Posts for Syndication

After Your Home Sells

By Virtual Results

After Your Home SellsIf you’ve just sold your home – congratulations! Selling a home can be stressful, and making it to the finish line deserves a celebration. But just because you’ve made it to the closing table doesn’t mean it’s time to wash your hands of the whole affair. There are smart moves you can make to get the most out of your recent home sale. Here’s what you need to know.

Review your paperwork

After you close on your home sale, review all the paperwork you receive to check for errors. Even if everyone involved in the sale is a trusted professional, mistakes can happen. Be sure the mortgage payoff amounts are correct. Check all the fees to make sure there are no surprises. If so, follow-up with your agent to have them explained to you, and talk to an attorney if needed.

Keep your paperwork

Yes, selling your home generates a mountain of paperwork. Though it may be tempting to shred it all, you should hold onto it. You’ll need these documents to prepare your taxes for the year. You will be required to show proof of your expenses and of the proceeds from the sale, so keep those papers in a safe place. You’ll need to have them on hand for several years just in case the IRS audits you. You’ll also want to hang on to any paperwork that has to do with improvements you made to the home. This is also important come tax time. You may or may not be eligible for tax breaks because of them, but you’ll lose out no matter what if you don’t keep receipts.

Be aware of tax laws

It is not unusual for tax laws to change, so pay attention to those that have to do with the sale of your home. The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes to tax laws that affect homeowners. If you’re unsure of how they affect you, talk to a professional tax accountant.

Invest your proceeds wisely

If you aren’t ready to buy a new home immediately, then invest your money wisely. A money market account is a great choice. These types of savings accounts allow you relatively easy access to your money and provide a decent return. It’s a safe place to keep your money while you’re deciding on your next steps.

Take your time

Now that your home sale is complete, you may feel some pressure to buy a new home quickly. It’s perfectly acceptable to take your time with your new home purchase. Don’t be afraid to rent for a period of time, especially if you’re moving to a new neighborhood. This gives you time to decide what you need in your new situation.

Strategize your down payment

If you have significant proceeds from the sale of you home, it may be tempting to make a bigger down payment on your next home. Look over your finances carefully and decide if this is truly the best decision for you at this time. It might make more sense to pay the standard 20 percent down and use the remainder of the money in a different investment with a potentially bigger payoff.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Open House Etiquette for Buyers

By Virtual Results

Open House Etiquette for BuyersIf you’re house hunting, then chances are you’ll attend at least one open house. Open houses are a great way to view a property, get a sense of the neighborhood, and learn more about the local market. They are convenient because you don’t have to set an appointment – you can just drop in at your convenience during the open house hours. Be aware, however, that there are some rules when attending open houses. As a buyer, here’s what you should know before you attend your first one.

Have a plan

When you’re going to an open house, you should have a game plan. Since you’re giving up an hour or two of your time, you might as well make the most of it. Plan to check out the neighborhood. See if there are other open houses nearby that you can attend. You can cover a lot of ground in one afternoon.

Dress appropriately

If you’re a serious buyer, then you need to dress the part. You can still dress casually, but avoid looking sloppy. This is a chance to talk with the agent hosting the open house, and first impressions count. You’ll probably be doing a fair amount of walking, especially if you want to check out the neighborhood, so wear comfortable shoes.

Be on time

An open house will usually take place during a set period of time – for example, from 1 to 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Plan to arrive on the early side, but not before it begins. Give the agent the time they need to prepare, and give yourself enough time to thoroughly evaluate the home. You should also avoid arriving late. If you think you will be late, call the agent and ask if they will stay for you. If not, make arrangements for a private showing on another day.

Sign in

There will most certainly be a sign-in sheet at the door, and you should sign it. Obviously, this is a way for the agent to contact you after the open house. But it’s also a way to know who is coming and going to keep the home secure during the open house.

Talk to the agent

It is appropriate for you to ask questions of the agent who is hosting the open house. You can find out if any offers have been made and how long the property has been on the market. If the open house is busy, don’t monopolize their time. You can always follow-up with them afterwards. You should also let an agent know if you already have representation.

Keep negative opinions to yourself

Your mother was right – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You never know who may be listening, whether it’s a friend of the seller or a neighbor from down the street. If you do decide at a later date to make an offer on the home, it could get back to the seller. If you’re competing with other buyers, your negative comments will reflect poorly on you.

Don’t loiter

Finally, be efficient when you’re attending an open house. Explore the home, chat with the agent, have a cookie and be off. The open house will give you a taste of what the home is like. If you’re serious about putting in an offer, follow-up to schedule a private showing.

