Posts for Syndication

Spring Home Projects

By Virtual Results

Spring Home Projects

If you’re like millions of Americans who are staying at home right now, then it’s a great time to finally tackle some of those home projects you’ve been putting off. Making small repairs, being vigilant about home maintenance, and doing a deep clean of your home are great projects to tackle in the coming weeks. Here’s a list of some spring home projects that can keep you busy and potentially even reduce your bills.

Clean the fridge

This is an excellent time to take stock of what’s in your fridge and to use up your perishables. Take everything out of your refrigerator and wipe down all surfaces. Defrost your freezer if you have any ice build-up and use frozen foods that are nearing their expiration dates. In addition, vacuum the coils on the back of your refrigerator. When the coils are coated with dust or dirt they don’t operate as efficiently. You’ll save money on your energy costs and wear and tear on your refrigerator when you clean the coils regularly.

Clean the gutters

Spring is here, so this is the perfect time to get out the ladder and clean the gutters. Dirt, leaves, and other debris can clog up gutters over the winter. When gutters are clogged, water cannot pass through properly. This can ultimately result in water damage near your foundation. Spend a sunny afternoon completing this task and you’ll be good to go for the coming rainy season.

Prep your AC

Warm weather will be here soon. Is your air conditioner ready? Now is the time to get your AC ready for the spring and summer months. Change the AC filter and check hoses and connections for leaks. Clean the coils like you would on your fridge. You should also make sure that the drain pans are able to drain freely.

Clean the windows

There are very few people who enjoy washing the windows, but what a difference it can make! Windows can become very dirty and grimy over the winter months. Use a store-bought or a DIY window cleaner to remove build-up and make those glass surfaces shine. If you left the screens on over the winter, remove them and clean them with a mild cleanser. Let them air dry before putting them back.

Clean up the yard

There’s nothing like some fresh air to feel invigorated. Set aside some time to get outside and clean up your yard in preparation for spring and summer. Remove branches and leaves that have built up during the fall and winter months. Make sure your faucets and sprinkler systems are working. Clean and sharpen your garden tools and get your lawn mower ready.

Get everyone involved

With many kids home from school, now is a great time to enlist your family in your cleaning efforts. Create a list of all cleaning jobs and chores and assign them to family members. Even the youngest kids can get in on the action with age-appropriate chores. Younger kids can learn how to tidy their rooms, while older children can learn how to load the dishwasher or take out the trash. Teens can do laundry and help with cleaning kitchens and bathrooms.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Researching a Home Online

By Virtual Results

Researching a Home Online
If you’re like most homebuyers, then you’ll probably begin your home search online. But did you know that you could go beyond just the listings to learn more about a home? With so much information at your fingertips, it can be tough to know where to start. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways that you can research a home online.

Learn about previous owners

If you want to know more about a home’s previous owners, then you can search public records. Start by visiting the website Public Records Online Directory to get connected to your state’s website. You’ll also find information about your local Tax Assessor’s and Recorder’s offices. It’s possible to find information about previous owners, property deeds, lawsuits, and any encumbrances on the house. You may also be able to search your local public library for information about the home’s architect or contractor.

Discover the architectural style

Not sure if the home is mid-century modern, ranch, or something else? Learning more about the architectural style of the home can give you valuable clues about when it was built. But sometimes it can be a challenge to identify exactly what style the home is, especially if you don’t have much experience with home design. Check out this great article from the DIY Network that includes a slide show of many types of architectural styles. By comparing the house to these examples, you’ll gain a better understanding of the home you’re researching.

Find information that isn’t disclosed

While home sellers are required to make certain disclosures about a home, there are some details they aren’t always legally required to share. This could include whether or not there have been any deaths in the home. If the home has been the site of a death, it could potentially decrease its value. This is an important piece of information to have as a buyer. You can research an address at diedinahouse.com to find out whether or not there have been any deaths in the home. You may also discover other types of incidents such as whether there has been a fire or if any illegal drug activity has taken place.

