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Selling a Home After Divorce

by Desi Sowers

Moving is in the top 5 of the 10 Most Stressful Life Events. Divorce ranks in the top five as well.   Put those two together and you have a meltdown in the making.  If you and your spouse own a home together and you are divorcing, you are going to have to figure out what you’re going to do about the house.  This can be challenging under the most amicable of situations, and can be devastating when there is bitterness and fighting.

Since your home is likely the greatest asset that you share, selling it is often necessary when parting ways.  Sentimental value may entice one or the other of you to want to keep the home, but financial implications may keep you from doing so.  Understanding how divorce affects the sale of a home is crucial.  The emotional aspect of splitting up your family can sometimes impair your judgement, but making a poor decision regarding your home can have lasting ramifications, long after the divorce is finalized. 

Whether one spouse wants to buy out the other and keep the home or both want to sell and split the equity, selling a house while getting divorced is a rocky road that needs to be navigated intelligently.  When two people are willing to deal with each other in a peaceful, respectful way, it certainly makes the whole process easier. But often this is not the case in these situations.  Division of a home is not simple. 

When each spouse contributed to purchase the home - even if one paid more than the other - you are both going to want your fair share out of it.  Ideally, you will be able to work with an attorney or mediator to come to an agreement out of court, but if you can’t, a judge will decide for you.  This can be a very unpleasant experience for all parties involved.  If both your incomes were factored in the purchase of the house, chances are when you split that in half, neither of you can afford it on your own. If that is the case, the best solution is to sell the home and divide the assets.  There are also Tax Implications that should be considered when you are trying to decide if you should sell before you divorce or after.

Should one of you decide to stay in the home, there are a couple of different ways to make that happen.  First, if you have the financial means to do so, you can take over the mortgage by refinancing.  This means you must qualify for the loan and be able to make the monthly payments on your own.  Your ex-spouse will be completely out of the picture.  Another way is to continue co-owning the property.  Perhaps you have children and want to keep them in their home. While this is the least disruptive option, it is precarious and requires a lot of trust.  It would have to be a very civil and friendly divorce for this to work because both parties will be responsible for the mortgage and upkeep of the house.  The bottom line is that if you plan to stay in the home, you better be sure you can afford it.  It would be prudent to work out a  budget before you make the decision.

With all the financial and emotional issues that get wrapped up in the sale of a home during divorce, it’s crucial that you know what you want prior to meeting with a Realtor. It is best for you to meet with your attorneys for them to guide you through the process of deciding how to split the equity. Once you’ve done that, seek out an experienced Realtor with exceptional communication skills who will gently guide you through the process with as little stress as possible.

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com

Preparing to Sell - 5 Things You Must Fix Before Listing Your Home

by Desi Sowers

If you want the best price for your house, you may have to do some repairs before selling it. Potential buyers will be willing to spend more for a home that doesn’t need a lot of work.  Here are 5 important things to fix before selling:

     - Exterior - When was the last time the exterior of your house was painted?  Is the paint faded and chipping?  Is wood rotting around the windows?  Is your front door dingy?  First Impressions matter when it comes to selling your home and buyers will get their first impression when they see the outside of your house whether in pictures or in person.  Don’t forget the landscaping.  A well-kept lawn and simple, but clean flower beds will go a long way toward creating an enticing aesthetic for your property.

     - Interior Paint - If the walls are looking a bit shabby and the trim a bit grimy, painting is a quick and easy fix.  The same applies if you went through a crazy color phase a few years back and decorated with hues that might not appeal to everyone.  Choose neutral colors that will allow buyers to focus on the spaces without being distracted. Behr's Paint Color of the Year 2018

     - Kitchen - The kitchen is one of the most important rooms that buyers focus on when looking at a house.  So, if yours is looking run-down you will want to update it.  It will be worth the investment to replace appliances that are on their last legs or putting in a new granite counter.  Or it might be as simple as repainting cabinets and adding shiny, new handles.

