Mistakes First-Time Sellers Can Avoid

If you are prepping your home to be sold as a first-time seller, there are many pitfalls to avoid. Here are some things to watch out for as a first-time home seller.

First-time home sellers have one of the most difficult jobs to undertake. These jobs include the inspection of the property, prepping the home for open houses, as well as, dealing with the myriad of documents and legal matters related to the sale of a home. Doing all of this at once can be maddening and requires some research. If home sellers want to avoid major problems, home sellers should learn about the mistakes to avoid as a first-time seller.

Doing research prior to putting a property on the market is a huge task, but will pay off with each buyer that is interested in the property. As first-time home sellers considering what to do regarding the sale of the home, there are several obvious mistakes to avoid. Here are the most common mistakes first-time home sellers make.

Not Performing a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a key first step of selling your property. Many first-time home sellers underestimate the importance of this task, which can end up being a costly mistake. By scheduling a home inspection prior to listing your home for sale, especially if it is older, you can avoid the issue of having to negotiate down the sale price of your home because there are problems that a buyer has to fix. By getting the home inspection done early, you have an opportunity to address the issues on your own and likely at a lower cost than the buyer might suggest.

Skipping Out on Marketing

In order for your home to sell, you will need to have an effective marketing plan in place that utilizes both online and offline resources. It is essential that you have a budget dedicated to marketing your home. This is not an area in which you want to skimp on your efforts. Your real estate agent has the ability to tap into a vast network of home sellers and home buyers in order to increase the probability that your home sells quickly.

You should work with your agent to develop a complete pricing strategy and marketing strategy for selling your home. An experienced agent can guide you through the difficulties of pricing a home to sell and can also ensure that your home is being advertised online effectively in order to attract the most buyers. A home that has not been marketed effectively or has been incorrectly priced has a high probability of taking longer to sell. Therefore, if you want the best results, you should work with a Realtor to market your property.

Don’t Try to Sell on Your Own

Trying to sell your home on your own as a first-time seller is a serious mistake to avoid. Not only are you risking your investment in your home, you may also open yourself up to legal liabilities. “Some people don’t buy and sell houses more than once or twice in a lifetime, and there’s a lot of money at stake,” Holly Mellstrom, a Realtor in Pelham, NY says. “And there are so many disclosure laws now. Depending on the laws in your state, you’re really accepting some liability by trying to sell it yourself, unless you have a friend or an attorney who can guide you through the process.”

An experienced Realtor can guide you through all of the important steps that are required to successfully market your home. In addition, a Realtor is also capable of doing the research to stay on top of the latest updates in regulations to ensure that the entire process is done correctly. As a first-time home seller, you may also want to consider hiring an attorney if you want additional guidance on making the best decisions with regard to the sale of your property.

Failing to Stage Your Home

First-time home sellers might make the amateur mistake of believing that cleaning the home is enough to impress buyers. The fact is, that the buyer wants to see the home from their perspective and not yours. A real estate agent may recommend a professional home staging in order to get your home up-to-par for buyers.

The home staging process may likely require renovations to your home. A real estate agent can make the best recommendations for staging your home based on experience and knowledge of what buyers are looking for, such as new bathroom fixtures. As a first-time home seller, you should ask for your Realtor’s assistance in getting your home ready for buyers.

Failing to Meet Deadlines

Selling a home is a serious matter in the eyes of the law. Therefore, as a first-time home seller, it is important that you stay on top of all deadlines provided to you by your real estate agent. If it helps, make a calendar so that you can keep track of appointments and deadlines. By staying on top of the deadlines, you can ensure that the paperwork gets filed on time and that you are responding to buyers’ offers in a timely fashion that will facilitate the sale of your home.

Lack of Communication

As a first-time home seller, you need to make sure that you establish a good line of communication with your agent. This is essential for keeping up with deadlines and also helping your real estate agent to learn about your unique case so that he or she can effectively market your property. It is not okay to simply drop out of communication or fail to mention concerns to your real estate agent, as your actions could damage your agent’s ability to sell your home.

By watching out for these amateur mistakes, you can avoid many of the headaches that first-time home sellers experience.

How to Makeover Your Investment Property Kitchen for $500

There is nothing like looking at a design magazine or reading an inspiring article to get you excited about renovating your kitchen, but on a tight budget, your options might feel limited. With so many resources available and enough elbow grease, you would be surprised how easily you can transform your kitchen.

Here are some simple ways to update your investment property kitchen without breaking the bank:

Paint

It goes without saying that paint can truly transform a room. Thankfully it is also a very cost effective way to update an otherwise ugly space. The avocado green walls may have suited your grandma, but it’s contributing nothing but retro vibes to your kitchen right now. Aim to choose warm neutral tones as these colors give a welcoming impression, but also are more appealing to potential buyers.

Deep Clean

Nothing sends people running faster than a filthy kitchen. This might seem like an obvious step, but a sparkly clean space is one of the most inexpensive ways you can maintain the value of your investment property. Once your kitchen has gone through a deep clean, it will peel back layers of grime that accumulates through the years revealing some things you may have never noticed before. If the grout was once stained but cleaned up nicely, you might be able to skip replacing it. A clean start will help you determine the areas that truly need updating and other areas that you can save.

