BEST PRACTICES FOR VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

🏠 Are you looking to buy a new home? If so, you’re probably concerned about the coronavirus and entering strangers’ homes. ✨ Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of virtual showings.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

Virtual showings are popular as they allow buyers to see the inside of a home without actually having to visit the property in person. virtual showing are becoming more common as technology advances. Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of virtual showings. 

LOOK AT A FLOOR PLAN BEFORE TAKING THE VIRTUAL TOUR

Ask your real estate agent for a floor plan of the home you’re going to see virtually. This will help you put things like ceiling height and size and layout of the room into perspective. The floor plan will also let you keep track of the rooms you’ve seen and how the flow of the home goes. 

GET YOUR DEVICE READY

When viewing a home virtually, you’ll need the strongest possible signal. You don’t need to be a tech whiz, but you do need to know how to use the technology by which you’ll view the home. 

Before the day of your viewing, make sure to practice using the app (FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.) so you’re ready and on time when the tour is scheduled. 

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

During a traditional home tour, you can see and touch everything. During a virtual tour, however, you won’t be able to. You must ask the right questions to determine if the home is worth pursuing further. 

Ask lots of questions about things you can’t perceive on-screen such as how the home smells, where natural lighting comes in, and what the noise level is like inside the home. Ask your agent to take you outside so you can see the curb appeal of the place as well. 

TAKE A VIRTUAL WALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Using Google Street View, you can take a virtual walk of the neighborhood to get a feel for the surrounding community. Do this either before or after your virtual tour, but make sure you do it to determine if the neighborhood fits you and your family – because you’re not just moving into a home, you’re moving into a community, too. 

GET A VIDEO OF THE VIRTUAL SHOWING

Ask your agent to record the virtual tour so you can refer to it later if you have questions or just want to look at the home again. This is also helpful if you have network connection issues during the live showing and miss part of the tour. 

Buying and selling homes can be a but through virtual showings, you can safely look at homes if you’re in the market to buy. 

GUIDE TO PREPARING FOR A LONG-DISTANCE MOVE

📦 Use these tips to get your home and family ready for a long-distance move.

Guide to Preparing for a Long-Distance Move

TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR A LONG-DISTANCE MOVE

Moving to a new home is always stressful, but when you add in moving to a new state, the thought can be overwhelming. There’s so much to do when preparing for a long-distance move, and it’s easy to forget a thing or two. Use this guide to help you and your family prepare for the long move ahead. 

PLAN AND SCHEDULE EVERYTHING

Moving is chaotic, so keep everyone and everything on task by planning and scheduling everything you can. Keep a central file that contains everything you need to stay organized. 

Make to-do lists, add appointments and events to your calendar, and get estimates and receipts for every service you require that pertains to your move. 

CALL MULTIPLE MOVING COMPANIES

Once you’ve formulated your plan, begin by contacting a few moving companies for estimates. It’s important to listen carefully to find out what types of things are included in their moving services. Check reviews online of each company and ask questions if you have any. Be sure to get estimates for separate services such as vehicle moving and pet relocation, if necessary. 

MAKE RESERVATIONS

Once you’ve booked the movers, it’s time to make reservations for the accommodations you’ll need along the way to your new location. If you’re flying, buy the plane tickets and make hotel reservations. If your new home won’t be move-in ready when you get there, make reservations for accommodations now. 

MAKE A PLAN FOR PETS

The ideal way to travel with a pet is by car, but if that isn’t possible, be sure you have the proper documentation and supplies on hand for travel. For example, some airlines don’t allow the transport of pets, while the ones that do usually require a certificate from a vet saying the animal is healthy and safe for transport. 

Be sure to get the necessary paperwork needed as well as pack plenty of food, medication, and other supplies for during and after arrival in your new location. 

DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

To make packing and moving your things easier, take this time to get rid of all the stuff you no longer need or want. Those ice skates in the back of your closet that you haven’t used in a decade or more? Donate them!

Those skinny jeans you just know you’ll get back into someday? Get rid of them!

