Selling Your Home – 15 Tips You Can Definitely Use
1. Take care of your landscape.
Some of the first things buyers are going to notice as they pull up to your house are the landscape – lawn, plants, flowerbeds, etc. Now you don’t have to be extravagant, install a fountain or even hire a professional, you just need to tidy up and make sure things look neat and preferably alive if possible. Mow the lawn, trim your bushes and buy a few bags of mulch to pour in the flower beds to tie things together. In real estate sales, first impressions count. This is one of the simple improvements that will increase home value. Make it count!
2. Remove clutter.
One of the most cost effective home selling tips is to make your home clutter free! You want to maximize the perceived space in the home. The more clutter, the more uncomfortable things will feel. Go through everything and clear out all the non-essentials. Even if you don’t feel like going through all of your stuff and sorting them, you should at least put things away in places where buyers won’t be looking – so no cramming stuff into closets or the garage. Rent a storage space if you need to.
A cluttered home can make your home feel a lot smaller than it is. This is not a good thing when trying to get the most you can out of your sale. Today’s buyers like bright open spaces unfettered by an abundance of someone’s personal property. Keep in mind there is a significant percentage of the population who do not have vision. Make things easier on the buyer by giving them something they can visualize. Take a look at some of the top tips for clearing the clutter when selling your home.
3. Paint your interior if it needs it.
Dark, dreary colors can shrink the perception of space. Old, stained paint makes rooms look decrepit. By painting with contemporary colors and ideally with a little insight from a knowledgeable Real Estate agent or interior designer, you can change the whole feel of your home. There is not another home improvement that will give you more bang for your buck than a fresh coat of paint. From a selling standpoint, it is important to stick with neutral colors. Remember selling your home is not about personal preferences but appealing to the masses. Stick with off white and light creamy colors for maximum benefit. Sherwin-Williams offers some excellent interior home painting tips that are worth a look.
4. Hire a great Real Estate agent.
If you are noticing a trend here, that’s because there is one. Working with a professional to sell your home has a ton of benefits, and takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of your shoulders. An experienced Realtor can often sell your home faster, and for a better price, than you can on your own. This, in fact, is one of the most valuable tips for selling a home. Just make sure you hire the right agent!
Before a real estate agent even begins their work of selling a home they can be a great source of knowledge in pricing your home correctly. Without the right price, everything else you do will be meaningless! Don’t be like so many other sellers who put a pie in the sky price tag on their home. This is a sure recipe for failure.
An exceptional local real estate agent who knows the market like the back of their hand is worth having in your corner. Here are some great tips on how to pick a real estate agent worth checking out. The article addresses what you should be thinking about when hiring a Real Estate agent, including important interview questions. Keep in mind that pricing a home properly is vital to your success and some agents will intentionally mislead you just to get your business.
Avoid this kind of agent at all costs! There is nothing that will prevent you from getting top dollar faster than hiring a real estate agent who overprices your home!
5. Put up a sign in the yard.
With all the emphasis on online marketing – which is critical, of course – it can be easy to forget about the basics. Putting a “For Sale” sign in the yard will let everyone know what’s going on, and makes it easier for people to find the house. Some folks want to “keep their home a secret” for a multitude of reasons. This frankly is a mistake. Home sellers should never underestimate the power of real estate signage. Many homes have been sold over the years due to a sign.
More often than not this can happen with a person who was not thinking of buying but have always said to themselves if that certain home comes on the market they would be interested. That home could be yours! One of the creative ideas I came up with years ago was to incorporate a Google this real estate address as a sign rider. Many buyers forget the fact they can Google the address of a home when they are in a neighborhood. A quick search on their phone will point them to the exact places I want them to go including my website, video tour and other enhanced marketing channels.
6. Make sure your photos are exceptional.
The pictures you post on your listing can make or break your sale. They are the first thing anyone sees. If you are not skilled at photography, and your Real Estate agent isn’t either, then hire a professional. It is worth the expense. So many sellers hire a real estate agent but don’t bother to check on one of the most important parts of the selling process – how does the home being marketed look online? This is such a vital consideration, yet so many sellers underestimate the importance. Your homes photography is a gateway to a buyers perception of the property – good or bad! Want to see a quick example of really bad real estate photos posted online? Take a look and keep in mind when buyers and other real estate agents see this they cringe. It is Real Estate agents that market like this who give our industry a lousy reputation!
