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June
22

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!

June
21

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.

June
8

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.

June
6

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.

June
1

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.

May
23

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.

May
9

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.

April
27

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.

April
19

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.

April
12

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.

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