real estate tips

Staging That Sells: Using Mirrors Throughout Your Home

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Do you have a mirror in your home? Chances are the answer is yes (and that you have more than one) and for more reasons than beyond checking your reflection.

After all, mirrors are a simple way to add natural light to your home, making rooms appear large, spacious, and desirable. And as such, using mirrors strategically in your home staging efforts can help you sell, all without having to spend a significant amount of money.

Now, let’s discuss how you can use mirrors in each important room to sell your home quicker than you could otherwise.

 

Using Mirrors in Each Important Room

Mirrors aren’t just for bathrooms or bedrooms (although they are important in these rooms too). In fact, you should use mirrors in multiple ways and areas throughout your home:

  • Entryway – By placing a mirror in your home’s entryway, you can help buyers imagine the home as if it were their home. It makes your home feel, well, like a home! And it gives buyers a distinct image of themselves in the home.
  • Living Room – If you have a fireplace, placing a mirror above it is a great accent that will make the room appear larger. You should also look to place mirrors on large walls opposite windows. Doing so will reflect light and fill empty wall space, immediately making the room appear more spacious.
  • Bedroom – If you don’t already have a mirror above your dresser, it’s a great idea to do so. It will make the space feel more livable, not to mention add a nice decorative touch to the room.
  • Kitchen – Kitchens don’t often have mirrors, but sometimes adding one can add another personalized touch that resonates well with buyers. In particular, you may want to add one if you have an entry/exit door in your kitchen near a hook for keys or other accents.
  • Bathroom – Every bathroom comes standard with a mirror, but that doesn’t mean your mirror has to be boring. In fact, you can choose a fun shape or mirror with a decorative frame to make even the smallest of bathrooms more stylish.

 

United Real Estate Specializes in the Staging and Sale of Homes

Are you currently trying to sell your home but aren’t quite successful? If so, the team at United Real Estate can help with the tips above and more!

Since 1925, we’ve helped homeowners like you stage and sell homes throughout the United States. Contact us today to discuss your unique needs and learn more about how we can help sell your home!

Buying Your First Home: How to Get Started

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Have you recently been feeling that now is the “right” time to purchase your first home? If so, it’s an incredibly exciting time in your life. However, there is also a lot of stress and anxiety that can come with the process.

If you’ve never purchased a home before, chances are that you have some questions. The most pressing of which is: “How do I even get started in my search?” And if you’ve been wondering the same thing, you’ve come to the right place.

Start the Process With a Few Key Questions

We’re going to answer your question with another question (or rather, questions). After all, it’s important to ensure you’re really ready to buy rather than doing so on a whim.

Some questions you should consider before going further in the process include:

  • Should I be purchasing a home at this time or is renting a better option/ Am I planning on staying in this area for the next three to five years?
  • What are my reasons for purchasing my home? Am I buying for the “right” reasons?
  • Am I at the right place in my life (relationships, job, financial stability) to purchase a home?

If these questions don’t slow you down or give you pause, it’s time to consider the next part of the process: Financing your home.

 

Get Your Finances in Line

Purchasing a home is one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your lifetime. And as such, it’s important to make sure your finances are in order before beginning the actual house hunt.

When you’re considering financing, it’s important to research available loan programs as well as potential mortgage rates and fees. Often, this means you should order your credit report, correct any errors, and pay down current loan balances before going to a lender.

Once your credit is in order, you can visit multiple lenders (beginning with your own financial institution) to interview mortgage brokers, determine potential loan programs, and figure out your potential monthly mortgage payment (depending on the home you can afford). You will want to get a preapproval letter since doing so will give you more leverage in negotiations with sellers once you find the home you want.

 

Next, the Home Search Can Begin

After these vital preparatory steps, you can begin the home search. It’s best to do so with an experienced real estate agent, helping you avoid common mistakes and get the best value for your money.

The best way to find a qualified agent is to ask for referrals from family members, friends or colleagues. By doing so, you can avoid the headache that comes with choosing an agent whose expertise might not fit your needs.

 

United Real Estate Can Help You Purchase Your First Home

If you’re interested in purchasing your first home and are looking for an agent to help you do so, the team at United Real Estate can help.

With decades of experience in helping individuals just like you, we can help find the perfect first home no matter your budget or needs. Contact us to begin the search for your home, today!

How to Balance Buying and Selling a Home

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Whether you’re downsizing or upgrading, purchasing a new home is exciting. However, selling your current home at the same time can be quite a challenge.

As you can imagine, both selling and buying at the same time (or even within a short time of each other) can get tricky, and fast! But if you’re caught up in this balancing act, there are a few different paths you can choose, all of which we’ll discuss below to help you make the best choice for both you and your family.

What if You Sell First, Then Buy?

This is what’s known as the safe option, primarily because you won’t purchase a new home with the hopes of selling your current home quickly and for the price you want. However, this scenario often puts you and your family in an inconvenient scenario.