Update Accessories

One extremely minimal way to update your kitchen is simply to change out a few prominent kitchen accessories. This includes a new:

  • spoon rest
  • hand towels
  • fruit bowl
  • wine rack
  • colorful floor mat
  • decorative shelving
  • pretty utensil container

Another way to freshen up the kitchen on a dime, is to display fresh fruit like lemons or oranges in a large apothecary jars or place a vase full of fresh flowers on your kitchen counter. Sometimes a pop of color can add so much warmth. Lisa Canning, a Toronto-based interior stylist adds, “ Swapping kitchen accessories in and out, such as dishtowels and counter-worthy accessories, is another simple and effective way to change the color and feel of a kitchen with minimal cost.”

Get Creative

Anyone on a shoestring budget knows you have to think outside of the box when it comes to decorating. A wonderful way to save while updating, is to re-purpose old items. Laura Gaskill of Houzz suggests, “ Work in rustic elements. Farmhouse accents instantly add warmth and character to a bland kitchen. Replace the kitchen or pantry door with a sliding barn door, hang copper pots from a ceiling rack or bring in a timeworn antique wooden stool.” Try visiting your local thrift store to see if you can find some statement pieces with rustic appeal. Glass mason jars also add a creative solution to storing grains, cereal, and spices, while still looking pretty on display.

Add a Chalkboard

Chalkboard walls bring a fresh, functional addition to your kitchen. Since, the kitchen is the hub of the home, having a feature that is so easy to add and remove is a great budget-friendly investment. Chalkboards are great for displaying your menu, sharing note-worthy quotes, and entertaining children. There are several approaches you could take:

With enough creativity, the possibilities are endless and easy to paint over if you grow tired of it.

Revamp the Hardware

Changing the drawer pulls on your kitchen cabinets can give them an instantly modern new look. While focusing on cost effective ways to update the kitchen, you should consider spray painting the old pulls. Beautyandbedlam.com shares some real-life design advice, “Why, oh why, did it take me so long to spray paint my kitchen cabinet knobs (or “pulls” for the decorators out there)? It took all of thirty minutes and makes such an amazing difference. Seriously, if you have those infamous 80’s and 90’s ‘in your face, gold brass knobs’ take a minute and update them. You’ll add a fresh, perfect punch to your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom…wherever you have outdated hardware (and trust me, my whole house is full of it).

Install a Back-splash

A lovely back-splash can give your kitchen a quick updated look. Don’t think just because you have a small budget to work with that your options are completely limited. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas for finding a fresh back-splash:

  • peg board
  • vintage postcards or maps
  • salvaged wood
  • home-made mosaic

Add a Kitchen Island

You might not be able to go out and add the kitchen island of your dreams, but there are plenty of alternative use items that function as beautiful islands. Consider converting an old table, vanity, or desk into a statement piece for your kitchen. Check out your local thrift store and see what funky pieces you can find. Add a fresh coat of paint, install some new hardware and your once bare kitchen will dazzle. You can add cup hooks or shelving to one end for extra storage and a few barstools around the edge to provide additional seating. Kitchen Designer Nadia Hursky shares,“Have a large open-plan space with a kitchen island if possible. Buyers often want to multitask in the kitchen. They want to cook, and have their kids do their homework and socialize in it.”

Factor in the Splurge

Chances are, there is one thing about your outdated kitchen that significantly bothers you the most. This is an area worth spending on; however, there are ways to cut corners and get the most bang for your buck. Narrow down the major problem areas of your kitchen and work your budget backward, taking into account what update will yield the best investment down the road.

Home Staging, Explained: How Staging Will Help Sell Your House

What is home staging? Home staging is the art of strategic home improvements and makeovers, in an effort to prep your house for the real estate market. If you’re looking to sell your home, staging it the right way is essential to getting a sale sooner, rather than later. But staging isn’t just about making your home pretty for sellers to look at – it can accomplish many other things as well, from real improvements to masking flaws, and more.

Staging for Your Home’s Faults

Have a tiny bathroom, tiny kitchen, or tiny home overall? Have a yard so lumpy that it’s not suited for anything but postmodern gardening? Staging can help mask these flaws, or even improve them properly. While high-intensity renovations that knock down walls and overturn your lawn are best left to the professionals (or at least Home & Garden TV reality shows), there are some staging elements that you can do yourself with a minimum of cost and effort.

Tiny rooms can easily be expanded with a few optical tricks. While the only thing that will truly expand a room in the footage sense is some intense construction, clearing a room of clutter and bringing in light will help make a small room seem more spacious. Remove bulky elements, and replace them with smaller, sleeker pieces. Updating hardware in your bathroom and kitchen can act to mask flaws as well as be a selling point in itself: take, for example, the trendy and stylish standing shower. Removing the tub from your bathroom already reclaims a great deal of floor space, and installing this more modern option will act as a real bonus for buyers both young and old. Other bulky elements that can be replaced are bathroom sinks (after all, how much room do you really need to wash your hands?), cabinetry, and shelving. Lawns and yards can be staged with an attractive patio and well-planned garden.

