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Buyers & Sellers

Connie Zullo Realtor > Buyers & Sellers


No one wants to miss out on their dream home. Even if your home purchase is a year away, you can jump-start the process. Here are some house hunting tips so you’re prepared when the right opportunity jumps at you.

Tracking every house you find online is exciting, but it can be disappointing if you don’t know your budget or the type of financing you can qualify for.

Start your house hunting by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Being pre-approved gives you an idea of what a bank is willing to loan you, and it shows sellers that you are ready to commit. Remember, just because a lender approves you for a certain amount doesn’t mean you should spend that much on your house. See our guide on how to determine how much home you can afford.

A larger down payment can mean a lower monthly payment since you’re borrowing less, and it can give you an edge in highly competitive markets. In many cases, you can spend less than the recommended minimum 20 percent on a down payment if you pay for property mortgage insurance.

Your location determines which school your children attend, the length of your commute, how far you’ll travel to a grocery store, and possibly where you’ll socialize — in other words, where and how you’ll live your life.

Consider the type of neighborhood you want. Do you prefer a large gated community, a cozy area with tree-lined sidewalks for your daily jog, or grand acreage with no neighbors? Think about the lifestyle you want. Do you want to be surrounded by nature or live near bars and restaurants? Are there bike lanes? Is there sufficient street lighting?

Few houses or neighborhoods have everything — the perfect location, feel, community, schools, and pricing. But the earlier you start weighing the pros and cons, the more time you’ll have to decide what is most important to you about your home’s location.

Almost as critical as the location is knowing the specific features and amenities you want and need.

Before your search begins, list features that are absolute must-haves, like the number of bedrooms, yard size, number of stories, age (do you prefer a historic feel or something built in the past decade?), and general condition. Some owners might be willing to tackle a fixer-upper, especially for a lower price point, while others want something move-in ready.

Then consider which features you’d love to have but can live without, or could add yourself. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a wrap-around porch, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Maybe your spouse wants a pool but is willing to stretch for a two-car garage. Also, consider architectural style.

More than likely, you’re going to discover your dream home online before ever stepping foot inside. According to a 2017 study conducted by NAR, the majority of home buyers start their hunt online. Only potential buyers age 71 or older turn to a real estate agent first.

So how can you make the most of your online search? Favoriting every home you like probably isn’t a good idea—you can get bogged down by the number of homes that have something attractive. Instead, review your checklist to see if a home meets your criteria. If not, move on. If it does, review the location. Make sure you and your spouse or partner agree, then put it on your list of homes to visit.

When you’re finally ready to tour houses, you’ll have whittled down the options, which will save time and make the decision process much easier.


Selling your home is going take some work, but just because it will take effort does not mean it needs to be any harder than necessary. By being smart about how you use your time and energy, you can smooth the way for a sale that satisfies your goals and lets you realize the full potential of your property. Below you will learn some of the best advice for selling a home. These home selling tips include pre-sale preparation for both the interior and exterior of your home.

Some of the first things buyers are going to notice as they pull up to your house are the landscape – lawn, plants, flowerbeds, etc. Now you don’t have to be extravagant, install a fountain or even hire a professional, you just need to tidy up and make sure things look neat and preferably alive if possible. Mow the lawn, trim your bushes and buy a few bags of mulch to pour in the flower beds to tie things together. In real estate sales, first impressions count. This is one of the simple improvements that will increase home value. Make it count!

One of the most cost-effective home selling tips is to make your home clutter free! You want to maximize the perceived space in the home. The more clutter, the more uncomfortable things will feel. Go through everything and clear out all the non-essentials. Even if you don’t feel like going through all of your stuff and sorting them, you should at least put things away in places where buyers won’t be looking – so no cramming stuff into closets or the garage. Rent a storage space if you need to.

A cluttered home can make your home feel a lot smaller than it is. This is not a good thing when trying to get the most you can out of your sale. Today’s buyers like bright open spaces unfettered by an abundance of someone’s personal property. Keep in mind there is a significant percentage of the population who do not have a vision. Make things easier on the buyer by giving them something they can visualize. Take a look at some of the top tips for clearing the clutter when selling your home.

Dark, dreary colors can shrink the perception of space. Old, stained paint makes rooms look decrepit. By painting with contemporary colors and ideally with a little insight from a knowledgeable Real Estate agent or interior designer, you can change the whole feel of your home. There is not another home improvement that will give you more bang for your buck than a fresh coat of paint. From a selling standpoint, it is important to stick with neutral colors. Remember selling your home is not about personal preferences but appealing to the masses. Stick with off white and light creamy colors for maximum benefit. Sherwin-Williams offers some excellent interior home painting tips that are worth a look.

