Let’s face it, buyers form their first impression of your home based on the online listing. As they say, Web appeal is the new curb appeal. So get ready for your home’s first showing by taking preparation seriously.
If you are serious about selling your home, you have to take your listing photo shoot very seriously. If your photos don’t excite buyers, they may not step foot inside.
You should prepare for your photo shoot as much as you would for an open house or private showing. Work alongside an excellent local real estate agent , and follow these tips to make sure your home looks its best.
Never list your home online without photos
Today’s buyers get email and text alerts when a new home that matches their criteria hits the market. There is nothing more frustrating than to see the desired address come across as an alert, only for the listing to be incomplete.
Buyers (and agents) will punish you for jumping the gun. Will they go back later and look again, once you have the photos up? Maybe — but maybe not.
You’re adding an extra step for them, and it comes across like you don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not a great way to start out with your future customer.
Clean, declutter, organize and remove
You should spend a good amount of time preparing for your photo shoot. This means that you fluff the pillows, put toilet seats down, put Fido’s bowl and toys away, and ensure the home is in impeccable condition.
A tidy home free of clutter appeals to buyers. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
People can zoom in, zoom out and play with photos in online listings. They’ll notice everything. If your photos don’t show your home well, it sends a message to the buyer that you don’t care, and that you are not a serious seller.
The buyer is your customer. You have a product for sale. Take the time to present it in the best possible light.
Poor photos won’t cut it
Images that are blurry, poorly lit, or distorted are not going to sell your home.
It’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer who will take high-resolution photos, and even bring extra lighting or equipment to enhance their work. They’ll also take dozens of pictures and work tirelessly to show your home in the right light and from the best angles.
Well-lit photos show off your home’s assets. Courtesy of Zillow Digs.
Don’t skimp on the number of photos
When it comes to photos, the more, the merrier. You want to make it easy on buyers to get comfortable with and learn more about your home.
Not only are the listing photos their initial impression, but they serve to help orient the buyer after the first or second showing. Once they have been through the home in person, they are better able to relate to the floor plan and how it flows. Going back to the listing photos allows them to make connections and dig deeper. Encourage them to do so by posting plenty of photos.
8 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know
If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down from floorboards to rooftop as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape—but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too! That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.
Last week we told you the secret etiquette rules that every home buyer needs to know in order to nail the deal. Today we’re focusing on the selling side of the equation. Here are the (previously) unwritten etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home—and themselves—in the best possible light.
Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors® agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.
“Buyers don’t feel as comfortable when the owner is at the home watching their every move,” explains Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “Get out of their way so that they can start to picture themselves living there instead of being spied on.” So take a powder. Or at least hide.
Take your pets with you
You think Humbert is the cutest labradoodle ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.
“Imagine, as a buyer, having the background music set to ‘barking dog’ while you are trying to take in the home’s nuances that you, as the seller, have worked so hard to hone,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “To say nothing of the stress it puts on your beloved pet. Take your mutt for a car ride, to the dog park, or for a long walk. It will do you both good.”
Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.
Betty Clark, who claims an “irrational fear of birds,” says she was shocked by how many open houses she ran from due to unexpected tweeting and chirping from caged and uncaged feathered friends. Don’t alienate would-be purchasers by forcing your pets on them.
Move your car
“Make it easy for visitors to park and view the home,” Kensington notes. “No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.” In fact, if potential buyers have to park a block away and walk, they may just skip taking the tour of your home. Or if they’re willing to make the hike, they may be in a lousy mood by the time they enter your home. Why risk it?
Lay out important documents
If questions arise while buyers are on the premises, it may help them decide to put in an offer that much faster if they can find answers quickly and in writing.
“Leaving necessary documents in an easy-to-find spot isn’t just good for selling, it’s also good selling etiquette,” says Kensington. “Put out the home inspection report, appraisal, home warranty, monthly bill information—gas, oil, electric—and proof of any major repairs are all good things to let people look through when they are considering buying your home.”
Offer some refreshments
House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help!
“Putting out a few small bottled waters in a small bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go sort of refreshments like mints or cookies,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.
Be patient waiting for feedback
Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. Buyers often want to process what they’ve seen and think it over before making an offer. If one comes through, don’t worry, you’ll hear about it!
“It is reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond,” Hayward says.
Don’t be greedy
Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.
“Focusing on your bottom line is always important, but greed can lead to disaster. Remember a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Generosity will lead you to your promise land,” says Josh Myler, a Realtor with The Agency.
Listen to the professionals
If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell the home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally.
