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Buyer and Seller Tips

Buyer Tip: 

Buying your first home is a big and exciting step, to say the least. Just because you're new to the process doesn't mean you can’t do your research and be prepared. By doing so, you won’t make these rookie mistakes. 

1. Not knowing how much house you can afford

Before you get picky about countertops, have your finances in order. One of your first steps should be attaining mortgage pre-approval.

2. Assuming foreclosures are great deals

The old saying "too good to be true" often applies to foreclosures. First, decreases in home values can mean the house you're getting isn't the deal of the century you thought it was. Second, foreclosures are notorious for having repair issues, especially if they've been vacant for a while. It’s safest to proceed with caution.

3. Letting your true feelings show

As personal as homebuying is, don't lose sight of the fact that it's ultimately a formal transaction involving your money. Maintain a poker face to avoid being taken advantage of. 

4. Failing to find a good buyer's agent

Find someone you trust, someone who has your best interests in mind, and knows what you’re looking for. 

5. Underestimating the costs of owning a home

Remember when you were a renter and you could call the landlord when the A/C broke and the toilet overflowed all on the same day last August? When it's your house, it's your responsibility. Don't fail to take into account upkeep when calculating how much house you can afford, especially if it's an older home. 

6. Failing to budget for property taxes

Budgeting in all aspects is important, especially when it comes to property taxes.

7. Assuming your first offer will be accepted

As much as we would hope for this to be true, we know that often times it isn’t.

8. Skipping the inspection

Looks can be deceiving.  That charming bungalow could be hiding some nasty surprises like structural issues or wiring that belongs in a museum.  The inspector is your friend, especially if he has bad news!

9. Doing too much too fast

So you've got the house and you're ready to go full-on HGTV, tearing down walls and retiling the bathroom.  Have some patience. Live in the place for a year, figure out what you really want, and go from there. And don't overextend your efforts thinking you'll get it all back when it comes time to sell. 

10. Failing to include a contingency clause in the contract

A contingency clause protects you and the buyer in case all doesn't go as planned.  Some of the more common ones are the house sale, subject-to-financing, and subject-to-inspection clauses.  If the contingency isn't satisfied, your offer can be withdrawn or modified.

Seller Tip: 

Curb appeal matters, whether you’re trying to sell your home or you’re just vying for that coveted Yard of the Month award. If your home has unkempt landscaping, peeling paint or missing shingles, then you may need to make some repairs to add curb appeal. The good news is that enhancing your home’s curb appeal doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. With these budget-friendly renovations, you can makeover your home’s exterior to create a finished exterior look you can truly be proud of.

1. Freshen up your front door

Make a statement by giving your home a pop of color with paint or by installing a custom wood door. Clean any dirty spots around the knob and polish the door fixtures. Your entry should also reflect the home's interior, so choose a wreath or door decoration that reflects your personal style.

2. Refresh planter beds

Get garden beds into shape by pruning, pulling weeds, planting flowers and adding mulch to restore color. If stone or brick borders your bed, consider cleaning and resetting any pieces that are broken or dislodged. If your border is old or tired-looking, try upgrading to stone or a decorative edging system for improved curb appeal.

3. Update outdoor hardware

House numbers, the entry door lockset and light fixtures are all elements that can add style to your home's exterior curb appeal. If they're out of date or dingy, your home may not be conveying the aesthetic you're hoping for. Oiled-bronze finishes suit traditional homes, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary ones.

4. Upgrade the mailbox

Mailboxes should complement the property and express the home's personality. When choosing a hanging drop box, pick a box that mirrors your home's exterior. Dress up mailboxes for curb appeal by painting the wooden post to match the house's exterior or surrounding it with a flowering garden. 

5. Maintain the driveway and walkways

Try storing your garbage and recycling containers behind a fence or in the garage, so it's out of sight. Take care of minor cracks in the driveway by pulling any weeds and patching or resealing them. If the surfaces are looking dingy, a quick power-washing is a great way to freshen up the driveway and walkways. 

6. Replace or repair gutters

If your home has an older gutter system, odds are it's suffering from peeling paint, rust spots, or other problems that can portray neglect. Replace old systems with newer, snap-fit vinyl gutter systems that go together with few tools and require no painting. Newer systems can be refreshed with a quick cleaning or a coat of paint, if needed.

7. Add shutters or trim

Shutters and trim add a welcoming layer of curb appeal to your home's exterior. Shutters also control light and ventilation and can provide privacy and security. Exterior shutters can be made of wood, aluminum, vinyl, composite or fiberglass. New composite materials, like PVC resins or polyurethane, make trim durable and low maintenance.

8. Install window boxes

Window boxes offer a fast, easy way to bring color and personality to your home's curb appeal. Use boxes made from copper or iron for a traditional look or painted wood for a cottage feel. Mix and match flowers and plants to suit your lighting conditions and color scheme.

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