Posts for Syndication

Make a Great First Impression When Selling

By Virtual Results

Make a Great First Impression When Selling

First impressions really do matter. Most potential buyers will know within a few moments whether or not they are interested in your house. So what should you do when you have only seconds to impress? Here are some of the best tips we’ve discovered that will help you make a great first impression when you’re selling your home.

Take a photo

The first thing that most buyers will see is an online photo of your home. Before you do anything, take a photo of your home’s exterior. What do you see? Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Is this a home I would like to see more of? Or does it leave something to be desired? By taking a photo, you can get a good sense of where you’re starting from and where you need to go.

Spruce up the exterior

Once you’ve taken that photo, it’s time to get to work on your home’s exterior. It’s usually the first picture that buyers will see, and it’s the first thing they see when they pull up to the curb for a showing. The exterior needs to be inviting. Clean up the yard and trim trees and bushes. Fix any broken fences, tricky steps, or burned-out lights. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint. Invest in some colorful plants to place around the front door. A small investment of time and money can pay off exponentially.

Clean the inside

Now that you’ve spruced up the exterior, it’s time to focus on the interior. Declutter and depersonalize every room. Take time to deep clean the entire house. If necessary, hire a professional cleaning service if you’re not feeling up to the task. The inside needs to sparkle!

Stage like a pro

After you’ve cleaned up the inside, it’s time to stage it like a pro. No matter what your personal tastes are, you need to start thinking like a buyer. Potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home. Paint your rooms neutral colors and use tasteful furnishings. Arrange rooms so that it’s obvious what it is used for. Set the dining room table. Open all the curtains and turn on all the lights. You want to make the house feel as bright and spacious as possible.

Appeal to the senses

Don’t just limit your staging to what you can see. Buyers will experience your home with all their senses. Do a smell test. Do you smell anything funky, like pet odors? Make sure to eliminate foul odors and replace them with something pleasing, such as flowers or baking cookies. Play some soft music. Add soft blankets to beds and couches. Make the interior comfortable and inviting.

Use high quality photos

Finally, once you’ve spruced up both the interior and exterior, take high-quality photos for your listing. Make sure to highlight any of the amenities, such as a great back porch or a basement entertainment room. Use plenty of light and capture each room from different angles. Those photos will help potential buyers decide whether or not they want to see your home in person. Investing in good photos is a must.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Why You Should Buy Before the End of the Year

By Virtual Results

Why You Should Buy Before the End of the YearAre you considering putting your house hunting on hold until after the New Year? While it may seem like the end of the year is not a great time to buy a home, it can have many benefits. In fact, now can be an excellent time to get a great deal on a house. Here are seven reasons why you should buy a home before the end of the year.

Less competition

Spring and summer are typically the busiest seasons in the real estate market. Families with school-age children will often move in the summer to coincide with the school year. For this reason, you’ll find there is much less competition in the housing market. Your offer on a home is more likely to be accepted when there are fewer potential buyers putting in bids.

More time to decide

When you have fewer buyers to compete with, then you won’t have to make an immediate decision on a home. In competitive markets, it’s important to move quickly. But at the end of the year, you can take a little more time to make your decision. If you need to sleep on it, then you have the luxury now to do that.

Motivated sellers

When there are fewer buyers in the market it can mean that sellers are more motivated. This is especially true if a seller wants to close on a deal before the end of the year. You’re more likely to find a motivated seller who is willing to negotiate when you’re house hunting at this time of year.

Better prices

When there are motivated sellers, you’re more likely to get a great deal on a home. At this time of year, you’ll find homes that have been on the market all summer without an offer. This could mean that the home was overpriced to begin with. You’ll be in a good position to negotiate with the seller, who will be more open to your offer.

Easier to hire movers

During the busy summer months, you may need to book a moving company several weeks in advance. You’ll also be paying a premium if you’re moving at the end of the month. But if you buy a home at the end of the year, there will be more movers available. It will be easier to hire a moving company on short notice. And you’ll probably get a price break since it’s a slower season for movers.

Easier to hire contractors

Just as with movers, it’s easier to hire contractors during this time of year. This includes inspectors, plumbers, electricians and roofers. You’ll have an easier time getting on their schedule during their slow season. They will also often complete the work more quickly since there are fewer projects competing for their attention.

