8 Simple Ways to Get Your Outdoor Spaces Ready for Summer

The weather’s getting warmer, summer is (finally!) just around the corner, and we’re all staying at home more than ever before. If you plan on spending your days relaxing in nature, now is the perfect time to give your outdoor space a little upgrade. And if you’re thinking about selling soon, you might even impress some summer buyers, too.

These Easy Projects Can Totally Transform Your Outdoor Space

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to get your outdoor space looking stellar. Here are eight quick, cost-effective DIY projects to help usher your yard, patio, porch, or balcony into the new season.

Do a little tidying

Gardening supplies

Did you forget to do your spring cleaning? Before you start on any big projects, take some time to tidy up your outdoor spaces. Sweep away any dust on your balcony, patio, or deck, and clean off your furniture. If you have a yard, be sure to clear out any lingering debris, trim back your trees or shrubs, and uproot any pesky patches of weeds.

Perform regular maintenance

Late spring is the perfect time to tackle that maintenance to-do list you’ve been putting off! Although these routine tasks might seem mundane, they’re essential to keeping your outdoor space in tip-top shape. Cleaning out your gutters, spraying for bugs and pests, and powerwashing are just a few common projects that you’ll want to handle before the weather gets too hot.

Give your lawn some extra attention

Mowing the lawn

There are a few steps you should be taking right now if you want to keep your lawn green all summer long. Aerating and fertilizing during late spring is key to keeping your yard healthy. When you start mowing, be sure to not cut more than one third of the grass height in one sitting. You can prevent this by increasing the blade height on your mower.

Add new landscaping

You don’t have to be a professional landscaper to add some new greenery to your outdoor space—but be sure to do some research before you start planting. Try to select flowers, shrubs, or trees that do well in your area, and consider how much sunlight they’ll get throughout the day. If you have a balcony or patio, incorporating a few potted plants can add a fun (and low-maintenance) splash of color.

Plant a garden

Raised garden bed

Have you always wanted to harvest your own fruits, vegetables, or herbs? Raised plant beds make it easy to create a garden just about anywhere, and they’re an easy DIY project that you can tackle before the summer months. Just build or buy the beds, fill them with soil, pick your plants, and start growing!

Invest in some outdoor furniture

Good patio furniture offers both comfort and function, and just a few updates can transform your outdoor space into a whole new living area. Consider investing in some staple pieces, like a table and chairs or a loveseat, depending on the size of your deck or patio. Many retailers will even ship the furniture straight to your front door.

Incorporate new lighting

Outdoor string lights

If you want to take advantage of your outdoor space during the day and at night, new lighting might just do the trick. You don’t have to get too fancy (unless you want to!)—simply replacing some fixtures or hanging a strand of trendy string lights will elevate the entire area. If you really want to beat the heat, you might even install an outdoor ceiling fan on your covered patio or deck.

Getting Ready to Buy or Sell This Summer?

Whether you’re thinking about moving next week, next month, or next year, you can trust Linda Craft & Team to help you navigate every step of the process. Contact us today at 919-235-0007 to learn more about how we can put our 350+ years of combined experience to work for you here in the Triangle!

4 Ways to Maximize the Potential of Your Home’s Flex Space

Are you stuck at home and looking to take on a DIY project? If you have an extra room or a small nook that you just don’t know how to use, try tackling a mini home makeover! Here are some out-of-the-box ways to transform surplus flex space into a room that you’ll actually use…and will maybe even appeal to future buyers.

Here’s How to Take Advantage Your Flex Space

A flex space is an area in your home that can be customized and used in a number of different ways. They’re designed to be flexible (hence the name), and their function can be changed depending on the kind of room you need.

Looking for some inspiration to really spruce up your flex space? Here are a few ideas that won’t require much money or time.

Incorporate a home office

Home office desk

Have you recently started working from home? If so, it might be worth setting up your own home office. Even if you don’t have a separate room for your workspace, you can easily create a dedicated office with what you have.

