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What should you consider when buying a second home?

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Most importantly, can you afford a second home? If you’re having difficulty maintaining and keeping up with the expenses of your primary residence, a second home will only further create strain. Can you afford a second mortgage? Can you afford insurance? If you plan on being at the property sporadically, can you afford its upkeep when you’re not present? While vacation homes can be lucrative investments, you will likely have to sink money into the property long before you start to see sizable returns.

Let’s talk taxes. Come Tax Day, you’ll need to do additional work when it comes to your second property. In many regards, the taxes on primary and secondary homes are similar, but there are some distinct differences. Particularly when it comes to renting out your second property. If you choose to rent out your second home (which is a very popular choice among secondary home owners) you will be on the hook for a considerable amount of additional paperwork. Be mindful that all rental receipts must be reported to the IRS as income. You are however allotted 15 days to rent out the home without penalty. Any amount of time surpassing 15 days, and you will need to report the property and its income to the IRS. Unlike your primary residence, all profits from the sale of a second home will be taxed as capital gain. In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for write offs. Although, it’s best not to bank on getting significant tax exemptions.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of renting out a property? It is assumed that when you buy a secondary property, you will typically spend less time at that location than your primary residence. Many people who own multiples homes choose to live in one place during the warmer months, and a secondary property during the colder months. If your secondary home is sitting dormant for a significant amount of time during the year, it may be worthwhile to rent it out. Or perhaps you are looking to buy a property for the sole purpose of renting it out. Either way, you can potentially generate a sizable profit from the home when you’re not actively using it.

Beware of the unforeseen responsibilities associated with renting out a home. A vacation property will require upkeep, particularly if you want to make it habitable for renters when you’re not there. Certain climates, like the beach for instance, require a lot of upkeep from the natural wear and tear associated with location. If you want to have a successful rental property, you’ll need to invest a certain amount of money to keep the home functional. Where is your second home located in proximity to your primary residence? Is your secondary home in a popular tourist location? This can make a significant difference if you depend on the income from renters to keep your secondary home functioning. Certain areas won’t be as lucrative simply because they don’t draw in a large amount of tourism. Any issues that arise with the home, will be your responsibility to fix, as is the case with your primary residence.

If you choose not to rent out a secondary property, be prepared to funnel money into upkeep, regardless. Some people may believe that if a home is not being actively used, it won’t need consistent attending to. Like any other building, there will be necessary upkeep required regardless of how often the home is used. You will still likely need to have people check on the home periodically, particularly if you have landscaping and/or exterior needs to attend to. This is especially important to keep in mind if you live in an area where there is a strict Home Owners Association (HOA). Many HOA’s have rules and regulations, regarding exterior appearance, that will result in consequences if ignored. You will likely need to contract out workers to help keep the house within regulations.

Do your research before buying a property.  Just because you love visiting that California coastal town, doesn’t mean you should buy a vacation property there. A vacation property comes with far more responsibility than people often realize. You will need to learn about local laws and ordinances that may vary drastically from where your primary residence is located. Certain cities have unique rules when it comes to renting out properties, particularly if they receive heavy tourist traffic. Utilities and cost of living can be significantly different depending on where you buy. A dreamlike vacation home can shortly turn into a nightmare if you fail to do the research beforehand.

Speaking of research, get to know the culture of the area before you buy. Living in an area and vacationing in that area are vastly different experiences. We can easily get caught up in the beauty of a location without realizing that everywhere worth living has drawbacks. You may come to realize that while the location is beautiful, you’re not a fan of the culture. Maybe the politics don’t align with what you prefer. If you’re planning on spending a considerable amount of time at your second property, don’t impulse buy. Rather, allow yourself the opportunity to visit multiple times before jumping into anything contractually binding. A second home is a large undertaking, and should be treated as such.

When getting serious, speak with a local real estate agent. A reputable real estate agent will be able to take you through the process of buying a home in that specific area. They will have the knowledge necessary to give you the local perspective, and guide you to make the most practical decision.

Consider alternatives to full ownership. Buying a secondary home is a big undertaking, and not everyone is prepared to take the plunge. There are other alternatives at your disposal if you’re looking for a bit less responsibility. You can always go the route of shared ownership, and split the costs among various shareholders. This will help alleviate some of the financial burden, so that one individual isn’t the only fall person for any damages. Timeshares are also a popular alternative, and can be less expensive depending on what company you choose to buy through. Timeshares also eliminate the primary responsibility of maintaining a property.

A vacation home is a lot of responsibility, but for many, a worthwhile investment. Overall, it’s up to you to decide whether a secondary home is worth it. Much like buying a primary residence, there are many variables to consider. In certain ways, buying a secondary home requires even more research and flexibility.





When is the Right Time to Buy a Home?

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Feeling the itch to move lately? Whether you’ve outgrown your current space, or simply want a change of scenery, here are 5 reasons why it might be time to start looking into purchasing a larger home.

