Things to Consider Before Buying A Home

For many people, buying a home may be the biggest purchase they will make in their lifetime, and the right time to buy is different for everyone.  Before making the decision to buy a home, consider the following questions:

How do lenders determine who qualifies for a mortgage?

Lenders take many things into consideration: credit score, the cash you have available for a down payment and closing costs, your income, and your existing debt and financial obligations are just a few.  Two housing ratios are used:

  • The housing expense-to-income ratio compares your anticipated monthly mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance), to the total gross monthly income (pre-tax) for your household.
  • The debt-to-income ratio compares total monthly expense, including the anticipated monthly mortgage payment to the total gross (pre-tax) monthly income for your household.

How do I know how much money I can borrow to buy a home?

Your mortgage consultant will help you get a preliminary approval that lets you know the maximum loan amount you might be able to borrow.1  With that information in hand, you can then determine a price range with which you are comfortable.

What is a credit score?

The three credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — serve as a clearinghouse for credit information.  “Credit score” is a term often used to refer to credit bureau risk scores. It broadly refers to a number generated by a statistical model which is used to objectively evaluate information that pertains to making a credit decision (i.e. credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc) that includes:

  • Your payment history
  • The total amount you owe
  • The amount of time you’ve had available credit
  • Whether you have any judgments entered against you
  • Whether you filed bankruptcy
  • The number of times potential lenders have reviewed your credit

Information in the agencies’ reports is evaluated and interpreted into a “credit score,” which help lenders make loan decisions. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and yours may determine whether you are approved for a loan, the terms of the loan, and the interest rate.

Note: Making large purchases with a consumer loan or credit card just before applying for a mortgage may impact your ability to qualify. So consider your needs and priorities carefully.

If you still have questions about the home buying process, don’t worry.  We are committed to providing information that will help you make well-informed decisions about the financing process.  Our mortgage consultants will pay attention to your goals, help you understand your options, and clearly explain how different loan programs work.  So, you can take an informed, hands-on approach to achieving your goal of owning a home.

Contact your local mortgage consultant for today!

 

 

 

 

1. A preliminary approval is based on our preliminary review of credit information only and is not a commitment to lend. We will be able to offer a loan commitment upon verification of application information, satisfying all underwriting requirements and conditions, and providing an acceptable property, appraisal, and title report. Preliminary approvals are subject to change or cancellation if a requested loan no longer meets applicable regulatory requirements. Preliminary approvals are not available on all products. See a mortgage consultant for details.

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Aging in Place & Bathroom Remodeling

Bathroom Remodeling Tips for Aging in Place

Even though baby boomers are aging, they’re still setting trends. Case in point, the aging-in-place movement. Opting for remaining in the homes they’ve lived in for decades as opposed to heading to warm-weather retirement communities, a growing contingent of older homeowners are staying put.

Aging in place, however, means adapting your home to make living easier and safer as we get older. And the bathroom is a smart place to start. New Jersey-based Gold Medal Service, a heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company, recommends the following bathroom remodeling tips that will accommodate limited mobility or physical impairments.

Remodel the bathroom on the main floor. If you have a house with multiple levels, focus on the first-floor bathroom, which is hopefully adjacent to a first-floor bedroom. This will allow aging homeowners to avoid stairs altogether.

Provide extra space in the bathroom. Make sure there’s enough room in the bathroom to move a wheelchair around, should one be needed down the road. Have doorways set to at least 32 inches wide, and ensure that there’s enough space to position a wheelchair next to the toilet, bath or shower, to enable a safe and easy transfer.

Stick with non-slip floors. Non-slip tiles are a must to prevent slipping and tripping on the bathroom floor. Loose rugs can be hazardous, so stick with non-slip materials.

Make tubs and showers more accessible. Older bathtubs can easily be replaced with a walk-in bathtub. Consider having a seating area in the shower so an individual doesn’t have to remain standing the entire time while showering. And be sure tub and shower surfaces are non-slip.

Add grab bars. Using towel rails as grab bars is a major safety risk as they will not support a person. Instead, install grab bars following manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Place them next to the bath, shower and toilet.

Mind the lighting. Make sure you have ample lighting in the bathroom with a minimal amount of glare.

Have an elevated toilet seat. Standing up from a low-set toilet can be difficult as we get older.

