real estate tips

Realtors Agree—These Are the Worst Colors to Paint Your Home

by SOPHIE MIURA

PHOTO: Aaron Fallon for MyDomaine

Finding the perfect hue to paint your room might seem like a purely aesthetic decision, but it turns out the choice can have serious consequences. While it’s well-documented that green sparks creativity and fiery tones energize a space, a report from Zillow Digs suggests color can also impact the value of your home.

The home improvement website mined data from more than 50,000 photos of recently sold homes to uncover color trends. Worryingly, it discovered that rooms painted certain shades consistently fetched a lower offer, forming a blacklist of paint colors to avoid. These are the three paint shades industry pros say you should avoid at all costs:

  • Slate gray: Homeowners who opted to paint their dining room slate gray lost $1112. However, those who chose dove or light gray increased the sale price by $1104.
  • Off-white: While this shade might seem like a safe bet, the study found that kitchens painted off-white fetched $82 less than the predicted estimate. Interior designer Emily Henderson told Money that some shades of white paint can make a space look “flat” or “dead.”
  • Terra-cotta: People who took a risk by painting their living room this shade of orange took $793 of the value of their home.

Do you agree with these findings? What color do you consider to be the worst offender when selling?

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How to Create a Warm, Inviting Winter Listing

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

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A Welcoming Curb Appeal

Maintain a polished look by keeping gutters clean and shrubs trimmed. Be sure to also remove any hazards by shoveling, sanding, and removing any ice or snow from the driveway, walkways, and sidewalks. To engage buyers on a gloomy day, keep the front porch well lit, use potted evergreens or berry branches, a wreath on the door, lanterns, and a seasonal welcome mat.

Simple and Elegant Holiday Decor

Do not overdo! Buyers want to see the home’s permanent features and a fireplace or window covered with too many ribbons and stockings will distract from key focal points. Instead, incorporate elegant finishing touches such as mercury glass votives and ornaments for some sparkle paired with candles, pine cones, berries and twigs.

Create Warmth With Lighting

Use modest lighting as an accent to create an inviting ambience. Scatter a few lightly scented tea lights in votives, candles in varying heights on beautiful pillars or lanterns and soft white string lights on the front porch, entry stairway or fireplace.

Splashes of Minimal Color

Too much traditional green and red can compete with existing decor and command a room’s attention. A couple of red plaid throw pillows or a red wool blanket draped on the sofa will add just enough festive pop. We also love using silver and gold paired with fresh, white seasonal flowers to complement freshly painted neutral walls that appeal to nearly all buyers.

Keep It Bright

With shorter days, let in as much natural light as possible by opening blinds and curtains. Make sure that all lights are working, light bulbs have been changed, and be sure that the property is well lit both inside and out for late afternoon showings.

Got the Need for Speed? 10 Timely Tricks for Buying a Home in a Hurry

By Jamie Wiebe

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Ostrid/iStock

Buying a home can be a mind-numbingly slow process, broken up by periods of confusingly frantic activity. It goes something like this:  Look at a zillion homes before you think you’ve found one. Hurry up and get in your offer … and then wait. Submit a million letters to the underwriter … and then wait. And don’t even get us started on closing. The average time for closing on a loan is 50 days, according to Ellie Mae, and the process can often take even longer.

But sometimes you don’t have the luxury of waiting. Maybe you’re moving from another state and need a place to live now. Or maybe your current home sold significantly faster than expected—and if you don’t find a new place, the deal will die.

Regardless of the reason, if you’ve got the need for speed, real estate transactions can fly through quickly. But you’ve got to have a little luck and a lot of preparation. Here’s what you need to know before kicking off the buying sprint.

1. Pick your Realtor® carefully

The No. 1 secret to purchasing a home super-quickly? Find a Realtor intimately familiar with your preferred area—one who knows which homes are about to hit the market.

“This will give you a head start in finding out if that listing is right for you,” says Adriana Mollica, a Realtor in Beverly Hills, CA.

2. Ask questions early

The home-buying process can be mind-blowingly confusing—especially if you’re a first-time buyer. You shouldn’t feel guilty about peppering your agent with questions, but getting the most important ones resolved early on will expedite the process.

“When you fall in love with a home in a competitive market, you need to be prepared to sign the offer fast and submit it before the deadline,” Mollica says. “There may be some questions you want to ask your lender, lawyer, or accountant. If you wait until the offer to ask these questions, you may miss the deadline.”

3. Get pre-approved (not just pre-qualified)

It’s a good idea to get pre-qualified for a mortgage before starting your house hunt—but a pre-approval is a necessity if you’re eager to close quickly. The two are vastly different beasts: A pre-qualification requires little more than a quick conversation with your lender and perhaps a peek at your credit score.

A pre-approval basically front-loads the entire underwriting process. (Be warned: It might not eliminate all underwriting concerns.)

It “makes your offer look stronger,” Mollica says. “It also minimizes any surprises that may delay or force a cancellation during escrow.”

4. Be narrow-minded

Agents often tell buyers to stay open-minded about homes that don’t fit their wish list precisely. But if you’re in a rush, it’s best to be particular about the homes you see. Just don’t bring a super-long list of attributes you think you need. Define your absolute, must-have features and only look at homes that fit that list.

But first, “consult with your Realtor to determine if your wish list is possible in your area and price range,” says Michael Shaffer, a broker associate with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwood Village, CO. If you run out of homes to see that check all your boxes, you may want to review your criteria.

5. Look for slow sellers

Often, the sellers who are most motivated to move quickly are those who haven’t been able to sell their home for a while.

“Ask your Realtor to look into homes that have been on the market for a long time,” Schaffer says. “In some markets, that may be a week or two. In others, it could be a year or more.”

6. Make a strong offer

Now isn’t the time for underbidding—even if you’re convinced that all that ratty wall-to-wall carpeting should lower the asking price.

“Make sure your offer is as strong as possible, with your Realtor’s expertise and guidance,” Schaffer says.

That doesn’t just mean offering a lot of money. You can also offer a larger down payment and more earnest money. And that fast closing date will definitely help. Remember: Sellers who aren’t worried about the buyer backing out are more likely to accept an offer.

7. Be prepared to waive contingencies

When you’re buying a home, it’s standard to throw in some contingencies. (A contingency is a clause in the offer that allows you to walk away from the deal under certain circumstances—with all of your cash in hand.)

But if you’re looking to buy in a hurry, you might have to take a deep breath and bypass some of those bad boys. Just beware: Waiving certain contingencies can spell trouble down the line—and possibly land you in a money pit. Choose your battles—and your concessions—carefully.

8. Have your paperwork in order

Even with a pre-approval—the buying process requires reams of paperwork. Get everything together beforehand: At least three months of bank statements, pay stubs, letters of explanation for any weird or unusual expenses. If your mom’s giving you cash for the down payment, make sure the payment is documented.

When you think you’ve provided enough proof of everything, double it. The more documentation, the better, when you’re trying to buy fast.

“In most cases, things get held up because paperwork and information isn’t readily available,” says Raena Casteel, a Realtor with the Casteel Little Real Estate Group in Tucson, AZ. Even the smallest omission could end up delaying your closing for a week.

9. Write a letter

If you can’t eliminate contingencies or offer more money, and the sellers aren’t moved by a quick closing, consider writing them a personal letter. Tell them about the children you plan on raising in the house, or about your love for the home’s vintage ’20s details.

“Sellers often want the highest price, but oftentimes, offers come in very similar,” Mollica says. “Your letter could be the edge in getting the seller to choose your offer.”

Keep it short—nobody wants to read your autobiography. (Sorry.) One or two paragraphs are all you need to prove your worth.

10. Don’t tell the seller

Beyond writing a quick closing date into your contract, don’t hint to the seller you’re desperate for a home.

“When [buyers need] to buy fast, they are at a disadvantage in a negotiation,” Schaffer says.

How To Know If You’re Ready To List Your Home

By Danica Ro

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Image: Chris Snook

Even the happiest of homeowners sometimes find themselves wishing for a better option. When you spend hours each week maintaining a sprawling lawn or have to trip through a living room littered with the kids’ toys, it’s easy to dream of listing your current property and purchasing a new home.

When the idea to list their home starts to become serious, many people find that the decision is much harder than they anticipated. Listing a home (and subsequently finding a new property) is a hefty commitment of time and money. And, you know, a little thing called ‘stress’.

How can you know if you’re ready to list your home? We’ve laid out a few key points to help you understand your situation and make a confident decision.

 

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Image: American Artisans Designers & Fabricators

Does your home fit your needs?

As time goes on, our lives change. In a perfect world, the homes we love would grow and change with us in order to fit our lifestyles; a new addition to the family, a longer commute to a relocated office, or an elderly-friendly space for an aging parent. Unfortunately, the ability to morph our homes so greatly is rarely the case.

And so, one of the biggest signs that you’re ready to sell your home is if it no longer suits your needs. After all, who wants the headache of constantly retrofitting a space when you could find one that already fits your family comfortably?

Making a pro and con list of your home’s features is an easy way to see if your needs are being met. Start with the big-ticket items — a lack of necessary bedrooms or a larger kitchen, and work your way down to the more trivial points.

When you’re finished, you should be able to see very clearly whether it makes more sense to sell your home or to stay put.  

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Image: Terrrat Elms Interior Design

Do you know your home’s current market value?

The real estate market is constantly fluctuating, which can be a hard truth for sellers to accept. Your home’s sale price in the current market may not match the price at which you bought the property.

Obviously, this can be a good thing if the market is stronger now than when you first purchased. But, if you mortgaged the property at a high sale price and now need to pay off that mortgage when values are low, selling your home can become a bit more difficult.

Contact a real estate agent to determine your home’s current value. After taking a thorough look at the property, he or she will generate a Comparative Market Analysis for you. This report takes your home’s condition, upgrades, size, and location into account and compares it to similar properties that have recently sold in order to give you a fair price point.

If you find that sale prices have decreased drastically but you’re desperate to move, consider doing some upgrades. Assets such as a remodeled kitchen, a finished basement, or a central air system are all taken into account when judging a home’s sale price.

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Image: Feldman Architecture

Are you financially capable?

Potential sellers often assume that since the buyers are the ones purchasing the property, they are the only ones making a commitment. This is not the case. While the sellers’ financial responsibility in the transaction may not be as large, there is a cost. Before deciding to sell, make sure you have the ability to make payments, if necessary.

Verify that you will be able to pay off your mortgage at the current sale price. Make sure you will have enough money left over after settlement to cover your new living arrangements. Set aside a lump sum to pay for any necessary repairs after inspections and leave a little extra for unanticipated costs that can and will pop up along the way.

However, sometimes the decision to sell your home is a step towards financial security. If you are putting your home on the market to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy, your concerns are a bit different.

You’ll want to contact a real estate agent who specializes in short sales: a type of transaction where the bank agrees to forgo some of the money owed on a mortgage to keep the owner from defaulting on a loan entirely. Make sure to list your property “as-is” when marketing it, so potential buyers know you won’t be making repairs. Be honest about any financial changes throughout the course of your transaction.  

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Image: Murphy Co. Design

Have you made the repairs on your to-do list?

Every home has a never-ending to-do list of chores and improvements. When you need to decide whether or not you’re ready to list, it’s time to start checking items off.

These small fixes could help make your decision easier. Once you’ve finished the list, ask yourself whether they have improved your overall opinion of your home. If so, has it improved it enough to convince you to stay?

Even if the answer is no, making these small household improvements will work to your advantage. An improved condition could mean an increase in property value. Additionally, since buyers inspect the property and take necessary repairs into account during contract negotiations, making the repairs ahead of time will put you in a stronger bargaining position.  

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Image: Clean Design

Do you have a plan for the future?

This may sound obvious, but it’s important enough to bear repeating. It’s easy for potential sellers to be swayed by the prospect of being given hundreds of thousands of dollars for their current property. That is because they don’t always put enough thought into what they’d like in a new home and the associated costs. Before listing your property, take the time to think about your next step.

Think about factors such as location, property size, the amount of maintenance you’d like to perform, and financial concerns like property values and yearly taxes. If you have a growing family, you may want to research the quality of the school districts before settling on a location. For those concerned about maintenance-free living, consider a condo or townhome community rather than a single-family property.

Start planning by having a discussion with your family members about what qualities are important in a new home. Take time to look at properties online to get a feel for your likes and dislikes. Once you have a specific area in mind, spend some time there to get a sense of the community. If you like what you find, contact a real estate agent to help get you ready for the next step.

When deciding whether or not to list your home, there is no right answer. Use these points as a starting guide for how to determine if you’re ready to sell. Whether you end up selling or staying just make sure that you are comfortable and secure in your final decision.

When did you know you were ready to sell your home? Or, what made you decide to stay? Let us know in the comments below, or reach out to us on social media.