When it comes to buying a home, practical decision-making and emotions are intimately connected. Buyers may be looking for a gourmet kitchen or a beautiful bath, but little luxurious touches can be enough to convey the enviable lifestyle they want. Contrary to what you may think, creating an upscale look doesn’t have to come at an upgraded cost. Consider adding some of these affordable luxury items to stage your lifestyle sale.
Bath bliss. Baths are major selling features for homes, so why not create a spa-like feel to sell yours? This can be achieved by upgrading to fancy towels and purchasing some designer bath salts to display. Prospective buyers will envision themselves in a relaxing retreat.
Bedroom beauty. Luxury linens in the bedroom can help you achieve the look of a four-star hotel without taking out a second mortgage. Add some mood lighting, candles and satin pillows, and you’ll be selling sweet dreams.
Kitchen couture. Displaying some gourmet items in your kitchen will be sure to whet the appetite of potential buyers. A new espresso machine or elegant wine decanters on the counter will be a recipe for top-notch entertainment and relaxation.
By doing a little bargain shopping, you can achieve the luxury look for less. Peruse websites like Overstock.com or discount stores like HomeGoods to get designer-label goods at lower prices. This small investment may pay big dividends when you sell your home.
If you’re looking to buy a home, you probably have a wish list. Your ideal property has a certain number of bedrooms and baths, and you may be looking for special features like a home office, pool or spacious backyard. However, finding a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle and needs is just as important as the home itself. Review these important considerations before taking the plunge.
Schools rule. If you’re looking to buy a family home, you’ll no doubt be concerned with the quality of your school district. But even if you don’t have school-age children, a well-rated school district always increases real estate value. By the same token, troubled school districts negatively affect home values, so you’ll want to choose carefully no matter what your circumstance.
Crime rates. A little investigating can unearth a lot of information about crime statistics in specific towns and neighborhoods. Make sure to do your homework before making a commitment.
Future plans. If you know the schools are good and the crime rates are low, don’t forget to research any changes that may be happening in the area. You can ask the town planning board about any upcoming projects, new businesses or other future developments that may impact your neighborhood down the road.
Convenience. You know the kind of lifestyle you want, and now is the time to make sure your neighborhood is a good fit. Do you want to be close to the action with great access to dining, shopping and cultural activities? Or do you want to sacrifice convenience for a more remote location with added privacy? Determine what is most important to you when analyzing your potential neighborhood.
Get to know the neighbors. For many people, the community is just as important as a home’s square footage or kitchen upgrades. If you will be raising a family, a neighborhood full of families that is close to recreational facilities may be most appealing to you. If you’re an empty-nester who values quiet, a community brimming with kids may not be as appealing.
Making a well-informed decision when choosing your community will yield happy results for years to come.
You’ve staged your home to perfection, and it’s ready to go on the market. Perhaps it looks so great that potential buyers will want your house — and everything inside it. Should you sell your home furnished? Here’s what to consider.
Attracting more buyers. While many people in the market for a new home have their own furniture, some may not. Perhaps it’s their first home and they’re starting from scratch, or their current furnishings just won’t work in the new space — either way they may want what you’ve already thoughtfully designed for the unique space. By offering your home furnished, you could simplify the purchase process and take the guess work out of decorating.
Making a faster sale. Homes that are decorated and staged will not only attract more views, but they will likely result in a faster sale. Potential buyers will be drawn to the finished look, and the fact that they will save on decorating costs is another thing for the “plus” column. Interested parties will bid quickly on a furnished home before someone else snags it.
Dollars and cents. Furnishings are always negotiable in a home sale and are a great way to bring buyers to the table. Including furniture may or may not result in a higher sale price, but it will give you leverage when you’re closing the deal. In addition, leaving your home without having to relocate bulky furniture will save on costly moving expenses. The bottom line: always be open to offering up some of your furnishings — if you can’t make a deal, you can just take it with you!
You’re ready with a down payment for your home, but you need to borrow at least $150,000 to complete the purchase. Your parents offered to lend you the money—should you accept it?
As generous as your parents’ offer is, the decision may not be as easy as it first appears. Yes, dealing with family instead of a stranger at a financial institution has its advantages, but it also carries its own set of disadvantages and risks.
There will still be interest
If family members—or anyone—lend you $150,000 without interest, they risk negative tax consequences from the IRS. An interest-free loan for such a large sum will likely subject them to pay gift tax on the amount. The amount that triggers the gift tax has varied a bit from year to year, but $14,000 was the limit for the 2015 tax year; $150,000 will certainly require interest. Today’s interest rates, still near historic lows, diminish the advantage of the rate your parents will likely offer.
You will still need paperwork
This deal should not be consummated only with a handshake or simple note. Once you agree on reasonable terms, including at least an interest rate and payback schedule, reduce it to a properly crafted document. This step protects your parents from the IRS misconstruing their loan as a gift, and it also protects you against your parents altering the agreement—maybe they’d like an extra payment this month to fund that beach vacation. You should consult an accountant and an attorney to draw up the appropriate documents.
Things could get awkward
A loan from your parents or any family member affects everyone in the family, and it could hurt relationships. Your siblings may worry that your parents are overextended or vulnerable financially after parting with such a large sum. Maybe they’ll be annoyed Mom and Dad didn’t extend a similar offer to them. There will be additional scrutiny on all your purchases, vacations and other financial decisions—you bought a boat instead paying back Mom and Dad?
Every family is different, so maybe borrowing that money from your parents will work out fine. Smaller loans, especially those that fall beneath the gift threshold, are certainly a safer bet and could go a long way toward increasing your down payment and maybe improving terms from a lender.
Before you finalize any borrowing decision, take the time to consult a lender. You’ll never know what products are available unless you ask.
Selling your home can be one of life’s most exciting — and most stressful — events. If you’ve closed the deal and are ready to move, it’s crucial to share your change of address with the important people and institutions you deal with. Refer to this handy list to learn whom to communicate with and why.
The postal service. Your first priority should be to notify the post office of your move. It is as simple as going to the USPS official website and filling out a change of address request form. You can even sign up for mail forwarding, a free service that will forward mail to your new address for up to one year.
Utility companies. It is imperative to cancel all services, such as electric, gas, oil, cable, phone and internet. Taking your name off of these various accounts as soon as you close on your house will avoid any potential misunderstanding or billing mistakes.
DMV. Changing your address with the Division of Motor Vehicles is another important item for your checklist. This will ensure not only proper billing and record keeping, but it will give you a current piece of identification.
Insurance companies. You will need to cancel your homeowner’s insurance policy, and you will need to change the address on your vehicle and life policies as soon as possible to ensure there is no interruption in billing that could compromise your coverage.
Doctors. Keep your family doctors, dentists and other service providers abreast of your new address and contact information so that may always be able to reach you and so you’ll avoid any billing problems.
Banks and credit card companies. By the same token, notify your bank and credit card companies about your new address. Protect your identity by keeping your address private and ensuring that sensitive documents follow you to your new home.
Subscriptions. Change your address on newspaper and magazine subscriptions, as well as any on-line shopping sites that you frequently use, to make sure that any deliveries come to the correct address.
Friends and family. Last by certainly not least, communicate with family and friends about your new address. It will show that you care about them, and it will ensure that you will keep in touch beyond your smart phone!