5 Tips Every Military Home Seller Should Know

Whether you’re retiring from the military and planning a move, or you’ve just received PCS orders to relocate, we’ve got your back. As a military homeowner, it’s always smart to have a game plan ready for selling your home on a timeline.

Here are five tips to help get you there!

Make a List of Things to Fix

Man applying plaster to a wall in his home.Before listing your home, go through each room and note any repairs or improvements that need to happen. Make sure you’re taking care of any damaged or malfunctioning appliances. Things like leaky faucets, broken appliances, and carpet damage are a huge turnoff to buyers.

You should also see what aesthetic improvements you can make! This includes things like repainting the walls, replacing tarnished door knobs, and switching out old faucets.

Use Listing Photos from Last Spring (If Possible)

Now that it’s getting colder outside and your grass, trees, and plants might not look so fresh, you may want to consider using exterior photos of your home from spring or summer when listing it. You want your home (and yard) to look as lush and verdant as possible.

Regardless of the time of year, high-quality listing photos pay for themselves. Professional photos will make your home look much more appealing than ones taken on your cell phone, and will invite potential buyers to come see it in person.

Research the Market

Woman smiling at a laptop as she researches the real estate market.The market has probably changed a lot since the last time you bought or sold a home. Before you list your home, take some time to thoroughly research your local real estate market.

Familiarize yourself with things like the current listing prices in your neighborhood, average turnaround times, and the type of housing for sale around where you live. Need a jumping off point for your research? We’ve got your back! We’d love to share some complimentary market reports and research tools with you.

Create a Cozy Atmosphere with Staging!

Now that it’s officially fall, take advantage of cozy fall staging to really welcome buyers into your home. As it gets colder outside, potential buyers will be feeling the cooler temperatures; imagine their relief when they step into your warm and cozy home after being outside in the cold.

Play up the cozy aspects of your home by lighting lightly-scented candles (like cinnamon or cloves, nothing too crazy!) or putting a pot of cider on the stove. Place throw blankets on furniture, highlight your fireplace or wood stove, and make sure to keep all your shades or blinds open to let in the natural light.

Get a Property Valuation

Two parents in military fatigues smiling as they hug their child.The most important step to selling your home within your timeframe is pricing it correctly! It may seem easier, but you really can’t rely on on online home value estimators. These automated systems use algorithms to price homes, and often rely on outdated or even incorrect information. Too often, we see sellers lose out on their hard-earned equity by using one of these tools—sometimes even missing out on thousands of dollars!

Instead, work with a Realtor with extensive experience buying and selling homes in your area. If you’d like a free property valuation, one that takes into account the specific qualities of your home and the surrounding neighborhood in real time, please reach out to us!

Ready for a Successful Home Sale?

As an active duty or retired military member, you deserve a real estate experience that’s custom-tailored to fit your unique needs. When you choose to partner with us, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Give us a call today to get started!

How to Sell Your Home (While Buying a New Home)

It’s a common real estate predicament: selling the home you currently live in while trying to buy a new one. So… what’s the most efficient way to go about it?

All in all, it depends on your situation. Are you willing to buy a second home without having sold your first one? Or are you relying on the payoff from your current home for the down payment on your new one? Are you relocating? Upgrading? Downsizing? Your reasons for selling will most likely dictate how you’ll go about the process.

So, here are four things to keep in mind when you’re buying and selling a home at the same time.

It’s All About Timing

Group of people consulting a calendar.What works best for you? If you’re selling your home because you’re relocating to a new area, it might more more sense to sell your current home first before buying a new home in a new market.

However, if you have enough money saved up for a down payment, it may be easier to buy your new home first, then sell your old home once you’ve moved to the new one.

So Do Your Research

A great place to start is by researching the market. If there are a lot of buyers and not a lot of homes, this is called a “buyer’s market”, meaning the conditions are ideal for buyers. Oppositely, if there are a lot of buyers and not a lot of homes, the conditions favor sellers (a “seller’s market”). If you’re buying and selling in two different markets, you’ll have to research both.

