The Woods Team's Blog
Taking good pictures of a house up for sale can be challenging, especially when trying to make your home standout against all the other homes on the market. A good picture portrays your home in a great light and tends to make your house look attractive to prospective buyers. Some home sellers hire a professional photographer to take high-resolution pictures; others may opt to take the photos themselves. Whether you're a professional or a novice, utilizing the following tips will help you capture the best photos for your real estate listing:
Use a High-Resolution Camera
Your camera is the most important tool in your arsenal. No matter the technique or angle of the shot, without the resolution-backing power of a high-quality camera your images may fall short. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras are relatively inexpensive and provide a large range of operating options to suit your photography prowess, no matter what it may be.
Rearrange and Organize
Before beginning your home photo shoot, you may want to make sure the aesthetic is pleasing to the eye. Tidying up a room by putting items away, making sure the surfaces are properly dusted and cleaned, and even rearranging a few things to fit into a geometric space with plenty of negative space (space without any items) may aid in making your home more appealing.
Use Good Lighting
Lighting can often make or break a picture. If you opt to use natural lighting, make sure the weather is favorable to avoid any unwanted flares or shadows. Consider starting your photo shoot in the morning or early evening when the sun is not overbearing but still provides an adequate amount of natural light. This way, your property is not directly under the sun. If you decide to use artificial lighting, look at the colors in your home and decide if you'd like a warmer atmosphere or more radiant one. Soft white light will give your home a more homey feel, whereas bold white lights will highlight everything underneath them.
Stabilize Your Photos
Blurry images distort what prospective buyers see when they look at your house. A way to avoid blurry photos is to use a stand specifically designed for the camera you've opted to use. You may also use a table or steady your arms across a larger piece of furniture, depending on what you're snapping at the time. Many cameras also have a stabilization feature that allows them to remove or minimize the movement of the operator.
Pictures speak thousands of words. Get the right images for your home listing by following these tips or hiring a professional real estate photographer to give your home the best, glowing, visual reference on the market.
If you’ve been renting and preparing to buy a new home, you’ve probably saved up your down payment and are in the process of getting pre-approved for your mortgage loan. If, on the other hand, you’ve been living in a home you own and paying on your mortgage, you may be ready to buy, but only if you can use the equity in your existing property. Logically, that would mean you have to sell your home first, which pays off your existing mortgage, then live somewhere temporarily while you shop for your new home. However, you have more options, and none of them require you to live in a third location.
Option 1: Contingent Purchase
Ask your real estate agent for in-depth information on contingent purchases in your area, since different cities and states can have conflicting rules. This means making an offer on a new home that is “contingent” on your accepting an offer on your current home. Basically, you will do the buying and selling parts of your real estate plan at the same time. While your agent is looking for new homes, they are also showing your home to buyers. You can use the same agent for both parts of the process, which is often cheaper, or you can use a buyers’ agent for the purchase and a sellers’ agent for the sale, which may help you get better deals. Not all sellers are willing to entertain contingent offers since that can put a crimp in their own moving plans, so make sure your agent is aware of your circumstances from the beginning.
Option 2: HELOC Loan
Home equity line of credit or HELOC is a particular type of home loan. These loans are usually second mortgages of some sort but allow you to withdraw the entire amount within a given time period. This means you can keep your current home, and use the HELOC loan to buy your new home. Then, when your current home sells, pay off the mortgage on that home, and get a new mortgage on your new home to pay of the HELOC loan as well. This can be risky, however, since HELOC loans are based on the equity value of your current home, which may not be as high as the market value. In addition, they can have variable interest rates, which, if your old home ends up not selling for an extended period of time, can really start to drain your savings. If you plan to go with this option, make sure your real estate agent knows the timelines you’re working with, and try to find an agent with a “sellers’ guarantee.”
Option 3: Contingent or Rent-Back Sale
A contingent sale is similar to a contingent purchase, but instead of closing relying on you finding a buyer, it relies on you finding a new home and that offer being accepted. These tend to be shorter-term agreements, such as 1 to 2 weeks, but can be longer, even up to several months, depending on your buyer. Be careful and try to have contingencies on only one side of your purchase, since if you end up with too many chained together (you are on contingency, as are your buyers, and their buyers and so on) if one person’s plan doesn’t work, the whole chain could fall through. Alternatively, if your buyer has a longer moving timeline, they might be interested in setting up a “rent-back” agreement. This allows you to sell your home and then rent it back from the new buyers for either a specific time period or for as long as it takes for you to find a new home. This is especially a good idea if your buyers are currently renters on a month-to-month agreement since both of you can move whenever is needed.
If you’re ready to buy a new home, but are worried about selling your current one first in order to afford it, you are not alone. Make sure you explain your situation to your real estate agent during your very first meeting. Once they know what kind of agreements will work for you, they can do a much better job of finding your dream home and helping you complete the purchase.
Closing costs are usually an unavoidable part of buying a home. While there are ways to reduce some closing costs and fees, they are an expense you will likely have to consider when it comes time to save for a home.
On average, buyers can expect to pay between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price in closing costs and fees.
In this article, we’re going to break down those costs and talk about some ways to plan for, or limit, the fees associated with closing on a home.
A breakdown of closing costs
Most closing costs in a real estate transaction are paid for by the buyer. When getting approved for a mortgage, your lender is required to provide you with an estimate of the closing costs. This is called a “Closing Disclosure statement” which overviews the details of your loan.
