It's no secret that first impressions are important. So when it comes to your home, don’t overlook the impact of curb appeal on potential buyers and the value the exterior appearance can add to the sales price.
Adding curb appeal doesn't have to be expensive, time consuming or complicated. By addressing the basic curb appeal principles, you can create a warm, friendly and inviting atmosphere outside and a strong initial perception of what's left to see inside.
Remember, the outside of your home is the first thing a buyer will see. Try to view it from their perspective, and focus on improvements that will appeal to the greatest number of buyers.
Create a focal point by painting or refinishing your front door. Paint faded trim and molding, and replace worn hardware, light fixtures and house numbers. Add style and appeal to the entryway with symmetry and a blast of color in mind, such as potted plants and sidelights.
Not everyone will see your home during the day. While also providing safety and security, lighting along the walkway is aesthetically appealing and leads guests to the front door. If installing wired lighting isn't an option, go for lower-voltage solar powered fixtures.
Do look down
The condition of the walkway and driveway can have a major impact on curb appeal. Remove weeds and overgrowth, and repair cracks or stains. Simply power-washing, resurfacing or resealing can sometimes do the trick. For major impact that adds value, replace concrete with pavers, stone or bricks for a custom feel, or use them to widen existing walkways.
Terrible landscaping is an automatic turnoff. Instead of rebuilding your landscaping, improve what you have by cleaning up weeds, overgrowth and dead plants; restoring color with new plants; adding mulch and defining perimeters. Focus on a mix of colors and sizes at the front of the yard, along the walkway and immediately in front of the house for dynamics that accent and frame your home.
Dress it up
Paint is inexpensive, but a few new coats can transform the look of a home. Along with obvious defects, give a fresh look to flower boxes, shutters, railings, trim and molding with accent colors for a quick and inexpensive facelift.
Home inspections are one of the most critical steps in the home buying process, and for many reasons. Investing in a home inspection can protect you from unexpected costs before you buy, as well as save you money in the long run on your investment.
Not only is it important to know what will happen during a home inspection, but just as important to know what will not happen and how to interpret the results.
Not all home inspectors are created equal, so check certifications and chose someone who is part of the American Society of Home Inspectors and is an ACI (or ASHI) certified inspector. Even the best inspectors can make mistakes, so chose one who carries "Errors and Omissions" coverage that goes beyond the basic liability insurance. Don't choose an inspector for the wrong reasons.
Attend the inspection and don't leave the inspectors side, as you will likely pick up additional insight along the way and better understand the final report. While most inspectors in California follow the National Association of Certified Home Inspections guidelines, there is no uniform checklist. So be sure to negotiate ahead of time what is included on your checklist and understand what is potentially not included, such as items not on the house (fences, surrounding buildings, pipes and septic tanks). Know that Asbestos, lead, mold and other dangers are typically not covered. Understand how thorough the inspection was, like if the inspector climbed on the roof or entered the basement, and how they evaluated the roof and foundation.
Inspectors are not psychics
A home inspection can only go so far. Inspectors can't see the future and don't know when housing systems will fail – they can only evaluate present conditions. Most home inspections are also non-invasive – meaning they only inspect beyond finished surfaces – so protect yourself as much as possible. Many of the most expensive repairs, such as water leaks and damage, rotted wood and faulty wiring or plumbing, are behind the walls and under floor coverings. A trusted inspector can notice defects and if homeowners are trying to cover up problems.
If you are preparing to sell your home or have already started the process, it’s important to understand you can learn from other’s mistakes. And there are three time-honored mistakes that stand out above the rest that many sellers make.
There can be a lot of work involved in selling your home. But avoiding these pitfalls – the biggest mistakes a seller can make – will help you get top dollar for your home as quickly as possible.
Pricing If there is one rule to remember, it’s this: Your home is only worth what the market is willing to pay you for it. Overpricing is the biggest single mistake a seller can make, and many are tempted to list their homes for sale based on what they paid, or outdated prices, instead of the current market conditions. Your agent should know the market, inventory and current prices as well as the current and past comparables in a market analysis. If you set the price too high, it will sit, and a long stay on the market will bring about questions from wary buyers, and inevitably a reduction in your asking price. Don’t invite the opportunity for buyers to negotiate. There is a number that will get your home sold, and sold quickly.
