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Karen Miglin

REALTOR® / Sales Associate (908) 347-9118

Karen Miglin

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Budget Friendly Home Staging

(Published on - 4/12/2019 12:04:21 PM)

UPDATED  

It’s nothing new that home staging is a wise move. After all, it has the potential to increase the final sales price of your home by 6 to 20 percent. But what you may not realize is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to do it. After all, who needs more expenses when you’re moving? If you’re short on cash but want to speed up your home sale and possibly increase that final dollar amount, here are some budget-friendly home staging tips.

Declutter

The first step to home staging is about as budget-friendly as you can get — because it’s free. Donate or trash items such as clothes, extra furniture, books and knick-knacks – anything that’s not being used or that you no longer need. Go through the pantry and donate canned goods to a local food drive. Sift through piles of random papers and shred and recycle what you don’t need.

Hold a pre-moving sale

Hold a garage sale to get rid of what you won’t be taking with you when you move. Not only will you declutter, you’ll also make some extra cash for other home upgrades. Don’t feel like doing a traditional yard sale? Download OfferUp or another buy-and-sell marketplace app to sell your items.

Borrow from friends

A good rule of thumb with home staging is to furnish and stage every room in your home so that no room is left empty. To save costs, you can borrow furniture from friends and family, or you could split up the furniture in other rooms of your home to round out the less furnished rooms. Borrow the treadmill your sister no longer uses and the weight lifting bench in the garage to transform an empty bedroom into a home gym, or add a desk and cabinet to your guest room to help buyers envision both a guest room or home office in that space.

Consider portable storage

After getting rid of the items you no longer want, it’s time to empty your home of excess furniture items, quirky art, and any personal items that may be distracting to buyers. A portable storage container is a popular cost-effective option because it conveniently combines moving and storage.

Here’s how it works: A driver delivers your storage container to your home to fill at your leisure. Once you’ve loaded the items you’re storing, the driver picks up the container and takes it to a nearby storage facility. When your home is sold, have your container re-delivered to your door, fill it with the rest of your stuff, and ta-da! You’re all ready to move. Some portable storage providers can move your container long-distance. For instance, PODS can move your container to your new home even if it’s across the country, in Hawaii, or in some parts of Canada. A solution such as this that combines moving and storage can help reduce the costs of moving by eliminating the need to rent a storage unit or moving trucks multiple times. Moving long-distance with a container can also be significantly less expensive than using a traditional full-service moving company.

Grab your paint brush

Want to transform your home cheaply? Painting gives you the best bang for your buck if you if you’re looking to give your place a makeover. Light, neutral colors are great for staging. If you’re really tight on cash, opt for touch-ups or pick key walls in high-traffic areas to repaint.

Make tiny upgrades that make a big difference

Make your home feel fresh and new on the cheap with some inexpensive updates to hardware, lighting, and faucets. Even new outlet plate covers, vent covers, and kitchen cabinet hardware can give your place a facelift. You don’t even need to buy anything fancy – just shiny and new.

Decorate on a budget

Some simple décor updates can have a surprisingly effective impact on the way buyers view your home. Replace your old, boldly colored shower curtain with a cheap but tasteful curtain. Cover up stained or old couches and chairs with affordable slipcovers. Add some homey cushions to the living room. Just remember to keep things neutral – it’s not the time to express your unique personality! Save that for your new home.

While redoing your flooring or putting in new kitchen cabinets would be ideal, it doesn’t have to take much money to give your home a makeover and make it appealing to buyers. With a little time and creativity, you can turn your soon-to-be-sold home into a beautiful space and have some fun while you’re at it. Good luck with your move!

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. The point of view and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Realty Executives International. This guest post was written by PODS®. PODS® makes moving and storage more convenient and less stressful through its innovative solution of delivering a level container and providing the customer all the time they need to load and unload their container.

Financing Basics for First Time Home Buyers

(Published on - 4/3/2019 2:06:49 PM)

UPDATED  

The world of mortgage financing can be a little overwhelming for first-time home buyers.  

