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Staging Tips That Will Help You Sell This Spring

Whether on television, at an open house or on the pages of a magazine, we've all seen stunningly outfitted estates that deliver a true wow factor – and listing price – that properties without staging just cannot match. Buyers quickly fall in love with homes that have a strong character while wordlessly conveying the lifestyle they would enjoy if they lived there. Before listing your property, consider that proper staging is one of the most important factors in enhancing your home's appeal and most flattering features.

First Things First

 In order to entice potential buyers, you must think outside the box – but to start, examine what needs to be done to get your home in showplace shape. Check under older carpets for lovely hardwood, survey the ceiling for cracks or leaks to seal, consider having the pool or tennis court resurfaced and focus on boosting your curb appeal. Once your home is a clean slate, you are ready to begin.

 Neutral Rules

When using achromatic tones on painted walls and furniture, ensure that the staging pieces do not distract from the form of the home. When staging for luxury, color psychology can signal buyers that they're working with a discerning seller who has elevated the home to its full, indulgent potential.  

In the world of interior design, fashion and luxury vehicles, neutral colors have always made a recognizable statement of power, sophistication and confidence. Once you're prepared to stage your home, you'll want to highlight those qualities with the crème de la crème of design – blacks, grays and whites. 

While buyers will always notice houses with splashy displays, that doesn't necessarily mean they will find them appropriate for their tastes. Staging experts often use furniture, rugs and paint in neutral hues (also consider beige and pale, cool colors) to help buyers overlay their own creations onto the scene and more easily discover the home could be the perfect fit.

Character Is King

Often, a seamless introduction to the home involves pairing décor with architectural personality. Envision how Old-World pillars and stonework are beautifully complemented by gold-framed art and Turkish rugs, and contemporary interiors effortlessly show off leather, wool or velvet furnishings and unique accents as statement pieces. When hiring an interior designer to get the job done, seek out a professional with not only expertise, but also an imaginative mindset.

Now to address spatial issues. For smaller sitting rooms, offices or charming nooks, instead of cluttering the area to make it appear as if much can be done with the layout, take a more minimalist approach to ensue that each individual piece has room to breathe and directs attention to the space itself.

On the other hand, if you have a cavernous room, think about creative ways to section it off and separate it into more manageable areas with rugs or furniture in unique arrangements. The same approach can be applied to unusually shaped rooms.

Attractive Accents

While a visually busy room is an easily avoided faux pas, keep in mind that going completely neutral is not the answer either. In order to strike that oh-so-delicate balance between sensible furnishings and handsome décor, decorate with stylish accents that lend a perfect finish to any lifestyle.

Any artwork on display should be minimal and tasteful, so buyers can easily picture how they will customize the space on their own, and personal items like family pictures, sports memorabilia and other personal items should be stored.

When a buyer enters your front door and explores the home room by room, they'll be thinking about how they will personalize it with their own touches, and how much of a transformation might be needed to get it suited for them. With beautiful furnishings in place and just the right level of flair, they won't have to work very hard to visualize their new life – and that gets them one step closer to making your house their new home.  



6 Steps to Finalize Your Mortgage

Three of our favorite magic words are "clear to close."

One of the last steps in your home purchase before closing day is to finalize your loan. But before we do that, let's back up and review what you can expect from your lender. 

The mortgage process is different for every buyer, but can usually be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Pre-Approval: Your lender will run your credit score and pull your credit history to determine a loan amount for which you qualify. This allows you to set an accurate budget while home shopping. 
  2. Home Shopping: While house hunting, partner with an agent you trust. National real estate websites aren't always up to date, and don't show 100% of the available inventory on the market. 
  3. Mortgage Application: Once you submit an offer and it's accepted, you'll complete a loan application, submit the required documentation and enter the underwriting process. 
  4. Loan Processing: Loan processors gather information about the borrower and property, review the application and assemble a package for the underwriter. They'll open the file and get the following wheels in motion.
  5. Underwriting: The underwriter is the key decision maker in the loan application process. They will review the borrower's credit history and ability to repay the loan, and then decide to approve or reject the loan. 
  6. Clear To Close: Once you get the all-clear, you'll schedule your closing and final walk-through. On closing day, you'll sign a lot of documents to complete your purchase, and the title company will complete the recording and funding of the loan. 