Condition The appearance and condition of your home are the first, and most important, impressions on a buyer. Most owners do not want to invest in a home that they plan to sell, but the condition impacts both appeal and price. Ask yourself this: Do you want to sell your home quickly at the highest possible price? Good, then confer with your agent for suggestions. Don’t neglect to fix simple things that are broken, because it’s a red flag to buyers about what they can’t see. Walk through your home like you’re a buyer, and remember small things matter.
Marketing Simply put, don’t skimp on marketing because you think it’s not important. The best way to guarantee you will sell your house is to exhaust every marketing opportunity available to you, ensuring it reaches the most people buyers possible. It’s a numbers game: The more buyers (and agents) who see your house, the better your chances are of selling it. Give your agent time for a proper marketing plan, which should include professional photos. Cast a wide net, and understand the impact of social media and online marketing – 90 percent of buyers use the Internet to search for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Are you thinking about selling your home? Avoid these three common mistakes.
Overpricing the price of your home is one of the biggest selling mistakes. Click here to find out the others.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes made by home sellers? Check out this list for the answers.
Regardless of whether you are an experienced property owner or real estate investor or a first-time buyer, knowing the basic terminology used in real estate is a must when you begin the process of buying or selling property.
Even a strong grasp of just a few of the most commonly used terms will help you greatly, so here is a glossary of 30 real estate terms you need to know:
Assessed Value: Typically the value placed on property for the purpose of taxation.
Broker: An individual or firm that acts as an agent between providers and users of products or services, such as a mortgage broker or real estate broker.
Chain of Title: The history of all of the documents that have transferred title to a parcel of real property, starting with the earliest existing document and ending with the most recent.
Clear Title: Ownership that is free of liens, defects, or other legal encumbranc es.
Closing: The process of completing a financial transaction. For mortgage loans, the process of signing mortgage documents, disbursing funds, and, if applicable, transferring ownership of the property.
Closing Costs: The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction.
Commission: The fee charged for services performed, usually based on a percentage of the price of the items sold (such as the fee a real estate agent earns on the sale of a house).
Comparables: An abbreviation for “comparable properties,” which are used as a comparison in determining the current value of a property that is being appraised.
Contingency: A condition that must be met before a contract is legally binding.
Deed: The legal document transferring ownership or title to a property.
Deed of Trust: A legal document in which the borrower transfers the title to a third party (trustee) to hold as security for the lender. When the loan is paid in full, the trustee transfers title back to the borrower. If the borrower defaults on the loan the trustee will sell the property and pay the lender the mortgage debt.
Depreciation: A decline in the value of a house due to changing market conditions or lack of upkeep on a home.
Easement: A right to the use of, or access to, land owned by another.
Encumbrance: Any claim on a property, such as a lien, mortgage or easement.
Equity: The value in your home above the total amount of the liens against your home.
Escrow: An item of value, money, or documents deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition.
Fair Market Value: The price at which property would be transferred between a willing buyer and willing seller, each of whom has a reasonable knowledge of all pertinent facts and is not under any compulsion to buy or sell.
Foreclosure: A legal action that ends all ownership rights in a home when the homebuyer fails to make the mortgage payments or is otherwise in default under the terms of the mortgage.
Interest: The cost you pay to borrow money. It is the payment you make to a lender for the money it has loaned to you. Interest is usually expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed.
Judgment Lien: A lien on the property of a debtor resulting from the decree of a court.
Lien: A claim or charge on property for payment of a debt. With a mortgage, the lender has the right to take the title to your property if you don’t make the mortgage payments.
Market Value: The current value of your home based on what a purchaser would pay on the open market.
Mortgage: A loan using a property as collateral. In some states the term is also used to describe the document signed (to grant the lender a lien on your home). It also may be used to indicate the amount of money borrowed, with interest, to purchase the home.
Note: A written promise to pay a specified amount under the agreed upon conditions.
Principal: The amount of money borrowed or the amount of the loan that has not yet been repaid to the lender.
Promissory Note: A written promise to repay a specified amount over a specified period of time.
Real Property: Land and anything permanently affixed thereto — including buildings, fences, trees, and minerals.
Security: The property that will be given or pledged as collateral for a loan.
Title: The right to, and the ownership of, property. A title or deed is sometimes used as proof of ownership of land.
