patio ways to elevate your backyard (and outdoor spaces)

Ways to Elevate Your Backyard (and Outdoor Spaces)

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Your backyard is just as important as the interior of your home. If you are thinking of selling in the future, 67% of buyers say a private outdoor space is essential in their home search. They want a safe space for pets and children to play and to entertain and promote healthy living. Here are 7 ideas to elevate your backyard and outdoor spaces.

1. Build a Patio or Deck

The average ROI for a professional deck is around 75%, and between 30% to 60% for a patio. What’s the difference? A patio is paved, while a deck is a platform made from lumber or composite. Both increase the square footage of your house and create a space in the fresh air to visit with guests. You can also add furniture or a creative cover, like an awning, pergola, or canopy, to your deck or patio to enhance the space.

2. Outdoor Kitchen

If you love entertaining and cooking, you will love an outdoor kitchen. Rather than go in and out of the house, you can serve and entertain guests seamlessly in one place. Alfresco kitchens are fully functional and can include cabinetry, a grill, bar, wine fridge, or wood-fired pizza oven.

3. Swimming Pool

A water escape is great if you live in a hot climate. Special features, like pool seats, waterfalls, and lighting, also enhance your pool’s appearance. Just know: a pool does not increase your home value any more than 7%, so only put one in if you plan to enjoy it for a couple years.

4. Fire Pit

Spark up warmth and memories around an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. These require little maintenance, are tasteful, and great for every occasion and season. You can spend hours of quality time around one, making conversation and delicious s’mores, and get a sense of the great outdoors in your own backyard.

5. Cultivate a Garden

Gardening cultivates good physical and mental health. Gardens elevate your outdoor spaces with greenery and colorful flowers. You can also plant a produce garden. It will give you fresh, organic food, and you’ll feel good about the fruits of your labor.

6. Build a Better Fence

Good fences make great neighbors. You care about your privacy, right? You want to feel safe and know your activities are your own, and not privy to snoopy neighbors. Build a tall, sturdy fence to contain your backyard oasis and keep children and pets safe.

7. Add Ambient Lighting

The right lights and lighting features can make your outside feel like an extension of your home. They help highlight other features, and promote a sense of awareness and safety at night.

Elevate Your Sale, Sell to an Investor

Elevating your outdoor spaces is great if you plan on living in the house for the next three to five years. Otherwise, don’t waste money on what you won’t enjoy. Instead, elevate your sale by selling to an investor.

Most investors make a cash offer on a house AS-IS. Your backyard can be a brown plot, dead and unkempt. An investor will still buy the house and fix the outdoor spaces themselves. The interior of your house can also be neglected or mid-renovation, and an investor will still make an offer. You can enjoy a quick closing and use the money to elevate the backyard of your next house.

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How to Improve Curb Appeal Before Selling a House

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Curb appeal makes the first impression as a buyer pulls up to your house. A beautiful outside accomplishes four things:

  • It sets the mood;
  • Invites people to see the inside of the house;
  • Increases home value; and
  • Makes it easier to sell.

Here are seven ways you can improve curb appeal before selling your house.

1. Upgrade Your Mailbox

If your mailbox is on the road, it loses appeal after so many years of direct sunlight, bad weather, and slow degradation. You can replace your mailbox for as little as $20. Just be mindful of city and community regulations when you put in a new mailbox.

2. Paint the Front Door

Painting your front door can add brightness and a pop of personality. A gallon of paint starts at $30. Choose a bold color that makes your house stand out and compliments the rest of the house colors.

3. Dress Up the Front Porch

The front stoop or porch connects your interior to the exterior and provides an additional living space. For this reason, you want to create a welcoming, functional entryway. Keep things symmetrical by placing identical lanterns or potted plants on both sides of the front steps. Install a porch swing or add outdoor furniture, which you can find cheap at antique or second-hand stores. Be sure to put out the “Welcome” mat too.

4. Replace Lighting

Lights make an entryway safe and appealing. When choosing light fixtures, make sure they match the style of your house and provide adequate brightness. You can also add accent lighting to trees or a walking path to increase curb appeal at night.

5. Landscape

Your front yard creates the bulk of curb appeal. Depending on the season you’re in, you may do more or less work. Springtime is often the best time to do serious landscaping, including pruning the bushes, weeding the beds, laying fresh mulch, and mowing the grass. Spring is also the best time to plant flowers to add some color to an otherwise green yard.

6. Pressure-wash

Power-wash the house siding, walkways, and driveway to remove dirt, grime, and mold. You will be delighted, maybe even surprised, to see the actual color of these surfaces once the stains are gone. Be mindful of caulking and the roof, though, since pressure-washing can cause damage.

