Why You Need an Expert Listing Agent

by c21commonweath_ldowling 20. March 2019 15:13

Accurately pricing a home is a listing agent’s top priority. While they have many other duties, landing on the right price for your home is the most important part of their job. Pricing your home too low results in a loss of profits, while pricing your home too high means potentially watching your home sit on the market while you slowly lose money.

To ensure your home sells for the right price, rely on an experienced listing agent who can yield promising and fast results. While their aim should never be to inflate the sale’s price, an agent should be able to get the best deal on your home in relation to what it authentically has to offer.

Pricing and Marketing

Before you get an offer on your home, an agent first determines its price. A listing agent may study sales prices of homes in the neighborhood to price your home within a similar range. The location and neighborhood provide context for your home’s value, so an agent will consider these relevant regional factors.

An agent will also devise a marketing strategy to ensure your home comes attached with a nice price tag. Many tactics may be used, but agents commonly focus on improving your home's aesthetic and publishing listings.

If your home looks a little shabby, your agent may suggest you spruce up the place. Home improvements and staging are two things that help guarantee you walk away with more money quickly. Part of this process includes taking great photos of the interior and exterior of your home to showcase its best features.

More importantly, your agent has the knowledge and connections to market your home on multiple listing services, helping to bring in more foot traffic to your open houses. Don’t worry about communicating with pools of potential buyers with an experienced listing agent who does this work for you. 

Negotiating Like a Pro

Negotiating is the next phase taking place after receiving an offer. During this phase, the agent presents the seller with a buyer’s proposal. If the price isn’t where you want it to be, it’s the agent’s job to negotiate with the buyer to try and get a better offer or decide on a faster closing date. Remember, it's the job of the listing agent to haggle. Expert negotiating can save you quite a bit of money if your agent negotiates properly.

How to Choose a Listing Agent

Searching for the right listing agent takes time. Before making any final decisions, do your research. An agent with years of experience is more reputable and will get you a better deal on the price of your home. Don’t hesitate to shop around and ask questions while searching for your all-star agent. Asking how many homes they’ve sold in the area, the average price range of homes they’ve sold, and how they’ll construct a marketing plan get you closer to finding an experienced agent who can sell your home quickly.

A Successful Sale

With an expert listing agent, you’ll receive help with pricing, prepping, marketing, and negotiating. Take the time to find an agent with experience selling homes in your neighborhood to make the home-selling process more straightforward. You deserve to experience a profitable sale with the help of an agent with key industry knowledge and expert negotiating skills.


Here's How to Show Off Your Bonus Room

by c21commonweath_ldowling 18. March 2019 12:13

Effectively staging a home requires more than placing an attractive couch in the corner with a stylish lamp by its side. Prospective buyers want to envision a life in your home, and decorating a room intentionally makes them imagine how they'll use the space themselves. When staging a bonus room, keep these tips to in mind to make potential buyers instantly fall in love with your home's additional space. 

Tidy Up the Place

Begin by decluttering the room, placing all personal belongings in closets or dressers if you haven’t already moved items to your new place. No one wants to see clothes or books thrown across the floor in a frenzy. So, get organized and do a proper cleaning before you invite buyers into your home to tour the place. 

Be Cohesive 

A bonus room can be used for many reasons, but you’ll want to stick with one theme to avoid confusion. Buyers will be confused if they happen upon a bonus room with a treadmill in one corner and a crib in another. Be cohesive with your décor to help give the room a clear purpose. After all, a bonus room offers space and privacy for specialized work and play. Create a library, workout room, or kids’ playroom—just don’t mix and match! 

Create a Private Gym

After a hectic day at work, come home to a private gym or peaceful yoga studio. If this sounds appealing to you, buyers will likely find the idea amusing too. Create a defined workout area with a water dispenser, area for towels, and workout equipment (if you have any). A yoga studio is also easy to construct by placing mats in the center of the room with warm lighting in a corner. Add a plant or two and comfy pillows to create a tranquil space.


Invest in Your Hobbies  

Having extra space is definitely a selling perk. With a landing on the second floor, basement, or an attic, you have plenty of room to complete that novel you’ve always talked about finishing or practice tricky yoga moves in privacy. With such a space, there’s no reason not to showcase your passion projects. If you get crafty (but still specific) with your design, you’ll inspire buyers to dive into their own hobbies in the extra space that's now available to them. 