Underwriting: The process used to determine loan approval. It involves evaluating the property and the borrower’s credit and ability to pay the mortgage.
Do you need to know the basic terms of real estate? Click here for a glossary of 30 commonly used terms.
Are you a first-time home buyer who needs to brush up on real estate lingo? Check out this list.
What are the real estate terms that baffle you the most? Check out this list of basic real estate terms.
The final walk-through is the last step to take just before the home-buying process is complete, and it is a crucial step.
The final walk-through is not a home inspection. But it is the opportunity to ensure the condition of the house hasn’t changed since your last visit, and the chance to ensure you’re getting the same house and amenities you agreed to purchase. It’s also the time to confirm that any previously agreed-upon repairs have been made and the terms of your contract are all met.
It’s tempting to cruise through a final walk-through, or even skip it altogether, especially when you’re pressed for time. But that’s never a good idea. A buyer’s walk-through not only gives you confidence in your purchase, but it can pinpoint any lingering problems that need to be settled before closing. Remember, once you close on the home, the previous owners are not obligated to fix any new damages.
Here are four steps to be aware of for a final walk-through:
The right timing. Timing is important when it comes to the final walk-through. It’s often suggested to schedule the walk-through 24 hours in advance of closing, but no more than 48 hours before to ensure enough time to address any potential problems that could arise. Put aside an hour to conduct the walk-through, enough time for you to be extremely thorough.
Double check conditions and repairs. The final walk-through is your chance to verify all promised and negotiated repairs with the seller were met. Include your inspector or general contractor if you have any concerns about the condition of the property. It is sometimes recommended to request receipts from the sellers for any items that have been repaired, along with the contact information for contractors, to prove the work was done.
What to look for. Take your contract with you to refer to during the final walk-through. Have a list of items that are staying with the house, and make sure that all items that should have been removed have been done so satisfactorily. Make sure there is no new damage – especially those that could have occurred when the seller was moving out – and check the yard, garage, attic and basement thoroughly for unwanted items.
Make sure everything works. It’s good to have a checklist as you go through the house room-by-room. Check that all light fixtures, faucets, and appliances are functional. Make sure all doors and windows open, close, and lock properly and no screens or storm windows are missing. Check to see that all electrical outlets are undamaged, and that circuit breakers are properly labeled. Turn the heat and/or air conditioning on and off and flush all toilets. Don’t ignore the outside of the house, walking the perimeter to look for leaks, checking lights and the garage door. Pay special attention to issues that could have previously been hidden, inside and out.
Taking action. If you do identify problems, you have options, including walking away from the deal. But be cautious of walking away due to problems that are not significant. You can choose to postpone the closing, and you do have legal recourse for issues that were negotiated to be fixed. Make any defects or new issues known to your realtor.
Have you experienced a final walk-through before closing on a house? Check out these steps.
Do you know everything that is involved in a final home walk-through? Check out these need-to-know steps.
Do you know what to bring to a final home walk-through? Check out these five steps.
It’s always a good idea for homeowners to thoroughly review their warranty to note the coverage on their plan. Most homeowner warranty plans cover systems in the house no matter the age, as well as appliances and systems regardless of their make or manufacturer. Some things not listed on the warranty may not be covered—so as a precaution, here are a few things to note about home warranties:
Once you have decided to sell your home, one of the biggest decisions to make is your sales price. It can be a tricky process, so take the time to thoroughly understand and strategically plan what the sales price really means.
An overpriced home is one of the worst mistakes a seller can make, for several reasons. An inflated price can discourage buyers who like the home and would otherwise make an offer. It can also create the perception that the offers – even those good for the market – are exceedingly low. An overpriced home will often sit on the market longer than it deserves, a signal to buyers low offers are acceptable because you are motivated to sell.
Pricing your home strategically within the current market conditions will help you get the maximum return on the sale of your home. Here are eight tips on how to price your home to sell:
Consult a real estate agent. A qualified listing agent is an expert who will know your area, the current market conditions, trends, and comparable properties.
Do your research on the current local market. Your home is worth exactly what the current market will pay for it. Keep an eye on trends to know where the market is going, not where it’s at, by looking at month-to-month and year-to-year trends. The most recent local sales are the best current barometer.