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” says Caroline Gosselin, a Realtor with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties. “Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about the house, be it a Realtor or an inspector. It’s immature and unmannerly not to be able to take criticism and be able to move on.”
Get Ready To Sell- in The Spring Real Estate Market
With spring being the busiest time for real estate, homeowners planning to put their homes on the market shouldn’t wait for flowers to bloom before getting ready to sell. Having a few months to prepare and getting ready, can translate into more money in your pocket.
Here are some things you can do now to get ready for a spring sale:
Clear Away the Clutter
Once your home is on the market you’ll need to keep it as neat as possible. One way to make that easier is to reduce the amount of clutter you have on your shelves and surfaces. Put away items that are regularly on your kitchen sink and completely clear off your kitchen counter-top . Clean off your refrigerator completely and remove all but a handful of family photos, in this case- less is more. Pack away your collections, they may detract attention from buyers looking at your house- you want them to focus on what may be their new home . Pack away most of your books. Go through your closet and pack away or throw away or donate clothes you don’t need, making your closet look bigger and more attractive to potential buyers. While everyone has clutter, buyers want to see a fantasy version of your house, in which they can envision living.
It may seem premature to start packing months in advance of your move, but since you’ll eventually need to do this anyway, you might as well get organized now. You can sort through your storage closets, attic, basement or garage to determine what you want to keep, what to give away and what to sell. Also, now is the time to throw away old furniture that you don’t want to move to your new home. Boxing up items will make your space look larger and neater when it’s time to show your home. You can also get an idea of whether you need to rent a storage facility while your home is on the market.
While you don’t necessarily want to do a major, expensive renovation project before you sell, you can make minor repairs and improvements that will make your home look fresher to buyers. Try things such as replacing the caulk and grout in your bathroom, updating old or rusted ceiling fans and light fixtures, and changing switch plates, doorknobs and other hardware for a clean and neat appearance. Consider painting your front door and trim even if your rooms don’t need new paint. Clean your carpet and hire a professional cleaner to start a baseline and make upkeep easier.
Research Your Market
If you plan to buy another home, an important decision to make is whether to sell your home first or make an offer on a new home before putting yours on the market. A knowledgeable REALTOR can help you evaluate how fast homes are selling in your market and help you estimate how long it will take you to find a home. This decision also depends on your financing, so you may want to consult with a lender to see how you can finance the transition from one home to another if you choose not to sell your home first. Go over the listing paperwork now so you will be able negotiate commission and listing time frames.
Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Home to Sell
Do your research, choose your listing price, and watch the buyers line up.
Unlike the cost of a gallon of milk or a flat-screen television, a home’s price can be hard to pin down. It’s complicated because each home is unique, and has its own story to tell.
When it comes to pricing your home to sell, the only thing to do is to look at the recent sales and active listings of similar homes in your area. Combine this research with the inside market knowledge of a local real estate agent, and you can confidently choose your list price.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when determining how much to ask for your house.
Make sure to look at recent comps
Markets change fast, so it’s best to find comparable sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal might have been made many months before it closed.
Real estate markets can turn on a dime, so a deal put together more than six months ago isn’t applicable. Pending sales are your best indicator of the current market’s conditions.
Understand that fixtures and finishes matter
Let’s face it, buyers prefer a tastefully home renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures over an unrenovated home, one stuck in the ’80s, or one with outlandish decorations.
When looking at comparable houses online, you must be objective. If your home isn’t updated, it’s not going to sell for as much.
Here’s the good news: The amount of money it would cost to upgrade your house is probably a lot less than the difference in value. Be open to making some small changes before listing.
No two homes are alike
The 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with two-car parking on a quarter acre down the street just closed for $500,000. That means your home — also a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with two-car parking on a quarter acre — is also worth $500,000, right?
Not so fast. What you don’t realize is that the other home’s three bedrooms are not all on the top floor, and that the home lacks an en-suite master bathroom, its kitchen is closed off from the living areas, and the layout is choppy.
Buyers pay more for better floor plans and flow. Your home, with an open concept kitchen/living area and three bedrooms all near each other, is much more valuable.
Small nuances in the market will affect price
Understand that each comparable home requires some serious research before calling it a “comp.” A house down the block may seem like it’s the same location as yours, but it could be in a different school or tax district, which will affect its value.
A smaller home may have sold for 20 percent more than yours, but maybe it was on a double lot that could be split, which makes it more valuable to a builder or developer.
