You don’t have to wait for spring to put your home on the market! Winter can be a great time to sell, as buyers are more serious, and you’ll probably have less competition from other sellers. Still, it’s crucial to give your home an aesthetic advantage with staging and curb appeal. These staging tips will help you banish the cold weather blues of winter selling. 

Inside

Clean Sweep

Before you even get listing photos taken or start holding open houses, give your whole home a deep clean. A visibly dirty home will turn off buyers and make it seem like the house isn’t being maintained. Get rid of clutter that takes up space and distracts the eye. Store sentimental items like family photos or your child’s art out of sight, too. These steps are needed so that buyers can imagine living in your house. A clean and neat home is the first step to making a good impression.

Create Coziness

Creating a cozy atmosphere through staging is important year-round, but it’s essential when selling in the winter. The last thing you want is for buyers to think your home is drafty and cold—turn up the heat (literally) when staging it. For open house events, raise your thermostat thirty minutes before starting. Does your home have a fireplace? Light it up for extra warmth and a glowing ambience. Letting lots of natural light into your home is a no-brainer, but there’s less sunlight during the winter months. Illuminate your home by turning on all the lights. Adding a few throw pillows and a knit blanket over a sofa or bed will make your living areas feel more snug. Consider lighting a candle or scent diffuser to gently perfume your home during showings.

Seasonal Decor 

Incorporating seasonality into your staging can make your home feel more attractive and festive! Adding nature-inspired elements like pine boughs, pinecones, or an amaryllis plant will give your home wintery vibes. Remember that decor should be used in moderation to enhance your home rather than detract from it. Skip putting out religious holiday decorations or very sentimental items, as you don’t want your home to feel too personalized.

Outside 

Curb Appeal 

Maybe you don’t have to worry about mowing your lawn in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about creating curb appeal! Consider repainting your front door for a cheery pop of color, then hang a welcoming wreath on it. Plant some winter hardy plants (such as pansies, violas, and hellebores) in a container and place by your front door or mailbox to brighten the winter landscape. Tidy up your property by removing yard waste, trimming overgrown branches, and cleaning out the gutter. Dirt and grime may have built up on your windows during fall; take time to clean them. During open houses, provide photos of what your yard looks like in the warmer months. 

Decorations

If you’re showing your home during the holiday season, keep any outdoor decorations simple and nonreligious. Having many lighted features on your house and on the lawn can make your yard look cluttered and tacky. Just like indoor staging, outdoor staging should accentuate your home and appeal to a broad range of buyers. If you really want to put up some holiday decorations, stick to using white lights on select areas or some evergreen accents.

Clear the Way

Many people can appreciate how picturesque a snow-covered home looks, but it’s a different story when you’re trying to sell it. Keep your driveway, walkway and front stoop clear of snow and ice. Before an open house, sprinkle ice melt over crucial areas before people show up. Snow-free pathways will also look better in listing photos since nothing will be hidden under a blanket of white. Put a doormat on the inside of the entrance so guests can wipe their shoes when it’s snowing or raining. 

Selling your home in winter comes with a unique set of challenges, just like at any other time of the year. It’s important to make your winter staging preparations work with the season, not against it. By emphasizing a warm atmosphere, buyers will feel like they can enjoy your home even after winter passes.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to buy a home, click here to get started!

Much of what real estate agents do gets reduced to putting a home on a listing site and getting a commission when it sells. You might think real estate agents have it easy, but they employ many skills to help people become homeowners. Read on as we shed some light on what real estate agents do and why they’re essential if you’re buying or selling a home.

Before the Sale

For sellers, the real estate agent is responsible for listing your home for sale. To price your home, they’ll conduct a comparative market analysis to see how much similar homes in your area have sold for. In addition to managing the listing, agents and their teams work hard to market your home. Their marketing strategies can include professional photography and staging services, social media posts, and flyers to attract people. Holding an open house is a time-tested, effective way to get interested buyers in the door, literally! Agents frequently spend their weekends showing off properties for a few hours.

For buyers in the initial phases of house hunting, the real estate agent is tasked with getting to know what you’re looking for in your future home. They’ll get to know your needs, likes, dislikes and budget to recommend properties you may like. In a way, real estate agents are like matchmakers for homes. If you find a house you’re interested in, the agent will arrange a time to show it to you. Agents also need to have a strong understanding of their local markets. When you’re exploring various communities, tap into your agent’s knowledge to get an idea of a neighborhood’s characteristics.