More builder incentives

Finally, if you’re buying a new home, then the end of the year can also be a great time for you to save money. Builders often offer incentives at this time year. This can include credit towards upgrades, paid closing costs, or even discounts on the asking price.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Boosting Your Fall Curb Appeal

By Virtual Results

Boosting Your Fall Curb Appeal

Fall is here, and there’s no better time to make your home’s exterior look amazing! Boosting your curb appeal is an easy way to make your home more attractive to potential buyers. By sprucing up your home’s exterior, it makes a great first impression and entices buyers to want to see more. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

Clean it up

First things first – it’s time to clean up your yard. Trim trees and bushes and clean up all the fallen leaves. Remove dead or dying plants from your garden beds. Make sure your driveway and all walkways are free of debris. If needed, use a power-washer to clean sidewalks, driveways, and porches. And don’t forget the gutters! Potential buyers will be looking at everything, including the roof and gutters. If you do nothing else to your home’s exterior, then make sure it is at least cleaned up.

Add colorful flowers

Nothing says “fall” quite like a big pot of mums, and right now they can be purchased at just about every home improvement store or garden center. You don’t need to invest much to make a big impact. A few potted mums in seasonal decorative pots placed around your garden or on your front porch will make your home look cozy and inviting. Just be sure to keep them watered and deadhead any spent flowers to keep them looking fresh.

Paint

There is nothing more refreshing than a new coat of paint. Consider painting your front door to add a pop of color to your home’s exterior. Painting your front door is quick and inexpensive, and can really add to your curb appeal. While you’re at it, you might also paint your mailbox or invest in a new one. If your home’s trim is looking a little shabby, now is also the time to refresh it with a new coat of paint. A weekend’s worth of work can really pay off in the long run.

Add seasonal decorations

Adding some seasonal decorations to your front porch is a great way to add fall curb appeal. Consider placing a few pumpkins or gourds around your entryway, and add a colorful wreath to your front door. Switch out your welcome mat for something seasonal. Just be mindful of not going overboard. Less is more when using seasonal decorations. You should also avoid using Halloween decorations that may turn some buyers off. When in doubt, leave it out.

Invest in good lighting

Fall means shorter and even darker days. When showing your home, you want there to be as much light as possible – even on the outside. This is especially true if you’re showing your house after it gets dark. Make sure all outdoor lighting is working properly and don’t be afraid to turn those lights on. Consider investing in a new porch light, and add lighting to any area of your yard that may be too dark. Motion-sensing lights not only help to keep your yard illuminated, but they are also a great crime deterrent.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Weatherize Your Windows

By Virtual Results

Weatherize Your WindowsColder weather is just around the corner. Are your windows ready to keep out the chill? Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or you’ve been in your current home for years, it’s a good idea to prepare your windows for dropping temperatures. Here are some easy solutions to weatherize your windows during colder months.

Check for leaks

First, you need to know exactly what you’re working with before you begin. Start by visually examining the inside and outside of windows for missing caulk and obvious gaps. This will give you a big clue about where you’ll find the worst leaks. Once you’ve completed a visual inspection, then move on to a smoke test. On a windy day, close all the windows and doors in the house. Then pass a burning incense stick around the perimeter of each window. You’ll be able to clearly tell where your windows are leaking by how the smoke behaves. If the smoke starts blowing inward, then you’ll know you have a leak.

Replace caulk

Anywhere you’ve discovered missing or damaged caulk around a window’s exterior should be replaced. Remove all the old caulk and any peeling paint. Clean the area thoroughly with soap and warm water and wipe the area dry. Then apply a thin bead of caulk around the outside. Be sure to choose caulk that is appropriate for exterior use.

Install weather stripping

If there are leaks between the window and the frame, then weather stripping can help. Adhesive-backed weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to apply. Most weather stripping will last between one and three years, which makes it a very affordable option.

Add plastic film

One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to weatherize your windows is with plastic film. You can find this product at any home improvement store. To install, cut a piece of the plastic to the size of the window and secure with tape. Then use a hair dryer to shrink the film and smooth out any wrinkles. If you really want to get serious with this solution, then add a layer of bubble wrap to the window before you secure the plastic film. This is great for windows you don’t necessarily need to see out of, like basement or attic windows.

Install rigid foam

If you want to take your window insulation to the next level, then try using rigid foam attached to 3/8-inch drywall. This is also a good solution for basement and attic windows for the winter months. Cut each piece to fit tightly within each window frame. They should stay in place without having to secure them, and they are easy to remove when warm weather returns.

Use draft snakes

Finally, if you are looking for a truly thrifty solution to your window leaks, then try using draft snakes. You can buy them online or easily make them yourself using fabric and rice. Simply place these draft snakes on your windowsills, and they will stop the cold air from entering your home. They’ll last for years and can even be made to match your décor.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Selling Your Luxury Home

By Virtual Results

Selling Your Luxury HomeYou’ve made a substantial investment in your luxury home. When it’s time to sell, you want the process to run smoothly. Selling a luxury home presents it own particular challenges, and it’s important to understand them before putting your home on the market. If you’re getting ready to sell your luxury home, then follow these tips to ensure a successful sale.

