faster and for a higher price. However, you're also up against a lot of competition. The market tends to slow a bit in late summer just before school starts. The market tends to slow down quite a bit in fall and summer. While you have less competition, buyers also tend to be more demanding.

  • Your Emotions
    Even if selling your home makes sense from a financial standpoint, make sure you're emotionally ready as well. Ask if yourself if you're ready to commit to the work and the process. You may have to deal with potential buyers coming in and out of your home, and you'll need to be prepared for some potentially tough negotiations and decisions. Finally, you'll want to make sure you're emotionally prepared to part with your home and its memories.

  • Your Real Estate Agent
    Once you have decided you're ready to sell your home, finding an experienced real estate agent is key. A good agent can help you evaluate the market, establish the right listing price, stage your home, and find good contractors. The quality and experience of your agent can have a big impact on the time it takes to sell your home and your final sale price. Reading online reviews, asking for recommendations, or contacting a local broker are great ways to find a good agent.

While the state of the market and time of year may factor into your decision to sell, the best time ultimately comes down to your unique situation.


Do You Need A Certificate Of Occupancy?

When you're purchasing a property, there's a slew of documentation you need to have in order. One item you may need is called a certificate of occupancy (or "C of O"). This special type of permit serves as proof that the building meets safety codes and is safe for humans to live in.

A certificate of occupancy is typically required for rental and investment properties. In most cases, certificates of occupancy are issued when a property is first built, and then additional inspections are required each time the property changes hands.

If you're wondering about how these certificates work and whether you need one, you're in the right place! Here's what you need to know.

Who Needs a Certificate of Occupancy? 

Whether your need a C of O will depend on the rules in the municipality where you live and the type of property you purchase. Generally, there are certain situations that may require a certificate of occupancy. This includes:

  • A building that has been newly constructed
  • A property that has been converted to a new use (ex. from residential to commercial)
  • Change of ownership (this often applies to commercial space, industrial properties, and multi-family properties)

Some municipalities also require a C of O after major construction that changes a building's exit pattern or occupancy. Since every municipality has different requirements, it's important to check with your local government to find out whether it's required for your property purchase or sale.

What Are the Inspection Requirements?

To receive a certificate of occupancy, a building must pass a thorough inspection. This typically includes things like making sure all the electrical work is done properly and the building meets all fire codes. It may also include a review of small safety issues, such as making sure smoke detectors work and railings are properly installed. Sometimes, inspectors also need to review larger issues, such as ensuring the proper permits were pulled for renovations.

Depending on the type of property, the inspection may also include checking things like a home's heating system, chimney, or even the sprinkler system.

Who Pays for the Occupancy Inspection?

In most cases, a property seller will be responsible for paying for the initial inspection and for any subsequent inspections required prior to issuing the permit.

When the results of the inspection come back, the buyer and seller can negotiate to determine who will be responsible for the necessary repairs. After the repairs are completed, the inspector will return to the property for a final review before issuing the permit.

In some cases, if both the buyer and seller have agreed, the inspector will issue a conditional certificate under the assumption that the necessary work will be completed after the closing transaction.

Not Sure If You Need a C of O? Ask Your Real Estate Agent!

If you're not sure whether you need a certificate of occupancy, it's a great idea to talk to your real estate agent. They'll check all the local ordinances and help ensure you're meeting all the necessary rules, so your transaction can go as smoothly as possible.


Staging? Don't Forget The Basement

If you're planning to sell your house, home staging techniques can help to move your home to the front of the line for interested buyers. With a few staging ideas from the pros, buyers will notice your home's potential, even in overlooked spaces like the basement that often gets overlooked.

Although your basement may seem like an unimportant space, buyers will definitely check it out when viewing your home. Even if it appears to be a cold, dark space, buyers will investigate it for structural problems, mold and mildew, and potential uses for extra space. Why not give them a pleasant surprise with home staging ideas that can create a functional, inviting basement and enhance your home's potential.

Get Rid of Trash and Clutter
Basements are often unused spaces that collect unwanted household items, old books and magazines, outdated clothes, children's toys, and various yard tools. To potential buyers, these items will likely look like clutter that should be thrown out with the trash. By getting rid of trash and clutter in your basement, buyers can focus on a clean open space that has many potential uses for family needs.

Eliminate Musty Smells and Bad Odors
If your basement has musty smells and bad odors, you can count on scaring buyers away. Since basements are often below ground level, they can easily develop lingering, unpleasant smells from water leaks, excessive moisture, and mold and mildew, especially if they have no windows for airflow. Before showing your home to buyers, take time to freshen up your basement with pleasant, welcoming smells.

Create a Neat Storage Area
Basements with concrete floors and high ceilings can be excellent storage areas. If you have a finished basement, consider adding some free-standing shelving units or bookcases for storage. You can purchase a variety of storage bins, decorative boxes, or colorful containers for an organized, neat appearance. Buyers will be impressed with the organization and extra storage space in the basement.

Make Cosmetic Improvements
Making a few cosmetic improvements in your basement will go a long way towards attracting buyers. For minimal costs, you can patch wall cracks; repair loose stair railings; give walls a fresh coat of paint; install updated lighting fixtures, and throw down a colorful area rug. These simple cosmetic improvements will quickly take your basement from dark and gloomy to cozy and comfortable.

Build a Home Gym or Fitness Center
A basement can be a great space for a home gym or family physical fitness area. It's a space that provides quiet privacy away from busy areas in the house like the kitchen and family room where everyone tends to gather. Consider a basement fitness center that's equipped with a flat-screen TV, surround sound speakers, a small refrigerator or juice bar, and a comfortable recliner or two for relaxing after a workout.

Design a Multipurpose Family Room
If you have a finished basement, you have a variety of possibilities for a multipurpose room. You can turn your basement into a family room, a children's playroom, a home office, a library, or a music room. With a large basement, it's easy to incorporate several functional areas into one space, so the entire family can enjoy various activities while spending time together.

When creating a usable basement space, focus on function, style, and storage. Your basement should not be a catch-all space for all kinds of unused items. If you're planning to sell your home, consider some home staging ideas that will turn your basement into a comfortable space with functional, show-stopping appeal that buyers will love.


Up Your Curb Appeal With These Cheap Ideas

Never underestimate the importance of curb appeal when listing your home on the market. Curb appeal describes the appearance of your home from the street — it's inclusive of your facade, porch, front door, driveway, and landscaping. Your curb appeal is the first thing buyers see when viewing photos of your home online or visiting your home in person, so it's ultimately the key to making a good first impression.

Many sellers incorrectly assume improving curb appeal requires a large investment in landscaping or exterior renovations. The truth is, there are actually many easy, inexpensive things you can do to improve your facade and yard. Below are some quick ideas that can really grab a buyer's attention.

  1. Paint Your Front Door
    The front door is a major focal point of your facade, so it's important to keep it in good condition. Applying a fresh coat of paint to your front door can really help boost curb appeal. Consider changing its color to create a nice contrast between the door and the rest of your facade. A good-looking front door can also make other elements of your home's exterior stand out.
  2. Wash Away Dirt
    Use your garden house to rinse away dirt and debris from your driveway and sidewalk as well as your home's exterior. If you have a power washer, you may want to consider using it to really make your exterior shine. Just be careful when power washing your home's exterior as it could damage your windows.
  3. Maintain Your Trees, Bushes, and Shrubs
    While you don't need to make a significant investment in new landscaping to improve your curb appeal, trimming trees, bushes and shrubs is an easy and inexpensive way to clean up your yard. All you need is a good pair of sheers. By maintaining your landscaping, more of your home's facade will be visible from the street.
  4. Stage A Sitting Area
    A nice sitting area not only creates a welcoming vibe, but it helps potential buyers envision themselves using the space. If you have a front porch, it's easy to set up some patio furniture. If you don't, maybe try to stage a nice sitting area under a tree in the front yard. You can easily place some chairs around a center table or fire pit.
  5. Install A New Mailbox
    Your mailbox is the first thing many visitors see, so it absolutely factors into your curb appeal. If your mailbox is old or in disrepair, replacing it can give your home's exterior a fresh boost. Choose a color that matches your home's facade, and consider planting flowers or plants around its base. There are an endless number of mailbox designs, so choose one that really makes your home's personality.
  6. Maximize Your Lighting
    There are many different types of unique, low-voltage outdoor lighting products on the market. Adding accent lighting around your trees or LED lanterns along your sidewalk are two ways to really make your home stand out in the evening. String lights and lanterns can also make great additions to any front porch.
  7. Add Window Boxes
    An inexpensive, easy way to add some character to your facade is to install window boxes with planters. Wood planters can give your home a charming look, while metal boxes can appear more conventional. Add some flowers that match the color scheme of your facade.

