7 critical aspects of buying farm or ranch property

When the home you want to buy is merely a shelter to retreat to after a day spent ranching or farming the land surrounding it, you’ll find that the process is much more involved than buying a tract home.

While we don’t have space here to get into the fine details of this type of real estate purchase, here are a few basic steps to take when buying farm or ranch property.

1. Where will you get the money?

Not all lenders deal with ranch or farm properties, so you’ll need to find one who does. If you need help coming up with the money to buy a farm, contact the state’s Department of Agriculture about the Beginning Farm & Ranch Loan Program.

It offers beginning ranchers and farmers a reduced interest rate and a reasonable down payment. You can find the eligibility requirements here.

The USDA offers farm loan programs (including a special program for women and minority borrowers) and some conventional lenders, such as Janus Ag Finance (an outlet for Farmer Mac) and Compeer Financial, have programs for potential ranch and farm owners. (We do not endorse these lenders; the mention is for informational purposes only).

2. How much land and how many critters?

One of the first steps to take when you find a ranch or farm property you’re interested in is to figure out if it’s the right size for the number of animals you hope to keep. The easiest way to do this is to contact the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

3. Zoning considerations

Next, you’ll need to ensure that the property is located in the proper zoning district (agricultural) and that it’s also zoned for the livestock you’ll keep there. You’ll find zoning information for your city or county on its website.

If you go in person, request a parcel map so you can look for easements. This is especially important if you’re buying property that has never held a structure before.

It’s not at all uncommon for vacant parcels to be landlocked and if there is no existing easement to allow for ingress and egress you’ll need to go about procuring one, which is not an easy project.

4. Water rights

Is there water on or running through the property? Your next stop, then is at the state engineer’s office.

Find out how they determine water rights (also known as “riparian rights.”) This is important if you plan on pumping water to store or use it for livestock.

5. Drinking water and waste management

Buying a ranch or farm typically brings with it the expense of having the well and the septic system inspected. Despite the expense, it’s important to have the septic pumped out and thoroughly inspected.

If you need to install a system, you’ll want to have the soil tested (a “percolation” test) to determine if the land will support the size of the system you have in mind.

Lenders often require water quality tests for farm and ranch purchases. Even if yours doesn’t, do consider hiring a professional to ensure the well’s mechanics work properly and that the water is safe to drink.

6. Are crops or grazing areas planned?

A soil test is a must for those planning on growing crops or providing a pasture for grazing. You’ll find invaluable information online with the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey.

Soil testing results are especially useful if you’re interested in organic farming. Cooperative Extension Services across the country often offer soil testing. Consult the list at gardenologist.org to find the one closest to the property you’re interested in.

7. Infrastructure considerations

Barns and other outbuildings on the property should be professionally inspected. If the property lacks the buildings you require, factor the cost of erecting them into your offer. Likewise with fences and irrigation that needs to be installed.

 

What is a title search and why should I care?

Ok, so you got an offer on your home. Although this is the right time to heave a sigh of relief, we’re not yet ready to pop open the champagne.

We don’t mean to sound like Debbie Downers here, but there are several potential hazard areas on the way to closing.

One that is seldom discussed is the title report. So, today we walk you through the process. “Knowledge is power” is a saying that pertains to every real estate transaction – so let’s bring you up to speed.

Just what is “title” anyway?

The word “title” in real estate refers to the parties who hold legal ownership and have the right to use and dispose of a piece of property.

The word is used the same when it comes to your car. When you sell your car, you’ll be signing the title over to the buyer.

But, what if you aren’t the true owner of the home, yet you’re attempting to sell it?

This is where the title company comes into play; searching public records to ensure that you are the legitimate owner of the property and that no other party has a claim to it.

Once they’ve assured that you are, indeed, the owner, they will issue a title insurance policy to the lender, to protect it against future claims against the property.

While the lender’s policy is a requirement of getting the loan, there is a separate, owner’s policy available to purchase, but it isn’t a requirement.

Title issues

“Title companies report that in more than one-third of all real estate transactions they must undertake ‘extraordinary work’ to address title issues,” according to Sandy Gadow in the Washington Post.