Set the right price

Perhaps the most important part of selling a luxury home is pricing it correctly from the beginning. Homes that are not priced appropriately can languish on the market. But unlike traditional homes, luxury homes can be more difficult to price. Since many luxury homes are unique or even one-of-a-kind, it can be difficult to find local comps. Working with a professional real estate agent who is an expert in the local luxury market will ensure that your home is priced right from the start.

Use high-quality photos and videos

Most buyers begin their home search online. For this reason it is essential that you use high-quality photos and videos in your luxury home listing. Buyers will want to get a good idea of what to expect when visiting your home before scheduling an appointment. High-quality videos will give them an even better idea of what makes your home special.

Staging is key

When selling a luxury home, you want the buyers to imagine what it will be like to live there. This is why staging is so important. By staging your home, you can highlight all the impressive amenities that make your home truly unique. This could include a formal dining room with a beautifully set table or an outdoor entertaining area that is ready for a party. Help potential buyers by showing them exactly how to use each space to maximum effect.

Invest in marketing

A simple MLS listing is not going to be sufficient to market your luxury home. Most luxury buyers aren’t going to be looking in the typical places. This means you will most likely need to invest in quality materials to find just the right buyer.

Offer perks

Does your home include a custom-made dining table that is absolutely perfect for the room? Or maybe your art collection helps to elevate the living space to another level? Don’t be afraid to throw in some of these items to sweeten the deal. You can set your home apart from others by offering these kinds of perks. Be open to requests from potential buyers to include some of your home’s contents in order to close the deal.

Have patience

When you’re selling a luxury home, you need to have patience. There are fewer buyers for luxury properties, so be aware that it can take time to find the right one. But if you follow the tips outlined above, you will attract the right buyer more quickly and be on your way to a successful closing.

Work with an expert agent

One of the best decisions you can make when selling a luxury home is to work with an agent who is an expert in selling luxury properties. They will have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the process and negotiate a deal that will make both you and the buyer happy.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

By Virtual Results

Fall Home Maintenance ChecklistIt’s official – fall is here! Not only does that mean it’s time for pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, but it’s also time for fall home maintenance. With the weather changing from hot to cool, it’s time to prep your home for the fall and winter seasons. Taking care of routine maintenance helps ensure you don’t face more serious problems down the line. Here’s the rundown of those tasks you should complete in the coming weeks.

Clean the gutters

Nobody likes to clean the gutters. But we’re willing to bet you’d like a damaged roof and a leaky basement even less. Now is the time to get up on a ladder and clean out those gutters. Depending on how many trees you have in your yard, this may be a task you need to complete a couple of times over the fall season.

Attend to the yard

In addition to cleaning the gutters, it’s also time to attend to the yard. Prune trees and shrubs and clean up fallen leaves. If possible, compost your leaves for use in garden beds. It’s also time to aerate, fertilize and reseed your lawn so that it’s lush and green in the spring.

Drain garden hoses

If you don’t drain garden hoses, water can become trapped inside. If you live in an area where you can expect below freezing temperatures, this could cause that trapped water to freeze and expand. Come spring, you’ll need to buy new hoses. Stretch them out on a slope until they’re dry and then store them over the winter.

Store outdoor furniture

Before the chill really sets in, store or cover your outdoor furniture. This will ensure that you can use them for many more springs and summers to come.

Seal leaks

Take a walk around your home and use exterior caulk to seal any cracks around windows and doorframes, between siding and trim, and where wires or pipes enter your home. Not only does this prevent moisture from getting into your walls, but it also saves energy.

Check the fireplace

If you have a fireplace, then you know how much use it gets in the cooler months. Make sure the damper works properly. Hire a professional to clean creosote buildup before you begin using your fireplace.

Check your heating system

The beginning of fall is the perfect time to change your furnace filter. You should also consider having a professional come out to check your system. It’s better to discover an issue early rather than having an expensive repair down the line.

Check your detectors

With fireplaces, furnaces, and space heaters running in your home, you need to make sure all your detectors are working properly. This includes fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the batteries and replace as necessary. If you don’t already have one, purchase a fire extinguisher to have on hand just in case.

