Doorsteps blog posts

Blog entry by Doorsteps

3 Secrets to Selling Your Home

Hoping a stampede of buyers will arrive at your home the moment it hits the market? It doesn't happen very often, but it certainly can. If that's the spot you want to be when you list with Doorsteps, use these three secrets as your guide.

1. Price it Right

Pricing is everything, particularly in today's market. We've written before about how to price your home, and if you're really anxious to sell it, you'll want to shave about ten to fifteen per cent off of that price. If you do, you'll have buyers lined up around the corner for your beautiful home.

2. Maximise the Light

Almost every buyer wants plenty of light in their purchase, so do what you can to make that happen. If you need to clean the windows, do it. If you need to go with different window treatments to let the light shine in, make that shift. If you're planning to paint, go with those lighter colours. You may also want to change your light bulbs or even trim the shrubs and trees near the house to make things as bright as possible.

3. Hide Your Pets

Your pet may warm your heart, but not everyone cares about dogs or cats. In fact, most don't want to walk in and see a pile of fur on the sofa. It makes buyers think your home isn't quite as clean as it should be, so if you're going to have an open house or you plan to have a buyer drop by, you may want to find a pet sitter for the day.

Interested in learning more about how to move your home as quickly as possible? Give us a call today, and we'll help you get it sold!

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Moving for Work? Understanding Relocation Assistance Programs

Following that new job to that new city with those new people can be tough. Employers in many different sectors know this difficulty and many have assistance for you in your new place. Taking a look at what a move may cost you and your family and what expenses you can ask your employer to cover can be very helpful in a stressful and quickly-paced move. Knowing your needs ensures you will be covered. Recognising how an easy move benefits your performance is vital to the company’s productivity and the productivity of the related conversations that you may have with your employer regarding your move. These questions can help you shape that conversation.

Where Are You Going And What Will It Cost You?
It is important to look at what you are leaving: a home, a spouse’s income, a daycare, a language, a culture, a mortgage, a lower cost of living, your home country? Be sure to take every loss into consideration when you begin negotiating a moving package with your employer.

What Is The Relocation Assistance Package That Your Company Has Offered Employees Before? 
Read up on your rights in your employee handbook, talk to HR and, perhaps, most valuable of all, ask those within your company who have moved what benefits they received and what they wish they had asked for. See what your company has offered in the past and how that lines up with your own needs and wants. 

There are many different ways that employers offer to help those who are moving. Take into consideration these options that you may not realize you can ask for:

- Assistance selling your home and finding a new one; 
- Temporary housing;
- Travel expenses between the new and old location while you look for a new home;
- A stipend for house hunting;
- A stipend for cost of living;
- Utility hook ups;
- Termination of lease;
- An allowance for higher mortgage costs;
- A reimbursement for real estate commission;
- Moving companies, including transportation and packing;
- Gas costs;
- Visas for you and your spouse, including accommodations;
- Assistance for family, such as finding a job for your spouse and schools and childcare; and 
- Language instructions and cultural assimilation workshops and classes.

The process of moving is never easy, and moving for your job can be an added hardship. Talk to your employer as soon as you know a move might be in the cards. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Selling and Buying at the Same Time

Buying a home the second time takes the pressure off because you have already jumped through the hoops once, crossed all your t’s, and signed on the dotted line. In other words, you know the drill now. However, this time it is going to take more finesse as you balance buying your new home and selling your old house.  

Most people can’t afford to pay two mortgages at one time. Many depend on the equity from the sale of their first home to purchase their second one. In order to sell your house and move directly into your new home without unpacking, sleeping on a friend’s couch or purchasing a storage unit, you have to know what you are doing. Run through this checklist to see if you are ready for this fast-paced, unpredictable, and exciting ride.