Different lenders will charge varying amounts in fees. Some are even willing to waive certain fees. But, we’ll discuss that later.
For now, let’s focus on the closing costs buyers typically have to pay:
Attorney fees - a flat-fee or hourly rate depending on the attorney
Origination fees - an upfront fee charged by the lender for processing your mortgage application
Prepaid interest or discount points - a payment for the interest that will accrue on your mortgage from the time you close until your first mortgage payment is due
Home inspection fee - the fee that a professional home inspector charges to inspect a home
Escrow deposits - Usually split with the seller, this is the fee charged by an escrow agent
Recording fees - fees for legally recording the new deed and mortgage
Underwriting fees - fees paid to the lender for researching your mortgage case and determining whether or not to approve your application
These are just some of the many fees that can be due upon closing on a home. Depending on where you live, which lender you choose, and the type of mortgage you secure, your closing costs will vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around for a lender and mortgage type with reasonable closing costs.
Reducing closing costs
Some lenders offer no-cost, or low-cost mortgages. However, these savings often come with a higher interest rate which, over the lifespan of your loan, can cost you more in the long run.
You should also be aware of the different loan types that you may be eligible for. FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans are all designed for buyers hoping to make lower down payments on their home.
Each loan type provides different amounts due at closing. Fortunately, your mortgage lender will be able to give you an estimate of costs for each loan type.
Want to get an estimate of the closing costs you’ll have to pay when you buy a home? You can use this online calculator to see an average.
When it comes to selling a house, it is important to prepare as much as you can. That way, you can identify potential home selling hurdles and overcome these issues before they escalate.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prep for the house selling journey.
1. Analyze All Areas of Your Home
You might believe your home is virtually perfect, but there may be problems that need to be addressed. Because if you fail to resolve various house issues, it may be tough to optimize your home sale earnings.
Oftentimes, it helps to conduct a home inspection before you list a residence. With an inspection report in hand, you can assess home flaws and correct these issues right away.
You may want to perform a home appraisal as well. After an appraisal, you can obtain an appraisal report to help you establish a competitive initial asking price for your residence.
2. Review the Local Housing Sector
The housing market fluctuates, and a buyer's market today could shift into sellers' favor without delay. Thus, you should analyze the local housing sector closely so you can determine whether you are about to enter a buyer's or seller's market.
A buyer's market generally features a high volume of available houses. Comparatively, there is a shortage of available homes in a seller's market, and new houses that become available may sell quickly.
To differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market, you should find out how long homes that are currently available in your city or town have been listed. In addition, review the prices of recently sold houses in your area, and you can see if sellers are accepting offers at or above their initial asking prices.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
If you are unsure about how to plan for the home selling journey, you need to remember that you are not alone. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can work with a property selling expert throughout the home selling journey.
A real estate agent understands how to succeed in any housing market, at any time. First, he or she will learn about you and your home and help you map out a house selling plan. A real estate agent next will help you establish an aggressive initial asking price for your residence and add your home to the local housing market. Then, if you receive an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent will help you assess this proposal and make an informed home selling decision.
Furthermore, a real estate agent is ready to respond to your house selling questions. There is no home selling question too big or too small for a real estate agent, and as such, you can rely on this professional for in-depth responses to any property selling queries.
Take the guesswork out of selling a home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan ahead for the house selling journey.
If you’ve been thinking about adding an outdoor kitchen to your luxury home, it is a good time to start planning. Outdoor kitchens offer a great place to prepare and enjoy meals outdoors when the weather is pleasant. You’ll find that there are many options and features available to build out the perfect space for you. While you’re working on designing yours, keep the following 2020 outdoor kitchen trends in mind.
Multiple Cooking Options
An outdoor kitchen isn’t just a place for you to fire up the charcoal you can create a space that allows you to prepare an entire meal outside. This means introducing more than one cooking option into your space. Once you've settled on a grilling surface and fuel source, select a stovetop burner and a traditional or specialty pizza oven to complement your setup.
Cabinets and Cupboards
Having to go in and out of your home to retrieve dishes, pots and other items for cooking and eating can be an inconvenience. Including high-quality cabinets or cupboards in your outdoor kitchen means you’ll have everything you need within easy reach. This year’s trends include stainless steel cabinets and cupboards. These provide your outdoor kitchen with a sleek, modern appearance while also offering a place for storing everything you'll need.
Kitchen islands are usually thought of as an indoor feature, but they’re making their way to outdoor kitchens as well. Putting an island in your outdoor kitchen provides extra prep surfaces and also acts as a place for you and your family or guests to socialize. Depending on the design of your kitchen island, you may also use it as a primary outdoor dining area or extra dining space if needed.
More Refrigerator Options
Refrigerators are convenient to have as part of an outdoor kitchen, because you can keep ingredients and beverages readily available. Instead of having a standard refrigerator as you may choose for an interior, consider some more specialized options that are growing in popularity. More luxury homeowners are choosing to add an outdoor refrigerator that include ice makes or specialized models that specifically accommodate beverages. Drawer-style units instead of single-door models are more energy-efficient than single-door refrigerators, and they make it easier to keep fridge items organized.
If you’ll be preparing to sell your luxury home or buy a new one in the near future, contact us today.