Perhaps you are a homeowner preparing to sell your home and are curious what features will make your home standout to potential buyers. You wonder if things like appliance updates really will grab more attention in listing photos and if you should do a bathroom remodel instead of updating the kitchen. At realtor.com, home is everything and we can help.
Based on a recent survey by our consumer insights team, which took into account such factors as where people live by state as well as location type (urban, suburban, and rural), their age and gender, central air conditioning is one of the top-five home features that buyers look for across all regions and generations in the U.S. Not surprising, where it falls on the ranking varies by where people are located. For instance, buyers in the Midwest and South put it on the top of their list. In the Northeast it falls to No. 3 and then goes down to No. 5 for people in the West. Nationwide, central air conditioning is the top feature for baby boomers, but for millennials, the top feature is a large backyard.
Based on our research, an updated kitchen with new appliances is much more important than updated bathrooms for buyers. Twelve percent of the buyers we surveyed ranked an updated kitchen in their top-three home features, whereas only about 4 percent ranked updated bathrooms in their top three.
Our survey found that what people want in their home does vary by age, which is most likely driven by their lifestyle and needs. Millennials (21-36 years old) may be starting families and value a large backyard more than an updated kitchen. However, those in the silent generation (72 years old and up), prefer an updated kitchen over a large backyard.
Another feature that has risen to the top of what buyers are looking for extends beyond the home and is about the community around the property. For boomers and the silent generation, proximity to healthcare facilities is essential and ranked as the No. 2 preference. In contrast, proximity to healthcare facilities came in at No. 6 for Generation X (37-52 years old) and at the bottom of the list for Millennials. Instead, given that these younger buyers may have children, having good schools in the area is imperative. Over 20 percent of millennials selected good schools as their top neighborhood feature and all groups ranked quality grocery stores at the top of their list.
Despite the generational differences, our survey found that some features are timeless. Central air conditioning, updated kitchens and appliances, and a large backyard are what buyers are looking for regardless of age.
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Searching for a house locally is not without its difficulties. Add hundreds or even thousands of miles to the equation, and it becomes infinitely more complicated.
Though long-distance house hunting has its unique challenges, it’s not impossible. In fact, with the right agent and the convenience of modern technology, it’s never been easier to buy a house remotely.
Here are a few critical factors to keep in mind when you find yourself in a home search from afar.
Do your homework
When it comes to long-distance home shopping, the internet is your best friend. You know the neighborhoods you live in, but you know nothing about your new one. You don’t know where the mall is, school, or grocery stores.
Though nothing can substitute checking out the neighborhood in person, Shike recommends looking up commute times to work, crime rates in the area, and, most importantly, how the schools rank. Even if you don’t have children or don’t plan to have children, it’s still good to know the quality of the schools for resale purposes.
One of the biggest pieces of the long-distance house-hunting puzzle, however, is to make sure you’re researching who the best local real estate agents are. It’s always crucial to hire an agent you trust, but with a long-distance search the agent can make or break the experience.
You’re going to want someone local on the ground; Someone who is very familiar with the city, neighborhood, and prices. You need to understand how that person is. Are they going to be able to answer all of your questions and communicate well?
Know what you want
When you’re in the market for a home, you should always have a running list of features you want, but it’s especially crucial when you’re buying from a distance.
Knowing exactly what you want out of a house and location allows your agent to help you narrow down neighborhoods and homes more easily, and assist you in making an offer quickly, which is especially important in a fast-moving market.
Overcome remote home-buyer jitters
For those buyers who are nervous about making an offer sight unseen, there is the possibility of adding a clause in the contract that the sale is contingent on the buyer seeing it.
Of course, there is also always the option of renting first before you take the plunge.
Overall, buying a house from a distance shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as a negative experience. In fact, it can give many shoppers new opportunities, and buyers are often more excited when purchasing long distance.
It can be a nice change of pace for people. Another benefit to moving long distance is a fresh start: a new neighborhood, new culture, new people, and new experiences everywhere.
Ready for a kitchen renovation? Anxious for a bathroom remodel? The easy part is knowing your goal for home remodeling — whether you’re trying to keep up with your growing family, add office space, or increase your home’s value.
But figuring out how to plan a home renovation that doesn’t break the bank can be tricky.
Here are five key steps in planning your home remodeling project.
1. Estimate home renovation costs
As a general rule of thumb, you should spend no more on each room than the value of that room as a percentage of your overall house value.
For example, a kitchen generally accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the property value, so spend no more than this on kitchen renovation costs. If your home is worth $200,000, for example, you’ll want to spend $30,000 or less.
A kitchen remodel should cost no more than 10 to 15 percent of your home’s value. Photo from Offset.
Something else to keep in mind: Contrary to popular belief, kitchen renovations offer among the lowest return on investment. Every dollar you spend on a kitchen remodel increases the value of your home by 50 cents.
The highest return on investment? A mid-range bathroom remodel.
2. Consider home remodeling loan options
If you plan on borrowing money to fund your home renovations, there are a plenty of loans out there to help with just that.
Refinancing. Depending on your current interest rate, you might be able to refinance your mortgage at a lower rate and/or for a longer loan term, which could lower your monthly payments and help you save up for your renovations.
Cash-out refinance. If you have enough equity, you could also consider a cash-out refinance, which means refinancing your existing loan for an amount that’s higher than what you owe. Going this route, you pay off your original mortgage and have cash left over.
HELOC. If refinancing sounds like too big of a leap, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) might work better. A HELOC works a lot like a credit card in the sense that it has a set limit that you can borrow against.
Home equity loan. Although it sounds similar to a HELOC, a home equity loan is a bit different. This loan requires you to take out all the cash at one time. They’re often referred to as “second mortgages” because homeowners get them in addition to their first mortgage.
Refinancing, getting a HELOC or taking out a home equity loan are all big decisions, and it can be tough to know which one makes the most sense for you.
3. Get home renovation quotes from contractors
Some contractors will give you an estimate based on what they think you want done, and work completed under these circumstances is almost guaranteed to cost more. You have to be very specific about what you want done, and spell it out in the contract — right down to the materials you’d like used.
Make sure that contractors’ estimates include the full scope of your project. Photo from Shutterstock.
Get quotes from several contractors, tossing out the bid from the one who gives you the lowest estimate. Going with this choice could be asking for problems, as low-priced contractors are known to cut corners — at your expense.
4. Stick to the home remodeling plan
As the renovation moves along, you might be tempted to add on another “small” project or incorporate the newest design trend at the last minute. But know that every time you change your mind, there’s a change order, and even minor changes can be costly. Strive to stick to the original agreement, if possible.
Even minor changes to your remodeling project’s scope can add significant costs. Photo from Offset.
5. Account for hidden home renovation costs
Your home may look perfect on the outside, but there could be issues lurking beneath the surface. In fact, hidden imperfections are one of the reasons renovation projects end up costing more than you anticipated.