Once you've been pre-approved, and have an accepted offer, the process generally takes anywhere from 30-45 days and involves a thorough evaluation of your credit history, income, assets and documentation.

Once everything is in order and your application has been processed, the mortgage underwriter will approve the loan and your lender will issue a "clear to close." Now, it's time to schedule your closing date. 

In just a few more days, you're going to be a homeowner! 


Rookie Mistakes That Can Bench Your Home Sale

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

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

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

  1. Rushing Your Agent Pick
    Selecting an agent is one of the most important things you'll do in the course of a sale. Your choice will likely affect every stage of the home sale. How your home is staged, listed, and marketed all come back to your agent — so take time to find an agent you can work well with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Home-Buying Guide for Newlyweds

Instead of being a property renter, you can build equity as an owner. You can decorate, remodel or upgrade your home however you please. If your life plan includes children, they'll have a green space to play and entertain friends close to home.

Before you begin your home-buying quest, you should understand the process of buying a house and the personal commitment necessary to make it happen. That's why we created this Home Buying Guide for Newlyweds. Use it as a framework for discussing basic home-buying concerns. 

  1. Decide if you really want to buy a home
    Never buy a home because your mom says so or because it seems like the grownup thing to do. A home is a major investment. Long after you've paid your closing costs, it will add a lifetime of expenses to your budget. If you 're ambivalent about your home-buying decision, wait until you're ready.

  2. What kind of home do you want
    When you're buying a house, it's a good idea for you and your spouse to agree on what kind of house it should be. Discuss architectural style, age, landscaping, bedrooms, and amenities. Detail the must-have features that are critical to your comfort and well-being.

  3. Decide where you want to live
    The National Association of REALTORS® 2017 home trend study reported that buyers under age 36 planned to keep their homes an average of 10 years. If you follow this national trend, you'll want to make certain your home will fit your lifestyle today and in the future. To avoid a love-hate relationship with your new home, investigate the community before you decide to buy.

    - Crime and safety trends
    - School district standards
    - Recreation area safety
    - Questionable neighbors

  4. Know how much can you afford
    Sit down with your spouse to discuss your income and what you can afford. Review any life circumstances that might affect your future ability to pay.

  5. Discuss your credit
    You should know your spouse's financial profile before you tie the knot. If you bypassed that discussion, it's important to get the financial details before you consider buying a house.

    - Credit score
    - Outstanding debt
    - Assets
    - Income
    - Savings

    If there are hidden financial skeletons in either spouse's closet, they could haunt you when the mortgage company assesses your ability to repay your loan. When you know and understand your credit profile, you can take steps to repair your credit ahead of time.

  6. Get a mortgage pre-approved letter
    After you've addressed your financial details, it's a good idea to seek mortgage pre-approval before you begin your home search. Your mortgage company will assess your credit, determine your ability to meet their financial standards, and issue a letter confirming your pre-approved status.

    Sellers and their real estate agents know you're serious about buying a home when you show them proof that you've consulted a mortgage company. They'll be more willing to consider your offer and negotiate a deal.

  7. Consider loan programs
    If you're ready to buy a home but your finances aren't perfect, these government-backed loan programs may be able to help you with financing.

    - Federal Housing Authority
    - Fannie Mae
    - Freddie Mac
    - Veteran's Administration

    You may qualify for a low-interest rate or a reduced down payment. These programs are flexible in assessing your credit, income and work history.

Work With a Real Estate Professional

Contact your real estate professional when you decide that buying a house is the right decision for you. An experienced agent has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the home-buying process.


The Case for Repurposing Your Space

It's almost criminal — leaving rooms in your home underutilized. While navigating the obstacle course of life, there are a host of reasonable factors that lead to this common home-functionality transgression. Now is the ideal moment to repurpose what you have and reinvent such spaces.

A desirable feature of yesteryear, the formal dining room is now often deemed obsolete by many homeowners, who allow it to morph into an underused or wasted space. A contributing factor is the evolution of the kitchen into a multi-functional communal area. Fortunately, the size and central location of this former principal gathering room typically allow for plenty of practical new purposes.