7. Perform Maintenance

The outside of your house takes a beating. Storms and age make it deteriorate. Be sure to:

  • Replace broken fencing, railings, and cracked siding;
  • Stain the porch, clean windows, window screens, and gutters;
  • Inspect the roof too, and make repairs.

Instead of All This Work, Sell As-Is to an Investor

If you do not have the time to spruce, landscape, or make repairs, consider selling to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house as-is. They do not mind if the front yard is overgrown or brown and dying. You can enjoy a quick closing and focus your time and energy on the curb appeal of your next house.

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How to Prepare Your House For Sale in the Spring

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Springtime is often the best time to sell a house. The real estate market sees a rise in inventory and more buyers search for a new home. To stand out from the competition, here are six tips to prepare your house for sale in the spring.

Spruce Up the Front Yard

When buyers pull up to your house, the outside is their first impression of the property. You want that impression to be good, so take the time to landscape. Prune the bushes, weed the garden, rake leaves, lay fresh mulch, and mow the grass. Also, add a pop of color with bright perennials.

Transform the Front Door

The front door is an extension of the landscape. Make it clean, elegant, and inviting. Paint the door, replace faded door numbers, and power wash the front stoop. If it rains, put out an umbrella stand so buyers keep umbrellas outside, and not drip on your floors. Finally, put out the “Welcome” mat.

Perform Seasonal Maintenance

Buyers want to see a well-kept house. If they see overgrowth, stains and dust, the notion to buy will deter them. For this reason, real estate agents rank these five items as must-fixes in the spring:

  • Clean rain gutters
  • Test the HVAC unit and change filters
  • Inspect the roof
  • Clean siding
  • Power wash driveway and walking paths

Additional items to consider include washing the windows and wiping down all shelves and cabinets. You might also polish hardwood floors and add fresh coats of paint to the walls and outside of the house.

Declutter Spaces

Buyers want to envision themselves in your house, but junked-up spaces prevent this. Remove the leaning tower of moving boxes. Throw out unopened mail and scattered papers. Put away toiletries, medicine, and other personal items. Go through every room with a donation box and fill it with excess clothing and knick-knacks. This not only frees up spaces, but also makes moving easy with less stuff to pack.

Note: your house must stay clean for every showing. Make sure new clutter does not accumulate, and every space stays immaculate. If you are busy, you can hire professional cleaning services.

Eliminate Odors

The only thing worse than touring a messy home is smelling it. Funky odors deter everyone. Rather than go overboard with scented sprays, take the time to deep clean. Steam carpets and draperies, furniture too. Scrub counters, clean dishes, and remove laundry piles.

The toughest odors to eliminate include pets and cigarette smoke. As you clean, open windows and turn on fans to increase airflow. Add a few drops of essential oils, like lemon or orange, to a mister and spray each room. Till you sell, concentrate smoking habits outside. Stow litter boxes outside, or ask a friend or family member to keep your pet for a while.

Take Photos

Over 95% of buyers search for their next home online. In case your house does not sell right away, but remains listed through the summer to the end of the year, take photos. Photograph the lovely interior, but more importantly the exterior and landscaping. Your yard looks its best in the spring, and you want online shoppers to see this.

Rather Than Do All This Work, Sell to an Investor

If you want to forgo these efforts and sell your house as-is, consider selling it to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a house, regardless of how it looks or smells. They do not care about clutter or messes. You can enjoy a quick closing and spend the spring moving into your new home.

Couple in front of house with For Sale sign they are selling the house by owner FSBO

How to Sell Your House by Owner (FSBO)

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Selling your home by owner, without an agent, is possible. It can be a challenge, but once you know the process, it is doable. All you need is a strategy with an outline of key steps.

Step 1: Determine the Fair Market Value

This step is crucial. If you price the house too low, you walk away with less money than it is worth. Price it too high, and the house could sit on the market for months.

Use online real estate valuation sites, like Zillow or Trulia, to get an estimated value. This could be off by thousands of dollars, so get a second opinion. Ask a real estate agent to provide a competitive market analysis. This service is typically free but may come with a sales pitch. To avoid this, pay a licensed appraiser for the most accurate estimate.

Step 2: Prep the House for Sale

Pretend you are the buyer and walk through your house. What might a buyer notice and not like? Are there flaws? What about needed repairs? You must be objective. If necessary, bring in an outsider, like a professional stager or home inspector.

Buyers want to envision themselves living in your house. Declutter and clean living spaces to make them visually appealing. If you are too busy, hire professional cleaning services.

Step 3: Market For Sale By Owner

There is no single way to market a house. For sale by owner (FSBO) listings appear on consumer-facing listing sites like Zillow all the time. Consider listing on the multiple listing service (MLS). It is the largest, most accurate database of for-sale homes. Only licensed real estate agents can post on the MLS, but for a flat listing fee, an agent will list your house.