Curb appeal not only makes your home stand out to potential buyers, but it can also increase your home value. You don't have to spend a lot of money to increase your curb appeal. With these tips, you can be well on your way to having the best front yard on the block.


Your Guide To Appraisals

You've listed your home on the market, and the seller has made an offer. Congratulations! Now, it's time for your appraisal.

This is the part of the home selling process where an independent third party determines the value of your home. The results of your appraisal can impact your final selling price, so it's normal to feel a bit nervous going into it. Are you wondering how an appraisal works and what you can do to prepare? Take a look at these tips.

1. Know What to Expect 

Understanding what happens during an appraisal can help calm your nerves and will also help you prepare. Most appraisals take between one to three hours and involve a professional appraiser thoroughly inspecting your property both inside and out. The purpose is to determine the current market value of your property.

Some of the things your appraiser will consider include the age of your home, its location, the size, and what the structure of made of. They'll also consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the layout of your home, and the overall condition of the roof, siding, and interior. Finally, the appraiser will compare your home to the value of comparable homes located nearby.

2. Prepare Your Home for Inspection

Even though an appraiser doesn't value your home based on its cleanliness, it's always a good idea to clean and declutter before they arrive. Sometimes, an appraiser might subconsciously value a home a little lower if it looks like a mess, so it makes sense to take the time to present your home in the best possible light.

3. Gather the Necessary Paperwork

Appraisers will typically ask for information about the home before they arrive. You'll make their job easier and ensure a more accurate appraisal if you give them a list of any major improvements you've made and provide detailed information about the age of your major appliances, HVAC system, and the roof. Whenever possible, also provide copies of the original paperwork.

If your appraiser arrives and finds out there's an addition or something else they didn't know about, all the information they've gathered about comparable homes will be off. This means they'll have to start over — which will delay your results and the closing of your sale. Avoid this by giving full disclosure and providing all of the information upfront.

4. Be Honest in Your Listing

Before your appraisal, it pays to make an honest assessment of what your home really offers. Unfortunately, sellers and their agents are sometimes guilty of listing "puffery." Fudging the numbers, adding square footage, or hoping no one will notice your roof isn't new isn't going to get you anywhere.

While it's sometimes tempting to add a little bit here and there, starting with an honest estimate will make the appraisal process much smoother.

5. Understand the Outcomes 

When you get your appraisal back, there are three possible outcomes: it will be higher or lower than the agreed-upon purchase price, or it will be spot-on. If your appraisal matches the agreed-upon price, you're ready to move forward with the closing, and no additional negotiations are needed.

However, if the appraisal comes in lower, you could have a problem. In this case, you may want to request an appraisal review. During this process, another licensed appraiser will prepare an independent report. This will help confirm the accuracy and completeness of the initial report. If the appraisal is still lower, you may need to re-negotiate with the buyer, and there's a chance they may walk away from the deal.

If your appraisal comes in higher than the agreed-upon price, you can move forward with the closing. However, you also won't have the opportunity to ask for more money. While the buyer will be happy knowing they already have some equity in their new home, knowing you've underpriced yourself may leave you feeling bitter.

This is why it's so important to price your home appropriately from the start. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will help you evaluate the value of your home and price it correctly for the current market conditions. This will help prevent you from having unpleasant surprises when your appraisal is done.


Sellers: How To Make The Right First Impression

You don't have a second chance to make a good first impression, and this couldn't be more true when it comes to selling your home. People often form first impressions within seven seconds of an interaction or experience. First impressions are key to attracting buyers; in fact, many buyers will know within a couple of minutes whether they're going to make an offer or not. As a result, creating a compelling first impression is an essential part of the selling process.

So how exactly do you create a good first impression when selling your home? These tips can help:

  • Start With Your Curb Appeal
    The front of your home is your first chance to make a good impression, as it's the first thing the buyer sees when touring your home. By improving your curb appeal, you can wow buyers as soon as they pull up to your home or enter the driveway. Your facade and landscaping need to be in top condition. Some simple ways to improve your curb appeal include:
    • Painting your front door
    • Power washing your facade
    • Freshen your mulch
    • Plant flowers or shrubs
    • Remove tree branches, leaves, and debris
    • Invest in a new doormat, mailbox, or address numbers
  • Hide Your Pets
    While you may think your cute dog or cat can double as a cute home accessory, some buyers just aren't pet people. Make sure to relocate your pets during house tours and put away any toys or bowls. Also, remove any pet fur or hair from your furniture and be sure to eliminate any pet odors.
  • Depersonalize Your Space
    When touring a home, buyers try to envision their family, pets, furniture, and belongings existing in the space. When your home is filled with too many family photos, knickknacks, or personal color preferences, it becomes harder for the buyer to imagine the space as their own. Put away any personal items and try to keep colors and decor neutral.
  • Clean From Top To Bottom
    When it comes to cleaning, your home should be impeccable. Clean your carpet, scrub your floors, and dust everything you can. You want your home to be as spotless as possible before listing it on the market. If you're not up to the task, you can always consider hiring a cleaning company to do the work for you.
  • Make Repairs
    If your home is showing obvious visual signs that repairs are needed, it's best to take care of them before showing your home. Replace broken doorknobs, check for leaks throughout the house, add caulk to tubs and sinks, and replace light bulbs. Buyers can be very detail orientated, and if something is broken or out of order, it can create a very unappealing first impression.
  • Freshen Up The Space
    Adding simple accessories, such as fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit can go a long way towards freshening up the space. You want buyers to feel welcome when touring the house. If you're holding an open house, you may even want to consider providing light refreshments.
  • Maximize Light
    An important part of making a good first impression is to maximize your home's light exposure. Not only will this make your home appear bright and welcoming, but light also helps spaces look larger. Make sure your blinds and curtains are open, and if any rooms don't receive enough light, try supplementing them with additional lamps or lighting.

When listing your home on the market, be sure to set yourself up for success. It takes many buyers less than 10 or 15 minutes to tour a home, so you only have a short period of time to make a good impression.


Should You Take Your Home Off The Market?

Wondering if it's time to reconsider your home listing?

As the seller, you have the power to take your property off the market anytime. You'll be able to start over again whenever the timing is right for you.

In general, you should aim to sell your home within 30 days of listing. Your real estate agent will work around the clock to promote your home to the right buyers. But for whatever reason, you might find your home hasn't attracted enough attention in 60 or even 90 days. This is the most common scenario when buyers choose to start over at a later date.

The longer a home is listed, the more likely buyers will think something is wrong with it! That said, there are other reasons you might withdraw your listing. Pulling a listing now doesn't mean you'll have a more difficult time selling later. In fact, giving yourself a few months to reassess can help you sell at a higher price.

If any of these apply to you, it might be wise to take your home off the market:

  • Your Financial Circumstances Change
    As the seller, you usually don't end up paying closing costs. Still, moving can be disruptive, and there are always some out-of-pocket expenses. If you were laid off or have reduced hours, you might want to rethink your listing, especially if financing for your next home isn't locked in. Emergency expenses, like fixing your car, should often take priority over moving if your plans are flexible.

  • You're Getting Disappointing Offers
    One of the most important services a real estate agent offers is the ability to price your home to sell. Pricing a home is a scientific process that involves crunching numbers from recent local sales. While this goes a long way to selling, market conditions always factor in. Especially in a hot "seller's market," you might decide you don't want to settle for less than what your home is really worth.

