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Choosing a Tree for Your Yard

By Virtual Results

Choosing a Tree for Your YardAs homeowners, we tend to spend most of our attention on the interiors of our homes. We labor over design decisions such as what color to paint the walls or what style of furniture to have in the living room. But when it comes to our outdoor spaces – especially our landscaping – we often don’t spend the same amount of time making design decisions. But those choices can have a huge impact on our curb appeal and even our quality of life. Trees make the biggest statements in our yards so if there are dying or rotten trees in your property, getting rid of them with the help of a tree removal company is recommended.

If you’re planning to add trees in your yard, figuring out the best species for your landscape can be daunting. Moreover, if you have trees that you don’t really like and wanted to get rid of, then you may hire a tree removal service to take care of them. After all, it’s a big investment of both time and money. That’s why we’re sharing these simple strategies about how to choose the right tree for your yard.

Understand the types of trees

When you start looking at the types of trees you can plant in your yard, it can make your head spin. But trees are generally divided into two categories, which will make your decision easier right away. Ornamental trees are smaller trees that grow to less than 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Shade trees, on the other hand, can grow up to 60 feet tall and wide – or more.

Know how much space you have to work with

When choosing a tree, you need to know how much space you’re working with. Trees come in all shapes and sizes, and some trees can reach 100 feet tall – or taller! Choosing a tree that fits comfortably in your space is important. Think about the width, taking care not to plant too close to buildings, fences, or sidewalks. Also, think about the height, and make sure you aren’t planting a tall tree under power lines. Lastly consider how often you will need to hire tree pruning services, as some will have branches that grow rather quickly which could invade areas you would like to avoid. Knowing how much space you have will help you decide between an ornamental or a shade tree.

Know what you want your tree to provide

What do you want your tree to do? Should it provide shade for a patio? Will it block an unpleasant view? Do you want it to attract wildlife? Would you like it to provide flowers in spring or vibrant color in fall? Deciding on how you would like your tree to function in your yard will also help you narrow down your choices.

Know your growing conditions

Next up, know what your growing conditions are in your yard. What USDA hardiness zone are you in? That will help narrow down trees that can survive the winter in your area. Also, look at how much sun or shade the space gets as well as rainfall and soil type. Different trees require different conditions and knowing your growing conditions will help you make the right choice.

Don’t forget about winter

Finally, don’t forget about winter when you’re choosing a tree for your yard. While we tend to focus on what the tree will provide in spring, summer, and fall, knowing what it will look like in winter is also important. If you want to create privacy year-round, then you’ll need to choose an evergreen tree that doesn’t lose its leaves in winter.

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Selling to Family or Friends

By Virtual Results

Selling to Family or Friends

Selling your home is a major undertaking, even in a seller’s market. Sifting through offers and deciding on the best buyer can be more stressful than you realize. If you have a family member or a friend who’s in the market for a home, then it can seem like a great shortcut to simply sell your home to them. While this can be a great opportunity for both sellers and buyers, it can also come with its own set of challenges. If you’re thinking about selling your home to a family member or friend, then this is what you should know beforehand.

Don’t feel like you need to accept a lowball offer

As a buyer, purchasing a home from someone you know may seem like the easiest way to get the best deal on a house. This is especially true in today’s market where housing prices continue to skyrocket. But as a seller, don’t feel obligated to take a low offer on your house just because the buyer is someone you know. While you can certainly give them a good deal, don’t put yourself in a position where you take a loss on the transaction. This is particularly true if you need the sale to fund a down payment on your next home. Don’t cut yourself short. If you want to know what a fair market price would be, then hire an appraiser to evaluate your home’s current value.

Be upfront about your relationship with the buyer

When you’re selling to a family member or friend, the best policy is to be upfront with everyone about your relationship. This means your buyer’s lender should know that you are already acquainted with one another. While your buyer probably won’t be denied a mortgage because of the relationship, not disclosing it is considered mortgage fraud. That’s a situation that neither of you will want to deal with.

Ask for pre-approval

Money is one of those things that can really wreak havoc on any relationship. It’s a touchy subject that not everyone feels comfortable discussing. But just because you’re selling your home to someone you know doesn’t mean you should skip over this important part. You need to feel confident that you’re selling to someone who can actually afford your home and will indeed qualify for a mortgage. So don’t be afraid to ask for pre-approval. This way, if they don’t get pre-approved, you aren’t wasting your time and can find another buyer more quickly.

