When it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks and alarms. These are, of course, very important. However, there is also a lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in.
One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn’t need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars.
Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your home.
Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for areas where someone could hide, such as behind a tall shrubbery or a tool shed. Make sure these areas are well lit.
Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back door.
Experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.
Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas. The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they see a light turn on.
Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? You may think you have found a clever spot, but experienced thieves know all the common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it in a small combination lock box and hide the box. Even if a burglar finds the box, he won’t be able to open it and access the key.
You’re probably aware that there’s more to the cost of a new home than its purchase price. So, to help you make an informed decision, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much do you expect to pay for moving expenses? Don’t forget to include packing materials in your calculations.
- “Closing costs” are the extra charges you will have to pay at closing. How much do you expect your closing costs to be?
- Estimate how much you’ll pay for activating your phone, internet service, cable television, and other utilities in your new home. These little costs can add up.
- Will your new property require painting, repairs, and other preparations once you move in? How much will they likely cost?
- Will you need to purchase new furnishings, decor, and other items for your new home? What’s your budget for those items?
The more aware you are of the true costs of a home you’re interested in buying, the better choices you’ll be able to make about that home. If you decide to buy, you’ll be able to do so with much more confidence.
When preparing a home for sale, most people focus on making the inside look as appealing as possible. But the outside of your property deserves your attention too. After all, it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees.
You can dramatically improve the appearance of your property by giving it a “wash and haircut”!
Clean the driveway, walkways and deck or patio. A pressure washer — which can be rented from most home improvement stores — works best, although you can do nearly as good a job with a water hose and walkway cleaner.
Trim hedges and shrubs. Mow the lawn. Pull any weeds out of flower beds.
These small measures will help you make the best first impression on buyers.
If you’re thinking of buying a particular home, you’re probably aware that you should get a qualified home inspector to examine it. In fact, most offers will include a condition that the property be inspected before the sale becomes final.
A good home inspector will go over the property from top to bottom, inside and out. He or she will look for things like cracks in the foundation, outdated wiring, repairs that need to be done, and aging components (such as the roof and furnace). The inspector will also provide a timeline for the replacement of any of the major components including HVAC, windows, roof, etc.
Basically, a home inspector helps you understand the condition of the home and the related expenses you should expect.
But it can also be very beneficial for a seller to hire a home inspector. Getting your current home inspected before you list it for sale can help sell your property faster and for the best price.
Say you put your home on the market. You get an offer. That offer is conditional on a home inspection. What if the inspector uncovers a major issue, like a leak you weren’t aware of, or some problem with the wiring? The buyer could potentially walk away from the deal.
If, however, you got your home inspected first, you would know about those issues in advance and could deal with them appropriately.
So a good home inspector can be more valuable than you think!
You visit a garage sale on a sunny Saturday morning and find a bicycle that you think would be perfect for your child. You look at the price tag and it’s about twice as much as you would expect to pay. When you question the owner, he says, “That bike has a lot of sentimental value for me. I couldn’t let it go for less.”
Chances are, you’ll pass on the bike. The owner sees the bike and happily remembers teaching his daughter to ride it. What you see is just a bike! You can’t buy someone else’s memories.
This scenario sometimes plays itself out in real estate. A homeowner has fond memories of his home. He may have renovated the den himself and is proud of his work. He may delight in memories of family BBQs on the deck.
That doesn’t mean the house will sell for more than its market value.
So when you put your property on the market, make sure emotions don’t get in the way of pricing it properly.
Fortunately, memories will stay with you, even without your house. You’ll be able to happily take them along to your next home.
When you purchased your current home, chances are it was a good match for your lifestyle. It had the space you needed, the features you wanted, and a location that worked for you.
But for most people, lifestyle and needs evolve through the years. Kids get older. Jobs or careers change. People take on new hobbies and other interests.
As a result, the home that was ideal a few years ago may not fit with your current lifestyle.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shop for a new home! However, it may mean that it’s worth taking a look at the market and seeing what’s possible.