With more serious flaws, it’s a matter of proper home improvement projects, rather than trying to mask the issue with an attractive loveseat. If you’re not upfront with things like bad piping or electrical work, you might wind up saddled with a court date down the line. Take this opportunity to go through with those improvement projects you always meant to get around to, but consider leaving sensitive projects (such as the aforementioned water and electrical) to the pros.

Staging to Sell Your Home, Fast

 A staged home is a home that sells faster and for more money. As a home seller, it’s just good business sense to make your product – your house – look as attractive as possible to your consumers. Consider it from your buyers’ perspective: a buyer wants to see what your home can look like at its best, and wants to see that you’re eager to sell them a quality product. An individual who has gone to no efforts to stage won’t stand out from the pack, and a house that’s completely a blank slate – no furniture, no decoration, no nothing – will look just like any other blank building, and won’t whet your buyers’ appetite. With a staged home, you’ll wind up with more buyers lining up, and more offers rolling in, allowing you to pick and choose who you want bidding for your home.

In this sense, staging can also help your home sell for more. The housing market has steadily improved over the years, and the sellers’ market has been slowly returning. Making the effort to improve your home before you sell with updated hardware and a fresh coat of paint will satisfy your buyers more, and will have them making fewer price-lowering demands for glaring flaws. A buyer can’t complain about cramped quarters and an overgrown yard if your staging has already taken care of the problem.

Professional Home Stagers: Are They Worth the Price?

Many real estate agents offer professional staging services alongside their other duties. When you’re already working with them on the legal paperwork and marketing duties, it makes sense to ask their opinion and advice on your home’s looks. Prices vary from stager to stager, but can range from $1500-$2500. When you’re trying to sell your home at a gain, is that added expense worth it? What can they offer that you can’t handle on your own?

That price tag is for professional-level advice, and professional-level service. Not only do real estate stagers have years of experience under their belts, they also have contracts and connections to get you the best prices possible on staging elements and renovations.  They’re also knowledgeable about their location, and what buyers in the area are looking for; they can help your home stand out on the market and stand out on the street, without sticking out like a sore thumb. There’s also the simple matter of convenience: staging takes time and a keen eye, and instead of stressing yourself with the details and worrying if your personal tastes match the buying public’s, you can put your trust in a real professional to keep things running smoothly.

Even with the best canvas to start from, a well-staged home can and will sell for more, and sell faster. The expenses of staging aren’t negligible, but will be more than recouped when closing comes around. Staging your home is well worth your efforts, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional stager to do the legwork for you.

Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid Before Closing

As a homebuyer, you may be excited about your new home. However, until the closing is final, you still have a lot that you need to worry about. Many homebuyers make mistakes prior to closing that can delay the sale.

When you decide to buy a property, there is a significant amount of planning and research that must go into the sales process in order to make it successful. Working with a real estate agent can take away much of the stress. However, it is ultimately up to you as a buyer to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Due to lack of experience or oversight, many homebuyers make crucial mistakes.

Buying a home involves a myriad of things that need to be done. In addition to ensuring that the right paperwork is signed, you also need to make sure that you are getting the best value for your offer and that you haven’t overpaid.

This is why planning is so important as an essential step in the home buying process. By doing your homework you can become aware in advance of the potential pitfalls of buying a home so that you don’t make the same errors as you go through the process.

Certainly, most errors are avoidable with the right information. Here are a few tips on how to avoid making mistakes before closing.

Errors in Paperwork

While errors in documents can be as simple as a misspelled name or incorrect contact information, more serious problems, such as incorrect numbers on loan agreements can cause a delay. Therefore, it is extremely important that you look over each document carefully as it is submitted for processing. Even the smallest errors in the documentation of your real estate transaction could delay the process by days or hours because it all needs to be complete and ready before the closing.

If you want to avoid errors on paperwork, try asking for each document that you will be asked to sign in advance. By asking for documents early, you will have the opportunity to look them over and get assistance with any of the parts that you do not understand from your real estate agent or attorney.

If anything seems off or incorrect, bring it to the attention of your Realtor right away. You should also make sure that you obtain copies of all of the submitted documents so that you can ensure that the paperwork is error-free.

Not Checking the Title

There is always a risk there can be an unknown problem with the title for the home. Don’t wait until closing to find this out. If it is discovered that the are legal issues surrounding the sale of the home, such as a lawsuit or lien on the property, the sale will be delayed. Find out about these issues as early on as possible so that you can work with your real estate agent to resolve the problems before you are ready to close.

Getting a Cheap Inspection

A home inspection is one of the first tasks that you should probably take care of before you decide to make a serious offer on a home. However, many homebuyers make the mistake of trying to save money by hiring a cheap inspector. The cost of a home inspection is very low in comparison to the value that it provides. As a part of your strategy for determining if you have enough money to afford the home, you must make sure that your calculations were based on an accurate inspection for your home.