Rather than scramble to come up with extra money after the fact, give yourself a cushion upfront. Factor in 10 to 20 percent (or more) of your contracted budget for unforeseen expenses, as they can — and do — occur. In fact, it’s rare that any project goes completely smoothly.
Many homes come with kitchens that are less than ideal. The lighting can be off, the appliances old, the floors grimy and counter space- awful.
Get the most out of the kitchen space you do have with these tips.
You can create extra space, even when it seems impossible. Over-the-sink covers, cutting boards and colanders help increase your workspace.
Burner covers for your stove and a large cutting board or tray can create extra counter space when you’re entertaining and want to set out snacks (provided you don’t need to use your stove).
Fold-up tables (attached to the wall or stand-alone) offer extra space when needed. If there’s room, a butcher block or island instantly create food prep or storage space.
Another simple way to create space? Slim down your belongings — especially on the counters — and only keep the necessities.
A wall above the stove may be perfectly suited for a pegboard where you can hang pots, pans and utensils. Magnetic knife and spice racks can fit into small wall spaces under cabinets or above sinks.
Refrigerators can serve as storage space for magnetic spice racks, towels, pot holders, or dry-erase boards or chalkboards, which are both useful and decorative. And over-the-cabinet hooks and towel racks add extra storage quickly and easily.
Small bookcases are a kitchen’s best friend. They are perfectly narrow, they come in many heights and they offer tons of storage options.
In addition to keeping cookbooks tidy, they can also hold pots, pans, dishes, food items, storage containers and baskets.
Add hooks to the side of your bookshelf to store aprons or other lightweight tools.
Add art and color
Art and color are fast ways to personalize a small kitchen. Color-coordinated kitchen accessories become art in and of themselves, and a simple color palette lets the eye rest in a small space.
When using every inch of space, don’t forget to leave room for a few decorative elements. Hang attractive tea towels with pushpins for a practical splash of color. And fresh flowers on a shelf or table instantly brighten the space and add life.
If you have a windowsill, an herb garden is the perfect way to use the space and bring vibrancy.
Every older kitchen has at least one eyesore: an ancient microwave, a scratched-up refrigerator or a hideous vinyl floor. If you’re not ready to put down the cash for a remodel, cover these as best you can.
Cover exposed sink pipes with curtains attached to the bottom of the sink (bonus: extra storage space). Store your old microwave or replace it with a newer, more attractive version.
As for scratched or just plain ugly refrigerators and appliances, adhesive vinyl can create a like-new look in a matter of minutes.
Cover unsightly floors with kitchen-friendly mats that also make standing at the counter easier on your feet, and refresh old cupboards and drawers with plain or patterned drawer liners.
Lighting in any kitchen is hard to get right. Many fixtures make the space feel dated, and upgrading bulbs and cleaning light covers will make a difference right away. Consider installing adhesive under-cabinet lighting to better illuminate your workspace.
If you can direct your lighting, such as track lighting, make sure it points to the kitchen triangle — that well-worn path from the stove to the sink to the refrigerator.
If overhead lighting is scarce, consider using table lamps and even floor lamps. A floor lamp in a kitchen might seem odd at first, but put it at the end of a counter or tucked behind a table, and you’ll be grateful for the extra light.
So you’re finally in your new home, surrounded by piles of boxes, tired and glad that your relocation is about to end.
To fully complete your moving adventure, you need to unpack your belongings and make your new place feel like home. But where do you even begin?
First things first
No matter how much you want to get it over with, there are three important things to do before you can actually start unpacking.
Clean and prepare your new home. It’s easier to wipe down shelves, clean windows and mop floors before your things are in place. Make sure your new home is spotless when your things arrive. If you can’t get to your new place early enough to do a thorough cleaning, consider hiring professional cleaners to do the job for you.
Inspect and organize your belongings. Check all the delivered boxes and household items against your inventory sheet to make sure nothing is damaged or missing. Then have each of your possessions taken to the room where it belongs. If everything was properly marked and labeled, sorting your items will be a piece of cake.
Set major furniture and appliances. Position your large furniture pieces and bulky household appliances first. Then you can put any smaller items you unpack later in their rightful places. Plan your interior design well in advance so you don’t end up moving heavy pieces around several times.
Tackle the necessities
What matters most when unpacking your items after a move is ensuring that your essentials are immediately accessible. So prioritize your belongings, and unpack only the necessities first.
You may not be able to unpack the entire bedroom right away, but you’ll definitely need at least the bed the day you move in. Reassemble the bed frame (if necessary), lay down the sheets, unpack the pillows and spread the blankets so you can get a good night’s rest — you’re going to need it!
Provided that you have a change of clothes and some comfortable indoor shoes (as well as curtains on the windows to ensure your privacy), the rest of your bedroom items can wait until you find the time and the energy to deal with them.
Without a doubt, your personal care items, toiletries and medicines should top the list of the most important items to unpack after your move. Put out toilet paper and soap, find your toothbrush and toothpaste, hang the towels and the shower curtains, and unpack any other bathroom essentials you’ll need to wash away the weariness and stress of moving.
Kitchens tend to take a very long time to unpack and organize properly due to the large number of items that need to be sorted and carefully arranged.
As soon as you’ve hooked up the large appliances, such as the fridge and the stove, move on to your smaller kitchenware. Plates, silverware and glasses should be the first to find their places in cupboards and kitchen cabinets, closely followed by cooking utensils, pots and pans, and pantry items.
Kids’ and pets’ items
If you have young children, unpack some of their favorite toys, books, games and blankets during the first few hours in your new home. Keeping your young ones happy and occupied will let you concentrate on your work and finish it faster.
Of course, you should also take care of your pets’ needs immediately upon arrival. It’s a good idea to pack adequate pet food and some of your animal friends’ favorite toys in your open-first box.
When you’ve unpacked the three most essential rooms in your home (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), everything else can wait a bit. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can set your own pace when unpacking and decorating your new place — just unpack in order of priority without procrastinating.
If you stay organized, set reasonable goals, clean after every unpacking phase, and dispose of the packing materials in a safe and eco-friendly manner, your new surroundings will soon stop looking like a warehouse full of boxes and start feeling like home.
You don’t need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper staycation. Look no further than your own home for a staycaytion dreams are made of.
Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn’t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.
Here’s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.
Tackle chores in advance
Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics like washing linens, dusting and vacuuming.
For an added level of sparkle, schedule time to clean your windows. That way when you’re staring out to your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycaytion resort spa), your windows will be as spick-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.
Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycaytion, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.
Maximize your comfort
Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra elements to make your home feel like a luxury resort?
Adjust your lighting. Look for soft ambient lighting options to create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.
Add new rugs. Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.
Buy new bedding. Not only will it feel like you’re truly on a vacation somewhere else, but new sheets are an added perk after your leisure time comes to a close.
Create designated spaces
Think about what kind of environment will help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook.
If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wish list for too long.
If you have kids, create a designated craft or board-game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy while you relax.