The less you have to pack, the quicker and easier this part of moving will be. 

CHANGE OF ADDRESS, STOP/START UTILITIES, AND MORE

This is where things get real. Fill out the proper paperwork to notify the post office of your move. Next, call your utility companies and give them a cutoff date in your old location and a turn-on date in your new one. Try to notify as many utilities as possible in your new location before the move. 

Moving in any form is stressful but moving to a new state can be downright overwhelming. It’s easy to forget things, so use the tips above to keep on track and make the move a smooth one. 

USEFUL TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS

🔑 Buying your first home is as exciting as it is overwhelming.✨ Here’s what you need to know as a first-time homebuyer.

Useful Tips for First-Time Homebuyers


5 STEPS TO BUYING YOUR FIRST HOME

Buying your first home is a big deal. The process is fraught with exciting and daunting tasks that can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect.

Fortunately, having some up-front knowledge and making a few crucial preparations can make the process less stressful and a whole lot easier. Here are a few important tips for the first-time homebuyer. 

STEP 1 – KNOW YOUR BUDGET

Knowing your budget before you begin your home search will help you identify the monthly payment you can afford. Know how much you (and any co-buyers) bring in each month, subtract your total monthly expenses, and assess your savings potential. 

Most experts agree that you should spend no more than 30-percent of your monthly income on housing. Don’t forget that owning a home comes with additional costs to the mortgage such as utilities, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, maintenance/repairs, and more. 

STEP 2 – GET A DOWN PAYMENT TOGETHER

In most cases, a down payment is required to purchase a home. This up-front payment could be as much as 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. As a first-time homebuyer, however, you may qualify for a first-time homebuyer loan that requires a lower down payment or no down payment at all. Your lender will let you know what programs you may qualify for. 

STEP 3 – GATHER THE NECESSARY PAPERWORK

When you apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to provide a plethora of paperwork to prove you can make your monthly payments. While each lender is different, some common documents they require are:

  • Your most recent tax returns (2 years’ worth)
  • Your most recent W-2s
  • 30 days’ worth of paystubs
  • Bank account statements (2 months’ worth)
  • Any other asset or investment statements including 401ks, stocks, bonds, etc. 

Put all these documents and any others the lender requires in a folder and have them handy to help expedite the loan process.

STEP 4 – GET PRE-APPROVED

Lenders will compete for your business and the internet is full of mortgage lenders who want to lend you money. Shop around to find the best rate possible. 

Once you’ve decided on a lender, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you an idea of how much house you can afford. Also, a pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious about buying their home. 

STEP 5 – START SHOPPING

Now that you’ve gathered your down payment, organized the proper paperwork, and gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, it’s time to begin shopping for your new home. 

Again, the internet makes it very easy to find homes for sale, but it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a knowledgeable real estate agent to find your dream home. 

An agent can help you identify the homes most suitable for you as well as to navigate the often-confusing waters of the homebuying process. 

Buying your first home is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. By following the steps outlined above, however, the home buying process is likely to be a lot less stressful. 

DO THESE THINGS BEFORE LISTING YOUR HOME FOR SALE

🏠 Are you putting your home on the market? ✋ Stop!👉 Make sure you’ve done these three things before you do.

3 MUST-DOS BEFORE PUTTING YOUR HOME ON THE MARKET

Are you planning to sell your home soon? If so, you’re likely feeling excited and anxious all at the same time. This is understandable as your home is where you’ve made many memories with your family. It can be difficult letting go of that, but it’s just as exciting embarking on a new beginning somewhere else. 

Before you put your home up for sale, however, take a few weekends beforehand to complete some very important tasks. Doing so will ensure you get a great offer in the least amount of time possible. 

1. DECLUTTER, DEPERSONALIZE, AND CLEAN

This is likely the most time-consuming part of preparing your home for sale, but it’s the task that will make the most difference in the eyes of buyers. First impressions are everything, so be sure you take your time with this one. 

