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Best Home Improvement Ideas for Good ROI

ROI is an important part of your house‘s value- it’s beneficial to know the things you can do that could improve it the most.

  • Replace your front door. Old front doors can be a source of home energy loss, and they can be eyesores as well. Replace your door for a new steel one that’s painted an attractive color.
  • Install a new garage door. This will make for better curb appeal, as well as good ROI.
  • Replace old windows. These are good investments, especially if you get a brand-name instead of an off-brand; If they need replacing in the future they will still be made by the company.
  • Install new siding. There are different kinds that have varying pros and cons. Vinyl is a good choice- it’s not expensive, it’s durable, and it’s easily installed.
  • Add a deck or patio. Be sure to pick a material that best matches your region’s climate.
  • Add in kitchen upgrades. It’s not always the cheapest renovation, but it brings in good ROI. Updated kitchens are a big selling point for buyers. Stainless steel appliances are a good investment, especially if they’re all the same brand.
  • Turn an attic into a bedroom. You’ll have to check your local building codes first, but renovating an attic into a bedroom is usually a good investment.
  • Remodel your basement. Make sure there’s enough light there (artificial or natural) so that it seems even bigger, and generally has a better ambiance.
  • Replace your roof. Make sure you get the right material.
  • Remodel your bathroom. This generally has better ROI than a bathroom addition.
  • Add a fence. Having a fence is a selling point for some people with dogs and kids. However, you may want to steer clear of chain-link varieties.
  • Add in smart technology. If it’s energy efficient, like a programmable smart thermostat, many people will spend more. Which brings us to the next point.
  • Ensure energy efficiency. Many people will pay more for certifications like Energy Star, since they know these will save them money on utilities over time.
  • Plant trees. Probably not what comes to mind, right? Trees (correctly spaced around your house) save you energy costs, prevents erosion, and makes your home seem more attractive.
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How to Stage Your Home for Maximum Appeal

To sell your home, you need to stage it. Doesn’t it make sense that buyers can picture themselves in a clean attractive space, over a dirty, crowded one?

Stage Your Living/Family Room

  • Use throw pillows and blankets to accentuate the room with color and character.
  • Use the rule of symmetry, with throw pillows.
  • If you’re changing slipcovers, curtains, or whatever else, make the new alternative light and airy.
  • Remove a piece of furniture (or more) if you need to to give the room a bigger, more open feel.
  • Arrange your furniture to have purpose; direct chairs to face each other for ease of conversation.
  • Add lamps for a calm ambiance.
  • Clean up your fireplace and mantel, including the screen if need be.

Stage Your Kitchen

  • Clear the countertops, except for possibly a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers.
  • Wipe away any food, stains, or fingerprints from all surfaces.
  • If needed, re-paint or re-stain your cabinets.
  • Take about half of your food out of the pantry and cabinets. They will feel more spacious. Also, organize the food you do have left.
  • Clean the insides of your cabinets.
  • Take away the refrigerator decorations.
  • Empty trash and move it out of the line of sight.
  • Set each place at the table with attractive place settings, and a pretty center piece such as flowers. You can do this in the dining room as well.
  • Pack up all the dishes, glassware, cookware, and flatware, except one attractive set of each.

Stage Your Bedrooms

  • Hide your valuables away.
  • Make the master as gender-less as possible.
  • Remove some things from each bedroom. Less is better than more.
  • Pack up last season’s clothes to make your closet seem bigger. If you have a bunch of mismatched, eyesore hangers, then take out every other kind except for the most attractive, and only display those.
  • If you have an extra bedroom, you can turn it into a room with another purpose, like an office, crafts room, or rec room.

Stage Your Bathroom

  • Scrub down every surface- especially if there’s grout that looks dingy; if necessary, re-grout any parts.
  • Get streaks off of the mirror, faucets, and hardware
  • Fix anything that needs it, like loose towel racks, leaky faucets, etc.
  • Remove clutter-anything with brand labels on it, or that distracts the eye from the rest of the bathroom.
  • Add in some “spa-like” qualities, like candles, baskets, plants, and more.
  • Spray your bathroom with a scent, or light a candle, beforehand. Sometimes we go “nose-blind” to things that we smell every day.