7. Consider a video tour.
The best Real Estate agents today are utilizing some form of video or slideshows, in addition to photos. Buyers like to take a tour before they decide to visit, which a video allows. Again, working with a professional here is important – either a Real Estate agent skilled in video tours or a professional who makes real estate videos. Do you want to see an example of what a professional real estate video tour looks like? Take a look at this video tour of 45 Camp Street in Milford Massachusetts. Would you not agree that this is an exceptional way to market a property? Home buyers will probably look at the photos first but once they take a look at the video, it will seal the deal, and they will be scheduling a showing.
8. Make sure you are marketing using all channels – particularly online.
Old school Real Estate agents can sometimes be slow to adopt new marketing channels, which is why you should hire someone who has a demonstrated ability to utilize the web. A Realtor with a website is great, but you also want to use someone who has a complete understanding of how to make your home shine online. Real Estate agents who have command of their online presence understand the importance of making your home “stand out” from the competition. Again it all starts with your photography. Without good photos you can be all over the internet and it won’t matter because your presentation will be lousy.
Real Estate agents who really have a solid command of their advertising are also using social media to further enhance their Real Estate marketing efforts. Nearly everyone owns a smart phone today. An exponential amount of these people are using one of the major social media channels including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Linkedin and Twitter. If they are looking for a home and you have an agent marketing in these channels you could see an increase in showing activity.
9. Take advantage of good lighting.
A bright, cheery home is more inviting to buyers. Let the sunlight in if you can, and add some better lighting if your home is dim. Even buying brighter light bulbs can help. One of the things I always mention to my clients is to make sure all of their curtains are drawn and lights remain on when there is a scheduled showing. Again the presentation of your home is critical. Small things like lighting can make a big difference with no money coming out of your pocket!
10. Consider a professional cleaning.
A clean home is inviting to buyers, whereas a dirty home can turn them away faster than just about anything. The easiest way to know your home is spotless and looking its best is to hire a professional cleaning company. Make sure your kitchen and baths are spotless. Buyers will pay closer attention to these areas. In addition make sure your carpets are as clean as possible. If need be consider having your carpets professionally cleaned. This is one of those things where spending a few hundred dollars can save you thousands by preventing the buyer from thinking they need to replace the carpets immediately.
In fact just last week I had a client in Grafton Massachusetts who wanted me to list their home. After viewing the property it was clear to me it needed a professional cleaning before anyone set foot inside. A tenant had just moved out and the owner did not realize it was not up to snuff.
11. Make sure you repair the things that your Real Estate agent advises.
Many renovations are arguably a bad investment for sellers, as it is hard to get your money back in the sale. But if your real estate agent advises that you fix some things, like faulty wiring, a hole in the fence, a leaking toilet or a visible stain in the ceiling, you should do it. These are things that the buyer may balk at, or demand a lower price because they feel immediate attention is needed. Secondarily when the buyer does their home inspection more than likely they will be trying to renegotiate the sale price or worse asking to back out of the deal.
One of the things I constantly stress to my clients is being well prepared for the buyers home inspection. This is the number one place where home sales fall apart. It only makes sense to address the problems before hand. If you know about a problem, a good home inspector will more than likely find it.
12. Address all odors.
Smell is powerful, and can easily drive someone away from buying your home. However, you may not even realize the smells are there. Ask an outsider that you trust, like your Realtor, to let you know if there are any unpleasant odors – like pet or cooking odors – and address them before you show. Believe it or not pet odors can kill a home sale. This happens because some buyers fear they won’t be able to get rid of the odor once they purchase the house. Don’t take any kind of chance with home odors – remove them!
13. Make your kitchen appealing.
Many buyers are very focused on kitchens, which is why you want to make sure yours is reasonably appealing. Formica counter-tops from the 70s may need to be updated, and you might want to install a new appliance or two if the existing ones are in really bad shape. Most Real Estate agents will tell you that the kitchen is the most important room in the home. It makes sense as it is typically the place where we spend most of our time. Do what you can to make you kitchen is appealing as possible.
14. Get organized.
The people that are looking at your home are going to open every door, including closets and the garage. You may help your sale by making sure these areas are relatively organized. The better they look, the easier it is for buyers to imagine that they can fit all their things in the home. This again goes back to one of my previous home selling tips of DE-cluttering. Organizing your closets and garage should be done as part of the process. Anita Clark, a Georgia Real Estate agent offers some fantastic tips on how to organize your closets when selling a home.
