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Achieving Your 2023 Real Estate Goals

By Virtual Results

Achieving Your 2023 Real Estate GoalsIs 2023 the year you plan to buy or sell a home? Then now is the perfect time to begin taking actionable steps to reach your real estate goals. As we look back on 2022 and look forward to 2023, start imagining what you want to achieve over the next 12 months. Whether you’re hoping to sell your home, buy a new home, begin investing in real estate, or make renovations to your existing home, it’s time to start planning. Here’s what you need to do to achieve your real estate goals in 2023.

Set specific goals

Any successful person will tell you that a crucial step in achieving what you desire is to set specific goals. Don’t get caught up in goals that are too vague, such as wanting to buy a home next year. Instead, set a more specific goal by drilling down further. For example, be specific about what kind of home you’d like to buy, where it will be located, what price you’re able to pay, and what your timeframe is. This gives you much more to work with and a way to track where you are on the journey to reaching your goal.

Visualize your success

If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Not only should you get specific about your goals, but you should visualize yourself reaching them. Visualize what you hope to achieve – whether it’s selling your home and handing the keys over to the new owners or completing a kitchen renovation and cooking your first meal in it. This helps you control your emotions and thoughts and empowers you to accomplish those things you envision.

Make a plan

Next up – make a plan. You need to create for yourself a roadmap to your goal. How will you achieve what you hope to accomplish? This is where you start to get very specific, creating a checklist of steps that will get you closer and closer to your goal. If you want to purchase a home, break it down into smaller steps. Start by ordering your credit report, getting your documents together for a mortgage, and shopping around for a loan. When you’re ready to begin your home search, make a list of your needs and wants, research neighborhoods, and start looking at homes online. Once you’re in escrow, your agent can help you understand all the steps needed to get to the closing table.

Be accountable

You’re the one in control of reaching your 2023 real estate goals. So take responsibility for your actions. Hold yourself accountable to help keep yourself on track. Nobody else is to blame if you don’t reach your goals. There may be obstacles and setbacks on the way but look for ways to solve those problems and forge ahead.

Celebrate

Finally, one important aspect of achieving your real estate goals that is often overlooked is celebrating your success. When you finally achieve your goal, take time to celebrate that achievement. You should even celebrate achieving the smaller goals on the way to your larger goal. This helps you cultivate gratitude and makes it easier to continue on your goal-achieving journey.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Saying Goodbye to Your Old Home

By Virtual Results

Saying Goodbye to Your Old Home2022 is coming to a close and this week we’re saying goodbye to a year that has certainly had its ups and downs. Some of you may also be saying goodbye to your old home at this time of year, too. While moving to a new home can be an exciting time, it can also be tough to leave a place where you’ve made many lasting memories. That’s why we recommend having a meaningful send-off for the place that has meant so much to you. Here are several ideas for saying goodbye to your old home and honoring the life that you lived there.

Have a “house cooling” party

You’ve certainly heard of housewarming parties and may have even thrown one when you first moved into your home. As a way to say goodbye to your home, we recommend hosting a house cooling party as well. This is an excellent way to empty your fridge and pantry. Invite your guests to share a favorite memory of something that happened in the house. You can even have a designated spot to put all the things you’re planning to donate. Have your guests look through the items to see if there’s anything they’d like to have.

Write a letter to the new owner

Another way that you can say goodbye to your home is to share some of your favorite things about it with the new owner. Write them a letter and leave it in the house for the new owners to find. Tell them about your favorite memories in the house and share with them information about the house, the neighbors, and the community. Tell them your favorite places to shop and eat and quirks about the house you discovered over the years. You can even let each family member write their own parts. Even America’s First Families do this!

Take something with you

Having something to take with you from your old home can help to ease the transition into your new place. Keep in mind that some things you cannot remove when you’re selling your home, such as custom window treatments or anything that’s permanently attached. Perhaps there is an extra brick from the walkway you can take to remember your old home by. You can also take cuttings from your favorite plants and bushes that you can later propagate and plant in your new home.

Have a candlelit farewell

On the night before moving day, take some time out to have a final candlelit farewell to your home. This is a thoughtful way to give thanks to some of your favorite places in your home. Light some candles and go room by room, sharing your most cherished memories of each space. Let everyone have their say and don’t rush. On moving day, do one last sweep through the house to say goodbye. Then, once you’re in the car on the way to your new home, share what you’re looking forward to in your new place. Saying goodbye is certainly sad, but it’s important to remember that you also have many new and wonderful memories to make in the years ahead.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Last Minute White Elephant Gifts

By Virtual Results

Last Minute White Elephant GiftsYou’re getting ready to head out the door to a holiday party when you remember – you forget to get a White Elephant gift for the gift exchange! Fortunately, we’ve got tons of ideas for last-minute White Elephant gifts that you can quickly put together or pick up on the way to the party. These are some of our favorites.

