The Top 5 Ways to Effectively Stage Your Home in Winter

Depending on where you live, winter can give your home a dreary effect, especially when trying to sell. Instead, aim to wow potential buyers as they peruse through your home with staging tips that will take your space from drab to fab.

Set the scene. While the warmer months may be more ideal for the overall home selling process, winter doesn’t have to be a dead end. Just like every other season, there are pros and cons—and it’s important to play to what everyone loves about the season. Add more pillows and throws to the living room to create a cozy ambiance, frame winter wonderland-esque pictures, and make use of warm-toned colors as much as possible.

Start from the outside. Sprucing up the exterior of your home may be easier when it’s sunny, the garden is prospering, and flowers are in bloom, but curb appeal in winter exists too. If snow is on the ground, make sure to shovel and salt your driveway and walkways. Add some winter porch decor—like a doormat, a lantern, or a pinecone wreath for the full winter effect. Don’t forget about the less glamorous work, like cleaning out the gutters and trimming the bushes and trees.

Light it up. We all dread the loss of natural light as we head further into winter, but don’t let that affect how your home looks. Open your curtains, blinds, and turn on the main lights in your house. The right lighting makes all the difference—and not just on Instagram.

Make the fireplace the focal point. If you have a working fireplace, play it up by decorating the mantle with pictures of winter scenes, and even light the fire to top off the cozy feeling of your interior. Place candles on top of the mantle as well, but don’t light them if they’re scented, as that may deter people from appreciating the ambiance.

Store away winter gear. No one wants to see dripping wet snow boots in the entryway, or hats and gloves lying around. Decluttering is important all year round, but in the winter, these items can be especially unsightly. Make sure to sweep up any debris that gets dragged in from outside. Don’t underestimate the power of a Swiffer®!


Staging your home in winter is just as important as staging in sunnier months. Make a positive impact with these tips!

Dressing Up Your Home

Sixty seconds is all you have to create a good first impression. Here are detailed ways on how you can make your home attractive to potential buyers.

Outside the house:

  • Cut the grass and make sure it stays that way. Make the yard look neat by taking away clutter.
  • Pull out the weeds and put fresh mulch to flower beds.
  • Wooden fences must be painted new.
  • Make sure door handles are tight and clean.
  • Windows should be cleaned inside and out.
  • Powerwash the home’s exterior
  • Gutters and downspouts should be firmly attached and functioning.
  • Paint the front door.
  • Put a new welcome mat.
  • Place potted flowers near the front door.

Inside the house:

  • Look at the furnitures in each room. Remove anything that looks “off” or anything that disrupts the design/theme. Take out any furniture that makes the room look smaller. Rent a storage unit if you have to.
  • Clean and organize cabinets, closets and bookshelves.
  • Inspect light fixtures and ceiling fans. Make sure they’re clean and functional.
  • Wash the carpets.
  • Take away too many “personal stuff”; including wall hangings and knick-knacks.
  • Inspect plumbing system to make sure they’re not leaking; and if so, have them fixed.
  • Repair torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking.
  • Clean and repaint if necessary walls and ceilings.
  • Replace worn cabinet and door knobs.
  • Replace discolored grout.
  • Replace broken tiles and worn countertops.

Additional details for showings:

  • Turn on all the lights.
  • Open drapes and shutters during the day.
  • If you have pets, secure them outside.
  • Use new towels for bathrooms.
  • Use new beddings for bedrooms.
  • Replace old lamps or lampshades.
  • Play soft background music.
  • Light the fireplace.
  • Use a comforting scent, such as apple spice or vanilla.
  • Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner.
  • Do not stay in the house while it is being shown.

Make a Great First Impression

Before you put up that “For Sale” sign, make sure that your house is ready for showing. First impressions are very important. You need to attract the buyers at first sight so you can catch their interest.

You may think your effort won’t be necessary especially if you’re in a hot market. But a good first impression will get your house off the market sooner and will allow you to sell your home at your desired amount.

