3 Tips on How to Hunt Down Real Estate Bargains

For Millenials, Gen z-ers, and beyond, the prospect of purchasing their first property is far scarier and seemingly unattainable than in previous generations. In the past, real estate was still a major purchase, but a typical household in which the father had a full-time job and the mother stayed at home had sufficient income to buy a home and raise a family.

In today’s reality, even with a dual income, couples are scraping by if able to buy a home at all. As a result, many of today’s young families are relegated to renting or squeezing into a condominium. The prospect of finding a real estate deal within their budget isn’t seriously entertained.

Unlike other industries, most people think there’s no such thing as a serious deal in real estate. But for those with good credit and solid employment that are just shy of affording a home, there is still hope!

Be diligent, follow these tips and if you’re patient, you will be able to finally make your dreams of homeownership come true.

1. For Sale By Owner

When homes are for sale by owner, you can get really lucky and find a listing that’s below market value because the seller accounts for savings on agents fees. Additionally, they are generally much more willing to negotiate, enabling you to explore terms with them to meet your budget. The trick is finding these real estate listings. The best way to be the first one with your foot in the door is by going to the big real estate websites, like Trulia and Zillow, and setting alerts for whenever a ‘for sale by owner’ property comes on the market in a desirable area.

Modern Suburban Home for Sale Real Estate Sign in front of modern home.

2. Rehab Loan

A lot of young buyers could swing purchasing a home, but often what they can afford is undesirable. Understandably, they’d often prefer biding their time in a non-committal rental unit than buying an old run-down home they can’t afford to front the cash to renovate. Luckily there’s a type of loan you can apply for that allows you to incorporate renovation costs. This gives you the opportunity to hunt down great real estate bargains without having to worry about the quality of your home in the short term.

Material for repairs in an apartment is under construction, remodeling, rebuilding, and renovation. Making walls from gypsum plasterboard or drywall.

3. Foreclosures

Banks focus on money management, not property management. For this reason, in the unfortunate scenarios when peoples homes get foreclosed on, banks are willing to give significant discounts just to unload the property. However, with foreclosures, they’re a mixed bag, there are a lot of run-down properties with issues the previous owners probably couldn’t afford to fix. Work with an experienced agent and make sure you have a thorough inspection conducted so you know exactly where you stand. As mentioned in number 2, rehab loans are a great way to make a foreclosed property a viable option.

Leaning foreclosure sign in front of a modern single-family home on a cloudy cold day

How Much Homeowners Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

Imagine saving for a home downpayment for years, then working to pay off a mortgage, only to have the home burned down in a fire. How would you be able to get your life back to normal? 

The most common type of homeowners insurance (HO-3) protects you in case your home or belongings are damaged, stolen, or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning, and all other disasters that are not specifically excluded in the policy.

Most mortgage companies require borrowers to have insurance coverage for the value of their house when they buy a home. While an insurer may recommend a coverage limit for your home, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what homeowner insurance covers, and how much coverage you should have. 

Dwelling Coverage

In the event that your home is totally destroyed by a fire, you want to make sure your dwelling coverage is enough to pay for all the costs associated with rebuilding your house from the ground up (this is not the same as the price that you paid for the property). 

To calculate how much it would take to rebuild your house, multiply the square footage of your home with the local construction costs. You can find this information on the websites of most construction companies or by asking your real estate agent. You would also have to include any attached structures, such as a deck, built-in appliances, like a water heater, and any improvements you make to the house, such as new floors or marble countertops. 

Keep in mind, the cost of rebuilding your home will be higher if you are rebuilding at a time when construction costs are high. If your whole neighborhood was hit by a massive fire, and all your neighbors are all rebuilding at the same time, it could drive construction costs up a lot. 

House burnt down interior.

Personal Property Coverage

Most homeowner insurance policies also cover personal belongings both inside and outside the home, such as furniture, computers, appliances, clothing, and other belongings that have been stolen or destroyed (except your car). You want enough personal property coverage to replace all of your belongings in case they are stolen or destroyed. 