Lottery tickets

Who doesn’t want to win a million dollars? Lottery tickets are an easy and foolproof White Elephant gift idea. You can find them just about everywhere from gas stations to grocery stores. Just pop them in a festive gift bag and you’re done!

Gift cards

Gift cards are another great last-minute While Elephant gift choice. You can go the easy route and get Amazon gift cards, which nearly everyone will enjoy. Or you can get a little more creative and thoughtful by picking up a gift card for a local store or restaurant. The local shopowners definitely appreciate it when people in their community shop small over the holidays.

Gourmet treats

Another good option for a last-minute White Elephant gift is a selection of gourmet treats. Stop in your local grocery store for seasonal items like cookies or hot chocolate, or hit up a local candy shop for a box of artisanal chocolates. You can also choose items like fancy olive oil, gourmet cheese, and artisanal bread.

Beauty products

Depending on who you will be exchanging gifts with, you can also pick up some luxurious beauty products for your last-minute White Elephant gift. Some excellent choices include homemade soaps, bubble baths, scented lotions, or even nail polish.

Scented candles

One of the best things about the holidays is how good everything smells! The gift of good scents makes good sense as a White Elephant gift. Choose scented candles, fragranced room sprays, essential oils, or wax melts.

Sleepytime essentials

Give the gift of a good night’s sleep for your White Elephant exchange this year. Put together a basket of goodies including a silky sleep mask, scented pillow spray, and cozy socks or slippers.

Coffee and tea

Who doesn’t love a strong cup of coffee in the morning, or a nice mug of herbal tea before bed? Treat your giftee to a selection of gourmet flavored coffees or pick up a variety of delicious herbal teas they can sample. You can make it even more special by adding a cute mug to the package.

Portable phone charger

Who couldn’t use another phone charger – especially one you can use on the go? Portable phone chargers are extremely useful and help to extend how long you can use your phone when you’re out and about. You’ll be a hero with this one!

Games

Does your crowd like to host regular game nights? Then pick up a new board or card game on the way to the party.

2023 calendar

For those who want a more old-school gift, then a 2023 calendar can be a sure thing. Choose a wall calendar with a fun theme or a desk calendar so they can learn a new fact every day of the year.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Celebrating the Holidays in Your New Home

By Virtual Results

Celebrating the Holidays in Your New Home

Relaxing at home is a favorite tradition for many during the holiday season. Eating delicious food, playing games, watching movies, and making memories are all high on the to-do list this time of year. But for those who have recently moved into new homes, the holidays can feel a little disorienting as you’re trying to get settled. That’s why we’re offering these great tips for how to celebrate the holidays in your new home. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy the season and create traditions that you’ll treasure for many years to come!

Try some new decorations

If you’re still in the middle of unpacking, then you may not even know where those boxes of holiday decorations are. So why not try something new? You don’t need to go overboard – we know everyone is watching their budget right now. But a new wreath for the front door or easy homemade paper ornaments for the tree can be fun. Let the kids get in on it by having them pick out or make some new decorations, too.

Participate in holiday events in your new neighborhood

If you’ve moved to a new neighborhood, then now is a great time to get out and explore. Chances are there are holiday festivities happening such as plays, concerts, and parties that you can join. Driving around to look at neighbors’ holiday decorations is also a fun way to get to know your new community.

Meet your new neighbors

It’s also a great time of the year to meet your new neighbors. You can put together a small plate of holiday cookies and use it as an excuse to introduce yourself to the people in your community. If you feel comfortable doing so, then you can also invite some of your new neighbors over for cookies or cocktails. Ask them about fun events happening around town for the holidays to find out what’s popular in your area.

Send out holiday cards

We all love receiving holiday cards in the mail this time of year. Use this opportunity to send out holiday cards of your own that announce your new home and address to your friends and loved ones. Everyone will appreciate hearing about your recent move and it’s a great way to feel connected to those you love.

Volunteer

It’s not unusual to feel a little blue this time of year, especially if you’re celebrating the holidays in a new town. One of the best ways to beat the holiday blues is to volunteer. Helping others not only supports those in need, but it can also give your mental health a boost. Look for nonprofits in your area that need volunteers, such as the local homeless shelter or animal sanctuary.