Similarly, extra bedrooms are always useful – until they aren't. These rooms typically boast prime real estate within a dwelling, yet unless you frequently host overnight guests, they easily befall the sin of neglect. If it's become rare for you to have stayover visitors, the space is well worth repurposing to revive and add value to your floor plan. It's your oyster for all sorts of possibilities!

Any of the following suggestions could inspire these rooms' next roles. Here is a curated collection of the most actionable and relevant ways to inspire an uplifting transformation in your dwelling's neglected spaces.

Serious Business

Particularly with recent shifts to a work-from-home situation, savvy homeowners have taken to the idea of repurposing their dining room into a home office. Adding a desk, shelves and a few chairs – perhaps from the dining table set – will easily convert an outdated area into a place dedicated to work or remote learning. Get creative with this project and give the room a true makeover with a bold new paint color, wallpaper and artwork throughout the reimagined space.

Child's Play

If you have young children, consider creating a designated play area. You can maintain organization in the room by adding a colorful chest of drawers, whimsical hutch or handy bins for toys and game storage. Be sure to incorporate plenty of comfortable seating, and perhaps even a television to enhance the capabilities and fun factor.

Hobbyist Lair

Bibliophiles and audiophiles, rejoice! A dining room or spare bedroom could be reinvented into a library or combo listening studio. Any treasured books or magazines hidden away in boxes or spread among various coffee tables throughout the house can be placed on stylish display on dramatic floor-to-ceiling shelving. An essential here is at least one ultra-cozy chair. Vinyl lovers can add a turntable and settle in for undisturbed contemplation. Further elevate this converted space by introducing an elegant bar cart or armoire bar cabinet.

Mindful Movement

Fitness-focused households might find another use for an underutilized space – and pounce on the opportunity to build out a home gym. Relocate or sell any unneeded furniture, and as a first step for those with wood flooring, try laying foam mat overtop. Double down on the quality of this transition by installing a full-length mirror. Then comes the fun part: Decide which machines, weights or other equipment would optimize the revitalized room.

Every square inch of your residence matters, so if you discover any areas that have become abandoned, focus on the primary needs and functions that best serve you and your family – and reference these tips to get the most out of your space.


The Ten Commandments of Buying a Home

To make the buying a home a little less stressful, learn the Ten Commandments of Buying a House.

  1. Maintain Steady Employment. Lenders like to see job stability. It's important for at least one of the applicants to hold a steady job. And the longer you stay at the same job, the better it looks when applying for a home loan.

  2. Limit Bank Account Activity. When you apply for a home loan, you'll need to produce bank statements. Lenders look for consistency each month, like steady deposits, regular bill payments, and no erratic spending.

  3. Continually Monitor Your Credit Score. This is so much easier than it used to be. Gone are the days of waiting for your free, yearly credit report to arrive in the mail. Websites are available to help you monitor your credit score--even offering great tips on how to improve it. 

  4. Postpone Large Purchases. Unless you have money to burn, now is not the best time to purchase a car, motorcycle, new furniture or anything else that might make a lender nervous. The bank questioning a large purchase could slow down the loan application process.

  5. Save for a Down Payment. The sooner you start this, the better. A 20 percent down payment is what's recommended. Even if you qualify for no down payment, it's in your best interest to put some money down.

  6. Only Consider Homes Within Your Budget. We're all guilty of wanting more. But taking a peek at what's just a touch over your budget can be dangerous. Don't torture yourself. Embrace what you can afford.

  7. Research Various Neighborhoods. It's a good idea to visit different areas, even ones that may not be on your radar. Check what traffic patterns are like, where the schools are, quality of grocery stores, things that will make your everyday life more comfortable.

  8. Get Pre-Approved. Once your finances are strong and stable, it's a good idea to get a loan pre-approved. As a buyer, this gives you more leverage when the seller knows things aren't going to fall apart on your end after you make a bid.

  9. Resale History. While investigating the neighborhoods, review not only the resale info on the home but other comparable homes in the area. Have they gone up in value? How long do they sit on the market? Is there a cluster of homes up for sale in the same neighborhood? Your REALTOR® can help you with these questions, and the answers may give you better insight into what's happening in that area.

