Posts for Syndication

Holiday Home Staging Tips

By Virtual Results

Holiday Home Staging TipsSelling your home over the holidays doesn’t need to turn you into Mr. Scrooge. In fact, the holiday season can be a wonderful time to sell. Holiday decorating makes a home feel cozy and can create a welcoming vibe that buyers will love. That is, as long as you don’t go full-on Clark Griswold. If you’re planning to sell your home over the holidays, then follow these staging tips.

Clean and declutter

We always recommend that you clean and declutter your home before staging no matter the season. Removing unwanted items will make your home feel more spacious. And taking out personal items like family photos is a must. Create a neutral environment where buyers can imagine themselves living. Once you’ve decluttered, clean your home until it’s sparkling.

Create a welcoming entrance

The exterior of your home is the first thing buyers will see. Create a welcoming entrance that will make buyers want to see more. You can add a bit of holiday festivity to your front door with a pretty wreath. Evergreen arrangements flanking the door are also a nice touch. Opt for holiday elements that have a winter theme as opposed to items with a religious theme, as these might not appeal to all buyers.

Dress up your mantel

Are you lucky enough to have a fireplace mantel in your home? Then you’ll definitely want to make this a focal point. You don’t have to go overboard here. A simple evergreen garland with a few candles or ornaments can make your fireplace pop. You can also hang stockings to really set the holiday mood.

Put up a tree

Some people may be on the fence about putting up a tree when they’re selling during the holidays. But as long as your tree is tasteful and is the right size for the room, it can really make your home feel cozy. Opt for tree decorations that match the style of your room, and avoid lights that blink.

Stage your dining room table

Want a tip that will really entice your buyers? Then set your dining room table for a holiday feast. Show buyers how wonderful it will be to host holiday parties in your home by busting out your best formal tableware.

Add poinsettias

Nothing says “holiday spirit” quite like poinsettias do. If you do nothing else then place a few poinsettias around your home, you will still create a wonderful holiday vibe. Choose poinsettias in colors that match your decor or opt for the bright red variety that really pops. Best of all, poinsettias are available everywhere this time of year and are very affordable.

Use lights tastefully

We don’t think you should decorate the outside of your home like the Griswolds, but you can add some tasteful holiday lights to your home’s exterior. Simple white or multi-color strand lights in a favorite tree or around the windows can make your home look especially cheerful this time of year. If your neighbors decorate their homes too, then that’s even better. Remember to turn on the outside lights if you are showing your home after dark.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Don’t Believe These 6 Painting Myths

By Virtual Results

Don’t Believe These 6 Painting MythsPainting your home’s interior is a wonderful way to refresh a room or get your home ready for sale. It’s also a fairly simple task that you can complete yourself — no professionals required! But beware that there is some bad advice out there that you should avoid. That’s why we’ve put together a list of six painting myths that you should not believe!

You can paint over wallpaper

We’re not sure where you’re getting your advice, but you should not paint over wallpaper. While wallpaper can be a wonderful way to cover your walls, it should be removed if you decide to paint instead. Otherwise, it’s unlikely you’ll get a smooth, even finish. And what happens if the wallpaper starts to peel down the line?

Dark colors make a room appear smaller

Some people will tell you that light colors make a room feel bigger, while dark colors make it feel smaller. But this isn’t always the case. When you’re choosing a paint color for a room, think about how you want the room to feel. Dark accent colors add variety and can make a small room feel larger. Dark colors can also make a large room feel cozier.

You don’t need a primer

Just because your current paint is smooth with no chips or cracks doesn’t mean you can get away with not using primer. If you want your paint job to look professional and last a long time, then you must prime the walls first. Primer helps the paint adhere to the walls and leads to a smooth and polished surface.

Always paint your trim white

Yes, white trim is a very classic look that goes well in most spaces. But that doesn’t mean you need to follow the crowd. The trim is a great way to show off your personal tastes. Instead of painting your trim white, consider painting it the same color you paint the wall. That can make the room appear taller than it actually is. You can also choose a color that complements the wall color for something unique. Another classic choice is to paint the trim black.