For example, if you sell your home quickly, you may have to put your belongings in storage as you search for the home you want. But with the comfort and peace of mind that comes with already selling one home before moving on to the next, many homeowners find this option attractive.

What if You Buy First, Then Sell?

If you don’t want to be in a temporary rental between selling your current home and purchasing a new one, buying first may be the answer. After all, doing so means that you can move in to your new home at a pace that works with your lifestyle. However, doing so may also mean you’re responsible for two mortgages for an undetermined period of time.

If you own your current home, this plan is great. But if you’re already paying it off, paying two mortgages may put a financial strain on your family. As such, it’s important to consider whether or not you’re financially able to support this scenario if you end up purchasing your new home before selling your current one.

What if You Buy and Sell at the Same Time?

In an ideal world, you would be able to carefully balance the buying and selling of both homes so you aren’t burdened by two mortgages or forced to find a rental as you search for your new home. However, doing so can be difficult.

The best way to buy and sell at the same time is to turn to bridge financing. Doing so means you’re able to own both homes for some time but requires a short-term bank loan. This basically establishes a Home Equity Line of Credit, allowing you to put a down payment on your new home by borrowing against the loan on your current home. Then, once you sell your home, you can repay the loan.

In this scenario, it’s also best to try and schedule the closing on your home sale after the closing date of your new home. By doing so, you can move in to your new home before closing on your current home, streamlining the entire process.

United Real Estate is Your Resource for Home Sales and Purchases

If you’re currently trying to balance buying a new home and selling your current home, the team at United Real Estate can help.

Our expertise allows us to effectively balance these buying and selling scenarios, creating an ideal experience for you and your family. Contact us to find your dream home, today!

Increase Your Home’s Value in Five Easy Steps

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When it comes to one of the most important investments you’ll ever make, where you put your money matters. If you’re looking for smarter ways to spend your dollars and increase the value of your home, we’ve got five easy steps to get you started on.

Tip 1: Paint

It’s a tried a true method for a reason – it works! You’ve probably heard this many times over, but that’s because it’s one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to add value to your home. You can update the look of your house in a weekend and gain real value for very low cost – a gallon of paint only costs around $25. on average! Paint can do wonders to the look and feel of your home, making it feel fresh and new — a definite value add– so what are you waiting for?

Tip 2: Kitchen Updates

Most people see dollar signs when they hear the word kitchen, but you don’t have to spend a lot to add real value to your home. Stainless steel items such as a new microwave, kitchen sink, or toaster will instantly update the look of your kitchen for very little. You can even replace kitchen cupboard knobs and drawer handles with stainless steel alternatives in not time at all. If your countertops are looking tired, there are some great faux granite options that you can easily DIY over the weekend.

Tip 3: Carpet 

Dirty carpet can ruin the entire look of your home. Keep it looking fresh by hiring a carpet cleaner. It’s relatively inexpensive and a hard to beat quick fix. If your carpet has done it’s time but you’re not ready to replace it yet, try smart area rugs to give your floors an update.

Tip 4: Landscaping.

Your yard is the first part of your home that people see so it’s important to create a positive first impression.  Simple weeding, lawn mowing, and planting low-maintenance shrubs are all that’s necessary to boost your home’s curb appeal.  Even it you’re not into gardening, a few shrubs will go a long way towards increasing the value of your home.

Tip 5: Bathroom Renovations.

Adding some minor updates to your bathrooms can drive up the value of your home with little effort on your part. To create easy wins in your bathrooms, start by replacing old faucet handles, showerheads and toilet seats. To keep your tub and shower looking fresh, consider re-grouting the tile for an updated look. A pedestal sink is easy to install and can drastically improve the overall appearance of the bathroom.

Increasing the value of your home doesn’t always equal expensive renovations and lost weekends. Try one of these tips and you’ll be well on your way towards increasing your home’s value with time to spare.

If you’re looking for more information on how to increase the value of your home so you can make the most of your upcoming home sale, contact the team today for a confidential discussion.

Sources:

http://www.eceee.org/all-news/columnists/Harry_Verhaar/Bulbs

http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/interior-remodel/30-tips-for-increasing-your-homes-value

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/10-cheap-fixes-to-boost-the-value-of-your-home-1.aspx#ixzz3YVaA3LtQ

10 Quick Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Sale

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How does it sound if you could sell your home for top dollar and do it more quickly than you thought possible? For most homeowners, it sounds like a dream come true and with proper preparation, it can happen for you as well.

Below, we’re going to share 10 quick tips to ensure your home is ready for sale and that once it is, you’ll get the most money possible for it.

  1. Disassociate Your Attachment to Your Home

Whether you’ve raised your kids in your home or have other associations making it difficult to let go, the first step in preparing your home is to take yourself and your family out of the equation. This will make it easier to prepare if you’re able to view it as just a house rather than your house.

