5 Tips to Modernize Your Home’s Outdated Bathroom

How many times a day do you find yourself in your home’s bathroom? A home’s bathroom sees some heavy traffic, and any prospective buyer will want to take a look at what it has to offer them. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that you dress up your bathroom just as you would any other room of your house for a buyer visit – and dress it up the right way. An attractive bathroom needs modern style and amenities, and you can install them to really wow your buyers.

A Modern Take on Your Walls and Floors

Tiles are all but a necessity in your bathroom, as there are few other flooring and wall options that handle the heat and humidity of your bathroom better. However, plain tiles in ugly colors will do nothing to impress. Take a page from today’s hot interior design trends, and check out the options available to you. Arty geometric patterns are all the rage in every area of interior style and can have a bold and elegant impact in your bathroom. Classic whites will always have a place in bathroom color-picking, but think outside the box: try metallic chromes or grays, bold blacks, or add a splash of color. Wine reds and nautical blues are both excellent complements to blacks and whites, respectively, and will add visual interest and modern taste to your bathroom, without losing any classic flair.

Shedding Light on Your Situation

Good lighting is an essential part of any room, and you can modernize your bathroom easily by simply updating the light fixtures. Consider the style you’d like your bathroom to show off, and adjust your lighting accordingly. Modern, sleek, and chic bathrooms benefit from strong lighting and sleek, minimalistic fixtures, but be sure that the glare isn’t painful. A more romantic style can call for softer lighting and more elaborate fixtures. The addition of stylish mirrors can not only accentuate your lighting’s effects but can also make the room seem larger.

Cabinets, Storage, and More

Bathroom cabinets don’t have to exist as an afterthought to the rest of the room – indeed, they can be what really pulls together the overall aesthetic. Your bathroom countertop is a perfect canvas to add a splash of pattern and color to an otherwise minimalist room or act as a sleek anchor in a room that pops with geometric design. Storage cabinets can be accented with attractive handles and, above all, no smart buyer can ever say no to loads of storage and counter space. Get creative with adding unique storage to the room, and you’ll be able to expand your bathroom’s utility and space astronomically. The addition of storage to a standing shower area is both shrewd and convenient, and wall storage units can be a solid way to clear off bathroom counter space.

The Modern Way to Clean

Your shower and tub are the centerpieces of your bathroom, and if you’re looking to sell your home, bringing them into the modern age is a great way to up the wow factor for prospective buyers. While the traditional bathtub still has its devoted fans, standing showers are easily the biggest trend in bathroom design today. Removing your tub for a standing shower will greatly expand your bathroom to the eye, and the accessibility and ease of cleaning that a standing shower grants is a huge plus for seniors and those with disabilities. The addition of seating in your standing shower can increase this accessibility for anyone who steps in. Standing showers are an undeniably great canvas for artistic interior design, and can make or break your bathroom’s aesthetic. More rustic rooms can benefit from cobblestone walls, while chic rooms are all about sleek smoothness.

However, the simple bathtub is hard to give up for many buyers, even withstanding showers’ trendy looks and convenience. Modernize your bath by taking it out of the wall, and replacing it with a stylized ceramic standing tub. It’s a great conversation piece for the room and is sure to please any bathtub fan. If your bathroom has the floor space, you may want to consider splitting the difference: a standing shower and standing tub combo, or the real favorite, a standing shower, and Jacuzzi combo.

It’s not just about showers versus tubs when it comes to this part of bathroom design: pay attention to other convenience features that can wow buyers. Removable showerheads and attachments make cleaning easy, and the addition of low lighting to your shower can make for a relaxing, romantic atmosphere – just make sure that the lighting is certified for wet and damp environments. For your hardware selection, stainless steel will always have a place in the bathroom design world. However, if you want cutting-edge style, try chrome or brass work.

Saving the Planet, One Eco-Friendly Toilet at a Time

Eco-friendly bathroom appliances are designed to lower a homeowner’s resource consumption by requiring less water and less electricity to use. Not only are they an earth-friendly way to go about your daily life, they also will save you big on your water and electric utility bills, and come with rebates from government programs: making them a very attractive buy for any homeowner, even those that couldn’t care less about the push for green appliances. Water-friendly showers, sinks, and toilets are available from any local home improvement store, and a switch to LED lights is as simple as changing the bulbs. Installation is simple, and can often be at least partially covered by the aforementioned government rebates. You’ll be able to sell your home on its green merits, as well as its newly economical bent.

A modern, updated bathroom is an excellent addition to any home and can charm buyers the moment they set eyes upon it. Even the simplest bathroom improvement project can provide huge results in a buyer’s eyes and can help your home sell for more, faster. Consider what kind of updates your bathroom needs to get with the times, and go forth to get it up to speed.

How to Sell Your Home When You Have Pets

Selling a home as a pet-owner is not difficult if you eliminate evidence of the pets in the home. A thorough cleaning job is a good start.