Don’t waive the inspection

Transparency is key when you’re selling your home to someone you know. Don’t assume that they know everything there is to know about your home, even if they’ve spent tons of time there. Any problems that arise after the sale can potentially damage your relationship, and we assume nobody wants that. So you should insist that your buyer get a home inspection as part of the closing process. This will uncover any possible issues that your home may have so that they can be addressed before closing.

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How “Days on Market” Affects Your Home Sale

By Virtual Results

How “Days on Market” Affects Your Home Sale

When homebuyers are looking at homes for sale, they’re often checking things like the number of bedrooms or even the school district where the home is located. But some homebuyers (and their agents) are looking at less obvious things, too, such as the number of days a home has been on the market, known as “days on market”. Right now we’re in a seller’s market and homes have been selling faster than usual. That’s why some buyers may be hesitant to look at a home that’s been on the market for longer than others. Let’s take a look at why the number of days your home has been on the market can ultimately affect your sale.

“Days on market” defined

Let’s start by being clear about what “days on market” actually means. The days on market is the number of days that a home has been listed for sale before its status changes to pending. The more recently a home has been listed, the lower its days on market will be.

How long is too long?

Homes that just hit the market tend to get the most attention from buyers. But at what point does a home go from being considered “just listed” to being on the market for too long? According to a recent report from Realtor.com, the national average for days on market in May 2022 was 31 days. That’s six days faster than May 2021 and nine days faster than May 2020. In a nutshell, any home that has been listed for more than a month is going to raise suspicions in buyers and their agents. Of course, this also depends on your market and the price of your home. Luxury homes often sit on the market for a year or more until the right wealthy buyer comes along.

What to do if your days on market is high

If you’re selling your home and it’s been sitting on the market for longer than other homes in your area, then you’re no doubt wondering what to do. Is all lost at this point? Fortunately, it does not spell doom – as long as you adjust your strategy. In some cases, your agent may temporarily withdraw your listing from the market. They will then relist it, which resets your days on market and helps to get your listing in front of new buyers.

Other strategies for a languishing home

While relisting your home can work in some instances, your languishing home may need a different strategy to appeal to potential buyers. One thing to try is making improvements to your home. This could include cosmetic changes such as new paint, updated fixtures, or refurbished landscaping. Make sure to take new photos that reflect the changes you’ve made. You may also consider lowering your home’s listing price. In many cases, your home hasn’t sold because the asking price was too high. Real estate markets can change from week to week, and adjusting the price may be all it takes to entice potential buyers.

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Avoid These First-Time Buyer Mistakes

By Virtual Results

Avoid These First-Time Buyer Mistakes

Buying your first home is a major accomplishment. It can be so exciting to daydream about owning a home and getting started with your search. But as a first-time buyer, there are many pitfalls that you may experience if you don’t know what to look out for. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the most common mistakes to avoid as a first-time buyer. Follow these tips to ensure that your first experience with buying a home is as smooth and stress-free as possible!

Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage

The biggest mistake you can make is not getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your home search. We’re in a competitive market for buyers, and you won’t even get your foot in the door with a seller if you aren’t pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approval shows a seller that they can take your offer seriously and that you’re more likely to be able to close on a loan. Without that pre-approval, you’ll be wasting valuable time.

Not shopping around for a mortgage

While you’re getting your pre-approval, you should be shopping around for a lender. A home is just like any other purchase in that you should compare deals before deciding on which one to use. There are many kinds of lenders out there and many kinds of mortgages. When you shop around, you’re ensuring you get the best deal with the best rates and terms.

Not knowing your budget

As a first-time buyer, it’s easy to get caught up in your dreams of homeownership. But be wary of those pie-in-the-sky visions you have. Buying a house you can’t afford will cause you all kinds of stress and headaches down the line. Instead, find out exactly how much house you can afford so you can look at homes that comfortably fit within that budget.

Not checking your credit report

Another potential pitfall you need to avoid as a first-time buyer is forgetting to check your credit report before you apply for a home loan. Your lender is going to look carefully at your credit report to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan. Before you apply for a loan, get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. If you find any mistakes, then make sure they are removed before you begin your search. And if your credit score is lower than you’d like it to be, take steps to increase it before you apply. Aim for a credit score of at least 580, though it varies by lender. But know that the higher your score, the better loan terms you will get.

Getting caught up in your emotions

Finally, buying a home is an emotional decision, yes. After all, it’s where you’ll build a life and make important memories. But don’t forget it’s also a huge financial decision. A home is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, financial investments you’ll make in your lifetime. If you get caught up in your emotions, then you may end up paying too much. Try to keep those emotions in check. A trusted real estate agent can help to be your guide in these situations.

