Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Listing?

by c21commonweath_ldowling 2. April 2018 09:48

When you’ve lived in your home for decades or even a few years, you can overlook the flaws potential buyers will see. A professional home inspection during the prelisting can help you get ahead of the buyer’s demands before escrow. You’ll learn about small and large fixes you may need to negotiate with the buyer, as well as any underlying issues with your property. Here are just a few reasons you should get a pre-listing home inspection:

Saving Money

While it might seem counterintuitive to make repairs before listing your home, it can help you in the long run. Buyers are entitled to conducting their own home inspection, and if their inspector finds too many issues, they may ask for a price reduction or ask you to make the repairs. Knowing about any issues in advance will save you money by allowing you to make decisions about repairs before prospective buyers become involved.

Knowing What Your Property is Worth

You’ve decided on a purchase price with your Realtor before an inspection will be done. If you need to make major repairs or negotiate with the buyers for concessions, it can throw off your final price. Performing a pre-listing inspection assists you in being more aware of any issues and allows you to set the correct listing price.

Soothing Prospective Buyers' Concerns

Most buyers will only have the opportunity to do one or two walkthroughs of your property before making an offer. Having a recent inspection lets the buyer know there aren’t any major issues in store. They’ll still likely want an inspection of their own, but knowing that you’ve conducted a home inspection may make them less wary of placing a bid.

Highlighting Your Home’s Advantages

Assuming you’ve made improvements to your home or it’s been built relatively recently, a home inspection can show your selling points. Your Realtor can point to electrical upgrades, new plumbing, or a recent HVAC system overhaul. If you have under-the-hood advantages to show off, a home inspection helps prove those to your prospective buyers.

Opening Your Home History

It’s important for buyers to feel like your home is an open book. A pre-listing inspection is a goodwill gesture, showing everyone that you’re going above and beyond what’s expected of sellers. Most listings won’t have a pre-listing inspection, so having yours ready can give buyers additional confidence and peace of mind.

Set yourself apart by doing a pre-listing inspection. You’ll be setting your property up for success and know more about your home when going into negotiations with your potential buyers. It’s an additional step that can lead you to earn buyer trust and make more money on your home sale.


Eco-Friendly Features That Home Buyers Love

by c21commonweath_ldowling 26. March 2018 10:12

The concept of going green has gone mainstream, and home buyers are increasingly looking for homes with environmentally-friendly features. In a 2017 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 56% of respondents reported that their clients expressed interest in sustainability. And those home buyers who aren’t swayed by the benefits of environmental stewardship will likely be won over by cost-saving opportunities: eco-friendly home features can dramatically decrease utility expenses.

Realtors and home sellers should take stock of environmentally-friendly features in their listings and make sure prospective home buyers understand all the advantages. Features to highlight include:

Energy Star Appliances

Energy Star criteria are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, and appliances that are Energy Star-certified are proven to reduce energy consumption without compromising performance. Mentioning Energy Star appliances in a home listing helps signal to prospective buyers that the home has energy-efficient features that could help them save on their utility bills.

Smart Thermostats

Many Americans are already using programmable thermostats to change their home’s temperature when they’re sleeping or away, with the goal of reducing unnecessary energy consumption and costs. In the past several years, however, smart thermostats have improved on the traditional programmable thermostat and introduced new ways to save energy. Many smart thermostats allow homeowners to:

  • Monitor the temperature in different areas of their home using sensors
  • Automatically adjust the temperature when their phone is a certain distance away from the house
  • Remotely change their home’s temperature using an app on their smartphone
  • Get energy reports based on their usage patterns

Modern Insulation

It may not be the most attractive green home feature, but good insulation will help keep warm air inside during the winter and cool air inside during the summer, leading to decreased reliance on the HVAC system. Many environmentally-conscious home buyers are now looking for sustainable, high-performance insulation. Thermowool, a sustainably sourced combination of sheep wool, recycled carpet wool, and regenerated polyester, is one popular option. Cotton insulation is another alternative; it’s a sustainable resource and is similar in performance to fiberglass (without the potentially harmful formaldehyde).