Some people don’t like living in the homes of pet-owners because of the stereotype that pet-owners keep messy homes. However, with a thorough cleaning and some careful planning, you can make it seem as though your pets never lived there and avoid losing this segment of potential buyers.

If you want potential buyers to get excited about living in your home, make sure that you remove all evidence of a pet as you prepare to sell your home. By doing so, you can also avoid having to answer questions about whether there are any pets in the home.

Selling your home can be a stressful time for both you and your pets. By taking the initiative to remove the pets and the evidence from your home, you can attract a wider range of buyers.

Start with a Deep Cleaning

If you have pets in your home, a deep cleaning must be performed to remove all evidence of the pets. Some of the areas to concentrate on include:

  • carpets
  • tile and grout
  • floors
  • walls

Have the carpets and tile steam cleaned to get rid of stains and smells that may have settled in. Vacuum thoroughly to get rid of the dander and make sure that there is no dander hiding in corners, as potential buyers will notice. You should replace the flooring in your home if it has become stained or smells. While you might be used to the smell, this is something that buyers will instantly notice which will turn them off.

“Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our emotions, our memory and on our perception of things. An initial odor on entering a house is sure to stick in the buyer’s mind, and he or she will likely deduct the cost of carpet replacement immediately from an offer as a result,” says Bill Gassett of RE/MAX Executive Realty. “A strong odor is, in fact, one of the top reasons a buyer will pass on a home.”

When you have pets, a thorough cleaning is likely one of the most crucial aspects of getting your home ready for sale. If you are not sure how to rid your home of the odors of having a pet, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take on the job.

Take Your Pets Out During Open Houses

“The last thing you want is to attract the perfect buyer, one in love with your house, who also happens to be highly fearful dogs, snakes, or other critters. In cases like this, if your pet is still in the home, that perfect buyer may not get much further than the front porch,” says Michael Corbett, real estate and lifestyle expert at Trulia.

The truth is that not everyone loves pets. If your pets are around during open houses, you could also be opening yourself up to liabilities. Not all home insurance policies cover pet bites or injuries. Before hosting an open house, check to see if your home insurance policy covers this. If it does not, make sure that your pet is not around when strangers come into your home.

Eliminate Evidence of the Pet

In addition to making your home smell free and damage free, you also want to make sure that you eliminate all evidence of the pet. Start by putting away pet accessories and photos that feature the pet. Many pet owners allow their pets to hang out in the yard. If you have a dog or other animal that enjoys outdoor play or lives in the yard, make sure that you patch up any holes in the lawn and fix any other damage caused by the pet.

Most potential buyers are not interested in your personal effects because they want to envision themselves living in your home. Homebuyers see pet accessories, photos, and other items as a reflection of the homeowner. You can also expect that a potential buyer will ask you to foot the bill for repairs to the landscaping that the pet has damaged.

Consider Sending Your Pet Away While You Try to Sell

While it may be hard not to have your best friend around, taking your pet out of the home while you are trying to sell will give you peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about whether the pet will attack or bother visitors and you also won’t have to worry about smells and messes.

You also want your pet to be safe without the worry of the pet escaping or getting into trouble while you are distracted by other activities. Having your pet out of the home may also be less stressful for the pet, which is good for the both of you.

If you are not sure whether it will be safe for the pet to stay in your home during the selling period, speak with your veterinarian. Certain types of pets may experience stress when they are exposed to conditions that are unfamiliar to them, such as strangers entering the home. If you want your pets to stay happy and healthy, consider sending them away.

Clean Regularly While Your Home Is on the Market

If you are unable to send your pet on a “vacation” while you attempt to sell your home, you must clean regularly while your home is on the market. Think of each open house or buyer appointment as a new start to selling your home. If you want buyers to see your home in the best light possible, your home must be flawlessly clean and free of personal effects every time someone comes to view your home.

By making your pet-friendly home accessible to everyone, you can assure that the offers that you receive on your home won’t only be limited to people that love pets.

A Brief Guide to Getting Rid of a Bad Tenant

As a landlord, you have a choice: deal with a bad tenant or get the tenant off your property. If you have decided, that getting rid of the tenant is the right decision, you need to develop a game plan.

When you decide that you’ve had enough of dealing with a bad tenant, it is important to come up with a plan for removing the tenant from your property. By creating a plan in advance, you can ensure that everything is done by the book so that your actions will not be challenged in court during an eviction case. As laws can vary from state to state, evicting a bad tenant can involve a lengthy process.

You have two options whenever you have a bad tenant living on your property. You can either decide to put up with the tenant’s behavior or choose to have the tenant removed from your property. As a landlord, you are obligated to follow the laws of your state with regards to removing a tenant from your property.

Talk to the Tenant

If the issue is not serious enough to warrant immediate eviction from the property, then talking to the tenant might help to yield the results that you are looking for. Instead of sending threatening notices, start by trying to explain the terms that you need the tenant to abide by in order for the tenant to stay and offer the tenant the option to leave on his own.

