All posts by Kate & Tony Thomas

When It Comes to Home Staging, Start Small

The secret to selling your home for more money in less time is all in how you present it. Your home should look so beautiful—both online and in person—that home buyers can’t help but fall in love at first sight. The best way to create that wonderful first impression? Start small and focus on the details. Here are a few simple home staging tips that can have a significant impact on your home sale.

Start with Your Entryway

front door of a homeHome buyers decide whether a home is worth a visit based on how it looks in listing photos. You can impress buyers in seconds by paying special attention to the area around your front door. Make sure your entryway is well lit, is free of clutter, and looks inviting. (Feel free to ask for a second opinion from a friend, neighbor, or even your real estate agent.)

When it’s time for showings, don’t let a squeaky front door ruin a buyer’s first impression of your home. Spray WD-40 on creaky hinges, tighten any screws that are loose, and take care of any other issues well before the first home buyer steps over the threshold.

Move On to the Kitchen

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, as the saying goes. Follow these tips to enhance your kitchen’s appeal:

  • Replace old knobs and handles with stylish new hardware to give your kitchen an updated look.
  • Decorate your counters with bowls of fruit or potted plants to create an artsy pop of color.
  • Store unnecessary appliances and clutter out of sight.
  • Replace any light bulbs that have burned out.
  • Prior to showings, bake cookies to make your kitchen smell like home.

Focus on the Bathrooms

bathroom that is clean and clutter-freeNothing makes a better first impression than a squeaky-clean bathroom. Wipe down all surfaces including the inside of your toilet, eliminate any surface mold and grime from the bathtub or shower, and lay out a stack of carefully positioned hand towels as a finishing touch.

Make Your Windows Sparkle

Clean your windows inside and out, and replace any screens if necessary. Since it’s a smart idea to open your windows and let the natural light in, you can impress potential buyers with how well you have maintained your home.

Want More Home Staging or Home Selling Tips?

When you focus on these small home staging tips, it will be easy to attract home buyers to your front door and impress them with the details. If you would like additional home staging and cleaning tips, or if you’re considering selling your home and want to talk about your plans, contact us. We are happy to help.

3 Home Buying Mistakes That are Far Too Easy to Make

potential buyers staring at a houseThis time of year is ideal for looking for homes. Since springtime is a popular home selling season, you have plenty of choices when it comes to finding listings in your preferred location, in your ideal price range, and with your favorite features. With all of these options, it’s going to be a breeze buying your perfect home… right?

There are some common mistakes to be aware of when searching for and buying your next home. But with the right resources and a team of professionals on your side, purchasing a home should be hassle-free.

1. Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Buying a home is an emotional experience. While you’re touring a home, you can’t help but feel an emotional connection as you imagine hanging your photos and decorations in the living room, cooking dinners in the kitchen, and making precious memories with your friends, family, and new neighbors.

But be careful; if your feelings cloud your judgment, you may find yourself overpaying for your dream home, jumping in too quickly to make an offer, or lowballing and risk losing your favorite home.

home buyer tracking financesHow to Avoid This Home Buying Mistake

Arm yourself with facts and objective advice, such as your list of wants and needs, to keep you from making any emotional home buying mistakes.

2. Spending More Than You Can Comfortably Afford

Just because you qualify for a certain mortgage amount doesn’t mean you should spend all of that money on your new home. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you are making monthly payments that you are not comfortable paying.

How to Avoid This Home Buying Mistake

Check your budget to determine the maximum amount you want to pay per month, then talk with a trusted local lender. Contact us and we can make recommendations.

3. Not Relying on a Real Estate Professional

When buying a car, savvy shoppers do their homework to make sure they’re making the best purchase: taking the car for a test drive, asking about the repair history, and having a trusted auto shop inspect the car thoroughly. However, buying a car can be intimidating, since no one is on your side to help you negotiate the best price and understand the paperwork.

Buying a home is very similar to buying a car. But instead of having to make all of your decisions yourself, you can work with a real estate agent who has your best interests in mind.

real estate agent showing a homeYour agent will be able to give you in-depth information about homes and neighborhoods you may like, connect you with trusted service providers when you need to order a home inspection or want to make home improvements, and offer objective advice to help you make the best decisions.

