What Not To Do When House Hunting


Don’t Do These Things When Buying a House

Are you planning to make your first home purchase? When you decide to buy a home, it is easy to get swept away by emotion. The idea of having your own place, where you can choose what to do whenever you want, is empowering.

However, don’t let the emotion take control and allow you to make a decision that you may regret.

Here is a list of the top things NOT to do when house hunting to help you avoid major pitfalls.

Follow the advice along with asking smart home buying questions, and you should find yourself in a much better position when all is said and done.

House Hunting

Make Sure to Know What you DO NOT WANT as Well as What You Need

People often fall into the trap of buying a home based on one or two things, such as just the price or maybe the location, without considering the house in context.

It is important to avoid homes that have the things you know for sure you do not want.

For example, if you hate yard work and your outdoor tool arsenal consists of a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, buying a home with a large yard and numerous shrubs would likely be a bad idea for you.

Along those same lines, if you are married with two young children and another child on the way, buying a 2-bedroom house or even a 3-bedroom house may not be the best option for you. Your family is growing and will need a lot of space in the coming years.

Before looking at homes, decide on what you must have in a place. These should be non-negotiable things. Then make a list of things you would like to have but could live without.

These 2 lists of features should help you narrow down your selections.

Do Not Look Too Quickly at a Home

Whether it is viewing an Open House or making an appointment with an agent to look at a home, you should take your time.

Walk through the home to identify the major sections. Take time to review the master bedroom, the bathroom, and the closets. These areas can cause quite a bit of stress if they are not large enough or have a bad design.

Stand in the living room and picture your belongings and your day-to-day activities in that space. Walk to the kitchen and take notes as to the size of the area as well as how things are laid out.

Step outside and explore the yard, both front and back. Can you see yourself happily living in this spot? Are there any major problems that would make you miserable if you had this view or regularly heard these noises?

This will be your home for at least a few years. Make sure you are happy now with the place before you ever hang the first picture.

Don’t Get Opinions from Too Many People

It is always a good idea to get input from people that have purchased a home. Whether it is a friend or relative or a co-worker, learning from other people’s home buying mistakes is always a wise move.

However, nobody is going to be exactly like you. Each person you speak to will have their likes, dislikes, and opinions.

If you are married with a small child, the opinions of a permanent bachelor may not line up with your house goals. Ask for input but take the advice with a grain of salt as well.

It is Highly Unlikely You Will Find a Perfect Home

If you are not building the home of your dreams with a contractor, every home you view will likely have at least one or two things you wish to change.

It could be something small, like wanting a double vanity in the master bedroom. Or it could be something vital, like that extra bedroom you need for your family’s size.

As mentioned before, using your list of crucial things for your needs will help you decide on the right house.

Don’t Overlook the Neighborhood

You cannot pick your family, but you can pick your new neighborhood.

You must spend a bit of time getting familiar with the place that you will sleep every night.

Researching the neighborhood is a crucial part of the home buying process.

Are most of the homes tidy and well kept, or do you see many messy properties?

Do you see homes owned by people in a similar life stage as you, or does there appear to be a big age gap?

How loud is the closest neighbor? Can you hear their tv, or worse, can you hear them arguing?

All of this information is something you will have to gather on your own. No smartphone app or website shows the best neighborhoods based on a few specific requirements.

Trying to Find a Home Without a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can be your most valuable asset when looking for a home.

First of all, they can review your list of needs and weed out homes that simply won’t match what you expect in your new place. They can also locate all the homes that will match your needs within a certain area not to waste time looking at homes in the wrong location.

Mort importantly, they are connected to new listings. When a home becomes available for sale, the agent can notify you and give you a chance to see the home while the sellers are anxious to move the property.

Going House Shopping Before Talking to a Mortgage Lender

We saved the most important step for last in hopes that it will stick with you.

The biggest mistake you will make in shopping for a house is reviewing homes without first talking to your mortgage lender.

You need to know how much home you can afford, plain and simple. Your lender can review your finances, explain your mortgage program options, and provide you with a pre-approval letter.

The pre-approval lets real estate agents know that you are serious about purchasing a house and that your offer can be taken seriously.

It also provides more info for the real estate agent when researching which homes are right for your needs.

Final Thoughts On Things To Avoid When House Hunting

Using these tips should help get you in the right frame of mind when looking at homes. It should also prepare you for the upcoming process and help you to avoid some issues.

Once you’re done with your purchase you can focus on making some nice improvements to bump up the value.

Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of what not to do when house hunting.

The Countdown Is On: 5 Tips for Moving This Summer Post-COVID


How to Move During The Summer Post Covid-19

Are you going to be moving this summer? Whether you are moving from a small apartment or a large home you will want to be well prepared.

Moving to a new place is stressful enough during the best of times, but here are some tips that’ll help make moving this summer post-COVID a little easier.

