Don’t go house hunting without a wish list

Impulse buying. We’ve all heard the term and many of us have succumbed to the temptation to indulge in the act, especially in a retail setting.

It’s why the chewing gum and candy bars are located where folks line up to pay for their groceries. It’s the lure of the basket of low-priced goodies near the cash register at your favorite bath and body store.

Unfortunately, overspending on a home, especially one that may not fit your wants and needs, is far more traumatic to your finances than impulse buying at the grocery store.

Psychologists say that the best way to avoid impulse buying (and, thus, overspend) is by having a clear idea of how much you can spend, arming yourself with a detailed list of what you need and not allowing yourself to be distracted.

This is good advice for house hunters as well

So, step number one, before you dive into creating a wish list, is to visit a lender to find out how much you can afford to spend on a home. There’s no sense looking for a home with tennis courts if you can only afford a condo, right?

Now, on to the wish list.

Make it realistic

Now that you know your home-buying budget, let’s get real on the wish list. To help you get your thoughts flowing, consider the following:

  • What you most deeply value in a home
  • What you cannot tolerate in a home

Think about these items in regards to not only where you currently live but other homes you’ve lived in as well.

If another bathroom is something of value to you, put it on the list. If you need a snappy commute, put that on the list. Avid gardener? Ensure the home has the space for you to create the garden of your dreams.

Remember, however, that this isn’t a fantasy list. Each item on the wish list should be possible to find in a home within your budget.

Which neighborhood do you want to live in?

Once you get the home’s details nailed down, it’s time to figure out where you want the home to be located. Here are some things to think about:

  • Proximity to preferred school(s)
  • Does the area fit your lifestyle? If you have children you’ll want to figure out if there are lots of other kids for them to play with. On the other hand, if you want peace and quiet, you’ll want the opposite in a neighborhood.
  • Crime affects everyone and if it’s a concern, you’ll need to do some research. Regulations forbid real estate agents from discussing crime rates with consumers, but there are other ways to sleuth. Check with the local police department and go online to areavibes.com and the US Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website.
  • Any future plans for the area? Check with the city planning office.
  • What are the neighbors like? You can get a good idea about this by actually stopping and talking to anyone you see outside. Also pay attention to how well nearby homes are maintained because this will impact the future value of the home.

Don’t forget to bring your list with you when we meet. This way we can find (hopefully) exactly what you’re looking for.

House hunting? What to inspect outside that home you have your eye on

When it comes to choosing a home to buy, there are exterior people and then there are interior people.

Exterior/interior describes what turns them on most about any particular home. It’s the gardener vs. the chef, the spring and summer outdoor entertainer vs. the I-need-a-fireplace-in-my bedroom person.

The latter group is far larger than the former, which is why when it comes to advice online, you’ll find lots of it geared toward what to look for inside a home.

Even the number of MLS photos of a home’s exterior pale in comparison to those of the interior.

Which is why today we turn our attention to the home shopper who jumps out of the care and breezes up the walkway to a home-for-sale’s front door with nary a look at the exterior.

Slow down. Take your time when you get out of the car. If the home is appealing to you, check out the exterior before getting back into the car.

Check out the landscaping

Sure, you can always change a home’s landscaping. It can be pricey, but it’s certainly doable.

It’s most important to check out the number of trees on the property. Trees, large or small, can be considered good or bad.

Let me explain.

Large, older trees can be problematic if they have invasive roots and are grown too close to the home’s foundation, swimming pool or other sensitive areas.

Then there are the big trees that were planted too close to the home and now look as if they’re ready to eat the home’s roof.

On the other hand, large, older trees that aren’t posing a risk to the home’s structure actually add value to the home and may even help you save on home energy costs.

Foundation

See those cracks in the foundation? Before you get nervous about them, keep in mind that they may mean nothing.

Or, they may mean you should run, quickly, back to your car.