First, declutter. Get rid of anything you don’t need or use anymore. Think of this step as preparation for the packing you’ll eventually do. The less stuff you have, the easier it will be to pack. 

Next, depersonalize. This one may be more difficult as it means letting go of some of your fond memories. Take family photos off the walls and pack away all those knick-knacks you so fondly display. You want your home to be a blank canvas that others can picture themselves living in. 

Lastly, clean. If you haven’t spring cleaned in a while, this one will also take some time. Do the windows, vacuum and dust every nook and cranny, and organize closets and drawers as buyers will be looking in every storage space. 

2. FIX MINOR PROBLEMS

Once you’ve cleaned your home, it’s time to get those minor repairs done. While things like burnt out light bulbs or broken locks might seem like no big deal to you, buyers may see these issues as a sign that you didn’t take care of your home properly. 

Go through your home and make a list of all the minor issues you see. Repair doors that don’t close properly, replace broken locks and burnt-out lightbulbs, fix leaky faucets, etc. to paint your home in the best light possible. 

3. GET A REAL ESTATE AGENT

While it’s tempting to sell your home yourself and pocket the money that would otherwise go to an agent, doing so can cost you time and money. A good real estate agent has the means to sell your home faster and for more than you’d be able to sell it for yourself. They are specially trained for the task, and you are not. 

Look for a real estate agent who has a reputation for success in your area and follow her lead to get the most out of your home when you put it on the market. 

Selling your home can be an overwhelming but exciting time. Follow these three rules before listing it to ensure you get the most out of your home.

NEW SMART HOME TRENDS TO IMPRESS HOMEBUYERS

🏠💰 Selling your home? Here are several smart home trends you may want to consider to really wow homebuyers.

New Smart Home Trends to Impress Homebuyers

SMART DEVICES THAT ARE SURE TO WOW HOMEBUYERS

Advanced technology is all around us, making life more convenient than ever before. As such, many young homebuyers are actively searching for homes that feature smart home devices. From the kitchen to the laundry room and every room in between, these smart home trends are ones you may want to consider adding if you’re putting your home on the market. 

KITCHEN SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY

Many opportunities exist to add smart home technology in the kitchen. For example, Juno’s Thermo Electric Beverage Cooler gives users the ability to cool a beverage in under two minutes. Much like a microwave, you simply pop the drink inside, close the door, push a few buttons, and voila! A cool beverage!

The U by Moen Smart Faucet is another great invention. Using Alexa control, this faucet delivers precise amounts of water at exactly the temperature you want. 

FAMILY ROOM TECHNOLOGY

TVs have come a long way since their inception. These days, they are bigger, slimmer, and much sharper than ever before. Samsung’s Sero TV, for example, flips horizontal and vertical (much like a smartphone) to allow users to display a wide array of images and videos. 

Another advancement in TV technology is LG’s roll-up TV that gives users the extra living space they need while still enjoying all that a large TV has to offer. 

HOME SECURITY TECHNOLOGY

Home security is important to everyone, and with today’s advancements in technology, home is more secure than it’s ever been. 

Homebuyers will be impressed to see any of these home security systems.

  • The Benjilock by Hampton Livia – smart lock with keypad, app, thumbprint, and key access
  • Locky Vision – a lock and video doorbell system
  • Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight – bright lights for better surveillance
  • ADT’s Blue Security System

LAUNDRY ROOM SMART TECHNOLOGY

Anything that makes laundry less daunting is a winner, which is why homebuyers love LG’s TninQ washing machine. Designed with Alexa and mobile app controls, this advanced washing machine detects fabric types, as well as the volume and weight of loads to deliver the perfect wash cycle for that particular combination. It also dispenses detergent automatically and notifies you with updates via your smartphone or Alexa. 

BATHROOM SMART DEVICES

The bathroom is another room with many opportunities to use smart home technology. Amid the plethora of smart mirrors and makeup tech is the Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Smart Speaker. This fun showerhead/speaker combo connects wireless to any Bluetooth player up to 33 feet away, allowing you to listen to your favorite music while in the shower. 