  1. Your finances are ideal for an upgrade. When it comes to buying a home, your financial standing will ultimately dictate what you can comfortably afford. A lot of people who are looking to size up, may find the urge arising because they’re in better financial standing than ever before. Perhaps you’ve recently acquired a generous raise, or landed a new, higher paying position. A good first step is to create an inventory of your finances, and decipher where exactly you stand. More income can translate into more housing opportunities, although, with a more expensive home comes more expensive payments, and a potential for new unforeseen costs. Buying a bigger home makes the most sense when your income is stable, and you suspect it will remain so. Jumping the gun too quickly can have potentially devastating side effects. While you’ll never regret erring on the side of caution, you may come to regret being careless. With this in mind, be diligent with your finances.


  1. Your family has grown, and you’re ready to expand. The needs of a first-time homebuyer are often different than those of a growing family. One bathroom was probably ideal back when it was just you and your significant other, but after a couple of kids that extra space can start to look really appealing. You may find your family has simply outgrown the confines of your starter home. Perhaps you want a bigger backyard, or would like to add on a few new bedrooms. Whatever the case may be, if you’re starting to feel the strain of growing pains, it’s probably a good time to look into purchasing some additional leg room. If you’re not sure exactly what your family’s needs will be, you can start by mapping out your collective, future goals. Do you want more kids? What about space for pets? As your kids get older, what do you foresee your children’s needs as being? Don’t be afraid to do some brainstorming.


  1. You’ve outgrown your neighborhood and desire different things. Neighborhoods, much like families, can change over time. Families who outgrow their homes, also have a tendency to outgrow their neighborhoods. Better schools, or shorter commute times, are incentives to check out new areas. Safety also has a tendency to become a priority when families expand. Neighborhoods are constantly evolving, and realistically, you may not feel as comfortable in your community as you once did in years prior. On the contrary, a neighborhood that wasn’t desirable 10 years ago, may be up and coming and offer good potential for a profitable investment. Reputable realtors are able to predict the trends of neighborhoods, and help you decide where your dollar will go the furthest.


  1. Market conditions indicate a favorable time to move. The real estate market can be quite volatile, and will vary significantly depending on where you live. Like most any investment-based game, markets will ebb and flow accordingly. Essentially, certain times will prove more desirable than others when it comes time to play ball. Incidentally, if your market is experiencing a “slump” your realtor may recommend buying property. It may seem counterintuitive, but slumps aren’t inherently bad times to consider purchasing. In fact, during a “slump”, home prices experience a decline, and you may find your overall expected payments to be lower. This allows for the buyer’s dollar to potentially go further. For example, you may find sellers more eager to take lowball offers because the market isn’t currently saturated with eager buyers. However, it’s best to still consult your realtor before buying in a specific market, and get the full details to ensure your investment will likely yield returns down the line. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing the same problems down the line.


  1. Above all else, don’t make the move unless you’re ready. There are a lot of reasons people may feel inclined to buy a house before they’re ready, be it social pressures, or the feeling that you “must” be in a state of seeking constant upgrade. Buyers can easily fall victim to moving prematurely if they’re not careful. If you’re content with your current standing, there’s no need to move forward just because the timing is ideal. What’s more important is figuring out what the best decision is for you personally. This may mean you want a few more years to save up money, or potentially see how the neighborhoods in your area evolve before you go looking for new property. If you’re not ready to move, take your time and be practical. Just because the market is good now, doesn’t mean it won’t be good again later. Time is a resource you can never get back; therefore, the best course of action will always entail moving at a pace that makes sense for you.






Should You Save For a Down Payment or Pay Off Debt?

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Looking to buy a new home, but not sure how your debt factors into the equation? Here are some suggestions to help you decipher how best to move forward.

Before you make a decision, assess your current financial standing. This is universally good advice when you go to make any major purchase. If you have outstanding debt that needs to be remedied, this may not necessarily be a hurdle to home ownership, but it can make the qualification process or saving money for a down payment more difficult. Before you make any decisions, a comprehensive inventory of your current financial standing is advisable. You can work towards saving for a down payment, while simultaneously making payments on debt. It may seem a daunting task initially, but getting organized with a strict budget can help you do both. A minimal amount of change today, may equate to a hefty savings down the road.

In order to determine the best route moving forward, let’s define what exactly a down payment is. A down payment is a portion of the total sales price of your home. The payment is added to your transaction to reduce the amount you need to finance and will help determine how much home you can comfortably afford. Like most payment requirements, the higher the numerical value of your down payment, the better equipped you will be in the eyes of the lender. You should be aware that most down payment figures are discussed and calculated using percentages.

While a down payment is not always necessary, they are the standard in many home ownership transactions. While in some circumstances you won’t need a down payment to purchase a property, they often serve to help alleviate the amount you need to borrow. It should be noted that most mortgage lenders will require a down payment regardless of the sale. A down payment indicates to lenders that you are serious about your purchase. It shows interest, and often is a signal to lenders that you are less of a risk for them to finance.