Of the five types of foundation cracks, if the one you notice runs vertically on the foundation, there’s nothing to be concerned about, according to the pros at Complete Basement Systems in Colorado.

“… they’re a common sight in many homes and non-threatening.,” they claim. “Vertical cracks tend to slant slightly (within 30 degrees). To seal them, water-resistant epoxy or polyurethane injection is applied to the cracks.”

Diagonal cracks are also among the least dangerous. They are caused by what is known as “differential settlement.”

Although they aren’t among the scariest of foundation cracks, “… cracks that run diagonally at 30 to 75 degrees …” should be checked by a professional.

When buying a home, the most important cracks to have inspected are those that run at a horizontally.

“Several types exist and all indicate serious structural problems,” the folks at Basement Systems warn.

Check out their website for more information.

Ah, a sparkling swimming pool!

Listing descriptions of homes for sale are often tantalizing, right? If the home features a swimming pool, the adjectives come fast and furious.

If you’ve never owned a home with a swimming pool, brush up on their upkeep. From getting the chemicals balanced to skimming leaves and scrubbing the walls, there is a lot that goes into maintaining a clean and hygienic swimming pool.

And how will you know if a pool and its equipment at a home for sale has been properly maintained?

Ask your agent to obtain maintenance records from the seller. At the very least, find out the age of the pool and the equipment.

Look for cracks and, if you find any, have the pool inspected by a professional.

Yes, it’s an additional expense to hire a pool pro. But, consider this:

“A new, energy-efficient heat pump cost $4,500. We bought a pool-cleaning robot for about $800. Just to get the pool running, we spent about $10,000,” Sally Herigstad says of her buying-a-home-with-a-pool experience.

“Last summer, we spent about $500 on repairs, plus another $200 on chemicals,” she continued.

Her advice?

“If you have your heart set on using a pool, consider having a pool expert inspect your property before you buy the house. Be reasonably confident you can afford to fix the pool and maintain it, or no one will be having any fun with it.”

We’re happy to help you find the specialists required to give you peace-of-mind during your home purchase. Reach out anytime.

 

 

How to sell a house during a divorce

Although estimates differ depending on who is asked, 40 to 50 percent of all American marriages end in divorce.

There’s a piece of trivia to take to heart during those long, often confusing nights when you stay awake and wonder “What happened?”

But now is not the time to dwell on the past, but to deal with what’s currently happening. As painful as it may be, separating the marriage assets in preparation for the divorce is one of the uglier aspects of divorce.

There are several options as to what to do with the house when couples split up. The most common among these include:

  • One party keeps the home by buying the other’s share.
  • One party retains occupancy of the home temporarily (such as to raise the couple’s children in the family home).
  • The house is sold and the proceeds split between the parties, according to their agreement.

If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse have decided to sell your home, we’d like to help you learn what to expect from the process.

The listing process

Listing a home is typically a pretty straightforward process but, unless the two of you remain on good terms, the “typical” doesn’t apply during a divorce sale.

Every aspect of the listing must be a joint agreement, from how much work you’ll do to prepare the home for the market to how much to ask for the home.

Easier said than done at this point in the marriage, right?

We understand that it may seem impossible to come to a meeting of the minds so what we do is arm both of you with the information that may help you get there.

We’ll tour the home, making note of what we think should be done to prepare. We’ll work diligently to come up with an attractive yet aggressive list price for the home. From there, it’s up to the two of you.

This is the part of the process where, despite the memories the home holds, despite the dreams that may be dashed at this point, you’ll need to also divorce yourself from your emotions wrapped up in it.

Only then will the two of you be open to advice on what needs to be done to sell the home quickly and for top dollar.

The marketing process

We won’t tell other agents or prospective buyers why you’re selling your home, so if you want them to know about the divorce, you’ll need to give us permission to blab.

It’s truly none of anyone else’s business and, sadly, we’ve learned that news of a divorce sale causes many buyers to submit ridiculously low offers.

