Real Estate Tips

Staging Your Home to Sell This Spring

Home Staging Illustrated Graphic - Upper Valley NH Real EstateSpringtime is finally here! Which means spring selling season is around the corner which means it’s time to get your home ready to sell. Staging your home is an important step to ensuring you get the best offers. According to the National Association of Realtors, 81% of buyers say it’s easier to visualize a property as their future home if it has been staged. Below are 4 steps to getting your home ready to sell!


Don’t distract potential buyers with dust! A deep clean is a must when getting ready to show your home. Dusting, steam cleaning the carpets, and washing the windows are the first things you should tackle. Don’t forget to clean your closets and cabinets as well, since most potential buyers will be opening every door. 

Cleaning the outside of your home is just as important as the inside, it's your first opportunity to impress potential buyers. Sweeping cobwebs, weeding, mowing the lawn, adding a new welcome mat, and power washing decks and siding can go a long way. 


Clutter distracts potential buyers from seeing your home’s best features. When every cabinet in your home is full, it gives the subconscious impression that your home lacks space. The same goes for your garage! By removing clutter you give potential buyers a chance to see their stuff in your home. Think about tidying up as soon as you decide to sell your home so you don’t have to rush before a showing or an open house.  

Make Minor Upgrades

Minor upgrades go a long way. The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that you repair that squeaky doors, chipped paint, as well as any broken fixtures you have learned to live with. 

Freshening up your home with a few cans of paint can also make a big difference. Stay away from on-trend colors and go with something neutral. 

An easy way to freshen up your kitchen is by replacing door pulls. Think about updating doorknobs, light switches, and outlets to freshen up other areas of your home. 

Give Each Room a Purpose

Ensure that every room in your home has a defined purpose, even if it’s not the purpose you use the room for. For example, carving out an office space can really help a younger buyer envision themselves working from home, even if you don’t. The idea is to help potential buyers visualize how to maximize the available space.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Coule Smiling in the Rain - NH Real EstateWe’ve all heard the rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers,” and while that may be true, April showers can also bring basement flooding and a headache to the home selling process. Most of us in the Upper Valley are accustomed to the occasional spring flooding in our basements, but when it’s time to put your home on the market you may be wondering whether you need to tell potential buyers about it — the answer is yes and no. 

Most states require homeowners to give a written disclosure report to potential buyers. These reports require you to disclose all sorts of things about your house such as:

  • plumbing and sewage issues
  • water leakage of any type (including basement flooding)
  • termites or other infestations
  • roof defects
  • heating or air conditioning issues
  • property drainage problems
  • Foundation instabilities or cracks
  • problems with the title
  • issues with the neighbors that aren’t obvious

New Hampshire, however, is not as strict. Disclosure law in the Granite State only requires you to disclose information about a few specific aspects of your home:

  • information about the private sewage disposal system including its location, malfunctions, the date it was most recently serviced, and the name of the contractor who services the system. 
  • information about the type of private water supply system, including its location, malfunctions, date of installation, date of most recent water test, and whether or not you have experienced a problem (such as an unsatisfactory water test) with notations
  • information about your home’s insulation, including type and location
  • notices about radon gas, lead paint, and arsenic

Not only does New Hampshire have few regulations when it comes to seller disclosure, but courts adhere to caveat emptor — or buyer beware, which really goes back the Live Free or Die sentiment that our great state is founded upon. 

Despite having relaxed disclosure laws for sellers, New Hampshire does have realtor regulations which state that “the duties of [an agent] acting on behalf of a seller include treating all prospective buyers honestly [and] disclosing to a prospective buyer or tenant any physical, regulatory, mechanical, or on-site environmental condition affecting the subject property of which [they] have actual knowledge”. This disclosure must occur before any written offer is made on a property. 

For example, you are trying to sell your home in Grafton and your basement floods every Spring as the snow melts and the rains come and you tell your real estate agent that you only want to show your house on sunny days so potential buyers don’t see water in the basement, or similarly, your realtor comes to take photos of the property and notices flooding in the basement. The agent has a legal obligation to report these issues to potential buyers. However, agents are under no obligation to inspect properties for potential problems. 

Limited legislation on disclosure doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to disclose anything you are aware of (just to protect yourself down the road). The New Hampshire Association of Realtors provides a commonly used disclosure form which covers many critical areas of the home. Questions include how old the home is, whether it’s subject to any liens or lawsuits, and whether you are aware of any major issues such as with the heating, cooling, or plumbing. 

This form should give buyers a fairly comprehensive snapshot of any defects, but it is always a smart idea for buyers to commission an official home inspection — in the end, it’s better to sleep at night knowing these are absolutely no issues with your new home rather than finding out later there is a massive issue. 

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Does your home have the Top 7 things today's homeowners really want?

A new report, The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want, but Don’t Have, measured the gap between the home features people want and the features they currently have in their own homes.

Here’s what made the list, and what you can do to close your home’s satisfaction gap so you get top dollar when you’re ready to sell:


1. Energy Efficiency
Have an energy audit done to identify the best investment for your energy-improvement dollars.


2. Renovations
Replace worn flooring and repaint in neutral colors.


3. Updated Kitchen
You can replace your whole kitchen, or if you’re on a budget, paint the cabinets and update lighting and plumbing fixtures.