  • Know your needs. When you look to sell your house, you must find the minimum acceptable value that you could live with selling it for. No, the number is not ideal, but sometimes it is good enough to cut your losses, saving you the stress, time and the panicked haggling that accompanies selling a home. Knowing this number will help you to act decisively, making responsible decisions for your household.
  • Don’t let yourself fall in love with the homes you view while you still own your old house. If you do, you are just asking to have your heart broken. When selling a house, sellers want to get the property off their hands as soon as possible to whomever. They are not concerned with your desire to own the home contingent on your home’s sell date that has not been set when there are other people who have the money and are ready to pay.
  • Get started with your lender. You want to be on top of this step because this step ensures you have the funds for your new home. By having your cash ready and your paperwork done you can, seriously look at houses to purchase. Finding an experienced lender who has helped other people in the same situation is helpful. You want them to have faced tricky situations and have successfully helped buyers like you come out on top. They will be ready for any curveball that comes their way. 
  • Have a backup plan. At best you sell your house and immediately move into a perfect new home. However, in an unpredictable market you must be ready for the worst, just in case. 
  • Contingency offers and post-possession agreements. While there are many types of contingencies to look into, a sale of home contingency offer protects you, the buyer, in the case that you cannot sell your house. It allows you a set amount of time to sell your old house and protect your interest in the new house. It also protects your earnest money if the sale does not go through. Post-possession agreements can be another way to protect yourself. As the seller of your old home, in this scenario, you and the person who buys the old house may agree to let you stay in your house until you find another house to live in, paying rent to the buyer until you can find another place. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

The House Showing Tips You Need Now

Any conversation with a stranger can be awkward and uncertain, but if you have to be the person to start and maintain them at your own house viewing, there's always an added layer of anxiety. That makes it fairly  important to know how to prepare and interact with viewers during the all-important, good-first impression. A good impression on you is a good impression on the house, which is the goal of a home viewing.  Knowing that impression is important and inviting these people into the warmth and charm of your home are key. 

Here are the do’s and don’ts of a home viewing.

Always:

Prepare. To get your home ready for “company” clean, declutter, and depersonalise. Dirty homes don’t sell; clutter doesn’t make anyone want to live in your home, and family pictures of someone else’s family make it hard for potential buyers to imagine their own families in the space. 

Do a walk through. Clear your mind and detach from your home. This is no longer “your home,” but rather a house on the market. Walk around the block and enter your home, asking what stands out to you in good and bad ways. Go through each room with fresh eyes; make repairs to those areas that you never got to; and remove and rearrange furniture for easy mobility. 

Practice. Practice. Practice. You probably know the adage, "Proper planning prevents poor performance," and walking someone through your space is no exception. Don’t “wing” a viewing. Practice walking your spouse, roommate, or children through the area. Create talking points for key features in each room, ask questions to find out what your “client” may be looking for, and frame the house to their tastes.

Never:

Gush. It is one thing to share the charming features of the house with someone, but it is quite another to overshare about the outrageous parties you hosted, the children’s activities, and the stains on the carpet. Keep the sharing of your memories in this space concise. 

Overspray. Scents and sprays can be used, but only sparingly. More than ever, people are sensitive to what they are breathing, so honor your viewers and their lungs. In addition, buyers may be suspicious of what you are trying to cover up with overwhelming smells. Keep it light and pleasant. 

Hang around. After showing your home to the potential buyers, answering their questions, and encouraging them to go back through the rooms as they wish, give them a time frame and leave them inside to discuss the space amongst themselves. Allowing them to exist in the space without your presence encourages them to honestly share and picture themselves in the space. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Finding the True Market Value of Your House

Are you looking to sell your house and wondering how much money you can expect from your sale? Are you curious about the equity of your home? Are you interested in learning the true market value of your home so you can make smart renovations? 

Finding out the current market value of your home is easy, and the result of this research is making smart homeowner decisions. 

Most real estate agents look at comp homes, or comparable homes, in your neighbourhood to begin figuring this number. Houses that have sold in the last 6 months tell how much buyers are willing to pay for properties in your area. Comp homes take into consideration location, the condition of your building and property, the square footage, and amenities that the house offers.

This article will offer the steps to finding the value of your home  so you can make the best choices for your property, maximising your investment strategies.

First, you will need to find three properties that have sold in your house’s neighbourhood, ideally within a quarter of a mile of your house. These neighbouring houses must be similar to your house in terms of numbers of rooms, acreage, bathrooms, pools or garages, and updates. These houses must also have been sold within the last 6 months or so because the housing market can change quite rapidly. 

To find recent sales look through public records, like the Land Registry, and the sold listings. Rightmove and Zoopla are two online sources that post houses that have recently sold. Simply look up recent sales in your neighbourhood that closely fit the description of your house. 

After finding several, at least 3, divide the sale price of the comps in your area by the square footage to get the price per square foot of the comp homes.

Once you know the price per square foot of the comp homes you multiply that number with the square footage of your home. This number is roughly what we can presume buyers value your home to be worth. 

