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Safety Tips for Showing Your Home

Showing your home is an integral part of the overall process to ultimately sell it. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were concerns about being safe when strangers came to look at your home. Now, with the pandemic continuing, homeowners are even more cautious.

With that in mind, the following are some general safety tips when you show your home, but also some related to COVID-19.

Avoid An Open House

If you’re a seller, you might want to talk to your agent and tell them you don’t want to have any open houses. A lot of real estate agents don’t think they’re beneficial anyway. During an open house, you’re taking a more significant risk than you are if you have scheduled private showings.

During an open house, it’s not only more likely that someone could target your valuables or look around to come back to your home later, but you also have more exposure to people who might be sick.

Have Your Agent Meet with Prospective Buyers First

If you’re feeling nervous and unsure about showings, talk to your agent about potentially meeting with prospective buyers outside of your home in a neutral setting before having an in-home showing. From the perspective of your real estate agent, it might add more work to their job, but at the end of the day, safety is critical.

When you do have showings, you want to make sure, regardless of whether or not your real estate agent met with them beforehand that they’re qualified buyers. You certainly don’t want people coming during a pandemic because they’re window-shopping or they’re just curious or being nosy.

You only want people who are serious about buying a home.

To find qualified buyers, there are various ways to screen them. For example, you or your agent can screen them using only appointments and asking buyers to do a virtual tour before an in-person showing.

Your agent can request a pre-qualification letter before setting a showing date.

Set Up Your Home For Contactless Showing

As far as COVID-19 concerns, if you’re a seller you might request that your real estate agent sets up your home for contactless showings. To do that, your agent might have their own strategies, but recommendations include opening all the doors and cabinets and turning on all the lights. Your agent can also pull all shades so that buyers can see everything without coming in contact with high-touch surfaces.

You can also do these things as a homeowner. Think about the touchpoints throughout your home and how you can help people avoid them when they look at your home.

Sanitize After Showings

It’s a good rule of thumb even outside of COVID-19 to sanitize your home after showings because it’s not the only infectious disease out there. You should wipe surfaces with a disinfecting wipe and do a quick clean.

Put Certain Items Away

There are some items you don’t want to have on display during showings. Your valuables and heirlooms are more obvious, but there are less obvious things to put away. Prescription pain medications are one example. Your mail and bills are other things to put away in preparation for a home showing.

Use Smart Home Technology

Finally, you might consider using smart home security while your home is on the market because this is when it’s especially vulnerable to various threats. Plus, if you add some safety and security features, it can make your home more appealing to buyers. At a minimum, using a smart lockbox is a good idea because it gives you control over who comes into your home no matter where you are.

Could Your Garage Get Your Home Sold?

You’ve made updates to your kitchen. Made sure your bathrooms look fresh and clean. Decluttered EVERYTHING. Even dropped your price. But your house still isn’t selling. Could your garage make the difference?

It just might.

“When prospective buyers visit your for-sale home, they’re going to inspect every room in the house—even the garage,” said Sara Reese of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida on RISMedia. “It’s not exactly a glamorous space, but if your garage is a mess, it’s going to send a bad signal and turn off visitors. Therefore, it’s helpful to spend a little time in your garage and make it look its best.”

Here are a few tips to get your garage in great shape.

Replacing your garage door

If your garage door works perfectly fine, replacing it may not be a high priority. But consider it curb appeal. Garage doors are large items, and they take up a lot of eye space. Especially if your garage faces the street, a dented, chipped, or dingy door could be stealing focus from the rest of your otherwise-put-together house.

“Remodeling Magazine found in its 2019 Cost vs. Value study that an upscale garage door replacement can actually net you a return of 97.5%,” said HomeLight. “A new garage door will run you between $300 to $1,500, depending upon the size and style, while installation typically costs between $500 and $800.”

If the garage makes a loud or creaky sound when it opens, spending a few hundred dollars to replace the garage door opener is a no-brainer.

Finishing out the garage

Finishing out your garage isn’t recommended if you’re looking for the best return on investment (ROI). While this type of upgrade may appeal to a niche buyer, most aren’t going to pay extra for it, and you likely won’t recoup your costs.

Just adding epoxy to the floor can cost between $1,400 and $3,000. You could do it yourself for about $100, but the process can be tricky and the results may reflect your novice status.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble and expense of epoxying the floors, make sure you get them nice and clean. “If your garage floors are cracked and covered in oil stains from cars gone by, it’s a good idea to give the floor a good pressure washing and repair those cracks (depending on how big or noticeable they are),” said Nexx. According to homewyse, power washing the garage floor will cost around $200.