Generally, insurance companies will set the default personal property coverage limit at 50-75% of your dwelling coverage, but the amount of coverage you need depends on how much stuff you have and how valuable it is. The best way to accurately assess the value of your property is to take a home inventory. There are many apps that allow you to take a detailed inventory of your things, along with notes about their value. Having a regularly-updated inventory will make it much easier when you submit a claim to the insurance company. 

TIP: It is easy to take an inventory of your things while you are packing them up before you move. 

Beautiful woman writing in a notebook while moving in a new home.

Liability Coverage 

Personal liability coverage will pay for any legal and medical bills that occur if someone gets hurt on your property. So if your dog bites the neighbor, your insurer will pay any of their medical expenses. Also, most insurance companies will pay your medical expenses if your neighbor’s dog bites you, so make sure to ask your insurer what they cover. 

While most insurance companies will provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage, experts at the Insurance Information Institute recommends that homeowners purchase at least $300,00 – $500,000 worth of liability coverage. 

A male German shepherd bites a man by the hand.

Additional Living Expenses Coverage

If your house burns down, you are going to need a place to live while you are rebuilding it, that’s where additional living expense insurance (ALE) comes in.  ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other living expenses you may incur while you are not able to move back into your house. 

Man pulling a suitcase and entering a hotel room.

Supplemental Insurance

A standard insurance policy will not pay for damages caused by a flood, earthquake, or routine wear and tear. In order to get coverage to protect against these and other damages, you may have to get supplemental insurance. 

If you are unsure of how much homeowners insurance to buy, talk with insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and real estate agents. They can help you get the proper coverage to protect you, your belongings, and your house from whatever life throws at you. 

How to Price Your Home to Sell

When a house has been sitting on the market for too long, the price begins to drop. Buyers will think there’s a reason that no one is buying it, and they won\’t add it to their list of houses they want to see. In fact, web traffic to a listing slows down by 65% after the first three days, according to a study from Redfin. 

That\’s why it’s so important to make a good first impression with your listing price. If a house is overpriced, buyers won’t give it a second thought. But you don’t want to set the price too low and lose money either. Here are a few tips to help you find the right price for your home. 

Don’t Drop The Price

A home that comes on the market at $249,000 looks a lot different than one that was on the market for $350,000 for a while before being reduced to $250,000. Buyers will question why the seller dropped the price so much. Were they trying to trick buyers into paying more than the property is really worth? Does the seller know what the actual price should be? Will the seller drop the price even lower if buyers wait? 

Lowering your price might attract some buyers, but not nearly as many as if you had just set that price, to begin with. In fact, houses that have price drops only get about half as many views online as new listings, according to Redfin.

“Even if it’s objectively a good home, if it’s been on the market for a while, many buyers will wonder if there’s something wrong with it. Once that stigma is there, it is going to be hard for a seller to get full asking price,” a Redfin agent said in the study. “If there’s already a price cut, savvy buyers start smelling blood in the water. It’s not a good situation for sellers to be in.”

Think of it this way: if you are willing to reduce the price after it’s been sitting on the market for a certain number of days, just make that reduced price the initial price. Buyers have a lot of tools available to them these days, and they can see when you are overinflating the price of a house. 

Start A Bidding War

On the other hand, if a home comes on the market at a low enough price, it can attract more buyers. Those buyers might grow attached to the property and start a bidding war. In the best-case scenario, buyers can actually increase the price of a home beyond what you ever thought you could get out of it. 

However, setting the price below what you are comfortable selling it at could come back to bite you if you end up losing money on the sale. So make sure you feel comfortable with the price you set. 

Leave Some Wiggle Room

Most buyers will want to negotiate the price even if they are already comfortable with where it is now. If you set the price $5,000 – $10,000 higher than you want to go, you can allow the buyer to “win one,” which goes a long way. 

Think of it this way: would you rather buy a house that was priced at $250,000 and you were able to haggle the price down to $240,000, or a house that was originally priced at $240,000? Even though both houses turned out to be the same price, most people would feel like they saved money by haggling, even if it’s only a small percentage of the final sale price. 

