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.
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.
It's chilly, blustery, and it gets dark as soon as you leave work – yep, it's winter. For many Floridians who view the cold weather as a personal attack, that means spending less time outside until spring's warm touch returns. But if you're determined to get outside despite the chilly weather – especially in your backyard – you can make it happen. Here's how to make the most of your backyard during winter.
The best way to combat the cold? Heat things up! Install a firepit in your backyard for the ultimate winter hang-out spot where you can roast marshmallows with the family. If a firepit won't work for your yard, add some heat lamps to create a toasty atmosphere.
Part of what makes winter hard for some people is the seemingly inescapable darkness. Depending on your schedule, it might be dark when you go to work and dark when you get home. That's why adding lights to the backyard goes a long way towards brightening things up literally and figuratively. You have tons of options, too: LED, solar, path marker, string lights, spotlights, and more.
Swap out your summer furniture for more winter-appropriate items. Or if you can't, just cozy your usual furniture up! We're talking warm rugs, blankets, pillows, anything that makes you feel safe and snuggly. Do make sure whatever you use is weather-resistant, though, lest your cozy days be ruined by ruined furniture.
Grilling doesn't have to be a summer-exclusive habit. Especially in Florida where we rarely get truly frosty weather, you should keep grilling all winter long! Wear an extra layer and enjoy the radiant heat from the flame as you flip your burgers.
If you're in a position to, get a hot tub for your backyard! It's an immaculate luxury item, and there's nothing quite as exhilarating as spending an evening soaking in the hot tub on a frigid 32-degree night.
In addition to installing lighting to raise spirits, adding some color to your backyard surroundings can have a similar effect. Plant some colorful flowers that thrive in the winter, like Japanese quince, pansies, snowdrops, winter jasmines, or cyclamen.
Hang garland, put up Christmas lights, accessorize your outdoor furniture with wintry color schemes, and more to get your backyard holiday-ready.
Spooky season is here! There's only one way to celebrate: turning your home into a ghastly Halloween haven. And while you could drop tons of money on store-bought décor, why not try your hand on some homecooked decorations? Take these DIY Halloween décor projects for a spin this spooky season to get your ghoulish vibes right.
Take any empty bottle, spray paint it matte black, then insert a candlestick in the opening. Now you've got spooky flickers of candlelight!
Cut out silhouettes of bats, cats, half-moons, and other creepy imagery using black paper, then stick them to the outside of windows throughout your house – they look great and are easy to make!
Flex your sewing muscles with this nifty project that turns your favorite throw pillows into adorably creepy monsters.
Foam balls, toothpicks, some paint, and a few more crafts are all you need to make these oversized spiders.
Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble! Creating your own frothing cauldron is a breeze. Just take a cast-iron Dutch oven and mix in a little water and dry ice and voila!
Want to make your home feel truly haunted? Follow these simple instructions to make a bunch of friendly ghosts that'll light up your home with spooky charm.
Instead of carving up your pumpkins, try decorating them with other crafts: gemstones, glitter, masks, and more.
Let trick 'r treaters know exactly what kind of house they're approaching with this custom pumpkin archway out front.
Take some white crepe paper, adhesive putty, and some scissors to transform your front door into a macabre mummy. If you want more silly than spooky, add some googly eyes.
Take any store-bought cake and add some white frosting to a frosting piping bag (or make your own with a sealable freezer bag) to layer spiderwebs on the exterior. Stick some small novelty spiders on top of the webs and you've got a chilling yet delicious spider cake!
Spruce up your front lawn with these wicked witch legs. A few crafts and some elbow grease are all you need for these witchy bush decorations.
Those aren't any ordinary trees in your yard – at least not when you give them a set of ghoulish eyes! Draw some pupils on a fluorescent foam circle to create the eyes, then stick them to your trees with double stick tape.
Turn mason jars into g-g-g-g-ghosts! Hit them with some glass spray paint and affix some googly eyes to the front and bam, you've got ghosts.
Festive cheer comes in the form of a giant piece of candy corn with this craft. Except this one isn't edible – it's a pinata!
Keep ghastly prisoners in line with these homemade hanging cage props. Follow this guide to make your own!
Set the spooky mood with these DIY candle holders made with plaster novelty skulls.
These nifty pieces of décor may look like something you'd drop $15 on at a big-box store, but you can make them on your own for less!
How adorable are these DIY hanging bats? All you need are black socks, hot glue, crafting foam, and a few more supplies to craft your own.
The last time we talked about home hacks, we shared 15 tips and tricks to upgrade your cooking game in the kitchen. This time, we're dishing out bathroom hacks. Read on for everything from clever storage tips to homemade air fresheners to keep your bathroom smelling great all day long.
While they may hold garlic salt and dried basil in your kitchen, spice racks can also make excellent storage shelves for shampoo bottles, soaps, and anything else you don't want cluttering your countertop.
De-gunk your showerheads with a small plastic bag full of vinegar. Fasten the bag to the showerhead with a small elastic band and let it sit for an hour. Give it a rinse and a polish after removing the bag and voila!
If you're sick of squeezing the tube to get that last bit of toothpaste and the mess they can leave behind, try putting your toothpaste in a soap pump bottle. Just clean the soap out first.
Is your trash can taking up too much space in your bathroom? Screw a couple of anchors into the inside of one of your cabinet doors and hang your can!