Look outside for added comfort ideas too. Whether it’s a hammock, a porch swing or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycaytion lounging with the great outdoors.
On that note, consider setting up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycaytion, or try out a DIY fire pit for late-night chats and s’mores.
Manage meals ahead of time
Don’t waste precious relaxation time planning menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you’ll have delivered and knock out grocery shopping before your staycaytion begins.
If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your staycation time to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for — or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson.
Plan ahead to make it count
With a few preparatory tasks on your to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycaytion sanctuary. Map out what you want your staycation to be like, and delegate tasks. Soon you’ll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation — without ever leaving your home.
Before everyone starts talking about the next recession, let’s all take a second to celebrate and recognize everything that has happened over the last decade. The U.S. economy is booming! Just take a look at some of these key stats:
Gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2019 outpaced the average for the past decade
The economy added 21 million new jobs during 2010 to 2019, and pushed the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent
The U.S. population has grown about 8 percent in the past decade, and America skews younger
With over 60 percent of the population under the age of 50, demand for housing remains solid
So why are people scared over some dark clouds on the horizon? One of the reasons is that the Federal Reserve – the government system that determines monetary policy – reversed its commitment to tighten policy, and instead said it would be more patient.
This means that the Federal Reserve wasn’t fully confident in the recovery of the U.S. economy. Rather than raise interest rates, it decided to hold off and even stated they may lower rates if they felt they needed to. In turn, the markets saw this lack of confidence on the Fed’s end, and while welcoming the continuing low interest rates, became concerned about the economic outlook.
Although home sales have suffered this year in the wake of rising home prices and more economic uncertainty, there are several factors that provide a silver lining for housing. First, is that America is young and growing. That means housing is going to continue to be in demand, even more so than it is now, as younger generations continue to age and move out of their parents’ homes.
Despite the fact that the Baby Boom generation is moving toward retirement, there are over 60 million Gen Xers, 88 million Gen Y and 65 million Gen Z Americans who are either in or moving into their careers. Remember when everyone thought millennials would never buy homes or cars? Yeah, that was wrong!
So get ready housing, there is a wave of young and eager homebuyers about to hit the market in the coming years.
And while more and more young people get ready to purchase their first home, we expect to see exciting shifts in the marketplace as technology, design, and consumer preferences ripple through the country’s neighborhoods.
To learn more about housing trends and economic data, visit the realtor.com research portal.
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Moving may top the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — one that can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.
Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process, but the most common moving nightmares fall into three categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.
Moving involves a lot of loose ends, and even the smallest oversight can result in a disastrous move.
Packing chaos. You realize you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers, and some items can’t be loaded onto the moving truck. Or maybe you don’t label the boxes properly. Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes result in lost time and money.
Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may have to leave treasured pieces behind or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and delay your move.
Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget or pack all your items without sorting them out first, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.
The best way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time.
Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.
Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed, and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
Traffic accidents. If there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from your home’s entrance. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time but also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.
Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.
Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.
The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. Regardless of the excuses you receive, the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time.
The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late or lack the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience.
The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated, based on alleged extra services. They may also hold your belongings hostage until you pay an extra “fee” as ransom or steal your more expensive belongings and discard the rest.
The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.
In today’s market, many buyers forego "fixer-uppers" for move-in ready homes. As a result, significant opportunities abound in prime locations as homes that need work linger on the market.
In competitive markets, savvy consumers gravitate toward these homes that nobody else wants. Why? They can customize the home to their requirements and build equity along the way.
That said, I often recommend that buyers live in a new home for a while before undertaking any expensive remodeling or big home improvements. I’m not talking about lighting or plumbing repairs necessary to make the house habitable. Rather, I’m referring to discretionary remodeling, expansions and other improvement projects.
Here are three good reasons to at least consider holding off on the big home improvement projects until you’ve had some time to settle in.
1. Living in the home can change your mind
You may have grand visions for what you’d like to do to a home, based on its condition and your priorities at the time you buy it. But until you’re actually living there, it’s difficult to know exactly how you’ll use the house, what will work for you and what won’t.
Ultimately, it’s this day-to-day experience that will inform your home improvement decisions, instead of early notions of how you want your everyday experience to be.
2. After buying a home, you deserve a break
Buying a home is a massive project, an enormous change in your life and a shock to the system — if not your finances. I’ve seen buyers jump through hoops, spending months on end looking for a home. In some situations, it becomes a part-time job.
A home renovation can be yet another big and stressful project, what with all the decisions to make and contractors to deal with.
My recommendation: Take a break from the stress of buying your new home.
3. You need time to plan
Any renovation, no matter how small, should be designed with care. That means speaking to multiple architects, contractors or designers to get their take on your ideas and options — a time-consuming process.
An hour with a well-qualified contractor can uncover opportunities where you least expected them. For instance, even though it may be an added cost now, moving the laundry machines from the garage to the top floor during a larger renovation may save you time and money down the road.
Conversely, hiring architects and contractors while under the constraints of an escrow period is likely to cause problems for you later.
Some buyers want to jump into renovations because they don’t want to live in a construction zone or pay rent and a mortgage at the same time. While this may make some economic sense upfront, it can still cause costly problems later.
Often, buyers who said they don’t want a home that requires any work end up buying a home that needs at least some. It’s the natural evolution of the buying process. Rarely does someone end up buying the home they started off thinking they wanted.
While you should be open to doing work on a home, don’t feel stressed about getting it all done at once. Live as-is for six months to a year. Take the home for a test drive and see how it runs. You may be surprised at how your perspective and priorities change once you settle in.
Payment history is the biggest factor used in scoring, so being late on a payment can bring your credit scores down. That said, it shouldn't be reflected in your credit history unless you are at least 30 days past due. However, your credit card company may assess late fees as soon as you miss the due date.
What to Do If You Miss a Payment
When you miss a payment and you rectify the situation quickly and make your full payment before it is 30 days late, you can likely avoid having the delinquency reported to the credit reporting companies. However, missing the due date and having a check returned still can be reported against you.
In addition to charging you a late fee, your credit card company may also charge a fee for the returned check, plus interest on the revolving balance. All these fees add to your credit card balance, which can make it harder to pay that balance and keep up with future payments. Additionally, your bank may charge an overdraft fee. All those fees can add up quickly.
The most important thing you can do now is bring both accounts current as soon as possible. If you haven't already done so, contact both the credit card provider and your bank to explain what happened, and make arrangements to get both accounts back in good standing.
When Are Late Payments Reported?
Any time a payment ends up being 30 days or more past due, the lender will likely report that delinquency to Experian. Once a late payment is reported, it will show in your credit history for the next 7 years.
Late payments have a significant negative impact on credit scores because lenders view them as a sign of financial distress. If your account is reported as past due, the best thing you can do to help your credit scores recover is to bring the account current and ensure all your accounts are paid on time going forward.
