Archive for Seasonal

What A Beautiful Outside Can Do For Your Home’s Inside

GRH_BlogPost_How Great Landscaping Says Come Inside

Creating an inviting landscape not only ensures a positive first impression with buyers, but may also increase your home’s value and lead to a quicker sale. You don’t have to spend a lot to make big improvements in your home’s curb appeal. Keeping your lawn manicured – mowed and edged – and trimming bushes and trees is an inexpensive way to make a positive impression on buyers. You’ll also want to remove any dead or diseased plants and ensure beds are weeded and freshly mulched.

Before beginning any landscape project, make a plan. And if you live in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants requiring approval by a landscape committee, be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid spending money on projects that you may be forced to undo later. A project plan will also help ensure that you make wise choices and stay within your budget.
Use color and depth to create visual interest, and select a variety of plants that bloom or change color throughout the year so your yard will be attractive regardless of the season. If your yard is open to your neighbors’ yards, a street, or public areas, consider screening to create a more private space. This can be accomplished naturally with evergreen trees and bushes, or with an attractive fence.

Sometimes what you remove from a yard can be as important as what you put in. If the front of your home is obscured by overgrown trees or bushes, remove them or trim them back to help buyers get a clear view of your home. Remember that the goal is to create a welcoming first impression that says, “Come in!”

Trends in Landscaping:

  • Low maintenance vegetation: less lawn to mow, helps keep weeds in check.
  • More trees: enhance beauty and provide shade.
  • Decks, patios, and terraces: an outdoor living space for entertaining and relaxing.
  • Outdoor lighting: provides enticing views of your home and landscaping at night.
  • Irrigation system: costs more but simplifies lawn care and is attractive to buyers.

To Buy Or Not To Buy?

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The decision to buy a home is a complex one with many factors to consider, some of which may differ from person to person. But whether you’re a recent graduate, newlywed, single or single again, married with children, or an empty nester, there are common factors we can all take into account. Don’t just roll those dice!

There are many benefits to home ownership. For starters, it’s a great long-term investment. Although you’re unlikely to see significant appreciation in price in the short term, an increase in value is almost certain over time. But remember: real estate is not a “liquid” investment. Should you find yourself wanting or needing to sell, it could take some time to find a buyer and close the sale, depending on market conditions at the time. Owning a home also offers a number of tax benefits. Interest and closing costs paid on a mortgage as well as property taxes are deductible if you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return.

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In addition to financial benefits, home ownership offers other advantages. Many people experience a sense of pride and satisfaction in owning their own home. For some, it gives a sense of stability, of “setting down roots.” And when you own your home, you enjoy the freedom to improve your property according to your own wants and needs, which usually isn’t possible when renting.

With the great power of ownership, however, comes great responsibility. Maintenance and upkeep tasks that you may be accustomed to your landlord handling will fall squarely on your shoulders. In addition to the time it takes to care for your home properly, you’re likely to encounter both routine and unexpected expenses. It is important to anticipate these occurrences and prepare for them.

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How do you know if you’re ready to buy a home? Do your research. Make a plan. Prepare a budget. Here are some questions to consider in making your decision:

1. How long do you plan to live in your next home? Does your job or lifestyle dictate frequent moves? Remember that home values increase more over the long term, so if you’re moving more often than every few years, you may not see significant gain when you sell your home. You will, however, gain equity in your home as you pay down your mortgage, while rent money is gone for good.

2. How healthy are your finances? Do you have money for a down payment, closing costs, insurance, taxes, and a buffer for unexpected expenses that can occur when you own a home? If not, talk with a mortgage lender to learn what steps you should take to put yourself in the best situation to purchase a home. You can use Guidance Realty Homes’ free online tools to help make your decision, including our Rent or Buy Calculator, our Affordability Calculator, or our home valuation tool.

3. What is the real estate market doing in your area? How are mortgage rates? What kinds of homes are available in your price range? Are they located in areas that suit your lifestyle? If you are not able to buy a home as nice as the ones you could rent, consider your willingness to live in a less desirable environment for a time. The equity you’ll gain can help you upgrade sooner than you could if you continued renting and tried to save the additional money. A licensed Guidance Realty Homes agent can provide you with valuable market information and help you evaluate your options.

How an ‘Open House’ Can Sell Your Home

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With the popularity of online shopping and virtual tours, some people are of the opinion that an open house is a waste of time. However, sellers should think twice before discounting this time-tested strategy. Here are some things you need to know about hosting an open house!

