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Preparing Your Home

You’ve decided that it is time to sell. To make sure you get the most for your home and have a successful sale, it is imperative that you prep your home for the market. Before you schedule those photos and make your plan for that first week of showings, there are some things that you should take care of.

Tackle Maintenance. Unless they are looking for a property to invest into, most buyers are looking for homes without problems. In fact, avoiding plumbing, electrical, and other maintenance problems is the number one reason those that buy new construction do so, and buyers, in my experience, tend to overestimate the cost of such maintenance issues. It also causes them to look at the home with even more of a magnifying glass thinking, “If they overlooked taking care of this, what else did they miss?”

Have you neglected to change out any filters? Have a leak you’ve been putting off? Have caulk that is in dire need of a refresh? Take a weekend before you list your house and tackle some of these issues.

Clean Up Landscaping. The front of your home is the first impression that buyers will get of your property, and you want to make it great. Weeds, leaves, and overgrown grass won’t send the message, “You have to buy this house!” So prior to listing, make sure you mow the grass, pick up any leaves or dead foliage, and spray some weed killer. 

Power Wash or Paint the Front Door. Before they enter your home, buyers are going to get a minute or so just standing at the door while their agent opens the lockbox. They will have time to look around and size up the property. Make sure you have power washed all those cobwebs off and maybe even give the front door a new coat of paint.

Declutter. You are planning on moving soon, so why not get to packing. The one thing all model homes have in common is that they are free from clutter. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your stuff is everywhere. So minimize your closets and keep out only the clothes you need. Clear off the countertops of anything that isn’t strictly for decoration. Pack it all nicely in boxes and set it in your garage.

How Much Will I Make?

Outside of wondering how much their home is worth, the first question I usually get from sellers is, “How much money will I walk away with?”

It is important in the planning stages to prepare a net sheet to review the costs associated with the sale and how they affect your bottom line. This will not give you an exact dollar amount as changes in purchase price, closing date, and any concessions will alter that final number, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what you will be walking away with. 

In putting together your net sheet, you will want to consider these typical closing costs:

Owner’s Title Insurance Policy. Title insurance protects the buyer from any issues arising from defects on title after they purchase the home. While it can be negotiated, this is typically paid for by the seller. 

Tax Proration. The seller is responsible for the taxes while they lived in the home. Since taxes are usually paid once a year, this portion will typically be prorated and credited to the buyer at closing. The buyer will then be responsible for paying the full bill.

Closing and Recording Fees. The Title Company or other closing entity will usually charge a fee to facilitate the closing of the transaction, and the state will charge recording fees for the sale documents.

Real Estate Agent Commissions. In most cases, the seller will pay a commission to the listing agent. The listing agent will pay the buyer’s agent and their broker from that commission.

While this is not an all encompassing list of fees you may pay at closing, this should get you a good idea of your net on the sale of your home.

Is It Time To Sell?

“There’s never been a better time to sell!”

“You should wait to see if prices keep going up…”

“It’s a seller’s market!”

“You should wait till spring…”

If you have ever mentioned to ANYONE that you are thinking of selling your home, you have undoubtedly been met with plenty of advice – both positive and negative. And while there are many external forces like the housing market, interest rates, or the economy that can influence your decision, the only one that can truly answer if this is the right time to sell is YOU.

As you are making the decision to sell, there are a few questions you should answer for yourself. 

  1. How much is your home worth? This is always the first step when you being to consider selling your home. Knowing the current market value of your home will help you make an informed decision. So skip the Zestimate and call a knowledgeable real estate agent to perform a valuation on your home.
  2. What is your current housing market like? While you may hear all about the U.S. housing market in the news, things can be vastly different from local market to local market. Are you in a seller’s market where your home will move quickly? Do you need to plan on extra time or repair funds for a buyer’s market? Talk with your real estate agent to understand exactly what to expect in your market.
  3. Will you be subject to capital gains? With the increase in home prices and values in the last two years, you may be sitting on huge chunk of equity in your home which is great for you. However, you may be subject to capital gains tax on the proceeds from your home. Generally, if you have lived in your home as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years, you will not be taxed on the first $250,000 if you are single or $500,000 if you are married. Talk with your tax professional to find out how this may impact you.

Winter Maintenance Tips

Winter is right around the corner, so now is the time to get your home ready. Here are some things you should be doing this time of year.

Switch your ceiling fan rotation. Having your ceiling fans moving in a clockwise direction will create an updraft that forces hot air to circulate throughout the room rather than being trapped in the rafters. 

Seal your windows and doors. Take the time to caulk around windows and doors and apply weather stripping whenever necessary. This will help ensure your home is protected not only from water getting in but also cold air seeping into your home. 

Have your chimney inspected. Having your chimney inspected and swept before your first fire reduces your risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Trim your trees. Make sure you have any dead branches or limbs that hang close to your home and power lines removed so that they don’t break off and cause damage under the weight of snow and ice. 

Check for leaks. Disconnect exterior hoses, drain all spigots, and engage the shut-off valve within your home for the exterior to prevent broker water pipes. 

Service your heater. Make sure that all components are properly cleaned and working effectively. No one wants to have their furnace go out in the dead of winter. 

Home Office Goals

Working from home is the new normal for many Americans, but many of us weren’t thinking we were going to need a home office when we bought our current home. We have resigned to using the kitchen table, the coffee table, or our nightstand for our current office space. But regardless of whether you have a designated space at home or not, you can make this space work for you. 

Commit 

You may not have a room with four walls and a door to call your office these days, but you need to commit to a space for your home office. Designating a spot will help you stay in your routine and keep your mindset focused. 

Declutter

If your home office is at the same kitchen table where everyone leaves their junk, it’s going to make it difficult to stay organized. Now that you have committed to your space, make sure it is decluttered and dedicated to work.

Check that Background

If Zoom calls have become apart of your daily routine, then you need to take a second and check the background of your new home office. Do you have a pile of unfolded laundry sitting on the bed or maybe a shelf of empty wine bottles? Keep those areas clear so you are already if you need to hop on a call. 

Set the Mood

Working from home can make it difficult to stay on task, so set the mood to help you stay focused. Make sure you have lots of natural light shining in, put on that hype music in the background, and light that candle that they don’t allow you to have at the office!

3 Ways to save for your downpayment.

If buying a home is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, it is time to start thinking of saving up for that downpayment. The good news is there are loan options that allow for as low as a 3% downpayment, but typically the more money you put down, the better your loan product and rate. You can start saving up for your downpayment this month with these three tips. 

Make a budget. Start by tracking all of your spending for at least a month. This will help you get an idea of where your money is going and where you can cut back. Once you have an idea of where you can cut back, make a budget of your fixed and variable expenses. This will help you plan for savings and make sure you stay within your budget. 

Open a high-interest savings account. Look for a bank that offers a high-interest savings account and transfer your savings into it. With a high-interest savings account, you can earn more money on your savings and grow your down payment more quickly. 

Automate your savings. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. This will ensure that you are regularly saving money each month, and it will make it easier to reach your down payment goal.