Storage, Storage, and More Storage

Extra room can also be used for storing papers, books, and miscellaneous items. For this reason, your bonus room may best be used as an office. Design the ultimate workspace with a spacious desk, bookshelves, and cabinets. This is especially appealing for those who work from home or stay up late at night finishing projects. Whatever your own personal work style may be, you can appeal to buyers with a carefully constructed home office. 

Don’t Go Overboard

While we’re proponents of staging, we don’t recommend pretending to be a parent, artist, or yogi if you're not. Buyers will smell your dishonesty and think twice about your bonus room. Instead, showcase your room as you’ve used it, as long as it’s not cluttered and full of miscellaneous items. Opting for a clean, minimalist space is usually good enough. 

Be Proud of Your Bonus Room

Having extra space is attractive to buyers. Be proud of the room you’ve created, and show others why they should be excited to move into a home with a landing space or extra working alcove. With these tips and tricks, you’ll create a space prospective buyers can’t help but fall in love with. 


Working with an Appraiser: What to Expect

by c21commonweath_ldowling 13. March 2019 11:52

Demystifying the appraisal process gives you peace of mind when purchasing a new home. If you’ve never worked with an appraiser before or you’re feeling unsure about the process, fret no more. We’re here to answer some basic questions about working with an appraiser while going through the home-buying process.  

Why Do I Need an Appraiser?

To get a mortgage for your new home, you’ll need to work with a mortgage lender. The lender needs to know the value of the house in the case that it’s foreclosed to recollect its costs and sell the home to a different buyer. A real estate appraiser is the one who determines the value of your soon-to-be home. Only after an appraisal of the home is complete will the mortgage lender send over the cash required to buy the home.

The appraiser determines if a home is actually worth the selling price, protecting buyers from potentially bad deals. Both the lender and buyer are safeguarded by the appraiser, who gives a final expert opinion on the value of a property.  

How Do Appraisers Determine a Home’s Value?

Appraisers are trained to be unbiased and calculate a home’s value outside of what you or the seller think the house should be worth. They present the cold hard facts—not some fantastic picture of what the home in question could be worth. Rely on their years of experience to know the home you’re about to buy is worth the money you'll shovel out of your pocket. Even if the appraiser determines a value lower than the seller’s asking price, you can proceed with an informed and rational decision. 

To determine the home’s value, the appraiser investigates to following: the home’s condition, square footage, location, and any additions or renovations. Oftentimes, he or she will evaluate local real estate markets to contextually determines the home’s value. The appraiser’s investigative process is fast and usually takes as little as 30 minutes. This is normal and no reason for concern!

Who Hires and Pays for the Appraiser?

The lender or financer is usually responsible for hiring a reputable appraiser they trust. After all, these institutions rely on unbiased and accurate estimates from experienced real estate appraisers. They may draw from a list of appraisers they’ve worked closely with over the years.  

While lenders and financers sometimes provide the home appraiser, the buyer (or person responsible for the mortgage), is asked to pay the appraisal fee. Fees are usually in the ballpark of $300-$400. If the seller wants to proactively defend his or her asking price, they may cover the price of the appraisal fee themselves. 

What If the Value Is Lower than the Asking Price?

After a thorough investigation has been conducted, you may find the value of your home is significantly lower than the seller’s asking price. There are several ways to proceed as a buyer:

  • You can walk away from the deal and have your money returned
  • Have the seller pay for the difference
  • Find a way to pay for the difference yourself
  • Pay for a second opinion from another appraiser

Should You Feel Reassured?

Absolutely. Even if the results are not what you expected, be comforted knowing you have the information you need to make a well-informed decision. Whether you purchase the home or not, you can walk away knowing you carefully considered your options with the help of a professional real estate appraiser.



Features for Entertaining

by c21commonweath_ldowling 11. March 2019 14:40

Whether you’re throwing a birthday bash or hosting a Super Bowl party, you’ll want the appropriate features to help guests celebrate properly. Plenty of lounging space inside and outside of the house, storage, and overnight amenities make your home the party house. If creating fun memories with neighbors, friends, and family is what you’re after, make sure your house comes equipped with the following entertaining features. 