Compliments of Virtual Results

The Dangers of Overpricing Your Home

By Virtual Results

The Dangers of Overpricing Your HomeThe most common issue that most home sellers confront is determining exactly how much their home is worth. If you’re selling your home, then you know that many factors contribute to the pricing. While it can be tempting to price your home on the high side, it can have potentially devastating consequences. This is what can happen when you list your home for too much money.

Your home won’t show up in search results

Most homebuyers begin their searches online. In most cases, they’ll conduct a search that includes their price range. When you price your home too high compared to others in your neighborhood, your home will not show up in the search results. Many buyers who may otherwise have been interested in your home will never even see it listed online.

Your home will not attract the right buyer

Another danger of overpricing your home is that you will attract the wrong buyer. If a potential buyer is looking at homes all in the same price range, they may be disappointed with yours. Your home will not have the same amenities as the others on the market for the same price. The potential buyers who do look at your home will most often be non-starters. They’re more likely to make an offer on one of the homes with better amenities.

Your home will stay on the market too long

New listings – those that have been posted in the last 30 days – get the most traffic. Once you’ve gone beyond those 30 days, you’ll see a decline in the number of showings you book. The longer your home is on the market, the more negative it appears to potential buyers. In fact, if a buyer knows your home has been on the market too long, then they are more likely to make a low-ball offer. In cases like this, you may end up selling your home for less than it is worth, simply because you priced it too high in the beginning.

You will have a problem with the appraisal

Even if you find a buyer that is willing to pay your asking price, you could still run into trouble. If this buyer is relying on financing to purchase the home, then it’s unlikely the deal will make it to the closing table. During the closing process, the lender will order an appraisal of your home. If the appraiser determines that the market value is less than the price you’ve agreed to sell for, the lender may deny financing. This wastes valuable time and prolongs the home selling process while you search for another buyer.

Your home won’t sell

The bottom line is – if you overprice your home, then it’s unlikely you will sell it. This is why it’s so important to work with a professional real estate agent who is an expert in your local market. By partnering with a knowledgeable agent, you can feel comfortable that they will price your home based on the current market conditions. Not only will this result in a quicker home sale, you’ll feel much less stressed in the process.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

By Virtual Results

What is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

If you’re ready to buy a house, then you’re no doubt aware that you’ll need a mortgage to finance the purchase. But are you aware that you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer on a house? In fact, in today’s market it’s essential to get a pre-approval or your offer is likely to be overlooked. Here’s what you need to know to make the process as painless as possible.

What is a mortgage pre-approval?

First of all, let’s start with the basics. A pre-approval does not mean that you will ultimately qualify for the loan you want. What it does mean is that a lender has reviewed your finances and has determined how much you can afford, the best type of loan for you, and what interest rate you can qualify for. They will then supply you with a letter that you can submit when you make an offer.

Why do you need a mortgage pre-approval?

In a competitive market, many buyers may be making an offer on the same property as you. In order for your offer to be taken seriously, the seller will want to know that you qualify for financing. You will be at a serious disadvantage if you don’t take the time to get pre-approved, and your offer will likely be rejected.

When do you need to get the pre-approval?

Ideally, you should obtain your pre-approval before you begin your home search in earnest. Once you’ve reviewed your credit reports and determined that you are financially ready for a home purchase, you can then seek pre-approval. Your pre-approval letter will be valid anywhere from 60-90 days. If you want to be particularly cautious, you can request a pre-approval six months to a year in advance of your future purchase to see what you will qualify for. Just be aware that you will need to do the process again when you’re ready to make an offer as your credit reports can change in that time.

Is there a difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification?

Though the terms pre-approval and pre-qualification are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. The difference lies in how in-depth the lender’s review process is. When you get pre-qualified, a lender makes a recommendation of what they can offer you based on the numbers you give them. In this case, the lender is not questioning the financial information you supply. However, when you get pre-approved, the lender is using your actual financial data to prove how much you can afford. They will verify all the information you supply before giving you the pre-approval letter.

How long does it take?

The pre-approval process can take as little as one day. However, if you have a complicated financial history, then the process could take anywhere from a few days to a few months. Be upfront about your finances and provide all the documentation that the lender requests in order to make the process as speedy as possible.

Does it hurt your credit score?

Finally, some buyers may be concerned that the pre-approval process can hurt their credit score. Be aware that although your score may drop a few points if multiple lenders are pulling your reports, it’s not enough to significantly damage your score.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Selling Your Home in a Competitive Market

By Virtual Results

Selling Your Home in a Competitive MarketAre you thinking about listing your home for sale this spring or summer? While this can be an ideal time of the year to sell your home, it can also be competitive. There may be many other homeowners in your area who are putting their homes on the market at the same time. When buyers have several options, it’s easier for your home to be overlooked. For this reason, here’s what you need to do to stand out among the crowd.