It doesn’t matter which brand of paint you choose

While it’s tempting to just buy a gallon of the cheapest brand of paint, you should know that you’ll get what you pay for. There is a big difference in quality between brands of paint. You should research what brands of paint are of the highest quality and choose the best one you can afford. When in doubt, ask a professional at the store. They can help you find just the right paint for your specific project.

You always need at least two coats of paint

Finally, there is a persistent myth that you must use at least two coats of paint regardless of what it is you’re painting. But honestly, it just isn’t true. The number of coats you need for your painting project depends a lot on the condition of the surface and the quality of the paint you’re using. If you’ve used primer and a top-quality paint as we have recommended, then in some cases you will only need one coat. Think of the time and money you’ll save!

Compliments of Virtual Results

How To Be the Best Thanksgiving Guest

By Virtual Results

How To Be the Best Thanksgiving GuestWhile many people like to offer advice about being a good host on Thanksgiving, we thought we’d try something a little different. Being a thoughtful guest at Thanksgiving is just as important. It shows your host that you appreciate the effort they’ve put into hosting a wonderful dinner — and it will ensure that you get invites in the future! Here’s what you need to know to be the best Thanksgiving guest this year.

RSVP early

Wait — you haven’t RSVP’d to your Thanksgiving invitation yet? What are you waiting for? Your host will be spending quite a bit of time planning and preparing. That means it’s important for them to know exactly how many guests to expect. You should aim to respond to the RSVP at least a week or two in advance. So if you haven’t already reserved your spot, get on it!

Ask what you can bring

When you RSVP to your invitation, ask your host what you can bring. It can be so helpful for guests to bring appetizers, desserts, or even a side dish to the meal. Your host may tell you to bring nothing, but it’s always wise to ask.

Make your dietary restrictions known

Are you vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to any foods? Then you need to let your host know ASAP. This way, they can plan to have some dishes available that you can eat. This is especially true for Thanksgiving since so many of the traditional dishes include meat, dairy, and other potential allergens. In fact, you can offer to bring a dish that you know you can eat, which will relieve some of the pressure from your host.

Be mindful about the dish you’re bringing

It takes a lot of planning and preparation to pull off a great Thanksgiving dinner. That’s why if you’re bringing a dish, then you should also bring a serving dish and utensils. Don’t assume your host will have the necessary items. Also, if your dish requires fridge or oven space, you should let your host know ahead of time. These spaces tend to get maxed out on Thanksgiving, so they need to be prepared.

Don’t crowd the kitchen

We all want to socialize with the host on Thanksgiving — that’s part of the pleasure of the holiday. But give them some space, especially the hour before the meal is served. That last hour requires a lot of concentration, so avoid crowding the kitchen. This will distract your host and make it difficult for them to complete their tasks. Even better — ask how you can help!

Socialize with everyone

Are there any unfamiliar faces at the party? Then make an effort to introduce yourself. This helps take the burden off your host to initiate all the socializing. Plus, you may end up meeting someone you really like!

Don’t forget a host gift

Finally, you can be your host’s favorite guest by bringing a small gift as a token of appreciation for all their hard work. This can be as simple as a bottle of wine or a scented candle. You can also opt for something more personal like a beautiful cookbook, a bottle of their favorite liquor, or even a gift for their pet!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Hosting Thanksgiving in Your New Home

By Virtual Results

Hosting Thanksgiving in Your New HomeDid you just buy a home — and got roped into hosting Thanksgiving, too? While it can be so much fun to have family over for the holidays, we understand how stressful it can be — especially if you’re still unpacking. That’s why we’ve compiled our best tips for hosting Thanksgiving in your new home. Hopefully, these ideas will help make your holiday festive and fun!

Make it a housewarming party, too

If you were already planning to have a housewarming party, then why not combine it with your Thanksgiving celebration? There’s no need to have two separate parties, especially if you’ll be inviting the same people. Perhaps you can even get your guests to help you unpack or hang some pictures while you’re at it!