SMART HOME PET CARE

No smart home is complete without some sort of pet care system. One of the newest and most advanced pet care systems on the market today is one that works via your TV to train your pet. The Go Dogo entertains your pet via your TV with training instructions. A built-in camera detects when your pet obeys the commands and dispenses treats as a reward. 

The smart devices listed above are just a few of the more popular on the market right now. If you are selling your home, it pays to consider making these upgrades as homebuyers are actively searching for these modern conveniences. 

HOW TO BUY A NEW HOUSE ONLINE

💻 Without a doubt, technology makes life easier on many different fronts. In the real estate market, it’s made nearly every part of the homebuying process doable remotely. 👇 Here’s what an online homebuying transaction looks like.

How To Buy a New House Online


9 STEPS TO ONLINE HOMEBUYING

Today’s society is a difficult and amazing one. While advanced technologies make life easier and more convenient, harmful viruses and civil unrest make it nearly impossible to interact with others as we once did. Because of these factors, the real estate industry has had to adapt, and as such, has developed into a successful online business. 

Some people have decided to put their home buying needs on hold while others have pushed forward and turned to the Internet to find a new home. If you’re in the market for a new home but aren’t sure about physically interacting with the various real estate experts, lenders, and inspectors necessary to make it all happen, here’s what you can expect from an online home buying experience. 

FINDING HOMES FOR SALE

Most people are already looking online for available homes for sale. Sites like Zillow make this step easy. 

TOUR HOMES YOU’RE INTERESTED IN

Many real estate sites offer virtual tours of the homes they feature. Using your computer or smartphone, you can look at properties at your leisure. 

In some instances, real estate agents offer tours via FaceTime, Zoom, and other video chat platforms. As they walk through a home, the buyer can experience the tour live and get close-up views of a home. 

COMPARE HOMES

With the help of your real estate agent, you can compare similar homes in the area or compare floor plans of new construction homes without ever leaving your couch. 

GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE

Many lenders allow you to fill out and submit applications online for pre-approval. This is an important step if you’re seriously looking for a new home as it lets you know how much home you can afford. 

MAKING AN OFFER ON A HOUSE

Once you find the home of your dreams, you can electronically sign and submit an offer online. 

THE APPRAISAL

In some cases, the lender may be able to conduct a remote appraisal of the home. This depends on program requirements as some require a physical, in-person appraisal. 

COMPLETING THE MORTGAGE PROCESS

Most lenders will accept digital copies of any documentation they require. In fact, many have private portals that allow you to log in, sign, and transmit all the paperwork securely. 

MANAGE HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE 

Whether you decide to go with an existing company (like your auto insurance company) or you wish to have homeowner’s insurance through a different company, you can set it up and manage it either online or over the phone. 

CLOSING ON YOUR NEW HOME

Digital closings are a thing these days through video notary services in some locations. Some closing companies have also begun doing curbside closings as well. If you aren’t sure about digital closing options in your area, ask your lender if it’s possible with your transaction. 

Online home buying is becoming a popular way for people to find and buy new homes. If you’re in the market for a new home yourself and are concerned about interacting with others during the process, the information above might help you decide if buying a home online is right for you. 

STORAGE SOLUTIONS TO KEEP YOUR GARAGE ORGANIZED AND CLEAN

GET ORGANIZED


KEEP YOUR GARAGE TIDY WITH THESE STORAGE SOLUTIONS

Many people like to use the garage for storage. It can be somewhat challenging, however, as this space lacks any real furniture for organizing anything. If you’d like to use the extra space in your garage for storage, here are several storage options you may want to consider to keep the space neat and clean. 

Keep in mind that none of these suggestions will work to store everything and you’ll likely need a combination of storage solutions to declutter and organize your garage. 

CABINETS, COUNTERS, AND DRAWERS

Some people like to install cabinets, drawers, and countertops just like you’d see in a kitchen. Having several storage options like these give you plenty of room to store all kinds of objects out of sight. It’s important to consider how you use the garage, however, as these solutions take up valuable wall space and can be quite expensive to install. 