If you see a nearby home with a price that seems off the mark, there must be a reason. Dig deeper to uncover what it is, and realize that the home may not, in fact, be a comparable one.
Go see homes for sale
Rarely does anyone decide to sell overnight. Once you realize a sale is in your future, get out and see what’s in your market. Check out open houses nearby to see the interiors for yourself.
Homes you see in January will likely be pending or closed by the time you list in April. Or they may still be on the market, which is an indication of poor pricing.
Check out the different floor plans, finishes and fixtures of nearby homes for sale, and consider whether each is more or less valuable than yours.
The best seller is the informed one. So don’t rely solely on your agent’s word about a particular house, or the market in general.
Use your agent as a resource
The earlier you bring a local real estate agent into the fold, the better. Top agents tour properties regularly, and know their market inside and out. They can likely explain the seemingly inexplicable, and offer tips to help make your home more valuable.
A good agent has the inside knowledge on pending homes sales and their finger on the pulse of the market 24/7. But remember to research independently, and never rely solely on the advice of your agent.
Art deco will make a bold new comeback in 2016. Look for the style’s trademark geometric patterns and honeycomb shapes to weave their way into everything from wallpaper to artwork, adding elegance and dimension to any space. Experts also predict gold statement lighting fixtures will become more popular.
Nubby wool or other natural fibers will be the go-to texture for 2016, especially for area rugs. Their neutral hues create the perfect indoor/outdoor vibe, while softening bolder colors and dramatic statement pieces.
These intricate patterned tiles get their coloring from different types of clay rather than glaze, and can be used to create a beautiful, natural-looking focal point. Expect to see encaustic tiles pop up in a variety of rooms throughout the house in 2016, including kitchen backsplashes, bathroom shower tiles, accent walls and even fireplace mantles.
Travel souvenirs, unique artisan pieces and flea market finds will take center stage in home design as more homeowners gravitate toward decorating with unique art pieces that tell a story. Look for a rise in partnerships between big box stores and global artisans to accommodate the increased demand for one-of-a-kind or handmade items.
The mason jar trend is exhausted, and will finally make its exit in 2016. After using them to invoke a rustic chic feeling everywhere from wedding decor to restaurants, experts and homeowners alike are finally ready to move on.
Burlap is too harsh for indoor use, and is far overplayed for another year in the spotlight. Instead, homeowners will gravitate toward softer natural fibers that are more suitable for throw blankets, pillows and rugs.
Want to learn more about 2016’s hottest home design trends? Check out more photos of the top trends on Zillow Digs!
Bill has goodies for ordinary homeowners – The Washington Post
Homeowners and mortgage borrowers got early Christmas gifts from Congress in the form of tax benefits. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
Classic Christmas tree bill has goodies for ordinary homeowners
Homeowners and mortgage borrowers got early Christmas gifts from Congress in the form of tax benefits. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
By Kenneth R. Harney December 23
It’s a classic Christmas tree bill, loaded with year-end giveaways for dozens of special-interest groups and easy to mock. The $620 billion “extenders” legislative package passed by the House and Senate before the holiday recess hands out generous tax presents to all sorts of niche pleaders, from racehorse owners, motor-sports track operators, rum makers in Puerto Rico, TV and film producers and a wide assortment of others.
But don’t forget: Homeowners and mortgage borrowers also count as special interests on Capitol Hill, and this year’s Christmas tree is sprinkled with tax benefits for them as well. Some could even lower your next tax bill.
Take home improvements you made during the past year that conserve energy, such as putting in new insulation, more efficient windows or an exterior door. You may be eligible for a 10 percent tax credit on their cost, up to a maximum credit of $500. Tax credits come directly off your bottom-line federal tax bill, so a $500 credit is more valuable than a $500 deduction, which is tied to your marginal tax bracket.
The energy-efficiency credits expired at the end of 2014, but the new bill retroactively authorizes them for all of 2015 and through 2016. Industry estimates predict that homeowners will save nearly $700 million in taxes this year and next, thanks to the extension.
The federal budget bill that Congress passed along with the extenders legislation also reauthorized the biggest home energy-efficiency tax subsidy of all: the 30 percent credit for installing “renewable energy” improvements such as solar panels and wind and geothermal equipment. There is no dollar limit on what you can claim as a credit on these improvements, but the equipment must be purchased by you outright and installed on your principal residence. If you don’t own the solar panels on your roof, you don’t qualify for the credit.
Another key extension in the tax bill: Deductions for mortgage-insurance premium payments. Millions of home buyers who make down payments of less than 20 percent are charged mortgage insurance premiums or guaranty fees, whether for conventional loans (those eligible for sale to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) or government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) or Rural Housing loans backed by the Agriculture Department.