4. Aging-Friendly Design
Any time you do a major renovation, remodel with aging in mind. Consider adding a first-floor owner’s suite with a roll-in shower in the bath. When possible, replace hallways and any narrow doorways with an open floor plan.


5. Safe Neighborhood
Start a neighborhood watch.


6. Privacy
Plant hedges, put up a fence or add hardscaping features to increase the privacy of your outdoor spaces.


7. Storage Space
Add large closets when you remodel. Install organizers to maximize the storage space you already have in closets, the garage and outbuildings.

6 Common First Time Home Buying Mistakes


If you are a first-time home buyer, finding the right home for you and your family can be overwhelming and stressful.  There are so many decisions to make!  Before you start looking, make sure you're not committing one of these classic first-time buyer mistakes.


1. Not knowing what you can afford to buy

If you haven't been pre-approved, don't go shopping.  Understand the math of your future home loan or mortgage and know what you'll qualify for - this will stop you from looking at homes or neighborhoods that are beyond your financial reach.  Be aware that pre-qualifications are not the same as pre-approvals.  So make sure you know what you can afford with an official pre-approval notice.  A real estate agent can recommend lending institutions or banks.  Be sure you shop around for the best short- and long-term plans for your particular financial situation.


2. Ignoring the additional costs

Although you may be used to paying rent and utilities, there are more monthly and annual expenses associated with home ownership.  Some costs are easy to calculate prior to home ownership like property taxes, homeowner's insurance or even homeowner's association fees.  But there are a multitude of unforeseen additional costs like emergency repairs or replacements.  Along with regular maintenance costs, first-time home buyers should have a clear understanding of just how much it might cost to own and operate the home each month.  Most experts advise setting aside about 1%-5% of the cost of the home each year to save for future upgrades and maintenance costs. Although that might sound like a significant amount, knowing that you've saved money for emergency repairs will help alleviate stress on your paycheck.


3. Thinking a fixer-upper is easy and cheap

Although a few first-time home buyers purchase a home with the expectation of a full-scale renovation, most homebuyers simply want to move in and make it their own.  Making cosmetic changes like painting walls, replacing the front door or refinishing floors are fairly easy and inexpensive.  But all too often, first-time home buyers see a home as having unlimited potential without understanding how much it might actually cost to renovate.  They might also make the mistake of thinking they can do it all themselves.  It's too simple to think that you can tackle major structural changes on your own.  If you're tempted to purchase a home and really want an expert opinion as to potential costs, code upgrades, permits required or other important information, consider hiring a professional general contractor to tour the home with you and give you a realistic cost and time estimate for your desired renovations.


4. Not hiring a home inspector

Even if your bank doesn't require it, you should always have a home inspection contingency on your home purchase.  Hiring a licensed and experienced home inspector (ask us who we recommend!) who will thoroughly inspect your home is an important step on the home buying experience.  Regardless of the age and condition of the home, first-time home buyers can benefit from the expert advice of a home inspector.  Home inspectors spend several hours assessing a home and provide a lengthy, written report on their findings.  Although they cannot say if the work was done well, they can let you know if the home was built to code.


5. Thinking you can do it on your own

Although you've probably done your homework, it's always best to hire a licensed real estate agent, especially if this is your first home. Real estate agents know the market, they understand the comps (the competitive prices of comparable homes), and can help you identify the home that will best fit your needs.


6. Being distracted by over-the-top features

A potential home should have good curb appeal - this means that the homeowners have taken the time to fix up their home.  Expect a certain amount of investment from the owners; they may have invested in a few upgrades aimed to please potential buyers, but don't let yourself be distracted by over-the-top improvements or home features that you won't end up using.  A swimming pool, for example, may have you dreaming of hosting summer parties however, swimming pools are high maintenance and very expensive.  Same goes for elaborate landscaping or rooms dedicated to a specific hobby (like a wine cellar, craft room or gym).  You may luck out and be the buyer that is right for this home or you may hate these features and have to spend money removing them.


3 Key Tips To Help Ensure Your Mortgage Pre-Approval Is Not Declined

If you’re thinking about buying a new home and using a mortgage to help cover some of the purchase costs, it’s a good idea to get an initial pre-approval from your lender before putting in an offer.

In today’s blog post we’ll share three quick tips that can help to ensure that your mortgage pre-approval isn’t declined.


Demonstrate Your Income and Good Credit

A mortgage is a major financial transaction and one that carries a certain amount of risk for the lender. It’s your goal to help them see that you have the ability to make your monthly payments and that there is very little risk in approving your mortgage. Be ready to demonstrate all of your sources of income and that your credit rating is clean.

It may be worth paying for your credit report before starting the pre-approval process so you can clean up any black marks or false reports and so that you can see what the lender will see when they check your credit history.


