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How to Maximize Your Home’s Curb Appeal

According to the National Association of Realtors, sixty-three percent of home buyers will visit a house that they first saw online. Make their first impression of your house great by maximizing your curb appeal.

  • Clean your windows and the outside of your house
  • Freshen the paint on your house
  • Get rid of any rotted wood
  • Make sure your front door looks great. Paint it, clean it, put a doorknocker or wreath on it; whatever will make it look even better.
  • Spray-paint or change out your hardware on your front door and garage doors, such as doorknobs and locks
  • Frame your front door with molding
  • Add big, bold house numbers
  • Add or change porch lighting
  • Refinish the porch floor
  • Buy a new front door mat
  • If you have a porch, add furniture
  • Paint or stain the garage door
  • Repair or replace the roof. That’s one of the first things buyers notice about a house.
  • Fix the driveway, patios, and pathways. Power-wash, repair cracks, bricks or stones, etc.
  • Plant flowers and plants, both in your yard and in hanging planters or planter boxes by your front door, if there’s room.
  • Weed your yard and flowerbeds
  • Feed your grass so that it looks healthy and attractive, and mow it regularly
  • Replace mulch, if you have any
  • Add a picket fence
  • Install a new mailbox
  • Straighten shutters
  • Re-fasten and clean out gutters   curb Appeal  Curb Appeal  Curb Appeal  
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A Timeline of Things You Need to Do Before You Move

When you’re about to move out of your house, there are many things to think about and take care of, and on a deadline.

Two Months Before

  • Create a folder or binder for your move: This will house your receipts, estimates, checklists, and your moving inventory.
  • Sort your belongings: Go through every room of your house and figure out what should come with you, and what needs to stay or get donated. Figure out if any items will need special packing or care whilst moving them.
  • Figure out the moving situation: Research moving companies, or ask your Realtor if they have a trusted mover as one of their vendors. Get an estimate, and set up an appointment once you’ve found a mover that fits the bill. Then, make the moving appointment.
  • Organize your kids’ school records: Have them sent over to their future school.

Six Weeks to A Month Before

  • Cancel recurring charges and shipment: Check out our list here of Who to Notify When You’re Moving
  • Start acquire packing materials: You won’t have to scramble to buy and pop open all those boxes super close to time. Don’t forget tape, bubble-wrap and/or packing peanuts, permanent markers, wardrobe boxes, scissors, etc.
  • Take measurements at your new home: Especially so you’ll know if your furniture can make it through the door, and to know where you can put it.
  • Defrost the freezer: If it’s coming with you, be sure to defrost and empty it out about a day ahead of time.
  • Start eating: All of your perishable food needs to get eaten up before you move (especially if you’re moving far away.) So plan your meals around this, and even have some friends and family over for a going-away dinner.
  • Start packing: Those things that you sporadically use can be boxed up first. Think seasonal decorations, niche appliances you rarely use, off-season clothing, and more. Be sure to label what’s in each box, and which room it needs to be placed in. Next, separate valuables from the rest of the things, and take these with you on moving day.
  • Change your address: Do this about a couple weeks before your moving date so it will have a chance to go into effect.
  • If you’ll move on a workday, notify your job ahead of time.

A Few Days Before

  • Withdraw any cash you’ll need for moving day: To tip movers, order food, etc.
  • Verify the moving company is still coming at the scheduled date and time.
  • Take pictures of your electronics: It will be much easier to remember where all those cords go later on.
  • Fill a cleaning box: Once you move everything out, you’ll likely have to clean before you vacate.
  • Get utilities switched over: Confirm the day they’ll be changed over to your new house.
  • Pack a suitcase the day before: Once you move, you won’t want to dig through boxes to find your toothbrush the first night there. Pack some essential things you use daily.
  • Pack everything else up, and take inventory as you go.
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Things You Might Forget About in Your Kitchen

You see it every day, but does that mean it’s something you’ll critically think about? There are probably a few elements in your kitchen you’re forgetting about.