Some of this work involves searching far back into the public records, looking at divorce proceedings, bankruptcy filings, old deeds, wills and tax records.

If they find an issue, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, it becomes what is known as a “cloud” or “defect” on the title and it must be cleared before the sale of the home can be finalized. Some of these issues include:

  • Unpaid property taxes
  • Fraud and forgery
  • Missing signatures on the title
  • Previous owner’s heir making a claim

You can find a list of common title defects online, at firstam.com.

Dealing with clouds on the title

When the title search is complete, the title company issues a Preliminary Title Report. In it, you’ll find information about the ownership of the property and any outstanding liens and encumbrances against it.

The report provides the seller the opportunity to not only learn about previously unknown defects in the property’s title, but to cure them as well.

After all, no sane buyer will want to continue with the purchase of a property with title issues.

Note that the Preliminary Title Report may not list all existing liens and encumbrances affecting title to the property.

It simply states those it was able to unearth and that the company will exclude these items from coverage in a subsequently issued title insurance policy, if they aren’t remedied.

Think of it as an “offer to insure,” according to the California Land Title Association.

Sellers need to carefully examine the preliminary report and, working with their agent or attorney, take action to clear up any problems.

For instance, one of the most common problems title companies see is an old mechanic’s lien. These are routinely placed on a property by a general contractor before starting a rehab or other home improvement project (to ensure he or she is paid).

In an ideal world, the contractor will release the lien upon payment for his or her services.

But, as you know, the world isn’t perfect and contractors often neglect releasing the lien. While it’s typically not difficult to resolve this title defect, it does take time, so the closing date may have to be extended.

The insurance

If the title search doesn’t find any problems, or you clear up those that have been found, the title company will issue a lender’s title insurance policy and, if purchased, one for the new homeowner.

Unlike other forms of insurance, title insurance only requires one payment, at closing, and it lasts for the life of the loan.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the title insurance process or anything else real estate-related. We’re happy to answer questions.

3 reasons to sell your home NOW!

I have a friend in another state who wants to sell her home. And, whether a blessing or a curse, she has the luxury of taking her time.

In other words, she doesn’t need to relocate for a new job, she’s not getting a divorce and she’s not in escrow on another home.

So, suffering from “analysis paralysis,” she drags her feet. She also burns up her cellphone calling me for news on what the market is doing.

She’s waiting for that perfect time. You know the one—when home prices are the highest they’ll get.

Sound familiar? If so, keep in mind these famous words from a not-so-famous real estate agent (me):

“Trying to time the real estate market is crazy.”

By the time you learn that home prices have maxed out, it will be too late – they’ll be on the downhill slide.

But, if you insist on trying to time the sale of your home to the optimal time, here’s more advice – this time it comes from just about every real estate agent with a heartbeat:

“Now is the best time to sell your home!”

Yeah, I cringe when I read that too. But, right now, the advice actually has merit. And, here are 3 reasons why.

The inventory of available homes is scary-low

In fact, one of the major online real estate portals finds that in 2017’s fourth quarter, the nationwide inventory of available homes fell by 10.5 percent, which is the steepest drop in inventory since 2013.

The biggest drop was in starter homes but move-up homes are also experiencing a dearth of listings.

What does this mean for you as a homeowner thinking of selling? If the inventory remains suppressed as we head into the spring homebuying season, and demand remains high, you’ll be very happy with your home’s current market value.

Home prices are high

“Listing prices have once again begun their seasonal climb and have quickly reclaimed historical highs,” claims a new report from realtor.com®.

The data also suggests that homes are selling nearly 10 percent quicker than they did last year at this time, despite the price appreciation.

The shrinking inventory is expected to continue to drive up prices throughout the spring homebuying season.

Consider this: list your home soon and you’ll be in the driver’s seat, not only because you’ll get more for your home now than if you wait, but you will also have the luxury of dictating the terms of the purchase agreement.

Need to wait to close until the purchase of the new home is finalized? You’ll find a buyer willing to accommodate you. If you wait until the market changes to a buyers’ market (which it can do on a dime), you lose this advantage.

