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Posted by Maryann Clancy on 4/19/2019

Today’s home buyers see hundreds if not thousands of real estate photos when they’re in the market. Odds are that they’ll eliminate a number of homes from their search before ever even setting foot in them.

As you can imagine, that makes your home listing’s photographs all the more important to securing solid leads on your house.

In spite of the importance of photographs, a number of sellers get them wrong. To ensure that your home listing’s photos make a great first impression, we’re going to take a look at some of the common mistakes to avoid in your listing photography.

1. Not taking enough photos

In the age of digital photography, you can never take too many pictures. Experiment with different lighting, setups, and angles, and don’t be afraid to take as many photos as necessary to get the shots you want.

2. Going overboard with the uploads

It might be tempting to upload all of the pictures you took of your home, but it could hurt your overall presentation. Sort carefully through your pictures and pick one or two photos that best showcase each room and another one to three photos of the home’s exterior and land.

Visitors to your listing will get bored and click away if you have a slideshow with hundreds of images. Make it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for by limiting the number of total photos of your home.

3. Avoid close-ups

Your home should be spotlessly clean and tidy when taking photos. However, that doesn’t mean you need to get up close to each object in your home to take photos. Try to take wide shots that make your home feel spacious and welcoming.

4. Look out for mirrors and reflections and other distractions

If there’s one way to ruin an otherwise serene photo of your home, it’s when you spot the photographer accidentally showing up in the shot. Plan your angles so that you don’t get any flashes, glare, or reflections in your photographs.

And, while we’re on the topic of distractions, it’s a good idea to take your pets out of the room before your start shooting. Remember, potential home buyers don’t love your dog or cat like you do.

5. Don’t settle with your first shots

The different (or lack) of lighting your home receives throughout the day can make or break your photos. Try taking photos of your home at midday, when there are the least amount of shadows. Then, shoot some photos at golden hour (just before the sun sets) to capture warm tones. Finally, right after dusk, turn the lights on in your home and take some shots from outside. These photos give the illusion of a warm, cozy place where the light is always on.





Posted by Maryann Clancy on 4/12/2019

Hosting an evening of activities is a great way to spend time with and engage your friends, family, and community. A fun game-night can quickly become a new ritual for your neighborhood family and help you develop and maintain friendships. Whether it’s your first time hosting a game night or your 50th, here are some key steps to making it a success.

Have plenty of options.

The one tricky part about game nights is picking a game that everyone likes. Especially if you don't know everyone you've invited well, it's hard to select a game ahead of time. Everyone loves something different, some people prefer trivia-based games, while others like role-playing games, still others want to stick to the classics or strategy games. While some board games and electronic games are expensive, there are plenty of ways to collect enough games to have a good variety, without breaking the bank.

  • Always have a deck of cards, or two, or three. So many games can be plaid with a simple and inexpensive deck of cards. Having a few decks on-hand immediately opens up your options. Consider looking up a few classics like Gin Rummy, Bridge, Spades, poker (Texas Hold’Em or Five Card Draw) or Cribbage and having the directions on hand.
  • Invest in the classics (or the modern version). Scrabble, Dominos, Pictionary or a combination game like Cranium are great games that most people already know how to play, and easy to learn for any inexperienced players.
  • Find games you can explain easily. You might love RPG and strategy games, but these might not be the best option for new neighbors you’re just getting to know. Save these for when your game night has become established, and you've learned what level of games your group can best play. Start with simple and easy to learn games playable while socializing. Remember, the games are fun, but their value is as a tool to help you engage with your community.
  • Invite participation. Invite your guests to bring their own games. Don't insist on playing something you own, or on selecting a specific game for each night. Invite all your neighbors and friends to bring their favorite games and decide as a group what to play.
  • Own some kid-friendly games. Even if you plan to only play games with adults, have options for kids to play as well. Maybe your kids are home, or your neighbor couldn’t get a sitter but would still love to come to game night. Prevent exclusion by providing fun ways to keep the kids and parents entertained. Simple toys for young ones and a selection of appropriate interactive video games can go a long way to making your night.

