Six Home Staging Mistakes That Can Kill a Sale

For a home to sell for a million dollars, it needs to look and show like a million dollar home to the buyer. A qualified and experienced real estate agent can help accomplish this goal, but that’s just the first step. Homeowners need to stage a home just right. Even a seemingly simple mistake can sharply reduce the price of a sale, or even prevent someone from making an offer at all. Here are six common mistakes homeowners should be aware of, before putting a home on the market.

1 – Not Factoring in Time for Tradesmen

Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, and other trades professionals need time to do a quality job. Therefore, make sure to book estimates as soon as possible. Get a clear timeline and schedule. Don’t forget to include the time for painting, drywall, trim, or any other tasks needed to complete a job.

By doing so, the realtor will have a clear idea of when the home will be show-room ready. It will also make it possible to schedule other tasks, such as yard maintenance and upkeep. By coordinating everything this way, it’s possible to complete all the work at the same time, and have your home ready to go on the market sooner.

2 – Not Updating Old Carpet, Fixtures, Faucets, and Other Details

Replacing an old worn carpet, dated light fixtures, or yellowed switch plates can seem like a hassle, especially when there are so many other things to do. However, these seemingly insignificant details can have an enormous impact on the look and feel of a room, as well as the entire home. Fixing these issues doesn’t have to be expensive either. Area rugs, light fixtures, and faucets can be found affordable, and much better than worn or outdated pieces.

3 – Not Paying Attention to the Yard

How a home looks on the outside, can determine how much buyers want to take a look on the inside. Small tasks, such as cutting the lawn, spraying the weeds, and trimming bushes can help out quite a bit. Sweep patios and fill any planters with lush flowers. For a little extra wow factor, go the extra mile with details, like a diagonally-cut and edged lawn, to show potential buyers that the home has been well loved and maintained.

4 – Making a Space Too Overwhelming

Lime green walls and ceilings with black, pink, and white everywhere may look amazing at the moment, but potential buyers might not have the same opinion. Therefore, make sure a room doesn’t make potential buyers feel overwhelmed. Each room should be welcoming, have a single purpose, and spark a visitor’s imagination. Potential buyers should fall in love with a room, without being hypnotized by it.

5 – Not Making a Room Interesting Enough

Sometimes, homeowners worry so much about a room being overwhelming, that they take all the interest out of it. The result can be just another bland room that blends in with all the others. Therefore, make sure there’s something of interest in each space.

Professional decorators often use a 60-30-10 rule. This means 60 percent of a room should be a neutral or base shade. The secondary color should make up 30 percent of the room, and 10 percent of a space should be in an accent color. If the accent color has been added using easy-to-change items like glassware and pillows, the potential buyer won’t have to work hard to change it.

6 – Not Knowing the Target Audience

Generally speaking, an older couple that’s ready to retire, may not be as interested in modern, trendy decor as a young professional looking for a home. And the more buyers have to change or imagine, the less likely they’ll be to put in a higher offer. Therefore, it’s important to know who will be most likely to buy a home, before staging it.

To find out, consider neighbors who have recently moved into the neighborhood. Ask a real estate agent about who would be most likely to purchase the house. Then find out what preferences these groups of buyers might have.

Staging a home incorrectly, could mean the difference between selling a house and having it sit on the market for months. Therefore, it’s essential to stage them right, as soon as possible. A little bit of work and slight discomfort up front, will be worth the extra money going into your bank account at the closing table.

Photo credit: Getty Images/krblokhin

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Managing a Credit Score to Buy a House

By improving a credit score to buy a house, borrowers are more likely to get approved for a mortgage. A better credit score can also reduce the loan’s interest rate, which can lead to considerable financial savings. It takes time, however. The sooner a buyer prepares their credit score for mortgage applications, the simpler and more effective the process will be.

Checking Credit Scores

Before improving a credit score to buy a house, it’s essential to know what’s in it and what it is. To do this, start by contacting a credit bureau such as Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax for a copy of the credit report. This document will include the credit or FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score, but also how it was calculated. We can put you in touch with lenders who will take the initiative to help out with this as well, with no obligation or financial commitment on your part.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850 and are calculated using five different factors. The minimum required number varies by lender and by mortgage type, but generally, potential buyers will need at least a 500 credit score for mortgage lenders to consider an application. And buyers will find that lenders start rejecting applications at scores of about 620-660. FHA home loans will require a score of 580, and conventional loans generally have a minimum requirement of 600. Regardless of what a score is, however, it can almost always be improved.