 

What Is an Open House?

Unlike an individual showing, an open house allows anyone to view the home, whether they currently work with an agent or not. It’s an excellent way to attract buyers new to the market or just beginning a search, those without an agent, and even sporadic buyers who aren’t necessarily in the market but share the information with family and friends.

Who Should Host an Open House?

Hosting an open house is not for the novice. Real estate agents not only provide the marketing, scheduling and even security advice, but make sure the home is properly presented to prospective buyers who decide to drop in and see the home.

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How Do Open Houses Sell a Home?

Higher-Priced Homes: An open house is often effective in helping to sell homes priced above the median average for a given location, especially when used in combination with the Multiple Listing Service and online listings.

Tough Market: In 2005, more than 50% of sellers used an open house, with various degrees of success. However, that rate has declined in part due to the numerous foreclosures on the market. Unfortunately for sellers, trying to compete on price alone is difficult – and costly. Instead, use an open house to showcase the property and the neighborhood. It’s one more way to help your house stand out from the crowd in a buyer’s market.

Unique or Uncommon Features: Without doubt, one of the most important reasons to hold an open house is to showcase a unique property or special features that are difficult to communicate or conceptualize. Sometimes it really is necessary to see a property to believe it, and an open house allows the buyer to fall in love at first sight by experiencing it firsthand.

Boost Your Home’s Value with Summer Projects that Sell

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Everyone loves summer and with good reason: after a long winter, the bright sunshine beckons young and old alike to sit by the pool, enjoy a little music, and soak in the warmth. Summer is the most popular time to buy or sell a home; and by investing a little time and energy into these summer projects, your home will look its best whether it goes on the market next week or next year.

Fencing: Families with pets, young children or those just seeking a little additional privacy will appreciate the functionality and appearance of an attractive, sturdy fence. Major home improvement stores sell everything required for the do-it-yourself type, including attractive, low-maintenance PVC options. If your property is already fenced, take the time to make sure it’s well maintained.

Outdoor Sanctuary: With a little creativity and a few hundred dollars, it is easy to turn a problem spot into the center of attention.  Get creative with an easy to install garden pond, butterfly or flower garden, wind chimes, and some outdoor seating. Consider adding a decorative fire pit to encourage family time on those cooler evenings.

Update the Paint: Indoors or outdoors, painting is a simple way to give your home a fresh new look. If it has been more than five years since your home has had a fresh coat, make it a priority to paint.  Do not stop with the house: concrete stains and unique drive-way art are other popular options designed to attract attention. Just be sure to keep them neutral.

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Small Homes Are Trending with First-Time Home Buyers

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According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), first-time homes are coming in smaller packages.

The Association recently released the NAHB Home Builder Preferences Survey, indicating that smaller homes are selling well, primarily to first-time buyers, especially to the latest cohort – millennials. The home builders interviewed for the report suggest that many people now prefer to purchase small. And U.S. Census Bureau figures support that position: the average home built in 2016 was 2,634 sq. ft., down from 2,689 sq. ft. in 2015.

“2016 marked the end of an era that began in 2009, when homes got bigger and bigger with more amenities,” said Rose Quint, NAHB’s Assistant Vice President of Survey Research. “I expect the size of homes to continue to decline as demand increases from first-time buyers.” Smaller homes are finding favor with other groups as well. Retirees who enjoy traveling find that smaller, lock-and-leave residences fit their on-the-go lifestyles, and economic realities mean that they now have to think small.

While both the downsizing and millennial buyers are comfortable with less space (and the resulting savings on utility bills), they still expect the luxurious finishes and modern amenities available in larger homes. Millennials, because that’s what’s trendy now, and retirees, because they don’t want to feel they’re settling for less.

As a result, home décor magazines and TV network programs are touting the benefits of small homes and showcasing elegant space-saving solutions designed for those who want to scale down their homes without changing their lifestyles.

Call one of Guidance Realty Homes‘ agents who can show you how to maximize your space and find the perfect home; not too small, but not too big either. Guidance Realty Homes was founded with one goal in mind – to simplify the process! Check us out online to search our top-notch listings so you can find your ideal home.

How Summer Container Plants Will Help You Sell Your House

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Container plants are an easy way to give immediate visual impact to your home and create that important curb appeal – the “wow” factor – as potential buyers pull up outside. Here are some important tips to make sure you use containers effectively.