If you opted for a cheap inspection, it is probably a good idea to have a new inspection done by a reputable company before you make a final decision. A reputable home inspection service won’t offer the cheapest rates. However, you can rest assured that they will find all of the major defects in a home that should be known to you before you buy the home.

Not Paying Attention to Closing Costs

Closing costs are a mandatory feature of every mortgage loan that is issued. Many homebuyers make the mistake of not paying attention to these costs until the end of the process. As a result, these costs either end up being higher than they anticipated or are more than what they should have paid.

To avoid this, as a homebuyer, you should thoroughly review both the mortgage lender closing costs and third-party closing costs. Mortgage closing costs typically include:

  • fees for preparing documents
  • mortgage origination fees
  • underwriting fees

Third-party service closing costs may include:

  • costs for the appraisal
  • credit report costs
  • fees for tax services
  • title insurance

“Lenders often give their fees unique names which can make it difficult to compare specific loan costs between banks.” says Dan Green of themortgagereports.com. “This is why it’s better to compare total lender costs rather than any one specific line-item.”

There are things that you can do as a homebuyer to make sure that the closing costs that you pay are not higher than they need to be. The most important step is to make sure that you pick the right loans for your unique situation. A lending agent can guide you through the options that are available. You should then review the various options and make sure that you pay the appropriate number of discount points. Your closing agent can guide you through this process.

High-Quality Photography Tips for Online Home Listings

When you list your home for sale, you want to attract the best possible offers. High-quality photography can help your home get noticed.

When it comes to searching for homes online, buyers don’t want to waste time on properties that won’t meet their criteria. High-quality photography is an essential part of a successful online home listing that will help your house to stand out.

It is a proven fact that online home listings that have high-quality photos attract more interest from buyers than the listings that do not. Making a great first impression on homebuyers with online home listings is important. Online home listings are typically the first place that potential buyers search for homes.

Before deciding which open houses to attend or properties to inquire about, the majority of buyers will use online home listings to try to figure out what is wrong with a property. By ensuring that your listings have great photography, you won’t have to worry about your home being ignored by buyers online.

Here are some tips for taking great photos of your home for online home listings.

Stage Your Home

The first step to taking high-quality photos of your home involves staging your home. Your real estate agent will likely recommend tips on how to improve the look of your home for photography purposes. This may involve redoing the floors, painting the walls and changing the furniture in each room. You should also pay attention to the minor details, such as a vase of flowers for the living room or kitchen to make your home look inviting and welcoming.

After you have made improvements to the interior of the home, don’t forget about the exterior. Plant some new shrubs and flowers. Pull up the weeds and mow the lawn. Clean up any clutter that is around your home. Once these improvements have been made, you will be ready to start the process of taking photos of your home.

Invest in a Quality Camera

Photographers understand the benefits of investing in a high-quality camera. A better quality camera can capture the details of a home and can take high-resolution shots that take advantage of the natural light that is available.

”A cell-phone camera won’t cut it if you want quality shots, but top-of-the-line equipment isn’t a necessity either,” says Shannon Petrie of FrontDoor.com. “Any point-and-shoot digital camera with five megapixels or more will produce good photos. If you’re willing to fork over more cash, a digital SLR offers more settings and allows you to use a variety of lenses. A tripod is also a good investment for taking sharp photos.”

By getting the right equipment, you can ensure that you get the best shots the first time. Make sure to take lots of pictures so you can go back and edit them to find the best ones later on.

Use Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is important when you are photographing a home. Before you take photos of the interior of your home, make sure that you open up the windows to let as much natural light in as possible. Consider taking photos at different times of the day, in the morning or afternoon so that you can see how the light works best in photos of your home.

Using natural light not only makes it easier to capture all of the elements of your home, you will also give buyers a realistic view of what it would be like to live in your home. Natural lighting can really bring out the beautiful elements of a home and will allow them to shine.

Choose Angles Carefully

Angles are important when it comes to photography. “When photographing a room it almost always looks better if the shot is taken from the doorway looking into the room,” says Valorie L. Ford, Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty 0225179163. “Exterior pictures of single-family homes look better if shot from an angle instead of directly from the front. This allows viewers to see the depth of the home instead of a “flat” 2-dimensional view of the front.”

Start by taking photos of your home from different angles so that you can go back to compare the photos later to see which angles capture the essence of your home in the best possible way. You should also make sure that your photos exclude any objects that obstruct the view of the home. The main goal of every shot should always be to display the best elements of your home.

Hire a Professional

Your real estate agent will typically hire someone to handle the photography on your behalf. If you are unsure as to who will be photographing your home, check with your real estate agent. Some agents may choose to do the photographs themselves.

You can check the quality of the photography that the real estate agent produces by simply reviewing other home listings that are available on the agent’s website. If you choose to hire a photographer yourself, the costs may be around several hundred dollars. However, the benefits of working with an agent cannot be discounted.

Working with a professional will ensure that the photos are professionally edited using software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, to apply advanced photo-enhancing software techniques. Since your focus should be on doing all of the tasks that are required to sell your home, leaving the photography up to an expert can save you time and money.