Think about the kind of home that would support your lifestyle today. Ask questions like:
- How many bedrooms do we need?
- How easy is it to travel to work each day?
- What special features do we want in our home? (Big backyard? Rec room? Quiet area?)
- What do we want nearby? (School? Playground? Walking and biking trails? Shopping? Entertainment? Golf?)
- What else does our home need in order to support our lifestyle?
After asking yourself some of these key questions, ask other family members for their opinions too.
You may, in fact, find that the property you have now is still ideal for your lifestyle.
If, however, your home is no longer a good fit, you have options. You can stay in your current home despite it no longer being ideal, you can make some changes (a renovation, perhaps), or you can see what’s available in the housing market.
When a hotel wants to make a room look inviting, they start with the bathroom. They clean it until it sparkles. They place fresh towels everywhere. They make sure the soap bars and shampoos are new. Some hotels even fold the end of the toilet paper into a nice neat triangle!
Why all the fuss?
Hoteliers know that if a customer is impressed with the bathroom, they will likely feel the same way about the rest of the property.
Something to think about when selling your house.
When you’re shopping for a new home, it’s a good idea to create a checklist of what you want and what you need. It keeps you on track to ultimately find the property that best fits your requirements — and those of your family.
However, there’s a big difference between want and need that is important to understand when house hunting. A ‘need’ refers to a feature that is an absolute must in a new home. A ‘want’, by contrast, is a ‘nice-to-have’.
Some home buyers make the mistake of choosing a ‘want’ at the expense of a ‘need’.
For example, say you ‘need’ four bedrooms in your new home but ‘want’ a golf course located nearby. It can be tempting to fall in love with a property that has a beautiful golf course just a couple of blocks away, even if it has only three bedrooms. You may find yourself signing the offer while dreaming of Saturday morning tee-offs, only to awake to the realization months later that the lack of an extra bedroom has become a serious inconvenience to you and your family.
Of course, it is possible to get most, if not all, of what you need and want in a new home. But if it comes down to a choice, it’s usually a good idea not to sacrifice something you really need in order to get something you want.
So, when you’re making your house hunting checklist, be clear about what is a need-to-have and what is a nice-to-have.
And don’t forget that some features you want — like a wrap-around backyard deck, for example — can potentially be added to your new home later.
Does your home have a lot of personality?
There’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, you may have pictures on the fireplace mantle showcasing happy family memories over the years… or trophies and other awards in the kids’ bedrooms that represent achievements that make you proud… or a fridge door covered with notes, a calendar and other items that make it a de facto family bulletin board!
These are all things that help make a house truly a place to call “home”.
But when it comes time to sell, all that personality can work against you. When buyers view your property, they want to visualize themselves living there, not you and your family.
Have you ever noticed how model homes are often furnished and decorated? All the rooms look beautiful and enticing. They draw you in. Why? Because, although all the rooms in the model home look great, they’re also impersonal. There’s no uncomfortable sense that you’re in a stranger’s home. You can easily see yourself living there.
That’s exactly what you should strive for when preparing your house for sale.
You can’t get rid of every personal item. That would be impractical. But there’s a lot you can do to depersonalize your home. For example, you can:
- Take down family pictures
- Clear items from the fridge door
- Store trophies in a box
- Remove personal knick knacks and similar items
- Keep only general titles on a bookshelf and store the rest.
The more easily buyers can see themselves living in your home, the more likely they are to become interested in it and make an offer.
You’ve shopped around and attended a few select viewings. Now you’ve found the home of your dreams. It’s yours – as long as you make the right offer!
So how do you make the right offer? That’s a very important question to consider.
If your offer is too low, you risk the seller turning you down. You may not get a chance to make a second offer, especially if there are already multiple offers for the property.
If your offer is too high, you’ll leave thousands of dollars on the table… money that could have been used for other important things, like renovations or a family vacation.
So before deciding how much to offer for a home you want, we need to talk.
We will discuss what goes into a good offer and other ways to strengthen your offer, such as getting a pre-approved mortgage certificate.