Saturday, July 11, 2015

SELLING TIPS: Sell Your Home Faster with These Staging Tips

These home staging tips can help you allow buyers envision your home as their own. How to stage for kids, pets, and small spaces.

Home staging can help you sell your house faster and for top dollar. But creating an environment with broad appeal can be challenging when you’re still living in the space. If you’re having difficulties setting the stage, try implementing these tips!

If you have children . . .

Family Painting a Room in Their HomeKeeping your house clutter-free can be a challenge with kids in the house. Be sure to put most of the toys in storage (especially large items, like play kitchens), and keep the rest out of sight when showing your home. You’ll also want to clear kid’s drawings and artwork from refrigerators and walls.
Since not all home buyers have children of their own, it’s a good idea to makeover children’s spaces. Convert the playroom into a simple space that buyers can picture their own belongings in. And make children’s bedrooms more universally appealing by repainting the walls to a neutral color and removing kid-themed decor.
To make this transition easier for your kids, have them choose their favorite toys, books, and stuffed animals to keep in an easily accessible box or storage area.

If you have pets . . .

thumbnail-1As cute, cuddly, and loveable as your pets may be, their presence should be minimized when selling your home. Remove photos of pets from the refrigerator, walls, and tabletops. Seal up doggie doors. Keep pet toys, food, and water bowls out of sight. And pack up cages, carriers, and cat trees.
Be vigilant about eradicating hair and odors. They’re a big turn off to potential buyers, and dander is a common allergen. Vacuum daily, or even twice a day if your pet sheds a lot. Use an enzyme cleaner to remove urine stains and odor. It may be a good idea to have your carpets professionally cleaned as well.
If possible, get the pets out of the house—at least during showings. Send them to a kennel or pet sitter, or ask a friend or relative to take them for a short time.

If you have small spaces . . .

You can’t easily add square footage to a home, but you do have ways of making your space appear bigger.
One strategy is to make use of light, color, and patterns. Brighter rooms look bigger and more inviting, so maximize the light as much as possible. Place mirrors strategically to reflect images and light. Incorporating lighter colors on the walls and furniture will also help open up the room.
Stripes draw the eyes in the direction they point. So you can use a striped rug to make the room seem longer, or vertical stripes on the walls to accentuate height.
Decluttering is important when staging any home, but it is paramount when spacing is at a premium. Place an emphasis on storing anything you don’t immediately need. And don’t limit it to open areas. Remove half the items from your closets to give the appearance of more storage space.
Scale furniture to fit the size of the room, and keep walking pathways open. If you can, put some furniture in storage, or rent smaller furniture while your home is on the market.
In bathrooms, open shower curtains so buyers can see all the way to the back of the tub. 
Contact me at (443) 837-5645 for more tips to make your home appealing and shiny to potential buyers!

Friday, July 3, 2015

BUYING TIPS: 5 Changes to Consider Before Swapping Zip Codes

New neighborhoods can bring new changes. Here is what to look for before calling it home.
Before moving to that community next door, are you aware of all the changes that come with that new zip code? Prepare now by looking into these 5 details to help you make an informed decision:

  1. New Laws of the Land -- Local governments, community bylaws, and homeowners or condo associations can levy powerful (and sometimes bizarre) rules and requirements over homeowners—significantly affecting your quality of life, for better or for worse. Benefits of these groups and laws may include standards for home/lawn appearances or acceptable noise levels. Just make sure you know what may cost you a fee and what rules are enforced. Then you can decide if it matches up with your ideal lifestyle. When doing your research, be sure to do the following:
    a. Look for obvious signs of management abilities, such as a clean landscape.
    b. Search for ratings and reviews online.
    c. Ask neighbors for insider information.
  2. Local Tax Differences -- Property tax and local income tax can change drastically from one zip code to the next. You don’t have to move very far to experience a large swing with taxes—a swing that could be in your favor, or not. Review potential changes with your real estate agent or accountant.
  3. Car Insurance Rate Shifts -- Although mostly determined by vehicle type and driving record, rates can shift just by crossing a county line. Factors include parking, crime, and accident reports. To avoid expensive surprises, contact your insurance agency.
  4. Utility Cost and Service -- Sewer/water costs, trash removal, and phone and Internet access can shift in price and quality, depending on what neighborhood you move to. Read reviews, contact utility providers for rates, and compare that with other neighborhoods in the area.
  5. Spikes in activity level -- Noise and activity levels can shift by hour, day, or season. Ask about night or seasonal activities that increase noise and decrease mobility. But don’t rely entirely on the word of others. Visit a neighborhood on various days at different times to get a firsthand feel for noise and activity.
Keeping track of all of this information can be confusing and exhausting. Give your memory a break. Call or or email me for my nifty home buyer notebook tool with checklists and more to help you with your home search and evaluation.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

MOVING TIPS: 17 Tips for a Successful Move

17 smart packing solutions that will make your move a little less stressful.

From planning to unpacking, there are a lot of moving parts when relocating yourself or your family. Even if you’re moving on up, the process can still lead to some stressful situations. Minimize the hassle—and save time and money in the process—with these moving tips.

Planning for Your Move

  • Collect free boxes. Call your local grocery stores for extra boxes, and ask wine/package stores for wine cases, which are great for packing glassware!
  • Invest in custom boxes. Wardrobe boxes and custom containers are worth the money for keeping items like artwork and flat screens safe.
  • Calculate moving costs. Include supplies (boxes, tape, etc.), on-the-road expenses, storage, and moving trucks or movers. Check out for a comprehensive guide on calculating moving costs.
  • Keep, sell, donate, or toss. Having trouble letting go? Keep in mind that sold items make you money, donated items equal tax deductions, and tossed items are less items to move.
  • Organize a moving folder. Include moving quotes, contracts, and all receipts (many moving expenses are tax deductible).
  • Organize and draft a floor plan. Start planning the layout of your new home, and assign functions to rooms in advance.
  • Color code. Assign a color to every key area of your home. Print colored labels to tape onto boxes with clear tape, and add a splash of the color to all sides with colored duct tape or markers.
  • Create a number system for boxes. This will help you prioritize boxes you should unpack first and ones that can wait.
  • Create a moving key to follow. Include your color code and number system, and then print multiple copies to place in every room.

Smart Packing Solutions

  • Take photos of cords. A quick snapshot of the cords on the back of complex electronics is a small action that you’ll be thankful for later.
  • Keep hardware organized. Tape screws, bolts, and nuts directly to furniture, appliances, and picture frames. Use a ziplock bag for larger hardware, label it, and attach the bag to the item.
  • Pack heavy items in rolling luggage. Books, for example, are nice to store together, but their weight adds up quickly. Avoid heavy lifting by wheeling them in your luggage.
  • Contain with plastic wrap. Use plastic wrap around drawers and items, like a silverware tray. It’s cheap, doesn’t leave sticky residue, and saves time by allowing you to avoid emptying every container.
  • Protect mattresses. Put your extra fitted sheets to good use by doubling them up around mattresses to keep them clean.
  • Pack small kitchen items in larger ones. Try putting spices in the Crock-Pot and measuring cups in a mixing bowl. Get creative!
  • Use towels for cushioning. Wrap delicate items in towels for an extra layer of protection that costs nothing.
  • Clean as you go. As you pack, quickly clean off items to avoid carrying excess dirt into your new digs.
Moving soon?
Call me at (443) 837-5645 or email me for some great resource worksheets to help you with the process!