The new year is a time for a fresh start and if you are thinking about putting your home on the market this spring now is a perfect time to start preparations! There are things to do before listing your home that will require little effort and hardly any budget – music to the ears. Enter 2023 with a calm, clean, and well-maintained home.
Short days and the cold season give us all plenty of time to be inside looking for things to do. Buyers will want to be able to picture what their life would be like in your home, so remove, toss and donate clutter and personal possessions. A clutter-free home is also much easier to keep clean between showings. Consider getting a storage unit where you can put away unnecessary furniture, throw blankets, pillows, etc.
With all the extra motivation the new year brings, take some time to tackle any of the minor repairs you keep putting off, like filling nail holes, repairing leaky faucets, touching up trim with paint, etc. Chipped paint, running toilets, and squeaky doors may seem minor but give the signal to potential buyers that your home has not been well maintained.
Paint is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to update the look of your home before you list it. You don’t have to paint every room, just those that obviously need it. Rooms with dark, chipped or dirty paint are the ones that will benefit the most. If you have wallpaper in your home, consider removing it as it always dates a home and painting is such an easy remedy.
This might be fun – change out the cabinet hardware in the kitchen. So easy to do and not pricey. Changing out the handles and knobs to a brass or silver finish can drastically update the look of your cabinets. Home Depot & Lowes have a large selection.
Deep clean your oven, stove, and refrigerator but be sure to keep on top of it weekly. It’s amazing what you will find when you pull out your refrigerator from the wall – have a vacuum handy! A clean, fresh, bright kitchen that makes the most of the space will attract buyers and does not need to cost an arm and a leg. Clean the kitchen windows, inside and out. Consider removing any window coverings.
Newsflash: Potential buyers will be looking inside your cupboards. If they are overstuffed, that gives the impression that there isn’t enough storage space in your kitchen. Remove excess stuff, mismatched items, and anything that simply does not look good.
The Bottom Line: All of the above can be done in a month or less, just in time to get you ready to freshen up your outside. Putting thought and planning into the sale of your home means less confusion and stress during the actual home selling period. Happy 2023!
Buying a home is still considered a key aspect of the American dream, as a home is typically an appreciating asset that grows in value over time. Being a first-time buyer can open the door to tax breaks and federally-backed loans. Once you are ready financially here’s what to look for:
Location. Decide on this first to eliminate “buyer’s remorse” down the road. Do the homework and research neighborhoods. School districts, local safety, and crime statistics can affect a home’s value. Even if you have found your “dream home”, the neighborhood could be completely wrong. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night and watch the traffic, how are the streets and sidewalks? What are the neighbors like and how do they take care of their homes? Is the home close to places you might frequent (gym, grocery, schools)? Are there children playing safely outside?
Shop Online: Now that you know where you want to buy a home, there are plenty of online options to start the search. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and any local real estate agency. Narrow down the Realtors that you want to connect with by reading their online reviews, looking at their websites, social media platforms and googling. The Realtor you choose will be the expert you will rely on most. Interview several before settling on one.
Be Frugal: Zero in on homes that are listed for less than the amount of money you have been approved for. Many first-time homebuyers don’t calculate the other monthly expenses or problems that go along with homeownership (broken appliances, etc). Furthermore, other than the down payment, there will be money needed at closing.
Negotiate: This is where having the best Realtor will come in beautifully. Once you make an offer, the seller might come back with a counteroffer and after discussing the pros and cons with your Realtor, you will know if you should offer more or walk away. Keep your emotions out of the entire process. Too many people pay too much for a home because they have “fallen in love” and this type of emotion can lead to very bad financial decisions.
Do an Exhaustive Inspection: Do the homework and find the very best Home Inspection Company with the top ratings. Be there with the inspector and learn about the home, ask questions – you need to know that the home you are purchasing is structurally sound. See the good and the bad – what repairs will be needed? Is the electric wiring adequate for today’s use? How are the water pipes, heating, and air conditioning systems? When the inspection is complete, get a verbal and written report. Bonus – the company will be available at a later date for more questions.
The Bottom Line: The above tips are just a few important ones to help navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes. Find a Realtor. While it’s easy to go through online homes and narrow down what you want, it’s not so easy to get from that point to the closing. There is the transfer of the deed, title search, negotiating, asking for “extras” that you might be entitled to, completing all paperwork and being the single point of contact with the seller.
Social media is a vital tool that realtors should absolutely use to grow their businesses, a way for buyers to discover home listings, show their expertise, and start developing relationships & leads. If you’re not using one or all of the social media platform options, you’re at a disadvantage, because your competitors probably are.