Interest rates WILL go up

If there is anything that acts as an impetus for homebuyers to speed up the home search it’s news that mortgage rates are set to increase.

A recent study by a large real estate corporation shows that only 6 percent of potential homebuyers will cancel their plans to buy a home if interest rates rise above 5 percent and 21 percent say that the increase would cause them to speed up their plans to purchase.

The more alarming statistic, however, is the 27 percent who say that an increase that high will cause them to slow down their search until rates come back down.

If you need to sell your home, losing more than a quarter of the buyer pool is bad news. The more buyers that drop out on the demand side of the supply/demand equation, the quicker the market will change.

And, if you’re planning on buying another home, a rate hike between now and then could put a real pinch in your budget.

Count on mortgage rates continuing to climb this year. “The 30-year rate has been on a tear in 2018, climbing 48 basis points since the start of the year and increasing for eight consecutive weeks,” according to a statement by Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

If you are planning on selling your home this year, do it now, before the market turns against you.

We’re happy to offer you a free evaluation of your home’s current market value.

7 reasons why you shouldn’t rule out buying a condo

Don’t let a skimpy homebuying budget stop you from kicking your landlord to the curb. When even the most basic of starter homes soar in price, there’s always the trusty condo to fill the void.

If you’re opposed to even the thought of condo living, consider the purchase a stepping stone – a way to build equity to use for your forever home.

Read on to learn about more good reasons to consider buying a condo.

1. Cheaper than a house

Unless you lust after the penthouse unit in the city’s premier condo community, you’ll pay less for a condo than a single-family home. And, if you shop wisely, even that homeowners association fee tacked onto the mortgage payment won’t put you outside your comfort zone.

If you’re extremely low-budget, we can help you shop for a condo with low HOA dues. These are typically condos in low-amenity communities. In other words, you generally won’t find low HOA fees in a community that offers valet parking, private elevators and high-end fitness facilities.

2. On-site amenities

On the flip side, if the private elevator, valet parking and high-end fitness center is on your wish list, you’ll find condo communities that offer these amenities (and more) with homes far less expensive than buying a single-family home with the same amenities.

Yes, the HOA fees will be higher, but, again, your final monthly payment as a homeowner will be less than it would be if you owned a single-family home with similar amenities.

3. Low maintenance living has its perks

While there are some condo communities that offer homes with private yards, most don’t. This means no lawn to mow, weeds to pull, leaves to rake and trees to prune.

Part of your HOA fees cover the cost of common area landscape care. If the community has a pool, the HOA takes care of its maintenance, too.

Think of all the free time you’ll have compared to your friends who own single-family homes. Your weekends will be maintenance-free.

4. Be social, or don’t

Ask any of your single-family-home-dwelling-friends how many of their neighbors they know. Sadly, the answer will most likely be anywhere from none to very few.

Sure, there are vibrant neighborhoods with connected neighbors, but by and large, most Americans tend to isolate themselves from those who live nearby.

In fact, a Pew Research study finds that only 28 percent of people living in a neighborhood know their neighbors by name.

Condo living puts you in closer proximity to your neighbors. Whether that’s a positive or a negative depends on how sociable you are. If you like getting to know your neighbors you’ll love this aspect of condo life.

5. Building equity and more

We touched earlier on buying a condo as a stepping stone. Not only will you build equity to put toward a future purchase, but owning a home has tax advantages as well.

Yes, tax laws are in flux right now, but you will still receive homeownership benefits that you won’t have if you continue renting. 

6. Feel safer

Many condo developments offer security features. Whether it’s a gated community or one with a roving guard or even a community with camera surveillance, security is a feature lacking in many single-family homes.

This is especially important to people who live alone and may feel vulnerable. Even a community lacking robust security features will feel safer simply for the fact that you live in close proximity to others, so seeking help in an emergency is far easier.

7. Convenience

If your aim is to live in the heart of the city or within walking distance to popular area amenities, you’ll find few single-family homes from which to choose. But, this is where the condo market shines the brightest.

Ditching the commute—or even the car—is a distinct possibility with urban condo living.

Do reach out to us if you’re considering purchasing a condo. We’re happy to walk you through the process and show you what’s available now.

 

It’s spring – time to shake the house!