  1. Pack Up Everything Personal

Have photos of your family everywhere? Some priceless family antiques that you love showing off? If you do, know that while you love them, potential buyers won’t. You want all buyers to envision themselves in your home so getting rid of everything that’s personal will help them do just that.

  1. Cut the Clutter

If you haven’t moved before, you’ll quickly realize how much you have in your home that you don’t need or use. If you haven’t used something in over a year, pack it up, donate it, or throw it away. This includes collectables, random items on countertops, books, and more.

  1. Rearrange and Reorder Your Cabinets and Closets

Let’s face it: buyers are going to look in all of your cabinets and closets to see not only what kind of space you have, but to snoop as well. And if your cabinets are a mess, it might leave the wrong impression. However, a quick reorganization and reordering can fix that.

  1. If Necessary, Put Some Belongings in Storage

If you have a lot of furniture cluttering up your space, it’s often best to remove some of it and put it in a storage unit. Not only will your space appear larger, but it will show better as well.

  1. Remove Anything You Want to Take With You

If you’ve hung your grandmother’s chandelier in the entryway and want to take it with you, you don’t want to leave it in place and have a buyer fall in love with it and get hung up on it in the final negotiations. This means that if you know you want to take something, it’s best to remove it early so you don’t run into any issues.

  1. Make Any Necessary Minor Repairs

Minor repairs can add up to one more significant negative impression. By making quick fixes like patching holes, replacing cracked tiles, painting walls neutral colors, and fixing faucets and drawers, you can prevent buyers from developing any doubt as to why they should want your home over others.

  1. Clean, Clean, Clean!

No buyer wants to walk into a dirty home, they’ll assume this is how you’ve taken care of it for years! Make sure the whole house sparkles from the windows to the sidewalks, carpets, grout, rugs, and even the towels on display in the bathroom.

  1. Scrutinize and Double Check Your Work

Once you’ve done steps 1 through 8, it’s time to take a step back. Put yourself in your buyer’s position. Ask yourself questions like: would you want to enter your home? Would you be impressed with each room as you enter? Do rooms pull you in? If the answer is no to any of these questions, do your best to identify problems and correct them.

  • Do Your Part on the Outside, Too!

Curb appeal matters. This means it’s time to clear the sidewalks, mow the lawn, paint faded trim, trim your bushes, and ensure your house number is clearly visible.

Looking for Assistance Selling Your Home?

Preparing your home is only half the battle when it comes to selling your home.

And, when you’re looking for consummate professionals that can work with your home preparation to sell for top dollar, United Real Estate can help. Contact us today to get started!

Marketing Exclusively for United Real Estate Agents

Enhanced Marketing Solutions (EMS) works exclusively with United Real Estate and United Country Real Estate offices, managing close to 1,000 marketing campaigns a year. The EMS team is made up of 11 experienced marketing professionals whose talents range from graphic design to copy writing and everything in-between.

EMS can take care of all marketing needs, from a simple flyer design to a full digital, print, and direct mail marketing campaign. The marketing services provided by EMS are here to assist affiliates by giving them more time to find new listings, while we focus on generating interest and leads to your current listings.

In most cases, the owner of the listing funds the marketing campaign at no cost to the affiliate. Both the owner and the affiliate benefit from marketing because the listing sells more quickly.  Using EMS can help affiliates stand out from their competition because other companies don’t offer full marketing services such as these.  Check out the infographic below to see all the services EMS has to offer and get started on your creative brief at http://www.enhancedmarketing.net/project/.

 

Enhanced Marketing Solutions

10 ways to Earn a 10x Return from the United Real Estate Convention

  • Increase your income; attend the 2015 convention.

    Increase your income; attend the 2015 convention.

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We know it’s difficult to get away but with national speakers, multiple training sessions and agents from across the world, the 2015 United Real Estate Convention is guaranteed to increase your productivity – and income – in 2015. Join us in Dallas March 19 – 21, 2015.

  • Implement one technology strategy from Andrew Dorn’s talk. Andrew Dorn is a National Speaker from Realtor.com®.
  • Retrain your brain to recognize and better capitalize on your current resources. Michele Gielan from GoodThink, Inc. will show you the way.
  • Catch CEO Dan Duffy in the halls and spend ten minutes talking to him.  He’s a hub of knowledge and his positivity is highly contagious.
  • Meet one new colleague who you refer a deal to.
  • Learn how to build your personal brand the right way.
  • Walk away with a roadmap to secure premier listings and entire development projects through Enhanced Marketing Services (EMS).
  • Identify six areas that will help you be specific about the best client for your skills and strengths.  Then build a plan on how to serve them.
  • Learn how to buy and sell existing books of business with Succession Planning
  • Fine tune your business by focusing on the things that make the most difference.
  • Learn one risk reduction technique in our digital world.

