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Decluttering Tricks Revealed

By Virtual Results

Decluttering Tricks Revealed

Is your clutter getting you down? Are you preparing to move and trying to figure out what to do with all your stuff? For some, decluttering is an easy task that is swiftly accomplished in a single day. For others, decluttering is a marathon where you stare at those piles until you finally feel motivated to tackle them. If you’re part of the latter group, then you should know that there are some tricks that can help you conquer your clutter once and for all. Here’s what you should know.

Get rid of duplicates

This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people hold onto multiples of items “just in case”. Are you one of those people? Then one of the ways you can combat your clutter is to get rid of those duplicates. There’s no good reason to keep several spatulas or brooms or fly swatters…you name it. Keep the best one and donate the rest.

Only keep what fits in a space

If you find it challenging to edit the items in your home, then try this trick. Commit to only keeping what fits in a space. For example, if your bookshelf is overflowing with books, then commit to only keeping the books that will fill the space and getting rid of the rest. This trick can be applied to anything, from dishware to linens.

Set a timer

Do you feel overwhelmed by your clutter? Does it seem like it will take you days, weeks, or months to get on top of it? This can create a serious mental obstacle to getting started. You can deal with this problem by committing to short bursts of work. Set a timer for five minutes and complete whatever you can in that time. When the timer goes off, it’s time to stop. It’s much easier to commit to short bursts, and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish over time.

Ask for help

Do you have a non-judgemental friend that could be of assistance? Then don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Having an extra set of hands makes lighter work and it can also provide the motivation you need to get the job done.

Use the one in, one out rule

The one in, one out strategy has been helpful for many people trying to control the number of items they bring into their homes. It’s pretty simple – the idea is that every time you bring something new into your home, you must get rid of something else. This can help you keep clutter from accumulating and also help you become more mindful about what you bring into your home.

Go one room or one space at a time

There are many ways to go about tackling the clutter in your home. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed then it can be useful to go one room or even one space at a time. Start with frequently used areas. And if it feels like too much to do the whole room, then just concentrate on one part of the room, like a shelf or even a drawer.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Let Go of These Things When Moving

By Virtual Results

Let Go of These Things When MovingMoving is a big job. You may think you don’t have that much stuff, but once you start packing it up you may realize you have much more than you thought. But why cart around a bunch of stuff that you don’t really need or use that frequently? That’s why we’ve compiled this list of easy things that you can let go of when you’re moving. By selling or donating these items, you’ll make your move easier and life in your new place more clutter-free!

All the dishes you don’t need

It is so easy to accumulate dishes over the years. From those souvenir travel mugs to the dish set you inherited from your grandmother, dishes can take up an enormous amount of room in your kitchen cabinets. Do yourself a favor and let these things go before you move. You can easily and inexpensively pick up dishes you really like when you get to your new place.

Old sheets, towels, and pillowcases

How many sets of sheets does one person need? While it can be helpful to have two sets of sheets per bed, anything more becomes a challenge to deal with. The same goes for bath and dish towels. Pare down your collection to what you actually use and donate the rest to a local animal shelter. Most are always in need of sheets and towels.

Clothes that don’t fit

We understand the compulsion to hang on to clothes that don’t quite fit anymore. And we applaud you for truly believing that you’ll lose that extra 10, 20, or 30 pounds. But hanging on to clothes that don’t fit not only makes your closet cluttered, but can also be bad for your mental health. Think about how much someone else may enjoy those items, and donate them instead.

Old electronics

If you’re like most people, then you probably have a box or tub of old or outdated electronics. This could include old cell phones, printers, laptops, modems, and more. There’s no reason for you to drag these items to your next home. Instead, find out how to recycle them before you move.

Old paperwork

When was the last time you looked through your files? Chances are you’re sitting on a pile (or mountain) of paperwork that you no longer need. This includes old bank statements, flyers from school, bills, and the like. You will considerably lighten your load – both physically and mentally – by shredding these documents before you move. You don’t even need to have your own shredder to do it.

Seasonal decorations

Are you still hanging on to party decorations from your spouse’s 40th birthday or Valentine’s Day decor from the dollar store? There’s very little reason to hold on to these items. Party and seasonal decor is cheap and easy to come by. Let these items go.

