Real Estate Tips

Home Selling Tips: Increasing your Home’s Value

Before you take the big leap and sell your home, why not follow these tips to increase its value and, as a result, your revenue from the sale?

Small improvements go a long way

One of the biggest misconceptions in home improvement is that bigger renovations equal bigger return of investment. That is not always the case! Small improvements and minor replacements such as new window treatments, permanent lighting, and better faucets and hardware can increase your home’s total value.

Don’t forget the curb

Curb appeal helps grab the attention of potential homebuyers, so make sure to invest some time and money to freshen it up. Accentuate nice features like archways and walkways, and eliminate negative aspects. Remember: homebuyers are drawn to properties that look well-maintained and looked after.

Once you’re done with the improvements, make sure your listing’s photos are in full color, especially if you also sweetened up your home’s landscaping.

All about kitchens and bathrooms

If you really want to significantly increase the value of your home, concentrate on two important areas: the kitchen and the bathroom. If you’re going for a major upgrade, don’t forget to keep the overall look timeless to suit different tastes. This may also be a great time to invest in smart home technology and water-saving systems, making your home more efficient and eco-friendly.

Don’t add another room; finish the basement!

If you’ve got an unfinished basement, this may be the best time to finally finish it for good. This increases your home’s value, and is attractive among homebuyers. Turn it into an entertainment center, a man cave, a guest room – the choices are endless.

Hire a certified home inspector

To make better, informed decisions, it’s best to hire a certified home inspector. This way, you’ll know your home’s current value and you’ll get a better picture of what you can do to improve it.

Click here for more home selling tips to help you navigate your way towards a successful sale.

Homebuying tips: The pros and cons of hiring a buyer’s agent

buyer’s agentAt a glance, the primary function of a buyer’s agent is to protect the buyer’s interests during the various stages of the homebuying process. Still, some people wrestle with the importance of hiring one. To help you decide on whether you should work with a buyer’s agent or not, here are a couple of pros and cons to weigh in on.

Pro: A buyer’s agent exclusively works for your interests

A real estate agent can help you look for a home and negotiate a reasonable price, but a buyer’s agent goes beyond the call of duty to make sure your interests are protected.

To avoid any potential conflicts of any interest, buyer’s agents normally don’t list properties and work solely to represent the homebuyer. This gives some of mind, knowing you’re not being led to a property just because it’s one of his or her listings.

Of course, the opposite of an exclusive agent is a dual agent—one who lists properties and, at the same time, represents sellers. Unlike a buyer’s agent whose only concern is you, a dual agent will have to balance his or her time to manage both you and the seller he is representing. As implied earlier, this can bring about a fair amount of possibilities that may lead to conflicts of interest.

Although a dual agent can help you negotiate a better deal, you might not be as protected as a homebuyer.

Con: Because of exclusivity, a buyer’s agent costs more to hire

One of the biggest misconceptions in the homebuying process is that sellers shoulder the costs to pay for the buyer’s agent commission. That’s actually not the case. In fact, the homebuyer is the one who’s bringing more money come closing day.

Where should you find a reputable buyer’s agent?

For starters, look to your trusted friends and family members for any recommendations, just like how you would with a normal real estate agent. If you hit a dead-end, it’s time to take your search to the Internet. The World Wide Web is full of recommendations—it’s just up to you to peruse every review and affiliations until they’ve met your criteria.

Once you’ve found a worthy candidate, invite him or her for an interview. If everything went smooth sailing, sign a Buyer’s Broker Agreement.

Do you need more help in finding a home? We’ve got plenty of homebuying tips to share. Just check out our blog here .

Homebuying: Should you buy new or pre-owned?

Relocation (1)It’s safe to say that U.S. real estate composed of two types of homes — pre-owned and new constructions. If you can’t decide between the two, here are four things to carefully consider.

  1. New homes have minimal issues.

    One of the biggest perks of buying a new home is you get a clean slate. Unlike old homes, you can rest assured there are minimal to no underlying issues. Everything is in perfect working order– you won’t need to worry about additional costs for necessary repairs and upgrades.

    New homes are easier to purchase as well. Nowadays, most home builders in the country have their own financing departments. This makes shopping for a loan a whole lot easier. Whether the deal offered to you is a good one, however, is a different question.

  2. New homes are more expensive.

    Although you’ll be facing considerably less competition for a new home, buying one will require you to shell out more money. According to a study by Trulia, new homes are likely to be 20% more expensive that old homes. Yes, you do get newer materials and probably the latest technology, but is it really worth it when you consider the next item?