  • Home Inspection Turns Up a Problem
    Most buyers are turned off by "as-is" listings, which make them suspicious. Likewise, the majority of buyers will insist on a complete home inspection. Standard mortgage loans now require a recent inspection report on file. Electrical and plumbing problems are the issues most likely to chase buyers away. If you discover these or other woes, you can save time by de-listing and focusing on fixes.

  • Your Home Isn't on Trend
    Remember, buyers also use real estate agents. To represent a buyer's interests, their agent will usually show them several similar homes that meet their needs. If yours is the only one without a brand new kitchen, for example, you'll be at a disadvantage compared to the rest. By pulling your listing, you have more time to decide what upgrades fit into your budget and are most likely to provide a return on investment.

  • You Simply Decide Not to Sell
    Selling your home is a big decision. The changes ripple through every aspect of your life. Sometimes, you may not know how you really feel about selling until the process has already kicked off. Odds are good that you have a few weeks to mull it over — but you have to jump in before you contract with a buyer. When it simply doesn't feel right, many sellers ultimately go with their gut.

Whatever your situation, you can get the best advice from a trusted real estate agent. Your agent is an ally who'll listen to your concerns and help you chart the right path, whether that's a big sale now or a re-list later.


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.


A Pre-Listing Home Inspection Can Save Time And Money

It might be a "seller's market" right now, but it's still a good idea to do everything you can to make sure your home sells for the right price. Getting a pre-listing home inspection is a simple step that can make a major difference. This inspection is paid for by the seller and is typically done before the home is placed on the market. While you might think this is unnecessary, there are several important benefits you'll enjoy. Here are a few of the most important.

You'll Be Able to Make Repairs Before Listing Your Home

Nobody wants to be blindsided when they're trying to sell their home. Getting a pre-listing inspection will allow you to learn about any problems and take care of them before putting your house on the market. 

Making simple repairs can help your home show better. You may also save money by giving yourself the time to shop around for contractor options, buy materials when they're on sale, and allow for a longer timeline.

Even if you decide not to make the repairs, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won't run into any unpleasant surprises when the buyer's inspection comes in.

It Allows You to More Accurately Price Your Home

If there are problems with your home and you don't want to fix them, you can factor the cost of the repairs into your asking price. Since buyers often overestimate the costs of repairs during negotiations, taking care of issues ahead of time could save you a significant amount of money.

On the other hand, if you have a home inspection that shows your property is free of issues, you may also be able to ask for a higher price.

You'll Enjoy a Smoother and More Efficient Transaction

The last thing you want to do is get into a long negotiation with the buyer after your inspection. When you don't have to deal with haggling over recently-discovered repair needs, you'll go under contract and get to closing far faster.

An inspection that shows a major problem is one of the main reasons buyers walk away from a deal. Since the buyer will receive full disclosure ahead of time, there's also less chance that they'll be surprised by something and change their mind or demand a far lower price.

You'll Gain the Buyer's Trust 

Since buying a home is a huge financial commitment, it makes sense that buyers are sometimes wary. By providing your pre-listing inspection ahead of time, you're showing that you're trustworthy and aren't trying to hide anything. This will make the buyer feel more confident and may increase the chances of getting a fair offer much faster.

It Will Make Your Listing More Competitive

While getting a pre-listing inspection is becoming more popular, it's still not done by all sellers. If your home is the only one on the market that has one, your listing will be more competitive. This makes it more likely that you'll receive an offer quickly and at the price you're looking for.

A pre-listing home inspection shows potential buyers that your home is safe and secure. It's easy and inexpensive to obtain one, making it well worth the effort.


Landscaping Changes You Should Make Before Selling

When you're ready to sell your house, you know it's important to make repairs and spruce up your home's interior so that you can come closer to getting your asking price. But it's not just the interior that counts. You should also take a good hard look at the landscape and make a list of things that could be improved. A neat, well-maintained landscape that shows loving care will make an impression. There's just nothing like a well-tended expanse of green lawn, along with some eye-catching color in flower beds to lure the drive-bys into stopping and taking a closer look.

So what makes sense to repair, upgrade, or renovate in your landscaping?

  1. The lawn
    A well-maintained lawn is one of the best ways to boost your property's curb appeal. A rich expanse of cool green will communicate that your property has been well and lovingly cared for. It takes more than one season to create a nice lawn, so start in the spring, using pre-emergent to get rid of weeds. Follow up by planting sparse areas with sod or grass seed. Be sure to monitor for weeds, using spot herbicides as needed. Likewise, look for pest damage from grubs, chinch bugs, and other common pests. Make sure your lawn is well watered (about an inch of water a week); pay particular attention to watering new sod. Installing an irrigation system to keep the grass watered will be an attractive upgrade.

  2. Flower beds
    Creating flower beds, whether perennials or annuals, can help sell your home. Flower beds can go along the front of the house, around trees, or in front of shrub plantings, or as a berm in the middle of the yard, with a border of pavers or flashing to delineate the bed. Flower beds are a way to add color all during the growing season. Planting annuals, which you can change as the season progresses, are a quick way to get some color in your landscape. After planting, add mulch, both to retain moisture and suppress weeds, as well as to give the flower beds a finished look. Keep flower beds weed-free during the time you're trying to sell your home.

  3. Trees and shrubs 
    Tidy up your trees and shrubs. You don't have to be a topiary artist, but do aim for trimming hedges into even, neat shapes. If trees are looking shaggy and limbs are sagging, hire a pro to trim them neatly. Make sure limbs are cut away from the roofline.

  4. Special features
    Ponds, waterfalls, and fancy planters can be beautiful but may not be that attractive to a prospective buyer. These features sometimes require considerable maintenance to keep in good repair, so prospective buyers may not find them appealing. Consider taking out any of these features that might detract from the overall picture of your home as a desirable place to live.

  5. Decks and patios
    While some outdoor features are not that appealing, a patio or deck can be very attractive to potential buyers. But make sure these features are in good shape. Start by cleaning them, and in the case of the deck, repainting if need be. The deck should also be of sound construction so that it feels steady. If it wobbles and obviously needs some repairs, bite the bullet and have it repaired. Clean patio slabs. There is a patio cleaning product specifically for this purpose.

Above all, make sure the exterior of your property is clean, weed free, and that plants, including the lawn, are neatly trimmed.


Negotiating Your Home Sale

As a seller, it's understandable to look for a big win. Your property is an investment, and you've worked hard on it. Negotiation is the art of maximizing your upside and minimizing your downside so the sale meets your goals.

An experienced real estate agent brings negotiating skills to the table — along with all that implies. To negotiate effectively, your agent must be deeply familiar with the market and adept at seeing others' motivations.

As the seller, however, yours is the last word. So, don't worry that you'll end up sitting back with no say in the process. When you collaborate with your agent, you have the opportunity to shape the circumstances. Sticking to your interests can be very worthwhile!

Let's take a closer look at the essentials of negotiating your home sale:

  • Set the Stage to Your Benefit
    Your decision about when to enter the market makes a tremendous impact on your negotiating position. Before your listing goes live, consult with a real estate agent you trust. Find out about the pattern of sales in your neighborhood and use your agent's expertise to choose a price attractive to both you and prospective buyers.

  • Establish Your Goals at the Start
    In addition to price, time is a factor that can sap your negotiating clout: You have much more power if you can afford to wait. Be honest and upfront with your agent about your goals so negotiations can proceed accordingly. This influences the approach you will take with buyers who make an offer that's less than ideal.

  • Counter at Your List Price
    Buyers come into a negotiation session prepared to haggle. Their opening gambit often includes a lower offer than your listing price. By countering at your list price rather than below, you discover which buyers are serious about the property. Buyers whose finances are in doubt are more likely to retreat when they see this.

  • Don't Be Afraid to Reject Offers
    An alternative tactic is to reject a buyer's offer but provide no counteroffer. This leaves the buyer to develop their own reply, which can give you valuable insights into their thinking. It sends an even stronger signal that you expect to be paid what the property is worth. Plus, you can continue to negotiate with other buyers.