Anything broken

We all have those items lying around that need repair and that we’ve always thought we would get to…eventually. But with a big move ahead of you, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to make these repairs. And it doesn’t make sense to bring broken items with you to a new place. Give yourself a fresh start and throw away or recycle these items.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Allergy-Proof Your Home

By Virtual Results

Opening the windows to let in some fresh air can be such a delight this time of year. Except, of course, if you have seasonal allergies. Allergy season generally begins in March with tree pollen and ends in August with grass pollen, so it can be hard to find relief. Fortunately, there are ways that you can allergy-proof your home to minimize your suffering. These are the best tips we’ve discovered for keeping allergies at bay in your home.

Make your home a no-shoe zone

There are many reasons why it can be good to remove your shoes when you get home. And one of the big ones is that it will help reduce your allergies. Pollen and other allergens can hitch a ride into your home via your shoes, thereby spreading the problem around your home. Remove your shoes as soon as you enter and encourage your guests to do the same. It won’t completely eliminate the allergens you bring inside, but it will greatly reduce them.

Wipe down your pets

Pets are another easy way for allergens to enter your living space. Think about it – every time you take your dog out for a walk it probably likes to sniff every plant it encounters. Pollen can easily hide in pet fur, which can then spread around your home. Try using pet wipes and wipe your furry friend down every time they come inside.

Take a shower

We hate to break it to you, but just like your pet and your shoes, allergens can attach themselves to your clothes and body, too. One of the best ways to combat this problem is to shower after you’ve been outside for more than a few minutes. Be sure to throw your clothes directly in the laundry as pollen attached to clothing can be transferred to upholstery, too.

Change your filters

You should be cleaning or changing your air filters regularly as part of the routine maintenance of your home. Having clean air filters helps to ensure your appliances run efficiently. But it also helps to make sure that your home is free of allergens. If you haven’t already done so, then now is the time to clean or change the air filters in your home.

Invest in an air purifier

If your allergies are particularly bad, then you may want to consider purchasing an air purifier for your home. While air purifiers can be expensive, they can cut down considerably on the number of allergens in the air. Try putting them in the rooms where you spend the most time, including your home office and your bedroom.

Protect your car

Finally, it’s not just your home you should consider when creating a defense strategy against allergens. Your car can become a host for pollen and other allergens, too. When you park on the street or in a parking lot outside, allergens can accumulate in your air vents. That means your allergies could be triggered every time you turn on your car. When possible, park your car inside a garage to help keep allergens under control.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Ace Your Yard Sale

By Virtual Results

Ace Your Yard SaleYard sale season is here! If you’re ready to unload some of your unwanted stuff, then a yard sale is one of the best and easiest ways to do it. Not only will you declutter your home, but you’ll also make some fast cash in the process. But if you want your yard sale to be as successful as possible, then you’ll need to follow some tips. Here’s what you need to know to ace your upcoming yard sale.

Market your sale

Nobody will come to your yard sale unless they know about it. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the word out, and most don’t even charge a fee. You can post your sale online as well as in print newspapers for your community. You should aim to market your yard sale at least one week ahead of time so shoppers can plan their day. Don’t forget to put up signs in your neighborhood as well, if allowed.

Get plenty of change

Most of your yard sale items will probably be priced in the $1-$5 range, so make sure you have plenty of change. You don’t want the first shopper with a $20 bill to take all the change you have for the day. So be sure to hit up the bank for ones, fives, and quarters to have on hand. You may even want to allow shoppers to pay online through one of the many payment apps that are available. This is particularly good if you’re selling any higher-priced items like furniture or electronics.

Price things correctly

People shop yard sales to find bargains. You’re going to have a lot of cranky shoppers if you price your items too high. And make sure that every item has a price. Otherwise, be prepared to answer the question, “How much is this?” all day. You can save time by grouping like items together. For example, you can make a sign that says that all books are $1.

Be willing to negotiate

You’re having a yard sale because you’re ready to get rid of your things. Don’t make it hard for people to buy your stuff by being inflexible on the price. You can get away with being firm on prices early in the day, especially for new items. But be willing to take less as the day goes on and for those who are purchasing multiple items.

Sell drinks and snacks

It can get hot and tiring to go from one yard sale to the next. That’s why it’s always a good idea to offer drinks and snacks for sale. Consider offering cans of soda or juice boxes for 50 cents or $1. You can also offer pre-packaged snacks like chips and cookies. Selling snacks and drinks is a great job to outsource to your kids. Not only will it be harder for your shoppers to say no, but you’ll also give your kids experience handling money and doing math.