The good news is that there are professionals to guide you through the process of qualifying for a home loan. Lenders are happy to educate buyers on the different mortgage options. You just need to know a few basics so you can have a productive conversation with your lender.   

Here are finance basics for first-time buyers:

What’s included in my mortgage payment?

Your mortgage payment is more than just payments to repay the loan (that amount is called principal). Your mortgage payment also includes:

  • Interest
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance premiums
  • Any mortgage insurance premiums (if your down payment is less than 20%, you will need a mortgage insurance policy)

Lenders usually wrap all these expenses into one simple mortgage payment. It makes your life easier, and it assures the lender that your taxes and insurance are kept current.  

How do I qualify for a home loan?

Qualifying for a home loan might be easier than you think. You just need to prove to your lender that you’re able to repay the loan.  

Requirements vary slightly from one lender to the next, but here are the general home loan requirements:

  • A down payment. You’ll need to pay a percentage of the purchase price upfront. Twenty percent is the old standard, but most first time buyers are qualifying for FHA Loans with as little as 3.5% down.
  • Fairly good credit. Aim for a minimum credit score of 620. But if you have at least a 580, you could still qualify for an FHA Loan.
  • Enough income to comfortably cover the mortgage payment. Lenders like to see your total mortgage payment stay under 28% of your gross income. And they like to see the mortgage plus all your other debts stay around 35% (or less) of your gross income.

To meet these requirements, you’ll need to provide financial documents like pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns.

Do I need to be pre-approved before starting my home search?

Sorting out your financing is actually step one in the house hunting process. There’s no point in spending weeks or months searching for a home if you don’t qualify for a mortgage loan. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you understand how much of a loan you can qualify for so you know what price ranges to explore.

Plus, when you’re ready to make an offer on a home, your offer will be stronger if you’re pre-approved. The sellers will be able to accept your offer, knowing that you’ll be able to secure financing to close the deal.

It only takes minutes to get pre-approved online, and it will help your house hunting process go more smoothly.

What is the importance of interest rates?

Interest rates have an enormous impact on your mortgage loan. Lower interest rates mean your monthly payment will be lower, and you’ll pay less over the term of the loan.

Here’s how to get a low interest rate:

  • Get your credit score up. First, check your report for simple mistakes and contact the credit bureaus to correct them. Then, if you have negative marks on your credit report, contact those lenders to see what you can do to remove those marks.
  • Put more money down. A bigger down payment means a lower interest rate.
  • Take a shorter loan term. A 15-year loan will have a lower interest rate than a 30-year loan.
  • Shop around. Lenders offer different rates, so be sure to compare multiple lenders before making your final decision.

Financing your home doesn’t have to be difficult. Lenders are happy to explain the different finance options available to first-time buyers. So don’t hesitate to reach out to a lender and start the conversation today.

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. This post was written by Michelle Clardie. Michelle is a professional real estate blogger, specializing in ghostwriting Realtor® blogs. Her engaging content helps real estate agents become more visible online, generate more qualified leads, and increase their revenues. You can learn more at www.michelleclardie.com.


Five Common Home Buyer Misconceptions

(Published on - 4/3/2019 2:04:19 PM)

UPDATED  

 

Buying a home is probably a lot more manageable than you think. Somewhere along the line, these crazy misconceptions have crept into the home buying conversation and made the dream of home ownership seem less attainable.  

It’s time to set the record straight. Here are five common homebuyer misconceptions and the truth about each:

1. You need to save 20 percent for the down payment before you can buy a home.

There are several ways to buy a home without a 20 percent down payment!

FHA loans are the most popular option. They allow you to buy a home with as little as 3.5 percent down.  There are also zero percent down options for special cases, like military personnel (active or veteran) or rural properties. Simply contact a lender to discuss your options. You may be closer to home ownership than you think!