Ample Kitchen Space

Parties always end up in the kitchen. It’s where food is served and drinks are poured, so guests naturally gravitate towards the kitchen area. For this reason, we recommend investing in a large kitchen island if you don’t have one already. Not only will you have plenty of space for preparing delicious snacks and entrees, but you can easily entertain everyone around the kitchen island once pots, pans, and mixing tools have been put away. Make a toast and serve your favorite hors d’oeuvres around a beautiful kitchen island for a bit of sophisticated fun.

Outdoor Space

There’s no place you can’t party. Why not take the shenanigans outside? Even if you have a smaller patio area, you can still entertain guests with a round of mimosas or simply by providing a place to take in some fresh air after mingling with plenty of people. So, set up a cozy seating area offering a little patio retreat for party-goers who want to relax.  

A Place for Parking

If your friends can’t park, they might not make it to the party. Make sure to provide adequate parking for everyone commuting with a car. This is especially important if your home faces a neighborhood cul-de-sac, which can easily become clogged with too many cars. This can cause an illegal parking situation and make your neighbors angry. Avoid this headache at all costs by allowing guests to park in your long driveway or directing them to park on a separate street.

Creative Storage Units

Wine racks, cabinet space, and extra refrigerators make storage easy by seamlessly organizing party favors and food. If your home doesn’t have a basement or attic, rely on creative storage units to house miscellaneous items. You can even display your favorite bottles of wine and liquor for all to see with added cabinet space and wine racks.

Create Your Own Bar

You may be proud to call yourself a cocktail connoisseur. If you entertain on the regular, and you and your friends drink, consider building a bar for added entertainment value. One common strategy is to build a nook or cranny under the staircase. Here, you can store wine, cocktail napkins and supplies, and bottle openers for guests and bartenders to easily access.

Space for Long-Term Guests

A downstairs powder room and guestroom with a bed take your party house to the next level. To most comfortably house guests, offer a downstairs bathroom for them to use. It’s tucked away from your more private spaces and easily accessible for all to use. Lastly, a bonus room with a Murphy bed allows for extra sleeping space when you need it—simply tuck the bed away when you don’t!

Throw a Party

Your home’s built for entertainment—don’t forget to throw a couple of parties this year! With plenty of space, festive features, and the appropriate storage, you’re all set to go. Enjoy future celebrations in a home you’ve built with love for you and your guests.


Spruce up Your Front Porch for Spring

by c21commonweath_ldowling 6. March 2019 11:41

Springtime is around the corner and with it brings warmer weather that demands a cozy place to chill outside. Freshen up your front porch before the heat hits and you’ll be thankful for a homey place to enjoy the weather. Use these design trends and decorating tips to spruce up your outdoor space to create a welcoming place to unwind for the spring season.

Add Functional Furniture

Your front porch can be a functional and fun space to host friends and family. Enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your own home by creating a space to cozy up together on your front porch. You don’t have to break your budget to add a seating arrangement to snuggle up on the porch this spring. Porch swings are a fun addition to any front porch and are great for hosting company or an afternoon nap. Rocking chairs are another great option for seating that is functional and fashionable. Rock the morning away with a cup of coffee or hang with friends while you watch the kiddos play in the front yard. Add any type of seating arrangement to your front porch and you’ll be thankful for a new space to enjoy the spring weather.

Go for the Green

Add some greenery to your porch this season with hassle-free planter pots and flowers. Get some decorative pottery and fill it with low-maintenance flowers and trick all your neighbors into thinking you have a green thumb. Make springtime gardening easy this summer and purchase pottery that has the option for a self-watering insert that does the work for you. Add color to your front porch with pretty ceramic pots that come in a variety of sizes and textures. Make your front door extra welcoming with a DIY door wreath. With a crafty attitude and some cheerful flowers, you can enhance your curb appeal and reradiate spring’s energy from the first glance.

Create a Cozy Corner

Now that you have the seating essentials, its time to transform your porch into a cozy and comfortable place. Add accent throw pillows for an extra cushion and a splash of color. Additionally, outdoor pillows are great as they invite relaxation and can even be used for additional seating in a pinch. Make your front porch pop with an outdoor rug that adds a stylish print and a comfy place to rest your feet. Outdoor rugs are easy to care for and are simple to sweep the leaves and dirt off of without a hassle. Boost coziness on the cool nights with extra throw blankets to cuddle up under. Their texture will add an unspoken elegance and their warmth will be appreciated during late night chats.