Start a new tradition

Finally, one of the easiest ways to celebrate the holidays in your new home is to start a new tradition. Whether it’s taking a long family walk after a holiday meal or drying sliced oranges to use as decorations, starting a new tradition that you can continue year after year will make your new house feel like home in no time.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Save on Your Heating Costs

By Virtual Results

Save on Your Heating CostsIf inflation has put a chill in your heart, then you’re probably worried that it may put a chill in your home this year, too. Rising costs across the board mean less money to spend on energy this winter. But don’t worry – you don’t need to fear that you’ll have icicles hanging from your nose in the coming months. There are ways that you can cut your heating costs without sacrificing your warmth and comfort. Here’s what you need to know.

Use warm accessories

It’s time to change out your warm-weather accessories for their cold-weather counterparts. This isn’t just to give your home a more seasonal vibe. It helps to keep you warm, too. Swap out light sheets for flannel, use rugs on the floor, and change your window treatments for heavier curtains. Add blankets to your sofa to keep warm while binging Hallmark holiday movies.

Use curtains wisely

Adding heavy curtains to your windows will help to keep out cold drafts, especially at night. But during the day, open your curtains to let in as much sunshine as possible. This will help to naturally warm your living spaces.

Fine-tune your thermostat

If you haven’t already gotten on the programmable thermostat bandwagon, then this is your year to do it. Fine-tuning your thermostat can help to save you big on your energy bill. Keep the house at a colder temperature when you’re out during the day and when you’re sleeping at night. A programmable or smart thermostat will automate the whole process for you so you never forget.

Find and seal air leaks

Check your home for evidence of air leaks. Look at windows, doors, light fixtures, outlets, switches, walls, and ceilings for holes or gaps. If you’re not sure there’s a leak, then light a candle and hold it near the area. If the flame flickers, then you most likely have a leak. When you do find leaks, fill them with caulk or weather stripping.

Don’t heat unused rooms

There’s a good chance you have rooms in your house that you don’t use every day. This can include guest bedrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms. Shut the door to rooms you are not using. This will allow the heat to stay in the room so that your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard.

Cook at home

If you’re looking for a reason to eat more dinners at home, then think of it as a way to save on your heating costs. When you turn on the oven, it helps to warm up your home. Once you’re done using the oven and have turned it off, you can prop open the door to let that heat warm the kitchen. Just be sure there aren’t any kids nearby whose curious hands might get burned.

Reverse your ceiling fans

Finally, you know that ceiling fans can help to keep you cool in the summer. But did you know they can also help to keep you warm in winter? Reverse the spin of the blades so they are rotating clockwise. This will help move trapped warm air at the top of the room back down to the floor.

Compliments of Virtual Results

2023 Home Design Trends

By Virtual Results

2023 Home Design Trends

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to begin thinking about what the New Year has in store. If you’re buying or selling a home – or even if you just want to give your home a style refresh – then it’s important to know what design trends the experts are forecasting. We’ve scoured the internet to get an idea of what’s ahead for our homes in 2023 and have chosen some of our favorites.

Wellness

Wellness has been top-of-mind since the pandemic began in 2020. And experts are forecasting that wellness will continue to be a top priority when it comes to our homes. Home designs in 2023 will emphasize slowing down and embracing mindfulness to create a peaceful and healthier home.

Natural elements

In 2023, we will also incorporate even more natural elements into our homes. Color schemes will be influenced by those found in nature, such as soft greens and warm browns. Furniture and decor will also come from nature, such as live-edge tables, baskets, and plants.

Art Deco

Experts are also predicting that we’ll embrace Art Deco design in 2023. It’s been 100 years since the Roaring 20s and it’s about time the design of that era made a comeback. While minimalism has been a favorite of designers for a long time, many will start including more decorative elements. Look for bright colors, geometric patterns, and symmetrical designs and layouts.

Old is new

Sustainability is on the minds of many homeowners, and that will be reflected in how we choose to decorate and furnish our living spaces in 2023. More people will be turning toward secondhand furniture or beloved family heirlooms that evoke special memories. With inflation fears escalating, more homeowners and designers will be turning to pieces from thrift and consignment stores to score a great deal.

Organization

Thanks to Marie Kondo, we all still love to organize and that trend will continue into 2023. While some people have returned to the office, many of us are still working from home. When you spend so much time in your living space, it’s important to keep it clean and organized. We’ll be turning away from open shelves and cabinets with glass doors in a desire to eliminate visual clutter.

Designer laundry rooms

Laundry rooms are no longer dark and dingy dungeons lurking in the basement. They are now being embraced as rooms that are both functional and beautiful. More homes will have designer laundry rooms that echo the aesthetic found in the rest of the home.