Choose the Right Property at the Right Price

As the home you’re buying will be used as collateral to back the mortgage, the lender will need to see that there is enough value in the home to cover the cost of the mortgage should you fail to pay it back. The “loan to value” or LTV ratio is the amount of your mortgage divided by the value of the home. For example, if you’re borrowing $150,000 to buy a home valued at $200,000, you’ll have a LTV ratio of 75 percent. Keep in mind that each lender will have their own target LTV that they prefer to work with, so you may need to shop around a bit.


Start the Process with Multiple Lenders

Finally, if you feel that your income or credit history isn’t perfect you may want to consider visiting a couple of different mortgage lenders to see what they can offer you. There are dozens of different mortgage products on the market today, and each lender has their own set of qualification criteria that they will use to assess risk and whether they feel that you can afford to pay the mortgage back. Getting a second opinion may help you to discover a more suitable mortgage or one with a better interest rate.


If you have more questions about loans and mortgages, or don't know where to start... ask us!  We work with plenty of lenders around the Upper Valley on a regular basis and we're more than happy to help you! 

How You Can Get The Full Selling Price You Want For Your Home

When it comes to selling your home and getting the full selling price you want, there are certain tactics and methods you can employ to ensure that this wish becomes a reality.

Avoiding the commonly made mistakes that end up lowering the value of your home and discouraging people from viewing it is ultimately the key in getting top dollar, as well carrying out the showings and sale of your home in a professional manner.

Listen to the professionals, and make sure you employ these real estate sale methods to get your desired number on your home sale.


Listing Tactic: Adding A Buffer

Always dependent on the type of market you find yourself in, a common and successful tactic in getting the price you really want for your home is adding a buffer on the list price.

This means that if you want $500,000 for your home, you should list your home somewhere around $510,000 to $520,000 to allow for some negotiating room. Even if you'd prefer not to negotiate, the majority of buyers will always assume that you have room to come down on the price, and will put in their offers accordingly.


Overpricing: Avoid At All Costs

With that being said, you don't want to overprice your home too much so as to discourage potential buyers from looking at it, or to put your home outside of a financial bracket. Make sure you speak to your trusted real estate advisor on exactly what the right list price should be to obtain your desired value.


Increase Desire: Have Your Home Staged

In order to get the price you want for your home, you need to make a good impression on the prospective buyers. Having your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the amount of interest you receive on your home, perhaps even creating multiple offers - which is the best situation a home seller can be in!


Appeal To Online Shoppers With Professional Photos

With so much of today's modern real estate shopping happening online, you want to ensure that your home has a strong online presence with professional photos and a digital floor plan available to prospective buyers. Also make sure that all information online is full and complete, and presents your home in the best light possible.


Always Say Yes To Open Houses And Showings

Especially in a hot market, you want to ensure that you leave your home empty for your real estate agent on weekends so that they can hold it open to the public. This is especially important early on in your list date so that the buyers on the market who are ready to make a move can see your house right away.

You should also apply the same importance to showings, and ensure that each showing request is promptly responded to with an easy "yes."

If you put these tactics into your home selling plan, you will find that it will be much easier to obtain more interest from buyers. And with more interest, it will be much more likely that you will be able to obtain the price you want for your home.

So don't underestimate the importance of these factors, and discuss them today with your trusted mortgage professional.


To discuss how to best sell your Enfield area property with local realtors, contact us today. We're excited to hear from you!

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels are Becoming a Popular Renovation

If you're looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make - provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.


Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home

While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.


A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time

As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.


Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost

Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they'll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

3 Critical Tips To Improve Your Credit Score And Mortgage Terms

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 05:52 AM PDT 3 Critical Tips To Improve Your Credit Score And Mortgage TermsWhen you are looking for a mortgage for your home, your credit score is very important. Any potential lender will check your score and will use the number to assess your creditworthiness and the interest rate that they offer you. The better your credit score the lower the mortgage interest rates will be available to you, as the lender will be able to see that you can handle credit well. However, if you have a very bad credit score, it could be causing you to be offered high interest rates on your mortgage that could cost you thousands over the years. Improving your credit score before searching for a mortgage will ensure that you get the best rate possible. But what can you do to improve your credit score? Here are three tips that can help you improve your credit score and your mortgage loan: Be Patient Remember that improving your bad credit will be a little bit like losing weight. You might not see results right away but it is the long term benefit of your good habits that will make all the difference. When it comes to all of the ways to improve your credit score, there are no quick-fixes and the best way to rebuild your credit is to be responsible over time. Check Your Credit Report For Errors If you dont know precisely what your credit score currently is, the first step will be for you to obtain a credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report and check it over carefully for errors. There might be an error on the report that is making your score appear worse than it should be. Set Up Payment Reminders If you have trouble remembering to make your credit payments by the due date, this can be one of the biggest negative factors bringing down your score. You can ask your bank to set up convenient reminders through the online banking portals so that you will receive an email or a text whenever your payments are due. Your credit score is very important when looking for a New England home mortgage, as it will mean that you receive much better program options and interest rates. Keep these tips in mind so that you can enjoy the best rates possible on your mortgage. For more tips on how to improve your prospects for the best mortgage, feel free to contact your local, trusted mortgage professional. via The Market Street Settlement Group Blog