Not working with a real estate agent when buying a home may cause you to lose time and money — and possibly the home that you love.

How to Avoid This Home Buying Mistake

Talk with a reputable local real estate agent about your home buying goals and how the agent will help you find the home of your dreams. An experienced real estate agent will know the area, provide a home’s history, and be a trusted advisor.

Buying a Home? Talk to Our Experts

If you’re considering buying a home in our area, let’s talk about your home buying goals. Have a few listings that you are interested in touring? Contact us and we can schedule a showing!

Say “Hello” to Warmer Weather: Spring Home Décor Tips for 2017

Nothing says spring quite like a bouquet of fresh flowers sitting on the coffee table and the sun streaming through the windows. Homeowners love any excuse to freshen up their home décor and welcome the new season, and if Pinterest is any indication, people love to bring the latest trends into their living spaces.

Stay on Top of the Trends with Your Spring Home Décor

vase of flowers in a homeFlowers, plants, and cheerful colors are traditional staples of springtime, but 2017 has a few unexpected twists for interior decorating. Looking for inspiration for your own home? Here are just a few home décor ideas to try.

Decorate Your Home with “Greenery”

Pantone’s Color of the Year is a vibrant, nature-inspired hue called “Greenery,” and it’s sure to liven up your living spaces.

Showcase Soft Textures

Velvet, cotton, and plush yarns are textures of choice this year. Bringing these soft, luxurious textures into your home, either with new furniture or decorations, will make you feel even more cozy and comfortable.

Use Navy as an Accent Color

One hot spring home décor idea for 2017 is using navy as an accent color for cabinets, walls, or couches. Rather than black, which can make rooms look small and uninviting, navy enhances your living spaces and creates a modern look.

living room with navy walls and beige floorsGo Neutral with Your Home Décor

Out with the bold, in with the new—muted colors, that is. A popular spring home décor trend that’s on the rise is using neutral colors like white, beige, pale gray, or even a faint pink.

These colors will help you create clean, sophisticated, and welcoming spaces that will impress both you and your guests day after day.

Spring Home Décor Impresses Home Buyers, Too

Since spring is a popular time for selling homes, many homeowners turn to spring home décor trends for home staging and curb appeal ideas.

Are you selling your home this spring? We can help! Contact us for more tips to prepare your home for showings and increase your home’s value. When you’re ready to put your home on the market, just give us a call.

7 Things That Will Help Your Home Sell Faster

Home sellers need to think of their property as a product instead of a home. The better your home looks, the faster it will sell. Often what helps a home sell faster is also what helps it sell for more. Surprisingly enough, just having a low price isn’t the key. Today’s buyer wants to move right in, and they will pay a premium for this.

Doing these 7 things will help to make sure your home sells quickly and for top dollar:

house free of clutter1. Declutter

Decluttering makes every room look larger and feel neater. Buyers have trouble imagining themselves in a cluttered house. By removing or storing things you don’t need – including furniture – you create a roomy, comfortable feeling that will be inviting to prospective buyers.

When decluttering, remember: less is more. When in doubt, throw it out!

2. Clean, Clean, Clean

A clean home shows the prospective buyer it has been well cared for. Be sure every room smells as good as it looks, paying special attention to pet areas, nurseries, and bathrooms. Buyers will be impressed with sparkling clean kitchens and bathrooms. Consider hiring professionals to clean carpets, steam clean tile and grout, and paint stained walls and dinged woodwork. A little paint goes a long way toward brightening up a home. Buyers like move-in condition and will pay more for it!

3. Make Repairs

Making repairs eliminates buyer objections before they arise. If you think something is too much trouble to fix, chances are a buyer will, as well. Buyers tend to think repairs cost a lot more than they do. Just like cleaning, a home in good repair reinforces how well a home has been maintained.

4. Depersonalize

Neutralizing helps buyers imagine their own things in your home and picture themselves living there. Neutral paint, décor, and flooring create a home for any lifestyle.

