5 Home Staging Mistakes That Frighten Buyers Away

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house with dark staircaseHalloween is just around the corner. For many homeowners, that means carving pumpkins, hanging up Halloween decorations, and stocking up on fun-sized candy. But if you’re a homeowner who is thinking about selling this fall season, you might be preparing your home for buyers instead of trick-or-treaters.

Home staging is a crucial part of home selling preparation. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 32% of buyers’ agents and 37% of sellers’ agents believe that a staged home increases the amount buyers are willing to pay up to 5%. On a $200,000 property, that’s $10,000!

But is your home effectively staged to sell? If you are preparing your home yourself, beware of these staging mistakes that scare away home buyers — and potentially thousands of dollars.

1. A Dark and Spooky Entryway

Your front entry is one of the first things buyers notice about your home. Peeling paint, deep shadows, and uninviting colors don’t create the best first impression. Turn your front entryway into a focal point by painting your door a bright color that complements your home.

cobwebs on dusty night stand2. Cobwebs in the Corners

At a showing, buyers are going to inspect virtually everything: light fixtures, closets, ceilings, you name it. Thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom (or hire a professional) to make it look like new. You can always ask a friend or neighbor to take an objective look at your home.

3. Startling Colors on Your Walls

The goal of home staging, besides selling your home for top dollar, is to help buyers visualize themselves living in your home. If you have bold, bright colors on your walls, switch to more neutral colors to appeal to all potential buyers.

4. Menacing Halloween Decorations

Staging your home for Halloween is fine in moderation. But remember, not all buyers will think the fake spiderwebs or rubber arms are festive. Unless the headless horseman himself is buying your home, it’s best to keep him out of your front yard.

standing in a long dark hallway5. Hovering Like a Ghost During Showings

How you present your home when it’s on the market goes hand-in-hand with home staging. Make your home available and make yourself scarce during showings. Potential buyers might find it creepy if the current homeowner is lurking somewhere in the shadows.

Thinking of Selling Your Home This Fall?

Selling your home doesn’t have to be scary. We have a wealth of home staging tips and home selling resources that will help you sell quickly and for top dollar. Contact us to learn more.

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6 Ways to Save Money for Your First Home

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savings jar filled with coinsFor many first-time home buyers, the idea of a 20% down payment is terrifying. It’s one of the biggest obstacles to homeownership. Maybe you want to own a home someday, but the thought of saving up thousands of dollars for a home purchase has deterred you from seriously considering it.

Believe it or not, it is possible to save enough money for a down payment and make your dreams of homeownership a reality. Here are just a few of the ways that you can start saving.

1. Track How Much You Spend Now

When saving for your first home, you’ll need to stick to a budget. Awareness of how much you spend can help you figure out where you can cut your costs. Consumer.gov outlines a few tips for creating a budget here.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

home buyer tracking financesEven if you don’t plan to buy a home for a few years, figuring out how much you can afford for your home will make your savings goal more concrete. Don’t forget to include taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance in your monthly payment calculations.

3. Start Small

Start saving for your down payment and other homeownership costs as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the less you will have to cut your spending and the more time you’ll have to reach your goal.

4. Shop Around for Other Loans

If you find that a 20% down payment is unrealistic, you can opt for a mortgage that offers lower down payment options. FHA loans, for instance, offer 3.5% down, and VA loans offer no money down.

Make sure to do your research. If you put less than 20% down on a home, you will have to purchase private mortgage insurance. We can talk more in depth about home financing options available to you.

home buyer looking at bank account5. Make Your Savings Automatic

Many people find it’s easier to save money if it’s automatically transferred into a savings account every month. Check to see if your bank offers automatic funds transfer services, or ask if your employer can direct a portion of your paycheck into your savings account.

6. Create a Separate Savings Account

Establishing a savings account specifically for your down payment and homeownership costs is another great way to set aside money for a home. If you decide to automatically transfer money to savings, creating a separate account may make it even easier.