The spring season should be enjoyed outside and with a few essentials, you can transform your front porch into the relaxing space to unwind that you need. Invite friends and family over for outdoor fun confidently by adding a few key functional items and stylish décor to your front porch.


Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 4. March 2019 14:08

You might be familiar with what a foreclosure is but understanding the buying and selling process surrounding it can be a challenge. A foreclosed home happens when the owners are unable to pay the mortgage and the lender, usually the bank, takes on control and ownership of the property. As a result of foreclosure, the lender will typically try to sell the home for much less than its value. Since the banks are eager to sell foreclosed homes, the asking price is usually a combination of the remaining mortgage, interest, lawyer fees, and penalties. This usually accumulates to foreclosed homes being sold for 15% below their value, making it a big bargain for buyers. Find out what goes into buying a foreclosed home, the risks, and the benefits to make the smartest decision when deciding to purchase a foreclosure.

Buying Foreclosed Homes at Auction

Once a house has been foreclosed, the lender will likely try to resell it. The usual first step lenders take in selling a foreclosed home is a foreclosure auction sale. The lender will likely try to resell the foreclosed house in an auction setting, where potential buyers typically pay cash up front and buy the house sight unseen. While buying a house at foreclosure auction can offer a big chance for savings for potential buyers, it also comes with a big risk. If a foreclosed house is sold at auction, the new buyer assumes total responsibility, including all risks should anything go wrong or be damaged. Buying a foreclosed home at auction is a big decision and should be thought about beforehand to ensure the buyer is willing to take on total risk of every aspect of the property.

Real Estate Owned Properties

If a foreclosed house does not sell during a foreclosure auction, it becomes a real estate owned property, or REO property. A real estate owned property is a house that has been foreclosed due to the owner’s inability to make mortgage payments and is now owned by the bank or real estate agent. Once the home is real estate owned, potential buyers may contact the real estate agent on the listing to express interest in the home as usual. However, this selling process tends to move more slowly than others as the lender's goal is to eventually make their money back on the unpaid loan. Lenders can be unmotivated to move quickly when selling REO properties, making this process not ideal if you need to buy quickly.

Buying as Is

The biggest risk when buying a foreclosed home is buying the home as is. This is typical in all foreclosure processes as the lender is unlikely to make any improvements to the home. Additionally, many foreclosed homes have the potential to be in bad shape as the owners likely couldn’t afford maintenance or renovations. While typical homes being sold require inspections and disclosure of defects, buying a foreclosed home has none of those requirements. Buyers should be extra cautious of buying a foreclosed home as they are assuming responsibility for the entire property, including its flaws and necessary renovations.


Selling Your Home Quickly

by c21commonweath_ldowling 27. February 2019 11:01

Time is money, and the longer your home sits on the market, the more money you'll waste. Instead of squandering away these valuable resources, learn to sell your home quickly. With a fast sale and more money in your pocket, you can invest more energy in designing and decorating your new place.

Use Virtual Staging

Hiring a professional stager decreases the amount of time it takes to sell a home. By strategically decorating the place, you’ll sell your home 88% faster than one without any furniture or cozy décor—but staging is expensive. Expect to shovel out between $300 to $600 for a consultation and an additional $500 for each room per month. To make matters more expensive, most professional stagers require three-month contracts, and you may be spending money on staging long after your house has been sold. The solution? Consider visual staging.

Visual staging uses digital images to ‘stage’ your online listings with photo-editing software. Barren rooms appear tastefully furnished with fitted couches, beds, and tables. You don’t have to use any actual furniture to make your house appear eloquent and cozy, and the service only costs around $100 per month.

Pay Attention to the Front Yard

Creating curb appeal matters, as your front lawn, driveway, and entryway are the first things prospective buyers see before entering the home. Improving the look and functionality of the front of your home can even increase its value by up to 17%. To cost-effectively invest in the front of your home, consider the following home-improvement projects.

Buy standard lawn care at your local nursery or hardware store. Fertilizer and weed control are affordable options compared to professional landscapers and make your front lawn look tidy. Of course, you can also perform a bit of lawn maintenance yourself by rolling up your sleeves and doing the gardening yourself. Get out there and enjoy the sunshine. It will pay off when prospective buyers are in awe of the beautiful landscaping you did yourself. 