While living in a home that’s on the market is challenging to most who sell, when there is rancor in the house it becomes even more difficult. Keeping the house presentable at all times is hard even under the best conditions and last-minute requests to view an already disrupted home life need to be expected, planned for and accommodated.

The offers to purchase

Reviewing offers as they come in is probably the most challenging part of the process. Nothing will happen with an offer unless the two of you are in complete agreement.

This agreement extends to everything that a buyer may want to negotiate, from time limits for the removal of contingencies to price.

Discuss this up front. If you can agree to at least put your differences aside during this aspect of the purchase process it will go a long way toward a successful outcome.

Dividing the proceeds

Both of you will need to meet with your lawyers in advance of the sale to determine how to divide the proceeds from the sale. Once we have a buyer, we’ll submit instructions to the escrow company outlining the distribution agreement and the escrow officer will take it from there.

Distribution needs to be determined before we get an offer to purchase.

We have worked with many clients who are in your exact situation so we understand the challenges you face. It’s our goal to make the process as easy on both of you as possible.

Dealing with Mother Nature’s Aftermath

Winter can brutal on our homes. In conversations with our clients who bought homes last summer and fall, we’re hearing a lot of confusion about how to deal with Mother Nature’s aftermath.

So, this month, we’ve decided to help give you a leg up and become proactive by answering some of these questions. We’ll start with roof issues, since these seem to be the most common complaint we’ve heard.

Roof damage

Naturally, we heat our homes in the winter. But, while that heat is keeping us warm and toasty inside, it’s also melting the ice of the roof.

Typically, the resulting water will end up in the home’s gutters and downspouts, which aren’t feeling the heat from the interior of the home. So, the water refreezes, forming what are known as “ice dams.”

The melted ice may also invade the roof’s flashings, causing damage to the attic.

Even if the ice doesn’t melt, the mere accumulation of snow and ice may become too heavy for the roof to hold and it will collapse.

Reduce the risk of clogged gutters by ensuring they are kept clean of debris as we head into winter. Hire a professional to remove ice and snow from the roof if you suspect it has become too heavy.

“The warning signs of a roof collapse include interior sagging ceilings, consistent creaking noises, difficulty opening and closing windows and doors, and more,” according to The Roof Doctor in Utah.

Ew, mold!

Those aforementioned pesky ice dams bring with them even more trouble.

The process of freezing and thawing that creates and enlarges the dam causes moisture with nowhere to go but into the attic and below.

This, in turn, may cause damage to insulation and drywall. It definitely creates the perfect atmosphere for mold grow.

But this isn’t the only area that mold may find hospitable. “In homes tightly sealed for winter, warm air can’t easily escape,” the mold experts with Comprehensive Mold Management in Rochester, NY. tell the Democrat and Chronicle.

“When windows are sealed tight, condensation tends to collect indoors on windows and even walls, creating an optimal area for mold to grow,” they continue.

Kitchen and bathroom steam can also create some of mold’s ideal atmosphere.

Wet basements

A basement radiates heat up to 8 inches outside the basement walls, according to the pros at Triad, a basement water solution company in Gaithersburg, MD.

That radiated warmth will melt frozen soil and snow, creating more moisture that may seep into the home.

The experts at Triad suggest that replacing poorly-draining soil around the basement with clean fill dirt may be the key to directing the melted snow away from the home.

Repair cracks in the basement’s walls and floor and ensure that the sump pump is working properly.

Then, turn your attention to the windows. Ensure they’re properly sealed and that the window wells have drainage holes and that those holes aren’t clogged with dirt.

Check the home’s gutters and downspouts. If these features aren’t installed properly, or routinely maintained, they have the potential to do more harm than good,” according to the pros at Triad.

The yard

Another common problem that winter visits on our homes has to do with the slope of our yard. Yours slopes away from your home, right? Like the downspouts, proper slope helps direct excess water away from the home. It should slope 6 inches down, away from the house.

