5 Questions Sellers Keep Asking About 2021’s Hot Real Estate Market

Key Takeaways:

  • Today’s real estate market is heavily skewed towards sellers, making now the perfect time to list your home.
  • Many would-be sellers have questions about moving when the market is this hot—and we have the answers you need to get started.
  • If you’re considering selling your home soon, it’s crucial to work with a top local agent. Give us a call to see what we bring to the table!

The Top 5 Questions Every Seller Asks in Today’s Market

Whether you’re eager to list or are just thinking about selling, you’ve probably heard that the 2021 real estate market is one for the record books. Since last year’s swift economic recovery, home values just keep getting higher, and it’s not uncommon for listings to sell over asking price in just a few days. And according to the National Association of Realtors, the typical home is now selling for 14.1% more than last year. 

Have a few reservations about listing your home right now? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we hear from our sellers.

Should I even consider selling right now?

White sold home sign

To put it simply: yes! There’s never been a better time to sell, especially if you’ve built up equity by living in the same home for a while. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen a national housing shortage, record-low interest rates, and a surge of serious buyers. This has driven prices to all-time highs, and many buyers are even waiving contingencies or paying extra for the right home.

Looking for another reason to move? A recent survey by NerdWallet found that one in six homeowners plan to list their home in the next 18 months. So if you want to take advantage of today’s crazy market and beat out the competition, you shouldn’t wait much longer. 

Will I be able to buy a new home after I sell?

Couple buying a home

A majority of homeowners aren’t worried about selling their home—they’re actually more concerned with buying a new one. If your home sells quicker than you expect, you still have options. You may be able to request “use and occupancy” or “rent-back” contingencies from your buyer, which allow you to live in your current home until you find a new one. It’s also worth asking your buyer if they’re willing to be flexible with the closing date. Depending on your situation, it might even be more advantageous to buy before you sell.

Do I need to work with an agent if the market is so hot?

Clients talking to an agent

Many homeowners believe they can make an even bigger profit by not using an agent, particularly in a seller’s market. While you may save some money on commission, you could end up selling your home for below its true market value. And let’s be honest—nobody has time to sort through dozens of offers or handle all the complicated paperwork that comes with selling a home!

If you want to price your home right and ensure a stress-free selling experience, it’s worth paying for an agent.

Should I still stage my home or make improvements?

Painting a wall white

Unless your home is in dire need of an update, there’s no need to make any major changes before you list. However, it’s still a good idea to do a little staging to get your space looking its best. Start by tidying up, getting rid of clutter, and depersonalizing as much as possible.

If you’re trying to sell a fixer-upper and don’t want to complete any repairs, consider listing “as-is.” This tells potential buyers that you won’t be making any changes—what they see is what they get.

What’s my home worth in today’s market?

Increasing home values

Tempted to use an online estimator to see how much your home is worth? Before you type in your address, consider reaching out to a local real estate agent instead. The real estate market in our area changes day by day, and an agent will have up-to-date data that’s more accurate than any algorithm.

If you’ve lived in your house for at least a few years, your property has probably increased in value more than you’d expect. Get in touch with us today for a complimentary valuation, or give us a call for more personalized advice!

Sell Your Home with Confidence

Selling your home shouldn’t be a stressful experience. If you have even more questions about today’s market, just drop us a line—we’re here to make the entire process hassle-free! 

Curious about your home’s value? Send over your address, and we’ll conduct a free, no-obligation home value estimate.

4 Tricks to Buying a Home in a Crazy Hot Market

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite the ongoing pandemic, the real estate market is more competitive than ever before—and that means buyers have to do more to get their offer accepted.
  • Want to stand out from the competition and score the home of your dreams? Our four tips can help you achieve real estate success in no time.
  • If you have any questions about buying in today’s hot market, just give us a call for even more personalized advice!

The 4 Tips Every Buyer Needs to Know in 2021

If you’ve been house-hunting for a while, you’ve probably noticed that today’s real estate market is more than just a little competitive. Low mortgage rates, high demand, and dwindling inventory have created ideal conditions for sellers—but it’s still very possible to score a fantastic deal on a home.