The more recent a late payment is, the more it will affect your scores. If you use credit responsibly and keep your accounts current and your balances low, as time passes that late payment will affect your credit scores less and less.
Our product team is always exploring new features to make it easier for our users to find the right home. One of the newest features we are currently testing is “Schedule a tour.”
This feature came out of users’ need to get an up close, realistic view of homes they find online by making an in-person visit. Now, thanks to our “Schedule a tour” feature available in select markets, users can begin the process of touring the home with a local agent that knows the market and can offer insights about the specific home and the neighborhood.
How does it work? Let’s say you are looking for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in a great school district and a commute time of less than 45 minutes (all of which you can do on realtor.com!) and you find a home that matches your unique needs. You obviously want to see this home in person as soon as possible. To do this, simply tap the “Schedule a tour” feature, select the day and time you’re available, provide your phone number, and we’ll help you from there.
A realtor.com representative (not a bot!) will contact you to gather some basic information from you, and based on your needs, connect you to an agent who knows the market and who can help get you access to the home you’re interested in. This local agent can work with you to get answers to your questions about the home and the home buying process, and to finalize the details of your home tour.
Mobile listing display page of Chicago home.“Schedule a tour” is one of several features that realtor.com is testing in an effort to make it easier for our users to accelerate their home search and make it easier for users to communicate with a professional.
For instance, once you’re working with a matched agent, our new connected experience allows you to communicate with him or her while you’re searching on realtor.com. In just a couple of taps on your device, you can call or text your agent to ask questions about a specific property or schedule a tour with your agent. Your matched agent is there to answer any questions you have and be a trusted resource throughout your home journey.
If you’re a frequent user, you might also have noticed that we now offer more homes on each search results page, offer real time updates, made key listing details more prominent, and have made it easier to learn about homes you are interested in with larger photos.
When we asked our users about the “Schedule a tour” experience, they have shared how easy the feature is to use, the prompt response they have received from our representatives, and the quality of the local agents they were connected with. If you live or are searching for a home in one of these markets, you’ll see the option of scheduling a tour while you’re on realtor.com and we encourage you to check it out. It’s meant to provide added value to our users, and there’s no commitment.
Many of our new features and site enhancements come from feedback from our consumers. The best part is that there is more to come. We’d like to hear, how do you think realtor.com can continue to make your home search easier?
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Several of the biggest fire hazards in your home all live in your kitchen. The oven, the stovetop, your toaster… when you think of all of the heat sources your kitchen contains, it’s almost a wonder that it doesn’t burst into flames on the regular. Joking aside, the kitchen is usually a pretty safe place so long as you keep an eye on things. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore fire safety rules when in the kitchen, of course – knowing how to handle a kitchen fire can mean the difference between a scare and a tragedy.
Kitchen Fire Safety
There are a number of potential causes of kitchen fires. There are the usual fire hazards such as electrical shorts, but you also have kitchen-specific risks such as splashing oil or something falling onto a heating element. Because there are so many potential causes of a kitchen fire, your fire safety measures need to be a bit wider reaching than what you might use for other rooms in your house.
A smoke detector is important in the kitchen, as is a fire extinguisher that you can access easily. Make sure you choose the right fire extinguisher, though; opt for an ABC fire extinguisher if possible. These can be used on Class A (trash/wood/paper), Class B (oil and liquids) and Class C (electrical equipment) fires. Establish an area where you can put oven mitts, cookbooks and similar materials far enough away from the stovetop to prevent any of them from falling onto a hot surface. Inspect kitchen appliances regularly for damaged cords or other fire hazards and replace anything that could present a danger.
If a fire breaks out in your oven, your first instinct is likely to open the oven and try to put the fire out. That’s one of the worst things that you can do, though; opening the oven provides much-needed air to the fire and can make it significantly worse. Just opening the oven door can cause the fire to explode outward, potentially burning you and spreading to surrounding surfaces.
Instead, turn off the oven and leave the door closed. This will limit the availability of oxygen, causing the fire to die down and eventually go out on its own. Keep an eye on the fire, though, since if it doesn’t start dying out or seems to be getting stronger, you’ll likely need to call the fire department to deal with it.
Fires on the Stovetop
Stovetop fires come in several forms. If something falls onto a hot burner, that can cause a fire. If oil or other flammable liquids get too hot or splash out of a pan, that can also cause a fire. Even letting a pan boil dry can cause a fire. Fortunately, the majority of stovetop fires are preventable by keeping an eye on the stove whenever there’s at least one hot burner.
If a fire breaks out on the stovetop, there are a few things that you can do. If it’s a very small fire such as a grease fire in a pan, simply putting a metal lid on the pan may be enough to put the fire out. Slightly larger fires can be doused using baking soda, but do NOT use flour… though you may have heard that flour is okay to use, flour is finely ground dried plant material and is actually very flammable. Your fire extinguisher is also an option, as is calling the fire department before things get too far out of control.
Keeping Your Kitchen Safe
One key part of fire safety is making sure that your smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment stays in good working order in case you need them. HomeKeepr can help you find the pros you need for preventative maintenance, fire extinguisher inspections and more essential fire prevention services.
There are few things that homeowners dread more than mold in the house. You’ve likely heard horror stories about people living with mold infestations that made them seriously ill. Is this just hype, or is there a real danger to having mold in your home? More importantly, what can you do if you find mold growing somewhere in the house?
What Is Mold?
Mold is a broad group of fungi, with thousands of species and subspecies around the world that typically prefer dark and damp habitats. Often fuzzy in appearance (though occasionally slimy or cottony), molds spread across materials and break them down to get the nutrients the mold needs to survive and thrive. Instead of seeds, molds release single-celled spores that in many cases are too small to see with the naked eye; these spores float through the air to land on a variety of surfaces, beginning growth once they find themselves in a suitable habitat. Though molds are made up of a number of individual stalks fibers, a connected clump of mold is considered to be a single living entity.
Types of Mold
There are several common types of mold that you might see around the house. While some of these may not be inherently dangerous, any mold can trigger reactions in anyone with an allergy or sensitivity. The five most common of these molds are:
Aspergillus: One of the most common indoor molds, it often appears green, blue-green or gray but can also appear white or even yellow.
Cladosporium: A black or green mold that has an appearance like ground pepper, it commonly grows on smooth surfaces like toilets and painted walls but can also grow in fabrics and rugs.
Ulocladium: A black mold that grows in wet areas, especially in cracks and corners; it is most common in homes with water damage and active leaks.
Aureobasidium: Varying in color from pink to brown or black, this mold most commonly grows behind wallpaper, on painted surfaces and on wood.
Stachybortrys: The infamous “black mold”, it features a slimy dark green or black color and thrives in areas that are damp and maintain high humidity for weeks.
Is Mold Actually Dangerous?
While many molds are allergens, most will not cause severe reactions unless you have a mold sensitivity or have other health problems that make you more prone to infection. However, some molds (such as black mold) actually are toxic and can make you very sick if you’re around them for too long. Symptoms of a mold allergy or toxic mold exposure can include a chronic cough, skin rashes, fatigue, difficulty focusing and even pain or infection in your sinuses, eyes and ears.