COVID-19 has thrown our lives in chaos, but the vaccine rollout gives people more confidence to go out there and live their lives. People are getting vaccinated and are going out to see friends and family.

Folks are making plans to go on a vacation. Life is slowly returning to normal, and we’re starting to look forward to the future and are making plans accordingly.

This includes packing up and moving to a new home, be it in the suburbs, a large city, small rural towns, or anywhere in between (although 62% of real estate agents who took part in HomeLight’s Q1 2021 survey say supercities in warmer climates are likely to see an increased number of buyers).

The trick about moving in a world post-COVID is knowing how to do so safely because only 31% of Americans are fully vaccinated (one-third of adults have at least received their first) so far.

Today, we want to share our top five tips on how to move this summer Post-COVID so you can do so safely and efficiently.

Tips For Moving During Covid-19

Tip #1: Plan ahead and make reservations early

When you need to sell your home quickly, you may not have the time to plan ahead. However, if you know you’re going to be moving in advance, it’s always a good idea to have a game plan.

Make reservations with the moving company (or UHaul if you’re renting a moving truck) as soon as you can.

If you’re moving far away, ask the real estate agent you’re working with when would be the best time to make arrangements.

Also, make sure you have enough money to cover moving costs. Summertime is the most popular time of year to move, and weekends and popular weeks go quickly and are more expensive.

We recommend setting aside enough money to cover the possibility of higher rental fees for vans and handcarts (they aren’t always included with the van rental).

You’ll also want to consider investing in moving insurance if you’re hiring a moving company. This insurance will give you compensation if the moving company loses or damages any of your belongings.

Tip #2: Pack electronics separately

This should go without saying, but always pack your electronics separately and protect them with bubble wrap. You don’t want that expensive flat-screen television to get damaged.

The same goes for computers, laptops, camera equipment, radios, and so forth. Oh, and don’t forget to collect all of your chargers, plugs, and whatnot! You can keep them organized by labeling each cord with some masking tape or something similar.

Tip #3: Mix light and heavy objects in the same box

You’d be surprised how many people will load heavy items all in one box. Things like books, records, movies, and even kitchen items can get pretty heavy when you pack them into the same box. Instead of doing this, spread the items out.

Put a few heavy items in the bottom of a box and then put lighter objects on top. It’ll distribute the weight, so you’re not lifting something that’s too heavy to handle comfortably.

Also, you might think that you can save money by using garbage bags for clothes, towels, and bedding, but you’d be surprised by how heavy these items can get!

When you use garbage bags, you run the risk of the bag breaking due to the weight, whereas you can reinforce a cardboard box with duct tape.

Bonus tip: You can go to any store and ask if they have any boxes with handles that you could have. You could also use the UHaul Exchange, which is a message board that lets people ask others if they have any boxes or moving supplies they could give.

UHaul also offers other programs such as the Armed Forces Connection and College Connection which customers can use to save money by sharing rides, storage units, or rental trucks. It’s a great program for those who are looking to move on a budget!

Tip #4: Declutter as you pack

When you’re selling your current home and moving to a new one, a good rule of thumb is to carefully go through all of your belongings and throw out (or donate) the items you don’t need. This is the chance to finally thin out your closet, get rid of toys the kids don’t play with, or those ugly knickknacks your in-laws keep giving you at Christmas!

If you have a lot of stuff, you may want to consider decluttering and packing things at the start of your house hunting adventure. Not only will you be able to take your time to go through things and sort what you do and don’t want, but you can also pack up items that you don’t need right away and put them in storage until you’re ready to move.

Yes, renting a storage unit is an added expense, but if you pack up long before you get to closing, you’ll find the whole moving process will be a lot smoother because you’ll have less to do!

Tip# 5: Keep essential items with you until the day of the move

Although you’ll want to pack your belongings in the weeks leading up to your big move, remember to keep your essential items unpacked. You don’t want to root around through all of your boxes to find your curling iron or the kid’s favorite toy!

It’s a good idea to keep a box or two empty, so when the day finally comes to move into your new home, you can toss them in the box and go about your merry way.

The last items you should pack up on moving day may include:

  • Two or three outfits
  • Pajamas and undergarments
  • Toiletries
  • Grooming tools
  • A couple of towels and washcloths
  • Chargers for your phone
  • First aid kit
  • Medications, glasses, contacts, and contact solution
  • Disposable plates and cutlery
  • Pet supplies
  • Bedding
  • Simple tools like hammer, screwdriver, flashlight, and scissors

Moving into a new house is exciting, to be sure, but it can be just as stressful when you throw in the social distancing guidelines. However, these tips should be able to make the move a little less stressful and more organized.

About the author: The above article on how to move during the summer post-Covid-19 was written by Maddi Arcurio. Maddi works for Homelight and enjoys writing on all things about real estate to help buyers and sellers make the wisest decisions possible.