Interested in attending? Contact us at eventteam@unitedrealestate.com or (855) 441-6288- we’re happy to answer your questions or help get you registered. Or register online by visiting UREConvention.com.

Helpful Hints for Holiday Home Sales

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During the winter people are often preoccupied with family, gift buying and avoiding the cold, which can make selling a home during the holidays difficult. Since purchasing a home is often not at the forefront of most people’s minds during the month of December, it is all the more important to market your home appropriately.  Although home buying is often in the decline during the holiday months, keep your spirits bright with these holiday home selling tips!

  1. Hire a photographer to take impressive photos of your home.  Most buyers will start their search for a home on the web, year-round. But this rings even more true during the winter months, as buyers are trying to avoid the cold weather. Give a great first impression of your home with photos that will entice buyers to come visit your home in person.
  2. Decorate for the holidays, but don’t overdo it. Keeping decorations simple will help avoid looking tacky.  Avoid offending potential buyers by displaying general winter decorations, rather than those that pertain to a specific religion. Outdoor wreaths are a nice way to welcome people into your home.
  3. Provide welcoming treats for guests. Help guests feel cozy in your home by providing treats like cookies, coffee or hot chocolate when they enter from the cold. Homebuyers who can picture themselves in a home are more likely to make an offer.
  4. Market to motivated buyers. Those buying a home in the winter typically have a reason to be doing so – job relocation or military placement, those looking to purchase before the tax deadline or college students/staff. Even though traffic may be lighter, the buyers are likely more motivated.
  5. Price your home competitively. With fewer buyers looking to buy home during the winter months, it’s likely that there will be more buyers than sellers. Price your home competitively to help keep your home at the top of customer’s minds.

Need help selling your home? We’ve got agents around the country who can help you with buying or selling your home. Contact us to get started.

The Problem with Pricing Your Home too High

  • Can you use gift money for a downpayment?

    Can you use gift money for a downpayment?

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Homes can be expensive and often a lot of work, making it seem like your home is valued at much more than it is. But the truth is, your home is only worth what the market is willing to pay. Pricing your home too high will discourage interested parties from making an offer and cause your property to sit for months, which is never the goal.

Unfortunately, it often doesn’t matter what’s included in our offering – or what your mortgage is. The number of days a property has been on the market is the major determinate of a correctly priced home. If you haven’t received an offer in a 30-day period, the price is too high. The longer a house is on the market, the less valuable it appears to buyers.

Appreciation and depreciation can be difficult to calculate without a firm grasp on your local market. As someone who looks at multiple houses every day or week, a professional real estate agent will know what the market is willing to pay and should be able to guide you with your pricing. There are certain things that homeowners can do to influence buyers’ perceptions of their home’s value and increase the price buyers are willing to pay for it. Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to make a timely sale.

Overpricing your house in the beginning can make the selling process much more difficult. The first days of listing your home should garner the most interest and overpricing will cause you to miss that window. If you’re interested in talking to a local real estate agent about what an appropriate listing price would be, let us know. We’re here to help.

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

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    foreclosures

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If you’re looking to find a great deal on a home (and who isn’t?), you’ve probably considered buying a foreclosure, as a primary residence or as an investment property. While you might get a good price, purchasing a foreclosure home doesn’t come without some extra work.

Here’s a few hints to get you started:

  1. Foreclosed homes are also called real estate owned (REO) property. An REO property is owned by a bank or lender as a result of the previous owner defaulting on the loan. Other names for these properties would be a foreclosure property or a bank-owned property.
  1. Finding a real estate agent who works directly with banks that own foreclosed homes will provide you the best access to area houses. A site like ForeclosuresUS.com will help home buyers narrow down their search. Simple searches for ‘REO properties’ or ‘foreclosures’ can also help refine the search.
  1. Distressed properties are for sale during many stages of the foreclosure process. You might find homes in any of these stages.
    1. Pre-foreclosure – the homeowner still has control of the property
    2. Auction sale – you may be bidding against others, including investors
    3. Real estate-owned (REO) – a lender-owned property
    4. Government-owned – potentially a slower process with more paperwork
  1. Since the bank has not maintained the home, there will not likely be any record of repairs or maintenance that would assess the true property condition. The home comes with little room for negotiations and improvements. Similar to buying something ‘as-is’ the buyer will be responsible for repairs and updates.

Ultimately, the goal of combing through foreclosure listings is not to find a house – it’s to find an agent. Banks usually have a few agents who handle their foreclosure properties and these agents will have the insight into newly available homes. The economy will determine how many bank-owned homes you’ll find in your area. During a recession, as many as one-third of homes are sold in foreclosure but in a growing economy you might not find anything worth investing in.

Need help combing through foreclosures in your area? Contact us and one of our real estate agents can help you refine your search.