Mold Testing and Removal
If you suspect that you have mold problems, there are home tests available to help you identify the type of mold in your home. These should only be a first step, however, as they often aren’t enough to definitively show you the scope of your mold problem. Call in an expert to confirm the results of your test or take a scraping of the mold and have it analyzed. Be sure to wear a dust mask or other breathing protection if you aren’t sure what type of mold you’re dealing with until the problem is taken care of.
For many mold infestations, getting rid of leaks or other sources of humidity is a great way to slow or even stop mold growth. Mold can cause serious damage over time, however, so you may need professional mold removal and repair services if you can’t get the problem under control early.
Is your home in need of some serious mold removal? HomeKeepr can help you find a mold remediator to get the mold out quickly and at a price you can afford. Because we utilize references instead of reviews, you’ll be able to rest assured that the expert you choose can really get the job done.
If you own a rental property, you know how important it is to have the right tenant. Good renters will take care of the property as though it were their own, leaving it as close to how they moved in as possible. Bad renters, on the other hand, make it obvious that they don’t care, since it’s not actually their house; it can take a significant amount of time and money to get your property back to rentable condition after they move out. Wouldn’t it be great if you could only rent to the first group and avoid the second group entirely?
While you may still occasionally get a bad tenant, with a bit of smart screening you can greatly increase your chances of finding good renters every time. This goes beyond the standard screening techniques like a credit check; it’s all about the questions you ask before making your decision. Here are a few of the best questions to ask potential renters to see if they’re the ones you really want to rent to.
Why Are You Moving?
This is a great question to start with because it gives you an idea of what motivates potential renters. Ideally, you’ll find someone who’s moving for a reason such as work relocation, trying to find a bigger house for their family or trying to find a better neighborhood or school system for their children. Watch out for people who complain about their current landlord or who seem to be trying to escape a negative situation.
Would Your Current Landlord Provide a Reference?
Talking to a current landlord gives you two important pieces of information: It lets you find out what sort of a tenant the potential renter is, and also tells you that they have been upfront with their landlord about the fact that they’re moving. Someone who wants to keep you from talking to their landlord may have something to hide.
Have You Ever Broken a Lease?
There are legitimate reasons to break a lease. Reasons such as work relocation and having to move because of unexpected family circumstances shouldn’t weigh against a potential tenant, and asking this up front gives them a chance to open up about any broken leases in their past. If they try to cover it up or cite reasons such as landlord conflicts or problems paying rent, though, then this could be a big red flag.
How Long Have You Been with Your Employer? How About the One Before That?
This is perhaps even more important than how long they’ve lived in their current home. A long period of employment shows job stability and being a new hire after working for a long period can show ambition and a desire to get ahead. On the flip side, people who have trouble maintaining a job for longer periods could have trouble paying the rent.
Who Will Live on the Property? Will There Be Any Pets?
When asking these questions, be sure not to lead the answer by saying things like “This property is intended for two people” beforehand. Give potential tenants a chance to answer to help ensure that they do so honestly. If the answer violates a no-pets policy or sounds excessive for the property, you can reveal this afterward to let them know that they’re not right for your property.
Will There Be Any Smokers on the Property?
An increasing number of rental units are going no smoking, in part because of the difficulty associated with getting smoke stains and smells out of curtains and carpet. While it’s up to you to decide on your smoking policy, if you don’t want smoking in the house then make sure that potential renters know that up front.
Will You Consent to a Background Check/Credit Check?
Not all landlords use credit and background checks, but it’s always a good idea to ask if potential renters will consent to one. If they have credit history issues or legal problems in their past, it gives them a chance to be upfront about it and provide you with the information you need to make a decision. If they don’t justify why they don’t want the info checked, it may also hint at problems they’re trying to hide.
Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
Giving potential renters a chance to ask you questions helps you make sure that they know everything they want to know about your property and your policies. If they don’t ask questions, consider how attentive they were during previous questions when you make your decision. If they were just trying to get through the interview process without paying attention, they may not be the renter for you.
Get Rental Screening Guidance from a Pro
If you’re still worried about who you might rent to, consult with one of the professional property managers on HomeKeepr. Our referral system can help you find a trustworthy property manager, vouched for by people you know. They can help you find the right tenant and bring their years of experience to your property as well.
Home automation is increasingly common these days as the number of consumer-focused smart devices continues to increase. Though automation covers everything from light controls and security systems to water leak monitors and door locks, one of the most common automation devices is the smart thermostat. These thermostats offer improved climate control and energy savings through programmable adjustments for a range of different scenarios.
There is one issue with the early smart thermostats that were introduced, however: most of them only offered a single point of climate control, not taking into account several common heating and cooling scenarios that require a bit more nuanced control. Fortunately, there are other thermostat systems now available that provide smarter climate control options.
Why a Multi-Room Approach is Important
There are a number of reasons why having a single point of temperature control isn’t always ideal. In some cases, rooms that are farther away from your unit may not get the same degree of air flow,
especially in older systems; if everything is controlled by a single thermostat located near the air intake then the rooms with lower air flow won’t get the air that they need to keep pace with the rest of the house. Similar problems can occur if you have a split system or zoned heating and cooling. It may be a cool 68 in your living room, but rooms that are served by other system components could be staying in the 70s or higher.
You Need a Multi-Room Thermostat
Regardless of the reason, if your thermostat isn’t able to consistently heat or cool your entire home then it’s not going to be nearly as efficient as you’d like. That’s where a multi-room thermostat system comes in handy. These thermostats have additional sensors that you can mount in other rooms around the house. These sensors take additional temperature readings and broadcast the data back to the thermostat. The thermostat takes this additional data and adjusts the way it heats and cools your home with a focus on maintaining the entire home’s temperature instead of just the room where the thermostat’s located.
Because the thermostat has information from all over your house, the amount of warm or cool air
circulated into each room is adjusted based on the home’s actual needs. This gives a greater amount of control over the internal temperature of the house, preventing warm and cool spots. It also ensures that adjustments made when you’re not in certain rooms or when you leave the house are optimized to save you the most money on your heating and cooling costs.
Taking Control of your Home Climate
There are a number of models of multi-room thermostats that you can choose from. The initial
installation shouldn’t be any more complicated than any other thermostat replacement, as the majority of multi-room units use wireless technology to communicate with the central thermostat. Since you don’t have to directly wire the satellite sensors you have a lot of freedom in where you place them without having to drill holes and run wires through your walls.
Once the thermostat is installed and all the sensors are in place, all that’s left is to sync the sensors with the central thermostat. How you do this may differ depending on the make and model of thermostat you choose, but each model should have detailed instructions on how to connect the units together. Once everything’s connected, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the controlled climate.
Need Another Opinion?