Plan a potluck

Your guests will understand that you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. So if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, then plan for it to be a potluck. Create a menu for the meal and ask each guest to bring a dish. This way, you can still enjoy hosting without all the stress of preparing the entire meal as well.

Choose make-ahead dishes

Trying to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in one day can be challenging. That’s why we recommend creating a menu with many dishes that can be made ahead of time. You can pre-make casseroles that just need to be baked on the day of the event. Chop vegetables and prepare ingredients ahead of time. You can even make gravy before the big day!

Opt for catering

You’re not cheating if you decide to outsource Thanksgiving this year. Moving in is a big job, and having someone else prepare your Thanksgiving feast will relieve so much of your stress. Focus instead of getting moved in and spend your extra time setting a pretty table. This will also give you a chance to try out a restaurant in your new neighborhood.

Ask for help

There is no shame in asking for a little extra help this Thanksgiving. You can get friends and family to come over a few days ahead of time to help you clean and organize for the party. You can also create tasks for your guests to do on Thanksgiving day. This could include helping to serve drinks, clearing the table at the end of the meal, or assisting with dishes at the end of the night. Your guests will be more than willing to help you, and it will be easier on you if you figure out how they can help ahead of time.

Prep for overnight guests

Will your Thanksgiving celebration include overnight guests? Then be sure to prepare for that. If you have a guest bedroom, then put fresh linens on the bed and set out towels. Stock the bathroom with things they may need, like extra toothbrushes or toothpaste. And make sure they know where the coffee is in the morning!

Relax and have fun

The most important thing you can do when you’re hosting Thanksgiving in your new home is to relax and enjoy yourself! Your guests will have more fun if they see you having fun, too. And what better way to celebrate your new home than to fill it with the people you love!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Holiday Host Gift Ideas

By Virtual Results

Holiday Host Gift Ideas

Entertaining during the holidays can be stressful. There’s so much to manage — from cleaning and decorating the house to organizing and cooking a meal. That’s why it’s such a thoughtful gesture to bring a small gift to your host. It’s a terrific way to say thank you for all the hard work they put into creating a wonderful event. While a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers are always a good choice, there are many other suitable gifts out there as well. These are our top picks for host gifts this holiday season.

A beautiful cookbook

Does your holiday host love to cook? Then a beautiful new cookbook can be a perfect gift! Think about the kinds of meals or treats that your host loves to make. Did they get on the sourdough bread bandwagon during the pandemic? Or do they tend to make dishes with exotic spices and flavors? There are so many wonderful new cookbooks out there — from southern barbecue to vegan. Here’s a great list to get you started.

A fun or challenging puzzle

Puzzles have long been a great way to relax and unwind — especially when it’s too cold to go outside. Puzzles even made a huge comeback during the pandemic, helping to keep us occupied why we all stayed inside during lockdown. If your host is known as a puzzle aficionado, then bring them one as a gift. You can choose a puzzle with a theme that they enjoy (say, kittens or gardens) or challenge them with one of the most difficult puzzles you can buy.

Extra-virgin olive oil

Instead of that bottle of wine, why not bring a bottle of your favorite extra-virgin olive oil as a gift for your host? This is another great choice for home chefs. Olive oil is used in so many recipes, and there’s a big difference between a really good bottle and those you find on the grocery store shelves. You don’t even need to spend a fortune to score a good bottle. Here’s a wonderful list of the best olive oils that you can buy at every price point.

Garden essentials

Gardening is another hobby that seriously took off during the pandemic. If your host has a green thumb, then we promise they would love to get garden essentials as a gift. There really is so much to choose from. You can gift them with several packets of seeds from your favorite supplier, a pair of classic herb snips, or even a sturdy pair of gardening gloves. Here’s an excellent selection of gardening gifts that we promise your host will appreciate.