Here are some things you can do to make a good first impression:

  • Maintain or improve your front landscaping.
  • Put a new and colorful welcome mat at the front door.
  • Add a nice, big potted plant to the side of the front door.
  • Give your door a fresh coat.
  • Put away toys, bicycles, and scooters from the front of the house.
  • Wipe the windows clean and make them sparkle.
  • Change the doorknob and locks to give it a new and stylish look. It will also impress a sense of security.
  • Polish your house numbers or if necessary, change them, so they shine and stand out.
  • Put on a beautiful foliage or floral arrangement on your door.
  • If there are loose shingles on the roof, fix them before showing your house.
  • Fix and repaint the gutters.

If you’ve won the buyer’s attention with your house’s facade, you need to keep their interest. You can start by:

  • Remove all the clutter especially in the kitchen and bathroom countertops. Keep toys, photo frames, personal items hidden in drawers and storage bins.
  • Hang new bathroom towels.
  • Retouch paint in your walls.
  • Have the carpet cleaned before opening your house to potential buyers. Vacuum the floors every morning.
  • Check your faucets to make sure they are not dripping.
  • Inspect all your lights. Replace bulbs that are not working.
  • Clean your appliances, not just the outside but the inside as well, especially the oven and microwave.
  • Put a pretty centerpiece in the dining table.
  • Make the house and bathrooms smell pleasant by putting a deodorizer or potpurri or spraying air freshener. This is especially necessary if someone smokes inside the house or if pets stay inside the house.
  • Allow the light to come in all the rooms of the house. In areas where natural light can’t reach, turn on the lights when you’re expecting potential buyers to go to your house.
  • Clean the fireplace.
  • Remove unnecessary furniture from the room.
  • Add final touches like adding a pretty flower arrangement or potted plant.

 When you prepare the home, keep in mind that people’s taste and preferrences differ. Just aim to make the house look clean, spacious, flexible and pleasing to anyone.

How to Keep Good Seller Etiquette

When you put up your house for sale, you will come across different people – both pleasing and difficult to deal with. You will be meeting potential buyers, unqualified buyers, agents and unknown vendors. There is an unwritten protocol to how sellers, buyers and their respective agents interact. If you are having a hard time dealing with people, let your agent know so they could help you solve the problem.

  • The aggressive agentWhen you hire an agent, they become the primary contact person with regards to the sale of the house. But there are some cases when the buyer’s agent tries to contact you directly. Do not negotiate with them directly especially if you do not have much knowledge in terms of real estate. They might take advantage of this or they probably do not want your agent to be part of the deal. This is not the right way to do business. Inform your agent if this happens.
  • The unscrupulous vendorWhen you put your house on the market, there is chance you’ll get tons of junk mail.  Some companies find ways to use information on MLS and bombard you with junk mail. If this happens to you, let your agent know so he or she can get in touch with appropriate organizations.
  • The naïve buyerWhen you start to market your home, expect some buyers to simply drop by without an appointment. You might be tempted to show them around but even if they are nice and easy to talk to, you might not be able to handle the situation well. you might get carried away with the easy conversation and discolse information that might compromise your house. If this happens, talk to them politely and refer them to your agent. Give them your agent’s number and tell them that your agent will gladly arrange a tour for them.

Putting Your House on the Market This Winter?

During the holiday season we think about a lot of things – family, food, decors, parties, shopping. Selling your house is probably not on the top of your list at this time. But the holidays actually be a good oppotunity to show your home to potential buyers. A home adorned with Christmas decors and lights add to its appeal.
 