We Can Make Your First Home Buying Experience Easier

first-time home buyers moving inWhen you’ve saved up enough money and are ready to buy a home, we have all the resources you need to make your homeownership dreams a reality. Have a question about owning a home? Call us.

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5 Things Only Home Sellers Understand

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Whether this will be your first time selling a home or your tenth, the home selling process can be a challenge. You want to sell quickly and for the most money, so you will be doing absolutely everything you can to spruce up your home and make it as inviting as possible. But not every experience during the home sale is a struggle. Here are the moments home sellers know too well.

a gathering with friends at home1. The Nostalgia You Feel While Packing

While you’re going through closets and pulling your personal photos off the walls, you may experience some nostalgia. You can vividly remember the day you bought the house. You remember all the guests that have visited. You even remember the stains that you’ve spent time scrubbing out of the carpet.

You have made memories in this home. But don’t forget about all of the new memories you will make in your new home. Whether you’re relocating, upsizing, or downsizing, you will have the opportunity to start fresh.

2. Having to Rush Out the Door for Showings

One of the hardest parts about selling your home is being prepared to leave at any time for showings: during dinner, early in the morning, on weekends… Sometimes, you have just 5 minutes to drop what you’re doing and dart out the door. But when you hear that the buyer has made an offer, you know that all of your scrambling was worth it.

a child with her head in her hands3. The Home Buyer Who Nitpicks Everything

It takes time to clean and declutter the home that you’ve lived in for a while. You remember the dust and dirt you found when you first moved furniture and packed up your closets. You even remember the hours it took to paint your rooms a neutral color. Your home looks brand new and ready for showings, so you can’t help but roll your eyes over the buyer who complains about that one thumbtack hole or the Windex streaks on the window.

4. The Awkwardness of Living in a Partially Empty Home

Everything echoes. It’s impeccably clean. Even the dust bunnies have moved on. With the pictures off the walls, the furniture put in storage, and the walls painted a neutral color, your home looks less like your own and more like a model.

people in front of a house5. Feeling Bittersweet About Leaving Your Home

After all the home sale preparation, last-minute showings, and negotiations, it’s time to say goodbye to your old home and hello to the new one. Yes, there may be things that you will miss about your old home. But there will be also things you can’t wait to have in your new home.

Your Home Sale Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

We can help make your home sale a pleasant (and profitable) experience. As real estate experts, we offer a variety of helpful home selling resources, from a free home evaluation to low-cost home improvement ideas. When you’re ready to sell your home, call us.

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These Small Home Improvements Can Pay Off Big When Selling

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First impressions matter when selling a home. But the first thing buyers see isn’t always your staged living room or upgraded kitchen. The price is the first impression buyers have of your home. The price also determines whether buyers skip over your home or go inside for a better look.

using a laptop at homeHome buyers are attuned to the market. When they are searching online for properties and browsing through listing photos, they can easily spot a home that is not worth the price tag attached to it.

The Simplest Ways to Add Value to Your Home

There are many ways to add value to your home, but don’t waste your time and money with major home improvements that won’t pay off. Instead, focus on these small, often overlooked tasks. Even the smallest fixes can significantly increase your home’s market value.

Replace Doorknobs and Other Hardware

Is the front doorknob worn or tarnished? Are your light fixtures outdated? Replacing the hardware in your home, even though it’s just a cosmetic fix, can make a world of difference when you sell your home.

a homeowner painting the wallsPaint the Walls a Neutral Color

A fresh coat of paint can leave your home looking like new. Choosing neutral colors, such as beige or grey, for your walls allows buyers to easily picture their belongings in your home. Lighter tones also create the illusion of more space.

Declutter Your Home

Buyers want to see a home that is organized and well-kept, both in person at showings and online in listing photos. Donate, discard, or store any furniture or household items that are not absolutely necessary in each room. Decluttering your home is the best way to add value, maximize space, and make a great first impression.

Price Your Home Right from the Start

When you’re ready to put your home on the market, create the best first impression with the right price. If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money possible, we can help you determine the market value of your home. Call us today for a free home evaluation.