Today’s buyers gravitate towards a “greige” palette and clean lines without fussy window treatments. Eliminating distracting colors, particularly from living spaces, lets buyers concentrate on positive impressions.

5. Remodel or Upgradestaged kitchen Before and After

The best returns come from the smallest improvements; painted woodwork and cabinetry, new paint, new carpet, refinished hardwood floors, and new hardware all create a fresh new look for the home for minimal cost.

If you want to go a step further, consider upgrading appliances, counter tops, and fixtures (both lighting and faucets).

Major remodeling such as replacing kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, and windows should only be done if necessary. Although doing major upgrades will help a home sell faster, the time it takes can be quite long and you are less likely to see a dollar-for-dollar return.

6. Stage Your Yard

Buyers make an instant determination of how desirable a home is based on the curb appeal. A beautiful front yard creates a good first impression. Once you remove weeds, rake leaves, trim hedges and walkways, and prune trees, you can begin to stage the front of the house! New plants, flowers, and mulch will brighten your yard. Beautiful pots create a welcoming feel. A fresh coat of paint on the front door and trim really pays off!

7. Stage the HouseStaging - Dining Room Before and After - photo credit-resized

Staging is often dismissed by agents as unimportant, most often because of cost. At Thomas & Company, we believe that good staging increases the value and appeal of a home. A stager looks at a home through a “buyer’s lens” and can make suggestions for how showcase your home to its best advantage. We believe so strongly in the power of staging that we even include a session with our home stager as part of our marketing services.
A well-staged home photographs better, too. And since the photos of your home are most often its first “showing” to a potential buyer, quality photography is vital. As with curb appeal, the better the home looks, the faster it will sell.

Considering Selling Your Home?

We can help you sell your home faster and for top dollar. Contact us at 614.939.1234 and let’s talk about your home selling goals.

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Place of Your Own

Living in an apartment or rental home does have its perks: You can test out different neighborhoods and locations, you have the flexibility to move, and you have access to great amenities like a gym or pool. But there’s a reason that owning a home, rather than renting one, is a highly desired achievement.

Maybe the thought of having your own place has crossed your mind only recently, or maybe you’re regularly saving a chunk of your paycheck for that future down payment. No matter where you are in the process of considering homeownership, here are the unmistakable signs that you’re ready to buy your first home.

new friends hanging out

1. You Want to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Because renters don’t tend to live in one apartment for very long, it can be difficult to meet people who live in your building. But when you buy a home and are more invested in your community, it’s easier to forge lasting friendships.

homeowner customizing his house

2. You Want to Customize Your Space

Many rental communities have limits on what you can customize in your unit. You may be able to paint your walls a different color, but you may not be able to replace the countertops or appliances that come standard in your apartment.

homeowners in a spacious room

3. You Want More Space or Amenities

You daydream about having a home with a large kitchen, dining room, basement, garage, or maybe even a home office or bonus room for your hobbies.

sign pointing to home for sale

4. You Regularly Drive by Your Favorite Neighborhoods

You have a list of at least three communities (or maybe even houses) that you would love to live in when you’re ready to buy a home. You might even attend an open house or two.

two parents and a child

5. You’re Eager to Put Down Roots

A home is more than a financial investment. It’s your own space, a private retreat, and the start of a new chapter in your life. You’ll love being able to make lasting memories with your new neighbors and enjoying all the amenities near your home.

woman scrolling through a laptop

6. You’re Constantly Browsing Home Improvement Sites

Instead of scrolling through social media, you’re scrolling through home decor websites or binge-watching HGTV. You now have dozens of ideas for how you’re going to decorate everything from the bathrooms to the entryway.

home buyers searching for homes

7. You Have Money Saved Up for a Down Payment

A down payment is essential to buying the home of your dreams. But once you see your savings account grow, you know your new home is just within reach.

We Can Help You Buy Your First Home

You have plenty of decisions to make when considering homeownership, but we can help you with all of the details. Let’s talk about your plans, and we can work together to search for homes, make an offer on your favorite property, negotiate the best price, and navigate all the steps to closing. Call us and let’s get started!