Round edges

Round edges and curves will also make a comeback in 2023. Curved sofas, egg chairs, round rugs, and moon-shaped hardware will become more common. Overall, we’ll see a softening of living spaces and a departure from the straight-line modern aesthetic that has been popular in recent years.

Gold colors

If 2023 were a color, then it would be gold. Experts are predicting that soft golden hues will be hugely popular in the coming year and will complement traditional neutral hues. You’ll find the color on everything from furniture to lighting fixtures to wallpaper.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Choosing Comps

By Virtual Results

Choosing Comps

One of the most critical decisions facing all home sellers is how to price your home. When you price your home correctly from the start you avoid leaving money on the table or having your home languish on the market. But how do you determine the best selling price for your home? That’s where comps come in. Let’s take a closer look at what comps are and how to choose comps for your home sale.

What are comps?

Comps are a way to help sellers and their agents figure out the best selling price for a home. Short for “comparables”, comps are recently sold homes in your neighborhood with similar features to yours. By finding comps in your area, you can feel more confident that you’re listing at the right price. But when looking for comps, you must compare apples to apples. The following items are those that you should take into consideration when finding comparable homes to yours.

Location

Look for homes that are in the same location as yours. Typically, this means within a half-mile radius of your home. Neighborhoods and their amenities certainly play into the value of a home, so finding a home nearby to compare is essential.

Size

Size is also important when finding comps. If the home you are selling is 1,500 square feet, then you will want to look for homes that are also around 1,500 square feet in size.

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms

While size contributes greatly to a home’s value, so do the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Often, though, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is more important than the overall square footage of the house. For this reason, look for homes that have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms as yours. Buyers are generally more interested in the functionality and utility of a space than its overall size.

Other details

While the three characteristics above are often the most important details when finding comps, other details can also contribute to a home’s value. For example, if your home has an amazing view of the surrounding landscape, then you will want to find comps that also have a great view. If your home sits on a large and private lot, then you’ll want to look at comps that also offer the same. In addition, if you’re selling a townhouse or a condo, then you’ll want to compare it with similar units. This means if you’re selling an interior unit you’ll want to compare it with other interior units because of fewer windows or greater noise from other homes.

How do you find comps?

Finally, when you’re ready to research comps in your area, start by searching online for recently sold homes in the neighborhood. Look for those that are similar in size, condition, and amenities as outlined above. In addition, your real estate agent can offer valuable advice when it comes to determining comps. They can access the MLS (multiple listing service) for more comprehensive information and also rely on their knowledge and expertise of the local market.

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4 Tips for Applying for a Mortgage

By Virtual Results

4 Tips for Applying for a Mortgage

Does the thought of applying for a mortgage give you the jitters? Mortgage rates have been rising steadily over the last few months, and it can be a little intimidating to begin applying for a home loan. After all, purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime (not that we’re trying to add to the pressure). However, if you go into the process with a little knowledge, then the whole thing will be much less scary. If you’re ready to apply for a mortgage, then here are four tips you should follow.

Get a copy of your credit report

One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success when applying for a mortgage is to order your credit report. We recommend getting a copy of your report at least six months before you begin your search. This allows you to check your report for errors and have them corrected before applying. It also lets you know what your credit score is. Lenders will look closely at your credit history and score when determining if you qualify for a loan. The better they are, the more likely you’ll get a deal you like.

Get your paperwork together

Applying for a mortgage requires and generates a lot of paperwork. You will feel less stressed when applying if you get your paperwork together beforehand. Your lender will want to go over your finances with a fine-tooth comb. The types of documents that they will request include your bank statements and tax returns so they can get a good picture of your financial situation. Have them organized and easy to access before you apply.

Get smart about your options

As with any large purchase, you will want to shop around for the best deal. Different lenders offer different types of loans, each with its own rates and terms. Some homebuyers opt for a conventional loan which usually requires a down payment of at least 20 percent. But there are other options out there, especially if you don’t have that much saved for a down payment. Look into government-backed loans such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans as well. Shopping around could save you hundreds of dollars a month in payments.

Get pre-approved

Once you’ve gotten your credit report squared away, organized your paperwork, and explored your loan options, it’s time to get pre-approved. In today’s market, you must get pre-approved by your lender before you shop for a home. Getting pre-approved gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford. This saves you time and heartache by allowing you to focus your efforts on homes within your budget. Pre-approval also signals to a seller that you’re a serious buyer and you’re likely to make it to the closing table. While the housing market is shifting away from the extreme seller’s market of the pandemic, there is still competition from other buyers out there. Getting pre-approved will make your offer stand out.