Offer free stuff

Finally, entice shoppers by offering a box or two of free stuff. Place these items closest to the street to lure shoppers closer. As the day goes by, you may want to start adding more items to the free boxes. After all, you don’t want to cart anything back inside at the end of the day.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Understanding Debt-to-Income Ratio

By Virtual Results

Understanding Debt-to-Income Ratio

When you’re buying a home, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) will be an important part of the equation. This critical piece of information will affect whether or not you will qualify for a mortgage and can also affect the terms and conditions of your loan. Let’s take a closer look at debt-to-income ratio so you can be prepared for your upcoming home purchase.

Debt-to-income ratio defined

First of all, let’s be clear about what debt-to-income ratio is. Your DTI is a part of your larger financial picture that will help a lender determine if you qualify for a mortgage. Basically, DTI compares how much money you owe to home much money you make. To determine your personal DTI, divide your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income.

Why DTI is important to lenders

Lenders evaluate your DTI to get a clearer picture of how you manage your monthly payments. If you have a low DTI, let’s say 15 percent, then that means only a small percentage of your monthly income is used to pay your debts. To lenders, this is a good sign that you can manage a home loan and are unlikely to default. As your DTI increases, so does your risk.

What is the best DTI?

Having a low DTI is best when you want to qualify for a home loan. Lenders are generally looking for a DTI of 43 percent or less. That means that 43 percent or less of your income is used to pay for your monthly expenses. However, most lenders prefer borrowers to have a DTI of 36 percent or less, with only 28 percent or less of that amount being used for mortgage or rent payments. Maximum DTIs will vary from lender to lender, so be sure to shop around so you know your options.

How to lower your DTI

If you’re concerned because your debt-to-income ratio is on the high side, then there are steps that you can take to lower your DTI. These include:

  • Make larger payments toward your monthly debt to more quickly lower your overall debt.
  • Don’t take on more debt.
  • Reduce the amount you charge on your credit cards and pay off existing balances when possible.
  • Don’t make large purchases such as buying a new car while you’re shopping for a home.
  • Monitor your DTI every month to see if you’re making progress.

What lenders will ask for to calculate your DTI

When you are applying for a home loan, lenders will ask for documentation to get the information they need to calculate your DTI. They will want to see your current pay stubs as well as tax forms from the last two years. If you’ve recently had a change in your income, then you will need a statement from your employer explaining the change in your salary. In addition, if you’ve got a side hustle to help make extra money, you will need to provide the tax documents from these gigs as well. You will also need to show statements related to any existing debt, such as credit card statements.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How To Buy a Home Faster

By Virtual Results

How To Buy a Home Faster

Yes, the home-buying process can take time. But there are strategies you can use to make the process go a little more quickly. Whether you’re a member of the military who has been reassigned or you need to move to a new location for work, sometimes you need to make it happen fast. If you want to make your next home purchase happen as quickly as possible, then follow these important tips.

Get your paperwork together early

Applying for a home loan can be a lengthy process. One way to help speed things along is to be as prepared as possible with what you’ll need to qualify. This means getting your paperwork together early. The good news is, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage – which is essential in today’s market – then you’ll have what you need to get moving as soon as your offer is accepted.

Know what you can afford

The house-hunting process can also take time if you’re not prepared. There’s no sense in looking at homes that are outside of your budget. This wastes your time and draws out the process of buying a home. It can also create unwanted drama when you find a home you love that you simply can’t afford. For this reason, you should find out how much house you can afford before you begin your search. This way, you’ll only be looking at homes that fit within your budget, saving you valuable time.

Know what you want

In addition to knowing what you can afford, you need to know what you want. After all, how will you know you’ve found what you’re looking for if you don’t know what that is? Once you know how much house you can afford, then make a list of those things you need to have in a home and those things that would be nice to have. This will make it much easier for you to spot just the right home for you and avoid wasting time on homes that won’t meet your needs.

Do your research

Now it’s time to start doing your research. Begin by exploring the neighborhoods where you think you might want to live. Look at things such as nearby amenities and the quality of the school district. Then start looking at listings in the neighborhoods that you like. It’s easier than ever to browse home listings online, and your agent can also help locate the properties that best fit your needs.

Work with an experienced agent

Finally, the best thing you can do to make your home purchase happen quickly is to work with an experienced real estate agent. Working with an agent who is an expert in your neighborhood with years of experience can help you close more quickly. They’ll know what to expect during the process and can help you navigate any obstacles that may happen along the way. They will let you know what to expect and help you be prepared for every step of the process before it happens.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Quick Weekend Curb Appeal

By Virtual Results

Quick Weekend Curb AppealHave you been putting off sprucing up your curb appeal because you think it will take too long? We understand not wanting to commit hours and hours of work to a home project when the beach beckons. Fortunately, there are ways that you can quickly boost your curb appeal without spending tons of time or money. In fact, you can make a huge improvement in your curb appeal in as little as one weekend. Here’s how!