Plan for flexibility.

A significant reason for having different games on hand is to allow for flexibility in numbers and ability. Not everyone you invite to your game night is going to attend. Don't ask a specific number of people with a particular game in mind. Invite everyone who you think you'd enjoy playing with or who you want to get to know. Perhaps have an idea in mind of different games you can play with varying numbers of people. Also consider making a backup plan for having multiple game boards going if everyone you invite shows up, or for keeping the game night fun and entertaining if you have a less than stellar turn out the first time.

No last minute invites.

Don't wait up until the last minute to invite your friends and neighbors. People have their own lives. Between work, kids and activities it's hard to commit to a last-minute invitation. Give folks a couple of weeks-notice that you'd like to have a game night and give them time to make any necessary arrangements. Once you have a couple of successful nights, you can establish a monthly or biweekly night that people can incorporate into their ongoing planning.

Supply refreshments but ask for help.

You should always provide refreshments and snacks, but a great way to engage your neighbors is to ask for help. Make sure you have enough food to offer, just in case, but invite people to bring a dish or beverage or anything they’d like to share. As much as you enjoy hosting, your neighbors like contributing and showing off their best recipe or introducing you to their favorite new coffee or beer. Invite them to find their own way to engage while using your get together as a platform.

Be a good host.

The group you invite to your game night will be composed of outgoing people, shy people, people who already know each other and total strangers. Be a good host by acting and engaging first. If no one wants to go first at charades, get up there and show them that it's okay (and even fun!) to succeed or fail, to make a fool of yourself and laugh it off or act out the perfect clues. To start the ball rolling, you want to make the first move. Just getting people over to your house and supplying games isn't enough, take the stage and open the floor to engagement.




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Posted by Maryann Clancy on 4/5/2019

You want to buy a house, but you know that you need to save as much money as possible for a down payment. Although you've tried to save money in the past, your best efforts have failed to help you collect the funds that you'll need to make a down payment on your dream residence.

Let's face it – saving for a home can be difficult. Fortunately, we're here to offer creative ways to help you get the money that you'll need to make your homeownership dream come true.

Now, let's take a look at three creative ways to save for a down payment on a house.

1. Start a Friendly Competition

Competition often brings out the best in homebuyers. Much in the same vein, you and your friends may be able to compete against one another to see who can save the most money for a down payment on a home.

If you and your friends intend to buy a home together or separately, a friendly competition can make a world of difference in getting the required funds for a down payment. In fact, you can even award the winner of this competition with an "Ultimate Saver" trophy or other fun prizes.

Ultimately, a friendly competition is a great way to have fun with friends and save money for a down payment on a house at the same time. Regardless of who wins the competition, you'll notice that your down payment savings will increase, moving you one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.

2. Use a Rewards System

Saving for a down payment on a home may seem like a long, arduous process. However, if you build rewards into your day-to-day savings efforts, you can earn incentives as you reach various milestones.

For instance, you may want to reward yourself with a special dinner every time that you reach a savings milestone. Or, you can always celebrate hitting a savings milestone with a trip to the dog park with your puppy.

3. Trim the Fat from Your Budget

It sometimes can be tough to remove cable TV, takeout meals and other excess items from your budget. But if you consider the long-term benefits of these short-term sacrifices, you may be better equipped than ever before to save significant funds for a down payment on a home.

Look closely at your daily, weekly and monthly budgets. Then, you can determine which budget items are essential and which are not and trim the fat from your budget accordingly. This will allow you to speed up the process of saving for a down payment on a house and ensure that you can achieve your homeownership dream faster than ever before.

Lastly, as you prepare to explore available homes, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent for extra help. By hiring a real estate agent, you can get the assistance that you need to discover a great house that falls within your price range.