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you prepare your home:

  • The first things that buyers will see is the exterior of your house. This is why curb appeal is vital. If it’s snowing in your area, clear the walkway, path and stairs.
  • Put holiday lights outside. They exude holiday cheer and show pride in ownership. But don’t overdo it because they can only be enjoyed at night. Unless potential buyers visit your home at night, they won’t be able to see it.
  • Trim trees outside your home. You wouldn’t want to risk having someone get hurt or the house damaged because a branch fell because of strong winds.
  • Put a pretty holiday welcome mat outside the frnt door.
  • Clear the outdoor area. Put away bicycles, scooters, toys etc.
  • Hang a cheerful wreath on the front door.
  • Play holiday music softly to add to the effect.
  • Set a cozy and warm feel. Adjust the thermostat to a comfortable level.
  • Light the fireplace. But never levae it unattended.
  • The holiday decor won’t be complete without a tree. Pick the tree carefully. Make sure it’s the right size for your house or living room. If you pick a tree too big, the living room will look small or crammed if you put it wth other furniture.
  • Don’t overdo the decors. Potential buyers might be overwhelmed if you put too many that the house might look cluttered. Remember, your goal is to sell the house, not the decors.
  • If you’re expecting buyers for viewing in the evening, make sure your agent knows which decors and lights to turn on. And if you don’t plan to be back home soon after the viewing, make sure the agent turns everything off to avoid untoward incidents.
  • Bake holiday treats often. It will leave an enticing smell.
  • Don’t forget your security. Remind your agent to turn back on your home security after your house had been shown.

Remember that the holiday decors should just accent your home and not overpower it. What’s important is that you’ll create a sense of love, joy and warmth.

Tips for Self Moving

Self-move means that you take care of packing and coordinating with people who can help you move your things to your new place. Since you have to take care of all these on your own, it can be overwhelming. Below is a list of things you’ll need to think about when you’re considering self-moving along with tips you might find very helpful.

  • Moving truck – find one that’s as big as your need.Be prepared to drive the truck that you rent. Study the truck and its controls. Just because you can drive a car doesn’t mean you can drive a truck just as easy. They are bigger and heavier so they should be driven slowly and carefully. Braking distances are longer and they have large blind spots. Some trucks do not have power steering and power brakes and automatic transmission may not be available.
  • Towing a vehicle – When you rent a truck, let the company know that you will tow a vehicle. Give them details like the make and model of the vehicle so the comoany can provide you with a truck that’s most appropriate for it.
  • Dollies and Pads – they can protect your appliances and furnitures from friction and bumps. Straps are also necessary to keep your load in place. Refrain from using bungee cables. You might need to use hand trucks to move big and heavy things.
  • Fuel – It’s a wise idea to refuel the truck before bringing it back. If you don’t, the rental company will charge you for the gas you used and usually it is more costly.
  • Packing supplies – boxes, tape, bags. These things add up and will cost much when you buy everything at once. You might find it easier to gradually accumulate them. Rental facilities and package stores have them available.
  • Reservations and Deposits – When you have finalized the date of your move, reserve the rental truck so you can be sure it’s available when you need it. Usually rental companies require a deposit.
  • Rental Insurance Protection – Most insurance companies do not cover your things while you’re moving. Verify this information with your current insurance agent. Ask the self-move dealer or the rental company what protection they could offer you. When you pick up the paperwork for the truck, review to see if the rental protection is included there.

When you pick up the truck, the dealer should be able to show you everything you need to know about it. Ask questions if anything is unclear. Keep all the receipts and paperwork relating to your move like rental, gas, food and lodging expense. You might need them, especially if your move is required by your employer. 

Seven Costly Mistakes Sellers Make

There are many good ways to invest in real estate. Hopefully you got some of your insight from us. 

There are a lot of mistakes sellers can get into when they put up their house for sale. There was a seller in Virginia who had a half bath that was originally placed at the front of his house. He thought that it would be better if it was moved to the back of the main level. All the other similar models had the powder room in the same place for the past 20 years. It cost him thousands of dollars to move it, thinking it will get his house off the market sooner, but it didn’t. It became an expensive mistake.

Sid Davis, a real estate broker and author of “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home,” points out seven costly mistakes that sellers often make with regards to selling their home. In my business, I’ve seen each one of these mistakes played out and it just makes me shake my head as to why, sellers forge ahead with unwise strategies, instead of listening to the voice of an experienced professional, he says.