  10. Find a Real Estate Agent you Like and Trust. When you find a REALTOR®, you will share a lot of personal information with this person-- not to mention spend many hours with them.  It's important to have good chemistry. And remember, thou shalt not carry the entire burden yourself. A great agent is always ready to help their clients through every step of the process. 



Why You Should Use a Realtor to Sell Your Home

For many people, owning a home is one of the largest financial transactions they'll make, which is why 87% of sellers rely on an agent to be their guide1. It's estimated that real estate agents play more than 150 roles during an average home transaction, so it's best to leave it to the pros.

Real estate agents know how to sell your home quickly and for the best price. Successful sales balance four components: the market, price, condition of the house and exposure. Because agents know about market trends and the other houses in your neighborhood, they're well equipped to play up your home's advantages and downplay disadvantages.

In addition, a skilled agent will:

  • Help determine an asking price that will make your home competitive
  • Offer recommendations on how to prepare your home to attract attention, from staging and curb appeal to small home repairs that can make a big difference
  • Market your home to people who are most likely to buy your home
  • List your property on the Multiple Listing Service, so buyers can easily find it online
  • Represent your needs and negotiate the best deal possible
  • Help you navigate the many services you may need during the process, such as appraisals, inspections, home repairs, title, mortgage, home warranty and insurance
  • Be readily available to take your calls and answer any questions

There is also a financial advantage to using an agent:

  • Homes that are offered for sale by the owner (FSBO) typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes. FSBO homes sold at a median of $225,000 in 2021, which is significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $345,0002.
  • The average Coldwell Banker® listed property sells for 20.7% higher than the National Association of REALTORS® average price3.

If you are selling your property and plan to purchase another home, your real estate agent will be a valuable partner to help ensure everything goes smoothly. In fact, 53% of sellers nationwide use the same agent to purchase their next home3.

Contact your Coldwell Banker affiliated agent today to discuss listing your property for the spring selling season.



Selling Your Home During The Winter Has Its Advantages. 

Let's debunk the myth that you should wait until spring to sell your home.  Historically, spring is the busiest real estate selling season; however, people do buy homes 365 days a year.  Dave Ramsey, America's trusted voice on money and a national best-selling author and radio host, reports homes listed in the winter have a nine percent greater likelihood of selling, sell a week faster and sell for more money.

Here's how selling your home during the winter months can work to your advantage. 

  1. Less competition
    The widely held belief that spring is the best time to sell a home leads to a greater influx of available homes hitting the market. Consequently, prospective buyers have a larger inventory of homes from which to choose. Listing your home before spring improves your odds of selling it at a higher price without a lot of competition.

  2. Better exposure of your home
    With fewer listings on the market, your home will get more attention from real estate agents and may appear in more buyers' internet searches. 

  3. Corporate relocations
    Companies often relocate workers during the first quarter of the year. Selling your home to someone relocating for work can help you obtain a higher sales price. These buyers are motivated to reach an agreement and are eager to move.

  4. Fewer yard maintenance worries
    Selling your home during the spring or summer requires you to be vigilant about yard care so that your house looks its best for every potential buyer. Listing your home during the winter requires investing less time and money in lawn and landscaping expenses.

  5. List in February, sell quickly
    A national study that analyzed listings, sales prices and time on the market found that winter is the best time for sellers to list their home. The study found that 66 percent of the homes listed in February sold within 90 days. A higher percentage of homes sold for above list price during winter months compared to those listed in June or later.

Winter home buyers tend to be serious shoppers. They are motivated and may not be interested in doing a lot of browsing. Regardless of what time of year you list your home, if it is priced right and shows well, it will sell.


Questions To Ask An Agent Before Listing Your Home

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

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

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

  • What are your credentials?
    A real estate agent should have a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association. You may also find someone who is a licensed REALTOR® (a member of the National Association of REALTORS®), which requires additional training and a strict code of ethics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your goal should be to an agent with whom you are confident and comfortable with and who can sell your home quickly and at the right price. Ready to put your home on the market? Reach out to a Coldwell Banker Gosslee Agent today!

Bossier City Office (318) 747-5411  |  Shreveport Office (318) 861-2461


The Top Reasons Why People Move

Life is constantly changing — relationships, jobs, children, and family. All of these things cause shifts in our lifestyles and, more specifically, where we live. People relocate to a new home for a number of reasons: career, relationships, family, finances or just for change itself.