  • Encourage a Bidding War
    Rejecting offers might leave buyers with the impression they're competing against many others, but there's no substitute for the real thing. Refusing to entertain any offers until an open house creates the environment for buyers to know they're in competition and start off with more aggressive offers than they otherwise would.

  • Use Counteroffer Deadlines
    As the seller, you can control the tempo of negotiations even if you are discussing with many buyers. If you set expiration dates on your counteroffers, you will have a better understanding of when you can expect to hear back from buyers. This also helps conclude talks faster if you receive an offer you wish to follow up on.

  • Use Closing Costs to Your Advantage
    Buyers disdain closing fees, often seeing them as unnecessary "extras." By agreeing to pay closing fees, you smooth the path to a sale. In exchange, you can raise your asking price. Buyers generally cannot borrow to pay closing costs, but they can borrow a few thousand dollars more for a price change, making up the difference.

Like many things in life, negotiation sounds tougher than it usually is. Keep the lines of communication open with your real estate agent, and you can jump into the process with both feet, making a successful sale much more certain.


What To Do After You Sell Your Home

Selling your home isn't always easy. It's a long and sometimes stressful process, and once you get through it, you might wonder, "now what?"

First and foremost, take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief, and acknowledge your accomplishment. Selling a home is a major milestone, and it's worth celebrating. Once you've done that, it's time to consider what comes next.

  • Get Ready for the Inspection
    Some homeowners forget that a home inspection will be conducted before all the final contracts are signed on closing day. It shouldn't be a big deal. Just make sure your house is clean and up to code, and be prepared to stay out of the way on inspection day.

  • Save All Your Paperwork
    By the time you've finished selling your home, you'll probably never want to look at paperwork again. But don't make the mistake of throwing it away. You'll need the paperwork related to selling your house for tax purposes, and for obtaining a loan to buy your next home. So get a sturdy file box to store it in, and tuck it away somewhere you know it will be safe.

  • Know the Tax Laws
    Tax laws are always changing, so it's important to stay current to avoid losing money on the sale of your home. It's always advisable to work with a tax professional if you've sold your home this year, even if you normally file your own taxes.

  • Get Moving
    Most people sell their home while they're still living there. If that's the case, it's time to get the moving process underway as soon as a closing date has been determined. Find a reputable moving company, go through your home to determine what you can throw out or donate, stock up on moving supplies, and get packing!

  • Choose Your Next Home Carefully
    If you sold your old house without having your next one lined up, that's okay. Take your time, and don't feel pressured to buy another home right away. The most important thing is to make sure your next home offers everything your family needs. There's nothing wrong with renting for a while so you can take the time to find your dream home.

  • Update the Post Office
    It's best to schedule mail forwarding in advance, but if you didn't do that while your home was on the market, be sure to do so now. It's also best to separately notify your bank and credit card companies of your change in address. If you're in a temporary rental situation or haven't closed on your new home yet, you can always rent a PO box or ask the post office to hold your mail.

  • Change Your Utilities
    You'll need to cancel your old utility accounts as you move out of your old home. If you're also moving into a new home or getting ready to do so, you may just want to put these accounts on pause before transferring them to your new place.

  • Be Smart with the Money
    If you haven't sold a home before, you're probably not getting checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That in itself can be intimidating, and it's important to pick the right place to put that money. If you're planning on using it to buy your next house in the relatively near term, a money market mutual fund might be the best option.

Many homeowners go into the process of selling their home focused only on how to selling but not on what happens afterward. Once your home has been sold, the hardest part may be behind you, but taking these final steps will help avoid any last-minute hang-ups.


Kitchen Upgrades To Make Before Selling

Whether you realize it or not, the kitchen is often the centerpiece of a home. If you're entertaining family or guests, or you're simply closing the day with your evening dinner, odds are these events all begin by cooking in the kitchen. Considering how much time we spend in the kitchen, it makes sense that this space should be clean, organized, and stylish. After all, if you don't like how your kitchen looks or functions, you're less likely to use it and more likely to spend money on meals you could easily whip up at home. That's why it's critical to get the kitchen right when you're selling your home. Here are the upgrades you consider first for making your kitchen buyer ready.

  • Start with a deep clean
    This first one isn't really an upgrade, but it may be something you've been putting off. Sure, we all clean our stovetop every week out of necessity, but when was the last time you wiped off the top of your refrigerator or organized your spices? Keeping everything clean and organized will also help you gauge which upgrades are best worth your time and effort.
  • Give your cabinets a makeover
    In a perfect world, you may be able to replace your cabinets with brand new ones that will wow potential buyers. But it's more likely you'll have to work with the existing cabinets in your kitchen. The dominant cabinet color in homes is white, but you'll want to make the right decision for repainting based on the colors and decor in the rest of your kitchen. You could also consider buying new doors for your cabinets since these will be guaranteed to be brand new and are easily installed with a screwdriver.
  • Change out the counters
    This can be a pretty big job, depending on how much you want to change your existing countertops. If your counters show wear and scratches, this upgrade may be a must since it raises cleanliness issues, aside from the obvious eyesore of marred counters. If you understandably can't fit a stone countertop into your budget, tile counters are far cheaper and can be just as appealing.
  • Get matching fixtures
    If your kitchen's fixtures are worse for wear, or if they don't match, this is a great opportunity to give a coherent feeling to the space with new, matching fixtures. This is likely a job you can do yourself, and it promises a great return on your investment. Buyers will also appreciate that they don't need to do any extra work to make things match once they decide to buy.
  • Put in new flooring
    Again, this is one that may be cost-prohibitive depending on your budget, but it's hard to argue with the wow factor of a brand new, beautiful kitchen floor. The floor takes up so much surface area that it's something buyers will instantly notice (and something the buyer will notice every day they live in the house). Hardwood floors are extremely desirable in the kitchens of today, so if you're still rocking that linoleum, it may be time for the upgrade.
  • Upgrade your backsplash
    If your backsplash is outdated, or if you don't have one at all, a new backsplash can really bring a kitchen together. Not only does a nice backsplash add visual appeal to the kitchen, but it also helps with cleanup since tile is easier to clean than a bare wall.

Your budget will undoubtedly affect what upgrades you can do to your kitchen before selling, but there are plenty of repairs and renovations that can be completed at little to no cost. Don't underestimate one of the most important rooms in the house, and use these tips to make your kitchen irresistible to buyers.


Sellers: Why You Should Upgrade Your Outdoor Space

Whether you're thinking of selling soon or you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, your outdoor space is more important now than ever before. With the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in our minds, most homeowners are re-evaluating their space and re-prioritizing what's important to them.

Today, many buyers are focused on making the best use of all available space. This has created a strong trend towards all types of outdoor upgrades. It's now one of the most sought-after features among home buyers, and we don't see this trend going away any time soon. Still not convinced? Here are three reasons to consider spending some of your time this summer upgrading our outdoor space.

1. Increased Home Value

Many outdoor upgrades increase the amount of usable living space on your property. According to a January 2021 survey conducted for the International Casual Furnishings Association, people spend more time outdoors doing things like grilling, dining, gardening, and spending time with their children and pets.

People want outdoor spaces that complement both their homes and their lifestyles. They want privacy, relaxation, and comfort when they're spending time outdoors. Since this is so desirable right now, you can expect upgrades that support these goals to earn you a solid return on your investment.

2. Improved Curb Appeal

Upgrades to your driveway, front entrance area, and landscaping will all improve your curb appeal. This will make your home more attractive and inviting. It will also go a long way towards making it more desirable when you decide to sell.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don't miss out. You'll be surprised by how much even small upgrades like replacing your mailbox or house numbers can improve your home's curb appeal.

3. Long-Term Enjoyment

Even if you don't plan to sell your home any time soon, it's worth considering moving forward on the outdoor upgrade you've been dreaming of. Countless studies tout the benefits of spending time outdoors.

Creating a space where you can relax and enjoy your time off without ever leaving the comfort of your home will do wonders for your physical and mental health. You'll also have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're making smart moves and keeping your home on-trend.

