Pop-Up Office

“The pandemic was unexpected, working from home was unexpected, but nonetheless many companies realized that workers can be just as productive working from home,”

So, here we are. Homebuyers are now, more than ever before, looking for flexible home office space. A room that is quiet and away from distractions and noise. Staging an area where buyers can easily imagine themselves setting up their laptop, making phone calls, storing paperwork, hosting meetings and have video calls is important to highlight.

When staging a space, the room should connect to the buyer on not only the square footage but how potentially functional the area will be for them. If the office is shared with a playroom or a guest bedroom it becomes a deterrent to the buyer by announcing that the home is too small to fit in all the features of a home office. Avoid confusing buyers about the purpose of the room. It’s not a great idea to have a combination of home office, gym and playroom.

Depersonalize and declutter the room. Remove family photos, diplomas, memorabilia, and anything political. All that paperwork that clutters an office? Remove it by filing it away or tossing it. Consider getting cube shelving with attractive file baskets to keep paperwork near, but out of sight. Be sure to dust, especially around the computer and hide all the wiring as best you can. Keep only the bare minimum of fixtures needed for work and arrange them to make the most of the space.

Appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers by working with a calm and neutral color scheme. Never underestimate the power of a new paint job. It can completely redo the look and feel of any space. Painting is one of the most cost-effective ways to stage. If the area is dark, add additional light sources such as light fixtures, floor and table lamps. Possibly even find a bright overhead light. If there are windows in the room, remove dark or light blocking drapes. Allow all the light in (this will also make the space appear larger). Fill the empty walls with simple artwork to add life to the room.

Minimize furniture. You really only need a few pieces to make the room look like an appealing home office. A simple desk, a chair, some accessories are all you really need.

The Bottom Line: Buyer demand for home office space has accelerated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Look at your area and make sure you are presenting it in the best way. Office space requires a place to not only work but to inspire and motivate. Neglecting to put a bit of effort into a “pop-up” home office can turn away buyers. As always, find an experienced Realtor to come in and see your space with new eyes and offer you solid opinions to get your home sold.

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Home Selling in The Fall

There’s less competition

Spring seems to steals the show when it comes to selling a home. Reason being that sellers want to capitalize on the weather and with it the beautiful curb appeal. However, because so many sellers want to take advantage of this, the market becomes more competitive making your own home more difficult to stand out from the rest. It’s thought that Fall is a quieter real estate market, but there are many advantages to putting your home on the market for the season, including less competition.

The serious buyers are out

Summer vacations are over giving buyers less time to spend house hunting. Those that are shopping in the Fall are dedicated buyers. Chances are that those who come to view your home are in the middle of a serious house search, which could perhaps make an offer all the more likely. You are now dealing with a more serious pool of buyers. By the time September or October rolls around, these buyers are itching to get their move settled. Nobody wants to move in the snow or during the busy holiday season, so potential buyers usually want to get things signed and sealed as quickly as possible.

Curb appeal

Curb appeal is thought to peak during the Spring, and we all know how important it is to have your property looking its best when you have it on the market. The colors of the leaves are turning beautiful golds and reds making for a dramatic and incredible backdrop for your home. Throw in some potted flowering mums and keep the late-flowering plants cleaned up and you’ve got curb appeal that blows away Spring. Be sure to keep up with the raking as the leaves fall!

Appeal to the senses

The fall and winter months are associated with certain smells and flavors ( pine needles, cinnamon, peppermint, and pumpkin pie). Beyond setting the mood with decorations, you could try appealing to buyers’ senses in multiple ways. When it’s chilly outside, it’s important to make buyers feel warm in more ways than one. Aside from keeping your thermostat at a comfortable level, it’s a good idea to make your home seem inviting.

The Bottom Line: Marketing from a good Realtor will always be a big part of selling any home, and if you sell at their busiest time, which is spring, you run the risk of getting a little less attention than you may want. However, grab them during the off-season of Fall or Winter and your home will be given more attention. There will be extra challenges in selling in the Fall, but if you embrace the season, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a buyer. Take all the necessary steps to improve your chances of selling.

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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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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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Pricing Your Home Right The First Time

No matter what anyone tells you, the very first thing that buyers look at in their home search is the price. Does not matter how perfect your home is, if the price isn’t in the budget, they won’t even consider it. In order to sell your home for the most money possible, you must price it right. So, when it is time to sell your home, find the best Realtor that will price your home properly – in fact, this might be the most important thing a skilled Realtor can do. Too many Realtors will tell sellers what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear to sell their home.

