Whether it's your first time buying or selling a house or it's your fifth, you'll likely have lots of questions about the process. We understand that, which is why we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the home-buying and home-selling process. Read on to get the answers you seek!
Buying a Home
Should I work with an agent?
Yes! When searching for a home, it's important to know what you want. The right agent will help you determine must-haves and deal-breakers, as well as educate you on the communities you're interested in. Your agent will also help you navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. They're the expert, after all!
Should I go to the bank before starting my house search?
Getting pre-approved before starting your house search can be very helpful. By measuring factors like income, credit, and assets, a lender can determine what type of loan best suits your needs and how much home you can afford. Not only will you know your spending budget, it can also give you an upper hand as a buyer because it shows sellers you're serious about making a purchase.
How many houses should I tour?
As many as it takes until you find the perfect home for you. Everyone's needs, wants, and deal-breakers will be different, and you want to avoid settling for a house you'll dislike after a few months. Even if it takes time, it's worth the extra effort.
Do I need money for a big down payment?
Not necessarily. Today, more loan options and homebuying programs exist, giving buyers a larger variety of approaches to buying a house. While some people may still want to complete a large down payment, it is absolutely not vital to purchase a home. In fact, the average first-time buyer only puts 6% down, and many loans and programs available to first-time buyers require even less than that.
How long will closing last?
After negotiations have settled and your offer is accepted, the loan process and title work begin. Inspections and other walkthroughs will be completed as well. Most closings last 30 to 45 days.
Selling a Home
Should I sell on my own or with an agent?
You've probably heard from one person or another that going the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route is optimal as it will save you money that you would otherwise spend on commission fees. However, the benefits of listing, marketing, and exposing your home to potential buyers an agent provides are often worth the commission fee.
What's more, you may end up spending less money by selling with an agent. A typical home sale process that requires lots of time and effort likely won't net you much savings at all if you go it alone.
When should I put my home on the market?
This is the first of many steps where an agent's expertise will help you make a decision. When there are fewer available homes to purchase to meet buyers' demands, you get a seller's market. Each home for sale becomes a hot commodity in this sort of market.
There's no truly bad time to sell, necessarily. Even in a buyer's market, your home will still draw attention so long as it's promoted properly.
Should I make any changes to my home before selling?
Definitely! Do a deep clean, make necessary repairs and replacements, organize cabinets and closets, declutter and depersonalize, and spruce up your home's curb appeal. Be careful about spending too much money on major repairs and renovations, however; you may not make back what you spent in the sale.
How should I price my home?
Determining your home's value can be tricky; setting an accurate sale price can be even tougher. Your agent will help you assess your home's value by analyzing other similar homes in the area that have sold. A home inspection will also help to paint the picture of your home's value.
Setting a sale price is a delicate art. Price it too high and you risk pushing buyers away. Price it too low and you might raise suspicions in buyers' minds. Again, your agent will help you find the sweet spot and price your home favorably.
Still have questions about the home-buying or selling process? Contact one of our expert agents to have your questions answered.
For most of us, a life lived mostly inside the walls of our home became the norm for at least a year. Lots of things changed; grocery store trips became deliveries, intense hand-washing sessions occurred multiple times a day, and empty guest rooms became home offices.
It makes sense then that homebuyers' preferred features have shifted in response to the changes they've experienced. Point2 Homes examined 43 million words from more than 640,000 listings across the United States, then compared their findings to a study of the same nature in 2019.
Examining the most popular home descriptions words, phrases, and features reveals a lot about how buyers' tastes have changed.
September is officially Happy Cat Month, so take some extra time to appreciate your feline friend. Cats make wonderful pets, but there's one part of cat ownership that everyone dislikes - the litter box. Its appearance isn't attractive, and no one wants to have its odor or the sounds of a cat scratching away in the box invading your home's common areas.
With a few tools, some time, and a little bit of effort, you can hide your cat's litter box while still leaving it easily accessible for them. Check out these tips to help make your cat's litter box out of sight and out of mind.
With the start of the school year upon most of us, now's a great time to talk home organization! Kids resuming their studies often results in a flurry of backpacks, textbooks, and various other school supplies that can quickly leave your home in a stressful state of disarray. Here are some airtight back-to-school home organization tips you can use to corral the chaos.
Have you ever wondered what style of house represents your personality? There are so many home types to choose from, you should know which one fits you best! Take a look at these five popular home styles to get an idea for the aesthetic and functionality that match your unique personality when you're ready to purchase your next home.
Whether you're selling or refinancing, a lot rides on your home's professional appraisal. The appraiser's unbiased opinion will give buyers and lenders alike a clearer vision of your home's worth. A lower number hurts your chances of securing a loan or selling for a good price.