     - Bathroom - Nothing turns buyers off faster than an unsightly bathroom.  Sparkling, clean fixtures and a fresh coat of paint will go a long way toward impressing someone searching for their dream home.  Inexpensive touches like a decorative mirror or a lovely picture on the wall will add to the ambiance without breaking the bank.

     - Flooring - If your carpets are stained or thread bare, it is worth your while to replace them.  Otherwise, buyers may ask for a carpet allowance when they make an offer on your house.  The same applies if your vinyl floors are in bad shape.  Hardwoods are always popular, but you may want to consider getting them refinished if they are looking old and scruffy.

It may seem counter intuitive to spend money on repairing or fixing up a house you are getting ready to sell, but at the end of the day, it will not only help you sell your house faster, but you will get a better price for it too.

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal Without Breaking the Bank!

by Desi Sowers

When selling a home, curb appeal is one of the most important factors in attracting buyers.  Your yard and the front of your home are the first thing they will see, and while nobody should judge a book by its cover, many people do. The appearance of the outside of the home can determine if a potential buyer will even be willing to look at the inside.  So, attractive curb appeal is vital to getting your home sold.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get great curb appeal.  There are many small, inexpensive home improvements that can be done to create a look that will impress!

  • Give a fresh coat of paint to the front door, trim or shutters.

Nothing will brighten up your home’s façade like a bright, fresh coat of paint!Costing only about $30 a gallon you can get a lot of bang for your buck.Choose a bold hue that will stand out, while still complementing the overall color of your home.

25 + Front Door Colors and Ideas for the Prettiest House on the Block

  • Add some creative new house numbers.

Installing some new house numbers will not only look good, it will also make it easy to find! Be creative and utilize materials that will match the finish of your exterior light fixtures.Make sure the numbers stand out!

  • Change exterior lighting.

If your light fixtures are looking shabby, it’s time to replace them. Consider the design of your home and look for fixtures that add both function and style. Save yourself some time by using fixtures that have the same mounting system as the ones you will be removing.

  • Replace your mailbox.

Whether your mailbox is by the road or attached to your house, it can either add to or take away from your curb appeal depending on how it looks.You can find a new mailbox for as little as $20.This quick project will go a long way toward improving the look of your home.Just make sure you are following city/county/HOA regulations when installing it.

  • Install flower boxes.

If you want to add some color to your home exterior, there is no better way to do it than with flowers!Try adding some inexpensive flower boxes to your front porch railings or under your windows.You can even DIY them in an afternoon! Choose flowers with colors that will complement your home.

Beautiful Window Boxes

If you are thinking about selling your home, contact professional Realtor Desi Sowers and let her help you get your house on the market and sold for the best possible price. Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: diynetwork.com

Tips for Handling a Last-Minute Move

by Desi Sowers

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control.  Perhaps a change in employment is forcing a move that you weren’t expecting. Other times you might have known you were moving, but were so busy that you waited until the last minute to start preparing.  Either way, it can seem overwhelming.  Whether your move is unexpected or you are just an expert procrastinator, here are some tips to help you get through a last-minute move:

Think Logically - A last minute move might make you feel paralyzed with anxiety over where to even start.  There is so much to be done and the “to do list” can seem insurmountable. Don’t despair. The key word here is “list”.  Take a deep breath, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of what you need to do. As you complete each task, simply cross it off the list. Before you know it, there will be more items crossed off than there are to do.  The first step should be hiring a moving company or renting a moving truck (depending on whether you are using movers or doing it yourself). It can sometimes be challenging to find movers and/or trucks available last minute, so make sure to do this as soon as you know you are moving.  There are tools you can use such as a Moving Company Directory to help you find reputable companies in your area.  Make sure to get two or three quotes, but then decide quickly.  Once you have the logistics worked out, you can get on with the rest of the tasks on your list.

Eliminate Items You Don’t Want or Need - Packing is quite a chore and the less you have to pack, the easier it will be. With a last-minute move, easy packing is all the more important.  As you go through each room in your house, separate items you no longer want or need into three categories: donate, recycle, and throw away.  Now is not the time for sentimentality.  Don’t make the mistake of packing everything thinking you will sort through it after you move.  Get this done before you go and you will have less to pack, which will make setting up your new home easier.  Once you have your piles sorted get rid of them immediately.  Donation Town is a great resource for finding places where you can donate items in your area.