7 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Seller’s Agent

talking with a real estate professionalYour home is likely the largest financial investment you have, so it makes sense to carefully choose the right agent to represent you when you sell it. The best real estate agent will walk you through the whole process, showcase your home in the best light, give you feedback from showings and open houses, and let you know whether you should accept a buyer’s offer up front or negotiate for a higher price.

It’s a good idea to talk to more than one listing agent before you sign on with one. As you’re interview listing agents, ask these questions so you can determine which agent will best help you sell quickly and for the most money possible.

1. What’s Your Real Estate Experience?

A listing agent who has been in real estate for several years or has sold plenty of properties has seen all kinds of scenarios. If this agent has overcome challenging home-selling hurdles before, he or she will know how to avoid or mitigate these stressful situations during your home sale, should they arise.

2. What’s Your Sale-to-List-Price Ratio?

This percentage will tell you if this agent consistently sells homes close to or over the list price, which is the price that’s set when the home goes on market.

3. What are Your Average Days on Market Stats?

In other words, how quickly do sellers’ homes go under contract with this agent? Agents who sell homes quickly often use advanced marketing or advertising techniques and are highly skilled negotiators.

seller texting her real estate agent4. How—And How Often—Will You Contact Me?

How frequently does the agent you’re interviewing provide updates or check in with his or her sellers? The best real estate agent will keep you updated about everything that’s going on with your listing—and contact you over your preferred method of communication, whether it’s email, phone call, or text.

5. When are You Available?

If you contact your listing agent after office hours or on the weekend, is your agent going to get back to you before Monday morning? If you work regular 9-to-5 hours, getting in touch with an agent who also only works those hours might prove difficult or inconvenient.

6. How Do You Plan to Market My Home?

Marketing is key to getting your listing in front of as many buyers as possible, including those searching online for properties, glancing at magazine and newspaper ads, and driving by homes that are for sale. During the interview phase, ask for the specifics of each agent’s marketing plan.

7. Can You Give Me at Least Three References?

Ask the agent you’re interviewing for testimonials from past home sellers—which can include online reviews or video testimonials—or a list of references. Call the agent’s past clients and ask general questions about their experiences to get an idea of the agent’s responsiveness, helpfulness, and tech-savviness.

We’re Available to Answer All of Your Questions

We’d be happy to answer your questions about listing your home, whether they’re these seven essential interview questions or general questions about the home selling process. Just give us a call or shoot us an email.

Staging Your Home

It’s time to prepare your home to sell. So where do you begin?

It’s a good idea to take an objective look at your home to see what needs repaired or replacstaged home in New Albanyed. Your house will be scrutinized by potential buyers who won’t overlook smudges around the light switches, boxes stacked in the laundry room, or peeling paint on the back splash. A spruced-up home makes a good first impression, which is essential for getting buyers to investigate further. Ultimately, you want buyers to picture themselves living in your home. This means you will need to clear your home of all distractions, such as clutter and personal photos on the walls.

It’s not personal. It just helps would-be buyers to visualize the home as their own. Let us take you through the process.

Clear Out the Clutter in Every Room

Decluttering your home makes every room look larger and feel neater, and it gives the impression that it has been well cared for. If a house is cluttered, buyers have trouble imagining themselves in it.

Be sure every room smells as good as it looks, and pay special attention to pet areas, nurseries, and bathrooms. Fresh paint and a one-time professional cleaning service can make your home look like new!

If you have acquired too much stuff over the years, sell some, donate it to charity, or throw it away. If you can’t bear to part with it, store it out of sight. A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out.

Neutralize

Neutral paint, décor, and carpeting create a home for any lifestyle. Neutralizing also helps buyers see their own things in your house and visualize living there. Eliminating distracting colors and accessories lets the buyer concentrate on positive impressions.

Depersonalize

Help buyers see themselves living in your home by removing personal items like photos and collections. You want the buyer to look at your home, not your possessions.

Declutter Closets

Closets and storage spaces are important considerations for home buyers. Store unused or out-of-season clothes so that your closet looks bigger and more organized.