  • The distance between the stove, sink, and the refrigerator should be the smallest possible, especially if you cook a lot.
  • Spend more money in one spot. Splurge on a thing or an element that will complement the surrounding area while also beautifully standing out.
  • Details matter. Changing something as simple as your hardware can  make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your kitchen.
  • Lighting: The lighting itself is important, and so is how the light fixture looks. Hanging light fixtures above kitchen islands and sinks can make a big (positive) impact on the room as a whole. Luckily, pendant lights are trendy lately.
  • Different floor options: Don’t be scared to venture away from simple hardwoods towards tile, etc.
  • Long-term: Think about important, big-ticket items in terms of how long they’ll last and how they’ll show wear. Sinks, faucets, etc. are included in this decision.
  • The ceiling: There’s more you can do with it than you may realize at first. Paint it a different color, add some texture, etc.
  • A place for everything: You can put your appliances in cabinets that have outlets on the inside, so that you won’t have to take the appliances out every time you want to use them.
  • Organize: Don’t forget you can hang cooking utensils right where you need them, and same goes for pots and pans. You can strap cutting boards to the insides of cabinet doors. There are also plenty of options for storing cereal and snacks in pull-out cabinets.
  • Shelves: You can put them on the side of cabinets. You can also choose an island with built-in shelving.
  • Dish racks: Put them over the sink to save room and to better allow a full dry.
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Steps of Remodeling Your Bathroom

Remodeling a room can be exciting- it’s a chance to take something and make it new. However, there is a systematic process for remodeling your bathroom. Here’s what you need to know about the process:

  1. What are you wanting to change and accomplish? What purpose will the bathroom serve; a bathroom for your child, or you and your spouse? A powder room? Make sure you have a clear answer to this before you start remodeling. Also, be sure to ask yourself how many people will be using it, how much time you spend in the bathroom, how much space you need, how long you’ll live in the house, and the effort you’ll truly want to put into cleaning it. Why are you remodeling? If it’s for a better resale value, then be sure to do a little bit of research beforehand on what buyers look for in your area and in general. If it’s for updating the appearance, then be sure and pay attention to materials, fixtures, cabinetry, paint, etc. to freshen up your bathroom. If you’re remodeling for better storage and functionality, then check out some organizational vanities, shelving, and cabinetry you could use, and also be prepared to possibly spend a bit of money.
  2. Plan, do your research, and set a budget. There are varying levels of upgrades and remodels in terms of their extensiveness and price. Remember that sometimes even if you spend a lot of money on a renovation, this doesn’t always mean you’ll earn as much back when you sell your house. Also remember to keep in mind any unforeseen costs that may appear. Research the materials you plan on using: their pros and cons, price points, varieties, and aesthetics. Plan out all of the features you want to change, and how they would all look together.
  3. Find a good contractor if it’s a more intensive renovation. If you’re planning on renovating something yourself but have any doubt in your mind about it, don’t do it! You may have to sink in extra money just to fix your mistakes. Before you hire a contractor, research and listen to word of mouth. The contractor that you hire may see things that you don’t as well- a better way to fit everything in your layout design, etc. For major structural changes, you might need to hire an architect.
  4. Approve the design for layouts, floorplans, etc. You don’t have to have every detail planned out yet, like decorations. However, you do need to have the measurements planned out for the bathroom components such as the vanity and shower. From there, you’ll know exactly how much material you need to order.
  5. Choose your colors, materials, hardware, etc.
  6. Get three separate estimates from contractors. Sometimes they vary greatly, but be weary of both the seemingly too cheap and seemingly too expensive ones.
  7. Plan the details out. Where are you going to store the materials until you install them? When would you feel most comfortable for the contractor/s to be working? How will this affect you? Will you still be able to use that bathroom, or use a different one?
  8. Once it’s completed, look for mistakes. Keep your receipts. Go through and check for malfunctioning cabinetry, dents, etc. and contact your contractor if you find this.
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Who to Notify When You’re Moving

It may seem like a nuisance or tedious, but it is very important to notify certain people and institutions when you’re moving to a new place.

  • Family and friends: I’m sure they would love to keep in touch with you.
  • Current employer
  • Pension Plan/401K
  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
  • Postal Services: You can do this online or in person.
  • Utilities: Electricity, Gas, Water, Cable/Satellite, Phone, Trash, and Internet Providers
  • Cell Phone Provider
  • Insurance Companies
  • DMV and Voter Registration (if moving to a new state)
  • Financial Institutions
  • Credit Card Companies: Including store credit card accounts
  • Government Agencies
  • The IRS: You can print out and mail in the required form.
  • Doctors, Dentist, Orthodontist, Eye Doctor, Etc.
  • Subscription Services and Clubs
  • Newspaper and Magazine Subscriptions
  • Cleaners, Maid, Lawn Care
  • Accountant, Financial Advisor
  • Lawyer
  • Your Child’s School, Doctor, Tutors, Sports Coaches, Etc.
  • Your Pet’s Veterinarian and Kennel
  • Your Alma Mater
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Signs You’re Ready to Move

There’s a lot to factor into the decision of whether you’re ready to move into a new house: expenses, needs of you and your family, and more. Here’s how to know when you are actually ready to move.