Realtors see this every day. Homeowners have a price in their mind that they want even though it doesn’t align with the market. Pricing a home is a skill that takes training, understanding of the market and the comparable sales (comps). When a home is listed too high, buyers pass on even looking at it. It will end up being on the market for a long period of time and the price will eventually be forced to be lowered to be competitive. But, by that time buyers assume there must be something wrong with the home and it will gain a bad reputation and continue to be bypassed. Even the buyers who do look at it will lowball the new price and the home will end up being sold for less than what it would have had you priced it correctly to being with. Homes sell for the most money when they are on the market for less than 30 days in almost all markets.

You don’t want your home priced lower than it is worth, but you want it low enough to create excitement among buyers and possibly even multiple offers coming in. This is an excellent option if you want to sell a home fast.

A good Realtor will make sure that the seller’s home shows up in online searches. To make sure this happens, a proper price is paramount. If the neighborhood comps are lower, the house may not show up if it’s even slightly higher! For instance, if the comps top out at $300,000, and the buyer wants a 4 bedroom home in that neighborhood under $300,000, the house listed at $325,000 won’t even show up in the search.

Pricing a home to sell properly is a skill that the best Realtors have. It is the most critical piece to selling your home. The right price is 75% of the marketing for any home on the market. It’s what will attract buyers. So, when you are interviewing Realtors to sell your home, ask the question “what’s my home worth” and know they can’t tell you what it will sell for but expect comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales. Finally, ask to see a track record of their previous listings – the original price and the final sale number. And, don’t be afraid to ask for a personal guarantee from them.

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What is Title Insurance?

Whether you are buying or refinancing a home, there’s an optional insurance policy you should buy: title insurance. Title insurance is a policy on the deed of your home. Some people just don’t want the extra expense. However, going without it could end up being awful for your finances. Title insurance can protect owners of events and matters that can be brought up from the past. Can you imagine if one day someone comes along and contests your ownership of the property? What happens if an old title issue surfaces and a claim is made on a policy? Imagine buying your new home only to find out that back taxes are owed on the property and remain unpaid. If you didn’t have this protection, you would be responsible for payments on those back taxes. If the payments aren’t made, you could lose the home to the party that the taxes are owed. Title insurance was created to protect homeowners from unknown claims against their property that can show up years down the road.

Title Insurance can protect the homeowner from:

  • Mistakes on titles, especially lately, that are transferred through a sale of foreclosure without certain rulings met, thus making the transfer of the title invalid.
  • Mistakes within all the paperwork brought to a closing, somewhere along the line there may be a forged signature or recorded documents signed by people without legal authority.
  • Mistakes made during the probate process for the previous owner that overlooked someone else’s rightful claim (undisclosed heirs) to the property or someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.
  • Mistakes made in the description of the property.
  • Mistakes missed where claims, tax information or easements have not been recorded properly in the public record.
  • Mistakes missed of liens on the property or judgments against the previous owner.
  • Mistakes in unpaid taxes or mortgages and unpaid debts.

Be sure to use a licensed and reputable title company, such as Title First Agency, to review the title and ensure the property you want to buy has no disputes or defects attached to it that could hurt you financially. Buying a home is probably the largest single investment most of us make, we need to protect it.

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Your House May Not Be Selling Because…


Why is smell so important in selling a home? Research suggests that one of the first impressions someone has walking into your home may be of the smell. If you have a house that doesn’t smell good it can be a harder sell. Odors that turn a home buyer off include dogs, cats, small caged animals, cigarette smoke, last night’s dinner, mold, and others.  Wall to wall carpeting can harbor bad smells as well, especially if pets are present in the home. Before you sell your home walk through with a friend, a Realtor, or someone you can rely on to give you an unbiased opinion. You will want to get rid of the source of any bad odor as soon as possible.


Dirty houses, especially bathrooms and kitchens. If you don’t have time to clean your house daily concentrate on your kitchen and bathrooms. In the kitchen, make sure floors are vacuumed and devoid of spills, crumbs and dirt. Make sure counters are wiped clean and that there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Buyers want to see a like-new bathroom. Take the time to clean even the smallest areas of your bathroom such as the drains, corners and grout. Now is a great time to go through the bottles of bath products your family owns. Get rid of any empty containers or old products and leave only what you’ll need. Organize what’s left in shower caddies and cabinets.