  3. New homes aren’t built on great locations.

    It’s not a bad thing, per se. We all know there is hardly any space for new residential developments in established or central locations. The thing is, location matters when you’re buying a home. While some new homes are build in "upcoming" areas, others are built on locations that have questionable potential.

    If you don’t mind living a short drive away from the city center, a new home in a new development might be an option for you. If you prefer living in an established neighborhood, close to downtown and a variety of amenities, investing in an old home might be the best course of action.

  4. Old doesn’t mean dull or boring.

    Old homes aren’t always outdated or in bad shape. Some sellers update old homes (even historic properties) to bring life to the residence. They do this so well, some old homes come in even better shape than new constructions. Washington, D.C., in particular, has a number of older properties (rowhomes, for instance) that are modern and highly coveted.

In conclusion, it’s best not to close your doors on either old or new homes. Check out what’s in the market! What is important is you finding a home that suits your needs and lifestyle, regardless of how old it is.

For more resources on homebuying, check out this page.

7 Ways to keep your home stylish and pet-friendly

Playful paws Pets are part of the family, and most of us will go to great lengths just to make sure they are comfortable. Here are seven practical tips that will make your home pet-friendly without sacrificing style.

1. Go for durable fabrics.

    Dogs and cats love to hang out at comfortable sofas and the like, so it’s best to make wise upholstery choices. Stay away from linen and tweed as they can easily get ripped by dog nails. Instead, choose performance velvet. Spot cleaning won’t be an issue, and it repels mud as well.

2. Choose when to splurge and save.

    As a pet owner, you have a good idea of what will get dirty, stained, or even destroyed by your pets. List down these home items and choose budget-friendly options. You can splurge on stylish accents that won’t get damaged by your pets.

3. Invest in throw blankets.

    Throw blankets liven up any room with splashes of patterns and color, but you can also use them to protect your upholstery from muddy paws as well as fur. This will come in handy if you’ve already invested in a gorgeous sofa.

4. Choose closed storage.

    Pets can get nosy and they always seem to be searching for the most comfortable nook in your home. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but if your cat or dog has a trouble-making streak, closed storage will make your life easier. Now you won’t have to worry about treats getting eaten or important items getting chewed.

5. Removable duvet covers for comfy snuggles.

    Protect your comforter from fur, paw prints, or even occasional pet barf by using removable duvet covers or slips. In case of any accidents, you can easily remove the slip and throw it in a washing machine. Use on beds or sofas – a great alternative if you’re not too keen on throw blankets.

6. Remember these when shopping for rugs.

    To make your life infinitely easier when co-habiting with a pet, go for rugs that are in dark colors, have small patterns, and easy-to-scrub color-fast fibers. Dark colors and small patterns hide stains better than lighter colored rugs or large patterns. You’ll also want rugs that can be scrubbed without sacrificing color pay-off in the long run.

7. Relax.

    You live with pets. Everyday will be unpredictable. Don’t strive for perfection and choose practical yet stylish options. It will make life easier for you and your beloved pets.

For more home improvement tips, check out our blog.

Homebuying tips: Finding the right mortgage lender

Financing your home is half of the battle, which is why it’s important for you to come across the mortgage lender that is suitable to your needs. To find the best mortgage lender, here are five things to bear in mind.

  1. Make sure you have your credit report.

    The first step when you shop for a loan is to get your credit report. This will help you determine whether you even need to obtain one. If you do, your credit report will also play a role in figuring out the best loan program for you.

  2. Narrow down your search through referrals.

    To get names of potential lenders or brokers, turn to your trusted friends and family, or your real estate agent. Once you have some names, it’s time to take the search online and read reviews. From there, you can reach out to lenders or brokers you like.

  3. Ask questions.

    Now that you have names of potential lenders, it’s time to ask the right questions. Raise topics like their preferred means of communication, turnaround times, and lender fees. The sooner you know, the better.

  4. Don’t be afraid to disclose your financial situation.

    When shopping for a loan, communication is important. In order for lenders to offer the best loan program for you, you need to provide them the essential information. You might feel uneasy, but sharing all the significant details will make a ton of difference. Remember: potential lenders won’t be able to provide solutions if they are kept in the dark regarding your situation.
  5. Look at the bigger picture.