Want to know the secret to buying a home in 2021? Here are four tips that can help you take back control in a seller-driven market.

Get your finances in order

Calculating mortgage payments

First and foremost, you need to get your finances in order before you even consider looking at homes. Start by paying off as much debt as you can and increasing your credit score. It’s also a good idea to keep track of just how much you have saved for a down payment. Sellers are more likely to choose buyers who can put down at least 15% or pay cash.

Want to strengthen your offer even more? Get preapproved or attach a higher earnest money deposit to show a seller you’re serious about buying their home.

Know what you want

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting milestones. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details—which is why it’s crucial to do your research in advance. Connect with a local agent early on to discuss your home-buying goals. A good agent will help you hone in on your budget, wants, and needs, as well as the right area or neighborhood.

Prepare for a bidding war

Negotiating a deal

According to a recent survey by Redfin, more than half of all buyers found themselves in a bidding war last year. And while the idea of competing against other home-seekers might seem overwhelming, there are a few things you can do to stand out. 

If you’re trying to score a house with multiple bids, send in your best and final offer up front. You may also want to include an escalation clause, which automatically increases your purchase price by certain increments (like a few thousand dollars at a time) so you avoid getting outbid.   

It’s also a good idea to consider homes below your budget, especially if you have your heart set on a popular neighborhood. This gives you some flexibility if you end up in a bidding war. 

Appeal to the seller

Talking about real estate

Even if you find yourself in a bidding war, it’s still possible to come out ahead. Believe it or not, sellers don’t always choose the highest offer, even if it far exceeds the original asking price. 

You can appeal to a seller’s peace of mind by limiting your contingencies, offering to pay closing costs, and letting them choose the closing date. Adding these extra bonuses might seem minor, but they can really impact a seller’s final decision.

Only Buy with the Best

Working with a top-notch agent can help you navigate 2021’s crazy real estate market with ease. So if you’re looking for some guidance, it’s time to give us a call!

Whether you’re at the beginning of the buying process or are already searching for a home, you can trust us to help you find your perfect place. Contact us today to get started; we look forward to working with you.

What Makes Today’s Real Estate Market So Competitive?

Key Takeaways

  • This year’s housing market is shaping up to be the most competitive on record, but the pandemic isn’t the only thing influencing the national real estate boom.
  • There are actually quite a few factors contributing to today’s hot market, including unfettered buyer demand, historically low supply, and steady interest rates.
  • Have questions about buying a home in 2021? Get in touch with us for even more personalized advice.

3 Factors That Make 2021’s Real Estate Market More Competitive Than Ever

If you’re planning a move, you might be wondering how the real estate market will change this year—and the predictions are pretty eye-opening. Existing home sales are expected to increase by 9%, home prices could rise by a whopping 8%, and mortgage rates should stay well below 4% for the foreseeable future. 

For buyers, this means you may have to work harder than usual to find the perfect place. However, this extra effort will pay off if you have a home to sell or want to take advantage of extraordinarily low interest rates. 

Need help making sense of today’s market? Here are a few reasons why real estate is more competitive than ever in 2021. 

The ongoing pandemic

Buying a home during the pandemic

A year ago, real estate experts had no idea how the COVID-19 pandemic would impact the housing market. While many predicted a crash akin to what we saw in 2008, we actually saw the opposite: a pandemic housing boom.

During last year’s lockdowns, many renters and homeowners grew unhappy with their living situations and wanted a change. This caused demand for homes to spike—and as panicked sellers pulled their listings, prices rose higher and higher.

The pandemic might slowly be coming to an end, but we’re still seeing remnants of 2020 in today’s market. And while more sellers are finally warming up to the idea of listing again, available housing supply is still at its lowest point ever.