With this same number you can add in or subtract garages, acreage, and other amenities. 

This method is a good way to get a rough estimate of the value of your home. However, if you are set on selling your house and want to sell it fast, Doorsteps agents offer a property analysis report and a more accurate valuation included with the basic £99 agent fee. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Selling Your Home in the Summer

Selling your home can be a daunting task with much uncertainty tied to it. Whether you have decided to relocate for work, downsize/upsize, or find a better neighbourhood for your lifestyle, this is the season to sell.  You have already done the math and measured the pros and cons of your move, so why wait?

Summer is Selling Season
Strategically speaking, most homes are sold in the warmer months of the year.  Summer marks buying time as families have more time and need to purchase homes before the start of the next school term to enroll their little ones.  With more daylight hours, you can show your home with greater availability. Plus, any outdoor space that your property has can be displayed at its fullest potential.

Making the Most of Your Summer Spaces
Light: Lighting is a key selling point in homes and affects the mood of the rooms in your house.  Be sure to lift up the curtains and allow the light to stream in. Clean windows are a must.  Remove heavy drapery that blocks the sun and makes any room feel heavy. This tidy step allows your decorating tastes to lessen and helps the potential buyer to more easily picture themselves in the space.

Air: With all of the sunshine, temperature control is crucial. If a space it too hot or muggy and the air is stagnant, people will associate their discomfort with the space. Keeping the air circulating in the space is key. People will stay longer and feel more at peace with a space if they feel more comfortable.

Flora: Don’t be afraid to bring the fruit of the season into your house.  Bring in simple and easy-to-maintain plants. Fresh-cut flowers brighten a room and greet buyers with a fragrant smell and outdoor plants on a patio or balcony will inspire them to take advantage of the warmth and sunlight available.

Flexibility: As the owner and shower of the space, it is your responsibility to be available meet with willing and excited potential buyers. You have greater availability in the summer time to show your property. Some buyers prefer mornings, others afternoons, yet even after dinner. Make sure you can be flexible to see them, but it is generally agreed that showing a property at night is not in your best interests.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

The Benefits of Home Ownership

Buying your first home is almost a hallmark of becoming an adult these days, and for good reason. Home ownership comes with a lot of positive aspects you just won't find in the world of flat rental. Wondering what's so good about it?

  • Once you finish paying off your mortgage, you never have to worry about paying for a place to live in the future.  Every payment you make puts you a bit closer to that mark, 
  • Your home could increase in value, and then you can use its equity to do whatever you like - buy a second home, fund your retirement, or buy something even nicer. 
  • You never have to deal with a landlord when you want to make changes. Hate the garden gate? Change it. Want to install a glass shower enclosure? Go for it. The home is yours to do with what you like.
  • It can be cheaper than rent in some markets. 
  • No landlord can ever make you move because he or she wants to sell the property. 
It sounds like the perfect choice, right? For many, it is. Before you get ready to buy, make sure you've done all of the following. 

Saved Enough for a Deposit
You need a deposit to get many mortgages, and in most situations, you need to have saved 5 per cent of the cost of the home. So, for example, if you're buying a home for  £200,000, you will need £10,000 for a deposit. 

Additional Savings
You may need other savings, too. You'll need to cover the lending fees, the stamp duty, moving fees, and solicitor's fees. There are many calculators available online to help you decide how much each of those might be for the property you're considering. 

A Steady Income
If you've been with your company for some time, and you expect a regular cheque in a solid amount, you're probably ready. You want your income to be enough to afford the repayments while still leaving you enough to live, as well as one that helps lenders see that fact too. 

Once you're ready, we can help. Give us a call today to learn more.

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

Creating A Circle of Assistance

One of the most annoying things that first-time homeowners come to realize is that when they are buying a house, everyone has an opinion about the housing market. Many new buyers are excited to hear the advice because they want to make good investments with their money, yet these same buyers are overwhelmed when they learn that some of these self-professed “experts” offer conflicting information.

At a time like this it is important to ask, “Who can I trust?”

Building Your Team

The simple truth is that you need your own support team when you're shopping for your first home. Make sure you include these people!

Spouse/Partner/Roommate:
Next to yourself this person is who matters most in whatever happens to your house. In fact, decisions should be made for the benefit of your life together. Meeting your needs ought to be the goal of the financial decisions and changes made in your household. This person’s input is invaluable. 