“While it might sound mean, being as strict as possible will ensure that the rules are followed and actually create a better relationship between you and your tenant. It comes down to the question, Is it better to be feared or loved? In the case of landlording: it is better to be feared.” says Brandon Turner, Senior Editor & Community Manager of BiggerPockets.com.

Ask the Tenant to Leave

If you want results immediately, you can start by simply asking the tenant to leave. While the tenant may not opt to leave until the lease ends, there is a possibility that the tenant is also unhappy with the living situation and will leave when asked. However, for more serious situations that could jeopardize your safety by dealing with the tenant, it might be a better idea to leave the decision up to the courts.

Notify the tenant that you will file an eviction lawsuit if the matter is not resolved. Most tenants do not want to go through process of an eviction because it can ruin the person’s credit score and make it nearly impossible to get a loan for years.

Keep Records

As you deal with a bad or problematic tenant, it is important that you keep records of all interactions with that particular tenant. This includes keeping copies of notices that were sent to the tenant, tracking phone calls and email correspondence and taking photographs of any damages that have occurred to the property.

By keeping records of the tenant-landlord interactions, you will make it easier for an attorney to build a case against the tenant. In addition, any contracts regard the rental terms should always be put in writing before the tenant moves in so that there are no disagreements regarding the terms of the lease.

Pursue Legal Action

If the problems are resulting from illegal activities being performed by the tenant on the property or issues related to non-payment, pursuing legal action is typically the best remedy. You can hire an attorney to assist you with preparing an eviction case against the tenant. If you opt to pursue legal action against a tenant, it is important to make sure that all of the rules in your state are followed so that the eviction goes smoothly.

“If your lease agreement wasn’t been based off of the state laws, or if you’re unsure, you’ll want to spend some time researching your current situation, and see if you can win an eviction case.” says Marcela De Vivo of Cozy. “The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) provides a more detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. At least 21 states have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for their state-specific landlord-tenant laws.”

By leaving the matter entirely up to the courts, you can ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that could jeopardize the outcome.

As you initiate the eviction process for a tenant, it is important to avoid doing any of the following:

  • Removing the tenant’s property from the residence;
  • Physically removing the tenant from the property;
  • Harassing the tenant in an effort to make him or her leave (i.e. loud music at nighttime);
  • Changing the locks or shutting off the utilities.

Any of these actions could be construed by a court of law as a “self-help” eviction which is illegal in all states. By avoiding such actions, you can avoid having the judge rule against you on the case for failing to abide by the law.

Acting as a landlord for a property can be a stressful and demanding job. Dealing with bad tenants only makes it worse. By coming up with a plan to deal with bad tenants in advance, you can cut down the amount of time it takes to get rid of one. In addition, considering all of these points can also help you to create a better screening process for potential tenants so that you can dodge potential problem applicants.

Why It’s Hard to Sell Your Home on Your Own

As you prepare to sell your home, you might think that working with a Realtor only means additional fees and costs. However, you might be surprised to learn just how difficult it is to sell a home without professional assistance.

Selling your home is likely to be one of the most expensive and time-consuming decisions that you’ll have to make in your life. Therefore, it is essential that you have a realistic picture of the sales process before you dive into it. Here are some reasons why it’s hard to sell your home on your own.

If you are unsure as to whether you should work with a real estate agent in order to sell your home, you will likely have a better shot at getting the buyer offers that you are looking for if you use an agent. In addition, as a first-time seller, you likely do not have the experience and insight to obtain the best deal.

These are major reasons why working with an agent offers such advantage. However, are there actually any tangible downsides to selling your home on your own? That fact is that, opting not use an agent can have serious consequences.

Buyer Agents May Not Be Interested

Not working with a real estate agent can severely limit the amount of interest that buyers have in your home. You may find that even if you are receiving inquiries from buyers, they are making low ball offers. This is because that the perception among home buyers is that For Sale by Owner (FSBO) properties are at the bottom of the barrel.

“There are only two reasons why I show a FSBO: There is no other inventory available or the price is ridiculously low,” says Bruce Ailion, a realtor with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. “Every experienced broker has been burned by a FSBO transaction where the seller did not pay the full commission, or any commission at all, to the agent who brought the buyer,” he says. In addition, he says, “FSBO sellers are viewed as unrealistic, unreasonable and difficult sellers whom professional realtors have rejected.”

No Access to Real Estate Networks

Unless you have personal access to a network of brokers and buyers in your area, your reach as a seller is highly unlikely to exceed that of a qualified real estate agency. Most real estate agents have spent years developing partnerships. Many real estate agents have thousands of contacts that they can quickly call on to help spread the word quickly when a home is available for sale.

In addition, even if you decide to list your home for sale on popular real estate websites, you are missing out on the personal connections that a real estate agent can bring to your case that will help to sway a buyer in your direction. If you don’t have access to a network of professionals that can help sell your home, trying to sell on your own will likely result in failure or less than stellar results from the sale.