Record-low interest rates

Dice changing rates

In late March, interest rates for 15- and 30-year mortgages hovered around 2.5% and 3.3%, respectively. Although these numbers aren’t quite as low as they were in 2020, buyers can still score a once-in-a-lifetime deal by moving now.

To put things into perspective, let’s say you’re thinking about buying a $300,000 house with a 20% down payment. Back when rates were nearing 4%, you could expect to pay around $1,200 per month for your mortgage. However, if you were to buy that same home with a 3% interest rate, your payment would drop to just $1,012—and that difference can save you tens of thousands of dollars over time.

Low inventory & unprecedented buyer demand

Sold sign

Real estate is all about supply and demand. And in today’s competitive market, an inventory shortage and swelling buyer demand have created perfect conditions for sellers. In particularly popular areas, it’s not uncommon for homes to sell just days after they’re listed, sometimes in bidding wars that go above the original asking price.

If you’re thinking about buying a home soon, be prepared to act fast. Many agents recommend getting pre-approved, limiting your contingencies, or even setting an escalation clause to automatically outbid other buyers.

Bottom Line: Now Is the Time to Move

Navigating 2021’s one-of-a-kind real estate market may seem like a daunting task, but the right agent will help you through every step of the process. Today’s buyers can capitalize on shockingly low interest rates, while sellers stand to make an impressive profit should they decide to list soon. And if you ever have any questions, we’re always here to help!

Buying or Selling Soon? Let’s Talk!

Don’t let the market keep you from making a move. If you’re ready to achieve real estate success in no time at all, drop us a line to get started. We’d love to offer you one-on-one buying or selling advice that’s tailored to your unique needs.

Exposing the 4 Factors Agents Use to Price Your Home Right

Key Takeaways:

  • Before you list your home, it’s crucial to understand how much a buyer would be willing to pay for it.
  • Your agent will use a variety of factors to determine a competitive list price—and some of them might be a little unexpected.
  • If you’re looking for a fast and accurate way to price your home, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a complimentary estimate!

4 Surprising Factors That Go Into Pricing a Home

Pricing your home to sell quickly—even in today’s hot real estate market—is all about balance. You want to price low enough to attract potential buyers, but high enough to profit from your equity. And while it may be tempting to use automatic estimators, it’s best to leave the number-crunching to your agent.

Need help determining the perfect price? Here are a few factors your agent will take into consideration when valuing your home.

Your home’s size and condition

House with coin stacks

This may seem like a given, but a home’s size, condition, and features play a huge role in how much it’s worth. Before you list, your agent will perform a walkthrough of your home to thoroughly evaluate its saleability. If your space is move-in ready and well-maintained, you’ll have more luck setting a higher asking price.

Many sellers are under the impression that big-ticket upgrades will drastically increase their home’s value, but this isn’t always the case. Before you make a significant change, ask your agent for their professional opinion. Believe it or not, smaller touches (like updating hardware or repainting) can have a better return on investment than a full-scale renovation.

Location

Map with pin

Real estate is all about location, and there are a few general factors that tend to boost property values. Typically, agents will price a home based on local schools, nearby employment opportunities, and proximity to amenities. Houses in more desirable neighborhoods or communities also tend to command a higher list price.

Above all, most buyers are looking for homes that offer the perfect blend of privacy and convenience. Being close to (but not right next to!) highways or public transportation is another huge plus.

Other recently sold homes

Sold home sign

One of the best indicators of your home’s value is the sale price of other listings in your neighborhood. Your real estate agent should conduct a comparative market analysis—abbreviated as CMA—to see how your home stacks up against the competition. By looking at recently sold homes that are similar to yours, they can calculate a fair and accurate price.

After your agent has assessed your home, they’ll likely send you a CMA report that contains their projected price, along with data from other comparable homes. A great agent will also be available to answer any questions, too!

Current market trends

Houses on a graph

Even if your home is in perfect condition, in the best location, and boasts quite a few upgrades, the current state of the market can have a huge impact on its overall value. And in today’s seller-driven market, homes are now worth more than ever before.