Many factors go into your home's appraisal, some of which you simply can't control like number of bedrooms or the neighborhood. Luckily, there are things you can do to boost your home's profile. Here are some tips for getting a high appraisal.
Look at Past Appraisals
If your home has been appraised in the past, take a look at those records. Pay close attention to the things that lowered your home's value and try to improve those issues first.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, and that goes for your home too. Scrub, dust, and wipe every corner of your home to create a spotless presentation. Renew your air fresheners or light a candle or two to emphasize a clean, crisp environment. You'd be surprised how something as simple as cleaning can influence your appraisal.
Take Care of Those Minor Repairs
If you've been putting off those pesky leaks or clogged gutters, now's the time to knock them out. Neglecting quick and inexpensive fixes will absolutely negatively affect your appraisal. Be sure to document any minor and major repairs as well, especially if you hire contractors to work on them.
Before the process even begins, your appraiser will start making mental notes about your home's exterior as they arrive. Make sure they're taking good notes by creating welcoming curb appeal. This can be done by maintaining the grass and any plants, presenting a clean walkway, touching up the paint if need be, and more.
Enter the Modern Age
Worn finishes and creaky, old appliances won't score you any points for being vintage. Instead, consider saying goodbye to these relics of the past and enhancing your home with more modern touches, like quartz countertops or stainless-steel appliances. Appraisers will place more value on these sorts of higher-end details. Of course, it's always worth talking to your agent about which upgrades make the most sense for your home.
With that said, however, it's important not to cater your home to one specific niche. Pricey upgrades may not make as much sense as they do on paper – you may not even recoup those expenses in the sale.
The ultimate takeaway is to ensure your home is well-kept. Even a home with outdated stylings could sell well if it's been maintained with care and consistency over the years.
If there are repairs you haven't completed by the appraisal, be honest with your appraiser. The desire to hide them may be strong – no one is proud to admit they haven't gotten that cracked foundation fixed yet – but it will only hurt you in the long run.
By telling your appraiser of any needed repairs, they can possibly factor the costs of said repairs into the appraisal. Otherwise, they may use a general figure, which could end up hurting your value. If you intend to have the repairs done yourself, the appraiser may need to return to confirm their completion.
Have more questions about getting a high appraisal? Contact a Watson agent today for more info!
If you're looking for a new home, one thing you may be thinking about is gardening and landscaping. Many homes have plenty of yard space for growing plants. You may want a home with room for something else, too: a compost pile. If you've never had one before, they're a great tool for anyone with a green thumb. Here's how to start your first compost pile.
If there's one thing we could all take from the lovely people of Denmark, it's the concept of hygge. Pronounced hyoo-ga, hygge encapsulates all that is cozy and comfortable. But beyond the material aspects of hygge, there exists a desire to enjoy life's simple pleasures, to pause and find contentment amidst the chaos of living. What better place to introduce hygge into your life than your house? Here's how to incorporate hygge into your home and create a personal sanctuary.
Bright color schemes might be bold, but they don't exactly align with the goals of hygge. After all, hygge emphasizes the simple pleasures. Keep your space uncluttered and clean and your color scheme neutral. Browns, creams, and similar colors encourage peaceful, relaxing feelings.
Cozy & Comfortable
Life is hard, so we should prioritize coziness at all possible opportunities. In your home, that means lots of cozy blankets, fluffy pillows, and feathery comforters. Another great way to incorporate hygge into your home is by creating a cozy nook or corner to which you can retreat when things get a little hectic.
Further increase the coziness of your space by lighting a few candles. Pick scents that calm you and your candles will serve as a great self-care tool. But it's not just the scent you're after; the soft, radiant light provide the perfect comforting glow.
Casual Dress Code
What you wear at home contributes just as much to hygge as the décor. So leave the jeans and dresses in the closet and opt for your coziest pair of sweatpants and fuzzy socks. If you really want to commit, grab yourself a pair of hyggebuksers.
Let There Be Light
The gentle glow of candlelight sometimes isn't enough. Open up those curtains, lift the blinds, and let as much natural light in as possible. Those soothing pillars of sunlight become invaluable for comfort in the chilly winter.
Bring the Outside Inside
Greenery in the form of plants are a great way to liven up the atmosphere in any room of your home, especially in your cozy nooks. Even if you don't have a great track record of keeping plants alive, you can still capture the ambience of the elements with wood accents in floors, furniture, and other décor pieces.
Light a Fire
If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, set a fire to create warmth – an essential piece of the hygge mindset. Few things can improve a relaxing night cuddle up on the couch under layers of blankets like a roaring fire.