Create an Essentials Bag - Prior to packing, set aside an overnight bag and fill it with essential items that you can’t afford to misplace.  Items such as medications, electronics chargers, important papers, toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes should go in this bag.  This bag is especially important for a last-minute move where things might get a bit chaotic. You may also want to consider putting together a Moving Day Survival Kit.

Time to Pack - Packing in a hurry means there won’t be much time to think and organize.  The important thing is to get everything into boxes so your possessions make it from your current home to your new home.  Don’t worry about trying to pack only “like” items in each box.  Put things where they fit. You can sort through everything once you’ve moved.  Keep a marker handy to label the boxes in a general manner. For example, simply label which room a box should go to such as kitchen or master bedroom.  It’s ok if there are miscellaneous items that don’t belong in the room the box is labeled for, as you can put them where they belong later.  Use towels, socks and blankets to wrap around breakable items.  Save yourself time and boxes by packing clothes as they are.  Use garbage bags to wrap around hanging clothes using the bag’s strings to tie around the hangers.  Keep clothes in dresser drawers and wrap the drawers in packing materials to be moved as is.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help - This is a big task you’re taking on, particularly since it must be done quickly.  Family and friends can and will help if you ask. And with help, you will get the job done quicker, which is the goal in a last-minute move!  To show your appreciation you can order a meal for your helpers while they are there.

Moving is stressful regardless of how much time you have, but when moving quickly focus on the end goal…which is getting all your belongings to your new home as safely as possible.

If you are planning to move and need to sell your home, let professional Realtor Desi Sowers assist you in getting your house on the market. Give her a call at (540) 320-1328 today!

Affordable Home Staging Hacks

by Desi Sowers

Chances are, if you are getting ready to sell your home, you are also preparing to purchase a new home. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on your current property.  However, you certainly want to get the best price possible when selling it, and according to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. As you can see, it will pay off in the end to stage your home to entice potential buyers.

Some people will hire a Home Staging Professional to get the job done.  While it might seem easier than doing it yourself, it is not the only way to get that SOLD sign planted in your front yard.  There are some simple, yet effective home-staging hacks that you can do that won’t break your budget:

  • Roll Out a Welcome Mat - Sounds simple, right?  It is!  First impressions mean everything when selling your home.  Also, prospective buyers tend to linger by the front door before the real estate agent opens the home for viewing, so an inviting entrance is crucial. A new welcome mat can cost as little as $15.  Purchase a modern mat that compliments the style of your home.  To further enhance the entryway, add a little green with some fresh plants.  An enticing entrance will make buyers want to see more!
  • Mount Mirrors in Strategic Spots - Every home has spaces like a dim hallway or small space that lacks natural light.  To spruce up these areas, hang a few mirrors.  They add extra light to rooms that look dark, and Make Your Space Look Bigger.  They will pack an extra punch if placed next to or directly across from a window because they will pull in more sun.  For a more decorative look, create a collage of several mini mirrors in different shapes and sizes rather than just slapping one large mirror on the wall. You can find inexpensive mirrors at craft stores and discount home stores.
  • Set Tables and Serving Areas for Entertaining - A home filled with friends, food and laughter is a happy one!  Paint a picture of what entertaining in your home will be like for potential buyers.  Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing. Lay out cloth napkins, wine glasses and solid plates in the dining room. Use matching mugs and bowls in the kitchen to produce the feel of family meals.
  • Replace Personal Photos with Art Work - Over the years, you have turned your house into a home by decorating with family portraits and personal mementos.  But potential buyers are going to want to be able to envision themselves living there and that is hard to do with your family members present in the form of pictures in every room.  So, get a head start on packing up your house by putting your pictures away and replacing them with art work that compliments the style of the home.  You can find inexpensive art at discount stores or you can print beautiful landscape photos to put in frames.
  • Make the Bathroom Look Elegant with White Linens - Spruce up your bathroom with crisp, fresh, all-white linens.  White towels, bath mats, and shower curtains give the room an instant update.  They inspire the feeling of a luxury spa without spending a lot of money.  Take it a step further by including some Spa-Like Displays.  Simple additions like an orchid, candles and special soaps will go a long way.
  • Arrange Decorative Scenes - Decorative displays can give a cozy, lived-in ambience to a house.  Assembling classy vignettes of colorful vases, lanterns, books, plants, baskets, and other items atop dressers, counters and bookshelves will make a house feel more like a home. Group items in odd numbers and in varying heights and shapes while keeping them in the same color family. You will be amazed at what you can find to use in your house, but if you need to buy some things, you can mix in inexpensive pieces from craft and discount stores.  Done properly, these displays will have people feeling like they are looking at rooms right out of home décor magazines…and that appeals to prospective buyers.