2021's Top Outdoor Upgrades

Outdoor kitchens top the list of desirable outdoor upgrades. This can range from a covered grill with some cabinet space to a full gourmet kitchen complete with pizza ovens, dishwashers, and more. Other desirable features include outdoor heating (ex. fire pits), outdoor bars, and comfortable outdoor seating areas. In some locations, inground pools are also making a comeback. Decks, patios, and outdoor gazebos are also growing in popularity.

It's important to note that you don't have to break the bank to follow this trend. Even a simple landscaping update can make a major difference in the value of your home. Other simple upgrades to consider include replacing your garage door, installing a sprinkler system, updating your front door, and adding landscape lighting.


What You Should Know About Agent Commission

If you're planning to list your home for sale, chances are you'll be relying on an experienced real estate agent to help you seal the deal. Both your agent and your future buyer's agent will play an important role in creating a smooth transaction process. In return, agents are usually compensated with a commission based on the home's final sale price. Because agents are only paid after a successful closing, they're motivated to help you sell quickly and efficiently while achieving the best possible sale price.

Agent commission structures can be confusing, and when it comes time for a closing, many clients are unsure how their agents are paid or how to calculate the fees. To help clear up any uncertainty, below are some common questions and answers related to agent commissions. 

  • What Is An Agent Commission?
    The majority of agents charge a commission based on a percentage of the home's sale price as payment for their services. The total commission for a home sale is generally between 5% and 6%. However, this commission is usually split between the buyer's agent and the seller's agent. Then, both agents usually have to split their take with their broker. The exact percentages may vary depending on the agent, location, and the unique transaction details. Because agents are only paid when you're paid, they're motivated to help you achieve the best possible outcome during the home selling process.

  • What Does The Agent Commission Cover?
    Real estate agents provide a number of essential services to help you achieve the best possible return on your home. Helping you determine a sale price, market your listing, and guide you through the closing process are just a few of the many ways agents help their clients. Additionally, agents are experienced negotiators and they know how to handle buyers and buyer's agents. A commission based on the sale price is usually the only compensation an agent receives for their services.

  • Who Is Responsible For Paying The Commission?
    It depends on how you look at it. Agent commission is not included in the closing costs, which are additional fees that support activities required to facilitate the transaction. Closing costs are usually covered by the buyer. Instead, agent commission is usually baked into the sale price of the home. As a result, some may consider agent commissions to be seller-funded, but unlike closing costs, agent commissions are not additional fees paid on top of the sale price.

  • Are Agent Commissions Negotiable?
    In some cases, agents may be willing to negotiate lower commission rates. This most frequently occurs when a single agent is serving as both the buyer's and the seller's agent. However, because most agents are required to split their commissions with a broker, negotiating a lower commission rate isn't always feasible. Also, many agents self-fund marketing initiatives and reimburse themselves after the closing.

  • Do You Have To Pay A Commission If Your Home Doesn't Sell?
    Sellers are not usually required to pay an agent if the home doesn't sell; however, there may be exceptions. Agent commission is usually triggered when the seller accepts a buyer's offer. If an agent finds a buyer while under contract, and the sale closes after the agent's contract expires, the seller may still owe the agent a commission. Another example may be backing out of the deal after you've accepted an offer. In this case, you'll likely still be liable for both seller and buyer commissions. It's always a good idea to read your contracts carefully and be sure you're clear on the terms.

Agent commissions can certainly be confusing, especially if you're selling your first home. While they may seem like extra fees, it's important to remember that you'll likely recover your costs and more if you're working with an experienced agent.


The Cost of Selling a Home

Perhaps you've seen the signs in front of some homes: "For Sale by Owner." The assumption for most of us is that this seller has decided to avoid paying agent fees and is hoping to pocket those fees. Is this a good idea though?

Agents' fees are just one of the many costs of selling a home. Let's take a look at these and other costs you're likely to encounter when you sell your home.

  1. Real estate agent's fees.
    Real estate agents usually charge 5-6 percent of the home purchase price. (Be sure to ask potential agents about the commission fee. Agree on terms in writing.)  Seller's agents are likely to split commissions with buyer's agents, who usually don't charge clients.

    If you're thinking about trying to sell your home yourself, be mindful of all the things you'll have to do and all the costs involved: marketing and signs, photography, hosting an open house, and legal representation for paperwork. There's also the real estate agent's extensive knowledge that helps them negotiate the best price. Are you up for all that? Having a real estate agent also opens you up to a wider pool of potential buyers by listing your home on the MLS (multiple listing services). 

  2. Property taxes.
    Sellers owe a prorated share of property taxes. That figure could run from zero to several thousand dollars, depending on the due date of the taxes. You might also face a capital gains tax, depending on how much profit you make for your home. 

  3. Mortgage payoff.
    You'll have to pay off your mortgage, but count on the payoff amount being different from the balance due listed on the last mortgage statement because of interest charges. 

  4. Title policy for a new homeowner.
    The seller sometimes pays for a new homeowner's title policy at an average cost of $1000. Also, if a title search reveals a lien on a home, that lien should be settled before you can sell the home. 

  5. Home repairs.
    You may have to shoulder the costs of major home repairs to make the sale go through. Otherwise, you might have to discount the sale price. Another option for an older home is a home warranty, priced from $300-600 for a one-year warranty. This would cover most of the repair costs if something major breaks down after the sale.

  6. Moving costs.
    Even if you pack up your home yourself, there are still costs for materials and movers. The cost of moving will vary, but count to pay on average $1250 for a local move and $4890 for a long-distance move.

  7. Home staging.
    Let's say your home doesn't sell as quickly as you'd hoped. You may want to enlist the services of a professional home stager. These pros will come into your home, assess its best selling points, and advise you or else do the work themselves to present your home to its best advantage. The home stagers will not only rearrange furniture and change the interior but may rent furniture. Costs could be from $500 to $2000.

  8. Miscellaneous buyers' costs.
    While buyers customarily pay for mortgage fees, appraisal expenses, and home inspections, the seller sometimes offers to pay some of these closing costs to seal the deal. This could add up to about 2-5 percent of the selling price.

It's helpful when selling your home to make a list or a spreadsheet of all possible costs you're likely to incur to avoid surprises during the selling process. A good real estate agent will also make the selling process a lot smoother.


How To Pack For A Move When You're Selling

Packing for a move while you're trying to sell your home can be tricky. As your real estate agent will tell you, you want your home to look a certain way when potential buyers visit. Everything ideally should be neat and tidy, and yet the very act of moving ordains that there will be a certain amount of chaos as you stage your move into another home. What to do?

Here are some tips that can help.

Empty or staged: Which is best?
An empty house isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to selling your home. Certainly, potential buyers won't have any trouble imagining their lives against the backdrop of your empty home. 

On the other hand, you may think making your home look a little bit lived in would help it sell. Perhaps you want to leave window treatments in place, as well as some rugs, a coffee table, other objects that liven up a space.

If you're going to host potential buyers while you're moving, do try to keep the home spotlessly clean, and even if you're still packing, keep clutter at a minimum, making use of closets and a storage room to stow your packing while showing the home.

Clear out the clutter. 
The first step in any move is to clear out everything you can say goodbye to. Be strong: if you haven't used it over the last year, get rid of it, whether that means recycling, donating, selling, or pitching. This goes for clothes, furniture, decorative items, appliances, dishes, and cookware.

Be organized about packing.
Acquire your boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape early and in plentiful supply, so you don't run out. If you know someone who can give you boxes in good shape, that's great, but make sure they are not so old they're going to collapse once full.

Pack according to rooms, using color-coded tape: green for the bedroom, red for the kitchen, etc. Do not fill boxes, so they are too heavy to lift. For breakable items, be sure to wrap them and fill up the box with newspaper or other filler, so they don't shift around in transit. You can also wrap breakables with towels and washcloths, so you maximize space.

For bedroom drawers, try wrapping them with plastic wrap and taping them so you can leave the contents inside. Bundle clothes on hangers into a large plastic bag and tape up the ends, so you don't have to fold all those clothes.