Whether you've sold a home or not, you're likely familiar with some common home-selling tips or pieces of advice that you've been told or read in some article. You may even believe some of them! Even if delivered with the best intentions, the fact is a lot of the most common home-selling tropes are myths, and we're here to play the role of real estate myth busters. Here are eight home-selling myths you shouldn't believe.
The Truth: Your home may very well sell in the first week! We're currently in a seller's market, which means there's more demand than there are homes for sale. So if you were to list today, there actually is a good chance your home would sell very quickly.
However, that's only true when the market favors sellers. In other times, selling in the first week just isn't likely. Having lived in your own home for years, you've naturally developed a strong emotional connection to it. Unfortunately, not everyone else has the same connection, and it might take time to find someone who vibes with your house the same way you do.
The Truth: So you've poured thousands of dollars into a remade kitchen or a high-class bathroom in hopes that it will increase your home's value. On a very technical level, they may have. But it doesn't necessarily mean your house will sell at a higher price. The unfortunate truth is that depending on what you spent, you may not even make it back in the sale. Everyone's taste is different, so sweeping upgrades may not gel with potential buyers. Instead, talk to your agent about which upgrades might pay off. You can also take notice of other homes in the area and see what they're doing.
The Truth: Unless you find a buyer who is head-over-heels smitten with your home, the only thing a high asking price will get you is a price change after a few weeks. Instead of creating room for negotiation, you're pushing away serious buyers who will balk at the exorbitant asking price. Instead, trust your agent to set an appropriate listing price based on the market, your home's value, and other factors.
The Truth: Remember when we said it's unlikely your home will sell in the first week? Sometimes, it does happen – you might get a bite just days after hitting the market. Don't overthink it: you didn't underprice your house. If anything, you likely priced it perfectly, which is why you're attracting serious buyers so quickly.
The Truth: A common thought when receiving an initial offer – especially if you deem it less than attractive – is to hold out for a better offer from someone else. Of course, if the first offer fits what you're looking for, then by all means accept it – you know what's best for you. Talk with your agent about evaluating the offer – is there room to negotiate to bring it closer to what you want?
But turning down an offer just because it's the first can have unforeseen consequences. For example, the longer your home stays on the market, the more questions buyers will begin to have. What's so wrong with those house that it hasn't sold yet? What am I not seeing? Suddenly that first offer you turned down doesn't look so bad.
The Truth: As we mentioned earlier, you likely have a strong emotional attachment to your home. It's full of personal memories that you'd never dream of hiding. But you really should when it comes time to prepare your home to sell. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves in the home. Let them imagine making their own emotional connection without the roadblock of your family photos lining the shelves.
The Truth: Lovely though it may be, your house is highly unlikely to sell on its own merits alone. A well-thought strategy goes into every home sale, including marketing, staging, studying the market, and so much more. Simply sticking a For Sale sign in your front yard isn't going to get the job done. That's why hiring a trusted real estate agent to assist you is paramount in selling.
The Truth: Go with the agent who properly researches the local market and values your property fairly according to said market. That's who will give your home the best chance to sell.
You've heard it a million times but allow us to say it once more: first impressions matter! Consider that chefs often say the first taste of a meal happens with our eyes. The same principle applies to selling your home – how you present it to potential buyers makes a difference. From introducing more natural light to decluttering, these proven home staging tips will get those For Sale signs out of your yard in no time.
Even if you clean regularly, chances are some nooks and crannies of your home haven't seen household cleaner in a while. No judgment – it's easy to overlook some surfaces when you've got a full house to clean! But now's the time to scrub high and low all throughout your home to get every sneaky surface squeaky clean. Here's a guide to help you get started.
Decluttering is a favorite topic of ours, and with good reason: it does so much for your home's presentation. It creates space (even if you don't have as much), makes your home look neat and tidy, and shows the home in its best light.
Turn on every light in the house. Open up curtains and let that natural light shine in. Utilize candles where possible but keep fire safety concerns in mind. A bright home is a happy and inviting home.
Your home is very attractive, and your style of décor surely enhances it. But for the sake of staging, peel back as much of your personal décor as possible. It may sting to remove what you consider to be part of your home's personality, but it will help your home appeal to the largest audience.
You know about depreciation, but did you know there's such a thing as curable depreciation? In the simplest terms, curable depreciations can be fixed and add value back to the property. These cosmetic fixes include painting, wallpapering, decluttering, and more. Prioritize these fixes because you'll see the financial rewards reflected in the sale price.
Furniture and other items that are visually outdated should be removed, unless it's a true antique or a family heirloom. Your accessories should make your home look modern.
You might have kept a workstation in a corner of your dining room, but that doesn't mean you should advertise that. Put furniture in the room where it makes most sense to give the best impression.