Where does money from a down payment come from? There are a few places where you can gather money for a down payment. If you already have a home that you’re selling, this is historically the most lucrative asset you have. Many people will take money from the sale of their home and funnel it directly into a new purchase. With that said, saving a decent chunk of change from a sale will prove beneficial down the line. Some people will dip into their savings in order to finance a down payment. Be cautious of doing so. If you’re going to use your savings to cover a down payment, be practical in what you take out. Savings are often a fail-safe for people in case of emergency. Nevertheless, once you get organized, you can help map out how exactly you wish to save your money. No matter what you do, just make sure you’re aware of where your savings stand.

Down payments also help determine how much you can borrow. Down payments allow lenders insight into your financial standing. Most experts would agree that a down payment is reflective of healthy financial standing, and shows that you are prepared for homeownership. Even the process of being able to save and accumulate money is often very telling of a buyer’s discipline. Down payments can also help protect buyers from negative equity should the market suffer a downturn. The more you are able to invest down payment wise, the better your opportunity to see sizeable returns.

Without a down payment, things can get tricky, but there are other avenues worth exploring. Fortunately, certain populations may be eligible for loans and assistance. If you or your spouse has served in the military you may qualify for a Veterans Affairs Loan, which requires 0% down, and unlike other loans, requires no mortgage insurance. The Department of Veteran Affairs will insure the loan on your behalf. However, be mindful that there are certain requirements you must have met, and these include 90 consecutive days of active war time duty, or 181 days during peacetime. You can discuss the criteria even further with your loan officer. For those not military affiliated, the Federal Housing Administration only requires a down payment of 3.5%, as opposed to the industry standard 20%. However, in order to be granted an FHA loan, you will still need to maintain a decent credit score. Scores as low as 500 may qualify. Although, if your score errs on the lower side, you may be required to put down more than the standard 3.5%. States also have programs available, if you’d rather curtail the federal approach. There are more than 2,000+ payment programs nationally that offer financial assistance. Be mindful that while most of these programs give you breaks on down payment percentages, there are still stipulations to be wary of. Essentially, if you forgo a down payment, you could still end up paying through other avenues.

A little bit of debt is not necessarily a road block. Many reputable lenders will still be willing to work with you, and explore alternatives, particularly if they see strides being made to settle your debt. However, most lenders will advise you to think critically about moving forward with a purchase if they see a large amount of outstanding debt. In circumstances like this, it’s probably best to settle any major debt, or procure a payment plan to ensure you are actively working toward becoming debt free. This will help alleviate major stress that often comes with the home buying process.

Not sure where to start? Have a conversation with your lender. Lenders are far more knowledgeable about the payment process than anyone else, and can advise their clientele on a case by case basis. If you are on the fence about what to do, seek out advice from a seasoned loan officer. They will be able to piece together your specific financial history and circumstances in order to give you the best advice moving forward. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions if you’re struggling to come up with a long-term plan that makes sense for you. Remember that everyone’s circumstances are different, and you may be eligible for certain assistance programs.

In a nutshell, if you are able to provide a down payment, you are in an optimal financial position for homeownership. More down payment means more house, better financing opportunities, and peace of mind for both you and your lender.





The Organized Approach to Selling Your Home

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When it comes to selling your home, you may feel like large amounts of stress are inevitable. While discomfort is to be expected with most lifechanging events, you can certainly minimize your stress level by adhering to a few simple tips and tricks. The following are ways you can help manage your stress when it comes to the home-selling process.  

Take your time with the planning process. Deciding to sell your home, doesn’t mean that everything needs to fall into place on that very same day. Certain circumstances may require for you to sell your home in a very quick timeframe, but for the most part, you should allow yourself to get a game plan in motion. What are your goals when it comes to selling your home? What are you hoping to recoup in the reselling process? Being able to both keep, and update, a plan will serve you well throughout the duration of the selling process. Having deadlines readily available will help eliminate stress.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, use the resources around you. Stress relief is often just a phone call away. While certain tasks may be easier to tackle independently, remember that reaching out is always an option. Are you unsure about a specific part of the process? Are you feeling overwhelmed with deadlines? Allow yourself to reach out to your contacts when necessary. Having a good team surrounding you can make all the difference when it comes to minimizing your stress levels.

Conduct an honest assessment of your home, is now an ideal time to sell? Maximizing profit, when it comes to selling a home, is an important component of the process for most sellers. That being said, certain times of the year are optimal for maximizing returns. Is it the dead of winter? Most reputable real estate agents will advise you to wait till spring. Are their major repairs that need attending to? Fix these issues before you try and market your home to potential sellers. If your home is riddled with problems, your stress level will skyrocket as potential buyers may continuously overlook your property, even if the home is ideal in other aspects. Don’t rely on certain aspects of the home to carry a sale if there are notable red flags.