Use Social Media

Don’t waste time and money by sending your listings out by mail. Instead, use social media to advertise your home across a variety of platforms for free. Post your ad to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, including plenty of beautiful pictures and videos of your home’s best features. Online communities won’t be able to resist scrolling through professional pictures of your prized piece of real estate.

Another way to generate buzz before the house goes on the market is by posting about the sale beforehand. Spend time, too, knocking on neighbors' doors and sending out mass emails to your network of family, friends, and acquaintances.

Aim for Energy-Efficiency

A lot of money is wasted on air leaks and drafts, which is reflected in expensive energy bills. Homebuyers don’t want to invest more than is necessary when they could be saving money with energy-efficient upgrades. Make your home more energy efficient by insulating the attic, installing a thermostat, and using Energy Star appliances.

Get Ready for a Fast Sale

With these strategies in place, you'll sell your home quickly and without much hassle. Making the right upgrades matters, so invest wisely. You’ll walk away with more money in your pocket and with ample time to settle into your new place.


Buying a Pet-Friendly Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 25. February 2019 17:18

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Millennials. They love their dogs—a lot. According to a survey by SunTrust, 33% of millennial-aged individuals in the U.S. report wanting a home equipped with pet-friendly features. If you’re a dog or cat lover, here’s what you need to know about purchasing a pet-friendly home in a different town, city, or state. 

Local Animal Codes Vary

State laws allow local governments to create rules regarding the ownership of animals and pets. Municipal codes can be stricter than state laws, so it’s important to research local ordinances before purchasing a home in a neighborhood that doesn’t’ allow your breed of dog or number of cats. Get an introduction to animal ordinances here to understand how they work, ensuring your pet legally moves into your new home with you.

After researching local animal codes, get the scoop on pet rules in your complex. Homeowners associations sometimes have strict policies about the kind of pets allowed in apartments or condos. If pets aren’t outright banned from the complex, certain breed and weight restrictions may apply. Rules can also force your dog to be on a leash while in common spaces or prohibit breeding. Do your research ahead of time to avoid getting you and your pet in trouble!

Pet-Friendly Neighborhoods 

Investigate your neighborhood of choice to see just how pet-friendly it is or isn’t. If you can, take a drive around the block to see if other homeowners are walking their dogs or if cats are lazily sprawled out in driveways. The community’s attitude towards pets becomes clear after touring its streets and parks. Lastly, make sure plenty of space is available in the neighborhood for long walks and games of catch to keep your pet happy for years to come.

Avoid Pet Hazards

Consider potential pet hazards while on the hunt for the perfect house. If a home is built on a busy street, find ways to keep your dog or cat away from harm’s way. This may require building a fence. The same goes for pools, ponds, broken window screens, and poisonous plants and paints. Pets are curious, so you’ll need to pet-proof the place with the appropriate fencing and repairs before letting your dog or cat roam free.

Pet-Friendly Features

There are many pet-friendly features inside the home that make everyday pet care easy. Hardwood floors and tile are two such features. They’re easy to clean and don’t require busting out the carpet cleaner to get rid of stains and dirt, and if you have a cat, you won’t have to worry about the carpet being shredded to pieces. Large tubs are also helpful for bathing your pet and contain water when your dog or cat gets a little rambunctious. Stairs with carpet are also handy for helping your furry friend walk upstairs. Lastly, consider if vets and pet supply stores are nearby for added security and convenience.

The Ultimate Pet Home

Now that you know what pet-friendly, and not-so-friendly, features to look for, you’re well on your way to creating a safe and fun home for your furry friend. Do your research, consider hazardous obstacles, and look for fun amenities to create the ultimate home for you and your pets.



Traits of Successful Home Sellers

by c21commonweath_ldowling 20. February 2019 10:51

While there’s no secret to success when it comes to selling your home, there are some qualities that make an expert home seller. How your house looks is a crucial part of having your home sell quickly. This is why the best sellers all have something in common, a habit of making their house look amazing. Find out which traits you can adopt to maintain a beautiful house before and during the selling process.