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What You Haven’t Considered About Owning a Vacation Home

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tropical-vacationWouldn’t it be great to own a place at the beach, in the mountains, or by the lake? If you are seriously considering buying a vacation home, you have probably weighed many of the pros and cons already.

But you should carefully consider everything before you buy. Have you taken these additional costs and benefits into account?

The Overlooked Costs of Homeownership

As any experienced home buyer knows, there are additional annual costs that come with owning a home, such as property taxes, home insurance, and any association fees.

Make sure you consider maintenance costs, as well. If you decide to rent out your property, you might want to invest in housekeeping or property management services. MarketWatch outlines a few additional costs you may face.

Additional Fun: Resort-Style Amenities

golf course at sunriseIn popular vacation destinations, you can purchase a second home in a resort community. This gives you access to a range of amenities that can include a golf course, spa services, swimming pool, and dozens of events.

Just remember, you may have to pay additional fees for these amenities.

It’s a Good Investment, But Not a Guaranteed Money Maker

Many vacation homeowners rent their property out to other vacation-goers as a way to earn extra money.

But, as US News & World Report points out, you may not always make money with your vacation home.

Location is Crucial

picking a locationWhen buying any property, whether it’s a primary or second home, location is one of the most important factors in your decision. When choosing a vacation home, consider how much time it will take to get to your home, whether you will need to drive or fly, and if you will be able to visit as often as you want.

You should choose a home that is close to your favorite vacation features (such as a ski resort or private beach) and close to the grocery store, major roads or an airport, and fun things to do.

We Can Help You Weigh Your Options

Investing in a vacation home can be a great decision, but it should not be taken lightly. We can answer any questions you have about finding, buying, or renting out a vacation home. Call us and let’s talk.

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3 Surprising Ways Public Schools Affect Your House Hunt

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sharpened colored pencils in a circleIt’s back-to-school season. School supplies are front and center in the stores, back-to-school sales are everywhere, and school buses are becoming part of the morning commute.

Even if the public school district is not an important factor in your home search, the location of public schools can still have a significant impact on your home buying decision.

If you are looking for a home near a school, you may want to take these factors into consideration.

1. School Speed Zones

Pay attention to the speed limit around schools and times that the school zone speed is enforced. You may want to consider a home that has convenient alternate routes around the school zone.

the stop sign on the side of a bus2. School Bus Stops

Whether there is a bus route through your neighborhood or on a major thoroughfare, it can affect traffic around your home. Call the school district and ask if there is a bus that stops near your home to pick up students.

3. Morning and Afternoon Traffic

Traffic congestion near public schools may be an issue during the weekdays. Crowded carpool lanes and frequent bus stops can turn a short trip to the grocery store into a frustrating ordeal.

When you are searching for your home, visit the area during peak morning and afternoon hours. Again, you may want to consider a home that is farther from the school or has convenient alternate routes.

We Are Your Guide to the Area

Realtor showing a buyer a homeA school’s location can affect your decision to buy a home, especially if you are new to the area. But a real estate agent is your local expert, giving you everything you need to know about how the nearby schools will affect your morning commute or afternoon trip to the store.

We can help you find the best home in the best location. Call us and let’s talk about your home search.

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The Final Word on the Best Time to Sell a Home

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There are countless home selling articles online that seem to contradict each other.

In this Huffington Post article, the month of May is the best time to sell. But in this Washington Post article, any time between December and March is the optimal time. And in this NerdWallet article, the right time to sell is between May and August.

Is there a right answer? And if you are interested in selling your home soon, should you start preparing your home now or wait until the weather gets colder?

Why Home Sellers Choose to List in the Summer

Every season has its benefits for home sellers.

Spring has traditionally been the time that homeowners put their homes on the market, since the weather is ideal for showings and curb appeal. However, online home searching makes it even easier for today’s buyers to explore available listings (and high-quality photos) at any time.

Let’s say you wanted to sell your home right now. You may be able to sell quickly and for more money because:

  • Home buyers want to move before the new school year starts.
  • Home buyers have fewer properties to choose from than in the springtime.
  • Home buyers can schedule showings during the longer days.