Explore the history

If your home has a historical pedigree, then you can also research its history online. Whatwasthere.com is a website that links Google Maps to historical photos. You can see how the street where the home is located looked in the past. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see historical photos of the home itself. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is also a great place to find historical land and genealogical records. Their database contains more than 10 million land records including land patents, farm ownership records, and land case entries.

Talk to an expert

While there’s so much you can learn from researching a home online, you’ll find out even more when you talk to a professional real estate agent. Expert agents can give you invaluable information about not only a house, but also the neighborhood, school district, and local market. Partnering with an agent takes your search to the next level and helps ensure that you find the home that’s just right for you!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Staging a Deck

By Virtual Results

Staging a DeckSpring is almost here, which means backyard barbecue season is just around the corner. Many homebuyers are going to be in the market for houses that have great outdoor living spaces. As the temperatures rise, they’ll imagine themselves grilling out or just sitting outside enjoying the weather after a long winter. If you’re selling a home with a deck, then it’s essential to make it as appealing to potential buyers as possible. Here are some great tips for staging your deck for a spring home sale.

Clean it up

First things first – it’s time to make your deck spic and span. Dirt and grime are big turn-offs, so blast them away with a pressure washer. Trim overhanging trees and bushes so they look neat and to minimize leaves and branches falling onto the deck. Stain your deck and seal it to keep it protected from the elements. Show potential buyers that your deck is well cared for. Many buyers will want to be able to enjoy it from day one.

Tidy up garden beds

Once you’ve cleaned up the deck, spend some time addressing any overgrown weeds or tired-looking garden beds around the deck. Add a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds and keep the grass trimmed and neat. Annual flowers can add an instant pop of color to garden beds and create visual appeal. If you don’t want to plant flowers, buy potted arrangements from your local garden center. Just remember to keep watering them while your home is on the market so they continue to look nice.

Neutralize the décor

If your outdoor furniture is very colorful, then consider switching it out for something neutral. You want your deck to appeal to as many buyers as possible. It’s easier for potential buyers to envision themselves using your deck when you have a more neutral décor. Opt for cushions in muted colors. You can add some pops of color with throw pillows or pots of flowers on the deck. Another great choice for adding just a touch of color is an outdoor rug that will pull the seating area together.

Provide shade

Even if the sun hasn’t been out in months, most people don’t enjoy sitting in direct sunlight all day. When you decorate your deck for showings, be sure to provide some kind of shade. This could be accomplished with outdoor curtains, awnings, or patio umbrellas. You don’t want your outdoor living spaces to be too hot or bright to enjoy.

Add lighting

Most homeowners would like to be able to enjoy their deck both in the daytime and at night. Use outdoor lighting to make your deck cozy and inviting during the evening hours. Put lanterns on steps or hang in nearby branches. Use string lights across the living area to create a welcoming ambiance. You might even scatter some flameless candles around the deck for a romantic evening look.

Set the table

If your deck has enough room for a grill and dining table, then set the scene for a fabulous outdoor dinner party. Set the table with festive but tasteful plates, napkins, glasses and centerpieces. Show potential buyers how amazing it would be to dine al fresco on those warm summer nights that will soon be here.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying a “Sale Pending” Home

By Virtual Results

Buying a “Sale Pending” Home

You’ve finally found the perfect home that meets all your needs. The trouble is, it’s listed as sale pending. Just what does “sale pending” mean, and should you give up hope of ever buying this house? Here’s what you need to know about homes that are listed as sale pending, and what you can do to increase your odds of being the chosen buyer.

What does sale pending mean?

If you see a home that’s described as sale pending, then it means that the seller has accepted an offer on the house. However, it’s important to understand that sale pending does not mean that the sale has closed. It simply means that the property is under contract, and all the terms of that contract must be fulfilled for the sale to go through. It also means that there’s still a chance the home could go back on the market if the inspection uncovers problems or the buyer can’t secure financing.