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What Homebuilders Want You To Know

By Virtual Results

What Homebuilders Want You To Know

Building your own home is a dream come true for many homebuyers. When you start from scratch you can create a home that specifically suits your needs. Watching it all come together can be very exciting. But the process can also be full of challenges and complications. If you’ve never built a new home before, then there can be a steep learning curve. That’s why it pays to educate yourself about the process. Here’s what today’s homebuilders want you to know to make the experience less stressful for everyone.

Prices are going up for everything

Inflation is hitting Americans hard right now. And it is affecting every part of our lives – including building homes. The cost of supplies has gone up for homebuilders, and those costs will be passed on to you as the buyer. In addition, labor costs are also higher than they’ve been in the past, especially because it’s harder for builders to find help. Homebuilders want you to know that they aren’t hiking prices because they can, they’re raising their costs because they have to. As a buyer, if you’re concerned about rising prices, then ask for an itemized list of expenses. Reputable builders will be happy to provide you with one.

Delays should be expected

We’ve all learned more than we ever thought possible about the supply chain. Supply chain delays have plagued every part of life recently, from lumber to baby formula. While your homebuilder will provide a timeframe for the construction of your home, you should expect that there will be some delays. Shortages are real and sometimes unexpected, and your homebuilder may need to wait for needed supplies. You can help things move more quickly by making decisions early.

Changes cost time and money

What may seem like a tiny change to you can be a big headache for your homebuilder. That’s why you should expect any changes to cost you both time and money. Builders are working off the plans that you made at the beginning, and changes to those plans can have a ripple effect. Plus, homebuilders are in the middle of a busy market and may not be able to address those changes in the timeframe that was originally intended. Homebuilders would like you to think in detail about how you’re going to live in your home before construction begins. This will help to ensure that your home build stays on budget and on schedule.

Quality matters

Finally, it can be tempting to find ways to cut costs for your home build, especially as costs are rising due to inflation. But be aware that sometimes when you cut costs you’re also sacrificing quality. It may be tempting to go out and buy your own fixtures, but you may inadvertently purchase something that won’t hold up over time. Your builder can provide information about what products are good buys – and which ones aren’t. Investing in higher-quality brands may cost you more upfront, but will save you money in the long run.

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Getting Ready For Your Big Move

By Virtual Results

Getting Ready For Your Big MoveSummer is moving season! In fact, did you know that July 31 is often the busiest moving day of the year? The real estate market is hotter than ever, and millions of Americans are packing up and moving on to newer and better things. If that’s you, then you’ll want to make sure you’re organized and ready for that big move. Moving can be stressful and challenging, and the better prepared you are, the easier your move will be. So follow these top tips for making your summer move a breeze!

Get rid of stuff

OK, first things first – it makes no sense to move things you no longer want or need. It will cost you both time and money. So do yourself a favor and declutter now before you hit the road. Not sure where to start? Begin by offloading duplicates and things you no longer use. Donate items that still have life in them. Remember – you can always replace items if you discover you need them down the line.

Start gathering supplies now

We promise you this – you will always need more boxes, tape, and other moving supplies than you think. So start gathering them now. Begin collecting cardboard and plastic boxes (or whatever you’re planning to use for your move). Keep all the newspaper, bubble wrap, and other packing supplies that come your way. Stock up on packing tape. It’s better to have some extras left over than to be scrambling to find supplies right at the end.

Go room by room

Another pro tip – don’t try to pack up your whole house in one weekend. Even if you work better under stress, this is a recipe for disaster. Instead, start early and take it room by room. Keep boxes and totes in each room, and dedicate some time every weekend to packing up those things you won’t be using between now and your move date. Having the majority of your packing done in the weeks leading up to your move will save you significant headaches during those last crucial few days.

Get your storage set up

If possible, start getting your storage set up in your new place. Know where you’ll be storing those things you won’t be immediately unpacking, and have a plan. This could mean setting up shelves in your garage or basement where boxes and totes can live until they find their permanent homes. If you have limited storage space, then you might want to consider renting a self storage unit.

Label all boxes

When you’re packing, label each box on all sides. Be sure to indicate what room the box should go to. This will help you and your movers on moving day and will save you time after moving day. You won’t need to haul boxes to the right places once you’re moved in – everything will already be in the appropriate room. Make sure to clearly indicate if there are fragile items in a box so that you and your movers know to be more careful with it. And once you’re in your new space, start unpacking the rooms you’ll use first, like the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. You can save the other spaces for later.