What Goes into a FICO Score?

New credit determines 10 percent of a FICO credit score. This includes the number of credit checks on record and the number of new accounts opened. The more of these included in a credit report, the lower the score will be.

Credit scores also include the types of credit in the report. Lenders like to see various types of credit such as mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards, rather than multiple credits of the same type. Having twenty credit cards, for example, could indicate that someone has a spending problem, and doesn’t manage financial matters well. The types of credit in the report account for 10 percent of the final score.

The length of someone’s credit history makes up another 15 percent of the number. A long history means the lender has more proof of an applicant’s risk level. Therefore, lenders will give a better score to someone with a higher average age of accounts.

Thirty percent of a FICO score is derived from the amount of debt owed and the credit utilization ratio. The higher this ratio is, the lower the credit score will be. So, if someone has a $5,000 credit card limit, and they have a $2,500 balance, they will have a credit utilization ratio of 50 percent. Ideally, borrowers should aim to keep this ratio at 15 percent or less.

The last 35 percent of a FICO credit score comes from an individual’s payment history. Items listed here such as late payments, failure to pay, and notes made by creditors harm the final score. Lenders want to see that all debts are paid in a timely fashion.

While borrowers need a high credit score to buy a house, mortgage lenders will examine other aspects of a financial profile as well. They will also consider an applicant’s employment history, debt load, income, assets, mortgage size requested, and the down payment size. In general, lenders are looking for stability, consistency, and responsibility. That’s why borrowers should examine and improve their credit scores as early as possible and do what they can to maintain it.

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First Time Home Buyers Guide – Is This the Right House to Buy?

After wandering through an endless stream of property listings, open houses, and tours, one property stands out, but there’s a nagging feeling hanging around. Is it the right one? How does someone know when they’ve found the perfect house to buy? Unfortunately, there are no litmus tests that can provide a definite answer. However, there are some questions buyers can answer to make the decision a little easier.

The House Checks All the Appropriate Boxes

When house shopping, buyers usually have a checklist of things they’re looking for. Some of these items, such as the number of rooms and the amount of space, might be non-negotiable. Other features like trees in the backyard, a garage, or a pool would be nice to have, but maybe they aren’t that important. It’s always possible to build or renovate, to customize a property of course, but it may be a while until these major renovations can happen. If a property misses the mark somehow, is it something that can be dealt with? If the answer is yes, it might be time to make an offer.

Even a dream home can become a nightmare, if it’s not affordable. Besides, if the buyer must work three jobs and sleep in their car to make the payments, they won’t get to enjoy the house they’re struggling to pay for. Therefore, make sure the property costs will be manageable.

Imaginations Run Wild

The right house will be inspiring to a buyer. As soon as they’re through the door, they’ll already be imagining the colors they’ll put on the walls and where all the furniture will go. They can see themselves living in the property, and can already imagine the many happy memories they’ll make there. Some might even be looking forward to the maintenance, yard work, and other domestic tasks the property will need. Does the property in mind inspire thoughts of the future? If so, the house in question just might be the one.

Instinct Takes Over

Sometimes, the gut knows what someone wants, before their brain does. They instantly feel comfortable in the house. They find themselves showing it to everyone in their circle, and sharing pictures of every room, like a proud parent with a newborn. When it’s the right house, some buyers will even get possessive and protective. They will explain away little flaws. The thought of someone else putting in an offer on the property, makes them want to block off all entrances for any future showings!

The area and neighborhood need to be a great fit as well. The commute to work should be doable. The neighborhood should feel right, and the neighbors shouldn’t give the buyer the urge to build a bigger fence, or put in security systems! Does the area feel good and does the property prompt protectiveness? If there are unexplainable urges, it might be time to make it “your home”!

Nothing Else Compares to It

After seeing the right house, buyers won’t want to keep looking. All the other homes they’ve seen, won’t stack up to the one they’ve got their eye on. Walking away might even make them feel nervous, anxious, or excited. They look forward to going back, and feel like they can’t wait to move in. How much would losing the property bother you? If the idea strikes fear, talk to the agent about putting in an offer.

The right house needs to fit the buyer’s budget, as well as their lifestyle, but it’s more than that. The right home will make a buyer eager and excited about the future, and the many possibilities. Once these feelings show up, it’s time to put in an offer, and make those dream come true.

As a realtor, my job is to help you make a smart, responsible decision, based on your lifestyle, needs, and budget. Contact me if you’re considering beginning your new home journey!

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