Can you still see a home that has a sale pending?

It’s possible that you can still get a tour of the home if there is a sale pending. After all, the home is still technically on the market. But whether or not you can see the home is mostly dependent on whether or not the seller allows it. If the seller feels confident that the sale will go through, then they may not have any additional showings. But if you’d really like to see the home, talk to your agent. They may be able to convince the seller’s agent to schedule a showing for you. Or at the very least, your agent can let the seller know that if the current sale should fall through, that you are very interested in seeing the home.

Get information about the property

Are you really serious about buying the home? Then you need to find out as much as you can about it. You will need to act quickly if the sale falls through and you want to be ready. Contact the listing agent to find out more about the home and whether or not it may go back on the market. While it may feel too aggressive, it’s important that you’re on the listing agent’s radar. You should also research the address online and acquire the property tax records. The bottom line is – you need to decide now whether or not you really want the home, so that you can be the first to jump in if the sale falls through.

Get preapproved

This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – get pre-approved for a mortgage now. Shop around for the best terms, submit your financial paperwork, and get a preapproval letter from the lender. You want to show the seller you’re a sure thing, especially if the first sale fell through because of financing.

Submit a backup offer

Finally, work with your agent to submit a backup offer on the home. It can be submitted while the home is sale pending. Consider what you can do to make your offer as attractive as possible. This could include having fewer contingencies or offering more money. Just be sure that you are comfortable with the terms of the deal. Stay in touch with the listing agent until the sale is finalized or it falls through so that you’re first in line.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Worst Moving Mistakes Revealed

By Virtual Results

Worst Moving Mistakes RevealedThe real estate market is starting to heat up for the spring season. That means in the coming months many people will be packing up and moving to a new place. If you’re one of them, then you’ll be gearing up over the coming weeks for your big move. Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. And unfortunately, mistakes are common. Here’s what you need to know to avoid some of the worst moving mistakes so that your relocation is as stress-free as possible.

Not being organized

If you’re moving, then you are literally taking everything you own and transferring it to a new location. That’s a big job. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the bigger picture. When you’re preparing to move, it is essential that you create a plan. Use a moving checklist that breaks down tasks and keeps you moving towards your goal.

Moving everything you own

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when you move is to clear out your clutter. There is no sense in moving items you don’t need or use to your new home. Not only will this add extra time to packing and unpacking, you will pay more since most moves factor weight into the cost. As you pack, set aside those items that you can sell or donate. You can even arrange to have them picked up by a charity to save you time.

Not researching moving companies

Don’t just choose a moving company at random. Take time to thoroughly vet several moving companies before deciding on the one you will use. There are many moving scams out there, and you don’t want to become the next victim. Check each company’s reviews and find out if there are any complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau. You should also insist on getting an in-house estimate and not just having a price quoted over the phone or online. You don’t want to end up with a much higher bill come moving day.

Not having enough insurance

Accidents happen, and it’s not unusual for items to arrive at their new location broken or damaged. Before the move, find out what kind of insurance the mover has. You may discover that it only covers a portion of the value of your items. In these cases, it could be wise to purchase additional insurance from your mover. You should also check your homeowners insurance policy to see what may or may not be covered during your move.

Forgetting to pack a box of essentials

Finally, there are essential items that you will need when you arrive at your new place. After spending an exhausting day moving, the last thing you want to do is hunt through boxes for your toothbrush or a roll of toilet paper. Don’t forget to pack a few boxes of essentials that you can use in the first few days after your move. Include comfort items for kids and pets, basic tools, cleaning supplies, chargers, essential toiletries and medication, a can opener, disposable plates and utensils, and anything else that you can’t live without. It will make the transition so much smoother and more manageable.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Spring Curb Appeal Boosters

By Virtual Results

Spring Curb Appeal Boosters

When most homeowners think of curb appeal, they imagine hours spent planting and tending an elaborate garden. But curb appeal doesn’t begin and end with plants and flowers. In fact, you can create amazing curb appeal even if you don’t have a green thumb. Here are some excellent ideas for boosting the look of your home’s exterior without ever having to plant one flower, bush, or tree.