Price For Search Ranges

Many buyers shop for houses online or through apps that allow them to set a price range. So they won’t be able to see houses that are just out of their range, even if it’s only by one dollar. That’s why it’s important to set your price within common ranges. Most of the time these ranges are between big round numbers, like $100,000 – $200,000, or $250,000 – $299,999. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot by setting your price at $301,000 instead of $299,000. 

Setting your price below one of these big round numbers puts you in a buyer’s price range, plus it makes the price seem a lot lower than it actually is. There’s a reason songs on iTunes are only 99 cents, it’s easy to justify spending less than a dollar on a song (even if it’s only a penny less than a dollar). 

Talk To A Real Estate Agent

Happy financial advisor discussing with a couple their finances.

The best way to find the true market value of your house is by simply asking a real estate agent. They know the market conditions and how much buyers will be willing to spend on your house. Even if you’re not fully sure you want to sell yet, you can call up your local realtor and ask them how much your house would be worth if you did decide to put it on the market. You might be surprised how much they say your home is worth. 

4 Kid-Friendly House Hunting Tips

When house hunting, there are a lot of factors to consider: Are you close to work? Do you like the neighbourhood? Are our friends and family nearby? However, the most important factor is probably the reason you are moving in the first place, a growing family.

When it’s just you and your spouse, a two-bedroom apartment suffices. In fact, you can get away with having your first kid there, however, you quickly realize your spatial limitations when you discover how much baggage comes with baby, you’ll soon be scrambling for storage. Once they’re a little older or you’re planning another addition to the family, you’ll likely be looking to relocate somewhere larger, but are you factoring a kid-friendly environment when engaging in your house hunt?

Most of us only factor the extra space without considering other kid-friendly factors. Since you’re likely making this move to improve your growing family’s quality of life, go the full mile and ensure you incorporate as many kid-friendly features as possible.

1. Neighbourhood Demographics

When selecting a neighbourhood to target, we often take the demographics into account. When doing this, ensure the demographics are kid-friendly. If 90% of the neighbourhood is retirement age or childless, it will not be the best environment to raise your kids. It’s vital that your kids have plenty of other kids to connect with on the block so that they can be out socializing instead of hibernating with their smartphones or tablets.

Three pre-teen girls playing in street on scooters and bike.

2. Bedroom Placement

If your kids are very young, you’re likely going to want all the bedrooms to be close together and on the same floor. It just doesn’t seem right to be asleep upstairs while your nursery is isolated on the main floor forcing you to constantly go up and down the stairs to tend to your babies’ needs. 

On the flip side, if you have noisy teens, you may want the bedroom placement to be more spread out so they don’t disturb you when you’re trying to unwind.

House plan.

3. Unobstructed View of the Backyard

When you have kids you’re on supervision 24/7; whether you are literally at work or at home cleaning up after them and prepping them meals, you’re constantly working. Despite this reality, you still want your kids to be outdoors getting fresh air, not cooped up in the house, but it’s not always possible to take them out and maintain a good environment in the house. Ensuring you buy a house with an unobstructed view to the backyard (preferably from the kitchen), allows you to complete choirs while your children are playing in the backyard in full view.

Living room overlooking the garden with a small pool.

4. Amenities Within Walking Distance

Restaurants, cafes, and parks are desirable amenities to have in any situation but are especially valuable with kids. When they’re in the baby or toddler phase, packing and unpacking the car is a huge hassle, you want to be able to just walk out of the house with your stroller and access amenities. 

When they’re in the pre-teen to teen stage, you likewise want your kids to have access to amenities without them having to nag you for a ride all the time. It allows them to be more independent and you to maintain your sanity.

Family taking a walk down the street.

3 Tips on How to Transition From the City to the Suburbs

When you’re a kid and venturing out of your parent’s home for the first time, the city is generally regarded as the preferred area to live in. When you’re young, you want to be close to other young people and be where the action is. Cafes, bars, clubs, and the trendiest restaurants are all high on the priority list.

Eventually, if you haven’t already, you’ll find the person you envision settling down with and move in together. At this point, city life is still ideal. That is, of course, until marriage and children enter the picture.

Once you have your first child every city noise seems louder, choosing the car over walking in the crowded streets becomes the norm, and getting all the groceries and supplies you need turns into a huge hassle. This is the point where most city dwellers opt to transition to the suburbs where it’s quieter, there’s ample parking and you can get anything you need relatively easily.