In case you missed it, spring sprung on March 20. That means it’s time for the annual spring-cleaning ritual. And, although the exact origins of the ritual are in question, historians do know that it dates back thousands of years.

Iranians perform the task on the first day of spring and call it “khooneh tekouni,” (تکان دادن خانه) which is aptly translated to “shaking house.”

Today, Americans don’t go to quite those lengths. In fact, spring cleaning can be a relatively quick and easy process if you perform only the basics. To prove it, take a look at our handy checklist below.

8 steps to get your landscaping ready for spring

March 20, 2018—the day those of us who love nothing more than getting dirty in the backyard have longed for.

It’s the first day of spring and, although we’re ready, our gardens may not be.

In fact, before stepping one foot onto your home’s landscaping, “give the soil the ‘squirt’ test,” cautions landscape contractor Roger Cook, at thisoldhouse.com.

“Step down hard on the ground. If water squirts up around your boot, stay out,” he continues. Walking on soggy soil may cause compaction problems. So, if water does squirt out of the soil, wait a couple of days and try the test again.

But there are lots of other things to do to get you and your yard ready for spring.

1. Make a plan

If your planting beds require revitalization, put a plan on paper. What plants will you remove and what do you need to buy to replace them? Draw diagrams of different locations to see which spot fits best.

2. Check your gardening equipment

Sharp pruners and mower blades make clean cuts so if yours are on the dull side, have them professionally sharpened. If you prefer the DIY route, you’ll find a walkthrough of the sharpening process online at familyhandyman.com or see Martha Stewart’s video. Don’t forget to five the lawnmower a tune-up.

3. Prune trees and shrubs

Pruning frost-sensitive shrubs isn’t a good idea right now as there may still be a frost danger. Hardier perennials, however, will take to pruning quite well. First, get rid of damaged and dead branches. Those that are damaged can be cut back to live tissue, but completely prune away dead branches.

4. Cut back perennials

Cut down your flowering perennials to a height of about 6 inches. Ornamental grasses should be pruned to 4 to 5 inches in height.

Wait to prune roses until right after the last frost, just before the plant breaks dormancy. Better Homes and Gardens offers tips on rose pruning.

5. Clean up beds and borders

Once the pruning is finished it’s time for cleanup. A leaf vacuum or blower will rid the yard of whatever winter blew in but you may need a rake for the larger, heavier items.

Use a leaf vacuum or blower to get rid of accumulated leaves and twigs and a rake for larger items, such as branches.

6. How’s the soil?

Although the soil amending process is ideally performed in fall, it can be done in spring. As soon the weather permits, aerate and amend the soil in your beds and borders. No, it’s not a quick task, but it will pay off in the long run.

Pull back the mulch from around your current plantings and use a garden fork to carefully loosen the top 2 to 3 inches of soil (don’t disturb the plant’s roots). Then, lay down about 3 inches of compost and use the fork to mix it into the soil around the plant. Then, replace the mulch, if it’s still in good shape.

Cook recommends replacing the mulch each year, but we know that can get a bit pricey, especially in large yards. If it’s still in good condition, rake the beds to ensure even mulch coverage.

7. Thinking of adding some color for summer?

Consider the following bulbs, which can be planted now:

  • Asiatic lilies
  • Oriental lilies
  • Crocosmia (Crocosmia aurea)
  • Chinese ground orchids (Bletilla striata)
  • Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis)

8. The lawn

If the lawn has dried out, give it a good raking to get rid of all the debris that flew in over the winter. If you rake deeply, you’ll also solve thatch problems. Then, inspect the lawn for signs of moss, soil compaction and bare spots.

HGTV and Today’s Homeowner offer walk-throughs of early spring lawn care tips.

Bugs that eat our homes — what you need to know

Powdery stuff on the floor near the wall. Tiny mud tubes on the wall. One- to two-inch round holes near the eaves, deck and siding.

While easily overlooked, these are all signs of a wood-destroying pest infestation in and around your home. Overlook the signs at your own peril, as the damage caused by these tiny insects is expensive to repair.