Want to figure out the slope? This YouTube video offers an inexpensive, easy way to do so.

Feel free to reach out to us if you need help becoming proactive before winter. We have lots of tips that we’re happy to offer.

4 Ways to save money on insurance when you buy a home

Mortgage insurance, title insurance and homeowners insurance. There’s a lot to learn about insurance if you’re a first-time home buyer.

Once you’re caught up on the differences between the types of insurance involved in the purchase, it’s time to start finding ways to save money on premiums.

There’s nothing you can do to lower your mortgage insurance premiums and yes, you can shop around for title insurance, but the best place to realize significant savings over the long-haul is on homeowners insurance.

The average annual cost for homeowner’s insurance, nationwide, is “… $1,445 per year and $120 per month — but the cost of coverage varies significantly based on state laws, your home’s location and the cost to rebuild,” according to the number crunchers at ValuePenguin.com.

One way to pay less for homeowners insurance is to buy a newly-constructed home. In fact, when it comes to premium discounts, “… more than 35%–goes to new construction owners,” according to CNBC’s Beth Braverman, citing the pros at the Insurance Information Institute.

All that newness, from the wiring and plumbing to the HVAC system and more, gives insurers the peace of mind that existing homes don’t bring.

Braverman goes on to suggest that “… you may be able to shave off more than 19% by bundling your home and auto policies with the same insurer.”

Here are some additional ways to save money on your homeowners insurance when buying a home.

1. Just say “NO!” to a McMansion

Your homeowners insurance premium isn’t based on the value of the home, but on the cost to rebuild it.

Obviously, then, since the cost decreases as the size gets smaller, it will cost more to insure a large home.

Of course, you’ll need to base your size needs on more than just insurance costs. But if you can get what you need in fewer square feet than that huge house you have your eye on, you will save money.

Keep in mind that the savings in this scenario won’t stop with your insurance premium. It costs less to maintain a small home and it costs far less to heat and cool it.

2. Safety features are worth their weight in gold (well, almost!)

Smoke detectors are the most prevalent basic safety feature in all homes, so don’t plan on getting a huge premium discount for them.

Go beyond the basics if you want to save some bigger bucks.

  • If replacing the home’s roof, use fire-proof roofing materials (brick, stone and concrete, for instance)
  • Add a security system
  • Install an in-home fire sprinkler system.
  • Add deadbolt locks to all entry doors.
  • Update “… your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.” (Insurance Information Institute)

Ask your agent how much you can save by performing any of the above upgrades.

3. Brainstorm with your insurance agent

Homeowners should speak with their insurance agents at least once a year to determine if their coverage is still adequate. Since you’re just starting out in home ownership, take the time to have a conversation now with your agent.

Find out what other discounts are available. For instance, will adding storm shutters or re-enforcing the roof lower your premium?

Discounts vary by insurance company and by state. “For example, since retired people stay at home more than working people, they are less likely to be burglarized and may spot fires sooner, too,” according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Retired people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies,” they continue.

4. Protect your credit rating

Many first-time buyers that we’ve worked with were unaware that their credit rating helps determine their homeowners insurance premium.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you keep an eye on your credit information by checking it on a regular basis. Ensure that there aren’t any inaccuracies and dispute any that exist.

Finally, shop around for homeowners insurance. It will pay off in a lower house payment.

5 hot features home sellers frequently forget to mention

When selling a home, homeowners depend on their agents to ensure that the home is sufficiently marketed. And, that’s understandable.

What many home sellers don’t understand, however, is how much knowledge they have about the home – knowledge that, in the hands of the right listing agent – can be transformed into powerful marketing points.

Before the home goes on the market, do yourself a favor and brainstorm all the positive aspects of your home. Here are five to get you started.

1. Why did you buy your current home?

Something powerful attracted you to the home and whatever it is might just be worth mentioning in the home’s marketing materials.

