Seller Tips: Think like the buyer

House sold sign in suburban mid west.

So, you want to sell your place fast? Do yourself a favor, and think like a buyer.

Right-price that baby. Nothing will get you serious lookers faster than pricing your house well compared to surrounding properties and general trends in your market. Your location, number of bedrooms, condition of your yard and a hundred other things go into that price, but the important thing is to make sure that your home is priced right compared to like properties in the area. That’s the first thing buyers look for and the first thing that will attract them to you.

Create appeal. People drive by your house before they ever come to the door, and they look you up online before they ever drive by. So, make sure the photos that appear on popular sites are up to date and do your home justice. And to make doubly sure, make sure your front yard— the plants, the lawn and the general appears of the house itself—all say, “Come on in!” and not “Keep driving.”

Make space in your calendar. Think long and hard before you say no to a request for a showing. It might be at an inconvenient hour of the evening. It might be on a Sunday morning. If you can at all do it, accommodate that potential buyer. It may be the only hour they have free to look at your home. And it just may be that your place is the one they’ve always wanted—and all you had to do is make time for them.

You can’t read people’s minds. But do put yourself in the shoes of the people who may buy your home. It’ll help you answer their questions before they ask. And that just might land you the sale you’re looking for faster than you thought.


What’s Your Style?

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Your style—it’s there, whether you know it or not. Take a moment to identify what it is. Are you a city boy? A country girl? Are you more traditional, backwoods, modern or eclectic? Pinpoint what it is that makes you, you, and go all in on it:

Read up. Whatever general style seems to suit you best, read up on it. Look up design tips and try to copy one or two of them. See what others who appreciate the same themes you do have done with furniture or fixtures or flooring and add one piece of that to one room to see how you like it.

Try something new. Don’t know exactly what you prefer? That’s the most fun of all. Grab a stack of magazines and try one new small thing per month (or quarter) than seems to fit your style. If it does, great—double up on that make more changes to fit it. If it doesn’t, move on to the next experiment.

Jump in. Once you’ve landed on something you know is it, jump in. Go with the latest. Ask friends for their suggestions, whether it’s grandma’s quilts or the sharp lines of an ultra-modern living room. Watch some videos. Make it your own, and go all in on it. Your space deserves your touch!


Prepping Your Home to Sell

Sold Home for Sale Real Estate Sign and House

What? You’re selling? Well, it’s about time!

Just kidding. We have no idea why you’re selling or what prompted you. We do know you need to get that house ready. Here are a few tips:

Make straight lines. While there are no perfect lines in nature, straight lines on houses make for eye-catching houses. So, if there are any sagging eves, gutters or shutters; any curled-up paint spots or roof shingles; any broken pieces of sidewalk, patch them up. Giving someone something to look down on will urge them to keep driving. Don’t give them that urge.

Color it up. Curb appeal means everything. Make your yard the most inviting it’s ever been by sprucing it up with flowers or flowering shrubs that make people want to keep looking. Edge those sidewalks, plant a couple of planters and make that front yard pop!

Stage it. Perhaps no time is better spent during house-selling than staging your house. Deep clean, create symmetry with pillows and decorations, add simple flowers to tabletops and create wide walking paths through the home. Make it look lived-in without the clutter. It’ll do wonders.

You can sell that home at a certain price no matter what; but make it a lot easier and faster with a little prepping. You’ll be so glad you did.


Creative Ways to Save for a Big Down Payment

Young happy couple holding keys to new home moving to a new home

You want the house—that wonderful three-bedroom with the big windows and almost-perfect location—but you don’t want to borrow more than you have to, you don’t want to pay private mortgage insurance and you for darn sure don’t want to con yourself into one of those lower-interest adjustable rate mortgages that can come back to sting you at just the wrong time (watch “The Big Short” with Steve Carell and Christian Bale if you want to know why).

So, in that vein, here are some ways to save for that down payment. Start by opening a special savings account, and then …

Make small goals. Goals that aren’t made don’t get met. So, if you’re trying to save, say, $40,000 to put down on that first home, don’t think about saving up the entire $40,000. Think about the first $500. When you’ve reached that, save the next $500. Then the next. And don’t touch it. Not for a vacation, not for a bigger TV. Nothing.