Make sure everything's shipshape in the new home.
Before you start moving in, check that everything's running right in the new home: electricity, phone lines, internet, toilets and other plumbing, and all appliances. As your family gets ready to move in, direct everyone to pack a small bag with necessities such as a change of clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste, and other toiletries, so they don't have to search through boxes.

There's a lot to think about when you're selling a home and getting ready for a move. But the more organized you are, the easier both processes will go. Be sure to utilize the services of your real estate agent for the best results.


How To Learn Your Home's Market Value

If you've been thinking about selling your home, there are many decisions you'll need to make. Choosing the right listing price is one of the most important. To do this, you'll need to understand the current market conditions and the value of your home. 

Luckily, finding this information isn't as complicated as you might think. Start with these five tips.

Use Free Online Valuation Tools

As with most things in life, you can begin your home value research online. There are many free online valuation tools available, and you can find them by simply typing "How much is my home worth?" into any search engine. 

These tools, which are technically called an "automated valuation model" (AVM), use public records and mathematical modeling to predict your home's value. Unfortunately, these resources aren't always super accurate. However, they'll give you a good starting point. 

Use the House Price Index Calculator 

If you're still in the early stage of your research but you want more accuracy, take a look at the Federal Housing Financing Agency's House Price Index (HPI) calculator. This tool uses a "repeat sales method," which tracks the change in a home's value from one sale to the next. It then uses this information to predict the next value. 

There are some drawbacks, though. The HPI calculator only looks at conforming home mortgages and doesn't make seasonal or inflation adjustments. Still, it's a simple way to see how much your home may have appreciated over time. 

Request a Comparative Market Analysis

When you're ready to take a deeper dive, it's time to reach out to a real estate agent and request a comparative market analysis (CMA). While this report isn't as detailed as a professional appraisal, it will provide you with an expert's estimate of your home's value. 

Many agents will provide a CMA for free or for a nominal cost. However, be aware that there's a good chance they'll do so in the hopes of becoming your selling agent. 

Hire a Professional Appraiser

If a buyer wants to purchase your home using borrowed money, the lender will require a professional appraisal. As a seller, it's sometimes a good idea to hire your own appraiser before you list your home. Not only will this help you set the right asking price, but it will also help ensure you don't end up with any unpleasant surprises. 

Evaluate Comparable Properties 

When determining your home's value, one of the things all of the sources above have in common is that they look at the recent sales of comparable properties (also called "comps"). It's also possible to evaluate comps on your own. However, this is the most complicated option, and it's critical to make sure you're actually doing an "apples to apples" comparison. When looking for comparable properties, make sure they're very similar in terms of location, size, condition, and upgrades.

To do a fair evaluation, you'll need at least three comps. It's unlikely you'll find enough homes that are exactly like yours, so you'll need to make adjustments for differences. For example, if a comp had one more bedroom than yours, it's likely your home is worth a bit less. Making adjustments correctly requires knowledge of market conditions. This quite difficult if you don't have industry experience.

Since pricing your home appropriately is so critical to the selling process, we recommend working with an experienced real estate agent who can help you determine your home's value within a reliable range.


Sellers: Discount or Fix Up?

Whether you're buying or selling a home, the sales price is always at the top of the agenda. For sellers, the final sales price affects bottom-line profit and future plans. For buyers, it impacts future expenses for bills, home repairs, and renovations. Before selling your home, it's essential to consider repairs and upgrades that impact your profit and decide whether making them is your best option.

Many homeowners are faced with the dilemma of selling their home in "as is condition" or sinking money into needed repairs and upgrades. To answer that question, you need to evaluate necessary repairs, examine your financial situation, and research local real estate markets to determine the return on your investment.

Evaluate Necessary Repairs

All homes need repairs, but some are more urgent than others. If you live in an old home that hasn't had a lot of upgrades, you may have more costly repairs. Start by walking through the house and making a list of repairs and upgrades that may impact your sale. Any repairs to the foundation, roof, plumbing, and HVAC systems (heating and air conditioning) should be at the top of your list because they bring the highest return on your investment.

Other repairs and upgrades that add value include:

  • A fresh coat of paint
  • New flooring (carpets, wood, tile)
  • New sinks and bathtubs
  • New appliances
  • Updated light fixtures
  • New gutters
  • Installing sprinkler systems
  • Installing alarm systems

Examine Your Finances

Selling your home means moving to a new location. Whether you're buying your dream home across town, relocating out-of-state, or downsizing in retirement, you must consider moving expenses, as well as other move-in costs such as monthly bills, home repairs and upgrades, property improvements, property taxes, and mortgage payments, unless you pay cash. If you discount the sale of your home to allow the buyer to make necessary repairs, how does that impact your future finances?

Some buyers look for fixer-uppers, but generally that means minor repairs like new carpeting, new paint, and new light fixtures. Major repairs like a new roof, new windows, new plumbing, and a new electrical system are too costly. When major repairs are necessary, a buyer will usually offer a significantly lower price, ask the seller to pay for repairs, or walk away from the sale. Most buyers want a home that's in move-in condition, but you have to make sure necessary repairs won't impact your financial situation.

Research the Local Real Estate Market

Researching homes for sale in your area can help with decisions on making repairs. In most cases, fixer-uppers reflect a lower sales price than homes with numerous upgrades and renovations. You can view homes online or talk to your real estate agent about important repairs and upgrades that boost sales and provide the best return on investment.

Smart sellers weigh the cost of making improvements against the home's market value after improvements are completed. If you notice that most higher-priced homes for sale have upgraded kitchens, that's probably because the return on investment is high. This doesn't mean you have to tear out the cabinets and install top-of-the-line designer appliances. In some cases, painting old cabinets, installing new hardware, and hanging new light fixtures are enough to give your kitchen an updated look.

When you're selling a home "as is," this means you will not make any repairs or offer the buyer any discount to cover the cost of repairs. Based on your real estate needs and your timeline to move, your real estate agent can help you decide whether an "as is" sale or a discounted price is your best option.


Best ROI Home Improvement Projects

Making home improvements either for your family to enjoy or for the purpose of selling your home is a great idea. But some improvements are a better use of your money than others, so how do you know you're spending your home improvement dollars wisely?

This is an important question if you plan to sell in the near future. You'll want to undertake projects that have a higher return on investment (ROI), ones that will help sell your home at a better price, allowing you to recoup most of if not more than what you put in. In general, focus on projects that leave a big impression on buyers. Here's where you can focus your efforts.

Home maintenance

Buyers expect and assume the basic systems of a house are functioning as intended. They don't want to think about maintenance, at least initially. They know these types of repairs can potentially be costly, and it will impact the selling price.

  • New roof or siding. Buyers realize the importance of these parts of the home and even though it's a more expensive project, they have a high ROI.
  • Windows. Replacing the windows can help curb appeal too. It can also improve the energy efficiency and possibly the security of the home.
  • Paint. It's relatively inexpensive and can be a DIY project. It gives the area a whole new look. You could also paint something like the front door or kitchen cabinets for a high-impact project.   

Curb appeal

When you're selling, the first impression is so important. Improving your curb appeal gets your home noticed and buyers in the door.

  • Landscaping. This can easily be a high ROI project, especially if you plan on doing it yourself. The best landscape designs are simple with clean lines. You don't want buyers to think they would have to do a lot of work to maintain it. Keep everything mowed, trimmed, and edged. Paint the fence, and add mulch. Plants should provide some color.
  • Replace the front door. It can change the look of the entry area and improve energy efficiency.

More useable space

Projects that create additional living space or improve the efficiency and function of an existing space almost always make a big impact.

  • Minor kitchen and bathroom remodels. You recoup more of your investment on a smaller remodel project, so if you can avoid gutting these spaces entirely, do it. Skip the bells and whistles and high-end finishes that can drive the cost up. Painting cabinets and changing out the hardware are a good place to start.
  • Convert an attic to an extra bedroom. An extra bedroom is always a win with buyers. It can increase your selling price quite a bit in most areas.
  • Add a second bathroom. If you can add an extra bathroom to an older home, even a half bath, it's worth the effort. In hot markets, you may even recoup more than 100% of the cost.
  • Create an outdoor living space. Any kind of outdoor living space is in high demand right now. If you don't have one, adding it will definitely pay off. The most basic way to go is a patio, but you could opt for a deck or porch if you want to spend more money.
  • Finish the basement. It doesn't necessarily have to be fully finished and furnished, but enough that buyers can imagine how they might use the space.