Get quotes from different mortgage companies, then compare. Some people stop at the principal and the interest rate, but it’s best to include all the points, so you can compare the full package. There are plenty of costs associated with homeownership, and reading the fine print and asking questions will help you make an informed decision.

Buying a home? Read more homebuying tips here.

Homebuying tips: from starter home to forever home

When it comes to real estate investments, we want to be fully sure we’re going to make the most out of it. First-time homebuyers might be inclined to buy a starter home, or rent a property first and save up for the home that’s going to be theirs forever.

If you can’t decide between the two, here are a few tips and considerations that will help you make up your mind.

Buy a starter home first

A starter home is a house you can afford now without compromising your funds. You’ll get to benefit from historic low interest rates, which will greatly impact your monthly payments.

Take advantage of this, and pick a home you can turn into a rental property as time goes by and you have enough funds to finance your forever home.

Save up for your forever home

This is the type of home you see yourself living in for the next 20 years. You might even pass this on to your children, turn it into an ancestral property of sorts. The thing about forever homes, however, is that it’s out of the league of most 20- to 30-somethings.

You can save up for your forever home by choosing to rent a reasonably-priced home for the meantime. As long as you have a clear set of goals as well as self-discipline, you’ll be able to finance your forever home. This might take a while, however.

You can also buy a starter home for now — a property that has the potential to appreciate and build enough equity you can put into your forever home. You can sell your home once you’re ready, but if the conditions aren’t ripe, have it rented out instead.

Compromise

If the price difference between the starter home you’ve been eyeing and the forever home you’re interested in can be saved up in a span of year, you might want to hold your horses and wait it out until conditions are right.

If it’ll take you more than five years to save up for that price difference, however, perhaps it’s time to compromise and look for another property that’s right on the middle ground.

Remember, this is not an all-or-nothing game. You can still find a home that suits your needs for the meantime until you can finally purchase that home of your dreams.

Check out this link for more information and tips on homebuying.

Why you should sell your D.C. home this year

Dupont Circle row houses in Washington DC

You don’t need to wait for the “perfect” time to sell your home as the stars are all aligned for your real estate success this 2016. Here are a few reasons why.

Dupont Circle row houses in Washington DC

    1. Real estate inventories are low and demand is consistent. There is so much demand for real estate in the DC-area, there aren’t enough homes to accommodate all interested home buyers.

    Choosing to sell your home this year without further ado might help you snag a great deal in a relatively short period of time. Remember: where there is demand, there should be an adequate supply.

    2. Increased home values. The D.C.-area is becoming highly coveted by the day, and experts predict home values and median home prices will continue to increase this year. Coupled with the rise of mortgage rates, the odds of selling your home for a great price is high.

    3. Continued development. More and more neighborhoods in the DC-area are gaining reputation as the “next big thing,” all thanks to the steady stream of investment and development in these communities.

    If your home is located on one of these up-and-coming neighborhoods, you might see a significant rise in home values.

    4. Move-in ready homes are highly coveted. Real estate market trends predict that home sellers with move-in ready properties are more likely to gain the attention of prospective buyers simply for all the basic amenities and facilities already installed.

    Homebuyers are looking for such properties as this saves them a lot of time and money from any renovations or repairs.

    5. Increased consumer confidence. With the job market slowly getting back on track, more and more people are gaining confidence in making big purchases.

With increased consumer confidence, you can expect the number of prospective buyers in the D.C.-area (and even from beyond) rise, thereby increasing your chances of making a better profit.

All in all, real estate experts and market trends point to the fact that 2016 will be a stellar year for Washington, DC real estate. For more information about selling your home, log on to this page.

Home remodeling tips for 2016

Home remodeling tips

home remodeling tipsRemodeling your home is always a good idea if you’re looking to update your property. It can be an extravagant renovation or a simple upgrade that will make your life easier and will give your home a fresh spin. Before you start your project, here are a couple of remodeling tips to bear in mind.

1. Hire people who understand what you want to achieve. As your home is the largest investment you’ll ever make in your life, it pays in the long term to surround yourself with people who understand the vision for your remodeling project.

A team of experts and professionals who get what you want will make it easier for you to achieve your desired finished product.

2. Dream big. For one moment, don’t think about financial constraints. List down all the things you want in your home, and then cross out everything you can live without.

Now that you have your must-haves, prioritizing remodeling projects will be easier and can even help you drive up your property’s value.