Clean Up Frequently

The best sellers all know the importance of a tidy and neat house. This is why successful home sellers make a habit of cleaning up frequently to avoid a huge project later on. During the selling process, it’s important to have your home ready for a showing at any time. Make sure you’re prepared for this by cleaning up daily. Create a checklist of what you should tidy up quickly before leaving the house for the day, so your home is looking picture perfect when that last-minute showing is scheduled. Similarly, it can be helpful to do a deep clean of your home once a week while it’s on the market to keep the daily maintenance tasks to a minimum. Be proud to show your home at any time by spending a few minutes a day cleaning up.

Respond to Potential Buyers

If you want someone to buy your house, it’s important to be responding to offers quickly. To be a great home seller, make responsiveness a new trait of yours by responding to potential buyers daily. Be prepared beforehand by discussing what offers you will and won’t accept. This will make it easier to respond to offers with a clear idea of a limit you are not willing to negotiate. It’s imperative that your potential buyers feel important and it's likely the will begin to doubt or feel unsure with each minute that passes. Have a strategic plan ahead of time so you know how to respond to each eager offer that you receive.

Market Your Move

The more people that know your house is for sale, the more people that are likely to buy it or assist in getting it sold. Great home sellers are usually great marketers, creating a buzz about their house and getting the word out that it’s for sale. Make it your mission to spread the word that your house is on the market. Create intrigue that makes people want to live there. When communicating it’s for sale, talk about some of the great benefits of your home such as location, neighbors, school district, and other deciding factors that could sway potential buyers’ minds. You are free to sell your home in whatever way possible, but we recommend word-of-mouth and social media as an essential step in selling quickly.

Repair and Revamp

A smart first step when your house goes on the market is to get a presale home inspection. This will allow you to take care of any drastic repairs before it’s too late and will keep the negotiation power in your hands later on. Fixing the little things along the way should become a habit of yours. Establish a routine of maintaining the upkeep of both the interior and exterior of your home. Freshen up chipped paint, replace outdoor light bulbs, and sweep the front porch to create beautiful curb appeal. Doing little thing each day will help you be prepared to sell the moment your buyer walks in the door.


Selling Myths to Avoid

by c21commonweath_ldowling 18. February 2019 12:42

There are many different aspects that come with selling your house, especially if it’s your first time participating in the selling process. If selling your house is an intimidating task, you’re likely to turn to someone who’s been through the process before to ask for advice. However, the housing market changes all the time, meaning what worked for them might not necessarily work for you. We’ve compiled our list of outdated selling myths you may be better off avoiding during the selling process.

Price Your Home High

A common piece of advice given during the selling process is to price your home over the market value. While this isn’t always a bad tip, today’s housing market is different than it once was. In the past, the market was a prime seller’s market, meaning that competition for housing outweighed the price and almost guaranteed a sale above market value. However, today sellers might not be as lucky. Now, there is a trend of houses being on the market longer, for less money, and with less intrigue of new listings. In this type of market, it’s important to be realistic in your listing price and to adjust the price of your home accordingly for it to sell quickly.

Sell as Is

A few years ago, selling your house as is was a common piece of advice. The motivation behind this selling myth is that you shouldn’t invest too much time and money remodeling because the buyers will want to customize the home themselves. Well, as the market changes, the buyers do too, and this motto probably won’t get you very far today. A new generation of buyers is looking for homes that are ready to be lived in from the first day, requiring little renovation or repairs. The shift towards buying houses that are move-in ready is growing and you should take this into account when deciding to make renovations during the selling process.

You Don’t Need Professional Photos of Your Home

If you haven’t sold a home before, you probably don’t realize the effect professional pictures have on your homes ability to sell quickly. Especially in today's digital world, pictures of your house online can be the difference between your house selling and not. How your house is photographed and viewed online has a direct impact on the number of buyers who will be interested in it. Think of photographs as the first impression you give to potential buyers. This is why we recommend hiring a professional to take pictures of your house for the online listing to show your home in the best light possible. Put your best foot forward with beautiful pictures of your house online to spark interest and prove its potential.

Selling your home is an exciting time. Keep these outdated words of wisdom in mind and be sure to evaluate the market and the buyers when making your selling decisions. Keep your eye on changing market trends, make the repairs necessary, and take professional pictures of your home to be on the way to selling quickly.