15. Take your pets somewhere for showings.
It is hard for pet owners to imagine sometimes, but some people really don’t like pets. As a dog or cat owner, you may not want to hang out with such people, but they might make a great offer on your home. Take the pets somewhere safe and comfortable, like a friend. Having evidence of your pet, including their odors can be a real turn off to some people. Have a look at some of the best tips for selling your home with pets for some sound guidance.
There you have it – these are some of the best home selling tips to get you on your way to a successful home sale!
BUYING A HOME: First-Time Home Buyer Tips
-Pay Off All Debt and Build an Emergency Fund. Owning a home is expensive—much more expensive than renting, even if your monthly house payment will be similar or cheaper than your current rent amount. That’s because when you own a home, you’re responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep costs. And those can add up fast! So, before you even think about buying your first home, make sure you’re debt-free and have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses in place.
Determine How Much House You Can Afford.. Before you get emotionally attached to a beautiful house, check your monthly budget to determine how much house you can afford. You need to leave room in your budget for other things, so make sure your monthly housing costs (including HOA fees, taxes, insurance, etc.) are going to be no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay. For example, let’s say you bring home $5,000 a month. Multiply that by 25% to establish your maximum monthly house payment of $1,250. Based on a 15-year mortgage with a 4% fixed interest rate, here are the home options you can afford (not including taxes and insurance):188,000 home with a 10% down payment ($18,800)$211,000 home with a 20% down payment ($42,000) $241,400 home with a 30% down payment ($72,400)$281,600 home with a 40% down payment ($112,640)That’s an easy way to find a number in your ballpark. But don’t forget that property taxes and homeowner’s insurance will affect your monthly payment. You’ll also need to factor those numbers in before settling on a maximum home price.
Save a Down Payment. If saving up to pay cash for the total price of a house isn’t reasonable for your family’s timeline, at least save for a down payment of 20% or more. Then you won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the mortgage company in case you can’t make your payments and end up in foreclosure. PMI usually costs 1% of the total loan amount, and you’ll be charged that 1% every year. So it can really add a lot to your monthly mortgage paymentIf a 20% down payment seems out of reach for you, first-time home buyer programs that offer single-digit down payments may sound tempting. But don’t use them! These options will cost you more in the long run. Here are some low-to-no down payment mortgage options to avoid:Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs): ARMs might seem great with a low initial interest rate, but they allow lenders to adjust the rate to transfer the risk of rising interest rates (and monthly payments) to you.FHA Loans: You may be able to get an FHA mortgage with as little as 3.5% down, but you have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (similar to PMI) for the life of the loan. That’s thousands of dollars that won’t go toward paying off your mortgage.
VA Loans: VA loans allow veterans to buy a home with no down payment. But if the real estate market shifts, you could easily owe more than the market value of your home. These loans also carry a bunch of fees and usually charge interest rates that are higher than those for conventional loans.
I only recommend a 15-year, fixed-rate conventional mortgage with a 20% down payment. Here are the reasons why:
A 15-year term creates a higher monthly payment, but you’ll pay off your mortgage in half the time, have a lower interest rate, and save thousands of dollars in interest.
A fixed-rate conventional loan keeps your interest rate the same for the life of the loan, which protects you from the increasing expenses of rising rates.
Please don’t get a 30-year mortgage because of the lower monthly payment. When you look at the math on a 15-year versus a 30-year, you’ll realize you pay a whole lot more money on a 30-year mortgage in the long run!
For example, let’s say you want to buy a $172,600 house. Here’s how the cost differences break down between your 15-year and the 30-year mortgage options.
15-Year at 4% Vs. 30-Year at 4%
180 Number of Payments 360 $1250 Monthly Payment $888
Total Interest Paid
Total Amount Paid$271,836 Now, that’s $53,471 in savings with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage—not to mention you’ll be payment-free 15 years sooner.
Save for Closing Costs
Along with your down payment, you’ll also need to pay for closing costs. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be wondering how much it costs to close on a house. On average, closing costs are about 3–4% of the purchase price of your home.3 Your lender will give you a specific number so you know exactly what to bring on closing day. These fees pay for important steps in the home-buying process, including:
Let’s see how this plays out with our example of a $172,600 home. If you multiply $172,600 by the higher 4% closing cost average, you’ll find that you need $6,904 for closing costs. Now, let’s add that to your 20% down payment of $34,520. Together, the two equal $41,424, which is about what you’ll need to save to pay for the down payment and the closing costs on your first house.