Until a few years ago, the premiums were not deductible, but the new tax bill will allow you to write off the premium payments made this past year and through 2016. This is of special importance for moderate-income buyers. If your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married and filing singly), you can write off all your mortgage-insurance premium payments. Above $100,000 (or $50,000), the amounts you can deduct step down, and they ultimately zero out when your income exceeds $109,000 ($54,900).
For some homeowners, the most important provisions in the extenders bill have nothing to do with credits or deductions. For them, the reauthorization of the mortgage-debt forgiveness exception could save thousands of dollars of potential tax liability, this year and next.
Under the federal tax code, when a lender forgives or cancels a debt obligation you owe, the IRS treats the amount forgiven as ordinary income to you, taxable at the regular marginal rate. In 2007, Congress created a special exception to this rule for homeowners who had mortgage debt canceled as part of a short-sale arrangement with a lender, a foreclosure or a loan modification.
Since then the exception has been reauthorized several times and has been used by an estimated 800,000 financially distressed owners. But it expired last Dec. 31. That lapse left potentially thousands of owners who received debt cancellations during 2015 twisting in the wind, uncertain about whether that transaction might result in tax bills they could not afford. For example, an owner who participated in a short sale and had $100,000 of mortgage debt forgiven, might owe the IRS $28,000 or more.
The new extenders bill removed that uncertainty. On qualified mortgage debt cancellations completed during 2015 and 2016, short sellers and others can be assured that they won’t be hit with big tax bills. How big a deal is this? If you were or are underwater on your home mortgage and a short sale — with some amount of debt forgiveness by the lender — is the only way out, it’s a very big deal.
by Ken Harney- email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The things we consider to be must-have home features are constantly changing—less than a half-century ago, plush, “can’t see my feet” shag carpeting (in bold colors such as gold, orange, and purple) was all the rage, and kitchen appliances came in coordinating hues. A quarter-century ago there was no HGTV to tell us to knock down a wall to open up the kitchen or swap out bathroom vanities. And just a few years back, tiny homes were just, well, really small homes.
We wondered what home qualities are must-haves right now, what the up-and-comers are, and what’s heading straight for the dustbin of home features history. To find out, our data team dug deep into our millions of listings and sifted out the most commonly used phrases for home features, going back five years.
Voila! Here are the 20 features that are most often touted in our listings. These are the stuff that home dreams are made of—a mixture of classic favorites and rising stars.
At first glance, the results aren’t too surprising. After all, who doesn’t love fireplaces and wood floors? (Well, other than those who prefer carpet, which is No. 3.)
“Rather than a barometer of trends, those are really adoptioncycles,” says Javier Vivas, data analyst at realtor.com®. “It’s more about how long it takes a particular new feature to become prevalent. It’s like car technology: First you see the cutting-edge stuff in luxury cars, then it spreads into the mainstream.”
Listings have gotten ever-more detailed and adorned in recent years, and certain features appear more and more often as selling points. So popularity among listing descriptions is kind of like being listed on the S&P 500—it shows that a feature is no passing trend. For example, granite countertops, once a splurge, are now a go-to feature—they’ve shot up from being mentioned in 8% of listings in 2011 to 13% today.
Got it? Good. Let’s go home shopping! Don’t forget to bring your checkbook.
Fireplace (No. 1)
On a chilly night, nothing competes with snuggling up near a crackling fire—or maybe it’s the hissing, considering that the leading type of fireplace mentioned in 3.2% of our listings is gas. After all, it’s easy to clean and maintain and comes in some cool modern designs. Still, there’s nothing like the charm of a wood-burning fireplace, and its popularity is picking up fast.
And in total, fireplaces—wood-burning, gas, brick, stone, or kiva—are the stars of 23.8% of our listings.
Always popular, the classic elegance of a wood floor continues to gain ground, particularly since last year. Not surprisingly, carpeting’s popularity seems to rise and fall in opposition to wood. It’s made a comeback before, but wood seems to be pulling ahead. In 2015, wood floors appeared in 15% of listing descriptions, 2 percentage points ahead of carpet.
Meanwhile, the tile floor—though never a major contender for the top spot—has slipped from No. 4 in 2011 (when it beat out walk-in closet and open floor plan) to today’s No.10. Still, it will probably hold onto its niche in humid, warm climates such as that of Florida.