And, it’s seldom covered by homeowner insurance policies

In fact, U.S. homeowners spend more than $5 billion a year to repair termite damage alone, according to Orkin, the pest-control company.

But, termites are just one of the many types of pest who feast on the wood that holds up your home. Get to know them, and the symptoms of an infestation, to stop the damage before it eats your pocketbook.

Termites 

The most common wood-destroying pest, it is present in every state, except Alaska. And, if that news isn’t bad enough, consider this:

There is more than one type of termite

While there are more than 2,000 different species, the three subcategories of termites most commonly found in our homes include subterranean, dampwood and drywood termites.

And, each type has a preferred type of wood

If you suspect termites in your attic, they are most likely of the drywood variety, as they enjoy dining on wood with little moisture content.

Decayed woods are attractive to dampwood termites and subterranean termites aren’t picky, but they seem to prefer softwoods, such as pine, fir and spruce.

How much do termites eat?

The experts at Orkin say that the amount of wood a termite colony can eat depends on which type of termite is dining, the size of the colony and a few other factors. They warn that the Formosan termite is the most voracious.

They live in large colonies and “can cause extensive damage to a home in less than six months,” under ideal conditions. They prefer warm, humid climates (hello Hawaii!).

The damage they do

Termites eat wood. But, don’t assume your home is safe if it was constructed of other materials.

According to pest control experts, termites can go right through metal siding. Plaster poses no problem for them, either.

Once inside, they’ll infest anything made of wood, from your furniture to cabinetry, floors and ceilings. They’ll weaken the home’s structure, the stairs, the outside deck and more.

And, they do this without leaving obvious traces of their existence. If you know what to look for, however, you can act quickly.

Signs of a termite infestation

You’ll need to look closely for signs of a termite infestation. “Termite damage sometimes appears similar to water damage,” say the pros at Orkin.

Don’t assume that the buckling of your wood floor is from moisture intrusion because it just may be termites causing it. Mold- and mildew-like odors may also indicate a termite infestation.

Look for tiny mud tunnels near the home’s foundation – a sure sign of a subterranean termite colony nearby. Other signs to look for include:

  • Tiny wings on window sills and floors, near the wall.
  • Cracked paint.
  • Wood that gives a hollow sound when tapped on.

Termite Prevention

We look at homes every day and we see a lot of “termite attractants,” both inside and out. One of the most common is the woodpile pushed up against the home. Other common termite invitations include:

  • Allowing the sprinkler to hit the side of the home.
  • Cracks in foundation walls.
  • Attaching wood trellises or wooden planters to exterior walls.
  • Insufficient ventilation in crawl spaces.
  • Blocked foundation vents.
  • Shrubbery planted too close to the home’s foundation.
  • Gutters filled with leaves and other organic debris.

The cure

Termite eradication isn’t a DIY project – it requires the services of a pest control professional.

“There are two general categories of termite treatment,” according to the experts in the entomology department at the University of Kentucky.

  • Liquid termaticides – Applied to the soil, they keep the little critters from entering the home. They also kill those termites who have already moved in, since they can’t get back outside without crossing the liquid’s barrier.
  • Bait – “Termite baits consist of paper, cardboard, or other palatable food, combined with a slow-acting substance lethal to termites,” say the pros at the University of Kentucky. The bait material is placed in a plastic tube, underground, or inside, over the mud tubes.

Reach out to us if you plan on selling your home and suspect you may have a termite problem. We’re happy to refer you to a professional for additional advice.

3 Things to Consider Before Shopping for a New Home

The homebuying process is one that is full of decisions. Do you want a house or a condo? Should you shop for a new or an existing home?

If you settle on a newly-built home, a whole new set of decisions enters the picture.

Before you hop in the car to visit new home communities, however, there  are a few things you should do to protect yourself during the purchase process.

Lay the foundation properly, and you’ll make it to closing with nary a hitch.

1. Get Clear on your Finances

Walking into a new-home purchase without knowing how much you can afford to spend on a house puts you at the mercy of the builder and/or his lender.

Since buying this home may be the biggest financial decision of your life, you owe it to yourself to go into the process with as much knowledge as possible.

See a lender before viewing even one home. Find out how much you can spend and then stick to that price range when shopping for a home.