If you’re in a scenario that compels you to make this transition, it’s more complicated than just picking out a spacious home in any suburb. Follow these tips to eliminate as much stress as possible during this difficult transition.

1. The Right School District

When surrendering to suburban living, you at least want to ensure you get the most out of it and that starts with sourcing the best school for your children. While this is a reasonable endeavor, it’s important to define “best.” People tend to go for the district that has the highest-ranking schools, but does that mean the school is right for your children? Whether you value big or small class sizes, specialized education, or other important factors, it’s important to research and tour prospective schools before deciding on a district that is right for your family.

A Mother taking her daughter to school, saying her goodbye for the day.

2. The Right Neighbourhood

People transitioning from the city to the suburbs often prioritize the house over the neighborhood. The suburbs are mistakenly viewed as all the same and after being constrained to a one-bedroom apartment or studio all that time in the city, it’s natural to want to stretch out and get comfortable in your ideal abode. 

The truth, however, is that suburban neighborhoods vary greatly in terms of their communities. Is it a religious community or secular? Is it dominated by young families or families on the brink of retirement? It’s important to vet each prospective neighborhood and ensure your comfortable with the demographics.

Round Rock, Texas, USA aerial drone view high above Suburb Neighborhood with Vast amount of Homes – Summertime in the best place to live in America.

3. Commute Time

One of the most frustrating things about moving to the suburbs is the likelihood of long commute times to work, often back to the city. The goal is to minimize the time as much as possible if you spend 2 hours a day commuting plus 8 to 9 hours at work, that leaves very little quality time, if any, to spend with your children (the primary reason for this sacrifice). When mapping out commute times, don’t be deceived by google maps and focus on distance alone. While some places maybe a little farther, there may be less traffic. You should test out various areas at rush hour and strongly consider your options when selecting a neighborhood.

Traffic is seen slowly moving on the Montrose Ave overpass at the 1-90 Kennedy Expressway and the I-94 Edens Split the day before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois

How To Remove Stains From Granite Countertops

Nothing makes a kitchen look as sleek as sparkling granite countertops, but it only takes a single stain to ruin that look. If you want to get rid of that stain, don’t reach for those harsh chemical cleaners under the sink; they might actually do more harm than good. It is especially important to stay away from cleaners that eat at the stone, like vinegar or anything made with lemon. 

Here are a few ways to remove any stain from your granite countertops:

Materials

  1. A non-abrasive cloth or pad that won’t scratch the granite countertop (microfiber cloths work great). 
  2. A pH-neutral soap (these soaps are usually labeled ‘mild,’ ‘gentle,’ or ‘great for hands’) or a granite cleaner. 
  3. Plastic wrap
  4. Mixing bowl
  5. Masking tape
  6. Plastic putty knife (optional)
  7. A poultice (See below: different ingredients based on the kind of stain)

Poultice

For each kind of stain, there is a different poultice (a fancy word for a wet mixture). Each of these poultices is made of a solvent (a chemical to remove the stain) and an absorbent material (such as a paper towel, talcum powder, diatomaceous earth, or even flour). 

If you know what caused the stain, it will make things easier to clean up. If you don’t know what caused the stain, try the first poultice on this list before moving on to anything harsher. 

  1. For minor stains, use a mixture of baking soda and water. This will work on many kinds of stains without causing too much damage. You can also try a mixture of flour and soapy water. (Make sure to use a pH-neutral soap!)
  2. For organic stains (caused by coffee, soda, wine, fruit, etc.), soak paper towels in 12% hydrogen peroxide (don’t buy this from a drug store, get it from a beauty supply store). Be careful: hydrogen peroxide can cause dark areas to become lighter, so if you have dark marble, do not let the poultice sit for too long. 
  3. For oil stains (caused by cooking oil, butter, etc.) mix one part water, flour, and pure acetone (make sure to purchase this through a beauty supply shop, do not use nail polish remover, as these can contain other ingredients). 
  4. For inorganic stains (caused by ink, dyes, etc.) use hydrogen peroxide for light-colored stone or acetone for dark-colored stone. 
  5. For metal stains (caused by rust, copper, etc.), use a mixture of diatomaceous earth and a commercially available rust remover. However, be warned that rust stains are very hard to remove, and you may need to call a professional to have these stains removed. 