Round up. When you make a purchase, round up to the next dollar (or $5) and deposit the change into your savings account on your bank’s app. It’s never been easier to do, and you can do it right there at the store.

Make it a contest. With your partner, wage a contest. See what you’ve spent, on average, the past three months on, say, eating out, clothes and entertainment. See who can spend the least on those three things for the next three months and divert the savings into your down payment savings account.

These and other measures can get you to a level of savings you may have thought was undoable a year ago. And before you know it, you have the cash to put down on the house you’ve always wanted.


Live Beautifully in Your Space

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Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. So, if you’ve had thoughts of beautifying your home, look no further for a solution that simplicity itself.

Lighten the space. Darkness tends to make even pleasant environs gloomy and even ugly. If you want to add beauty to your living areas, add some simple and well-placed lamps or light fixtures. Two or three well-positioned lights can add more than their sum total of comfort and visual appeal to any space.

Lighten your load. That added light might actually expose areas of your home that need clearing up and even furniture that has done nothing but hold junk for so long you forgot that you could sit on it, too  Find a space for all the assorted bric-a-brac, and you’ll be amazed at how much better the room feels and looks.

Lighten the walls. If your walls are painted a dark color or have a dark-patterned wallpaper, use the new year as a good excuse for a new and lighter look. The brighter paint will add visual space and height to the room you didn’t know could be had. And it won’t cost you much, either.

Beautiful spaces don’t have to be expensive, but they do take some thought. Lend some thought to your space and see how much prettier it can be!


Declutter 101

Couple sat on sofa unpacking boxes in new home smiling

In the quest for the perfect home, many of us tend to dream of the spotless house with never-soiled countertops and rugs, always clean and …

Oh, stop. Perfect is the enemy of good, or in this case, simply not cluttered with stuff. And to that end, we offer the following:

If you haven’t used it in a year … A recent trend stipulates that if you haven’t used it or read it or even picked it up in the past year, sell it or give it away. It’s not a bad idea (except for family heirlooms). And for heaven’s sake, don’t rent a storage unit to plop it in. You have enough space devoted to junk already.

Find a place for it. Those keys, those shoes, those dumb ball caps that always seem to be in the wrong place—there is a place for all of them. You just need to make one and always only put them there when they’re not being used. For the space-conscious, wall hooks and over-the-door closet hangers can provide spaces for all those things and more where there seemed to be none before.

Give it away. Always seem to be tripping over the same old tools in the garage or those boots you thought you loved but never even wore? Don’t store them. Give them to the nearest shelter or Salvation Army. Somebody can use them who actually needs them.

There’s a way to clear up your space. Just tackle the junk one piece at a time, and before you know it, your place is clean and clutter-free.


Flooring Trends for 2020

Living room in new construction home with stone fireplace

The new year is looking to be a continuation of the can’t-stop-it trend toward wood-grain tile, laminate and vinyl flooring. However, this year, there’s a new take on an old standby—carpet.

That’s right: carpet. It’s still the most popular flooring choice of them all; and now, with waterproof options and bolder colors and patterns, carpet is making a comeback. And with waterproof carpet competitively priced compared to traditional types, you can install that light beige or gray you’ve been dreaming of without a worry. Speaking of colors, gray continues to outsell every other color choice, both for its versatility and its overall visual appeal.

In addition, easy-to-install carpet tiles are making a splash this year, as are bold-colored area rugs for every room of the house. Patterns in both wall-to-wall and area rugs are becoming more popular, as well.

If indeed you’re looking for easy-to-install, easy-to-clean wood-grain flooring, looking no further than laminates and tile. For the DIY-er, it’s never been easier to install a professional-looking and ultra-long-lasting floor that will be in style in this new decade and the next. Available in a variety of shades, grains and styles, wood-grain flooring continues to sell very well because of its visual appeal and ease of maintenance.

Whatever your preference, science and a variety of choices have made it easier than ever before to get a great floor that will last for decades. Go ahead, floor it. Now’s the time!