Outdoor Landscaping Upgrades That Make Financial Sense

Outdoor landscaping upgrades are important if you are planning to sell your home. However, you want to make sure that you spend your landscaping budget wisely.

When you decide to sell your home, your real estate agent will likely advise you to upgrade the exterior of your home. An outdoor landscaping project is a great way to improve the curb appeal of your home. Understanding which upgrades add the most value to your home and will resonate with buyers will help you to select upgrades that make financial sense.

Landscaping projects can dramatically improve the look of your home. If you are planning upgrades in order to increase the value of your home, you must be more selective about the types of upgrades that you make.

You also want to make sure that the outdoor upgrades will appeal to a wide-range of buyers if you decide to sell your home at a later date. “Studies in Canada and the U.S. show that landscaping can add anywhere from 4% – 15% to the value of your home,” says Denis Flanagan, landscaping expert and Director of Public Relations for Landscape Ontario. “Improving your home’s curb appeal also increases the likelihood that potential buyers will come take a look at your property. People judge a home from the curb. Professional landscaping helps create a good first impression of your property, and it may even give you a (h)edge over the Joneses’.”

Pay attention to the upgrades that your neighbors have made. A landscaping project that looks out of place in your neighborhood may drag down the values of other homes in your neighborhood.

Here are suggested outdoor landscaping projects that make financial sense for you to pursue.

Structures

Structures, such as patios and footpaths, can be hit or miss when it comes to adding to a home’s value. Fortunately, there are many options for these types of investments so that you can find an option that is financially feasible. When you install structures as part of a landscaping upgrade, you must plan carefully to ensure that the structure does not take up too much of the outdoor landscape.

Most buyers want homes that offer plenty of greenery. By installing a patio that replaces too much of the yard with concrete or stone, you could actually lower the value of your home. You should pay close attention to the other homes in your area before making such additions to ensure that a new patio won’t detract from the value of your home relative to other homes in the area.

In addition, the structures should also match the architectural style of your home. By seeking out professional contractors, you can determine the exact costs that will be associated with the additions. You should also speak with your real estate agent to determine if such upgrades will actually add to the value of your home.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is one of the most prominent features of the exterior of a home. Outdoor lighting can raise the value of a home significantly because it also acts as a security system for the home. If you plan to install outdoor lighting, focus on highlighting the front of the home. You can also install lights near trees to add a dramatic look at nighttime.

However, you should choose lighting hues carefully. Soft-lighting in colors other than white works best so that the lighting doesn’t look harsh at nighttime. You can also use outdoor lighting to outline footpaths to maximize safety for guests when they visit your home.

Plant Trees

Planting trees not only helps to improve the value of your property. Trees are also healthy for the environment because they reduce CO2 levels. By planting trees so that they can provide shade to your home, you also help to save on your energy bills. However, not just any trees will do. You want to make sure that the trees that you plant on your property are young and healthy. This will ensure that they mature well and will not simply become an expensive removal task for the next homeowner.

Do Maintenance Work

Not all upgrades mean adding something to the property. In fact, in certain instances, you may want to remove something from your property. This is a wise decision, especially if the previous homeowners have ignored the landscaping maintenance aspects of the home. “First, eliminate all the obstructions created by plants, such as overgrown bushes blocking the windows or tree roots disrupting paved passages. Pay special attention to large, old trees that may present a hazard during a storm – some of them might have to go,” says Elena Meadowcroft, writer for realestate.com.

By doing maintenance work on your property, you can improve the curb appeal of your home. Homebuyers that are looking for homes in your area will likely prefer your well-maintained landscaped home over others in the area that offer less curb appeal once you have made the changes.

Planning

If the goal of your landscaping project is to increase the value of your home, it is essential that you plan ahead. Many homeowners make the mistake of doing landscaping projects gradually, which can result in an uncoordinated look after several years of impromptu projects.

Hiring a professional landscaping company can help you to plan better for future upgrades to the outdoor space around your home so that you don’t make such mistakes. At the end of the day, a landscaping project that adds the most value to a home is one that looks professionally done and offers an attractive look year-round.

How to Set Up an Open House for the Best Results

An open house event is an essential part of attracting buyers to your home. Figuring out how to set a successful open house can help you to get offers quickly.

Staging your home is only the first step to setting up a successful open house. There are many important aspects that you must take care of to get the best results from your open house. Here’s how you can set up an open house for the best results while working with your real estate agent.

An open house is a major event for any homeowner that is trying to sell. If you are considering hosting an open house for your home, you should work with your real estate agent closely to develop a plan. Open houses require careful planning to be successful. You may have to plan ahead to make sure that you, your family and your pets are out of the home during the time in which your home is being shown.

You may also be asked by your real estate agent to take other preparatory steps, including staging your home and removing your personal items. These tasks can require significant time. which is why it is so important to get organized and have a plan.

You should also expect that the open house will become the talk of the neighborhood and nosy neighbors may even come by to check it out. Hosting an open house is a lot of work, but at the end of the day you just might end up with great offers on your home as the results of working with your real estate agent to put on an open house.