Here are nine reasons why people move:

  1. Larger Home
    Upsizing is one reason people move. A couple that decides to start having children soon realizes that their initial home no longer meets their growing family's needs. As children grow, there is a need for extra bedrooms and living space. The more children added, the greater the need for a larger home with more bedrooms, bathrooms, and a larger yard.

  2. Downsizing
    When children grow and leave the home, some parents opt to downsize and relocate to a smaller, more manageable house.

  3. Homeownership
    Homeownership is still very much a part of the American dream for many people--and falls into our "top 10 reasons for relocating" category. While homeownership comes with a number of responsibilities, it also comes with opportunities too, like creating your dream home, enjoying your personal lifestyle, and having peace of mind.

  4. Change in Relationships
    Personal relationships often cause people to move. Whether you're starting a new life as a couple or starting over after a divorce, these life events cause people to move. Another reason could be a death in the family, causing you to move from a home holding too many memories.

  5. Change in Employment
    Job promotions and company relations may cause people to move from their current homes. If a new job requires extensive commute times, many people find it easier to move closer to their new place of employment.

  6. Change
    Some people change... for the sake of change. Moving to a new town or state gives people the chance to add excitement to their lives. They have the opportunity to make new friends, experience new things, and explore new career paths.

  7. Financial Reasons
    The cost of living varies from one place to another. When a family faces a financial crisis, the logical thing to do is move to a convenient but less expensive location. At times, the move to a more affordable house or location is just a measure to cut down on spending and save more.

  8. Better Home
    As income increases, so does the tendency to want better things. A better home falls into this category. After years of hard work and wise spending, upgrading to a better, newer home is often the ultimate reward for many people.

  9. Schools
    Good school districts should be a top priority for people with and without children. Homes located in a good school district provide families with children the best chance at a top education. And for people without children, buying a house in a good school district helps optimize the home's future resale value.

No matter the reason you move, the right real estate agent can make the process that much easier. Talk to your local agent today about the steps you need to make for a stress-free move.


Home Design Trends for 2023

In recent months, the world has re-energized, and hope has bloomed in ways that many had not experienced since before this decade began. In contrast, shifting economic and global conditions have awakened and heightened certain sensitivities. This age of extremes has given way to a curious range of design ideas. From eclectic and new to natural and nostalgic, here are some of the most notable home design features and themes we expect to see in the year ahead:

Bring the vacation to you. After nearly two years of limited travel, a sense of wanderlust has arisen for many. Yet, rather than actually traveling to fulfill this urge, savvy decorators have opted instead to create an escape within the residence. With a continued desire to revel in the comforts of home, many have embraced the idea that venturing out truly isn't necessary to achieve that breezy, revitalizing experience. Using warm wood tones, bright light and airy linen curtains and furnishings, abodes will have rooms – both indoors and out – transformed in the style of beachy resort destinations and dreamy European villas.

Connect to nature and the present. People are recognizing the need to be more present and peaceful in the moment and are erring toward pragmatic sensibilities in lifestyle and functionality. Fostering security and balance continue to be key, but with an emphasis on the senses – which translates into the use of natural textiles and rare materials in home décor such as crude clay, terra-cotta, handcrafted finishings and glazed tiles made from organic materials. Color schemes are inspired by nature and the desert theme has gained in appeal, incorporating gentle colors such as beiges and greys. The trend additionally translates to comforting, tactile interior designs that blend organic shapes, arches and irregular forms to create a cozy, warm aesthetic. Such biophilic design will continue as a trend. In fact, you may even consider adding a full-sized tree to the kitchen – olive trees are favored – to add an impressive fixture and create a Mediterranean or rustic vibe.

Embrace opulence and idiosyncrasy. In a distinctly disparate tone, an "anti-neutral renaissance" has simultaneously gained traction, influencing home interiors. For those on this opposite end of the spectrum, minimalist fatigue has set in, driving the desire for extravagance and affecting a mood for glamour. A major theme for the new year is celebrating individuality, so unique touches, unconventional decorative fabrics and elements will reign. Think luxe jewel tones, whimsical details and embellishments galore. Expect striking visual effects in homes such as curvy and geometric shapes, fanciful rugs, monochromatic rooms in vivid shades like baby pink – as well as two-toned cabinets in contrasting colors. Emerald green, cobalt and rust are expected to be top interior colors in the coming year. Hellenism and antiquity will also see a surge in popularity, so Corinthian-style furnishings, statues and wallpaper motifs will be highly sought after.