If you really need a place to work, start by moving around some furniture or finding a quieter area in your house that doesn’t get used often. Remember—this is supposed to be an office you’ll want to spend time in, so be sure to add more than just a desk. Some great lighting, storage for supplies, and a comfy couch or task chair can tie the whole workspace together.

Create a home gym

Workout equipment

Turning your flex space into a home gym is a practical way to show off its potential as a multi-use space. And if you’ve been slacking off on your workouts recently, having a dedicated active area can help you stay fit without leaving home.

To get started, try adding some mirrors, a wall-mounted weight rack, and exercise equipment that you’ll actually use (like resistance bands, a stability ball, or dumbbells). You can also incorporate a television or child-safe mats to easily turn your workout spot into a media room or play area!

Make the most of smaller spaces

Woman reading in a hammock

Does your home have a smaller room or nook that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose? You can make the most of these awkward spaces by transforming them into whatever you want—the options really are endless here, so feel free to get creative.

If you aren’t sure where to start, just let your imagination run wild. If you love to read, consider creating a small library or reading nook where you can relax with your favorite book. Want to pick up a new skill? Having a dedicated hobby room makes it easy to spend time doing what you love. You can even design a designated space for your pets or a playroom for your children—it’s all up to you!

Add tons of storage

Shelving in a home office

No matter what you choose to do with your flex area, it’s crucial to have enough storage space. You never know what you might use a particular room for in the future—but closets, shelving, and cabinets are always useful additions.

Even if a room doesn’t have a dedicated closet, you can create stylish storage by adding built-ins or tall bookcases. For a more minimalist look, wall mounted shelves are the way to go. You can even incorporate storage as part of your decor by investing in a trendy ottoman or a set of matching baskets.

Getting Ready to Sell?

If you’re thinking about listing your home and want to maximize the potential of your flex space, Linda Craft and Team would be happy to help! While it may be impossible to predict how current events will affect the Raleigh market, you can still sell quickly and for top dollar—just give us a call for all the details.

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Decor for Spring

The days are getting longer, temperatures are starting to climb, and the trees are finally starting to turn green again. As spring approaches, it’s a great time to freshen up your decor and add a splash of color to your space. Looking for some quick, easy, and affordable design tips? Here are a few ways to welcome spring into your home…especially if you’re thinking about selling in the next few months!

Our Top Spring Decor Tips

Do Some Spring Cleaning

Person cleaning a kitchen

Before you make any decor updates, it’s crucial to get every inch of your home looking pristine. Spring cleaning involves more than just a little scrubbing—you should take some time to reorganize, too!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, just start by working room by room and removing any clutter. It may also be beneficial to make “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away” piles to ensure that everything stays in order. After you’ve freed up some space, break out the cleaning supplies and banish any dust, cobwebs, and grime. Don’t have time to do it all yourself? Consider hiring a professional cleaner or organizer.

Incorporate a Little Greenery

Roses in a vase

Want to breathe new life into your home? Take some inspiration from nature! Adding freshly-cut or potted flowers and greenery can turn your house into a home—and if you’re selling, your buyers might appreciate the extra pop of color.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider picking up a ready-made bouquet or some low-maintenance houseplants for your living room, kitchen, or bedroom. Placing them in trendy planters and decorative vases can create an added level of style. For a final splash of spring, try hanging a wreath of seasonal blossoms or greenery on your front door to welcome guests inside.

Add New Accessories

Blue-themed living room

Take some time to get rid of your winter accessories and usher in a brand-new season. Light and bright colors, linens, textured pottery, and raw wood accents are all on-trend this spring, and adding these small details can really elevate your home’s style.

Start by incorporating some new accent pillows and paring down your current accessories in favor of a more curated collection. This is particularly important if you’re getting ready to sell; you’ll want to depersonalize your space, but it should still feel like a home. Hanging some different art on your walls can also help you transition to spring—we recommend floral prints or paintings.

Freshen Up with Inviting Scents

Lit candle in a living room

Is your home smelling a little musty after a long winter? Throw open the windows and freshen up with some invigorating scents…especially if you’ll be inviting buyers into your home.