While most smart thermostats are designed to be a DIY installation, setting up a multi-room thermostat unit isn’t always easy. Whether it’s a result of confusing installation instructions or you simply don’t have the time to spare, you might find yourself wanting to call in a home automation professional to get the job done. That’s where you’re in luck: HomeKeepr’s recommendations are based on genuine referrals instead of inaccurate reviews, so you can trust that the pro you choose will be the best one for the job. Check it out now and get your new thermostat up and running in no time.
The search for natural, organic and sustainable materials has its strong effect upon the manufacture of materials, textures, and colors that contemporary designers use to compose our homes. This trend has its impact on all aspects of life. It allows traditions and unique techniques to be preserved and brings unique beauty into any decor composition.
Image credit: https://www.novamobili.it/
The demise of digitally printed fabrics in favor of real embroidery, thick wool bouclés, linens, and all other nature and craft inspired elements introduce into the modern decor arrangements is something to rejoice at. The unexpected and creative details like embossed wall coverings or the natural feel of cork and bamboo wall paneling and papers. They give the surfaces a beautiful tactile sensation to modern ambiances.
Image credit: FILD
Image credit: Naturehumaine
A great project composed by wooden volumes which offer multi functional and hybrid distribution of living space, which includes a home, office, and gym all in one. The main focus of creating a shared living space in which all utilitarian functions are shared but still allows each person to have privacy. The designer from nature humane created three pockets of double height space.
An office and dining area occupy the tall spaces while the center is used for exercise. The central wooden block gives different services; including stairways, a shower room and part of the kitchen. Dynamic and pure home composition with unusual angles and natural materials palette.
This tiny 16 sqm. Parisian apartment is turned into a highly effective and stylish home-work-studio for two Italian architects – Enrico Bona and Elisa Nobile.
This beautiful design project by i29 interior architects is based on using simple materials by selecting materials such as fresh oak wood, white plastered walls, dark blue and black furniture pieces, and light gray floors. It creates a clean, linear and cohesive environment in which modern lifestyle activities can unfold with ease.
Because of modern lifestyle requirements, architects and designers are challenged with more complex spatial distribution, aiming to reflect the client’s demands. The traditional separation of common areas, rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms no longer works for modern homes. The designers are presented with an interesting challenge to combine work with pleasure and relaxation and to merge the private life of the home’s inhabitants with more public and open programs, generating exciting mixed-use spaces. Hybrid homes is now considered the new normal.
Image credit: Milieu Property
Another long lasting trend in modern home design is the integrated living space: kitchen and sitting area- which will allow people to prepare food while socializing. An open floor plan of kitchen, dining and living zones has always been a "must" when Socializing while cooking. Having an open display of the kitchen and living area also may be helpful for young families that need to watch out for their kids while preparing food.
The new search for healthier and more dynamic lifestyle form healthy food consummation to mobility during office hours, that is another significant trend of the feature, it also makes the employers and office designers to integrate fitness items into the traditional work environment.
Bedrooms are a perfect space to add some luxury and decadent glamour -velvet, sparkling metal details, marble and other luxurious materials are very popular in the bedrooms design. If you like the oblong shapes, bright colors and disco sparkle of the 70’s and 80’s don't hesitate to introduce them into the living rooms design. The heavy textile, draperies, velvet textures and canopy beds have their Renaissance in the bedrooms’ settings of the future.
Check out this living kitchen design trend for 2020/2021. Image credit to Truly Truly
The project by Studio Truly Truly is composed by open hub-like construction of “living kitchen” designated by bright yellow, metro tiles surfaces and columns, surrounding the stainless-steel volumes. This stylish home hart is arranged in the middle of a practical sequence of living premises: comfy sitting zone, cheerful dining area and modern-minimalism for working office space. Trendy design furniture elements compose the fittings in the working zone by Grohe, the freestanding kitchen by Alpes Inox and the agile transforming kitchen table that also becomes counter or a bench according to the need of the inhabitants.
Hide it if you can. In this exhibition project for Living Kitchen we can observe two important tendencies of modern home design: first – most definitely the kitchen becomes the center of the home; situated midst open social areas – because modern people like to combine the preparation and consumption of food with social and family-time activities. And second: the agile, movable and tidy furniture elements become essential for kitchen areas. If you can use sliding doors, hidden movable constructs to achieve a tidy and clear-lined kitchen design, why not?
Here we have one magnificent example of the second trend – functional, linear storage construct that provides many uses, including general storage, a TV cabinet, and a custom-designed kitchen all of which can be concealed behind two sliding panels.
Commuting — one simple word that elicits images of mornings and evenings spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic and feelings of frustration. What if you could reduce some of that unnecessary stress and have more time for what’s really important in life? Our new Commute Time Filter is designed to allow you to make a more informed decision about where to live by giving you a holistic view of your drive time.
What makes the realtor.com Commute Time Filter unique is how you can toggle between rush hour and off-peak commute times. And just as you can adjust the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your search, you can also experiment with commute times by selecting anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes or more.
The new filter was created in response to feedback from our users who told us that they would prioritize living closer to work to save their sanity. In fact, 85 percent of the more than 600 people who responded to our survey indicated that they would compromise various home features, including lot size, square footage, and style of the home to reduce their commute time. Moreover, 40 percent of the respondents are looking to reduce their commute time by up to 45 minutes.
Suppose you are looking for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Austin, Texas’ Montopolis neighborhood, and you would strongly prefer to have a drive time less than 20 minutes — with traffic. With the Commute Time Filter, you can input those preferences and all of the available listings that match your criteria will populate.
Our goal at realtor.com is to make home buying easier and more rewarding. The Commute Time Filter helps to answer the question, “Just how long will I be sitting in traffic?” It offers one more tool to simplify your decision-making process and find a home tailored to your unique needs.
The realtor.com Commute Time Filter is available on iOS and will soon be expanding to our Android app, as well as Web and Mobile Web.
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Over the last three years, realtor.com has been a proud sponsor of the Golden State Warriors. Alongside nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena, we’ve created incredible memories: cheering on the team as they’ve won NBA championships, surprising fans with upgraded “prime real estate” seats and other giveaways, and partnering with players to share what home court means to them in a digital series called My Home Court, among other highlights. And while the NBA postseason may be over, the Warriors have much to celebrate as they close a 47-season history at Oracle Arena and prepare for their new home, Chase Center, in San Francisco’s Mission Bay.
What began as a project with 12 cranes in January 2017, Chase Center is nearing completion as the new home court for the Dub Nation. Vice President of Construction and Development, Peter Bryan, recently gave us an exclusive look at the latest construction updates.
The 11-acre sports and entertainment center was designed with fans at the heart, featuring elements such as interactive installations, best-in-class technology and WiFi (because being able to share your courtside Instagram Story or Facebook Live is important!), a wide range of dining options both inside and outside of the arena showcasing the Bay Area food scene, and much more to be unveiled at its grand opening.