General

  • If needed, re-paint a wall that’s dark and/or stained.
  • Fill in patches and holes in walls.
  • Wash your windows on the inside and the outside.
  • De-personalize your home; take down family pictures and other personals so that buyers can picture themselves living there.
  • Be sure to create nice curb appeal for your house.
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How to Avoid Homebuyer’s Remorse

The magnitude of buying a house and considering all the choices involved in the process can be overwhelming. Avoid homebuyer’s remorse with these tips.

  1. Before you buy, consider these things to avoid homebuyer’s remorse in the future:
    ~The space that you need and want in a home. Think about which rooms you’ll actually use. It may seem like a formal living room is nice to have in theory, but if it’s just another room to clean that you only use once a year, you may want to re-consider. Before you buy, think about the amount of space you can realistically clean, cool, and heat. Also, figure in the size of your furniture and how it will fit into those rooms.
    ~If you can expand that house if you’d want to one day. If that’s even a remote option for the future, then make sure that house’s architecture even makes that possible.
    ~If you will grow tired of stairs (or vice versa). Will you eventually dread carrying your laundry down two flights of stairs to the basement?
    ~If you actually want that kitchen island. Some people physically work best when they’re unimpeded by that barrier in between their two counters.
    ~If there’s anything missing. Did a previous owner take something out that would normally be present? Is the bathroom missing a tub, and would you miss it if it is?
    ~If you’ll really still like that home trend a year or two from now. Don’t buy a house based around its trendy style, since trends come and go.
    ~If you’ll still be happy with that pool in the future. Pools are expensive to maintain, and they’re also time-consuming due to maintenance and cleaning.
  2. If you find a home you’re interested in, ask yourself these things to avoid potential homebuyer’s remorse:
    ~Does it include the most important things on the top of your wish list?
    ~What qualities made the house stand out from the others you looked at?
    ~Did you find other houses that met your needs, or was this one an outlier?
    ~Is it realistic to think you can find a “better” house?
  3. If you go under contract on a house, stop looking at others. You might have found things that are different from yours, but maintain your perspective of why you initially chose yours. Remind yourself of what was special about the house a few days ago, and ask yourself what has really changed about it in that short of a time.
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Questions to Ask Sellers When Looking at Houses to Buy

There are many details involved in determining the right house to buy, and these details actually communicate the overall quality of a house to you.

  1. Why are you selling?: There are many factors that can create a need for someone to move. Depending on the reason, the seller may be willing to accept a lower offer if it means they can move out more quickly.
  2. How long has the home been on the market?: Once again, putting in a lower offer could mean acceptance in this scenario. There could possibly be also something wrong with it if it’s been on the market for a while, but many times it’s simply the fact that it’s over-priced.
  3. When did you buy the home, and for how much?: This will let you know if property values have gone up or down in the local market since they bought the house. Also, it will let you know how open they might be to negotiation; if they got a good deal on the house, they may be more open to accepting a lower offer, compared to if they spent a lot on the house.
  4. What’s included in the sale?: Anything that’s attached to the house is considered a “fixture” and is included with the sale of the house if you buy it. When in doubt, ask and get the answer in writing.
  5. Is there anything wrong with the house?: Although you should find out everything in disclosures and the inspection, it’s nice to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.
  6. Has the house had any repairs or major renovations; if so, who did them?: Past problems can create present or future problems. Also, you need to know what past projects you should receive building permits for. You also need to know if the changed made to the house were DIY or performed by a licensed contractor.
  7. How old is the roof?: A typical asphalt roof lasts around 15-20 years. If the lifespan on this one is almost up, then you’ll be putting down a chunk of money in the near future.
  8. What’s the age of the wiring?: Depending on the age of the house, wiring can be dangerous if it hasn’t been replaced in a while (and costly at that).
  9. What’s the age of the windows; will they need to be replaced?: Old windows can have a huge impact on energy bills. Replacing windows is expensive, but it’s probably better to know about in the long run.
  10. Are there issues with the home’s foundation?: This is an important thing to know, because the structural integrity is one of the key elements of a home.
  11. Is there obvious water damage?: If there’s a basement, you can check it out to see if you think there’s been water; if it’s carpeted and doesn’t smell musty, it’s probably never had water damage, but if the utilities are raised off the ground, then it may have had damage in the past.
  12. What’s the current quality of the sewer system?: If there’s anything wrong, the homeowner (not the city) pays to fix it. Looking at the condition of the sewer lines aren’t typically part of a home inspection, so it may be good to get them checked out.
  13. Have insurance claims been made on the home?: This also lets you find out if there have been any past problems with the house. Also, if there’s a stream, creek, etc. near the house, you need to know if you’ll need flood insurance before you buy it.
  14. Where are the trees located around the house; what’s their quality?: Are any rotted, dead, and/or have the possible of falling onto your house in a storm? Will any of them block out the sun too much?
  15. Are there any current or past pest problems?: Ask, and also look around inside cabinets and moist places for pests and their traces.
  16. Does the ground slope away from the house?: The grading of your house is important; it affects the direction of the water flow around your home. Too much water directed towards the house=bad.
  17. What are the neighbors like; are there any neighborhood problems?: Bad neighbors, traffic problems, bad maintenance, bright lights, and more can all be advantageous to know about before you buy it. You can even talk to a few neighbors to gather more information about these things.
  18. Have there been break-ins in the neighborhood; if so, have you seen an increase?: Always good to know. Also important when determining if you’d need an alarm system.
  19. How much are the utilities for the house?: Sure, your usage will be different, but you can probably get a ballpark figure, and discern how many bills to expect.
  20. What surprised you when you moved in?: Because even if it’s a pleasant surprise, it’s still beneficial to know.
  21. What do you enjoy most about living here?: You’ll probably hear a perspective on something about the house or community that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  22. Is there anything I/we forgot to ask?: This of course gives them a chance to tell you what you wouldn’t have thought or have known to ask.
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What Happens in a Sellers’ Market?