Before you integrate spring fragrances, however, be sure to eliminate any unpleasant odors first. Once you’ve deodorized, swap out those holiday candles in favor of some fresher aromas. Lavender, fresh cotton, and lemongrass are all great choices, and they won’t be too overpowering.

Don’t Neglect Your Outdoor Space!

Spring patio with a table and chairs

As you prep for the warmer months ahead, the outside of your home matters just as much as the inside. Your outdoor space can really make or break a sale during the spring, as buyers are probably ready to spend some time outside. Even if you aren’t selling soon, your yard, porch, deck, or patio could probably use a little extra attention.

Brush off the winter blues by sweeping away any debris, addressing brown spots on your lawn, and getting rid of any dead or wilting plants. You might also want to incorporate some new outdoor furniture on your deck or patio to show off its potential.

Ready Sell Your Home This Spring?

If you’re looking for spring decorating tips because you’re planning on selling your home soon, we’d love to help you navigate every step of the process. Feel free to reach out to Linda Craft and Team, REALTORS® for more staging strategies and seller tips—we can even help you list your Raleigh home with just a few clicks!

3 Oft-Overlooked Financial Advantages to Homeownership

Buying a home comes with a lot of perks, both financial and personal—building equity, finding a place to belong long-term, becoming part of a community—but there are some overlooked financial advantages to homeownership, too.

Financial Advantages to Owning You Didn’t Know About

financial advantages to homeownership

If you’re still renting or haven’t owned a home recently, you might not know about all the hidden benefits to owning! Here are three financial advantages to homeownership you might not’ve thought about.

Someday, you won’t have a housing payment

paying off a home loan

When you first buy a home, you’ll likely have a mortgage, and it will probably be comparable to your current rent payment. But starting from that first monthly payment, your money will no longer be going into your landlord’s pocket; it’ll be paying down your mortgage.

And believe it or not, if you stay in your home long enough, there will come a day when you don’t have a monthly housing payment.

Homeowners get tax breaks

tax benefits of homeownership

As a renter, you might not be aware that owning a home comes with a few nice tax benefits. In fact, both the mortgage interest and your property taxes are tax-deductible—which can be a pretty big break when tax season rolls around! And it’s certainly a benefit that renters cannot enjoy.

Monthly housing costs are predictable

budgeting monthly costs

When you rent a home, the amount you pay per month depends on the rates your landlord sets, and since most leases are terms of a year or two, that rate can change from year to year. But when you own a home, such is not the case.

The majority of homeowners use a fixed-rate loan, which means that your rates stay the same throughout the duration of your loan. Your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance may fluctuate over the years, but what you pay for your mortgage will not. Not only does that make budgeting a breeze, but it also ensures that you’re protected against things like inflation and skyrocketing rental rates.

Convinced to Buy?

If you’re ready to buy a home in the Triangle, or even if you’re still on the fence, Linda Craft & Team is here to help! Let us put our expert local knowledge, our extensive network, and our 350+ years of combined experience to work to find the perfect home for you.

2020 Vision: The Top Home Features You Can Expect to See Next Year

The year is winding down fast, and with the upcoming rush of the holidays, it’ll be 2020 before you know it. With a new year comes new trends, and you can expect a number of home design shake-ups both big and small.

Here are the top home features that are sure to be priorities for buyers in 2020!

Separate Laundry Rooms

A person carrying knitted blankets.

It might be a little unexpected, but laundry rooms were one of the most highly sought-after home features of the year, with a whopping 91% of buyers saying they’re essential. Many people also prefer the laundry room to be on the ground floor and sectioned off from the rest of the home.

In 2020, you can expect to see buyers continue to gravitate toward homes with designated laundry rooms—try brainstorming ways to bring more focus to yours!

Industrial Designs

An Edison bulb hanging in an industrial space.

The rustic farmhouse motif was certainly popular in 2019, but it doesn’t quite have the staying power of an industrial design. Next year, you’ll continue to see buyer’s seek out interior design elements like artisanal light fixtures, copper and metal hardware, concrete accents, and exposed brick.