Traditional market house options include yard signs, flyers, and open houses. If you market your house online and use these options, you improve your chances of selling. The house gets noticed, and buyers will schedule walkthroughs.

Step 4: Negotiate Terms of Sale

Sell by owner means you must negotiate terms of sale with buyers and their agents. Be prepared for give-and-take situations. Buyers will offer less than your asking price and may ask for seller concessions. These include you paying for the appraisal, inspection fee, or a portion of the closing costs.

Step 5: Handle the Closing

Closings are legal matters overseen by closing attorneys or title agents. Once you choose the desired party, they will outline the required procedures. It is important to keep buyers in the loop. The biggest obstacle is the buyer’s mortgage. If it is not approved, the deal falls apart. Keep the mortgage agent informed of closing details as well.

Skip These Steps

If you would like to forgo these steps, consider selling your house to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer regardless of how a house looks or its condition. You can enjoy a quick closing with fewer steps, less paperwork,  and stress.

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How to Sell a House with Pets at Home

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Pet owners love their pets, but Fido or Fluffy could make selling your house a challenge. Buyers want to envision themselves and their own pets living in your home. Your furry friend could stifle that vision. Follow these steps to show and sell a house with pets.

Remove Evidence

Your home must be staged for photos and walkthroughs. Remove evidence of your pets. Put away the chew toys, scratch posts, food and water dishes—store cages and crates. Clean litter boxes and keep them out of sight.

Deodorize

You are accustomed to the smell of your dog or cat, but buyers will notice odors right away. Scented candles and perfumed sprays will not mask these odors but often make them worse. Try pet-specific deodorizers on carpets and fabrics, or get all textiles professionally steamed.

Mass Cleaning

This is important even if you have no pets. Your home must be clean to make a good impression. Sweep floors, clean carpets, and vacuum furniture to remove pet hair and dander. Clean windows of paw prints and drool marks. Mop up pet stains. If you have a fish tank or other animal enclosure that cannot be easily moved, make sure the glass is squeaky clean.

Repair Pet Damage

Remember when your puppy or kitten chewed on posts or clawed the curtains? Even fully grown, they can scratch up the floors or dig up the carpets. These damages must be addressed if you are to sell a home.

Spruce Up the Yard

Dogs love to play, run, dig, and roll around in the yard. They also do their business outside. This leaves your lawn less green and less pleasant to walk across. It helps if you clean up after your dog and spruce up the landscape. If your pooch was in the front yard, keep in mind that curb appeal matters in a sale. If buyers do not like what they see when they pull up, they may not care to see inside the home.

Relocate Your Pet

The best way to keep your house clean and make a sale is to relocate your pet with a close friend or family member. This will be a temporary arrangement till the house is sold. It also spares you problems with buyers who are afraid of dogs or allergic to pet hair.

If you want to keep your pet with you and avoid the hassle of the aforementioned activities, consider selling your home to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a home regardless of animal tenants, pet damage, or odors. You can enjoy a quick closing and get you and your pet into your next home right away.

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How to Sell a House in 5 Days

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Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and you find yourself needing to pack up and move. It could be the family is growing, or maybe the kids move out, and now there is too much room; other times, it is a change in careers or relocation. Whatever the reason, you need to sell your home fast. Here are 5 tips on how to sell your house in 5 days.

Tip 1: Offer Financial Incentives

Buying a home can be just as stressful as selling one. Buyers can feel intimidated, especially if this is their first home. Offering incentives can help buyers feel more confident and satisfied with their purchase. Incentives can include paying the first year of the home warranty or the first couple months of HOA fees, paying for part of the closing costs or repairs found during the home inspection, or including furniture and appliances with the home.

Tip 2: Price Your Home Below the Market Value

Buyers who watch the home market in your area are more likely to jump at a property that is priced at least 5% lower than the competition. If you receive several offers, you might spark a bidding war to get the best deal, which might be above your asking price.

Tip 3: Stage the Home Properly

Nothing puts off buyers like a crowded home. Sell what you do not need and get rid of clutter before cleaning and staging the rooms. You want to depersonalize and decorate so when buyers walkthrough, they can imagine themselves living in the home.

Tip 4: Make Necessary Repairs

If a home inspector finds issues with your home, it can slow the sale progression or put a buyer off completely. Consider hiring an inspector before listing the home to identify and fix those issues that might deter buyers.

Tip 5: Sell to an Investor

Selling to a buyer can take more than 5 days since most homebuyers have to get approved for a loan, and there are other delays like the appraisal and home inspection. At best, you might get an offer from a buyer in the first 5 days you list the home for sale. If you want to sell fast and forgo incentives, staging, and repairs, consider selling your home to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a property regardless of its looks or state of repair. A cash offer saves you the time spent waiting for a buyer to get bank approval, and you actually save money with zero closing costs, repair, or cleanup costs. You can enjoy a quick, flexible closing in as little as 5 days and transition to a new home for that next stage of life.