No one wants to enter a dark house, especially someone who wants to buy your home. Replace dim or burnt out light bulbs with high efficiency, bright bulbs to brighten up your space. If you have big windows, take advantage of them. Make sure they are clean and make sure that drapes and curtains are not blocking the natural sunlight.  When it comes to selling your room, lighting really can be everything. If a house is too poorly lit they may tend to wonder what you are trying to hide. Maybe they think there is a repair that you are trying to avoid. Either way, you want to avoid the perception that you have something to hide. On the other hand, well-placed lights can make a huge difference in highlighting the best qualities of your home, creating a cozy ambiance, and illuminating essential work and play spaces.

Personal Belongings

Personal items in your home may offend or provoke buyers. They are there to see the house, no you and your family. Get rid of your collection of figurines or weapons, sports memorabilia from your favorite teams, expressions of religious faith or political belief, and diplomas. If you ensure that your prospect feels as comfortable as possible walking through your home during the viewing, as if they already live there, then you are halfway to selling the home. Watch out with holiday decor as well. It can be hard for buyers to overlook as they may not celebrate the same holiday as you.


Many buyers expect and want hardwood floors. If you have the original hardwood floors under carpet in your home, remove it, even if the wood isn’t in the best condition. In negotiating you might want to offer to have the floors refinished when you move out or give the buyer an allowance to do it on their own. Someone out there probably likes and appreciates having carpet in the bathroom, where it will absorb moisture and more, but most Realtors will recommend pulling it out.

Old Appliances

Although potential buyers realize they can replace a refrigerator, if your appliances look old and mismatched, they may wonder what else might need replacing. Although brand-new appliances can be a significant selling point for your home, they’re not a requirement. For most buyers, appliances that are clean and functioning with plenty of life expectancy left will probably be good enough. Do your appliances match? Homebuyers love appliances that are the same color, quality, and brand. After two decades, stainless steel is still the most popular kitchen appliance finish, but consistency among appliance finishes is your first goal as a seller. 

The Bottom Line:

A house fails to sell for all kinds of reasons. Most of the issues are an easy fix and with a bit of work, you can get your house ready for the market fast. It’s important to find the best Realtor.  Their job is to help you get your house sold. If they are good at their job, they will be able to advise you on the likely cause of why your home is not selling and provide you with the assistance you may need to rectify the problem.

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Seller Disclosures

A Seller Disclosure is a set of documents completed by the seller of a home, listing any known issues with the property and any remodel projects completed during the time they owned the home. In most states, the seller is required to provide this disclosure within a few days of mutual acceptance. The buyer then has a certain amount of days to review the disclosures.

While mandatory disclosures can vary from state to state, here are some of the more common ones:

  • Lead paint. You are required by law to provide a lead disclosure form. This is a federal law and applies to every state. Even if you believe the lead paint has been removed, it must be disclosed. If you are not aware that there was ever any lead paint you are not required to investigate.
  • Asbestos disclosures. Up until the early 1970s, asbestos insulation was commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings. If your home contains asbestos, it can represent a significant health hazard. Before putting your property on the market, make sure to have the insulation removed by a firm that specializes in asbestos removal and cleanup. While it is legal to sell your home with asbestos, you MUST disclose the information if you know about it.
  • Environmental hazards. If your property contains other environmental hazards such as oil, gasoline, or toxic chemicals, you must disclose the presence of these materials at the time of sale. If water has gotten into the home where it shouldn’t it may undermine the home’s structure and possibly create a health hazard if mold is growing. As a seller, you should disclose past or present leaks or water damage.
  • Faulty equipment. If you are including any equipment in the sale of your business, you must disclose upfront whether or not any of that equipment is potentially faulty. It pays to have equipment that you are including in the sale checked beforehand.
  • Natural hazards disclosure. These are fairly new. With all the flooding and hurricane damage to properties in the last few years, it is now necessary to let the buyer know the good, the bad, and the ugly about your property. Is your home located within a natural hazard zone? Such as an earthquake fault, a seismic hazard zone, seasonal flooding, or wildfires?
  • Miscellaneous disclosure. To be on the safe side, you should disclose everything there is to know about your property at the time of the sale. Most state laws mandate that disclosures be on special forms that the seller must sign and date. Be sure the buyer acknowledges receipt of the disclosures by signing and dating the forms as well. If your state doesn’t require a specific disclosure form, be sure the buyer otherwise affirms receipt of your disclosures in writing.

There can and will be legal backlash for the Realtor and the seller if any problems are knowingly withheld from the buyer.

The bottom line: If you are not sure if you should disclose something, you probably should. It is always best to have an experienced Realtor on your side to help you navigate these required legal disclosures. Even if a certain disclosure is not required in your state, but you know of information that could make a buyer uncomfortable, you should disclose it anyway. Beyond the moral reasons for being honest with the buyer, it will avoid the expense and hassle of a lawsuit down the road.

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