One design feature that is already a key identifying factor of Chase Center is what the Warriors refer to as the Gatehouse. Sitting on the fourth side of Chase Center’s main plaza, it’s an architectural element to enclose the plaza and create an intimate environment for guests. It includes two retail units and stadium seating for 250 guests to enjoy various activities like movie nights or ice skating during the holiday season, all inside the plaza.
At realtor.com, we know moving into a new home is an exciting time and many of the Warriors players have shared in that excitement. During a press conference discussing Chase Center, Warriors superstar Forward Draymond Green said, “It’s the start of some great things.” And while touring the facilities on a site visit, reflected on the journey the team has been on awaiting the completion of the project. Admitting that it gave him the chills, Green shared, “To walk through it and see some of the things they’re doing is spectacular and I’m looking forward to playing here.”
With less than 100 days to go until Chase Center’s completion, final touches are being executed. On Sept. 6, 2019, the arena will have its grand opening hosting a concert for Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony. And what the Dub Nation will surely be most excited about is the Warriors first preseason game on Oct. 5, 2019 at Chase Center. At realtor.com, home is everything. We’ll be ready and waiting. Go Dubs!
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Whether you’re hanging a picture or mounting a television, anything that goes on your wall needs something to anchor it in place. If there’s a stud in the wall that you can attach it to then you’re fine; you’ve got well-supported wood to drive a screw into which will hold whatever you’re mounting in place. If you can’t find a stud where you need one, though, you could have a problem. That’s where drywall anchors come in.
What Is a Drywall Anchor?
Drywall anchors are small pieces that are slightly larger than the screws you’re using on a project. Depending on the type of anchor you’re using it might be made of plastic or metal, with small fins sticking out from the outside of the anchor body and a hole in the middle that runs the length of the anchor. The anchors go into the wall, then your screw goes into the hole. As you screw it in, the screw digs into the anchor body in much the same way it would with wood to ensure that the screw won’t slip out.
Anchors are designed to provide a tight fit for your screws. As the screw goes in, the anchor is forced to spread out and open up a bit. This pushes the body of the anchor against the sides of the hole you put it in, causing those little fins to dig into the surrounding drywall. The fins are positioned to go in easy but resist coming out, giving you a solid mounting even though there isn’t any wood or other solid material for your screws to secure to.
There are multiple types of drywall anchors. Choosing the right one for the job you’re working on helps to reduce unnecessary damage to your drywall and ensures that the mounting is strong enough for the load it needs to bear. To ensure that you have the right drywall anchor for what you need to support, try to get an estimate of the weight of the load and check the packaging of different drywall anchors to find an anchor that can hold that much weight.
If you have a relatively light load, you’ll probably need a plastic anchor. The most common of these are known as expansion anchors and are essentially plastic sleeves that you hammer into a drilled hole and that simply spread out as you insert a screw. There are also threaded plastic anchors that look like oversized screws; they work similarly, except you screw them into place instead of hammering them. Regardless of the type of plastic anchor you use, the purpose is still to dig into the drywall and hold a screw in place.
For heavier loads you’ll likely wind up with a metal anchor. Though you may see some threaded metal anchors, the most common metal anchors are known as molly bolts and feature a metal sleeve with a screw already inserted into them. You hammer these into place as you would with an expansion anchor, then remove the screw. Once you’re ready to mount you place the screw back into the anchor and start tightening; this causes a portion of the metal sleeve to pull toward the screw, expanding metal arms on the other side of the drywall to create a much more secure fitting.
If you have an even heavier load, you’ll need to use a toggle bolt instead. These anchors consist of a metal bolt with foldable metal wings that the bolt screws into. You have to fold the wings so that they lie over the bolt, then insert them into a hole large enough that they can fit through to the other side. Once on the other side the wings will expand, preventing the bolt from coming back out. Make sure that there is a washer or something else that’s large enough to cover the hole, though, or the bolt head could slip through the hole and you’ll lose your toggle bolt into the wall.
When Drywall Anchors Fail
In most cases, if a drywall anchor fails then it simply wasn’t the right type of anchor for the job. Trying to use smaller or weaker anchors for heavier loads will often result in failure because they simply don’t achieve enough grip on the surrounding material to hold the load. In some cases, though, the drywall itself may be too weak or the anchor you use may have been intended for a different material. Be sure to match the anchor to the weight and the material to minimize your chances of anchor failure.
Are you still having problems finding the right drywall anchors to meet your needs? Don’t risk your photos or collectables… the HomeKeepr community is here to help with any issues you might have. Find the answers you need or locate a pro who can get everything secured safely in record time. Best of all, they all come recommended by other members of the community so you won’t have to worry about hard-to-trust reviews again!
Buying a home can be complicated and overwhelming, especially when you are a first-time homebuyer. To help you navigate the home-buying process, we relied on our new book, “The Essential First-Time Home Buyer’s Book”, to compile the 10 must-know, simple secrets that will help you get started and make the process easier along the way:
1. Create a needs versus wants list: Identifying what features are absolutely necessary and those that are nice to have will enable laser focus as you begin your home search. Write down the non-negotiable features your new home needs — the more specific, the better. If a home doesn’t have everything on the list, skip seeing it to avoid compromising. For any listing that does have all your must-haves, keep a record of it. During the open house, take notes and photos of the property so you can review them later when making a decision on which house has what you need and ultimately, is right for you.
2. Determine your buying power: Understanding how much house you can afford can give you a leg up when it comes to buying a new home. Using the realtor.com® Home Affordability Calculator, you can estimate approximately how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Next up, fine tune your needs list along with your price range with Price Perfect and you’ll have a good sense of the kind of home that is feasible.
3. Optimize expenses and save more: Saving cash for a down payment takes time. A good way to get started is to trim unnecessary spending. Find simple ways to save extra cash like skipping the extra coffee and saving that money in a dedicated account so you can watch your progress. If you struggle to save, automating the process can help. You can have your employer deposit some of your paycheck into a savings account or have your bank automatically deposit money into your savings account.
4. Interview several real estate agents: It’s wise to connect with several agents before deciding who you’ll work with on your home-buying journey. Find out how long the agent has worked in real estate in the area. Ask if the agent works alone or with a team, and what their schedule is like over the coming months as you potentially work together.
5. Work with a local agent: Leverage a local real estate agent who has the experience, negotiating chops, a large network, and local knowledge to help get you through the process to close on the right home for you.
6. Maintain your negotiating position: Remember that what you say in ear-shot of the seller or listing agent can have a significant impact on how they receive your offer. While the home search can be a very long process, keeping your composure is imperative as an over-enthusiastic potential buyer can wind up overpaying. On the flip side, harsh criticism of the home can come across offensively. Avoid statements such as:
“This is my dream house!”
“That couch is hideous!”
“I can afford to spend this much.”
“I can’t wait to get rid of that.”
“Why are you selling?”
“You’ll never get that price.”