Mentors:
When deciding where to go and how to get there it is helpful to have someone who has been where you are and knows what the next step is from their own life experience. Mentors should be successful people, who you respect, who have achieved a goal that is related to what you want. In the case of real estate, this person may have sold a home in your neighbourhood, relocated with your company, or bought a home in your city. They know the hurdles you are going to face, have been there themselves, and can offer you sound advice.

Agent:
Finding a good agent in an active market can be hard, but necessary if you want someone who has troubleshooting experience and has overcome unexpected obstacles.  You want to trust the person who is helping you pick out your future home. If you can’t trust them from the start or you sense something is off, don’t be afraid to see another agent. Fortunately, at Doorsteps, we can help. We're just a phone call away.  

Handyman:
Having a spouse, friend, or neighbor who can fix things when buying or selling a home can be a huge relief. These people can tell you what to be weary of, teach you how to fix things, or take care of problems on the spot. They can save you big money in exchange for a family dinner and a six pack. 

Ready to get started? Give us a call today. 

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Blog entry by Doorsteps

What Happens When A Buyer’s Offer Is Accepted?

This is the moment you've been waiting for: the offer was accepted! The house that you put on the market to sell has been not just seen by a prospective buyer, but that buyer has valued your property so much that they negotiated and accepted the price you asked for. Now you are free to collect the cash and move out, right?

Not so fast! Here’s what you have to look forward to in the next couple of months:

The Escrow Period
Usually this period of time between the acceptance of an offer and the closing date lasts thirty days. In this window there is much to be done by the buyer and seller to meet the specifications of the title before keys and money can be exchanged.

Buyer
The pressure is on this person to get financed for a mortgage (if they were not already prequalified). They must negotiate with their lender during this time for best interest rate and payment option. Once they decide on their lender, assuming they won’t be paying cash for the home, their lender will have an appraisal and inspection done. They also will be looking into obtaining buildings insurance

Seller
Now the seller will write up the contract and send it to the buyer to look over, amend, and negotiate the terms of the contract. These terms include closing costs, contingency offers, and the transfer of the deed. The buyer may counter items they want to be left behind such as appliances, fixtures, drapes, and/or lawn furniture and may specify repairs that they would like to see made to the property before they take ownership. During this period it is up to the seller to work with their attorney to negotiate these terms with the buyer and to make these changes to the property before the final walk-through.

After Walk-through, Closing Date
It’s been a full month of working with real estate agents, inspectors, surveyors, appraisers,  lenders, attorneys, title and insurance companies. It may seem like every spare moment was filled with getting to this point, but when final documents are signed, closing costs are paid and legal ownership has been transferred it will have been worth it to have your old house sold.


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Blog entry by Doorsteps

The Anatomy of a Mortgage Payment

If you're purchasing your first home, the chances are good you haven't really thought much about a mortgage. In fact, at first glance, it can be shocking, mysterious, and elusive. If you want to be fully invested in cutting that big check every month, it may help to understand exactly where your money is going.

Show Me The Money

When you make a mortgage payment, you'll find it tackles the two main parts of any mortgage.

Principal:
The principal amount is the monthly payment for the purchased house. If you make a mortgage payment, that means you didn’t buy the house straight up with cash. This figure indicates the amount borrowed from a lender within the allotted limit to have paid the lender back by. The first part of the mortgage payment is the principal amount divided by the life of the loan. This number is revised after each payment. It is important to note that other charges associated with having a mortgage payment are also included in this cost, such as annual fee, credit reports, and inspection fees to name a few.

Interest:
Interest is the amount of money that the lender charges the borrower for the time they are waiting to get their money back. This figure is determined by the type of loan you select and the Bank of England (in most cases). The higher the rate the bank is currently paying to borrow the money from the Bank of England, the higher your rate will be.

Other Costs of Home Ownership
It's important to note that there are other costs associated with home ownership outside of the mortgage. You'll need to carry buildings and contents insurance on your new home. In some cases, the lender may be able to add it to your bill, but you'll want to shop around for the best coverage. You may also want to  carry mortgage protection insurance to help pay for the cost of your home should you be unable to afford the payment due to illness or an accident. Sometimes that, too, can be rolled in with the cost of your monthly mortgage, so check with your lender for details. You'll need to factor in the cost of council taxes as well, though that typically can't be part of your mortgage payment.

Ready to move forward with home ownership? We can help. Shop our full line of properties now!

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