Making the most of your home improvement dollars with a high ROI project will really pay off when it's time to sell. You'll make a better impression with buyers and that translates to a better selling price.


Tax Deductions You Can Take From Selling Your Home

Tax season is upon us, and if you sold your house in 2020 (or are planning to sell it in the future), you're in luck! Thanks to the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there are some tax deductions you can take that may result in serious savings! Here are a few of the most important.

  1. Capital Improvements
    If you've made certain upgrades to your home before selling, the IRS allows you to add the costs of these "capital improvements" to your home's cost basis. This can reduce the amount of capital gains tax you may owe after you sell your home.

    It's important to note that not all repairs and upgrades meet the government's definition of a capital improvement. Some of the things that meet the guidelines include upgrading your HVAC system, adding a lawn sprinkler system, adding an additional bedroom, bathroom, deck, garage, porch, or patio, updating your water heater, adding built-in appliances, and more. If you make any improvements or upgrades to your home, be sure to hold onto all your receipts. When it's time for you and your tax preparer to complete your return, they can review your expenses and determine what may qualify.
  1. Selling Costs
    Costs tied directly to the sale of your home are deductible as long as the home is your primary residence and you lived there at least two of the five years prior to the sale. As long as you meet these requirements, you can write off expenses, including real estate commissions, legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and even home staging fees.

    Note that this isn't a direct deduction. Instead, it's subtracted from the sales price of your home, which positively impacts the amount of capital gains tax you might owe.
  1. Mortgage Interest
    Current tax rules allow you to deduct the interest you pay on your home mortgage debt of up to $750,000. Just remember that mortgage interest and property taxes are itemized deductions, and it only makes sense to itemize if the total is higher than your standard deduction.
  1. Property Taxes
    The new 2018 rules capped the amount of property taxes you can write off, but they still allow you to take a deduction of up to $10,000. Make sure you include the amount of any property taxes you paid on your tax return.
  1. Discount Points
    When you pay points in cash to buy down the interest rate on your mortgage or refinance, the IRS allows you to deduct a portion of the points each year until your mortgage is paid in full. When you sell your house and pay off your mortgage loan, you're able to deduct the remaining amount all at once. This is one of the most forgotten-about home selling tax deductions, but it can be significant in some cases.
  1. Moving Expenses
    Unfortunately, not everyone can deduct their moving expenses. However, if you're active-duty military personnel, you'll want to take advantage of this deduction.
  1. BONUS: Capital Gains Taxes
    The capital gains tax rule isn't really a deduction, it's an exclusion. However, it's so important that we decided to add it to this list. Capital gains are the profit you make from selling your home. It's the cash left over after you've paid off your mortgage and other expenses. As long as you have lived in the home at least two of the last five years, single filers can exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains, and married filers can exclude up to $500,000.

While the information above is an excellent starting point, remember that each person's finances are different. It's always a good idea to speak to a tax professional before filing your taxes, particularly in years when you have a major life change, like a home sale.


The Truth About Selling a Home As Is

Selling a home "as is" is often viewed as a convenient option for homeowners who are looking to move on from a particular property. In some cases, the seller wants to transact quickly or may not have the financial resources available to make the repairs. 

Selling a home as is means the property will be sold in its current state — no matter how good or bad the condition may be. In other words, the transaction takes place with the understanding that the seller won't be on the hook for any repairs. 

Many believe selling a home "as is" is the easiest way to move on from a property, but that's usually not the case. 

Common Misconceptions About Selling A Property "As Is"

Selling a property as is does not mean the homeowner is excused from having to reveal facts about the property, disclose potential problems, or honestly answer a buyer's questions. States have different rules about which details relating to a home's condition a seller must disclose to a buyer; however, in most cases, it's important to disclose what you know.

Additionally, real estate agents are often required to disclose known details about a home's condition including:

  • Known structural defects 
  • The presence of mold
  • Significant roofing issues
  • The radon levels in the home are higher than the acceptable EPA limit
  • Electric or plumbing problems
  • Termite damage

Many buyers may also be under the impression that they'll have the opportunity to negotiate repairs following the home inspection. However, if you don't plan on committing to any home maintenance, it's important to let the buyer know upfront.

Selling A Home As Is May Impact Buyer's Perception

An "as is" home sale is almost always perceived negatively by potential buyers, so you may be limiting your market size to investors and home flippers. Additionally, it can signal to buyers that you are desperate to sell the home, which means you'll likely lose negotiating leverage. Buyers that are interested are more likely to try to lowball your sale price. As a result, listing a home as is can prove challenging for both sellers and real estate agents.

Reasons Why You Might Want to Sell A Home As Is

While many would recommend avoiding an "as is" home sale if possible,  there are some valid reasons why sellers may want to consider it:

  • A seller can't afford to make the repair costs.
  • A seller is experiencing financial difficulties and needs to close quickly.
  • A seller is ill or does not want to go through the stress of selling a home.

Listing a home can require work and dedication on behalf of a determined seller, but if you are experiencing a situation where you need to list your home "as is", it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons.

Every home sale is unique and presents its own set of challenges. Working with an experienced real estate agent is usually the best way to determine the right strategy for your property.


Navigating a Bidding War

As a seller, finding yourself in the midst of a bidding war might sound like a dream come true. Two or more parties trying to outbid one another as the price of your home climbs higher and higher—what could possibly go wrong?

But a bidding war can backfire on you if you're not careful, leaving you with nothing but wasted time and effort. Here's your seller's guide to navigating a bidding war so you come out on top.

What Is a Bidding War?

It's important to understand what a bidding war is and also what a bidding war isn't. A bidding war is when two prospective buyers are bidding higher and higher to purchase a property. This drives up the price of the property, which can be great for the seller. 

A situation in which two prospective buyers send in differing offers, one higher than the other, is not a bidding war. It simply means that you have multiple offers. The characteristic that defines a bidding war is active competition between the interested parties.

How Do You Handle a Bidding War?

The primary goal when you're selling your home is generally to get the highest possible price. A bidding war may be a great opportunity to accomplish this goal, but it's also important to be honest with your potential buyers and to remember that the highest offer isn't always the best offer. 

  • Look Beyond the Numbers. There are times when it actually makes more sense to accept an offer other than the highest bid. Be sure to take other factors into account, such as the buyer's financial standing, credit score, and whether they have pre-approval for a mortgage.

  • Consider Closing Dates. For most sellers, moving their home quickly is the second most important consideration after price. It may be worthwhile to accept a slightly lower offer if it means closing sooner. 

  • Keep a Level Head. Seeing the offers go up and up can be exciting, but it's important not to let emotions get the better of you when you're navigating a bidding war. Staying level-headed is crucial to not blowing the deal. 

Should You Encourage a Bidding War?

It is possible to encourage a bidding war over your property, and there can be real advantages to doing so. While maintaining a good, transparent relationship with your buyers is a top priority, you can stack the deck in your favor to make a bidding war more likely.

  • Set the Right Asking Price. Creating a situation in which a bidding war is possible starts with deciding on the perfect listing price. Generally speaking, a bidding war is most likely if your home is listed ever-so-slightly below market value. Just be careful not to list it too low, or you could be underselling yourself.

  • Market Like a Pro. Great marketing will get the offers rolling in, which is the best way to encourage a potential bidding war. Create an irresistible listing with professional photographs and a virtual walk-through, and don't neglect social media.

  • Never Fake a Bidding War. It's unethical to tell a buyer that you're entertaining other offers if that isn't really the case. Not only does this unfairly mislead the buyer, but it can also backfire if they become aware of the deception.

By playing your cards right, a bidding war can drive up the price of your home and increase your profit. Of course, to create the prime conditions that might lead to a bidding war, it helps to have a great team of real estate professionals working for you.


