12 Home Staging Tips That Are Designed to Sell

Staging your home helps you build that memorable first impression for potential buyers. You have to showcase your home’s strength and downplay its weaknesses. Staging is also especially important in slow markets with high inventory and many competing homes. Heed these simple yet effective staging tips that may just help you close the sale.

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1. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

Get rid of your old items and things you don’t necessarily need. Give yourself a rule that when a new thing comes, the old one must go. Organize your shelves to show off how much storage you really have, as prospective buyers love homes with lots of storage spaces. Clearing away your clutter will definitely help make the house look tidier and bigger.

2. Place a Welcome Mat

An enticing entrance is key when you’re luring prospective buyers. A new welcome mat that complements the style of your home can easily convince them to see more. Remember, first impressions are always important. So adding fresh potted plants to an entry area could also create a relaxing atmosphere on the way in.

3. Swap Personal Photos with Artwork

Replacing those personal pictures of yours and your family with pieces of artwork will help your potential buyers envision themselves living in your home. You can opt to buy paintings of landscape scenes, modern shapes or floral motifs at thrift shops to create a focal point for your home. You can also print out inspirational travel images to display a certain lifestyle.

4. Refresh With Paint

Put a fresh coat of paint in white or neutral colors to give new life to outdated doors, walls, and casing. It will make the house look cleaner and more contemporary.

5. Give Importance to Home Lighting

The secret to a great staged home that looks warm and welcoming is great lighting. Nobody wants to go in a house that projects a dim vibe just because it is improperly lighted. Increase the wattage in your lamps or fixtures and put them in key areas. Also open up windows and curtains to let the sunshine in and naturally brighten up the whole room.

6. Group Furniture Away From Walls

Move away from the common idea that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls. Instead, reposition sofas and chairs into conversational groups and place pieces of furniture away from the walls. It will help make the space more user-friendly and make the room seem bigger.

7. Transform Old or Unused Rooms

Repurpose an extra room into a space that will certainly add value to your home. You can turn that old junk room into a mini library with a comfortable reading spot by placing a bookshelf, a comfortable armchair and a small table. Or turn it into a yoga room or a mini entertainment hub. Either way, it will help the potential buyers envision the room with a special purpose that will suit their lifestyle.

8. Recycle Your Resources

Look for ways to salvage old materials to save money. Repurpose old junk and turn them into something new and useful, like making headboards out of old doors or turning strips of hardwood flooring into new fences.

9. Arrange Decorative Displays and Group Them into Three’s

Assembling classy and colorful displays, such as vases, lanterns, books and other decorative items, atop dressers and counters could give your house a cozy and relaxing look. It will also increase the room’s general appeal. Arrange them in odd numbers, preferably in three’s, and in varying heights and shapes, while keeping them in the same color family.  You can also try to mix and match items from craft stores to create a unique but modern look.

10. Decorate the Bathroom with White Linens

Tidy up your washroom by using white towels, bath mats and shower curtains for that clean and elegant look. Take it a bit further by creating spa-like displays, such as adding candles, fresheners and special soaps. Stack hand towels neatly near the sink and complement it with other accessories.

11. Refurbish the Kitchen

The first thing to do when staging your kitchen for homebuyers is to keep the countertops nice and clear. Put only a few items as displays, or center a bowl of fresh fruits or a vase with flowers to add a touch of color. If you can’t afford new doors or cabinets, refresh the old ones with paint that match your kitchen walls.

12. Tend Your Yard and Improve Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is important when attracting buyers, so bring out a nice color into your walkway that will make it more appealing. You can also grace your yard with potted plants and flowers in bloom, depending on the season.

Everything You Need To Know About Mortgage Pre-Approval

Even if you’re not in a competitive real estate market where you need to do everything to stand out, a mortgage pre-approval is your key to understanding your budget, help you speed up the process, and prove to the real estate world that you are serious about buying your dream home.

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Here we’ve laid out everything you need to know about getting pre-approved, how long is your mortgage pre-approval good for, and what should you do if your pre-approval will soon come to an end. Heed these tips before even thinking of house-hunting so sellers will know you’re on top of your game!

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Before starting your search, your first step should be to prove that you have the financial capability to purchase a home. In the pre-approval process, the lender reviews your loan application and your finances to determine whether you will qualify for a mortgage. They will have a preliminary examination of your credit, employment, income, assets, monthly debts, and other financial information.

Since the pre-approval letter will also indicate the actual loan amount you qualify for, you should use that as your guide when shopping for a home because your lender will only let you borrow up to that certain amount.

When you found a home you want, your real estate agent will submit the pre-approval letter together with your offer to the seller. This will prove to the seller that you are serious about buying and can obtain a mortgage.

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Buying a house does take time. Your home search and loan approval process could go on for weeks, even months, before you could actually close the deal and get the keys to your home. If your journey to being a homeowner actually took a long cut, will your pre-approval letter still be valid by the time of your purchase?

While there is no definite duration for the validity of the mortgage pre-approval letter, in general, it is typically good for 60 to 90 days or about three months. Still, the actual time frame is indicated in your letter. So if you need a longer time frame, you have to ask for it beforehand.

However, many lenders and sellers may consider your letter too old after three months. Yes, making a decision as huge and remarkable as buying a home shouldn’t be put into such a short timeframe. However, your financial situation can change anytime within that three-month period. Lenders could have a hard time trusting you if your letter is more than a few months old because you could’ve done things that hurt your DTI and credit, like losing your job or buying a car. There is an expiration date to ensure the potential borrower has excellent DTI from the start until the end of his or her homebuying journey.

Also, the expiration date lenders placed on your pre-approval letter acts as a hastening mechanism so you can choose a home before the interest rate indicated in your letter goes up. It prevents you from taking a leisurely stroll through open houses for weeks and extending the buying process.

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If your house-hunting journey is taking a bit longer than planned and your pre-approval letter is about to expire, you’ll likely need to renew it. However, there’s no need to go through all the trouble of applying all over again. Just take it back to your lender, together with your updated financial statements and pay stubs to show there’s been no change to your income, debts, or credit scores.

And since pre-approval letters are only valid for a certain period, it might be best to only get it when you’re already serious about looking for a home.

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When you’re applying for a mortgage, having one or two checks on your credit report will indeed temporarily lower your credit score. It can lower your score for a few points, depending on your initial score and the number of payments you’re making, but it shouldn’t be significant. The problem comes when the hard checks or inquiries on your FICO score raise too many flags, which could get you disqualified from getting a loan.

If you don’t want the pre-approval process to cause any significant stress to your credit report, you can pull a soft report or a soft inquiry. Unlike hard checks, it won’t affect your credit score and you can use it as reference. Since soft inquiries are only visible to you, if you found out your score is lower than 620, it might be best to hold off purchasing a house for now and do the necessary steps to improve your score.