If you opt to buy before selling, make an offer on the new home with a sale and settlement contingency. You can then request an extended closing.

And Consider Your Money, Money, Money

A pile of money next to a checkbook with a pen.Look closely at your bank account; what is it telling you?

The answer to your current question (Should I buy or should I sell first?) most likely lies within. Begin by meeting with your financial advisor or mortgage lender. You’ll want to look at three main financial factors: a) The amount of money you have in liquid cash, b) The equity in your current home, and c) The amount of the new loan you qualify for.

A big part of this is knowing the resale value of your current home. It’s also a good idea to have a pre-inspection completed on your home, so you can take care of any maintenance issues that might deter potential buyers down the road… and maybe even bump up your home value a bit.

Your Equity is Also Crucial

To find the equity on your home, take its current market value and subtract what’s left on your mortgage.

Need to know the current market value of your home? Use our home evaluation tool! Please reach out to us to learn more.

Work With the Right Realtor

Even if you’re not buying and selling a home at the same time, the right Realtor can transform your real estate experience. A great local agent has the expertise and resources you need for a streamlined, stress-free, and successful real estate transaction.

If you’re in search of an expert agent in the area, we have the experience, resources, and area knowledge to assist you in your upcoming home sale and/or purchase. Give us a call today to learn more.

Home Buying Terminology: A Cheat Sheet

Buying a home shouldn’t be rocket science. You find the perfect home, make an offer to the seller, pay a couple of fees, and bam! You just bought a home.

However, buying a home actually has a lot of moving parts which include a number of funny real estate terms you’ve probably never heard before. Are Realtors and real estate agents even speaking English anymore?

To help you out, we’ve come up with a cheat sheet so you’ll know exactly what we are talking about when we explain the home-buying process.

Pre-Approval

Two adults meeting over a stack of paper.If you meet with an agent before you begin looking for homes, they’ll likely recommend you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-approval is the best first step to buying a home, because it essentially sets your budget for you.

Pre-approval involves sitting down with a lender to discuss your financial portfolio. This includes your credit score, borrowing history, outstanding debts, annual income, and any assets you have. After reviewing all of this, the lender gives you an exact number: that’s how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Not only is your budget set, home sellers will take you more seriously because they know you can qualify for enough loan to support your offer.

Earnest Money

Two parents sitting with a child who is opening a piggy bank full of coins.Defined loosely, earnest money is the money you pay to confirm a contract. When you’re buying a home, this is essentially a good faith deposit. It lets the seller know that you’re serious—serious enough to go ahead and put money down.

This money sits in a joint account (called an “escrow” account) held by both the buyer and seller. When the home purchase is finalized, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment.

Due Diligence

A few bills next to a checklist that has home-buying items on it.Due diligence refers to the period of time after the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer. This is the time when you as the buyer can schedule inspections, confirm financing, and make sure that buying this home is in your best interest.

Now’s the time to do some research! Have the home inspected by a professional to ensure nothing is wrong with it, consult public records to learn more about its past homeownership, as well as any environmental issues in the neighborhood, and work with your lender to make sure this is a good financial decision.

So…. Are Realtors and Agents the Same Thing?

Yes and no. The primary difference between REALTOR®s and real estate agents is the National Association of Realtors, also known as the NAR. The NAR is a professional organization of real estate brokers that abides by a specific Code of Ethics that all REALTOR®s are required to follow.

A real estate agent works under a brokerage, but is not necessarily a licensed NAR member.

Let’s Find Your Dream Home Together

Young couple being handed the keys to their new home.We’ll never hide behind big words when it comes to helping you find the home that’s right for you.

Give us a call today to begin your home-buying journey.

How to Sell Your Home During Back-to-School Season: A Complete Guide

As summer draws to a close, so dawns every parent’s favorite season: the beginning of another school year. This time of year can be hectic for every parent, but it may become especially overwhelming if you’re also trying to sell your home.