If you are preparing to put your home on the market, you don’t have to do it alone!  Professional Realtor Desi Sowers can help you get your house staged and sold in no time!  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: realtor.com

Listing Your House this Summer? Keep These Tips in Mind!

by Desi Sowers

Spring is flying by and soon summer will be upon us.  Summer is not the most popular time to sell a house for several reasons: people are going on vacation, kids are out of school, and warm weather activities keep you busy.  But sometimes the timing cannot be helped.  Life happens and circumstances may require that you move during the sunny season.  If that is the case, here are some tips for attracting buyers during the summer months:

 

  • CURB APPEAL

Make a great first impression with curb appeal. Mow your lawn twice a week. Grass grows faster this time of year and needs mowing more often.Try mowing diagonally every other time to add dimension to your lawn.Make sure bushes are trimmed and plant flowers.Keep your porch, sidewalk and driveway swept and create a warm and inviting entryway to your home. 20 Ways to Add Curb Appeal

  • DECORATE WITH SUMMER ACCENTS

Utilize calming colors such as blues and greens to decorate the interior of your home.If you have dark-colored accent pillows and throw rugs replace them with brighter, summer hues. Keep it simple.You don’t have to spend a lot of money; something as basic as an inexpensive blanket draped over a chair can give a room a soothing vibe.

  • BRING THE LIGHT INSIDE

If you have heavy drapes, remove them. They make a room look smaller.Pull blinds all the way up.Use tie backs to open lighter curtains.The only time you should leave blinds/curtains closed is if there is an undesirable element on the other side of the window such as your neighbor’s trash can…but even then, keep them slightly open to allow light into the room.

  • HAVE FLEXIBLE SHOWING HOURS

Showing your home while still living there is challenging, but the more flexible you are, the more people will look at your house.

  • SPARKLE AND SHINE

Metals give a “summery” feel.It doesn’t matter which ones; gold or silver, brass or pewter.Mix and match them using vases, picture frames, mirrors, utensils, goblets, hanging planters etc.Decorating with Metals

  • OFFER SUMMER BEVERAGES AND SNACKS

Fill your kitchen sink with ice and have chilled drinks available for visitors.Have a few light snacks for them to enjoy.Have bowls filled with citrus fruits to brighten up your kitchen and give it a sunny feel.

  • CREATE GOOD SMELLS NATURALLY

There are a lot of ways to bring summer scents indoors. Pleasant, fresh aromas will make your home feel inviting and comfortable. Bring the Scents of Summer into Your Home

  • CONTROL THE INDOOR TEMPERATURE

If you are one to be stingy with the air conditioning, now the time to stop.It will be worth the tiny increase in your electric bill to have your home be at a comfortable temperature for visitors.There is nothing worse than walking into a stuffy, warm house when it is hot outside.

If you’re ready to put your house on the market this summer, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers can help you get it listed and sold for the best possible price.  Give her a call at 540-320-1328 and enjoy the excellent service that Desi and her Team of Professionals provide!

