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Selling a Home: Your Home’s First Impression

home stagingWhen it comes to selling your home, there is more to it than simply connecting with a licensed Mississippi real estate agent and popping a For Sale sign in your front yard.  If you want to compete with other houses and draw in prospective homebuyers, then you need to up your curb appeal and home staging game.

Remember how your mom used to tell you about how important it is to make a good first impression?  Well, this is one of those times!  You will only get one shot to impress and draw-in homebuyers, so make sure you’re putting your home’s best foot forward.

Sell a Home: Curb Appeal

Your home’s first impression is its curb appeal — you want your home to be inviting and welcoming from the moment a potential buyer pulls up to the curb.  Remember, you only get one shot to engage with them enough that they’ll want to come in and take a tour, so make sure you put your best foot forward.

Here are a few great ways to create engaging curb appeal:

  • Step one is to tidy up the yard.  Rake up any leaves or branches, remove dead or dying plants from the beds and replace them with fresh seasonal flowers, and mow the yard.
  • Remove excess clutter from the front porch, but leave elements that give a warm and inviting appearances like chairs for sitting, a small table, and a couple of potted plants.
  • The next step is to spruce up the exterior of the house.  By that, we mean the siding, paint, and gutters.  Replace or repair broken pieces and patch openings.
  • Finally, give your windows a good cleaning on both the exterior and interior of your house.

Sell a Home: Home Staging

To give potential buyers that ‘ahhhhhhhh’ moment when they walk through the door, make sure your home staging is on point!  Follow these tips to create the perfect setting:

  • Clear out the clutter by packing away any items that could detract from a potential homebuyer imagining the home as their own — we’re talking pictures, kid’s toys and artwork.  You might also consider decluttering shelves, stashing jewelry and toiletry items in drawers, and ensuring that your bathroom is pristine.
  • You want to make each room appear as spacious as you can, so start by removing and storing furniture that isn’t a necessity.  Another trick to making a room appear bigger is to roll up area rugs and rearrange the furniture that is left to create a more intimate, cozy setting.
  • The next step to perfect home staging is to stay as neutral as possible — and of course, we’re talking paint colors.  Painting is a quick fix that will freshen up the appearance of your home’s interior. Keeping things neutral, like a soft grey or beige color, will help support the buyer’s imagination of what the house could look like if they purchase it.  Plus, the fresh coat of paint gives the appearance of being move-in ready!
  • And finally, create a sense of home and tranquility by setting the mood.  Leaving a plate of warm cookies (without nuts in case of food allergies) and a note will envoke a feeling of love and happiness, enhancing the buyer’s emotional connection to your home.  You can also play calming music in the background.

Have more questions on how to stage your home like a pro?  Contact me and I’ll help you create the perfect first impression!

 

Moving Tips for Homebuyers

You bought a new house — congratulations!  Now the hard work begins as your prepare to move into your new home.  Here are a few moving  tips to help make your move less stressful and go as smoothly as possible:

  1. moving tipsResearch your options for movers and don’t just settle for the first company that appears in the search results.  Ask around and check references.  You want to work with a company that you know will get your items from your old house to your new houses safely and at a reasonable price.
  2. Speaking of price, when you get estimates, be honest and tell them about everything you’re going to want them to move.  Sandbagging items can slow down your move and potentially cost you more.
  3. Book your move early so you can secure the best date and time for your schedule.  If you wait until the last minute to book your movers, odds are you’ll be forced into their schedule and timeframe.
  4. If you’re having your home packed by professionals, be there while they pack.  Being able to oversee their progress will give you peace of mind and the advantage of knowing what’s going in each box.  You can also label and tag the boxes (color-coded stickers for each room) yourself and put your last name on the box along with a description of what’s going inside.
  5. If you’re coming from an apartment, block off parking if possible.  Having parking that is closer to your front door will give the movers an advantage, making it easier for them, and help to move the process along at a quicker pace.
  6. Take inventory of what you have once the packing is complete and before the movers arrive.  This way you’ll know that you have everything and nothing is missing or was left behind.
  7. Have bottled water and a few easy to handle snacks available to offer your movers.  A simple gesture of appreciation will go a long way with their morale — and potentially the pace at which they move your belongs.
  8. As your movers are unloading, move larger items, like furniture and rugs, into position.  This will make it easier for you to unpack once you start the process.
  9. Once the move is complete, take time to inventory everything and make sure nothing was damaged during the move before you sign the statement of delivery from the movers.  And it’s not a bad idea to take a moment to review the fine print, as some companies may not accept reports of broken items after you sign-off.
  10. Pack a suitcase with everything you’ll need for the first 2 to 3 days, including toiletries, towels, medication, and clothes.  This way you’ll be able to unpack at a leisurely pace instead of finding yourself frantically looking for the box containing your toothbrush and PJs.

How to Search for a Home

When house-hunting fever strikes, it’s easy to let it take over and just download the latest real estate app and immediately hit the streets to tour homes on your own.  If you want to be successful though, there are a few tips and questions you should prepare for first.

To help you find the best possible home for you and your family, here are my best tips on how to search for a new home the right way.

Do Your Research First

Yes, your real estate agent is the expert, but as with anything in life, you want to come to the table prepared.  Do your homework and be proactive!

Check out the neighborhoods you like online and drive around the area on the weekends and in the evenings, so you can get a feel for your potential neighbors, the activity and vibe of the area, the schools, and the overall community.

Understand the Terminology and Process

Purchasing a home is unlike any other purchase you’ll ever make.  It’s both exciting and overwhelming, so you want to be as prepared as possible before you begin the process.

If this is your first home purchase, take time to understand the real estate process and basic terminology.

