Staging Strategies For Your Home

Staging your home is all about putting the best foot forward for potential buyers. By highlighting its most desirable features, you can draw more interest for your home and leave a lasting impression that is sure to help you sell it more quickly. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you prepare for your next open house or viewing!

Help them visualize it as their own. Make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves making your house their home by removing personal memorabilia, knick-knacks, and photos. Instead replace them with simple décor, such as paintings, nature images, and plants.

Think sleek instead of comfy. Modern-day buyers are leaning toward modern, crisp, clean interiors over comfy, homey looks. When staging your home, keep a minimalist mindset and incorporate bright colors and metal accents.

Deep clean the small spaces. It’s obvious to say you should clean your home before viewing, but don’t forget to cover your bases by deep cleaning the small spots. Take time to scrub porous areas like grout that may hold on to stains and baseboards where small pet hairs and dust love to cling.

Spruce up your landscaping. The first impression of your home gives to potential buyers is its exterior. Ensure you have a freshly mowed lawn, neat hedges and shrubbery, bright flowers, and a clean driveway.

Set the mood. A home is so much more than just the way it looks, so you need to appeal to the other senses. Prior to having potential buyers over, set the mood by burning delicious smelling candles and selecting an upbeat, happy soundtrack to play in the background.

How To Decide If It’s Time To Replace Your Windows and Where To Get Started

Before you dive into replacing your windows, the first step is to carefully evaluate the pros and cons. Replacing your windows is no small investment. The average cost to replace the windows in a home is in the five-figure range. Even if replacing your windows results in huge energy savings, it can take years and years for the investment to pay off.

If you’re truly ready to replace them—whether it’s for energy and comfort, an aesthetic upgrade, or your current windows are simply beyond repair—here are a few things to keep in mind.

Pick the right materials
Window materials include vinyl, fiberglass, composite, wood, and aluminum. There are several factors that should go into deciding on the best material for your home, such as durability, energy efficiency, maintenance requirements, and even the style of your home. Some materials look great on one architectural style, but totally clash with others.

Carefully consider add-on features
Beyond choosing a window material and style, you’ll face another series of choices for add-on features. There are impact-resistant windows, extra panes, gas-filled windows, climate control coatings, and more. Most add-ons will significantly increase the price for each window, and in many instances, the long-term savings don’t justify the extra cost. Do the math and consider how long it will take for the extra features to pay for themselves.

Spice Up Your Kitchen With A Pop Of Color

In the past few years, the biggest kitchen trends revolved around stainless steel appliances, bright white or light gray cupboards, granite countertops, and minimalist decor, maintaining a clean, sleek look. And although this style maintains its popularity among homeowners, color is creeping its way back to the forefront. But it is definitely not how you’d expect.

Introducing the rise of colored appliances. Consumers have been asking and kitchen appliance manufacturers have listened. Instead of your standard white, black, and stainless steel, these companies are now producing baby blue ovens, green vent hoods, pink standing mixers, teal grills, and more. Some of these companies have produced specific color lines while others are going above and beyond, offering the ability to match any color swatch or metal treatment you wish.

On top of these pops of color, according to BHG.com, consumer research indicated a 150 percent increase in interest in shades of metallic, including brass and copper, and a 364 percent increase in interest in gold cabinetry.

However, a brand new appliance may be outside your budget, especially if you are a new homeowner. Not to worry! There is always the infallible accent wall, counter base, or pantry door. This cost-effective, do-it-yourself option is an easy way to refresh the look of your kitchen. You can also consider bringing in bright-colored stools or chairs or introducing bold tiles into your backsplash.

Create A More Energy-efficient Home Without Breaking The Bank

Many homeowners would love to invest in making their property more energy-efficient. Going green can save you a lot of money over time and is great for the environment, but the up-front costs can be significant. Fortunately, there are some energy-efficient changes you can make to your home without draining too much of your bank account.

Seal air leaks: As much as 20 percent of the energy used to regulate temperature in a home can be lost to air leaks. You can seal doors and windows with weather stripping and the project will usually cost less than $200.

Smart thermostats: Older thermostats are usually inefficient because they only have a few settings. A smart thermostat like Nest can be programmed to reduce heating/cooling when you’re not at home or during the hours when you’re asleep. The energy savings you will see usually equal the cost of the thermostat after a year or two.

Change your light bulbs: LED light bulbs are expensive, but require just a small percentage of the energy incandescent bulbs require. A cheap incandescent bulb uses about $15 of electricity a year (if it lasts that long). An LED bulb costs $25, but uses less than $5 worth of electricity per year and will last up to 11 years.

Reliable Tactics For When The Appraisal Is Low

Few things in the home buying process are more frustrating than having your offer accepted, only to have the appraisal fall below your offer. But all is not lost! If the appraisal comes in below your offer, there are several tactics and strategies that can lead to a happy solution.

Get A Second Opinion

There’s no need to take the appraiser’s estimate as fact. You can pursue a value appeal, or you can discuss a second appraisal with your prospective lender. Sometimes you can even get the seller to pay for the second appraisal, because they will be motivated to complete the sale. Your real estate professional should be able to help you through the process of an appeal or a second opinion.

Renegotiate For A Lower Price

Unless the market is extremely hot, there’s a good chance the seller can be talked town to the appraised value. Sellers often prefer to complete the deal, rather than putting the property back on the market.

Resist The Urge To Pay More

Sure, paying more in cash to cover the difference between the loan amount and the agreed upon sale price is tempting. Buying a home is an emotional experience, and you may think that this particular home is the only one that you’ll be satisfied with. Take a step back and consider searching for another property.