Give your front door a facelift

One of the easiest and most dramatic ways to give your front yard a boost is to paint your front door in an eye-catching color. Choose a color that complements your home’s exterior. Simply clean the door, apply a primer, and then two coats of paint. This is a job that can be completed in an afternoon and will only cost you the price of a gallon of paint.

Trim up the landscaping

Another quick and easy way to amp up your curb appeal is to trim up your landscaping. This includes trees, bushes, and perennials as well as the grass. Apply a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds after removing weeds.

Add a new house number

Did you know that something as simple as a house number can make your home look dated? That’s why we recommend replacing your house numbers with something more contemporary. Choose a style that fits with the architecture of your home, and make sure the numbers are large enough to be easily read from the street.

Create a container garden

You don’t have to completely overhaul your garden beds to make your home’s exterior shine. Have you thought about simply adding a few colorful containers of plants and flowers? Place containers around your front door or on your porch for a quick pop of color and texture.

Make things squeaky clean

Another easy way to may your home look fabulous on the outside is to give everything a good cleaning. Winter can be tough on porches, decks, walkways, and siding. Buy, rent, or borrow a pressure washer to clean your home’s exterior including sidewalks and driveways. You’ll be amazed at how much ground-in dirt and grime it will wash away.

Get a new welcome mat

Feel in the mood to do a little shopping? Then head to the store (or shop online) for a new welcome mat for your front door. There are so many great options available now that can showcase your style and personality.

Refresh outdoor furniture

Are you lucky enough to have a front porch where you can sit and watch the day go by? Then now is the time to invest in some new bling for your outdoor furniture. Consider adding a fresh coat of paint to chairs and tables and choose new cushions and pillows in a complementary style and color. Then reward yourself with a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade!

Add solar lighting

Finally, add the crowning touch to your new outdoor paradise – accent lighting. Solar lights are a great choice and can be very inexpensive. Choose path lighting or string lights to create a soft and ambient glow once evening descends.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Strategies to Win a Bidding War

By Virtual Results

Strategies to Win a Bidding WarEven though interest rates are rising in the United States, the housing market hasn’t cooled. Demand is still high for homes, and buyers continue to outnumber sellers. When you’re making an offer on a home, it will likely be one of many. In such a competitive market, how do you make your offer stand out so that you can win a bidding war? Here’s what you need to know to seal the deal.

Offer more than the asking price

One of the easiest things to do to make your offer win out amongst the competition is to offer more than the asking price of the home. Most homes in today’s market are selling for over the asking price because there are so many buyers competing for the same home. Keep in mind, however, that you want to stay within your budget and offer an amount that is realistic for homes in your neighborhood. If you’re not sure what to offer, then lean on your real estate agent for advice.

Offer more earnest money

When you put in an offer on a home, you will also include an earnest money deposit. This is a good-faith deposit that shows you’re serious about wanting to buy the home. Typically, an earnest money deposit is somewhere between one and two percent of the purchase price. However, if you want your offer to shine, then consider making a larger deposit. It can be just the thing to capture the attention of the seller.

Make a big down payment

Saving money for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges in buying a home. But if you’ve got a substantial amount saved, then you could be in a good position. Offering to make a large down payment can help to ease a seller’s worries, making your offer more attractive. It also means you’ll have less to finance.

Limit your contingencies

Making an offer on a home often comes with several contingencies. Contingencies are conditions that must be met for the home sale to close These contingencies can include a financing contingency, a contingency that you must sell your own home first, or an inspection contingency. If you limit the number of contingencies for your offer, then it can be more attractive to the seller. Fewer contingencies mean fewer obstacles to getting to the closing table. Just be careful about which contingencies you waive, such as the home inspection contingency. When in doubt, talk to your agent.

Be flexible

If you have any flexibility with the home purchase, then make that clear in your offer. Perhaps you have wiggle room when it comes to your move-in date. Let the seller know that you can be flexible about that date. This alone could give you the competitive edge you need in today’s market.

Pay cash

It probably goes without saying, but if you can afford to pay all cash then your offer will most likely win out. Paying cash makes it easy to get to closing – you don’t have to jump through all the hoops of getting qualified for a home loan.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying a Home That Isn’t For Sale

By Virtual Results

Buying a Home That Isn’t For Sale

Demand is high in today’s real estate market. With record-low interest rates and a shortage of inventory, we’re in a seller’s market. That means it can be tough to purchase a home when so many other buyers are competing. With limited options, house hunting may fee like a lost cause. But don’t count yourself out just yet! One thing you may want to try is to put in an offer on a home that isn’t currently listed. While it can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible. Here’s what you need to know about buying a home that isn’t for sale.