Don’t worry, though! We’re here to help. We’ve come up with a bonafide game plan to help you sell your home, handle back-to-school season, and maintain your sanity. Ready to learn more?

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare a Fresh Start with Staging

Bright kitchen interior.The first step to staging a home is to create a blank canvas. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to picture their lives in your home. To do that, you’ll need to take down any personal artwork, decorations, or mementos—school accomplishments, artwork your kiddos may have made for you, personal school pictures, and anything else.

While this may seem like a bummer, it is essential to selling your home.

Get Some Extra Storage

Another essential part of staging your home is removing any and all clutter. This may seem impossible with all the new school supplies, clothing, and toys strewn about, but it’s doable—and necessary!

Consider investing in a storage unit to house excess furniture, summer toys, and old clothing, or even replace a bench, ottoman, or coffee table with one that doubles as a storage chest to house excess items.

Plan for Showings (but make it fun!)

Young girl swinging in the park.Guess what time is perfect for back-to-school shopping? House-showing time!

To get kids out of the house during showings, come up with a list of kid-friendly outings or activities you can take.

Consider going to the library, a movie theater, an outdoor park or nature center, or the mall to kill some time as your Realtor shows off your home.

Make a Showing-Prep Checklist

As your Realtor schedules your home for showings, try to request at least a one to two hour buffer for each one. Then, create a checklist for what you need to accomplish to get your home showroom-ready before each tour.

Have bags pre-packed for when you need to be out of the house for an extended period of time. Depending on your kiddos, you may want to have have extra diapers, toys, books, games, snacks, and anything else you may need (and keep your list of outings handy!).

Create a Cozy Atmosphere Before You Head Out

Cute living room with cacti on the table.Before grabbing the kids and making yourself scarce, be sure to create an inviting and warm atmosphere for your buyers. Here are some general tips for last-minute staging:

  • Open all the windows — pull back the curtains, raise the blinds, and let in the light!
  • Light a soft-scented candle (nothing too crazy) or put out a bowl of potpourri to cover up any odors.
  • Set some calm, instrumental music to play in the background.
  • Put out a bowl of treats for potential buyers to munch on as they tour your home.

Want to Sell Your Home Fast (and stress-free)?

Then you need to partner with a real estate agent who knows their stuff. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you sell your home for top dollar—without all the extra stress during this busy season.

Home Buying 101: The Service Providers You Need for Your Home Purchase

When it comes to buying a home, there are more things to consider than you may realize. After all, it’s a lot more complicated than walking into the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk!

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases the average person makes. As such, you can expect there to be a lot of preparation, negotiation, and paperwork involved. In addition to obtaining a mortgage and signing the paperwork, there are a number of other tasks that need to be completed before you can open the doors to your new home.

Here’s a quick crash course in Home Buying 101: what service providers you need to hire while purchasing your new home.

Mortgage Lender

Man and a woman speaking with a bank lender holding pens.Ideally, you should start talking to lenders before you even begin looking for homes—and get pre-qualified for a mortgage as soon as possible.

Pre-qualification involves reviewing all of your finances, including income, expenses, and savings, with a lender.

Then, the lender will do some math and let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to loan you.

Home Inspector

Before you purchase the home, you absolutely must schedule a home inspection! This usually happens after you negotiate a price and sign the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement with the seller.

The home inspector will carefully go through every room of your new home (including basement, attic, and roof) to ensure everything is in proper working order. If the inspector finds any major issues, you can negotiate with the seller to get them fixed.

The average home inspection costs around $315, but it may end up being higher depending on the size of your home as well as any other add ons. For a larger home greater than 2,000 square feet, it may cost upwards of $400 or $500.

Appraiser

Woman at a computer explaining a home appraisal.After the home inspection comes the appraisal. Your lender requires an appraisal because they want to protect their investment by making sure the home is worth at least as much as they’re lending you.

The appraiser will take a close look at key features in the home and compare them to the features in other homes (and what those homes have sold for). If the appraiser values the home at less than the sales price, the bank will lower the amount of your mortgage to match it. If this happens, you have several options.