Selling Is Hard

Part of the selling process involves showing your home to prospective buyers. You also have to follow-up with these buyers once they leave in order to determine if they are interested in your property. If you have little to no experience in selling real estate, it will be very difficult for you to determine who actually is a prospective buyer from the time-wasters. Spending time on the wrong prospects can mean missed opportunities for offers.

In addition, how will you know if you priced your home correctly to begin with? “To sell FSBO, you will have to continually monitor the new listings, prices, and sales of all homes in your neighborhood. If you need a quick sale, be prepared to drop your price,” says Lisa Abrams, an agent with Re/Max Realty Services in Bethesda. Most homeowners that opt to do FSBO owner end up having to lower prices in order to get interest from buyers.

If you don’t want to worry about having to actually sell your home, leave the job to a real estate agent. Selling a home is typically a full-time job in itself and you may or may not be successful. You also don’t want to have to devote all of your free time to trying to learn real estate when you likely have other obligations to take care of.

Legal Liabilities

Since selling a home is essentially a complex legal process, you don’t want to open yourself up to liabilities by trying to sell on your own. As a seller, it can be difficult to keep track of deadlines and ensure that you have completed the right paperwork. Local regulations can change from year to year and it is the job of a qualified real estate agent to stay on top of these updates.

Unless you are a lawyer, understanding complex legal documents is time-consuming. In addition, overlooking something that may seem minor to you could cause a major legal headache somewhere down the road that could delay the sale of your home.

Regardless of whether you decide to sell your home on your own or via a real estate agent, you must consider if the choice that you make will result in a successful sale. While using a real estate agent does not guarantee that you will get the best outcome, you can greatly improve your odds by doing thorough research before hiring a Realtor. You can also use your experience with a Realtor to get acquainted with the process of real estate and to find a reliable partner for future home sales and purchases.

House Hunting Calls for Level-Headedness

If you’ve been house hunting for the home you know is out there—the one that will fit your needs, is situated in a suitable neighborhood, and fits your budget—when you home in on a likely candidate, try not to fall in love with it (at least not right away). House hunting is a nesting exercise: part logic, part emotion. Nothing will change that. But problems can result when emotions take over early on in the process. It’s human nature to rush past what seem to be pesky little details as you near the finish line. If, later, “pesky” turns into “horrendous,” it can usually be traced to a rush to judgment born of emotion. The most productive attitude is one of patience—energized by optimism but tempered with cool judgment. When you have faith that you will find what you’ve been house hunting for, persistence comes easily.

One basic house hunting tip has to do with your original checklist. You certainly start out with a list of what your minimum requirements must be, but if you don’t keep that basic list close at hand, you are apt to fall in love with a place that’s missing one or two vital elements. If your dream house lacks something you set out thinking of as a necessity, you’ll be much more satisfied in the end if you at least consciously decide early on that the other wonderful features make the sacrifice worth the tradeoff.

The second tip category deals with maintenance…and upgrades…and décor changes…and the like. It’s about the realistic cost you are going to pay for necessary changes to will bring the property into line with your tastes and requirements. Being realistic about the amount of effort and budget that will be required is hard to do when you are already head-over-heels with the place—but it needs to be done realistically. The bottom line for your new digs will include changes you know you’ll be making, so estimating those costs is integral to developing a levelheaded negotiating position.

The third house hunting tip is really the most hard-headed financial factor. If the home you’re falling in love with satisfies this one, go ahead and fall—this isn’t puppy love: it looks like the real thing! This tip is sort of a romance killer (it’s like a prenup). After you’re pretty sure the property is what you’ve been looking for, stop and seriously consider what it’s resale value will be in a few years. Of course, you’re not going to sell your dream house anytime soon—but one day you may want to do so. Will the property’s construction stand up to Father Time? Does the neighborhood look like it, too, will retain its charm (or even better, improve with the years)? And are the fine points of the house the kind that have wide appeal—and not just peculiar to the sellers (and you)?

House hunting can be fun; it can be stressful; it can be (and usually is) both. But it is a terrifically valuable use of your time. The goal is to emerge from the process with the home that will be a pleasure to come home to for many years to come. All the better when it produces an investment that creates value as those years pass. It’s my job to assist my clients in making the most of every house hunting hour. I hope you’ll call me so we can get started!

Preparing Your Family for Your Big Move, Without the Stress

Moving is hard enough when you’re on your own, but as you factor in more and more variables, things can rapidly spiral out of control. Children, pets, your spouse; all of them will have opinions, emotions, and stress associated with the move that you have to address. When moving to a new area with your family, you will need to take the time to ensure that everyone is prepared and involved with the effort to ensure that stress remains low, and feelings remain unhurt.

Moving with Children

Planning a move with a child can be the most complicated – and often, most stressful – item on your moving list. Emotions will always run high, and there’s no blanket all ages how-to. A toddler will handle a change differently than a baby, a grade schooler differently than a toddler, and a teen differently than all of them. Moreover, it varies on a person-by-person level. Some children will handle the change better or worse than others: your teen may be singularly unaffected by the change, while your grade-schooler may feel like it’s the end of the world.