Price it right

It is absolutely essential that you price your home correctly from the very beginning. If your home is more expensive than comparable homes in the area, then it’s unlikely to get offers. Work with a professional real estate agent who is an expert in the local market. They will have the knowledge, experience, and tools needed to price your home right from the start.

Clean and stage

Potential buyers will be more attracted to homes that are clean and well-maintained. Before listing your home, clean it thoroughly from top to bottom. This includes shampooing carpets, washing windows, and cleaning walls. You should also make needed repairs like fixing leaky faucets and patching holes. Once you’ve cleaned, it’s time to de-clutter and depersonalize. Store extra furniture and personal belongings. You want your home to feel as spacious as possible. You also want buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your home so don’t leave out pictures of family or other personal items. If possible, have your home professionally staged to maximize its appeal.

Add curb appeal

Potential buyers will form a first impression of your home based on the exterior. It’s important to spruce up your curb appeal. This is the best time of year to make your home attractive on the outside, and you don’t need to spend much money. Trim trees and prune shrubs. Clean up yard debris and keep the lawn mowed. Add colorful annuals and potted flowers and plants to the front porch. Add a small and tasteful decorative touch like a seasonal wreath on the front door.

Take professional photos

Most homebuyers begin their search online. It is so easy to browse home listings, so you’ll want to make your home stand out in this environment. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your home. Great photos will entice buyers to see your home in person. The photos should make your home look spacious and well-maintained.

Be ready for showings

With so many other homes on the market, you’ll need to be ready to show your home at any time. Make arrangements to have pets out of the home during a showing. Keep your home clean and tidy and ready for visitors.

Hire a professional

Ultimately, one of your greatest resources when selling your home in a competitive market is a professional real estate agent. When you work with someone who is an expert in your neighborhood, they will have the tools and advice needed to make your home stand out. Working with an agent will boost your chances of selling quickly and for a great price, so it’s worth the investment.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What All First-Time Homebuyers Should Know

By Virtual Results

We’re heading into one of the busiest seasons in real estate. If you’re gearing up to buy your first home, you may have some competition out there. Spring and summer tend to dominate the housing market and see the most activity. When you’re buying your first home, the whole process may seem a little intimidating. Here’s what you need to know in order to have a successful first-time home-buying experience.

Know what you can afford

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when shopping for a home is not determining what you can reasonably afford. Your monthly mortgage payment will likely be your biggest expense, and not being able to make that payment can be stressful. For this reason, you should narrow your search to homes you can afford based on your current finances. Plug your data into an online calculator to get an estimate of the price range you should concentrate on.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Before you being your home search in earnest, it is essential you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved signals to a seller that you are a serious homebuyer. If you’re searching in a competitive market, not being pre-approved will work against you. If there are multiple offers on a house, the sellers are most likely to choose the buyer who has been pre-approved.

Know what you want

Once you begin to look at home listings, you’ll see there are so many choices out there. If you don’t want to waste your time, get clear about what you want. Is the school district important? Would you like to be close to your job? How many bedrooms do you need? Would you like to be within walking distance of certain amenities like restaurants or cultural attractions? Take time before you start looking to create a wish list so you can be strategic about your home search.

Be flexible

Once you’ve determined what you want, you also need to stay open and be flexible. It’s unlikely that the perfect house will materialize out of nowhere. You will need to make compromises. You should know ahead of time what items on your wish list are “must-haves” and which ones are “would-be-nice-to-haves.”

Know the costs

You are probably already aware that you’ll need a down payment for your home. This can range anywhere between three to 20 percent of the purchase price, depending on the type of loan you secure. But be prepared for other costs you will incur. You’ll need earnest money to submit when you make an offer. You’ll also need to factor in the closing costs such as taxes, attorney fees, title insurance, and inspection.

Work with an agent

Finally, one of the most important things you can do as a first-time homebuyer is to work with an experienced real estate agent. When you work with an agent, you have a trusted partner who is working in your best interest. They will be familiar with the local market and understand the entire real estate process. Working with a professional will help eliminate loads of stress and they can make suggestions and offer advice throughout the entire process.