  • Financially: Of course you need to make sure you have the funds, and will in the future, to pay your desired mortgage rate, to keep up with any needed home improvements, to pay taxes, and more. If you are in fact able to afford a new houses and all these expenses that come with it, then you need to decide what size down payment you want to start out with.
  • Space-wise: Are you at your wits’ end about finding enough room for storage in your house? Have you even implemented all of the best organizational storage tricks you can find, only to remain out of room for all of your belongings? It may be time to upgrade.
  • Repairs and Upgrades: If you find yourself having to continually sink money into fixing necessary things in your house, it may be worth it more in the long run to buy another home.
  • Family Size: If you are adding to your family, or certain family members are moving out, then you may need to change the size of your abode accordingly. Also, if your kids are school-age, you might desire to move to another (better) school district, which would also add value to that house when you sell it later on.
  • Worsening area: If your current city and/or neighborhood is getting worse, like has an increasing crime rate, more foreclosures, etc., then it may be worth it in the long run to relocate now. Also, if your area has seen a steady decline in growth and popularity, you may get more money for your house if you move now as opposed to when your home will be worth less later.
  • Your vision for your current house isn’t possible: If there’s something you really, really want to add to, upgrade, or change about your house but is impossible to do, then you may be ready to move.
  • If you’ve changed how often you cook: If you started cooking less, and will continue to do so in the long run, then it may be better for you to have a smaller kitchen so that you can have more space you can use for other things. However, if you’ve started cooking more, then you may want a bigger kitchen.
  • Terrible commute: If you absolutely dread your commute to or from work every day, you may need to move so that you can be more satisfied and less stressed every day.
  • If you’ve been putting it off: Are you procrastinating moving, for whatever reason? Stop. Interest rates aren’t going to be low forever! Talk yourself out of any kind of unreasonable doubts or delays; you’re more ready to move than you think you are.
  • If your neighborhood/town doesn’t suit your needs anymore: Is your lifestyle different than the resources provided to you? You may be happier and more fulfilled elsewhere.

 

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How to Arrange Furniture In a Small Space

No matter how much space you have for furniture, you can probably agree that occasionally you feel like there’s just not enough room for everything. Here are some steps to arrange furniture in a way that will eliminate that feeling for good.

  1. Plan the layout according to the function of the room. What do you want your room to “be”? What purpose will it provide you and your family, and how important is that going to stay to you? How many people will be in that room at any given time? Once you’ve decided these things, think about where your furniture will go. Decide this before you start trying to actually move it around, and it will save you precious energy and time.
  • Plan a focal point according to the room’s function. A TV, fireplace, table, etc. all will do.
  • Think about traffic. What is the general flow of people? Where in the room is it most natural for them to walk? Keep furniture out of foot traffic’s way, and keep a path moving around furniture.
  • Plan around large pieces, like couches and beds. Think about where these will be located in the room, and space everything else around these.
  • Accommodate space for comfort items like lamps and tables.
  • Remember that symmetrical layouts give a room more of a formal vibe, while asymmetrical does the opposite.

2. Using visual tricks can make your room appear like it has more space, even if it really doesn’t have much.

  • “Float” your furniture away form the wall. 3-4 inches of space between it and the wall will make the room seem a little less compressed.
  • Decorate with mirrors to give the appearance of a more expanded space.
  • Prevent furniture from covering any part of windows or doorways in a room.
  • Decorate with glass and lucite tables, etc. to keep the visual flow going.
  • Experiment with angling your furniture in different ways to make the room look bigger.
  • Use different lighting sources to give more depth to the room.
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Why You Should Always Hire a Realtor When Buying or Selling a Home

With so many house-hunting resources available nowadays, it may seem like hiring a Realtor isn’t necessary. However, this is most certainly not true in the slightest, and here’s why.