Your children’s feelings are valid, so treat them with the respect they deserve. Whether they react with anger, tears, or joy – you should accept these emotions as they are, even if you’re negative. Tell them about the move as early as possible (they should be among the first you tell about the move, and you should tell them as such) and give them details on a level they can understand. For example, you can tell them that you’ve been promoted and must move for the position, but don’t confuse or overwhelm them with the irrelevant office politics that came with the decision. Let them be involved in the moving process if they’re able, and keep them updated every step of the way. If possible, take a weekend trip to see your new home and help your children familiarize themselves with the house, their new schools, and local fun spots. If the move is too far away, have a local friend or family member, or even your real estate agent, take some photos. Don’t forget the tech age we live in: Even a simple smartphone can help give your family a live tour from a thousand miles away.

Be firm, and explain that the move is happening for a reason – and no amount of yelling or begging will be able to change that. While you can and should make the effort to help your children keep a connection with their old home if they so desire, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Allowing them to keep in contact with friends, family, and beloved teachers through social media and Skype is simple and safe. Making promises that you’ll go back to visit regularly, or hinting that the move is only temporary – if these promises aren’t absolutely something you’re determined to make happen, even breathing a word of them to your children is a recipe for disaster.

Moving Day with Furry Friends

Pets pose their own problems when it comes time for a move. While they may not hurl dramatic screeds at you across the kitchen table as an upset tween might, they can’t be reassured with a heart-to-heart talk – that language barrier is something awful. Pets can have just as many emotional and psychological ties to your old home as any other member of your household, and as such, they must be taken into consideration when planning your move.

Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, and as such, you should expect behavioral hiccups when you’ve moved to your new home. Cats may hide under the bed all day, dogs may have accidents in the house – you have to expect this behavior, and not stress your pets further by getting angry or reprimanding them for it. Consider making arrangements to introduce your pets to the new home after all the dust has settled. Having them temporarily room with local friends or family members until the house is unpacked fully is not only a good way to help your pets settle at the sight and smell of familiar furniture, but will also keep them from being underfoot while you’re hauling and unpacking boxes.

Make the appropriate health and wellness arrangements for your pets before you touch down in your new home. Having an appropriate vet already lined up is essential at a time when your pets may be encountering a great deal of stress that can potentially influence their health, so do your research and interview veterinary hospitals online and over the phone before you’re out of your old home.

Keeping Your Partner in the Loop

Home buyers with partners or spouses often neglect the importance of considering their reactions to a move. Sure, you’re both adults, and at least nominally have a mature way to cope with change. Many moves happen due to one partner’s job opportunities or transfers, and while these often can’t be avoided, they force the other partner to give up their job, their friends, their families, and all the local amenities they’ve become accustomed to. So, while one partner enjoys their new position, the other is stuck job-hunting while alienated from their previous life. This situation can breed great resentment in a relationship if not handled properly, which will only cause further stress and strife for children, pets, and all others involved.

If your partner expresses hesitations, trepidations, or resentment toward the move, listen to them and do all that is in your power to help them through the issues they bring up. They’re your equal in the household, are not to be treated like your children – they can, and absolutely should, be your partner in deciding all the aspects of the move and choosing your new home. Help them in their job hunts and accompany them in exploring your new town. Volunteer and hobby organizations can help you make some local friends, and the move itself presents a peerless opportunity for your spouse if they wish to further their education at a local university or community college. Remember: not considering your partner’s needs just as you would other members of your household will send the message that you don’t value them.

What to Do in the Months Before You Put Your Home on the Market

Selling a home is a complicated process that requires planning in order to be a success. Know what you are getting into before you get started.

You’ve decided to sell your home. However, you are not quite ready to put it on the market. Selling a home is a complicated process that requires a concerted effort. Have you done everything that is needed to enable a smooth process for selling your home?

Before you call a Realtor, there is some prep work that needs to be done. Your Realtor’s job is to help you sell your home. Therefore, in order to allow your Realtor to focus on this important task, you must make sure that everything is in order.

As a homeowner, you may want to leave everything up to your real estate agent. However, if you want the process to move at a faster pace, it is important that you get involved.

Find Important Documents

The first step to getting ready to sell your home is to find the paperwork that will be needed as a part of the sales process. You should make sure that you have the following documents on hand:

  • operating manuals for appliances;
  • warranty information on items that will stay behind in the house;
  • key documents in regards to the title, survey, mortgage and insurance on the property.

As you search for these documents, you may find that you need to order copies from local agencies or update the information on these documents. Take care of these issues well in advance so that you don’t have to waste time on this once you contact a real estate agent.

Obtain Estimates

The next step is to obtain estimates for repairing old, worn out items in your home. Pick items that buyers are likely to be concerned about (such as old appliances or worn out furniture). By obtaining estimates, you can gain traction during the process of negotiations later on in the selling process.

There is a high likelihood that if a home has clear issues that need to be addressed, a buyer will likely want to factor those issues into the terms regarding the purchase of the home. In order to avoid ending up in a situation where the buyer is the only person with estimates regarding repairs, obtain your own estimates in advance.

