Buying major kitchen appliances can be almost as overwhelming as buying a new car. There are so many choices, and an ever-evolving stream of new features and technology. Here are five tips that can help your decision-making when you’re ready to shop for new kitchen appliances, along with some of the latest features you may want to consider for three major kitchen appliances: dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator.
The current seller’s market may provide potential advantages as a home seller, including more power at the negotiating table on selling costs; nevertheless, you should anticipate that about 10% of the selling price may go to commissions and various fees. Simply having that percentage in mind can help you set good expectations around likely net proceeds from a home sale.
Once you have contracted with a real estate agent, be sure you also take advantage of their expertise. Talk with your agent about the following eight costs and take an active approach in the selling process. Your agent is a pro and there to walk you through this big step in your life.
The first cost to expect if you sell your home is the payment to your agent in the form of a commission for the work they do. Your agent’s work includes marketing your home and all that entails, listing your home on the multiple listings service (MLS), fielding calls, reviewing offers with you, negotiating with buyers, scheduling inspections, managing the transaction, and much more.
Typically, the commission for the agent’s work is 6% of the cost of the sale of your house. Bear in mind, though, that the commission will also be split between your agent and the buyer’s agent and it may not be an even split between them. Additionally, the lenders for both you and the buyer will also take their fees out of the commission.
To determine what 6% means to you as the home seller, use the example of a $300K closing price for a home--the agent’s commission would be $18,000. Once you and your agent decide on the right price for your home, subtract 6% from that price in your mind to set your expectation about final proceeds right from the beginning.
Note: All examples in this article will use the same closing price of $300,000.
You may think your stuff is great—and it is—but it may not help you sell your home. Your agent may suggest you stage your home using furniture that is not your own. That’s because “on average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes,” according to Realtor.com.
However, staging can be costly. The same article stated, “the average cost for most stagers is $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.” You need to consider the square footage of your home when you calculate the potential cost. Weigh that against factors such as how quickly homes are currently selling in your area, rooms that may not need staging, and any added storage cost for your own stuff. Your agent can help you with these and help you determine whether staging will be cost-positive for you.
Typically, the buyer or buyer’s agent schedules a home inspection and the cost is included in the buyer’s closing costs. How much the fee will be depends on the square footage of a home, but fees range between $200 and $500 for a basic inspection. As a seller, you can be at your home at the time of the inspection, but if you would like to be prepared ahead of time and perhaps avoid any costly surprise repairs you may have to make, you can also order a home inspection report before you’re ready to sell.
As a seller, be prepared to fix certain problems if a home inspection discovers them. These typically can include safety standard and building code violations, structural problems, and plumbing or roofing leaks. If you have followed the 1 percent rule as a homeowner—setting aside 1% of your home’s value each year to a savings fund for home maintenance—you can use those funds to repair any big problems that could arise when it’s time to sell.
Often, certain home repairs are negotiable and your agent can help with these details. In a seller's market, you also may have more negotiating power on paying for repairs.
Most home sellers are also buying their next home. If that’s you, it’s a good idea to estimate the cost to rent back or lease your former home for a period of time, before you can move. Most agents recommend estimating 1% of the closing price for transition or overlap costs. Using our example of $300K house, estimate $3,000 for this cost.
You know how much you owe on your existing mortgage, so the payoff amount obviously is specific to your loan. In addition to paying off your mortgage, find out if you will have any other payments to factor into this cost. These can include a pre-payment penalty, missed payments, late fees, or any interest that accrues after your expected payoff date. Do your homework early in the closing process to avoid these sorts of surprises at close.
While not required in every state, your agent will know whether you can avoid the closing services and/or the presence of an attorney to sell a home where you live. Your agent can also be a good resource if you need a real estate attorney recommendation. Typically, most attorneys charge either a flat fee or an hourly rate, but expect the bill to range between $500 and $1,500 for a straightforward real estate transaction.
You can expect to spend an additional 2% of your home’s price on this expense, or approximately $6,000 on our example $300K home sale.
Seller’s closing costs tend to be fixed and include items such as title search and insurance, property or deed transfer taxes, recording fees, and outstanding liens on the property. You’ll also pay remaining property taxes and a negotiated proportion of any outstanding utility bills.
Wouldn’t it be great if homeownership came with a manual? Or at least a cheat sheet? These tips and resources can help. You'll find help with what you need to do first, when and how to do home maintenance tasks you may have never had to do before, and ways to budget and save money. No matter when you bought your home in the last year, these tips can help you ease into homeownership.
You never know how many spare keys there could be (and who could have them) when you buy a new home. If you have a First American home warranty that was included with your home purchase, rekey service may be included in your coverage.
If you have traditional locks with a key, consider hiding an extra key in a lockbox. Tired of losing your keys? Consider switching to a keyless door lock that you can open with a code entered into the keypad, or a smart lock you can unlock with your mobile device, voice activation, and more.
Take a few minutes to walk around your house and learn where the shutoff values and switches are located. For your water, you’ll want to know where your main shutoff valve is located, as well as the shutoff for any irrigation or sprinklers. If a pipe bursts and you need to shut off the water in a hurry, you’ll want to know where to go. It’s also a good idea to label your circuits in your electrical box so you can easily tell if a circuit gets tripped and you have to reset it.