Take a mental walk-through of your life as you were house hunting and happened upon your current home. From location to floor plan, something struck you and made you fall in love with the property.

Share this information with your listing agent.

2. Chemical-free and/or eco-friendly home improvements and maintenance projects.

If the paint on your walls is free of VOCs, your home is tested annually for radon, or your furnace and air conditioner contains allergy-free components, put that on your list.

If you replaced your front door with an energy-efficient model, that’s a selling point.

Anything you’ve done to the interior or exterior that is chemical free or eco-friendly is something your listing agent needs to know about.

3. Nearby amenities that are popular with neighborhood residents

Real estate agents understand that nearby parks and schools are worth mentioning in an MLS listing.

But you live in the neighborhood and are more aware of what your neighbors find valuable. If there is an attraction or amenity nearby that is particularly popular, it’s worth mentioning to your real estate agent.

Think outside of your own preferences. For instance, you may not care that the airport is a quick 10 minute drive from the neighborhood, but it may just snag a potential buyer who takes frequent business trips.

4. Is your home baby boomer bait?

Older Americans aren’t selling their homes as much as the experts thought they would. Yet, they still make up the largest share of home sellers.

They often seek one-story homes with the following attributes:

  • Lots of storage space
  • Low-maintenance landscaping
  • A walkable neighborhood
  • Low taxes
  • Energy-saving windows and appliances

If your home boasts any of these features, marketing it to baby boomers may just snag the perfect buyer.

5. A dedicated laundry room will help sell your house

If you’re like most Americans, the laundry room is the workhorse of the home. It’s also usually the most neglected room when it comes to deep cleaning and décor.

According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a laundry room is an essential, according to 76% of the homebuyers they surveyed.

In fact, it took the number one spot on the list of what second-time homebuyers consider “essential.” It’s second to a living room on the list of essentials for first-time homebuyers.

If your home has a dedicated laundry room, make it the star of the home. Clean it until it’s immaculate. Consider a new, light-colored coat of paint and some yummy décor to make it irresistible.

You’ll find inspiration online at pinterest.com, ashleywinndesign.com and thespruce.com.

What you need to know about home generators

“Power outages likely if there is an extreme weather event this winter,” warn meteorologists at kens5.com.

“Report warns Texas to take certain steps to avoid future winter power outages,” blasts a recent headline at mysanantonio.com.

“Longer, more frequent outages afflict the U.S. power grid …,” according to a story in the Washington Post.

From coast to coast, Americans can expect at least one power outage in the coming years. In fact, according to Garrett Herring at spglobal.com, “US power outages jumped 73% in 2020,” resulting in 1.33 billion outage hours.

Short-term power outages are typically easy to handle. But, when the lights go out for an extended period of time, life becomes exceedingly more challenging.

Even if you haven’t yet experienced a prolonged blackout, the chances are good that one day you will. This is when a generator will come in handy.

Standby or portable generator?

Standby generators (also known as whole-home generators) are connected to your gas or propane source, permanently.

It is hooked into the home’s electricity so that when the unit senses that your power is out, it will switch itself on and shoot power to the circuits and appliances that you’ve previously selected.

Portable generators, on the other hand, don’t typically power the whole house. They also don’t turn themselves on and they need frequent refills of fuel (gasoline, propane, diesel, etc.).

Finally, portable generators must be located outdoors.

Cost, naturally, will play a big part in which generator you’ll choose.

“Whole-house generator cost averages $15,000 nationally,” according to Meghan Wentland at bobvilla.com. She goes on to state that the cost ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

A portable generator, according to Wentland, will run you between $500 and $2,000.

If the cost doesn’t matter, your next decision will be exactly what you want to have powered during an outage.

If it’s just an appliance or two and a few lights, a portable generator may serve your purposes.

If you want to power the entire home, consider going with the standby generator.

Safety considerations

“Running a generator improperly can kill you in as little as 5 minutes if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough,” according to Haniya Rae at consumerreports.com.