A sellers’ market is different from the regular housing market– expect more buyers, less inventory, and a need to move quickly.

  • There’s not much to choose from: Homes will get snatched up seemingly right after going on the market. Inventory is low due to the large number of buyers.
  • Cash speaks volumes: Usually cash offers beat out any other kind. They become more common in a sellers’ market.
  • Seller preferences are taken into account even more: Buyers’ agents will work extra hard to figure out what it is that makes the sellers tick in order to get their offer approved. Would the seller prefer a quicker closing date over a little extra cash? Would they be touched by a heartfelt note from a new family? These things are weighed more.
  • Bidding wars are everyday occurrences: When the inventory is lower, more people will be vying for the same properties. There will be multiple people putting offers in, and usually each of those people making multiple offers. All of this is even more common if the property’s listing price is just right.
  • Selling price gets raised above asking price: This is often a direct result of a bidding war. When a property is at the “sweet spot” of just under or at the home’s true value, multiple buyers will be attracted to it and each put their bid in, raising the price.
  • Offer deadlines: These create urgency for the buyers to put their offers in and to keep outbidding the others.
  • Escalation clause: These typically aren’t  very common, but in a sellers’ market, they are more common. These are included in an offer, and let the seller know you’re willing to increase the amount of your offer up to a certain point if there are other higher bids.
  • As a buyer, be ready to act quickly: This is no time to wait too long to make a decision. Obviously mull it over, but if you wait too long, you run a high chance of missing out on getting the house. “The home you saw today and want to think about tonight, is the home someone else saw yesterday and thought about last night.”
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How to Buy a Home Fast

There are a lot of factors that can make the process of buying a home seem years-long. However, there definitely are certain ways to speed up this process.

  1. Check your credit reports and your credit score so you know what you’re working with. This will let you know if you need more time to build your credit, or to fix any mistakes.
  2. Choose an expert team. Your Realtor/s, closing attorney, mortgage banker, and whomever else will be assisting you in the process of buying your home, should be top notch.
  3. Get familiar with your chosen Realtor. They’ll know more about the market, both nationally and regional, and they will be able to tell you the best schools, neighborhoods, and help you with anything that comes up along the way. They’ll also generally have connections- to vendors, and to sources of knowledge about the newest constructions, etc.
  4. Get pre-approved for a home loan, not just pre-qualified. This could even put you at an advantage over a cash buyer who could be offering less money. So gather your paperwork and go get pre-approved so that you look like a serious, trustworthy buyer. They’ll need your W-2s, 1099s, and more.
  5. Search for homes in areas with high inventory. It takes less time to close in the process of buying a home when there’s less competition.
  6. Have a solid of list of what you want and what you don’t want. You’ll waste less time viewing houses trying to figure out what you like and don’t like.
  7. Sell your house before you buy another one. The separate processes will be easier than trying to handle both at the same time. Also, you’ll have a nice amount of equity in the bank, and flexibility with your closing date, which can put you above other buyers. If you can just temporarily put your things in storage and rent on a month-to-month basis, you can do this. You’ll also be mostly packed before you move!
  8. Be available to reply quickly to your agent and to any other cog in the process of buying your home.
  9. Your lender makes a difference. Many banks take around 45 days now, but 30 days is usually typical. Another factor that affects how fast the lender can work is when you get the inspection. It’s recommended to get it taken care of soon after you go under due diligence. The sooner this is taken care of, the sooner the lender can work their magic.
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What to Avoid as a Homebuyer