If you are noticing a trend here, that’s because there is one. Working with a professional to sell your home has a ton of benefits, and takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of your shoulders. An experienced Realtor can often sell your home faster, and for a better price, than you can on your own. This, in fact, is one of the most valuable tips for selling a home. Just make sure you hire the right agent!

Before a real estate agent even begins their work of selling a home they can be a great source of knowledge in pricing your home correctly. Without the right price, everything else you do will be meaningless! Don’t be like so many other sellers who put a pie in the sky price tag on their home. This is a sure recipe for failure.

An exceptional local real estate agent who knows the market like the back of their hand is worth having in your corner. Here are some great tips on how to pick a real estate agent worth checking out. The article addresses what you should be thinking about when hiring a Real Estate agent, including important interview questions. Keep in mind that pricing a home properly is vital to your success and some agents will intentionally mislead you just to get your business.

Avoid this kind of agent at all costs! There is nothing that will prevent you from getting top dollar faster than hiring a real estate agent who overprices your home!

With all the emphasis on online marketing – which is critical, of course – it can be easy to forget about the basics. Putting a “For Sale” sign in the yard will let everyone know what’s going on, and makes it easier for people to find the house. Some folks want to “keep their home a secret” for a multitude of reasons. This frankly is a mistake. Home sellers should never underestimate the power of real estate signage. Many homes have been sold over the years due to a sign.

More often than not this can happen with a person who was not thinking of buying but have always said to themselves if that certain home comes on the market they would be interested. That home could be yours!

The pictures you post on your listing can make or break your sale. They are the first thing anyone sees. If you are not skilled at photography, and your Real Estate agent isn’t either, then hire a professional. It is worth the expense. So many sellers hire a real estate agent but don’t bother to check on one of the most important parts of the selling process – how does the home being marketed look online? This is such a vital consideration, yet so many sellers underestimate the importance. Your homes photography is a gateway to a buyers perception of the property – good or bad!

A bright, cheery home is more inviting to buyers. Let the sunlight in if you can, and add some better lighting if your home is dim. Even buying brighter light bulbs can help. One of the things I always mention to my clients is to make sure all of their curtains are drawn and lights remain on when there is a scheduled showing. Again the presentation of your home is critical. Small things like lighting can make a big difference with no money coming out of your pocket!

A clean home is inviting to buyers, whereas a dirty home can turn them away faster than just about anything. The easiest way to know your home is spotless and looking its best is to hire a professional cleaning company. Make sure your kitchen and baths are spotless. Buyers will pay closer attention to these areas. In addition, make sure your carpets are as clean as possible. If need be consider having your carpets professionally cleaned. This is one of those things where spending a few hundred dollars can save you thousands by preventing the buyer from thinking they need to replace the carpets immediately.

Many renovations are arguably a bad investment for sellers, as it is hard to get your money back in the sale. But if your real estate agent advises that you fix some things, like faulty wiring, a hole in the fence, a leaking toilet or a visible stain in the ceiling, you should do it. These are things that the buyer may balk at, or demand a lower price because they feel immediate attention is needed. Secondarily when the buyer does their home inspection more than likely they will be trying to renegotiate the sale price or worse asking to back out of the deal.

Aroma is powerful, and can easily drive someone away from buying your home. However, you may not even realize the smells are there. Ask an outsider that you trust, like your Realtor, to let you know if there are any unpleasant odors – like pet or cooking odors – and address them before you show. Believe it or not, pet odors can kill a home sale. This happens because some buyers fear they won’t be able to get rid of the odor once they purchase the house. Don’t take any kind of chance with home odors – remove them!

Many buyers are very focused on kitchens, which is why you want to make sure yours is reasonably appealing. Formica counter-tops from the 70s may need to be updated, and you might want to install a new appliance or two if the existing ones are in really bad shape. Most Real Estate agents will tell you that the kitchen is the most important room in the home. It makes sense as it is typically the place where we spend most of our time. Do what you can to make you kitchen is appealing as possible.

The people that are looking at your home are going to open every door, including closets and the garage. You may help your sale by making sure these areas are relatively organized. The better they look, the easier it is for buyers to imagine that they can fit all their things in the home.

It is hard for pet owners to imagine sometimes, but some people really don’t like pets. As a dog or cat owner, you may not want to hang out with such people, but they might make a great offer on your home. Take the pets somewhere safe and comfortable, like friends place. Having evidence of your pet, including their odors can be a real turn off to some people. Have a look at some of the best tips for selling your home with pets for some sound guidance.

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