Removing The Stain

  1. Clean the area thoroughly with warm water and a pH-neutral cleaner.
  2. Let the area dry.
  3. Mix poultice ingredients in a bowl to form a thick paste (the consistency of peanut butter) and use it to cover the stained area with a thin layer. When using a liquid poultice, you can also just soak the liquid in paper towels. 
  4. Cover the entire stain with the poultice.
  5. Place plastic wrap over the poultice and secure the edges of the plastic wrap to the counter with masking tape to ensure it stays put.
  6. Poke holes in the plastic wrap with a pin to allow it to slowly dry. 
  7. Let the poultice sit for at least an hour. (For tougher stains, let the poultice sit overnight and up to 24 hours.)
  8. Remove the plastic and use a plastic putty knife or scraper to remove the poultice completely.
  9. If the stain is still visible after a few days, repeat the process. 
  10. When you are done, make sure to re-seal the area that was cleaned to ensure that the area is protected from future stains. 

Make sure to test this solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the countertop to ensure that there are no adverse effects. Some poultices do cause minor discoloration that goes away after a few days, so make sure to give it time to heal before freaking out. However, if the stain persists, you can always try a professionally-made poultice or call a professional granite cleaner.

Take Better Listing Photos With These 7 Tips

The first time a buyer sees a house is usually in the listing photos. Good listing photos will stick in a buyer’s mind, increasing the chance they will want to see the real thing. It takes a lot to convince a buyer to take time out of their schedule to see a place based on a bad listing photo. Plus, a bad photo can make the realtor look less competent, depending on how bad they are. 

Here are 6 ways to improve your listing photos:

  1. Buy A Quality Camera

Your phone camera does not compare to a real camera. If you want quality pictures, you’re going to have to use a quality camera. Simply put, the sensor in your phone, which captures light, is not as big as the one in a real camera. So, no matter how many megapixels it has, it won’t capture as much. 

Digital single-lens reflex camera.

2. Add More Light

The whole point of a listing photo is to give buyers a chance to see what the property looks like, so you want to capture as much light as you can. As a rule, natural light always looks better in a picture than artificial light, so make sure to open the windows.

You can also capture some good outdoor pictures during what is known as the “magic hour” or “golden hour.” This is the first or last hour of sunlight when the light is softer and redder. Filmmakers often shoot during this time to get more romantic or emotionally heightened shots. Turn on all the lights in the house to make these pictures pop!

Home captured in the late evening.

3. Use A Tripod

One way to make a photo brighter is by reducing blur. When you are taking a picture by hand, any slight shake will cause a blur, which will make the image look dull and dark. A tripod can also help you make a dark room look brighter by allowing you to take a clear picture with lower shutter speed. 

4. Use Shutter Speed

You can make a room look much brighter by lowering the shutter speed on your camera, which increases the amount of time that light hits the sensor. However, be aware that any camera movements or movements in front of the camera will be amplified during this time (that’s why you need a tripod).

It is usually better to lower the shutter speed than to increase the ISO, which will add noise, or decrease the aperture, which will affect the depth of field. 

Blurred texture.

5. Keep It Horizontal 

The human eye is accustomed to horizontal (landscape) photos more than vertical (portrait) ones. Unless there is no other way to capture an image, you should always remember to keep the camera with the widest side parallel to the floor. 

6. Use a Wide-Angle Lens

A wide-angle lens will capture more of a room in one shot than a normal lens. A lens wider than 50-35mm (the smaller the number, the wider the lens) will also keep the whole room in focus. 

However, the wider you go, the more distorted the image will be. A really wide-angle lens, known as a fisheye lens, does not help a small space look bigger. In fact, a fisheye lens can make a room look so distorted that it becomes hard to judge the size of anything.

Fisheye effect.

7. Hire a Professional 

If you are having too much trouble getting the shot just right, hire a professional to come by. Then, follow them around as they take pictures and see if you can learn something about the way they shoot. 