Homes that already have these components incorporated will be a major plus—and while it’s a little tough to add brick walls and concrete accents if you don’t have them, there are other simple ways to industrialize your space!

Storage Space

A drawer filled with t-shirts.

As more and more buyers start moving towards smaller homes, efficient storage solutions become a high priority. In 2020, you can expect buyers to be on the hunt for homes that showcase their storage potential.

Built-in shelves along the wall, storage under the stairs, walk-in pantries—no matter your square footage, every inch counts. If you’re a seller, you can also use this to your advantage, staging your home in a way that emphasizes its efficient use of space. Think: a few extra storage cubes in your laundry room, a new shelving unit on an underused wall, or roll-out cubbies under your bed.

Green Features 

A light bulb sitting in green grass.

According to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders, green features have shot up to become one of the most sought-after features in a new home. In particular, over half of the survey respondents would invest nearly $10,000 for green features that would save them money, such as ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and windows, improved insulation, and efficient lighting. Other priorities included bettering the air quality in the home with things like dehumidification systems and electronic air cleaners.

If you’re planning to sell next year and have a little extra money to work with, consider making upgrades that’ll appeal to your buyers’ wallet.

Natural Finishes

A brick wall.

Next year, we’ll start seeing a move toward more unique homes, and nothing sets your space apart from the rest like natural features, including river rock, reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and steel accents. These elements don’t necessarily have to come with the home even—staging your space with a rustic wood bookcase or a contemporary geode end table will do the trick.

If you’re preparing your place for a showing or just need a few cohesive decorating tips, sprinkling plants and greenery can help balance out the heaviness of these natural elements.

Pastel Colors

A white chair in front of a Millenial Pink wall.

While 2019 may have been a year of bold colors, 2020 will usher in a muted era. Pastel shades like the popular Millennial Pink, Neo Mint, and Buxton Blue will be giving interiors a softer aura, reminiscent of 1970s-era home trends.

Additionally, accent walls have started slipping in favor, replaced instead by more strategic splashes of color, like painted doors and cabinets, two-tone walls, and accent furniture pieces.

Don’t Fall Behind in the Latest Real Estate Trends

Each year brings new fads to the real estate world, and keeping up with them plays a major role in impressing buyers. Need a little help staying in the know? We’ve got you covered! Follow along with our blog for the latest updates, and check out our specialized resources for all of your buying and selling needs.

Have a few more questions? We’re just a phone call away.

The Top 5 Exterior Areas to Fix up Before Listing Your Home this Fall

You’ve probably heard that spring and summer are the best times to sell your home, and we’ll be honest: they do have their perks. But with mortgage rates remaining low and motivated buyers steadily flowing into the market, this fall is shaping up to be a pretty profitable selling season.

If you’re gearing up to list your home soon, then you’ll need to pay extra attention to your outdoor areas. Here are the top five spaces to give a little TLC to before you sell!

The Lawn

An old rake leaning against the wall of a home.

Once you’ve raked up the leaves, you might think your lawn is all taken care of. But there’s much more to fall lawn care than bagging up leaves! If temperatures haven’t majorly dropped by the time you list, you’ll need to keep mowing your lawn—it’ll continue growing until the first hard frost.

If you’ve got a few bare spots in your yard, fall is also the perfect time for over-seeding! Since the ground is relatively warm but the sun isn’t quite as powerful as in the summer, growing conditions are better than ever. Just be sure you’re providing your lawn with plenty of water, and those sparse spots should start to fill in.

The Garden

Pumpkins and gourds sitting on a table.

Since you’re planning a move, you probably don’t want to start planting new veggies, but there are other ways to give your garden a fresh look. First, you’ll want to make sure all of your leftover plants from spring and summer are cleared out, and your plot is weed-free. Once that’s taken care of, it’s time for the fun part!

Picked up a few pumpkins or gourds from the farmers’ market? Set them out near your doorstep. Need a home for a scarecrow or two? Give them a perch on either side of the garden. You can fill in any blank space with potted plants like mums or sunflowers or a decorative holiday banner!

The Roof 

Leaves in a gutter.

With trees shedding leaves and dead branches, you’ve probably got a decent amount of brush and foliage dotting your roof. Now’s the time to pull out the ladder and do a clean sweep. Plus, it’s the perfect chance to get a look at the condition of your shingles and see if any need replacing!

While you’re up there, be sure to sweep out your gutters, as well. There’s a good chance the extra debris has them more clogged up than usual, which could lead to flooding or exterior damage. Clearing them out will prevent any issues, and show buyers that you go the extra mile in maintaining your home.

The Porch

Fall decor including a wreath, potted plants, and gourds, all placed around a small bench.

The crowning glory of your home’s exterior, the porch should act as the first taste of what the inside of the home has to offer. You want to strike the perfect balance between warm and welcoming and clean and clutter-free!

First, take care of spiffing the space up by sweeping the floors, ringing out the welcome mat, and dusting off any outdoor furniture. If you have one too many chairs or a crowded collection of potted plants, you should remove some of the clutter.

Then, add a little character! Put a few pumpkins by door, set out a scented candle or two, swap out your porch light for a warmer wattage, and update your throw pillows—just be careful not to overdo it. Since your porch space is likely relatively small, a little goes a long way.

The Front Door

A welcome sign and a small wreath on a white front door.

It’s only a small portion of your exterior, but if you play your cards right, your front door can be one of the most eye-catching parts of your home. Nothing draws attention like a fresh coat of paint, so you should consider picking a shade that pops and matches your siding—like a warm red or a bold blue. At the very least, you should use furniture wax or dish soap to scrub out the dinginess.

Once you’ve revamped your door, it’s time to accessorize! Since it’s fall, you should be able to easily find a seasonal wreath to hang. If you really want to go the extra mile, think about replacing your house number or knocker with some shiny new hardware.

Need a Few More Tips?

If you want to make sure your home is staged to impress—in all areas—then we can help. In addition to our home-staging resources, we’d also be more than happy to do a walkthrough of your home and recommend a few personalized decor suggestions or DIY improvements.

From helping you stage to navigating closing, we’ll be there to help you through the selling process, every step of the way. Whenever you’re ready to get started, we’re just a phone call away!

Is a Home Inspection Really Necessary? Why You Shouldn’t Skip This Important Step

Picture this: you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. It’s got all the features you’ve been searching for, and it’s in the perfect neighborhood. There can’t possibly be anything wrong with it…right?

Though technically optional, a home inspection is highly recommended by most realtors, as it can save you thousands of dollars—or even prevent you from making a costly mistake all together. Here are some reasons why you need a home inspection before you move in—even if you don’t see anything wrong on the surface.

You Could Avoid Expensive Repairs

Person making repairs with an electric drill.

This is probably the biggest advantage of a home inspection. Certain problems can cost thousands to fix and may not be immediately visible. Wondering what kind of issues a home inspector can find and how much they’ll cost? Here are some of the biggest issues uncovered during home inspections (and typical costs to fix):

HVAC replacement: $4,000 – $12,000

Leaky roof: $300 – $2,000 for basic repair, $4,000 – $20,000+ for advanced repair

Foundation issues: $4,000 – $10,000

A great home inspector will fully sweep the home and point out any problems or potential issues. If there are any big-ticket expenses, you may want to reevaluate your purchase.

You’ll Protect Your Wallet

Person calculating expenses and creating a graph.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and a good investment will generate more capital than what you initially paid. While a well-maintained home in a prime location can be a fantastic investment, expensive repairs can turn it into a financial disaster.

Once you have an inspection report detailing all of the issues with the home, you can evaluate the cost of repairs to determine if it’s a good deal. If you aren’t satisfied, you can walk away without losing much money.

You Gain a Negotiation Tool

People with laptop exchanging a folder.

While not all properties will require major repairs, even new construction homes may have issues you’ll want to take care of before moving in. You can use your inspection report as a negotiation tool to potentially lower the price of the home.

There are a few directions you can go from here. One option is to ask for money off of the price of the home so you can complete the repairs yourself. On the flip side, you can also ask the sellers to make the fixes as a condition of the sale. Either way, you’ll be saving yourself money in the long run.

You Get the Full Picture

Roof of red house with window.

While you may be in love with a home, it’s hard to know what potential issues to look for if you’re not a licensed professional. Think of a home inspection like a check-up, and the home inspector like a doctor—it’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the health of a home, from the roof down to the foundation.

The inspector can diagnose all kinds of problems and tell you what needs to be fixed (and for how much). After the inspection, you’ll be handed a comprehensive report that gives you a full picture of the home’s condition, allowing you a more realistic look at the details that you might not have noticed before.

Ready to Buy Your Next Home?

Buying a home can be a difficult decision, so make sure you have the tools you need to make a well-informed decision. For tips on smooth sailing during the buying process, give us a call so we can chat. Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® have got the resources you need to make the right choice.

Haven’t started the buying process yet? Check out our specialized search tool to find the home of your dreams, and let us know when you’re ready to get started.

Kicking Clutter to the Curb: Transform Your Home with These 4 Decluttering Tips

We’ve all been there. One day, you look around your house, and there’s just So. Much. Stuff. Stuff in boxes, stuff on the walls, stuff in the corners—just…stuff. If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’re going to have to deal with all that accumulated clutter eventually. Luckily, there are plenty of simple strategies for getting the job done!

Arm yourself for the Crusade Against the Clutter, and use these top tips to transform your home before selling.

Start Early

A to-do list.

If you aren’t prepared, things can quickly get overwhelming. After all, you’re not only getting your home ready to sell, but you’re also packing things up, finding a new home, and dealing with your finances. It makes sense that decluttering your home isn’t first on your list, but it’s one of the most important steps!

Before you list your home, you want the space to be ready to wow buyers from the second they walk through the door. If you kick off your decluttering months in advance, you’ll be in much better shape come listing time.

Expand Your Storage

An organized silverware drawer.

For many people, clutter accumulates simply because they don’t know what they actually have. An easy way to fix this issue and make your home more organized is by coming up with an intentional storage solution.

Hit the store and pick up some sliding storage and plastic tubs, then label each unit and keep it stored anyway until needed. That way, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Never worry about misplaced holiday decorations or a surplus of school supplies ever again! Plus, a lot of your stuff will already be neatly packed away come moving time.

Take It Little by Little

A man and woman carrying boxes.

Decluttering can be a long process, filling up nights and weekends and free time—especially if you put it off until the last minute. Luckily, if you start ahead of time, you’ll have the luxury of taking it little by little. And not just one room at a time—we mean really little, like an hour or two hours spent on just the kitchen cabinets or bedroom closets.

You can even make it fun! Get everybody in the house together and play a game of 12-12-12. The rules are simple: walk through the house and find 12 items you want to keep, 12 items you want to get rid of, and 12 items you want to sell/donate. You’d be surprised how quickly you can reduce your clutter after a few rounds, and it only takes a couple of minutes!

Make it FAST

Clutter.

For the last tip, we’ve gotten the inside scoop from professional organizer, Peter Walsh. Walsh says that decluttering is as simple as remembering this short acronym:

Fix a time. Plan ahead, and find a time that works for everyone in the house—and make attendance mandatory!

Anything not used in twelve months. If you haven’t used it in a year, then you probably don’t need it. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I need it? Is it valuable to me? Is it worth the space it’s taking up? If no, then kick it to the curb.

Someone else’s stuff. Still have that borrowed tupperware? Give it back. Holding onto things that family members have left behind? Send it their way. If it’s not yours, find a new home for it!

Trash. It’s easy to get sentimental and hold onto things that are well past their expiration date (metaphorically speaking). Don’t be afraid to take the plunge—and maybe even go overboard—and trash some of your older belongings. If you don’t want to go full in and trash it, then you can always donate it to a good cause.

Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Decluttering is just one small step in the selling journey—albeit a fairly time-consuming one. Luckily, we’re here to help you carry the load! Give us a call to learn a few more tips for getting rid of your clutter and staging your home for success.