Posted by Maryann Clancy on 3/29/2019

Believe it or not, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can be quick and simple, even for a first-time homebuyer. In fact, here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer streamline the process of receiving pre-approval for a mortgage:

1. Meet with Several Lenders

Many mortgage lenders are available in cities and towns nationwide. Meanwhile, these mortgage experts are happy to teach first-time homebuyers about assorted mortgage options and help them get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Set up face-to-face meetings with various lenders in your area. That way, a first-time homebuyer can gain unparalleled insights into a wide range of mortgage options.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions during meetings with banks and credit unions. Mortgage lenders possess comprehensive mortgage expertise, and as such, a first-time homebuyer can rely on these mortgage professionals to receive the support that he or she needs to make an informed decision.

2. Understand Your Credit Score

Do you know your credit score? Ultimately, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may dictate his or her ability to obtain the ideal mortgage.

An individual can request a free copy of his or her credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) once a year. This report may prove to be exceedingly valuable, as it can help a homebuyer identify opportunities to improve his or her credit score before a mortgage application is submitted.

Also, if you identify errors in your credit report, it is paramount to contact the agency that provided the report immediately. This will allow you to correct any potential errors quickly and ensure that they won't affect your ability to get the best possible mortgage.

3. Consider Your Homebuying Budget

A first-time homebuyer may have lofty expectations prior to entering the real estate market. However, this individual should consider his or her finances before submitting a mortgage application.

With a budget in hand, a homebuyer can establish realistic expectations as he or she tries to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Plus, this homebuyer may be better equipped than others to obtain pre-approval for a mortgage and accelerate his or her search for the perfect residence.

Lastly, it may be worthwhile for a first-time homebuyer to meet with a real estate agent to learn more about assorted mortgage options.

A real estate agent understands the challenges associated with purchasing a house for the first time. As a result, this housing market professional can teach a homebuyer about all aspects of the property buying journey and help this buyer plan accordingly.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can set up home showings, keep a homebuyer up to date about new residences as they become available and negotiate with a home seller on a buyer's behalf. This housing market professional will even provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations to make it easy for a property buyer to acquire a top-notch residence at a budget-friendly price.

Move one step closer to purchasing your dream house – use the aforementioned tips, and a first-time homebuyer can speed up the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage.




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Posted by Maryann Clancy on 3/22/2019

How a home seller engages buyers is key. If a seller allocates the necessary time and resources to connect with buyers, he or she can boost the likelihood of enjoying a successful property selling experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you engage buyers and speed up the house selling journey.

1. Create an Effective Home Listing

An effective home listing can make a world of difference for any seller, at any time. Because if you can provide buyers with plenty of details about your home in your listing, you could make it easy for buyers to understand your house's full potential.

Typically, it is a good idea to write a clear, concise and simple-to-understand home listing. You should include accurate information about your home in your listing, and you should avoid stretching the truth.

You also may want to incorporate high-resolution images of your home into your listing. That way, homebuyers will know what to expect when they view your house in-person.

2. Upgrade Your Home's Curb Appeal

If your house boasts amazing curb appeal, buyers may be instantly attracted to your residence. And as a result, you may receive many buyer requests to view your house as soon as your residence becomes available.

To improve your house's curb appeal, you should mow the lawn, trim the hedges and perform other lawn care tasks. In addition, you should fix any cracked or chipped home siding.

You may want to hire lawn care and home improvement professionals, too. With these professionals at your side, you can quickly bolster your house's curb appeal.

3. Remover Clutter

If your home is filled with antiques, paintings and various knick-knacks, you may want to remove these items for the time being. In fact, if you have a clutter-free residence, buyers may fall in love with your house as soon as they walk through the front door.

Oftentimes, it helps to rent a storage unit before you list your home. If you have a storage unit, you can keep assorted personal belongings safe while you try to sell your house.

For those who want to eliminate excess items, you can list these items online or host a yard sale. You may want to consider donating any unwanted items to a charity or giving them to family members or friends as well.

Lastly, as you get set to add your house to the real estate market, it may be beneficial to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional knows what it takes to engage buyers. Thus, if you are searching for help as you craft a home listing, a real estate agent is happy to assist you. On the other hand, if you have any concerns or questions as you navigate the home selling journey, a real estate agent can instantly respond to them.

Engage buyers throughout the home selling journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you could reap the benefits of a fast, profitable house selling experience.




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