If you’re unsure of your home’s overall value, consult your agent, and perhaps look into getting an appraisal done. Figuring out how to appropriately price your home can be a massive stress trigger for sellers. Not sure where to start? Enlist the help of your team. Real estate agents have access to information regarding your neighborhood that may affect your sale. They’ll be able to tell you what houses of comparable size, and quality, sold for in your area. Although, this doesn’t always account for certain lucrative amenities your home may possess. In fact, if you’ve done significant overhauls and remodels to your property, getting an appraisal may be worthwhile. In any case, seek the help of professionals when it comes to getting your home priced correctly. Having a home sit on the market for a considerable amount of time, will obviously correlate with your stress level. Get a second opinion when relevant.

Once you’ve hammered out the details regarding the property you’re selling, figure out where you’re headed to next. Not having a new home or living arrangement lined up, can be one of the biggest stressors of the entire selling process. The actual sale of your home is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. While you’re working on selling your home, it’s time to decide what your future plans entail. This doesn’t mean you need to have another home lined up immediately, but it is encouraged to have a general idea of where you’ll be next. Are you staying in the same city? The same state? Are you planning on buying a larger or smaller home? Do you need more space to breathe, or are you in a position to downsize? These are all questions that are important to mull over.

The highest monetary offer on your home, may not always be the most lucrative. This is where having a reputable real estate agent in the selling process is essential. Most sellers will automatically look at the highest offer on their home as the most financially smart. While this can often be the case, take the time to really digest the offer as a whole. Certain offers may have surprise clauses not automatically recognizable to you. Consult your agent and those on your team to decipher what the best comprehensive offer is, particularly if you find yourself attending to various offers.

We’ve discussed the importance of real estate agents in several of the previous points. Let’s discus the importance of finding the right real estate agent. Whether this is your first time selling, or you’re a seasoned veteran, finding a qualified real estate agent can help the entire process run significantly smoother. How do you find a good agent? There are a few things you can do to vet agents. For starters, the internet gives you access to reviews, at the click of a mouse. How long has this realtor been in the business? How many transactions have they completed? What are the popular companies in your area? These are some good questions to help you establish a point of reference. Have you had friends or family who have recently moved? Who did they work with, and were they satisfied? Those in your inner circle can steer you away from people they had bad experiences with, and/or lead you to a quality agent.

Take a deep breath, and remember, it’s okay to have emotions. Experiencing stress and feeling overwhelmed are completely normal when navigating the home selling process. Selling a home can be a surprisingly emotional experience, even if you’re happy to be moving on. Change can be intimidating whether it’s wanted or not. Allow yourself the space to feel sadness surrounding the sale of your home. This is why having an agent and others in your corner can help alleviate stress. Professionals will give you ample space to deal with the emotional aspects of the process, while they deal with the logistics.







Turning Your Home Into an Investment Property

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What is an investment property? An investment property, in the traditional sense, is a property usually not inhabited by the homeowner, or is inhabited on a part time basis. The ultimate goal of an investment property is to generate a profit. This is primarily done by listing your home as a rental property, or making an income through capital gains.

What are capital gains, and how can I make them work in my benefit? As first-time homeowners, buyers are often inclined to start smaller with a starter property, keeping in mind the potential of upsizing in the future. We often associate our first-time home as a starter home, and because of this, first time buyers may be more inclined to purchase homes that need slight or significant remodels. Capital gains are not limited to homeownership, but in the context of homeownership it means this; investments that are put into the home, making it more profitable come resale time.

You may be familiar with the term flipping houses, capital gains are a distant cousin to flipping. In the real estate business, many investors will take homes that need drastic remodels, buy them, and resell them at a higher price. Say you purchase a new home, not with the intention to immediately flip it, but decide that over time you will funnel money into its remodel. This is a way to yield profit with capital gains. Certain remodels may drastically alter the price point of your home. Some examples of investment remodels are: adding landscaping, replacing the roof, installing hardwood flooring, or redoing major rooms like bathrooms, or the kitchen.

You will not immediately have a return on capital gains, but come sell time, these upgrades will increase a home’s overall value. Money that you put into your house, will likely be a major selling point when it comes time to price your home. On a real estate listing, you’ll often see an emphasis on remodels being mentioned. Take note of significant changes that you make to the fabric of your home. These changes may potentially help you make a profit when it’s time to sell.

The most significant way to make return investments on a property, is through renting it out. Over the duration of living in your home, your financial and personal circumstances may start changing. Perhaps you have purchased an additional property, and would like to make that your full-time residence? Typically, this would be the point at which you look into selling. However, if you’re looking for a way to turn a profit on a home you no longer want to live in, renting it out is a way to do so, without losing the property.