Sadly, it happens to between 60 and 70 people each year.

“No matter what, resist the urge to move a portable generator inside the house or the garage,” cautions Don Huber, Consumer Report’s director of product safety.

Locate the portable generator at least 20 feet from the home and ensure that it exhausts in the opposite direction of the home.

For more generator safety information visit energy.gov.

7 ways to protect your privacy while your home is on the market

It’s been said that knowledge is power. And, while poking around in a home seller’s personal papers for knowledge isn’t what the average buyer does, there is always a chance that a bad actor will tour the home.

Even if what is noticed isn’t nefarious, if it gives the buyer knowledge of why you’re selling, or your financial picture, you may lose a bit of negotiating power.

Following is a list of ways to guard your privacy while your home is on the market.

1. See those stacks of mail on the counter?

They need to be put away. Overdue bills, and letters from divorce lawyers can all be a dead giveaway as to why you are selling your home.

Even your mortgage statements contain information that the buyer shouldn’t be privy to.

If you have a safe, lock them up. Otherwise, consider bagging them up and stowing them in the trunk of your car.

2. Clear the walls

It’s no-one’s business that you just graduated from college (and therefore have a lot of debt) or hold an advanced degree (a sign of deep pockets).

Get the diplomas and degrees off the wall and into storage.

Also consider removing anything else that includes family member’s names or achievements.

3. Clean out the closets

Yes, potential buyers open closets. All that mail and those diplomas you removed from the counters and walls?  Don’t put them in the closet.

Do a check of closets to ensure no personal papers are left out.

4. Check the drawers

I hope you didn’t put the stacks of mail in a kitchen drawer. Yes, potential buyers open drawers as well. Box up and remove anything of a personal nature prior to showing your home.

5. What kind of reading material is lying around?

Trade journals and magazines can be a clue to how you make a living. If Single Parent magazine is sitting on the living room coffee table, a buyer may assume you’re in the process of getting a divorce.

The bottom line is: don’t give potential buyers personal information that could put them in a more powerful bargaining position.

6. And don’t give identity thieves the keys to your private life

This is just a short list of items to remove from view and, preferably, from the home:

  • Bank statements
  • Checkbooks and deposit slips
  • Credit card and loan statements
  • Anything that includes your driver’s license and/or social security number
  • Insurance policies
  • Anything to do with your mortgage
  • Legal documents
  • Anything having to do with taxes
  • Anything that lists your passwords and pin

7. How is your Wi-Fi network security?

If you’re unsure how to secure your network plan on disconnecting your Wi-Fi and disabling smart devices during showings and open houses.

Why?

“… without the proper security, someone could easily hop onto your wireless network,” according to Nathan Chandler & Wesley Fenlon at electronics.howstuffworks.com.

This someone could be a savvy identity thief.

As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of home showings and open houses go off without a hitch. But it pays to be prepared for that rare occasion when someone wants your private information.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

 

3 plants that will bloom indoors for you in fall and winter

Sure, that foil-wrapped holiday poinsettia you bought at the supermarket may still be quite decorative, but consider bringing home something a bit unexpected to help brighten up the interior of the home and chase away cabin fever.

Kalanchoe

“Cheerful” is the perfect word to describe the scallop-edged leaves and clusters of brightly- colored flowers of the kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana). Best of all, this gorgeous, colorful display occurs in winter, in shades of orange, pink, red, yellow and white.

This beauty performs best with lots of light so place it near a south-facing window. Overwatering will kill it, so allow the soil to dry-out between waterings. Learn more about this plant’s requirements at the New York Botanical Gardens website (scroll down the page).

Note: Parts of the Kalanchoe, especially the flowers, are poisonous to pets and children. If you suspect that your child has ingested the plant, call your medical professional or the American Association of Poison Control Centers, available 24 hours a day, at 800-222-1222.

