Heather Merrill's Blog
As a home seller, it is crucial to do everything possible to prepare for a house showing. Yet determining the best ways to prep for a showing sometimes can be difficult. Fortunately, we're here to help you get ready for any showing, at any time.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you plan for a house showing.
1. Upgrade Your House's Curb Appeal
Although a property buyer likely has seen pictures of your house or walked or driven past your residence, there may be no time like the present to upgrade your home's curb appeal. Because if a buyer sees your home's beautiful front lawn and other stunning exterior features on the day of a showing, he or she may instantly fall in love with your residence.
Completing assorted home exterior improvements is crucial to enhance your residence's curb appeal prior to a showing. In fact, performing home exterior tasks like mowing the lawn and repairing damaged siding will help your residence make a positive first impression on potential buyers. Home exterior improvements ultimately may help you accelerate the property selling journey too.
2. Remove Clutter from Inside Your Home
Clutter is a major problem because it may make your house appear small and messy. If you allocate time and resources to remove clutter prior to a home showing, however, you can highlight the true beauty of your living space to potential buyers.
If you own items you no longer need, you can always sell these items online or at a yard sale. You also can donate unwanted items to charity or give them to family members or friends.
In addition, you can always put various items you want to keep in storage. If you rent a storage unit, you can keep assorted belongings safe until your residence sells.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
With a real estate agent at your side, you can receive comprehensive support leading up to a house showing. A real estate agent will offer recommendations and suggestions to ensure you know what to expect from a showing. Plus, he or she will respond to any of your home showing concerns or questions.
Furthermore, a real estate agent will help you navigate the home selling cycle. He or she first will meet with you, find out why you want to sell your residence and help you craft a property selling strategy. Next, a real estate agent will promote your residence to dozens of prospective buyers. And if you receive an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent will help you analyze this property buying proposal. A real estate agent will even negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf to help you optimize your home sale earnings.
When it comes to hosting a home showing, there is no need to worry. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can plan for a home showing. And as a result, you can take the necessary steps to ensure a home showing is an instant success.
If you're planning to purchase a home in the near future, one thing's for sure: You've got your work cut out for you! However, when you finally find the house of your dreams, the time and effort will be more than worth it!
Your to-do list will include calculating how much you can afford to spend on a house, obtaining a pre-qualification letter from a mortgage lender, and eventually comparing loan estimates.
One of the first things home buyers usually need to do before getting too caught up in their real estate search is to check their credit score. Your credit report, which is basically a detailed profile of your credit history, plays a major role in your ability to get approved for a mortgage and obtain favorable interest rates. Consumers are entitled to get a free copy of their credit report once a year from the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Before applying for a mortgage, it's highly recommended that you check the accuracy of your credit report. If it contains mistakes, inaccuracies, or obsolete information, that could affect your ability to get a mortgage -- or obtain favorable interest rates and terms. Fortunately, errors can be disputed and corrected by the appropriate credit reporting company.
The Impact of Your Credit Score
The most widely used scoring system to determine a borrower's ability (and willingness) to stay current on loan payments is called a "FICO score." Depending on your credit history and bill paying habits, your FICO score can range from a low of 300 to a high of 850. If you're wondering how your FICO score stacks up against other homebuyers and consumers in the U.S., the median FICO score was recently in the neighborhood of 721 (although that number fluctuates). That means 50% of borrowers are above that score and 50% fall below that mark.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the best mortgage interest rates are generally offered to borrowers who have earned FICO scores in the mid- to high 700s. If your credit score falls between the high 600s and the low 700s, the interest rates available to you may be somewhat higher.
Those who are saddled with a credit rating below the mid 600s may have difficulty getting approved for a mortgage. If you're in that situation, your real estate agent or loan officer may suggest applying for an FHA loan rather that a conventional loan. Although FHA loans can be more expensive, the standards for getting approved are more lenient. These government regulated and insured loans also allow for a more affordable down payment of as little as 3.5 percent, as oppose to the "typical" down payment of between 10 and 15 percent.
If there is one project you will be thankful for taking on before a move it’s a giant declutter session. Or even sessions. It doesn’t matter how many it takes you, getting rid of the stuff that just sits around taking up space and collecting dust feels liberating.
Because stuff is more than just stuff. Everything comes with a reason or attachment that is keeping us from letting go. Even your cell phone from 2012 that you’ve been planning to recycle responsibly for years.
Sometimes the “junk” we collect in drawers and boxes has a lot more to say about us than the more sentimental items like holey t-shirts and ticket stubs.
But don’t worry we won’t go there. Instead, here are four different tactics for getting the clutter out before moving day. Because less stuff means fewer boxes, less to carry and less unpacking.
Let’s start with the most extreme, what would you do if you had to start over from scratch? If you couldn’t take anything with you what would you need to run out and replace ASAP? What are the non-negotiables that make your life yours?
Alternatively, schedule small bursts throughout the next few weeks where you tackle decluttering room by room. Breaking down a total declutter into smaller projects makes it easier to wrap our brains around. I’d recommend tackling one room per weekend.
If you’re finding that breaking up your declutter room by room is too overwhelming, here’s a different technique. Plan a few days a week where you set a timer for just an hour or two to go through one junk drawer/closet/bookshelf at a time. This works because it puts an immediate end in sight that you can quite literally count down to.
Struggling with what to keep and what to toss?
Consider how often do you actually use the item in question. If it’s of sentimental value how often do you pull it out to reminisce? Did you think to yourself “Wow! I totally forgot about this”? What value does this item add to your day to day to life? If the answer is rarely to never, it’s time to let go.
Sort items into the classic four box system. Create four boxes or piles: keep, donate, pack away, toss. And then, once everything is sorted, take action! Actually, donate those items. Toss out your collections of dead pens and old cell phones.
Or box everything up, bring it with you to the new place and toss or donate anything you haven’t unpacked within a month. With the exception of seasonal items, of course. The downside here is that you’re still going to have to pack it all up and move. But it’s a less extreme version of imagining you are starting over from scratch.
If you're looking for the best place to live in Florida, there are plenty of websites, magazines, and polling organizations that have examined that same question and offer some interesting possibilities.
Florida cities and neighborhoods that are considered by the website Niche to be among the best places in the U.S. to buy a house include two neighborhoods in Tampa: Easton Park and Grand Hampton. Niche bases its rankings on a variety of criteria, including property values, taxes, housing costs, quality of life issues, reputation of public schools, and the percentage of residents who own versus those who rent.
Money Magazine, which offers a different perspective, ranks St. Augustine among the top ten Best Places to Live in the South. In addition to what it describes as the town's historic charm, the article also speaks highly of its economy and lifestyle. Three positive indications of the quality of life in St. Augustine are its low unemployment rate of around 3.7%, an average commute time of 18 minutes, and the fact that more than 14% of residents either walk or ride their bicycles to work on a regular basis. Other desirable aspects of the area are the warm temperatures of the Atlantic ocean (mid-70s in November), cultural attractions such as the Lightner Museum, and the number of clear weather days -- reportedly 221 per year. As is the case in most Florida coastal communities, opportunities for fishing, beachcombing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and other forms of water recreation abound.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Sarasota as the best (metropolitan) place to live in Florida, based on its overall desirability, strong job market, and quality of life. The reviewer also cited factors such as the area's award-winning beaches, thriving arts and cultural scene, and what she referred to as "great restaurants and plenty of shopping options." Sarasota is ranked #21 on the website's list of 100 Best Places to Live in the USA. Other Florida cities ranked among the top 50 on the list are Tampa (#35), Orlando (#40), Jacksonville (#45), and Melbourne (#49).
With 800 miles of beaches, several popular retirement communities, world-renowned theme parks, more than 1,500 golf courses, and no state income tax, Florida is a popular destination for retirees, vacation home buyers, and those interested in owning luxurious waterfront properties. If your intention is to buy a home near one of Florida's top-ranked golf courses, you may want to narrow your search to the vicinity of Naples, Orlando, Jacksonville, Bradenton, Vero Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Stuart, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Fort Meyers, Boca Raton, Sarasota, Ocala, Bonita Springs, Tampa, Lakeland, Port Saint Lucie, Brooksville, and Kissimmee.
In spite of the fact that Florida does have a lot of high-end properties and attracts its share of wealthy buyers, there are also thousands of desirable homes available to those with a more modest budget.
In addition to researching Florida communities and desirable neighborhoods online, you may also want to consult with an experienced real estate agent -- one who can also help you make the most of your time, resources, and property search results.
No homeowner wants to borrow more money. However, if you’re experiencing hard financial times or looking for a way to fund a home improvement project, there are ways to borrow money with your home as collateral.
In this article, we’re going to talk about home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). We’ll explain how they differ and break down their benefits and risks.
Before the bubble
Before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, many homeowners were borrowing readily based on the equity of their home. Interest rates were low on home equity loans, encouraging homeowners to leverage their portion of homeownership.
During the recession, however, all of that changed. People owed more money on their mortgages than their homes were worth, and banks became reluctant to lend.
In recent, years, however, house prices have been creeping back up, and banks and homeowners alike have gained confidence in the equity of their home.
As a result, a growing number of homeowners are turning back to home equity loans and lines of credit as a source of low-interest financing.
So, what exactly are these loans and credit lines?
The difference between a home equity loan and a line of credit
A home equity loan is a lump sum of money that you borrow which is secured by the value of your home. Typically, home equity loans are borrowed at a fixed rate. Lenders take into consideration the amount of equity you have in your home, your credit history, and your verifiable income.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a bit different. Like a credit card, you are able to borrow money as you need it via a credit card or checks. HELOCs often have variable interest rates, which means even if you’re approved for an initial low rate it could be increased. As a result, HELOCs are better suited for borrowers who can withstand a higher leverage of risk and variation each month.
Is now a good time to borrow?
If you’re a homeowner, there’s an understandable temptation to use the equity you’ve built over the years to your advantage. In some cases, home equity loans and HELOCs can earn you better interest rates than other forms of borrowing.
However, as with other loan types, it’s important for homeowners to realize that HELOCs and home equity loans are not the same as having cash in your savings account.
Another danger that borrowers face is the potential for foreclosure if things go badly. While most lenders won’t seek foreclosure after a few missed payments, your home has been put up as collateral for repaying the loan. Most lenders will choose to sell a defaulted loan to a collections company rather than seek foreclosure.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to avoid borrowing unless it will help you out financially in the long term. However, for those with high home equity who may, for one reason or another, need to borrow, a home equity loan or line of credit might be the best choice.