Figure out exactly what you want

If you’re going to put in offers on homes that aren’t for sale, then you need to be perfectly clear about what you want. You certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time by looking at homes you aren’t seriously interested in buying. Make a list of your needs and wants and determine your budget. That way you can target your search to your specific criteria.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

As with any home search, you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage first. Getting pre-approved shows a seller that you are a serious buyer. In order to convince a homeowner that you are both willing and ready to buy their property, you need to have your financial ducks in a row.

Check out specific neighborhoods

Once you’ve nailed down your pre-approval and know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start exploring neighborhoods. Take a drive and write down the addresses of homes that you would be interested in viewing. Give that list to your agent, who can then follow up with the owners to see if they would be open to talking about a sale.

Do some digging

In addition to driving around neighborhoods, you should also do research on homes in that area. Check online for expired or withdrawn listings. These are homes that were once on the market but have been removed or the listing expired before they sold. There are a variety of reasons why a home may no longer be for sale, and the owners may still be open to offers. If you find any expired listings you’d like to see, see if your agent can set something up with the owner. You can also check tax records to see if the owner of a property has a different address on their tax returns. This could suggest the home is an investment property and the owner may be willing to sell for a good price.

Understand the owner’s mindset

If an owner of a home is interested in talking to you about a sale, then don’t assume you’re in the clear. Knowing there is interest in their home could mean more potential buyers may be just around the corner. They understand they might be able to get more money if there is more competition. As a buyer, be ready to make an attractive offer immediately. If the owner knows that the sale will be hassle-free, then they’ll be more likely to accept.

Work with a pro

Finally, the best way to find a homeowner who may be open to your offer is to work with a professional real estate agent. When interviewing agents, ask if they are willing to take the extra steps needed to find your perfect house – even if it isn’t on the market. With a little luck and a lot of digging, you may just find yourself the new owner of the house of your dreams!

Compliments of Virtual Results

What is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

By Virtual Results

What is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

If you’re buying or selling a home, then you’re going to come across the term MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. But just what is the MLS and why is it so important to both buyers and sellers? Let’s take a closer look at this essential tool.

The MLS explained

In a nutshell, the MLS is a huge database of homes for sale. While it may seem like the MLS is one national database, it is actually comprised of hundreds of regional databases. Real estate agents use the MLS as a tool to help buyers and sellers find each other, even for homes they do no represent. The MLS helps to facilitate cooperation between agents by consolidating information in one place. Real estate agents pay to have access to their regional database. In many cases, agents may pay to have memberships to more than one MLS.

How the MLS works

The MLS is an online service that allows agents to search homes by price, features, and neighborhoods. Sellers cannot post their properties directly on the MLS – it is only accessible to those agents and brokers who have paid memberships. Agents collect all the important details about a home including the size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and other amenities. They then create a listing with this information as well as photos of the home on behalf of their client. Agents can also upload and download important documents on the MLS like HOA regulations and seller disclosures. Listings on the MLS are then exposed to thousands of agents as well as real estate websites like Zillow or Realtor.com.

How the MLS benefits buyers

We are in a seller’s market. That means it’s critical for buyers to have up-to-the-minute access to new home listings. Homes are added to the MLS in real time giving agents information about new homes for sale almost instantly. Agents are notified when new listings fitting their criteria are added to the database. As a buyer, having this information at your fingertips is critical in a competitive market.

How the MLS benefits sellers

As a home seller, the most important marketing tool is exposure. You are more likely to have multiple offers on your home when it reaches the widest possible audience. When your home is listed on the MLS it not only reaches the agents who have access to the database, but also the third party websites that aggregate this data. This means your home will be seen by exponentially more potential buyers than just a sign in your front yard or an ad in the local newspaper.

How to make the most of the MLS

When interviewing real estate agents, be sure to ask them if they have MLS access. Also inquire if they are members of more than one MLS, which will increase your reach to potential buyers or sellers. If you’re house hunting, then ask your agent to create a buyer portal. This will create email alerts that are sent to you when a home matching your criteria hits the market. As a seller, make sure that you agent has correct information about your home so that details in your listing are accurate. And, of course, be sure to use high-quality photos to make your home stand out from the competition.

Compliments of Virtual Results