Low-E Windows

Low-emissivity (low-E) windows have a special coating on their glass panes to reflect radiant infrared light. This essentially means that energy stays on the side of the window where it originated, keeping the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The glass also reflects UV rays, which reduces the risk of furniture and window treatments fading in the sun.

Solar Panels

Solar panels on roofs can significantly reduce energy consumption costs. Savings vary by region, but many states are seeing utilities being reduced by more than $100 per month in homes with solar panels. And those significant savings are encouraging home buyers to pay more upfront: one study from the National Renewable Energy Library (NREL) found that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money on average than homes without them.

Shade Trees

This last category might be the least technologically advanced, but shade trees can still be a big selling point for homes. Mature trees can provide shade to keep homes cool in the summer while allowing more sunlight into the house when they shed their leaves in winter. Trees can also help save energy by acting as a wind block. Trees’ natural energy-saving assistance can be a boon for home sellers: the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers estimates that a mature tree can increase a home’s value by anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

Eco-friendly features are well worth emphasizing in a listing. As a Realtor or home seller, appeal to your prospective buyers’ desire to live sustainably, reduce energy consumption, and lower their monthly utility bills.


5 Simple Strategies to Make a Small Kitchen Look Larger

by c21commonweath_ldowling 26. March 2018 09:43

The kitchen is one of the rooms that prospective homebuyers pay the closest attention to, and a cramped or cluttered meal prep space can be a major turn-off. Don’t despair if you’re selling a home with a small kitchen, though. There are advantages to a small kitchen—there’s less space to clean, for one thing—and there are plenty of things you can do to visually maximize the room.

You don’t necessarily need to knock out a wall to make your kitchen appear larger. Here are five ideas to make your kitchen look bigger without a complete renovation:

Get Transparent with Glass Cabinets or Floating Shelves

Trading out opaque cabinet doors for glass ones will visually increase the depth of your kitchen and give the room a modern, airy look. If you’d like to go a step further, you could eliminate cabinets altogether and opt for floating shelves. However, keep in mind that floating shelves aren’t for everyone. You’ll need to keep the items on the shelves looking organized and orderly during showings; if your exposed shelves get too cluttered, your kitchen will end up looking more cramped than it actually is.

Get Creative with Your Storage Space

Ample counter space is something that most homebuyers look for in a kitchen, and your potential buyers may have misgivings if your counters are cluttered with appliances and pantry staples. As you’re preparing to show your home, store all the appliances that you don’t use regularly. If you have time and a modest remodeling budget, you may want to add storage features that buyers will see as an asset. You could:

  • Add a corner appliance garage to capitalize on otherwise unused counter space
  • Install a pull-out cutting board under your countertop
  • Add a plate rack to unused space on your wall
  • Install a pull-out pantry shelf to store spices and small kitchen gadgets
  • Take advantage of an open wall by retrofitting a recessed shelving unit between the studs

Keep Your Color Scheme White or Light

It’s an old trick, but a good one: stick to a white color scheme in your kitchen to reflect light and make the room appear larger. White walls, cabinetry, countertops, and ceiling will make your kitchen look unified and boundless. You can keep a white kitchen from looking too sterile or flat by playing with different textures or adding a bright or dark color as an accent. Not sold on the all-white look? You’ll still be able to keep your kitchen looking open and airy if you choose a light hue and keep the whole room in the same color family.

Keep Your Window Treatments Minimal

A dimly-lit, cave-like kitchen is bound to make a bad first impression. You’ll want to let as much natural light into your kitchen as possible to make the space seem bigger. If your kitchen windows currently have fabric curtains or another heavy type of window treatment, consider trading them out for blinds or opaque shades that will let light in without sacrificing privacy.