Just last year, home prices surged by 15%. To put those numbers into perspective, that’s a $45,000 increase for a $300,000 home. If you want to take advantage of these unbelievable conditions, now is the time to list—and we’d love to help!

Get Your Updated Home Value

Whether you’re just curious or are ready to sell, you can trust our team to calculate your home’s true market value. Request a free home valuation today, or reach out to us to learn more about 2021’s hot real estate market. There’s never been a better time to list!

Why You Shouldn’t Use Automatic Home Estimators to Price Your Home

Key Takeaways:

  • Automatic estimator tools are popular amongst homeowners and sellers, but they aren’t always the most reliable.
  • In some instances, these estimators can be off by thousands of dollars due to inaccurate data.
  • If you’re looking for a better way to determine your home’s market value, give us a call to get started!

Exposing the Inaccuracies of Automatic Home Estimators

If you own a home, you’ve probably wondered how much its value has increased since you first moved in. And while using an online estimator might seem convenient, you could end up with some pretty inaccurate numbers—and that’s bad news for sellers in today’s competitive market.

Want to make the most of your equity and find out how much your home is really worth? Here’s why working with a local real estate agent will always be better than trusting an “automatic” estimate.

Most estimators rely on user-reported data or algorithms

Home value on a laptop

Many homeowners believe that instant estimates are similar to a professional appraisal, but this simply isn’t the case. To generate a possible selling price, these real estate sites rely on potentially outdated algorithms that use property tax assessments, historic sold data, and user-reported information. Some estimators even use AI to scan photos of your home, which leaves ample room for error.

Estimators won’t take recent improvements into account

Couple renovating their kitchen

If you’ve made any larger improvements to your home, they may not get calculated into your instant estimate. Generally, most estimators will include any permitted work that’s noted on your latest tax assessment. But if you completed a project that didn’t require permits, it probably won’t influence the estimate.

For example, if you recently finished a kitchen renovation and didn’t have to take out a construction permit, an estimator could value your kitchen based on how it was before any upgrades. And if you rely on these incorrect numbers, you could shortchange your equity without even knowing it!  

Your estimate could be off by thousands of dollars

homes on coin stacks

Perhaps the biggest issue with automatic home estimators is their overall accuracy—or lack thereof. While most claim to be within 10% of a home’s real market value, that 10% could equal tens of thousands of dollars. When you look at the numbers, that’s a potential difference of $30,000 for a home worth $300,000!

Above all, it’s important to remember that these estimators will never substitute a professional valuation. If you’re really serious about selling your home or learning its value, it’s better to work with a local real estate agent instead—and take an estimator’s opinion with a grain of salt.

Bottom Line: Only Price Your Home with a Local Agent

Couple getting a home valuation from an agent

Want to know your home’s true value? Don’t trust a computer—start by consulting your local real estate agent! As area experts, we know how to calculate just how much your home could sell for in today’s competitive market. We can even take your renovations and recent sold data into account for an added level of accuracy.

Get Top Dollar for Your Home

Whether you’re thinking about selling your home or just want to know its value, you can trust us to help with all of your real estate needs. Contact us to request a complimentary home valuation, or just give us a call with any questions—we’d be happy to chat!

3 Reasons All Buyers and Sellers Should Use Listing Alerts

Key takeaways:

  • Listing alerts send new homes straight to your inbox as soon as they hit the MLS, and they’re the easiest way to keep up with the competitive market.
  • Listing alerts aren’t just useful for buyers—they can also help sellers stay up-to-date on other current and sold properties in their neighborhood.
  • Signing up for listing alerts only takes a minute, and you can always contact us to schedule a tour if you see a property you love!

Why Every Buyer and Seller Should Sign Up for Listing Alerts

Today’s real estate market is more fast-paced than ever—in fact, it’s not uncommon for a home to sell above asking price not long after it’s listed. So if you’re serious about buying, you need a to-the-minute resource to help you stay ahead of the competition.