Compliments of Virtual Results

When Your Neighbor Sells Their Home

By Virtual Results

When Your Neighbor Sells Their HomeDid you see a “for sale” sign go up in your neighbor’s yard? Watching a good neighbor move away can certainly make you feel a little sad. But it can also provide you with valuable information about your home and the local market. This is especially true if you’re thinking about selling your property sometime soon. Here are some of the things you should do when your neighbor sells their home.

Go to the open house

If your neighbor is hosting an open house, then by all means you should attend. This will give you time to explore their home and see how it compares to yours. You’ll hear feedback from other potential buyers about what they like and what they don’t like about the home. This can help you make decisions down the line when it comes time to sell your home. In addition, attending the open house can give you a different perspective about your home. What does it look like from the outside from their house? Is there anything that you would fix or change if you could?

Pay attention to the market

When your neighbor sells their home, it can reveal important information about your local market. How long did it take for the home to sell? This is especially useful to know if their home is quite similar to yours. If it sold quickly, you may want to sell soon. But if it languished for several weeks or months, it may pay to wait. Also, what was the final sale price, and how much did it differ from the original asking price? In addition, how did it compare to other selling prices for similar homes in your neighborhood? You may also want to find out who bought the house, as it can tell you if the demographic in your neighborhood is shifting. Perhaps what was once a neighborhood of young families is turning into a neighborhood of retirees. This can help you focus your marketing efforts down the line.

Communicate with seller’s agent

Do you have any unresolved issues with your neighbor? This could include disputes about where the property line is or who is responsible for fixing a broken fence. Sellers are required to disclose many things about their property to potential buyers, but those requirements can vary from place to place. Be upfront with the seller’s agent about what they should communicate to potential buyers.

Work in tandem

Finally, if you’re planning to sell your home at the same time that your neighbor is, join forces with them. Instead of seeing it as a competition, you can work together to get a more favorable outcome for both parties. Try using the same agent if possible. This way, it’s easy for potential buyers to view both properties at the same time. You can also work with your neighbor about your listing price. Make an agreement that neither of you will lower the price without talking with each other. Now is not the time to get into a bidding war with someone who can be a good ally in your home sale.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying an Airbnb Home

By Virtual Results

Buying an Airbnb HomeAre you thinking about buying a home to rent out on Airbnb or other rental sites? These types of real estate investments can generate extra income for many years. But if this is your first time buying a property to rent, you probably have many questions. Here are some of the basics you need to know when buying an Airbnb home.

Choose a great location

It should go without saying, but one of the most important characteristics of an Airbnb home is the location. Your Airbnb home needs to be in a location that attracts short-term rentals. Renters will want to be close to the area’s attractions, which can include parks, tourist districts, college campuses, or performance venues. They are also appealing to short-term renters if they are close to public transportation or main thoroughfares.

Consider the amenities

When choosing the property, you’ll not only want to consider the location but also the amenities that a home has to offer. Ideally, the home should have at least two bedrooms and one full bathroom with a bathtub. Parking should be included for free. There should be enough room for everyone to gather together inside for watching TV and dining. Having outdoor recreation space is also a plus. And don’t forget that the property should be pleasing to the eye and have modern appliances that are fully functioning. If the home needs upgrades, consider the costs and whether or not those changes will provide a return on your investment.

Look at the competition

Once you’ve decided on your target neighborhoods, check out current Airbnb listings for those locations. What are guests in this location looking for? Take note of the rates that current hosts are charging as well as the amenities they offer. Also check to see how many listings are in the neighborhood. You want to be in a desirable location that isn’t already saturated with short-term rentals.

Consider your level of involvement

Becoming an Airbnb host can be a major time commitment. Are you planning to manage the property yourself or hire a management company? When you own an Airbnb home, you’ll be on the hook for all the maintenance and upkeep, including greeting guests, providing information about the area, and cleaning up in between bookings.

Buying the home

If the Airbnb home you want to purchase will not be your primary residence, this can affect the kind of financing you can get. If you do not intend to live in the home, you may qualify for an investment property loan. It can be more difficult to qualify for these loans, and the interest rates are typically higher. Of course, if you can afford to make an all-cash offer, this will limit the obstacles you face when purchasing.

Check the rules

Not all municipalities allow short-term rentals. Be sure to check the area’s regulations and laws before you buy a home. Likewise, if the home is part of a homeowners association or condo association, you need to be familiar with the rules. You don’t want to discover after you’ve purchased the home that you won’t be allowed to use it for short-term rentals.

Compliments of Virtual Results

How to Clean Stainless Steel

By Virtual Results

How to Clean Stainless Steel

Did you just buy a home that has stainless steel appliances? Or maybe you’re getting ready to sell your home and you want those stainless steel appliances to sparkle during your open house. Whatever your reasons, there are several methods you can use to make those stainless steel appliances look fantastic. Here are some of the best ways we’ve found to clean stainless steel.