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.


Affordable Decor for Staging Your Home

If you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, staging can make a big difference. However, if you're not careful, it can also get very expensive. The good news is, it's totally possible to stage your home without spending a fortune. Here are some tips for finding affordable decor to stage your home.

  1. Less is More
    You don't need a ton of furniture and decor to make your home look great. In fact, when it comes to staging, less is more. Before you add anything, spend some time decluttering, removing personal items (like family portraits), and putting your extra furniture in a storage unit.

    Remember, the whole point of staging is to set up your home so potential buyers can picture themselves living there. This means you'll want to remove anything that's bright, bold, or reflects your unique personality. Consider covering bright paint with neutral colors and removing any unique artwork.
  1. Use Existing Furniture
    If your existing furniture is in decent shape and free of odors, you may be able to use it in your home staging. Sometimes, you can create a whole new look by freshening your couches and chairs up with furniture covers.

    You'll also want to rearrange your furniture to create plenty of space and ensure there's an open flow from room to room.
  1. Add Natural Touches
    Depending on the time of year and the general theme of your home, you may be able to incorporate natural elements for an upscale look that's also inexpensive. For example, consider staging beach homes with driftwood and seashells. A live flower arrangement or natural wreath can also add a touch of class.
  1. Focus on Small Details
    Great staging is often about maintaining a minimal look while adding subtle details. Focus on inexpensive touches like beautiful throw blankets, matching bath linens, or a cookbook strategically placed on the kitchen counter.

    Some of the best items for inexpensively staging your home include:
      • Colorful throw pillows - stylish pillows will make the room pop, making a statement without being too fussy.
      • Fluffy hand towels - the bathroom is an important feature in any home. A new set of soft, fluffy towels will make it more welcoming.
      • Flameless candles - create an inviting ambiance and a soft, warm glow with safe, flameless LED candles.
      • Round accent mirrors - this stylish accent will look great with almost any decor and make your home look bigger.
      • Faux plants - quality faux plants are a great way to add greenery. This will brighten up any room and give it a fresh, homey vibe.
  1. Shop at Discount Stores
    Now that you know what to look for, it's time to find the items you need. You'll save money by hitting up discount stores that sell quality home decor items, like Home Goods, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.

    Other retailers you may want to visit include Ikea, Wayfair, Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Sometimes, you can even find minimalist accents, like apothecary-style jars or simple white tableware, at dollar stores! 

It's easy to create a beautifully staged home without blowing your budget. All you need to do is get creative, use your imagination, and follow these tips. Need some more staging help? Ask your real estate agent for advice! 


What to Expect from a Home Inspection

When you're selling your home, the home inspection is a pivotal moment. It can lead to good news or bad news that potentially derails your sale.

In a home inspection, a property's rooms and building systems are inspected top to bottom by a professional. The inspector produces a full report, including photographic evidence, that outlines the home's defects and any repair work likely to be necessary over the next few years.

It takes about 2-4 hours for an experienced expert to complete the inspection process. During that time, the inspector must have total access to the house, including the attic, basement, and crawl spaces or other hard-to-reach areas. Otherwise, the inspection will not be 100% complete.

Why Is a Home Inspection Important?

The buyer's mortgage lender usually requires a home inspection — the buyer pays out of pocket for the cost, around $200. The inspection helps verify there are no substantial problems with a property, including anything that could make it unsafe or compromise its long-term value.

In rare situations, an inspection can uncover trouble so egregious that the mortgage lender won't go forward with financing. This is most likely if there is a safety concern such as a major fault with electrical wiring. Mortgage programs for first-time buyers tend to impose stricter standards where safety is involved.

Of course, a home inspection doesn't usually shut down an entire transaction!

Much more likely is a situation where the buyer balks. Buyers might ask for a discount on the home's asking price or request that the seller handle some repairs before closing day. Naturally, it can be difficult to finish extensive repairs if you are facing a closing day deadline in just a few weeks.

With that in mind, it's always best for the seller to be proactive. You can get ahead of the game by paying for your own inspection and acting on any discoveries that might give future buyers pause.

What Main Issues Do Home Inspectors Look For?

Home inspectors produce huge, detailed reports — usually in big binders with plenty of photos.

There are certain areas to pay special attention to. The inspector is impartial, but you can be sure you'll hear about it if there are any "red flags" with the potential to bring your home sale to a halt.

That includes:

  1. HVAC System
    No matter what climate you live in, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is crucial to your home's comfort. The average HVAC system has a service life of about 12-15 years and tends to lose efficiency after nine or ten years. Older HVACs will be noted, and buyers rarely want to pay to replace them.
  2. Electrical Wiring & Outlets
    Electrical systems should get periodic inspections to ensure home safety. A single short in your wiring can lead to a fire. If you have an older home, it's a wise idea to install ground fault circuit interrupter outlets in your kitchen, bathroom, and any other areas where outlets are within six feet of water.
  3. Roofing
    Roofing manufacturers often claim their products will last for 20 years. Be wary, though, as even occasional harsh weather can take years off a roof's life. The inspector will get up on the roof, checking for leaks and giving a best estimate for how long the roof will remain sound before replacement.

When inspection time rolls around, sellers and buyers alike have good reason to hold their breath. By getting an inspection done before you go on the market, you put the power in your hands and avoid unpleasant surprises.


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.


5 Fixes to Sell Your Home Fast

When it comes to selling your home, remember there are more savvy buyers out there than ever before. Many insist on a home inspection, and most mortgage lenders won't go forward with a financing package until there's an inspector's report on file. No house is perfect, but the right repairs today can make tomorrow's home maintenance look a lot more manageable. That helps you sell much faster.

Usually, the winning strategy is to go after the biggest problems before selling your home. Those include roof repair, heating and cooling system performance, wiring issues, and sewage or septic system problems. But what if those things are in great shape? If you have any leftover home repair budget, you can invest it in targeted projects. These won't take long, but they can impress prospective buyers and give you negotiating power for the asking price you really want.

Let's review five of the best fast fixes before selling your home:

  1. Lay New Flooring
    Flooring can transform a room's appearance, with lighter flooring tending to make a space look bigger – especially when paired with plenty of natural light. If any of your floors are looking tired, consider laying new laminate flooring. Laminate comes in various colors and styles, is cost-effective per square foot, and is easy to lay yourself. This weekend DIY project can make a big difference in how new your interiors seem.
  2. Update (and Simplify) Your Landscaping
    In spring and summer, mulch serves as a powerful secret weapon to make your yard more appealing. Heaped around your trees and shrubs and in your planting beds, it encourages healthy growth while allowing you to water a little less. This is a good opportunity to simplify, too: Buyers don't want to be dazzled by all the hard work they'll need to do, so consider taking down water features and any time-intensive touches.
  3. Give Your Kitchen Cabinets a Makeover
    No time or funds for a huge kitchen renovation? You don't need to upgrade your entire kitchen when selling your home. Updated kitchen cabinets are a wonderful way to grab attention without spending too much. Instead of buying all new cabinets, consider removing the hardware and doors and cleaning everything thoroughly. 
  4. Replace Your Bathroom Fixtures
    It may only cost a few hundred dollars to replace bathroom fixtures and hardware, such as your sink's faucet and handles, but the impact it has when walking into a room is worth it. Be thorough: Don't forget about the handles on your bathroom cabinets, tub fixtures, and your showerhead. 
  5. Put Up a Fresh Coat of Exterior Paint
    Other than your roof, exterior paint makes the biggest splash in curb appeal. Now is the ideal time to align your exterior with the most popular colors in your neighborhood, so your home looks fresh and tidy. For an added touch of class, paint your door in a complementary color – or replace it with a sturdier one.

As you get ready for selling your home, it's important to balance your investment with expected returns in the form of a higher asking price and a faster time to closing. An experienced local real estate agent can help you take advantage of the most valuable trends.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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! 


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! 


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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! 


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.  


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.  


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! 


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.


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. 


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!


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.


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. 


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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. 

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.  

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. 

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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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. 

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. 

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 a