Deep Clean

Have your carpets cleaned professionally; if they are badly worn or stained, replace them. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to improve the appearance of your home.

Make All Necessary Repairs

Making repairs eliminates buyer objections before they arise. If you think something is too much trouble to fix, chances are the buyer will think so, too. Buyers tend to think repairs will cost more than they do. Don’t start any major renovations since it’s unlikely you will recoup the cost, but do repair leaky faucets, slow drains, torn screens, broken windows and any other minor issues.

Curb Appeal

Creating an excellent first impression of your home starts from the outside and can make or break a sale. If potential buyers don’t like what they see on the outside, chances are they won’t look any further, so make your home’s exterior look its best.

It is crucial that your home look its best during showings. Buyers take this time to tour your house in person and consider whether it is their next home. Make this aspect of home selling easier with a concrete plan for before, during and after each showing. Your hard work will likely pay off in the form of an offer.

Contact us to learn more about home staging and selling real estate in New Albany.

9 Moments All Home Buyers Experience

You’re armed with your pre-approval letter, your wants and needs list, and your knowledge of the real estate market. Now comes the fun part: searching for homes! Like any part of buying a home, the home search has its ups and downs. But once you’re living in your new home, spending weekends shopping for furniture and décor, and enjoying all the amenities of your new location, you know you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Here are the moments only home buyers understand.

home buyers searching for homes

1. When You Hit “Search” for the First Time

You put your price range, number of bedrooms, and a couple of must-have features into an online home search tool, then hold your breath while the results page loads. Look at all those listings! Your new home is just a click away!

sign pointing to home for sale

2. When You Make a Day of Driving Through Your Favorite Neighborhoods

You find yourself giving this excuse to friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else who wants to make plans: “Sorry, I’m busy all weekend. I’m going to open houses!”

buyers looking at homes

3. When You Fall in Love with Several Different Homes

You just can’t help it! You’re picturing yourself reading by the window, cooking meals in the kitchen, decorating the bedrooms, exploring the trails nearby, and even running errands to the closest grocery store.

buyer who's stressed out

4. When You Go Overboard on Your Must-See List

Your Realtor warned you not to have a long list of homes. Now that you’ve seen a handful of properties, each new home is starting to look just like the one before it, and trying to keep them all straight is making your head hurt. The home buying struggle is real.

parents stressed out about listings

5. When Your Favorite Home Goes Off the Market

Another buyer scooped up your favorite property before you could even call your real estate agent for a showing, or worse, the home goes off market just before you’re about to make an offer.

attic stuffed with boxes and clutter

6. When You Tour a Home That Clearly Isn’t Ready to Sell

For a second you think you’re in the wrong place. There are fingerprint smudges on the windows, dust bunnies in the corners, clutter in the closets, family photos on the walls, home décor that’s easily 30 years old… Yikes. This looks nothing like the online listing photos you fell in love with!

looking at new listings

7. When a New Listing with All Your Criteria Hits the Market

This property has everything you’ve been searching for, and it just showed up in your inbox! You scramble to schedule a showing, make an offer, and thank your Realtor for signing you up for email alerts.

buyer talking with a Realtor

8. When You Still Don’t Understand Parts of the Closing Process

Even though your agent explained everything that happens after you make an offer, you’re still confused about some things, like the difference between “due diligence fee” and “earnest money.” Due diligence is a courtesy amount of a few hundred dollars you pay the seller to take their home off the market. (You get this money back.) But earnest money, which is a fraction of your down payment, you don’t get back.

new homeowners unpacking

9. When You Finally Move Into Your New Home

All those days spent researching neighborhoods, cancelling plans to go to showings, and taking pages and pages of notes about your favorite properties have paid off. The home is finally yours!

We’ll Help You Find Your New Home

The home buying process has its ups and downs, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. We’ll sign you up for alerts of new listings, coordinate showings, and guide you from your home search to the closing table. Ready to get started? Just give us a call!