Granite counter (No. 4)
Once a rare luxury, granite has become more affordable and is now practically standard for anyone who gives a hoot about kitchen design. It shot to fame quickly over the past five years, making its slick presence felt in 13% of all listings. For those who think all this trendy granite craziness is on the wane, reports of its death, as Mark Twain might (or might not!) have said, are greatly exaggerated—at least according to our listings data.
Stainless-steel appliances (No. 5)
With their elegant and modern appearance fitting into almost any kitchen design, stainless-steel appliances have made their way into more and more households since the 1990s. “Stainless” is now mentioned in 9% of all listings, almost double its share of five years ago.
Open floor plan (No. 6) vs. formal dining room (No. 8)
A house divided? Not these days. Separate living rooms, dining areas, and kitchens have been edged out by the open floor plan, which knocks down or eliminates walls to create a sense of spaciousness and light.
The open floor plan has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and in 2014 it surpassed the formal dining room for the first time. In 2015, an open floor plan is the fifth most popular feature, representing 8% of listings. The much-debated open kitchen, which encompasses the dining as well as the cooking area, also made it onto the list at No. 9.
Walk-in closet (No. 7)
In a time of over-the-top “glam rooms” dedicated to, um, getting ready, the walk-in closet is another feature that has seemingly gone from luxe to a near necessity. Stashing all your clothes in a shallow closet with hangers crammed together and no shelves? How primitive! It’s no wonder 7% of home listings mention walk-in closets as a big selling point.
Chef’s kitchen (No. 16) vs. open kitchen (No. 10)
The kitchen used to be all business—a place to churn out meals, nothing more. Again, we’ll point the finger at TV—not just HGTV, but also the Food Network—for fueling homeowners’ desire for a kitchen worthy of a chef, featuring a center island, a large stove/oven with hood, and granite or marble counters (see No. 3).
And it’s not just for cooking, but also for hanging out while you prepare the meal—especially if you have an open kitchen, touted in 5.7% of listings. We’ll also point out that five of the top 20 home features are kitchen-related.
Garden tub (No. 20)
No, a garden tub is not set amid the lovely and fragrant rose beds so you can bathe in the open air (and get bitten by insects). The term generally refers to a wider and deeper bathtub that usually has steps but no jets. Nice! Providing a relaxing soaking experience with less cost and cleaning difficulty, the garden tub has gained popularity over the years, but it’s still a niche feature.
We’ve talked about features that have made their way into the mainstream, but we also saw a couple that are clearly on their way out:
House with vinyl siding
Vinyl siding was once one of the most popular cladding choices, because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. But over the years it’s become something of a gauche punch line in some quarters. It’s no wonder its lead has slipped substantially in recent years, while fiber cement is gaining ground, according to PlasticsNews.com.
Oak and cherry cabinets
The last time honey oak cabinets were trending, Monica-gate was a thing, Will Smith was the prince of Bel-Air, and Y2K loomed as the biggest threat the world faced. Yes, the ’90s were particularly friendly to oak cabinetry and cherry wasn’t far behind, popularitywise, but those days are long past. Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find either in listings or in new home construction. But maple cabinets? Welcome to the future!
Selling a home is nothing like buying one. Whether you’ve been in the home for four years or 40, first-time sellers need to consider some important points before getting started. Here are some great tips for first-time home sellers.
You need the right agent
Unless you’re offering the home For Sale by Owner, you will need to sign an agreement with a real estate agent and their brokerage. You’ll also have to pay a commission. Because the agreement contractually ties you to your agent for three to six months, choosing the right one is more important this time around. Unlike when you were a buyer, you can’t simply come in and out of the market.
You’ve got to be ready to sell
In the Internet age, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Information flows more quickly than ever. If you list your home at an unrealistic price or not in the best condition, the number of days on market (or DOM) will add up — and could come back to bite you later.
Sellers who resist their agents’ pricing suggestions may not be emotionally ready to separate from their home. By overpricing it, they will self-sabotage the sale. It’s better not to list your home than to “try” at a high price or in bad condition.
DOM factors into buyers’ offers
A typical buyer looking at a listing will first notice the price and size. They will then scroll through the photos and look at the listing history. If a home has been on the market more than three months, they may think there is something wrong with it.
Or, what’s worse, when you do get serious and adjust your price or condition to what it’s really worth, buyers will penalize you for it by offering even less.
You’ll never interface with the brokerage — only your agent
The agent you choose matters more than the brokerage, although you should consider both. If you list your home with Tracy at Evers & Co. Brokerage, Tracy will be your only contact with the company.