Attract Prospective Buyers

Open houses are designed to attract potential buyers and are one of the top tools that real estate agents use to generate offers for your home. A well-planned open house that is organized and executed on schedule can help to guarantee a successful sale of your home.

“It’s a great tool to create a sense of urgency,” says broker-owner Martin Kalisker, e-PRO®. “It creates sort of a feeding frenzy. If your clients are interested and see that other people are interested too, it gets them off the fence.”

As you plan your open house, talk to your real estate agent and find out what you need to do to prepare. In some cases, you may simply be asked to leave the home while professional home stagers get it ready to be shown. If you are on a budget, your real estate agent may recommend that you do a thorough cleaning followed by the removal of your personal effects.

Don’t Forget About Signage

An open house is not only intended to showcase the home, the goal is to get serious inquiries from buyers. Your real estate agent will create flyers, brochures and other giveaways to buyers to keep them interested in your home and the agency after they leave.

Prominent signage is also important for advertising the open house to neighbors in the area. By creating the right signage, your real estate agent can help to attract plenty of interest in your home and will let others know that your home is available for sale so that the word spreads.

Create a Neutral Appearance

Home staging is all about the buyer. When buyers come to your home they want to envision themselves living in your home. Therefore, home staging that creates a neutral appearance is highly recommended for appealing to potential homebuyers. This can be done by painting the walls neutral colors and updating the furniture so that it is modern, yet minimal.

By creating a neutral appearance in your home, you can also increase the number of buyers that might be interested in making serious offers on your home. It is difficult to imagine that the your personal effects may turn-off a potential buyer from your home. However, the threat is there and you want to do everything possible to eliminate minute factors, such as the décor, that could potentially sway the opinion of a potential buyer.

Leave During the Open House

Leaving during an open house is standard practice. If you have selected a real estate agent to represent your property, you should have confidence that the real estate agent can sell your property to potential buyers.

“Very rarely does it work out for the buyers and sellers to meet in advance,” says Joan Pratt, real estate broker with RE/MAX Professionals in Castle Pines, Colo. And from a practical standpoint, “when buyers are walking through an open house, they want some anonymity. And with the homeowners there, they can’t speak freely. And they can’t speak to each other.”

Buyers are seldom interested in meeting the homeowner. By interfering in this delicate process, you could cause your home to lose potential buyers. You may also come across to your real estate agent as a difficult seller to work with, which is not something that works in your favor.

If you have concerns about buyers rifling through your personal things while you are away, talk with your real estate agent about how you can reduce this risk. By removing as many of your personal items from your home before putting your home on the market, you won’t have to worry about this at all.

When Should You Sell Your Home If You Are Planning to Move?

As a home seller, you might be unsure as to the best time to sell your home if you are planning a move. Deciding when to put your home on the market in advance can help you to plan your move more easily and can enable you to be successful in the sale of your old home.

If you are planning to move in order to rent or buy a new home and sell the old one, you have to be prepared to deal with a complicated situation that could take months to resolve. Working with a qualified real estate agent can help ease the burden of the process. However, it is also up to you to do the research in advance so that you know what you’ll be getting into.

There is no one perfect time to sell your home when you are planning to move. When you sell your home will depend on your own unique circumstances and financial situation. However, taking the time to consider selling your home in advance can help you to discover when the right time is to sell.

While you may think that you don’t need to contact a real estate agent until you are ready to make the move, contacting an agent at least several months before you make a decision to move is your best bet. A real estate agent can help you to work through the process of making your move possible. The first step is to start with research.

Start With Research

The first step of the process should be to research the local market conditions and gather as much data as possible on your own. By involving an agent, you can obtain guidance on whether the current market will allow you to sell at the true market value. In addition, an agent will also be able to guide you in creating a successful marketing plan for your home that is designed to help your home sell quickly.

Unless, there is a major factor that impacts the timing of the sale, such as debt, you should opt to sell your home at a time when favorable market conditions are available for the sale. Your real estate agent may actually recommend that you wait on the sale and rent out home instead in order to get the best possible returns on the sale of your home.

Consider Your Expenses

Determining how the money from the sale will be spent will play a major decision on when you should sell. As a person with significant debts or one that is looking for better options in another city, the timing of your sale can have a big impact on your future.

If you plan to buy a new home in a new area, work with a real estate agent in order to determine just how much money will be needed for a down payment on a new property. As a homeowner, you should really think carefully as to whether buying a new home is in your best interest. For retirees, this picture may depend significantly on your expenses and if you can afford to meet your obligations.

Jane Bryant Quinn of AARP suggests several options for retirees. “You can use part or all of it to buy another house or condo, with or without a mortgage. That pot of money is now tied up. You could tap it at some point in the future, by taking a home equity loan or reverse mortgage, but that probably isn’t your plan.” says Quinn. “Alternatively, you can put the proceeds into a mix of bank accounts and mutual funds and tap those savings and investments for rent.”

As advice for all home sellers, you should also plan for temporary housing in the event that your home sells quickly so that you have a place to go. If the selling market in your area is quite competitive, you may want to have your Realtor negotiate with the buyer in order to obtain a longer escrow. This option will give you more time to find a place to move to.