Gifts for their pet

Finally, if your host is a pet parent, then gifting a little something to their best friend can make you their favorite guest. For dogs, you can buy them a fun toy or even a cute outfit for the holidays. Those with cats would enjoy toys stuffed with catnip, a soft bed, or even a custom portrait. Many folks adopted pets during the pandemic, and bringing your host something they can use to pamper their newest family member will surely be a big hit.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Start an Indoor Garden This Fall

By Virtual Results

Are you just not ready to say goodbye to your garden for the season? Having a lush, green outdoor space is certainly one of the pleasures of being a homeowner. But just because the temperatures are turning colder doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all your little plant friends. Why not let 2021 be the year you finally bring your garden indoors? If this sounds like a dream come true, then here’s what you need to know to get your indoor garden started this fall.

Decide what you’ll grow

You have many choices when it comes to creating an indoor garden to enjoy during the colder months. You can choose to grow your own herbs or vegetables so that you’ll always have something fresh to include in your meals. Or you can simply create a wonderful garden with a selection of houseplants that can thrive indoors.

Consider the lighting

Plants need light to survive. It’s very important to consider how much light is available when choosing what you’ll grow inside. North-facing windows get little direct light, especially in winter. East-facing windows enjoy morning light, while west-facing windows get their light in the afternoon. South-facing windows get the most light, especially in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky. If your home doesn’t have enough light to support plants, then you can supplement it with indoor grow lights, which are readily available online.

Think about humidity

Another important consideration when growing an indoor garden is the amount of humidity in the air. Winter tends to be very dry in most locations, which can stress plants. The air can dry out even more once you turn the heat on, or if you have a fireplace. You can boost the humidity in the air by misting your plants, clustering them together, or placing plants on pebble trays filled with water. Another easy choice is to use a humidifier in the room with your plants to keep moisture levels up.

Learn how to water

Obviously, plants also need water to survive. But not all plants need the same amount of water, and many plants needs less water when they go dormant in the fall and winter. Find out how much water each kind of plant will need so that you don’t under- or over-water your plants. A good rule of thumb is to water plants when the top of the soil becomes dry. And make sure to evenly saturate the soil. Use planterss with drainage holes so excess water can be released. Otherwise, the roots could rot.

Find good sources for plants

Once you know the basics, you can start collecting your plants! Local garden centers and florists are great places to get plants that can grow in your area. Do you have any friends or family who have indoor plants? Then see if they will share divisions or cuttings with you. This is a great way to increase your collection without spending a lot of money. You may also find free or inexpensive plants on local sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Of course, many people sell plants online. Look for suppliers that have good reviews so that you’ll know the plant will arrive healthy and ready for its new home.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Cleaning Your Home for Holiday Guests

By Virtual Results

Cleaning Your Home for Holiday GuestsOne of the greatest joys of being a homeowner is welcoming guests to your home during the holidays. While holiday hosting is certainly fun, it does require some preparation — including cleaning. Sure, you’d love to deep-clean your entire place before the first guest arrives. But with an ever-growing to-do list, that may not be possible. Instead, focus on some key areas that will make your home look clean and inviting.

Declutter

It seems like every cleaning list starts with decluttering, but that’s only because it’s so important. If you don’t have a chance to do any other cleaning for holiday guests, you should at the very least declutter your home. While your guests may not notice a little dust here and there, they will notice that pile of laundry on the couch or all the kids’ toys on the floor of the living room. Focus on the areas where your guests will be gathering and make sure everything is put away.

Clean the bathrooms

Whether you’re just having guests for dinner or you’re welcoming family for an overnight stay, there’s one place you should definitely clean — the bathrooms. If you have more than one bathroom in your home, chances are they will all be used. So this is an area you’ll want to deep clean. Stock extra toilet paper, hand towels, and hand soap. Clean all the surfaces and wash towels, rugs, bath mats, and shower curtains.

Scrub the kitchen

Your holiday hosting no doubt involves food. Even if it’s just take-out, you should still scrub your kitchen. People tend to congregate in the kitchen, and a messy kitchen can make your whole home look — and smell — bad. Clean off counterspace, put away lesser-used appliances, scrub surfaces, and toss expired food from the fridge. Empty the trash and clean the floor.

Give your entryway some love

All your guests will be coming through your door, so make a good first impression by giving your entryway some love. Wipe down the front door, vacuum the welcome mat, and make space for shoes and coats. Add some decorative touches like a wreath on the front door. If you would like your guests to remove their shoes, then consider handing out cozy socks as gifts they can take home.

Make sure there’s enough seating

You may have discovered you don’t have enough seating for everyone, even after you’ve decluttered the living room. If needed, move seating in from other rooms or rent or borrow some folding chairs. Have spaces available for guests to set down their food and drinks. And have a few cozy throw blankets available in case anyone gets cold.

Prepare the guest bedroom

Finally, if you have overnight guests staying, then make sure they have a nice comfortable place to sleep. If you have a guest bedroom, then make sure it’s dusted and put fresh linens on the bed. For those without guest bedrooms, create a nice place to sleep in another room with an inflatable mattress or cot. Provide cozy extras for guests like plush towels, bathrobes, and extras pillows and blankets. And make sure they know where coffee is in the morning!

Compliments of Virtual Results

Buying a House As-Is

By Virtual Results

Buying a House As-Is

If you’re in the market for a new home, then you may have come across some listings for homes that are being sold “as-is”. But what does that mean, and should you be concerned? Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect when you’re buying a house in as-is condition.

What “as-is” means

When someone sells their home as-is, it means that they do not want to complete any repairs before they close on the home. As a buyer, there are no guarantees that everything in the home will be in working condition. If you discover any problems with a home that you’ve purchased as-is, then you will be responsible for those repairs and the costs associated with them.

What “as-is” doesn’t mean

Just because a home is being as-is doesn’t mean it’s in terrible condition. You aren’t necessarily buying a home that needs major renovations to be livable. In many cases, the seller may simply not want to deal with minor issues or they may not have the money to make repairs. The sellers may also need to move quickly and can’t wait for contractors to finish repairs.

You should insist on a home inspection

If you’re thinking about buying a home that is listed as-is, then you should definitely get a home inspection. An inspection will uncover any issues in the home so that you will know what to expect. But what if your seller refuses an inspection? This could be a red flag. It could mean that they know there are major issues and they want to hide them in order to complete the sale.

Disclosures are still required

When you purchase an as-is home, you still have the right to seller disclosures. There are laws in every state that dictate what a seller must tell you about a home before selling. These regulations differ from state to state, but they can often include pest infestations, water damage, or mold problems. However, be aware that a seller must always disclose if there has ever been lead paint in the home as it is a federal regulation.

“As-is” might not mean the whole home

Sometimes, sellers may only specify some components of the home to be in as-is condition, not the entire home itself. Some common components that may be sold as-is include fireplaces, pools, garages, sheds, and major appliances. Find out exactly which elements of the home are being sold in as-is condition because you may be able to request repairs on those that are not.

You may have limited financing options

Not all lenders are willing to offer to finance a home sold in as-is condition. As a buyer, you need to understand what your options are. You may be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage, but you’ll need to shop around for a lender for your specific situation. Some lenders may only allow minor issues and many not finance a home in poor condition. Homes that are sold as-is usually do not qualify for mortgages backed by the federal government, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Save on Your Home Staging

By Virtual Results

Save on Your Home StagingStaging your home can make a big difference when it comes time to sell. The more attractive your home is to potential buyers, the faster you can close and the more money you can make. While many sellers think home staging is expensive, that isn’t always the case. In fact, you can successfully stage your home without spending much cash at all. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Banish clutter

The first thing you should do if you want to stage your home on a budget is to get rid of all the clutter. Today’s buyers are looking for space, and clutter makes your home look smaller. It also makes it appear that you don’t care about your home. So when you’re selling, you need to pack up all that clutter and keep it in storage.

Remove personal items

In addition to getting rid of clutter, you should also remove personal items when you’re selling your home. This includes family photos, sports team memorabilia, travel souvenirs, and the like. Buyers will want to envision themselves in the home, which can be tough to do when surrounded by someone else’s personal stuff.