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Budget Holiday Decorating

By Virtual Results

We’re all looking for ways to economize this year. As we continue to weather the effects of inflation, many of us are trying to save money this holiday season. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice any holiday cheer. In fact, you can make your home look extra-festive this time of year without spending a lot of money. Here are some fun ideas for decorating your home for the holidays on a budget.

Decorate with greeting cards

If you’re anything like us, then you receive an avalanche of greeting cards in the mail this time of year. Many of them are so beautiful or feature lovely photos of your friends and loved ones. Why not turn them into a gorgeous – and free – display? Hang them on a string along your mantle or create a collage on the back of a door. It will keep you smiling all season long.

Display wrapped gifts

Why not get a head start on your holiday wrapping this year? If you do, then you can set out your beautiful packages to create a lovely holiday display. Of course, you can stack them under your Christmas tree. But you can also stack them next to the front door or tuck them beneath a bar cart for something a little different.

Make your own holiday ornaments

If you don’t have enough ornaments to fill out your Christmas tree, don’t worry. You can easily make beautiful ornaments with things you already have on hand. Slice and dry a few oranges and hang them from your tree. Or make paper ornaments with leftover scraps of wrapping paper. You can also string small items together to make a garland, such as cranberries, popcorn, pom poms, or any other festive bits and bobs you have laying around.

Hang ornaments in other places

On the other hand, if you have too many ornaments to fit on your tree, then hang them in other places around your home. We love hanging some of our favorite ornaments from ribbons in our windows. You can also hang them in doorways, along stairwells, or even from a chandelier.

Add a touch of nature

Mother Nature is the ultimate decorator, and you can find many things in your own backyard that you can use for decorations. Of course, pine cones are a classic holiday decoration. Place them in bowls on a table or string small ones together to make a garland. Use a selection of evergreen branches in a vase for a pretty centerpiece that will cost you nothing to make. You can even use a large bunch of evergreen branches in a vase in place of your tree this year.

Upcycle candle holders

No need to buy fancy holiday-themed candle holders when you can easily use what you already have at home. Fill the bottom of a mason jar or other clear glass jar with Epsom salt and place a tea light or votive candle inside. Or turn wine glasses upside down and place tea lights on top to create a stunning centerpiece for your holiday table.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Selling Your Home During the Holidays

By Virtual Results

Selling Your Home During the HolidaysWhile the holiday season is not the busiest time of year in the real estate market, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to sell your home. In fact, when you sell between November and January you’re likely to encounter very motivated buyers. You can also make your home look especially inviting during the holiday season, making it more attractive to buyers. But there are some things you should know to ensure a successful sale. Here’s what needs to be on your radar when you’re selling your home during the holidays.

Keep the decorations simple

Decking the halls is one of the best parts of the holiday season. And it can make your home look warm, inviting, and cheerful to prospective buyers. But don’t go overboard. Keep your decorations simple this year. Opt for decor that is more “winter” in nature as opposed to religious. And it’s OK to put up a Christmas tree, but make sure it’s the right size for the room. A very large tree can make your room look cramped, so opt for something smaller this year.

Focus on your curb appeal

The holiday season is a great time to focus on your curb appeal. But just like your indoor decorations, you should also keep your outdoor display on the simple side. Festive white string lights can make your home look cozy. Add a winter wreath to your front door. And be sure to keep the yard clean and free of debris. If needed, paint your front door and clean the gutters.

Crank up the heat

Make visiting buyers feel warm and cozy by cranking up the heat during a showing. This is especially important in cold climates. If you have a fireplace, then have a fire going during their tour. Play soft jazz or classical music and leave out some delicious holiday treats to make your home feel like an escape from the cold outside.

Price it correctly

The real estate market has been in a state of flux since interest rates have risen in the last few months. Home buyers have more negotiating room than they did earlier this year, and you will need to keep that in mind if you are selling. Work with your agent to find the right selling price for your home. They have the knowledge and experience to help you determine what that listing price should be.

Find motivated buyers

As we said above, those that are house-hunting during the holidays are probably more motivated than buyers are at other times of the year. Work with your agent to target buyers who may be on a deadline. Buyers looking for homes this time of year include those relocating for work, investors who want to hit tax deadlines, and even military personnel if your home is near a military base.

Find time to enjoy yourself

Finally, selling a home can be stressful. That’s why we recommend giving yourself time to just enjoy the holiday season. Make sure to plan times when you can be with family and friends to make the most of this time of year.

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