The basics

If you have any experience with stainless steel, then you know it can be tough to clean. It has a tendency to show every fingerprint and smudge and can look streaky if you don’t clean it properly. When you clean your stainless steel, make sure you move in the direction of the grain. Don’t use any abrasive cleaning materials like steel wool or scrubbing sponges. Opt instead for a microfiber cloth or paper towels. Also avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia.

Clean with water

One of the easiest ways to keep your stainless steel appliances looking good is to simply clean them regularly with warm water. Use a microfiber cloth dipped in warm water and wipe in the direction of the grain. Once you’ve finished, dry with another microfiber cloth or a paper towel.

Clean with vinegar and olive oil

Not only is vinegar and olive oil a great dressing for salad, it’s also a great combination for cleaning your stainless steel. First, spray your stainless steel with white vinegar. Then wipe the vinegar off with a microfiber cloth. Next, dip the cloth in olive oil and work it into the stainless steel in the direction of the grain. This will make your appliances sparkle!

Clean with dish soap

If your stainless steel is in need of a deeper cleaning, then we recommend using dish soap. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a bowl of warm water. Dip your microfiber cloth into the solution and rub it into the stainless steel in the direction of the grain. Once that step is complete, rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry with a microfiber cloth or paper towel. Drying helps to prevent water spots and streaks.

Clean with club soda

Do you have a can of club soda in your stainless steel refrigerator? Then you can use that to clean it! The bubbles and added minerals of club soda can clean stainless steel as well as dish soap. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the club soda into the stainless steel and then dry with another cloth or paper towel.

Clean with baking soda

For those really difficult jobs, try using a mixture of baking soda and water. Combine the two until it forms a paste. First, test a small spot to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the finish. Rub the paste into the stainless steel and then remove with a damp cloth. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel. Although this method is messy, you’ll swear your appliances look brand new!

Clean with stainless steel cleaner

Finally, there are many commercially available stainless steel cleaning products. If you have stains or scratches on your stainless steel that are difficult to remove with the methods above, these may be your best bet. Be sure to follow the directions carefully and rinse and dry thoroughly when you’re done.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Spruce Up Your Home for Spring

By Virtual Results

Spring is finally here! If you’re ready to shed those winter blues, start by giving your home a spring refresher. By doing a little spring cleaning, updating your décor, and getting your outdoor space in order, you’ll be ready to welcome those warmer and longer spring days ahead. Here are some of the best tips we’ve found to spruce up your home for spring.

Air it out

When was the last time you opened your windows? Chances are it’s been months since you’ve had any real fresh air in your home. Choose a day where the temperatures will be moderate and open your windows to let in the cool breeze. It will recharge all the stale air in your home, remove dust, and even help to inhibit the growth of mold. It’s good for your health!

Clean up the fireplace

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, then it’s time to put it to rest for the season. Clean up the ash and close the damper. You might even consider having it professionally cleaned now instead of in the fall. Your chimney sweep will be less busy and you may even get a break on the price.

Add some plants

While it may not be quite warm enough yet to get outside and tend to your garden, you can bring nature inside. Add some fresh decorative touches to you home with houseplants, forced bulbs, or cut flowers. Plants and flowers will help to clean the air and make your home smell fresh.

Change out linens

Now that the days are getting longer, you’ll want to let some of that lovely sunshine in. Change out heavy winter drapes with lighter versions for spring. It’s also time to switch out your bedding for lighter sheets and blankets for warm weather. Now is the perfect time to clean and rotate your mattress as well.

Update your entryway

Your home’s exterior provides the first impression to visitors or potential buyers. Make your home stand out in a positive way by getting the entryway ready for spring. On the outside, consider painting your front door a distinctive color and decorate with a tasteful spring wreath. Once the weather is warm enough, you can add some pots of spring flowers on your stoop next to the door and switch out your doormat. Inside, empty the coat closet of your winter jackets and shoes and make room for lighter spring jackets.

Use pops of color

One of the best ways to embrace the spring season is to add some pops of color around your home. You can do this very simply with the addition of colorful pillows and throw blankets. Think about ways to use what you already have – whether it’s a colorful vase full of spring flowers or a stack of books with vibrant colors on the coffee table.

Set your table

Finally, set the tone by setting your table with some pretty spring placemats and napkins. Add some lightly scented candles and a colorful table runner. Then, invite friends and family over to help you celebrate the coming of the spring season!

Compliments of Virtual Results