Home Search Tips

  • Avoid searching for homes that are over your budget.  Establish your parameters before you start your home search, stay within your budget, and allow some wiggle room for negotiating.
  • Always take your realtor with you when you tour a home.  Their extra set of expert eyes will spot things you might otherwise overlook.  Also, if they let you, snap a few photos and takes notes so you can remember the details about the house later.
  • Before you make an offer, walk through the home twice.  You might be surprised by what you notice the second time through.
  • Speaking of touring a home, open all doors, windows, and cabinets.  You want to know as much as you can about the house before you consider making an offer.
  • If it’s your second walkthrough, bring your tape measure and make sure the house will fit your furniture.  Also, take a moment to just sit quietly in the living and the master bedroom to find out how much outside noise you can hear.  If possible, tour the home first on a weekday and the second time on a weekend so you’ll get a full idea of what the neighborhood is like.

Work with a Realtor

In today’s digital age, with so much information available at your fingertips, many people wonder if they really need to work with a realtor or if they can buy and/or sell a home on their own.

While there are some people who are able to do this successfully, trying to buy or sell a home on your own is risky business and not something most of us should attempt.  The experience and expertise a realtor brings to the table can save you time and money.

A realtor will also make the overall search process easier by doing the legwork for you — they will pull together a list of houses that meet your wants and needs and call to schedule the showings on your behalf.

Ready to get started? Contact me now!

Your 7-Step Checklist for Your Final Pre-Purchase Home Walkthrough

You have found the perfect house and now it’s time to sign the final paperwork. Congratulations!  However, before you head into closing, it is essential that you take one final home walkthrough inspection to ensure everything has been taken care of and no major issues were missed prior to taking ownership.

My final home walkthrough checklist includes everything you want to examine one last time with your real estate agent, for your peace of mind, before closing.

Step 1: Be Prepared

Before you step foot into your future home for your final walkthrough, ensure you have everything you need with you in your Walkthrough Survival Kit for the trip.  Here are the must-have items to have with you:

  • Your real estate agent/realtor (always keep them at your side)
  • Your contract of sale
  • Your inspection summary and any warranties/repair receipts
  • Your cell phone and list or preprogram numbers you might need
  • Your inspector

Step 2: Review All Post-Inspection Repairs

In this step, you will review all items that were identified as needing attention in your Inspection Summary.  If you can have your inspector on hand for this process, that would be best, as he/she will be able to point out where things are up-to-code or where corners were cut that shouldn’t have been.

Step 3: Cleanliness and Move-out Damage

Now that the previous owners have moved out, it’s time to assess the situation.  Let’s take a look to make sure that the house was left in a clean and orderly state and that no major damage was done during their move out. Make sure you check everywhere, including the garage, attic, outdoor shed, and basement.

Spend ample time reviewing the kitchen and all bathrooms as both areas are prime locations for small damages and plumbing issues.  Take some time to inspect appliances, plumbing, and faucets as well.

If you do spot damage, make a note of it and if it’s significant, ask that it either be fixed prior to closing or that a contingency plan/retribution be offered as part of the closing agreement.

Step 4: Inspect Doors and Windows

As you’re going through each room of the house, take time to carefully inspect all doors and windows.  You’re looking for leaks in the seals, doors that are off hinges, locks that don’t work, and windows that stick or don’t open.

It might seem silly, but fixing these type of issues once you move in can be a time-consuming hassle.

Step 5: Test the HVAC and Sprinkler Systems

Next on your list is to fully test the HVAC and sprinkler systems.  To test the HVAC, turn on the heat and go room-to-room to ensure that it’s heating as it should; then, do the same for the air conditioning.

Unless it’s winter and the sprinkler system has been shut down for the season, go ahead and test out the sprinklers.  If it has been shut down and flushed out already, add a contingency to your closing that will help cover any costly repairs that might already be there that you could get stuck with post close.

Step 6: Thoroughly Inspect the Electrical System

Following the same principles, as we defined with the HVAC and sprinkler systems, you should do a detailed inspection of your electrical system prior to closing and identify any issues that might have been previously overlooked.  Here is a list of items you can focus on in your review:

  • All electrical outlets (if there is a reset, make sure it functions)
  • Circuit breaker or breaker box
  • All light switches
  • The doorbell
  • The security system and fire alarms
  • Garage door operating system (interior wall mount, outside code mount, and handheld openers)
  • Outdoor lighting

Step 7: Exterior Walk About

Finally, you should go outside to walk your property and examine the condition of both the outside of the house and the yard itself.  Be on the lookout for missing or damaged siding, cracks in pavement or pavers, gutter damage, or rickety/rotted wood on decks and gazeboes.

Final Home Walkthrough Outcome

Once you’ve completed your final walkthrough, sit down with your inspector and real estate agent and put together your plan.  Identify items that must be fixed before closing, items that can be covered via a line item or addendum to the closing documentation, and items that are super small and you are willing to cover yourself.

Once you’ve established your list and you are comfortable with what you’re asking for, your real estate agent will handle it for you and you’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ll be walking into closing with things in perfect order.

Have more questions on what to look for during your final home inspection walkthrough?  Contact me and I’ll help you through the entire process!

Home Value: Estimate Before You Sell

Are you considering selling your home?  Before you start the process of putting your home on the market, do a quick home value estimate first.  A quick estimate will give you an idea of whether or not selling will give you a good enough return on your investment to make now the right time to sell.

Home value estimators also provide a great guide for bidding on a potential home you are interested in.  The estimator will give you an idea of what homes of similar value go for in the same area.  While your realtor will provide you with more information to use in your final offer, an estimator is a great first-line of reference during the process.

Here are two home value estimators I recommend:

Home Value Estimator by NerdWallet

Home Value Estimator by Chase

Once you have your home value estimate, contact me and let’s discuss optimal pricing and get started on the process of getting your home on the market!