Buying a home is a definite process; one that works best if you’re an informed homebuyer  and know what to avoid.  There are things that can go wrong, but there are also things that can go right, leaving you with your dream home.

  • Caring too much about (fixable) aesthetics: Almost everything is fixable and changeable in a house. Unless it would bust your budget to fix, don’t get too caught up in those fixable things, especially if it’s something as simple as the light fixtures or paint in a room.
  • Waiting too long to take action: If you are sure you’ve found the home you want, then don’t wait too long to make an offer, especially if it’s currently a competitive market. If too much time passes between seeing a house and and making an offer, the seller may not take it as seriously.
  • Ignoring what the seller/s want and need: Buying a house is different from any other kind of business deal in that the seller of the “product” has to choose you. Sellers have different motivations for selling a house, whether it be for money or another reason. Your Realtor will attempt to fully understand the sellers’ reasoning and what they want out of the transaction so they can help you “win” the house.
  • Talking to seller/s without your Realtor present: The other “team” is not your enemy, so try and avoid that mindset. However, it’s better to communicate with your Realtor, who then communicates with the sellers’ agent. Don’t talk with the sellers directly, because if you agree on something in person, it won’t be the same legally as it would on paper and through your agents.
  • Low-balling a counteroffer: Don’t be too stingy. The stingier you are as a homebuyer, the harder it will be to get the bid on the house; you can be rejected, or unnecessarily lengthen the process of counter-offering. The best way to go about it is to make an offer not too far off from what you would actually pay. You’ll have a more realistic and appropriate price point to go on.
  • Being rude or too emotional: We get it, once you’re comfortable with the process of seeing houses and dealing with offers and counter-offers, it may be getting easier for your feelings to just slip out. However, stay polite to the agents and other people involved in the deal when you talk about the house, the financial aspects, and really everything in general. You wouldn’t want your mood and manners (or lack of) as a homebuyer to make a deal head south.
  • Always looking for a better deal: The market is always changing, and it’s never going to be the same as tomorrow. There could be a “better deal” later on, but on the other hand, the house that you really like could be sold before you make up your mind. If you do your research about the house, the area it’s in, and have a Realtor who will make counter-offers, then you should be set to get the appropriate price for a home.
  • Falling in love at first sight: “Fools rush in”- Probably coined by a homebuyer who quickly bought a house before doing their due diligence and had to learn the hard way. Even if you  think you LOVE the first house you look at, be sure to look at at least a few more in case you don’t know what you’re missing.
  • Overpaying: This fits in with the above rule in some cases; if your emotional attachment to a certain house overshadows your sense of practicality, you can end up overpaying.
  • Assuming a short sale or foreclosure is a deal: A slashed price tag may seem like a great deal; however, you may actually overpay for a short sale or a foreclosure in the long run. Be sure to hire a great Realtor who knows their way around the current local and national housing market. They will know the appropriate price for each property.
  • Forgetting about added costs: Home maintenance, utilities, property taxes, insurance, etc. are things that you need to remember before you make  a budget for the house you’ll buy.
  • Forgetting to get everything in writing and on file: Appliances, fixtures, etc. are things that could either stay or go, depending on what’s in writing. Be careful not to just assume that you’ll own everything that was in the house after you close.
  • Skipping the inspection: First of all, know that an inspection and an appraisal are not the same thing. An inspection can save you a lot of money in the long run; many things may not be visibly in need of repair, yet would cost you lots to fix over time. Don’t be a homebuyer that misses the important details!
  • Busting your budget by buying all new things for your new home or paying for a house you can’t afford: First of all, don’t spend what you can’t afford on a house. On that same hand, don’t think that just because you bought a new house means you “need” all new furniture to fill it.