A real estate professional who represents the home seller is called a seller’s or listing agent, while agents working for the homebuyer is a buyer’s agent. The main difference between them is that they have a fiduciary obligation to serve your interests as a buyer or seller. Having an agent who has no conflict of interest with the other party will give you peace of mind when it’s time to work out a deal.

During the Sale

Once you’ve found a house you want to purchase, the buyer’s agent will help you submit a competitive offer. It’s important to craft an offer that appeases the sellers while also complying with state and local real estate laws. Should there be any dispute regarding the offer or other concerns, your agent is there to be an intermediary between you and the seller. With all the duties you have to juggle when buying a home, the last thing you should involve yourself in is direct discussion with the other party. When reviewing the seller’s disclose, your agent can offer insight into what each item means. If you have concerns after conducting a home inspection, your agent can help you renegotiate your offer.

Once your home has an offer on the table, it can be beneficial to review it with your real estate agent, especially if you’ve received multiple bids. Offer letters are full of financial jargon, and you have a limited window to respond to offers (24-72 hours is typical)—using your agent as a resource makes a lot of sense. Though you are ultimately in charge of choosing the offer that’s best for you, your listing agent can translate what the offers entail and negotiate with the homebuyers via their buyer’s agent.

Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, time is of the essence in a real estate transaction. Agents need to be on the clock and ready to act when clients, seller’s/buyer’s agents, lenders, and title companies contact them. In addition to having open availability and timely communication, great real estate agents offer moral support to their clients. The home buying and selling process is often stressful and hectic, but having an encouraging and persistent real estate agent on your side can prevent you from feeling discouraged and lost.

Finalizing the Sale

On or a few days before you close, be sure to do a final walkthrough with your agent to ensure the home is still in working condition. This is your last opportunity to check that no new issues have come up since the home inspection and that the sellers have fixed any items that were stipulated in your offer. Although it’s not required for agents to attend closing, many choose to be present or send a representative from their team to make sure everything goes smoothly. Along with the closing attorney, your agent can clarify terms in the closing documents and answer questions.

When it comes to making one of the most significant purchases in your life, it makes sense to work with a professional who understands the ins and outs of real estate and who is dedicated to your best interests. After you finally walk through the door of your new home, you’ll be glad you hired an amazing real estate agent.

If you have questions about becoming a homeowner, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you’re ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

With many people continuing to work remotely, home offices have become an extremely desirable feature for home buyers. Take advantage of this lifestyle change by creating or showing off your own WFH spot! If you’re ready to sell your home, here’s how to highlight a home office.

Office Space

A home office doesn’t have to be grand or elaborate, and it’s easy to incorporate one into your home. It’s best the office be situated away from common areas, like the kitchen or living room, if possible. A smaller, spare room or a basement can be good locations for a workspace. If you don’t have an extra room, you can carve out a smaller section of a larger room to establish a flex space. Just be sure there’s an outlet nearby to plug in a computer or printer. To create a sense of privacy, add a curtain or folding partitions next to the area. Once you’ve chosen your office location, add a desk and chair. If you can, try arranging the desk near a window. The natural light will make the area more attractive and will help achieve a pleasant ambience. 

Staging

You could always plant a desk and a chair in a room and call it a day, but staging your home office can make the difference between lukewarm and enthusiastic buyers. For home offices already in use, clear your desk of papers, personal items, and other clutter. To tidy up the look of multiple electric cords, bundle them together with a zip or twist tie. Keep the walls in your home office a neutral color, as well. When it comes to furniture, minimalism is the way to go. Avoid overcrowding by removing large and unnecessary items. This can make the room feel more spacious and keeps the focus on the desk zone. Much like staging for the rest of your home, a buyer should be able to visualize themselves using the space.

Finishing Touches

Even though your home office shouldn’t appear too personal to buyers, that doesn’t mean it needs to look bland! With the right additions, a buyer will be able to see how they can customize the workspace once they own the home. Place a houseplant to add natural beauty. Whether they’re real or artificial, the greenery will make any area more stylish and create a more tranquil environment. Consider adding an attractive area rug to make the room friendlier and tie the room together. A piece of wall art can also add some flair, just be sure not to choose any pieces that could be distracting or off-putting to buyers.

The high demand for an office space isn’t just a fad—it’s very likely that working from home will continue in some scope, even when the pandemic is less of a threat. Investing the time to showcase a home office can pay off when you’re selling your home.

If you have any questions about staging your home, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!