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter & Linkedin are all free forms of advertising the homes you are selling. At this point, anyone with a smartphone, from kids to a retired relative is on one or more platforms. For a small price, you can have the option for boosting any post you make for the ability to become even more visible as well as have the option to reach the “exact” audience you are selling to.
Whether you’re working with an agent or selling your home on your own, how the listing is marketed is crucial. Sharing attractive, important, and relevant content daily is how to play the social media game. The images and videos you use should be of high quality.
These platforms can put Realtors and buyers in the same room together, yet miles and states away via live video. Just like an in-person showing, these live showings should be pre-staged, the walkthrough must provide the clients with a sense of the layout, and the online experience must be easily accessible to all users.
The outside of the home is important, too. It’s where you should begin your live tour as you would normally. You’ll want to make sure the buyer is getting a good look at the exterior from all angles. They will want to get a grasp of the home’s curb appeal, the parking situation, and the surrounding neighborhood as much as possible. Be ready to answer questions from viewers as they watch.
Video messages, live or pre-taped in your social media posts will enable your audience to feel like they know you and slowly want to work with you. Especially when you use the “stories” on Facebook and Instagram as a place on social that feels more authentic and real. Stories are where the viewer will discover more than what you share on your feed. You will be giving them direct access to you as you give them a visual, quick way to clearly see who you are and how you might be able to help them. Don’t be shy, just start talking and sharing. After a few times, this will become part of your routine.
The Bottom Line: All of these platforms are additional opportunities to grow your real estate brand and establish connections through fun, interactive experiences. Building your brand as authentically as possible through beautiful photos and videos is essential to the success of any business. Social media should play an important role in your marketing strategy.
The Christmas season is underway and many homes are already decorated with live trees. Christmas trees are usually the focal point for every decorated home, but they also quickly burn if there is ever a fire. Some causes of these fires are the electrical distribution or lighting equipment as well as some type of heat source (such as a candle) being too close to the tree. One of the most common causes of real tree fires is a dried-out one. Check water levels daily and keep them hydrated.
Stay safe all year round – there are many fire safety tips you can use to protect your family and home and avoid a tragedy, here are 10 to get you started.
1. TEST YOUR SMOKE ALARMS REGULARLY
Smoke detectors are your first line of defense against fire because of their early warning capability. These days, they’re hardwired into homes to monitor smoke and carbon monoxide and have the ability to send alerts to your phone.
If you’re using a battery-operated one, do a routine check every six months to be certain it is still working. All it takes is pressing a button on your alarm. A weak beep means it’s time to change its batteries as soon as you can.
2. Check that HEATING SOURCES ARE WORKING PROPERLY
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says heating equipment is the top cause of fire in American homes. Any faulty heating sources like space heaters, central heating systems, and fireplaces could trigger fire when ignored or left unchecked. Have a professional check-up once a year to be sure they are working safely and optimally.
In the meantime, do some prevention maintenance like cleaning the air filters regularly. If you are using a space heater, position it away from flammable objects. These little details are critical if you consider how debris and dust can be fire hazards when they get too close to a heat source.
3. Keep your oven/stove clean
Make sure to clean your stove and oven after every use. In particular, cooktops and gas stoves should be wiped after cooking. Modern ovens have a self-cleaning function that you should take advantage of every few months.
4. PAY ATTENTION WHEN COOKING
More than half of kitchen fires are caused by cooking disruptions. Remember that all it takes is a few seconds before things in the kitchen begin to catch fire.
Avoiding minor to major interruptions while cooking is a top priority to ensure the safety of your home. Some things you should remember:
Stay in the kitchen while cooking — if you must leave the house for any reason, turn the stove or oven off until you return.
For food that takes a long time to prepare, check back frequently. This will help prevent potential causes of fires, for example, if the liquid has boiled away and food is cooking dry.
Keep items that can easily catch fire — oven mitts, paper towels, cloth towels, food packaging, wooden utensils — away from the cooking source.
Be especially careful with oils and grease. These combustibles can’t be extinguished with water. Either smother the flames or use a kitchen-rated fire extinguisher.
5. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR DRYER’S AIRFLOW
Dryer fires occur in 2,900 homes in the United States each year due to clogged vents or a filter buildup that can cause a fire. However, this situation is highly preventable if you follow best practices.
Get your dryer inspected annually or every few months – there is no substitute for this. Next, always check if your lint trap is clean before putting in a new load of laundry.
Lint or small clothing items like socks can also get stuck at the back of the machine. So make sure to look for those and remove them prior to operating your dryer.