Consider extra accessories. Properly locating things like soap dishes, shaving stands and shower caddies will make using the bathroom more convenient and safer.

Use low-maintenance materials. When you remodel your bathroom, consider using modern materials that are easy to clean, mildew-resistant, and have a lifetime guarantee.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

Source: Gold Medal Service

‘Hot Spots’ in your Home = positive or negative emotions

Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Home’s ‘Hot Spots’

We all know there’s no place like home, but did you know that certain rooms in your home are responsible for the majority of your home’s…well, homeyness? A recent study examined the connection we have to certain rooms in our home and how the design of these hubs—or hot spots—have a direct correlation to our emotions.

A “hot spot” is a room or space associated with positive emotions and memories. The most beloved rooms are designed to accommodate a balance of functionality, relaxation, and socialization. When designed right—by overlapping key room dynamics—a hot spot can increase your overall satisfaction with your home. The Hot Spots Research Study, commissioned by fireplace and grill manufacturer Napoleon, uncovered findings that can help homeowners create a more comfortable and welcoming home.

In the study, rooms qualified as a hot spot when at least 50 percent of respondents checked at least two of the following emotional categories to describe that room: welcoming/social, cozy/warm, relaxed/peaceful, or fun/enjoyable. The more the emotional categories overlapped—the hotter the hot spot.

The top hot spots turned out to be the living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the living room ranking at more than 60 percent in all four categories. Focusing on design in these three rooms will enhance their appeal even more for both you and your family, and potential buyers when you list your home for sale. Enhancing design in these areas can be as simple as rearranging the furniture, incorporating different patterns and textures, adding seating that’s more conducive to socializing, and playing with lighting to add more warmth.

The study also found that hot spots other than the top three can be created by adding amenities associated with positive emotions. For example, think about adding gathering spots, access to the outdoors with a balcony or French doors, smart home features or fireplaces to other rooms in your house to dial up their emotional appeal.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Napoleon Fireplaces

Buying vs Renting: which is better for YOU?

Study: Buying Is Still Better Than Renting in Most States

RISMEDIA, Tuesday, August 08, 2017— Affordability challenges are weighing on the housing market, as many home buyers and sellers contend with either being unable to compete or to find a new home within reach.

Buying a home, however, is still better than renting one in most states—35, to be exact, according to a recent study by GOBankingRates.

Analysts for GOBankingRates factored in recent median monthly home price and rent data by state, as well as mortgage rates—gathered by Zillow—to determine levels of affordability. The study assumed a 20 percent down payment on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, and took into account homeowners insurance costs and property taxes.

Buying is significantly more affordable than renting in Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and New York, the study reveals, with New Jersey residents saving $566 a month by owning—the highest yield of all states.

In six states, the gap between buying and renting is so slim that neither is substantially more affordable than the other, the study shows: Alabama, California, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

The 35 states where buying is more affordable than renting are (in alphabetical order): Alaska; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; West Virginia; and Wisconsin.

View owning and renting costs by state.

Source: GOBankingRates

Quick Ways to Make Some Shade, But Don’t Forget: Trees Are the Best

Shade Trees.

National Asssn of Realtors/HouseLogic  By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: May 24, 2011

If you prefer a drier cool, as opposed to the misters we mentioned yesterday, read on to find some quick ways to make some shade. Plus, get some tips on getting shade with some quick-growing trees.

For immediate relief: Umbrellas, awnings, and quick-assembly patio tents are quick, although sometimes costly, methods of creating shade instantly.

The ubiquitous patio umbrella—found even in grocery stores for $30—can either stand alone upright or offset, or slip into a hole in your patio table.

Choose an umbrella that tilts, so you can block the sun at any angle. Or get one that’s fabulous, like Frontgate’s Rimbou Lotus Shade, which looks like a giant palm frond. (Cost: $1,795.)

Retractable awnings, a permanent feature of older southern homes, are traditional shade makers for outdoor areas up to 12 feet from your house. Motorized awnings take the fuss out of opening and closing. Depending on size and what kind of bells and whistles they come with, awnings typically cost from $400 to $3,000.

Portable awnings are my favorite, because they make shade wherever, not just areas close to the house. SunSetter’s Large Oasis Freestanding Awning, measuring 16 ft. by 10 ft., can provide 160 sq. ft. of shade. (Cost: $1,549 manual; $2,099 motorized.)