Not sure where to find your utility valves and switches? Here are tips on where to look.
Buying a home probably hasn’t left you with a lot of extra money, but every homeowner needs a few key items for their toolbox. Don’t worry—there will be plenty of time for you to grow your toolbox over the years. Here are 16 essential tools you can start with for your toolbox.
Fire extinguishers are like insurance – you hope you never need them, but you wouldn’t want to be without them. And unlike homeowners insurance, fire extinguishers are fairly inexpensive.
If you only have one fire extinguisher, make sure it is in your kitchen, as this where over half of home fires occur. You should also consider keeping a fire extinguisher somewhere central in your home, where you can grab it in a hurry. If you have multiple stories, then consider keeping an extinguisher on each floor.
If a natural disaster or unexpected emergency occurs, it’s important to have a home emergency kit ready to go. Here's how to get started building an emergency kit that you and your loved ones can rely on when you need it quick.
Take photos or create a video walk-through of your home to record all of your personal property. You’re paying for homeowners insurance, which you’ll hopefully never need to use, but if you do, the last thing you’re going to want to do is make lists of items from memory. A great way to make a fast inventory is to walk through your house video recording the contents and describing them as you go. If you want to go a little more in-depth, there are many home inventory apps.
Maintaining your home is one of the new expenses that comes with owning a home. If it helps, think of it as maintaining one of your largest investments. Upkeep of home maintenance tasks not only keeps your home running smoothly, it can also help prevent headaches – or big repair bills – down the line. Fortunately, you can do many of these maintenance tasks yourself, even if you’re not that handy.
Half the battle of home maintenance is knowing what needs to be done, and when. A home maintenance log can help you track maintenance and repair for your home and where you can keep track of improvements, updates, and upgrades you make. You can also use it to store appliance and system manuals and instructions, warranties, and other resources. Learn how to make your own home maintenance log.
Your heating and cooling systems work hard behind the scenes to keep you and your family comfortable all year long. Scheduling an off-season air conditioner tune-up is a great way to make sure these systems run efficiently to keep your heating and cooling costs down. Technicians can often spot small problems before they become big ones—and who wants their AC to suddenly stop working on the first really hot day of the season? One thing you can do on your own is to stay on top of changing your HVAC air filter.
If you are ready to sell your home and looking for ways to help your real estate listing stand out, adding these three simple, low-cost smart home upgrades may offer you a win-win opportunity. Why? Because adding these smart home devices will not only appeal to your eventual homebuyer, they can also benefit you in the short-term as the current homeowner!
And, if you are planning to sell your home, chances are, you are buying another one, so when you install these smart devices in your current home, you will already know how to use the technology in your next home and be ready to use them when you move in.
A recent survey provides data that seems to back up the growing appeal of these three smart home devices for buyers. According to the survey, more than 60% of homebuyers were interested in smart security upgrades and more than 70% said that smart thermostats and smart smoke alarms were attractive features they look for in listings.
No matter which generation your potential homebuyers were born into, it seems they agree with their neighboring gens on the importance of buying a home in a safe neighborhood. With more than 90% of boomers, gen xers, and millennials all agreeing on this one idea, according to recent data, it’s a safe bet that if your home has smart security features, your listing will be equally appealing to nearly every age set of potential homebuyers. Any upgrades that can have such broad appeal are a good idea to have in a home for sale.
When it comes to smart security, here are two inexpensive upgrades you can install with ease:
Smart locks pair with Bluetooth on your smart phone to your deadbolt making the need to find your keys a thing of the past. Smart locks can also detect your presence, reducing the chance of getting locked out of the house. Keyless entry via a smart lock also means you can easily share your "e-key" with family members and, as a home seller, even your real estate agent. Finally, if you drive off on an errand, you can remotely lock the door--no more driving home to check if your locked the front door.
Smart doorbells are internet-connected devices that alert you when someone is at the door. If a visitor presses the smart doorbell button, your smart phone chimes--it can sound just like a traditional doorbell. But unlike those, when you install a smart doorbell, it uses a video camera that lets you see who it is. You can even speak to the person without having to open the door. It's a safer way to be sure you know the person before you open your door, and even at night, you can clearly see who it is because of built-in night vision technology. The video camera in smart doorbells also let's you see who came to the door while you were away, and most of these smart devices can be integrated with an existing surveillance system.
The biggest appeal to installing a smart thermostat for homebuyers and homeowners alike is that using one can help lower heating and cooling costs, typically a homeowner’s most expensive year-round utility bill to pay. Smart thermostats are WiFi-connected devices that you can control from your smart phone or tablet. From your phone, you can schedule temperature settings for different times of the day and evening, and if you have a home automation system, you can usually integrate a smart thermostat.
Thought experiment: If your smoke alarm sounds off while you are in woods, will anyone hear it? Traditional smoke alarms require you to hear them. If no one is home to hear the alarm, that can spell trouble. (Though any type of working smoke alarm in your home is still a better than none).
The biggest benefit to installing both smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is you do not need to be at your home to be alerted to trouble.