Clean Your Home

Cleaning your home is an absolute must before you have a Realtor come take a look at the property. If you want the Realtor to get a realistic impression of your home, he or she can not do that while there is junk piled everywhere.

Cleaning your home to get it ready for sale means that you should make major changes. This includes packing up the personal effects that are currently lying about your home. You should also make sure that you pay attention to commonly neglected areas such as attics or garages. You should wash the windows and the exterior of the home if they haven’t been cleaned in years.

“Your agent will want to hold a couple of open houses as soon as possible, which is why you shouldn’t list your house until it’s ready for showing. This means you’ll probably be swamped with last-minute touch-ups and clean-ups to get the house ready,” says Rick Hazeltine of Realtor.com.

In addition, a home that has not been cleaned is unlikely to attract many buyers unless the price is a serious low ball offer. Therefore, if you want to make the best first impression on a real estate agent, cleaning your home is important. In addition, a thorough cleaning initially can make it easier to keep up with the routine chores once the sales process is underway.

Arrange for a Pre-sale Home Inspection

Failing to arrange for a pre-sale home inspection is one of the most common mistakes that first-time sellers make. A pre-sale home inspection can allow you to obtain insight into the trouble areas of your home that will immediately attract the attention of buyers. By performing a pre-sale home inspection, you will have the opportunity to make repairs to the home before the sales process begins.

Once you have addressed all of these issues, it is time to start searching for an agent. Look for an agent by using referral from family members, friends and colleagues.

“Having an experienced agent represent you is critically important; especially with the online shift that is occurring in the real estate industry. Marketing a home has become sophisticated and it requires a skilled, professional marketing strategy. A good real estate agent can identify the notable features of your home which will help you maximize the way you showcase those features,” says Monte Mohr of tenneseedreamhomes.com.

Get Recommendations

After you have taken the initial steps to find a Realtor, get recommendations from the agents that you interview in order to determine what changes you should make to your home. A real estate agent might suggest renovations or minor fixes that could improve the appeal of your home. You should work with a real estate agent whose advice you trust and is someone that has demonstrated experience with top-producing sales numbers.

Selling your property does not have to be stressful if you take the time to prepare. By learning what to do in the months before you put your home on the market, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that are common among inexperienced home sellers. In addition, you will also make the process of selling your home faster and easier for your real estate agent.

How to Handle Damage to Your Home If You Are Trying to Sell

If your home has suffered damage, you may still be considering selling. Depending on the amount of damage and your decisions regarding the repairs, there may still be a possibility of a successful sale.

You may think that it is hopeless trying to sell your home after it has suffered damage. However, the truth is that your home may not actually be as worthless as you think. Depending on the type of damage and repairs that are required, you could find that you can still profit from the sale of a damaged home.

Whenever accidents or natural disasters occur, homeowners face the question of whether to rebuild themselves or move on from the property. In some instances, the homeowner may decide to sell the property. However, if your home has suffered damage and you are considering selling, you must be aware of the fact that damaged homes come with different sets of rules.

While what you decide to do will mostly depend on the level of damage to your home and your financial situation, you do have leverage when it comes to dealing with buyers. Here are a few tips to help you handle damage to your home if you are trying to sell.

Call the Insurance Company

If there is a policy on the home, the first step should be to call the insurance company. The insurance company may cover the cost of repairs on the home. In addition, you may get enough money to get the house in better shape in order to get it ready for sale and to make a profit on the sale.

Buyers Will Ask for Credits

The first thing that you should be aware of as a homeowner that is trying to sell, is that buyers will ask for credits for repairs that need to be performed. This is especially true if there is structural damage to the home. While the buyer may appreciate your attempts to repair the property, he or she will still likely incur some maintenance or inspection costs that are the result of the property previously being damaged.

This is why it is important to work closely with your real estate agent as you list your property to come up with a pricing strategy that will accommodate this likely scenario. Also pricing, even with estimates on the repairs, is not as straightforward as you might think.

“For example, a home that requires $50,000 of work among homes selling for $300,000, will not command a price of $250,000. That’s not how it works,” says Elizabeth Weintraub, Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California. “A contractor, say, who plans to resell the home in fixed-up condition, will expect a reasonable profit and will factor in the costs of resale upon purchasing as well. This means the home will likely sell for less than $200,000.”

Extensive Damage

In cases of serious damage, if the damage is extensive, the home may not be worth anything more than the value of the plot of land that it sits on. This is because the existing home will have to be demolished and rebuilt. As a result, homebuyers are not likely to pay for anything more than the cost to demolish the property and the price for the lot.

If the property can still be a rehabilitated you should hire a local Realtor that has experience in selling properties that need rehabilitation. The real estate agent will reach out to buyers that are interested in purchasing damaged homes.