Pet smells, food odors, and anything else giving your home a funky scent should be dealt with immediately. Use candles, air fresheners, or even bake a fresh batch of cookies to make your home smell luscious.
You might love the picture of your family on the mantle, but it's not going to help your home sell. Your ultimate goal with staging should be making your home feel like a model home. You want it devoid of personal touches so that potential buyers can form their own emotional connections to it while picturing themselves living there.
Ask anyone who routinely flexes their green thumb and they'll happily tell you gardening is one of the most fulfilling hobbies you could have. You gain an immense sense of accomplishment from working the land to produce food for your family coupled with some great exercise outdoors.
It doesn't matter what you grow or how experienced you are, either. Even if your experience with vegetables and fruits begins and ends with eating them, you're just as capable of building and managing a garden as anyone. In fact, we'll show you just how easy it can be. Here's how to start your own garden.
A common rule of thumb for starting your own garden is only grow what you'll eat. If okra makes you gag, maybe leave those seeds on the shelf. Figure out which fruits, veggies, and herbs your family loves most and start there. You'll have to account for more than taste when figuring out what to grow, though.
Just as important to consider is your location. If you're local to Florida, you'll have to contend with high humidity and brutal summers. Northern gardeners, meanwhile, will have to pay close attention to frost points throughout the winter. Different plants prefer certain climates, so make sure you select plants that will work for your area.
Companion plants or flowers are also a great idea to grow alongside your fruits, veggies, and herbs. Flowers especially are great for attracting bees and other pollinators to help your harvest reach its full growth potential. They can even attract other beneficial insects to help fight pests!
One thing to keep in mind throughout this process is to start small! It might seem appealing to turn your backyard into your own personal produce department, but maintaining a large garden takes a lot of work. Plant a small crop for your first go-round, keep it healthy and pest-free, and then you can try expanding next year.
Plants need sun, so just set them somewhere they'll get plenty of UV, right? While it's true most fruits and veggies require approximately six hours of sunlight each day, too much or too little can ruin their ability to grow. Some plants even do well in partial shade.
Just make sure you know what your chosen plants require for optimal growth. It's best to select an area that's easily accessible for watering and tending to, as well as an area that's far from any children's or pets' play areas. Natural pests will be trouble enough; it's best not to add additional factors that can cause trauma to your garden.
And most importantly: set up your garden somewhere you can't forget about it! Out back behind the shed you never use is where gardens go to die, so plant your crop somewhere you'll see every day.
If there's sod where you want to plant, it's got to go. You can use a sod-cutting machine or cut it out with a sharp knife for quick results, or you can smother the sod with newspaper and a three-inch layer of compost. This is a longer method (it'll take about four months for everything to decompose), but it's also easier.
Once you've got a spot picked out, start planning your garden bed. How many will you set up? What shape(s) will they be? How big will they be? Generally, you don't want your beds to be wider than three or four feet – just wide enough that your plants get enough space while still giving you enough room to water and maintain without stepping in the bed. Raised beds are a great idea for many reasons. They look great, provide better yields, help fight against weeds, and more. Raised beds also tend to dry out more easily, so be wary of that.
Before you get to planting, you'll want to pay some attention to your soil. First up, have it tested to learn its acidity, alkalinity, its makeup, and any risks of contamination it may face. You can order tests online or through your county cooperative extension office. You'll also want to give your soil a little boost before planting. A simple cocktail of organic matter like compost, dry grass clippings, decayed leaves, or old manure can enrich your soil and make it more fertile.
It's time to get planting! Well, after you decide how you're going to start growing your garden. You can start with seeds that you'll sow directly into the soil. If you go this route, follow the seeding instructions on the package and you should be fine.
Alternatively, you can start with transplants, which are young plants that have already started growing. They're easier – just dig a hole and drop them in – but not all plants thrive as transplants. Your best bet is to figure out what you want to grow, then do some research online or at your local home and garden store to find out which method best suits that plant.
You've done it. You've tilled the land, dug up the soil, and planted your first batch of fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, or whatever it is your green heart desires. Now it's time to nurture them from spritely little seedlings into big, healthy plants. That means you'll need to water them daily, especially while they're small. And while your little seedlings and transplants will gulp down a ton of H2O, still be mindful not to overwater them.
Once their roots take firm hold in the soil, you can adjust your watering schedule according to your soil, humidity, and how often it rains. If there's one major defiler of gardens, it's weeds. Help keep them out (and water in) with a couple inches of mulch. Any kind of mulch will do, whether you choose pine needles, grass clippings, or bark chips. Got any of your own tips and tricks for starting a personal garden? Let us know in the comments below!