This is where listing alerts come in handy. Just use our fully customizable filters to narrow down your search, and you’ll receive an email right when a home matching your criteria hits the market. And if you’re thinking about selling, you can also use listing alerts to scope out the competition in your neighborhood. 

Want to learn even more about the benefits of signing up for listing alerts? Here are three additional perks that every buyer and seller should know about.  

You’ll immediately see listings that match your criteria

Couple searching for a home online

Your home is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, which means it’s okay to be a little picky. Our listing alerts can be customized to your exact parameters, so you’ll know as soon as the right property becomes available. Take a look at our easy-to-use search tool to get started—we have filters for price, size, neighborhood, and even specific home features!  

You can create a portfolio of your favorite homes

Couple using a tablet to search for a home

When you sign up for our listing alerts, we’ll automatically create a personalized property organizer to help you keep track of all your favorite homes. Not only is this feature easy to use, it also allows you to save the listings you want to see in-person. You can even use your property organizer to schedule a showing, take a virtual tour from the comfort of your couch, or get in touch with a local agent for more information.

Sellers can keep up with sold listings, too

Recently sold home

If you’re like most buyers, you probably have an existing home you need to sell before you make a move. That’s why we designed our listing alerts to work with both active and sold homes. All you have to do is set your desired criteria, and we’ll send over listings right when they go under contract.

Wondering how listing alerts benefit you as a seller? By scoping out sold homes in your neighborhood, you’ll get a better idea of how fast and how much your home could sell for—you might even pick up some staging tips along the way, too. As if that isn’t enough, you can also browse other current listings to get a better idea of your competition!

Get the Latest Homes Sent Straight to Your Inbox!

Ready to sign up for listing alerts? We’re here to help! Contact us today to set up your first alert—we’d be happy to guide you through the process if you have any questions. And if you’re thinking about buying or selling soon, drop us a line for even more helpful information. We’re always here to lend our expertise.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Zillow to Search for a Home

Key takeaways:

  • For years, Zillow has been one of the most popular real estate sites for buyers, sellers, and daydreamers—but it might not be the most reliable option for serious house hunters.
  • If you want to shop the hottest deals and see homes before they hit the market, it’s better to work with a local agent.
  • Need help finding the perfect home? Reach out to us today to get a head start on your search!

Why Zillow Isn’t the Best Option for Serious Homebuyers

We’ve all probably spent more time than we care to admit scrolling through listings on Zillow. While this popular real estate website might be good for daydreaming, it’s not always the best resource for buyers who are searching seriously for a home. In fact, according to a report by the Washington Post, some of Zillow’s “listings” aren’t actually on the market at all, and they could potentially contain inaccurate information.

Looking to stay ahead of the competition in today’s fast-paced market? Here’s why you should work with a local agent instead…and maybe even avoid Zillow altogether.

Zillow doesn’t always list Coming Soon or Pre-MLS homes

Coming soon home

Did you know that some homes are sold before they officially go on the market? If you’ve ever searched for listings online, you’ve likely seen at least a few properties labeled “Coming Soon.” This means they aren’t available for showings, but you can still make an offer and purchase them sight unseen. Sellers can take things a step further by advertising their home as “Pre-MLS,” which means the house might not even make it online before going under contract.

Because these types of homes don’t usually stay on the market for long, there’s a good chance they won’t be on Zillow. And if they are, they could already be sold by the time you see them! If you want to see homes before everybody else, your best bet is to ask your agent—they’ll be able to show you local listings that you can’t always find on national real estate sites.  

Zillow’s information is often inaccurate

Searching for a home on a tablet

One of Zillow’s biggest (and most infamous) claims to fame is the “Zestimate”—an algorithm-based guess of a home’s potential selling price. While the company asserts that most Zestimates fall within 10% of a home’s actual market value, that 10% can be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Some buyers use Zestimates to determine how much they should offer for a home, but this isn’t a surefire way to score a great deal. Because Zillow relies on government records and user-reported data, their Zestimates aren’t always as accurate as you might expect.