However, before deciding on renting your home out, weigh the pros and cons of such a serious decision. Renting is not like capital gains, in the sense that, you are still legally responsible for various aspects of the home as a homeowner turned landlord. A rental property is a long-term investment which legally puts you on the hook for issues with the property. You will also have to deal with tenants. Finding the right tenants can make a colossal difference in your renting experience. On another note, at worst, the legal system can get involved in your affairs if things go south. If you wish to rent out a home, be prepared that you may find yourself at the receiving end of a lawsuit if you’re not efficiently and ethically renting out your space. However, as long as you have your ducks in a row, and remain vigilant about your rental property, the chance of matters escalating to this degree are significantly lower. At minimum, it’s important to be aware of all the potential downsides of renting out a home before making a commitment.

On the flipside, there are many benefits to renting out your home, and they are typically financially motivated. Finding a decent tenant can make a significant difference in your renting experience. Renting out to people you trust is a way to significantly minimize risk. Because it’s your property, you will have the opportunity to design the rules; to a certain extent that is. Remember to keep in mind city ordinances and laws you’ll need to adhere to as a landlord. These may differ from city to city, so ensuring you do the proper research is key. At the same time, renting out your home may yield a significant profit. Not only will you be receiving profit from rent, but you can write off certain tax deductions such as, repairs, repainting, cleaning and gardening, professional services, etc.

Pros and cons aside, be mindful that an investment property is a big and often long-term commitment. While capital gains are to be expected for those who remodel, turning your home into a rental property is an entirely different animal. The best thing to do in this scenario is to heavily research what it means to be a landlord in your city. Talk to the necessary people, and get second opinions when relevant. Renting out is not for everyone, but it can be a major source of lucrative profit if done correctly.









Easy Home Staging Tips for Selling

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Preparing your home for a showing may initially seem like a daunting task, but these simple staging tips will ensure that your home is walk-through ready. Even the most beautiful of homes will benefit from some extra TLC during showings. The following are some simple tips and tricks to get the ball rolling.

Let the weather naturally work its magic; opt to sell during the more lucrative seasons. Typically, the temperate seasons of Spring and Fall will be ideal for selling. Winter is universally the least ideal season to sell, as your home’s presentation is often obstructed by the elements. Another bonus to showing your home in the more temperate months? Buyers won’t feel rushed by blistering heat or intense cold. A buyer is far more likely to spend time viewing a home when their comfort is prioritized.

Looking for a fast way to give a facelift to any room? Turn on all the lights! This includes lamps and other small light fixtures. Certain accent lighting, in particular, will accentuate your home’s best features. This is especially important for areas that may lack access to natural light. A well-lit home can dramatically alter the appearance of a room, with minimal effort required on your part.

Invest in small upgrades. Are there any quick fixes that you can immediately attend to? This can be as simple as changing the hardware on your cabinets, or freshening up your living room with a new coat of paint. Tying up the loose ends of your rooms can make a substantial difference come show time.

Always remember the importance of curb appeal. The outside of your home is essentially an advertisement for prospective buyers. A disheveled exterior may lead buyers to conclude the inside hasn’t been well maintained. You don’t want to isolate buyers before they even have the chance to get indoors. How can you boost your curb appeal? It can be as simple as keeping up to date with your lawn’s care. Additionally, you can invest in small aesthetic boosters like planting flowers, or purchasing some outdoor lighting. You’ll be surprised how a simple tweak can make a world of difference.

A cluttered room is almost always an automatic no go. It may seem like a no-brainer, but going the extra mile to keep spaces clean is pivotal. When staging your home, try to eliminate as much clutter as possible. This also entails keeping the house in pristine condition. Before a showing, clean your home thoroughly. An otherwise positive experience, for a buyer, can be tainted by dishes in the sink, or papers strewn all over a desk.

Depersonalize a space. In the same vein as decluttering, depersonalizing your space is a good idea. Do you have numerous pictures of your family all over desks and walls? Now may be a good time to temporarily take them down. Or what about last year’s Christmas cards still on the fridge? Find a new home for them to live in that’s out of sight. Small everyday items like toothbrushes and pastes should also find new homes. It may initially seem jarring, but this allows for the buyer to envision all of their personal items in the space instead.

Beware of pet odors. Pet odors can be highly acidic in nature, and over time you can become desensitized to their presence. Any sign of pets should be immediately hidden to potential buyers (this includes smells). Don’t ever leave a litter box, dog dishes, or other pet care items in plain sight. Worried about pet odors permeating your home? Getting your carpets professionally treated can help revitalize them.

Play up the unique features of your home. Do you have an exceptionally beautiful brick fireplace? Or some particularly pretty French doors? Bringing attention to the unique accents of your home is a surefire way to make a space memorable. You don’t need to break the bank to do this either. Simple adjustments to lighting or strategic placement of furniture can help frame a space.

Speaking of furniture, it too can contribute to unnecessary clutter. If possible, investing in a temporary storage unit can help free up space for certain rooms. However, if you don’t want to spend the cash to store furniture, rearranging it can also help to open up certain spaces. Be creative, and dedicate some time to trying out different positions for your furniture.