Quick side note: you should also understand that your down payment won’t be your only home buying expense. You’ll need money to pay for closing costs (typically 2-5 percent of the purchase price). And you should have a little money set aside to make any urgent renovations or necessary upgrades.

2. Now isn’t a good time to buy because interest rates are rising.

The interest rate on your mortgage is a significant factor in your monthly payment and in the total amount you pay over the term of your loan. Interest rates are on the rise, which means the cost of having a mortgage is increasing. Many buyers mistakenly think they missed the boat on low interest rates.  

But did you know interest rates are still historically low? When you look at interest rates by decade, you’ll see rates between 7-12 percent in the ’70s, over 18 percent in the ’80s, and 7-9 percent in the ’90s. Today’s rates are only around 5 percent!

Contrary to the misconception, now is the perfect time to buy, before rates get higher.

3. You need to wait for the perfect home.

There isn’t always going to the perfect home. When buyers look for the perfect home, they typically end up frustrated and disappointed.

Instead of worrying about everything you need to make it perfect, focus on your priorities. What aspects of a home are most important to you?    

Location is always a good aspect to focus on first. You can change almost anything else about a home through renovations, remodeling, or even rebuilding, but you can’t change the location.

4. You don’t need to be pre-approved for a mortgage loan?

For most people, the first step in the home buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage.  Pre-approval confirms that you’re financially ready to buy. A lender will look over your financial information and tell you how much money you’re qualified to borrow for a mortgage. That way you’ll know exactly what price range to stay in when you start your house hunt.

To get pre-approved, simply contact a local lender (you can even compare interest rates for multiple lenders online!).

5. You can save money by cutting out the real estate agent.

Did you know that buyers don’t pay their real estate agents? The sellers pay all real estate agent fees. So if you’re a buyer, there’s no reason not to hire a real estate agent to give you professional representation in this important investment transaction.

Real estate agents have the inside scoop on the market, they’re expert negotiators, and they can smoothly guide you through the process (and the paperwork).

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring a real estate agent to represent you in buying your home.

Don’t let these common home buyer misconceptions delay your dream of home ownership! Qualifying for a loan and buying a home is within reach.

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. This post was written by Michelle Clardie. Michelle is a professional real estate blogger, specializing in ghostwriting Realtor® blogs. Her engaging content helps real estate agents become more visible online, generate more qualified leads, and increase their revenues. You can learn more at www.michelleclardie.com.


How To Keep Your Home Show Ready

(Published on - 4/1/2019 4:45:27 PM)

UPDATED  

To maximize your sale price, you need to make sure your house is available to buyers. Even when they want to visit at an inconvenient time with little notice.

Keeping your home show-ready around the clock can be stressful, but we have a few easy tips and tricks to make sure your house always shows its best (even on short notice).

Take care of the Deep Clean before the house hits the market

Before officially listing your house for sale, invest in a deep clean. Taking the time to thoroughly scrub the house before it hits the market will make it much easier to maintain day-to-day throughout the listing period.

And this deep clean goes beyond cleaning. Yes, you want every visible surface to shine, but there are a few more steps to take at this stage to make the house truly show-ready.  

Like decluttering and depersonalizing. Removing all the clutter helps the house to appear larger and more inviting. And removing personal items like family photos and unique collections will help potential buyers to feel more at home in the space. And the more at home they feel, the more likely they are to make an offer!

Squeeze in a quick straightening every morning

To maintain the show-readiness of your house, you just need to spend a little time straightening up each morning.

Stylish storage bins are the perfect tool to make this process quick and painless. Daily life clutter like toiletries, mail, and kids’ toys can be tossed in a bin and instantly hidden from sight.

After that, just run through the house quickly to make sure that:  

  1. Dishes and laundry are put away
  2. The beds are made
  3. Curtains and blinds are open to let in the light
  4. The house smells fresh
  5. Everything is generally in its place

Plan to be away from the house during showings

Buyers generally aren’t able to feel at home when the sellers are present. Give your potential buyers the freedom to relax in the house and imagine themselves living there by staying away from the house during showings.