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Benefits of Owning a Home

By Virtual Results

Benefits of Owning a HomeOwning a home is the quintessential American Dream. Being a homeowner is a mark of success and offers so much more than simply providing you a place to live. In fact, there are many benefits of owning a home, some of which aren’t immediately apparent. If you’re considering making the leap into homeownership this year, then these are some of the advantages that you’ll get when you do.

Protects you from inflation

One of the lesser-known benefits of owning a home is that it can shield you from the effects of inflation. This is critically important right now as we’re all feeling the pinch of rising prices. When you rent a home during a period of inflation, your monthly rental prices will likely increase to keep up with inflation. But when you own a home and have a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payments will remain the same. That can make a huge difference in your monthly expenses. And if you’re in a financial crunch because of inflation, you can take advantage of your home equity to apply for a home equity loan or line of credit. These are usually easier to qualify for and have better terms than credit cards or personal loans.

Helps you grow your wealth

Owning a home is one of the best ways to grow wealth. Your home is a financial investment and is one of the best ways to improve your long-term financial health. As you build equity, you are building your net worth. In addition, although the real estate market may fluctuate in the short term, real estate always increases in value in the long term. The longer you own your home, the more wealth you can build.

Leads you to more community engagement

When you own your home, you have an investment in your community. That’s why homeowners tend to be more involved in their communities. When you engage more in your local area, you are helping to improve it, making it an even more attractive place to live. Homeowners often have a sense of pride not only in their own homes but also in their wider community. And that engagement can even help to boost home values in your neighborhood, making it a winning situation all around.

Gives you an emotional boost

Your home reflects who you are – your tastes, your likes and dislikes, and your priorities. Our homes are often our sanctuaries, which was even more obvious during the pandemic. They are our safe havens, our places of work, and where we relax and enjoy ourselves. Most homeowners have an emotional connection to their homes and derive pleasure from that ownership. You have the freedom to improve it, make changes as your tastes and needs change, and share it with those you love. Your home is not only a financial investment, but it’s a place where you make memories, start families, learn new skills, and become more of who you are.

The bottom line

Owning a home has so many financial, social, and emotional benefits. If you’re ready to begin your home search, then contact us today!

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Pricing Your Home for Sale

By Virtual Results

Pricing Your Home for SaleThere are many things to do when you’re preparing to sell your home. From cleaning and decluttering to painting and making repairs, your to-do list might seem a mile long. But one of the most important decisions to make when you’re selling is the listing price. In fact, one of the most common questions we get from sellers is, “How do I price my home?”. Let’s take a closer look at how to arrive at the best price for the current market.

Why the listing price is so important

First of all, we can’t stress enough how important it is to price your home correctly from the start. If you price too low, then you can potentially leave money on the table. Conversely, if you price too high, then your home may languish on the market. Finding just the right price is key to a quick sale for the greatest profit.

Look at comps

The first place to look when you’re deciding on your selling price is other recently sold homes in your neighborhood. Find homes that are similar to yours in terms of size, age, and amenities, often called “comps” or comparables in real estate. Look at those within a half-mile of your home that have listed and sold in the last three months to see what they ultimately sold for. This is your best starting point.

Get a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis)

When you work with a real estate agent to sell your home, they will give you a CMA, or Comparative Market Analysis, for your property. This is essentially a report that details the recent sales in your area. While you can certainly do your own research online as well, having a CMA from a reputable agent can give you more confidence when it comes to determining your selling price.

Look at expired listings

During your search for comps, you’ll also come across expired or withdrawn listings in your neighborhood. These can also provide valuable information to you. Look for clues as to why they may not have sold or why the owner took them off the market. In some cases, the home may have been listed above recent comps and was deemed too expensive by buyers.

Compare listing prices to final sales prices

It’s also a good idea to compare the listing prices to the final sales prices on recently sold homes in your area. Did they sell for listing or above? Or were there one or more price reductions along the way? By looking at another seller’s mistake you can help to avoid making the same one.

Consider online searches

Finally, when determining the listing price for your home, you should consider that most buyers begin their home searches online. Most of the popular online real estate websites have price ranges, so most buyers will choose a range that fits their budget. You’ll want to make sure that your home fits well within one of those ranges, or it may be excluded from the results. Buyers who could afford your home may not end up seeing your listing if you fall just outside their desired range.

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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.

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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.

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