Rising Rents

If you are selling your home in order to rent, it is important to keep in mind that rental prices may be on the rise in your new desired location. If you want to ensure that you are not priced out of the market before you can sell your home and free up funds for rent, you should discuss your situation with a real estate agent.

Rising rents can also have the reverse impact and actually make it easier for you to sell your property. High rents mean that buyers may reconsider renting and instead want to move in home ownership. “Every time there’s an increase, it triggers the decision processes on whether [renters] should go into the market and buy. Getting more buyers into the market, especially first-timers, can help sellers feel more comfortable about their prospects. “It allows others to move up the chain in the market,” says Budge Huskey, president, and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Plan Carefully

Regardless of the manner in which you do it, selling a home when you are planning to move is stressful. However, working with a real estate agent to develop a solid plan that gives you months to prepare for the sale is the best way to ensure that you are not scrambling to get things in order when the time comes.

 

The Hidden Costs of Flipping Homes

With countless TV shows providing a glamorous look into the world of flipping homes, it’s no surprise that more and more people are showing interest in this portion of the real estate world. However, do the benefits of flipping a home outweigh the sometimes hidden costs that trip up novice flippers? To answer this question, here’s an in-depth look at the subject from some of the most knowledgeable members of the online realty community.

Embracing your entrepreneurial spirit and taking a stab at a spot in the world of real estate can be the start of something truly exciting. Unfortunately, getting in over your head by trying to flip a home that’s not worth the work can negate these good vibes and leave you taking a major financial hit if you’re not careful.

Ever wondered what it’s like to flip homes and chase the substantial profits that come with this approach? While there’s plenty of excitement and potential found within this system, there’s also just as much risk. Before you reach out to your realtor and start picking up real estate assets to add to your portfolio, take a moment to delve into this cost-benefit analysis of the home-flipping process.

What Exactly Constitutes Flipping a Home?

If you’re especially new to this concept, it’s important to lay the groundwork with a strong understanding of what goes into flipping homes. As Lisa Smith of Investopedia explains, the goal of house flipping is to purchase a home at a cost that’s below its market value, then turn around and sell this selection for a profit.

Made popular in the early 2000s, flipping houses has become a cultural phenomenon of sorts with large swathes of the Internet and TV shows turning this process into a media sensation. In some cases, home renovations and upgrades also enter the picture as a way to add value to the property and make it more enticing for potential buyers.

Understanding Where Flippers Fall Short

With this simple goal of getting more out of the home than what you put into it leading the way, flipping homes should be a pretty straightforward affair, right? Unfortunately, this dangerous line of thought has grounded the dreams of plenty of homebuyers before they ever even had a chance to get off the ground.

In their look at the hidden costs and shortcomings of new house-flippers, ABC News’ Kinga Janik and Lauren Effron point out there are a few recurring themes that continue to plague these members of the real estate community. At the top of the list is failing to get the home inspected.

By skipping the part of the process where an expert comes in and gives the home a thorough review, you open yourself up to a variety of unexpected risk and potential expense. This in turn makes staying on budget unnecessarily difficult. Additionally, failing to get the right permits and licenses to fix up these issues continues the theme of getting tripped up by home-flipping paperwork and can easily put you in hot water with your local government.

From a bigger picture perspective, failing to research the neighborhood and the contractors who handle the necessary renovations and upgrades also serves as a stumbling point for many flippers. It might not seem like that big of a deal initially, but ending up with a property that’s otherwise fine – but ultimately undesirable thanks to a rough neighborhood – or a contractor who takes the money and run, constitutes a catastrophic failure that could have been avoided with a little research and foresight.

Is It Still worth the Risk?

At this point, it’s safe to say that flipping homes is, in fact, a risky proposition for the uninitiated. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth considering if you understand what it takes to be successful. As the team over at First Bank note, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort needed to flip a home the right way, you can expect to be handsomely rewarded for your hard work.

Successfully flipped homes serve as an excellent source of revenue – from both a short and long-term perspective. If you’re able to stay on budget, selling a renovated home can net a substantial one-time gain at closing. For those that are open to the idea of renting out the home, this property can serve as a steady stream of income that continues to pay you back for taking on the upfront costs and risks that come with flipping properties.

Outside of the financial boons that come with this process, these experts also point out that flipping homes can be a rewarding and enriching endeavor. Whether you’re a new retiree who wants to try something different or an energetic, “hands-on” type of person who’s looking for a new challenge, seeing this home transform into a valuable asset provides a sense of achievement that only comes from working hard toward – and capturing – a lofty goal.

Building a Winning Strategy

Now that you understand that flipping homes does come with a series of costs and concerns that might not always be readily apparent, but that the process can be rewarding on many levels, it’s time to talk about how you can build a winning strategy. According to William Bronchick, J.D., of the investing news source CRE Online, it all starts with properly evaluating the situation in front of you.

Is it better to flip the home in question “as is,” or should you renovate and upgrade the property before putting it out on the market? Securing the help of a real estate agent who understands the nuances of the local real estate community can help make these and other vital questions far more manageable as you acclimate yourself to the home-flipping scene.