Depending on the contract you signed with the seller, you may be able to get your deposit back and walk away. You can also dispute the appraisal by talking with your Realtor about property values. Another option is to negotiate the price with the seller.

Title Company

Title insurance promises peace of mind when buying a home. Basically, when you purchase title insurance, a title company will come in and ensure the seller actually owns the home and the title is valid. This protects you down the line, in case any issues come up regarding past taxes, contracts, or prior mortgages with the home’s title.

It’s also a good idea to purchase owner’s and lender’s title insurance to protect yourself and your lender from any issues with claims to the title of your property.

The cost of title insurance depends on the size of your mortgage and your location.

Have any Questions? We’re Here for You

For even more information on how to navigate the purchase of your home, including all the fees, paperwork, and legal jargon, give us a call today. We’re always here to help.

3 Over-the-Top Home Improvement Projects that Just Aren’t Worth It

If you’re planning on selling your home within the next year or so, you’ve probably already started thinking about the best ways to increase its value. But if you’re not an experienced home flipper or contractor, it can be tricky to know which projects are worth it and which simply aren’t.

To save you time and money (and a lot of hassle), here are some home improvement projects that just aren’t worth it (and what you can do instead).

Replacing Old Cabinets

Beautiful completely upgraded kitchen with new cabinets.Depending on what kind of cabinet material you choose, you could be looking at an estimate anywhere between $1,000 to over $9,000 to completely replace your kitchen cabinets. Materials like laminate are certainly less expensive, but prices on real wood can quickly skyrocket.

As an alternative to completely re-doing your cabinets, you might consider sanding them down and re-staining them yourself (or painting, if they’re laminate) to give them an upgraded appearance.

Extensive Master Bathroom Remodel

Sure, there are plenty of homeowners dreaming of a spa-like master bathroom, but with a bathroom remodel averaging anywhere from $5,000 to over $14,000, it’s probably not worth it.

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul, consider some smaller upgrades that can still significantly boost your value. You can give your bathroom a much-needed uplift simply by replacing old sink fixtures, re-caulking the tub and shower, or adding in a stylish backsplash.

Adding on a Room

Man using a power-saw to cut through a floor.The national average for building an additional room on to your home is $42,000. And even with the added square footage, there’s no guarantee it will add much (or any!) resale value to your home. How badly do you need that extra room?

A more worthwhile alternative might be removing or adding a wall to create more space (or another room) without increasing the square footage. Another option is to add a deck, which typically costs only around $6,000 and adds desirable outdoor entertaining space (which has been shown to positively affect home values).

Get More Money From Your Home Sale

With so many home improvement options, it can be tough to decide which ones are best for adding resale value to your property. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Realtor to sell your home.

If you’re interested in selling your home, or simply want to chat about your real estate plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to assist you in making your real estate goals a reality.

So, What Does a Realtor Actually Do for Home Buyers?

If you’re actively looking for a new home to buy, it may be tempting to try and do it yourself, without a Realtor. After all, the agent isn’t really working for you, right?

Two-story suburban home made of brick and stucco.There’s a common misconception that real estate agents are only working for sellers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can help you make the right financial decision while maintaining your sanity.

Real estate agents live and breathe real estate, so they know how to navigate the market unlike anyone else.

The Right Buyers Agent Will Make All the Difference

An experienced Buyer’s Agent will keep you on top of the market, show you hard-to-find homes for sale, negotiate your buying terms, handle the bulk of your paperwork, and more. And it won’t cost you a penny!

In fact, here are the 4 things real estate agents do to eliminate stress from your home-buying process.

Help You Find the Right Home

Nice kitchen interior with bar seating and a chrome fridge.You don’t have to spend hours on Zillow wading through thousands of home listings in your area. Need a home with 2,000 square feet, at least two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a large backyard? Tell your Realtor!

Using your guidelines, they’ll provide you with a list of homes that meet your needs. Realtors have access to many homes that are not actively advertised on public sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Contract

In general, Realtors handle the bulk of the paperwork details so you don’t have to!