Choose Furnishings That Match the Scale of the Kitchen

A small kitchen is not the place for a chunky antique game table or chairs with wide legs. Oversized furniture will block a viewer’s sight lines and make the kitchen appear cramped. Avoid this problem by staging your kitchen with furnishings such as a tall, narrow table and streamlined stools. And if you currently have kitchen furniture that feels inessential, store it before you start showing your home.

If you’re still concerned about the size of your kitchen, talk to your seller’s agent. As a real estate professional, they should have ideas to play up the highlights of your home while minimizing—or finding the silver lining to—the quirks.


Tips to Save Money When Decorating Your New Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 19. March 2018 10:55

Decorating a new home can seem like a daunting task. Whether you’ve brought furniture from your previous residence or you’re starting fresh, new furniture and fixtures can be expensive. When you’re moving into a new home, especially as a first-time homebuyer, it’s important to keep your costs down. Purchasing brand new furniture from high-end stores like West Elm and Crate & Barrel, hiring professional painters, and ordering expensive lighting and bathroom fixtures can quickly eat up your emergency fund.

You can always make improvements to your home down the line, but saving money up front will help you keep a reserve for any major problems, like your AC system breaking. Follow these tips to keep cash in the bank when decorating your new home:

Focus on the Important Items

It’s easy to get carried away when looking at gorgeous Persian rugs, fancy lamps, and antique dining room chairs, but they don’t make up the backbone of your home. Think about what pieces you use the most and spend the money where it matters. This usually includes items like:

  • A bed you (and your partner) enjoy sleeping in. Sleep is essential to a quality life, so don’t skimp on the quality of the mattress and bedframe.
  • A comfortable sofa you’ll love for years to come. Investing in a couch that you love is integral. You host people in your living room, watch TV, and relax on your sofa. You can reupholster a quality sofa over time to keep up with design changes.
  • Your dining room table can be a hotspot for entertaining activity if you’re a cook (or great at pretending to be one). This isn’t essential for everyone, but a good dining table is versatile for many activities.
  • An office chair and desk if you work from home. These two pieces in tandem can help back and shoulder pain from forming in the long run.

Save on the Accessories

Many other items in the home are available at affordable prices, and the quality isn’t detrimental to your aesthetic. Consider saving on indoor rugs, lamps, side and night tables, throw pillows, and other items. Local family and friends may be able to help you by donating hand-me-downs, or you can shop at thrift stores. If you need new furniture, there’s always IKEA, which has many essentials at reasonable prices. You don’t need to overspend on these items. Work out a budget for each room and don’t go over it. You can always purchase your dream coffee table another year.

Take a DIY Approach to Painting

When moving into a new home, there are two common situations with paint. One is that the previous homeowner painted everything neutral to appeal to you, the future buyer. The second is that the previous homeowner has painted the rooms in colors that you dislike. Either way, the time before move-in is the right time to paint. Spending thousands to hire professional painters eats into your decorating budget, so do it yourself. You can also apply this logic to other simple projects you want to do around the home. If your skillset allows you to DIY, save the money. If it’s something more complicated, like plumbing or electric, consult a professional.

When you move into a new home, it may seem like you’ll never finish unpacking and you’ll constantly be spending money on decorating. But you can save with these tips and by prioritizing what furniture is most important in your life.


Joining an HOA: What You Need to Know

by c21commonweath_ldowling 19. March 2018 10:34

If you’re in the process of buying a new home that’s part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you should be prepared for all that entails. You may not have considered the importance of an HOA in your home-buying factors. Most condominiums, townhouses, and some free-standing homes in planned developments are part of HOAs. When you join a community that has an HOA, you’re obligated to join it and pay monthly or annual fees. Ensure you know how the organization works, what your will fees cover, and what amenities you’ll receive. Homeowners’ associations aren’t for everyone, so make the right choice for your lifestyle. Here’s what you need to know about HOAs.

What Are My Dues For?

