Brooke Caron's Blog
If you're anticipating putting your home on the market soon and want to sell it as quickly as possible, you're probably thinking that the best way to accomplish this is to accept a major drop in price. Although it's true that price points can affect how quickly a property sells, you don't have to dip much, if anything, below market value to facilitate a fast sale as long as you live in an area with a moderately healthy real estate market. Following are five proactive ways you can help your upcoming home sale go quickly.
Declutter and Depersonalize
One of the key components of a successful home sale is creating an environment where potential buyers can easily envision themselves and their family enjoying a pleasant life. Too many family photos and general clutter takes away from this. Renting a storage unit helps by providing a place to keep things and also gives you a head start on your move.
Homeowners who limit when the house can be shown are missing out on a lot of potential buyers. Although it's a hassle to always have to be available, you can make it easier on yourself by doing a general quick cleaning every morning and by using the above strategy of keeping clutter to an absolute minimum. If you simply can't guarantee availability for last-minute showings at all times, at least try to do so on weekend because that's when most people are looking at homes.
Have Professional Photos Taken
Professional photographs that show your home in the best possible light make it more likely that prospective buyers will ask to see your home. Don't settle for just any local photographer, though -- ask your real estate agent to recommend someone who specializes in home photography.
If you move out of the home, you and your family won't have to endure the inconvenience of people coming in and out, and your real estate agent will be free to show the property at literally any time.
Paint Your Home in Neutral Colors
Now is the time to make your home look as much like a blank slate as possible without sacrificing any of its charm. Neutral colors don't clash with anything, so buyers are therefore less likely to pass on your home due to aversions to certain colors, and there's something really appealing about a fresh coat of paint.
You'll also want to amp up the curb appeal of your home to make it more attractive. Because people are often blind to the faults of their own environments, ask a trusted friend or relative to look at your home exterior from the critical eye of a potential homebuyer and add improvements from there.
Are you overpaying for water?
You could be, if your home is not running as efficiently as it could, or if you have undiagnosed leaks or damage. Cutting your water consumption can help you save money every month, and in many cases, you won't have to change your habits at all. Try one or more of the following ideas for an immediate reduction in your water bill every month:
Seek out Leaks
A running toilet, a slow drip from a faucet or even a leaky fridge can cost you money every month, but provides no benefit at all. in some cases, that leak will get even more expensive over time, as standing water can damage your floors and allow mold and mildew to develop. Take a walk through your home and check these areas for leaks -- any problem you find and repair will reduce the water your home wastes each month and will prevent mold growth or damage, too:
- Listen for leaks: Turn off anything that makes noise and visit the kitchen, bathroom and any room with a faucet. What do you hear? Ideally, you won't hear anything -- if you hear drips or running water, your home is wasting water. A single running toilet can boost your water bill by hundreds of dollars each year, so pay special attention to bathrooms.
- Look for water damage: Appliances that have water or stains underneath could be leaking. The most common culprit is a fridge that has an icemaker and water dispenser. If you see or feel water, double check the lines to ensure there are no leaks. Check under sinks for moisture and note any problems.
- Head outside: Your outside faucets should be tightly closed and the ground below them should be totally dry. if there are drips or moisture, you are paying for a steady stream of water you are not using. You should also walk by your sprinkler heads and make sure the ground is not soggy; this could mean you have a costly leak in your sprinkler system,
Go Low Flow
Using less water when you flush, shower or wash dishes can help you save money every day. Simply switching your shower heads takes just moments, and can cut your water consumption without making a difference in your shower. Converting your toilets to low flow models or even adding some weight to the tanks can help reduce the amount of water used by each flush, according to Nerd Wallet.
Change your Habits
Your laundry and dish washing schedules will have a huge impact on your water bill. Reducing the amount of laundry you do (by decluttering and only keeping essentials you love) can help lower your energy costs and your water consumption. Hand washing small loads of dishes or rinsing and waiting for the dishwasher to be full before running allows you to use this power and water consuming appliance fewer times each week.
Monitoring your home for leaks and running water, converting some areas to more conservative models and changing your own habits can have a significant impact on your water bill. Do all three and you'll save hundreds of dollars each year -- and run a more eco-friendly home, too.