Repair the Home

“Because of so many distress sales and foreclosures, there are many “damaged” properties on the market and they are heavily discounted in order to get them sold,” says Lesslie Giacobbi, a Realtor with Seven Gables Real Estate in Anaheim Hills, CA. Giacobbi recommends that homeowners consider working with Realtors that can help to assess and repair the damage. “Maybe a builder would fix it and split the profit occurring from the repair. If this is not an option, and the property is sold in “as-is” condition, you will not get as good a return.”

Therefore, if debt is not a concern, homeowners should seriously consider the benefits of repairing a damaged home prior to a sale. The difference may mean a profit, and not simply breaking even or going into a debt by going for a lowball offer.

Sell As-Is

The last option for dealing with a damaged home is to sell “as-is.” This is the method that is least likely to be profitable for you. However, it puts the risk on the buyer with regard to the sale and takes the burden from you. Investors may look at the costs and may opt to purchase your home if they feel that it can potentially turn a profit. In this instance, you should not expect to get anything close to market value for the home.

If you don’t plan to sell the home “as-is” the most important factor is that you make a complete disclosure about the property’s current condition. Sellers can run into liability issues if the issues with the property have not been disclosed fully. If repairs have been made to the home prior to it being damaged, you must also disclose these repairs. Each state has different laws regarding disclosures.

Therefore, it is important that you work with an agent closely anytime you are trying to sell a property that has been damaged. By considering all of the potential options for your damaged property, you can make the best decision possible for your unique situation.

My Neighbor’s House Is For Sale! How Can I Compete?

How to sell your home at the same time your neighbor’s place is on the market, and still remain friends.

It can feel intimidating to put your home up for sale at the same time your neighbor does, but remember that it’s not who’s on the market first that matters – it’s about the sale itself. Here are some strategic moves to make your home stand out to interested buyers touring multiple homes on the same block.

If you’re like most people, then you fell in love with your home and the neighborhood when you purchased it. But as your life changed over time, you decided to move onto something different. You started planning to sell your home, and created a nice timeline. Then as you take out the trash one morning, you see a for sale sign in your neighbor’s front yard. What do you do now? The last thing on your mind is that your neighbor would be doing the same thing as you.

There are ways for both of you to sell your home and still keep the peace. To stand out from the home right next to you, you’ll need to create a unique layout, amp up your curb appeal, and make sure your home is spotless. Marketing is also going to play a key role to selling your home efficiently, so when you look for a realtor, be sure to ask about their approach in this department.

Tour Your Neighbor’s Home

Getting an idea of how your neighbor’s home flows and how they decorate can help you stage your own home. Make sure to pay attention to the details like the condition of their walls, floors, light fixtures, and windows in each room. Take your time here. Notice if their kitchen has newer appliances and if their bathrooms have recently been upgraded. This will give them a higher appraisal number, thus increasing their home’s value.

Check out what amenities the home comes with. Is there a working fireplace, security system, or a large back yard? These features can be hard to compete with if you have a similar home layout but lack in the extras department. Even though you can’t magically add a beautiful exposed brick fireplace, you can still offer valuable amenities.

Deep Clean and De-clutter Your Home

This is going to be a large undertaking, and you might need to enlist the help of your family or professionals to make sure your home is squeaky clean. Consider washing walls, pressure-washing your driveway and exterior paint, and cleaning your carpets. By the time you’re done cleaning, it will be much easier to maintain this high-polished level of cleanliness during your showing schedule. The hard part is getting there, but spotless windows and sparkling kitchen backsplashes sell much better than dingy, “lived in” rooms.

Put away any items that are too personal, like family portraits and knickknacks. You want to make your home look like a model home as much as possible without sacrificing your day-to-day routines. People, of course, will know you still live here, but it’s also hard for them to imagine their lives in your home if there are personal mementos on every level surface and wall. Think about it like this: your home should be a blank canvas for them to project their lives onto. The more neutral your space is, the easier it will be for buyers to envision themselves there.

Repair and Repaint

Anything minor needs to be fixed immediately. Think about what you saw while touring your neighbor’s house, and make sure you cover those trouble areas. After you’ve gone through and cleaned your home thoroughly, you’ll be able to see the places that need repairs easily. These repairs will upgrade your space, helping add to your amenities list.

Sometimes a nice new coat of paint can really help liven up a room. To start, freshen up your living, dining, and bedrooms with one topcoat of paint. Next, cover your front door, garage door, and any other smaller detail that stands out to you. Conceal any scuffs on walls behind doors and on outdoor staircases too, paying special attention to your highest traffic areas, such as a mudroom or a front entryway.

Curb Appeal

Chances are your neighbor has similar plants in their front yard. You’ll want to make small changes in your landscape to be different, but don’t go overboard. No custom lawn art or garden gnome collections – just make it look polished and well kept. Your yard will be the first thing people see when they drive up to take a tour, so give people a great first impression.

Uproot every single weed, and take a few minutes every day to check for any new ones. Freshen up the planters, haul away all the dead leaves, and give everything a good watering. If you have fruit trees, pick up all fallen fruit. Also, clean your rain gutters while you’re hauling away dead greenery.