LOFT STORAGE

The space between the ceiling and the roof of your garage is ideal for storing large items or items you don’t use often. While many people simply place these kinds of items in the rafters, you can purchase wire garage lofts that hang about four feet from the ceiling to store your things long-term. 

Alternately, you can make your own loft storage out of wood, too. The sky – or the roof – is the limit with this type of garage storage. 

SPECIALIZED STORAGE SOLUTIONS

If you look hard enough, you’re sure to find a specialized storage rack for just about anything. From bike and ball racks to racks for gardening supplies and more, you can organize everything in your garage on or in a specialized rack, shelf, or cabinet. While most people opt not to spend extra money on special storage solutions for these things, if you’re passionate about something, you may want to invest in the ideal way to store it for the ultimate protection and ease of use. 

METAL SHELVING UNITS

You’ve probably seen them. These are the multi] purpose, heavy-duty shelving units that can hold just about anything from hand tools to motor oil and beyond. The beauty of this type of garage storage solution is that they take up less space than some of the other suggestions as they are typically only about 12-18 inches deep. 

PEGBOARD

Pegboard is an ideal garage storage solution as you can organize and store just about anything on it, keeping everything within sight and easy reach. You can store tools, bikes, garden equipment, etc. on sturdy hooks secured within the holes of the pegboard. Lining your garage walls with pegboard gives you a way to utilize a space that’s typically ignored as a storage solution. 

The garage is full of space that can be used for storage, and with the right furnishings, you can utilize it in an organized way. Consider the storage solutions above if you’d like to utilize your garage’s storage potential. 

REDECORATING YOUR KITCHEN? HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS


REDECORATING IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR KITCHEN A WONDERFUL SPACE

The kitchen is an integral part of any home. It’s often a place where busy families come together at the end of the day to eat, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. It may also be a multi-purpose room where parents work from home as children do their homework. Whatever your kitchen is to you, it should showcase your personality through its décor. 

If you’ve decided to spruce up your kitchen with a fresh, new look, consider the ideas listed below. 

KITCHEN ISLANDS

If your kitchen lacks enough counter space, consider adding an island to its current countertop layout. While most islands are permanent fixtures in the middle of the room, you can create a similar feature using a rolling cart or some other piece of furniture. Just be sure to choose something with plenty of shelving and/or drawers to store things within easy reach. 

KITCHEN CABINETS

Aside from the appliances in a kitchen, the cabinets are probably the most important feature. Designed to not only house your pots, pans, dishes, and food, these storage spaces play a huge part in the overall aesthetics of the room. 

You have many choices in material and design when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so you should be able to find something that fits your particular budget.

KITCHEN BAR STOOLS

Bar stools look really nice in all types of kitchens. From wood to steel to wrought iron and beyond, bar stools come in a variety of styles to fit any décor. 

If your kitchen and dining room are combined in an open-concept space, incorporating bar stools in the kitchen that coordinate with the table and chairs in the dining room is a nice way to bring the two rooms together in a cohesive design. 

KITCHEN TABLE AND CHAIRS

Some kitchens are big enough to accommodate a small table and chairs for a less-formal dining experience. If your kitchen falls into this category, consider a matching table and chairs set that suits the look you’re going for in the room. 

Keep in mind that even if you change nothing else about the space, simply adding a lovely table and chairs can instantly add warmth and functionality to the room. 

POT RACKS AND SHELVING

Many people like to use their quality cookware as décor pieces in a kitchen. Pots hung on the wall or from the ceiling on racks designed for the purpose make attractive displays, especially when the cookware is clean and shiny. 

Alternatively, displaying and storing pots and pans on shelves hung on a wall rather than in a cabinet will also be a treat for the eye as well as place your cookware within easy reach. 

If you’re like many people, the kitchen is the central hub of your home. As such, its décor should reflect your personal style and tastes. If you’re thinking of redecorating your kitchen, consider the ideas mentioned above to make it a more functional, welcoming place to enjoy your family and friends.