7 Optimal Tips to Update Your Front Yard


How to Update Your Front Yard

When it comes to remodeling a home, generally speaking, homeowners tend to prioritize the home’s interior. The exterior is often an afterthought; however, it is an excellent way to update your front yard. However, the exterior is the first thing that visitors see when they drive up to the home.

When a home has an updated exterior, it tends to improve the curb appeal of the home. Whether you decide to sell the home or just improve it to maintain it, there are some tips to help to update your front yard.

These are the kind of improvements that will help your home sell faster.

Maintain the Lawn

As we are well into the spring season, it is a good idea to reseed the lawn. Fertilize and ensure that your lawn is taken care of. Weeds are inevitable in most lawns.

Ideally, pull weeds, including the roots by hand, or use a hoe to remove the entire weed.  If the weeds are overgrowing and out of control, you can use an herbicide to kill the weeds. Be sure to read the directions to ensure you don’t damage the existing lawn.

You can also hire a service to take care of your lawn monthly to ensure that it is weed-free and green. There are some late spring tips to take care of your lawn and yard. Hire a landscaper or gardener to help mow the lawn weekly. A green and healthy lawn is very inviting and will make the home and yard look well tended to.

If you have a smaller area where you want to have a lawn and are not interested in the maintenance, consider adding artificial turf. This is a great way to maintain a green appearance.

It is a good idea to research what type of turf, and remember some of it does get hot. This can be problematic if you have pets.

Tend to the Flower Beds

Shrubs and bushes in flower beds should be trimmed neatly to create a neat appearance. If you want to put down mulch around the shrubs, that creates a nice look.

Remember to get the flower beds free of weeds as well. If you have smaller flower beds and want to add annual color, that will add some zest to the home.

Consider adding petunias or marigolds will add some bold color. You can keep them for several months by pruning back on the old blooms.

Flower beds that are neat and orderly definitely create an attractive yard and another way to update your front yard. These landscaping improvements will help to improve the overall home value.

Paint Your Front Door For More Exterior Appeal

After you have cleaned up the front of your home to ensure no cobwebs or leaves are hanging around, consider painting the front door and trim.

It can be a contrasting color to the home, which will add to the appeal of the exterior. Avoid any home improvements that may be too trendy, as they can be a turn-off for a potential buyer.

If you are selling your home, select a color appealing to the majority, as you don’t want the color to be too off-putting. Consider adding a seasonal wreath on the front door and a fresh entryway doormat.

All of these enhancements you are making to your home are considered exterior staging.

Update Your Exterior Light Fixtures

If your light fixtures are in good shape, then go ahead and just be sure to clean them and ensure the light bulbs are operable.

Light fixtures are considered fixtures in real estate as they are attached to the property.  If the light fixture is in disrepair, consider replacing them. Light fixtures are not all that expensive and consider a search at a home improvement store such as Ace Hardware or Lowes.

All of these steps will help you get the home ready for a spring sale should you decide that is the direction you plan to go.

Add an Architectural Mailbox to Help Update Your Front Yard

If you live in a home in an HOA, there may be restrictions on what type of mailbox you can put on the property. If not, some beautiful mailboxes can be added to the property and make the exterior and front yard more appealing.

There are many different mailboxes that you can select. Consider searching online for the type of mailbox you are seeking. There are mailboxes with a post or wall mount that you can select.

Many companies offer an option with the selection of the finish, including an architectural bronze finish. Keep in mind, if you live on the waterfront or ocean that is a more corrosive environment. This can impact the mailbox and cause it to corrode more quickly. Be sure to select a finish that will stand up to the elements.

Update Your House Numbers

Along with your upgraded mailbox, you can also upgrade the house numbers. There are many places where you can order house numbers to add to the appeal of the exterior of the home.

With a farmhouse-style home, many are using house numbers in script style with the house number, and some are even adding the name of the street.

Be sure to order house numbers that will tolerate the elements. The last thing you want is to purchase house numbers only to have them rusting or falling apart within the first few months of having them.

Add Exterior Lighting

There are some fabulous options to add exterior lighting to your flower beds and yard. If you have a beautiful tree as a focal point, then you may want to illuminate the tree. Add lighting in the flowerbeds to showcase the flowerbeds and seasonal flowers.

There are many options with exterior lighting, including solar, which is a great option. They are not difficult to install, and the wires are buried under the soil, which can be a relatively easy DIY project.

Get a timer for the lights and allow them to go on at sunset and stay on until dusk. Not only are the exterior lights aesthetically pleasing, but they also add to the safety of your home. The exterior lighting is a money-saving home improvement tip.

Final Thoughts

There are some fabulous ways to transform your home’s exterior by following the steps above. Be sure to maintain your home to prevent your home from accruing deferred maintenance.

Updating the exterior of the home will create a lasting impression of your home for visitors and buyers if you are selling.  There are many other ways to create a beautiful curb appeal of your home, so be creative and add to the value of your home.

Hopefully, you have found my tips for updating your yard to be useful.