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How to Decorate for Christmas When Your House is for Sale

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No one wants to be a Scrooge, but if you want to sell a home during the holidays, you have to be careful about spreading holiday cheer throughout the house. This is not to say you absolutely cannot decorate for Christmas; lights and merry colors can make a home feel warm and inviting to buyers. However, too much mirth can crowd and even disorient buyers when they try to imagine themselves in the house. Here are some ways you can decorate your home for the holidays without jeopardizing your chances of selling.

Keep it secular.

You can have the manger scene, a menorah, or kinara out for personal celebrations, but be aware that a buyer may have different beliefs. For this reason, we recommend you put such symbols away during showings. We understand that it can be sensitive for you as well, and the choice to put these decorations out of sight is optional; however, consider the urgency to sell your home when making your decision.

Depersonalize decorations.

To help buyers envision themselves in your home, avoid putting out greeting cards, family photos, and family-sentiment items like “Best Grandma” tree ornaments. Your home will soon be someone else’s home, and putting out these personal tokens can upstage the buyer’s vision of them living there.

Appreciate classic decorations.

A simply decorated Christmas tree, a holly wreath on the front door, or a mantelpiece with ivy and candles are all elegant accents that pleasantly warm the home atmosphere but do not distract or overwhelm buyers.

Avoid too many lights.

Opt-out of colorful, flashing lights on the front lawn, and nix the inflatable Santa, snowmen, and reindeer. Too much merry can be tacky when selling a home. Instead, simple white string lighting can highlight the home’s architecture and draw eyes to attractive greenery.

Match the colors.

Make sure your decorations match the color scheme of your rooms. If the living room walls are a soothing blue, choose snowflakes and silver accents over clashing reds. If the dining room has an earthy tone, put out forest greens and golds. Contrasting colors disorient and put off buyer minds.

Clear the stage.

Staging a home is a delicate practice, and if rooms are already cluttered, adding Christmas ornaments will not improve the look and feel of a space. Look at showcase examples, model home photos, and clean up your home. Once the room is clear of distractions, you can add delightful holiday accents to cheer up these spaces.

If you have already decked the halls and do not want to take things down, consider selling your home to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer without paying mind to your displays of holiday cheer. Enjoy your traditional holiday flair as well as the joy of a merry sale and quick closing.

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Top 5 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

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The thought of selling a home over the holidays can be intimidating. ‘Tis the season for other things – fun, family moments, wholesome meals, and gift-giving. The greatest gift right now would be to offload your home and fetch a merry price for it. These five tips on preparing your home to sell it during the holidays (or low season) are our small gift to you.

Tip 1: Deck the halls, but not too much

Too much clutter and sparkle is visually overwhelming. Too large or too many decorations can make rooms busy, crowded, and distract eyes. Also, remember that buyers want to envision their own furniture and belongings in these rooms, and so many loud, bright decorations can dominate the scene. Keep it simple.

Tip 2: Maintain curb appeal

The outside of a home is just as important as the inside. During the fall, trees drop their leaves, and bare trees expose more of the home. Spruce up the yard – rake leaves, trim grass and bushes, but also clean gutters, touch up paint, power wash the driveway, and keep all foot surfaces free of ice or snow to prevent slipping hazards.

Tip 3: Take quality pictures

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Start with the outside: a barren or snow-covered landscape does not (typically) sell well. If possible, take exterior photos a month or two before the autumn season, and make sure the curb appeal attracts. Outdoor features, like a swimming pool or hot tub, also look better in the summertime. Interior photos should show clean, showcase-worthy rooms, preferably without seasonal decorations.

Tip 4: Winterize the home

Seasonal maintenance is always a good idea, whether you presently live in the home or leave it vacant till it sells. Essential steps, like inspecting the furnace and protecting against frozen pipes, keep the home functioning through the cold season, so neither you nor future buyers have to worry about related repairs.

Tip 5: Make it cozy

The weather outside is frightful, so make your home delightful. During showings, turn up the heat, light a fire in the fireplace, play soft classical music, and offer homemade goodies or a steamy mug of hot chocolate or hot apple cider. The more comfortable buyers feel in your home, the longer they will stay to look around.

 

If you are short on time and want to enjoy the holidays, consider selling your home to an investor. Most investors will make a cash offer on a property as-is, be it old, outdated, or a fixer-upper. This saves you the hassle of buyer negotiations, home repairs, and uncertain financing, and instead, you enjoy a sure deal backed by a quick closing. Cheers to you!

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