Then, compare lender quotes before making a final commitment. Sometimes the builder’s preferred lender offers the best deal – but not always. Get the cost of each loan from every lender you speak with.

Find more information on how to shop for a mortgage from the Federal Trade Commission.

2. Choose a Community

New home communities offer various amenities. Many are managed by a homeowners association, which takes on some of the outdoor maintenance chores, such as snow removal.

But, they also come with an added monthly fee, so consider the fee’s impact on your budget.

Then, make a list of features you desire in a new community. Some of the criteria you may choose include:

  • Proximity to schools.
  • Outdoor recreational opportunities
  • An area with lots of children or, on the other hand, few kids.
  • Your commute time to work.

Once you know your budget, and what you’re looking for in a neighborhood, it’s easier to narrow down where to shop.

3. Research the Builder

There are a number of ways to do this, but starting with the Better Business Bureau is a good first step. Check for complaints against the builder and the company.

Ask your agent what he or she knows about the builder and the homes he/she builds.

Find out what other communities the builder has helped developed and visit one or two of them.

Stop and chat with any residents you come across to find out if there are any common problems with the home.

When you visit the communities on your list you’ll be greeted by a real estate agent. If you find a home you like it’s only natural to assume the whole process will be streamlined if you use this agent for the purchase.

Not a wise decision, and here’s why: that agent represents the builder.

Just as you wouldn’t dream of hiring your soon-to-be former spouse’s attorney in divorce proceedings, so should you never use the builder’s agent in a new-home purchase.

Buyer’s representation costs you nothing – the seller (the builder in the case of new homes) pays all real estate fees. So there is really no reason not to hire your own representation for such an important investment.

Ask the builder for a walk-through of the new-home buying process—find out the schedule, the number of inspections that will be performed and get a features sheet list.

Arm yourself with as much information as possible and the process will go smoothly.

Tips on buying new hardware for your cabinets

The best and quickest way to revitalize a room is with paint. It’s amazing what fresh paint can do. But, don’t stop there – especially if you’re thinking of selling your home.

Simply changing the hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinetry will complement those freshly-painted walls and make the room look complete.

Best of all, it’s inexpensive and there are a multitude of choices in color, finish and shape.

What to look for when shopping

What style is the room? Especially in the kitchen, keep the style of the hardware the same as the style of the room.

For instance, in a contemporary kitchen you’ll want hardware that is minimally ornamental – streamlined and simple. If you have stainless steel appliances, consider a similar finish for the knobs and pulls.

Is the hardware comfortable to use? Don’t be shy – grab them as if they were connected to a drawer or cupboard to ensure they’re the right size for you and comfortable to use.

Keep proportion in mind. Tiny knobs on a large cupboard won’t cut it.

“A good rule of thumb for traditional or transitional style pulls is that they should be about one-third of the length of the cabinet drawer,” suggests the experts at Meridian Homes, and “more contemporary designs call for longer pulls that are at least two-thirds of the length of the drawer or cabinet door.”

They go on to say that if drawers measure more than 18 inches in width, you may one to use more than one knob or pull.

Finish is as important as style. There are so many finishes from which to choose, it may be as challenging as choosing the style of hardware.

As mentioned earlier, stainless steel is ideal for most contemporary kitchens while brass or pewter is better suited to traditional rooms. Get an idea of the many hardware finishes at theknobbery.com.

Where to shop

Yes, the big-box department stores typically carry a large assortment of cabinetry hardware, but if you’re looking for something different, there are many other options, online. I

n fact, you can shop those big box home improvement stores online as well. Lowe’s and Home Depot both carry cabinet hardware.

Knob Depot

We love this site for the sheer simplicity of its search function. You won’t have to scroll through page after page of hardware because you can narrow your search by a number of criteria. Search by room, by finish, diameter and more. Start your search at knobdepot.com.

Jet

Jet.com offers an interesting and eclectic selection of knobs and pulls. Not the least expensive of the bunch, but if you’re looking for something specific, you may find it here.