The only way you’re going to get the best listing photos is by understanding how the camera sees a space. You will probably have to play with it for a while until you start learning, but if you put in the effort, your pictures could end up being worth more than a thousand words. 

3 Home Improvements That Aren’t Worth It For Sellers

Houses are a big-ticket item when selling them most improvements will yield big returns. Proper staging is one of the first things your agent will tell you to get sorted out before officially putting your home on the market. That starts with clearing your house of personal items, out of place furniture, clutter and giving it a deep clean. After that, touch-ups and minor repairs need to be tended to, ensuring the home is pristine. Sellers who are really looking to maximize their profits often include major home improvements.

The logic is major home improvements, while expensive, will yield far larger returns. When it comes to touching up a scuffed up wall, it’s a no-brainer, but once you start investing significant capital, the proposition becomes riskier and can end up coming back to bite you.

Generally, improvements to kitchens and bathrooms are high impact and while you still need to be frugal when executing them, they are generally less risky. If you’re looking at other types of improvements, it’s important to always consult an experienced real estate agent first. Here’s an example of presale home improvements that are not only a waste of time, but they could also easily end up costing you more than you stand to gain.

1. Trendy Design & Decor

It’s always a nice touch to keep up with the latest design trends, it takes any house to the next level. And while it may pique the interest of buyers with sophisticated taste, you’re ignoring the typical buyer which represents a far larger segment of prospects. The key when showing a home is appealing to the widest range of buyers possible, that means nothing flashy. With paint, stick to whites and grey’s, traditional hardwoods and conservative, yet tasteful finishes in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Colorful living room with armchair and coffee table.

2. DIY Projects Better Left To The Pros

When executing home improvements to stage a home, DIY projects are great because you save on the most expensive part of a renovation; labor. There are limitless little improvements you can do to spruce up the place and impress prospective buyers. It’s important, however, not to bite off more than you can chew. If you take on a project that’s better left to the pros, you can end up causing a mess and have to pay someone more to clean it up than you would have had you hired a pro in the first place. Only take on projects you can handle or risk wasting time and money.

Frustrated Woman With Self Assembly Furniture In Kitchen

3. Smart Home Upgrade

Every home these days has aspects that are smart, but are all smart homes? To be considered a smart home, it has to be fully automated, including security, lights, curtains, thermostats, appliances, and on and on. No doubt fully automated smart homes are desirable to almost any buyer, but is it worth upgrading your home to this status before selling? Fully automating your house is expensive and while prospective buyers may think it looks cool, it won’t factor into their offer. Gadgets aren’t as important to buyers as layouts, finishes, and location. Don’t waste your time and money on this home improvement.

Smart house concept. Communication network of residence. Energy management system. IoT. AI.

3 Instances in Which It’s a Good Idea to Accept the First Offer

The art of negotiation is fickle and nuanced. A lot of the time it’s important to use your gut and get creative in order to get what you want. Like with anything, however, there are certain principles that are sacrosanct and need to be employed, such as ‘never accept the first offer’. 

Anyone who knows anything about negotiating knows that the first offer is usually a lowball offer. Whomever is making the offer knows that no matter what number they put out there, there’s very little reason to expect the seller to accept it. This forces them to purposely make an offer below what they think is fair in order to eventually get close to something realistic.

While real estate negotiations are similar to other forms of negotiating, there are many aspects that set it apart, as any good real estate agent knows. One such aspect is when to accept the first offer.

Generally, unless the first offer is irrationally high, the best thing to do is field offers from other potential buyers to better gauge what the market dictates you can get for your home and in ideal scenarios, precipitate bidding wars. However, because the real estate game is unlike any other game, there are scenarios in which accepting the first offer is a good idea.

1. After Finding Your New Home

In real estate, most purchases are made with contingencies that the buyer sell their house first, as not to be forced to carry two mortgages and a whole host of other potential complications. If you’ve already found your new home and you’re not getting a lot of bites on your current home, this is a scenario in which it may be a good idea to accept the first offer, provided it’s reasonable. The last thing you want to do is put the deal on your new home in jeopardy, finding the right home isn’t easy.