Contract negotiations are just one example of where it really pays off to have an experienced agent on your side. An experienced agent knows the rules and regulations of buying a home, so they’ll be able to negotiate a contract with the seller to ensure the best terms for you.

Prioritize Your Financial Wellbeing

When you enter into an agreement with a real estate agent, their job is to help you build your new investment in a smart way that ultimately protects your money and your interests.

Their obligation is to helping you decide whether a potential home will be a good, and affordable, financial investment for you.

In short, their primary responsibility is to protect you and your finances.

Answer All Your Questions

Let’s be real, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Naturally, you’re bound to have a couple of questions — both before and after the close.

Your Realtor will be there to clear things up, every step of the way.

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

So are we. If you’d like help finding the perfect home, please give us a call.

We’re here to make your life, and your home purchase, as easy and stress-free as possible. Feel free to reach out to us so we can get started!

What Do Those Home Selling Terms Even Mean?

Real estate lingo can be hard to decipher because, well, there’s so much of it! It might even seem like your Realtor is speaking another language.

From fancy acronyms to words like “escrow” and “riders,” there are a lot of terms out there that might seem totally foreign. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know what they mean!

If you’re in the process of selling your home, here are a few real estate acronyms you really should know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

Man's hand resting on the mouse pad of a silver laptop.A comparative market analysis is a great way to research the market and find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s an in-depth report that lists the prices of sold homes that are similar to your home (otherwise known as “comps” or “comparables”).

CMAs provide information about homes that were recently sold, home that are currently on the market, and homes that were on the market but were not sold within the listing period.

FSBO: For Sale By Owner

Home sellers who opt not to use a Realtor will list their home as For Sale By Owner. This simply means the homeowner is selling their home without the help of a Realtor and is taking on all the responsibilities of selling their home.

When you choose to sell without a Realtor, you may be saving money on their commission fee, but you’re taking on a lot of additional work and responsibility. Plus, you may end up losing money in the long run if you don’t know how to stage and photograph your home, market it effectively, or price it correctly and competitively.

Escrow

Escrow refers to a number of documents, payments, and other material that are held by a third party. Once you’ve negotiated the sale of your home with a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure there’s a proper escrow set up.

Basically, when a buyer makes an offer on your home, they’ll write you a check for “earnest money” (kind of like a security deposit or holding fee). This money is held by a neutral third party until you and the buyer negotiate a contract and close the sale.

Since you can’t use the money and neither can the buyer, the money is considered to be in “escrow”.

Contingency

When you’re negotiating the contract of your home sale with the buyer, there are likely to be a few contingencies in your contract. Contingencies protect the buyer if they fail to qualify for a loan, if they are dissatisfied with the results of the home inspection, or if something else falls through.

Carefully consider all terms of the contract, including specific contingencies, when reviewing offers. The more contingencies an offer contains, the riskier it is to accept the offer, as there are more ways it could potentially fall through. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a contract that benefits you and the buyer.

Need a Translator? We’ve Got You Covered

Allow us to handle all the details of selling your property, giving you more time to focus on finding and relocating to your new home. We’ll be there to guide you through every aspect of selling your home, from pricing it to signing the closing paperwork.

Give us a call today to get started.

The Most Popular Features in Multimillion-Dollar Properties

Ever wonder why some homes sell for millions of dollars? As different as each listing might be, many share a number of common features that are known to bolster home values.

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home, some of these features could be yours! Don’t worry about breaking the bank; prioritizing your wants and needs can help you determine which of these luxury features will fit your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are 5 features of multimillion-dollar homes you can get at affordable price tags.

In-Ground Pool

In-ground pool with small cabana and water slide.Who needs a neighborhood pool when you could have your own?

Imagine spending those warm summer days cooling off by your own private pool.

It’s not uncommon to see multimillion-dollar homes outfitted with gorgeous entertaining spaces, all centered around a luxurious in-ground pool—but many homes in lower price ranges also feature great backyard pool areas, too.