For example, if a property has undergone recent renovations or has incorrect property tax records, Zillow could price it higher or lower than what it’s really worth. Although Zestimates sometimes take into account a home’s condition, location, or other unique features, the evaluation process is entirely automated—and that could lead to even more inaccuracies.

If you ever have any questions about how much a home is worth, your agent will be able to offer more personalized (and reliable!) advice.

Real estate agents have better local connections

Real estate agent helping a couple

Countless home buyers start their search on Zillow simply because it’s one of the biggest real estate websites out there. While Zillow does have a broad reach, it lacks the personal touch and local expertise you get from working with a real estate agent in your area. 

Real estate agents know the market better than anyone else, which means they can help you gauge whether or not a listing is priced fairly. In fact, many agents offer customized search tools that can give you a better perspective on homes for sale in your target area. And if you team up with a well-connected agent, they might even be aware of off-market properties you won’t see on Zillow. 

Only Buy with the Best

Real estate has and always will be a hyper-local industry. So if you’re thinking about buying a home soon, we’d love to offer you a better experience than you’ll have on Zillow. Take a look at our handy search tool to start browsing the latest listings, and let us know if anything catches your eye. You can even sign up for customized listing alerts to get properties sent straight to your inbox!

Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until Spring to Sell Your Home

Key Takeaways:

  • After a turbulent 2020, many homeowners are holding out until spring to list their properties.
  • Though spring is usually the busiest season for real estate, now is the time to take advantage of high prices, low interest rates, and skyrocketing demand for homes.
  • Not sure when to list? Get in touch with us today to explore your options!

Here’s Why Sellers Should Capitalize on 2021’s Hot Winter Housing Market

It’s safe to say that 2020 was a challenging year, both in real estate and for the world as a whole. And as we celebrate new beginnings, many homeowners are pondering a move at some point during 2021. Traditionally, spring is considered the best time of year to sell a home—but thanks to a number of factors, this is no longer the case.

Still not sure if now is the right time to move? Here’s why you shouldn’t wait any longer to put your home on the market.

You won’t have much competition

Modern for sale sign

If you haven’t seen as many “For Sale” signs in your neighborhood recently, you’re not alone. According to the National Association of Realtors, available inventory has plummeted by nearly 40% over the last few months, which is fantastic news for today’s sellers. 

Dwindling supply and high buyer demand will put your home in the spotlight if you decide to list this winter, and it means you’ll be in the driver’s seat during negotiations. Because there are fewer homes on the market right now, you also won’t have to compete with other sellers waiting to move in the spring. 

Interest rates are still low

House with coin stacks and percentages

Interest rates reached record lows in 2020, which tempted many buyers to enter the market even amidst a pandemic. In November, rates actually dipped below 2.3%—that’s the lowest they’ve been in recorded history!

Most experts believe interest rates won’t spike during 2021, but we’ll probably see some slight increases as the economy continues to bounce back. Listing your home before rates go up comes with a lot of benefits, and it might even be the smartest financial decision you ever make.

Low interest rates help drive buyer demand and make homeownership more affordable. As a seller, that means you’ll draw in a larger audience of financially-qualified buyers and maybe even sell faster than you expect. If you plan on buying another home, you’ll be able to secure a great rate, too.

Home prices keep rising

Calculating home prices

If you’ve lived in your current home for more than a few years, now could be the perfect time to sell and cash in on your equity. In a recent study, the National Association of Realtors found that home prices have increased by a whopping 13.4% since 2019. In 2021, prices are expected to increase by 8%—and in 2022, that projection drops to just 5%.

While it may be tempting to “time” your sale to get the best possible price, selling your home when you know the market is doing well is a surefire way to yield an impressive profit. And if you’re ever curious about how much your home is worth right now, you can always ask your agent for a free home valuation.

The market could change before spring

Aerial shot of a suburban neighborhood

As the market continues to recover, it’s still hard to know what will happen in 2021—after all, nobody predicted last year’s pandemic and economic collapse! Most experts aren’t expecting another sudden crash, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until spring to list your home.  

