Karen Lawley's Blog
What makes you happy? Do you love to sit and read? Or are you more of a hang-out-with-friends kind of homeowner? Regardless of what moves you, there's a way to create space for it in your own backyard. Even better -- you can increase your home's resale value in the process. Use these tips to inspire you:
Plant a Perennial Garden
Perennial gardens are low-maintenance, especially if you use plants such as purple coneflower or coreopsis that began life as hardy, native wildflowers. Plant once, and you'll enjoy blooms for years to come. And if you plant according to bloom-times, you can have flowers right up to frost. This option will scent the air beautifully, too. It may even help repel flies and mosquitos. The prettiest gardens combine plants with other features, such mulched walkways or small ponds filled with hardy goldfish, paradise fish or white cloud mountain minnows.
Add a Hardscape
Hardscapes are the manmade features that complement your landscaping. They include rock walls, paved walkways, stone benches, concrete steps and more. All Hardscapes add elegance to your outdoor getaway, but they can also be functional by adding extra seating for guests.
Mature, well-positioned shade trees such as maple or magnolia are always a selling point for future buyers. They can actually increase your home's resale value as much as 19 percent, says HGTV. So consider planting one or two if you have vast expanses of shadeless backyard. Position them away from foundations, wells and septic tanks so roots won't damage anything costly. Additionally, don't plant them where they will someday block the view to your home's entrance. And when you need immediate shade for yourself, consider adding a pretty pergola, arbor or gazebo.
Fencing is another home improvement that will send property values soaring. Metal and stone top the list of fencing materials that provide the biggest ROI, but they're also pretty costly to construct. If budget is a concern, consider blending the two into a fence that features occasional stone pillars or posts, joined by metal sections of fencing.
Most importantly, your outdoor getaway needs to provide a comfortable space for family and friends to congregate. This means investing in some nice-quality outdoor furniture such as chairs, sofas, and love seats to help everyone settle in. Purchase furniture that's made from materials easy to maintain, such as synthetic wicker, teak, concrete, stainless steel or aluminum. For upholstery, buy fade-resistant and waterproof fabrics.
Additional tweaks to make your outdoor getaway more enjoyable include string lights, fire pits, an outdoor kitchen, a bubbling fountain, and outdoor art pieces made of mosaic tiles or driftwood sculptures. Whatever makes you happy, whatever inspires you -- these are the most important elements to include in your new backyard oasis.
Dotting the I's and crossing the T's on a home loan application may seem like a daunting task, regardless of whether you're a first-time or experienced homebuyer. However, those who know what to expect when they fill out a home loan application may be better equipped than others to obtain a home loan that matches or exceeds their expectations.
When it comes time to fill out a home loan application, you'll need to provide a variety of information, including:
1. Personal Information
Allocate the necessary time and resources to provide as much personal information as possible on your home loan application. That way, you can make it easy for a lender to create a file for all of your home loan information.
Typically, your lender will ask for your Social Security number, date of birth, current housing information and school information. Provide accurate personal information at all times, and if you're uncertain about how to answer certain questions, consult with a home loan expert for additional support.
2. Employment Information
Where have you worked, and how much have you earned while you've worked for various companies in the past? As you complete your home loan application, you'll need to provide employment information to verify your current and past employment and income.
Usually, a lender will want you to provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers for any employers over the past two years. This will allow a lender to verify employment as part of the home loan application process.
You also will need to offer copies of your two most recent pay stubs to a lender. This will enable the lender to confirm your current income.
Lastly, if you are self-employed, you likely will need to provide a lender with a profit and loss statement for the past two years.
3. Financial Information
Tax forms, bank account information and asset details are some of the key parts of the financial information section of a home loan application.
Ultimately, the financial information section helps a lender verify if you have any outstanding credit lines, rental property and much more. This information will help a lender make an informed decision about your loan application and determine how much you are eligible to receive toward the purchase of a new house.
If you ever have questions at any stage of the home loan application process, don't hesitate to reach out to a home loan expert for help. This professional will be able to offer comprehensive insights to help you complete a timely, accurate home loan application.
In addition, your real estate agent may be able to put you in touch with various lenders in your area. With this housing market professional at your side, you can learn about different lenders and find one that can help you get the right home loan.
Finalizing a home loan application may seem like an uphill struggle. But if you act as a diligent homebuyer, you should have no trouble reviewing all sections of a home loan application. And as a result, you can provide a lender with relevant information and boost your chances of getting the perfect home loan.
If you need to relocate from one address to another, it usually pays to plan an early-morning move. In fact, there are many reasons to consider an early-morning move, such as:
1. You can beat the heat.
No one wants to deal with extreme heat on moving day. However, the weather sometimes can be unpredictable, and hot temperatures may force you to rethink your moving day plans if you're not careful.
One of the best ways to beat the heat on moving day is to schedule an early-morning move. That way, you can pack all of your belongings into a moving truck and begin your journey to your new address before the hottest points of a given day.
Typically, the sun reaches its pinnacle in the mid-afternoon, i.e. the period when you'll likely encounter the highest temperatures during the day. But if you complete the majority of your move before this period, you can limit the risk that excess heat will slow you down.
2. You can avoid heavy traffic.
Ideally, you'd like to take all of your belongings to your new address as quickly as possible. Yet heavy traffic may add several hours to your moving day travel.