Expansive Outdoor Entertaining Space

It’s often said that your home’s exterior is equally as important as its interior. That’s why we’ve been seeing more and more multimillion-dollar listings with extensive outdoor entertaining spaces.

Common features of outdoor entertaining areas such as these include built-in barbecue grills, full bars, and spa-like outdoor amenities. Multimillion-dollar condos and townhomes might come with a huge private balcony complete with breathtaking views of nearby scenery.

In more affordable homes, outdoor entertaining spaces may consist of patios, porches, and, as we mentioned before, private pools.

Luxurious Master Bathroom

Oversized shower with tiling.At the end of a long day, nothing beats kicking back and relaxing in a spa-like master bathroom. It’s really no surprise that two of the top selling points for a home are the master bathroom and the kitchen.

Oversized glass-paneled showers are a must-have for multi million-dollar properties, as well as soaking tubs and stylish backsplash. Homes in lower price ranges may also feature stylish master bathrooms with upgrades like these.

Guest House or In-Law Suite

Commonly referred to as a “casita” or simply a guest house, this is a smaller dwelling separated from your main home.

Casitas are becoming more and more popular because of their versatility. Use them as a pool house, guest room, or even a source of low-maintenance rental income.

Wine Cellar

Wine cellar with glass bottles.The creme de la creme of luxury listings is… the wine cellar. You know you’ve made it when your home comes with its very own wine room.

Bonus points if your wine room comes with temperature-controlled shelving.

While more affordable homes may not come with wine cellars, you can still find homes with extra space for an excellent home theater, study, mini-library, or game room.

Your Dream Home Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

In fact, if you budget correctly, you can find the perfect home for you that has a number of special features. Correct prioritizing is key here. So, if you really can’t picture life without that in-ground pool, it may mean you won’t get an extra-special master bathroom or guest house.

Need some additional help working out the details in your home search? We’re here to help. Simply give us a call today to get started finding the home that’s right for you.

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Secure While Selling It

It’s no exaggeration that selling your home keeps you busy. In the midst of staging, pricing, listing, and scheduling tours, it’s easy to overlook the details… like home security.

Close up shot of a welcome mat in front of an open door leading to a home.After all, while selling your home, you’re probably allowing dozens of strangers to come inside for tours.

And while most of them probably have good intentions, it might not be a bad idea to beef up your home’s security a little bit.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your belongings while still welcoming potential buyers into your home.

Showings by Appointment Only

When advertising your home for sale, be sure to use phrases like “appointment only” in your listing. Never allow anyone into your home unless they have a verified appointment with your Realtor.

It’s okay to be extra cautious during this time! We recommend being alert whenever you allow anyone new into your home.

Confirm Appointments and Oversee Tours

Couple walking through a home with a Realtor there to show them around.If you’re not working with a Realtor, you will need to personally request verification of potential homebuyers when they come for a tour.

When you work with a Realtor, however, you can trust that they know how to verify all potential buyers before any visitor walks through the door.

Remove All Valuables From Sight

Keep all valuables, including jewelry and collectibles, hidden in a secure safe or tucked away in a safety deposit box at your bank. Hide all personal information (bank statements, social security cards, etc.) in drawers or out of sight.

Don’t leave anything of value lying around or in plain sight. It’s part of staging your home to sell — you want to make sure your home looks as neutral as possible with zero personal effects.

Be Extra Cautious

Single key in the lock of a wooden door.It never hurts to be careful! This is where it helps to have an experienced Realtor on your side. They’ll know what to look for and how to supervise buyers in your home as they tour.

It’s also a great time to install a security system. Not only will this provide you with extra security as you sell your home, it may even increase your property’s resale value!

Work With a Trusted Realtor

With the right Realtor on your side, you won’t have to worry about keeping your home safe during the selling process. An experienced real estate agent will know exactly how to sell your home without jeopardizing its security.

That’s exactly what you get when you choose to work with us. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you sell your home.