  • They know what they’re doing. They are experts at buying and selling homes, and are trained to understand and speak real estate jargon that’s vital to know for understanding the process of buying/selling a home. They also have the technology and resources to handle the forms, contracts, reports, disclosures, and anything else that they’re trained to handle. Realtors also know the best time to allot to handle each contract, inspection, etc. They know the areas you’ll be dealing with like the backs of their hands. They know the housing market/conditions, and comps for surrounding houses and neighborhoods (and their crime rates and school systems), and will know how to strategically use all that information.
  • Realtor®s are licensed real estate salespeople who adhere to a strict code of ethics. Licensed agents aren’t held to as high of a standard.
  • A Realtor has connections. They know so many people because they make it their business to. They can give you their list of preferred vendors, such as home staging companies, mortgage brokers, home movers, real estate attorneys, inspectors, etc. They also know other agents and Realtors who can take a look at homes they list, or can show them homes their clients are looking for.
  • They have more resources. While it may seem that there’s an endless amount of websites available to search for homes, Realtors have even more websites and multiple listing services to search. They also have more places to market their listings; a good Realtor has a marketing plan that includes flyers, social media accounts specifically for his or her business, and more.
  • They’re expert negotiators. They’re well-practiced at handling bidding wars, and know the psychology of a deal.
  • A Realtor can handle a lot. There are a lot of variables of things that could change or go south in a deal. They are great at handling these curve balls that are thrown at them. They work long hours so that they can work with their clients’ off-hours. Realtors also know when to filter out “lookie-loos” (non-serious buyers.) They’re also there for emotionally you when you become overwhelmed by the process of buying or selling a home.
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Here’s What Can Happen To Your House in a Divorce

Going through a divorce is a hard process in itself, but having to deal with the house you both shared can make things even more difficult. The home you shared is a source of memories, and a valuable investment of your (shared) time and money as well.

If both people agree in the divorce: When both parties can agree that one of them will keep the home and the other will find a new one, the first step is to have the house appraised to find a market value. (unless they can both agree on the value beforehand)  Once the value is determined, any outstanding money owed on the house, such as a mortgage, must be deducted. Sometimes, real estate commissions are deducted when determining the value as well, even if the party keeping the home won’t be selling it in the near future. Once the value is determined, the person keeping the house will have to pay the other person for his or her share of it. This amount can be paid in a single amount at one time, or in smaller amounts over time. The person staying in the house will also need to refinance, or remove the other person from “exiting encumbrances” on the home.

If neither person agrees in the divorce: If neither party can decide who gets to keep the house, or if neither party can afford to keep it, then it’s common for a court to order it to be sold. This can complicate things; a real estate agent has to be agreed on or appointed. Then, the asking price needs to be set, and with a clear understanding of proceedings in the case of a price reduction. Also needed is the determination of who will pay for which expenses when the house is on the market. Next, if one of the parties is living in the home while it’s on the market, they could attempt to keep it on the market longer by preventing open houses and showings. Specific agreements and/or court orders are needed because of these factors, so that things are clear-cut and alternate consequences are in order.

The process of a divorce can be taxing emotionally and financially, but it can be made easier if both sides attempt to keep a sense of objectivity, and eliminate any pettiness or bitterness. Remember that you’re moving forward, and you’ll find a new and more fitting home sweet home.

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What Not to Say When You’re Selling Your Home

When you’re selling your home, it’s easy to get caught up in the whole process and forget the most strategic points of conversation to share with buyers.

  • Never claim perfection. To you, your home may seem perfect since you’ve lived in it and have an emotional attachment. However, 99.9% of homes are not completely perfect; there’s always something that can be improved, whether you see it yourself or not. A home inspection is necessary to give you the truth on the matter. You don’t want to end up claiming something that’s not grounded in reality when you’re selling your home.
  • Don’t explain what you wanted to fix or change but didn’t. No one wants to hear about what could be, but what’s actually not. It will only make potential buyers realize what they’re missing, and what they’ll possibly need to spend money on in the future.
  • Don’t explain what you sank a lot of money into. Even if you spent tons of money updating your kitchen or master bathroom for example, that doesn’t mean buyers will be willing to shell out a lot more money for those things you value a lot. Different people put varying amounts of emphasis on what’s important to them. Also, sometimes upgrades are valued less than what was spent on them when they’re factored into the comps.
  • Problem: telling white lies. These will come back to bite you. You will be held liable for anything that wasn’t disclosed, and discovered after the inspection when selling your home.
  • Don’t say how long your home’s been on the market. It’s already available information on home info sheets and online, so don’t be the one to bring it up first. This will just make things awkward, especially if the home has been on the market for a little while.
  • Mistake: not bending for offers’ prices. Be sure to stay realistic about what to expect and accept for offers. If you come off as un-bendable, buyers aren’t going to try and negotiate and compromise with you. Word may get out to other potential buyer about this, leading you to not get any further offers.