Last but not least, prioritize keeping the space fresh. Lighting candles, or burning incense before a viewing can add a small personal touch without compromising the space itself. Be mindful not to use overpowering scents, and stick to scents that are universally liked. Sometimes just running through the house with a neutralizing room spray will do the trick. Another suggestion? Add some well-placed flowers to a room for a pop of color. The key to “keeping it fresh” lies in also keeping things subtle. Use these aforementioned tips to enhance a space, not overwhelm it.







Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

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Selling your home is a complex process, and making mistakes often comes with the territory. However, some larger mistakes may have lasting consequences that are best to try and avoid all together. Here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be mindful of as a home-seller.

Home pricing is key. There’s nothing more prohibitive to the sale of a home, than a disproportionately high price tag. Pricing your home appropriately is the cardinal rule for home-sellers. If your home is priced too high, you will lose the interest of many homebuyers. Market value is often dictated by comparable sales. A good place to begin is with referencing other homes in your neighborhood, and researching what they sold for. A reputable real estate agent will almost always advise against upselling the value of your home.

Be realistic about the condition of your home. Selling a home requires creating a space that is desirable for potential buyers. If your home is in poor condition, or perhaps in need of major upgrades, it may be in your best interest to postpone the sale. If there are any very apparent issues, be sure to address these before putting your house on the market. You may be surprised that little fixes you make now can yield big profit returns down the road.

Marketing can make or break a sale. The first step to gaining a buyer’s interest, usually begins with an eye-catching photo of the property. Professional photographers can greatly aid in helping you provide quality photographs. Even if the house is beautiful, a poorly done photo can seriously mask its desirable exterior qualities. This process extends to the interior of the home as well. To get the best results, declutter your home and make sure it is properly clean and sanitized. Ideally, you want the buyer to envision themselves in the space. This is harder for them to do, if your personal possessions are on display everywhere.

Take the time to hire professionals who know what they’re doing. Being picky when it comes to your real estate team is completely acceptable. Not all brokers and agents are created equal. Doing the proper research is imperative to getting the best results. We are fortunate to live in an internet age, where you can access reviews for potential candidates. Additionally, you can ask your Citywide Loan Officer, trusted friends, and family members for their recommendations. A dedicated real estate agent can significantly improve your experience.

Make your house memorable with curb appeal. Curb appeal is often a simple but effective way to make your home stand out. Even if the interior is near perfect, certain buyers will be turned off by a lackluster or downtrodden outward appearance. Curb appeal can be as simple as planting some foliage or adding lighting in strategic locations. At a minimum, keep your lawn well-manicured. If a house doesn’t look well-kept, this will discourage buyers.

Do not stick around during showings. As a rule of thumb, if your home is being shown, you should not be anywhere on the premises. This also applies to any pets who live in the home. Buyers will often find this to be in bad taste, and rush through viewing your home as a result. Essentially, you want to make the process as easy and relaxing for the buyer as possible.

If you get a variety of offers on your home, consider which one is the best comprehensive deal. Many sellers may have a knee jerk reaction to accept the highest offer they receive. This is not always the best decision. Be mindful of any contingencies that come along with a high-priced offer. More often than not these contingencies are in the best interest of the buyer, and will put you in a more vulnerable position. If you take the highest offer, you may be putting yourself in a situation that yields more uncertainty. It is best to consult with your real estate agent if you’re not entirely sure the best course of action.

Flexibility is in your best interest during the home inspection process. Most homebuyers will opt to have the home inspected before they decide to close on your property. If there are major foundational issues you have not addressed, it may come back to bite you during the inspection process. Be realistic about certain fixes and what it may mean for the successful sale of your home. If you choose to make buyers pay for any and all fixes found in an inspection, you will likely find yourself alienating many prospective buyers. On the contrary, certain homebuyers may have unrealistic or extravagant lists of their conditions. Evaluate how much you are willing to pay for, and try to find a happy medium if possible.

Be honest. It may seem like a no brainer to be honest in your dealings, but occasionally home-sellers will bend the truth if they think it to be beneficial. Full disclosure is usually the best plan of action, as it will avoid major issues cropping up later on in the process. Not every little issue needs to be disclosed up front, however, any major issue you are aware of should be brought to the attention of the buyer. It is not extremely common, but legal issues can arise from lack of disclosure. Protect yourself first and foremost, and cover your bases by being transparent.







Should You Build or Buy?

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Should you buy a house, or start from scratch and choose to build? Weighing the pros and cons of both options, can help you make an informed decision about the best course of action.

Buying is the more common option, and there are advantages in doing so. The pre-approval process that comes along with buying a home, ensures that you have a verified loan budget. This opens up the opportunity for you to tour several homes. Even though the process of buying is multi-faceted, a real estate agent can guide you through the process quite easily. By and large, the most beneficial aspect of buying instead of building is cost. In most circumstances, you will find buying a house to be the cheapest option. This is not always the case, but if your budget is a bit more restrictive, building a house will usually be the less cost-effective decision.

