How to Stage Your Home Like a Pro When Selling

When you stage a home, you’re trying to show it in its best light. It should be styled in a way that highlights its best assets while downplaying its faults. Professionals real estate agents understand this, and that’s why they go to great lengths to ensure that any home on the market is immaculately clean and equipped with fresh, attractive furnishings. But if you’re selling your own home, you’ll face a unique set of challenges. 

Unlike real estate companies that have robust communication streams and many hands on-deck, you’re likely trying to keep in touch with potential buyers while juggling your own job and personal responsibilities. Luckily, staging your home doesn’t take much more than a bit of foresight and some elbow grease. Read on for our best tips on staging your home like the pros when it comes time to sell.

Do a deep clean 

Doing a thorough cleaning of all the living spaces is one of the most important steps when it comes to staging your home. Nobody wants to live in somebody else’s mess, and every imperfection that a potential buyer notices deducts from their estimated value of the home. 

So you’ll want to clean every corner of your home. Make sure the floors are vacuumed, the windows are polished, and any dust or dirt is gotten rid of. 

When cleaning, pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen appliances and countertops should be sparkling clean, free of any grease or food matter. In the bathroom, the toilet and shower should be so clean that they basically look unused. The room should be spotless, all the way down to the grout. 

Take care of clutter

Too much clutter can make a space look small and crowded. And it doesn’t just encroach on the space, it also forces your own style and personality upon potential buyers, whose sensibilities may be entirely different from your own. 

Therefore, you should store away all the unnecessary items and trinkets you would usually have around the house and just keep the essentials. Don’t stuff all your clutter into an empty closet either—visitors are going to want to look over every part of the house, and when they open up a closet to see shelves full of random items it’ll have a negative impact on how they perceive the closet space. If you don’t already have a new place where you can store your excess stuff, then consider renting a temporary storage unit. 

Clear out personal items 

While the family pictures on the mantle might make you feel at home, they won’t have the same effect on the strangers who are visiting your house. In staging your house, you should make an effort to depersonalize it. 

Remove family pictures, personal items, and anything else that makes the house uniquely yours. By doing this, you’ll provide visitors with something of a blank slate, and potential buyers will be able to envision the space as their own home rather than feeling like they’re taking a tour of someone else’s. 

Keep pets away 

Even though dogs and cats are beloved by so many, it’s unlikely that potential buyers will find them appealing. Instead, they’ll probably be more focused on the stains and smells left behind by a pet. This is why you should remove any signs of your pet from the house. Clean up fur, treat lingering stains, and put things like food bowls, toys, and pet food in storage. 

Make visitors feel at home

While you do want to clean up the house and remove your personal effects, you shouldn’t make the space completely sterile. Potential buyers want to feel like they’re in an idealized version of what the house could be, so cater to that idea by creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for visitors. 

There are many ways to go about achieving this. You could offer freshly baked cookies at the door or put out a healthy smoothie for guests to enjoy. You might also pick up some fresh flowers and put them in a vase or set the dinner table to make the space feel even more homely. 

Turn up the lighting 

One of the first things visitors will notice when walking into your home is the lighting, so make sure your house is well-lit. Clean windows and open curtains around the house to let natural light inside. This is an important step, as the amount of natural light a home gets is a major consideration for many potential buyers. 

Also, switch on the lights in the home and bring in supplemental lighting anywhere that needs it. Purchase bright new light bulbs to replace any of the existing ones that are weak or burnt-out. 

Apply a fresh coat of paint  

Clean up the walls of your house for visitors by removing any previous wallpaper and applying a fresh coat of paint. It’s a simple task that can completely transform the room and make it look new again. 

When choosing the paint color, opt for neutral shades rather than bolder ones. After all, you want to cast a wide net and bright, bold colors on the walls might not appeal to everyone. So stick with warm neutral shades that add to the welcoming atmosphere you’re attempting to build. 

Optimize the exterior

Curb appeal is extremely important when you’re trying to sell your home. Potential buyers most likely won’t even walk in the house if they’re put off by its exterior. This means you have to ensure that the facade of your home and the yard, if you have one, are in great shape. 

Trim the hedges, cut the grass, and remove any unsightly weeds from the yard. If the paint on the outside of your home is peeling, consider giving it a touch up or, if that’s too much work, power wash it to remove dirt and grime. Also give the outside of the windows a good washing to make them sparkle. 

In addition to making all the existing parts of the exterior look nice, you might even introduce new items that improve the look of your home, such as freshly planted flowers or patio furniture. 