Statement stone. Combining aspects of the two aforementioned trends, another desirable style in 2023 will be the use of unexpected stones in surprising ways. Anticipate colorful marble in creative reds, corals, deep blues and jewel tones. Exotic types of porcelain, soapstone and granite will be used throughout the home in a variety of ways: Subtly – as serving platters, side tables or nightstands – and dramatically – as accent walls, tables, bathtubs or countertops that transition into bold backsplashes – to incorporate as standalone art or a stunning focal point.

Whether you feel like a daredevil or crave simplicity, the coming year boasts a menu of delights to fulfill the moods and needs of many appetites. We hope you're inspired to customize and love your residence more than ever in 2023.


Nine Things That Top a Millennial Wish List

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

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

The Difference Between An Appraisal And Comparative Market Analysis

Before you engage in any real estate transaction, you need to know as much as you can about the home's value. There are two related but distinct processes that help people pin down the valuation of a property before they move forward: comparative market analysis and home appraisal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CMA Versus Home Appraisal: Final Considerations

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

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

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

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


Savvy Ways to Increase Your Home's Value

Whether you plan to be in your home for just a few more months or many more years, there are plenty of efficient ways to maximize your space and increase its value. This type of investment needn't require a loan, nor does it have to span any great length of time. From green living to greenery in your yard, here are a few impactful and straightforward means of boosting your home's value and appeal over the short or long term.

A Smart Move

Green is the new black. Any form of energy efficiencies and conservation in your home will inevitably be a fiscal gain. Whether you install energy-saving window treatments or solar panels, both options can reduce utility expenses for you and any future inhabitants. When it comes time to replace appliances, a prudent decision would be to select a "smart" model of said item, which can significantly lower long-term energy costs.

While on the topic of efficiency, a wise investment would be installing "smart" devices throughout your property. Think digital features such as automated blinds or shades, security cameras, door locks, security lighting and thermostats. When you're ready to sell, the smart tech will appeal to buyers with a penchant for the added value of convenience and connectivity.

Wide Open Spaces

Create visual space in rooms by keeping them clutter-free and organized, which can be solved by simply installing a stylish shelving unit to keep extraneous items out of sight. Seek the help of a professional organizer who will be bursting with innovative ideas to optimize the storage areas in your dwelling.

Another way to increase square footage without a renovation is to let the sunshine in! Avoid heavy drapes and instead, use modern window treatments that add height such as roller, Roman or cellular shades. Similarly, you can position a decorative floor-to-ceiling mirror in any room to visually double your space.

From the Bottom Up

Explore the possibility of replacing the flooring in a few key spaces. A unique, beautiful and buzzworthy material is cork, which is also known to have antibacterial properties. If you opt for new surfaces under your feet, consider installing radiant heating simultaneously. These systems not only add optimum comfort, but are also aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient.

Make an impact through your lighting choices. Utilize contemporary or dramatic fixtures to complement each room. Whether you choose minimal or eye-catching designs – the right piece in the optimal locale can add intrigue and substance to your residence.

Kick It Up a Notch

Significant updates to your kitchen and bathroom are sure to boost value. Modern appliances and updated décor increase appeal to buyers, so consider a new backsplash or that roomy farmhouse-style sink you've been eyeing. Think one step further and install a water filtration system to add practicality and luxury to your dwelling. Additional elements like stylish sconces, a new vanity or a vintage mirror can elevate functionality and increase allure.

It's Only Natural

Consider your front and backyard. If there is an area that would benefit from some striking landscaping or creative plantings, explore your options or consult with a professional landscape architect or designer. Executed well, a garden or other natural elements in your yard can become lovely extensions of your home's indoor atmosphere.

When you look around, there are many ways to enhance the comfort and appeal of your property that will serve you well as a resident – and add value one day when you're ready to sell.

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