3. Plan accordingly. This is where the financial aspect comes in. Before you start drilling holes and installing upgrades, have a couple of contractors come through to give you a quote on everything.

This will help you research properly and plan out your remodeling project well, from choosing the right kind of materials to upgrades that will increase your the property value.

4. Avoid fads. Dream big, but think in the long term and avoid any kind of renovations that may go in and out of style in a short period of time. Be bold, but don’t forget your home’s resale value. You can still go all out and, at the same time, lend your property a timeless feel that will resonate to a large group of potential buyers.

5. Don’t be afraid to repurpose. Renovating your home doesn’t mean you have to throw out and replace everything. Consider items that you can use again, and look up DIY projects that can give these items a fresh look.

Remodeling a home is always an exciting step in every homeowner’s life. Consider these tips and I wish you all the success in your project.

Top 10 Negotiating Tips You Need to Know

Once you’ve found the condo of your choice and secured financing, you’re ready to place an offer on the unit. But before you do that, go through the checklist below.

  1. Look at the unit’s sales history
    Research the building’s sales history and pricing information on similar units that have been sold prior. This will help justify the price stated in your offer letter.
  2. Find out why the unit is being sold
    Is the seller under any pressure to sell as soon as possible? If so, it’s the kind of information you can use to your benefit at the opportune time.
  3. Ask if other buyers have made offers
    If there are other bidders, you’ll have to make an offer that’s close to the listing price. However, you should still withhold your true level of interest to retain the upper hand.
  4. Keep your finances confidential
    Avoid talking about financial information in the presence of selling agents. This might give them the impression that you can afford more, or that you’re not qualified as a buyer.
  5. Don’t make lowball offers
    Making a really low offer could offend the seller and dissuade them from doing any business with you. Consult with your Realtor to make an informed offer.
  6. Set a ceiling
    Determine how much you’re willing to pay for a unit. This will guide your decisions, and will let you know when to walk away from negotiations.
  7. Avoid seeming too eager
    Remain neutral during talks with the seller. This keeps the other party from thinking that they can appeal to your emotions when negotiating.
  8. Don’t give your best offer right away
    Putting everything on the table at once will make the seller think that you’re hoping to get more than you can expect. Proceed with your offer and concessions gradually.
  9. Discuss the counteroffer with your Realtor
    The amount of the counteroffer is an indication of how low the seller is willing to go. Talk to your Realtor and come up with a price you think is fair.
  10. Don’t ask for additional concessions
    If the seller agrees to lower the price, don’t push your luck by asking for more concessions. Arrive at a compromise in order to close the deal.

To learn more, check out our comprehensive Buyers’ Guide. You can also call 410.371.0581 and 202.483.6300 or email andy@LNF.com.

7 Things You Need to Do Before You Hire a Real Estate Agent

Make the process of selling or buying a home easier by laying down the groundwork. Here’s what you need to do before hiring a real estate agent.

  1. Familiarize yourself with home values in the area
    You probably have an idea of how much your home should sell for, but check comparable home values. Market conditions may have changed since you last bought property. Research will help you and the agent come up with a workable plan.
  2. Check your mortgage
    Go through your loan documents and look at how much you still owe on the mortgage. Knowing the precise amount will help the Realtor formulate the right selling strategy. It will also help you determine if you should list your home or wait it out, depending on how much you still owe versus market value.
  3. Pinpoint liens and disputes
    Identify any disputes with neighbors and contractors, as well as tax issues that can make a creditor put a lien on your home. If you’re selling a deceased family member’s home, make sure that the property has a clean title.
  4. Increase your home’s curb appeal
    Make sure you home is in good condition by keeping it clean and doing a few touch ups on the paint. If the Realtor has a good impression of your home, they might be persuaded to give it a good price.
  5. Put off home improvements
    Don’t make any costly home improvements until you’ve met with a Realtor. You might end up paying for upgrades that current buyers don’t care for in the first place.
  6. Make a list of upgrades you’ve made to the home
    Did you build an extra room? Remodel your kitchen? List them all down. This will help the agent price your home accordingly.
  7. Check your schedule
    Be ready to adjust your schedule during the listing process. The agent will recommend the best showing times depending on market conditions, and you should be able to tweak your routine.

To learn more about the selling process, check out our comprehensive Sellers’ Guide. You can also call 410.371.0581 and 202.483.6300 or email andy@LNF.com.

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Andrew Pariser, Realtor®
Licensed in DC, MD, & VA
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