By properly staging your home, you can make it sell faster at a higher price. Every bit of time and work you put into the staging will likely pay dividends in the end. So be sure to go the extra mile in trying to turn your old house into a stranger’s dream home. 

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Neighborhood Red Flags to Be Aware of When Buying a Home

When a home buying budget is tight, there’s always the temptation to buy a fantastic, big house in a less costly area. However, buying a home in an undesirable neighborhood might be a huge mistake, especially when it’s time to resell in the future. Occasionally, there are some qualities you can’t discover about a neighborhood until after you’ve moved in. But there are ways to scout out red flags ahead of time.

When you see homes that are rundown throughout the community, it could be a sign that the residents have given up and the neighborhood is in rapid decline. A street that is full of homes with broken/cracked windows, overgrown, unkempt yards, home vacancies, gutters filled with leaves and vines, sagging rooflines, pooling water in yards, homes with obvious chipping paint & broken fences should sound off an alarm. It’s a clue that the neighbors don’t take pride in their homes and with no upkeep, they can end up decreasing the property values for the entire street.

Are there too many houses that are for sale in the neighborhood? When driving through notice if there is an abundance of “for sale” or “for rent” signs. It everyone is trying to sell, it’s probably not a coincidence. There are plenty of reasons this could be going on, but it’s important to have your Realtor dig in and find out the details. Also, check with the local police department and find out about the crime – a real reason people would be making a mass exodus from the neighborhood.

How is the local school system? Are there fewer students enrolling? A sure sign of a healthy community is a blossoming school. Another reason to have a good, knowledgable Realtor with you – he/she should know all these details or at least where you can find the information about the schools.

Most streets have some cracks and bumps but are you noticing big potholes in the neighborhood? This could mean that this is an area of neglect in the city. Is the local park a mess? If you can see that there is no organization to take care of the streets, the parks and any public spaces in the neighborhood it is a sure sign that the property values are headed down.

Drive through the neighborhood on a beautiful day. Do you see people out and about? Kids playing ball in yards? Bike riding? Anyone sitting on front porches? A big red flag if you don’t see people. This could signal that residents stay inside and don’t allow their children to play outdoors because they don’t feel safe outside. Again, check with the local police department.

The Bottom Line: Attention to the surroundings of any neighborhood is important. Often, the focus is on the home and how perfect it is for you, but a huge part of the way you live is where you live. You’re purchasing a home AND the neighborhood. A good Realtor will remind you that the overall area the home is in can/will impact the resale value of the home. Buying a home in an area that is decreasing will create problems in the future.

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The Essential Guide to Your Search For an Accessible Home

Key, Castle, Heart, Keychain, Close To, Door Key, Close

If you’re about to embark on the search for an accessible home, you may be worried about your chances of finding a property that suits your needs. It’s normal to feel nervous, but with a strategic approach, you’ll have no trouble putting down an offer on a home you can easily modify! These simple steps will provide you with a road map to buying an accessible home.


Considerations for First-Time Buyers

If you’re buying your first home, you’ll have quite a few important tasks on your to-do list! For instance, you’ll need to look up your credit score and start creating a house hunting budget. Additionally, you’ll have to start looking up local real estate agents, preparing necessary paperwork for your lender, and identify organizations that may be able to help you cover your down payments or the cost of home modifications. In the early stages of house hunting, you may want to create a checklist outlining these items so you don’t overlook anything important!


Financing Your Home Purchase

As a homebuyer with a disability, you might be eligible for financial assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher program or Habitat for Humanity, but while you may qualify for certain forms of assistance, there’s a good chance that you will still have to take out a mortgage to buy a home. If this is the case, Money Under 30 notes that FHA loans can be a great option.

First-time homebuyers with short credit histories and who can only afford small down payments can qualify for FHA loans. However, it’s always important to research all of your loan options when applying for a mortgage.


Choose a Great Realtor


In your search for an accessible home, working with a reliable realtor will be essential. You’ll undoubtedly have some unique concerns and questions, and your realtor can help you find the perfect home without compromising on your needs. With the help of a group like Title First Agency, you can connect with a realtor who will look out for your best interests during the house hunting process and support you all the way through closing day.


Touring Properties


Once you’ve connected with a realtor, you’ll be ready to start visiting a few properties in person! This is where it’s important to be selective. While older, historic homes may be beautiful, they will also be harder to modify. Therefore, it’s crucial to check out homes that were built recently. Chances are, you’ll also prefer to tour single-story homes – while you could add a stair lift or elevator to a two-story home, those projects could prove to be quite expensive.