Building allows for complete customization. Building a home allows you full creative reign of your space. You won’t need to worry about an out of place bathroom on the main floor, or a basement that doesn’t have a second kitchen. When it comes to building, you decide how everything will look down to the minute details. When buying, you run the risk of viewing older homes that can be functionally or aesthetically obsolete. You may find a home that ticks all of your boxes, but is just one bedroom too short.

When it comes to building, what you gain in customization, you may lose in convenience. If you choose to build a home, you will be tasked with different issues that are often more time consuming and involved. For example, building requires finding an empty lot, which may not be possible in every neighborhood. You will need to be prepared for a long process of interviewing and vetting people to work on the home. This involves hiring an architect. The process can be expedited if you join an existing development, however, starting from scratch will be more time consuming. Additionally, you will be on the hook for making sure you have access to systems such as water and sewage. You will also need to be aware of any environmental permits.

The health of a new home is decidedly a large selling factor. Older homes may be susceptible to more health issues and toxic materials like mold, lead paint, and asbestos. When you build your own home, you are substantially lowering the risk for health issues that often come with older homes. Additionally, you can make your home more environmentally friendly by investing in green or energy saving appliances. Should you choose to sell a home you build in the future, these investments will certainly help boost the appeal.

Consider: Do you have the time and patience that it requires to build a new home? Despite technological advancements, building a home remains a time-consuming process. If you’re looking to size up or move immediately, you will not be able to do so if you choose to build a home. When building, you may be faced with surprise issues that will add time to the entire process. Depending on where you live, weather may also permit how quickly a home can be built. Essentially, there are far more aspects of unpredictability that come with building a home.

Let’s further discuss unexpected costs of building. Buying a home can be unpredictable in certain ways, but you more or less know what you’ll be looking at from a monetary standpoint. When it comes to building you can never be certain of the costs until it’s all over. If you are in a tight financial situation as is, it is not a good idea to build from scratch. Certain surprise fees may be enough to put you in serious financial strain, or worse, debt.

For some buyers, location and neighborhood means everything. While building allows for complete customization, it is also far more prohibitive when it comes to picking your neighborhood and location. When looking at a specific neighborhood, you’ll probably see various homes for sale at any given time. This is not the case when looking for a plot of land, as they may not even be available in a location to begin with. Location is important for many homebuyers, and building can force you into areas that are less developed, or further away from the center of your city or town. For many, an undesirable neighborhood can keep buyers away from an otherwise perfect home. Be mindful that your options will be substantially more limited with building.

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the situation, the decision is yours. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, although the process of building is much more involved. If you do choose to build, be aware that the process may be far more time consuming and costly. However, if you’re seeking complete customization, building will always be the more logical option. Weigh the options, and if necessary, get a second opinion. Whatever you do, don’t make an impulse decision when it comes to building.









Moving Up: How to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home

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When we prepare to move, we are often preoccupied with the inside presentation of our house. However, the outside of your home will give potential buyers a first impression right off the bat. Here is some helpful information on how you can boost the curb appeal of your home.

Start with your front door. The front door is the portal to our home. Front doors can be surprisingly versatile, and if you’re looking to make a subtle or vibrant statement, the door is a great vessel to do just that. Make sure your front door is in immaculate condition, keep it polished and clean. Adding a small accent piece like a wreath can also dress up even a basic door. Additionally, keep your hardware functional and make sure it is visually pleasing.

Create perfect symmetry. Most people love the look of symmetry, and it is rather easy to create in a pinch. Symmetry can be achieved by getting a pair of twin lights, lanterns, or plants.

Install outdoor lighting. A home presented in good lighting can make all the difference. It also adds an additional sense of security. You can illuminate a pathway leading up to your front door, or decorate trees and other foliage with lighting.

Make sure your house number is displayed clearly. Most of us know how frustrating looking for a house can be when the number is not visible. An easy way to get better curb appeal is to make sure your house numbers are easily accessible. This will make a great impression for potential buyers who will be looking for it when they come to view your home.

If you have a real estate agent, ask for their advice. Reputable real estate agents will know about how to get optimal curb appeal. Often, they are able to notice the small details that we may gloss over. Things that may seem pleasing to you, may not be in the best interest for curb appeal. If you have any questions about whether or not something is beneficial, don’t be afraid to ask!

Plant some color. Plants and gardens can almost instantly make our homes look better. If you choose to sell your home in the warmer months, this is especially relevant. If you have flower beds or planter boxes that you have left untouched, now is the time to get them blooming. It is advisable to steer clear of artificial flowers if possible. Normally real flowers look much more appealing and have a more natural and vibrant color.

Does your home look accessible? Some homeowners prefer to keep the blinds closed. However, when boosting curb appeal the opposite is usually preferred. Make your home look open and inviting. This can be done by making sure the windows are not obstructed by blinds or curtains. You can also go outside and have a look from the street. Do your windows require some TLC and potential treatments? If so, look into hiring window washers or doing it yourself.