A cloth gazebo (aka patio tent or canopy) is another option that’s great for entertaining. You can go simple and inexpensive ($50 for Target’s Outdoor Patio Pariesienne Gazebo Canopy, though online reviews indicate you get what you pay for). Or you can step it up with the Garden Oasis Lighted Gazebo, complete with lights and netting for $700 at Sears.

Long-Term Re-Leaf

Growing shade trees is the greenest — and slowest — way to block the sun on patios and decks. There’s nothing as cool as sitting under the shade of an old oak tree.

If you can’t wait 20 years for a little shade, plant a quick-growing variety which, in tree language, means it grows a couple of feet or more each year. You can rush the process by paying more and buying big trees, and you’ll see a return on your investment. Here are some species to consider.

  • American Elm: (Zones 2-9) Grows rapidly up to 100 feet tall and 120 feet wide. Adapts to varied climates and soil conditions.
  • October Glory Red Maple: (Zones 4-9) Provides a 35-foot spread and grows to 40 feet high.
  • Sawtooth Oak: (Zones 4-9) Dark green summer foliage turns yellow to brown in fall. Wildlife will love its acorns.
  • Chinese Pistache: (Zones 6-9) Wonderful wide canopy and grows in all but the coldest zones.
  • Natchez Crape Myrtle: (Zones 7-10) Lots of long-blooming white flowers and cinnamon-colored bark.

5 Things That REALLY Will Put a Serious Dent in Your Energy Bills

National Assn of Realtors

By: Christina Hoffmann

Published: August 17, 2016

Stop sending so much money to your utility company with these simple strategies.

Your Mexican beach vacation was great, but, man, those margaritas sure can put on the pounds. It’s been two months, and you’re still carrying around an extra tenner — despite a new running routine and a lot of #&*&@$ kale. So why isn’t your weight dropping?

It’s like that with energy bills, too.  Eighty-nine percent of us believe we’re doing the right things to lower energy costs, and almost half of us think our homes already are energy efficient. Yet, 59% of us say our bills are going up, not down, despite our efforts to economize.

Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy efficiency and that did this research, says we’re rationalizing: “I bought these [LEDs] so now I can leave the lights on and not pay more. I ate the salad, so I can have the chocolate cake.” Denial much?

Her research also shows consumers, on average, made fewer than three energy-efficient improvements in 2012 compared with almost five in 2010. It looks like we’re giving in to higher utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You just need to know what improvements really will make the biggest difference to lower your bills. There are five, and the good news is that they’re really (seriously) cheap. You can go straight to them here, but there’s also another thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime — and will drop your costs:

Be Mindful About Your Relationship With Energy

Think about it. Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later, says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a research and policy-making nonprofit focused on improving buildings’ energy efficiency.

With other services you get a choice of whether to buy based on price. With energy you don’t get that choice — unless you intentionally decide not to buy. You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.

Related: Did You Know You Should Never Leave a Ceiling Fan on When You Leave a Room? 

That mindfulness is important because your relationship with energy is getting more intense. You (and practically every other person on the planet) are plugging in more and more. Used to be that heating and cooling were the biggest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that dubious honor, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the research arm of the Department of Energy (DOE).

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Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts:

1. Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code. Don’t bank on it. Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements, says Lee Ann Head, vice president of research and insights with the Shelton Group.

2. Utilities are out to get us: They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do. It might feel cathartic to blame them (Shelton’s research shows consumers blame utilities above oil companies and the government), but to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.

3. Energy improvements should pay for themselves. Nice wish, but it doesn’t work that way. When the Shelton Group asked consumers what they would expect to recoup if they invested $4,000 in energy-efficient home improvements, they said about 75% to 80%.

Unless you invest in some kind of renewable energy source like geothermal and solar, you won’t see that kind of savings. (Sorry.) Even if you do all the right things, the most you should expect is a 20% to 30% reduction annually, says Head, which is still significant over the long term.

What does 30% translate into? $618 in savings per year or $52 per month, based on the average household energy spend of $2,060 per year, according to Lawrence Berkeley and EIA.

4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact. That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects like replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements, Shelton says.

There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows. They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and, yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft).

But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs. You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill, according to EnergyStar. (The savings are higher if you replace single-pane windows.)  Or you could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill, or $227.