Family On Moving In Day

2. Relocating For Work

Relocating for a new job opportunity can be exciting, but is generally very nerve-racking. It’s not easy leaving your hometown for somewhere unfamiliar and coordinating all the necessary logistical aspects for a smooth transition. Compounding that stress with a complex home sale is not a good idea. Provided the first offer is reasonable, take it. There are many other things you’ll be inundated with during this stressful chapter in your life.

Moving for work.

3. Cash Offer

Did someone say cash? Accepting a cash offer circumvents many of the issues associated with a complicated closing, like not having to wait for the loan to be approved. Additionally, if someone has that much money on hand, they’re likely not buying on the contingency that they sell their old residence, eliminating uncertainty and complications associated with them selling their current home. As long as the offer is reasonable, accept it, it will make your life easier by simplifying an already complex transaction.

Cash on hand.

Home Staging 101: How to Sell Your Home Fast

If you’re planning to sell your house, you’ve probably heard of the term home staging by now. The goal of home staging is to make your house more attractive in order to appeal to a larger number of buyers. Since everything is a numbers game, the more interested buyers, the quicker and higher your home sells for. Sounds simple, right? The concept is, but results can vary based on how well your home is staged.

Some sellers spend a couple thousand for home staging professionals to come in and redecorate the place. If you can afford to do this, by all means, go for it. If that’s not in your budget, there are still basic principles you can follow to help your house sell faster and for more.

Follow these five steps to get your home ready to sell:

1) Declutter and Organize

Declutter household items.

This is a seemingly simple task, but daunting nonetheless due to the amount of clutter we tend to accumulate over time. However, this is probably the most important thing you can do before you sell. It’s also a great way to make some extra cash (sell what you don’t want or donate the rest) and as a bonus, you’ll get to move into a new place with a clean slate, only bringing the items you actually value.

To get started, take it one room at a time. If you hop from room to room, it can become overwhelming. After you declutter, be sure to designate where the unwanted items will go, either donate, recycle (if possible) or sell them. Next, you’ll want to reorganize your remaining items so that everything has a place. Finally, do a deep clean. If cleaning isn’t your strong suit, you may want to consider bringing in professional help.

2) Rearrange Furniture

Newly arranged furniture in the living room of a luxury home.

Unless you run an interior design blog, chances are your furniture is arranged in a comfortable + practical way, as it should be. However, now is the time to style it up for looks — not comfort. This means removing outdated pieces and adding in new, modern furniture. If you simply can’t afford to spend anything, still move around what you have — sometimes that’s all it takes for a fresh look. If you’re not sure how to start arranging the furniture, browse the website or Instagram of modern retailers such as Crate & Barrel or West Elm for inspiration.

3) Paint Works Wonders

Wall paint contrast.

An easy and inexpensive way to update your home is with a fresh coat of paint. The safe bet is to go with light colors, such as white, light grey or blue. These are neutral colors that appeal to most people (remember that’s the goal here) and can help brighten + enlarge the look of a room. Most people are pleasantly surprised by how new paint can transform their space.

4) Accessorize Your Space

Rear kitchen bench styled with cut flowers and colorful saucepans.

You don’t have to go all out here, but adding a decorative plant, candle or even stack of books can warm up the space and add a cozy feel. This doesn’t mean fill every inch of empty space, you just decluttered for a reason. Instead, select maybe three decorative items per room, less if it’s a small space. Also, make sure the items are relevant to the space. For example, you might add a throw blanket in the bedroom or a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. The goal is to keep it simple and attractive.  

5) Mow the Lawn

Mulching garden beds with pine bark pieces

It’s easy to get hung up on the interior details, but you can’t neglect the outside either. Keep in mind, your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers see, and if they don’t like it, chances are they won’t make it inside. It doesn’t have to look professionally landscaped, but some general maintenance goes a long way.

That being said, keep the lawn mowed, edges trimmed, and weeds pulled. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and add a new welcome mat or planter on the front stoop. Clean the windows, gutters, and remove any debris from the yard. If you have plant beds, be sure to clean those up as well and maybe spring for new mulch or flowers. It sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but the reward will be worth it.