From here, connecting with licensed and bonded contractors ensures that you steer clear of illegal practices and scams. Aside from keeping you on the straight and narrow, building these relationships now could set you up for more favorable arrangements and reduced pricing down the road; something that’s definitely worthwhile if you intend to regularly flip homes on a budget.

By putting everything you’ve learned here to good use, there’s nothing that can stand in your way as you begin to evaluate and purchase “flip worthy” homes. All that’s left now is to get out in your community or connect with your agent and start looking for the next great real estate opportunity in your area.

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Putting Safety First During a Home Sale

Selling or buying a home is an exciting, nerve-wracking, and important time, all rolled into one. Unfortunately, too many members of the marketplace end up making this event more stressful by failing to give safe practices their due. In an effort to keep you firmly out of this category, let’s reach out to some leading experts from around the real estate market and hear what they have to say about keeping everyone involved in a sale safe and secure.

Does something seem too good to be true with a potential new home? Is the other person involved in the process acting oddly? While these questions might seem over-the-top at first glance, the truth of the matter is that you can never be too cautious when dealing with others during the sale or purchase of a home.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re ready to go see an available home or entertain a potential buyer at your house. While there’s usually nothing to worry about when it comes to dealing with other people, you can never do too much to avoid interacting with the small minority of the population that doesn’t have your best interests at heart. With this in mind, here are some essential tips and considerations that can help keep you and your family protected during this pivotal point in your lives.

Meet and Greet in a Public Place

At the top of the list of safety tips to consider when heading into a sale, according to the Police Department of Criminal Prevention in Mesa, Arizona, is meeting and greeting with the other parties in a public place. Whether this means reaching out to your realtor in his or her office, or meeting with a buyer or seller at an agreed upon open location, sticking to areas that are full of other people and activity is a great way to avoid finding yourself in an unsavory or potentially harmful situation.

Once you’ve met up with the other parties involved, don’t hesitate to perform a “check-up from the neck up.” Aside from serving as a funny saying, this concept represents the notion that if something doesn’t seem right with the person you’re working with, don’t be afraid to call off the viewing of the home. Your instincts are an invaluable asset, so listening to them and avoiding a situation that just doesn’t feel safe is perfectly acceptable when it comes to dealing with strangers.

Leave a “Paper Trail”

In addition to strategically planning out your initial meetings with others, it’s also a good idea to leave a paper trail whenever you’re heading out to browse through home listings. Offering up a schedule or agenda to friends and family members, as well as carrying multiple forms of identification, ensures that at least one person knows where you are at all times in case something goes wrong.

If you really want to go the extra mile on this front as the seller of a property, requesting that any interested parties in your home have preapproval from a lending agency helps keep these viewers relegated to only the most serious of potential buyers.

Take Time to Assess the Situation

As far as searching for a new home goes, Lew Sichelman of the Los Angeles Times suggests spending a few minutes to assess the situation before rushing in headfirst. Exciting though it make be to explore a new home, dealing with all of the unknowns that come with this process naturally carries a certain amount of risk.

For instance, if you’re looking to purchase an abandoned or vacant home, structural damage, squatters, wild animals, and a variety of other issues could pose a threat to you and anyone else who joins you on this trip. While the odds of dealing with these problems are far less likely in a traditional home-purchasing situation, it still never hurts to spend a few moments assessing the situation for any safety risks or hazards.

Never Travel Alone

Speaking of heading out to view available properties, it’s also a good idea to bring along a friend, family member, or your trusted realtor when setting out on this path. Having a second set of eyes and ears available to you during this time can ensure that you properly audit the situation for any potential threats or concerns. Additionally, having someone else with you during this time can serve as a strong deterrent for any illicit or underhanded tactics committed by less than savory individuals.

Protect Your Home During a Showing

For those of you who aren’t looking to buy a home, but rather sell your current property, the experts over at the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor magazine point out that there’s still plenty of concerns worthy of consideration before you rush into entertaining strangers in your home. Specifically, the open house and home-showing portions of the process stand out as major areas of concern.

Having unknown individuals in your home is always a risk, but participating in an event like an open house exacerbates the issue. To help safeguard your property, always lock away “high interest” items – like jewelry and electronics – before a viewing. This process takes just a few minutes and makes a world of difference when dealing with large groups of people.

In terms of handling visitors, a good rule of thumb is to always stick to a schedule. Much like the paper trail discussed earlier, only entertaining visitors who set an appointment to see your home ensures that unexpected “drop-ins” don’t become an issue.

Keeping Your Head on Straight

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that you can do to completely erase the risks that come with interacting with strangers during the buying and selling of a home. It’s an issue that plagues any industry built upon connecting with others – not just the real estate world. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of options for protecting and safeguarding yourself during these times.

By putting what you’ve learned here to good use – including partnering up for home visits and stowing away your valuables during an open house – and remaining vigilant throughout the process, there’s no reason that you and your family can’t find an outcome that’s just right for your needs.

 

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