The 5 Things That Really Work to Cut Energy Costs

1. Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:

  • Plumbing lines
  • Electric wires
  • Recessed lighting
  • Windows
  • Crawlspaces
  • Attics

Savings: Up to $227 a year — even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.

Related: Lots of Homes Also Have This HUGE Air Leak 

2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give your HVAC a tune-up. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster.

Savings: Up to $412 a year.

3. Program your thermostat. Shelton says 40% of consumers in her survey admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings. She thinks it’s even higher.

Savings: Up to $180 a year.

4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs. They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective.

Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-rated models.

Related: LED Bulbs Are Confusing, But Here’s a Guide to Help

5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set your tank heater to 120 degrees — not the 140 degrees most are set to out of the box. Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.

Savings: $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.

NOTE: Resist the urge to total these five numbers for annual savings. The estimated savings for each product or activity can’t be summed because of “interactive effects,” says DOE. If you first replace your central AC with a more efficient one, saving, say, 15% on energy consumption, and then seal ducts, you wouldn’t save as much total energy on duct sealing as you would have if you had first sealed them. There’s just less energy to save at that point.

Bonus Tip for More Savings

Your utility may have funds available to help pay for energy improvement. Contact them directly, or visit DSIRE, a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state. Energy Star has a discount and rebate finder, too.

Understanding Closing Costs — Avoid Surprises at the Settlement Table

Understanding Closing Costs

By Michael Maddiex, President, Long & Foster Settlement Services.

Before buying or selling a home, it is important to know and understand all of the costs that are required at closing. Many settlement companies have gone to a flat fee for all purchase and refinance clients. This fee varies per company and geographical location, but here is an idea of the key services it may include.

Document Processing: The settlement company coordinates all elements of the transaction from the receipt of sales contract to closing. During this process, they order a title exam, resolve any title issues, coordinate the seller payoff, prepare the title commitment, schedule the closing with the lender, prepare the deed with a local attorney, obtain lender’s documents and prepare the final Closing Disclosure (if applicable) and ALTA Settlement Statement.

Title Exam: A detailed search or abstract of the local title records is conducted to determine the “chain of title” and recorded liens, which are examined and reviewed to determine insurability. During the title exam, a settlement company helps resolve any issues or inconsistencies before the property can be sold.

Title Binder: While this document is not the title insurance policy, it is an issued commitment to provide future title insurance on the property you are purchasing. It states the coverage that is going to be provided, and it lists any exceptions and requirements to be met prior to issuing a title policy.

While title insurance is not included in the closing costs, it is an essential piece of the settlement process. You can learn more about protecting yourself and your home here.

Closing: The attorney or licensed settlement agent conducts the closing for the buyer and seller. During closing, they explain all the documents and answer any questions you may have. They also notarize all signatures – a requirement, ensuring all settlement documents are valid.

Mailing: All documents, including the deed and the deed of trust executed at settlement, are mailed to the county courthouse for filing with the land records, and executed mortgage documents have to be sent back to the lender.

Document Archiving: Many settlement companies archive the transaction documents by electronically warehousing them.

If you have questions about closing costs, feel free to contact one of our title partners.

 

6 Tips for Planning Your Summer Vacation

 

By Joe Amatangelo, President, Long & Foster Property Management.

summer vacation

The official start to summer is here. If you haven’t booked your vacation getaway yet, here’s some advice to consider before doing so.

Choose your ideal vacation destination:Whether you want to travel to the shore, the beach or a popular lake, there are numerous places to vacation throughout the United States. Once you’ve selected where you’d like to have your vacation,start your search online for a property. While it’s best to book your vacation early—often a year in advance, there are places to rent last minute.

Read about the property’s amenities:Once you’ve found a property that you’d like to rent, research its amenities. Are linens and towels provided? Does the property have waterfront access, a boat dock or other desired amenities? Vacation rental companies like Long & Foster Vacation Rentals will include details information on each rental property on their websites, so you know what you’ll have access to when you rent the property. If you’re shopping late in the season, be flexible and open to different options—many times a property is a good fit, even if it doesn’t check off all items on your “wish list.”

 Review the lodging agreement: Read the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including your check-in and checkout dates and times, to prevent any surprises later.