What About the Other Seasons?

an agent showing a buyer a homeThere are equally good reasons that home sellers are able to reap the rewards during any other season.

In the spring, there is a chance that potential buyers will start a bidding war.

In the fall, the cooler autumn weather is ideal for home showings.

And in the winter, especially during the holidays, there are often more motivated buyers eager to settle down before the new year.

The Truth About Selling in the Summer

Is timing the secret to selling a home? Yes, but the optimal time depends on when you need to sell. You shouldn’t wait any longer than necessary.

The key to selling your home quickly and for more money is choosing the right real estate agent.

Have you considered selling your home this summer? We can give you more information about ways to increase your home’s value. Call us today and let’s talk about the next steps.

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5 Easy Summer Decorating Ideas to Brighten Your Home

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Summer is the perfect season for spending warm evenings outside, hosting get-togethers with friends, and enjoying the longer days. What better way to take advantage of the long days and abundant natural light than in your own home?

Here are 5 simple summer home décor tips that can instantly brighten and transform your living spaces.

a neutral kitchen with fruit on the center island1. Add Splashes of Bright Colors

Make a neutral room visually interesting by adding small, colorful details.

Try placing a bright flower arrangement on the coffee table, putting eye-catching throw pillows on the couch, or setting a bowl of oranges and bananas on the kitchen counter.

2. Swap Out Dark Furniture for White

Brown or black couches, tables, and other furnishings can make a room seem darker — and smaller. Open up your living spaces by adding white furniture. If you have curtains on your windows, consider replacing them with lighter sheer coverings to let in more natural light.

a dining room table with blue placemats3. Create a Stunning Table Settings

If you’re hosting a get-together at your home this summer, impress your guests with bright, summery place settings.

Consider placing brightly colored plates or napkins on the table, then adding a matching vase filled with fresh flowers or votives filled with unscented candles.

4. Bring Summer Blossoms Indoors

There’s no better way to welcome summer into your home than by bringing in freshly picked flowers. Place vibrant bouquets throughout your home, including end tables in the bedrooms or in the middle of a shelf, for a fresh look and pleasant smell.

a new welcome mat and open front door5. Set Out a New Welcome Mat

Setting a new doormat, or one that has a bright, summery theme, outside your front door is the perfect way to welcome guests into your home.

Helpful tip for home sellers: A new, clean welcome mat also creates a great first impression for potential home buyers.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? We Have You Covered

The goal of preparing your home for sale is to focus on the décor that will brighten your home and make the best use of space. These summer home decorating ideas are a great place to start.

If you are planning to sell your home this summer, we have even more tips that can help you get your home ready, as well as home selling resources that can allow you to sell for more money and as quickly as possible. Call us and let’s take the next steps.

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Don’t Touch the A/C! 7 Tips to Stay Cool and Save Money

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sunglasses laying in a grass fieldIt’s easy to just crank up the air conditioning during the hottest months of summer. Sure, the energy bill may be higher, but it’s worth the extra expense to keep your home cool — right? Or are there any sure-fire ways to save money and stay cool indoors?

Before you reach for the thermostat, try these DIY energy-saving tips to keep your home comfortable and keep you from breaking the bank.

1. Raise the A/C Temperature — Yes, Really

It’s better to keep the air conditioning down, but if you want to keep it on, raise the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. When you’re at home (or have buyers viewing your home), set the thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celsius). When you’re away, set the thermostat to 85 Fahrenheit (29 Celsius).

The trick is to find the temperature that’s comfortable, not too cold or too hot. This is crucial if you’re selling your during the summer. No buyer wants to step inside and still be sweating during a showing!

2. Wash Dishes and Do Laundry at Night

You’ll want to avoid using as many heat-generating appliances or lights as you can during the summer. Use your dishwasher, dryer, or oven only during the coolest parts of the day, either in the early morning or evening. You can even air-dry your dishes and use the stove or microwave instead of the oven.

3. Unplug Electronics When You’re Not Using Them

Did you know your appliances still use power when plugged in, even if they’re turned off? One way to reduce your energy bill during the summer is by unplugging anything that you’re not using.