Homeowner’s associations come with monthly or annual dues, which can range in price depending on the quality and size of the property and amenities. Check with your Realtor to see what the HOA covers, such as:

  • Utilities (Water, Sewer, Gas, and Electric)
  • Internet and Cable TV
  • Trash Pickup
  • Home Insurance
  • Lawn Maintenance
  • A Gym, Pool, or Other Community Spaces

Compare the costs and amenities of the property you’re considering to other listings in the area. If you can, talk to members of the HOA to see how well it operates. There’s a difference between professionally managed homeowners’ associations and those governed by residents. A professional company can often save money in the long term by negotiating contracts and are more impartial when dealing with your neighbors.

What Are the Amenities and Restrictions?

After you’ve found out what your dues will be paying for, you should find out what additional amenities and restrictions come with your HOA membership. Are there significant limitations on what you can do in or around your home? Here are some questions we recommend asking:

  • Determine hours and guest policies for any communal areas like a pool, recreation center, parks, or game rooms.
  • What happens if you lose a key to access a security gate or clubhouse? Check the procedure for replacement.
  • Do you have street parking and can your guests park outside overnight? Figure out the rules on additional parking and outdoor storage.
  • Pet policies: how many pets are you allowed to have in your home and are there size or breed restrictions?

There are possibly additional amenities and restrictions you and your Realtor may not be aware of right away. Ask for a copy of the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) as well as By-Laws and Regulations to discover if the HOA is the right fit for you.

Homeowner’s associations can be a wonderful thing. They help manage your neighborhood, can maintain your yard, and keep homes looking consistent. But HOA rules can also be restrictive and feel expensive to some people. Discuss the pros and cons of the HOA with your Realtor to determine what the best choice is for your living situation.


6 Stats About Millennial Home Buyers That Realtors Must Know

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. March 2018 10:23

It seems like we’re regularly met by a barrage of conflicting information about home-buying Millennials (those individuals born between the early ‘80s and late ‘90s). One report will say that this young cohort is hesitant to enter the housing market, while another will say that buyers under the age of 35 are driving the housing market. One article may suggest that most Millennials want to keep renting close to city centers, and another will argue that Millennials are all flocking to the suburbs.

It can be challenging to sort out fact from fiction and to determine which statistics are most relevant to you as a buyer’s agent. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you: check out six of the most important statistics about Millennial home buyers below.

Millennials Are Fueling the Housing Market

In 2017, the national homeownership rate increased for the first time in 13 years, and Millennials were the driving force behind that boost. The homeownership rate for households headed by someone under the age of 35 increased from 34.7% in 2016 to 36% the following year. That may not sound like a big increase, but it represents the largest growth of any age group during that period.

Millennials have been slower to enter the housing market than previous generations, in large part thanks to barriers including student loan debt, low wages in the wake of the recession, and tightening credit requirements. But now that the oldest Millennials are in their mid-30s, they’re reaching a point where they can transition from renting to buying. Millennials are projected to be the largest home buying generation since Baby Boomers, which means it will be essential to cater to this generation’s needs and preferences in the coming years.

2 Out of 3 Millennials Plan to Sell Their Starter Home

Millennials are pragmatists when it comes to buying their first house, and most don’t expect to move into their dream home right away. 68% of Millennials say they see their first home as an investment to help them get the home they really want in the future. While the average homeowner will stay in their first house for 10 years before selling, the average Millennial homeowner will stay in their first home for just 6.

Millennials Are Group Most Likely to Consider Buying a Foreclosure

Millennials are more willing than older generations to consider buying a home that’s been foreclosed on by a bank. Foreclosures sell for 20% below market value on average, and these discounted prices can be a big incentive for young buyers who may be struggling to enter the housing market.

While a foreclosure can be a great deal, it’s important to educate Millennials about some of the challenges they should expect. Talk to Millennial buyers about the specialty inspections they should conduct before buying and the costs they’ll have to pay for repairs and maintenance after they close. It’s also a good idea to talk to young buyers about 203(k) loans that can help with extensive renovations.

Almost Half of Millennials Live in the Suburbs

While Millennials are often stereotyped as urban dwellers, most members of this generation are looking beyond city centers when buying their first home. According to a recent Zillow report, 47% of Millennials live in the suburbs, compared to 33% in cities and 20% in rural areas. Affordability is a major factor, as first-time buyers are frequently priced out of centrally-located city neighborhoods. Many Millennial buyers want more space for their money but also want access to urban amenities like local restaurants and walkable neighborhoods. Expect to see suburbs gradually transforming to meet these needs.

Millennial Home Buyers Are Group Most Likely to Research Online

95% of all home buyers do some research online, but that number goes up to 99% for Millennial buyers. 58% of Millennial homeowners found a home by doing research on a mobile device, while 76% have driven by a home after seeing it in an online ad. While the home search might start online, Millennials are still seeking the in-person help of real estate experts. 92% of Millennial homeowners purchased their home through a Realtor.

Myths About Home Buying Assistance Abound

87% of first-time home buyers say they would take advantage of a home financing program if they qualified, but 47% believe they’re ineligible. Additionally, 90% of first-time home buyers believe that their down payment must be at least 10% of a home’s price. In reality, the national average for a down payment is only 6%.

It’s important to help dispel these myths and educate young home buyers about their options. Many prospective home buyers may still be hesitating to enter the market because of perceived financial barriers, and as a Realtor, you can help them overcome these obstacles.


How to Avoid Home Buyer's Remorse

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. March 2018 10:10

Buyer’s remorse—that feeling of second-guessing something you’ve bought—often occurs after large purchases. And since a house is the largest purchase most people will ever make, home buyer’s remorse is a common experience. One 2017 survey of 2,000 homeowners found that 44 percent had some regrets about their current house or the process they went through to buy it.

You may experience that twinge of regret after buying a home, but it doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. Do your research, avoid rushing the process, and follow our additional tips for avoiding (or at least minimizing) home buyer’s remorse.

Avoiding Sources of Remorse Before You Buy


One of the most common causes of home buyer’s remorse is spending more than originally planned. Avoid this problem by setting a strict budget before you start looking at listings. If you start looking at listings before establishing your budget, you risk falling in love with a property that’s outside your price range, which could cause you to feel like you have to “settle” for something more affordable.

When establishing your budget, remember that it doesn’t have to be the maximum loan amount for which you’ve been pre-approved. You’ll need to decide on a budget that will allow you and your family to live comfortably—and have reasonable monthly mortgage expenses-- after you make your down payment. You should also budget for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance costs, and emergencies.  


You can’t change your neighborhood after buying a house, so do your research before you make an offer. Visit the neighborhood where you’re interested in buying during the day and at night so you know what the noise level is like. Go for a walk and talk to neighbors whenever you can. Locate the nearest grocery store, parks, restaurants, and other amenities that matter to you.


If you visit a listing in the middle of the day, you might think that your commute to work won’t be too bad. But what’s the commute like during rush hour? If possible, test out the commute in both directions at the times you normally travel to and from work. If the commute is longer than what you’re used to, you’ll have to decide if the home you’re considering is worth spending more time in transit.


Unexpected renovation costs can be a source of regret for many homeowners. If you’re planning to purchase a fixer upper, do the math on the renovation costs before you buy. Talk to contractors who can give you estimates, and research material costs for projects you plan to tackle on your own.

In addition to thinking about renovation costs, think about your comfort and sanity. Are you willing to live in a home with ongoing renovations? Do you have the time and energy required for big DIY projects? Be realistic in your expectations.

Minimizing Home Buyer’s Remorse After You Close   

Even if you’ve done your research and stuck to your budget, you may still feel some regret after the initial excitement of buying a home wears off. Remind yourself that this is normal and will likely pass. In the meantime, try these strategies to minimize buyer’s remorse:

  • Decorate your new home. Surround yourself with the things you love to make your new home feel like it’s truly yours.
  • Stop looking at listings. There’s no reason to keep looking at listings, and if you do, you may end up feeling like you’ve missed out on something.
  • Focus on what you love about your new home. There may be some imperfections, but there will also be features that you love—that’s why you bought the house, after all.


How to Plan a Budget for Home Renovations

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. March 2018 10:20

Budgeting for a home renovation project can be a tricky business. You have a vision in mind—a beautiful new bathroom or kitchen, for instance--but how do you determine what it’s going to cost? It’s important to consider all the included expenses and factor in a cushion for unexpected costs so that you don’t run out of money before the end of the project. By starting off with the right numbers, you can anticipate your expenses and ensure the renovation will be a good return on investment.

Step #1: Estimate Your Costs

What kind of renovation do you want? Different projects and rooms in your home will give you different returns on investment (ROIs). Kitchens and bathrooms are the most frequently used rooms in most homes and can be a good start toward remodeling. Sit down with an architect, contractor, or interior designer and determine the basic costs for the project. Get multiple bids for the project to ensure you’re getting a fair price. While most contactors’ fees will include some materials, you’ll need to choose your fixtures and finishes. Do some research on what items will cost and fill those costs in as you purchase them.

Step #2: Extra Expenses Like Taxes and Shipping

It’s easy to forget about important fees that come along with building materials. Taxes on your purchases can be as high as 10% in some areas. Large items like cabinets, countertops, and bathroom hardware come with expensive shipping or delivery fees. Maintain consistency and avoid surprises by budgeting for these items in your initial budget.

Step #3: Add a Cushion

Something will go wrong on the project. It might be an incorrect order, damage to your home’s structure, or some other unforeseen cost. Build in 10-15% extra for any eventualities that may occur, including delays. Depending on the scope of the project, the initial projection may be pushed back if there are delays on materials or construction problems. Understand that renovations are unpredictable, and you can’t control everything, but a cushion can help account for that.

Step #4: Stay the Course

It’s tempting to upgrade to the best of everything when renovating or tack on another “small project” because you’ve already started. Every time you change the plan, you’re adding additional lead time, costs, and complexity. Develop a plan with your architect or contractor and stick to it. Keeping it simple will help you stay focused and help the project run smoothly.

Don’t rush blindly into your next renovation. Whether you’re improving your home to sell it or planning your dream remodel, create a budget that can absorb any surprises. Your Realtor may be able to help you find experienced professionals in your area and direct you toward securing a home equity line of credit.


What Do Professional Home Stagers Do?

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. March 2018 10:03

Home staging is about creating a beautiful interior to sell your home. Your furniture and decor might seem perfect to you, but it’s important to display the right image to potential buyers. A professional home stager works to make your home shine—helping it look cleaner, brighter, and easy for a buyer to see themselves in. After you’ve cleaned, painted your home in neutral colors, and made repairs, hiring a stager can be a push to help sell your home for the best price. Talk to your Realtor for recommendations on the best home stagers in your market and get the “oomph” you need.

What Is a Home Stager?

Home stagers aren’t just personal decorators; they’re professional artists who can take a home and make it appeal to almost any buyer. A home stager has the skills of an interior designer, set decorator, and illusionist—all rolled into one. A home staging consultation may result in a simple rearrangement of furniture and removal of personal objects, but it can be so much more than that. Home stagers may recommend new paint, landscaping, and renting new furniture.

Why Should You Get Home Staging?

As a seller, you don’t want your home to sit on the market for months without offers. An experienced home stager can help increase your home’s appeal and decrease its time on the market. While staging is an investment—anywhere between $500-$5000 or more depending on the scope, region, and square footage of your home-- it can pay off quickly. If you want to make a big impact when selling your home, hire a home stager.

What Will a Home Stager Do for You?