Find Reputable Movers


As soon as you close on a home that you love, it will be time to start packing and searching for a moving company. It’s best to start saving for moving costs well before closing day so that you’re not caught off guard! To find a trustworthy moving service, compare online reviews for a few different companies so you can make an informed choice.


Modifications


You may need to make certain modifications before and after you move in. Depending on your specific needs, 101Mobility recommends replacing entrance stairs with ramps, installing a safety frame around your toilet, and adding handrails along the walls where necessary. In order to move forward with these projects, you’ll need to bring a few contractors on board. Popular Mechanics states that you should make sure any contractor you hire is insured and officially licensed to work in your area.

When you’re on the lookout for an accessible home, it can be difficult to peruse local listings and identify properties that will fit your personal requirements. That’s why it’s important to work with a great realtor, seek out available assistance, and plan for modifications. If you’re proactive about this process, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you find a comfortable, accessible home.


Photo via Pixabay

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Buyer’s Market Vs. Seller’s Market

What is a Buyer’s Market?

A buyer’s market occurs when the availability of homes (supply) exceeds the number of buyers looking for a home (demand). Anyone looking for their next home to buy, a buyer’s market is the ideal time to make the move. The ability to but a fabulous home for a lower cost is greater.

Homes may remain longer on the market if trying to sell during a buyer’s market. There are so many homes available thus securing a buyer is tougher and lowering the price might need to happen.

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market occurs when demand exceeds supply. In other words, there are many interested buyers, but the real estate inventory is low. Since there are fewer homes available, sellers are at an advantage.

In a seller’s market, homes sell faster, and buyers must compete with each other in order to score a property. These market conditions often make buyers willing to spend more on a home than they would otherwise. Therefore, sellers can raise their asking prices.

Due to the shortage of housing, these conditions often lead to bidding wars. During bidding wars, buyers will make competing offers and drive up the price, typically above what the seller initially asked for.

Determining if it’s a Seller’s Market or a Buyer’s Market

You can use supply to determine if the market favors buyers or sellers. As a general rule, a neutral market will have 6 months of housing supply. This means that if there’s less than 6 months worth of inventory, it’s a seller’s market, and if there’s more than 6 months’ worth of inventory, it’s a buyers market. When determining if it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, you must look at housing supply on a local level, usually by neighborhood or zip code, as it’s not uncommon for areas in the same city to be in different markets. 

How well a home is bought or sold is dependent upon the market the home is currently in. Just because the news says the nation is in one market doesn’t mean it is the same everywhere. Meet with a Realtor for the best information. Any strategy used to buy or sell a home is also dependent on the market it is in and the Realtor. Choose an agent wisely, stick to the strategies and homes can be bought and sold in any market.

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Red Flags When House Hunting

Red flags can appear anytime during a house-hunting process and depending on the size of the problem, it could signal that it’s time to walk away. Some slight problems or minor defects can be fixed, but some issues can seriously detract from your investment, and even endanger your health and safety.

Foundation Issues: If your home inspection report lists concerns with the integrity of your home’s foundation, don’t ignore them.  While all poured concrete foundations will crack at one time or another, hairline cracks are not an indication of a problem. If a crack is wider than 1/2 inch, however, it’s a good idea to have a foundation contractor examine the area. This also holds true for cracks that appear to have been recently patched. Large cracks can indicate an unstable foundation. Not all foundation issues are expensive to fix. However, major structural problems that require stabilization using hydraulic piers can cost a lot of money.

Electrical Issues: If a light switch does not work when you flip it, it’s probably just a minor electrical issue that can be fixed later. But, Outdated wiring or too little voltage is cause for concern. Not only will you not be able to hook up all your electronics and appliances, but problems with your electrical setup can also increase your risk for a home fire. Major electrical issues can end up being costly projects that require permits, professionals, and inspections to bring up to code. 

Roofing Issues: A complete roof teardown is a substantial investment, so it’s important to know how old the roof is, particularly important in areas of the country where there is a lot of snowfall since that can shorten the life span of a roof.  Besides the costs of replacement or repairs, leaky roofs can lead to other problems like mold, rot, and water damage. 

Mold: If water damage or mold is found in the home, consider it a red flag. In truth, most homes will have some mold in crawl spaces and attics, and not all mold is bad for your health. But, important: mold can mean there are other problems, like water leaks from the roof or major appliances, that could be costly to correct. It’s imperative that the source of the mold is found. Otherwise, the problem could worsen, and you could end up with a health hazard.

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