4. Close the Blinds During the Day

living room with couch and sheer curtainsA little bit of sun can make a huge difference in your home’s indoor temperature. Cut down on the sunlight streaming in through your windows (east- and west-facing windows in particular) by closing the blinds and curtains and replacing heavier curtains with sheer ones.

During summer home showings, however, you still want to let in a little natural light to brighten up your home. Make it count.

5. Turn the Fans On

If your home has ceiling fans, use them. According to the US Department of Energy, using a ceiling fan will let you raise the thermostat by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without changing how comfortable your home feels indoors.

6. Replace Your Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs give off a lot of heat compared with compact fluorescent lights and LED bulbs. A small but effective way to keep your home comfortable (and save some money in the process) is to replace any incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.

7. Find the Gaps and Close Them

How well is your home insulated? Is any heat getting in from a leaky door or window? Seal any cracks with caulk or weatherstripping to keep the cool air inside.

“Summerize” Your Home for Showings

staged and decluttered living roomWhen you’re selling your home during the summer, remember that home showings are all about brightening your home and making it look and feel comfortable. You don’t have to crank up the A/C for home buyers during a showing. You can use these energy-saving tips to make it cooler indoors without having to pay those higher energy bills.

We have plenty of other tips to help you sell your home. Call us and let’s talk.

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7 Things You Must Do When Relocating

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a person moving a stack of boxesAnytime you relocate to a new area, whether it’s a city just a few miles away or across the country, you face a unique set of challenges.

The housing market, the transit, and even the weather may not be what you’re used to. Planning your move can be difficult, too, since you need to coordinate when, where, and how you’ll be moving your belongings to a new area.

Because moving to a completely new area means learning about a new housing market and a new community, we wanted to share a few helpful relocation tips to make it a much easier experience for you.

1. Research Housing Costs

Home prices for similar properties can vary drastically from one city to another. Take some time to research the real estate market, and consider these questions when searching for your new home:

  • How much are local property taxes?
  • How large a home can you afford?
  • Is it cheaper to rent or buy a home?

2. Check the Weather

If you’re moving far away from your current home to relocate to a new area, you may want to consider the new weather conditions and adjust your wardrobe.

For instance, someone who relocates from Florida to Alaska will need more winter coats, snow boots, and blackout curtains for the longer summer days. That’s an extreme example, but it can give you an idea of what to consider when relocating to a new area and a new climate.

3. Research Healthcare Professionals

You will need to choose a new dentist, doctor, and optometrist when relocating. Check local recommendations for healthcare professionals around the area before moving. That way you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you get there.

4. Test Your Commute

Give yourself enough time to test your drive to work, to the grocery store, or to other points of interest after you move. Traffic varies at different times of the day and week, so you may need to spend some time driving along different roads to get an idea of what to expect.

5. Plan for Your Move

two people packing cardboard boxesStart packing now so you’ll be less stressed later. Make a detailed plan for how you are shipping your belongings, what day you will be moving, and how you will get to your new home. Consider these packing tricks:

  • label moving boxes by room
  • keep a list of items that are in each box
  • keep your most valuable possessions with you

6. Adjust Your Home Search Checklist

Moving to a new area means you may have to adjust your home search based on the housing market, weather conditions, and commute. If you need help, just ask. We’re here to help you in any way we can.

7. Take One Step at a Time

Relocating to a new area can seem overwhelming. We recommend setting small goals. Search for homes for just 20 minutes. Pack just one box for the move. Make a list of pros and cons for just one community. You’ll be ready to relocate in no time.

We’re Here to Make Your Relocation Easier

It’s much easier to move and adjust to a new area when you have a local guide to help you along the way. That’s why we’re here. We can give you all the information you need to know about relocating to our area, maybe even details you wouldn’t have thought about. Our ultimate goal is helping you find the property that is best for you.

But we also want you to love living here just as much as we do. There is so much to explore, and we want to make it easier for you to get here and start spending your time enjoying our area.

Call or email us for more relocation tips — we’re more than happy to help.

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