Test cold weather equipment

Finally, if you live in an area where you can expect snow, then take the time to test your snow blower. It’s much easier to have it repaired now than when there are six inches of snow on the ground and you can’t get out of your driveway.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Staying Safe When Selling Your Home

By Virtual Results

As a seller, you spend quite a bit of time preparing your home for the market. From decluttering and depersonalizing to making repairs and upgrades, you have plenty to do. But don’t forget to stay vigilant once you begin showing your home to potential buyers. It’s important to keep security in mind when strangers will be touring your home while you are away. Here’s what you need to know to keep your home and belongings safe when you’re selling.

Buyers must make an appointment

That “For Sale” sign in your front yard is a great way to let potential buyers know that your home is on the market. But beware of anyone who knocks on your front door without an appointment. While it may be tempting to let them in to look around – don’t. Instead, share your agent’s contact information so they can call and schedule an appointment.

Keep valuables in a safe place

When potential buyers are viewing your home, they are going to be opening closet doors and cabinet drawers. Don’t keep anything valuable in an unsecured location. This includes jewelry, electronics, credit cards, and keys. The best place to store your valuables is in a locked safe. If you don’t have one, then remove these items from your home when you have a showing.

Remove medication

As we mentioned, buyers will be looking at every square inch of your home. Unfortunately, some less-that-honest buyers might take this opportunity to look in your medicine cabinet. If you have any prescription medications, remove them from bathrooms, kitchens, or anywhere else you typically store them. They should also be locked in a safe or taken with you when showing the house.

Hide personal information

Identity theft is becoming more and more common. Don’t make it easy for would-be thieves to steal your personal information. Remove bills, mail, smartphones, and tablets from the premises. Also be sure to password-protect any computers that will be left in the home.

Take your pets with you

If you have pets, then you should ensure they are not at the house when potential buyers visit. Even if your pet is the friendliest on the block, you have no idea how they will react to strangers in your home when you aren’t there. You don’t want to be held liable should your pet attack any visitors in your home.

Install security cameras

If you are truly concerned about the safety of your home while it’s on the market, then you might consider installing security cameras. There are now many affordable home security systems on the market that you can easily install yourself. It can add an extra layer of protection for you and provide you with some peace of mind.

Keep the door locked

Even if you’re leaving a few minutes before the house is shown, you should lock the door. Any agent coming to your home will know how to access the property. Don’t leave yourself open to theft.

Talk with your agent

If you are concerned about the safety of your home when selling, then talk with your real estate agent. Experienced agents will have great tips and advice for keeping your home and valuables protected during the sales process.

Compliments of Virtual Results

VA Loans Explained

By Virtual Results

VA Loans Explained

Homebuyers have many choices when it comes to home loans. It can be tough to determine which one is right for you. But if you’re a veteran, then a VA loan may be just the ticket. Although the process of applying and qualifying for a VA loan may seem a little daunting, it can certainly be worth the trouble. If you’re interested in learning more about VA loans, read on.

What is a VA loan?

A VA loan is a type of mortgage that is issued by a private lender. However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs partially backs this type of loan. This means that the government will repay part of your loan should you default. Since lenders assume less risk with this type of loan, it requires no down payment and offers better interest rates and terms than a conventional loan.

Who qualifies for a VA loan?

VA loans are available to active duty service members, veterans, and widows of military spouses. However, be aware that VA loans may only be used for a borrower’s primary residence. You cannot use a VA loan to purchase a second home or investment property. They are typically used for homes that are move-in ready.

What are the eligibility requirements?

In order to qualify for this kind of loan, you must meet specific requirements. These include:

  • You must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active service during a time of war.
  • You must have served at least 181 days of active service during times of peace.
  • Have served for at least six years as an active member of the National Reserves or National Guard.
  • Have been married to a service member who died in the line of duty or because of a disability related to their service.

How much does the government guarantee?

As of 2019, the VA guarantees up to 25 percent of the amount of the loan, up to $121,087. That equates to a loan of $484,350. In areas where housing costs are significantly higher, the threshold is up to $726,525. The VA will not guarantee any amount that exceeds those thresholds.

Are there fees?

While a VA loan does not require you to have mortgage insurance, you day have to pay a mandatory fee. The fee can change depending on many factors, including the type of service and whether or not you make a down payment. This fee is collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover losses and ensure the continuation of the program for many generations. However, there is no pre-payment penalty should you pay off the loan early, which can save you a significant amount of interest over the life of the loan.

What about past bankruptcies or foreclosures?

If you’ve had a foreclosure or bankruptcy in the past, it does not mean you cannot qualify for a VA loan. Even if your foreclosure was for a previous VA loan, it does not hinder your ability to utilize this benefit again.

What if I have questions?