Staging is about creating a scene for the buyer when they enter the home, either at a private showing or an open house. A home stager brings in their expertise and insights to appeal not only to buyers’ eyes but also to their sense of smell and touch as they tour your home. Some of their popular techniques include:

  • Renting furniture that will appeal to a variety of buyers
  • Using window coverings to add ambiance and warmth
  • Creating vignettes with furniture to highlight specific areas
  • Adding decorative elements that draw attention to selling points

Home stagers also bring in additional decorative elements that help potential buyers imagine themselves living there. Common elements include:

  • Throw Pillows
  • Plants
  • Baskets
  • Mirrors
  • Rugs
  • Fresh or Silk Flowers

A home stager’s job is to help your home look its best and appeal to the buyers in your area. Work with your Realtor to find an accredited home stager to bring your listing to the next level. You may be able to sell your home faster and for a better price with the help of a staging expert.


Affordable Design Trends to Try in 2018

by c21commonweath_ldowling 23. February 2018 10:11

We’re already beginning to see predictions for the biggest interior design trends of 2018, and many of us are eager to incorporate some of our favorites into our homes. But what if you don’t have the budget to install a farmhouse-inspired kitchen sink or buy a statement velvet couch?

Fortunately, many 2018 design trends can be implemented with a little DIY effort and a few accessories sourced from thrift stores or eBay. Here are our picks for some of the best low-cost design trends of 2018.

More Color in the Kitchen

All-white kitchens may be timeless, but they can also seem sterile and monotonous when overdone. After several years of white kitchens as the be-all and end-all, we’re starting to see bright colors making a comeback. Colors like coral, sunny yellow, and even olive green are beginning to find a place on walls, trim, cabinets, and window fixtures. And for those who don’t want to take the big step of adding bold colors to the kitchen, there’s good news: neutral shades like gray and blue are also seeing a surge in popularity. Try painting your upper cabinets a neutral shade to ease into a more colorful kitchen—and capitalize on the two-tone cabinet trend that’s still going strong.

Vintage Light Fixtures

Add personality to your home and enjoy the thrill of the hunt by sourcing vintage light fixtures from thrift stores, furniture consignment shops, or flea markets. You can also check sites like eBay and 1stDibs for a wide selection of hard-to-come-by fixtures at a reasonable price. Look for fixtures that match the existing aesthetic of your home. For example, if your home has a mid-century modern look, keep an eye out for well-made chandeliers and pendant lights from the ‘50s or ‘60s.

Oversized Geometric Art

Bold geometric patterns are popular this year, but if you aren’t ready to wallpaper your living room or buy a hexagon-patterned loveseat, there are alternatives. Oversized geometric wall art gives you the same effect as a statement wall with greater flexibility. Look for large canvas prints that come ready to hang (no frame required). Keep your wall from looking too busy by choosing a print with just a few large shapes or curved lines.

Statement Ceilings

Statement ceilings are another good alternative to the statement wall. Try giving your living room a new look by painting the ceiling a bright color or covering it with patterned wallpaper. However, if you’re getting ready to sell your home, this is one trend you might want to pass on—you have no way to know if your prospective buyers will like the same ceiling colors and patterns as you.

Décor That Doubles as Storage

The minimalist aesthetic is still popular this year, and one easy way to cut down on clutter is to look for functional décor that doubles as storage. You could, for example, place a vintage trunk or an ottoman with built-in storage at the foot of your bed, or add a small bar cart to your kitchen for additional counter space.

Concrete Accents

Concrete is becoming increasingly popular for tiles, countertops, and decorative accessories. Homeowners on a budget have reason to celebrate, as concrete is a relatively inexpensive building material. Those looking for small ways to incorporate concrete into their home design can start with accessories like planters, bookends, and decorative bowls. Those looking to go a little bigger could try concrete end tables, kitchen countertops, or even a new hearth.

If you’re thinking about trying any of the biggest design trends of 2018, take a minute to reflect on what will work well with your home’s aesthetic and continue to look good for years. And ultimately, you’ll need to decide what design trends you’ll be happy to see whenever you walk through the door.