Take an honest inventory of your home from the curb. You can also call upon friends and family members to help you do this. Drive up to your home and make note of how it looks. What are your first impressions of the home? Are their things that immediately stick out? What are the best features of the home, and where could it use some work? If you discover any outlying problems, write them down and make arrangements to fix them.

Here are some easy fixes to instantly boost curb appeal.

  • Kill any mold or mildew.
  • Clean windows and gutters thoroughly.
  • Pressure wash anything that looks particularly dingy or dirty.
  • Repaint any chipped areas.


Landscaping is a must and can make or break a positive impression. Make sure your lawn is taken care of, this means mowing the lawn consistently, trimming and maintaining any plants or foliage, and pulling weeds and other eyesores that may pop up in a lawn or garden. Trim trees that obstruct the view of your home from the street.

Add some outdoor art for flair! Many home and garden stores have a good variety of simple and beautiful outdoor art. Keep a balance, and make sure you don’t overdo it. In small amounts outdoor art can be just the thing to add a touch of beauty to your front lawn.

Any major changes need to be addressed. If there is anything that needs a large overhaul, it is best to get this done as soon as possible. Walkways may need to be replaced, cracks in concrete, fences, railings, etc.

Lastly, don’t forget the backyard! It can be easy to forget the backyard, when so much attention is being placed at the front of the house. Any major changes to the backyard can and should be done when working on curb appeal. If you landscape the front yard, make sure you do the same out back to promote fluidity and cohesiveness. Work on making the entire outside of your house look aesthetically pleasing.









Low Cost Updates That Increase Home Value

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Whether you’re about to embark on the moving process, or just want to spruce up your living space, low cost updates can gradually boost a home’s value. These affordable changes are minor, but will make a lasting impact. Here are some small tweaks you can utilize to boost your home’s overall value:

Skip professionals and do it yourself. If you’re particularly handy, consider doing small projects yourself. This is a simple way to cut costs. Know how to do your own crown molding? Have a penchant for painting? You can save a considerable amount of money, and perhaps have fun in the process.

Check for small fixes in your bathroom. When it comes to a home’s value, bathrooms are surprisingly important. Something as simple as changing a toilet seat cover can add instant appeal. The cleanliness of your bathroom is undoubtedly something potential buyers will notice. Consider regrouting any tile that looks dingy, or replacing any chipped tiles.

One of the easiest and most affordable fixes is paint. Paint can change the entire feeling of a room. If you notice any need for touchups on existing paintjobs, you can quickly remedy those with a small coverup. Or you can repaint the entire room if it looks like it could use some revitalization. Make sure you invest in painter’s masking tapes and tarps to keep paint from splattering onto undesirable places. If you’re looking to completely repaint a room with a new color, get some advice from professionals. Certain colors can drastically open up a space.

Check the condition of your carpets. Over time, our carpets tend to reflect the wear and tear of daily life. Assess the conditions of your carpets, are their stains or concentrated dirt patches? Do you have pets who have been hard on the carpet? The vast majority of carpets do not need to be replaced before selling, but carpet cleaning can be surprisingly affordable. Get some quotes from companies in your area to give your carpets some affordable deep cleaning.

Light it up. Lighting is a simple and easy way to improve your home’s value. Even picking up a new lamp from your local department store can make a substantial difference. You may even find an eye-catching chandelier for relatively cheap at a home improvement’s store. Small upgrades on fan blades and light fixtures can change its entire look.

Assess your curb appeal. Don’t forget to look outside of the home. Potential home buyers will see your house from the outside and this will instantly determine their first impression. Make sure your landscaping is kept up to date, and all gardens and foliage are maintained. Pocket size tasks like making sure your house numbers are visible, and mowing the lawn, can yield great results.

Update floor runners and rugs. Rugs are another item that experience wear and tear. It may be time to upgrade them if you notice they’re starting to fade or unravel. Adding a welcome mat, if you don’t already have one, can make your home seem more inviting from the outside. Additionally, certain floor runners can be a great aesthetic and practical upgrade for stairs. They can prevent any slippage as buyers navigate the house, and create an easy accent touch in the process.

Hardware is an affordable way to revamp a kitchen. Is your kitchen hardware outdated or not so practical? Hardware is cheap, and incredibly easy to install. If you’re looking for a change that is subtle and practical, hardware is the place to start. Many home improvement stores will let you take sample pieces to test out before you buy an entire set.

Add practicality and storage. Older homes are especially limited in their storage space. Installing shelving, or getting pieces for your home that are both pleasing to the eye and practical can make a space seem more functional, for a potential buyer. Something as simple as a bookshelf can help in maximizing your space.

Last but not least, treat your home well. A well taken care of home is usually quite easy to spot. If you invest proper care into your home, the results will show. Clean your home when necessary, make sure appliances are working smoothly, and fix small vanity issues whenever you can. Your home will ultimately reflect the amount of care you put into it.