Adding storage

After giving the garage a good cleaning, this is the No. 1 must-do to get the space in good shape. According to Kiplinger, 85% of buyers said they want garage storage.

You can easily spend thousands on dedicated garage storage systems that make the space look pristine, but creating spaces to neatly stash your stuff doesn’t have to be costly. A few large metal shelving units placed side by side will only cost you a few hundred dollars. These freestanding units are popular with buyers because the doors hide messes. And, when you put a few of them together, you can turn the top into a work surface.

Adding a garage

If you don’t have a garage and you’re in an area where most homes do, adding one might be on your mind. Your real estate agent should be able to advise you on whether or not this is a smart move, especially given the expense and expected ROI. “At a national level, home sellers can expect to recover close to 64.8% of their initial garage addition costs,” said Clever. “Let’s say that you invest $27,000 in adding a garage to your home, you may recover about $17,496 when you sell your home.”

Doing a garage conversion

Perhaps you’re thinking of converting your garage to living space. It is less expensive than adding on; According to Realtor.com, a garage renovation “comes in at $11,000 on average.”

While a conversion isn’t necessarily a recommended strategy if you’re looking to get your home sold right away because of the expense and the time involved, there are some instances where this might be a good move.

“Nearly 30% of shoppers rate a garage as one of the most important home features, just ahead of an updated kitchen and open floor plan. But “a ‘well-done’ garage conversion to living space can give you up to an 80% ROI.”

The decision of whether to go this route largely hinges on that expense, but also on the specific area in which your home is located. It’s best to talk with your real estate agent before dropping the hammer on your garage conversion. It could be that homes without garage in your area just don’t sell. Or, perhaps there is a growing trend toward multi-generational living locally that could inform your renovation and make your home especially desirable.

Sure-Fire Ways to Enhance the Value of Your Home

As a homeowner, any investment in your home should be one that enhances its overall value. There are many different ways to improve the value of any home. The trick is to choose those features which will bring you the most return on your investment and satisfaction for your everyday living environment. Here are our best suggestions for areas to improve the value of your home.

Landscaping

The curb appeal of your home is in straight connection with the perceived value of the home. It’s important to remember that the value of your home will be determined by the buying market. For this reason, you’ll want to ensure that your home looks amazing. Curb appeal is an area that you simply can’t ignore. The outside of your home is the first glimpse that people get of your house from a listing and when driving up for a showing. You want to impress them at first sight. Investing your money in different landscaping features can provide a great return on your investment. Features can include trees, shrubs, flowers, fountains, fences, benches, ambient lighting, and so forth.

Energy-Efficient Features

Aside from the mortgage payment, one of the most expensive parts of owning a home is paying the electricity bill. This holds especially true in the dead of winter and drought of summer. To help keep energy levels low, there are various energy-efficient features that can be installed throughout your home. Solar panels tend to be some of the first features that most people think of when they hear about cutting energy costs. By producing your own energy, you can avoid the high costs of paying your utility company each month. Heat pumps are another great way to majorly reduce your heating and cooling costs. Even adding energy-efficient kitchen appliances can be a great idea to help lower the electric bill each month.

Replace Old Windows

Older windows in your home can be a big avoidance of potential homebuyers. They know that windows can be somewhat costly to fix and will avoid buying homes that will need a lot of windows replaced. You can fix this problem by installing new windows in your home. These newer windows will be more energy-efficient and make your energy bills much cheaper. According to EnergyStar, the average homeowner can enjoy savings of up to 500 per year in energy costs just by installing new windows. Also, by installing new windows, it can modernize the look of the home which is a big plus for potential buyers.

Convert Extra Space Into Rooms

One of the biggest ways to improve the value of a home is to add another bathroom or bedroom. While not all homeowners have the space to do so, it can be advantageous for those who do. Look for those spare rooms that can be converted. Even an attic space that is tall enough to be converted into a bedroom can drastically improve the value of your home. If you have a lot of open basement space, consider installing a downstairs bathroom and bedroom. The more bedrooms and bathrooms you can install, the higher the value increase for your home.

Update The Kitchen

The two most popular rooms in a home are the bathroom and the kitchen. The kitchen is one that is highly desired to be modernized. This includes new appliances, beautiful countertops, and more modern features. If you’re going to be investing your money in updating any room of your home, you should opt for the kitchen first. This will bring you the biggest return on your investment.