Clean

Once you’ve de-cluttered, it’s time to give your home a deep clean. Most buyers want to buy a home that’s move-in ready, which includes being sparkling clean. This is especially true for kitchens and bathrooms. If you don’t have the time or energy to do a thorough cleaning, then consider hiring a professional cleaning crew to do the job.

Rearrange furniture

Refresh your home’s interior by making the best use of the furniture you already have. That could mean moving furniture from one room to another. You don’t want any room to feel cramped. So if that extra armchair in the living room is making the space feel smaller, think about relocating it to a bedroom or office. When arranging furniture, make sure it’s easy to move around the room and take traffic patterns into consideration.

Shop your own home

You probably already have plenty of lovely items that you can use to take your home to the next level when you’re staging. Do you have a beautiful set of dishes that you only use for special occasions? Then use them to set the dining room table. Put out your nicest towels, display a collection of cookbooks in the kitchen, or get a fabulous flower arrangement for that crystal vase you got as a wedding gift.

Give each room a purpose

Do you have a room or space in your home that doesn’t have a defined purpose? Then you should create one when you’re staging. You want buyers to see your home’s full potential. So take that spare bedroom you use for storage and create a home office or child’s playroom. Or use the awkward space next to the back door as a functional mudroom.

Think like a buyer

Finally, if you want to save money on your staging, then it pays to think like a buyer. Who would a typical buyer for your home be? For example, if you have a large home with several bedrooms, then you’re most likely to get potential buyers who are families with kids. Knowing who your buyers are will help you cater the space to what they’re looking for.

Compliments of Virtual Results

What All-Cash Buyers Should Know

By Virtual Results

What All-Cash Buyers Should Know

In today’s competitive real estate market, more and more buyers are trying to beat out other offers by paying cash. While there’s no denying that buying a house with cash has many benefits, it isn’t necessarily the best choice for every buyer. If you’re thinking about purchasing a home with cash you’ve saved, then here’s what you should know.

Gather your money

Is your cash socked away in a variety of places? Then you’ll want to gather your money before you begin the homebuying process. If your money is in places like money market accounts or stocks, then talk to a financial advisor or tax professional before you cash them out. There may be implications for liquidating these assets.

Get a proof-of-funds letter

Once you’ve gotten your money together in one place, it can be helpful to get a proof-of-funds letter from your bank. This will make your all-cash offer even more competitive against other offers. It’s also more secure than providing a bank statement to show evidence of your funds, as statements can contain sensitive financial information.

Consider adding contingencies

It’s common for buyers to include contingencies when making an offer on a house. One of the most common contingencies is a financing contingency. This states that you won’t be on the hook for buying the home if you don’t qualify for financing. Fortunately, as an all-cash buyer, you won’t need to include this contingency. But you should consider adding an inspection contingency to ensure you’re buying a home in good condition. You might also add an appraisal contingency to ensure you’re paying fair market value for the home.

Prepare for the closing process

While buying a home with cash makes the closing process much easier, it doesn’t eliminate it altogether. There are still important steps you need to take before closing on the house. This includes performing a title search to make sure the home is clear of any liens or other encumbrances. You should also have a home inspection and land survey, which will define the boundaries of your property.

Secure money for the closing

When you buy a home with cash, you’re not bringing a briefcase full of Benjamins to the closing. You will need to get a cashier’s check for the amount of the home, minus the money you paid as an earnest money deposit. Funds can also be applied via wire transfer. Make sure you understand how the money should be delivered before you get to the closing table.

Do a final walk-through

Before you finally close on the home, you should do a final walk-through. This way you’ll know the home is in the condition you are expecting. Make sure that everything that is supposed to be included with the home is there and that the home is clean.

Be ready for other closing costs

While closing costs for all-cash deals are often less than when you’re financing the purchase, you should still prepare for some additional fees. This could include fees for the title search, agents’ fees, and homeowners association fees. Know who will be responsible for paying each of the fees, which should be clearly stated in your contract.

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