Analyze The Little Things Before You Fall In Love With A Home

It’s easy to be wowed by a house. You’re anxious to discover your dream home and accomplish a big goal. You can’t wait to cook in the brand new kitchen or relax in the spa-style tub. All that excitement can also make it easy to dismiss some minor issues that can become major annoyances down the road. Rather than letting your excitement get the best of you, take the time to analyze smaller details properly.

Don’t Dismiss The Location

Let’s say you find a perfect home that’s an extra 20 minutes each way from work. Those 40 total minutes don’t seem like a big deal at first glance, but consider that you’ll be dealing with that extra commute day after day, year after year for as long as you live in the house. Is that an inconvenience you’re willing to deal with? Make an educated decision—do a test run of the actual commute and see whether it’s tolerable, or would eventually drive you crazy.

Stressing location also means committing to a neighborhood. Does the potential neighborhood align with your priorities? Make sure you’re choosing a location that makes it easy to do the things you love most, whether that’s enjoying city nightlife or escaping to quiet home away from it all.

Working Order

Shiny new appliances and an open-concept living space may be on your list of must-haves, but don’t let the aesthetics distract from the basics.

Are the basement and attic in good shape? Problems like mold and water damage can turn an otherwise perfect home into a nightmare, and a poorly insulated attic can cause your bills to skyrocket.

None of these issues should necessarily remove a home from consideration—you just have to be aware of the total package.

Five Hidden Renovation Costs

Renovations never seem to go as planned. There’s always a cost you didn’t anticipate, or a problem that didn’t reveal itself until the project was underway. Here are five common costs to look out for.

Higher utility bills: If contractors and builders are working in your home all day, there’s a good chance they’re constantly walking in and out the exterior doors. That wreaks havoc on your heating/cooling efficiency, so watch out for higher utility bills.

Movers: It’s pretty hard to renovate a fully furnished home. You may be able to move and store most of your furniture yourself, but homeowners often have bigger pieces that require some hired help.

Food: If your kitchen is being torn apart, preparing meals becomes a lot more difficult. You may be able to keep your food budget steady by switching to meals that don’t require counter space, the stove, or the oven, but don’t be surprised if you end up dining out more often.

A few nights in a hotel: Depending on your renovation, there may be some nights where sleeping in your home isn’t practical, or you just need a mental break from the mess. Budget for a few nights at a hotel … or just schedule your family vacation for the worst part of the renovation.

Deep cleaning: It’s one thing to clean and maintain your home after a typical week or two of living. It’s entirely different to clean up after a construction project, as sawdust and other debris can get in every nook and cranny. It may be worth your sanity to just hire cleaners.

Tips For A Better Closing Day

Buying a home can be a long process. The last thing you want after all your time spent searching for homes and getting the best mortgage rate is to have everything go wrong on closing day. Here are five tips that’ll ensure it goes smoothly.

Schedule a date that works best for you: You have every right to request the closing take place at an ideal time for you, and the other parties in the transaction will usually work with you to make it happen. Whether it’s timing the closing around a pay date or the end of a lease, the first step is finding a date that minimizes stress or conflicts.

Clarify your payment: Many title companies do not accept personal checks, so give yourself a few days to get a cashier’s check or set up a wire transfer.

Double check insurance: You’ll need to arrange for a title insurance policy for your mortgage and purchase homeowner’s insurance (plus flood or earthquake insurance, depending on the area). Make sure your policy begins by your closing date.

Do a final walk-through: You’d be surprised to find that buyers skip this step! Schedule a final walkthrough to ensure that all requested repairs have been made and everything is in working order.

Take action based on walk-through: If any issues are identified, you may need to delay closing or negotiate a discount before the closing date to avoid delays.

A Little Extra Preparation Goes A Long Way Toward A Better Paint Job

Painting is one of the most inexpensive ways to give your home a makeover. Whether it’s updating an old bathroom paint scheme or adding a bold accent wall, painting can totally transform a room. But painting can be a big hassle and come with tons of prep work and clean up. Here are a few top tips to make your painting experience more enjoyable and lead to a more professional finish.

Prep beyond tape and drop cloths

A drop cloth will protect your floors, but a thick and durable drop cloth is also a little clumsy to maneuver. For smaller, awkward items that are in danger of paint splatter, use plastic wrap. It’ll make it much less frustrating to protect a toilet or bathroom sink.

Be ready for spills and splatters

At the very least, a few drops of paint are going to end up where you don’t want them. Have a rag and some Q-Tips ready for the inevitable paint splatter, so that you can quickly wipe them off before they dry and set on your frames, countertops, or hardwood floor.

Use heat to remove tape

Patience is key when removing painter’s tape, but it can still tear and leave splotchy edges no matter how careful you are. Hold a heat gun or hair dryer a few inches away from the tape as your remove it little by little. The heat will break down the adhesive and make removing the tape a much less frustrating task.

Tips For Maintaining Houseplants

Adding plants to your home will give it a fresher and brighter feel and will also improve your home’s air quality. Although it does take a little bit of work and consistency to maintain your plants, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few tips for keeping your plants looking great.

Use leftover water from cooking. Plants love the extra nutrients from your leftover cooking water that can’t be found straight from the tap. Instead of dumping the water right after boiling vegetables, let it cool and use it to water your plants.

Coffee makes great fertilizer. Rather than throwing your used coffee grounds in the trash, empty out your French press or coffee filter straight into a planter.

Dust your plants. This should be part of your regular dusting and cleaning routine. Keeping your plants’ leaves dust-free keeps them healthier.

Pay attention to soil types. Different plants require different soils. Do some research to discover each plant‘s preferred soil. For instance, succulents require sandy, dry soil.

Beware of root rot. Houseplants are prone to root rot because there’s often no where for excess water to drain from the planter. Prevent root rot by putting pebbles in the bottom of the planter, which elevates the roots. Use a water-hydrogen peroxide mixture for plants that are already showing signs of root rot.