6. BE CAREFUL WITH CORDS, appliances & Outlets
Make sure that you don’t have too many appliances plugged into an outlet, which can cause it to overload. If this is the case, you should immediately lessen the load and keep things manageable for each of your outlets. Unplug countertop appliances like toasters or air fryers when you’re not using them.
Another instance to avoid is ignoring frayed or chewed cords. One spark from the exposed wires is all it takes for a fire to start. It’s a necessity to replace damaged wires as soon as you notice them, to avoid the risk of fire.
Check your cord placement. Cords tend to get hot so you want to avoid running them under a rug or between your wall and furniture.
Often, homeowners can see signs of potential electrical problems long before a fire actually occurs. Here’s what you should watch out for:
Lights dimming or flickering
Wall plates sooty or turning brown
Hissing sounds in the wall or in fixtures when they turn on
Switches or outlets feel hot while operating
7. STORE FLAMMABLE PRODUCTS SAFELY
Common hair products, cosmetics, and household cleaners can all be classified as flammable products. They all tend to combust when placed too close to a large heat source.
To err on the side of caution and avoid fire and smoke damage, you should always check the label of items you purchase, to know which products are prone to catch fire when exposed to heat sources like space heaters. Then, ensure you keep your flammable products in a cool, dry place.
8. PRACTICE CAUTION WITH CANDLES
Scented candles are commonly used in households, especially around the holidays. But if you don’t use them carefully, they could cause fire and smoke damage. Handling them with total awareness of their potential fire risk is key. Here are some rules to remember:
Always put the candles out if you’re leaving a room.
Blow them out before you fall asleep.
Place them in a spot that is far away from objects that can easily catch fire like curtains and blankets.
Never position them on an uneven surface such as a carpet to prevent them from tipping over.
Keep lit candles away from your pet.
9. KEEP YOUR FIREPLACE SAFE
Your fireplace can be a source of fire if not maintained correctly. For safe usage, fireplaces must be maintained properly – they should be inspected and repaired at least once annually (even if you only burn a fire in the fireplace one time per year, cracks in the chimney, or the presence of bird nests can cause fires). Household fires start when chimneys fall into disrepair or when fires are burned unattended. When you have a fire going, it is also advised to stay in the room. Dispose of the ashes properly, giving them more than enough time to cool down. To be sure, put them in a metal container specifically designed for the disposal of ashes.
10. INVEST IN A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Fire extinguishers can save lives, making them a worthwhile investment. Having them at home can bolster your feelings of safety. At the same time, they are also genuinely useful in case a fire breaks out. Put them in the high-risk areas of the house, such as the kitchen and laundry room. Also, check if your units are not yet expired. They usually last an average of 5 to 15 years.
A quick inspection of the pressure gauge is also needed. Just check if the needle falls in the fire extinguisher’s green area, and you’re good to go.
The Bottom Line: House fires can be deadly if you’re not prepared. Fortunately, there are many things above and beyond the 10 tips listed here that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from fires. Be sure to have a plan in place to evacuate your home in the event of a house fire. Know where all of your fire extinguishers are located, and teach everyone in the home how to use them and where they are located.
Practice fire safety and response to fires with the children in your home. If you have pets, live with very young children, or live with someone elderly, work with people in your home to ensure safe evacuation.
Most people know how important it is to havetitle insurance when buying a new home. The buyer needs to have protection against defects or problems because of liens, encumbrances, or defects in the title when there is a transfer of property ownership. But, what if the home being sold is new construction since there isn’t an actual previous home that has a title? Many prospective homeowners wrongly assume that newly built homes are free of title defects.
When a home is sold, the original seller transfers the title deed to the buyer. The hope is that the seller has had full possession of the title without any liens on the property and has the right to sell it. A title company will research public records looking for problems that might be associated with the property – filing errors, forgeries, undisclosed heirs – and once searched will provide a policy to protect the buyer from any issues that may be uncovered later.
All of the above makes sense if a home that is being bought has been owned by someone else. What happens when a buyer is purchasing the land to build a new house on? Why would title insurance be needed? Because the land was owned and may have been broken up from an even larger parcel that has undiscovered claims. The title to that land may come into a dispute in years to come. Most land is not completely claim-free, thus there is history. Furthermore, the builder may have bills unpaid to subcontractors and suppliers resulting in a lien on the new home.
A title policy is a best and safest way in protecting the buyer of the land where the new home is being built. There will be no question of ownership in the future, especially if the home in the new subdivision was not properly subdivided.
The Bottom Line: The lender will want to be sure that there is a clear title on the property. Someone owned the land on which the new home is being built before the buyer and the title to that land may at some point come into dispute. And, while there is no question the owners could experience disruption during a dispute, title insurance will ease the pain by covering the bills during the process.