These essential tools create many a storage headache, but they don't have to. Installing a magazine holder creates a space-saving way to store your appliances.
Bring your wrinkled clothes into the bathroom during a hot shower and enjoy wrinkle-free garments without the hassle of ironing!
Mount a small rack on the wall and affix empty cups or jars on the front, and just like that, you've got some nifty storage for makeup brushes, cotton swabs, and more.
You know those trays you use in the kitchen to organize your silverware? They can be equally as effective in your bathroom drawers to prevent messiness.
Tired of chasing after loose bobby pins, tweezers, and other small metal items? Apply a magnetic strip to the back of your door or wall and never lose a bobby pin again.
Soap, face wash, shampoo, conditioner; all these bottles can take up a lot of room. Instead of fiddling with overcrowded built-in shelving, consider adding a second shower rack and hanging smaller baskets for storage from it.
Give the harsh chemicals a break and use dryer sheets to wipe away soap scum easily.
Remove the drain cover, drop in a couple tabs of Alka-Seltzer®, and wash it down with a bit of vinegar for a squeaky-clean drain.
Hang a few branches of eucalyptus around your shower head or somewhere nearby for a natural air-freshener. The steam from your shower will carry the scent through the room.
Want to play music or a podcast from your phone during a shower but don't have a Bluetooth speaker to pump out loud enough sound? Try placing your phone in a dry sink or in a dry bowl to amplify sound you can hear even over the shower head's mist.
Home value is a tricky thing. Factors that are out of your control – the market, your neighborhood, and more – can cause your home's value to inflate and deflate. But there are ways to control your home's value, and that's why we're here. Whether your budget is big or small, we've gathered an assortment of projects that will help maximize your home's value.
Great things often come in small packages. The same applies to home renovations and maintenance projects designed to maximize your home's value. Sure, installing a brand-new roof or completely remodeling your kitchen will likely boost value, but those sorts of projects will also drain your budget fast. Focus on smaller-scale projects to see big payoffs in the long run.
Inspectors can identify flaws in your home that you didn't even know were there. Once you know they exist, you can take steps to remedy them.
You can't magically change your square footage, but you can rely on visual tricks to give the illusion of greater space. Replace heavy curtains with blinds to let in more light – natural light helps a room feel more open. You could also try adding a large mirror to essentially double the space.
First impressions matter, so make sure your home always makes a strong one with high curb appeal. Refresh the exterior paint if it needs it, decorate your front door, and consider adding accent items like light fixtures or furniture to your home's walkway as ways to ensure your home presents a handsome exterior.
Keep your lawn neat and tidy with regular landscaping can be a major factor in maximizing your home's value. Shrubs, colorful plants, and flowers can liven up your yard as well, but make sure to keep everything trimmed and well-manicured.
Planting a tree has a long-term payoff, but it's well worth it if you don't plan on selling anytime soon. A fully grown mature tree boosts curb appeal and can help with cooling costs by providing shade. Consider it a solid investment that boosts your home's value in the future.
You may not live in a multi-million-dollar beachfront mansion, but that doesn't mean you can't add affordable luxuries on a smaller scale. For instance, installing a water filtration system to your kitchen sink not only gives you clean water to drink without having to constantly drop money on water bottles, but it's also the kind of touch that will attract homeowners.
A fresh coat of paint always helps to liven up rooms or your curb appeal, and for those reasons it can have a positive impact on your home value.
Cleaning the house might just be a weekend ritual in your house, but if you're looking to sell, it can make a huge difference. Clean houses look better, feel better, and typically have a better chance at selling.
There's nothing quite like adding a new furry friend to the family. And while your pet's unconditional love truly is a virtue, there's no denying the chaos a new pet can cause. If you're not ready, a new pet can throw your household into complete disarray. That's why we're here to help you prepare your home for a new pet.
Pets – especially young ones like puppies or kittens – are a lot like young children, which is to say, they'll get into just about anything they see. That's why it's critical to safeguard every room in your house to protect your pets from themselves. Pet-proofing your house can include a lot, like
These are just a few generic examples. Depending on your house, you may have more items to consider when pet-proofing.
Pets are a lot of responsibility, so it's easier to divvy up those tasks among family members. Decide before bringing the pet home who's going to feed it, who will handle its potty breaks, who will clean up after it, who will schedule veterinary appointments, and more. Making these decisions in advance will help manage stress levels when accidents happen.
Routines can help both your family and pet adjust to the new status quo. Regular exercise, consistent feed times, and more will keep your home running smoothly.
You'll need a lot to keep your new pet happy and healthy. Food and water bowls, a leash and collar, toys, dog or cat bed, food, and medication are just a few things you'll need to get started. Depending on what type of pet you're getting, you may need even more specialized supplies. A new puppy isn't going to need the same things a pet snake will, for instance.
Will he or she be allowed on furniture? Where will they sleep at night? If it's confined to a habitat (like a fish or lizard), where will it be stored? What are the go-to commands that everyone will use to train and interact with the pet? Of course you can't think of everything before, but setting what rules you can in advance will make your family's transition that much easier.
The last thing you want from your new pet is an accidental escape. Make sure all your doors and windows are secured and can't be easily opened by a curious paw. Investing in doggy gates and screens can further keep your pets where they belong: safely inside!