This includes pets. Many people are afraid of animals. And many others have pet allergies. Even if your potential buyers love animals, your pets may actually hurt your prospects by distracting the buyers when they should be focusing on the house.

Create a plan to get everyone out of the house with little notice. Make a little “go bag” with everything you‘ll need to keep yourself, your kids and your pets away from home for a bit. Maybe do some shopping or enjoy some time at the park while the house is being shown.  

If you work away from home, you might want to make workday arrangements for kids and pets. Perhaps they could stay with family or go to daycare so you won’t have to leave work to round them up if there’s a short-notice showing.

Keeping your house show-ready 24/7 may require a little extra time and effort. But these tips will minimize the inconvenience and maximize selling potential. Plus any hassle will be worth it when your house fetches top dollar because it shows well!

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. This post was written by Michelle Clardie. Michelle is a professional real estate blogger, specializing in ghostwriting Realtor® blogs. Her engaging content helps real estate agents become more visible online, generate more qualified leads, and increase their revenues. You can learn more at www.michelleclardie.com.

 

 


Spring Cleaning Tips and Organization

(Published on - 4/1/2019 4:43:42 PM)

UPDATED  

Spring is finally here, and that means it’s time for spring cleaning!

Here are some spring cleaning and organization tips to help you feel motivated and refreshed at the start of a new season.

List Your Priorities

First thing’s first: you should make a list of your goals and priorities for your home this season. Do you have enough time for a thorough, deep cleaning of your home, or do you instead want to target specific areas and rooms? Do you have a lot of things you need to donate or throw away, or are you focusing more on getting organized? List your spring cleaning priorities in order of importance so you can tackle everything as needed.

Put Away Seasonal Items

Before you start cleaning your home, it can be helpful to first put away the things you don’t need for this season. Set aside all of the winter items in your home so you can organize them and put them away since you won’t be needing them this spring. By putting away seasonal items, you can visualize your home as it will look in the spring without seeing any of the clutter that winter decor and items may have caused.

Do a Once-over of Each Room

As you get ready to clean and organize, you can go through each room one by one, assessing what needs to be done. Chances are, some areas of your home are in need of more TLC than others. As you go through each area, you can throw away anything that you know is garbage, set aside the things you want to donate, and make a more specific note of what needs to be organized.

Clean Larger Appliances and Furniture

Cleaning larger appliances and furniture can often be tiresome and eventful, but you could feel a great sense of accomplishment after you tackle these time-consuming chores. Cleaning the fridge and stove, vacuuming under large items like the sofa and dining table, and giving bulky furniture pieces a good dusting can almost instantly breathe new life into your home. Bonus points if you dust your blinds and have your curtains washed!

Organize Your Fridge, Pantry, and Other Storage Areas

If you want to take spring cleaning as an opportunity to get organized, start with the areas of your home that you frequent the most: your fridge, pantry, and other storage areas. In your kitchen and bathroom, move the items that will spoil or expire sooner toward the front, along with anything you are frequently using. You can also purchase drawer or cabinet organizers so and label your shelves or storage bins to encourage you and your household to continue to keep organized. Organizing the areas you access most often may even inspire you to tackle the areas of your home that you may tend to forget about, or even the ones that may overwhelm you, like your closet.

Don’t Feel Pressured

Finally, don’t let the idea of spring cleaning cause you to feel pressured or overwhelmed. Cleaning and organizing your entire home can often be a stressful task, so it’s important to recognize when you need a break. If spring cleaning is overwhelming to you, tackle each area or item one by one, or recruit a friend to help you in the process. You can even get the whole family involved to make spring cleaning feel less like a chore that you are doing all on your own. Remember that you are in control of your home.

This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional advice. The point of view and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Realty Executives International. This post was written by Bailee Abell. Bailee Abell is a writer born and raised in California. A graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, she loves reading classic literature, sipping warm beverages, and visiting theme parks every chance she gets. Find her at baileeabell.com


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