Right now, we’re seeing a record amount of home sales, as well as a surprising number of motivated winter buyers. So if you want to be smart about your move, it makes sense to sell sooner rather than later.

Get the Most Out of Your Home Sale

If you’re thinking about selling your home this winter, contact us today to get started. We have plenty of resources to guide you through every step of the process, and we can even help you buy your next home after you sell.

Want to know how much home prices have risen in your neighborhood? Be sure to ask about our complimentary home value assessment!

4 Bright Ideas for Staging Your Home with Lighting

Key Points:

  • When it comes to selling your home, staging is the easiest way to make a great first impression both online and during an in-person tour.
  • Focusing on the smaller touches can really impress buyers—and lighting is an important detail you should never overlook.
  • Looking for more easy tips to transform your home and get top dollar in no time? Drop us a line for even more staging advice!

Staging Before You Sell? Don’t Overlook Your Home’s Lighting!

You’ve probably heard that staging is an essential step to drawing in buyers. Most real estate agents will tell you to stick with neutral decor and depersonalize as much as possible before your home hits the market. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a few subtler changes, too.

Looking for an easy way to accentuate your home’s best features? Try framing them in the right light—literally. Bright, ample lighting will give your space a glow buyers will love, and it can even make your house seem larger and more open. Here are some easy ways to ensure your home is perfectly lit before your next showing.

Choose the right bulbs

Screwing in a light bulb

The quickest way to boost your home’s brightness is to swap out low wattage incandescents in favor of LED (light-emitting diode) or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. They’re slightly more expensive, but the payoff is worth it—your rooms will feel much more spacious, and they can last for up to 50,000 hours.  

Nowadays, LEDs and CFLs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. If you’re looking to add a warm glow or make a room feel cozy, try going for a soft white bulb. Cooler bulbs create an energizing atmosphere better suited for task lighting, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Swap out old fixtures

Pendant lights in a kitchen

Take a look at the light fixtures throughout your home—are they looking a little dated? You may not mind that old ceiling fan light or tarnished wall sconce, but buyers will likely notice them. While you don’t have to replace every fixture in the house, updating the ones in your main living areas will make your space appear more on-trend.

You want to keep your lighting neutral, and incorporate matching finishes wherever possible. If you’re not sure where to start, consider replacing your kitchen lights with stylish pendants. Swapping out an old chandelier for a lantern or orb-style fixture can breathe new life into your dining room. And when it comes to the bathroom, try to choose sconces with clean, simple lines.

Layer your lighting

Grey living room with lamps

Layering your lighting is just like arranging furniture; if done correctly, it can enhance the size and feel of an entire space. You should aim for three different types of lighting in each room: ambient (overhead), task (reading or desk lights), and accent (table or floor lamps). This forms a cohesive level of light throughout your home.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your lights. You can add both form and function with some under-counter lighting or by installing a dimmer switch on an overhead fixture for more customization. The possibilities really are endless—if you’re in need of some ideas, just ask your agent! 

Amp up the natural light

Window with natural light

Today’s buyers want homes filled with natural light. So if you have a room that gets a lot of sun, throw back the drapes and open the blinds before a showing.

Looking for additional ways to create a sun-bathed glow? Think about painting your walls in lighter colors—like white, grey, or beige—or using a higher gloss finish. You can also accessorize with mirrors or shiny decor to reflect light throughout a space.  

Looking for More Home Staging Tips?

Staging your home doesn’t have to be hard when you have the help of a top-rated agent! Contact us today for even more exclusive selling tips—we’d love to get your property market-ready and maximize your potential profits. And if it’s been a while since you checked up on your home’s current value, feel free to ask us for a complimentary equity assessment.

Mortgages Made Easy: How to Choose the Right Home Loan

Key Takeaways:

  • As mortgage rates continue hovering near historic lows, many potential buyers are eager to make a move—but it can be hard to know which type of loan is best.
  • There are dozens of different mortgage options available today, and some even have low down payment or credit score requirements. This can help a variety of buyers finally achieve their real estate goals. 
  • Need help finding a lender or choosing the right mortgage for your needs? We’d be more than happy to offer a few recommendations.