7. Make an informed offer: Negotiating can be tricky. Discuss the following aspects of your offer with your agent so that you have a complete understanding of the financial implications before you sign a contract:
Market price: Your agent can help you determine an offer price based on your budget, market dynamics, and comparable homes in the area.
Earnest money deposit: Placing a portion of the purchase price in an escrow account can demonstrate to the seller that you are serious. Just make sure to discuss the scenarios that could cause you to lose this deposit.
Contingencies: These are provisions that can allow you to get out of your contract without losing your deposit under certain circumstances, such as passing a home inspection or appraisal, or securing a loan. With your agent, review how these provisions can protect a buyer’s interests and what impact they can have on a sale.
8. Asses the home with an appraisal: If you’ve applied for a mortgage, your home-to-be still has to undergo a home appraisal. An appraiser will estimate the home’s value based on home condition, location, square footage, and renovations. If the appraisal comes in lower than what you have offered, you have options. Some of these may include:
Appealing the appraisal: Keep in mind that an appeal can extend the process by a few weeks.
Get a second appraisal: This is an added cost and can also extend the process.
Negotiate with the seller: Sometimes a seller will lower the price or help in other ways.
Walk away: You’ll likely lose the money already paid for inspections and/or appraisals, and your earnest money deposit may be at risk if you don’t have an appraisal or a financing contingency in your contract.
9. Follow your home inspector’s checklist: Your inspector should be trained to check your soon-to-be home for any issues. Join your inspector during the inspection to ask questions and find out any hidden details of the home. If any issues arise, the inspector can recommend necessary steps to fix them. The home inspection should vet several features and infrastructural components such as:
Roofing and structural problems
Mechanical and electrical troubles
Overall home condition, functionality (i.e. windows, doors, vents, lights, fans), and safety (i.e. mold, hazards, faulty smoke detectors)
10. Wait until the sale is final: Don’t break the deal! The sale is not final until you sign all of the paperwork and get the keys. Anything you do before closing has the potential to impact the sale. Most states do not have in-person closing meetings anymore, however, if you do wind up in an in-person closing meeting, it’s advantageous to avoid voicing these possible deal-breakers:
“I can’t wait to get all the new furniture we bought.”
“I can’t wait to gut the house.”
“Could you remove that swing set from the backyard?”
Buying a home for the first time is a long, yet rewarding process. Preparing for that journey is one that not only requires a financial commitment, but also time invested in identifying what kind of home could be the best fit for you and selecting the right real estate professional to guide you along the way. With these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for what to expect.
In addition to the “The Essential First-Time Home Buyer’s Book,” realtor.com offers a number of resources for first-time home-buyers in our resource center.
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Sometimes it’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill. Other times, like when your driveway is starting to show some wear, you might instead try to make a crack out of a canyon. It’s not that you don’t want to make a driveway repair, but often it’s hard to know when the time is just right. So, how can a homeowner know for sure?
Wear and Tear on a Driveway is Normal
It’s not unusual to see a few small cracks or pits in the surface of your driveway as it ages. Asphalt, especially, pits, cracks, heaves, alligators and buckles. Cement, on the other hand, mostly just cracks. Other types, like specialty driveways made from bricks or pavers are best to always be assessed by a professional, so it might not be a bad idea to have one out yearly.
For the rest, you can probably tell when it’s getting close to time to dress the drive up again.
But it’s not just a cosmetic improvement, repairing your driveway stabilizes the pavement or slab itself in many cases. Asphalt is much more plastic than cement, so unless the cracks are small in your cement drive, expect a big job.
Asphalt can often be restored from a sad shape, so long as most of the surface is intact and it’s not badly buckled.
When to Patch and Repair Asphalt Driveways
Choose a warm day when it’s going to be dry for a bit. Also, make sure you can move your vehicle elsewhere, either to the street or to a neighbor’s driveway for the next two days so the new sealant can dry. You should evaluate it yearly, but anticipate only really needing repairs every three to five if you’re dedicated to preventing water damage to the surface with proper use of gutters and other precipitation diverters.
Between resealing, patches and repairs, scrub the surface regularly with mild dish soap and warm water to help keep your driveway at its best. It should look slick and black and maybe even a little bit shiny. When it starts to look more dried out, keep an eye out for other changes or plan to reseal it in the very near future. A nice black driveway always looks its best, anyway.
Repairing and Patching Cement Driveways
Cement driveways are a bit of a different story. Some cracks can be sealed by a homeowner with simple tools, others cannot. It’s not always clear how extensive the damage is when you’re experiencing extensive cracking or have areas that are no longer flush with the rest of the surface, so this is definitely a job for an experienced handyman or driveway expert.
There are several interesting new technologies that are being used to lift cement pads back into place with materials like polyurethane foam. It’s really something to see! Although not available everywhere, the technology can salvage some driveways that would otherwise have to be busted out, hauled off and repoured, a process that can be a real headache.
You can clean your cement driveway with a power washer if you know how to use one very delicately so that you don’t remove the thin surface coat. Otherwise a driveway brush, mild detergent and a hose will do the trick for regular cleanings.
When in Doubt, Call a Pro
There are a lot of parts of your property that leave lots of room for error. Your driveway isn’t one of them. If you have any doubts about your ability to evaluate, repair, replace or even handle the materials required to do so, call in a pro. But where do you find one?
Just check your HomeKeepr community! Your Realtor already knows the best companies in town for your driveway type and can recommend them to you with a click of a button. Your HomeKeepr community always has your back, often from your back pocket!
Confidence and security come from inexpensive driveway inspections, and HomeKeeper is the best place in town to find the team for the job.
The Realty Group ·
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My name is Teresa Grant. I am the co-founder of the Keller Williams Franchise with over 100 Realtors serving Central Virginia. My personal team, The Realty Group Team of KW consist of 6 well seasoned and trained Realtors serving Lynchburg Metro/Forest, Roanoke/Daleville and Smith Mountain Lake. I am a Certified Keller Williams Luxury agent and will work diligently to market your property through my network of agent consultants who have unsurpassed skills, education, values and technology. My team and I work with buyers as well as sellers, which sets us apart from agents who focus on only one field of expertise. I feel you have to understand a buyer's needs and desires to properly prepare a home for today's market. I would be honored to help your family find their perfect home. I have great listening skills and my specialty is finding the right home to meet your family's needs. I bring over 20 years sales experience as a leading sales representative, sales educator & vice president of a national corporation. My knowledge of the communities, market trends, and home values of Central Virginia set my team apart from the rest with a special touch for buyers and sellers alike!
I have partnered with like-minded REALTORS to work together as, The Realty Group Team, to provide exceptional leading real estate service to Central VA! As a high energy, enthusiastic team, The Realty Group Team provides individualized customer service to their clients. Proud to represent award winning builders, new ground breaking communities in Forest, Lynchburg, Smith Mountain Lake, Roanoke, Daleville, Amherst, and the surrounding counties of Central Virginia. The Realty Group is everywhere you want to be!