Agents are independent contractors who choose to hang their license with a company whose brand and culture match their business. While a well-known or large brokerage is an important consideration for listing, if your agent is successful and someone you trust, they will do a good job no matter the brokerage.
If you get an offer, you have to move soon
Once you get an acceptable offer from a buyer and you sign the contract, the clock starts ticking toward your closing. Many sellers underestimate the amount of time it can take to list, sell and close on a home. Know your market before you list, and put a plan in place for where you’ll move when your home sells. If your market moves quickly and your agent expects the home to sell within a few weeks, it might be better to wait.
The best tips for first-time sellers is not to sell until you are ready, have a plan, know where you are going, and work with a great local agent early on. You should do what it takes to present your home in its best light and price it right.
Selling a home can be very stressful and emotional. Add on top of that packing and moving, and it’s a lot to deal with for anyone. Be sure you’re prepared before you start the process and follow the Tips for First-Time Home Sellers, ou will be happy you did.
There are few better workhorses than the right kitchen island. It’s beautiful, simple, and full of storage possibilities. Offering features from scratchproof counters for chopping to hooks, rods, and bins for stowing, the kitchen island is an invaluable addition to any home.
Best of all, there’s an island option for every style and budget. Here are a few of the best.
If you’re looking for a creative sink solution, consider installing it in the kitchen island. This setup provides a central spot to wash your hands, drain pasta, scrub dishes or rinse produce.
Kitchen islands usually evoke visions of huge, solid, and largely immobile countertops reserved for spacious kitchens. However, tiny islands are slowly gaining momentum and becoming popular for their mobility, slim size, and ease of access.
Take a look at islands on casters, which can be positioned where they’re most needed, then tucked in a corner or underneath a counter when not in use.
Kitchen islands are great for creating an extra sitting area, especially if your kitchen or dining room lacks the space for an actual table.
Choose an extra-long kitchen island with overhang to allow for a few bar stools or tall chairs. Add some festive placemats and a few dining accessories to create a unique tablescape, and clear it all away when you need some extra workspace.
One of the best ways kitchen islands add to a space is by providing unique storage options. In a room so full of doors and hardware, adding small baskets, hooks, and rods can be a fun way to stow your utensils, linens, or knickknacks. Even better, you can switch out the textures and finishes to match your favorite seasonal decor.
While kitchen islands are most often used as giant cutting boards, they’ve come full circle in design and function, and have proven to be a great way to add substance and style to any kitchen design. Take a look at your space, define your personal style, and determine your needs to find your perfect island oasis.
If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2016 is the year to take the plunge. Mortgage rates have been bouncing around record lows for a while now. But even though they’re likely to start going up, you haven’t missed your chance to get a deal on a house. A number of factors are coming together, making next year a good time to buy, 4 reasons 2016 is the year to buy a home; 1. Home prices will finally calm down
Real estate values have been on the rise for a while, but are likely to slow their pace next year. Prices are expected to rise 3.5%, according to Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.
Buyers who’ve been stuck behind the wave of rising prices may finally get the chance to jump in.
And that could lead to a flood of buyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“We have the potential for about six million home sales just through the months of April through September; that is basically impossible to do,” he said.
Related: These are the most expensive housing markets
But not everyone will be in a position to take advantage.
Despite the slowdown, Zillow still expects home values to outpace wage growth, which can make it tough to afford a home, especially for lower-income buyers.
Plus, prices in the country’s hottest markets — like San Francisco, Boston and New York City — aren’t expected to pull back as much next year. 2. More homes will hit the market
The slowdown in home prices will prompt more owners to list their homes, Smoke said, giving buyers more choice.
“Because of the price appreciation they have experienced, you will have more sellers put homes on the market next year,” he said.
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The new home market is also expected to grow in the coming year with builders focusing more on starter and middle-range homes, which will also boost inventory and make it easier for buyers.
With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could ease even more. 3. Dirt cheap mortgages could disappear
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin increasing interest rates soon, which means the window for record low mortgage rates is closing.
While rates are expected to go up gradually, higher rates push up borrowing costs and monthly mortgage payments.
“You are likely to get the best rate you will possibly see, perhaps in your lifetimes through the majority of next year, but certainly, the earlier the better,” said Smoke. 4. Rents will still hurt
Rent prices are expected to continue to climb in the new year, which means in most cities, buying will be cheaper than renting.
Even though mortgages could get more expensive, buying might still be the better deal.
Interest rates would need to rise to around 6.5% for the cost of buying to equal that of renting on a national level, according to Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia.