Five Things You Should Put In Storage While Selling Your Home

When your home is on the market but you are still living there, you can’t very well make it a model show home.  Still, there are a few things you should think about putting in storage while your home is for sale in order to make it as appealing as possible to buyers.  Here are the top five things you should consider putting out of sight.

Excess Family Photos

Buyers want to picture themselves in the house, and a slew of family photos hung all over the place can make that difficult.  If all they can see is you and your family, they won’t be able to easily envision their own family there.

Your Liquor Cabinet

A nice wine rack or a few bottles displayed near the wet bar are fine, but if you keep a lot of liquor in the house put it somewhere out of sight.  While it may seem illogical, buyers who share different lifestyle views might be put off by it.

Your Pet’s Toys

Chewed up tennis balls, smelly stuffed animals, and half-digested bones are part of life with a dog, but people coming to see your house will find it unattractive.  It will also tell them your pet has the run of the house, and they will wonder what damage might have been done.

Signs Of Repairs

Put away the plunger and similar items when you are selling.  It will prevent buyers from wondering if something is wrong with the plumbing, even if you only keep it around as a precaution.

Anything That Clutters A Room

So the extra bedroom is used as an office/exercise room/guest bedroom?  Versatility is great, but all that stuff in there will just look like there isn’t enough space in the house for everything you—or a buyer—needs.  Get rid of the exercise equipment and the desk, and leave the guest bed.  Extra bedrooms are more of a selling point than an office or exercise room.

It might be annoying to have to put some of your personal items away while you sell your home, but it can mean a faster sale and a larger profit.  Buyers need to see a home as a place where they can live, not the place where you live.

 

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Ways To Reduce Your Heating Bill

When the temperature outside begins to fall, our heating bills quickly start to rise.  For many homeowners, keeping their house warm in the winter means paying a hefty heating bill.  Luckily, there are some ways to help reduce those costs and keep a little extra cash in your pocket for a rainy (and warmer) day.

Don’t Be Shade-y

Even though it may be cold outside, the sun still tries to peak through on occasion.  When it does, make sure to open your curtains and/or blinds in order to welcome the sun’s heat into your home.  This will help to add a touch of warmth to help keep your heating costs down.  After all, the time for seeking shade from the sunlight is in the summer.

Cool It

Did you know that the settings on your water heater could be affecting your heating bill?  It’s true.  Check your owner’s manual or ask a local expert about the ideal settings for your water heater which, if turned down, may still be able to heat your water adequately while reducing your heating bill.

Insulation Information

Insulation is used to maintain your home’s temperature.  Some houses, especially older ones, may require additional insulation to keep the cold air out during the winter and the warm air in.  The latter is especially important if your goal is to lower your heating bills.  Check with a local insulation professional about upgrading or replacing your outdated insulation.

Temperature Control

Turning the thermostat down when the house is empty or at night (when you can snuggle up under the covers) will help to reduce your heating costs.

Window Woes

If you feel a cold draft near your windows, chances are good that it isn’t the only direction that the air is flowing.  Specifically, air leaks or gaps in your window can cause the warm air to leave your home, which can result in a rising heat bill.  If you notice a draft, use caulk to seal the area or hire a professional to repair any cracks or imperfections that may be causing an airflow problem.

Now that you know how to keep your heating costs down, it’s important to note a certain amount of fresh air must be able to enter the home in order to prevent a buildup of moisture, which could lead to mold during the winter.  In other words, don’t prevent a natural airflow by making your home excessively airtight.

 

What Season Is Best To Sell?

So you are ready to sell your house, but you look out the window and see several feet of snow on the ground.  Should you bother putting your house on the market in the winter, or should you wait until spring?  Is there a better season in which to sell your home?  The answers to these questions depend on a few basic factors.

Where You Live

In a place where the climate is very cold in the winter, it can be wise to wait until spring to sell, because fewer buyers will be venturing out to look at homes.  In an area where the sun shines year round, weather is not a concern, and people will have no trouble coming out to see your house.  This doesn’t mean, however, that season doesn’t matter in a warm climate!  It can still affect how many potential buyers will come out and the odds of selling.

Watch Out For The Holiday Slump

People are usually too busy from Thanksgiving through Christmas to spend much time house hunting, and in January they are often recovering financially from holiday over-spending.  Most experts will recommend that you avoid listing your home until after the worst of the holiday slump in the market is over and people are looking to buy again.  This is true no matter what the climate!

Particulars Of Your Home

If your home is near a high school, you might want to consider selling in the summer when things nearby are a bit quieter.  The noise and traffic of the school year might put some buyers off.  If your home is near a lot of fun winter activities, this might actually be a selling point that will be highlighted better in the winter months.  Looking for these details of your area and capitalizing on them will help you to get your home sold.

The season does matter when it comes to home buying, and spring is usually a good time to list.  Your REALTOR® can help you to determine what season makes the most sense for listing in your particular case, providing you with market information in your area and helping you pinpoint the particulars of your home that make it appealing in a specific season.

 

Buying Verses Renting A Home

When it comes to a home, you have two options: buy or rent.  What is right for one person may not be right for another, which is why it’s important to know which is the best option for your individual situation.

Why People Rent

There are a number of reasons why someone may either choose or be forced to rent, including sporadic or unpredictable income, a high debt-to-income ratio, a bankruptcy or foreclosure within the last six months, unpaid collection accounts or judgments, frequent relocating for employment or the inability to save enough money for a required down payment on the purchase of a home.

Maintenance Matters

As a homeowner, you will be responsible for any maintenance or repair issues that arise.  This is a big consideration when choosing whether to rent or buy.  When you rent, the property owner is responsible for repairs and it may not always be obvious that these issues can be very costly.

How To Know When It’s Time To Buy

If you have steady income with a good employment history, can provide a down payment of at least 5-10 percent of the purchase price and are current with all debts, it may be time to consider buying a home instead of renting.  In some cases, the cost of rent may even exceed that of a typical mortgage payment.

When deciding to buy, job stability is a big factor.  If your job does not require frequent relocation and you plan to live in the home for at least 5-10 years, you may want to consider making the purchase.  If you need to relocate after that, you may have enough equity from the sale to use as a down payment on another home.

Home Buyer’s Checklist

If you can answer yes to the following questions, you may be ready for home ownership.  Your REALTOR® can help you to find the perfect home based on your individual needs.

Have you been steadily employed for at least one year, but preferably two years?

Do you plan to live in the home long enough to build equity?

Can you provide a down payment and still have enough money left to pay for closing costs, utilities and home furnishings?

Are you current on all debts, including auto loans, credit cards, etc.?

In addition to any current debts that you may have, can you afford a monthly mortgage payment which will likely include property taxes and insurance?

Do you have the time to devote to shopping for a home and comparing interest rates from various lenders?

Have you checked your credit reports for inaccuracies and disputed anything that needs correction with each of the three major credit reporting agencies?

The decision to buy or rent is a very personal one that can only be determined after a careful evaluation of your situation. A REALTOR® can show you the perfect home and a lender can tell you whether or not you can afford it, but it’s up to you to make the choice as to whether or not you are ready to make the move.

 

How Much Cash Will You Need To Close?

For first time buyers, the amount of money that is needed to seal the deal can often come as a bit of a shock.  Known as the closing costs of the deal, this amount of money involves a number of different factors that can add up to several thousand dollars out of pocket for the buyer.  You should be prepared ahead of time to pay this amount—or find alternative ways to take care of them.

What Things Fall Under Closing Costs?

Some of the things you will commonly see included in closing costs are a number of fees and types of insurance.  First of all, there are origination fees on the loan, which are usually a percentage of the amount financed.  You will also see an appraisal fee and a credit report fee, both of which the buyer is usually responsible for.  There are also fees for the home inspection and other possible fees such as bank processing fees and flood certification.

You will also have to pay for the homeowner’s insurance policy on the home for the first year in order to close, and for title insurance.  You may also have to pay property taxes on the home.

How Much Will It Be?

All of these costs are so varied that there is no way to guess at them.  They are determined in some cases as a percentage of the loan amount, and in other cases based on the home itself, such as with homeowner’s insurance.  In most cases, closing costs are thousands of dollars.

You should be provided with an estimate of the closing costs ahead of time so that you aren’t shocked with the amount at closing.

Ways To Pay

Of course, you can opt to pay all of the closing costs out of pocket in cash, but there are other options as well.  Many people choose to roll some or all of the closing costs into the mortgage itself, raising the monthly payment slightly but avoiding the need for a large amount of cash.  In some cases, you can also get the seller to pay some of the closing costs, but this will need to be agreed upon ahead of time.