If your pet ingests the plant, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Bonus: It’s easy to get your kalanchoe to rebloom – follow the walk-through provided by Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Peace Lily

The shorter days of winter bring with them lower levels of sunlight streaming through the home’s windows. Choosing a plant that tolerates dusky conditions is an important factor.

The peace lily (Spathiphyllum group) loves shade, and winter just happens to provides its preferred light level.

Treat it right and this glossy-leaved stunner will not only brighten up a dark corner but do so with a bloom or two as well.

Learn more about the peace lily and its care requirements online at North Carolina State University Extension.

Note: The peace lily isn’t a true lily. The plant’s leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals which, if eaten in large quantities, can cause mouth and throat irritation, vomiting and trouble swallowing. Keep out of the reach of small children and pets.

Bonus: The peace lily will wilt to let you know when it’s time to water.

African Violet

We decided to include the African violet (Saintpaulia spp.) in our list of ways to add spring to the winter because they are so easy to grow and they easily tolerate warm indoor air in the winter.

In fact, you can help your African violet thrive by keeping indoor temperatures between 65 degrees to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overwatering will kill it, so allow the soil to dry-out between waterings.

If the leaves begin to yellow, the plant may need more sunlight, so move it to a “window with western or southern exposure,” and filtered sunlight, recommend the experts at Optimara/Holtkamp Greenhouses, Inc.

Note: Never place the African violet in direct sun as it may burn the foliage.

Bonus: Create new African violets from the leaves of your current plant. Learn how online at Penn State University Extension’s website.

Yes, flower gardening season is over in much of the country. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t have gorgeous flowers growing indoors to brighten up an otherwise dreary time of year.

 

Don’t let cosmetics keep you from the home of your dreams

Most real estate agents who’ve been in the business for any amount of time will tell you that it is far too easy to fall in love with a home. It’s not wise but sometimes it can’t be helped and once it snags you, it’s over – you’re going to buy it.

The flipside are homebuyers who fall in hate with a home. The minute they step through the door something disagreeable hits their senses and they can’t get out of the home fast enough.

Every day we watch clients get turned off by ugly furniture or icky paint colors or they get hooked by clever home staging, throwing their common sense to the wind and either buying or turning down a home for all the wrong reasons.

Read on to become forewarned so you can shop smart for your next home.

Wall color

There are books written about the psychology of color – that’s how important it is in marketing anything for sale. Smart home stagers understand this concept and choose wall colors that will appeal to the emotions of the masses.

It’s a challenge to look beyond this tactic, whether the colors are amazing or downright ugly. I’ve actually sold homes that had nothing that the buyer claims he or she wanted, but the wall colors were appealing.

Whether you love the color or despise it, keep in mind that it’s just paint and for less than $1,000 you can repaint a 1,000 square foot home.

Look beyond the color to what is truly important- is there enough square footage, is the flow right, does the community offer the amenities you require?

Furniture

Stagers are the masters of deception, which is why staging a home is such a smart idea. For buyers, however, it may feel like a trap. If you’ve ever purchased a newly constructed home or rented an apartment you no doubt visited the models first, right?

Many a buyer or tenant has been lured into renting or buying based solely on the model. It’s a combination of all three items we address in this post but the furnishings are usually the clincher.

Then, when it comes time to move into your new home, reality hits: your furniture doesn’t at all make your home look like the model.

The little things

Among a home stagers’ tools is a warehouse full of mirrors, pillows, throws, rugs and more. These are the little things – the accessories ― that make the interior design really pop.

Again, whether you love them or hate them, they may speak to you. As we said earlier, it is important to look beyond these enticements to the true “bones” of the home.

In an overheated housing market, homes are moving very quickly. It’s easy to get carried away in the frenzy. Remind yourself to take a deep breath and view the home with a critical eye.

All the furniture and accessories will be gone when you move in. What you’ll be left with is a home that either works for you or doesn’t.

If you keep your heart and emotions in check, you’ll find one that is perfect for you.