Photo Credit: cornishcrabbers.org

Preparing to sell your home can be a stressful process.  Often you will find yourself making improvements just for the sake of the sale.  While some of these enhancements may boost the look of your property and make it easier to sell your home, you will be surprised to discover that they do not increase the value of your home.  In fact, some improvements might actually detract from it.  Here is a list of 6 “home improvements” that do not increase the value of your home:

  1. EXTENSIVE PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPING

Landscaping choices are a personal preference.If you are going to invest in elaborate landscaping, you should do it for your own enjoyment, because no matter how grand your yard is, it’s not going to bring you big bucks upon resale.

  1. NEW ROOF, GUTTERS, SPRINKLERS OR HVAC

There are certainly buyers in the market who will be looking for homes that have newer features, but they won’t pay more for them.Replacing things that are broken or past their life expectancy is considered Home Maintenance and not something buyers expect to pay for.

  1. SWIMMING POOL AND/OR PERSONAL SPA

While water-related improvements can provide a lot of fun and entertainment for your family, the cost of installing a pool or spa never finds its way back to you. In fact, some buyers will ask that you take the spa with you or won’t purchase a house with a swimming pool.Installing a pool or spa should only be done for your own pleasure.

  1. MAKING DATED IMPROVMENTS

If you think you might be selling your house, you need to be careful about making improvements that are not in style. For example, you might love white appliances and countertops in your kitchen, but because these are not currently trendy, potential buyers are not likely to feel the same way. Home Improvement Trends 2018

  1. PAINTING YOUR HOUSE

Painting may be the single most cost-effective improvement you can make before selling your home, but it won’t return any bang for your buck unless you do the painting yourself. Fresh paint on the exterior or interior of your home absolutely makes the home more saleable, but an appraiser will not give you a credit boost for it.

  1. SOLAR PANELS

The people selling you those solar panels will tell you that they will improve the value of your home and add to your bottom line profit, but it’s not true. You get zero approved value for solar panel installation.

If you are thinking about selling your house, Desi Sowers can help you determine what you need to do to prepare if for the market.Give her a call today at 540-320-1328and let her professional expertise give you peace of mind.You are in great hands with Desi!

When choosing a new home, there are usually several items on the buyer’s list of priorities, but when kids are involved, school systems often top that list. According to the latest National Association of Realtors’ "Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers", more than half of all homebuyers with children under 18 years of age rate the quality of the local school district as a major factor influencing their choice of neighborhood.  People are often willing to pay more and sacrifice other desires to make sure they are in the best school district for their children. Private Schools may be a feasible alternative for some, but that is not the case for many. Even if buyers don’t have children (or plan to have them), they may still want to buy in where the schools have the best reputation because it will have a positive effect on resale value down the road. But keep in mind, that may mean that available homes in that area will harder to come by and might be more expensive than comparable homes in other areas. It’s also important to note though, that a poorly ranked school district does not automatically mean that the overall quality of local education in an area is poor.  You must do your research.  Consider the age of the schools, their physical condition, the student-to-teacher ratios and standardized test scores.  Understanding how the school system works in the New River Valley will be helpful in your search as well. Information is readily available online, but the best thing to do is to talk to someone who knows the area well. If you’re relocating to the New River Valley area,  Desi Sowers can not only help you find the perfect home, she can help you find the perfect home in the right school district!

Desi Sowers is an award-winning Realtor with over a decade of experience helping clients buy and sell homes in the New River Valley.  Call her at 540-320-1328 and start your home search today!!

Photo Credit: sheknows.com

Showing Your Home to Potential Buyers: Tips for Success

by Desi Sowers

When potential buyers come to look at your home, it’s vital that they feel like it could be theirs.  Here are some tips for showing your house that will help engage buyers emotionally and leave them feeling like they have found their future home.

  1. MAKE THEM FEEL WELCOME

The buyer may be a guest in your home, but don’t make them feel like an intruder.The idea is for them to be able to imagine it as their own.Leave the house while they are looking so that they can speak freely and comfortably about what they are seeing.Let them take their time. If they feel rushed they won’t have a positive experience.Leave a bowl of candy or small treats near the front door with a short note thanking them for coming to see your home.