$172,600 x 4% = $6,904
$6,904 + $34,520 = $41,424
You want to save for your closing costs and down payment as quickly as possible—with the same amount of intensity I tell people to use when they’re getting out of debt and building a full emergency fund. In fact, it’s okay to put retirement savings on hold for a short period of time to save for a home—but you’ve got to hustle!
Pick up a second job, sell whatever isn’t nailed down, move into a smaller space, add a roommate and charge rent—do whatever you need to do to save for your closing costs and down payment as fast as you can
Get Preapproved for a Loan
Once you’re confident you have enough cash saved to pay for closing costs and 20% of your home, you’re ready to handle the other 80% by talking to a mortgage lender.
Get pre-qualified for a loan and take the extra time to get a preapproval letter before you start your home search. Preapproval shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer, which is a great way for first-time home buyers to get ahead in a competitive market.
To get preapproved, your lender will need to verify your financial information (proof of income, taxes, etc.) and submit your loan for preliminary underwriting. If you live a debt-free lifestyle like I teach, you may need to find a lender who believes in debt-free homeownership and will work with first-time home buyers who have no credit score.
Find a Home for Sale in Your Price Range
According to recent data reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), most buyers either found the home they purchased online (50%) or through a real estate agent (28%).4 Doing both sets you up for success!
Find homes you like online and send them to your real estate agent so they have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Then they can use a multiple listing service (MLS) to find homes that meet your criteria in your desired areas.
An MLS is created, maintained, and paid for by real estate professionals and it can really help first-time home buyers like you to view the largest pool of properties for sale in the marketplace. Real estate agents also provide valuable market expertise and can help you find great deals on homes as soon as (or before) they’re listed.
Research Neighborhoods for Best Fit
After you’ve found some homes for sale in your price range, be careful not to make a decision based on the property alone. According to an NAR survey, home buyers are more willing to compromise on a home’s condition (23%) and size (19%) than on the quality of its neighborhood (7%) and distance from a school (2%).5 So make sure you factor neighborhood quality and location into your decision.
Ask your real estate agent for information on crime rates and the quality of schools around your prospective neighborhoods. Calculate your new commute times to see if they seem manageable. Visit the neighborhood at different times and days to check for traffic conditions and noise levels and to see if people are comfortable being outdoors. Only choose a neighborhood that you and your family feel good about.
Attend Open Houses and Think Long Term
Once you’ve narrowed down the neighborhoods, attend a few open houses. Looking at homes that are for sale—even if they’re not a perfect fit for you—is a great way to learn more about the area. When you do eventually find a house you love, you’ll know how your place compares to better or worse homes in that neighborhood.
When it comes to buying, a good strategy is to find the most affordable house in the best neighborhood. If you buy at the bottom of the price range in a good neighborhood, you’ll have more room to build home value.
For instance, let’s say you find a home that’s the only one on the block without wood floors and granite countertops. If you have the cash to make those upgrades, you’ll be able to add instant value to your home
Make a Competitive Offer (That’s Within Your Budget!)
Let’s say you found the home you want and can afford. Since you’re already preapproved for a loan, you’re ready to make an offer. If you’re a first-time home buyer, it may be hard to know how much you should offer. That’s when you can rely on the expertise of your real estate agent.
Ask your agent to help you make sure your offer is competitive but also within your budget and the home’s value. Be careful not to make an impulsive offer that’s higher than you can afford just to knock out the competition. A personalized letter might help your offer stand out among multiple bids in a hot market.
Prepare for Closing
Once a seller accepts your offer, the closing process will begin. Keep things running smoothly by knowing what to expect when closing on a house. The average closing process takes 43 days, which gives you plenty of time to tackle closing items.6 A real estate agent will schedule the remaining steps from home inspection to final walkthrough, and they’ll keep you informed about any roadblocks.
As you prepare for closing, make sure you read every document and ask your real estate agent to explain anything you don’t understand—especially before you sign the official contract for the home transaction. It’ll be your signature on the documents, so you’ll be the one responsible for anything you sign.
FINDING YOU A RENTAL HOME! Finding a rental these days is competitive. You need an Agent who will go the extra mile to find and identify the right place for you. Taking into account your budget, family dynamic and location, location, location. We go beyond the Multiple Listing Service. We find you the Rental Property you need!
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: We work diligently to make sure your property is occupied, your rental income is paid on time, your property is well maintained and managed. As managers for your property, our tenants will realize we care about their concerns. Maintenance issues are addressed and dealt with immediately. As our landlord, you are kept informed as soon as issues arise concerning your property. We do not procrastinate, we get the problems resolved!