Increasing the value of your home can be done through many different methods. The above are just some of the most popular methods that are used by homeowners. It’s always a good idea to consider the return on investment that you’ll get from any home improvement that you intend to do. This will ensure that you get your money back when you go to resell your home in the future.

Avoid FIVE Real Estate Regrets

Can you tell good real estate advice from bad?

Unfortunately, for buyers and sellers the answer is usually, “Yes, in hindsight!” That is, after they have bought or sold.

After buyers move in or sellers move out, many things become clear. Buyers and sellers begin to discover whether the advice they followed—from family, friends, social media, how-to’s…—was the best advice to act on.

I have always believed that a type of stress-driven “temporary insanity” can descend on buyers and sellers. This is especially true if they put extra pressure on themselves by searching for a “dream or forever home.”

Clear thinking, capable individuals become frazzled. They are caught in a high-pressure vortex of unfamiliar real estate decisions, most of which must be made quickly and often without knowing or understanding all the implications:

• This is particularly true for sellers who are attempting to decide whether to let go of the home they love and at what price, often without knowing exactly what will be next for them.

• Buyers, especially first-timers, are frantically trying to project their lives into someone else’s home, under time pressures and without really understanding all that’s involved.

The most common hindsight regret and disappointment for buyers is “the one that got away”—the real estate they could have bought but didn’t.

These unmade decisions haunt some people for decades. Avoid hindsight regrets with foresight:

The 5 Most Common Hindsight Regrets

Regret #1. That we didn’t buy the house beside or behind ours, or both.
We’d have had an undisturbed view, privacy, and an amazing pool-sized backyard. The resulting large real estate holding could have set us up financially. Instead, we have a huge new house towering over ours—this is often the result when new neighbors renovate. “If only we’d…” regrets are no solution to not acting when opportunities arise.

Regret #2. That we began the search for a seasonal home, then got distracted, and nothing happened.
We keep kicking ourselves for not following through and buying that wonderful get-a-way. Now, vacation properties have climbed in value and may be out of reach. Hesitation undermines many buyers.

Regret #3. That we compromised on permanent, physical real estate characteristics to buy a property for its trendy, cosmetic features.
Letting go of a dream, like buying a detached home or a preferred location, cannot be reversed. Choosing a property because of “must have” fashionable decor features like open concept or a dream kitchen can represent short-term thinking. These features will wear out and go out of style; location and neighborhood values usually keep appreciating.

Regret #4. That we got swept away in a bidding contest and paid more than we intended.
That extra money could have bought us a different property which would have put us in a better home or a better neighborhood. Now that regret has materialized as a larger mortgage.

Regret #5. That we waited for prices to drop back to “normal” when, in our ever-changing world, that “normal” is now “history.”
When sellers become buyers, they may end up with similar regrets. If they don’t apply forethought based on evaluating the success of their last purchase, they may find additional “history repeats itself” regrets in their next purchase.

Sellers can have “selling” regrets
Some sellers may get swept up in a hot market, without much thought about where they’ll live next. This same hot market can turn on them, so they don’t have as much purchasing power as they expected. They may regret they sold if they have to settle for less in their next home. Buying before you sell can make sense when listings are scarce and you have specific demands.

Not taking the time to calculate what you’ll net out of the sale, after all expenses, including real estate commission and legal fees, can be a big regret. This is especially true if the seller zeros in on price and picks the highest sale price out of the multiple offers. Fixation on sale price can lead to regrets about expenses related to transition housing or storage necessary to meet the closing date, replacing what was included in the sale, and/or the “close-ability” of the buyer if the deal falls through.

Regrets at turning down an OK offer—perhaps the only one received—because the seller and the buyer were a few thousand apart. Sellers may regret that they did not encourage their or the other real estate professional to find a way to “make it happen.” A seller may regret they had not been asked to hold a no- or low-interest second mortgage (a VTB or vendor-take-back mortgage) for the buyer. This would have closed the financial gap so the home sold at the seller’s price. This mortgage may be sold later to give the seller cash in hand.

Regrets are a waste of time and money!
Your real estate professional’s job is not to tell you what to buy nor to tell you when to sell.

Their function is to provide accurate real estate information, dispel misinformation, access available real estate listings and data, and follow your instructions.

Professionals are there to explain the real estate transaction, expedite the buying or selling process, and help you achieve your desired results or get as close to them as the market and location allow.

They can help you clarify your thinking, consider new alternatives, and confirm your priorities.

It’s up to you to take full advantage of this support to avoid regrets and achieve a real estate outcome you can live with.

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