Conceal eyesores

There’s nothing beautiful about trashcans, utility boxes, or garden hoses. But don’t let these practical objects take away from your home’s outdoor charm. There are many ways that you can easily conceal these eyesores. Garbage and recycle bins can be hidden with a simple enclosure that you can make yourself or buy and assemble. Use large faux rocks to camouflage pipes, meters, or utility boxes. Or choose a decorative container for storing your garden hose.

Create crisp edges

Crisp edges around garden beds and lawns create a polished look that can add tons of character with minimal work. Regularly trim your grass and keep the edges neat. This gives your entire yard a polished, manicured look. You can use either a power edger or a manual edger. Power edgers work well on straight lines, but you may need a manual tool for more detailed curves. You can also create sharp edges around garden beds with bricks, trim, pavers, or wood.

Power wash

While you’re out there tending to your lawn, it’s also a good idea to give the outside of your home a deep cleaning. You can do this by setting your garden hose on the strongest setting and spraying down the exterior, sidewalks, driveways, decks, and porches. For an even deeper cleaning, consider renting a power washer. Just be careful not to spray windows and doorways or you could cause damage.

Paint the front door

Nothing refreshes the outside of your home quite like a fresh coat of paint on your front door. You can create a beautiful focal point by choosing a color in an eye-catching shade. Not sure what color to choose? You’ll find endless inspiration online to help you decide what kind of mood you’d like to create.

Add accent lighting

We all know how important it is to have plenty of light outside so you can easily see at night. Porch lights, garage lights, and motion-sensing lights add character to your home and help keep you safe. But you can add even more charm by installing some simple accent lighting. Hang solar-powered lanterns from trees and shrubs or choose stake lights to highlight garden beds.

Create a conversation area

Once you’ve made your outdoor areas so inviting you’re going to want to spend time in them. Create conversation nooks that allow you to enjoy your hard work with friends, family, and neighbors. Add a garden bench under a tree or café table with two chairs to your front porch. Make it even more inviting by painting chairs and benches in attractive colors. Add soft, weather-resistant pillows and a side table to hold your glasses of ice-cold lemonade for those hot summer days ahead.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buyers: Get Your Paperwork Ready

By Virtual Results

Buyers: Get Your Paperwork ReadySpring is the busiest time of year in the real estate market. Now is the time when many families with children begin looking at homes for sale so that they can move in between school years. In fact, there may be so many buyers that you’ll be faced with stiff competition. When you’re getting ready to buy in the spring, it’s essential that you’re prepared. When you have your paperwork together, you’ll be able to make an offer more quickly and possibly even close the deal sooner. This will make you a more attractive buyer and more likely to have your offer accepted. Get a head start by gathering the paperwork you’ll need to have ready when you buy a home.

Tax documents

When you’re buying a home, lenders will be gathering information about your finances. This includes at least two years of tax returns. Lenders use this information to verify the income you report. If your income has changed considerably over the last couple of years, be prepared to explain why and provide documentation.

Proof of income

Do you have the money to the buy the home? Lenders will want to see at least one month’s worth of pay stubs. This gives a greater picture of your financial health than just your tax documents alone. If you have any other sources of income, like child support or self-employment income, then be prepared to provide proof of these as well.

Employment information

Compile a list of all your employers for the last two years. Include company names, addresses, names of your current and former bosses or the human resources department, and contact information.

Financial statements

You’ll need to show up to two month’s worth of important financial statements for checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, and IRAs. You’ll also need to show where your down payment money is coming from.

Earnest money information

When you make an offer on a home you’ll be submitting earnest money. Have documentation ready that shows where the earnest money is coming from. If the money is a gift, then you will need a letter from the person who is giving the gift, usually a family member.

Residential history

Have a record on hand of at least two years of residential history including addresses, names and contact information for landlords.

Credit report

Lenders will pull your credit report, but you should definitely get a copy for yourself. This will alert you if there are any errors on your report so that you can have them fixed before applying for a home loan.

Debt information

Do you have any other loans? This includes car loans, mortgages, credit card debts, or student loans. Gather statements for each debt to show your remaining balances and gather account numbers and contact information for each lender.

Property ownership documents

Do you currently own a home or have you owned one in the past? Then be ready to show proof of property ownership or documents related to the sale of the home.

Photo identification

Finally, make sure you have a current photo ID, such as a driver’s license, so that your identity can be verified.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Get Your Home Ready for a Spring Sale

By Virtual Results

Get Your Home Ready for a Spring Sale

The busiest season in the real estate market is upon us. Are you one of the many homeowners who will put their homes on the market this spring? You’re going to face more competition at this time of year, so it’s essential that you’re prepared. Here’s a rundown of what you need to do to get your home ready for a spring sale.

Make repairs

It’s easy to live with all those little problems as the years go by. But now is the time to tackle the small repairs on your to-do list. Buyers will be looking at every square inch of your home. You can believe that they will make note of any leaky faucets, squeaky doors, or malfunctioning lights. Be sure to set aside time to tackle all these repairs so that you can get the best price for your home.

Spruce up the exterior

Spring is the best time of the year to make the exterior of your home look inviting. Take a weekend to clean up any debris left over from winter like branches and fallen leaves. Power wash exterior walls, decks, porches, and sidewalks. Patch cracks in your driveway. Plant colorful annuals in flowerbeds and add a few pots of flowers near the front door. You might also consider swapping out your mailbox, welcome mat, and house numbers for something new. Paint your front door a welcoming color that catches the eye. A little curb appeal can go a long way.

Clean up inside

If you’re selling your home, then you need to put your spring-cleaning in overdrive. Make it sparkle! Deep clean carpets and floors and wash all the windows. Clean out the garage and basement. Go through all drawers, cabinets and closets and donate unused items. Your home needs to be clutter-free and there’s no use dragging things you don’t use to your next home. Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by this particular job? Then don’t be afraid to outsource your cleaning project to a professional.

Eliminate bad smells

It’s easy to get used to what your home smells like so you no longer notice it. While you’re cleaning, make note of any unpleasant odors you may encounter. In fact, have a trusted friend or family member do a walk-through of your home. Ask them if they notice any unusual smells, like pet odors or cigarette smoke. Unpleasant smells can be very off-putting to buyers, so you must tackle them right away. Use cleaning products suitable for each type of odor, and open all the windows to air out your home. When showing your home, you can lightly scent the air with candles, essential oil diffusers, stovetop potpourri, or even baking cookies.

Neutralize your décor

Lastly, it’s so important that potential buyers are able to imagine living in your home. No matter how attached you are to your own sense of style, you need to detach and think like a buyer. Repaint rooms in neutral colors like off-white, beige, light blue, and light gray. Pack away any personal items like photographs or sports memorabilia. If you have any bulky furniture, put it in storage. You want to make your home feel light, bright, and spacious.

Compliments of Virtual Results

6 Common Real Estate Photo Mistakes

By Virtual Results

6 Common Real Estate Photo MistakesDid you know that most homebuyers begin their home searches online? That means that before they ever step foot inside your home, potential buyers are forming opinions about it. You want your home to be well represented in your online listing and entice buyers to want to view it in person. To do this, you need great real estate photos. These are six of the most common mistakes you’ll want to avoid so that your home’s pictures shine.

Not enough light

It’s surprising how often this happens, but some real estate photos are just too dark. You want you home to be bright and inviting. This means opening all the curtains and blinds and turning on the lights when you take the pictures. Let as much natural light in as possible and support it with layered lighting to eliminate shadows and dark corners. If needed, use a flash. Otherwise, your home could look dingy, cold, and uninviting.

Strange backgrounds

Ideally, your home should be de-cluttered, cleaned, and staged before you take any of your listing photos. But even then, you might still end up having something in the background that shouldn’t be there. Make sure you can’t see your reflection in the mirror in any photos. Also check for things like laundry baskets and children’s or pet’s toys in the background. And make sure your toilet lid in the bathroom is always down.

Wrong focus

We’ve all seen real estate photos that just don’t capture the spirit of a home because they’re focusing on the wrong things. In each room you photograph, determine where the focus will be. What do you want to highlight? Make that the focus of your image, whether it’s the amazing view from the bedroom windows or the spaciousness of an open concept living area.

Blurry photos

One of the worst things you can do is to use blurry photos of your home. With digital photography, you can take as many pictures as you need to make sure it’s in focus. If you have trouble keeping your hands steady, then use a tripod. Although there are many things you can fix when editing your photos later on, it’s very difficult to fix a blurry image.

Too much editing

On the other hand, you can go overboard with your photo editing. It’s so easy to clean up simple mistakes in most photo editing programs. But you need to know when enough is enough. You can boost the lighting and square off photos, but resist the urge to use Photoshop to actually alter your images. If there is an aspect of your home you dislike, such as a poor view, then you can downplay it other ways instead of eliminating it completely. Otherwise, potential buyers will feel cheated when they visit your home in person.

Not enough photos

Lastly, homebuyers need to see enough of your home to inspire them to visit in person. If your listing only has a handful of photos, it’s not doing your home justice. On the other hand, there’s no need to go overboard. Plan to post around 15 photos of your home to maximize the effect.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Paying All Cash For a House

By Virtual Results

Paying All Cash For a HouseIf you’re looking to beat out other offers in a competitive real estate market, then paying all cash can be a great option. There are many ways that homebuyers could find themselves with enough cash to make this feasible. Perhaps you’ve been saving, you’ve inherited a sizable amount of money, or you’ve won a big prize. If you’re in a position to buy a home with cash, then here’s what you should consider.

Your offer will be taken seriously

When you make an all-cash offer on a home, the seller will take your offer seriously. When a home seller knows the buyer won’t need to apply for financing, it can make the deal so much easier. They won’t have to worry your loan won’t close, and the closing process can take much less time. Cash can really work to your advantage when you know the competition will be stiff.

You could save money

If you’re willing to pay for a home with cash, then a seller may be more likely to offer you a better deal on the home. Paying with cash gives you great bargaining power. When sellers know that they’ll get their money sooner and with less hassle with a cash offer, they may be much more open to negotiating on the price.

You’ll save time and stress

Applying for a mortgage takes time and can cause a lot of stress for many homebuyers. When you pay with cash, you eliminate the need to apply for a home loan. These days, underwriters require an enormous amount of paperwork to complete the loan process. In other cases, a homebuyer may have trouble securing a home loan. This could be because of poor credit, unreliable income, or already having an existing mortgage on a home.

You won’t take on more debt

Knowing that you won’t have a monthly mortgage payment can bring you enormous peace of mind. Paying the mortgage is one of the most stressful aspects of owning a home. Eliminating that payment can make life much easier, especially as you approach retirement age.

Your money will be tied to one asset

On the flipside, you should also consider that buying a home with cash ties up a large part of your money in one asset. Many financial advisors recommend diversifying your assets, which can be more difficult when most of your savings are being spent on a home. Understand that your home is a place to live as opposed to just an investment.

You’ll lose liquidity

Liquidity refers to how quickly you can get cash from your investment. When you invest all your money in a home, your assets are not as liquid. If can take several months to sell a home and recoup your money. However, you may be able to take out a home equity loan by borrowing against your equity. Just be sure to research interest rates and fees to understand the financial ramifications.

Your home could decline in value

Finally, it’s important to remember that the value of your home could depreciate over time. Though home prices continue to remain high, there is always the chance that the market could slow. You must consider your own financial situation to determine if you should take on that risk.

Compliments of Virtual Results