Sid Davis, real estate broker and author of the book “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home,” points out seven costly mistkaes that sellers make with regards to selling their home. In my business, I’ve seen each one of these mistakes played out and it just makes me shake my head as to why, sellers forge ahead with unwise strategies, instead of listening to the voice of an experienced professional, he said.

  • Mistake 1: Putting your home on the market before it’s ready. This usually happens because the seller is in a hurry to sell the house or the seller did not prepare early. And so, repainting is done while the house is shown. Or possible buyers view the house with a carpet that obviously needs to be replaced already. Presentation is vital. Prepare the home before putting it up for sale.
  • Mistake 2: Over-improving the house for the neighborhood. Don’t make additions, bump-outs and upgrades that will make the house stand out from among its competition in a way that it becomes an anomaly rather than a good addition to the community.
  • Mistake 3: Pricing the home based on what the seller wants to earn net. This is a bad pricing motivation. The sale price is dependent on the market climate and not on what the seller wants. Sellers can control the asking price but not the sales price.
  • Mistake 4: Choosing an agent based on non-business factors. If you want to sell your house fast and with good terms, choose an agent because of their good track record, not because they’re your relative or friend.
  • Mistake 5: Getting emotionallhy involved in the sale of the house. This is one of the biggest challenges that sellers face. When you decide to sell your home, you’ll need to think of your home as a commodity – prepare it as a commodity, market it as a commodity, and price it as a commodity. Many potential buyers will go to your house and scrutinize it. Don’t feel bad, they are only judging it based on their preferences.
  • Mistake 6: Covering up or not disclosing problems. Most states have a property disclosure/disclaimer form. You can be sued for a leaky basement or wiring problems discovered 30 days after settlement.
  • Mistake 7: Not getting your ducks lined up before you sell. This means getting your financing ready, making sure there’s no pre-payment penalties on your mortgage, monitoring your local market. If according to local market, you sell first before buying or vice vers, do the same.

Don’t fear making these mistakes. There are actually things you can do to avoid them. Learn from professionals who made resources like this for you to learn from.

Helpful Tips for Showing Your Home

If you want to sell your home in the soonest time at a good price, you need to make your house look attractive and interesting to buyers. Here are twenty sure-fire tips to do this:

Preparation

  • The first thing you need to take care of is the outside since this is the first thing that potential buyers see. The lawn must be trimmed and free from clutter. Walks and s]teps should be clean from ice, snow and debris. The fron door needs to be clean and make the entry look inviting.
  • Faded paint and worn out wood makes your house look old and cheap. Spending on a new wallpaper will be worth your money. Take time and effort to redecorate your house and you’ll sell your house at a good price.
  • Bright and sunny rooms add to the charm. So open the curtains and let the sun shine in. It’s cost free but can do a lot of wonders.
  • Do all the necessary repairs – Loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers and other minor.
  • Make your attic basement, and other utility space look bigger by removing storage bins. Painting the walls with a light color can brighten the mood and make them look more spacious.
  • Ensure safety. Take away any clutter that can cause injury, especially in the stairs.
  • Make closets, cabinets, shelves and cupboards look spacious by arranging things neatly.
  • Bathrooms should look clean and bright. And the faucets should be working.
  • Make the bedrooms look neat, beautiful and relaxing. Use attractive bedspreads and newly washed curtains.
  • Make sure all the lights in the house are working. Turn on all the lights for an evening tour. It will give potential buyers a feel of glowing warmth.

Showing

  • Avoid having too many people in the house during house tours or inspection. This will make the buyer feel like an intruder.
  • Music helps. But make sure it’s soft and mellow. The agent should be able to converse easily with the buyers.
  • If you have pets, make sure they are not in the way.
  • Be polite and accomodating but don’t force conversation. Maybe the buyer needs space to think or just take everything in.
  • Never apologize for the appearance of your home. Leave it to your agent to answer inquiries or objections.
  • Just stay in the sidelines. Your agent is trained and experienced in doing this. They will know how to emphasize the positive features of your house. And allow your agent to discuss price, terms, possession and other petinent factors. They are qualified to bring negotiations to a favorable conclusion.
  • Don’t dispose of furniture and furnishings before a buyer has bought the house.
  • Show your home to prospective buyers only by appointment through your agent. They could handle the tour better as professionals and can sell your house more quickly.