Closing costs are a part of every loan and involve paying fees for the many services required to close on a loan.  Be prepared ahead of time, and you won’t find yourself surprised by the amount that is due.

 

Unclutter Your Home In Ten Easy Steps

Clutter, which is defined as things that lie about untidily, is often linked to creativity.  So, just how much imagination will it take to tidy up your space?  To be exact, you can make it happen in ten easy steps.

Step # 1: Set A Schedule

You are much more likely to stick to a routine, whatever it may be, if you work on a schedule.  In addition, this allows you to clean when you can minimize interruptions and maximize your time.

Step # 2: Set A Goal For Each Room

If you can visualize what you want, you will be better able to achieve it.  By setting goals for each room, you can note the things that need changing and work toward that goal one day at a time.

Step # 3: Create A Timeline

When do you hope to have your home completely free of clutter?  One week, two weeks or even a month?  Depending on your schedule and the amount of clutter that you have, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before you can kick back and relax again.

Step # 4: Start Small

The clutter in your home didn’t appear overnight, and it won’t disappear overnight either.  If you start small, you will be less likely to get frustrated and give up midway through your cleanup.

Step # 5: Categorize Your Clutter

When cleaning, it’s important to categorize your items into groups.  By separating the items that you want to keep, toss and donate, you will be able to move through your clutter quickly and efficiently.

Step # 6: Letting Go

A good rule of thumb for uncluttering your home is to get rid of anything that you haven’t used within the past year.  If it’s still useful, consider donating it to a good cause.  Otherwise, toss it.

Step # 7: Storing Your Seasonal Apparel

When storing seasonal clothing, purchase a sturdy plastic storage bin with a lid and roll your clothes instead of folding them in an effort to maximize storage capability.  When full, snap the lid on and slide the unit into your closet.

Step # 8: Closet Organization

Did you know that your choice of clothes hangers can greatly impact the storage capacity of your closet?  Wire hangers take up less space and can save your shirts from getting that annoying shoulder bump that often arises from the use of plastic hangers.

Step # 9: Shoes Blues

When it comes to storing shoes, many homeowners are fighting a losing battle with clutter.  How many pairs of shoes do you own?  How neatly are they stored?  If your shoe storage has you down, try purchasing clear lidded shoe boxes.  These handy creations can house each pair of shoes and can be stacked neatly in your closet.  And best of all, you can see your shoe collection without having to sift through a sea of sandals.

Step # 10: Read The Labels

If you have medicine, food or anything else with an expiration date in the home, check to make sure that the items are still good.  If the expiration date has already come and gone, throw them away.

 

Selling A Home When You Have Kids

Selling a home is stressful for everyone, and having young children in the house can add to the stress for the parents.  Let’s face it—kids have a way of making a mess in a hurry and leaving it behind for someone else to deal with.  They are also problematic in other ways when it comes to selling your house.

Of course, you can’t ask your kids to move out while you sell—but you can find some smart solutions to the difficulties of selling a home in which children are living.

Lower The Clutter Quotient

During the home selling process, pack up some of your kids’ excess toys and other items and put them in storage.  Let them help pick which items will stay out, and if the sale process goes on for a while let them trade a few items now and then.  Removing a portion of the clutter that comes with kids will make it a lot easier to keep the house clean and ready to show, preventing the stress of trying to clean up a mess of toys when people are on their way to see the house.

Set Up A Showing Plan

Whenever possible, you should try to show the home when your children are not there.  They can be a major distraction to potential buyers and may say or do things that could cause you some embarrassment or put the buyer off.  Try to set up showings while your children are at school or extracurricular activities.  If you have to do a showing when they are normally home, enlist help.  Ask a friend or family member if they would mind having the kids over for a while, or even just taking them for a walk while the house is being shown.

Kid Friendly, But Not Too Kid Friendly

For some buyers, a home that is set up for kids is a plus; for other buyers it might cause them to see the house in a different light and pass on it.  Try to keep the kids’ items contained to one space, and reduce the number of kid-friendly features such as high chairs or potty stools that buyers might not want to walk around when they see the house.  Some things can be moved just before a showing if you need them every day, but others should be removed entirely during the selling process.

Your kids are a big part of your life, and it’s their home, too—but bear in mind that buyers sometimes have trouble seeing past clutter and too much kid stuff.  Keep it as clean as possible, while still livable for the whole family.