If you have any more questions about the VA loan program, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or talk to a professional real estate agent in your area.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Attracting Millennial Home Buyers

By Virtual Results

Attracting Millennial Home BuyersWould you be surprised to learn that 42 percent of new home loans are for millennial buyers? While most people think that young adults aren’t active in the real estate market, they are purchasing homes and they make up a large share of potential buyers. If you’re not marketing your home to these young buyers, you could be missing out. Here are some tips for attracting millennial buyers to your home for sale.

Use awesome photos

Millennials are the Internet generation. They are more virtually connected than any other generation before them. It makes sense then that nine out of 10 millennial homebuyers begin their searches online. If you want your home to stand out from the rest, you need high-quality photos. These pictures will be the first things that potential buyers see when searching for homes online.

Market the home’s tech features

Millennial buyers are interested in homes that are both environmentally friendly and technologically modern. This includes solar energy, energy-efficient appliances, smart thermostats, and other smart devices. Make sure you mention all these features in your listing, and show how they can save the buyer money over time.

Stage a home office

More and more people are working remotely – especially millennials. Many millennial buyers are looking for homes that have room for a home office space. If you have a spare bedroom in your home for sale, considering staging it like a home office. Even if you don’t have a dedicated room, you can create an area that is conducive for work. This could include a corner of the living room, the space under the stairs, or even a converted closet.

Install garage outlets

If you haven’t updated your garage in some time, then now is the time to do it. One of the most important features you can have in the garage is the ability to plug in multiple devices. More and more millennials are buying electric cars that will need to be charged when not in use. They may also need space for an extra refrigerator and other home appliances like washers and dryers.

Upgrade the outdoor living space

Another important feature for millennial buyers is the outdoor living space. This is especially true in areas with temperate climates. Outdoor spaces can increase the livable size of a home. They’re great for entertaining and provide room for pets to roam. If you have outdoor space, stage it so that millennial buyers can see the potential for how it can be used.

Opt for modern, neutral décor

When you’re getting ready to sell your home, you need to declutter and depersonalize the space. This often means painting rooms more neutral colors that will appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. For millennial buyers this could mean light neutrals, especially gray. And if you’re making any updates to your décor, consider choosing items with modern, clean lines. Minimalism is a big trend with young adults, and many want their home to reflect that lifestyle. When in doubt, remember that less is more.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying a Kid-Friendly Home

By Virtual Results

Buying a Kid-Friendly HomeIf you’re a homebuyer with kids, then you know there are certain basic requirements the home needs to provide. You want it to be safe, have a place to play, and be located in a good school district. But are there other characteristics you should be looking for when searching for a home, other than the basics? Here’s a look at what you should consider when buying a kid-friendly home.

Size

When you don’t have a growing family, it can be easier to compromise on the size of a home. But that isn’t the case when you have kids. Children need room to play. Unless you want to constantly be cleaning up after them, it’s nice to have a designated spot for toys and games. Large living rooms and extra bedrooms come in handy – especially if you’re expecting your family to grow. Those extra bedrooms can be turned into game rooms or even a private space for adults to escape the noise.

Storage

As kids get older, they seem to acquire more and more things. This includes games, toys, outgrown clothes, sports equipment, musical instruments, and more. The more kids you have, the more storage space you’re going to need. Check to make sure the homes you visit have enough storage space to meet your needs.

Layout

Open concept homes are popular with families for a reason. They allow everyone to be together. Adults can easily supervise kids in the living room while preparing a meal in the kitchen. It’s also great for entertaining and having the extended family over for birthday parties and holidays. Also consider the placement of the bedrooms, especially if you have babies and toddlers. If the master suite is on a different floor than the kids’ bedrooms, you’ll be running up and down the stairs more than you may like.

Sidewalks

This is something that many parents don’t think to consider when buying a home. Is it located in a neighborhood with sidewalks? Think about how often your children will be playing outside, and whether they will walk to school or the park. Sidewalks offer extra safety and keep kids away from moving cars. And what kid doesn’t love to make some sidewalk chalk art?

Neighbors

Is the neighborhood full of single professionals, empty nesters, or families? That’s something else you’ll want to consider when buying a kid-friendly home. It’s great to find a home in a neighborhood with other kids around your child’s age. You’ll also want to check crime statistics in the neighborhood and whether or not there are any registered sex offenders living nearby.

Neighborhood amenities

Finally, take a look at the neighborhood to see what kinds of kid-friendly amenities are within walking distance. Is there a nearby park or public pool? Are there daycare facilities nearby or restaurants that are a hit with kids? It can get tedious to load kids in and out of cars, especially when you have to buckle them into car seats and take a stroller with you. Do yourself a favor and buy a home that makes it easy to get out of the house to do the things you all love to do.

Compliments of Virtual Results