When you need a real estate attorney, be sure to do your research. Don’t just hire an attorney because your friend or a relative sings the attorney’s praises. The referred attorney may be great in the practice area they helped your friend or relative in, but they may not have the experience needed for your case. In addition to researching the attorney’s knowledge, you should also make sure you get along with the lawyer and make sure they don't have bar complaints lodged against them.
Real estate is an encompassing practice area. It has many sub-practice areas, such as boundary disputes, buying and selling real estate, probate issues, easements, title issues and more. If you need legal advice for a boundary dispute, you need an attorney who has experience with boundary disputes. Another example: If you were left property by a loved one who died, the property needs to go through probate. You should retain a real estate attorney who has experience in probate law. If not, you might have to retain a real estate lawyer and a probate lawyer, which will cost you more money.
Once you determine the real estate lawyer has experience in cases like yours; you will need to check the attorney’s reputation. Always check the state’s bar website to make sure the attorney is in good standing. You may also check other sites for reviews, including peer reviews. Once you determine that the attorney is in good standing and handles your type of case, you are ready to schedule a consultation.
Once you schedule the consultation, gather any documents you have that are related to your case. You will also need to jot down several questions for the attorney. Some questions are to help you determine the attorney’s experience and how they interact with their clients. Questions might include:
How many cases like mine have you handled?
Of those, how many cases had a positive outcome?
What are the ways I can contact you? (The answer should be phone and email. Some attorneys even give out their cell phone numbers.)
What is your fee schedule? If the attorney charges a flat rate, be sure you understand what is included in that rate, whether it’s to negotiate your case or go to trial, if needed.
If the attorney charges by the hour, ask what the retainer is and how much they charge on behalf of their staff. For example, the attorney may charge $125 for work that a legal assistant does and $175 per hour for work that a paralegal does.
Review the attorney’s contract before you sign it.
Finally, if everything else is to your satisfaction, only retain the attorney if your personalities do not clash. When you retain someone you do not get along with, your case could suffer because of the differences between you, the lawyer and the staff. If you do not have a personality clash, then you are ready to retain the attorney.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
When you have a luxury home with impressive architectural features and landscaping, don’t let nighttime prevent you from showing it off. Landscape lighting provides a convenient way to draw attention to certain features of your home and yard when it’s dark out. This type of lighting can improve your home’s curb appeal while also highlighting specific aspects of its design. Keep the following tips in mind for accenting your home with landscape lighting.
Choose the Right Type of Lighting
Landscape lights can serve different purposes and be installed in more than one type of area. Use path lights along pathways and other walkways, as well as in outdoor living spaces. Wall-mounted down lights can brighten up patios, decks and stairs, while in-ground lights can highlight landscape features. You can also use in-ground lights for pathways and outdoor living spaces. Accent lights and tree lights are ideal for showcasing architectural features and your front entrance.
Decide on Lighting Methods
Using landscape lighting to accentuate your luxury home involves more than having these lights installed in certain areas. You can set up landscape lights to create certain visual effects, such as moonlight or silhouettes. For example, you can use in-ground lights or spotlights for uplighting trees and taller bushes and shrubs in your yard with a dramatic effect. Directional accent lights can be used for cross lighting to draw attention to an architectural feature or garden feature. If your property has a pool or water features, such as a fountain, you can use directional spotlights to create a mirror effect.
Select a Lighting Style
Landscape lights come in a wide range of styles. The style you choose for landscape lighting will depend on the style of your home and the overall look you want to create. For a more naturalistic look, choose rustic lights to highlight your home exterior and landscape features. If you want a more elegant or vintage look, choose traditional or antique landscape lights. You’ll also find landscape lighting in modern and contemporary styles if you’re aiming for a more streamlined or minimalist look.
Determine the Ideal Illumination
When you’ve chosen the type and style of lights for your home and yard, you’ll need to decide on the amount and type of illumination to use. Cool white bulbs have a whitish-blue tint that might create an unflattering, harsh effect on your house and landscape features, especially if you use a higher wattage. Warm white bulbs produce more of a natural, yellowish glow that creates a pleasant and more flattering appearance. The ideal wattage you should use will vary based on the size and type of area you're illuminating and the type of lights you're using.