Sale of Home Contingency Explained

A common question we get from our clients is what to do when an offer on their home includes a Sale of Home contingency. In a nutshell, a Sale of Home contingency means that the potential buyer has a home to sell, and that they will only move forward with the purchase of the new home if and when their property sells. Our clients are often uncertain about how to proceed when they receive an offer with this contingency. Of course every situation is unique, but in most cases, we advise the following.

Should You Accept the Home Buyer’s Offer?

Whether or not to accept an offer with a Sale of Home contingency depends on two key factors:

  1. The salability of the buyer’s property — You (with our help) need to evaluate how likely it is that the buyer’s home will sell within a reasonable timeframe. Factors such as how it is listed on the market (by a Realtor or FSBO, for example), its list price, location, and condition will all play a role in how quickly it sells.
  2. The dollar amount of the offer — If an offer is going to contain this type of contingency, then the dollar amount needs to be on the high end of what the homeowner is willing to accept. A “low ball” offer with a Sale of Home contingency is usually not worth considering.

If You Decide to Accept the Offer

If our clients consider these factors and choose to accept the offer, we strongly advise them to include language in the counter offer that will allow us to continue marketing and showing their home, even though it is in contract. We also include an escape clause that allows for our clients to accept a better offer. It works like this:

two professionals shaking handsOur clients receive another offer that they’d like to accept.

  • They accept the offer as a back-up offer.
  • They notify the first buyer of the new offer, and give the first buyer a certain amount of time (usually 48 hours) to remove the Sale of Home contingency.
  • The first buyer must either remove the contingency (and move forward with the purchase regardless of whether or not their home sells) or be “bumped” by the second buyer.
  • If the first buyer does not remove the contingency within the allotted time frame, then the second buyer takes over the primary position and the transaction moves forward.

Sale of Home contingencies are very common and, when handled properly, are just another component of a smooth transaction. We can provide more information about contingencies and what to expect when selling your home. Call us at 614-939-8944.

Beat the Winter Blues with Colorful Home Décor

The winter holidays and New Year’s have come and gone, and so have all the decorations. With no twinkling lights or festive ornaments brightening up its main living areas, your home can start to look a little bare. Not to worry! Here are a few winter home decorating ideas that can cheer you up and bring back the holiday sparkle. And if you’re planning to sell your home this season, these tips will also help you impress potential buyers with your warm, welcoming home.

seasonal wreath on doorKeep the Wreath on Your Front Door

A splash of color in your entryway can bring a smile to your face even on the gloomiest winter mornings. Add sprigs of holly, frosted pine cones, or a colorful bow to an evergreen wreath and hang it over your door for a fun and festive winter look. (Plus, home buyers pay special attention to your entryway, so a seasonal wreath is key to creating the best first impression.)

Get Cozy Around the Fire

Have a fireplace? Turn it on! Nothing beats a peaceful winter evening reading or sipping coffee by a crackling fire.

Spice Up Your Home

Cinnamon, vanilla, and spruce are cozy wintertime scents that can add a touch of magic to your home. The fragrances from scented candles will complement your winter home décor nicely (and create that special feeling of “home” for potential buyers).

blue and white furnishingsSwap Holiday Colors with Winter Palettes

An effortless way to transition from holiday décor to winter décor is to switch color schemes. These are color combinations HGTV recommends for decorating your living room, dining room, bedroom, and other spaces in your home:

  • Gray, white, silver, and turquoise
  • Red, silver, and white
  • Dark brown, dark purple, and reddish orange
  • Pale green, beige, and copper
  • Navy, beige, and white

Let the Winter Sunshine In

Keeping the curtains closed can make your home look dreary. Brighten up your living spaces with natural light during the daytime, and light a few candles when the sun goes down. Buyers love homes that are cheery, bright, and spacious; opening the windows not only fills your home with light, it also makes your home appear larger.

Keep Winter Blues at Bay When Selling

If you’re planning to sell your home this winter, keep these winter home décor tips in mind. Home buyers want to feel cozy and comfortable in a place they’ll soon call home; a bright and cheery interior will leave the best impression. We’re more than happy to talk with you about selling your home. Contact us if you’d like more staging tips and home selling resources.