Tax Benefits For When You Sell

When you sell your home, especially at a time when your taxes are due, you could get financial shelter. Thanks to The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, the real estate sector can receive what is considered the best tax shelter through their homes.

According to the federal tax law, when you sell your home, you can keep, tax free, capital gains of up to $500,000 if you are married filing jointly or $250,000 for single taxpayers, or married taxpayers who file separately.

To qualify for the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion, you must have lived in the house (as your primary residence) for at least two of the prior five years. The best part is, it’s not a one-time benefit. You can use this benefit as often as you qualify – every two years, to fulfill the owner-occupied-two-out-of-five-years requirement.

For example, if you have two homes and you live in one of them for two years, sell it and live in the other one for another two years and sell them both, both qualify for the exclusion. If due to some unforeseen reasons like a job change, illness, death of a spouse, divorce, disaster, war or some other hardship, you are forced to sell before you meet the two-year residency requirement, there are special provisions. In these cases, the $500,000/$250,000 exclusion (not your specific gain) will be prorated. For example, if after only a year of living in your house you are forced to sell it because of a qualified unforeseen reason, you can exclude from taxes up to $250,000 (half the exclusion) in capital gains if you are married and file jointly or $125,000 for separate and single filers.

One unforeseen event where homeowners were able to use the provision was during the September 11, 2001 acts of terrorism in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.. Sellers were able to prorate the exclusions given these conditions:

  • A spouse, home co-owner, or person living with the taxpayer was killed by the attacks.
  • The taxpayer’s principal residence was damaged.
  • The taxpayer or a person listed in (1) became eligible for unemployment compensation, or
  • The taxpayer or a person listed in (1) had a change in employment or self-employment that resulted in the taxpayer’s inability to pay reasonable basic living expenses for the household.

Selling costs
If later, after you sell, you realize there’s still a taxable profit after the exclusion, you can bring down your gain with selling costs. Your gain refers to your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. Your basis is the original purchase price, plus capital improvements, minus any depreciation.

Selling costs also include real estate broker’s commissions, title insurance, legal fees, administrative costs and inspection fees. It can also include repairs or additions completed within 90 days of your sale to make the house more marketable.

Moving costs
If you need to move and sell your home because of a new job, you can deduct part of the moving costs. These are the requirements that need to be met:

  • Your new job must be at least 50 miles from the old;
  • you must work full time at the new work place for 39 of the 52 weeks after the move;

The exclusion could also include costs for travel, transportation, lodging and storage.

If you are self-employed, you can be eligible for tax deductions if you work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and a total of 78 weeks during the first 24 months after arriving at the new job location.

To get more information about home selling-related tax benefits, get in touch with tax professional and state and local tax authorities in your area.

Think Like a Buyer

As a seller, your goal is to sell your home in the soonest possible time at the most favorable price. To achieve this, there are many factors involved. Some of these factors like the home’s condition, asking price and marketing strategy are factors that you can control. However there are some other things that influence a buyer’s decision in buying a house.

When you enter the market, you need to understand most buyers’ wants and needs if you want to be succesful. Competition is tough so you need to know what your buyers want. Your real estate agent can guide you on how you could effectively sell your house despite some flaws.

  • LocationThis is one of the primary considerations that buyers have and unfortunately, is one thing you can’t control. According to the National Association of REALTORS(r), neighborhood quality is the number 1 reason buyers have for choosing a home. It is followed by commute times to work and school.
  • SizeHome sizes have continuously increased since the 1950’s. The market for smaller homes are often limited to new home owners, couples without children, or families with grown children who no longer live with them. 
  • AmenitiesThere are certain floor plans and amenities that become outdated as time goes by. Your real estate agent can inform you of current design preferences in the market. You can opt to renovate to increase profit and marketability. But don’t do this without consulting your agent. They can advise if it’s a wise investment based on the market condition and several other factors.