  1. CHECK THE TEMPERATURE

If it is hot outside, turn on the AC. Set the temperature a couple of degrees cooler than usual so that it runs consistently and isn’t kicking on and off while people are looking. The same applies with heat when it is cold outside (set temp a couple of degrees warmer than usual).You want them to be comfortable in your house so that they will linger as long as possible.

  1. CREATE A MOOD

You want potential buyers to get good vibes from your house the minute they walk through the door.When weather appropriate, light a fire in the fireplace.Set your dining table in a way that is appealing.Have soft music playing.Create and ambiance that is irresistible!

  1. BE CAREFUL WITH SCENTS

Some people are very sensitive to certain smells, so don’t spray the air or use plug in deodorizers.Avoid burning strongly scented candles for the same reason.If weather permits, open the windows (unless it is too noisy outdoors).Most people enjoy the smell of freshly baked cookies, but if you are going to bake, make sure you leave some treats out for the visitors so they aren’t disappointed! The 50 Best Cookie Recipes in the World

  1. MAKE IT VISUALLY PLEASING

Open window coverings to let in natural light.Display appealing seasonal photos in prominent places. If your yard isn’t looking so fabulous, keep window blinds partially closed so that buyers aren’t distracted by what’s outside while looking at the interior of the home.Keep pets and pet paraphernalia out of sight.

 LIGHT IT UP

Turn on every light in the house…even the closet lights. Brighten dark rooms with extra lighting.  A spot light on the floor behind a piece of furniture is a great idea for brightening up a room with few windows. 

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 or Email Desi today for assistance in selling your home!

Photo Credit: outreachmagazine.com

Worth it or Not? Open House Anxiety

by Desi Sowers

Home owners and Realtors often debate whether having an open house is beneficial or not.  Some sellers will insist that having an open house is the best way to sell their home, while others will want nothing to do with having potential buyers traipse through their home.  Real estate professionals have different views on this topic as well.  Some swear by open houses and feel they are critical to sales, while others never hold them and some just have them occasionally.

So, the question remains…if you are selling your home, should you hold an open house?  Here is a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision:

Pros to holding an open house:

  • Attract buyers who may not know how to start the home buying process. Purchasing a home is a process that many people are not familiar with, especially first-time home buyers.  People new to home buying will need a significant amount of guidance and advice.  A positive that may result from having an open house is the possibility of a buyer who doesn’t know where to start coming to see your home.  You may also get the attention of potential buyers who just happen to drive by and see the sign for the open house. 
  • Additional exposure.  One of the most important jobs of a Realtor representing sellers, is making sure their clients’ home is getting ample exposure.  Open houses can give extra exposure through promotional advertising such as street signs, newspaper ads and internet ads.
  • Allows buyers to look at house without feeling pressured.   With the laid-back atmosphere of an open house, prospective buyers will feel more comfortable looking around with little to no pressure from the Realtor or seller.  An interested buyer might want time to analyze the home in detail without someone looking over their shoulder.  It also provides the buyer time to look at specific details of the home that will help them decide if it is the right house for them.

Cons to holding an open house:

  • Slim chance of a sale.  The truth is that a very small percentage of homes sell as a result of open houses.  Honestly, the person that benefits most is the realtor.  Open houses provide the realtor with potential clients.  Private showings of your home are much more likely to result in a buyer than open houses.
  • Unqualified buyers.  One of the first steps in the home buying process is obtaining a Mortgage Pre-Approval. Getting a mortgage pre-approval is essential for knowing what you can afford when buying a home.  At an open house, you may find many people walking through your home who can’t afford it.  It is a waste of time for you and your realtor to have people looking at your home when they cannot afford to possibly purchase it.
  • Nosy neighbors and Looky Loos. Open houses often attract inquisitive neighbors who simply want to see your house and compare it to their own.  They also might just want to see how you have your home decorated.  Looky loos are people who go to open houses with no intention of buying a home.  They just like to look!

The pros and cons of having an open house should be carefully considered before deciding whether to have one. With today’s technology and social media, there are a lot of other ways for people to see your home, but with the right Realtor holding the open house, it can still be the best way to impress potential buyers. If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, contact Desi Sowers and let her explain how an open house can be beneficial for you.  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

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