Use big containers

Don’t be afraid of using big, bold containers. They will have much more impact and will be easier to care for because they won’t dry out so easily – they will also be seen from the street more easily. Smaller containers tend to get lost in the landscaping, so you’ll lose the visual impact you’re trying to achieve.

Use quality containers

Avoid plastic containers, as these can look cheap. Terracotta, wrought iron, or zinc containers look great. Choose a container that complements your house and the rest of your landscaping. For example, if you have iron detailing, find a matching container; if you have brick paving, a terracotta pot might look great next to it.

Fill them with plants

For immediate results, fill your containers with more plants than you normally would. Otherwise, you will be forced to wait for the plants to grow before your container will look lush and healthy.

Feed your plants

Make sure you keep your containers well maintained by watering and feeding the plants regularly. You want buyers to think the containers are always there, not just a quick fix.

Our Guidance Realty Homes agents can help with both the selling of your current home and the buying of your new one. To find out the value of your current home, go to http://www.guidancehomevalues.com.

After researching the value, call one of our Guidance Realty Homes’ agents who will show you a variety of choices that fit your unique needs. Buyers who use our agents receive a commission rebate off the purchase price plus an additional $350 appraisal credit when financing online with our affiliate Guidance Residential. http://www.guidanceresidential.com

Resolution Woes? Get Inspired Here

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Each New Year means making a list of the same old resolutions. And never looking at the list again. Perhaps considering traditions in other countries may help inspire you to follow through on some of those oh-so-familiar resolutions.

Want to increase face-to-face interactions and get to know your neighbors better? Do what they do in Scotland. Shortly after midnight, neighbors visit each other and pass on well wishes in a tradition called “first footing.” The Scots also celebrate the New Year with Hogmanay, a time of midnight games, food and general merriment.

The Japanese can inspire you to keep your house organized, finances balanced and relationships stable. New Year’s traditions in this country include making sure their homes are clean and debts are paid. Most importantly, they forgive old grievances and start fresh in the New Year.

In the Netherlands, purging the old and getting ready for the new happens in the streets. People burn old Christmas trees to show they are getting rid of the old.

You could get rid of your old ways too; try keeping your resolutions this year.

’Tis the Season … to Decorate

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The holiday season is about the only time we can indulge our decorating fantasies. Whether your dream décor is over the top or simple and elegant, the following will give you ideas to make your holiday fantastic.

  • Pinterest is a great source for inspiration and home for the latest design trends. For example, during Halloween, we saw painted pumpkins (even gold-leafed) used as flower centerpieces. For Christmas and Hanukkah, we’ll see more clever ideas for reimagining and repurposing holiday décor items.
  • The DIY trend continues: Make your own Christmas ball garland by stringing your favorite ornaments on fish line, twine or ribbon. It works beautifully on your fireplace mantle or stair railing (but don’t forget to leave spaces for hand holds).
  • Last year the emphasis was on mercury glass, but this year there’ll be a reversion back to natural materials that focus on a central theme such as a classic winter wonderland.
  • Consider clusters of beribboned ornaments on tabletops and use flameless candles and strings of lights to brighten up darker corners.
  • Advent calendars are making a comeback – in an unexpected and fun way. Stretch a string across your fireplace and hang 24 numbered and handmade paper cones containing small gifts and candies. The kids can pull off one a day from December 1 to 24.

Seven Tips for Surviving the Holiday Road Trip

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The holidays are a time of candy canes, presents, and, of course, long car trips to visit family and friends across the country.

Surviving a road trip can be a challenge even for adults – but with kids? Well, you just have to prepare ahead. Following are some tips to get you started:

1. Smile through the “Daddy I have to go,” moments by packing toilet paper and bringing a potty chair.

2. For babies, attach colorful mobiles that are out of reach but within visual range of their car seats. They’ll be happily occupied for hours.

3. Encourage toddlers to pack their own backpacks for the trip with their special toys and stuffed animals.

4. Take pictures at rest stops or even in the car to relive those funny moments.

5. Kids love car games. For rural trips, get the kids to watch for white cows or barns or tractors. In urban areas, you can play the license plate game, watching for out-of-town vehicles or trying to figure out vanity plates. Twenty questions can be fun too.

6. Bring good-for-you snacks such as fruit and cheese. You’ll feel better when you reach your destination if you and the kids haven’t binged on candy for eight hours.

7. And don’t forget about you. Bring your own stash of goodies to enjoy when everyone else is asleep. And do take turns driving. It’s safer and will make the trip much more enjoyable for everyone – even the driver.

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