In the meantime, feel free to explore our additional selling resources, like our neighborhood sold report and Comparative Market Analysis, and let us know when you’re ready to get started!

Mortgage 101: What To Know Before You Apply

Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly.

Know How Much You Can Spend

A person holding up money.

If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage.

Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.

Get Your Finances in Order

Statistics on a laptop.

Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers.

Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!

What You’ll Need to Apply

Paperwork.

In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:

  • W2s/tax returns
  • Photo ID
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments)
  • Gift letters

Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand.

Find the Right Mortgage

Three women pointing at a laptop.

Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:

  • Conventional/Fixed-rate:  The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
  • Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
  • FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.

These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!

Choose the Right Lender

When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options.

Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know!

Still Have Questions?

That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help.

Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!

The 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’ve probably read tons of articles all about what you should be doing…but what about what you shouldn’t be doing? After all, selling your home is a huge financial decision, and a misstep could mean losing out on your hard-earned profit.

Don’t let something as easy to fix as not staging or pricing incorrectly throw off the success of your sale! Here are the top five mistakes to avoid when selling your home.

Setting an Unrealistic Price

A man looking at his laptop.

It might come as a surprise, but pricing a home is tricky. Not only do you have to take into account what homes around yours have recently sold for (or, in other words, what buyers are willing to pay), but you also need to know how to value any updates and improvements you’ve made. Plus, you want your home to be priced so that it pops up in as many online searches as possible. When it comes to finding that magic number, sellers’ emotions often cloud the ability to accurately price a home.

So you’ll just use an automatic estimator, and that’ll take care of things, right? Well, only if you’re okay with using outdated data and not taking into account any upgrades you’ve made. The best way to get a price that guarantees you’ll maximize your investment? Enlisting the help of an experienced local agent. 

Ignoring Major Repairs (or Making the Wrong Ones)

A man fixing a sink.

During the inspection process, your home will be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb. Any things you’ve been avoiding, like leaky faucets, outdated water heaters, or water damage in the ceilings, will be noted and shared with buyers. Additionally, if there are any major necessary repairs that you didn’t disclose ahead of time, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble—or with a cancelled sale on your hands.

Limiting Showings & Failing to Stage

An iPad sitting on a coffee table in a living room.

You’re selling your home, but you want to sell it on your terms. You don’t want to have showings every weekend or on short notice, and you don’t want to have to rearrange furniture or remove decor for staging. While changing your home or lifestyle to accommodate buyers might seem like a major hassle, being inflexible is only going to hurt you in the long run.

Buyers are going to want to see your home, sometimes more than once, and it needs to be looking its best if you want to get serious (and competitive) offers. In fact, staged homes have been shown to sell almost 90% faster and for a 20% higher profit than non-staged homes!

Letting Your Emotions Get in the Way

A woman and a child playing on a tablet.

You’ve made a lot of memories in your home, and the space likely holds indescribable value to you. So hearing people walk through the house and point out all of the flaws—then not make an offer—can be draining. A good rule of thumb for selling? Think of the process as a business transaction, and think of yourself as a salesperson, not a homeowner. Creating that divide will not only improve your emotional state, but it’ll also help you see exactly how your home can be better than it is.

Not Hiring an Agent

People meeting at a table.

Thinking of listing For Sale by Owner to avoid agent commission fees? In reality, selling FSBO can actually COST you money in the long run;. according to a 2016 study by the National Association of Realtors®, the average price for a FSBO home was around $185,000—which is $60,000 less than the average price of a home listed by an agent ($245,000).

Aside from pricing, there’s a lot more that an agent can help you with. They’ll come up with a marketing plan for your home, suggest personalized staging strategies, conduct open houses and showings for you, and guide you through any problems or roadblocks along the way, all of which will take a load of work and stress off of your shoulders.

Ready to List Your Home?

Feeling a little intimidated by the home-selling process? Don’t worry—we’re here to help! Not only can we give you a few more pointers on what you should and shouldn’t do, but we’ll also be around to guide you through every aspect of the sale, from listing to showings to closing.

Ready to learn a little more about what it takes to sell for top dollar? Just give our team a call to get started!