Hayneedle

We love the Velocity Cabinet Knob (and the price too!) but Hayneedle has many other styles from which to choose. Prices run from quite reasonable to rather expensive. We also like that we can narrow the search according to shape, finish and size. Check out the knobs and pulls at hayneedle.com.

Wayfair

If you have money to burn, check out the high-end hardware at wayfair.com. For a smidge more than $253, you can purchase a beveled-glass knob (screw not included!) and, for much less (but still pricey) Mother of Pearl or Swarovski crystal beauties. At the lowest end of the price scale you’ll find basic plastic and wood knobs for as low as $1.29.

On a tight budget?

While we can’t vouch for the quality, there are many discount dealers online. Check out Knobs4Less.com, Overstock.com, Discount Home Furnishings and Ikea. Read the reviews from people who’ve purchased items to get an idea of quality.

You may also locate unique hardware on the items for sale at the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore near you.

5 Tips for the Best Home Showings

OK, truth time: There’s nothing more disruptive to home life than to have your home on the market.

Chasing the kids around, nagging at them to pick up their clothes and toys, ensuring the dishes don’t pile up in the sink and the dirty laundry is tucked away, out of sight.

And, if you have pets, it’s even more challenging

Yes, it’s stressful to have to keep the home clean all the time. But, presentation is everything when it comes down to getting the most money possible for it.

Consider the following tips to help buyers see your home for the gem that it is.

1. Get rid of the stink

 We’ve all walked into someone else’s home and smelled it – the stale cigarette odor, what they had for dinner last night or the über stinky cat box.

The problem, however, is that we are so acclimated to our own homes that we typically can’t determine if they stink or not. If you have kids, pets and smokers in the house, however, it’s a safe bet that it does.

Cigar and cigarette smoke is the most difficult to get rid of, but check out our blog post, here, for some tips.

Cooking odors tend to cling to anything upholstered, so clean and deodorize the carpets, wash the curtains, bring in a pro to dry-clean the furniture and clean the filter in the range hood.

Pet owners need to ensure that the cat box is cleaned daily and the dog is bathed frequently while the home is on the market.

Other tips to consider include:

  • Washing indoor trash containers thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Then, take the trash out before showings.
  • Bathrooms can get pretty rank, so Better Homes & Gardens suggests filling a decorative dish with cotton balls that you’ve dabbed with essential oils.
  • Fill decorative containers with potpourri and place them randomly throughout the home.

2. Mask the noise

Have you ever lived close to an airport or, even worse, railroad tracks? The noise may have been deafening for the first month or two. Then, you got used to it.

Potential buyers touring your home are in the early stages of noise sensitivity and they will most definitely hear the neighbor’s annoying, yappy dog.

If noise pollution is a problem in your neighborhood, mask it. Here are some tips:

  • Set the computer up to play a sound effects loop (rainfall and babbling water are soothing).
  • Leave music playing, softly, during showings.
  • Purchase a white noise machine.

3. Lighten up

There’s a reason that real estate agents tell their clients to open all the window coverings and turn on all the lights before showings. Light and bright rooms are far more appealing than those that are dark. Consider the following as well:

  • Use higher wattage light bulbs while the home is on the market.
  • Don’t forget the closet lights – turn those on as well.
  • Use a lighter-weight fabric for drapes during the marketing period.

4. Sell the lifestyle

Model home decorators know exactly who they are trying to appeal to and sell that potential buyer on the lifestyle the home offers.

You can do the same with some strategic staging.

  • A vignette in home staging is a small grouping of several objects. Vignettes can help convey the story of your home and the lifestyle it provides. Set the dining room table, create a front porch or deck vignette with a table and chairs and potted plants (like this one at suchthespot.com). Get more ideas on Pinterest.
  • Fresh flowers throughout the home will help add color and freshen the air.
  • Stage the kitchen and bathroom to make them more appealing. Rid the counters of clutter and glam it up with new towels and rugs.

5. Guard your privacy

Homeowners are told to skedaddle before home showings and open houses. Before you go, lock up valuables or take them with you. This includes jewelry, cash, small, high-value collectibles, weapons and prescription drugs.

Home showings are critical to the sale of your home. Doing all you can to make the home appear ready to move into will make yours the queen of the neighborhood real estate market.