Know the deposit deadlines: Typically, your rental deposit is due 30 days prior to the start date of your reservation, but this deadline can vary, so ask about the policies of the rental company with which you’re working.

Watch for cancellations: If your schedule is flexible, ask to be added to a wait list for a specific property. That way if someone has to cancel at the last minute, you might be able to book that dream home you wanted to visit.

Take a mini-vacation: Consider booking your vacation over a long weekend. While your top property might not be available for a full week, it could have availability for a shorter getaway.  

If you haven’t booked your summer vacation yet, now’s the time to do so. Most properties are going fast, but you can still find great destinations if you reserve your trip soon.

In addition, you might consider booking off-season. The crowds are gone, the weather can be awesome and the rental rates lower. You can see what Long & Foster Vacation Rentals has to offer for the peak (and off-peak) seasons here.

5 Key Steps to Protect Your Smart Home

By Mikkie Mills

Smart homes open the doors to new technological potential, but they can also open the virtual door to intruders and hackers. As smart home technology grows, so do the risks of being hacked, which can stop some customers from adopting these amazing technologies for their homes. However, protection can make a home incredibly safe from hackers. Here are five ways to keep your smart home safe.

Use Strong Passwords
We’ve all heard it countless times, but having a strong password really is the first step against hackers and is enough to keep the majority of hackers out of your devices. However, many people prioritize creating passwords that are easy to remember (or that don’t change) over their home’s security. The best passwords are a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. As a rule of thumb, change your passwords every time you add a new device to the network, or at least every few months. There are also reliable password management systems that can keep passwords rotating and safe for all your devices.

Be Selective With Smart Home Devices
The growth of smart home technology means that not every product is created equally. Before bringing something into your home that could put your privacy and safety at risk, be sure to do your research. In general, use products from brands you are familiar with—bigger brands typically have more updates and better customer service just in case hacking does occur. You’ll also want to get feedback from other people who have used the devices by reading reviews from experts and customers online. If you are unsure about a device’s safety, talk to a cybersecurity or smart home professional.

Update Apps and Firmware
Most people generally remember to update their smartphone apps, but updating the apps and firmware in smart devices around the house can be a different story. Just like mobile apps, smart devices are constantly being updated and often come out with updates to increase performance, remove bugs, or improve safety. Using an old version of a device’s firmware makes it easier for hackers to attack because the firmware is vulnerable and not running at its full potential. Firmware and app updates are a great way to stay one step ahead of hackers and can be incredibly powerful—a 2016 update by Apple helped prevent computers and iPhones from being accessed by hackers to use as spy devices. In many cases, you’ll have to seek out updates by going into the app for each smart device. Making this a part of your regular home maintenance schedule and checking for updates once a month helps keep devices up to date and continually improves their safety measures.

Watch the WiFi Network
Putting smart home devices on a public wireless internet network makes them much easier to hack and makes them more visible to hackers. Instead, opt for a private home network that has a strong password and network protection. To be even safer, security experts recommend putting your smart home devices on a separate wireless network from your home computer, which greatly reduces the risk of hacking across devices. Essentially, if hackers somehow get into devices on one network, they will still have to work hard to get into the other devices.

Turn Off Unused Devices
It can be tempting to always leave every device plugged in and turned on, but doing that just gives hackers more opportunities to find a way in. Even though it can seem like a hassle, powering down your home router and computer server when they aren’t in use at night can keep your home network much more secure. Some smart home devices like thermostats and refrigerators will most likely always be plugged in, but devices used less often like TVs or wireless printers can serve as more access points for hackers if they are plugged in but not in use. You’ll save energy and keep your home safer by turning them off or unplugging them—a win-win situation.

Smart home devices are powerful tools, but they must be used carefully and safely to keep digital intruders out of your home.

Copyright© 2017 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission.

Preparing Your Home for Sale – To Get It Sold Quickly

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: February 10, 2010

Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.

Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house — and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.

1.  Have a Home Inspection

Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.

2.  Get Replacement Estimates

If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.

3.  Make Minor Repairs

Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems — sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets — as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.

4.  Clear the Clutter

Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.

5.  Do a Thorough Cleaning

A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.

If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.

Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.

Related:

  • 7 Tips for Staging Your Home
  • How to Keep Things Cleaner Longer

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has found happiness in a Chicago brownstone with the best curb appeal on the block. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

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