Staging: Make It Different

Now it’s time to take your notes from your neighbor’s tour and put them to work. Arrange your furniture differently, and pick a different color scheme. Then, walk through your home as if you were a buyer, and note any trouble areas that need adjusting. This is also a great time to do a thorough check up on the cleanliness of each room too.

Kitchens and bathrooms will make the most impact during these tours. Make the bigger appliances shine, and clear most of the smaller ones from your counters completely. Take the trash can out of the bathroom, as well as any bars of soap. You’ll really only want decorative towels on display, one nice candle, and a roll of toilet paper in there during a showing – no toothbrushes or toiletries taking up valuable counter space.

Marketing with a Pro

Get a realtor that knows the local area well, and has experience using trusted marketing methods to attract the largest audience. This is going to help you stand out from your neighbor. A tech-savvy realtor will know the best ways to take photos of your home, make informational flyers, as well as craft an excellent online listing. Don’t forget to put some photos in a local paper as well, to broaden your audience. Social media can also help give buyers a better idea of all that your home has to offer; ask your realtor for recommendations on how to further attract potential buyers.

Stay Focused on the Sale, Not the Competition

Don’t waste too much of your time and resources by trying to outdo your neighbor. Remember, you still want to be friendly after this, so burning bridges now will only make you both bitter. Having two very attractive homes for sale on the same block can be an advantage to pulling in potential buyers, so stay cordial during this process and trust that your home’s charm and value will draw the perfect buyer in no time.

Buying a Home? How to Make the Most of an Open House Visit

An open house is a good time to learn about a property that you are interested in. It also offers an opportunity to check out the competition.

Buying a home is a process that requires endless research that begins with using an open house as an opportunity to decide if you want to make a serious offer. When attending an open house, you should always come prepared. Make sure that you have done some initial research on the property. Then use the open house as an opportunity to fill in any gaps that exist in your knowledge about the property.

As you visit open house events, you should be able to get a better sense of what you are looking for and what you are not looking for in a new home. Open houses are intended to provide you with deeper insight into a property than the online home listings can provide. If you are looking to purchase a home in a particular area, you should plan on visiting several open house events before making a decision on a property to buy.

You can also use an open house event as an opportunity to learn the market in your area. Open house events can give an insight into the styles of homes that are available in the area that you are researching, as well as, the amenities that they offer.

The best part about attending an open house event is the fact that it does not require any commitment. You are under no obligation to make an offer on a property and it will cost you nothing. If you are trying to buy a home, visiting open house events is the best way to learn the market. Here are some tips on how to make the most of an open house visit.

Do Your Research Online

Doing your research on a property prior to visiting the open house, can save you a lot of time. If the property doesn’t look like something that you might be interested in buying from the online home listing photos, don’t bother going to the open house. Realtors spend a lot of time making sure that a home is portrayed in the best light in online listings. Therefore, if the home isn’t pleasing to you online, it is unlikely to be a better deal in-person.

However, if there is limited information available about a property online, it does not hurt to get more information from your real estate agent before you decide not to pursue an open house event at the property. You may find that the lack of information is due to the fact that the property has not been on the market for very long.

Take Notes

Carrying a bit of paper with your or using your favorite smartphone app to take notes on a property is a good idea. It makes it much easier for you to remember exactly what you saw at each property. After a few days or weeks have passed since the open house, all of your experiences may start to blend together, making it difficult for you to remember which properties stood out and for what reasons. Writing everything down can help you to keep things straight even after your memory begins to fail you.

Watch the Behavior of Other Potential Buyers

At an open house, you should always make sure that you watch the behavior of other potential buyers at the open house. The behavior of other potential buyers can give you some serious clues about the property and whether other buyers are interested or not. “You can tell a lot about the activity and marketability of a home by watching the other buyers. If you observe a lot of people walking in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues,” says Brendon DeSimone, founder and principal of DeSimone & Co. “Are the buyers hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and huddling in the corner talking to their spouses or partners? If so, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and “hot” listing. If you’re interested too, observing other buyers at the open house could help you learn about the competition.”

If you are searching for a home in a market that is highly competitive, you should be ready to take action as soon as you see a property that interests you. Therefore, you should make sure that you have already taken the necessary steps to demonstrate to the listing agent that you are a serious potential buyer. Obtain pre-qualification for a mortgage prior to visiting the open house event, if you want to make offers on the home right away.

Bring a List of Questions to Ask

You will probably know a bit about the property before you arrive, thanks to your real estate agent. However, once you arrive at the open house, you should have a list of questions to ask the listing agent. These questions don’t necessarily have to be about the property itself. You might have questions about the neighborhood, amenities nearby or other homes in the area.

Use the open house as an opportunity to get as much information as you need in order to decide if it is a good idea to make an offer on the property. Buying the right property requires that you do your research thoroughly. Therefore, don’t be shy about asking questions because you will likely want to ask them anyway after you make an offer. Asking questions can also help you to avoid nasty surprises later on, such as significant costs for repair work or title issues, that you didn’t anticipate.