An early-morning move offers a great opportunity to avoid heavy traffic. For instance, if you pack a moving truck early in the morning, you may be ready to drive to your new home by late-morning or early-afternoon. Thus, you can avoid the heavy traffic associated with people traveling to work in the morning, along with the traffic associated with people heading home from work at the end of the afternoon.
3. You can finish your move earlier in the day.
Remember, the earlier that you begin your move, the sooner you can finish. If you kick off an early-morning relocation, you can complete your move earlier in the day and immediately start to get settled into your new address.
If you need help planning for an early-morning move, there is no need to worry. Many moving companies are available nationwide to help you alleviate stress prior to moving day.
A moving company employs highly trained specialists who can help you take the guesswork out of getting ready for moving day. This business also offers expert moving day recommendations and suggestions and will ensure that all of your big and small items can reach your final destination without delay.
In addition, if you're unsure about where to find a moving company, you can always consult with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you buy or sell a home, as well as connect you with the top moving companies in your area. By doing so, a real estate agent will guarantee that you can get the moving day support that you need, precisely when you need it.
For those who are preparing for moving day, it may be worthwhile to consider an early-morning move. If you start mapping out an early-morning move today, you can increase the likelihood of a fast, seamless moving day experience.
If you plan to sell your home, it may be helpful to prepare for a difficult negotiation with a homebuyer.
Although your home may be in great shape and you've set a fair price for it, there are no guarantees that you'll be able to avoid a long, complex home selling negotiation. However, a home seller who prepares for a difficult negotiation now may be better equipped than others to remain calm, cool and collected throughout the home selling journey.
Now, let's take a look at three tips that home sellers can use to get ready for a difficult negotiation.
1. Assess the Housing Market Closely
A home seller who sets a competitive price for his or her residence may be able to avoid a complicated home selling negotiation entirely.
To determine a fair price for your house, a property appraisal is ideal. During this appraisal, a property inspector will evaluate your home's interior and exterior and help you identify any problem areas. Then, you can complete assorted home improvement projects and price your house accordingly.
Furthermore, it is important to assess the prices of comparable houses in your area. With this housing market information at your disposal, you can enter a home selling negotiation with data to support your arguments.
2. Understand Your Home Selling Goals
How a home seller approaches a negotiation may vary based on his or her goals.
For example, a home seller who needs to move out of a house as soon as possible may be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy a property buyer's requests. By doing so, this home seller can speed up the property selling cycle.
On the other hand, a home seller who can afford to be patient may be unwilling to budge on various homebuyer requests.
Consider your home selling goals closely before you enter a negotiation with a homebuyer. And if you feel uncomfortable, you can always walk away from a negotiation and reenter the housing market.
3. Focus on the End Results
A home selling negotiation can become contentious, but it is important to remember the end goals of this negotiation.
Ultimately, a successful negotiation will meet the needs of both a property seller and buyer. If a negotiation heavily favors a homebuyer, a home seller should be ready to exit the negotiation.
A home selling negotiation can be stressful, and you should be ready to take breaks as needed. For example, spending a few minutes meditating or walking outdoors may help you clear your head and reenter a home selling negotiation with a fresh perspective.
Lastly, if you want additional support, real estate agents are happy to help you. A real estate agent knows what it takes to negotiate with homebuyers and will do everything possible to ensure all parties involved in a negotiation get the best results.
Take the guesswork out of a home selling negotiation – use these tips, and you can prepare for a difficult negotiation before you add your house to the real estate market.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to craft an effective property listing. Instead, a seller needs to allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure a house listing hits the mark with buyers. In fact, failure to do so may make it tough for a seller to generate interest in his or her home. Perhaps even worse, an ineffective home listing may make it virtually impossible for a seller to enjoy a fast, profitable house selling experience.
Ultimately, there are many things a seller can do to create an effective home listing. These include:
1. Provide Accurate Information About Your Home
Include pertinent information about your home in your property listing – you'll be glad you did. If you can provide lots of relevant information about your home to prospective buyers, you may increase the likelihood that buyers will set up showings to view your residence in-person.
There is no need to stretch the truth in your home listing, either. Conversely, if you strive to include accurate information in your home listing, you can help a buyer make an informed decision to determine if your home meets his or her expectations.
2. Avoid Jargon
Although you want your home listing to capture buyers' attention, you should try to avoid jargon. Otherwise, a buyer may be turned off by your home listing shortly after he or she starts to read it.
When it comes to crafting an effective home listing, keeping things concise and precise is ideal. If you use your home listing to engage and inform buyers, you may be able to differentiate your listing from others.
3. Add High-Resolution Images
Including high-resolution images of your home's interior and exterior may make a world of difference in your listing. These images allow you to highlight the size and beauty of your residence. As a result, they may lead to many property showings in the near future.
Of course, before you take pictures of your home, you may want to clean both inside and outside. Remove clutter from inside your home and ensure each room looks pristine prior to taking photographs for a property listing. Meanwhile, you should take photographs that show off your house's dazzling front lawn, spacious driveway and other stunning exterior features too.
For those who want to craft a home listing that garners buyers' attention, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional can offer tips and recommendations to help you prepare an effective property listing. Plus, he or she can help you promote your residence to dozens of prospective buyers and ensure you can streamline the property selling journey. Best of all, a real estate agent is ready to respond to your house selling concerns and questions at any time.
Ready to create an effective home listing? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can craft a house listing that will help you distinguish your residence from the competition.