Home Financing 101: The Most Common Types of Mortgages

Let’s face it—understanding mortgages can be the most complicated part of buying a home. Even experienced buyers sometimes have trouble deciding between lenders or shopping around for the best interest rate. And because there are so many options, it can be difficult to track down the mortgage that best meets your needs.

There are a variety of factors you should consider before committing to a loan, such as your income, debt, financial history, and how long you plan on staying in your new home. But if you play your cards right, you could end up scoring a great deal. Here are some of the most popular types of mortgages, as well as their pros and cons.

Fixed-rate mortgage

Mortgage scrabble tiles

A fixed-rate mortgage is the most basic and reliable type of home loan you can get. Your interest rate and monthly payment will stay the same for the entire duration of the mortgage, and you’ll likely have to put at least 20% down and have an established financial history to get approved.

Typically, fixed-rate mortgages are broken down into 15- or 30-year terms. If you want predictability and don’t plan on moving for a while, this is probably the best option for you.

Adjustable-rate mortgage

house, coin stacks, and clock

Unlike their fixed-rate counterparts, adjustable-rate mortgages offer the initial benefit of a lower rate and down payment. However, ARMs fluctuate with the market, which means your interest rate and monthly payments could increase or decrease over time.

While there is more risk involved with an adjustable-rate mortgage, it can be worth it if you plan on living in your home for a shorter period of time. Generally, ARMs have a capped introductory interest rate for the first few years, which can save you quite a bit of money compared to a fixed-rate loan.

VA loans

Member of the military

If you or your spouse are an active, retired, or veteran member of the military, you could be eligible for a VA loan. Backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, this unique type of mortgage lets you buy a home with little to no down payment or mortgage insurance.

Because VA loans are guaranteed (but not financed) by the government, they do have stricter requirements than other mortgages. The loan can only be used towards a primary residence, and the house you intend to buy has to meet minimum property requirements. This means you’ll have to undergo additional inspections and appraisals. 

FHA loans

Couple moving in

Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA loan is designed for first-time or lower-income buyers. While most mortgages typically require a down payment of 20% or more, the FHA loan allows buyers to put down as little as 3.5%; that equals out to around $9,000 for a $250,000 house.

FHA loans come with a fixed interest rate and can offer a path to homeownership for buyers who don’t have enough saved for a traditional loan. However, you will be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) every month, which typically costs around 1% of your total loan amount. It’s also important to remember that the government does not issue your loan—you’ll still have to shop around for the right FHA-approved lender.

USDA loans

Farmland

The USDA loan is a government-sponsored mortgage program that targets buyers in more rural areas. While the USDA does have stricter credit and income requirements than the FHA, they’ll fund up to 100% of the purchase price for an eligible home. That means you won’t have to put any money down, and you may even enjoy a lower-than-average interest rate. 

Additionally, USDA loans require mortgage insurance, and you won’t be approved if your debt-to-income ratio exceeds 41%. Before applying, you should also check the USDA’s eligibility map to see if your area qualifies for the program. 

Other loans

House on a calculator

This is hardly an exhaustive list of all the mortgages used by today’s home buyers! Depending on your financial situation, you could qualify for a more niche loan, such as a balloon mortgage, bridge loan, or jumbo loan. Many banks, lenders, and state governments also have their own programs or incentives that are worth exploring. You can even combine different types of loans to create a financing plan that’s tailored to your needs.

If you don’t have time to research all of your options, it might be beneficial to work with a mortgage broker or ask your agent for recommendations. They’ll have the knowledge to guide you in the right direction!

Want to Learn More About Mortgages?

If you’re in the market for a new home, we’d love to discuss your financing options or recommend some top-rated lenders. Contact us today to learn the ins and outs of the home buying process, from finding a loan to finally getting the keys to your new place. We look forward to helping you start your next chapter!