Get a comparative marketing analysis. Listing agents will offer you a free home walkthrough and a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) of your home in the local market. A CMA will offer a comparison of carefully selected local properties and an analysis of current market conditions to determine what makes your house unique.
Pay attention to condition and staging. What does your house look like right now? The two factors a seller can control are pricing and condition. The small details of your house matter to a buyer. Consider investing in both basic and more involved upgrades to target areas of your home – kitchen and baths – to add value that can improve your bottom line returns.
The right price strategy. Utilize strategic pricing on where the market is going to price ahead of the curve. A highly competitive price in current market conditions will attract more traffic, buyers, and offers and can create a multiple-offer situation to push up the price. A property attracts the most interest when it is first listed, and According to the National Association of Realtors, far more buyers purchase property at 10 percent of asking price (78 percent) than at even 10 percent above it (1 percent).
Get your home appraised and inspected. Hire a licensed home inspector to uncover problems ahead of time so you can fix them. This will make your home more marketable and attractive to buyers. Hire an appraiser for another educated and impartial opinion on what your home is worth.
Be realistic and not sentimental. Once you have narrowed down the potential target price of your home, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Often sellers are too emotionally attached to their home to be objective. Think like a buyer and prepare to be rational.
What do you think is the biggest factor in setting a home sales price? Check out this list.
Do you know the two factors of setting a price that a home seller can control? See these tips of how to price your home to sell.
Trying to determine how to price your home to sell? Check out these tips and guidelines.
Staging your home and properly preparing your home for open houses can have a big impact on your final sale price. The goal of home staging is to present your property in the best light, while making it easy for potential buyers to envisions themselves living in the space. There are many expert home staging companies, but trying to choose one on your own can be a challenge. You want a professional stager whose work has proven results. Your local, experience real estate agent can recommend which stagers they use and can connect you with the best professionals for your home. Your real estate agent may also be a great referral source for other home maintenance professionals who can help you prepare your home for sale like the best contractors, plumbers, electricians and window washers.
Here are some home staging tips and ideas to get you started on making your house sell-ready:
And by declutter we mean move every single personal thing out of your placeâ€”knickknacks, kitschy decorations, souvenirs, tattered furniture. It all goes elsewhere for the sake of staging. When you look at knickknacks and collectibles you remember their sentimental value, but these items don't have the same impact on buyers who don't know you.Â Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space and its easiest for that to happen if they don't see clothes in the closet, family photos and random tchotchkes.
Focus on Kitchens and Bathrooms
Your kitchen and bathrooms are key to the resale value of your home. Get these spaces thoroughly clean (maybe a maid service can go the extra mile here), expect prospective buyers to open cabinets and pantries so keep them under filled and organized, and think about how low cost upgrades could help these rooms. Maybe it's time for new cabinet knobs, new faucet fixtures or a new light.Â
Knock Buyers' Socks off with Curb Appeal
Don't forget the exterior when staging your home. Replace any bad areas of grass with new sod. Add fresh top soil to flower beds. Consider potted plants for your porch or entrance. Trim bushes and trees to make your yard look neat and well maintained.
Grow your space with Mirrors
Well placed mirrors will make your living spaces look lighter, brighter and bigger just like magic. Put mirrors in places that help bounce sunlight around the walls.Â
Don't forget your table manners
Simply setting the table can have a big affect on buyers. Seeing a nicely set table makes potential home buyers feel welcome. Similar effects can be achieved by using non-scented candles throughout the home, hanging nice hand towels in the bathrooms, setting a breakfast tray on the bed or putting a nice book on the coffee table.Â
Play up Light
Open all window coverings all the way to allow people to better view your home in sunshine. Home buyers love big, bright rooms. Make sure your windows are clean inside and out and you've dusted your windowsills.Â
Last but not least, Â Clean, then clean some more
A sparkling clean house gives buyers the impression your home has been well-maintained over the years. Knock down cobwebs, wipe counter tops, scrub grout, mop floors, wash light fixtures and repeat. Keep the space fresh and clean until it sells; a one-time cleaning won't be enough. You may want toÂ consider hiring a weekly cleaning service once your house is staged. If it shortens your selling time, itâ€™s money well spent.
So, you want a new look for your kitchen but you don’t have the time or the money for a remodel? No problem!
There are plenty of things you can do to achieve the fresh feeling you want without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas to jumpstart your non-renovation update:
Fresh Paint, Fresh Hardware
A new coat of paint and updating the hardware on your cabinets are two quick inexpensive ways to give your kitchen a facelift. If you change both dramatically, you might be surprised at just how different your kitchen feels.
Seek out inspiration from Pinterest or other home decorating sites and don’t be afraid to experiment. Remember that paint and hardware are both very easy to change if you decide that you want something different.
This can even be something you change on a semi-regular basis to always keep things fresh in your kitchen and stay in line with the latest trends. You can even get your appliances into the mix with specially-made appliance paint.
Accent pieces like rugs and tablecloths are another quick way to bring new life into your kitchen. If you change your kitchen’s paint color, you may want to choose accents that match or provide a contrast to that color scheme.
Check out yard sales and thrift stores in your area for a truly unique look. Who knows, you may find the diamond in the rough that will set the tone for your entire kitchen! And, when the time comes to move, all you’ll have to do is roll everything up and pack it away.
If you’re unhappy with how your cabinets look and painting won’t do the trick, consider taking the doors off and repurposing them as open shelving. This will give you an opportunity to show off dishes or cookware — and perhaps an excuse to buy new pieces, too.
If you know that you’ll be moving out of your place eventually, hang on to the doors and hinges so you can put them back on before you move out and let the next homeowner make their decision about what to do with the cabinets.
When it comes to home décor, turning your attention to a blog can be a great way to spark some creativity, gain some inspiration for your next project, or just follow some of the latest trends.
Maybe home décor and decorating is a hobby. Maybe you have a new home that you’re ready to make your own. Or perhaps you have a room badly in need of an update. Either way, there are many amazing home décor blogs that offer a wide range of inspiring ideas.
Here’s a list of 20 home décor blogs.
Nesting Place – A love affair with homes inspired a blog focused on decorating encouragement and creative ideas.
The Lettered Cottage – Layla and Kevin are expert stylists who produce articles for HGTV.com and shoot and style home interiors for home magazines.
Perfectly – A blog about home renovations, painted furniture, tutorials, and plenty of decorating and home projects.
Centsational Girl – With a glamorous yet practical style, Kate creates home furniture from unlikely sources as well as unique crafts and projects.
Thrifty Décor Chick – This home décor and DIY blog is all about making beautiful items on a budget.
Dear Lillie – Check out the tutorials and the house tour in a blog that has been featured in several national home magazines.
Fieldstone Hill Design – Blogger and designer Darlene deconstructs rooms and shows you how to use their elements in your home.
Décor Chick! – A home décor and DIY blog that includes a little bit of everything about turning things into something beautiful.
Young House Love – Avid DIY-ers John and Sherry blog about home decorating solutions and transforming their own home.
The Peak of Chic – Blogger, author and designer Jennifer Boles is an expert in the world of home decoration.
A Library of Design – Former magazine editor and bestselling author Janelle McCulloch covers architecture, interior design, travel and gardening.
Slim Paley – Interior designer Carolyn Espley-Miller blends unusual ideas and extraordinary designs and destinations into her blog.
Design Tripper – A blog that explores the intersection of travel and design with genuine curiosity and self-described good taste.
Bower Power – A blog about the transformation of a home and a family, including a project catalog plus photography and videos.
Manhattan Nest – A Brooklyn-based blog where you will find DIY tutorials and posts on just about everything related to all sorts of projects.
Retro Renovation – A blog dedicated to helping you remodel and decorate your mid-century home in retro style.
Chezerbey – A married couple, both architects, blog about the remodel, retrofit, and reconstruction of a home they call chezerbey.
Making it Lovely – A design and lifestyle blog that describes its goal as living a stylish life and transforming the so-so.
A Bloomsbury Life – Writer and embroidery artist Lisa Borgnes Giramonti shares thought and inspiration on design.
Amy Merrick – The beautiful photos on this blog by Amy Merrick will inspire you.
Past Imperfect – Interior designer, author, and set decorator Andrew Baseman shares his passion for antiques and collecting.
Do you have a favorite home décor blog? Check out this list of 20 blogs.
What is the latest great home décor blog you have stumbled upon? See if it made this list.
What do you enjoy most about home décor blogs? Check out this list of 20 home décor blogs.